Tag Archive | "Arthur Jones"

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A. Jones, McClellan sign tenders for 2013 season

Posted on 27 March 2013 by Luke Jones

As the Ravens continued to make moves to bolster their defense, two incumbent members of their Super Bowl team officially signed their respective tenders on Wednesday.

Defensive lineman Arthur Jones signed his second-round tender worth $2.02 million for the 2013 season. This means that other teams may no longer negotiate with Jones in an effort to sign him to an offer sheet and potentially pluck him away from Baltimore.

In his third NFL season, Jones emerged as a viable threat along the defensive line as he made six starts and finished the year with 47 tackles and 4 1/2 sacks. He will compete with veteran free-agent additions Chris Canty and Marcuse Spears for playing time along the defensive line as it’s been speculated that Pro Bowl defensive tackle Haloti Ngata will move inside to play more nose tackle this season.

After taking Jones in the fifth round of the 2010 draft from Syracuse, the Ravens could still explore a contract extension for the 6-foot-3, 315-pound lineman as he is scheduled to become an unrestricted free agent following the 2013 season.

Linebacker Albert McClellan also signed his exclusive-rights tender on Wednesday, which was only a formality considering players with less than three accrued seasons own no negotiating rights. Often overshadowed by teammates, McClellan started 12 games at the strong-side linebacker position this season, finishing with 42 tackles and one sack.

A rookie free agent from Marshall who spent the 2010 season on the practice squad, McClellan is an underrated member of the Baltimore defense with versatility that includes the ability to play all four linebacker positions. Coach John Harbaugh told reporters at the league meetings in Arizona last week that the Ravens may elect to have McClellan focus on the inside linebacker position due to the exits of Ray Lewis and Dannell Ellerbe.

McClellan is also one of the best special-teams players on the roster, finishing with seven special-teams tackles and a forced fumble in 2012.

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Ed Reed resolution coming at this week’s league meetings?

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Ed Reed resolution coming at this week’s league meetings?

Posted on 17 March 2013 by Luke Jones

It looked to be a foregone conclusion last week that Ed Reed would be walking away from the Ravens after 11 years, but the free-agent safety never shies away from keeping everyone guessing.

Leaving Houston without a contract agreement after a two-day visit, Reed may determine his 2013 destination this week at the league meetings in Arizona as the Ravens and Texans are reportedly scheduled to meet with his agent David Dunn. It remains unclear how much the Ravens are willing to offer the 34-year-old, but general manager Ozzie Newsome has remained in touch with Reed’s representation since a meeting with the safety before the start of free agency.

It’s similar to how the Ravens handled the free agency of Ray Lewis — who was also represented by Dunn — following the 2008 season when the linebacker briefly flirted with the idea of joining another team before learning his value wasn’t as high as he hoped and he re-signed with Baltimore. Reed is believed to be seeking a salary approaching the $7.2 million base salary he earned last season, but his decision to leave Houston without a contract is an obvious sign the Texans’ offer wasn’t where he wanted it to be.

Or, he’s simply not ready to pull the trigger in leaving the Ravens behind just yet.

“Four years ago, we went down this same road with Ray,” Newsome told USA Today. “Dave always does a very good job of keeping us in the loop. That doesn’t mean that Ed will come back, and it doesn’t mean that he will leave.”

While some have opined that the Ravens are suddenly jumping back into the Reed sweepstakes, it’s unlikely that Newsome would enter into a bidding war for the nine-time Pro Bowl safety. The Ravens determine a value for each and every player on their roster and rarely deviate from that price, evident by their hardline approach in wanting to slash Anquan Boldin’s 2013 $6 million base salary by $2 million before ultimately dealing him to the San Francisco 49ers for a sixth-round pick.

A potential Reed return will be far more about him wanting to finish his career with the Ravens and realizing the money may not be dramatically better somewhere else. It just doesn’t seem likely that Newsome would offer him a sexy contract because other teams are potentially in the mix and such a move wouldn’t jive with how the Ravens have handled their offseason in essentially sending the message that they’re starting over on defense after the departure of five starters from the Super Bowl XLVII team.

But as Newsome told USA Today, the Ravens want to be careful in how quickly they make the transition with their defense and Reed’s return — at Baltimore’s price, of course — would provide much-needed leadership as well as an opportunity for the future Hall of Fame safety to mentor an understudy to eventually take his place.

Dumervil in Ravens’ price range?

The unexpected availability of Broncos free-agent defensive end Elvis Dumervil was sure to spark interest from any team looking to improve its pass rush and there is “serious interest” from the Ravens, according to The Baltimore Sun.

Dumervil played outside linebacker in a 3-4 system under former Denver head coach Josh McDaniels and would certainly more than fill the void left behind by Paul Kruger, but it’s difficult to imagine the Ravens having the financial means to be serious players for the 29-year-old with several other areas to address including wide receiver, left tackle, inside linebacker, and safety.

In addition to Denver being interested in bringing back Dumervil since their renegotiated deal fell through after a fax machine fiasco on Friday — that resulted in the termination of agent Marty Magid — the Patriots and the Titans have also been named as teams with potential interest in the defensive end’s services. The reality is Dumervil’s new representation — reported to be Tom Condon and Ben Dogra — will not only be looking to recover the $8 million per year the pass rusher had agreed to accept from the Broncos but also to make their mark by fetching more money for their client if possible.

Those realities wouldn’t suggest the Ravens are a realistic candidate to sign Dumervil, who collected 20 1/2 sacks over the last two seasons.

What about the nose?

In an otherwise disappointing start to free agency with the Ravens seeing their roster gutted, Newsome has fulfilled his promise to address the defensive line by adding veteran defensive ends Chris Canty and Marcus Spears this past week.

Those signings leave the Ravens stacked at defensive end as the veterans join Arthur Jones and Pernell McPhee, but nose tackle remains an area of concern after Terrence Cody and veteran Ma’ake Kemoeatu struggled to control the line of scrimmage as opposing teams had plenty of success running up the middle in 2012. Kemoeatu is an unrestricted free agent not expected to return and Cody has one year remaining on his rookie contract, leaving many to believe Baltimore will be looking for help in April’s draft.

One option the Ravens might consider is to move All-Pro defensive tackle Haloti Ngata to the nose tackle spot, a position he’s played in the past. Canty, Spears, and Jones are all defensive ends perfectly suited to play in a 3-4 front, but the Ravens would appear to have a surplus if Ngata is to continue playing the 3-technique tackle spot in which he lines up on the outside shoulder of the guard.

Defensive coordinator Dean Pees will use multiple fronts and the Ravens love to rotate linemen into the lineup to keep everyone fresh, but you have to think the Ravens have something up their sleeve for their defensive line or they wouldn’t have signed two veteran defensive ends after designating Jones with a second-round tender. Spears also dabbled at the nose tackle spot occasionally for the Dallas Cowboys, but Ngata would appear to be the best candidate to move.

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Ravens retain rights to all six restricted free agents

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Ravens retain rights to all six restricted free agents

Posted on 11 March 2013 by Luke Jones

(Updated: 5:40 p.m.)

Entering the offseason with six restricted free agents, the Ravens have retained the rights to all of them through different channels.

Tight ends Dennis Pitta and Ed Dickson and defensive lineman Arthur Jones were each tendered contracts as Pitta and Jones received second-round designations while Dickson was awarded an original-round tender on Monday. Pitta and Jones are each in line to make $2.02 million this season while Dickson’s tender is worth $1.323 million for the 2013 season.

Restricted free agents who ultimately sign and play for their one-year tender are eligible to become unrestricted free agents after the 2013 season. It’s also possible that general manager Ozzie Newsome could explore a long-term contract for Pitta as the Ravens ultimately did with cornerback Lardarius Webb last offseason, but the tender prevents him from hitting the open market in the sense of an unrestricted free agent.

A second-round designation allows another team to negotiate with and sign a player to an offer sheet, but it provides seven days for the original team to match the offer. If that team elects not to match, it receives a second-round pick from the other team as compensation for losing the player.

The original-round tender provides compensation equal to the round in which the player was drafted as a rookie. In Dickson’s case, the Ravens would receive another team’s third-round draft choice if they elected not to match a signed offer sheet.

Wide receiver David Reed was non-tendered but signed a two-year contract to remain with the Ravens. According to The Sun, the deal reportedly has a maximum value of almost $2.5 million but will be a lower cap number than the $1.323 million for the original-round tender, the lowest amount you can tender a restricted free agent.

Long snapper Morgan Cox was also non-tendered and agreed to a two-year deal.

Offensive lineman Ramon Harewood was the last of the six restricted free agents to be addressed as the Ravens reached an agreement on a one-year deal with the 2010 sixth-round pick.

Teams had until 3:59 p.m. on Tuesday to tender contracts to restricted free agents or they would become unrestricted free agents for the start of the new league year.

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Difficult decisions still loom for Ravens after locking up Flacco

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Difficult decisions still loom for Ravens after locking up Flacco

Posted on 02 March 2013 by Luke Jones

General manager Ozzie Newsome and the Ravens front office had to wake up smiling the morning after reaching an agreement in principle with Joe Flacco on a six-year, $120.6 million contract that’s expected to be finalized Monday.

The move not only locks up the franchise quarterback for the long haul, but it’s also expected to provide short-term relief to a tight salary cap that would have had a difficult time absorbing a minimum of $14.9 million with the non-exclusive franchise tag. All the terms of the record-setting contract have yet to be released, but the 2013 cap number is just $7 million, according to CBS Sports’ Jason LaCanfora.

Estimated to have roughly $18 million in cap space before accounting for their quarterback or any of their unrestricted, restricted, or exclusive-rights free agents, the Ravens will now have some space to maneuver but not enough to change the entire landscape of their offseason. Moderation will be the key as Newsome will look to sign a couple of his own unrestricted free agents, make wise decisions on his seven restricted free agents, and then turn toward the open market to explore some shrewd signings.

Here’s a rundown of what to expect as the Ravens address their remaining free agents:

No tag this year

The first order of business will be the potential use of the franchise tag as teams have until Monday at 4 p.m. to designate a player if they so desire. Many have begun asking if Newsome and the Ravens will now use the tag on outside linebacker Paul Kruger or inside linebacker Dannell Ellerbe, but we received a preliminary answer to that query just a few days after the Super Bowl.

“If we get a deal done with Joe, we will not franchise another player,” said Newsome as he appealed to owner Steve Bisciotti with a humorous tone. “We will not do that. You are OK with that, right?”

The 2013 tag numbers released by the NFL on Friday suggest that stance isn’t changing as the Ravens would be looking at a $9.6 million cost at the linebacker position. As it relates to Kruger, the pass rusher could contest that he should be considered a defensive end, which commands an $11.175 million tag number for the 2013 season.

Those price tags are far too expensive for Kruger or Ellerbe as the Ravens would be looking at massive cuts to accommodate the franchise tag, regardless of what Flacco’s 2013 cap number ultimately is.

Cuts still coming

We’ve spent plenty of time discussing which veterans might be on the chopping block due to cap constraints and the Ravens will still pull the trigger on a few. It just won’t be the mass exodus that was feared if Flacco had received either of the franchise tag options.

Offensive lineman Bobbie Williams is the easiest decision as the Ravens will clear $1.2 million from their cap by releasing the 36-year-old lineman. Linebackers Brendon Ayanbadejo ($806,000 in savings) and Jameel McClain ($1.8 million saved) are also likely to go, with McClain becoming far more expendable if the Ravens can sign Dannell Ellerbe to a long-term deal before he hits the open market.

It would be an unpopular decision, but fullback Vonta Leach remains an intriguing option to release as it would save $3 million in cap space. Leach is tremendous at what he does as the best pure fullback in the NFL, but the Ravens are clearly moving toward a pass-heavy attack after committing the richest contract in league history to their quarterback.

The 31-year-old Leach took part in just 39.7 percent of the Ravens’ offensive snaps in the postseason, so can you justify devoting that big of a cap number to the fullback with other pressing needs at left tackle and all over the defense? Should they part ways with Leach, tight end Ed Dickson could serve in more of an H-back capacity and the Ravens could look to a younger, cheaper option coming out of college.

The Flacco contract means wide receivers Anquan Boldin and Jacoby Jones are very likely to be safe, but the Ravens could explore reasonable contract extensions for both as they enter the final years of their respective contracts, thus lowering their cap numbers for 2013. This is especially true for Boldin, who carries a $7.5 million number for the upcoming season and proved himself worthy of a couple more years in Baltimore after an outstanding postseason.

Prioritizing unrestricted free agents

CONTINUE ON NEXT PAGE >>>>>

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The Five Plays That Determined The Game: Ravens/49ers

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The Five Plays That Determined The Game: Ravens/49ers

Posted on 05 February 2013 by Glenn Clark

Following every Baltimore Ravens game this season, Ryan Chell and I will take to the airwaves Tuesdays on “The Reality Check” on AM1570 WNST.net with a segment known as “The Five Plays That Determined The Game.”

It’s a simple concept. We’ll select five plays from each game that determined the outcome. These five plays will best represent why the Ravens won or lost each game.

This will be our final analysis of the previous game before switching gears towards the next game on the schedule.

Here are the five plays that determined the Ravens’ 34-31 win over the San Francisco 49ers at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome Sunday in Super Bowl XLVII…

(Note: not all pictures are always of actual play)

Glenn Clark’s Plays…

5. Jacoby Jones 108 yard kickoff return TD (3rd quarter)

4. Jacoby Jones 56 yard TD catch from Joe Flacco on 3rd & 10 (2nd quarter)

3. Colin Kaepernick pass intended for Randy Moss on two point conversion attempt incomplete (4th quarter)

2. Joe Flacco 15 yard pass to Anquan Boldin on 3rd and inches (4th quarter)

1. Colin Kaepernick pass intended for Michael Crabtree on 4th and goal incomplete (4th quarter)

(Ryan’s Plays on Page 2…)

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A. Jones confident defense can do job against mobile Kaepernick

Posted on 31 January 2013 by WNST Staff

DEFENSIVE END ARTHUR JONES

(on how his week has been) “It’s been a dream come true. Growing up as a kid, watching the NFL and watching Super Bowls, this is it. We’re living in the moment. We’re just excited to be here and we definitely want to take advantage of our situation and our opportunity. This stage isn’t too big for us. We’ve got great leadership. We’ve got Ray (Lewis), Ed Reed on defense and Joe Flacco on the offensive side of the ball. This stage isn’t too big. Guys are doing a great job of taking care of each other. Yesterday we had an awesome practice. I think we had one of our better practices that we’ve had from a defensive standpoint. We’re so excited about our game plan that we can’t wait to get to Sunday. Right now, it’s about staying poised and getting ready for Sunday and not playing the game on Thursday instead of Sunday.”

 

(on how the team has played in pressure-filled games) “I feel like our team has done a great job, us as a defensive line of causing pressure and getting after the pass. On the offensive side of the ball, (we’ve) matched quarterbacks. We’ve played against two great quarterbacks, and Colin Kaepernick is a great quarterback, too. I know Joe (Flacco) is ready to match points and put as many points on the board. We’re ready for this.”

 

(on if he has a lasting memory of a previous Super Bowl) “It’s been so many. I watch them year-in and year-out. Last year was a pretty good one.”

 

(on if his brothers Jon Jones and Patriots defensive end Chandler Jones are in New Orleans to attend the Super Bowl) “They’re already in town. Jon just flew in today, and Chandler has been here all week. I’m excited to see those guys. It’s going to be a good time.”

 

(on what Chandler thinks about it so far) “He’s excited for me. It’s been tough because I know he wanted to be in the big dance too, but he has a lot of time left. He’s going to let me have my moment.”

 

(on preparing for the running threat that Colin Kaepernick presents) “I don’t want to give up too much of our game plan, but it’s going to take everyone doing their job, everyone staying in their lanes and not trying to do too much. I feel like we’ve done a good job in the past, playing against RG III (Robert Griffin III) and Michael Vick. I’m really excited.”

 

(on the importance of stopping San Francisco running back Frank Gore) “That’s what it all comes down to: stopping that run. Frank Gore runs that offense. He’s a hard runner, and then they change it up a little with LaMichael James. It’s up to us up front to dominate the line of scrimmage upfront and stop the run.”

 

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The Five Plays That Determined The Game: Ravens/Patriots

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The Five Plays That Determined The Game: Ravens/Patriots

Posted on 22 January 2013 by Glenn Clark

Following every Baltimore Ravens game this season, Ryan Chell and I will take to the airwaves Tuesdays on “The Reality Check” on AM1570 WNST.net with a segment known as “The Five Plays That Determined The Game.”

It’s a simple concept. We’ll select five plays from each game that determined the outcome. These five plays will best represent why the Ravens won or lost each game.

This will be our final analysis of the previous game before switching gears towards the next game on the schedule.

Here are the five plays that determined the Ravens’ 28-13 win over the New England Patriots at Gillette Stadium in the AFC Championship Game…

(Note: not all pictures are always of actual play)

Glenn Clark’s Plays…

5. Nate Solder called for holding, negating Danny Woodhead 4 yard run on 3rd & 2 (3rd quarter)

4. Stephen Gostkowski 25 yard field goal after Patriots called third timeout (2nd quarter)

3. Tom Brady pass intended for Wes Welker incomplete on 3rd & 8 from Baltimore 34 (3rd quarter)

2. Dannell Ellerbe intercepts Tom Brady pass intended for Aaron Hernandez, tipped by Pernell McPhee (4th quarter)

1. Arthur Jones recovers Stevan Ridley fumble forced by Bernard Pollard (4th quarter)

(Ryan’s Plays on Page 2…)

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Rice voted winner of 2012 Ravens’ MVP award

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Rice voted winner of 2012 Ravens’ MVP award

Posted on 28 December 2012 by Luke Jones

OWINGS MILLS, Md. — Many have questioned how effectively he’s been used over the course of the 2012 season, but running back Ray Rice was recognized once again as the Ravens’ best player after being voted team MVP by the local media on Friday.

Rice won the award for the third time in the last four seasons as he accumulated his fourth straight 1,000 yard rushing season. The 25-year-old has run for 1,138 yards — 11th in the NFL — on 254 carries, which projects to be his lowest number of rushing attempts since the 2009 season. He ranks sixth in the league in yards from scrimmage with an average of 107.7 per game.

“Football being such a team sport, it really is a special honor,” Rice said. “Obviously, I look forward to going out there every Sunday — maybe it’s Monday or Thursday — and give it my best.”

In addition to his success as a rusher, Rice has caught 61 passes for 478 yards and a touchdown reception out of the backfield this season.

The fifth-year running back was elected to his third Pro Bowl earlier this week after receiving a new five-year, $40 million contract that included $24 million guaranteed over the summer.

Always a professional, Rice has taken the high road when many would have questioned their workload at times over the last couple seasons and always credits teammates for the successes he’s enjoyed throughout his professional career.

“I give all the credit to my teammates – offensive line, Vonta [Leach], Joe [Flacco] — for everybody being able to push through this season,” Rice said. “[The season is] still going for us. I’m going to make the season a special one, but I’ll take this one. With all the other accolades, I can put them up right now and focus on this week.”

A. Jones wins Good Guy award

In addition to awarding Rice the team MVP, the local media tabbed defensive lineman Arthur Jones as the annual Good Guy winner, which is given to the player considered to be most cooperative with reporters during the season.

Always willing to provide a sound byte or quote about an array of topics, Jones began receiving more media attention with an increased workload this season. The third-year defensive end has collected 4 1/2 sacks and 42 tackles this season.

“I appreciate you guys doing a good job, such a great job on showing the brighter side of me off the field and on the field,” Jones said. “I just appreciate all that you guys do for us. I know that sometimes guys can give you hard times – not do an interview. I just see myself as being a reflection of my parents and [to] treat everyone with respect.”

Jones was a fifth-round pick in the 2010 draft.

Harbaugh responds to Reed fine

Asked to react to the $55,000 fine levied on safety Ed Reed for a penalized hit on New York’s Victor Cruz in Week 16, coach John Harbaugh took a diplomatic approach that was careful not to alienate the league or his Pro Bowl defensive back.

Harbaugh had choice words for the NFL following a $20,000 fine for the Ravens’ failure to include Reed on the injury report earlier this season, but the Baltimore coach elected to take a kinder approach this time around.

“The system is not perfect although the motivation is correct and the idea is right,” Harbaugh said. “It’s still a work in progress. Like I said before, our guys are doing everything they can.  I’m really proud of our guys [with] the way that they’ve responded to try to play within the rules and respect player safety. Sometimes it’s easier said than done, but they are doing their best.”

Odds & ends

Ron Winter will be Sunday’s referee in Cincinnati. He and his crew worked the Ravens’ Week 10 game against Oakland earlier this season. … The game-day forecast in Cincinnati will be mostly sunny with temperatures in the high 20s, according to Weather.com. … In addition to Reed’s fine, offensive tackle Michael Oher was fined $10,000 for a chop block on Giants linebacker Mathias Kiwanuka. … The Ravens have won six consecutive regular-season finales and 10 of their last 12. … Despite firing offensive coordinator Cam Cameron prior to Week 15, the Ravens are 10 points shy of their single-season record of 391 points scored. The mark was set in 2003 and matched in 2009.

 

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Ravens-Giants: Five predictions for Sunday

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Ravens-Giants: Five predictions for Sunday

Posted on 22 December 2012 by Luke Jones

Two teams each going in the wrong direction in recent weeks will clash at M&T Bank Stadium on Sunday as the Ravens take on the New York Giants for the fourth time in their regular-season history.

Mired in a three-game losing streak and needing a win to clinch their second straight AFC North title, Baltimore takes on the 8-6 Giants, who are in need of two wins in their final two games to have the opportunity to defend their Super Bowl title in January. Having lost four of the last six games it’s played, New York has been even more inconsistent than the Ravens this season, looking like arguably the best team in the NFL in dominating wins over San Francisco and Green Bay and turning in terrible road performances at Cincinnati and Atlanta.

The Ravens hold a 2-1 all-time record over New York in the regular season and, of course, own a victory in the only postseason meeting between the teams, which occurred in Super Bowl XXXV on Jan. 28, 2001.

Here’s what to expect as the Ravens will look to finally lock up the division title and secure a home playoff game after failing to do so the last few weeks …

1. Ray Lewis will not play against the Giants, but the returning Dannell Ellerbe will pay dividends for the Baltimore run defense, which will hold New York to less than 110 rushing yards. Maligned all season despite allowing the ninth-lowest yards per carry average (4.1) in the NFL, the rush defense has struggled immensely in the last two weeks as Washington and Denver have run all over the Ravens. The Giants rank 15th in rush offense, but the shifty Ahmad Bradshaw has been hampered by knee and foot injuries. Ellerbe is expected to be a game-time decision, but he practiced all week on a limited basis and the Ravens didn’t promote inside linebacker Nigel Carr from the practice squad to take injured Jameel McClain’s place on the 53-man roster, an indication that they may feel confident in Ellerbe’s status against the Giants. The fourth-year linebacker ranks third on the team with 78 tackles despite beginning the season in a reserve role and missing the last three games with an ankle injury. His presence will help in slowing the Giants’ rushing attack.

2. Giants tight end Martellus Bennett will catch a touchdown and produce 75 receiving yards against the Baltimore pass defense. The Ravens’ struggles against tight ends have been overblown this season as Brent Celek, Jason Witten, and Heath Miller are the only three opponents to have more than 60 receiving yards in a game from that position. However, the middle of the field has been vulnerable and the Giants have been happy with their return for Bennett, who has 50 receptions for 584 yards and five touchdowns in his first season in New York. Ellerbe is regarded as the Ravens’ best linebacker in pass coverage, but he would be playing at less than 100 percent and has struggled to use the backpedal. Baltimore linebackers take too many false steps to account for the run and don’t get enough depth in coverage, which will lead to the talented Bennett getting open in the intermediate portion of the field as the Ravens secondary is focused on stopping Hakeem Nicks, Victor Cruz, and Domenik Hixon in the passing game.

3. Ray Rice will collect only his fourth 100-yard rushing game of the season. With Joe Flacco and the offense sputtering in recent weeks, new offensive coordinator Jim Caldwell must rely on his unit’s biggest strength and that’s Rice. Though on pace for his lowest rushing total since his rookie year, Rice’s 4.5 yards per carry average doesn’t reflect a poor season, but his 263 projected carries would be his lowest amount since 2009. Marshal Yanda’s expected return will allow the Ravens to run effectively to the right side as they normally like to do, and the Giants have allowed 4.6 yards per carry, which is 26th in the NFL. New York’s front seven is filled with plenty of big names, but the group hasn’t performed well this season and Rice will receive plenty of opportunities as the Ravens try to control the tempo of the game. The uncertain status of rookie Bernard Pierce will likely force the Ravens to rely more heavily on Rice than normal, which won’t necessarily be a bad thing as they need production from their best offensive player.

4. The Giants’ play action coupled with the the Ravens’ ineffective pass rush and undisciplined secondary will lead to a long touchdown to Victor Cruz. Paul Kruger and Arthur Jones have been the only consistent contributors to the pass rush in recent weeks, but the biceps injury to Terrell Suggs now makes you wonder if teams will begin turning more attention toward Kruger as they did early in the season when he rarely was able to make an impact. New York has allowed just 16 sacks all season, so it’s difficult to envision the Ravens putting much heat on Eli Manning. The Giants quarterback loves using play-action passing, and the Ravens secondary has been burned all season due to miscommunication and biting on double moves. Cruz leads the Giants with 79 catches, 1,019 receiving yards, and nine touchdowns. He’ll add a 10th to those totals on Sunday to bounce back from his poor performance in Atlanta last week.

5. I trust Manning more than Flacco and the Ravens offense, and it will be the difference in a 27-21 win for the Giants. Both teams have flaws on each side of the football, but it’s difficult to overlook Flacco’s six turnovers in the last three games. Manning has been inconsistent as well and has similar season totals to the Baltimore quarterback, but his pedigree and track record for playing well when his back is against the wall should give the Giants confidence in these final two games. Flacco was playing exceptionally well at home this season until the last two contests at M&T Bank Stadium when he posted absolute duds. The Giants will be a desperate football team after being thoroughly embarrassed in Atlanta last week, and I can’t bet against a two-time Super Bowl Most Valuable Player. It will be the difference in Sunday’s game as I just can’t put any faith in Flacco, Caldwell, and the Ravens offense at this point. The group lacks confidence and won’t do enough to overcome a banged-up defense and an opponent needing a win even more than they do.

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Report: Lewis not expected to return prior to playoffs

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Report: Lewis not expected to return prior to playoffs

Posted on 22 December 2012 by Luke Jones

Less than 10 weeks after undergoing surgery to repair the torn triceps in his right arm, Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis appeared poised to make his improbable return to the field against the New York Giants on Sunday.

Instead, his comeback will apparently be delayed for a couple more weeks.

Ian Rapoport of NFL Network reported early Saturday afternoon that Lewis is not expected to return until the playoffs despite growing optimism this week that the 37-year-old linebacker would play in the regular-season home finale.

Baltimore would have needed to activate Lewis from the injured reserve-designated to return list on Saturday afternoon for him to  play in his first game since Oct. 14 when he suffered the injury to his right upper arm against the Dallas Cowboys. Originally declared to be lost for the season by coach John Harbaugh, Lewis was placed on IR with this season’s new designation to return after a minimum of eight weeks.

At the time, many assumed the Ravens were simply granting Lewis a courtesy as most medical experts declared a minimum of four months for a recovery from such a serious procedure. However, the 13-time Pro Bowl selection returned to practice on Dec. 5, which was far ahead of even the most optimistic timetables suggesting Lewis could return for a postseason run.

With three weeks of practice now under his belt and fellow inside linebacker Jameel McClain sidelined for the rest of the season to open up a spot on the 53-man roster, Lewis hoped to come out of the tunnel to do his famous dance Sunday afternoon as the Ravens introduced the starting defense. The veteran’s spirits appeared to be higher this week and he spent more time in the locker room, two

“The guy’s still in great shape. The guy doesn’t look like he missed a day of practice,” said defensive lineman Arthur Jones, who added that Lewis has spent extra time with him to help him with his conditioning and the mental aspects of the game. “This is a guy who’s a great leader and is passionate and is an emotional leader. We love having him out there.”

With Lewis already practicing, the Ravens will face a decision this week with the 21-day window after his beginning practice date closing. They would have to place him on the 53-man roster or he’d remain on IR for the remainder of the year.

Ravaged by injuries at linebacker, the Ravens have relied on the combination of former practice squad members Josh Bynes and Albert McClellan as well as special-teams standout Brendon Ayanbadejo in recent weeks to hold down the inside linebacker positions in the absence of Lewis, McClain, and Dannell Ellerbe. The Baltimore run defense ranks 26th in the league, and opposing offenses have had success throwing over the middle of the field as linebackers have struggled in coverage.

Even as his eventual return will be celebrated by many longtime Ravens fans, the question remains how effective Lewis can be in the postseason as he continues to build strength in his right upper arm, which understandably experienced atrophy after the surgical procedure.

“Ray’s looked great. It’s his triceps, so he’s going to be able to move around and look like Ray Lewis,” said Ellerbe following Friday’s practice. “We haven’t had any full-speed practices, so you can’t tell how his arm is when tackling and getting off blocks. But shape-wise, he’s in shape. If he could go right now, I feel he would go.”

Though only playing in six games, Lewis ranks fifth on the team with 57 tackles. However, he struggled to shed blockers early in the season and has shown declining ability in pass coverage over the last few seasons, making his accelerated return an uncertain one in terms of what exactly the Ravens will be getting from the future Hall of Fame linebacker when he’s back on the field.

With the Ravens needing a win to clinch the AFC North and a home playoff game, there’s no guarantee that Lewis will play another game in Baltimore since his future with the organization remains in some doubt.

Plenty of rumors have circulated about whether Lewis will retire after the season and he carries a $7.2 million salary cap number in 2013, which is a hefty figure for what would be a 38-year-old linebacker. The team would be forgiven from paying his $5.4 million base salary in 2013 should they release him and would save approximately $4.35 million on their 2013 cap when subtracting the accelerated bonus money that would count as dead weight against the cap.

Regardless of what happens after this season, Lewis’ return — whenever it occurs — will be a welcome sight for a team suffering a three-game losing streak late in the season and needing a spark. The defensive help wouldn’t hurt, either.

“I’d love to have him,” defensive coordinator Dean Pees said. “I think it would be a great emotional lift, but more than that, we could use some bodies in there at linebacker.”

It appears the Ravens will need to wait a couple more weeks for that to become a possibility.

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