The Ravens appear primed to use the no-huddle attack more this season than they have at any point during the John Harbaugh era, and that’s perfectly fine with Joe Flacco.
In fact, the fifth-year quarterback wouldn’t have it any other way if given the choice.
“I love the no-huddle,” Flacco said. “We’ve got to get quicker and quicker at it. I like to go up there and run a play, run a play, run play. That’s what we’re going to be, and I think we have to make sure we get it as fast as we can.”
The Baltimore offense operated almost exclusively without a huddle in the preseason opener against the Atlanta Falcons, running 82 plays over the course of the game. Of course, that number becomes even more astonishing when you consider the first-quarter struggles that led the Ravens to only run nine plays for nine total yards in the first 15 minutes.
Running 73 plays in the final three quarters, the Ravens won’t always use the strategy, but Harbaugh stated Saturday that it’s been a major point of focus during organized team activities in the spring and over the first three weeks of training camp.
“That’s something that we have been practicing from the beginning, so obviously, that’s going to be a big part of what we do. We just have to pick our spots and all that.”
What can’t happen when using the no-huddle attack is to go three-and-out as the Ravens did for three consecutive series against the Falcons in the first quarter. Not only does it force a punt back to the opposition, but it leaves the defense even more fatigued than usual and will often result in the opposition controlling the tempo.
“It works really well when you convert; it doesn’t look so good when you don’t convert,” Harbaugh said. “When we have situations during the season, if we are out there, if we chose to go that tempo, that we don’t convert, our defense is going to have to get stops. When we do convert, we are going to build some momentum on our opponents. You have to understand how that goes.”
Veteran defensive lineman pushing Cody
Perhaps the most surprising sight from Sunday’s practice in Annapolis was seeing veteran defensive tackle Ma’ake Kemoeatu lining up with the starting defensive line during several periods while starter Terrence Cody worked with the second-team defense.
Cody is still listed as the starting nose tackle on the team’s most recent depth chart released Saturday, but the 33-year-old Kemoeatu has appeared to not only lock down a spot on the 53-man roster but is now pushing for serious playing time after not even playing in the NFL last season.
“I would say Kemo is pushing for a starting job,” Harbaugh said. “He has done that the last couple of [weeks], really since training camp has started. He’s in great shape, and he’s played extremely well.”
Kemoeatu has battled Achilles tendon and shoulder injuries in recent years and has played in only 14 games over the last three NFL seasons. The veteran played in Baltimore from 2002 through 2005 before signing a long-term contract with the Carolina Panthers.
He signed a one-year contract with the Ravens in early May after being released by the Washington Redskins last July and sitting out the 2011 season.
Upshaw working way back slowly
Rookie linebacker Courtney Upshaw worked in his third straight practice on Sunday after he sat out the preseason opener in Atlanta while still recovering from a right shoulder sprain.
The 22-year-old continues to be very limited and has his right shoulder heavily wrapped. He missed seven straight practices after sustaining the injury in a collision with rookie running back Bernard Pierce on July 28.
Upshaw is stilled listed as the Ravens’ starting rush linebacker on the official depth chart, but Albert McClellan and Sergio Kindle have received the reps in the rookie’s absent. McClellan has played well and is vying to win the starting job, according to Harbaugh.
“I’m not really feeling any pressure,” Upshaw said. “It’s just all these guys are here fighting, and I knew that coming in after they drafted me. But they just want me to get back to fight with them. Honestly, I just want to get back on the field. It’s not even about competing with [McClellan]. I just love the game so much, and I want to be out there playing the game of football.”
Expressing confidence that he would play in the Ravens’ second preseason game this Friday, Upshaw acknowledged that he still feels soreness in the shoulder and would have to be cleared to play by the training staff to compete against the Detroit Lions.
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