Notebook: Gregg on the mend

OWINGS MILLS -- Baltimore Ravens nose guard Kelly Gregg has designs on playing in Sunday's game against the Houston Texans, and plans to test out his left knee at practice Wednesday after undergoing arthroscopic surgery last month. Gregg is expected to be in full equipment after increasing his activity level last week prior to being held out of a 17-10 win over the Cincinnati Bengals.

"We'll put some pads on this week and see how she feels, and, hopefully, I'll get out there," Gregg said. "I thought there might be a chance to play Sunday, but I didn't get out there with pads last week. So, no reason to risk it with the way the guys played. Wednesday is the big test."

Meanwhile, Ravens coach John Harbaugh expressed optimism that running back Willis McGahee will return after missing the opening game with a left knee injury that required arthroscopic surgery last month.

With McGahee out, the Ravens rushed for 229 yards and averaged five yards per carry.

"He needs to be ready to, and I'm very confident he'll be ready to go this week," Harbaugh said. "We felt like in an emergency situation with a limited number of reps, that would be the standard last week. Unfortunately, we were unable to get him out there. If he can do the job, he'll be out there."

Although free safety Ed Reed played with a nerve impingement in his neck and left shoulder without aggravating the injury, Harbaugh acknowledged that it's likely to be an ongoing situation.

"It's a nerve issue," he said. "So, it's going to be day-to-day."

Cornerback Corey Ivy described his right ankle sprain as a minor injury, adding that tests didn't reveal ligament damage and he expects to play against the Texans.

"It feels good," Ivy said. "Hopefully, it will get better and I'll be practicing Wednesday. I was running to the ball and an offensive lineman rolled up on me."

Linebacker Brendon Ayanbadejo (leg contusion) is limping around.

BLOCKING PRAISED: With rookie quarterback Joe Flacco not sacked once and the running backs converting all six 3rd-and-1 situations, it was regarded as a good start by the offensive line. "We're still working on our chemistry," left tackle Jared Gaither said. "There's still room for us to continue to grow."

It was the first regular-season game since All-Pro left tackle Jonathan Ogden retired in June. It also marked a new configuration of Gaither and right tackle Adam Terry, left guard Ben Grubbs, right guard Marshal Yanda and center Jason Brown.

"They came off the ball, and they were physical," Harbaugh said. "They were physical for four quarters, and they can be more physical."

Now, the Ravens plan to add four-time Pro Bowl right tackle Willie Anderson to the mix. The former Bengals starter signed a three-year, $11 million contract last week.

While Anderson is scheduled to play against Houston, Harbaugh declined to specify whether he'll start or rotate in.

"Willie can make any offensive line more physical," he said. "We have a plan, and, hopefully, it's a good one."

The Texans feature star defensive end Mario Williams, who had 14 sacks last season and registered two sacks, six tackles and forced a fumble in a loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers.

HEAP STRUGGLES: After missing the majority of the preseason with a right calf injury, two-time Pro Bowl tight end Todd Heap looked rusty Sunday as he dropped a potential touchdown pass and lost a fumble.

In a rough day overall, Heap also suffered a back contusion.

"The thing about Todd is that he's his own harshest critic," Harbaugh said. "He did a lot of good things that you didn't see out there. His blocking was superb.

"That's hard to do when you're coming off a no-preseason, no-contact type situation in games. The pass-catching stuff? He's obviously done that throughout his career, and I have no doubt that he's going to continue to do that."

QUICK HITS: Defensive coordinator Rex Ryan's imaginative schemes, including eight defensive backs, helped the Ravens limit the Bengals to 154 yards and eight first downs with their lone touchdown coming on a fumble return. "I don't know if any of it was new to mankind, but I know what you're saying," Harbaugh said. "It was stuff he hasn't been doing in the preseason, for sure, and stuff they hadn't seen. He was very creative." ... With Hurricane Ike ravaging the Carribean and expected to hit Houston prior to Sunday, Harbaugh didn't seem concerned since Reliant Stadium has a retractable roof. "I haven't even thought about it," he said. "The game's inside, right? We'll be good to go. We'll play." ... Harbaugh requested that equipment manager Ed Carroll order commemorative game balls for every player and coach as well as one for team owner Steve Bisciotti.

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


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