Late For Work 11/7: James Ihedigbo Denies Choking Greg Little (Watch Replay)

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Ihedigbo Denies Choking Little (Watch Replay)

This screen grab – of Ravens safety James Ihedigbo with his hands near Browns receiver Greg Little's neck area – is plastered at the top of the Cleveland Plain Dealer's website.

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Little was flagged after the two were involved in a scrum at the bottom of a pile because he ripped off Ihedigbo's helmet and launched it down the field. Little said he did it in retaliation to Ihedigbo choking him.

Ihedigbo responded to those allegations with reporters Wednesday.

"In a game, things get physical, get rowdy," he said. "I would never personally cross the lines, or play outside the rules in any manner. You can freeze the clip. I have my hand on his chest. It is what it is. He ripped off my helmet and threw it. I guess he's looking back on him losing his cool, saying what took place that didn't take place. The refs would have seen it. Other players would have seen it, and I would've been punished for the play as well. That didn't take place. He lost his cool, he threw my helmet, therefore the penalty was given on him. … I'm not a dirty player by any means."

While the screen grab of the split second is meant to support Little's claim, Ihedigbo encourages onlookers to watch the film, which is embedded below (mobile users tap "View in Browser").

"You can watch the tape at full speed," Ihedigbo said. "It was an altercation on the field. The refs dealt with it the correct way. I play hard and play physical and play to the whistle."

Watching the play in real-time, Ihedigbo's hands are in the neck area for less than a second during the exchange, which may have been completely unintentional.

"It's inconclusive whether Ihedigbo choked Little," wrote The Baltimore Sun's Aaron Wilson.

"When you go back and look at the film, it didn't exactly look like a blatant choke, but when you saw the picture you kind of wondered cause when you see someone's hands up around a guy's neck you wonder how that happened. It usually isn't by accident," ESPN Browns reporter Pat McManamon said.

Little said he heard referees telling him to let go of Ihedigbo's facemask, but didn't because he was being choked. However, Little said he didn't mention the alleged choking to the official.

"I don't have to say anything to the ref," Little told the Plain Dealer. "At that point, (Ihedigbo) crossed the line."

He added that he never got to the point where he couldn't breathe. "Not really 'cause I was kind of shaking him off at the same time, pushing him off me,'' he said.

Ihedigbo is not buying Little's statements, and believes the receiver is trying to mitigate his actions so he isn't punished by the league.

"It looks to me like he knows he lost his cool and doesn't want the league to take it out on him by fining him for throwing my helmet," said Ihedigbo. "So, this is what has kind of come of it."

Little believes that if he is fined, Ihedigbo should also be fined. The NFL usually announces those penalties on Fridays following each game.

Should Pitta Return If Ravens Continue Losing?

Ravens tight end Dennis Pitta is "closer than ever" to returning to the field after sustaining what was initially thought to be a season-ending hip injury in training camp.

Reports have indicated that Pitta could be back anywhere from mid-November to early December, and Head Coach John Harbaugh said he is crossing his fingers that his tight end will be cleared to practice soon.

But if the Ravens fail to turn their season around, starting this Sunday against the Bengals, would it be smart for Pitta to return at all? A fan posed that question to ESPN's Jamison Hensley, saying that if the Ravens are still losing, it isn't worth the risk of bringing him back too soon.

With this being the final year of his rookie contract and as he is set to become a free agent, Pitta might want to return regardless.

 "I think it becomes Pitta's call," Hensley said. "He is a free agent at the end of the year, and he may want to show everyone that he's healthy enough to play regardless of the Ravens' record. It may be in his best interest business-wise."

Here are other interesting questions and answers from the fan chat:

Chase (Severna Park): With our secondary continuing to struggle, is there any thought the ravens might sign Nnamdi Asomugha? Or at least try him out?
Hensley:Ravens have less than $2 million in cap room. Can't afford him.

Mark (Baltimore): What's with Sam Koch this season? … Do you think Ozzie will look elsewhere for a punter next year?
Hensley: "Harbaugh didn't seem to[o] happy with Koch after the game. He's been one of the most consistent punters over the past six or seven years, so he deserves some slack. But Harbaugh doesn't stand for repeated mistakes, especially when it comes to special teams. Harbaugh did make the point that Koch looks good in practice. He's not carrying it over into games. If Koch continues to struggle, the Ravens will be forced to bring in competition next year."
Colin (Baltimore): Do you think the Ravens should make some coaching replacements during the season? Hensley: "I don't see any coaching changes during the season. Harbaugh won't pull a Cam Cameron move again. I honestly don't think he'll change much this offseason either. Juan Castillo, the run game coordinator, is in the first of a three-year contract. Caldwell looked like a genius only nine months ago. And Pees is much better than what fans give him credit for. While the faces may not change, I can see some responsibilities changing within the staff."

Nick (UMBC): Will either Ray Rice or Bernard Pierce be the starting running back on opening day a year from now?
Hensley: Pierce is too cheap to let go. He'll definitely be back. The Ravens are going to have to decide whether Rice is worth it at $8.75 million salary-cap number.

'DEFCON 5' Worse Than State Of Emergency

Ravens outside linebacker Terrell Suggs declared the Ravens to be in a "state of emergency" after his team fell to the Pittsburgh Steelers in Week 7.

But the Ravens lost to the Browns in the following game, and are still in a position to make a run for the AFC North crown. So what level is higher than a state of emergency?

"DEFCON 5," Suggs told reporters Wednesday. "I think that's pretty serious."

DEFCON (defense readiness condition) is an alert state used by the military, which has five levels of states of alert. Per my Google search, DEFCON 5 is actually the least severe. DEFCON 1 is the most severe. Each is symbolized by a color code (1 is white, 2 is red, 3 yellow, 4 green, 5 is blue).

Suggs didn't say the Ravens have reached DEFCON 5, but Chris Canty told the NFL Network that this week's matchup against the Bengals is a "do or die" situation for Baltimore.

"This is a game we have to win," Canty said. "We don't pick any bones about it. We've got to go out there and whatever – scratch and claw and scrape – whatever it take to get a win."

Hensley concurs. He says if the Ravens lose Sunday "the division will be lost" by falling three games behind the Bengals and notching a 1-3 division mark. However, they would still have a shot that the last wild-card spot.

Webb, Graham Continue To Be Targeted

Few NFL cornerbacks have been targeted by opposing quarterbacks more than Lardarius Webb and Corey Graham, says the Baltimore Sun's Matt Vensel.

Vensel points to Webb being ranked 72nd among 75 qualifying cornerbacks in yards allowed per snap in coverage, per Pro Football Focus, to support his assertion. Graham is ranked No. 61.

"While Webb and Graham have struggled, Jimmy Smith has been a little better," Vensel wrote. "The third-year corner has been beaten for an average of 1.29 yards per snap in coverage. That is not great, either, but it is closer to the middle of the pack."

Quick Hits

  • It's been nearly a year since tackle Eugene Monroe has won a game. Since he was traded to the Ravens, he was inactive for the Miami win and then started the next three games, all of which were losses. It continued his personal losing streak that dates back to Nov. 25, 2012 when he was with the Jacksonville Jaguars. For the Ravens' sake, let's hope he doesn't make it to a full year. [The Baltimore Sun]
  • "If you're a Cincinnati Bengals fan and you enjoyed watching Giovani Bernard's zig-zagging, tackle-breaking 35-yard touchdown run at Miami last week, good news," wrote Coley Harvey. "There is a chance you could see another one this weekend when the Bengals visit Baltimore. Eight days after leaving in the fourth quarter of Cincinnati's 22-20 overtime loss to the Dolphins with a rib injury, Bernard returned to practice Wednesday, a clear indication the rookie running back will be in uniform for this Sunday's division clash with the Ravens." [ESPN]
  • @RavensInsider: Chris Canty on Giovani Bernard 'He's like a punt returner playing running back. He's a jitterbug.  Accelerates quickly good vision, fearless' [Twitter]
  • @RavensInsider: Asa Jackson is practicing as he returns from eight-game suspension. Ravens were granted roster exemption for him. He seems ready to go. [Twitter]
  • @RobertKlemko: The idea that Incognito is an "honorary black guy" is not shared by all in the locker room. Said [former Raven] Dannell Ellerbe: "Na that's crazy." [Twitter]
  • @KLM_89 [rookie Kapron Lewis-Moore]: FELT GOOD TO BE BACK ON THE FIELD TODAY!!! Little rusty but knee feels great! [Twitter]
  • @gdowning14: The Ravens have recorded at least 2 sacks in 16 straight games, the longest current streak in the NFL. [Twitter]
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