Tag Archive | "Marlon Brown"

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Ravens promote cornerback, place Marlon Brown on IR

Posted on 29 December 2015 by Luke Jones

Entering the final week of a difficult 2015 season, the Ravens officially have more players on injured reserve than in any other season of the John Harbaugh era.

Wide receiver Marlon Brown was placed on season-ending IR on Tuesday afternoon as Baltimore now has 20 players on that list, which doesn’t include tight end Dennis Pitta on the reserve physically unable to perform list. Harbaugh said Monday that Brown would not return for Week 17 after missing the previous five games with a back injury.

The Ravens had 19 players on IR last season and in 2008, Harbaugh’s first year as head coach.

Baltimore promoted former Indianapolis cornerback Sheldon Price from the practice squad to take Brown’s roster spot. At 6-foot-2 and 198 pounds, the UCLA product has intriguing size for the position and was active for two games with the Colts earlier this season.

Meanwhile, the Cincinnati Bengals are expecting quarterback A.J. McCarron to start Sunday’s game against the Ravens. McCarron injured his left wrist in Monday’s overtime loss to Denver, but multiple reports indicate that he’ll be able to start the regular-season finale as Bengals starter Andy Dalton continues to recover from a fractured thumb.

The Ravens’ bizarre season at the quarterback position would have received an additional wrinkle on Sunday if the news had been worse about McCarron. Keith Wenning is the Bengals’ current backup quarterback and was Baltimore’s sixth-round pick in the 2014 draft.

Wenning was released in May after the Ravens signed veteran Matt Schaub to back up starter Joe Flacco.

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Ravens thoughts on winning vs. draft pick, 2016 opponents, more

Posted on 29 December 2015 by Luke Jones

The Ravens took great satisfaction in sweeping the Pittsburgh Steelers and putting their playoff hopes in serious danger, but the 20-17 win didn’t do any favors to Baltimore’s 2016 draft positioning.

Entering Week 16 holding the third overall pick in the first round of next year’s draft, the Ravens dropped all the way to eighth after pulling off one of the biggest upsets in franchise history. And it only added more fuel to the ongoing debate over whether it’s better for the Ravens to win now or to lose with an eye toward April.

To be clear once again, this isn’t a question of whether the Ravens themselves should be trying to win. The sheer number of injuries they’ve suffered has already cut John Harbaugh’s team off at the knees in the second half of the season, but many players and coaches are still fighting for their jobs and their efforts were rewarded on Sunday by completing the third season sweep of Pittsburgh in team history.

This also isn’t about the pointless debate of what it means to be a “true” fan, a concept that sounds elitist and is impossible to define. It’s perfectly acceptable to root for the instant gratification that the Ravens experienced against the Steelers on Sunday or to be thinking about the future of your favorite team and wanting a larger talent pool from which general manager Ozzie Newsome can choose in every round of this spring’s draft.

Ultimately, fans want to see their team win every Sunday and also win championships, right?

Harbaugh as well as some media and fans have spoken about the value of finishing the season on a high note, but that’s difficult to quantify when you’re considering the patchwork roster currently playing and how many of those players will either be gone or will have diminished roles next season. Winning these final two games would provide a short-term emotional boost, but that doesn’t equate to success in 2016 without some marked upgrades to the roster.

What isn’t as difficult to quantify, however, is how many draft prospects will be unavailable to the Ravens over the course of a seven-round draft should they finish 6-10 as opposed to 5-11 or 4-12. And that’s where the win over Pittsburgh followed by a potential upset at Cincinnati would leave fans with a hollow feeling in the offseason.

Even with potential wins over the Steelers and the Bengals to wrap the season, Baltimore will still be sitting at home watching the playoffs like the rest of us next week.

Good players can be found in every round of the draft if your talent evaluation is sound and you have some luck along the way. You can whiff picking at any spot in the draft, but you are improving the chances of landing better players the earlier you select.

It’s true that a better draft pick won’t guarantee that the Ravens land a future Pro Bowl player, but you won’t convince me that winning games when you’re playing out the string is all that valuable to the future, either. This is the equivalent of September baseball for a losing club, something Orioles manager Buck Showalter always warns can fool you when evaluating players.

The reality lies somewhere in between. It’s perfectly acceptable to be happy with a win over the Steelers, but you can also choose not to be distraught if the Ravens lose to the Bengals to wrap up the season. And I won’t accuse you of not being a “true” fan no matter what.

Brown done?

It was two years ago Tuesday when wide receiver Marlon Brown caught his seventh touchdown of his rookie season in a season-ending loss at Cincinnati.

Despite the Ravens missing the playoffs at 8-8 a year after winning the Super Bowl, the rookie free agent out of Georgia was one of the bright spots of 2013 and caught 49 passes for 524 yards. Since then, however, Brown has made just 38 receptions for 367 yards and no touchdowns in 24 games.

“Marlon is one of my favorite guys, and he works really hard at it, has a great attitude and, to my eyes, is very talented,” Harbaugh said. “But it just hasn’t worked in the last two years like we all expected after his rookie year, especially how Marlon expected to continue to improve. It’s going to be a really important offseason for him, and it’s going to be a critical season for him when he comes back.”

Brown’s back injury that cost him the final six games of 2015 doesn’t mask the disappointing of his last two seasons. And with the 6-foot-5 wideout scheduled to become a restricted free agent this winter, you wonder if he’s played his final game with the Ravens.

It’s remarkable to think that Brown was catching touchdowns for the Ravens two years ago while Kamar Aiken was on the practice squad and to see how different their careers have gone since then.

2016 opponents

Having clinched third place in the AFC North on Sunday, the Ravens officially learned their full slate of opponents for the 2016 season. The schedule itself is typically released in late April.

Below is a look at those opponents:

HOME: Cincinnati, Cleveland, Pittsburgh, Buffalo, Miami, Philadelphia, Washington, Oakland
AWAY: Cincinnati, Cleveland, Pittsburgh, New England, New York Jets, Dallas, New York Giants, Jacksonville

It’s too soon to know what the Ravens or any of these opponents will look like from a talent standpoint  — only five of their 13 opponents in 2016 enter Week 17 with a winning record — but the travel schedule will lighten considerably with just one game (Dallas) played outside the Eastern time zone. After the Ravens played four games out west in the first seven weeks of the 2015 season, that should be a pleasant change as they try to bounce back from the first losing season of the Harbaugh era.

Good shape at guard

It remains to be seen what the Ravens will do at left tackle moving forward, but the last couple weeks make you think that the interior offensive line will be in good shape without Kelechi Osemele.

The organization has long been confident in John Urschel’s ability to play guard, but 2013 sixth-round pick Ryan Jensen has improved substantially over the last couple weeks and earned high marks for his blocking against Pittsburgh on Sunday. With starting center Jeremy Zuttah under contract for next season, the Ravens could elect to have Urschel and Jensen compete for the starting left guard spot in training camp.

Even if Osemele is re-signed, he won’t be playing left guard, but the Ravens should feel confident about their options to replace him.

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Ravens come out of Pittsburgh win in good health

Posted on 28 December 2015 by Luke Jones

OWINGS MILLS, Md. — A day after the Ravens’ surprising win over the Pittsburgh Steelers, head coach John Harbaugh received a surprising revelation from head athletic trainer Mark Smith.

“Mark gave me the good news,” said Harbaugh on Monday. “‘There’s good news and good news: We won the game, and nobody is getting an MRI [the day after a game] for the first time all year.'”

In the final stretch of an injury-plagued 2015 season, the Ravens came out of Sunday’s game without any substantial injury concerns, a rarity in what is typically a physical game with their biggest rival. Wide receiver Kamar Aiken was the only player noticeably shaken up during the 20-17 win, but his hand injury was not deemed serious before he returned to the game.

On Monday, Harbaugh did offer clarity on the status of wide receiver Marlon Brown, who missed his fifth consecutive game with a back injury and will not play against Cincinnati in the season finale.

“His back has just not responded,” said Harbaugh, who wasn’t sure why general manager Ozzie Newsome didn’t put Brown on injured reserve a couple weeks ago. “He’s had back spasms, then they found — I don’t know what it was exactly, whether it was a little bit of a disc issue or something in there.

“They kept trying to get him back. And then about two weeks ago, I could just tell he wasn’t going to get back, so I kind of gave up hope, and I think he did, too. He just knew it wasn’t responding.”

Brown is a restricted free agent at the end of the season, making it possible that he’s played his final game with the Ravens. After catching 49 passes for 524 yards and seven touchdowns as a rookie, Brown has caught just 38 passes for 367 yards and no touchdowns in his last two seasons combined.

Harbaugh also confirmed left tackle Eugene Monroe underwent shoulder surgery to repair a torn labrum. Monroe was placed on season-ending IR earlier this month and played in only six games this season.

“I think it’s a pretty quick recovery,” Harbaugh said. “It shouldn’t be an issue from what I understand.”

TV CHANGE: Originally scheduled to be televised on CBS, Sunday’s Baltimore-Cincinnati game will instead be shown on FOX at 1 p.m. after it was cross-flexed by the NFL on Monday.

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Wagner, J. Smith probable to play against Pittsburgh

Posted on 25 December 2015 by Luke Jones

The Ravens listed right tackle Rick Wagner and cornerback Jimmy Smith as probable for Sunday’s home finale against Pittsburgh.

Wagner (knee) and Smith (thigh) both missed practice on Wednesday before participating fully in Thursday’s workout. The Ravens did not practice on Christmas Day and will wrap up preparations for the Steelers on Saturday.

Sidelined since last month with a back injury, wide receiver Marlon Brown was ruled out for Sunday and will miss his fifth consecutive game. It remains unclear why the Ravens haven’t elected to place the third-year wideout on injured reserve as he’s caught a career-low 14 passes for 112 yards this season.

Linebacker and special-teams standout Albert McClellan (ankle) was listed as doubtful after missing practices all week. He missed last Sunday’s loss to Kansas City after missing only one game in his previous two seasons combined.

Needing a win and a New York Jets loss to New England to clinch an AFC wild-card spot, the Steelers listed no player worse than probable on their final injury report.

The referee for Sunday’s game will be Craig Wrolstad.

The Ravens will wear their black jerseys for Sunday’s game after wearing their all-black uniforms in the Week 5 loss to Cleveland.

According to Weather.com, Sunday’s forecast calls for partly cloudy skies with temperatures in the low 70s and winds up to 11 miles per hour.

Below is the final injury report for Sunday:

BALTIMORE
OUT: WR Marlon Brown (back)
DOUBTFUL: LB Albert McClellan (ankle)
PROBABLE: CB Jimmy Smith (thigh), OT Rick Wagner (knee), LB Daryl Smith (non-injury)

PITTSBURGH
PROBABLE: S Will Allen (non-injury), CB William Gay (non-injury), LB James Harrison (non-injury), S Mike Mitchell (shoulder), TE Matt Spaeth (knee)

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J. Smith, Wagner absent from Wednesday’s practice

Posted on 23 December 2015 by Luke Jones

OWINGS MILLS, Md. — Preparing for their 2015 home finale against Pittsburgh, the Ravens were without cornerback Jimmy Smith and right tackle Rick Wagner during Wednesday’s practice.

Smith left Sunday’s loss to Kansas City in the first quarter with a hamstring injury and did not return. However, head coach John Harbaugh said on Monday that the fifth-year cornerback has “a good chance” to play against the Steelers, which would help Baltimore’s cause against the NFL’s fifth-ranked passing game.

Wagner appeared to hurt his lower leg at one point during Sunday’s game, but he did not miss any offensive snaps. He was listed as missing Wednesday’s workout with a knee injury.

Linebacker Albert McClellan (ankle) and wide receiver Marlon Brown (back) were also absent during the portion of practice open to media as the Ravens worked on their indoor field on Wednesday.

Newly-signed linebacker Chris Carter was present and working during Wednesday’s practice after Harbaugh said the former Steeler could play against his former team on Monday. Carter was added to the roster after tight end Crockett Gillmore (back) was placed on injured reserve on Monday.

The Ravens signed defensive back Jermaine Whitehead off San Francisco’s practice squad to their 53-man roster and waived veteran tight end Richard Gordon with a “left squad” designation. Baltimore also signed running back Alonzo Harris to its practice squad on Wednesday.

The Steelers had only one player miss practice due to an injury on Wednesday as safety Mike Mitchell was absent with a shoulder ailment.

Below is the full injury report:

BALTIMORE
DID NOT PARTICIPATE: WR Marlon Brown (back), LB Albert McClellan (ankle), CB Jimmy Smith (thigh), OT Rick Wagner (knee)

PITTSBURGH
DID NOT PARTICIPATE: CB William Gay (non-injury), LB James Harrison (non-injury), S Mike Mitchell (shoulder)

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Ravens left tackle Monroe doubtful to play against Miami

Posted on 04 December 2015 by Luke Jones

OWINGS MILLS, Md. — A season of disappointment continues for Ravens left tackle Eugene Monroe, who is listed as doubtful to play against the Miami Dolphins on Sunday.

After re-aggravating a shoulder injury in the second half of the Week 11 win over St. Louis on Nov. 22, Monroe has yet to return to practice and missed Monday’s game in Cleveland. Second-year lineman James Hurst is expected to make his sixth start of the season at left tackle, which would equal Monroe’s number of starts in 2015.

After missing just four games in his first five seasons in the NFL, Monroe is likely to miss his 12th game of the last two seasons (counting the playoffs). The 6-foot-5, 300-pound lineman has finished just three games in the second season of a five-year, $37.5 million contract that included $17.5 million guaranteed.

In better news for the Baltimore offensive line, left guard Kelechi Osemele practiced fully all week and is probable to make his return against the Dolphins. Osemele missed the last two games with a lingering knee issue while Ryan Jensen made the first starts of his NFL career at left guard.

Rookie tight end Maxx Williams was officially ruled out after sustaining a concussion against the Browns and missing practice all week. Third-year wide receiver Marlon Brown was listed as doubtful with a lingering back injury that kept him sidelined against the Browns.

Right tackle Rick Wagner was absent from the final practice of the week due to a non-injury issue, but the third-year lineman is not in danger of missing Sunday’s game. He was listed as probable on the final injury report of the week.

“Not a concern,” head coach John Harbaugh said. “He’s fine.”

Meanwhile, the Dolphins officially ruled out starting right tackle Ja’Wuan James (toe), starting receiver Rishard Matthews (ribs), and starting defensive tackle Earl Mitchell (calf). Starting center Mike Pouncey (foot) and starting wideout Kenny Stills (ankle) are questionable to play against the Ravens.

The referee for Sunday’s game will be John Parry.

According to Weather.com, Sunday’s forecast for Miami calls for temperatures in the low 80s with a 60 percent chance of thunderstorms and winds up to 12 miles per hour.

On Friday, the Ravens re-signed safety Nick Perry to their practice squad and cut offensive lineman Marcel Jones.

Below is the final injury report of the week:

BALTIMORE
OUT: TE Maxx Williams (concussion)
DOUBTFUL: WR Marlon Brown (back), OT Eugene Monroe (shoulder)
PROBABLE: DE Chris Canty (non-injury), G Kelechi Osemele (knee), LB Daryl Smith (non-injury), OT Rick Wagner (non-injury)

MIAMI
OUT: OT JA’Wuan James (toe), WR Rishard Matthews (ribs), DT Earl Mitchell (calf)
QUESTIONABLE: C Mike Pouncey (foot), WR Kenny Stills (ankle)
PROBABLE: RB Jay Ajayi (shoulder), OT Brandon Albert (non-injury), S Shamiel Gray (foot), LB Jelani Jenkins (ankle), WR Jarvis Landry (knee), LB Chris McCain (hip), LB Koa Misi (abdomen), DT Jordan Phillips (shoulder), LB Kelvin Sheppard (hamstring), TE Dion Sims (neck)

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Osemele back at practice as Ravens prepare for Miami

Posted on 02 December 2015 by Luke Jones

OWINGS MILLS, Md. — Coming off a thrilling win over Cleveland on Monday night, the Ravens began making preparations for Sunday’s trip to Miami with a key member of the offensive line back at practice.

Left guard Kelechi Osemele (knee) was present and working during a light practice on Wednesday that appeared to be little more than a walk-through. The fourth-year lineman has missed Baltimore’s last two games, but his presence was a good sign as the Ravens look to win a road game against the Dolphins for the third straight year.

Left tackle Eugene Monroe (shoulder) and tight end Maxx Williams (concussion) were not present on Wednesday. Monroe missed his fifth game of the season while the rookie Williams sustained a concussion against the Browns.

Wide receiver Marlon Brown (back) observed practice, but he did not participate after missing his first game of the season in Week 12.

Preparing his team for temperatures that could reach 80 degrees in Miami on Sunday, head coach John Harbaugh turned the heat up in the Ravens’ Owings Mills field house as the Ravens practiced inside on Wednesday. Baltimore will be playing in Miami for the third consecutive year after winning road games the previous two seasons.

“We started cranking it last night, so it works its way up. But you noticed?” said Harbaugh as he laughed when asked how players reacted to the temperature. “Everybody seems comfortable. They mentioned it. Muggy, stuffy, hard to breathe — those are all the words that were used. I don’t know if there’s any science behind it, but it makes sense to me.”

The Ravens re-signed running back Terrence Magee and wide receiver Chuck Jacobs to the practice squad. Harbaugh also confirmed that the Ravens worked out former Texans quarterback Ryan Mallet, but he would not comment on how it went.

Mallet wore out his welcome with the Texans after missing a team flight in October and previously showing up late for a training camp practice, which he blamed on an alarm clock issue. The Arkansas product has a strong throwing arm, but he has never been able to put it together on the field to go along with the immaturity.

“It’s something I don’t think I’m allowed to comment on, but he was here working out,” Harbaugh said. “We’ll see where those things go as we move forward.”

The Dolphins released a crowded injury report on Wednesday as right tackle Ja’Wuan James (toe), wide receiver Rishard Matthews (ribs), defensive tackle Earl Mitchell (foot), and center Mike Pouncey (foot) all missed practice.

Below is the full injury report for Wednesday:

BALTIMORE
DID NOT PARTICIPATE: WR Marlon Brown (back), OT Eugene Monroe (shoulder), TE Maxx Williams (concussion)
FULL PARTICIPATION: G Kelechi Osemele (knee)

MIAMI
DID NOT PARTICIPATE: OT Branden Albert (non-injury), OT Ja’Wuan James (toe), WR Rishard Matthews (ribs), DT Earl Mitchell (calf), C Mike Pouncey (foot)
LIMITED PARTICIPATION: LB Jelani Jenkins (ankle), WR Jarvis Landry (knee), LB Koa Misi (abdomen), DT Jordan Phillips (shoulder)
FULL PARTICIPATION: RB Jay Ajayi (shoulder), S Shamiel Gray (foot), LB Chris McCain (hip), LB Kelvin Sheppard (hamstring), TE Dion Sims (neck)

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Osemele, Monroe doubtful to play against Cleveland

Posted on 28 November 2015 by Luke Jones

OWINGS MILLS, Md. — Playing in their first game without franchise quarterback Joe Flacco since 2007, the Ravens offensive line will be far less than 100 percent for Matt Schaub against Cleveland on Monday night.

On the final injury report of the week, starting left guard Kelechi Osemele (knee) and starting left tackle Eugene Monroe (shoulder) were both listed as doubtful to play against the Browns. Though estimated as a limited participant on Thursday’s injury report — a day on which the Ravens didn’t practice due to the Thanksgiving holiday — Osemele did not take part in any practices this week after already missing last Sunday’s game against St. Louis.

Monroe hasn’t taken part in practices all week after re-injuring his shoulder in the third quarter of the Rams game. The veteran offensive tackle has already missed four games and parts of three others in an injury-plagued 2015 campaign.

“The guys who haven’t practiced, they have reps; they can play,” head coach John Harbaugh said. “We’ll just get them to Monday night — we have an extra day — and see how they’re doing, see where we’re at, and if they can play, they will. That’s the kind of guys they are, and if they can’t, the next guys are ready to play. It’s a cohesive group. I’m not too worried about the [offensive] line at all. It’s a cohesive group, we have depth, and no matter who is playing is going to play really well.”

Should the pair not be able to play, the Ravens would start James Hurst at left tackle and Ryan Jensen at left guard. Of course, it was Hurst who rolled into Flacco’s left knee to cause a season-ending injury on the final drive of last week’s win over St. Louis.

Baltimore would likely need to add another healthy offensive lineman to the 53-man roster, meaning guards Kaleb Johnson and Robert Myers could be candidates to promote from the practice squad. With Monroe and Osemele injury, the Ravens have just six healthy offensive linemen on the current roster.

They listed No. 3 cornerback Shareece Wright as questionable after a back issue flared up on Friday. He did not take part in Saturday’s practice and would likely be replaced by veteran Kyle Arrington in the nickel package if he cannot play.

A disappointing season continues for wide receiver Marlon Brown, who was listed as doubtful with a back injury after not practicing all week. The third-year wideout played a season-low four offensive snaps in Week 11 and has become a complete afterthought in the Ravens’ passing game after beginning the year as the No. 3 receiver.

Rookie tight end Nick Boyle (foot) is probable to play against Cleveland after missing the first game of his NFL career last week.

Tight end Chase Ford (shoulder) was also listed as doubtful for Monday’s game after failing to participate in Saturday’s practice.

Meanwhile, the Browns officially ruled out Pro Bowl cornerback Joe Haden and wide receivers Taylor Gabriel and Andrew Hawkins with concussions. Veteran defensive end Randy Starks was also declared out with a knee injury.

Below is the final full injury report of the week:

BALTIMORE
DOUBTFUL: WR Marlon Brown (back), TE Chase Ford (shoulder), T Eugene Monroe (shoulder), G Kelechi Osemele (knee)
QUESTIONABLE: CB Shareece Wright (back)
PROBABLE: TE Nick Boyle (foot)

CLEVELAND
OUT: WR Taylor Gabriel (concussion), CB Joe Haden (concussion), WR Andrew Hawkins (concussion), DE Randy Starks (knee)
QUESTIONABLE: G Joel Bitonio (ankle), LB Nate Orchard (groin)
PROBABLE: QB Johnny Manziel (right elbow), QB Josh McCown (ribs), S Donte Whitner (concussion)

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Monroe remains sidelined with shoulder injury

Posted on 26 November 2015 by Luke Jones

Having already missed four full games and left three others due to injuries this season, Ravens left tackle Eugene Monroe is once again dealing with a shoulder issue ahead of Monday night’s game against Cleveland.

Baltimore did not practice on Thanksgiving, but an estimated injury report included the seventh-year lineman as a non-participant after he did not practice on Wednesday. In the third quarter of Sunday’s win over St. Louis, Monroe re-aggravated a shoulder injury suffered last month and is once again ailing in what’s been a disappointing season for the left tackle.

“I think it’s a little bit related,” said head coach John Harbaugh about Monroe’s shoulder on Monday. “It goes back to a college injury that he had, I was told. We’ll just see how that progresses during the course of the week.”

Filling in for Monroe against the Rams, second-year tackle James Hurst fell into Joe Flacco’s left knee on the final drive of the game, causing a season-ending to the franchise quarterback. Pro Football Focus has graded Hurst as the third-worst offensive tackle in the NFL this season.

Left guard Kelechi Osemele was listed as a limited participant on Thursday as he continues to deal with a knee injury that sidelined him for Week 11. It remains unclear whether he will return against the Browns after Ryan Jensen started in Osemele’s place against St. Louis.

“I really don’t have any update on that,” Harbaugh said on Wednesday. “It’s just he’s working through some things physically.”

Wide receiver Marlon Brown (back) missed practice on Wednesday and was also listed as a non-participant on Thursday. He played a season-low four snaps on Sunday.

In positive news, rookie tight end Nick Boyle was listed as a full participant after his left foot was in a walking boot last week, forcing him to miss his first NFL game.

Meanwhile, the Browns are dealing with a number of injuries as four starters missed practice on Thursday. Cornerback Joe Haden and wide receivers Andrew Hawkins and Taylor Gabriel are all recovering from concussions.

Below is the full injury report:

BALTIMORE
OUT: RB Justin Forsett (arm)
DID NOT PARTICIPATE: WR Marlon Brown (back), OT Eugene Monroe (shoulder)
LIMITED PARTICIPATION: G Kelechi Osemele (knee)
FULL PARTICIPATION: TE Nick Boyle (foot)

CLEVELAND
DID NOT PARTICIPATE: G Joel Bitonio (ankle), WR Taylor Gabriel (concussion), CB Joe Haden (concussion), WR Andrew Hawkins (concussion), DE Randy Starks (knee)
FULL PARTICIPATION: QB Johnny Manziel (right elbow), QB Josh McCown (ribs), S Donte Whitner (concussion)

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Examining Ravens receivers, draft history, Yanda, Maryland product

Posted on 20 October 2015 by Luke Jones

It doesn’t require a football savant to assess the Ravens’ wide receiver picture these days.

The 36-year-old Steve Smith has been terrific, turning in another strong performance with a broken back on Sunday. Even after missing a game, Smith is tied for 13th in the NFL in receptions (36) and ranks 12th in receiving yards (510) entering Week 7.

Everyone else? Not so much.

Though he often disappears for long stretches in games, Kamar Aiken at least has done enough to prove himself as a decent complementary piece, but only as a No. 3 or No. 4 option. His 18 catches for 265 yards and two touchdowns are respectable, but he’s been targeted 34 times to accumulate those numbers. Aiken has shown decent hands in his two years with the Ravens, but he still struggles to gain enough consistent separation to be considered a starting-caliber player.

Still, Aiken is the second-best option the Ravens have with Breshad Perriman remaining sidelined with a knee injury.

Trying to find a No. 3 option has been a real problem as Marlon Brown isn’t getting the job done despite entering the year as the Ravens’ most-experienced option behind Smith. His successful 2013 rookie campaign feels like a distant memory now as the third-year receiver has just 10 catches for 84 yards on 23 targets.

The lack of production isn’t because of a lack of playing time, either, as Brown’s 188 snaps running pass routes rank 38th in the NFL, according to Pro Football Focus data. Among the 95 receivers to run at least 100 routes this season, Brown ranks last with just 0.45 receiving yards per route.

Since catching 49 passes for 524 yards and seven touchdowns as a rookie, Brown hasn’t reached the end zone in his last 20 regular-season games and has also dropped three passes this season, giving Joe Flacco little reason to throw to him on the occasions when he does get open.

Should the Ravens turn elsewhere?

Rookie Darren Waller missed Sunday’s game with a concussion, but the duo of Jeremy Ross and Chris Givens outproduced Aiken and Brown against the 49ers. While the latter pair combined for just four catches, 31 yards, and a touchdown in 105 snaps, the speedier Ross and Givens totaled five catches for 52 yards in just 43 combined snaps.

Neither Ross nor Givens approach Brown’s height, but how often have you seen the 6-foot-5 receiver effectively use his size for that to matter?

It’s not a long-term solution by any means, but putting Ross or Givens — or both — on the field more often with Smith and Aiken at least gives Baltimore more speed, something sorely lacking in the passing game in 2015. And taking a longer look at Waller would also be wise in evaluating for the future as Brown just isn’t getting the job done with extensive opportunities.

Recent draft history

The Ravens need to improve their speed and play-making ability at the wide receiver and defensive back positions moving forward, but their recent draft history at those important spots helps explain how they’ve gotten to the point of being 1-5 in 2015.

Consider the wide receivers drafted by the Ravens since Torrey Smith in 2011:

Tandon Doss (2011 fourth round)
Tommy Streeter (2012 sixth round)
Aaron Mellette (2013 seventh round)
Michael Campanaro (2014 seventh round)
Breshad Perriman (2015 first round)
Darren Waller (2015 sixth round)

Of course, the fate of the last three on that list remains to be seen and most of these names were late-round picks, but general manager Ozzie Newsome and the Ravens brass have expressed confidence annually that they can find receiver talent in every round of a draft.

The commitment of resources to improving the position hasn’t been there, and the poor return speaks for itself.

The picture may even be uglier when looking at the defensive backs drafted since Jimmy Smith in 2011:

CB Chykie Brown (2011 fifth round)
S Christian Thompson (2012 fourth round)
CB Asa Jackson (2012 fifth round)
S Matt Elam (2013 first round)
CB Marc Anthony (2013 seventh round)
S Terrence Brooks (2014 third round)
CB Tray Walker (2015 fourth round)

Maybe Brooks and Walker still develop into quality players — even if drafting the latter in the fourth round was a reach — but the Ravens have used higher picks in the secondary than at wide receiver in recent years and have fetched similarly disappointing results.

Maybe Shareece Wright was the wrong individual with which to be upset over Sunday’s loss.

Yanda in unique company

Newsome has often spoken about the unique individuals drafted by the Ravens to earn a second contract after their rookie deal, but four-time Pro Bowl right guard Marshal Yanda joined an even more exclusive group to receive a third payday with Baltimore.

Hall of Fame left tackle Jonathan Ogden received contract extensions in 2000 and 2004 after being taken with the fourth overall pick in 1996. Future Hall of Fame inside linebacker Ray Lewis agreed to extensions in 1998 and 2002 and re-signed with Baltimore after becoming a free agent for the first time in 2009. Six-time Pro Bowl linebacker Terrell Suggs received a third contract with Baltimore just two offseasons ago.

But plenty of other great players in franchise history have not — including future Hall of Fame safety Ed Reed.

Yanda doesn’t play a glamorous position, but he’s been the best guard in football for a few years now and has quietly built a strong résumé as one of the best players in franchise history. The Ravens wisely recognized that by awarding the 2007 third-round pick a four-year extension last Friday.

Diggs shining in Minnesota

Using 20-20 hindsight to judge a draft is easy, but you still can’t help but wonder whether the Ravens should have pulled the trigger in drafting former Maryland wide receiver Stefon Diggs, who is earning major praise with the Minnesota Vikings for his last two games.

Freak injuries — a broken leg and a lacerated kidney — and poor quarterback play in College Park were significant reasons why the talented Diggs fell to the fifth round this spring, but no one can deny the 6-foot, 191-pound receiver’s athleticism. Even after drafting Perriman, the Ravens still could have used more speed at wide receiver and an intriguing option in an unclear return game picture.

With Diggs on the board, the Ravens selected Walker from Texas Southern with the final selection of the fourth round. Ten picks later, Minnesota drafted the former Terp with the 146th overall pick.

A non-factor so far in his rookie season, the 6-foot-2 Walker may still have the superior career to validate the Ravens passing over a talent from their own backyard at that spot, but Diggs sure would look good in a different shade of purple than what he’s wearing these days.

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