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Ravens defense aiming to reverse trend of late-game struggles

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Ravens defense aiming to reverse trend of late-game struggles

Posted on 07 November 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. — Ravens defensive coordinator Dean Pees recollected Thursday that his defense came under fire a year ago for being lousy statistically despite the Ravens’ 6-2 record midway through the 2012 season.

Of course, a 3-5 record this season doesn’t sit well with Pees despite his unit’s overall improvement, but problems still exist on his side of the ball. Ranked 10th overall in total yards and points per game allowed, the Ravens have forced only 10 turnovers — ranked 11th in the AFC — and have struggled to get defensive stops late in games when they’ve been trailing. And with an offense that’s struggled immensely, those defensive shortcomings have contributed to three straight losses.

“More games are lost than won in the National Football League,” defensive end Chris Canty said. “We’ve got to stop shooting ourselves in the foot, stop doing the things that cause you to lose games, and just play solid ball.”

According to Football Outsiders, the Baltimore defense ranks fifth in the NFL in average defensive drive time (2:21), making their late-game struggles even more puzzling. In losses to Green Bay, Pittsburgh, and Cleveland, the Ravens have surrendered a drive of six minutes or longer that’s been pivotal in either allowing the opposition to build on a second-half lead or to prevent the Baltimore offense from having a final opportunity to tie the game or take the lead.

Many have pondered how much the offense’s first-half struggles have tired out the defense, but the final time of possession wasn’t lopsided in any of the three losses with the Ravens having the ball for at least 28:38 in each game. In Week 9, the Browns took possession of the ball with a 21-18 lead and 6:44 remaining in the fourth quarter and remained on the field until kicking a field goal with 14 seconds remaining. On that drive in which the Browns converted a third-and-3 from their own 36 and a fourth-and-1 from the Baltimore 43 with 3:12 remaining, Pees opined that his defense played tentatively instead of aggressively in trying to make a play.

“You’ve got to feel good enough about yourself that you don’t worry about making a mistake,” Pees said. “You guys have heard me tell you the analogy before – and that’s what I told them this week – you practice that way out here and you go 100 miles an hour, because there’s really not a lot on the line. Somehow, mentally, you’ve got to make yourself play it the same way in a game. I know it’s on the line, we all know it’s on the line, but you’ve got to go. And you’ve just got to make a play.”

Regardless of the exact reasons why, the Ravens are frustrated with their growing reputation of being unable to finish defensively after generally playing well over the first three quarters of the game.

And that recent trend, coupled with the offense’s extremely slow starts all season, has led to the Ravens being as close to must-win mode as they can be against the division-leading Cincinnati Bengals on Sunday.

“It’s always frustrating. You’ve got to win games,” linebacker Terrell Suggs said. “They’re on scholarship, too, so to say – the opposing team – and they’re making plays. It’s just one of those things. You’ve just got to get after it and do it.”

Punting problems

Sam Koch is just one of several established veterans experiencing rough seasons as the longtime punter struggled again last Sunday in Cleveland, three times failing to pin the Browns inside the 20 when kicking near midfield.

The worst of the three offenses came on his final opportunity of the day from his own 46 when he produced a 25-yarder that went out of bounds at the Cleveland 29. The shank gave the Browns solid field position that preceded their game-clinching drive that erased all but the final 14 seconds of the game.

“It’s very frustrating,” Koch said of his season. “I put all the time and work and effort into to trying to make that perfect game.”

Koch’s 37.6 yard net punting average ranks 28th in the league and would be his lowest since 2007 (36.0).

“Sam would be the first one to tell you that he’s been inconsistent,” special teams coordinator Jerry Rosburg said. “There have been situations in games where we need a better ball; [the final punt against the Browns] was an example of it. You’ve also seen him in games where he can hit exactly what we want. We put a lot on Sam. We ask him to do things that other punters in this league aren’t asked to do in terms of direction and so forth. He has demonstrated in practice,time and time and time again that he can do all of that. We just need to do that same kind of performance in the game.”

“Ngata”-nough

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Assessing the Ravens’ offseason veteran additions

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Assessing the Ravens’ offseason veteran additions

Posted on 24 October 2013 by Luke Jones

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

At 3-4 and below the .500 mark this late in a season for the first time in the John Harbaugh era, the Ravens face an uphill battle in advancing to the postseason for the sixth straight season.

Clearly at a crossroads as the first defending Super Bowl champion since the 2006 Pittsburgh Steelers to hold a losing record after seven games, the Ravens made a number of offseason additions to reload a roster that dealt with free-agent departures, salary-cap casualties, and retirees. It’s time to revisit those moves to see how they’ve worked — or haven’t worked — as the Ravens try to regroup during their bye week.

Grades are included for free-agent signings and trade additions made prior to the start of training camp with the players listed in the order in which they were acquired. Contract terms are listed in parentheses for free-agent additions.

DE Chris Canty (three years, $8 million)
Grade: C+
Skinny: The Ravens needed a 5-technique defensive end and Canty has been solid, but he hasn’t offered as much as a pass rusher as the team would have hoped. Canty is fourth on the team with two sacks, but defensive coordinator Dean Pees has often replaced him with Arthur Jones in the nickel package for improved run support. 

DT Marcus Spears (two years, $2.75 million)
Grade: C-
Skinny: Hamstring and knee injuries have hampered the veteran defensive lineman, but Spears has offered very little when he’s been part of the defensive line rotation and has little pass-rush ability. It would be easy to envision rookie Brandon Williams wrestling away some of Spears’ snaps  in the second half of the season. 

LB Elvis Dumervil (five years, $26 million)
Grade: B+
Skinny: The three-time Pro Bowl selection has been more of a situational player with the run-stopping presence of Courtney Upshaw, but Dumervil has 27 quarterback pressures and is the league’s sixth-most efficient pass rusher, according to Pro Football Focus. He had a miserable day in Pittsburgh, but Dumervil has been the bookend pass rusher Terrell Suggs needed and an upgrade over former Raven Paul Kruger for a cheaper price.

S Michael Huff (three years, $6 million)
Grade: F
Skinny: Huff was benched after a disastrous performance in the season opener against Denver, forcing the Ravens to essentially go with two strong safeties in the secondary with James Ihedigbo and Matt Elam. The former Raider hasn’t taken a defensive snap since Week 4 and has brought very little to special teams, making it possible that he doesn’t even make it through the rest of the season before being cut. 

OT Bryant McKinnie (two years, $6.3 million)
Grade: D
Skinny: Though McKinnie was technically re-signed, he spent almost two months on the open market as general manager Ozzie Newsome explored other options at left tackle before inking him in early May. McKinnie wasn’t the biggest problem along the offensive line before the Ravens acquired Eugene Monroe, but the 34-year-old wasn’t motivated to play at a high level after winning a Super Bowl and receiving a $2 million signing bonus, making his signing a clear mistake as he was dealt to Miami for a conditional late-round pick earlier this week.

C A.Q. Shipley (acquired for 2014 conditional draft pick)
Grade: D+
Skinny: Expectations weren’t very high for the former Indianapolis Colt, but it’s telling that Shipley hasn’t been able to unseat the struggling Gino Gradkowski at the center position. Shipley is undersized and is not a great option as a backup interior lineman, so it will be interesting to see if rookie Ryan Jensen leapfrogs him on the depth chart in the second half since he’s recovered from a broken foot suffered in the first week of training camp.

LB Daryl Smith (one year, $1.125 million)
Grade: A
Skinny: Not only did Smith make most people forget the embarrassing decision to sign troubled linebacker Rolando McClain, but he’s easily been the best bargain of the offseason as his signing was an afterthought that came on the same day the Super Bowl champions visited the White House. His two interceptions lead the team and he’s made everyone forget about the serious concerns that existed at inside linebacker during the offseason. Smith isn’t Ray Lewis, but he’s been as solid as a rock in the middle of the defense.

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Ravens-Bills: Inactives and pre-game notes

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Ravens-Bills: Inactives and pre-game notes

Posted on 29 September 2013 by Luke Jones

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

ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. — Looking for their first win in Buffalo in the 18-year history of the franchise, the Ravens are looking for their fifth consecutive 3-1 start under head coach John Harbaugh on Sunday afternoon.

The Ravens will have the services of Pro Bowl running back Ray Rice, who is active and will return to game action after missing the Week 3 win over Houston while recovering from a left hip flexor strain. Rice practiced all week on a limited basis and was considered a game-time decision, and it remains to be seen how much of the workload he’ll handle as backup Bernard Pierce is expected to receive plenty of carries against Buffalo.

Defensive end Chris Canty is active and will play after missing the Houston game with a groin injury, but veteran wide receiver Brandon Stokley is inactive after he suffered a groin injury in the final practice of the week. The 37-year-old wideout had been listed as questionable.

Wide receiver Deonte Thompson and defensive tackle Brandon Williams are both active and will make their 2013 season debuts after both suffered injuries in the preseason. With Stokley out for Sunday’s game, Thompson and Tandon Doss could factor into the game plan at the wide receiver position more than you would have expected.

Third-string running back Shaun Draughn is active despite being severely limited with a high ankle sprain over the course of the week.

Meanwhile, the Bills secondary has been gutted by injuries as starting cornerbacks Leodis McKelvin and Stephon Gilmore and free safety Jairus Byrd are all inactive for the 19th-ranked pass defense in the league. Starting strong safety Aaron Williams will move to a cornerback spot and former Ravens safety Jim Leonhard will start at strong safety on Sunday afternoon.

Buffalo and Baltimore are meeting for the sixth time in regular-season history with the Ravens enjoying the 4-1 edge over the Bills. This is the second times these teams have met in western New York.

The Ravens will be wearing white jerseys and white pants while the Bills are sporting blue jerseys with white pants in their home stadium.

Sunday’s referee is Jerome Boger, who officiated Super Bowl XLVII in New Orleans.

The forecast calls for temperatures to reach the low 70s, but winds of up to 15 to 25 miles per hour could be a factor Sunday afternoon.

Here are Sunday’s inactives:

BALTIMORE
WR Brandon Stokley
WR Jacoby Jones
S Jeromy Miles
LB Arthur Brown
DT Terrence Cody
OL Jah Reid
OL Ryan Jensen

BUFFALO
K Dustin Hopkins
CB Leodis McKelvin
CB Stephon Gilmore
S Jairus Byrd
CB Ron Brooks
OL Doug Legursky
WR Marquise Goodwin

Follow WNST on Twitter throughout the afternoon for updates and analysis as Nestor Aparicio and I bring live coverage from Ralph Wilson Stadium in Orchard Park.

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Rice, Canty, six others listed as questionable for Sunday’s game

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Rice, Canty, six others listed as questionable for Sunday’s game

Posted on 27 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 appear to feel good about their chances of getting Pro Bowl running back back for Sunday’s game against the Buffalo Bills as Ray Rice practiced for the third straight day on Friday.

Rice is listed as questionable — along with seven other teammates — for Sunday’s game after practicing on a limited basis all week. He was moving around effectively during the portion of practice open to the media on Friday morning. Should he return, the sixth-year back will be facing a run defense tied for 30th in the NFL and giving up 155 yards per game on the ground.

“We stand by the fact that we’re hoping [Rice will] get there,” coach John Harbaugh said. “He’s got a better chance than he had last week. He has practiced, to an extent, throughout the course of the week, and we’ll know Sunday.”

Rice took his inability to play last week in stride, especially after he knew his hip flexor strain would not be the type of injury to keep him out for any extended period of time.

In the first two games of the season, Rice carried 25 times for 72 yards and a touchdown. He credited his teammates for the way they played in his absence in the 30-9 win over Houston. He told reporters on Friday that he tried as much as he could to push his hip to the limit to test how it could hold up against the Bills on Sunday.

“The week went as expected. I was very smart out there,” Rice said. “It did feel good to get three days worth of work in. Barring [any] setbacks, there’s a chance I could be out there on Sunday. Obviously, I have to go out there and warm up and see how it feels and let coaches make the decision for me.”

Defensive end Chris Canty (groin), linebacker Arthur Brown (pectoral), wide receiver Deonte Thompson (foot), defensive tackle Brandon Williams (toe), and running back Shaun Draughn (ankle) were also listed as questionable for Sunday’s game after taking part in Friday’s practice. Rush specialist Pernell McPhee is questionable after he missed practices on Wednesday and Thursday while recovering from a sore knee.

Veteran wide receiver Brandon Stokley was a new addition to Friday’s injury report and was listed as questionable against the Bills after being limited with a groin injury in the final practice of the week. Rookie receiver Marlon Brown (neck) was a full participant on Thursday and Friday and is probable to play on Sunday.

“You’ve got all the guys who have been injured — some just last week and some before — and practiced will be game-time decisions,” Harbaugh said. “They all have a chance to get there, and we’re really hopeful in each one of their cases that they can play, but something could come up. It could not feel right on Sunday. I doubt it will be 100 percent [of them playing], but we’d love for it to be 100 percent.”

The only players not taking part in Friday’s workout were wide receiver Jacoby Jones (knee), defensive tackle Terrence Cody (knee), and offensive lineman Ryan Jensen (foot). Jones was ruled out for Sunday’s game earlier in the week while the latter two were designated as doubtful and are not expected to play in Week 4.

Meanwhile, the Bills ruled out five players and listed two key members of their secondary as questionable for Sunday’s game. Cornerback Leodis McKelvin (hamstring) and free safety Jairus Byrd (foot) were limited in practices all week.

Defensive end Mario Williams, defensive tackle Kyle Williams, running back C.J. Spiller, and wide receiver Stevie Johnson were all designated as probable.

Referee Jerome Boger and his crew will officiate Sunday’s game in Orchard Park, N.Y. between the Ravens and Bills. He was the referee for Super Bowl XLVII.

Sunday’s forecast calls for a high of 71 degrees and mostly cloudy skies.

Here is the final injury report of the week:

BALTIMORE
OUT: WR Jacoby Jones (knee)
DOUBTFUL: DT Terrence Cody (knee), C Ryan Jensen (foot)
QUESTIONABLE: LB Arthur Brown (chest), DE Chris Canty (thigh), RB Shaun Draughn (ankle), LB/DE Pernell McPhee (knee), RB Ray Rice (hip), WR Brandon Stokley (groin), WR Deonte Thompson (foot), DT Brandon Williams (toe)
PROBABLE: WR Marlon Brown (neck)

BUFFALO
OUT: K Dustin Hopkins (r. groin), CB Stephon Gilmore (wrist), CB Ron Brooks (foot), WR Marquise Goodwin (hand), DT Alex Carrington (quad)
QUESTIONABLE: CB Leodis McKelvin (hamstring), FS Jarius Byrd (foot)
PROBABLE: WR Stevie Johnson (hamstring), RB C.J. Spiller (quad), G Doug Legursky (knee), G Kraig Urbik (knee), DE Mario Williams (ankle), DT Kyle Williams (Achilles), DT Marcell Dareus (ankle)

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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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Rice, Canty return to practice; rookie M. Brown sits out

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Rice, Canty return to practice; rookie M. Brown sits out

Posted on 25 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. — Ravens coach John Harbaugh expressed optimism Wednesday that Ray Rice would be able to play against the Buffalo Bills and the Pro Bowl running back’s return to practice so early in the week is a strong predictor of that happening.

The sixth-year practiced on a limited basis on Wednesday after missing his first game since the 2008 season in the win over the Houston Texans. Harbaugh’s willingness to talk about Rice’s return to practice supports the notion that the running back was close to being able to play on Sunday despite being listed as doubtful on last week’s injury report.

“Very hopeful. I would expect that,” said Harbaugh when asked whether he thought Rice would practice this week. “That’s the plan right now. We’re going to try to get him out there [Wednesday] and see what he can do, and we’ll have our fingers crossed.”

Defensive end Chris Canty (groin), linebacker Arthur Brown (pectoral), and wide receiver Deonte Thompson (foot) were also limited in their return to the practice field as it appears the Ravens are slowly but surely getting healthier. Of those three, Brown appeared to be very limited as he wore a yellow cap on his helmet.

Thompson practiced on a limited basis last Wednesday before sitting out the final two workouts of the week and told reporters that he would really test out his foot to see how close he is to returning to the field. The second-year wide receiver hasn’t practiced since injuring his foot in the preseason opener on Aug. 8.

If he’s able to play against Buffalo, Thompson would provide the Ravens another option in the kickoff return game as Tandon Doss and Shaun Draughn have handled those duties over the last two weeks. Draughn suffered a high ankle sprain in Week 3, which could leave the Ravens thin in the return game.

“I’m coming along great,” Thompson said. “We’re going to go out today and see how I feel and try to do a lot on it and see how it holds up. There’s still some soreness in [the foot]. We’ll definitely know after this week.”

Wide receivers Jacoby Jones (knee) and Marlon Brown (neck), outside linebacker Pernell McPhee (knee), nose tackle Terrence Cody (knee), Draughn (ankle), and offensive lineman Ryan Jensen (foot) did not participate in Monday’s workout. Harbaugh expressed significant doubt that Cody would be able to play in Week 4 after he injured his knee in the first quarter of the win over the Houston Texans.

Jones has already been ruled out for Sunday’s game as he continues to rehab the MCL injury he suffered in the season opener on Sept. 5.

Listed as a limited particdipant, defensive tackle Brandon Williams (toe) was practicing once again after he was a limited participant in practices last week. He did not play against the Texans, but he appears to have a chance to make his return to action for the first time since injuring his toe in the preseason finale on Aug. 29.

During the viewing portion of practice, left tackle Bryant McKinnie appeared to be limited and was not taking his normal number of practice reps. Both of his ankles were taped, but it was unclear whether he suffered an injury in Sunday’s game and wasn’t listed on the injury report.

Newly-claimed safety Jeromy Miles was taking part in practice and wearing No. 36 while rookie safety Brynden Trawick officially became part of the Ravens’ practice squad.

Linebacker Brandon Copeland was waived to make room for Trawick on the developmental squad.

For Buffalo, 10 players sat out Wednesday’s practice including defensive end Mario Williams (ankle), defensive tackle Kyle Williams, wide receiver Stevie Johnson (hamstring), and cornerback Leodis McKelvin (hamstring).

However, starting running back C.J. Spiller (quadriceps) was a full participant for the Bills.

Here is the official injury report for Wednesday:

BALTIMORE
OUT: WR Jacoby Jones (knee)
DID NOT PARTICIPATE: WR Marlon Brown (neck), DT Terrence Cody (knee), RB Shaun Draughn (ankle), 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)

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), WR Stevie Johnson (hamstring), CB Leodis McKelvin (hamstring), G Kraig Urbik (knee), DT Kyle Williams (achilles), DE Mario Williams (ankle)
LIMITED PARTICIPATION: FS Jarius Byrd (foot), DT Marcell Dareus (ankle)
FULL PARTICIPATION: G Doug Legursky (knee), RB C.J. Spiller (quad)

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Harbaugh disappointed with Ravens’ involvement in party bus incident

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Harbaugh disappointed with Ravens’ involvement in party bus incident

Posted on 23 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. — Ravens coach John Harbaugh confirmed that wide receiver Jacoby Jones did not sustain any serious injury in an altercation involving a party bus early Monday morning, but that doesn’t mean the coach was happy either.

After reportedly being struck in the head with a bottle when a fight broke out during left tackle Bryant McKinnie’s birthday celebration in Washington, D.C., Jones was back at the team’s Owings Mills facility as he continues to rehab the MCL sprain he suffered in the season opener on Sept. 5.

“As far as him, he’s fine,” Harbaugh said. “He went through everything today that he was supposed to go through. He didn’t miss anything.”

The Ravens coach, however, expressed disappointment over the incident as several other players are believed to have attended the birthday celebration. Harbaugh was unaware of any further investigation being done on the incident after no arrests were made early Monday morning, but he wasn’t pleased to see the organization painted in a negative light upon learning of the incident that morning.

Harbaugh said he spoke to the individual players involved as well as the entire team about the altercation.

“I’m not very impressed, personally, with the report,” Harbaugh said. “It’s not something we want to be known for. I’d like to think it’s not something those guys would want to be known for. It’s nothing to be proud of, so it’s kind of disappointing in that sense.”

For the time being, it appears that no disciplinary action will be taken against Jones, McKinnie, or any other players involved in the incident, but Harbaugh used the altercation as a teachable moment in reminding players about the potential dangers of being in a public setting late at night.

Harbaugh mentioned the familiar advice given to many young people by their parents.

“Of course we’re going to have conversations and we’ve had conversations about that and other things,” said Harbaugh, referencing the motto of nothing good ever happening after midnight. “We’ll probably keep that between us and address that with the team. What do you want to be known for? Do you want to be known as a football player or do you want to be known for that? I don’t think that’s anything to be proud of.”

 Rice, Canty “in the ballpark” to return this week

Harbaugh expressed optimism that running back Ray Rice and defensive end Chris Canty could return for Sunday’s game in Buffalo after both were sidelined for Week 3.

Rice continues to work his way back to full strength after suffering a left hip flexor strain while Canty is dealing with a groin injury. The Ravens will see how each progresses over the course of the week, but Harbaugh wouldn’t describe how much of a chance each would have to play against the Bills.

“I don’t know about the ‘good’ or ‘great’ or whatever, but [Rice] was close this week to a degree,” Harbaugh said. “So was Chris. With those muscle [strains], you never know for sure, but they were in the ballpark this week and we think that will really put them in the ballpark coming up.”

Meanwhile, reserve nose tackle Terrence Cody is likely out for Week 4 after suffering a left knee sprain in the first quarter of Sunday’s win over the Houston Texans.

The good news is the Ravens could get rookie defensive tackle Brandon Williams back this week after he practiced on a limited basis for the first time since suffering a toe injury in the preseason finale on Aug. 29.

“I think it’d be a stretch to expect [Cody] back this week,” Harbaugh said. “We’re going to try, but more likely it will be after this week coming up.”

Standing pat at running back for now

With Rice sidelined and third-string running back Shaun Draughn suffering a high ankle sprain in Sunday’s win, the Ravens could be in the market for another running back depending on how the week goes.

Rookie Jonas Gray is currently on the practice squad and the Ravens could always bring back third-year veteran Anthony Allen, who was with the team this preseason and is very familiar with the offensive system after two seasons with the organization.

“I think right now we’re in a wait-and-see mode,” Harbaugh said. “There’s no imminent move as far as a running back goes because we feel those guys’ injuries are something we can deal with. We’re always looking for a good player, too.”

 

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Ravens take another injury hit to defensive line

Posted on 22 September 2013 by Luke Jones

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

BALTIMORE — The Ravens sustained another blow to their defensive line in Sunday’s win over Houston as backup nose tackle Terrence Cody left the game with a knee injury in the first half and didn’t return.

The fourth-year defensive lineman injured his left knee in the first quarter before being taken to the locker room. His absence left the Ravens with only one healthy reserve defensive lineman — second-year end DeAngelo Tyson — since veteran Marcus Spears was already filling in for the injured Chris Canty and rookie Brandon Williams was also inactive.

Coach John Harbaugh acknowledged that Cody could be sidelined for a while, but he appeared to avoid a long-term injury. Outside linebackers Pernell McPhee and Courtney Upshaw saw time along the defensive line with the Ravens shorthanded for much of the game.

“It does not look to be a long-term sprain,” Harbaugh said. “We’ll know more [Monday]. It could be a week, but more likely, it will be a couple weeks. We’ll see.”

Backup running back Shaun Draughn suffered a high ankle sprain and reserve linebacker and special-teams contributor Albert McClellan sustained a minor hip injury, according to Harbaugh.

The Ravens are already dealing with a plethora of injuries as all seven players — including Pro Bowl running back Ray Rice — were deactivated for Sunday’s game due to health reasons.

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Ravens-Texans: Inactives and pre-game notes

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Ravens-Texans: Inactives and pre-game notes

Posted on 22 September 2013 by Luke Jones

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

BALTIMORE — It won’t be easy for the banged-up Ravens as they welcome the Houston Texans to Baltimore for an early-season AFC showdown.

Seven Ravens players were listed as doubtful or out on the final injury report of the week, with Pro Bowl running back Ray Rice headlining the list. Rice missed practice all week after suffering a left hip flexor strain in the Week 2 win over Cleveland and will miss his first game since his rookie season in 2008 when he was sidelined for the final three games of the regular season before returning for the playoffs.

Also out for Sunday’s game is defensive end Chris Canty (groin), which will force a shuffle along the Ravens defensive line with Arthur Jones expected to slide to the 5-technique defensive end spot normally occupied by Canty and veteran Marcus Spears moving into Jones’ normal 3-technique defensive tackle position in the base 3-4 defense. The Ravens will also be without rookie linebacker Arthur Brown (pectoral strain), which will impact their nickel defense against the Texans.

Second-year running back Bernard Pierce will start in Rice’s place and figures to be a decent matchup due to his physical running style, but Rice’s ability as a receiver out of the backfield will be missed in the Baltimore passing game. Rice had played in 66 consecutive regular-season games prior to Sunday.

Former Ravens safety Ed Reed will make his debut with the Texans in his return to Baltimore after departing via free agency in the offseason. The 35-year-old missed the first two games of the season while still recovering from offseason hip surgery.

Texans left tackle Duane Brown was downgraded to out on Saturday, which is good news for the Baltimore pass rush as linebacker Terrell Suggs will match up with backup Ryan Harris for much of the afternoon. Houston wide receiver Andre Johnson is active and will play despite sustaining a concussion in the Texans’ Week 2 overtime win over Tennessee.

It will be an emotional day in Baltimore as future Hall of Fame linebacker Ray Lewis joins the team’s Ring of Honor. The two-time Defensive Player of the Year and 13-time Pro Bowl selection will be introduced before the game, and the induction ceremony will take place at halftime.

The Ravens are meeting the Texans for the seventh time in the regular season with Baltimore owning a 5-1 edge, and the teams met in the postseason once, a 20-13 victory for Baltimore on Jan. 15, 2012.

Sunday’s referee will be John Parry as the forecast calls for clear skies and temperatures in the 70s Sunday afternoon.

The Ravens are wearing purple jerseys and white pants while Houston is donning white jerseys with blue pants.

Here are Sunday’s inactives:

BALTIMORE
RB Ray Rice
DE Chris Canty
LB Arthur Brown
DT Brandon Williams
WR Deonte Thompson
WR Jacoby Jones
OL Ryan Jensen

HOUSTON
OT Duane Brown
QB Case Keenum
WR Lestar Jean
OLB Sam Montgomery
G Cody White
ILB Justin Tuggle
DE Tim Jamison

Follow WNST on Twitter throughout the afternoon for updates and analysis as Drew Forrester, Nestor Aparicio, and I bring live coverage from M&T Bank Stadium.

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Rice, Canty, three others listed as doubtful against Texans on Sunday

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Rice, Canty, three others listed as doubtful against Texans on Sunday

Posted on 20 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. — It’s appearing very likely that the Ravens will be without their Pro Bowl running back against the Houston Texans as Ray Rice was listed as doubtful on the final injury report of the week on Friday.

Recovering from a left hip flexor strain sustained in the Ravens’ 14-6 win over Cleveland in Week 2, Rice missed three straight days of practice and is in danger of missing his first game since his 2008 rookie season when he was sidelined for three contests. Coach John Harbaugh typically likes to see players practice — at least on a limited basis — on Friday to prove they are ready to play in the game but had stated on Monday that Rice wouldn’t need to practice this week in order to play against the Texans.

Defensive end Chris Canty (groin) and rookie linebacker Arthur Brown (pectoral strain) were also listed as doubtful after missing practice for the third straight day of practice. Canty suggested on Thursday that he was optimistic and could still potentially play in the game without practicing all week after suffering a groin injury late in the first half of the Browns game.

“There’s really nothing new to report,” Harbaugh said prior to the release of Friday’s report. “If I had something different with a guy, I’d share it with you, but they are all working hard to get back. They’re all kind of in the same neighborhood as far as getting back, particularly [Canty] and Ray Rice and those guys who were injured last week. It will be a game-time decision for those guys, and we’ll keep our fingers crossed although we’re prepared for it to go either way.”

With Rice likely to miss Sunday’s game, backup running back Bernard Pierce would be making his first career start. When Rice exited last Sunday’s game in the fourth quarter, Pierce picked up a bigger portion of the workload, gaining 57 yards and a touchdown on 19 carries for the afternoon.

The second-year back said the key to being ready to start is preparing mentally in the same way he normally does and treating it like any other game in which he’s played at the NFL level. Signed just last week, former Chiefs running back Shaun Draughn would serve as Pierce’s backup if Rice is sidelined.

“In my mind, I was never a No. 2 back,” Pierce said. “It was just me and Ray rotating all through the game. I’ll have the same mentality. I’m just out here trying to win.”

Canty will likely be replaced in the starting lineup by veteran Marcus Spears, with Arthur Jones sliding to Canty’s 5-technique defensive end spot and Spears occupying the 3-technique defensive tackle position in the Ravens’ 3-4 base defense.

Wide receiver Deonte Thompson (foot) was also listed as doubtful after missing the final two days of practice this week after initially returning to the field on Wednesday. He hasn’t played since the Ravens’ preseason opener on Aug. 8.

Cornerback Chykie Brown (knee) and defensive tackle Brandon Williams (toe) were both present and working during Friday’s practice. They worked as limited participants this week, but Brown is listed as questionable while Williams is doubtful since he hasn’t played since the preseason finale on Aug. 29.

Wide receiver Jacoby Jones (knee) and offensive lineman Ryan Jensen (foot) will not play against the Texans after missing practice all week. Jones was officially ruled out on Wednesday while Jensen was ruled out Friday and still hasn’t practiced since breaking his foot in the first week of training camp.

For Houston, safety Ed Reed (hip) and starting left tackle Duane Brown (toe) are both listed as questionable while wide receiver Andre Johnson is probable after sustaining a concussion last Sunday.

Here is the final injury report of the week:

BALTIMORE
OUT: WR Jacoby Jones (knee), WR Ryan Jensen (foot)
DOUBTFUL: LB Arthur Brown (chest), DE Chris Canty (thigh), RB Ray Rice (hip), DT Brandon Williams (toe), WR Deonte Thompson (foot)
QUESTIONABLE: CB Chykie Brown (knee)

HOUSTON
QUESTIONABLE: LT Duane Brown (toe), TE Garrett Graham (hip/groin), FS Ed Reed (hip)
PROBABLE: LB Brian Cushing (knee), TE Owen Daniels (rest – NIR), RB Arian Foster (calf/chest/thumb), WR Andre Johnson (concussion/back), CB Jonathan Joseph (rest – NIR), LB Joe Mays (quad), CB Brice McCain (knee), C Chris Meyers (back), RT Derek Newton (knee/calf/elbow), WR DeVier Posey (achilles/foot), LB Darryl Sharpton (hip), LG Wade Smith (knee), RB Ben Tate (shoulder)

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