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Feisty Ravens still have that brash reputation

OWINGS MILLS, Md. (AP) -New coach, same reputation.

The brash personality the Baltimore Ravens developed under Brian Billick is still very much evident this season. That's not always a good thing.

The feisty Ravens got into a free-for-all during an early minicamp practice under new coach John Harbaugh, and that confrontational attitude has spilled over to the regular season. Being physical is fine, as long as that energy is used before the whistle blows.

But the Ravens have paid dearly this season for their aggressive behavior. A personal foul penalty against linebacker Jarret Johnson for an out-of-bounds hit stoked a Pittsburgh touchdown drive in Baltimore's 23-20 overtime defeat on Sept. 29, and the Ravens were involved in several skirmishes Sunday in a 13-10 loss to Tennessee.

Baltimore was penalized 11 times for 91 yards, the most damaging infraction a 15-yarder against defensive end Terrell Suggs for striking Tennessee quarterback Kerry Collins in the helmet during a pivotal fourth-quarter touchdown drive.

Afterward, Suggs insisted he did nothing to warrant the penalty. He also suggested that the Ravens are perceived to be the NFL's ``bad boys'' and therefore receive more scrutiny than other teams. To back that assertion, Suggs brought up the penalty against Johnson.

``Clearly, a guy (Pittsburgh's Hines Ward) hit another guy (Johnson) out of bounds, and all (Johnson) did was push back. Fifteen yards on us,'' Suggs said.

So, are these still the big, bad Ravens that played nine years for Billick?

That's history,'' Harbaugh said Monday.I know the type of guys we have playing for us now, and I'm proud to be coaching these guys. We've got competitive guys, men of integrity, character guys. That's what our football team is all about.

We're going to be a rough, tough, hard-hitting, hard-playing football team. And we're going to do it with class, within the rules and with great self-discipline,'' Harbaugh said.That's where we're going as a football team, and I think you saw a lot of that yesterday.''

There was plenty of facemask grabbing and jersey tugging after the whistle. The Ravens didn't back down and often were left backing up after the officials marked off a penalty.

Suggs was called for unnecessary roughness in the first quarter; running back Willis McGahee was cited for the same violation in the second period. Mason received a personal foul in the third quarter, and there was Suggs' notable helmet tap in the closing minutes.

Add 'em up: That's 60 yards in penalties. In the last two weeks, the Ravens have been penalized 19 times for 163 yards.

But Harbaugh has no desire to change the manner in which his team plays.

I'm encouraged in the sense we have a tough, hard-nosed, clean, disciplined football team,'' he said.Guys that play football the right way - the Raven Way. We're building on that.''

The Raven Way. That brand of smashmouth football was in place long before Harbaugh arrived, and he's intent upon maintaining that tradition.

You look at guys like Ray Lewis and guys on that defense who have been here a long time, certain guys on the offense. (Wide receiver) Derrick Mason played for the Titans all those years. He's a Raven now,'' Harbaugh said.It's a compilation of all the guys you have and the influences on the team right now.''

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