Tag Archive | "Dannell Ellerbe"

Your Monday Reality Check: I Get Why You’re Saying You’d Prefer Blowouts

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Your Monday Reality Check: I Get Why You’re Saying You’d Prefer Blowouts

Posted on 10 December 2012 by Glenn Clark

It didn’t take long.

“The thing is-I’d prefer them to be getting blown out than losing the way they’re losing.”

I can’t remember who it was, and I apologize if it was you. It wasn’t long into “The Nasty Purple Postgame Show” Sunday night on WNST that I got the first one. And it wasn’t the only time I heard/read it Sunday. I got it in a few emails and social media messages.

It wasn’t the most infuriating thing I heard Sunday night. In fact, it wasn’t really infuriating at all.

I get it. Honestly, I get it.

I mean, I hope all of us who were greatly bothered by seeing the Baltimore Ravens suffer a second consecutive loss Sunday (this time in overtime at the Washington Redskins) are understanding that 1-the team’s season is FAR from over and 2-no organization with a 9-4 record in a NFL season can EVER be vastly concerned about the following season or any seasons to come.

The only thing the organization can be concerned about is winning their next game, a visit from the Denver Broncos in the case of the Baltimore Ravens.

While you’re questioning the future of the Offensive Coordinator, the quarterback, who stays and goes on the defensive side of the ball and who could be cut to free room under the salary cap; the organization is ONLY concerned about how to break a lengthy losing streak against Peyton Manning and how a maligned Offensive Line can contain Von Miller.

They’ve thought about some of those same things, but they’ll worry about them after the season.

Some of you are struggling with the notion that the season hasn’t ended for the Baltimore Ravens in the course of the last eight days. It was rain falling today in Charm City, but it felt like it was the sky.

If the Ravens HAD been blown out in their last two games and hadn’t managed to pull off a few miracles (a missed Dan Bailey field goal lifting them past the Dallas Cowboys, the impossible 4th & 29 conversion in San Diego) or hold on in some of the uglier games in recent franchise history (wins at Kansas City and Pittsburgh that came without a single offensive touchdown), the Baltimore Ravens would sit at 5-8 and feel much more comfortable about declaring both the season over and welcoming panic within the building at 1 Winning Drive in Owings Mills.

Instead, they have all but clinched a fifth consecutive postseason appearance and are in no ways guaranteed to not be able to make a run towards a second consecutive AFC Championship Game appearance.

When you tell me you’d prefer blowouts, I understand what you’re really saying. You’re REALLY saying you don’t think the Ravens are going to make that type of run and you’d prefer to see the organization start answering more difficult questions now than have to wait another four or five weeks.

It’s understandable. The most likely scenario for the Ravens is that they’ll enter the playoffs as the AFC North champion (they need only one more win in any game the rest of the way to lock it up) but having lost anywhere from two to four (or I guess even all five) of their final five games. It’s reasonable to assume they won’t enter the postseason playing a particularly consistent level of football.

It’s easier for us to discuss long term questions like “should Cam Cameron be fired?”, “how much is Joe Flacco worth?”, “what do you do with Michael Oher?”, “has Jimmy Smith made enough progress to feel comfortable letting Cary Williams walk?”, “is there any future for Ed Reed here?” and “would cutting Anquan Boldin provide the cap room the organization needs?”

But the only real questions at the moment are more along the lines of “what will the team do if they’re missing Marshal Yanda for a significant amount of time?”, “can Ray Lewis, Dannell Ellerbe and Terrell Suggs return in time to face Denver?” and “should Corey Graham still start after Smith returns?”

None of those questions sound like they’ll make the type of difference necessary to see the Ravens look like Super Bowl contenders again.

That’s where the organization is after 14 weeks of the 2012 NFL season.

I know you don’t REALLY mean you’d rather see the Ravens getting blown out right now, but I understand why it feels that way.

-G

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Ravens-Redskins: Inactives and pre-game notes

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Ravens-Redskins: Inactives and pre-game notes

Posted on 09 December 2012 by Luke Jones

LANDOVER, Md. — A rainy and gloomy day at FedEx Field is the setting Sunday afternoon as the Ravens take on the Washington Redskins for the fifth time in their regular-season history.

Hoping to rebound from a disappointing loss to Pittsburgh last week, the Ravens will try to clinch their fifth consecutive trip to the postseason, but they’ll need help to do it. Baltimore will officially punch its ticket to the playoffs with a win and a loss from either Cincinnati or Pittsburgh on Sunday afternoon.

Linebacker Terrell Suggs will not play despite being listed as questionable on the final injury report of the week. The 30-year-old linebacker suffered a torn biceps last Sunday but was able to practice on a limited basis on Thursday and Friday. However, he deemed himself unready to go after testing out the right arm on Sunday morning.

As we learned on Friday, the Ravens will be without inside linebacker Dannell Ellerbe (ankle) and tight end Ed Dickson (knee), who were both ruled out after not practicing at all during the week. Both were injured in the win at San Diego two weeks ago and will miss their second consecutive game.

It will be interesting to see how defensive coordinator Dean Pees handles the linebacker position as Albert McClellan would be the logical choice to slide inside and replace Ellerbe as he did last week. However, with Suggs now out, the Ravens would like to have McClellan available to set the edge opposite rookie Courtney Upshaw because he is strong against the run. Assuming McClellan plays inside, the Ravens will rely on fourth-year linebacker Paul Kruger as an every-down player and he struggled mightily to set the edge against the running game earlier this season when Suggs was on the physically unable to perform list.

In a surprise move, the Redskins have listed return specialist Brandon Banks as inactive. He was not listed on the injury report this week, so it will be interesting to see how Washington handles its return duties.

The Ravens are wearing their white jerseys with black pants while Washington sports its burgundy jerseys and gold pants on Sunday afternoon.

Here are Sunday’s inactives …

BALTIMORE
LB Terrell Suggs
LB Dannell Ellerbe
TE Ed Dickson
CB Jimmy Smith
OL Ramon Harewood
DL Bryan Hall
WR Deonte Thompson

WASHINGTON
QB Rex Grossman
WR Brandon Banks
WR Dezmon Briscoe
LB Roddrick Muckelory
G Josh LeRibeus
G Adam Gettis
T Tom Compton

Follow WNST on Twitter throughout the day as Drew Forrester, Nestor Aparicio, and I bring live updates and analysis from FedEx Field throughout the day.

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Suggs questionable; Ellerbe, Dickson ruled out against Redskins

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Suggs questionable; Ellerbe, Dickson ruled out against Redskins

Posted on 07 December 2012 by Luke Jones

OWINGS MILLS, Md. — After returning to the practice field on Thursday, Ravens linebacker Terrell Suggs was listed as questionable on the team’s final injury report going into Sunday’s game against the Washington Redskins.

The 30-year-old linebacker worked on a limited basis two days this week after acknowledging a need to test out his torn right biceps. Suggs described himself as a game-time decision earlier this week.

Coach John Harbaugh was pleased with the progress of the 2011 Defensive of the Year in returning to the practice field and once again deferred to Suggs in determining whether he will play at FedEx Field.

“[His arm] held up real well,” Harbaugh said. “He practiced for two days partially. As far as if you are asking what he is going to do, I really don’t know yet. We’ll just have to see where it goes on Sunday.”

Suggs used the practices to test his range of motion as well as his ability to complete simple football moves such as wrapping with his arms to make a tackle and engaging with blockers at the line of scrimmage in his role a pass rusher.

Teammates were encouraged by the five-time Pro Bowl selection’s work by the end of the week.

“He’s just getting it back,” linebacker Paul Kruger said. “Practice at this point in the season is always going to be a little slower and more low-key for everybody. I think he’ll be back in no time.”

The news wasn’t nearly as good for tight end Ed Dickson and linebacker Dannell Ellerbe as both players were ruled out and will miss their second straight game after suffering injuries in the Ravens’ win over San Diego two weeks ago. Neither have practiced at all over the last two weeks.

“They’re working hard to get back,” said Harbaugh before the two were officially declared out. “We probably thought that they would maybe be back last week, and it didn’t work out. We’ll just have to see for this week.”

Cornerback Jimmy Smith practiced on a limited basis on Friday as he did all week but was listed as doubtful. The second-year defensive back was not expected to play this week in his first workouts since undergoing sports hernia surgery.

The 2011 first-round pick had the surgical procedure on Nov. 15.

“He’s out there practicing [and] did a nice job,” Harbaugh said. “[He] moved around pretty well, broke up some scar tissue and things like that. That’s really important.”

Though not listed on the injury report because he’s ineligible to return to game action until next week, linebacker Ray Lewis practiced again on Friday as it’s appearing far more likely that he’ll come off injured reserve next week against the Denver Broncos.

Originally feared to be lost for the season with a torn triceps muscle in his right arm suffered on Oct. 14, Lewis would be returning to action a little over eight weeks following surgery for an injury estimated to have a recovery time of four months or more. His return to the practice field this week provided a boost to a Ravens team trying to bounce back from a disappointing and rare home loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers last Sunday.

“He moved around really well,” Harbaugh said. “You know Ray is going to stay in great shape. It’s not that long since he’s played, so he moved around really well. It was fun to have him out there. I know I was uplifted by it.”

The Redskins have listed linebacker London Fletcher, cornerback DeAngelo Hall, and offensive tackle Trent Williams as questionable for Sunday’s game.

BALTIMORE
OUT: TE Ed Dickson (knee), LB Dannell Ellerbe (ankle)
DOUBTFUL: CB Jimmy Smith (abdomen)
QUESTIONABLE: CB Asa Jackson (shoulder), CB Chris Johnson (thigh), LB Terrell Suggs (biceps)
PROBABLE: CB Chykie Brown (ankle), LB Josh Bynes (thigh), S James Ihedigbo (calf), WR Jacoby Jones (ankle), FB Vonta Leach (ankle), DE Pernell McPhee (thigh), S Bernard Pollard (chest), S Ed Reed (shoulder)

WASHINGTON
QUESTIONABLE: LB London Fletcher (ankle), CB DeAngelo Hall (ankle/knee), T Trent Williams (thigh)
PROBABLE: WR Pierre Garcon (foot), P Sav Rocca (right knee), CB Josh Wilson (shoulder)

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Suggs returns to practice Thursday on limited basis

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Suggs returns to practice Thursday on limited basis

Posted on 06 December 2012 by Luke Jones

OWINGS MILLS, Md. — A day after acknowledging he needed to find his limit in order to determine how effectively he can play with a torn biceps in his right arm, Ravens linebacker Terrell Suggs returned to the practice field on a limited basis on Thursday.

Wearing long sleeves, Suggs wasn’t wearing a noticeable harness or apparatus on his upper right arm as he went through agility drills with the defensive line during the portion of the workout open to media. The 30-year-old linebacker said Wednesday he considered himself to be a game-time decision for this week’s game against the Washington Redskins.

“You just have to find your limit,” Suggs said. “You have to find out when you can do and what you can’t do. Like I said, right now, I would tell you I feel good and I was definitely playing. It’s not always the case on a Sunday. You have to know what it is you can do.”

The fact that Suggs is back on the practice field so quickly speaks to his determination to play this week, but Thursday will be telling in determining how realistic of an option that will be. The five-time Pro Bowl selection will need to test his range of motion in pads, ability to wrap to make tackles, and how well he can engage with blockers at the line of scrimmage.

As a result, his work on Thursday might as well be viewed as a science experiment in addition to his first attempt to play through a serious injury. And it could potentially loom large in terms of not only his status against the Redskins but moving forward through the rest of the season.

Linebacker Dannell Ellerbe (ankle) and tight end Ed Dickson (knee) were absent from practice once again as neither player as practiced since suffering their respective injuries in the Ravens’ Week 12 win at San Diego.

Cornerback Jimmy Smith (sports hernia surgery) and linebacker Ray Lewis (triceps surgery) were both practicing for the second straight day.

Wide receiver Jacoby Jones, safety Ed Reed, and cornerback Asa Jackson also practiced on a limited basis.

The Redskins upgraded cornerback DeAngelo Hall and offensive tackle Trent Williams to limited participants while linebacker London Fletcher missed his second straight practice this week.

BALTIMORE
DID NOT PARTICIPATE: TE Ed Dickson (knee), LB Dannell Ellerbe (ankle)
LIMITED PARTICIPATION: WR Jacoby Jones (ankle), S Ed Reed (shoulder), CB Jimmy Smith (abdomen), LB Terrell Suggs (biceps), CB Asa Jackson (shoulder)
FULL PARTICIPATION: LB Josh Bynes (thigh), S James Ihedigbo (calf), CB Chris Johnson (thigh), CB Chykie Brown (ankle), FB Vonta Leach (ankle), DE Pernell McPhee (thigh), S Bernard Pollard (chest)

WASHINGTON
DID NOT PARTICIPATE: LB London Fletcher (ankle)
LIMITED PARTCIPATION: CB DeAngelo Hall (ankle/knee), T Trent Williams (thigh)
FULL PARTICIPATION: WR Pierre Garcon (foot), P Sav Rocca (right knee), CB Josh Wilson (shoulder)

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J. Smith returns to practice; Suggs, Ellerbe, Dickson absent on Wednesday

Posted on 05 December 2012 by Luke Jones

OWINGS MILLS, Md. — On the same day linebacker Ray Lewis returned to the practice field, the Ravens also saw second-year cornerback Jimmy Smith in action for the first time since undergoing sports hernia surgery.

Smith practiced on a limited basis Wednesday in his first on-field activity since before having the surgical procedure on Nov. 15. Coach John Harbaugh said earlier this week he expected the cornerback to increase his level of activity, but it was unclear whether he meant Smith would be on the practice field.

“Jimmy Smith continues to get better, so he will be moving around a little this week,” Harbaugh said on Monday. “We’ll see how that goes.”

The Ravens were without three starters as linebackers Terrell Suggs and Dannell Ellerbe and tight end Ed Dickson did not partake in Wednesday’s practice. Suggs declared himself a “game-time decision” against the Washington Redskins as he tries to play through a torn right biceps.

Ellerbe and Dickson were both given “a chance” to return to action this week after missing last Sunday’s loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers. Of the two players, Ellerbe is considered to be further along than the Ravens’ starting tight end.

Since Lewis has not yet been placed back on the 53-man roster, he was not listed on Wednesday’s injury report.

Meanwhile, Washington was missing three starters from its Wednesday workout as top cornerback DeAngelo Hall, middle linebacker London Fletcher, and left tackle Trent Williams all sat out.

Both Hall and Fletcher are dealing with ankle injuries but are expected to be ready to play by Sunday.

BALTIMORE
DID NOT PARTICIPATE: TE Ed Dickson (knee), LB Dannell Ellerbe (ankle), LB Terrell Suggs (biceps)
LIMITED PARTICIPATION: LB Josh Bynes (thigh), S James Ihedigbo (calf), CB Chris Johnson (thigh), WR Jacoby Jones (ankle), S Ed Reed (shoulder), CB Jimmy Smith (abdomen)
FULL PARTICIPATION: CB Chykie Brown (ankle), FB Vonta Leach (ankle), DE Pernell McPhee (thigh), S Bernard Pollard (chest)

WASHINGTON
DID NOT PARTICIPATE: LB London Fletcher (ankle), CB DeAngelo Hall (ankle/knee), T Trent Williams (thigh)
FULL PARTICIPATION: WR Pierre Garcon (foot), P Sav Rocca (right knee), CB Josh Wilson (shoulder)

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Suggs’ status remains unclear after suffering torn biceps

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Suggs’ status remains unclear after suffering torn biceps

Posted on 03 December 2012 by Luke Jones

(Updated: 10:15 p.m.)

OWINGS MILLS, Md. — Less than 24 hours after a disappointing 23-20 loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers, the Ravens anxiously awaited the prognosis for injured linebacker Terrell Suggs and his availability for the final quarter of the regular season.

As first reported by ESPN’s Adam Schefter, Suggs suffered a torn right biceps in the fourth quarter of Sunday’s loss and is seeking a second opinion to determine whether he can continue playing with the injury. The five-time Pro Bowl linebacker provided an update via his Twitter account on Monday night.

“Waiting on 2nd opinion,” Suggs tweeted. “Will keep ya’ll posted. Don’t panic! We do this every year! The MISSION is still the same.”

Miami Dophins linebacker Karlos Dansby is currently playing with a torn biceps, but the extent of the damage will determine how realistic it will be for Suggs to stay on the field. According to sports injury expert Will Carroll, the key to playing with the injury will be how much pain Suggs can withstand.

In an ideal world, of course, the Ravens would like to be able to give Suggs time to rest the injury, but they may not have that luxury while fighting for a first-round bye.

“What you do with the biceps, you think of going to the gym and doing curls,” Carroll told WNST.net. “You pull things to you. With a triceps, you push things away. Maybe you can’t wrap a guy up with both arms quite as tight, but you can play a little bit more with a biceps tear. The trick, of course, is pain tolerance.”

Suggs declined to speak to reporters in the locker room following Sunday’s game, only saying he would be “all right.” He didn’t appear to be wearing a sling or other apparatus to protect the arm.

“He has an injury in his upper-arm area,” coach John Harbaugh said during his Monday afternoon press conference. “That’s being evaluated further today. We don’t know the extent of it. We’ve got an idea what it is. It needs to be evaluated as far as coming back and possibly playing this week or not going forward. We’ll just have ot see where that is. We should know by [Tuesday] or Wednesday at the latest.”

The Ravens head coach expressed optimism that it would not be a long-term ailment. Suggs missed the first six games of the regular season while on the physically unable to perform list as he recovered from offseason Achilles tendon surgery.

Reactions to Suggs’ injury were mixed in the Baltimore locker room following Sunday’s game as a few expressed concern that the injury was serious while others believed the 2011 Defensive Player of the Year wouldn’t be sidelined for long.

“I think we are encouraged that it may not be [serious], and we’ll just have to see,” Harbaugh said. “If I knew that for sure or could say it for sure, I would. I just can’t right now, but we have some encouragement there.”

After missing Sunday’s game with an ankle injury, inside linebacker Dannell Ellerbe is expected to have a good chance to return to action against the Washington Redskins in Landover on Sunday.

Listed as questionable, the fourth-year linebacker was declared inactive as Albert McClellan shifted to the inside and shared time with veteran Brendon Ayanbadejo and former practice squad member Josh Bynes. Linebackers struggled in pass coverage as they bit on screen-pass looks and lost receivers over the middle of the field, according to Harbaugh.

Ellerbe is regarded as the Ravens’ best coverage linebacker and is second on the team with 81 tackles this season.

“We anticipate he’s got a chance to get back this week,” Harbaugh said. “We were hopeful for this past game, but it just didn’t work out. [We] took him right to the game day and he was unable to go.”

The Ravens also struggled to replace tight end Ed Dickson, who missed Sunday’s game with a knee injury suffered in San Diego last week. Third-string tight end Billy Bajema was used in Dickson’s place in blocking situations early in the game, but the Ravens appeared to use pass-catching tight end Dennis Pitta in an expanded role as the game progressed.

Harbaugh expressed optimism that Dickson could return to action this week after testing out the knee on Monday.

“Ed Dickson did some running today, so we’re just going to see how the knee continues to develop,” Harbaugh said. “There’s no injury in there; it was kind of a hyperextension deal, so he has a chance [to play against the Redskins].”

Second-year cornerback Jimmy Smith continues to recover from sports hernia surgery and is still on target to return before the end of the regular season.

“Jimmy Smith continues to get better,” Harbaugh said. “He’ll be moving around a little bit this week. We’ll see how that goes.”

Harbaugh also provided a Ray Lewis update, saying the 37-year-old linebacker continues to rehab at the team’s Owings Mills facility.

Lewis was eligible to return to the practice field last Thursday and would be able to come off injured reserve to play against the Denver Broncos in Week 15, eight weeks after he was placed on IR with the designation to return. It remains unclear when the 17-year linebacker will return to the practice field, but media reports over the weekend offered more legs to the speculation of Lewis making his return against Peyton Manning’s Broncos.

“Ray is here rehabbing. We’ll see how that goes this week moving forward,” Harbaugh said. “Nothing to report there. When there is, we’ll let you know.”

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Your Monday Reality Check: I think we all need some civic therapy today

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Your Monday Reality Check: I think we all need some civic therapy today

Posted on 03 December 2012 by Glenn Clark

I don’t have it in me.

Honestly, I combed over all of my usual spots looking for fun videos, GIFs, etc. for the 15-7-0. I wanted to have one more big roundup to close the college football season. I hope Roofing By Elite will be okay with sponsoring this diatribe instead.

As part of hosting a local sports talk show, I often find myself playing the role of civic therapist. After Baltimore Ravens losses, I’ll regularly hear things like “did you have to spend the day trying to talk everyone off the ledge?”

I’d like to think I’ve been fairly successful in that, although it was certainly come with my share of mini-meltdowns in the process.

I don’t think I’m going to melt down this time. I’m certainly not on the ledge myself.

I don’t think I’m on the ledge, anyway.

Am I on the ledge?

You know what happened. The Charlie Batch-led Pittsburgh Steelers invaded M&T Bank Stadium and used a Shaun Suisham field goal as time expired to pull off one of the more improbable victories of the 2012 NFL season. The Steelers snapped the Ravens’ lengthy win streaks both at home (15) and against AFC North opponents (12). They also prevented the Ravens from clinching a playoff spot in the AFC and pulled within two games of their longtime rival in the race for the division crown.

This one hurt.

With Ben Roethlisberger out again, this was a prime opportunity for the Ravens to vanquish one foe and focus on bigger goals. The Ravens are still in good position to claim the AFC North title this season, but everything the Ravens do this season is being measured by the fact that there is an expectation for them to reach the Super Bowl.

It was tough to imagine a team that struggled to a 9-6 win over the Kansas City Chiefs making a run to the Super Bowl. It’s equally difficult to fathom a team that lost at home to Charlie Batch making a run to the Super Bowl.

(This is the part where civic therapist Glenn Clark reminds everyone that they’re not moving up the date of the Super Bowl to December and it is absolutely impossible that the Steelers and Ravens will both be playing in the game. Sorry. I had to.)

The truth is that the concerns that stem from the Ravens’ loss aren’t dissimilar to those we had experienced earlier in wins and losses. The truth is that those concerns will likely pop up again, perhaps as early as next week in a visit to face Robert Griffin III and the Washington Redskins. The truth is that as long as the Baltimore Ravens were winning games, those concerns weren’t REALLY issues.

The Ravens simply needed to put themselves in the best possible situation to make a playoff run. If the Ravens continued to struggle offensively on the road but won, they’d still be in perfect shape to have to win no more than one road game in the postseason to get to New Orleans.

That’s the NFL. Your issues are only as significant as the record you carry them with. In that way, the Ravens are still in good shape at 9-3; but the nature of how this one went awry makes you worry about the ability for the team to keep winning through struggles.

In a game the Ravens only lost by three points, this one had a little bit of everything…

-Questionable play calling
-Poor clock management decisions
-Shaky quarterback play
-Offensive line lapses
-Inconsistent rushing
-Untimely drops
-Non-existent pass rush
-Awful tackling
-Secondary miscommunication
-Game changing turnovers
-3rd down struggles
-Red zone issues
-Potentially season changing injuries
-A partridge in a pear tree

Okay, maybe not the last one. But the rest were accurate at one point or another.

(Continued on Page 2…)

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Ravens tight end Dickson doubtful; Roethlisberger out for Sunday

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Ravens tight end Dickson doubtful; Roethlisberger out for Sunday

Posted on 30 November 2012 by Luke Jones

OWINGS MILLS, Md. — Making final preparations for their second meeting with the Pittsburgh Steelers in three weeks, the Ravens have once again gained the upper hand on their biggest adversary in terms of health as quarterback Ben Roethlisberger was ruled out by Pittsburgh on Sunday.

Tight end Ed Dickson was listed as doubtful for Sunday after missing three straight practices this week as he recovers from a knee injury sustained in last Sunday’s 16-13 win over the San Diego Chargers. The third-year tight end sustained no major ligament damage, but coach John Harbaugh anticipated his practice time to be extremely limited this week.

The Ravens coach offered nothing new on the status of Dickson or inside linebacker Dannell Ellerbe, who is listed as questionable after not practicing all week. Defensive end Pernell McPhee and cornerback Chris Johnson are also questionable against the Steelers after working on a limited basis throughout the week.

“Nothing really new to report on injuries,” Harbaugh said. “All the guys are in the same status as they were early in the week. We’ll just see how they get to Sunday.”

Ellerbe was present for Friday’s practice but did not participate, labeling himself a “game-time” decision on Sunday. He would likely be replaced by some combination of Brendon Ayanbadejo, Albert McClellan, and Josh Bynes in the lineup should he not be able to play.

The fourth-year linebacker injured his ankle in the first half of Sunday’s game against the Chargers and did not return.

“I’m getting better everyday,” Ellerbe said. “The swelling [is better]. They say it’s looking good. It’s just the strength and the pain.”

With Dickson unlikely to play, the Ravens are left with a conundrum at the tight end position in terms of blocking responsibilities as Dennis Pitta is considered a stronger receiver but does not fare well when asked to block. Third tight end Billy Bajema has been active the last two weeks and will likely see time as a blocker against Pittsburgh, but the veteran doesn’t offer much as a receiver. .

The Ravens have held out hope all week that Dickson would be available, but Friday’s designation did not paint an optimistic picture.

“[Dickson] is a quick healer. He is moving around good, so we’re really not going down that road yet,” offensive coordinator Cam Cameron said Thursday. “We’ve got plenty of guys that can block. Dennis can block, Billy [Bajema] can block. If you can’t block, you’re not going to be here. I’m glad we have depth at tight end.”

Meanwhile, Pittsburgh will not only be without Roethlisberger as outside linebacker LaMarr Woodley, right tackle Mike Adams, and backup quarterback Byron Leftwich were also ruled out. This means former New England quarterback Brian Hoyer — only signed last week — will serve as the backup to veteran Charlie Batch with the Steelers’ other two signal-callers sidelined against the Ravens.

The news of Roethlisberger not being available was no surprise after pessimistic reports about his practice work on Thursday, but Harbaugh offered a humorous and historical take on the Pittsburgh quarterback’s status before he was officially ruled out Friday afternoon.

“I’m expecting to see Willis Reed come jogging down the tunnel,” said Harbaugh, referring to the Hall of Fame center for the New York Knicks who made a heroic return from injury in the 1970 NBA Finals. “That’s the expectation. And if it doesn’t happen, it doesn’t happen.”

As expected, safety Troy Polamalu and wide receiver Antonio Brown were both listed as probable after practicing fully all week and will make their returns to the field after extended absences due to injury.

BALTIMORE
OUT: CB Jimmy Smith (abs)
DOUBTFUL: TE Ed Dickson (knee)
QUESTIONABLE: LB Dannell Ellerbe (ankle, knee, finger), CB Chris Johnson (thigh), DE Pernell McPhee (thigh)
PROBABLE: WR Anquan Boldin (knee), DT Terrence Cody (elbow), CB Corey Graham (illness), WR Jacoby Jones (ankle), TE Dennis Pitta (neck), S Bernard Pollard (chest), S Ed Reed (shoulder), WR Torrey Smith (thigh), LB Terrell Suggs (ankle)

PITTSBURGH
OUT: T Mike Adams (ankle), QB Byron Leftwich (ribs), QB Ben Roethlishberger (right shoulder), LB LaMarr Woodley (ankle)
QUESTIONABLE: T Willie Colon (knee), WR Jerricho Cotchery (ribs)
PROBABLE: WR Antonio Brown (ankle), DT Casey Hampton (illness), S Troy Polamalu (calf), T Max Starks (back)

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Ravens preparing to face returning foe Polamalu

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Ravens preparing to face returning foe Polamalu

Posted on 29 November 2012 by Luke Jones

OWINGS MILLS, Md. — The Ravens will enter Sunday’s game against the Pittsburgh Steelers having not lost a contest at M&T Bank Stadium in 727 days, possessing the longest active home winning streak in the NFL with 15 straight regular-season victories.

But ask anyone with ties to the organization and they’ll tell you the streak should be even longer, as it was the Steelers who last beat the Ravens in Baltimore on Dec. 5, 2010. A run of 23 wins in 24 tries at home is still an incredible feat in the parity-driven NFL, but the efforts of Pittsburgh safety Troy Polamalu helped prevent the Ravens from holding a flawless home record for well over three years.

As the 31-year-old defensive back prepares to make his long-awaited return from a calf injury on Sunday, the image of his sack-and-strip of quarterback Joe Flacco with just over three minutes remaining to set up the game-winning touchdown for the Steelers two years ago will undoubtedly be on the Ravens’ minds. Instead of collecting a couple first downs to run out the clock and collect a 10-6 victory, Baltimore fell victim once again to a big play by Polamalu and lost hold of the 2010 AFC North title and a first-round bye in the process.

“Everybody watching TV at home, everybody in the stadium, you all know you see 43 at the line, four-minute offense, he’s coming,” said linebacker Terrell Suggs in the moments following that 13-10 loss. “It was just like, I hope we have a plan. It just didn’t feel good when I saw that hair at the line.”

Two years later, the circumstances are dramatically different as the Ravens enjoy a three-game lead in the division and can eliminate the Steelers from AFC North contention and put their playoff hopes in serious peril with a win. Polamalu hasn’t played since Oct. 7 and has appeared in only two games this season while the Pittsburgh defense has still managed to remain first in the league in yards allowed.

But with a healthy Polamalu on the field, the Ravens know they face a unique challenge in addition to the already-stout defense that held them to no offensive touchdowns and just 200 total yards despite a 13-10 win at Heinz Field two weeks ago. Dropping into coverage or lining up to blitz at the line of scrimmage, Polamalu must be identified by Flacco and the Baltimore offense on every play.

“With Troy, you have to be aware of him at all times,” coach John Harbaugh said. “They’ve done a great job of playing defense back there without Troy. So, you add a guy like that in the mix, obviously, what a factor that can be.”

With it looking more unlikely that Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger will play on Sunday, it’s difficult to imagine many scenarios in which the Pittsburgh offense can provide enough punch with third-string quarterback Charlie Batch in line to receive the start. The Ravens offense must be smart with the football despite their preference for playing aggressively at home, and that’s where Polamalu’s return could be a factor.

Much like Ravens safety Ed Reed, health concerns have taken a toll on Polamalu’s play-making ability, but his presence on the field alone gives Flacco a significant headache he didn’t face two weeks ago when he struggled to make plays against Pittsburgh’s top-ranked secondary. Protecting the football will be paramount, and it was a failure to identify Polamalu late in the game two years ago that netted the Ravens their only loss at M&T Bank Stadium since Nov. 22, 2009.

“He just has a good knack for the game of football,” Flacco said. “He usually can figure out where the ball is going. He just has a feel for the game. While you try to combat that and account for him, there is always a certain amount that you really can’t account for what he is going to do. You just have to go out there, play your game, and take care of him by playing sound, fundamental football.”

Pees with good problem on hands

With linebacker Ray Lewis’ anticipated return before the end of the regular season, the questions have already been raised over how the Ravens should handle his workload with fourth-year player Dannell Ellerbe playing so well in the starting lineup.

A few have taken the extreme position that the Baltimore defense is better off without the 37-year-old, but most would at least agree it’s worth discussing the possibility of Lewis not playing every snap with the thought of keeping him fresh and hiding his suspect coverage in obvious passing situations. It’s not an easy discussion to have should coach John Harbaugh and general manager Ozzie Newsome decide on that course of action, but now might be the time to do it with Lewis making a quicker-than-expected recovery from a torn triceps.

It’s too early to speculate how the Ravens will act with Lewis not yet practicing, but it’s a good dilemma to have with Ellerbe and fellow inside linebacker Jameel McClain doing an admirable job filling in for the middle of the defense. The reality is they’d like to have all three on the field as much as possible to enhance their strengths and compensate for potential shortcomings.

“I’d rather have that problem than to try to figure out who the heck is going to be playing because we have a bunch of injuries, which we’ve had to do,” defensive coordinator Dean Pees said. “It’s always a good thing for a coach. It may not be a good thing for the players, but it’s always a good thing for the coaches.”

The better question might be whether the Ravens elect to keep Ellerbe at the “Will” linebacker spot over McClain, who has filled in at Lewis’ “Mike” backer position in the veteran’s absence. Ellerbe is stronger in pass coverage and has had the better overall season, but McClain has raised his level of play in recent weeks as well.

In the mean time, Pees appreciates having Lewis back at the team’s Owings Mills facility this week as he continues to rehab his right arm before returning to the practice field in the not-too-distant future.

“I’ve told you guys before that going in and coaching him and watching him in the meetings sit back there and take notes like a rookie, that’s why he is who he is,” Pees sad. “Really for the younger guys, but really for us older guys — to me — he’s a perfect pro.”

Jones continues to receive accolades

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Ravens linebacker Lewis not back on practice field in first day eligible

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Ravens linebacker Lewis not back on practice field in first day eligible

Posted on 29 November 2012 by Luke Jones

OWINGS MILLS, Md. — On the first day in which he could return to the practice field, Ravens inside linebacker Ray Lewis wasn’t ready to join his teammates just yet.

Placed on injured reserve with the designation to return on Oct. 17, the 37-year-old was eligible to begin practicing on Thursday after six weeks on IR. However, Lewis would not be allowed to play in a game for another two weeks, which would make him eligible to play in Week 15 against the Denver Broncos at the earliest.

Lewis returned to the team’s Owings Mills facility earlier this week to continue rehabbing from surgery on his right triceps tear as coach John Harbaugh described his status as “day-by-day” and did not project an imminent return for the 17-year veteran.

“He’s trying everything that he can to get back,” defensive coordinator Dean Pees said. “There are guys that would — with not even that many years [in the league] — say, ‘Oh well. I’ve had a great career. I’m going to the Hall of Fame. What the heck?’ It’s just not like that with him. That’s what pros do. There’s no quit.”

The Ravens were also without tight end Ed Dickson (knee), linebacker Dannell Ellerbe (ankle), wide receiver Jacoby Jones (ankle), and safety Bernard Pollard (chest). Pollard practiced on a limited basis Wednesday before sitting out Thursday’s workout while the other three have now missed two straight practices this week.

Cornerback Corey Graham returned to the practice field a day after being stricken with a stomach bug.

Wide receiver Torrey Smith (thigh), cornerback Chris Johnson (hamstring), defensive end Pernell McPhee (knee-thigh), and safety Ed Reed (shoulder) were also present and working after being listed as limited participants on Wednesday’s injury report.

The Steelers added starting nose tackle Casey Hampton to Thursday’s injury report as he was dealing with an illness.

Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger practiced on a limited basis for the second straight day, but reports continue to paint a dark picture for his status on Sunday afternoon. Ed Bouchette of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette says “it does not look good” for the Pittsburgh signal-caller to make his return against the Ravens on Sunday.

Safety Troy Polamalu and wide receiver Antonio Brown each practiced fully for the second straight day, making their respective returns to the field Sunday all but certain barring a setback.

BALTIMORE
OUT: CB Jimmy Smith (abs)
DID NOT PARTICIPATE: S Bernard Pollard (chest), TE Ed Dickson (knee), LB Dannell Ellerbe (ankle, knee, finger), WR Jacoby Jones (ankle)
LIMITED PARTICIPATION: CB Chris Johnson (thigh), DE Pernell McPhee (thigh), S Ed Reed (shoulder)
FULL PARTICIPATION: CB Corey Graham (illness), WR Anquan Boldin (knee), DT Terrence Cody (elbow), TE Dennis Pitta (neck), LB Terrell Suggs (ankle), WR Torrey Smith (thigh)

PITTSBURGH
DID NOT PARTICIPATE: T Mike Adams (ankle), T Willie Colon (knee), QB Byron Leftwich (ribs), LB LaMarr Woodley (ankle), DT Casey Hampton (illness)
LIMITED PARTICIPATION: WR Jerricho Cotchery (ribs), QB Ben Roethlishberger (right shoulder)
FULL PARTICIPATION:  T Max Starks (back), WR Antonio Brown (ankle), S Troy Polamalu (calf)

 

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