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First-time choice J. Jones headlines list of six Pro Bowl selections for Ravens

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First-time choice J. Jones headlines list of six Pro Bowl selections for Ravens

Posted on 26 December 2012 by Luke Jones

OWINGS MILLS, Md. — The Ravens are sending six players to the 2013 Pro Bowl, four of whom will be starters in Honolulu.

Return specialist Jacoby Jones, safety Ed Reed, fullback Vonta Leach, and right guard Marshal Yanda were all named starters while running back Ray Rice and defensive tackle Haloti Ngata were named reserves for the AFC roster.

Jones said he first thought he could make the Pro Bowl when he returned his second kickoff for a touchdown of the season against Oakland in Week 10. His 32.1 yards per kick return average is the best in the NFL as the wide receiver has returned kickoffs of 108 and 105 yards for scores this season.

“Returning kicks is like I’m playing ‘It,’ or ‘Catch me if you can,’ You miss and I’m gone,” the first-time selection said. “[The selection] means a lot. It means you’re one of the elite of the elite. It’s hard to do and takes a lot of consistency and hard work.”

Signed to a two-year, $7 million after being kicked to the curb by the Houston Texans in the offseason, Jones immediately felt right at home in Baltimore, where he has quickly earned a reputation as a popular teammate and one of the funniest personalities in the locker room.

In addition to his two kickoff returns for touchdowns, Jones’ 63-yard punt return for a touchdown in Pittsburgh was the Ravens’ only touchdown in a 13-10 win over their hated rival on Nov. 18.

“I had a chance to get a breath of fresh air,” Jones said. “As soon as I walked in the door, they told me to be myself and they’d give me an opportunity. Through the year, I’ve tried to make the plays when my number was called.”

Leach was named to his second Pro Bowl as a member of the Ravens and third overall as he’s paved the way for another 1,000-yard season for Rice. Finishing his ninth season, Leach has not only been a powerful blocker but he’s caught 20 passes for 141 yards.

Rice has credited Leach for his assistance in taking his game to the next level over the last two seasons.

“The relationship we have is bigger than football,” Rice said. “That guy is nine years of battering people around. I told him, ‘Good luck to you, buddy. You’re a better man than I am.’ I try to do my best to take care of him when I can.”

Yanda has been named to his second straight Pro Bowl as it appears the right guard is finally receiving his due as one of the best offensive linemen in the NFL. In addition to forming running lanes with tackle Kelechi Osemele on the right side of the offensive line, Yanda has been an exceptional pass blocker and hasn’t allowed a sack in 14 games played this season.

Reed rounds out the group of starters for the Ravens despite the 34-year-old safety not having a strong season by his Hall of Fame standards. It’s the ninth Pro Bowl selection of his 11-year career and the seventh straight he’s received.

In 15 games, Reed has collected 58 tackles and four interceptions returned for 78 yards with one going for a touchdown. He’s also accumulated 15 pass breakups as well as three fumble recoveries in the final year of a six-year contract.

Earning his fourth straight trip to the Pro Bowl, Ngata was named a reserve despite battling knee and shoulder injuries for a large portion of the season. The seventh-year defensive tackle has produced 51 tackles and five sacks in 14 games this season.

Finishing the Ravens’ list of Pro Bowl selections was Rice, who was named to his third Pro Bowl and second straight. Entering Week 17, Rice ranks sixth in the NFL in yards from scrimmage with an average of 107.7 and became the first player in franchise history to rush for 1,000 yards in a fourth consecutive season.  He has 10 total touchdowns, nine of them rushing and one coming as a receiver, and 1,138 rushing yards this season.

“To have that respect around the league is something that you never take for granted because people respect the kind of work you put in on and off the field,” Rice said. “Because it comes from everybody. People can talk about what they want about the fans. The fans vote, players vote, and coaches vote, so you’re getting the three-way respect when you hear your name called. That’s special.”

Prior to the selections being announced on Wednesday evening, coach John Harbaugh expressed pride in so many players being selected for multiple Pro Bowls as five of the Ravens’ six selections were named to the All-Star roster for at least the second time in their respective careers.

“That’s something that you feel so good [about] for those guys,” Harbaugh said. “A number of guys have made it a number of years in a row. You look at a guy like Ed Reed who’s made it all these years in a row. It almost becomes expected, but then what an accomplishment that really is.”

Safety Bernard Pollard was named a first alternate to the AFC roster. He would receive an invitation to participate if a player in front of him wouldn’t play in the Pro Bowl due to an injury or Super Bowl participation.

The game will be held on Jan. 27, 2013 at Aloha Stadium in Honolulu, Hawaii.

 

 

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Pollard, Boldin practice as Ravens prepare for regular-season finale

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Pollard, Boldin practice as Ravens prepare for regular-season finale

Posted on 26 December 2012 by Luke Jones

OWINGS MILLS, Md. — The Ravens began preparations for their regular-season finale against the Cincinnati Bengals with an improved attendance sheet for Wednesday’s practice.

Safety Bernard Pollard (ribs) and wide receiver Anquan Boldin were present and working during the portion of practice open to media. Boldin bruised his shoulder in the Ravens’ 33-14 win over the New York Giants this past Sunday while Pollard had been sidelined since re-injuring his ribs against the Washington Redskins on Dec. 9.

“Bernard went through the full practice, so he was a full participant in practice,” coach John Harbaugh said. “That was great to see. Obviously, going forward, he’s a big, big part of what we’re doing [and] a big part of our defense.”

Wide receiver Tandon Doss (ankle) and linebacker Albert McClellan also returned to the practice field after both missed Sunday’s game against the Giants. Both players were designated as limited participants.

The only players not practicing for the Ravens were right guard Marshal Yanda (ankle) and defensive tackle Haloti Ngata, who were both absent during the first 25 minutes of practice when media were able to watch. Yanda returned to action against the Giants after missing the Ravens’ Week 15 game against Denver due to a sprained ankle.

Ngata hadn’t been listed on the injury report since Week 12 when the Ravens traveled to San Diego. The Pro Bowl defensive lineman has dealt with knee and shoulder injuries for most of the season.

In his first practice since being placed back on the 53-man roster, linebacker Ray Lewis was listed as a full participant. He wasn’t required to be included in the injury report prior to Wednesday’s roster move.

Meanwhile, the Bengals are dealing with a banged-up secondary as cornerbacks Terence Newman, Adam Jones, and Jason Allen as well as safety Reggie Nelson all practiced on a limited basis.

BALTIMORE
DID NOT PARTICIPATE: DT Haloti Ngata (knee), G Marshal Yanda (shoulder/knee)
LIMITED PARTICIPATION: WR Anquan Boldin (shoulder), WR Tandon Doss (ankle), DE Arthur Jones (thigh), FB Vonta Leach (ankle), LB Albert McClellan (shoulder/thigh)
FULL PARTICIPATION: LB Dannell Ellerbe (ankle), WR Jacoby Jones (ankle), LB Ray Lewis (triceps), DE Pernell McPhee (thigh), TE Dennis Pitta (knee), S Bernard Pollard (chest), S Ed Reed (shoulder), CB Jimmy Smith (abdomen), LB Terrell Suggs (biceps)

CINCINNATI
LIMITED PARTICIPATION: CB Jason Allen (hamstring), CB Adam Jones (hamstring), S Reggie Nelson (shoulder), CB Terence Newman (hamstring)
FULL PARTICIPATION: K Mike Nugent (right calf)

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Ravens-Giants: Five predictions for Sunday

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Ravens-Giants: Five predictions for Sunday

Posted on 22 December 2012 by Luke Jones

Two teams each going in the wrong direction in recent weeks will clash at M&T Bank Stadium on Sunday as the Ravens take on the New York Giants for the fourth time in their regular-season history.

Mired in a three-game losing streak and needing a win to clinch their second straight AFC North title, Baltimore takes on the 8-6 Giants, who are in need of two wins in their final two games to have the opportunity to defend their Super Bowl title in January. Having lost four of the last six games it’s played, New York has been even more inconsistent than the Ravens this season, looking like arguably the best team in the NFL in dominating wins over San Francisco and Green Bay and turning in terrible road performances at Cincinnati and Atlanta.

The Ravens hold a 2-1 all-time record over New York in the regular season and, of course, own a victory in the only postseason meeting between the teams, which occurred in Super Bowl XXXV on Jan. 28, 2001.

Here’s what to expect as the Ravens will look to finally lock up the division title and secure a home playoff game after failing to do so the last few weeks …

1. Ray Lewis will not play against the Giants, but the returning Dannell Ellerbe will pay dividends for the Baltimore run defense, which will hold New York to less than 110 rushing yards. Maligned all season despite allowing the ninth-lowest yards per carry average (4.1) in the NFL, the rush defense has struggled immensely in the last two weeks as Washington and Denver have run all over the Ravens. The Giants rank 15th in rush offense, but the shifty Ahmad Bradshaw has been hampered by knee and foot injuries. Ellerbe is expected to be a game-time decision, but he practiced all week on a limited basis and the Ravens didn’t promote inside linebacker Nigel Carr from the practice squad to take injured Jameel McClain’s place on the 53-man roster, an indication that they may feel confident in Ellerbe’s status against the Giants. The fourth-year linebacker ranks third on the team with 78 tackles despite beginning the season in a reserve role and missing the last three games with an ankle injury. His presence will help in slowing the Giants’ rushing attack.

2. Giants tight end Martellus Bennett will catch a touchdown and produce 75 receiving yards against the Baltimore pass defense. The Ravens’ struggles against tight ends have been overblown this season as Brent Celek, Jason Witten, and Heath Miller are the only three opponents to have more than 60 receiving yards in a game from that position. However, the middle of the field has been vulnerable and the Giants have been happy with their return for Bennett, who has 50 receptions for 584 yards and five touchdowns in his first season in New York. Ellerbe is regarded as the Ravens’ best linebacker in pass coverage, but he would be playing at less than 100 percent and has struggled to use the backpedal. Baltimore linebackers take too many false steps to account for the run and don’t get enough depth in coverage, which will lead to the talented Bennett getting open in the intermediate portion of the field as the Ravens secondary is focused on stopping Hakeem Nicks, Victor Cruz, and Domenik Hixon in the passing game.

3. Ray Rice will collect only his fourth 100-yard rushing game of the season. With Joe Flacco and the offense sputtering in recent weeks, new offensive coordinator Jim Caldwell must rely on his unit’s biggest strength and that’s Rice. Though on pace for his lowest rushing total since his rookie year, Rice’s 4.5 yards per carry average doesn’t reflect a poor season, but his 263 projected carries would be his lowest amount since 2009. Marshal Yanda’s expected return will allow the Ravens to run effectively to the right side as they normally like to do, and the Giants have allowed 4.6 yards per carry, which is 26th in the NFL. New York’s front seven is filled with plenty of big names, but the group hasn’t performed well this season and Rice will receive plenty of opportunities as the Ravens try to control the tempo of the game. The uncertain status of rookie Bernard Pierce will likely force the Ravens to rely more heavily on Rice than normal, which won’t necessarily be a bad thing as they need production from their best offensive player.

4. The Giants’ play action coupled with the the Ravens’ ineffective pass rush and undisciplined secondary will lead to a long touchdown to Victor Cruz. Paul Kruger and Arthur Jones have been the only consistent contributors to the pass rush in recent weeks, but the biceps injury to Terrell Suggs now makes you wonder if teams will begin turning more attention toward Kruger as they did early in the season when he rarely was able to make an impact. New York has allowed just 16 sacks all season, so it’s difficult to envision the Ravens putting much heat on Eli Manning. The Giants quarterback loves using play-action passing, and the Ravens secondary has been burned all season due to miscommunication and biting on double moves. Cruz leads the Giants with 79 catches, 1,019 receiving yards, and nine touchdowns. He’ll add a 10th to those totals on Sunday to bounce back from his poor performance in Atlanta last week.

5. I trust Manning more than Flacco and the Ravens offense, and it will be the difference in a 27-21 win for the Giants. Both teams have flaws on each side of the football, but it’s difficult to overlook Flacco’s six turnovers in the last three games. Manning has been inconsistent as well and has similar season totals to the Baltimore quarterback, but his pedigree and track record for playing well when his back is against the wall should give the Giants confidence in these final two games. Flacco was playing exceptionally well at home this season until the last two contests at M&T Bank Stadium when he posted absolute duds. The Giants will be a desperate football team after being thoroughly embarrassed in Atlanta last week, and I can’t bet against a two-time Super Bowl Most Valuable Player. It will be the difference in Sunday’s game as I just can’t put any faith in Flacco, Caldwell, and the Ravens offense at this point. The group lacks confidence and won’t do enough to overcome a banged-up defense and an opponent needing a win even more than they do.

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Pollard doubtful; Yanda, Ellerbe, T. Smith questionable for Giants game

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Pollard doubtful; Yanda, Ellerbe, T. Smith questionable for Giants game

Posted on 21 December 2012 by Luke Jones

OWINGS MILLS, Md. — It’s appearing more likely the Ravens will be without strong safety Bernard Pollard for a second straight game after he missed his third practice of the week on Friday.

Pollard was listed as doubtful on the final injury report of the week. He aggravated a chest injury in the Ravens’ 31-28 overtime loss to the Washington Redskins two weeks ago and hasn’t practiced since then. The seventh-year defensive back originally suffered a rib injury against Philadelphia and has managed the injury through most of the season.

The Ravens ruled seven players questionable against the New York Giants, including guard Marshal Yanda, wide receivers Torrey Smith and Tandon Doss, linebackers Dannell Ellerbe and Albert McClellan, fullback Vonta Leach, and running back Vonta Leach.

Yanda (ankle) was practicing once again on Friday, improving his chances to play against the Giants after he sat out last week’s game with a sprained ankle. Smith also practiced on a limited basis for the second straight day but hadn’t been cleared for contact as of Friday afternoon because he hadn’t taken his baseline neurological test. However, two days of limited practice are a good indication the team is confident that he will be cleared.

Coach John Harbaugh said he was “encouraged” by their progress but gave no indication how good he felt over their chances of playing against New York prior to Friday’s injury report being released.

Doss (ankle) and Pierce (concussion) were missing from practice for the third straight day, making it likely they will each miss Sunday’s game against the New York Giants. Both players watched practice on Thursday but were not on the field during the portion of practice open for media viewing on Friday. Along with Smith, Pierce hadn’t taken his baseline test as of Friday afternoon.

On a more encouraging note, tight end Ed Dickson was listed as probable and appears poised to make his return to action after missing the last three games with a hyperextended knee. He was a full participant during Friday’s practice.

Leach also returned to the practice field on a limited basis after sitting out Thursday with a sore ankle.

Ellerbe declared himself a game-time decision after practicing on a limited basis all week. He has missed the Ravens’ last three games after suffering the ankle injury against the San Diego Chargers on Nov. 25.

“I feel like my ankle’s getting better,” said Ellerbe, who admitted he’s still not 100 percent. “I’m hopeful, I’ve got faith that I’ll be healed enough to play and help out the team. I’ve been able to test it a little bit more, but I still have to be smart with it.”

Linebackers Ray Lewis (triceps) and Terrell Suggs (biceps) were also present and working during Friday’s practice. The Ravens aren’t required to list Lewis on the injury report since he is not on the 53-man roster, but they must activate him by 4 p.m. on Saturday for him to be eligible to make his return against the Giants. Linebacker Jameel McClain (spinal cord contusion) has yet to be placed on season-ending injured reserve as it appears the Ravens are holding that roster spot for Lewis’ potential activation.

“Coming along, coming along,” Harbaugh said. “Yes, he is coming along.”

If they decide not to activate the 37-year-old for Sunday’s game against the Giants, the Ravens would likely promote rookie linebacker Nigel Carr from the practice squad to the 53-man roster.

Suggs was listed as probable on the final injury report.

Meanwhile, the Giants listed center David Baas, running back Ahmad Bradshaw, guard Chris Snee, and defensive end Justin Tuck as questionable.

Tuck was the only New York player not to participate in Friday’s practice.

BALTIMORE
OUT: LB Jameel McClain (neck)
DOUBTFUL: S Bernard Pollard (chest)
QUESTIONABLE: WR Tandon Doss (ankle), LB Dannell Ellerbe (ankle), FB Vonta Leach (ankle), LB Albert McClellan (thigh/shoulder), RB Bernard Pierce (head), WR Torrey Smith (head), G Marshal Yanda (ankle)
PROBABLE: TE Ed Dickson (knee), S James Ihedigbo (neck), DT Arthur Jones (shoulder), DE Pernell McPhee (thigh), S Ed Reed (shoulder), CB Jimmy Smith (abdomen), LB Terrell Suggs (biceps), WR Deonte Thompson (thigh), WR LaQuan Williams (thigh)

NEW YORK
QUESTIONABLE: C David Baas (hip/shoulder), TE Travis Beckum (knee), RB Ahmad Bradshaw (knee/foot), S Kenny Phillips (knee), S Tyler Sash (hamstring), G Chris Snee (hip), DE Justin Tuck (shoulder)
PROBABLE: CB Prince Amukamara (hamstring), DT Chris Canty (neck), WR Hakeem Nicks (knee), WR Rueben Randle (back)

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Yanda, T. Smith return to practice on limited basis Thursday

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Yanda, T. Smith return to practice on limited basis Thursday

Posted on 20 December 2012 by Luke Jones

OWINGS MILLS, Md. — Desperately trying to get healthier for Sunday’s meeting against the New York Giants, the Ravens saw the return of right guard Marshal Yanda and wide receiver Torrey Smith to Thursday’s practice.

Both worked on a limited basis after neither worked on Wednesday. Yanda was practicing for the first time since suffering a sprained ankle in the 31-28 overtime loss to the Washington Redskins on Dec. 9. Smith sustained a concussion in Sunday’s loss to Denver, but he hadn’t been cleared for contact as of the end of Thursday’s practice.

While it’s no guarantee given the severity of the ankle sprain, Yanda returning to practice this early in the week has to be considered a very good sign in predicting his availability for Sunday’s game when you consider his past injury history and reputation for having a high threshold for pain.

Yanda declined to talk about his ankle but said he “did OK” during Thursday’s workout.

Safety Bernard Pollard (chest), wide receiver Tandon Doss (ankle), running back Bernard Pierce (concussion), and linebacker Jameel McClain (neck) weren’t practicing. McClain hasn’t been placed on injured reserve yet, but his season is over, according to head coach John Harbaugh. Doss and Pierce were present at practice but did not appear to be participating during the opening portion.

The starting strong safety remains a major question mark as he continues to deal with a rib injury that was re-aggravated against the Washington Redskins in Week 14.

Fullback Vonta Leach did not participate after he practiced on a limited basis on Wednesday. He has been dealing with an ankle injury that forced him to miss two days of practice last week before he played against the Broncos. He told reporters following Thursday’s practice that he will be ready to go on Sunday.

“I’ll be able to go Sunday,” Leach said. “That’s not a question.”

Tight end Ed Dickson (knee), linebacker Dannell Ellerbe (ankle), safety James Ihedigbo (neck), defensive lineman Arthur Jones (shoulder), and linebacker Albert McClellan (shoulder/thigh) were all working as limited participants for a second straight day.

Linebackers Terrell Suggs (biceps) and Ray Lewis (triceps) were both present and working after neither player was listed on Wednesday’s injury report. Lewis isn’t required to be included since he isn’t currently part of the 53-man roster while Suggs was added as a full participant on Thursday. His Wednesday exclusion was a peculiar occurrence after the Ravens were fined $20,000 earlier this season for not including Ed Reed on the injury report.

For New York, wide receiver Hakeem Nicks (knee) returned to practice on a limited basis while four other starters missed practice for a second straight day.

BALTIMORE
DID NOT PARTICIPATE: WR Tandon Doss (ankle), LB Jameel McClain (neck), RB Bernard Pierce (head), S Bernard Pollard (chest), FB Vonta Leach (ankle)
LIMITED PARTICIPATION: WR Torrey Smith (head), G Marshal Yanda (ankle), TE Ed Dickson (knee), LB Dannell Ellerbe (ankle), S James Ihedigbo (neck), DT Arthur Jones (shoulder), LB Albert McClellan (thigh/shoulder)
FULL PARTICIPATION: DE Pernell McPhee (thigh), S Ed Reed (shoulder), CB Jimmy Smith (abdomen), WR Deonte Thompson (thigh), WR LaQuan Williams (thigh), LB Terrell Suggs (biceps)

NEW YORK
DID NOT PARTICIPATE: C David Baas (hip/shoulder), RB Ahmad Bradshaw (knee/foot), G Chris Snee (hip), DE Justin Tuck (shoulder)
LIMITED PARTICIPATION: WR Hakeem Nicks (knee), CB Prince Amukamara (hamstring), S Kenny Phillips (knee), S Tyler Sash (hamstring)
FULL PARTICIPATION: DT Chris Canty (neck)

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Pollard, Yanda hopeful to play despite missing Wednesday’s practice

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Pollard, Yanda hopeful to play despite missing Wednesday’s practice

Posted on 19 December 2012 by Luke Jones

OWINGS MILLS, Md. — After missing Sunday’s 34-17 loss to the Denver Broncos, strong safety Bernard Pollard and right guard Marshal Yanda expressed cautious optimism on Wednesday about a Week 16 return to play the New York Giants.

Neither took part during Wednesday’s practice as Pollard continues to rest the injured ribs he’s dealt with since Week 2 and Yanda works his way back from a sprained ankle.

“It comes down to a point of can I go out there and help my team, with the way the pads and hitting people, and everything,” said Pollard, who collaborated with the training staff in deciding to sit out against Denver. “We’ll see. It’s going to be a good one.”

Yanda is no longer wearing the walking boot he sported last week after injuring his ankle in overtime of the Ravens’ 31-28 loss to Washington two weeks ago. It was the first game Yanda had missed since suffering a torn ACL during the 2008 season.

The Pro Bowl guard took part in the Ravens’ Wednesday morning walk-through but remains noncommital about his status for Sunday.

“I don’t know yet, we’ll see,” Yanda said. “It’s Wednesday, we don’t play until Sunday.”

Also missing from practice were wide receivers Torrey Smith (concussion) and Tandon Doss (ankle) and running back Bernard Pierce (concussion). All three sustained injuries in Sunday’s game, and the Ravens will monitor Smith and Pierce closely as they will need to pass a neurological baseline test to be cleared for contact.

Linebacker Ray Lewis was present for practice during the open portion of Wednesday’s workout but still hasn’t been placed on the 53-man roster. The Ravens are expected to play coy once again with Lewis’ status, meaning they could wait until Saturday’s 4 p.m. deadline to place him on the 53-man roster and move linebacker Jameel McClain (neck) to injured reserve.

When asked whether it was fair for media to consider Lewis taking McClain’s spot on the roster, coach John Harbaugh wouldn’t deny the proposition.

“I think it would be fair — and I’m pretty sure you’re going to do it anyway — to consider any possibility on that,” Harbaugh said.

Tight end Ed Dickson (knee) and linebacker Dannell Ellerbe (ankle) both practiced on a limited basis after missing their third straight game this past Sunday. The third-year tight end appeared to have a higher level of participation that he had at all last week when he practiced on a limited basis but was listed as doubtful for the Denver game.

Ellerbe worked out on the field before being listed as inactive on Sunday, but he hesitated to estimate his chances of returning this week before ultimately offering an optimistic outlook on his status against the Giants.

“I don’t have a percentage,” said Ellerbe, who admitted he wasn’t that close to playing after trying to give it a go last Sunday morning. “Maybe in a high range. Maybe 80, 90 [percent].”

And in what results as the most mysterious — and borderline comical — part of Wednesday’s injury report, linebacker Terrell Suggs wasn’t listed on the injury report despite suffering a torn right biceps 2 1/2 weeks ago. The Ravens were fined $20,000 earlier this season for failing to list safety Ed Reed on the injury report with a torn labrum, even though he wasn’t missing any practice reps.

The Giants are also dealing with injury concerns as five starters didn’t practice on Wednesday, including defensive end Justin Tuck, wide receiver Hakeem Nicks, running back Ahmad Bradshaw, center David Baas, and guard Chris Snee.

BALTIMORE
DID NOT PARTICIPATE: WR Tandon Doss (ankle), LB Jameel McClain (neck), RB Bernard Pierce (head), S Bernard Pollard (chest), WR Torrey Smith (head), G Marshal Yanda (ankle)
LIMITED PARTICIPATION: TE Ed Dickson (knee), LB Dannell Ellerbe (ankle), S James Ihedigbo (neck), DT Arthur Jones (shoulder), FB Vonta Leach (ankle), LB Albert McClellan (thigh/shoulder)
FULL PARTICIPATION: DE Pernell McPhee (thigh), S Ed Reed (shoulder), CB Jimmy Smith (abdomen), WR Deonte Thompson (thigh), WR LaQuan Williams (thigh)

NEW YORK
DID NOT PARTICIPATE: C David Baas (hip/shoulder), RB Ahmad Bradshaw (knee/foot), WR Hakeem Nicks (knee), G Chris Snee (hip), DE Justin Tuck (shoulder)
LIMITED PARTICIPATION: CB Prince Amukamara (hamstring), DT Chris Canty (neck), S Kenny Phillips (knee), S Tyler Sash (hamstring)

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Ravens remain in wait-and-see pattern with infirmary report

Posted on 17 December 2012 by Luke Jones

OWINGS MILLS, Md. — As the Ravens desperately seek to get healthier for their Week 16 meeting with the New York Giants, head coach John Harbaugh didn’t offer much of an idea on which players might be returning to action this Sunday.

Aside from the announcement of linebacker Jameel McClain’s season coming to an end, Harbaugh offered the typical wait-and-see approach he’s expressed to media as the Ravens have dealt with a plethora of injuries. Of the Ravens’ seven inactives for Sunday’s loss to the Denver Broncos, five were starters, including strong safety Bernard Pollard and right guard Marshal Yanda.

“We’ll just see if they can practice and how much they can practice,” Harbaugh said. “We have some optimism with that. The guys that are out from last week, Marshal and Bernard, we’ll see how they go as the week goes along. Ed Dickson, the same. That’s really it on injury stuff.”

Yanda (ankle) and Pollard (chest) missed all three practices last week and were considered highly unlikely to play despite being listed as questionable on the final injury report. Dickson, who has now missed three straight games, was listed as doubtful despite practicing on a limited basis last week after two weeks in which he was completely sidelined with a hyperextended knee.

The Ravens added two names to the list of concerns as wide receiver Torrey Smith and backup running back Bernard Pierce sustained concussions against the Broncos. Their status will depend on symptoms subsiding and both player passing the baseline neurological test to clear them for contact.

“We’ll see as the week goes on how those guys progress from those things,” Harbaugh said. “Obviously, those things are unpredictable.”

Wide receiver Tandon Doss (ankle) and linebacker Albert McClellan (hamstring) also suffered minor injuries but are expected to be ready to play this week.

When asked how close Pollard was to being able to play against Denver, Harbaugh quickly squashed any notion that he’d speculate about his or any other players’ chances of returning to action this week.

“I’m not getting into all that,” Harbaugh said. “Close, not close? What difference does it make?”

In addition to Pollard, Yanda, and Dickson, the Ravens will hope to see the return of linebackers Ray Lewis and Dannell Ellerbe this week.

Five-time Pro Bowl linebacker Terrell Suggs returned to action two weeks after suffering a torn biceps in Week 13 against Pittsburgh, but he was limited to just 42 of the Ravens’ 77 defensive snaps. The 2011 Defensive Player of the Year appeared to be laboring at several different points, even taking himself out of the game on a couple occasions.

Suggs finished with only one tackle as he employed a four-point stance to take some of the weight off his injured right arm when lining up to rush the passer. The linebacker declined talking to media after the 17-point loss on Sunday.

“I thought he played well,” said Harbaugh, who took issue with a reporter’s observation that Suggs was playing with a lot of pain. “I thought he fought and battled out there. He has a lot of courage. He is a fighter. I like Terrell Suggs. He is a warrior.”

Second-year cornerback Jimmy Smith also made his return after being sidelined the last five games and undergoing sports hernia surgery on Nov. 15. However, he participated in only 12 snaps and surrendered a 14-yard reception to Denver wide receiver Eric Decker that set up the Broncos’ first touchdown of the game.

The defensive back did not offer a positive review of his play following Sunday’s loss as he shared duties in the nickel package with reserve corners Chris Johnson and Chykie Brown. Harbaugh shared in that assessment and didn’t commit to an increased workload for Smith against the Giants.

“He wasn’t 100 percent out there, and that’s something that you really don’t know until you get into the game,” Harbaugh said. “Unfortunately, he wasn’t as quick as I would have hoped he would be. We’ll just have to see how he does this week.”

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Dickson doubtful; Yanda, Pollard, six others questionable for Sunday

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Dickson doubtful; Yanda, Pollard, six others questionable for Sunday

Posted on 14 December 2012 by Luke Jones

OWINGS MILLS, Md. — It’s no secret that the Ravens have been ravaged by injuries throughout the season, and coach John Harbaugh wasn’t tipping his hand regarding numerous players’ status for Sunday’s game against the Denver Broncos.

Eight players were listed as questionable, including linebackers Terrell Suggs and Dannell Ellerbe, guard Marshal Yanda, safety Bernard Pollard, defensive linemen Arthur Jones and Pernell McPhee, cornerback Jimmy Smith, and fullback Vonta Leach. Tight end Ed Dickson was listed as doubtful after practicing on a limited basis all week while linebacker Jameel McClain had already been ruled out for Sunday’s game earlier in the week.

“The rest of the guys are going to be up in the air,” Harbaugh said. “It’s not something that we’re probably going to want to share, because there is no advantage to us to let anybody know whether guys are going to play or not. We’ve got an idea on some guys. We have a lesser idea on some other guys. It’s just not information that we are going to put out there. We’re just going to let it go until Sunday.”

Of the players listed as questionable, Yanda and Pollard are the biggest doubts to be available as neither have practiced all week. Yanda was still in a walking boot as of Friday afternoon, and Pollard aggravated the sore ribs with which he’s dealt since Week 2 of the regular season. It’s considered highly unlikely that either will play against the Broncos.

Suggs practiced fully for the second straight day and deemed himself a game-time decision when speaking to reporters on Friday. Meanwhile, Ellerbe returned to the practice field on Thursday and worked on a limited basis the last two days. The inside linebacker hasn’t played the last two games after suffering an ankle injury in Week 12.

“I’m looking forward to being out there [if I can],” Ellerbe said. “I’m going to work it before the game, and if I feel good, I’m going to go. If I can’t go, I’m not going to go out there and hurt the team.”

Linebacker Ray Lewis was on the field for practice on Friday, but he is not required to be listed on the injury report since he is not on the 53-man roster. The 37-year-old continues to work his way back from a torn triceps suffered on Oct. 14 and has been on injured reserve with the designation to return. The Ravens would be required to place Lewis on the active roster by 4 p.m. on Saturday for him to be eligible to return to game action against the Broncos.

Harbaugh was asked specifically if he could say anything about Suggs and Lewis after not disclosing specifics on injured players.

“No, I can’t, but thanks for asking,” Harbaugh replied.

With so many players banged up and practicing with varying degrees of participation, Harbaugh faces a difficult decision on Sunday to weigh the pros and cons of activating players who may be far less than 100 percent but might be able to offer help in limited situations.

“That’s going to be in consideration,” Harbaugh said. “Will we have enough healthy guys to get to 46 [active players on game day]? That’s a consideration. What you are talking about will come down to one or two guys at the end that we will have to make a decision [on].”

Harbaugh also announced McClain would be seeing a back specialist in Los Angeles to help determine his status moving forward. The team hopes to know more by Monday or Tuesday.

BALTIMORE
OUT: LB Jameel McClain (neck)
DOUBTFUL: TE Ed Dickson (knee)
QUESTIONABLE: LB Dannell Ellerbe (ankle), DT Arthur Jones (shoulder), FB Vonta Leach (ankle), DE Pernell McPhee (thigh), S Bernard Pollard (chest), CB Jimmy Smith (abdomen), LB Terrell Suggs (biceps), G Marshal Yanda (ankle)
PROBABLE: CB Chykie Brown (knee), WR Jacoby Jones (ankle), RB Bernard Pierce (back), S Ed Reed (shoulder), RB Ray Rice (hip), WR Deonte Thompson (thigh), WR LaQuan Williams (thigh)

DENVER
QUESTIONABLE: G Chris Kuper (ankle), LB Wesley Woodyard (ankle)
PROBABLE: WR Trindon Holliday (knee), WR Demaryius Thomas (shoulder), WR Matthew Willis (knee)

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Yanda, Pollard absent from practice for third straight day

Posted on 14 December 2012 by Luke Jones

OWINGS MILLS, Md. — Two more players returned to the practice field for the Ravens on Friday, but the status of Pro Bowl guard Marshal Yanda and safety Bernard Pollard remains in doubt as both missed their third straight workout ahead of Sunday’s game against the Denver Broncos.

Fullback Vonta Leach (ankle) and defensive end Pernell McPhee (thigh) were present and dressed out to practice for the first time this week during the portion open for media viewing, but Yanda (ankle) and Pollard (chest) haven’t practiced all week. Yanda is dealing with a significant ankle sprain while Pollard aggravated the sore ribs he’s played with for most of the season.

Should neither Yanda nor Pollard play this weekend, Bobbie Williams and James Ihedigbo would presumably fill in at their positions.

Linebackers Ray Lewis (triceps), Terrell Suggs (biceps), and Dannell Ellerbe (ankle), defensive lineman Arthur Jones (shoulder), tight end Ed Dickson (knee), and running backs Ray Rice (hip) and Bernard Pierce (back) were all present after all practiced in some capacity on Thursday.

Of that group, the three linebackers are considered to be the only question marks. Lewis remains on injured reserve and would need to be placed on the 53-man roster by 4 p.m. on Saturday in order to potentially play against Denver. Suggs described himself as a game-time decision on Thursday while Ellerbe has missed each of the last two games with the ankle injury he suffered against San Diego on Nov. 25.

Suggs was listed as a full participant while Ellerbe was designated as limited on Thursday. Because he is not on the active roster, Lewis isn’t required to be included on the injury report.

Linebacker Jameel McClain (neck) was officially ruled out for the Denver game on Wednesday.

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McClain out for Sunday’s game against Broncos

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McClain out for Sunday’s game against Broncos

Posted on 12 December 2012 by Luke Jones

OWINGS MILLS, Md. — Entering the week with optimism over the chance of linebacker Ray Lewis possibly returning to play against the Denver Broncos, the Ravens will be without fellow inside linebacker Jameel McClain for Sunday’s game.

McClain suffered a neck injury in the third quarter of the 31-28 loss to the Washington Redskins and didn’t return. Coach John Harbaugh said McClain would be OK during his Monday press conference but said the fifth-year linebacker would not be ready in time to play this Sunday. He was officially ruled out for Sunday’s game on Wednesday’s injury report.

“Jameel McClain will not make it to the game,” Harbaugh said. “We’re talking a look at the neck [and] back. There’s nothing major there, but he will not make it to this game. We’re going to do some more tests and things like that just to see down the road where he’ll be.”

With McClain out and Dannell Ellerbe’s status in question against the Broncos, the possibility of Lewis returning becomes more of a necessity, but the 37-year-old linebacker was absent from the portion of practice open to media on Wednesday, joining Ellerbe (ankle) and McClain as non-participants. Lewis is eligible to come off the injured reserve list this week, and it has been reported by several outlets over the last few weeks that he was targeting a Week 15 return against Peyton Manning and Denver. He wasn’t listed on Wednesday’s injury report, because the team is not required to include him since he isn’t part of the active roster.

Lewis hasn’t played since suffering a right torn triceps against the Dallas Cowboys on Oct. 14 and has spent the last eight weeks on IR with the designation to return. Should the Ravens be without Lewis and Ellerbe for Sunday’s game, they would be faced with the combination of Brendon Ayanbadejo, Albert McClellan, and Josh Bynes playing the inside linebacker spots.

In addition to the trio of linebackers, the Ravens were also without right guard Marshal Yanda (ankle), fullback Vonta Leach (ankle), safety Bernard Pollard (ribs), and defensive linemen Pernell McPhee (groin) and Arthur Jones (right shoulder bruise) during Wednesday’s workout.

Of those players, Yanda’s status is the most concerning after he suffered a “somewhat serious” ankle sprain in overtime against Washington that left him in a walking boot and on crutches following the game. He was noncommittal when asked about his status against the Broncos.

“There’s nothing to announce on any other guys today,” Harbaugh said. “We’ll know more by the end of the week in terms of how much they are going to be able to practice and stuff like that. I’d say that they all have a chance to get there. Some have a higher chance than others, but I’m not going to get into those percentages today.”

On a positive note, tight end Ed Dickson (knee) returned to the practice field on a limited basis for the first time since being injured against the San Diego Chargers in Week 12. Linebacker Terrell Suggs (torn right biceps) was also practicing on Wednesday after missing Sunday’s game against the Redskins.

Dickson described himself as “day to day” after missing the last two games with a hyperextended knee.

“I’m living in the treatment center getting it ready,” Dickson said. “I don’t want to be out there at 50 percent. That’s not going to help the team. They need a 100-percent me.”

Cornerback Jimmy Smith practiced full for the first time since undergoing sports hernia surgery last month. He practiced on a limited basis all last week before sitting out against Washington.

To replace suspended rookie cornerback Asa Jackson on the 53-man roster, the Ravens promoted safety Omar Brown from the practice squad and signed outside linebacker D.J. Bryant to take Brown’s place on the developmental unit.

Bryant played his college football at James Madison and graduated from Randallstown High School.

Here is Wednesday’s full injury report, which doesn’t include Lewis since he has yet to be placed back on the 53-man roster …

BALTIMORE
OUT: LB Jameel McClain (neck)
DID NOT PARTICIPATE: LB Dannell Ellerbe (ankle), DT Arthur Jones (shoulder), FB Vonta Leach (ankle), DE Pernell McPhee (thigh), S Bernard Pollard (chest), G Marshal Yanda (ankle)
LIMITED PARTICIPATION: TE Ed Dickson (knee), RB Bernard Pierce (back), RB Ray Rice (hip), LB Terrell Suggs (biceps)
FULL PARTICIPATION: WR Jacoby Jones (ankle), S Ed Reed (shoulder), CB Jimmy Smith (abdomen), WR Deonte Thompson (thigh), WR LaQuan Williams (thigh)

DENVER
LIMITED PARTICIPATION: G Chris Kuper (ankle), LB Wesley Woodyard (ankle)
FULL PARTICIPATION: WR Trindon Holliday (knee), WR Demaryius Thomas (shoulder), WR Matthew Willis (knee)

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