Ravens' playmakers practicing patience

Two of the Baltimore Ravens' biggest playmakers aren't finding the ball in their hands nearly as much as they did last year. The players and head coach John Harbaugh react to the ensuing questioning.

The Ravens' drop-off on offense has coincided with the absence of two players: wide receiver Derrick Mason and running back Willis McGahee.

Mason, who has been the Ravens' No. 1 receiver since joining the team in 2005, has not been involved in losses at New England and against Cincinnati.

He has one catch for 11 yards over the past seven quarters. On Sunday, he had only one pass thrown in his direction.

"Ask our offensive coordinator because I couldn't tell you," Mason said. "I'm just running routes."

Was he open on the field?

"Obviously, I wasn't," he said. "I didn't get the ball. That's something you have to ask Cam Cameron. He'll be able to tell you."

Ravens coach John Harbaugh said the Bengals focused their coverage on Mason, and he expects the Vikings to do the same Sunday.

"You have to attack them where they're not defending," he said. "That's the challenge."

In addressing Mason's frustration, Harbaugh said, "If you're a really good player and you're not frustrated, I would be wondering what's going on. That's what good players do. That's how they feel after a loss. They want to do everything they can to help their team win. That's the way it's supposed to be. I kind of expect that from our guys."

The other player who has been taken out of the game plan is McGahee, who had been among the NFL's leaders in touchdowns.

Considered the most improved player on the Ravens, McGahee scored six touchdowns in victories against Kansas City, San Diego and Cleveland. Then, in the Ravens' losses the past two weeks, he has been limited to 10 touches.

"I can't give you nothing," McGahee said. "I've got nothing to be mad or frustrated about. I've got nothing to complain about."

Harbaugh's explanation is that it's difficult to spread the ball around to all three running backs (McGahee, Ray Rice and Le'Ron McClain).

"If we're not successful one week, it's going to be who didn't play or who didn't get the ball," Harbaugh said. "It's always going to be a conversation that we'll have, and it's fair. But you'll see plenty of Willis McGahee, Le'Ron McClain and Derrick Mason and all of our guys."

No team ran the ball more than the Ravens last season. They averaged 33.1 rushing attempts per game.

In playing the Patriots (the 14th-ranked run defense), the Ravens handed the ball off 16 times. Against the Bengals (ranked 15th against the run), they ran 17 times.

Asked why the Ravens haven't run as much, Harbaugh said tersely, "I'm not even going there. To me, answering that question would have no value for us. We ran the ball and passed the ball as much as we needed to."

Rice said the running backs are remaining patient.

"We all have our time," Rice said. "Going down the line, we definitely have to run the ball. We're a team that sticks with what's working. We have that running game in our arsenal. It's never going to go anywhere."


  • The Ravens don't expect any repercussions on Ray Lewis' helmet-to-helmet hit on Cincinnati receiver Chad Ochocinco.

    "Watching it on TV, I think it was in the strike zone (which is below the neck and above the knees)," Ravens coach John Harbaugh said Monday. "But I'm sure that is something (the NFL) will take a look at. ... As far as the game, that's a tough call to make either way."

  • The Ravens' NFL-long streak of not allowing a 100-yard rusher ended at 39 games. Cincinnati's Cedric Benson gained 120 yards Sunday, becoming the first player since 2006 to do that against the Ravens.

    "It definitely (stinks), especially for us as a D-line," defensive tackle Haloti Ngata said. "We take a lot of pride in it. It definitely stings a lot that he got a bunch of yards on us. We've got to fix it as a D-line."

  • Rookie Michael Oher received his first career start at left offensive tackle after Jared Gaither was sidelined with a neck injury.

    Oher, the team's first-round pick in April's draft, did not surrender a sack to Cincinnati defensive end Antwan Odom.

    "It was a little different, but you've got to move on and play," Oher said. "I feel I was prepared. I didn't give up any sacks, so I think I did OK."

  • The Ravens worked out two wide receivers, Ronald Curry and David Tyree. It was the second tryout for Tyree with the Ravens. Neither was signed Monday.

  • TE Todd Heap had a team-high nine passes thrown his way. He had seven catches for 41 yards, a 5.9-yard average.

  • RB Willis McGahee has been limited to 10 touches the past two weeks. He had scored six touchdowns in the first three games of the season.

  • FS Ed Reed scored the 13th touchdown of his career when he returned an interception 52 yards Sunday against the Bengals.

  • Lardarius Webb is the team's new kickoff returner and ran back his first kickoff 43 yards.

  • TE L.J. Smith hasn't made a catch the past two games. He is the team's No. 2 tight end behind Todd Heap.

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