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Ravens claim veteran cornerback Gorrer, cut Franks

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Ravens claim veteran cornerback Gorrer, cut Franks

Posted on 04 November 2014 by Luke Jones

The Ravens continued cleaning house in their struggling secondary Tuesday afternoon by claiming veteran Danny Gorrer from the Detroit Lions and cutting cornerback Dominique Franks.

The move came hours after Baltimore had waived fourth-year cornerback Chykie Brown and promoted rookie free agent Tramain Jacobs to the practice squad. The Ravens rank 24th in the NFL in pass defense after giving up six touchdown passes in a 43-23 loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers on Sunday.

Franks received the start on Sunday after he was only re-signed on Oct. 8. He was pressed into starting duty after No. 1 cornerback Jimmy Smith suffered a mid-foot sprain in Week 8 that is expected to keep him out until at least after the Week 11 bye. Opposing passers had completed 18 of 28 passes for 219 yards, two touchdowns, and a 112.1 rating against Franks, according to Pro Football Focus.

Gorrer will now have a second tour with the Ravens after he appeared in 11 games with Baltimore during the 2011 season. Mostly a special-teams player, Gore was cut at the end of the 2012 preaseson as he was behind Smith, Lardarius Webb, Cary Williams, and Corey Graham in a deep group of cornerbacks. How times have changed since then as Williams and Graham departed via free agency, Smith is hurt, and Webb hasn’t looked himself since returning from a back injury.

The Texas A&M product appeared in six games for the Detroit Lions this season, making seven tackles and two pass breakups before he was waived on Monday. Detroit’s pass defense ranks fifth in the league as Gorrer became a victim of the numbers game when the Lions re-signed defensive tackle Andre Fluellen due to the recent knee injury suffered by Nick Fairley.

Gorrer spent the previous two seasons with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, appearing in 13 games and making one start.

Considered a solid depth cornerback in his first run with the Ravens, Gorrer shouldn’t at all be viewed as a savior to the secondary woes, but his familiarity with the defense made him a reasonable candidate to add to the mix.

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Harbaugh looking for members of Ravens secondary to step up

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Harbaugh looking for members of Ravens secondary to step up

Posted on 03 November 2014 by Luke Jones

OWINGS MILLS, Md. — There was plenty of blame to go around on both sides of the ball in the Ravens’ forgettable 43-23 loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers on Sunday night.

Turnovers, penalties, poor pass protection, and the lack of a consistent pass rush all contributed to the humbling defeat, but it was the play in the secondary that conjured memories of the likes of Corey Ivy, David Pittman, Ronnie Prude, Derrick Martin, and the Ravens’ nightmarish Monday night defeat in Pittsburgh in 2007 in which Ben Roethlisberger threw five touchdown passes in the first half of a 38-7 final. It’s no surprise that the absence of top cornerback Jimmy Smith hurt what’s already been a vulnerable secondary in 2014, but allowing six touchdown passes to Roethlisberger and the Steelers signaled a complete collapse in the back end not seen against Pittsburgh in the John Harbaugh era.

The head coach discussed the secondary’s struggles on Monday after defensive coordinator Dean Pees used seven different players at cornerback and safety against Pittsburgh, but they’re finding no answers at the moment as they shuffle options on and off the field. Perhaps the best example of how uncertain the Ravens are with the state of the defensive backfield was the decision to deactivate rookie safety Terrence Brooks against the Steelers after he appeared to be on the verge of securing a starting job in playing 67 percent of the team’s snaps against Atlanta only two weeks ago.

“When some player expresses himself as being the best player by how he plays, he’ll be out there permanently,” said Harbaugh about the secondary rotation. “Until that happens, nobody’s given anything. I think guys have played OK at times, well at other times, and there have been a few bad plays back there.”

Though there have been far more than a few bad plays in the secondary, Harbaugh wasn’t far off in saying the secondary had held up enough when Smith was still in the fold — the Ravens had allowed only seven touchdown passes in their first eight games — even though they’d had their fair share of lapses and had surrendered plenty of yards. But the “bend, but don’t break” philosophy officially shattered at Heinz Field.

Veteran cornerback Lardarius Webb hasn’t been the same — quarterbacks have posted a 105.0 passer rating against him this season, according to Pro Football Focus — since coming back from the back injury that cost him the entire summer and the first few weeks of the regular season. Dominique Franks and Chykie Brown simply aren’t good enough to play meaningful defensive snaps, and the Ravens originally agreed as Franks was on the free-agent market a month ago and Brown was relegated to the inactive list due to his immense struggles that started in training camp.

The play at safety hasn’t been any better as the Ravens now rank 26th in the NFL in pass defense. The Baltimore defense has faced the third-most pass attempts in the league while ranking 22nd in the NFL with only five interceptions. To make matters worse, only one of those picks has been secured by a defensive back — defensive tackle Haloti Ngata and linebacker C.J. Mosley each have two — when Smith intercepted a pass from Tampa Bay quarterback Mike Glennon in Week 6.

Many aspects of Sunday’s game were ugly, but unlike other areas in which the Ravens have players with proven track records where you can expect improvement, there doesn’t appear to be much they can do in the secondary beyond hoping that Smith is ready to return after the Week 11 bye with upcoming games against New Orleans and San Diego. And the disappearance of the pass rush following a sequence in which they sacked Roethlisberger on three straight plays in the second quarter did the pass defense no favors as the game progressed.

It’s become painfully clear that the Ravens need more from their front seven if their secondary is to survive against any formidable passing attacks over the final two months of the season.

“We’re not disciplined back there in technique like we need to be,” said Harbaugh, who spent 2007 as the Philadelphia Eagles defensive backs coach before becoming the head man in Baltimore a year later. “Our eyes aren’t in the right spot all the time like they need to be. When you’re in the back end – just like on the offensive line – your footwork’s got to be right, your eyes have to be right, your leverage has to be right, and then you’ve got to play the ball well.”

There’s only so much coaching you can do when you don’t have the proper talent.

To no surprise, Harbaugh indicated that the Ravens had several busts in coverage as well as plays in which defensive backs were beaten physically. And even when defenders were in position to make a stop, they often misplayed the ball or missed tackles. Particularly at the safety spot where the Ravens used Will Hill, Darian Stewart, Jeromy Miles, and Matt Elam at different times on Sunday night, one could argue the lack of continuity has hurt performance, but the head coach downplayed that being an issue.

Without throwing his secondary under the bus entirely, Harbaugh didn’t shy away from the need for someone — anyone — to start making plays in pass defense. It’s clear the Ravens have plenty of areas to improve following their humbling loss to the Steelers, but you wonder if the secondary is something that they’re going to be able to fix this year.

“We’re looking for the right combination, but I think that’s a little overrated,” Harbaugh said. “I think it’s the best players. If you want to play in that secondary, step up in practice and play well and step up in the game and makes plays and be in the right spot. That’s what we’re looking for guys to do.”

The Ravens can keep looking, but it’s becoming more and more apparent that they’re not going to like what they see.

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Jimmy Smith sidelined “a few weeks” with mid-foot sprain

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Jimmy Smith sidelined “a few weeks” with mid-foot sprain

Posted on 27 October 2014 by Luke Jones

OWINGS MILLS, Md. — A day after a disappointing road loss to the Cincinnati Bengals, the Ravens received troubling news about the status of cornerback Jimmy Smith’s injured foot.

Smith exited Sunday’s game with a left foot sprain on the first drive of the game and didn’t return. A magnetic resonance imaging exam Monday confirmed the fourth-year defensive back will be sidelined at least until after the Ravens’ bye week, but head coach John Harbaugh is remaining optimistic that the injury isn’t as bad as some feared.

“Jimmy’s going to be out for a few weeks. It’s not a Lisfranc deal, which was speculated,” Harbaugh said. “It’s a mid-foot sprain, and he’ll be out for a few weeks, but he’ll be back soon.”

The Ravens are currently ranked 22nd in pass defense and now have just three healthy cornerbacks on the 53-man roster. With struggling fourth-year cornerback Chykie Brown inactive the last two weeks, defensive coordinator Dean Pees used Dominique Franks in Smith’s place opposite fellow starter Lardarius Webb. Safety Matt Elam was used in the nickel position as he was earlier in the year when Webb was still working his way back from a back injury.

The NFL’s trade deadline falls at 4 p.m. Tuesday, but the Baltimore coach did not sound optimistic about being able to add a quality corner, whether through trade or the free-agent market. General manager Ozzie Newsome re-signed Franks on Oct. 8 after the Ravens cut him at the end of the preseason.

“We don’t have to [add someone]. If we can find the right guy, we would do that,” Harbaugh said. “They’re scarce. If you’ve got a name for me, I’m willing to hear it.”

There’s no understating the loss of Smith, who is ranked as the fourth-best coverage cornerback in the NFL in Pro Football Focus’ grading system. Regarded by many as the best player on the Baltimore defense this season, Smith has collected 28 tackles, an interception, and eight pass breakups in eight games.

The timing couldn’t be worse for an already vulnerable pass defense that will now face Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger in Week 9 after he threw for 522 yards and six touchdown passes against a highly-regarded Indianapolis defense on Sunday. The Ravens also have post-bye games in late November against New Orleans and San Diego, two teams with Pro Bowl quarterbacks and passing games currently ranked in the top 10.

Even though the Ravens have already exercised their fifth-year option on his rookie contract, Smith has now been stricken with substantial injuries in three of his four NFL seasons. As a rookie in 2011, Smith suffered a high ankle sprain that kept him sidelined for four games. In his second year, the former first-round pick missed five games after undergoing sports hernia surgery.

Smith started all 16 games for the Ravens in 2013 and was a bright spot for a defense in transition.

After many pointed out their lack of depth at the cornerback position throughout the offseason, the Ravens have now seen Webb, Smith, and third-year defensive back Asa Jackson miss time with injuries this year. Jackson is currently on injured reserve with the designation to return after suffering a toe injury against Indianapolis on Oct. 5.

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Ravens cornerback Jimmy Smith exits Sunday’s loss with foot injury

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Ravens cornerback Jimmy Smith exits Sunday’s loss with foot injury

Posted on 26 October 2014 by Luke Jones

The most concerning development stemming from the Ravens’ 27-24 loss to the Cincinnati Bengals on Sunday may have been the injury to top cornerback Jimmy Smith.

The fourth-year defensive back sustained a sprained left foot on the opening drive of the game and did not return. Smith initially jogged off the field with a pronounced limp before being carted to the locker room for further examination.

The Ravens announced Smith’s return was doubtful late in the first half, but he did not play the rest of the way.

In his absence, the Ravens had only two active cornerbacks in fellow starter Lardarius Webb and veteran Dominique Franks, who was forced into starting duty for the rest of the game. Struggling cornerback Chykie Brown was a healthy inactive for Sunday’s game.

Baltimore will hope Smith is healthy enough to return to action next Sunday as they travel to Pittsburgh to take on the Steelers and quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, who threw for an incredible 522 yards and six touchdowns in a win over Indianapolis on Sunday.

Wide receiver Michael Campanaro also left the game with a hamstring injury and didn’t return.

Offensive linemen Eugene Monroe, Kelechi Osemele, and Marshal Yanda and wide receiver Torrey Smith also left the game at various points before returning to action.

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Ravens officially place cornerback Jackson on IR-designated to return

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Ravens officially place cornerback Jackson on IR-designated to return

Posted on 08 October 2014 by Luke Jones

After suffering a severe toe injury in last Sunday’s loss to the Indianapolis Colts, Ravens cornerback Asa Jackson was officially placed on injured reserve with the designation to return on Wednesday.

The third-year cornerback is currently in a walking boot and will now be sidelined a minimum of six weeks before he can begin practicing again. Jackson can return to game action after a minimum of eight weeks under the rules of the IR-designated to return exemption that was introduced at the start of the 2012 season. The earliest game in which Jackson could return would be the Ravens’ Week 14 meeting with the Miami Dolphins.

The timing of the injury comes as veteran cornerback Lardarius Webb saw his most extensive action of the season by playing 44 of 82 defensive snaps against the Colts. Jackson started four of the Ravens’ first five games, making 19 tackles and a pass breakup.

The Ravens also announced Wednesday morning that they had officially re-signed veteran cornerback Dominique Franks, who was with the team during the preseason and is familiar with defensive coordinator Dean Pees’ system. He is expected to compete for the No. 3 cornerback spot with Chykie Brown, but the Ravens have also used strong safety Matt Elam extensively at the nickel position this year.

Baltimore has now used the IR-designated to return tag in three straight seasons as it was given to inside linebacker Ray Lewis after a torn triceps in 2012 and to tight end Dennis Pitta after he sustained a dislocated and fractured hip in the first week of training camp last season. Both players were able to return later in those season.

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Ravens re-sign veteran Franks to boost cornerback depth

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Ravens re-sign veteran Franks to boost cornerback depth

Posted on 07 October 2014 by Luke Jones

Following the long-term toe injury suffered by Asa Jackson, the Ravens are bringing back a familiar face to boost depth at the cornerback position.

According to a Yahoo Sports report, the Ravens will re-sign veteran cornerback Dominique Franks with Jackson expected to be placed on injured reserve with the designation to return. The 27-year-old Franks was signed by the Ravens after their mandatory minicamp in June and spent the entire preseason with Baltimore before being let go during final cuts.

After spending four years with the Atlanta Falcons as a special-teams contributor and reserve defensive back, Franks recorded seven tackles, two pass breakups, and an interception in four preseason games with the Ravens. With Lardarius Webb, Jimmy Smith, and Asa Jackson all dealing with injuries over the summer, Franks even started in two of the four preseason contests.

In 48 career games (including four starts) over his four-year career in Atlanta, Franks accumulated 30 tackles, nine pass breakups, and three interceptions.

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Ravens’ cornerback situation can’t be overlooked in win over Cowboys

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Ravens’ cornerback situation can’t be overlooked in win over Cowboys

Posted on 16 August 2014 by Luke Jones

A 37-30 win for the Ravens over the Dallas Cowboys on Saturday night doesn’t reflect what was the most concerning image from the opening minutes of the second preseason game of the summer.

Already without starter Lardarius Webb and No. 3 corner contender Asa Jackson due to injuries, the Ravens lost their most important piece of the secondary — and likely their entire defense — as Jimmy Smith landed hard on his back defending a sideline pass intended for Cowboys wide receiver Dez Bryant. The good news is that X-rays were negative on his chest and the fourth-year watched the remainder of the game from the sideline despite spitting up blood on the sideline as he was helped off the field.

A bruised chest isn’t necessarily cause for panic — The Sun reported Smith was still coughing up blood following the game — but watching Chykie Brown and Dominique Franks handle the cornerback spots with the starting defense conjured memories of David Pittman and Willie Gaston manning the Baltimore secondary in the disastrous 2007 season. And it was another reminder of just how thin the Ravens’ cornerback depth is considering Brown has been picked on for much of the summer and Franks had been relegated to third-string duties until the last week.

Franks was beaten on a jump ball to Bryant for a 31-yard touchdown — a matchup that was simply unfair — while Brown was later burned by Cowboys wideout Terrance Williams on a deep route that was badly underthrown. To Brown’s credit, he did recover to break up the pass, but the play was more about a poor throw from Cowboys backup Brandon Weeden than an impressive play by the fourth-year cornerback.

It didn’t help that Dean Pees’ defense struggled to stop the run and generated little pressure in the pocket in the first half, but general manager Ozzie Newsome and the front office must address what is obvious with the start of the season only three weeks away. The Ravens need to add an established cornerback to their secondary in order to not be exposed by potent passing games in the throw-happy NFL.

All you need to know about the confidence level in the current batch of cornerbacks is the Ravens’ experimentation with using three safeties in the nickel defense with rookie Terrence Brooks lining up at the slot corner position. Jackson was emerging as a promising option for the No. 3 job, but he remains too much of an unknown and was spotted in a walking boot Saturday after injuring his ankle a week ago. John Harbaugh said it was a “minor” ankle sprain at the time, but the head coach is often ambiguous and vague when discussing injuries, making you wonder when Jackson will even make it back to the practice field.

Even if Smith and Webb are healthy for the start of the season — the latter has been sidelined with a back injury since July 25 — no one on the current roster instills enough confidence in being able to handle the No. 3 cornerback spot. That reality has made the free-agent departure of Corey Graham to Buffalo in the offseason that much more glaring as the Ravens didn’t draft a cornerback or sign a veteran at the position until the middle of June.

The problem will be addressing the problem at this stage as quality cornerbacks aren’t exactly waiting in abundance. A free-agent veteran such as Asante Samuel is always a possibility, but that won’t necessarily solve the problem as the Ravens already signed veterans Aaron Ross — who tore his Achilles tendon at the start of training camp — and Franks at the end of mandatory minicamp and have seen disappointing results. The Ravens’ best bet — or only hope — might be to dangle a future draft pick in hopes of acquiring another team’s second or third cornerback.

The nickel defense has become too much of a staple in today’s NFL to continue to expect an in-house candidate to handle the job. That concern will become a major problem if any of the Ravens’ current injuries linger into the start of the season with Cincinnati and Pittsburgh first up on the schedule.

The clock is ticking and the concern only grew as Smith landed hard on the turf at AT&T Stadium and needed to be helped off the field.

The Ravens need help in the secondary.

But it’s going to be difficult to find it.

 

 

 

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Webb injury makes cornerback no secondary concern for Ravens

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Webb injury makes cornerback no secondary concern for Ravens

Posted on 02 August 2014 by Luke Jones

The Ravens entered training camp with cornerback depth high on the list of concerns following the free-agent departure of Corey Graham and the lack of a significant offseason addition through free agency or the draft.

The anxiety has only grown with a lingering back injury for starter Lardarius Webb that is likely to keep him sidelined for most of the preseason, according to head coach John Harbaugh. Webb “probably” won’t play in the first two preseason games and could even miss the all-important third game of the summer despite tests revealing no structural damage to the sixth-year defensive back.

“He has some things going on in there that aren’t long-term things,” Harbaugh said. “I’m not going to get into it and give you the exact diagnosis of it. It’s probably as much me as anything. This early part of camp –- I just don’t want to put him through this on his back. He’s had sports hernia surgery [earlier in the offseason], also. There’s still some scar tissue in there. I just would rather keep him out of this first part of training camp, and we’ll just see how it feels more toward the end of camp.”

As anyone could tell you, back injuries are tricky, and there’s no guarantee that Webb will be in the clear even when he returns to action. The Ravens are taking the prudent approach considering the regular-season opener against Cincinnati is still more than a month away, but that will only quell concerns so much in a day and age when the NFL is all about defending the passing game.

Entering the summer, the competition was already wide open for the No. 3 cornerback spot with young defensive backs Chykie Brown and Asa Jackson expected to be pushed by veterans Aaron Ross and Dominique Franks, who were both signed following June’s mandatory minicamp. Instead, Ross tore his Achilles tendon taking the conditioning test at the start of camp and Franks took several days to pass the test to even get on the field. The former Atlanta Falcons cornerback has done very little to distinguish himself while working with the second- and third-string defenses in practice.

Rookie free agents Tramain Jacobs, Deji Olatoye, and Sammy Seamster have all flashed ability and are intriguing candidates to potentially make the 53-man roster, but none can reasonably be counted on to handle a significant defensive role in Week 1.

The only certainty right now is 2011 first-round pick Jimmy Smith handling one of the starting spots.

“Somebody has to rise to the top,” defensive coordinator Dean Pees said. “The cream has to come to the top and somebody has to take the job, and I don’t know right now who that is. I feel pretty good about Jimmy Smith on the one side, and then there’s a lot of competition over on the other side. Right now, I couldn’t tell you who that is. Those guys just have to keep competing.”

Through the early stages of camp, Jackson has played better than Brown, but neither has shown enough consistency to feel comfortable about penciling one into the nickel defense. When it comes to experience, Brown has the edge as he’s filled in as an outside corner in the nickel due to injuries while Jackson has yet to play a defensive snap as he enters his third season.

Pees and secondary coach Steve Spagnuolo prefer to slide Webb inside in the nickel package where his ability to play the run and blitz can be better utilized, and Brown is better suited to play outside, but the 2011 fifth-round pick consistently struggles to find the football in coverage. Meanwhile, Jackson is more of an inside corner with a height listed at 5-foot-10.

“That’s something that I went into this latest break trying to really work on and really working on my technique on the outside,” Jackson told AM 1570 WNST.net last week. “Being a smaller guy, it gets a little hairy out there sometimes, but I’ve put in a lot of good work this offseason. I’m excited to keep trying to improve and play on the outside.”

The Ravens have experimented with a variety of different looks including moving strong safety Matt Elam to the nickel spot, but it’s fair to wonder whether the defense’s No. 3 cornerback isn’t currently on the roster. General manager Ozzie Newsome has found contributors who have become available at the end of the preseason in the past, but there’s no guarantee a quality cornerback will shake free with the pass-happy nature of the league and the premium placed on coverage.

Newsome spoke highly of Brown and Jackson throughout the offseason, but the inability to add an impact cornerback this offseason is even more concerning with the absence of Webb.

“We may do some things that I may not normally do in a game just to put those guys out there and see what they can do,” Pees said. “This is the time to experiment and see if they can do it — not when the season starts.”

Of course, the Ravens are expressing confidence that Webb will be ready to go by the end of the summer, but they’ll need to find a comfort level with their No. 3 cornerback before they can even begin thinking about how to align the defense should Webb’s absence linger into the regular season.

It’s not a comfortable place to be with a group of unproven and unheralded cornerbacks competing for what has essentially become a starting position in the NFL. And that discomfort becomes a nightmare if the Ravens aren’t being completely transparent about Webb’s injured back.

For now, Harbaugh and his coaching staff can only hope one of the young cornerbacks answers the bell while Newsome keeps his eyes peeled for what might become available through trade or free agency.

“There is a lot of competition out here for that third spot,” Jackson said. “I think we’re all kind of raising each other’s level of play. Hopefully, we can keep doing that and then once the games get here, it’ll sort out how it will.”

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Ravens remain short at cornerback position on Sunday

Posted on 27 July 2014 by Luke Jones

OWINGS MILLS, Md. — The cornerback position remained in flux on Sunday afternoon as the Ravens practiced without Lardarius Webb for the second straight day and Chykie Brown was also sidelined.

Webb has been dealing with minor back spasms since Friday while Brown sat out with a tweaked hamstring, according to head coach John Harbaugh. Both players walked out to the field to observe practice, a typical sign of neither injury being serious. With Webb and Brown both sidelined, third-year cornerback Asa Jackson took the first-team reps opposite Jimmy Smith in the secondary.

The Ravens added a cornerback to the practice equation as veteran Dominique Franks finally passed his conditioning test and was activated from the non-football injury list on Sunday. Signed after last month’s mandatory minicamp, Franks was tested early and often working on the second-string defense and held up reasonably well.

“He didn’t jump out in a negative way, so that’s positive for a corner,” Harbaugh said following practice. “And we’re happy to get him out there, because we needed the legs out there, and he’s a talented guy. It should be fun to watch him on tape tonight.”

Harbaugh said that offensive lineman Will Rackley has “a little ding,” which is code for concussion-related symptoms in the head coach’s words. The Ravens will proceed with caution until the former Jacksonville Jaguars lineman is cleared.

A number of key players were given Sunday off as wide receivers Steve Smith and Torrey Smith, linebacker Daryl Smith, defensive end Chris Canty, and tight end Owen Daniels did not practice but watched from the sideline. Harbaugh has regularly given veteran players days off over the course of training camp but has steered away from a set “30-and-over club” over the last two summers after implementing that during his first several seasons in Baltimore.

“We had some veteran guys sit down today; that was by my design,” Harbaugh said. “I pulled those guys back [and] felt like they would benefit from it.”

Running back Bernard Pierce was a full participant on Sunday after leaving the field early due to being sick during Saturday’s practice.

Defensive tackle Terrence Cody (active physically unable to perform list – hip surgery) and offensive lineman Parker Graham were once again absent on Sunday.

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Veteran cornerback Ross tears Achilles tendon prior to first day of camp

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Veteran cornerback Ross tears Achilles tendon prior to first day of camp

Posted on 24 July 2014 by Luke Jones

OWINGS MILLS, Md. — The Ravens began their first full-squad workout of the summer having already lost a player for the 2014 season with the news of veteran cornerback Aaron Ross tearing his Achilles tendon.

Ross suffered the injury while taking his conditioning test while veteran cornerback Dominique Franks did not pass his, explaining his absence from the field during Thursday’s practice. The former was officially placed on injured reserve while Franks starts training camp on the non-football injury list until he passes his conditioning test.

Signed along with Ross following last month’s mandatory minicamp to boost depth at the cornerback position, Franks is expected to compete for the No. 3 cornerback spot behind starters Lardarius Webb and Jimmy Smith. Though not a good impression to make, Franks failing the test isn’t an uncommon occurrence as a number of veterans have failed the Ravens’ challenging conditioning test at the start of training camp over the years.

Head coach John Harbaugh announced the injury to Ross after Thursday’s practice and left open the possibility of the Ravens adding another veteran cornerback.

“We have pretty good depth, [but] we’ll always be looking for better players,” Harbaugh said. “Whenever I get asked that question, I give the same answer. I don’t think we have an particular urgency. We have good players at corner. The guys are competing, [and] we like our guys. I expect the third corner to be one of the guys already here.”

Defensive tackle Terrence Cody was also absent after being placed on the active physically unable to perform list while recovering from offseason hip surgery. Coach John Harbaugh said earlier in the week there is no clear timetable for his return to the practice field, but he continues to make good progress in his recovery.

Running back Bernard Pierce (shoulder surgery) and offensive lineman Jah Reid (calf) were both present and working after Harbaugh declared both to be at full speed earlier this week. With Thursday’s news of starting running back Ray Rice receiving a two-game suspension to begin the season, Pierce figures to have the inside track to begin the year as the starting back in Gary Kubiak’s offense.

“I’m very confident in Bernard. I’ve always liked Bernard,” Harbaugh said. “He’s a heck of a player. He’s worked very hard. He’s 217 pounds, [and] he’s in the best shape of his life. He looked good out here the last couple of days; he looked really good today.”

The Ravens were practicing in helmets, shells, and shorts on Thursday morning and will conduct their first full-contact workout on Saturday.

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