Tag Archive | "bryant mckinnie"

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Ravens trade veteran tackle McKinnie to Miami

Posted on 21 October 2013 by Luke Jones

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After trading for new starting left tackle Eugene Monroe earlier in the month, the Ravens have dealt veteran Bryant McKinnie to the Miami Dolphins.

Coach John Harbaugh said the Ravens would receive a conditional late-round pick on Monday afternoon prior to the trade being officially finalized.

McKinnie’s future with Baltimore appeared to be in grave doubt after Monroe was acquired for fourth- and fifth-round selections in next year’s draft to replace the 34-year-old along a struggling offensive line. McKinnie made five starts for the Ravens after signing a two-year deal this offseason to remain in Baltimore.

“It’s a good move for us. I think it’s a good move for Bryant,” Harbaugh said. “I’m happy for Bryant. I think it’s a good opportunity for him. More than anything, that’s the most important thing. It’s just an opportunity for Bryant to go down there and play and do well.”

With Monroe making his first start against the Green Bay Packers in Week 6, McKinnie was listed as inactive in each of the last two games and was open to a trade elsewhere. McKinnie’s departure leaves rookie Rick Wagner as the Ravens’ primary backup tackle behind Monroe and right tackle Michael Oher as the fifth-round lineman from Wisconsin has served as an extra blocker in the jumbo package in recent weeks.

The trade is a homecoming of sorts for McKinnie, who played at the University of Miami before becoming a first-round pick in the 2002 draft and spending the first nine years of his career with the Minnesota Vikings.

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Monroe officially set to make Ravens debut against Packers

Posted on 12 October 2013 by Luke Jones

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Head coach John Harbaugh confirmed what had been considered all but a certainty throughout the week as newly-acquired left tackle Eugene Monroe will not only make his Ravens debut against the Green Bay Packers but will also start.

With more than a week of preparation under his belt after being acquired in a trade with the Jacksonville Jaguars, Monroe will replace veteran Bryant McKinnie as the starting left tackle on Sunday. The 26-year-old Monroe has put in long hours at the team’s Owings Mills facility getting caught up to speed with run-game coordinator Juan Castillo and offensive line coach Andy Moeller about the Ravens’ blocking schemes.

“He did a heck of a job this week. He looks good,” coach John Harbaugh said. “I would anticipate that he’ll play quite a bit — possibly start. You might even say probably start at this point — that would be my anticipation right now. Unless something changes between now and then, he’ll be the starter at left tackle.”

Selected with the eighth overall pick of the 2009 draft, Monroe had spent his entire career with the Jaguars before he was traded the Baltimore in exchange for two third-day picks in next year’s draft. He won a total of 22 games in five years with Jacksonville, making it understandable for the University of Virginia product to feel energized in joining the defending Super Bowl champions.

However, Monroe tempered that excitement over his debut on Friday in explaining his need to be on the same page with his new offensive line mates.

“I approach game day the same way I do every week regardless of the situation,” Monroe said. “Excitement’s not an emotion that necessarily helps you perform as far as precision. I’ll need to be precise this week and be on top of my game since everything is brand-new. I am excited, but I’ll be focused.”

Meanwhile, McKinnie revealed to reporters he has been dealing with swelling in his knee and even had it drained recently to ease some of the discomfort.

Harbaugh acknowledged giving McKinnie some rest this week while Monroe received more extensive work with the offensive line, but the veteran took the high road in saying he’ll continue to do his part despite speculation that he could be traded after losing his starting position. It remains unclear whether the Ravens would be willing to weaken their new-found offensive line depth by trading McKinnie.

“Bryant has had a very good week as well,” Harbaugh said. “We didn’t practice him Wednesday just for soreness from the game and things like that, but he’s practiced the rest of the time and he looks good.”

Reports on McClain favorable

Though Ravens linebacker Jameel McClain isn’t eligible to begin practicing until next week as he is currently on the reserve physically unable to perform list, Harbaugh confirmed reports earlier in the week painting an improved medical outlook for the sixth-year defensive player.

McClain sustained a spinal cord contusion last December and hasn’t played since then in waiting for magnetic resonance imaging to show improvement to the point that he can return to football. The Ravens have expressed confidence all along that the inside linebacker would eventually be cleared.

“I think it was reported that he was cleared, and there is some truth to that,” Harbaugh said. “The back specialists have looked at his most recent MRIs, and it’s very favorable. I’m not in position to sit here and say completely 100 percent — I don’t know that. There is a process still involved, but it’s encouraging to say the least. It’s all positive that way.”

Upon McClain’s expected return to the practice field — no starting date has yet been determined — the Ravens would have a 21-day window before they must return him to the 53-man roster, waive him, or place him on season-ending injured reserve.

Harbaugh proud of chest bump fail

Harbaugh gained notoriety earlier in the week for his attempted chest bump that was inadvertently denied by safety James Ihedigbo in last Sunday’s win over the Miami Dolphins.

The 51-year-old coach presented the clip to his players and showed a strong sense of humor when asked about it on Friday.

“I was kind of proud of the video,” said Harbaugh, drawing laughs from reporters in Owings Mills. “There was some good air between my feet and the ground there, absolutely. Then I played it off a little bit. I kind of turned and gave a little fist pump.”

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Incomplete product still keeping Ravens firmly in AFC picture

Posted on 06 October 2013 by Luke Jones

(This blog brought to you by Atlantic Remodeling. Visit www.atlanticremodeling.com to learn about their Red Cent Guarantee!)

A 26-23 bounce-back win on the road against the Miami Dolphins can’t mask a plethora of concerns for the Ravens through the first five weeks of the season.

A better effort in the second half doesn’t change the reality that the Baltimore offensive line had its behind kicked in the first 30 minutes of football. The soon-to-be-replaced Bryant McKinnie will receive the bulk of the criticism, but the Ravens’ problems up front won’t be solved by newcomer Eugene Monroe unless he has the ability to play all five positions along the line because no one played well in the first half.

The protection was so bad in the first 30 minutes that you feared for the safety of quarterback Joe Flacco and the run blocking managed just 33 yards on 15 carries at the intermission. To the unit’s credit, the Ravens were able to wear down the Dolphins’ front seven in the Miami heat in the second half by running 25 times for 100 yards and giving Flacco time to make several key connections at critical junctures to Torrey Smith and Tandon Doss.

Their second-half effort is something on which to build, but run-game coordinator Juan Castillo and offensive line coach Andy Moeller have a colossal amount of work to do in the coming weeks to find consistency up front to give the Ravens a better chance to win on a weekly basis.

Running back Ray Rice had his best game of the season, gaining 102 total yards on 33 touches, but more than a few observers have noticed a lack of explosiveness from the sixth-year back. It’s certainly fair to remember his recent hip flexor injury and the line’s shoddy play, but Rice hasn’t looked like the home-run hitter of past years and coughed up his second fumble of the year.

The defensive effort was strong overall, but the secondary was guilty of giving up five passing plays of 20 or more yards, including an inexplicable 46-yard completion to Brandon Gibson on fourth down that gave the Dolphins a last-ditch field goal attempt to tie the game. The secondary has been vulnerable at best this season and depends on great pressure from the front seven to be successful, which they received more often than not on Sunday.

But even with all those concerns that don’t appear to be going away anytime soon, the Ravens are tied for first place in the AFC North and don’t appear to be going away in the AFC playoff picture. In fact, Baltimore, Cincinnati, and Cleveland are each 3-2 with a plus-7 point differential through five weeks, evidence that nothing has come easy in the division.

The truth is no team beyond the Denver Broncos — with a forced nod to the 5-0 Chiefs since no one has beaten them yet, either — looks like a clear juggernaut in the conference. The Ravens may not pass the eyeball test, but neither have the likes of other perceived playoff contenders like the Texans and Dolphins, two teams Baltimore has disposed of already this season.

There’s plenty not to like about the Ravens, but there’s enough there to argue they’ll be in perfect position to make their sixth consecutive trip to the playoffs this January.

The wide receiver and tight end positions have been albatrosses thus far, but Torrey Smith is blossoming into one of the best receivers in the AFC after he recorded six catches for 121 yards against the Dolphins on Sunday. Smith has recorded no fewer than 85 receiving yards in any game this season and that’s while often facing bracketed coverage limiting his ability to go vertical like he would in his first two seasons. His 556 receiving yards puts him on pace to not only shatter his career high but to also record the best receiving season in franchise history.

Smith got some help from Doss and second-year wideout Deonte Thompson on Sunday, and Jacoby Jones and Marlon Brown should be back in the picture as early as next week. It would be foolish to jump to conclusions based on a couple nice catches against the Dolphins, but even tight end Ed Dickson reined in a 43-yard reception in the first half at Sun Life Stadium.

Despite its vulnerability in the secondary, the Ravens defense was monstrous up front against quarterback Ryan Tannehill with six sacks. Linebacker Terrell Suggs recorded the fifth three-sack game of his 11-year career and has dispelled any concerns that he couldn’t be the same player that he was before last year’s Achilles tendon injury. He’s now on pace for 22 sacks this season and has been everything the Ravens could have asked for defensively.

After a poor decision by offensive coordinator Jim Caldwell to call for a pass on third-and-22 deep in Ravens’ territory led to a game-tying interception return for a touchdown to tie the game with 8:03 remaining, Suggs responded with two sacks on the next defensive series when Miami had a chance to march down the field to take the lead. And after the excruciating deep completion to Gibson on the Dolphins’ final series of the game, fellow outside linebacker Elvis Dumervil — who’s been quiet after the first two games of the season — collected a sack that turned a potential 52-yard try into a long 57-yarder that harmless wobbled wide left with 33 seconds remaining.

Even if there is some hope for offensive improvement in the coming weeks, it’s becoming obvious that the Ravens will live and die with their defense as both losses this season included poor showings from that side of the football.

Kicker Justin Tucker was huge on Sunday — dismissing any hint of concern when he missed two field goals in the home opener last month — in connecting from three field goals 42 yards or more, including the game-winning 44-yard try with 1:42 remaining. An offense with little margin for error can take some consolation in knowing they’re virtually guaranteed a minimum of three points when they manage to move inside the opponent’s 35-yard line based on Tucker’s overall body of work since last season.

But perhaps the biggest reason to have hope over the final 11 games of the season is the steady hand of Flacco, who bounced back from last week’s five-interception debacle with a courageous effort in which he was battered for most of the second half. His interception returned for a touchdown came after McKinnie allowed rookie Dion Jordan to blow by him to hit the quarterback’s arm as he threw, but Flacco’s final statistics don’t explain how well he was able to hold up.

Flacco had only three healthy receivers and stood behind a porous offensive line without injured left guard Kelechi Osemele for a gritty 60-minute performance. Much like the Ravens on Sunday, his performance wasn’t pretty, but it was good enough.

As was the case last year when they ultimately won their second championship in franchise history, the Ravens aren’t easy on the eyes and have much about them not to like. Only time will tell if they’re able to overcome their potentially-fatal flaws, but they’re finding ways to win early in the year.

And that’s not a different story from most of the AFC, leaving them right in the mix with a 3-2 record at the start of October.

 

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Ravens hope Monroe trade provides wake-up call as well as long-term dividend

Posted on 02 October 2013 by Luke Jones

(This blog brought to you by Atlantic Remodeling. Visit www.atlanticremodeling.com to learn about their Red Cent Guarantee!)

OWINGS MILLS, Md. — Much like the decision to fire offensive coordinator Cam Cameron less than 10 months ago, the Ravens’ move to trade for Jacksonville Jaguars left tackle Eugene Monroe seemingly came out of nowhere Tuesday despite massive concerns on the offensive side of the football.

As was the case last December, making such a bold move in the middle of a season goes against what we’ve come to recognize as the Ravens’ methodical DNA over the 18-year history of the franchise, but it’s difficult to argue against the effort to improve an offense ranked 28th in total yards, 28th in rushing yards, and tied for 15th in points per game through the first quarter of the season. The trade essentially signals the end of the Bryant McKinnie era in Baltimore — whether the 34-year-old remains as a backup or is moved to another team remains to be seen — but general manager Ozzie Newsome doesn’t act swiftly without the big picture in mind.

The decision to add the fifth-year tackle Monroe serves as a wake-up call to the entire offense more so than a simple indictment of McKinnie’s disappointing play through the first four weeks of the season as the veteran tackle was far from the only — or biggest — problem plaguing the Ravens. Monroe represents an opportunity to upgrade one area while sending a message that no one is beyond reproach.

“Everybody will take the message however they take it,” coach John Harbaugh said. “I don’t know a message is so much intended. We always want to improve, we want to be the best team we can be every single way across the board, and whatever that message is, it is.”

The response to Monday’s trade in the Ravens locker room wasn’t bubbling over with optimism — left tackles that play outside your division don’t exactly receive a ton of attention — but a common theme expressed by members of the offensive line as well as other teammates was the need to keep working to improve. Considered no more than an above-average tackle by the most-generous talent evaluators, Monroe won’t fix the Ravens’ other offensive issues at center, wide receiver, and tight end, but he could be a part of the solution the offense still seeks to fix a running game averaging just 2.6 yards per carry so far this season and to pump life into a passing game with few dependable weapons.

The outside addition of Monroe brings youth to the left tackle position, but substantial improvements offensively will need to come from within. The Ravens were still maneuvering as of Tuesday afternoon to fit Monroe’s $3.8 million base salary under the $123 million salary cap before it was reported later in the evening that Jacksonville would handle most of the bill in the form of a bonus. Baltimore will only be on the hook for $547,000 of his salary while the Jaguars will pay about $2.4 million of his salary, according to Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports.

With such little cap space remaining, there are no easy fixes at this point.

“We just put our heads down every day and go to work,” right tackle Michael Oher said. “I don’t know what kind of message [the trade] can send. We just go to work and are trying to get things corrected.”

The Ravens will send fourth and fifth-round draft choices to Jacksonville in exchange for Monroe, which isn’t a light price knowing how Newsome and the front office value those choices every year. However, the Ravens will receive four compensatory picks in next April’s draft, easing the loss of those choices.

Even so, Newsome and the Ravens couldn’t pass on the opportunity of acquiring a 26-year-old tackle with the quickness to succeed in run-game coordinator Juan Castillo’s zone blocking schemes. Since the retirement of Hall of Famer Jonathan Ogden following the 2007 season, the Ravens have searched for a long-term solution at left tackle with Jared Gaither, Oher, and the veteran McKinnie not fitting the part. And Newsome saw how difficult it was to find one this offseason with limited cap space for the open market and the 32nd overall pick of the first round, eventually settling on a two-year deal with McKinnie.

Hapless Jacksonville provided a unique opportunity for the Ravens to nab a left tackle before he hits free agency and the possibility of the kind of bidding war in which Newsome rarely engages. Only time will tell if the Ravens will sign Monroe to a long-term deal as Oher’s rookie contract will also expire after the season.

Playing for the woeful Jaguars his entire career, Monroe hasn’t lived up to the hype of being the eighth overall pick of the 2009 draft, but his age and athleticism could be attractive in providing the Ravens with long-term stability at a position that’s been in flux for franchise quarterback Joe Flacco’s entire career. Furthermore, the Ravens generally aren’t in the business of trading multiple draft picks for a short-term fix.

The possibility of Monroe being an answer at left tackle for the next few years would be much more valuable than the short-term wake-up call to help a flawed Ravens offense for the remainder of the 2013 season.

“Tackle is a hot commodity in the league,” running back Ray Rice said. “Anytime you find a young tackle that’s as athletic as him, have a chance to get him, and take him out of a situation where he can get a fresh start — it usually works out in the guy’s favor. I’m looking forward to getting him here and catching him up to speed.”

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J. Jones returns to practice; Webb, M. Brown absent on Wednesday

Posted on 02 October 2013 by Luke Jones

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OWINGS MILLS, Md. — Sidelined since the season opener with an MCL sprain of his right knee, Ravens wide receiver Jacoby Jones returned to the practice field on Wednesday for the first time in nearly a month.

The 29-year-old practiced on a limited basis as he took part in his first workout since suffering the knee injury against the Denver Broncos in Week 1. It remains unclear whether Jones will be ready to return to game action this weekend as the Ravens travel to Miami to take on the 3-1 Dolphins, but it’s another step in regaining a valuable piece of the team’s offensive puzzle.

“Having more guys available is going to impact everybody’s number of snaps,” said coach John Harbaugh when asked how Jones’ return might affect the playing time of rookie Marlon Brown and other younger receivers. “Hopefully, we can use all those guys in really positive ways and improve our offense.”

Wide receiver Brandon Stokley (groin) practiced in a limited capacity after missing Sunday’s game in Buffalo, but Brown (hamstring) and second-year receiver Deonte Thompson (concussion) were non-participants on Wednesday. Harbaugh provided a favorable report on all three players Monday, so it’s believed that Brown and Thompson have a reasonable chance of playing in Week 5 if they can log some practice time before week’s end.

Cornerback Lardarius Webb (hamstring), linebacker Albert McClellan (shoulder), defensive tackle Terrence Cody (knee), and offensive lineman Ryan Jensen (foot) did not participate in Wednesday’s practice.

Less than 24 hours after news broke of the Ravens’ trade for Jacksonville left tackle Eugene Monroe in exchange for fourth- and fifth-round picks, incumbent tackle Bryant McKinnie was practicing despite a report from The Sun of the organization potentially seeking a trade of the 34-year-old lineman. The trade for Monroe hadn’t officially been completed for the 26-year-old to practice on Wednesday, leaving his status against Miami up in the air.

“We’ll see as we go. Obviously, we’re bringing Eugene in to play,” Harbaugh said. “How soon that can happen remains to be seen. The main thing is it makes us better.”

As expected, safety Jeromy Miles (hamstring) and rookie inside linebacker Arthur Brown (pectoral strain) were both present and working during Wednesday’s practice. Both participated in all practices last week but were ruled inactive in the loss to Buffalo.

For the Miami Dolphins, linebacker Dannell Ellerbe (knee) and defensive end Cameron Wake (knee) were limited participants. Wake did not play in the Dolphins’ Week 4 loss to New Orleans and is regarded as one of the best pass rushers in the NFL.

Here is Wednesday’s injury report:

BALTIMORE
DID NOT PARTICIPATE: WR Marlon Brown (thigh), DT Terrence Cody (knee), C Ryan Jensen (foot), LB Albert McClellan (shoulder), WR Deonte Thompson (head), CB Lardarius Webb (thigh)
LIMITED PARTICIPATION: WR Brandon Stokley (thigh), LB Arthur Brown (shoulder), RB Shaun Draughn (ankle), WR Jacoby Jones (knee)

MIAMI
DID NOT PARTICIPATE: S Don Jones (elbow), CB Dimitri Patterson (elbow), LB Jason Trusnik (rib)
LIMITED PARTICIPATION: CB Nolan Carroll (ankle), S Chris Clemons (glute), LB Dannell Ellerbe (knee), WR Brandon Gibson (ankle), LB Koa Misi (shoulder), DE Cameron Wake (knee)
FULL PARTICIPATION: LB Jonathan Freeney (shoulder), DT Paul Soliai (knee)

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Ravens acquire Jaguars left tackle Monroe for third-day picks

Posted on 01 October 2013 by Luke Jones

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With plenty of concerning surrounding their offensive line, the Ravens have reportedly made a significant move to address the situation with the acquisition of Jaguars left tackle Eugene Monroe.

According to multiple reports, general manager Ozzie Newsome is sending fourth- and fifth-round picks in the 2014 draft to Jacksonville in exchange for Monroe, a fifth-year tackle who has started 62 games in his NFL career after being selected with the eighth overall pick of the 2009 draft. He is under contract through this season with a base salary of $3.8 million after voiding the 2014 year of his original rookie deal.

Monroe is regarded as an above-average left tackle by most in the league, but his days in Jacksonville appeared numbered when the Jaguars selected offensive tackle Luke Joeckel with the second overall pick in this past April’s draft.

“It was shocking news,” Monroe told The Associated Press. “It came out of nowhere for me. I’m just preparing to make the move. It’s a fresh start.”

The move creates a gloomy picture for veteran left tackle Bryant McKinnie, who has struggled through the first four games of the season. McKinnie signed a two-year, $6.3 million deal that included a $2 million signing bonus in May to remain in Baltimore after fielding other free-agent offers from Miami and San Diego.

McKinnie told WNST.net he was aware of the trade and that the coaching staff had informed him of the move before the news broke late Tuesday night. Though McKinnie hasn’t been the biggest problem along the offensive line, the Ravens rank 28th in rushing offense and are averaging an anemic 2.6 yards per carry this season after setting a franchise record for fewest rushing attempts (nine) in their Week 4 loss to Buffalo.

The 6-foot-5, 306-pound Monroe went to the University of Virginia and is expected to arrive in Baltimore to take his physical on Wednesday.

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Ravens prepared to contain Bills’ Manuel, read option

Posted on 26 September 2013 by Luke Jones

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OWINGS MILLS, Md. — The Ravens spent time throughout the offseason preparing to stop the read option after the offensive attack took the league by storm during the 2012 season.

According to defensive coordinator Dean Pees, the Ravens spent every other day during organized team activities and training camp completing a read-option period during practices to prepare themselves for matchups like Sunday when they travel to Buffalo to take on rookie quarterback EJ Manuel and standout running back C.J. Spiller. Under new head coach Doug Marrone, the Bills’ have used the read option at points during their first three games, giving the Ravens their first look at the wide-open rushing attack since facing San Francisco in Super Bowl XLVII last February.

“You enjoy a challenge. If you’re a football player, you don’t want the same thing every week,” linebacker Terrell Suggs said. “You want a little different [offense], and we love that we get the opportunity again to play against one of these up-and-coming quarterbacks [and] dual threat like EJ Manuel. It’s going to be a challenge.”

The Bills’ version of the read option appears to be working well on the surface with their rushing attack ranked fifth in the NFL, but the transition has been a work in progress as Manuel and Spiller haven’t always made proper reads and the offensive line’s blocking has been suspect. Of particular concern is Spilller, who is averaging just 3.6 yards per carry after averaging an astonishing 6.0 yards per rushing attempt a year ago.

Fortunately for Buffalo, backup Fred Jackson has picked up the slack by running for 169 yards on 32 carries, making him another dangerous weapon to watch for when the Bills try to run the read option. Patience and following one’s assignment is the key to slowing the novelty offense that hasn’t found the same success this season around the league as it did last year.

“Have good eyes,” said Pees, who credited mobile backup quarterback Tyrod Taylor for giving the Ravens a good look in practices. “That’s the No. 1 thing. When you’re playing any kind of option team, when you start looking at things you shouldn’t look at, that’s when you get beat. If I’ve got the quarterback, my eyes have got to be on the quarterback. It’s a little bit like in coverage. Most of the time when a guy gets beat in coverage, it’s because of the eyes.”

Manuel was sacked an astonishing eight times in the Bills’ loss to the Jets last Sunday, so the Ravens will be licking their chops to make life miserable for the rookie quarterback. However, pocket containment will be vitally important as Manuel is a bigger threat to take off and run compared to the three starting quarterbacks the Ravens have faced so far this season.

The Florida State product has carried 13 times for 76 yards in three games, but the Ravens rank sixth in the league with 11 sacks.

“You just definitely have to make sure we can contain him every time,” linebacker Daryl Smith said. “If whoever is coming off the edge, whether it’s an end or linebacker, if they take the inside move, the quarterback definitely can escape and has the speed to get out and get the first down or do whatever he wants to do. We’ve been talking about it this week and definitely have a plan to make sure we always have edges on the defense.”

Looking for improvement from McKinnie

After appearing to be laboring during Wednesday’s practice, left tackle Bryant McKinnie appeared more active and mobile a day later as the Ravens hope to see improvement from the 34-year-old veteran.

The entire offensive line has struggled to block in the running game — an area that’s never been McKinnie’s biggest strength — but the left tackle has struggled in pass protection the last two weeks and was flagged for two facemask penalties in the first half of the win over the Texans.

“There’s always a work in progress in that area, and I think he’s working at it, trying to get better at what he does,” said offensive coordinator Jim Caldwell, who emphasized a need for everyone — including him — to improve. “He’s a professional and he’s trying to improve every single day. [Run-game coordinator Juan Castillo] does a great job with those guys. They work and they work extremely hard. I think Juan is getting him to the point where he’s moving in the right direction.”

McKinnie’s three-year tenure in Baltimore has been bumpy to say the least as he didn’t start a game in the regular season last year and reported to training camp overweight this summer and was held out of the first day of practice for veterans.

Thompson in mix as kick returner

With Pro Bowl return specialist Jacoby Jones still sidelined with an MCL injury in his right knee and No. 3 running back Shaun Draughn dealing with a high ankle sprain, the Ravens could have a new face in the return game in Buffalo.

Wide receiver Deonte Thompson has practiced on a limited basis for two straight days and is listed as the Ravens’ backup kickoff returner behind Jones on the depth chart. In his rookie season, the speedy wideout served as the kick returner before a critical fumble against the Kansas City Chiefs in Week 5.

“Deonte demonstrated a year ago that he has the skills to do that,” said Rosburg, referring to Thompson’s 25.9 yard per return average in 15 attempts. “He’s had success, too, and he understands it. He’d probably be pretty excited about that opportunity should it come his way.”

Should Draughn be inactive, the Ravens would likely turn to either Thompson or fellow wide receiver Tandon Doss, who returned a punt 82 yards for a touchdown last week.

Ravens glad Miles now on their side

Special teams coordinator Jerry Rosburg smiled when asked about the acquisition of former Cincinnati safety Jeromy Miles off waivers earlier this week.

A rookie free agent from the University of Massachusetts in 2010, the fourth-year safety can play in all phases of special teams and would figure to play a prominent role considering rookie safety Brynden Trawick was active for all of the Ravens’ first three games. With Miles serving as a prominent special-teams player in the Bengals’ units, the Ravens were very familiar with him.

“We’ve had to block Jeromy Miles for the last few years,” Rosburg said. “We’ve had him blocking us the last few years. We’re excited he’s on our team doing those things for us, because he’s been a force in our division. We’re really happy he’s on our team.”

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Rice practices for second straight day; Marlon Brown returns to field

Posted on 26 September 2013 by Luke Jones

(This blog brought to you by Atlantic Remodeling. Visit www.atlanticremodeling.com to learn about their Red Cent Guarantee!)

OWINGS MILLS, Md. — The Ravens’ injury picture continued to improve on Thursday as running back Ray Rice practiced for the second straight day and starting wide receiver Marlon Brown returned to the field after a one-day absence.

Rice (hip flexor strain) worked on a limited basis Wednesday and was moving very well during the open portion of Thursday’s practice, making it very likely that the Pro Bowl running back will return to action Sunday against the Buffalo Bills. The 26-year-old missed his first game since his 2008 rookie season this past Sunday.

“Anytime that you have Ray [Rice] on the field … He’s a game-breaker. Not only in terms of being able to run the ball, which we all know and understand, but also in the passing game. He’s like lighting in a bottle. Having him certainly opens things up. You have to be concerned about him, and he feels good right now, so things are going well.”

Brown did not participate on Wednesday and is dealing with a neck injury, but he was a full participant during Thursday’s practice as he’s filled a significant role in the offense with the absence of speedy wide receiver Jacoby Jones. Third-string running back Shaun Draughn (ankle) also returned to practice a day after sitting out but was moving slowly as he continues to recover from a high ankle sprain suffered in Week 3.

In addition to Rice, defensive end Chris Canty (groin), linebacker Arthur Brown (pectoral), and wide receiver Deonte Thompson (foot) all practiced on a limited basis for the second straight day after missing this past Sunday’s game against Houston.

Offensive lineman Ryan Jensen (foot), rush specialist Pernell McPhee (knee), defensive tackle Terrence Cody (knee), and Jones (knee) did not participate in Thursday’s practice. Of those four, only McPhee would appear to have any real chance to play against the Buffalo Bills on Sunday.

Left tackle Bryant McKinnie appeared to be moving around much better than he did on Wednesday when he took fewer reps than normal, but the veteran lineman wasn’t listed on Wednesday’s injury report.

After 10 Buffalo players did not practice on Wednesday, the Bills upgraded five of the sidelined to limited participant as wide receiver Stevie Johnson (hamstring), cornerback Leodis McKelvin (hamstring), defensive tackle Kyle Williams (Achilles), and defensive end Mario Williams (ankle) were all working on Thursday.

BALTIMORE
OUT: WR Jacoby Jones (knee)
DID NOT PARTICIPATE: DT Terrence Cody (knee), C Ryan Jensen (foot), LB/DE Pernell McPhee (knee)
LIMITED PARTICIPATION: LB Arthur Brown (chest), DE Chris Canty (thigh), RB Ray Rice (hip), WR Deonte Thompson (foot), DT Brandon Williams (toe), RB Shaun Draughn (ankle)
FULL PARTICIPATION: WR Marlon Brown (neck)

BUFFALO
DID NOT PARTICIPATE: DB Ron Brooks (foot), DT Alex Carrington (quad), CB Stephon Gilmore (wrist), WR Marquise Goodwin (hand), K Dustin Hopkins (R. groin)
LIMITED PARTICIPATION: FS Jarius Byrd (foot), DT Marcell Dareus (ankle), WR Stevie Johnson (hamstring), CB Leodis McKelvin (hamstring), G Kraig Urbik (knee), DT Kyle Williams (Achilles), DE Mario Williams (ankle)
FULL PARTICIPATION: G Doug Legursky (knee), RB C.J. Spiller (quad)

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McKinnie, J. Jones offer accounts of party bus incident

Posted on 26 September 2013 by Luke Jones

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After a party bus altercation in Washington, D.C. that gained national attention on Monday, Ravens left tackle Bryant McKinnie and wide receiver Jacoby Jones offered their thoughts Wednesday night on what really happened during the offensive lineman’s birthday celebration early Monday morning.

McKinnie’s account doesn’t support the TMZ report saying Jones was struck in the head with a champagne bottle by an exotic dancer named Sweet Pea. The 34-year-old said on his weekly radio show with WNST.net that the TMZ source may have been paid for the story.

“He didn’t get hit over the head with a bottle,” McKinnie said. “You had a girl who managed to find her way on the bus at the end of the night. She wasn’t invited.”

Meanwhile, Jones took accountability for being present at the scene but insisted that there was no foul play on his part. The return specialist was ruled out for Sunday’s game as he continues to rehab the MCL injury he suffered in the season opener on Sept. 5.

Coach John Harbaugh said Jones was fine on Monday and took part in his normal schedule of activity after the police report said the wide receiver refused medical attention at the scene of the incident despite having a laceration.

“I’m going to take the responsibility that I was in the wrong place at the wrong time,” Jones told WJZ-FM radio. “There was no altercation. There’s nothing wrong. I did nothing wrong, but I take responsibility for being in the wrong place at the wrong time. Enough said. I apologize to my teammates and everybody.”

McKinnie acknowledged that teammates and friends were present for the celebration but insisted there were no shenanigans involving adult entertainers for the night out in the nation’s capital.

The left tackle said the party bus attendees included “me, my teammates, and my friends that came in town for the game and for my birthday and stuff like that. Not any strippers. I don’t know where this came from.”

According to McKinnie, the Ravens had some fun at his and Jones’ expense during Wednesday’s practice as “Sweet Pea” by Tommy Roe was played during the workout.

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Flacco fires back at Lewis’ criticism of Ravens leadership

Posted on 25 September 2013 by Luke Jones

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OWINGS MILLS, Md. — Starting quarterback Joe Flacco wasn’t the first to defend the Ravens’ current leadership in response to former teammate Ray Lewis’ criticism earlier in the week, but his words rang the loudest on Wednesday.

Responding to Lewis’ comments made on ESPN questioning the team’s current leaders in the aftermath of the party bus altercation that resulted in wide receiver Jacoby Jones being smashed in the head with a champagne bottle early Monday morning, Flacco defended the team’s recent track record when it comes to off-field behavior and downplayed how much leadership can influence what players do away from football.

“It is what it is. Ray knows better than that,” Flacco said. “Things happen. I think we’re usually a pretty good team with stuff like that. If you look around the league, there are probably a lot of leadership problems then. So, like I said, Ray knows better.”

No charges were filed and there is no evidence to suggest any player who attended left tackle Bryant McKinnie’s birthday celebration committed any crimes, making the story inconsequential in Flacco’s eyes.

Coach John Harbaugh addressed the incident with the entire team on Monday, warning the players of the dangers of being out in public late at night.

“When you get the information of what happened, it just is what it is,” Flacco said. “You laugh about it, kind of. It’s funny some of the things that we deal with. I don’t really have too many comments on it, because they’d all be taken the wrong way and out of context. But it’s not really an issue.”

While Flacco stood his ground and took Lewis’ comments to task, linebacker Terrell Suggs took a more apologetic stance for the man he teamed with the defensive side of the ball for a decade. Suggs suggested Lewis’ words were taken out of context even though he was on camera speaking freely in response to the news of the incident.

It’s possible that Suggs only read the transcript of Lewis’ words or wasn’t familiar with what Lewis actually said, but the Ravens had to know questions would be asked of Suggs on Wednesday.

“I guess it’s something that I’ll have to hear him say,” Suggs said. “We all know the media can ‘word-play’ [and] misconstrue things. We texted Ray this morning. It’s one guy’s opinion. Like I said, we don’t know what was actually said. You can never take anything for face value. If he says it in front of a camera, it’s a different thing.”

Understandably, Suggs shares a closer relationship with Lewis than Flacco does, but his response to his longtime teammate’s criticism didn’t have near the impact of the stance taken by the quarterback.

A transcript of Lewis’ comments from Monday night are below:

“We talk about the transition of losing so many guys, a guy like myself and Ed Reed and other guys that are based off leadership. I’ve said it earlier: ‘Where would the leadership come from?’ Because the leadership is being strong in the locker room and winning games. Listen, talent sometimes can win you games. But when you talk about what’s going on off the field, that’s the most important place where leadership steps up.

“When you think about the Baltimore Ravens and the transition that they went through, they’re missing leadership right now. When you have an incident like that, the first thing a leader is going to do is find some way to dissolve everything that’s going on and actually dissolve it before it comes to that type of head or even gets to that point.

“When you talk about the Baltimore Ravens, they’re going to have to refocus and find some quick leaders in that locker room very quickly.”

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