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Miami WR Tommy Streeter becomes Ravens’ sixth-round pick

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Miami WR Tommy Streeter becomes Ravens’ sixth-round pick

Posted on 28 April 2012 by Luke Jones

OWINGS MILLS, Md. — The Ravens waited until the sixth round to address one of their more pressing needs, drafting tall wide receiver Tommy Streeter from the University of Miami.

The 198th overall pick, the 6-foot-5, 219-pound wideout left the Hurricanes after his junior season. In addition to his tall stature, Streeter has good speed — he ran the 40-yard dash in 4.40 seconds — but has been criticized for his poor route-running ability.

In his three seasons at Miami, Streeter caught 52 passes for 967 yards and nine touchdowns. His 46 receptions and 811 yards in 2011 were both career highs and prompted him to enter the NFL Draft.

Streeter will enter training camp as a competitor for the No. 3 receiver spot along with second-year wideouts LaQuan Williams and Tandon Doss. While extremely raw, his size and speed alone makes him an excellent value in the sixth round.

“Size isn’t as important to me as his catching radius and his play-making ability,” said offensive coordinator Cam Cameron prior to Streeter being selected in the sixth round on Saturday. “Throwing to the big is tough to stop. We see a lot of big receivers in this division. I like the guys we have and I think our guys play big, but we’ll always be looking to add bigger, faster guys if they’re out there.”

Had he returned for his senior season, Streeter would have likely been a top receiver to watch for the 2018 draft. Instead, he goes a year earlier to the Ravens.

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Ravens wide receiver Boldin out with slight meniscus tear

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Ravens wide receiver Boldin out with slight meniscus tear

Posted on 22 December 2011 by Luke Jones

(Updated: 3:05 p.m.)

OWINGS MILLS, Md. — With only two games remaining in the regular season and a playoff spot already secured, the Ravens received concerning news on Thursday that they’ll be without top wideout Anquan Boldin until the postseason due to a knee injury.

Boldin has a slight tear in his meniscus and will have surgery Thursday afternoon, a procedure that will keep him sidelined for the remainder of the regular season, according to head coach John Harbaugh. The 31-year-old receiver had missed the last two days of practice and was listed as having a knee injury on the team’s official injury report released on Wednesday afternoon.

“It flapped up on him, I think it was Tuesday night after the walk-through,” Harbaugh said. “He’s going to have to get that repaired. It’s a two-week deal. He’s seeing Dr. [James] Andrews this afternoon. He’ll be back in two weeks, so he’ll be back for the playoffs, whichever round we happen to play in. It’ll be a little tighter if we have to play in the first round.”

In his ninth NFL season, Boldin has 57 catches for 887 yards and three touchdowns. The former Florida State star has not missed a game since the 2009 season, his final year with the Arizona Cardinals. With Boldin sidelined for the next two games, the Ravens will lean heavily on rookie Torrey Smith and veteran Lee Evans to produce more in the passing game.

Smith has been one of the most productive rookie wide receivers in the league, catching 43 passes for 770 yards and a team-leading seven touchdown catches to break the franchise record for touchdowns by a rookie.

“For us, we have to step up,” Smith said. “It’s too important for us to play well right now to have any letdowns. The whole team is depending on us to play well, and we’ve got to go out there and do it.”

Evans has made little impact this season after missing seven games with a left ankle injury. The 30-year-old receiver has only four catches for 74 yards in seven games. Through the first 14 games of the regular season, it’s safe to say the Ravens’ decision to send a fourth-round pick to the Buffalo Bills in exchange for Evans during the preseason has not worked out.

The six-foot receiver has looked more comfortable over the last couple weeks in creating separation, but it hasn’t translated on the stat sheet as Evans and Flacco continue to work on their timing. With Boldin sidelined, Evans hopes he can build a rapport with the quarterback over the final two weeks of the regular season that will carry over into January.

“It’s an opportunity,” Evans said. “Whatever is called on me to do, I’ll be ready to do. I’ve been working to get back to this point, and I’m getting an opportunity. That’s what it is, and I’m looking forward to it.”

Needing wins in their final two games to secure the AFC North division title as well as a first-round bye, the Ravens now find even more incentive to secure an extra week of rest for Boldin to return to action in time for the playoffs.

While it’s possible that general manager Ozzie Newsome looks to the free-agent market for help at wide receiver, the Ravens will likely use more two-tight end sets with Ed Dickson and Dennis Pitta splitting out as wide receivers if necessary. Offensive coordinator Cam Cameron used two tight ends a great deal while Evans was sidelined earlier in the season.

Former Ravens wide receiver Derrick Mason will inevitably be discussed as a potential target to sign in Boldin’s absence, especially with him being in Baltimore on Thursday. However, a source close to Mason told WNST.net’s Glenn Clark that the veteran being in town is “purely coincidental” due to the holiday, and he had not been contacted by the team as of early Thursday afternoon.

After being waived by the Houston Texans on Dec. 12, Mason would be interested in a potential return to the Ravens if they reached out to the 37-year-old receiver, the source confirmed.

Behind Evans on the depth chart are rookies LaQuan Williams and Tandon Doss. Previously the No. 3 receiver in Evans’ absence, Williams has been inactive for the Ravens’ last three games. Doss, the team’s fourth-round selection in April, has been inactive for all but five games this season and has not registered a catch in his rookie season.

“You want to get your young guys out there on the field as much as you can,” Harbaugh said. “You never want to do it before they’re ready to have some success. I think those guys are very much ready to have success. Between LaQuan and Tandon — also the the tight ends probably play a role in that as well — it will be very interesting to see how they do, but we anticipate them doing really well.”

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First-round pick Smith ready to shine against San Diego receivers

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First-round pick Smith ready to shine against San Diego receivers

Posted on 15 December 2011 by Luke Jones

OWINGS MILLS, Md. — His first NFL season hasn’t gone exactly to plan, but cornerback Jimmy Smith is ready to prove to everyone why the Ravens used their 27th overall pick to select him in April’s draft.

With Lardarius Webb suffering from a turf toe injury and unlikely to play against the San Diego Chargers on Sunday night, Smith is in line to receive his first assignment as a starting cornerback. And a challenging one it will be as a pair of 6-foot-5 receivers, Vincent Jackson and Malcom Floyd, will try to get the best of Smith and Cary Williams.

However, at 6-foot-2, Smith is better-equipped to go up against taller receivers than most cornerbacks in the NFL. Not only are Jackson and Floyd challenges in terms of height, but their speed is deceptive, according to Smith.

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“These are really big dudes,” Smith said. “I’m considered a big corner, so these dudes have to be considered huge as far as receivers. They can run as well. When you watch them on film, they’re big and they can move pretty well.”

With Smith injuring his ankle early in the season opener against Pittsburgh, his development was stunted after a six-week layoff forcing him to miss four games. While the Colorado product needed time to re-adjust to the speed of the NFL, his preparation in meetings and watching films kept him sharp mentally as his ankle healed in the first half of the season.

That mental preparation has enabled Smith to begin playing at a higher level in recent weeks, as he’s intercepted two passes while playing at cornerback in the Ravens’ nickel package on third down and other passing situations.

“You can see how fast he’s coming back and now the plays that he’s starting to make,” defensive coordinator Chuck Pagano said. “That’s only going to continue to go up. From a schematics standpoint, he’s not out there thinking about what his job is anymore. He understands, he knows what to do, and now he’s being able to diagnose and recognize formations and down-and-distance and things like that and just be able to go out and play and make plays.”

From the first day he arrived at the team’s practice facility in Owings Mills after the Ravens selected him in the first round of April’s draft, Smith hasn’t lacked confidence and feels comfortable if called upon to step in for Webb’s starting spot on the defense. He’ll need that swagger matching up against two of the biggest receivers in the NFL.

“I feel confident, I always feel confident,” Smith said. “A corner with no confidence is a corner who’s getting beat. I feel very confident that I can step in and do a good job.”

Pagano Bowl?

Though it lacks the luster of the much-anticipated Harbaugh Bowl that took place on Thanksgiving night, the Ravens defensive coordinator will meet his younger brother John Pagano on Sunday night. John is the linebackers coach for the Chargers as the two will meet on opposite sides for the eighth time.

“We don’t talk this week,” the Baltimore coordinator said. “One text after [last] Sunday’s game — ‘Good job’ — and then we kind of shut it down and then wait till the game’s over and then we visit.”

However, the elder Pagano is looking to improve his lifetime record against his younger brother, who had the upper hand when Pagano was an assistant with the Oakland Raiders and Cleveland Browns before joining the Baltimore staff in 2008. The younger brother is the longest-tenured assistant on the San Diego coaching staff after 10 years with the organization.

“I’m 1-6 [against my brother], so the first six were JV teams that we took in there,” Chuck said. “I took a varsity team (the Ravens) there in 2009 and won. We’re taking a varsity team out there again. So, I’m 1-6 against him. It’s always fun to do it, but when that ball’s kicked off, it’s football, so you forget all about that stuff.”

Backfield awareness

The Ravens lead the NFL with 45 sacks, and they’ll try to collect a few more against San Diego quarterback Philip Rivers on Sunday night. However, the manner in which they go about doing it will have to be carefully designed.

Running backs Ryan Mathews and Mike Tolbert have combined for 90 catches and 790 yards this season as the Chargers will try to discourage the Ravens from blitzing heavily by releasing their backs in open space. Baltimore will need to create pressure with its front four on passing situations to avoid the problems created by the duo of running backs.

“When we do pressure, if we do pressure them, we have to do a great job of making sure we know exactly where they are, because they will free-release them,” Pagano said. “They will get [the running back] out in a heartbeat, so they are not afraid to do that.”

When asked about the Chargers’ tendency to get the ball to their running backs in the passing game, Pagano said it’s no different than quarterback Joe Flacco finding Ray Rice in open space as vertical threats such as Torrey Smith and Lee Evans stretch the field.

“What you see from our offense, it’s the same thing,” Pagano said. “It’s the same exact offense. That’s why people have to do such a great job with handling Ray Rice. They are throwing balls vertically down the field, and everybody is dropping in coverage. Then, you dump it off to him in space.”

Weddle waiting

Flacco will have to deal with the NFL’s seventh-best pass defense in San Diego that is led by fifth-year safety Eric Weddle.

A second-round pick in the 2007 draft out of Utah, Weddle is tied for the league lead in interceptions with seven this season.

“He’s smart, he’s tough,” offensive coordinator Cam Cameron said. “Everybody that watched him coming out of college, you can see why they traded up to get him. He kind of quarterbacks the defense and is having a solid year.”

Punt return problem

With Webb’s status remaining unknown, not only will the Ravens be lacking a starting cornerback but also an impact player in the return game.

After Webb returned a punt 68 yards for a touchdown two weeks ago in Cleveland, the Ravens must now scramble to potentially find a replacement for the third-year cornerback. The most likely candidate would be veteran defensive back Chris Carr, who has handled those duties in the past, and rookie wide receiver LaQuan Williams.

“We really don’t know yet,” special teams coordinator Jerry Rosburg. “Honestly, we have to wait and see how he’s going to be on Sunday, and we’ll make a decision on Sunday.”

The use of Williams at the punt return spot would be a welcome change for the Maryland product after being inactive the last two weeks. The Baltimore native had played in the Ravens’ first 11 games before finding himself on the sidelines against Cleveland and Indianapolis.

“We have high hopes for LaQuan; I think he’s got a very bright future here,” Rosburg said. “I think that as we go forward the rest of the season, his practice reps have been good, and he’s going to be a very good special teams player, I think. The Ravens have a lot of plans for LaQuan.”

Visit the BuyAToyota.com Audio Vault right here to hear more from Chuck Pagano, Cam Cameron, Jerry Rosburg, and Haloti Ngata, who was named to USA Football’s All-Fundamentals Team for the third straight year.

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LaQuan Williams proud to play for hometown Ravens

Posted on 29 November 2011 by WNST Audio

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Gloomy prognosis for Ray Lewis and injured toe for Sunday

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Gloomy prognosis for Ray Lewis and injured toe for Sunday

Posted on 17 November 2011 by Luke Jones

(Updated: 6:00 a.m.)

OWINGS MILLS, Md. — As the Ravens inch closer to an AFC North showdown with the Cincinnati Bengals on Sunday, doubts began to grow surrounding linebacker Ray Lewis, who was absent from practice for the second straight day on Thursday.

Reports late Thursday night indicated Lewis will miss Sunday’s game and possibly more after suffering a toe injury in the loss to the Seattle Seahawks last Sunday.

Lewis saw a specialist in Florida on Thursday, according to a report from the Carroll County Times.

Listed on the injury report with a foot injury, Lewis did not appear to be favoring anything as he walked to the podium to meet reporters on Wednesday afternoon. The injury could prevent Lewis from playing on Sunday afternoon and a second missed practice in as many days cultivated concern after he struggled in last Sunday’s loss to the Seahawks.

The 16-year linebacker has not missed a game since sitting out the final two games of the 2007 season with a hand injury. The 36-year-old has made 57 straight starts for the Ravens.

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Defensive tackle Arthur Jones (concussion) and running back Anthony Allen (hamstring) were also missing from practice for the second straight day. Wide receiver Lee Evans was practicing again, the fifth straight workout in which he’s participated.

Kick returner search

The Ravens conducted their search for a new kickoff returner on Thursday and confirmed that incumbent David Reed will not be back there on Sunday. The news was hardly surprised after Reed fumbled two kickoffs and was flagged for unsportsmanlike conduct in the 22-17 loss to the Seattle Seahawks.

Special teams coordinator Jerry Rosburg would not rule out Reed as a future consideration for the job, but the Ravens believe the second-year receiver needs to prove he can take care of the football before they put him back deep again.

“He’s looking forward for the next opportunity,” Rosburg said. “Now, we don’t know when that is, and I’m certain when he does get in there again, everybody’s going to be watching him with that in mind. David’s a competitive guy, and he understands what he’s got to do to get that job back. He’s got to earn the trust of everybody on this football team that he’s going to hang onto the ball when he gets it.”

Rosburg said the Ravens will consider every possibility in finding a new returner. Candidates include Lardarius Webb, LaQuan Williams, Torrey Smith, Tandon Doss, Chris Carr, and Tom Zbikowski. Webb is listed as the backup kick returner — behind Reed — on the team’s most recent depth chart while the rookie Williams is listed as the third-string return man.

“We’re going to have a good kickoff return practice, and we’re going to find out who our kickoff returner is going to be for Sunday,” Rosburg said.

Head coach John Harbaugh said on Monday he believes Webb to be the best kick returner on the team, but his current roles as a starting cornerback and the punt returner may cause the Ravens to look elsewhere. However, they could elect to slide Webb to the kick return spot and to use Carr as the punt returner.

First-round pick ready

With rookie Jimmy Smith now having four games under his belt since returning from an ankle injury last month, many have been asking when the first-round pick can expect to see an increase role on the defense.

Since Webb and Cary Williams have played so well in starting roles, the Baltimore defense hasn’t forced the issue with Smith’s development, allowing him to readjust to the speed of the NFL after a six-week layoff. However, with Carr struggling at the nickelback position on Sunday — allowing a critical 24-yard completion to Seattle receiver Golden Tate on the final drive of the game — the Ravens may be ready to expand Smith’s role. The Colorado product saw limited reps in the dime package against the Seahawks.

“He’ll see a considerable amount of time,” defensive coordinator Chuck Pagano. “We’ve got to get him out there and get him going. He’s ready.”

Though not really suited to play inside at the nickel position, the Ravens could elect to slide Webb inside to the nickel spot, allowing Smith to line up on the outside.

Evans fitting into game plan

Optimism continues to grow around Evans, who took part in his fifth straight practice on Thursday afternoon.

Evans’ imminent return — whether it’s this week or soon thereafter — has sparked plenty of debate on where he will fit within the offense. Though the rookie Smith has displayed late-game heroics, his inconsistent hands have also hurt the Baltimore offense at critical points throughout the season.

After being acquired in a trade with the Buffalo Bills after the first preseason game in August, Evans appeared to be developing quite a rapport with quarterback Joe Flacco in a short amount of time prior to being stricken with the ankle injury. With Evans missing so much time on the field, it remains to be seen what kind of effect it will have on his comfort level with Flacco.

“That doesn’t really affect Joe a lot,” offensive coordinator Cam Cameron said. “He’s one of those unique guys that if a guy can get open, he can hit him whether he’s been with him for a week or a month. It’s really going to be predicated in how he practices. He probably needs a week or two of good practice. I think that will help.”

The improved play of Smith as well as the Ravens’ increasing reliance on tight ends Ed Dickson and Dennis Pitta appears to have bought some time for Evans to work his way back into the flow of the offense, but his addition would provide a major boost in the final stretch of the regular season.

“Some of our other guys are playing really well, and we’ve got some other options until he comes back,” Cameron said. “We’ll see how the practices go, if he’s practicing at a level that [Harbaugh] feels and we feel he can help us win a game, then I’m sure he’ll be active. That may take a week or two.”

Visit the BuyAToyota.com Audio Vault to hear from Cam Cameron, Chuck Pagano, and Jerry Rosburg right here.

 

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Harbaugh, Ravens “not licking any wounds” in aftermath of Seattle loss

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Harbaugh, Ravens “not licking any wounds” in aftermath of Seattle loss

Posted on 14 November 2011 by Luke Jones

OWINGS MILLS, Md. — John Harbaugh’s mood was exactly how you might predict it to be 24 hours following the Ravens’ third loss against a sub-.500 team this season.

The Baltimore coach was tense and defensive, clenching his teeth in response to a few questions and providing noticeably short answers on a number of occasions. While Harbaugh was clearly ready to move on to this week’s matchup with the Cincinnati Bengals, his thoughts remained unchanged regarding the Ravens’ 22-17 defeat to the lowly Seahawks.

“It feels the same way that it did [Sunday] night,” Harbaugh said. “Very disappointing loss, one that we have to regroup from, improve in a lot of different areas, and get ready to play this week. Every week in this league is a new week. Every game is a new game. At the end of the year, they count up how many you win and how many you lose.”

As media asked him about the psychology connecting the Ravens’ three losses to teams with losing records and the team’s spirits in the aftermath of the surprising defeat, Harbaugh’s explanation for the loss was blunt: three turnovers, two missed field goals, an erratic passing offense, and a defense that couldn’t get off the field in the game’s final drive.

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“We put ourselves behind the eight ball [in] too many situations and then ended up losing by just five points in a tough environment,” Harbaugh said. “You play better football, you win football games like that. That goes to all of us. That’s what we have to do — we have to coach better, we have to play better — and we’ll win those three football games [we lost].”

Answering many questions with the same theme — only different wording — Harbaugh closed the press conference with the quote of the afternoon when pressed about a perceived attitude of simply moving on to the next week before taking the proper time to focus on mistakes after three defeats to teams with losing records.

Did the Ravens take time to lick their wounds before picking themselves up off the mat on Monday?

“Licking wounds? No, we’re not licking any wounds,” Harbaugh said. “We are moving on. We correct our mistakes, and we go practice on Wednesday. And we get ready to play on Sunday.”

Running away from the run?

A heated topic of discussion on sports talk radio and internet message boards was the Ravens’ one-sided offensive attack that featured 53 passing attempts to only 12 run plays. After an initial uproar was created when Ray Rice received only eight carries in the loss to the Jacksonville Jaguars last month, the star running back received only five rushing attempts against the Seahawks.

The argument can certainly be made that offensive coordinator Cam Cameron and the Ravens panicked too soon in abandoning the run, but an early 10-0 deficit and two lost possessions in the first half — thanks to kick returner David Reed’s two fumbles — threw the offensive game plan out the window. Harbaugh also acknowledged that quarterback Joe Flacco checked out of a run play on the opening drive of the second half when he had his pass tipped into the air and intercepted, leading to another short field goal by Seahawks kicker Steve Hauschka.

“When you don’t have very many plays [in the first half], it’s hard to build up your running game,” Harbaugh said. “When you’re down, you have to throw it to get back in the game. I think every game is different. You’ve got to do in any particular game what you’ve got to do to try to move the ball.”

While many continue to call for Cameron’s job with the Ravens’ perceived refusal to run the football, Harbaugh made it clear that there was no plan to have such offensive imbalance. However, the game situation of being down two possessions and a 4-3 defensive front that continues to give the Ravens problems made it difficult to establish the ground attack.

“In the end, we definitely want to have more runs,” Harbaugh said. “I think that’s indicative of having the lead and having more plays, especially early in the game. The way the game went, we had to throw it. And based on some fronts they were giving us early, we felt like we had to throw it, too.”

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After going 92 yards, where will Flacco, Ravens go from here?

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After going 92 yards, where will Flacco, Ravens go from here?

Posted on 07 November 2011 by Luke Jones

OWINGS MILLS, Md. — In the shadow of his own end zone and only 2:24 remaining at a raucous Heinz Field, Joe Flacco stood 92 yards away from the biggest regular-season win of his four-year career.

For observers who have followed Flacco and the Ravens closely over his brief NFL career, it might as well have been 92 miles with the multiple hazards of the Pittsburgh defense waiting for him across the line of scrimmage.

We’d seen this story before — several times, in fact — and the ending was all too predictable.

To everyone but Flacco and the Ravens, apparently.

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“You don’t have anything to lose,” said Flacco in describing his mindset at the start of the drive. “You either score or you don’t score.”

On every play, Ravens supporters braced themselves for the inevitable James Harrison sack-and-strip that would end the game. They prepared themselves emotionally for the Troy Polamalu interception that would propel Steelers fans into a frenzy and send the Ravens home with another crushing defeat snatched from the jaws of victory.

Instead, Flacco continued to complete passes, moving the Ravens into Pittsburgh territory. Would this be the tease of all Flacco teases, or would the Ravens actually get it done?

Despite critical drops from Torrey Smith and Anquan Boldin just moments earlier, Flacco never wavered as he once again threw to Smith for the game-winning 26-yard touchdown with eight seconds remaining to beat the Steelers on their home turf. With apologies to the 40-yard drive he orchestrated in the final seconds last year against these same Steelers — without Ben Roethlisberger — in Pittsburgh, the words still feel foreign a day later.

Channeling Teddy Roosevelt after the game, coach John Harbaugh addressed the many critics who have questioned Flacco and his ability to beat the Steelers when it matters most. He repeated those same words Monday in his Owings Mills press conference.

“It’s not the critic who counts,” Harbaugh said. “It’s not the man who points out where the strong man stumbles or where the doer of deeds could have done better. It’s the man who’s actually in the arena.”

Anyone invested in the Ravens in some form or another have tossed their hat into the ring of trying to assess who Flacco is and where he’s going.

In a year highlighted by his inconsistency, the 26-year-old provided the signature moment of his career that both validated his supporters and silenced those questioning his ability — for the time being, anyway. For as exciting as the heroics were in Pittsburgh on Sunday night — allowing the Ravens to complete only their second regular-season sweep of the Steelers — eight games remain before Flacco and the Ravens can really begin to answer the question of how far they can really go after getting past the inconquerable mountain that’s been Pittsburgh for a second time this season.

“It doesn’t mean much if you go out and don’t win your next game and then your next game and your next game,” Harbaugh said. “At the end, it’s how many wins you have compared to how somebody else has and then the tiebreakers come in at that point. You just have to keep stacking wins.”

Sunday’s win promises nothing about Flacco or the Ravens. As they now turn their attention to the Seattle Seahawks, they will be faced with the question of responding emotionally after deflating efforts in Tennessee and Jacksonville that resulted in unexpected losses earlier this season.

Opponents will care little about the accomplishment of getting past the hated Steelers. In order to truly validate themselves in the aftermath of two victories over Pittsburgh, the Ravens must continue to grow.

The 92-yard drive doesn’t transform Flacco into an elite quarterback or suddenly erase the questions about his consistency. But, it does prove the former Delaware signal-caller is capable of winning a football game in the lion’s den under the most difficult of circumstances, to borrow an expression of a former Baltimore coach.

Will those 92 yards catapult Flacco to the next tier of quarterbacks? Will the late scoring drive put the Ravens on the road to Indianapolis in February?

Or was it just one special drive and win that will only madden observers further if the Ravens and Flacco find themselves in similar positions to what we saw in Nashville and Jacksonville?

As Harbaugh likes to say, it’s a week-to-week thing.

But if Sunday did anything, it sure made the potential future for Flacco and the Ravens a lot more interesting.

If he did it once, what’s stopping him from doing it again?

 

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Cameron provides few answers in shadow of Jacksonville debacle

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Cameron provides few answers in shadow of Jacksonville debacle

Posted on 27 October 2011 by Luke Jones

OWINGS MILLS, Md. — Facing the media less than 72 hours following one of the Ravens’ biggest offensive debacles in team history couldn’t have been an easy task for offensive coordinator Cam Cameron.

The long-time NFL coach stood tall before the press in Owings Mills, answering every question without bristling or firing back with sarcasm. His overall message of the offense needing to move past Monday’s debacle and to turn its attention toward the Arizona Cardinals was the right one, if not totally predictable.

However, when asked to address specific issues related to the Baltimore offense, Cameron didn’t say very much of substance at all. His answers were unimpressive, doing little to inspire confidence that things are turning in the right direction.

You can only hear that it comes down to execution so many times before it begins falling on deaf ears, though fully acknowledging its significant part in the overall struggles of the offense.

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When asked about quarterback Joe Flacco’s comments from a day earlier that suggested the two-minute offense would function more quickly if he were calling the plays instead of waiting for Cameron to relay them in, the offensive coordinator didn’t disagree. However, his explanation only clouded the situation further, inferring that Flacco has the autonomy to call plays but doesn’t always express a willingness to do so — for whatever reason.

“I think that’s something you always want to work toward,” Cameron said. “He and I have talked about that. Joe knows this and understands this. He can call any play that he feels that he needs to. He can suggest at any time. He’s made several suggestions this year, and he knows when he suggests one, I call it. I just believe in that, I come from that kind of environment where the quarterback gets involved in the play-calling. He’s had a significant amount of input, and I’d love for him to do that.”

Cameron hinted that Flacco’s youth was a possible factor in prohibiting him from taking more ownership in the no-huddle offense, a statement that likely won’t sit well with many with the quarterback entering his fourth season.

“The one thing you always tell [a young quarterback] is just say, ‘Hey, you got it’ and then, the next thing you know, sometimes they need help,” Cameron said. “What I’ve done with guys in the past, they look over, sometimes they need a play. I say, ‘Don’t be afraid. I don’t want your pride to get in the way if you need an idea, you need a call. All you have to do is press a button and you can talk to the guy instantly.’ It’s something that can really work.”

Far more puzzling than Cameron’s take on the two-minute offense was his assessment of the Baltimore wide receivers in Monday night’s game. Many have suggested Anquan Boldin, Torrey Smith, and LaQuan Williams struggled with the physical nature of the Jacksonville secondary, making things far more difficult on Flacco.

When asked what adjustments an offensive coordinator can make in the middle of the game when receivers are struggling to create separation in press coverage, Cameron instead went on the defensive by suggesting the receivers were more open than anyone opined and mentioning other factors that explained the failures in the passing game.

“It really wasn’t as much as everybody thought. If you look at the tape, there is separation,” Cameron said. “It’s a matter of us finding them, it’s a matter of us having time to find them. We’ve got guys open. There’s times where there’s a guy open and we didn’t have time to get him. We had people behind their secondary and didn’t have time to get it there. Maybe, one time, maybe, he didn’t see the guy. But, there was enough separation there to throw the football.

“I did hear that from somebody, but if you look at the tape, nothing could be further from the truth.”

Cameron is certainly entitled to his own opinion. And the source to which he was referring could have been one of the countless media members or fans rehashing the Ravens’ struggles against Rashean Mathis and the Jacksonville secondary.

But it was quite a contradiction to what coach John Harbaugh offered to the media in his Tuesday press conference. The Ravens head coach had a more negative view of the receivers’ performance against the Jaguars.

“We’re going to get a lot of [press coverage],” Harbaugh said. “We have to get off press. You have to get off press, and you have to get vertical and you have to make them pay – that’s the bottom line. I think we can do a better job of making them pay downfield, do a better job of making them pay on crossing routes and things like that to beat that coverage. We are capable of doing it. We have done it [earlier] this year.”

Coaches having differing opinions is nothing new, especially in the high-stakes nature of the NFL, but it does raise the question about Harbaugh’s involvement with the offense. A major point of emphasis following the Ravens’ disappointing playoff loss to Pittsburgh last January was the head coach’s increased role with the offense.

However, Cameron spoke only in generalities when asked to compare the particulars of Harbaugh’s offensive responsibilities this season as opposed to their first three seasons together in Baltimore.

“[His role] has just evolved,” Cameron said. “It’s like it would any other year — the first year to the second year to the third year. We’re always talking personnel. We’re always getting ideas, how to attack defenses, things that he sees. Just constant involvement, but he does that in all three phases. Obviously, he knows a lot of football. And I would say this, it’s a huge help. I can speak for us offensively — it’s a tremendous help.”

Complimentary for sure, but no indication of how his louder voice has impacted the offense one way or the other. A token blocking scheme suggestion or a trick play previously conjured from his days in Philadelphia would have pacified the question, but Cameron kept it vague.

It leads observers to draw one of two possible conclusions: Harbaugh is not as involved with the offense as we were led to believe, or egos might be involved in trying to sort this mess of an offense.

Either way, it doesn’t inspire much trust that possible remedies are on the horizon.

In fairness, words only do so much. Talking a good game might fool people — multiple times, even — but the spotlight shining on Cameron has never felt hotter in his four years with the Ravens.

Consistent results are necessary from everyone vested in the offense: the quarterback, the offensive line, the running backs, the wide receivers, and, yes, the coaches.

With the makings of a special defense that includes two future Hall of Famers in the latter stages of their respective careers, the offense needs to find its way quickly — and on a consistent basis.

Or, Cameron will likely find himself exiting stage left after the season.

How well or poorly he handles questions from the media doesn’t really matter.

Saying it and doing it are two different ideas.

As the offensive coordinator likes to say quite often, it’s all about execution on the field.

Visit the BuyAToyota.com Audio Vault to hear from Cam Cameron, Chuck Pagano, Ed Reed, and Jerry Rosburg right here.

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The Reality Check Presents “The Five Plays That Determined The Game: Ravens/Jaguars”

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The Reality Check Presents “The Five Plays That Determined The Game: Ravens/Jaguars”

Posted on 25 October 2011 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’ 12-7 loss to the Jacksonville Jaguars at EverBank Field…

Glenn Clark’s Plays…

5. LaQuan Williams ruled out of bounds on what would have been first down pass (1st quarter)

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4. Paul Kruger called for “running into” punter Nick Harris (2nd quarter)

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3. Drew Coleman intercepts Joe Flacco (4th quarter)

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2. Ravens called for “illegal touching” after Haruki Nakamura recovered Billy Cundiff kickoff that did not travel 10 yards (4th quarter)

cundiff

1. Josh Scobee connects on 54 yard field goal (1st quarter)

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Ravens’ rookie receivers trying to grow on the fly

Posted on 21 October 2011 by Luke Jones

OWINGS MILLS, Md. — The cliches and jargon has been tossed around since the Ravens began training camp after releasing veterans Derrick Mason and Todd Heap in late July.

The passing game will be a work in progress, but the talent is there, they said.

The Ravens acquired veteran Lee Evans halfway through the preseason to provide a vertical threat and add experience to a very young group of receivers led by veteran Anquan Boldin. Evans, however, has been stricken with a left ankle injury since the third preseason game and hasn’t played since Week 2.

In his absence, Baltimore’s rookie receivers have collected just 11 receptions in five games, good for only 40.4 percent of quarterback Joe Flacco’s 89 completions this season. Ravens wideouts accounted for 50.9 percent of Flacco’s completions last year when Mason, Boldin, and T.J. Houshmandzadeh occupied the top three spots on the depth chart.

Despite the light production from the rookie group of Torrey Smith, LaQuan Williams, and Tandon Doss, the coaching staff still claims they’re seeing development through the first five regular-season games, even if it hasn’t translated on the field.

“Just tremendous growth,” offensive coordinator Cam Cameron said. “Again, we get to see it more in practice and some of it doesn’t show up in a game because you haven’t had a chance to really see LaQuan [Williams] a lot or Tandon [Doss] a lot. But, those guys have really improved. [With] Torrey [Smith], I think it has been obvious.”

Williams has seen limited time as the Ravens’ No. 3 receiver since Cameron has used running back Ray Rice and two tight ends on the field as receivers in many cases. The undrafted free agent from Maryland has two catches for 18 yards on five targets. Doss has been a victim of possessing a similar set of skills to Boldin — a possession receiver with underwhelming speed but strong hands — and has yet to record a catch in three games.

Smith, the second-round pick from Maryland, struggled during the preseason and the first two weeks of the season — with some foolishly labeling him a bust after two games — before exploding for three touchdowns and 152 yards against St. Louis in Week 3 after receiving his first start in place of Evans. His 26.3 yards per catch average reflects his long-ball potential, but the rookie is looking to build on just nine receptions.

“That all comes with time,” said Smith, who admits receivers coach Jim Hostler is working with him on improving his technique. “We came in straight off the streets to NFL camp — not college, not high school. You’re playing with the best. I feel like I’m kind of up to speed. I’m nowhere close to where I need to be, but I’m able to produce thanks to our coaches and Anquan being a great help.”

Smith is gaining a greater understanding of the intricacies of the entire passing tree at the NFL level, expanding upon his ability to simply run go routes and working more effectively in the short and intermediate parts of the field.

“Torrey is improving each week on his different routes,” Flacco said. “Whether it’s coming across the middle or starting to run comebacks, they look better. The more comfortable they get with what they’re doing in this offense, the more they can focus on getting open and the little nuances of those routes — how to get open [and] not just run them to run them.”

One of the biggest criticisms of Smith in the early stages of the preseason was his inability to decipher how defenders were trying to play him. As a result, the former Terps receiver appeared hesitant in running routes, to the point it appeared he would occasionally give up on a pattern.

However, more game experience has led to an increased level of awareness in how defenses account for him.

“You can see that he can see coverages now,” Cameron said. “He is not getting surprised by coverages. He is pushing the defense, he is playing fast. I think you can see the mental growth. The physical part pretty much speaks for itself.”

Even with improvement, the Ravens need more production from their rookies to complement the efforts of Boldin, who turned in his first 100-yard receiving game of the season against Houston. Baltimore’s 13th-ranked passing game will continue to fluctuate from week to week unless Smith — or some combination of the rookies — provides more consistency.

And, as the Ravens quarterback puts it, that happens by playing without the fear of making mistakes.

“They have to go out there and have success,” Flacco said, “so that they can feel like they can go out there and do those things without thinking about the consequences of what happens if [they're] wrong.

“When you’re out there on the football field, just like really anything in life, if you’re thinking about the consequences and, ‘Hey, what happens if I do this wrong?’ you’re not going to operate. You’re not going to do as well as you would if you’re just out there playing free.”

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