Tag Archive | "brent urban"


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Ravens-Browns: Five predictions for Monday night

Posted on 29 November 2015 by Luke Jones

What do two bad teams with headaches at the quarterback position need more than anything?

A national audience for Monday Night Football?

Much to the chagrin of ESPN and NFL executives, the Matt Schaub era begins Monday night with the 3-7 Ravens traveling to Cleveland to take on the 2-8 Browns. It’s never a good thing when a primetime game holds far more draft implications than influences on the playoff race, but head coach John Harbaugh will try to navigate his team to a win in his first-ever regular-season game without Joe Flacco under center.

Of course, Flacco is just one of many injuries that have gutted a team that entered the 2015 season with Super Bowl aspirations. Now, it remains to be seen whether the Ravens will even win another game over their final six weeks.

Meanwhile, the Browns are rested coming off their bye week, but controversy surrounds their football team with the latest off-field concerns leading to second-year quarterback Johnny Manziel being benched.

It’s time to go on the record as the Ravens and Cleveland meet for the 34th time in their regular-season history and the Browns look for their first regular-season sweep of Baltimore since 2007. The Ravens hold a 24-9 advantage in the all-time series and are 11-5 playing in Cleveland.

Here’s what to expect as Baltimore tries to win its second road game of the season …

1. Buck Allen will surpass 135 total yards in his first NFL start. The rookie is the most compelling Ravens player to watch for the remainder of the season, and he’ll be facing the NFL’s 32nd-ranked run defense. Of course, Baltimore is far from 100 percent along its offensive line, and the Browns are likely to use eight men in the box to try to take away the run and force Schaub to make plays through the air. This will keep Allen from piling up huge numbers on the ground, but he’ll be a favorite receiver out of the backfield for his 34-year quarterback making his first start in almost two years.

2. Paul Kruger and Armonty Bryant will combine for three sacks against a battered Baltimore offensive line. As if life wasn’t difficult enough for Schaub without Steve Smith and Justin Forsett, Eugene Monroe and Kelechi Osemele are doubtful to play and James Hurst and Ryan Jensen will be entrusted to protect his blindside. This spells trouble for someone who is already going to be readjusting his live-game clock after minimal playing time over the last two years. For all of the justified complaints about Monroe’s durability, Hurst is a major liability and Flacco paid the price for it last week.

3. Gary Barnidge and Crockett Gillmore will each catch touchdowns for their respective teams. The Browns tight end had eight catches for 139 yards and a touchdown in Cleveland’s Week 5 win over the Ravens and will follow that with another strong performance on Monday. Meanwhile, Gillmore will make the Browns pay for using a strong safety in the box by beating man coverage for a red-zone touchdown. Considering Schaub doesn’t have a particularly strong arm and his receivers have little experience, Gillmore will now become an even bigger part of what the Ravens do through the air.

4. Brent Urban will bat down a pass and collect a tackle in his NFL debut. Not even the Ravens know exactly what to expect from Urban, who has yet to play as much as a preseason game snap in his two years in the NFL. But this is the time for the organization to start to find out about the 2014 fourth-round pick. At 6-foot-7 and 295 pounds, Urban should be an intriguing inside rusher in passing situations and will provide another option at the 5-technique defensive end spot. The Ravens thought enough of Urban to use the designation to return, so it will be interesting to finally watch him play.

5. Josh McCown will outplay Schaub in a listless 20-16 win for Cleveland. Neither of these teams are any good, but you generally side with the team who has the better quarterback and the Ravens likely would have preferred Manziel to start instead of McCown, who threw for over 450 yards in the Week 5 game at M&T Bank Stadium. Unless the Schaub from circa 2010 shows up — not the guy who struggled mightily at times during training camp — the Ravens just aren’t going to be a great bet to beat anyone for the rest of the season. There’s always a very real chance that the Browns self-destruct at a critical point in the game, but the Ravens have been just as guilty of doing that in this nightmare season.

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Ravens officially place Forsett on IR, activate Urban

Posted on 27 November 2015 by Luke Jones

OWINGS MILLS, Md. — What was a formality became official on Friday when the Ravens placed running back Justin Forsett on injured reserve and elevated defensive end Brent Urban to the 53-man roster.

Forsett suffered a broken right forearm in Sunday’s win over St. Louis. The injury will sidelined him for the rest of the season, but the 30-year-old is expected to be ready to participate in the Ravens’ offseason workout program.

Head coach John Harbaugh said earlier in the week that Urban would be activated from injured reserve with the designation to return. The second-year defensive lineman suffered a torn biceps in early August, but he began a 21-day practice window on Nov. 9 and needed to be placed on the 53-man roster by Monday.

Returning to the practice field after the Thanksgiving holiday, the Ravens again were without the starting left side of their offensive line as tackle Eugene Monroe (shoulder) and guard Kelechi Osemele (knee) were both absent on Friday. Should the pair not be able to play against Cleveland on Monday night, the Ravens would use James Hurst at left tackle and Ryan Jensen at left guard.

“I thought he did very well. He played fast,” said offensive coordinator Marc Trestman about Jensen in his first NFL start. “I thought it was a really good start for him. And [John] Urschel moving in at center again did a very nice job as well.”

Wide receiver Marlon Brown (back) also remained sidelined with a back injury after he played just four offensive snaps against the Rams on Sunday.

The only new addition to Friday’s injury report was cornerback Shareece Wright, who was a limited participant due to a back issue.

Tight end Nick Boyle (foot) was again practicing fully after missing his first game of the season in Week 11.

The Browns continued to practice without several key players, but starting guard Joel Bitonio (ankle) participated on a limited basis on Friday.

Below is Friday’s full injury report:

DID NOT PARTICIPATE: WR Marlon Brown (back), OT Eugene Monroe (shoulder), G Kelechi Osemele (knee)
LIMITED PARTICIPATION: CB Shareece Wright (back)

DID NOT PARTICIPATE: WR Taylor Gabriel (concussion), CB Joe Haden (concussion), WR Andrew Hawkins (concussion), DE Randy Starks (knee)
FULL PARTICIPATION: QB Johnny Manziel (right elbow), QB Josh McCown (ribs), S Donte Whitner (concussion)

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Ravens defensive end Urban to be elevated to 53-man roster

Posted on 25 November 2015 by Luke Jones

OWINGS MILLS, Md. — Now in his third week of practice since returning from a torn biceps, Ravens defensive end Brent Urban will be elevated to the 53-man roster.

Head coach John Harbaugh did not immediately announce an official roster move as Urban would not have to be placed on the active roster until Monday if Baltimore elected to wait. The 2014 fourth-round pick injured his biceps in early August and was placed on injured reserve with the designation to return at the start of the regular season.

“Whether he’ll be active or not and play in the [Cleveland] game, we’ll have to figure that out, but Brent will come up and be on the 53-man,” Harbaugh said. “He’s done a really good job. He’s worked hard; he looks good. It’s going to be exciting to see him in real action at some point in time and see how he does, because he hasn’t played that much. But he’s practiced really well.”

It remains unclear when the move will be made official as running back Justin Forsett has yet to be placed on IR after suffering a broken right forearm in Sunday’s win over St. Louis. The Ravens are currently ailing along the offensive line with left tackle Eugene Monroe (shoulder) and left guard Kelechi Osemele (knee) both injured and missing practice on Wednesday, so they may also need to add an offensive lineman to the roster ahead of Monday’s game with Cleveland.

Urban’s 21-day practice window doesn’t expire until Sunday, meaning he can continue to participate without being added to the active roster until then.

In addition to Osemele and Monroe, wide receiver Marlon Brown was also absent from Wednesday’s practice after playing only four offensive snaps against St. Louis.

Rookie tight end Nick Boyle returned to practice after missing the Rams game with a left foot injury that had him in a walking boot last week.

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Zuttah absent, Monroe returns to practice on Wednesday

Posted on 11 November 2015 by Luke Jones

OWINGS MILLS, Md. — Conducting their first full practice since returning from their bye, the Ravens welcomed back a starting member of their offensive line while being without another.

Left tackle Eugene Monroe (shoulder) was a full participant in Wednesday’s workout, but center Jeremy Zuttah continues to recover from a left shoulder injury suffered in the Week 8 win over San Diego. Monroe had missed the Nov. 1 game against the Chargers, but head coach John Harbaugh had previously expressed optimism that he would return after the bye week.

The Ravens appear optimistic about Zuttah’s chances to be ready for Sunday’s game against Jacksonville.

“We’re anticipating — we’re hoping — that Jeremy will be out later in the week to practice,” Harbaugh said prior to Wednesday’s workout, “but he won’t be out [on the field] today.”

Rookie cornerback Tray Walker (concussion) participated fully in Wednesday’s practice after missing the San Diego game. Though still on injured reserve with the designation to return, defensive end Brent Urban (biceps) also took practiced with his 21-day participation window having opened on Monday.

Wide receiver Breshad Perriman (knee) remains sidelined from practice.

Wednesday also brought the practice debut of former Towson running back Terrance West, who was signed to Baltimore’s practice squad a day earlier. Jettisoned by both Cleveland and Tennessee in the last two months, the Northwestern High grad hopes a return home will be the key to getting his once-promising NFL career back on track.

Harbaugh said he spoke with wide receiver Steve Smith following his successful Achilles tendon surgery in Charlotte, N.C. on Monday.

“He’s in great spirits,” Harbaugh said. “He’s looking forward to the rehab, and he was pretty fired up about the way [the surgery] went.”

Meanwhile, the Jaguars were without two starters during their Wednesday workout as standout second-year receiver Allen Hurns (foot/thigh) and outside linebacker Dan Skuta (groin) were non-participants.

Below is Wednesday’s full injury report:

DID NOT PARTICIPATE: WR Breshad Perriman (knee), C Jeremy Zuttah (shoulder)
LIMITED PARTICIPATION: TE Crockett Gillmore (shoulder)
FULL PARTICIPATION: T Eugene Monroe (shoulder), CB Tray Walker (concussion)

DID NOT PARTICIPATE: DT Michael Bennett (hamstring), DE Chris Clemons (non-injury), WR Allen Hurns (foot/thigh), LB Dan Skuta (groin)
LIMITED PARTICIPATION: WR Marqise Lee (hamstring), S James Sample (shoulder)
FULL PARTICIPATION: G Zane Beadles (knee), RB Toby Gerhart (groin), WR Rashad Greene (thumb), TE Julius Thomas (abdomen)

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Ravens defensive end Urban returns to practice field

Posted on 09 November 2015 by Luke Jones

Ravens defensive end Brent Urban practiced on Monday for the first time since suffering a biceps injury in early August.

Returning from the Week 9 bye, the team announced the 2014 fourth-round pick has returned to practice after beginning the regular season on injured reserve with the designation to return. Urban now enters a 21-day practice window in which the Ravens may elevate him to the 53-man roster at any point or leave him on IR for the remainder of the season if deemed unable to return at the conclusion of the period.

Urban, 24, suffered a torn biceps on Aug. 8, an injury that was initially feared to sideline him for the entire season. The Ravens are intrigued by the 6-foot-7, 295-pound defensive lineman’s potential, which is why they used their one designation to return on him at the start of the season instead of saving it for another injured player.

“I don’t know if you’d say Brent Urban is going to be some kind of premier pass rusher,” head coach John Harbaugh said last week. “Maybe he’ll develop into that, and we’ll all be excited. But he’s going to pressure the quarterback. He’s going to get push-back. He’s going to get knock-back. He’s going to create problems, just because of his leverage and his size, and he’s going to be definitely hard to throw the ball around.

“I think if nothing else — at the very least — he’s going to get batted balls, and that’s going to be good for us. He’s such a young player. We’re going to have to find out what kind of a player he is once he gets out there and gets going again.”

Urban suffered a torn anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee early in his first training camp, meaning expectations should be tempered for a player who hasn’t taken as much as a preseason snap in his NFL career. But the Ravens believe he can be a factor at the 5-technique defensive end spot — currently manned by veterans Chris Canty and Lawrence Guy — and as an inside rusher in passing situations.


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Seven Ravens players needing more snaps in second half of 2015

Posted on 05 November 2015 by Luke Jones

It sounds encouraging to say the Ravens can make a second-half run for postseason contention.

After all, expectations were soaring going into the season and the AFC currently consists of three undefeated teams — New England, Denver, and Cincinnati — and just two other teams (New York and Oakland) above .500. Baltimore’s second-half schedule consists of five home games and just two contests against teams currently sporting winning records.

Anything could happen, right?

Then, you remember the Ravens have two wins in two months.


And they just lost Steve Smith — their best pass-catching target in an otherwise underwhelming group — for the rest of the season.

While still expecting the Ravens to win more games and to remain competitive in the second half of the season — all eight of their contests have been decided by one possession — it would be irresponsible not to have at least one eye toward the future. Finishing closer to .500 while continuing to rely more on veterans and street free agents with no long-term future would only give the Ravens an inferior draft pick for 2016 and not really assist in the goal of building the next championship-caliber roster.

The Ravens can continue trying to win while still taking a longer look at some younger players in the second half of the season. It makes more sense for 2016 and beyond to give a few more opportunities to younger options in hopes of seeing at least a couple real pieces emerge by season’s end. Needless to say, general manager Ozzie Newsome must improve talent on both sides of the ball, so wouldn’t you prefer seeing what some recent picks can do — good or bad — instead of those players remaining as unknowns?

It’s worth remembering that the Ravens are just 2-6, so how much drop-off could there really be evaluating some younger players at certain spots?

Only including players who’ve taken fewer than 100 snaps on offense or defense — rookies like Maxx Williams and Za’Darius Smith have played more — below are seven players who should receive more playing time in the second half of the 2015 season.

7. CB Tray Walker
2015 defensive snaps to date: 8
Rationale: The Ravens acknowledged Walker was more of a project when they selected him in the fourth round of this year’s draft, but it still hasn’t been encouraging that he remains behind Shareece Wright and Kyle Arrington — two veterans who haven’t played well — on the depth chart. Throwing the 6-foot-2 Texas Southern product into the starting lineup would be hasty, but you’d like to see him receive enough snaps to determine whether he can be a viable No. 3 or No. 4 cornerback in 2016. If he’s not up to that task by then, it’d be difficult to label his selection in the fourth round as anything but a major reach.

6. LB Arthur Brown
2015 defensive snaps to date: 0
Rationale: C.J. Mosley has struggled in coverage and Daryl Smith hasn’t played the run particularly well in 2015, making it fair to ask whether the Ravens should finally attempt to carve out a role for their 2013 second-round pick to determine whether he can even be a part-time player in Baltimore. Given Brown’s speed, defensive coordinator Dean Pees could even consider using the linebacker as an occasional blitzer off the edge in an effort to put more pressure on the quarterback. The Ravens have seen something in Brown to hold on to him even this long, so why not give him a real look, even in nickel situations?

5. WR Chris Givens
2015 offensive snaps to date (with Baltimore): 82
Rationale: The former St. Louis Ram has more experience than anyone else on this list, but the Ravens need to continue giving him more snaps, especially with Smith done for the season. Givens had been a sponge around Smith prior to the latter’s injury, so it will be interesting to see if the speedy receiver can apply any of the veteran’s lessons to his own play. No one should confuse him with a starting-caliber receiver, but you’d like to see if Givens can establish himself as a No. 3 or No. 4 guy for the future. In his four games with the Ravens, he’s outperformed Marlon Brown and deserves to play over him.

4. DE Brent Urban
2015 defensive snaps to date: 0
Rationale: It’d be nice to see the 2014 fourth-round pick finally get on the field after not even playing in a preseason game to this point in his career. John Harbaugh recently said Urban is close to returning to practice after suffering a torn biceps early in training camp. Though Lawrence Guy has emerged as a solid option at the 5-technique defensive end spot behind Chris Canty, Urban’s 6-foot-7, 295-pound frame makes him an intriguing option as an interior pass rusher. With Canty turning 33 next week, the Ravens would feel good about that position if Urban can stay healthy and contribute down the stretch.

3. S Terrence Brooks
2015 defensive snaps to date: 54
Rationale: The Ravens have had problems at the safety position dating back to Ed Reed’s final season in Baltimore, and veteran newcomer Kendrick Lewis hasn’t done much to quell those concerns in 2015. Brooks has had an up-and-down start to his NFL career, but he showed good athleticism and aggression against Cleveland in Week 5 before injuring his thumb. Whether Pees uses him at the nickel spot or at safety next to Will Hill, Brooks’ development would go a long way in improving a secondary in need of more athleticism and play-making ability than it’s had in recent years.

2. RB Buck Allen
2015 offensive snaps to date: 81
Rationale: This isn’t a plea for the Ravens to bench veteran Justin Forsett in favor of the rookie fourth-rounder, but Allen has shown more burst recently and is more likely to impact the future than the 30-year-old starter. In general, Baltimore needs more from a running game currently tied for 21st in the NFL and Forsett won’t be able to carry that workload alone. In a perfect world, you’d like Allen to show enough to at least pencil him in as a strong No. 2 option in 2016 after the Ravens invested fourth-round picks at the position in each of the last two drafts. At least 10 touches per game seems reasonable.

1. WR Breshad Perriman
2015 offensive snaps to date: 0
Rationale: Many have called for the first-round pick to be placed on injured reserve considering he’s only practiced a couple times since spraining the posterior cruciate ligament in his right knee on the first day of training camp. But at 2-6, it’s worth waiting a little longer to see if Perriman can make it back for the final month of the season. His absence is even more frustrating with Smith out for the year as the Ravens had hoped they were drafting their No. 1 receiver of the future. They won’t be able to make that determination, but a healthy Perriman on the field for at least a few games in 2015 would be a good sign.

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Harbaugh says Smith hasn’t revealed 2016 plans to him

Posted on 02 November 2015 by Luke Jones

OWINGS MILLS, Md. — It’s unclear whether we’ve seen the last of Steve Smith in the NFL, but Ravens coach John Harbaugh says the injured receiver hasn’t yet revealed his 2016 plans to him in the aftermath of a season-ending Achilles injury sustained on Sunday.

The 36-year-old is scheduled to undergo surgery next week in Charlotte, N.C. with Dr. Robert Anderson handling the procedure to repair the torn Achilles tendon. Despite saying after the Ravens’ 29-26 win that he thought Smith would be back, Harbaugh reiterated Monday that the veteran wideout hasn’t indicated any decision about his football future.

“He didn’t express any decisions to me, one way or the other,” Harbaugh said. “Probably, it’s too emotional of a time right now to make any decision like that. But he will make those decisions in due time, I’m sure.

“I’ll respect him, and we’ll see where it goes.”

Smith announced his intentions to retire at the end of the season back in August, but speculation had persisted in recent weeks that the fiery competitor could reconsider with the Ravens off to the worst start in franchise history. The organization repeatedly shot down trade rumors regarding Smith, another indication that general manager Ozzie Newsome was optimistic about the chances of him returning for a 16th NFL season.

While Smith has plenty of time to make a decision about his future, the Ravens now face the prospects of moving forward without their leading receiver. Kamar Aiken will become Joe Flacco’s new primary receiver by default, but other unproven options will be asked to step up, including the recently-promoted Jeremy Butler.

The Ravens are also expected to work out free-agent receivers this week.

“I wouldn’t rule out that we would bring another receiver in from somewhere,” Harbaugh said. “Obviously, we’re looking real hard right now to figure out what we’re going to do.”

Silent Suggs

With Smith becoming the second prominent veteran player to suffer a season-ending Achilles tear in 2015, many have asked what injured linebacker Terrell Suggs has been up to.

Harbaugh acknowledged not having much communication with the six-time Pro Bowl selection in the aftermath of the Week 1 injury.

“If you know Terrell, that’s just how he operates,” Harbaugh said. “That’s kind of between him and Ozzie right now as far as where the rehab is at and what he’s doing. I trust him, and I trust he’s doing everything he has to do to get himself back.”

Harbaugh added that he would anticipate Suggs rejoining the team in Owings Mills when his rehabilitation is to a point where he’s moving around with few restrictions. Many have opined that Suggs’ leadership would be helpful for a Ravens team in the midst of a difficult season.

As for the 33-year-old’s future, Harbaugh expects the 2011 AP Defensive Player of the Year to return for his 14th season in 2016 despite the lack of recent communication.

“I assume he will. I never thought that he wouldn’t,” Harbaugh said. “I talked to him right after [the injury] happened, and he told me that this is just another challenge for him to overcome — something along those lines. So, I felt very good about it at that time.”

Injury updates

Defensive end Brent Urban (biceps) is expected to return to practice in the near future and is on track to play again in 2016. The second-year defensive lineman suffered a torn biceps in training camp and was placed on injured reserve with the designation to return at the start of the regular season.

“He’s soon to be up,” said Harbaugh, who is eager to finally see the 2014 fourth-round pick get on the field after two injury-marred seasons. “I anticipate that as soon as he’s able to practice, he will practice, because he’s healthy. He looks pretty good in there right now. I’m not saying 100 percent healthy, but he’s right there, and he’s really excited to get going.”

Harbaugh also said that left tackle Eugene Monroe (shoulder) expects to be ready to return after the bye week, but the head coach wasn’t sure of a timetable for Jeremy Zuttah after he left Sunday’s game with a shoulder injury.

Elam suspension not surprising

Though not delving into the specifics that led to injured safety Matt Elam being suspended one game for violating the league’s substance-abuse policy, Harbaugh said that the ban stemmed from an incident occurring more than a year ago and even praised the 2013 first-round pick for taking accountability.

“Matt self-reported that,” Harbaugh said. “That was a situation he got involved in down there in Florida or whatever. I don’t even know the details of it, but what I do know is that he brought that to the league’s attention through the Ravens and went to the league and let them know that, and this was the result of doing that.

“But I give him credit for stepping up and talking about the situation, whatever it was, and taking responsibility for it.”


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Ravens re-sign Magee, place Urban on IR-designated to return

Posted on 08 September 2015 by Luke Jones

The Ravens re-signed running back Terrence Magee and placed defensive end Brent Urban on injured reserve with the designation to return on Tuesday morning.

The move to give Urban the designation was expected after the second-year defensive player remained on the 53-man roster when final cuts were made on Saturday. The 2014 fourth-round pick is recovering from a biceps tear suffered early last month, an injury that was projected to keep him sidelined for at least three months.

“This is an injury he can come back from,” head coach John Harbaugh said. “This is a league where big guys are very valuable, especially at the end of the year, and we think — just from a football business perspective — putting him in that slot is good for us. It’s going to be up to him to work like crazy and get back and get ready to play.”

Urban may not return until after the first eight weeks of the regular season, meaning the earliest he could play would be Nov. 15 against Jacksonville, the first game following the Ravens’ bye week. He may begin practicing after the first six weeks of the regular season.

With backup running back Lorenzo Taliaferro still out with a sprained medial collateral ligament in his right knee, the Ravens only had two healthy running backs — starter Justin Forsett and rookie Buck Allen — on their 53-man roster. Magee spent the entire spring and summer with the Ravens and averaged 3.6 yards per attempt on 26 carries in the preseason before being waived on Saturday.

“He would’ve been with us either on the practice squad or the 53-man [roster] one way or the other,” Harbaugh said. “He played really well. He’s a north-south guy. He’s physical. He runs hard. He has been good in pass protection. He has been good on special teams. He’s a good football player.”

Should Magee remain on the roster for Week 1, it would mark the 12th consecutive year in which a rookie free agent has opened a regular season playing for Baltimore.

With every team having only one designation to use for a player on I.R., the Ravens’ decision to give theirs to Urban shows how highly they think of a defensive lineman who hasn’t played in as much as a preseason game to this point in his NFL career. Urban missed his entire rookie season after suffering a season-ending knee injury early in training camp.

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Five questions pondering Ravens hype, running backs, pass rush, more

Posted on 04 September 2015 by Luke Jones

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

Five questions …

1. Is it just me or is Sports Illustrated picking the Ravens to win the Super Bowl a reflection of an AFC without a dominant team? Before you call me Lambasting Luke, I’m still betting on John Harbaugh and Joe Flacco to lead Baltimore to its seventh postseason appearance in eight years and I’ll buy that the Ravens could be very dangerous come January. But this is also a football team that lost a five-time Pro Bowl defensive tackle, starting wide receiver, starting tight end, and impact pass rusher in the offseason, and their replacements are currently injured, unproven, or a combination of both. The secondary still lacks depth to make you feel comfortable and the return game is an absolute mess. To be clear, all teams have issues and question marks every season, but starting the season with five of their first seven games on the road isn’t a comfortable proposition with so much early uncertainty. Looking at it objectively, Ravens fans have no reason to feel slighted by the national media this summer.

2. Is it just me or should we probably not be surprised about the concern at the wide receiver position beyond Steve Smith? I’m as guilty as anyone for buying into the hype of a young group of receivers competing for roster spots this summer. No one predicted the knee injury to first-round rookie Breshad Perriman to linger so long, but the receivers behind him failed to quell concerns that Smith would be Flacco’s only trusted target entering the year. Perhaps we need to be more realistic in looking where these players came from when projecting how much impact they can bring. Kamar Aiken, Marlon Brown, and Jeremy Butler were all undrafted, and Michael Campanaro (seventh) and Darren Waller (sixth) are late-round picks. Yes, teams are uncovering more and more gems who are drafted late (Pittsburgh’s Antonio Brown in the sixth round) or undrafted entirely (Victor Cruz of the New York Giants), but the Ravens have always struggled to draft and develop useful receivers.

3. Is it just me or could the Ravens’ consideration for giving Brent Urban the designation to return reflect vulnerabilities with their pass rush? The organization remains high on the 6-foot-7 defensive end’s potential, but we’re still talking about someone who’s never played as much as an NFL preseason game. The Ravens hope that rookie Za’Darius Smith can step into the hybrid role formerly occupied by Pernell McPhee, but they were hoping Steven Means could bring pass-rush impact before a groin injury ruined his summer. Teams do often use their I.R.-designated to return spot for role players — Asa Jackson received it last year, for example — but that typically occurs a few weeks into the season when you’re getting to a point where you won’t be able to use it waiting any longer. Terrell Suggs and Elvis Dumervil are still forces off the edge and Timmy Jernigan shows rush ability when healthy, but the Ravens may view Urban as a high-ceiling — and necessary? — wild card later this year.

4. Is it just me or is it scary to think the Ravens’ only sure thing at running back is currently Justin Forsett? Rookie fourth-round Buck Allen has shown good hands catching passes out of the backfield, but the USC product averaged just 2.5 yards per carry in the preseason and is now the No. 2 running back with Lorenzo Taliaferro out with a sprained MCL. Terrence Magee and Fitz Toussaint had a few solid moments this summer, but neither are the type of back who inspires confidence, making you wonder if Ozzie Newsome needs to explore the market for a veteran addition in the coming days. Taliaferro’s injury was the last thing the Ravens needed with so many questions at receiver and tight end, but the good news is that they should feel confident in finding a veteran to run behind one of the best offensive lines in the NFL. Still, who would have imagined a year ago that Forsett would not only be coming off a Pro Bowl season, but he would represent the only sure thing in the backfield entering 2015?

5. Is it just me or are halftime interviews completely worthless? Harbaugh drew plenty of criticism for his halftime interview in the third preseason game and rightly so as he needs to be better than that with both media and — more importantly — the fans with which he’s indirectly speaking in the process. The coach’s unkind words for Comcast SportsNet’s Brent Harris prompted many to compare him to brother Jim, who is clearly viewed as the more surly Harbaugh. With those sentiments understood, can you recall a time when a halftime interview brought anything memorable besides similar meltdowns by coaches or players? We live in an age where we want as much access as possible, but it seems counterintuitive to ask a coach or player to reflect meaningfully in the midst of competition. Perhaps a compromise would be to interview a coach just before the start of the second half after he’s addressed his team and has calmed his emotions from the first half, but the next halftime interview I hear bringing anything but bland coach speak or an unflattering exchange will be the first one.

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Ravens hurting on defensive line entering preseason finale

Posted on 31 August 2015 by Luke Jones

OWINGS MILLS, Md. — A defensive line once possessing great depth is suddenly a concern as the Ravens approach Thursday’s preseason finale in Atlanta.

After starting defensive tackle Timmy Jernigan (right knee) and veteran reserves Lawrence Guy (knee) and DeAngelo Tyson (shoulder) all left Saturday’s preseason loss to Washington with injuries, the Ravens had just six defensive linemen on the field for Monday’s practice. Head coach John Harbaugh acknowledged this could be problematic for Thursday’s preseason finale with the Ravens preferring to rest starters Brandon Williams and Chris Canty against the Falcons.

“It’s going to be tight,” Harbaugh said. “The idea that we go in there with 75 guys [on the roster] is really not 75, because it’s going to end up being 35 guys probably with the injuries [and veterans resting]. It’s going to be a strain on those guys. It’s a tough game, but it’s also an opportunity for those guys to show what they can do. They’ll be excited to play.”

Should none of their injured defensive linemen return in time for Thursday’s game, the Ravens would be forced to rely heavily on rookie Carl Davis, Kapron Lewis-Moore, Christo Bilukidi, and Micajah Reynolds.

Jernigan injured his right knee on a legal cut block from Redskins right tackle Morgan Moses on the fourth defensive play of the game on Saturday. The Ravens are hopeful that the second-year defensive tackle will be able to play in the season opener on Sept. 13, but his status remains uncertain.

“It doesn’t look to be overly serious, but I can’t put any timetables on it,” Harbaugh said. “But it’s not something that’s going to keep him out [for an extended time]. It’s not going to be a surgery or anything like that.”

Durability continues to be a concern for the 2014 second-round pick as he had already dealt with a foot ailment earlier that prevented him from playing in the preseason opener. As a rookie, Jernigan missed a total of five games with knee and foot injuries.

Defensive coordinator Dean Pees expressed some frustration earlier this month about Jernigan missing valuable practice time as he prepares to take the reins from five-time Pro Bowl selection Haloti Ngata at the 3-technique defensive tackle spot. No one doubts Jernigan’s ability, but the physical ailments are becoming a concern at this early stage of his career.

“I still believe he’s the guy that we drafted,” Pees said on Aug. 17. “I just wish we could get him out there a little more, but that’s not his fault.”

Should Jernigan not be ready for the opener, Davis would take his place on the starting line after receiving extensive action this summer. The third-round selection has been the Ravens’ most impressive draft pick with first-round receiver Breshad Perriman and second-round tight end Maxx Williams both dealing with health concerns.

Davis logged 36 defensive snaps and one tackle against Washington. He has has collected seven tackles and a pass breakup in three preseason games.

The 6-foot-5, 320-pound Iowa product says he has plenty of room for improvement and is still trying to learn the little tricks needed to succeed at the next level.

“Offensive linemen are smart. They’ve got so many different techniques,” Davis said. “I’m just learning how to play more physical every play. Every play counts. I’m trying to focus on making sure I don’t take any plays off and get better every play.”

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