Players take high road on Burfict
Bengals OLB is known for rough hits, including on Ravens TE Williams
There’s not much fondness between the Ravens and the Cincinnati Bengals, but the Ravens are doing what they can to stifle any talk of a grudge stemming from an incident involving Cincinnati outside linebacker Vontaze Burfict.
In last year’s regular-season finale, Burfict leveled Maxx Williams with a helmet-tohelmet hit that knocked the then-rookie tight end off his feet. What angered the Ravens was that Williams was not in the play, and guard John Urschel tweeted video of the play after Burfict blew up Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Antonio Brown in a playoff game Pittsburgh won. The NFL fined Burfict $50,000 for the hit on Williams and suspended him three games for the one on Brown.
Several players took the high road when asked about Burfict’s penchant for questionable tackles, which arose again Oct. 16, when he went low on tight end Martellus Bennett in a 35-17 Bengals loss to the New England Patriots.
“I just want to go out there and play the game,” Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco said. “I think, for the most part, he does that, but obviously he has had his incidents.”
Urschel downplayed the notion of revenge. “No, we’re not talking about it,” he said. “We’re talking about him just like any other player.”
Tight end Dennis Pitta said he won’t be anxious about catching a pass over the middle with Burfict nearby.
“I know he’s got a reputation for some things, but I’ve never experienced it,” said Pitta, who leads the team in catches (49) and ranks third in receiving yards (405). “I think he’s a good football player. We expect a physical game, and it’s not a matter of being worried about one player or whatever. We’re worried about playing our best football, and as long as it’s physical and in between the whistles, we’re fine with it.”
After leading Cincinnati in 2013 in total penalties (12) and unnecessary-roughness calls (six), Burfict — who opened the season by serving his three-game suspension — has been flagged just once in seven games this season, for defensive holding. Burfict ranks second on the defense in tackles (63) and has two sacks.
His coach, former Ravens defensive coordinator Marvin Lewis, seemed weary of questions about Burfict during his conference call with Baltimore-area reporters.
“Enough has been written about Vontaze Bengals outside linebacker Vontaze Burfict, with Bills quarterback Tyrod Taylor last Sunday, was fined $50,000 for a hit on Ravens tight end Maxx Williams in last year’s regular-season finale. and his adjustment of howto play football the way he’s coached to play it,” Lewis said. “That’s all we continue to do, is have him play the way we coach him to play.” Flacco moving on: Flacco insisted he wasn’t offended by former Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis saying last week that the quarterback lacked passion, and he was certainly not sitting around and waiting for an apology from his ex-teammate.
Lewis did apologize Monday via a video on his Twitter account. Flacco said he didn’t watch the video and he hadn’t heard directly from Lewis, but he was aware that Lewis had walked back his previous comments.
Flacco emphasized that he has noproblem with Lewis and doesn’t expect things to be awkward when the two see each other again.
“I was never really that worried about it,” Flacco said. “I got over it. Listen, Ray is going to be around here. We’re going to have a relationship. We’re both going to be in Baltimore for a long time. I didn’t want to get offended by it. I think, initially, I could have been a little bit, but at the end of the day, I didn’t really worry too much about it.” Smith fires back: After Sunday’s 27-17 loss to the Cowboys, Dallas rookie cornerback Anthony Brown said he had lost any respect for wide receiver Steve Smith Sr. because the 16-year veteran wouldn’t stop jawing.
In a conference call Wednesday with reporters who cover the Bengals, Smith, 37, said he didn’t care about Brown’s thoughts, saying, “I can really give a flying F.”
Brown joins the Jacksonville Jaguars’ Jalen Ramsey as first-year cornerbacks who tangled with Smith physically and verbally this season. Smith — who caught eight passes, including the 1,000th of his career, for 99 yards and one touchdown — said the rookies are out of touch about playing in the NFL.
“I’ve had two rookies that unfortunately, they have lost all respect for me, so it’s been really keeping me up at night,” he said sarcastically. “It’s tragic. I’ve been losing sleep. With all the lack of sleep, I know we lost, but I was almost unable to send my cleats and gloves all the way to Canton because of the lack of the sleep thing.” Boyle apologizes: Second-year tight end Nick Boyle, who participated in his first practice Wednesday since serving a 10-game suspension for violating the league’s policy on performance-enhancing drugs, understands he might be down to his last chance.
A third violation of the policy would result in at least a two-season suspension.
“I’m not going to mess up again,” Boyle said after practice. “I’ll put that out there, fair and clear. It was a hard thing. I thank them for letting me come back here and allowing me to have a chance to maybe play here.” End zone: Harbaugh said he hopes cornerback Jimmy Smith, who did not practice Wednesday, will “be out there tomorrow.” A back injury prevented Smith from playing
Today’s staff picks
Sunday. Harbaugh also said left guard Marshal Yanda (left shoulder) and nose tackle Brandon Williams (back, hand) were given the day off. Rookie left guard Alex Lewis (high right ankle sprain) and running back Lorenzo Taliaferro (hamstring) did not practice. … Tight end Crockett Gillmore returned to practice for the first time since pulling his hamstring during the team’s bye in Week 8. Gillmore, who has missed the past three games, participated on a limited basis, as did defensive tackle Timmy Jernigan (right shoulder). … Outside linebacker Elvis Dumervil (foot) practiced fully. Rookie outside linebacker Kamalei Correa (thigh), inside linebacker C.J. Mosley (hamstring) and cornerback Shareece Wright (pulled hamstring) are no longer on the team’s injury report. … Cincinnati practiced without five starters: wide receivers A.J. Green (strained right hamstring) and Brandon LaFell (knee), cornerback Dre Kirkpatrick (knee), left tackle Andrew Whitworth (non-injury reason) and strong safety Shawn Williams (hamstring). Two more starters — left guard Clint Boling (shoulder) and quarterback Andy Dalton (right shoulder) — were limited. … The Ravens added outside linebacker James Burgess to the practice squad. Burgess, an undrafted rookie in the spring who spent time in training camp with the Miami Dolphins, fills the spot vacated when the Chicago Bears signed quarterback David Fales from the practice squad Tuesday.