Live From Owings Mills: Ravens Downplaying National Attention

September 23, 2009 | Glenn Clark

4:45-Injury report:

OT Jared Gaither-DID NOT PARTICIPATE-Illness
LB Jarret Johnson-DID NOT PARTICIPATE-Shoulder
CB Fabian Washington-DID NOT PARTICIPATE-Illness
DT Justin Bannan-LIMITED-Knee
TE LJ Smith-FULL-Hamstring
S Tom Zbikowski-FULL-Head (Concussion)

RB Jamal Lewis-DID NOT PARTICIPATE-Hamstring
LB David Bowens-LIMITED-Knee
DL Shaun Rogers-LIMITED-Foot
RB James Davis-FULL-Shoulder
OL Alex Mack-FULL-Knee
WR Mohamed Massaquoi-FULL-Shoulder
RB Cedric Peerman-FULL-Thigh
DL Ahtyba Rubin-FULL-Toe
P Dave Zastudil-FULL-Right Knee

2:51-Tuesday is former Ravens LB O.J. Brigance’s 40th birthday. When asked about what O.J. means to this Ravens team, John Harbaugh said “OJ is the core….of the spirit of the football team.”

As I mentioned this morning in Crabs & Beer, please head to to purchase tickets for Tuesday night’s “2 Rings for O.J.” event at M&T Bank Stadium. WNST is NOT affiliated with the event, but we are FULLY supportive of O.J.

2:49-OT Jared Gaither and LB Jarret Johnson were also absent from the part of practice open to the media. We will await further word when the injury report is released this afternoon.

2:32-Brady Quinn is meeting with the media right now. Here are some highlights:

-Quinn believes the “biggest” thing the Browns have to do moving forward is “correct (their) mistakes.”
-on how difficult the 2-0 Ravens will be: “this will be an uphill battle.”
-on how he’s played so far this season: “not the way I’ve liked to.”
-on whether a change in systems has affected how he’s played in ’09: “We’re not going to make any excuses” for our struggles
-on Browns: “We have a lot of confidence as a team in our ability. We know when we play well, we’re as good as anyone.”
-Quinn also believes the Ravens will try to force HIM to beat them, but the Browns cannot afford to abandon the run.

2:29-Coach Harbaugh and the guys on the offensive side of the ball all commented on the fact that that they’re sure they’ll see some similarities between Cleveland’s defensive coordinator Rob Ryan’s scheme and that of their own former d-coordinator, Rex Ryan, his twin brother.  Sons of Buddy Ryan, who master-minded the “46” defense of the Chicago Bears in the mid-1980’s, both Rob and Rex’s defenses heavily showcase the pass rush and multiple disguised formations used to confuse opposing QB’s at the line.  Joe Flacco added, “they’re gonna try to mix things up on 3rd down.”

1:55-Coach Harbaugh also noted he believes that between former Raven Dave Zastudil punting, 11-year veteran Phil Dawson place-kicking, and the electrifying Josh Cribbs returning punts and kicks, the Browns stack up favorably with any team in the league in terms of specialists.  Coming from a former long-time special steams coordinator in the league, that should really say something.  Special teams play helped Kansas City stay close until the 4th quarter against the Ravens in the opener… if Cleveland is to have any chance that late on Sunday, that trio will have likely played a large role.

1:40-In his post-morning practice meeting with the media Coach Harbaugh was somewhat candid when asked about the playing status of L.J. Smith and yesterday’s signing of free agent TE Tony Curtis.  He said it’s “no mystery” that Curtis was brought in for depth and insurance at the position and that it’s still in doubt whether or not Smith’s sore hamstring will be enable him to suit up Sunday against Cleveland.

1:31-I am joining Bob Haynie momentarily. Chris Bonetti (from the “Mobtown Sports Beat”) is here with me, and is going to jump on and throw up a thought or two. Also, head over to the Audio Vault at right now to hear from:

Coach John Harbaugh
QB Joe Flacco
RB Ray Rice
WR Derrick Mason
WR Kelley Washington
TE Todd Heap
LB Ray Lewis
LB Jarret Johnson
CB Frank Walker

1:26-Quick notes from the part of practice open to the media:

S Tom Zbikowski (concussion) and TE LJ Smith (hamstring) were both practicing
CB Fabian Washington (concussion) was not seen during the part of practice open to the media
I also noticed Lardarius Webb was taking a few more punt return reps. That could just mean that Chris Carr took more after I left practice. But I thought I would pass it along.

12:57-I think what jumped out most about this morning’s podium and locker room session was the recognition players made about their status as the #1 team in power rankings released by national media outlets like ESPN and SI. What makes it interesting is how it appears as though John Harbaugh is trying to use it as a motivating ploy.

Both Todd Heap and Ray Lewis mentioned that the team had been made aware that they were ranked 20th in the (ESPN) poll at this time a season ago; but the team managed to go 11-5 and reach the AFC Championship Game. This means Harbaugh is both trying to downplay the significance of the ranking for the Ravens and ALSO convince his team that the Browns (power ranked 29th by ESPN) are much better than they are perceived to be.

Heap on how much the ranking means: “not much, especially at this point in the season.”
Heap on the Browns being ranked 29th: “We believe they’re a lot better than that.”
Mason on the ranking: “That’s the NFL, one week you’re winning and everyone loves you; (then) you’re losing and everyone hates you.”

I’m headed out to watch practice right now; I’ll be back with more shortly.

11:12-Brady Quinn is scheduled for a teleconference around 2:30 this afternoon; in the meantime we’re expected to hear from John Harbaugh and several Ravens players (Ray Lewis included). I’ll be back with more when we get out of the locker room.

10:55-Greetings from 1 Winning Drive, where the Ravens begin prep for their game with the Cleveland Browns Sunday. Eric Mangini is meeting with the Baltimore media right now, here are the highlights:

-on the ’96 season he spent with the Ravens: “I have a lot of great memories”; including meeting his wife, drafting Jonathan Ogden and Ray Lewis, and getting stuck in the Memorial Stadium elevator during the game against the Patriots. “Baltimore is a special place.”
-on Browns’ 0-2 start: mistakes are “very correctable” but margin for errors “is very very small” against teams like Baltimore
-on Ray Lewis: “He’s passionate…..has an incredible work ethic…..has great instincts……plays faster than he is… a natural leader from Day 1.”
-on Browns’ fine system: “I have no interest in taking players’ money.”
-on Ravens: “I think (they are) a balanced team… big plays come now from the offense and specials, not just the defense.”
-on Ed Reed: He can “ruin games in a heartbeat.”
-on DC Rob Ryan: He “is a creative guy”, “similar to Rex (Ryan)”, “great with the players.”