OWINGS MILLS, Md. — The Baltimore Ravens (4-2) returned to work Wednesday at 1 Winning Drive, continuing preparations for Sunday’s contest with the Buffalo Bills (0-5) at M&T Bank Stadium.
The NFL levied hefty fines Tuesday towards multiple players for dangerous hits in Week 6 games and threatened suspensions for future helmet to helmet contact. One of the hits that lead to a significant fine was a helmet to helmet hit made on Ravens TE Todd Heap by New England Patriots safety Brandon Meriweather. Meriweather was fined $50,000 for his hit. The new policy was a hot hot topic in the Ravens locker room Tuesday, as Head Coach John Harbaugh and Ravens players had varying opinions about stronger enforcement.
Harbaugh gave full support to strengthening enforcement of the policy, saying “I think whatever it takes to enforce the rule to make sure that guys respect the rules is something that obviously needs to be done.” Harbaugh however went on to add that he didn’t think a more strict policy would have much effect on his team. “If you look at our track record this year-not to say it couldn’t happen to us-but our guys have really tried to get those hits in that area that aren’t helmet to helmet on the defenseless guys.”
Future Hall of Fame LB Ray Lewis said hits like the ones that lead to fines from Week 6 are simply part of football. “Those are hits that (when) you go into your defensive room-you’re getting praised for” said Lewis. “I have to back those players and tell them-just keep having fun, just keep playing the game.”
RB Willis McGahee was the victim of a crushing hit by Pittsburgh Steelers safety Ryan Clark in the 2009 AFC Championship Game. McGahee said “they should have done that when I got hit and I was laying on the ground.” McGahee added “I guess it’s getting out of hand right now, so they’ve got to protect the players and protect the person that’s providing the hits.”
LB Terrell Suggs added the rule was a “double-edged sword” and that he was split on whether or not he supported strengthening the policy. “I have no problem with them enforcing (the rule); but the amount the guys were fined-that was a bit excessive.” Suggs pointed out that football “is a physical sport” and that football players “are the gladiators of (the) time.”
Lewis pointed out that he expected players to continue to fight the penalties that will come with a strengthening of the policy, which could remain an issue well into what is expected to be a period of labor unrest this offseason.
REED, AYANBADEJO RETURN: S Ed Reed and LB Brendon Ayanbadejo appeared on the practice field Wednesday for the first time this season. Both have missed the first six weeks of the season while on the Physically Unable to Perform (PUP) list.
Reed was coy about his status for Sunday’s game, saying “I feel good” but admitting that he needed to get back into a football feel and see how his body would react to getting back on the practice field. He admitted that he and the organization “definitely talked about” the possibility of him missing Sunday’s game and returning after the team’s Week 8 bye.
Reed said “just being around the guys on the field” was what he missed the most during the time he’s missed this season.
Ayanbadejo didn’t offer a guess as to what his status would be for Sunday’s game, saying it was important to just get through Wednesday’s practice and see how his body reacted.
There was no reason to believe either player would be held out of contact during Wednesday’s practice.
PRACTICE REPORT: Reed and Ayanbadejo weren’t the only Ravens who returned to practice Wednesday. DE Paul Kruger (knee) and CB Josh Wilson (hamstring)-who each missed the Week 6 loss in Foxborough returned to the practice field as well. Kruger’s status for Sunday’s game is still very much up in the air, but Wilson is expected to be available. Both were listed as limited participants in practice.
Also limited in practice were LB Jarret Johnson (back), WR Derrick Mason (ankle/finger), S Haruki Nakamura (back), RB Ray Rice (ankle) and WR Marcus Smith (back). LB Edgar Jones (thigh) was listed as a full participant in practice.
Safety Tom Zbikowski (foot) and TE Todd Heap (neck) did not participate in practice Wednesday. Harbaugh said the team got “good news” on MRI’s for both players Monday, saying Zbikowski has “got a shot” to play Sunday and “I think Todd will be” on the field Sunday.
LB Tavares Gooden (shoulder), OT Jared Gaither (back) and WR Donte’ Stallworth (foot) remained out of practice, they have all been ruled out for Sunday.
For the Bills, OT Cornell Green (knee) and CB Terrence McGee (back) did not participate in practice Wednesday. LB Keith Ellison (knee), LB Arthur Moats (elbow) and NT Kyle Williams (ankle) were all limited participants. TE Shawn Nelson and S Bryan Scott were full participants.
NOTES: Hear from Harbaugh, QB Joe Flacco, McGahee, Lewis, Suggs, Reed, Ayanbadejo, Wilson, DT Haloti Ngata and Mason NOW in the BuyAToyota.com Audio Vault here at WNST.net……Punter Sam Koch is scheduled to join Drew Forrester Thursday on “The Morning Reaction” on AM1570 WNST at 7:00am……McGahee did not appear concerned with his lack of playing time in the Ravens’ loss at Gillette Stadium, saying “I’m like a lightswitch. I can cut it on and cut it off. It was off that game. I wasn’t tripping about it. We were winning, it really didn’t bother me.” McGahee was not on the field for a single play in the team’s loss……Bills DE Dwan Edwards joined members of the Charm City media contingent for a conference call, saying “I had a great time and played with a bunch of great players. I learned a ton about football and the game and being a professional and stuff like that. So, in terms of that, it was a good experience.” Edwards returns to Baltimore Sunday for the first time since signing with the Bills in the offseason, he was a 2nd round pick of the Ravens in the 2004 NFL Draft……The Ravens will return to work Thursday at 1 Winning Drive, coordinators Cam Cameron, Greg Mattison and Jerry Rosburg are scheduled to meet with the media before practice