Notebook: Hines Ward defends reputation

BALTIMORE -- Pittsburgh Steelers rugged wide receiver Hines Ward relishes his tough-guy reputation.   And he doesn't care that he was voted as the dirtiest player in the NFL in a recent Sports Illustrated poll.   If anything, he wears the distinction as a badge of honor.

He figures that the Baltimore Ravens might have stuffed the ballot box a few extra times.

  "I'm pretty sure they voted three or four times," Ward said with a laugh during a conference call with Baltimore reporters prior to Sunday night's game at M&T Bank Stadium. "I don't really resent it. I look at it as an honor. What wide receiver in history has been known as the dirtiest player in the league?

  "For me, I don't want people who don't know anything about football and the first thing they read is 'the dirtiest player' to get a misconception of me personally as a human being. I'm just trying to win. Same time, when I go across the middle, these guys aren't going to try to tackle me softly. They're trying to rip my head off. Why should I wait around for that to happen?"

  Heading into this game, the usual exchange of trash talking with Ward was absent.

  With linebacker Bart Scott and cornerback Chris McAlister no longer on the Ravens' roster, it was quieter than normal.

  "The competitive nature between myself and Bart and McAlister, it was a respect factor," Ward said. "McAlister is a great corner. I always loved going against him because he brought the best out of me. We got in our heated battles.

  "I'm pretty sure they're all going to talk trash to me. I don't want to single any player out. I just suspect all of them are going to be talking trash to me."  

STARTING LINEUP CHANGES: The Ravens started rookie Lardarius Webb for the first time.  

Webb replaced veteran Fabian Washington, who was placed on injured reserve last week with a torn anterior cruciate ligament.

  With defensive ends Dwan Edwards and Trevor Pryce in the game at the same time to start the game, the Ravens went with Jarret Johnson at Terrell Suggs' rush linebacker spot.

  At times, the Ravens lined up with five defensive linemen with middle linebacker Ray Lewis and inside linebacker Tavares Gooden the only two linebackers as Johnson put his hand on the ground as a defensive end.  

Marshal Yanda started at right guard in place of Chris Chester, injecting the offensive line with a more physical presence. Yanda was replace by Chester last season when he tore all three major knee ligaments.  

QUICK HITS: The Ravens deactivated Suggs due to his sprained medial collateral ligament. That wasn't a surprise since he was listed as doubtful and didn't practice all week. They also deactivated third quarterback John Beck, newly-signed cornerback Cary Williams and fullback Charles Ali, outside linebacker Antwan Barnes, offensive tackles Oniel Cousins and Tony Moll and defensive tackle Kelly Talavou. For Barnes to be a healthy scratch again isn't a good sign considering the injury to Suggs. ... The Steelers deactivated Ben Roethlisberger (concussion) as the emergency third quarterback, quarterback Charlie Batch (broken wrist), cornerback Keenan Lewis, safety Troy Polamalu (strained posterior cruciate ligament), offensive guard Kraig Urbik offensive guard Chris Keomeatu (sprained medial collateral ligament) and defensive end Nick Eason. .. The Ravens game captains were tight end Edgar Jones, wide receiver Derrick Mason, free safety Ed Reed, middle linebacker Ray Lewis and defensive tackle Haloti Ngata. ... The Ravens tried out punter Brandon Stevens this week to prepare for Steelers lefty punter Daniel Sepulveda. ... The Ravens unveiled their white-and-purple rally towels, handing them out to fans before kickoff. They seemed to enjoy waving them, although it didn't quite match the Steelers' Terrible Towel tradition. ... It was an unusually late-season meeting for the first time between the Ravens and the Steelers, and it was prompted by Baltimore requesting that they not be scheduled against Pittsburgh to open the NFL schedule. ... After a brisk Friday practice where wind was a major factor, it was a pleasant Sunday evening. Special-teams coordinator Jerry Rosburg had some concerns about the weather forecast. "You've got to show up at the stadium and figure it out," Rosburg said. "I'm not 100 percent trusting our weather journalists." .. Steelers fullback Carey Davis, who tried out for the Ravens earlier this season, had a 14-yard run in the first half. … Westminster High quarterback Andy Gilford and wide receivers Carter Pearce and Aaron Miller won the quarterback challenge at halftime with Miller catching a 52-yard pass.


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