RAVENS NOTEBOOK: Team votes unanimously to decertify union

Street Talk RAVENS NOTEBOOK: Team votes unanimously to decertify union

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OWINGS MILLS – The Baltimore Ravens voted unanimously in favor of authorizing the NFL Players Association to decertify the players’ union if NFL owners move toward a potential lockout next year.

The Ravens met Friday with NFLPA executive director DeMaurice Smith, regional director Tom Carter and other union officials, becoming the ninth team to approve the measure.

Following the meeting at the Ravens’ training complex, Smith declined an interview request

"Yes, it was unanimous," Ravens union representative Chris Carr said. "There was no dissent. Everybody was pretty much all together, solidarity. Mostly when we go to these meetings, there’s not too much disappointment in management.

Everybody’s together, everybody’s strong for the cause, and believes in everything we’re doing. It was an easy vote."

The union is maneuvering in terms of building a possible antitrust case against the owners in case a lockout commences.

"It’s going to be a long process," defensive end Trevor Pryce said. "I guess it’s like Microsoft and antitrust. You can sue the owners. Hopefully, that doesn’t happen. There’s a lot of money at play. I know what’s going on. It’s a black and white, in front of your face deal."

The union is planning ahead for potential decertification, which would allow them the power to sue the league.

"It’s an option on the table," Carr said. "It’s one of those things that you know the owners are going to be prepared and have been getting prepared for this. Nobody wants a lockout, so we’re going to do everything we can to prevent it. That could be one of those things that could."

Over half the team attended the meeting on late notice.

"Everybody always has a chance to voice their dissent or their opinion or approval," Carr said. "They don’t just come and talk to us and tell us what to do. It’s always open to us and our options. Ultimately, it’s us. We’re going to do what we want to do and what makes sense to us."

Meanwhile, Carr, wide receiver Derrick Mason and center Matt Birk were elected as player representative s for 2011.

Tight end Todd Heap, who’s one of the Ravens’ player representatives, said the players are planning ahead just in case the lockout happens.

"I think we want to have something to fall back on," Heap said. "Obviously, there’s nothing set in stone what’s going to happen. From our standpoint, we have to be ready and willing to take steps. I’m pretty sure everybody’s on the same page."

INJURY REPORT: The Ravens officially ruled out offensive tackle Jared Gaither (thoracic disc injury).

It’s the third game in a row he’s been sidelined.

The Ravens previously ruled out linebacker Tavares Gooden (dislocated left shoulder) and wide receiver Donte’ Stallworth (broken foot).

Meanwhile, linebacker Dannell Ellerbe (knee), Mason (knee) and fullback Le’Ron McClain (shoulder) were limited in practice. All are listed as probable, though.

Also listed as probable and fully participating Friday: Heap (shoulder), linebacker Jarret Johnson (back), linebacker Jameel McClain (knee), defensive tackle Haloti Ngata (back), running back Ray Rice (ankle) and linebacker Terrell Suggs (ankle).

The Browns ruled out offensive guard Shawn Lauvao (ankle).

Quarterback Jake Delhomme is expected to eventually join him due to a high ankle sprain, but he’s currently doubtful as well as linebacker D’Qwell Jackson (pectoral) and wide receiver Brian Robiskie (hamstring).

The following players are questionable and didn’t practice: linebacker Marcus Benard (ankle), running back Jerome Harrison (thigh), wide receiver Carlton Mitchell (head), defensive tackle Shaun Rogers (ankle, hip) and running back Lawrence Vickers (illness).

Wide receiver Joshua Cribbs (ankle) and tight end Evan Moore (head) are probable, but were limited Friday.

WEBB UPDATE: For cornerback Lardarius Webb, the Ravens’ road game against the Cincinnati Bengals was especially meaningful. It was his first game back since tearing his anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee last December against the Chicago Bears.

"It feels terrific," Webb said. "I’m just happy to be out there with the guys, running around. It just feels good to be out there, man."

Webb didn’t start, lining up in nickel packages.

He allowed one completion to Chad Ochocinco, but also drew an offensive pass interference penalty on the flamboyant wide receiver in the third quarter.

"I put a lot of work in to get back to the field, a lot of time, but it was well worth it," Webb said. "I put the work in to get something that I wanted, which was to get back to this field. I haven’t made my comeback all the way yet, but I’m working my way in it and it’s feeling good."

Webb acknowledged, though, that he’s uncertain if he’ll regain his old form.

"I’m still putting work in," he says. "I’ll probably never be back the same, but I’m always going to keep working to get back to where I thought I was."

BRACING FOR MR. ROGERS: Birk knows he’s wrestling with a super heavyweight Sunday.

Rogers is unique as a mobile 6-foot-4, 350-pound nose guard.

"Yeah, he’s a great player," Birk said. "Physically, obviously he’s got a great skill set and he’s smart. He’s not just big and strong. He’s quick, he’s explosive. You can’t just play the power because he’s got agility, too.

"He’s one of those rare guys that just physically he’s got it all. He can hurt you in a lot of different ways, and he’s a very smart guy, too. It’s a big challenge. I’ve played against him a lot of times. It’s never an easy assignment."

Birk will receive some double-team assistance from guards Chris Chester and Ben Grubbs.

"The more the merrier when it comes to blocking him," Chester said. "He’s a big, strong guy. For as big as he is, he’s very mobile. He has a great burst, gets off the ball very well.

"You’re going to have to be very sound in what you do against him. You have to keep your pads low and be good with your hands and your feet to get him blocked."

QUICK HITS: It remains unclear whether Gooden will need to have surgery to repair his shoulder. Gooden is awaiting a second opinion from Dr. John Uribe. Gooden was told he’ll be out roughly four to six weeks. "I haven’t heard anything negative," Harbaugh said. "It’s a dislocated shoulder. There’s always a little bit of damage that goes along with that. From what we understand now, I think he’s going to be OK. It’s a process to see how it heals and how it comes along. Hopefully, it’s two weeks, four weeks at the most. If it’s more than that, you’ll know, because we’ll have to make a move. Right now, we don’t anticipate that." Harbaugh didn’t predict surgery at this point. "I think you see how it comes along," he said. "If it doesn’t respond at all, then they have to go in and fix it. It’s something they think will heal. I think we’ll know in a couple weeks." … The Ravens plan to plug in linebacker Dannell Ellerbe on third downs for nickel duty, replacing Gooden. "Dannell is good on third down, and he should be a part of that," Harbaugh said. "He’s always done a good job of that." … Harbaugh commented for the first time on cutting veteran safety Ken Hamlin earlier this week when Cary Williams was activated after a two-game suspension. "We kind of just got jammed up numbers-wise more than anything," he said. "We didn’t want to make any move, but we had to for the time being. Hopefully, we can kind of recoup that here in the near future. Ken’s a guy that has been really important to us in the first two games. It’s going to be a little bit tight without him in the back end, but we feel like we can manage it with our personnel." Williams is expected to play on special teams, but could also line up at safety and cornerback if he’s active. "He’s played special teams really well in the past," Harbaugh said. "I’m sure he can pick up where he left off. He’s coming on as a corner, too, so he provides depth at corner." … Since the Ravens traded for former University of Maryland cornerback Josh Wilson from the Seattle Seahawks, he’s seen limited playing time. That’s expected to end Sunday now that he’s absorbed the defensive playbook. "I think he’s up to speed now," Harbaugh said. "I’d anticipate he would play more and more this week and then going forward. I would say he’s really shined in practice the last week or so. He’s a good football player." ..The Ravens practiced indoors due to the hot conditions. … A Harvard graduate with a degree in economics, Birk was selected to the Sporting News’ list of smartest athletes. Birk ranks sixth on the list…Browns wide receiver Mohamed Massaquoi is an imposing presence at 6-foot-2, 207 pounds. "He definitely has the speed and size," Carr said. "He’s really big."


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