By John EisenbergRavens InsiderCSNbaltimore.com
Ravens coach John Harbaugh issued a strong defense Friday against charges that his team is using an illegal blocking scheme.
"The blocking scheme we're talking about is one that almost every team in the National Football League runs," Harbaugh said. "We've been running it for years. Some teams do it better than others. The block is absolutely legal. It's 100 percent ethical and there is no danger whatsoever with the way the block is being executed.
Steelers nose tackle Casey Hampton accused the Ravens of using chop blocks -- hitting a defender below the waist while the defender is engaged with another player -- during last Sundays game in Baltimore.
The Ravens were never penalized for using a chop block during the game. But Jerry Gray, the defensive coordinator of the Tennessee Titans, whom the Ravens play Sunday, saw things on the game film that he didnt like.
"Theyre trying to cut you and do those things, Gray told The Tennessean, a Nashville newspaper. Youve got to make sure youre doing something thats hopefully going to hurt them, too. You cant just be the recipient of everything. Youve got to start doing something thats going to get you back on track and hopefully theyll tone that stuff down when you do something else.
The league office might not like hearing a coach suggest his players are hopefully going to hurt opposing players.
Regardless, Harbaugh dismissed the entire discussion as irrelevant.
"An adjacent offensive lineman on a run play that's away can cut the next defender, Harbaugh explained. It's the defender's responsibility to not hold the center and keep him from getting up on the linebacker who the center is trying to block and expose himself. It's his job to let that guy go and defend himself. So, if you choose to keep that center off that linebacker then you're choosing to make yourself vulnerable to being cut in front. So, just play defense."
Cornerbacks Jimmy Smith (ankle) and Chris Carr (hamstring) are listed as out of Sunday's game, according to the team's Friday injury report. Guard Ben Grubbs (toe) is listed as doubtful. If Grubbs is unable to go, the Ravens would go with newcomer Andre Gurod in his place. Although Gurod has been a Pro Bowl center for the past five seasons, he played guard for the Dallas Cowboys early in his career.
The Ravens' Brendan Ayanbadejo was fined 15,000 by the NFL for a horse-collar tackle on a kickoff return in last week's game against the Steelers. Pittsburgh's Troy Polamalu was fined the same amount for a horse-collar tackle on the Ravens' Ricky Williams. Steelers cornerback Ike Taylor was fined 15,000 for unnecessary roughness for head butting Ravens tackle Michael Oher.
Follow John Eisenberg on Twitter at @CSNEisenberg