First Call: John Harbaugh grumbles about officiating after loss to Steelers; Vikings star may try to play Thursday

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Wednesday’s “First Call” has some agitation from Baltimore in the wake of the Ravens’ loss at Heinz Field Sunday.

The Steelers are working out some special teams players. The Vikings might get a star player back before the Steelers visit Thursday night. There was a little ripple effect from the Pitt coaching staff shake up on Tuesday.

And the ACC Championship game ratings numbers lagged behind the rest.


Harbaugh is honked

Baltimore Ravens coach John Harbaugh is still unhappy about the team’s failed 2-point conversion attempt at the end of Sunday’s loss to the Steelers.

And not just because Lamar Jackson couldn’t complete the pass to an open Mark Andrews.

Harbaugh is under the impression that Steelers defensive tackle Montravius Adams was lined up offsides on the play. That’s probably because he was. The still shot below is fairly clear. Adams’ hand is almost even with the back point of the ball.

“I haven’t heard anything from the league,” Harbaugh said Monday when asked about the possible violation. “When a guy is lined up that far – I saw the picture – that far in the neutral zone, you’d certainly expect that to get called, though.”

Did that minutia impact the outcome of the play? No.

Would it be Steelers versus Ravens if someone wasn’t upset about something the week after the game?

Of course not.


Vikings injury

The Vikings may be getting a key player back for their Thursday night game against the Steelers.

Running back Dalvin Cook was a limited participant in practice Tuesday. Thanks to a shoulder injury he suffered Nov. 28 against the San Francisco 49ers, Cook missed last week’s loss in Detroit and Monday’s practice as well.

Following Cook’s injury, ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported that he would miss at least the Lions and Steelers games before any potential return. But it appears Cook may be trying to accelerate that comeback.

Despite his recent absence, Cook is still seventh in the NFL in rushing with 773 yards, six behind Steelers rookie Najee Harris.

Rookie offensive tackle Christian Darrisaw (ankle) and former Pro Bowl wide receiver Adam Thielen (ankle) missed both practices so far this week.

Linebackers Anthony Barr (knee/hamstring) and Eric Kendricks (biceps) were both elevated from limited participation to full participants on Tuesday.


Options open

The Steelers are keeping their eyes on some special teams options.

Via SteelersWire.com, the Steelers hosted two tryouts on Tuesday. Former Cincinnati Bengals punter Drue Chrisman was one of them. He signed as an undrafted free agent out of The Ohio State University in April. Chrisman was released from the Bengals practice squad in October.

Rookie punter Pressley Harvin has had a few great punts, like the one that rolled out at the 1-yard line Sunday versus Baltimore. But he’s had some shanks, too.

The seventh-round draft choice is averaging 43.7 yards per punt. That’s good for just 26th in the NFL.

Rex Sunahara, a product of West Virginia, is being looked at as a long snapper. He spent the 2021 offseason with the Miami Dolphins. Current long snapper Christian Kuntz has been dealing with a hip injury, but he hasn’t been sidelined by it yet.


Moving the money

The news about Mark Whipple resigning as Pitt’s offensive coordinator may have impacted the gambling line for the Panthers’ Peach Bowl game against Michigan State.

Or — more likely to the point — concerns that quarterback Kenny Pickett may skip the Peach Bowl because Whipple is leaving may be playing a role as well.

Whipple has been mentioned as a candidate for Nebraska’s offensive coordinator vacancy. HuskerOnline.com is reporting Nebraska may double his $500,000 Pitt salary, after head coach Scott Frost visited Whipple’s home in Arizona. It’s unclear who will fill his job for the game against the Spartans Dec. 30.

Pitt opened as a four-point favorite. According to BetRivers.com, the line dropped down to two points Tuesday afternoon before climbing back to 2.5 by Tuesday night.


Eyes were elsewhere

If a quarterback fakes a slide in the forest, and no one is there to see it …

Pickett and the Panthers have certainly moved the needle locally. But the same can’t be said nationally. At least not in terms of television viewership for their ACC Championship coronation.

The Panthers’ 45-21 romp over Wake Forest was viewed by 2.6 million people. That was the smallest audience of any of the championship games Saturday.

Granted, it was up against the Big Ten title game between Iowa and Michigan. But it still had 800,000 fewer viewers than the AAC title game between Cincinnati and Houston and 12.6 million fewer viewers than Alabama and Georgia in the SEC title showdown, which drew 15.2 million on Saturday afternoon.

Tim Benz is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Tim at tbenz@triblive.com or via Twitter. All tweets could be reposted. All emails are subject to publication unless specified otherwise.



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