Rabach fails physical, Ravens in search of center

The Ravens need an insurance policy for their insurance policy.

Veteran center Casey Rabach, who was signed yesterday to provide support for injured starting center Matt Birk, failed his physical, according to head coach John Harbaugh. As a result, the Ravens will continue searching for a center who can fill in as Birk recovers from a surgical procedure to clean up the bursa sac in his left knee.

"We will be looking for another center," Harbaugh said. "We tried to sign Casey Rabach. He failed his physical, so we'll just keep looking. We'll be looking for a center to get through camp and then provide some depth throughout the course of the season."

Harbaugh announced that Birk will be out 3-4 weeks, leaving the Ravens without a veteran presence at the center position. Rabach would have filled that void, but he apparently was not fully recovered from offseason shoulder surgery.

Matt_Birk-sidebar.jpgThe Ravens seem confident that Birk will come back from his surgery and be ready to go, meaning they won't need to spend big money on a starting-caliber center, but more a serviceable one that can improve depth once Birk returns.

"Matt will be our starting center," Harbaugh said. "Matt's older; I don't think he necessarily needs training camp. That's my feeling - let him get this cleaned up right now, and we'll get a week or two of training camp with him and he'll be ready to play."

Birk battled knee issues all last year, and needed to get his knee drained every week in order to play. Under normal circumstances, Harbaugh said the 13-year veteran probably would have gotten the surgery taken care of in the offseason, but with the lockout, it had to wait until the labor issue was resolved and Birk was back with the team.

"I think if we'd have had him here the whole offseason, and he'd been here, this would have been done in February, March, April, something like that," Harbaugh said. "That's probably one of the negatives of having this whole situation.

"It's a minor procedure from what I'm told. Otherwise, it would have been bothering him all year, it would've swollen up and stuff like that, so we decided to go ahead and get that cleaned up right now."

The Ravens' issues at the center position showed today, as the defense continuously burst through the interior of the line and put pressure on quarterbacks Joe Flacco and Tyrod Taylor. Undrafted rookies Ryan Bartholomew and Tim Barnes have been the Ravens' only options at center to this point.

Things should get slightly better Thursday, however. Assuming the new collective bargaining agreement is approved tomorrow, all the veteran free agents will be able to rejoin their teams. That means Bryan Mattison, the second-year man out of Iowa, will be able to take over as the first-team center.

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