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Harbaugh, Ravens feeling refreshed returning from bye

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Harbaugh, Ravens feeling refreshed returning from bye

Posted on 17 November 2014 by Luke Jones

OWINGS MILLS, Md. — Returning from their latest bye since the 2001 season, the Ravens hope a week of rest is the perfect tonic to propel them to the postseason for the sixth time in seven years under head coach John Harbaugh.

At 6-4, Baltimore finds itself in the thick of the AFC playoff race, but next Monday’s trip to New Orleans will be a challenge for a team that’s just 2-3 on the road in 2014. Harbaugh hopes the late-season bye will allow the Ravens to finish strong as four of their final six games come against teams with records of .500 or better and that’s not including the 4-6 Saints who possess the NFL’s second-ranked offense.

“We’re going to have our hands full, and we better be ready to go,” Harbaugh said. “I like to believe that our guys understand that, but we’ll find out Monday night. I believe they do understand that.”

Players were off Tuesday through Sunday while Harbaugh gave his assistant coaches Thursday through Sunday to recharge for the final six games of the regular season. The Ravens are 5-1 in games returning from their bye week in the Harbaugh era and have won 10 of their last 12 post-bye games since the 2002 season.

Harbaugh hopes history is on their side as well as the benefit of a later bye as the Ravens are currently chasing first-place Cincinnati, who improved to 6-3-1 with an impressive win over the Saints on Sunday. Baltimore ranked ninth in the AFC playoff chase as a result of Pittsburgh’s Monday night win to conclude Week 11.

“You don’t realize how exhausted you are until you get a chance to take a deep breath and relax,” Harbaugh said. “The next thing you know, you’re like, ‘Wow, this has really been helpful.’ Everybody gets a bye week. We had ours this week, and we hope to make the most of it going forward for the rest of the season.”

Harbaugh doesn’t question penalty for Coffman

Asked about the NFL’s decision to fine Chase Coffman $30,000 for his malicious sideline hit on assistant coach Tony Coaxum in Week 10, Harbaugh chose to take the high road about the league not suspending the Tennessee Titans tight end.

The Ravens coach said he was told the collision wasn’t intentional, but it’s no secret that the organization was very unhappy about what happened late in the fourth quarter of the 21-7 win over Tennessee. Coaxum was not injured, but the FOX Sports video below leaves little debate about Coffman’s conduct.

“It’s really difficult to have a response to the level of punishment,” Harbaugh said. “I know the league has protocols, and they have standards and histories and things like that that they look really hard at. We don’t ever really question that part of it. That’s in their purview.”

Ravens wanted to keep Sunday night star Gray

Former practice squad running back Jonas Gray became the toast of the NFL Sunday night with his 199-yard, four-touchdown performance in the New England Patriots’ 42-20 win over Indianapolis.

Gray spent the 2013 regular season on the Ravens’ practice squad before electing to sign a reserve-futures contract with New England last offseason. Asked about the Michigan native rushing for a single-game high in the NFL this season, Harbaugh mentioned their respective in-state ties as a springboard to a good relationship, even mentioning that Gray’s mom brought food to the team during their Week 15 game in Detroit last December.

“We were disappointed to lose Jonas last year when we lost him. We really thought he had a lot of upside,” Harbaugh said. “He felt like that was an opportunity that he wanted to pursue, and obviously, it’s paid off for him. I wish him nothing but the best, but I was happy for him [Sunday] night to see him do that. That was great to see.”

Of course, no one could have predicted Gray’s breakout performance as even New England stashed him on the practice squad for a large portion of this season, but you do wonder if the Ravens regret not giving him a look last season while they were experiencing such drastic woes with the running game.

Conflicted coach

Harbaugh’s strong ties to the University of Michigan are no secret, making for a fun moment Monday when he was asked to predict the winner of this Saturday’s Maryland-Michigan game in Ann Arbor.

Neither team is exactly fighting for a Big Ten title this year as there has been plenty of debate about the future of Wolverines head coach Brady Hoke. Harbaugh paused and smiled before providing his answer to the question about who would prevail.

“May the best team win,” he said while laughing. “How’s that?”

Practice squad changes (again)

The Ravens made their latest change to their practice squad Monday, signing tight end Allen Reisner and cutting tight end Emmanuel Ogbuehi.

Reisner is in his fourth NFL season and has spent time with Jacksonville, Minnesota, and New England. He has registered seven catches for 58 yards in 15 career games split between the Jaguars and Vikings.

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Ravens add former Towson receiver Sheppard, running back to practice squad

Posted on 02 September 2013 by Luke Jones

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OWINGS MILLS, Md. — The Ravens completed their practice squad Monday by re-signing former Towson wide receiver Gerrard Sheppard and adding running back Jonas Gray.

Baltimore released undrafted offensive lineman Jordan Devey a day after adding him to their developmental squad.

Sheppard was with the Ravens throughout the offseason and summer before he was waived on Aug. 25, but the McDonough grad left quite an impression on coach John Harbaugh, making his inclusion on the practice squad less surprising. He did not record a catch in the preseason.

“These are men with dreams and aspirations who work really hard, [like] a Gerrard Sheppard — [a] local guy from Towson who just did a great job for us,” Harbaugh said in late August. “He is a really talented, hard-working, good person, and no matter what he does in life, he’s going to be amazingly successful.”

Gray was with the Miami Dolphins in the preseason after spending his college career at Notre Dame. As a senior with the Fighting Irish, Gray carried the ball 114 times for 791 yards and 12 touchdowns. In 40 rushing attempts this preseason, Gray gained 107 yards and two touchdowns.

The Ravens had hoped that running back Bobby Rainey would clear waivers and agree to join their practice squad, but he was claimed by the Cleveland Browns. Ray Rice and Bernard Pierce are the only running backs on the current 53-man roster.

Here’s where the eight-man Baltimore practice squad stands as of now:

S Omar Brown
TE Matt Furstenburg
LB Brandon Copeland
C Reggie Stephens
OT J.J. Unga
DL Cody Larsen
WR Gerrard Sheppard
RB Jonas Gray

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