Ravens linebacker Jameel McClain said Wednesday he will appeal the $40,000 fine he received for hitting Pittsburgh Steelers tight end Heath Miller on Sunday.
"Rules are rules," McClain said. "We will appeal it and see where it goes from there, but that's basically where I stand with the situation."
The third-year veteran hit a falling Miller with his forearm, shoulder pads and possibly helmet at the end of a pass play in the third quarter. Miller suffered a concussion but walked off the field under his own power. By Monday afternoon, NFL spokesman Greg Aiello said on his Twitter account that McClain would be fined.
McClain was dropping into zone coverage on the play and said he tried to hit Miller between the shoulders and the knees, as required by NFL rules.
"You know, you never want any type of play like that to happen in football in general because those are horrible types of plays," McClain said. "Basically what it is, it's a man going to try to make a play. I was within the strike zone. I was going the way that I was taught to proceed in the game throughout my whole life. And if I let off on that play and he catches the ball and possibly streaks down the field for 50 yards, it's a different story we're talking about.
"I can't really say [I was] at the wrong place at the wrong time because if I wasn't there, something different probably would have happened. I just saw a man still moving … and he still had a way to get to the ball and I was just trying to get between him and the ball. And then basically, him falling down, it ended up the way it ended up."
The NFL has escalated its fine system this season for hits to the head. In a letter notifying McClain of the fine, it said he violated rule 12, section 2, article 8g, the rule on hitting a defenseless receiver.
Coach John Harbaugh has defended McClain, saying he did what the league requires, but that Miller's fall put the tight end's head in line with the charging McClain. The pass from Ben Roethlisberger was overthrown. On his weekly radio show Tuesday night, Harbaugh said the fine was excessive and that the league was asking McClain to "do something beyond the laws of physics" by avoiding Miller on the play.
According to an NFL source, the fine is roughly 15 percent of McClain's take-home pay for the season off a contract of $470,000. McClain essentially will play for free — after taxes — in the final four weeks of the season.
On Wednesday, McClain was still trying to get a grip on the implications.
"I don't know if it changes the way I play," he said. "You've got to play this game physical, you've got to play this game fast. I'm not out there trying to hurt nobody. I don't think nobody on this team or in this league is really out there trying to hurt anybody. But you still have to play this game and you still have to go about it in a way where you can try to make a play, and if you step off of that, you might as well cut yourself, or take yourself off the roster."
His appeal already has been registered, and McClain is expected to have a hearing with the NFL within 10 days.
Heap wants to play it smart
Todd Heap said he's day to day with a hamstring injury and it has improved every day. But the Ravens tight end isn't going to rush back after his experience in 2007. He played in two of the next five games after injuring his hamstring before sitting out the remainder of the season.
"I'm going to be smart," he said. "If anything, over the last 10 years, I've learned a few lessons. The last time I did hurt my hamstring, I came back too early and re-injured it, and that pretty much cost me the rest of the season. So there's a fine line you have to walk there, and I'm trying to be a little bit smart about how I go about it because of the situation we're in as well. Where we're at as a team – record-wise and being in the hunt – I want to make sure that I do what's right for me and the team."
Mason not backtracking
Wide receiver Derrick Mason vented his frustrations about the Ravens' underachieving offense after Sunday's loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers, saying they looked like "The Bad News Bears" at times.
Three days removed, Mason is sticking by his comments.
"I'm not going to backtrack on what I said. At times, we're not a good offense," he said Wednesday. "Everyone believes that. But we know we can correct that. We still have four games to get things right."
How were Mason's comments received in the locker room?
"Everybody agreed," Mason said. "How could you not agree with it? It's obvious. If you don't agree with it, you're lying to yourself or you're very sensitive to what someone says to you. You don't have thick skin. You're not trying to be held accountable for what you're doing out there."
L. McClain's frustrations
Ravens fullback Le'Ron McClain had a sinking feeling the Ravens weren't going to let him play on his injured ankle against the Steelers when the coaches hadn't incorporated him into the game plan by Friday.