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Ravens-Lions preseason primer: Five players to watch

Posted on 26 August 2016 by Luke Jones

Our longest look at Ravens starters in the preseason will be our only look at some in Saturday’s game against Detroit on Saturday night.

The much-awaited return of starting quarterback Joe Flacco will be the dominating story in the “dress rehearsal” for the regular season, but head coach John Harbaugh would like to see a good showing from his starting units that likely will still be without the likes of Steve Smith, Breshad Perriman, and Elvis Dumervil. For a team that did more minor tweaking than overhauling after a 5-11 season, many questions remains.

“Either we’re going to be good or we’re not,” Harbaugh said. “It’s what we do, not what we say. We can talk about it all we want. I have reasons for optimism, and I have reasons for pessimism. It’s just going to matter how well we coach, how well we play.

“You have to do your part. Your part is to get better. Your part is not to stay the same. If you stay the same, you’re getting worse. If you’re not getting better, you’re getting worse. You never stay the same. Your goal has to be to come out here and get better, and it’s hard to do.”

Most starters are expected to play the entire first half before giving way to younger players and fringe veterans fighting for roster spots. It will be a good opportunity for Flacco to get his first live-game reps with veteran newcomers Benjamin Watson and Mike Wallace, who have played very little in the preseason and have yet to register as much as a catch between them.

The Ravens will see a number of old friends across the field on Saturday night. Not only will five-time Pro Bowl defensive tackle Haloti Ngata be making his return to M&T Bank Stadium, but fellow Super Bowl XLVII champions Anquan Boldin and Josh Bynes and former assistant coaches Jim Caldwell and Teryl Austin will be on the opposing side.

Flacco was asked whether he’d ask the 345-pound Ngata before the game to take care of him should the two meet in the pocket during Saturday’s game.

“I don’t think so,” said the 31-year-old quarterback as he laughed. “It will be interesting to see him. I’m used to seeing him over there [on defense during practices], but it will be interesting seeing him in some other colors for sure.”

Saturday marks the fourth time that these teams have met in the preseason with the Ravens holding a 2-1 edge to go with their 3-1 advantage in all-time regular-season meetings. Baltimore has built a 22-12 record in preseason games during the Harbaugh era.

Unofficial (and largely speculative) injury report

The Ravens are not required to release an injury report like they do for regular-season games, but I’ve offered my best guess on what the injury report would look like if one were to be released ahead of Saturday night’s game against Detroit.

Most of the players ruled to be out will come as no surprise, but the status of a few will remain in question. Of course, this list does not consider any veteran players who could be held out of the preseason opener due to the coaching staff’s preference.

Again, this is not an official injury report released by the Ravens:

OUT: WR Steve Smith (Achilles), WR Breshad Perriman (knee), TE Dennis Pitta (finger/hip), RB Lorenzo Taliaferro (foot), S Matt Elam (knee), DE Bronson Kaufusi (ankle)
DOUBTFUL: LB Elvis Dumervil (foot), LB Za’Darius Smith (ankle), CB Kyle Arrington (head), S Kendrick Lewis (undisclosed), TE Maxx Williams (undisclosed), G John Urschel (contusion)
QUESTIONABLE: LB Terrell Suggs (Achilles), DT Brandon Williams (undisclosed), WR Chris Matthews (soft tissue injury), CB Maurice Canady (hamstring), TE Darren Waller (jaw), CB Jerraud Powers (undisclosed)

Five players to watch Saturday night

LB Matt Judon

With other edge defenders expected to be sidelined against the Lions, the rookie fifth-round pick has a great opportunity to etch out a role as a rotational pass rusher if he can build on what he’s done in the first two preseason games against tougher competition on Saturday. Harbaugh and defensive coordinator Dean Pees have spoken highly of Judon’s combination of size and quickness, so it will be interesting to see how he fares against first-team blockers. The Ravens need someone to emerge as an impact pass rusher behind Suggs and Dumervil, and Judon has propelled himself into that conversation.

RB Buck Allen

The second-year back had a 19-yard touchdown reception in the preseason opener, but he’s carried the ball 10 times for only 20 yards and has no other receiving yards beyond that score. Allen has clear ability as a receiver out of the backfield, but you’d like to see him show more as a runner between the tackles after he averaged an unspectacular 3.8 yards per carry as a rookie. With Terrance West showing improvement as a rusher and rookie Kenneth Dixon looking like a potential change-of-pace back, the 2015 fourth-round pick is still waiting to make a statement of his own this summer.

CB Will Davis

While Shareece Wright and Jerraud Powers have struggled in the preseason, Davis is trending upward as he has looked healthier and quicker since struggling early in camp. The Ravens knew he had the ability to play on the outside, but he held up surprisingly well playing some slot cornerback against Indianapolis, which is something worth monitoring moving forward. The organization obviously thought enough of Davis to send a seventh-round pick to Miami last year, so it will be interesting to see if the 2013 third-round pick will climb the depth chart as he moves further away from knee surgery.

G Vlad Ducasse

The seventh-year veteran isn’t a lock to make the team, but the other options in the competition at left guard lack experience while he’s started 22 games over his career. His performance against the Colts wasn’t quite as stellar as it was against Carolina, but Ducasse figures to improve his chances with a strong showing against the Lions while third-year guard John Urschel is expected to be sidelined again. The Ravens don’t have great depth at tackle, but Marshal Yanda and Alex Lewis have the ability to play outside, meaning a guard like Ducasse could receive the nod over a reserve tackle like De’Ondre Wesley.

CB Tavon Young

A hamstring injury sustained in the preseason opener slowed a fast start to his first training camp, but Young figures to have a chance to show what he can do at the nickel spot while veterans such as Powers and Kyle Arrington are likely to be sidelined against the Lions. Despite only being 5-foot-9, Young has shown a nose for the football and impressive confidence for a rookie cornerback. At the very least, the Ravens are looking for him to be a major contributor on kickoff and punt coverage units and potentially as a kick returner, which remains an unsettled position on this current roster.

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Za’Darius Smith, Steve Smith not expected to play for Ravens on Saturday

Posted on 25 August 2016 by Luke Jones

OWINGS MILLS, Md. — Quarterback Joe Flacco will make his much-anticipated return to the field against Detroit on Saturday, but the Ravens are expecting to be without several key figures for the “dress rehearsal” before the start of the 2016 season.

Veterans recently returning from injury such as wide receiver Steve Smith and linebackers Terrell Suggs and Elvis Dumervil were never considered sure bets to play against Detroit, but second-year outside linebacker Za’Darius Smith was absent from Thursday’s walk-through with a sprained ankle.

“Za’Darius has a little ankle issue that he had yesterday in practice,” head coach John Harbaugh said. “It’s not a major thing. I doubt he’ll play. There’s no sense putting him out there with a sprained ankle.”

Harbaugh said Suggs was “fine” despite not being present for Thursday’s light practice, but his absence leads one to believe his status could be in doubt for the third preseason game. The 33-year-old rush linebacker returned to the practice field on Aug. 15 after an 11-month absence due to a torn left Achilles tendon and expressed interest last week in getting some live-game reps in the preseason.

Dumervil and Steve Smith were both present for Thursday’s walk-through, but they only returned to the practice field in the last few days.

“He’s not playing in this game, at least that I know of,” said Harbaugh about the 37-year-old Smith, who tore his right Achilles tendon less than 10 months ago. “We’ll see. Maybe he’ll decide [he wants to play] tomorrow.”

The potential absences of Za’Darius Smith, Suggs, and Dumervil would open the door for rookie edge defender Matt Judon to receive action against Detroit’s first-team offense. Harbaugh and defensive coordinator Dean Pees said this week that they’d like to evaluate the fifth-round pick against tougher competition after he collected two sacks and nine tackles over the first two preseason games against second- and third-team offenses.

Harbaugh wouldn’t officially rule out second-year receiver Breshad Perriman from Saturday’s game, but he’s all but guaranteed to sit out against Detroit after only returning to practice on Tuesday.

“We’ll see. It’s up to the doctors,” Harbaugh said. “They’ll let me know. We’ll meet on that this afternoon — docs and trainers — and see where he’s at with that. He hasn’t gone full speed in practice, as you know, but today’s not a full-speed practice for anybody, so we’ll just have to see.”

Others unlikely to play on Saturday after extended absences from practice include nose tackle Brandon Williams (undisclosed), guard John Urschel (contusion), tight ends Dennis Pitta (broken finger) and Maxx Williams (undisclosed), cornerbacks Kyle Arrington (concussion) and Jerraud Powers (undisclosed), and safety Kendrick Lewis (undisclosed).

Players definitely out for Saturday’s game include running back Lorenzo Taliaferro (foot), safety Matt Elam (knee), and defensive end Bronson Kaufusi (broken ankle). Taliaferro remains on the physically unable to perform list while Elam and Kaufusi are candidates to be placed on injured reserve at the end of the summer.

Tight end Darren Waller (jaw) and cornerback Maurice Canady (hamstring) both returned to the field to participate in Thursday’s walk-through after exiting the second preseason game early with injuries.

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Perriman, Dumervil come off Ravens’ PUP list

Posted on 22 August 2016 by Luke Jones

OWINGS MILLS, Md. — After Ravens outside linebacker Elvis Dumervil returned to the practice field on Monday morning, head coach John Harbaugh announced a teammate would be joining him in coming off the physically unable to perform list.

Sidelined since suffering a partially-torn anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee during organized team activities in June, wide receiver Breshad Perriman was set to take part in the afternoon walk-through. Harbaugh says he’s excited to see Perriman practice, but he acknowledged that the 2015 first-round pick would be brought back to practices slowly as he works his way into football shape.

The 6-foot-2, 215-pound Central Florida product missed his entire rookie season with a partially-torn posterior cruciate ligament in his right knee sustained on the first day of training camp.

“I’m sure we’ll all be holding our breath a little bit. It’s just natural,” Harbaugh said. “But he’s in great spirits — I can tell you that. He’s worked extremely hard. I think he’s really grown through all of this, and he’s learned how to really work at the rehab. You know he’s been forced to do that, so I’m looking forward to seeing how he looks when he comes back.”

With Perriman not having practiced to this point, many had begun speculating that he would begin the regular season on the reserve PUP list, which would have sidelined him for at least the first six games. However, Monday’s activation makes it clear that the Ravens are confident that he is healthy enough to return to live-game action sooner rather than later.

Meanwhile, Dumervil was taking part in his first practice since undergoing offseason foot surgery. Entering his 11th NFL season and fourth with the Ravens, the five-time Pro Bowl linebacker made it clear his primary concern is being ready for Buffalo on Sept. 11.

It remains to be seen whether he or Perriman will play in the preseason.

“That’s a day-by-day situation. We’ll see how that works out,” Dumervil said. “The goal is for the opener for sure. If I can try to get a preseason [game] in, that would be awesome. If not, then I’m looking forward to the opener.”

Also returning to the practice field on Monday was wide receiver Chris Matthews, who had missed two weeks with a soft-tissue injury.

Other absences included tight ends Dennis Pitta (finger) and Maxx Williams, guard John Urschel (contusion), defensive backs Kyle Arrington (head) and Kendrick Lewis. New players missing from practice after Saturday’s preseason win were safety Matt Elam (knee), cornerbacks Jerraud Powers and Maurice Canady (hamstring), and nose tackle Brandon Williams.

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Suggs is back, but what does he have left for the Ravens?

Posted on 15 August 2016 by Luke Jones

OWINGS MILLS, Md. — Ravens linebacker Terrell Suggs’ comeback from a torn Achilles tendon is much different this time around.

Unlike four years ago when he made a Herculean return in less than six months to help the Ravens win the AFC North and Super Bowl XLVII, the severe injury to his left heel suffered 11 months ago allowed no chance for a return in 2015. The 33-year-old took his time to rehab, disappearing from the public eye aside from a surprise sideline appearance to watch the Ravens beat Pittsburgh last December and the news of a traffic-related arrest in early March.

Having spoken to the media just once since tearing his left Achilles tendon in the 2015 opener, Suggs took the practice field Monday with little ceremony or warning beyond head coach John Harbaugh acknowledging last week that he had been holding the six-time Pro Bowl linebacker back from returning. He didn’t speak to reporters after the workout, instead issuing a statement through the team declaring that “Darth Sizzle” was back.

Appearing to be in good shape and moving well, Suggs participated sparingly in Monday’s practice and was quieter than usual on the sideline as veteran defensive end Lawrence Guy jokingly introduced himself to the “new” player at one point. Suggs did loosen up as the session went on, shimmying to the music blaring through the on-field speakers and later telling defensive teammates that backup quarterback Ryan Mallett was about to throw them an interception.

Taunting a quarterback in the middle of practice? Suggs was officially back.

What his return truly means for the Ravens’ chances in 2016, however, remains to be seen. We just don’t know what kind of player he will be as he enters his 14th season in Baltimore and comes back from his second Achilles injury — this one to the opposite leg — in a four-year period. Even when he returned from the first injury at age 30, Suggs wasn’t really himself again until the following year as he collected only two sacks in eight regular-season games in 2012.

At the conclusion of a nightmare 2015 season in which Suggs was one of 20 players to finish the year on injured reserve, the Ravens’ brass made it clear how much the 2011 AP Defensive Player of the Year was missed. Already entering the season trying to fill the void of free-agent departure Pernell McPhee, the Ravens were forced to use both Elvis Dumervil and Courtney Upshaw in every-down capacities after they had essentially platooned in previous years. Za’Darius Smith was also forced to step into a bigger-than-expected role as a fourth-round rookie.

Baltimore finished tied for 17th in the NFL with 37 sacks after collecting 49 the year before. Without Suggs’ exceptional ability against the run, the defense allowed 4.0 yards per carry for just the second time in franchise history.

“Once we lost [Suggs], it was different in the second half of the season than it was the first half,” defensive coordinator Dean Pees said. “We really totally adapted the scheme the second half of the season because we knew we didn’t have him anymore. Meanwhile, we had already committed to the first half and we tried to adapt, but it wasn’t as good as we wanted it to be.

“Having him in there for a full season would be a great thing.”

Besides Suggs’ obvious football talents, the Ravens missed his energy and leadership as the face of the defense in the post-Ray Lewis era. The talent level and coaching primarily came under fire in a 5-11 season, but the unit sorely lacked the swagger that’s been part of its DNA for the better part of two decades in Baltimore.

The arrival of veteran newcomer Eric Weddle this offseason has brought needed leadership in the secondary, but the Ravens still hadn’t been nearly as boisterous during summer practices without Suggs.

“It is different, especially without ‘Sizz’ keeping everybody with a smile on their face with his sayings and his character coming through,” sixth-year linebacker Albert McClellan said over the weekend. “It is a little different. We haven’t found anybody to act like that.”

The Ravens know what Suggs brings in terms of intangibles and experience, but what kind of production will they get from him in 2016?

Expecting him to be the player that he was in 2014 isn’t a given as Father Time eventually catches up to everyone — even those not coming off serious injuries. Young options such as Smith and 2016 draft picks Kamalei Correa and Matt Judon have flashed promise, but expecting any passing-of-the-torch scenario would be premature at best.

Is Suggs capable of playing just under 80 percent of the Ravens’ defensive snaps at a high level like he did in his last full season? Or, will he be better suited for a situational role as this late stage of his career?

“I think it’s going to depend on the team and what kind of scheme they run, whether it’s a running team, passing team, or if they’re a wide-open team,” Pees said. “The good thing is I think we have some guys that can play and can spell guys. I don’t know if anyone would have to play a 70- or 80-play game. I’m hoping we don’t have to play 80-play games on defense. Time will tell.”

Based on their deficiencies from last year and where younger options are in their development, the Ravens need the “old” Suggs — not an old one — to surface if they’re to be a serious contender in the AFC in 2016.

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Clock ticking on injured Ravens players to see preseason action

Posted on 14 August 2016 by Luke Jones

The 2016 season opener against Buffalo is still four weeks away, but the Ravens practicing without a whopping 23 players raised a few eyebrows on Saturday morning.

Of course, the Ravens were less than two days removed from their first preseason game and most of their current injuries aren’t major concerns, but we’re entering the point in the summer when you wonder if a handful of players in the midst of long-term absences will be back in time to appear in the preseason. This is especially true for the five players still on the active physically unable to perform list: wide receivers Steve Smith and Breshad Perriman, linebackers Terrell Suggs and Elvis Dumervil, and running back Lorenzo Taliaferro.

The clock is ticking.

Head coach John Harbaugh said last week that Suggs was the closest of the players on the PUP list to return to action, but you’d think he would need to begin practicing at some point this week to start getting into football shape if the goal is for the 33-year-old to get some reps in the “dress rehearsal” third preseason game. Saturday marked 11 months since Suggs tore his left Achilles tendon in the 2015 opener in Denver.

Still working his way back to full strength from his own Achilles injury, the 37-year-old Smith appears unlikely to play in the preseason and has expressed little concern about doing so. After undergoing an offseason foot surgery, Dumervil’s status for the preseason also remains unknown despite the Ravens not expressing any worry about his availability for the start of the regular season.

Perriman is the most interesting case after he suffered a partially-torn anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee in June. Renowned orthopedic surgeon Dr. James Andrews determined at the time that he would not need season-ending ACL reconstruction surgery, but the 2015 first-round pick has practiced so little over the last calendar year and wasn’t able to work with Joe Flacco this spring as the starting quarterback was still rehabbing his surgically-repaired left knee.

Considering he is essentially a rookie without even as much as a complete full-squad practice under his belt in the NFL, the Ravens would like to see Perriman get his feet wet in the preseason in a perfect world — one that assumes his knee is healthy. And if he’s to get some game time with Flacco this summer, the third preseason game would have to be the target with starters likely to sit out the summer finale.

It will be interesting to see how the Ravens handle Taliaferro with four other running backs clearly ahead of him on the depth chart. It might make sense to take advantage of his status by having the 2014 fourth-round pick begin the regular season on the reserve PUP list, which means he would not take a spot on the 53-man roster. Under that scenario, Taliaferro wouldn’t be eligible to be activated until Week 7, but perhaps there would be more clarity at the running back position in terms of both established roles and health at that point.

As for players not on the PUP list who are dealing with injuries, wide receiver Chris Moore (foot) hasn’t practiced since late July and is missing valuable practice time after turning some heads over the first couple days of training camp.

Arguably the most disappointing injury to come out of Thursday’s game was to cornerback Tavon Young, who hurt his left hamstring in the fourth quarter. Harbaugh did not offer a timetable for his return, but the rookie has had a strong summer and was pushing veterans Jerraud Powers and Kyle Arrington, who both struggled at the nickel spot against Carolina. Arrington missed practice on Saturday after being evaluated for a concussion in the second half of the preseason opener.

Other players absent on Saturday included wide receivers Chris Matthews and Michael Campanaro, safeties Kendrick Lewis and Anthony Levine, cornerbacks Sheldon Price and Maurice Canady, linebacker Chris Carter, guard John Urschel, tight ends Crockett Gillmore, Daniel Brown, Maxx Williams, and Dennis Pitta, and defensive linemen Brandon Williams, Carl Davis, and Bronson Kaufusi.

Wide receiver and return specialist Kaelin Clay left Saturday’s practice with a foot issue, according to Harbaugh.

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Harbaugh expects PUP list players to be ready for season opener

Posted on 09 August 2016 by Luke Jones

OWINGS MILLS, Md. — Ravens coach John Harbaugh hasn’t provided daily updates on the status of four high-profile players currently on the physically unable to perform list, but he does expect them to return for the start of the regular season.

Linebackers Terrell Suggs (Achilles) and Elvis Dumervil (foot) and wide receivers Steve Smith (Achilles) and Breshad Perriman (knee) have yet to practice this summer, but the Ravens are still counting on them all to be on the field when they open the 2016 season against the Buffalo Bills on Sept. 11.

Players on the active PUP list who aren’t ready for the start of the regular season can be placed on the reserve PUP list, which does not count against the 53-man roster limit but requires them to miss at least the first six weeks of the season.

“We do expect them all to play in the opener,” Harbaugh said. “As far as [them playing in] the preseason, it goes back to, ‘We’ll see.’ They all want to play, I know that. They’re all working really hard to play in the preseason, but we’re certainly expecting them all back for the opener. We’ll just have to make some decisions.”

Of the four, Smith could be the furthest away from returning to the practice field as he continues to work his way back from a right Achilles tendon tear suffered last Nov. 1. Previously planning to retire at the end of last season prior to the season-ending injury, the 37-year-old has said he’s not worried about playing in the preseason.

Dumervil underwent foot surgery in the spring, but his status for the start of the season is not considered to be in question.

Meanwhile, Perriman is working his way back from a partially-torn ACL in his left knee that wasn’t deemed serious enough to require reconstruction surgery. The injury occurred only two months ago, but the Ravens remain optimistic that he will be ready to go by the start of the season after he missed his entire rookie year with a right knee injury.

According to Harbaugh, Suggs is the closest to returning to practice after tearing his left Achilles tendon 11 months ago.

“He’s already on me about practice, and I’m holding him back right now,” Harbaugh said. “He’ll be out there soon practicing. How much we play him remains to be seen. The other guys are probably a little longer away than he is — him being ready — but we’ll just see where we go.”

Third-year running back Lorenzo Taliaferro also remains on the active PUP list while working his way back to full strength from foot surgery last fall.

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Ravens unveil first depth chart ahead of preseason opener

Posted on 05 August 2016 by Luke Jones

The Ravens unveiled their first depth chart of the summer with very few surprises in relation to what we’ve witnessed in training camp so far.

The depth chart reflects players currently on the physically unable to perform list, which explains why the likes of Steve Smith, Terrell Suggs, and Elvis Dumervil are listed at the end of their position groups. In most cases, reserve players behind the projected starters are listed by seniority.

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The listed starting offensive line is exactly what we’ve seen at most practices in the spring and summer with rookie first-round tackle Ronnie Stanley set to protect Joe Flacco’s blindside and third-year lineman John Urschel still the favorite to take Kelechi Osemele’s old left guard spot.

Of course, the wide receiver position is difficult to project with Smith and 2015 first-round pick Breshad Perriman still on the PUP list, but Michael Campanaro has practiced well while staying healthy so far, making a strong case to see time in the slot. Maxx Williams being listed fourth among the tight ends reflects how deep that position is.

Buck Allen is listed as the primary backup to Justin Forsett at running back, but Terrance West can further improve his case for a bigger role if he can build on an impressive training camp with good showings in the preseason.

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With Suggs and Dumervil still absent, Za’Darius Smith and Albert McClellan have handled starting outside linebacker duties in training camp. It will be interesting to see if McClellan remains at the “Sam” linebacker spot when Dumervil and Suggs return or whether Smith will slide over to that spot. The Ravens would like to see Dumervil return to his previous role as a situational pass rusher, but it’s unclear if Suggs will still be a three-down linebacker coming back from his second Achilles injury in four years.

The Ravens are listing veteran Zach Orr ahead of rookie Kamalei Correa as the starting weak-side inside linebacker, but the 2016 second-round pick has received more reps with the base defense during training camp. The nickel package has featured Orr entering at inside linebacker with Correa shifting to the edge.

Veteran Kyle Arrington is currently ahead of Will Davis and rookie Tavon Young on the depth chart, but that appears to be a nod to the veteran more than a reflection of what we’ve seen during camp.

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As for special teams, Kaelin Clay is the early leader to be the return specialist, but Campanaro remains in the mix as the Ravens try to keep him healthy. Former Navy star and sixth-round pick Keenan Reynolds has struggled to consistently catch punts and has a lot of ground to make up over the next few weeks. Young has shown impressive speed as a potential kick returner.

It’s important not to read too much into the first depth chart, especially once moving past the first and second units. The depth chart is composed by the Ravens’ public relations staff, but it is based on practice and game reps, giving fans and media a worthwhile snapshot.

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Ravens place six players on active PUP list to begin training camp

Posted on 23 July 2016 by Luke Jones

Set to open their 2016 training camp this coming week, the Ravens announced Saturday that six players would begin the summer on the active physically unable to perform list.

Wide receivers Steve Smith (Achilles tendon) and Breshad Perriman (knee), linebackers Terrell Suggs (Achilles tendon) and Elvis Dumervil (foot surgery), running back Trent Richardson (knee), and cornerback Jumal Rolle (Achilles tendon) were placed on the PUP list ahead of Wednesday’s report day for veterans. Rolle is expected to miss the 2016 season after suffering a torn Achilles tendon during a spring workout.

Head coach John Harbaugh indicated during last month’s mandatory minicamp that the Ravens would be careful with the workload for Smith, Suggs, and Dumervil during training camp and even in preseason games as they work their way back to full strength. After suffering a left knee injury originally feared to be a season-ending ACL tear in June, Perriman is expected to return at some point during training camp, according to Harbaugh.

Signed to compete for a roster spot with a deep group of running backs, Richardson was hampered by a hamstring issue during organized team activities and underwent knee surgery last month.

Often confused with the reserve list that requires a player to miss the first six weeks of the regular season, active PUP is used for any player who isn’t ready to begin practicing at the start of training camp. Players on active PUP may return to the field at any point, but that activation makes them ineligible for the reserve list that doesn’t count against the 53-man roster limit to begin the regular season.

It’s worth noting that quarterback Joe Flacco (knee), cornerback Jimmy Smith (foot surgery), cornerback Will Davis (knee), and wide receiver Michael Campanaro (calf) were not placed on PUP, meaning they should be ready to begin practicing immediately. Flacco said during last month’s minicamp and reiterated this past week that he would be back on the field for the first day less than eight months after undergoing ACL reconstruction surgery on his left knee.

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More questions than answers for Ravens entering training camp

Posted on 20 July 2016 by Luke Jones

We’re finally a week away from the curtain rising on the 2016 Ravens.

Sure, we caught a brief glimpse during last month’s mandatory minicamp, but how much could we really learn from non-contact practices that didn’t even include the starting quarterback, their No. 1 receiver, the starting outside linebackers, the top cornerback, and their 2015 first-round pick?

Trying to rebound from the worst season of the John Harbaugh era, the Ravens are hoping for better health after a team-record 21 players finished 2015 on injured reserve or the physically unable to perform list. They believe the free-agent additions of safety Eric Weddle, tight end Benjamin Watson, and wide receiver Mike Wallace and the continuing development of young players will provide the upside to return to the playoffs after failing to qualify in two of the last three years.

With a pedigree that includes two Super Bowl championships, four division titles, and 10 playoff appearances in the last 16 years, the Ravens bouncing back from a 5-11 campaign to once again become an AFC contender in 2016 would hardly be shocking. But there are more questions to ask than answers to offer as players report to Owings Mills over the next week.

What about this roster truly makes the Ravens brass rest easy at night?

Coming back from the first significant injury of his career, Joe Flacco is a franchise quarterback capable of playing at a championship level, even if his regular-season numbers don’t always reflect that. Coaches will need to be smart with him less than eight months removed from major knee surgery, but it’s comforting to know that the 31-year-old will be back on the field for the first day of training camp.

The Ravens offense has the best guard in football in Marshal Yanda and veteran starters at center and right tackle as well as arguably the deepest collection of tight ends in the NFL. The defense has one of the NFL’s best nose tackles, a 2015 Pro Bowl outside linebacker, a young inside linebacker who made the Pro Bowl as a rookie, and a three-time Pro Bowl safety in Weddle, who should bring more leadership and order to a volatile secondary.

Baltimore has an elite trio of specialists in kicker Justin Tucker, punter Sam Koch, and long snapper Morgan Cox, who have all been to Pro Bowls and have signed long-term contracts over the last 12 months.

The talent and potential strengths don’t end there, but the serious questions begin at this point.

What can we reasonably expect from Steve Smith and Terrell Suggs coming back from Achilles tendon injuries?

It’s been a difficult recovery for the veteran receiver, who originally intended to make 2015 his last season. Doubting Smith’s heart and determination is foolish, but we know Father Time is undefeated, making it fair to question whether the 37-year-old can play close to the level he did prior to last year’s injury when he was still a No.1 option.

The little we’ve seen from Suggs since his injury last September includes a traffic-related arrest in Arizona in March and a guest appearance on HBO’s Ballers in which he played himself getting into a scrap with Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson’s character. Set to turn 34 in October, the six-time Pro Bowl linebacker has been working out at the team’s facility in Owings Mills, but his conditioning and explosiveness will be scrutinized after his second Achilles injury in a four-year period. A substantially-diminished Suggs puts even more pressure on fellow veteran Elvis Dumervil as well as unproven options such as Za’Darius Smith and Kamalei Correa as pass rushers.

Will a second foot procedure allow Jimmy Smith to recapture his No. 1 cornerback form?

The 28-year-old had the screws removed from his surgically-repaired right foot this spring after he was still experiencing soreness from the 2014 Lisfranc procedure. The Ravens paid him handsomely last spring to be a difference-making presence in the secondary and need him to be the player he was in 2013 and 2014 if this defense is going to take a significant step forward this season.

What’s the reality with the Breshad Perriman injury?

It was great news that Dr. James Andrews didn’t recommend full ACL reconstruction surgery for Perriman in June, but the fact that he still prescribed a stem-cell injection makes you wonder about the healing process and stability of his left knee. The young receiver missed his entire rookie year with a right knee injury originally considered to be minor, so you hope this isn’t a cruel repeat of 2015.

For a team in desperate need of dynamic playmakers on both sides of the ball, Perriman may possess more upside than anyone on the roster if he can just stay on the field.

The questions go beyond players coming off injuries.

Even if 2016 first-round pick Ronnie Stanley proves to be more like Jonathan Ogden and less like the many who have tried to replace the Hall of Fame left tackle over the last decade, how confident can the organization honestly feel about a rookie and a new starter at left guard — projected to be John Urschel — protecting the blindside of a quarterback coming off a serious knee injury?

Baltimore has a collection of talented running backs, but is there truly a No. 1 guy in the bunch?

Who is going to play inside linebacker next to Mosley?

Is the rest of the defensive backfield ready to build on its second-half improvement from last year to be more of a force under new secondary coach Leslie Frazier?

Who might step forward to make a difference in the return game?

Finally and perhaps most importantly, are there at least a couple of young players ready to step forward to become special?

The Ravens have solid-to-good football players; they need more great ones.

All teams face questions this time of year, but there are more than usual for Baltimore entering 2016. It’s understandable after a 5-11 season that fell apart even before the injuries piled up at a record level.

We’ll soon get to see what’s behind the curtain.

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Ravens attempting to trade veteran tackle Monroe

Posted on 14 June 2016 by Luke Jones

OWINGS MILLS, Md. — The Ravens are poised to move on from veteran left tackle Eugene Monroe.

Despite being cleared to return to the field from last December’s season-ending shoulder surgery last week, Monroe was not on the field for the start of Baltimore’s three-day mandatory minicamp on Tuesday. Head coach John Harbaugh confirmed that general manager Ozzie Newsome was engaged in discussions to trade Monroe, who is scheduled to make $6.5 million in base salary this season.

Monroe said via his official Twitter account on Friday that the Ravens had distanced themselves from him and his strong position in favor of medical marijuana, but the organization had been noncommittal about his future throughout the offseason. After unsuccessfully trying to re-sign Kelechi Osemele with the intention of permanently moving him to left tackle, Newsome selected Notre Dame’s Ronnie Stanley with the sixth overall pick in April’s draft.

“My understanding right now is that teams are inquiring about Eugene,” Harbaugh said. “When you’re in that kind of a situation, when there’s a possibility of those kinds of things happening, you’re pretty much obligated to pull back and not practice a guy. That where it’s at right now. It’s in Ozzie’s hands, and we’ll just see where it goes.”

Entering the third season of a five-year, $37.5 million contract that included $17.5 million guaranteed, Monroe, 29, has started just 17 games since the start of 2014 while missing action with a variety of injuries. He was sidelined last November when backup left tackle James Hurst was pushed into Joe Flacco’s left knee, causing a season-ending injury.

Trading or cutting Monroe now would clear $6.5 million in salary cap space — leaving $2.2 million in dead money on this year’s salary cap — and would push $4.4 million in dead money to the 2017 cap.

The only other surprise absence from the field on Tuesday was outside linebacker Elvis Dumervil, who is scheduled to speak with reporters on Wednesday. Like a few other veterans, Dumervil hadn’t taken part in any voluntary organized team activities open to the media.

“I think Elvis is going to be up here tomorrow, so he can give you the details,” Harbaugh said. “But he had what has been termed a ‘preventative procedure.’ He’s not ready to go in minicamp. He’ll be ready to go in training camp, but he can explain that to you [Wednesday].”

Other players missing from Tuesday’s practice were quarterback Joe Flacco (knee), linebacker Terrell Suggs (Achilles tendon), defensive linemen Bronson Kaufusi (back) and Michael Pierce (undisclosed), cornerback Jumal Rolle (Achilles tendon), and wide receivers Steve Smith (Achilles tendon), Breshad Perriman (knee), and Michael Campanaro (calf).

Cornerback Jimmy Smith was on the field and wearing a helmet, but the veteran defensive back was limited to playing catch as he continues to recover from foot surgery earlier this spring.

Kaufusi signed his four-year rookie deal on Tuesday, meaning the Ravens’ entire 2016 draft class is now under contract.

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