Tag Archive | "Baltimore"


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Tom Gatto talks Baltimore Orioles with season winding down

Posted on 28 September 2015 by WNST Staff










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Brian Billick

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Brian Billick’s thoughts on Ravens tough 0-3 start

Posted on 28 September 2015 by WNST Staff

Brian Billick









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What brought the 2015 Ravens to this point?

Posted on 28 September 2015 by Luke Jones

An 0-3 record has brought many questions for the Baltimore Ravens.

Who’s to blame? Is it a lack of talent, poor execution, or the coaching?

A week after head coach John Harbaugh and defensive coordinator Dean Pees questioned the effort and energy of their defense, the Ravens were gashed to the tune of 28 points and 458 total yards by Cincinnati to fall to 0-3 for the first time in franchise history. Meanwhile, an offense too reliant on Steve Smith in the passing game has lost its way on the ground, ranking 28th in the NFL at just 3.3 yards per carry.

While fans and media try to hand out blame to coaches and players or point to a tough schedule for the poor start, below are seven realities that have contributed to the predicament of the Ravens being the only winless team in the AFC. Some were the result of bad decisions while others were out of their control.

These factors are in no particular order and some clearly hold more weight than others.

Dead cap money

Dead cap space is a reality for every NFL team from year to year, but the Ravens are carrying an incredible $17 million in dead money for two former Pro Bowl players no longer on the roster: Ray Rice and Haloti Ngata. With the cap set at $143.28 million for the 2015 season, general manager Ozzie Newsome was without nearly 12 percent of his cap because of those two alone. When you combine that with the rest of their dead money, the Ravens were unable to utilize more than $21 million (just under 15 percent) of the salary cap for 2015. Baltimore rarely spends big in free agency, but they might have been able to make an impact signing or two with those resources tied to star players who aren’t even on the roster anymore.

Recent draft history

To be clear, not even the great Newsome can be expected to bat 1.000 in the draft, but C.J. Mosley was the first Pro Bowl player the Ravens had drafted since Rice in 2008. The 2013 draft is particularly glaring with the top two draft picks — Matt Elam and Arthur Brown — being non-factors, but the later selections of Brandon Williams and Rick Wagner prevented that class from being a total disaster. Of course, the Ravens’ recent draft issues are only relative to their high standards, but they have selected just one player in the first or second round since 2009 — Jimmy Smith — whom they’ve signed to a second long-term contract at this point. They’ve still found talent, but Newsome must find new game-changers to be pillars of the roster moving forward. And when you miss badly on high picks like Elam and Brown, those positions have to be accounted for with additional resources that could have gone to other areas of need.

Departure of assistant coaches 

Not only did the Ravens begin 2015 with their fourth offensive coordinator in four years, but the absence of Gary Kubiak has been even more pronounced with the running game looking very 2013-esque so far. Of course, it remains to be seen whether Marc Trestman is a fit in Baltimore, but it’s difficult to continue enduring annual coaching changes without a few hiccups at some point. Another oft-overlooked coaching departure from two years ago was secondary coach and current Detroit defensive coordinator Teryl Austin. Highly respected by the likes of Ed Reed, Lardarius Webb, and Jimmy Smith, Austin was succeeded by Steve Spagnuolo for a year and the combination of Chris Hewitt and Matt Weiss are now coaching the secondary. It’s not an excuse for the poor performance, but that’s a lot of coaching turnover in what’s been the biggest weakness on the field for the Ravens dating back to last season.

Veteran exits

It’s been a testament to the Ravens to seemingly be able to replace departing veterans with cheaper, younger replacements every year, but the exit of Ngata, starting wide receiver Torrey Smith, rush specialist Pernell McPhee, and starting tight end Owen Daniels was a large group to replace in one offseason, especially when you factor in the dead cap space working against Newsome. At some point, you can only lose so many established players and not have the well run dry — at least temporarily — as young players are still maturing.

Excessive reliance on rookies and inexperienced players

This goes hand in hand with the veteran departures, but the Ravens are relying on more young players at key spots than they have in quite some time. Ideally, even your first-rounders can be worked in slowly like the Ravens did with the likes of Terrell Suggs (one start in 2003) and Todd Heap (six starts in 2001). The 2015 draft class looked great on paper in addressing so many positional needs, but that never meant those rookies would be ready to contribute immediately. So far, third-round defensive tackle Carl Davis is the only pick to make a significant contribution, but the Ravens will hope to see others come on sooner rather than later to prove they can be part of the future. The presence of so many inexperienced wideouts beyond Steve Smith has hindered the offense so far in 2015.

Injuries to Terrell Suggs and Breshad Perriman

All teams endure injuries, but these two have been difficult to overcome in the early stages of 2015 with Suggs being the emotional leader of the defense and an important part of the pass rush and Perriman representing offensive upside. When you consider the exits of Ray Lewis, Reed, and Ngata over the last few years, Suggs’ season-ending injury brought the end of the old guard of Baltimore defense. Meanwhile, it was no secret that Perriman would be the replacement for Torrey Smith as the vertical threat in the passing game. The Ravens hope their 2015 first-round pick will still contribute in his rookie season at some point, but the passing game has been too dependent on Steve Smith with only a collection of late-round picks and former rookie free agents behind him in the receiver pecking order.

Big contracts not paying off

No, Joe Flacco’s record-setting deal is not part of this discussion, regardless of arguments that some fans and media have tried to make over the last couple years. But the Ravens haven’t had an impressive run with other long-term deals over the last few years for various reasons, some out of their control. Starting in 2012, Newsome has rewarded the likes of Rice, cornerback Lardarius Webb, tight end Dennis Pitta, and left tackle Eugene Monroe with big contracts that have produced disappointing results. Other deals such as the ones given to Pro Bowl outside linebacker Elvis Dumervil and four-time Pro Bowl right guard Marshal Yanda have worked out, but the overall return hasn’t been what the organization anticipated with most of these big-money contracts. It’s too early to judge Jimmy Smith’s contract despite a rough 2015 start, but he’s certainly the next one under the microscope.

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So this is what 0 – 3 feels like

Posted on 28 September 2015 by Dennis Koulatsos





The Baltimore Ravens suffered another tough loss yesterday, this one at their 20th home opener and at the hands of the division leading Cincinnati Bengals.  They have now lost by 6, 4, and 6 points.  Lots of blame to go around, whether it’s coaching, penalties, miscommunication, dropped passes and interceptions, etc.  The optimists will say that this team could easily have been 3 – 0, but that’s not what the standings say this morning.  To paraphrase Bill Parcells, the Ravens are what their record says they are.

As my son and I left the stadium, as fans we felt the weight of a winless season thus far.  Of course we all know by now that in their 20 year history, this organization has never started a season 0 – 3.  It certainly is not a good feeling, but it is in times like these organizations find out what they really have when faced with adversity.  Just as a high tide raises all ships, a low tide lowers them.  A low tide exposes the most seaworthy vessels – and the best captains.

Coach John Harbaugh has experienced a ton of success during his tenure here in Baltimore, capped off with a Super Bowl victory in 2012.  Unless something dramatic happens, my best guess is that he is staring down a 6 – 10 season.  His mettle is being tested and will continue to be as the losses pile up.

In the general media there’s been much talk about the injuries, play calling, discipline, penalties, etc. What’s been missed is that not only have the Ravens lost some great players in the last couple of years, but also some great coordinators and assistant coaches.  The two that immediately stand out are Gary Kubiak and Teryl Austin.

Kubiak’s effect on the running game and QB Joe Flacco were apparent throughout last year’s campaign.  His run first philosophy and effective game planning/calling contributed much to the Ravens’ success.  Plus by all accounts he had a terrific relationship with Joe Flacco.  Through the first 3 games, things have been dramatically different with Marc Trestman at the helm as offensive coordinator.

Austin – who is now currently the defensive coordinator with the Detroit Lions – was an outstanding defensive backs coach during his tenure here in Baltimore.  In fact, he did some of his best work in 2013 by holding together a patchwork secondary, on an injury depleted team that went 8-8 and came within one quarter and 4 Andy Dalton interceptions of going to the playoffs.  Austin has excellent communication skills, and is a very technically sound coach.

Head coaches always get too much credit when teams win and way too much blame when they lose. Make no mistake about it – they’re only as good as their coordinators and assistant coaches.  In the NFL, every team has a salary cap to deal with, unlike baseball where you can virtually buy a championship.  That’s where coaching in the NFL – more often than not – is the difference maker.

This will be a great learning experience for John Harbaugh.  I’m of the opinion that he is a good – not a great – coach.  However, he does have a chance to be great.  This will be a season where he can assess himself, his coordinators and his assistants.  He’s on his way to hearing the Ravens’ name called early in the 2016 NFL draft, and that’s a good thing in terms of the overall well being of the franchise, as they need to restock the cupboard with better talent.

The Ravens need some high draft picks and based on their start are on their way to getting some.  Prior to yesterday’s game I marveled at the talent that was on the Bengals’ roster.  That talent didn’t get there because the Bengals have been great over space and time.  They’ve been a mediocre team on a more often than not mediocre organization.  In fact, I can argue that – based on talent alone – the Bengals should have absolutely blown out the Ravens in yesterday’s game.  Marvin Lewis and staff did all they could to keep the Ravens in the game.

The Bengals have been able to accumulate a number of high draft picks through the years, and from top to bottom have a Super Bowl caliber roster.  Andy Dalton is not a prime time QB, and that is the primary reason that he – along with coach Marvin Lewis – is still looking for his first playoff win.  The Bengals should have been up 21-0 on the Ravens at the half yesterday, and should have never let them come within barking distance of beating them.

There’s no doubt in my mind that GM Ozzie Newsome will keep his usually keen eye on the roster this year, and make the necessary adjustments to improve the team in the off-season.  Until then, we’ll see how this team deals with adversity.  Can they overcome it? Will they get better as the season progresses? Will they fight ’til the end, or will they at some point “tap out.”

I don’t see the later happening, as I do expect coach Harbaugh to get this team – given it’s limitations – to overachieve.  They haven’t been blown out.  They’ve fought hard for 3 games.  Their games – although they haven’t had the outcome we’re all looking for – have been entertaining.

Bottom line is that we are not going to the playoffs every year.  For various reasons, there has to be an adjustment – historically speaking – in an organization’s timeline.  I’m an optimist by nature but I am also a realist.  I’d love to see this team fight, scrap and get into the playoffs, but history tells us that they have a less than a 3% chance of doing so.  The odds aren’t favorable.

But the odds are very much favorable that this is a temporary blimp in this great organization’s history, and it will not take them long – no longer than this season – to figure it out and bounce right back.  In Steve Bisciotti, Ozzie Newsome, and John Harbaugh ……. I trust.

I will end with my personal message to the Ravens.  A very wise man once told me that in life, there are are going to be peaks and valleys.  No one is immune to them; we all go through them, and so do organizations.  The key is that when you’re in a valley, fight like hell to get out of it.  Don’t get conditioned to it, and don’t accept it.  Minimize the time you spend in the valley.  And as the Ravens fight song bellows…..FIGHT FIGHT FIGHT!

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Too many issues for winless Ravens to hide from truth

Posted on 28 September 2015 by Luke Jones

BALTIMORE — The Ravens had chances to win in the fourth quarter of each of their first three games, but that doesn’t hide the truth after a 28-24 loss to Cincinnati on Sunday.

This is a bad football team at 0-3.

At least right now.

A loss in Denver wasn’t unexpected despite it being a winnable game. Falling to Oakland was surprising, but the Ravens have laid the occasional egg on the road in the John Harbaugh era. But failing to prevail in a must-win game at M&T Bank Stadium when they owned two separate leads late in the game?

The difference between most good teams and most bad teams in the NFL isn’t that much, but the Ravens have shown it through the first three weeks of the 2015 season. They’re not bad in the same sense as an 0-3 Chicago Bears team that’s been outscored by 59 points this season, but that’s no consolation for a franchise so used to success over the last 15 years.

“Very disappointing,” said Harbaugh after the Ravens fell to 0-3 for the first time in franchise history. “We had the lead twice in the fourth quarter and couldn’t hold onto it. It’s happened too much lately. It’s on us.”

The sad thing is that the Ravens of old flashed at a few different points in the second half, making you think they would find a way to steal one that they really had no business winning after being dominated in the first half. The defense was even the catalyst as Elvis Dumervil stripped Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton of the football and C.J. Mosley picked up the fumble and ran 41 yards for the go-ahead touchdown with 6:49 remaining in the fourth quarter.

The narrative was there for an ugly — but season-saving — win around which the Ravens could rally and remove the bad taste of the first two losses from their palates.

But then four-time Pro Bowl receiver A.J. Green took over, catching an 80-yard touchdown against a confused and poor-tackling secondary. And he did it again after the Ravens had punched back with a Joe Flacco touchdown to Steve Smith that put them back in front with just under four minutes remaining.

After fourth-quarter failures against the Broncos and Raiders in the previous two weeks, the defense once again melted down when the Ravens needed it to make just one last stop.

“Once we had the lead in the fourth quarter, we’re supposed to keep it,” cornerback Lardarius Webb said. “With this defense, we’re supposed to get off the field. We haven’t been getting off the field this whole year, and that’s what you get when you don’t get off the field on third down.”

Even with the healthy returns of Jimmy Smith and Webb and the free-agent additions of Kendrick Lewis and Kyle Arrington, we knew the Ravens secondary might still be an issue, but the defense has allowed 291 passing yards per game and six touchdowns so far in 2015. Two of those performances came against Oakland’s second-year quarterback Derek Carr and then Dalton, who has been the quarterback punchline of playoff failures over the last four years.

Is it the talent, the execution, or the coaching? When a team is 0-3, it’s all of the above.

The pass rush without Terrell Suggs, Pernell McPhee, and Haloti Ngata is a shell of its former self, leading to quite a predicament for defensive coordinator Dean Pees. When you need to blitz to pressure the pocket, you make shaky defensive backs even more vulnerable to giving up the big play, but rushing three or four while dropping extra defenders in coverage hasn’t worked either.

There’s been too much miscommunication on the back end of the defense — seeing Lewis trying to cover Green on his 80-yard score in a three-deep zone was a perfect example on Sunday — not to question Pees’ calls while also holding players accountable for their performance. You could certainly interpret Harbaugh’s thoughts on Green’s final touchdown as a critique of both.

“You take responsibility across the board,” Harbaugh said. “It’s execution, it’s finding a better way to play. There are options that you have on that last play down there in the red zone on the [7]-yard line besides man coverage, but we decided to blitz them and get after them and they beat us. We have an option there, we can check to a zone coverage. We didn’t have that on, but there are always options.”

Understandably, the defense is receiving most of the blame for Sunday’s loss, but let’s not pretend all is well with the offense, either. Not only did the group sleepwalk through the entire first half, but the passing game remains too dependent on Steve Smith as he was targeted 17 times on his way to 13 catches for 186 yards and two touchdowns. Other than maybe second-year tight end Crockett Gillmore — who sat out the second half with an undisclosed injury — Flacco doesn’t have a single pass-catcher he can trust beyond the 36-year-old wideout, who was terrific on Sunday but can’t be expected to repeat this every week.

Perhaps the biggest — and easily the most surprising — concern on either side of the ball for the Ravens has been their running game, which was a non-factor against the Cincinnati defense on Sunday. After running for just 35 yards on 13 carries in the first half, the Ravens gained only one yard on five second-half carries.

For a team that pledged to maintain the blocking principles introduced by Gary Kubiak a year ago, the running game under Marc Trestman has more closely resembled the disastrous 2013 ground attack so far, averaging just 3.3 yards per carry in three games. That spells trouble for a team lacking play-makers through the air and a pass defense that needs to be protected as much as possible.

With concerns on both sides of the ball, the 0-3 Ravens can only push forward while trying to resolve at least some of the problems.

“If [those losses are] in your head, then you’re just going to be constantly trying to crawl out of a hole that you can’t get out of right away,” said Flacco, who thought the offense “wasted” the entire first half not taking advantage of the Bengals playing “conservative” defensive looks. “It’s going to take time. We’ve had opportunities to win each one of these three games, and we’re just not good enough to be good in crunch-time situations and it’s getting us beat.”

Numerous players spoke about getting their heads right as the talented Steelers — even without Ben Roethlisberger — loom on Thursday night. There was plenty of talk about accountability and being better than their record indicates, but actions speak louder than words and the Ravens know that.

Players and coaches need to be better, including Harbaugh after he burned a precious timeout on a spot challenge he had no chance of winning early in the fourth quarter.

There are just too many problems to go around for the Ravens to hide from the truth that they’ve been a bad football team through three weeks. And if they want to have any visions of becoming the fourth 0-3 team since 1990 to make the playoffs, much needs to change in a hurry.

“We’ve got to get going,” Dumervil said. “We have a short turnaround against a good team [on the road]. We’ve got to have a short memory and get going.”

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Ravens-Bengals: Inactives and pre-game notes

Posted on 27 September 2015 by Luke Jones

BALTIMORE — Playing their 20th home opener in Baltimore, the Ravens have entered uncharted territory under eighth-year coach John Harbaugh with an 0-2 record to begin the 2015 season.

For a team entering the season with Super Bowl aspirations, the urgency couldn’t be greater in Week 3 as the undefeated Cincinnati Bengals try to bury the Ravens before October. Since 1990, only three 0-3 teams have rebounded to make the playoffs and the prospects of an 0-4 start would be alarming with a Thursday game in Pittsburgh looming in just a few days.

Surprisingly, the Ravens deactivated veteran pass rusher Jason Babin for a second consecutive week after citing his lack of familiarity with the defensive system as the reason he sat against the Raiders a week ago. With the current concerns over the pass rush, Babin being inactive doesn’t speak well for the Ravens’ confidence in him to be able to contribute off the edge.

Baltimore had already ruled out rookie wide receiver Breshad Perriman (knee), defensive end Chris Canty (calf), and left tackle Eugene Monroe (concussion) on Friday. Perriman practiced on a limited basis on Thursday and Friday and went through another pre-game workout on Sunday morning as he tries to work his way back from a sprained knee suffered on the first day of training camp in late July.

Running back Lorenzo Taliaferro (foot) was active after being listed as questionable on the final injury report of the week.

Cornerback Rashaan Melvin will make his 2015 season debut after dealing with a hamstring injury dating back to the preseason. Given how well he performed in training camp and how much No. 3 cornerback Kyle Arrington struggled in Oakland, Melvin would be a good bet to see playing time in the nickel defense against the Bengals.

Acquired from the Miami Dolphins in exchange for a 2016 seventh-round pick earlier this week, cornerback Will Davis was inactive as he continues to learn the Baltimore defensive system. With Melvin returning to action, the Ravens had less of a need to activate Davis. Rookie Tray Walker was also inactive for Baltimore.

These teams are meeting for the 39th time with the Ravens holding a slight 20-18 advantage and 13-6 mark in Baltimore. However, the Bengals have won three straight and four of the last five in the series after completing a season sweep in 2014.

The forecast called for cloudy skies with temperatures in the low 70s, a 15 percent chance of rain, and winds up to 11 miles per hour.

Referee Walt Anderson and his crew will officiate Sunday’s game.

The Ravens are wearing purple jerseys with white pants while Cincinnati dons its white tops with black pants.

Here are Sunday’s inactives:

WR Breshad Perriman
CB Tray Walker
CB Will Davis
LB Jason Babin
OT Eugene Monroe
DT Christo Bilukidi
DE Chris Canty

WR Greg Little
WR Mario Alford
CB Chris Lewis-Harris
TE C.J. Uzomah
DL Marcus Hardison
DL Pat Sims
DL Margus Hunt

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Ravens-Bengals: Five predictions for Sunday

Posted on 26 September 2015 by Luke Jones


It’s a word unfamiliar to the Ravens at this early stage of a season under eighth-year head coach John Harbaugh as they find themselves 0-2 for the first time since 2005. Not only must they beat the Cincinnati Bengals to avoid the first 0-3 start in franchise history, but a Thursday road game at Pittsburgh awaits just four days later.

In other words, the Ravens know their season could be all but doomed before Columbus Day if they don’t answer the bell for these next two games. The Bengals, however, would like nothing more than to continue their recent success against the Ravens while improving to 3-0 in the young 2015 season.

It’s time to go on the record as the Ravens play Cincinnati for the 39th time in franchise history as they own a 20-18 mark. Baltimore has lost three straight and four of the last five to the Bengals, who last year handed the Ravens a season-opening loss at M&T Bank Stadium and swept the season series for the first time since 2009.

Here’s what to expect as the Ravens try to improve to 46-11 in home games under Harbaugh, the second-best mark in the NFL since 2008 …

1. As Jimmy Smith tries to lock down A.J. Green, Tyler Eifert and Giovani Bernard will present matchup problems with a combined 125 receiving yards and a touchdown. Last week was a forgettable performance for the Ravens’ top cornerback, but he will bounce back to prevent Green from singlehandedly wrecking the game. The third-year tight end Eifert is emerging as a dangerous weapon and strong safety Will Hill is dealing with a knee ailment, a worrisome combination. Eifert and Bernard matching up against Ravens linebackers will favor Cincinnati and the pair will help Andy Dalton move the chains on several occasions on Sunday.

2. The Ravens will get their running game on track as Justin Forsett rushes for 80 yards and a touchdown. Through two games, Baltimore has averaged just 2.1 yards per carry in under-center formations as Forsett has largely been bottled up. The Ravens have gained 91 yards on 13 carries from the shotgun, but that’s not a viable long-term plan, putting pressure on the offensive line to open running lanes. The Bengals defense gave up 5.2 yards per carry a week ago, and you can bet that Harbaugh wants the Ravens to get back to their roots in all phases of the game after an 0-2 start. That means heavy doses of Forsett, Lorenzo Taliaferro, and Buck Allen, and more running room will be there.

3. Elvis Dumervil will pick up his first sack of the season, but the pass rush will remain largely ineffective. The Ravens hope that Jason Babin can bring some life to a front seven missing Terrell Suggs, but putting consistent pressure on the quarterback will be an issue for the foreseeable future. Meanwhile, the Bengals offensive line hasn’t allowed a sack yet this season and the Ravens only sacked Dalton twice in two games last year with Suggs and Haloti Ngata having one each in the second meeting. Dumervil will slip by Bengals tackle Andrew Whitworth for a takedown, but this is not a good matchup for a group trying to find its way and going against a passing game that gets the ball out quickly

4. Rookie Maxx Williams will catch his first career touchdown. The offense took some encouraging steps forward last week in Oakland with Crockett Gillmore catching two touchdowns and Kamar Aiken adding 89 receiving yards to shake off a brutal first-quarter fumble, but the Ravens need their 2015 second-round tight end to become a bigger part of what they do in the passing game, especially with limited speed at the receiver position. The Bengals’ otherwise-stout defense is average at the linebacker position and offensive coordinator Marc Trestman will try to create favorable matchups for the talented but raw Williams. He’ll take advantage with a touchdown inside the red zone.

5. Joe Flacco will fight off the demons of past Cincinnati performances to lead the Ravens to a much-needed 23-21 win. These are the desperate times in which you lean on your stars, but Flacco has thrown more than twice as many career interceptions against the Bengals than any other team, making this one difficult to predict. Cincinnati is the more balanced team on paper and the early-season results for both teams speak for themselves, but Flacco plays better at home and will play an efficient game with minimal mistakes to lead the Ravens to a win. It won’t be pretty as the defense will bend plenty without breaking and the offense will struggle to finish off a few drives, but the Ravens will make just a few more plays than the Bengals to earn their first win of 2015.

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Canty, Monroe, Perriman out for Sunday’s game

Posted on 25 September 2015 by Luke Jones

OWINGS MILLS, Md. — Needing a win against one of their biggest rivals to avoid the first 0-3 start in team history, the Ravens will be without three key players for Sunday’s game against Cincinnati.

Defensive end Chris Canty (calf), left tackle Eugene Monroe (concussion), and rookie wide receiver Breshad Perriman (knee) were officially ruled out on Friday as the Ravens try to snap a three-game losing streak against the Bengals in Week 3. Canty and Monroe had missed the entire week of practice while Perriman only returned to practice on Thursday after an eight-week absence due to a sprained knee.

“I’m encouraged by that, and that’s very important,” said head coach John Harbaugh about Perriman’s limited participation. “It looks like he’s getting close, but what that exactly means, I don’t know. When they tell me he can play, he’ll be out there playing. That’s just the truth. That’s the way it is. It’s a tough injury to judge.”

Second-year lineman James Hurst is once again expected to start in Monroe’s place while Lawrence Guy will likely man the 5-technique defensive end spot in place of Canty.

Running back Lorenzo Taliaferro (foot) was listed as questionable on the final injury report of the week after he returned to practice on a limited basis Friday. The second-year back made his 2015 debut in Oakland last week following a month-long absence because of a knee injury.

Safety Will Hill missed Friday’s practice with a knee injury, but he was still listed as probable to play against the Bengals.

Rookie cornerback Tray Walker was listed as questionable with a thigh injury after being limited in two straight practices. The return of third-year cornerback Rashaan Melvin and the acquisition of Will Davis make it likely that the fourth-round pick will be inactive anyway.

The Bengals officially ruled out backup nose tackle Pat Sims with a hip injury and listed defensive tackle Marcus Hardison (knee) as doubtful. Four-time Pro Bowl receiver A.J. Green (knee) and starting left tackle Andrew Whitworth (back) were both listed as probable after missing one practice each this week.

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

The forecast for Sunday’s game in Baltimore calls for temperatures in the high 60s, a 60 percent chance of rain, and winds up to 12 miles per hour, according to Weather.com.

Below is the final injury report of the week:

OUT: DE Chris Canty (calf), OT Eugene Monroe (concussion), WR Breshad Perriman (knee)
QUESTIONABLE: RB Lorenzo Taliaferro (foot), CB Tray Walker (thigh)
PROBABLE: S Will Hill (knee), LB C.J. Mosley (non-injury)

OUT: DT Pat Sims (hip)
DOUBTFUL: DT Marcus Hardison (knee)
PROBABLE: DE Wallace Gilberry (thigh), WR A.J. Green (knee), S Reggie Nelson (groin), OT Andre Smith (buttocks), OT Andrew Whitworth (back)

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Ravens cancel second extended stay on West Coast

Posted on 25 September 2015 by Luke Jones

OWINGS MILLS, Md. — Several days after acknowledging the Ravens were reconsidering a second extended stay on the West Coast, head coach John Harbaugh said Friday that those plans have been scrapped.

Citing a longer week between their Oct. 18 contest in San Francisco and the Oct. 26 Monday night game against Arizona as the primary reason, Harbaugh said the Ravens will use a more conventional travel schedule for both games. The Ravens would have left for San Francisco two days early and would have spent a total of 11 days away from home had they elected to stay out west.

“That was a big part of it,” Harbaugh said. “That was the main part of it. It’s just a long week.”

Of course, the results of their first extended stay on the West Coast likely made the decision easier as the Ravens lost games to Denver and Oakland to begin a season 0-2 for the first time since 2005. The team stayed in San Jose last week ahead of the surprising 37-33 loss to the Raiders.

With Harbaugh acknowledging Monday that the Ravens were reconsidering their travel plans and coordinator Dean Pees expressing displeasure with how his defense practiced before the Oakland game, it appeared all but guaranteed that a second extended trip would not happen. Earlier in the week, Harbaugh thanked owner Steve Bisciotti and the entire organization for putting in the work to make the first long-term trip possible.

“I would have loved to reap the benefits of that and been able to stand up here and talk about what a plus that was in winning two football games,” Harbaugh said. “But we’re not able to do that because we didn’t get the job done. But from the effort — the work effort — we can stand on that foundation going forward.”

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Jones, Britton undergo MRIs as Orioles sweep Washington

Posted on 25 September 2015 by Luke Jones

Not only did the Orioles complete an impressive sweep of the Washington Nationals to keep their remote playoff hopes alive, but they did it without two of their four 2015 All-Star selections over the three games.

Center fielder Adam Jones (back spasms) and closer Zach Britton (lat strain) underwent magnetic resonance imaging exams on Thursday. The test revealed only inflammation in Jones’ back while Britton’s MRI confirmed the diagnosis of a strained left lat muscle.

It remains unclear when either player will be ready to return as the Orioles begin a three-game set with Boston at Fenway Park on Friday. All-Star setup man Darren O’Day secured the save in each of the three wins over the Nationals with Britton unavailable.

With 10 games remaining, the 76-76 Orioles enter Friday trailing the American League’s second wild card spot by 3 1/2 games. The Houston Astros continue to struggle down the stretch, but they lead the Los Angeles Angels and Minnesota Twins by 1 1/2 games while the Orioles desperately try to pass all three clubs to secure the final postseason spot in the AL.

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