The Ravens are plenty familiar with Steelers quarterback Michael Vick — quarterbacks coach Marty Mornhinweg coached him with the New York Jets and Philadelphia Eagles — but coach John Harbaugh said the bigger concern is how he fits into an overall Steelers offense, not just his individual skills.
"We have a lot of respect for him—a fine quarterback. He brings unique talents to the table, and those are things we've got to prepare for, but really the preparation is for the Pittsburgh Steelers. Their team is intact—all the things that they do, all the players that they have, that's what they revolve around, is who they are a football team. And now he becomes a piece of that team that we have to be aware of."
Harbaugh was especially complimentary of Steelers wide receiver Antonio Brown and running back Le'Veon Bell, whom he called "their two premiere guys." But there was also praise for wide receivers Markus Wheaton and Darrius Heyward-Bey (Maryland), plus running back DeAngelo Williams, who ran for 203 yards and three touchdowns during Bell's two-game suspension to start the season.
Tight end Heath Miller was also singled out as someone who has "just been a great player for so many years." But the lynchpin to that prolific offense now will be Vick, who signed in late August after backup quarterback Bruce Gradkowski went on injured reserve with a season-ending hand injury. Starting quarterback Ben Roethlisberger is out at least a month with a sprained MCL and bone bruise, according to reports.
Vick played 10 games, and started three for the Jets last year, where Mornhinweg was the offensive coordinator. He completed 64 of 21 passes for 604 yards, three touchdowns, and two interceptions. He also started for parts of three seasons under Mornhinweg for the Philadelphia Eagles, a stretch when Vick found success after several years out of the NFL after his career was interrupted by dogfighting charges.
At age 35, Vick may have lost a step from when he took the NFL by storm as a dual-threat passer with the Atlanta Falcons in the early 2000s. In two games as a substitute this year, he's 5-for-6 with 38 yards passing, though he's been sacked twice and fumbled once.
Even moments after their loss Sunday, the Ravens recognized that the challenge would be stopping Vick within the Steelers' dynamic system.
"Mike Vick is nice," cornerback Lardarius Webb said. "He's nice. But we're just going to be prepared for the Pittsburgh Steelers. Whatever quarterback they have, we'll be prepared to play him."
On a conference call with the Pittsburgh media Monday, wide receiver Steve Smith Sr. likened the feel of a Ravens-Steelers game to an "SEC college football game," he said. "The atmosphere is unbelievable." … Harbaugh said outside linebacker Jason Babin will be active when he is "ready, and when he's going to give us the best opportunity to win, and … the numbers work out." … Joe Flacco said he'd "love to have Ben [Roethlisberger] playing in this game and going up against him," but "it'll be just as fun" without him.