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Ravens re-sign wide receiver Thompson, waive running back Toussaint

Posted on 23 September 2014 by Luke Jones

The 53-man roster carousel continued Tuesday as the Ravens re-signed wide receiver Deonte Thompson and waived rookie running back Fitz Toussaint.

Baltimore decided to cut Thompson the day before the Week 3 win at Cleveland to promote Toussaint to the active roster with starting running back Bernard Pierce out due to a thigh injury. Toussaint was on the field for one special-teams play, and it appears that Tuesday’s move is an encouraging indication of Pierce’s availability to play against the Carolina Panthers in Week 4.

Thompson was inactive in each of the Ravens’ first two games, but he is a backup return specialist to Jacoby Jones, who is struggling as a receiver so far this season.

It appears likely that the Ravens will re-sign Toussaint to the practice squad should he clear waivers.

The Ravens also announced they’ve re-signed rookie defensive tackle A.J. Pataiali’i to their practice squad.

Though not confirmed by the team as of early Tuesday afternoon, inside linebacker Josh Bynes has been signed off the practice squad by the Detroit Lions, who are looking for depth following the season-ending knee injury suffered by Stephen Tulloch on Sunday. Bynes is now reunited with Lions head coach Jim Caldwell and defensive coordinator Teryl Austin, who both served as assistants in Baltimore prior to this offseason.

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Ravens waive veteran linebacker Bynes, re-sign cornerback Cox

Posted on 02 September 2014 by Luke Jones

OWINGS MILLS, Md. — The Ravens returned to the practice field Tuesday by making their first adjustment to their 53-man roster by waiving veteran inside linebacker Josh Bynes and re-signing cornerback Derek Cox.

All 53 players on the roster were present and working as they prepare for the 2014 season opener against the Cincinnati Bengals on Sunday, but the departure of Bynes was surprising as the Ravens preferred to keep special-teams standout Albert McClellan and rookie free agent Zach Orr behind starting inside linebackers Daryl Smith and C.J. Mosley. Bynes made six starts last season in place of the injured Jameel McClain and collected 45 tackles and three pass breakups over 15 games.

Bynes made the final tackle of Super Bowl XLVII to help the Ravens win their second NFL championship at the conclusion of the 2012 season.

“All I can tell you about Josh Bynes is if we can ever bring him back, we will, in whatever capacity we can,” head coach John Harbaugh said. “He’s been a Raven through and through; he’s done nothing but help us be our best; he’s [been] completely all in for everything that we’ve ever done here. I love Josh, and I know he’ll do well no matter what he does.”

With only four cornerbacks on their 53-man roster when they made final cuts on Saturday, the Ravens brought back Cox to add depth and another veteran to compete with Asa Jackson and Chykie Brown for the No. 3 cornerback spot. Baltimore signed Cox last week after he was cut by the Minnesota Vikings on Aug. 25, but he was initially cut over the weekend.

General manager Ozzie Newsome has been pursuing other options at the cornerback position as the Ravens lack depth behind starters Lardarius Webb and Jimmy Smith, who were both slowed by injuries during the summer. The good news was the sight of Webb (back), Smith (chest), and Jackson (ankle) all taking part in drills during the portion of practice open to media on Tuesday.

Cox began his career with the Jacksonville Jaguars after being taken in the third round of the 2009 draft. The William & Mary product started 45 games for Jacksonville over our seasons before signing a four-year, $20 million contract with the San Diego Chargers prior to the 2013 campaign.

The 6-foot-1, 195-pound defensive back began 2013 as a starter before being benched for poor play and losing his starting job in Week 13. He finished with 38 tackles, one interception, and seven pass breakups in 16 games, 11 of them starts. According to Pro Football Focus, Cox graded out 106th out of 110 cornerbacks to play at least 25 percent of his team’s snaps during the 2013 season.

Cox was released by the Chargers in March and signed a one-year contract with the Vikings later that month, but Minnesota parted ways with him when teams were forced to cut their preseason roster from 90 to 75 players.

Tight end Owen Daniels (leg), running back Bernard Pierce (head), offensive lineman Jah Reid (head), and safety Matt Elam (leg) were all present and participating in practice once again after they all returned to practice on Saturday. After Harbaugh had repeatedly told reporters that Daniels was dealing with general leg soreness and swelling, the 31-year-old acknowledged after Tuesday’s practice that he’s been stricken with a hamstring injury.

“I feel really good. I had a little hammy issue, but that’s all cleared up [and] I’m ready to go,” Daniels said. “I’m excited to get going this first week. I got a ton of good work in those first two weeks. Obviously, I would have liked to have been out there those middle two [preseason] games. We played it smart. Week 1 is the most important thing.”

The Ravens also have a pair of jersey number changes as rookie wide receiver Michael Campanaro is now wearing No. 15 and Orr is sporting No. 54.



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Ravens tender contracts to Bynes, five other exclusive-rights free agents

Posted on 11 March 2014 by Luke Jones

With the free-agent signing period officially beginning at 4 p.m. on Tuesday, the Ravens addressed their six exclusive-rights free agents by tendering each to one-year deals.

Linebackers Josh Bynes, Adrian Hamilton, and D.J. Bryant and safeties Omar Brown, Anthony Levine, and Brynden Trawick were all tendered contracts, according to USA Today’s Tom Pelissero.

These moves were considered nothing but a formality as exclusive-rights free agents have two or fewer accrued seasons in the league and own no negotiating rights. In order for the Ravens to retain the rights to these players, they simply had to tender contracts at the league minimum based on their respective service times in the NFL.

Baltimore signed linebacker Albert McClellan to a two-year contract over the weekend and chose not to tender a contract to wide receiver Tandon Doss as these two represented the team’s only restricted free agents. The Ravens are reportedly still open to the possibility of signing Doss to a deal, but he was set to become an unrestricted free agent on Tuesday afternoon.

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Pitta moving closer to return in November?

Posted on 23 October 2013 by Luke Jones

(This blog brought to you by Atlantic Remodeling. Visit www.atlanticremodeling.com to learn about their Red Cent Guarantee!)

OWINGS MILLS, Md. — The Ravens are spending their bye week trying to rectify issues in all three phases of the game, but their offense appears to be moving closer to regaining a critical piece of the passing game.

Out of action since dislocating and fracturing his hip on July 27, tight end Dennis Pitta continues to inch toward his return to action as it now appears to only be a question of when and not if he’ll be playing again in 2013. Pitta remains on injured reserve with the designation to return, but the fourth-year tight end could be back within the next month or so.

Coach John Harbaugh wouldn’t go as far as confirming an ESPN report saying that Pitta would be back by the end of next month at the latest, but he did acknowledge the progress the injured player has made over the last three months. Pitta was first spotted catching passes from the Jugs machine during the opening portion of an Oct. 4 practice and began running on a treadmill several weeks ago.

“Nothing has changed as far as I know,” said Harbaugh when asked about a mid- to late-November timetable for Pitta’s return. “Everything is on schedule. There have been no setbacks with Dennis, so we’ll just have to see how it goes. Until we get him on the field and see him start running around, I think we’ll know more then. I’m looking forward to that. That will be very interesting.”

By rule, Pitta was eligible to return to the practice field after the Ravens’ Week 6 loss to the Packers and would be eligible to play against Cleveland a week from Sunday, but he is not expected to be ready to return to live-game action until later in November.

The Ravens have struggled to receive production from the tight end position this season as Dallas Clark has collected 23 receptions for 265 yards and two touchdowns and Ed Dickson has made just seven catches for 93 yards. Last year, Pitta caught 61 passes for 669 yards and seven touchdowns in the regular season.

He has regularly been at the team’s Owings Mills facility as he continues to work his way back to full strength from an injury that was initially expected to sideline him for the entire year.

“He’s working his tail off rehab-wise,” said wide receiver Torrey Smith, who’s been forced to make up for the losses of both Pitta and Anquan Boldin this season. “It’s always pretty cool to see him in there and really see his progression. Hopefully, he can get back. I don’t know an exact date and if I did, I wouldn’t give out any hints anyways, but he’s definitely looking a lot better. I think just the fact that you can even see him walking — considering what he’d done — is awesome.”

Osemele’s back affecting play

Starting left guard Kelechi Osemele confirmed a report earlier this week that he expects to undergo offseason back surgery after the season.

After it was decided that Osemele would not have surgery last offseason, the second-year lineman has struggled to play through the injury this season and missed most of the Ravens’ Week 5 win over the Miami Dolphins due to back spasms. The former second-round pick is looking forward to four days off to rest his back during the Ravens’ bye week.

“Obviously, I’ve been dealing with it for a while and it’s getting to the point where eventually I’m going to have to go ahead and get that fixed,” said Osemele, who admitted the bouts of pain are becoming more frequent. “I was avoiding it for as long as I could, gambling with i, but I just can’t afford to gamble with it any longer. It’s something I’m going to have to deal with after the season.”

Harbaugh praised Osemele earlier in the week for pushing through the pain as the Ravens’ best backup option behind him is the undersized A.Q. Shipley.

Osemele acknowledged that the back injury is affecting his play, which is no surprise as many have seen a significant drop-off from his rookie season when many predicted he would blossom into a Pro Bowl guard as early as this year. Instead, he has been just one of many concerns for an underperforming offensive line.

“The back’s a big thing,” Osemele said. “It’s connected to everything. It’s connected to your legs. It’s everything from that point down is affected. It’s affected my power. I’m an offensive lineman. I need to have strong legs. So, obviously it’s affected me.”

Bynes eyeing return for Cleveland game

Recovering from surgery for an infection in his finger, inside linebacker Josh Bynes expressed optimism earlier in the week that he would be ready to go for the Ravens’ first post-bye game in Cleveland.

Harbaugh indicated that would be a realistic goal but wasn’t ready to use the same terminology regarding the young linebacker’s status.

“I don’t know if ‘expected’ is the right word,” Harbaugh said. “I guess I probably feel that way, but I don’t want to speak, because you never know with an infection. There’s a good chance that he would be [ready].”

How both Bynes and veteran Jameel McClain will fit into the defense remains to be seen as McClain started at weakside inside linebacker in Pittsburgh.

Ravens keeping roster spot open for now

With Monday’s news of the Ravens trading veteran tackle Bryant McKinnie to the Miami Dolphins in exchange for a conditional late draft pick, a spot on the 53-man roster remained open as of Wednesday afternoon.

“We’re still working ourselves through that,” Harbaugh said. “It could be a practice squad promotion. It could be somebody off a practice squad roster or somebody who’s available right now as a free agent.”

According to The Sun, the Ravens worked out former Arizona Cardinals running back Beanie Wells in what might be an indication of continued concerns over the health of Ray Rice and Bernard Pierce, but the 2009 first-round pick wasn’t signed immediately. Wells rushed for 1,047 yards in 2011, but injuries limited him to eight games last season before he was released this past March.

Tuesday practice report

Pierce (undisclosed), Osemele (back), Bynes (finger), linebacker Albert McClellan (shoulder), and wide receiver Brandon Stokley (groin) were not participating during the portion of Wednesday’s workout open to the media.

Players were released on Wednesday afternoon for the remainder of the week and will report back to Owings Mills on Monday. The collective bargaining agreement requires at least four straight days off for players during the bye week.

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Ravens-Steelers: Inactives and pre-game notes

Posted on 20 October 2013 by Luke Jones

(This blog brought to you by Atlantic Remodeling. Visit www.atlanticremodeling.com to learn about their Red Cent Guarantee!)

PITTSBURGH — Aiming to enter their bye week on a positive note while also burying their biggest rival even further, the Ravens travel to Heinz Field to take on the Pittsburgh Steelers on Sunday afternoon.

Baltimore has won three consecutive regular-season games in Pittsburgh and will try to avoid falling below the .500 mark this late in the season for the first time in the John Harbaugh era. Meanwhile, the Steelers are coming off their first win of the season last week and can improve to 2-4 with a victory over their bitter rivals.

Inside linebacker Jameel McClain will make his 2013 debut against Pittsburgh as he makes his return from a spinal cord contusion suffered on Dec. 9, 2012. With starter Josh Bynes out after undergoing surgery for an infection in his finger, McClain is expected to see plenty of defensive snaps along with rookie second-round pick Arthur Brown at the weakside inside linebacker position.

For the second straight week, the Ravens have listed former starting left tackle Bryant McKinnie as inactive, meaning they will use rookie tackle Rick Wagner once again if they want to line up in a jumbo formation with a tackle-eligible blocker. McKinnie has been dealing with knee swelling for the last couple weeks but has not been listed on the injury report.

With Pittsburgh unable to move the football via the ground all season and relying more on the passing game, the Ravens have listed defensive linemen Terrence Cody and DeAngelo Tyson as inactive. Cody practiced on a limited basis all week in coming back from a knee injury suffered last month but will ultimately miss his fourth straight game.

For the Steelers, rookie outside linebacker Jarvis Jones was not cleared after suffering a concussion last week and will be inactive for Week 7. He is expected to be replaced by Jason Worilds in the Pittsburgh starting defense.

A win on Sunday would give the Ravens their 14th in their last 16 games against the AFC North and improve Harbaugh’s record to 23-9 against division opponents. It would also give the Ravens a 2-0 record against the division this season with all other AFC North teams already sporting one loss on their division mark.

Sunday marks the 38th overall time these teams have played in the last 18 years with the Steelers owning the 19-15 edge in the regular season and a 3-0 mark against the Ravens in the postseason. Of the last 10 regular-season games played between these teams, eight have been decided by three points with the Ravens and Steelers each coming away with five wins over that span.

The Ravens will wear white jerseys with black pants while Pittsburgh dons black jerseys with gold pants on Sunday. This is the first time these teams have met in Pittsburgh and not played in prime time since the 2010 season.

The referee for Sunday’s game will be Bill Leavy.

Temperatures are expected to be in the mid-50s for the 4:25 p.m. kickoff with winds up to 13 miles per hour. Unlike the many times these teams have locked up later in the season in Pittsburgh, the grass appeared to be in good shape — and actually looked green — at Heinz Field prior to kickoff.

Here are Sunday’s inactives:

LB Josh Bynes
DT Terrence Cody
OL Jah Reid
C Ryan Jensen
T Bryant McKinnie
WR Brandon Stokley
DE DeAngelo Tyson

LB Jarvis Jones
QB Landry Jones
WR Markus Wheaton
CB Curtis Brown
RB Isaac Redman
TE Richard Gordon
NT Hebron Fangupo

Follow WNST on Twitter throughout the afternoon for updates and analysis as Nestor Aparicio, Drew Forrester, and I bring live coverage from Heinz Field throughout the day.

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Bynes out, McClain listed as probable on Ravens’ injury report

Posted on 18 October 2013 by Luke Jones

(This blog brought to you by Atlantic Remodeling. Visit www.atlanticremodeling.com to learn about their Red Cent Guarantee!)

OWINGS MILLS, Md. — The Ravens will be forced to reshuffle their lineup at inside linebacker for Sunday’s game against the Steelers as starter Josh Bynes has been ruled out after undergoing surgery on his infect finger.

Coach John Harbaugh announced after Friday’s practice that Bynes’ infection hadn’t responded to antibiotics over the last few days, which prompted the need for him to have surgery to clean the finger out. The coach said the infection isn’t anything serious like the MRSA outbreak that’s recently plagued the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Bynes suffered the cut a couple weeks ago, according to the Baltimore coach.

“We thought we’d have him back to practice Wednesday, then Thursday,” Harbaugh said. “Last night, the infection beat the antibiotics, so he had to get surgery on that finger to get it cleaned out. He’s doing fine, but that will preclude him from being able to play in this game.”

That news coupled with veteran Jameel McClain being listed as probable could lead to the Ravens returning the latter to the 53-man roster by 4 p.m. on Saturday. The sixth-year linebacker returned to the practice field earlier this week after being sidelined the last 10 months with a spinal cord contusion.

Harbaugh was noncommittal regarding McClain’s status against Pittsburgh, but the Ravens must return him to the 53-man roster by 4 p.m. on Saturday in order to play against Pittsburgh. Should McClain not play on Sunday, rookie Arthur Brown would take Bynes’ place in the starting defense next to fellow inside linebacker Daryl Smith.

“He’s up. It’s just if we want to take him off that designation and put him on the [53-man roster],” Harbaugh said. “Why don’t we just wait and see on that? I’m not prepared to make an announcement on that right now.”

Wide receiver Brandon Stokley was listed as doubtful for Sunday’s game as he missed the last two days of practice while continuing to battle a groin injury.

Stokley hasn’t played in a game since Sept. 22 as he’s dealt with the ailment and was even released a day prior to the Ravens’ win in Miami on Oct. 6 before being re-signed a few days later. With the rest of the Ravens’ group of wide receivers finally healthy, Stokley’s future in Baltimore is appearing foggier by the week.

“Brandon came out on Wednesday and got through the practice 100 percent,” Harbaugh said. “[He] came out on Thursday and didn’t feel as good. We’re continuing to rest him to try to get that right. I don’t foresee him playing in the game at this point unless something changes.”

The Ravens listed six players as questionable, including defensive tackles Haloti Ngata and Terrence Cody, linebackers Courtney Upshaw and Albert McClellan, and cornerbacks Lardarius Webb and Chykie Brown. All of the aforementioned players except for McClellan practiced all week on a limited basis.

After missing Wednesday’s practice with a thigh issue, defensive end Chris Canty was designated as probable for Sunday.

Meanwhile, the Steelers listed rookie linebacker Jarvis Jones as questionable as he continues to recover from a concussion sustained in last week’s game.

Right tackle Marcus Gilbert, defensive end Brett Keisel, linebacker LaMarr Woodley, and tight end heath Miller were all listed as probable.

Here is the final injury report for the week:

OUT: LB Josh Bynes (thigh, finger)
DOUBTFUL: C Ryan Jensen (foot), WR Brandon Stokley (thigh)
QUESTIONABLE: CB Chykie Brown (thigh), DT Terrence Cody (knee), LB Albert McClellan (shoulder), DT Haloti Ngata (elbow), LB Courtney Upshaw (foot), CB Lardarius Webb (thigh)
PROBABLE: DE Chris Canty (thigh), LB Jameel McClain (neck), DT Marcus Spears (knee)

OUT: TE Richard Gordon (toe) , WR Markus Wheaton (finger)
QUESTIONABLE: LB Jarvis Jones (concussion)
PROBABLE: T Marcus Gilbert (quad), DE Brett Keisel (abdomen), TE Heath Miller (NIR), LB LaMarr Woodley (knee)

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Bynes, McClellan absent from practice for second straight day

Posted on 17 October 2013 by Luke Jones

(This blog brought to you by Atlantic Remodeling. Visit www.atlanticremodeling.com to learn about their Red Cent Guarantee!)

OWINGS MILLS, Md. — The Ravens continued to look in good shape from a health standpoint Thursday as linebackers Josh Bynes and Albert McClellan were the only players absent from practice.

Continuing preparations for Sunday’s game against the Pittsburgh Steelers, the Ravens saw the return of defensive end Chris Canty (thigh) to practice after he was listed as a non-participant on Wednesday’s report. It was believed that Canty simply received a day off to rest as he was upgraded to full participation on Thursday.

Bynes is dealing with an infected finger and a thigh injury, but coach John Harbaugh painted a positive prognosis for the 24-year-old linebacker prior to Wednesday’s practice. McClellan hasn’t taken part in a practice since the week leading up to the Week 4 loss in Buffalo as he continues to nurse a shoulder injury, but the special-teams standout has played in each of the last two games.

Wide receiver Brandon Stokley did not participate on Thursday after practicing fully a day earlier. He has dealt with a lingering groin injury for a few weeks.

Inside linebacker Jameel McClain was present and working for the second straight day after being cleared to return to the football field. There is no specified timetable for McClain to be moved onto the 53-man roster for game action, but he was listed as a full participant on Wednesday’s injury report as he practiced for the first time since suffering a spinal cord contusion on Dec. 9 of last year.

Techinically, the Ravens are not required to list McClain on the injury report since he isn’t part of the active roster, but his return to practice after being on the physically unable to perform list triggered the start of a 21-day window in which he may beginning practicing. At the end of the three-week period, the Ravens must place him on the 53-man roster or season-ending injured reserve. However, he can be activated sooner than that if they so choose.

Meanwhile, the Steelers’ first-round rookie linebacker Jarvis Jones was upgraded to limited participation as he continues to recover from a concussion. Reports from Pittsburgh were encouraging regarding his status for Sunday’s game at Heinz Field.

Here is the full injury report for Thursday:

DID NOT PARTICIPATE: LB Josh Bynes (thigh, finger), LB Albert McClellan (shoulder), WR Brandon Stokley (thigh)
LIMITED PARTICIPATION: CB Chykie Brown (thigh), DT Terrence Cody (knee), C Ryan Jensen (foot), DT Haloti Ngata (elbow), LB Courtney Upshaw (foot), CB Lardarius Webb (thigh)
FULL PARTICIPATION: DE Chris Canty (thigh), LB Jameel McClain (neck), DT Marcus Spears (knee)

OUT: WR Markus Wheaton (finger)
DID NOT PARTICIPATE: TE Richard Gordon (toe)
LIMITED PARTICIPATION: LB Jarvis Jones (head), T Marcus Gilbert (quad)
FULL PARTICIPATION: DE Brett Keisel (abdomen), TE Heath Miller (non-injury related), LB LaMarr Woodley (knee)

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McClain cleared to return to practice after 10-month absence

Posted on 16 October 2013 by Luke Jones

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OWINGS MILLS, Md. — More than 10 months after suffering a spinal cord contusion that threatened his football future, inside linebacker Jameel McClain returned to practice on Wednesday as the Ravens continued preparations for the Pittsburgh Steelers.

McClain remains on the reserve physically unable to perform list for now, but his return to the practice field triggered the start of a 21-day window in which the sixth-year linebacker may practice. Though he may return prior to the end of the three-week period, McClain must be added to the active roster at the end of the window or placed on season-ending injured reserve.

Coach John Harbaugh confirmed that McClain has been cleared to return to the football field after recovering from a spinal cord injury suffered against the Washington Redskins on Dec. 9 of last season, but no decision has been made on his status against Pittsburgh on Sunday. The Ravens have their bye in Week 8, making it plausible that they would ease McClain back into practices this week with the thought of activating him after the bye.

“We’re going to practice Jameel McClain today,” Harbaugh said prior to practice. “He’s eligible to do that. We do not know what that means for this week, next week, or the week after. We do know that it means within three weeks that we’ve got to make a decision about whether we’d put him on the 53-man roster. We’ll just have to see how it goes with that.”

How McClain will fit within the defense remains to be seen as inside linebacker Daryl Smith has been arguably the biggest surprise of the season and has handled making the calls in the defensive huddle admirably through the first six weeks of the season. Having made 45 starts in his NFL career, McClain could potentially unseat Josh Bynes at the weakside inside linebacker spot, a position he played next to the retired Ray Lewis in past seasons.

For now, McClain is pleased to prove doubters wrong about his ability to return to football and will work to get himself back into football shape after continuing to work out and attend meetings at the team’s Owings Mills facility since he was injured late last season. The Syracuse product and Philadelphia native feels he’s ready to play right away but acknowledged that the coaches and training staff will ultimately decide when he returns to game action.

However, the itch is there for McClain to return to action with his injury fully healed.

“You understand the feeling of watching people play day in and day out,” said McClain, who admitted using his doubters as motivation to keep working hard as his spinal cord healed. “Getting to see my teammates put their pads on and go out and do work while I had to stand around and watch, it’s no doubt that I’m itching. I’m preparing myself mentally and especially physically coming into this game.”

Cody returns to practice; Bynes, Canty sidelined

In addition to McClain, defensive tackle Terrence Cody returned to the practice field on Wednesday for the first time since injuring his knee in the first quarter of the Ravens’ win over the Houston Texans on Sept. 22.

Cody has missed three straight games but practiced on a limited basis after telling reporters last week that he was moving closer to a return to action. Rookie Brandon Williams has taken Cody’s place in several defensive sub packages, which will make for an interesting competition for reps between the first-year player and Cody, who is scheduled to become a free agent after the season.

Inside linebackers Josh Bynes and Albert McClellan and defensive end Chris Canty (thigh) were absent from Wednesday’s practice, making McClain’s return a welcome sight for a lighter group of inside linebackers. While McClellan has missed the last two weeks of practice — though he’s played in each of the last two games — Harbaugh revealed that Bynes is dealing with a finger injury.

“Josh Bynes has an infection in his finger, which he cut a couple of weeks ago,” Harbaugh said. “He was actually in the hospital last night with it. He got good news. It’s good — it’s clearing up.”

Canty was present and dressed out to work during the portion of practice open to the media before being listed as a non-participant, perhaps indicating a day of rest for the veteran defensive lineman.

Defensive tackle Haloti Ngata (hip and elbow) was practicing after straining his elbow in the first half of Sunday’s loss to the Green Bay Packers.

Wednesday’s injury report

DID NOT PARTICIPATE: LB Josh Bynes (thigh, finger), DE Chris Canty (thigh), LB Albert McClellan (shoulder)
LIMITED PARTICIPATION: CB Chykie Brown (thigh), DT Terrence Cody (knee), C Ryan Jensen (foot), DT Haloti Ngata (elbow), LB Courtney Upshaw (foot), CB Lardarius Webb (thigh)
FULL PARTICIPATION: LB Jameel McClain (neck), DT Marcus Spears (knee), WR Brandon Stokley (thigh)

OUT: WR Markus Wheaton (finger)
DID NOT PARTICIPATE: LB Jarvis Jones (head)
LIMITED PARTICIPATION: T Marcus Gilbert (quad), DE Brett Keisel (abdomen), TE Heath Miller (non-injury related), LB LaMarr Woodley (knee)

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Ravens-Buccaneers preseason primer: Five players to watch

Posted on 07 August 2013 by Luke Jones

(This blog brought to you by Atlantic Remodeling. Visit www.atlanticremodeling.com to learn about their Red Cent Guarantee!)

After undergoing more change than any Super Bowl champion in recent memory, the Ravens will offer a glimpse of their revamped roster in their preseason opener against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Thursday.

The contest will offer little more than a cameo appearance for players expected to make the biggest impact in the 2013 season but will also provide welcome change for a group of players tired of working against one another after two weeks of practices in Owings Mills. Sunday’s practice at the Naval Academy in Annapolis provided a much-needed change of scenery, but a trip to Tampa will bring live-game action to a team with high expectations but also a number of veteran newcomers and rookies expected to contribute immediately.

The outcome of the preseason opener won’t determine answers for any of a number of questions facing the Ravens on both sides of the football, but the game will sharpen the focus of preparation for both coaches and players after facing competition in another uniform.

“They really are tired of seeing each other,” said coach John Harbaugh about the monotony of the first couple weeks of camp. “You can’t tackle to the ground, and you have to take care of one another. The game is a little bit different. The game is the game, and we’ll learn a lot. We’ll have a chance to move forward from there because there will be some things we’re expecting to see that we’ll see. But there will be other things that we’ll be surprised about – good and bad – and we’ll have to build off those things.”

Thursday will mark the first preseason meeting between Baltimore and Tampa Bay, but the teams have split the regular-season series, 2-2. Their last meeting came at M&T Bank Stadium in 2010 when the Ravens won 17-10 en route to a 12-4 season that resulted in the third straight trip to the playoffs for a Harbaugh-coached team. The Ravens haven’t played a game at Raymond James Stadium since the 2006 season opener and, of course, won the first of their two Super Bowl titles in Tampa on Jan. 28, 2001.

The Ravens are 40-27 all-time in the preseason and 13-7 in the Harbaugh era. Baltimore has also won 12 of its last 16 preseason games and is 19-14 in preseason road games.

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.

Most of the players ruled to be out will come as no surprise, but the status of a few will be in question. This list, of course, will not include any veterans who may be held out of the preseason opener due to the coaching staff’s preference. Cornerback Lardarius Webb is not expected to play as he continues to be held out of most 11-on-11 sessions during practices while working his way back to 100 percent following last October’s ACL injury.

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

OUT: TE Ed Dickson (hamstring), G Marshal Yanda (shoulder), LB Jameel McClain (neck), OL Ryan Jensen (foot), DE Kapron Lewis-Moore (knee), TE Dennis Pitta (hip)
DOUBTFUL: WR David Reed (groin), CB Lardarius Webb (knee)
QUESTIONABLE: OL Ramon Harewood (knee), S Omar Brown (undisclosed), CB Chris Johnson (undisclosed)
PROBABLE: RB Ray Rice (ankle), S James Ihedigbo (neck), DT Terrence Cody (hip/elbow)

Five players to watch Thursday night

1. WR Deonte Thompson

I’ve been as skeptical as anyone about the offseason praise bestowed on the second-year Florida product, but Thompson has looked increasingly comfortable working in the Ravens’ starting offense over the last week, whether it’s lining up in the slot or on the outside while Tandon Doss works inside in certain three-wide sets. Quarterback Joe Flacco complimented Thompson’s ability to work inside while also possessing unique speed for the slot position.

It will be interesting to see how offensive coordinator Jim Caldwell uses Thompson in the slot as he provides a speed element that neither Anquan Boldin nor Dennis Pitta possessed, but the biggest questions will be whether the former rookie free agent can catch the football consistently — the knock on him during his collegiate career — and whether he’s strong enough to create separation against press coverage. However, Thompson has performed well enough in the spring and summer to warrant extended looks in the preseason.

2. DE Chris Canty

The signings of pash-rush specialist Elvis Dumervil and free safety Michael Huff garnered more attention in the offseason, but Canty will provide the Ravens with a prototypical 5-technique defensive end (lining up over the outside shoulder of the offensive tackle), an asset they sorely lacked last season following the free-agent departure of Cory Redding. Arthur Jones was better suited to play inside and Pernell McPhee battled injuries throughout the year, forcing a banged-up Haloti Ngata to move away from his ideal spot and play outside more often. As a result, the defensive line suffered mightily against the run and getting after the quarterback.

Canty’s unique combination of size, power, and arm length — he’s listed at 6-foot-7 and 317 pounds — is exactly what you’re looking for to hold up against offensive tackles at the point of attack in the running game as well as to get after the quarterback a bit and put hands up to disrupt passing lanes. If Canty can remain healthy, his dirty work upfront won’t always show up in the box score but will be as valuable as Dumervil’s ability to bring down the quarterback and Huff’s work in the secondary.

3. LB Josh Bynes

Veteran Daryl Smith appears to be the overwhelming favorite to man the Mike inside linebacker position, but Bynes is battling Albert McClellan and second-round rookie Arthur Brown for the Will spot with most attention being paid to the Kansas State product for obvious reasons. However, Bynes has taken a large majority of the reps with the starting defense while Brown has primarily worked in sub packages and with the second-team unit.

Bynes missed nearly all of last year’s training camp with a back injury but eventually worked his way back to become a valuable special-teams contributor and filled in admirably after a number of injuries at the inside linebacker position late in the season. He has been complimented by coaches for having a good mind for the game and is strong against the run, making him the early favorite to start over the undersized and inexperienced Brown, who will likely replacing Bynes in passing situations to utilize his pass-coverage ability.

4. C A.Q. Shipley

Shipley’s 6-foot-1, 308-pound frame doesn’t impress you, but his work at the center position has earned him plenty of reps with the starting offense in a close battle with 2012 fourth-round pick Gino Gradkowski. I’ve maintained all spring and summer that Gradkowski was the favorite, but it appears that Shipley has closed the gap over the first couple weeks of training camp.

The Penn State product graded out well in his first real opportunity to play in the NFL last year with Indianapolis, but neither Shipley nor Gradkowski has great size, making you wonder if either will hold up physically against bigger opposing defensive tackles during the regular season. This might be the closest position battle of any for the Ravens this summer.

5. WR Marlon Brown

If you’re looking for this year’s rookie free agent to come out of nowhere in the way that past individuals such as Thompson or LaQuan Williams or Dannell Ellerbe did, Brown is an intriguing candidate because of his 6-foot-4 frame. His final season at the University of Georgia was cut short due to a torn ACL, which limited his ability to work out for teams during the draft process and contributed to him going undrafted.

Brown doesn’t possess overwhelming speed, but he’s shown a consistent ability to catch the football in practices unlike 2012 sixth-round pick and fellow big target Tommy Streeter, who is clearly behind Brown and seventh-round rookie Aaron Mellette on the depth chart. If Brown can shine while working with Tyrod Taylor and the second-team offense over the first couple preseason games, he could find himself at least in the conversation for a roster spot, especially with the Ravens desperately looking for red-zone targets in the passing game following the season-ending injury to Pitta.

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Ten non-Flacco thoughts on Ravens’ offseason

Posted on 19 February 2013 by Luke Jones

With the Ravens about to enter the most critical contract negotiations in franchise history later this week at the NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis, it’s difficult not to be inundated with the Joe Flacco discussions as general manager Ozzie Newsome tries to lock up his franchise quarterback for the long haul.

Frankly, the talk has been overwhelming and I’m as guilty as anyone in fueling the Flacco fire — HERE, HERE, and even HERE — and what impact it will have on the rest of the offseason and even the future of the franchise.

With that in mind, I offer 10 offseason thoughts not related to “you know who” as we wait to see how negotiations play out:

1. The Ravens could be faced with the choice of overpaying Bryant McKinnie or enduring another season of Michael Oher at left tackle.
Both sides will explore other options, but it’s difficult to find a left tackle — who’s ready to play immediately, anyway — with no cap room and no draft choice higher than 32nd overall. McKinnie may also find a lukewarm market with his off-field baggage and questions over why the Ravens sat him for the entire regular season. If the Ravens deem McKinnie too expensive or too risky to sign, would they roll the dice in going with Oher at left tackle for another season and hoping they can find their left tackle of 2014 in the draft? It’s a dangerous proposition and the Ravens simply don’t have the resources to expect to find anyone better than McKinnie in free agency.

2. Regardless of how the tackle position shakes out, I’d like to see Kelechi Osemele remain at left guard next season. Lost in the shuffle of the offensive line shakeup to start the postseason was the stellar play of Osemele, who was seeing his first extensive time at left guard since the preseason. The Iowa State product played solidly at the right tackle position, but he showed the potential of being a Pro Bowl player on the interior line in four playoff games. At 6-foot-5 and 335 pounds, Osemele clearly has the size to hold up at right tackle, but he could be good enough to make everyone forget about Ben Grubbs at the left guard position. The combination of him and Marshal Yanda could be the best guard duo in the league sooner rather than later, so the Ravens would love to keep Osemele inside in a perfect world.

3. Nothing should be guaranteed to Jimmy Smith next season despite a strong rebound in the postseason.
It looked like a lost season for the 2011 first-round pick after ineffective play and sports hernia surgery dropped him to fourth on the depth chart late in the year, but Smith rebounded to play well in the postseason, including making critical plays on third and fourth down of the Ravens’ goal-line stand in the Super Bowl. His 6-foot-2 frame is the logical replacement for the likely-to-depart Cary Williams, but Smith will need to work his way up the depth chart by first beating out Chykie Brown for the No. 3 corner spot and then Corey Graham for a starting job. His postseason play proves the discussion about Smith being a bust was premature, but the time is now for Smith to prove the Ravens were wise to use a first-round pick on him.

4. This will be a big offseason for Terrence Cody, who is looking more like the second failed second-round pick of the 2010 draft. Outside linebacker Sergio Kindle has already parted ways with the Ravens and Cody might follow him sooner rather than later as the nose tackle enters the final year of his rookie contract. Newsome made it clear at the season-review press conference that the Ravens need to improve at defensive tackle and Cody struggled to get on the field as he competed with veteran Ma’ake Kemoeatu this season. Despite being listed at 341 pounds, Cody was often manhandled and made little impact in taking on blockers to allow linebackers to make plays against the run. The defensive lineman made only two tackles in the postseason and could find himself on the roster bubble should he go through the motions during training camp.

5. With all the discussion over the salary cap purge following the 2001 season, has everyone forgotten how quickly the Ravens returned to prominence after gutting their roster? I understand the line of thinking of both Newsome and owner Steve Bisciotti in saying they don’t want to mortgage the future solely to make an ill-advised effort to get back to the Super Bowl next season, but it’s not as though the Ravens fell off a cliff following their last purge. They went 7-9 as the youngest team in the NFL in 2002 and improved to 10-6 and captured their first AFC North title in 2003. It certainly helped that the Ravens had young versions of Ray Lewis and Ed Reed as well as offensive pillars in Jonathan Ogden and Jamal Lewis, but that group also had Kyle Boller and Anthony Wright playing quarterback. What’s the moral of the story? Organizations that draft well and stay true to their process for making personnel decisions won’t stay down for long in the NFL.


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