Posted on 13 October 2015 by WNST Staff
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Posted on 12 October 2015 by Luke Jones
OWINGS MILLS, Md. — With the Ravens off to the first 1-4 start in franchise history, many fans are clamoring for changes in a season that began with high expectations.
Despite a slew of injuries to key players, fourth-year defensive coordinator Dean Pees has drawn much of the coaching criticism, but Harbaugh made his intentions clear Monday when asked whether he was considering any staff changes at this time.
“No, no way. No, our coaches are doing a good job,” Harbaugh said. “We’ve just got to collectively find a way to finish games and get the job done. We’ve got tough challenges that we’re facing, but we’ve got just the men for the job right here.”
After giving up 33 points and 505 total yards while allowing Cleveland quarterback Josh McCown to throw for 457 yards — the third-highest total allowed in franchise history — in Sunday’s overtime loss, the Ravens now rank 24th in points allowed per game (27.4) and 25th in pass defense (278.2 yards through the air per contest). McCown’s performance was the highest passing yardage total in the long history of the Browns.
In addition to already being without linebacker Terrell Suggs (Achilles) and defensive end Chris Canty (calf) prior to Sunday’s game, the Ravens lost linebacker Elvis Dumervil (groin) and cornerbacks Will Davis (torn ACL), Lardarius Webb (hamstring), and Kyle Arrington (concussion testing) over the course of the game.
Even with those substantial personnel losses, the Ravens allowing 24 points to Cleveland in a 25-minute span — the Browns had scored 24 in an entire game against Baltimore just once in the previous 12 meetings — is unacceptable to the standards of the organization and fans alike. But Harbaugh believes the answers still lie with the coaches and players already in the building as their four losses have come by a combined 17 points.
“We definitely believe in what we’re doing,” said Harbaugh, who also stated that he’s challenging his coaches to come up with new ideas. “We definitely have confidence in the players that we have and in the coaches that we have and in the schemes that we’re running.
“But you also look for ways to improve and get better, so we’re looking at schemes. We’re looking at things we can teach a little bit differently — the way we’re playing a technique on the defensive line or the way we’re playing a technique in the back end. More importantly, we want to play the things right all the time.”
Poor technique, poor tackling, costly penalties, and miscommunication have all plagued the defense so far in 2015. The Ravens also rank 31st out of 32 teams in third-down defense with opponents moving the chains a staggering 49.4 percent of the time.
Known as the Ravens’ biggest game-changing unit for the better part of two decades, the defense has squandered fourth-quarter leaders in three of four losses this season. It’s the kind of futility that should have everyone on alert — coaches and players.
Harbaugh knows the Ravens need to improve all the way around, but figuring out how is the challenge.
“We don’t need to play harder; we need to play better,” Harbaugh said. “We don’t need to coach harder; we need to coach better. We’ve got to find a way to make the difference. It’s making plays. It’s calling plays that give guys a chance to make plays in critical situations to get you over the hump.”
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Posted on 12 October 2015 by Luke Jones
A season from hell continues to grow worse for the Ravens as cornerback Will Davis suffered a season-ending knee injury in Sunday’s loss to the Cleveland Browns.
The third-year defensive back sustained a torn anterior cruciate ligament in the second quarter of the 33-30 overtime defeat. Acquired from the Miami Dolphins in exchange for a 2016 seventh-round pick last month, Davis suffered a torn ACL in his right knee last November.
The 2013 third-round pick from Utah State had played well in his brief time with the Ravens and had become the No. 3 cornerback over veteran Kyle Arrington and the inexperienced Rashaan Melvin. Davis played seven snaps on Sunday before leaving the game in the second quarter.
“He’ll be out for the season, which is tough for him,” said head coach John Harbaugh, who added that he was “99 percent” that Davis injured the opposite knee this time. “He was playing at a really high level.”
Davis’ knee injury is the latest in the Ravens’ nightmarish run of bad health at the cornerback position dating back to last year. Starter Lardarius Webb also left Sunday’s game with a hamstring injury in the second quarter and didn’t return.
Baltimore has two cornerbacks on its practice squad — Charles James and Asa Jackson — and general manager Ozzie Newsome cannot be picky in the search for Davis’ replacement as the Ravens possess less than $2 million in cap space. Currently, the 53-man roster holds just four healthy cornerbacks — Jimmy Smith, Arrington, Melvin, and rookie Tray Walker — but second-year safety Terrence Brooks saw extensive time at the nickel spot on Sunday.
“It’s not that late,” said Harbaugh about the ability to find more help at the position. “When you start getting past this time — close to the midway point — that’s when [the market] kind of dries up on you. But there are some corners out there right now that can play and we’re looking at those guys and we have a couple guys on our practice roster, too.”
Other Ravens players injured in Week 5 included linebacker Elvis Dumervil (groin), running back Justin Forsett (ankle), and wide receiver Darren Waller (concussion).
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Posted on 12 October 2015 by Luke Jones
BALTIMORE — The single voice of a Browns fan barking in the lower concourse of M&T Bank Stadium could be heard moments after the Ravens’ 33-30 overtime loss to Cleveland on Sunday.
It was a sound that may have signaled the official end of an era we’ve enjoyed for more than 15 years. Of course, the fall of the Ravens defense didn’t happen overnight as we’ve watched future Hall of Famers ride off into the sunset and other perennial Pro Bowl selections depart, but a unit in transition had still possessed enough talent and swagger to find ways to be more good than bad over the last couple years. Sunday’s performance eliminated any lingering optimism about a defense that had already played poorly at Oakland in Week 2 and was torched by Andy Dalton and Cincinnati in the home opener two weeks ago.
If giving up 33 points, 505 yards of offense, and 457 passing yards to Josh McCown and the Cleveland Browns — yes, the AFC North doormats that hadn’t won in Baltimore since the George W. Bush administration — isn’t rock bottom, I don’t know what it is. Allowing Tom Brady or Aaron Rodgers or even Philip Rivers to post those kinds of numbers is one thing, but a 36-year-old journeyman shredding you in your own stadium?
Baltimore may still field a defense, but it’s no longer a group worthy of being called a “Ravens” defense.
“I put this on the defense as a whole. We didn’t come through [Sunday],” cornerback Jimmy Smith said. “We were supposed to show up, and we did not show up in the second half.”
Of course, it’d be unfair to rip the defense without acknowledging how ravaged the group was by injuries by the time the Ravens entered overtime on Sunday afternoon. Already without Terrell Suggs and Chris Canty long before Sunday’s game, the Ravens lost their only reliable pass rusher (Elvis Dumervil) and their No. 2 and No. 3 cornerbacks (Lardarius Webb and Will Davis) in the first half, injuries that caused the defense to completely unravel after a respectable “bend, but don’t break” performance over the first 30 minutes.
In overtime, another injury to No. 4 cornerback Kyle Arrington led to rookie Tray Walker playing in the base defense after he’d been a healthy inactive in Pittsburgh last week. A reflection of how little confidence they had in Walker, the Ravens used second-year safety Terrence Brooks at the nickel spot earlier in the game before having no choice but to go to the 2015 fourth-round pick in crunch time.
With the modern reality of the salary cap and other circumstances contributing to where the Ravens currently stand, they knew all along they could only take so many injuries after the offseason departures of Haloti Ngata and Pernell McPhee. Deep depth is a rarity in the NFL these days, and the Ravens are learning that painful lesson in the midst of the worst start in the 20-year history of the franchise.
“Whoever is out there has to play well. Whoever is out there has to get the job done,” head coach John Harbaugh said. “That’s what has to happen. That goes for all of us. As coaches, we have to find a way to put whoever is out there in a kind of position where they can be successful. That all goes hand-in-hand. And that was a very winnable game. We should have won.”
The phrase “next man up” has been a rallying cry in Baltimore for years, but the words have never rung more hollow. The Ravens simply aren’t talented enough with an array of issues on both sides of the ball that are haunting them in some form every week. Blame defensive coordinator Dean Pees as much as you’d like — he needs to own a mess that could ultimately cost him his job — but a defense can only survive so much attrition, whether by injuries or free-agent departures or underwhelming draft picks.
In truth, an offense consisting of receivers and tight ends who required a program to identify scoring 30 points on Sunday should have been more than enough with even an average defensive performance against the Browns, who entered Sunday’s game ranked 20th in the NFL in total offense and points scored.
The defense can’t solely blame the injuries for its demise as the Ravens racked up penalties at crucial times — veteran Jason Babin committed infractions on two different Browns’ touchdown drives in the second half — and key performers such as linebackers Daryl Smith and C.J. Mosley and safety Will Hill also played poorly. If the defense can’t even tackle or count on its known commodities to make plays, what chance does the group really have?
They may be wearing purple and black, but you certainly don’t recognize a defense allowing 27.4 points per game, just a hair better than the franchise-worst 27.6 per contest allowed in the inaugural 1996 campaign. In five games, Baltimore has already allowed 137 points, just 28 fewer than the record-setting 2000 defense surrendered in an entire regular season.
Late in the game on Sunday, which figure in the defensive huddle could players turn to for an emotional lift? Forget having a Ray Lewis or Ed Reed or Suggs; the Ravens didn’t even have a player like Dumervil to make everyone believe they could force a stop.
The Baltimore defense was a ship without a captain in the second half. And it sank hard.
“We’re disappointed, because we know what kind of team we are,” said Mosley, who struggled mightily in pass coverage throughout the game. “We know how [hard] we work, and we’re definitely better than 1-4. We’ve just got to put our foot down and prove that. We play hard, but we’ve just got to finish as a team.”
The Ravens keep talking about their need to finish games and to get off the field on third down — Cleveland went 12-for-19 in that department on Sunday — but they appear more “finished” than able to finish in 2015 with Thanksgiving still more than a month away.
They’re beaten up and bad with no relief in sight as back-to-back West Coast trips loom. Nothing is a given moving forward when you lose to the Browns at home for the first time since 2007 and only the fourth time ever in Baltimore.
Instead of fans celebrating a win with a chance to improve to .500 next week to reboot the season, all that could be heard at the end of Sunday’s game was a single Browns fan barking in the concourse.
And the “Ravens” defense was nowhere to be found.
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Posted on 11 October 2015 by Luke Jones
BALTIMORE — If the Ravens are to win their first home game of the 2015 season, they’ll need to do it without large pieces of their offense against the Cleveland Browns.
Though Baltimore was already preparing to play without starting wide receiver Steve Smith and starting tight end Crockett Gillmore, running back Lorenzo Taliaferro (foot) was also deactivated for Sunday’s game despite being listed as probable on the final injury report. Taliaferro practiced on a limited basis on Thursday and Friday, but his absence means the Ravens will have just two healthy running backs: starter Justin Forsett and 2015 fourth-round pick Buck Allen.
In better news, the Ravens will officially welcome back starting left tackle Eugene Monroe after he missed the last three games with a concussion suffered on the first series of the season opener in Denver. Monroe was cleared to return this week and practiced fully, leaving little doubt that he would recapture his starting position.
As expected, speedy receiver Chris Givens and return specialist and receiver Jeremy Ross were both active for Sunday’s game. Ross is expected to handle kick return duties while Givens will try to give the Ravens a speed element in the passing game that they’ve lacked all year with the long-term knee injury to rookie Breshad Perriman.
Though he was officially ruled out for Week 5 on Friday, Gillmore (calf) ran routes and moved well in a pre-game workout, an encouraging development for next week’s game in San Francisco. Veteran Dennis Pitta (hip) also ran routes prior to Sunday’s game, but head coach John Harbaugh said Friday there is no change in his status as he remains on the reserve physically unable to perform list.
For the Browns, starting cornerback Joe Haden (finger/ribs) and starting receiver Brian Hartline (ribs/thigh) were both active after being listed as questionable on the final injury report. Starting free safety Tashaun Gipson (ankle) was officially ruled out on Friday.
These teams are meeting for the 33rd time with the Ravens holding an overwhelming 24-8 advantage and 13-3 mark in Baltimore. However, five of the last seven games have been decided by one possession and the Ravens trailed in the fourth quarter of both wins over Cleveland last season.
The Sunday afternoon forecast calls for sunny skies with temperatures in the high 60s and very light winds.
Referee Jeff Triplette and his crew will officiate Sunday’s game.
The Ravens are wearing black jerseys with black pants while Cleveland dons its white tops with brown pants.
Here are Sunday’s inactives:
WR Steve Smith
WR Breshad Perriman
RB Lorenzo Taliaferro
CB Rashaan Melvin
OL Ryan Jensen
TE Crockett Gillmore
DE Chris Canty
QB Austin Davis
RB Shaun Draughn
RB Robert Turbin
FS Tashuan Gipson
LB Craig Robertson
WR Dwayne Bowe
TE E.J. Bibbs
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Posted on 10 October 2015 by Luke Jones
Hosting Cleveland has been the Ravens’ closest experience to a homecoming game for more than 15 years.
Owning a 13-3 all-time mark over the Browns in Baltimore and winning 13 of the last 14 meetings overall, the Ravens have appeared to barely break a sweat if you only look at the win-loss record. But the narrative has changed ever so slightly with five of the last seven games being decided by one possession.
In the 2014 regular-season finale at M&T Bank Stadium, the Ravens trailed Cleveland in the fourth quarter before scoring 17 points to send them to victory and their sixth trip to the playoffs in seven years. Now, both teams are fighting for their 2015 lives with matching 1-3 records and plenty of question marks on both sides of the ball.
It’s time to go on the record as the Ravens try to overcome injuries to Steve Smith and Crockett Gillmore to improve their all-time record to 25-8 over the Browns and climb back into the early AFC playoff race.
Here’s what to expect as the Ravens look to win their first game in Baltimore this season …
1. Justin Forsett will eclipse the 100-yard rushing mark for the second consecutive week. There’s a danger here of offensive coordinator Marc Trestman trying to outsmart himself as one could argue that the Ravens should come out throwing while Cleveland stacks the box trying to stop the run with Smith out. But why mess around when the Browns ranked last in the NFL in run defense last year and are 31st so far in 2015? Baltimore will use play-action fakes and Flacco will take shots here and there, but the Browns need to prove they can stop the run first and the Ravens will pound the ball until that happens. The offensive line play will pick up where it left off in Pittsburgh last week.
2. Browns running back Duke Johnson and tight end Gary Barnidge will combine to make 10 catches for 120 yards and a touchdown. Cleveland has allowed 14 sacks in four games this year and will be focused on stopping Elvis Dumervil coming off the edge, leading to lots of chips by Barnidge before quarterback Josh McCown checks down to him with short passes. The rookie Johnson has also proven to be an effective target out of the backfield, which could create issues for C.J. Mosley and Daryl Smith. With the Ravens devoting safety attention to the big-play capability of Travis Benjamin, Browns tight ends and running backs will have more success in the passing game.
3. Darren Waller will catch the first touchdown of his NFL career. Anyone telling you they have a good idea how the passing game is going to shake out on Sunday is only guessing as you just don’t remove a talent like Smith from the equation without major adjustments needing to be made. Kamar Aiken will receive opportunities as the No. 1 guy, but his performances against Denver (one catch for minus-1 yard) and Cincinnati (zero catches) make it difficult to trust him. After making his first NFL reception on the Ravens’ game-tying drive at the end of regulation a week ago, the 6-foot-6 Waller will catch his first touchdown as Flacco throws him a pretty fade inside the red zone in the first half.
4. Brandon Williams and Timmy Jernigan will each collect their first sack of the 2015 season. Defensive coordinator Dean Pees will try his best to move Dumervil away from Joe Thomas, but the Ravens need to continue to get inside pressure to minimize the glaring void left behind by Terrell Suggs. Za’Darius Smith provided the boost last week, but it will be Williams and Jernigan stepping up on Sunday. More of a run-stopping tackle, Williams has had a Pro Bowl-caliber season and has been the Ravens’ best defensive player in 2015. Meanwhile, Jernigan’s second season has been a disappointment so far as he’s fallen behind rookie Carl Davis and needs a strong performance against the Browns.
5. The better quarterback and the team with the home-field advantage will do enough to earn a 20-13 win. It’s unfair to expect too much from Joe Flacco when you look at the group of pass-catchers he’ll be throwing to on Sunday, but he needs to limit his mistakes, something he didn’t do in Pittsburgh last week. He won’t post gaudy numbers, but Flacco will play smarter football than McCown and the Baltimore defense will clamp down on a Cleveland offense short on playmakers in a sometimes-ugly, points-challenged contest. Neither team has shown many signs of being a good football team so far, but the Ravens own the edge playing at home in Week 5 and they’ll take advantage of it.
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Posted on 10 October 2015 by Luke Jones
Needing help in the return game, the Ravens promoted wide receiver and return specialist Jeremy Ross to the 53-man roster ahead of Sunday’s game against the Cleveland Browns.
Baltimore signed the 27-year-old to its practice squad at the start of the regular season after he was cut by Detroit in early September. Ross is expected to be in the return mix for the Ravens after second-year receiver Michael Campanaro suffered a season-ending back injury in Week 4, and he also gives them a fifth healthy receiver with Steve Smith and rookie Breshad Perriman currently injured.
Defensive tackle Christo Bilukidi was waived to make room on the roster after he was inactive for the first four games of the season.
After previously spending time with New England, Indianapolis, and Green Bay, Ross found success over the last two seasons with the Lions, returning a punt and a kickoff for touchdowns during the 2013 season. The 6-foot, 215-pound receiver also made 24 receptions for 314 yards and a touchdown last season.
Despite his ability in the return game, Ross has had problems with ball security, including a critical muffed punt for the Packers in a playoff loss to San Francisco during the 2012 season. The Cal product also fumbled three times as a return man for the Lions last season.
Playing in 34 games and making 15 starts in his four-year career, Ross was the only player in the NFL to score a touchdown by reception, punt return, and kickoff return during the 2013 season. He’s caught 30 receptions for 381 yards and two touchdowns while also averaging 12.3 yards per punt return and 25.2 yards per kick return in his NFL career.
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Posted on 09 October 2015 by Luke Jones
OWINGS MILLS, Md. — Despite head coach John Harbaugh saying last weekend that Steve Smith wouldn’t play in Sunday’s AFC North battle with the Cleveland Browns, the Ravens receiver hasn’t been officially ruled out.
Smith was designated as doubtful on the final injury report of the week, meaning he officially has no better than a 25 percent chance to be active. The 36-year-old isn’t expected to play after injuring his back in Pittsburgh, but the Ravens remain hopeful that he could return for next week’s game in San Francisco.
“Very optimistic,” Harbaugh said. “He’s working hard. He’s in there with the different equipment working really hard to get himself ready and making, I would say, good progress.”
The Ravens coach said early in the week that tight end Crockett Gillmore had “a chance” to play against Cleveland after missing the Week 4 contest, but he was officially ruled out along with defensive end Chris Canty (calf) and wide receiver Breshad Perriman (knee) after the trio missed all practices this week. Rookies Maxx Williams and Nick Boyle will once again fill in for Gillmore.
Canty hasn’t practiced since injuring his calf in Oakland in Week 2. Lawrence Guy is once again expected to fill in for him at the 5-technique defensive end spot.
Linebackers Albert McClellan (abdomen) and Daryl Smith (non-injury) were listed as probable after returning to practice on Friday. Running back Lorenzo Taliaferro is also probable after missing Wednesday’s workout with a lingering foot issue.
Meanwhile, Cleveland will be without starting free safety Tashaun Gipson, who missed his third straight practice with an ankle injury and was officially ruled out on Friday. Gipson was wearing a walking boot at the Browns’ practice facility this week.
Pro Bowl cornerback Joe Haden is questionable for Sunday’s game as he continues to deal with a broken finger.
The referee for Sunday’s game will be Jeff Triplette.
Sunday’s forecast calls for mostly sunny skies with temperatures in the high 60s and light winds, according to Weather.com.
Below is the final injury report of the week:
OUT: DE Chris Canty (calf), TE Crockett Gillmore (calf), WR Breshad Perriman (knee)
DOUBTFUL: WR Steve Smith (back)
PROBABLE: LB Albert McClellan (abdomen), OT Eugene Monroe (concussion), LB Daryl Smith (non-injury), RB Lorenzo Taliaferro (foot), G Marshal Yanda (ankle)
OUT: DB Tashaun Gipson (ankle), LB Craig Robertson (ankle)
DOUBTFUL: RB Shaun Draughn (back)
QUESTIONABLE: DE Desmond Bryant (shoulder), LB Karlos Dansby (ankle), CB Joe Haden (ribs/finger), WR Brian Hartline (ribs/thigh), LB Scott Solomon (ankle), RB Robert Turbin (ankle)
PROBABLE: DB Johnson Bademosi (elbow), RB Duke Johnson (ankle), QB Johnny Manziel (right elbow), OT Mitchell Schwartz (thumb), S Donte Whitner (illness), DB K’Waun Williams (concussion)
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Posted on 08 October 2015 by Luke Jones
OWINGS MILLS, Md. — While the wide receiver position remains in flux due to injuries, the Ravens are once again facing the possibility of being without their starting tight end against Cleveland on Sunday.
Crockett Gillmore missed practice again on Thursday as he continues to recover from a calf injury suffered in the Week 3 loss to Cincinnati. Rookies Maxx Williams and Nick Boyle would fill bigger roles in the offense for a second straight week if Gillmore is unable to play.
Williams and Boyle combined to make five catches for 29 yards in the 23-20 overtime win at Pittsburgh.
Wide receivers Steve Smith (back) and Breshad Perriman (knee), defensive end Chris Canty (calf), and linebackers Albert McClellan (abdomen) and Daryl Smith were also absent from Thursday’s practice. McClellan was a new addition to the injury report while Daryl Smith received a veteran day off as he often does during Thursday practices.
After being listed as a limited participant with an ankle issue on Wednesday, Pro Bowl right guard Marshal Yanda was a full participant, removing any concern regarding his status against the Browns. Left tackle Eugene Monroe remains on track to receive his first game action on Sunday since suffering a concussion on the first series of the season opener on Sept. 13.
Backup running back Lorenzo Taliaferro returned to practice on a limited basis after resting a lingering foot issue.
Meanwhile, the Browns were without starting free safety Tashaun Gipson (ankle) for a second straight day and starting wide receiver Brian Hartline was a new addition to the injury report after sitting out Thursday’s workout with rib and thigh injuries.
Below is Thursday’s full injury report:
DID NOT PARTICIPATION: DE Chris Canty (calf), TE Crockett Gillmore (calf), LB Albert McClellan (abdomen), WR Breshad Perriman (knee), LB Daryl Smith (non-injury), WR Steve Smith (back)
LIMITED PARTICIPATION: RB Lorenzo Taliaferro (foot)
FULL PARTICIPATION: OT Eugene Monroe (concussion), G Marshal Yanda (ankle)
DID NOT PARTICIPATION: RB Shaun Draughn (back), S Tashaun Gipson (ankle), WR Brian Hartline (ribs/thigh), LB Craig Robertson (ankle)
LIMITED PARTICIPATION: DE Desmond Bryant (shoulder), LB Karlos Dansby (ankle), CB Joe Haden (ribs/finger), LB Scott Solomon (ankle), RB Robert Turbin (ankle)
FULL PARTICIPATION: DB Johnson Bademosi (elbow), RB Duke Johnson (ankle), QB Johnny Manziel (right elbow), T Mitchell Schwartz (thumb), DE Randy Starks (non-injury), OT Joe Thomas (non-injury), S Donte Whitner (illness), CB K’Waun Williams (concussion)
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Posted on 07 October 2015 by WNST Staff
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