Ravens Notebook

It wasn't a secret in NFL circles that the Baltimore Ravens were conditionally interested in possibly bringing in former San Diego Chargers outside linebacker Shawne Merriman.

Baltimore coach John Harbaugh acknowledged discussing Merriman with general manager Ozzie Newsome, noting that the Ravens would explore adding him if he cleared waivers, was healthy and was willing to play for a reasonable price. Meaning, less than the remainder of his $3.26 million restricted tender salary.

The Ravens never got to land Merriman, though. The former University of Maryland star and NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year was claimed off waivers Wednesday by the winless Buffalo Bills, who ranked first in the NFL priority list for waiver wire claims.

Just by the fact that the Ravens were interested in Merriman would seem to indicate that they're concerned about their lack of sacks this season. The Ravens have a dozen sacks, ranking 23rd in the league in that category. The Ravens didn't put in a waiver claim on Merriman. "I see a lot of good things in the pass rush," Harbaugh said. "As coaches, you always see the things that need to get better. Absolutely, we want more sacks. We definitely want to get more hits on the quarterback.

"We have pressure. In the Buffalo game, it wasn't the issue in my mind because was coming out so fast. We forced some quick throws."

Signed to a $62.5 million contract before last season, former Pro Bowl outside linebacker Terrell Suggs has recorded 3 1/2 sacks. He ranks second on the team behind Pro Bowl defensive tackle Haloti Ngata, who's having a stellar season with four sacks. "I don't have as many sacks as I'd like, but I guess I'm one of the guys that breaks away," Suggs said. "It's not how you start, it's how you finish. I think I did a solid job in the first half of the season. We just have to have more emphasis as a team of all of us getting back there and getting some more. .. "It's got to be a point of emphasis for everybody, not just one guy. If you look at the guys around the league, everybody's getting after the passer. Whether you're looking in Dallas or New York or even the Colts, they've got numbers of guys with a knack for getting after the quarterback. When teams take it upon themselves to get guys after the quarterback, that's when all your sacks come." Suggs has been close to several sacks with quarterbacks wiggling free from his grasp. Pressures aren't an officially kept statistic.

"Well, sacks count," Suggs said. "Sacks count as the stat. The pressure, it's like, 'Atta boy! Way to pressure the quarterback.' The sacks are what help you win the game. Pressure really doesn't. They do their job. They have their benefits. I like to get the sack."

In many cases, the Ravens haven't always beaten single-blocking schemes after defensive coordinator Greg Mattison got players in position to get after the quarterback. Heading into Sunday's game at M&T Bank Stadium, Miami Dolphins quarterback Chad Henne has only been sacked 10 times. "The Dolphins do a great job of protecting him," Lewis said. "They keep a lot of people in to keep him protected, and he's getting the ball out very, very quickly. We'll see what happens Sunday."

Although it bothers Suggs that the Ravens haven't finished better and generated more production in the pass rush, he'll gladly take a 5-2 record and a share of first place in the AFC North over gaudy sack numbers. "I ask myself every day, 'Would I rather have eight sacks like DeMarcus Ware and be 1-6?'" Suggs said. "I don't think so. So, I'll take what I have right now with the winning record. And we just have to get more. I think we're going to start getting them. Not just myself, but as a team. It's just going to start happening for us." As for Merriman, Lewis said he continues to mentor the Maryland native and is upbeat that he'll regain his old Pro Bowl form.

"I speak to Shawne a lot," Lewis said. "It's always a tough situation any time you find yourself in the situation that he's in, but I think this gives him an opportunity. It gives him an opportunity to hopefully go to a team that can really use his talents, and show what he can do: and that's get after the quarterback."

INJURY UPDATE: Only two players didn't practice Wednesday. Safety Tom Zbikowski has a bruised heel and is regarded as unlikely to play Sunday. Zbikowski is out of a walking boot, a sign of improvement. However, he said he's only a little bit better. "It's hard to tell," Zbikowski said. "It's starting to get there. I'm starting to walk on it a little bit better. I'm just really taking it day by day."

Zbikowski said the injury has impacted a bursa sac in his foot and also is bothering his Achilles' tendon. He said he wasn't certain if he has plantar fasciitis, which can be serious

"I've got a little pain in that area," Zbikowski said. "The heel kind of had an effect on that area, and the bursa sac and the Achilles and stuff is still a little irritated. It's one of those things where you bump it, and it just gets irritated. You just keep trying to progress as much as you can." With star free safety Ed Reed back, Zbikowski is no longer needed as a starter on defense. The Ravens' regular punt returner got hurt against the New England Patriots, leaving the game in the fourth quarter. He was sidelined against the Buffalo Bills the following week.

Zbikowski said he's limited at this point in what he can do. Rest is the best remedy for what's ailing him, and he's undergoing treatment twice per day.

"I lay on the table," Zbikowski said. "I try to walk. It's actually pretty miserable. I'm trying to get back out there as fast as I can, but it's something that really can't be rushed. You don't want to mess around with that area." Meanwhile, rookie tight end Dennis Pitta has a head injury, likely a concussion.

Meanwhile, wide receiver Derrick Mason (ankle), tight end Todd Heap (back), Reed (ankle) and wide receiver Donte' Stallworth (foot) participated fully. Quarterback Joe Flacco was impressed with Stallworth, who broke the fifth metatarsal in his left foot during the preseason. "He looked good," Flacco said. "It didn't look like he lost a step. He's pretty fast, so that's saying a lot."

The injury report doesn't list Mason's surgically-repaired right pinkie finger, Heap's right shoulder stinger and neck injury or Reed's quadriceps injury suffered against Buffalo.

Inside linebacker Tavares Gooden is no longer on the injury report after recovering from a dislocated left shoulder suffered during the second week of the season. Dolphins safety Yeremiah Bell (toe) was limited. Linebacker Channing Crowder (thumb) participated fully.

DIFFERENCE OF OPINION: One of mercurial wide receiver Randy Moss' final acts of rudeness with the Minnesota Vikings was how he disrespected a local caterer serving an elaborate buffet in the locker room last Friday.

"We had the whole buffet set up, and we had a nice spread: chicken, ribs, round of beef with a carving station, the whole deal," Tinucci's co-owner Gus Tinucci told Minnesota reporters. "(Moss) he comes in, and I'm helping one of the guys and didn't look up, and all of a sudden I heard, 'What the (expletive) is this? I wouldn't feed this (expletive expletive) to my (expletive) dog!' "And he's screaming it at the top of his lungs. He never even came through the line. He walked up towards it, looked at it, made the big stink and walked away. He didn't eat." Former Vikings center Matt Birk, a Minnesota native who now plays for the Baltimore Ravens, couldn't disagree more with Moss about Tinucci's.

"It's delicious," Birk told the Times. "They have the best buffet around. It's a classy place. The family that owns it are great people. They do an outstanding job in the community. It's the best. "It's one guy's opinion. There are many other people that will tell you differently. I would assume something else was bothering him that day. Even if I was in a bad mood, I would still eat their food." Birk has been friends with the Tinucci family ever since he played for the Vikings. How would the six-time Pro Bowl center have reacted to Moss' outburst?

"I wouldn't have said anything to him," Birk said with a smile. "It would have just been more food for me."

The embarrassing episode was met with displeasure by at least one Vikings player. "Nobody said anything except for one who said, 'Shut the (expletive) up, Randy,' " Tinucci said. "If (Brett) Favre would have had a ball, he would have beaned him right in the head. Favre looked at him like, 'Are you kidding me?' " Plus, a locker room employee apologized to Tinucci. "He said, 'Don't worry about it, Gus, he's an (expletive)," Tinucci said. "He's done this every time we've had food.'" Now, Moss can see if Tennessee barbecue is more to his liking after being claimed off waivers by the Titans.

They were the only NFL team to put in a waiver claim for Moss, who's now on his third team already this season.

QUICK HITS: The last time the Ravens played the Dolphins was two years ago when Reed intercepted Chad Pennington for two of his four interceptions in a Baltimore playoff win. Now, the Dolphins are quarterbacked by Chad Henne. The Dolphins' leading receiver is former Denver Broncos star Brandon Marshall, who has caught 47 passes. ... Although Ravens running back Willis McGahee grew up in Miami and played at the University of Miami, he wasn't a Dolphins fan. "Oh no, that wasn't my team growing up," he said. "My team was the Cowboys. Playing against the Dolphins, you always want to shine against your hometown team." ...

The Ravens expect cornerback Fabian Washington to bounce back after being benched in the fourth quarter against the Bills after allowing three touchdown passes to Lee Evans. "He seems well," Harbaugh said. "We'll find out in the game. That's what corners have to do. To play corner in this league, they say you have to have a short memory. I kind of prefer a long memory. I think you learn from your mistakes and you apply it and try to get better. Fabian's done that. He's worked hard all week, and I expect him to play really well."

... Flacco's family liked his Jersey Shore haircut for Halloween, which he has since shorn back into his normal hairstyle. "They saw pictures by the time I got home, and they knew I was doing it," he said. "I don't know if they thought it was going to be as detailed as it was, but everybody liked it. It was pretty cool."

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