Gregg remains sidelined

OWINGS MILLS -- Baltimore Ravens nose guard Kelly Gregg will remain sidelined for at least another two weeks due to problems with the cartilage in his surgically-repaired left knee, a recurring injury that has caused the veteran lineman a lot of pain and raised doubts about his outlook for the remainder of the season.

Gregg underwent arthroscopic surgery during the first week of August, but was unable to play during the preseason or the season opener.

Justin Bannan will take his place in the starting lineup.

"What it amounts to is he's got kind of a hole in his cartilage that rubs bone to bone," Ravens coach John Harbaugh said Friday. "Because of that, he's actually got a real sensitive spot on his bone. When he unloads on a block, that's when he feels the pain. It's almost like you've got a scab on your bone and he tears the scab off."

Gregg will miss20Sunday's game against the Cleveland Browns and next week's road contest against the Pittsburgh Steelers. Then, Harbaugh said that Gregg will be regarded as week to week.

"He's working like crazy, but there's no work that you can do to get this thing healed other than just healing," Harbaugh said. "We just have to take it as we go after that point."

Gregg has been receiving shots in his knee to promote the healing process, including a fluid that simulates the natural cartilage in the knee. When Gregg underwent surgery, they removed scar tissue from his knee. Now, he's in a cycle of rehabbing to participate in some activity during practice followed by swelling and pain.

"We're going to miss Kelly, he does such a good job holding up those blocks," defensive tackle Haloti Ngata said. "He's just trying to get his knee back in shape.

"With Kelly, he probably wants to get out there before it's even good to be out there again. It's so hard on him that he can't play."

Nose guard is a meat-grinder position with heavy contact on virtually every play. Gregg is one of the most active interior linemen in the league, setting a career-high with 110 tackles and three sacks last season.

Now, Bannan will continue to start in his place. Bannan recorded four tackles and a sack in a 17-10 win over the Cincinnati Bengals to open the season.

"When we brought Justin in, it was to be a starter," defensive coordinator Rex Ryan said. "We thought he was a starter in this league, and we like the way he played and still do."

Bannan set a career-high with 38 tackles and 1 1/2 sacks last season.

"It's tough to not have Kelly out there, but we'll all pitch in to fill in for him," Bannan said. "We'll miss having him out there, but we're a hard-working bunch of guys and we'll get the job done."

INJURY REPORT: Besides Gregg and quarterback Troy Smith (tonsil infection) being out, cornerback Fabian Washington is listed as doubtful because of a bulging disc in his neck.

Linebackers Brendon Ayanbadejo (right ankle) and Nick Greisen (thigh) didn't practice, and Greisen is listed as questionable.

Wide receiver Yamon Figurs (hamstring) and cornerbacks Corey Ivy, Washington and Derrick Martin (shoulder) were limited in practice and are listed as probable.

Tight end Todd Heap (wrist), offensive guard Marshal Yanda (knee) and wide receiver Demetrius Williams (hamstring) participated fully and are probable.

Four Browns starters are questionable: wide receiver Braylon Edwards (shoulder), offensive guard Eric Steinbach (shoulder), linebacker Willie McGinest (hamstring) and wide receiver Donte' Stallworth (strained quadriceps).

Return specialist Josh Cribbs (shoulder) and running back Jamal Lewis (ankle) were limited in practice, but are probable.

TALKING HOCHULI: The Ravens' game will be officiated by veteran referee Ed Hochuli, who has drawn heavy criticism for blowing a call that contributed to the San Diego Chargers losing to the Denver Broncos last week.

Hochuli blew his whistle after Broncos quarterback Jay Cutler fumbled, a blunder that negated a change-of-possession and led=2 0to a touchdown and a game-winning two-point conversion.

"The only comment I would even make is that Ed is one of the best officials in football," Harbaugh said. "He's got a great body of work. So, we respect him and we know he's going to call a great game."

Hochuli has been apologizing personally to fans via e-mail.

Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones complained Friday that Hochuli is too quick to call to penalties.

"Now you could easily say that it rests in the competence of the official not to blow that whistle and maybe an emphasis on that would dramatically change just a real awareness and be punitive in some areas," Jones said in a radio interview. "He's quick to draw, he's known for that.

"He's very quick. His crews call a lot of penalties. Maybe the answer is to tell people like that, "Keep that whistle out your mouth.'"

WORTH WATCHING: The clash between Ravens outside linebacker Terrell Suggs and Browns offensive tackle Joe Thomas is worth the price of admission.

Suggs is a two-time Pro Bowl selection, and Thomas made the Pro Bowl as a rookie last season after being drafted third overall out of Wisconsin .

"They're going to try to run behind him, I definitely have got to anchor down over there," Suggs said. "He's going to try to protect his quarterback, and my job is to get after the quarterback. So there we go, we've already got a conflict of interest."

QUICK HITS: With the winless Browns (0-2) coming to town, Harbaugh was asked if he's wary of trick plays. "The thing about the gimmick plays is you can't prepare for them other than playing good, solid technique football," Harbaugh said. "Our guys hopefully will be tuned in to that. The Browns aren't thinking that they need to come here and gimmick their way to victory. The Browns are a very good football team, and they're going to come in here with the idea that they can beat the Ravens." ... Harbaugh acknowledged that he'll consider building in some down time for players because of the 15 weeks in a row caused by Hurricane Ike forcing a postponement of last week's game against the Houston Texans. "It's fair to say we'll think about it," he said. "I've looked at the calendar to say, 'OK, this is a place where we might plug in a situation where we'll give them some more rest.'" ... Linebacker Bart Scott is sporting an AFC North championship belt in his locker that a fan made for him following the team's franchise-record 13-3 finish in 2006. The AFC North stickers have peeled off what resembles a pro wrestling belt. Scott also has boxing gloves on top of his locker. "A fan gave me that knowing I like wrestling," he said. "I'm into boxing. I still box during the season for conditioning."

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


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