Tag Archive | "Baltimore"

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Ravens-Dolphins: Five predictions for Thursday night

Posted on 26 October 2017 by Luke Jones

You may want to put the children to bed early on Thursday.

After several surprisingly-strong editions of Thursday Night Football this season, the Ravens and their 31st-ranked offense welcome Miami and its 32nd-ranked offense to M&T Bank Stadium in what’s anything but a sexy matchup on paper. Standing at 3-4 with back-to-back road games looming, Baltimore desperately could use a win to remain relevant in the AFC while the enigmatic Dolphins aim for their fourth straight victory.

Injuries are again a major story for the Ravens offense as five wide receivers are listed as either doubtful or questionable and tight end Benjamin Watson is also questionable, making you shudder at the potential limitations of a passing game that’s been poor even when much healthier this season. On the bright side, the defensive line is in better shape than it’s been in some time with none of its current members listed on the injury report.

It’s time to go on the record as the Dolphins play the Ravens for the fifth consecutive season with the latter winning three of the last four meetings. The all-time regular-season series is tied 6-6, but Baltimore owns a 3-1 advantage at home with the only loss coming at Memorial Stadium back in 1997.

Below are five predictions for Thursday:

1. Griff Whalen will catch a touchdown pass. There’s no rhyme or reason to this one other than Whalen being one of two wide receivers not listed on the injury report this week. Vince Mayle scored a touchdown in Week 5, Bobby Rainey in Week 6, and Chris Moore last week in Minnesota, so let’s make it four weeks in a row for a nondescript Ravens player to find the end zone. For this offense to score a touchdown, you’d figure it has to be something weird, right?

2. The Ravens will hold Miami under 100 yards rushing. The thought of making such a prediction with the opponent sporting the league’s 29th-ranked running game would have been stating the obvious in the past, but Baltimore ranking dead last in rushing yards allowed per game and 23rd in yards per carry allowed is far more jarring than any of the ugliness witnessed with the offense. Especially with Brandon Williams healthy, this defense has too much talent to continue to be this poor against the run. Dolphins running back Jay Ajayi and his offensive line have also been very ordinary this season.

3. Miami defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh will collect a sack and force a fumble. Even if starting right guard Matt Skura returns from injury, the interior offensive line has a nightmare on its hands trying to contain the monstrous defensive lineman. Look for the Ravens to run outside and for Joe Flacco to try to roll and use some bootlegs to minimize Suh’s ability to disrupt the middle of the pocket, but it’s difficult envisioning the five-time Pro Bowl selection not having a big impact in this one.

4. Dolphins quarterback Matt Moore will have more passing yards than Flacco, but a critical interception will swing the outcome. Miami is better off with Moore playing instead of Jay Cutler, but the backup isn’t the second coming of Frank Reich, either. If the Ravens can contain an underwhelming running game, the pass defense can play with the aggressiveness it showed in the first two weeks of the season coming away with a total of eight interceptions. Jarvis Landry is certainly a concern, but Baltimore’s cornerbacks have been playing at a high level and may not have to contend with DeVante Parker, who is questionable to play with an ankle injury.

5. The Ravens will prevail in an ugly 16-13 final to temporarily ease some of the tension in Owings Mills. I don’t believe this is a good football team, but I also think Miami is a suspect 4-2 outfit with a minus-20 point differential and one of the worst offenses in the NFL. If Jeremy Maclin can play, the Ravens should be able to move the ball just enough to put themselves in position to score some points to complement an energized defense. Playing at home on a short week and being the more desperate team at the midway point of the season, Baltimore is getting as close to must-win territory as a team with any realistic playoff aspirations can be in late October. If the Ravens lose, it could be an unsettling weekend at 1 Winning Drive with many already clamoring for change before Thursday’s game.

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Maclin, Wallace, Perriman questionable for Thursday night game

Posted on 25 October 2017 by Luke Jones

The Ravens are once again dealing with major injury questions at wide receiver as they host Miami for a nationally-televised Thursday game.

Of the seven receivers on the active roster, five are listed on the injury report with starters Jeremy Maclin (shoulder) and Mike Wallace (concussion) as well as 2015 first-round pick Breshad Perriman all listed as questionable to play against the Dolphins. Maclin and Wallace were once again limited participants in Wednesday’s practice while Perriman was upgraded to full participation, a possible sign that he’s passed the concussion protocol after missing last week’s game in Minnesota.

An NFL Network report last weekend indicated Maclin would make his return Thursday night, but there was optimism the previous two weeks when he was a limited participant in practices before ultimately being deactivated. Wallace’s status is in doubt after he suffered a concussion just three days ago.

Making matters worse, slot receiver Michael Campanaro (shoulder) and reserve Chris Matthews (thigh) were both designated as doubtful to play, leaving 2016 fourth-round pick Chris Moore and the recently-signed Griff Whalen as the only fully-healthy receivers on the roster.

The pass-catching woes don’t stop there as tight end Benjamin Watson missed his second straight day of practice and is questionable to play with a knee injury. The 36-year-old leads the team with 24 receptions despite averaging just 7.3 yards per catch.

Third-year tight end Maxx Williams (ankle) was officially ruled out on Wednesday as he’s appeared in just three games this season.

Right guard Matt Skura (knee) was upgraded to full participation Wednesday and was listed as questionable to play after missing the last two games. Rookie fifth-round pick Jermaine Eluemunor has struggled in a starting role since Skura injured his knee in the Oct. 8 win over Oakland.

Cornerback Jimmy Smith was designated as questionable for the fourth straight week as he continues to deal with Achilles tendinitis, but his status is not believed to be in real question after he practiced on a limited basis Tuesday and Wednesday.

Safeties Eric Weddle and Tony Jefferson, outside linebacker Terrell Suggs, inside linebacker Patrick Onwuasor, and defensive back Anthony Levine were also listed as questionable, but all five practiced fully on Wednesday, a good indicator for their availability against Miami.

The Dolphins officially ruled out starting left guard Anthony Steen (foot) in addition to quarterback Jay Cutler (ribs). Left tackle Laremy Tunsil (knee) was listed as a full participant on Wednesday, but he was listed as questionable, leaving Miami in an uneasy position on the left side of the offensive line.

Wide receiver DeVante Parker (ankle) as well as starting defensive linemen Andre Branch (groin) and Jordan Phillips (ankle) are all questionable after being listed as limited in Wednesday’s practice.

According to Weather.com, the Thursday night forecast in Baltimore calls for clear skies and temperatures dipping into the low 50s with calm winds up to five miles per hour.

Below is the final injury report of the week:

BALTIMORE
OUT: RB Terrance West (calf), TE Maxx Williams (ankle)
DOUBTFUL: WR Michael Campanaro (shoulder), WR Chris Matthews (thigh), LB Tim Williams (thigh)
QUESTIONABLE: S Tony Jefferson (ankle), DB Anthony Levine (back), WR Jeremy Maclin (shoulder), LB Patrick Onwausor (knee), WR Breshad Perriman (concussion), G Matt Skura (knee), CB Jimmy Smith (Achilles), LB Terrell Suggs (knee), WR Mike Wallace (concussion), TE Benjamin Watson (knee), S Eric Weddle (ankle)

MIAMI
OUT: QB Jay Cutler (ribs), G Anthony Steen (foot)
QUESTIONABLE: DE Andre Branch (groin), WR DeVante Parker (ankle), DT Jordan Phillips (ankle), OT Laremy Tunsil (knee)

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With wounded pride, Ravens defense trying to regroup quickly

Posted on 25 October 2017 by Luke Jones

OWINGS MILLS, Md. — The Ravens defense would like to consider itself a wounded animal.

Desperate, but still dangerous.

And with an offense that wasn’t particularly good to begin with and hopelessly decimated by injuries, this defense needs to do the heavy lifting if the Ravens are to be relevant in the second half of the season. Of course, that kind of consistent performance hasn’t been there with Baltimore ranking a disappointing 18th in total defense and 13th in points allowed per game.

It’s a far cry from the offseason chatter from fans, media, and even some players suggesting this would be a special defense that could ultimately rival the finest units in franchise history.

“We still can be historic. We still can be magical,” said outside linebacker Terrell Suggs, who was a member of some of those great defenses of yesteryear. “So, [forget] hype — you know what I’m saying? We know who we are, and we know what we’re about.”

For the better part of two decades, the Ravens have been about stopping the run above anything else, making their 32nd-ranked rush defense entering Week 8 all the more shocking. They’re allowing 145.3 rushing yards per game and 4.4 yards per carry, marks that would easily shatter team records for futility.

A year ago, Baltimore carried the best run defense in the NFL into Week 15 before some late-season struggles dropped the unit to fifth. That defense allowed only four runs of 20 or more yards all season, but this year’s Ravens have already relinquished seven rushes greater than 20 yards, including two in last Sunday’s 24-16 loss to Minnesota. The current group has forfeited 160 or more yards on the ground in four of the last five games after giving up that many in a contest only once in 2016.

No matter how pitiful the other side of the ball has been, it’s an embarrassing development for a franchise that hasn’t finished outside the top 10 in yards per carry allowed since its inaugural season in 1996.

“It’s a yucky taste in our mouth right now,” cornerback Brandon Carr said. “All hands are on deck right now. All 11 guys, back end and the front seven, we’re going to iron this thing out. It’s a long season. We’re halfway there, and we’ve got a lot of great football to play still.”

Players and coaches — at least openly — have struggled to pinpoint the root of the problems stopping the run while the pass defense has quietly been a strength after being the Achilles heel of that side of the ball for years.

Most would still point to the four-game absence of standout defensive tackle Brandon Williams as the biggest reason for the struggles of the run defense, but the Ravens gave up 5.6 yards per carry — their second-worst mark of the year — with him returning to action against the Vikings in Week 7. The season-ending injury to 5-technique defensive end Brent Urban hasn’t helped, but he entered 2017 with all of 372 career defensive snaps under his belt and the Ravens had drafted 5-technique players — Bronson Kaufusi and Chris Wormley — in the third round in each of the last two drafts.

Outside linebackers haven’t consistently set the edge, but tackling at every level of the defense has also been suspect. Regarded by many as the defense’s biggest strength entering the season, high-priced safeties Eric Weddle and Tony Jefferson have each missed a critical tackle in Baltimore’s last two losses.

Long runs have come against sub packages sporting a lighter front and against the base defense with more bulk at the line of scrimmage.

Defensive coordinator Dean Pees has echoed the need to stop giving up big plays that are wiping away otherwise-respectable work, but those continue to happen for one reason or another.

“We’re struggling a little bit right now. I think we are pressing a little bit,” Pees said. “We have to get back to just letting it go and playing football and playing defense. I think we’re all pressing — me included — sometimes. That is usually not a good thing.”

If a turnaround is in the cards, you’d think it has to start Thursday against Miami, who owns the league’s last-ranked offense and is averaging just 3.3 yards per carry. One could argue backup quarterback Matt Moore gives the Dolphins a better chance to win than Jay Cutler, but head coach Adam Gase will still want to limit his opportunities to make mistakes against a pass defense tied for the league lead with 10 interceptions.

With the Ravens looking completely inept on offense and with little visible hope for marked improvement there, opponents would be foolish to not try to grind out yards on the ground and diminish the chances of turning the ball over. That’s what has made the last few weeks so maddening with Baltimore clearly knowing what the opposing offense is going to do and still not being able to shut down the run.

If this wounded defense is ever going to fight back, facing one of the worst offenses in the NFL at home on a short week seems like the logical time to start.

“You want to be good. You want to dominate everywhere, every facet of the game,” Suggs said. “Now, we’ve just got to tighten the screws a little bit. We just have to stop the leakage. But like I said, we’re not hitting the panic button just yet. We’re going to be alright.”

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Four wide receivers still listed on Ravens injury report

Posted on 24 October 2017 by Luke Jones

OWINGS MILLS, Md. — Two days before an important AFC meeting with Miami, the Ravens remained banged up at the wide receiver position.

Despite practicing on a limited basis, Mike Wallace and Breshad Perriman remain in the concussion protocol and are uncertain to be available against the Dolphins. Perriman hasn’t played since sustaining a concussion on Oct. 15 while Wallace was injured during the second offensive series of the game in Minnesota on Sunday.

Veteran Jeremy Maclin (shoulder) is also practicing on a limited basis, but he’s been at the same participation level before sitting out the last two games, leaving Baltimore without a reliable possession receiver. It’s been a difficult balancing act trying to keep Maclin ready to play while also making sure his understudies receive enough work if their names are called instead as has been the case the past two weeks.

“A guy like Jeremy, we’re not really sure about him until game time,” quarterback Joe Flacco said Monday. “We have got a lot of work in practice with him, so that can hurt you in terms of reps for other guys and just getting comfortable with all that. But it’s all part of the game.”

Michael Campanaro (shoulder) remained absent during Tuesday’s walk-through practice, leaving Chris Moore, Chris Matthews, and the recently-signed Griff Whalen as the only wide receivers not listed on the injury report. Matthews missed last Sunday’s game with a thigh injury and was not on the field during the media viewing portion of Tuesday’s workout, but he is not listed on this week’s injury report.

Linebacker Terrell Suggs (knee), tight ends Benjamin Watson (knee) and Maxx Williams (ankle), and running back Terrance West (calf) were also non-participants on Tuesday. It doesn’t appear that Suggs’ status for Thursday is in real jeopardy at this point since he talked to reporters at his locker after practice.

Cornerback Jimmy Smith (Achilles tendon), defensive back Anthony Levine (back), and outside linebacker Tim Williams (thigh) all practiced on a limited basis after sitting out Monday.

The Dolphins are in much better shape from a health standpoint as quarterback Jay Cutler (ribs) and left guard Anthony Steen (foot) were the only players on their 53-man roster not to practice on Tuesday. Wide receiver DeVante Parker (ankle) and left tackle Laremy Tunsil (knee) were limited participants in their return to the field.

Below is Tuesday’s full injury report:

BALTIMORE
DID NOT PARTICIPATE: WR Michael Campanaro (shoulder), LB Terrell Suggs (knee), TE Benjamin Watson (knee), RB Terrance West (calf), TE Maxx Williams (ankle)
LIMITED PARTICIPATION: S Tony Jefferson (ankle), DB Anthony Levine (back), WR Jeremy Maclin (shoulder), LB Patrick Onwausor (knee), WR Breshad Perriman (concussion), G Matt Skura (knee), CB Jimmy Smith (Achilles tendon), WR Mike Wallace (concussion), S Eric Weddle (ankle), LB Tim Williams (thigh)

MIAMI
DID NOT PARTICIPATE: QB Jay Cutler (ribs), G Anthony Steen (foot)
LIMITED PARTICIPATION: DE Andre Branch (groin), WR DeVante Parker (ankle), DT Jordan Phillips (ankle), OT Laremy Tunsil (knee)
FULL PARTICIPATION: RB Jay Ajayi (knee/elbow), DE Terrence Fede (shoulder), CB Xavien Howard (shoulder), OT Ja’Wuan James (hand), C Mike Pouncey (knee/hip), TE Julius Thomas (knee)

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Ravens list 15 players on Monday’s injury report

Posted on 24 October 2017 by Luke Jones

OWINGS MILLS, Md. — The Ravens must quickly rebound from their fourth loss in five games while also dealing with an extensive list of injuries ahead of Thursday’s home meeting with Miami.

Seven players did not participate in Monday’s walk through, a list that included linebacker Terrell Suggs (knee), cornerback Jimmy Smith (Achilles tendon), and wide receiver Michael Campanaro (shoulder). Suggs played 51 snaps in Sunday’s defeat at Minnesota without any apparent incident, but Campanaro appeared to be favoring his shoulder on the sideline at one point before eventually returning to the game.

Campanaro is just the latest wide receiver to be banged up as Jeremy Maclin (shoulder) and Breshad Perriman (concussion) were inactive for Week 7 and Mike Wallace sustained a concussion in the first quarter on Sunday. All three practiced on a limited basis Monday, but Perriman and Wallace remain in the concussion protocol, according to head coach John Harbaugh. It remains uncertain whether any of the three will be ready to play in Week 8.

“We’ve had Jeremy out [practicing] the last two weeks, and he was unable to play,” Harbaugh said. “I guess right now I’m just like, ‘I don’t know.’ The way it’s been going with all that, we’ll see. Whoever you see jogging out there at kickoff, they’ll be playing. Up until that point, I don’t know.

“I probably would like to be coy with you and say, ‘I’m not going to talk about it,’ but, at this point, it’s just like, ‘We’ll see.’”

Defensive tackle Brandon Williams was not on the injury report after making his return to action against the Vikings. He played 45 snaps and finished with five tackles, a quarterback hit, and a batted pass in his first game since Sept. 17.

Right guard Matt Skura (knee) returned to practice on Monday after missing the last two games.

Baltimore made a roster move Monday by signing tight end Gavin Escobar and cutting offensive lineman Tony Bergstrom for the second time in a week. It’s a curious addition as Escobar gives the Ravens five tight ends on the active roster, but Maxx Williams remains sidelined with an ankle injury. A 2013 second-round pick of Dallas, the 6-foot-6 Escobar has 30 career receptions for 333 yards and eight touchdowns over four seasons and never lived up to expectations as the heir apparent to Cowboys legend Jason Witten.

The Ravens offense needs all the help it can find at this point.

“I’m all for a red-zone track record for anybody,” said Harbaugh about Escobar. “We’ll just have to see how this all plays out. This is a little uncharted territory. I don’t know how many teams have had this many injuries on offense, so we’ll see how it plays out. We have a lot of tough guys.”

The Dolphins did not practice on Monday and only released a practice attendance estimate, but starting quarterback Jay Cutler is not expected to play against Baltimore after suffering multiple cracked ribs against the New York Jets on Sunday.

Below is the first full injury report of the week:

BALTIMORE
DID NOT PARTICIPATE: WR Michael Campanaro (shoulder), DB Anthony Levine (back), CB Jimmy Smith (Achilles), LB Terrell Suggs (knee), RB Terrance West (calf), TE Maxx Williams (ankle), LB Tim Williams (thigh)
LIMITED PARTICIPATION: S Tony Jefferson (ankle), WR Jeremy Maclin (shoulder), LB Patrick Onwausor (knee), WR Breshad Perriman (concussion), G Matt Skura (knee), WR Mike Wallace (concussion), TE Benjamin Watson (knee), S Eric Weddle (ankle)

MIAMI
DID NOT PARTICIPATE: DE Andre Branch (groin), QB Jay Cutler (ribs), WR DeVante Parker (ankle), G Anthony Steen (foot), OT Laremy Tunsil (knee)
LIMITED PARTICIPATION: RB Jay Ajayi (knee/elbow), OT Ja’Wuan James (hand), CB Byron Maxwell (foot), DT Jordan Phillips (ankle), C Mike Pouncey (knee/hip), TE Julius Thomas (knee)
FULL PARTICIPATION: DE Terrence Fede (shoulder), CB Xavien Howard (shoulder)

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Twelve Ravens thoughts following 24-16 loss to Minnesota

Posted on 23 October 2017 by Luke Jones

With the Ravens enduring their fourth loss in five games in a 24-16 final in Minnesota, I’ve offered a dozen thoughts, each in 50 words or less:

1. Resignation might be the Ravens’ biggest opponent at this point. Based on many of the post-game comments, they’re fighting doubts over whether this will improve. Terrell Suggs sounded as despondent as I’ve ever heard him and summed it up by saying, “Right now, we stink.” Indeed.

2. When Griff Whalen comes off the street to play 58 snaps, how do you expect anything different from this offense? Injuries don’t forgive the poor organizational approach, but “next man up” is merely a nice T-shirt slogan when an offense built to be average at best suffers this many.

3. Amazingly, seven NFL teams failed to score an offensive touchdown on Sunday as the Ravens avoided being the eighth with Chris Moore catching a touchdown as time expired. Since scoring five offensive touchdowns over the first two weeks, the offense has five in five games. Just brutal.

4. I didn’t buy Brandon Williams’ absence being the only reason the run defense was faring poorly, and the Ravens allowed over 160 rushing yards in his return. The defense isn’t getting any help from the offense, but too many resources have been used on this unit to be so underwhelming.

5. Mike Wallace didn’t always have the best reputation on some of his previous NFL stops, but I admire his strong desire to go back in the game after being concussed. And I’m glad he wasn’t allowed to.

6. How ironic it is that a litany of injuries at wide receiver left Michael Campanaro as the No. 1 guy still standing. He’s already set a career high for games played in a season, and I’m glad to see him stay on the field for an extended stretch.

7. After years of being the Achilles heel of the defense, cornerback has been its biggest strength as Brandon Carr has been a quality acquisition and grabbed his third interception of the season. It’s a shame to see the drop-off elsewhere.

8. Which was the more embarrassing moment for the offense Sunday: Buck Allen needing to line up at wide receiver or Joe Flacco tripping over his own two feet in the pocket? It’s a shame Todd Heap couldn’t come down from the radio broadcast booth to catch some passes.

9. Jaylen Hill performed well in his first NFL action, registering a tackle and a pass breakup in nine defensive snaps. I still wouldn’t be surprised to see him emerge as the nickel corner sooner than later.

10. How many times have you heard game broadcasters note the lack of urgency in Baltimore’s two-minute offense over the last couple years? It’s more like a two-hour offense too many times.

11. I’ve chuckled seeing some ask whether this offense is worse than the 2000 one. The answer is a resounding yes, and it’s not close. That group had the league’s fifth-ranked running game and a much better offensive line. This year’s offense might be the worst in team history.

12. I suppose it depends how the Ravens fare against Miami Thursday, but I don’t know how John Harbaugh doesn’t at least consider making some significant change with the extra break looming and the bye soon after that. How do you maintain the status quo with things trending this poorly?

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Ravens-Vikings: Inactives and pre-game notes

Posted on 22 October 2017 by Luke Jones

The injury hits keep on coming for the Ravens.

For the second straight week, Baltimore doesn’t have a single healthy scratch on its inactive list for Sunday’s road encounter with the Minnesota Vikings. The wide receiver position is in especially poor shape with wide receivers Jeremy Maclin (shoulder), Breshad Perriman (concussion), and Chris Matthews (thigh) out and Mike Wallace at less than 100 percent with a back injury.

The offense struggled immensely without Maclin last week, and it faces an even bigger challenge on the road Sunday against the Vikings’ fifth-ranked defense. Pro Bowl cornerback Xavier Rhodes will likely match up with Wallace as much as possible, leaving Michael Campanaro, Chris Moore, and the recently-signed veteran Griff Whalen to try to make plays for quarterback Joe Flacco.

The good news for the Ravens is the return of star defensive tackle Brandon Williams, who had missed the last four games with a foot injury. The presence of Williams as well as the return of top reserve Carl Davis should pay dividends for a run defense that’s plummeted to 30th in the NFL.

Tight end Benjamin Watson is also active despite missing practices this week with a knee issue.

Rookie cornerback Jaylen Hill will make his NFL debut after missing almost two months with a hamstring injury suffered late in the preseason. Whalen and veteran linebacker Steven Johnson will also debut for the Ravens on Sunday.

The Vikings will be without wide receivers Stefon Diggs (groin) and Michael Floyd (hamstring). Diggs was officially ruled out Friday while Floyd had been listed as questionable.

Minnesota left tackle Riley Reiff (ankle) is active after being added to the injury report at the end of the week.

The referee for Sunday’s game is Carl Cheffers.

Weather obviously won’t be a factor with the game being played at U.S. Bank Stadium. This marks Baltimore’s first game at the domed facility that opened last year.

The Ravens are wearing white jerseys with white pants while the Vikings don purple tops with white pants.

Sunday marks the sixth all-time meeting between these teams with the Ravens enjoying a 3-2 advantage. However, the Ravens lost their only game in Minnesota back in 2009.

Below are Sunday’s inactives:

BALTIMORE
WR Jeremy Maclin
WR Breshad Perriman
G Matt Skura
RB Terrance West
TE Max Williams
LB Tim Williams
WR Chris Matthews

MINNESOTA
QB Sam Bradford
WR Stefon Diggs
WR Michael Floyd
CB Mackensie Alexander
G Nick Easton
OT Aviante Collins
DE Tashawn Bower

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Ravens remain banged up at receiver ahead of Minnesota game

Posted on 19 October 2017 by Luke Jones

OWINGS MILLS, Md. — As if a poor performance in the Chicago loss weren’t bad enough, the Ravens offense remains banged up at the pass-catching positions ahead of their trip to Minnesota on Sunday.

Wide receivers Mike Wallace (back) and Breshad Perriman (concussion) were absent during the portion of Thursday’s workout open to the media while No. 1 wideout Jeremy Maclin (shoulder) was once again practicing in a red non-contact vest over his practice jersey. The status of those three remains unclear as Perriman left in the first half of last Sunday’s game and Maclin did not suit up against Chicago.

Wallace expressed optimism about his availability in the locker room after Thursday’s practice.

“My back’s just a little sore. I got hit with a helmet in my back [last Sunday],” Wallace said. “It’s just like a bone bruise. It’s just a matter of feeling better, but I should be fine for Sunday.”

Listed as a limited participant on Wednesday, Wallace being absent took concern at the position to a new level as general manager Ozzie Newsome re-signed veteran Griff Whalen to the 53-man roster. The 27-year-old Whalen was with Baltimore over the summer, making four catches for 32 yards in the preseason before being cut in early September.

To make room for Whalen, the Ravens cut offensive lineman Tony Bergstrom. Cornerback Sheldon Price was also waived from injured reserve on Thursday.

Tight ends Benjamin Watson (knee) and Maxx Williams (ankle) were also absent for the second straight day. Williams re-injured his left ankle in Sunday’s loss and is once again wearing a walking boot, making it unlikely that he’ll play against the Vikings.

Other absences from Thursday’s practice included defensive backs Jimmy Smith (Achilles tendon) and Lardarius Webb (undisclosed), running back Terrance West (calf), wide receiver Chris Matthews (undisclosed), guard Matt Skura (knee), and outside linebacker Tim Williams (thigh).

Inside linebacker C.J. Mosley was practicing in a red non-contact vest for the second straight day, but he did not appear on Wednesday’s injury report.

In better news, defensive tackles Brandon Williams (foot) and Carl Davis (hamstring) both practiced for the second straight day as they hope to return to action in Week 7. Left tackle Ronnie Stanley (mouth) also returned to practice after sitting out Wednesday.

Meanwhile, the Vikings welcomed back standout outside linebacker Anthony Barr (concussion/ankle) to practice on a limited basis. Wide receiver Stefon Diggs (groin) and quarterback Sam Bradford (knee) were non-participants once again, but Diggs reportedly did some work off to the side of the practice field.

He told reporters in Minnesota that his status is “kind of in the air right now” for Sunday’s game.

Below is Thursday’s full injury report:

BALTIMORE
DID NOT PARTICIPATE: WR Breshad Perriman (concussion), G Matt Skura (knee), CB Jimmy Smith (achilles), WR Mike Wallace (back), TE Benjamin Watson (knee), DB Lardarius Webb (knee), RB Terrance West (calf), TE Maxx Williams (ankle), LB Tim Williams (thigh)
LIMITED PARTICIPATION: DB Anthony Levine (thigh), WR Jeremy Maclin (shoulder), WR Chris Matthews (thigh)
FULL PARTICIPATION: DT Carl Davis (thigh), CB Jaylen Hill (thigh), OT Ronnie Stanley (mouth), DT Brandon Williams (foot)

MINNESOTA
DID NOT PARTICIPATE: QB Sam Bradford (knee), WR Stefon Diggs (groin), G Nick Easton (calf), WR Michael Floyd (hamstring)
LIMITED PARTICIPATION: CB Mackensie Alexander (hip), LB Anthony Barr (concussion/ankle), CB Tramaine Brock (hamstring)
FULL PARTICIPATION: LB Emmanuel Lamur (ribs), RB Jerick McKinnon (ankle), CB Xavier Rhodes (shoulder), S Andrew Sendejo (groin), WR Laquon Treadwell (toe)

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Eight offensive players on first injury report of week for Ravens

Posted on 18 October 2017 by Luke Jones

OWINGS MILLS, Md. — On the same day the Ravens welcomed standout defensive tackle Brandon Williams back to practice, six offensive players were absent with both starting wide receivers also less than 100 percent during Wednesday’s workout.

It’s the latest concern for an already-floundering offense with a challenging trip to Minnesota looming against the NFL’s fifth-ranked defense on Sunday.

In addition to the continued absences of right guard Matt Skura (knee) and running back Terrance West (calf), the Ravens were without left tackle Ronnie Stanley (mouth), tight ends Benjamin Watson (knee) and Maxx Williams (ankle), and wide receiver Breshad Perriman (concussion) as preparations continued for the Week 7 meeting with the Vikings. Making matters worse, wide receivers Jeremy Maclin (shoulder) and Mike Wallace (back) were also limited.

Maclin was sporting a red non-contact jersey during the session and missed last Sunday’s loss to Chicago despite practicing on a limited basis all last week. It remains unclear whether the veteran wideout will play this weekend.

“You just trust the doctors,” said Maclin, who wouldn’t reveal how close he came to playing against the Bears after going through a pre-game workout. “When they sit up there and they think that it’s probably not best for you to play, that’s kind of what you go with. Clearly anytime you’re dealing with any type of injury and you’re off of it, it definitely helps with the recovery process.”

The good news was that Williams (foot) and fellow defensive tackle Carl Davis (hamstring) participated fully in Wednesday’s session. Rookie cornerback Jaylen Hill (hamstring) was also a full participant after missing his sixth straight game Sunday.

Cornerback Jimmy Smith was held out of practice, but that wasn’t surprising as the Ravens continue to provide him rest for his Achilles tendinitis. The veteran defensive back played 69 of 80 defensive snaps against the Bears, his biggest workload in several weeks.

“I want to be in the game,” said Smith, who anticipated a heavy workload in Week 6. “I don’t want to be sitting on the sideline for anything.”

Inside linebacker C.J. Mosley practiced in a red non-contact vest during the portion of practice open to media, but he did not appear on the injury report.

The Ravens designated second-year cornerback Maurice Canady to return to practice 2 1/2 months after he underwent knee surgery early in training camp. Canady will now begin a 21-day practice window and could be activated for the Week 9 contest at Tennessee at the earliest.

Baltimore still has one more designation to return from injured reserve as the NFL now allows teams to bring back two players from IR after a minimum eight-week period. That second designation is expected to be running back Danny Woodhead, who suffered a long-term hamstring injury in the season opener and was placed on IR a few days later.

The Vikings are also dealing with a number of injuries to key players as standout wide receiver and University of Maryland product Stefon Diggs (groin), linebacker Anthony Barr (concussion/ankle), left guard Nick Easton (calf) and quarterback Sam Bradford (knee) did not practice Wednesday. Minnesota head coach Mike Zimmer was noncommittal about Diggs’ status for Sunday, saying only that he is “getting better” after missing last week’s contest against Green Bay.

Below is Wednesday’s full injury report:

BALTIMORE
DID NOT PARTICIPATE: WR Breshad Perriman (concussion), G Matt Skura (knee), CB Jimmy Smith (achilles), OT Ronnie Stanley (mouth), TE Benjamin Watson (knee), RB Terrance West (calf), TE Maxx Williams (ankle), LB Tim Williams (thigh)
LIMITED PARTICIPATION: DB Anthony Levine (thigh), WR Jeremy Maclin (shoulder), WR Mike Wallace (back)
FULL PARTICIPATION: DT Carl Davis (thigh), CB Jaylen Hill (thigh), DT Brandon Williams (foot)

MINNESOTA
DID NOT PARTICIPATE: LB Anthony Barr (concussion/ankle), QB Sam Bradford (knee), WR Stefon Diggs (groin), G Nick Easton (calf), WR Michael Floyd (hamstring)
LIMITED PARTICIPATION: CB Mackensie Alexander (hip), CB Xavier Rhodes (shoulder), S Andrew Sendejo (groin)
FULL PARTICIPATION: LB Emmanuel Lamur (ribs), RB Jerick McKinnon (ankle)

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Brandon Williams returns to struggling Ravens run defense

Posted on 18 October 2017 by Luke Jones

OWINGS MILLS, Md. — Wearing his customary Incredible Hulk shirt under his jersey and shoulder pads Wednesday, Brandon Williams practiced fully for the first time in over a month.

The Ravens hope the defensive tackle’s return brings a superhero-like impact to their struggling run defense. It’s certainly needed with Baltimore ranking an unheard-of 30th in the NFL in rushing yards allowed per game (141.3) and 21st in yards per carry (4.3). Both marks would shatter franchise-worst records for a defense that’s prided itself in shutting down opposing running games for two decades.

Is the standout defensive lineman the savior as the Ravens try to get back on track in Minnesota on Sunday?

“I’m just a guy,” said Williams, who hasn’t played since injuring his left foot in the first half of the 24-10 win over Cleveland on Sept. 17. “I’m just a guy who’s working to get back on the field. That’s all I’m doing. Today, it felt good. I have two more days [of practice] to go, and then hopefully, I’ll be back soon.”

At the time of Williams’ halftime exit in that Week 2 victory, the Ravens had allowed a stingy 3.4 yards per carry on 34 season attempts. They’ve surrendered an unimpressive 4.4 yards per rush since then as defensive end Brent Urban was lost for the season in Week 3 and emerging reserve Carl Davis has also missed action in recent weeks.

With the defensive line banged up and relying heavily on inexperienced backups, nose tackle Michael Pierce laughed at the notion of Williams proclaiming himself to be “just a guy” for a defense that had extraordinary expectations entering the 2017 season.

“That’s one of our key defensive pieces,” said Pierce, who has continued to play well despite receiving more attention from offensive lines in Williams’ absence. “Anytime you have him back, that frees up other guys to make plays. Double teams will start coming off of me, and they’ll start focusing on him more and free me up and free our ends up. It just frees everybody up. It definitely keeps our linebackers clean and that’s something we take pride in.”

The blame for the porous run defense doesn’t fall solely on the defensive line as both Davis and second-year defensive tackle Willie Henry have performed admirably despite their limited NFL experience. But plugging in solid rotational contributors isn’t the same as having the man who was awarded a $52.5 million contract in the offseason to be the anchor in the trenches.

The “next man up” mantra is the refrain uttered after any injury, but Williams is a difference-making talent on a team frankly in need of more game-changers.

“This machine has working parts to it, and you need all of your parts,” outside linebacker Terrell Suggs said. “It’s always great to have one of the best interior linemen back on the team.”

With Williams potentially returning to play against the Vikings, the Ravens hope the low point for their defense came last week when they allowed a franchise-record 231 yards on 54 attempts, which allowed Chicago to win with a rookie quarterback making his first career road start.

It’s all been a frustrating experience for the 2013 third-round pick, who hadn’t missed a game since his rookie season.

“Not being in the game and watching your brothers go out to battle, it is always tough to watch,” Williams said. “You want to be out there and you want to help, but there is nothing you can do. It stinks watching from the sidelines, but hopefully I can get right and get back out there soon.”

Williams may not be “just a guy” for the Ravens, but teammates acknowledged Wednesday that they all need to pick up their play after such a disappointing month. The problems stopping the run haven’t solely occurred between the tackles as outside linebackers haven’t set the edge consistently and inside linebackers and safeties have missed too many tackles.

Baltimore will catch a break Sunday with Vikings rookie running back Dalvin Cook now out for the season after suffering a torn ACL a few weeks ago, but it will take more than Williams’ return for this defense to regroup and reclaim its place as a top-10 run defense, a title held in 14 of the last 18 seasons.

“I think he’s a part of the answer,” said Pierce of his defensive line partner. “Everybody should be accountable for their gap integrity on each and every play. You just see leaks here and there from myself and from everybody on the defense. We have to clean that up, and he’s going to be a big help just taking on those double teams and freeing up guys.

“It’s a big help, but at the end of the day, everybody has to be accountable.”

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