Tag Archive | "Bernard Pollard"

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Pollard, Yanda hopeful to play despite missing Wednesday’s practice

Posted on 19 December 2012 by Luke Jones

OWINGS MILLS, Md. — After missing Sunday’s 34-17 loss to the Denver Broncos, strong safety Bernard Pollard and right guard Marshal Yanda expressed cautious optimism on Wednesday about a Week 16 return to play the New York Giants.

Neither took part during Wednesday’s practice as Pollard continues to rest the injured ribs he’s dealt with since Week 2 and Yanda works his way back from a sprained ankle.

“It comes down to a point of can I go out there and help my team, with the way the pads and hitting people, and everything,” said Pollard, who collaborated with the training staff in deciding to sit out against Denver. “We’ll see. It’s going to be a good one.”

Yanda is no longer wearing the walking boot he sported last week after injuring his ankle in overtime of the Ravens’ 31-28 loss to Washington two weeks ago. It was the first game Yanda had missed since suffering a torn ACL during the 2008 season.

The Pro Bowl guard took part in the Ravens’ Wednesday morning walk-through but remains noncommital about his status for Sunday.

“I don’t know yet, we’ll see,” Yanda said. “It’s Wednesday, we don’t play until Sunday.”

Also missing from practice were wide receivers Torrey Smith (concussion) and Tandon Doss (ankle) and running back Bernard Pierce (concussion). All three sustained injuries in Sunday’s game, and the Ravens will monitor Smith and Pierce closely as they will need to pass a neurological baseline test to be cleared for contact.

Linebacker Ray Lewis was present for practice during the open portion of Wednesday’s workout but still hasn’t been placed on the 53-man roster. The Ravens are expected to play coy once again with Lewis’ status, meaning they could wait until Saturday’s 4 p.m. deadline to place him on the 53-man roster and move linebacker Jameel McClain (neck) to injured reserve.

When asked whether it was fair for media to consider Lewis taking McClain’s spot on the roster, coach John Harbaugh wouldn’t deny the proposition.

“I think it would be fair — and I’m pretty sure you’re going to do it anyway — to consider any possibility on that,” Harbaugh said.

Tight end Ed Dickson (knee) and linebacker Dannell Ellerbe (ankle) both practiced on a limited basis after missing their third straight game this past Sunday. The third-year tight end appeared to have a higher level of participation that he had at all last week when he practiced on a limited basis but was listed as doubtful for the Denver game.

Ellerbe worked out on the field before being listed as inactive on Sunday, but he hesitated to estimate his chances of returning this week before ultimately offering an optimistic outlook on his status against the Giants.

“I don’t have a percentage,” said Ellerbe, who admitted he wasn’t that close to playing after trying to give it a go last Sunday morning. “Maybe in a high range. Maybe 80, 90 [percent].”

And in what results as the most mysterious — and borderline comical — part of Wednesday’s injury report, linebacker Terrell Suggs wasn’t listed on the injury report despite suffering a torn right biceps 2 1/2 weeks ago. The Ravens were fined $20,000 earlier this season for failing to list safety Ed Reed on the injury report with a torn labrum, even though he wasn’t missing any practice reps.

The Giants are also dealing with injury concerns as five starters didn’t practice on Wednesday, including defensive end Justin Tuck, wide receiver Hakeem Nicks, running back Ahmad Bradshaw, center David Baas, and guard Chris Snee.

DID NOT PARTICIPATE: WR Tandon Doss (ankle), LB Jameel McClain (neck), RB Bernard Pierce (head), S Bernard Pollard (chest), WR Torrey Smith (head), G Marshal Yanda (ankle)
LIMITED PARTICIPATION: TE Ed Dickson (knee), LB Dannell Ellerbe (ankle), S James Ihedigbo (neck), DT Arthur Jones (shoulder), FB Vonta Leach (ankle), LB Albert McClellan (thigh/shoulder)
FULL PARTICIPATION: DE Pernell McPhee (thigh), S Ed Reed (shoulder), CB Jimmy Smith (abdomen), WR Deonte Thompson (thigh), WR LaQuan Williams (thigh)

DID NOT PARTICIPATE: C David Baas (hip/shoulder), RB Ahmad Bradshaw (knee/foot), WR Hakeem Nicks (knee), G Chris Snee (hip), DE Justin Tuck (shoulder)
LIMITED PARTICIPATION: CB Prince Amukamara (hamstring), DT Chris Canty (neck), S Kenny Phillips (knee), S Tyler Sash (hamstring)

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Ravens remain in wait-and-see pattern with infirmary report

Posted on 17 December 2012 by Luke Jones

OWINGS MILLS, Md. — As the Ravens desperately seek to get healthier for their Week 16 meeting with the New York Giants, head coach John Harbaugh didn’t offer much of an idea on which players might be returning to action this Sunday.

Aside from the announcement of linebacker Jameel McClain’s season coming to an end, Harbaugh offered the typical wait-and-see approach he’s expressed to media as the Ravens have dealt with a plethora of injuries. Of the Ravens’ seven inactives for Sunday’s loss to the Denver Broncos, five were starters, including strong safety Bernard Pollard and right guard Marshal Yanda.

“We’ll just see if they can practice and how much they can practice,” Harbaugh said. “We have some optimism with that. The guys that are out from last week, Marshal and Bernard, we’ll see how they go as the week goes along. Ed Dickson, the same. That’s really it on injury stuff.”

Yanda (ankle) and Pollard (chest) missed all three practices last week and were considered highly unlikely to play despite being listed as questionable on the final injury report. Dickson, who has now missed three straight games, was listed as doubtful despite practicing on a limited basis last week after two weeks in which he was completely sidelined with a hyperextended knee.

The Ravens added two names to the list of concerns as wide receiver Torrey Smith and backup running back Bernard Pierce sustained concussions against the Broncos. Their status will depend on symptoms subsiding and both player passing the baseline neurological test to clear them for contact.

“We’ll see as the week goes on how those guys progress from those things,” Harbaugh said. “Obviously, those things are unpredictable.”

Wide receiver Tandon Doss (ankle) and linebacker Albert McClellan (hamstring) also suffered minor injuries but are expected to be ready to play this week.

When asked how close Pollard was to being able to play against Denver, Harbaugh quickly squashed any notion that he’d speculate about his or any other players’ chances of returning to action this week.

“I’m not getting into all that,” Harbaugh said. “Close, not close? What difference does it make?”

In addition to Pollard, Yanda, and Dickson, the Ravens will hope to see the return of linebackers Ray Lewis and Dannell Ellerbe this week.

Five-time Pro Bowl linebacker Terrell Suggs returned to action two weeks after suffering a torn biceps in Week 13 against Pittsburgh, but he was limited to just 42 of the Ravens’ 77 defensive snaps. The 2011 Defensive Player of the Year appeared to be laboring at several different points, even taking himself out of the game on a couple occasions.

Suggs finished with only one tackle as he employed a four-point stance to take some of the weight off his injured right arm when lining up to rush the passer. The linebacker declined talking to media after the 17-point loss on Sunday.

“I thought he played well,” said Harbaugh, who took issue with a reporter’s observation that Suggs was playing with a lot of pain. “I thought he fought and battled out there. He has a lot of courage. He is a fighter. I like Terrell Suggs. He is a warrior.”

Second-year cornerback Jimmy Smith also made his return after being sidelined the last five games and undergoing sports hernia surgery on Nov. 15. However, he participated in only 12 snaps and surrendered a 14-yard reception to Denver wide receiver Eric Decker that set up the Broncos’ first touchdown of the game.

The defensive back did not offer a positive review of his play following Sunday’s loss as he shared duties in the nickel package with reserve corners Chris Johnson and Chykie Brown. Harbaugh shared in that assessment and didn’t commit to an increased workload for Smith against the Giants.

“He wasn’t 100 percent out there, and that’s something that you really don’t know until you get into the game,” Harbaugh said. “Unfortunately, he wasn’t as quick as I would have hoped he would be. We’ll just have to see how he does this week.”

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Dickson doubtful; Yanda, Pollard, six others questionable for Sunday

Posted on 14 December 2012 by Luke Jones

OWINGS MILLS, Md. — It’s no secret that the Ravens have been ravaged by injuries throughout the season, and coach John Harbaugh wasn’t tipping his hand regarding numerous players’ status for Sunday’s game against the Denver Broncos.

Eight players were listed as questionable, including linebackers Terrell Suggs and Dannell Ellerbe, guard Marshal Yanda, safety Bernard Pollard, defensive linemen Arthur Jones and Pernell McPhee, cornerback Jimmy Smith, and fullback Vonta Leach. Tight end Ed Dickson was listed as doubtful after practicing on a limited basis all week while linebacker Jameel McClain had already been ruled out for Sunday’s game earlier in the week.

“The rest of the guys are going to be up in the air,” Harbaugh said. “It’s not something that we’re probably going to want to share, because there is no advantage to us to let anybody know whether guys are going to play or not. We’ve got an idea on some guys. We have a lesser idea on some other guys. It’s just not information that we are going to put out there. We’re just going to let it go until Sunday.”

Of the players listed as questionable, Yanda and Pollard are the biggest doubts to be available as neither have practiced all week. Yanda was still in a walking boot as of Friday afternoon, and Pollard aggravated the sore ribs with which he’s dealt since Week 2 of the regular season. It’s considered highly unlikely that either will play against the Broncos.

Suggs practiced fully for the second straight day and deemed himself a game-time decision when speaking to reporters on Friday. Meanwhile, Ellerbe returned to the practice field on Thursday and worked on a limited basis the last two days. The inside linebacker hasn’t played the last two games after suffering an ankle injury in Week 12.

“I’m looking forward to being out there [if I can],” Ellerbe said. “I’m going to work it before the game, and if I feel good, I’m going to go. If I can’t go, I’m not going to go out there and hurt the team.”

Linebacker Ray Lewis was on the field for practice on Friday, but he is not required to be listed on the injury report since he is not on the 53-man roster. The 37-year-old continues to work his way back from a torn triceps suffered on Oct. 14 and has been on injured reserve with the designation to return. The Ravens would be required to place Lewis on the active roster by 4 p.m. on Saturday for him to be eligible to return to game action against the Broncos.

Harbaugh was asked specifically if he could say anything about Suggs and Lewis after not disclosing specifics on injured players.

“No, I can’t, but thanks for asking,” Harbaugh replied.

With so many players banged up and practicing with varying degrees of participation, Harbaugh faces a difficult decision on Sunday to weigh the pros and cons of activating players who may be far less than 100 percent but might be able to offer help in limited situations.

“That’s going to be in consideration,” Harbaugh said. “Will we have enough healthy guys to get to 46 [active players on game day]? That’s a consideration. What you are talking about will come down to one or two guys at the end that we will have to make a decision [on].”

Harbaugh also announced McClain would be seeing a back specialist in Los Angeles to help determine his status moving forward. The team hopes to know more by Monday or Tuesday.

OUT: LB Jameel McClain (neck)
DOUBTFUL: TE Ed Dickson (knee)
QUESTIONABLE: LB Dannell Ellerbe (ankle), DT Arthur Jones (shoulder), FB Vonta Leach (ankle), DE Pernell McPhee (thigh), S Bernard Pollard (chest), CB Jimmy Smith (abdomen), LB Terrell Suggs (biceps), G Marshal Yanda (ankle)
PROBABLE: CB Chykie Brown (knee), WR Jacoby Jones (ankle), RB Bernard Pierce (back), S Ed Reed (shoulder), RB Ray Rice (hip), WR Deonte Thompson (thigh), WR LaQuan Williams (thigh)

QUESTIONABLE: G Chris Kuper (ankle), LB Wesley Woodyard (ankle)
PROBABLE: WR Trindon Holliday (knee), WR Demaryius Thomas (shoulder), WR Matthew Willis (knee)

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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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