Tag Archive | "LaQuan Williams"

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Poly grad Williams, Omar Brown among Ravens’ cuts to get to 75

Posted on 25 August 2014 by Luke Jones

OWINGS MILLS, Md. — The Ravens completed the process of trimming their preseason roster to 75 a day prior to Tuesday’s deadline by cutting a number of players headlined by wide receiver LaQuan Williams and safety Omar Brown on Monday.

Linebackers Austin Spitler and Nick DiMarco, offensive tackle David Mims, cornerbacks Deji Olatoye and Marrio Norman, running back Cierre Wood, wide receiver Mike Willie, and punter Richie Leone were also released.

Baltimore waived offensive lineman Brett Van Sloten (knee) and fullback Shaun Chapas, who were both dealing with injuries.

To complete their transformation from 90 to 75 players on the current roster, the Ravens placed defensive linemen Kapron Lewis-Moore (Achilles tendon) and Brent Urban (knee) as well as offensive lineman Will Rackley (head) on season-ending injured reserve. Lewis-Moore and Urban had already undergone season-ending surgeries while Rackley continues to recover from a concussion sustained at the start of training camp.

“There is a feeling when you have fewer guys,” said head coach John Harbaugh about trimming his roster for the first time this summer. “It starts in the meeting. We came in the meeting, I walked in and I waited a little bit, and my first thought was, ‘Everybody is not here. Do we have everybody?’ We did have everybody, but we didn’t.

A Poly grad and University of Maryland product, Williams was re-signed by the Ravens in the offseason after being cut last year but was unable to distinguish himself in a deep group of wide receivers. A feel-good story as an undrafted free agent who made the Ravens’ 53-man roster in 2011, Williams hadn’t recorded a reception in three preseason games and failed to make his mark on special teams as he had in previous seasons.

Brown had spent the last two seasons bouncing back and forth between Baltimore’s practice squad and active roster, but his future appeared clear when he didn’t take any defensive snaps and was only on the field for two special-teams plays in Saturday’s 23-17 win over Washington.

“Omar and LaQuan are just two guys who have been here for a long time,” Harbaugh said. “[They] have been Ravens for a number of years and have contributed so much to us. That’s the toughest thing. They’re going to go play for other teams — I don’t doubt that at all. But those guys have contributed so much, and we’re so appreciative of what they’ve done.

“All of those guys will get opportunities elsewhere or back here again in the future. That was a tough day. Some tears, some hugs, and you come back out and you go back to work.”

General manager Ozzie Newsome and Harbaugh must trim the roster to 53 by 4 p.m. Saturday.

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Wide receiver LaQuan Williams returning to Ravens

Posted on 24 April 2014 by Luke Jones

Former Ravens wide receiver LaQuan Williams announced on Twitter that he was coming home on Thursday afternoon.

The former University of Maryland product and Poly grad has rejoined the Ravens after being waived at the end of the 2013 preseason, agent Chad Wiestling confirmed to WNST.net. Williams spent a brief time with the New England Patriots last November but did not appear in a game during the 2013 season.

“Feels good to be back home #RavensNation,” Williams wrote on his official Twitter account.

Williams was one of the feel-good stories of the 2011 season as the Baltimore native made the 53-man roster as a rookie free agent and caught four passes for 46 yards while appearing in 12 games primarily as a special-teams contributor. The 25-year-old played in 11 games in 2012 but did not catch a pass and finished the season on injured reserve.

With the Ravens deciding last year that Williams was no longer in their plans, the former Terp faces an uphill battle to make the roster, but his special-teams ability always makes him someone to watch during the preseason.

 

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Patriots sign former Raven/Baltimore native Williams

Posted on 05 November 2013 by WNST Staff

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – The New England Patriots announced that they have signed WR LaQuan Williams to the 53-man roster and released WR Austin Collie. In addition, the Patriots signed rookie RB Cierre Wood to the practice squad.

Williams, 25, is a veteran of two NFL seasons with the Baltimore Ravens. The 6-foot, 195-pounder originally entered the NFL as a rookie free agent with the Ravens out of Maryland in 2011. Williams was released by Baltimore on Sept. 6, 2013. He played in 23 NFL games over the last two seasons and finished with four receptions for 46 yards and nine special teams tackles. Last season, Williams played in 11 games and finished with five special teams tackles before being placed on injured reserve.

Collie, 27, was signed by the Patriots on Oct. 3. The 6-foot, 204-pounder is a veteran of four NFL seasons with the Indianapolis Colts (2009-12) after originally entering the NFL as a fourth-round draft pick (127th overall) of the Colts out of Brigham Young in 2009. He was signed by the San Francisco 49ers as an unrestricted free agent on Aug. 2, 2013, but was released by the 49ers on Aug. 31.

Collie has played in 46 NFL games with 17 starts and has registered 176 receptions for 1,879 yards and 16 touchdowns. He played in four games with one start for the Patriots and registered three receptions for 34 yards.

Wood, 22, was originally signed by the Houston Texans as a rookie free agent out of Notre Dame on May 10, 2013. He made the 53-man roster out of training camp and played in three games before being released on Oct. 21. Wood had three rushing attempts for nine yards in his three NFL games. He led Notre Dame in rushing in two of his three college seasons.

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Ravens waive WR Williams, begin forming practice squad

Posted on 01 September 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 were back on the practice field Sunday after formulating their 53-man roster but already made a notable change to the group traveling to Denver to take on the Broncos in Thursday’s opener.

Third-year wide receiver LaQuan Williams was waived after initially making the 53-man roster on Saturday. He suffered a hamstring injury early in the final preseason game and wasn’t present for practice Sunday before the Ravens announced the roster move. The Ravens designated Williams as waived-injured in the official transaction, meaning he will receive an injury settlement from the organization.

In two seasons with the Ravens, the Poly graduate and Baltimore native caught four passes for 48 yards and appeared in 23 games primarily as a special-teams contributor. Originally an undrafted free agent out of the University of Maryland in 2011, Williams was one of the feel-good stories of the last few years as a local product getting to play for the team he grew up rooting for.

As for Sunday’s practice, defensive linemen Arthur Jones (personal health issue) and Brandon Williams (undisclosed), wide receiver Deonte Thompson (foot), offensive lineman Ryan Jensen (foot), and tight end Dennis Pitta (hip) were all absent during the portion of practice open to the media. Jensen and Pitta remain on the 53-man roster despite rehabbing from long-term injuries.

Jones hasn’t practiced since the third preseason game, which is concerning with him being a starting defensive tackle throughout the preseason. Coach John Harbaugh said last week that the “personal health thing” was not serious but declined to reveal any other details.

The good news for the Baltimore front seven was the return of pass-rush specialist Pernell McPhee to the practice field for the first time in nearly two weeks. McPhee had been dealing with a knee injury that forced him out of the final two preseason games of the summer.

The first injury report of the week will not be released until Monday.

Baltimore also announced the signing of seven players to its practice squad as tight end Matt Furstenburg, safety Omar Brown, offensive linemen Reggie Stephens, Jordan Devey, and J.J. Unga, defensive lineman Cody Larsen, and linebacker Brandon Copeland are all rejoining the organization after being waived at the end of the preseason. This was by design, according to Harbaugh.

“We’re really hopeful that that’s the case,” Harbaugh said before the signings were announced. “We would like for all the guys, as much as possible, on the practice squad to be guys who were here with us [in the summer].”

The practice-squad players received a slow clap from the players on the regular roster as they jogged onto the practice field as Harbaugh shouted, “Congratulations! Now, get your butts out here!”

The Ravens had one spot remaining Sunday afternoon after they learned running back Bobby Rainey was claimed by the Cleveland Browns. The organization had hoped to re-sign him to the developmental squad after a good preseason.

Former Ravens receiver Tommy Streeter was also picked up by the Buffalo Bills to join their practice squad after he was waived last Sunday.

 

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Ravens-Rams preseason primer: Five players to watch

Posted on 28 August 2013 by Luke Jones

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

The Ravens have reached the light at the end of the preseason tunnel as they’ll conclude the summer against the St. Louis Rams on Thursday night.

From an entertainment standpoint, the preseason finale has rarely been one in which you can cut the electricity with a knife as Joe Flacco has already been confirmed by head coach John Harbaugh to be a spectator on Thursday. The starting quarterback won’t be alone as many starters will not take the field at all at the Edward Jones Dome in a game that means nothing for players who have already sewn up spots on the 53-man roster.

Of course, Harbaugh and the coaching staff will be expecting a strong performance from the players who will see action, many of whom are fighting for no more than a few jobs.

“We’re getting ready to go play St. Louis,” Harbaugh said. “We’re going to do our best to go out there and try to win that game within the parameters of what helps our football team going forward into the regular season.”

In all reality, most roster decisions have already been made with the preseason finale not doing much to change the dynamics of the 53-man squad that must be finalized by Saturday at 6 p.m. Players with no realistic shot of making the team are hoping to put forth a good performance that might garner attention from other teams looking to fill out their rosters and practice squads in the coming days.

Potential competitions remain for the third running job, the No. 3 tight end, and the fourth safety job if the Ravens elect to keep each of those positions. And, of course, much attention will be paid to the wide receivers currently on the bubble, but you have to wonder how many conclusions the coaching staff can draw from the wideouts playing with reserve quarterback Caleb Hanie and potentially the newly-signed Dayne Crist.

Harbaugh was asked Tuesday how many times he could recall roster spots being decided by just a play or two made in the preseason finale.

“Probably not often, in all reality,” Harbaugh said. “But I would say in this game, there are a couple of those. There are a couple guys that, perhaps if they really, really play well, they could really play themselves on [to the 53-man roster]. Or, guys could play themselves off. It’s possible.”

The Ravens will be meeting the Rams for the fourth time ever in the preseason as St. Louis enters the game with a 3-0 all-time mark in the exhibition contests. Baltimore leads the all-time regular-season series by a 3-2 margin and won a 37-7 blowout in St. Louis in the teams’ last meeting in 2011.

Harbaugh is now 15-8 in preseason games with the Ravens holding a 42-28 overall mark in the preseason. Baltimore has won 14 of its last 19 preseason games.

Unofficial (and largely speculative) injury report

The Ravens are not required to produce 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.

Of course, the final preseason game will include many players sitting out due to Harbaugh’s preference with the regular-season opener against the Denver Broncos just a week from Thursday night. This estimated report does not reflect any of the veterans who will watch from the sidelines and is only an indication of the team’s current health.

Inside linebacker Jameel McClain (neck), defensive end Kapron Lewis-Moore (knee), and outside linebacker Adrian Hamilton (wrist) are no longer on the active roster and are no longer included in the injury report.

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

OUT: WR Deonte Thompson (foot), LB Pernell McPhee (knee), OL Ryan Jensen (foot), TE Dennis Pitta (hip)
DOUBTFUL: TE Ed Dickson (hamstring)
QUESTIONABLE: DE Arthur Jones (personal health issue), QB Tyrod Taylor (head)
PROBABLE: G Marshal Yanda (shoulder), CB Lardarius Webb (knee)

Five players to watch Thursday night

1. RB Delone Carter

While few fans are enthused to watch the fourth and final preseason game consisting of few starters, the contest will offer the first glance of Carter, who was acquired from Indianapolis in the David Reed trade. At 5-foot-9 and 232 pounds, Carter is a low-to-the-ground power runner with the reputation of being effective at the goal line and in short-yardage situations, two areas in which the Ravens struggled at times last season.

The real question may be how much of an impact Carter can bring to special teams as the potential No. 3 running back with third-year veteran Anthony Allen strong in that regard and Bobby Rainey having intriguing potential as a backup return specialist. Much discussion of last impressions being made in the preseason finale is overblown, but Carter has only had a couple practices to show off his ability, meaning Thursday will be critical for his potential future in Baltimore.

2. WR LaQuan Williams

It’s difficult to predict whether the performance of any of the bubble receivers on Thursday night will carry much stock in final roster decisions if the likes of Hanie and Crist are under center, but Williams hasn’t followed up his strong performance in the preseason opener in the way he would have liked. Always a good special-teams player, Williams has lacked consistency as a wideout this summer and saw rookies Marlon Brown and Aaron Mellette receive opportunities with the first-team offense in recent weeks while he only received a few token reps here and there.

A standout play or two on special teams would likely put an exclamation point on his case for a spot on the 53-man roster for the third straight season, but Williams would like to leave a lasting impression as a wide receiver as well. The coaching staff has always been complimentary of his work ethic, but Williams doesn’t have the impressive height or blazing speed of other receivers with which he’s competing and his value on special teams can only go so far with so much uncertainty at the wide receiver position as a whole.

3. DE DeAngelo Tyson

It’s remarkable to think how far the defensive line has come since last season when Tyson was seeing critical snaps in the second half of Super Bowl XLVII after Haloti Ngata went down with a knee injury. The 2012 seventh-round pick hasn’t necessarily had a poor summer, but he is clearly seventh in the pecking order of a deep group of options with various skills against the run and pass.

Tyson’s fate will come down to the simple numbers as the coaching staff decides whether players at other positions would be better fits for roster spots than keeping Tyson as a seventh defensive lineman. Statistics usually aren’t a great indication of how well a defensive lineman has fared, but Tyson’s two tackles reflect the quiet preseason we’ve observed from the Georgia product.

4. TE Billy Bajema

Following the Ravens’ decision to terminate the contract of veteran Visanthe Shiancoe last weekend, many assumed this opened the door for rookie Matt Furstenburg to be the No. 3 tight end, but veteran Billy Bajema is a reliable blocking tight end with some ability as a pass catcher when given opportunities. He saw a great deal of action late last season when Ed Dickson was sidelined with a knee injury and held up well as the blocking tight end behind Dennis Pitta.

In most cases, teams will go with the younger, cheaper option when rookies and veterans are evenly matched in a competition for a roster spot, but the Ravens were using Bajema over Furstenburg with the starting offense prior to the free-agent signing of Dallas Clark a couple weeks ago. Bajema is also a positive special-teams contributor, which is something that shouldn’t be overlooked when the Ravens make their final decision on a potential third tight end.

5. S Anthony Levine

Fellow safety Omar Brown might be more of a household name after a strong 2012 preseason, but Levine has appeared to receive more opportunities with the starting special-teams units during the preseason, which could be an indication of which way the Ravens are leaning for the fourth safety spot — if they decide to keep one. Levine is bigger than Brown and was signed to the 53-man roster from the practice squad last November before eventually going on injured reserve, which paved the way for Brown to be promoted in December.

This might be a rare roster battle that comes down to a matter of who can make a play or two in the preseason finale to sell the coaches on a potential decision. Levine has eight tackles this summer while Brown has five; however, Levine has made one special-teams tackle but appeared to be one of the guilty parties to misplay his lane assignment in the Ted Ginn Jr. 74-yard punt return for a touchdown last week in Baltimore.

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Decisions looming for Ravens at underwhelming receiver position

Posted on 26 August 2013 by Luke Jones

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

The Ravens are less than a week away from making final decisions for their 53-man roster with no position currently in more flux than wide receiver.

After an offseason full of discussion around a young but unproven group of wide receivers, the preseason has provided little knowledge in projecting how the Ravens plan to flourish in the passing game without 2012 key targets Anquan Boldin and Dennis Pitta. The decision to sign 37-year-old Brandon Stokley and 34-year-old tight end Dallas Clark after the preseason opener was all you needed to know about the level of concern general manager Ozzie Newsome and coach John Harbaugh felt after an underwhelming start to the summer for the passing game.

Just days away from the preseason finale that’s likely to feature very few starters, the Ravens have three locks to make the roster at the wide receiver position: Torrey Smith, Jacoby Jones, and Stokley. Smith remains the only option at the position with which you feel comfortable while Jones’ speed and Stokley’s ability to move the chains from the slot receiver position are specialized skills that will work well in different formations.

After that? Unknown commodities and unfulfilled promise fill out the rest of the pack.

Aaron Mellette and Marlon Brown? A 2013 seventh-round pick and a rookie free agent respectively.

LaQuan Williams? A solid special-teams player but inconsistent as a wide receiver in both practices and preseason games.

Deonte Thompson? Injured since the preseason opener.

And Tandon Doss? He’s become the whipping boy of a concerned fan base after a very disappointing summer.

The discussion over who stays and who goes has heated up over the last couple weeks as fans and media alike try to predict how many receivers will make the regular-season roster.

“I’m not quite certain of what the numbers will be,” offensive coordinator Jim Caldwell said. “That’s John and Ozzie — they take care of that. They look at it and determine [and] look at the entire team.”

While many fixate on a given number of receivers to make the final roster — five, six, even seven? — the Ravens look at the roster from a global view in determining which 53 players will be the best fit to win games in 2013. As unlikely as it might be, all eight receivers could make it through final cuts if Harbaugh and his staff determine they contribute enough both offensively and through special teams.

Caldwell has even suggested that strength in numbers might be the unit’s best bet while also providing more time to determine which receivers build the best rapport with quarterback Joe Flacco in the early weeks of the season. Eight receivers would certainly be a stretch, but it’s not difficult envisioning scenarios in which seven wideouts crack the 53-man roster without too much trouble.

It comes down to special-teams play, team health, and positional needs — or the lack of needs — elsewhere.

“There could be a situation where we’re using quite a few guys at the wide receiver position, which I think is a plus for us because it helps us mix up personnel packages,” Caldwell said. “We do have some versatility because we have a number of guys who can play multiple positions.”

With that in mind, it’s time to make the case for and against each of the five wide receivers projected to be on the roster bubble.

Each receiver’s career NFL regular-season numbers are noted in parentheses.

Tandon Doss (seven catches, 123 yards, 20 targets)

The case for: The Ravens typically don’t give up on their high draft picks easily and the 2011 fourth-round pick has practiced well at different points over the last three years despite a very underwhelming preseason performance of just two catches for 10 yards and a touchdown in three games this summer. He hasn’t stepped up in the manner the Ravens had hoped in filling Boldin’s shoes as the slot receiver, but the rest of the bunch hasn’t outperformed him so dramatically to make him out to be the slam-dunk cut that some critics have made him out to be over the last few days. Another factor helping Doss’ case for a roster spot is the lack of a healthy option behind Stokley as a slot receiver in the passing game with Thompson currently injured. He’s shown good hands and route-running ability in practices, which still counts for something despite magnified mistakes in preseason games.

The case against: It never speaks well for your future when two rookies appear to have leapfrogged you on the depth chart after Brown and Mellette saw playing time before Doss against Carolina in the third preseason game. His inability to recognize a blitz led to a Flacco interception against the Panthers, and the third-year wideout didn’t exactly come across as a player trying to take accountability in his explanation after the game. Doss can serve as a backup punt returner, but his ability to play special teams is very limited beyond that. Of the five players currently on the bubble at the position, he has received the greatest number of opportunities and has done very little with them, making you wonder how much patience the Ravens have left. Expectations were high for him, but he’s performed poorly in the preseason.

Marlon Brown (rookie)

The case for: The undrafted product did what no other young receiver had done all summer last Thursday when he took advantage of an opportunity to work with the starting offense by making four catches for 59 yards and a touchdown against the Panthers. You can’t teach 6-foot-5 height, and Brown has shown the potential to be the tall red-zone target the Ravens envisioned with the selection of the recently-cut Tommy Streeter in the sixth round of the 2012 draft. Brown runs solid routes and has shown consistent hands for much of the summer in both practices and games while working his way back from a torn ACL suffered last fall. His performance in a nationally-televised preseason game makes it highly unlikely that he will clear waivers to allow the Ravens to sign him to their practice squad as they may have planned a couple weeks ago.

The case against: It’s important to remember one preseason performance means very little in the big picture as the Ravens aren’t exactly sure how Brown will fit in the short-term future or whether he will pan out in the long term. Despite being a five-star recruit for the University of Georgia, he didn’t exactly live up to expectations playing in the SEC, the greatest stage college football has to offer. Brown has occasionally missed some practice time this summer while working his way back to 100 percent, so that will be something to watch in his first season in the NFL where rookies can often hit the proverbial wall late in the 16-game schedule.

Aaron Mellette (rookie)

CONTINUE ON NEXT PAGE >>>>>

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Mixed bag to be expected in Ravens’ preseason opener

Posted on 08 August 2013 by Luke Jones

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The Ravens’ preseason-opening 44-16 win over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers provided much of what you’d you expect to see in the first exhibition game of the summer.

Some good, some bad, and much unanswered from the starting units with almost a month of preparation remaining until the start of the regular season. We did learn that the Baltimore backups were far superior to the Buccaneers’ reserves, but that’s not the type of information that will offer much for the Ravens’ aspirations to repeat as Super Bowl champions.

A revamped defense showed versatility and strong play from veteran newcomers such as inside linebacker Daryl Smith (five tackles) and defensive end Chris Canty (a sack on the opening series) but also featured communication breakdowns in the secondary that led to a few big plays surrendered in the passing game, including a 61-yard completion to tight end Tom Crabtree to end the first quarter. With so many new pieces in place, it will take time to for Dean Pees’ unit to get on the same page, but the front seven looks quite formidable on paper, especially with healthier versions of Terrell Suggs and Haloti Ngata in the mix.

The addition of Smith has eased concerns over the status of Jameel McClain as the former Jacksonville Jaguar carried over a strong start in training camp to Thursday night, showing a good nose for the ball and solid ability in pass coverage. He cemented his status as the overwhelming favorite to call the signals for the Baltimore defense in Denver on Sept. 5.

Canty played exactly how the Ravens hope he will this season as a 5-technique defensive end, holding his ground against the running game and showing a good burst as a pass rusher on the opening series of the game when he sacked Buccaneers quarterback Josh Freeman on third down.

Offensively, the pass protection held up well enough aside from blitzing linebacker Lavonte David coming untouched to sack quarterback Joe Flacco on the Ravens’ first offensive series. Two plays later, Flacco forced a pass attempt to wide receiver Jacoby Jones that was picked off by former Baltimore defensive back Danny Gorrer.

Center Gino Gradkowski made the start over former Indianapolis Colt A.Q. Shipley and appeared to play solidly with a starting offensive line sans Pro Bowl right guard Marshal Yanda, who continues to work his way back from offseason shoulder surgery.

It wasn’t an impressive debut for the wide receivers as Flacco turned to running backs Ray Rice, Vonta Leach, and Bernard Pierce more frequently in his two series of work. Torrey Smith was the only wide receiver to register a catch — making two receptions for 16 yards — with the starting quarterback in the game. Jones, Tandon Doss, and Deonte Thompson were targeted five times Thursday night and recorded just one combined reception with a couple drops mixed in there as well.

While those three have received the most attention in the much-discussed battle for the second and third receiver spots, the standout receiver of the night was LaQuan Williams, who made a tough 21-yard touchdown catch early in the second half after recovering two fumbles as a special-teams performer in the second quarter, one of them in the end zone for a touchdown late in the first half. A forgotten man after finishing last season on injured reserve, Williams may have earned himself a few more reps with the starting offense after Thursday’s outing and was in the mix as a wide receiver as a rookie in 2011.

Needless to say, the voids left behind by Dennis Pitta and Anquan Boldin were apparent, but the Ravens are fully aware that Flacco will need time to develop chemistry with a new batch of targets. And that doesn’t mean a veteran addition won’t become a reality at some point between now and September.

Above all, the special teams shined as Justin Tucker connected on all three of his field goal tries, Brynden Trawick blocked the punt recovered by Williams in the end zone, and Bobby Rainey had a 58-yard kickoff return. With only a handful of spots on the 53-man roster realistically up for grabs, this is where coach John Harbaugh wants to see younger players excel and Jerry Rosburg’s units did not disappoint.

Truthfully, the final score doesn’t offer an accurate picture of how the starters performed as the Ravens trailed 6-0 early in the second quarter when most key starters had already begun exiting the game. Flacco finished his night 7-for-9 for 57 yards and an interception as he couldn’t find open receivers down the field and the defense did plenty of bending without breaking after giving up some big plays in the first half.

It’s important not to overreact to any one player’s performance in one practice game, but backups such as Williams, outside linebacker Adrian Hamilton (a sack and an additional quarterback hit), and cornerback Asa Jackson (an interception) made strong statements for roster consideration with their performances Thursday night. Often criticized by portions of the fan base for not being good enough to be the backup quarterback, Tyrod Taylor threw two touchdown passes and showed an increased willingness to stay in the pocket, attempting 23 passes and just five runs in his extended period of work.

A preseason win is better than a preseason loss, of course, but we knew no questions would be resolved following Thursday’s tilt with the Buccaneers.

The wide receiver position remains a mystery, which would have been the case regardless of how Jones, Doss, and Thompson performed.

Gradkowski appears to be the current favorite to be the starting center, but Shipley will still receive his opportunities.

The inside linebacker position appears to be looking clearer with the strong play of the veteran Smith, but Josh Bynes and Arthur Brown will continue to fight it out for the starting weakside inside linebacker spot next to Smith.

Rookie Matt Elam is still chasing veteran James Ihedigbo for the starting strong safety spot but showed the same physicality that impressed scouts and coaches after watching his tape from his days at the University of Florida.

But perhaps the biggest takeaway from Thursday’s game was the aftermath of Moe Lee’s fourth-quarter interception in which the rookie foolishly tried to lateral the ball as he was going to the ground. Though former Ravens safety Ed Reed may have been smiling somewhere if he caught a glimpse of that play, the coaching staff certainly wasn’t amused.

However, it wasn’t Harbaugh or his assistants who ran to correct the rookie defensive back as the veteran Suggs calmly walked onto the field and explained to Lee why that wasn’t a smart play. It was the kind of defensive leadership the Ravens need following the retirement of Ray Lewis and the free-agent departure of Reed.

Yes, it was only one example of what you’re hoping to see from the 30-year-old linebacker and longest-tenured Raven, but a snapshot is all a preseason game is really worth in the scope of the entire summer.

And looking into the photo that was Thursday night, there was good and bad to take back to the practice field over the next week and beyond.

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Ravens move Lewis from IR to 53-man roster

Posted on 26 December 2012 by Luke Jones

OWINGS MILLS, Md. — The Ravens have moved Ray Lewis to their active roster and placed wide receiver LaQuan Williams on injured reserve, meaning the inside linebacker is now eligible to play in the postseason.

Lewis began practicing on Dec. 5, which started a 21-day window in which he could participate in practices before the team was forced to either place him on the 53-man roster or leave the 37-year-old on IR for the remainder of the season. The veteran suffered a torn triceps against the Dallas Cowboys on Oct. 14 and was placed on IR with the designation to return on Oct. 17.

Coach John Harbaugh confirmed after the Ravens’ 33-14 win over the New York Giants this past Sunday that Lewis would not play against the Cincinnati Bengals in Week 17. The 17th-year linebacker was eligible to return to game action in Week 15, but the Ravens have erred on the side of caution as he continues to rebuild strength in his right upper arm that atrophied after the surgical procedure.

“We will not look at him again for this week,” Harbaugh said after Sunday’s game and confirmed the notion again on Wednesday. “We’ll look at him at the playoffs. It’s an injury that is a 12- to 16-week injury. If you do the math going back, we thought there was a chance. He is progressing really well.”

Lewis underwent the surgical procedure 10 weeks ago and is still on track to make a remarkable recovery in comparison to the typical timetable for coming back from such an injury.

Despite playing in only six games this season, Lewis ranks sixth on the team with 57 tackles.

Williams was placed on IR with a hamstring injury. The second-year wide receiver was active in 11 games this season, playing extensively on special teams.

“He has a hamstring that’s been bothering him, and he tweaked it in the game,” Harbaugh said. “That’s where we are at right now.”

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Kindle’s shoulder stinger headlines mild list of new injuries for Ravens

Posted on 18 August 2012 by Luke Jones

Unlike the preseason opener in which they suffered a season-ending injury and another multi-week one, Friday’s preseason game left the Ravens without any apparent long-term health concerns.

Linebacker Sergio Kindle suffered a shoulder stinger in the second half of the 27-12 loss to the Detroit Lions and didn’t return to action. However, the 2010 second-round pick did not believe the injury to be serious following the game.

In addition to Kindle’s injury, coach John Harbaugh reported after the game that fullback Vonta Leach and wide receiver LaQuan Williams suffered mild ankle sprains while reserve linebacker Ricky Brown had a hip contusion. None of those injuries are believed to be legitimate concerns moving forward.

Players with preexisting injury concerns such as cornerback Jimmy Smith, linebacker Courtney Upshaw, and running back Bernard Pierce played without any concerns moving forward, according to the head coach.

“The guys that had the issues injury-wise [who played in the game] got through well,” Harbaugh said. “So, that’s good news, and we’ll just move on from there.”

Wide receiver Torrey Smith was listed as active but did not suit up to play as he continues to recover from a sprained ankle suffered in the preseason opener in Atlanta. The Maryland product practiced on very limited basis on Sunday and Monday before sitting out the final two practices of the week leading up to the game with the Lions.

Labeled as just a “nick” last weekend, Smith’s ankle was only the third-most serious injury sustained against Atlanta as defensive lineman Ryan McBean suffered a season-ending ankle fracture while tight end Ed Dickson sprained his shoulder, which will likely keep him sidelined for the rest of the preseason.

Offensive lineman Jah Reid was listed as inactive as the second-year tackle reportedly suffered another setback with the calf injury that’s hampered him since the final day of mandatory minicamp in June. He was removed from the physically unable to perform list this week after returning to the practice field.

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Thoughts and observations from second week of Ravens’ OTAs

Posted on 30 May 2012 by Luke Jones

(Updated Thursday 12:15 p.m.)

With 18 players absent from Wednesday’s voluntary organized team activity, it was difficult to draw many conclusions from what we saw on the practice field in Owings Mills.

In regards to the decline in attendance from last week when only seven players were absent, head coach John Harbaugh and the rest of the staff would love to see all players present, but the union fought hard for a shorter off-season program and reform in the structure of OTAs. After several veterans blew the whistle on Harbaugh and the Ravens a couple years ago, the head coach was very careful to make sure the OTA schedule was in compliance with the new rules in the collective bargaining agreement.

It’s not surprising to see veterans such as Ray Lewis and Ed Reed skipping the voluntary workouts — these activities are designed for learning more than anything — but I didn’t expect to see second-year players such as Jimmy Smith, Jah Reid, and Pernell McPhee missing from the field during Wednesday’s workout. Considering Reid and Smith are competing for starting jobs and McPhee is expecting to see an increased role along the defensive line, I have to question how wise it was for them to be absent while their strongest competitors were all present on Wednesday.

Of course, there are unique circumstances that might prevent a given player from being at OTAs — and the possibility exists that any of these players might have been dealing with some sort of injury — so it would be unfair to judge the aforementioned players too harshly without knowing the full story. The workouts are voluntary, but Harbaugh and the coaching staff will certainly remember who didn’t attend all workouts, especially if any of these players struggle during the mandatory minicamp next month or in training camp.

> Veteran center Matt Birk returned to the practice field after being absent last week, right guard Marshal Yanda and left tackle Bryant McKinnie were not present on Wednesday, leaving a patchwork offensive line to run with the rest of the starting offense.

As previously mentioned, Reid was also absent and rookie offensive lineman Kelechi Osemele missed most of Wednesday’s practice with an undisclosed injury. The result was an offensive line featuring Michael Oher at left tackle and third-year tackle Ramon Harewood on the right side, Justin Boren and Jack Cornell as the guards, and Birk at center — not exactly the line you envision when the Ravens host the Cincinnati Bengals in the regular-season opener.

Harewood struggled mightily at times, jumping early on a couple occasions and being flagged for holding defensive end Arthur Jones at one point during full-team drills. The 6-foot-6, 340-pound tackle from Morehouse had limited football experiences prior to being taken in the sixth round of the 2010 draft, meaning the last two seasons spent on injured reserve have done little for his development. Harewood admits to needing time to knock off rust in getting back on the practice field, but he figures to face an uphill battle in making the 53-man roster this summer and his performance through two weeks of OTAs hasn’t impressed many.

> Special teams coordinator Jerry Rosburg is excited about the addition of veteran return specialist Jacoby Jones as a major factor in returning both kickoffs and punts, but the sixth-year receiver has struggled at wide receiver, dropping a number of passes from quarterback Joe Flacco in two practices open to the media.

Jones does provide a veteran option at the No. 3 receiver spot behind starters Anquan Boldin and Torrey Smith, but there was a reason why the Houston Texans parted ways with him earlier this off-season. He caught 127 passes and 11 touchdowns in five seasons with Houston, but Jones was often criticized for not having reliable hands and never firmly established himself as a consistent target despite his 6-foot-2, 212-pound frame.

There’s no question Jones can be a nice addition to a Baltimore offense that essentially didn’t have a third receiver last season — unless you count tight end Dennis Pitta, who often lined up in the slot — but as I wrote the day he agreed to terms on a two-year, $7 million contract, fans should temper their expectations of what the 27-year-old can bring as a wide receiver. Regardless of how Jones fares as a receiver, his speed should be a welcome addition to a return game that was largely stagnant in 2011.

> Second-year receiver LaQuan Williams was impressive on Wednesday, catching nearly everything thrown his way over the course of the two-hour practice. Williams made a one-handed catch at one point and hauled in a pass on a fade route inside the red zone.

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