OWINGS MILLS, Md. -- Baltimore Ravens cornerback Samari Rolle will spend at least the opening six weeks of the season on the physically unable to perform list with a neck injury that could mean the end of his career.
The 33-year-old Rolle missed six games in 2008 because of the injury. He underwent surgery last year and intends to have another operation.
"Samari is going to have some more work done on the neck, try to shore it up in there," Ravens coach John Harbaugh said Monday. "He was really excited about it. I think he was feeling it was going to go the other way. ... It's good news."
Harbaugh remains hopeful Rolle will be back, but stressed the 11-year veteran would not be activated if there's any risk involved.
"Samari has a chance to come back and play this year," Harbaugh said. "When the time comes, we'll be safer than we are risk-oriented. If there's any risk at all, he won't play. But if there's no reasonable risk, then he'll have a chance to help us down the stretch this year."
Rolle was placed on the PUP list before training camp and has not yet practiced with the team. He recently visited a neck specialist, who indicated further surgery could enable Rolle to play again.
Rolle broke into the NFL in 1998 and went to the Pro Bowl in 2000. After starting his career with the Tennessee Titans, he came to the Ravens in 2005 and started all 16 games during his first two seasons in Baltimore.
In 2007, Rolle was diagnosed with epilepsy. That and a shoulder injury limited him to six games that season. Last year, he missed six starts because of his neck.
Rolle was released this past offseason at his own request, then re-signed a four-year, $10 million contract. But Baltimore signed free agent Domonique Foxworth to start at cornerback along with Fabian Washington, who joined the Ravens last year.
Rolle almost certainly would return as a nickel back, but his experience would be a plus in an already stout defense.
Ravens wide receiver Derrick Mason and Rolle were teammates on the Titans before joining Baltimore in 2005. Mason would love to see his good friend back on the field, but only if he's completely healthy.
"Samari just wants to play, but he understands the injury that he has is a serious one. You never want to go out there and put yourself in a position where you're going to get hurt," Mason said. "It's a game. It's not the end all, be all. You have to live a life after playing football, and Samari understands that."