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Dixon eager to prove himself in Ravens’ crowded backfield

Posted on 10 May 2016 by Luke Jones

The Ravens already had plenty of depth at the running back position when they selected Louisiana Tech’s Kenneth Dixon in the fourth round.

The question is whether someone will emerge as the clear-cut feature back for 2016 and beyond. Ranked by some as high as the second-best running back in the draft behind fourth overall selection Ezekiel Elliott, Dixon surprisingly fell all the way to the 134th pick where the Ravens snatched him up with the last of their record five fourth-round choices.

Watching his college highlights filled with big plays and impressive vision, it isn’t difficult to figure out which running back he tries to imitate on the football field as he wore No. 28 and averaged 11.1 yards per reception to go along with his robust 5.6 yards per carry over four seasons with the Bulldogs.

“The running back I really looked up to is Marshall Faulk,” Dixon said. “Just looking at his journey, just his work ethic that he had and the perseverance that he had through life. It’s always great, so that’s kind of who I modeled my game after.”

Of course, the Ravens would be thrilled if he could be half the player that Faulk was, but his physical gifts don’t stand out, a reason why he remained on teams’ draft boards until the end of the fourth round. His 4.58-second 40-yard dash time is good enough but hardly special and his 5-foot-10, 215-pound frame isn’t imposing, but then you watch his tape and look at his production as a four-year starter and can’t help but be intrigued.

Over four seasons, Dixon rushed for 4,483 yards on 802 carries — a heavy college workload that also might have scared some teams away — and caught 87 passes for 969 yards. His 87 career touchdowns temporarily gave him the NCAA Division I record last December before it was eclipsed by new Ravens teammate Keenan Reynolds, who is now Dixon’s roommate.

“It was kind of bittersweet. I was kind of mad at the time, but I’m especially happy for him and his journey,” said Dixon, who added that his mother is a huge Reynolds fan and asked for his autograph. “We all have different journeys, different walks through football. You never want to knock someone else’s walk through football. I gave him his props and everything.

“I told him if I had those other two [extra] games, he probably wouldn’t have been the leader.”

Dixon smiled as he noted that Reynolds had played in 13 games as a senior compared to his 11, but he’ll need that competitive fire in a backfield that includes 2014 Pro Bowl selection Justin Forsett, 2015 fourth-round selection Buck Allen, 2014 fourth-rounder Lorenzo Taliaferro, 2014 third-round pick Terrance West, and Trent Richardson, the third overall pick of the 2012 draft who is trying to revitalize his career. Of those six, the Ravens figure to keep four at most on their 53-man roster.

Plenty of intriguing talent, but who will seize the opportunity and run with it?

It would be unwise to overlook the man who scored more touchdowns than any running back in FBS history.

“It’s a lot of competition in the room,” Dixon said. “[Running backs coach Thomas] Hammock, he works really well with us. He does a great job with us. All we can do is control what we can control. That’s what we’re going to do is come out here and compete and work hard.”

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Making sense of Ravens’ running game in 2015

Posted on 11 January 2016 by Luke Jones

Plenty of factors interfered with the Ravens’ ability to run the football in 2015.

The departure of offensive coordinator Gary Kubiak, injuries along the offensive line and to 2014 Pro Bowl running back Justin Forsett, more eight-man boxes due to limited weapons in the passing game, and a questionable commitment from new coordinator Marc Trestman all contributed to the Baltimore rushing game dropping from eighth in 2014 all the way to 26th this past season. The Ravens averaged 4.5 yards per attempt in Kubiak’s lone season in Baltimore and averaged just 3.9 yards per carry in 2015 (24th in the NFL).

“To the extent that we didn’t run the ball well, yes, we lost our identity a little bit and we have to be able to do that,” head coach John Harbaugh said. “We’re going to find our way back that way, and we’re going to work on that right now.”

Media and fans frequently speak about the commitment — or lack thereof — to the running game, citing overused stats about a team’s record when they rush a certain number of times in a game. For this reason, some have pointed to the Ravens’ 383 rushing attempts — fewest in franchise history and tied for 25th in the NFL — as the biggest culprit in the struggles.

That simply isn’t the case.

Research has shown over and over that running the ball more often doesn’t cause a team to win more games just like simply trying to bench-press the most weight doesn’t magically make you stronger. Being strong to begin with (having leads) puts you in position to lift that heavier weight (carrying the ball more frequently). Otherwise, a team would mindlessly run the ball for the first 20 or 25 plays of a game to hit those statistical landmarks and have a big lead in the first half, right?

There are always exceptions, but teams that run the most generally do so because they have the lead with Carolina being a perfect example with a league-high 526 rushing attempts despite a 4.3 average that ranked only 10th in the NFL. It’s no coincidence that the 15-1 Panthers led for a league-best average of 39:47 per game and trailed an average of just 8:57 — also best in the NFL — according to Football Outsiders. They also averaged fewer runs in the first quarter than in any of the final three quarters, reflecting again that it’s more about running when you have the lead than “establishing the run” early.

In contrast, the 5-11 Ravens led an average of just 14:37 per game (27th in the NFL) and trailed for 32:13 per contest (26th in the league), easily their worst marks since Football Outsiders began keeping track in 1997. Of the 66 periods (counting two overtimes) in which they played during the 2015 season, the Ravens led at the conclusion of just 19 of them.

Of the five teams that led less frequently than the Ravens in 2015 — Miami, Chicago, Jacksonville, San Francisco, and Cleveland — only the Bears finished outside the bottom 10 in rushing attempts. All five of those teams also averaged better than Baltimore’s 3.9 yards per carry clip.

Whether they take it too far or not, teams pass more frequently when they’re behind as even the worst passing teams in the NFL average more yards per throwing attempt than the most efficient rushing teams average yards per carry. It’s common sense that you can catch up more quickly by going through the air, even if that leaves you prone to more turnovers.

The 2010 Ravens averaged 3.8 yards per carry — a mark slightly worse than this year’s team — but carried the ball 104 more times in a 12-4 season. Yes, you can argue that Cam Cameron had a stronger affinity for the running game than Trestman, but Baltimore also enjoyed the lead an average of 38:26 per contest, the best in the NFL that season.

It’s easy to run the ball when you’re protecting a lead.

To be clear, this doesn’t mean that the running game wasn’t problematic or one of many reasons leading to the first losing season of the Harbaugh era. The issues with the running game just didn’t have as much to do with the number of attempts as it did the lack of efficiency and how regularly the Ravens trailed in games.

In looking at the breakdown of rushes by quarter, however, there’s little excusing Trestman for the Ravens only having 91 rushing attempts in the first quarter compared to the league average of 106.3. Strangely, the Ravens collected more rushing attempts (105) in the fourth quarter than in any other period — a trend usually indicative of a winning team — but that number was skewed by a combined 25 fourth-quarter carries against Pittsburgh and Cleveland in Weeks 4 and 5, their best rushing performances of the season by a significant margin.

At times, there was certainly a questionable commitment to the running game — a knock on Trestman before he was hired by Harbaugh last January — but the Ravens’ frequent deficits magnified the problem.

“Part of that is scheme, part of that is how many times we call it and when we call it,” said Harbaugh about the problems with the running game. “There’s play-action that goes with it [and] passes behind runs that keep the linebackers off your run game — all of those things that we need to build into our run game to be as good as we can be.”

The healthy returns of Forsett and starting center Jeremy Zuttah, finding stability at left tackle, and the continued development of Buck Allen, Lorenzo Taliaferro, and Terrance West should help to improve the running game. Gaining more leads by playing better on both sides of the ball will create more opportunities that weren’t there for a ground game that struggled to find its groove throughout the season.

But it will ultimately be about running the ball better — not just more often — in 2016.

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Pondering Ravens left tackle, 2015 draft class, quarterback, more

Posted on 08 December 2015 by Luke Jones

It wasn’t long ago that left tackle Eugene Monroe was emerging as one of the Ravens’ best players.

General manager Ozzie Newsome and the organization certainly thought so after they acquired the former Jacksonville Jaguar for fourth- and fifth-round picks just over two years ago. His strong play in 11 games in 2013 prompted the Ravens to sign Monroe to a five-year, $37.5 million contract that included $17.5 million in guaranteed money.

Since then, Monroe has started just 17 of 30 games (including the postseason) as knee, foot, and shoulder injuries as well as a concussion at the start of the 2015 season have cost him extensive time. The 28-year-old missed only four games over his first five NFL seasons, but he’s started and finished just three games this year, leaving the overmatched James Hurst to fill in at left tackle. Even when Monroe has played, it’s been at an underwhelming level in comparison to his $7.7 million cap figure this year.

Many fans have questioned Monroe’s toughness, and it was interesting to hear John Harbaugh mention the left tackle’s agent on Monday when discussing the status of his injured shoulder that’s cost him three games and parts of two others this season. To be clear, the head coach did not speak with any hint of animosity, but you simply don’t hear an agent being cited very often in such discussions, leading one to wonder if the Ravens and Monroe have differing opinions on his health.

Regardless of whether Monroe returns to play in 2015, the Ravens will need to take a long look at the left tackle position this offseason as he simply hasn’t been dependable enough at a critical position. Hurst is a hard worker, but Pro Football Focus has graded him 74th out of 76 offensive tackles this season and he was the one who rolled into Joe Flacco’s left knee, causing the season-ending injury last month. The second-year tackle is just not starting material.

Monroe is scheduled to make $6.5 million and to carry an $8.7 million cap figure in 2016, but cutting him would still leave $6.6 million in dead money unless the Ravens were to use a post-June 1 designation. However, that strategy wouldn’t free up that cap space until after most free-agent activity was long finished.

With the Ravens now 4-8 and potentially picking in the top five of April’s draft, Ole Miss left tackle Laremy Tunsil will be one of many intriguing prospects to watch over the next few months.

Awful year for rookie class

The four-game suspension of rookie tight end Nick Boyle was the rotten cherry on top of a lousy first season for the 2015 draft class aside from fourth-round running back Buck Allen.

Facing so many offseason departures, the Ravens used their draft class to fill an assortment of needs, but that meant a cast of rookies needed to contribute immediately if they were to reach their lofty goals for the 2015 season. Needless to say, that hasn’t come close to happening.

Selected to replace speedy wide receiver Torrey Smith, first-round pick Breshad Perriman hurt his knee on the first day of training camp and didn’t play as much as a preseason snap in his rookie season. Tight end Maxx Williams has flashed potential here and there, but 19 catches and one touchdown are nothing to write home about for a second-round pick.

Drafted to essentially take the spots of free-agent departures Haloti Ngata and Pernell McPhee, third-round defensive tackle Carl Davis and fourth-round Za’Darius Smith have largely been non-factors with the former not even being active for the last two games. And though fourth-round cornerback Tray Walker was considered a bit of a project out of Texas Southern, it’s become clear that the Ravens drafted him way too early — even if he does eventually develop into a useful player.

Fifth-round guard Robert Myers didn’t even make the team — he’s now on the practice squad — and sixth-round receiver Darren Waller caught only two passes before a hamstring injury landed him on injured reserve.

Yes, it’s only the first season, so this isn’t a final condemnation on the 2015 draft class by any means. But the group couldn’t have been much more disappointing in its rookie campaign.

And now that Boyle’s better-than-expected play has been superseded by the disappointment of a four-game ban, Allen’s development into a starting-caliber back is the only saving grace of the group in 2015.

Running back debate

Allen is the most intriguing reason to watch the Ravens these days, but his performance is creating an interesting debate for the offseason.

Though he is averaging only 3.9 yards per carry, his ability as a receiver out of the backfield — an impressive 29 catches on 32 targets — is making quite a statement for the USC product to be the Ravens’ No. 1 back in 2016. And Terrance West has provided good depth in averaging 4.5 yards per carry in his two games with Baltimore thus far.

For those reasons, might the Ravens consider moving on from veteran Justin Forsett this offseason?

The 30-year-old will carry a $3.7 million cap figure next year and releasing him would save $2.3 million in salary cap space, no small amount for a team that will be looking for room even after renegotiating Flacco’s massive contract. And it’s not as though the Ravens wouldn’t have an impressive collection of young talent with Allen, West, and a returning Lorenzo Taliaferro in the backfield.

That trio would certainly benefit from Forsett’s experience and leadership, but how much is that worth? Would the Ravens feel comfortable handing the reins to an inexperienced threesome?

If Allen and West continue to play well over the final quarter of the season, Newsome may be faced with a difficult decision on Forsett, who is a popular player in the locker room and has been one of the feel-good stories of the last couple seasons.

Depressing quarterback situation

I can’t bring myself to care about a quarterback controversy for a 4-8 football team, but some fans are already clamoring for Jimmy Clausen to play with Matt Schaub having thrown two interceptions returned for touchdowns in two starts.

Given the current state of the offensive line and how sore Schaub was after the Miami game, it would not be surprising to see Clausen get a look sooner rather than later. It’s also worth remembering that the Ravens worked out former Houston quarterback Ryan Mallett last week, and he could still be summoned at some point over the final month.

The organization would like to identify someone who can handle the backup job, especially with Flacco unlikely to be ready until training camp at the earliest next season. But is it really all that interesting to watch such a competition play out for a team that’s going nowhere in December?

I’d rather watch Flacco rehab his surgically-repaired left knee.

NFC Least

Over the years, some Baltimore fans have suggested how interesting it would be if the Ravens were to move to the NFC East to compete against geographic neighbors Washington and Philadelphia.

Imagine if the 4-8 Ravens could be just one game out in a hapless division currently sporting three 5-7 teams tied for first place.

My pick to win that awful division?

Just give it to the Arizona Cardinals for old times’ sake after they languished in the NFC East for years.

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With Forsett in question, Ravens promote Magee from practice squad

Posted on 17 October 2015 by Luke Jones

With starter Justin Forsett’s status in jeopardy due to an ankle injury, the Ravens promoted rookie running back Terrence Magee from the practice squad ahead of Sunday’s game against San Francisco.

To make room for Magee on the 53-man roster, Baltimore waived cornerback Charles James, who had been promoted from the practice squad earlier in the week.

Forsett practiced on a limited basis on Friday and was labeled a game-time decision by head coach John Harbaugh before being designated as questionable on the final injury report. However, the decision to promote Magee isn’t exactly an encouraging sign that the Ravens will have their 2014 Pro Bowl selection in the backfield.

With the Ravens off to a 1-4 start and No. 1 receiver Steve Smith nursing a back injury, the timing of Forsett’s injury couldn’t have been worse after he had rushed for a combined 271 yards in the last two games. The 30-year-old injured his ankle late in regulation of the Week 5 overtime loss to Cleveland.

“Hopefully, some more healing takes place,” Forsett said on Friday afternoon. “I think we’re going in the right direction, so hopefully we’ll be ready to go.”

Should Forsett not be able to play, the Ravens would be forced to depend on the rookie trio of Buck Allen, the recently-claimed Raheem Mostert, and Magee. Saturday marked the second time Magee had been signed to the 53-man roster since the end of the preseason, but the LSU product has seen action in just one game and has yet to play an offensive snap. Because of his familiarity with the offense, Magee would likely serve as the primary backup to Allen if Forsett can’t play.

Needless to say, the running back picture is less than ideal as No. 2 option Lorenzo Taliaferro was placed on season-ending injured reserve earlier this week after undergoing foot surgery to repair a Lisfranc injury. Taliaferro had been listed as probable on the Week 5 injury report before being deactivated for the Cleveland game.

“It kind of took us by surprise there a little bit, but the foot had been bothering him,” Harbaugh said on Friday. “He tweaked it — maybe it was Oakland or one of those weeks in there — and sat out that week [and] then came back the next week and just wasn’t getting much better.

“We sent him to see the foot specialist; I believe it was Dr. [Robert] Anderson, and he just felt like the Lisfranc had reemerged from last year. They decided not to do surgery on it last year and just let it heal, and in some way, it kind of happened again. They decided to do the surgery right there.”

Taliaferro has played in just 16 games in his NFL career.

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Ravens place running back Taliaferro on injured reserve

Posted on 14 October 2015 by Luke Jones

OWINGS MILLS, Md. — The injury picture continues to get worse for the Ravens as they placed second-year running back Lorenzo Taliaferro on injured reserve on Wednesday.

The 2014 fourth-round pick had been dealing with a foot injury and was inactive for Sunday’s loss to Cleveland despite being listed as probable on the final injury report, making it unclear whether he experienced some sort of setback over the weekend. Taliaferro was placed on I.R. with a foot injury last December, meaning he will have played just 16 games in his first two NFL seasons.

The Coastal Carolina product rushed for just 47 yards and one touchdown on 13 carries this season. The 225-pound Taliaferro ran for 292 yards and four touchdowns as a rookie.

With starter Justin Forsett hobbled by an ankle injury suffered in the fourth quarter of the Browns game, the Ravens are dangerously thin at cornerback, which promoted general manager Ozzie Newsome to claim rookie Raheem Mostert off waivers from the Miami Dolphins. The rookie free agent from Purdue at a strong preseason with the Philadelphia Eagles before he was waived at the end of the summer.

Mostert joins fellow rookie Buck Allen has the only healthy running backs on the roster while the Ravens will hope Forsett’s ankle improves enough for him to play against San Francisco on Sunday. If not, Baltimore could promote running back Terrence Magee, another rookie currently on the practice squad.

Still more than a month away from Thanksgiving, the Ravens now have 11 players on I.R. even though defensive end Brent Urban holds the designation to return. Tight end Dennis Pitta is on the reserve physically unable to perform list.

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Ravens-Browns: Inactives and pre-game notes

Posted on 11 October 2015 by Luke Jones

BALTIMORE — If the Ravens are to win their first home game of the 2015 season, they’ll need to do it without large pieces of their offense against the Cleveland Browns.

Though Baltimore was already preparing to play without starting wide receiver Steve Smith and starting tight end Crockett Gillmore, running back Lorenzo Taliaferro (foot) was also deactivated for Sunday’s game despite being listed as probable on the final injury report. Taliaferro practiced on a limited basis on Thursday and Friday, but his absence means the Ravens will have just two healthy running backs: starter Justin Forsett and 2015 fourth-round pick Buck Allen.

In better news, the Ravens will officially welcome back starting left tackle Eugene Monroe after he missed the last three games with a concussion suffered on the first series of the season opener in Denver. Monroe was cleared to return this week and practiced fully, leaving little doubt that he would recapture his starting position.

As expected, speedy receiver Chris Givens and return specialist and receiver Jeremy Ross were both active for Sunday’s game. Ross is expected to handle kick return duties while Givens will try to give the Ravens a speed element in the passing game that they’ve lacked all year with the long-term knee injury to rookie Breshad Perriman.

Though he was officially ruled out for Week 5 on Friday, Gillmore (calf) ran routes and moved well in a pre-game workout, an encouraging development for next week’s game in San Francisco. Veteran Dennis Pitta (hip) also ran routes prior to Sunday’s game, but head coach John Harbaugh said Friday there is no change in his status as he remains on the reserve physically unable to perform list.

For the Browns, starting cornerback Joe Haden (finger/ribs) and starting receiver Brian Hartline (ribs/thigh) were both active after being listed as questionable on the final injury report. Starting free safety Tashaun Gipson (ankle) was officially ruled out on Friday.

These teams are meeting for the 33rd time with the Ravens holding an overwhelming 24-8 advantage and 13-3 mark in Baltimore. However, five of the last seven games have been decided by one possession and the Ravens trailed in the fourth quarter of both wins over Cleveland last season.

The Sunday afternoon forecast calls for sunny skies with temperatures in the high 60s and very light winds.

Referee Jeff Triplette and his crew will officiate Sunday’s game.

The Ravens are wearing black jerseys with black pants while Cleveland dons its white tops with brown pants.

Here are Sunday’s inactives:

BALTIMORE
WR Steve Smith
WR Breshad Perriman
RB Lorenzo Taliaferro
CB Rashaan Melvin
OL Ryan Jensen
TE Crockett Gillmore
DE Chris Canty

CLEVELAND
QB Austin Davis
RB Shaun Draughn
RB Robert Turbin
FS Tashuan Gipson
LB Craig Robertson
WR Dwayne Bowe
TE E.J. Bibbs

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Gillmore out, S. Smith doubtful for Cleveland game

Posted on 09 October 2015 by Luke Jones

OWINGS MILLS, Md. — Despite head coach John Harbaugh saying last weekend that Steve Smith wouldn’t play in Sunday’s AFC North battle with the Cleveland Browns, the Ravens receiver hasn’t been officially ruled out.

Smith was designated as doubtful on the final injury report of the week, meaning he officially has no better than a 25 percent chance to be active. The 36-year-old isn’t expected to play after injuring his back in Pittsburgh, but the Ravens remain hopeful that he could return for next week’s game in San Francisco.

“Very optimistic,” Harbaugh said. “He’s working hard. He’s in there with the different equipment working really hard to get himself ready and making, I would say, good progress.”

The Ravens coach said early in the week that tight end Crockett Gillmore had “a chance” to play against Cleveland after missing the Week 4 contest, but he was officially ruled out along with defensive end Chris Canty (calf) and wide receiver Breshad Perriman (knee) after the trio missed all practices this week. Rookies Maxx Williams and Nick Boyle will once again fill in for Gillmore.

Canty hasn’t practiced since injuring his calf in Oakland in Week 2. Lawrence Guy is once again expected to fill in for him at the 5-technique defensive end spot.

Linebackers Albert McClellan (abdomen) and Daryl Smith (non-injury) were listed as probable after returning to practice on Friday. Running back Lorenzo Taliaferro is also probable after missing Wednesday’s workout with a lingering foot issue.

Meanwhile, Cleveland will be without starting free safety Tashaun Gipson, who missed his third straight practice with an ankle injury and was officially ruled out on Friday. Gipson was wearing a walking boot at the Browns’ practice facility this week.

Pro Bowl cornerback Joe Haden is questionable for Sunday’s game as he continues to deal with a broken finger.

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

Sunday’s forecast calls for mostly sunny skies with temperatures in the high 60s and light winds, according to Weather.com.

Below is the final injury report of the week:

BALTIMORE
OUT: DE Chris Canty (calf), TE Crockett Gillmore (calf), WR Breshad Perriman (knee)
DOUBTFUL: WR Steve Smith (back)
PROBABLE: LB Albert McClellan (abdomen), OT Eugene Monroe (concussion), LB Daryl Smith (non-injury), RB Lorenzo Taliaferro (foot), G Marshal Yanda (ankle)

CLEVELAND
OUT: DB Tashaun Gipson (ankle), LB Craig Robertson (ankle)
DOUBTFUL: RB Shaun Draughn (back)
QUESTIONABLE: DE Desmond Bryant (shoulder), LB Karlos Dansby (ankle), CB Joe Haden (ribs/finger), WR Brian Hartline (ribs/thigh), LB Scott Solomon (ankle), RB Robert Turbin (ankle)
PROBABLE: DB Johnson Bademosi (elbow), RB Duke Johnson (ankle), QB Johnny Manziel (right elbow), OT Mitchell Schwartz (thumb), S Donte Whitner (illness), DB K’Waun Williams (concussion)

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Monroe practices fully; S. Smith, Gillmore absent on Wednesday

Posted on 07 October 2015 by Luke Jones

OWINGS MILLS, Md. — After very limited participating in abbreviated workouts last week, starting left tackle Eugene Monroe practiced fully on Wednesday as the Ravens continued preparations for Sunday’s game against Cleveland.

Sidelined since suffering a concussion on the first series of the season opener in Denver, Monroe was working in full pads with the rest of the offensive line and appears set to make his return. Second-year tackle James Hurst struggled mightily in the first quarter of the 2015 season.

“I’m healthy now and preparing for this game,” said Monroe, who missed one game due to a concussion in 2010 with Jacksonville. “That’s all that matters. I feel back to normal. I feel good to go. I’m just excited for Sunday. That’s really all I’m focused on is this game.”

Wide receivers Steve Smith (back) and Breshad Perriman (knee), tight end Crockett Gillmore (calf), defensive end Chris Canty (calf), and running back Lorenzo Taliaferro (foot) did not participate in Wednesday’s practice. Though Smith and Perriman are not expected to play against the Browns, head coach John Harbaugh said earlier this week that Gillmore and Canty have “a chance” to return this week.

Pro Bowl right guard Marshal Yanda was a limited participant due to an ankle issue on Wednesday.

The Ravens will face some interesting decisions at the return spots this week with Michael Campanaro now on injured reserve and Smith sidelined with lower back fractures. Veteran cornerback Lardarius Webb and the newly-acquired Chris Givens both have return experience, but Baltimore could choose to promote wide receiver Jeremy Ross or cornerback Asa Jackson from the practice squad to help out in the return game.

Meanwhile, several Browns players missed Wednesday’s practice including safeties Tashaun Gipson (ankle) and Donte Whitner (illness). Pro Bowl cornerback Joe Haden (ribs/finger) was a limited participant after missing Sunday’s loss at San Diego.

Below is Wednesday’s full injury report:

BALTIMORE
DID NOT PARTICIPATION: DE Chris Canty (calf), TE Crockett Gillmore (calf), WR Breshad Perriman (knee), WR Steve Smith (back), RB Lorenzo Taliaferro (foot)
LIMITED PARTICIPATION: G Marshal Yanda (ankle)
FULL PARTICIPATION: OT Eugene Monroe (concussion)

CLEVELAND
DID NOT PARTICIPATION: RB Shaun Draughn (back), S Tashaun Gipson (ankle), LB Craig Robertson (ankle), DE Randy Starks (non-injury), OT Joe Thomas (non-injury), S Donte Whitner (illness)
LIMITED PARTICIPATION: DE Desmond Bryant (shoulder), LB Karlos Dansby (ankle), CB Joe Haden (ribs/finger), LB Scott Solomon (ankle), RB Robert Turbin (ankle), CB K’Waun Williams (concussion)
FULL PARTICIPATION: DB Johnson Bademosi (elbow), RB Duke Johnson (ankle), QB Johnny Manziel (right elbow), T Mitchell Schwartz (thumb)

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Ravens-Bengals: Inactives and pre-game notes

Posted on 27 September 2015 by Luke Jones

BALTIMORE — Playing their 20th home opener in Baltimore, the Ravens have entered uncharted territory under eighth-year coach John Harbaugh with an 0-2 record to begin the 2015 season.

For a team entering the season with Super Bowl aspirations, the urgency couldn’t be greater in Week 3 as the undefeated Cincinnati Bengals try to bury the Ravens before October. Since 1990, only three 0-3 teams have rebounded to make the playoffs and the prospects of an 0-4 start would be alarming with a Thursday game in Pittsburgh looming in just a few days.

Surprisingly, the Ravens deactivated veteran pass rusher Jason Babin for a second consecutive week after citing his lack of familiarity with the defensive system as the reason he sat against the Raiders a week ago. With the current concerns over the pass rush, Babin being inactive doesn’t speak well for the Ravens’ confidence in him to be able to contribute off the edge.

Baltimore had already ruled out rookie wide receiver Breshad Perriman (knee), defensive end Chris Canty (calf), and left tackle Eugene Monroe (concussion) on Friday. Perriman practiced on a limited basis on Thursday and Friday and went through another pre-game workout on Sunday morning as he tries to work his way back from a sprained knee suffered on the first day of training camp in late July.

Running back Lorenzo Taliaferro (foot) was active after being listed as questionable on the final injury report of the week.

Cornerback Rashaan Melvin will make his 2015 season debut after dealing with a hamstring injury dating back to the preseason. Given how well he performed in training camp and how much No. 3 cornerback Kyle Arrington struggled in Oakland, Melvin would be a good bet to see playing time in the nickel defense against the Bengals.

Acquired from the Miami Dolphins in exchange for a 2016 seventh-round pick earlier this week, cornerback Will Davis was inactive as he continues to learn the Baltimore defensive system. With Melvin returning to action, the Ravens had less of a need to activate Davis. Rookie Tray Walker was also inactive for Baltimore.

These teams are meeting for the 39th time with the Ravens holding a slight 20-18 advantage and 13-6 mark in Baltimore. However, the Bengals have won three straight and four of the last five in the series after completing a season sweep in 2014.

The forecast called for cloudy skies with temperatures in the low 70s, a 15 percent chance of rain, and winds up to 11 miles per hour.

Referee Walt Anderson and his crew will officiate Sunday’s game.

The Ravens are wearing purple jerseys with white pants while Cincinnati dons its white tops with black pants.

Here are Sunday’s inactives:

BALTIMORE
WR Breshad Perriman
CB Tray Walker
CB Will Davis
LB Jason Babin
OT Eugene Monroe
DT Christo Bilukidi
DE Chris Canty

CINCINNATI
WR Greg Little
WR Mario Alford
CB Chris Lewis-Harris
TE C.J. Uzomah
DL Marcus Hardison
DL Pat Sims
DL Margus Hunt

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Canty, Monroe, Perriman out for Sunday’s game

Posted on 25 September 2015 by Luke Jones

OWINGS MILLS, Md. — Needing a win against one of their biggest rivals to avoid the first 0-3 start in team history, the Ravens will be without three key players for Sunday’s game against Cincinnati.

Defensive end Chris Canty (calf), left tackle Eugene Monroe (concussion), and rookie wide receiver Breshad Perriman (knee) were officially ruled out on Friday as the Ravens try to snap a three-game losing streak against the Bengals in Week 3. Canty and Monroe had missed the entire week of practice while Perriman only returned to practice on Thursday after an eight-week absence due to a sprained knee.

“I’m encouraged by that, and that’s very important,” said head coach John Harbaugh about Perriman’s limited participation. “It looks like he’s getting close, but what that exactly means, I don’t know. When they tell me he can play, he’ll be out there playing. That’s just the truth. That’s the way it is. It’s a tough injury to judge.”

Second-year lineman James Hurst is once again expected to start in Monroe’s place while Lawrence Guy will likely man the 5-technique defensive end spot in place of Canty.

Running back Lorenzo Taliaferro (foot) was listed as questionable on the final injury report of the week after he returned to practice on a limited basis Friday. The second-year back made his 2015 debut in Oakland last week following a month-long absence because of a knee injury.

Safety Will Hill missed Friday’s practice with a knee injury, but he was still listed as probable to play against the Bengals.

Rookie cornerback Tray Walker was listed as questionable with a thigh injury after being limited in two straight practices. The return of third-year cornerback Rashaan Melvin and the acquisition of Will Davis make it likely that the fourth-round pick will be inactive anyway.

The Bengals officially ruled out backup nose tackle Pat Sims with a hip injury and listed defensive tackle Marcus Hardison (knee) as doubtful. Four-time Pro Bowl receiver A.J. Green (knee) and starting left tackle Andrew Whitworth (back) were both listed as probable after missing one practice each this week.

The referee for Sunday’s game will be Walt Anderson.

The forecast for Sunday’s game in Baltimore calls for temperatures in the high 60s, a 60 percent chance of rain, and winds up to 12 miles per hour, according to Weather.com.

Below is the final injury report of the week:

BALTIMORE
OUT: DE Chris Canty (calf), OT Eugene Monroe (concussion), WR Breshad Perriman (knee)
QUESTIONABLE: RB Lorenzo Taliaferro (foot), CB Tray Walker (thigh)
PROBABLE: S Will Hill (knee), LB C.J. Mosley (non-injury)

CINCINNATI
OUT: DT Pat Sims (hip)
DOUBTFUL: DT Marcus Hardison (knee)
PROBABLE: DE Wallace Gilberry (thigh), WR A.J. Green (knee), S Reggie Nelson (groin), OT Andre Smith (buttocks), OT Andrew Whitworth (back)

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