Mason: 'I've been a glorified running back'

Mason: 'I've been a glorified running back'

OWINGS MILLS -- Derrick Mason complained about a diminished role, venting that the Baltimore Ravens have reduced him from a two-time Pro Bowl wide receiver to a glorified running back. Following the Ravens' 12-10 loss to the Denver Broncos, Mason expressed major displeasure with how he's being utilized in the offense despite being the team's leading receiver.

"For the last five games, I've been a glorified running back," Mason told Comcast SportsNet on Sunday. "Basically, I catch five- and six-yard routes. And that's not me. There has to be a point where you got to allow someone to go out there and use his abilities to make plays.

"That's what you brought me in for. You allowed me to do some things in the first half of the season, but now it seems like I'm the third option everywhere we go."

Mason hasn't been nearly as productive since quarterback Kyle Boller returned to the starting lineup from a toe injury five games ago.

Mason caught six passes for 53 yards against the Broncos, three catches for 32 yards against the Houston Texans, three catches for 58 yards against the Cincinnati Bengals, four catches for 42 yards against the Pittsburgh Steelers and four catches for 63 yards against the Jacksonville Jaguars.

Mason's last big game came when Anthony Wright was under center, catching seven passes for 91 yards in a narrow Monday night loss to the Steelers.

Mason was also perturbed about Ravens coach Brian Billick's unsuccessful decision to go for a touchdown on 4th-and-goal rather than kick a field goal with 9:54 remaining in the fourth quarter.

"I'm not going to second-guess the coaches, they made the call and we're going to live with that as a team," Mason said. "You need to ask coach Billick if he made the right call or not.

"He'll probably give you a straight answer. He'll probably give you one of those intelligent answers. Go ask him. You ought to get a mouthful."

Mason leads Baltimore with 69 receptions for 800 yards, ranking sixth in the AFC and 12th in the NFL in catches. The former Tennessee Titans standout signed a five-year contract worth $20 million last spring.

"Those are comments given after a game that he had six catches, I don't know what Derrick meant by that," said Billick, who later added that Mason phoned receivers coach David Shaw on Monday to express regret about his remarks. "Derrick is a very emotional player. We threw the ball 45-some odd times and we ask a lot of Derrick to block and he's good at it. And it's a big part of it."

Mason's reduced numbers have coincided with the emergence of rookie first-round draft pick Mark Clayton, who has 14 catches for 191 yards in the last two games.

Clayton owns the team's rookie records for catches and yardage with 34 receptions for 346 yards, and he caught his first NFL touchdown in the final minutes in Denver.

"That's what we envisioned Mark Clayton doing when we drafted him," Billick said. "There is still a huge upside to him and what he can do. You're seeing in a lot of different ways -- some of them unique to Mark -- primarily down the field what he's capable of doing in being an impact player."

TRAINING ROOM: Defensive end Tony Weaver may be ready to return from a back injury for Monday night's game against the Green Bay Packers.

"We feels very good about the progress he's making," Billick said.

Meanwhile with only three games remaining on the schedule, the Ravens may be forced to place three more players on injured reserve.

Tight end Daniel Wilcox has been diagnosed with a high-ankle sprain, and offensive guard Keydrick Vincent (thigh) and linebacker Mike Smith (hamstring) are still nursing injuries.

"We're now actually up against a time limit," Billick said. "We'll use every bit of the next two days on those three individuals in particular to see where we're at and if we have to make a move."

Offensive tackle Jonathan Ogden and rookie guard Jason Brown pinched nerves in their ankles, but are both expected to practice Thursday when the team returns to work.

Billick didn't shed much light on running back Jamal Lewis' thumb injury that forced him out of Sunday's game amid concerns about his ability to grip the football. Lewis was added to the injury report Saturday with a probable listing.

"Like a lot of injuries, there was no sense of hiding it per se," Billick said. "We really thought it would progress. It could be that way and all of a sudden the next Sunday it feels great, it's gotten past that amount of swelling and tenderness or whatever it is that keeps him from gripping it. How we'll categorize it, I don't know."

 

In addition to being a long time contributor to RavensInsider, Aaron Wilson writes for the Carroll County Times in Westminster Maryland.

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