Tag Archive | "John Harbaugh"

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Flacco not expected to return to Ravens practice this week

Posted on 18 August 2017 by Luke Jones

After another uneven performance by backup quarterback Ryan Mallett and the starting offense in a 31-7 preseason win over Miami, Ravens head coach John Harbaugh said Joe Flacco isn’t expected to return to practice this week.

The 10th-year quarterback has been sidelined with a back injury since the start of training camp and will not play in the preseason, but the team said in a release last week that “the plan” is for Flacco to be ready for the Sept. 10 opener in Cincinnati. He will now have no more than two weeks of practice time to get ready for Week 1.

“I don’t think that time frame is this week yet,” Harbaugh told reporters after Thursday’s game. “So, we’ll kind of stick with the plan on that. I think it’s a straightforward date that the doctors and the back specialists have given us, so we’re going to stick with that.”

The original hope was that Flacco would only miss a week of practice with a back issue he revealed to team officials upon reporting for the start of camp on July 26. The organization said from the start that caution would be exercised with a 32-year-old quarterback who has missed just six games in his first nine seasons and has rarely ever sat out practices in his career.

Mallett improved somewhat from the first preseason game by completing 13 of 22 passes for 113 yards and a touchdown to reserve tight end Larry Donnell, but he was also intercepted twice and again struggled to push the ball down the field with confidence. His struggles this summer have led many to continue clamoring for Baltimore to sign polarizing quarterback Colin Kaepernick.

The Ravens were also missing their two best offensive linemen against the Dolphins on Thursday as six-time Pro Bowl right guard Marshal Yanda and 2016 first-round left tackle Ronnie Stanley sat out, leaving Mallett to be protected by a starting line consisting of four former undrafted free agents.

“I thought he did good. He got out of trouble a few times. He made a few throws,” Harbaugh said. “I think we just keep working to build off that. He was under pressure quite a bit early on, and I thought he handled it well and didn’t make mistakes. That’s really important. He played good, solid football.

“We’re not totally together upfront right now, and I think he’s doing OK given the circumstances.”

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Ravens-Dolphins preseason primer: Five players to watch

Posted on 16 August 2017 by Luke Jones

At a time when many teams are in fine-tuning mode, the Ravens offense remains in flux entering the second preseason game against Miami on Thursday night.

As if the extended absence of quarterback Joe Flacco weren’t concerning enough, injuries have ravaged an offensive line that entered training camp already facing significant questions. Three interior linemen — Alex Lewis, John Urschel, and rookie Nico Siragusa — have been lost for the season since the start of training camp, and left tackle Ronnie Stanley is currently sidelined with an undisclosed ailment.

The injuries have forced Baltimore to shuffle the group on nearly a daily basis, making it difficult to assess a running game that has been revamped by senior offensive assistant Greg Roman or the pass protection that will need to be even better for a quarterback who will be returning from a back injury.

“We are just going to have to build everything around it, but you do benefit from the fact that guys are working different positions,” head coach John Harbaugh said. “There is an unintended benefit. That would be something you are trying to get guys to do. We have been forced to get guys to [work at other positions] probably more than we would like. We will make it work, and in the end, it will be for good.”

Against the Dolphins, the offense will hope to approach the high level of success enjoyed by the Ravens defense in the preseason opener. The revamped unit held Washington to 47 total yards and no points in the first half of the 23-3 victory last week. Harbaugh confirmed that 2017 first-round cornerback Marlon Humphrey will make his preseason debut against the Dolphins, adding even more intrigue to the defense.

Though the Ravens offense realistically needs to be graded on a curve with backup Ryan Mallett under center and the offensive line less than 100 percent, Harbaugh made it clear that he wants to see improvement from the 3.3 yards per play gained against the Redskins in the first half.

“It is an opportunity for young guys to go in there and play well,” Harbaugh said. “We want to be as precise as we can be with our passing game, and we want our backs to run hard.”

Thursday marks the first ever meeting between these AFC teams in the preseason, but the all-time regular-season series is tied at 6-6. Baltimore won in 38-6 blowout fashion over Miami last December and has prevailed in five of the last six clashes in the regular season. They will meet again in a Thursday night game at M&T Bank Stadium on Oct. 26.

The Ravens own a 25-12 record in preseason games under Harbaugh.

Unofficial (and largely speculative) injury report

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

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

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

OUT: QB Joe Flacco (back), WR Breshad Perriman (hamstring), WR Kenny Bell (hamstring), CB Maurice Canady (knee), RB Kenneth Dixon (knee), OL Nico Siragusa (knee), CB Tavon Young (knee), OL Alex Lewis (shoulder), WR Tim White (thumb)
DOUBTFUL: OT Ronnie Stanley (undisclosed), OT Stephane Nembot (undisclosed), LB Lamar Louis (undisclosed)
QUESTIONABLE: OT Austin Howard (shoulder), G Marshal Yanda (shoulder), CB Brandon Boykin (undisclosed), CB Sheldon Price (shoulder), WR Quincy Adeboyejo (knee)

Five players to watch Thursday night

OL James Hurst

After entering camp as the starting right tackle and moving to left guard in place of Lewis, Hurst is expected to start at left tackle with Stanley sidelined. Despite his immense struggles there in the past, he needs to show improvement protecting the blind side since Lewis was also the backup left tackle. The Ravens love Hurst’s work ethic and believe he’s improved, so the Miami front will be an important test.

LB Kamalei Correa

Lost in the terrific defensive performance last week was the quiet play of Correa, who struggled to get off blocks and made one tackle in 17 defensive snaps. He looks the part in practice, but that needs to translate to games to ease concerns about the 2016 second-round pick replacing Zach Orr. The Ravens are poised to play more dime this year, which should help spare Correa from being exposed in coverage.

TE Maxx Williams

It’s been a quiet camp for the 2015 second-round pick, who is coming off a knee cartilage surgery that’s clouded expectations. Williams has worked hard to push his way through practices on a daily basis, but he hasn’t moved well and has struggled to make plays. You want to give him more time and the benefit of the doubt coming back from such a procedure, but his 21 plays last week weren’t encouraging.

CB Jaylen Hill

Long-term injuries to Tavon Young and Maurice Canady have opened the door for Hill, who has looked the part as a nickel corner with a good chance to make the roster as a rookie free agent. He’s shown good ball skills and reminds you a bit of Young as a 5-foot-10, 178-pound corner who plays bigger than his slight stature. Lardarius Webb appears likely to play the nickel spot, but Hill is definitely in the mix.

FB Ricky Ortiz

The reviews for Lorenzo Taliaferro at fullback have been underwhelming while Ortiz quietly received more than twice as many offensive snaps in the opener. The Ravens may not have a desperate need for a traditional fullback with the way Roman often motions a tight end into that position, but the Oregon State product will try to prove himself before outside options are potentially considered.

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Perriman remains on mend from “long-term” hamstring injury

Posted on 15 August 2017 by Luke Jones

OWINGS MILLS, Md. — The Ravens aren’t yet ruling out wide receiver Breshad Perriman for the rest of the preseason, but his return to practice isn’t considered imminent.

Two weeks after leaving the field with a hamstring injury, the 2015 first-round pick still isn’t practicing and has only been seen catching passes from a stationary position when in view of the media. Head coach John Harbaugh stopped short of saying Perriman wouldn’t make it back for any preseason games, but he acknowledged how unpredictable a serious hamstring injury can be.

“Nothing’s changed with Breshad,” Harbaugh said. “He’s a long-term hamstring guy in terms of from when he did it. It’s a pretty good hamstring [injury] he had. He’s making progress. Everything is on schedule, and they’re happy with the way he’s progressing. That’s what I know.”

This marks the third straight year in which the 23-year-old has missed most of training camp, a frustrating development for a speedy 6-foot-2, 215-pound receiver who’s flashed potential when healthy. Perriman missed his entire rookie season with a right knee injury and was sidelined for most of last year’s camp with an injury to his left knee before returning to play in the preseason finale and all 16 regular-season games, catching 33 passes for 499 yards and three touchdowns.

Perriman isn’t the only recent first-round pick to be dealing with an injury as second-year left tackle Ronnie Stanley missed his third consecutive practice on Tuesday, making it unlikely that he’ll play in Thursday’s preseason game in Miami. Harbaugh wouldn’t specify what Stanley is dealing with, but his short-term status sounded more positive than Perriman’s.

“No season-ending thing or anything like that,” Harbaugh said. “It’s something he’s working through. There are two or three guys like that that are working through some things. I’d like to get them back sooner rather than later, but we don’t want to push them too much and [we need to] just let them heal up a little bit. I’d say it’s ‘camp stuff’ right now.

“I haven’t gotten anything definitive on Ronnie from the trainers, so when we do, we’ll let you know as far as when he’s coming back.”

Fourth-year lineman James Hurst was once again working as the first-team left tackle in Stanley’s absence.

Harbaugh confirmed that first-round rookie cornerback Marlon Humphrey will make his preseason debut on Thursday after practicing for the fourth straight day.

Quarterback Joe Flacco (back), wide receiver Kenny Bell (hamstring), offensive tackle Stephane Nembot (undisclosed), cornerbacks Brandon Boykin (undisclosed) and Maurice Canady (knee), and inside linebacker Lamar Louis (undisclosed) all remained absent from Tuesday’s workout.

Outside linebacker Terrell Suggs and cornerback Jimmy Smith were also missing from practice, but the Ravens might have elected to keep both veterans off a wet field as heavy rain moved through Owings Mills. Suggs and Smith both practiced without incident on Monday.

Wide receiver Quincy Adeboyejo (knee) and offensive lineman Jermaine Eluemunor (undisclosed) returned to practice Tuesday after sitting out the previous day.

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Sizing up the 2017 Ravens roster before the second preseason game

Posted on 13 August 2017 by Luke Jones

With the preseason opener against Washington in the rear-view mirror, it’s time to examine the Ravens’ 53-man roster for the first time since the end of mandatory minicamp in mid-June.

My current look at the roster suggests 40 players are locks if the deadline to trim the roster to 53 took place today. My assessment of the 90 players currently on the preseason roster lists 21 players on the bubble. Not all bubble players are created equal, however, with certain positions lacking depth and others enjoying more talent.

Though general manager Ozzie Newsome, coach John Harbaugh, and the remainder of the coaching staff and front office are cognizant of maintaining a reasonable number of players at every position, trying to boldly designate a specific number of wide receivers or linebackers or safeties isn’t the most accurate way of projecting the roster. In filling out the back end of the roster, the Ravens look carefully at players’ special-teams contributions in addition to what they bring to their respective positions.

Unlike the past few years, teams are no longer required to trim their 90-man roster to 75 prior to the final preseason game. The Ravens must determine their initial 53-man roster by 4 p.m. on Sept. 2, but immediate changes often come in the days leading up to the season opener on Sept. 10.

The numbers in parentheses indicate the total number of players currently on the roster at that given position. Bubble players’ names that are underlined are part of the projected 53-man roster as of Aug. 13.

QUARTERBACKS (4)
LOCK: Joe Flacco, Ryan Mallett
BUBBLE: None
LONG SHOT: Dustin Vaughan, Josh Woodrum
Skinny: Depending on Flacco’s health, the Ravens could carry three quarterbacks into a season for the first time since 2009, but they would need to upgrade from Vaughan or Woodrum to justify doing so.

RUNNING BACKS & FULLBACKS (8)
LOCK: Terrance West, Danny Woodhead
BUBBLE: Lorenzo Taliaferro, Buck Allen, Bobby Rainey
LONG SHOT: Ricky Ortiz, Taquan Mizzell
INJURED RESERVE: Kenneth Dixon
Skinny: Finding an upgrade at fullback or another viable running back is certainly a possibility, but Taliaferro provides game-day versatility at either position and Allen has looked better this summer.

WIDE RECEIVERS (12)
LOCK: Jeremy Maclin, Mike Wallace, Breshad Perriman, Chris Moore
BUBBLE: Quincy Adeboyejo, Michael Campanaro, Keenan Reynolds, Chris Matthews
LONG SHOT: Griff Whalen, Kenny Bell, C.J. Board
INJURED RESERVE: Tim White
Skinny: How quickly Perriman recovers from a hamstring injury and Campanaro’s inability to stay healthy are variables that could alter the outlook at this position between now and early September.

TIGHT ENDS (6)
LOCK: Nick Boyle, Benjamin Watson
BUBBLE: Maxx Williams, Vince Mayle, Larry Donnell
LONG SHOT: Ryan Malleck
Skinny: Williams hasn’t moved well and could conceivably wind up on IR if his knee doesn’t hold up, which could open the door for Mayle and even a post-Week 1 addition like Donnell or another veteran.

OFFENSIVE LINEMEN (16)
LOCK: Marshal Yanda, Ronnie Stanley, Ryan Jensen, James Hurst, Austin Howard, Matt Skura, Jermaine Eluemunor
BUBBLE:  De’Ondre Wesley, Stephane Nembot
LONG SHOT: Jarell Broxton, Jarrod Pughsley, Roubbens Joseph, Maurquice Shakir, Derrick Nelson
INJURED RESERVE: Alex Lewis, Nico Siragusa
Skinny: This group could really use another veteran upgrade or two between now and the start of the season after losing three key interior linemen since the start of training camp.

DEFENSIVE LINEMEN (8)
LOCK: Brandon Williams, Michael Pierce, Brent Urban, Chris Wormley, Bronson Kaufusi
BUBBLE: Carl Davis, Willie Henry, Patrick Ricard
LONG SHOT: None
Skinny: The defensive line is the deepest positional group on either side of the ball, making it a distinct possibility that Newsome attempts to trade from this strength to reinforce another position of need.

INSIDE LINEBACKERS (8)
LOCK: C.J. Mosley, Kamalei Correa, Albert McClellan, Patrick Onwuasor
BUBBLE: None
LONG SHOT: Brennen Beyer, Bam Bradley, Donald Payne, Lamar Louis
Skinny: There doesn’t appear to be much drama with this group from a roster standpoint, but don’t sleep on the undersized Onwuasor to push Correa for playing time, especially in the nickel package.

OUTSIDE LINEBACKERS (7)
LOCK: Terrell Suggs, Matt Judon, Tyus Bowser, Tim Williams
BUBBLE: Za’Darius Smith
LONG SHOT: Boseko Lokombo, Randy Allen
Skinny: Given the newfound youth at this position and McClellan’s ability to play both outside spots, Smith could be the odd man out or even a candidate to be traded for depth at another position.

CORNERBACKS (11)
LOCK: Jimmy Smith, Brandon Carr, Marlon Humphrey
BUBBLE: Jaylen Hill, Sheldon Price, Brandon Boykin, Robertson Daniel
LONG SHOT: Trevin Wade, Reggie Porter
INJURED RESERVE: Tavon Young, Maurice Canady (designated to return candidate)
Skinny: The long-term injuries to Young and Canady have put Hill in good roster position, but a vested veteran like Boykin could still be signed after Week 1 when his full 2017 salary isn’t guaranteed.

SAFETIES (6)
LOCK: Eric Weddle, Tony Jefferson, Lardarius Webb, Anthony Levine
BUBBLE: Chuck Clark
LONG SHOT: Otha Foster
Skinny: Clark has been a mainstay on special teams and feels like a solid bet to stick around while Webb and Levine provide much-needed versatility by being able to play the nickel and dime spots.

SPECIALISTS (4)
LOCK: Sam Koch, Morgan Cox, Justin Tucker
BUBBLE: None
LONG SHOT: Kenny Allen
Skinny: There’s nothing to ponder here.

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Ravens offensive line shuffle continues during Sunday’s practice

Posted on 13 August 2017 by Luke Jones

OWINGS MILLS, Md. — The Ravens continue to shuffle their offensive line as they count down to their second preseason game at Miami later this week.

Two days after the organization announced second-year left guard Alex Lewis would undergo season-ending shoulder surgery, starting left tackle Ronnie Stanley was absent from practice. It’s unclear why Stanley wasn’t practicing after working without any visible issue Saturday morning, but recently-converted left guard James Hurst moved out to left tackle during the workout.

With designs of improving the running game after below-average production the last two seasons, the Ravens have lost three key interior linemen — Lewis, injured fourth-round rookie Nico Siragusa, and the retired John Urschel — since the start of training camp. During Sunday’s practice, Hurst, Matt Skura, Ryan Jensen, Marshal Yanda, and Austin Howard lined up from left to right as the first-team offensive line.

Stanley wasn’t the only notable new absence on Sunday as veteran wide receiver Jeremy Maclin and rookie outside linebacker Tyus Bowser were also missing. Head coach John Harbaugh did not speak to reporters after practice to potentially provide any clarity on their status.

Quarterback Joe Flacco (back), wide receivers Breshad Perriman (hamstring) and Kenny Bell (hamstring), offensive tackle Stephane Nembot (undisclosed), cornerbacks Brandon Boykin (undisclosed) and Maurice Canady (knee), and inside linebacker Lamar Louis were also absent from Sunday’s practice.

Rookie offensive lineman Jermaine Eluemunor left the field in the first half of Sunday’s session and didn’t return, adding even more concern to a decimated offensive line. Safety Eric Weddle also exited practice in the final 20 minutes, but it did not appear to be a serious issue.

Rookie wide receiver Quincy Adeboyejo appeared to tweak his knee while making a sliding catch during a 7-on-7 passing drill, but he remained on the field for the duration of practice.

The highlight of the day occurred during 1-on-1 battles between the offensive line group and front-7 personnel with the former surprisingly getting the better of Baltimore’s younger defensive linemen and linebackers. The period concluded with an intense battle between Jensen and outside linebacker Za’Darius Smith. The center was flagged as he threw Smith to the ground, which touched off a pileup of multiple players. Cooler heads quickly prevailed as the fight turned more playful than nasty in nature and nose tackle Michael Pierce provided the comic relief by throwing a penalty flag up in the air.

During a red-zone session, veteran cornerback Brandon Carr picked off a Ryan Mallett pass intended for tight end Nick Boyle, a turnover that likely would have resulted in a touchdown going the other way.

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Twelve Ravens thoughts following 23-3 win over Washington

Posted on 11 August 2017 by Luke Jones

With the Ravens winning their preseason opener in a 23-3 final over Washington, I’ve offered a dozen thoughts, each in 50 words or less:

1. I made my feelings clear about the Ravens defense at the conclusion of draft weekend, and the group didn’t disappoint in the preseason opener. Playing fast and physical, Baltimore held the Redskins to a measly 47 yards and four first downs in the first half. You could see the potential.

2. Brent Urban was the best player on the field, bringing inside pressure and consistently penetrating the backfield against the run. He finished with two forced fumbles, a sack, and four tackles to lead a revamped defense. Not bad for his debut as the starting 5-technique defensive end.

3. With eight key players sitting out, I’m not sure what anyone could have reasonably expected from the Ravens offense. The running game wasn’t overly productive at 3.6 yards per carry in the first half, but offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg stuck with it and the group played turnover-free football.

4. Those absences aside, Ryan Mallett did nothing to silence his detractors by averaging an ugly 3.2 yards per pass attempt. John Harbaugh said Mallett played “winning football” after the game, which was reminiscent of Brian Billick’s descriptions of Kyle Boller after the many defense-led wins of yesteryear.

5. The start of the game certainly felt familiar with the defense forcing a three-and-out, the offense going three-and-out, and Sam Koch placing a punt inside the 5-yard line.

6. After a miss from 43 yards that was negated by a penalty, Justin Tucker later restored order to the universe with a 59-yard field goal to end the first half. Yes, he’s missed a few more in camp than I recall in previous summers, but I’ll guess he’ll be OK.

7. Second-round pick Tyus Bowser had an strong debut with three tackles, a quarterback hit, and solid all-around work at outside linebacker, but fellow rookie Tim Williams struggled to set the edge and remains a work in progress as anything more than a situational pass rusher for now.

8. Rookie free agent Jaylen Hill showed why coaches have been impressed with him in practices as he defended the deep ball effectively and picked off Colt McCoy late in the first half. His night would have been even better had he not whiffed on a corner blitz.

9. Tim White made a superb adjustment on a 33-yard touchdown pass from Josh Woodrum late in the third quarter and looked capable as the return specialist in the first half. The rookie free agent’s speed has stood out since organized team activities in the spring.

10. Keenan Reynolds returning a punt 46 yards was the feel-good moment of the night as Harbaugh’s smile on the sideline epitomized how much everyone is rooting for the former Navy star. He still has a long way to go to crack the 53-man roster, but he’s improved from last year.

11. The best news of the night was the Ravens seemingly escaping the game without any major injuries. In contrast, Washington lost linebacker Trent Murphy and safety Su’a Cravens to knee injuries. Coaches hold their breath every second of the preseason.

12. First-round pick Marlon Humphrey went through a rigorous pre-game workout and appears poised to return to practice after a week-long absence. However, Breshad Perriman was nothing more than an observer and doesn’t appear particularly close to returning from a hamstring injury.

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Ravens-Redskins preseason primer: Five players to watch

Posted on 09 August 2017 by Luke Jones

The Ravens are set to begin their 22nd preseason after one of the more tumultuous starts to training camp in team history.

Having already lost seven players to season-ending injuries, retirement, or suspension since the beginning of June, Baltimore is still without starting quarterback Joe Flacco while other impact players have missed substantial time in camp. The injuries create a balancing act between keeping valuable assets out of harm’s way and the desire to take advantage of live-game reps against Washington on Thursday night.

“We’ll work it out as we go. We’ll see,” head coach John Harbaugh said. “Some guys will play, some guys won’t. You just have to play it by ear. We have a plan, but I’m just not really into it right now as far as sharing it. It can change. We have a plan until the shooting starts; then plans change.”

Especially with Flacco unavailable, the Ravens will likely focus on the evaluation of their running game after hiring senior offensive assistant Greg Roman in the offseason to revamp the league’s 28th-ranked rushing attack in the offseason. Of course, that could prove to be difficult with an offensive line that’s currently less than 100 percent.

The final result means little, but the first preseason game provides context for evaluating players who’ve only been practicing against each another to this point. The coaching staff will eagerly be watching how young players respond to the bright lights of a game after settling into the familiar routine of camp workouts.

“They are ready to go play against somebody else, and they have been playing against each other now for almost two weeks,” Harbaugh said. “These are pretty tough practices and tough drills. They know each other pretty well right now, so they are ready to get in that environment and play a game and cut it loose a little bit and see where they are.”

Thursday marks the 10th time these NFL neighbors have met in the preseason with the Ravens holding the 6-3 edge over Washington, but the Redskins won a 16-10 regular-season contest at M&T Bank Stadium last October, which prompted the firing of offensive coordinator Marc Trestman the next day.

Baltimore has a 24-12 record in preseason games under Harbaugh.

Unofficial (and largely speculative) injury report

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

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

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

OUT: QB Joe Flacco (back), OT Austin Howard (shoulder), WR Breshad Perriman (hamstring), WR Kenny Bell (hamstring), CB Sheldon Price (undisclosed), CB Maurice Canady (knee), RB Kenneth Dixon (knee), OL Nico Siragusa (knee), CB Tavon Young (knee)
DOUBTFUL: OL Alex Lewis (undisclosed), CB Marlon Humphrey (undisclosed)
QUESTIONABLE: G Marshal Yanda (shoulder), WR Chris Matthews (undisclosed), CB Brandon Boykin (undisclosed)

Five players to watch Thursday night

QB Ryan Mallett

Expectations should be realistic for a backup, but the Ravens wasted no time re-signing Mallett to a one-year, $2 million contract at the start of free agency, suggesting they have some level of confidence in him to be a suitable No. 2 option. His first few practices of training camp were brutal, but the 29-year-old has rebounded to play at a more acceptable level in recent days, perhaps a product of the Colin Kaepernick discussion dying down. With Flacco’s return still expected to be sooner than later, Mallett showing command of the offense with at least some modest production should quell some concerns.

OLB Matt Judon

Used as a situational pass rusher as a rookie, Judon has received most of the summer reps as the starting strong-side outside linebacker, a spot shared by Albert McClellan and Elvis Dumervil last season. In order to be more effective in pass coverage, the 2016 fifth-round pick dropped weight and is strikingly leaner while still showing enough strength to set the edge and rush the passer. Judon ranked third on the team with four sacks in 2016, but defensive coordinator Dean Pees would prefer to see him double that total as the Ravens try to turn the heat up on a pass rush that was underwhelming a year ago.

C Ryan Jensen

The Ravens traded veteran starter Jeremy Zuttah in the offseason, but the sudden retirement of John Urschel at the start of training camp short-circuited the expected competition at center and left Jensen as the default starter. He brings the size and physicality that should work better in Roman’s downhill blocking schemes, but Jensen has only nine career starts under his belt, prompting many to continue clamoring for a Nick Mangold signing. General manager Ozzie Newsome spent most of his few remaining cap dollars on new right tackle Austin Howard, so Jensen needs to show he can do the job.

DL Patrick Ricard

Asking about individual players during training camp is often pointless because coaches are rarely anything but positive in their remarks, but you pay attention when a player’s name is mentioned without being prompted, something that’s happened more than once with Ricard. The 6-foot-3, 304-pound rookie free agent from Maine has lined up all over the defensive line and has stood his ground while making plays, putting himself in the roster conversation in a deep position group. Ricard will need to show the same promise in games, but he has looked the part of a solid rotational NFL defensive lineman.

WR Quincy Adeboyejo

The undrafted Ole Miss product is a bit of a mystery as his good speed and 6-foot-3, 197-pound frame didn’t translate to a standout college career, but he has turned heads, beating the likes of even Jimmy Smith and Brandon Carr to make long catches in practices. Of course, making plays in camp workouts isn’t the same as producing in games, but he should receive ample opportunities with veterans such as Jeremy Maclin and Mike Wallace unlikely to make more than a cameo Thursday. After failing to develop so many late-round wideouts over the years, the Ravens would sure love to get lucky with Adeboyejo.

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Twelve Ravens thoughts ahead of preseason opener

Posted on 08 August 2017 by Luke Jones

With the Ravens counting down to their preseason opener against Washington, I’ve offered a dozen thoughts, each in 50 words or less:

1. The Ravens won’t dare exhale until Joe Flacco is back on the practice field without incident, but a solid performance from Ryan Mallett against Washington would quell some short-term concerns. He’s practiced better of late, but a poor outing will only spark more questions about the still-unsigned Colin Kaepernick.

2. Flacco has already missed nearly two weeks of practice, which is substantial for an offense that was tweaked in the offseason. He also hasn’t been able to build much rapport with Jeremy Maclin. The lost time isn’t insurmountable, but it certainly sets up for some early-season growing pains.

3. The Ravens having strong defensive line depth is nothing new, but it’s impressive to consider the upside at such little cost beyond standout defensive tackle Brandon Williams. Surprising rookie free agent Patrick Ricard has only complicated what could be some tough roster decisions.

4. The fullback position remains a work in progress with running backs coach Thomas Hammock offering a lukewarm assessment of Lorenzo Taliaferro’s performance at his new spot. This spot takes on more significance with the losses sustained at the tight end position since the spring.

5. Tony Jefferson is impressive when playing downhill toward the line of scrimmage, but he looks rather ordinary in deeper coverage. I like the idea of using him as a dime linebacker in passing situations, but injuries at the nickel have forced Lardarius Webb to play there instead of at safety.

6. As if rookie free agents Quincy Adeboyejo and Tim White haven’t received enough early-camp attention as receivers, Jerry Rosburg loudly praised their efforts as gunners on the punt team during Tuesday’s practice. Standing out on special teams would boost their roster chances even more.

7. To this point, Brent Urban hasn’t been seriously challenged for the 5-technique spot as he’s played the run well and has served as an inside rusher in sub packages. Bronson Kaufusi and Chris Wormley have their work cut out for them to crack the game-day rotation.

8. Buck Allen was one of the bigger disappointments of the 2016 campaign, but he has run with more confidence and aggression this summer. The Kenneth Dixon injury created an opportunity, so it will be interesting to see whether he takes advantage in the preseason.

9. A major point of emphasis for the running backs has been pass protection as the Ravens were forced to use former fullback Kyle Juszczyk in single-back sets last year because their young tailbacks struggled mightily. Terrance West and Allen need to be much better in that area.

10. Jimmy Smith missed a few practices with an undisclosed injury, which reminded just how critical he is to the defense. Yes, having Brandon Carr and Marlon Humphrey should prevent a 2016-like collapse, but this defense needs to be special and likely won’t be if Smith can’t stay on the field.

11. Kamalei Correa is the favorite to start at the inside linebacker spot next to C.J. Mosley, but keep an eye on the nickel package where Patrick Onwuasor has also received some reps. The dime package could come into play as well if they don’t find a reliable three-down linebacker.

12. I recommend Robert Mays’ recent piece on Marshal Yanda, who quietly continues building his case as one of the best five or six players in franchise history. A couple more Pro Bowl selections would put the 32-year-old in the Hall of Fame discussion at the very least.

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Howard still not practicing four days after being signed by Ravens

Posted on 08 August 2017 by Luke Jones

Four days after signing a three-year contract reportedly worth up to $16 million, veteran offensive tackle Austin Howard still hasn’t practiced with the Ravens.

Deferring to the training staff when asked about the lineman missing practice for a second straight day, head coach John Harbaugh isn’t saying why Howard has yet to take the field. The former Oakland Raider hasn’t been made available to the media, either, leading one to wonder whether he still isn’t 100 percent after major shoulder surgery in January or merely failed his conditioning test.

The contract was made official Friday, meaning the Ravens had to sign off on any concerns that might have existed about his physical condition. Howard was signed to likely become the starting right tackle after three-year starter Rick Wagner departed via free agency.

“I don’t have any expectations for that kind of stuff,” said Harbaugh when asked if Howard’s early absence was anticipated due to his surgically-repaired shoulder. “They try to do what’s best for the players and the guys in getting them ready to play, stuff like that. That’s in their ballpark.”

Injuries limited Howard to 24 games over the last two seasons before Oakland elected to release him in late July.

Harbaugh had no update on a return timetable for quarterback Joe Flacco, who missed his 11th consecutive practice to begin training camp with a back injury. Backup Ryan Mallett will start Thursday’s preseason opener against Washington.

Rookie cornerback Marlon Humphrey missed his fifth consecutive practice with an undisclosed injury. After saying he thought the first-round pick would be back at practice Monday, Harbaugh had no interest in discussing what was bothering the 21-year-old defensive back.

“It’s really not that important for you to know, is it?” the 10th-year coach told a reporter.

Others remaining sidelined from Tuesday’s practice included wide receivers Breshad Perriman (hamstring) and Kenny Bell (hamstring), guard Alex Lewis (undisclosed), and cornerbacks Sheldon Price (undisclosed) and Maurice Canady (knee). Cornerback Brandon Boykin returned to the field after missing Monday’s workout.

After being let go with an injury designation on Monday, cornerback Al-Hajj Shabazz cleared waivers and reverted to injured reserve.

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Ravens still trying to get healthy with start of preseason looming

Posted on 06 August 2017 by Luke Jones

The Ravens are counting down to Thursday’s preseason opener knowing franchise quarterback Joe Flacco will not play against the Washington Redskins.

Head coach John Harbaugh says he’s still not sure when the 10th-year veteran will even take the practice field after missing the first nine full-team workouts of training camp with a back injury. His absence has left backup Ryan Mallett to run the first-team offense while the discussion has persisted about free agent Colin Kaepernick.

“We just do not know the time frame. They have not given us a time frame yet,” Harbaugh said in Annapolis Saturday night. “We know he is getting better every single day. Obviously, we have a plan for him, football-wise, when he gets back, but we haven’t been told when yet.”

The Ravens had hoped that Flacco might only miss one week of practice, but that was always the best-case scenario as they’re being cautious with the start of the season still five weeks away. If he doesn’t return to the field this week, it would be difficult envisioning him playing in the second preseason game at Miami on Aug. 17.

Flacco isn’t the only notable starter currently sidelined, however, as cornerback Jimmy Smith missed his third consecutive practice on Saturday. First-round rookie Marlon Humphrey has also missed three straight workouts with an undisclosed ailment, but he was seen doing some agility work on the sideline at the Naval Academy, leaving one to believe he isn’t far away from a return.

Smith’s return to practice is apparently imminent, which is good news for a player with a frustrating history of injuries.

“Jimmy just [has] a little tweak in there,” said Harbaugh, refraining from specifying the location. “I decided to keep him off the turf today, and I actually held him out [Friday], too. He should be back Monday.”

Harbaugh also appeared to take a conservative approach with veterans Terrell Suggs, Eric Weddle, and Jeremy Maclin, who all sat out the practice at Navy–Marine Corps Memorial Stadium after practicing without incident on Friday. Cornerback Al-Hajj Shabazz was also a new absentee on Saturday.

Newly-signed right tackle Austin Howard was not with the team for Saturday’s practice, but he is likely to be on the field when the team reconvenes Monday morning in Owings Mills. The 30-year-old spent part of the 2011 season on Baltimore’s practice squad before being signed by the New York Jets, an interesting footnote as he was inked to a three-year, $16 million deal on Friday

“We were disappointed to lose him; I remember it well when we lost him,” Harbaugh said. “We wanted to keep him at the time, too, and that is how it works in this league. He did a great job, but a lot of times guys like to come back to Baltimore. They get out and see that this was a pretty good place.”

Others remaining sidelined Saturday included wide receivers Breshad Perriman (hamstring), Kenny Bell (hamstring), and Chris Matthews (undisclosed), guard Alex Lewis (undisclosed), and cornerbacks Sheldon Price (undisclosed) and Maurice Canady (knee).

Tight end Larry Donnell returned to practice after hurting his hand on Thursday.

As expected, tight end Crockett Gillmore (knee) cleared waivers Saturday and reverted to injured reserve. He will no longer count against the 90-man roster limit and is in the final season of his four-year rookie contract signed in 2014.

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