Ravens encouraged by Ogden's progress

OWINGS MILLS -- Indicators are increasing that Baltimore Ravens offensive tackle Jonathan Ogden will return Sunday against the Dallas Cowboys after missing the previous three games with a pulled hamstring.<br><br> Ogden continues to practice without incident, and his mobility appears to have improved markedly based on his performance in drills. "He's taking part in everything," Ravens coach Brian Billick said Thursday morning. "He's doing good."

When asked if he would be able to play against the Cowboys (3-6), Ogden said: "I'm getting a lot closer to being back. I'm much better."

Cornerback Chris McAlister (neck), tight end Todd Heap (ankle) and nickel back Deion Sanders (toe) remain questionable and are highly unlikely to play. McAlister has been projected as a game-time decision, but hasn't practiced all week.

Sanders, 37, has missed three games due to injuries and has intercepted three passes. When asked if he would return for another season, Sanders, who signed a one-year, $1.5 million contract, replied: "Next year, I can't look that far down the road. I'm happy when I'm on the field with my productivity and our success on the defense and in the secondary. Injuries are something that I can't control."

Meanwhile, offensive tackle Orlando Brown (knee) was limited in practice, but said he'll be available Sunday. He's listed as probable. If Brown or Ogden can't go, they would be replaced by Ethan Brooks.

VINNY UPDATE: Dallas quarterback Vinny Testaverde, Baltimore's starter during the Ted Marchibroda era, was added to the injury report with an illness and is listed as probable.

Apparently, Testaverde, 41, felt so badly that he missed two scheduled conference calls with Baltimore media over the last two days.

TONED-DOWN ACT: McAlister noted how outspoken Cowboys wide receiver Keyshawn Johnson is shying away from controversy these days. Especially in comparison to his 'Just give me the damn ball!' period.

"T.O. took that over," McAlister said when asked who is the reigning bad-boy NFL wide receiver. "I don't think he's as bad as he used to be. I think he's toned it down a lot. I haven't seen the mouth of the old Keyshawn Johnson."

SIGNED AWAY: During the Ravens' bye, the Cowboys signed rookie cornerback Lance Frazier off the Baltimore practice squad. He's the second rookie Dallas claimed from Baltimore this season, having already signed tight end Brett Pierce.

Now, Frazier is the injury-riddled Cowboys' fifth starting right cornerback this year. The Ravens were unaware until after the fact that Frazier had defected to Dallas.

"Lance Frazier was a fine young corner that we liked," Billick said. "He just kind of disappeared. I don't fault the young man at all. We would have like to have gotten a call from the agent, saying, 'There's an opportunity.'
"We likely would have done something to keep him. He's a fighter. He's got good athletic ability and we're not going to underestimate him."

NOT OFFENDED: Running back Eddie George said he didn't take issue with Dallas coach Bill Parcells calling the Cowboys a stupid team.

Dallas has lost five of six games and four of those five losses have been by 16 points or more.

"If you look at what we've been doing, I think we were making stupid errors, we were doing stupid things, but I don't take it personally," George said. "I thought that our playing and our decision-making cost us games that were stupid. I don't think it was anything that was directed as demeaning, it was just being realistic about the situation."

INJURED RESERVE?: The Ravens have until next week to decide whether to activate outside linebacker Peter Boulware from the physically unable to perform list.

Billick was noncommittal on what the Ravens will do, adding that a case of turf toe, not a surgically-repaired knee, is the chief obstacle.

QUICK HIT: The Ravens will hold their annual food drive prior to kickoff Sunday at M&T Bank Stadium. Non-perishable food items and monetary donations will be accepted with proceeds going toward the Maryland Food Bank.

Aaron Wilson writes for ravensinsider.com and the Carroll County Times.

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