Tag Archive | "justin forsett"


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With receivers ailing, Ravens running game came alive at perfect time

Posted on 02 October 2015 by Luke Jones

Already with 79 rushing yards through three quarters in Pittsburgh, Ravens running back Justin Forsett thought his number might be called more often with Steve Smith exiting with a lower back injury.

Offensive coordinator Marc Trestman did exactly that as Forsett carried 14 times for 71 yards in the fourth quarter and overtime of Baltimore’s 23-20 win over the Steelers. After the early-season struggles of the ground attack and injuries to Smith and Michael Campanaro as well as the absence of tight end Crockett Gillmore, the running game couldn’t have come alive at a better time.

“I was hoping that they would lean on me a little bit and give me the opportunity,” Forsett told reporters in Pittsburgh after the game. “They did so, and we were able to get some runs in and gash them a little bit. I think the run game was effective every time we were out there.”

With the Ravens down to just three receivers — Kamar Aiken, Marlon Brown, and rookie Darren Waller — late in the game, Trestman’s commitment to the running game and its productivity were the most encouraging developments of Thursday’s win. With the status of Smith, Gillmore, and Campanaro remaining murky for the Week 5 game against Cleveland, the Ravens may need to lean on their running game more than ever.

Prior to Thursday’s game, Baltimore had averaged just 3.3 yards per carry during its 0-3 start with most of that success coming from the shotgun formation against Oakland in Week 2. However, the Ravens were able to run for 191 yards on 39 attempts against the Steelers, a 4.9 yards per carry average that bested all but three of their single-game marks a season ago.

A single win doesn’t erase the worst start in franchise history, but the Ravens recapturing their 2014 success on the ground would go a long way in bringing hope as the passing game remains a work in progress. And their ability to run against a defense that had ranked 10th in the NFL against the run should provide plenty of confidence for the offensive line.

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Ravens take step forward by capitalizing on good fortune

Posted on 02 October 2015 by Luke Jones

The Ravens didn’t save their season on Thursday night, but Justin Tucker’s 52-yard field goal to top Pittsburgh in overtime was the claw of a hammer loosening the nails of their coffin.

An 0-3 team is never fixed with a single win, but the 23-20 victory over the Steelers was a step in the right direction. Though far from exceptional, the Ravens were just good enough to capitalize on some luck as well as critical mistakes by their AFC North rival.

And that’s progress after a September from hell that resulted in the worst start in franchise history.

“We know where we’re at. We know what we have to overcome,” head coach John Harbaugh said. “You can’t get two [wins] until you get one. This one was a long time coming. We’re happy to get it.”

Baltimore’s biggest stroke of good fortune came last Sunday when Ben Roethlisberger injured his knee in St. Louis, leaving the quarterbacking duties to Mike Vick on Thursday. The 35-year-old backup may not have lost the game for Pittsburgh, but he did nothing to help his team over the final 30 minutes of play on Thursday night.

Amazingly, the Steelers coaching staff kept putting the ball in his hands as he twice failed to convert fourth downs in overtime — one as a runner and another on an errant throw to All-Pro receiver Antonio Brown. How Pittsburgh offensive coordinator Todd Haley didn’t give the ball to Pro Bowl running back Le’Veon Bell — who became the first to eclipse the century mark on the ground against the Ravens defense in 30 games — in either situation is still a head-scratcher.

But the Ravens took advantage despite questionable fourth-down decisions of their own and injuries to Steve Smith and Michael Campanaro that left them with a receiving trio of Kamar Aiken, Marlon Brown, and rookie Darren Waller down the stretch. Joe Flacco shook off two costly turnovers earlier in the game to do just enough to make it work.

A defense heavily criticized for its inability to get off the field this season made several key stops, including a three-and-out late in regulation that gave Flacco and the offense a chance to drive 45 yards in the final minute to set up Tucker to make the game-tying 42-yard field goal. The secondary remains a major concern, but a pair of critical tackles by safety Will Hill in overtime and solid play from newly-acquired cornerback Will Davis were positives on which to build for a struggling unit.

The most encouraging development from Thursday’s win was the revitalization of the Ravens’ ground attack as Justin Forsett rushed for a game-high 150 yards on 27 carries. Largely ineffective in the first three weeks, the running game resembled what we saw under Gary Kubiak a year ago. With injuries at receiver and tight end and a shortage of playmakers on which Flacco can rely, the Ravens’ best hope to turn their season around will be to move the ball consistently on the ground and they did just that against a good run defense.

After mistakes, questionable decisions, and close calls for both sides throughout the night, the outcome of the game ultimately came down to which team had the better kicker. While Pittsburgh coach Mike Tomlin lost all confidence in Josh Scobee after two misses in the final three minutes of regulation and chose to go for two fourth downs in Baltimore territory in overtime, the Ravens once again enjoyed having the best kicker in the NFL.

Tucker’s 52-yard game-winner with 5:08 left in overtime was the latest kick that will allow the free-agent-to-be to put his feet up on owner Steve Bisciotti’s desk in the same way Flacco did before being paid a few years ago. Since arriving as a rookie free agent in 2012, Tucker has done everything you could ask to become the league’s highest-paid kicker and the Ravens have no choice but to reward him sooner rather than later.

They got a close look at the opposite side of the spectrum with Scobee’s misses and the Steelers’ lack of confidence in him that led to strategic changes that the Ravens took advantage of.

“In this league, most games come down to three points,” Harbaugh said. “We have a great kicker.”

Having a great kicker — and the Steelers lacking one — was the ultimate difference between the Ravens being 1-3 as opposed to 0-4 at the end of the night on Thursday. Now, they’ll feel much better about themselves as they rest up and hope for a number of injuries to heal up over the weekend before coming home to play Cleveland a week from Sunday.

Thursday’s win provided a brief exhale, but the Ravens still have a long way to go to save their season.

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Ravens-Bengals: Five predictions for Sunday

Posted on 26 September 2015 by Luke Jones


It’s a word unfamiliar to the Ravens at this early stage of a season under eighth-year head coach John Harbaugh as they find themselves 0-2 for the first time since 2005. Not only must they beat the Cincinnati Bengals to avoid the first 0-3 start in franchise history, but a Thursday road game at Pittsburgh awaits just four days later.

In other words, the Ravens know their season could be all but doomed before Columbus Day if they don’t answer the bell for these next two games. The Bengals, however, would like nothing more than to continue their recent success against the Ravens while improving to 3-0 in the young 2015 season.

It’s time to go on the record as the Ravens play Cincinnati for the 39th time in franchise history as they own a 20-18 mark. Baltimore has lost three straight and four of the last five to the Bengals, who last year handed the Ravens a season-opening loss at M&T Bank Stadium and swept the season series for the first time since 2009.

Here’s what to expect as the Ravens try to improve to 46-11 in home games under Harbaugh, the second-best mark in the NFL since 2008 …

1. As Jimmy Smith tries to lock down A.J. Green, Tyler Eifert and Giovani Bernard will present matchup problems with a combined 125 receiving yards and a touchdown. Last week was a forgettable performance for the Ravens’ top cornerback, but he will bounce back to prevent Green from singlehandedly wrecking the game. The third-year tight end Eifert is emerging as a dangerous weapon and strong safety Will Hill is dealing with a knee ailment, a worrisome combination. Eifert and Bernard matching up against Ravens linebackers will favor Cincinnati and the pair will help Andy Dalton move the chains on several occasions on Sunday.

2. The Ravens will get their running game on track as Justin Forsett rushes for 80 yards and a touchdown. Through two games, Baltimore has averaged just 2.1 yards per carry in under-center formations as Forsett has largely been bottled up. The Ravens have gained 91 yards on 13 carries from the shotgun, but that’s not a viable long-term plan, putting pressure on the offensive line to open running lanes. The Bengals defense gave up 5.2 yards per carry a week ago, and you can bet that Harbaugh wants the Ravens to get back to their roots in all phases of the game after an 0-2 start. That means heavy doses of Forsett, Lorenzo Taliaferro, and Buck Allen, and more running room will be there.

3. Elvis Dumervil will pick up his first sack of the season, but the pass rush will remain largely ineffective. The Ravens hope that Jason Babin can bring some life to a front seven missing Terrell Suggs, but putting consistent pressure on the quarterback will be an issue for the foreseeable future. Meanwhile, the Bengals offensive line hasn’t allowed a sack yet this season and the Ravens only sacked Dalton twice in two games last year with Suggs and Haloti Ngata having one each in the second meeting. Dumervil will slip by Bengals tackle Andrew Whitworth for a takedown, but this is not a good matchup for a group trying to find its way and going against a passing game that gets the ball out quickly

4. Rookie Maxx Williams will catch his first career touchdown. The offense took some encouraging steps forward last week in Oakland with Crockett Gillmore catching two touchdowns and Kamar Aiken adding 89 receiving yards to shake off a brutal first-quarter fumble, but the Ravens need their 2015 second-round tight end to become a bigger part of what they do in the passing game, especially with limited speed at the receiver position. The Bengals’ otherwise-stout defense is average at the linebacker position and offensive coordinator Marc Trestman will try to create favorable matchups for the talented but raw Williams. He’ll take advantage with a touchdown inside the red zone.

5. Joe Flacco will fight off the demons of past Cincinnati performances to lead the Ravens to a much-needed 23-21 win. These are the desperate times in which you lean on your stars, but Flacco has thrown more than twice as many career interceptions against the Bengals than any other team, making this one difficult to predict. Cincinnati is the more balanced team on paper and the early-season results for both teams speak for themselves, but Flacco plays better at home and will play an efficient game with minimal mistakes to lead the Ravens to a win. It won’t be pretty as the defense will bend plenty without breaking and the offense will struggle to finish off a few drives, but the Ravens will make just a few more plays than the Bengals to earn their first win of 2015.

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Ravens practice in San Jose with Monroe sidelined

Posted on 17 September 2015 by Luke Jones

Practicing in San Jose, Calif. ahead of their Week 2 meeting with the Oakland Raiders, the Ravens were without starting left tackle Eugene Monroe for Wednesday’s workout.

Monroe suffered a concussion in the first quarter of the season-opening loss last Sunday and remains sidelined as he goes through the league-mandated protocol. Second-year tackle James Hurst replaced him in Denver and struggled mightily against Broncos outside linebacker DeMarcus Ware all afternoon.

Wide receiver Breshad Perriman also remains out of practice as he continues to recover from a sprained knee suffered on the first day of training camp on July 30. The 2015 first-round pick is not expected to play against Oakland as his return isn’t imminent until he can at least begin accumulating some practice time.

The good news for the Ravens on Wednesday was the full participation of both defensive tackle Timmy Jernigan (knee) and running back Lorenzo Taliaferro (knee). Both appear to be good bets to return to action on Sunday after suffering their respective injuries in the preseason and practicing on a limited basis last week.

Cornerback Rashaan Melvin (thigh) and running back Justin Forsett (shoulder) were limited participants during Wednesday’s workout.

Meanwhile, the Raiders received good news with Derek Carr (right hand) practicing fully, which reinforced head coach Jack Del Rio’s expressed optimism earlier in the day that the second-year quarterback would play this week.

In addition to officially announcing the signing of veteran outside linebacker Jason Babin — who will wear No. 56 — and the placement of injured linebacker Terrell Suggs on season-ending injured reserve, the Ravens terminated the practice-squad contract of quarterback Bryn Renner and signed offensive tackle Tony Hills to the 10-man unit. The 30-year-old has played in 13 career NFL games and joins De’Ondre Wesley as the second offensive tackle on the practice squad, perhaps a reflection of the uncertainty surrounding Monroe’s status for Sunday.

Below is Wednesday’s official injury report:

DID NOT PARTICIPATE: T Eugene Monroe (concussion), WR Breshad Perriman (knee)
LIMITED PARTICIPATION: RB Justin Forsett (shoulder), CB Rashaan Melvin (thigh)
FULL PARTICIPATION: DT Timmy Jernigan (knee), RB Lorenzo Taliaferro (knee)

DID NOT PARTICIPATE: DT Justin Ellis (ankle), DE Benson Mayowa (knee), RB Jamize Olawale (ankle), S Charles Woodson (shoulder)
FULL PARTICIPATION: QB Derek Carr (right hand)

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Five numbers behind Ravens’ 19-13 loss in Denver

Posted on 15 September 2015 by Luke Jones

Every week, we’ll ponder five numbers stemming from the Ravens’ latest game, this one being the ugly 19-13 loss to Denver to begin the 2015 season …

3.66 — Joe Flacco’s yards per attempt
Skinny: The pass protection was awful and his pass-catching targets were unable to create separation, making it no surprise that the eighth-year quarterback couldn’t throw the ball down the field. This was Flacco’s worst yards per attempt average since a loss in Houston on Oct. 21, 2012 (3.42) and the third-worst mark of his NFL regular-season career. His worst overall came in the 2009 playoff win over New England when a banged-up Flacco went 4-for-10 for 34 yards, a 3.40 average.

9 — Total catches made by Ravens receivers and tight ends
Skinny: Many expressed concerns over Flacco’s group of young receivers and tight ends, and Sunday proved to be a nightmare as even Steve Smith managed just two catches for 13 yards and couldn’t bring in the potential game-winning touchdown on the Ravens’ penultimate play of the game. Fellow starter Kamar Aiken was even worse as he lost a yard on his only reception. With or without rookie Breshad Perriman, this group needs to be markedly better for Baltimore to make any real noise this year.

27 — Consecutive games in which the Ravens defense hasn’t allowed a 100-yard rusher
Skinny: It was an impressive effort on the other side of the ball as the Ravens continued the longest active streak in the NFL of not allowing an opposing player to eclipse the century mark on the ground. With Brandon Williams dominating the line of scrimmage and C.J. Mosley and Daryl Smith at the inside linebacker spots, the Ravens have to like their chances to keep this streak going. Meanwhile, the Broncos will need to average much better than 2.8 yards per carry to help Peyton Manning’s deteriorating arm.

56 — Yards of offense from Justin Forsett
Skinny: The 2014 Pro Bowl running back didn’t have much of a chance behind a less-than-stellar performance from the offensive line, but his output was lower than all but two of his regular-season games a year ago. Forsett’s numbers would have been even worse if not for his 20-yard run on the final drive of the game. With Buck Allen showing some promise in limited opportunities and Lorenzo Taliaferro possibly returning this Sunday, it will be interesting to see how the carries are distributed.

291 — Consecutive games (counting the postseason) in which Ray Lewis, Ed Reed, or Terrell Suggs has been on the field for Baltimore
Skinny: The 2015 opener brought the unfortunate end of a remarkable run in franchise history with Suggs suffering a season-ending Achilles injury in the fourth quarter. This Sunday will mark the first time that the Ravens will play a game without any of the three best defensive players in their history since Oct. 11, 1998 when Eric Zeier was the quarterback and they lost 12-8 to the Tennessee Oilers as Lewis sat out with a dislocated elbow. Nothing lasts forever, but it’s strange thinking about the old guard of Baltimore defense that also included Haloti Ngata being no more — at least until next year.

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Five questions pondering Ravens hype, running backs, pass rush, more

Posted on 04 September 2015 by Luke Jones

Every Friday, I’ll ponder five topics related to the Ravens or Orioles (or a mix of both).

Five questions …

1. Is it just me or is Sports Illustrated picking the Ravens to win the Super Bowl a reflection of an AFC without a dominant team? Before you call me Lambasting Luke, I’m still betting on John Harbaugh and Joe Flacco to lead Baltimore to its seventh postseason appearance in eight years and I’ll buy that the Ravens could be very dangerous come January. But this is also a football team that lost a five-time Pro Bowl defensive tackle, starting wide receiver, starting tight end, and impact pass rusher in the offseason, and their replacements are currently injured, unproven, or a combination of both. The secondary still lacks depth to make you feel comfortable and the return game is an absolute mess. To be clear, all teams have issues and question marks every season, but starting the season with five of their first seven games on the road isn’t a comfortable proposition with so much early uncertainty. Looking at it objectively, Ravens fans have no reason to feel slighted by the national media this summer.

2. Is it just me or should we probably not be surprised about the concern at the wide receiver position beyond Steve Smith? I’m as guilty as anyone for buying into the hype of a young group of receivers competing for roster spots this summer. No one predicted the knee injury to first-round rookie Breshad Perriman to linger so long, but the receivers behind him failed to quell concerns that Smith would be Flacco’s only trusted target entering the year. Perhaps we need to be more realistic in looking where these players came from when projecting how much impact they can bring. Kamar Aiken, Marlon Brown, and Jeremy Butler were all undrafted, and Michael Campanaro (seventh) and Darren Waller (sixth) are late-round picks. Yes, teams are uncovering more and more gems who are drafted late (Pittsburgh’s Antonio Brown in the sixth round) or undrafted entirely (Victor Cruz of the New York Giants), but the Ravens have always struggled to draft and develop useful receivers.

3. Is it just me or could the Ravens’ consideration for giving Brent Urban the designation to return reflect vulnerabilities with their pass rush? The organization remains high on the 6-foot-7 defensive end’s potential, but we’re still talking about someone who’s never played as much as an NFL preseason game. The Ravens hope that rookie Za’Darius Smith can step into the hybrid role formerly occupied by Pernell McPhee, but they were hoping Steven Means could bring pass-rush impact before a groin injury ruined his summer. Teams do often use their I.R.-designated to return spot for role players — Asa Jackson received it last year, for example — but that typically occurs a few weeks into the season when you’re getting to a point where you won’t be able to use it waiting any longer. Terrell Suggs and Elvis Dumervil are still forces off the edge and Timmy Jernigan shows rush ability when healthy, but the Ravens may view Urban as a high-ceiling — and necessary? — wild card later this year.

4. Is it just me or is it scary to think the Ravens’ only sure thing at running back is currently Justin Forsett? Rookie fourth-round Buck Allen has shown good hands catching passes out of the backfield, but the USC product averaged just 2.5 yards per carry in the preseason and is now the No. 2 running back with Lorenzo Taliaferro out with a sprained MCL. Terrence Magee and Fitz Toussaint had a few solid moments this summer, but neither are the type of back who inspires confidence, making you wonder if Ozzie Newsome needs to explore the market for a veteran addition in the coming days. Taliaferro’s injury was the last thing the Ravens needed with so many questions at receiver and tight end, but the good news is that they should feel confident in finding a veteran to run behind one of the best offensive lines in the NFL. Still, who would have imagined a year ago that Forsett would not only be coming off a Pro Bowl season, but he would represent the only sure thing in the backfield entering 2015?

5. Is it just me or are halftime interviews completely worthless? Harbaugh drew plenty of criticism for his halftime interview in the third preseason game and rightly so as he needs to be better than that with both media and — more importantly — the fans with which he’s indirectly speaking in the process. The coach’s unkind words for Comcast SportsNet’s Brent Harris prompted many to compare him to brother Jim, who is clearly viewed as the more surly Harbaugh. With those sentiments understood, can you recall a time when a halftime interview brought anything memorable besides similar meltdowns by coaches or players? We live in an age where we want as much access as possible, but it seems counterintuitive to ask a coach or player to reflect meaningfully in the midst of competition. Perhaps a compromise would be to interview a coach just before the start of the second half after he’s addressed his team and has calmed his emotions from the first half, but the next halftime interview I hear bringing anything but bland coach speak or an unflattering exchange will be the first one.

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Taliaferro to miss “a few weeks” with knee injury

Posted on 24 August 2015 by Luke Jones

OWINGS MILLS, Md. — Ravens running back Lorenzo Taliaferro is expected to miss the start of the regular season after sustaining a right knee injury in Saturday’s preseason loss to the Philadelphia Eagles.

The second-year back suffered a sprained medial collateral ligament while making a tackle on Joe Flacco’s second interception late in the first quarter of the 40-17 defeat. On Monday morning, Taliaferro posted a message on Twitter suggesting he would miss significant time because of the injury.

“He’s going to be out for a few weeks,” head coach John Harbaugh said. “It’s an MCL sprain. I don’t have a degree on it yet, but it’s going to be a few weeks for Lorenzo. Some of those young guys are going to step up in the immediate future.”

Leading the competition to serve as the primary backup to 2014 Pro Bowl selection Justin Forsett, Taliaferro carried four times for eight yards on Saturday before leaving the game. The 2014 fourth-round pick gained 292 yards and four touchdowns on 68 carries before a foot injury ended his rookie season in mid-December.

Taliaferro’s absence opens the door for rookie Buck Allen to become the No. 2 running back behind Forsett. Selected in the fourth round of this spring’s draft, the USC product rushed six times for 19 yards and made two receptions for 25 yards against the Eagles.

“He has done a nice job competing, working hard every day to get better [and] to get more comfortable in our offense,” running backs coach Thomas Hammock said. “He obviously has great hands. He has good vision. We’re trying to get him more comfortable as a pass protector, and he goes out there and performs when his number is called.”

With Taliaferro sidelined for the foreseeable future, the Ravens will likely be looking to keep an extra running back behind Forsett and Allen, leaving the door open for Fitz Toussaint and Terrence Magee.

A rookie free agent from LSU, Magee led Baltimore in rushing on Saturday, gaining 44 yards on 11 carries. The 5-foot-9, 215-pound running back has shown an impressive burst and good field vision during practices this summer.

“He was a north-south runner, low to the ground, powerful dude,” said Harbaugh of Magee’s performance against Philadelphia. “Just how he ran in college is how you saw him run the other night. It’s nice when you see that transfer from the college game to this level. It was good to see.”

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2015 Ravens training camp preview: Running backs

Posted on 22 July 2015 by Luke Jones

With the Ravens beginning their 20th training camp in franchise history this month, expectations are high for John Harbaugh’s team as they eye their seventh trip to the postseason in eight years.

As veterans report to Owings Mills on July 29th and the first full-squad workout takes place the following day, we’ll examine each position group entering the summer.

July 20: Quarterbacks
July 21: Defensive line
July 22: Running backs
July 23: Linebackers
July 24: Wide receivers
July 25: Tight ends
July 26: Cornerbacks
July 27: Offensive line
July 28: Safeties
July 29: Specialists

Below is a look at the Baltimore running backs:

LOCK: Justin Forsett, Kyle Juszczyk, Lorenzo Taliaferro, Buck Allen
BUBBLE: Fitz Toussaint
LONG SHOT: Kiero Small, Terrence Magee

Synopsis: It’s still strange to think how much this unit has changed from only a couple years ago when Ray Rice and Bernard Pierce appeared on track to being one of the best running back duos in the NFL, but the Ravens should feel very good about the current group. We saw last year that Justin Forsett was a perfect fit for their zone-blocking schemes and you won’t find a better mentor for the other young backs on the roster than the 29-year-old. It will be interesting to see what impact new offensive coordinator Marc Trestman has on the running backs after Matt Forte caught 176 passes out of the backfield over the last two years in Chicago. With the entire offensive line returning, there’s little reason to think this group can’t succeed in 2015 with Lorenzo Taliaferro and Buck Allen competing behind Forsett for carries.

One to watch: The Ravens selecting Allen in the fourth round should grab the attention of Taliaferro, who had a solid rookie season cut short by a foot injury. Reporting to spring workouts looking leaner and faster, Taliaferro figures to have the early advantage for the No. 2 job after rushing for 292 yards and four touchdowns on 68 carries as a rookie. The Coastal Carolina product still must prove he can thrive in a one-cut, zone-blocking system, but his ability in short-yardage situations figures to only improve with experience under his belt.

One on notice: Kyle Juszczyk will need to prove he fits in Trestman’s offense, which didn’t feature much use for a fullback in Chicago. The Harvard product caught 19 passes out of the backfield in his second season, but fumbles did not land him in the good graces of the coaching staff. It also doesn’t help Juszczyk that the Ravens have so many young tight ends, which will likely limit his opportunities as a receiver. Kiero Small wouldn’t figure to provide much of a threat to Juszczyk, but this year will probably go a long way in determining whether the 2013 fourth-round pick is a long-term fit in Baltimore.

Sleeper: Fitz Toussaint wouldn’t figure to have a great chance to make the roster strictly as a running back, but the Ravens’ gaping hole in the return game could improve his chances. The Michigan product worked as a kick returner in the spring and should be in the mix during training camp and the preseason. The Ravens thought enough of Toussaint to not only promote him from the practice squad last year, but he even began receiving some carries, which illustrated how much they liked him as well as the immense disappointment that Pierce was in his final season with Baltimore.

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Ten starters missing from Wednesday’s voluntary OTA workout

Posted on 03 June 2015 by Luke Jones

OWINGS MILLS, Md. — In the midst of their second week of organized team activities, the Ravens were missing 10 starters during their voluntary workout on Thursday afternoon.

Cornerbacks Jimmy Smith and Lardarius Webb, linebackers Terrell Suggs, Daryl Smith, and Elvis Dumervil, defensive end Chris Canty, and offensive linemen Jeremy Zuttah (offseason hip surgery), Eugene Monroe, Marshal Yanda, and Rick Wagner (foot) were all missing from the field as media observed practice. Jimmy Smith and Daryl Smith were both present for the first voluntary workout open to media last week.

In addition to second-year wide receiver Michael Campanaro (quadriceps) already being sidelined until training camp, the Ravens confirmed wideout Aldrick Robinson suffered a Grade 2 medial collateral ligament sprain that will keep him out for the remainder of the spring.

Starting left guard Kelechi Osemele was present and working after he was absent for last Thursday’s practice.

Tight end Dennis Pitta was once again catching passes and working on an individual basis as he tries to come back from two serious right hip injuries in the last two years.

Perhaps the biggest surprise of the spring has been the progress of safety Terrence Brooks (knee), who increased his activity level from the previous week and took part in some team drills on Thursday. The 2014 third-round pick suffered a torn anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee last December, but he appears to be ahead of schedule after team officials said repeatedly in the offseason that he would begin the season on the physically unable to perform list and may not be able to play this year.

The star of Thursday’s practice was wide receiver Kamar Aiken, who was working opposite veteran Steve Smith in the starting offense. Aiken made a series of impressive catches as he tries to build from his surprising 2014 season in which he rose from anonymity to catch 24 passes for 267 yards and three touchdowns in the regular season before adding another touchdown catch in the divisional playoff loss to New England.

Rookie Breshad Perriman saw most of his reps with the second-string offense, which isn’t surprising considering the Ravens historically defer to veteran players in positional battles during the spring and the early portion of training camp. During 11-on-11 team drills, the 2015 first-round pick made a nice adjustment on a seam route to catch an underthrown pass by backup quarterback Matt Schaub.

After missing last Thursday’s workout to attend his grandfather’s funeral, defensive end Brent Urban was active along the defensive line, at one point drawing the ire of head coach John Harbaugh for getting too close to the quarterback in a non-contact situation.

“It was Brent’s second time, so he was sent to his room for a couple of plays,” said Harbaugh as he laughed after practice. “He was a little too close, and then he was celebrating it. That’s what sent me over the edge. It’s like, ‘Do you understand what we’re doing here?’ But he has practiced really well.”

Now practicing fully after suffering a season-ending torn ACL in last summer’s training camp, Urban will be competing with Canty for the starting 5-technique defensive end job this summer.

Harbaugh said the Ravens hope to finalize their travel plans later this week for two instances of back-to-back road games out west during the regular season.

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Five questions pondering Forsett, Orioles corner outfielders, others

Posted on 24 April 2015 by Luke Jones

Every Friday, I’ll ponder five topics related to the Orioles or Ravens (or a mix of both).

Five questions …

1. Is it just me or are we once again too quick to doubt Justin Forsett? I understand skepticism about a running back who will turn 30 in October and is coming off a career season, but there’s too much discussion about finding his replacement considering the Ravens still don’t know who will be starting at a wide receiver spot or at tight end. Yes, it will be a tall order for Forsett to duplicate his 5.4 yards per carry average from 2014, but we are still talking about a back who averaged 4.9 yards per carry in his career prior to last season and has less wear and tear on his body than the typical player his age. For those who wanted to give the offensive line most of the credit for Forsett’s dream season, why is Melvin Gordon or Todd Gurley that attractive in the first round then? It makes sense for the Ravens to look at the running back position in the middle rounds, but I’ll be underwhelmed if a running back is the pick at 26th overall next Thursday night.

2. Is it just me or has Steve Pearce been buried too quickly? Make no mistake, the great story of the 2014 season is off to an awful start with a .507 on-base plus slugging percentage in 52 plate appearances, but I’m surprised to see manager Buck Showalter only give him one start in the last five games. It made sense to keep the red-hot Jimmy Paredes in the lineup, but I’m not sure why Alejandro De Aza (prior to Thursday night) and Chris Davis were automatically penciled into the lineup over that time. I said throughout the winter that asking Pearce to duplicate his .930 OPS from last season would be too much, but it’s not a good look for the organization to have him on the bench this early after he was often mentioned as a reason why money wasn’t spent to retain Nick Markakis or Nelson Cruz.

3. Is it just me or did Jimmy Smith’s injury history play a large part in the Ravens re-signing the cornerback now? It’s fair to acknowledge the risk in investing $21 million guaranteed in a player who’s missed 17 games over his first four seasons, but that played into general manager Ozzie Newsome and the Ravens retaining Smith at a reasonable cost. A simple look at the $25.5 million guaranteed that the Philadelphia Eagles gave free agent Byron Maxwell — the former Seattle cornerback with all of 17 career starts — last month made it obvious Smith could have commanded much more on the open market next offseason. But it made sense for both sides to gain some long-term security as the Ravens couldn’t afford to let their top cornerback walk and Smith couldn’t risk a slow start coming back from a foot injury to hinder his market value. The Ravens will now keep their fingers crossed that this deal works out better than the 2012 extension they gave to Lardarius Webb.

4. Is it just me or are the Orioles’ issues at the corner outfield spots making you pay attention to Nolan Reimold in the minors? I don’t expect the 31-year-old to be the answer, but watching De Aza, Travis Snider, and David Lough make such cringe-worthy fundamental mistakes over the last week has me concerned about the corner outfield positions. Reimold has followed up his excellent spring with an unspectacular start at Triple-A Norfolk (.250/.333/.393), but he’s drawn seven walks and hit his second homer of the season on Thursday. Those numbers aren’t exactly beating down the door for a promotion, but the aforementioned names aren’t undisputed everyday players, either. It’s wishful thinking, but Reimold’s plate discipline and speed could eventually warrant a shot in the leadoff spot, which has produced more strikeouts and fewer walks than any other slot in the order for the Orioles.

5. Is it just me or did John Harbaugh provide some much-needed common sense and historical context in his essay about football? Kudos to the Ravens head coach for this impassioned piece about a game that’s increasingly under attack in the 21st century. Harbaugh struck a fine balance in acknowledging real concerns about the game that must be addressed while reminding us of the redeeming qualities of football that we shouldn’t be so quick to dismiss or eliminate. Perhaps it’s the fact that I played nine years of football growing up and still maintain friendships with former teammates going all the way back to elementary school, but research, historical context, and thoughtfulness are more constructive than the fear-mongering we too often see about so many issues facing society. As Harbaugh wrote, the game needs to improve, but let’s not ignore the values it has taught many of us along the way.

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