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Ravens-Vikings: Inactives and pre-game notes

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Ravens-Vikings: Inactives and pre-game notes

Posted on 08 December 2013 by Luke Jones

BALTIMORE — Sunday brings the arrival of December football as the Ravens welcome the Minnesota Vikings to town for what figures to be a wintry mess at M&T Bank Stadium Sunday afternoon.

A win puts the Ravens above the .500 mark for the first time since early October and keeps them in position as the No. 6 seed in the AFC playoff picture. Needless to say with an imposing three-game stretch against projected playoff times to conclude the regular season, the Ravens have little margin for error against the 3-8-1 Vikings, who  haven’t won a road game all year.

The Ravens will welcome the return of tight end Dennis Pitta, who was activated from injured reserve-designated to return on Saturday. Pitta wasn’t expected to play extensively against Minnesota, but the Ravens also elected to list Dallas Clark as inactive, which is a good indication that they feel comfortable with Pitta handling a bigger workload. His presence on third down and inside the red zone will provide a major boost to the Baltimore passing game in the final quarter of the season.

While Pitta returns to action in Week 14, outside linebacker Elvis Dumervil is officially out with a left ankle injury suffered in last week’s win over the Pittsburgh Steelers. Coach John Harbaugh was optimistic earlier in the week that Dumervil would be ready to go, but he was unable to practice all week and listed as doubtful on the final injury report.

Dumervil’s absence will lead to an increased role for second-year linebacker Courtney Upshaw, who was already likely to see extensive snaps with Vikings running back Adrian Peterson and the ground attack figuring to be featured extensively by Minnesota. Reserve pass-rush specialist Pernell McPhee could see more opportunities in passing situations with Dumervil sidelined.

Wide receiver Brandon Stokley is active despite being listed as questionable on the final injury report with a knee injury suffered against Pittsburgh on Thanksgiving night.

For the Vikings, Peterson is active and will start despite being listed as questionable with a groin issue.

As predicted, weather will be a significant factor in Sunday’s game as snow began collecting on the turf more than two hours prior to kickoff. Forecasts are calling for up to a few inches of snow with precipitation switching to sleet and freezing rain later in the day.

The all-time series between the Ravens and Vikings is tied 2-2 with Minnesota winning the last meeting in 2009. The Ravens are 2-1 against them at M&T Bank Stadium.

The referee for Sunday’s game will be Pete Morelli.

The Ravens will be wearing purple jerseys with black pants while Minnesota dons white jerseys with purple pants.

Here are Sunday’s inactives:

BALTIMORE
LB Elvis Dumervil
TE Dallas Clark
DT Brandon Williams
WR Deonte Thompson
S Omar Brown
S Brynden Trawick
C Ryan Jensen

MINNESOTA
CB Josh Robinson
DT Chase Baker
G Jeff Baca
TE Kyle Rudolph
QB Christian Ponder
WR Rodney Smith
T Mike Remmers

Follow WNST on Twitter throughout the afternoon for updates and analysis as Drew Forrester, Nestor Aparicio, and I bring live coverage from M&T Bank Stadium throughout the night.

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Dumervil doubtful to play against Vikings on Sunday

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Dumervil doubtful to play against Vikings on Sunday

Posted on 06 December 2013 by Luke Jones

OWINGS MILLS, Md. — The status of outside linebacker Elvis Dumervil and tight end Dennis Pitta will remain a mystery into the weekend as the Ravens make final preparations for Sunday’s game against the Minnesota Vikings.

Dumervil’s status appears bleaker, however, after he was listed as doubtful on the final injury report of the week and missed his third straight day of practice on Friday. The rush specialist was deemed a game-time decision by coach John Harbaugh, who added that the veteran linebacker missing an entire week of practice wouldn’t prevent him from playing if he improved over the weekend.

Dumervil injured his left ankle late in the first half of the Thanksgiving win over the Pittsburgh Steelers but returned early in the third quarter to finish the game. Harbaugh said Monday that the Ravens would likely have to “nurse some things” when asked about Dumervil, but he also added that he expected all players banged up in the Pittsburgh game to be able to play Sunday against Minnesota.

“Earlier in the week, we felt like he was going to make it,” Harbaugh said after Friday’s practice. “He’s not a guy who has to practice to play. If he goes out there and feels like he can go, he will. If he doesn’t, he won’t.”

Dumervil leads the Ravens with 9 1/2 sacks and hasn’t missed a game since sitting out two with the Denver Broncos during the 2011 season.

Harbaugh would not disclose Friday whether Pitta would be making his 2013 season debut against the Vikings, but all signs point to that being the case after Pitta took part in full practices this week. The Ravens have brought him along slowly and have resisted the urge to push Pitta too fast as he works his way back from a serious hip injury suffered in late July.

“It felt good all week,” said Pitta, who added that the decision to play is ultimately up to him and how he feels. “It’s nice to get back in and go through full practices and stuff. We’ll see.”

With a wintry mix in the forecast for Sunday’s game against the Vikings, Harbaugh acknowledged the weather could be a factor in determining whether Pitta plays if the footing on the M&T Bank Stadium turf would be treacherous due to snow or sleet.

The Ravens will have until 4 p.m. on Saturday to move Pitta to the 53-man roster for him to be eligible to play against the Vikings. The expectation is that Pitta would play a limited number of snaps in his return to game action, but he was not listed on the final injury report since he was not on the 53-man roster as of Friday afternoon.

“It’s going to be how he gets through the week, how the doctors still have to look at it and make sure he’s going to be sound,” Harbaugh said.  “If they feel good about it, then he should be OK. He’s got a reasonable chance. We just have to see.”

The Ravens listed defensive end Chris Canty, cornerbacks Lardarius Webb and Asa Jackson, and wide receiver Brandon Stokley as questionable after each player worked on a limited basis in practices this week. Canty and Webb are expected to take their normal places in the starting defense.

Rookie safety Brynden Trawick remains sidelined with an ankle injury and was officially ruled out. Trawick figures to be a likely candidate to be placed on injured reserve to clear a roster spot for Pitta.

Cornerback Jimmy Smith is probable after he completed the concussion protocol and was cleared earlier in the week.

Meanwhile, the Vikings ruled out quarterback Christian Ponder, tight end Kyle Rudolph, and cornerback Josh Robinson. Ponder hasn’t been cleared from the concussion he suffered against Chicago last Sunday, meaning backup Matt Cassel will start against the Ravens.

All-Pro running back Adrian Peterson is questionable with a groin injury, but he practiced on a limited basis Friday and is fully expected to play.

The referee for Sunday’s game will be Pete Morelli.

Sunday’s forecast calls for temperatures to be in the low 30s with an 80 percent chance of snow.

Here is the final injury report of the week:

BALTIMORE
OUT: S Brynden Trawick (ankle)
DOUBTFUL: LB Elvis Dumervil (ankle)
QUESTIONABLE: DE Chris Canty (shoulder), CB Asa Jackson (thigh), WR Brandon Stokley (knee), CB Lardarius Webb (abs)
PROBABLE: CB Jimmy Smith (concussion)

MINNESOTA
OUT: QB Christian Ponder (concussion), CB Josh Robinson (chest), TE Kyle Rudolph (foot)
QUESTIONABLE: LB Larry Dean (knee), RB Adrian Peterson (groin), S Jamarca Sanford (ankle)
PROBABLE: DE Jared Allen (finger), RB Matt Asiata (shoulder), DT Fred Evans (knee), DT Sharif Floyd (illness), LB Chad Greenway (wrist), DE Everson Griffen (toe), S Andrew Sendejo (toe)

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Dumervil, Vikings’ Peterson sidelined for second straight day

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Dumervil, Vikings’ Peterson sidelined for second straight day

Posted on 05 December 2013 by Luke Jones

OWINGS MILLS, Md. — A key player for both the Ravens and the Minnesota Vikings missed practice for the second straight day on Thursday as linebacker Elvis Dumervil and All-Pro running back Adrian Peterson continue to be sidelined with nagging injuries.

Neither player is expected to miss Sunday’s game, but Dumervil’s absence for a second straight day does raise some concern that he’s not progressing from a nagging ankle injury as quickly as the Ravens initially hoped. Dumervil hurt the ankle late in the first half of last week’s game against Pittsburgh before returning to play early in the third quarter.

“He got through the game and he got back in and played,” said coach John Harbaugh about Dumervil’s status on Monday. “He looks OK. We’re going to have to nurse some things, just like we do with a lot of different guys.”

Leading the NFL with 1,208 rushing yards, Peterson is nursing a groin injury, but Vikings head coach Leslie Frazier told reporters the 2012 league MVP should be ready to practice on Friday. The 28-year-old rushed for a season-high 211 yards in the Vikings’ overtime win over Chicago last week.

Tight end Dennis Pitta was practicing once again as he moves closer to a potential return for Sunday’s game. A team source says the fourth-year tight end has taken some full-team reps for the first time this week, but the Ravens are trying not to pressure Pitta and want him to feel comfortable in deciding when he’s ready to return.

He was limited to just individual work in the week leading up to the New York Jets game and wasn’t able to do much last week with the Ravens only holding walk-throughs on a short week with a Thursday night game. The organization has until 4 p.m. on Saturday to place Pitta on the 53-man roster for him to be eligible to play against the Vikings.

“He’s coming along, but he’s getting his feet back under him,” offensive coordinator Jim Caldwell said on Thursday. “He’s moving well. For him, I’m sure it’s going to be a work in progress. He’s getting a lot more work this week than he did last week, and we’ll see how it goes.”

Reserve defensive backs Asa Jackson (thigh) and Brynden Trawick (ankle) were both absent from practice while starting cornerback Jimmy Smith (concussion) was upgraded to full participation on Thursday.

Here is Thursday’s full injury report:

BALTIMORE
DID NOT PARTICIPATE: LB Elvis Dumervil (ankle), S Brynden Trawick (ankle), CB Asa Jackson (thigh)
LIMITED PARTICIPATION: DE Chris Canty (shoulder), WR Brandon Stokley (knee), CB Lardarius Webb (abs)
FULL PARTICIPATION: CB Jimmy Smith (concussion)

MINNESOTA
DID NOT PARTICIPATE: LB Larry Dean (knee), RB Adrian Peterson (groin), QB Christian Ponder (concussion), CB Josh Robinson (chest), TE Kyle Rudolph (foot)
LIMITED PARTICIPATION: DE Jared Allen (finger), LB Chad Greenway (wrist), S Jamarca Sanford (ankle), DT Sharif Floyd (illness)
FULL PARTICIPATION: RB Matt Asiata (shoulder), DT Fred Evans (knee), DE Everson Griffen (toe), S Andrew Sendejo (toe)

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Dumervil absent Wednesday, Jimmy Smith cleared from concussion protocol

Posted on 04 December 2013 by Luke Jones

OWINGS MILLS, Md. — After coach John Harbaugh offered an optimistic outlook for the Ravens’ health earlier in the week, Wednesday’s practice confirmed his feelings as outside linebacker Elvis Dumervil was the only notable player not to participate.

The rush specialist injured his ankle in the second quarter of last week’s win over the Pittsburgh Steelers but returned early in the second half to finish the game. Harbaugh said Dumervil looked OK on Monday but hinted that he might be limited during practices this week before expressing confidence that all players who were nicked up in last Thursday’s game would be able to play Sunday against the Minnesota Vikings.

Cornerback Jimmy Smith (head) practiced on a limited basis after being cleared by doctors after completing the league’s concussion protocol. The third-year defensive back appeared woozy while walking off the field following the violent collision with Steelers running back Le’Veon Bell late in the fourth quarter.

“Jimmy is becoming one of the top corners in the National Football League by the way he is playing,” said Harbaugh on the importance of Smith being cleared. “The numbers bear that out, and the film bears it out. It’s important to our football team, and I really like the way he is playing.”

Wide receiver Brandon Stokley (knee) was also practicing on a limited basis despite injuring his left knee in the second quarter of the Pittsburgh game and not returning. Harbaugh said the 37-year-old veteran suffered no structural damage to his knee.

Dennis Pitta was also taking part in Wednesday’s practice as Harbaugh said he was “pretty hopeful” that the fourth-year tight end would be able to make his 2013 season debut on Sunday. The sense is Pitta’s activity level will be increased this week to see how his surgically-repaired hip responds to contact and team-related activity before the Ravens will make a decision on his status at the end of the week.

According to quarterback Joe Flacco, Pitta was limited to just individual work in the week leading up to the game against the New York Jets. Last week’s abbreviated schedule that consisted of only walk-throughs leading up to the Pittsburgh game eliminated any chance of Pitta testing his hip in full-team drills, meaning there was no really chance of the tight end playing against the Steelers.

“It’s going to be just a matter of how ready he is to play and how healthy he is to play,” Harbaugh said. “With something like that, all the doctors are going to be involved. He was in New York [Tuesday]. Those things are important things. The health of the player comes first. That’s the No. 1 thing — his ability to withstand the rigors of a game. I think we’re on track that way, but we’ll just have to see how it plays out.”

The Ravens have until 4 p.m. on Saturday to place Pitta on the 53-man roster for him to be eligible to play against the Vikings, but his 21-day window for practicing will expire on Dec. 11, meaning the organization must put him on the active roster by then for him to be eligible to play the rest of the season.

Rookie safety Brunden Trawick was the only other player besides Dumervil who did not participate in Wednesday’s practice.

Meanwhile, the Vikings haven’t made it official, but head coach Leslie Frazier indicated backup quarterback Matt Cassel is likely to start in place of concussed starter Christian Ponder, who was injured in Minnesota’s overtime win over the Chicago Bears this past Sunday.

Minnesota running back Adrian Peterson also sat out Wednesday’s practice while nursing a groin issue.

Here is the full injury report for Wednesday:

BALTIMORE
DID NOT PARTICIPATE: LB Elvis Dumervil (ankle), S Brynden Trawick (ankle)
LIMITED PARTICIPATION: DE Chris Canty (shoulder), CB Asa Jackson (thigh), CB Jimmy Smith (concussion), WR Brandon Stokley (knee), CB Lardarius Webb (abs)

MINNESOTA
DID NOT PARTICIPATE: LB Larry Dean (knee), RB Adrian Peterson (groin), QB Christian Ponder (concussion), CB Josh Robinson (chest), TE Kyle Rudolph (foot), S Jamarca Sanford (ankle)
LIMITED PARTICIPATION: DE Jared Allen (finger), LB Chad Greenway (wrist)
FULL PARTICIPATION: RB Matt Asiata (shoulder), DT Fred Evans (knee), DE Everson Griffen (toe), S Andrew Sendejo (toe)

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J. Smith undergoing concussion protocol, Pitta decision “not 100-percent certain”

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J. Smith undergoing concussion protocol, Pitta decision “not 100-percent certain”

Posted on 02 December 2013 by Luke Jones

OWINGS MILLS, Md. — Earning one of their biggest victories of the season to seize control of the AFC’s No. 6 seed for now, the Ravens did not escape the 22-20 final over Pittsburgh unscathed from an injury standpoint.

However, three extra days of rest came at the opportune time with the Ravens concluding a three-game homestand Sunday against the Minnesota Vikings. Baltimore expects to have its full allotment of key players despite cornerback Jimmy Smith and wide receiver Brandon Stokley leaving last Thursday’s game with injuries and several others including linebacker Elvis Dumervil and wide receiver Torrey Smith getting banged up during the game.

“Everybody came out of the game with bumps and bruises,” coach John Harbaugh said. “I expect all those guys to be able to play on Sunday. We’ll just have to see if something flares up between now and then.”

Smith appears to be the most serious injury concern at the moment after he collided with Steelers running back Le’Veon Bell late in the game, which resulted in both players lying woozy on the field for a significant time. Bell appeared to receive the worst of the impact, but the Ravens will monitor the third-year cornerback’s status over the course of the week.

Harbaugh said Smith “should be OK” immediately after Thursday night’s win and confirmed that initial prognosis during his Monday press conference.

“Jimmy seems to be doing really well,” Harbaugh said. “He was doing well right after the game. He’s going through the concussion protocol now. That was what it was during the course of the game, but everything looks really, really good for Jimmy. [He] should be fine. You never know with that, but it looks like he’s going to be able to even practice on Wednesday, so we’re feeling good about that.”

Stokley’s knee sprain did not result in any concerning structural damage when he was examined on Friday — he did not return to the game after leaving late in the first half — and Dumervil’s ankle injury sustained late in the first half on Thanksgiving night may limit his practice time this week.

Dumervil returned to action after halftime and finished the game with three tackles, but he didn’t appear to make the same impact after hurting his ankle.

“He looks OK,” said Harbaugh about Dumervil’s status. “We’re going to have to nurse some things just like with a lot of different guys.”

The biggest health-related headline leading into Sunday’s game with the Vikings will be the status of tight end Dennis Pitta with all signs pointing to him making his 2013 season debut.

Pitta returned to the practice field on Nov. 20 and is currently in the midst of a 21-day window in which he can practice before the Ravens must either place him on the 53-man roster or leave him on injured reserve for the remainder of the season. Should Pitta not be ready to play against the Vikings, the Ravens would have to place him on the active roster by Dec. 11 for him to be eligible to play the rest of the season.

The fourth-year tight end dislocated and fractured his hip on July 27 and has remained on IR with the designation to return since early September.

“It’ll probably come down to the end of the week,” Harbaugh said. “I’ve got a pretty good idea that he’s doing well. It’s just a matter of how well. Is he feeling good enough? Do the doctors feel like he’s ready to play? That’s what it’s going to come down to.

“He ran around well last week. We’ll go through the week and see how he does. If he can play, he will for sure. We want to get him up — that’s our goal. But it’s not 100-percent certain at this point.”

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Stokley leaves game with sprained left knee

Posted on 29 November 2013 by Luke Jones

(This blog brought to you by Atlantic Remodeling. Visit www.atlanticremodeling.com to learn about their Red Cent Guarantee!)

On the heels of their big 22-20 win over the Pittsburgh Steelers on Thanksgiving night, the Ravens will take advantage of the extra time off to rest and recover from a brutally physical game with their AFC North adversary.

A number of players left at different points in the action, but the most serious injury appeared to occur to veteran wide receiver Brandon Stokley, who left the game late in the first half with a left knee sprain and did not occur. It was only Stokley’s second game back from a nagging groin injury that had hindered him since the end of September.

Coach John Harbaugh didn’t have any new information on Stokley’s status following the game.

“He has got a knee [injury],” Harbaugh said. “We’ll see about it Friday.”

Cornerback Jimmy Smith was shaken up on the violent goal-line collision with Steelers running back Le’Veon Bell late in the fourth quarter and was down on the field for a couple minutes before walking off on his own power. Harbaugh said the starting defensive back “should be OK” despite Smith appearing woozy as he walked to the sideline.

Outside linebacker Elvis Dumervil suffered a left ankle injury late in the first half but returned to play after halftime.

Other players shaken up at different points during the game included wide receivers Torrey Smith and Jacoby Jones and linebacker Terrell Suggs, but all three finished the game.

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Ravens loss in Chicago hurts more than any other so far in ’13

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Ravens loss in Chicago hurts more than any other so far in ’13

Posted on 18 November 2013 by Drew Forrester

Of the six losses so far in 2013, Sunday’s defeat in Chicago was the toughest.

It was the only one of the defeats where they had a chance to win at the buzzer…and failed.

Against Denver, a 17-14 halftime lead turned into a blowout when Peyton Manning and Company went nuts in the 3rd quarter.

In Buffalo, a last minute drive ended at midfield when Dallas Clark deflected a throw that was intercepted by Kiko Alonso of the Bills.

Green Bay salted the game-away with their own late-game drive and the Ravens never really even had a chance to go on the offensive down the stretch.

Pittsburgh parlayed a late kickoff return into a last second field goal to beat the Ravens.

And, in Cleveland, the Ravens trailed throughout and didn’t have much of a chance late in the 4th quarter.

That was not the case in Chicago on Sunday, though, as the Ravens drove the length of the field — aided by a huge personal foul penalty against the Bears — and moved the ball to the 5-yard with less than a minute to play.  Down by three, a Baltimore touchdown would have given John Harbaugh’s team a huge road win and put them in glorious position for an AFC wild card berth.

Three downs to get five yards.

Three downs to pick up fifteen friggin’ feet.

They couldn’t do it.

And that, more than anything else, is why the Ravens are a 4-6 team.

Yes, yes, yes, the Baltimore defense got gashed in overtime and gave up a huge 3rd down pitch-and-catch to Alshon Jeffery and a 43-yard game-breaker to Martellus Bennett on the next play to set-up the winning field goal.

That, though, was only made possible because the Baltimore offense couldn’t move the ball fifteen feet in three plays.

On first down at the five, the Ravens tried running the ball with Ray Rice.  He picked up three yards.

Now, you need just six feet — two yards — to win.

On second down, Rice tried going to his left and was bumped back a yard to the three.

And then, on third down, Gino Gradkowski’s bad snap fouled things up from the start and Flacco’s throw to Torrey Smith in the end zone was too high.

That’s how you turn winning into losing.

There were lots of bright spots on Sunday in Chicago.  The Ravens’ running game came back to life after a season-in-a-coma, taking advantage of a horrible Bears run defense to pile up 174 yards on the ground.  Gradkowski and A.Q. Shipley both had their best days of the season at center and guard, respectively.  Chris Canty and Art Jones were studs defensively.  Dallas Clark made a couple of terrific catches, including a game-saver – potentially – on 4th and 4 on the final drive in regulation.

Unfortunately, the negatives narrowly outnumberd the positives, which is how the Ravens wound up losing 23-20.  Terrell Suggs and Elvis Dumervil were both no-shows on Sunday, although Dumervil finally did get his name mentioned late in the game when he picked up a personal foul penalty in the 4th quarter that helped extend a Chicago drive and keep the clock running for the home team.  Joe Flacco and Rice teamed up for a horrific 2nd quarter interception-for-return by the Bears, as the running back whiffed on a high-school level blocking assignment and Flacco then didn’t get the ball up and over Chicago’s David Bass, who did the tip-and-catch thing to perfection and scampered into the end zone for a 24-yard TD.  And, early in the fourth quarter, the Ravens inexplicably challenged an Alshon Jeffery catch that cost them a valuable time-out after the play was – not surprisingly – upheld after video review.

When you have a couple of more negatives than positives, that’s how you lose.

Honestly, the Ravens would have won this game a year ago.  Not because of heart or effort or anything like that.  You certainly can’t fault the team’s fight on Sunday in Chicago.  They battled like a defending champion is expected to battle.  But, a season ago, the Ravens would have reached the end-zone with twenty seconds left in the game.  How?  I don’t know.  They just would have.

This team is 4-6 for a reason.

They don’t do anything particularly well is probably the most logical reason, but the truth is they’re 4-6 because they can’t beat teams like the Bills, Browns and Bears.

The funniest part?  The Ravens are still very much in the AFC playoff race, along with about seven other teams.  At this point, a two game win streak over the next eleven days would put them at 6-6 and give them a legit shot at finishing the season on a strong note and securing a 6th straight playoff berth.

That said, there’s no guarantee the Ravens win two more games TOTAL, let alone two in a row at home over New York and Pittsburgh.

As we’ve seen over the first ten games, there’s no telling what this Ravens team is going to do from game-to-game, half-to-half, quarter-to-quarter and series-to-series.

They couldn’t even pick up five yards on Sunday when doing so would have won the game for them.

 

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Our Ravens/Bears “Slaps to the Head”

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Our Ravens/Bears “Slaps to the Head”

Posted on 17 November 2013 by Glenn Clark

After Baltimore Ravens victories, Ryan Chell and I award players who made positive contributions with “Pats on the Ass” during the Creative Deck Designs Postgame Show on AM1570 WNST.net.

The Ravens fell to the Chicago Bears 23-20 in overtime Sunday at Soldier Field, meaning there were no Pats to be awarded.

So instead of offering “Pats on the Ass”, Ryan and I offered “Slaps to the Head” postgame. A slap on the side of the head from a coach tends to come along with them saying something along the lines of “you’ve gotta do better than that.”

Same rules as there were with Pats. Two offensive players, two defensive players, and a Wild Card (Special Teams player, coach, or another Offensive or Defensive player). One player gets “two slaps” (or a slap on both sides of the head), it’s the opposite of a “Player of the Game” honor.” Ryan and I select five different players/coaches after each game.

Here are our five Ravens that have “gotta do better than that.”

Glenn Clark’s Slaps…

5. Lardarius Webb

4. Tandon Doss

3. Terrell Suggs

2. Eugene Monroe

1.  John Harbaugh (Two Slaps)

(Continued on Page 2…)

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Our Ravens/Bengals “Pats on the Ass”

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Our Ravens/Bengals “Pats on the Ass”

Posted on 10 November 2013 by Glenn Clark

After every Baltimore Ravens victory, Ryan Chell and I take to the airwaves on “The Creative Deck Designs Postgame Show” on AM1570 WNST.net to offer “Pats on the Ass” to players who have done something to deserve the honor.

We give pats to two defensive players, two offensive players and one “Wild Card”-either another offensive or defensive player, a Special Teams player or a coach. We offer a “Pat on Both Cheeks” to someone who stands out, our version of a “Player of the Game.” Ryan and I select five different players/coaches each.

Here are our “Pats on the Ass” following the Ravens’ 20-17 (OT) win over the Cincinnati Bengals Sunday at M&T Bank Stadium…

Glenn’s Pats…

5. Ed Dickson

 

4. Justin Tucker

3. Torrey Smith

 

2. Elvis Dumervil

1. Lardarius Webb (Pat on Both Cheeks)

 

(Ryan’s Pats on Page 2…)

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Grading the 2013 Ravens at the bye week

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Grading the 2013 Ravens at the bye week

Posted on 25 October 2013 by Luke Jones

(This blog brought to you by Atlantic Remodeling. Visit www.atlanticremodeling.com to learn about their Red Cent Guarantee!)

Growing pains were expected for the Ravens after losing a collection of starters from last season’s Super Bowl XLVII championship team, but a 3-4 start has left John Harbaugh’s team in “a state of emergency” in the words of linebacker Terrell Suggs.

Below the .500 mark this late in a season for the first time in the Harbaugh era, the Ravens know they must improve in a number of areas to advance to the postseason for the sixth consecutive season. However, the challenge will be finding the proper in-house solutions for a roster flawed at spots on each side of the ball.

Harbaugh and players alike have promised improvements while expressing confidence that they know what they need to do to turn around their season, but the proof will be in the results as Baltimore plays six of its remaining nine games against teams with winning records entering Week 8. Appearing to be in relatively decent shape from an injury standpoint, the Ravens hope to get standout tight end Dennis Pitta back next month, but the challenge will be remaining viable in the playoff race for Pitta’s return to have a chance to make a real impact.

While the Ravens regroup at the bye before returning to Owings Mills to continue preparations for the Cleveland Browns on Monday, it’s time to hand out first-half grades.

You can listen to The D&L Window Tinting Morning Reaction hand out grades at the bye week HERE.

QUARTERBACK: B-
Comments: A simple look at Joe Flacco’s statistics suggests the sixth-year quarterback is having a poor season, but even his harshest critics must acknowledge how much a poor offensive line, a lack of a running game, and few trusted receiving targets have hindered his productivity. Aside from a poor game in Buffalo in which Flacco threw a career-worst five interceptions, the Super Bowl MVP has played well considering how much is working against him this season. It’s fair to say Flacco has not been great and he hasn’t been able to noticeably elevate the level of play of his receivers and tight ends, but he’s the least of the Ravens’ problems on the offensive side of the ball.

RUNNING BACKS: C-
Comments: It’s been extremely difficult to assess the play of the running backs with the horrific performance of the offensive line, but both Ray Rice and Bernard Pierce have appeared hesitant and need to show better vision in hitting running lanes — no matter how small they might be at this point. Both backs have been banged up physically, but you simply can’t give them a pass when the running game is averaging 2.8 yards per carry and neither has made an impact as a receiver out of the backfield. Fullback Vonta Leach has probably played the best of the three, but his strong ability as a blocker hasn’t paid off in terms of marked improvements in running the football.

WIDE RECEIVERS: C+
Comments: If you were grading based solely on low expectations entering the season, the wide receivers — thought to be the offense’s biggest question mark — could even qualify as a pleasant surprise in how they’ve performed. Torrey Smith has blossomed with 629 receiving yards to lead the NFL entering Week 8 despite consistently dealing with bracketed coverage and heavy attention. Undrafted rookie Marlon Brown and the previously-cut Tandon Doss have emerged as contributors in the absence of Jacoby Jones, who missed four games with a knee injury. Make no mistake, this is a below-average unit if you take away the talented and speedy Smith, but the production has been respectable based on the overall talent level, which was flawed from the start.

TIGHT ENDS: D+
Comments: Expectations for the tight end position went out the window after Pitta suffered a dislocated hip that required surgery on July 27, but Ed Dickson and Dallas Clark haven’t provided the consistency needed to throw the ball over the middle of the field. Dickson has been a huge disappointment (seven catches for 93 yards) after there was some hope that he could at least approach his 2011 production (54 catches for 528 yards and five touchdowns), but even Harbaugh acknowledged he’s not the same player that he was then. Clark has been more productive of late, but Flacco has had to target him 39 times to produce 23 receptions for 265 yards and the 34-year-old struggles to gain any consistent separation.

OFFENSIVE LINE: D
Comments: Whether focusing on run-game coordinator Juan Castillo’s zone blocking schemes, the play of second-year center Gino Gradkowski, or the performance of anyone else, it’s staggering to think how awful this group has been after there were expectations of it being one of the Ravens’ biggest strengths going into the season. The Ravens rank last in the NFL in yards per carry while the pass protection has been inconsistent at best as general manager Ozzie Newsome acquired former first-round pick Eugene Monroe from the Jaguars and jettisoned veteran Bryant McKinnie. Castillo and Gradkowski have been the biggest targets for blame, but even Pro Bowl guard Marshal Yanda hasn’t played close to his normal standards. Yanda and left guard Kelechi Osemele have both dealt with health concerns, but no one can be absolved over how poorly this unit has played all season.

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