Tag Archive | "Domonique Foxworth"

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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Mocking The 53: A Look At Roster Ahead of Preseason Finale

Posted on 30 August 2011 by Glenn Clark

OWINGS MILLS, Md. – The Baltimore Ravens travel to the Georgia Dome to meet the Atlanta Falcons Thursday night, the final opportunity for players on the roster “bubble” to impress Head Coach John Harbaugh and coordinators Cam Cameron, Chuck Pagano and Jerry Rosburg.

As I am no longer the Ravens beat reporter here at WNST I have deferred to Luke Jones for most of our coverage during Training Camp. I have had the chance to get out to 1 Winning Drive this week, so I decided I would bring back “Mocking The 53” to get a look at how the team may trim the roster from 80 players to 53.

As I’ve explained before, the team does not have a certain number of players they keep at each position, so I have never done this breakdown by position. Instead, I offer what is more like a “power ranking” of players from 1-80.

Keep in mind, GM Ozzie Newsome is likely to make an addition or two (a veteran backup quarterback-perhaps still Marc Bulger namely) before either Saturday’s cut day or the team’s opener September 11 against the Pittsburgh Steelers at M&T Bank Stadium.

1. DT Haloti Ngata
2. QB Joe Flacco
3. LB Terrell Suggs
4. RB Ray Rice
5. WR Anquan Boldin
6. S Ed Reed
7. LB Ray Lewis
8. G Ben Grubbs
9. G Marshal Yanda
10. CB Jimmy Smith

Whether or not Smith is a starter on September 11 is the only issue in this group. All of these guys are clearly on the team and significant contributors.

11. OT Michael Oher
12. WR Lee Evans
13. FB Vonta Leach
14. DE Cory Redding
15. P Sam Koch
16. TE Ed Dickson
17. S Bernard Pollard
18. K Billy Cundiff
19. DT Terrence Cody
20. LB Jarret Johnson

Like the first group, the players in the group above are all safely on the roster and are expected to be significant contributors.

21. CB Cary Williams
22. S Tom Zbikowski
23. C Matt Birk
24. OT Bryant McKinnie
25. CB Chris Carr
26. S Haruki Nakamura
27. TE Dennis Pitta
28. RB Ricky Williams
29. LB Jameel McClain
30. WR Torrey Smith

There’s no drama in this group either. McClain still appears to be the frontrunner for the other starting ILB job, while the team has remained steadfast in their support of Torrey Smith despite struggles. There’s a chance he’s not the third receiver on September 11, but he’s absolutely safe 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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Foxworth still working way back into Ravens secondary

Posted on 21 August 2011 by Luke Jones

OWINGS MILLS, Md. — While most eyes were on the Ravens’ young tandem of rookie Jimmy Smith and third-year surprise Cary Williams making their first preseason starts on Friday night, another cornerback saw his first action as well.

Veteran Domonique Foxworth, more than a year removed from the ACL injury that ended his 2010 season at the start of training camp — saw a limited number of snaps against the Kansas City Chiefs. He continues an uphill recovery that’s left him frustrated at different points during the offseason and training camp, forcing him to miss practice time and the preseason opener in Philadelphia.

“I’m getting better,” Foxworth said. “Through the course of a day, I’ll have some plays where I feel great and some plays where I don’t feel so great. I’m trying to ease my way back in there.”

Foxworth saw a limited number of plays with the second defense and has worked with the second unit in recent practices, designed to limit his action as well as build confidence in the surgically-repaired knee. The 28-year-old cornerback was determined to be ready by the start of training camp but soon learned the importance of pacing himself.

“We talked about it before,” Foxworth said. “I think they want to be smart and try to keep me on a pitch count so to speak, I guess, is the best way to describe it. Early on in camp, I made the mistake of being a little overzealous and it set me back a little bit, but I think we’re trying to be a little more smart this time around.”

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While Foxworth has slowly worked his way back in hopes of securing the starting job he held in 2009 after signing a four-year, $28 million contract that offseason, a number of young corners have heated up the competition, particularly Smith and Williams. Many players might feel threatened by the increased level of competition, but not Foxworth, who not only battled the disappointment of the injury last summer but also a feeling of letting down his teammates and fans.

What was previously viewed as one of the Ravens’ biggest areas of weakness a season ago has transformed into a unit of great depth with Foxworth, Chris Carr, Lardarius Webb, Smith, and Williams all being held in high regard by defensive coordinator Chuck Pagano. Having so many starting options has eased Foxworth’s nerves while he continues to recover.

“It’s been stressful, but the encouraging thing is seeing how good the rest of the corners on the team are,” Foxworth said. “Last year, one of the most difficult things for me to deal with was kind of leaving a bit of a hole on the team that you feel responsible for. This year, we’re really deep and really talented, so no matter what happens with any one or two guys, we have other guys who can step in and do just as good a job.”

Some have questioned why Foxworth’s recovery has taken so long after suffering the injury on the eve of full-squad workouts last summer in Westminster — Lardarius Webb and former Ravens cornerback Fabian Washington suffered similar injuries late in the 2009 season and were ready for training camp the following year — but the absence of an offseason program and access to the Ravens training facility are factors many overlook, according to head coach John Harbaugh. The coach is pleased with Foxworth’s progress after several weeks of practice.

“He didn’t have the offseason with us, so that made probably a slower [recovery] process,” Harbaugh said. “It was really a matter of pushing it, then forcing it to recover, pushing it, then forcing it to recover. It seems like he can push it a little harder and it takes a little less recovery time now for the soreness or whatever to go away. It seems like he’s doing well.

“I think what you’re going to see is how well he plays, how well does he change direction, accelerate, break on balls, things like that. That seems to be getting better everyday.”

The challenge of recovering from an ACL injury is daunting enough for any player, but it becomes magnified at the cornerback position where you’re often playing on an island. When pressed whether it’s more difficult for a defensive back to bounce back quickly from that type of injury, Foxworth exuded the same faith in himself that’s taken him from Western Tech to the University of Maryland and, eventually, the Ravens.

“It might be [more difficult] if you’re not a confident guy,” Foxworth said. “I’m pretty confident. You can look at me, I’m handsome, fast, quick. I’m modest, humble. It doesn’t take much for me to be confident.”

Injury updates

Cornerback Chris Carr and guard Marshal Yanda returned to practice on a limited basis. Carr sat out the latter half of practice while Yanda did some work during the early positional period before leaving the field.

Linebacker Jarret Johnson sat out Sunday’s practice while dealing with a back issue.

Safety Ed Reed rested during Sunday’s workout as he has been given the liberty to do at different points during training camp.

Harbaugh provided an update on center Matt Birk, who underwent knee surgery several weeks ago and is still being counted upon to return for the regular season opener against the Pittsburgh Steelers on Sept. 11.

“He’s progressing,” Harbaugh said. “It was supposed to be three to four weeks before he’d be moving around pretty well. Now he’s starting to walk a little bit. I’m anxious; I want to see him out here sooner rather than later, but it’s not something that we really control.”

Lewis returns to team

After being excused from the team to deal with a serious illness within his family, linebacker Ray Lewis returned to practice. He did not play against Kansas City as Dannell Ellerbe made the start in his place.

“Family always comes first and is the most important part of our lives,” Lewis said in a statement released by the Ravens. “I want to thank everyone for every prayer and thought they’ve provided. I’d also like to give a special thanks to the coaches and Ravens organization who have always put family first and allowed me to leave and take care of my family during this very hard time. We will get through this together as a family and with God. Thank you again for the thoughts and prayers and for respecting our privacy during this challenging time.”

Visit the BuyAToyota.com Audio Vault to hear more from John Harbaugh, Domonique Foxworth, and Cary Williams following Sunday’s practice in Owings Mills.

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Ravens-Chiefs Preseason Primer: What to watch tonight

Posted on 18 August 2011 by Luke Jones

***Join us in the Purple Haze live chat beginning at 7:30 p.m. as WNST.net brings you live coverage from M&T Bank Stadium. For the quickest updates and analysis, follow WNST on Twitter and be sure to subscribe to the WNST Text Service.***

Playing their preseason home opener on Friday night, the Ravens envision a better showing against the Kansas City Chiefs after a lackluster effort in Philadelphia last week.

Coach John Harbaugh said starters will play well into the second quarter, a higher workload than you’ll typically find in the second preseason game, in an effort to accelerate the development of a young offense with question marks along the offensive line. With starting lineman Matt Birk (knee surgery) and Marshal Yanda (back spams) current sidelined, the Ravens will use Bryan Mattison at center, Oniel Cousins at right guard, and rookie Jah Reid at tackle — an uncomfortable proposition for quarterback Joe Flacco.

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Friday will also mark the preseason debuts for newly-acquired veterans Ricky Williams and Lee Evans. Williams had only practiced once prior to the opener against the Eagles, and the Ravens traded a fourth-round pick to Buffalo to bring the veteran wideout Evans to Baltimore a day after the Ravens’ 13-6 loss last week.

The Ravens will also welcome three former players back to Baltimore as defensive tackle Kelly Gregg, fullback Le’Ron McClain, and offensive tackle Jared Gaither all signed with the Chiefs after spending multiple years in Baltimore. Gregg was released to create salary cap space while McClain and Gaither departed as unrestricted free agents.

Series history

The Ravens and Kansas City have never met in the preseason, but Baltimore’s 30-7 thrashing over the Chiefs in the Wild Card round last year will be fresh on everyone’s mind.

However, the Chiefs hold a slight advantage in the regular season series, 3-2. Kansas City won the first three meetings between the two AFC teams before the Ravens earned victories in 2006 and 2009.

Kansas City connections

In addition to the three former Ravens now on the Kansas City roster, there are several other links between the two teams.

Safety Bernard Pollard began his NFL career with the Chiefs after being selected by them in the second round of the 2006 draft. He played three seasons in Kansas City, accumulating 189 tackles, three interceptions, and one sack before being released prior to the start of the 2009 season.

Chiefs receiver Terrance Copper played two games for the Ravens in the 2008 season, Harbaugh’s first season as head coach. On the flip side, Ravens kicker Billy Cundiff spent time during the 2008 offseason on the Kansas City roster.

Chiefs defensive line coach Anthony Pleasant played defensive end for the Ravens in their inaugural season of 1996 after spending the first six years of his career in Cleveland.

Kansas City tackle Branden Albert (Glen Burnie) and receivers coach Richie Anderson (Sandy Springs) are Maryland natives.

And perhaps the most interesting connection is Chiefs general manager Scott Pioli’s former role as the pro personnel coordinator for the Ravens in 1996. Pioli moved to Baltimore from Cleveland, where he worked as a personnel assistant for the Browns for four seasons.

Injury report

Yanda (back spasms) will not play after missing five straight days of practice this week, though Harbaugh is hopeful the guard can return for next week’s game against Washington. Birk has been sidelined since the first full week of camp after undergoing arthroscopic knee surgery.

Cornerback Chris Carr missed practice on Tuesday and Wednesday after straining his hamstring in Monday’s workout, leaving his status against the Chiefs in doubt.

Others not expected to play include receiver James Hardy (hamstring), running back Damien Berry (leg), and defensive back Marcus Paschal.

Receiver David Reed missed practice on Wednesday after being activated from the physically-unable-to-perform list at the beginning of the week.

Veteran cornerback Domonique Foxworth has increased his workload in practice in recent days as he continues to work his way back from the ACL injury that wiped out his entire 2010 season. The former Maryland star has worked with the second team while rookie Jimmy Smith and third-year player Cary Williams took reps with the starting defense. Foxworth did not play in the preseason opener.

7 Players to Watch

1. WR Lee Evans – Friday night’s game will mark one week since the Ravens acquired Evans from the Bills. The eighth-year veteran stepped into the starting lineup on his first day of practice, but Evans still needs to develop timing with Flacco. The former Wisconsin Badger has shown impressive speed in practice, including a fly route on Monday that caused Carr to pull up lame.

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Live from Owings Mills: C. Williams, J. Smith work with starting defense

Posted on 14 August 2011 by Luke Jones

OWINGS MILLS, Md. — The Ravens had their full allotment of cornerbacks on the practice field Sunday, making the two players working with the first defense all the more surprising.

Rookie Jimmy Smith and third-year defensive back Cary Williams played extensively with the starting defense as Chris Carr and Lardarius Webb — the starters in the preseason opener — rotated inside in nickel and dime packages. Veteran Domonique Foxworth practiced on a limited basis but did not take reps in 11-on-11 team sessions as he continues to work his way back to full strength from ACL surgery a year ago.

Smith’s involvement with the starting defense should not surprise too many people, given the fact that the Ravens viewed him as a top-10 talent when they selected him with the 27th overall pick in April. However, seeing the 6-foot-1 Williams work with the first unit was a product of his strong play in camp and performance against the Eagles last Thursday.

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“A guy deserves an opportunity,” coach John Harbaugh, who wanted to get a look at how Williams and Smith fit with the rest of the starting defense. “He’s played really well, and we try to do that. We always say the best guys play the most, and he’s earned that. It’s nothing against anybody else. I think everybody’s played well, but we’ll see how he looks in there and see how he does.”

It’s important to remember this was only one practice, but the sheer size of Williams (6-foot-1) and Smith (6-foot-2) would be an intriguing element before you even factor in their impressive athleticism. Regardless of whether Williams finds himself on the field on Sept. 11 or this was simply a cameo appearance, it’s pretty apparent that his roster spot is pretty safe after most expected him to compete with rookie Chykie Brown for the fifth cornerback job.

Visit the BuyAToyota.com Audio Vault to hear more from John Harbaugh following Sunday’s practice.

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It’s Only August, But No Concerns Addressed In Preseason Week 1 Loss

Posted on 11 August 2011 by Glenn Clark

PHILADELPHIA, Pa. — Just keep saying it.

It’s only August.

It’s only August.

The Baltimore Ravens are still a ways away from their regular season opener September 11 against the Pittsburgh Steelers at M&T Bank Stadium.

It’s probably for the best, as they looked to be just about as far away from compete football in their 13-6 loss to the Philadelphia Eagles Thursday night at Lincoln Financial Field.

It’s only August.

It’s fair to assume the team would be behind where they might in others had they not lost OTA’s and the start of Training Camp due to the NFL lockout.

“Everybody is (behind where they would be in other years). Obviously we’ve got tons of work to do” said head coach John Harbaugh following the loss. “We’ve just gotta get better faster than the people that we’re going to play. That’s our job.”

It’s only August.

While starters played little time in Philly, the Ravens showed little cohesion throughout the exhibition contest.

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Ravens hope Thursday night vs. Eagles answers questions

Posted on 10 August 2011 by Ryan Chell

Thursday night at Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia is the moment Ravens fans have all been in anticipation of as for the first time-even if it’s in exhibition mode-we will get a look at what the 2011 Ravens have in store when it comes to the product on the field.

With the labor turmoil behind us and now the focus solely on the game of football, coach John Harbaugh will now look to his expanded roster to see if there are going to be any concerns going forward in preseason as the team prepares for its Week 1 opener against the Steelers September 11th.

Here is a position-by-position look at some of the question marks going into Thursday against the Eagles, and hopefully some things we hope to see out of those players in the way of answers.

Quarterback-Obviously, Joe Flacco will start Thursday and will likely see two series of work or about a quarter of action. Flacco-who has improved his statistics in each of his first three seasons-doesn’t need to prove anything to anyone; however, he may need to get some game-action with some new faces. It will be interesting to see if Flacco continues to rely on Anquan Boldin as a security blanket early on, or if we see the eventual building of a rapport between Flacco and one of the newer faces in the receiving corps.

Once Flacco leaves, it will be on sixth-round pick Tyrod Taylor-who took a significant step forward his senior year at Virginia Tech-to try and prove he deserves the backup role to Joe Flacco. In camp so far, he has been back-and-forth with his accuracy, and it will be on Taylor to show the coaching staff they can have faith in a rookie as Joe Flacco’s backup-maybe the only backup at the position. If not, it gives 2010 practice squad quarterback Hunter Cantwell, who at least has more experience with the playbook than Taylor, to show what he can do under center.

Running Back-Running back Ray Rice will get his first taste of NFL action this year, but in this case, it will be a nibble. The Ravens definitely don’t want to risk injury to a player who is going to get a considerable amount of touches offensively-not just in the running game but also screen passes from Joe Flacco.

Also not playing Thursday will be the newly added Ricky Williams, who still may not be ready to suit up for the Ravens after signing this week. He is familiar with OC Cam Cameron’s playbook from their time in Miami, but all this means is that rookie Anthony Allen, Jalen Parmele, and Damien Berry will battle for carries and a roster spot or two behind Rice and Williams. Vonta Leach and the only other remaining FB on the roster, rookie free agent Ryan Mahaffey out of Northern Iowa, will clear the running lanes.

Wide Receivers-Behind the given in  Boldin, this is a position where the Ravens are going to need immediate impact from some younger players, most notably two of their draft picks in Torrey Smith and Tandon Doss. Quarterback Joe Flacco has sworn by the route-running ability of Doss, the Ravens’ fourth-round pick and Smith has made several big plays during drills in camp.

However, Smith needs to prove that he can be a reliable option across from Boldin. Smith needs to focus on making catches outside of his body, which has caused the former Terp to drop several passes in camp.

Outside of Smith and Doss, it will be interesting to see if veterans Brandon Jones (Titans) and James Hardy (Bills) can make plays against some lesser competition across from them. It they do, it could help their causes in making the roster. Hardy-at 6’5, 220, could be a valuable asset in the red zone and along the sideline if shows the ability to go up and get a jump ball over a defender. Other players like Marcus Smith, Justin Harper, LaQuan Williams, etc need to make plays otherwise they’ll be finding their way off the roster.

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