Play­ers take high road on Bur­fict

Ben­gals OLB is known for rough hits, in­clud­ing on Ravens TE Wil­liams

Baltimore Sun - - RAVENS & NFL - By Ed­ward Lee ed­ward.lee@balt­sun.com twit­ter.com/Ed­wardLeeSun Bal­ti­more Sun reporter Jeff Zre­biec con­trib­uted to this ar­ti­cle.

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.

FRANK VICTORES/AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

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