Ravens bracing for Big Baby

OWINGS MILLS -- The Baltimore Ravens' offensive line is bracing for an encounter with a true heavyweight as they've been tasked with blocking one of the biggest defensive linemen in the league this week.

Cleveland Browns gargantuan nose guard Shaun "Big Baby" Rogers is listed on the roster at 6-foot-4, 350 pounds, but has been known to tip the scales a few biscuits over 400 pounds during his time with the Detroit Lions.

The two-time Pro Bowl defensive lineman is a lot more active and younger than hefty former Browns nose guard Ted Washington, who also approached the 400-pound mark.

"Shaun is very athletic and moves around more fluidly since he's had a great offseason," center Jason Brown said. "He's doing a lot better than he was in recent years. Ted clogged the middle up, but Shaun is moving around in there."

The Ravens are likely to double-team Rogers, who recorded seven sacks last season and returned an interception for a touchdown. He entered this season with 447 tackles, 29 1/2 sacks and 11 blocked kicks. He has registered one sack this year.

"He's definitely a great player," offensive guard Ben Grubbs said. "The weight is still the same as they had with Ted, but he's just a better athlete. We just have to be on our game and hit him like we hit everybody else."

Squaring off with a bulky defensive lineman isn't a new experience for the Ravens since they have to try to slow down 6-4, 340-pound tackle Haloti Ngata during practice.

"Haloti is really close to 350, so we see it every day in practice against our guys," Grubbs said. "I think we'll be ready for it."

INJURY REPORT: Although nose guard Kelly Gregg hopes to play Sunday, he hasn't practiced in a week due to a surgically-repaired left knee.

It's unclear if he'll be able to play this week.

Meanwhile, cornerback Fabian Washington was limited in practice due to a bulging disc in his neck.

"I expect to play since the neck is feeling better every day," Washington said. "I have a slight bulging disc and it's starting to move back into place and I'm getting all my strength in my arm back. Unless coach has other plans, I think I'm going to play this week.

"I've never had pain in my right arm like this before. It went weak on me. Now, my strength is back in my right arm."

When asked if he's potentially at risk due to the injury, Washington replied: "The doctors told me I have the same chance as anybody else to get hurt, so I like those odds."

Linebacker Brendon Ayanbadejo (right ankle), cornerback Derrick Martin (right shoulder) and wide receivers Demetrius Williams (hamstring) and Yamon Figurs (hamstring) were limited in practice.

While Ayanbadejo returned to the locker room after a few special-teams drills, Martin, Williams and Figurs seemed fine.

"My leg is much better," Figurs said.

The Ravens ruled out quarterback Troy Smith (tonsil infection).

Tight end Todd Heap (wrist) participated fully in practice.

Not listed on the injury report this week: cornerbacks Chris McAlister (swollen right knee) and Corey Ivy (sprained right ankle), fullbacks Le'Ron McClain (ankle) and Lorenzo Neal (illness), safety Ed Reed (nerve impingement), defensive end Trevor Pryce (back), running back Willis McGahee (arthroscopic left knee surgery), Brown (ankle) and offensive tackle Jared Gaither (ankle).

Four Cleveland starters didn't practice, including linebacker Willie McGinest (hamstring), guard Eric Steinbach (shoulder), wide receiver Donte Stallworth (strained quadriceps) and safety Mike Adams (non-injury related).

Three starters were limited: running back Jamal Lewis (ankle), wide receiver Braylon Edwards (shoulder) and defensive tackle Shaun Smith (hand).

BACK TO WORK: Wednesday marked the Ravens' first practice since Hurricane Ike postponed their game against the Houston Texans to Nov. 9.

The Ravens are preparing to play 15 consecutive games without a break.

"It's going to be a long stretch," Neal said. "Playing 15 games in a row is tough to do, so it's about getting your body rested so you can get through that. I think when you look at this untimely bye you have to say, 'What can I get out of this? How can I grow?'"

The Ravens haven't been complaining about the unexpected schedule change, especially in light of the death and destruction caused by the storm.

"There were a lot of people that were truly affected by a natural disaster," middle linebacker Ray Lewis said. "Just to see everything that came to Houston, your regards and your sympathy have to go to the lives that were lost there in the city. The game is the last thing you should be thinking about when you see things like that."

Wide receiver Derrick Mason has designs on playing longer than the next 15 weeks, envisioning a postseason run few have predicted for the Ravens following last year's 5-11 finish.

"We're a well-conditioned team," Mason said. "Honestly, we're looking to go more than 15 straight weeks. Whatever it may be, that's the obstacle we've got ahead of us and it's an obstacle that I think we can overcome as a team."

Because of the shift in schedule, though, the Ravens technically had their bye week in the second week of the season.

"Bye week? Is that what they're calling it?" linebacker Terrell Suggs said. "It didn't feel like one to me. I jut laid around the house kind of depressed, but I'm over it."

QUICK HITS: McGahee lined up with the first-team offense. ... Adam Terry ran with the starters at right tackle and Willie Anderson was with the second team. ... Suggs referred to rookie quarterback Joe Flacco as "Shane Falco," the fictional quarterback from "The Replacements" movie. ... An article was pinned to the bulletin board inside the locker room that quoted Browns cornerback Eric Wright referring to Sunday's game, "It's a division opponent this week, so we've got to make sure we go out there and get a big win." Another article on the board quoted Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Hines Ward on the AFC North race without mentioning the Ravens: "We're 2-0. Cincinnati and Cleveland are 0-2. They have to catch up to us." ... Cornerback Evan Oglesby has switched his jersey to No. 25 after trading with rookie safety Tom Zbikowski, who now wears No. 28.

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


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