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Ravens-Steelers: Inactives and pre-game notes

Posted on 06 November 2016 by Luke Jones

BALTIMORE — The Ravens hope improved health brings better fortune after an injury-riddled and winless October to forget.

Welcoming back five key players to the starting lineup on Sunday, Baltimore aims to snap its four-game losing streak against the Pittsburgh Steelers, who come to town sporting a two-game slide of their own. Of course, first place in the AFC North is on the line as the 3-4 Ravens trail their biggest rival by just one game entering Week 9.

Despite conflicting reports throughout the week, Pittsburgh quarterback Ben Roethlisberger is active and will start less than three weeks after undergoing surgery on his left knee. The Ravens prepared all along for the veteran signal caller to play and weren’t buying the possibility of him sitting out after practicing on a limited all week.

After returning to practice late this week, veteran wide receiver Steve Smith (ankle) is active and will make his return after a two-game absence. The 37-year-old hinted on social media Sunday morning that he intended to play and went through pre-game warmups without any apparent issues.

Smith’s return is good news for quarterback Joe Flacco, who has thrown just two touchdown passes in his last five games.

As expected, linebackers C.J. Mosley (hamstring) and Terrell Suggs (biceps) and offensive linemen Marshal Yanda (shoulder) and Ronnie Stanley (foot) are active and will start after missing action last month. Stanley had missed four straight games, putting plenty of strain on an offensive line that entered the season in transition.

The Ravens will have all five members of their starting offensive line on the field for the first time since Week 3.

As expected, cornerback Shareece Wright (hamstring) is inactive, joining the trio of Elvis Dumervil (foot), Kamalei Correa (thigh), and Crockett Gillmore (thigh) who were officially ruled out on Friday. Elevated to the 53-man roster on Saturday, safety Matt Elam is active and will appear in his first game for the Ravens since the 2014 postseason.

With both Yanda and Stanley returning to the starting lineup, offensive lineman Ryan Jensen is a healthy scratch after starting three of the last four games.

Pittsburgh running back DeAngelo Williams (knee) is also active and will back up starter Le’Veon Bell after being listed as questionable on the final injury report of the week.

These teams are meeting for the 41st time in the regular season with the Steelers leading 21-19 and holding a 9-11 record in Baltimore. Counting the postseason, the Ravens are looking for their fourth straight win over Pittsburgh, which would be a franchise best against their biggest rival.

The forecast in Baltimore calls for partly cloudy skies and temperatures reaching 65 degrees with winds up to 14 miles per hour, according to Weather.com.

Referee John Hussey and his crew will officiate Sunday’s game.

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

Here are Sunday’s inactives:

BALTIMORE
CB Shareece Wright
LB Kamalei Correa
LB Elvis Dumervil
G Vlad Ducasse
OL Ryan Jensen
DT Willie Henry
TE Crockett Gillmore

PITTSBURGH
WR Markus Wheaton
QB Zach Mettenberger
FB Roosevelt Nix
LB L.J. Fort
OT Brian Mihalik
CB Justin Gilbert
DE L.T. Walton

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Mosley returns to practice as Ravens continue waiting on Steve Smith

Posted on 02 November 2016 by Luke Jones

OWINGS MILLS, Md. — Holding their first practice open to media since the bye, the Ravens welcomed back a key defensive player while continuing to wait on one of their top offensive contributors.

Inside linebacker C.J. Mosley practiced for the first time since injuring his hamstring in the second half of Baltimore’s Week 5 loss to Washington on Oct. 9. The 2014 Pro Bowl selection worked on a limited basis and was doing various agility drills during the portion of practice open to media.

“We felt like three weeks would be a good enough time to try to get back out there and test things,” Mosley said. “This whole time I’ve just been physical therapy, biking, and running on the turf. This is the actual [first] time to be really running and cutting and making moves. It felt pretty good.”

Wide receiver Steve Smith (ankle) was not present for Wednesday’s workout, leaving his status for Sunday’s critical meeting with Pittsburgh in question. The 37-year-old sprained his ankle in the first quarter of the Washington game and hasn’t played since then as the Ravens offense has continued to struggle in the midst of a four-game losing streak. With Smith enduring such a lengthy absence, one would think he would need at least a couple days of practice to get ready for a return to live-game action.

Outside linebacker Elvis Dumervil (foot) was also absent on Wednesday and appears unlikely to play against the Steelers. The five-time Pro Bowl pass rusher has appeared in just two games this season in a frustrating recovery from offseason foot surgery.

Linebacker Terrell Suggs (biceps), offensive linemen Marshal Yanda (shoulder) and Ronnie Stanley (foot), return specialist Devin Hester (groin), and defensive backs Shareece Wright (hamstring) and Lardarius Webb (hamstring) were all present and working. Suggs and Yanda returned to the field during the bye-week practices after missing action in October.

The Ravens are hoping to have their entire starting offensive line on the field together for the first time since Week 3 after both Yanda and Stanley practiced fully on Wednesday.

“We’re excited about it. Everybody is working hard out there,” said Yanda, who missed his first regular-season action since the end of the 2012 regular season. “We’re just putting together a good game plan and getting ready to go out and have a good game on Sunday. That’s what it’s all about. We’re taking those steps toward Sunday.”

Tight end Crockett Gillmore (thigh) and linebacker Kamalei Correa (thigh) were absent during the portion of practice open to media. Correa appeared to leave the field with the injury during last Tuesday’s workout and did not participate in the Ravens’ final workout last week, but Gillmore appeared to be a full participant in bye-week activities, making his sudden absence more curious.

Baltimore signed tight end Nic Jacobs to the practice squad on Wednesday, a day after releasing running back Stephen Houston.

Meanwhile, Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger (knee) and running back DeAngelo Williams (knee) practiced on a limited basis on Wednesday. Roethlisberger is attempting to return less than three weeks after undergoing left knee surgery.

“We’re going to take it one day at a time,” Roethlisberger told reporters in Pittsburgh prior to Wednesday’s practice. “I don’t know anything new. We’ll go out today and see how it feels.”

Below is the first full injury report of the week:

BALTIMORE
DID NOT PARTICIPATE: LB Kamalei Correa (thigh), LB Elvis Dumervil (foot), TE Crockett Gillmore (thigh), WR Steve Smith Sr. (ankle)
LIMITED PARTICIPATION: LB C.J. Mosley (thigh), CB Shareece Wright (thigh)
FULL PARTICIPATION: OT Ronnie Stanley (foot), LB Terrell Suggs (bicep), CB Lardarius Webb (thigh), G Marshal Yanda (shoulder), CB Tavon Young (concussion)

PITTSBURGH
DID NOT PARTICIPATE: G David DeCastro (non-injury), C Cody Wallace (knee)
LIMITED PARTICIPATION: QB Ben Roethlisberger (left knee), RB DeAngelo Williams (knee)
FULL PARTICIPATION: WR Antonio Brown (hip), OT Marcus Gilbert (ankle), DE Cameron Heyward (hamstring), S Shamarko Thomas (groin), WR Markus Wheaton (shoulder)

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Truth about Flacco lies somewhere in between in 2016

Posted on 27 October 2016 by Luke Jones

OWINGS MILLS, Md. — It’s complicated with Joe Flacco.

Quarterbacks regularly receive too much credit when teams win and too much blame after losses. Needless to say, the Ravens experienced too much of the latter in a winless October in which offensive coordinator Marc Trestman was fired and replaced by Marty Mornhinweg. An offense with high hopes entering the season currently ranks 24th in the NFL in yards per game and tied for 25th in points per game entering a much-needed bye week.

The numbers have been even uglier for Flacco, who currently ranks 30th among 32 qualified quarterbacks in yards per attempt, 29th with a 75.4 passer rating, and 21st among qualified quarterbacks in Pro Football Focus’ grading system. His career-worst 5.96 yards per attempt and career-high 44 passing attempts per contest reflect a passing game high in volume and short on results. The most concerning aspect of his performance has been how poorly he’s fared late in games, posting a 63.0 passer rating and throwing five interceptions in the second half of contests compared to a more respectable 86.0 rating with one pick in the first half of games.

Some have tried to place all blame on Flacco while barely acknowledging the many issues on the offensive line, a mostly-down running game, and the inconsistent play at receiver, but the ninth-year quarterback hasn’t been an answer for the struggling Ravens, either. That’s a major problem when you’re the team’s highest-paid player.

“I’m obviously not playing good enough,” Flacco said. “We’re not a good offense, and it starts with the quarterback. I’ve got to be better. We’ve got to be more precise, and that starts with me. Just [being] more consistent overall. They’re the issues — just being precise and consistency.”

You can’t expect everything to be perfect around Flacco, but much has worked against him this season and he’s wilted too much under those conditions. He’s played behind five different starting offensive line combinations over the last five games — the last four being losses. It’s tough to trust your pass protection when you don’t even know who will be lining up in a given week.

The commitment and effectiveness of the running game have been called into question over and over. Those problems were major factors in Trestman’s dismissal, but the Ravens gained an embarrassing 11 yards on 11 carries in Sunday’s loss to the New York Jets. You just can’t be that one-dimensional and expect to beat anyone consistently, especially when playing on the road.

Even with the presence of vertical threats Mike Wallace and Breshad Perriman, it’s clear that Flacco still depends heavily on the 37-year-old Steve Smith, who has missed the last two games with an ankle injury. Without him, the Ravens lack a dependable receiver to run precise routes in the short-to-intermediate portion of the field as others have struggled to get open or catch the ball consistently.

No, Flacco’s play hasn’t been good enough this season, but the coaching staff and his teammates haven’t provided many reasons for him to play well.

“I’m a Joe Flacco guy. I believe in Joe,” head coach John Harbaugh said. “Joe is one of the most important keys for us, if not the most important key. Certainly, on offense, he’s the key to the whole thing. Joe Flacco is a great football player. Joe Flacco is the key to our success. We need to all do everything in our power [to ensure] all of the things are falling in place for him. He can play. He can throw it. He can make decisions. He can score touchdowns for us. He can do all of the things we need to do. We need to make sure that we give him a chance to do that.

“Joe will take care of what he needs to do. I’m not worried about Joe taking care of what he needs to do. That’s something that we all go to work on. Joe works on it harder than anybody, cares about it more than anybody. We need to protect him. We need to run routes. We need to create confidence in our passing game. We need to run the ball well. We need to do the things we need to do to make the offense work, and Joe will make the offense work.”

The Ravens can only view the bye as a chance to reboot physically and start fresh as an offense. No matter how ugly the eyeball test has looked throughout the season, Harbaugh’s team remains in solid position in the AFC North with just a one-game deficit behind first-place Pittsburgh.

The time off will allow Flacco to rest a sore right shoulder and Smith to work his way back from an ankle sprain. In the meantime, Mornhinweg will have a chance to briefly catch his breath after taking over the coordinator job less than three weeks ago and can search for ways to jump-start a stagnant offense.

The biggest key for a turnaround will be the health of the offensive line, however, with rookie left tackle Ronnie Stanley and right guard Marshal Yanda both targeting a Week 9 return. Stanley was Baltimore’s earliest first-round pick in 16 years and had been progressing nicely until a foot injury sidelined him for the last four games. Of course, Yanda is a five-time Pro Bowl selection and missed the last two games with a shoulder injury, but the linchpin of the offensive line returned to practice this week.

Straightening out the offensive line would go a long way in trying to figure everything else out.

“Building a good team always starts up front, and it starts with those guys,” Flacco said. “We are going to try to overcome anything we can, but those guys are a huge part of our success. Having everybody be healthy goes into that. Obviously, everybody deals with little things here and there, and each team has their own issues with that. It will definitely be a big part of it.”

The biggest problem for Flacco at this point might be his confidence as the unrest along the offensive line has wreaked physical and mental havoc on his play in the pocket. This was on full display against the Jets as the veteran quarterback displayed sloppy footwork and reacted to phantom pressure that wasn’t even there on multiple occasions.

According to Pro Football Focus, Flacco was pressured 11 times by the Jets, which is far from great but isn’t so outrageous when dropping back to pass 46 times in a game. When he wasn’t pressured in Week 7, he still managed only 6.6 yards per attempt and a 72.6 rating.

It’s a two-way street with a quarterback trusting his offensive line and the unit needing to give him enough reason to have that confidence. After a long offseason of rehabbing his left knee and a frustrating start to the season, perhaps a few days off is exactly what Flacco needs to clear his head.

“Right now, we just have one guy here and there doing something that is a little bit off — myself [included] – and it halts a whole drive,” Flacco said. “When that happens throughout the course of the game and you have a good amount of those, it leads to what we have been dealing with, which is not putting any points on the board and not giving ourselves really any opportunities to put any points on the board.”

With better health and plenty of fine-tuning, the Ravens hope to create more scoring opportunities in the second half of the season.

And they’ll need their franchise quarterback to be ready to take advantage of them if there’s any hope of righting a season moving in the wrong direction.

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Suggs, Yanda return to practice as Ravens hit bye week

Posted on 25 October 2016 by Luke Jones

OWINGS MILLS, Md. — With improving their health one of their biggest objectives during a much-needed bye week, the Ravens welcomed a pair of Pro Bowl players back to practice on Tuesday.

Outside linebacker Terrell Suggs (biceps) and right guard Marshal Yanda (shoulder) were present and working during the portion of the workout open to media. Suggs suffered a torn left biceps in the Week 6 loss to the New York Giants, an injury that kept him out of Sunday’s 24-16 loss to the New York Jets.

The 34-year-old intends to return for the Nov. 6 meeting with Pittsburgh as the Ravens try to snap a four-game losing streak to get their season back on track. The six-time Pro Bowl pass rusher played with a right biceps tear late in the 2012 season, giving him experience dealing with the injury.

“I come from an era where this is just a bump in the road,” said Suggs, who will wear an apparatus on his left arm similar to the one worn by Ray Lewis in the 2012 playoffs. “It may be season-ending for somebody else, but it is not season-ending for a Raven. I played through it before. It was always the plan. Last time I tore it, I missed the first game, came back, and struggled through the second game. Then, I slowly but surely got it back.”

Despite returning from his second Achilles tendon injury in a four-year period, Suggs leads the Ravens with five sacks and has provided the only semblance of a pass rush from the edge with Elvis Dumervil limited to just two games this season. Suggs is also an underrated defender against the run as the Ravens allowed a season-high 155 yards on the ground without him in Week 7.

Suggs acknowledges the pain tolerance involved in playing with the injury, but he doesn’t want to go to injured reserve unless he absolutely has to after missing 15 games last season. The 2011 AP Defensive Player of the Year remains optimistic about the Ravens reversing their current woes with veteran players returning from injuries after the bye.

The 3-4 Ravens trail the Steelers by just one game and are tied with Cincinnati in the AFC North.

“We are getting a lot of the pieces back, and that can change a season,” Suggs said. “We are definitely banking on getting our veteran guys back. It all starts with the guys that we have now. That is why we are all here working. We are going to continue to work. We have a tremendous amount of fight; we are warriors. There isn’t any quit in us.”

Yanda was taking part in his first practice since injuring his shoulder in the Week 5 loss to Washington. Specifics about the injury remain unclear, but Yanda hadn’t missed a game since the end of the 2012 regular season, leading one to wonder how serious the ailment is and how it could hinder him the rest of the year.

Left tackle Ronnie Stanley (foot) was once again practicing after missing his fourth straight game on Sunday. The rookie first-round pick has now worked on at least a limited basis in every practice open to media dating back to Oct. 13.

The entire offensive line group being on the practice field was an an encouraging sign for a Ravens offense that was held to an embarrassing 42 yards in the second half of the Jets loss. Baltimore has already used five different starting combinations along its offensive line this season.

Ten players remained absent from Tuesday’s practice, a list including Dumervil, wide receivers Steve Smith (ankle), Kamar Aiken, and Devin Hester (thigh), running back Terrance West (ankle), tight end Dennis Pitta, defensive backs Lardarius Webb (hamstring) and Shareece Wright (hamstring), and inside linebackers C.J. Mosley (hamstring) and Albert McClellan.

The Ravens also welcomed back safety Matt Elam and have appointed him as their one player designated to return from IR. The 2013 first-round pick underwent knee surgery in August and could carve out a depth role in the secondary with veteran Kendrick Lewis being placed on IR over the weekend and Webb leaving Sunday’s game with a hamstring injury.

Despite the disappointing start to Elam’s career, coaches expressed optimism about his performance in the spring and summer before he injured his knee in the second preseason game.

“He was really, really playing very well and moving very well [before the preseason injury],” defensive coordinator Dean Pees said. “The only thing we need to see is now take it to the field in live action. Based on everything he did on the [practice] field and getting himself ready physically and mentally, he did everything he was supposed to do. Now we just have to hope we’re back there again, and we’ll see when he takes it to the field.”

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Ravens-Jets: Inactives and pre-game notes

Posted on 23 October 2016 by Luke Jones

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — The Ravens are looking to stop the bleeding before a much-needed break as they face the New York Jets on Sunday afternoon.

Playing at MetLife Stadium for the second straight week, Baltimore is dealing with a plethora of injuries, but starting quarterback Joe Flacco is active after practices this week with a right shoulder injury. Flacco was designated as questionable to play, but he appeared to be throwing the ball well in the portion of Friday’s workout open to reporters.

It was interesting to note, however, that Flacco did not do his typical throwing on the field before full-team warmups, an indication that he isn’t 100 percent and is trying to take care of his shoulder.

The rest of the injury report isn’t as encouraging as the Ravens officially deactivated linebacker Terrell Suggs (biceps), wide receiver Steve Smith (ankle), and right guard Marshal Yanda (shoulder) after all three former Pro Bowl selections were listed as doubtful on the final injury report. Linebackers Elvis Dumervil (foot) and C.J. Mosley (hamstring) were ruled out on Friday.

With Suggs and Dumervil out, Za’Darius Smith and rookie Kamalei Correa were lining up was the starting outside linebackers during pre-game warmups. Albert McClellan was once again working at inside linebacker with Mosley sidelined.

The biggest surprise was the deactivation of rookie left tackle Ronnie Stanley (foot) after he practiced fully all week. The first-round pick has now missed four straight games, continuing to leave the Ravens vulnerable on the left side of the offensive line.

Cornerback Jimmy Smith is active after going through the concussion protocol this week. He practiced on a limited basis wearing a red non-contact jersey, but the veteran defensive back was obviously cleared over the weekend to play against the Jets.

Veteran return specialist Devin Hester (thigh) is also active after returning to practice on Friday.

With all seven inactives being injured players this week, rookie defensive tackle Willie Henry is active for the first time this season. Running back Lorenzo Taliaferro and cornerback Robertson Daniel are also active after being moved to the 53-man roster on Saturday.

Meanwhile, New York will be without Pro Bowl defensive lineman Muhammad Wilkerson (ankle) after he was listed as questionable on the final injury report. His absence clearly leaves a big void on the defensive line for the struggling Jets.

Sunday’s referee will be Walt Anderson

According to Weather.com, the Sunday forecast calls for partly cloudy skies with temperatures reaching the low 60s and winds up to 23 miles per hour.

The Ravens will wear white jerseys with black pants while the Jets don green tops with green pants.

Sunday marks the 10th regular-season meeting between these teams with Baltimore holding an 8-1 advantage and having won the last eight games. The Jets haven’t beaten the Ravens since a 19-16 overtime final on Nov. 2, 1997.

Below are Sunday’s inactives:

BALTIMORE
CB Shareece Wright
LB Terrell Suggs
LB C.J. Mosley
LB Elvis Dumervil
G Marshal Yanda
OT Ronnie Stanley
WR Steve Smith

NEW YORK
DL Muhammad Wilkerson
QB Christian Hackenberg
QB Bryce Petty
WR Jeremy Butler
LB Darron Lee
OT Brent Qvale
TE Austin Seferian-Jenkins

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Injury report not looking much better for Ravens on Thursday

Posted on 20 October 2016 by Luke Jones

OWINGS MILLS, Md. — Thursday brought little good news for the Ravens on the injury front as starting quarterback Joe Flacco again headlined a list of eight players absent from practice.

Flacco missed his second straight practice while nursing a right shoulder injury, creating more concern about his status for Sunday’s meeting with the New York Jets. Not counting the season-ending knee injury he sustained last November, the ninth-year quarterback hadn’t missed consecutive regular-season practices in recent memory.

Outside linebackers Terrell Suggs (biceps) and Elvis Dumervil (foot), inside linebacker C.J. Mosley (hamstring), right guard Marshal Yanda (shoulder), wide receivers Steve Smith (ankle) and Devin Hester (thigh), and cornerback Shareece Wright (thigh) were also absent for the second consecutive day.

Reserve cornerback Jerraud Powers (groin) was the only player to return on Wednesday after missing the previous day’s workout. However, wide receiver Kamar Aiken (thigh) and safety Kendrick Lewis (thigh) were added to the reporter as limited participants on Thursday.

Top cornerback Jimmy Smith (concussion) was practicing for the second straight day, but he was once again sport a red non-contact vest over his jersey, indicating he has not yet been fully cleared in the concussion protocol. Wide receiver Breshad Perriman is not on the injury report, but he continues to wear a red vest as well.

Left tackle Ronnie Stanley (foot) and right tackle Rick Wagner were practicing for the second straight day as they both appear poised to return to action in Week 7.

The Jets were without five players during their Thursday practice as head coach Todd Bowles ruled out linebacker Darron Lee (ankle) for Sunday’s game.

Below is Thursday’s full injury report:

BALTIMORE
DID NOT PARTICIPATE: LB Elvis Dumervil (foot), QB Joe Flacco (right shoulder), RS Devin Hester (thigh), LB C.J. Mosley (thigh), WR Steve Smith Sr. (ankle), LB Terrell Suggs (biceps), CB Shareece Wright (thigh), G Marshal Yanda (shoulder)
LIMITED PARTICIPATION: WR Kamar Aiken (thigh), S Kendrick Lewis (thigh), CB Jerraud Powers (thigh), CB Jimmy Smith (concussion)
FULL PARTICIPATION: OT Ronnie Stanley (foot)

NEW YORK
DID NOT PARTICIPATE: TE Braeden Bowman (knee), LB Darron Lee (ankle), OL Brent Qvale (neck), DL Sheldon Richardson (non-injury), TE Austin Seferian-Jenkins (ankle)
LIMITED PARTICIPATION: OL Ryan Clady (shoulder), OL Nick Mangold (knee), DL Muhammad Wilkerson (ankle)
FULL PARTICIPATION: LB Bruce Carter (foot), RB Matt Forte (knee), LB David Harris (hamstring), DT Steve McLendon (back), DB Darryl Roberts (shoulder), CB Buster Skrine (non-injury), OL Brian Winters (knee)

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Flacco injury creates unsettling feeling for already-reeling Ravens

Posted on 19 October 2016 by Luke Jones

OWINGS MILLS, Md. — Joe Flacco says his right shoulder injury is nothing to worry about and head coach John Harbaugh expressed his belief that the Ravens quarterback will play against the New York Jets on Sunday.

But we’re also talking about the man who had missed only one regular-season practice in his NFL career before tearing the anterior cruciate and medial collateral ligaments in his left knee last November. In other words, it takes a lot to keep the 31-year-old off the practice field, making Wednesday’s absence more concerning for a struggling team already trying to avoid its first four-game losing streak since 2007.

Like with any pitcher in baseball, you never want to hear about a quarterback dealing with an ailment to his throwing arm — no matter how minor it might be — because you don’t know how long it could linger. Fortunately, the bye comes next week to afford Flacco some extended rest, but the Ravens can hardly afford a loss to the struggling Jets with a challenging second-half schedule to come, making it difficult to sit him if he is capable of playing and isn’t at substantial risk of making the injury worse.

“It is not about being pain free,” said Flacco, who underwent a magnetic resonance imaging exam after reporting the injury on Monday. “You can deal with a little pain. It is just about making sure you can throw the ball good enough to go out there and help your team.”

The memories of the injury-ravaged 2015 were already returning with five former Pro Bowl selections inactive for Sunday’s loss to the New York Giants, but the additions of Flacco and veteran linebacker Terrell Suggs (torn biceps) to the injury report this week create a full-fledged sense of déjà vu. Injuries are part of the game, but the attrition has reached an alarming level in a matter of just a week or two.

The saving grace is that Baltimore is just a game behind first-place Pittsburgh in the AFC North and none of the key players to get hurt during the current slide have suffered season-ending injuries — at least to our current knowledge. We know Flacco is the only player the Ravens truly can’t afford to lose, and the current ailment pales in comparison to the ACL injury sustained last year.

But that team was already 3-7 and going nowhere fast when the franchise quarterback was lost for the season.

Of the three quarterbacks to start games in Flacco’s place last season, Ryan Mallett fared the best, leading an upset victory over the Steelers in Week 16. It’s hardly a stretch to think the Ravens’ backup couldn’t help the Ravens to a win over a 1-5 team with a different starting quarterback of its own on Sunday.

“This league is all about the next man up,” running back Terrance West said. “Everybody is behind Mallett. Everybody wants Flacco to play, but if he doesn’t, it’s about the next man up. That’s how the league goes.”

Whether it’s Flacco or Mallett under center, the Ravens will likely need to lean more on their running game against a Jets defense that’s been poor against the pass but has surrendered only 3.4 yards per carry. Having Flacco throw 45 or 50 times per game was already less than ideal, and that’s even more obvious now.

Maybe the starting quarterback’s absence turns out to be nothing more than a midweek footnote, but the missed practice time alone is less than ideal with Marty Mornhinweg in his second week as offensive coordinator. Averaging a career-worst 6.02 yards per attempt, Flacco could stand to use the practice reps with a group of wide receivers who struggled to consistently create separation on short-to-intermediate routes in Week 6.

Aside from the expected absence of five-time Pro Bowl right guard Marshal Yanda, the offensive line is fortunately trending in the right direction with left tackle Ronnie Stanley and right tackle Rick Wagner both practicing fully on Wednesday. It’s no secret that Flacco has taken a beating over the last few weeks, so improved pass protection would make Harbaugh and the Ravens feel better about playing him with a tender shoulder on Sunday.

It would also help if top receiver Steve Smith can return from an ankle injury suffered in the first quarter of the Week 5 loss to Washington. Even at age 37, Smith still represents the most reliable pass-catching target that the Ravens have.

Baltimore was already banged up and in real need of a break, but a Week 7 win is a must after losing three straight. Even at full strength, this roster needing to go 7-2 after the bye just to finish with a 10-6 record — which isn’t always guaranteed to land a playoff spot — would be an extremely difficult task.

Improving to 4-3 is critical, but a win against even the lowly Jets feels very uncertain without Flacco on the field and healthy.

Despite his claim on Wednesday suggesting otherwise, the shoulder is surely something to worry about.

“I sure hope not,” said Flacco about whether it could come down to a Sunday-morning decision. “I really don’t know to be honest with you. I hope I come in here and start feeling pretty good.”

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stevesmith

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Nine Ravens players absent from practice on Wednesday

Posted on 19 October 2016 by Luke Jones

OWINGS MILLS, Md. — Already dealing with a litany of injuries, the Ravens added starting quarterback Joe Flacco to the list as they continued preparations for their Week 7 meeting with the New York Jets.

The 31-year-old signal-caller was absent from Wednesday’s practice as he deals with a right shoulder injury. He played all 83 snaps in Sunday’s 27-23 loss to the New York Giants, but the veteran appeared to be banged up in the post-game locker room after the game.

Flacco said he did not feel any discomfort during the game and only felt “a little something” in the post-game locker room on Sunday.

“We’re just going to see how the thing goes during the week,” head coach John Harbaugh said. “He has a chance to play. I don’t know what the percentage is. No one gave me a percentage on it. I believe he has a legitimate chance to play.”

The Ravens were also without wide receivers Steve Smith (ankle) and Devin Hester (thigh), right guard Marshal Yanda (shoulder), outside linebackers Terrell Suggs (biceps) and Elvis Dumervil (foot), inside linebacker C.J. Mosley (hamstring), and cornerbacks Shareece Wright (thigh) and Jerraud Powers (groin) on Wednesday.

Harbaugh said Monday that Suggs and Yanda are unlikely to play until after next week’s bye, but he didn’t rule out the former trying to play against the Jets if his arm were to improve.

“Last time he [tore his other biceps], he played the game after the first game,” Harbaugh said. “If he comes up and says he can play, then we’ll put him out there. He’s not a long-term deal, either.”

The good news for Baltimore was the presence of cornerback Jimmy Smith (concussion), who was practicing with a red non-contact vest over his jersey. His limited participation would mean he’s reached the penultimate step in the concussion protocol before being cleared to return to full action.

Wide receivers Mike Wallace (ribs) and Breshad Perriman were also practicing with red vests during the open portion of practice, but they were not listed on the injury report.

Left tackle Ronnie Stanley (foot) and right tackle Rick Wagner (thigh) were both present and working during practice, a good sign for their availability against the Jets. Stanley was a full participant in practice for the first time since Week 3 while Wagner wasn’t even listed on Wednesday’s report.

As expected, running back Lorenzo Taliaferro and cornerback Asa Jackson were both practicing. Taliaferro has begun his 21-day practice window after beginning the season on the physically unable to perform list while Jackson is currently on the practice squad and could be an option for depth with the current injuries in the secondary.

Meanwhile, the Jets officially named Geno Smith their starting quarterback for Sunday’s game with veteran Ryan Fitzpatrick struggling mightily in the midst of a 1-5 start.

Left tackle Ryan Clady (shoulder), center Nick Mangold (knee), and defensive tackle Muhammad Wilkerson (ankle) were absent from Wednesday’s practice for New York.

Below is Wednesday’s full injury report:

BALTIMORE
DID NOT PARTICIPATE: LB Elvis Dumervil (foot), QB Joe Flacco (right shoulder), RS Devin Hester (thigh), LB C.J. Mosley (thigh), CB Jerraud Powers (thigh), WR Steve Smith Sr. (ankle), LB Terrell Suggs (biceps), CB Shareece Wright (thigh), G Marshal Yanda (shoulder)
LIMITED PARTICIPATION: CB Jimmy Smith (concussion)
FULL PARTICIPATION: OT Ronnie Stanley (foot)

NEW YORK
DID NOT PARTICIPATE: OL Ryan Clady (shoulder), LB Darron Lee (ankle), OL Nick Mangold (knee), OL Brent Qvale (neck), CB Buster Skrine (non-injury), DL Muhammad Wilkerson (ankle)
LIMITED PARTICIPATION: TE Braeden Bowman (knee), LB Bruce Carter (foot), RB Matt Forte (knee), LB David Harris (hamstring), TE Austin Seferian-Jenkins (ankle)
FULL PARTICIPATION: DT Steve McLendon (back), DB Darryl Roberts (shoulder), OL Brian Winters (knee)

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Ravens not optimistic about Suggs, Yanda playing against Jets

Posted on 17 October 2016 by Luke Jones

OWINGS MILLS, Md. — If the Ravens are to snap their three-game losing streak, they’ll likely have to do it without two of their three longest-tenured players in linebacker Terrell Suggs and right guard Marshal Yanda.

Head coach John Harbaugh confirmed reports that Suggs suffered a left biceps tear in the fourth quarter of Sunday’s 27-23 loss to the New York Giants. As he did late in the 2012 season when he tore his right biceps, the 34-year-old linebacker will try to continue playing. Suggs missed only one game after that injury before returning to action and finishing the remainder of that season that culminated with a win in Super Bowl XLVII.

“He’s played with that injury before, so he has a chance to come back soon,” said Harbaugh, who added that he was unaware if surgery was still a possibility for Suggs. “How soon remains to be determined. I’m not going to say anything this week yet. I think this week would be tough for him, but I don’t put anything out of Terrell Suggs’ possible ability to overcome. We’ll see how that goes.”

Suggs leads Baltimore with five sacks and is the only edge rusher who’s put any semblance of pressure on quarterbacks, but even the six-time Pro Bowl selection hasn’t been nearly as disruptive in the pocket as he has been in the past.

After missing his first game since the end of the 2012 regular season on Sunday, Yanda will be a “stretch” to play against the New York Jets in Week 7, according to Harbaugh. The five-time Pro Bowl selection is dealing with a shoulder injury that’s likely to sideline him until after the bye week.

Ryan Jensen started at right guard in Yanda’s place against the Giants on Sunday.

Harbaugh offered no further specifics on the Ravens’ other injured players, a lengthy list that includes wide receiver Steve Smith (ankle), linebackers Elvis Dumervil (foot) and C.J. Mosley (hamstring), left tackle Ronnie Stanley (foot), return specialist Devin Hester (thigh), and cornerbacks Jimmy Smith (concussion) and Jerraud Powers (groin). Of those names, Dumervil could be the biggest return after being shut down yet again in his return from offseason foot surgery.

With the bye arriving next week, the Ravens could be tempted to take a conservative approach with any injured player who would benefit a great deal with an additional week of rest. Of course, Baltimore desperately wants to avoid falling to 3-4 with a challenging second-half schedule still to come.

Harbaugh also confirmed that running back Lorenzo Taliaferro will return to practice this week. The 2014 fourth-round pick is on the reserve physically unable to perform list and will begin a 21-day window in which the Ravens will be able to evaluate his progress coming back from foot surgery last year. At the end of the practice window, the organization would be forced to activate him, waive him, or leave him on the PUP list for the remainder of the season.

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Ravens-Giants: Inactives and pre-game notes

Posted on 16 October 2016 by Luke Jones

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — The Ravens are seeking a fresh start under new offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg after the dismissal of Marc Trestman this past week.

The problem is having three offensive starters inactive for the Week 6 meeting with the New York Giants as both teams attempt to snap losing streaks on Sunday. As expected, No. 1 wide receiver Steve Smith (ankle), Pro Bowl right guard Marshal Yanda (shoulder), and rookie left tackle Ronnie Stanley (foot) were all deactivated by Baltimore after missing practices and being listed as doubtful to play this week.

Smith left last Sunday’s loss to Washington in the first quarter and did not return while Yanda is missing his first game since the end of the 2012 regular season. Stanley practiced on a limited basis on Thursday and Friday, but he will now miss his third straight game with a lingering foot ailment.

With Stanley out, fellow rookie Alex Lewis will make his second straight start at left tackle with John Urschel starting once again at left guard. Ryan Jensen will start at right guard in place of Yanda.

Despite veteran right tackle Rick Wagner (thigh) being active, he is not 100 percent and may only be available as an emergency backup. Third-year lineman James Hurst was working as the starting right tackle during pre-game warmups.

The defense is also in rough shape as linebackers Elvis Dumervil (foot) and C.J. Mosley (hamstring) will not play after being deactivated. Dumervil was shut down again this week after quiet performances in his first two games since returning from offseason foot surgery. Mosley hurt his hamstring in the second half of the Week 5 loss to Washington and didn’t return.

With Mosley out, third-year inside linebacker Zach Orr will relay the defensive calls in the huddle and veteran Albert McClellan will move inside. Dumervil’s absence should lead to more pass-rushing opportunities for the likes of Za’Darius Smith, Matt Judon, and possibly Kamalei Correa on Sunday.

Veteran return specialist Devin Hester (thigh) is also inactive after missing practices on Thursday and Friday. How the Ravens elect to handle the return duties is more of a mystery as veterans Lardarius Webb, Mike Wallace, and Terrance West and rookies Chris Moore, Kenneth Dixon, and Tavon Young all fielded kicks during pre-game warmups. Webb did appear to field the majority of the punts, however.

In all, the Ravens will be trying to break their two-game slide with five former Pro Bowl players sidelined with injuries. Rookie defensive tackle Willie Henry was the only healthy scratch for Baltimore.

Meanwhile, there were no surprises among the New York Week 6 inactives as safeties Nat Berhe (concussion) and Darian Thompson (foot) and starting right tackle Marshall Newhouse (calf) were declared out on Friday. As expected, defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul (groin) and running back Rashad Jennings (thumb) were active after being listed as questionable.

Sunday’s referee will be Jeff Triplette.

According to Weather.com, the Sunday forecast calls for partly cloudy skies with temperatures reaching the low 70s and winds up to nine miler per hour.

The Ravens will wear white jerseys with black pants while the Giants don blue tops with white pants.

Sunday marks the fifth regular-season meeting between these teams with Baltimore holding a 3-1 advantage, which doesn’t include the 34-7 victory in Super Bowl XXXV on Jan. 28, 2001. However, the Ravens haven’t won a road game against the Giants since Sept. 14, 1997.

Below are Sunday’s inactives:

BALTIMORE
WR/RS Devin Hester
LB C.J. Mosley
LB Elvis Dumervil
DT Willie Henry
G Marshal Yanda
OT Ronnie Stanley
WR Steve Smith

NEW YORK
CB Eli Apple
QB Josh Johnson
WR Tavarres King
S Darian Thompson
S Nat Berhe
LB Deontae Skinner
OT Marshall Newhouse

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