Tag Archive | "Domonique Foxworth"

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Foxworth helps save NFL season, but can’t save his own

Posted on 28 September 2011 by Luke Jones

OWINGS MILLS, Md. — Without the efforts of Domonique Foxworth, there may not have been an NFL season to talk about this year.

However, the veteran cornerback was unable to save his own.

The Ravens placed Foxworth on injured reserve Wednesday, ending his season after it was becoming more apparent the 28-year-old’s recovery from surgery on a torn ACL last year was not progressing quickly enough for the defensive back to contribute in the secondary. Coach John Harbaugh said the Ravens began discussing the possibility a week ago, and Foxworth was included in the discussion.

In the Ravens’ 37-7 win in St. Louis on Sunday, Foxworth was inactive despite having practiced the entire week.

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Foxworth missed the entire 2010 season after tearing the ACL in his right knee at the beginning of training camp on the eve of the first veteran workout in late July. With his heavy involvement in the labor negotiations during the 134-day lockout, Foxworth was unable to devote as much time rehabbing the surgically-repaired knee as a player might have in a regular offseason. His inability to have any contact with the Ravens organization during the work stoppage also impacted his slow recovery.

“There was a chance he could [have been] able to play at some point in time and help us,” Harbaugh said. “We were holding out hope that was the case, but it was moving in the other direction, for whatever reason. So, we just didn’t feel like we could afford to do that right now, especially needing a linebacker.”

The Ravens re-signed linebacker Prescott Burgess to take Foxworth’s place on the 53-man roster.

With Foxworth out for the season and rookie Jimmy Smith still sidelined with a high ankle sprain, the Ravens would like to have another healthy cornerback on the roster if a quality one were available. Baltimore promoted defensive back Danny Gorrer from the practice squad the day before a Week 2 meeting with Tennessee, largely because of the Ravens’ lack of confidence in rookie Chykie Brown at this stage in his career.

Fortunately, veteran Chris Carr returned to action against the Rams after dealing with a hamstring injury for nearly a month and a half.

“We’d probably like to have at least one more corner that is healthy, but we don’t have that luxury right now,” Harbaugh said. “It’s definitely [something] we could address, just depending on what’s available out htere, but I’m comfortable with the guys we have.”

For Foxworth, Wednesday’s news ends a bitterly disappointing season and brings an uncertain future with a large salary cap number for the 2012 season — reportedly upwards of $8 million — after missing nearly two whole seasons of football.

“We’re with him,” said cornerback Lardarius Webb, who had his own ACL injury late in the 2009 season. “We’re going to talk to him. I know he didn’t want to go on IR; he wanted to be here with the team. Certain things, he has to go through. As a teammate, I just want to be there for him.”

Suggs ‘can’t wait’ for Jets

In what has nearly become an absolute whenever the Ravens play a marquee opponent, Terrell Suggs has a great sound byte or even sports a t-shirt to grab the opposition’s attention.

The Pro Bowl linebacker showed up for Wednesday’s podium session wearing the following t-shirt as an ode to Jets and former Ravens linebacker Bart Scott famous ‘Can’t Wait!’ rant following New York’s playoff victory in New England last season.

Suggs

However, instead of being a move to incite his former teammate, it turns out the t-shirt was sent by Scott to several former teammates as a way to raise funds for paralyzed Rutgers football player Eric LeGrand. Scott ordered t-shirts in both Jets green and Ravens purple in an effort to raise $36,000 for LeGrand.

Putting aside a very worth cause, Suggs was proud to wear the t-shirt and said he couldn’t wait to meet his old teammate and “former mentor” on the field Sunday night. Suggs wasn’t ready to place the rivalry with the Jets on the same level as the one with Pittsburgh, but he admitted it’s not as good-natured as some players and coaches try to make it out to be.

“It’s not as friendly as you think, because come Sunday night, Rex [Ryan] is going to try to beat us,” Suggs said. “Bart is going to try to get after us. It’s going to be the same. It’s going to be a little different [than the Steelers] because it’s a little personal, because they once were here.”

Lewis still not sold on Jets’ success

Linebacker Ray Lewis made it no secret how unimpressed he was with the New York Jets prior to last season’s meeting in the regular-season opener, saying they were overhyped despite the media wanting to crown them champions before the season started.

When asked how he felt a year later after the Jets made their second straight appearance in the conference championship game — and how Ryan had mentioned that in his conference call with the Baltimore media — the 36-year-old leader offered comments similar to the ones made a year ago.

“He was sitting [in] the same place I was sitting, watching the Super Bowl,” Lewis said. “He had to be, because he wasn’t it it. That’s the only thing  you can ever talk about. I don’t care how far you go, the ultimate goal is to feel that confetti drop. You can ask the Pittsburgh Steelers. They wouldn’t be proud to go back to a Super Bowl. The bottom line is you have to win a Super Bowl when you get there.”

Visit the BuyAToyota.com Audio Vault to hear from John Harbaugh, Ray Lewis, Terrell Suggs, Joe Flacco, Ray Rice, Torrey Smith, Andre Gurode, Haruki Nakamura, Lee Evans, Lardarius Webb, Jarret Johnson, and Prescott Burgess prior to Wednesday’s practice.


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Ravens place CB Foxworth on IR, ending his season

Posted on 28 September 2011 by Luke Jones

OWINGS MILLS, Md. — The Ravens have placed cornerback Domonique Foxworth on injured reserve, ending his season after the veteran was unable to regain the form he enjoyed before a torn ACL ended his 2010 season.

Foxworth had struggled to rehabilitate his surgically-repaired knee despite hitting the practice field at the start of training camp in late July. The Ravens could have elected to place Foxworth on the active physically unable to perform list to begin camp and would have had the option to place him on the reserve PUP list, where he would have missed the first six weeks of the regular season while opening a spot on the 53-man roster. Instead, Foxworth attempted to push through the pain and clearly looked overmatched when going against opposing receivers.

The 28-year-old was inactive against St. Louis on Sunday despite practicing throughout the week leading up to the game. Coach John Harbaugh said last Monday that Foxworth would not play if he was unable to perform at a level needed to help the Baltimore defense.

In a subsequent move, the Ravens have re-signed linebacker Prescott Burgess to add depth at linebacker and to boost the special teams’ units.

The loss of Foxworth leaves the Ravens even thinner at cornerback with rookie Jimmy Smith still sidelined with a high ankle sprain. Veteran Chris Carr returned to action on Sunday after dealing with a hamstring injury for over a month.

Burgess returns for his third stint with the Ravens after he was cut at the end of the preseason on Sept. 3.

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Ravens safety Nakamura to miss “month or so” with PCL injury

Posted on 26 September 2011 by Luke Jones

OWINGS MILLS, Md. — Nearly everything went right for the Baltimore Ravens in their 37-7 demolition of the St. Louis Rams on Sunday except for another blow to an already-depleted secondary.

Backup safety Haruki Nakamura injured the PCL in his right knee during the first quarter of action in St. Louis and did not return. Results of an MRI were not available when head coach John Harbaugh addressed the media on Monday afternoon, but the team is optimistic about the versatile defensive back’s prognosis.

“It looks promising in terms of him being able to come back [in] maybe a month or so,” Harbaugh said.

The Ravens will discuss the possibility of adding another safety, but Harbaugh mentioned the versatility of cornerback Chris Carr as well as starting corner Lardarius Webb, who are both capable of playing safety. Nakamura has been an invaluable member of the secondary with Carr, Jimmy Smith, and Domonique Foxworth battling injuries at the start of the season. The fourth-year safety has played as the nickel on a number of occasions when a fifth defensive back comes on the field in passing situations.

Harbaugh was unsure of the status of Foxworth and wide receiver Lee Evans for this week’s game against the Jets. Foxworth was inactive despite practicing all week as he continues to work his knee back to full health while Evans was ruled out for Sunday’s game with a lingering ankle injury.

“We’ll just have to see how it goes this week and see where they’re at,” Harbaugh said. “[We’ll] probably watch and see if they can practice or not. If they go out and practice, how does it respond the next day? We’ll just have to see.”

Linebacker Dannell Ellerbe left Sunday’s game with a hamstring injury and is considered day to day, and the team will see how he fares this week before making a decision on his status for the Jets.

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Ravens-Rams inactives for Sunday

Posted on 25 September 2011 by Luke Jones

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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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Injury bug continuing to bite Ravens in first two weeks

Posted on 19 September 2011 by Luke Jones

OWINGS MILLS, Md. — As if a shocking 26-13 loss to the Tennessee Titans wasn’t painful enough, the Ravens continue to be slammed by the injury bug over the first two weeks of the regular season.

A week after serving a one-game suspension for the season opener, return specialist and wide receiver David Reed suffered a shoulder injury and will be out until after the Ravens’ bye week. The second-year player returned a kickoff 77 yards in the second quarter before injuring the AC joint in his left shoulder.

Reed had an MRI on Monday and could be sidelined for three to six weeks.

“Probably three weeks, I would say,” coach John Harbaugh said. “I don’t know. I’m not a doctor, but I play one in press conferences, right? That’s what [the timetable] normally is.”

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Though Reed failed to record a catch in Sunday’s loss to the Titans, his presence in the passing game will be missed with the continuing struggles of veteran Lee Evans, who continues to deal with a left ankle injury that began affecting him after the third preseason game in August. Evans lacked explosion in running routes for the second consecutive week and was seen icing his ankle in the locker room following Sunday’s loss.

Acquired for his ability to stretch opposing defenses and create more explosive plays in the vertical passing game, it’s unlikely defenses will respect his routes if not 100 percent. Evans’ ankle is impacting the Ravens’ ability to diversify a passing game that was far too one-dimensional a season ago.

“There’s no doubt about it,” Harbaugh said. “It’s affecting him, and we’re going to have to take a hard look at that. If he can do the things we need him to do, he plays. If he can’t, he won’t play. We’ve been nursing this thing for a month, and I don’t see it getting a lot better.”

The situation becomes even gloomier with Reed’s injury and rookie Torrey Smith’s failure to make any impact in his first two NFL games. With Evans less than 100 percent and Reed out for the foreseeable future, rookie Tandon Doss is in line to receive his first action after being inactive through the first two weeks. However, the Ravens may find themselves taking a peek at the free-agent market for veteran help if the young receivers fail to step up immediately.

In Harbaugh’s Monday press conference, he also acknowledged — without being posed the question specifically — the continued trials of cornerback Domonique Foxworth, who continues to work his surgically-repaired right knee back to full health. The seventh-year veteran has given far too much cushion when pressed into duty and surrendered a short touchdown pass to Kenny Britt in the second quarter on Sunday.

“It’s definitely showing up in the way he’s playing,” Harbaugh said. “He’s playing very, very conservatively. He knows, we all know, we just have to get that [knee] right if that’s what it is.”

Confirming what many have speculated with both veterans not playing at 100 percent, Harbaugh acknowledged the possibility of Evans and Foxworth potentially being rested to aid in their rehabilitation in hopes of receiving better contributions as the season progresses.

The catch is the Ravens’ current lack of depth at cornerback and wide receiver due to injuries to defensive backs Jimmy Smith and Chris Carr and Reed’s shoulder injury. Whatever the case, it’s clear Harbaugh is not satisfied with what he’s seeing from Evans and Foxworth.

“If they can’t play the kind of football we need them to play — because they’re injured, no fault of theirs, these guys are gutting it out — then they’re going to have to sit for awhile and get healthy, and we’ll just have to see how that goes this week.”

Visit the BuyAToyota.com Audio Vault to hear Harbaugh’s Monday post-game press conference in its entirety right here.

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Ravens rule out Carr, J. Smith; Grubbs doubtful for Sunday

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Ravens rule out Carr, J. Smith; Grubbs doubtful for Sunday

Posted on 16 September 2011 by Luke Jones

OWINGS MILLS, Md. — Despite optimism regarding the treatment and rehabilitation he received for his injured toe on Friday, it appears Ben Grubbs will be unavailable to the Ravens on Sunday.

The starting left guard missed his third straight practice on Friday and is listed as doubtful for the Ravens’ Week 2 matchup with the Tennessee Titans. Earlier in the day, coach John Harbaugh labeled Grubbs as a game-time decision, but it’s likely the fifth-year lineman will miss the first game of his NFL career.

“Even though it’s a small part of your body, it’s a huge part in running around, pushing off, and blocking, especially for my position,” Grubbs said prior to the release of Friday’s injury report. “It’s my first time experiencing this, so I don’t really know what to expect. You just hope that, God willing, I’ll be able to play.”

Veteran backup center Andre Gurode will likely start in Grubbs’ place at left guard. The 10th-year veteran started 28 games at guard in 2003 and 2004 before being switched to center where he earned five Pro Bowl selections for the Cowboys.

The Ravens will also be undermanned in the secondary as both Jimmy Smith and Chris Carr were ruled out against Tennessee. Smith is expected to miss a few weeks with a high ankle sprain, but there was some hope that Carr would be able to play after aggravating his left hamstring in the first half against the Steelers last week.

Carr did not practice all week, and it appears the Ravens have shut him down for now in hopes of strengthening the hamstring that’s given him problems for over a month.

“I’m trying to be cautious and smart about it, and, definitely, I’m feeling good,” Carr said before being ruled out. “If I’m ready to play, then I’ll be ready, but we’re going to be smart about it.”

With Carr and Smith out, it likely means an increased workload for veteran Domonique Foxworth behind current starters Cary Williams and Lardarius Webb. Chykie Brown will also be available for Sunday’s game after being inactive last Sunday, but the Ravens would likely use versatile safety Haruki Nakamura as a nickel corner before turning to the rookie from Texas.

BALTIMORE
OUT – CB Jimmy Smith (ankle), CB Chris Carr (thigh)
DOUBTBUL – G Ben Grubbs (toe)
PROBABLE – WR Lee Evans (ankle), FB Vonta Leach (foot)

TENNESSEE
DOUBTFUL – S Chris Hope (shoulder)
QUESTIONABLE – DE William Hayes (shoulder), WR Damian Williams (hamstring)
PROBABLE – DE Jason Jones (knee), DE Derrick Morgan (knee), RB Javon Ringer (back)

Visit the BuyAToyota.com Audio Vault to hear more from John Harbaugh, Ben Grubbs, Andre Gurode, Chris Carr, and Chykie Brown right here.

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Live from Owings Mills: Evans returns to practice; Grubbs, Carr still missing

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Live from Owings Mills: Evans returns to practice; Grubbs, Carr still missing

Posted on 15 September 2011 by Luke Jones

OWINGS MILLS, Md. — As concern grew over Lee Evan’s injured left ankle on Wednesday, the wide receiver announced his intention to play against the Titans prior to returning to practice on Thursday.

After wearing a walking boot and not participating a day earlier, Evans arrived on the field dressed to practice and took part in drills with the other wide receivers during the portion of practice open to the media. Though unlikely to be 100 percent for the Week 2 matchup on Sunday, Evans will continue to work through the left ankle injury that’s hampered him since the third preseason game against the Washington Redskins.

Left guard Ben Grubbs was missing from practice for the second straight day and was seen wearing a walking boot on his right foot. He was listed with a toe injury on Wednesday’s official injury report after dealing with a thigh issue before the season opener against Pittsburgh. Should Grubbs not be able to play on Sunday, the Ravens would likely turn to backup center Andre Gurode — who also played guard during his time with the Dallas Cowboys — or veteran lineman Mark LeVoir to take his place on the starting offensive line.

Cornerbacks Jimmy Smith (high ankle sparin) and Chris Carr were not present during the portion of practice open to the media. Smith will not play against the Titans, but Carr’s absence for a second straight day further clouds his status for Sunday. With the Ravens possibly being down two cornerbacks against Tennessee, veteran Domonique Foxworth will likely be given an increased workload as was the case against the Steelers in an emergency fashion.

“[Foxworth] is coming,” defensive coordinator Chuck Pagano said. “He’s just going to get better and better, confidence wise, and the knee is going to get better each week. I expect him to keep playing at a high level.”

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Ravens suddenly hurting at cornerback with loss of Jimmy Smith

Posted on 12 September 2011 by Luke Jones

OWINGS MILLS, Md. — The cornerback position was one of the Ravens’ deepest units entering the season, and they’ll have use that depth after losing two corners in Sunday’s win against the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Rookie Jimmy Smith and veteran Chris Carr left the game in the first half and did not return. However, the high ankle sprain sustained by Smith on the kickoff following the Ravens’ first touchdown is considered the more serious of the two. Carr once again aggravated a left hamstring injury that’s lingered for four weeks.

Smith remained on crutches and a walking boot on Monday after an MRI revealed a high ankle sprain. The 27th overall pick in April’s draft is expected to miss a “few weeks” in the words of coach John Harbaugh.

“We’ll just have to see how it plays out,” Harbaugh said. “Hopefully, he’s a quick healer. That was a tough one. Hey, first kickoff, he runs down there, he’s fighting like crazy, and gets caught up in a pile.”

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With Smith leaving the game after the opening kickoff and Carr exiting in the second quarter, the Ravens mainly used the combination of starter Cary Williams and Lardarius Webb, with Domonique Foxworth — continuing to work his way back to full strength himself — entering to play corner in nickel and dime packages. At one point during Sunday’s game, Williams left the game due to cramping, leaving the Ravens with only two healthy corners available (rookie Chykie Brown was a gameday inactive). As a result, safety Haruki Nakamura filled in at the nickel spot.

Carr continues to deal with a hamstring issue sustained while covering receiver Lee Evans on a deep route in practice on Aug. 15. The veteran has practiced on a limited basis at several different points, but the team has been cautious with his workload in fear of making the injury worse.

“The good news is it’s not a tear, so it’s grabbing on him at times,” Harbaugh said. “One of these times he’s going to get through, and it’s not going to grab on him. The thing that we do want to avoid is we don’t want it to tear. That’s why we’ve shut him down pretty quick whenever he starts to have an issue with it.”

With Smith unavailable for the foreseeable future and Carr’s status remaining up in the air, the Ravens will lean more heavily on Foxworth’s services than they would probably prefer at this point in the season. Nakamura’s versatility provides another option in nickel and dime packages, but a position of good depth has suddenly become a question mark in the early portion of the season.

“When you’ve got guys that can play inside and outside, high or low as safeties, that kind of versatility is huge in a game like that when you start losing guys,” Harbaugh said. “It seems like you lose guys at the same position, at times, in games. Those guys that step up and do what they did is pretty important.”

In other news, wide receiver David Reed has returned to the team after serving a one-game suspension for violating the NFL’s substance-abuse policy, meaning the Ravens will need to make a move to clear a spot for him on the 53-man roster. Rookie defensive end Michael McAdoo is expected to be waived and presumably placed on the practice squad, but the move is not official yet, according to Harbaugh.

Listen to John Harbaugh’s entire Monday post-game press conference in the BuyAToyota.com Audio Vault right here.

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Ravens-Falcons Preseason Primer: What to watch

Posted on 31 August 2011 by Luke Jones

***Join us in the Purple Haze live chat beginning at 7:30 p.m. as we talk about the preseason finale and what to expect this season. For the quickest updates and analysis, follow WNST on Twitter and be sure to subscribe to the WNST Text Service.***

As the calendar turns to September, we’ve finally reached the light at the end of the preseason tunnel as the Ravens travel to Atlanta to take on the Falcons on Thursday night.

Of course, interest isn’t exactly bubbling over in the final preseason game, but plenty of players will be fighting for their professional lives, whether with Baltimore or the 31 other NFL teams that will trim down their rosters to 53 on Saturday.

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It’s unknown how long the starters will play against the Falcons, but John Harbaugh and the coaching staff will at least give the revamped offensive line — particularly newly-signed left tackle Bryant McKinnie — a brief look in live-game action during the first quarter. The reins will then be turned over to veteran backups and rookies trying to stake their final claims as to why they belong among the 53 that will take the field against the Pittsburgh Steelers on Sept. 11.

Series history

Thursday night marks the third time in four years the Ravens and Falcons will meet in the preseason finale and the seventh time in the last nine years they’ve faced off during the preseason. The Ravens hold a 4-3 edge in the preseason series between the two teams with five of those games being played at the Georgia Dome.

Baltimore and Atlanta have met four times in the regular season, splitting those games. The Falcons won the most recent contest, a 26-21 thriller that took place on a Thursday night in Atlanta last season.

Atlanta connections

Ravens cornerback Domonique Foxworth played for Atlanta in 2008, starting 10 of 14 games and grabbing one interception while defending 11 passes.

On the opposing side, the Falcons have two former Baltimore draft picks in fullback Ovie Mughelli and backup quarterback Chris Redman. Mughelli played his first four seasons (2003-06) with the Ravens while Redman, a former third-round pick, spent four seasons (2000-03) and made six starts in 2002 before going down with a back injury.

Falcons head coach Mike Smith was the Baltimore defensive assistant/defensive line coach and linebackers coach (1999-2002) and is the brother-in-law of former Ravens coach Brian Billick. Atlanta defensive backs coach Alvin Reynolds was the Ravens secondary coach during the franchise’s first three seasons in Baltimore (1996-98).

Ravens special teams coordinator Jerry Rosburg held the same position with the Falcons in 2007.

Injury report

Most starters will only see brief playing time while key veterans such as Ray Lewis and Ed Reed are unlikely to play at all in the final preseason game. However, the Ravens are still dealing with a few injuries where concern could linger into the first week of the regular season.

Right guard Marshal Yanda has returned to practice and is expected to see some playing time, but center Matt Birk’s status remains up in the air. The 35-year-old center returned to the practice field on Saturday after undergoing arthroscopic knee surgery at the beginning of training camp. When asked earlier in the week if he wanted to play against the Falcons, Birk said his goal was to be ready for the Sept. 11 opener.

Receiver Lee Evans (left foot), cornerback Chris Carr (hamstring), and offensive lineman Mark LeVoir were all absent from practice this week.

Evans hasn’t participated in practice since the third preseason game against Washington and was seen in a walking boot during Saturday’s practice. Carr has battled a left hamstring injury, which has forced him to miss the last two preseason games while being an intermittent participant during practices.

LeVoir’s injury is unknown as the swing lineman missed practice on Monday and Tuesday.

7 Bubble Players to Watch

1. LB Tavares Gooden – The 2008 third-round pick has never lived up to expectations, battling injuries and a perception of being a soft player in his first three seasons with the Ravens. Having fallen behind Jameel McClain, Dannell Ellerbe, and Brendon Ayanbadejo in the fight for playing time next to Ray Lewis in the Ravens’ 3-4 base defense, Gooden has to hope his play in the nickel package as well as his special teams contributions are enough to earn one of the final spots on the roster.

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Cameron, Pagano mum on Ravens’ key position battles

Posted on 22 August 2011 by Luke Jones

OWINGS MILLS, Md. — With the Ravens’ ever-important third preseason game coming up on Thursday, a number of key position battles still appear wide open, accompanied with varying degrees of concern as the regular season inches closer.

No competition has garnered more attention during camp than the right tackle position with rookie Jah Reid clearly gaining the early advantage over fourth-year lineman Oniel Cousins before the Ravens shifted the latter to guard last week. Though Reid held up well against Kansas City on Friday night, the Ravens signed veteran tackle Mark LeVoir on Saturday to give the 6-foot-7 rookie some competition and to boost depth on the offensive line.

Surprisingly, LeVoir took most of the reps with the first team on Monday while Reid worked with the second offense. LeVoir made two starts in 2008 and played in 32 games in his three seasons with the New England Patriots.

Whether LeVoir supplants Reid as the leader for the starting position or Reid uses the veteran’s arrival as extra motivation, right tackle will undoubtedly remain an area of concern regardless of who’s lining up against Pittsburgh on Sept. 11.

“I don’t know if it’s narrowed down to any point,” offensive coordinator Cam Cameron said. “We’re still evaluating everybody. This is a big game. Ultimately, we’ll go with our best five. We’ll see how that factors in. I wouldn’t say it’s this guy or that guy at this point. We all know Marshal’s played out there. We all know there’s other possibilities. What I will say though is I like what I see.”

On the defensive side of the ball, far healthier competition exists at multiple positions as opposed to the slim-pickings feel of the right tackle position.

Cornerback might be the most interesting battle of all with as many as five players fitting into the starting discussion. Many would have guessed rookie Jimmy Smith would be in the competition after a decorated career at Colorado made him the 27th overall pick, but the emergence of third-year cornerback Cary Williams has surprised even his biggest supporters.

With Domonique Foxworth still working his surgically-repaired knee back to full strength and Chris Carr hampered by a hamstring injury, Williams started against the Chiefs and responded with three pass breakups but did surrender a 4-yard touchdown catch to Terrance Copper right before halftime.

“We’ve got great competition going on,” defensive coordinator Chuck Pagano said. “We feel like they’re all doing what they’re supposed to do. We got guys in position to make some plays out there. We’ve got some guys making some, we’ve got some guys not finishing some plays — they’re right there.”

Smith drew the task of matching up against Pro Bowl receiver Dwayne Bowe and struggled to find the football despite respectable coverage in most cases. Interestingly enough, Foxworth took Smith’s spot with the first defense over the last two practices while the rookie worked primarily with the second team. The 6-foot-1 Williams remained with the first defense.

Is it a wake-up call for Smith or simply an opportunity to work Foxworth back into the starting lineup?

“Jimmy was in great position early in that ballgame,” Pagano said. “It was good for him to get some live action like that. The speed of the game is one thing that a guy like that comes from college and he’s not used to that and all of a sudden the ball’s on him, where they wouldn’t even dare throw it in college. That’s good to see.”

Regardless of who ends up lining up against Hines Ward and Mike Wallace at M&T Bank Stadium in a few weeks, the Ravens may have their deepest group of corners in quite some time with Smith, Foxworth, Williams, Carr, and Lardarius Webb all seeing time with the first team during training camp.

“The great thing is we have five guys that we trust, and there’s some other young guys that are doing a great job,” Pagano said. “[I] feel good about it.”

The annual competition at the inside linebacker spot next to Ray Lewis has provided little clarity as Jameel McClain and Dannell Ellerbe continue to battle for the starting job. McClain holds the edge in experience after starting 15 games last season, but Ellerbe’s immense potential leaves the Ravens encouraged, if not frustrated.

Ellerbe’s work ethic and maturity have come into question at different points during his brief two-year career despite having the edge in overall talent compared to McClain and Tavares Gooden in years past. However, Pagano sees maturity in the former Georgia linebacker, who started in place of Lewis on Friday as the veteran was excused from the team to deal with a serious family illness. Ellerbe responded with three tackles and a combined sack with Webb.

“Him and [McClain] are both starters in my mind, and they’re pushing each other,” Pagano said. “Whoever ends up starting opposite of Ray is going to do a great job. Dannell has — like a lot of the other young guys like Paul and some of these guys — really matured. You can see him just starting to shine [in] his confidence. He’s big, he’s physical, he’s fast, he can run, he can cover, he can do a lot of things. I feel really good about him.”

And perhaps the safest competition is taking place at the strong safety position with Bernard Pollard, Tom Zbikowski, and Haruki Nakamura all viable candidates. Zbikowski held the early lead during camp, but the addition of the hard-hitting Pollard has opened things up, with most thinking the former Houston Texan has the upper hand.

For now, Pagano is simply observing like the rest of us, wondering how the starting lineup will evolve in less than three weeks. One thing is certain: he likes what he sees on all accounts.

“It’s all going to shake itself out.”

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