Mason: I'm playing; Harbaugh: maybe

The Baltimore Sun

A few minutes after Ravens coach John Harbaugh described Derrick Mason's status as a "game-time decision," the veteran wide receiver had a different take.

"I'm going to make the trip to New York, and I expect to be on the field," said Mason, who dislocated his left shoulder five days ago.

Mason didn't practice yesterday and is not expected to do so the entire week. But he said he has played in the past without practicing.

The last time he missed a game because of injury was Oct. 13, 2002.

"Some people are hurt; some people are injured," Mason said. "If you can go out there and run, you can help this team somehow. It does get to a point mentally when you have to will yourself to play, regardless of what injury you have."

Mason, the team leader in catches (46) and receiving yards (598), has really stepped up for rookie quarterback Joe Flacco on the road. In five games away from home, he has averaged 6.4 catches and 94.2 receiving yards.

Unlike Mason, the Ravens have been more guarded about his availability against the defending Super Bowl champions. If Mason can't play, Yamon Figurs would replace the 12-year veteran.

"He's going to be day-to-day," Harbaugh said of Mason. "It's going to be a game-time decision."

No comparison

Anytime the Ravens play the Giants, it sparks memories of the Ravens' Super Bowl victory in January 2001.

Like that championship season, the Ravens again have a strong defense, one that ranks in the top five in fewest total yards, rushing yards and points. But linebacker Ray Lewis, the centerpiece of both defenses, said there is no comparison between the two.

"We're no way close to that [2000 defense]," Lewis said. "Are we talented and good? Heck, yeah. But to be that, you have to cap it off with that bowl. That solidifies true, true greatness."

Familiar foe

The Ravens' secondary will see a familiar face in the Giants' Plaxico Burress, a longtime wide receiver for the Pittsburgh Steelers.

In 11 games against the Ravens, Burress has averaged about four catches for 69 yards. He has scored just one touchdown in the past five meetings.

"Eli [Manning] has got a lot of confidence in throwing it up there [to Burress]," Harbaugh said. "Sometimes when he's covered, he's not covered."

The Ravens are also familiar with Burress' ability to push off and get away with it. "Yeah, he does the Vlade Divac sometimes," cornerback Samari Rolle said, referring to the former NBA center.

End zone

Starting offensive tackle Willie Anderson wore a protective boot for his injured left ankle and even carried a cane. But the 13-year veteran warned about jumping to conclusions. "I'm playing Sunday," Anderson said. He was among four Ravens who did not practice: Mason, safety Ed Reed (hamstring) and reserve wide receiver Terrance Copper (shoulder). Rolle (neck) and tight end Daniel Wilcox (thigh) were limited in practice. ...

The reason the Ravens placed safety Dawan Landry on injured reserve Tuesday was he had "more of a bruise than originally thought" on his neck. "Once they found that, then he wasn't going to be able to go again this year," said Harbaugh, who expects Landry to be ready for offseason camps in 2009. ... Harbaugh confirmed cornerback Chris McAlister, who was put on injured reserve Tuesday, had knee surgery. ... Flacco, who grew up near Camden, N.J., doesn't expect an increase in ticket requests for the Giants game. "Everybody in my town is an Eagles fan," he said.

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