Tag Archive | "Baltimore"

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Walks again pivotal in Orioles’ 7-5 loss to Boston

Posted on 25 April 2015 by Luke Jones

BALTIMORE — Orioles pitching entered Friday’s series opener against the Boston Red Sox leading the major leagues with 67 walks in 16 games.

And free passes at inopportune times once again hurt the Orioles in dropping their fifth consecutive game in a 7-5 final at Camden Yards.

“We only walked two guys tonight, and the two really bit us against a good team,” said manager Buck Showalter, who pointed to the high number of bases on balls being his biggest pet peeve of the young season prior to Friday’s game. “The walks hurt us, but at least we cut down on them. They really bit us.”

In the fifth inning, starter Miguel Gonzalez issued a bases-empty, two-out walk to Mookie Betts before eventually allowing a three-run homer to David Ortiz and a solo shot by Hanley Ramirez. The four-run frame spoiled an otherwise-solid outing by the Orioles right-hander.

With the scored tied 4-4 with two outs and the bases empty in the top of the eighth, lefty specialist Brian Matusz was summoned to pitch to the switch-hitting Pablo Sandoval, who was 0-for-13 against southpaws so far in 2015. Instead of following up Tommy Hunter’s 1 2/3 innings of strong work by getting his man, Matusz walked Sandoval and was promptly lifted in favor of Darren O’Day. A Manny Machado fielding error and a Brock Holt three-run homer later, Baltimore trailed 7-4.

Of course, the home runs were the death knells, but the two-out walks paved the way for trouble.

“We didn’t do the little things tonight,” said O’Day, who credited Holt for hitting a quality 1-2 pitch over the right-field scoreboard. “We made a lot of small errors, and our strength is paying attention to detail. We just didn’t do it tonight — both sides of the ball.”

Machado’s fielding miscue — the Orioles have now committed eight errors over their last five games  — came after he had struck out in an eight-pitch at-bat with the bases loaded in the bottom of the seventh.

It didn’t take much, but the Orioles continue to do the little things poorly and it cost them another game on Friday.

* Baltimore has now lost five straight for the first time since a six-game losing streak from Sept. 19-24, 2013.

* Matusz has walked seven batters in 7 1/3 innings, which is tied for fourth on the club. He’s tied for 11th in innings pitched.

* Gonzalez gave the Orioles only their fifth start of the season to go six innings or more. The 30-year-old has provided the last two, both coming at home.

* Counting the 2014 postseason, O’Day has given up seven homers in his last 20 innings dating back to Sept. 2 of last year.

 

 

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Orioles place Flaherty on 15-day DL, recall infielder Navarro

Posted on 24 April 2015 by Luke Jones

BALTIMORE — Returning to Camden Yards to begin a long homestand in the midst of a four-game losing streak, the Orioles have lost another infielder as Ryan Flaherty was placed on the 15-day disabled list Friday afternoon.

Flaherty suffered a right groin strain in Wednesday’s loss to the Toronto Blue Jays and did not play in the series finale at Rogers Centre. Infielder Rey Navarro has been recalled from Triple-A Norfolk to take Flaherty’s place on the 25-man roster to begin a weekend series against the Boston Red Sox.

Manager Buck Showalter said Flaherty was projected to miss five to seven days, but this would have been too much time for the club to endure with a shortage of middle infielders. After Jonathan Schoop suffered a right knee injury last weekend that landed him on the DL, Flaherty had been filling in as the starting second baseman. The 28-year-old is hitting .300 with two home runs and four RBIs in 35 plate appearances this season.

Flaherty joins Schoop, shortstop J.J. Hardy, catcher Matt Wieters, and left-handed reliever Wesley Wright as the latest member of the Orioles’ regular 25-man roster to visit the DL.

The 25-year-old Navarro signed with the Orioles in the offseason after spending time in the Cincinnati, Kansas City, and Arizona organizations. Making his major league debut on Friday, Navarro was batting seventh and playing second base after being activated from the minor-league disabled list earlier this week. Like Flaherty, Navarro was nursing a groin injury.

In 885 games over nine minor-league seasons, Navarro is a career .265 hitter with 47 homers, 363 RBIs, and 74 stolen bases.

In other injury-related news, Hardy took live batting practice with Triple-A Norfolk for the second straight day on Friday. Showalter wants Hardy to hit live without any left shoulder discomfort in consecutive days before he begins a rehab assignment, making Friday’s session an important one. The Orioles manager confirmed that Flaherty’s injury would not change how the Orioles view Hardy’s timetable.

Wieters caught a few innings in extended spring training for the second consecutive day. He made throws to second and third base on Thursday, and Showalter was anxious to hear how the catcher fared on Friday as he moves closer to potentially starting a minor-league rehab assignment.

On Friday, Norfolk catcher Steve Clevenger has been placed on the minor-league seven-day DL with a bruised left thumb.

Showalter will not be with the club Saturday as he attends the memorial service of his father-in-law in Nashville.

Below are Friday night’s lineups:

BOSTON
CF Mookie Betts
2B Dustin Pedroia
DH David Ortiz
LF Hanley Ramirez
1B Mike Napoli
3B Pablo Sandoval
RF Daniel Nava
SS Brock Holt
C Ryan Hanigan

SP Rick Porcello (1-2, 6.63 ERA, 1.47 WHIP)

BALTIMORE
LF Alejandro De Aza
3B Manny Machado
DH Jimmy Paredes
CF Adam Jones
1B Chris Davis
RF Delmon Young
2B Rey Navarro
C Caleb Joseph
SS Everth Cabrera

SP Gonzalez (2-1, 2.55 ERA, 1.25 WHIP)

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Five questions pondering Forsett, Orioles corner outfielders, others

Posted on 24 April 2015 by Luke Jones

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

Five questions …

1. Is it just me or are we once again too quick to doubt Justin Forsett? I understand skepticism about a running back who will turn 30 in October and is coming off a career season, but there’s too much discussion about finding his replacement considering the Ravens still don’t know who will be starting at a wide receiver spot or at tight end. Yes, it will be a tall order for Forsett to duplicate his 5.4 yards per carry average from 2014, but we are still talking about a back who averaged 4.9 yards per carry in his career prior to last season and has less wear and tear on his body than the typical player his age. For those who wanted to give the offensive line most of the credit for Forsett’s dream season, why is Melvin Gordon or Todd Gurley that attractive in the first round then? It makes sense for the Ravens to look at the running back position in the middle rounds, but I’ll be underwhelmed if a running back is the pick at 26th overall next Thursday night.

2. Is it just me or has Steve Pearce been buried too quickly? Make no mistake, the great story of the 2014 season is off to an awful start with a .507 on-base plus slugging percentage in 52 plate appearances, but I’m surprised to see manager Buck Showalter only give him one start in the last five games. It made sense to keep the red-hot Jimmy Paredes in the lineup, but I’m not sure why Alejandro De Aza (prior to Thursday night) and Chris Davis were automatically penciled into the lineup over that time. I said throughout the winter that asking Pearce to duplicate his .930 OPS from last season would be too much, but it’s not a good look for the organization to have him on the bench this early after he was often mentioned as a reason why money wasn’t spent to retain Nick Markakis or Nelson Cruz.

3. Is it just me or did Jimmy Smith’s injury history play a large part in the Ravens re-signing the cornerback now? It’s fair to acknowledge the risk in investing $21 million guaranteed in a player who’s missed 17 games over his first four seasons, but that played into general manager Ozzie Newsome and the Ravens retaining Smith at a reasonable cost. A simple look at the $25.5 million guaranteed that the Philadelphia Eagles gave free agent Byron Maxwell — the former Seattle cornerback with all of 17 career starts — last month made it obvious Smith could have commanded much more on the open market next offseason. But it made sense for both sides to gain some long-term security as the Ravens couldn’t afford to let their top cornerback walk and Smith couldn’t risk a slow start coming back from a foot injury to hinder his market value. The Ravens will now keep their fingers crossed that this deal works out better than the 2012 extension they gave to Lardarius Webb.

4. Is it just me or are the Orioles’ issues at the corner outfield spots making you pay attention to Nolan Reimold in the minors? I don’t expect the 31-year-old to be the answer, but watching De Aza, Travis Snider, and David Lough make such cringe-worthy fundamental mistakes over the last week has me concerned about the corner outfield positions. Reimold has followed up his excellent spring with an unspectacular start at Triple-A Norfolk (.250/.333/.393), but he’s drawn seven walks and hit his second homer of the season on Thursday. Those numbers aren’t exactly beating down the door for a promotion, but the aforementioned names aren’t undisputed everyday players, either. It’s wishful thinking, but Reimold’s plate discipline and speed could eventually warrant a shot in the leadoff spot, which has produced more strikeouts and fewer walks than any other slot in the order for the Orioles.

5. Is it just me or did John Harbaugh provide some much-needed common sense and historical context in his essay about football? Kudos to the Ravens head coach for this impassioned piece about a game that’s increasingly under attack in the 21st century. Harbaugh struck a fine balance in acknowledging real concerns about the game that must be addressed while reminding us of the redeeming qualities of football that we shouldn’t be so quick to dismiss or eliminate. Perhaps it’s the fact that I played nine years of football growing up and still maintain friendships with former teammates going all the way back to elementary school, but research, historical context, and thoughtfulness are more constructive than the fear-mongering we too often see about so many issues facing society. As Harbaugh wrote, the game needs to improve, but let’s not ignore the values it has taught many of us along the way.

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Tucker signs restricted tender with Ravens

Posted on 23 April 2015 by Luke Jones

Both of the Ravens’ restricted free agents are now reportedly under contract for the 2015 season as kicker Justin Tucker and safety Will Hill each signed their tenders on Thursday.

Baltimore announced that fourth-year kicker Justin Tucker signed his restricted second-round tender worth $2.356 million for the 2015 season. Other teams had the right to negotiate and sign the 2013 Pro Bowl kicker to an offer sheet, but the Ravens would have had the right to match the deal and would have received the team’s second-round pick if they had elected to pass.

The high price that Tucker would command in addition to the compensation always made it highly unlikely that another team would seriously pursue him. The attention will now shift to Tucker’s future beyond this season as the Ravens have made it clear that they’d like to sign the former rookie free agent to a long-term contract, but he will aim to become one of the highest-paid kickers in the NFL.

Tucker is currently the most accurate kicker in league history after making 97 of 108 career field goal attempts in his first three seasons.

The Ravens did not announce Hill’s signing, but the safety inked his low tender of $1.542 million, according to a report from The Sun. Considering there was no draft pick attached to Hill’s tender, his restricted free agency was worth monitoring, but his history of drug-related suspensions and off-field concerns likely scared away other teams from making a long-term financial commitment.

After serving a six-game suspension for violating the league’s substance-abuse policy last season, Hill quickly emerged as a starting safety for the Ravens, collecting 42 tackles, an interceptions, and four pass breakups in 10 games (eight starts). He returned an interception for a touchdown in a Monday night win over the New Orleans Saints.

Originally an undrafted free agent from the University of Florida, Hill played the first two years of his NFL career with the New York Giants.

Friday is the final day that restricted free agents can be signed to offer sheets by other teams.

 

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The Baltimore Ravens unveil their 20th Anniversary patch

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Ravens announce plans for 20th season

Posted on 23 April 2015 by Luke Jones

Photo courtesy of Shawn Hubbard, Baltimore Ravens

Approaching their 20th season in Baltimore this fall, the Ravens announced plans Thursday to commemorate the occasion.

Players will wear a 20th season patch on their jerseys this fall much like they did for the Ravens’ 10th season in 2005.

The organization also announced the 10 most popular players in franchise history as voted on by personal seat license holders earlier this year. Peter Boulware, Joe Flacco, Todd Heap, Jamal Lewis, Ray Lewis, Jonathan Ogden, Ed Reed, Matt Stover, Terrell Suggs, and Marshal Yanda will each appear on tickets and the cover of the game-day program for a home game this season.

The Ravens noted in a release that five-time Pro Bowl defensive tackle Haloti Ngata was voted as one of the original top 10, but he will not appear on a game ticket or program after being traded to the Detroit Lions last month.

“You look at that list of players and you think of all the wins represented with this group, and that includes two Super Bowl championships,” general manager Ozzie Newsome said in a team statement. “Except for Matt and Marshal — both great stories in their own right — all of these players are first-round draft choices, and that’s something our scouts can be proud of.

“It is an impressive list with Hall of Famers, Ring of Honor members, and all-time greats. Our fans did a good job with the selections.”

The Ravens kick off their 20th season on the road against Denver on Sept. 13. Their home opener is against Cincinnati on Sept. 27.

 

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Orioles still trying to recapture starter success from last year

Posted on 23 April 2015 by Luke Jones

You don’t have to look far to figure out why the Orioles are off to a 7-8 start to begin the 2015 season.

They’ve been sloppy in other areas of the game, but Orioles starting pitching entered Thursday ranking last in the majors in innings pitched (4.87 innings per start) and 27th in ERA (5.30). In looking at the first 15 games of the season solely through that lens, Baltimore might be fortunate to be just a game below .500. The bullpen hasn’t been much better with a 4.55 ERA, but relievers have already been overworked because of the starters’ failures.

Bud Norris’ struggles have garnered plenty of attention as the right-hander currently sports a 17.42 ERA, but No. 1 starter Chris Tillman entered Thursday’s start with a 5.52 ERA through three starts. Meanwhile, Wei-Yin Chen can thank his shoddy defense in Boston on Monday — one of the errors were committed by the lefty starter — for a 3.07 ERA that doesn’t accurately reflect how shaky his performance has been thus far. Chen sports a 1.70 WHIP (walks and hits per inning pitched) and a 6.49 FIP (fielding independent pitching mark), which paint a better picture of how he’s pitched.

The poor performance of the rotation has left many to wonder why the talented Kevin Gausman isn’t starting, but the 24-year-old is trying to rebound from a rough beginning of his own in the bullpen and owns a 5.40 ERA in 10 innings of work. The 2012 first-round pick finished 2014 with a 3.57 ERA in 20 starts.

The rocky start has been a stark contrast from the second half of 2014 when the pitching became one of the Orioles’ biggest strengths, finishing fifth in the American League in starter ERA (3.61). Baltimore went 53-27 over the final three months of the season, a clip that translates to a 107-win season over the course of a full year. Aside from Ubaldo Jimenez, who made only five starts in the final three months of 2014, every member of the rotation finished with an ERA of 3.65 or better.

Though many continued to criticize Orioles starters for failing to go seven innings consistently last year, the more realistic standard in today’s game has become six innings as Cincinnati led the majors last year in averaging 6.32 innings per start. Over those final 80 games when the Orioles ran away from the rest of the AL East, starters completed at least six innings 49 times and seven or more innings 23 times.

So far in 2015, starting pitchers have gone six innings just four times in 15 games. And only Ubaldo Jimenez and Miguel Gonzalez have completed seven innings in one start each.

It’s easy to point to the offseason departures of Nelson Cruz, Nick Markakis, and Andrew Miller as reasons why the Orioles might fail to repeat as AL East champions, but the shortcomings of the starting pitching have told the bigger story in the early stages of 2015.

One of their biggest strengths of last season has been the weakest link of Buck Showalter’s club in April.

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No excuse for Orioles’ sloppy play to begin season

Posted on 23 April 2015 by Luke Jones

A 7-8 record for the Orioles is nothing over which to panic.

Every team in baseball will undergo a three-game losing streak this season and will go through stretches when the pitching or the hitting — or both — will fail to do the job.

But the sloppiness with which the Orioles have played at times through the first 2 1/2 weeks of the season is concerning. And you know that isn’t sitting well with manager Buck Showalter.

Yes, they’re missing All-Star players in J.J. Hardy and Matt Wieters and lost young second baseman Jonathan Schoop to a knee injury last weekend, but that can’t excuse the fielding miscues and the baserunning gaffes uncharacteristic of Showalter clubs that we’ve seen. The Orioles may not play small ball, but they’ve still done the little things well for the most part.

Over the last few years, they’ve hit the cutoff man, minimized mistakes on the bases, and made the plays they’re supposed to make.

That hasn’t been the case in the season’s first 15 games.

Their current three-game losing streak has included six official errors, but the defensive struggles came to a head Tuesday night with right fielder Travis Snider making a few gaffes that had fans pining for Nick Markakis’ steady defensive work. Aside from the last few games, the defense hasn’t been awful, but it’s certainly fallen short of the high standard the Orioles set over the last few years.

Baltimore has done a poor job controlling the running game as catcher Caleb Joseph had failed to throw out the first eight runners attempting to steal against him this season before finally gunning down Toronto catcher Russell Martin at second base on Wednesday night. Opponents are 10-for-12 in stolen base attempts this year after Joseph threw out 40 percent of runners last season. Of course, the pitching must also take blame in failing to hold runners as several stolen bases have come after huge jumps.

Perhaps the signature play of the sloppy start to the season was Alejandro De Aza’s inexplicable attempt to steal third base in the top of the seventh of Wednesday’s game. Chris Davis was at the plate as the potential tying run before De Aza was gunned down to end the inning and protect the Blue Jays’ 4-2 lead.

Any baseball fan knows you never make the third out of an inning at third, but it’s an even worse play with one of your best power hitters at the plate and you’re facing a two-run deficit in the seventh.

Brutal.

To be clear, the Orioles need to play better overall as the pitching has been poor — starters have completed six innings just four times this season — and the offense squandered a slew of opportunities to score more than two runs on Wednesday night.

But you can minimize the damage when you’re not pitching or hitting at your best by doing the little things well — the parts of the game that don’t always show up in the box score.

And that’s where, as Adam Jones would say, the Orioles need to clean it up.

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brandonwilliams

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Brandon Williams on Ngata’s exit: “The show must go on”

Posted on 22 April 2015 by Luke Jones

OWINGS MILLS, Md. — The Ravens know they have large shoes to fill after the departure of five-time Pro Bowl selection Haloti Ngata, but at least one member of the defensive line won’t be caught reflecting on the past.

After proving himself as an above-average nose tackle in his first year as a starter, 2013 third-round pick Brandon Williams expects no drop-off for the NFL’s fourth-ranked run defense despite Ngata being traded to the Detroit Lions last month.

“It was surprising, but at the same time, you get the opportunity to step up and show what you’re actually capable of,” William said. “I love Haloti, great guy, wish him the best in Detroit, but we’re in Baltimore right now. The show must go on. Someone else has to step up.”

That someone is expected to be 2014 second-round pick Timmy Jernigan, who filled in for Ngata during his four-game suspension for Adderall use in the final month of the regular season. Though not as massive as the 340-pound Ngata, the 6-foot-2, 300-pound Florida State product collected 23 tackles and four sacks in 12 games as a rookie.

Jernigan has been complimented by teammates for having an impressive motor, which will be necessary as he takes on a larger role in his second season.

“He’s definitely ready. I call him the little pit bull, because he never stops,” Williams said. “He might be smaller than Haloti — not a lot of people are as big as Haloti — but he still gives it his all, 100 percent every single time. He never quits, so he’s definitely ready.”

Many have pointed to the performance of the defensive line in Ngata’s absence as a major reason why the organization took a firm stance in contract negotiations this offseason. In the four games Ngata missed, the Ravens allowed just under 3.6 yards per carry, which was right in line with the 3.6 yards per attempt allowed for the entire season.

While the offense struggled to find consistency in the final month of the season, the defense continued to excel without Ngata to help the Ravens qualify for the postseason with a 3-1 finish.

“It kind of got us ready for this point right here,” Williams said. “Haloti’s not here, so [Jernigan is] going to have to step it up. Someone’s going to have to step up — whoever it is. And we still had a great defensive line when Haloti had his stint away [on suspension]. It will be fine.”

Mosley on mend

Ravens inside linebacker C.J. Mosley continues to wear a protective cast over his surgically-repaired left wrist, which will likely lead to him being limited in organized team activities set to begin next month.

“I’m going to do everything I can. I don’t know how much physical stuff I can do,” Mosley said. “But I’m going to be out on the field definitely.”

Mosley has visions of building on a successful rookie year in which he was the only player in the NFL to collect at least 125 tackles, three sacks, and two interceptions. He finished second behind St. Louis Rams defensive tackle Aaron Donald for Defensive Rookie of the Year.

Becoming the first rookie to make the Pro Bowl in franchise history, Mosley is currently limited in his ability to lift weights, but the 17th overall pick of last year’s draft is upbeat about his progress after he initially injured the wrist in December.

“Everything is progressing,” Mosley said. “I haven’t had any major setbacks so far, so I’m just getting back into it with the workouts and everything.”

Marlon Brown excited to work with Trestman

Wide receiver Marlon Brown isn’t paying much attention to the speculation of the Ravens needing to draft another receiver, but he cracked a big smile when asked about his early impressions of new offensive coordinator Marc Trestman.

The 6-foot-5 Brown took notice of how Trestman used bigger wide receivers Brandon Marshall and Alshon Jeffery in Chicago and expects big things from himself in his third season.

“He’s so excited and so detailed about the offense,” said Brown about Trestman. “I like that he’s breaking it down, so the whole team can understand the aspects of the offense and everything. I’m loving him.”

It’s no secret that Brown struggled to find his way in his second year after the offseason signing of veteran Steve Smith and the implementation of Gary Kubiak’s offensive system, but the tall wideout eventually became a solid option on third down, finishing with 24 catches for 255 yards.

Depending on whether the Ravens add a wideout in this year’s draft, Brown could find himself with many more opportunities as he competes with the likes of Kamar Aiken and Michael Campanaro. The continuity that Trestman wants to maintain will certainly help as the Ravens try to replace the production of Torrey Smith and tight end Owen Daniels, who both departed via free agency.

“There’s been a couple changes with alignment issues and verbiage maybe,” Brown said. “Other than that, everything is pretty much the same.”

Attendance strong for first week of offseason program

The Ravens officially began their voluntary offseason conditioning program this week with attendance estimated to be in the high 50s, according to head strength and conditioning coach Bob Rogucki.

Sixty-three players are currently listed under contract on the Ravens’ official website, but that doesn’t include restricted free agents and exclusive-rights free agents who have yet to sign their tenders. Since the program is voluntary, the organization is cognizant of new training methods being introduced every year and tries to implement them to make it more attractive for as many players as possible to train at the Owing Mills facility.

“We try to bring something in every year just to add a change to what we do,” Rogucki said. “Our method and philosophy stays the same. If we don’t bring something new in, there’s going to be something out there that we’re not aware of. Players may find it and see it, so we try to keep up on the trend that’s out there. That’s just good business on our part.”

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suggsflacco

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2015 schedule features five prime-time games for Ravens

Posted on 21 April 2015 by Luke Jones

Despite being featured in five prime-time games, the Ravens will face the daunting task of playing five of their first seven contests on the road to begin the 2015 regular season.

Baltimore will open a season with two road games for the first time since 2010 as long trips to Denver and Oakland await. The Ravens are playing five of the first seven on the road for the first time since 2000, a season that culminated with the franchise’s first Super Bowl title.

After beginning the season with two straight home games last year, the Ravens start the regular season in Denver for the second time in three years. Of course, the season-opening game against the Broncos will bring back the bad feelings of not beginning the season at home as the defending Super Bowl champions two years ago and subsequently being blown out as Peyton Manning threw seven touchdown passes in a nationally-televised Thursday night game.

The Ravens open their home schedule in Week 3 by welcoming the Cincinnati Bengals to town.

For the second straight year, both Baltimore-Pittsburgh games will be played in prime time as the Ravens travel to Heinz Field for a Thursday night game on Oct. 1 and Pittsburgh comes to M&T Bank Stadium for a Sunday night game on Dec. 27. The Steelers played a Thursday night game in Baltimore last season, but the Ravens will host a Sunday night game against their biggest rival for the first time since 2010.

These AFC North rivals will now have played at least one game in prime time in nine consecutive years.

The schedule features three other prime-time games as the Ravens play Monday night games at Arizona on Oct. 26 and in Cleveland on Nov. 30. Nine of Baltimore’s last 10 Monday night games have been scheduled on the road.

Baltimore will host another Sunday night game against the defending NFC champion Seattle Seahawks in Week 14.

For the fourth time in the last five seasons, the Ravens will conclude the regular season in Cincinnati. The Bengals have been Baltimore’s opponent in the regular-season finale five times in the last six years.

While many will focus on having to play five road games in the first seven weeks, the most brutal aspect of the Ravens’ schedule is two different occurrences of back-to-back road games involving a great deal of travel as Baltimore plays San Francisco and Arizona in Weeks 5 and 6 after their first two games at Denver and Oakland. However, the organization had asked the league to schedule their road games in San Francisco and Oakland in consecutive weeks with the thought of staying on the West Coast, so you wonder if the Ravens will get creative with their travel plans for either of those stretches.

The five prime-time games are the Ravens’ highest total since the 2011 season.

The Ravens will play seven games against playoff teams from last season: Pittsburgh (twice), Cincinnati (twice), Denver, Seattle, and Arizona. Baltimore has five games against opponents who finished below .500 in 2014: Cleveland (twice), Jacksonville, Oakland, and St. Louis.

2015 SCHEDULE

Sunday, Sept. 13 at Denver Broncos – 4:25 p.m.
Skinny: The Ravens will recognize the familiar faces of Gary Kubiak and Owen Daniels, but how much will Peyton Manning have left at age 39?

Sunday, Sept. 20 at Oakland Raiders – 4:05 p.m.
Skinny: They’re still the Raiders, but the presence of young quarterback Derek Carr gives new head coach Jack Del Rio some hope that his predecessors never enjoyed.

Sunday, Sept. 27 vs. Cincinnati Bengals – 1:00 p.m.
Skinny: Four straight trips to the playoffs is a nice feat, but Andy Dalton no longer inspires confidence that he’ll lead this franchise to its first playoff win since Jan. 6, 1991.

Thursday, Oct. 1 vs. Pittsburgh Steelers – 8:25 p.m. (CBS/NFL Network)
Skinny: Troy Polamalu and Haloti Ngata are the latest great players to depart this rivalry, but the Ravens earning their first playoff win over the Steelers in Pittsburgh last January brings new energy.

Sunday, Oct. 11 vs. Cleveland Browns – 1:00 p.m.
Skinny: Until they find a quarterback, it’s difficult envisioning the Browns earning their first win in Baltimore since Mike Pettine was a member of Brian Billick’s staff.

Sunday, Oct. 18 at San Francisco 49ers – 4:25 p.m.
Skinny: Torrey Smith will be out to prove to the Ravens that they made a mistake letting him walk, but the shine is gone from this once-budding rivalry with Jim Harbaugh now in Ann Arbor.

Monday, Oct. 26 at Arizona Cardinals – 8:30 p.m. (ESPN)
Skinny: Making their first trip to Arizona since 2003, the Ravens will face a team that would have been interesting to watch last January if something called a Ryan Lindley hadn’t been playing quarterback.

Sunday, Nov. 1 vs. San Diego Chargers – 1:00 p.m.
Skinny: The Chargers handed Baltimore a stunning loss at M&T Bank Stadium last year, but will Philip Rivers still be their quarterback this time around?

Sunday, Nov. 8 — BYE

Sunday, Nov. 15 vs. Jacksonville Jaguars – 1:00 p.m.
Skinny: The Jaguars hung tough against the Ravens last year and added Pro Bowl tight end Julius Thomas, but they haven’t won in Baltimore since Mark Brunell was their quarterback.

Sunday, Nov. 22 vs. St. Louis Rams — 1:00 p.m.
Skinny: It generally doesn’t bode well for your franchise when people are focusing more on your future home than your prospects for the 2015 season.

Monday, Nov. 30 at Cleveland Browns – 8:30 p.m. (ESPN)
Skinny: The Browns really aren’t playing in those god-awful new uniforms this year, right?

Sunday, Dec. 6 at Miami Dolphins – 1:00 p.m.
Skinny: Counting the postseason, the Ravens have won four straight games in Miami and should consider having their mail delivered to Sun Life Stadium with the number of Baltimore fans who have traveled their for the last couple contests.

Sunday, Dec. 13 vs. Seattle Seahawks – 8:30 p.m. (NBC)
Skinny: A meeting between two of the last three Super Bowl champions is a marquee game on the 2015 NFL calendar as Seattle comes to Baltimore for the first time since 2003.

Sunday, Dec. 20 vs. Kansas City – 1:00 p.m.
Skinny: The Ravens haven’t lost to Kansas City in over a decade, but facing former mentor Andy Reid always means a little extra for John Harbaugh.

Sunday, Dec. 27 vs. Pittsburgh Steelers – 8:30 p.m. (NBC)
Skinny: NBC can’t get enough of Baltimore-Pittsburgh as the network will broadcast one of these rivalry games for the sixth consecutive season.

Sunday, Jan. 3 at Cincinnati Bengals – 1:00 p.m.
Skinny: The Ravens haven’t won a game at Paul Brown Stadium since 2011, which sets this one up to be another crucial encounter with playoff implications.

Notes: In a move that was initiated last season, flexible scheduling can be applied in Weeks 5 through 10. During that period, flexible scheduling can be used in no more than two weeks by moving a Sunday afternoon game into prime time and moving the Sunday night game to the afternoon.

Another recently-implemented wrinkle will be a select number of games being “cross-flexed,” moving between CBS and FOX to bring some games to wider audiences.

Flexible scheduling will still be used in Weeks 11 through 17 as it has been in past years. In Weeks 11-16, the schedule lists the games tentatively set for Sunday Night Football on NBC. Only Sunday afternoon games are eligible to be moved to Sunday night, in which case the tentatively scheduled Sunday night game would be moved to an afternoon start time.

Flexible scheduling cannot be applied to games airing on Thursday, Saturday, or Monday nights.

A scheduling change would be announced at least 12 days before the game. For Week 17, the Sunday night game is announced no later than six days prior to Jan. 3.

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Ravens reach contract extension with cornerback Jimmy Smith

Posted on 21 April 2015 by Luke Jones

A little over a week away from the NFL draft, the Ravens have reached a contract extension with one of their best draft picks in recent years by coming to terms with cornerback Jimmy Smith.

Originally scheduled to earn $6.898 million in the fifth-year team option of his rookie contract this season, Smith will now make up to $48 million over the next five years with $21 million fully guaranteed, according to Pro Football Talk. The extension includes a $13 million signing bonus, a guaranteed $1 million base salary for 2015, and a $7 million guaranteed base salary next season, per multiple outlets.

The 2011 first-round pick was in the midst of the best season of his career when he suffered a season-ending foot injury last October. Graded by Pro Football Focus as the ninth-best cornerback in the NFL through the first seven weeks of 2014, Smith suffered a Lisfranc injury against Cincinnati on Oct. 26 that eventually required season-ending surgery on his left foot.

“For me, it was never truly about being the highest-paid corner,” Smith said. “I know I couldn’t be that on this team and be here just because of the talent already spread around. You have to pay other people. I knew that going into this [that it] would be that with the injury and all that. All those things came to mind, but it worked out.”

Smith had collected 28 tackles, an interception, and six pass breakups prior to the injury. The 6-foot-2 corner has secured five interceptions in his career.

After two disappointing and injury-riddled seasons to begin his NFL career, Smith is a good example of exercising patience with draft picks who don’t immediately blossom into starters. To show how far the Colorado product has come in two years, he began the 2012 postseason as the No. 4 cornerback behind even Chykie Brown on the depth chart before eventually making key plays on the final defensive series to protect a 34-31 win over San Francisco in Super Bowl XLVII.

General manager Ozzie Newsome made it clear this offseason that keeping Smith in Baltimore beyond the 2015 season would be a priority. The Ravens would also like to sign guards Marshal Yanda and Kelechi Osemele and kicker Justin Tucker to long-term deals as they enter the final year of their current contracts.

“I think that his best football is still ahead of him,” Newsome said. “If he doesn’t get hurt in the Cincinnati game last year, I don’t know where he could have ended up as a player, but he was definitely trending up. I just want to thank Jimmy for committing five more years of football to us, and I’m looking forward to it.”

The deal does not come without some risk, however, as Smith has battled a number of injuries throughout his career and missed 17 games in his first four seasons.

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