It’s Ravens Week and Mike Tomlin (or, as Ron Cook called him on 93.7 just now, Bill Cowher) held his weekly press conference. Here are the (paraphrased) highlights:
* The Ravens have the No. 1 defense in football led by Ray Lewis and Company. …They’ve given up the fewest first downs in the NFL by far… We have a great deal of respect against this outfit. Offensively, their run game is their run game, Ray Rice is a special player … He has hurt us pretty good the last several years…. McClain is a capable ball-toter. (Ed. Note: Ball-Toter is McClain’s new nickname.)
Joe Flacco is maturing, they’re centering their offense around him… Boldin has more receptions than our receiving corps. … He blistered Cleveland and from my position that was a horror show.
* Injuries: There are no new injuries at quarterback — thought you guys would enjoy that. Chris Hoke is questionable, and he could play by end of week. Trai Essex will also have to prove he’s able to play by the end of the week. Ziggy Hood and Will Allen have sprained ankles but we expect them to be fine by Sunday. Anthony Madison had a hammy, but should be fine, too. Otherwise, we have a clean bill of health and we’re going to need it.
* No Ray Rice won’t change the Ravens’ playcalling. You’re still going to gonna see McGahee and McClain, and Flacco utilizes all his eligibles … he’s an extreme flatliner — the deep comeback is a signature of his balls. He can take the top off the coverage and drop deep balls on you. He’s got great weapons.
* You could say that Charlie is leading us against Baltimore. He’s a man who has taken advantage of an opportunity. This league is about perseverance. Re: Byron — he was fine a week ago, injury-wise.
* Dennis Dixon came out of surgery fine. They said 4-6 weeks, but every person is different. We’ll see how it goes. Dixon’s not a candidate for IR “this week” … but injuries are a part of football. You never know.
* Doug Legursky represented himself very well. I think that’s one of the reason Trai’s feeling better (laughs).
* I’m glad Ed Reed isn’t playing — the Ravens are the No. 1 D in the league, and No. 1 vs. the pass… And Cleveland’s success on the ground doesn’t bode well for us. I know how prideful [the Baltimore defense is]. I know they’ll bounce back… The great defenses usually bounce back pretty quickly, and we have a tall task given what happened a week ago.
* Charlie didn’t play much differently in Tampa than he did in Tennessee. We trusted Charlie more than Dixon — he’s been a franchise quarterback, he’s 35 years old, it’s all a rerun for Charlie Batch. You try to help Dixon manage the game. But I gave Dennis the opportunity (to start the season) because he earned that opportunity. You saw him in the preseason.
* It’s too early to be anointing our defense through three games.
* William Gay — I tip my hat to him given the situation. He’s fallen back into a sub-package role (with Bryant McFadden’s return). He hasn’t muttered a peep, he’s always ready, he’s always into the game and he’s making plays.
* We can potentially get by with five defensive linemen this Sunday. But we’re hoping Hokie can make it.
* There is a great degree of respect for that football team.
* I tease Mike Wallace openly — I call him one-trick pony — he’s a young guy and a hard worker who has a distinguishing characteristic but wants to be a well-rounded player. I’m going to continue to challenge him in those areas.
* “Perfect” is a strong word to describe Maurkice Pouncey through three weeks. He’s doing a very nice job but we don’t grade on a curve. He has a very tall challenge this week. He’s going to be introduced to the Ravens-Steelers rivalry pretty quickly.
* Haloti Ngata is as dominant a defensive linemen as there is in football right now.
* If the NFL expands to 18 games then everybody has to play 18 games so I’m not worrying about it. If we’re playing 18 and others are playing 16 then we have a problem.
* Right now Antonio Brown has the helmet (on the 45-man game-day roster) over Manny Sanders, and he played more on offense in Tampa than he did in Tennessee. But they’re both growing.
* Daniel Sepulveda’s done a nice job — the field-position game has been big for us. Jeff Reed’s done a nice job taking advantage of scoring opportunities. We haven’t taken advantage of TD opportunities, but we have scored every time we’ve been in the red zone.
* I haven’t decided on our bye-week activities, re: Big Ben. The biggest decision: how we play this Sunday.