Tag Archive | "Baltimore"

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Orioles promote Alvarez, option Urrutia to Triple-A Norfolk

Posted on 28 August 2015 by Luke Jones

In the last days before September call-ups, the Orioles have promoted 26-year-old outfielder Dariel Alvarez from Triple-A Norfolk for a three-game series against the Texas Rangers in Arlington.

To make room for Alvarez on the 25-man roster, the Orioles optioned outfielder Henry Urrutia to the Tides on Friday. With Texas sending three left-handed starters to the hill over the weekend, it made sense to add an extra right-handed bat to the 25-man roster prior to Sept. 1 and to recall Urrutia after rosters expand.

Considered one of the few positional talents in the higher levels of the Baltimore system, Alvarez was hitting .275 with 16 home runs, 72 RBIs, and a .729 on-base plus slugging percentage in 541 plate appearances for the Tides this season. The Cuban outfielder has the strongest throwing arm in the organization and was starting in right field and batting eighth in the series opener against the Rangers.

Alvarez ranked third in the International League in total bases, fourth in hits, and fifth in RBIs. He was also selected to this year’s Triple-A All-Star Game and won the Triple-A home run derby.

Opinions have varied on Alvarez’s ceiling as many members of the organization are high on his potential while some outside analysts view him as no better than a fourth outfielder for the long haul. Plate discipline has been a point of concern with the right-handed hitter as he’s walked just 16 times this season.

The Orioles also reinstated catcher Steve Clevenger from the paternity list to take the place of right-handed reliever Jorge Rondon, who was optioned to Norfolk on Thursday.

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Ravens-Redskins preseason primer: Five players to watch

Posted on 28 August 2015 by Luke Jones

The Ravens see the regular-season light at the end of the tunnel as Saturday’s preseason game represents the final dress rehearsal for the 2015 regular season.

Starters are expected to play the entire first half as head coach John Harbaugh will get a final look at most of his starters. Baltimore has rarely played its full starting units in the preseason finale, and that trend isn’t expected to change next Thursday in Atlanta.

Of course, the Ravens want to make a better impression after taking a 40-17 beating at the hands of Philadelphia, but the third preseason game is more about looking ahead than dwelling on what happened against the Eagles — no matter how ugly it was.

“I think it is really important — nothing to do with the second game — but more so just so we can go into Week 1 and have as high a level of confidence as we possibly can,” said quarterback Joe Flacco, who threw two interceptions in last Saturday’s loss. “You don’t want any doubt to be able to creep into anybody’s mind. You want all of the coaches and all of the players to have 100-percent confidence that we’re going to go in there and light it up. I think for that reason, we want to go out there and play the best we can just so we feel that extra energy going into the first week.”

Of course, competition remains at various positions, and Saturday marks the final game before the organization will pare the roster from 90 players to a maximum of 75 by Tuesday afternoon.

Saturday marks the ninth time that Baltimore will play Washington in the preseason. The teams are playing each other for the fifth time in the Harbaugh era.

The Ravens are 6-2 against Washington in the all-time preseason series and are 3-2 against them in their regular-season history. They are set to meet again in the 2016 regular season, a game that will take place at M&T Bank Stadium.

Unofficial (and largely speculative) injury report

The Ravens are not required to release an injury report like they do for regular-season games, but I’ve offered my best guess on what the injury report would look like if one were to be released ahead of Saturday night’s game against Washington.

Most of the players ruled to be out will come as no surprise, but the status of a few will come into question. This list, of course, will not include any veterans who may be held out of the preseason opener due to the coaching staff’s preference.

Again, this is not an official injury report released by the Ravens:

OUT: WR Breshad Perriman (knee), CB Lardarius Webb (hamstring), G Kelechi Osemele (Achilles), LB Steven Means (groin), TE Dennis Pitta (hip), S Matt Elam (biceps), DE Brent Urban (biceps), TE Allen Reisner (ankle)
DOUBTFUL: OT Eugene Monroe (forearm), WR Michael Campanaro (soft tissue injury), OT Darryl Baldwin (undisclosed)
QUESTIONABLE: S Terrence Brooks (knee), OT James Hurst (concussion), TE Maxx Williams (undisclosed), OL Blaine Clausell (undisclosed)
PROBABLE: OT Rick Wagner (foot), OT Jah Reid (back), G John Urschel (concussion), DE Kapron Lewis-Moore (undisclosed), OL Ryan Jensen (undisclosed)

Five players to watch Saturday night

CB Asa Jackson

The Ravens are waiting for someone — anyone — to emerge as the return specialist while acknowledging there being few opportunities for authentic evaluation in the preseason, but Jackson appears to be the leader in the clubhouse and will return kickoffs and punts to begin Saturday’s game. The fourth-year cornerback hasn’t done much to stand out, but with Michael Campanaro again injured and rookie free agent DeAndre Carter muffing two kicks in two weeks, who else is there at this point? The Ravens want to avoid using Steve Smith and Lardarius Webb, their “aces in the hole” in the return game during the regular season, but you have to wonder if they’ll ultimately need to look elsewhere for a returner.

WR Kamar Aiken

With it appearing more and more likely that Breshad Perriman will bring a limited impact at the start of the season, the Ravens need Aiken to play like a starting receiver as he is set to lineup opposite veteran Steve Smith. The 26-year-old had an excellent spring and a strong start to the summer, but he’s been quiet in the preseason, catching only one pass for 13 yards in two games and not putting forth an impressive effort on the deep ball from Flacco that was intercepted in the first quarter of Saturday’s loss to the Eagles. Aiken shows the potential to be a solid short-to-intermediate receiver, so you’d like to see some success for him against Washington on Saturday.

CB Cassius Vaughn

Third-year cornerback Quinton Pointer garnered more attention early in the summer, but Vaughn has quietly put together two strong preseason performances. It’s fair to point out that the six-year veteran has matched up against second- and third-team offenses, but he has still been the Ravens’ highest-rated defensive player this summer, according to Pro Football Focus. At 5-foot-11 and 195 pounds, Vaughn doesn’t over overwhelming size, but he’s played well enough to garner consideration for one of the final spots on the roster. Strong performances in the final two preseason games would go a long way for his chances of landing on the right side of the bubble.

RB Terrence Magee

The MCL sprain suffered by Lorenzo Taliaferro has created a golden opportunity for Magee or Fitz Toussaint as the Ravens will likely want to carry a third healthy running back behind starter Justin Forsett and rookie Buck Allen to begin the year. An undrafted rookie from LSU, Magee was never the man in Baton Rouge, but he’s shown good vision and a burst when given opportunities this summer. The 5-foot-9, 215-pound back led the Ravens in rushing with 44 yards on 11 carries against Philadelphia, so it will be interesting to see how the workload is split between him and Toussaint. It would be wise for the Ravens to give a couple carries to each in the first half to see what they can do behind a better line.

LB Brennen Beyer

Harbaugh and Ozzie Newsome spoke throughout the offseason about the potential of outside linebacker Steven Means, but a groin injury has sidelined him for more than two weeks, opening the door for Beyer to put himself in the conversation with a strong finish to the preseason. A smart player who had a solid career at the University of Michigan, the 6-foot-4, 256-pound Beyer remains a better candidate for the practice squad with four outside linebackers — Terrell Suggs, Elvis Dumervil, Courtney Upshaw, and Za’Darius Smith — already locks for the roster, but he received a nice endorsement from former Ravens defensive coordinator and Michigan assistant Greg Mattison before he was signed in the spring.

 

 

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Five questions pondering Machado, Ravens tight ends, Pittsburgh’s woes

Posted on 28 August 2015 by Luke Jones

Every Friday, I’ll ponder five topics related to the Ravens or Orioles (or a mix of both).

Five questions …

1. Is it just me or is it almost impossible to believe Manny Machado is the active “iron man” in the majors? As the Orioles prepare to celebrate the 20th anniversary of Cal Ripken breaking Lou Gehrig’s consecutive games played record next week, how is it possible that someone who doesn’t yet have the 131 in “2131” owns the longest active streak with 127 consecutive games played entering Friday night? Credit Machado for being the only player in the majors to appear in each of his club’s games so far this season — especially after he underwent season-ending knee surgeries in the two previous years — but the 23-year-old would have to continue for nearly 15 1/2 seasons to catch Ripken’s 2,632 consecutive games. We’ll see you in 2031 when Machado is 39 years old? I suppose we should never say never when no one thought Gehrig’s record would ever be broken, but the juxtaposition of Machado and Ripken 20 years later shows how remarkable “The Streak” really was.

2. Is it just me or does the tight end position become even more important with the Ravens’ current injuries at wide receiver? The long-term absence of Breshad Perriman and recent Michael Campanaro injury have taken attention away from the tight end position, but the Ravens have to be nervous at the thought of needing to count on their tight ends more than expected. Baltimore still has the incomparable Steve Smith as well as Kamar Aiken and Marlon Brown at wideout, but none of them are field-stretchers, meaning the Ravens will need more precision in the short-to-intermediate passing game if Perriman isn’t ready to make an early impact. Young tight ends Crockett Gillmore, Maxx Williams, and Nick Boyle have much upside, but they have 10 career receptions and one year of professional experience among them. In Saturday’s dress rehearsal for the season, offensive coordinator Marc Trestman will want to see his tight ends have a good showing to quell concerns.

3. Is it just me or is it embarrassing to look back at the Orioles’ corner outfield “crunch” of a couple months ago? It wasn’t long ago that we were discussing the Orioles’ difficulty in trying to make room for Delmon Young, Steve Pearce, Nolan Reimold, David Lough, Travis Snider, and Chris Parmelee. Two months later, only Pearce remains on the 25-man roster as the Orioles released Young and Snider and outrighted Parmelee, Lough, and Reimold to Triple-A Norfolk. Allowing both Nelson Cruz and Nick Markakis to part via free agency was one thing, but the plan for trying to replace them was a colossal failure when there were better moves that could have been made that even wouldn’t have wreaked havoc on the payroll. Executive vice president of baseball operations Dan Duquette has done good things since arriving four years ago, but it’s difficult to recall a worse offseason for an individual that immediately followed an Executive of the Year campaign.

4. Is it just me or are the Pittsburgh Steelers in pretty rough shape early in the season? The Ravens have dealt with their share of injuries and face the daunting task of playing five of their first seven games on the road to begin the 2015 season. However, I’m still not sure it tops what Pittsburgh will face early on, especially with Thursday’s news that wide receiver Martavis Bryant will be suspended for the first four games. This comes after Pro Bowl running back Le’Veon Bell was already serving a two-game ban, Pro Bowl center Maurkice Pouncey suffered a long-term ankle injury, and reliable kicker Shaun Suisham was lost for the year in the Hall of Fame Game. Of course, none of this should make the Ravens or their fans feel sorry for their hated rival, but it’s a simple reminder of just how much every team goes through over the course of a season. Taking nothing away from the team ultimately holding the Vince Lombardi Trophy at season’s end, but the NFL really is a war of attrition and involves plenty of luck.

5. Is it just me or are there some significant positives to take away from an otherwise disappointing campaign for the Orioles? It’s easy — and fair — to deem 2015 a failure if the Orioles do not qualify for the postseason for the third time in four years, but that doesn’t mean there haven’t been some important developments for the future. The organization and fan base will collectively knock on wood, but Machado has remained healthy while also blossoming into an MVP-caliber player as he’s already set career highs in home runs, stolen bases, and walks and is on track to finish with personal bests in average, on-base percentage, slugging percentage, RBIs, and runs scored. Despite missing nearly three months, second baseman Jonathan Schoop had an .845 on-base plus slugging percentage entering the weekend and would be on pace for 30 homers and 90 RBIs over a full season. The Orioles face an uncertain offseason, but two All-Star-caliber infielders under age 24 are golden pieces to build around.

 

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Harbaugh offers no timetable on Perriman’s return

Posted on 27 August 2015 by Luke Jones

OWINGS MILLS, Md. — It’s been four weeks since rookie wide receiver Breshad Perriman injured his knee on the first day of training camp.

The Ravens and their fans are still wondering when the first-round pick will be back on the field with the season opener just over two weeks away.

“I’m asking, too. It’s just a slower healing than they expected,” head coach John Harbaugh said on Thursday. “I really don’t have a timetable right now. That’s really all I have to say on that.”

Perriman injured his knee making a diving catch on July 30, missing the final 20 minutes of the first full-squad practice. At the time, Harbaugh described the ailment as a bruise and estimated the 6-foot-2 receiver would return in a day or two before eventually labeling it a sprain a few days later. A magnetic resonance imaging exam came back “normal” on Aug. 17, but the recovery process has been slow as the organization has remained tight-lipped about his condition.

It’s appearing more and more likely that Perriman will miss the entire preseason as the questions now begin to turn toward his status for the start of the regular season in Denver on Sept. 13. It’s fair to assume that Perriman’s initial impact could be limited as he tries to play catch-up when he eventually does return to the practice field.

“He’s going to have to get back and get into shape, because it’s not like he’s just been hurt,” quarterback Joe Flacco said. “He’s been missing a ton of time out there running with pads on, getting into that football shape. It is up to him to get back out there and try to do that as quickly as possible.

“I think when you’re dealing with guys that are pretty talented, it doesn’t take a ton of time to get in sync with each other. But, obviously, you’d like to have as much time as possible.”

Drafted with the 26th overall pick in this spring’s draft to replace speedy wideout Torrey Smith, Perriman brings a rare combination of speed and size that the rest of the receiving corps lacks. The 6-foot-2, 218-pound target’s absence leaves the Baltimore offense without a clear threat in the vertical passing game as the 36-year-old Steve Smith and younger options Kamar Aiken and Marlon Brown all fit the profile of possession receivers.

Flacco said he felt good about the rapport he was building with Perriman during spring workouts, but he kept the injury in proper perspective, understanding the rookie’s speed won’t be fully utilized if he’s trying to play at less than 100 percent.

In his final season at Central Florida, Perriman caught 50 passes for 1,044 yards and nine touchdowns, averaging 20.9 yards per reception.

“You have to deal with injuries, and I think he’s doing a great job dealing with his and trying to get back out here,” Flacco said. “But it takes time. I wish we had him out [on the field]. I think he’s an awesome talent and he’s going to help us out a lot, but he’s not going to help us out if he can’t run. We’ve got to get him out here, and when he does get out here, I think we’ll be able to rely on him.”

 

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Will Hill makes good on second chance with Ravens

Posted on 27 August 2015 by Luke Jones

OWINGS MILLS, Md. — A recent conversation with his father reinforced to Will Hill why he didn’t want to be anywhere else after the Ravens had given the talented, but troubled safety a chance last summer.

“He was like, ‘Look, this is a great fit for you,'” said the 25-year-old, who signed a two-year deal with the Ravens on Thursday. “He said, ‘If you ever come across getting a deal, all that off-the-field stuff, it has got to go. I know you’ve been doing a great job with it, and let’s just keep it up.’

“That has been playing through my head every day.”

He’s come a long way in a little over a year.

After being handed the third suspension of his young career last spring, Hill was promptly released by the New York Giants and faced a six-game ban to begin the 2014 season for violating the league’s substance abuse policy. Despite facing their own scrutiny with the Ray Rice saga and four other player arrests hanging over their heads at the time, the Ravens signed Hill to a one-year contract last July with the expectation that he would need to stay out of trouble while serving his suspension to receive a chance.

Returning in Week 7 and immediately becoming a meaningful part of the defense, Hill started the final eight games of the regular season, collecting 42 tackles, four pass breakups, and an interception returned for a touchdown against New Orleans in Week 12. Pro Football Focus graded Hill as its 14th-best safety in the NFL in 2014.

The Ravens were encouraged with his play, but head coach John Harbaugh laid down the challenge to Hill at the end of the season to focus on what was important after he received two marijuana-related suspensions in his first three years and dealt with other off-field issues. After character concerns led to him going undrafted in 2011, Hill was suspended for Adderall use as a rookie with the Giants in 2012 and was arrested in 2013 for failing to pay child support.

“We put it on his plate a little bit. We’re challenging him for the next three or four months,” Harbaugh said in January. “‘Are you going to come back a better player than you were when you left here in January, and is that slate going to be clean?’ We fully expect it to be. He just had a baby. He’s doing great with his family, and we fully expect him to do a great job with that, and we’re going to try to help him anyway we can with that.”

Upon signing his restricted free-agent tender, Hill regularly attended spring workouts in Owings Mills and became more and more comfortable with defensive coordinator Dean Pees’ system. His family members came to training camp practices on a daily basis this summer while the University of Florida product worked exclusively with the starting defense after Matt Elam suffered a torn biceps during the first week of camp.

After five different safeties received extensive snaps a year ago, the Ravens hope Hill and veteran newcomer Kendrick Lewis will provide stability in the back end of the secondary. With some long-term security in hand, Hill says the focus is solely on winning a championship as he looks forward to making plays with Lewis, who has started 66 games in his first five NFL seasons with Kansas City and Houston.

“I think we’re a deadly combo, because we complement each other well,” Hill said. “I can play in the box and play deep, and he can do the same thing. You never know what you’re going to get.”

The 6-foot-1, 228-pound safety has done everything that the Ravens have asked of him to earn an extension as general manager Ozzie Newsome spent much of the offseason solidifying a maligned secondary by signing top cornerback Jimmy Smith to a long-term extension, inking Lewis to a three-year deal, and restructuring Lardarius Webb’s contract.

Hill made no secret about it being a dream to make money — terms of the deal were not immediately made available on Thursday — but he also can’t help but feel like he’s found a home with a support system that cares about him beyond what he can do on the football field.

Now, it’s up to him to prove that the Ravens made a wise investment.

“You go to most places, and it is just a business,” Hill said. “Even though it is just a business, it is more family-oriented around here, and I know I have a good rapport with all my coaches — the offensive coaches, too. I talk to Ozzie every day, and Mr. [Steve] Bisciotti — we have good conversations. They mingle with my family, so everybody is really family-oriented around here.”

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Monroe out for third preseason game with forearm bruise

Posted on 27 August 2015 by Luke Jones

OWINGS MILLS, Md. — The Ravens are likely to be without the starting left side of their offensive line for Saturday’s preseason game against the Washington Redskins.

Left guard Kelechi Osemele was already expected to miss the all-important third preseason contest as he’s been in and out of practices with an Achilles injury for the last three weeks, but head coach John Harbaugh confirmed left tackle Eugene Monroe would not play on Saturday. Monroe injured his right forearm in last Saturday’s preseason loss in Philadelphia and hasn’t practiced all week.

“Eugene’s got a pretty serious bruise there on his forearm,” Harbaugh said on Thursday. “He’s not cleared to practice this week with that. There’s no fracture or anything like that — as far as I know. I’ll put everything with a caveat there. But it should be no problem for the regular season.”

Despite Monroe being sidelined, the Ravens received good news on Thursday with the returns of reserve offensive linemen James Hurst (concussion) and Ryan Jensen to the practice field. In addition to Monroe and Osemele, rookie offensive linemen De’Ondre Wesley and Darryl Baldwin remained sidelined.

Wide receivers Breshad Perriman (knee) and Michael Campanaro (soft tissue injury), cornerback Lardarius Webb (hamstring), linebacker Steven Means (groin), and running back Lorenzo Taliaferro (knee) were also absent from Thursday’s practice.

Cornerbacks Rashaan Melvin and Tramain Jacobs returned to the practice field after missing workouts earlier this week.

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Suggs on being road villain: “You’re not supposed to like me”

Posted on 26 August 2015 by Luke Jones

OWINGS MILLS, Md. — With many still discussing his controversial hit on Philadelphia quarterback Sam Bradford, Ravens linebacker Terrell Suggs is taking the criticism from Eagles players and fans in stride.

In fact, it’s the kind of role the 32-year-old has embraced throughout his 13-year NFL career.

“I think you’re naturally the villain when you go into an opponent’s stadium anyway,” Suggs said. “You might as well not shy away from it. You might as well just bask in it and enjoy it. I’m not supposed to be the opponent’s favorite player. You’re not supposed to like me. I don’t play for you. I represent Ravens nation, so I just enjoy it.”

Though the NFL announced this week that Suggs should not have been penalized for the first-quarter hit on Bradford in Saturday’s preseason loss to the Eagles, many still took exception to him hitting the Eagles signal caller’s knees after he suffered left ACL injuries in each of the last two years.

Asked to respond to Seattle Seahawks defensive lineman Michael Bennett’s harsh words about the league’s protection of its quarterbacks, Suggs was diplomatic while taking a playful jab at his own general manager’s prominent role in making decisions regarding the rules.

“Those guys get a lot of our sponsors,” said Suggs of quarterbacks. “A lot of those guys are good-looking guys, so you don’t want to damage them too much. It’s still the most valuable position on the field, so you’ve got to protect them.

“But if we’ve got anybody to blame, it’s all on Ozzie Newsome. He’s on the competition committee, so he kind of helped put the rules in. Probably have to talk to Ozzie about that.”

Suggs says he’s had plenty of dialogue with Newsome about the subject, but he admitted not wanting to see his own quarterback, Joe Flacco, in harm’s way.

“He said the quarterback keeps a lot of people employed, so we’ve got to protect them,” said Suggs about Newsome’s thoughts. “I understand — I wouldn’t want my guy getting mistreated.”

Offensive line in flux

Six offensive linemen remained sidelined during Wednesday’s practice, including starting left tackle Eugene Monroe (arm) and starting left guard Kelechi Osemele (Achilles tendon).

The problem is further compounded with both James Hurst (concussion) and Ryan Jensen (undisclosed) missing the workout after both saw time at left tackle against Philadelphia. Should none of the aforementioned players be available to play in the third preseason game against Washington on Saturday, the Ravens could be forced to move backup right tackle Jah Reid to the blind side.

Would an unsettled line situation impact how much Flacco plays against the Redskins?

“If something happens in the game, it possibly could,” head coach John Harbaugh said. “But the way we’re going into the game, we’re comfortable with the guys that are going to play and start on the offensive line. [We think] that they’ll do a great job.”

Rookie offensive tackles De’Ondre Wesley (knee) and Darryl Baldwin were also missing from Wednesday’s practice while fellow rookie Blaine Clausell returned to the field.

Injury report

In addition to the six offensive linemen, the Ravens were without cornerbacks Lardarius Webb (hamstring), Rashaan Melvin, and Tramain Jacobs, wide receivers Breshad Perriman (knee) and Michael Campanaro (soft tissue issue), linebacker Steve Means (groin), and running back Lorenzo Taliaferro (knee) on Wednesday.

Melvin has now missed three straight practices, but the Ravens coach wouldn’t specify exactly what the ailment is.

“He’s got a soft-tissue issue that he’s working through — probably a typical training camp thing — so we’ll see,” Harbaugh said. “I don’t know if he’ll be there or not on Saturday. I’ve got my fingers crossed.”

The third-year cornerback missed two practices at the beginning of the month with a hamstring strain.

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Flacco apparently anything but an “elite” party host

Posted on 26 August 2015 by Luke Jones

The debate has raged on for several years whether Joe Flacco is an “elite” NFL quarterback.

But in his latest Pepsi commercial, the Ravens quarterback is anything but an elite party thrower while showing off some fairly impressive acting chops. As the 30-year-old quarterback would likely say, “This is pretty hilarious.”

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Webb’s continued absence “certainly a concern” for Ravens

Posted on 25 August 2015 by Luke Jones

Photo courtesy of the Baltimore Ravens

OWINGS MILLS, Md. — Ravens cornerback Lardarius Webb finds himself in a place all too familiar at this time of the year.

The sideline.

Dealing with a hamstring injury suffered more than two weeks ago, the 29-year-old has missed Baltimore’s first two preseason games and hasn’t participated in a preseason game since Aug. 22, 2013. And with Webb coming off a less-than-impressive 2014 campaign hindered in part by a back injury, defensive coordinator Dean Pees wants to see the veteran on the field this summer.

“It is not his fault. He’s trying to do what he can to rehab and get ready to go, but it is certainly a concern,” Pees said. “I’d be fooling you to tell you I didn’t think it was a concern. I want guys out there practicing so we can see where they are and know where they are. The conditioning thing — all those kind of things — yes, it’s a concern. I hope we still can get him out here in the next week or so, but at this point, I wish he was out there.”

This marks the third straight summer in which Webb has been limited for injury reasons. In 2013, he was returning from the second ACL injury of his career suffered the previous fall. Last year, Webb went down with a back injury on the first day of full-squad workouts and didn’t return until a few weeks into the regular season.

The summer had already started in humbling fashion for Webb when he failed the conditioning test upon reporting to Owings Mills. Acknowledging it wasn’t a good look after a disappointing 2014, he passed the test the following day, but his play was uneven over the first two weeks of practice before he pulled up lame covering rookie Darren Waller on a deep sideline route on Aug. 10.

Webb’s absence has created more opportunities for third-year cornerback Rashaan Melvin, who started and performed well in Saturday’s 40-17 loss to the Philadelphia Eagles. While many remember the 6-foot-2 defensive back’s poor showing against Tom Brady and the New England Patriots in the playoffs, Melvin played well in two regular-season starts and in the playoff win at Pittsburgh last January.

After a slow start this spring due to offseason shoulder surgery, Melvin continues to improve and is garnering more and more attention as a potential starter down the road, especially if Webb doesn’t bounce back from the difficulties of last season.

“This guy did a lot for us late in the year,” Pees said. “I really give him a lot of credit coming over from Tampa Bay and coming in and all of the sudden getting thrown into the mix and having to play — in the playoffs of all things. I thought he started slow a little bit in [organized team activities] — maybe a little bit because of the surgery and the injury — and I think he has gotten better and better and better.

“I know sometimes it is hard to find bright spots in a game that you lose, but I thought he and [rookie Tray] Walker both were bright spots for us at the corner position [on Saturday].”

Jackson in lead for return job

Special teams coordinator Jerry Rosburg still hasn’t come to a decision on the primary return specialist job, but reserve cornerback Asa Jackson remains the leader in the clubhouse.

The fourth-year defensive back has returned two punts for 17 yards and two kickoffs for 41 yards in two preseason games.

“We’ll see what happens this week, but it’s a work in progress,” Rosburg said. “We’re working a lot of different guys in practice, and we have to come to some decisions soon, because it’s going to happen quickly. This week, Asa is going to start off for us on punt return and he’s going to start off for us on kick return, and then we’re going to go from there.”

Trying to replace former Pro Bowl return specialist Jacoby Jones, Rosburg has been frustrated by the opposition’s reluctance to provide evaluation opportunities with kickoffs as many have instead sailed through the end zone and some opposing returners have downed kicks in the end zone over the first two preseason games.

“We let them play. We try to see who can cover kicks,” Rosburg said. “That’s what we do. But again, I can’t control what other coaches are doing. It makes no sense to me, either, why you’d down a ball two yards into the end zone. That makes no sense to me either. Take it out. Let’s go. That’s why we’re here.”

Rookie ready to fill in for Taliaferro

Though disappointed to see the opportunity come at the expensive of the injured Lorenzo Taliaferro, fourth-round rookie running back Buck Allen is confident that he’s ready to step up as the primary backup to Justin Forsett.

“It’s times like this where you prove yourself,” Allen said. “Can you step in and be that guy and provide for your team and have your team believe in you? It’s a great opportunity for me to go out here and show my teammates and coaches that I’ve been studying my game and in my playbook.”

Allen has carried 17 times for 54 yards and says his ability to pick up blitzes has been his biggest improvement since being drafted out of USC this spring. It’s an attribute he’s likely gained from Forsett, who is regarded as an excellent blocker in the backfield.

The 6-foot, 220-pound rookie back says there are plenty of lessons to learn from Forsett in the classroom as well as on the practice field.

“He’s been through it all from fourth-string guy to being No. 1,” Allen said. “If I follow his lead, I can go down the right path. Justin does a great job of motivating guys in the room and making sure we’re on track and doing the right thing.”

 

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Sizing up 2015 Ravens roster after second preseason game

Posted on 25 August 2015 by Luke Jones

With two preseasons in the rear-view mirror, I take a look at projecting the Ravens’ 53-man roster for the first time since the aftermath of the opener.

My current look at the roster suggests 45 players are locks if the deadline to trim the roster to 53 took place today. My rough assessment of the 90 players currently on the preseason roster lists 19 players on the bubble. Not all bubble players are on equal footing, with certain positions lacking depth and others enjoying an abundance of talent.

Though general manager Ozzie Newsome, coach John Harbaugh, and the remainder of the coaching staff and front office are aware of the number of players at each position, trying to boldly pinpoint a specific number of wide receivers or linebackers isn’t the most accurate way of projecting the roster. In filling out the back end of their roster, the Ravens will look carefully at players’ special-teams abilities in addition to what they bring to their position.

The Ravens must trim the roster from 90 players to 75 on Sept. 1 and will go down to the regular-season number of 53 on Sept. 5.

The numbers in parentheses indicate the total number of players currently on the roster at that given position. Bubble players’ names that are underlined are currently on my projected 53-man roster as of Aug. 25.

QUARTERBACKS (3)
LOCK: Joe Flacco, Matt Schaub
BUBBLE: None
LONG SHOT: Bryn Renner
Skinny: Renner continues to stake a nice claim for a spot on the practice squad and could be one to keep an eye on for the backup job behind Flacco in the future.

RUNNING BACKS & FULLBACKS (7)
LOCK: Justin Forsett, Kyle Juszczyk, Lorenzo Taliaferro, Buck Allen
BUBBLE: Fitz Toussaint, Terrence Magee
LONG SHOT: Kiero Small
Skinny: The knee injury suffered by Taliaferro opens the door for the Ravens to carry another running back, but the rookie free agent Magee has performed well enough to push Toussaint for that job.

WIDE RECEIVERS (12)
LOCK: Steve Smith, Breshad Perriman, Kamar Aiken, Marlon Brown, Michael Campanaro
BUBBLE: Darren Waller, Jeremy Butler
LONG SHOT: DeAndre Carter, Aldrick Robinson, Daniel Brown, Trent Steelman, Tom Nelson
Skinny: Waller is moving ever closer to lock territory and has improved immensely since the spring while Butler has had a quiet preseason and Carter isn’t reliable enough as a returner.

TIGHT ENDS (6)
LOCK: Crockett Gillmore, Maxx Williams, Nick Boyle
BUBBLE: None
LONG SHOT: Konrad Reuland
PHYSICALLY UNABLE TO PERFORM LIST: Dennis Pitta
INJURED RESERVE: Allen Reisner
Skinny: There’s no roster drama at this position with Pitta set to begin the year on the PUP list, but the Ravens have to hope their young tight ends are ready to contribute immediately.

OFFENSIVE LINEMEN (17)
LOCK: Marshal Yanda, Kelechi Osemele, Rick Wagner, Eugene Monroe, Jeremy Zuttah, John Urschel, James Hurst
BUBBLE: Robert Myers, Jah Reid, Ryan Jensen
LONG SHOT: Nick Easton, Leon Brown, Kaleb Johnson, Marcel Jones, Darryl Baldwin, Blaine Clausell, De’Ondre Wesley
Skinny: Injuries currently plague this unit and it remains to be seen how many linemen they’ll carry, but Easton, a rookie free agent, has played well in the preseason and is someone to keep an eye on.

DEFENSIVE LINEMEN (10)
LOCK: Brandon Williams, Timmy Jernigan, Chris Canty, Carl Davis, Lawrence Guy
BUBBLE: DeAngelo Tyson, Kapron Lewis-Moore, Christo Bilukidi
LONG SHOT: Micajah Reynolds
INJURED RESERVE: Brent Urban
Skinny: Despite seeing his playing time dwindle last season, Tyson is likely safe after the Urban injury and with Lewis-Moore struggling to establish himself this summer.

INSIDE LINEBACKERS (6)
LOCK: Daryl Smith, C.J. Mosley, Zachary Orr
BUBBLE: Albert McClellan, Arthur Brown
LONG SHOT: Andrew Bose
Skinny: It will be interesting to see how this position shakes out as the 2013 second-round pick Brown saw early action with the first-team defense when veteran Daryl Smith was lifted from the game.

OUTSIDE LINEBACKERS (7)
LOCK: Terrell Suggs, Elvis Dumervil, Courtney Upshaw, Za’Darius Smith
BUBBLE: Steven Means, Brennen Beyer
LONG SHOT: Zach Thompson
Skinny: Means’ groin injury is now helping his cause in trying to make the roster, creating more opportunities for Beyer to put himself in the conversation for a backup linebacker job.

CORNERBACKS (10)
LOCK: Lardarius Webb, Jimmy Smith, Kyle Arrington, Tray Walker, Rashaan Melvin
BUBBLE: Asa Jackson, Quinton Pointer, Cassius Vaughn
LONG SHOT: Tramain Jacobs, Chris Greenwood
Skinny: A solid performance against Philadelphia put Vaughn in the roster conversation while Pointer has come back to the pack since a strong start to the summer.

SAFETIES (7)
LOCK: Will Hill, Kendrick Lewis, Terrence Brooks, Anthony Levine
BUBBLE: Brynden Trawick, Nick Perry
LONG SHOT: None
INJURED RESERVE: Matt Elam
Skinny: The activation of Brooks provides a nice boost to an otherwise-thin position behind Hill and Lewis, but it will be interesting to see if Trawick or Perry can survive for special-teams purposes.

SPECIALISTS (5)
LOCK: Sam Koch, Morgan Cox, Justin Tucker
BUBBLE: None
LONG SHOT: Justin Manton, Patrick Scales
Skinny: There’s still nothing to see here.

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