All week, the Ravens have been peppered with questions about the Denver Broncos' top-rated passing attack and quarterback Kyle Orton's league lead in passing yards.
But that doesn't mean that the defense is going to ignore the running game — an apsect that defensive coordinator Greg Mattison addressed Thursday.
"Yeah, don't believe that," Mattison said when asked if Denver was strictly an aerial team. "… [Broncos coach Josh McDaniels is] not going to go out there and throw it every time. I think a lot of that came from the injury to their running back. They had some line problems. We fully expect — like every game – we've got to stop the run first, and we've got to do a great job."
Denver's rush offense ranks last in the NFL in average yards per game (55.0) and average yards per carry (2.2). Those numbers could suffer even more after the team announced that featured tailback Knowshon Moreno will sit out his third consecutive game because of a hamstring injury.
Laurence Maroney could make his third straight start at running back, and Correll Buckhalter might also take some reps. But that duo combined for just 8 yards on 17 carries in the Broncos' 26-20 victory over the Tennessee Titans last Sunday.
Still, Ravens outside linebacker Terrell Suggs said the defense can't afford to enter this Sunday's contest concentrating on solely limiting Denver's options in the passing game.
"They know that we're professionals and they know that we saw them throw the ball 50 times," Suggs said of Orton's 50 attempts against the Titans. "I think they might try to switch it up and run the ball. But like I said, game plans tend to change by teams. We're a totally different team than Tennessee is, so they might want to approach us a little differently."
Zbikowski's status up in the air
Tom Zbikowski was added to the Ravens injury report as the free safety was limited Friday by a thigh injury. Zbikowski, who was not in the team's locker room after practice, is questionable for Sunday, and if he is unavailable, Haruki Nakamura could make his first career start alongside strong safety Dawan Landry. Chris Carr would likely return punts.
Outside linebacker Edgar Jones (bruised thigh) was limited for the third consecutive day, and he is listed as questionable. Inside linebacker Jason Phillips did not practice due to an illness, and he is also questionable.
After sitting out Thursday's practice due to an illness, cornerback Fabian Washington fully participated Friday and is probable for Sunday. Coach John Harbaugh indicated afterward that the ailment was not serious.
"He's OK," Harbaugh said. "He just had a little tweak."
Running back Ray Rice (bruised right knee), fullback Le'Ron McClain (right shoulder) and tight end Todd Heap (shoulder) fully participated for the third straight day. All three players are probable for Sunday.
Decision on Gaither still pending
The team is still waiting to hear from Dr. Robert Watkins, the back specialist in California who evaluated offensive tackle Jared Gaither's thoracic disk injury for a second time earlier in the week.
Gaither had said Wednesday that he wasn't sure what needed to happen for him to return to the field. On Friday, Harbaugh sounded similarly mystified.
"It's tough because it's just frustrating for everybody," he said. "Frustrating for us, frustrating for Jared, frustrating for [trainer] Bill [Tessendorf] and the guys who are trying to do the training because they've been pushing this thing hard ased on the protocol since the first time that they had an issue, and nothing is making it better in Jared's mind as far as how it feels, which is tough. There's something going on there. We haven't heard yet from Dr. Watkins here going onto the practice field. So I don't really know. So to comment on it wouldn't be right. So hopefully, there's some good news in terms of knowing what we can do to make it better. Maybe we've got it now, but as of before practice, he hadn't contacted Bill T. or our doctors yet."
Explanation for absence of pink
Last Sunday, several Pittsburgh Steelers players wore pink cleats and gloves as part of the NFL's participation in National Breast Cancer Awareness Month this October. Curiously, the Ravens did not.
On Friday, Harbaugh explained why the players weren't wearing pink.
"In the past, shoe companies kind of pick and choose who they give the shoes to, and what ends up happening is, you've got some guys get to wear the shoes and some guys don't," he said. "We talked to our team about it during training camp. 'Is that an issue? Is that a problem? How would you rather do it?' And [we] came up with an option or two obviously, and we had an idea. The idea was basically, why don't we just take the shoes and make sure everybody wears them, and you can do that for one game. So we'll make a strong statement in one game — as a team, everybody together — for the cause, which is a very worthy cause and which we believe in. And we'll all be doing it. That will be our statement rather than piecemealing it one week to the next with just a few guys that our selected."
All the players will wear pink cleats, and some will wear pink chin straps and pink towels.
The team also announced a partnership with The American Cancer Society as part of the NFL's "A Crucial Catch: Annual Screening Saves Lives" campaign, which reminds women 40 and older about the importance of getting a mammogram and clinical breast exam every year to find breast cancer in its earliest, most treatable stage.
As part of the campaign, this Sunday, the Ravens will host an on-field survivor tribute prior to kickoff with local cancer survivors taking part in the ceremony. As part of the game day activities, 20,000 pink ribbons will be distributed to fans as they enter the stadium.
Suggs' mind on Clady
Since the Broncos selected him with the 12th overall pick of the 2008 draft, 6-foot-6, 325-pound Ryan Clady has started all 36 contests at left offensive tackle.
Clady, a Pro Bowler in 2009 who began his career by registering his first 20 starts without surrendering a full sack, has earned the admiration of Ravens outside linebacker Terrell Suggs.
"I think he's a better left tackle than what people give him credit for," said Suggs, who did not collect a sack against Denver in a meeting last season. "I went against him last year, and he's very strong at the point with very strong hands. So I think he's a solid left tackle. I think he's started since he's been there. He hasn't missed a game, so he's very durable, solid, dependable. We definitely have our hands full up front."
Cameron deflects attention
After Sunday's last-minute 17-14 win against the Pittsburgh Steelers, Harbaugh handed the game ball to offensive coordinator Cam Cameron.
But Cameron said someone else deserved it more — the defense.
"If it weren't for our defense in that situation, we don't get that opportunity [to score]," he said Thursday. "It was nice. But to me, our offense did what they were supposed to do. But for the defense to do what they did and give us that much time left on the clock, that was the hard part. And I think the offense, we would all say, 'We just did our job.'"
In addition to Moreno, Denver ruled out running back Spencer Larsen (ankle). Cornerback Andre Goodman (quad) and linebacker Wesley Woodyard (hamstring) were limited for the third consecutive day, and both are listed as questionable. Nose tackle Jamal Williams, who missed Thursday's session due to non-injury related reasons, was removed from the injury report. … Per his wager with rookie tight end and Oregon product Ed Dickson, Harbaugh will wear Ducks gear after Stanford, which is coached by Harbaugh's brother Jim, lost, 52-31, to Oregon last Saturday. Dickson said he ordered a "I love my Ducks" shirt and a hat, and although the shipment could be delievered as early as Saturday, Dickson said he would not force Harbaugh to wear the gear that day. "We're going to get him next Wednesday when you guys are around," Dickson said. "Just make sure you have your cameras." That doesn't mean that Harbaugh won't get some grief on Saturday. That morning, he is scheduled to meet with Hall of Fame quarterback and CBS analyst Dan Fouts, who was inducted into Oregon's Hall of Fame in 1992. "Aw, it's going to be brutal," Harbaugh said when informed of Saturday's meeting. "It's going to be absolutely brutal with Dan Fouts in. … So I'm going to hear about it from Dan Fouts. That hurts." … The Ravens took the last step in severing their ties with defensive end Trevor Pryce when they gave his locker to newly signed offensive tackle Scott Kooistra. Pryce signed with the New York Jets last week after the Ravens cut him to make room for safety Ken Hamlin.
Baltimore Sun reporter Jamison Hensley contributed to this article.