With the Oakland Raiders coming to town this weekend, Ravens defensive coordinator Rex Ryan will probably give his twin brother (and Oakland defensive coordinator), Rob, a call to talk shop.
The boys are likely to go out to dinner the night before the game, and a pre-kickoff conversation at midfield is all but certain.
But, once each Ryan takes their respective sideline, the colors of the jerseys run deeper than the blood in their veins.
To Rex Ryan, Sunday's matchup is a bigger version of a childhood fight.
"You kind of get a little combo platter there, because you definitely look forward to seeing him and spending a little time with him – maybe go out to eat with him or something," he said. "But, other than that you're going to feel bad for somebody, and I'd just as soon feel bad for him.
"It's all about the win, and hopefully our team will come out on top."
With their father being longtime NFL defensive guru Buddy Ryan, it's no stretch to believe that Buddy's sons have led two of the league's best defenses the past few years.
Rob Ryan, who typically sported long, gray hair before recently cutting it, has been the Raiders' coordinator for five years. Although the unit is currently ranked 26th, allowing an average of 360.0 yards per game, Oakland was third overall in 2006 and eighth in pass defense in 2007.
Rex Ryan's defense has ranked no lower than sixth in each of his four seasons as coordinator.
"There are a lot of similarities," Baltimore offensive coordinator Cam Cameron said of the brothers. "The scheme is a little bit different, but you can see the effort in the players is the same. You can see the chemistry the Ryan family has a knack for.
"That's why we have to be ready to play."
The Ryans are looking forward to having their father in town for the "Ryan Bowl," as some in the Ravens' locker room have dubbed it.
"It's going to be great to get a chance to see Rob here before the game," said Rex Ryan. "And my dad will be on the sideline with us for a few minutes. It'll be a lot of fun. But when the ball is kicked off, then he is just like anybody else. We really don't care about each other then."
The twins actually met once before at M&T Bank Stadium, when the Ravens defeated Oakland 28-6 on Sept. 17, 2006. That day, Baltimore notched six sacks, snared three interceptions and limited the Raiders to only 162 yards.
To Rex Ryan, Sunday's contest is more about getting a win and improving to 4-3 than it is rubbing a victory in his brother's face.
He even roots for the Raiders on some occasions.
"I do wear a Raider hat every once in a while to show my support if they get a big win or something," Rex Ryan said. "But it's, again, I'm really proud of him, and I want him to win every game except this one. This one right here, I mean it's just like Cincinnati, Pittsburgh or anybody else. I don't like them too much this week."
Don't Sleep on Rob's Defense
Even though Oakland has a defense that is 24th against the run, giving up 136.0 yards per game, and a pass defense that is 22nd, allowing 224.3 yards, Cameron is not overlooking the unit.
And considering Cameron would regularly face the Raiders as offensive coordinator for their AFC West rival San Diego Chargers from 2002-06, he would know.
"Their record is not indicative of the way that defense plays," said Cameron. "Having gone against it twice a year for the last six years, I have a lot of respect for the job that Rob [Ryan] does there. They're playing hard.
"Statistically, there are some things that don't really show you how hard they're playing. They're going to line up with a safety in the middle, cover you man-to-man and get after the quarterback. They do a good job of it."
Cameron noted that the Ravens must win their individual battles against a big, smash-mouth opponent, which reminds him of a classic Raiders team.
"They like to do what they did in the 70s, play every guy one-on-one to see if you can win the one-on-one matchup," Cameron said, describing Oakland's 16-13 overtime victory against the New York Jets last week. "They double guys at times. They have other things in their packages, but if you look at what they did to the Jets, they said, 'Hey, we're going to play you one-on-one, and then we're going to blitz you.'
"They went with a zero blitz a couple of times against the Jets and forced the Jets into a little more conventional attack. They're going to be aggressive."
Derrick Mason missed Thursday's practice with an illness, joining fellow wideouts Demetrius Williams (ankle) and Yamon Figurs (knee) in the training room during the session.
That meant the Ravens had to work with only four receivers, Mark Clayton, Marcus Smith, Ernie Wheelwright and practice-squadder Edward Williams.
Additionally, safety Ed Reed (thigh), offensive tackle Jared Gaither (knee) and cornerback Chris McAlister (knee) were limited in practice.
Tight end Todd Heap's 93-yard, one-touchdown on six catches against the Raiders on Dec. 14, 2003 marks his third-highest single-game total of his career…The Ravens boast the NFL's best run defense, only giving up 67.2 yards per game. Meanwhile, Oakland averages 143.0 yards per game on the ground behind running backs Darren McFadden, Michael Bush and Justin Fargas. "I tell you, they've got three backs who can really go," said Ryan. "That's one thing. So they've got a lot of depth at that position. It's generally a zone scheme. You've got [head coach Tom] Cable who is from that Alex Gibbs tree, if you want to call it, all that zone blocking. They do a tremendous job up front and they've got explosive backs, so that's how they've been hurting people."…Baltimore waived cornerback Derrick Roberson from the practice squad and signed center Marvin Phillip, a second-year pro out of Cal.