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Ravens-Browns: Five predictions for Sunday

Posted on 15 September 2017 by Luke Jones

What will the Ravens defense do for an encore?

After recording their first shutout since 2009 in a 20-0 victory over Cincinnati, the Ravens host Cleveland in M&T Bank Stadium’s 20th home opener. And a defense that picked off Bengals veteran Andy Dalton four times and collected five sacks will face a rookie quarterback. Under head coach John Harbaugh, Baltimore hasn’t lost a home game to a first-year quarterback.

A victory would give the Ravens their fourth 2-0 start in Harbaugh’s 10 seasons while the Browns are trying to avoid an 0-2 start that would put them in a last-place tie with Cincinnati. Both teams are on the road next week.

It’s time to go on the record as the Ravens look to improve to 17-2 against the Browns in the Harbaugh era. Baltimore swept the season series last year and is 27-9 against Cleveland and 14-4 against the AFC North opponent at home in the all-time series.

Below are five predictions for Sunday afternoon:

1. Buck Allen will lead the Ravens in receptions filling in for the injured Danny Woodhead. Much discussion this week has centered around the novelty of Michael Campanaro taking on Woodhead’s responsibilities, but a 191-pound receiver isn’t a threat to run between the tackles or pass block in the backfield. It’s easy to forget after Allen’s disappointing 2016 campaign, but he caught 45 passes for 353 yards and two touchdowns in 393 offensive snaps as a rookie. He’s the best in-house bet to try to replicate Woodhead, and the Ravens need him to do a decent impression for the offense to click.

2. Baltimore will register its first defensive touchdown in nearly two years. Despite finishing tied for fourth in the NFL with 28 takeaways a year ago, the Ravens defense wasn’t able to take any of those back to the end zone, which hurt with a below-average offense that often struggled to finish drives. Lardarius Webb came very close last week with his interception off a batted pass that was returned to the Cincinnati 2. Given the ability and depth of this defense going against a rookie quarterback, Sunday feels like the overdue time for the first defensive score since C.J. Mosley’s fumble return on Sept. 27, 2015.

3. Browns quarterback DeShone Kizer will show some moxie orchestrating a touchdown drive despite being sacked four times. The second-round pick from Notre Dame had his moments against Pittsburgh, but the challenge is even tougher on the road against a defense vying to be the NFL’s best. Kizer was sacked seven times in Week 1, but a few of those were a result of him holding the ball too long. The Ravens aren’t going to shut out their opponent and have five takeaways every week, but they’ll still create pressure against an offensive line better than the one they faced in the season opener.

4. Joe Flacco will connect with Mike Wallace for a long touchdown in an otherwise run-heavy day for the offense. The Ravens won’t carry the ball 40-plus times again, but it’s easy to be committed to the run when holding a lead at home like they will Sunday. That said, offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg does want to see more from Flacco and the passing game with some tough games approaching in the not-too-distant future. Browns cornerbacks Jason McCourty and Jamar Taylor are shaky at best, meaning Wallace will find enough space for a deep ball after a quiet Week 1 performance.

5. The Ravens will steadily remain in control in a 23-10 win to improve to 2-0 on the season. Cleveland has an improved roster and now needs to find out whether Kizer can be that elusive franchise quarterback the organization has lacked for decades. The Ravens will have their struggles moving the ball consistently against a decent front, but the Browns offense just isn’t going to do enough to seriously challenge in this game. It will be interesting to see what kind of progress Cleveland has made when these teams meet again in December, but the Ravens shouldn’t have too much trouble in Week 2.

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Twelve Ravens thoughts following 20-0 win over Cincinnati

Posted on 12 September 2017 by Luke Jones

With the Ravens posting their first shutout since 2009 in a 20-0 win over Cincinnati to begin the 2017 season, I’ve offered a dozen thoughts, each in 50 words or less:

1. C.J. Mosley’s end-zone interception in the second quarter was the turning point. Between that red-zone turnover and Andy Dalton’s poor throw to a wide-open Cody Core streaking down the sideline on the next drive, the Bengals could have led 10-3 late in the half. Instead, the Ravens dominated after that.

2. If that Mosley pick was the turning point, the 17-play drive lasting nearly 10 minutes in the third quarter killed what was left of Cincinnati’s spirit. The Ravens converted three times with runs on third-and-short on that long march. How many times has that happened in recent years?

3. I had to laugh at hearing some take exception with Joe Flacco’s quip that it wasn’t that fun for the offense while overlooking him saying winning was what mattered. So many complain about athletes being disingenuous in interviews, but then we never like what they have to say when honest.

4. Watching Terrell Suggs play at this stage of his career reminds me of Ray Lewis in his final few seasons. What he might lack physically compared to his younger self he makes up for with his impeccable mental preparation and instincts. He took Bengals left tackle Cedric Ogbuehi to school.

5. Other than a few exceptions, the Ravens generated most of their pocket pressure without using blitzes against the Bengals. Sending an extra defender or two in the right spot is great, but the special defenses can wreak havoc on the quarterback with a four-man rush.

6. It didn’t show up on the stat sheet, but Brandon Williams had one of the better games of his career as a pass rusher. His pressure on Dalton impacted the aforementioned poor pass that could have easily been a touchdown, and Pro Football Focus credited him with four quarterback pressures.

7. You can only hope Danny Woodhead is able to return sooner than later as you could see what kind of weapon he can be as a receiver out of the backfield and in the slot. Alas, the Ravens were aware of his injury history when they signed him in March.

8. Za’Darius Smith silenced critics with a strong preseason and looked like one of the best players on the field before injuring his left leg in the second quarter. Losing him would hurt Baltimore’s versatility as he can be used as an interior rusher in sub packages.

9. Buck Allen handled the No. 2 running back duties as his 21 carries more than doubled the nine total he received in his disappointing 2016 season. The running game wasn’t overwhelming, but it was up to the task of controlling the clock and protecting a sizable lead.

10. Between Marvin Lewis’ white-flag-waving punt from the Baltimore 43 with less than 10 minutes to go and trailing by 20 and Dalton throwing the ball away on fourth down inside the red zone on the following drive, the reaction is summed up nicely here:

11. Perhaps they haven’t yet realized, but it sure looks like the Bengals’ window with the current regime slammed shut after their colossal meltdown against Pittsburgh in the wild-card playoffs two years ago. Cincinnati’s offensive line made the Ravens’ questionable group look like the Dallas Cowboys.

12. I enjoyed seeing Zach Orr on the sideline and celebrating with Mosley after the latter’s key interception. You know Sunday had to be a bittersweet day for the retired linebacker, but he’ll have every opportunity to learn what it takes to be a coach or a scout this season.

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Breaking down the 2017 Ravens’ initial 53-man roster

Posted on 02 September 2017 by Luke Jones

A year after the Ravens surprisingly released veteran running back Justin Forsett on final cut-down day, there were no real surprises in the formulation of the first 53-man roster for the 2017 season.

The acquisitions of reserve offensive linemen Tony Bergstrom and Luke Bowanko likely pushed veteran Jeremy Zuttah and former practice-squad member Matt Skura off the roster, but cornerback Robertson Daniel and linebacker Brennen Beyer were the only other players from last year’s team not to survive Saturday’s final cuts and neither saw meaningful action in 2016.

More roster changes are inevitable in the coming days as Baltimore has already made two trades to augment its offensive line depth and could look for another running back or a veteran inside linebacker. General manager Ozzie Newsome should have another roster spot to play with once cornerback Maurice Canady is placed on injured reserve as expected. Still recovering from knee surgery, Canady needed to be on the initial 53-man roster to remain eligible for a designation to return later in the season.

The Ravens will certainly scan the open market for potential additions to enhance the roster that’s already been assembled as hundreds of players hit the waiver wire on Saturday. Beginning Sunday, they will also put together a 10-man practice squad with a number of Baltimore players who were cut over the weekend potentially returning to the organization.

Below are some early impressions of the 53-man roster as it stood on Saturday evening:

QUARTERBACKS (2) — Joe Flacco, Ryan Mallett
Analysis: The Ravens and their fans will continue to hold their breath until Flacco stays on the field and shows his back is no longer a concern after he was sidelined for the entire summer. However, the fact that there are only two quarterbacks on the roster leads you to believe the organization is confident that Flacco is truly healthy and ready to go. At the very least, you’d expect the Ravens to re-sign Josh Woodrum or another quarterback to the practice squad for some extra depth.

RUNNING BACKS (3) — Terrance West, Danny Woodhead, Buck Allen
Analysis: This group lost much of its upside after Kenneth Dixon suffered a season-ending knee injury right before training camp, but the unrest on the offensive line this summer made it difficult to evaluate the backs. Woodhead figures to be a major part of the passing game if healthy, but how well West fares as the No. 1 back will depend on how effectively the line gels. This is a position the Ravens should explore upgrading, especially if they can find a back possessing some return skills.

WIDE RECEIVERS (5) — Jeremy Maclin, Mike Wallace, Breshad Perriman, Michael Campanaro, Chris Moore
Analysis: The competition among a batch of young receivers on the preseason roster never really materialized as Moore, a 2016 fourth-round pick, did little to distinguish himself and still landed on the roster. The major question will be how quickly Flacco can build a rapport with Maclin, who didn’t sign with the Ravens until the week of mandatory minicamp in mid-June. It’s difficult to identify a trustworthy red-zone threat in this group, but that’s been a problem for this offense for years. 

TIGHT ENDS (4) — Nick Boyle, Benjamin Watson, Maxx Williams, Vince Mayle
Analysis: Few would have guessed Mayle would be one of four tight ends on the roster when there were questions months ago about how the Ravens would pick among six viable options. The losses of Dennis Pitta, Crockett Gillmore, and Darren Waller subtracted production, physicality, and upside from the equation, but Boyle has been solid and Watson and Williams are healthy. It remains to be seen whether the Ravens will get enough production from these tight ends as blockers or receivers.

OFFENSIVE LINEMEN (8) — Marshal Yanda, Ronnie Stanley, Ryan Jensen, James Hurst, Austin Howard, Jermaine Eluemunor, Tony Bergstrom, Luke Bowanko
Analysis: The Ravens finally have their projected starting offensive line on the practice field, but there are plenty of questions beyond Yanda and Stanley. Newsome attempted to address the depth by making two trades, but neither Bergstrom nor Bowanko are established commodities. Beyond taking a leap of faith that Greg Roman’s blocking schemes will work their magic, there isn’t a ton to love about this group on paper, which is unsettling when your quarterback is just returning from a back injury.

DEFENSIVE LINEMEN (8) — Brandon Williams, Michael Pierce, Brent Urban, Bronson Kaufusi, Chris Wormley, Carl Davis, Willie Henry, Patrick Ricard
Analysis: Eight defensive linemen in a 3-4 base system are too many, but the Ravens are smart not wanting to lose a talented defensive lineman just to keep an inferior player elsewhere. You would think the organization will attempt to use its defensive line depth to potentially acquire talent at another position of need or will eventually try to stash one with a injury. Of course, don’t dismiss the possibility of Ricard being used more as a fullback and blocking tight end to help justify the high number here.

INSIDE LINEBACKERS (4) — C.J. Mosley, Kamalei Correa, Patrick Onwuasor, Bam Bradley
Analysis: Correa hasn’t seized control of the starting job next to Mosley, leaving the door open for Onwuasor or even Bradley to potentially push him for playing time further into the season. The loss of special-teams standout Albert McClellan really hurts their depth as he could play any of the four linebacker positions, a valuable asset on Sundays with only 46 players active. Bradley earned his job with a strong summer, but a veteran addition to compete with Correa would ease some concerns.

OUTSIDE LINEBACKERS (5) — Terrell Suggs, Matt Judon, Tyus Bowser, Za’Darius Smith, Tim Williams
Analysis: Entering his 15th year, Suggs remains the soul of the defense and is still an above-average three-down outside linebacker, but you have to be intrigued with the young talent and depth here. Judon and Bowser have battled for the starting “Sam” linebacker spot with both looking like viable options while Za’Darius Smith solidified his roster standing as a situational rusher. Williams is raw, but he has shown impressive potential as a pure rush specialist, something this defense needs.

CORNERBACKS (6) — Jimmy Smith, Brandon Carr, Marlon Humphrey, Jaylen Hill, Sheldon Price, Maurice Canady
Analysis: The Ravens haven’t had this kind of outside corner depth in a long time with Humphrey likely to push the veteran Carr for his starting spot at some point in 2017. Tavon Young’s spring knee injury was a blow to the nickel spot, but the undrafted Hill may have been the best story of the summer after only receiving a tryout during rookie camp weekend. With safeties Lardarius Webb and Anthony Levine expected to play the nickel and dime spots, respectively, five cornerbacks are likely enough.

SAFETIES (5) — Eric Weddle, Tony Jefferson, Lardarius Webb, Anthony Levine, Chuck Clark
Analysis: The depth here is strong after Jefferson was signed to a lucrative deal to be a major factor against the run and in covering tight ends. There is plenty of room for defensive coordinator Dean Pees to be creative in the secondary with Webb and Levine having so much versatility. The rookie Clark will likely be more of a special-teams contributor than anything else, but the Ravens needed another safety with their primary backups projected to be so involved in sub packages.

SPECIALISTS (3) — Justin Tucker, Sam Koch, Morgan Cox
Analysis: This trio enters its sixth consecutive season together. That continuity is just one reason why these three are so tremendous at what they do.

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Two Pro Bowl players return to field for start of Ravens training camp

Posted on 27 July 2017 by Luke Jones

OWINGS MILLS, Md. — Having lost five players to season-ending injury, suspension, or retirement since June 1 and currently without starting quarterback Joe Flacco, the Ravens had to be excited to see two star players back on the field Thursday.

Six-time Pro Bowl guard Marshal Yanda and two-time Pro Bowl inside linebacker C.J. Mosley were present and working for the start of training camp after missing spring workouts. Both underwent offseason shoulder surgeries, and it hadn’t been clear when they would be ready to return this summer.

Yanda worked only on a limited basis, but his return alleviates any lingering concern about his availability for the start of the regular season. The 32-year-old missed three games with a left shoulder injury that forced him to move from right guard to the left side last season, but that didn’t stop him from making a sixth consecutive Pro Bowl.

Head coach John Harbaugh revealed in May that Mosley had undergone the procedure, but he was  active in his first practice since the end of last season. With Kamalei Correa taking over for former starter Zach Orr at the weak-side inside linebacker spot, the Ravens will count on Mosley to help tutor the 2016 second-round pick who only played sparingly as a rookie.

“C.J. really wants to go out and practice,” Harbaugh said. “He wants to get his legs underneath him and get moving. I thought he practiced great. Anytime your top players are out there, it makes you feel good.”

Free-agent newcomer Tony Jefferson sat out most of Thursday’s practice as Harbaugh revealed that he underwent sports hernia surgery after June’s mandatory minicamp. The strong safety told his coach that he’s 100 percent, but he was limited to individual work.

Former starter Lardarius Webb filled in for him next to Eric Weddle in the defensive backfield.

“He is so mad at me right now, but I put him through individual [drills] and held him out the rest of it,” said Harbaugh about Jefferson. “I just want to make sure that he does not burst too quickly and have something reoccur. That is my decision to ease him back in there a little bit.”

As expected, Flacco was absent from practice and is expected to sit out the first week in hopes of calming down a back issue. Backup Ryan Mallett took the first-team reps, but Ravens players downplayed any negative impact from Flacco’s absence at this early stage of camp.

“We’re all professionals,” wide receiver Jeremy Maclin said. “While you would like to have all your guns, if something doesn’t work, you have to move on to the next. The most important thing right now is for Joe to get healthy. When Joe is out here, we’ll get the work in. Right now, we’re going to get all the reps we can get in with Ryan.”

Defensive tackle Carl Davis (pectoral) and tight ends Benjamin Watson (Achilles tendon), Crockett Gillmore (hamstring), and Maxx Williams (knee) were all practicing after missing time during spring organized team activites.

Wide receiver Michael Campanaro (toe) remains on the active physically unable to perform list, but his return to practice is considered close.

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2017 Ravens training camp preview: Linebackers

Posted on 24 July 2017 by Luke Jones

With training camp beginning this week, we’ll take a look at a position group for the 2017 Ravens every day as they aim to return to the postseason for the first time since 2014.

Quarterbacks
Defensive line
Running backs
Cornerbacks
Wide receivers

LINEBACKERS

Projected depth chart:
RUSH – Terrell Suggs, Za’Darius Smith, Tim Williams, Randy Allen
MIKE – C.J. Mosley, Albert McClellan, Boseko Lokombo, Bam Bradley
WILL – Kamalei Correa, Patrick Onwuasor, Lamar Louis, Donald Payne
SAM – Matt Judon, Tyus Bowser, Brennen Beyer

Why to be impressed: Suggs remains the heart of the Baltimore defense, but Mosley made two Pro Bowls in his first three years and is positioned to become the long-term leader of the unit. Aiming to revamp the pass rush this offseason, Ozzie Newsome drafted Bowser and Williams to give the Ravens a total of four edge candidates under age 25 — Judon and Smith being the others — to work with Suggs.

Why to be concerned: The Ravens have not added a veteran inside linebacker to help fill the void left behind by Zach Orr and will be counting on Correa, who played a total of 48 defensive snaps as a rookie. So much youth looks great on paper, but Baltimore edge defenders not named Terrell Suggs have combined for 13 1/2 career sacks with the versatile McClellan accounting for three of those takedowns.

2017 outlook: There is plenty of intriguing upside in this group, but the Ravens need Suggs to continue fighting off Father Time in his 15th season and Judon and Smith to be productive while the likes of Bowser and Williams get their NFL feet wet. The presence of new strong safety Tony Jefferson could factor into the equation if Correa isn’t up to the challenge of being a three-down inside linebacker.

Prediction: The Ravens won’t have a single player with double-digit sacks for the third straight season, but four linebackers will record five or more in 2017.

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Injury picture relatively clear for Ravens going into training camp

Posted on 15 June 2017 by Luke Jones

OWINGS MILLS, Md. — It was a trying spring for the Ravens from a health standpoint with both cornerback Tavon Young and tight end Dennis Pitta sustaining season-ending injuries.

However, the overall status report has stabilized with most currently-injured players expected to be ready for the start of training camp next month. Linebacker C.J. Mosley (shoulder), wide receiver Michael Campanaro (toe), tight end Crockett Gillmore (hamstring), and defensive tackle Carl Davis (pectoral strain) all missed this week’s mandatory minicamp, but each is expected to be back on the field in late July, according to head coach John Harbaugh.

Six-time Pro Bowl guard Marshal Yanda has also been sidelined throughout the spring while recovering from offseason shoulder surgery. The 32-year-old is a candidate to begin camp on the active physically unable to perform list, but he made it clear Wednesday that he’ll be ready to go ahead of the season opener in Cincinnati on Sept. 10.

“We’ll see what happens. As you know with injuries and dates, you can talk to coach Harbaugh on that one,” Yanda said. “I’ll be working out hard every day, and I’ll be ready to go. I can just tell you [for] Week 1, I’m going to be out there. How about that?”

A bigger question mark than Yanda could be tight end Maxx Williams, who missed most of the 2016 season with a knee injury. The 2015 second-round pick was held out of spring workouts while continuing to work his way back to full strength from a mysterious knee surgery that had never been performed on an NFL player, according to the Baltimore coach.

With a deep inventory of tight ends that also includes Gillmore, Nick Boyle, Benjamin Watson, and Darren Waller, the Ravens could elect to slow-play Williams’ return to the field as they did with running back Lorenzo Taliaferro last summer. Watson (Achilles tendon) and Waller participated in minicamp after sitting out voluntary workouts earlier this spring.

“I think Maxx will be interesting, whether he will be there for the first day or not,” Harbaugh said. “He is going to push it. Knowing Maxx — I guarantee you one thing — if it is humanly possible, he will be ready. But he had that new surgery, so that is a little bit of a gray area for us knowing how he is going to respond.”

Veterans will now disperse for some time away from the training facility while rookies will remain in Owings Mills for two more weeks to continue workouts with director of performance Steve Saunders and strength and conditioning coach Juney Barnett.

The annual message to all players this time of year is to make good choices in preparing for the start of the 2017 season.

“Let’s keep an eye focused for what is ahead,” said Harbaugh, who will attempt to lead the Ravens back to the playoffs for the first time since 2014. “Let’s get ourselves ready emotionally, physically, and spiritually. Let’s take care of our families, and let’s not lose any ground to our conditioning and our training. All those things are talked about.

“Take care of yourself, be smart — all of those kind of things — and let’s get ready to roll.”

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Ravens tight end Watson practices for first time in nearly 10 months

Posted on 13 June 2017 by Luke Jones

OWINGS MILLS, Md. — Ravens tight end Benjamin Watson said it felt like Christmas morning when he woke up on Tuesday.

Having not practiced since tearing his right Achilles tendon on the first play from scrimmage in a preseason game in Baltimore last Aug. 27, the 36-year-old was itching to get back on the football field for the first time in nearly 10 months. Watson took part in some individual drills before working to the side during the full-team portions on the opening day of mandatory minicamp.

“I went to sleep last night, and my wife and I were talking and I told the kids,” said Watson, who is now entering his 14th NFL season. “They’ve been praying for me every day since I got injured, and they will continue to. I’m still not all the way there.

“It’s definitely exciting. It leaves you hungry for more, obviously, but the plan was to have a good day and not have any setbacks and just get my feet under me a little bit.”

Watson recently agreed to a pay cut to lower his scheduled $3 million salary to $1.25 million with incentives for the 2017 season, according to Pro Football Talk’s Mike Florio. The move increases his chances of making the 53-man roster as the Ravens would like to have his veteran presence to lead an otherwise-inexperienced group of tight ends. Of course, Watson will need to show he can return to playing at a level high enough to justify keeping him around.

The veteran wasn’t the only tight end to return to the practice field Tuesday as Darren Waller was taking extensive reps with the first-team offense, once beating safety Tony Jefferson in coverage on a deep crossing route. However, the 6-foot-6, 255-pound former wide receiver would later leave the field for heat-related reasons.

Two-time Pro Bowl inside linebacker C.J. Mosley remained sidelined as he continues to recover from offseason shoulder surgery, but head coach John Harbaugh said he’s expected to be ready for the start of training camp in late July. Tight end Crockett Gillmore was also absent after leaving the field gingerly during last Thursday’s voluntary workout.

“Crockett tweaked his hamstring,” Harbaugh said. “I think some of you guys speculated on that, and that was right. I do not think it is real serious as far as I know. He should be ready for training camp easily.”

Other players missing from Tuesday’s workout included guard Marshal Yanda (shoulder), wide receivers Michael Campanaro (toe) and Quincy Adeboyejo, linebacker Brennen Beyer, defensive tackle Carl Davis (pectoral), tight end Maxx Williams (knee), and cornerback Tavon Young (torn ACL).

Entering his 15th season, outside linebacker Terrell Suggs saw his first on-field action of the spring after being held out during voluntary organized team activities. Suggs took part in individual drills and saw some limited work during team drills.

Wide receiver Jeremy Maclin arrived in Owings Mills early Tuesday afternoon to officially sign his contract and will speak to the media after his first practice on Wednesday. To make room on the roster, the Ravens waived tight end Barrett Burns.

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Ravens linebacker Mosley working his way back from shoulder surgery

Posted on 25 May 2017 by Luke Jones

OWINGS MILLS, Md. — The Ravens concluded their first week of organized team activities with a workout in which 80 of the 89 players on their current offseason roster were participating.

One of the lone surprises among the absentees was two-time Pro Bowl inside linebacker C.J. Mosley, who underwent an offseason shoulder surgery that hadn’t previously been reported.

“C.J. is doing all the conditioning, and he has been at all the walk-throughs and all the meetings,” head coach John Harbaugh said. “He had the shoulder surgery, so he is out.”

The Ravens exercised their fifth-year option on the 2014 first-round pick last month, which keeps him under contract through the 2018 season. Despite dealing with hamstring and calf injuries in 2016, Mosley was named to his second Pro Bowl, collecting 92 tackles and four interceptions in 14 games.

Mosley isn’t the only veteran player recovering from offseason shoulder surgery as six-time Pro Bowl right guard Marshal Yanda isn’t expected to return to the practice field until training camp. He played with the injury most of last season and even switched to left guard as a result.

Harbaugh said 15th-year outside linebacker Terrell Suggs has been taking part in offseason workouts, but the Ravens have elected to keep him out of OTA workouts so far. The 34-year-old’s presence in the building this time of year is surprising considering he’s regularly skipped voluntary spring workouts ahead of the mid-June mandatory minicamp in recent years.

“I am holding him out,” Harbaugh said. “He is in here training every single day and killing himself and doing a great job on the conditioning part of it.”

Others not participating on Thursday included tight ends Benjamin Watson (Achilles tendon surgery), Maxx Williams (knee surgery), and Darren Waller (unspecified), cornerbacks Kyle Arrington (concussion) and Carlos Davis (lower leg), and guard Jarrell Broxton (unspecified). All three of the non-participating tight ends were watching practice on the sideline.

Williams underwent a season-ending procedure on his knee last fall that’s never been performed on an NFL player, according to Harbaugh. Specifics were vague, but the Ravens coach said it was related to the meniscus and cartilage in his knee and has been deemed successful. The 2015 second-round pick has been participating in offseason conditioning and workouts this spring.

“It is one of those deals that they have not done before, and so far, so good,” Harbaugh said. “It has really held up really well, and it looks like we are going to have him full speed in training camp. I am counting on that.”

With much concern being expressed about the state of the offensive line following the offseason departures of right tackle Rick Wagner and center Jeremy Zuttah, the first-team group on Thursday included Ronnie Stanley at left tackle, Alex Lewis at left guard, Ryan Jensen at center, John Urschel filling in for Yanda at right guard, and James Hurst at right tackle. Harbaugh left open the possibility of Lewis shifting to another spot, but the current plan is for him to remain at left guard where the organization feels he’s at his best.

Needing to replace two starters on their defensive line, the Ravens primarily lined up 2015 third-round pick Carl Davis at the 3-technique defensive tackle spot and 2014 fourth-round pick Brent Urban at the 5-technique defensive end position. Those jobs were previously held by Timmy Jernigan and Lawrence Guy.

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Harbaugh speaks on Jernigan, Boldin, Yanda, Mosley

Posted on 28 March 2017 by Luke Jones

Ravens head coach John Harbaugh discussed an array of topics at the league meetings in Phoenix on Tuesday morning, but one of the most interesting was the status of Timmy Jernigan.

Asked about former NFL executive Michael Lombardi’s recent revelation that Baltimore was considering trading the defensive tackle, Harbaugh didn’t dismiss the report, but he didn’t make it sound as though the organization was actively pursuing a deal, either.

“Everybody’s up for trade. I’m sure that if the Ravens got enough, they’d trade me in a second,” said Harbaugh as he laughed. “It might not take much right now if people are looking. That’s just part of the conversation in the NFL.”

With the Ravens re-signing nose tackle Brandon Williams to a five-year, $52.5 million contract earlier this month, the chances of Jernigan receiving a contract extension appear remote despite the 2014 second-round selection being the top interior pass rusher on the current roster. The Florida State product registered a career-high five sacks in 2016, but his production faded in the second half of the season as he managed just one sack over the final nine games and had only one tackle over the final four contests combined.

A player of Jernigan’s caliber signing elsewhere as an unrestricted free agent would likely fetch the Ravens a solid compensatory pick, so the argument could be made that general manager Ozzie Newsome could pull the trigger on a deal to receive a draft choice sooner. However, Baltimore is already trying to improve its pass rush this offseason and would be losing a valuable year of production from a player its already developed over the last three seasons, meaning the asking price wouldn’t exactly be cheap.

“Timmy’s going to have the best year of his career without question,” Harbaugh said. “I’m sure he’s training hard. I know how passionate is. He wants to be a great player. Trade talks always go on. People are interested in Timmy because I’m sure they feel like with our defensive line situation that we have a lot of good players and he might be available. People are going to ask about him.”

Boldin reunion

The Ravens are still trying to fill a significant hole at wide receiver, which has led many outsiders to ask about the possibility of bringing back veteran Anquan Boldin, who is an unrestricted free agent.

Of course, Newsome traded Boldin to San Francisco in exchange for a seventh-round pick just weeks after Super Bowl XLVII, a move for which the Ravens have been criticized ever since. Harbaugh said he would be interested in the 36-year-old’s return to Baltimore, but he didn’t make it sound as though it was something the organization has explored in depth.

“That’s up to Ozzie. That’s up to all of us,” Harbaugh said. “But, in the final accounting, I think we have to see what all the options are. And I don’t even know if Anquan wants to come back. That would be another thing we’d have to look into.”

Boldin spent the 2016 season with the Detroit Lions, playing in all 16 games and catching 67 passes for 584 yards. His eight touchdown receptions were the most he’s collected since 2008, but he averaged a career-worst 8.7 yards per reception. That’s a concerning statistic when you remember how badly the Ravens’ passing game struggled to push the ball down the field last season.

His yards per reception average has declined every year since 2011.

“I do believe he can still play at the highest level,” Harbaugh said. “I think his ability and skills are such that he’s not going to drop off the edge just because of how he plays. I know he loved it in Baltimore, and I loved him in Baltimore. I didn’t want him to have to leave when it happened. That’s just the way things worked out, but I’d be for [a reunion].”

Shoulder surgery for Yanda

Harbaugh confirmed that six-time Pro Bowl guard Marshal Yanda did undergo left shoulder surgery this offseason, but it is not expected to affect his status for the start of the 2017 regular season.

The injury forced Yanda to switch from right guard to the left side to be able to play through the pain. His ability to continue performing at a high level despite the in-season switch was a testament to a man who has quietly become one of the best players in franchise history.

“He’ll be ready for training camp 100 percent,” Harbaugh said. “I saw him. He’s lifting. He looks good. We’ll keep him out of [organized team activities] and minicamp.”

Yanda’s absence means the Ravens will be working with three new players on the first-team offensive line during spring workouts with left tackle Ronnie Stanley and left guard Alex Lewis being the only holdovers from 2016. Baltimore is currently looking for replacements for Rick Wagner at right tackle and Jeremy Zuttah at center.

Mosley option for 2018

Harbaugh confirmed that the Ravens’ decision whether to exercise their 2018 contract option on two-time Pro Bowl inside linebacker C.J. Mosley is merely a “formality” this spring.

“I’m sure that we’ll pick up his option,” Harbaugh said. “I expect C.J. Mosley to be a Raven for many, many, many years.”

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Zuttah in, Mosley out as Pro Bowl shuffling continues for Ravens

Posted on 24 January 2017 by Luke Jones

A seventh Ravens player was named to the Pro Bowl while another officially backed out due to injury on Monday.

After safety Eric Weddle was added to the AFC roster earlier in the day, center Jeremy Zuttah received the invitation to play in the game as a replacement for Pittsburgh’s Maurkice Pouncey. It is Zuttah’s first Pro Bowl invitation after he was the only Baltimore offensive lineman to start all 16 games in 2016.

Another Baltimore-for-Pittsburgh Pro Bowl swap was made at the linebacker position where C.J. Mosley officially pulled out of the game with the calf injury he sustained in the season finale at Cincinnati. The third-year Ravens linebacker is being replaced by Ryan Shazier of the Steelers.

A two-time Pro Bowl selection, Mosley is the second Raven to decline participating in the game after six-time Pro Bowl guard Marshal Yanda withdrew earlier this month with a shoulder injury. Zuttah will join Weddle, kicker Justin Tucker, long snapper Morgan Cox, and fullback Kyle Juszczyk for Sunday night’s game in Orlando.

Zuttah’s inclusion came as a surprise to some after he was criticized for uneven play throughout the season. Pro Football Focus graded the 30-year-old as the 13th-best center in the NFL while Bleacher Report’s NFL1000 ranked Zuttah 26th among the league’s centers.

The Ravens are still expected to seek an upgrade at the position this offseason as Zuttah is set to carry a $4.607 million salary cap number for the 2017 season.

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