OWINGS MILLS, Md. — The Baltimore Ravens (3-1) returned to the practice field Wednesday at 1 Winning Drive, looking ahead to a Sunday showdown with the Denver Broncos (2-2) at M&T Bank Stadium.
The Ravens’ AFC North foe enters Sunday’s contest with the top passing defense in the NFL, having compiled 339.5 yards per game over their first four contests. QB Kyle Orton has thrown for 295 yards or more in all four games, including 476 in a Week 3 loss to the Indianapolis Colts and 341 last Sunday in a win over the Tennessee Titans. The Ravens meanwhile enter the contest with the top passing defense in the league, allowing just 119 passing yards per game through their first four.
While Ravens Pro Bowl LB Ray Lewis said Wednesday that Orton is “throwing the ball extremely well”, he also noted that the Broncos have benefited from “a lot of missed tackles”, adding “the run after catch is huge.” Lewis said the Broncos may complete a number of passes Sunday, but the Ravens know “you have to hit them and stop them where they catch it at.” Ravens CB Fabian Washington agreed with Lewis, saying “their receivers are good after the catch. They can turn short yards into home runs. Once they catch the ball, you gotta get them on the ground.”
Ravens CB Lardarius Webb praised the Broncos’ WR corps, admitting “I didn’t how good these guys were until I cut up my film. Eddie Royal, Brandon Lloyd, (Jabar) Gaffney, these guys are some of the best.” Washington acknowledged the Broncos have four very talented wide receivers (including rookie Demaryius Thomas), but stated “I think we have five very good corners. I think we match up well with them.”
GAITHER UPDATE: While Head Coach John Harbaugh offered reporters no additional information regarding OT Jared Gaither’s meeting with back special Dr. Robert Watkins Monday in Los Angeles, Gaither himself was a little more open.
Gaither said he still hasn’t been cleared to return to the football field; and that he was “not sure” what needs to happen to get clearance. Gaither pointed out, “I still have pain and I still don’t have all the movements, I guess I wouldn’t be cleared until I can do that.”
Gaither reiterated that every opinion he’s received has been that he wouldn’t need surgery for the back; but said he still has no timetable for when he can return. When asked about when he might be able to return to the team, Gaither didn’t have a timetable but said “I can’t wait” to get back on the field. Gaither was on the practice field last Wednesday, but said he was just trying to determine how much pain he could handle.
In the meantime, Gaither said he is working on “core stabilization.” He explained “I don’t know if there’s much treatment you can do to help a disc. You pretty much have to strengthen everything else around it and see how much pain you can take.”
With Gaither out, the Ravens acquired veteran OL Scott Kooistra Tuesday-replacing CB Prince Miller on the active roster. Harbaugh said the Ravens valued Kooistra’s experience in the AFC North. In the 7th season of his career, Kooista’s previous NFL experience was entirely with the Cincinnati Bengals and Cleveland Browns.
PRACTICE NOTES: Five Ravens were not on the field during the portion of practice open to the media Wednesday. DE Paul Kruger (knee), WR Donte’ Stallworth (foot), LB Tavares Gooden (shoulder) and Gaither have all been ruled OUT Sunday. DE Cory Redding (concussion) was not on the practice field during the portion open to the media, but said earlier he had been given the “green light” to return and was not listed on the injury report.
RB’s Ray Rice and Willis McGahee as well as FB Le’Ron McClain were all on the practice field-Rice and McClain were full participants, McGahee wasn’t listed. Rice entered the team’s Week 4 win over the Pittsburgh Steelers with a knee injury, McGahee and McClain both suffered stingers during the win at Heinz Field.
LB Edgar Jones (thigh) was a limited participant in practice, TE Todd Heap (shoulder) was listed as a full participant.
For the Broncos, CB Champ Bailey (non-injury) and RB Spencer Larsen (ankle) did not participate in practice Wednesday. CB Andre Goodman (quad), RB Knowshon Moreno (hamstring) and LB Wesley Woodyard (hamstring) were all limited. All other Broncos were unlisted.
NOTES: Hear from Harbaugh, Lewis, Gaither, Webb, Washington, Gooden, Kruger, QB Joe Flacco, LB Jarret Johnson and WR TJ Houshmandzadeh NOW in the BuyAToyota.com Audio Vault here at WNST.net……DT Lamar Divens is scheduled to join Drew Forrester Thursday morning at 7:00am on “The Morning Reaction” on AM1570 WNST……Johnson will get to see his good friend and former Ravens teammate in Broncos DL Justin Bannan Sunday; he said he told Bannan this week to “stay out of that white jersey. He looks awful in white.” Broncos coach Josh McDaniels told the Charm City media contingent in a conference call Wednesday that Bannan has brought “leadership skills” and a “great work ethic” to the Mile High City……Flacco said he kept a football from Sunday’s win, not because of the significance of the win, but instead because the ball had pink ribbons on it. Flacco admitted he liked the ball because it “was different”, and was going to steal one whether the Ravens won the game or not……The Ravens return to practice Thursday; coordinators Greg Mattison, Cam Cameron and Jerry Rosburg as well as LB Terrell Suggs are amongst those expected to meet with the media.