OWINGS MILLS – Baltimore Ravens coach John Harbaugh downplayed a sideline confrontation between quarterback Joe Flacco and wide receiver Derrick Mason during the second half of a win over the Carolina Panthers.
Mason was the aggressor in the exchange, according to players, complaining to Flacco about holding onto the ball too long and his timing on passes.
The players had to be separated by teammates and coaches after a loud shouting match ensued in the bench area.
Prone to emotional outbursts during games, Mason has a fiery reputation and is known for his temper. He has gotten into arguments with coaches, including Harbaugh, in the past.
"It’s been addressed," Harbaugh said. "You don’t turn a blind eye to anything as a coach in this league, or as a player in this league. I talked to Derrick about it after the game. It wasn’t anything serious that we had to work through.
"I talked to Joe during the game. I talked to him after the game. I talked to him [Monday] again about different things. That was just a small part of it. So, I’m not too concerned about it."
Word of the argument quickly spread like wildfire among Ravens’ fans, especially a large contingent seated behind the visitors’ sideline.
"There’s always a fine line between focusing your passion," Harbaugh said. "Derrick, over the years, if you want to talk about him, he does a good job of focusing his passion because it shows up in his play. He plays passionately and he plays very well.
"Joe’s got a very passionate personality, and you see it expressed in different ways. You never want to let your emotions get control of your performance, that’s the main thing. And you want to treat your teammates with respect. I don’t think that line has been crossed."
Unlike Mason, Flacco has a low-key personality. He’s known for his quiet, stoic nature.
"Get in a pickup basketball game with him sometime, cover him one time and you’ll see," Harbaugh said. "You’ll probably get an elbow in the chops. Joe is a very competitive guy. Joe Montana was a pretty calm guy. And who was a more fiery competitor?
"You can’t judge a book by its cover. Joe, he’s got a fire burning inside. I don’t mind seeing that fire. I don’t mind him showing that passion sometimes. I think it’s good for us and good for the team. You’ve got to let a guy be himself and let his own personality shine."
MEDICAL UPDATE: Offensive guard Chris Chester was hospitalized Thursday after a cut got infected and is suffering from a bout of cellulitis, a potentially serious ailment that involves high fevers, swelling and redness.
Harbaugh clarified the condition, which is expected to sideline Chester for a week or two, saying doctors asked him to describe it as an infection.
"Cellulitis is a part of it," Harbaugh said. "Infection covers all of it."
Chester was replaced in the starting lineup by Tony Moll.
"It’s just a matter of how fast that clears up," Harbaugh said. "It could be a week or two. He’s going to get back as soon as he can."
BLOCKED: Rookie nose guard Terrence "Mount" Cody got chop-blocked to the ground, opening a huge running lane for Mike Goodson to rumble through on a 45-yard cutback run.
With the 6-foot-4, 349-pounder out of the picture, Goodson took advantage of the big hole in the Ravens’ defensive line.
"You have to be able to play the chop block, you can’t get cut," Harbaugh said. "On defensive line, you can’t get chopped. You get knocked off the ball and you can’t run around behind blocks.
"Those three things just can’t happen. And he got chopped, and that created the hole defensively. They did a good job, scheme-wise, on that one. We corrected it after that and that issue never came up again. Sometimes, they catch you in the front and they run the perfect play, too."
Goodson wound up rushing for 120 yards on 22 carries.
One week after recording a career-high five tackles as the Ravens shut down Atlanta Falcons running back Michael Turner, Cody wasn’t credited with any tackles against Carolina.
"He played OK, he can play a lot better," Harbaugh said. "We expect him to keep playing better and better. We need him to be a force in there, in the middle. And I know he wants to do that."
SCRATCHED: The Ravens deactivated reserve inside linebacker Dannell Ellerbe for the second time this year.
The roster decision followed his rough game against the Falcons where he was penalized a few times. It was particularly telling given that the Hamlet, N.C. native was deactivated in a game played in his home state.
He also didn’t appear to give maximum effort pursuing Falcons running back Jason Snelling on his touchdown reception out of the backfield.
The Ravens had Jason Phillips up instead of Ellerbe on Sunday.
"Taking Dannell’s case, you’ve got to be one of the 45 most valuable guys that week," Harbaugh said. "Sometimes, it’s how many guys you keep at a position. Other times, it’s how you play on special teams and what you bring to the table. I think when you’re a backup linebacker you need to be playing really well on special teams.
"So, now, there’s a competition for that role and basically he and Jason Phillips have been battling it out week in and week out to be the guy that’s been up. And Jason Phillips won last week. So, we’ll see who wins this week. Jason played really well on special teams and didn’t have any penalties. So, penalties are a big part of it. It’s not everything, but, yeah, they’re a big part of it."
SACK ATTACK: In his second NFL season , defensive end Paul Kruger finally picked up his first career sack.
He had a sack and a forced fumble earlier this season against the Pittsburgh Steelers, but it was nullified by a penalty.
"I congratulated him on his first sack and he pointed out that he had another sack against Pittsburgh, the sack-fumble that didn’t get counted because of the penalty," Harbaugh said. "We had to congratulate him on his first official sack. He wanted to make sure I was clear on that.
"He was excited about it. Yeah, he’s getting better. He brings a lot of energy. Technique-wise, there are a lot of things he can do better to be a better pass rusher. But he’s got the ability I think to be that kind of guy coming off the edge."
COMPLAINT BOX: The Ravens’ 37-13 win over the Panthers didn’t contain a lot of style points.
And it troubled fans who are concerned about not blowing out the Panthers earlier in the game.
"We care, they care," Harbaugh said. "We do the same thing. We nitpick ourselves. Players nitpick every little thing that they do well or don’t do well. We do the same thing as coaches. That’s fine.
"We’re OK with it. We get a chance to watch the tape and have a good understanding of what we’re trying to do. It’s tough to win. You do the best you can."
QUICK HITS: Harbaugh was encouraged by rookie kickoff returner David Reed after his 84-yard kickoff return and also Lardarius Webb’s steady showing on punt returns one week removed from losing a fumble against Atlanta. "Well, we wanted to score," Harbaugh said. "I’m disappointed the thing didn’t go all the way. But, no, it was good to see us get out. It was blocked really well. It was run really well. We need more than that. That makes such a difference. It looked like Lardarius was getting more comfortable as a punt returner. So, if we can get the return game going here down the stretch, that’s really going to be important." … Reserve cornerback Cary Williams is under consideration for increased playing time on defense. The Ravens could use someone to step forward at cornerback with Josh Wilson beaten for an 88-yard touchdown pass. Williams has good size and speed at 6-foot-1, 185 pounds. "Cary’s playing very well on special teams," Harbaugh said. "I don’t want to demean that by saying he’s strictly a ‘special teams guy,’ because I think that’s very important and that’s why he’s been active. He’s done a really good job, but Cary’s probably earning more playing time in the back end. He’s earning a look. He’s practiced really well, so there’s a possibility we could see him back there. But, if you look at the way the corners played, it’s easy to look at one play and say, ‘Well, it was a bad game.’ Look at all the other plays. How many times were they singled up on those really athletic receivers outside, including Steve Smith? And they had to make a one-on-one tackle and got them down every single time." … Harbaugh was noncommittal on whether the team will activate running back Matt Lawrence (knee) from the physically unable to perform list. It doesn’t sound like the Ravens are leaning toward placing him on the 53-man roster. If he’s not activated within the next week, Lawrence would be placed on injured reserve. "I think we’re still evaluating it right now," he said. "He looks good, but I think there’s some issues in there still. We’ll just have to see how it shakes out in the next week. I don’t really want to comment too much on it until we do something."