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Ravens DL Canty to wear 'Big Grille'

The SportsXchange

OWING MILLS, Md. -- Baltimore Ravens defensive lineman Chris Canty has been granted medical clearance to wear a special facemask, according to NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy.

McCarthy confirmed to the Baltimore Sun that both Canty and New York Giants defensive end Justin Tuck were given permission to wear the facemasks.

Canty sustained a serious eye injury eight years ago. Tuck is dealing with a recurring neck injury.

Canty wears a dark visor attached to his helmet. The facemask provides plenty of protection with several horizontal and vertical bars. It also creates something of an intimidation factor for the imposing 6-foot-7, 317-pounder.

Canty's teammates with the Giants once referred to his facemask as "The Big Grille," with a Facebook page devoted to the headgear as well.

"I invented it," Canty said. "It's that simple. I can't play without it. I can't help it that other guys think it's cool and they want to wear it, too. It's a necessity for me."

Canty wears the facemask because of a serious eye injury suffered prior to the 2005 NFL draft.

While Canty was trying to leave a bar after a fight broke out that he wasn't involved in, one of the combatants threw a beer bottle that struck Canty in the eye. It detached his retina, which required emergency surgery and saved his eyesight.

Now Canty takes no chances when it comes to protecting his damaged left eye.

With this kind of facemask where blockers can't get close to his eye, Canty is at virtually no risk of aggravating his eye.

"I started playing with it since my rookie year in Dallas following the eye incident before the draft," Canty said. "We developed something that can keep hands out of my face, so it wouldn't detach my retina again."

--Ravens coach John Harbaugh was in no mood for nonsense Saturday.

An angry Harbaugh threatened to cut cornerback Asa Jackson for getting into a practice fight, sent wide receiver Aaron Mellette to the bench for a lack of effort and needled the defense.

"Good practice, good tough, hard-nosed practice," Harbaugh said. "A lot of good, tough, hard-nosed situations. That's how you develop a tough, hard-nosed football team."

"Get your squirrelly (butt) out of here," Harbaugh yelled at Jackson during practice. "If you ever do that again, you are cut. It's a penalty and an ejection. Learn the rules."

"Get (Mellette) off the field," Harbaugh said. "He's lackadaisical. He's lazy."

Afterward, veteran cornerback Corey Graham said the intensity is good for the team.

"It was a great day out there today," Graham said. "The offense started out amazing and then the defense picked it up and found a way to make plays. It was a very competitive, fun day. To be honest with you, I really enjoyed myself out there. It was a great day to be a Raven."

--Team correspondents for The Sports Xchange contributed material for this story.
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