Tag Archive | "Lardarius Webb"

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Webb, Gradkowski to undergo minor procedures with season over

Posted on 31 December 2013 by Luke Jones

OWINGS MILLS, Md. — With the 2013 season now officially in the books for the Ravens, a pair of starters will undergo minor surgical procedures to correct ailments this offseason.

According to coach John Harbaugh, cornerback Lardarius Webb will have sports hernia surgery after playing through pain in the second half of the season. Webb was listed on the injury report regularly over the final two months of the season with an abdominal injury, which was an indication that he was playing at less than 100 percent.

“He did a nice job with that late in the season,” Harbaugh said. “The thing about sports hernias — if you know anything about it — it’s just painful. Jimmy [Smith] had that last year and had the procedure during the season.”

Starting center Gino Gradkowski will have a procedure to clean up some cartilage issues in his right knee. He was limited in practice last week and was listed as questionable despite playing in the Ravens’ 34-17 loss to Cincinnati in Week 17.

Beyond those two ailments, Harbaugh was unaware of any other scheduled offseason surgeries for players as he praised head certified athletic trainer Mark Smith for the work his staff did in keeping the Ravens healthy this season.

“We got out of the season really healthy,” Harbaugh said. “I thought Mark did a really good job of managing our guys and getting them back as soon as they could but not too early where they [were] reinjured. We didn’t have too many re-injuries, and that’s huge. That’s good news for our guys going into the offseason.”

With the season now over, quarterback Joe Flacco will have time to rest his left knee after he suffered a mild sprain of his medial collateral ligament in a Week 15 win in Detroit, but the injury will not require surgery this winter.

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Our Ravens/Patriots “Slaps to the Head”

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Our Ravens/Patriots “Slaps to the Head”

Posted on 22 December 2013 by Glenn Clark

After Baltimore Ravens victories, Ryan Chell and I award players who made positive contributions with “Pats on the Ass” during the Creative Deck Designs Postgame Show on AM1570 WNST.net.

The Ravens fell to the New England Patriots 41-7 Sunday at M&T Bank Stadium, meaning there were no Pats to be awarded.

So instead of offering “Pats on the Ass”, Ryan and I offered “Slaps to the Head” postgame. A slap on the side of the head from a coach tends to come along with them saying something along the lines of “you’ve gotta do better than that.”

Same rules as there were with Pats. Two offensive players, two defensive players, and a Wild Card (Special Teams player, coach, or another Offensive or Defensive player). One player gets “two slaps” (or a slap on both sides of the head), it’s the opposite of a “Player of the Game” honor.” Ryan and I select five different players/coaches after each game.

Here are our five Ravens that have “gotta do better than that.”

Glenn Clark’s Slaps…

5. Lardarius Webb

4. Jimmy Smith

3. Michael Oher

2. John Harbaugh

1. Joe Flacco (Two Slaps)

(Continued on Page 2…)

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The Five Plays That Determined The Game: Ravens/Lions

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The Five Plays That Determined The Game: Ravens/Lions

Posted on 17 December 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’ 18-16 win over the Detroit Lions Monday night at Ford Field…

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

Glenn Clark’s Plays…

5. Louis Delmas called for unnecessary roughness after Joe Flacco pass intended for Marlon Brown incomplete on 3rd down (2nd quarter)

Ended up giving the Ravens three points in a spot where they would have gotten nothing.

4. Daryl Smith sacks Matthew Stafford for five yard loss at Baltimore 47 (1st quarter)

Lions had moved the ball at will on first two drives until this play, game appeared to be headed to a shootout or even a blowout.

3. Matt Elam intercepts Matthew Stafford pass intended for Nate Burleson (4th quarter)

The “ender”.

2. Jacoby Jones 27 yard catch from Joe Flacco on 3rd & 15 (4th quarter)

The significance of this play has somehow been lost.

1. Justin Tucker 61 yard field goal GOOD (4th quarter)

I still don’t believe it.

(Continued on Page 2…)

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Dumervil primed to return to action for Ravens on Monday night

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Dumervil primed to return to action for Ravens on Monday night

Posted on 14 December 2013 by Luke Jones

OWINGS MILLS, Md. — Making final preparations to begin a critical three-game stretch to close the 2013 regular season, the Ravens appear to be in good shape for Monday’s trip to Detroit to take on the 7-6 Lions.

Outside linebacker Elvis Dumervil (ankle) practiced for the second straight day on Saturday and is considered a good bet to play despite being listed as questionable on the final injury report. The 29-year-old missed last week’s game against the Minnesota Vikings with a left ankle injury suffered on Thanksgiving night against Pittsburgh but practiced on a limited basis to close this week.

Every player on the 53-man roster practiced over the last two days of the week leading into their first meeting against Detroit since 2009 as the Ravens appear as healthy as they’ve been all season with three regular-season games remaining.

“I’d say so. It probably is,” coach John Harbaugh said. “If you look at the course of the season [and] even last year, this is probably as healthy as we’ve been.”

The Ravens would like to have Dumervil back to boost a pass rush that’s failed to record a sack since the Week 12 win over the New York Jets on Nov. 24. Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford has only been sacked 15 times this season, but the Baltimore defense would like to disrupt the league’s third-ranked passing game as much as possible with Dumervil providing speed off the opposite edge to rush linebacker Terrell Suggs.

The Baltimore defense is now tied for ninth in the NFL with 37 sacks after a two-game drought as Dumervil and Suggs have combined for 18 1/2 this season. Baltimore has pointed to the pocket prowess of Pittsburgh quarterback Ben Roethlisberger two weeks ago and the poor field conditions last Sunday to explain why the sacks haven’t come over the last two games.

“Obviously, we’d like to get sacks,” defensive coordinator Dean Pees said. “I think you’d be surprised, though, how many times we actually hit the quarterback. When you watch the film, we may not be getting a sack if the ball is coming out quick, and there’s no way a guy can do that. He can’t get there in time if the ball is coming out quick. But you’re also getting what you want by the ball coming out quick. We’re getting quite a few hits.

“Elvis has been out, and that’s been a little bit of a factor, but the truth is the ball is coming out a lot quicker in these last two games. That’s smart football by their part.”

Cornerback Lardarius Webb (abs) was listed as probable and rookie safety Brynden Trawick (ankle) is questionable for Monday night’s game after both practiced on a limited basis all week. Webb was never considered to be in danger of missing the Detroit game, but Trawick is more of a question mark after missing the last two contests due to a high ankle sprain.

Meanwhile, the Lions are dealing with injuries in their secondary as cornerbacks Chris Houston (toe) and Darius Slay (knee) were both designated as doubtful after missing practices all week. With Houston unlikely to go, Detroit will likely start Jonte Green in his place opposite other starting corner Rashean Mathis. Starting free safety Louis Delmas also missed two practices this week with a knee issue despite being listed as probable on the final injury report.

Running back Reggie Bush (calf) and defensive end Ezekiel Ansah (shoulder) were both listed as questionable, but they are expected to play after practicing on Friday and Saturday.

All-Pro wide receiver Calvin Johnson is probable after being limited in practices all week.

The referee for Monday night’s game will be Carl Cheffers.

With strong ties to the state of Michigan, Harbaugh handled a slew of ticket requests for Monday night’s game but provided the stipulation that friends receiving tickets must wear purple in lieu of Lions blue. Harbaugh admitted that the requests got “a little more expensive” than he initially planned in his first trip to Detroit as the Ravens coach.

“There will be some purple there,” said Harbaugh, referencing the Lions’ instructions to have all fans wear Honolulu blue for Monday’s game. “You can count on that.”

Here is the final injury report of the week:

BALTIMORE
QUESTIONABLE: LB Elvis Dumervil (ankle), S Brynden Trawick (ankle)
PROBABLE: CB Lardarius Webb (abs)

DETROIT
DOUBTFUL: CB Chris Houston (toe), CB Darius Slay (knee)
QUESTIONABLE: DE Ezekiel Ansah (shoulder), RB Reggie Bush (calf)
PROBABLE: S Louis Delmas (knee), WR Calvin Johnson (knee), DE Isreal Idonije (knee), T LaAdrian Waddle (elbow), S John Wendling (illness)

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Extra motivation not required for Lions’ Johnson

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Extra motivation not required for Lions’ Johnson

Posted on 12 December 2013 by Luke Jones

OWINGS MILLS, Md. — Ravens safety Matt Elam certainly provided the flavor needed for an extra day of buildup for Monday’s meeting with the Detroit Lions.

While also offering words of praise for All-Pro wide receiver Calvin Johnson, Elam naively called the 28-year-old receiver “pretty old” while questioning the 6-foot-5, 236-pound wideout’s physicality on Wednesday. Johnson took the bait in Thursday’s conference call with the Baltimore media, vowing to show Elam and the Baltimore secondary his “old-man strength,” but anyone extending the rookie’s comments any further in thinking it will impact Monday’s outcome is reaching.

Though the 22-year-old Elam put a target on his back and left himself open for criticism should Johnson get behind him for a long touchdown or two, you don’t need outside motivation when you’re the best wide receiver on the planet and on track to become one of the greatest in NFL history. Those pointing to Johnson’s 329-yard receiving day against Dallas that followed Dez Bryant’s inflammatory comments earlier this year overlook the role the Cowboys’ 32nd-ranked pass defense played in the career day.

Simply put, there’s no such thing as waking a sleeping giant when he’s already been stomping on opponents every week.

“Would you think that Calvin Johnson is going to come to a Monday night game on national television and not play his best game anyway [until] a rookie said something? I doubt it,” said cornerback Jimmy Smith, who would suffer as much as anyone if Elam’s comments actually impacted the receiver’s Monday performance. “If they’re going to take it as, ‘That’s poster-board [material]; we’re going to take it even harder now,’ then they don’t have the right mentality coming to play a Monday night game anyway.”

Elam’s silly comments aside, the Ravens face arguably the biggest nightmare in the NFL today in trying to slow the seventh-year receiver, who last year set an NFL single-season record with 1,964 receiving yards. Johnson ranks second in the league with 1,351 receiving yards and second with 12 touchdown catches as he’s reined in 75 passes this season.

Fortunate to only have to face Johnson once every four years, the Ravens will need to contain the monstrous playmaker to earn only their second road win of the season and maintain their enviable position as the current No. 6 seed in the AFC. Meanwhile, the Lions find themselves in a dogfight with Chicago and Green Bay for the NFC North division title.

“‘Megatron.’ Anytime somebody has a nickname like that, the kid is real,” linebacker Terrell Suggs said. “He is probably arguably the best receiver in the game. It’s going to take all 11 guys, especially tending to him. The pass rush is going to be key; running the ball is going to be key. They do a lot of things with him, [and] he ends up in a lot of places. But it’s also fun [when] you get to play against a guy like that.”

Looking beyond his obvious physical gifts, scheming how to cover Johnson is problematic because he’ll line up in a variety of different ways in offensive coordinator Scott Linehan’s system. Double teams and bracketed coverage sound great — and necessary — in principle, but the Lions effectively move him around various formations to create favorable matchups for him against the defense.

With that in mind, many have suggested that defensive coordinator Dean Pees assign the 6-foot-2 Smith — who’s been the team’s best cornerback this season — to follow Johnson wherever he lines up. Such a strategy goes against the Ravens’ normal way of keeping Smith at right cornerback and Lardarius Webb on the left side in the base defense.

The third-year defensive back Smith has embraced being physical against top receivers such as Cincinnati’s A.J. Green and Chicago’s Brandon Marshall, often getting the best of those matchups this season. Finally living up to the hype of being a first-round pick in the 2011 draft, Smith said he’d embrace the opportunity to shadow Johnson wherever he lines up if that’s what the Ravens ask him to do.

“Absolutely,” Smith said. “Prime-time television in front of the nation? We don’t move around a lot because we’ve got a lot of confidence in our corners. Whatever the game plan we bring on Monday night, that’s how we’re going to bring it. If they ask us to move and do things, we’re always going to be willing to do that.”

The Ravens secondary has spoken this week of embracing the challenge of slowing down Johnson, but they’ll need to avoid giving up the big play that’s plagued them all season. Baltimore has surrendered 16 pass plays of 40 or more yards this season — most in the NFL — while lacking a true free safety in the secondary.

Johnson alone has 20 receptions of 20 or more yards this season as his speed coupled with his ability to break tackles often leads to explosive plays on even shorter passes from quarterback Matthew Stafford. Missed assignments and shaky tackling have plagued the back end of the defense at various points this season, including the final two minutes of their win over Minnesota in which the Ravens gave up a 41-yard touchdown run and a 79-yard touchdown pass.

“Sometimes a team makes a great play,” Smith said. “Sometimes, it’s us with a mental error, doing something that we don’t usually do throughout the first four quarters of our game. Something like that [happens], and some big plays pops.”

Even if Smith, Webb, and No. 3 cornerback Corey Graham are at the top of their game in trying to cover Johnson, the Ravens must try to revitalize a pass rush that’s largely been in hibernation over the last two games. Baltimore didn’t record a quarterback sack against Pittsburgh or Minnesota as the defense battled Ben Roethlisberger and snow-covered field conditions in successive weeks.

Getting pressure won’t be easy as the Detroit offensive line has allowed only 15 sacks all season and Stafford likes to get rid of the ball quickly, meaning the Ravens must get hands up in passing lanes and at least provide enough discomfort to force quicker-than-normal throws if they can’t get to the Lions signal-caller in the pocket. Turnovers have been a problem for an otherwise-explosive offense as Stafford will rush through his progressions and force throws that sometimes aren’t there — even to Johnson.

The Ravens know their task is a tall one as they face the league’s second-ranked offense with Johnson the biggest reason why. The defense’s goal will be to keep him in front of the secondary, settling for completions with the goal of preventing game-changing plays.

But that’s the intention of opposing defenses week after week, with few units finding success.

“We’ve got our work cut out for us,” linebacker Elvis Dumervil said. “These are the games that we have to put that work in and definitely put that work in for earlier in the year. It will be a great challenge.”

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Our Ravens/Steelers “Pats on the Ass”

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Our Ravens/Steelers “Pats on the Ass”

Posted on 29 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’ 22-20 win over the Pittsburgh Steelers Thanksgiving night at M&T Bank Stadium…

Glenn’s Pats…

5. Bernard Pierce

 

4. James Ihedigbo

 

3. Lardarius Webb

 

2. Torrey Smith

1. Justin Tucker (Pat on Both Cheeks)

(Continued on Page 2….)

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Ravens-Jets: Inactives and pre-game notes

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Ravens-Jets: Inactives and pre-game notes

Posted on 24 November 2013 by Luke Jones

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

BALTIMORE — It’s rare to find a game with playoff implications between two teams lacking a winning record, but that’s exactly where the Ravens and Jets find themselves in the muddled AFC wild-card picture in late November.

The 5-5 Jets come to Baltimore currently holding the No. 6 seed in the conference by way of a tiebreaker over the Miami Dolphins, but a Ravens win would pull them even with the Jets and Baltimore already holds a head-to-head tiebreaker against Miami with the Week 5 win over the Dolphins. Of course, the Ravens view the start of a three-game homestand as a golden opportunity to not only climb back to and above the .500 mark but to solidify their chances of advancing to the postseason for a sixth consecutive season under coach John Harbaugh.

Defensive tackle Haloti Ngata (knee) will play after being listed as questionable and being deemed a game-time decision on Friday. The Pro Bowl nose tackle went through a pre-game warmup with defensive line coach Clarence Brooks, firing out of a three-point stance several times to test the explosiveness and stability of his left knee.

It will be interesting to see how the Ravens handle his workload considering he logged only one practice this week and another game awaits in just four days with the Steelers coming to town Thanksgiving night.

As we learned Saturday, tight end Dennis Pitta (hip) remains on injured reserve with the designation to return after the Ravens elected not to place him on the 53-man roster for Sunday’s meeting with the Jets. Pitta practiced all week, but the organization wants to take its time in determining that Pitta is healthy and ready to return to live-game action.

As expected, cornerback Lardarius Webb (abs) and inside linebacker Daryl Smith (hamstring) are active and will start despite being listed as questionable on the final injury report of the week. Neither player’s status was really in doubt after they practiced on a limited basis all week.

Wide receiver Brandon Stokley (groin) is active for the first time since Week 3, which might be a sign of the Ravens emphasizing the short passing game with the high winds expected throughout the game. Fellow receiver Deonte Thompson is inactive for Sunday’s game.

Meanwhile, the Jets will be without top receiver Jeremy Kerley (elbow), who was ruled out on Saturday after initially being listed as doubtful against the Ravens.

For the third straight game in which the Ravens have been involved, high winds will be a factor as temperatures are only expected to rise to the mid-30s. Winds will be as high as 26 miles per hour, but at least the Ravens should be used to such conditions after the brutal weather in Chicago last week.

Sunday marks the ninth time the Ravens and the Jets have met in the regular season with Baltimore holding an impressive 7-1 record in the all-time series. The Ravens have won seven straight while New York has never beaten them in Baltimore and last won a game over the Ravens in 1997.

The Ravens are wearing purple jerseys with black pants while the Jets will don white tops with white pants on Sunday afternoon.

The referee for Sunday’s game will be Jeff Triplette.

Here are Sunday’s inactives:

BALTIMORE
CB Asa Jackson
S Omar Brown
RB Bernard Scott
OL Ryan Jensen
WR Deonte Thompson
LB John Simon
DT Brandon Williams

NEW YORK
QB David Garrard
WR Jeremy Kerley
RB Alex Green
LB Garrett McIntyre
G Will Campbell
T Ben Ijalana
OL Oday Aboushi

Follow WNST on Twitter throughout the afternoon for updates and analysis as Drew Forrester, Nestor Aparicio, and I bring live coverage from M&T Bank Stadium throughout the day.

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Ngata questionable for Jets game after returning to practice Friday

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Ngata questionable for Jets game after returning to practice Friday

Posted on 22 November 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. — Ravens defensive tackle Haloti Ngata joined the rest of his teammates on the field for the final full practice of the week and is listed as questionable for Sunday’s game against the New York Jets.

Listed as a limited participant after sitting out on Wednesday and Thursday, Ngata (left knee) was suited up during the portion of the workout open to the media. The 340-pound defensive lineman played catch and did some light high-knee movement but was not very active during the first 20 minutes of practice.

Ngata hadn’t taken part in a practice since injuring his left knee two weeks ago against the Cincinnati Bengals even though he returned to finish playing in that game. The Ravens used a combination of Terrence Cody, DeAngelo Tyson, and rookie Brandon Williams in Ngata’s absence last Sunday.

“He practiced today, so we’ll just have to see how he comes out of that right now,” coach John Harbaugh said. “And it will be interesting to see how he fared and how he feels tomorrow. We’ll just have to see how he’s doing.”

Cornerback Lardarius Webb (abs) and linebacker Daryl Smith (thigh) are also listed as questionable but are both expected to play after practicing on a limited basis all week. Wide receivers Marlon Brown (knee) and Brandon Stokley (thigh) are both probable for Sunday’s game.

Tight end Dennis Pitta (hip) did extensive individual work during Friday’s practice, running routes and cutting well while working with tight ends coach Wade Harman. It was the most active Pitta had looked in his three days during the viewing portion of practices.

The Ravens would need to place Pitta on the 53-man roster by 4 p.m. on Saturday in order for him to play against the Jets. He said several times Wednesday about a need to take things slow in his return to the practice field, but the Ravens also have a history of being aggressive in activating some players coming back from injuries over the last couple years.

“We’re going to see how I feel tomorrow. We’ll see how I feel the next day and then go from there,” Pitta said. “There’s always an adjustment when you’re doing it for the first time again. It comes back quick and it’s feeling good. I’ll just continue to keep working on it and get it more comfortable.”

Harbaugh said “there is always a chance” that Pitta could play on Sunday, but it would still be considered a surprise if the fourth-year tight end suited up this quickly after his return to practice. The Ravens are not required to list Pitta on the injury report since he is not part of the active roster.

The Baltimore coach revealed that left guard Kelechi Osemele underwent back surgery earlier this week and the procedure was “very successful.” The expected recovery time is three to four months after the second-year lineman was officially placed on injured reserve Nov. 8.

“He was in a little bit of pain,” Harbaugh said. “I had a chance to spend some time with him and his mom and his fiancee yesterday. He walked through the building, so he’s up and walking, very gingerly. But he’ll start his recovery and his rehab now.”

The Jets listed linebacker Garrett McIntyre (knee) and wide receiver Jeremy Kerley (elbow) as doubtful for Sunday’s game but designated tight end Kellen Winslow (knee) and wide receiver Santonio Holmes (foot/hamstring) as probable despite each missing practices this week.

The referee for Sunday’s game will be Jeff Triplette.

Though Sunday’s forecast in Baltimore pales in comparison to the severe conditions witnessed in Chicago, the Ravens will once again deal with high winds as temperatures are expected to be in the mid-30s with winds up to 24 miles per hour.

Here is the final injury report of the week:

BALTIMORE
QUESTIONABLE: DT Haloti Ngata (knee), LB Daryl Smith (thigh), CB Lardarius Webb (Abs)
PROBABLE: WR Marlon Brown (knee), WR Brandon Stokley (thigh)

NEW YORK
DOUBTFUL: LB Garrett McIntyre (knee), WR Jeremy Kerley (elbow)
PROBABLE: OL Willie Colon (calf), CB Antonio Cromartie (hip), DL Kenrick Ellis (back), QB David Garrard (knee), WR Stephen Hill (knee), WR Santonio Holmes (foot/hamstring), WR David Nelson (illness), WR Greg Salas (finger), TE Kellen Winslow (knee)

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Ravens list six starters as questionable against Bears for Sunday

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Ravens list six starters as questionable against Bears for Sunday

Posted on 15 November 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 saw three players return to the practice field on Friday before listing six starters as questionable for Sunday’s game against the Chicago Bears.

The players given that designation included nose tackle Haloti Ngata (knee), cornerbacks Lardarius Webb (groin) and Jimmy Smith (groin), inside linebacker Daryl Smith (hamstring), safety James Ihedigbo (toe), and wide receiver Marlon Brown, who was a new addition to the injury report after sitting out Friday’s practice.

Webb, Daryl Smith, and defensive end Chris Canty (knee) returned to the practice field after missing time earlier in the week. Canty was added to Thursday’s injury report as a non-participant while the other two were sidelined on Wednesday and Thursday.

“Those guys have all done a good job,” said coach John Harbaugh, who deferred to the injury report released later in the day when asked about the team’s health. “They all work really hard & do everything they can to get back.”

Ngata was present and suited up to practice during the portion open for media viewing but was listed as a non-participant. However, the fact that he made it to the field could be interpreted as a positive sign for his status after spraining his left knee and temporarily leaving the field during last Sunday’s win over the Cincinnati Bengals.

Smith deemed himself healthy enough to play against the Bears as he’s missed four practices over the last two weeks with what’s listed as a thigh injury. He left the field gingerly in overtime before the Ravens prevailed 20-17 to improve their record to 4-5 on the season.

“I feel pretty good, ready to go,” said Smith after working on a limited basis Friday. “Hopefully it won’t be a habit, but I took a couple days to do a little rehab and let everything settle down and rest. I’m looking forward to Sunday.”

Outside linebacker Terrell Suggs (neck) practiced fully after being added to the report as a limited participant due to a reported collision in Thursday’s practice. He and Canty were both designated as probable to play on Sunday.

Ihedigbo and Jimmy Smith practiced on a limited basis all week, making it very likely that both will play despite being given the questionable designation..

Sunday’s forecast in Chicago is calling for strong storms and high winds with an 80-percent chance of precipitation and winds gusting up to 28 miles per hour. Despite that less-than-promising combination, temperatures are expected to rise into the low 60s.

“Footing will be an issue there,” said Harbaugh about the conditions and how they can impact the overall game plan. “It’s probably more of a situation where you have the various game-plan options that you need plays-wise and things like that available, but you won’t know until you start playing the game how it’s going to affect the game.”

The referee for the game between the Ravens and Bears will be Gene Steratore.

Here is the final injury report of the week:

BALTIMORE
QUESTIONABLE – DT Haloti Ngata (knee), LB Daryl Smith (thigh), CB Lardarius Webb (groin), Marlon Brown (knee), S James Ihedigbo (toe), CB Jimmy Smith (groin)
PROBABLE – DE Chris Canty (knee), RB Bernard Pierce (toe/knee), WR Brandon Stokley (thigh), LB Terrell Suggs (neck)

CHICAGO
OUT: LB Lance Briggs (shoulder), QB Jay Cutler (ankle), DT Jeremiah Ratliff (groin)
DOUBTFUL: LS Patrick Mannelly (calf), DE Shea McClellin (hamstring)
QUESTIONABLE: TE Martellus Bennett (ankle)
PROBABLE: T Jordan Mills (quad)

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Bears passing game dangerous despite backup McCown under center

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Bears passing game dangerous despite backup McCown under center

Posted on 14 November 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 Chicago Bears are one of the NFL’s cornerstone franchises built around a reputation of menacing defense that’s stretched across decades of professional football.

However, this year’s team under new head coach Marc Trestman centers around an explosive passing game despite injuries that have sidelined starting quarterback Jay Cutler and thrust 34-year-old journeyman Josh McCown into action for the better part of the last month. With Cutler sidelined for Sunday’s tilt against the Ravens, McCown will again serve in a starting capacity, but the number of pass-catching targets at his disposal qualifies as a new version of the “Monsters of the Midway.”

Of course, the Baltimore defense did exceptional work against Cincinnati’s talented group of receivers led by A.J. Green last Sunday, but the Bears bring a level of physicality that the tall but wiry Bengals receivers do not provide. Leading the way is the 6-foot-4, 230-pound Brandon Marshall, who is coming off back-to-back Pro Bowl seasons and ranks ninth in the NFL with 786 receiving yards and tied for sixth with eight touchdown catches.

“He catches the ball no matter where you put it,” said cornerback Lardarius Webb, who is coming off his best game of the season in Week 10. “If you put it somewhere around him, he can make the catch. That’s what makes him so dangerous. You have to know where he’s at at all times on the field. Wherever he’s lined up, we need to know because he’s a game-changer.”

What makes Marshall so dangerous is Trestman’s willingness to line him up in a variety of places on the field, making it difficult for defenses to find the best matchup consistently. Even if the Ravens are able to harness Marshall, the emergency of second-year receiver Alshon Jeffery has forced pass defenses to pick their poison when electing to bracket coverage on Marshall, leaving the 2012 second-round pick matched up in single coverage.

After an underwhelming rookie season in which he caught just 24 passes for 367 yards, the 6-foot-3 Jeffery is 13th in the league with 735 receiving yards, giving the Bears one of the best pass-catching duos in the NFL. With the Ravens possessing only one cornerback taller than six feet — starter Jimmy Smith — Webb and No. 3 cornerback Corey Graham will need to play in a physical manner similar to how they played last week against the Bengals.

“[Jeffery] catches everything. He goes up and gets the ball,” cornerback Corey Graham said. “I can’t remember the last time I’ve seen him drop a pass on film. If you’re not attacking the ball and going up and making a play, he’s going to get it.”

The news doesn’t get much better beyond that as 6-foot-6 tight end Martellus Bennett has caught four touchdowns and running back Matt Forte is regarded as one of the most dangerous receivers in the league out of the backfield. The Ravens will find size everywhere they look in the Bears passing game, making their ability to pressure McCown that much more critical in Sunday’s tilt at Soldier Field.

It remains to be seen whether defensive coordinator Dean Pees will once again use Webb inside in the nickel package, but the ability of safeties James Ihedigbo and Matt Elam to gain good position in coverage against Bennett will be a major challenge in containing the Chicago passing attack, especially inside the red zone.

Even with an array of power forward-like targets to throw to, McCown must still deal with a defense tied for third in the NFL with 32 sacks. The Ravens were able to harass Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton into throwing three interceptions and will look for similar results against the career backup, who has completed 60 percent of his passes for four touchdowns and no interceptions in three games this season.

Baltimore has talked all week about the takeaway outburst against Cincinnati being the result of preparation finally coming together and will try to prove it wasn’t simply the result of some different defensive looks mixed with good fortune against their division rivals in the 20-17 overtime win.

“You all just happened to see a byproduct of all the work that we put in,” linebacker Jameel McClain said. “We got put in the position to get those plays. I always like to say that turnovers and interceptions are an accumulation of preparation and luck. Some of those plays, [the ball] landed in the perfect position. It’s luck, but it’s preparation for being there.”

Rare chance for running game

The struggles of the Ravens’ historically-poor running game have been discussed ad nauseam, but Sunday may represent their best last chance of hope that the ground production can improve in the second half of the season.

The Bears rank 31st in the league against the run and are giving up just under 130 rushing yards per game this season. The season-ending loss of defensive tackle Henry Melton in September and the current shoulder injury sidelining outside linebacker Lance Briggs haven’t done the defense any favors as the Bears have needed to lean heavily on offense to build a 5-4 record.

It remains to be seen how offensive coordinator Jim Caldwell will handle the workload in the running game after head coach John Harbaugh suggested performance will dictate how many carries struggling starter Ray Rice and backup Bernard Pierce will receive moving forward. Rice is averaging just 2.5 yards per carry while Pierce isn’t much better at 2.8 as both have battled injuries this season.

“We’re working to get better,” Rice said. “I know I’ve worked my butt off to get back on the field to play at a high level. I’ve just got to keep myself motivated, because I know once the opportunity comes and we rip off one of those big gains, we’ll be saying, ‘Well there it goes.’ The day will come.”

If the day doesn’t come Sunday against one of the league’s worst run defenses, it may be time to close the book on any hope for improvement in the Ravens’ rushing attack.

Hester the home-run hitter

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