OWINGS MILLS — The heated sideline confrontation between wide receiver Derrick Mason and quarterback Joe Flacco on Sunday at Bank of America Stadium has dominated conversation all week surrounding the Baltimore Ravens.
However, there were plenty of signs and words Wednesday indicating that peace has been restored in the locker room. Both Flacco and Mason downplayed the incident with the quarterback going so far as to say he was laughing about it 10 seconds after he was done arguing with the veteran wide receiver.
"Everybody’s not happy or chummy all the time, especially on a Sunday," said Mason, who as the aggressor in the conflict. "Guys get into it. Heat of the moment, you say some things. Things happen. You put it behind you and move on."
Mason and Flacco exchanged profanities and had to be separated by teammates in the second half of a 37-13 win over the Carolina Panthers. And coach John Harbaugh felt prompted to talk to Flacco three times about the incident.
"I’ll let it stay up to whatever the different accounts are," Flacco said. "It was Sunday. We were in a good battle, and things happen on the sideline sometimes. I was laughing 10 seconds after it was over. I’ve known how to deal with that through high school and college and your time in the NFL.
"I think you’re always going to deal with those kinds of situations, whether it’s you that’s pissed off or it’s one of your teammates. Everybody is going to be a little heated at some point. You’ve got to learn how to deal with it and get by it."
Flacco said he deals with conflict on a case-by-case basis.
"It’s different," he said. "Sometimes you let the guy go, and sometimes you speak your mind. It depends on who the guy is, and it really just calls for what you’re feeling in the moment, I think."
Flacco said he’s not concerned about possibly having a fractured relationship with Mason going forward.
"Not really," Flacco said. "I guess they can be, but not between me and Derrick."
Mason didn’t confirm or deny accounts that he grabbed Flacco’s facemask during the episode.
"I’m not going to tell y’all that," he said. "Me and Joe are OK. We’re fine. "Whatever transpired, it transpired. Joe and I, that’s still my guy. That’s still my quarterback and still one of my good friends on the team. I’ll move on."
Known for his emotional style and his temper, Mason has clashed in the past with coaches. He emphasized Wednesday that he’s never been in an argument with a teammate, but that’s a questionable claim.
"It’s not like this is something that’s common, like something I get into every week," Mason said. "I’m just passionate about what I do. If you don’t like it, so be it. Watch somebody else play. This is how I play. I’m going to continue to be passionate. I think it’s one of those things that will blow over. We come in here and laugh and we keep it moving."
CHESTER HEALTHIER: Offensive guard Chris Chester is out of the hospital following a bout with a bacterial infection and has improved rapidly enough that he wouldn’t rule out playing Sunday against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The infection spread quickly through his right leg.
By Thursday night, Chester was hospitalized at the emergency room with pain, swelling and fever setting in. His leg was hot to the touch. And doctors had to drain fluid and pus from his leg.
"I’m taking it by day by day," said Chester, who didn’t practice Wednesday. "I wouldn’t rule out this week at all."
Chester was sidelined for the Panthers game because of an infected cut that spread quickly and caused a high fever. Tony Moll started in his place at right guard.
"They got quite a bit of the infection out and they gave me some antibacterial stuff to make sure everything was out of there," he said. "I feel fine. I feel much better. It was a little scary. Things progressed quickly. It caught me off guard."
ZBIKOWSKI RETURNS TO PRACTICE: Free safety Tom Zbikowski returned to practice after missing the past four games with a bruised right heel. He was limited in practice Wednesday. It’s been a frustrating experience for Zbikowski, who was starting until he got injured.
"It’s been terrible, miserable," Zbikowski said. "Any other adjective you want to put in there, that’s what it’s been. Zbikowski joked that he’s been reading self-help and don’t jump books to alleviate his brooding.
"Those tend to work," he said. "Self-worth books, things like that. Reading helps."
In a walking boot for weeks, Zbikowski was eager to get back on the field and see how his foot does.
"It’s feeling good," Zbikowski said. "I think I’ll be able to tell a lot more [Thursday] to see how sore it is. It’s been feeling good. I just want to see how it feels."
Harbaugh expressed optimism that Zbikowski could play Sunday against Tampa Bay.
"Zibby’s got a good chance," Harbaugh said. "Hopefully, he’ll be there. We just have to see how he practices. We’ve got our fingers crossed."
Zbikowski acknowledged that he was concerned for a while about being placed on injured reserve.
"It pops in your mind," he said. "I wouldn’t say it’s 100 percent. I’d say it’s getting close. I know once you’re on IR you’re done, so I was not looking to get on it at all. It was giving me some pain back there, but it’s feeling good now."
INJURY REPORT: Reed didn’t practice due to an illness. Also not practicing; defensive end Cory Redding (hand). Besides Zbikowski, tight end Ed Dickson (thigh) was limited.
Buccaneers defensive end Kyle Moore (shoulder) and tight end Kellen Winslow (knee) didn’t practice. Linebacker Quincy Black (ankle), wide receiver Sammy Stroughter (foot) and offensive tackle Jeremy Trueblood (knee) participated fully.
BACK IN BLACK: The Ravens plan to wear their alternate black jerseys Sunday. They’re also breaking them out for their home game against the New Orleans Saints. The Ravens haven’t said if they’ll wear black pants, but it’s considered unlikely since Harbaugh doesn’t like that look.
"I was waiting for it Sunday night against the Steelers," Suggs said. "That would be a beautiful game to bring that out. I guess we’re wearing the black. Bring it on, let’s do it."
LOBBYING FOR TURKEY BOWL: Harbaugh said he would love to host a Thanksgiving night game in Baltimore.
"I want to have a game on Thursday," he said. "I’d like to have it at home. I’d love to have one here, have a Thursday night game for the Ravens fans. That would be cool.
"One of these days, the Ravens are going to get a home, prime-time game that’s not on Sunday night, Monday night or Thursday night, one of these days. If Mr. Goodell is listening, we’d like to get one of those someday."
MOVING FORWARD: Burnt for a touchdown each of the past two games, cornerback Josh Wilson chalked up the latest breakdown in coverage to a communication issue.
Wilson was beaten for the game-winning score against the Atlanta Falcons when he was shoved to the ground by Roddy White. He allowed David Gettis to get behind him for an 88-yard score against Carolina.
"It was just a miscommunication," Wilson said. "It was on me. I need to make sure I get the communication and it was me playing one thing and everybody else playing something else."
QUICK HIT: The Ravens signed former Kansas City Chiefs offensive lineman Colin Brown to the practice squad, choosing him over fellow offensive lineman and Cliff Louis after both players tried out Tuesday.
"It’s a great experience," Brown said. "It’s a great deal to be here. I just want to come in and do my part and help however I can."
Brown was with the Hartford Colonials of the United Football League.
Because the 6-foot-7, 341-pounder was signed to an NFL practice squad, the Ravens didn’t have to pay a mandatory $150,000 transfer fee to the UFL.
"There were a lot of rumors going around about that," Brown said. "I’m just glad I’m able to be here."
THANKFUL: All-Pro middle linebacker Ray Lewis observed his usual tradition of handing out turkeys to needy families in Baltimore. What motivates him to give back?
"I was once in that line," Lewis said. "I was once in that line before. And me and my mom, we grew up hard, and she’s always instilled that in me. That was the one part that she made sure that when we got older, we knew that giving back was one of the most important things that she’s always instilled in all of her kids. So, every year I just try to, really, it’s just the hands-on things for me.
"It’s a very long day, but the impact of what came out of it was remarkable just hearing the comments and hearing how grateful people really are. Just for you to stand up there for almost six hours, I understand that I’m giving them something, but in return I get a whole lot that they will never understand. Like when I went home, you find yourself very emotional listening to some of the conversations.. It’s just something that’s really just instilled in me."