Tag Archive | "Dannell Ellerbe"

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Status of rookie running back Pierce a mystery for Tuesday’s practice

Posted on 08 January 2013 by Luke Jones

OWINGS MILLS, Md. — Following a 103-yard rushing performance in the Ravens’ 24-9 wild-card playoff win over the Indianapolis Colts, running back Bernard Pierce did not appear to be taking part in Tuesday’s indoor practice.

The rookie was on the field without a helmet during the portion of practice open to the media. Despite playing at an exceptional level against Indianapolis, Pierce practiced on a limited basis all last week with an ankle injury.

Left guard Jah Reid (toe) was not present during the media viewing portion of practice as it appears his status will remain in doubt for Saturday’s game against the Denver Broncos. In Reid’s absence, the Ravens made the long-awaited decision to insert Bryant McKinnie at left tackle, move rookie Kelechi Osemele to left guard, and slide Michael Oher to the right tackle position.

Baltimore limited the Colts to just one sack and two quarterback hits, but the offensive line will face an even bigger challenge this week against pass rushers Von Miller and Elvis Dumervil, who were the most prolific sack tandem in the NFL with a combined 29 1/2 quarterback drops this season.

Linebacker Dannell Ellerbe was present and working during Tuesday’s practice after leaving Sunday’s game with a sprained ankle.

The Ravens did not release an official injury report following the workout but will release reports on Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday.

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Pierce’s physical style ideal fit for January football

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Pierce’s physical style ideal fit for January football

Posted on 07 January 2013 by Luke Jones

OWINGS MILLS, Md. — The Ravens pride themselves on being built for December and January when the elements sour and teams must rely more heavily on their running game.

But they may not have anticipated rookie running back Bernard Pierce carrying such a substantial workload as the third-round pick from Temple starred in Sunday’s wild-card playoff win over the Indianapolis Colts. Pierce ran for 103 yards on 13 carries with 43 yards coming on one fourth-quarter run to set the Ravens up in the red zone before scoring their final touchdown.

According to Pro Football Focus, the rookie broke five tackles to average 3.77 yards after contact per attempt. In contrast, Pro Bowl running back Ray Rice gained 70 yards on 15 carries but broke only two tackles and gained 2.47 yards after contact per attempt.

However, the 22-year-old understudy remains grounded over his increasing role within the offense despite leading the Ravens in rushing in each of the last three games.

“Maybe two games — Ray didn’t play [much against Cincinnati in Week 17],” Pierce said. “But it’s a definite confidence booster, because I just want to be able to keep getting better week in and week out, and I’ve proven that to myself and everybody else.”

In wins over the New York Giants in Week 16 and Indianapolis on Sunday, the Ravens have used the running game to wear down the opposing front seven, with Pierce playing a major role in doing so. In his last five games, Pierce has rushed for 388 yards on 62 attempts, which is good for just under 6.3 yards per carry.

Over that same stretch, Rice has gained 341 yards on 74 carries, averaging 4.6 yards per attempt.

“We think we have two good guys that can play,” coach John Harbaugh said. “We like both of those guys in that situation. Bernard has earned the right to be in on those kind of situations. I like both of our backs a lot.”

While no one should question Rice’s standing in the offense, Pierce’s physical nature appears to be paying dividends against opposing fronts. Rice will continue to see plenty of touches both as a runner and as a receiver out of the backfield, but Pierce has shown the type of vision and power to warrant a heavy workload through the remainder of the postseason.

And with the thin air and cold temperature of Denver playing major roles in Saturday’s divisional meeting with the Denver Broncos, the Ravens will likely use a similar plan to the one used against the Giants and Colts when Rice and Pierce shared carries more evenly.

“The fact that the altitude is probably going to be a factor as far as guys who are carrying the ball getting gassed, those two guys are going to take care of each other,” Harbaugh said. “That’s something we’ve been building on.”

Mile High state of mind

Traveling to Denver for the first time in the Harbaugh era, the Ravens have examined every possibility in order to offset the challenge of playing at such a high altitude.

Unlike a regular West Coast trip when teams typically leave a day earlier than a normal trip, the Ravens will depart for Denver the evening before the game. Some studies indicate the human body typically has a 24-hour period before diving into an adaptation mode, which includes a thickening of the blood. Adjusting to a higher altitude typically takes three weeks or more, so leaving a day earlier than normal wouldn’t figure to offer any notable benefit, especially when it’s a shorter week to begin with.

“We have a plan for that. We’re going to go out there the night before,” Harbaugh said. “We feel like that’s the best way to do to try to stay within a 24-hour window in the altitude. We’ve got some other advice for our guys in order to take care of their bodies out there and be ready to go.”

There are only so many measures teams can take, but optimum conditioning will play a major role in dealing with the thin air at Sports Authority Field at Mile High.

“I think our team is in very good shape,” Harbaugh said. “I think we’re physically going to be able to handle it.”

Infirmary report

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Our Ravens/Colts “Pats on the Ass”

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Our Ravens/Colts “Pats on the Ass”

Posted on 06 January 2013 by Glenn Clark

After every Baltimore Ravens victory, Ryan Chell and I take to the airwaves on “The Nasty Purple Postgame Show” on AM1570 WNST.net to offer “Pats on the Ass” to players who have done something to deserve the honor.

We give pats to two defensive players, two offensive players and one “Wild Card”-either another offensive or defensive player, a Special Teams player or a coach. We offer a “Pat on Both Cheeks” to someone who stands out, our version of a “Player of the Game.” Ryan and I select five different players/coaches each.

Here are our “Pats on the Ass” following the Ravens’ 24-9 win over Indianapolis Colts in an AFC Wild Card playoff Sunday at M&T Bank Stadium…

Glenn Clark’s Pats…

5. Ray Lewis

4. Haloti Ngata

3. Vonta Leach

2. Bernard Pierce

1. Anquan Boldin (Pat on Both Cheeks)

(Ryan’s Pats on Page 2…)

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Pees says Lewis “going to play” Sunday, but how much remains to be seen

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Pees says Lewis “going to play” Sunday, but how much remains to be seen

Posted on 03 January 2013 by Luke Jones

OWINGS MILLS, Md. — It’s all but confirmed that Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis will make his return to the field for the first round of the playoffs against the Indianapolis Colts on Sunday, but trying to project the role he’ll play remains a bit of a mystery.

Only 11 weeks removed from surgery to repair a torn right triceps suffered against the Dallas Cowboys on Oct. 14, Lewis has accelerated a recovery process that typically takes a minimum of four months. Of course, his announcement Wednesday stating his intention to retire after the season further complicated how defensive coordinator Dean Pees might like to handle his workload in his first game since Week 6.

“I can’t be real specific on how or what he is going to be doing other than the fact that we are more than happy to have him back and just having him out there on the field is an inspiration,” Pees said. “I don’t know how else to explain it other than — he’s going to play.”

Lewis is expected to start next to fellow inside linebacker Dannell Ellerbe, but how the 37-year-old will handle blockers and full contact remains to be seen. The Ravens haven’t practiced in full pads since earlier in the season and Lewis was limited in his first few weeks since returning to practice on Dec. 5.

It’s possible that Pees and the Ravens will handle Lewis in a similar manner to how they re-acclimated linebacker Terrell Suggs when he returned from an Achilles tendon injury earlier this season. Suggs played just over 50 percent of the defensive snaps against the Houston Texans on Oct. 21 and took several series off during the course of the game.

Young linebacker Josh Bynes, who made three starts with Lewis, Ellerbe, and Jameel McClain all missing time over the last six weeks, will be ready to spell Lewis if needed. However, it’s difficult to envision the veteran asking out of the game knowing it will likely be his final game in Baltimore — or even of his career.

“I don’t think the people that I work with would tell me no [on] Sunday,” Lewis said. “We’ve got a great relationship with each other that I trust them, and they trust me. I’ve worked my butt off to get to this point. There is no reason for me not to be playing on Sunday.”

Crunch time for Flacco

The common theme that emerged following the firing of offensive coordinator Cam Cameron on Dec. 10 was the need for quarterback Joe Flacco to finish strong over the final weeks of the season before his rookie contract expires.

The Ravens hope Flacco’s performance against the New York Giants in Week 16 is a harbinger of strong performances to come in the postseason. And the quarterback would improve his chances of securing the type of long-term deal he prefers with a deep run through the month of January.

If Baltimore is unable to come to an agreement with Flacco and agent Joe Linta, the organization would be faced with allowing the 27-year-old to hit free agency or using the franchise tag, which is projected to be $14.6 million in 2013. Flacco dismissed the notion of contract negotiations being a major motivator for him to perform well in his fifth trip to the postseason in five years.

“I go out there, and I play football,” Flacco said. “You try to lead this team to victories. That’s what we are trying to do right now. That’s all I’m concerned about is making a playoff run and making the Super Bowl. All that other stuff will take care of itself.”

Flacco appeared to take a quantum leap forward in outperforming New England’s Tom Brady in last season’s AFC Championship game, but his play was as schizophrenic as ever in comparing how he fared at home and on the road during the regular season. He threw 15 touchdowns and five interceptions for a 99.0 passer rating in eight home contests, but Flacco passed for only seven touchdowns to go along with five interceptions and a 74.9 rating on the road.

Those numbers won’t be on his mind starting Sunday when he begins the journey to try to lead the Ravens a step further than he did a year ago. What bearing that has on a new contract remains to be seen.

“Whatever happens, happens,” Flacco said. “It’s not really that big of a deal at the end of the day.”

Flacco better hope it is — for his own sake — as he plays out the final days of his rookie contract.

Ellerbe’s future with Lewis exiting

With Lewis walking away from the game after the season, the Ravens would presumably turn to Ellerbe to take his place — at least in the short-term future — next to McClain at the inside linebacker position.

However, the Ravens will need to re-sign the fourth-year linebacker, who will become an unrestricted free agent after the season. Lewis’ retirement will clear approximately $4.4 million from the projected 2013 salary cap, but it will be interesting to see how much Ellerbe will command in the open market.

“I love Baltimore. I started my career here, I’d love to finish it here,” Ellerbe said. “It’s a business, so it’s not up to me. If it was up to me, I’d be here.”

Possessing better coverage skills than McClain, who inked a three-year, $10.5 million deal to remain in Baltimore after lukewarm interest last offseason, Ellerbe would likely be more appealing to other teams, but his injury history will likely be a factor in keeping his price tag at a reasonable level.

The University of Georgia product missed three straight games with an ankle injury last month and missed seven games with groin and hamstring injuries last season.

In 13 games this season, Ellerbe finished second on the team with 98 tackles and collected 4 1/2 sacks as an effective blitzer from the inside linebacker position.

 

 

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Unlikely events led to new destinations for Pagano, Caldwell

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Unlikely events led to new destinations for Pagano, Caldwell

Posted on 03 January 2013 by Luke Jones

OWINGS MILLS, Md. — As much as Lee Evans’ failed effort to catch the game-winning touchdown and Billy Cundiff’s subsequent missed field goal broke the hearts of the Ravens and their fans in last year’s AFC Championship, the pair of unfortunate events created a unique opportunity for one member of the organization.

The chance to become the head coach of the Indianapolis Colts may not have come for Chuck Pagano had the Ravens advanced to the Super Bowl. The former defensive coordinator departed Baltimore on the day following the conference championship game and never looked back as he was hired to replace Jim Caldwell, who is now the offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach of the Ravens. The Colts may not have waited an additional two weeks to talk to Pagano had Evans made that catch or Cundiff converted the 32-yard field goal and the Ravens prevailed in overtime.

Having defeated leukemia before retaking his place on the sideline last Sunday, Pagano now brings his Colts to Baltimore for Sunday’s wild-card playoff game, knowing he might still be in Baltimore if not for the failures of two former players.

“We had the catch we thought that was a touchdown and then [Cundiff] runs off and pulls that one,” Pagano said. “There’s a lot of things that transpired through the course of the end of that football game that you look at and say, ‘Yeah we make that catch and score that touchdown or make that kick and go to overtime and win that football game and you don’t have an opportunity to visit with somebody about a job.’ It’s funny how things happen.”

Caldwell could say the same about his final year in Indianapolis after he saw his longtime quarterback Peyton Manning miss the entire 2011 season after undergoing several neck surgeries. The current Denver Broncos signal-caller had never missed a game prior to that point in his first 13 NFL seasons.

Left without a viable quarterback, Indianapolis went an abysmal 2-14 and Caldwell was fired after his third season as head coach of the Colts. A few months later, the organization drafted rookie quarterback Andrew Lucky and began a turnaround that left them with an 11-5 record and a trip to M&T Bank Stadium on Sunday.

A year later, does Caldwell wonder what would have happened had Manning not been injured or if Indianapolis had stuck with him another year with the veteran quarterback departing and Luck joining the fray?

“It doesn’t even cross my mind — not one second,” said Caldwell, who was promoted to offensive coordinator following the firing of Cam Cameron on Dec. 10. “I think for the most part, I believe that the good Lord has a plan for us. Often times, it’s not as picturesque as we might like it. It may not unfold exactly the way that we had it planned, but it unfolded in [the way] He wanted it.”

The feelings toward Pagano are conflicted this week as he brings the Colts to M&T Bank Stadium to face the Ravens in the postseason for the third time — and second in Baltimore — in the last seven seasons. It’s in a Baltimorean’s DNA to hate the Indianapolis Colts for obvious reasons, but Pagano’s inspiring story makes that more and more difficult every day.

His courageous fight against leukemia inspired not only his own team but also players in the Ravens locker room, including a defensive line that shaved their heads and facial hair in support of the former coordinator. Veteran Ray Lewis estimated that he exchanged text messages with Pagano “every other day” as the linebacker rehabbed his surgically-repaired triceps and the coach underwent cancer treatments during the regular season.

There are nothing but positive memories for Pagano, who spent four seasons as a member of Harbaugh’s coaching staff in Baltimore.

“[I] love all those guys. [I have] great relationships with so many people in that organization,” Pagano said. “They were so good to me and my family. I wouldn’t be sitting where I’m at today if John Harbaugh hadn’t given me the opportunity to join him when he was first hired as a head football coach there.”

The Baltimore defense received extra motivation with the expected return to action but unexpected retirement announcement of Lewis earlier this week, but many players were already eager to show Pagano what his former unit was still capable of doing. Despite struggling for most of the season, an improving Baltimore defense finished 17th in yards allowed and tied for 12th in points allowed despite a plethora of injuries.

The admiration is still there almost a year after Pagano last coached the prideful group.

“It’ll be great; Chuck is a motivation to all of us with all he went through,” linebacker Dannell Ellerbe said. “Just to know a person that strong says a lot. Chuck always shot you straight. He was great in the meeting rooms. He was never one of those coaches to [get] down his players or cuss them out. He’s a very likable guy.”

Not to be outdone, Caldwell acknowledges it will be different coaching against the team with which he spent a decade, but the Ravens offensive coordinator denied any chance of it impacting his performance on Sunday. With a new coaching staff in place in Indianapolis, Caldwell hardly recognizes what new coordinator Bruce Arians has done with the offense and Pagano has implemented a defense similar to what he did with the Ravens.

It’s a battle both men are looking forward to as they now look on from the opposite side.

“It’s ironic that we get an opportunity to play against them, which is going to be a lot of fun,” Caldwell said. “You have two teams with great desire. Chuck probably feels the same way on the other side of it. It’s going to be fun.”

Both can look back on the ironic events of last season to explain where they are today.

 

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Pollard, Boldin practice as Ravens prepare for regular-season finale

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Pollard, Boldin practice as Ravens prepare for regular-season finale

Posted on 26 December 2012 by Luke Jones

OWINGS MILLS, Md. — The Ravens began preparations for their regular-season finale against the Cincinnati Bengals with an improved attendance sheet for Wednesday’s practice.

Safety Bernard Pollard (ribs) and wide receiver Anquan Boldin were present and working during the portion of practice open to media. Boldin bruised his shoulder in the Ravens’ 33-14 win over the New York Giants this past Sunday while Pollard had been sidelined since re-injuring his ribs against the Washington Redskins on Dec. 9.

“Bernard went through the full practice, so he was a full participant in practice,” coach John Harbaugh said. “That was great to see. Obviously, going forward, he’s a big, big part of what we’re doing [and] a big part of our defense.”

Wide receiver Tandon Doss (ankle) and linebacker Albert McClellan also returned to the practice field after both missed Sunday’s game against the Giants. Both players were designated as limited participants.

The only players not practicing for the Ravens were right guard Marshal Yanda (ankle) and defensive tackle Haloti Ngata, who were both absent during the first 25 minutes of practice when media were able to watch. Yanda returned to action against the Giants after missing the Ravens’ Week 15 game against Denver due to a sprained ankle.

Ngata hadn’t been listed on the injury report since Week 12 when the Ravens traveled to San Diego. The Pro Bowl defensive lineman has dealt with knee and shoulder injuries for most of the season.

In his first practice since being placed back on the 53-man roster, linebacker Ray Lewis was listed as a full participant. He wasn’t required to be included in the injury report prior to Wednesday’s roster move.

Meanwhile, the Bengals are dealing with a banged-up secondary as cornerbacks Terence Newman, Adam Jones, and Jason Allen as well as safety Reggie Nelson all practiced on a limited basis.

BALTIMORE
DID NOT PARTICIPATE: DT Haloti Ngata (knee), G Marshal Yanda (shoulder/knee)
LIMITED PARTICIPATION: WR Anquan Boldin (shoulder), WR Tandon Doss (ankle), DE Arthur Jones (thigh), FB Vonta Leach (ankle), LB Albert McClellan (shoulder/thigh)
FULL PARTICIPATION: LB Dannell Ellerbe (ankle), WR Jacoby Jones (ankle), LB Ray Lewis (triceps), DE Pernell McPhee (thigh), TE Dennis Pitta (knee), S Bernard Pollard (chest), S Ed Reed (shoulder), CB Jimmy Smith (abdomen), LB Terrell Suggs (biceps)

CINCINNATI
LIMITED PARTICIPATION: CB Jason Allen (hamstring), CB Adam Jones (hamstring), S Reggie Nelson (shoulder), CB Terence Newman (hamstring)
FULL PARTICIPATION: K Mike Nugent (right calf)

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Ravens-Giants: Five predictions for Sunday

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Ravens-Giants: Five predictions for Sunday

Posted on 22 December 2012 by Luke Jones

Two teams each going in the wrong direction in recent weeks will clash at M&T Bank Stadium on Sunday as the Ravens take on the New York Giants for the fourth time in their regular-season history.

Mired in a three-game losing streak and needing a win to clinch their second straight AFC North title, Baltimore takes on the 8-6 Giants, who are in need of two wins in their final two games to have the opportunity to defend their Super Bowl title in January. Having lost four of the last six games it’s played, New York has been even more inconsistent than the Ravens this season, looking like arguably the best team in the NFL in dominating wins over San Francisco and Green Bay and turning in terrible road performances at Cincinnati and Atlanta.

The Ravens hold a 2-1 all-time record over New York in the regular season and, of course, own a victory in the only postseason meeting between the teams, which occurred in Super Bowl XXXV on Jan. 28, 2001.

Here’s what to expect as the Ravens will look to finally lock up the division title and secure a home playoff game after failing to do so the last few weeks …

1. Ray Lewis will not play against the Giants, but the returning Dannell Ellerbe will pay dividends for the Baltimore run defense, which will hold New York to less than 110 rushing yards. Maligned all season despite allowing the ninth-lowest yards per carry average (4.1) in the NFL, the rush defense has struggled immensely in the last two weeks as Washington and Denver have run all over the Ravens. The Giants rank 15th in rush offense, but the shifty Ahmad Bradshaw has been hampered by knee and foot injuries. Ellerbe is expected to be a game-time decision, but he practiced all week on a limited basis and the Ravens didn’t promote inside linebacker Nigel Carr from the practice squad to take injured Jameel McClain’s place on the 53-man roster, an indication that they may feel confident in Ellerbe’s status against the Giants. The fourth-year linebacker ranks third on the team with 78 tackles despite beginning the season in a reserve role and missing the last three games with an ankle injury. His presence will help in slowing the Giants’ rushing attack.

2. Giants tight end Martellus Bennett will catch a touchdown and produce 75 receiving yards against the Baltimore pass defense. The Ravens’ struggles against tight ends have been overblown this season as Brent Celek, Jason Witten, and Heath Miller are the only three opponents to have more than 60 receiving yards in a game from that position. However, the middle of the field has been vulnerable and the Giants have been happy with their return for Bennett, who has 50 receptions for 584 yards and five touchdowns in his first season in New York. Ellerbe is regarded as the Ravens’ best linebacker in pass coverage, but he would be playing at less than 100 percent and has struggled to use the backpedal. Baltimore linebackers take too many false steps to account for the run and don’t get enough depth in coverage, which will lead to the talented Bennett getting open in the intermediate portion of the field as the Ravens secondary is focused on stopping Hakeem Nicks, Victor Cruz, and Domenik Hixon in the passing game.

3. Ray Rice will collect only his fourth 100-yard rushing game of the season. With Joe Flacco and the offense sputtering in recent weeks, new offensive coordinator Jim Caldwell must rely on his unit’s biggest strength and that’s Rice. Though on pace for his lowest rushing total since his rookie year, Rice’s 4.5 yards per carry average doesn’t reflect a poor season, but his 263 projected carries would be his lowest amount since 2009. Marshal Yanda’s expected return will allow the Ravens to run effectively to the right side as they normally like to do, and the Giants have allowed 4.6 yards per carry, which is 26th in the NFL. New York’s front seven is filled with plenty of big names, but the group hasn’t performed well this season and Rice will receive plenty of opportunities as the Ravens try to control the tempo of the game. The uncertain status of rookie Bernard Pierce will likely force the Ravens to rely more heavily on Rice than normal, which won’t necessarily be a bad thing as they need production from their best offensive player.

4. The Giants’ play action coupled with the the Ravens’ ineffective pass rush and undisciplined secondary will lead to a long touchdown to Victor Cruz. Paul Kruger and Arthur Jones have been the only consistent contributors to the pass rush in recent weeks, but the biceps injury to Terrell Suggs now makes you wonder if teams will begin turning more attention toward Kruger as they did early in the season when he rarely was able to make an impact. New York has allowed just 16 sacks all season, so it’s difficult to envision the Ravens putting much heat on Eli Manning. The Giants quarterback loves using play-action passing, and the Ravens secondary has been burned all season due to miscommunication and biting on double moves. Cruz leads the Giants with 79 catches, 1,019 receiving yards, and nine touchdowns. He’ll add a 10th to those totals on Sunday to bounce back from his poor performance in Atlanta last week.

5. I trust Manning more than Flacco and the Ravens offense, and it will be the difference in a 27-21 win for the Giants. Both teams have flaws on each side of the football, but it’s difficult to overlook Flacco’s six turnovers in the last three games. Manning has been inconsistent as well and has similar season totals to the Baltimore quarterback, but his pedigree and track record for playing well when his back is against the wall should give the Giants confidence in these final two games. Flacco was playing exceptionally well at home this season until the last two contests at M&T Bank Stadium when he posted absolute duds. The Giants will be a desperate football team after being thoroughly embarrassed in Atlanta last week, and I can’t bet against a two-time Super Bowl Most Valuable Player. It will be the difference in Sunday’s game as I just can’t put any faith in Flacco, Caldwell, and the Ravens offense at this point. The group lacks confidence and won’t do enough to overcome a banged-up defense and an opponent needing a win even more than they do.

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Report: Lewis not expected to return prior to playoffs

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Report: Lewis not expected to return prior to playoffs

Posted on 22 December 2012 by Luke Jones

Less than 10 weeks after undergoing surgery to repair the torn triceps in his right arm, Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis appeared poised to make his improbable return to the field against the New York Giants on Sunday.

Instead, his comeback will apparently be delayed for a couple more weeks.

Ian Rapoport of NFL Network reported early Saturday afternoon that Lewis is not expected to return until the playoffs despite growing optimism this week that the 37-year-old linebacker would play in the regular-season home finale.

Baltimore would have needed to activate Lewis from the injured reserve-designated to return list on Saturday afternoon for him to  play in his first game since Oct. 14 when he suffered the injury to his right upper arm against the Dallas Cowboys. Originally declared to be lost for the season by coach John Harbaugh, Lewis was placed on IR with this season’s new designation to return after a minimum of eight weeks.

At the time, many assumed the Ravens were simply granting Lewis a courtesy as most medical experts declared a minimum of four months for a recovery from such a serious procedure. However, the 13-time Pro Bowl selection returned to practice on Dec. 5, which was far ahead of even the most optimistic timetables suggesting Lewis could return for a postseason run.

With three weeks of practice now under his belt and fellow inside linebacker Jameel McClain sidelined for the rest of the season to open up a spot on the 53-man roster, Lewis hoped to come out of the tunnel to do his famous dance Sunday afternoon as the Ravens introduced the starting defense. The veteran’s spirits appeared to be higher this week and he spent more time in the locker room, two

“The guy’s still in great shape. The guy doesn’t look like he missed a day of practice,” said defensive lineman Arthur Jones, who added that Lewis has spent extra time with him to help him with his conditioning and the mental aspects of the game. “This is a guy who’s a great leader and is passionate and is an emotional leader. We love having him out there.”

With Lewis already practicing, the Ravens will face a decision this week with the 21-day window after his beginning practice date closing. They would have to place him on the 53-man roster or he’d remain on IR for the remainder of the year.

Ravaged by injuries at linebacker, the Ravens have relied on the combination of former practice squad members Josh Bynes and Albert McClellan as well as special-teams standout Brendon Ayanbadejo in recent weeks to hold down the inside linebacker positions in the absence of Lewis, McClain, and Dannell Ellerbe. The Baltimore run defense ranks 26th in the league, and opposing offenses have had success throwing over the middle of the field as linebackers have struggled in coverage.

Even as his eventual return will be celebrated by many longtime Ravens fans, the question remains how effective Lewis can be in the postseason as he continues to build strength in his right upper arm, which understandably experienced atrophy after the surgical procedure.

“Ray’s looked great. It’s his triceps, so he’s going to be able to move around and look like Ray Lewis,” said Ellerbe following Friday’s practice. “We haven’t had any full-speed practices, so you can’t tell how his arm is when tackling and getting off blocks. But shape-wise, he’s in shape. If he could go right now, I feel he would go.”

Though only playing in six games, Lewis ranks fifth on the team with 57 tackles. However, he struggled to shed blockers early in the season and has shown declining ability in pass coverage over the last few seasons, making his accelerated return an uncertain one in terms of what exactly the Ravens will be getting from the future Hall of Fame linebacker when he’s back on the field.

With the Ravens needing a win to clinch the AFC North and a home playoff game, there’s no guarantee that Lewis will play another game in Baltimore since his future with the organization remains in some doubt.

Plenty of rumors have circulated about whether Lewis will retire after the season and he carries a $7.2 million salary cap number in 2013, which is a hefty figure for what would be a 38-year-old linebacker. The team would be forgiven from paying his $5.4 million base salary in 2013 should they release him and would save approximately $4.35 million on their 2013 cap when subtracting the accelerated bonus money that would count as dead weight against the cap.

Regardless of what happens after this season, Lewis’ return — whenever it occurs — will be a welcome sight for a team suffering a three-game losing streak late in the season and needing a spark. The defensive help wouldn’t hurt, either.

“I’d love to have him,” defensive coordinator Dean Pees said. “I think it would be a great emotional lift, but more than that, we could use some bodies in there at linebacker.”

It appears the Ravens will need to wait a couple more weeks for that to become a possibility.

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Suggs participates fully during Thursday’s practice

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Suggs participates fully during Thursday’s practice

Posted on 13 December 2012 by Luke Jones

OWINGS MILLS, Md. — An extensive list of injury concerns appeared to improve for the Ravens on Thursday as Pro Bowl linebacker Terrell Suggs practiced full for the first time since suffering a torn biceps on Dec. 2.

Defensive coordinator Dean Pees expressed optimism over how Suggs has looked in practices but did not address whether the 2011 Defensive Player of the Year would be returning to game action this week after he sat out the Ravens’ 31-28 loss to Washington last Sunday. Suggs suffered the right arm injury in the home loss to Pittsburgh two weeks ago.

The five-time Pro Bowl linebacker cited the wet conditions at FedEx Field and the option running game as reasons why he and coach John Harbaugh decided he wouldn’t play last week.

“It was a must-win game. There was just too much on the line to chance it, especially with my arm,” said Suggs, who described himself as a game-time decision for the second straight week. “I thought I would hinder the team by playing last week. It feels good this week, and we’ll just have to see come Sunday.”

Linebackers Ray Lewis and Dannell Ellerbe and defensive lineman Arthur Jones were all present and participating during Thursday’s workout.

Jones (shoulder) and Ellerbe (ankle) did not participate in Wednesday’s practice while Lewis wasn’t present during the portion of practice viewed by media members. Because he is not on the 53-man roster and remains on injured reserve with the designation to return, Lewis is not required to be listed on the injury report.

Ellerbe hasn’t played in the Ravens’ last two games since suffering an ankle injury in Week 12 while Lewis has been sidelined since tearing his right triceps against the Dallas Cowboys on Oct. 14. The 37-year-old Lewis is eligible to play in Sunday’s game against the Denver Broncos, and several reports have said Lewis is targeting a return this week, which would be just over eight weeks removed from surgery.

“That’s totally up to the trainers, John [Harbaugh], and the organization,” Pees said. “Whoever is out there is who we coach up. Whoever shows up on Sunday is who we’re going to coach up. As coaches, we’re out of the loop.”

The Ravens were still without right guard Marshal Yanda (ankle), fullback Vonta Leach (ankle), defensive end Pernell McPhee (chest), and safety Bernard Pollard (chest), who were all absent from practice for the second straight day.

Tight end Ed Dickson (knee) was again practicing on Thursday after working on a limited basis a day earlier. Dickson injured his knee against the San Diego Chargers and has been sidelined for each of the last two games.

Cornerback Jimmy Smith was practicing again on Thursday and was listed as a full participant for the second straight day, which is a good indication that he’s on track to make his return after missing the last five games. The 2011 first-round pick underwent sports hernia surgery on Nov. 15.

Linebacker Jameel McClain (neck) wasn’t present for Thursday’s workout and has already been ruled out for Sunday’s game.

In stark contrast to the Ravens’ infirmary list, the Broncos once again had a favorable injury report as no players from their 53-man roster were listed as non-participants.

BALTIMORE
OUT: LB Jameel McClain (neck)
DID NOT PARTICIPATE: FB Vonta Leach (ankle), DE Pernell McPhee (thigh), S Bernard Pollard (chest), G Marshal Yanda (ankle)
LIMITED PARTICIPATION: LB Dannell Ellerbe (ankle), DT Arthur Jones (shoulder), TE Ed Dickson (knee), RB Bernard Pierce (back), RB Ray Rice (hip)
FULL PARTICIPATION: CB Chykie Brown (knee), WR Jacoby Jones (ankle), S Ed Reed (shoulder), CB Jimmy Smith (abdomen), WR Deonte Thompson (thigh), LB Terrell Suggs (biceps), WR LaQuan Williams (thigh)

DENVER
LIMITED PARTICIPATION: G Chris Kuper (ankle), LB Wesley Woodyard (ankle)
FULL PARTICIPATION: WR Trindon Holliday (knee), WR Demaryius Thomas (shoulder), WR Matthew Willis (knee)

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Yanda headlines extensive list of injury concerns heading into Week 15

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Yanda headlines extensive list of injury concerns heading into Week 15

Posted on 10 December 2012 by Luke Jones

OWINGS MILLS, Md. — Turning a new page with the dismissal of Cam Cameron and the promotion of Jim Caldwell to the offensive coordinator position, the Ravens now redirect their attention to an extensive list of health concerns heading into a Week 15 meeting with the red-hot Denver Broncos.

Linebacker Terrell Suggs’ status continues to be a major question mark, but the Ravens added another marquee name to the list of walking wounded after Pro Bowl right guard Marshal Yanda suffered a sprained ankle in the opening series of overtime in Baltimore’s 31-28 loss to the Redskins. The sixth-year lineman left the locker room on crutches but was able to put weight on the injured ankle before he was fitted with a walking boot.

Coach John Harbaugh expressed concern over Yanda’s status moving forward as the offensive lineman will undergo further testing this week. Veteran Bobbie Williams would presumably take over at the right guard position should Yanda miss any game action.

“We’ll continue to have [his ankle] evaluated, and we’ll let you know later in the week — once he gets an MRI on that — exactly how serious that is,” Harbaugh said. “But, it seems like a somewhat serious ankle sprain, but it is not an ankle break in any way.”

Suggs missed his first game since suffering a torn right biceps in the Ravens’ Week 13 loss to Pittsburgh as he was deemed unready to play against Washington. The 30-year-old linebacker has vowed to play again this season and avoid injured reserve, but he has also acknowledged his need to be effective in addition to questions over how much pain he can tolerate.

The rainy conditions at FedEx Field also contributed to the decision for Suggs to sit out, according to the head coach. Harbaugh said the Pro Bowl linebacker has a “good chance” to play against the Broncos after missing his seventh game of the season on Sunday.

“He was close. That was a decision right before the game that was made between he and I,” Harbaugh said. “We just decided the conditions and those kinds of things, it was better for him safety-wise to not play in that game.”

The Ravens could also see the return of inside linebacker Ray Lewis, who began practicing last week and is now eligible to be activated from injured reserve after making a remarkable recovery from right triceps surgery. Lewis suffered the tear in the Ravens’ win over the Dallas Cowboys on Oct. 14 and was placed on IR with the designation to return later that week.

Should Lewis play against the Broncos, it would be just over eight weeks after he underwent surgery to repair the tear. The typical recovery time for that type of injury is a minimum of four months.

“He’s making good progress, and we’ll just have to see how he practices this week,” Harbaugh said. “Going into Wednesday, we’ll know a lot more, I think, because he’s going to push it a little bit over the next two days. I’m looking forward to seeing how that plays out.”

Harbaugh offered good news on inside linebacker Jameel McClain, who suffered an injured neck in the second half of Sunday’s game and didn’t return. McClain’s loss forced the Ravens to use Albert McClellan, Brendon Ayanbadejo, and former practice squad member Josh Bynes at inside linebacker since Dannell Ellerbe missed his second straight game with an ankle injury.

McClain tied for the team lead with eight tackles despite missing a significant portion of the game.

“He’s got to get some testing done, but he should be OK,” Harbaugh said. “That’s standard procedure.”

Tight end Ed Dickson and cornerback Jimmy Smith may also return to game action this week, depending on how well they progress in practices. The third-year tight end has missed the last two games after suffering a hyperextended knee in the Ravens’ win at San Diego on Nov. 25.

Smith has missed the Ravens’ last five road games and underwent sports hernia surgery on Nov. 15. The 2011 first-round pick returned to practice on a limited basis last week before he was listed as doubtful for the Washington game.

“Ed Dickson looks better. He ran a little bit today, so he’ll have a chance to go on Sunday,” Harbaugh said. “We’ll see. And Jimmy Smith, the same thing. We’ll take a look on Sunday and see how he looks in the week leading up to Sunday.”

Harbaugh also mentioned a number of players dealing with minor injuries including running backs Ray Rice (left hip contusion), Bernard Pierce (lower back strain), and Vonta Leach (ankle), defensive linemen Arthur Jones (right shoulder bruise) and Pernell McPhee (groin), and safety Bernard Pollard (ribs). None of those players are believed to be in danger of missing Sunday’s game.

The Ravens coach went out of his way to compliment Pollard for pushing through the rib injury he initially sustained against the Philadelphia Eagles in Week 2. The strong safety hasn’t missed any game action despite dealing with the injury and regularly receiving treatment after practices and games.

“Bernard continues to work with the ribs,” Harbaugh said. “He’s doing a great job fighting through that. There’s no tougher guy — football player — than Bernard Pollard.”

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