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Your Monday Reality Check-Cameron Future Only Part of Postseason Agenda

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Your Monday Reality Check-Cameron Future Only Part of Postseason Agenda

Posted on 23 January 2012 by Glenn Clark

I’ve had the opportunity to make a number of radio appearances throughout the country during the last few weeks while the Baltimore Ravens marched along in the National Football League playoffs.

In virtually every conversation, I was asked a question about how the outcome of the next game could alter the future of Offensive Coordinator Cam Cameron in Charm City.

It always felt a little strange to be asked about Cam Cameron. Usually I only hear Cam Cameron’s name when a listener/caller screams at me about him. It’s never in the form of a question.

After the Ravens’ 23-20 loss to the New England Patriots Sunday in the AFC Championship Game at Gillette Stadium, it didn’t take 30 minutes for the screaming to start again. It was a bit odd considering there was really no way Cameron could be blamed for the loss in Foxborough.

The reality is that as the team’s offseason officially got underway, Cameron sits at the forefront. His future can only be labeled as “to be determined”, as his contract expires with the end of the season.

Head coach John Harbaugh and the Ravens’ coaching staff are headed to Mobile, AL this week for scouting at the annual Senior Bowl. It would seem as though the team wouldn’t want the situation with Cameron to linger far into the offseason, especially if they ultimately decide not to retain Cameron after four playoff trips in four seasons and have to find a new coordinator without a likely replacement on staff.

(That’s not an endorsement for either decision. It’s just a fact. I’m actually indifferent towards the situation, as I believe any coordinator in 2012 would need more offensive talent to work with.)

The next pressing situation remains on offense. The team’s Most Valuable Player in 2012 (RB Ray Rice) becomes an Unrestricted Free Agent (UFA) at a time where NFL teams have been particularly unwilling to invest in long term deals for running backs. Also hitting unrestricted free agency is LG Ben Grubbs, who has never reached a Pro Bowl but has certainly played at a Pro Bowl level. (Monday update: Grubbs will in fact be making his first trip to Hawaii this season as a replacement for Patriots G Logan Mankins.)

There is a likelihood that the Franchise tag will come into play with one of the above players, as it did with DT Haloti Ngata last season before a long-term deal was reached.

DE Cory Redding, LB’s Jarret Johnson & Jameel McClain and S’s Tom Zbikowski and Haruki Nakamura highlight other Ravens who become Unrestricted Free Agents. LB Brendon Ayanbadejo (who has publicly stated he would like to play another season) is also on the UFA list, as are OL Andre Gurode, TE Kris Wilson, DT Brandon McKinney and LB Edgar Jones.

(CB’s Cary Williams & Lardarius Webb as well as LB Dannell Ellerbe are restricted free agents, all are expected to return.)

Also on the list of Unrestricted Free Agents is C Matt Birk, who denied a CBS report earlier this month that he had already decided to retire at the end of the season. With no “center of the future” clearly on the roster, it may behoove the team to bring the big man from Harvard back for one more season if he’s interested.

While we await Birk’s decision about his future, future Hall of Fame LB Ray Lewis told reporters in New England he intends to return to Baltimore for a 17th season. S Ed Reed’s future isn’t quite as defined, as he did not speak to reporters after suffering his second AFC title game defeat. Nagging back and neck issues appeared to affect Reed’s play at the end of the season, but he came with big plays in both playoff games.

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Entire roster practicing as Ravens prepare for AFC championship

Posted on 18 January 2012 by Luke Jones

OWINGS MILLS, Md. — The Ravens continue to be blessed with health in the postseason as the entire 53-man roster was present and working during Wednesday’s practice.

As they continue preparations for the conference championship game against the New England Patriots, the Ravens have no significant injury concerns for Sunday, especially with safety Ed Reed practicing without any apparent incident after turning his left ankle on the final defensive snap of Sunday’s game.

“Everybody’s been working hard the last couple days,” coach John Harbaugh said prior to Wednesday’s workout. “[It] looks like we’re in pretty good shape. There will be one or two guys that will be close, but I feel pretty good about where we’re at with that.”

Right tackle Michael Oher was practicing despite having his knee wrapped following Sunday’s game, and defensive tackle Arthur Jones confirmed in the locker room that he was fine after limping off the field at one point on sunday. Linebackers Jameel McClain (sprained MCL) and Brendon Ayanbadejo (quadriceps) were both practicing after making it through the Houston game without incident.

Players in the locker room were sporting “Ball So Hard” t-shirts, courtesy of linebacker Terrell Suggs. The shirts included the players’ numbers and were in their college colors.

The Ravens announced they’ve signed guard Garrett Chisholm to the practice squad to take Josh Byne’s spot after the rookie linebacker was promoted to the 53-man roster last weekend. Chisholm played his collegiate ball at South Carolina.

Needless to say, the Monday radio interview given by safety Ed Reed that was critical about Joe Flacco and the Baltimore offense was the hop topic of discussion around the facility. I’ll have more on the reaction later at WNST.net, but you can hear from John Harbaugh, Joe Flacco, Ray Lewis, Terrell Suggs, and Ray Rice right here.

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Ravens feeling fine as challenging task awaits in Foxborough

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Ravens feeling fine as challenging task awaits in Foxborough

Posted on 16 January 2012 by Luke Jones

OWINGS MILLS, Md. — As the Ravens turn the page to their 20-13 win over Houston and look ahead to Foxborough and the AFC championship game, they once again appear to have health on their side despite a physical fight against the Texans.

Coach John Harbaugh provided a similar prognosis for free safety Ed Reed’s injured ankle to what was offered following Sunday’s game. Reed told reporters Sunday his left ankle was not a concern after turning it on the final defensive play of the game.

“Ed looks like he’s alright with the ankle,” Harbaugh said. “Everything’s coming up OK as far as the x-rays.”

The prognosis is certainly good news as the Ravens prepare to face the NFL’s “most explosive offense” in Harbaugh’s words.

Though Reed being helped to the sideline certainly provided a scare, the Ravens are in good shape elsewhere with linebackers Brendon Ayanbadejo (quadriceps) and Jameel McClain having both played on Sunday after being game-time decisions. Ayanbadejo did not see much action defensively while McClain split time with Dannell Ellerbe at linebacker.

“We really got through [the game] it very well,” Harbaugh said. “The two toughest ones were Brendon and Jameel, and they fought through theirs. They were right to the last minute decisions, and they came out of it OK.”

Right tackle Michael Oher had his knee wrapped following the game, and defensive tackle Arthur Jones limped off the field with an apparent leg injury at one point, but neither injury was considered serious enough to report following Sunday’s game.

“Nothing serious [with them],” Harbaugh said. “I haven’t been told anything yet.”

Evans sighting

In an otherwise lackluster afternoon for the Ravens’ passing game, wide receiver Lee Evans provided an acrobatic one-handed catch on a third-down play to give Baltimore a first-and-goal at the Texans’ 9-yard line.

The Ravens failed to score on the possession after they were stymied on fourth down from the Houston 1, but the reception by Evans provided a glimpse of what the organization expected after trading a fourth-round pick to Buffalo for him in the preseason. Harbaugh also hopes it’s a sign of things to come for the remainder of the postseason.

“Lee’s huge for us. We would’ve liked for Lee to have been involved, obviously, all the way through,” Harbaugh said. “That’s something that we will like to see as we go forward here trying to get that done, and we’re not going to stop trying to get that done. Seeing that play get made, you get kind of excited. He’s certainly capable of making those plays; we’ve seen him make them his whole career. I think it brought a smile to everybody’s face. We’ll be looking forward to more of that.”

After missing seven games with an injured left ankle, Evans posted only four receptions for 74 yards despite entering the season as the Ravens’ No. 2 receiver on the depth chart.

Carr still in Ravens’ plans

With Ayanbadejo and McClain the only question marks on the Ravens’ injury report entering Sunday’s game, it was surprising to find veteran cornerback Chris Carr’s name on the list of inactives against the Texans.

Battling hamstring and back injuries that sidelined him for seven games this season, Carr has slid down the depth chart behind starters Lardarius Webb and Cary Williams as well as rookie Jimmy Smith, who enters the game in the nickel package. With Houston limited in the passing game, the Ravens elected to activate cornerback Danny Gorrer for his special teams prowess, leaving Carr as the odd man out in the divisional playoff.

Carr started all 16 games for the Ravens a season ago after Domonique Foxworth suffered a season-ending knee injury in training camp and Lardarius Webb was coming off an ACL injury of his own.

“Chris is a big part of what we’re doing, especially when we play teams that throw the ball a lot, so that could be a big factor this week,” Harbaugh said. “We put the extra [defensive] lineman up this week because of the type of offense we were playing, and then special teams were a part of that decision, too.”

With New England owning the second-ranked passing game in the league, the Ravens will need all hands on deck to contain the Patriots as much as possible. Though his 5-foot-10 frame certainly won’t help against the likes of tight ends Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez, it’s a good bet Carr fits into defensive coordinator Chuck Pagano’s plans for certain passing situations on Sunday.

Visit the BuyAToyota.com Audio Vault to hear from Harbaugh, Jarret Johnson, and Torrey Smith right here.

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Ravens-Texans: Inactives and pre-game notes

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Ravens-Texans: Inactives and pre-game notes

Posted on 15 January 2012 by Luke Jones

BALTIMORE — For the first time in five years, the Ravens host a playoff game in Baltimore as they welcome the AFC South champion Houston Texans to M&T Bank Stadium for a divisional round playoff this afternoon.

Of course, the Ravens have the edge in experience as they make their fourth straight playoff appearance while Houston played its first ever postseason game last week in knocking off the Cincinnati Bengals. Baltimore hopes for a similar result to its Week 6 win over the Texans in Baltimore, a 29-14 final that improved the Ravens’ mark to 5-0 against Houston.

The Texans will try to beat the Ravens in Baltimore for the first time this season after Baltimore went a perfect 8-0 at their home stadium. The Ravens haven’t lost a home game since Dec. 5, 2010 when Pittsburgh beat them in a nationally-televised Sunday night game.

Today marks the 16th playoff game the Ravens have played in the 16-year history of the franchise. They are 1-2 at home and have not won a postseason game in Baltimore since Dec. 31, 2000, the Ravens’ first playoff game that began their run to Super Bowl XXXV.

The Ravens will wear their purple jerseys and black pants this afternoon while Houston dons its white jerseys and blue pants. Baltimore will introduce its seven Pro Bowl players with veteran linebacker Ray Lewis being announced last, of course. With the futures of Lewis and safety Ed Reed uncertain, it’s possible today marks the last time the two run out of the tunnel at M&T Bank Stadium.

Ravens fans certainly hope not.

Linebackers Brendon Ayanbadejo (quadriceps) and Jameel McClain are both active and will play after being questionable for this game.

Surprisingly, cornerback Chris Carr is inactive despite not being on the injury report this week. While there’s always the possibility that a lingering back issue could have flared up over the weekend, it’s pretty clear the former starting cornerback has fallen dramatically on the depth chart. Rookie Jimmy Smith will come on the field in the nickel package and Danny Gorrer is available as the fourth cornerback.

Here are today’s inactives:

Baltimore
WR Tandon Doss
CB Chykie Brown
CB Chris Carr
RB Anthony Allen
LB Josh Bynes
OL Justin Boren
LB Sergio Kindle

Houston
QB Jeff Garcia
CB Brandon Harris
S Troy Nolan
G Thomas Austin
T Andrew Gardner
TE Garrett Graham
WR Jeff Maehl

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Ravens promote linebacker Bynes from practice squad, waive D.J. Jones

Posted on 14 January 2012 by Luke Jones

With linebackers Brendon Ayanbadejo and Jameel McClain both listed as questionable for Sunday’s divisional playoff game against the Houston Texans, the Ravens have elected to boost depth at the position by promoting rookie Josh Bynes to the active roster.

To make room on the 53-man roster, Baltimore has waived offensive tackle D.J. Jones.

Ayanbadejo practiced this week on a limited basis after suffering a sprained quadriceps muscle in the Week 17 win over the Cincinnati Bengals. His level of activity has been low during the portions of practice open to media. McClain was listed as a limited participant in practices on Thursday and Friday, but the starting inside linebacker expressed confidence that he would be able to play following Friday’s practice, even hopping around to show reporters how well his knee feels after suffering a sprained MCL in the regular-season finale.

All indications point to McClain playing while Ayanbadejo’s status remains in doubt, with the promotion of Bynes supporting that notion. In addition to his stellar play on special teams, Ayanbadejo is considered to be the Ravens’ best linebacker in pass coverage and plays in the nickel package. Coach John Harbaugh said both players would be game-time decisions in his press conference with the media following Friday’s practice.

Bynes originally signed with the Ravens as an undrafted rookie from Auburn prior to training camp. During his college career, he appeared in 43 games, posting 238 tackles (127 solo), seven interceptions, 19 passes defensed, two forced fumbles, and two fumble recoveries.

The rookie linebacker was waived on Sept. 3 but was signed to the practice squad on Nov. 9. Bynes was promoted to the active roster for the Ravens’ Thanksgiving win over the San Francisco 49ers as linebackers Ray Lewis and Dannell Ellerbe were dealing with injuries at the time.

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Two Ravens linebackers questionable for Sunday

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Two Ravens linebackers questionable for Sunday

Posted on 13 January 2012 by Luke Jones

OWINGS MILLS, Md. — With the final injury report being released prior to Sunday’s game between the Ravens and Texans, the story remained the same in terms of who to expect on the practice field.

Linebackers Jameel McClain and Brendon Ayanbadejo were limited in practice on Friday and are questionable for Sunday’s game. Ayanbadejo was limited all week while McClain practiced fully on Wednesday before using more caution on Thursday and Friday.

“It’s going to come down to a game-day decision,” coach John Harbaugh said. “They both practiced to different degrees, and we’ll just have to see how they are on Sunday right before the game. We are optimistic about both guys.”

McClain is expected to play and was bouncing around in the locker room to show reporters how healthy his knee felt. The inside linebacker suffered a sprained MCL in the Week 17 win over the Cincinnati Bengals.

“I’m ready to go out there and play, and I’m preparing myself to fullest of my capacity,” McClain said. My knee feels better, of course.”

Ayanbadejo’s status remains more of a mystery after he was not available to speak to reporters following Friday’s practice. His sprained quadriceps kept him out of practices during the bye week, and he appeared to be very limited in activity during the portions of practice open to the media this week.

Both linebackers benefited from an extra week to recuperate for the injuries sustained in the regular-season finale. Ayanbadejo would have almost certainly been unavailable for wild-card weekend while McClain’s status would have been very cloudy.

Fortunately for the Ravens, they didn’t have to worry about that problem.

“Time off helps everybody,” McClain said. “Everybody gets a chance to heal up all their little nicks and wounds, and then we get to go out there and play.”

Houston listed 18 players as probable on its final injury report, including quarterback T.J. Yates, wide receiver Andre Johnson, and cornerback Johnathan Joseph.

BALTIMORE
QUESTIONABLE: LB Brendon Ayanbadejo (thigh), LB Jameel McClain (knee)
PROBABLE: WR Anquan Boldin (knee), LB Dannell Ellerbe (head), CB Jimmy Smith (head), G Marshal Yanda (chest), S Tom Zbikowski (head)

HOUSTON
PROBABLE: LB Mister Alexander (shoulder), CB Jason Allen (thumb), LB Bryan Braman (neck), G Mike Brisiel (ankle), DE Tim Bulman (calf), FB James Casey (knee/foot), NT Shaun Cody (knee), TE Owen Daniels (hand/knee), TE Joel Dreessen (knee), WR Andre Johnson (knee), CB Johnathan Joseph (hip), CB Sherrick McManis (ankle), C Chris Myers (knee), S Troy Nolan (ankle), LB Brooks Reed (knee), RB Ben Tate (shoulder), T Eric Winston (calf), QB T.J. Yates (left shoulder)

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McClain added to Thursday’s injury report

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McClain added to Thursday’s injury report

Posted on 12 January 2012 by Luke Jones

OWINGS MILLS, Md. — As the Ravens move closer to Sunday’s divisional playoff matchup with the Houston Texans, their injury report continued to look promising on Thursday.

Jameel McClain joined fellow linebacker Brendon Ayanbadejo as a limited participant after not being listed on Wednesday’s injury report. The fourth-year linebacker suffered an MCL sprain in the season finale against the Cincinnati Bengals on New Year’s Day.

Ayanbadejo wore a blue beanie on top of his helmet during Thursday’s practice as he continued to work on a very limited basis during the open portion of practice. The veteran sprained his quadriceps muscle in Week 17 and is considered to be the Ravens’ biggest injury concern for Sunday’s game.

Right guard Marshal Yanda was added to Thursday’s report but was listed as a full participant.

For Houston, standout cornerback Johnathan Joseph was added to the injury report as a limited participant in Thursday’s workout, joining tight end Owen Daniels and wide receiver Andre Johnson as players who failed to take their normal amount of reps.

BALTIMORE
LIMITED: LB Brendon Ayanbadejo (thigh), LB Jameel McClain (knee)
FULL PARTICIPATION: WR Anquan Boldin (knee), LB Dannell Ellerbe (head), CB Jimmy Smith (head), G Marshal Yanda (chest), S Tom Zbikowski (head)

HOUSTON
LIMITED: G Mike Brisiel (ankle), TE Owen Daniels (hand/knee), WR Andre Johnson (knee), CB Johnathan Joseph (hip), S Troy Nolan (ankle)
FULL PARTICIPATION: LB Mister Alexander (shoulder), CB Jason Allen (thumb), LB Bryan Braman (neck), DE Tim Bulman (calf), FB James Casey (knee/foot), NT Shaun Cody (knee), TE Joel Dreessen (knee), CB Sherrick McManis (ankle), C Chris Myers (knee), LB Brooks Reed (knee), RB Ben Tate (shoulder), T Eric Winston (calf), QB T.J. Yates (left shoulder)

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All Ravens players present for Thursday’s practice

Posted on 12 January 2012 by Luke Jones

OWINGS MILLS, Md. — For the second straight day, the Ravens sent a full squad to the practice field as they continued preparations for this weekend’s divisional playoff game with Houston.

Linebacker Brendon Ayanbadejo sported a blue cap on top of his helmet, an indication that the special teams ace would be limited for the second straight day. The 35-year-old continues to treatment for a sprained quadriceps muscle and appears to be the Ravens’ only real question mark for Sunday’s game.

Wide receiver Anquan Boldin (knee), linebacker Dannell Ellerbe (head), cornerback Jimmy Smith (head), and safety Tom Zbikowski (head) were all practicing again after being listed as full participants for practice on Wednesday’s injury report.

Referee Pete Morelli and his crew will officiate Sunday’s game in Baltimore.

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Ravens, Texans offer favorable injury reports on Wednesday

Posted on 11 January 2012 by Luke Jones

OWINGS MILLS, Md. — If Wednesday’s injury report was any indication, there may not be much drama this week in terms of who will be suiting up in the divisional playoff game between the Ravens and the Houston Texans.

Linebacker Brendon Ayanbadejo was the only limited participant for the Ravens during their first full practice of the week. The 35-year-old linebacker sprained his quadriceps muscle in the season finale against Cincinnati.

Surprisingly, linebacker Jameel McClain was not listed on the injury report, suggesting the sprained MCL he suffered against the Bengals is close to 100 percent. The fourth-year inside backer missed both practices during the bye week, though an official injury report was not released.

Linebacker Dannell Ellerbe, safety Tom Zbikowski, and cornerback Jimmy Smith all participated fully after being cleared for their respective concussion issues. Wide receiver Anquan Boldin was also a full participant after coach John Harbaugh declared him “fine” prior to practice.

Meanwhile, Houston provided a favorable report despite being ravaged with injuries throughout the season. Tight end Owen Daniels practiced on a limited basis after injuring his hand in the Texans’ wild-card win over Cincinnati last Saturday. Reports have suggested the tight end may need to wear a cast during Sunday’s game.

Texans wide receiver Andre Johnson was limited in Wednesday’s practice, but he said in a teleconference with the Baltimore media that his hamstring has held up well over the last couple weeks.

BALTIMORE
LIMITED: LB Brendon Ayanbadejo (thigh)
FULL PARTICIPATION: WR Anquan Boldin (knee), LB Dannell Ellerbe (head), CB Jimmy Smith (head), S Tom Zbikowski (head)

HOUSTON
LIMITED: G Mike Brisiel (ankle), TE Owen Daniels (hand/knee), WR Andre Johnson (knee), S Troy Nolan (ankle)
FULL PARTICIPATION: LB Mister Alexander (shoulder), CB Jason Allen (thumb), LB Bryan Braman (neck), FB James Casey (knee/foot), NT Shaun Cody (knee), TE Joel Dreessen (knee), CB Sherrick McManis (ankle), C Chris Myers (knee), LB Brooks Reed (knee), RB Ben Tate (shoulder), T Eric Winston (calf), QB T.J. Yates (left shoulder)

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Ravens take practice field with full squad on Wednesday

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Ravens take practice field with full squad on Wednesday

Posted on 11 January 2012 by Luke Jones

OWINGS MILLS, Md. — After John Harbaugh said on Monday he expected all players to be available against the Houston Texans on Sunday, Wednesday’s practice strongly supported the Ravens coach’s optimistic outlook.

All players were present and working during the portion of practice open to the media, with linebacker Brendon Ayanbadejo (quadriceps) appearing to be working on a limited basis. Linebacker Jameel McClain (knee) was moving well during the special teams portion of practice reporters were allowed to watch. Ayanbadejo’s sprained quadriceps muscle is considered to be the more concerning ailment that could affect his status in the divisional round.

“Jameel and Brendon continue to rehab and are making good progress,” Harbaugh said before Wednesday’s practice. “Again, we’ll have to see how it goes, but we do anticipate them playing on Sunday.”

Cornerback Jimmy Smith, safety Tom Zbikowski, and linebacker Dannell Ellerbe were all practicing after passing concussion tests, allowing them to take part in contact. Smith and Zbikowski sustained concussions against Cincinnati in Week 17 while Ellerbe suffered his against the Cleveland Browns in Week 16, which forced him to miss the regular-season finale.

“The three guys who had the concussion issues have all been cleared as we anticipated, so they’re good to go.”

Wednesday only added to the growing tough-as-nails reputation of Pro Bowl guard Marshal Yanda, who revealed to reporters he underwent emergency compartment syndrome surgery on his leg on Christmas Eve night following the Ravens’ 24-10 win over the Cleveland Browns. While most concern previously centered around the contusion he suffered after taking a knee to the ribcage, Yanda underwent the procedure after taking a leg whip to the calf area.

Amazingly enough, Yanda was able to play — and perform at a high level — the following week against Cincinnati to close the regular season as the Ravens clinched their first AFC North title since 2006.

“It’s over with now,” Yanda said. “I got the stitches out. Your muscle swells up. They had to do emergency surgery that night and slit the muscle open to relieve the pressure.”

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