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Rice's status a non-topic on Harbaugh's radio show

Perhaps the most curious development from The John Harbaugh Show Tuesday night was the lack of curiosity about running back Ray Rice's health.

In fact, during the hour-long broadcast, neither host Gerry Sandusky nor callers asked the Ravens coach about Rice's bruised right knee, an injury that could keep the versatile threat on the sideline for Sunday's showdown against the AFC North-leading Pittsburgh Steelers at Heinz Field.

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Rice expressed confidence via his Twitter account Tuesday morning that he would bounce back from his bruised knee "asap," and a source close to the Pro Bowler said the injury "is not that bad. He's walking around like his regular self. He should be good for this week. They [the Ravens] gave him a little crutch after the game, as a precaution, but he definitely could play this week – depending on how he feels and how the doctor and coaches feel."

Although Rice is dealing with what Harbaugh described Monday as a "significant" contusion, Harbaugh was peppered with questions about the rivalry with the Steelers, quarterback Joe Flacco's performance in the team's 24-17 win against the Cleveland Browns and the defense's ability to create turnovers.

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But there were no questions about Rice. Interpret that as you wish.

Other notes:

*The Ravens' run defense was perhaps the most popular topic among callers. Surrendering 144 yards on 22 carries and a touchdown to the Browns' Peyton Hillis doesn't bode well as the unit prepares for running back Rashard Mendenhall, the league's fourth-ranked rusher with 332 yards, and Pittsburgh's run offense, which ranks third with a 150.0-yard average. Harbaugh, however, remained defiant and said he hopes opponents take the Ravens' run defense lightly. "I would love for our opponents to think that we can't stop the run," Harbaugh said. "That's great. You opponents out there listening, the Ravens can't stop the run, OK? So just run it at us, and we'll see how that turns out."

*Harbaugh defended Derrick Mason after the wide receiver was whistled for delay of game when he heaved an incomplete pass into the air rather than giving it to an official in the third quarter. "Mason's a pro," Harbaugh said. "He's a consummate pro. He understands the ramifications. He's also probably the consummate competitor. He really competes. His emotion, his compassion is a big part of what makes him who he is as a player, his desire to win. He's a competitive guy. And he knows where the line's at, and I think he fights to make sure that he doesn't cross the line and give us a penalty. That's all I talk to him about." When Sandusky asked a follow-up question whether Harbaugh discusses those kinds of penalties with a player in private or the entire team, Harbaugh replied, "Well, we're real open about that stuff. You do both. You talk to guys one-on-one. I talk to Mase on the field when it happened, and he was fully composed. I was under control. It wasn't any kind of emotional thing. He knew. But we talk to the team about that stuff all the time. It's just part of developing ourselves as a football team."

*Quarterback Charlie Batch will make his second consecutive start for the Steelers. Batch threw three touchdowns in a 38-13 rout of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers this past Sunday, but he is just 1-3 in his career against the Ravens, registering two touchdowns and three interceptions and posting a 53.4 passer rating. Still, Harbaugh expressed his respect for Batch, comparing him to Byron Leftwich, another quarterback on the Pittsburgh roster. "Charlie can move, but he's more of a pocket guy – more like Leftwich," Harbaugh said. "But he's a guy who has played a bunch of games, started a bunch of games, had a lot of experience, had a lot of success, knows what he's looking at, and he played well against Tampa."

*Under Harbaugh, the Ravens are 1-4 against the Steelers. When a caller named "Mike" told Harbaugh that another Ravens loss would require him to wear a Hines Ward jersey, Harbaugh assured him, "You're good. You will not be wearing that jersey."

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