M. Lewis under the gun

OWINGS MILLS -- If Marvin Lewis' pants are burning after being ignited by the proverbial hot seat, then the Cincinnati Bengals' coach is doing a pretty good job of ignoring the discomfort. Despite the Bengals' 1-9-1 collapse as the first AFC team to already be eliminated from playoff contention, Lewis is trying to keep his players motivated heading into Sunday's game against the Baltimore Ravens.

The Bengals are in danger of having a n even worse record than the franchise-low 2-14 mark in 2002, and there has been rampant speculation about Lewis' job security.

"I can't worry about that," said Lewis, a former Finksburg resident who is under contract through the 2010 season. "It's really nothing that bothers me , nor is it in my hands or whatever. So, there's really no reason for me to worry about it or spend any time thinking about it."

Ravens middle linebacker Ray Lewis isn't surprised that his former defensive coordinator and mentor is taking such a stoic attitude and hasn't wallowed in self-pity.

"He's not that type of guy," Lewis said.

Lewis led the Bengals to consecutive 8-8 campaigns before going 11-5 in 2005 and making the playoffs for the first time since 1998. At that point, Lewis probably could have run for mayor in Cincinnati.

"After 2005, if you looked at all of our guys, we were all young, we were just getting into the prime or the middle of our careers, and for me, it was just starting," Bengals wide receiver T.J. Houshmandzadeh said. "You would have thought that for the next four or five or six years, we would have been someone like Indianapolis, and it hasn't been that way."

This team has already matched Lewis' career-high for losses, matching the nine defeats from last season.

And the personal toll of this disastrous year is wearing on Lewis in a way that's obvious to his players.

"You know he's frustrated," Houshmandzadeh said. "But when you're the head coach, you can't really show your frustration. I think maybe you go home and tell your wife, but you really can't bring it to the players.

"You're frustrated after the game when you lose, but when you come in the next day, you have to get over it because if we see that he's still frustrated, it might start to rub off on guys, and you don't want that. He's not going to show that to us, but Marvin is a human being like everybody else."

Injuries have had a lot to do with this year's issues. Fifteen players are on injured reserve, including six starters, with Pro Bowl quarterback Carson Palmer sidelined again this week with elbow ligament damage.

"We've had some injuries, but I think that happens to every team," Lewis said. "You've got to find a way to overcome it."

Lewis' reputation was built in Baltimore through maintaining his composure, and that hasn't changed during hard times in Cincinnati.

"Frustrating you guys, he kind of thrives off of that," said Ravens offensive tackle Willie Anderson, who was cut by Lewis in August. "You guys are never going to get an emotional letdown from him because of what's been said about him. That's one thing that he always did a good job of."

TRAINING ROOM: Judging from the final injury report of the week, the Ravens expect offensive tackles Adam Terry (concussion) and Jared Gaither (right shoulder sprain) to play Sunday. Terry is listed as questionable, and Gaither is probable.

"I think I'm all right," Gaither said. "It's just a matter of it getting better in time. Pencil me in, always."

Terry said his headaches have ceased , passing neurological exams. However, he was in a red jersey Friday signifying that he's still off-limits to contact.

"I'm feeling pretty good so far, but it's all up to the doctor," Terry said. "I've progressed from the headaches to waking up and functioning. I fully anticipate being out there."

Wide receivers Mark Clayton (lower back) and Terrance Copper (neck) are questionable as well as offensive guard David Hale (ankle) and cornerback Samari Rolle (thigh). Rolle and Hale were added to the injury report Friday.

Defensive end Trevor Pryce (concussion) is probable as well as Anderson (foot/ankle), tight end Todd Heap (illness), wide receiver Derrick Mason (left dislocated shoulder), fullbacks Le'Ron McClain (thigh) and Lorenzo Neal (thigh) and defensive tackle Lamar Divens (shoulder).

RAVENS-STEELERS MOVED: The kickoff time for the Ravens' game against the Pittsburgh Steelers on Dec. 14 has been moved to 4:15 p.m. from an original 1 p.m. start.

The game will be televised on CBS and is expected to have major implications in the AFC North title race, which Pittsburgh currently leads Baltimore by one game.

This is the second Ravens game the NFL has moved because of its flex scheduling system. The Ravens-Redskins game on Dec. 7 will be televised nationally by NBC at 8:15 p.m.

PRO BOWL VOTING: Defensive tackle Haloti Ngata still doesn't rank among the top five at his position in Pro Bowl fan balloting.

Cornerback Chris McAlister, who's on injured reserve, no longer ranks in the top five and has been replaced by the Steelers' Ike Taylor.

Middle linebacker Ray Lewis, free safety Ed Reed and McClain are the leaders at their respective positions. Outside linebacker Terrell Suggs and special-teams ace Brendon Ayanbadejo rank fourth.

Fan voting counts for one-third of the final Pro Bowl results with players and coaches making up the other two-thirds. They are schedule to vote Dec. 11-12, and fan polling is open until Dec. 9.

SPECIAL REQUEST: Houshmandzadeh made a direct plea to Ravens defensive coordinator Rex Ryan durin g his conference call with Baltimore reporters.

"Please tell Rex Ryan not to double-team me and bracket me," Houshmandzadeh said. "Please tell him."

After the request was relayed to him, Ryan replied: "As far as he knows, we're not going to. So, he can sleep at night."

QUICK HITS: The Bengals listed offensive tackle Levi Jones (back), defensive end Antwan Odom (shoulder), safety Chinedum Ndukwe (foot), cornerback David Jones (knee) and linebacker Eric Henderson (neck) as doubtful. ... Houshmandzadeh (back) and former University of Maryland offensive lineman Andrew Crummey (knee) are probable.

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