The Carolina Panthers may have to turn to another rookie in Tony Pike, the team's third-string quarterback, after rookie Jimmy Clausen suffered a concussion in the team's 31-16 loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers this past Sunday.
Clausen, a second-round pick, replaced Matt Moore, who suffered a season-ending right shoulder injury before the game against the Buccaneers. Clausen's availability could determine whether Pike, a sixth-round choice, will start against the Ravens this Sunday.
Ravens coach John Harbaugh said Monday that the team is planning for both Clausen and Pike.
"It's going to be interesting to see what happens," Harbaugh said. "We're going to have to prepare for Tony along with Clausen. Obviously, they've got two very good, young quarterbacks there. You don't always know what you're going to get with a rookie quarterback. It could be really good or it might not be so good."
Whether it's Clausen or Pike, the quarterback should expect a healthy dose of blitzing from the Ravens.
"We're going to test them – either one of them – to find out really what they're made of," Harbaugh vowed. "I think that's what you have to do with a rookie quarterback, and whichever one it is, we'll find out how ready they are. That's our job."
The Panthers could add a wrinkle by lining up rookie Armanti Edwards under center. The third-round pick played quarterback at Appalachian State, but has moved to wide receiver on the NFL level.
Mason likely to play
Barring a setback, wide receiver Derrick Mason is likely to play this Sunday.
Mason aggravated the broken pinky on his right hand when he caught a 6-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Joe Flacco in the fourth quarter of the team's 26-21 loss to the Atlanta Falcons Thursday night.
It's the same finger that Mason had surgically repaired during the Ravens bye week two weeks ago. But Harbaugh said Mason practiced Monday despite the broken finger.
"He's got it wrapped up, got it in a splint of some kind, and it looks like it's swollen a little bit," Harbaugh said. "He had some kind of procedure done on it, I don't know exactly what. But he should be fine for Sunday. As he says, it goes with the territory."
Ravens seek explanation
Harbaugh said the organization is waiting for the league to elaborate on Falcons wide receiver Roddy White's collision with cornerback Josh Wilson just before White's game-winning 33-yard touchdown catch with 20 seconds left Thursday night.
Wilson pleaded with field officials to no avail to flag White for offensive pass interference after White bumped into Wilson, who fell down and left White wide open.
"We talked on Friday with [NFL Vice President of Officiating] Carl [Johnson]," Harbaugh said. "I'm not allowed to say what the conversation was — we haven't got the final report back yet — or I will be fined. So that's how it works."
Pass defense slips
Ed Reed has three interceptions in three games since being activated off the team's physically-unable-to-perform list, but the Ravens pass defense has slipped from third in the NFL to 14th over that same span.
A sports talk radio host pointed out this trend to Harbaugh, who denied that there was a connection between the unit's struggles and the six-time Pro Bowl free safety.
"I don't think there's any play you can point to and say, 'Well, Ed's not playing well,'" Harbaugh said. "He's playing well, he's had three interceptions, he's factor pretty much on every play. So if there's anything specific in the passing game that we haven't done a good job with, it doesn't really relate to Ed."