Ravens Tuesday Notebook

OWINGS MILLS – Spitgate won't die with the heated confrontation between Baltimore Ravens fullback Le'Ron McClain and Miami Dolphins linebacker Channing Crowder remaining a controversial issue one day after McClain allegedly spit on Crowder.

Although videos emerged where McClain reared back his head and appeared to spit on Crowder, the Pro Bowl blocker vehemently insisted that he didn't intentionally spit on his opponent. McClain did acknowledge that some saliva might have landed on Crowder during the altercation he had with him during the Ravens' 26-10 victory Sunday at M&T Bank Stadium.

"Me and the dude just jawing back and forth," McClain said. "Said a few things we probably don't want to say to each other but did that. Spit came out of my mouth when I said something to the dude and that was it. It wasn't on purpose. I'm not that kind of player. That was it. It was a football game. ..

"You can see it on the film. I did not spit on the guy. We were talking. He said stuff to me I didn't want to hear, I said stuff he didn't want to hear. It's football. The heat of the game, nothing against him. I'm on to Atlanta right now." An NFL spokesman said that the league office is reviewing the incident

And Dolphins coach Tony Sparano said he has proof that McClain spit on Crowder and has passed on that evidence to the league. "It's upsetting to me," Sparano said. "There's a lot of things that go on in this game from a talking standpoint and trash talking standpoint. That's part of the game I get it. This whole deal here about spitting in somebody's face, nowhere in this game do I see any place for that." McClain was asked why Crowder got so angry and went after him when he appeared to cock back his head and then moved it forward in a spitting motion.

So, why did Crowder get so angry when McClain cocked back his head and appeared to spit on him. "I don't know why he got mad," McClain said. "I'm a football player and I'm getting ready for Atlanta right now. I'm not worried about anybody on Miami right now. My focus is on Atlanta." McClain said he isn't concerned about possibly being fined.

"That's up to the NFL," McClain said. "I can't worry about that right now. I did what I had to do, said what I had to say."

Ravens coach John Harbaugh said he stands behind McClain and believes his version of events. "Obviously, we've heard a lot of things from Channing over the years," Harbaugh said. "We've talked to Le'Ron. We've seen the videotape of it. It didn't happen. "He's a captain at Alabama. He's a Pro Bowler. He's been nothing but a model guy here for us. I don't believe for one second that it happened. He might have thought it happened, but it wasn't the way it was described. So, we're past that." McClain said he isn't concerned about his reputation around the league.

Weeks ago in an overtime loss to the New England Patriots, McClain drew a costly personal foul for retaliating against linebacker Jermaine Cunningham and giving him a shove.

"There's nothing I can do," McClain said. "All I can do is tell them to just watch film of No. 33 every week. I'm just getting ready for Atlanta. You can say what you want about me. I'm a great guy. I've never been a guy like that.

"They need to check him, not me. He said stuff to me I didn't want to hear, I said stuff to him that he didn't want to hear, but it's football. Nothing against him, but I'm onto Atlanta. If they want to stick with this the whole week, they can, but I'm playing Thursday night, man." All-Pro middle linebacker Ray Lewis said he spoke to McClain after the game and asked him if he spit on Crowder and buys his denial. "During the course of a game something is going to jump up like that," Lewis said. "So, we have to be the ones with the cool heads and not get the 15 yards. We've been through a lot of that before."

BACK TO WORK: The Ravens got back to work Monday, beginning the arduous task of a short work week heading into Thursday's game against the Atlanta Falcons at the Georgia Dome.

The Falcons also played on Sunday, but have the edge of not having to travel.

The Ravens have to condense a week of practice into a few days prior to traveling Wednesday. "It's a disadvantage if you allow it to be," wide receiver Derrick Mason said. "If you sit back and say 'We're tired and we got to play on such a short week,' then you're setting yourself up for failure. We saw the schedule when it came out. We knew what was ahead of us. We knew it was coming." Wide receiver Anquan Boldin echoed other players' sentiments about a Thursday night game. "I'm not in favor of it," Boldin said. "The only way you should play a Thursday night game is if you've just come off a bye week. Other than that, I'm not in favor of it. Increases the risk of injuries especially for us.

"You look at us playing a physical game on Sunday then turn around and travel to Atlanta, that's a tough situation. But I think we're the team just for it."

When asked if there's a disconnect between the NFL saying it wants to prevent injuries and having players have a short turnaround for a game on the NFL Network, the league's in-house network," Boldin laughed loudly. "I'll let you answer that," he said. Middle linebacker Ray Lewis said the Ravens will be prepared.

"I know we'll be at our best," Lewis said. "I don't care how short he week is. If it's on your schedule, deal with it. We will definitely be ready to play."

Ideally, Lewis said he would vote to not play on Thursday nights.

"You do it because it's part of the business," Lewis said. "But I'm almost guaranteeing that 99 percent of us would vote against that. It goes back to the 18-game schedule. You have to ask yourself a real question when you schedule games like this: ‘Who does it help?' Because it doesn't help the players, that turnaround is just too quick."

An aspiring broadcaster, Mason said he's in favor of Thursday night football. "I love it because one day I want a job," Mason said. "I want to be one of those guys covering a Thursday night game. It is what it is. We understand that not everyone is going to play on Thursday night.

"It's actually an honor to be picked to play when nobody else is playing. That's how much the league thinks of us as a team." DEMOTED: Benched for the second consecutive game Sunday against the Dolphins and replaced by Josh Wilson, cornerback Fabian Washington said he doesn't expect to regain his starting job Thursday night against the Falcons. "I think they're leaning toward Josh," Washington said. "So, that's what I'm thinking. I'm not sure."

Harbaugh said that Washington didn't play in the second half because the team wanted to get Wilson in the game, not because of any injury. One game after allowing three touchdown passes to the Buffalo Bills' Lee Evans, Washington said he was benched because he missed a tackle on a reception by Brian Hartline in the second quarter. "That was to give Josh a chance," Harbaugh said. Wilson said he hasn't been told if he's starting yet, but will be prepared to play all four quarters Thursday.

"I just wait and hear what the coaches have to say," Wilson said. "I'm ready for whatever."

STICKING WITH DAVID REED: The Ravens plan to keep rookie wide receiver David Reed in place as their primary kickoff returner after he returned two kickoffs for 44 yards against the Dolphins. Reed dropped his first kickoff, but picked it up and ran for 23 yards. The Ravens are hoping to keep Reed in place going forward.

"Well, I don't think he did anything to make us think he couldn't," Harbaugh said. "He did a nice job. We'll probably continue to give him opportunities back there. I thought he looked good." The Ravens' latest depth chart lists Reed as the top kickoff returner ahead of Wilson and Jalen Parmele.

Meanwhile, Lardarius Webb is now listed as the first punt returner ahead of Tom Zbikowski and Chris Carr.

Rookie nose guard Terrence Cody is now listed ahead of Brandon McKinney. McKinney started the last four games before being a healthy scratch against the Dolphins.

STILL ANGRY: One day after Crowder made threats against McClain, fellow Miami linebacker Karlos Dansby said it was difficult to calm his teammate down.

"The spit escalated it to a whole another level," Dansby told South Florida reporters. "I wish I would've known or seen it. On the street, you'd get killed for that. The whole damn sideline was trying to calm him down, but they didn't understand what happened. "Once they found out what happened then, damn, you should've whupped his ass. He asked me on the sidelined should he go whup him. I'm like, ‘Yeah, go whup him,' but then I'm like, ‘I need you, if you do it, you're gonna hurt your team. So, you have to hold back." Meanwhile, Dansby was critical of the Ravens in general.

"It's real soft, offensive line was soft, fullbacks were soft, [expletive] quarterbacks was soft, whole offensive scheme was [expletive] soft," Dansby said. "That's the most disappointing part about it."

If the Ravens are so soft, how did the Ravens manage to pile up 402 yards of total offense with several passes out of the backfield to running backs Ray Rice and Willis McGahee. "That's just their scheme, man," Dansby said. "They soft. They want to take a shot. If it ain't there, they want to check it down. They don't ever want to take risks.

"They'll screen you to death, check it down, all high-percentage offense. They're scared. Flacco will throw the game away, which he will if you get them behind."

QUICK HITS: Free safety Tom Zbikowski (bruised heel) didn't practice Monday. He's the lone player the Ravens listed on their initial injury report of the week. The Ravens are fairly healthy. "There's nothing serious," Harbaugh said. "There's the usual bumps and bruises, but guys are working hard.".

.. Running back Matt Lawrence, who remains on the physically unable to perform list after tearing his anterior cruciate ligament last year, returned to practice Monday. The team hasn't placed him on the active roster at this point, though. "It went real well," Lawrence said. "I was full-go. It was a lot of fun."

… The Falcons ruled out tight end Justin Peelle (groin).

… The following players didn't practice today for Atlanta: center Todd McClure (knee), former Ravens quarterback Chris Redman (non-injury reasons), linebacker Sean Weatherspoon (knee) and wide receiver Roddy White (knee). … Limited for Atlanta: wide receiver Brian Finneran (knee), linebacker Curtis Lofton (knee), running abck Jason Snelling (knee) and cornerback Brian Wiliams (hamstring). … Ed Reed leads the Ravens with three interceptions despite playing in only two games this season. The former NFL Defensive Player of the Year missed the first six games of the season on the physically unable to perform list following offseason hip surgery. "Obviously, he's a great football player,"

Harbaugh said. "He's worked really hard on getting himself prepared for the time when he was going to come back, and you guys saw how hard he was working. I think it's a tribute to him, the kind of person he is, how important it is to him, and the caliber of player he is. I've said it many times: I think he's going to be a first-ballot Hall of Famer, and that's the way he's playing." Reed intercepted Dolphins quarterback Chad Henne in the fourth quarter and he considered lateraling to Lewis, but teammates talked him into holding onto the ball. "If I was ever pitching it, I have to be smart in that situation," Reed said. "We had great field position and the offense was doing a great job moving the ball, so I just have to be smart with it." Reed was asked if he's good for one interception per game.

"I'm trying," he said. "I certainly hope we can. I was in the right spot at the right time. I caught it, and I just took it down." …McKinney and linebacker Dannell Ellerbe were surprise scratches against the Dolphins. "We just felt that they weren't in the 45 for that game," Harbaugh said. "So, we'll just have to see how it goes this week. It's not that they weren't practicing well enough. If you look at the guys that were up, I think you can understand it."

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