BALTIMORE — The Ravens begin their 2014 journey trying to get back to the postseason against the Cincinnati Bengals at M&T Bank Stadium on Sunday afternoon.
But they’ll have to do it without starting cornerback Lardarius Webb, who was ruled inactive for the season opener.
Webb was out on the field two hours before kickoff stretching and working on lateral movement and his backpedal with secondary coach Steve Spagnuolo before ultimately being ruled out. The sixth-year defensive back was stricken with back spasms on the second day of full-squad workouts on July 25 and missed the entire preseason, making concerns more about rust than how his back feels at this point with so little time to get in playing shape.
His absence leaves the Ravens with only three true cornerbacks on the 46-man game-day roster — Jimmy Smith, Chykie Brown, and Asa Jackson. However, safety Anthony Levine also played cornerback in the preseason, and rookie safety Terrence Brooks saw extensive playing time at the inside nickel spot. The Ravens waived veteran cornerback Derek Cox on Saturday, which many interpreted as a sign that Webb would be ready to play.
Brown was working opposite Smith in the starting defense during pre-game warmups.
The only other player who appeared on the Ravens’ final injury report this week was running back Bernard Pierce (concussion), who was listed as probable and is active for Sunday’s game.
A surprising player on the inactive list was inside linebacker Arthur Brown, who was a healthy scratch and was the Ravens’ second-round pick a year ago. Offensive linemen Jah Reid and John Urschel were also healthy inactives, leaving only Gino Gradkowski and James Hurst as available reserves behind the starting line.
Meanwhile, the Bengals will be without one of their starting receivers as Marvin Jones was ruled out at the beginning of the week as he continues to recover from a broken foot suffered in the preseason. Third-year wideout Mohamed Sanu is expected to start in Jones’ place opposite Pro Bowl wide receiver A.J. Green.
First-round cornerback Darqueze Dennard was also ruled inactive after being listed as questionable with a hip injury.
Baltimore is meeting Cincinnati for the 37th time in franchise history. The Ravens hold the 20-16 edge in the all-time series and are 13-5 against the Bengals at home.
The Ravens will be wearing white jerseys with white pants while Cincinnati sports black tops and white pants for Week 1.
The referee for Sunday’s game will be Gene Steratore.
The forecast in Baltimore calls for temperatures in the low 80s with no chance of precipation and winds below 10 miles per hour, according to Weather.com.
Here are Sunday’s inactives:
CB Lardarius Webb
WR Michael Campanaro
LB Arthur Brown
OL John Urschel
OL Jah Reid
WR Deonte Thompson
RB Fitz Toussaint
CB Darqueze Dennard
RB Rex Burkhead
LB Sean Porter
OL T.J. Johnson
WR Marvin Jones
WR James Wright
DE Will Clarke
Follow WNST on Twitter throughout the afternoon for updates and analysis as Nestor Aparicio and I bring live coverage from M&T Bank Stadium.