Tag Archive | "Joe Flacco"

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Flacco, Ravens must find middle ground in passing game

Posted on 08 November 2017 by Luke Jones

OWINGS MILLS, Md. — Much of the discussion about the Ravens offense during the bye week has focused on the deep ball and the pending return of running back Danny Woodhead.

But even in a losing effort, Sunday’s game in Tennessee offered hope for the biggest key in finding more production in the passing attack. In the final three quarters of the 23-20 defeat to the Titans, Joe Flacco completed eight of nine targets to veteran wide receiver Jeremy Maclin for 98 yards.

Four of those nine attempts traveled more than 10 yards through the air — all of them completions — and seven were to the middle of the field. Six of the eight receptions went for first downs in what amounted to Maclin’s best game as a Raven despite the lack of a touchdown catch.

It’s apparent that the short passing has been excessive and largely unproductive without a dynamic running back or tight end to pick up yards after the catch this season. And while Baltimore certainly needs to attempt — and connect on — a few more deep shots to Mike Wallace, those are always going to be lower-percentage throws when an offense lacks a transcendent talent such as Julio Jones.

The 10-to-20-yard range is the meat and potatoes for most effective passing games.

“It’s the chunk area, the intermediate area, especially inside,” head coach John Harbaugh said. “Those are areas we need to make plays, and we had a few of those with Maclin [in Week 9]. They were in two-man-type coverages, and Jeremy did a nice job of getting open. Joe stepped up and made a couple nice throws there.

“Those are the kind of chunk plays that make the difference and move the chains.”

Intermediate throws just haven’t been there for the Ravens. According to ESPN’s passing splits, only 12.7 percent of Flacco’s attempts this season have traveled 11 to 20 yards downfield, an overwhelming career low for the 10th-year quarterback.

That’s way down from the 15.6 percent of his attempts traveling that range of distance last season, his previous career worst. For context, Flacco was entrusted as a rookie in a run-heavy offense in 2008 to attempt passes 11 to 20 yards through the air 23.1 percent of the time. Over most of his career, 17 to 21 percent of Flacco’s attempts traveled to that range.

Making matters worse, he’s completed only 14 of his 37 throws (37.8 percent) 11 to 20 yards through the air for two touchdowns, five interceptions, and a meager 5.97 yards per attempt. Over most of his career, he hovered in the 45-to-55-percent completion range for eight to nine yards per attempt.

Couple that with the reality of Flacco completing only five of his 17 attempts traveling more than 20 yards in the air — far too few deep shots in nine games — and it’s no surprise that moving the ball has been so difficult for this passing attack. Any offense constantly needing all three downs to move the chains is going to struggle.

“It seems that all of [our scoring drives] are just long ones, and it is tough to have a lot of those long drives and do that consistently,” Flacco said. “You have to have some of those quick strikes in you, so you do not have to convert four or five third downs every single drive in order to score a touchdown.”

Of course, there are many variables at work beyond the performance — and health — of Flacco himself. Injuries on the offensive line, suspect play-calling, and the lack of dynamic talent at the skill positions have all been major obstacles. The return of Woodhead should provide a bump in production on short passes, but that’s assuming the 32-year-old can stay on the field as he’s missed 35 games over the last four seasons.

The biggest key to improving the passing game down the stretch will be Maclin, who missed two games with a shoulder injury last month and was unable to build an on-field rapport with his new quarterback over the summer as Flacco was sidelined with a back issue. General manager Ozzie Newsome signed Maclin in mid-June to produce in the intermediate portion of the field, but he’s registered just 27 catches for 310 yards with almost half of that yardage coming over the last two games.

The Ravens clearly want to lean on their eighth-ranked rushing attack as much as they can, but offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg and Flacco building on what they’ve accomplished with Maclin over the last two weeks is a must for this offense to become more functional.

Scheming ways to get him open beyond the chains and targeting him more frequently would help create more space underneath for the likes of Woodhead and tight end Benjamin Watson and more opportunities for deep shots to Wallace with a better chance of succeeding. Without production in the intermediate middle portion of the field, cornerbacks and linebackers can clamp down on underneath routes while allowing opponents to stay in two-high-safety looks that take away the deep passing game. That’s happened too often over the first nine games of the season.

Despite Sunday’s defeat to the Titans, the Ravens can only hope what they uncovered with Maclin was a sign of better things to come for the league’s worst passing attack. Big plays down the field and more yards after the catch on short throws underneath are certainly parts of the equation, but the Ravens need to create as many opportunities as they can for their best pass-catcher.

If this offense is going to improve enough to give the Ravens a real chance to make the playoffs down the stretch, Maclin needs to become the go-to guy in a way not different from how Flacco leaned on Derrick Mason, Anquan Boldin, and Steve Smith at different points in his career. This passing game desperately needs to find that middle ground between underneath throws and deep shots.

“I said it all along: Jeremy is a good player, and he makes it easy,” Flacco said. “But the more time you get with him, the better and better it is.”

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Twelve Ravens thoughts following 23-20 loss to Tennessee

Posted on 07 November 2017 by Luke Jones

With the Ravens suffering their fifth defeat in seven games in a 23-20 final at Tennessee, I’ve offered a dozen thoughts, each in 50 words or less:

1. Many are mocking John Harbaugh’s claim that the Ravens remain in the playoff race, but he isn’t wrong when you see the remaining schedule and mediocrity of the wild-card candidates. Still, I can’t help but think Sunday’s loss tipped the scales in the wrong direction, especially from a tiebreaker standpoint.

2. It’s becoming very difficult to justify Breshad Perriman being on the field. His inability to effectively use his size and speed reflects an utter lack of confidence, and he doesn’t contribute on special teams. He wants to do well, but the 2015 first-round pick looks completely lost.

3. Jeremy Maclin had his best game as a Raven, catching eight passes on nine targets for 98 yards. He’s had his problems staying healthy, but there’s no reason he shouldn’t be targeted more frequently with so many others underperforming in this passing game.

4. I didn’t have a problem with the decision to go for it on fourth down to begin the final quarter, but how do you fail to even try to block inside linebacker Wesley Woodyard, who didn’t do anything out of the ordinary on the play? That’s elementary football right there.

5. Delanie Walker was the latest tight end to give the Baltimore pass defense problems. He caught all five passes thrown his way, and his 25-yard reception was a key plays of the Titans’ final touchdown drive. Per Football Outsiders, the Ravens entered Week 9 ranked dead last covering tight ends.

6. Nick Boyle’s absence was a big loss for the running game as Harbaugh even labeled him a “centerpiece” for what they do from a blocking standpoint. It was just the third time this season the Ravens have been held under 100 yards rushing.

7. The run defense held the formidable duo of DeMarco Murray and Derrick Henry to a combined 45 yards on 17 carries. Since surrendering the 21-yard run to Jay Ajayi on the second play from scrimmage in Week 8, the Ravens have given up 97 rushing yards on 39 attempts. That’s more like it.

8. Whether it’s his back or Father Time, Joe Flacco isn’t showing enough mobility in the pocket to consistently be successful. On third-and-4 early in the third quarter, he needed to step up and to the right against a three-man rush, but he instead retreated backwards and was flagged for grounding.

9. I groaned seeing Flacco — with plenty of time — throw a 1-yard pass to Benjamin Watson on third-and-10 at the Tennessee 13 on Baltimore’s opening drive. You certainly don’t want to do anything foolish to jeopardize a field goal, but that’s not even trying, whether by design or execution.

10. On the principle of his superb special-teams play alone, Chris Moore should be receiving opportunities over Perriman at this point. I’m not convinced he can do a serviceable job, either, but he has one fewer catch in 162 fewer offensive snaps this season.

11. I liked the option look employed by the Ravens with Buck Allen and Alex Collins on the fourth-and-2 run in the second quarter. With Marty Mornhinweg remaining the offensive coordinator, you can only pray much more creativity is in the works over the bye week.

12. No play better epitomized the Baltimore offense than when Ryan Jensen snapped the ball wildly, Flacco threw behind the receiver, and Watson bobbled the catch for a 1-yard loss late in the third quarter. As CBS analyst Rich Gannon described it perfectly, “They make the easy things look difficult.”

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Familiar script plays out for Ravens in deflating loss at Tennessee

Posted on 05 November 2017 by Luke Jones

The script was all too familiar for the Ravens in a 23-20 loss to Tennessee on Sunday.

Some of the names have changed, but we’ve seen this defeat over and over and over again since Super Bowl XLVII.

A comatose offense that stumbles its way into some decent football late — but only after putting itself in a sizable hole. A defense that perseveres at a high level until needing to make a big stop in crunch time. And an array of little things from special-teams penalties to debatable coaching decisions sprinkled into a one-possession loss.

It might as well be 2013 or 2015 or 2016. Having lost five of their last seven going into their bye week, the Ravens are firmly in that mediocre spot that’s become their residence for the last five years. And they’ll need a strong finish to avoid missing the playoffs for the fourth time in five seasons and haven’t won back-to-back games since the first two weeks of the season.

What else really needs to be said about an offense that’s summarily broken? Even with a solid running game, the unit hasn’t been good enough, so you didn’t need to be Vince Lombardi to predict what would happen when the Titans were able to shut down the surprising Alex Collins on Sunday.

The problems are abundant and the solutions aren’t there from a coaching or talent standpoint.

On a day when veteran wide receiver Jeremy Maclin, the team’s only dependable pass-catcher, had his best performance of the season, 2015 first-round pick Breshad Perriman again looked like someone not belonging on the field as he failed to high-point two deep passes — one leading to an interception — and dropped another pass in an awful first half. Fellow speedster Mike Wallace was also a non-factor until catching a 1-yard touchdown in the final minute when the Ravens trailed by two possessions.

Joe Flacco doesn’t have nearly enough help around him, but he’s also slow to react to certain situations and threw a bad interception on the first drive of the second half. As has been the case for a few years now, the veteran quarterback isn’t the offense’s biggest problem, but he hasn’t been enough of an answer, either.

By design or by execution, the horizontal passes well short of the chains on third downs continue to be maddening.

You’d like to think the bye could spawn some new ideas and the return of the oft-injured Danny Woodhead might help, but offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg has now had the reins of this group for 20 regular-season games and has yet to show himself as any kind of meaningful asset. Are the Ravens miraculously going to have an offensive breakthrough with the week off while maintaining the status quo?

Of course, the defense isn’t without blame despite a strong showing for much of the day. The two touchdowns allowed through the first three quarters came on short fields, and Eric Weddle’s interception set up Baltimore’s first touchdown of the game to make it a 16-13 deficit with nine minutes remaining.

But when the Ravens needed one more stop to give the offense a chance to tie or take the lead, the defense crumbled, allowing two third-down conversions and a touchdown pass from Marcus Mariota to Eric Decker with 3:58 to go. Yielding a couple first downs or even a field goal wouldn’t have been the end of the world, but you just can’t give up seven in that spot. Tennessee ran fewer plays and trailed in time of possession, so you can’t say it’s because Dean Pees’ group was tired.

The defense couldn’t finish, which has been the story way too often for some statistically-strong units over the last several years. It’s the reason why the front office chose to ignore the offense this offseason to focus on strengthening a top 10 defense from a year ago, but the problem reared its head again on Sunday.

To be clear, this is a good defense, but the group hasn’t been great enough to overcome the major deficiencies on the other side of the ball or to justify the many resources exhausted on it this past offseason. The Ravens may have cleaned up their issues stopping the run over the last two weeks, but the pass rush still isn’t good enough to expect the group to become otherworldly down the stretch.

The little things also killed the Ravens on Sunday. Teams with such little margin for error can’t have Tyus Bowser line up illegally on a successful punt and then have Sam Koch shank one that sets up an easy Titans touchdown. Za’Darius Smith’s unnecessary roughness penalty was as ticky-tack as it gets, but even head coach John Harbaugh and teammate Eric Weddle said it was avoidable, especially knowing officials were on alert after Matt Judon’s borderline hit on Mariota earlier in the half.

Harbaugh received much criticism for unsuccessfully going for a fourth-and-inches from the Tennessee 17 to begin the fourth quarter, but I’ll side with the decision despite the outcome. As the 10th-year coach noted, anyone would tell you going for it in that situation is a no-brainer from a win probability standpoint. Yes, kicking a field goal does make it a one-score game, but you’re then counting on your defense to not allow any more points and your offense to drive the length of the field again to score a touchdown, which was highly questionable at that point. Many cited Justin Tucker as the reason for taking the points, but having such a great kicker leaves me more inclined to go for the touchdown there, knowing I may not need to do very much later to get a shot at a 50- or 55-yard attempt to tie the game.

Sure, if you know your defense will force a turnover on the ensuing possession, you’ll take the three points every time, but we can’t assume subsequent events play out the same or that Tennessee would have played the same defense had the Ravens trailed by seven and not 10 on their final touchdown drive. The decision was certainly debatable and I didn’t like the play call itself, but it wasn’t the egregious error some made it out to be, especially when replays indicated that Buck Allen picked up the first down. Alas, it was a bad spot and a predictable review outcome on a type of challenge that’s difficult to win.

In the end, the Ravens were unlucky to go along with not being good enough on Sunday.

It added up to the kind of loss we’ve seen too many times in recent years.

Instead of securing a road win that could have put them in a good position with a very reasonable schedule after the bye, the Ravens face a steep climb with a losing record and a less-than-ideal tiebreaker profile in a mediocre AFC wild-card race. Six of the remaining seven games do look quite winnable on paper, but each is also a potential loss for such an inconsistent group.

And after Sunday’s bout of déjà vu, the Ravens aren’t showing signs that things will be different this time around.

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Ravens-Titans: Inactives and pre-game notes

Posted on 05 November 2017 by Luke Jones

The Ravens are getting healthier at the wide receiver position, but they’ll be without a key tight end for Sunday’s meeting with the Tennessee Titans.

After sitting out practices all week with a toe injury, Nick Boyle is officially inactive and will miss his first game of the season. Regarded as Baltimore’s best blocking tight end, Boyle is a key component in senior offensive assistant Greg Roman’s improved rushing attack, which is bad news as the Ravens face the league’s 10th-ranked run defense. Third-year tight end Maxx Williams will be asked to help pick up the slack as he’s active for just the second time since suffering an ankle injury in Week 2.

As expected, quarterback Joe Flacco (concussion) and wide receivers Jeremy Maclin (shoulder) and Mike Wallace (concussion) are all active and will start against the Titans. This is the first time both Maclin and Wallace have been on the field together since Week 5, an important development for a passing game ranking dead last in the NFL entering Week 9.

After being activated from injured reserve on Friday, second-year cornerback Maurice Canady will make his 2017 debut.

Rookie outside linebacker Tim Williams (thigh) is inactive for the fourth straight game. Despite being listed as questionable on the final injury report, he was a full participant in practices all week, which may mean his deactivation was more of a coaching decision than about his health.

Meanwhile, the Titans will have the services of their best receiver as tight end Delanie Walker is active despite missing practice time this week with an ankle issue. Walker will be joined on the field by rookie first-round wide receiver Corey Davis (hamstring), who is active for the first time since Week 2.

Sunday’s referee is John Hussey.

According to Weather.com, the Sunday forecast in Nashville calls for mostly cloudy skies and temperatures reaching the high 70s with winds averaging 16 miles per hour and a 15 percent chance of precipitation. Expected wind gusts could cause problems in the passing and kicking games.

The Ravens are wearing white jerseys and white pants while Tennessee dons navy blue jerseys with light blue pants.

Sunday marks the first time since 2014 that these former AFC Central rivals have met with the regular-season series currently tied 9-9 and the Ravens holding a 2-1 advantage in playoff contests. The Titans own a 5-4 home mark against Baltimore.

Below are Sunday’s inactives:

BALTIMORE
WR Michael Campanaro
RB Terrance West
S Chuck Clark
LB Tim Williams
OL Maurquice Shakir
TE Nick Boyle
DE Bronson Kaufusi

TENNESSEE
QB Brandon Weeden
WR Darius Jennings
CB Kalan Reed
DB Curtis Riley
LB Nate Palmer
G Quinton Spain
DE David King

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Ravens-Titans: Five predictions for Sunday

Posted on 04 November 2017 by Luke Jones

The Ravens will tell you every game is important.

That’s just reality when you’re 4-4 and haven’t won back-to-back games since the first two weeks of the season. Sunday’s trip to Tennessee might be the most pivotal game remaining on the schedule for an inconsistent team trying to gain traction in the quest for its first playoff berth since 2014. If you concede that Baltimore’s chances of catching first-place Pittsburgh appear bleak, the result against the Titans becomes even more critical in sizing up the AFC wild-card picture.

A win puts Baltimore a game above .500 entering the bye week with a reasonable schedule down the stretch with several opponents having messy quarterback situations. A loss would force the Ravens to win five of their final seven contests just to get to 9-7 and — even worse — would give both Tennessee and Jacksonville head-to-head tiebreaker advantages in the playoff pecking order.

“When it comes down to the ‘who’s in, who’s out’ [talk], it’s going to come down to these teams,” wide receiver Mike Wallace said. “We need this win. We’ve been doing a pretty good job of that this year. We have some losses, obviously, but those losses are against teams that’s maybe not going to affect us going to the playoffs besides Jacksonville. We just need to continue to win, and we’ll get where we need to go.”

It’s time to go on the record as these onetime AFC Central rivals meet for the 19th time in the all-time regular-season series that’s tied 9-9, but the Ravens are 2-1 in postseason encounters. The Titans own a 5-4 record in home games against Baltimore dating back to 1996.

Below are five predictions for Sunday:

1. Tight ends and edge defenders will be the deciding factors in this game. This is a rather bland proclamation, but Tennessee’s best pass-catcher is tight end Delanie Walker, who is questionable to play with an ankle injury. Six of the nine touchdown passes allowed by the Ravens defense this season have been to tight ends. Meanwhile, Nick Boyle is also questionable after missing the entire week of practice with a toe injury. His blocking has been a critical part of Baltimore’s seventh-ranked running game. Both rushing attacks depend on popping outside runs for chunk yardage, and the Ravens have been inconsistent setting the edge and have occasionally lost containment against mobile quarterbacks.

2. The Ravens will be held under 100 rushing yards for just the third time this season. Head coach John Harbaugh deemed Boyle a game-time decision Friday, but it’s tough envisioning him playing without any practice, putting much pressure on the remaining group of tight ends as run blockers. Tennessee ranks fifth in the NFL in yards per carry allowed, so the surprising Alex Collins could have his hands full should Boyle not be on the field. The matchup between guards James Hurst and Matt Skura and Titans defensive linemen Jurrell Casey and DaQuan Jones will be crucial with the latter two having the advantage on paper.

3. Marcus Mariota will throw for a touchdown and run for another. The Titans’ bye week came at the perfect time for their quarterback, who had been hampered with a hamstring injury and is no longer listed on the injury report. He is much more dangerous as a passer when he moves from the pocket and can improvise with an ordinary group of receivers. Baltimore’s pass defense has been its biggest strength, but Terrell Suggs and the young pass rushers must be disciplined trying to get by Titans offensive tackles Taylor Lewan and Jack Conklin to prevent Mariota from hurting them with his legs.

4. Joe Flacco will find Wallace for a long touchdown pass. The Ravens quarterback has been at his best this year when offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg has designed pass plays to get him on the move instead of remaining static in the pocket, so that needs to continue if the league’s 32nd-ranked passing attack is ever going to grow. The Titans are vulnerable in the secondary and rank 19th in the NFL against the pass, so the Ravens need to use the run game and play fakes to get the defense out of two-high safety looks. If they do that, Wallace will be able to slip past rookie cornerback Adoree’ Jackson.

5. Baltimore will come up short in a 20-16 loss to the Titans. This is the kind of game a playoff hopeful reflects upon at the end of the season as a deciding factor in whether a team is playing in January or watching the playoffs on the couch. The Ravens have proven to be capable of playing at a high level with four wins decided by 13 or more points, but those performances have been soiled by some real clunkers in defeat. I’d normally like the Ravens’ chances more with extra rest against a decent — but hardly special — opponent, but Tennessee coming off its bye week wipes away that potential advantage. A key takeaway or a big special-teams play could certainly swing the outcome, but the healthier Titans playing at home will get the job done as the Ravens go into the bye with much work to do.

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Wallace out of concussion protocol, poised to return against Tennessee

Posted on 02 November 2017 by Luke Jones

OWINGS MILLS, Md. — Ravens wide receiver Mike Wallace has passed concussion protocol and is on track to play against Tennessee despite a lingering back issue.

In fact, the veteran wideout could have played in last week’s win over Miami instead of missing only the second game of his nine-year career. Wallace revealed Thursday that he was medically cleared to play against the Dolphins, but he didn’t feel comfortable doing so just four days after taking a penalized hit from Minnesota safety Andrew Sendejo, who was suspended one game by the NFL.

The 31-year-old said he wanted to play, but the risk of taking another blow to the head in such a short period of time prompted him to err on the side of caution after much deliberation.

“It’s always a possibility when you step on the field, and I don’t want to be out there second-guessing anything,” said Wallace, who also cited his family’s concerns about returning to action so soon after sustaining a concussion. “I want to feel comfortable, feel like myself. I just went with that decision. Coach [John Harbaugh] supported me and we won 40-0, so that’s always great.”

Quarterback Joe Flacco practiced fully for the second straight day and will start against the Titans after passing concussion protocol earlier this week. Defensive back Lardarius Webb also practiced fully Thursday after apparently suffering a concussion against the Dolphins.

Tight end Nick Boyle (toe) remained absent Thursday, making it unclear whether he will play Sunday. He played 55 of 65 offensive snaps in Week 8 and finished the game without any visible incident, but missing two days of practice after the three-day break last weekend creates cause for concern.

Defensive tackle Michael Pierce has also missed two practices in a row with an undisclosed illness.

Cornerback Jimmy Smith (Achilles) was back on the practice field after receiving a day off as the Ravens continue to give their top defensive back rest for lingering tendinitis. The 29-year-old is arguably having the best season of his career despite being hampered with the ailment. Smith has scored two defensive touchdowns this season, and Pro Football Focus has graded him as the NFL’s seventh-best cornerback through Week 8.

“He has always had that type of big-play mentality,” inside linebacker C.J. Mosley said. “He’s made those plays over the years, but the injuries kind of just lingered on him, whether it caused him to miss some games or he just played through it. That is kind of the mentality he has. No matter what it is, he always is going to try to play through it.”

The Titans were without tight end Delanie Walker (ankle) for the second straight day, creating more concern about his availability for Sunday coming off their bye week.

Below is Thursday’s full injury report:

BALTIMORE
DID NOT PARTICIPATE: TE Nick Boyle (toe), WR Michael Campanaro (shoulder), S Chuck Clark (thigh), WR Chris Matthews (thigh), DT Michael Pierce (illness), RB Terrance West (calf)
LIMITED PARTICIPATION: C Ryan Jensen (shoulder), WR Jeremy Maclin (shoulder), TE Vince Mayle (concussion), OT Ronnie Stanley (shoulder), WR Mike Wallace (back)
FULL PARTICIPATION: QB Joe Flacco (concussion), CB Jimmy Smith (Achilles), DB Lardarius Webb (concussion), TE Maxx Williams (ankle), LB Tim Williams (thigh)

TENNESSEE
DID NOT PARTICIPATE: OT Jack Conklin (illness), LB Nate Palmer (ankle), G Quinton Spain (toe), WR Taywan Taylor (non-injury), TE Delanie Walker (ankle)
FULL PARTICIPATION: S Jonathan Cyprien (hamstring), WR Corey Davis (hamstring)

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Flacco back on practice field for Ravens

Posted on 01 November 2017 by Luke Jones

OWINGS MILLS, Md. — Less than a week after sustaining a concussion in the Week 8 win over Miami, Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco was back at practice on Wednesday after passing the NFL’s five-step protocol.

Wearing his usual black practice jersey signaling no contact, Flacco took snaps under center and threw passes as a full participant, leaving very little doubt about his availability for Sunday’s game at Tennessee. His appearance came a little over an hour after head coach John Harbaugh would not reveal whether Flacco would be on the field as the Ravens ramped up preparations for Tennessee.

Harbaugh told reporters Monday that the 10th-year quarterback had a “good chance” to play against the Titans and hadn’t been experiencing concussion-related symptoms. On Tuesday, the NFL announced Miami linebacker Kiko Alonso would not be suspended for his penalized hit that caused Flacco’s concussion, but the quarterback said his sole focus is on getting ready to play the Titans.

“I think [doctors and trainers] definitely side on being more cautious more than anything,” said Flacco, who told reporters that he began feeling better shortly after being taken to the locker room last Thursday. “If this was high school, I probably would have sat on the bench and gathered [my thoughts] for a couple minutes, then went back out there and played defense, you know? 

“But it’s just one of these things that you have to trust their judgment.”

Cornerback Jimmy Smith (Achilles), tight end Nick Boyle (toe), defensive tackle Michael Pierce (illness), wide receivers Michael Campanaro (shoulder) and Chris Matthews (thigh), and running back Terrance West (calf) did not participate in Wednesday’s session. Boyle’s absence in particular does create concern since the Ravens enjoyed an extended break over the weekend after the Thursday win over the Dolphins.

Wide receiver Jeremy Maclin (shoulder), starting offensive linemen Ryan Jensen (shoulder) and Ronnie Stanley (shoulder), cornerback Lardarius Webb (concussion), and tight end Vince Mayle (concussion) were all participating on a limited basis while wearing red non-contact vests over their practice jerseys.

Wide receiver Mike Wallace (concussion), tight end Maxx Williams (ankle), and outside linebacker Tim Williams (thigh) all practiced fully after missing last week’s game. Maxx Williams has appeared in just one game since Sept. 17 while Tim Williams has missed each of the last three contests.

Running back Danny Woodhead (hamstring) was also on the field a day after being designated to return to practice from injured reserve. He is not eligible to be activated to play in a game until after next week’s bye.

Meanwhile, the Titans released a much shorter injury report with starting tight end Delanie Walker (ankle) being the most notable absence. Rookie first-round wide receiver Corey Davis (hamstring) was a full participant on Wednesday and is set to return after a five-game absence.

Below is Wednesday’s full injury report:

BALTIMORE
DID NOT PARTICIPATE: TE Nick Boyle (toe), WR Michael Campanaro (shoulder), WR Chris Matthews (thigh), DT Michael Pierce (illness), CB Jimmy Smith (Achilles), RB Terrance West (calf)
LIMITED PARTICIPATION: C Ryan Jensen (shoulder), WR Jeremy Maclin (shoulder), TE Vince Mayle (concussion), OT Ronnie Stanley (shoulder), DB Lardarius Webb (concussion)
FULL PARTICIPATION: QB Joe Flacco (concussion), WR Mike Wallace (concussion), TE Maxx Williams (ankle), LB Tim Williams (thigh)

TENNESSEE
DID NOT PARTICIPATE: G Quinton Spain (toe), TE Delanie Walker (ankle)
FULL PARTICIPATION: S Jonathan Cyprien (hamstring), WR Corey Davis (hamstring)

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Flacco has “good chance” to play against Tennessee on Sunday

Posted on 30 October 2017 by Luke Jones

OWINGS MILLS, Md. — Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco is not experiencing any concussion-related symptoms and has been at the team facility every day, head coach John Harbaugh said Monday.

That would appear to bode well for his availability Sunday against Tennessee after he sustained a concussion on a penalized hit by Miami linebacker Kiko Alonso last Thursday. Baltimore will have its bye next week, but there are no plans to deliberately rest Flacco in Week 9 if he’s able to pass the NFL’s five-step concussion protocol in time to play.

“If he’s ready, he’s playing. He’ll play if he’s ready,” said Harbaugh, who added that it wouldn’t matter how much the 32-year-old would be able to practice during the week if he’s cleared by Sunday. “I think there’s a good chance he’ll play.

“As I’ve said before, I’m not a doctor, but I play one in press conferences. It’s my diagnosis.”

It remains unclear when Flacco will return to practice, but he’s expected to attend all football meetings when players reconvene Tuesday to begin preparations for the Titans. Upon reaching the fourth step of the recovery protocol, a concussed player may resume football activities including non-contact work during practices.

This is the first known concussion of Flacco’s career, but players can respond differently to blows to the head with varying timetables for recovery, leaving the Ravens in wait-and-see mode for the time being. The 10th-year quarterback also required stitches for a cut on his ear from his helmet flying off during the hit.

Backup Ryan Mallett relieved the injured Flacco late in the first half of the 40-0 win over the Dolphins, tossing a 2-yard touchdown pass to tight end Benjamin Watson. He would start on Sunday if Flacco does not progress through the protocol as rapidly as the Ravens anticipate.

“We’re very hopeful for this week, and it’ll be in the hands of Joe and the doctors to decide what we can do,” Harbaugh said. “We’ll get him ready to play if he can play. That’s all you really can do.”

Flacco has missed only six games in his career, which all occurred when he suffered a season-ending knee injury in 2015. However, he was sidelined for the entire 2017 preseason due to a lower back injury suffered in July.

Despite presenting an encouraging report Monday, Harbaugh isn’t taking Flacco’s recovery and health for granted.

“I don’t want to minimize what went down with Joe,” Harbaugh said. “I thought that was a very vicious type of hit. He was definitely defenseless and couldn’t protect himself. Therefore, he got his ear sliced open and he got hit in the head. You never minimize that.

“He is an extremely tough person.”

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Twelve Ravens thoughts following 40-0 win over Miami

Posted on 29 October 2017 by Luke Jones

With the Ravens earning the third-largest margin of victory in franchise history and their second shutout of the season in a 40-0 win over Miami, I’ve offered a dozen thoughts, each in 50 words or less:

1. Will the real Ravens stand up? After close games were the theme of the last few seasons, all but two of eight contests have been decided by multiple scores and one of those came on a garbage-time touchdown in Minnesota on the game’s final play. It’s more volatility than mediocrity.

2. The Baltimore defense gave up a 21-yard run to Jay Ajayi on the second play of the game and surrendered 24 more yards on 18 carries the rest of the way. Dean Pees effectively used run blitzes, and players tackled better than they had in weeks. It was about time.

3. I’d be more willing to listen to the argument that Joe Flacco started his slide late if Kiko Alonso had shown any semblance of an effort to divert his path to the quarterback. The hit was reckless at best and malicious at worst.

4. Ryan Jensen earned quite a few fans after coming to the defense of his quarterback by immediately going after Alonso. I’m not big on retaliation in most instances, but an offensive lineman has to stick up for the most important player on the team after a hit like that.

5. You never want your quarterback sustaining a concussion, but you wonder if something like this galvanizes John Harbaugh’s team moving forward. The Ravens haven’t played with nearly the same edge in recent years as they used to, and being ticked off can be a good thing if properly channeled.

6. The secondary showed several looks, but my favorite was Marlon Humphrey entering the game as an outside corner in the nickel with Brandon Carr moving to the slot. The rookie first-rounder played 37 of 66 snaps and needs to remain heavily involved no matter the status of the veteran starters.

7. I had to smile seeing C.J. Mosley protect the ball with both arms as he crossed the goal line on his interception return. He wasn’t going to repeat what happened against Washington last year. You have to appreciate someone learning from a mistake.

8. Not that the offense was lighting it up before Flacco’s exit, but the previous two weeks showed how critical it is for Jeremy Maclin to be on the field for the passing game to even be functional. His 34-yard touchdown reception came on Flacco’s prettiest throw of the season.

9. Breshad Perriman didn’t have a catch despite playing 49 offensive snaps. He has four receptions on 19 targets — one more catch than Danny Woodhead — despite ranking fifth in snaps among all Ravens skill players. His dramatic regression from 2016 when he was at least a contributor is impossible to ignore.

10. Despite dealing with Achilles tendinitis, Jimmy Smith is playing his best football since at least the first half of the 2014 season and entered Sunday as Pro Football Focus’ seventh-highest graded cornerback. Even if you take away his two defensive touchdowns this season, he’s still been terrific.

11. The Dolphins have won 13 of their last 18 regular-season games, but that stretch includes two losses to the Ravens by a combined 78-6 margin. Talk about having a team’s number. Counting the playoffs, Baltimore is now 7-1 against Miami in the Harbaugh era.

12. Compared to other teams’ editions of “Color Rush” uniforms, the all-purple look is relatively easy on the eyes. I’d even be curious to see how the purple pants look with the white and black jerseys.

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Ravens-Dolphins: Inactives and pre-game notes

Posted on 26 October 2017 by Luke Jones

BALTIMORE — With their season rapidly moving in the wrong direction, the Ravens will attempt to get back on track in prime time as they welcome Miami to M&T Bank Stadium.

Baltimore has won eight straight night games at home, but the Ravens are trying to avoid their first three-game home losing streak since 2007, which was Brian Billick’s final season as head coach. Of course, they’ll hope for a result against the Dolphins similar to last year when they demolished Adam Gase’s eventual playoff squad in a 38-6 final.

After playing most of last week’s game without their top three receivers, Joe Flacco and the Ravens will welcome Jeremy Maclin (shoulder) and Breshad Perriman (concussion) back to the field for Week 8. Maclin had missed the last two games with a shoulder injury while Perriman was sidelined for one game with a concussion.

Speedy wideout Mike Wallace will not play, however, after sustaining a concussion in Minnesota last Sunday. This marks only the second game Wallace has missed in his nine-year NFL career. Wide receivers Michael Campanaro (shoulder) and Chris Matthews (thigh) are also inactive after being listed as doubtful on the final injury report, leaving the Ravens with four active receivers for Thursday.

Despite missing two days of practice this week with a knee issue, tight end Benjamin Watson is active and will play. The newly-signed Gavin Escobar is also active, giving the Ravens four tight ends available to play against Miami.

The offensive line will receive a boost with the return of right guard Matt Skura, who had missed the last two games with a knee injury. He is expected to start with rookie Jermaine Eluemunor moving back to a reserve role.

Defensive end Bronson Kaufusi is the only healthy scratch among Baltimore’s seven inactives for Week 8.

The Dolphins deactivated wide receiver DeVante Parker, who is missing his third straight game with an ankle injury. His absence will allow the Baltimore secondary to devote more focus to star receiver Jarvis Landry.

Miami left tackle Laremy Tunsil (knee) is active and will start while left guard Anthony Steen (foot) is out.

Thursday’s referee is John Parry.

According to Weather.com, the Thursday forecast in Baltimore calls for clear skies and temperatures in the mid-50s at kickoff with calm winds up to five miles per hour.

The Ravens are wearing their “color rush” uniforms, which consist of purple jerseys with gold numbering as well as purple pants and purple socks. Miami is donning all-white uniforms for the nationally-televised game.

Thursday marks the fifth straight year the Ravens and Dolphins have met in the regular season with the all-time regular-season series tied at 6-6 and Baltimore having won the only two playoff encounters between these teams. Including the postseason, the Ravens are 6-1 against Miami in the John Harbaugh era.

Below are Thursday’s inactives:

BALTIMORE
WR Mike Wallace
DE Bronson Kaufusi
WR Michael Campanaro
WR Chris Matthews
LB Tim Williams
TE Maxx Williams
RB Terrance West

MIAMI
WR DeVante Parker
QB Jay Cutler
S Maurice Smith
LB Stephone Anthony
DE Andre Branch
G Anthony Steen
G Isaac Asiata

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