Tag Archive | "Jimmy Smith"

Tags: , , , , , ,

Campanaro out once again with hamstring injury for Titans game

Posted on 07 November 2014 by Luke Jones

OWINGS MILLS, Md. — The Ravens made final preparations for the Tennessee Titans with few injury questions remaining for Sunday’s game.

Rookie wide receiver Michael Campanaro was ruled out and will miss his second straight game after injuring his hamstring in the Oct. 26 loss to the Cincinnati Bengals. The seventh-round selection had been emerging as a legitimate option in the Baltimore passing game by making six catches for 85 yards and a touchdown in his last three games before getting hurt returning a punt in Cincinnati.

The River Hill product hasn’t practiced since exiting the Bengals game.

Already ruled out after Thursday’s news that he’d undergone season-ending foot surgery, cornerback Jimmy Smith remained on the 53-man roster, but he will be placed on injured reserve in the coming days. Journeyman Danny Gorrer is expected to start opposite Lardarius Webb in the base defense with rookie free agent and former practice-squad member Tramain Jacobs serving as the No. 3 corner.

Offensive lineman Jah Reid (hand) was absent from the portion of practice open to media on Friday and was ruled out after not being listed on the injury report all week. It remained unclear as of Friday afternoon what had happened to the fourth-year offensive lineman.

Pro Bowl right guard Marshal Yanda (knee) and center Jeremy Zuttah (ankle) were each listed as probable for Sunday’s game after practicing fully on Thursday and Friday. Wide receiver Steve Smith, tight end Owen Daniels, and linebacker Daryl Smith were all present and working after receiving a day off on Thursday.

The Titans listed starting wide receiver Nate Washington as questionable as he’s been limited by a shoulder injury, but he was a full participant for practice on Friday.

The referee for Sunday’s game between Baltimore and Tennesee will be Walt Coleman.

According to Weather.com, the forecast calls for temperatures approaching the mid-50s with winds up to eight miles per hour and virtually no chance for precipitation.

Below is the final injury report of the week:

BALTIMORE
OUT: WR Michael Campanaro (thigh), T Jah Reid (hand), CB Jimmy Smith (foot)
PROBABLE: TE Owen Daniels (non-injury), LB Daryl Smith (non-injury), WR Steve Smith (non-injury), G Marshal Yanda (knee), C Jeremy Zuttah (ankle)

TENNESSEE
OUT: TE Taylor Thompson (knee)
QUESTIONABLE: DT Sammie Hill (hamstring), WR Nate Washington (shoulder)
PROBABLE: CB Coty Sensabaugh (knee)

Comments (1)

Tags: , , , , , ,

Ravens cornerback Smith out for year after undergoing foot surgery

Posted on 06 November 2014 by Luke Jones

OWINGS MILLS, Md. — The Ravens received a crushing blow to the remainder of their 2014 season with cornerback Jimmy Smith undergoing season-ending surgery on Thursday.

The fourth-year defensive back was playing at a Pro Bowl level before injuring his left foot on the opening drive of the Ravens’ Week 8 game against the Cincinnati Bengals on Oct. 26. Head coach John Harbaugh said a day later that the No. 1 corner was expected to miss a few weeks with a mid-foot sprain, but Smith had been using crutches with his left foot in a protective boot since the injury.

“The plan for Jimmy was to do more testing once the swelling subsided in his foot, and that was done this morning,” Harbaugh said through a team spokesman Thursday afternoon. “With this exam this morning, the doctors decided that he needed surgery and they repaired the injury. That means Jimmy is finished for the season, but will recover for our offseason program.”

With many regarding Smith as the player the 2014 Ravens could least afford to lose other than quarterback Joe Flacco, the news couldn’t be worse for a pass defense currently ranked 24th in the NFL. The Ravens cut cornerbacks Chykie Brown and Dominique Franks earlier this week, claimed veteran Danny Gorrer off waivers, and promoted rookie free agent Tramain Jacobs from the practice squad.

Will the Ravens make the playoffs after Thursday's news of Jimmy Smith being out for the year?

View Results

Loading ... Loading ...

Baltimore allowed six touchdown passes against Pittsburgh quarterback Ben Roethlisberger in last Sunday’s 43-23 loss to the Steelers.

The hope had been that Smith might return after the Week 11 bye when the Ravens travel to New Orleans to take on Drew Brees and the Saints’ potent passing game, but defensive coordinator Dean Pees will now need to figure out how to make a patchwork secondary survive without its best cornerback for the remainder of the season. Lardarius Webb — who’s still working his way back to full form following a summer back injury — and Gorrer are expected to start with Jacobs serving as the No. 3 corner against the Tennessee Titans on Sunday.

The 28-year-old Gorrer was most recently with the Detroit Lions and previously appeared in 11 games with Baltimore during the 2011 season. Mostly a special-teams player during his career, Gorrer was cut by the Ravens at the end of the 2012 preseason as he was behind Smith, Webb, Cary Williams, and Corey Graham in a deep group of cornerbacks.

With two career starters under his belt, Gorrer will now be expected to play a far more significant role than he ever did in his first run with Baltimore.

“It takes one game to turn things around,” Gorrer said on Wednesday. “Win this weekend, [and] nobody will even talk about what’s been going on. That’s my job and that’s the team focus right now — to get back on track to winning football and playing Baltimore football. That’s everybody’s main goal, and that’s everything everybody has been talking about in meetings right now.”

Asa Jackson remains on injured reserve-designated to return, but the third-year defensive back isn’t eligible to come back until Week 14 at the earliest when the Ravens play the Miami Dolphins. He suffered a serious turf toe injury against Indianapolis on Oct. 5.

With Smith in the final year of his rookie contract, the Ravens have already exercised their fifth-year option worth $6.898 million for the 2015 season, but the 2011 first-round pick has now dealt with a substantial injury in three of his four NFL seasons. Including the remainder of the 2014 season, Smith will have missed 17 games in his pro career.

 

 

Comments (0)

Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

Yanda, Zuttah back at practice for Ravens on Thursday

Posted on 06 November 2014 by Luke Jones

OWINGS MILLS, Md. — The Ravens’ injury picture is coming into focus for Sunday’s matchup with the Tennessee Titans as center Jeremy Zuttah and right guard Marshal Yanda returned to practice after a one-day absence.

Zuttah (ankle) and Yanda (knee) are nursing minor injuries, but both are expected to play in the Ravens’ final game before their Week 11 bye. Cornerback Jimmy Smith (foot) and wide receiver Michael Campanaro (hamstring) were both missing for the second straight day and were already expected to miss Sunday’s game before news came later in the day that Smith would miss the remainder of the season after undergoing surgery.

Wide receiver Steve Smith, tight end Owen Daniels, and linebacker Daryl Smith were all absent during the portion of practice open to media as all three received veteran days off, which typically falls on Thursday. None of the three were listed on Wednesday’s injury report.

Newly-acquired cornerback Danny Gorrer continued working with secondary coach Steve Spagnuolo during the special-teams portion of practice as he’s continuing to catch up on the intricacies of the Baltimore defense. The 28-year-old is expected to start opposite Lardarius Webb with rookie free agent Tramain Jacobs serving as the No. 3 corner against the Titans.

BALTIMORE
OUT: CB Jimmy Smith (foot)
DID NOT PARTICIPATE: WR Michael Campanaro (thigh), TE Owen Daniels (non-injury), LB Daryl Smith (non-injury), WR Steve Smith (non-injury)
FULL PARTICIPATION: G Marshal Yanda (knee), C Jeremy Zuttah (ankle)

TENNESSEE
OUT: TE Taylor Thompson (knee)
LIMITED PARTICIPATION: DT Sammie Hill (hamstring), WR Nate Washington (shoulder)
FULL PARTICIPATION: CB Coty Sensabaugh (knee)

Comments (0)

Tags: , , , , , ,

Zuttah, Yanda sitting out Wednesday’s practice

Posted on 05 November 2014 by Luke Jones

OWINGS MILLS, Md. — A day after the Ravens made changes in their secondary, it was the offensive line missing two key pieces as center Jeremy Zuttah and right guard Marshal Yanda were missing from Wednesday’s practice as preparations continued for a Week 10 game against the Tennessee Titans.

Yanda has been dealing with a knee injury that kept him out of one practice last week, but the Pro Bowl guard played all 71 offensive snaps in the 43-23 loss to Pittsburgh last Sunday.

Despite playing well in his first season in Baltimore, Zuttah turned in his worst performance of the year against Pittsburgh as he struggled at the point of attack and was pushed into the backfield on a number of occasions. It remains unclear how early in the game Zuttah sustained the ankle injury that might have impacted his performance.

Cornerback Jimmy Smith (foot) and wide receiver Michael Campanaro (hamstring) were also absent during the portion of practice open to media. The fourth-year defensive back is expected to miss his second straight game after injuring his left foot in the Week 8 loss to Cincinnati.

Newly-acquired cornerback Danny Gorrer was present and wearing No. 37 as his second run with the Ravens has begun. The 28-year-old was working on his hands and catching passes from secondary coach Steve Spagnuolo during the portion of practice open to media.

While the Ray Rice appeal hearing was getting underway in New York on Wednesday, general manager Ozzie Newsome was watching practice in Owings Mills. Newsome and team president Dick Cass are both expected to testify during the two-day hearing as Rice seeks reinstatement from the indefinite suspension the NFL handed him on Sept. 8.

Meanwhile, the Titans provided a fairly clean injury report with wide receiver Nate Washington (shoulder) being listed as a limited participant and tight end Taylor Thompson (knee) already being ruled out for Sunday’s game.

Below is the full injury report for Wednesday:

BALTIMORE
DID NOT PARTICIPATE: WR Michael Campanaro (thigh), CB Jimmy Smith (foot), G Marshal Yanda (knee), C Jeremy Zuttah (ankle)

TENNESSEE
OUT: TE Taylor Thompson (knee)
LIMITED PARTICIPATION: WR Nate Washington (shoulder)
FULL PARTICIPATION: CB Coty Sensabaugh (knee)

Comments (0)

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Harbaugh looking for members of Ravens secondary to step up

Posted on 03 November 2014 by Luke Jones

OWINGS MILLS, Md. — There was plenty of blame to go around on both sides of the ball in the Ravens’ forgettable 43-23 loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers on Sunday night.

Turnovers, penalties, poor pass protection, and the lack of a consistent pass rush all contributed to the humbling defeat, but it was the play in the secondary that conjured memories of the likes of Corey Ivy, David Pittman, Ronnie Prude, Derrick Martin, and the Ravens’ nightmarish Monday night defeat in Pittsburgh in 2007 in which Ben Roethlisberger threw five touchdown passes in the first half of a 38-7 final. It’s no surprise that the absence of top cornerback Jimmy Smith hurt what’s already been a vulnerable secondary in 2014, but allowing six touchdown passes to Roethlisberger and the Steelers signaled a complete collapse in the back end not seen against Pittsburgh in the John Harbaugh era.

The head coach discussed the secondary’s struggles on Monday after defensive coordinator Dean Pees used seven different players at cornerback and safety against Pittsburgh, but they’re finding no answers at the moment as they shuffle options on and off the field. Perhaps the best example of how uncertain the Ravens are with the state of the defensive backfield was the decision to deactivate rookie safety Terrence Brooks against the Steelers after he appeared to be on the verge of securing a starting job in playing 67 percent of the team’s snaps against Atlanta only two weeks ago.

“When some player expresses himself as being the best player by how he plays, he’ll be out there permanently,” said Harbaugh about the secondary rotation. “Until that happens, nobody’s given anything. I think guys have played OK at times, well at other times, and there have been a few bad plays back there.”

Though there have been far more than a few bad plays in the secondary, Harbaugh wasn’t far off in saying the secondary had held up enough when Smith was still in the fold — the Ravens had allowed only seven touchdown passes in their first eight games — even though they’d had their fair share of lapses and had surrendered plenty of yards. But the “bend, but don’t break” philosophy officially shattered at Heinz Field.

Veteran cornerback Lardarius Webb hasn’t been the same — quarterbacks have posted a 105.0 passer rating against him this season, according to Pro Football Focus — since coming back from the back injury that cost him the entire summer and the first few weeks of the regular season. Dominique Franks and Chykie Brown simply aren’t good enough to play meaningful defensive snaps, and the Ravens originally agreed as Franks was on the free-agent market a month ago and Brown was relegated to the inactive list due to his immense struggles that started in training camp.

The play at safety hasn’t been any better as the Ravens now rank 26th in the NFL in pass defense. The Baltimore defense has faced the third-most pass attempts in the league while ranking 22nd in the NFL with only five interceptions. To make matters worse, only one of those picks has been secured by a defensive back — defensive tackle Haloti Ngata and linebacker C.J. Mosley each have two — when Smith intercepted a pass from Tampa Bay quarterback Mike Glennon in Week 6.

Many aspects of Sunday’s game were ugly, but unlike other areas in which the Ravens have players with proven track records where you can expect improvement, there doesn’t appear to be much they can do in the secondary beyond hoping that Smith is ready to return after the Week 11 bye with upcoming games against New Orleans and San Diego. And the disappearance of the pass rush following a sequence in which they sacked Roethlisberger on three straight plays in the second quarter did the pass defense no favors as the game progressed.

It’s become painfully clear that the Ravens need more from their front seven if their secondary is to survive against any formidable passing attacks over the final two months of the season.

“We’re not disciplined back there in technique like we need to be,” said Harbaugh, who spent 2007 as the Philadelphia Eagles defensive backs coach before becoming the head man in Baltimore a year later. “Our eyes aren’t in the right spot all the time like they need to be. When you’re in the back end – just like on the offensive line – your footwork’s got to be right, your eyes have to be right, your leverage has to be right, and then you’ve got to play the ball well.”

There’s only so much coaching you can do when you don’t have the proper talent.

To no surprise, Harbaugh indicated that the Ravens had several busts in coverage as well as plays in which defensive backs were beaten physically. And even when defenders were in position to make a stop, they often misplayed the ball or missed tackles. Particularly at the safety spot where the Ravens used Will Hill, Darian Stewart, Jeromy Miles, and Matt Elam at different times on Sunday night, one could argue the lack of continuity has hurt performance, but the head coach downplayed that being an issue.

Without throwing his secondary under the bus entirely, Harbaugh didn’t shy away from the need for someone — anyone — to start making plays in pass defense. It’s clear the Ravens have plenty of areas to improve following their humbling loss to the Steelers, but you wonder if the secondary is something that they’re going to be able to fix this year.

“We’re looking for the right combination, but I think that’s a little overrated,” Harbaugh said. “I think it’s the best players. If you want to play in that secondary, step up in practice and play well and step up in the game and makes plays and be in the right spot. That’s what we’re looking for guys to do.”

The Ravens can keep looking, but it’s becoming more and more apparent that they’re not going to like what they see.

Comments (3)

Tags: , , , , , , ,

Ravens-Steelers: Inactives and pre-game notes

Posted on 02 November 2014 by Luke Jones

PITTSBURGH — Trying to keep pace in a very competitive AFC North, the Ravens and the Pittsburgh Steelers renew their intense rivalry for Sunday Night Football for the third time in four years at Heinz Field.

With Cincinnati and Cleveland both winning on Sunday, the loser of Sunday night’s meeting will find themselves sitting in last place with a 5-4 record, an indicator of how tough the division has been so far this season. The Ravens seek their first regular-season sweep of the Steelers since 2011 while Pittsburgh is trying to win its third straight game for sole possession of second place right behind the Bengals.

The Ravens will be shorthanded in the secondary after cornerback Jimmy Smith was officially ruled out on Friday with a mid-foot sprain expected to keep him sidelined until at least after their Week 11 bye. Veteran Dominique Franks, who was re-signed by Baltimore less than a month ago — is expected to start opposite Lardarius Webb in the defensive backfield. How defensive coordinator Dean Pees uses the nickel package remains to be seen as strong safety Matt Elam handled the nickel position extensively earlier in the year when injuries at cornerback were a concern.

Tight end Owen Daniels is active and makes his return after only a one-game absence due to a cleanup procedure in his knee. He looked good running routes during pre-game warmups and practiced on Wednesday and Friday this past week.

As expected, defensive end Chris Canty (wrist) and right guard Marshal Yanda (knee) are also active after both were listed as questionable on the final injury report. Canty missed the last four games while recovering from surgery due to a wrist infection, but he was a full participant in practices all week.

After being inactive in each of Baltimore’s first eight games, second-year linebacker Arthur Brown is active for the first time this season. The 2013 second-round pick is expected to mostly fill a special-teams role, but he could see some snaps in the nickel package with his ability to blitz.

The biggest surprise on the inactive list was rookie safety Terrence Brooks after he was burned on a 53-yard reception on the Bengals’ final scoring drive last week. This will likely lead to more opportunities for safety Will Hill in the Baltimore secondary behind Elam and fellow starter Darian Stewart. Brooks was also inactive for Baltimore’s Week 3 win at Cleveland.

The Ravens will be playing Pittsburgh for the 38th time in their regular-season history as they own a 17-20 record. However, they have won three of their last four regular-season games at Heinz Field and own a 7-10 all-time record in Pittsburgh. The Ravens have won the last four games played in prime time against the Steelers as the teams have split the all-time prime-time series at 6-6.

The referee for Sunday night’s game will be Bill Vinovich.

According to Weather.com, the forecast in Pittsburgh Sunday night calls for temperatures to dip into the mid-30s, but no precipitation is expected and winds will only reach six miles per hour.

The Ravens will be wearing white jerseys with white pants for Sunday night’s game while Pittsburgh dons its black tops with yellow pants.

Below are the inactives for Sunday night:

BALTIMORE
CB Jimmy Smith
WR Michael Campanaro
S Terrence Brooks
LB Zach Orr
OL Gino Gradkowski
DE Lawrence Guy
OL Jah Reid

PITTSBURGH
CB Ike Taylor
S Ross Ventrone
QB Landry Jones
WR Justin Brown
CB B.W. Webb
DL Daniel McCullers
OL Chris Hubbard

Comments (0)

Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

Ravens-Steelers: Five predictions for Sunday night

Posted on 01 November 2014 by Luke Jones

No strangers to meeting in the national spotlight, the Ravens and Steelers will meet in prime time for the 13th time in the series history on Sunday night.

Baltimore will be looking for its first regular-season sweep of Pittsburgh since 2011 while the Steelers aim for their third straight win overall. Both teams enter the weekend right on the heels of the first-place Cincinnati Bengals in the AFC North.

Sunday marks the 38th time these teams have met in the regular season with the Steelers owning a 20-17 advantage. The Ravens are 7-11 in regular-season games played in Pittsburgh, but they’ve won three of the last four played at Heinz Field.

Here’s what to expect as the Ravens try to improve to 6-3 in a very competitive AFC North …

1. Steelers wideout Antonio Brown will catch a long touchdown in the first quarter as a reshuffled secondary tries to get its bearings. Defensive coordinator Dean Pees will need to be creative with coverages as top cornerback Jimmy Smith is out. The timing couldn’t be much worse as Brown has been arguably the best receiver in the NFL this season and is tied for the league lead with 10 catches of 25 or more yards. Pees will likely entrust Lardarius Webb to cover Brown, which is a daunting task for a cornerback working his way back to top form after a lengthy absence due to a back injury. A miscommunication will allow Brown to break free for a long score as the Ravens defense tries to get in sync.

2. Rookie Lorenzo Taliaferro will score a touchdown for a second straight game and lead the Ravens in rushing. Baltimore ran for 157 yards in the first meeting against the Steelers in Week 2, but it wasn’t until the fourth quarter that the running game really wore down a tired Pittsburgh front. This defense is softer than the typical Steelers unit and ranks 11th against the run, and the physicality of Taliaferro will be a strong change of pace from shifty starter Justin Forsett. With concerns in their own secondary, the Ravens will want to control the clock and limit the Steelers’ opportunities for possessions and Taliaferro will get plenty of carries in the second half with Bernard Pierce now third on the depth chart.

3. The Baltimore defense will limit Le’Veon Bell’s production on the ground, but the Pittsburgh running back will lead his team in receptions. The Ravens are allowing only 3.7 yards per carry and rank seventh in the NFL in run defense as they’ve slowed opposing running backs all season. However, the Steelers are finding more and more ways to get the ball to the 244-pound back as a receiver as he’s second on the team in receiving yards. With the Ravens trying to account for not having Smith, they’re going to be content with giving cushion and allowing throws underneath to prevent the big play. Pittsburgh will use this to its advantage by getting the ball to Bell in the passing game.

4. Terrell Suggs will collect two sacks to pick up 100 for his career. There’s no downplaying how crucial it will be for the Ravens to generate pressure as they’ll be depending on the pair of Dominique Franks — who was on the street at this time a month ago — and Chykie Brown — who spent the last two weeks on the inactive list — at the cornerback position opposite Webb. Much like he’ll mix and disguise coverages in the back end, Pees will move Suggs, Elvis Dumervil, and Pernell McPhee around to confuse an improving offensive line and harass Roethlisberger. Suggs needs two sacks for 100 in his career, and nothing would be more fitting than doing it against the quarterback he’s sacked more than any other rusher has.

5. Pittsburgh will win a 26-23 game that goes back and forth for much of the night. Admittedly, when trying to break down Ravens-Steelers, it’s probably best to put aside the numbers and simply remember that 11 of the 15 total meetings in the John Harbaugh era — counting the postseason — have been decided by four or fewer points. However, the loss of Smith hurts more than any player on the current roster beyond quarterback Joe Flacco and the Steelers offense is playing at a high level at the wrong time for Baltimore. Both offenses will move the ball effectively, but the Steelers will do a little too much damage in the passing game for the Ravens to overcome.

Comments (0)

Tags: , , , , , , ,

Yanda, Daniels, Canty listed as questionable for Steelers game

Posted on 31 October 2014 by Luke Jones

OWINGS MILLS, Md. — Making final preparations for their prime-time battle with the Pittsburgh Steelers, the Ravens listed tight end Owen Daniels, defensive end Chris Canty, and right guard Marshal Yanda as questionable for Sunday’s game.

Daniels practiced Friday after he received Thursday off and is rapidly working his way back from last week’s cleanup procedure on his left knee. The veteran tight end was a limited participant on Wednesday after missing last week’s game in Cincinnati, but he was listed as a full participant for Friday’s workout.

Head coach John Harbaugh said a decision on Daniels likely won’t be made until Sunday evening, but he painted an optimistic picture for Yanda, who returned to practice on a limited basis Thursday and worked fully on Friday. Yanda injured his knee in Week 8, but he returned to play in the 27-24 loss to the Bengals.

“It’ll probably be a game-time [decision] for Owen, realistically, coming off knee surgery,” Harbaugh said. “Yanda practiced [Friday]. We’ll see how the knee reacts, but he’s a tough guy.”

Cornerback Jimmy Smith (foot) and wide receiver Michael Campanaro (hamstring) were the only players absent from Friday’s practice as both were officially ruled out. Harbaugh said Monday that Smith would miss a few weeks with a mid-foot sprain, and the fourth-year cornerback is currently using crutches with his left foot in a protective boot.

Canty was a full participant all week and appears on track to make his return after a four-game absence due to surgery to address an infection in his wrist.

“Overall, I feel good; I feel healthy,” said Canty, who downplayed conditioning being a concern after a month-long layoff. “I think the coaches think I’m coming along nicely. We’ll see where we’re at, and they’ll evaluate things. Hopefully, I’ll have an opportunity to help this team win come Sunday.”

Running back Justin Forsett (ankle) and defensive tackle Haloti Ngata (shin) were listed as probable for Sunday’s game after practicing for a second straight day. Also listed as probable was linebacker Terrell Suggs, who missed two practices this week before returning to the field on Friday.

Harbaugh said the veteran pass-rusher looked “fine” after some rest earlier in the week.

Meanwhile, the Steelers officially ruled out cornerback Ike Taylor and safety Ross Ventrone. Taylor had practiced on a limited basis this week, but Pittsburgh is trying to be cautious after he suffered a broken forearm in late September.

All other players listed on Pittsburgh’s injury report were listed as probable.

The referee for Sunday night’s game will be Bill Vinovich.

The forecast for Heinz Field on Sunday night calls for temperatures dipping into the 30s, but winds should dissipate in time for the 8:30 p.m. kickoff and there is only a 10 percent chance of precipitation.

Below is the final injury report for Sunday’s game:

BALTIMORE
OUT: WR Michael Campanaro (thigh), CB Jimmy Smith (foot)
QUESTIONABLE: DE Chris Canty (wrist), TE Owen Daniels (knee), G Marshal Yanda (knee)
PROBABLE: RB Justin Forsett (ankle), DT Haloti Ngata (shin), LB Terrell Suggs (neck), CB Lardarius Webb (non-injury)

PITTSBURGH
OUT: CB Ike Taylor (forearm), S Ross Ventrone (hamstring)
PROBABLE: T Marcus Gilbert (concussion), DE Brett Keisel (non-injury), DT Steve McLendon (shoulder), TE Heath Miller (non-injury), S Michael Mitchell (non-injury), S Troy Polamalu (non-injury), LB Ryan Shazier (knee), TE Matt Spaeth (hamstring), S Shamarko Thomas (hamstring)

Comments (0)

Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Short-handed Ravens secondary has no time for excuses against Steelers

Posted on 30 October 2014 by Luke Jones

OWINGS MILLS, Md. — There’s no hiding from the danger of Jimmy Smith being absent in the Ravens’ secondary, especially when you’re facing Ben Roethlisberger and a Pittsburgh Steelers passing game that threw for over 500 yards last week.

They won’t find an easy fix for a pass defense that ranks 22nd in the NFL and has looked vulnerable even with the Pro Bowl-caliber cornerback in the secondary. But the Ravens have no time to feel sorry for themselves as they look to improve to 6-3 in an ultra-competitive AFC North with all four teams currently sporting winning records.

“I don’t think the Steelers are feeling really bad about it, so we can’t feel really bad about it,” said defensive coordinator Dean Pees about Smith’s foot injury expected to keep him out at least until after the Week 11 bye. “We just have to go with the next guy. [We] have to do what we can do to try to get the guys in the best position we can put them in as a coaching staff to give them success and go with it.”

But who is that next guy opposite Lardarius Webb, who is still working his way back to pre-injury form himself?

Is it Dominique Franks, who recently found his way into the nickel package after being signed to replace the injured Asa Jackson in early October? He was on the free-agent market at this time last month after being deemed not good enough by Baltimore at the end of the preseason.

Then there’s Chykie Brown, who entered training camp as the favorite to be the No. 3 cornerback behind Smith and Webb before struggling so dramatically that he was a healthy inactive the last two weeks. Safety Anthony Levine has also practiced at the cornerback position since the summer, but he’s played only five defensive snaps all season.

The Ravens could promote Tramain Jacobs — a rookie free agent from Texas A&M who impressed during training camp — from the practice squad, but a move such as that would likely see him serving on a special-teams role and as an insurance policy behind the others.

None of the aforementioned options opposite Webb inspire confidence, and that’s assuming Pees uses one of the Ravens’ safeties at the nickel position as he has for large stretches of the season.

“We’ve got to find somebody to step up,” strong safety Matt Elam said. “We know it’s going to be hard to do the things Jimmy’s been doing, but we need somebody to step up and do whatever it takes to help the team win. We’ve still got [time] to prepare and get right so we can execute. Just do whatever it takes to get a [win].”

It’s easier said than done against an offense sporting arguably the best receiver in the NFL in Antonio Brown as well as emerging young wideouts Martavis Bryant and Markus Wheaton. Pees spoke Thursday about the challenge of not being able to put all their focus on slowing Brown with Roethlisberger suddenly having more options to throw to at the wide receiver position.

Needless to say, the pressure to contain Brown is likely to fall on the shoulders of Webb, whose own status many were questioning just a few weeks ago after a back injury had wiped out his entire summer as well as much of the first month of the season. The 5-foot-10 Brown isn’t physically imposing, which is good news for the similarly-statured Webb if he’s to shadow him all over the field.

Now would be a great time for Webb to regain the form he enjoyed prior to his second ACL injury in 2012 when he was on the verge of becoming one of the best cornerbacks in the AFC. His style is a major contrast to the 6-foot-2 Smith, who uses a combination of speed and physicality.

“Webb is more [of] a quicker guy and a lot smaller, more fluid, [and has good hands],” said Brown, who leads the NFL with 60 receptions on a staggering 87 targets in eight games. “Smith is a bigger, stronger guy who they like to put on the line of scrimmage and be disruptive at the line of scrimmage.”

The good news for the Ravens defense is the overall familiarity the coaching staff and veteran players have with the Pittsburgh offense. There are few surprises between these teams and the Ravens were certainly able to harass Roethlisberger in their Week 2 win in Baltimore when they held the Steelers to only six points.

But the Ravens know the pass rush must be on point in not only disrupting the signal-caller’s timing but in keeping him in the pocket as head coach John Harbaugh acknowledged no one is capable of the “extend the play thing” better than Roethlisberger. It’s a scene all too familiar in watching the Pittsburgh quarterback escape pressure to eventually find an open receiver breaking away from downfield coverage.

The challenge is always there for a coordinator to strike the right balance between sending extra blitzers — leaving fewer in coverage — or playing with more defenders in the back end and relying on a four-man rush, but Pees will need to be more creative than ever with the shortage at cornerback. How the secondary will look is anyone’s guess as the Ravens may go back to Elam playing the nickel position as they’ve frequently done this season or they could turn to another such as the intriguing Will Hill or rookie Terrence Brooks, who played some nickel in the preseason.

It won’t be easy against the league’s fourth-ranked passing game, but anyone knows not to dwell too much on the numbers in this AFC North rivalry in which 10 of the last 13 regular-season meetings have been decided by three or fewer points.

“We have the guys we need. Every team faces some kind of a situation at some position,” Harbaugh said. “We’ve had injuries all year in different positions, and you just have to step up. It’s not something we talk about. We don’t make a big deal about it. It’s not a point of emphasis for us. It’s just we’re the team; it’s the Ravens’ team. And whoever is part of it goes out there and plays and does their best.”

Comments (0)

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Forsett, Ngata, Yanda return to practice on Thursday

Posted on 30 October 2014 by Luke Jones

OWINGS MILLS, Md. — After seven players missed Wednesday’s practice as the Ravens prepare to play the arch rival Pittsburgh Steelers, three starters returned to the field a day later.

Running back Justin Forsett (ankle), right guard Marshal Yanda (knee), and defensive tackle Haloti Ngata (shin) were all present and working after sitting out Wednesday’s workout. Cornerback Lardarius Webb (non-injury) was also practicing after receiving a veteran day off.

Linebacker Terrell Suggs (neck), wide receiver Michael Campanaro (hamstring), and cornerback Jimmy Smith (foot) remained sidelined. Tight end Owen Daniels (knee) was not present during the portion of practice open to media after working on a limited basis Wednesday.

It remains to be seen whether the Ravens were simply resting Daniels or his knee didn’t respond as favorably as they’d hoped to him practicing so soon after last week’s cleanup procedure.

Wide receiver Steve Smith and linebacker Daryl Smith were not present during the viewing portion of practice, but they were not listed on Thursday’s injury report.

Defensive end Chris Canty (wrist surgery) was practicing once again after being listed as a full participant on Wednesday’s injury report. It appears the veteran will have a good chance of returning to action against Pittsburgh if his conditioning is up to par after a four-game absence due to an infection in his wrist.

For the Steelers, cornerback Ike Taylor (forearm) was a limited participant for the second straight day, leaving open the possibility of him playing for the first time since Week 3.

Below is Thursday’s full injury report:

BALTIMORE
DID NOT PARTICIPATE: WR Michael Campanaro (thigh), TE Owen Daniels (knee), CB Jimmy Smith (foot), LB Terrell Suggs (neck)
LIMITED PARTICIPATION: RB Justin Forsett (ankle), G Marshal Yanda (knee)
FULL PARTICIPATION: DE Chris Canty (wrist), DT Haloti Ngata (shin), , CB Lardarius Webb (non-injury)

PITTSBURGH
DID NOT PARTICIPATE: DE Brett Keisel (non-injury), TE Heath Miller (non-injury), S Troy Polamalu (non-injury), S Ross Ventrone (hamstring)
LIMITED PARTICIPATION: S Michael Mitchell (non-injury), CB Ike Taylor (forearm)
FULL PARTICIPATION: T Marcus Gilbert (concussion), DT Steve McLendon (shoulder), LB Ryan Shazier (knee), TE Matt Spaeth (hamstring), S Shamarko Thomas (hamstring)

Comments (0)