Mason, McAlister fined by NFL

OWINGS MILLS -- Baltimore Ravens cornerback Chris McAlister and wide receiver Derrick Mason were fined $5,000 apiece by the NFL for their unsportsmanlike conduct against the Detroit Lions.

McAlister was flagged for taunting in the Ravens' 35-17 loss Sunday when he slammed the football down at Lions receiver Kevin Johnson after an interception.

"I don't have the right to slam the football down on anyone," McAlister said.

Mason was penalized for unsportsmanlike conduct when he flung the football at a wall. This followed Mason arguing with an official ruling a pass incomplete after he caught it out of bounds.

The NFL already fined both defensive end Terrell Suggs and safety Ed Reed $15,000 for making impermissible contact with officials.

HUSTLING: Prior to the debacle in Detroit, coach Brian Billick described the Ravens' practices as the best he's seen all year. And the Ravens (1-3) promptly unraveled with a franchise-record 21 penalties and two ejections.

Now, Billick is once again describing practice as top-notch. He even related that defensive players are sprinting back to the huddle after every snap.

Since only the beginning of practice -- stretching and individual drills -- is open to reporters, there's no way to independently verify the description.

"People can be critical if they want when I say this, but I can only tell you what I see: The intensity and tempo was outstanding," Billick said. "I am amazed at these guys. Some people don't want to hear that, but I can't help it.

"I'm not going to lie to you. I am going to tell you exactly what I see. I'm very pleased with the mental aspect of this team."

FAMILIAR FACES: Cleveland Browns quarterback Trent Dilfer, the starter for the Ravens' Super Bowl team, is likely to receive a standing ovation Sunday. What kind of reception will former Ravens cornerback Gary Baxter receive?

In a controversial departure, Baxter signed a $30 million offer sheet with the Browns when he was on the cusp of a new deal with Baltimore.

The Ravens reportedly lowered their offer to Baxter, which they have denied. Agent David Dunn apparently shopped the offer to Browns general manager Phil Savage, the former Ravens executive who closed the deal with Baxter.

General manager Ozzie Newsome met with Baxter at a McDonald's near the team's training complex to try to talk him out of leaving. It didn't work as Baxter got on the plane to Cleveland and signed.

Baltimore rebounded well by signing former Pro Bowl cornerback Samari Rolle.

"Fans will welcome him back in their own right or wrong way into our stadium," said McAlister, a close friend of Baxter's. "Gary's a good guy. He had to leave. He wasn't forced out, but it was a situation where he felt it was best if he left. It'll be good to see Gary again face-to-face on the field and off the field."

TRAINING ROOM: Fullback Alan Ricard is progressing well, according to Billick, although still listed as questionable on the injury report with a calf strain. He has been limited in practice.

"We've been nurturing him," Billick said.

Defensive tackle Dwan Edwards (neck) and nose guard Maake Kemoeatu (knee) were added to the injury report Friday with probable listings, but both practiced.

In addition to being a long time contributor to RavensInsider, Aaron Wilson writes for the Carroll County Times in Westminster Maryland.

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