Notebook: Rolle returns to practice

OWINGS MILLS -- In an encouraging sign, Baltimore Ravens cornerback Samari Rolle returned to practice for the first time in nearly two weeks following a recurrence of his undisclosed illness. Although Rolle has already been ruled out for Sunday's game against the Cleveland Browns and the Ravens didn't upgrade his status, the team is optimistic that he might be back against the San Diego Chargers.

"Anytime you get Samari back, it's a good thing," Ravens coach Brian Billick said after practice Thursday. "He's feeling better, and he's gone through the evaluations. We're hopeful for next week."

Rolle hadn't practiced since Nov. 1 after suffering another flare-up of a condition that has caused him to miss five games this season. The illness hospitalized the former Pro Bowl defensive back for nearly two days, and he acknowledged suffering temporary memory loss. He also had an adverse reaction to the medication he was prescribed to treat the illness, causing a loss of coordination.

Now, Rolle looks like he's on a healthy track again.

Meanwhile, the Ravens are hoping to get Pro Bowl cornerback Chris McAlister back on the field for the first time since an Oct. 14 win over the St. Louis Rams.

McAlister has been dealing with a strained knee, but has practiced on a limited basis for two consecutive days.

"Yeah, he's come through two pretty good days, so I'm very optimistic," Billick said.

Added defensive coordinator Rex Ryan: "That's going to be big for us. C-Mac wants to get out there, so we're hopeful and thankful that we're thinking he's going to be out there."

Plus, McAlister has a score to settle with the Browns, particularly wide receiver Braylon Edwards. Edwards burst past McAlister for a 78-yard touchdown catch during the Ravens' 27-13 loss on Sept. 30.

"That's just the competitor in me," McAlister said. "Cleveland, whoever the guy, whoever the team is, it really wouldn't matter. I'm just excited to have that chance to hopefully go out there and play again."

Edwards has caught 43 passes for 752 yards and 10 touchdowns, trailing only tight end Kellen Winslow (47 catches, 703 yards, four scores) for the team lead in receptions.

"I think he's always had that raw talent," Ryan said of Edwards, who was drafted second overall out of the University of Michigan. "He's a tremendous athlete, one of the premier vertical receivers in the game.

"I don't think we're the only team having trouble covering this guy. Obviously, he's a big, huge, fast athlete that's making some big plays for them."

INJURY UPDATE: Free safety Ed Reed was added to the injury report with a back injury and wasn't present during the portion of workouts that's open to the media.

"I think he'll be okay," Billick said.

Return specialist Yamon Figurs (knee sprain) was upgraded to full participation in practice along with special-teams ace Gary Stills (knee).

Tight end Todd Heap (hamstring), safety Gerome Sapp (hamstring) and tight end Daniel Wilcox (sprained toe) didn't practice.

However, Wilcox did run sprints before practice and appears to be working his way back into playing shape. Wilcox has been out since hurting his left big toe against the Browns.

For the Browns, cornerback Leigh Bodden (back), linebackers D'Qwell Jackson (ankle), Willie McGinest (hamstring) and Antwan Peek (knee) and defensive lineman Shaun Smith (knee) were limited in practice.

STEPPING IN: With Demetrius Williams sidelined indefinitely with a high-ankle sprain, Devard Darling is now the Ravens' third wide receiver.

In the final year of his contract, Darling has caught two passes for 26 yards. He'll take an opportunity wherever he can get one.

"It's a chance to show what I can do," Darling said. "I'm ready to go and perform."

Darling has a strong background with quarterback Kyle Boller, who will start Sunday with Steve McNair out for at least the next two to three games with a partially dislocated non-throwing shoulder, since both players have worked together often with the second-team offense.

"Of course, I'm always comfortable with Kyle," Darling said. "I know where he likes to push the ball down the field. On every route, you got to be ready. The ball comes at you pretty fast."

QUICK HITS: Defensive end Trevor Pryce recorded six tackles, four quarterback hits and a sack in the loss to the Cincinnati Bengals, his second game back since recuperating from a broken left wrist. "He's playing great," Ryan said. "He stayed in great shape. It's just, 'What can he do physically with his hand?' For the most part, that's why you see him primarily in passing situations. We are working back into having him playing more run as he gets more comfortable with that wrist and hand." ...

Billick predicted that former Ravens running back Jamal Lewis will receive a warm welcome from the fans at M&T Bank Stadium. Lewis and Billick clashed during his final years in Baltimore prior to being cut this winter. "I think it will be very positive," Billick said. "It's always interesting to me because I think they were very critical of him when he left, but I'm sure they're going to be very embracing of him now that he's coming back. It will be fun to have him back here." ....

McNair hasn't commented publicly since his injury. "I think he's doing fine, he's like any other professional," said wide receiver Derrick Mason, one of McNair's closest friends on the team. "He's handling it the best he can. Once he gets himself fully healthy, he'll get himself out of the rut he's in. I'm not worried about him. I've seen him come through difficult times before."

Aaron Wilson covers the Baltimore Ravens for the Carroll County Times and the Annapolis Capital.

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