Tag Archive | "Baltimore"


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Twelve Ravens thoughts entering Week 8 bye

Posted on 27 October 2016 by Luke Jones

With the Ravens having dropped four straight games going into a much-needed bye week, I’ve offered a dozen thoughts, each in 50 words or less:

1. It’s admirable that Ozzie Newsome stays out of the spotlight when the Ravens are thriving, but is it fair that John Harbaugh faces all of the heat from media when there are so many questions about this roster? As it stands, we won’t hear from the general manager until January.

2. The comparison made between Timmy Jernigan’s fumble with C.J. Mosley’s in the Washington game is off-base. Mosley was inches away from scoring, whereas a defensive lineman was trying to imitate Ed Reed on his own goal line. They were both costly mistakes, but Jernigan’s was worse.

3. There was excitement about the return of Kenneth Dixon, but he’s received just nine touches for 16 yards in his first three games. You hope the bye allows his knee to get stronger, because he hasn’t shown the explosiveness he had in the preseason and the Ravens need that spark.

4. Count me in as wanting to see both Terrell Suggs and Ben Roethlisberger return for the Ravens’ critical Week 9 meeting with Pittsburgh. There aren’t many players left from the prime of the bitter AFC North rivalry that isn’t what it used to be.

5. Few things have gone well offensively, but Mike Wallace has been everything the Ravens could have reasonably hoped for. His 490 receiving yards lead the team, and he’s served as a productive deep threat. He’s not a No. 1 receiver, but he’s been more dependable than any other Baltimore wideout.

6. Harbaugh said in June that Elvis Dumervil underwent a “preventative procedure” to the foot area in the offseason. The pass rusher has been vague about specifics, but it would be interesting to know exactly what he’s been dealing with and how much the coach may have undersold the surgery.

7. I’m glad to see Breshad Perriman healthy enough to play, but he’s done little to quell pre-draft concerns about his route-running ability and inconsistent hands. He’s essentially still a rookie just seven games into his career, but catching just 41 percent of his 34 targets isn’t nearly good enough.

8. They’ve both taken their lumps in recent games, but Tavon Young and Alex Lewis have done a commendable job living up to the hype surrounding the fourth-round haul in this year’s draft. Despite both being forced to play out of position, they look like legitimate NFL players.

9. It isn’t a good look for offensive line coach Juan Castillo that his group has been a substantial problem in three of his four seasons with Baltimore. The lone exception was 2014 when Gary Kubiak served as the offensive coordinator and implemented his effective zone-blocking scheme.

10. The Ravens were excited to move Lardarius Webb to safety, but he’s appeared slow to react and hasn’t taken good angles as a tackler. The decision to carry his $9.5 million cap figure — second highest on the team — looks no less questionable now than it did in February.

11. It was a moot point in Week 7 since the offense never reached the red zone, but I’d like to see Crockett Gillmore and Darren Waller more involved in that area of the field. The Ravens need to use more size and physicality inside the 20.

12. I’d be fascinated to know what Steve Bisciotti is thinking as the Ravens take the weekend off. Does he see more failure from the coaching staff or the effects of an undermanned roster as the primary reason for Baltimore’s struggles?

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Truth about Flacco lies somewhere in between in 2016

Posted on 27 October 2016 by Luke Jones

OWINGS MILLS, Md. — It’s complicated with Joe Flacco.

Quarterbacks regularly receive too much credit when teams win and too much blame after losses. Needless to say, the Ravens experienced too much of the latter in a winless October in which offensive coordinator Marc Trestman was fired and replaced by Marty Mornhinweg. An offense with high hopes entering the season currently ranks 24th in the NFL in yards per game and tied for 25th in points per game entering a much-needed bye week.

The numbers have been even uglier for Flacco, who currently ranks 30th among 32 qualified quarterbacks in yards per attempt, 29th with a 75.4 passer rating, and 21st among qualified quarterbacks in Pro Football Focus’ grading system. His career-worst 5.96 yards per attempt and career-high 44 passing attempts per contest reflect a passing game high in volume and short on results. The most concerning aspect of his performance has been how poorly he’s fared late in games, posting a 63.0 passer rating and throwing five interceptions in the second half of contests compared to a more respectable 86.0 rating with one pick in the first half of games.

Some have tried to place all blame on Flacco while barely acknowledging the many issues on the offensive line, a mostly-down running game, and the inconsistent play at receiver, but the ninth-year quarterback hasn’t been an answer for the struggling Ravens, either. That’s a major problem when you’re the team’s highest-paid player.

“I’m obviously not playing good enough,” Flacco said. “We’re not a good offense, and it starts with the quarterback. I’ve got to be better. We’ve got to be more precise, and that starts with me. Just [being] more consistent overall. They’re the issues — just being precise and consistency.”

You can’t expect everything to be perfect around Flacco, but too much has worked against him this season and he’s wilted too much under those conditions. He’s played behind five different starting offensive line combinations over the last five games — the last four being losses. It’s tough to trust your pass protection when you don’t even know who will be lining up in a given week.

The commitment and effectiveness of the running game have been called into question over and over. Those problems were major factors in Trestman’s dismissal, but the Ravens gained an embarrassing 11 yards on 11 carries in Sunday’s loss to the New York Jets. You just can’t be that one-dimensional and expect to beat anyone consistently, especially when playing on the road.

Even with the presence of vertical threats Mike Wallace and Breshad Perriman, it’s clear that Flacco still depends too heavily on the 37-year-old Steve Smith, who has missed the last two games with an ankle injury. Without him, the Ravens lack a dependable receiver to run precise routes in the short-to-intermediate portion of the field as others have struggled to get open or catch the ball consistently.

No, Flacco’s play hasn’t been good enough this season, but the coaching staff and his teammates haven’t provided many reasons for him to play well.

“I’m a Joe Flacco guy. I believe in Joe,” head coach John Harbaugh said. “Joe is one of the most important keys for us, if not the most important key. Certainly, on offense, he’s the key to the whole thing. Joe Flacco is a great football player. Joe Flacco is the key to our success. We need to all do everything in our power [to ensure] all of the things are falling in place for him. He can play. He can throw it. He can make decisions. He can score touchdowns for us. He can do all of the things we need to do. We need to make sure that we give him a chance to do that.

“Joe will take care of what he needs to do. I’m not worried about Joe taking care of what he needs to do. That’s something that we all go to work on. Joe works on it harder than anybody, cares about it more than anybody. We need to protect him. We need to run routes. We need to create confidence in our passing game. We need to run the ball well. We need to do the things we need to do to make the offense work, and Joe will make the offense work.”

The Ravens can only view the bye as a chance to reboot physically and start fresh as an offense. No matter how ugly the eyeball test has looked throughout the season, Harbaugh’s team remains in solid position in the AFC North with just a one-game deficit behind first-place Pittsburgh.

The time off will allow Flacco to rest a sore right shoulder and Smith to work his way back from an ankle sprain. In the meantime, Mornhinweg will have a chance to briefly catch his breath after taking over the coordinator job less than three weeks ago and can search for ways to jump-start a stagnant offense.

The biggest key for a turnaround will be the health of the offensive line, however, with rookie left tackle Ronnie Stanley and right guard Marshal Yanda both targeting a Week 9 return. Stanley was Baltimore’s earliest first-round pick in 16 years and had been progressing nicely until a foot injury sidelined him for the last four games. Of course, Yanda is a five-time Pro Bowl selection and missed the last two games with a shoulder injury, but the linchpin of the offensive line returned to practice this week.

Straightening out the offensive line would go a long way in trying to figure everything else out.

“Building a good team always starts up front, and it starts with those guys,” Flacco said. “We are going to try to overcome anything we can, but those guys are a huge part of our success. Having everybody be healthy goes into that. Obviously, everybody deals with little things here and there, and each team has their own issues with that. It will definitely be a big part of it.”

The biggest problem for Flacco at this point might be his confidence as the unrest along the offensive line has wreaked physical and mental havoc on his play in the pocket. This was on full display against the Jets as the veteran quarterback displayed sloppy footwork and reacted to pressure that wasn’t even there on multiple occasions.

According to Pro Football Focus, Flacco was pressured 11 times by the Jets, which is far from great but isn’t so outrageous when dropping back to pass 46 times in a game. When he wasn’t pressured in Week 7, he still managed only 6.6 yards per attempt and a 72.6 rating.

It’s a two-way street with a quarterback trusting his offensive line and the unit needing to give him enough reason to have that confidence. After a long offseason of rehabbing his left knee and a frustrating start to the season, perhaps a few days off is exactly what Flacco needs to clear his head.

“Right now, we just have one guy here and there doing something that is a little bit off — myself [included] – and it halts a whole drive,” Flacco said. “When that happens throughout the course of the game and you have a good amount of those, it leads to what we have been dealing with, which is not putting any points on the board and not giving ourselves really any opportunities to put any points on the board.”

With better health and plenty of fine-tuning, the Ravens hope to create more scoring opportunities in the second half of the season.

And they’ll need their franchise quarterback to be ready to take advantage of them if there’s any hope of righting a season moving in the wrong direction.

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Elam thankful to have another opportunity with Ravens

Posted on 25 October 2016 by Luke Jones

OWING MILLS, Md. — Matt Elam’s return to the practice field on Tuesday might have gone unnoticed by observers if not for a copy of the Ravens roster being handy.

Sporting a new jersey — No. 33 — and suiting up for his first full-team workout since undergoing knee surgery in August, the 2013 first-round pick knows there are no guarantees in the final season of his rookie contract. Drafted just three months after Super Bowl XLVII and several weeks after the departure of future Hall of Famer Ed Reed, Elam was supposed to take the torch as the next great Baltimore safety.

Instead, he’s come to symbolize frustration with recent drafts and the scarcity of young impact players on the Baltimore roster since that championship. Needing more depth at the safety position and with no other logical candidates, the Ravens have designated Elam to return from injured reserve, meaning he can now practice for up to 21 days and is eligible to play as soon as the Nov. 10 game against Cleveland.

“That means they believe in me a little bit and it means a lot for me, giving me a little confidence and things like that,” said Elam, who missed the entire 2015 season with a torn biceps. “It’s a great feeling. I’m happy to have the opportunity and I’m thankful for it. I’m just trying to take advantage of the opportunity I have.”

Expectations won’t be that high for a player who failed to prove himself as a starter over his first two seasons and was eventually demoted to a nickel role in 2014. In 32 career games (26 starts), the 25-year-old Elam has collected 127 tackles, one interception, a forced fumble, and seven pass breakups.

Often lost in coverage and guilty of missing too many tackles despite a reputation for being a hard hitter at the University of Florida, Elam earned praise for being in better shape and practicing well in the spring and summer. Of course, similar sentiments were shared by coaches in previous years, but Elam made a strong impression with new secondary coach Leslie Frazier, who had no previous investment in his development as a player.

“He was really having a good camp for us. He did a good job in OTAs and everything we had done in the offseason,” Frazier said. “As a coaching staff, we were really looking forward to watching him progress over the course of the preseason. Then, the injury occurred. Now, we will have to wait and see how he progresses over these next few weeks as we are trying to make a determination whether to get him back up again. But his ball skills, his toughness, his athletic ability — it was showing up.”

The Ravens can only hope it’s better late than never for one of the most disappointing first-round picks in franchise history.

Still confident in Hester

Veteran return specialist Devin Hester hasn’t made near the impact the Ravens envisioned when they signed the 33-year-old to a one-year contract in early September.

With Hester having already fumbled four times in six games — twice in Sunday’s loss to the New York Jets — and not looking explosive returning kicks, many have wondered how many more opportunities the Ravens will give the future Hall of Famer. For now, special teams coordinator Jerry Rosburg remains confident in the man with the most kick and punt return touchdowns in NFL history, citing a lingering thigh injury as the biggest challenge.

“It’s affecting him in two ways: one is just his ability to move and the other is his ability to practice,” said Rosburg, who added that Hester’s technique trying to catch the ball hasn’t been the issue. “It’s a tough skill, and he needs to practice. The practice he’s been getting is in pre-game warm-ups, and that’s not enough. I’m hopeful these next two weeks he’ll be able to get healthy and be able to be out there next time and do better in the ball-security areas.”

Hester also underwent offseason toe surgery, which prompted Atlanta to release him over the summer. Head coach John Harbaugh expressed confidence in Hester on Monday before acknowledging the possibility of his age preventing him from getting and staying healthy.

Under the radar

After a frustrating 2015 season coming back from Lisfranc surgery on his left foot, cornerback Jimmy Smith is coming on for an improved Ravens defense in a major way.

Smith held Odell Beckham Jr. to just one catch for six yards before exiting the Week 6 contest with a concussion, which allowed the Giants wide receiver to go nuts against the rest of the Baltimore secondary in the second half. Against the Jets, the 2011 first-round pick primarily traveled with No. 1 receiver Brandon Marshall, who caught only three passes for 39 yards in the game.

“Jimmy is an underrated guy in a lot of ways,” said Frazier, who first met Smith before the 2011 draft when he was the head coach of the Minnesota Vikings. “He can tackle. He can match up on top receivers. He is having an under-the-radar outstanding season, and hopefully he can stay healthy and it continues. He allows us to do a lot of things.

“One of the reasons we were leading the league through five games with the least amount of big plays had a lot to do with the play of Jimmy Smith. As soon as he goes out for a period of time, we [gave up] some explosive plays. Getting him back was a big plus, and hopefully, he will stay healthy.”

The 28-year-old Smith has 18 tackles and one pass breakup this season.

Missing the man in the middle

It’s no secret that the Ravens have struggled in pass coverage in the middle of the field over the last two weeks, which coincides with the absence of inside linebacker C.J. Mosley.

Mosley not only leads the team with three interceptions, but he has made a smooth transition to the “Mike” linebacker spot after veteran Daryl Smith was released in the offseason. Zach Orr and Albert McClellan have handled the inside linebacker spots with Mosley out.

“Anytime you have your leader in the middle of the defense and he’s missing — not a knock to any second-string quarterbacks in the league — it’s like having a second-string quarterback out there,” linebackers coach Don Martindale said. “It is different. Sure, you would like to have C.J. out there all of the time.”

Mosley did not practice on Tuesday as he continues to recover from a hamstring injury suffered in the Week 5 loss to Washington.

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Suggs, Yanda return to practice as Ravens hit bye week

Posted on 25 October 2016 by Luke Jones

OWINGS MILLS, Md. — With improving their health one of their biggest objectives during a much-needed bye week, the Ravens welcomed a pair of Pro Bowl players back to practice on Tuesday.

Outside linebacker Terrell Suggs (biceps) and right guard Marshal Yanda (shoulder) were present and working during the portion of the workout open to media. Suggs suffered a torn left biceps in the Week 6 loss to the New York Giants, an injury that kept him out of Sunday’s 24-16 loss to the New York Jets.

The 34-year-old intends to return for the Nov. 6 meeting with Pittsburgh as the Ravens try to snap a four-game losing streak to get their season back on track. The six-time Pro Bowl pass rusher played with a right biceps tear late in the 2012 season, giving him experience dealing with the injury.

“I come from an era where this is just a bump in the road,” said Suggs, who will wear an apparatus on his left arm similar to the one worn by Ray Lewis in the 2012 playoffs. “It may be season-ending for somebody else, but it is not season-ending for a Raven. I played through it before. It was always the plan. Last time I tore it, I missed the first game, came back, and struggled through the second game. Then, I slowly but surely got it back.”

Despite returning from his second Achilles tendon injury in a four-year period, Suggs leads the Ravens with five sacks and has provided the only semblance of a pass rush from the edge with Elvis Dumervil limited to just two games this season. Suggs is also an underrated defender against the run as the Ravens allowed a season-high 155 yards on the ground without him in Week 7.

Suggs acknowledges the pain tolerance involved in playing with the injury, but he doesn’t want to go to injured reserve unless he absolutely has to after missing 15 games last season. The 2011 AP Defensive Player of the Year remains optimistic about the Ravens reversing their current woes with veteran players returning from injuries after the bye.

The 3-4 Ravens trail the Steelers by just one game and are tied with Cincinnati in the AFC North.

“We are getting a lot of the pieces back, and that can change a season,” Suggs said. “We are definitely banking on getting our veteran guys back. It all starts with the guys that we have now. That is why we are all here working. We are going to continue to work. We have a tremendous amount of fight; we are warriors. There isn’t any quit in us.”

Yanda was taking part in his first practice since injuring his shoulder in the Week 5 loss to Washington. Specifics about the injury remain unclear, but Yanda hadn’t missed a game since the end of the 2012 regular season, leading one to wonder how serious the ailment is and how it could hinder him the rest of the year.

Left tackle Ronnie Stanley (foot) was once again practicing after missing his fourth straight game on Sunday. The rookie first-round pick has now worked on at least a limited basis in every practice open to media dating back to Oct. 13.

The entire offensive line group being on the practice field was an an encouraging sign for a Ravens offense that was held to an embarrassing 42 yards in the second half of the Jets loss. Baltimore has already used five different starting combinations along its offensive line this season.

Ten players remained absent from Tuesday’s practice, a list including Dumervil, wide receivers Steve Smith (ankle), Kamar Aiken, and Devin Hester (thigh), running back Terrance West (ankle), tight end Dennis Pitta, defensive backs Lardarius Webb (hamstring) and Shareece Wright (hamstring), and inside linebackers C.J. Mosley (hamstring) and Albert McClellan.

The Ravens also welcomed back safety Matt Elam and have appointed him as their one player designated to return from IR. The 2013 first-round pick underwent knee surgery in August and could carve out a depth role in the secondary with veteran Kendrick Lewis being placed on IR over the weekend and Webb leaving Sunday’s game with a hamstring injury.

Despite the disappointing start to Elam’s career, coaches expressed optimism about his performance in the spring and summer before he injured his knee in the second preseason game.

“He was really, really playing very well and moving very well [before the preseason injury],” defensive coordinator Dean Pees said. “The only thing we need to see is now take it to the field in live action. Based on everything he did on the [practice] field and getting himself ready physically and mentally, he did everything he was supposed to do. Now we just have to hope we’re back there again, and we’ll see when he takes it to the field.”

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Good health alone won’t save season for struggling Ravens

Posted on 24 October 2016 by Luke Jones

OWINGS MILLS, Md. — The Ravens can indeed get better.

Fans don’t want to hear it in the midst of a frustrating four-game losing streak, but winning is tough without your two best pass rushers, your top wide receiver, your best offensive lineman, your starting left tackle, and your starting inside linebacker. However, that reality lets no one — not Ozzie Newsome, not John Harbaugh, not Joe Flacco — off the hook in a season suddenly unraveling before Halloween.

Teams with sufficient talent and good coaching are able to overcome injuries against mediocre competition like the Ravens faced in the last three games. Expecting to beat elite teams with such an extensive infirmary report is unrealistic, but dropping three straight to Washington, the New York Giants, and the New York Jets is unacceptable. You have to win one or two of those if you fancy yourself to be a real playoff contender.

For a little bit of context, the Ravens went 4-2 without Ed Reed to begin the 2010 season. A year later, they won four straight games despite the incomparable Ray Lewis being sidelined with a toe injury. Yes, those future Hall of Fame talents were past their primes at that point, but the same can be said for Terrell Suggs, Elvis Dumervil, Steve Smith, and even Marshal Yanda, especially if less than 100 percent healthy.

In other words, their returns alone won’t magically transform a bad team — which is what the Ravens were in a winless October — into a great one. Keep in mind that their potential presence will also be accompanied by a tougher schedule in November and December.

“It’s always way better to be healthy,” Harbaugh said. “There’s no question about that — and have your best players on the field. But we always have confidence in the guys we’re putting out there that they’ll get the job done.”

It was apparent before the season that the Ravens needed young players to take major steps forward to lessen the dependency on older talent, and that hasn’t happened so far. Though it’s only a snapshot of the current state of affairs, the Ravens had just one post-Super Bowl XLVII first-round pick — struggling wide receiver Breshad Perriman — on the field for the last two games.

Of the nine Baltimore picks made in the first three rounds of the 2013, 2014, and 2015 drafts, only three — Mosley, Brandon Williams, and Timmy Jernigan — have established themselves as meaningful contributors. That catches up with a team sooner or later.

Underwhelming drafts and several bad contracts make it fair to question Newsome, the front office, and the scouting department, no matter how good their reputation had been over the years. The Ravens are in clear need of young play-makers to make the difference in the many close games they’ve played since the start of last season.

At the same time, it’s difficult to look at Harbaugh and his coaching staff and not question whether players are consistently being put in the best position to succeed. After Sunday’s loss to the Jets, the ninth-year head coach said his team is practicing “exceptionally well” and should have won each of the last four games.

Such a statement then makes outsiders ask why the crisp preparation isn’t carrying over to Sundays and whether the coaches are teaching the right methods to begin with. Of course, head-scratching in-game decisions and the constant penalties don’t reflect well on the coaching, either.

“You’ve got to make it happen on game day,” Harbaugh said on Sunday. “For our team, where we’re at right now, we’re not going to be a margin-for-error team. It’s not going to be like that. We need to be a sound, tough-minded, fundamentally-smart-playing football team.”

Harbaugh has admirably guided his teams through trying times before, but this represents his greatest challenge with his future quite possibly hanging in the balance.

Beyond just getting healthy, the Ravens need to do whatever it takes to get Flacco back on track. Many of the problems — the offensive line, the up-and-down running game, and inconsistent play at wide receiver — are largely out of his control, but that can’t forgive him for playing his worst football at critical times over the four-game losing streak. Of course, a sore right shoulder didn’t help matters against the Jets.

In the first half on Sunday, Flacco completed 15 of 22 passes for 200 yards to help the Ravens carry a 16-14 lead into halftime. Over the final 30 minutes, however, he was just 10-for-22 for a meager 42 yards and two interceptions leading to the deciding 10 points for the Jets.

One of Flacco’s best traits earlier in his career was an ability to do more with less around him — to a certain degree — but that just hasn’t been the case this season. Even with the other problems at work, the 31-year-old’s play hasn’t offered much of a solution in these winnable games.

A week off could go a long way in helping the Ravens get healthy, both physically and mentally after a brutal month.

But it’s not the end-all, be-all for a team with too many problems to count.

And barring other internal improvements, good health alone won’t save a season rapidly moving in the wrong direction.

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Ravens-Jets: Inactives and pre-game notes

Posted on 23 October 2016 by Luke Jones

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — The Ravens are looking to stop the bleeding before a much-needed break as they face the New York Jets on Sunday afternoon.

Playing at MetLife Stadium for the second straight week, Baltimore is dealing with a plethora of injuries, but starting quarterback Joe Flacco is active after practices this week with a right shoulder injury. Flacco was designated as questionable to play, but he appeared to be throwing the ball well in the portion of Friday’s workout open to reporters.

It was interesting to note, however, that Flacco did not do his typical throwing on the field before full-team warmups, an indication that he isn’t 100 percent and is trying to take care of his shoulder.

The rest of the injury report isn’t as encouraging as the Ravens officially deactivated linebacker Terrell Suggs (biceps), wide receiver Steve Smith (ankle), and right guard Marshal Yanda (shoulder) after all three former Pro Bowl selections were listed as doubtful on the final injury report. Linebackers Elvis Dumervil (foot) and C.J. Mosley (hamstring) were ruled out on Friday.

With Suggs and Dumervil out, Za’Darius Smith and rookie Kamalei Correa were lining up was the starting outside linebackers during pre-game warmups. Albert McClellan was once again working at inside linebacker with Mosley sidelined.

The biggest surprise was the deactivation of rookie left tackle Ronnie Stanley (foot) after he practiced fully all week. The first-round pick has now missed four straight games, continuing to leave the Ravens vulnerable on the left side of the offensive line.

Cornerback Jimmy Smith is active after going through the concussion protocol this week. He practiced on a limited basis wearing a red non-contact jersey, but the veteran defensive back was obviously cleared over the weekend to play against the Jets.

Veteran return specialist Devin Hester (thigh) is also active after returning to practice on Friday.

With all seven inactives being injured players this week, rookie defensive tackle Willie Henry is active for the first time this season. Running back Lorenzo Taliaferro and cornerback Robertson Daniel are also active after being moved to the 53-man roster on Saturday.

Meanwhile, New York will be without Pro Bowl defensive lineman Muhammad Wilkerson (ankle) after he was listed as questionable on the final injury report. His absence clearly leaves a big void on the defensive line for the struggling Jets.

Sunday’s referee will be Walt Anderson

According to Weather.com, the Sunday forecast calls for partly cloudy skies with temperatures reaching the low 60s and winds up to 23 miles per hour.

The Ravens will wear white jerseys with black pants while the Jets don green tops with green pants.

Sunday marks the 10th regular-season meeting between these teams with Baltimore holding an 8-1 advantage and having won the last eight games. The Jets haven’t beaten the Ravens since a 19-16 overtime final on Nov. 2, 1997.

Below are Sunday’s inactives:

CB Shareece Wright
LB Terrell Suggs
LB C.J. Mosley
LB Elvis Dumervil
G Marshal Yanda
OT Ronnie Stanley
WR Steve Smith

DL Muhammad Wilkerson
QB Christian Hackenberg
QB Bryce Petty
WR Jeremy Butler
LB Darron Lee
OT Brent Qvale
TE Austin Seferian-Jenkins

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Ravens-Jets: Five predictions for Sunday

Posted on 22 October 2016 by Luke Jones

The Ravens need a break, but they could use a victory even more.

With several key starters sidelined with injuries and having lost their last three games, the Ravens are naturally looking forward to some rest with next week’s bye, but beating the New York Jets feels like a must if a realistic second-half run to the playoffs is in the plans. Falling to 3-4 would require a 7-2 finish just to get to 10 wins, and a challenging schedule awaits in November and December.

Meanwhile, the Jets are already all but finished with a 1-5 record and have made a change at quarterback. Of course, it remains to be seen whether Joe Flacco will be anywhere close to 100 percent after missing practices this week with a right shoulder injury, making the quarterback play iffy at best for both sides.

It’s time to go on the record as the Ravens meet the Jets for the 10th time in their regular-season history. Baltimore has won eight straight matchups with the only New York victory coming in a 19-16 overtime final on Nov. 2, 1997.

Below are five predictions for Sunday:

1. The Ravens will set a season high for rushes and a season low for passes to protect their quarterback. Flacco looked sharp throwing passes in Friday’s walk-through and the offensive line may welcome back both starting offensive tackles, but Baltimore still needs to be smart with its franchise quarterback. The problem is that the Jets rank sixth in run defense and are allowing just 3.4 yards per carry, the same as the Ravens’ No. 1 run defense. Offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg will stick with the run to the tune of well over 30 carries while Flacco throws fewer than 33 passes, his season low.

2. Jets receiver Brandon Marshall will catch a touchdown against a banged-up Baltimore secondary. The New York passing game is hardly scary, but top cornerback Jimmy Smith was recovering from a concussion all week and will likely draw the difficult task of slowing the 6-foot-4 Marshall, who has 443 passing yards this season. Smith won’t get much help from a Ravens pass rush that has been ineffective all season and will be without both Terrell Suggs and Elvis Dumervil. The Jets have a poor offense, but injuries have made an improved Ravens defense more vulnerable.

3. The Ravens defense will pick off Geno Smith twice in his first start since 2014. The lowest scoring offense in the league is desperate to turn to Smith, who has thrown 36 interceptions in 32 career games in the NFL. After setting a franchise low with only six interceptions in 2015, Baltimore has picked off eight passes in the first six games of the season, which has certainly helped playing in close games. Look for defensive coordinator Dean Pees to dial up some blitzes and disguise coverages to confuse a quarterback who’s only playing because veteran Ryan Fitzpatrick has been downright awful.

4. Breshad Perriman will finally score his first NFL touchdown on Sunday. It’s been an underwhelming start to what is essentially the 2015 first-round receiver’s rookie season as Perriman has caught just 13 of the 29 passes thrown his way and has struggled to catch balls consistently. However, we’ve seen him flash his ability to make plays in the vertical passing game and it only feels like a matter of time before he finds the end zone. With the league’s 28th-ranked pass defense having to deal with Mike Wallace on the opposite side of the field, Perriman will catch a deep one for a score.

5. John Harbaugh’s team will limp into the bye feeling better about itself with a 23-16 win. Nothing is certain except death, taxes, and the Ravens playing in one-possession games. Perhaps Baltimore would win by multiple scores if the injury report weren’t such a mess, but you just can’t trust the Ravens to be anything but mediocre right now. That said, the Jets have been a disaster in Todd Bowles’ second season and not even playing at home makes you believe they’re a good bet to win. There will be penalties and self-inflicted mistakes because that’s what they do, but the Ravens will find a way to come home with a much-needed win before embracing a week off.

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Ravens activate Taliaferro, promote cornerback from practice squad

Posted on 22 October 2016 by Luke Jones

The banged-up Ravens made multiple moves to their roster a day before their Week 7 meeting with the New York Jets.

Third-year running back Lorenzo Taliaferro has been activated from the physically unable to perform list after returning to practice this week. The 2014 fourth-round pick has appeared in just three regular-season games over the last two seasons, but he is expected to immediately fill a meaningful special-teams role.

In 16 career games, Taliaferro has rushed for 339 yards and five touchdowns on 81 carries. His career has largely been derailed by a chronic foot injury that required season-ending surgery last season.

Baltimore also promoted cornerback Robertson Daniel from the practice squad to the 53-man roster. The secondary lost cornerbacks Jimmy Smith (concussion), Jerraud Powers (groin), and Shareece Wright (hamstring) to injuries last week, and all three remained on this week’s injury report with Wright doubtful to play and the other two questionable for Sunday’s game.

The Ravens signed Daniel to their practice squad less than two weeks ago. The 6-foot-1 Brigham Young product was an undrafted free agent originally signed by Oakland in 2015 and also spent time with Green Bay and Washington.

To make room for Taliaferro and Daniel on the 53-man roster, the Ravens waived tight end Daniel Brown and placed safety Kendrick Lewis on injured reserve. Lewis suffered a setback with a lingering thigh injury during Thursday’s practice and had been listed as doubtful on the final injury report.

The Ravens did not promote practice-squad quarterback David Fales to their 53-man roster on Saturday, a clear sign that starter Joe Flacco will be active for Sunday’s game. The 31-year-old missed practices this week with a right shoulder injury, but he was a full participant in Friday’s workout.

On Saturday, the Jets made roster moves of their own, promoting linebackers Victor Ochi and Julian Stanford. A rookie free agent from Stony Brook, Ochi spent the 2016 preseason with the Ravens and collected two sacks before being waived in early September.

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Flacco questionable, seven other Ravens doubtful or out for Sunday’s game

Posted on 21 October 2016 by Luke Jones

OWINGS MILLS, Md. — The Ravens listed Joe Flacco as questionable to play against the New York Jets after he returned to the practice field on Friday.

Losers of three straight games, Baltimore can hardly afford to be without its franchise quarterback, who has dealt with a right shoulder injury this week. Taking part in a walk-through practice that did not involve helmets or shells, Flacco threw to Dennis Pitta from 10 to 15 yards away with plenty of zip on the football during the portion of practice open to media and did not show any discomfort.

“He looked good. He was throwing the ball well,” said Pitta, who teased his close friend about his absence from practices this week but added that he’d be surprised if Flacco doesn’t play. “He didn’t seem in any kind of pain. We’re excited to have him back out there, for sure.”

Flacco missed practices on Wednesday and Thursday after undergoing a magnetic resonance imaging exam earlier in the week. The 31-year-old signal-caller received treatment after participating fully in Friday’s workout and was not available to reporters.

Cornerback Jimmy Smith was also designated as questionable to play and was a limited participant for the third straight day. As of Friday afternoon, he hadn’t been fully cleared from the concussion protocol.

Veteran return specialist Devin Hester (thigh) is questionable after returning to practice on Friday and missing the Week 6 loss to the New York Giants, but the Ravens continue to be without wide receiver Steve Smith (ankle), linebackers Terrell Suggs (biceps), Elvis Dumervil (foot), and C.J. Mosley (hamstring), and right guard Marshal Yanda (shoulder). Dumervil and Mosley were officially ruled out on Friday while Smith, Suggs, and Yanda were all designated as doubtful.

The banged-up Ravens will certainly welcome their Week 8 bye after Sunday’s game.

“We have a lot of injured guys and guys who will need that time off,” Pitta said. “I think we’ll all welcome that time off to heal up and get ready to finish the season. It puts even more pressure on this game because everybody wants to go into that bye with a win. We certainly don’t want to lose four straight going into that bye and have to sit all week and think about it.”

Defensive backs Shareece Wright (thigh) and Kendrick Lewis (thigh) are also doubtful to play in Week 7. Wright hasn’t practiced since leaving Sunday’s loss to the New York Giants while Lewis was added to Thursday’s injury report as a limited participant, which often indicates an injury occurred during practice.

Rookie left tackle Ronnie Stanley (foot) was listed as questionable after being a full participant in practice for the third straight day, but head coach John Harbaugh offered little insight on his status for Week 7. The first-round pick has missed three straight games and was a limited participant in two practices last week before sitting out the loss to the Giants.

“I like what we saw,” Harbaugh said. “We’ll just see how he feels tomorrow after the work and see how he feels on Sunday.”

With seven players listed as doubtful or out, the Ravens could be in line to make a roster move or two ahead of Sunday’s game. Running back Lorenzo Taliaferro would be a potential option as he began practicing this week and is a good special-teams player.

Meanwhile, the Jets officially ruled out linebacker Darron Lee (ankle) and tight end Austin Seferian-Jenkins (ankle) and listed defensive lineman Muhammad Wilkerson (ankle) as questionable after he failed to participate in Friday’s practice. Reports from New York indicated concern for the 2015 Pro Bowl selection’s Sunday status.

The referee for Sunday’s game will be Walt Anderson.

According to Weather.com, Sunday’s forecast calls for sunny skies with temperatures reaching the mid-60s and winds up to 17 miles per hour.

Below is the final injury report of the week:

OUT: LB Elvis Dumervil (foot), LB C.J. Mosley (thigh)
DOUBTFUL: S Kendrick Lewis (thigh), WR Steve Smith Sr. (ankle), LB Terrell Suggs (biceps), CB Shareece Wright (thigh), G Marshal Yanda (shoulder)
QUESTIONABLE: WR Kamar Aiken (thigh), QB Joe Flacco (right shoulder), RS Devin Hester (thigh), CB Jerraud Powers (thigh), CB Jimmy Smith (concussion), OT Ronnie Stanley (foot)

OUT: TE Braeden Bowman (knee), LB Darron Lee (ankle), OL Brent Qvale (neck), TE Austin Seferian-Jenkins (ankle)
QUESTIONABLE: OL Ryan Clady (shoulder), OL Nick Mangold (knee), DL Muhammad Wilkerson (ankle)

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Injury report not looking much better for Ravens on Thursday

Posted on 20 October 2016 by Luke Jones

OWINGS MILLS, Md. — Thursday brought little good news for the Ravens on the injury front as starting quarterback Joe Flacco again headlined a list of eight players absent from practice.

Flacco missed his second straight practice while nursing a right shoulder injury, creating more concern about his status for Sunday’s meeting with the New York Jets. Not counting the season-ending knee injury he sustained last November, the ninth-year quarterback hadn’t missed consecutive regular-season practices in recent memory.

Outside linebackers Terrell Suggs (biceps) and Elvis Dumervil (foot), inside linebacker C.J. Mosley (hamstring), right guard Marshal Yanda (shoulder), wide receivers Steve Smith (ankle) and Devin Hester (thigh), and cornerback Shareece Wright (thigh) were also absent for the second consecutive day.

Reserve cornerback Jerraud Powers (groin) was the only player to return on Wednesday after missing the previous day’s workout. However, wide receiver Kamar Aiken (thigh) and safety Kendrick Lewis (thigh) were added to the reporter as limited participants on Thursday.

Top cornerback Jimmy Smith (concussion) was practicing for the second straight day, but he was once again sport a red non-contact vest over his jersey, indicating he has not yet been fully cleared in the concussion protocol. Wide receiver Breshad Perriman is not on the injury report, but he continues to wear a red vest as well.

Left tackle Ronnie Stanley (foot) and right tackle Rick Wagner were practicing for the second straight day as they both appear poised to return to action in Week 7.

The Jets were without five players during their Thursday practice as head coach Todd Bowles ruled out linebacker Darron Lee (ankle) for Sunday’s game.

Below is Thursday’s full injury report:

DID NOT PARTICIPATE: LB Elvis Dumervil (foot), QB Joe Flacco (right shoulder), RS Devin Hester (thigh), LB C.J. Mosley (thigh), WR Steve Smith Sr. (ankle), LB Terrell Suggs (biceps), CB Shareece Wright (thigh), G Marshal Yanda (shoulder)
LIMITED PARTICIPATION: WR Kamar Aiken (thigh), S Kendrick Lewis (thigh), CB Jerraud Powers (thigh), CB Jimmy Smith (concussion)
FULL PARTICIPATION: OT Ronnie Stanley (foot)

DID NOT PARTICIPATE: TE Braeden Bowman (knee), LB Darron Lee (ankle), OL Brent Qvale (neck), DL Sheldon Richardson (non-injury), TE Austin Seferian-Jenkins (ankle)
LIMITED PARTICIPATION: OL Ryan Clady (shoulder), OL Nick Mangold (knee), DL Muhammad Wilkerson (ankle)
FULL PARTICIPATION: LB Bruce Carter (foot), RB Matt Forte (knee), LB David Harris (hamstring), DT Steve McLendon (back), DB Darryl Roberts (shoulder), CB Buster Skrine (non-injury), OL Brian Winters (knee)

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