Flacco has sore hip, listed as probable

OWINGS MILLS – Baltimore Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco left practice early Friday to visit the training room due to a badly bruised right hip that has caused him to limp noticeably.

Ravens coach John Harbaugh downplayed the injury, which has Flacco listed as probable on the injury report while participating fully in practice all week heading into Sunday's AFC wild-card game against the New England Patriots.

"He was done with his work, so he goes in and gets treatment," Harbaugh said. "We've had that with different guys. We do that all year. He's fine."

Flacco has dealt with several injuries this season, including a sprained ankle and a sore shoulder.

The hip seems to be the most troublesome injury at the moment.

"It was stiff, but everything is good," Flacco said. "I just got a little bruising. It feels great right now. I just have to make sure it stays that way on Sunday."

DeCOSTA PULLS OUT OF SEAHAWKS' SEARCH: Ravens director of player personnel Eric DeCosta has withdrawn his name from consideration for the Seattle Seahawks' general manager vacancy.

DeCosta was one of four finalists for the job and had been slated to interview next week.

DeCosta is regarded as a strong potential successor for Ravens general manager Ozzie Newsome whenever Newsome decides to retire.

The sudden emergence of USC coach Pete Carroll as a candidate seems to have changed the outlook in Seattle for coaching and GM candidates.

The remaining finalists are New York Giants director of college scouting Marc Ross and Green Bay Packers director of football operations John Schneider.

Philadelphia Eagles general manager Tom Heckert has also pulled out of the search, but is expected to land the Cleveland Browns' general manager position.

MODELL DOESN'T MAKE HALL CUT: Former Ravens majority owner Art Modell wasn't among the 17 finalists for the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Modell was a semifinalist, but didn't make the cut again.

Modell was a finalist in 2001 and a semifinalist six other times. However, moving the original Cleveland Browns to Baltimore in 1996 has affected his candidacy with voters.

Modell retains a one-percent minority ownership of the Ravens after selling the team to Steve Bisciotti.

Meanwhile, former Ravens tight end Shannon Sharpe was named a finalist for the second year in a row.

INJURY REPORT: Besides Flacco, seven players are listed as probable on the injury report.

That includes tight end Todd Heap (neck), linebacker Jarret Johnson (back), long snapper Matt Katula (elbow), wide receiver Derrick Mason (knee), defensive tackle Haloti Ngata (ankle), defensive end Trevor Pryce (head), safety Ed Reed (groin), defensive back Marcus Paschal (back), safety Tom Zbikowski and offensive guard Marshal Yanda (knee).

"It feels pretty good," Ngata said. "I'll be ready to go in the game."

Patriots offensive lineman Dan Connolly (ankle) hasn't practiced all week, and is questionable.

Wide receiver Randy Moss didn't practice for non-injury reasons and is listed as probable.

According to New England reporters, Moss has been limping and has been applying ice to his knee all week.

Also listed as probable: quarterback Tom Brady (right shoulder, finger, ribs), wide receiver Julian Edelman (forearm), defensive end Jarvis Green (knee), offensive tackle Nick Kaczur (shoulder), cornerback Shawn Springs (knee), defensive end Ty Warren (ankle), tight end Ben Watson (knee) and nose guard Vince Wilfork (foot).

WILFORK'S IMPACT: The return of Wilfork hasn't gone unnoticed by the Ravens. The big nose guard is a very disruptive force at the line of scrimmage.

"They're a physical front, and you can't play that defense without recognizing that guy, Vince Wilfork," running back Ray Rice said. "When he wants to stop a play, he'll stop a play. We have to pick and choose our spots when we run at that guy."

The job of blocking Wilfork falls primarily to six-time Pro Bowl center Matt Birk.

"Huge challenge, he's a great player, has been for a while," Birk said. "I played against him a few times. Always been impressed by the way the plays the run and the pass and just the disruptive force he can be.

"Obviously, a huge challenge for me and a huge challenge for the entire offensive line with a guy like that."

STAYING READY: Nick Sundberg is staying ready, just in case.

If the practice squad rookie is needed to step in for Katula, he says he's prepared.

Katula is dealing with tendinitis in his snapping elbow, which has led to a series of bad snaps.

"I've learned a lot," said Sundberg, who played in the UFL this season and was signed by Baltimore recently to give Katula a break in practice. "It's helped me more than I could have imagined. If I wasn't here, I would be at home snapping by myself.

"It's a situation where I need to be ready to play at all times. It hasn't been a situation ever where the coaches are saying, ‘You need to be ready to play on Sunday.'"

Sundberg tried out for four teams before catching on with Baltimore.

"I think this has definitely helped push me in the right direction," he said. "It has put me further on the map."

QUICK HITS: The Ravens practiced in their indoor facility all week while preparing for a playoff game Sunday at Gillette Stadium. Normally, the Ravens practice outdoors. They couldn't this week because the field is frozen. "We've had some of our sessions outside," Harbaugh said. "The fields don't allow us to go out there as much as we want from a footing standpoint. They're frozen. Probably if they weren't frozen, we would have been out there more, but we had it as cold as we could get it in here. And we're playing on turf, so we just felt like that was a priority." … Following the Ravens' win over the Oakland Raiders to clinch a playoff berth, Harbaugh wielded a shovel and a sword in the locker room to celebrate the win. Harbaugh explained how the sword and shovel made it to Oakland. "President Obama is asking the same question," Harbaugh said with a smile."For the record, we did not take it across country. We got it out there and it stayed out there." Harbaugh used the sword and shovel as symbols to relate a biblical story. "We told the team about the Nehemiah story, which is about a great man who went back to Jerusalem way back when and rebuilt a wall around the city, and what that took and all the obstacles he faced, the challenges that were in front of him," Harbaugh said. "Through the course of that, there were people trying to stop him from building the wall. They had a shovel in one hand and a sword in the other, so they had to defend themselves at the same time they were working. We felt like that was appropriate for us midway through the season, and the guys had fun with it." Harbaugh had plenty of room with offensive guard Chris Chester backing away when he pulled out the sword. … Patriots coach Bill Belichick directed some heavy praise toward Reed, whom he has coached in the Pro Bowl. "Ed Reed, I don't think there is a better safety in the NFL than Ed Reed," Belichick said. "You look at the play he made against Indianapolis, that interception, to me, that's got to be the play of the year in the secondary. That's as good a play as any player can make back there, the way he set it up, and then reacted and played the ball. I mean, it was just a tremendous play." … Birk met another fellow Harvard player last week, Oakland Raiders defensive lineman Desmond Bryant. "I told him, I didn't even know you existed," Birk said. "He's a rookie, so it's good to replenish that pipeline once in a while, I guess." … Veteran linebacker Jarret Johnson praised undrafted rookie Dannell Ellerbe, who had two turnovers against the Raiders. "He's a steal, a guy that was a sleeper in camp and coaches loved, but nobody really knew him," Johnson said. "Very explosive, a young guy running around and he's just gotten better every game. He made a big play last week, so he's definitely a steal for us." … Along with linebacker Terrell Suggs, Ngata was flagged for roughing the passer in the first meeting with New England for a hit on Brady. "I think we've been adjusting through the season on rushing the passer," Ngata said. "You have to make sure you stay away from his head and his knees. We've been working on the penalties and making sure it doesn't happen. I think we've been doing a good job." … With his brother, Jim Harbaugh, rumored to be a potential candidate for the Buffalo Bills and Oakland Raiders' jobs, John Harbaugh spoke generally about the potential prospects of both Harbaugh's coaching in the NFL one day. "That'd be pretty cool," he said. "I hope so, but he's happy there obviously. I don't think he's in any hurry to leave. He's got some things to do there, one of them would be winning the Pac-10 championship. That would be a great honor, a great thrill if that happens. He definitely could do it, there's no doubt about it."

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