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OWINGS MILLS, Md. (AP) — A three-day break wasn't enough to separate the Baltimore Ravens from the Ray Rice saga, and coach John Harbaugh expects the suspended running back and domestic violence to remain topics the team and the NFL will be addressing the foreseeable future.
"We're probably not going to get away from it and probably rightly so," Harbaugh said Monday. "Not just us, the league. Hopefully it impacts society in a good way going forward."
Still, the Ravens tried to steer the conversation toward football.
Before Harbaugh addressed the media on Monday, team spokesman Kevin Byrne told reporters: "We're trying to move on, at least publicly, now that there's an independent investigation on the Ray Rice situation. He said the coach and players would "not to talk publicly about that anymore."
It's just not that easy.
Harbaugh never mentioned the words "Ray Rice" while responding to a question of whether the hiatus after Thursday's game came at the perfect time. Rather, he spoke about the importance of dealing with domestic violence beyond just the scope of the NFL.
"It's a bigger issue than sports. It's a societal issue," Harbaugh said. "It's a problem that is all across society, not just in our country. Historically, sports has been a catalyst for positive change, especially in this country. That's a good thing. If good can come out of that some way, and our organization and players can be part of that somehow, I would really embrace that."
The Ravens have been in damage-control mode since releasing Rice after a video surfaced on Sept. 8 showing him striking his then-fiancee in an elevator last February. After the Ravens cut ties with Rice, the NFL extended his suspension from two games to indefinite.
Just because the Ravens had some time off, that doesn't mean they escaped hearing about Rice and the backlash from that explicit video.
"I'm sure they watch TV," Harbaugh said. "It was pretty much a topic of conversation all through the weekend and it's going to continue to be."
And while the case continues, so do the football games.
And the last time they took the field, the Ravens (1-1) breezed to a lopsided victory over the Steelers.
"We don't get caught up in the swirl as much as you think," Harbaugh said. "The media is always here, and I thought our guys did a great job of handling the situation that came up."
Next on the schedule: A trip to Cleveland to face the surprising Browns (1-1).
Bernard Pierce will start at running back for a third straight week for the Ravens and Justin Forsett will play a reserve role. The duo combined for 152 yards on 30 carries against Pittsburgh.
"Both those guys played well, ran hard and protected the football," Harbaugh said. "The offensive line has played really well in front of them, too."
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