Tag Archive | "crockett gillmore"

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Harbaugh updates health of Gillmore, Flacco, Perriman, Suggs

Posted on 22 March 2016 by Luke Jones

While speaking at length about the tragic death of cornerback Tray Walker as well as NFL rules changes and instant replay, Ravens coach John Harbaugh also provided health updates on several players at the league meetings in Boca Raton, Fla. on Tuesday morning.

Tight end Crockett Gillmore continues to recover from offseason shoulder surgery, but the Ravens learned recently that he would not need surgery for torn labrums in both shoulders as was previously thought. Gillmore’s uncertain status as well as the 10-game suspension of second-year tight end Nick Boyle prompted Baltimore to sign veteran Benjamin Watson two weeks ago, but their 2015 starting tight end appears to no longer be a question mark for the start of the coming season and could even be back on the practice field for organized team activities this spring.

“It turned out that as time went on, the other shoulder didn’t need to be done,” Harbaugh said. “He’s had one shoulder done, and they say now that the other one does not need to be done. He’s going to be fine, probably for OTAs — certainly for training camp. That [information came] within the last two weeks, so that was great news for us.”

Meanwhile, quarterback Joe Flacco remains “right on schedule” to be ready for training camp, but Harbaugh reiterated that the Ravens will “just have to see how he feels” as they move closer to the summer.

Second-year wide receiver Breshad Perriman continues to rehab from a partially-torn posterior cruciate ligament in his right knee, but the Ravens are still saying that the 2015 first-round pick should be ready for spring workouts. Of course, observers will remain skeptical until the Central Florida product is back on the practice field and can prove he is healthy after initially injuring his knee on the first full day of training camp last July and suffering a setback in late September.

“The expectation for Breshad is to be back for OTAs,” Harbaugh said. “I don’t know what percentage [the knee] is right now, but I know that everybody seems to be happy with his progress. He looks strong. I’ve seen him in there a few times in rehab. Everybody tells me that he’s right where he should be.”

Meanwhile, Harbaugh offered an update on veteran linebacker Terrell Suggs, who suffered a torn Achilles tendon in the season opener last Sept. 13 and didn’t have extensive contact with the organization after the injury. The 2011 AP Defensive Player of the Year was arrested and charged with two misdemeanors in Arizona earlier this month for driving with a suspended license and failing to notify after striking a fixture.

The fact that Suggs was still in a walking boot when he stood on the Ravens’ sideline during their Week 16 win over Pittsburgh raised some eyebrows regarding his recovery last December, but the organization continues to express an optimistic outlook for his 2016 status. The six-time Pro Bowl selection will be entering his 14th season and turns 34 in October.

“Just texting with Terrell back and forth and talking to Mark Smith, he seems to be on schedule,” Harbaugh said. “I have not seen him, so I have not done my own eyeball test yet. Terrell’s going to work hard. He’s going to be ready.”

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As free agency opens, new concern becomes apparent for Ravens

Posted on 09 March 2016 by Luke Jones

As the Ravens entered the offseason, one of the few strengths of a 5-11 team appeared to be its depth at tight end.

Even with the serious doubts surrounding Dennis Pitta’s future in Baltimore, the position consisted of 2014 third-round pick Crockett Gillmore and 2015 draft picks Maxx Williams (second round) and Nick Boyle (fifth round). The trio combined to make 83 receptions for 833 yards and five touchdowns, making one assume that tight end was one of the few spots on either side of the ball that general manager Ozzie Newsome didn’t need to touch.

Then came last month’s news of Boyle being suspended for the first 10 games of the 2016 season for a second violation of the NFL’s policy on performance-enhancing substances. The following week at the scouting combine in Indianapolis, general manager Ozzie Newsome and head coach John Harbaugh revealed that Gillmore — who finished the 2015 season on injured reserve with a back injury — needed surgery for torn labrums in each of his shoulders.

Newsome said Gillmore would “hopefully” be ready for the start of training camp in late July, but the executive’s moves at the start of free agency make you wonder if concerns are even greater than he and Harbaugh indicated late last month.

The signing of veteran tight end Benjamin Watson to a two-year, $7 million contract was surprising because of the Ravens’ typical patience at the start of free agency, but it still made sense with Boyle gone until late November and the offense’s heavy reliance on tight ends. Even at age 35, Watson caught a career-high 74 passes for 825 yards and six touchdowns with New Orleans last season and brings strong character and leadership to a position with very young talent.

But Newsome followed that acquisition with the surprising tender of restricted free agent Chase Ford, who didn’t play a snap for the Ravens last year and was sent to IR shortly after being signed in mid-November. The 6-foot-6, 265-pound Ford caught a combined 34 passes for Minnesota in 2013 and 2014, but the $1.671 million low tender is steep for a player who didn’t play a snap last year and was on the Vikings practice squad before Baltimore signed him.

To be clear, the right-of-first-refusal tender isn’t guaranteed, but that amount currently counts toward the salary cap and it’s no secret that the Ravens don’t have an abundance of room to maneuver. Perhaps the organization thinks Ford is a diamond in the rough, but it’s more likely a reflection of the uneasiness about Gillmore’s status for the start of the season.

The Ravens are already facing the brutal reality of Pitta retiring or releasing him with either outcome leaving a total of $6.6 million in dead cap space that will likely be split over the next two seasons with a post-June 1 designation. But Boyle’s foolishness and Gillmore’s health concerns transformed one of the roster’s deepest positions into a concern on which Newsome felt compelled to act.

These may have been the right moves under the current circumstances, but a $32 million contract to Pitta and three draft picks had already been devoted to the position over the last two years before Watson and Ford were added to the picture over the last couple days, exhausting more resources at tight end.

And that’s a disappointing development when the Ravens have an assortment of needs on both sides of the ball and only so much cap space and so many draft picks to go around.

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Seven Ravens takeaways from NFL scouting combine

Posted on 28 February 2016 by Luke Jones

As the 2016 NFL scouting combine winds down in Indianapolis, we came away with plenty of headlines related to the Ravens as the countdown to the start of free agency and the new league year continues.

Below are seven takeaways from the week:

1. The Joe Flacco contract talks between the Ravens and agent Joe Linta have appeared to be more harmonious than expected. Given the acrimonious negotiations from three years ago, you had to wonder how willing Linta and Flacco would be to cooperate since they once again have all the leverage like they did in 2013 and didn’t have to touch the original six-year, $120.6 million deal. But more signs were pointing to an agreement eventually being reached as the weekend concluded in Indianapolis, which reflects the comments Flacco made earlier this winter in which he acknowledged wanting to win and his $28.55 million salary-cap figure making that difficult. Nothing is official, but the Ravens appear closer to gaining much-needed space to maneuver with free agency rapidly approaching.

2. On the other hand, Justin Tucker receiving the franchise tag early meant a deal wasn’t close. Tucker’s agent, Robert Roche, announcing on Friday that the kicker had been tagged wasn’t surprising after general manager Ozzie Newsome indicated on Wednesday that the Ravens would use it if a long-term agreement wasn’t reached. The organization hasn’t announced the move — probably because it doesn’t want the $4.572 million franchise amount to kick in against the cap any earlier than Tuesday’s deadline — but the early nature of the decision reflects how far apart the sides remained. The Ravens have until July 15 to reach a long-term deal with Tucker before he must play out 2016 for the tag amount, but it would be in Newsome’s best interest to strike a deal sooner rather than later to clear cap room.

3. Baltimore sounds perfectly convinced that Lardarius Webb will be the answer at safety this season. Despite the 30-year-old having a $9.5 million cap figure for the 2016 season, the Ravens were once again adamant that they view Webb as a starting safety. Asked whether he was comfortable with Webb having a cap number that would put him among the most expensive safeties in the league, Newsome went as far as to say it’s a “very good number” when you consider what this offseason’s top safeties are expected to fetch on the open market. Still, it’s a risky assumption to think Webb will play at a level deserving of that kind of price tag. What the Ravens’ stance might mean for the roster standing of other safeties such as Kendrick Lewis, Will Hill, and Matt Elam will be interesting to watch.

4. Concerns remain about wide receiver Breshad Perriman. It’s been seven months since the 2015 first-round pick partially tore the posterior cruciate ligament in his right knee on the first day of training camp, but Newsome indicated he has yet to be fully cleared, which is an all-too-familiar update. The general manager noted Perriman’s smile and good spirits around the team’s Owings Mills training facility in recent weeks, but Newsome only saying he anticipates “at some point this spring that he’ll be out there ready to play” leaves plenty of room for doubt. The Ravens should be looking for another speed receiver to add to the mix, but the passing game needs Perriman on the practice field as much as possible since we’re talking about a player who isn’t yet a proven commodity at the NFL level.

5. The tight end position suddenly doesn’t look so deep anymore. Even with Dennis Pitta likely to be cut if he doesn’t retire, the Ravens appeared to be in great shape at the position. But with the suspended Nick Boyle’s “double down on dumb” — in John Harbaugh’s words — and Crockett Gillmore undergoing surgery on each shoulder that could sideline him into training camp, the Ravens may need to add another tight end to the mix after all. There is plenty of talent at this position, but Gillmore’s health concerns and Boyle’s ban for the first 10 games of the regular season will leave Maxx Williams as Baltimore’s only sure option during spring workouts. The team could re-sign a fringe guy like Konrad Reuland, but drafting a tight end in the later rounds now appears more likely than it did a few weeks ago.

6. Depth at running back won’t be a problem. The group could grow if 2012 first-round pick Trent Richardson is added to the mix, but Harbaugh reiterated on Thursday that Justin Forsett “certainly fits the bill” of a starter and is “absolutely” expected to be part of the team in 2016. Of course, you never know for sure with the Ravens’ cap situation, but that should answer questions about his roster standing as he carries a $3.7 million cap figure for the coming season. The Baltimore coach didn’t go as far as anointing Forsett his starter for 2016, but you just didn’t see quite enough from Buck Allen as a rookie to assume he’s ready to become a No. 1 back. It will be fun watching a group that already includes Forsett, Allen, Lorenzo Taliaferro, and Terrance West compete for playing time this summer.

7. It’s all about the defense in this draft. The Ravens have needs on both sides of the ball after a 5-11 season, but the combine reiterated just how deep this draft is with defensive talent compared to the other side of the ball. Many mock drafts continue to link Baltimore to Notre Dame left tackle Ronnie Stanley — especially if Kelechi Osemele isn’t re-signed — but there are so many directions Newsome can go in finding a high-impact defensive player. Whether staying put at No. 6 or moving up or down in the first round, there are intriguing pass rushers (Joey Bosa, Noah Spence, and Shaq Lawson), talented cornerbacks (Jalen Ramsey, Vernon Hargreaves, and Mackensie Alexander), and even a dynamic linebacker (Myles Jack) who could be sitting there for a defense in need of a game-changing talent.

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Gillmore to IR, J. Smith has “good chance” to return Sunday

Posted on 21 December 2015 by Luke Jones

OWINGS MILLS, Md. — The Ravens’ injured reserve list grew once again on Monday as tight end Crockett Gillmore will officially miss the rest of the season.

The 2014 third-round pick was in his first season as a starter and had been sidelined with a back injury since Dec. 6. Gillmore also missed two games earlier this year with a calf injury, meaning he will have missed a total of six games in 2015.

Head coach John Harbaugh said last week that Gillmore appeared unlikely to play again this season.

“It’s not working out. His back flared up again,” Harbaugh said last Wednesday. “He also has the [sore] shoulder. It’s not looking good for Crockett right now.”

The Ravens now have 19 players on IR, which doesn’t include tight end Dennis Pitta being on the physically unable to perform list or linebacker Zach Thompson, who was released from IR after receiving an injury settlement earlier this month.

While many fans lamented the free-agent loss of Owen Daniels, pondered the status of Dennis Pitta, and looked forward to the arrival of rookie draft picks Maxx Williams and Nick Boyle in the offseason, Gillmore immediately grabbed hold of the No. 1 tight end job over the summer and caught 33 passes for 412 yards and four touchdowns in 10 games. Used mostly as a blocking tight end as a rookie, the Colorado State product proved he was capable of being a reliable target as a pass-catcher.

Able to break tackles with a massive 6-foot-6, 270-pound frame, Gillmore has drawn comparisons to former New York Giants tight end Mark Bavaro with his impressive physicality.

The loss of Gillmore was expected, but the Ravens hope to have No. 1 cornerback Jimmy Smith back in action against Pittsburgh this coming Sunday. Smith injured his hamstring on the opening series of Sunday’s loss to Kansas City and did not return.

With the postseason-hopeful Steelers sporting the league’s fifth-ranked passing game, the struggling Ravens will need all the help they can get in the secondary.

“Jimmy has a good chance,” Harbaugh said. “I just talked to him and I think he’s got a good chance to play, so we’ll see how it goes this week.”

To take Gillmore’s place on the 53-man roster, the Ravens signed former Cincinnati Bengals outside linebacker Chris Carter. Also a former member of the Steelers, Carter is a five-year NFL veteran who had 10 tackles in 13 games for the Bengals this season before being waived last week.

Carter was selected by Pittsburgh in the fifth round of the 2011 draft out of Fresno State.

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Gillmore could be next Ravens player to go to injured reserve

Posted on 16 December 2015 by Luke Jones

OWINGS MILLS, Md. — One of the few offensive bright spots for the Ravens in 2015 has been the development of Crockett Gillmore, but the second-year tight end could be the latest player to move to injured reserve.

Still dealing with a back issue that surfaced during the Week 13 loss to Miami, Gillmore will not play in Sunday’s game against the Kansas City Chiefs, according to head coach John Harbaugh.

“It’s not working out. His back flared up again,” Harbaugh said. “He’s also got the shoulder [issue]. It’s not looking good for Crockett right now.”

Currently fourth on the team in receptions (33) and third in receiving yards (412), Gillmore missed two games earlier in the season with a calf injury and has been banged up in recent weeks. The Ravens are hurting at the tight end position with Gillmore injured and rookie Nick Boyle being suspended four games for violating the NFL’s performance-enhancing substance policy.

Harbaugh indicated that Gillmore could be placed on IR where 18 players currently reside, and that’s not even counting veteran tight end Dennis Pitta, who has spent the entire season on the reserve physically unable to perform list.

“Potentially. We’ll see,” Harbaugh said. “Maybe he’ll come back tomorrow and I’ll hear, ‘Crockett’s feeling great, and he’ll be out there Sunday.’ I’m just being more honest than I usually am, probably, with an injury. Maybe I’m as frustrated as everybody, I guess, right now.

“I’m sure [Chiefs head coach Andy Reid] is appreciative of that, too.”

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Schaub questionable, Gillmore doubtful for Seattle game

Posted on 11 December 2015 by Luke Jones

OWINGS MILLS, Md. — John Harbaugh wasn’t tipping his hand about his quarterback situation on Friday, but the Ravens coach doesn’t think Seattle is waiting with bated breath over who will be under center, either.

After missing his third straight practice with what’s been listed as a chest injury, Matt Schaub was officially designated as questionable for Sunday’s game. Should Schaub not be able to play, sixth-year quarterback Jimmy Clausen would make his first start for the Ravens after being claimed off waivers from Chicago on Nov. 24.

“I don’t think it matters to the Seahawks. They don’t care,” Harbaugh said. “They’re going to play against our offense. That’s what they’re getting ready for. That’s not going to matter to them. But we really don’t know yet.”

According to Harbaugh, Schaub worked out on his own on Thursday while Clausen continued to receive the starting reps in practice with the newly-signed quarterback Bryn Renner working behind him. After expressing optimism on Wednesday regarding his status, Schaub declined an interview request in the locker room following Friday’s practice.

Offensive coordinator Marc Trestman has constructed a menu of plays for Clausen as he continues to get up to speed with the Baltimore offense in a short period of time. He said he’s feeling more comfortable working with center John Urschel and starting receivers Kamar Aiken and Chris Givens after he did not receive first-team reps in his previous two weeks with Baltimore.

Schaub has prepared to play from a mental standpoint while resting a body that was battered in last Sunday’s loss to Miami.

“There’s no sense in putting him out here in practice where he can get banged and bumped around,” Harbaugh said. “But if he can go, he will. If it’s best for our team for Jimmy to go, then that’s the way we’ll do it there.”

Should Clausen start against the Seahawks, he would come the sixth quarterback in NFL history to start two games against the same opponent in a season while playing for two different teams. The 2010 second-round pick from Notre Dame can only hope the results are better this time around after the Bears were shut out in a 26-0 final in Week 3.

“It’s crazy to think of it,” said Clausen was asked about potentially making history. “I’ve seen crazier things happen to me and to other guys in the league before, so we’ll see what happens.”

Starting tight end Crockett Gillmore (back) and wide receiver Marlon Brown (back) were both listed as doubtful after missing practice all week. Rookie tight end Maxx Williams has been fully cleared from the concussion protocol and is probable to play against the Seahawks. He would be in line to start with Gillmore likely out and fellow rookie Nick Boyle suspended for the rest of the season.

To no surprise, the Ravens officially ruled out left tackle Eugene Monroe, who will miss his third straight game with a shoulder injury and has started just six games all season.

In the second season of a five-year, $37.5 million contract, Monroe has started and finished just three games in 2015. Harbaugh hinted at the possibility of the 28-year-old being placed on season-ending injured reserve, but nothing had been made official as of Friday afternoon.

That resolution could mean the end of Monroe’s time in Baltimore as he simply hasn’t been reliable over the last two seasons at one of the most important positions on the field.

“He’s not going to play this week,” Harbaugh said. “Any other announcements beyond that, season-wise, a decision has been made, but I don’t think it’s really for me to announce it at this time. We’ll let Eugene or Ozzie [Newsome] announce what the plans are with that.”

Cornerback Jimmy Smith was added to the injury report as a limited participant in Friday’s practice because of a knee issue, but he was designated as probable to play. Nose tackle Brandon Williams (shoulder) and right tackle Rick Wagner (ankle) were also probable after missing practice on Wednesday and being limited the rest of the week.

Meanwhile, Seattle officially ruled out defensive end Demarcus Dobbs (concussion) and declared defensive tackle Jordan Hill (toe) as doubtful to play. Running back Marshawn Lynch (abdomen) was already ruled out for Sunday’s game earlier in the week.

The referee for Sunday’s game is Walt Coleman.

According to Weather.com, the forecast for Sunday calls for mostly cloudy skies with temperatures in the high 60s and winds up to four miles per hour.

Below is the final injury report of the week:

BALTIMORE
OUT: OT Eugene Monroe (shoulder)
DOUBTFUL: WR Marlon Brown (back), TE Crockett Gillmore (back)
QUESTIONABLE: QB Matt Schaub (chest)
PROBABLE: DE Chris Canty (non-injury), LB Elvis Dumervil (non-injury), LB Daryl Smith (non-injury), CB Jimmy Smith (knee), OT Rick Wagner (ankle), DT Brandon Williams (shoulder), TE Maxx Williams (concussion)

SEATTLE
OUT: DE Demarcus Dobbs (concussion), RB Marshawn Lynch (abdomen)
DOUBTFUL: DT Jordan Hill (toe)
PROBABLE: DE Cliff Avril (non-injury), DE Michael Bennett (non-injury)

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Ravens tight end Boyle suspended for rest of 2015 season

Posted on 07 December 2015 by Luke Jones

OWINGS MILLS, Md. — A disappointing first season for the 2015 Ravens draft class took another hit on Monday with fifth-round tight end Nick Boyle being suspended for the remainder of the season.

Boyle was banned four games without pay for violating the NFL’s policy on performance-enhancing substances, meaning his rookie campaign comes to an end after he made 18 catches for 153 yards in 11 games. Known as more of a blocking tight end coming out of the University of Delaware, the 6-foot-4, 260-pound Boyle showed impressive ability as a receiver and even outplayed second-round tight end Maxx Williams for large stretches of their rookie season.

Head coach John Harbaugh was quick to point out that Boyle was not suspended for using a serious performance-enhancing drug like steroids.

“It’s nothing like that. He can confirm what it was,” Harbaugh said. “It’s pretty common — it’s what you read about all the time with guys. I don’t think he realized that it was something he shouldn’t be doing. Or, if he did, he just didn’t think it through. I talked to him and he was just telling me how stupid it was and I agreed — it was pretty dumb. Hopefully, he’ll grow and learn from that.”

Boyle’s suspension leaves the Ravens in a difficult spot at tight end as Williams missed Sunday’s game in Miami with a concussion and second-year starter Crockett Gillmore left the game with a back injury and didn’t return. Baltimore could elect to promote veteran tight end Konrad Reuland from the practice squad to take Boyle’s place on the 53-man roster.

Harbaugh expressed optimism regarding the availability of Williams and Gillmore for Sunday’s meeting with the surging Seattle Seahawks.

“Maxx and Crockett both have a really good chance to play,” said Harbaugh, who added that the Ravens would explore making another addition at the position. “We’ll see how that goes. Maxx tells me he’s playing. He’s going through the concussion protocol, so that’s always going to be something that’s hard to determine, but he’s a guy who’s pretty certain he’s going to play.

“Crockett’s the same way. Crockett’s had a myriad of nicks and bruises and contusions and all those kinds of things like that, and this is another one. It will just be day to day. He will not have to practice to play, for sure. With our situation at tight end, if he can play, he’s going to be out there playing. That’s just the kind of guy he is.”

With so many members of the 2015 draft class failing to contribute in meaningful ways this season, Boyle had been one of the lone highlights. First-round receiver Breshad Perriman suffered an eventual season-ending knee injury on the first day of training camp, Williams has been slow to make a big impact, and third-round defensive tackle Carl Davis has faded after a strong start to his rookie season.

Other than fourth-round running back Buck Allen in recent weeks, Boyle has provided the biggest return among Baltimore’s rookies.

“The shame of it is here’s a guy who’s playing so well,” Harbaugh said. “He’s one of the gems of the draft class in terms of a fifth-round pick playing the way he does. He plays hard. He’s been good in the pass game, good in the run game, smart, tough. He’s got a tremendous future. I told him that today, ‘It’s just a shame you’re going to miss four games here. You’re playing like a veteran out there.’

“He’ll learn from it, he’s smart, and we’ll move forward.”

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Ravens-Browns: Five predictions for Monday night

Posted on 29 November 2015 by Luke Jones

What do two bad teams with headaches at the quarterback position need more than anything?

A national audience for Monday Night Football?

Much to the chagrin of ESPN and NFL executives, the Matt Schaub era begins Monday night with the 3-7 Ravens traveling to Cleveland to take on the 2-8 Browns. It’s never a good thing when a primetime game holds far more draft implications than influences on the playoff race, but head coach John Harbaugh will try to navigate his team to a win in his first-ever regular-season game without Joe Flacco under center.

Of course, Flacco is just one of many injuries that have gutted a team that entered the 2015 season with Super Bowl aspirations. Now, it remains to be seen whether the Ravens will even win another game over their final six weeks.

Meanwhile, the Browns are rested coming off their bye week, but controversy surrounds their football team with the latest off-field concerns leading to second-year quarterback Johnny Manziel being benched.

It’s time to go on the record as the Ravens and Cleveland meet for the 34th time in their regular-season history and the Browns look for their first regular-season sweep of Baltimore since 2007. The Ravens hold a 24-9 advantage in the all-time series and are 11-5 playing in Cleveland.

Here’s what to expect as Baltimore tries to win its second road game of the season …

1. Buck Allen will surpass 135 total yards in his first NFL start. The rookie is the most compelling Ravens player to watch for the remainder of the season, and he’ll be facing the NFL’s 32nd-ranked run defense. Of course, Baltimore is far from 100 percent along its offensive line, and the Browns are likely to use eight men in the box to try to take away the run and force Schaub to make plays through the air. This will keep Allen from piling up huge numbers on the ground, but he’ll be a favorite receiver out of the backfield for his 34-year quarterback making his first start in almost two years.

2. Paul Kruger and Armonty Bryant will combine for three sacks against a battered Baltimore offensive line. As if life wasn’t difficult enough for Schaub without Steve Smith and Justin Forsett, Eugene Monroe and Kelechi Osemele are doubtful to play and James Hurst and Ryan Jensen will be entrusted to protect his blindside. This spells trouble for someone who is already going to be readjusting his live-game clock after minimal playing time over the last two years. For all of the justified complaints about Monroe’s durability, Hurst is a major liability and Flacco paid the price for it last week.

3. Gary Barnidge and Crockett Gillmore will each catch touchdowns for their respective teams. The Browns tight end had eight catches for 139 yards and a touchdown in Cleveland’s Week 5 win over the Ravens and will follow that with another strong performance on Monday. Meanwhile, Gillmore will make the Browns pay for using a strong safety in the box by beating man coverage for a red-zone touchdown. Considering Schaub doesn’t have a particularly strong arm and his receivers have little experience, Gillmore will now become an even bigger part of what the Ravens do through the air.

4. Brent Urban will bat down a pass and collect a tackle in his NFL debut. Not even the Ravens know exactly what to expect from Urban, who has yet to play as much as a preseason game snap in his two years in the NFL. But this is the time for the organization to start to find out about the 2014 fourth-round pick. At 6-foot-7 and 295 pounds, Urban should be an intriguing inside rusher in passing situations and will provide another option at the 5-technique defensive end spot. The Ravens thought enough of Urban to use the designation to return, so it will be interesting to finally watch him play.

5. Josh McCown will outplay Schaub in a listless 20-16 win for Cleveland. Neither of these teams are any good, but you generally side with the team who has the better quarterback and the Ravens likely would have preferred Manziel to start instead of McCown, who threw for over 450 yards in the Week 5 game at M&T Bank Stadium. Unless the Schaub from circa 2010 shows up — not the guy who has struggled mightily since 2013 — the Ravens just aren’t going to be a great bet to beat anyone for the rest of the season. There’s always a very real chance that the Browns self-destruct at a critical point in the game, but the Ravens have been just as guilty of doing that in this nightmare season.

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Zuttah absent, Monroe returns to practice on Wednesday

Posted on 11 November 2015 by Luke Jones

OWINGS MILLS, Md. — Conducting their first full practice since returning from their bye, the Ravens welcomed back a starting member of their offensive line while being without another.

Left tackle Eugene Monroe (shoulder) was a full participant in Wednesday’s workout, but center Jeremy Zuttah continues to recover from a left shoulder injury suffered in the Week 8 win over San Diego. Monroe had missed the Nov. 1 game against the Chargers, but head coach John Harbaugh had previously expressed optimism that he would return after the bye week.

The Ravens appear optimistic about Zuttah’s chances to be ready for Sunday’s game against Jacksonville.

“We’re anticipating — we’re hoping — that Jeremy will be out later in the week to practice,” Harbaugh said prior to Wednesday’s workout, “but he won’t be out [on the field] today.”

Rookie cornerback Tray Walker (concussion) participated fully in Wednesday’s practice after missing the San Diego game. Though still on injured reserve with the designation to return, defensive end Brent Urban (biceps) also took practiced with his 21-day participation window having opened on Monday.

Wide receiver Breshad Perriman (knee) remains sidelined from practice.

Wednesday also brought the practice debut of former Towson running back Terrance West, who was signed to Baltimore’s practice squad a day earlier. Jettisoned by both Cleveland and Tennessee in the last two months, the Northwestern High grad hopes a return home will be the key to getting his once-promising NFL career back on track.

Harbaugh said he spoke with wide receiver Steve Smith following his successful Achilles tendon surgery in Charlotte, N.C. on Monday.

“He’s in great spirits,” Harbaugh said. “He’s looking forward to the rehab, and he was pretty fired up about the way [the surgery] went.”

Meanwhile, the Jaguars were without two starters during their Wednesday workout as standout second-year receiver Allen Hurns (foot/thigh) and outside linebacker Dan Skuta (groin) were non-participants.

Below is Wednesday’s full injury report:

BALTIMORE
DID NOT PARTICIPATE: WR Breshad Perriman (knee), C Jeremy Zuttah (shoulder)
LIMITED PARTICIPATION: TE Crockett Gillmore (shoulder)
FULL PARTICIPATION: T Eugene Monroe (shoulder), CB Tray Walker (concussion)

JACKSONVILLE
DID NOT PARTICIPATE: DT Michael Bennett (hamstring), DE Chris Clemons (non-injury), WR Allen Hurns (foot/thigh), LB Dan Skuta (groin)
LIMITED PARTICIPATION: WR Marqise Lee (hamstring), S James Sample (shoulder)
FULL PARTICIPATION: G Zane Beadles (knee), RB Toby Gerhart (groin), WR Rashad Greene (thumb), TE Julius Thomas (abdomen)

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Pitta, Ravens make difficult — and right — decision in end

Posted on 11 November 2015 by Luke Jones

OWINGS MILLS, Md. — Dennis Pitta desperately wanted to return to the football field this season.

Still loving the game and feeling a sense of obligation to the Ravens after signing a long-term contract last year, the 30-year-old tight end rehabbed rigorously to return from the second serious hip injury suffered in a 14-month period. But the skilled route-runner known for finding open windows in coverage couldn’t separate from the memory of him collapsing to the ground without being touched after making a simple catch in Cleveland on Sept. 21, 2014.

As difficult as the decision was, he and the Ravens made the right one in the end as he will remain on the reserve physically unable to perform list for the rest of the season.

“Obviously, I’m extremely disappointed that I won’t be out there this season,” Pitta said. “It’s something that I’ve been working hard to be able to do. I’ll continue to rehab and do everything I can to make sure I’m healthy and put myself in the best position that I can.”

His disappointment is understandable after playing in just seven games since dislocating and fracturing his right hip the first time in practice on July 27, 2013. Pitta returned to play in the final four games of that season, catching 20 passes for 169 yards and a touchdown.

The healthy return prompted general manager Ozzie Newsome to sign the 2010 fourth-round pick to a five-year, $32 million contract that included $16 million guaranteed. But Pitta injured his hip a second time in Week 3 of the 2014 season and hasn’t played since.

Returning to practice last month after beginning the season on the PUP list, the Brigham Young product acknowledged hearing conflicting opinions from those close to him — including his concerned wife, Mataya —  about whether he should resume his playing career. According to head coach John Harbaugh and teammates, Pitta looked like his old self making plays against the Baltimore defense in practices, but the stability of a twice-repaired hip wouldn’t allow his safe return at this time.

“It didn’t quite respond the way we had hoped,” said Pitta, who added that there were things on and off the field that weren’t “quite right” with the hip. “Sitting down with doctors over the last couple of days, we decided that it was certainly too much of a risk at this time and too unsafe to take the field. That was a decision that we made collectively.

“At the end of the day, we can’t ignore what sound medical science has to say.”

Pitta said Wednesday that he still hopes to continue his career and isn’t yet ready to announce his retirement, but it’s difficult envisioning what would change doctors’ minds next season after he’s already spent 14 months rehabbing from the second injury. Whether the Ravens will keep Pitta on the roster to find out is another story as his guaranteed $5 million salary for 2015 made it a no-brainer for both sides to explore his potential return this season.

Next year, his $5 million salary is not guaranteed and Pitta is scheduled to carry a $7.2 million salary cap figure. Cutting him in the offseason — possibly with a post-June 1 designation — would save cap space and not leave the Ravens on the hook for his 2016 salary in the event of another injury.

Having drafted two rookie tight ends — Maxx Williams and Nick Boyle — this spring after selecting Crockett Gillmore last year, the the organization prepared this offseason as though Pitta would not be able to return to the field.

Even so, the layers of frustration are apparent for both Pitta and the Ravens in the midst of a 2-6 season.

“It’s been kind of a roller-coaster ride,” said Harbaugh, recalling the memories of both injuries. “You have hopes. I was hoping that he’d be able to play. To see him come out here and perform well [in practices], that part of it was a plus. But the other thing that overrides all of that is the fact that you want what’s best for the player. His safety and going forward as far as his quality of life overrides all of it.”

In parts of five seasons in Baltimore, Pitta has caught 138 passes for 1,369 yards and 11 touchdowns. The 6-foot-4, 245-pound tight end added three more touchdown catches in the 2012 postseason run that culminated with a win in Super Bowl XLVII in New Orleans, a game in which he caught four passes for 26 yards and a 1-yard touchdown.

No one will ever forget Jacoby Jones’ 70-yard touchdown catch in the divisional-round game in Denver that January, but that game-tying play still may not have mattered if not for Pitta’s catch on third-and-13 from the Ravens’ own 3 in the first overtime period. Baltimore didn’t score on that drive, but the 24-yard reception flipped field position and allowed Sam Koch to eventually punt the ball deep into Denver territory instead of being forced to kick from deep in his own end zone and potentially set the Broncos offense up on a short field.

That critical conversion is easily one of the most underrated plays in franchise history and likely allowed the run to an eventual championship to continue. The spectacular pitch and catch epitomized quarterback Joe Flacco’s trust in his close friend and teammate on the field.

“It’s great to have a guy that you know you can go to and you know what he’s going to do,” Flacco said. “He’s going to be in the right spot, he’s going to win, and he’s going to catch the ball at the end of the day. To have a guy like that on the field with you, it makes your job a little bit easier. He was definitely a big part of that.”

Pitta said Wednesday that he doesn’t want his final play in the NFL to be the one in Cleveland that resulted in him being carted off the field. The Ravens didn’t want that, either.

But both made the right decision not to take the risk of that happening again.

Even if it marks the end of Pitta’s career with the Ravens.

“I’ll continue to work,” Pitta said, “and hopefully that won’t be the end of the story.”

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