OWINGS MILLS — Baltimore Ravens veteran wide receiver Derrick Mason is determined to prevent the Cincinnati Bengals from duplicating another shutout against him.
With the Bengals employing bracket coverage against Mason during a 17-14 win over Baltimore on Oct. 11 at M&T Bank Stadium, Mason was held without a single catch.
That has only happened one other time during Mason’s five-year tenure in Baltimore.
Against the Denver Broncos, Mason defeated single coverage to catch four passes for 40 yards. That included a 20-yard touchdown catch.
"You can’t cover me single coverage," Mason said. "You can’t. It hasn’t been done in 13 years, and it won’t be done. But it is what it is. You try to take advantage of coverages and how they play you.
“Cincinnati did a good job, a very good job, the first game at totally taking me out of the game. In the back of my mind, I just need to go into this game, work a little bit harder, find a way to, if they choose to do that again, find a way to get open. If not, then other people will be open."
Offensive coordinator Cam Cameron joked that he didn’t recall that Mason didn’t catch a pass during the first meeting with Cincinnati.
"Oh, I had forgotten that," he said. "It seems like two World Series ago."
GIFTS FROM OCHOCINCO: Bengals wide receiver Chad Ochocinco confirmed during a radio interview that he sent gift baskets that included roll-on deodorant to the Ravens’ secondary as well as linebackers Ray Lewis and Terrell Suggs.
There were strong rumors circulating around the Ravens about Ochocinco’s special deodorant delivery earlier Thursday.
The implication about the deodorant is fairly obvious.
"I not only sent them gift baskets, but I sent them something they could use so they don’t sweat," Ochocinco told 105.7 FM.
Five years ago, Ochocinco sent bottles of Pepto Bismol to the Cleveland Browns’ defensive backs prior to kickoff.
However, that stunt backfired as the Bengals lost the game and he was limited to three catches.
INJURY UPDATE: Although defensive coordinator Greg Mattison expressed confidence that Haloti Ngata will be available for Sunday, the big defensive tackle didn’t practice for the second day in a row.
That decreases the possibility that Ngata will be able to play after spraining his ankle against the Denver Broncos.
"That’s the trainers’ decision all the way, but I like Haloti," Mattison said. "I think Haloti will do what he has to do to play. I feel very good about Haloti."
If Ngata is sidelined, then the Ravens would start capable Justin Bannan in his place.
"This is a very physical league, you are always going to be as good as the next guy coming in," Mattison said. "So, we feel strongly that the next guy coming in is going to do his job if he’s not there."
Long snapper Matt Katula didn’t practice for the second consecutive day due to a sore elbow, but emphasized that he’ll definitely play against Cincinnati.
It’s a classic overuse injury.
"It’s not a big deal," Katula said. "It’s kind of been brewing for a little bit. It’s just a repetitive-motion type of thing. I just have to be smart about reps and stuff right now. We’re just being safe with it. I’ll be fine."
The fact that the Ravens haven’t brought in long snappers for tryouts this week, or any week this season, speaks volumes about the team’s confidence that Katula will be available.
Among the players who have practiced long-snapping on an emergency basis: running back Willis McGahee.
The Ravens don’t officially list a backup to Katula on the depth chart.
"Well, that’s curious," special-teams coordinator Jerry Rosburg said with a smile.
Rosburg never reveals anything that might remotely be regarded as strategic in nature.
When asked if he expected Katula to play, Rosburg replied: "I have no information for you on that."
Meanwhile, cornerback Frank Walker and linebacker Prescott Burgess returned to full participation in practice after sitting out Wednesday with illnesses.
"I just felt a little under the weather," Walker said. "I don’t know the scientific name for it. I just call it a little stomach ache."
The Ravens upgraded safeties Haruki Nakamura (strained abdominal muscle) and Tom Zbikowski (illness) to limited participation.
Fullback Le’Ron McClain (shoulder) and tight end Todd Heap (ankle) were limited again.
Outside linebacker Jarret Johnson (left shoulder) participated fully.
Meanwhile, Bengals fullback Jeremi Johnson (sprained left knee), strong safety Roy Williams (forearm) and safety Tom Nelson (shoulder) were limited.
Running back Bernard Scott (knee) and offensive tackle Andre Smith (foot) participated fully.
SCRATCHED: Walker said he isn’t bothered by being deactivated against the Broncos even though he was healthy.
He acknowledged that it was a surprise to learn he was being scratched shortly before kickoff.
"Everybody wants to play, but I feel like our coaches are always going to put this team in the best situation to win," Walker said. "Obviously, I wasn’t a part of that. No big deal."
QUICK HITS: After imitating Brandon Marshall and Randy Moss this season, practice squad wide receiver Justin Harper is now pretending to be Ochocinco as he has worn a No. 85 jersey in practice this week. … Mason isn’t a fan of trash-talking and he doesn’t buy into the theory that it affects a player’s game. "The best trash talker I’ve ever seen was Marvin Harrison," Mason said. "He said nothing, but he beat you every play. You don’t have to talk. If you beat a man every play, that’s your trash-talking right there. Some guys do it. But I’ve found that it just tires you out after a while. Physically, it tires you out. Some guys, it gets to them, but if you’ve been in this league long enough, it doesn’t bother you whether they’re trash-talking or not. You’re going out there and just playing. You’re not worried about trash-talking." …
Rosburg was encouraged by kicker Steve Hauschka’s long field goal against the Broncos as well as his kickoffs to contain dangerous returner Eddie Royal. "That was one of the best kicks he’s had all year," Rosburg said. "That ball was perfect. He kicked off very well. His kicks had a lot to do with our success that we had on kickoff coverage because we not only had depth in his kicks, but we had hang time. Eddie Royal had to stop a couple of times and restart, and it’s very difficult to restart on a kickoff return and have any success. Steve had a big part in that as well." … The Ravens are preparing for another left-footed punter this week in Bengals rookie Kevin Huber. Earlier this season, they’ve brought in lefty punters for one-day tryouts to get acclimated to the different rotation. "In our division it’s just what we live with," Rosburg said. "All three of our punters in our division that we play twice a year are all left-footed. We bring in guys and we practice with it. The ball’s different, it just is." … The Ravens are still mystified as to how free safety Ed Reed narrowly missed blocking a Mitch Berger punt. "I’m not exactly sure where it went," Rosburg said. "I think Harbs said it well: ‘We think the ball actually vaporized and went through his body and came out the other side, because we can’t see any space in there.’" …
The Ravens have used a committee approach to replace Pro Bowl special-teams ace Brendon Ayanbadejo, who’s out for the season with a torn quadriceps tendon that required surgery. Among the players who have filled the void: Nakamura, Zbikowski and Jameel McClain. "There’s no one man that was going to replace that player, because he’s a special player," Rosburg said. "In a remarkable kind of way, you see other players, plural, surfacing in the way that they’ve played." … Cameron made no guarantees that McGahee’s playing time will increase. "He’s going to get at least two series every first half," Cameron said. "Then, you kind of go from there. When you’re only getting 50 or 60 snaps, there’s just not a ton of series. Ninety in that first game was a little misleading. He’s going to play and he’ll play well. He’ll really play well because he practices lights out."
Aaron Wilson covers the Baltimore Ravens for the Carroll County Times and the Annapolis Capital.