RAVENS NOTEBOOK: Mason takes offense at remarks by ‘Chowder,’ Zbikowski ruled out

Street Talk RAVENS NOTEBOOK: Mason takes offense at remarks by ‘Chowder,’ Zbikowski ruled out

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OWINGS MILLS — One day after brash Miami Dolphins linebacker Channing Crowder referred to Derrick Mason as "the old guy," the Baltimore Ravens’ veteran wide receiver issued a strong rebuttal.

Mason, 36, is the oldest player on the Ravens’ roster.

“He’s what, 20-something?” Mason said of Crowder. “He was still peeing himself when I was playing football.”

Mason also referred to Crowder as “Chowder.”

Crowder referred to Mason as “the old guy,” during an interview with South Florida reporters while discussing the Ravens’ wide receivers.

"They have amazing receivers on the outside," Crowder said. "We know Boldin, Houshmandzadeh and old, what the hell’s the other guy’s name?"

A reporter mentioned Mason to jog Crowder’s memory.

"There you go, Mason, the old guy," Crowder said. "He’s still good as hell, though."

Regardless of Crowder’s lack of knowledge about him, Mason insisted that he’s still got plenty of football left in him.

“I’m not worried about Chowder,” Mason said. “What’s his name? Crowder? Excuse me. I’ve watched him on film, so I know his name. He’s either not watching film or not paying attention in meetings, but it is what it is.

“We don’t play through the newspapers, you play on the field. He’s a pretty good player. He’s just got to deal with the guys upfront and our fullback.”

A two-time Pro Bowl selection, Mason ranks second on the team with 26 receptions for 357 yards and one touchdown.

 “In the corporate world, I probably couldn’t even be someone’s CEO because I’m too young,” said Mason, who has at least 1,000 yards receiving in eight of the last nine years. “A lot of people, honestly, wish at 36, they could play at the level I’m playing at.

“There’s only one other guy that is playing at this level at 36, and that’s Terrell Owens. There’s a lot of other guys who wish they could play at this level, i.e. Crowder.”

INJURY UPDATES: The Ravens made it official, ruling out safety Tom Zbikowski.

Zbikowski has a bruised right heel and didn’t practice all week. He just got out of a walking boot this week and is limping around.

“It’s not looking good for Zibby,” Ravens coach John Harbaugh said prior to releasing his weekly injury report.

Rookie tight end Dennis Pitta was upgraded to probable after initially being listed as doubtful with a concussion. Pitta passed a baseline test after practice. He suffered the concussion Monday on a hit from linebacker Prescott Burgess.

Wide receiver Donte’ Stallworth, who broke the fifth metatarsal in his left foot during the preseason, is probable for Sunday’s game against the Miami Dolphins.

He said he still considers himself to be a game-time decision.

“If I’m out there and I can run around and be effective and am feeling pretty good and getting open, I guess that’s what matters the most,” Stallworth said. “No one is going to be 100 percent during any point of the season. I’m not really looking to be 100 percent. I’m just looking to make sure I can go out there and be effective and run some good routes and get open.”

Stallworth was suspended by the NFL for all of last season and has missed the first seven games of this season. If Stallworth plays Sunday, this will mark his regular-season debut with the Ravens and his first game in two years when he was with the Cleveland Browns.

“It will be interesting to see how it goes,” he said. “I can’t really say how it will feel right now. I know it will be a good feeling.”

Meanwhile, Dolphins strong safety Yeremiah Bell (toe) is questionable. Running back Patrick Cobbs (hamstring) is questionable, too. Crowder (thumb) is probable.

WILDCAT VANISHING: The Wildcat offense has undergone a disappearing act this season.

The Dolphins have only run the unorthodox formation 20 times this season.  During the past two seasons, the Dolphins ran it over 170 times.

“The Wildcat hasn’t had much success,” Harbaugh said. “I haven’t seen people do it with too much success this year, so it’s like anything else in this league.

“It kind of revolves around back and forth. We could see it on Sunday. If we see it, we’re going to have to defend it.”

When the Dolphins first started using the Wildcat years ago, it was extremely difficult to stop as running back Ronnie Brown ran and threw out of the shotgun formation after taking direct snaps.

Now, the Dolphins are running a more conventional offense with Brown and running back Ricky Williams and wide receiver Brandon Marshall catching passes from quarterback Chad Henne.

"I think two seasons ago when we started this thing, it was largely due to the fact that we needed to get our playmakers on the field at the same time," Dolphins coach Tony Sparano said. “That was Ricky and Ronnie and trying to get them involved together. Right now we feel like there’s other people that can make plays on this team rather than having to go to that package.

"We use it more right now as something that if we’ve seen it on film and it’s really clear to us we’ll do it. If not, there’s really no need."

Things have definitely changed for the Dolphins in terms of strategy.

Now, the Wildcat is a change of pace, not a staple.

"It’s just another one of those formations that is an opportunity for our football team, and we’re able to jump into it like jumping into a no-huddle situation," Brown said. "Unfortunately we haven’t used it a lot, but at that same time we still have it there every week."

The Ravens are still preparing for the Wildcat just in case they decide to roll it out again. Practice squad running back Curtis Steele runs the Wildcat offense for the Ravens’ scout team offense.

"You definitely do, because Ronnie Brown is dangerous with it, and when you’ve got Ronnie Brown and Ricky Williams running it, it’s pretty crazy," outside  linebacker Terrell Suggs said. "It’s intense, and Ronnie, he can throw the ball, so you definitely have to prepare for it.

"They’re still very effective at it, if you ask me. As long as you’ve got those two in the game, it can pop at any minute, and we just don’t want to be the team that it pops on."

All-Pro middle linebacker Ray Lewis said he’ll remain wary of the Wildcat and expects the Dolphins to utilize the offense against Baltimore.

“They started it, so why wouldn’t you see it?” Lewis said. “I think you’ve seen it in every game that they’ve played in," he said. "You just have to stay in your gaps. Just play disciplined. Nobody try to do something that they shouldn’t be doing because if you do, you never know if a pass is going to come out of it or if Ronnie Brown is throwing the ball out of it and things like that.

“So, you have to be conscious of what’s going on. Just hit your gaps and keep the ball funneled inside, and that’s pretty much one way to kind of slow it down."

LAWRENCE TO PRACTICE MONDAY: Ravens running back Matt Lawrence remains on the physically unable to perform list and hasn’t practiced since tearing his anterior cruciate ligament a year ago. The Ravens are going to have Lawrence start practicing next week to evaluate whether he should join the active roster.

"He’ll be up Monday, start practicing with us on Monday, and then we’ll just have to see how it goes," Harbaugh said.

Once Lawrence begins practicing, he has a three-week window to be activated from the PUP list.

If he’s not able to play by that time, Lawrence would be placed on injured reserve.

Lawrence said he’s remaining patient.

"Really, it’s different for a guy like me," Lawrence said earlier this week. "I’m not a get-frustrated type of guy. I’ve got a lot of strong faith. So, I just put my prayers with the Lord and let the chips fall where they may. I feel like I’ve been rehabbing and doing what I need to do.

“I’ve been training in the weight room. They’re working me real good. I’m not worried about that timelines and all that stuff, rules. It’s not a frustrating thing. The clock is for my time to shine."

NOT STARTING: Replaced in the starting lineup by Brandon McKinney, veteran defensive end Cory Redding said he doesn’t concern himself with whether he’s on the first-team defense.

“It’s not about who’s going to start and who’s not going to start, man,” Redding said. “It’s about winning, bro. At this point in my game it’s all about what the coaches feel is best for us to win whoever’s in the lineup. We don’t sweat about who don’t start. We all line up and play. We’re all about winning.”

Signed to a two-year, $6 million contract this offseason, Redding has recorded 10 tackles and one sack.

McKinney has six tackles in four starts.

Redding started three games before suffering a concussion and being deactivated against the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Now that he’s healthy, McKinney continues to start.

Redding insisted that doesn’t bother him.

“My snaps will be whatever my coaches determine it’s going to be,” he said. “I don’t care, I don’t care. I’m about winning. The guys have to understand, it’s about winning. It shouldn’t be about you.

“I don’t want the light on me. The light should be on my team. Regardless of who’s out there, we’re playing for one thing and that’s winning.”

QUICK HITS: Harbaugh said the team needs to tackle well against the Dolphins to win this game. “That’s going to be a big challenge for us,” he said. “We’re going to have to be a great tackling defense if we want to achieve the things we want to achieve on defense. Our guys understand that, and we’re going to have to do that on Sunday to have a chance to win.” … Ravens inside linebacker Tavares Gooden is no longer on the injury report after dislocating his left shoulder against the Cincinnati Bengals in the second game of the season. He’s expected to be active Sunday.  “He loves to play the game,” defensive coordinator Greg Mattison said. “He’s had problems with nagging injuries throughout his career so far, but, he came out here an you could sense him being there right away. And I was happy to see that. It looked like he was moving around really well. We didn’t do a lot of hitting, but he looked like he wasn’t timid at all. So, we’re excited about him.”
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Aaron Wilson

About Aaron Wilson

Aaron Wilson covers the NFL for National Football Post as well as the Baltimore Ravens for The Carroll County Times and Ravens24x7.com. He has previously covered the Jacksonville Jaguars and Tennessee Titans and has covered the NFL since 1997.  He has won several regional writing awards, including, most recently, Best Sports News Story for the state of Maryland in voting conducted by the Associated Press managing editors. 

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