Tag Archive | "John Harbaugh"

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Kansas City’s turnaround reflects bizarro season for Ravens

Posted on 18 December 2015 by Luke Jones

It wasn’t long ago that the red-hot Kansas City Chiefs were in the same spot as the Ravens.

Having completed a stretch of four of their first six on the road and lost star running back Jamaal Charles to a season-ending knee injury a week earlier, Andy Reid’s team was 1-5 after a 16-10 loss at Minnesota on Oct. 18. It was the same day Baltimore fell to San Francisco to drop to 1-5, the worst start in the 20-year history of the Ravens.

Two months later, Kansas City is in the midst of a seven-game winning streak and is in line to become the first NFL team since the 1970 Cincinnati Bengals to rebound from a 1-5 start to make the playoffs. Meanwhile, the Ravens need to win one more game just to avoid tying the worst record in team history.

It’s only fitting that the Ravens meet a bizarro version of themselves in this difficult 2015 season.

“We’re playing the hottest team in football coming in here, coached by a great coach,” head coach John Harbaugh said. “They have a bunch of great players. They’re plus-12 [in] turnovers. I don’t think they ever turn the ball over. They’re doing the things they need to do to win football games. They’re doing what we hoped to do after a slow start.”

When 12 of your 13 games have been decided by a single possession like the Ravens have experienced this season, you need to be good at protecting the football and limiting your opponents’ scoring chances to win those tight contests. Of course, 4-9 Baltimore hasn’t done that in ranking 31st in turnover ratio (minus-12), 30th in takeaways (11), and 24th in giveaways (23).

Kansas City ranks second in the league in turnover ratio in addition to having a top 10 defense and rushing attack.

The Chiefs are everything the Ravens want to be right now.

“Giving them away and not taking them away. That has been the story that has not helped us and [has] helped other teams,” cornerback Jimmy Smith said. “If I can pinpoint something, I would say defensively, it’s turnovers and big plays. That’s a huge part — interceptions and fumbles and forced fumbles, turnovers in general, being a stingy defense, taking that ball away.

“Giving our offense more opportunities [and] cutting other offenses’ opportunities short. That would have gone a long way this season for us.”

If it weren’t enough to look around the league and see Michael Oher starting at left tackle for the undefeated Carolina Panthers and Tyrod Taylor shining in Buffalo — two players often maligned to varying degrees by Ravens fans — Thursday may have brought an even better example of this bizarre world. Heavily criticized as a third-round bust in his four years with the Ravens, Jah Reid signed a three-year extension with the Chiefs on Thursday as he’s held down the starting right tackle job.

Strange times, indeed.

High school reunion

Sunday will be a proud day for Colton High School in California as not only will Ravens cornerbacks and high school teammates Jimmy Smith and Shareece Wright play their ninth game together, but they’ll look to the opposing sideline and see another familiar face from those days — Chiefs safety Daniel Sorensen.

“It’s pretty cool. Danny Sorensen, he was a young kid when I was at Colton — me and Shareece,” Smith said. “He was our safety. He comes from a long line of talented football players. His brother, actually, is Brad Sorensen, who was my high school quarterback, and he was the backup for San Diego a few weeks ago [when we played]. It’s kind of a cool thing.”

Daniel Sorensen was signed by Kansas City as a rookie free agent out of Brigham Young last year.

Pitta named Ed Block winner

After suffering two serious right hip injuries in a 14-month period, tight end Dennis Pitta was named the Ravens’ recipient of the Ed Block Courage Award this season.

The 30-year-old returned to the practice field in late October, but he was not cleared to return to live-game action and has remained on the physically unable to perform list. While his football future remains in doubt, Pitta has continued to serve as a mentor and an additional coach to a young group of tight ends throughout the 2015 season.

Thursday’s injury report

BALTIMORE
DID NOT PARTICIPATE: CB Kyle Arrington (back), WR Marlon Brown (back), TE Crockett Gillmore (back), Albert McClellan (ankle), LB Daryl Smith (non-injury), G Marshal Yanda (ankle)
LIMITED PARTICIPATION: RB Terrance West (calf)
FULL PARTICIPATION: LB Elvis Dumervil (non-injury), G Kelechi Osemele (knee), QB Matt Schaub (chest)

KANSAS CITY
DID NOT PARTICIPATE: S Husain Abdullah (concussion), LB Justin Houston (knee), WR De’Anthony Thomas (concussion), RB Spencer Ware (rib)
LIMITED PARTICIPATION: OL Jeff Allen (ankle)
FULL PARTICIPATION: DE Mike DeVito (concussion/shoulder), LB Tamba Hali (knee), TE Travis Kelce (groin/quad)

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Mallett thinks being cut by Houston best thing for him

Posted on 16 December 2015 by Luke Jones

OWINGS MILLS, Md. — New Ravens quarterback Ryan Mallett described being cut by the Houston Texans as “humble pie” that he “digested real quickly” in late October.

Without delving into the specifics of how he addressed the concerns about his maturity and commitment to football, Mallett is looking forward to another chance with a new team.

“I’ve grown up a lot. I acted immaturely at some games in Houston,” Mallett said. “There were reasons for it. But that’s not going to be discussed right now. Just growing up and going through the process, the best thing probably was for me to be cut. I’ve learned a lot from it.”

Head coach John Harbaugh has left the door open for Mallett to see playing time before the end of the 2015 season, but the Ravens signed him with an eye toward the future as he could make up to $2.5 million next season, according to NFL Network. Known for his strong arm and 6-foot-6 frame, Mallett would have a chance to be Baltimore’s backup quarterback to Joe Flacco, who will spend the offseason rehabbing his surgically-repaired knee and hopes to be ready for the start of training camp.

First, Mallett must prove the issues that led to his downfall with the Texans are behind him as he was cut in late October after missing a team flight to Miami. The 27-year-old had previously been late for meetings and practices as he eventually wore out his welcome with second-year head coach Bill O’Brien, who elected to go with Brian Hoyer as his starting quarterback after Mallett started four games early in the season.

Ravens head coach John Harbaugh said Mallett will be given the chance to prove that he belongs.

“When you get a couple strikes against you, it certainly brings it into sharp focus,” Harbaugh said. “He has an opportunity here. I don’t know if he deserves — I don’t think anybody ‘deserves’ — but a better word would be he has an opportunity to make the best of it. He’s determined to do that, and what he makes of it, really, in the end, is up to him.”

According to ESPN, Mallett has received professional help for his personal issues, which prompted the Ravens to sign him after working him out earlier this month. Previous concerns in college led to him falling to the third round of the 2011 draft before New England selected him to be Tom Brady’s backup.

After once being thought of as a big-time NFL prospect, Mallett says he’s taken his struggles on and off the field in stride. Describing the process of getting acclimated with the Ravens as “minute by minute,” the University of Arkansas product is relishing the opportunity to move on from his embarrassing exit in Houston.

“I’m not disappointed. I’m still in the NFL,” Mallett said. “I’m still living the dream. To me, I don’t know if you would call it a disappointment. It’s been a tough road but it’s part of life.”

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Gillmore could be next Ravens player to go to injured reserve

Posted on 16 December 2015 by Luke Jones

OWINGS MILLS, Md. — One of the few offensive bright spots for the Ravens in 2015 has been the development of Crockett Gillmore, but the second-year tight end could be the latest player to move to injured reserve.

Still dealing with a back issue that surfaced during the Week 13 loss to Miami, Gillmore will not play in Sunday’s game against the Kansas City Chiefs, according to head coach John Harbaugh.

“It’s not working out. His back flared up again,” Harbaugh said. “He’s also got the shoulder [issue]. It’s not looking good for Crockett right now.”

Currently fourth on the team in receptions (33) and third in receiving yards (412), Gillmore missed two games earlier in the season with a calf injury and has been banged up in recent weeks. The Ravens are hurting at the tight end position with Gillmore injured and rookie Nick Boyle being suspended four games for violating the NFL’s performance-enhancing substance policy.

Harbaugh indicated that Gillmore could be placed on IR where 18 players currently reside, and that’s not even counting veteran tight end Dennis Pitta, who has spent the entire season on the reserve physically unable to perform list.

“Potentially. We’ll see,” Harbaugh said. “Maybe he’ll come back tomorrow and I’ll hear, ‘Crockett’s feeling great, and he’ll be out there Sunday.’ I’m just being more honest than I usually am, probably, with an injury. Maybe I’m as frustrated as everybody, I guess, right now.

“I’m sure [Chiefs head coach Andy Reid] is appreciative of that, too.”

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Ravens continue chasing ghost at left tackle position

Posted on 15 December 2015 by Luke Jones

Ravens general manager Ozzie Newsome has used high draft picks, made trades, and even handed out long-term contracts, but the same pursuit continues beyond a stopgap or two.

He’s still chasing the on-field ghost of Jonathan Ogden, the Hall of Fame left tackle and the first player selected in the history of the franchise with the fourth pick of the 1996 draft. With every passing year, appreciation grows deeper for what Ogden did for more than a decade as they complete their eighth season since his retirement at the end of the 2007 campaign.

Finding a future Hall of Famer at the position is one thing, but Newsome and the Ravens would settle for a guy who they can pencil into the lineup for the next four or five years and be able to sleep well at night.

Not counting backups filling in due to injuries, there’s been Jared Gaither, Michael Oher, Bryant McKinnie, and Eugene Monroe, none holding down the position for more than a season or two before concerns resurface. Fourth-year left guard Kelechi Osemele has become the latest man to receive a shot as he started his first NFL game at left tackle in Sunday’s loss to Seattle.

Scheduled to become an unrestricted free agent at the end of the season, Osemele will remain at left tackle for the final three games of 2015, according to head coach John Harbaugh.

“I thought he looked good. There are some things that he can do better,” Harbaugh said. “Sometimes the sets and the angles and the timing the movement, sometimes it’s something that he’ll get a feel for more and more as he plays. But he had lots of good blocks [in] pass protection and the run game. I thought he was a bright spot.”

A left tackle at Iowa State before being selected in the second round of the 2012 draft, Osemele expressed his enjoyment for the position after Sunday’s 35-6 loss, but the Ravens may only be enhancing the lineman’s value on the open market instead of finding a long-term solution for themselves. With a less-than-enviable salary cap situation going into the offseason, Newsome signed four-time Pro Bowl right guard Marshal Yanda to a four-year extension earlier this fall, leading many to believe that Osemele will receive a big payday elsewhere.

Even if the above-average guard looks the part of a long-term left tackle over these final three games, there’s still the matter of what the Ravens will do with Monroe, who is only in the second season of a five-year, $37.5 million contract that clearly hasn’t worked out. Placed on injured reserve with a shoulder injury over the weekend, Monroe has started just 17 games over the last two seasons and finished only three of the six contests he started this season.

Though he’s generally been solid when he’s played over the last two years, his performance still hasn’t been as strong as it was in 2013 when the Ravens traded fourth- and fifth-round draft picks to Jacksonville to acquire him in early October of that season. After concluding that Oher, their 2009 first-round pick, wasn’t suited for the blind side and having concerns about McKinnie’s commitment to the game, the Ravens felt Monroe would finally be the long-term answer they had sought from the time that Ogden retired.

After missing only four games in his first five seasons in the NFL, Monroe has missed 17 starts in the last two years, including two playoff games last season. After he left the Nov. 22 game against St. Louis with a shoulder injury, backup James Hurt rolled into quarterback Joe Flacco’s left knee, causing a season-ending injury.

In addition to Monroe reportedly refusing a simple contract restructuring that would have provided some salary-cap relief this past offseason, his inability to stay on the field at such an important position has frustrated the organization.

“It’s just disappointing, because here’s a guy that you’re counting on, we trade two picks for him, and he has played well,” Harbaugh said. “As he said, he was playing the best football of his career this year when he came back for two or three weeks or whenever he was back. I think that was the most crushing thing for him, because he felt like he was really playing really good football.

“It’s not what we hoped for. We hoped that he’d be in the lineup and playing, and that’s not what he hoped for [either]. Nobody works harder. This guy trains like you can’t believe, so it’s a tough deal.”

Many fans are clamoring for Monroe to be released in the offseason as he is scheduled to make $6.5 million in base salary and carry an $8.7 million figure for 2016. Cutting him with a pre-June 1 designation would save $2.1 million in cap space while leaving $6.6 million in dead money, a sizable chunk considering the many weaknesses Baltimore will need to address on both sides of the ball before next season. A post June-1 designation would push most of that dead money to 2017, but the Ravens would not be able to take advantage of that cap space until most free-agent activity would long be over.

Even if Newsome and the Ravens elect to move on from Monroe, it remains unclear whether Osemele would be within their price range, making it possible that they could turn to the draft to find their answer. Currently set to pick in the top five of April’s draft, the Ravens may find Laremy Tunsil of Ole Miss or Notre Dame’s Ronnie Stanley as attractive — and more affordable — options at left tackle with their first pick.

Regardless of what happens over the next few months, the Ravens find themselves back in an all-too-familiar position.

They’re still trying to replace No. 75.

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Ravens quarterback situation remains cloudy entering Week 15

Posted on 14 December 2015 by Luke Jones

OWINGS MILLS, Md. — Is a quarterback controversy brewing for a 4-9 football team?

Or at least something like as the Ravens play out the string.

Following Jimmy Clausen’s better-than-anticipated start — albeit one that did not include a touchdown for the Ravens in a 35-6 loss to Seattle — head coach John Harbaugh expressed optimism that veteran Matt Schaub would be able to return to play against Kansas City on Sunday. However, the eighth-year coach then indicated that Clausen may continue as the starting quarterback for Week 15.

“If he’s at 100 percent, and he’s ready to go — or close to it — and you feel like he can go out there and win for us, then he will play,” said Harbaugh about the 34-year-old Schaub, who threw three touchdowns and four interceptions in two starts filling in for the injured Joe Flacco. “If we feel like it’s a better option to go with Jimmy, then we’ll do that. Jimmy played well. Jimmy didn’t do anything to hurt his chances of playing next week, so I feel like we have two good options there.”

Claimed off waivers from the Chicago Bears three weeks ago, Clausen completed 23 of 40 passes for a career-high 274 yards while throwing one interception against a Seattle pass defense that entered Week 14 ranked fourth in the NFL. The 2010 second-round pick of the Carolina Panthers lacks Schaub’s track record, but the Ravens may view Clausen as having more upside as the backup to Flacco in 2016.

Whoever is serving as the No. 2 quarterback next year will need to work as the starter for spring organized team activities and perhaps even the start of training camp as Flacco rehabilitates a surgically-repaired left knee. That’s why the Ravens might be evaluating the current quarterback picture with more scrutiny than usual for a team that was officially eliminated from postseason contention in Week 14.

According to an ESPN report on Monday, the Ravens were set to sign former Houston Texans quarterback Ryan Mallett, but Harbaugh wasn’t ready to make it official during his Monday press conference. Mallett made six starts for Houston over the last two seasons, but inconsistent play as well as questions about his dedication led to him being cut earlier this season.

“No, I can’t confirm it. I haven’t been informed of that [signing],” Harbaugh said. “We worked him out a couple weeks ago. He had a good workout, and he had some personal things that he had to work through. If that happens in the near future, that’d be great. If it doesn’t happen, it doesn’t happen. But that’s nothing I’ve been told that we’ve done, to date.”

Baltimore currently has three quarterbacks on its 53-man roster after promoting practice-squad member Bryn Renner over the weekend to serve as Clausen’s backup against the Seahawks. Schaub was deactivated after being listed as questionable to play with a chest ailment on last week’s injury report.

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Canty becomes latest Ravens player going to injured reserve

Posted on 14 December 2015 by Luke Jones

OWINGS MILLS, Md. — Veteran defensive end Chris Canty will become the latest Ravens player to land on injured reserve after suffering a torn pectoral muscle in Sunday’s loss to Seattle.

Canty underwent a magnetic resonance imaging exam before head coach John Harbaugh announced the news at his Monday press conference. The 33-year-old missed four games earlier this season with a calf injury and had collected 19 tackles and one sack in nine games.

After being cut early in the offseason, Canty was re-signed to a two-year, $4.65 million contract in mid-March. After trading five-time Pro Bowl defensive tackle Haloti Ngata to the Detroit Lions, the Ravens believed Canty’s experience and leadership would help a young defensive line entering 2015.

“I’m so glad that we were able to bring Chris Canty back this year,” Harbaugh said. “He’s played really great football, but more than that, he’s been a tremendous leader. He’s been a stand-up guy. He’s led the way with a bunch of young guys on defense, especially with the young front-seven guys. I have nothing but the utmost respect for Chris Canty and what he’s done for us this year.”

Though under contract for another season, Canty carries a $2.915 million salary cap figure for 2016, meaning the Ravens could part ways with the 11th-year veteran to save $2.15 million in cap space. The University of Virginia product recently told WNST.net that he wants to continue playing next season despite pondering retirement at the end of last season.

With fifth-year defensive end Lawrence Guy playing effectively in three starts earlier this season and 2014 fourth-round pick Brent Urban finally healthy, the Ravens would appear to be in good shape at the 5-technique defensive end position if they decide to release Canty this winter.

When the Canty roster move becomes official, the Ravens will have 18 players on IR, which does not include tight end Dennis Pitta spending the entire year on the reserve physically unable to perform list.

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Nothing surprising about Ravens in blowout defeat

Posted on 13 December 2015 by Luke Jones

BALTIMORE — The most depressing part of the Ravens’ 35-6 loss to Seattle on Sunday was it not being surprising.

Maybe quarterback Jimmy Clausen played a little better than most predicted. And after showing improvement against a list of underwhelming offenses in recent weeks, the Baltimore defense didn’t perform as well as expected — or at least hoped — by fans.

But was there anything else all that unexpected about the injury-ravaged Ravens being blown out by the two-time defending NFC champion and red-hot Seahawks?

Everything felt off at M&T Bank Stadium on Sunday, a venue that’s hosted so many meaningful December games over the last 16 years. Not only was the contest originally scheduled to be a nationally-televised Sunday night game, but it kicked off a three-game homestand, the kind of scheduling the Ravens would typically embrace when in the midst of the playoff race.

Instead, the seating bowl was virtually empty in the fourth quarter after Russell Wilson threw his fifth touchdown pass of the game and third to Doug Baldwin.

“It was bad. [The pass defense] has to be better than that,” said head coach John Harbaugh, who unsurprisingly labeled Sunday’s performance the “worst” of the season. “It’s no individual guy’s fault; it’s just not as good as it needs to be. I’ll take responsibility for that. We have to play way, way better pass defense.”

In addition to Clausen becoming the first quarterback not named Joe Flacco to start a home game for the Ravens since Dec. 30, 2007, just four of the 14 offensive skill position players — quarterbacks, running backs, wide receivers, and tight ends — active for Sunday were even on the 53-man roster at the start of October. After Eugene Monroe was placed on injured reserve a day earlier, guard Kelechi Osemele made his first NFL start at left tackle.

Perhaps the best reflection of just how depleted the roster is, right guard Marshal Yanda was the last player out of the tunnel as the Ravens introduced the starting offense before the game. Taking nothing away from the four-time Pro Bowl selection and one of the best players in franchise history, but an offensive lineman being the last player announced doesn’t exactly energize a crowd already struggling through a miserable season.

Where have you gone Ray Lewis and Terrell Suggs — or even Joe Flacco and Steve Smith?

At least the weather was beautiful for a mid-December day?

It was the worst home loss since 2013 when New England handed the Ravens a 41-7 defeat in Week 16. Their six points were their lowest output since a 20-3 loss at Indianapolis in the 2009 postseason, and it was the first time Baltimore failed to score a touchdown in a game since Justin Tucker kicked six field goals in a win at Detroit on Dec. 16, 2013. The Ravens’ 28 rushing yards were the second-lowest total under Harbaugh.

But what did you really expect with a quarterback claimed off waivers less than three weeks ago leading an injury-depleted unit against one of the best defenses in the NFL?

Clausen wasn’t the one who gave up five touchdown passes on Sunday.

The Ravens ended all discussion about the defense making recent progress as they failed to record a sack for the first time since Week 16 of last year. At least they aren’t alone in falling victim to Wilson recently as the fourth-year quarterback has thrown a whopping 16 touchdowns without an interception in his last four games.

But beyond the season-ending injury to Terrell Suggs in the opener, the Baltimore defense can’t use injuries as an excuse in the same way that the opposite side of the ball can. It’s clear the unit needs an infusion of talent to bolster the pass rush and secondary this offseason.

“We already know how tough it is. I’m not going to stand here and make excuses,” cornerback Jimmy Smith said. “We know what the situation is. We know what we came from. We know what we don’t have. Playing in games against teams that are fighting to make the playoffs is going to be even tougher on us. Obviously, you saw that today.”

Officially eliminated from playoff contention and having clinched the first losing season of the Harbaugh era, the Ravens will now compete in their first games since 2007 knowing they have nothing to play for beyond pride. It isn’t about accountability at this point — that will come after the season — as we know what’s been wrong with this football team for three months, with injuries only turning problems into full-blown crises in recent weeks.

No, Sunday didn’t bring frustration as much as resignation for the Ravens — and their fans — against a strong football team, something they pride themselves in being most seasons. But certainly not this one as Seattle showed the Ravens just how far away they are from being a playoff-caliber team at the moment.

There will be plenty of time for discussion about which players and coaches will or won’t return in 2016.

But the final three games are just about survival while taking a peek at young players for the future.

Though Sunday was the first time all year that the Ravens have lost by more than one score, the lopsided defeat wasn’t remotely surprising.

It made for a sobering day at a place not used to such misery.

And feelings don’t figure to get much better before this season mercifully comes to an end in three weeks.

“It’s a test of our pride, and it’s a test for us as men,” linebacker C.J. Mosley said. “We have to care for one another, and we have to always do for each other. These aren’t the results that we want, and it’s not our time for this season, but that doesn’t mean we don’t have [anything] to play for.”

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Schaub questionable, Gillmore doubtful for Seattle game

Posted on 11 December 2015 by Luke Jones

OWINGS MILLS, Md. — John Harbaugh wasn’t tipping his hand about his quarterback situation on Friday, but the Ravens coach doesn’t think Seattle is waiting with bated breath over who will be under center, either.

After missing his third straight practice with what’s been listed as a chest injury, Matt Schaub was officially designated as questionable for Sunday’s game. Should Schaub not be able to play, sixth-year quarterback Jimmy Clausen would make his first start for the Ravens after being claimed off waivers from Chicago on Nov. 24.

“I don’t think it matters to the Seahawks. They don’t care,” Harbaugh said. “They’re going to play against our offense. That’s what they’re getting ready for. That’s not going to matter to them. But we really don’t know yet.”

According to Harbaugh, Schaub worked out on his own on Thursday while Clausen continued to receive the starting reps in practice with the newly-signed quarterback Bryn Renner working behind him. After expressing optimism on Wednesday regarding his status, Schaub declined an interview request in the locker room following Friday’s practice.

Offensive coordinator Marc Trestman has constructed a menu of plays for Clausen as he continues to get up to speed with the Baltimore offense in a short period of time. He said he’s feeling more comfortable working with center John Urschel and starting receivers Kamar Aiken and Chris Givens after he did not receive first-team reps in his previous two weeks with Baltimore.

Schaub has prepared to play from a mental standpoint while resting a body that was battered in last Sunday’s loss to Miami.

“There’s no sense in putting him out here in practice where he can get banged and bumped around,” Harbaugh said. “But if he can go, he will. If it’s best for our team for Jimmy to go, then that’s the way we’ll do it there.”

Should Clausen start against the Seahawks, he would come the sixth quarterback in NFL history to start two games against the same opponent in a season while playing for two different teams. The 2010 second-round pick from Notre Dame can only hope the results are better this time around after the Bears were shut out in a 26-0 final in Week 3.

“It’s crazy to think of it,” said Clausen was asked about potentially making history. “I’ve seen crazier things happen to me and to other guys in the league before, so we’ll see what happens.”

Starting tight end Crockett Gillmore (back) and wide receiver Marlon Brown (back) were both listed as doubtful after missing practice all week. Rookie tight end Maxx Williams has been fully cleared from the concussion protocol and is probable to play against the Seahawks. He would be in line to start with Gillmore likely out and fellow rookie Nick Boyle suspended for the rest of the season.

To no surprise, the Ravens officially ruled out left tackle Eugene Monroe, who will miss his third straight game with a shoulder injury and has started just six games all season.

In the second season of a five-year, $37.5 million contract, Monroe has started and finished just three games in 2015. Harbaugh hinted at the possibility of the 28-year-old being placed on season-ending injured reserve, but nothing had been made official as of Friday afternoon.

That resolution could mean the end of Monroe’s time in Baltimore as he simply hasn’t been reliable over the last two seasons at one of the most important positions on the field.

“He’s not going to play this week,” Harbaugh said. “Any other announcements beyond that, season-wise, a decision has been made, but I don’t think it’s really for me to announce it at this time. We’ll let Eugene or Ozzie [Newsome] announce what the plans are with that.”

Cornerback Jimmy Smith was added to the injury report as a limited participant in Friday’s practice because of a knee issue, but he was designated as probable to play. Nose tackle Brandon Williams (shoulder) and right tackle Rick Wagner (ankle) were also probable after missing practice on Wednesday and being limited the rest of the week.

Meanwhile, Seattle officially ruled out defensive end Demarcus Dobbs (concussion) and declared defensive tackle Jordan Hill (toe) as doubtful to play. Running back Marshawn Lynch (abdomen) was already ruled out for Sunday’s game earlier in the week.

The referee for Sunday’s game is Walt Coleman.

According to Weather.com, the forecast for Sunday calls for mostly cloudy skies with temperatures in the high 60s and winds up to four miles per hour.

Below is the final injury report of the week:

BALTIMORE
OUT: OT Eugene Monroe (shoulder)
DOUBTFUL: WR Marlon Brown (back), TE Crockett Gillmore (back)
QUESTIONABLE: QB Matt Schaub (chest)
PROBABLE: DE Chris Canty (non-injury), LB Elvis Dumervil (non-injury), LB Daryl Smith (non-injury), CB Jimmy Smith (knee), OT Rick Wagner (ankle), DT Brandon Williams (shoulder), TE Maxx Williams (concussion)

SEATTLE
OUT: DE Demarcus Dobbs (concussion), RB Marshawn Lynch (abdomen)
DOUBTFUL: DT Jordan Hill (toe)
PROBABLE: DE Cliff Avril (non-injury), DE Michael Bennett (non-injury)

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Ravens making contingency plans at quarterback for Seattle

Posted on 09 December 2015 by Luke Jones

OWINGS MILLS, Md. — John Harbaugh was coy when initially asked about the health of Ravens quarterback Matt Schaub on Wednesday.

The head coach was addressing reporters after a morning walk-through the 34-year-old quarterback attended. In addition to slamming his head on the ground in the second quarter of Sunday’s loss to Miami, Schaub was also dealing with shoulder and knee soreness as the Ravens fell to 4-8 on the season.

“He’s doing good. He’s banged up a little bit, and he’s sore,” said Harbaugh while smiling. “He’s doing good. He’s doing well. Great guy — smile on his face. You saw him right out here.”

Harbaugh has expressed optimism that Schaub will be able to play in Sunday’s meeting with the Seattle Seahawks, but the head coach has left open the possibility of backup Jimmy Clausen playing in Week 14. Claimed off waivers from Chicago on Nov. 24, Clausen started in place of Bears quarterback Jay Cutler at Seattle on Sept. 27 and went 9-for-17 for 63 yards in a 26-0 loss.

Already decimated by injuries at wide receiver and tight end, the Ravens will be facing the NFL’s fourth-ranked pass defense. Seattle ranks 11th in the league in sacks, but Baltimore already lost starting center Jeremy Zuttah for the season last month and is waiting on the status of left tackle Eugene Monroe, who has missed the last two games with a lingering shoulder injury.

That doesn’t sound like a promising recipe for a banged-up Schaub.

“I usually don’t rate it, but it’s going to be, probably, just a tolerance issue and how well he moves around and stuff,” Harbaugh said. “We’re not going to practice him too much early in the week. It’s good to get Jimmy the reps anyway. Jimmy needs the reps more than Matt does. But if Matt can go, he will.

“Matt’s tough — he showed that in the game. He’s tough as nails. I wouldn’t be shocked if we see him play. Maybe we’ll play them both. We’ll just see how it goes.”

The Ravens are making contingency plans in case Schaub cannot play as they signed quarterback Bryn Renner to the practice squad. The 25-year-old represented the best available option to be ready to serve as a backup on short notice if Clausen is forced into starting action.

Renner spent the entire spring and preseason with the Ravens and began the year on the practice squad before being released in mid-September. The University of North Carolina product completed 43 of 65 passes for 409 yards, four touchdowns, and two interceptions in the 2015 preseason.

“Bryn knows the offense, and he’s talented and he’s conscientious,” Harbaugh said. “It seemed like a good fit for us in the situation that we’re in right now. It’s not a guy who we have to bring in and teach, and he’s got talent. We’re very fortunate that he was still available.”

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Pondering Ravens left tackle, 2015 draft class, quarterback, more

Posted on 08 December 2015 by Luke Jones

It wasn’t long ago that left tackle Eugene Monroe was emerging as one of the Ravens’ best players.

General manager Ozzie Newsome and the organization certainly thought so after they acquired the former Jacksonville Jaguar for fourth- and fifth-round picks just over two years ago. His strong play in 11 games in 2013 prompted the Ravens to sign Monroe to a five-year, $37.5 million contract that included $17.5 million in guaranteed money.

Since then, Monroe has started just 17 of 30 games (including the postseason) as knee, foot, and shoulder injuries as well as a concussion at the start of the 2015 season have cost him extensive time. The 28-year-old missed only four games over his first five NFL seasons, but he’s started and finished just three games this year, leaving the overmatched James Hurst to fill in at left tackle. Even when Monroe has played, it’s been at an underwhelming level in comparison to his $7.7 million cap figure this year.

Many fans have questioned Monroe’s toughness, and it was interesting to hear John Harbaugh mention the left tackle’s agent on Monday when discussing the status of his injured shoulder that’s cost him three games and parts of two others this season. To be clear, the head coach did not speak with any hint of animosity, but you simply don’t hear an agent being cited very often in such discussions, leading one to wonder if the Ravens and Monroe have differing opinions on his health.

Regardless of whether Monroe returns to play in 2015, the Ravens will need to take a long look at the left tackle position this offseason as he simply hasn’t been dependable enough at a critical position. Hurst is a hard worker, but Pro Football Focus has graded him 74th out of 76 offensive tackles this season and he was the one who rolled into Joe Flacco’s left knee, causing the season-ending injury last month. The second-year tackle is just not starting material.

Monroe is scheduled to make $6.5 million and to carry an $8.7 million cap figure in 2016, but cutting him would still leave $6.6 million in dead money unless the Ravens were to use a post-June 1 designation. However, that strategy wouldn’t free up that cap space until after most free-agent activity was long finished.

With the Ravens now 4-8 and potentially picking in the top five of April’s draft, Ole Miss left tackle Laremy Tunsil will be one of many intriguing prospects to watch over the next few months.

Awful year for rookie class

The four-game suspension of rookie tight end Nick Boyle was the rotten cherry on top of a lousy first season for the 2015 draft class aside from fourth-round running back Buck Allen.

Facing so many offseason departures, the Ravens used their draft class to fill an assortment of needs, but that meant a cast of rookies needed to contribute immediately if they were to reach their lofty goals for the 2015 season. Needless to say, that hasn’t come close to happening.

Selected to replace speedy wide receiver Torrey Smith, first-round pick Breshad Perriman hurt his knee on the first day of training camp and didn’t play as much as a preseason snap in his rookie season. Tight end Maxx Williams has flashed potential here and there, but 19 catches and one touchdown are nothing to write home about for a second-round pick.

Drafted to essentially take the spots of free-agent departures Haloti Ngata and Pernell McPhee, third-round defensive tackle Carl Davis and fourth-round Za’Darius Smith have largely been non-factors with the former not even being active for the last two games. And though fourth-round cornerback Tray Walker was considered a bit of a project out of Texas Southern, it’s become clear that the Ravens drafted him way too early — even if he does eventually develop into a useful player.

Fifth-round guard Robert Myers didn’t even make the team — he’s now on the practice squad — and sixth-round receiver Darren Waller caught only two passes before a hamstring injury landed him on injured reserve.

Yes, it’s only the first season, so this isn’t a final condemnation on the 2015 draft class by any means. But the group couldn’t have been much more disappointing in its rookie campaign.

And now that Boyle’s better-than-expected play has been superseded by the disappointment of a four-game ban, Allen’s development into a starting-caliber back is the only saving grace of the group in 2015.

Running back debate

Allen is the most intriguing reason to watch the Ravens these days, but his performance is creating an interesting debate for the offseason.

Though he is averaging only 3.9 yards per carry, his ability as a receiver out of the backfield — an impressive 29 catches on 32 targets — is making quite a statement for the USC product to be the Ravens’ No. 1 back in 2016. And Terrance West has provided good depth in averaging 4.5 yards per carry in his two games with Baltimore thus far.

For those reasons, might the Ravens consider moving on from veteran Justin Forsett this offseason?

The 30-year-old will carry a $3.7 million cap figure next year and releasing him would save $2.3 million in salary cap space, no small amount for a team that will be looking for room even after renegotiating Flacco’s massive contract. And it’s not as though the Ravens wouldn’t have an impressive collection of young talent with Allen, West, and a returning Lorenzo Taliaferro in the backfield.

That trio would certainly benefit from Forsett’s experience and leadership, but how much is that worth? Would the Ravens feel comfortable handing the reins to an inexperienced threesome?

If Allen and West continue to play well over the final quarter of the season, Newsome may be faced with a difficult decision on Forsett, who is a popular player in the locker room and has been one of the feel-good stories of the last couple seasons.

Depressing quarterback situation

I can’t bring myself to care about a quarterback controversy for a 4-8 football team, but some fans are already clamoring for Jimmy Clausen to play with Matt Schaub having thrown two interceptions returned for touchdowns in two starts.

Given the current state of the offensive line and how sore Schaub was after the Miami game, it would not be surprising to see Clausen get a look sooner rather than later. It’s also worth remembering that the Ravens worked out former Houston quarterback Ryan Mallett last week, and he could still be summoned at some point over the final month.

The organization would like to identify someone who can handle the backup job, especially with Flacco unlikely to be ready until training camp at the earliest next season. But is it really all that interesting to watch such a competition play out for a team that’s going nowhere in December?

I’d rather watch Flacco rehab his surgically-repaired left knee.

NFC Least

Over the years, some Baltimore fans have suggested how interesting it would be if the Ravens were to move to the NFC East to compete against geographic neighbors Washington and Philadelphia.

Imagine if the 4-8 Ravens could be just one game out in a hapless division currently sporting three 5-7 teams tied for first place.

My pick to win that awful division?

Just give it to the Arizona Cardinals for old times’ sake after they languished in the NFC East for years.

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