Kick returner Jacoby Jones made history Sunday as he returned a kickoff 105 yards for a touchdown to become the first player in franchise history to return two kickoffs for touchdowns in the same season. He’s also the first Ravens player to have two kick return touchdowns in his career with Baltimore.
He leads the NFL with a 38.6 yards per kickoff return average after taking the place of rookie Deonte Thompson in Week 6.
With Jones having returned another kickoff 108 yards for a touchdown in Week 6 against the Cowboys, Harbaugh was asked whether the speedy returner now has the green light to take a kick out of the end zone whenever he wants.
“I would say no; Jacoby would probably tell you yes,” said Harbaugh as he laughed. “That’s probably where we’re at with it right now. It depends on hang time. We don’t really have a depth issue. The whole dynamic of the kickoff return rules have changed.”
Special teams coordinator Jerry Rosburg has said in the past it’s taken time to really get a grasp on kickoffs since the NFL moved them up to the 35-yard line last season, but the Ravens coach their returners to use their internal clock in terms of how long a ball hangs in the air and whether it’s wise to take it out of the end zone.
Like many teams across the league, the Ravens have used a more aggressive strategy this season after using a conservative approach last season. The addition of an explosive returner like Jones has gone a long way in transforming that philosophy.
“What’s happened is when you bring them out that deep, the geometry of the play has changed a little bit so you see more big plays for some reason,” Harbaugh said. “When it’s a high kick deep like that, then we try to keep him in there.”
As for Jones’ touchdown dance, which has become quite an attraction in his first year in Baltimore, the Ravens had a good time reliving what turned out to be a family affair. His mother, Emily London-Jones, was in attendance and Jones’ family happened to be seated in the same end zone in which Jones scored his touchdown.
“I was impressed. You know his mom and his family were right in that corner?” Harbaugh said. “He tossed the ball to his mom, and he and his mom had that little dance thing going. We did show it to the team today in our team meeting.”
Nada on Ngata (and Jimmy Smith)
After defensive tackle Haloti Ngata and cornerback Jimmy Smith sat out Sunday’s win over Oakland, Harbaugh had no new updates on the status of either player.
The Ravens voluntarily rested Ngata in hopes of the Pro Bowl defensive lineman being closer to 100 percent for Pittsburgh while Smith couldn’t loosen up a sore groin during pre-game warmups. Both players were active for Sunday’s game but saw no playing time.
“I really don’t have anything new to report on that until Wednesday,” Harbaugh said. “We don’t have any new information. We don’t have anything major coming out of the game. Haloti, obviously, and Jimmy resting should be a plus for us. We’ll just have to see how those guys are looking on Wednesday.”
Baltimore reported no new injuries after Sunday’s game.