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J. Smith, B. Williams absent as Ravens prepare for Cincinnati

Posted on 23 November 2016 by Luke Jones

OWINGS MILLS, Md. — The Ravens were without two key defensive starters for Wednesday’s practice as they turn their attention toward the struggling Cincinnati Bengals.

Cornerback Jimmy Smith and nose tackle Brandon Williams were absent from the portion of practice open to reporters. Smith missed his first game of the season with a back injury in Week 11, leading Dallas receiver Dez Bryant to catch two touchdowns against an undermanned Baltimore secondary.

“Jimmy is still working on his back issue,” head coach John Harbaugh said. “Hopefully he’ll be out there tomorrow. We’ll see.”

Harbaugh said Williams was receiving the day off before he was officially listed with back and hand issues on Wednesday’s injury report. He played a season-high 49 defensive snaps against the Cowboys.

Outside linebacker Elvis Dumervil (foot) and tight end Crockett Gillmore (thigh) were present and working. Sunday marked the eighth missed game of the season for Dumervil while Gillmore missed his third straight contest since sustaining an injury during a bye-week practice.

Guards Marshal Yanda (shoulder) and Alex Lewis (ankle) and running back Lorenzo Taliaferro (thigh) were not present on Wednesday. After saying Monday that Yanda made it out of the Dallas game in OK shape, Harbaugh gave the five-time Pro Bowl selection an extra day to rest his left shoulder.

Coming off a 10-game suspension for violating the NFL’s performance-enhancing drug policy, second-year tight end Nick Boyle was back on the practice field. It remains to be seen whether the Ravens will activate him for Sunday’s game, but he brings blocking ability that the tight end position has lacked in recent weeks.

“I think Nick really feels like he missed out,” Harbaugh said. “He says, ‘What do I do? I work out, and I think about football, then I go work out again, and I think about football.’ He’s got a football head. That’s who he is [and] what he thinks about. That 10 weeks — 11 weeks actually — was very painful for him.

“I’m hoping he makes somebody pay for his pain on that by playing well whenever we’re able to get him out there.”

Meanwhile, the Bengals were without five starters on Wednesday, a list including cornerback Dre Kirkpatrick (knee), wide receiver Brandon LaFell (knee), and safety Shawn Williams (hamstring). Five-time Pro Bowl wide receiver A.J. Green is out indefinitely with a hamstring injury suffered in the Week 11 loss to Buffalo.

Bengals running back Giovani Bernard suffered a season-ending knee injury on Sunday and was placed on injured reserve earlier this week.

Below is Wednesday’s full injury report:

BALTIMORE
DID NOT PARTICIPATE: G Alex Lewis (ankle), CB Jimmy Smith (back), RB Lorenzo Taliaferro (thigh), DT Brandon Williams (back/hand), G Marshal Yanda (shoulder)
LIMITED PARTICIPATION: TE Crockett Gillmore (thigh), DT Timmy Jernigan (shoulder)
FULL PARTICIPATION: LB Elvis Dumervil (foot)

CINCINNATI
DID NOT PARTICIPATE: WR A.J. Green (hamstring), CB Dre Kirkpatrick (knee), WR Brandon LaFell (knee), TE C.J. Uzomah (calf), OT Andrew Whitworth (non-injury), S Shawn Williams (hamstring)
LIMITED PARTICIPATION: G Clint Boling (shoulder), QB Andy Dalton (right shoulder), LS Clark Harris (groin), CB Josh Shaw (hip)

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Twelve Ravens thoughts following Week 11 loss to Dallas

Posted on 22 November 2016 by Luke Jones

With the Ravens falling back into a first-place tie in the AFC North after a 27-17 loss to Dallas on Sunday, I’ve offered a dozen thoughts, each in 50 words or less:

1. The defense squandering a first-and-30 on Dallas’ first touchdown drive was the turning point of the game, but Mike Wallace’s inability to get his feet inbounds on a deep pass inside the 5 on the ensuing possession was equally frustrating. Neither side of the ball could make the game-changing play.

2. If the second half of the Week 6 loss to the New York Giants wasn’t enough, Sunday offered another reminder of how valuable Jimmy Smith is to this defense. Without his game-changing talent in the secondary, the Ravens have an average group with no answer against an elite receiver.

3. The Ravens have certainly abandoned the run at times, but Week 11 doesn’t fit that narrative. Look at the play-by-play and you’ll find a spot or two for another run, but the ratio was skewed because of a multi-score deficit that led to 15 straight dropbacks to close the game.

4. On a day that produced a record 12 missed extra points, Justin Tucker remained perfect on the year and extended his league-long streak of 30 consecutive field goals. He hasn’t missed an extra point in his career. With kicking issues all over the place, don’t take that excellence for granted.

5. The secondary faced the bulk of the criticism on Sunday, but the linebacker coverage that’s been so good this year looked more like it did in 2015. C.J. Mosley and Zach Orr have done a much better job against the pass in 2016, but they struggled against the Cowboys.

6. It’s difficult to recall too many offensive linemen who have shown the ability to switch positions and still play at a high level like Marshal Yanda. Jonathan Ogden is the undisputed top offensive lineman in franchise history, but Yanda is an easy No. 2 on the list.

7. Dealing with a shoulder injury that kept him out of practice, Timmy Jernigan played a season-low 21 snaps. You wonder if him being less than 100 percent put too much on the plates of Michael Pierce and Brandon Williams in the battle against the best offensive line in the NFL.

8. Looking at his final numbers, Joe Flacco turned in a solid performance against the Cowboys, but the problem is that feels like it’s become his ceiling this season. In a game screaming for a big play, Flacco was 0-for-4 on pass attempts traveling more than 20 yards through the air.

9. It was disappointing to see Breshad Perriman follow the best game of his career by failing to record a reception and not even being targeted on 23 snaps. The 2015 first-round pick still has a long way to go to become a consistent threat in the passing game.

10. After forcing punts on the first four possessions, the Ravens were too conservative on third down the rest of the way. After blitzing or showing blitz on the first four third-down stops, Baltimore rushed four or fewer on four of the next five third downs without a single stop.

11. Despite the incredible resources pumped into the position, the Ravens have received very little from the tight end spot. Dennis Pitta’s return has been a great story, but he’s piled up no more than 40 receiving yards in any of the last five games.

12. I’m torn whether penalties are a bigger reflection on the coaching staff or on undisciplined — and potentially overmatched — players, but piling up 136 penalty yards is unacceptable when you’re trying to beat one of the best teams in the NFL. It’s a tired problem.

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After suggesting change, Yanda excels at new position for Ravens

Posted on 21 November 2016 by Luke Jones

OWINGS MILLS, Md. — A week ago, the Ravens weren’t sure if five-time Pro Bowl right guard Marshal Yanda would play again this season.

Instead, he made his first career start at left guard on Sunday, performing very well in the 27-17 defeat to the Dallas Cowboys. After suggesting the change to coaches to better protect his injured left shoulder, Yanda earned the highest grade of any Ravens player in Pro Football Focus’ Week 11 grades.

Though the position change isn’t quite as drastic as a right-handed hitter trying to swing from the left side, head coach John Harbaugh noted the challenges of switching to the opposite side of the offensive line. From dropping his opposite hand and leg in the three-point stance to his play responsibilities being flipped, the transition isn’t easy to make on the fly, especially when you’re less than 100 percent physically.

“I was weary of it early in the week,” Harbaugh said. “I was just watching him in individual [portions of practice] and seeing how he moved, but he did look natural doing it. I think he’s been on the left side at times during college and things like that. It just shows you what a phenomenal athlete he is and how determined he is and really what a good football player he is.”

In addition to starting at right tackle in the past — including the entire 2010 season and in the 2014 postseason — Yanda has occasionally practiced at center in the past to be prepared in the event of an emergency situation on game day. Former offensive coordinator Gary Kubiak once quipped that Yanda was so versatile that he could probably handle the quarterback position in a pinch.

After missing three of his previous four games, Yanda appeared to make it through the game without suffering any further damage to his left shoulder. He is wearing a harness to protect it during practices and games after initially injuring it in the Oct. 9 loss to Washington.

“He got out of [the game] well. I talked to him this morning, and he felt really good, felt strong,” Harbaugh said. “He got a lift in this morning, so that was a good sign. He got out of it 100 percent.”

J. Smith, Dumervil status up to medical staff

Harbaugh was noncommittal regarding the Week 12 status of cornerback Jimmy Smith (back) and outside linebacker Elvis Dumervil (foot), who both sat out Sunday’s loss to Dallas.

While it was the first missed game of the season for Smith, Dumervil has appeared in just two of Baltimore’s 10 games this season in a slower-than-expected recovery from offseason foot surgery. Cincinnati is dealing with its own injury issues, but the Ravens would certainly like to have two key defensive cogs back in action.

“We will see. I don’t really know,” Harbaugh said. “It is up to the doctors.”

Dumervil was shut down after two nondescript performances against Oakland and Washington early last month. He returned to practice as a full participant last Wednesday and Thursday, but the medical staff elected to hold the 32-year-old out after a five-week absence from the practice field.

Harbaugh said Dumervil looked good in those practices and did not suffer a setback, making it possible that he could play against the Bengals. The Ravens could certainly use a healthy version of the five-time Pro Bowl pass rusher coming off the edge, but it remains to be seen what he will offer after such a lengthy and frustrating rehab process.

“I have no expectations. I am hoping he gets out there and plays, and I hope he has 10 sacks,” Harbaugh said. “That is what I am hoping for. I am hoping he just lights it up and dominates. I am hoping he is the difference. I just don’t have the answer for it. If he is out there, I expect him to play great.”

Boyle back

Second-year tight end Nick Boyle will return to practice this week after serving a 10-game suspension for violating the NFL’s performance-enhancing drug policy, the second ban of his brief career.

“He will be back practicing this week. We will see how he looks,” said Harbaugh about the 2015 fifth-round pick from Delaware. “He has not been here for 10 weeks, so it has been quite a while.”

The Ravens could use the depth with veteran Dennis Pitta and converted wide receiver Darren Waller being the only healthy tight ends on the active roster since the bye week. Crockett Gillmore has missed the last three games with a thigh injury, which has prompted offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg to use reserve tackle James Hurst as a blocking tight end in certain situations.

It’s quite a change from the start of training camp when the Ravens had an abundance of talent at the position, but they lost Benjamin Watson (Achilles tendon) and Maxx Williams (knee) to season-ending injuries and Daniel Brown was claimed off waivers from the Chicago Bears in October. Gillmore’s absence has left Baltimore without a quality blocking tight end, which hasn’t helped an inconsistent running game.

“It has not been ideal,” Harbaugh said. “We had a number of tight ends to start the season, and we ended up being thin there the last four or five weeks. I feel like Darren has done a good job; he has actually blocked pretty darn well. We just play the guys we have and go win games with the guys we have.”

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Loss doesn’t change Ravens’ outlook all that much

Posted on 21 November 2016 by Luke Jones

The 27-17 loss to Dallas was disappointing, but the outlook for the Ravens’ season really didn’t change all that much on Sunday.

A mediocre team hung tough throughout the first half before the superior Cowboys seized control over the final 30 minutes. The final result certainly didn’t make the Ravens or their fans happy, but isn’t that what’s supposed to happen when a .500 team plays on the road against one of the best teams in the NFL?

If we’re being honest, what did we learn about the Ravens at AT&T Stadium that we didn’t already know?

Sure, we can calm down with the discussion about where this defense ranks among the best groups in franchise history. The NFL’s top-ranked run defense may have fared well against Ezekiel Elliott early, but the Cowboys’ No. 1 rushing attack ultimately won that marquee battle with 118 yards on the afternoon.

Though still a very good defense statistically, the Ravens have now twice shown — the first instance being the second half of the Week 6 loss to the New York Giants — that they can’t stop a potent passing attack with an elite receiver without Jimmy Smith on the field. Sunday was also one of the few occasions all year in which the defense was exposed for not having a consistent pass rush as rookie quarterback Dak Prescott was hardly touched after the opening quarter.

This defense may not be special, but it’s still good enough to keep the Ravens in games against virtually anyone. A group that has forced turnovers and consistently gotten off the field on third down all year could do neither on Sunday, which tells much of the story of the game.

The Cowboys proved why they’re one of the best offenses in football by controlling the line of scrimmage.

Meanwhile, the Baltimore offense started fast with an impressive six-play, 90-yard touchdown drive on its second possession before punting on four of its next five possessions. Over that time, the Cowboys turned an early 7-0 deficit into a 24-10 lead early in the fourth quarter.

Again, that script is nothing new for a Ravens offense that’s failed to score 20 or more points in five of 10 games this season.

Quarterback Joe Flacco completed plenty of short passes and had a solid day statistically, but he went 0-for-4 on passes traveling at least 20 yards through the air. The Ravens offense could neither consistently make big plays — outside of Steve Smith — nor sustain drives to keep the Dallas offense off the field.

Seventeen points just isn’t going to get it done when you’re playing a top five offense on the road in today’s NFL.

And, of course, yellow flags crushed the Ravens in all three phases of the game as they finished with a season-high 136 yards in penalties. From center Jeremy Zuttah’s three backbreaking penalties to stall drives to Matt Judon’s offside infraction on a fourth-quarter kickoff that would have backed the Cowboys up to their own 10, Baltimore shot itself in the foot repeatedly.

But we know that’s nothing new once again.

Fans don’t want to hear it after the Ravens fell to 0-4 against teams currently holding winning records, but they do look better than they did a month ago, even if only because of improved health. Chalk it up to good fortune because of a down year in the AFC North, but the Ravens remain in solid position tied with Pittsburgh for first place with six games remaining.

The Steelers aren’t going anywhere and may face an easier path on paper, but the Ravens will now prepare for Cincinnati, who is suddenly looking closer in quality to the Cleveland Browns than to the top two teams in the division. The Bengals fell to 3-6-1 on Sunday while losing five-time Pro Bowl receiver A.J. Green and shifty running back Giovani Bernard to long-term injuries, leaving no excuse for the Ravens not to snap their five-game slide against Cincinnati dating back to 2013.

You never want to lose, but the Ravens were playing a non-conference team better than them and appeared to escape Dallas without any serious injuries.

I suppose it’s deflating if you believed Baltimore’s second-half explosion against Cleveland to be a breakthrough, but playing the worst team in the NFL at home is a lot different than venturing down to “Jerry’s World” these days.

The Ravens are what their record suggests they are — not a very good football team — but a division title is still within their sights.

Sunday’s loss did very little to change that, especially if you were being realistic to begin with.

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J. Smith, Dumervil doubtful to play against Dallas on Sunday

Posted on 18 November 2016 by Luke Jones

OWINGS MILLS, Md. — Despite optimism about their status earlier in the week, Ravens cornerback Jimmy Smith and outside linebacker Elvis Dumervil were designated as doubtful to play against Dallas.

Earlier in the week, head coach John Harbaugh downplayed the significance of Smith’s back ailment and had said he expected the sixth-year defensive back to play against the Cowboys on Sunday. Smith was a limited participant on Friday after missing the previous two practices, but Harbaugh offered a different tone when asked again about his status for Week 11.

“He was out here today. Obviously, it’s a walk-through, so it’s not as physical, but he was out here today,” Harbaugh said. “We’ll just wait and see what the doctors tell us. His back tightened up a little bit. We’ll just have to see how it [responds] — whatever the doctors say. He wants to play, and we’ll know. The fact that he was out here today I think is a good sign.”

It’s worth noting that the Ravens haven’t listed a single player as doubtful who ended up being active for that week’s game all season, but the revamped injury report designations for 2016 provide more wiggle room than in the past. The “doubtful” label used to mean a player had no more than a 25 percent chance of playing, but it now means only that an individual is “unlikely to play” in that week’s game.

Smith’s absence would spell bad news for the Ravens’ efforts to slow down two-time Pro Bowl receiver Dez Bryant. Under normal circumstances, Baltimore would likely ask Smith to shadow the 6-foot-2, 220-pound Bryant in pass coverage.

Dumervil being listed as doubtful was less surprising considering he had missed more than five weeks of action since last playing on Oct. 9. The 32-year-old has appeared in only two games this year after a slow recovery from offseason foot surgery, but he participated fully in workouts on Wednesday and Thursday before being listed as limited in Friday’s walk-through.

The work pattern appears similar to what he did in Week 3 when he practiced on a limited basis for two days before being listed as questionable and ultimately sitting out the Jacksonville game. He made his season debut the following week.

Dumervil told reporters after Thursday’s practice that he felt “really close” to being his old self after a frustrating rehabilitation filled with two setbacks since the start of training camp.

“He responded well. I don’t think he had any problems after the two workouts,” Harbaugh said. “He looked good. He looked quick and explosive, which is what I was looking for. I know Elvis wants to play, and I know I want him to play. It will be up to the doctors whether they allow him to play or not, but he sure looked good in practice.”

The Ravens listed right guard Marshal Yanda (shoulder), defensive tackle Timmy Jernigan (shoulder), cornerback Shareece Wright (hamstring), and linebackers C.J. Mosley (hamstring) and Kamalei Correa (thigh) as questionable for Sunday’s game. Despite serious doubts about Yanda’s status for the rest of the season only a few days ago, the five-time Pro Bowl lineman was a full participant all week, putting him on track to play against Dallas.

Jernigan is the only other real concern among the remaining names as he missed the final two practices of the week. He was a full participant on Wednesday, making one wonder if he suffered an injury in practice.

Baltimore officially ruled out left guard Alex Lewis (ankle) and tight end Crockett Gillmore (thigh) on Friday.

As expected, the Cowboys officially ruled out cornerback Morris Claiborne (groin) and safety Barry Church (forearm) for Sunday’s game. Though he is still expected to play, Bryant was added to the injury report on Friday with a back issue and is listed as questionable.

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

According to Weather.com, the Sunday afternoon forecast in Arlington, Texas calls for sunny skies with temperatures reaching the mid-60s and winds up to 12 miles per hour. Of course, AT&T Stadium has a retractable roof should the forecast change over the weekend.

Below is the final injury report for the week:

BALTIMORE
OUT: TE Crockett Gillmore (thigh), G Alex Lewis (ankle)
DOUBTFUL: LB Elvis Dumervil (foot), RB Lorenzo Taliaferro (thigh), CB Jimmy Smith (back)
QUESTIONABLE: LB Kamalei Correa (thigh), DT Timmy Jernigan (shoulder), LB C.J. Mosley (thigh), CB Shareece Wright (thigh), G Marshal Yanda (shoulder)

DALLAS
OUT: S Barry Church (forearm), CB Morris Claiborne (groin)
QUESTIONABLE: WR Dez Bryant (back), OT Chaz Green (foot/back), DE DeMarcus Lawrence (back), QB Tony Romo (back), OT Tyron Smith (back/hip)

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J. Smith, Jernigan absent from Thursday’s Ravens practice

Posted on 17 November 2016 by Luke Jones

OWINGS MILLS, Md. — Moving closer to their big Week 11 encounter with the Dallas Cowboys, the Ravens were without seven players during Thursday’s practice session.

Headlining the list was No. 1 cornerback Jimmy Smith, who missed his second straight workout with a back issue. Head coach John Harbaugh downplayed the ailment on Wednesday and expressed confidence that Smith would be able to play on Sunday.

Harbaugh also said that he expected Smith to practice this week, making his status for Friday’s workout worth monitoring. Assuming he is able to play, the sixth-year defensive back will likely be trusted to match up with two-time Pro Bowl receiver Dez Bryant.

Defensive tackle Timmy Jernigan (shoulder) was a new absences on Thursday after not being listed on the injury report a day earlier.

Running back Lorenzo Taliaferro (thigh), tight end Crockett Gillmore (thigh), and left guard Alex Lewis (ankle) were also missing from Thursday’s practice. Taliaferro was listed as a limited participant on Wednesday, making it likely that he suffered the injury during practice.

The Ravens also gave linebacker Terrell Suggs and center Jeremy Zuttah the day off. Zuttah played through a mild ankle sprain in last week’s win over Cleveland while it’s no secret that Suggs is playing with a torn left biceps.

For the second straight day, right guard Marshal Yanda (shoulder) and linebacker Elvis Dumervil (foot) were present and working as full participants. Dumervil wouldn’t confirm Thursday whether he would play against Dallas, but he believes he’s “really close” to being his old self from a physical standpoint after being shut down just over five weeks ago.

“Just the strength [is better],” said Dumervil, who has appeared in only two games this year after undergoing offseason foot surgery. “I think last time, as a competitor, as a winner, you just want to go out [and play]. Sometimes it is good to listen, and I learned that.”

Cowboys left tackle Tyron Smith (back/hip) returned to practice on a limited basis after sitting out on Wednesday.

Below is Thursday’s full injury report:

BALTIMORE
DID NOT PARTICIPATE: TE Crockett Gillmore (thigh), DT Timmy Jernigan (shoulder), G Alex Lewis (ankle), LB Terrell Suggs (non-injury), CB Jimmy Smith (back), RB Lorenzo Taliaferro (thigh), C Jeremy Zuttah (non-injury)
FULL PARTICIPATION: LB Kamalei Correa (thigh), LB Elvis Dumervil (foot), LB C.J. Mosley (thigh), CB Shareece Wright (thigh), G Marshal Yanda (shoulder)

DALLAS
DID NOT PARTICIPATE: S Barry Church (forearm), CB Morris Claiborne (groin)
LIMITED PARTICIPATION: OT Chaz Green (foot/back), DE DeMarcus Lawrence (back), OT Tyron Smith (back/hip)
FULL PARTICIPATION: QB Tony Romo (back)

 

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Dumervil, Yanda return while J. Smith misses practice for Ravens

Posted on 16 November 2016 by Luke Jones

OWINGS MILLS, Md. — Preparing for their toughest challenge of the 2016 season, the Ravens welcomed back some much-needed reinforcements to the practice field on Wednesday.

Outside linebacker Elvis Dumervil (foot) and right guard Marshal Yanda (shoulder) returned as full participants in practice as Baltimore gets ready for a Week 11 contest at Dallas. Dumervil last played against Washington on Oct. 9 while Yanda has missed three of the last four games.

Despite major concerns about the health of his left shoulder, Yanda is trying to push through the pain to help a struggling offensive line that lost starting left guard Alex Lewis to a high ankle sprain in Week 10. Prior to last month, Yanda hadn’t missed a game since the end of the 2012 regular season.

“I’m a team guy. If I can play at a high level and help the team, I’m going to be out there no matter what,” said Yanda, who has declined to discuss details of the injury. “It’s one of those things that I pride myself in, and I feel like I owe it to the team and the guys in the locker room to be out there if I can. If I’m not out there, yeah, it’s a tough deal. I try to never let it happen, but you can’t control things sometimes.”

Dumervil has appeared in just two games this season while dealing with a slow recovery from offseason foot surgery. His healthy return would be a major boost to an edge pass rush that’s relied too heavily on Terrell Suggs this season.

The Ravens are hoping the additional five weeks away from the field allowed Dumervil to recapture the explosiveness and strength he lacked playing against Oakland and Washington.

“He came back out here before and teased us a little bit. I guess he let us get to second base,” said Suggs as he laughed, referring to Dumervil’s brief return to action early last month. “He let us get to second base, but hopefully we get him out there [all the way].”

It remains to be seen whether Yanda or Dumervil will play against the Cowboys, but their full participation was certainly a good sign for the first-place Ravens.

The bad news on Wednesday was the absence of top cornerback Jimmy Smith, who was listed as dealing with a back issue. Head coach John Harbaugh expressed optimism about his status, which was good news since the Ravens need his 6-foot-2, 210-pound frame to contest with Cowboys wide receiver Dez Bryant.

“I don’t anticipate it being a concern,” Harbaugh said. “He should be out there Sunday. I expect him to practice here this week.”

A day after promoting Asa Jackson to the 53-man roster, the Ravens also saw cornerback Shareece Wright (hamstring) return to practice after missing the last three games. Linebacker Kamalei Correa (thigh) also returned to practice for the first time since the bye week.

Tight end Crockett Gillmore remains sidelined with a thigh injury that surfaced during the bye.

Meanwhile, the Cowboys were without starting left tackle Tyron Smith (back/hip) and starting cornerback Morris Claiborne (groin). Injured in the Cowboys’ Week 8 win over Philadelphia, Claiborne is not expected to play against the Ravens.

Below is Wednesday’s full injury report:

BALTIMORE
DID NOT PARTICIPATE: TE Crockett Gillmore (thigh), G Alex Lewis (ankle), CB Jimmy Smith (back)
LIMITED PARTICIPATION: LB C.J. Mosley (thigh), RB Lorenzo Taliaferro (thigh)
FULL PARTICIPATION: LB Kamalei Correa (thigh), LB Elvis Dumervil (foot), CB Shareece Wright (thigh), G Marshal Yanda (shoulder)

DALLAS
DID NOT PARTICIPATE: S Barry Church (forearm), CB Morris Claiborne (groin), OT Tyron Smith (back/hip)
LIMITED PARTICIPATION: OT Chaz Green (foot/back), DE DeMarcus Lawrence (back)
FULL PARTICIPATION: QB Tony Romo (back)

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Ravens promote cornerback Jackson to 53-man roster

Posted on 15 November 2016 by Luke Jones

The Ravens promoted cornerback Asa Jackson to the 53-man roster and placed rookie defensive tackle Willie Henry on injured reserve on Tuesday.

A 2012 fifth-round pick out of Cal Poly, Jackson was signed to the practice squad last month after spending the preseason with the Arizona Cardinals. The 5-foot-10, 183-pound defensive back will add depth to the secondary and could also factor into Baltimore’s plans for the return game.

Veteran return specialist Devin Hester has struggled to provide much of a spark and has fumbled four times in eight games this season. Those difficulties helped prompt the Ravens to re-sign Jackson and third-year wide receiver Michael Campanaro to the practice squad in recent weeks.

Jackson entered the 2015 preseason as the favorite to replace the departed Jacoby Jones as the Ravens’ return specialist, but issues with ball security led to him being cut at the end of the preseason. The 26-year-old has not logged a single kick or punt return in his five-year career, but he has shown explosiveness as a returner in preseason games.

In 18 career NFL games, Jackson has collected 30 tackles and three pass breakups.

Henry was inactive for all but one game this season and hadn’t appeared in a single game. The fourth-round pick from Michigan was not listed on the injury report at any point in recent weeks, making this an apparent IR stash for the future.

Despite plenty of pessimism regarding the status of veteran right guard Marshal Yanda and rookie left guard Alex Lewis, neither was placed on IR on Tuesday afternoon. Lewis is expected to miss at least six weeks with a high ankle sprain while Yanda is trying to play through a serious left shoulder injury that’s sidelined him for three of the last four games.

The Ravens also signed guard Jarrod Pughsley and tight end Austin Traylor to their practice squad and cut quarterback David Fales for the second time in the last week. The addition of Traylor could be a sign that Crockett Gillmore is not yet ready to return from a thigh injury as Baltimore has signed a tight end to the practice squad for a third consecutive week with only two healthy tight ends — Dennis Pitta and Darren Waller — on the active roster.

Earlier this month, tight ends Nic Jacobs and then Mitchell Henry were signed and released at the end of the practice week as they were merely used on scout teams during workouts.

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No apparent relief in sight for Ravens offensive line

Posted on 14 November 2016 by Luke Jones

OWINGS MILLS, Md. — The Ravens are alone in first place in the AFC North this late in a season for the first time since 2012, but the state of their offensive line is once again moving in the wrong direction.

And it doesn’t appear that any relief is in sight.

Head coach John Harbaugh announced Monday that starting left guard Alex Lewis will miss an estimated six weeks with the high ankle sprain sustained in the 28-7 win over Cleveland. The Ravens remain hopeful that the rookie fourth-round pick can still return this season after an estimated six-week recovery. Television replays showed his right ankle bending in a gruesome way, an injury that led to medical staff putting his leg in an air cast before he was carted off the field.

The Lewis news was bad enough, but Harbaugh’s comments regarding the status of right guard Marshal Yanda prompted even more concern on Monday. The five-time Pro Bowl selection missed two games in October with a left shoulder injury and had returned after the bye week to play against Pittsburgh, but he was once again sidelined for Week 10, leaving obvious concern for his status moving forward.

“We’ll let you know as we go,” Harbaugh said. “We’ll see how he progresses.”

Widely regarded as the best guard in the NFL and the leader of the Baltimore offensive line, Yanda hadn’t missed a game since the end of the 2012 regular season before hurting his shoulder against Washington on Oct. 9. He was attempting to play through the injury by wearing a harness, but the shoulder clearly didn’t respond well from playing 70 snaps against the Steelers.

Veteran Vladimir Ducasse started in place of Yanda against Cleveland and third-year lineman John Urschel took over for Lewis at left guard in the second half, but the Ravens had hoped their offensive line was finally getting healthy after the bye week. Their original starting five played together against Pittsburgh for the first time since Week 3, but the Ravens were forced to use their sixth different starting combination along the offensive line in Week 10.

Their seventh different combination is now expected to start against the Dallas Cowboys on Sunday.

With their line in disarray for much of the year, the Ravens have struggled to run the ball and consistently protect quarterback Joe Flacco, who is having one of the worst seasons of his nine-year career. Baltimore currently ranks 28th in the NFL in averaging just 3.5 yards per carry while the passing game ranks 31st at just 6.3 yards per attempt this season.

Fortunately for Baltimore, rookie left tackle Ronnie Stanley bounced back from a rough performance in his return against the Steelers to fare much better against the Browns last Thursday. The sixth overall pick of the 2016 draft missed four games with a foot injury that sidelined him for the entire month of October.

Center Jeremy Zuttah is the only Ravens offensive lineman to start all nine games this season, but the veteran played through back and ankle issues in the Week 10 win.

In other injury-related news, Harbaugh said outside linebacker Elvis Dumervil is getting closer to returning to practice after he was shut down last month in his return from offseason foot surgery. The five-time Pro Bowl selection has appeared in just two games this season and last played on Oct. 9.

“He is getting closer. I am hoping it is very close,” Harbaugh said. “We will just have to see. When he starts practicing, you will know. It should be right there.”

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Ravens-Browns: Inactives and pre-game notes

Posted on 10 November 2016 by Luke Jones

BALTIMORE — Do what you’re supposed to do.

That’s the message for the first-place Ravens as they welcome winless Cleveland to town for Thursday Night Football, the first prime-time game played in Baltimore since Sept. 11, 2014. Baltimore is looking to move back over .500 in its second game in five days while Cleveland is trying to avoid falling to 0-10, which would be the worst start in franchise history.

As expected, the Ravens will be without five-time Pro Bowl right guard Marshal Yanda, who was listed as doubtful and has now missed three of the last four games with a left shoulder injury sustained on Oct. 9. Though he returned to action and did not miss a snap against Pittsburgh on Sunday, Yanda once again being sidelined is a significant concern for an offensive line struggling to perform at a high level in 2016.

After starting two games in place of Yanda earlier this year, reserve Ryan Jensen was a healthy scratch. Based on pre-game warmups, it appeared that veteran Vlad Ducasse would receive his first start with the Ravens at right guard. Ducasse was cut by Baltimore at the conclusion of the preseason and then re-signed on Oct. 11 as injuries on the offensive line piled up.

The 29-year-old has made 22 starts in seven NFL seasons with previous stops with the New York Jets, Minnesota, and Chicago.

This marks the sixth different combination that the Ravens have started on the offensive line this season. That’s not as crazy as Cleveland’s run on quarterbacks this year, but it’s hardly ideal, a major reason why the Baltimore offense has struggled so much in 2016.

There were no surprises among the Ravens’ other inactives after linebackers Elvis Dumervil (foot) and Kamalei Correa (thigh), cornerback Shareece Wright (hamstring), and tight end Crockett Gillmore (thigh) were already declared out on Wednesday. Wright’s absence has opened the door for rookie Tavon Young to seize control of the starting cornerback job opposite veteran Jimmy Smith.

The Browns ruled out starting cornerback Jamar Taylor on Wednesday, leaving the NFL’s 23rd-ranked pass defense with less depth in the secondary.

Thursday’s referee is Jerome Boger.

According to Weather.com, the Thursday forecast in Baltimore calls for clear skies and temperatures in the low 50s with winds up to five miles per hour.

As part of the NFL’s “Color Rush” initiative for Thursday games, the Ravens are wearing special purple jerseys with gold numbering as well as purple pants and purple socks for the first time in franchise history while the Browns don white tops with white pants and white socks. Some of the gold number is difficult to ready, but anything’s better than the mustard-colored pants worn last season, right?

Thursday marks the 36th meeting between these AFC North foes with Baltimore enjoying an overwhelming 26-9 lead in the all-time series. The Ravens are 13-4 at home against the Browns and are aiming for their 11th season sweep over the AFC North opponent.

Below are Thursday’s inactives:

BALTIMORE
G Marshal Yanda
LB Elvis Dumervil
CB Shareece Wright
TE Crockett Gillmore
LB Kamalei Correa
OL Ryan Jensen
DL Willie Henry

CLEVELAND
QB Joe Callahan
CB Jamar Taylor
LB Corey Lemonier
OL Gabe Ikard
OL Jonathan Cooper
WR Jordan Payton
DL Xavier Cooper

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