Tag Archive | "Bernard Pollard"

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Yanda, Pollard absent from practice for third straight day

Posted on 14 December 2012 by Luke Jones

OWINGS MILLS, Md. — Two more players returned to the practice field for the Ravens on Friday, but the status of Pro Bowl guard Marshal Yanda and safety Bernard Pollard remains in doubt as both missed their third straight workout ahead of Sunday’s game against the Denver Broncos.

Fullback Vonta Leach (ankle) and defensive end Pernell McPhee (thigh) were present and dressed out to practice for the first time this week during the portion open for media viewing, but Yanda (ankle) and Pollard (chest) haven’t practiced all week. Yanda is dealing with a significant ankle sprain while Pollard aggravated the sore ribs he’s played with for most of the season.

Should neither Yanda nor Pollard play this weekend, Bobbie Williams and James Ihedigbo would presumably fill in at their positions.

Linebackers Ray Lewis (triceps), Terrell Suggs (biceps), and Dannell Ellerbe (ankle), defensive lineman Arthur Jones (shoulder), tight end Ed Dickson (knee), and running backs Ray Rice (hip) and Bernard Pierce (back) were all present after all practiced in some capacity on Thursday.

Of that group, the three linebackers are considered to be the only question marks. Lewis remains on injured reserve and would need to be placed on the 53-man roster by 4 p.m. on Saturday in order to potentially play against Denver. Suggs described himself as a game-time decision on Thursday while Ellerbe has missed each of the last two games with the ankle injury he suffered against San Diego on Nov. 25.

Suggs was listed as a full participant while Ellerbe was designated as limited on Thursday. Because he is not on the active roster, Lewis isn’t required to be included on the injury report.

Linebacker Jameel McClain (neck) was officially ruled out for the Denver game on Wednesday.

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Ravens hoping to avoid being held up by “pistol” attack

Posted on 06 December 2012 by Luke Jones

OWINGS MILLS, Md. — A pair of rookies in Washington has given NFL defenses fits all season long as the Ravens will become the latest team to encounter Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III and running back Alfred Morris on Sunday afternoon.

As if their talents alone weren’t challenging enough, the use of the pistol formation and the option attack have made it even more difficult to contain Washington’s top-ranked rushing attack. The alignment involves Griffin lining up in an abbreviated shotgun look — four yards behind the center — with Morris lining up behind him. This allows the quarterback to get a better look at the defensive alignment and often dupes defensive fronts into focusing on motion in the backfield instead of playing assignments and maintaining gap control.

On what do you key to slow the unique offensive scheme? Is it the zone stretch plays or occasional inside handoffs to Morris, who enters Week 14 tied for third in the NFL with 1,106 rushing yards? Is the focus on Griffin’s speed and athleticism that have led to 714 rushing yards and six touchdowns? Or on his impressive passing skills in play-action that have led to the league’s third-best quarterback rating at 104.4?

What’s the most crucial factor?

“Discipline,” linebacker Jameel McClain said. “Discipline, because you must count on the next man. You must because everybody is going to have a certain assignment and if one person falls off his assignment, everything collapses. It’s definitely the understanding that we are all on a chain.”

Facing an offense with so many moving parts and possibilities — including fullback Darrel Young and tight end Logan Paulsen who will occasionally flank Griffin in the pistol — it’s important for each defender to focus less on the movement in the backfield and more on his specific job on a given play. Unlike most passing-challenged quarterbacks who run the option in college, however, Griffin’s rare blend of physical tools makes stopping the novelty offense much more of a headache.

The Ravens can only hope practice squad quarterback Dennis Dixon can provide the type of look needed to prepare the defense for Griffin’s play-making ability.

“Have your eyes on what your responsibility is,” defensive coordinator Dean Pees said. “If it’s a dive, if it’s the quarterback, if it’s the pitch in the option, whatever it is, having your eyes on what you have. You have a responsibility, you have a technique, and you have to perform that thing.”

The Redskins have relied on the running game for most of the season — with Griffin’s legs heavily involved as well — but the return of top wide receiver Pierre Garcon has allowed the Washington passing attack to take off in recent weeks.

In his last three games, Griffin has tossed nine touchdown passes compared to one interception, including back-to-back four-touchdown games against Philadelphia and Dallas. Meanwhile, Garcon — limited all season with a foot injury — has caught 12 passes for 192 yards and two touchdowns in his last two games.

Garcon’s return from injury has transformed an ordinary group of wide receivers that includes Santana Moss and Josh Morgan into a dangerous unit Baltimore defensive backs must stay with in coverage despite the temptation of keeping their eyes in the backfield at the Redskins’ rushing attack.

All other factors aside, Washington’s offensive success begins and ends with Griffin, the No. 2 overall pick of April’s draft. A threat to run or pass while rolling out or standing in the pocket, there’s no simple way to stop him as few defenses have been successful in slowing him down despite the Redskins’ underwhelming 6-6 record.

“He’s the perfect quarterback for that [offense],” said McClain, who hasn’t played against an option attack since his days at Syracuse facing Pat White and West Virginia. “He has the arm to get all of the passes done out of that, and he definitely goes through with all the actions. Everybody knows he has the speed, so it’s going to be a great challenge for us.”

Sunday might be the rare instance in which the Ravens’ inconsistent pass rush — which could be without linebacker Terrell Suggs — might be a blessing in disguise with Griffin a threat to leave the pocket at any moment.

Pees’ defense will still try to make Griffin uncomfortable when he drops back, but out-of-control spins and moves in which pass rushers crash inside will defer to proper positioning at the line of scrimmage to collapse the pocket while keeping the rookie quarterback surrounded. Unlike the manner in which teams dealt with athletic quarterback Michael Vick early in his career, however, teams have a greater fear of this rookie quarterback burning them with his throwing arm if they simply allow him to stand tall in the pocket.

A defense can play its assignment, but there’s only so much you can do after that from a schematic standpoint against a rare talent like his.

“You need to still rush the passer,” Pees said. “You can’t go in there thinking this guy is going to scramble. You have to come in with the right leverage, the right spot. He may still get out of it because he is such a great athlete. I can’t coach [against] athleticism — you really can’t.”

If all else breaks down for the Baltimore defense in trying to attack the many layers of Washington’s pistol formation, the Ravens won’t hesitate in simplifying their approach against Griffin and the entire offense.

“We’ve got to hit him,” safety Bernard Pollard said. “Every chance we get. Just hit him, hit whoever has the ball.”


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Ravens linebacker Lewis not back on practice field in first day eligible

Posted on 29 November 2012 by Luke Jones

OWINGS MILLS, Md. — On the first day in which he could return to the practice field, Ravens inside linebacker Ray Lewis wasn’t ready to join his teammates just yet.

Placed on injured reserve with the designation to return on Oct. 17, the 37-year-old was eligible to begin practicing on Thursday after six weeks on IR. However, Lewis would not be allowed to play in a game for another two weeks, which would make him eligible to play in Week 15 against the Denver Broncos at the earliest.

Lewis returned to the team’s Owings Mills facility earlier this week to continue rehabbing from surgery on his right triceps tear as coach John Harbaugh described his status as “day-by-day” and did not project an imminent return for the 17-year veteran.

“He’s trying everything that he can to get back,” defensive coordinator Dean Pees said. “There are guys that would — with not even that many years [in the league] — say, ‘Oh well. I’ve had a great career. I’m going to the Hall of Fame. What the heck?’ It’s just not like that with him. That’s what pros do. There’s no quit.”

The Ravens were also without tight end Ed Dickson (knee), linebacker Dannell Ellerbe (ankle), wide receiver Jacoby Jones (ankle), and safety Bernard Pollard (chest). Pollard practiced on a limited basis Wednesday before sitting out Thursday’s workout while the other three have now missed two straight practices this week.

Cornerback Corey Graham returned to the practice field a day after being stricken with a stomach bug.

Wide receiver Torrey Smith (thigh), cornerback Chris Johnson (hamstring), defensive end Pernell McPhee (knee-thigh), and safety Ed Reed (shoulder) were also present and working after being listed as limited participants on Wednesday’s injury report.

The Steelers added starting nose tackle Casey Hampton to Thursday’s injury report as he was dealing with an illness.

Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger practiced on a limited basis for the second straight day, but reports continue to paint a dark picture for his status on Sunday afternoon. Ed Bouchette of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette says “it does not look good” for the Pittsburgh signal-caller to make his return against the Ravens on Sunday.

Safety Troy Polamalu and wide receiver Antonio Brown each practiced fully for the second straight day, making their respective returns to the field Sunday all but certain barring a setback.

OUT: CB Jimmy Smith (abs)
DID NOT PARTICIPATE: S Bernard Pollard (chest), TE Ed Dickson (knee), LB Dannell Ellerbe (ankle, knee, finger), WR Jacoby Jones (ankle)
LIMITED PARTICIPATION: CB Chris Johnson (thigh), DE Pernell McPhee (thigh), S Ed Reed (shoulder)
FULL PARTICIPATION: CB Corey Graham (illness), WR Anquan Boldin (knee), DT Terrence Cody (elbow), TE Dennis Pitta (neck), LB Terrell Suggs (ankle), WR Torrey Smith (thigh)

DID NOT PARTICIPATE: T Mike Adams (ankle), T Willie Colon (knee), QB Byron Leftwich (ribs), LB LaMarr Woodley (ankle), DT Casey Hampton (illness)
LIMITED PARTICIPATION: WR Jerricho Cotchery (ribs), QB Ben Roethlishberger (right shoulder)
FULL PARTICIPATION:  T Max Starks (back), WR Antonio Brown (ankle), S Troy Polamalu (calf)


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Ngata, Reed, four other Ravens leading way in Pro Bowl voting

Posted on 29 November 2012 by Luke Jones

Learning the 9-2 Ravens have six players leading their respective positions in voting for the Pro bowl is no surprise, but the list of names is a change from the past with linebackers Ray Lewis and Terrell Suggs missing large portions of the season with injuries.

Free safety Ed Reed, defensive tackle Haloti Ngata, and fullback Vonta Leach each made the Pro Bowl last season for the Ravens and are once again leading their respective positions in the voting. Joining them are cornerback Cary Williams, strong safety Bernard Pollard, and kick returner Jacoby Jones when the latest voting totals were released on Wednesday.

Often maligned by Ravens fans, Williams has played better as the season has progressed and is tied for the AFC lead with four interceptions. Pollard leads the team with 82 tackles this season with the perennial leader Lewis being sidelined for the last five games with a torn right triceps. Neither defensive back has been selected to the Pro Bowl in their respective careers.

Jones appears to be the favorite in the AFC to go to Honolulu as a kick returner after being named AFC Special Teams Player of the Week twice this season. He has returned two kickoffs for touchdowns and his 63-yard punt return for a touchdown was the difference in the Ravens’ 13-10 win over Pittsburgh two weeks ago.

The news of Reed and Ngata leading their respective spots is no shock, but their underwhelming performances — at least by their incredible standards — would leave their inclusion up for debate. Reed is an eight-time selection to the game while Ngata has been named to the last three Pro Bowls. Leach is a two-time Pro Bowl selection at the fullback position, one coming in his first season in Baltimore and another with Houston in 2010.

Ngata leads the team with 219,581 votes and is followed in order by Williams (141,660), Leach (127,610), Reed (84,017), Jones (80,278), and Pollard (57,875).

Voting continues through Dec. 17, and teams will be announced on Dec. 26. The Pro Bowl will be played on Jan. 27, 2013 in Honolulu.

The AFC and NFC teams are selected based on voting by players, coaches, and fans with each counting for one-third of the final outcome.

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Our Ravens/Raiders “Pats on the Ass”

Posted on 11 November 2012 by Glenn Clark

After every Baltimore Ravens victory, Ryan Chell and I take to the airwaves on “The Nasty Purple Postgame Show” on AM1570 WNST.net to offer “Pats on the Ass” to players who have done something to deserve the honor.

We give pats to two defensive players, two offensive players and one “Wild Card”-either another offensive or defensive player, a Special Teams player or a coach. We offer a “Pat on Both Cheeks” to someone who stands out, our version of a “Player of the Game.” Ryan and I select five different players/coaches each.

Here are our “Pats on the Ass” following the Ravens’ 55-20 win over the Oakland Raiders at M&T Bank Stadium…

Glenn Clark’s Pats…

5. Anquan Boldin

4. Dennis Pitta

3. Cary Williams

2. Bernard Pollard

1. Cam Cameron (Pat on Both Cheeks)

(Ryan’s Pats on Page 2…)

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Our Ravens/Texans “Slaps to the Head”

Posted on 21 October 2012 by Glenn Clark

After Baltimore Ravens victories, Ryan Chell and I award players who made positive contributions with “Pats on the Ass” during the “Nasty Purple Postgame Show” on AM1570 WNST.net.

The Ravens fell to the Houston Texans 43-13 Sunday at Reliant Stadium, meaning there were no Pats to be awarded.

So instead of offering “Pats on the Ass”, Ryan and I again offered “Slaps to the Head” postgame. A slap on the side of the head from a coach tends to come along with them saying something along the lines of “you’ve gotta do better than that.”

Same rules as there were with Pats. Two offensive players, two defensive players, and a Wild Card (Special Teams player, coach, or another Offensive or Defensive player). One player gets “two slaps” (or a slap on both sides of the head), it’s the opposite of a “Player of the Game” honor.” Ryan and I select five different players/coaches after each game.

Here are our five Ravens that have “gotta do better than that.”

(NOTE: Not all photos from today, some photos courtesy of Houston Chronicle.)

Glenn Clark’s Slaps…

5. Christian Thompson

4. Terrence Cody

3. Michael Oher

2. Jimmy Smith

1. Joe Flacco (Two slaps)

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Ravens survive against Dallas, but defensive crisis gets worse

Posted on 14 October 2012 by Luke Jones

BALTIMORE — There was plenty of talk in the locker room about the Ravens being 5-1 after their scary 31-29 win over the Dallas Cowboys that came down to a 51-yard miss from kicker Dan Bailey with two seconds remaining.

They survived and even improved their footing atop the AFC North after losses by the Cincinnati Bengals and Pittsburgh Steelers in Week 6. However, safety Bernard Pollard wasn’t in the mood to sugarcoat a defensive performance that included a franchise-record 227 rushing yards allowed, the second straight week the Baltimore defense had allowed more than 200 yards on the ground.

Dallas scored 29 points, gained 481 yards of offense, and held the ball for over 40 minutes while the Ravens offense received few opportunities in just 49 total plays to the Cowboys’ 79.

“I’m the one who’s going to give it to you straight; we have to get better,” said safety Bernard Pollard, who was quick to point out several mistakes he made during the 31-29 win over the Dallas Cowboys. “Our team is very talented, our defense is very talented, but missed assignments and missed tackles are putting us in the position where it’s a dogfight every game. We’ll draw on that, but we have to get better.”

Even uglier than the stats was the plethora of injuries suffered by Dean Pees’ defense, headlined by a potential ACL injury to the left knee of cornerback Lardarius Webb. The fourth-year defensive back tore the ACL in his right knee in the final month of the 2009 season and has been the Ravens’ top cornerback over the last two seasons. The mood in the locker room suggested a gloomy prognosis for the remainder of Webb’s 2012 season.

Inside linebacker Ray Lewis suffered a triceps injury, which might sideline him for an extended period depending on the results of an MRI Sunday night. The Ravens fear it could be torn, which would keep the defense’s spiritual leader out for multiple weeks.

Cornerback Jimmy Smith (leg), nose tackle Ma’ake Kemoeatu (knee), and defensive tackle Haloti Ngata (sprained MCL) also missed time during Sunday’s win.

Blessed with good fortune from a health standpoint through the first five weeks of the season, the Ravens were viewing this coming week as the potential light at the end of the tunnel for their defensive struggles with linebacker Terrell Suggs eligible to begin playing after being placed on the physically unable to perform list to start the season.

The Ravens somehow survived down the stretch as Graham and second-year defensive back Chykie Brown filled in for Webb and Smith after the reserves received little time in practice at those spots. Both will obviously be asked to do more defensively moving forward, but the reality of a secondary without Webb is one that will surely keep the Baltimore coaching staff awake on Sunday night.

“There’s a lot that goes into this thing, there’s a lot of moving parts,” coach John Harbaugh said. “For our coaches to get the guys coached up on the run, just to get 11 guys on the field is a challenge at times. They were in different personnel groupings and different packages, so our coaches did a great job, and our players did a great job.”

It was difficult to gauge the full effect of Webb’s loss as Dallas — ranked 29th in the league with 67.8 rushing yards per game entering Sunday — relied on the running game to move the ball at will against the Ravens defense for most the afternoon, averaging 5.4 yards per carry. While starting running back DeMarco Murray and backup Felix Jones are household names, even reserve backs Phillip Tanner and Lance Dunbar were able to gain ground against the Ravens’ front seven.

The Ravens entered Week 6 ranked 20th in run defense and had appeared to sure up their ability to stop the run prior to their trip to Kansas City last week before allowing Jamaal Charles to rush for 125 yards in the first half. Now, the defense knows it has a target on its back after failing to slow a rushing attack for the second straight week.

“I don’t like it. I think it’s disgusting,” Ngata said. “We need to fix it right away, because we have a good Houston team that we’re going to play against next week. We’ve just got to find out what we need to do and fix those things. Hopefully, we can get better as the weeks go along.”

The potential losses of Webb and Lewis spell bad news for a defense looking ahead to the return of Suggs to aid a pedestrian pass rush through the first six weeks of the season. And while those defensive losses won’t necessarily doom a team that already enjoys a two-game lead in its division, it will put more pressure on quarterback Joe Flacco and the offense to lead the Ravens to victories.

The Ravens will now rely on Smith to play more extensively in the base defense and ask special-teams standout Corey Graham to play in the nickel package. Webb’s ability to play the run and blitz from the nickel position will also be major blows to the defense.

Lewis would be replaced by reserve Dannell Ellerbe, but the emotional loss of the 37-year-old linebacker being out isn’t one to completely dismiss.

The Ravens will simply say it’s time for the next players in line to emerge in the injured’s place, but every unit has its breaking point. And it’s tough to imagine the Ravens not being dangerously close to that position.

Even if they are 5-1 and sitting pretty in the AFC North.

“It’s difficult, but we can’t allow [injuries] to stop us,” cornerback Cary Williams said. “We have to continue to get better each and every week. We have to step up to the challenge, and we’re going to be challenged. The schedule doesn’t get any easier.”

And the Ravens are fortunate to have given themselves a margin for error.

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Our Ravens/Cowboys “Pats on the Ass”

Posted on 14 October 2012 by Glenn Clark

After every Baltimore Ravens victory, Ryan Chell and I take to the airwaves on “The Nasty Purple Postgame Show” on AM1570 WNST.net to offer “Pats on the Ass” to players who have done something to deserve the honor.

We give pats to two defensive players, two offensive players and one “Wild Card”-either another offensive or defensive player, a Special Teams player or a coach. We offer a “Pat on Both Cheeks” to someone who stands out, our version of a “Player of the Game.” Ryan and I select five different players/coaches each.

Here are our “Pats on the Ass” following the Ravens’ 31-29 win over Dallas Cowboys at M&T Bank Stadium…

(Note: Not all photos are from today’s game, some photos provided by Fort Worth Star-Telegram…)

Glenn Clark’s Pats…

5. Anthony Allen

4. Jimmy Smith

3. Cary Williams

2. Joe Flacco

1. Ray Rice (Pat on Both Cheeks)

(Ryan’s Pats on Page 2…)

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Ravens passing attack preparing for physical Chiefs secondary

Posted on 04 October 2012 by Luke Jones

OWINGS MILLS, Md. — Seeing the Ravens among the top offensive teams in the NFL is enough to make you blink twice after years of riding the coattail of the defense, but it represents a changing of the guard in Baltimore.

Through the first four games of the season, the Ravens rank second in total offense and fifth in points per game while their defense has slipped to 23rd overall in yards allowed this season. Much of the offensive improvement falls on the shoulders of fifth-year quarterback Joe Flacco, who is on pace for his first 5,000-yard season when he has yet to even throw for 4,000 in a season.

However, Flacco would be the first to tell you his expanded set of weapons in the passing game has helped him immensely as the addition of the speedy Jacoby Jones and the improvement of 2011 second-round pick Torrey Smith have led to a more dynamic passing game, which ranks fourth in the league in yardage. Baltimore leads the league with 26 plays of 20-or-more yards this season, with 24 coming through the air.

“[Defenses] definitely have to decide how to play us,” Flacco said. “They’ve tried to take those guys away, and sometimes they’ve left them one-on-one out there. In either situation, I think we’ve done a good job of running routes underneath and winning underneath.”

The one week in which the Baltimore receivers seemed to be outmatched came against the Philadelphia Eagles as cornerbacks Nnamdi Asomugha and Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie played press coverage with a single deep safety for much of the afternoon. Ravens wideouts were held to just six catches for 85 yards, with Jones catching a 21-yard touchdown in the second quarter.

Flacco attempted 42 passes against the Eagles but only targeted wide receivers 12 times as he instead looked at tight ends Dennis Pitta and Ed Dickson and running back Ray Rice. He averaged only 5.5 yards per attempt in the Ravens’ 24-23 loss.

Possessing the league’s 13th-ranked pass defense, the Kansas City Chiefs will employ a similar defensive style with their 3-4 alignment as opposed to the Eagles’ 4-3 scheme.

“They are playing bump-and-run Cover 1, a lot of single-high coverage,” offensive coordinator Cam Cameron said. “They feel good about their inside linebackers’ ability to cover. They like their ability to get edge pressure to help their secondary. So, I like the way they’re aggressive. Most teams that can play bump-and-run man-to-man play Cover 1, they can give you some problems.”

Comparatively speaking, cornerback Brandon Flowers brings a physical presence similar to Rodgers-Cromartie while Stanford Routt is more of a speed coverage back like Asomugha. Neither is as talented as the tandem in Philadelphia, but the Chiefs also have one of the best young safeties in the league in Eric Berry to offer assistance in coverage.

Going back through the last few seasons, receivers have struggled to beat press coverage and gain separation against more physical defensive backs and it’s a strategy the Ravens will once again encounter in Kansas City. If Flacco cannot find open targets, he will face heat from outside linebackers Tamba Hali and Justin Houston coming around the edges.

The Kansas City defense showed its potential last season in handing the 13-0 Packers their only loss of the regular season as they sacked quarterback Aaron Rodgers four times and held him to only 235 yards passing on 35 attempts while holding their talented wide receivers in check.

“You better be able to run through those seven yards, get yourself free, get yourself clean, get some separation so Joe can get the ball out,” Cameron said. “These guys do an outstanding job rushing the passer. You saw last year when Green Bay went in there undefeated and they got a ton of pressure on Rodgers. The combination of their coverage and their pressure is the toughest part.”

Pollard not feeling sentimental

Strong safety Bernard Pollard began his NFL career in Kansas City where he was a second-round selection in the 2006 draft.

Playing for then-coach Herman Edwards, Pollard spent three seasons with the Chiefs and amassed 189 tackles, three interceptions, and one sack in his time there. However, the seventh-year safety says he doesn’t view the game with any special significance.

“It’s not about me. A lot of guys on this team have been on other teams,” Pollard said. “It’s not about that individual. It’s about us as a team going into a hostile environment and getting a win.”

However, Pollard went on to discuss how many of his former teammates remain in Kansas City, including running back Jamaal Charles as the two spent the 2008 season together before Pollard wound up in Houston a year later. That year, Charles was a rookie from the University of Texas.

The Baltimore defensive player credited his former teammates for hanging tough in Kansas City after a rough start to the 2011 season that included season-ending injuries to Charles and Berry and the dismissal of head coach Todd Haley. Pollard is anxious to face the talented Charles, who ranks second in the NFL with 415 rushing yards.

“It’s going to be fun being able to see him,” Pollard said. “Just to see him become the player that he is. When they drafted him in the third round, just to see him now, the guy is a very talented player. That’s what Herm wanted. You look at a lot of players that they have, Herm drafted a lot of those men that are key athletes on their team.”

Injury report


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Smith’s status remains fluid as preparations begin for Cleveland

Posted on 24 September 2012 by Luke Jones

OWINGS MILLS, Md. — A day after turning in a remarkable two-touchdown performance in the Ravens’ 31-30 victory over the New England Patriots, wide receiver Torrey Smith returned to Virginia to be with his family as they continue to mourn the loss of his 19-year-old brother Tevin Jones.

Head coach John Harbaugh and the Ravens are working under the assumption that Smith will play against the Cleveland Browns on Thursday, but the family must make funeral arrangements while dealing with the loss of a family member. The Ravens dedicated their victory to Smith’s late brother after the second-year wide receiver caught six passes for 127 yards and two touchdowns.

“Again, it will be up to him,” Harbaugh said. “I don’t want to speak for him on that, and he hasn’t made any definitive statement to me about it. He is with his family today, and he plans on being back here [Tuesday]. We’ll just play it by ear and see how he is doing.”

Smith announced on his official Twitter page that the family has created a scholarship to honor the memory of his younger sibling.

Teammates expressed support via social media and expressed how proud they were to have Smith as a teammate following the win on Sunday night.

“He’s got two families, he knows that we have his back,” running back Ray Rice. “We’re facing a different fight with everything that’s been going on the past few weeks with Art Modell [passing away]. We’ve all been playing with a chip on our shoulder. Torrey Smith is one of the hardest working guys on the team, so he would have had to have been broken to not play.”

Bulkier Ngata feeling stronger early

Defensive tackle Haloti Ngata’s weight gain earned attention this offseason when he reported to June’s mandatory minicamp looking noticeably heavier than he was lat season.

Ngata told reporters he weighed 342 pounds during the preseason and bulked up from his playing weight of 325 pounds last season. The three-time Pro Bowl defensive lineman felt he wasn’t strong enough as the 2011 season progressed and was also dealing with a deep thigh bruise as the year went on.

Three games into the new season, the 28-year-old is pleased with how he’s performed at the higher weight. His conditioning has not appeared to be an issue as some thought it might as Ngata took 77 of the Ravens’ 82 defensive snaps against New England.

“I definitely feel the power,” said Ngata, who expressed a need for the front four to pressure the quarterback more consistently. “I’m pushing back the lineman a little bit more and able to get some knockbacks. That’s been good, so hopefully I can just continue that throughout the season.”

Ngata has 16 tackles with 2 1/2 sacks and one pass breakup this season. He is tied with linebacker Dannell Ellerbe for the team lead in sacks.

The defensive tackle has admitted to putting more pressure on himself to contribute in the pass rush as the Ravens play without Pro Bowl linebacker Terrell Suggs.

“He’s playing really well,” Harbaugh said. “He’s a guy that we expect to play at the highest level; he’s a guy that we need to play at the highest level, and Haloti’s doing that.”

One eye ahead, one eye back

Playing their next game roughly 96 hours after their prime-time contest against New England, the Ravens are a balancing act this week with only a limited amount of time until welcoming an AFC North rival to M&T Bank Stadium.

However, the Ravens do benefit from playing at home and Harbaugh acknowledged that their past Thursday night game experiences aid greatly in striking the right balance between taking care of players from a physical standpoint and making sure they’re mentally sound to take on the Browns.

“Two things are important: preparation and recovery,” Harbaugh said. “One can’t really take a backseat to the other; the recovery is going to be just as important as the preparation. Obviously, we have to be prepared.”

Harbaugh regularly talks with veterans on the 53-man roster regarding the practice schedule and has shown flexibility when necessary.

Always creatures of habit, players must accelerate their preparation, but the familiarity they have against Cleveland aids in the process.

“Our coaches are doing a really good job as far as making sure we know what’s going on with the game plan,” safety Bernard Pollard said. “For us, we can’t study as long as we normally have, but that goes along with being a pro.”

Injury report

With the Ravens conducting a walk-through on Monday, the injury report was more of an approximation of what the participation level would have been like for a regular practice.

DID NOT PARTICIPATE: LB Brendon Ayanbadejo (knee)

DID NOT PARTICIPATE: WR Mohamed Massaquoi (hamstring), TE Alex Smith (head)
LIMITED PARTICIPATION: DB Sheldon Brown (chest), WR Joshua Cribbs (knee), LB James-Michael Johnson (ribs/oblique), DB Ray Ventrone (hand)
FULL PARTICIPATION: OL Jason Pinkston (ankle), DL Frostee Rucker (wrist), RB Trent Richardson (knee), LS Christian Yount (shoulder)

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