OWINGS MILLS, Md. — Making final preparations for their Week 1 meeting with the Denver Broncos, the Ravens are unlikely to have four players available for Sunday’s season opener.
Baltimore has officially ruled out running back Lorenzo Taliaferro (knee) and wide receiver Breshad Perriman (knee) and declared defensive tackle Timmy Jernigan (knee) and cornerback Rashaan Melvin (thigh) as doubtful to play against Denver.
After returning to practice on a limited basis Thursday, Jernigan expressed optimism that he might be able to play after hurting his knee in the third preseason game. The Ravens declaring him doubtful means he is estimated to only have a 25 percent chance of playing on Sunday.
Third-round rookie defensive tackle Carl Davis is expected to start if Jernigan cannot play.
“He’s a good rookie. He’s a big, strong guy. He has gotten better every week,” defensive corodinator Dean Pees said. “He takes coaching from [defensive line coach] Clarence Brooks every day, and Clarence is not easy on him. I love the kid. He’s going to make some rookie mistakes — they all do — but I really feel like this guy has come a long way just in the short amount of time that we’ve had him.”
Taliaferro and Melvin were limited participants in Friday’s practice. Taliaferro injured his right knee in the second preseason game against Philadelphia on Aug. 22, but he was running and working on his agility off to the side. His activity level suggested he may have a better chance to play in Week 2 than thought at the time of his injury.
Melvin did not appear to be doing much as he stood on the sideline during the special-teams portion of practice. The third-year cornerback hadn’t practiced since the third preseason game on Aug. 29 and dealt with a nagging hamstring issue for much of the summer.
With Melvin unlikely to play, the Ravens are projected to have only four healthy cornerbacks against the Broncos with one being rookie Tray Walker. Head coach John Harbaugh did not rule out the possibility of making a roster move before Sunday’s game and veteran cornerbacks Charles James and Asa Jackson are on the practice squad and have NFL experience.
Perriman was the only member of the 53-man roster not to participate in Friday’s workout. The 2015 first-round pick hasn’t practiced since spraining his knee six weeks ago. Defensive end Chris Canty and linebacker Daryl Smith both practiced fully on Friday and were listed as probable after receiving the previous day off.
The Broncos officially ruled out reserve defensive end Kenny Anunike (knee) and declared linebacker Lerentee McCray (groin) as questionable for Sunday’s game.
As they’ve done with their last two trips to Denver, the Ravens will not travel until Saturday afternoon as they subscribe to research suggesting that altitude doesn’t impact the body as dramatically in the first 24 hours of being in the new environment. In contrast, other teams have tried to travel to Denver a day or two early to try to get used to the thin air.
“We’ve done a lot of research on that, because we’ve been out there a few times,” Harbaugh said. “We have learned that the worst thing that you can do is go out two days before. That’s what the science tells us. You want to play, ideally, within 24 hours of your arrival in the altitude, and that’s what we’ll be doing with this trip. Then, it doesn’t affect you. That’s what we’re trying to do.”
Of course, the on-field results in Denver have been mixed for the Ravens as they won a double-overtime playoff thriller in Denver at the end of the 2012 season and were blown out in a 49-27 final to open 2013.
The referee for Sunday’s game will be Gene Steratore.
The forecast in Denver calls for mostly sunny skies and temperatures in the high 80s with no chance of precipitation and winds up to 10 miles per hour, according to Weather.com.
Below is the final injury report for Sunday’s game:
OUT: WR Breshad Perriman (knee), RB Lorenzo Taliaferro (knee)
DOUBTFUL: DT Timmy Jernigan (knee), CB Rashaan Melvin (thigh)
PROBABLE: DE Chris Canty (non-injury), LB Daryl Smith (non-injury)
OUT: DE Kenny Anunike (knee)
QUESTIONABLE: LB Lerentee McCray (groin)
PROBABLE: S Omar Bolden (rib cage), WR Andre Caldwell (illness), TE Mitchell Henry (finger), LB Brandon Marshall (foot)