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Ravens just not quite good enough when they needed to be

Posted on 26 December 2016 by Luke Jones

The Ravens and Steelers played a Christmas classic that removed any doubt about whether this rivalry is still among the best in the NFL.

Baltimore fought like hell until the bitter end and a four-point loss at Heinz Field is nothing to be ashamed of in the big picture, but this also wasn’t the AFC divisional round — as much as the one may have felt like a playoff game on Sunday. Being eliminated from postseason contention with a week to go in the regular season only reinforces a theme that’s become too familiar over the post-Super Bowl XLVII seasons under head coach John Harbaugh.

“We’re very close to being a very good football team,” Harbaugh said after the 31-27 loss. “We can be a great football team, but we’re not there yet. We haven’t gotten there this year, obviously. We’ve got to get there.”

Having now missed the playoffs in three of the last four years, the Ravens just aren’t quite good enough.

That was apparent on Sunday as a defense that had ranked in the top five all season inexplicably allowed three touchdowns in the final 12 minutes of play. There’s no excusing Dean Pees’ unit for surrendering a 10-play, 75-yard touchdown drive in just over a minute that culminated with Steelers wide receiver Antonio Brown reaching over the goal line with nine seconds remaining.

Instead of cementing its status among the better units in franchise history, this defense has crumbled down the stretch, allowing 26 or more points in three straight games. You can’t put all of that on the absence of cornerback Jimmy Smith as an underwhelming pass rush was exposed badly against the Steelers with Ben Roethlisberger rarely harassed in the pocket.

But before we put all blame on the defense for what amounted to the practical end of the Ravens’ season, let’s remember an 8-7 record is the result of a collection of missed opportunities and not just what was on display in Week 16.

An 0-4 October left very little margin for error while looking ahead to how difficult the December schedule would be. That loss to the woeful New York Jets in Week 7 is still painful and no less damaging two months later.

The Ravens offense may have come to play for the most part on Christmas, but how many times could we really say that about this below-average group in 2016? Marty Mornhinweg did little to spark the offense after the firing of coordinator Marc Trestman in October and showed no better commitment to the running game, instead allowing Joe Flacco to set a career high in passing attempts without the kind of productivity to justify the imbalance.

Even on Sunday, the Ravens entered Pittsburgh territory on all five of their drives in the first half and managed just six points by intermission. Tight end Darren Waller’s inability to secure a touchdown catch early in the fourth quarter served as a turning point as it forced Baltimore to settle for a short field goal and a 20-10 lead instead of a two-touchdown cushion.

Baltimore’s normally-superb special teams have been propped up by Pro Bowl kicker Justin Tucker, but a return game that stuck way too long with veteran Devin Hester did no favors for an offense that would have benefited from better field position all season. On Sunday, a bad snap cost the Ravens a chance for three points early in the second quarter.

Not good enough.

With the season finale in Cincinnati now a meaningless endeavor, attention shifts to the future.

Harbaugh’s not wrong in saying this team wasn’t that far away — they’re 8-7, not 3-12 — but the crucial question is whether the Ravens are moving in the right direction or falling further away. It’s difficult to say this is a better football team now than it was in September, and that’s a big concern.

The Ravens at least improved from last year’s 5-11 disaster that wasn’t all about injuries despite what many wanted to believe. That should be remembered when determining what changes need to be made this offseason.

Still, this team is depending heavily on a number of veterans who aren’t getting any younger or better at this stage of their careers. Unlike Flacco, who was relying on a 37-year-old receiver expected to retire at the end of the season and a 31-year-old tight end coming back from two major hip injuries, Roethlisberger turned to two Pro Bowl talents in their primes in Brown and Le’Veon Bell when it mattered most.

As we’ve now said for a few years, the Ravens need to find dynamic playmakers on both sides of the ball to make the difference in these close games that we see around the league on a weekly basis. The early returns from the 2016 draft have been very encouraging, but this roster is still feeling the effects of lackluster drafts in recent years.

Is this coaching staff capable of getting the most out of its players, especially younger ones who need to develop? There have been more questions about play-calling and game management this year than in the past, and the Ravens are one of the most penalized teams in the league.

Is Harbaugh willing to make changes to his staff, especially on the offensive side of the ball where the Ravens have struggled substantially in three of the last four seasons? Is the head coach’s message stale after nine seasons?

Questions that seemed silly just a couple seasons ago should now be asked with another quiet January in Baltimore. Of course, owner Steve Bisciotti has the only opinion that really matters, but both Harbaugh and general manager Ozzie Newsome have to explain why this team wasn’t good enough and how they plan to improve next year and moving forward.

Seats are getting warm now.

The Ravens weren’t quite good enough this year, but are they moving in the right direction or stuck in neutral?

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hester

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Ravens part ways with Hester, make other roster moves

Posted on 13 December 2016 by Luke Jones

The Ravens kept waiting for the spark from four-time Pro Bowl return specialist Devin Hester than never came.

Indecisiveness, fumbling problems, and injuries led to the 34-year-old’s demise as he was officially waived by Baltimore on Tuesday. Hester’s decision to let a punt bounce at the Baltimore 14-yard line and roll to the 1 led to a safety in the first quarter of Monday’s loss to New England.

It was the final straw in a disappointing season for Hester, who was one of the most exciting players in the NFL in his days with the Chicago Bears.

Monday’s scene was familiar to the Ravens as the once-feared returner frequently let punts bounce instead of catching them, often hurting field position for a below-average offense needing all the help it could get. Hester was hindered by a groin injury earlier in the season and did not play in the preseason while recovery from January toe surgery.

The 2006 second-round pick from the University of Miami also had issues securing the football, fumbling five times and losing one of them earlier this season.

Still trying to find the kind of production they once received from 2012 Pro Bowl returner specialist Jacoby Jones, the Ravens signed Hester to a one-year deal a week before the start of the regular season. Considered by some to be the greatest return man in NFL history, Hester holds the record for most all-time return touchdowns — punts and kickoffs — and the most all-time punt return scores.

He ranks sixth in the NFL among qualified kick returners with a 24.5 yard average per return and is 18th among punt returners with just a 7.2 yard average this season.

Though the move was not made official on Tuesday, the Ravens intend to promote third-year wide receiver and returner Michael Campanaro from the practice squad, according to The Sun. In addition to possibly contributing in the return game, the 2014 seventh-round pick will serve as another option at the receiver position, whereas Hester hadn’t played an offensive snap all season.

Campanaro has just three kickoff returns and five punt returns in his brief NFL career, hardly making him a sure bet to pump life into the position.

The Ravens also placed running back Lorenzo Taliaferro on injured reserve with a hamstring injury and signed linebacker Lamar Louis. Taliaferro had missed the last four games with the injury and only appeared in three games after coming off the physically unable to perform list.

An undrafted free agent from Louisiana State, Louis appeared in one game for Arizona earlier this season and was most recently with New Orleans.

It remains to be seen whether the Ravens will need to add a cornerback or two to the 53-man roster after starter Jimmy Smith left Monday’s game with a sprained ankle and nickel back Jerraud Powers sustained a concussion. Cornerback Robertson Daniel is currently on the practice squad and appeared in one game against the New York Jets earlier this season.

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Ravens promote cornerback Jackson to 53-man roster

Posted on 15 November 2016 by Luke Jones

The Ravens promoted cornerback Asa Jackson to the 53-man roster and placed rookie defensive tackle Willie Henry on injured reserve on Tuesday.

A 2012 fifth-round pick out of Cal Poly, Jackson was signed to the practice squad last month after spending the preseason with the Arizona Cardinals. The 5-foot-10, 183-pound defensive back will add depth to the secondary and could also factor into Baltimore’s plans for the return game.

Veteran return specialist Devin Hester has struggled to provide much of a spark and has fumbled four times in eight games this season. Those difficulties helped prompt the Ravens to re-sign Jackson and third-year wide receiver Michael Campanaro to the practice squad in recent weeks.

Jackson entered the 2015 preseason as the favorite to replace the departed Jacoby Jones as the Ravens’ return specialist, but issues with ball security led to him being cut at the end of the preseason. The 26-year-old has not logged a single kick or punt return in his five-year career, but he has shown explosiveness as a returner in preseason games.

In 18 career NFL games, Jackson has collected 30 tackles and three pass breakups.

Henry was inactive for all but one game this season and hadn’t appeared in a single game. The fourth-round pick from Michigan was not listed on the injury report at any point in recent weeks, making this an apparent IR stash for the future.

Despite plenty of pessimism regarding the status of veteran right guard Marshal Yanda and rookie left guard Alex Lewis, neither was placed on IR on Tuesday afternoon. Lewis is expected to miss at least six weeks with a high ankle sprain while Yanda is trying to play through a serious left shoulder injury that’s sidelined him for three of the last four games.

The Ravens also signed guard Jarrod Pughsley and tight end Austin Traylor to their practice squad and cut quarterback David Fales for the second time in the last week. The addition of Traylor could be a sign that Crockett Gillmore is not yet ready to return from a thigh injury as Baltimore has signed a tight end to the practice squad for a third consecutive week with only two healthy tight ends — Dennis Pitta and Darren Waller — on the active roster.

Earlier this month, tight ends Nic Jacobs and then Mitchell Henry were signed and released at the end of the practice week as they were merely used on scout teams during workouts.

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Ravens preparing on short week, re-sign Campanaro to practice squad

Posted on 07 November 2016 by Luke Jones

OWINGS MILLS, Md. — The Ravens reunited with a familiar face as they returned to the practice field to quickly begin preparations for a Thursday meeting with the winless Cleveland Browns.

Less than two months after parting ways with 2014 seventh-round pick Michael Campanaro, Baltimore re-signed the River Hill product to its practice squad on Monday. The wide receiver suffered a calf injury at the end of the preseason and was only eligible to re-sign with the Ravens this week after receiving an injury settlement in mid-September.

With veteran return specialist Devin Hester struggling to make a positive impact despite a decorated NFL career, Campanaro could serve as an eventual replacement with some experience returning kickoffs and punts. However, injuries have derailed each of his first three seasons as he’s appeared in just eight games since being drafted.

Conducting a walk-through without helmets or pads just 24 hours after their 21-14 win over Pittsburgh, the Ravens were without six players during the portion of the workout open to media: wide receiver Steve Smith (ankle), guard Marshal Yanda (shoulder), tight end Crockett Gillmore (thigh), cornerback Shareece Wright (hamstring), and linebackers Elvis Dumervil (foot) and Kamalei Correa (thigh). Yanda and Smith both played against the Steelers and were likely receiving the day off to rest their respective ailments while the other four were inactive for Week 9.

Rookie running back Kenneth Dixon was participating in the walk-through despite exiting Sunday’s game with a chest injury in the second half.

In addition to Campanaro, the Ravens also signed tight end Mitchell Henry to their practice squad and released wide receiver Dobson Collins. Practice-squad offensive lineman Blaine Clausell was signed to Washington’s 53-man roster on Monday.

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Elam thankful to have another opportunity with Ravens

Posted on 25 October 2016 by Luke Jones

OWING MILLS, Md. — Matt Elam’s return to the practice field on Tuesday might have gone unnoticed by observers if not for a copy of the Ravens roster being handy.

Sporting a new jersey — No. 33 — and suiting up for his first full-team workout since undergoing knee surgery in August, the 2013 first-round pick knows there are no guarantees in the final season of his rookie contract. Drafted just three months after Super Bowl XLVII and several weeks after the departure of future Hall of Famer Ed Reed, Elam was supposed to take the torch as the next great Baltimore safety.

Instead, he’s come to symbolize frustration with recent drafts and the scarcity of young impact players on the Baltimore roster since that championship. Needing more depth at the safety position and with no other logical candidates, the Ravens have designated Elam to return from injured reserve, meaning he can now practice for up to 21 days and is eligible to play as soon as the Nov. 10 game against Cleveland.

“That means they believe in me a little bit and it means a lot for me, giving me a little confidence and things like that,” said Elam, who missed the entire 2015 season with a torn biceps. “It’s a great feeling. I’m happy to have the opportunity and I’m thankful for it. I’m just trying to take advantage of the opportunity I have.”

Expectations won’t be that high for a player who failed to prove himself as a starter over his first two seasons and was eventually demoted to a nickel role in 2014. In 32 career games (26 starts), the 25-year-old Elam has collected 127 tackles, one interception, a forced fumble, and seven pass breakups.

Often lost in coverage and guilty of missing too many tackles despite a reputation for being a hard hitter at the University of Florida, Elam earned praise for being in better shape and practicing well in the spring and summer. Of course, similar sentiments were shared by coaches in previous years, but Elam made a strong impression with new secondary coach Leslie Frazier, who had no previous investment in his development as a player.

“He was really having a good camp for us. He did a good job in OTAs and everything we had done in the offseason,” Frazier said. “As a coaching staff, we were really looking forward to watching him progress over the course of the preseason. Then, the injury occurred. Now, we will have to wait and see how he progresses over these next few weeks as we are trying to make a determination whether to get him back up again. But his ball skills, his toughness, his athletic ability — it was showing up.”

The Ravens can only hope it’s better late than never for one of the most disappointing first-round picks in franchise history.

Still confident in Hester

Veteran return specialist Devin Hester hasn’t made near the impact the Ravens envisioned when they signed the 33-year-old to a one-year contract in early September.

With Hester having already fumbled four times in six games — twice in Sunday’s loss to the New York Jets — and not looking explosive returning kicks, many have wondered how many more opportunities the Ravens will give the future Hall of Famer. For now, special teams coordinator Jerry Rosburg remains confident in the man with the most kick and punt return touchdowns in NFL history, citing a lingering thigh injury as the biggest challenge.

“It’s affecting him in two ways: one is just his ability to move and the other is his ability to practice,” said Rosburg, who added that Hester’s technique trying to catch the ball hasn’t been the issue. “It’s a tough skill, and he needs to practice. The practice he’s been getting is in pre-game warm-ups, and that’s not enough. I’m hopeful these next two weeks he’ll be able to get healthy and be able to be out there next time and do better in the ball-security areas.”

Hester also underwent offseason toe surgery, which prompted Atlanta to release him over the summer. Head coach John Harbaugh expressed confidence in Hester on Monday before acknowledging the possibility of his age preventing him from getting and staying healthy.

Under the radar

After a frustrating 2015 season coming back from Lisfranc surgery on his left foot, cornerback Jimmy Smith is coming on for an improved Ravens defense in a major way.

Smith held Odell Beckham Jr. to just one catch for six yards before exiting the Week 6 contest with a concussion, which allowed the Giants wide receiver to go nuts against the rest of the Baltimore secondary in the second half. Against the Jets, the 2011 first-round pick primarily traveled with No. 1 receiver Brandon Marshall, who caught only three passes for 39 yards in the game.

“Jimmy is an underrated guy in a lot of ways,” said Frazier, who first met Smith before the 2011 draft when he was the head coach of the Minnesota Vikings. “He can tackle. He can match up on top receivers. He is having an under-the-radar outstanding season, and hopefully he can stay healthy and it continues. He allows us to do a lot of things.

“One of the reasons we were leading the league through five games with the least amount of big plays had a lot to do with the play of Jimmy Smith. As soon as he goes out for a period of time, we [gave up] some explosive plays. Getting him back was a big plus, and hopefully, he will stay healthy.”

The 28-year-old Smith has 18 tackles and one pass breakup this season.

Missing the man in the middle

It’s no secret that the Ravens have struggled in pass coverage in the middle of the field over the last two weeks, which coincides with the absence of inside linebacker C.J. Mosley.

Mosley not only leads the team with three interceptions, but he has made a smooth transition to the “Mike” linebacker spot after veteran Daryl Smith was released in the offseason. Zach Orr and Albert McClellan have handled the inside linebacker spots with Mosley out.

“Anytime you have your leader in the middle of the defense and he’s missing — not a knock to any second-string quarterbacks in the league — it’s like having a second-string quarterback out there,” linebackers coach Don Martindale said. “It is different. Sure, you would like to have C.J. out there all of the time.”

Mosley did not practice on Tuesday as he continues to recover from a hamstring injury suffered in the Week 5 loss to Washington.

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Injury report not looking much better for Ravens on Thursday

Posted on 20 October 2016 by Luke Jones

OWINGS MILLS, Md. — Thursday brought little good news for the Ravens on the injury front as starting quarterback Joe Flacco again headlined a list of eight players absent from practice.

Flacco missed his second straight practice while nursing a right shoulder injury, creating more concern about his status for Sunday’s meeting with the New York Jets. Not counting the season-ending knee injury he sustained last November, the ninth-year quarterback hadn’t missed consecutive regular-season practices in recent memory.

Outside linebackers Terrell Suggs (biceps) and Elvis Dumervil (foot), inside linebacker C.J. Mosley (hamstring), right guard Marshal Yanda (shoulder), wide receivers Steve Smith (ankle) and Devin Hester (thigh), and cornerback Shareece Wright (thigh) were also absent for the second consecutive day.

Reserve cornerback Jerraud Powers (groin) was the only player to return on Wednesday after missing the previous day’s workout. However, wide receiver Kamar Aiken (thigh) and safety Kendrick Lewis (thigh) were added to the reporter as limited participants on Thursday.

Top cornerback Jimmy Smith (concussion) was practicing for the second straight day, but he was once again sport a red non-contact vest over his jersey, indicating he has not yet been fully cleared in the concussion protocol. Wide receiver Breshad Perriman is not on the injury report, but he continues to wear a red vest as well.

Left tackle Ronnie Stanley (foot) and right tackle Rick Wagner were practicing for the second straight day as they both appear poised to return to action in Week 7.

The Jets were without five players during their Thursday practice as head coach Todd Bowles ruled out linebacker Darron Lee (ankle) for Sunday’s game.

Below is Thursday’s full injury report:

BALTIMORE
DID NOT PARTICIPATE: LB Elvis Dumervil (foot), QB Joe Flacco (right shoulder), RS Devin Hester (thigh), LB C.J. Mosley (thigh), WR Steve Smith Sr. (ankle), LB Terrell Suggs (biceps), CB Shareece Wright (thigh), G Marshal Yanda (shoulder)
LIMITED PARTICIPATION: WR Kamar Aiken (thigh), S Kendrick Lewis (thigh), CB Jerraud Powers (thigh), CB Jimmy Smith (concussion)
FULL PARTICIPATION: OT Ronnie Stanley (foot)

NEW YORK
DID NOT PARTICIPATE: TE Braeden Bowman (knee), LB Darron Lee (ankle), OL Brent Qvale (neck), DL Sheldon Richardson (non-injury), TE Austin Seferian-Jenkins (ankle)
LIMITED PARTICIPATION: OL Ryan Clady (shoulder), OL Nick Mangold (knee), DL Muhammad Wilkerson (ankle)
FULL PARTICIPATION: LB Bruce Carter (foot), RB Matt Forte (knee), LB David Harris (hamstring), DT Steve McLendon (back), DB Darryl Roberts (shoulder), CB Buster Skrine (non-injury), OL Brian Winters (knee)

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stevesmith

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Nine Ravens players absent from practice on Wednesday

Posted on 19 October 2016 by Luke Jones

OWINGS MILLS, Md. — Already dealing with a litany of injuries, the Ravens added starting quarterback Joe Flacco to the list as they continued preparations for their Week 7 meeting with the New York Jets.

The 31-year-old signal-caller was absent from Wednesday’s practice as he deals with a right shoulder injury. He played all 83 snaps in Sunday’s 27-23 loss to the New York Giants, but the veteran appeared to be banged up in the post-game locker room after the game.

Flacco said he did not feel any discomfort during the game and only felt “a little something” in the post-game locker room on Sunday.

“We’re just going to see how the thing goes during the week,” head coach John Harbaugh said. “He has a chance to play. I don’t know what the percentage is. No one gave me a percentage on it. I believe he has a legitimate chance to play.”

The Ravens were also without wide receivers Steve Smith (ankle) and Devin Hester (thigh), right guard Marshal Yanda (shoulder), outside linebackers Terrell Suggs (biceps) and Elvis Dumervil (foot), inside linebacker C.J. Mosley (hamstring), and cornerbacks Shareece Wright (thigh) and Jerraud Powers (groin) on Wednesday.

Harbaugh said Monday that Suggs and Yanda are unlikely to play until after next week’s bye, but he didn’t rule out the former trying to play against the Jets if his arm were to improve.

“Last time he [tore his other biceps], he played the game after the first game,” Harbaugh said. “If he comes up and says he can play, then we’ll put him out there. He’s not a long-term deal, either.”

The good news for Baltimore was the presence of cornerback Jimmy Smith (concussion), who was practicing with a red non-contact vest over his jersey. His limited participation would mean he’s reached the penultimate step in the concussion protocol before being cleared to return to full action.

Wide receivers Mike Wallace (ribs) and Breshad Perriman were also practicing with red vests during the open portion of practice, but they were not listed on the injury report.

Left tackle Ronnie Stanley (foot) and right tackle Rick Wagner (thigh) were both present and working during practice, a good sign for their availability against the Jets. Stanley was a full participant in practice for the first time since Week 3 while Wagner wasn’t even listed on Wednesday’s report.

As expected, running back Lorenzo Taliaferro and cornerback Asa Jackson were both practicing. Taliaferro has begun his 21-day practice window after beginning the season on the physically unable to perform list while Jackson is currently on the practice squad and could be an option for depth with the current injuries in the secondary.

Meanwhile, the Jets officially named Geno Smith their starting quarterback for Sunday’s game with veteran Ryan Fitzpatrick struggling mightily in the midst of a 1-5 start.

Left tackle Ryan Clady (shoulder), center Nick Mangold (knee), and defensive tackle Muhammad Wilkerson (ankle) were absent from Wednesday’s practice for New York.

Below is Wednesday’s full injury report:

BALTIMORE
DID NOT PARTICIPATE: LB Elvis Dumervil (foot), QB Joe Flacco (right shoulder), RS Devin Hester (thigh), LB C.J. Mosley (thigh), CB Jerraud Powers (thigh), WR Steve Smith Sr. (ankle), LB Terrell Suggs (biceps), CB Shareece Wright (thigh), G Marshal Yanda (shoulder)
LIMITED PARTICIPATION: CB Jimmy Smith (concussion)
FULL PARTICIPATION: OT Ronnie Stanley (foot)

NEW YORK
DID NOT PARTICIPATE: OL Ryan Clady (shoulder), LB Darron Lee (ankle), OL Nick Mangold (knee), OL Brent Qvale (neck), CB Buster Skrine (non-injury), DL Muhammad Wilkerson (ankle)
LIMITED PARTICIPATION: TE Braeden Bowman (knee), LB Bruce Carter (foot), RB Matt Forte (knee), LB David Harris (hamstring), TE Austin Seferian-Jenkins (ankle)
FULL PARTICIPATION: DT Steve McLendon (back), DB Darryl Roberts (shoulder), OL Brian Winters (knee)

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Ravens-Giants: Inactives and pre-game notes

Posted on 16 October 2016 by Luke Jones

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — The Ravens are seeking a fresh start under new offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg after the dismissal of Marc Trestman this past week.

The problem is having three offensive starters inactive for the Week 6 meeting with the New York Giants as both teams attempt to snap losing streaks on Sunday. As expected, No. 1 wide receiver Steve Smith (ankle), Pro Bowl right guard Marshal Yanda (shoulder), and rookie left tackle Ronnie Stanley (foot) were all deactivated by Baltimore after missing practices and being listed as doubtful to play this week.

Smith left last Sunday’s loss to Washington in the first quarter and did not return while Yanda is missing his first game since the end of the 2012 regular season. Stanley practiced on a limited basis on Thursday and Friday, but he will now miss his third straight game with a lingering foot ailment.

With Stanley out, fellow rookie Alex Lewis will make his second straight start at left tackle with John Urschel starting once again at left guard. Ryan Jensen will start at right guard in place of Yanda.

Despite veteran right tackle Rick Wagner (thigh) being active, he is not 100 percent and may only be available as an emergency backup. Third-year lineman James Hurst was working as the starting right tackle during pre-game warmups.

The defense is also in rough shape as linebackers Elvis Dumervil (foot) and C.J. Mosley (hamstring) will not play after being deactivated. Dumervil was shut down again this week after quiet performances in his first two games since returning from offseason foot surgery. Mosley hurt his hamstring in the second half of the Week 5 loss to Washington and didn’t return.

With Mosley out, third-year inside linebacker Zach Orr will relay the defensive calls in the huddle and veteran Albert McClellan will move inside. Dumervil’s absence should lead to more pass-rushing opportunities for the likes of Za’Darius Smith, Matt Judon, and possibly Kamalei Correa on Sunday.

Veteran return specialist Devin Hester (thigh) is also inactive after missing practices on Thursday and Friday. How the Ravens elect to handle the return duties is more of a mystery as veterans Lardarius Webb, Mike Wallace, and Terrance West and rookies Chris Moore, Kenneth Dixon, and Tavon Young all fielded kicks during pre-game warmups. Webb did appear to field the majority of the punts, however.

In all, the Ravens will be trying to break their two-game slide with five former Pro Bowl players sidelined with injuries. Rookie defensive tackle Willie Henry was the only healthy scratch for Baltimore.

Meanwhile, there were no surprises among the New York Week 6 inactives as safeties Nat Berhe (concussion) and Darian Thompson (foot) and starting right tackle Marshall Newhouse (calf) were declared out on Friday. As expected, defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul (groin) and running back Rashad Jennings (thumb) were active after being listed as questionable.

Sunday’s referee will be Jeff Triplette.

According to Weather.com, the Sunday forecast calls for partly cloudy skies with temperatures reaching the low 70s and winds up to nine miler per hour.

The Ravens will wear white jerseys with black pants while the Giants don blue tops with white pants.

Sunday marks the fifth regular-season meeting between these teams with Baltimore holding a 3-1 advantage, which doesn’t include the 34-7 victory in Super Bowl XXXV on Jan. 28, 2001. However, the Ravens haven’t won a road game against the Giants since Sept. 14, 1997.

Below are Sunday’s inactives:

BALTIMORE
WR/RS Devin Hester
LB C.J. Mosley
LB Elvis Dumervil
DT Willie Henry
G Marshal Yanda
OT Ronnie Stanley
WR Steve Smith

NEW YORK
CB Eli Apple
QB Josh Johnson
WR Tavarres King
S Darian Thompson
S Nat Berhe
LB Deontae Skinner
OT Marshall Newhouse

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stevesmith

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Six key Ravens players likely out for Sunday’s game

Posted on 14 October 2016 by Luke Jones

OWINGS MILLS, Md. — The Ravens will be trying to snap a two-game losing streak without the benefit of several key players for Sunday’s meeting with the New York Giants.

In the final injury report of the week, Baltimore not only ruled out outside linebacker Elvis Dumervil (foot) for Sunday’s game, but wide receiver Steve Smith (ankle), right guard Marshal Yanda (shoulder), inside linebacker C.J. Mosley (hamstring), left tackle Ronnie Stanley (foot), and return specialist Devin Hester (thigh) were all listed as doubtful to play in Week 6. The rookie Stanley returned to practice on a limited basis on Thursday and Friday, but it’s apparent that he’s not fully recovered from the foot ailment that sidelined him for each of the last two games.

The injury saga of last season is a given, but it’s difficult to recall many single-game injury reports as sobering as this week’s for the 3-2 Ravens.

The only good news for the Ravens on Friday was the return of right tackle Rick Wagner (thigh) to the practice field, but he was still listed as questionable after leaving last Sunday’s loss at halftime. Linebacker Albert McClellan (calf), wide receiver Mike Wallace (ribs), and cornerback Shareece Wright (back) are all questionable, but Wallace and Wright were full participants in the final two practices of the week.

New coordinator Marty Mornhinweg will try to reverse the fortunes of the league’s 22nd-ranked offense, but it won’t be easy with his top wide receiver and arguably his two best offensive linemen all unlikely to play against the Giants. The Ravens will likely try to combat their offensive line woes by committing more heavily to run, something former offensive coordinator Marc Trestman had been reluctant to do during his 21-game tenure with Baltimore.

Defensively, the Ravens are clearly hurting at linebacker, and the appearance of the versatile McClellan on Friday’s injury report only complicates matters with Dumervil officially out and Mosley unlikely to play after injuring his hamstring last Sunday. Inside linebacker Zach Orr will be entrusted to relay calls in the defensive huddle in place of Mosley while young linebackers Matt Judon and Kamalei Correa could see bigger defensive roles on Sunday.

With Hester unlikely to play, the Ravens could turn to the likes of rookie wide receiver Chris Moore, rookie cornerback Tavon Young, and veteran safety Lardarius Webb for help at the kick and punt return spots.

The Giants aren’t dealing with as many injury concerns, but head coach Ben McAdoo did rule out starting safety Nat Berhe (concussion) and starting right tackle Marshall Newhouse (calf). Defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul (groin) is questionable, but he took part in practices on a limited basis this week.

The referee for Sunday’s game will be Jeff Triplette.

Sunday’s Weather.com forecast calls for mostly sunny skies with the temperature reaching 70 degrees and winds five to 10 miles per hour.

Below is the final injury report for Week 6:

BALTIMORE
OUT: LB Elvis Dumervil (foot)
DOUBTFUL: RS Devin Hester (thigh), LB C.J. Mosley (thigh), WR Steve Smith (ankle), OT Ronnie Stanley (foot), G Marshal Yanda (shoulder)
QUESTIONABLE: S Kendrick Lewis (thigh), LB Albert McClellan (calf), WR Mike Wallace (chest), OT Rick Wagner (thigh), CB Shareece Wright (back)

NEW YORK
OUT: S Nat Berhe (concussion), OT Marshall Newhouse (calf), S Darian Thompson (foot)
QUESTIONABLE: CB Eli Apple (groin), WR Dwayne Harris (toe), RB Rashad Jennings (thumb), LB Devon Kennard (concussion), DE Jason Pierre-Paul (groin), CB Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie (groin)

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Stanley’s return lone bright spot at Ravens’ Thursday practice

Posted on 13 October 2016 by Luke Jones

OWINGS MILLS, Md. — The Ravens are dealing with a plethora of injuries to key players ahead of their Week 6 meeting with the New York Giants, but they did receive a shred of good news on Thursday.

After missing the last two games with a lingering foot injury, rookie left tackle Ronnie Stanley returned to practice for the first time since Sept. 23. It remains to be seen whether he’ll play against the Giants, but that is an encouraging development for an offensive line that was without right guard Marshal Yanda (shoulder) and right tackle Rick Wagner (thigh) for the second straight day.

“This is part of what we do,” offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg said. “We won’t know [who is playing] possibly for a little while. But the guys we have playing will do a good job.”

Baltimore adding guards Vlad Ducasse and Billy Turner over the last two days didn’t appear to be positive signs for the status of Yanda and Wagner for Sunday’s game.

The Ravens also continued to practice without wide receiver Steve Smith (ankle) and linebackers C.J. Mosley (hamstring) and Elvis Dumervil (foot). Smith and Mosley left the Week 5 loss to Washington with their respective ailments, but Dumervil resurfacing on the injury report is a clear concern after he played an unremarkable 45 snaps over the last two games, his first action of 2016 after undergoing offseason foot surgery.

“Some guys can come right back right away; some guys can’t,” defensive coordinator Dean Pees said. “There’s nobody that knows their body better than the veterans. He knows if he’s ready or not ready. We just keep talking about it all the time, along with [trainer Mark Smith] and coach [John] Harbaugh. We’ll just see where it goes. On his behalf, the guy has just been a great player. If he’s not playing at that [level], it’s just because he’s not ready yet. He’s hurt. No other reason.”

Veteran return specialist Devin Hester (thigh) was also missing from Thursday’s practice after working on a limited basis a day earlier.

During the portion of practice open to reporters, safety Kendrick Lewis left the field with what appeared to be some sort of injury.

Wide receiver Mike Wallace (ribs) practiced with a red non-contact vest over his jersey for the second straight day.

Meanwhile, the Giants welcomed defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul (groin) back to practice after missing Wednesday’s workout.

Below is Thursday’s full injury report:

BALTIMORE
DID NOT PARTICIPATE: LB Elvis Dumervil (foot), RS Devin Hester (thigh), S Kendrick Lewis (thigh), LB C.J. Mosley (thigh), WR Steve Smith (ankle), OT Rick Wagner (thigh), G Marshal Yanda (shoulder)
LIMITED PARTICIPATION: OT Ronnie Stanley (foot)
FULL PARTICIPATION: LB Terrell Suggs (non-injury), WR Mike Wallace (chest), CB Shareece Wright (back)

NEW YORK
DID NOT PARTICIPATE: CB Eli Apple (groin), S Nat Berhe (concussion), WR Dwayne Harris (toe), OT Marshall Newhouse (calf), S Darian Thompson (foot)
LIMITED PARTICIPATION: TE Jerell Adams (ear), RB Rashad Jennings (thumb), LB Devon Kennard (concussion), DE Jason Pierre-Paul (groin), CB Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie (groin), DE Olivier Vernon (wrist)
FULL PARTICIPATION: TE Larry Donnell (concussion)

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