Tag Archive | "John Harbaugh"

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Ravens wide receiver Perriman still sidelined with hamstring injury

Posted on 03 August 2017 by Luke Jones

OWINGS MILLS, Md. — Ravens wide receiver Breshad Perriman left the field earlier this week with a hamstring issue originally not believed to be serious, but he missed his second straight practice Thursday.

When he’ll return remains unclear with head coach John Harbaugh not exactly painting a picture suggesting an imminent return. The 2015 first-round pick earned strong reviews in offseason workouts and is aiming to break out after catching 33 passes for 499 yards and three touchdowns last season.

Perriman missed his entire rookie season with a partially-torn posterior cruciate ligament in his right knee and missed most of training camp last year with a partially-torn anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee that did not require surgery. He returned to play in all 16 games in 2016 and is expected to serve as Baltimore’s No. 3 receiver behind veterans Jeremy Maclin and Mike Wallace this season.

“Things happen for a reason, and maybe this is a blessing in disguise,” Harbaugh said. “We’ll continue to work on all the things he needs to work on, in terms of his body, catching, things like that. He’ll get the mental work in the [walk-through] practices. I would say he’s had a plus camp, and hopefully it’ll lead to a really good season.

“I’ll also follow with [saying] I wish we had him out there practicing the rest of the time, obviously, but that’s what we have right now.”

Wide receivers coach Bobby Engram described Perriman’s development as “night and day” compared to last year as he’s shown more consistent hands and improved route-running ability. Quarterback Joe Flacco also praised the strides the young receiver had made this spring, making this latest ailment a disappointing development for an offense in need of youthful upside.

Of course, the Ravens are wise to be cautious with the start of the regular season still five weeks away.

“I think he’ll be fine,” said Engram about Perriman’s mindset after another physical challenge. “Obviously, it is a part of our profession, which none of us like to deal with. But mentally, he is in a really good place. He has a great group of guys in this room that are supporting him. He knows this organization is behind him. He just has to get healthy, come back, and let’s roll.”

Flacco missed his seventh consecutive practice with a back issue as the Ravens continue to roll with Ryan Mallett leading the starting offense. Center Ryan Jensen was also absent with an undisclosed issue while former practice-squad member Matt Skura served as the first-team center during Thursday’s practice.

Others missing from Thursday’s workout included first-round rookie cornerback Marlon Humphrey (undisclosed), wide receiver Kenny Bell (hamstring), offensive lineman Brandon Kublanow (undisclosed), and defensive backs Maurice Canady (knee) and Sheldon Price (undisclosed). Humphrey did not take part in a large portion of Wednesday’s practice.

Harbaugh also gave a lengthy list of veterans the day off as wide receiver Mike Wallace, running back Danny Woodhead, tight end Benjamin Watson, cornerbacks Jimmy Smith and Brandon Carr, safety Lardarius Webb, and linebackers Terrell Suggs and Albert McClellan were not present during the morning session.

Recently-signed tight end Larry Donnell left practice after hurting his hand and did not return, but Harbaugh wasn’t aware of the severity at the conclusion of practice. The Ravens can hardly afford to lose another player at the position with Dennis Pitta, Darren Waller, and Crockett Gillmore already gone for the season.

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Flacco making “very positive” progress after week-long absence

Posted on 02 August 2017 by Luke Jones

OWINGS MILLS, Md. — The Ravens aren’t saying when quarterback Joe Flacco will make his 2017 training camp debut, but he’s apparently making good progress.

As the Colin Kaepernick discussion persists and a Ryan Mallet-led offense has struggled through the first week of practice, head coach John Harbaugh said the 10th-year starter is responding favorably to rest and treatment for a back ailment. Flacco has missed the first six practices of the summer, the first time in his career that he’s missed time during training camp.

Despite expressing optimism that he may only miss a week, the Ravens won’t rush him back to the practice field with the season opener still more than five weeks away.

“You can’t really say exactly when or when we might even decide to do it,” Harbaugh said. “But all indications from Joe and from our trainer Mark Smith have been very positive.”

Wide receivers Breshad Perriman (hamstring) and Kenny Bell (hamstring), cornerbacks Maurice Canady (knee) and Sheldon Price (unspecified), and offensive lineman Brandon Kublanow (unspecified) were also absent from Wednesday’s practice. Harbaugh also confirmed that rookie offensive lineman Nico Siragusa suffered a season-ending knee injury on Tuesday.

After saying Perriman’s hamstring tightness didn’t appear to be serious a day earlier, Harbaugh said Wednesday he would refrain from commenting on how long injured players might be sidelined moving forward. Of course, he and the Ravens drew much criticism for the public handling of Perriman’s knee injury during his rookie season, making one wonder if Wednesday’s comments were in reference to the wide receiver specifically.

“It is really hard to put a time frame on them,” said Harbaugh about camp injuries. “I know everybody wants a time frame, and we do want to keep our fans informed. We do want people to know basically what is going on. But, I have learned the lesson the hard way. You just do not know how long things are going to last. You start putting dates on them, and everybody starts questioning you.

“Sometimes, we maybe keep guys [out] longer or get them back quicker. It is just unpredictable. We will let you know if it is serious. If it is not serious, it is not serious and it is a number of days or even weeks. That is where we are.”

Left tackle Ronnie Stanley and center Ryan Jensen were held out of a large portion of Wednesday’s practice, but the former said he was fine when asked about his health. With two members of the projected offensive line not participating, the Ravens used James Hurst at left tackle, Alex Lewis at left guard, Matt Skura at center, rookie fifth-round pick Jermaine Eluemunor at right guard, and Stephane Nembot at right tackle with the first-team offense.

Surprisingly, rookie wide receiver Quincy Adeboyejo was back at practice a day after being carted off the field with what appeared to be a back issue. The undrafted free agent from Ole Miss caught several deep passes and even beat cornerback Jimmy Smith on two different occasions.

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Newsome denies report of Bisciotti blocking Kaepernick signing

Posted on 02 August 2017 by Luke Jones

OWINGS MILLS, Md. — Ravens general manager Ozzie Newsome says no decision has been made on the status of Colin Kaepernick and that owner Steve Bisciotti has not blocked his potential signing.

Making his first public comment on the polarizing quarterback, Newsome responded to an ESPN report Wednesday morning saying the Baltimore owner was resisting Kaepernick’s addition. The report stated that Newsome and head coach John Harbaugh are on board for his signing.

“We are going through a process, and we have not made a decision,” Newsome said in a statement released by the team. “Steve Bisciotti has not told us we cannot sign Colin Kaepernick, nor has he blocked the move. Whoever is making those claims is wrong.”

Bisciotti spoke at length about Kaepernick during a fan forum at M&T Bank Stadium Sunday and expressed uncertainty about whether the former San Francisco 49er would help the Ravens win games. Admitting he didn’t agree with all of Kaepernick’s protest methods, Bisciotti said the organization has consulted with current and former players and received plenty of feedback from fans on the issue.

Starting quarterback Joe Flacco remains sidelined with a back issue while backup Ryan Mallett has struggled in the first week of training camp, leading many to clamor for Kaepernick’s signing. Harbaugh had no new information on Kaepernick after Wednesday’s practice.

“I do not have an update on Colin Kaepernick or our quarterback situation,” Harbaugh said. “Really, I’ll frame that this way: there are other positions we’re looking at too and I don’t have any updates on those, either. So, I think they’re all in the same category.”

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Twelve Ravens thoughts on first week of training camp

Posted on 01 August 2017 by Luke Jones

With the Ravens winding down their opening week of training camp, I’ve offered a dozen thoughts, each in 50 words or less:

1. Injuries have been a story for years, but the current run since June 1 is staggering. The Ravens revamped their training program over the last two offseasons in response to having a combined 39 players on injured reserve in 2014 and 2015. They’re not turning a blind eye to this.

2. The offense has definitely fared poorly with Joe Flacco sidelined, but let’s not shortchange the defense through all the criticism for Ryan Mallett and company. The collective quarterback play has often looked inept, but this Baltimore defense has much potential. The truth lies somewhere in the middle.

3. Crockett Gillmore had lofty expectations in the final year of his rookie contract, making his latest injury a disappointment for a player who showed much promise in 2015. Assuming he doesn’t make a miraculous return this season, he will have missed 31 games over the last three campaigns.

4. The award for biggest change in body type goes to Matt Judon, who looks 20 pounds lighter than he did as a rookie. Aiming to be the strong-side outside linebacker, Judon dropped weight over the summer to be better in coverage. He’s looked the part in the first few practices.

5. Don’t sleep on Matt Skura, who is a reserve center and has filled in for Marshal Yanda during full-team drills. After spending last season on the practice squad, the Duke product has a big opportunity with John Urschel retired and Nico Siragusa now out for the year.

6. I’ve counted as many as 10 different players taking reps as a punt or kick returner so far. Undrafted rookie wide receiver Tim White is a name to watch, but this appears to be a wide-open competition, which is nothing new since Jacoby Jones’ release a couple years ago.

7. The injury was lost in the wash, but the indefinite loss of Maurice Canady is a tough blow after slot cornerback Tavon Young went down for the season in the spring. Lardarius Webb has been working in the slot with veteran newcomer Brandon Boykin off to a slow start.

8. The first-round selection of Marlon Humphrey didn’t receive much enthusiasm in April, but the 21-year-old has shown impressive composure and has made plays early in his first training camp. The presence of Brandon Carr eases the immediate need, but the Alabama product has impressed.

9. Maxx Williams deserves ample time to get his football legs back under him, but he hasn’t moved particularly well so far in his return from a secretive knee surgery that had never been performed on an NFL player. The Ravens could really use contributions from their 2015 second-round pick.

10. Young pass rushers take time to develop, but Tim Williams has stood out in individual drills. His quickness is evident as he blew past a rookie offensive tackle who hadn’t even gotten out of his stance Tuesday, and he’s even gotten the best of Ronnie Stanley from time to time.

11. Rookie free agents to watch in the preseason include defensive end Patrick Ricard and cornerback Jaylen Hill as well as White. It wouldn’t shock me to see Ricard become the next undrafted defensive lineman to stick, but we still have a long way to go.

12. How rough has the first week of training camp been? Justin Tucker even missed consecutive field goal tries from 49 yards on Tuesday, something I’m not sure I’ve ever seen him do in practice. I’ll go out on a limb and predict that he’ll be OK, however.

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Bisciotti not sure Kaepernick would help Ravens win games

Posted on 30 July 2017 by Luke Jones

BALTIMORE — Owner Steve Bisciotti says the Ravens are still weighing the possibility of signing Colin Kaepernick, but he isn’t sure whether the polarizing quarterback would help his team win games.

Speaking to fans at a special forum that included NFL commissioner Roger Goodell prior to Sunday’s practice at M&T Bank Stadium, Bisciotti said he is still discussing the matter with team president Dick Cass, general manager Ozzie Newsome, and head coach John Harbaugh while also surveying current and former players for their opinions. As Harbaugh indicated Friday, the status of starting quarterback Joe Flacco, who is currently sidelined with a bad back, remains the biggest variable in the decision-making process from a football standpoint.

Cass confirmed during the forum that the Ravens have had direct discussions with Kaepernick, who has expressed his desire to continue his football career.

“We do want to win games, and I’m not sure right now that he is going to help us do that,” Bisciotti said. “We’re monitoring Joe. We’ve talked to Joe about it. We’re monitoring [Ryan] Mallett. We’re keeping our door open. We’ve talked about [Robert Griffin III], bringing him in for a workout.”

Bisciotti admitted he wasn’t a fan of seeing Kaepernick sit during the national anthem last preseason, but he gained more respect for the former San Francisco 49er’s protest when he began kneeling for “The Star-Spangled Banner” in the 2016 preseason finale and continued that practice in the regular season.

The Ravens have said they’ve received plenty of fan feedback over the last few days and have carefully considered how Kaepernick’s signing would impact their brand.

“Colin’s made some assurances — I think through his intermediaries — that there would be no protesting, that he would be standing for the [national anthem],” Bisciotti said. “To quantify hurting the brand, I know that we’re going to upset some people and I know that we’re going to make people happy that we stood up for somebody that has the right to do what he did.

“Nonviolent protesting is something that we’ve all embraced.”

The Ravens had $6.956 million in salary cap space entering Sunday, but they then signed former New York Giants tight end Larry Donnell to a spot on their 90-man roster. Mallett, the current backup, was re-signed to a one-year, $2 million with a $1 million signing bonus in March.

Below is Bisciotti’s complete answer to a fan’s question about the potential impact a Kaepernick signing would have on the Ravens’ brand:

We are very sensitive to it. It’s been discussed between Dick and Ozzie and John, and we’ve talked to a lot of our current players and a lot of our former players. I was speaking to Ray Lewis this morning. I know Ozzie had a long conversation with Ben Watson. I wouldn’t divulge people’s opinions, but I think you’d be kind of shocked at some people that are against it and some people that are for it. It’s not racial lines. It’s not existing players versus former players. I care about the fan base, but I have to absorb the opinions of the players that have been there.

Colin’s made some assurances I think through his intermediaries that there would be no protesting, that he would be standing for the [national anthem]. To quantify hurting the brand, I know that we’re going to upset some people and I know that we’re going to make people happy that we stood up for somebody that has the right to do what he did. Nonviolent protesting is something that we’ve all embraced. I don’t like the way he did it. Personally, I kind of liked it a lot when he went from sitting to kneeling. I don’t know. I’m Catholic [and] we spend a lot of time kneeling. When I saw him develop last year and went from sitting to kneeling next to his teammates, I liked that. I just thought, ‘OK, if it’s still a silent protest, I don’t think that the level of disrespect is as strong that way.’

We do want to win games, and I’m not sure right now that he is going to help us do that. We’re monitoring Joe. We’ve talked to Joe about it. We’re monitoring Mallett. We’re keeping our door open. We’ve talked about [Robert Griffin III], bringing him in for a workout.

All I would ask is to just talk to your neighbors and your friends and your co-workers, too, because I think you’ll just get the same sense that I got. Wow, every time I hear something negative, I hear something positive and sometimes it shocks me who it’s coming from. I hope we do what is best for the team and balance that with what’s best for our fans. Your opinions matter to us, and you couldn’t get a consensus in here, either. Every time there’s a sensitive subject, we know.

When I fired [Brian] Billick nine years ago, it sounded like 90 percent of the people in Baltimore wanted me to fire him until I fired him and then I found out 80 percent thought I was an idiot. You’ve got to be careful about the vocal minority. They have the tendency to seem to be a bigger group than they are.

We’re very sensitive to it, and we’re monitoring it. We’re still, as Ozzie says, scrimmaging it, and we’re trying to figure out what’s the right tact. So, pray for us.

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Ravens remain in holding pattern with Flacco resting back

Posted on 28 July 2017 by Luke Jones

OWINGS MILLS, Md. — The Ravens are in a holding pattern with franchise quarterback Joe Flacco continuing to rest his ailing back.

The concern is hardly dire yet with the season opener still six weeks away, but that could change if the 32-year-old doesn’t respond favorably to the rest and treatment he’s receiving over the first week of training camp. Back injuries can be complicated and often linger if not handled carefully, making it wise for the Ravens to take their time with their most important player.

Of course, that hasn’t slowed the red-hot discussion about whether Baltimore should sign polarizing quarterback Colin Kaepernick, who remains unemployed despite clearly possessing the talent to play in a league that lacks quality signal-callers. Over the last two days, head coach John Harbaugh has heaped plenty of praise on Kaepernick, who played for his brother and Ravens senior offensive assistant Greg Roman in San Francisco.

But it’s complicated.

“We’ll just see how it plays out. It has to do with our need,” Harbaugh said. “Joe is day to day. Do we really need to make that move or not? That’s the decision that really has to be made. There are a lot of layers to it, just from a football standpoint. I’ll focus on the football part.

“If there are other layers to it, then that’s taken into consideration at the appropriate level.”

Those other layers are very relevant from a business standpoint and primarily concern owner Steve Bisciotti and team president Dick Cass, but let’s focus on football, roster construction, and the salary cap. Your opinion on the non-football part of the discussion is unlikely to be swayed at this point anyway, whether you’re pounding the desk for him to be wearing purple or threatening to cancel your season tickets over his potential signing.

The newly-signed David Olson is irrelevant to this debate. Harbaugh said Thursday that the Ravens needed to add a camp “arm” immediately, and Olson merely assumed the reps that assistant coach Matt Weiss was forced to take because there were only two healthy quarterbacks on the field for Thursday’s full-squad practice involving a total of 85 players. The former arena quarterback isn’t replacing Flacco or backup Ryan Mallett and didn’t take a potential spot from Kaepernick, either.

That brings us to Mallett. In a vacuum, Kaepernick is the better quarterback who brings much more experience to the table. The incumbent backup possesses a similar skill set to Flacco that does make for an easy short-term transition from a schematic standpoint, but the Ravens also employed Tyrod Taylor as their backup for four years, making you think a difference in style shouldn’t be a major deterrent with all things being equal.

But Mallett was just signed to a one-year, $2 million contract with a $1 million signing bonus at the start of free agency back in March, which suggests they at least had a comfort level in him as a backup less than five months ago. You can fairly question the wisdom in re-signing him so quickly if they’re no longer enamored with his performance, which has been poor over the first couple days of camp.

According to the NFL Players Association, the Ravens currently have $6.881 million in salary cap space, a number that will shrink at the end of the preseason when the Rule of 51 no longer applies and teams must fit their entire 53-man roster, their players on injured reserve, and their 10-man practice squad under the cap. In other words, the Ravens do not have much flexibility right now and will still need a “rainy day” fund when other roster needs arise over the duration of the season.

Signing Kaepernick and cutting Mallett — assuming the Ravens would continue their current eight-year trend of entering a season with just two quarterbacks on the 53-man roster — would leave $1 million of dead money on the cap. In other words, the Ravens would need to add that amount to whatever they would give Kaepernick, making his salary expectations quite relevant to this discussion. His ability suggests that he should be worth much more, but we know how his story has played out throughout the offseason and we don’t know if he would accept the veteran minimum or a little more than that.

As it stands, general manager Ozzie Newsome maybe has one moderate signing he can make without having to restructure veteran contracts and impacting future cap years. With so much concern along the offensive line as well as questions at other positions such as tight end and running back, should improving the backup quarterback spot really be a top priority? If there are questions about the offense with Flacco under center, would you rather have Kaepernick standing on the sideline as an insurance policy or add another offensive lineman that’s going to see the field and better protect a quarterback whose health is potentially in question?

Of course, that brings us back to the current holding pattern.

If the Ravens are more concerned about Flacco’s long-term availability going into the regular season than they’re currently indicating, Kaepernick makes plenty of sense. In a worst-case scenario, Roman could dust off some zone-read packages from his San Francisco days and allow Kaepernick to better utilize his athleticism in what would be viewed by some as a throwaway season anyway if the franchise quarterback were to be on the shelf.

If Flacco’s back is perfectly fine in a week or two, however, pumping more dollars into the quarterback position doesn’t seem like the best allocation of resources for a team desperate to get back to the playoffs for the first time since 2014.

Yes, Kaepernick is good enough to play in this league, either as a starter or as a high-quality backup. He deserves to have that opportunity somewhere.

But the timing and conditions of a potential marriage with the Ravens will be on their terms.

And that’s not even considering those other layers currently being discussed by the powers that be.

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Two Pro Bowl players return to field for start of Ravens training camp

Posted on 27 July 2017 by Luke Jones

OWINGS MILLS, Md. — Having lost five players to season-ending injury, suspension, or retirement since June 1 and currently without starting quarterback Joe Flacco, the Ravens had to be excited to see two star players back on the field Thursday.

Six-time Pro Bowl guard Marshal Yanda and two-time Pro Bowl inside linebacker C.J. Mosley were present and working for the start of training camp after missing spring workouts. Both underwent offseason shoulder surgeries, and it hadn’t been clear when they would be ready to return this summer.

Yanda worked only on a limited basis, but his return alleviates any lingering concern about his availability for the start of the regular season. The 32-year-old missed three games with a left shoulder injury that forced him to move from right guard to the left side last season, but that didn’t stop him from making a sixth consecutive Pro Bowl.

Head coach John Harbaugh revealed in May that Mosley had undergone the procedure, but he was  active in his first practice since the end of last season. With Kamalei Correa taking over for former starter Zach Orr at the weak-side inside linebacker spot, the Ravens will count on Mosley to help tutor the 2016 second-round pick who only played sparingly as a rookie.

“C.J. really wants to go out and practice,” Harbaugh said. “He wants to get his legs underneath him and get moving. I thought he practiced great. Anytime your top players are out there, it makes you feel good.”

Free-agent newcomer Tony Jefferson sat out most of Thursday’s practice as Harbaugh revealed that he underwent sports hernia surgery after June’s mandatory minicamp. The strong safety told his coach that he’s 100 percent, but he was limited to individual work.

Former starter Lardarius Webb filled in for him next to Eric Weddle in the defensive backfield.

“He is so mad at me right now, but I put him through individual [drills] and held him out the rest of it,” said Harbaugh about Jefferson. “I just want to make sure that he does not burst too quickly and have something reoccur. That is my decision to ease him back in there a little bit.”

As expected, Flacco was absent from practice and is expected to sit out the first week in hopes of calming down a back issue. Backup Ryan Mallett took the first-team reps, but Ravens players downplayed any negative impact from Flacco’s absence at this early stage of camp.

“We’re all professionals,” wide receiver Jeremy Maclin said. “While you would like to have all your guns, if something doesn’t work, you have to move on to the next. The most important thing right now is for Joe to get healthy. When Joe is out here, we’ll get the work in. Right now, we’re going to get all the reps we can get in with Ryan.”

Defensive tackle Carl Davis (pectoral) and tight ends Benjamin Watson (Achilles tendon), Crockett Gillmore (hamstring), and Maxx Williams (knee) were all practicing after missing time during spring organized team activites.

Wide receiver Michael Campanaro (toe) remains on the active physically unable to perform list, but his return to practice is considered close.

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With Flacco sidelined, Ravens not ruling out signing Kaepernick

Posted on 27 July 2017 by Luke Jones

OWINGS MILLS, Md. — After confirming Joe Flacco would receive a week of rest for his ailing back to begin training camp, Ravens head coach John Harbaugh brought up the name on many minds before he could even be asked the question.

Citing a good relationship that began when his brother, Jim, was still the head coach in San Francisco, Harbaugh acknowledged the possibility of the Ravens adding ex-49er Colin Kaepernick. The polarizing quarterback remains unsigned with many believing that the NFL has blackballed him for choosing not to stand during the national anthem as a form of protest during the 2016 season.

Kaepernick has said that he was making a statement about the oppression of non-white races and social inequality in the United States, but an ESPN report in March indicated that the 29-year-old plans to once again stand for the anthem this season after believing his message had been heard.

“He and I have been talking throughout the summer a number of times,” Harbaugh said. “We’ve had some great conversations on the phone. It’s really been a pleasure to talk to him and get to know him. I like history and politics and stuff, too, so we’ve had some debates. It’s been fun, and he’s a great guy. He’s a guy right now that’s being talked about, and we’ll just see what happens with that. I think that would all be speculation right now, but I think he’s a really good football player. As I said at the owners’ meetings, I do believe he’ll be playing in the National Football League this year.”

The Ravens currently have just two healthy quarterbacks on their 90-man roster as projected backup Ryan Mallett handled the starting reps and the little-known Dustin Vaughan struggled mightily during Thursday’s practice. With the shortage of signal-callers on the field, offensive assistant Matt Weiss was even handling some snaps during a few drills.

Harbaugh confirmed that the Ravens would definitely be adding another training camp “arm” to handle reps, but he emphasized that Kaepernick would be more than that, labeling him an “accomplished” player. Despite beginning the 2016 season as the backup to Blaine Gabbert, the Super Bowl XLVII quarterback threw for 16 touchdowns and four interceptions with a 90.7 passer rating in 12 games. Kaepernick visited with Seattle in late May, but no other teams with serious interest have been reported since he became a free agent in March.

Safety Eric Weddle, who rapidly became one of the team leaders upon arriving in Baltimore last year, took a pragmatic stance on the possibility of Kaepernick — or any other outsider — becoming a Raven.

“I don’t really care who they bring in, what they do,” Weddle said. “If it helps our team, bring them all in. That’s upstairs. That’s for the coaching staff and Ozzie [Newsome] and Eric [DeCosta] and [Steve] Bisciotti to figure out who they want to bring in. Whether he’s the right guy, I don’t really know, I don’t really care. We’re just trying to be the best team.”

The Ravens’ true level of interest likely depends on the health of Flacco, who only reported his back discomfort to the team Wednesday when he arrived at the training facility. Mallett was re-signed to a one-year, $2 million contract at the start of free agency, which leads one to believe that the organization is comfortable with him as the backup quarterback.

While much of the outside world salivates over the possibility of Kaepernick landing in Baltimore, Harbaugh is keeping his fingers crossed that Flacco will be back on the field sooner than later.

“It flared up a little bit, and he went and saw the back specialist,” said Harbaugh, who dismissed any concern that Flacco wouldn’t be ready for the start of the regular season. “They’re recommending about a week of rest. They say that should take care of it. I guess with a back, you can always say, ‘We’ll see.’ All indications from the back specialist, Dr. [John] Carbone, are that he should be fine in about a week, and that’s what we’ll be hoping for and praying for.”

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Flacco reportedly to miss start of training camp with back issue

Posted on 26 July 2017 by Luke Jones

The Ravens have already endured a litany of injuries since the start of spring workouts, but the eve of training camp brought an unsettling development for their most important player.

According to multiple outlets, quarterback Joe Flacco will miss the start of camp with a disc issue in his back. It remains uncertain how long the 10th-year signal-caller will be out, but an NFL Network report suggested he could miss as much as three to six weeks, which wouldn’t leave a great deal of time ahead of the Sept. 10 season opener.

The Ravens have yet to comment publicly on Flacco’s health or status, but head coach John Harbaugh is scheduled to speak with the media after the first full-squad practice of the summer on Thursday morning. A recent media advisory sent out by the team’s public relations staff had Flacco scheduled to meet with reporters Friday, but it’s unclear whether that session will still take place.

The Super Bowl XLVII Most Valuable Player hadn’t missed a game in his career until tearing the ACL and MCL in his left knee in the latter half of the 2015 season and missing the final six games. Flacco, 32, returned for the start of training camp last year and started all 16 games, but he missed some practice time with a tender shoulder ahead of the Week 7 loss to the New York Jets.

Though eclipsing the 4,000-yard mark for the first time in his career, Flacco is coming off a down season in which he threw only 20 touchdowns and averaged 6.4 yards per pass attempt, which ranked 27th out of 30 qualified quarterbacks. The Ravens are counting on a bounce-back campaign to help them return to the playoffs for the first time since 2014.

“He is the guy that makes the whole offense go,” said wide receiver Mike Wallace on Wednesday before word of Flacco’s back discomfort surfaced. “Just getting more time with him and him being healthy the whole offseason and being able to work with him even more just puts us in a better position and a better place.

“Even though I think from Day 1 last year in training camp, he was ready to go, but just for him to be healthy and not have to worry about his knee at all and just get the time from Day 1 and [organized team activities] and everything, we all feel more confident.”

Of course, back problems can be volatile, so the Ravens will want to be cautious with their franchise quarterback at this early stage of the summer.

The injury leaves Baltimore with just two healthy quarterbacks — backup Ryan Mallett and the little-known Dustin Vaughan — for the start of camp. Even if Flacco were only to miss a week or two, the Ravens would likely prefer to add another quarterback to merely share practice reps.

A longer absence would bring a more compelling discussion as media and fans were already speculating Wednesday evening about the possibility of the Ravens adding veteran Colin Kaepernick, whose continued unemployment has led many to believe he’s been blackballed by the NFL after choosing not to stand for the national anthem as a form of protest during the 2016 season. In addition to playing for Jim Harbaugh in San Francisco, Kaepernick was tutored by current Ravens senior offensive assistant Greg Roman, the 49ers’ offensive coordinator from 2011-2014.

The Flacco news came just a day after second-year running back Kenneth Dixon underwent season-ending knee surgery. Baltimore also lost cornerback Tavon Young (knee) and tight end Dennis Pitta (hip) to season-ending injuries during spring OTAs. Tight end Darren Waller was also suspended for a year for violating the league’s substance-abuse policy.

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Sizing up the post-minicamp 2017 Ravens roster

Posted on 20 June 2017 by Luke Jones

With mandatory minicamp in the rear-view mirror and training camp several weeks away, the Ravens now turn their sights toward the preseason and eventually paring the 90-man offseason to 53 by the start of the regular season.

Few conclusions should be drawn from voluntary organized team activities and three mandatory practices — without live contact — but my still-too-early look at the roster suggests as many as 38 players would be considered locks if the deadline to trim the roster took place now. My rough assessment of the 90 players currently on the roster lists 24 on the bubble. Not all bubble players are on equal footing, of course, with some positions lacking enough quality depth and others enjoying an abundance of talent and likely falling victim to the numbers game.

Though general manager Ozzie Newsome, coach John Harbaugh, and the rest of the coaching staff and front office are cognizant of the numbers at each position, trying to pinpoint a specific number of tight ends or cornerbacks or wide receivers isn’t the most accurate way of projecting a roster. The Ravens are looking for reserves who will excel on special teams, so coaches will look carefully at players’ other abilities and overall athleticism in addition to what they bring to their specific position when filling out the bottom of the roster.

Of course, this breakdown can change at any point with owner Steve Bisciotti even expressing his desire earlier this month to add a veteran to an offensive line that lost two starters in the offseason.

The numbers in parentheses indicate the total number of players currently on the roster at that given position. As we move into the preseason, I’ll provide updated looks as well as projections of who’s in and who’s out at different stages of the summer.

QUARTERBACKS (3)
LOCK: Joe Flacco, Ryan Mallett
BUBBLE: None
LONG SHOT: Dustin Vaughan
Skinny: All eyes will be on Flacco to provide more consistent play being another year removed from his 2015 knee injury. The fact that the Ravens didn’t even give Vaughan a special non-contact quarterback jersey this spring suggests he’s not a real threat to Mallett for the backup job.

RUNNING BACKS & FULLBACKS (7)
LOCK: Terrance West, Danny Woodhead, Kenneth Dixon
BUBBLE: Lorenzo Taliaferro, Buck Allen
LONG SHOT: Ricky Ortiz, Taquan Mizzell
Skinny: Taliaferro is an intriguing option at fullback if he stays healthy, but keep an eye on Ortiz if that doesn’t happen. Allen is the most interesting bubble name to watch in this group as he could have a tough time sticking on the roster, especially once Dixon returns from a four-game ban in October.

WIDE RECEIVERS (13)
LOCK: Jeremy Maclin, Mike Wallace, Breshad Perriman, Chris Moore
BUBBLE: Michael Campanaro, Keenan Reynolds, Chris Matthews
LONG SHOT: Tim White, Kenny Bell, Tim Patrick, Aaron Bailey, C.J. Board, Quincy Adeboyejo
Skinny: The top four are clearly defined, but there will likely be one or two more spots up for grabs, making it a big summer for the likes of Campanaro and Reynolds. Special teams will be a major factor here, and it’s worth noting that White showed some ability as a returner this spring.

TIGHT ENDS (7)
LOCK: None
BUBBLE: Nick Boyle, Darren Waller, Benjamin Watson, Crockett Gillmore, Maxx Williams
LONG SHOT: Vince Mayle, Ryan Malleck
Skinny: Depending on whom you ask, the lack of a lock here is a reflection of a deep and talented group or of an inventory having too many question marks. Health will be the biggest determining factor, and Williams is a strong candidate to start the summer on the physically unable to perform list.

OFFENSIVE LINEMEN (16)
LOCK: Marshal Yanda, Ronnie Stanley, Alex Lewis, John Urschel, Ryan Jensen, James Hurst, Nico Siragusa
BUBBLE: Jermaine Eluemunor, De’Ondre Wesley, Matt Skura, Stephane Nembot
LONG SHOT: Brandon Kublanow, Jarell Broxton, Jarrod Pughsley, Roubbens Joseph, Maurquice Shakir
Skinny: The addition of a veteran center or right tackle could push any combination of Urschel, Jensen, and Hurst to the bubble line, but those three of easily received the most first-team reps in trying to replace Jeremy Zuttah and Rick Wagner. It’s difficult to trust this group as it’s presently constructed.

DEFENSIVE LINEMEN (8)
LOCK: Brandon Williams, Michael Pierce, Chris Wormley, Bronson Kaufusi, Brent Urban
BUBBLE: Carl Davis, Willie Henry
LONG SHOT: Patrick Ricard
Skinny: Davis was lining up as the starting 3-technique defensive tackle to begin OTAs, but a pectoral injury once again leaves you wondering about his ability to stay on the field. Urban is a surprising lock at this stage of the offseason, but he handled virtually all 5-technique reps with the first team.

INSIDE LINEBACKERS (8)
LOCK: C.J. Mosley, Kamalei Correa, Albert McClellan
BUBBLE: Patrick Onwuasor, Lamar Louis
LONG SHOT: Boseko Lokombo, Bam Bradley, Donald Payne
Skinny: Onwuasor would be a good bet after shining on special teams as a rookie, but it wouldn’t be surprising to see the Ravens add a veteran to the mix if Correa struggles in the preseason. There’s a clear opportunity here for the lesser names in this position group to earn a roster spot.

OUTSIDE LINEBACKERS (7)
LOCK: Terrell Suggs, Matt Judon, Tyus Bowser, Tim Williams
BUBBLE: Za’Darius Smith, Brennen Beyer
LONG SHOT: Randy Allen
Skinny: This is a critical summer for Smith after he disappointed in his second season and fell behind Judon in the pecking order, but playing time is up for grabs off the edge, especially with Suggs turning 35 in October. Beyer has worked some as an inside linebacker to improve his roster chances.

CORNERBACKS (10)
LOCK: Jimmy Smith, Brandon Carr, Marlon Humphrey
BUBBLE: Maurice Canady, Brandon Boykin, Sheldon Price
LONG SHOT: Robertson Daniel, Jaylen Hill, Al-Hajj Shabazz
INJURED RESERVE: Tavon Young
Skinny: Canady could be viewed as a lock based on the way he practiced in the slot in place of the injured Young, but many corners have stood out in the spring before fading and Boykin isn’t far removed from being a solid nickel in the NFL. Despite the improved depth outside, don’t sleep on Price.

SAFETIES (7)
LOCK: Eric Weddle, Tony Jefferson, Lardarius Webb, Anthony Levine
BUBBLE: Chuck Clark
LONG SHOT: Daniel Henry, Otha Foster
Skinny: The Ravens may have the best safety group in the AFC, which will make it challenging for the sixth-round rookie Clark to make the team. There’s potential to be creative with Weddle, Jefferson, and Webb all on the field at the same time, so it will be interesting watching their usage this summer.

SPECIALISTS (4)
LOCK: Sam Koch, Morgan Cox, Justin Tucker
BUBBLE: None
LONG SHOT: Kenny Allen
Skinny: There’s no roster intrigue with this group, but Allen only needs to look at the success of Wil Lutz with New Orleans last year as evidence to soak up as much knowledge and experience as he can from special teams coordinator Jerry Rosburg and the incumbent specialists this summer.

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