OWINGS MILLS, Md. — The Baltimore Ravens (13-4) returned to practice Wednesday at 1 Winning Drive, continuing preparations for Saturday’s AFC divisional playoff showdown with the Pittsburgh Steelers (12-4) at Heinz Field.
Unlike the other AFC divisional showdown this weekend, (New England Patriots-New York Jets), the buildup to the AFC North rematch had included little in the way of bulletin board material.
LB Terrell Suggs changed that Wednesday when he stepped to the podium.
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Suggs wore a “Hey Pittsburgh!” shirt during his media availability session Wednesday. The shirt was showing a purple bird giving the middle finger.
“(This) ain’t no message” said the Pro Bowl pass rusher. “Like I always say, I put on for my city. They rep their city and I’m repping mine.”
Suggs said the Pittsburgh-Baltimore rivalry holds a special place in his heart.
“To me, it’s definitely the best rivalry in sports. When it comes to football, it’s the most physical game of the year. It’s going to be a physical gang fight, just like the first two games were.”
According to Suggs, this wasn’t the first time the middle finger has been involved in the series.
“When we go down there, they always hit us with the ‘Number Ones’. I don’t know how they act here because I’ve been in the locker room by the time all the fans get here. I’m pretty sure we’ve been hitting them with the ‘Number Ones’.”
When asked if he was worried the shirt could give the Steelers some extra motivation, Suggs was confident in his answer.
“Do I seem worried? This game is going to be what it is regardless. It’s a physical dogfight. I’m not expecting (anything) different. This is the shirt I wore this morning, this is just the shirt I chose.”
Future Hall of Fame LB Ray Lewis was much more guarded when asked if he ‘liked’ the Steelers.
“I like pizza” said Lewis. “I like a lot of things, there’s a lot of things I don’t like. Are the Steelers in the ‘like’ or ‘don’t like’ category? Well since I’m a Baltimore person, I’m going to say ‘don’t like’.”
Lewis’ message when he saw Suggs’ shirt?
“You’re going to start a war.”
RAVENS SIGN HARDY: The Ravens have signed WR James Hardy to a reserve/future contract, per a FoxSports.com report.
Hardy was a 2nd round (41st overall) pick by the Buffalo Bills out of Indiana in the 2008 NFL Draft. He was cut by the Bills before the start of the 2010 season.
In his brief NFL career, Hardy has just 10 catches for 96 yards and two touchdowns. He was a first team All-Big Ten performer in his junior (and final) season with the Hoosiers.
As a reserve/future signing, Hardy does not go on the team’s 53 man roster and is not eligible to participate in the postseason. Instead, he will have the opportunity to make the team out of Training Camp this summer (should he remain on the roster through OTA’s).
Ravens Offensive Coordinator Cam Cameron is also an Indiana alum.
PRACTICE REPORT: All Ravens who missed the Wild Card playoff win over the Kansas City Chiefs at Arrowhead Stadium were on the practice field Wednesday.
LB Tavares Gooden (shoulder) and S Tom Zbikowski (back) were full participants. WR/KR David Reed (wrist) was not even listed on the injury report.
C Matt Birk (knee) did not participate in practice, neither did WR Donte’ Stallworth (illess). CB Chris Carr (thigh) was a limited participant with what is believed to be a pulled hamstring.
Suggs (knee) and S Ed Reed (ribs) were not listed on the injury report.
Multiple Ravens players again switched jersey numbers for Wednesday’s session. Among them was Suggs, who wore the #4 of punter Sam Koch.
For the Steelers, S Troy Polamalu (ankle) did not participate in practice Wednesday. CB Bryant McFadden (abdomen) and DE Aaron Smith (triceps) were limited participants.
NOTES: Hear from Lewis, Suggs, QB Joe Flacco, TE Todd Heap, RB Ray Rice, WR Anquan Boldin and DE Cory Redding now in the BuyAToyota.com Audio Vault here at WNST.net……Director of Player Personnel Eric DeCosta & LB Dannell Ellerbe joined Drew Forrester Wednesday on “The Morning Reaction” on AM1570 WNST, both chats are also available in the Audio Vault……Jeff Triplette will officiate Sunday’s game, his crew will include members of Ed Hochuli’s regular crew……The Ravens will hold their final open practice of the week Thursday, Head Coach John Harbaugh is scheduled to meet with reporters