Ravens Notebook

OWINGS MILLS – Fabian Washington gets high marks for resiliency. It's been a rough stretch for the Baltimore Ravens cornerback after being benched weeks ago and replaced in the starting lineup by Josh Wilson. And then he was a healthy scratch for the first time since joining the Ravens.

Now, Washington is climbing his way back onto the field.

During the Ravens' 13-10 loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers at M&T Bank Stadium, Washington substituted for Lardarius Webb at cornerback and also played on special teams. "The coach decided to throw me in for a couple of plays," Washington said. "I'm trying to work my way back into the lineup and get as many plays as I can and help out the team any way I can. I played on special teams. I'm trying to help out any way I can."

Washington recorded one tackle against the Steelers. Despite his reduced status, Washington has maintained a positive attitude. "Fabian gets disappointed sometimes, but he never gets down on himself," Ravens coach John Harbaugh said. "He's got that confidence of a corner, and you make a good point: He came back and played well.

"He covered well, and he played well on special teams. He had a couple great blocks on some of those punt returns. I was pretty impressed with the way he played and how he's handled himself the last few weeks. It says a lot about Fabian." HARBAUGH SURPRISED AT MCCLAIN FINE: Harbaugh expressed shock and disbelief at inside linebacker Jameel McClain being fined $40,000 by the NFL for his concussion-causing hit on Pittsburgh Steelers tight end Heath Miller. McClain knocked Miller out of the game. The hefty fine represents 11.75 percent of McClain's $470,000 salary and is more than his $26,647 weekly game check.

"I was shocked," Harbaugh said tonight on his weekly radio program. "He's a first-time offender. Jameel, there was nothing he can do. I think the league understands that. I can't imagine why they fined him so much. "Jameel tried to go low. He did everything humanly possible to hit the tight end low. You fine a guy $40,000 for trying to apply the rule. He tried to do something that's against the rule of physics. I say you're taking someone's money unfairly."



RETURN GAME IMPROVING: Cornerback Lardarius Webb posted a 35-yard punt return against the Steelers, marking his season-high. "The guys have just been working so hard this week to block," Webb said. "They just did a great job of blocking. That's something we worked on all week. The guys say if I run and do my thing they're going to block their butt off. "That's just what they do. I got to give it up to the guys up front for blocking for me. Yes, it's coming along. I did it in college. Now, it's becoming more comfortable each week." Webb has returned 10 punts for 78 yards. The Ravens rank 27th in yards per punt return, averaging seven yards to rank 27th after ranking last in the league earlier this season. Against the Carolina Panthers, rookie wide receiver David Reed had an 84-yard kickoff return. "I think mainly the blocking is better, for one thing," Harbaugh said. "We're doing a pretty good job of blocking in both phases right now. I think the returners are getting a little bit more comfortable, a little more confident, maybe a little more aggressive with the way they're running.

"They both hit it up in there really hard, and they both got hit a couple times but held onto the ball. Hopefully, we're seeing the development of those two guys."



PRONE TO PENALTIES: The Ravens struggled against the Steelers at precision, drawing a season-high nine penalties for 53 yards. That included six penalties in the first quarter, three on offensive tackle Michael Oher with two false starts and one holding penalty. Oher leads the team with 10 penalties. "He had a tough night with the false starts and the holding penalty," Harbaugh said. "That was something that hurt us."

The Ravens led the league in penalty yardage last season, but have cut down significantly on penalties this year.



QUICK HITS: Harbaugh said that there's an "outside chance" that tight end Todd Heap could play Monday night against the Houston Texans with a pulled hamstring. He said that Heap will be held out of practice for the next few days. … Harbaugh expressed confidence that the team will bounce back from the defeat, but acknowledged that's not an easy task. No, it's not," he said. "It's really, it's easier done than said, I think, because the guys have put so much into it. I mean, when you commit, when you sacrifice, when you work for a common cause, and you've got a bunch of guys that you've been shoulder to shoulder with, and you've been in battle with, so to speak, then you have no other choice. Then you're going to bounce back, and that's what our guys are going to do." … The Ravens expect the return of Pro Bowl fullback Le'Ron McClain form a sprained ankle to provide a boost to the lagging running game.

"I thought we missed him, too," Harbaugh said. "He's a guy that helps you, having him in there. Not having Le'Ron, it would have helped us to have him. It was a tough choice, and that's the way we decided to go. I think it's valid to say it didn't help us not having him."

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