OWINGS MILLS – For Baltimore Ravens veteran defensive end Cory Redding, playing his hometown team in the playoffs might increase his cell phone bill.
As the Ravens (12-4) prepare for Sunday’s AFC divisional playoff game against the Houston Texans (11-6) at M&T Bank Stadium, he’s being inundated with calls.
“My phone has been blowing up the last few hours,” Redding said. “I had to put that thing away. It’s going to be exciting. Everybody at home will get a chance to see me play against my home team. I am getting text messages and calls now, but it’s exciting.”
Redding grew up a denizen of the Houston Oilers during the Luv Ya’ Blue era led by Bum Phillips and Earl Campbell.
“I grew up watching the days of Warren Moon and Earl Campbell and all those guys doing their thing and Billy ‘White Shoes’ Johnson,” Redding said. “It was real fun just to see those guys play. This is Texas, this is H-town. They have a lot of pride, and we know they are going to come in here ready to fight.
“It’s exciting to play my team from back home and you definitely, definitely want to do good when you are playing against someone that you are familiar with or a city that you are familiar with.”
This marks the Ravens’ first home playoff game in five years.
Should they beat the Texans and the Denver Broncos upset the top-seeded New England Patriots, the second-seeded Ravens would host the AFC championship game.
“That would be sweet,” Redding said. “That would be sweet to have the AFC championship here, pending the Broncos go up there and handle their business with the Patriots. If that’s not the case, then we have to go on the road with the mindset to win, no if, ands or buts about it.
“If they go up there and handle their business and get one against the Pats, then hey, we’re back at ‘The Bank.’ Open that thing up, and let’s have the AFC championship game here, which is going to be exciting of course. We don’t know how the scenario is going to work out, but it all looks good regardless of which way it’s going to go.”
QUICK HITS: Indianapolis Colts owner Jim Irsay would like to see the Ravens make the playoffs, mentioning owner Steve Bisciotti on his Twitter account along with former Baltimore Colts wide receiver Raymond Berry. Berry is going to present the Vince Lombardi trophy to the Super Bowl victor. “I’d love 2c Steve B get the Trophy and Baltimore n Indy,” Irsay wrote. “Got tons of friends there n it’s only fitting with my good friend R Berry n tow!” … In terms of counseling rookies like wide receiver Torrey Smith, cornerback Jimmy Smith and defensive end Pernell McPhee, Harbaugh said they should follow the veterans’ lead. “The biggest advice to me is, ‘Listen to the vets and watch the vets,’” Harbaugh said. “You’re going through this for the first time, you see what Matt Birk does. If you’re on the offensive line, do what Matt Birk does. If you’re a linebacker, do what Ray Lewis does. If you’re a defensive back, do what Ed Reed does. That’s the biggest advice we can give them. Our guys are great mentors, and our young guys are great students. So, our leadership will carry us and help carry those guys.” …
Whether the Ravens get out to a lead early or fall behind isn’t relevant to Harbaugh. All he cares about is the final score. “You have to get a lead at some point in time,” he said. “You better get a lead before the end of the game. That will be the goal. When the game is over, have the lead. That’s the idea. However, it goes is how it goes. My point is, it’s not going to be won in the first five minutes. If we get out to a lead, we’re going to have to play the next 55 minutes. If they get out to a lead, they’re going to have to play the next 55 minutes. Any football game is like that, especially playoff football. It takes a whole game.” … Harbaugh broke down the Texans’ patented zone stretch running play. “It challenges the whole width of the front, basically,” Harbaugh said. “It gets the front moving, and it challenges them to expand with it; move with the front, stay square, maintain gap control and control the blocker. What they try to do is basically expand the area that you have to cover horizontally and then find a crease. A back like Arian Foster finds the crease a lot of times. So, it’s not like it’s running in one hole. It can basically run anywhere from the tight end to the backside tackle.” …
Birk praised offensive tackle Bryant McKinnie, who joined the Ravens during the preseason after being cut from the Minnesota Vikings after reporting overweight. “I think he’s done great,” said Birk, who played with McKinnie in Minnesota. “ Same old Bryant, as far as I was concerned. Physically, there aren’t a lot of guys walking down the street with his physical skill set. He just came in here and kept his mouth shut like he always does and has worked. To sing his praise a little bit, he’s been a top-flight left tackle in this league for a long time. I think maybe because of his personality and just how he is, he probably doesn’t get all of the recognition that he deserves. That’s probably all right with him.”