Tag Archive | "John Harbaugh"

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Perriman, Dumervil come off Ravens’ PUP list

Posted on 22 August 2016 by Luke Jones

OWINGS MILLS, Md. — After Ravens outside linebacker Elvis Dumervil returned to the practice field on Monday morning, head coach John Harbaugh announced a teammate would be joining him in coming off the physically unable to perform list.

Sidelined since suffering a partially-torn anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee during organized team activities in June, wide receiver Breshad Perriman was set to take part in the afternoon walk-through. Harbaugh says he’s excited to see Perriman practice, but he acknowledged that the 2015 first-round pick would be brought back to practices slowly as he works his way into football shape.

The 6-foot-2, 215-pound Central Florida product missed his entire rookie season with a partially-torn posterior cruciate ligament in his right knee sustained on the first day of training camp.

“I’m sure we’ll all be holding our breath a little bit. It’s just natural,” Harbaugh said. “But he’s in great spirits — I can tell you that. He’s worked extremely hard. I think he’s really grown through all of this, and he’s learned how to really work at the rehab. You know he’s been forced to do that, so I’m looking forward to seeing how he looks when he comes back.”

With Perriman not having practiced to this point, many had begun speculating that he would begin the regular season on the reserve PUP list, which would have sidelined him for at least the first six games. However, Monday’s activation makes it clear that the Ravens are confident that he is healthy enough to return to live-game action sooner rather than later.

Meanwhile, Dumervil was taking part in his first practice since undergoing offseason foot surgery. Entering his 11th NFL season and fourth with the Ravens, the five-time Pro Bowl linebacker made it clear his primary concern is being ready for Buffalo on Sept. 11.

It remains to be seen whether he or Perriman will play in the preseason.

“That’s a day-by-day situation. We’ll see how that works out,” Dumervil said. “The goal is for the opener for sure. If I can try to get a preseason [game] in, that would be awesome. If not, then I’m looking forward to the opener.”

Also returning to the practice field on Monday was wide receiver Chris Matthews, who had missed two weeks with a soft-tissue injury.

Other absences included tight ends Dennis Pitta (finger) and Maxx Williams, guard John Urschel (contusion), defensive backs Kyle Arrington (head) and Kendrick Lewis. New players missing from practice after Saturday’s preseason win were safety Matt Elam (knee), cornerbacks Jerraud Powers and Maurice Canady (hamstring), and nose tackle Brandon Williams.

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Twelve Ravens thoughts on preseason win over Indianapolis

Posted on 21 August 2016 by Luke Jones

With the Ravens continuing the preseason with a 19-18 win over Indianapolis, I’ve offered a dozen thoughts, each in 50 words or less:

1. The Ravens didn’t give up any first-half touchdowns, but the starting defense struggling again against the opposing first unit was disappointing as Andrew Luck completed all eight of his passes. The group tightened up in the red zone, but surrendered three long drives and missed too many tackles.

2. The second of those long drives was halted thanks to a forced fumble by Albert McClellan, who continues to make a good case to be Baltimore’s strong-side outside linebacker in early-down situations. He set the edge well and finished with three tackles.

3. John Harbaugh was displeased with 11 penalties for 91 yards, including three defensive pre-snap penalties in the first half that resulted in first downs. When you have a shortage of play-makers, it’s even more critical to play smart and disciplined football, something the Ravens failed to do last year.

4. After a terrible first quarter, the offense came alive with Kamar Aiken drawing a 41-yard pass interference flag and catching a 14-yard touchdown on a beautiful crossing route. I’m interested to see what Aiken’s role looks like with Steve Smith’s return, but he deserves his share of targets.

5. The Ravens re-signed Shareece Wright this offseason to be a starting cornerback and he was solid down the stretch of a lost 2015 season, but he remains shaky in coverage — even against the Colts’ second offense — and is the logical target for opponents to test in this secondary.

6. He has plenty of stickers on his suitcase as a journeyman, but Josh Johnson has performed better than anyone expected and has outplayed Ryan Mallett for much of the summer. Harbaugh acknowledged it now being a competition for the backup job, but I’d still be surprised if Mallett is unseated.

7. It was interesting to see Will Davis play quite a bit at slot cornerback in the nickel, especially after Jerraud Powers struggled for the second straight week. Normally an outside corner, Davis made some plays inside and finished the game with five tackles and a sack.

8. Despite being a versatile backup, center Ryan Jensen had arguably the most embarrassing play of the evening when he was completely pancaked back into running back Kenneth Dixon on a third-and-goal play from the 1-yard line early in the fourth quarter. Not a good look.

9. Rookie edge rusher Matt Judon impressed for the second straight week, collecting another sack and showing a promising combination of strength and quickness. The Grand Valley State product is still raw, but you can see why the Ravens were so happy to land him in the fifth round.

10. Known for his deep-threat ability at Cincinnati, Chris Moore ran crisp routes and showed strong hands in catching three passes for 20 yards after missing the preseason opener with a foot injury. With Breshad Perriman’s Week 1 status remaining in doubt, Moore becomes more interesting in this offense.

11. Credit the NFL last year for adopting the college rule allowing the defense to run back a conversion try for two as Anthony Levine did to win the game. It’s a rare play that might occur only once or twice a year around the league, but what excitement it brings.

12. Sitting Joe Flacco again was probably the right move, but the third preseason game now carries more importance than normal for the Ravens. With so many starters playing so little this summer, it’s hard to get a feel for just how good this team will be in 2016.

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Ravens-Colts preseason primer: Five players to watch

Posted on 19 August 2016 by Luke Jones

The Ravens are moving closer to looking like a complete team.

Saturday’s preseason game against the Indianapolis Colts probably won’t reflect that, but both Terrell Suggs and Steve Smith returned to the practice field this week and are on track to be ready for the season opener against Buffalo on Sept. 11.

After resting a number of healthy veterans against Carolina, head coach John Harbaugh isn’t sharing his plans for playing time on Saturday night. In the past, Harbaugh had played most of his starters into the second quarter of the second preseason game, but the Ravens are merely following a league-wide trend of trying to keep veteran players out of harm’s way as much as possible while maximizing the opportunity to evaluate unknown commodities.

“You want to see the young guys play in game situations when the tackling is live,” said Harbaugh, who acknowledged the artificial surface at Lucas Oil Stadium being one of many factors to consider in determining which veterans will play. “There’s not quite as much practice as there was before — certainly not even close to as much as it was way before. We practice really well, and we see a lot from our guys in practice. The game is a confirmation. Or, sometimes, guys that don’t practice as well play well in games. Sometimes guys practice great and don’t show up in games. That’s something you really need to know.”

Joe Flacco continues to practice every day while only experiencing mild soreness in his surgically-repaired left knee, but Harbaugh may rest his franchise quarterback for a second straight game and wait until next week’s “dress rehearsal” for his first preseason action. Such a timetable would be concerning if not for the fact that Flacco has yet to miss a single rep during training camp.

The 31-year-old hasn’t been in a live pocket since last November, but he sees no need to play extensively in the preseason ahead of his ninth NFL season.

“I’m not worried about it; I’ve played plenty of games,” Flacco said. “I think the biggest reason to get back out there is to get back in live action and see what it feels like again. But it doesn’t really take too long to do that, so whatever we do is going to be for a reason. Whatever happens, happens, and I’m going to be comfortable either way.”

Thursday marks the first time these AFC teams have met in the preseason, but Indianapolis holds an 8-3 edge in regular-season matchups and a 2-1 lead in the postseason. Baltimore has compiled a 21-12 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 Saturday night’s game against Indianapolis.

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 — like Flacco — 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: WR Steve Smith (Achilles), LB Elvis Dumervil (foot), WR Breshad Perriman (knee), RB Lorenzo Taliaferro (foot), DE Bronson Kaufusi (ankle)
DOUBTFUL: LB Terrell Suggs (Achilles), TE Dennis Pitta (finger/hip), WR Chris Matthews (soft tissue injury), CB Kyle Arrington (head), S Kendrick Lewis (undisclosed), TE Maxx Williams (undisclosed)
QUESTIONABLE: G John Urschel (contusion), WR Chris Moore (foot), CB Tavon Young (hamstring), TE Crockett Gillmore (hamstring), WR Michael Campanaro (unspecified strains), CB Maurice Canady (undisclosed), TE Daniel Brown (undisclosed), CB Sheldon Price (undisclosed)
PROBABLE: QB Joe Flacco (knee)

Five players to watch Thursday night

RB Justin Forsett

The performance of Terrance West, Buck Allen, and Kenneth Dixon this summer certainly should have the attention of Forsett, who didn’t play in the preseason opener. I’m not buying any sentiment that the 30-year-old is in danger of being pushed off the roster, but he’ll certainly want to present himself well in what game action he sees between now and the start of the season. He’s still the best pass-blocking tailback on the roster and breaks more tackles than you’d expect with a 5-foot-8, 195-pound frame. The young backs might be closing the gap, but Forsett’s experience is still invaluable to the backfield.

CB Jimmy Smith

It was clear that the No. 1 cornerback wasn’t 100 percent last year coming off foot surgery, but the Ravens need much more from the man in which they invested a huge contract. Smith got off to a quiet start in camp after having the surgical screws removed from his right foot this spring, but he’s looked much better in recent practices. If the Baltimore defense is to return to a high level, the 28-year-old needs to be a Pro Bowl-caliber kind of cornerback as he looked to be before suffering the Lisfranc injury. Seeing him stack some quality live-game reps would be encouraging going into the regular season.

OT Ronnie Stanley

The rookie left tackle played 22 snaps and graded out well against Carolina despite having suffered a minor injury less than a week earlier. The Ravens just want to see him continue that in more extensive action against the Indianapolis front. The best compliment you can pay an offensive lineman is that you don’t notice him that much, a description that fits the first-round pick in his first training camp. The Ravens were impressed with his pedigree coming out of Notre Dame, and he’s done everything so far to make you think he can handle a very demanding position in his first NFL season.

LB Albert McClellan

Not many would have predicted McClellan to be atop the depth chart at the strong-side outside linebacker position, but the Ravens need a replacement for Courtney Upshaw and McClellan is more consistent setting the edge on run plays than second-year linebacker Za’Darius Smith at this point. It’s critical that someone — McClellan, Smith, or even rookie Kamalei Correa — emerges to handle the “Sam” spot in order to allow Elvis Dumervil to return to more of a situational role in 2016. A special-teams standout for a number of years, McClellan has more trust with the coaching staff than many would think.

WR Chris Moore

With Breshad Perriman’s status for the start of the regular season looking in doubt, more attention will fall on the rookie fourth-round pick to be a decent complement to veteran Mike Wallace in the vertical passing game. Moore was arguably the biggest star over the first couple days of camp before a foot injury sidelined him until this week. The Ravens have had other receivers in and out of practice, but Moore has received plenty of second-team reps as well as some work with the first team. It’s not a guarantee that Moore will play so soon after a two-week absence, but his explosiveness is worth watching.

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Sizing up the 2016 Ravens roster before the second preseason game

Posted on 17 August 2016 by Luke Jones

With the preseason opener against Carolina now in the rear-view mirror, it’s time to project 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 45 players are locks if the deadline to trim the roster to 53 took place today. My rough assessment of the 90 players currently on the preseason roster lists 22 players on the bubble. Not all bubble players are on equal footing, with certain positions lacking depth and others enjoying extensive talent.

Though general manager Ozzie Newsome, coach John Harbaugh, and the remainder of the coaching staff and front office are cognizant of keeping a balanced number of players at each position, trying to boldly pinpoint 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 their roster, the Ravens will look carefully at players’ special-teams abilities in addition to what they bring to their respective offensive or defensive positions.

The Ravens must trim the roster from 90 players to 75 on Aug. 30 and will go down to the regular-season number of 53 on Sept. 3.

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. 17.

QUARTERBACKS (4)
LOCK: Joe Flacco, Ryan Mallett
BUBBLE: None
LONG SHOT: Josh Johnson, Jerrod Johnson
Skinny: Mallett hasn’t had a sharp training camp, but he remains entrenched as the backup quarterback with a similar style of play to Flacco. Josh Johnson is having a decent summer, but Flacco not missing a single practice rep to this point speaks to how little the Ravens need a No. 3 quarterback.

RUNNING BACKS & FULLBACKS (7)
LOCK: Justin Forsett, Kyle Juszczyk, Buck Allen, Kenneth Dixon, Terrance West
BUBBLE: Lorenzo Taliaferro
LONG SHOT: Stephen Houston
Skinny: No one has done more to solidify his roster standing this summer than West, who is making a strong push for an extensive role in the Baltimore rushing attack. Taliaferro’s best bet might be to start the year on the physically unable to perform list where the Ravens can reassess his status after Week 6.

WIDE RECEIVERS (12)
LOCK: Steve Smith, Kamar Aiken, Breshad Perriman, Mike Wallace, Chris Moore
BUBBLE: Michael Campanaro, Jeremy Butler, Keenan Reynolds, Chris Matthews
LONG SHOT: Chuck Jacobs, Dobson Collins, Darius White
Skinny: On ability alone, Campanaro would be a lock, but the Ravens would probably hate to lose a solid option like Butler while the former has shown little ability to stay on the field to this point in his career. With Perriman still not practicing, the reserve PUP list becomes a greater possibility.

TIGHT ENDS (7)
LOCK: Benjamin Watson, Crockett Gillmore, Maxx Williams, Dennis Pitta
BUBBLE: None
LONG SHOT: Daniel Brown
SUSPENDED: Nick Boyle, Darren Waller
Skinny: Pitta has missed over two weeks with a finger injury, but he showed in the spring and the early days of camp that he is still good enough to contribute if healthy. Waller has shown potential at his new position and would have made for a difficult decision if not for his pending four-game suspension.

OFFENSIVE LINEMEN (15)
LOCK: Marshal Yanda, Ronnie Stanley, Rick Wagner, Jeremy Zuttah, John Urschel, Alex Lewis
BUBBLE: Ryan Jensen, Vlad Ducasse, De’Ondre Wesley, James Hurst
LONG SHOT: Anthony Fabiano, Matt Skura, Jarell Broxton, Blaine Clausell, Stephane Nembot
Skinny: The Ravens probably wouldn’t mind adding a veteran tackle to back up Stanley and Wagner, but Lewis is considered a future starter and handled left tackle well in the first preseason game. Hurst appears to be the odd man out as he has flipped between tackle and guard all summer.

DEFENSIVE LINEMEN (10)
LOCK: Brandon Williams, Timmy Jernigan, Lawrence Guy, Carl Davis, Willie Henry, Brent Urban
BUBBLE: Kapron Lewis-Moore, Michael Pierce
LONG SHOT: Trevon Coley
INJURED RESERVE: Bronson Kaufusi
Skinny: The Ravens have enough depth to survive the season-ending loss of the third-round rookie Kaufusi, but Urban needs to show more as the primary backup to Guy. There might be one roster spot for Lewis-Moore or Pierce, and the latter is built similarly to Williams at the nose tackle spot.

INSIDE LINEBACKERS (6)
LOCK: C.J. Mosley, Zachary Orr, Kamalei Correa
BUBBLE: Arthur Brown
LONG SHOT: Kavell Conner, Patrick Onwuasor
Skinny: Correa initially looked like he was the early favorite to start next to Mosley, but Orr has seized control of the job over the last week or so. The ability of other players on the roster such as Albert McClellan and Anthony Levine to shift to inside linebacker leaves Brown in serious trouble.

OUTSIDE LINEBACKERS (9)
LOCK: Terrell Suggs, Elvis Dumervil, Za’Darius Smith, Albert McClellan, Matt Judon
BUBBLE: Chris Carter, Victor Ochi
LONG SHOT: Brennen Beyer, Mario Ojemudia
Skinny: Carter excelled against Carolina and can play outside and inside, making him an interesting bubble player. Meanwhile, Ochi, a rookie free agent from Stony Brook, has flashed potential in practices and appears to be a player the Ravens might try to hide and sneak onto the practice squad.

CORNERBACKS (10)
LOCK: Jimmy Smith, Shareece Wright, Jerraud Powers, Tavon Young
BUBBLE: Will Davis, Sheldon Price, Maurice Canady, Kyle Arrington
LONG SHOT: Julian Wilson, Carrington Byndom
Skinny: Davis has looked healthier and quicker over the last couple practices after a slow start to the summer, but depth is again a concern with even Wright and Powers struggling in the preseason opener. Price, Canady, and Arrington have dealt with recent injuries to further cloud the competition.

SAFETIES (6)
LOCK: Eric Weddle, Lardarius Webb
BUBBLE: Anthony Levine, Kendrick Lewis, Terrence Brooks, Matt Elam
LONG SHOT: None
Skinny: This might be the toughest position group to gauge as Lewis is a favorite of the coaches while Elam and Brooks have had solid camp performances. Levine is a very good special-teams player and has worked extensively as a hybrid linebacker this spring and summer.

SPECIALISTS (4)
LOCK: Sam Koch, Morgan Cox, Justin Tucker
BUBBLE: None
LONG SHOT: Wil Lutz
Skinny: There’s still nothing to see here with Lutz merely easing the workload of Tucker and Koch.

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Suggs, Ravens defense dominate in Wednesday’s practice

Posted on 17 August 2016 by Luke Jones

OWINGS MILLS, Md. — Leaping high in the air to snatch a Joe Flacco pass at the line of scrimmage, Terrell Suggs returned the ball the other way before heaving it into a crowd of Ravens fans on Wednesday.

It was one of the highlight plays in all of training camp in what was only the third day of practice for the 33-year-old linebacker. In good shape and increasing his activity level from the first two days of limited work, Suggs looked a lot like the high-impact force he’s been for well over a decade in Baltimore.

“I saw Anthony Levine and said, ‘I guess he’s back,'” said head coach John Harbaugh about the impressive interception. “We heard him before that. It was good to see him make a play like that though.”

Suggs wasn’t the only one to shine on Wednesday as the defense dominated the offense in a fully-padded practice ahead of Saturday’s preseason contest in Indianapolis.

Third-year safety Terrence Brooks intercepted an overthrown Flacco pass during a seven-on-seven period of practice. Ryan Mallett was also victimized by the secondary as cornerback Jerraud Powers picked him off and later broke up another pass from the backup quarterback.

It’s likely no coincidence that the defense has picked up its intensity this week with Suggs back on the field for the first time since tearing his Achilles tendon in Denver just over 11 months ago. Younger players also value his underrated mental preparation and the knowledge he shares when stepping on the field.

“He brings a special kind of energy with him,” defensive tackle Timmy Jernigan said. “He’s definitely one of those guys that’s almost like having another coach on the field with you. When we’re out there together and he sees something, sometimes he’s telling me, ‘The play’s coming to you.’ Before the ball is snapped, it’s easier to make pre-snap reads and things like that with a guy like Suggs beside you.

“He hasn’t told me anything wrong in three years. Every time he has been beside me and said, ‘This is what is about to happen,’ it has happened.”

The Ravens are still dealing with a long list of absences just a few days before their second preseason contest, but Harbaugh confirmed that running back Justin Forsett, offensive linemen Marshal Yanda and Jeremy Zuttah, and wide receiver Michael Campanaro were just given Wednesday’s practice off.

Tight ends Dennis Pitta, Maxx Williams, and Daniel Brown, wide receiver Chris Matthews, guard John Urschel, defensive backs Kendrick Lewis, Kyle Arrington, Sheldon Price, and Sam Brown, and defensive end Bronson Kaufusi were all missing due to various ailments. Wide receivers Steve Smith and Breshad Perriman, linebacker Elvis Dumervil, and running back Lorenzo Taliaferro remain on the physically unable to perform list and did not participate.

However, the Ravens confirmed Wednesday afternoon that Smith has passed his physical and will return to the practice field in the near future, putting him on track to be ready for the start of the season.

Rookie cornerback Tavon Young returned to practice after missing three days of practice with a hamstring injury suffered in the preseason opener.

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Perriman running, but no clear date for practice return

Posted on 16 August 2016 by Luke Jones

OWINGS MILLS, Md. — The start of the 2016 season is less than four weeks away, but the Ravens still don’t know when wide receiver Breshad Perriman will return to practice.

The updates on the 2015 first-round pick have not been as frequent this summer as they were a year ago when he injured his right knee on the first day of training camp, but the organization had hoped he might be ready by now to return from a partially-torn anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee suffered in mid-June. Head coach John Harbaugh said Tuesday that he had no insight regarding the status of the 22-year-old receiver, who remains on the active physically unable to perform list.

“I wish I did. They had talked about this being the time frame — right about now [in] mid-August — when he would be back,” Harbaugh said. “That was the date that I was given back in June. He’s running. He’s on the ground running right now. But I haven’t been told that he’ll be back to practice tomorrow. I’m just like the fans. I’m waiting for him to get back out there. When he’s ready, he’ll be back out there.”

It was initially feared that Perriman’s ACL injury would require season-ending reconstruction surgery, but distinguished surgeon Dr. James Andrews determined that the knee was stable and would not require surgery, instead prescribing a stem-cell injection to accelerate the healing process. It’s been just over two months since Perriman injured his left knee, but some medical sources estimate a period of at least three months to recover from such an injury.

Should Perriman not return by the end of the preseason, the Ravens could place him on the reserve PUP list, which would sideline him for at least the first six weeks of the regular season. Under that scenario, he would not count as part of the 53-man roster to begin the season.

Of course, many remain skeptical regarding Perriman’s status after he suffered a partially-torn posterior cruciate ligament in his right knee on the first day of training camp last year and ultimately missed the entire season because of a slower-than-usual recovery and a setback suffered in late September.

Perriman practiced extensively during organized team activities this spring, but those workouts did not include starting quarterback Joe Flacco, who was recovering from his own knee injury at the time. The two haven’t been able to work on the field together since last year.

“It’s tough for me to really worry about right now just because we have so many other guys that we have to worry about getting better and getting on top of it,” Flacco said. “I haven’t really spent a ton of time with him on the football field — really, just last offseason — so it’d definitely be nice to get him out here at some point.

“At the same time, you can’t bring him back too early if he’s not going to be ready.”

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Sixteen Ravens players remain sidelined for Tuesday’s practice

Posted on 16 August 2016 by Luke Jones

OWINGS MILLS, Md. — Moving closer to their second preseason game against Indianapolis on Saturday, the Ravens continue to be without an extensive list of players in practice.

Sixteen players were absent from the field on Tuesday morning, a list that included wide receiver Chris Matthews (soft tissue), tight ends Dennis Pitta (finger), Daniel Brown, and Maxx Williams, offensive linemen John Urschel and Rick Wagner, defensive backs Kendrick Lewis, Kyle Arrington (head), Sheldon Price, Sam Brown, and Tavon Young (hamstring), and defensive end Bronson Kaufusi (broken ankle). Wide receivers Steve Smith (Achilles tendon) and Breshad Perriman (knee), linebacker Elvis Dumervil (foot), and running back Lorenzo Taliaferro (foot) remain on the active physically unable to perform list.

According to head coach John Harbaugh, Urschel is dealing with a contusion and hasn’t participated in practice since starting at left guard in the preseason opener, but the injury is not a long-term concern. Wagner participated in Monday’s practice without incident, making it likely that he was receiving a veteran day off.

Veteran linebacker Terrell Suggs was present and participating for the second straight day in his return to the field after an 11-month absence from of a torn Achilles tendon.

“A lot of the plan is based on how he feels about it,” Harbaugh said. “Here’s a guy that has played 13 years in the National Football League. He knows what he needs. He did more than he did yesterday, and he’ll do more tomorrow than he did today.”

Wide receiver Chris Moore (foot) was practicing for the first time since July 29. His return is good news after the rookie had turned heads with his play-making ability over the first couple days of training camp.

With Perriman still recovering from a partially-torn anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee, a healthy Moore becomes a more intriguing deep threat to complement veteran Mike Wallace.

“He’s made some plays down the field, but he’s also shown route-running ability and shown willingness to block,” Harbaugh said. “We have to get him back on track. Now we have to get him back out there. He was in individual [drills] today. We have to build on that. He is a rookie. He has a lot of work to do to be ready to do that, but he has potential.”

There were several special visitors at Tuesday’s practice, ranging from former Ravens Rob Burnett and Matt Stover to former New York Giants head coach Tom Coughlin. Former Pro Bowl kicker David Akers was also present and will work with the Baltimore kickers for a few days, according to Harbaugh.

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Suggs is back, but what does he have left for the Ravens?

Posted on 15 August 2016 by Luke Jones

OWINGS MILLS, Md. — Ravens linebacker Terrell Suggs’ comeback from a torn Achilles tendon is much different this time around.

Unlike four years ago when he made a Herculean return in less than six months to help the Ravens win the AFC North and Super Bowl XLVII, the severe injury to his left heel suffered 11 months ago allowed no chance for a return in 2015. The 33-year-old took his time to rehab, disappearing from the public eye aside from a surprise sideline appearance to watch the Ravens beat Pittsburgh last December and the news of a traffic-related arrest in early March.

Having spoken to the media just once since tearing his left Achilles tendon in the 2015 opener, Suggs took the practice field Monday with little ceremony or warning beyond head coach John Harbaugh acknowledging last week that he had been holding the six-time Pro Bowl linebacker back from returning. He didn’t speak to reporters after the workout, instead issuing a statement through the team declaring that “Darth Sizzle” was back.

Appearing to be in good shape and moving well, Suggs participated sparingly in Monday’s practice and was quieter than usual on the sideline as veteran defensive end Lawrence Guy jokingly introduced himself to the “new” player at one point. Suggs did loosen up as the session went on, shimmying to the music blaring through the on-field speakers and later telling defensive teammates that backup quarterback Ryan Mallett was about to throw them an interception.

Taunting a quarterback in the middle of practice? Suggs was officially back.

What his return truly means for the Ravens’ chances in 2016, however, remains to be seen. We just don’t know what kind of player he will be as he enters his 14th season in Baltimore and comes back from his second Achilles injury — this one to the opposite leg — in a four-year period. Even when he returned from the first injury at age 30, Suggs wasn’t really himself again until the following year as he collected only two sacks in eight regular-season games in 2012.

At the conclusion of a nightmare 2015 season in which Suggs was one of 20 players to finish the year on injured reserve, the Ravens’ brass made it clear how much the 2011 AP Defensive Player of the Year was missed. Already entering the season trying to fill the void of free-agent departure Pernell McPhee, the Ravens were forced to use both Elvis Dumervil and Courtney Upshaw in every-down capacities after they had essentially platooned in previous years. Za’Darius Smith was also forced to step into a bigger-than-expected role as a fourth-round rookie.

Baltimore finished tied for 17th in the NFL with 37 sacks after collecting 49 the year before. Without Suggs’ exceptional ability against the run, the defense allowed 4.0 yards per carry for just the second time in franchise history.

“Once we lost [Suggs], it was different in the second half of the season than it was the first half,” defensive coordinator Dean Pees said. “We really totally adapted the scheme the second half of the season because we knew we didn’t have him anymore. Meanwhile, we had already committed to the first half and we tried to adapt, but it wasn’t as good as we wanted it to be.

“Having him in there for a full season would be a great thing.”

Besides Suggs’ obvious football talents, the Ravens missed his energy and leadership as the face of the defense in the post-Ray Lewis era. The talent level and coaching primarily came under fire in a 5-11 season, but the unit sorely lacked the swagger that’s been part of its DNA for the better part of two decades in Baltimore.

The arrival of veteran newcomer Eric Weddle this offseason has brought needed leadership in the secondary, but the Ravens still hadn’t been nearly as boisterous during summer practices without Suggs.

“It is different, especially without ‘Sizz’ keeping everybody with a smile on their face with his sayings and his character coming through,” sixth-year linebacker Albert McClellan said over the weekend. “It is a little different. We haven’t found anybody to act like that.”

The Ravens know what Suggs brings in terms of intangibles and experience, but what kind of production will they get from him in 2016?

Expecting him to be the player that he was in 2014 isn’t a given as Father Time eventually catches up to everyone — even those not coming off serious injuries. Young options such as Smith and 2016 draft picks Kamalei Correa and Matt Judon have flashed promise, but expecting any passing-of-the-torch scenario would be premature at best.

Is Suggs capable of playing just under 80 percent of the Ravens’ defensive snaps at a high level like he did in his last full season? Or, will he be better suited for a situational role as this late stage of his career?

“I think it’s going to depend on the team and what kind of scheme they run, whether it’s a running team, passing team, or if they’re a wide-open team,” Pees said. “The good thing is I think we have some guys that can play and can spell guys. I don’t know if anyone would have to play a 70- or 80-play game. I’m hoping we don’t have to play 80-play games on defense. Time will tell.”

Based on their deficiencies from last year and where younger options are in their development, the Ravens need the “old” Suggs — not an old one — to surface if they’re to be a serious contender in the AFC in 2016.

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Clock ticking on injured Ravens players to see preseason action

Posted on 14 August 2016 by Luke Jones

The 2016 season opener against Buffalo is still four weeks away, but the Ravens practicing without a whopping 23 players raised a few eyebrows on Saturday morning.

Of course, the Ravens were less than two days removed from their first preseason game and most of their current injuries aren’t major concerns, but we’re entering the point in the summer when you wonder if a handful of players in the midst of long-term absences will be back in time to appear in the preseason. This is especially true for the five players still on the active physically unable to perform list: wide receivers Steve Smith and Breshad Perriman, linebackers Terrell Suggs and Elvis Dumervil, and running back Lorenzo Taliaferro.

The clock is ticking.

Head coach John Harbaugh said last week that Suggs was the closest of the players on the PUP list to return to action, but you’d think he would need to begin practicing at some point this week to start getting into football shape if the goal is for the 33-year-old to get some reps in the “dress rehearsal” third preseason game. Saturday marked 11 months since Suggs tore his left Achilles tendon in the 2015 opener in Denver.

Still working his way back to full strength from his own Achilles injury, the 37-year-old Smith appears unlikely to play in the preseason and has expressed little concern about doing so. After undergoing an offseason foot surgery, Dumervil’s status for the preseason also remains unknown despite the Ravens not expressing any worry about his availability for the start of the regular season.

Perriman is the most interesting case after he suffered a partially-torn anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee in June. Renowned orthopedic surgeon Dr. James Andrews determined at the time that he would not need season-ending ACL reconstruction surgery, but the 2015 first-round pick has practiced so little over the last calendar year and wasn’t able to work with Joe Flacco this spring as the starting quarterback was still rehabbing his surgically-repaired left knee.

Considering he is essentially a rookie without even as much as a complete full-squad practice under his belt in the NFL, the Ravens would like to see Perriman get his feet wet in the preseason in a perfect world — one that assumes his knee is healthy. And if he’s to get some game time with Flacco this summer, the third preseason game would have to be the target with starters likely to sit out the summer finale.

It will be interesting to see how the Ravens handle Taliaferro with four other running backs clearly ahead of him on the depth chart. It might make sense to take advantage of his status by having the 2014 fourth-round pick begin the regular season on the reserve PUP list, which means he would not take a spot on the 53-man roster. Under that scenario, Taliaferro wouldn’t be eligible to be activated until Week 7, but perhaps there would be more clarity at the running back position in terms of both established roles and health at that point.

As for players not on the PUP list who are dealing with injuries, wide receiver Chris Moore (foot) hasn’t practiced since late July and is missing valuable practice time after turning some heads over the first couple days of training camp.

Arguably the most disappointing injury to come out of Thursday’s game was to cornerback Tavon Young, who hurt his left hamstring in the fourth quarter. Harbaugh did not offer a timetable for his return, but the rookie has had a strong summer and was pushing veterans Jerraud Powers and Kyle Arrington, who both struggled at the nickel spot against Carolina. Arrington missed practice on Saturday after being evaluated for a concussion in the second half of the preseason opener.

Other players absent on Saturday included wide receivers Chris Matthews and Michael Campanaro, safeties Kendrick Lewis and Anthony Levine, cornerbacks Sheldon Price and Maurice Canady, linebacker Chris Carter, guard John Urschel, tight ends Crockett Gillmore, Daniel Brown, Maxx Williams, and Dennis Pitta, and defensive linemen Brandon Williams, Carl Davis, and Bronson Kaufusi.

Wide receiver and return specialist Kaelin Clay left Saturday’s practice with a foot issue, according to Harbaugh.

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Young Ravens flash some potential in mundane preseason opener

Posted on 12 August 2016 by Luke Jones

BALTIMORE — With so many key veterans not even suited up, there wasn’t much to take away from the Ravens’ 22-19 win over Carolina to begin the preseason.

There was some good, some bad, and plenty of “meh” over the course of the night, which is what you expect in the first preseason game when starters might not make as much as a cameo appearance. But head coach John Harbaugh made it clear earlier in the week that he wanted to see something from his younger players after a 5-11 season in which nine different losses were decided by one possession.

He was looking for some game-changing plays.

“You just don’t know until you see something happen,” Harbaugh said. “Now [that] we have this game behind us, we can watch the tape and have a sense of, ‘OK, this is kind of our beginning, this is where we start.’ Some of these young guys, we drafted them for a reason, and I think they showed up tonight. But they have to keep getting better if they’re going to win games in the National Football League against top-flight guys.”

A few players flashed that ability despite the Ravens having just one play of 20 or more yards, a 29-yard completion from No. 3 quarterback Josh Johnson to tight end Nick Boyle in the third quarter.

Starting at rush linebacker in place of Terrell Suggs, Za’Darius Smith provided the first game-changing play of the night when he blew past reserve tackle Daryl Williams to sack and strip Panthers backup quarterback Derek Anderson, allowing defensive tackle Carl Davis to recover the fumble deep in Carolina territory. The Ravens offense would give the ball right back to Carolina a few plays later, but creating turnovers has been a bigger point of emphasis than normal this year after the defense had just 14 takeaways in 2015, the lowest single-season total in franchise history.

With Suggs and Elvis Dumervil each on the wrong side of 30, Smith developing into an impact pass rusher would go a long way in helping the Baltimore defense. It was also encouraging to see draft picks Matt Judon and Willie Henry be disruptive in their first preseason action.

On the offensive side of the ball, a trio of young running backs showcased their potential with Terrance West rushing for two touchdowns, Buck Allen catching a 19-yard score, and lightning-quick rookie Kenneth Dixon carrying nine times for 44 yards and picking up the longest run of the night, a 19-yard sprint behind superb blocks from John Urschel and Vlad Ducasse. West’s 25 yards on nine carries didn’t look like much on paper, but the jump cut he displayed to move the chains on a third-and-2 run in the first quarter and his acceleration while changing direction on a 2-yard touchdown in the third quarter reinforced the improvement he’s shown in practices this summer.

Those offerings were probably enough to make starter Justin Forsett eager to get back on the field after he was among the veterans to receive the night off on Thursday. With the Ravens coming off the most disappointing season of the Harbaugh era, that kind of competition is a good thing.

“I’m just trying to win [over] every guy in that building and show the Ravens [organization] that they can count on me,” West said. “Accountability. I am just trying to come out here and work hard and show these guys that they can depend on me.”

Of course, there was much not to like on Thursday, ranging from the lackluster performance of the secondary to shaky special teams. Veterans Jerraud Powers and Kyle Arrington did nothing to quell concerns about the nickel cornerback job while Kaelin Clay’s muffed punt reflected how unimpressive the return specialist competition has been.

The Ravens remain a work in progress, but a team needing some young players to step forward saw a few flashes of promise in an otherwise mundane preseason game.

“Those are the plays that win you games, the game-changing-type plays,” said safety Eric Weddle of Smith’s strip sack in the opening quarter. “You can watch the film. There’s 60, 70 snaps, [and] there will be four or five plays. You either make them and you win the game or you don’t and the other team does and they win. We want to be on the right side of that and win a bunch of games.”

After being on the wrong side all last year, Baltimore is hoping to flip the script in 2016.

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