Three days after Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger conceded that he did his part to “sell” a roughing the passer penalty by falling to the turf in Monday night’s 30-27 win at the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Ravens defensive coordinator Don “Wink” Martindale said he hopes more quarterbacks don’t begin flopping to get favorable calls from officiating crews.
“Let’s not turn this into the NBA flop fest because now the quarterbacks are making a mockery of it to the officials in the league,” he said Thursday. “Now you’re insulting the officials and the league if you do that. Maybe they will, maybe they won’t. I don’t know.”
On Monday, Tampa Bay defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul was penalized for brushing Roethlisberger’s helmet with his right hand, a flag that might have been encouraged by the 6-foot-5, 240-pound Roethlisberger collapsing. Afterward, Roethlisberger told 93.7 The Fan in Pittsburgh that he “might’ve went to the ground a little bit to sell it, but it definitely got me. So I think that’s a good call.”
Asked during Wednesday’s conference call whether he would lobby officials for a call against Ravens outside linebacker Terrell Suggs, Roethlisberger quipped, “Absolutely. If he gets close to me, I’m asking for [a] flag.”
Ravens getting healthier
One day after practicing without eight players, including five starters, the Ravens are a much healthier bunch as they prepare for Sunday night’s game at the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Five players returned to Thursday’s session, and all five practiced fully. That group included four starters in wide receiver John Brown (not injury related), cornerback Brandon Carr (knee), left tackle Ronnie Stanley (left foot) and free safety Eric Weddle (not injury related), as well as rookie quarterback Lamar Jackson (illness).
Middle linebacker C.J. Mosley (bone bruise in left knee), nose tackle Michael Pierce (bruised foot) and defensive back Anthony Levine Sr. (hamstring) were upgraded from limited to full participation.
While leaving personnel updates to coach John Harbaugh, Martindale acknowledged the significance of a defense that included Mosley and Pierce — both of whom sat out Sunday’s 27-14 victory over the Denver Broncos.
“It’s the starting Mike linebacker [Mosley] and the starting nose and three-technique with him [Pierce] and Brandon [Williams] in there,” Martindale said. “Of course, it’s very valuable. It makes me sleep just a little bit better.”
Rookie tight end Hayden Hurst (stress fracture in foot) was limited for the second consecutive day.
Suggs (knee) was absent for the second straight day, and his availability against the Steelers is uncertain. If he can’t play, Za’Darius Smith would likely start in his place.
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Rookie cornerback Anthony Averett (hamstring) and defensive tackle Willie Henry (hernia surgery) did not practice for the second consecutive day.
Rosburg: ‘Rough day at the office’
Special teams coordinator Jerry Rosburg affirmed Thursday what Harbaugh said Monday about the team feeling vindicated that Denver safety Justin Simmons should have been flagged for leaping over long snapper Morgan Cox before blocking kicker Justin Tucker’s 43-yard field-goal attempt in the second quarter of Sunday’s 27-14 victory.
Although NFL rules prohibit players from running toward and jumping over the line of scrimmage to block a kick, Rosburg said he did not pin any blame on the officials.
“The player was not within the framework of the center. He was outside that,” he said, outlining the parameters for leaping over a lineman. “He was on the line of scrimmage because his foot was within the feet of the linemen. But from my vantage point, I saw movement. So I thought there was a foul. They didn’t, but they were obviously informed of this, and I would guess they thought it was going to be one thing, and it turned out to be another.”
In addition to the blocked field-goal attempt, there was also a blocked punt by Sam Koch, and Rosburg noted that Tim White’s opening kick return might have gone further than 18 yards if not for a blown blocking assignment.
“It was a rough day at the office,” he said. “Special teams is a game filled with fundamentals. Our fundamentals broke down. It’s my responsibility to coach those guys better. He’s going to have to have better technique if he’s going to be on the punt team. It’s one thing to guard the Gatorade cooler, it’s another to guard the club treasury. That’s the situation.”
Just as the Ravens’ health improved, so too has the Steelers’. The number of starters who did not practice shrank from three Wednesday to one Thursday, and center Maurkice Pouncey’s absence was not injury related. Two of the three starters who did not practice Wednesday in left guard Ramon Foster (not injury related) and Roethlisberger (not injury related) fully participated in Thursday’s session. Starting wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster (abdomen) and slot cornerback Mike Hilton (right elbow) were upgraded to limited participation. Starting strong safety Morgan Burnett (groin) was downgraded to limited participation. Two starters in right guard David DeCastro (fractured hand) and right tackle Marcus Gilbert (hamstring) practiced fully for the second straight day. … Wide receiver Ryan Switzer has handled every kick and punt return for Pittsburgh this season, but fellow wideout Antonio Brown has 233 combined returns for 2,932 yards and five touchdowns in his career. So does Rosburg anticipate seeing Brown in that role Sunday night? “They won’t let us watch their practices. So it’s hard for me to anticipate what they’re going to do,” he said with a smile. “But he’s a highly skilled player, a very competitive guy. Would it surprise me if he’s back there? Not in the least.” … The Ravens have surrendered a league-low nine points in the second half through their first three games, but Martindale declined to discuss the subject, likening it to talking about a potential no-hitter in baseball. “I understand that everybody wants to write a story,” he said. “But we need to talk about that after Week 16 because if we start looking at all of that stuff, you get lost on the focus.”