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The Five Plays That Determined The Game: Ravens/Bengals

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The Five Plays That Determined The Game: Ravens/Bengals

Posted on 12 November 2013 by Glenn Clark

Following every Baltimore Ravens game this season, Ryan Chell and I will take to the airwaves Tuesdays on “The Reality Check” on AM1570 WNST.net with a segment known as “The Five Plays That Determined The Game.”

It’s a simple concept. We’ll select five plays from each game that determined the outcome. These five plays will best represent why the Ravens won or lost each game.

This will be our final analysis of the previous game before switching gears towards the next game on the schedule.

Here are the five plays that determined the Ravens’ 20-17 (OT) win over the Cincinnati Bengals Sunday at M&T Bank Stadium…

(Note: not all pictures are always of actual play)

Glenn Clark’s Plays…

5. Justin Tucker 46 yard field goal good (Overtime)

4. James Ihedigbo 37 yard return of Andy Dalton interception intended for Tyler Eifert, Mohamed Sanu called for 11 yard personal foul (2nd quarter)

3. Reggie Nelson draws 48 yard pass interference on Joe Flacco pass intended for Jacoby Jones (1st down)

2. Terrell Suggs and Corey Graham tackle Andy Dalton for no gain on 4th & 1 (1st down)

1. Giovani Bernard -11 yard catch from Andy Dalton on 4th down, tackled by Corey Graham (Overtime)



(Continued on Page 2…)

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Our Ravens/Bengals “Pats on the Ass”

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Our Ravens/Bengals “Pats on the Ass”

Posted on 10 November 2013 by Glenn Clark

After every Baltimore Ravens victory, Ryan Chell and I take to the airwaves on “The Creative Deck Designs Postgame Show” on AM1570 WNST.net to offer “Pats on the Ass” to players who have done something to deserve the honor.

We give pats to two defensive players, two offensive players and one “Wild Card”-either another offensive or defensive player, a Special Teams player or a coach. We offer a “Pat on Both Cheeks” to someone who stands out, our version of a “Player of the Game.” Ryan and I select five different players/coaches each.

Here are our “Pats on the Ass” following the Ravens’ 20-17 (OT) win over the Cincinnati Bengals Sunday at M&T Bank Stadium…

Glenn’s Pats…

5. Ed Dickson

 

4. Justin Tucker

3. Torrey Smith

 

2. Elvis Dumervil

1. Lardarius Webb (Pat on Both Cheeks)

 

(Ryan’s Pats on Page 2…)

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Ravens escape Bengals despite offensive slumber party

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Ravens escape Bengals despite offensive slumber party

Posted on 10 November 2013 by Drew Forrester

There are two ways to look at Sunday’s 20-17 Baltimore win over Cincinnati.

Season saved.

Or, torture extended.

Honestly, I’m thinking we’re a lot closer to torture-extended than saving the season, but that’s why they play the games.

I’ll just ask the question directly instead of beating around the bush:  This Ravens offense can’t possibly be good enough to win six more games between now and New Years, right?

I don’t see how it can happen.

They can’t run the ball.  Anywhere.  And the passing game, while decent enough at times, just can’t prop up a one-dimensional offense like the one the Ravens are utilizing these days.

Now, this takes nothing at all away from the overtime win over the Bengals.  A loss by the Ravens – after being up 17-0 – would have been about as disappointing as The Hangover 3.  And, with the win, the season and hopes for a rebound in the second half are alive and well, despite the offensive ineptness.

A win IS a win, no matter how many times we’ve heard that over the years.

And, we’ve heard it a lot.

But, it’s true.  The standings will reflect that Baltimore won on Sunday to improve to 4-5 and the Bengals lost to fall to 6-4.  Bellyaching about the team’s offense – like I just did above – won’t change those facts.  Lamenting about James Ihedigbo’s mental error on the game’s final play of regulation won’t alter the outcome, either.

I assume Bengals fans might want to wring Marvin Lewis’s neck for a series of bizarre decisions throughout the afternoon, but none will be talked about more than his decision to take the overtime kick off and give the Ravens the choice of which end zone to defend.  It essentially flipped the field on Cincy in OT, as they elected not to try and kick a 50 yard field goal into the windswept end and instead went for it on 4th and 2 from the Baltimore 33 yard line.  When the Bengals lost 11 yards on the play, the Ravens got the ball on their own 44 yard line.  Even a bad Baltimore offense can scoot the ball along 25 yards without coughing it up, which is exactly what happened to give Tucker his 46 yard game-winner.

Lewis will regret not punting on 4th and 2.  And he’ll be questioned about taking the ball to start overtime and giving the Ravens the easy end of the field to work with, wind-wise.  That said, neither of those elements dwarf his team’s biggest problem on Sunday:  Andy Dalton stunk up the joint.  If he’s a championship quarterback, I’m the lead singer for Alice in Chains.

Truthfully, from the first whistle until Green’s miracle grab on the final play, the Bengals had zero business even being in the game.  They were disjointed, undisciplined and largely more interested in accumulating penalty flags than points throughout most of the afternoon.  It wasn’t until Baltimore’s offense fizzled in the final two minutes of the game that the visitors even had a breath of life.

If ever the Ravens grabbed victory from the jaws of defeat, Sunday’s game did just that.

And that’s after they allowed the Bengals to meander their way back into the contest when it looked like they weren’t all that interested in doing so.

That’s what happens when your offense can’t put teams away.

And that’s how it goes when you’re playing with fire defensively, knowing any small mistake can put your team behind the eight ball.

The Ravens outplayed the Bengals on Sunday.

It wasn’t an ass kicking or anything, but the Baltimore defense manned up all afternoon and put John Harbaugh’s team in position for a relatively easy win.

Then, the Baltimore offense stalled.

Again.

And the whole thing got a lot closer than it needed to get.

This Ravens team – as a whole – just doesn’t appear to be all that good.  But, they’re 4-5 and still alive in the race for an AFC playoff spot.  A win in Chicago next week and they’re still very much in the thick of things.

Let’s see if the offense makes the trip to Soldier Field.

If it doesn’t, we won’t be crowing about “a win is a win” this time next Sunday night.

 

 

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The Five Plays That Determined The Game: Ravens/Steelers

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The Five Plays That Determined The Game: Ravens/Steelers

Posted on 22 October 2013 by Glenn Clark

Following every Baltimore Ravens game this season, Ryan Chell and I will take to the airwaves Tuesdays on “The Reality Check” on AM1570 WNST.net with a segment known as “The Five Plays That Determined The Game.”

It’s a simple concept. We’ll select five plays from each game that determined the outcome. These five plays will best represent why the Ravens won or lost each game.

This will be our final analysis of the previous game before switching gears towards the next game on the schedule.

Here are the five plays that determined the Ravens’ 19-16 loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers Sunday at Heinz Field…

(Note: not all pictures are always of actual play)

Glenn Clark’s Plays…

5. Bernard Pierce tackled by Lawrence Timmons and Steve McLendon for one yard loss on 3rd & 1 (1st quarter)

You cannot start a 3rd & 1 run five yards behind the line of scrimmage. Oy.

4. Lamar Woodley sacks Joe Flacco for 10 yard loss on 3rd & 8 from Pittsburgh 34 (2nd quarter)

It would have been a long field goal attempt, but I’d rather that than a punt.

3. William Gay breaks up Joe Flacco pass intended for Jacoby Jones on 3rd & 12 (3rd quarter)

Man did that one really bother me watching the film again Monday. Very close to six.

2. Elvis Dumervil called for unnecessary roughness after Jerricho Cotchery 7 yard catch from Ben Roethlisberger (3rd quarter)

From 2nd & 17 to an eight minute drive.

1. Vince Williams recovers Justin Tucker onside kick attempt, Tucker flagged for illegal touching (4th quarter)

The decision was questionable. The execution was putrid.

(Continued on Page 2…)

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Suggs sums it up well with his “emergency” commentary

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Suggs sums it up well with his “emergency” commentary

Posted on 21 October 2013 by Drew Forrester

Terrell Suggs called it a “state of emergency”.

I love it.

That’s why he’s a champion.

Only in Baltimore would two consecutive losses translate to an emergency situation, but that’s the scenario facing the Ravens now as they start the season 3-4 heading into their annual bye week.

I watched Suggs in the locker room after Sunday’s loss in Pittsburgh.  He really was, as he said, “disgusted” with the loss to an obviously struggling Steelers team.  It wasn’t acting.  Suggs was truly aggravated.

More players should take the Ravens-Steelers rivalry personally like he does.

Then again, there are only a handful of guys left on the roster who have served the entire Harbaugh-Flacco era and “been there, done that” with regard to the Ravens-Steelers showdowns we see twice – sometimes more – a season.  The games against Pittsburgh over the last six seasons have been wildly memorable.  Some of have ended the Ravens season.  A couple have been so improbable you wished the two teams would play every other week.

There’s nothing worse than losing to the Steelers, particularly when they’re not very good.

That, all by itself, constitutes a state of emergency, I suppose.

————————————————————–

I’m always amazed at how folks who are relatively intelligent and played sports (I assume) as a youth or adult suddenly become stupid when discussing the Ravens.

Time and time again, and it’s going to happen a lot today and this week, watch and see, folks want to pin a loss on ONE person.  They’ll take one play, one moment, one decision, one “thing” and weave that into an outrageous theme that “xxxx cost us the game”.

If you know anything at all about sports, you know that’s just not the way it works.

But, people in Baltimore will gather ’round the water-cooler today and blame Sunday’s loss on Harbaugh – as an example – for calling for an onsides kick with thirteen minutes left in the game.  They’ll conveniently forget how the Steelers previously-horrible running game gashed the Ravens defense for 141 yards.  They’ll dismiss the fact that Elvis Dumervil had two huge penalties on one drive that squarely put Pittsburgh in easy field goal range.  They’ll elect to not remember the kick-off return with 1:58 to play that set-up the game-winning field goal by Shaun Suisham.  And, of course, they won’t give any credit at all to the Steelers, who, as we know, also have players on scholarship — just like the Ravens.

People who aren’t very smart just LOVE to pick out one person and play the blame game.  They did it with Billy Cundiff a couple of years ago in the New England playoff game…when, in fact, it was Lee Evans who cost the Ravens the game with his end zone drop. (See what I did there?)

Citing one person or one play is about the dumbest thing you can do as a sports fan.

I guess the joke’s on me — I’ve been doing this radio thing for twelve “seasons” now.  You assume at some point I’d just figure out that people watch sports, know sports and love sports…but that doesn’t necessarily mean they can opine smartly about sports.

—————————————————

I hope I’m wrong on this one.

I’ll be very happy if I am.

Kelechi Osemele won’t finish the season.

His back, which he admitted after Sunday night’s game will need post-season surgery, isn’t going to hold up much longer.  A lot of national experts have talked about his poor play this season as a connector to the Ravens woeful running game.  That’s fair, I guess, since one of his strengths a year ago was run blocking.  But, his poor play is more about health than anything else.  His back is really bothering him and week by week it’s starting to show more.  The problem?  There’s no one else to throw in there right now.  So, he just keeps on playing.

I hope he’s playing in late December.

But, I don’t see how he will be.

———————————————————–

For those wondering – and it’s a VERY fair question – the game plan was for Justin Tucker to kick the ball out of play on the kick-off that led to the game-winning drive by the Steelers.

He lost his footing on the turf as he drove into the ball, just as he did on the opening kick-off, which almost went of bounds.

That sort of “event”, while unplanned, simply can’t happen in a tight game where you’re trying to pin the opposition on their own 20-yard line.

——————————————————–

Indianapolis, this season, now has wins over San Francisco, Seattle and Denver.

Enough said.

 

 

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Ravens: Offense and defense both get blame in 3-point loss at Pittsburgh

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Ravens: Offense and defense both get blame in 3-point loss at Pittsburgh

Posted on 20 October 2013 by Drew Forrester

Tough loss.

At the worst time.

And, like the one last week against Green Bay, it was there for the taking.

Sunday’s 19-16 loss in Pittsburgh – against a mediocre-at-best Steelers team – will sting for a lot longer than the 45-minute flight home later tonight.

The Ravens are in unfamiliar territory now, dropping two straight games heading into the bye and sitting at 3-4 as the halfway point of the season approaches.

John Harbaugh, Joe Flacco, Terrell Suggs and the rest of the men in purple have their work cut out for the next ten weeks or so, that’s for certain.

Once again on Sunday, the Ravens offense failed to do anything for the first 50 minutes of the game.

Then, like last week against the Packers, they suddenly came to life with a championship-type-drive late in the 4th quarter to knot the game at 16-16.

Unfortunately, it was also “just like last week” for the defense, who surrendered a huge throw to Jermichael Finley late in the Packers game that sealed their fate and allowed 39 yards in the final two minutes of Sunday’s game at Pittsburgh to put the Steelers in position to nail the game-winning field goal.

That’s been the story of the last two weeks, in particular, and most of the season, really.

Offense:  not very good for most of the game, comes to life late.

Defense: decent for most of the game, runs out of gas late and gives up a huge drive.

In fairness to Baltimore’s offense on Sunday, do you know how many possessions they had in 60 minutes of football?

Think about it for a second — in four quarters against the Steelers, how many offensive series’ did Flacco have at his disposal?

Ready?

SEVEN.

They had seven offensive possessions in four quarters and scored on four of them; three FG’s and a TD.

The reason they only had seven?  For starters, they gave one of them away with a third-quarter onsides kick attempt that wasn’t all that bad of an idea, honestly.  They just needed better execution, which means, basically, that Jeromy Miles can’t be offside on the play.  Even though Justin Tucker was flagged for touching the ball before it went ten yards, Miles was flagged for offsides, which would have negated the play had it been successful.

And the bigger reason why they only had seven offensive possessions?  The Ravens defense just can’t get the other team off the field without yielding a 12-play, 10-minute drive of some sort.

Pittsburgh, too, only had seven offensive series’ on Sunday, but not once did they go 3-and-out.  In fact, five of their seven offensive possessions were eight plays or more.

On the final drive, Baltimore just couldn’t get a defensive stop when they needed it.  Just like last week against Green Bay.

The back-breaker of the whole affair wasn’t even an offensive or defensive play.  After the Ravens had tied the game with 1:58 to play, Emmanuel Sanders promptly took the ball six yards deep in his end zone and ran it back out to his own 37 yard line, scampering past the Ravens’ kick-coverage contain player who was supposed to seal the sideline but failed to do so.  Starting in decent position, Ben Roethlisberger connected on three big passing plays and before you could blink, Shaun Suisham was lining up for the game-winner from 42 yards out.

In review, at the seven game mark, the biggest issue continues to be the team’s offense.  Even with the no-huddle effort on Sunday, they looked lethargic and lacking the big play explosiveness you would expect from a unit with a QB who can throw it sixty yards like you and I can throw it twenty.  They ran the ball for 82 yards, which looks like an improvement over recent weeks, but still have lots of work to do in that department between now and New Year’s.

Defensively, the Steelers penetrated the Ravens front seven time and time again with their own hard-nosed running style and Roethlisberger was his typical, scrambling self, finding receivers who had created enough separation to get the ball buzzed into them in tight quarters.

Baltimore’s defense, while decent enough “stats wise” this season, just isn’t adept enough at getting opposing offenses off the field quickly.  Case in point on Sunday:  the Steelers punted the ball one time all afternoon.

So, it’s back to the drawing board for Harbaugh and his coaching staff.  The biggest benefit for the Ravens?  They haven’t yet played the division leading Bengals, so they’ll have two swipes at them between now and their 16th game.

That said, if the offense can’t play better in the first 50 minutes and if the defense can’t play better in the final 10 minutes, those two showdowns with Cincinnati might not matter at all.

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Our Ravens/Dolphins “Pats on the Ass”

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Our Ravens/Dolphins “Pats on the Ass”

Posted on 06 October 2013 by Glenn Clark

After every Baltimore Ravens victory, Ryan Chell and I take to the airwaves on “The Creative Deck Designs Postgame Show” on AM1570 WNST.net to offer “Pats on the Ass” to players who have done something to deserve the honor.

We give pats to two defensive players, two offensive players and one “Wild Card”-either another offensive or defensive player, a Special Teams player or a coach. We offer a “Pat on Both Cheeks” to someone who stands out, our version of a “Player of the Game.” Ryan and I select five different players/coaches each.

Here are our “Pats on the Ass” following the Ravens’ 26-23 win over the Miami Dolphins Sunday at SunLife Stadium…

Glenn’s Pats…

5. Ed Dickson

4. Courtney Upshaw

3. Justin Tucker

2. Lardarius Webb

1. Torrey Smith (Pat on both cheeks)

(Continued on Page 2…)

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MobTown Sports Beat Monday Ravens Roundup

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MobTown Sports Beat Monday Ravens Roundup

Posted on 23 September 2013 by Thyrl Nelson

 

The Ravens improved to 2-1 on the season yesterday with a one-sided, 30-9 win over the Houston Texans. After the way that the Texans handled the Ravens last season, there were a number of reasons to be concerned beforehand. Truth be told, I had a much worse feeling about what might happen against Houston than I did before the beat down the Ravens suffered in Denver in Week1. Hindsight however is 20/20, so here’s a quick rundown of what we know now after the Ravens latest victory:

5. Justin Tucker is Back on Track

…for now at least. Maybe it was the reception that Billy Cundiff received from the Ravens faithful last week that had Tucker out of sorts. Maybe it was just the presence of Cundiff in the building that infected Tucker’s right foot last Sunday. Regardless, Tucker made enough big kicks in his rookie year to have some equity built up with fans. That equity though wouldn’t have lasted through too many 0-for-2 performances like he had last week vs. Cleveland, especially if those misses began to cost the Ravens games.

While concern over the kicking game was mild at most, it was nice to see Tucker get back on track with a 3-for-3 game against the Texans, hitting from 28, 45 and 43 yards. Even though the two from 40+ came in late, low leverage situations, any concerns fans had about the Ravens kicking game can be shelved…for now.

4. Dirty Birds

After struggling with penalties last year, the Ravens still appear to have some work to do in that regard. The 2013 Ravens have 20 penalties for 181 yards through 3 games, including 10 for 87 yards in yesterday’s affair. Despite their most penalized performance of the season vs. Houston, the Ravens still managed to win the “penalty battle” as the Texans racked up 14 for 113 yards.

3. Cheering for Laundry

On the day that Ed Reed returned to Baltimore as a member of a new team, and Ray Lewis returned to be honored by the Ravens, it was the guys who suited up in their places that stole the show. James Ihedigbo picked up 9 tackles, 2 for a loss along with 2 defended passes and simply seemed to be everywhere while covering Ed Reed’s old spot. Daryl Smith, playing in Ray Lewis’ former domain plucked a Matt Schaub pass away from a waiting Owen Daniels, and at a time where the Ravens offense was struggling to make hay, made some on his own, hustling it 37 yards to pay dirt.

For all of the Ravens off-season pick-ups, Daryl Smith might have been the least heralded. He was grabbed on the same day the Ravens visited the White House and his signing went basically under the radar. If he continues to play like he did on Sunday, he could be the team’s most impactful addition. It’s also pretty encouraging that his big play came defending a tight end, which has been an issue for the Ravens of late.  

2. Doss is a Boss

What more can you say about a guy who was shown the door by the team when they pared down to their final 53 men, only to come back with an emphatic impact? Life out of football, brief as it may have been, seems to have brought out the best in Tandon Doss who is making the most out of his second chance with the Ravens. Maybe in the coming weeks Doss can become more a part of the Ravens passing game, and finally show fans those hands we heard so much about from the team about throughout his first 2 seasons. It’s not like the Ravens offense couldn’t use a pair of hands that they can trust between the hash marks.

1. Who Says Joe Flacco Can’t Act?

While Joe Flacco’s increased, post-Super Bowl public profile has led to some pretty clunky performances as a pitchman in various commercials, Flacco’s acting skills were on full display yesterday. After last season’s debacle at the hands of the Texans, JJ Watt and the rest of the Houston pass rush broke the huddle with their ears pinned back more often than not on Sunday. Flacco used that aggression against the Texans inducing 5 encroachment or defensive offsides penalties on the anxious Texans defense.

Elsewhere in the AFC North

The Bengals picked up a big win and remain tied with the Ravens at 2-1 atop the division. For now at least, it’s shaping up to be an interesting battle between these 2 for the division. They’ll meet again in Week 17 this year, maybe with something actually on the line this time.

The Steelers looked really bad to start against the Bears on Sunday night, but showed some real resilience closing the gap from 24-3 to 27-23. It looked like Pittsburgh had really found their resolve in the face of an 0-3 start. In the end though, their comeback attempt was little more than a chance for Ben Roethlisberger to cough up the ball in a late critical situation…it’s kind of their thing.

Leave it to the Browns to all but announce that they’re going into full tank mode by trading RB Trent Richardson and skipping right over Jason Campbell on the depth chart to 3rd stringer Brian Hoyer to replace injured starter Brandon Weeden, and then pick up a win on Sunday. There are even reports that the Browns are shopping receivers Josh Gordon and Greg Little. Of course the Browns can’t even tank right. If they had only known that the best way to win was to actually try to lose, they could have saved themselves and their fans years of heartache.

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WNST’s Aparicio to take part in football roundtable Sept. 17 at Sports Legends

Posted on 21 August 2013 by WNST Staff

SPORTS LEGENDS MUSEUM AT CAMDEN YARDS TO HOST FOOTBALL ROUNDTABLE WITH LOCAL MEDIA ON SEPTEMBER 17th

Baltimore Media Members to Provide Insight on 2013 Baltimore Ravens Season

Baltimore, Md. – Sports Legends Museum at Camden Yards today announced that it will host a football roundtable discussion on Tuesday, September 17 from Noon to 1:30 p.m. with members of the local sports media.

The panel of Baltimore media experts will consist of  Pete Gilbert (WBAL-TV, WBAL Radio, 98 Rock & Ravens Broadcast Team); Bruce Cunningham (Fox 45 Sports Director & Public Address Announcer at  M&T Bank Stadium); Nestor Aparicio (WNST Founder &  Author of Purple Reign and Purple Reign 2); and Jeff Zrebiec (The Baltimore Sun). The panelists will discuss the Ravens off-season moves, provide their insight & predictions for the 2013 season and take questions from members of the audience.

“There is an excitement building as the Ravens prepare to kickoff their 2013 campaign, especially after winning the Super Bowl last season ,” said Mike Gibbons, executive director of the Babe Ruth Birthplace Foundation.  “Baltimoreans  love talking football, so we thought this roundtable would be a great opportunity for the media who cover the team and fans to come together to share their thoughts on the Ravens initial start to the season and the long-term outlook for 2013.”

Tickets for the program are $25.00 and include lunch, the roundtable program and admission to the galleries at Sports Legends Museum.  Attendees will have the opportunity to see the latest additions to the Ravens Gallery featuring new artifacts from the  Super Bowl XLVII Championship season. Artifacts include Ravens Kicker Justin Tucker’s cleats worn during Super Bowl XLVII; Ravens Defensive End Arthur Jones’ jersey (#97) worn during the Wild Card game against the Indianapolis Colts; a reproduction Super Bowl XLVII ring that is an exact replica of the one presented to Joe Flacco with his name and “MVP” engraved on the side; and more.

To order tickets, please contact Ashley Serano at 410-727-1539 x3013 or AshleyS@BabeRuthMuseum.org.

About The Babe Ruth Birthplace Foundation
The Babe Ruth Birthplace Foundation is a nonprofit organization dedicated to preserving and celebrating the legacy of Maryland’s rich sports heritage.  The Foundation owns and operates both Sports Legends Museum at Camden Yards and the Babe Ruth Birthplace.  Located adjacent to Oriole Park, Sports Legends Museum at Camden Yards opened in May 2005 and consists of 22,000 square feet of artifacts and interactive exhibits profiling Maryland’s sports history.  Among the items featured in the Museum’s Ravens’ Gallery are the Super Bowl jerseys of Jonathan Ogden and Matt Stover, as well as the football from the team’s first home game.

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Old friend Stokley officially rejoins Ravens at stadium practice Sunday

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Old friend Stokley officially rejoins Ravens at stadium practice Sunday

Posted on 11 August 2013 by Luke Jones

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

BALTIMORE — The man who caught the first touchdown in Ravens Super Bowl history officially reunited with the team who drafted him as wide receiver Brandon Stokley was present for Sunday’s practice at M&T Bank Stadium.

The 37-year-old receiver who played in Baltimore from 1999 through 2002 watched practice but didn’t participate as the Ravens held their second public practice of the summer. Earlier in the day, the Ravens officially announced a one-year contract with Stokley and waived wide receiver Marcus Rivers to create room on their 90-man preseason roster.

With the foot injury to wide receiver Deonte Thompson and the questions surrounding the wide receiver position, Stokley’s addition became a no-brainer in the Ravens’ minds.

“It gives us experience,” coach John Harbaugh said. “It gives us a guy who can catch balls in the slot and has done that over a number of years. He’s done a great job of that. It’s an asset for us. More than anything, it’s a need potentially in a certain area, but we still have guys who are in the process of stepping up there.”

Stokley had a solid season with former Indianapolis teammate Peyton Manning in Denver last year, catching 45 passes for 544 yards and five touchdowns.

For the veteran receiver, Sunday felt like a homecoming as Stokley recalled arriving in Baltimore 14 years earlier as a fresh-faced rookie taken in the fourth round of the 1999 draft out of Louisiana-Lafayette. It only took 384 catches, 5,224 yards, and 39 touchdowns for the 15th-year veteran to come full circle.

“This is where I started. A lot of old, good memories,” said Stokley, who believes he can provide the Ravens with a target who can help move the chains and provide another option inside the red zone. “It’s just a great organization, great fans, just all around a great place. I’m just trying to come in here and work hard, do my best, and hopefully help out in any way that I can.”

Of course, Stokley’s first run with the Ravens didn’t include the opportunity to play with a franchise signal-caller like Joe Flacco as Stokley played with the likes of Tony Banks, Trent Dilfer, Chris Redman, and Elvis Grbac. In four seasons with Baltimore, he caught just 60 passes before joining Indianapolis where he caught 139 passes while playing with Peyton Manning over the next four seasons.

Stokley was quite complimentary of Flacco after being reminded by reporters that he was on the opposing sideline in Denver when the Baltimore quarterback connected with Jacoby Jones on the 70-yard touchdown to force overtime in the divisional-round thriller against the Broncos.

“He’s unbelievable,” Stokley said. “You saw what he did last year in the playoffs. That run that they went on was awesome. It takes a special quarterback to do that.”

Thompson out, Pierce possible for Atlanta game Thursday night

Harbaugh confirmed that Thompson’s left foot sprain wasn’t something that will keep him sidelined for an extended period of time but ruled out the second-year receiver for Thursday’s game against the Atlanta Falcons.

Thompson injured the foot making a 5-yard catch in the second quarter of the preseason opener against Tampa Bay and didn’t return. He was seen wearing a walking boot following the game and hasn’t practiced since. It appears, however, he will be ready to play in the all-important third preseason game in less than two weeks.

“Deonte sprained his foot. It’s not serious,” Harbaugh said. “We’re going to hold him out of this game and re-evaluate him on Friday [to] see where he’s at. I would expect him back for the Carolina game.”

The Baltimore coach also confirmed reports that the injury to running back Bernard Pierce’s knee wasn’t serious, labeling the injury as a bruise. The second-year back tweaked his knee on a 20-yard touchdown early in the second quarter of Thursday’ game and didn’t return.

Despite not practicing over the last two days, Pierce still has a chance to play against the Falcons, according to Harbaugh.

Dickson on mend, no timetable for return

Sunday marked a week since Ed Dickson suffered a slightly-torn hamstring tear and while he’s not ready to announce a date for his return, the fourth-year tight end continues to make progress in rehabbing the injury.

“Every little thing I can do, I’m taking it day by day,” Dickson said. “This type of injury with a muscle, you’ve got to take it day by day. I’m doing all the little things, staying conditioned, and trying to catch as many balls as I can.”

Dickson has taken some consolation in knowing he can take his time recovering fully after the recent veteran additions of Visanthe Shiancoe and Dallas Clark, but the 2010 third-round pick said it’s been frustrating being sidelined after the season-ending loss of Dennis Pitta on July 27.

Asked whether he was confident that he’d be ready to go for the start of the regular season as Harbaugh has previously said, Dickson wouldn’t speak in specific terms, only expressing concern that he doesn’t want the injury to linger into the regular season.

“I can’t make any predictions,” said Dickson about his availability for the season opener on Sept. 5, “but I’m working hard to do that. I’m trying my hardest to get back out there. It kills me. I’m hard on myself.”

Absences growing at practice

The Ravens were without 13 players for Sunday’s stadium practice as linebacker Courtney Upshaw was a new absence to add to the list.

Joining him as non-participants were wide receivers Thompson (foot) and Marlon Brown, Pierce (knee), tight ends Dickson (hamstring) and Pitta (hip), offensive linemen Marshal Yanda (shoulder) and Ryan Jensen (foot), cornerback Chris Johnson (undisclosed), linebackers Bryan Hall (hamstring) and Jameel McClain (neck), and defensive linemen Marcus Spears (undisclosed) and Kapron Lewis-Moore (knee).

Johnson had practiced on Saturday before once again being sidelined for Sunday’s workout.

Odds & ends

Kicker Justin Tucker continued his outstanding training camp as he connected on field goals from 20, 39, 48, 35, 52, and 58 yards. He then proceeded to miss attempts from 64 and 67 yards even though each kick had more than enough distance. The NFL record for the longest field goal is 63 yards. … A day after being chastised for lackadaisical play by Harbaugh, rookie wide receiver Aaron Mellette turned in his strongest practice of the summer, making consecutive difficult catches on a slant pattern and sideline route during 7-on-7 drills and topping those receptions with an outstanding leaping catch over the middle for a long gain while working with the second-team offense a few minutes later. … With Thompson sidelined, the Ravens primarily used Torrey Smith, Jacoby Jones, and Tandon Doss in their three-wide sets, but David Reed also received some reps with the first-team offense. Harbaugh said after Sunday’s practice that they’re going to take a closer look at Doss in the slot after using him in the slot and on the outside in the first couple weeks of practice. … As he did in his first tour of duty with the Ravens, Stokley will wear No. 80 and plans to practice on Monday. … The Ravens announced approximately 25,000 fans were in attendance for Sunday’s open and free practice at M&T Bank Stadium.

 

 

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