Tag Archive | "cincinnati"

Osemele, Monroe practice fully for second straight day

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Osemele, Monroe practice fully for second straight day

Posted on 23 October 2014 by Luke Jones

OWINGS MILLS, Md. — The Ravens appear primed to get the starting left side of their offensive line back in time for Sunday’s game against the Cincinnati Bengals as tackle Eugene Monroe and guard Kelechi Osemele both practiced fully for the second straight day.

Monroe has missed the last four games since undergoing arthroscopic knee surgery last month and Osemele has been sidelined for the last two games, but both have practiced without incident this week and are on track to play against the Bengals barring a setback. Baltimore has used rookies James Hurst and John Urschel in their place but has managed to go 3-1 without Monroe and 2-0 without Osemele.

“It’s very important to get them back,” offensive coordinator Gary Kubiak said. “I think we still work through [Friday]. They’ve had a good week. They took a full practice today, but we’ll continue to get James and John ready to play.”

Tight end Owen Daniels was absent for the second straight day as he continues to nurse a sore knee, but Kubiak downplayed any concern about the veteran’s availability for the key AFC North meeting with Cincinnati. Head coach John Harbaugh managed Daniels’ reps during training camp as he rested a hamstring issue for more than two weeks in August.

Rookie Crockett Gillmore is the primary backup behind Daniels.

“Owen is fine. John has a plan for these veteran guys,” Kubiak said. “I know he has had a plan for [Daniels] and how he keeps him fresh and keeps him ready to go. But as far as what we’re doing [with the] game plan, those types of things, O.D. will be fine.”

Wide receiver Steve Smith and linebacker Daryl Smith did not practice on Thursday after receiving the day off to rest.

The Bengals continued to be without Pro Bowl wide receiver A.J. Green, who hasn’t played since Week 5 and has yet to practice this week. Green had expressed optimism a few days ago that he might be able to return to play against the Ravens, but progress with his injured toe has been slow.

Linebacker Vontaze Burfict (neck) practiced fully on Thursday as it appears there is little doubt that he’ll be able to play after hurting his neck in last Sunday’s loss to Indianapolis.

Below is Thursday’s official injury report:

BALTIMORE
DID NOT PARTICIPATE: DE Chris Canty (wrist), TE Owen Daniels (knee), LB Daryl Smith (non-injury), WR Steve Smith (non-injury)
FULL PARTICIPATION: T Eugene Monroe (knee), G Kelechi Osemele (knee)

CINCINNATI
OUT: LB Rey Maualuga (hamstring)
DID NOT PARTICIPATION: WR A.J. Green (toe), OT Andrew Whitworth (non-injury)
LIMITED PARTICIPATION: RB Giovani Bernard (ribs), G Clint Boling (non-injury), CB Leon Hall (back)
FULL PARTICIPATION: TE Kevin Brock (neck), LB Vontaze Burfict (neck), DE Robert Geathers (toe), DE Wallace Gilberry (eye), LB Emmanuel Lamur (shoulder), T Marshall Newhouse (back), G/C Mike Pollak (knee), T Andre Smith (shoulder), DT Brandon Thompson (knee)

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Monroe, Osemele practice fully as Ravens prepare for AFC North showdown

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Monroe, Osemele practice fully as Ravens prepare for AFC North showdown

Posted on 22 October 2014 by Luke Jones

OWINGS MILLS, Md. — The Ravens hope to have their starting offensive line back for their key AFC North showdown with the Cincinnati Bengals as left tackle Eugene Monroe and left guard Kelechi Osemele were both practicing on Wednesday.

The offensive line practiced without helmets and pads during the special-teams portion of practice open to reporters, but both Monroe and Osemele suited up to work as media were escorted away from the indoor practice field at the Ravens’ Owings Mills training facility. Monroe missed his fourth straight game in last Sunday’s 29-7 win over Atlanta while Osemele was out for his second straight game, leaving rookies James Hurst and John Urschel to start in their place.

Both linemen saw limited practice work last week, which was considered a good sign for their potential returns against Cincinnati on Sunday. They were both listed as full participants on Wednesday’s injury report.

The only players absent from Wednesday’s workout were defensive end Chris Canty (wrist surgery) and tight end Owen Daniels (knee). Though he’s periodically received a day off from practice during certain game weeks, Thursday has typically been the day on which Daniels has rested.

Newly-signed long snapper Kevin McDermott was present for Wednesday’s workout and will wear No. 47 as he replaces the injured Morgan Cox.

The Bengals have been dealing with a slew of key injuries of their own as wide receiver A.J. Green was not practicing Wednesday as he continues to recover from a toe injury. The Pro Bowl wide receiver hasn’t played since Week 5.

However, linebacker Vontaze Burfict (neck) practiced on a limited basis, which was a good sign for his availability against the Ravens on Sunday.

Below is Wednesday’s official injury report:

BALTIMORE
DID NOT PARTICIPATE: DE Chris Canty (wrist), TE Owen Daniels (knee)
FULL PARTICIPATION: T Eugene Monroe (knee), G Kelechi Osemele (knee)

CINCINNATI
OUT: LB Rey Maualuga (hamstring)
DID NOT PARTICIPATION: DE Robert Geathers (toe), WR A.J. Green (toe), CB Leon Hall (back), G/C Mike Pollak (knee)
LIMITED PARTICIPATION: RB Giovani Bernard (ribs), TE Kevin Brock (neck), LB Vontaze Burfict (neck), DE Wallace Gilberry (eye), LB Emmanuel Lamur (shoulder), T Marshall Newhouse (back), T Andre Smith (shoulder), DT Brandon Thompson (knee)

 

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Ravens staking claim as one of NFL’s best with fast start

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Ravens staking claim as one of NFL’s best with fast start

Posted on 19 October 2014 by Luke Jones

BALTIMORE — The Ravens staked their claim as the best team in the AFC North with a 29-7 win over the Atlanta Falcons Sunday to move into first place ahead of Cincinnati.

With their fourth 5-2 start in the last five years, the Ravens have put themselves in prime position to return to the playoffs as they approach the midway point of the 2014 season. But how much does that mean as we approach the final week of October?

“Meaningful in Week 7, so, it’s good to be there in that situation at this time,” head coach John Harbaugh said. “But you have to build on it, you have to keep getting better. We’re not a good enough team to do the things that we want to do right now, so we have to keep improving.”

Baltimore may not be a flawless team — there’s no such thing in the modern NFL — but it’s difficult to look at the numbers and not be impressed with what Harbaugh’s group has done through the first seven weeks of 2014. Even with 14 teams having played only six games at the end of business on Sunday, the Ravens have allowed the fewest points (104) and own the best point differential (plus 89) in the NFL.

Yes, they appear to have drawn the right year to play the woeful NFC South — a division where 3-3-1 Carolina currently sits in first place — but you can’t control which teams are on the schedule. The Ravens are not only beating the teams they’re supposed to beat, but they’re throttling them, which doesn’t often happen in the parity-driven NFL.

Already securing four wins of 20 or more points, the improved Ravens offense has received much of the attention, but the defense is taking major strides with its second straight game collecting five sacks, the first time that’s happened since the 2006 season. It was no surprising feat to limit the hapless Tampa Bay offense last week, but holding Matt Ryan and the Falcons’ third-ranked unit to just seven points was an impressive task.

With the pass rush coming alive and the play of the secondary stabilizing, the confidence on the defensive side of the ball is growing. Several defensive players spoke after the game about the speech linebackers coach Ted Monachino offered Saturday night, challenging a talented group of outside linebackers to raise its level of play to where it belongs.

It’s safe to say the message was received on Sunday as Ryan was hit nine times a week after Buccaneers quarterback Mike Glennon was hit 15 times.

“We’re dangerous, and we’re real serious. We’re coming out playing with an attitude,” said rush specialist Pernell McPhee, who added two more sacks on Sunday to continue his strong season. “Our [secondary] needs us, and I know we need them. I think [defensive coordinator] Dean Pees is doing a great job of calling the plays and setting us up to get the sacks. We’re just focusing in and trying to play ball.”

Much credit should go to Pees, who has shown various looks up front by moving around Terrell Suggs, Elvis Dumervil, and McPhee to cause confusion while using a safety-by-committee approach in the secondary. Matt Elam and Darian Stewart started the game, but rookie Terrence Brooks and the returning Will Hill also saw extensive action at the safety position.

Former Ravens defensive coordinator Rex Ryan was known for bringing “organized chaos,” but Pees’ decision to substitute so frequently in the secondary reminded the 65-year-old coordinator of his college coaching days at Miami of Ohio when he used various personnel looks in a 1986 upset win over a top 10 LSU team in Baton Rouge. Of course, Baltimore didn’t face that kind of a talent disadvantage Sunday, but it illustrates the creative lengths used to help mask what’s been a deficiency of the defense to this point in the season.

Time will tell whether the safety rotation will continue, but the best weapon to neutralize a shaky secondary has been the major heat in the pocket. It’s also created more opportunities for turnovers as defensive backs got their hands on several Ryan passes despite not coming away with any interceptions.

“Those dudes are our best friends,” said cornerback Jimmy Smith about the pass rush. “They get in there, they disrupt things, they cause havoc, they make quarterbacks panic and throw the ball in the air. And on our end, we have to do a better job of coming up with some more turnovers. We’ve had a lot of opportunities, and we have a lot of drops.”

Unlike last season’s 8-8 team that remained static with issues on each side of the ball showing up on a weekly basis, these Ravens appear to be improving as the year progresses. Their only loss since Week 1 came on the road two weeks ago against Indianapolis, a team that’s won five straight games and only beat them by seven points at Lucas Oil Stadium.

It’s true that no one should confuse Tampa Bay or Atlanta for juggernauts, but the Ravens have a tremendous opportunity to not only seize commanding control of the AFC North but to make an emphatic claim as one of the best teams in the NFL if they can take care of business in trips to Cincinnati and Pittsburgh the next two weeks. It won’t be easy playing on the road against their two biggest rivals, but the Ravens have looked like the class of the division through seven weeks while the Bengals have gone 0-2-1 since their bye with two road losses of 26 or more points.

The Ravens continue to show improvement on both sides of the ball while stacking wins as they now have a chance to pay back Cincinnati for its Week 1 win in Baltimore.

“We have everything that we want to do right in front of us,” quarterback Joe Flacco said. “We just have to go out there and continue to play well. We have a tough opponent next week that we didn’t play necessarily good against, at least for a half, in the first game. We have to come back out there and prove ourselves. They’re a good football team, and they’re going to be hungry, and we’re [playing] there. It’s going to be a tough test; I can’t wait for it.”

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Join Us Thursday Night with #89 Steve Smith!

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Join Us Thursday Night with #89 Steve Smith!

Posted on 08 October 2014 by WNST Staff

We’ll be hanging out with Ravens standout WR Steve Smith Thursday night as we’re back with the good folks at Greenmount Station in Hampstead. Kickoff is at 7:30pm!

We’ll chat with Steve about his experience thus far after the first five weeks of the regular season here in Baltimore. How did it feel going against his former team? Is Steve happy with where the Ravens sit, currently at 3-2 heading into Tampa Bay?

Also, There Goes My Hero will be in the house as we continue our mission of swabbing as many people as possible and adding them to the bone marrow donor database. Thus far, we’ve raised over $20,000 and have swabbed over 1,100 people since April. We hope to crush those numbers this fall and beyond. If you haven’t been swabbed, it’s easy and painless. Click here for more info on the swabbing process and any restrictions. THANK YOU to everyone who has donated and/or swabbed for us and #JennStrong. We can’t thank you enough and we hope you’ll continue to spread the word.

As always, each and every one of our live shows are presented by Freedmont Mortgage. If you’re looking to buy or refinance a home, don’t make a 30 year mistake by choosing the wrong lender. Visit freedmont.com to learn more. Also big thanks to Enoch Office and Rugenix for their continued support!

UPDATE FROM WNST STAFF: Ravens rookie LB C.J. Mosley is expected to join WNST and host Steve Smith on Thursday night after his standout performance on Sunday. We hope to see you all in Carroll County!

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Five numbers behind Ravens’ 23-16 loss to Cincinnati

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Five numbers behind Ravens’ 23-16 loss to Cincinnati

Posted on 07 September 2014 by Luke Jones

After every Ravens game this season, we’ll take a look at five numbers that help explain the outcome …

0 — The number of sacks and quarterback hits the defense registered on Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton
Skinny: Cincinnati offensive coordinator Hue Jackson did an effective job using a no-huddle attack and calling for three-step drops to neutralize the Ravens’ ability to create pressure, but the front four did very little to make Dalton uncomfortable in the pocket, especially in the first half. It was defensive coordinator Dean Pees’ decision to send nickel back Asa Jackson on a blitz that left cornerback Chykie Brown with no help on the 77-yard touchdown pass to A.J. Green that sent the Ravens to defeat. Baltimore simply didn’t do enough to rattle the fourth-year quarterback, and he made them pay.

1.67 — The number of yards the Ravens averaged on first down before the final drive of the first half
Skinny: Head coach John Harbaugh explained after the game how the Ravens wanted to use some bootlegs and play-action passes early to keep the Bengals defense off balance, but those plays put a drive in a deep hole if you don’t complete passes on first down. The Ravens encountered far too many second-and-long and third-and-long situations in the first half, which upset the overall play-call balance and led to zero points being scored in the first half. In the second half, the Ravens averaged a healthier 4.38 yards per first-down play, but the damage of a 15-point deficit had already been done and left little margin for error for the defense before the long touchdown pass to Green.

3 — The number of sacks taken by quarterback Joe Flacco
Skinny: This may not resonate until you examine the circumstances of each one. The first came on the final play of the first half when the Ravens elected to run a third-and-10 play from the Cincinnati 15 and Flacco inexplicably held the ball way too long, allowing the first half to expire without even a field goal try. The final two came on the Ravens’ last two offensive plays of the game when Flacco held the ball too long for a coverage sack to turn third-and-4 into fourth-and-9 and followed that with the inability to get the ball out to a “hot” read when the Bengals sent a free rusher off the right edge. Yes, there’s no guarantee he completes the pass or is even able to move the chains in that spot, but the sack he took on the previous play put him in an even more difficult down and distance and it’s still his responsibility to get the ball out in that situation — even if it would have resulted in an incomplete pass to end the drive, anyway.

7 — Number of unofficial drops committed by Ravens pass-catchers
Skinny: Flacco certainly didn’t play well on Sunday, but his receivers did him no favors as Steve Smith dropped four passes to dampen a Baltimore debut that included an 80-yard touchdown catch. Jacoby Jones also dropped two passes, including a deep pass over the middle that could have gone for a touchdown in the second quarter. Offensive coordinator Gary Kubiak’s West Coast offense is built on timing and precision, which the Ravens showed too little of throughout the game. Smith summed it up nicely that sometimes receivers have games where they “can’t catch a cold butt-naked in Alaska with a flu shot.”

62 — The number of pass attempts by Flacco
Skinny: The total matched his career high set in last year’s season opener in Denver when the Ravens lost 49-27 and Peyton Manning tossed seven touchdowns passes. The defense may not have broken while allowing the Bengals to kick five field goals in the first half, but that’s still too many scoring drives and put an ineffective offense in a sizable hole at intermission. The early lack of production on first down and Bernard Pierce’s ineffectiveness forced the Ravens to look too much like the unbalanced offense they were in 2013. Not counting the 80-yard touchdown to Smith, Flacco averaged a sickly 4.34 yards per attempt on his other 61 throws. Too many attempts and too few being completed down the field.

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Ravens-Bengals: Inactives and pre-game notes

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Ravens-Bengals: Inactives and pre-game notes

Posted on 07 September 2014 by Luke Jones

BALTIMORE — The Ravens begin their 2014 journey trying to get back to the postseason against the Cincinnati Bengals at M&T Bank Stadium on Sunday afternoon.

But they’ll have to do it without starting cornerback Lardarius Webb, who was ruled inactive for the season opener.

Webb was out on the field two hours before kickoff stretching and working on lateral movement and his backpedal with secondary coach Steve Spagnuolo before ultimately being ruled out. The sixth-year defensive back was stricken with back spasms on the second day of full-squad workouts on July 25 and missed the entire preseason, making concerns more about rust than how his back feels at this point with so little time to get in playing shape.

His absence leaves the Ravens with only three true cornerbacks on the 46-man game-day roster — Jimmy Smith, Chykie Brown, and Asa Jackson. However, safety Anthony Levine also played cornerback in the preseason, and rookie safety Terrence Brooks saw extensive playing time at the inside nickel spot. The Ravens waived veteran cornerback Derek Cox on Saturday, which many interpreted as a sign that Webb would be ready to play.

Brown was working opposite Smith in the starting defense during pre-game warmups.

The only other player who appeared on the Ravens’ final injury report this week was running back Bernard Pierce (concussion), who was listed as probable and is active for Sunday’s game.

A surprising player on the inactive list was inside linebacker Arthur Brown, who was a healthy scratch and was the Ravens’ second-round pick a year ago. Offensive linemen Jah Reid and John Urschel were also healthy inactives, leaving only Gino Gradkowski and James Hurst as available reserves behind the starting line.

Meanwhile, the Bengals will be without one of their starting receivers as Marvin Jones was ruled out at the beginning of the week as he continues to recover from a broken foot suffered in the preseason. Third-year wideout Mohamed Sanu is expected to start in Jones’ place opposite Pro Bowl wide receiver A.J. Green.

First-round cornerback Darqueze Dennard was also ruled inactive after being listed as questionable with a hip injury.

Baltimore is meeting Cincinnati for the 37th time in franchise history. The Ravens hold the 20-16 edge in the all-time series and are 13-5 against the Bengals at home.

The Ravens will be wearing white jerseys with white pants while Cincinnati sports black tops and white pants for Week 1.

The referee for Sunday’s game will be Gene Steratore.

The forecast in Baltimore calls for temperatures in the low 80s with no chance of precipation and winds below 10 miles per hour, according to Weather.com.

Here are Sunday’s inactives:

BALTIMORE
CB Lardarius Webb
WR Michael Campanaro
LB Arthur Brown
OL John Urschel
OL Jah Reid
WR Deonte Thompson
RB Fitz Toussaint

CINCINNATI
CB Darqueze Dennard
RB Rex Burkhead
LB Sean Porter
OL T.J. Johnson
WR Marvin Jones
WR James Wright
DE Will Clarke

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

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Ravens-Bengals: Five predictions for Sunday

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Ravens-Bengals: Five predictions for Sunday

Posted on 06 September 2014 by Luke Jones

The Ravens are out to prove their disappointing 2013 campaign was an aberration and not the start of a downward trend as they welcome the Cincinnati Bengals to M&T Bank Stadium to begin the 2014 season.

There is plenty of optimism that an offense ranking 29th in the NFL in total yards a year ago will be much improved with the arrival of new offensive coordinator Gary Kubiak and the offseason signing of five-time Pro Bowl wide receiver Steve Smith. However, growing concerns exist for a defense that lost defensive tackle Arthur Jones and No. 3 cornerback Corey Graham in free agency and experienced a rash of injuries to the secondary that limited practice time during the summer.

Along with the Pittsburgh Steelers, the Ravens are expected to battle the Bengals for AFC North supremacy as Cincinnati won the division going away a year ago. Predictions have been all over the place in terms of how the pundits expect this division to play out after the Bengals didn’t make any significant upgrades and lost both coordinators in the offseason.

Sunday will mark the 37th time these AFC North rivals have met with the Ravens owning a 13-5 mark in Baltimore. The Ravens have won five of the last seven games between these teams and are 7-5 against Cincinnati in the John Harbaugh era.

Here’s what to expect as the Ravens look to begin their journey back to the postseason after their first non-playoff season since 2007 a year ago …

1. Nose tackle Brandon Williams will control the battle against Bengals rookie center Russell Bodine. So many AFC North meetings come down to which team better controls the line of scrimmage, making this an intriguing matchup of first-year starters in the middle. Cincinnati will try to establish the run to limit quarterback Andy Dalton’s propensity for making mistakes against the Ravens defense, but Williams will build on what was an impressive summer by consistently disrupting run plays up the middle for minimal yardage. The Bengals are excited about Bodine’s potential, but Williams will make him look exactly like a fourth-round pick playing in his first NFL game.

2. Miscommunication in the secondary will lead to a long Andy Dalton touchdown to Bengals wide receiver A.J. Green. The Ravens’ decision to cut veteran Derek Cox Saturday suggests they’re confident in the health of cornerbacks Jimmy Smith, Lardarius Webb, and Asa Jackson, but the defense was unable to practice with its starting secondary intact all summer. That reality will make a difference along with free safety Darian Stewart making his first start for the Ravens as there are bound to be some communication issues and missed assignments. The absence of No. 2 wide receiver Marvin Jones will help, but the elite Green will take advantage of a busted coverage to catch a long touchdown from Dalton.

3. Steve Smith will catch six passes for 75 yards and a touchdown in his Baltimore debut. New Bengals defensive coordinator Paul Guenther will employ plenty of Cover 2 to attempt to neutralize the speed of Torrey Smith on the outside, which will give the 35-year-old Smith the opportunity to work the intermediate middle to move the chains. It’s fair to doubt how well Smith holds up over 16 weeks of football, but he is too fresh and motivated not to make a significant impact early in the season. A Joe Flacco touchdown pass to the former Carolina Panther will send M&T Bank Stadium into a frenzy and give the Ravens a touchdown to move ahead after a long scoring drive.

4. Bengals running back Giovani Bernard will collect 125 total yards and a touchdown, giving the Ravens fits as a receiver out of the backfield. Linebacker Daryl Smith said the key to slowing the shifty second-year back is for all 11 defensive players to fly to the ball whenever he gets it, but that’s easier said than done as he collected more than 1,200 yards from scrimmage in a part-time role as a rookie. The Ravens must be cognizant of his ability to make defenders miss when catching screens and check-downs from Dalton, but Cincinnati’s other weapons all over the field make this easier said than done. Bernard will be a tough test for Smith and rookie inside linebacker C.J. Mosley, who can’t lose him in underneath zone coverage while paying attention to tight ends Jermaine Gresham and Tyler Eifert down the seam. 

5. The home-field advantage and a late turnover by Dalton will be enough for the Ravens to come away with a 23-21 win in the first of three AFC North games to start the season. I expect the Bengals to be the better team over the course of the 2014 season, but the Ravens’ improved offense and overall toughness playing at M&T Bank Stadium will prove to be the difference in Week 1. The revamped running game will be just effective enough to keep pressure off of Flacco, and the Ravens defense will use the emotion of the crowd to pressure Dalton and compensate for a vulnerable secondary that is sure to make coaches and fans nervous throughout the 2014 season. The Ravens need to hold serve at home in their divisional games and will do just that on Sunday.

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Ravens list Webb as questionable for Sunday’s season opener

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Ravens list Webb as questionable for Sunday’s season opener

Posted on 05 September 2014 by Luke Jones

OWINGS MILLS, Md. — The Ravens listed starting cornerback Lardarius Webb as questionable on their final injury report ahead of Sunday’s season opener against the Cincinnati Bengals at M&T Bank Stadium.

The sixth-year defensive back practiced fully all week after missing five weeks of summer practice due to back spasms first sustained on July 25. Webb is expected by most to play against the Bengals’ explosive passing attack, but it remains to be seen how effective or limited he might be after missing all of training camp.

For players such as Webb and veteran tight end Owen Daniels who missed significant practice time last month, this week was an encouraging development as all 53 players participated fully. Running back Bernard Pierce was the only other player listed and is probable after being cleared from the concussion sustained in the third preseason game against Washington.

“This week is valuable for all the players. They all have done a great job,” head coach John Harbaugh said. “I don’t care where you’re at as a player, you need to prepare. And [Webb and Daniels] prepared like everybody else. Everybody is at their own spot in terms of what they need to do to get ready to play.”

Meanwhile, the Bengals ruled out starting wide receiver Marvin Jones (foot) at the start of the week and listed rookie cornerback Darqueze Dennard (hip) as questionable for Sunday. Linebacker Vontaze Burfict (hamstring) and tight end Tyler Eifert (shoulder) were listed as probable.

Here’s the final injury report of the week:

BALTIMORE
QUESTIONABLE: CB Lardarius Webb (back)
PROBABLE: RB Bernard Pierce (concussion)

CINCINNATI
OUT: RB Rex Burkhead (knee), WR Marvin Jones (foot)
DOUBTFUL: LB Sean Porter (hamstring), WR James Wright (concussion)
QUESTIONABLE: CB Darqueze Dennard (hip)
PROBABLE: LB Vontaze Burfict (hamstring), TE Tyler Eifert (shoulder), RB Cedric Peerman (hip), G/C Mike Pollak (knee), T Andre Smith (concussion)

 

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No changes to Ravens’ injury report on Thursday

Posted on 04 September 2014 by Luke Jones

OWINGS MILLS, Md. — While questions remain over how prepared the Ravens secondary will be in the season opener against the Cincinnati Bengals, uncertainty about its healthy has dissipated as all 53 players on the active roster practiced fully for the second straight day.

Cornerback Lardarius Webb (back) and running back Bernard Pierce (concussion) were the only Ravens players listed on Thursday’s injury report, as was the case the previous day. Baltimore is hoping Webb’s experiencing entering his sixth NFL season will offset the five weeks of missed practice time due to back spasms first suffered on July 25.

Meanwhile, the Bengals are dealing with many more injury concerns after wide receiver Marvin Jones and running back Rex Burkhead were already ruled out for Sunday’s game earlier this week. The left side of the Cincinnati offensive line was sidelined Thursday, but tackle Andrew Whitworth and left guard Clint Boling were simply given a veteran day off, according to the Bengals’ report.

Linebacker Vontaze Burfict was limited in Thursday’s practice due to the heat after recently getting over a hamstring issue. Rookie cornerback Darqueze Dennard has been limited two straight days because of a hip injury.

Prior to Thursday’s practice, the Ravens announced they re-signed veteran linebacker Josh Bynes to their practice squad and released rookie defensive tackle A.J. Pataiali’i. Bynes cleared waivers on Wednesday and was eligible for the practice squad because of changes made by the NFL for the 2014 season.

Under the new 10-man practice squad rules, each team may sign a maximum of two players with no more than two accrued seasons. Previously, if a player had an accrued NFL season by being on the 53-roster for more than six games, he was ineligible for the practice squad unless he was on the active game-day roster for fewer than nine contests. Bynes has only accrued two full NFL seasons, making him eligible despite the fact that he appeared in 25 games for the Ravens over the last two seasons.

Here is Thursday’s injury report:

BALTIMORE
FULL PARTICIPATION: RB Bernard Pierce (concussion), CB Lardarius Webb (back)

CINCINNATI
OUT: RB Max Burkhead (knee), WR Marvin Jones (foot)
DID NOT PARTICIPATE: LB Sean Porter (hamstring), WR James Wright (concussion), G Clint Boling (non-injury related – veteran day), T Andrew Whitworth (non-injury related – veteran day)
LIMITED PARTICIPATION: LB Vontaze Burfict (heat-related), CB Darqueze Dennard (hip)
FULL PARTICIPATION: G/C Mike Pollak (knee), TE Tyler Eifert (shoulder), RB Cedric Peerman (hip), OT Andre Smith (concussion)

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Harbaugh sees no “desperation” for Ravens to make trade

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Harbaugh sees no “desperation” for Ravens to make trade

Posted on 26 August 2014 by Luke Jones

OWINGS MILLS, Md. — Eighty percent of the Ravens’ projected nickel secondary remains sidelined less than two weeks away from the season opener against the Cincinnati Bengals, but you won’t observe any sense of panic from John Harbaugh.

Cornerbacks Lardarius Webb, Jimmy Smith, and Asa Jackson as well as strong safety Matt Elam are currently out with various ailments, but the head coach remains optimistic that all will be ready when Pro Bowl wide receiver A.J. Green and a talented Bengals offense comes to Baltimore on Sept. 7. Harbaugh said Tuesday he expects Webb — who’s been sidelined with back spasms since July 25 — and Smith to be practicing by early next week while Jackson was running and working on lateral movement during Tuesday’s practice. Elam is expected to be practicing again by the end of the week after suffering a minor leg injury in Saturday’s preseason game against Washington.

Even if those expectations become reality for the Baltimore defense, serious questions remain at the No. 3 corner spot that’s essentially become a starting role in today’s pass-happy NFL. Jackson has never played a defensive snap entering his third season while fourth-year corner Chykie Brown saw only 39 defensive snaps during the 2013 regular season.

Needless to say, general manager Ozzie Newsome has been scanning the market to potentially add veteran cornerback help following the free-agent departure of Corey Graham in the offseason. The Ravens signed former Atlanta Falcons cornerback Dominique Franks in mid-June, but his play this summer has been inconsistent after he was largely relegated to special-teams duties last season.

The poor health and lack of experience behind Webb and Smith have prompted many pundits and fans alike to clamor for an impact move as soon as possible.

“Maybe there will be a guy that will fall and somebody is going to have a real need for something that we have to offer,” Harbaugh said. “I know Ozzie and Eric [DeCosta] and Vince Newsome and George [Kokinis] and those guys are all talking with everybody around the league in terms of what’s out there. Not that we feel we have any desperation things that we have to get, but from the standpoint that [if] there’s something that we can get better, we want to do that.”

Trades at the end of the summer have been sparse in the Harbaugh era as the only impact swap came at the end of the 2010 preseason when the Ravens traded a fifth-round pick to the Seattle Seahawks for cornerback Josh Wilson. Needing another defensive back after starter Domonique Foxworth suffered a season-ending knee injury at the start of training camp, Baltimore benefited greatly from that acquisition as Wilson — now with the Falcons — started nine games and intercepted three passes to help the Ravens to a 12-4 record and a third straight trip to the playoffs.

Might the Ravens draw from a position of strength such as linebacker or wide receiver and possibly couple that with a draft pick to nab an established cornerback?

Harbaugh isn’t betting on it.

“We look at that every year, the opportunities to make trades and things like that,” Harbaugh said. “And every year, I’m usually disappointed that we don’t get anybody, because people don’t want to trade good players. It’s not as predominant as you would like to think it is going to be.”

Options are slim on the current market with veterans such as Asante Samuel, Chris Houston, and Dunta Robinson carrying age- or injury-related baggage that hasn’t been attractive to teams this summer. If the Ravens were interested in any of those veteran options, they likely would have pulled the trigger by now to give them sufficient time to learn Dean Pees’ defensive system.

Over the years, Newsome has been known to find a gem or two who was let go by another team at the end of the preseason such as offensive tackle Willie Anderson in 2008 or safety James Ihedigbo in 2012, but cornerback talent is at an ever-increasing premium with rules consistently trending toward offense. The odds simply aren’t great to be able to complete a reasonable trade that will help, but that’s fine with the seventh-year head coach as the Ravens prepare to play their final preseason contest in New Orleans on Thursday night.

“I like our team right now the way it stands,” Harbaugh said. “If we can get better, great. You get your hopes up, [then] they’re probably going to be dashed. But you can never count Ozzie out. He’s pretty special.”

NOTES: Harbaugh said he has decided whether suspended running back Ray Rice will play in the preseason finale, but he chose not to disclose his answer to the media. It would be surprising to see the three-time Pro Bowl selection playing behind a second-string offensive line that’s been suspect this summer. … Sixth-round quarterback Keith Wenning’s future remains in limbo as the Ravens haven’t carried three quarterbacks on their 53-man roster since 2009, but Harbaugh downplayed the difficulty of the decision. “You just decide who your best 53 players are. If the third quarterback is in the top 53, he’s on the team. If he’s not, he’s not. It’s simple.” … Quarterbacks are wearing new practice jerseys (modeled by backup Tyrod Taylor below) that are black with purple numbers, replacing the red models worn since Harbaugh arrived in 2008. The change was likely inspired by the practice jersey worn by San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick — a black top with red numbering — when his team practiced with the Ravens in Owings Mills earlier this month.

 

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