Ravens new long snapper Houser comes with baggage

December 29, 2010|By Jamison Hensley, The Baltimore Sun

The Ravens' new long snapper comes with controversy.

Kevin Houser, who was signed by the Ravens on Wednesday to replace the injured Morgan Cox, has been accused by former New Orleans Saints teammates and coaches that he led them to buy a combined $1.9 million in Louisiana state income-tax credits they never got in late 2008 and early 2009.

Saints coach Sean Payton and his wife along with two players filed a civil lawsuit in March 2010 against Houser, citing unfair trade practices and unjust enrichment, among other claims.

A trial date is set for November 2011.

New Orleans tight end Jeremy Shockey was so upset that he vented on his Twitter account in July 2009: "thx chad [sp] houser our long snapper for losing my coaches, teamates, and me around 2mill$..what a dumb [guy]."

Houser made a brief appearance in the Ravens locker room Wednesday and answered a couple of questions before leaving.

"It's an honor and a privilege to be able to represent the team," Houser said. "The team has put itself in great position. I'm hoping to do whatever I can to help them reach the ultimate goal."

The Ravens held tryouts Tuesday and selected Houser over Bryan Pittman, who failed his physical Wednesday.

Houser, 33, played for the Saints from 2000 to 2008. He was with the Seattle Seahawks last season before going on injured reserve in December.

"We really wanted a veteran," coach John Harbaugh said. "Those guys understand the schemes and have done the techniques and he should be ready to plug right in."

Cox, who tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee in Sunday's win at Cleveland, will have surgery once the swelling goes down.

Harbaugh said doctors haven't given any indication that the injury will affect Cox's status for next season.

"It looks like it's something that he should be back for training camp and should be full-go then," Harbaugh said.

Heap has full practice

Tight end Todd Heap had his first full practice Wednesday since pulling his hamstring on the first play against Pittsburgh on Dec. 5.

Four Ravens didn't practice: center Matt Birk (knee), safety Tom Zbikowski (back), linebackers Tavares Gooden (shoulder) and Prescott Burgess (illness).

Kickoff returner-wide receiver David Reed (wrist and head injuries) practiced for the first time since he was knocked out of the Dec. 19 game against New Orleans with a concussion. He was limited Wednesday.

"I feel a lot better," Reed said. "I'm ready to go."

Suggs votes for Brady

Terrell Suggs said the Ravens linebackers did give their Pro Bowl vote to New England quarterback Tom Brady, even though Suggs had indicated last week that he didn't.

Suggs and Brady have been in a verbal feud since they played each other on Oct. 17.

"Let's go ahead and let the cat out of the bag: We did vote for him," Suggs said Wednesday. "We've got quarrels and our beefs but you got to respect play. It was kind of decided as a unit who we vote for. We did vote for him."

Noting that the Pro Bowl will be played in Hawaii one week before the Super Bowl, Suggs did get in a parting dig at Brady.

"One of us is not going to get to play in the game," Suggs said. "I hope he has a good time in the Pro Bowl, and hopefully everything goes according to plan, I'll be watching him from Dallas."

Scoreboard watching fine

In order for the Ravens to win the AFC North, they need to beat the Cincinnati Bengals and the Pittsburgh Steelers to lose at Cleveland.

Both games are being played at the same time, which could lead to some scoreboard watching.

"When the score comes up, I'm sure all of us are going to take a look," Harbaugh said. "We're going to know by the crowd's reaction. I don't have a problem with that. We're going to play the game. We'll have all focus on Cincinnati. It'll be interesting to see how that game plays out. The fact that we have a chance to accomplish something as far as playoff seedings, that's pretty important."

E. Reed player of week

Free safety Ed Reed won the AFC Defensive Player of the Week after he helped the Ravens clinch a playoff berth with two interceptions in a 20-10 win at Cleveland.

It's the third straight week that the Ravens have won an award. Rookie returner David Reed received the special teams player of the week two weeks ago, and running back Ray Rice was the offensive player of the week last week.

This marks the fifth time in Reed's nine-year career that he's won the award. He most recently won the award in 2008 (Week 14).

Snaps for Bulger?

Sunday's game against the Cincinnati Bengals represents the last chance for the Ravens to get backup quarterback Marc Bulger in a regular-season game.

Bulger is the only Ravens player who's been on the roster the entire season and has failed to get on the field for a snap. Ravens coach Harbaugh said he would like to give Bulger some playing time in the unfortunate event that something happens to starting quarterback Joe Flacco.

"I've kind of wanted to do that all year," Harbaugh said. "We've just never been in a situation where we've been able to do that. But if we get in that situation, that's something we would always like to do."

End zone

The Bengals have returned about 400 tickets to the Ravens for Sunday's 1 p.m. game at M&T Bank Stadium. Tickets can be purchased through Ticketmaster by calling 410-547-SEAT. … The Ravens have won eight of their last 10 regular-season finales, including the past four. … Ravens kicker Billy Cundiff needs three touchbacks to break the NFL season record ( Mitch Berger's 40 in 1994). … Since their 2000 Super Bowl season, the Ravens hold the NFL's third-best home record (64-23). … The Ravens have lost two of their past three games against Cincinnati at M&T Bank Stadium.

jamison.hensley@baltsun.com

twitter.com/jamisonhensley

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