With Lardarius Webb's rookie season coming to a halt because of a torn anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee, could the Ravens turn to a familiar face at cornerback?
Head coach John Harbaugh said Monday that he expected the Ravens to add a new member to their secondary by mid-week. And, he did not rule out bringing back long-time Raven Chris McAlister although multiple media outlets have reported that the player the Ravens seek is Corey Ivy, who spent the 2006-08 campaigns in Baltimore.
"We're open to bringing anybody back," Harbaugh stated. "Anybody back that can play, anybody that can help us. Obviously he would be an option, and there are other options out there as well."
"Realistically, we'll probably have another defensive back on this team by Wednesday," said Harbaugh. "But, if that doesn't work out, it doesn't work out. It's not like they're out there everywhere. There are certain, probably, specific qualifications that we're going to need in a guy to help us this Sunday win the game. If we can't find that guy, then what you have to do is, you've got to bring in… somebody who bolsters up your roster for the long run."
McAlister spent nine years in Baltimore, making the Pro Bowl three times and building a reputation as one of the NFL's most physically-dominant corners. The Ravens decided not to re-sign him this offseason, instead moving forward with the speedy Fabian Washington and Domonique Foxworth at the position, along with Webb, a third-round draft pick.
McAlister, 32, then signed with the New Orleans Saints on Nov. 17 and played in two games before he was released.
But McAlister is far from the only option. There are several other free-agent cornerbacks with starting experience available.
Fakhir Brown, 32, played nine years in the league and was with the UFL's Florida Tuskers this fall. Jason David, 27, was a member of the Indianapolis Colts' 2006 Super Bowl squad. Patrick Surtain, 33, is a three-time Pro Bowler, and Deltha O'Neal, 32, has two Pro Bowls.
And, Ivy saw action in 45 games as a Raven, amassing 137 tackles and three interceptions during his tenure. He was briefly with the Pittsburgh Steelers earlier this year, but was released after only one game. Media reports have stated that Ivy is scheduled to undergo a physical for the Ravens on Tuesday Those are just a few players currently without an NFL home.
"All the guys we're looking at, we've looked at all their most recent games to see where they stand," Harbaugh noted.
Then again, the Ravens could opt to head in another direction and invest in a young prospect to develop over time.
Webb's injury occurred in the third quarter of Sunday's 31-7 win over the Chicago Bears while blocking on a punt.
His misfortune was lamented around the locker room after showing early promise. Webb finished the year with 35 tackles, one interception and six pass deflections.
He also was the Ravens' main punt returner, where he was eighth in the league with a 26.2-yard average per return.
"He was playing so great for us and now he's probably out for the rest of the year," noted linebacker Ray Lewis. "He's out for the good part of the season when everything is coming down the stretch. As usual though, it's always next man up. Whoever it is we have to find somebody to fill that role. Even on kickoff returns. He really has been huge for us and has really changed field position for us. You never want to see those things happen, but in this business those things happen."
Said Harbaugh: "That's obviously disappointing. He played so well, he's such a likable guy, and I think he's made a big impact on our team, and the guys really respect him and like him, so we're going to miss him."
Regarding the return duties, Chris Carr began the season as both the punt and kickoff returner and is listed as the No. 2 on the depth chart. A number of other players on the roster could also step in there.
Still, the Ravens need to shore up their secondary soon with Ben Roethlisberger and the Pittsburgh Steelers looming on the schedule.
Last week, in a last-minute 37-36 defeat of the Green Bay Packers, Roethlisberger threw for an amazing 503 yards, the 10th-most productive passing game in NFL history.
"That's what we have to determine, what's the best fit?" said Harbaugh. "You've got to look at the roster right now as it stands. What guys do well where they play right now? Where we need the most help? Is that inside, is it outside? What specific packages they'd be a part of?
"That's all going to be important."