Three defensive linemen could see playing time vs. Steelers

September 27, 2010|By Edward Lee, The Baltimore Sun

The concussion that knocked defensive end Cory Redding out of the Ravens' 24-17 victory over the Cleveland Browns in the third quarter could bring opportunity to a trio of players.

The door could open for defensive tackle Brandon McKinney, rookie nose tackle Terrence Cody and defensive end Paul Kruger as the Ravens prepare for a visit with the Pittsburgh Steelers on Sunday.

Redding's availability is unclear. He did not return to Sunday's win, and coach John Harbaugh did not provide an update.

"I haven't gotten a read on him yet, so I don't know yet," he said. "I don't think they've done the tests yet. We don't practice until Wednesday, so we'll probably give that a little time to clear up."

If Redding can't play, the team might turn to Cody, the team's second-round pick who has been deactivated through the first three games of the season after recovering from arthroscopic surgery to repair a torn meniscus in his left knee.

Harbaugh acknowledged that Cody could be available against the Steelers, saying, "Obviously, Terrence is getting healthier. He practiced well last week. We'll see how it goes. We want to get him up if we can."

Like Cody, Kruger has been inactive through the first three games. After injuring his left shoulder in the preseason finale, Kruger was removed from the team's injury report after the regular-season opener against the New York Jets.

"Paul's been in there practicing well and fighting like crazy, but you only get 45 [players on gameday] and you only get five or six D-linemen," Harbaugh said. "So you've got to put the guys up that you think give you the best chance against the team you're playing. I'm sure that when Paul gets activated, he's going to play really well. And when Terrence gets activated, I know that he'll play really well because you can see it in practice. You just have to see how the numbers shake out."

McKinney, the immediate beneficiary of Redding's absence, playing extensively in the second half and finished with two tackles against the Browns. His performance could complicate the coaches' decisions.

"That's part of it," Harbaugh conceded. "We've got some guys playing well. Brandon McKinney's played really well. We've got a group of defensive linemen that are playing really well. But then again, we might decide to put an extra D-lineman up, too. So we'll just see how it goes."

Steelers questions grate

Despite the Ravens' win Sunday, this is Steelers week, and Harbaugh was naturally peppered with questions about Sunday's opponent. His good nature, however, didn't last.

After answering questions about the sniping that has occurred between players on both sides in the past and playing in Pittsburgh before a towel-waving crowd, Harbaugh was asked whether the Ravens might be catching the 3-0 Steelers at a good time.

"We don't care," he said curtly. "It doesn't make any difference to us. OK, you asked me last summer what I thought about the Steelers without Ben Roethlisberger. Does anybody remember? None of you wrote it. What did I say? You don't even remember, do you? I said they're going to be a very good football team, no matter who is playing quarterback. And that's turned out to be true, right? So listen, this is a darned good football team. They have a great defense, they have a great running game, they have dangerous wide receivers, their special teams are much improved. So we're not surprised that they're 3-0, but we don't care. We're going to play the game."

Harbaugh not buying stats

Harbaugh said the run defense's unusually poor showing against the Browns' Peyton Hillis was due to a combination of factors, including Cleveland's offensive line's blocking, the defense's missed assignments and Hillis' abilities in the backfield.

But Harbaugh wasn't in the mood to discuss how the defense allowed 100-yard rushers in back-to-back games only twice since Ray Lewis manned the middle of that unit.

"We don't dwell on that stuff," he said. "Stats, I guess you can write an article about stats if you want. We're going to try and win the next game."

Deja vu for Ellerbe

As he did last season, inside linebacker Dannell Ellerbe has replaced the injured Tavares Gooden (dislocated left shoulder). But instead of starting alongside Ray Lewis, Ellerbe is playing primarily on obvious passing downs.

That distinction, however, doesn't bother Ellerbe, a second-year player who went undrafted last season.

"Whatever they ask me to do, I'm going to go out there and try to do it to the best of my ability," said Ellerbe, who finished in a tie for fifth with six tackles against Cleveland. "Whether that's going in for passing situations or going in with the regular defense, I did it all last year. So they should have confidence in me, and I believe that they do."

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