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Why will this one be any different for Ravens against red-hot Denver?

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Why will this one be any different for Ravens against red-hot Denver?

Posted on 08 January 2013 by Luke Jones

OWINGS MILLS, Md. — The Ravens have heard the doubts since the first hours following their wild-card playoff win over the Indianapolis Colts on Sunday night.

The Broncos demolished them in a 34-17 final at M&T Bank Stadium less than four weeks ago, the worst home loss of the John Harbaugh era. The score really wasn’t even that close as Denver seemingly took its foot off the gas pedal after building a 31-3 lead midway through the third quarter.

Denver has a league-best 11-game winning streak and hasn’t lost a game since the Orioles were still playing postseason baseball in early October. Baltimore has been installed as a nine-point underdog by oddsmakers in Las Vegas.

How can the Ravens possibly expect a different result this time around as they travel to Sports Authority Field at Mile High on a short week to take on the mighty Broncos coming off a bye week?

The image of quarterback Joe Flacco throwing an interception returned 98 yards for a touchdown by cornerback Chris Harris right before halftime is just too much to shake, isn’t it?

“It doesn’t surprise me that nobody would really give us too much of a shot,” Flacco said. “They beat us up pretty good a couple weeks ago. I think you always have that little chip that you want to go out there and prove to people that you’re a good football team.”

The Ravens believe they are a better football team now than the one on display that day at M&T Bank Stadium as they were only six days removed from firing offensive coordinator Cam Cameron and promoting quarterbacks coach Jim Caldwell. Five key starters were missing from the lineup due to injury. And what could have been a one-possession game going into halftime — with the Ravens set to receive the opening kickoff of the second half — was dramatically transformed into a 17-0 deficit that broke the spirit of what was an inspired defensive effort against Peyton Manning in the first half.

So, as the rest of the country focuses on the deficiencies that were on full display in that embarrassing loss, the Ravens instead look ahead at Saturday’s opportunity while acknowledging how one play can dramatically change the tone — and outcome — of a football game.

“Everybody has an opinion. Whatever that opinion is, let them have it,” said linebacker Ray Lewis, who reminded reporters that the 2000 Ravens were underdogs through much of their run to Super Bowl XXXV. “One thing about it, the game has to be played. No matter what anybody says or who they feel is going to win, you have to play the game on [Saturday]. That’s the way we feel — let the game play out. Because at the end of the day, some people are going to be right and some people are going to be wrong.”

There’s no way to sugarcoat that the Ravens are the clear underdog in this one as the Broncos have dominated on both sides of the ball — ranked fourth in total offense and second in total defense during the regular season — over the last three months to enter the postseason as the AFC’s No. 1 seed. The Denver defense is led by Defensive Player of the Year candidate Von Miller and Elvis Dumervil, who formed the best pass-rushing duo in the league with a combined 29 1/2 sacks this season. The Broncos battered Flacco to the tune of three sacks and nine quarterback hits in that first meeting.

Manning has played at an MVP-caliber level in throwing for 4,695 yards and 37 touchdowns this season, and wide receiver Eric Decker torched the Ravens with 133 receiving yards in that Week 15 win. The Ravens haven’t beaten a Manning-led team in 11 years as the future Hall of Fame quarterback has gotten the best of them over and over.

But a Baltimore defense without Lewis, Dannell Ellerbe, and Bernard Pollard held the Broncos to 10 points in the first 29 minutes of play on Dec. 16, three coming after a Flacco fumble on the Ravens’ first drive to set up Denver at midfield. It was only after the backbreaking interception on a quick out intended for Anquan Boldin that an undermanned defense completely wilted in the second half.

Flacco and the rest of the offense know they must perform at a much higher level to give the Ravens any chance to pull off the upset in Denver. In Caldwell’s debut as offensive coordinator, Baltimore had a fumble, five three-and-outs, and an interception over its first seven drives.

Recently, the starting offense has looked much better in scoring 57 points in games against New York and Indianapolis that sandwiched the regular-season finale in Cincinnati that was a glorified preseason game. The Ravens also may have finally settled on their best offensive line this past Sunday with veteran Bryant McKinnie finally being inserted at left tackle with Michael Oher moving to the right side and rookie Kelechi Osemele shifting inside to left guard.

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Ravens list seven players as questionable for Bengals game

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Ravens list seven players as questionable for Bengals game

Posted on 28 December 2012 by Luke Jones

OWINGS MILLS, Md. — Questions remain over which players the Ravens will elect to rest in the regular-season finale against the Cincinnati Bengals on Sunday, but it’s appearing more likely they will sit defensive tackle Haloti Ngata and right guard Marshal Yanda.

Both players missed their third straight practice on Friday and were listed as questionable on the final injury report of the week. Ngata is listed as having a knee injury and is on the injury report for the first time since late November while Yanda is still recovering from a serious ankle sprain that sidelined him in Week 15.

The Ravens also listed wide receivers Anquan Boldin and Tandon Doss, defensive end Arthur Jones, fullback Vonta Leach, and linebacker Albert McClellan as questionable.

Coach John Harbaugh has maintained he will play to win Sunday’s game like any other regular-season contest as there is still a chance for the Ravens to claim the No. 3 seed in the AFC with a victory and a New England loss. However, the Baltimore coach has also said they will try to be as healthy as possible for the opening round of the playoffs, leading many to believe the Ravens will rest many significant players for at least a portion of the game.

Bengals head coach Marvin Lewis has also said his team will play to win Sunday’s game despite Cincinnati having no scenario in which they can move up from the No. 6 position in the conference.

“We’ll go in there to win the game,” said Harbaugh, who provided no new injury updates following Friday’s practice. “We’ll have 46 guys active. It’ll be the 46 best guys available to us, like always, and we’ll go in there to play.”

Linebacker Ray Lewis was surprisingly listed as probable for Sunday’s game after Harbaugh said on more than one occasion that the 37-year-old will not play in Week 17. The designation largely stems from Lewis being a full participant in all three practices this week, and there is little reason to believe he will suit up and play against Cincinnati.

Meanwhile, the Bengals ruled kicker Mike Nugent out for Sunday’s game with a right calf injury. He will be replaced by veteran Josh Brown.

Bengals cornerbacks Jason Allen and Terence Newman are both listed as questionable after being limited participants in practice all week.

BALTIMORE
QUESTIONABLE: WR Anquan Boldin (shoulder), WR Tandon Doss (ankle), DE Arthur Jones (thigh), FB Vonta Leach (ankle), LB Albert McClellan (shoulder/thigh), DT Haloti Ngata (knee), G Marshal Yanda (shoulder/knee)
PROBABLE: 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
OUT: K Mike Nugent (right calf)
QUESTIONABLE: CB Jason Allen (hamstring), CB Terence Newman (groin)
PROBABLE: RB BenJarvus Green-Ellis (illness), CB Adam Jones (hamstring), S Reggie Nelson (shoulder)

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Ngata receiving “well-deserved rest” ahead of Bengals game

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Ngata receiving “well-deserved rest” ahead of Bengals game

Posted on 27 December 2012 by Luke Jones

OWINGS MILLS, Md. — Head coach John Harbaugh has said the Ravens will play to win Sunday’s game against the Cincinnati Bengals, but they are taking the final week of the regular season as an opportunity to rest Pro Bowl defensive tackle Haloti Ngata.

The seventh-year defensive lineman missed his second straight practice on Thursday with what’s listed as a knee injury. Ngata hadn’t been listed on the injury report since late November but has battled knee and shoulder issues for much of the season.

Defensive coordinator Dean Pees did not express concern over Ngata’s availability for Sunday’s game in Cincinnati, explaining the Ravens are simply allowing him to take a couple days off. Named to his fourth consecutive Pro Bowl on Wednesday, Ngata hasn’t made the same impact along the defensive line as the Ravens have enjoyed in past seasons but appears to be looking stronger over the last few weeks of the regular season.

“I think he’s getting there,” Pees said. “He’s been banged up seems like kind of all year here and there. He’s getting some well-deserved rest.”

Two other Pro Bowl selections also missed Thursday’s workout as right guard Marshal Yanda and fullback Vonta Leach sat out. Yanda was missing for the second straight day, but his practice status hasn’t been surprising considering he is still recuperating from a significant ankle sprain that forced him out of the lineup in Week 15. The seventh-year guard is also dealing with shoulder and knee issues.

Dressed in street clothes, Leach was on the field during the special-teams portion of practice but left before the rest of the team began working out. He has been dealing with an ankle injury and has received regular days off over the last few weeks.

Wide receiver Anquan Boldin (shoulder bruise) practiced on a limited basis for the second straight day and doesn’t appear to be feeling too many lingering effects from the injury sustained in last Sunday’s 33-14 win over the New York Giants. Wide receiver Tandon Doss, defensive lineman Arthur Jones, and linebacker Albert McClellan were also limited participants.

For the Bengals, starting running back BenJarvus Green-Ellis (illness) and kicker Mike Nugent (right calf) did not participate in Thursday’s workout.

BALTIMORE
DID NOT PARTICIPATE: FB Vonta Leach (ankle), DT Haloti Ngata (knee), G Marshal Yanda (shoulder/knee)
LIMITED PARTICIPATION: WR Anquan Boldin (shoulder), WR Tandon Doss (ankle), DE Arthur Jones (thigh), 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
DID NOT PARTICIPATE: RB BenJarvus Green-Ellis (illness), K Mike Nugent (right calf)
LIMITED PARTICIPATION: CB Jason Allen (hamstring), CB Adam Jones (hamstring), S Reggie Nelson (shoulder), CB Terence Newman (hamstring)

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No Matter What Happens in Cincinnati, a Difficult Road Lies Ahead

Posted on 27 December 2012 by jeffreygilley

The Ravens schedule in 2012 has been among the toughest.  The Rams tied the Ravens with the fourth strongest schedule and the Browns, Broncos, and Giants were the only teams with stronger schedules.

The Bengals will line up against the Ravens with a lot to prove.  They have vastly improved after a three and five start and the defense has led the charge.

The Ravens’ offensive line played very well last week against the Giants but the Bengals have pass rushing threats at the defensive tackle position where as the Giants do not.  Therefore, look out for the matchup between Marshal Yanda and Atkins, it will be a great one to watch!

If the Ravens beat the Bengals, they would need help from the Dolphins who would have to beat the Patriots in Fox Borough for the Ravens to claim the third seed in the AFC.  Unfortunately, this wont happen so the Ravens will most likely host Andrew Luck and Chick Pagano in the wild card round.  Many are predicting a Ravens victory but the Colts are a very good team.  The Ravens would have to lean on the run game seeing as the Colts rank 30th against the run.

If the Ravens beat the Colts and the Patriots beat the Bengals (which is likely), the Ravens would have to travel to Houston to play the Texans who have only beaten the Ravens once in their history which was earlier this season.  The Ravens season might just end there and if they get past the Texans, the Ravens would host  a rematch of the AFC Championship game from last season.

The Patriots and Texans are arguably the best two teams in the NFL.  The Ravens would have to beat both of them to reach the Super Bowl.  But with Ray Lewis coming back for the playoffs and the defense getting healthier, anything is possible.

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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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