The Ravens may have their eye on the Texans this week, but the NFL is eyeing the City of Houston as Hurricane Ike closes in on Texas' Gulf Coast.
Currently moving from Florida and Cuba into the Gulf of Mexico, the storm is scheduled to threaten Texas or northern Mexico Saturday, gaining strength as it travels across the warm Gulf water.
Ike has already been upgraded to a Category 2 storm, and forecasters said it could become a major Category 3 hurricane before making landfall.
In response to the potential of winds reaching up to 100 mph near the center, the league is considering "potential alternatives," regarding Sunday's matchup, according to NFL spokesman Greg Aiello.
"If any change needs to be made, we will make an announcement at the appropriate time," he said.
Such alternatives could be moving the date or location of the game.
From a football standpoint, the Ravens remain unaffected. Instead, the team is working to build on the momentum of last week's season-opening win over the Cincinnati Bengals.
"Whatever those plans are, [the league will] let us know when it's time, and our job is to get ready for the Texans," stated head coach John Harbaugh before Wednesday's practice.
Because the Texans play in Reliant Stadium, which features a retractable roof, the hurricane should not affect the action on the field.
Traveling to Houston is more of a concern, however.
"I just don't want to fly in it," said defensive tackle Trevor Pryce. "That's my only concern. Flying in it is pretty [scary]."
The Ravens' support staff is already preparing as if the team was leaving Baltimore earlier than Saturday, the original departure date.
Longtime equipment manager Ed Carroll remembered the time when Hurricane Isabel was headed for Maryland and ended up causing significant damage across the state in 2003. That year, the Ravens traveled to San Diego Wednesday for a Sunday contest against the Chargers.
The extra time in California proved to be a boon to the Ravens, as Baltimore came back with a 24-10 victory.
Anderson Expects to Play
Recently-signed right tackle Willie Anderson knows he has some work to do before he's back into playing shape, and that goes hand-in-hand with the mental game.
After spending his entire 12-year career win Cincinnati, Anderson is working just as hard learning a brand-new offense.
"I think things are coming along well," Anderson said. "I'm getting the coaching like when I was a rookie, before practice, after practice and during off days. I'm trying to get as many one-on-one meetings with the coaches as I can.
"One of the things I'm working on, as well, is my conditioning and getting back into playing football shape. That all starts today."
Anderson inked his deal last Friday and was immediately out on the practice field in a shell and purple No. 79 jersey. Wednesday was his first Ravens practice in full equipment, which in Anderson's case included a set of orange-trimmed Bengals shoulder pads.
During the portion of practice open to the media, starting right tackle Adam Terry was in with the first-string, but Anderson hopes to see some spot action this weekend.
"If anything, I might be rotating in," he explained. "Adam did a great job this past weekend, and the continuity those guys worked on up to this game, it would be hard to break that up right now."
Still, Anderson does admit that his head is spinning after spending training camp with the Bengals, being released by the team that drafted him, and then catching on with a former division rival.
"I'm definitely excited to get back out there and get back into the groove," Anderson said. "It's been a weird past two weeks for me, coming to a new team and trying to get adjusted. Now, the basic thing I can do is go back to practice and get to work."
Washington, Martin Back off Suspension
Cornerbacks Fabian Washington and Derrick Martin are back on the active roster after serving their respective one-game suspensions, but they must also overcome injury concerns before being cleared to play Sunday.
Martin has been hampered by a shoulder injury, but was back out on the field Wednesday.
Washington is dealing with a hurt neck that kept him out of the session.
"I hope there's no rust, but if there is, I think I can shake that with a couple plays," Washington said. "I've got a bad neck, so hopefully I can get rid of this and get back on the field as soon as possible."
Linebacker Brendon Ayanbadejo (leg) and quarterback Troy Smith (illness) also did not practice.
Smith, who looked like he had regained some of his strength while walking around the locker room Wednesday, is scheduled to undergo tests this Friday on his previously infected tonsils.
"He looks better," Harbaugh explained. "He's getting around, and he's been involved with the meetings."
Anderson noted how many analysts across the NFL railed against the Texans when they selected defensive end Mario Williams over running back Reggie Bush with the No. 1-overall pick in the 2006 draft. Williams has since gone on to become one of the best ends in the league, posting two sacks and a forced fumble last week against the Pittsburgh Steelers. "He's one of the great young players in this league," Anderson said. "When you talk about top-five defensive ends, you talk about Mario Williams. It's funny to see how everybody perceives him now. When he came out of college, everybody said he shouldn't be the No. 1 pick, but now he's proven that he could be that No. 1 pick."…The Ravens have not allowed a 100-yard rusher in 20 consecutive games, the longest streak in the league…Baltimore is 2-0 all-time against the Texans.