OWINGS MILLS, Md. — The Ravens have no doubt that Joe Flacco will be available to play in Sunday’s critical meeting with the New England Patriots, but how effective the quarterback will be remains to be seen.
He along with running back Ray Rice and linebacker Elvis Dumervil were listed as questionable on the final injury report of the week after all three were limited in practice on Friday. Dumervil was a new addition to the injury report as it appears the ankle injury he suffered on Thanksgiving night continues to be an issue.
Flacco practiced on a limited basis for a third consecutive day and he’s only played catch during the media viewing portions of workouts, leaving observers to wonder just how mobile he is after suffering a mild medial collateral ligament sprain in Monday’s win over the Detroit Lions. The sixth-year quarterback will wear a brace on his left knee to protect its stability as the Ravens try to remain in position for a playoff spot in the AFC.
“He looked good. I don’t know if there’s a progression,” coach John Harbaugh said. “He looked pretty much the same all week and he got through all the practices and took his reps. He did well.”
Over the course of Baltimore’s four-game winning streak to elevate their record to 8-6, Flacco has shown good mobility in occasionally taking off to gain yards on the ground and to extend plays by eluding pressure in the pocket. A more-statuesque Flacco would put immense pressure on an offensive line that has been inconsistent in allowing him to be sacked a career-worst 42 times this season.
Flacco has gained 130 yards on 24 rushing attempts this season, averaging a career-high 5.4 yards per carry. Interestingly enough, he is on pace to set a career low in carries despite being so productive when he takes off.
“He’s always been a mobile quarterback,” Harbaugh said. “Go back to his very first game against the Bengals [with a 38-yard touchdown run in 2008]. If you’re saying people don’t take stock of that, they probably haven’t been paying attention. That’s definitely a big part of his game and it’s made a difference for us in a lot of games this year so far.”
Rice practiced for a second straight day as he has nursed a mild quadriceps strain that surfaced on his final run from scrimmage against the Lions. The sixth-year back was a non-participant in Wednesday’s workout but downplayed the significance of the injury and is expected to play.
Acknowledging earlier in the week to the New England media that his early-season hip flexor strain has continued to be an issue, Rice has looked more explosive in recent weeks, making his thigh injury a concerning development for the Ravens.
Harbaugh would not reveal whether Rice’s injury is related to his hip.
“You know I’m not going to get into all that,” Harbaugh said. “He’s on the injury report and that’s what it is. What the injury report says is what it is.”
Dumervil’s status is unclear after he wasn’t listed on the injury report before Friday. Harbaugh was available Friday before the final injury report was released, so it’s unknown whether Dumervil suffered a setback during the workout.
The Ravens’ only other question marks in terms of game-day status are linebacker Albert McClellan (neck) and cornerback Asa Jackson (hamstring). Neither player practiced all week as Baltimore listed McClellan as questionable and Jackson as doubtful for Sunday’s game. It’s worth noting that McClellan, a key special-teams contributor, missed several weeks of practices earlier in the year without missing a game despite a lingering shoulder issue.
Meanwhile, New England ruled out wide receiver Josh Boyce and listed seven players as questionable, with the most significant concern being left tackle Nate Solder. The offensive lineman suffered his second concussion in as many weeks last Sunday but practiced on a limited basis Thursday and Friday.
Others listed as questionable for New England included rookie wide receivers Aaron Dobson and Kenbrell Thompkins, cornerbacks Kyle Arrington and Alonzo Dennard, and linebacker Brandon Spikes.
After a mild week in terms of any potential trash talk between these teams who’ve met in plenty of meaningful games over the last five years, Patriots safety Devin McCourty provided some bulletin board material to get the Ravens’ attention ahead of Sunday’s game. McCourty acknowledged hating the Ravens “a little bit” and admitted New England clinching its fifth consecutive AFC East title wouldn’t be the only goal on his mind.
“I’ll put it this way: there would be no better feeling than us beating them Sunday and…we eliminate their season right there,” McCourty told Comcast SportsNet New England. “For me and a lot of my teammates, there’d be no better feeling.”
The referee for Sunday’s game will be Ron Winter.
The forecast is calling for unseasonably warm temperatures approach 71 degrees, but there is a 60-percent chance of rain that could include thunderstorms and winds around 20 miles per hour. Of course, it’s just the latest example of unusual weather this season as the Ravens have endured two weather-related delays, high winds, significant snow, and even a tornado warning at different points.
“Thunderstorms go with lightning, so that could be a delay,” said Harbaugh as he laughed. “We won’t be surprised if that happens.”
It was also announced Friday that Detroit linebacker DeAndre Levy was not fined for his helmet shot delivered just below Flacco’s knee that wasn’t penalized during the game. However, Ravens safety Matt Elam was fined $7,875 for unnecessary roughness on his hit delivered to a sliding Matthew Stafford.
Here is the final injury report of the week:
OUT: CB Asa Jackson (thigh)
QUESTIONABLE: LB Elvis Dumervil (ankle), QB Joe Flacco (knee), LB Albert McClellan (neck), RB Ray Rice (thigh)
PROBABLE: TE Dallas Clark (illness), S Brynden Trawick (ankle)
OUT: WR Josh Boyce (ankle)
QUESTIONABLE: CB Kyle Arrington (groin), CB Alfonzo Dennard (knee, shoulder), WR Aaron Dobson (foot), LB Dane Fletcher (groin), T Nate Solder (concussion), LB Brandon Spikes (knee), WR Kenbrell Thompkins (hip)
PROBABLE: WR Danny Amendola (groin), QB Tom Brady (right shoulder), T Marcus Cannon (ankle), S Steve Gregory (finger), TE Michael Hoomanawanui (knee), T Will Svitek (ankle), CB Aqib Talib (hip)