OWINGS MILLS — Baltimore Ravens cornerback Frank Walker said he’s prepared for any revenge tactics or consequences stemming from his "slobber moment" during the last game against the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Walker said he accidentally spat in the mouth of Steelers punter Mitch Berger during a confrontation in the final minutes of the Ravens’ 13-9 loss in Baltimore on Dec. 14. A disgusted, angry Berger didn’t accept Walker’s version of events and said he’s convinced it was intentional.
If Walker has made himself a convenient target, he doesn’t seem to care.
"It doesn’t even matter, though," Walker said Wednesday. "It is what it is. I won’t be hiding, though."
Walker also went out of his way to clarify that his account of what happened shouldn’t be interpreted as saying he’s sorry even though he passed word through his friend, Steelers safety Ryan Clark, that he didn’t mean to spit on Berger.
"I don’t really give them an explanation," Walker said. "I just stated what happened. It wasn’t an apology or anything."
When asked if he planned to go up to Berger to put the incident behind them prior to kickoff, Walker issued a one-word answer: "No."
It’s possible that Walker could play a central role in this game because he would start at cornerback for the sixth time this season if Samari Rolle is out due to a groin injury incurred against the Tennessee Titans.
According to Walker, the defensive coaches haven’t told him what his role would be yet.
"No, they haven’t told me anything yet," Walker said. "Playing it by ear."
TRAINING ROOM: Including Rolle (groin) and linebacker Terrell Suggs (strained right shoulder), seven starters were held out of practice.
Suggs and Rolle, who also has a hamstring injury, are the biggest question marks for Sunday.
Also not practicing: defensive tackle Justin Bannan (foot), linebacker Jarret Johnson (calf), running back Le’Ron McClain (ankle) and wide receivers Derrick Mason (knee) and Mark Clayton (thigh).
Of course, Mason also has a dislocated left shoulder. But the Ravens only listed the knee injury he received treatment for Wednesday.
The Ravens ruled out linebacker Antwan Barnes (chest).
Tight end Todd Heap (back), linebacker Ray Lewis (shoulder), fullback Lorenzo Neal (shoulder) and free safety Ed Reed (knee), who also has a nerve impingement in his neck, were limited in practice.
"Relatively, this season I’ve been pretty healthy compared to last year," Heap said. "But the last few weeks I’ve played through quite a bit of pain and it’s all been worth it to get to this point, though. It’s been progressively getting better, which is good, and I’ll be ready to go again this week."
For the Steelers, safety Troy Polamalu (calf) and center Justin Hartwig (knee) didn’t practice. Running back Willie Parker, wide receiver Hines Ward, defensive end Aaron Smith and cornerback Deshea Townsend were given the day off from practice, but aren’t injured.
QUICK HITS: The Ravens practiced outside in cold temperatures that may feel extremely comfortable compared to what awaits them Sunday night in Pittsburgh. Weather forecasts call for temperatures in the 20s with a chance of snow. "It’s a beautiful day out there," Ravens coach John Harbaugh said. "Our field is in great shape." Added rookie quarterback Joe Flacco: "I’ve never played in weather that cold, but I’m not planning on it being too much of a factor. You get out there, you get warmed up and once you get into the flow of the game, it’s not really that big of a deal." .. Veteran defensive end Trevor Pryce has played in two Super Bowls with the Denver Broncos, and has stressed keeping an identical routine to his less experienced teammates. "You don’t change anything," Pryce said. "You don’t want to be extra hyper or do anything different than what got you here. Because the stage is bigger, the tendency is to broaden yourself a little more. That’s the one thing I think you can’t do."
Lewis and kicker Matt Stover are the only remaining players on the roster from Super Bowl XXXV. "They’ve kind of been telling us what it’s like, and that there’s no other feeling like winning the Super Bowl," defensive tackle Haloti Ngata said. "Us younger guys that have never been there before, we’re just trying to look up to them and hope we can do it." … Wide receiver Demetrius Williams, who’s on injured reserve after undergoing surgery to repair his ankle and Achilles’ tendon, said he’s on schedule to return by spring minicamps. "I’m feeling fine, I’m back running now," he said. "I should be back by minicamp. I knocked it out early as far as having surgery. It definitely hurts not being out there with the guys, but I have a lot of confidence in them and I think they’ll do well." … Pryce continued to heap praise on undersized strong safety Jim Leonhard, who forced a fumble and recovered a fumble against the Titans. "You like players like that because they don’t get a lot of publicity, but those are always the best ones," Pryce said. "Jimmy is a damn good football player. People are just starting to notice now, but we knew that a long time ago. Jimmy is a man now. Smallest guy on the team, I think, but he is all heart and muscle. He’ll thump you."
Aaron Wilson covers the Baltimore Ravens for the Carroll County Times and the Annapolis Capital.