Redman's back is a question mark

Because of an irritated lower back condition that has troubled Chris Redman since he attended Louisville, the Baltimore Ravens' quarterback was held out against the Pittsburgh Steelers and replaced by veteran Jeff Blake. Redman's medical outlook remained in doubt Sunday after the Ravens' 31-18 loss at Ravens Stadium.

The first-year starter said he will undergo a magnetic resonance imaging exam today to determine what's causing the discomfort to his back and numbness in his legs and toes.

Symptoms of shooting pain began Friday night, forcing Redman out of Saturday's practice session with no significant improvement before kickoff Sunday afternoon.

In college, Redman said he experienced a herniated disc and a ruptured disc. He said he never underwent surgery.

"It wasn't this bad in college," Redman said. "Pain never really shot down my legs before. I think it's just kind of been pounding on it for a while. It's been bothering me for a couple of weeks.

"Friday, it kicked up and it was pretty bad. My toes are all numb and dead right now. It will heal on its own."

Redman seemed to have a strong aversion to undergoing surgery, insisting his back tends to feel better with adequate time to heal. Ravens coach Brian Billick was noncommittal on when Redman would be available again.

"I was concerned," Billick said. "I was going to base the decision on how strong he was able to throw, but because of the neurological implications of it, the way it runs down his leg, the tenderness in the ankle, this will be a medical decision as to when he's ready to come back."

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