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Ravens injury report: Evans, Grubbs out again; J. Smith probable against Jacksonville

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Ravens injury report: Evans, Grubbs out again; J. Smith probable against Jacksonville

Posted on 22 October 2011 by Luke Jones

OWINGS MILLS, Md. — The Ravens released their final injury report of the week on Saturday with the expected news that wide receiver Lee Evans and guard Ben Grubbs would be out again after not practicing all week in preparation for the Jacksonville Jaguars on Monday night.

However, rookie cornerback Jimmy Smith is probable to play after missing the last four games with a high ankle sprain sustained early in the Ravens’ season-opening win over Pittsburgh on Sept. 11. Smith practiced fully for the second straight day on Saturday and appears more likely to play than fellow cornerback Chris Carr, who is listed as questionable after practicing on a limited basis all week.

“I feel good,” Smith said before the injury report was released. “I don’t know if I’m going to be able to play this game, but I feel good. I mean, I’m optimistic like I said before, [but] I really don’t know what the coach is going to do with it.”

Many have speculated whether the Ravens should play Smith against the Jaguars, who are ranked last in the league in passing offense, or hold him out to get another week of practice under his belt before returning to action against the Arizona Cardinals next week. Coach John Harbaugh is weighing the risks and rewards with the idea that the rookie cornerback will need time to re-adjust to the speed of the professional game.

The Ravens are ranked seventh in pass defense despite Smith and Carr missing most of the season to this point. Is that a factor to consider in giving Smith an extra week to heal?

“That’s probably part of it, but the other side of the coin is you want to get a young guy out there playing,” Harbaugh said. “He needs to play too; he hasn’t played much. He played very little in the preseason. I think that’s going to be tough for him. Both of those things go through our minds.”

Evans will miss his fourth straight game and will be replaced once again by rookie Torrey Smith in the starting lineup. Andre Gurode will make his fourth straight start at left guard with Grubbs having not played since the season opener. Harbaugh feels the frustration shared by fans regarding the status of the Ravens’ two offensive starters.

“It’s just probably slower than any of us imagine that those guys would be,” Harbaugh said. “We’ve just got to keep fighting in there and try to get them back. I think it’s going to be one day we’re going to walk in here and they’re going to go through a full practice and they’re going to feel good and they’ll be ready to go. Hopefully, sooner rather than later.”

Grubbs’ injury has drawn comparisons to former Ravens left tackle Jonathan Ogden, whose toe ailment contributed to an early exit to a certain Hall of Fame career in 2007. Harbaugh had previously said in mid-September that an MRI showed no structural damage or long-term concern regarding Grubbs’ right toe, and the Ravens coach stood by that claim on Saturday.

“Still waiting for him to respond,” Harbaugh said. “It’s the process of getting the swelling out, getting the bruising out, and the healing process that takes place. I know that’s pretty vague, but that’s the best I can do.”

Still not cleared for contact after sustaining a concussion on Oct. 2, safety Tom Zbikowski is listed as doubtful and likely to miss his second straight game as he continues to deal with symptoms. The strong safety practiced on a limited basis on Saturday and said it was a good day for him in terms of not feeling the effects of the concussion.

Zbikowski is listed behind Bernard Pollard at strong safety on the Ravens’ official depth chart.

“Obviously, it’s never as fast as you want it to be,” Zbikowski said. “You want to be back as soon as you can, but once again, it’s a brain injury. It’s not a hamstring injury or something like that where you make it a little worse — it’s something I’m taking a pretty good precaution on before I get out there.”

Return specialist David Reed was the only new addition to Saturday’s injury report after being limited with a finger injury in the final practice of the week. He is listed as probable on the official injury report for Monday’s game, but the condition could factor heavily in the decision whether he or Bryan McCann handles kickoff return duties.

BALTIMORE
OUT – WR Lee Evans (ankle), G Ben Grubbs (toe), RB Anthony Allen (thigh), LB Dannell Ellerbe (thigh)
DOUBTFUL – S Tom Zbikowski (head)
QUESTIONABLE – CB Chris Carr (thigh)
PROBABLE – CB Jimmy Smith (ankle), WR David Reed (finger), LB Jarret Johnson (back)

JACKSONVILLE
OUT – S Courtney Greene (hamsting)
DOUBTFUL – T Eben Britton (back)
QUESTIONABLE – G Jason Spitz (quad)
PROBABLE – DT Tyson Alualu (knee), CB Derek Cox (groin), S Dawan Landry (thigh), T Eugene Monroe (shoulder), WR Kassim Osgood (hamstring), RB Montell Owens (knee), G Will Rackley (knee), LB Clint Session (elbow), T Guy Whimper (hip)

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Cameron with a vertical vision for Ravens passing game

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Cameron with a vertical vision for Ravens passing game

Posted on 13 October 2011 by Luke Jones

OWINGS MILLS, Md. — With the Ravens enjoying their bye last week, offensive coordinator Cam Cameron spent time evaluating every aspect of the offense through four weeks of the season.

His verdict was predictable, saying the Ravens aren’t really doing anything consistently great on the offensive side of the football, but he did make an interesting observation regarding opposing defenses. Despite Lee Evans playing only two games and the Ravens relying on rookie Torrey Smith as a starting receiver opposite Anquan Boldin, Cameron believes opposing defenses are respecting the potential of the Baltimore passing game despite only being ranked 18th in the NFL.

“What I do really like is the fact [that] I sense that people feel like they better back up,” Cameron said. “And I think that fits our style as a team. We want to be a vertical passing team — that’s the first thing we talk about — and secondly, a high (completion) percentage team”

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Of course, potential is one thing and production is another as Joe Flacco’s 49.3 percent completion percentage must improve if the Ravens are to consistently move the chains and register enough points every week. Evans’ health will also play a major factor as the 30-year-old veteran did not practice on Thursday after returning to the field earlier in the week.

The Ravens have attempted 25 passes that traveled longer than 20 yards in the air (completing five) after four games. In 2010, Baltimore threw only 73 passes greater than 20 yards in the air (connecting on 26).

Stretching the field makes sense with the speedy Smith already producing a three-touchdown effort against the St. Louis Rams, but having sufficient time will be a challenge on Sunday as the Texans’ 3-4 defense likes to get after the quarterback. That pressure is a major reason why Houston has improved from 30th overall in pass defense last season to sixth in 2011.

Though coping with the loss of top pass rusher Mario Williams for the season, defensive coordinator Wade Phillips won’t relent in trying to make Flacco uncomfortable in the pocket. Defensive end Antonio Smith has 4 1/2 sacks, and talented 2011 second-round pick Brooks Reed will take Williams’ spot in the lineup.

Having coached with Phillips when the two served as coordinators with the San Diego Chargers from 2004 through 2006, Cameron knows exactly what to expect on Sunday — at least from a philosophical standpoint.

“It’s going to be pressure,” Cameron said. “His answer has always been, ‘If they are not having success with pressure, more pressure.’ I think that is going to be the key for us, just making sure that we handle the pressure they bring. They have gotten to every quarter that they have played so far.”

Swatting Schaub

The Oakland Raiders battered and bruised Texans quarterback Matt Schaub throughout the game last Sunday, but a surprising statistic from the Raiders’ win in Houston was the number of passes knocked down at the line of scrimmage.

Despite the 6-foot-5 Schaub towering over a majority of defensive linemen he encounters, the Raiders batted down six passes, collected three sacks, and recorded 12 hits on the quarterback in their 25-20 victory.

It’s the same blueprint the Ravens will attempt to follow after registering 11 sacks in their first four games. Defensive tackle Haloti Ngata is known for his ability to bat down passes at the line of scrimmage if he doesn’t get to the quarterback.

“You want to get [Schaub] off the spot,” defensive coordinator Chuck Pagano said. “You want to get pressure up the middle, and if the ball’s coming out and you’re not going to get the sack, we always talk to our guys about getting their hands up. So, we’re looking to try to get some of the same production.”

Concern for Schaub’s health grew on Wednesday as the veteran did not participate in the Texans’ practice with what was listed as a right shoulder injury. However, Pagano and the Ravens fully expect the talented passer to play on Sunday. Schaub was a limited participant in Thursday’s workout in Houston.

“[The Raiders] beat him up pretty good, but he’s a tough kid,” Pagano said. “He’s a great competitor. Even though I guess he didn’t go [Wednesday], it’s probably just a precautionary thing. He’s going to be there [on Sunday].”

Returning returners

After shuffling a variety of return options in and out of the lineup through the season’s first four weeks, the Ravens may be finding some stability with the return of wide receiver David Reed. The kick return specialist practiced fully on Thursday and appears to be ready to return to action after suffering a shoulder injury in Week 2 against Tennessee.

Reed set a franchise record with a 103-yard kickoff return for a touchdown to begin the second half against the Texans last year to give the Ravens a 28-7 lead. The second-year Utah product also had a 77-yard return in the 26-13 loss to the Titans on Sept. 18.

Despite playing in only one game this season, Reed leads the team in kick return yardage (125 yards on three returns) over rookie LaQuan Williams (109 yards on five run-backs). Reed is confident he will quickly become a factor for the kickoff return unit despite a near-month layoff.

“It’s tough, and I have to get my body back into it,” said Reed, who stated his shoulder has held up well in practice this week. “It’s just a couple days of practice; that ought to do.”

With Reed being a full participant on Thursday, all indications point to him regaining his spot as the kick returner, but the Ravens aren’t revealing any plans yet.

“We’ll wait and see until Sunday,” special teams coordinator Jerry Rosburg said. “But, it’s good to see him out there running around. He’s got a lot of energy. He’s excited to play. I hope he does.”

Cornerback Bryan McCann will also play a large role in special teams after being signed to a two-year contract by the Ravens during the bye week. McCann brings experience as both a punt and kick returner after handling both jobs for the Cowboys last season.

Considering the Ravens would like to avoid using safety Ed Reed as their primary punt returner, McCann might find himself returning punts even though he’s listed fourth on the team’s official depth chart updated earlier this week. The reason why is No. 1 returner Lardarius Webb is heavily relied upon as a starting cornerback and the next two on the depth chart, Chris Carr and Tom Zbikowski, are currently injured.

“He brought experience in the defense and experience in the return game,” Rosburg said of McCann. “Of course, when we’re covering kicks, he’s got to be able to do that, too. We’ve given him a lot of reps this week. We’re excited to see what he can do.”

Oher’s brother follows him to Baltimore

Ravens right tackle Michael Oher will have a familiar face right here in Baltimore as his step-brother, Sean Tuohy Jr., has accepted a scholarship to play basketball at Loyola University.

Fans will be familiar with Tuohy as the kid step-brother of Oher — known to friends and family as SJ — that was depicted in the movie “The Blind Side” as a spirited confidante instrumental in Oher’s college recruitment. That part of the movie was portrayed accurately, but the Ravens’ third-year lineman did not play a similar role in Tuohy’s recruitment.

“I thought he would go to Ole Miss (where Oher and Tuohy’s parents attended college), but he has his own mind,” Oher said. “I’m going to enjoy having him up here.”

At 6-foot-1, 195 pounds, Tuohy will play point guard for Jimmy Patsos’ Greyhounds.

“He’s a smart player,” Oher said. “He can find the open guy. He knows how to play the game. I enjoy watching him.”

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Live from Owings Mills: Grubbs, Evans sidelined again after one-day return to practice

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Live from Owings Mills: Grubbs, Evans sidelined again after one-day return to practice

Posted on 13 October 2011 by Luke Jones

OWINGS MILLS, Md. — If Wednesday’s injury report was an encouraging shot in the arm as the banged-up Ravens officially turned their sights toward the Houston Texans, Thursday might feel like a swift kick to the gut.

After returning to practice on a limited basis a day earlier, wide receiver Lee Evans (ankle) and left guard Ben Grubbs (toe) were not practicing during the portion of practice open to the media on Thursday, point the needle in the wrong direction in terms of their status for Sunday. Grubbs was on the field without a helmet as he watched his fellow offensive linemen participate in positional drills while Evans was not present during the first 30 minutes of practice.

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Safety Tom Zbikowski (concussion) was also missing during the open portion of the workout after practicing on a limited basis on Wednesday. The fourth-year safety had not been cleared of contact as of Wednesday and experienced concussion-related symptoms during the bye week.

Evans, Grubbs, and Zbikowski joined cornerbacks Chris Carr (hamstring) and Jimmy Smith (ankle) as the five players not participating during the open portion of Wednesday’s workout. For the second straight day, Smith was on the field in street clothes, but the rookie was only walking.

Running back Anthony Allen (thigh), linebacker Dannell Ellerbe (hamstring), safety Haruki Nakamura (knee), and return specialist David Reed were all present and working during the open portion of practice after being listed as limited participants on Wednesday’s injury report.

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Live from Owings Mills: Six injured Ravens return to practice

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Live from Owings Mills: Six injured Ravens return to practice

Posted on 12 October 2011 by Luke Jones

OWINGS MILLS, Md. — After John Harbaugh’s Monday press conference cast doubt on the status of the eight injured Ravens players entering the bye week, Wednesday afternoon’s practice might lift spirits as six of the wounded returned to the practice field.

The most notable returns were wide receiver Lee Evans (ankle) and left guard Ben Grubbs (toe), but the two offensive starters were joined by safeties Tom Zbikowski (concussion) and Haruki Nakamura (knee), return specialist David Reed (shoulder), and linebacker Dannell Ellerbe (hamstring) as participants during the portion of practice open to the media.

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Cornerbacks Jimmy Smith (ankle) and Chris Carr (hamstring) were not practicing during the open portion. However, Smith was dressed in street clothes and only walking across the width of the side field. It wasn’t a level of activity indicative of a player close to returning to the field.

Carr was not present and indicated in the locker room that he would only return to the field at 100 percent after experiencing a setback on the Thursday leading up to the Jets game.

Evans and Grubbs had reportedly practiced on Monday — a workout closed to the media — and were dressed in full gear for Wednesday’s workout. Grubbs has not played in a game since the season-opening win over Pittsburgh while Evans hasn’t practice or played since the Week 2 loss in Tennessee.

Zbikowski has yet to be cleared for contact after sustaining a concussion in the Week 4 win over the Jets, but the safety was dressed to practice and working out individually on the sideline. Nakamura took part in kickoff and punt team drills during the special teams portion of practice, a strong indication that the Ravens hope he’s able to return to the field against the Houston Texans.

Ellerbe, a strong special teams player, was not participating in any special teams drills and was working on his own despite being dressed to practice.

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Injured players continue to heal with Ravens’ bye week history

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Injured players continue to heal with Ravens’ bye week history

Posted on 10 October 2011 by Luke Jones

With eight players shelved with injuries as the Ravens entered their Week 5 bye, the early-season respite was viewed as the perfect elixir to build upon a 3-1 start and an early lead in the AFC North.

However, after coach John Harbaugh expressed optimism last week that the Ravens would have their full regiment of players available against the Houston Texans on Sunday, the early post-bye prognosis had mixed results following Monday’s practice. The week’s first official injury report will not be released until Wednesday afternoon, but the biggest headline was the revelation that rookie cornerback Jimmy Smith would likely miss his fourth straight game while recovering from a high ankle sprain.

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The status of others, including starting left guard Ben Grubbs (toe) and starting wide receiver Lee Evans (ankle), remains in question. Grubbs and Evans reportedly practiced on Monday, but both players must wait to see how their bodies respond after long layoffs. Grubbs practiced on a limited basis on the Thursday prior to the Jets game in his only work since the Ravens’ season-opening win over Pittsburgh. Evans has not practiced or played since the Week 2 loss to the Titans.

“I haven’t really gotten anything definitive,” said Harbaugh in assessing the overall health picture. “And, as a coach, you hope for something on Monday that would be somewhat definitive, and there’s nothing there. So, we’re in a wait-and-see mode. Probably won’t give away much anyway as the week goes on, but as of right now, I don’t know who’s going to be back. A couple of guys practiced, a couple of guys didn’t. We’ll just have to see where we’re at.”

The Ravens also hope to see the returns of cornerback Chris Carr (hamstring), safety Haruki Nakamura (knee), linebacker Dannell Ellerbe (hamstring), return specialist David Reed (shoulder), and safety Tom Zbikowski (concussion). Nakamura and Reed did some work during Monday’s practice, but Zbikowski’s status remains a concern after sustaining a concussion in the 34-17 victory over the New York Jets on Oct. 2.

“I would like to be able to have an answer [on Zbikowski] for you, not that I would necessarily tell you, but with concussions, I have no idea,” Harbaugh said. “Until the doctor says he is cleared, you just go, ‘OK, see you when you are cleared.’ He has not been cleared yet.”

It’s unknown whether Carr or Ellerbe practiced on Monday, as neither were available for comment following practice.

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Live from Owings Mills: Grubbs absent on Friday, putting status against Jets in doubt

Posted on 30 September 2011 by Luke Jones

OWINGS MILLS, Md. — The optimism stirred by Ben Grubbs’ return to the Ravens’ practice field on Thursday appears to have dissipated a day later as the left guard was absent from the portion of practice open to the media.

After practicing on a limited basis, Grubbs was not on the field with the rest of the offensive line as veteran Andre Gurode once again assumed his duties at left guard. Grubbs has not played since the Ravens’ Week 1 win over Pittsburgh on Sept. 11 as he recovers from a right toe injury.

Wide receiver Lee Evans (ankle), linebacker Dannell Ellerbe (hamstring), return specialist David Reed (shoulder), cornerback Jimmy Smith (ankle), and safety Haruki Nakamura (knee) were not seen during the portion of practice open to media.

It’s appearing more unlikely that the Ravens will have Grubbs and Evans available against the New York Jets on Sunday night, once again pushing Gurode and rookie Torrey Smith into starting roles.

Referee Mike Carey and his officiating crew will call Sunday night’s game being televised on NBC. Carey served as the referee in the Ravens’ infamous 21-penalty fiasco against the Detroit Lions in 2005, a game in which linebacker Terrell Suggs was ejected for showing “malice in his heart” toward the referee in what exchange.

The Ravens also had special visitors to Friday’s practice as UFC fighters Urijah Faber and Danny Castillo attended the workout. Light heavyweight champion Jon “Bones” Jones will be attending Sunday’s game. Jones is the younger brother of defensive tackle Arthur Jones.

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Live from Owings Mills: Grubbs returns to practice for first time since Steelers game

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Live from Owings Mills: Grubbs returns to practice for first time since Steelers game

Posted on 29 September 2011 by Luke Jones

OWINGS MILLS, Md. — Despite revealing he’s only begun jogging over the last couple days, left guard Ben Grubbs returned to the practice field on Thursday for the first time since the Ravens’ 35-7 win over the Pittsburgh Steelers in the season opener on Sept. 11.

Grubbs missed the last two games with a right toe injury but was doing individual work and firing out of his three-point stance with the rest of the starting offensive line during the portion of practice open to the media. The fifth-year veteran said earlier in the day he would be a game-time decision and is still experiencing discomfort in the toe.

Center Matt Birk (knee) and defensive end Cory Redding also returned to practice after not participating on Wednesday. Both players were on the injury report last week before playing against the St. Louis Rams in Week 3.

Five players were not working for the second straight day during the open portion of practice on Thursday, including wide receiver Lee Evans (ankle), linebacker Dannell Ellerbe (hamstring), return specialist David Reed (shoulder), safety Haruki Nakamura (knee), and cornerback Jimmy Smith (ankle).

Smith’s left foot is finally out of the walking boot he’s worn since sustaining a high ankle sprain while covering a kickoff early in the first quarter against Pittsburgh on Sept. 11. The rookie says the ankle is “getting better” and is beginning to do some light jogging. Smith also revealed it’s the first real injury he’s suffered playing sports in his life. He hopes to return after the bye in the game against the Houston Texans on Oct. 16, but it’s unclear whether the first-round pick will be ready to play by then.

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Evans, Grubbs, six other Ravens on Wednesday’s injury report

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Evans, Grubbs, six other Ravens on Wednesday’s injury report

Posted on 28 September 2011 by Luke Jones

OWINGS MILLS, Md. — After deciding to place cornerback Domonique Foxworth on injured reserve earlier in the day, the Ravens saw eight more players missing from Wednesday’s practice as they begin preparations for the New York Jets on Sunday night.

Wide receiver Lee Evans and left guard Ben Grubbs headline the list after both missed Sunday’s game against the St. Louis Rams. Evans continues to rest the sore left ankle that’s given him problems since the aftermath of the third preseason game against Washington in August. He told reporters he will likely be a game-time decision, but also admitted the coaching staff will make the decision whether he plays.

“We’re just trying to do what’s best all the way around,” Evans said. “So, we’ll have to see. Right now, it does feel better having a little rest on it, so it’s progress.”

Grubbs appears to be unlikely to play and would miss his third straight game with an injured right toe. The swelling has decreased, but the fifth-year lineman has barely begun jogging and still feels pain in the toe.

With the Ravens having their bye in Week 5, could they elect to be more conservative than usual with Grubbs and Evans, potentially earning two extra weeks of recovery time?

“It’s probably a factor,” coach John Harbaugh said. “If you feel like you can’t be 100 percent in this game and if you have another answer in there, that’s a consideration. It will just depend, as the week goes on, again, how close they are to being 100 percent. But, I think the extra week of rest after this week is a factor.”

Linebacker Dannell Ellerbe also missed practice and is considered day-to-day through the week and could be a game-time decision. He left Sunday’s game against St. Louis with a hamstring injury and did not return.

Center Matt Birk and defensive end Cory Redding appeared to be receiving a day off with both players dealing with nagging injuries. Neither player practiced last Wednesday in preparation for the Rams.

Safety Haruki Nakamura joins cornerback Jimmy Smith and wide receiver David Reed as players who will not play on Sunday night. Nakamura has a partially torn PCL, but the safety expressed hope on Wednesday that he’ll return immediately after the bye week when the Ravens host the Houston Texans on Oct. 16.

BALTIMORE
DID NOT PARTICIPATE – G Ben Grubbs (toe), WR Lee Evans (ankle), DE Cory Redding (toe), C Matt Birk (knee), LB Dannell Ellerbe (thigh), S Haruki Nakamura (knee), WR David Reed, CB Jimmy Smith (ankle)
LIMITED – NONE

NEW YORK
OUT – WR Logan Payne (wrist)
DID NOT PARTICIPATE – CB Antonio Cromartie (ribs), C Nick Mangold (ankle)
LIMITED – LB David Harris (toe), DL Muhammad Wilkerson (shoulder)
FULL PARTICIPANT – DL Mike DeVito (shoulder), WR Santonio Holmes (shoulder)

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Ravens-Rams inactives for Sunday

Posted on 25 September 2011 by Luke Jones

***For inactives and breaking news sent directly to your mobile device, subscribe to the WNST Text Service right here. And, as always, for the quickest updates and analysis regarding everything purple, follow WNST on Twitter.***

The Ravens will try to jump-start an offense that stalled last week against Tennessee, but they’ll be without two key offensive starters while trying to do it.

Starting left guard Ben Grubbs will miss his second consecutive game after failing to practice all week while trying to recover from a right toe injury. There had been cautious optimism that Grubbs might try to play after being listed as questionable — he was doubtful against the Titans — but the fifth-year lineman has not practiced since the Ravens’ season-opening win against the Pittsburgh Steelers on Sept. 11. With offensive lineman Mark LeVoir also inactive, veteran Andre Gurode will make the start at left guard.

Wide receiver Lee Evans (ankle) was ruled out on Friday along with cornerback Jimmy Smith (ankle) and return specialist David Reed (shoulder). Evans has battled a left ankle injury since the Ravens’ win over the Redskins in the third preseason game last month. With Evans out, Baltimore will rely on rookies Torrey Smith, LaQuan Williams, and Tandon Doss — who is active for the first time this season — to pick up the slack in the passing game.

The Ravens have also deactivated cornerback Domonique Foxworth in a surprising move reflecting John Harbaugh’s comments made earlier in the week that they’d have to contemplate sitting down Evans and Foxworth until their health improved to the point that they could better help the team. The decision to sit Foxworth puts more pressure on the returning Chris Carr, who sat out the Titans game with a hamstring injury and has dealt with the ailment since training camp. Cornerbacks Danny Gorrer and Chykie Brown are both active.

Linebacker Sergio Kindle is inactive for the third straight game and has yet to play a snap this season.

For St. Louis, running back Steven Jackson (quad) is active and will play despite being a limited participant in practice on Thursday and Friday. Backup running back Cadillac Williams (hamstring) is also active against the Ravens.

Baltimore
CB Domonique Foxworth
G Ben Grubbs
OL Mark LeVoir
LB Sergio Kindle
WR Lee Evans
CB Jimmy Smith
WR David Reed

St. Louis
WR Danny Amendola
S Jermale Hines
RB Quinn Porter
LB Jabara Williams
TE Stephen Spach
WR Greg Salas
DE C.J. Ah You

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Live from Owings Mills: Grubbs, Evans not working again in Ravens’ final practice for Rams

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Live from Owings Mills: Grubbs, Evans not working again in Ravens’ final practice for Rams

Posted on 23 September 2011 by Luke Jones

OWINGS MILLS, Md. — As the Ravens make final preparations for their trip to St. Louis to face the 0-2 Rams on Sunday, it’s becoming increasingly likely they will be without a critical part of their passing game and an anchor along the offensive line.

Wide receiver Lee Evans (ankle) and left guard Ben Grubbs (toe) were not working for the third straight day in the portion of practice open to the media on Friday. Grubbs was present on the field, but the fifth-year lineman did not have a helmet as he watched from the sideline. Evans was nowhere to be found as he continues to deal with an ankle injury that’s plagued him since the third preseason game.

With Evans’ availability for Sunday in doubt, the Ravens will turn to their rookie wideouts to make contributions in the passing game. Torrey Smith is expected to start, but is looking for his first catch as a professional as he fights confidence issues in finding his place in Cam Cameron’s system. Fellow rookies LaQuan Williams and Tandon Doss also figure to receive some opportunities in certain formations. Doss has been inactive in each of the team’s first two games while Williams has mostly been used in special teams.

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Cornerback Chris Carr (hamstring) was practicing again after working on a limited basis on Wednesday and Thursday. Assuming he has no setbacks, Carr is expected to play in the team’s nickel package after coach John Harbaugh expressed concern with Domonique Foxworth’s health and ability to contribute. On Thursday, Foxworth echoed those frustrations, indicating he is still experience significant discomfort with his surgically-repaired knee that forced him to miss the entire 2010 season.

With kick returner David Reed sidelined until after the bye week, the Ravens will turn to some combination of Lardarius Webb and Torrey Smith in the kickoff return package. Both have received reps in the portions of practice viewed by the media.

Unsurprisingly, cornerback Jimmy Smith was absent from practice as his ankle is still in a walking boot. The 2011 first-round pick is not expected back until after the bye week, and his return could still be a period of time after that.

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