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Monroe out for third preseason game with forearm bruise

Posted on 27 August 2015 by Luke Jones

OWINGS MILLS, Md. — The Ravens are likely to be without the starting left side of their offensive line for Saturday’s preseason game against the Washington Redskins.

Left guard Kelechi Osemele was already expected to miss the all-important third preseason contest as he’s been in and out of practices with an Achilles injury for the last three weeks, but head coach John Harbaugh confirmed left tackle Eugene Monroe would not play on Saturday. Monroe injured his right forearm in last Saturday’s preseason loss in Philadelphia and hasn’t practiced all week.

“Eugene’s got a pretty serious bruise there on his forearm,” Harbaugh said on Thursday. “He’s not cleared to practice this week with that. There’s no fracture or anything like that — as far as I know. I’ll put everything with a caveat there. But it should be no problem for the regular season.”

Despite Monroe being sidelined, the Ravens received good news on Thursday with the returns of reserve offensive linemen James Hurst (concussion) and Ryan Jensen to the practice field. In addition to Monroe and Osemele, rookie offensive linemen De’Ondre Wesley and Darryl Baldwin remained sidelined.

Wide receivers Breshad Perriman (knee) and Michael Campanaro (soft tissue injury), cornerback Lardarius Webb (hamstring), linebacker Steven Means (groin), and running back Lorenzo Taliaferro (knee) were also absent from Thursday’s practice.

Cornerbacks Rashaan Melvin and Tramain Jacobs returned to the practice field after missing workouts earlier this week.

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yanda

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2015 Ravens training camp preview: Offensive line

Posted on 27 July 2015 by Luke Jones

With the Ravens beginning their 20th training camp in franchise history this month, expectations are high for John Harbaugh’s team as they eye their seventh trip to the postseason in eight years.

As veterans report to Owings Mills on Wednesday and the first full-squad workout takes place the following on July 30, we’ll examine each position group entering the summer.

July 20: Quarterbacks
July 21: Defensive line
July 22: Running backs
July 23: Linebackers
July 24: Wide receivers
July 25: Tight ends
July 26: Cornerbacks
July 27: Offensive line
July 28: Safeties
July 29: Specialists

Below is a look at the Baltimore offensive line:

OFFENSIVE LINEMEN 
LOCK: Marshal Yanda, Kelechi Osemele, Rick Wagner, Eugene Monroe, Jeremy Zuttah, John Urschel
BUBBLE: Robert Myers, James Hurst, Jah Reid, Ryan Jensen
LONG SHOT: Marcel Jones, Nick Easton, Leon Brown, Kaleb Johnson, Darryl Baldwin, Blaine Clausell, De’Ondre Wesley

Synopsis: It was only a year ago that concerns were abundant about an offensive line that battled injuries and played poorly during the 2013 season, but much has changed since then. Regarded by most as the best position group on the roster, the offensive line returns returns its top seven players as the Ravens plan to maintain the same zone schemes with new offensive coordinator Marc Trestman that they used so effectively last year under Gary Kubiak. The strength of this group begins with its guards as Marshal Yanda is the best in the NFL and Kelechi Osemele is rapidly rising to a Pro Bowl level. The question for this group early in training camp will be health as center Jeremy Zuttah and right tackle Rick Wagner both missed spring workouts and will be brought along slowly to begin the preseason.

One to watch: Wagner was arguably the Ravens’ biggest question mark entering last season before the 2013 fifth-round pick put together an above-average season at right tackle, solidifying a scrutinized offensive line that ultimately excelled in the running game. All signs point to Wagner being ready to go in plenty of time for the start of the season, but offensive line coach Juan Castillo will carefully watch his footwork coming back from last December’s season-ending Lisfranc injury. Assuming he’s healthy, Wagner and Yanda could form the best right side of an offensive line in the entire NFL this season. 

One on notice: Signed to a five-year, $37.5 million contract last year, Eugene Monroe appeared to be Baltimore’s left tackle for the long haul, but a knee injury cost him five games and his play suffered when he was on the field in 2014. To be clear, there is no left tackle controversy as James Hurst isn’t ready to seriously challenge Monroe, but the Ravens need to see better from the veteran to justify an $8.7 million cap figure next year. If the former Jacksonville Jaguar doesn’t bounce back from a rough 2014 campaign, the Ravens could be back in a position where they’re looking for a left tackle sooner rather than later.

Sleeper: There doesn’t figure to be much room for a sleeper to make his mark this summer with Hurst, John Urschel, and fifth-round rookie Robert Myers projected to lock up roster spots as reserves, but Kaleb Johnson of Rutgers was a priority rookie free agent and has the foot quickness that Castillo desires with his blocking schemes. Projected to play guard at 6-foot-4 and 300 pounds, Johnson will be someone to keep an eye on as the Ravens know they are unlikely to be able to re-sign both Yanda and Osemele and are looking for developmental depth at the guard position.

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flacco

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Five questions pondering Flacco, Webb, Monroe, Ravens guards

Posted on 05 June 2015 by Luke Jones

Every Friday, I’ll ponder five topics related to the Ravens or Orioles (or a mix of both).

Five questions …

1. Is it just me or should the Cam Newton contract put all discussion to rest about the deal Joe Flacco received two years ago? To some degree, criticism we heard about Flacco’s contract is now being thrown Newton’s way as he received an extension that pays him an average yearly salary of $20.8 million. We spend so much time ranking quarterbacks and determining which ones are “elite” when it really comes down to a very simple question for NFL teams. Can your quarterback win you a Super Bowl with a reasonable supporting cast around him or not? If the answer is yes, you pay him — plain and simple. Of course, determining the line of demarcation is the challenge as Miami recently paying Ryan Tannehill was an example of that. In terms of average annual salary, does Newton deserve to be the fourth-highest paid quarterback in the NFL? No, but it was his turn in line and Carolina has enough reason to think he can eventually lead the Panthers to the promised land. That’s all that matters.

2. Is it just me or does the Ravens’ current guard situation remind you of the 2011 season? Most assume Baltimore will ultimately re-sign Pro Bowl right guard Marshal Yanda while fourth-year left guard Kelechi Osemele will likely depart via free agency after this season, but I do wonder if that would be the best path for the Ravens. Yanda is a four-time Pro Bowl selection and the best guard in the NFL, but he’ll also be 31 in September. If his demands are through the roof, can you justify giving lucrative money to a player who will be approaching his mid-30s during the life of the contract? Meanwhile, Osemele turns just 26 later this month is likely to get even better over the next couple years. The situation isn’t identical, but it reminds me of 2011 when Ben Grubbs and Yanda were both scheduled to become free agents. Many thought the Ravens should sign Grubbs, but Yanda received an affordable extension that summer and the 2007 first-round pick departed the following winter. I’ll still assume that the Ravens keep Yanda, but it would be tough allowing a much younger player to depart.

3. Is it just me or should Lardarius Webb and Eugene Monroe be attending voluntary organized team activities after injury-plagued campaigns last season? Any veteran player has the right to skip voluntary spring practices, but I can’t help but think the Ravens aren’t thrilled to see Webb and Monroe missing OTA workouts — at least the ones that have been open to media thus far. Counting the playoffs, injuries forced Monroe to miss seven starts last season and the left tackle’s contract is structured in a way that the Ravens could release him next offseason if they’re not thrilled with his performance, as was the case last year. Meanwhile, Webb may have restructured his current contract this offseason, but Baltimore could easily cut the veteran cornerback next winter if his play doesn’t improve substantially from 2014. It’s one thing for established veterans to skip spring workouts, but those with question marks from the previous year are taking a chance to further fall out of good graces when they’re not around in the spring.

4. Is it just me or could a healthy Brent Urban be a difference-maker for a revamped defensive line? Much attention has been paid to the interior part of the line following the trade of five-time Pro Bowl defensive tackle Haloti Ngata, but the 5-technique defensive end spot is a position of interest as veteran Chris Canty was cut and re-signed at a cheaper rate earlier this year. Canty has been mostly solid in his two years with Baltimore, but he will also be 33 in November and contemplated retirement this past winter. Urban has been quite active during spring workouts and appears fully recovered from last summer’s knee injury. Not only could he challenge Canty for his starting spot, but the 6-foot-7 University of Virginia product could be an intriguing option to replace Pernell McPhee as an interior pass rusher on third down. Urban will need to prove himself this summer, but it was no secret that the 2014 fourth-round pick was going to be a big part of the rotation as a rookie. It wouldn’t be surprising to see him become a key contributor for the Ravens’ front this season.

5. Is it just me or are the Ravens getting more than enough love this offseason? I’ve made no secret about how impressed I was with general manager Ozzie Newsome’s work in the 2015 draft and the savvy signing of slot cornerback Kyle Arrington last month, but I was surprised to see Sports Illustrated’s Peter King list the Ravens first in his preseason power rankings. Looking at it objectively, Ravens fans would be incensed if Pittsburgh were ranked No. 1 after losing a starting wide receiver, a starting tight end, a five-time Pro Bowl defensive tackle, an impact pass rusher, and a good offensive coordinator. Make no mistake, I expect the Ravens to be a playoff team in 2015 and they could very well be poised to make a championship run if wide receiver Breshad Perriman and tight end Maxx Williams are ready to make meaningful contributions as rookies. Everything the Ravens have done looks strong on paper, but that doesn’t always mean it comes to fruition on the field as quickly as you’d like, especially when relying on unproven players. For the fans who like to play the disrespect card in terms of how the national media views their team, King is taking a leap of faith to put Baltimore at the top of the list.

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Ravens in prime position to pull off trade with 10 draft picks

Posted on 24 March 2015 by Luke Jones

With the Ravens receiving three compensatory picks in this year’s draft, the discussion inevitably turns to the list of players they’ve selected with those picks awarded by the NFL.

From Rick Wagner and Pernell McPhee in recent years to the likes of Edwin Mulitalo, Sam Koch, and Le’Ron McClain in the past, there’s no disputing that the Ravens have benefited from a league-high 44 compensatory picks in their 20-year history. But with 10 selections at his disposal for the draft set to begin on April 30, general manager Ozzie Newsome may have something else up his sleeve rather than simply selecting 10 young football players.

With obvious needs at wide receiver, tight end, and cornerback, Baltimore should follow its recent trend of dealing a draft pick or two for an established veteran contributor. The likelihood of being able to address all of their needs with young talent ready to contribute immediately isn’t great, but the Ravens now have plenty of collateral to work out a trade while remaining very active in the draft.

Last year, the Ravens dealt their 2015 fifth-round pick to Tampa Bay in exchange for starting center Jeremy Zuttah. Two years ago, they acquired starting left tackle Eugene Monroe from Jacksonville in exchange for 2014 fourth-round and fifth-round choices.

It isn’t a coincidence that the Ravens made those deals before ultimately landing compensatory selections in the same round of each of the surrendered picks. You cannot trade compensatory choices, but they allow you to continue to add young talent while enjoying the flexibility to trade regular selections to add veteran help or to move up the draft board when necessary.

And with a long list of departing free agents this offseason, the Ravens are once again looking like a good bet to receive three or four compensatory picks next year, further facilitating the potential for a trade.

No one would doubt Newsome’s ability to come away with a productive haul if he keeps his allotment of draft picks, but the Ravens would be wise to pull the trigger on a trade for the right veteran addition with so many clear needs that have yet to be addressed this offseason.

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No questions at left tackle for Ravens heading into offseason

Posted on 14 January 2015 by Luke Jones

Ravens head coach John Harbaugh made it clear Tuesday there is no controversy at left tackle going into the offseason.

A few eyebrows raised when starting left tackle Eugene Monroe was deemed active for Saturday’s game in New England before rookie free agent James Hurst remained the starter against the Patriots, but Harbaugh said the decision was based solely on Monroe’s health. After injuring his ankle in the fourth quarter of the Week 16 loss in Houston, Monroe did not play in the regular-season finale or the Pittsburgh game and was limited to just five special-teams snaps against New England.

Monroe was a limited participant in practices last week leading into the trip to Foxborough.

“Eugene wasn’t 100 percent, but we felt like he was enough to be a good backup for us,” Harbaugh said. “If we lost one of the tackles, we’d probably rather be able to put Eugene in there at less than 100 percent than have to shuffle the offensive line around again. And credit to him for getting himself back into that kind of a position. But as far as playing the left tackle spot the whole game, where [Monroe] was at, James was the better option.”

If Monroe had remained inactive against the Patriots and the Ravens would have lost either Hurst or Marshal Yanda, who was already filling in for the injured Rick Wagner at right tackle, they would have been forced to move left guard Kelechi Osemele out to tackle and insert Ryan Jensen into the game. Instead, the Ravens deemed a banged-up Monroe as a better option to activate than Jensen, who was only promoted to the 53-man roster at the end of the regular season.

Needless to say, it was a disappointing year for Monroe after he signed a five-year, $37.5 million contract last offseason. He missed four games after undergoing knee surgery in late September and never appeared healthy enough to play at the level he did last season when he was acquired from the Jacksonville Jaguars. The ankle injury against the Texans all but ended his season, opening the door for Hurst to become the first player in NFL history to start a playoff game at left tackle as an undrafted rookie.

Counting the postseason, the Ravens went 5-2 in games Hurst started at left tackle, leaving some to wonder if the rookie’s performance was good enough to supplant Monroe as the starter. When carefully watching Hurst’s play, it would be more accurate to describe Baltimore as surviving with him at left tackle.

Harbaugh made it clear how he views the depth chart heading into next season.

“Eugene is our starter going forward,” Harbaugh said. “We’re happy to have that be the case.”

Of all offensive tackles who participated in at least 25 percent of his team’s snaps in the regular season, Hurst finished 79th out of 84 and had minus-16.9 pass blocking and minus-9.0 run blocking grades, according to Pro Football Focus’s cumulative assessments. Monroe ranked 63rd out of 84, but his minus-1.0 pass blocking grade and minus-10.7 run blocking grade reflects how much he struggled moving laterally in Gary Kubiak’s zone-blocking system while not having quite as many issues as a pass blocker. That could certainly be explained by the knee issues he experienced early in the year and then coming back from surgery in the middle of the season.

Monroe will be on notice to bounce back dramatically — especially carrying a $7.7 million cap figure in 2015 — but he also has a track record suggesting he’ll be better with an offseason to once again get healthy.

Even if his performance wasn’t strong enough to seriously make Monroe look over his shoulder, Hurst did establish himself as a solid backup for an offensive line that took major strides in 2014.

“Those experiences I’m going to carry with me and use them to my advantage just to make myself a better football player,” said Hurst of the seven starts he made in his first NFL season. “It’s a huge offseason after your rookie year. You know really what you need to work on to be a better pro.”

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Ravens-Patriots: Inactives and pre-game notes

Posted on 10 January 2015 by Luke Jones

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. — January in Foxborough is a familiar scene for the Ravens as they meet the New England Patriots in the AFC divisional round on Saturday afternoon.

Head coach John Harbaugh and the Ravens are playing for the right to go to their fourth conference championship game in the last seven years, and they’ll have their starting left tackle available for the first time since Week 16 as Eugene Monroe is active. An ankle injury still limited Monroe in practices this week, so it will be interesting to see how he fares in his first live-game action since Dec. 21.

According to their depth chart, Monroe’s return would push rookie free agent James Hurst to right tackle and four-time Pro Bowl selection Marshal Yanda back to normal right guard spot. Rookie John Urschel had been filling in at right guard with Yanda moving outside the last two weeks.

(Update 4:05 p.m. — Based on pre-game warmups, it appears that Monroe will serve as the emergency backup tackle for Saturday’s game with Hurst remaining at left tackle.)

As expected, rookie defensive tackle Timmy Jernigan (foot/ankle) is active after being listed as probable to play and practicing fully all week. He will move back into the defensive line rotation as a substitute behind five-time Pro Bowl defensive tackle Haloti Ngata, who returned from a four-game suspension at the start of the postseason.

With Monroe and Jernigan both active after missing the Pittsburgh game, offensive lineman Ryan Jensen and defensive lineman DeAngelo Tyson were deactivated for Saturday’s game.

The Patriots listed running backs Jonas Gray and James White as inactive, which is interesting considering how much head coach Bill Belichick has liked to use a committee approach in his backfield this season. Of course, New England could struggle finding room against the NFL’s fourth-ranked run defense, regardless of who is receiving the carries.

The Ravens will be playing the Patriots for the fourth time in their playoff history as they have won two of the previous three postseason games played at Gillette Stadium. Baltimore is 1-7 against New England in the all-time regular-season history that’s been overshadowed by four postseason meetings in the last six seasons.

The forecast calls for temperatures dipping below 20 degrees as the game progresses with winds up to 10 miles per hour.

The referee for Saturday’s wild-card game will be Bill Vinovich.

The Ravens will be wearing white jerseys with black pants for Saturday’s game while New England dons its navy blue tops with silver pants.

Below are the inactives for Saturday:

BALTIMORE
DL DeAngelo Tyson
TE Phillip Supernaw
DT Casey Walker
DT Terrence Cody
DE Steven Means
CB Chris Greenwood
OL Ryan Jensen

NEW ENGLAND
RB Jonas Gray
OL Cameron Fleming
OT Jordan Devey
WR Brandon Boyce
TE Steve Maneri
DL Zach Moore
RB James White

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Monroe questionable, Jernigan probable for Saturday’s game

Posted on 09 January 2015 by Luke Jones

The Ravens will hope to get an important piece of their offensive line back as left tackle Eugene Monroe was officially designated as questionable for Saturday’s divisional playoff game in New England.

Monroe practiced on a limited basis all week in his first on-field activity since injuring his ankle in the Week 16 loss at Houston. Rookie free agent James Hurst has filled in for Monroe in each of the last two games, leaving the Ravens without either starting tackle after Rick Wagner was lost for the season in late December.

Should Monroe be able to play, the Ravens will be faced with an interesting decision of whether to shift Hurst to the right tackle spot — allowing Marshal Yanda to return to his normal right guard position — or to stay with the current alignment on the right side of rookie John Urschel at right guard and Yanda playing right tackle.

Rookie defensive tackle Timmy Jernigan (foot/ankle) was listed as probable to play against the Patriots after participating fully in practices all week. The 2014 second-round pick missed last week’s wild-card game in Pittsburgh after injury his left foot in the regular-season finale.

After enjoying their bye week, the Patriots are in excellent health after listing four players as probable for Saturday’s game.

BALTIMORE
QUESTIONABLE: OT Eugene Monroe (ankle)
PROBABLE: TE Owen Daniels (non-injury), DT Timmy Jernigan (foot/ankle), LB Daryl Smith (non-injury), LB Terrell Suggs (non-injury)

NEW ENGLAND
PROBABLE: QB Tom Brady (ankle), WR Julian Edelman (concussion), RB Jonas Gray (ankle), WR Brandon LaFell (shoulder/toe)

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Monroe remains limited participant for Thursday’s practice

Posted on 08 January 2015 by Luke Jones

OWINGS MILLS, Md. — There were no significant changes to Thursday’s injury report as the Ravens completed their final full practice of the week in preparation for their divisional-round meeting with the New England Patriots.

Starting left tackle Eugene Monroe (ankle) remained a limited participant as he hopes to make his return to action for the first time since Dec. 21. Head coach John Harbaugh acknowledged Monroe is “progressing well” but wouldn’t elaborate beyond that when asked by reporters.

Rookie Timmy Jernigan (foot/ankle) was a full participant for the second straight day and appears on track to be back in the defensive line rotation after missing last week’s playoff win in Pittsburgh.

Veteran linebacker Terrell Suggs received a day off from the final practice of the week as he regularly has late in the season.

Meanwhile, the Patriots removed running back LeGarrette Blount (illness) from their injury report a day after he was listed as a limited participant.

Below is Thursday’s full injury report:

BALTIMORE
DID NOT PARTICIPATE: LB Terrell Suggs (non-injury)
LIMITED PARTICIPATION: OT Eugene Monroe (ankle)
FULL PARTICIPATION: DT Timmy Jernigan (foot/ankle), TE Owen Daniels (non-injury), LB Daryl Smith (non-injury)

NEW ENGLAND
LIMITED PARTICIPATION: WR Julian Edelman (concussion), RB Jonas Gray (ankle), WR Brandon LaFell (shoulder/toe)
FULL PARTICIPATION: QB Tom Brady (ankle)

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Monroe limited, Jernigan full participant in Wednesday’s practice

Posted on 07 January 2015 by Luke Jones

OWINGS MILLS, Md. — Optimism continues to grow for the availability of Eugene Monroe and Timmy Jernigan as the Ravens continue preparations for Saturday’s divisional playoff game against the New England Patriots.

The pair practiced for a second straight day Wednesday with Monroe being listed as a limited participant and Jernigan full participating in the workout. The starting left tackle spent time working individually with offensive line coach Juan Castillo during the portion of practice open to reporters.

Monroe told reporters after Wednesday’s practice that he was “very optimistic” about his chances of returning to action for the first time since injuring his ankle in the Week 16 loss at Houston. Rookie free agent James Hurst has been filling in at left tackle while Pro Bowl guard Marshal Yanda has moved to right tackle and rookie John Urschel has handled the right guard position.

Jernigan injured his left foot in the regular-season finale against Cleveland and missed last Saturday’s playoff game in Pittsburgh. With veteran defensive tackle Haloti Ngata back in the starting lineup, the rookie Jernigan would return to a reserve role in trying to put interior heat on Patriots quarterback Tom Brady.

“I feel like I can get back into the rotation, but at the end of the day, that’s the coach’s decision,” said Jernigan, who added he was feeling really good after returning to practice Tuesday. “All I can control is me and the way that I prepare.”

Tight end Owen Daniels and linebacker Daryl Smith both received the day off on Wednesday as they often do for the second practice day of a week

Wide receiver Marlon Brown was back at practice on Wednesday and not listed on the first injury report of the week after he wasn’t present during the open portion of Tuesday’s workout.

Meanwhile, the Patriots saw their entire 53-man roster practicing in Foxborough on Wednesday with starting receivers Julian Edelman (concussion) and Brandon LaFell (shoulder/toe) both limited participants.

BALTIMORE
DID NOT PARTICIPATE: TE Owen Daniels (non-injury), LB Daryl Smith (non-injury)
LIMITED PARTICIPATION: OT Eugene Monroe (ankle)
FULL PARTICIPATION: DT Timmy Jernigan (foot/ankle)

NEW ENGLAND
LIMITED PARTICIPATION: RB LeGarrett Blount (illness), WR Julian Edelman (concussion), RB Jonas Gray (ankle), WR Brandon LaFell (shoulder/toe)
FULL PARTICIPATION: QB Tom Brady (ankle)

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Monroe, Jernigan return to practice on Tuesday

Posted on 06 January 2015 by Luke Jones

OWINGS MILLS, Md. — As expected, the Ravens saw the return of two key cogs to their offensive and defensive lines as Eugene Monroe and Timmy Jernigan took part in the first practice of the week ahead of Saturday’s divisional round meeting with New England.

Head coach John Harbaugh said Monday he expected both players to return from injuries that kept them out of last Saturday’s wild-card win in Pittsburgh. Monroe (ankle) did not appear to be doing much during the portion of practice open to reporters while Jernigan (foot) and the defensive line only observed and stretched during the special-teams part of practice.

Monroe hasn’t played in a game since Week 16 as rookie free agent James Hurst has filled in at left tackle. The Ravens will evaluate how he progresses over the course of the week before making a decision on his availability against the Patriots.

With veteran defensive tackle Haloti Ngata back from suspension, Jernigan’s presence isn’t as critical, but his return would give the Baltimore defense another dangerous interior rusher to harass Patriots quarterback Tom Brady in the pocket.

Wide receiver Marlon Brown was the only player on the 53-man roster not present for Tuesday’s practice. The second-year wideout did not appear to suffer a significant injury in Pittsburgh in the process of catching one pass for nine yards in 13 offensive snaps.

With a couple inches of snow falling in Owings Mills Tuesday, the Ravens practiced on the turf field inside their field house.

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