-- The Baltimore Ravens will place safety Will Demps (torn anterior cruciate ligament) and running back Musa Smith (lower leg) on injured reserve this week, which will end their respective seasons and free two roster spots for the injury-plagued team.
One of those slots likely will go to a running back, according to Coach Brian Billick. It was only a week ago the Ravens appeared to have a surplus of players in their offensive backfield; now they are down to two healthy ones -- running back Jamal Lewis and fullback Ovie Mughelli.
Smith, Baltimore's third-string back, has not completely recovered from the badly broken leg that sidelined him for nearly a year. He played against Jacksonville on Nov. 13 but experienced soreness in his leg and has not played since.
Backup running back Chester Taylor, who was supposed to split playing time with Lewis for the rest of the season, was a surprise on the inactive list for Sunday's loss in Cincinnati because of a foot injury. X-rays on his foot did not reveal any breaks, but there is a chance he will not be ready to play this week when the Ravens (3-8) host the Houston Texans (1-10).
Rookie fullback Justin Green injured his wrist on Sunday and will most likely need surgery, which would sideline him for two to four weeks. Green, a fifth-round pick from Montana, was especially valuable because of his versatility. Against Cincinnati, he started at fullback and also spelled Lewis at running back; Green had five carries for four yards and one catch for seven yards.
"It's been a real comfort zone, particularly going into yesterday's game when Chester was not available -- we thought he might be, but it just didn't respond -- [Green] has bailed us out of a few things," Billick said. "You can't go in with just one running back. I love Ovie, but I'm not going to hand him the ball."
Mughelli has not carried the ball in his 17-game NFL career.
Lewis was forced to be the workhorse in Cincinnati, and he responded with his most productive outing of the year. He eclipsed 100 yards for the first time, gaining 113 on 23 carries, and he scored his second rushing touchdown of the season. After the game, Lewis told reporters the key was getting the carries and establishing a consistent rhythm.
Billick agreed: "Jamal clearly had that rhythm -- good, tough, physical running -- and he got stronger as he went, which is typical of what you see."
The plan to rotate Lewis and Taylor has been put on hold until Taylor is healthy.
"We'll find the right balance," Billick said. "We have great faith in both backs. It was great to see Jamal have the game he had. There's no reason to think he couldn't continue along that path. Until Chester is healthy, that's obviously the prudent way to go. But Chester is running real well, and we are anxious to get him back into the rotation."
In other injury news, Billick said he is optimistic safety Ed Reed (ankle) and linebacker Ray Lewis (thigh) will be able to practice on Wednesday. Cornerback Chris McAlister was held out of the second half on Sunday because of a hamstring injury.