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Notes: Optimistic on Samari


Facing the prospect of three regular starters missing from the Ravens' secondary, a makeshift unit turned in a solid performance in last weekend's 29-10 win over Oakland.

Raiders quarterback JaMarcus Russell threw one interception and completed less than half of his passes (15 of 33), and while he did amass 228 yards, much of that number came in the fourth quarter when the Ravens were laying back.

Now, that defensive backfield could be getting one of those regular starters back, as head coach John Harbaugh said Samari Rolle is close to a return.

Rolle hasn't played in the past five games after undergoing neck surgery and nursing a shoulder injury.

Meanwhile, safety Dawan Landry is still far off from a full recovery from the spinal cord concussion he suffered in Week 3.

"We feel like Samari is a little ahead of Dawan," Harbaugh said. "I don't think it's ruled out for Dawan for this week, but it probably is pessimistic.

"For Samari, I don't know if it's optimistic, but there's a chance that he's going to be able to play. We're going to get him out at practice and see how he does, and we're going to push hard to see if we can get him in this game."

In their place, the Ravens have started safety Jim Leonhard and cornerbacks Fabian Washington and Frank Walker.

Both Washington and Walker got the nod against the Raiders, while Chris McAlister worked through a knee injury that flared up last week and kept him out of practice Thursday and Friday.

McAlister's knee injury came at a time when the Ravens were under scrutiny for playing the three-time Pro Bowler for only eight plays two weeks ago in Miami.

"Chris is a huge part of what we're doing, and I think it's really important that everybody understands that," Harbaugh stated. "There whole terming of him being 'benched,' we never used that term. All of a sudden, he was 'benched.' I don't know where that term came from.

"We've been trying to manage Chris' situation all season, and I think he's been fighting through it. The thing that you understand a little bit is, here's a competitive guy. He's a world-class athlete who has been one of the best corners, if not maybe the best corner, in the game for the last 10 years, and he's been fighting through a knee issue. Sometimes, when you're that kind of an athlete and man, you don't want to admit that."

McAlister, however, is expected to be a crucial part to the NFL's second-ranked defense moving forward.

"I think it's been a valiant effort. We want him on the field playing as much as possible, and we want to manage the reps and put him in the best situation to get through the whole season," said Harbaugh. "He's going to be playing a lot of football for us. Unless something turns with the knee, he's going to be playing a ton of football for us and is going to be a huge part of what we're doing."

Leonhard, Rice Taking (Re)Turns

In addition to his safety duties, Leonhard has proven to be a solid returner in the absence of Yamon Figurs, who has missed the past two contests with a knee injury.

Rookie running back Ray Rice has also seen spot duty on kickoffs.

Leonhard is averaging 13.7 yards per punt return, and he had a 46-yarder last week that set up Willis McGahee's touchdown in the first half.

Meanwhile, Rice owns a 25.8-yard average on six kickoff returns.

The Ravens are still monitoring Figurs' status.

"Yamon is iffy," Harbaugh said. "He's got a chance to be back there. If Yamon is healthy, he's going to be returning for us in some form or fashion. We're excited about Ray, and we're excited about Jim."

Baltimore has also experimented with receivers Derrick Mason and Mark Clayton, and safety Ed Reed in practice.

"We've got a lot of guys that can contribute in the return game, and, once they see that blocking get going, I think they're going to want to be back there," the coach continued. "It's going to be a little competitive, and we'll go with the guys that are most healthy and give us the hot hand."


Left tackle Jared Gaither was flagged for four penalties that sacrificed 21 yards in the Oakland game, but Harbaugh isn't going to single out the second-year player. "It's something that [with] all of our offensive linemen, definitely we have to work out," Harbaugh stated. "It's not just the offensive linemen. We had a back flinch as well. We lined up wrong outside the perimeter on the left side one time. Those are all critical things that if we want to become what we want to become as a football team, we have to definitely clean that stuff up." … Linebacker Brendon Ayanbadejo (sprained ankle) participated in Monday's walk-through. … Many Ravens players participated in Monday's Goodwill Gridiron Halloween Party at Dave & Buster's in Arundel Mills. The ninth-annual event, hosted by tight end Todd Heap and Mark Clayton, raised over $100,000 for Goodwill Industries of the Chesapeake. Other players in attendance included quarterback Joe Flacco, center Jason Brown, tackle Adam Terry, safety Haruki Nakamura, guard/tackle David Hale and defensive tackle Lamar Divens.

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