Tag Archive | "Michael Campanaro"

Screen Shot 2016-05-27 at 12.58.21 PM

Tags: , , , , , ,

Surprise candidate surfacing for Ravens at inside linebacker?

Posted on 27 May 2016 by Luke Jones

OWINGS MILLS, Md. — You should never read too much into what you see during spring non-contact practices, but the Ravens clearly face questions at inside linebacker after the offseason release of veteran Daryl Smith.

That’s why it was interesting to see second-round rookie Kamalei Correa taking extensive reps inside during Thursday’s voluntary workout. The Boise State product even broke up a pass intended for veteran tight end Dennis Pitta near the goal line during an 11-on-11 drill and proceeded to do pushups as punished for failing to secure the interception.

Projected by many to serve as a situational pass rusher to spell veterans Terrell Suggs and Elvis Dumervil as a rookie, Correa could end up being an interesting candidate to compete with the likes of Zach Orr and Arthur Brown for the starting inside linebacker spot next to C.J. Mosley, who will assume Smith’s “Mike” linebacker position. Wearing Smith’s old No. 51 jersey, Correa has a 6-foot-3, 245-pound frame that would seem to fit inside if he’s able to hold up in pass coverage, the biggest unknown about his game at this point.

“They all need to learn all the positions, and I think K.C. has inside linebacker traits,” said head coach John Harbaugh, who noted that the “Will” linebacker spot has outside backer characteristics. “He played it in college quite a bit. They moved him around at Boise. The more he can do, the better. We’re definitely going to look at him, and you have Albert [McClellan] that can play the different [linebacker] spots.

“We’ll look at different guys at different spots for sure.”

It’s worth noting that Mosley wasn’t present for Thursday’s workout, but neither were Suggs and Dumervil, which would lead you to assume Correa would have spent more time at either outside position if the Ravens weren’t serious about evaluating him as an inside linebacker. This all could mean nothing in even a couple weeks, but Correa’s development will definitely be worth monitoring as the Ravens desperately need to get faster and more athletic on the defensive side of the ball.

Injuries won’t help bubble players

Neither wide receiver Michael Campanaro nor running back Trent Richardson are locks to make the 53-man roster, so it’s disappointing for both to be sidelined with injuries — even for spring workouts.

Harbaugh has been outspoken in the past about Campanaro’s inability to stay on the field, but the coach took a more empathetic tone in discussing the latest injury — a “tweaked” calf suffered a couple weeks ago. The 2014 seventh-round pick has been limited to eight games in his first two seasons.

“There will be a time when he will get past this stuff,” Harbaugh said. “This stuff will stop happening and hopefully it’s training camp. That’s what we’re hoping for him. The guy works tremendously hard and was in phenomenal shape, and we’re still expecting really good things from him.”

Meanwhile, Richardson faces an uphill climb to resurrect his career as he will compete with Justin Forsett, Buck Allen, Kenneth Dixon, Lorenzo Taliaferro, and Terrance West for what figures to be three or four roster spots at the most.

Much was made about the former first-round pick’s efforts to lose weight and get in better shape before the Ravens signed him this spring, but Harbaugh apparently wants to see more from the Alabama product. He could only observe Thursday’s workout after injuring his hamstring last week.

“I think the workload and the amount of work it takes to be a world-class conditioned athlete is something that he’s working on right now,” Harbaugh said. “That’s what he needs to understand and that’s where he needs to get himself. When he gets himself there, he’s got talent. It will be fun. I’m very certain he’ll get there and when he does we’ll be able to evaluate him.”

Jernigan number change

Despite being a Florida State product, defensive tackle Timmy Jernigan interestingly changed his jersey number to honor a former University of Miami legend.

The 2014 second-round pick is now wearing No. 99, a nod to Hall of Famer Warren Sapp. Veteran Chris Canty had worn the number most recently while Jernigan donned No. 97 in his first two seasons.

“Nasty, ferocious, he came every play,” said Jernigan about his appreciation for Sapp’s career. “You definitely knew he was there and when he made a play. Another thing, he played down in Florida, too, so he was definitely one of the greats from our state.”

The admiration may not be mutual, however, as Sapp tweeted to the Ravens asking how he could stop this. It’s unclear whether this was more of a playful jab at someone from a rival Florida school or that the cantankerous Sapp has a serious — and, frankly, inexplicable — objection.

Comments Off on Surprise candidate surfacing for Ravens at inside linebacker?

smithharbaugh

Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

Even with Smith’s return, Ravens have work to do at receiver

Posted on 31 December 2015 by Luke Jones

Steve Smith returning for the 2016 season is good news for the Ravens.

You don’t easily replace the leadership, fire, and experience of a possible Hall of Fame player, and I won’t be the one to doubt his ability to defy the odds as a 37-year-old wide receiver coming back from a torn Achilles tendon, a serious injury for players even much younger than him.

But Ozzie Newsome must be realistic and can’t just plan on Smith being his No. 1 wide receiver in 2016. The longtime general manager needs to do more at the position this offseason after not doing enough this past year.

When the Ravens signed Smith to a three-year, $10.5 million contract two offseasons ago, the veteran said he anticipated being a “complementary” receiver behind Torrey Smith, but we know how that turned out as the veteran was the clear No.1 guy — and deserved to be. This time around, however, the organization quietly needs to view him as a No. 2 or No. 3 option in his 16th NFL season and can then be pleasantly surprised if he posts the ninth 1,000-yard season of his brilliant career.

Contrary to most of the 20-year history of this franchise, it’s not against NFL bylaws to have a surplus of talent at the wide receiver position.

As the Ravens conclude the first losing season of the John Harbaugh era, they have Kamar Aiken and an abundance of No. 5 and No. 6 receivers on the current roster. Aiken has more than proven himself as a starting possession receiver in Smith’s absence, but the two have similar attributes at this point and didn’t mesh as well being on the field at the same time early this season.

Baltimore still needs more speed at the position.

No, I haven’t forgotten about 2015 first-round pick Breshad Perriman, but the Ravens can’t make the same mistake twice in counting on the Central Florida product without a backup plan. The 6-foot-2 Perriman may still realize his potential in the NFL, but questions will persist about his health and his overall ability until he can stay on the football field to silence them.

It’s easy to say the Ravens need a No. 1 receiver, but those talents aren’t just congregating outside the gates at 1 Winning Drive in Owings Mills waiting for a league-minimum contract. A less-than-ideal salary cap position makes it unlikely that a top free agent like Alshon Jeffery will be an option, and Newsome probably can’t afford to trade multiple picks for a bona fide No. 1 wideout when the Ravens need an infusion of talent at multiple positions on either side of the ball.

But hedging their bets on the trio of Smith, Aiken, and Perriman is a must. Whether it’s signing or trading for a starting-caliber veteran or selecting another receiver in the early rounds of the 2016 draft, the Ravens need another legitimate option to throw into the mix. It would be a move for the post-Smith future as much as next season.

Even if that addition wouldn’t be a No. 1 receiver himself, Newsome adding more impact talent can only help the current group.

As for other receivers on the roster such as Michael Campanaro, Jeremy Butler, Darren Waller, Chris Matthews, and Daniel Brown, the Ravens can bring as many as they’d like to organized team activities and training camp, but none should be projected as anything better than No. 5 or No. 6 options at this point. Let’s face it, we’ve heard the hype about the late-round picks and rookie free agents on an annual basis with little to show for it as even Aiken had spent time with three other organizations before finally arriving in Baltimore in 2013.

The Ravens left themselves with no margin for error at the wide receiver position this season and paid dearly for it when Perriman went down on the first day of training camp and Smith was lost midway through the season. Both have the potential to help the Ravens immensely in 2016, but Aiken is the only safe bet of their top three right now.

Even if he’s not his old explosive self after the injury, Smith can still help on the field and in the meeting rooms.

But he can’t be viewed as the only solution this offseason to the problems at wide receiver.

Such expectations would be unfair to him and unfair to the Ravens.

Comments Off on Even with Smith’s return, Ravens have work to do at receiver

Screen Shot 2015-10-05 at 5.28.52 PM

Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Harbaugh says Perriman has one of “slowest-healing PCL sprains ever”

Posted on 05 October 2015 by Luke Jones

OWINGS MILLS, Md. — Though downplaying the notion that Breshad Perriman suffered a recent setback, Ravens coach John Harbaugh said the rookie receiver has one of the slowest-healing knee injuries they’ve encountered.

Upon seeing renowned orthopedist Dr. James Andrews last Thursday, the 2015 first-round pick underwent arthroscopic surgery as he continues to recover from a sprained posterior cruciate ligament suffered on the first day of training camp in late July. Perriman had returned to practice on a limited basis two weeks ago before appearing to aggravate his right knee during a pre-game workout a couple hours before the Ravens’ Week 3 loss to Cincinnati on Sept. 27.

Last Tuesday, Harbaugh said he was unaware of any setback before the news surfaced about his surgery two days later.

“It’s just a slow-healing deal,” Harbaugh said on Monday. “He’s had probably one of the all-time slowest-healing PCL sprains ever. That’s nothing against him; that’s just the way it is. It’s just tough. It’s one-in-some number — whatever Dr. Andrews said it was.”

Initially diagnosed with a bruise that was expected to keep him out for only a day or two, the Central Florida product was supposed to be the replacement for Torrey Smith in the vertical passing game this season. Through the first quarter of the season, the Ravens have been unable to consistently stretch the field with quarterback Joe Flacco completing just three passes of 30 or more yards.

In addition to the scope, Perriman received a platelet-rich plasma injection to try to accelerate the healing process, a practice that has become more common in recent years. It remains unclear when the 6-foot-2, 218-pound receiver will return to the practice field as general manager Ozzie Newsome acquired speed receiver Chris Givens from St. Louis in exchange for a 2016 seventh-round pick over the weekend.

“Hopefully, [the PRP injection] will have a good impact on it,” Harbaugh said. “We’ll see how he comes along this week. I’m looking forward to it and seeing how fast that we can get some recovery going on it.

“I think when we get him out there full-speed in practice running routes and actually practicing with the units, that’s when you’ll know he’s got a chance to come back and play. When he’s doing the walk-throughs or just individual [parts], that’s a little different. That’s what he was doing before [the surgery].”

Steve Smith in pain tolerance “Hall of Fame”

Making Perriman’s continued absence even worse was the lower back injury suffered by No. 1 receiver Steve Smith in the Thursday night win at Pittsburgh.

Sustaining multiple microfractures in his back, Smith is expected to miss Sunday’s game with Cleveland, but Harbaugh is optimistic about his status after that as the issue will be more about pain tolerance than risking further injury.

“We’re never going to put him out there if he’s not able to really function and protect himself and play hard and fast and all those kinds of things,” Harbaugh said. “Now, knowing Steve, he’ll want to be out there. He has probably one of the all-time high pain tolerances that you’re ever going to see. He’s in the Hall of Fame of pain tolerance. That’s what our doctors told me.”

Asked about Smith’s status on Saturday at the Maryland-Michigan game, Harbaugh told Comcast SportsNet that the medical staff already “ruled him out for the Cleveland game,” but the Ravens coach tried to back away from that proclamation when asked again on Monday.

“The injury report rules people out; that’s how it works,” Harbaugh said. “There’s a process to that, so we’ll just follow the process on that. I have my own thoughts on it as I stated.”

Demon Deacon influence

Placed on season-ending injured reserve with a herniated disc in his back on Saturday, second-year receiver Michael Campanaro gave the Ravens some inside information on the newly-acquired Givens, the man taking his place on the 53-man roster.

Campanaro and Givens were once teammates at Wake Forest before the latter was drafted in the fourth round of the 2012 draft.

“Michael gave us a nice report on him as far as his character and work ethic,” Harbaugh said. “He’s a fast receiver, down-the-field threat, and does a lot of good things. He’s a good player. It turned out he was available due to the circumstances in St. Louis, and Ozzie made the trade, so we’re excited.”

Gillmore, Canty have “chance” to play against Cleveland

Harbaugh said tight end Crockett Gillmore is improving and could make his return against the Browns.

“Week-to-week. He has a chance this week — same thing with Chris Canty,” Harbaugh said. “They’ve both had very similar calf strains.”

Gillmore injured his calf in the first half of the Week 3 loss to Cincinnati while the veteran defensive end hurt his calf early in the Week 2 loss at Oakland.

Left tackle Eugene Monroe practiced on a limited basis last week as he’s remained in the concussion protocol since injuring his head on the opening series of the 2015 season.

Comments Off on Harbaugh says Perriman has one of “slowest-healing PCL sprains ever”

givens

Tags: , , , , , ,

Ravens acquire St. Louis receiver Givens, place Campanaro on IR

Posted on 03 October 2015 by Luke Jones

Reeling from injuries at the wide receiver position, the Ravens acquired Chris Givens from the St. Louis Rams in exchange for a 2017 seventh-round pick on Saturday morning.

To make room on the 53-man roster, second-year wide receiver Michael Campanaro was placed on season-ending injured reserve with a back injury suffered in Week 4. The 2014 seventh-round pick scored a touchdown in the 23-20 win over Pittsburgh and has shown promise, but injuries have continued to limit his ability to make an impact as a receiver and return specialist.

Givens was a 2012 fourth-round pick out of Wake Forest and had fallen out of favor in St. Louis, registering just 12 catches for 166 yards and a touchdown over his last 17 games. The speedy six-foot receiver adds speed that the Ravens have lacked with rookie Breshad Perriman sidelined with a knee injury since the start of training camp, but Campanaro’s absence once again creates major questions in the return game as Givens only has experience as a kick returner in his career.

Averaging 16.3 yards per reception in his four-year career, Givens caught 42 passes for 698 yards and three touchdowns in 2012, but his numbers have declined every season since his rookie campaign.

In addition to losing Campanaro for the year, Baltimore confirmed Saturday morning that Steve Smith is “week-to-week” with a lower back injury suffered against the Steelers. Multiple reports have said that the 36-year-old suffered four broken ribs late in the third quarter of the Thursday night win.

Givens has 88 catches for 1,433 yards and four touchdowns in his career.

Comments Off on Ravens acquire St. Louis receiver Givens, place Campanaro on IR

Screen Shot 2015-10-03 at 11.50.47 AM

Tags: , , , , , , ,

Steve Smith to miss Cleveland game with back injury

Posted on 03 October 2015 by Luke Jones

(Updated: 8:00 p.m.)

After leaving Thursday’s game in Pittsburgh with a lower back injury, Ravens wide receiver Steve Smith is “week-to-week” as reports are saying he suffered four broken ribs in the 23-20 win.

The 36-year-old was injured on the penultimate play of the third quarter when he caught a pass on a short out route and was tackled by Steelers linebacker Lawrence Timmons and cornerback Antwon Blake in front of the Pittsburgh bench. Timmons appeared to spear Smith in the lower back as the veteran receiver was slow to get up.

Smith tried to return to the Baltimore huddle before falling to the ground in pain. He did not return to the game as members of the training staff walked him to the Ravens bench.

Watching his brother Jim lead the University of Michigan against Maryland in College Park on Saturday, Ravens coach John Harbaugh told Comcast SportsNet that Smith will be held out of the Week 5 game against Cleveland next Sunday. Harbaugh described the injury as “microfractures” in Smith’s lower back.

Ravens vice president of public and community relations Kevin Byrne issued the following statement Saturday morning:

“While the Ravens do not give specifics about injuries out of respect to the men on our team and HIPAA laws, we want to dispel rumors and stories currently being reported about Steve Smith Sr.’s injury. He does have a back injury. It is not a surgical issue. His status is currently week-to-week.”

Trying to determine what “week-to-week” means will be interesting as the Ravens cannot afford to be without their top receiver and only established threat in the passing game. News of Smith’s injury came after the Ravens acquired St. Louis Rams receiver Chris Givens for a 2017 seventh-round pick and placed second-year receiver Michael Campanaro (back) on season-ending injured reserve.

Given his incomparable toughness as well as his plans to retire at the end of 2015, Smith will likely try to play through the injury, but the news certainly isn’t encouraging for a Ravens team trying to rebound from the first 0-3 start in franchise history.

In four games this season, Smith has caught 29 passes for 373 yards and two touchdowns.

Comments Off on Steve Smith to miss Cleveland game with back injury

smith

Tags: , , , ,

Smith returning punts reflects Ravens’ need for field position

Posted on 18 September 2015 by Luke Jones

Watching Steve Smith return punts in the Ravens’ season opener was one of the more eyebrow-raising developments of Week 1.

But the Ravens appear content moving forward with their No. 1 wide receiver as their primary punt returner despite the injury risk that accompanies the job. A Pro Bowl return specialist early in his career with Carolina, Smith gained 32 yards on two attempts in his first action as a return man since the 2010 season. His 22-yard return in the third quarter was one of the Ravens’ longest plays in any phase of the 19-13 loss to Denver.

“We want to have our best football team out there,” special teams coordinator Jerry Rosburg said. “The best players for [those] positions are the guys that are going to help us win. I can assure you Steve Smith is excited to be back there. He’s a competitor. He loves playing football. He likes having the ball in his hands, and he’s the best guy we have. He’s going in the game, because we’re trying to win.”

With the offense lacking a vertical threat in the passing game with rookie Breshad Perriman still sidelined with a sprained knee, you have to wonder if the Ravens are desperate to maximize their field position for a more methodical offense than they anticipated having. Smith offers more ability to gain yards after the catch than second-year understudy Michael Campanaro, the man most assumed would be the primary punt returner.

Because of his importance to a passing game lacking reliable weapons for quarterback Joe Flacco, Smith serving as the primary punt returner is risky, but it’s hardly an outrageous proposition. Pittsburgh still uses Antonio Brown as its primary punt returner despite the 27-year-old arguably being the best receiver in the NFL. Of course, Brown is nine years younger than Smith, but he caught 129 passes for just under 1,700 yards in 2014, a major reason why the Steelers won the AFC North.

Brown also returned 30 punts for 319 yards in 2014, matching the number of punt returns made by ex-Raven Jacoby Jones last season.

Using a 36-year-old as a return man is unconventional, but Smith is one of two players in NFL history — the other being new Hall of Fame inductee Tim Brown — to accumulate 13,000 receiving yards and 4,000 return yards. You just hope the Ravens aren’t asking their veteran wideout to do too much as they need him to remain fresh for the entire season as their young receivers and tight ends try to grow up as quickly as possible in Marc Trestman’s offense.

“At this time — right now, right here — Steve Smith is our best option,” Rosburg said. “We’re excited about him because you saw what he did last week. His experience shows. His competitiveness shows. His judgment shows. It’s fun to watch. I’m excited to have him back there. I see him trot back there, and it gives me a lot of confidence.”

Comments Off on Smith returning punts reflects Ravens’ need for field position

flacco

Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

Ravens-Redskins: Inactives and pre-game notes

Posted on 29 August 2015 by Luke Jones

BALTIMORE — The dress rehearsal for the 2015 season has finally arrived as the Ravens welcome the Washington Redskins to Baltimore for the all-important third preseason game of the summer.

With starters expected to play the entire first half in a final tuneup before the season opener in Denver on Sept. 13, head coach John Harbaugh hopes to see a crisp performance after last week’s poor showing in Philadelphia. Most starters will not play in Thursday’s preseason finale in Atlanta as has been the custom in Harbaugh’s eight summers at the helm.

The Ravens will be without three key starters as left tackle Eugene Monroe (forearm), left guard Kelechi Osemele (Achilles), and cornerback Lardarius Webb (hamstring) are all dealing with injuries. Ryan Jensen, John Urschel, and Rashaan Melvin are expected to start at their positions, respectively.

Normally, James Hurst would have drawn the start at left tackle in place of Monroe, but he was dealing with a concussion and missed extensive practice time this week. Hurst was suited up, but the second-year tackle was not doing much during full-team warm-ups.

Sidelined for nearly three weeks, Webb went through a rigorous pre-game workout on the M&T Bank Stadium field and appeared to be moving well, a strong indication that he’s close to returning. In Webb’s absence, Melvin has received extensive opportunities on the outside with veteran Kyle Arrington continuing to work inside at the nickel position.

Out with a sprained knee suffered on the first day of training camp, rookie wideout Breshad Perriman was on the field catching passes from receivers coach Bobby Engram two hours before the start of the game. For what it’s worth, the 2015 first-round pick did not do any running as he caught passes in a stationary position, another good indication that he will miss the entire preseason.

Rookie tight end Maxx Williams will also sit out Saturday’s game after practicing in a red non-contact jersey all week in Owings Mills.

Wide receiver Michael Campanaro was the first Ravens player on the field a few hours before kickoff, working on stretching and agility drills. Harbaugh has described the injury that’s sidelined him for more than a week as a “soft tissue” ailment, but he did not go through team warm-ups.

Asa Jackson was expected to start the game as the primary returner, but DeAndre Carter, Aldrick Robinson, Tom Nelson, Buck Allen, and Terrence Magee also fielded kicks prior to the game.

The referee for Saturday’s game is Terry McAulay.

The Ravens are wearing purple jerseys with white pants while Washington dons its white tops with gold pants.

Baltimore is 47-30 in all-time preseason play and 20-10 under Harbaugh. The Ravens and the Redskins are meeting in the preseason for the ninth time with Baltimore holding a 6-2 record.

Teams are not required to release a list of inactive for preseason games, but below is an unofficial list of Ravens players on the 90-man roster who were suited up to play on Saturday night:

WR Michael Campanaro
WR Breshad Perriman
CB Lardarius Webb
G Kelechi Osemele
OT Eugene Monroe
TE Maxx Williams
LB Steven Means
CB Tramain Jacobs
RB Lorenzo Taliaferro
OT Darryl Baldwin
OT De’Ondre Wesley
TE Dennis Pitta
TE Allen Reisner
S Matt Elam
DE Brent Urban

Comments Off on Ravens-Redskins: Inactives and pre-game notes

aiken

Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Ravens receivers continue shuffling in and out of practice

Posted on 17 August 2015 by Luke Jones

OWINGS MILLS, Md. — Health at the receiver position continues to be one of the Ravens’ biggest concerns of the summer with players shuffling in and out of workouts.

Monday brought the return of Kamar Aiken (foot) and Marlon Brown (back) to the practice field while second-year wideout Michael Campanaro (undisclosed) joined rookie Breshad Perriman as an absentee. Of course, the most pressing issue has been with Baltimore’s first-round pick, who hasn’t practiced since sustaining a knee injury on July 30.

Head coach John Harbaugh said over the weekend that he still expects Perriman to return during the preseason, but he has missed extensive practice time, making you wonder how prepared he’ll be to play a meaningful role by Week 1. Projected to be the team’s No. 3 or No. 4 receiver, Brown has also missed extensive practice time during training camp and only worked on a limited basis on Monday.

Those absences have led to more prominent looks for Campanaro, Jeremy Butler, and Darren Waller, but the Ravens know Perriman is the only wideout on the roster likely to be a high-ceiling threat in the vertical passing game.

“We’re disappointed for him, No. 1, that he can’t be out there to work,” said offensive coordinator Marc Trestman about Perriman’s extended absence. “There’s nothing we can do [about] it. We have to turn it into a positive, and the guys do so by understanding they have a great opportunity here to have another rep, another opportunity. We’ve got to continue to work to develop the guys we’re with, and that’s the positive side of it.

“That’s all we can control in this moment. We can’t control Breshad being out there. We’ll just go from there, and we’re very, very hopeful that he’ll be with us soon.”

Monday also brought the return of defensive lineman DeAngelo Tyson, who primarily worked on an individual basis after missing a week with what Harbaugh described only as a strain.

In addition to Perriman and Campanaro, the Ravens were missing several other key players on Monday including left guard Kelechi Osemele (foot), cornerbacks Lardarius Webb (hamstring) and Asa Jackson (knee), linebacker Steven Means (knee), and reserve offensive linemen John Urschel (concussion), Robert Myers (concussion), and Jah Reid (undisclosed). Jackson injured his knee in the preseason opener after he was given the first opportunity to return punts and kickoffs against New Orleans.

Special teams coordinator Jerry Rosburg was pleased with the performance of both Jackson and Campanaro returning punts as the former returned two for 17 yards and the latter registered a 10-yard return. However, both players have dealt with injuries too often in their young careers.

“It’s a long way to go; we have a lot of practice [to go],” Rosburg said. “We get good opportunities again this week against Philadelphia in practice. Then, hopefully, we’ll make them punt a lot and get some more opportunities in the game. We can’t control the injuries; they are what they are. Hopefully, we get them back soon.”

Several players dealt with heat-related challenges throughout Monday’s practice as rookie wide receiver Darren Waller and tight end Maxx Williams both left the field early and did not return. Wideout Jeremy Butler left the field during practice but later returned.

Comments (1)

smithflacco

Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

Ravens relish Smith’s final season with unproven receivers behind him

Posted on 10 August 2015 by Luke Jones

OWINGS MILLS, Md. — The Ravens will gladly reap the benefits of Steve Smith’s final NFL season while knowing the clock is officially ticking for the young group of receivers behind him to grow up.

The five-time Pro Bowl selection’s announcement came as no surprise to the organization after he had contemplated his future following the divisional playoff loss to New England in January. The news may not have any real bearing on the Ravens’ chances for 2015, but it does create a greater sense of urgency for the likes of first-round rookie Breshad Perriman, Kamar Aiken, and Marlon Brown to take significant steps forward by the end of the season.

With Smith being one of just 12 players in NFL history to record 900 catches, 13,000 receiving yards, and 70 touchdown receptions, the group couldn’t have a better example from which to learn.

“If they’re paying attention – it has to rub off, right?” head coach John Harbaugh said. “I’d like to think — especially in that receiver room, but really on our whole team — watch Steve really closely and they watch his competitiveness. The guy has been in this league for so many years at such a high level; he’s doing a lot of things right. How can you not try to learn from him?”

From the moment he arrived in Owings Mills last spring, Smith lived up to the reputation he earned as a fiery competitor with the Carolina Panthers for 13 years. Whether reining in passes from Joe Flacco, mentoring young wideouts, or challenging Baltimore cornerbacks during practices, the 36-year-old instantly made the Ravens a better team and is doing so again this summer, regularly looking like one of the best players on the field despite having nothing to prove after the eighth 1,000-yard receiving season of his career in 2014.

While Baltimore’s young receivers will try to act as sponges absorbing Smith’s lessons as he prepares to walk away from a career that will earn him Hall of Fame consideration, the veteran doesn’t plan to do anything differently in his 15th and final season.

“No sense of urgency. Anything I do, it’s not anything underlining,” Smith said. “I still teach those guys, still talk to them, [and] we still have fun.”

As if the pressure wasn’t great enough on the rookie Perriman to establish himself as a vertical threat in the passing game to replace ex-Raven Torrey Smith, Baltimore will now hope he’s ready to step into a No. 1 kind of role by season’s end knowing that Steve Smith won’t be around as a safety net in 2016. For now, Baltimore will settle for Perriman simply getting back on the practice field as he’s been nursing a knee injury since July 30.

Smith’s announcement doesn’t carry the same magnitude as future Hall of Fame linebacker Ray Lewis revealing his intentions to retire just before the start of the 2012 postseason, but the Ravens hope to provide him a similar ending with a Super Bowl championship as a retirement gift.

“We want to go out and let him go out the right way,” said outside linebacker Courtney Upshaw, who was a rookie in Lewis’ final season. “The way he’s so hyped, why wouldn’t you want to play hard for that guy? We want to come together. Let him go out the right way.”

Flacco falters

Monday was Flacco’s worst practice of the summer as he tossed an interception to top cornerback Jimmy Smith during a 7-on-7 drill and was picked off by safety Anthony Levine during a full-team period of practice.

Levine was filling in for starting free safety Kendrick Lewis, who sat out Monday’s practice with a leg issue. The hybrid defensive back broke sharply on a pass over the middle intended for tight end Crockett Gillmore.

Flacco appeared out of sync with many of his throws on Monday while backup Matt Schaub had one of his better practices, a sharp contrast from what we’ve seen through much of the first two weeks of camp.

The eighth-year quarterback did redeem himself with a long strike to rookie Darren Waller, who blew past veteran cornerback Lardarius Webb in coverage during an 11-on-11 period of practice.

Return roulette

Special teams coordinator Jerry Rosburg has said he hopes to see as many return opportunities as possible in the preseason as the Ravens seek kickoff and punt returners to fill the void left behind by Jacoby Jones, who was released in the offseason.

In the Ravens’ first depth chart released last week, Michael Campanaro was listed as the No. 1 punt returner and Asa Jackson as the starting kick returner, but both positions remain wide open.

Campanaro, Jackson, Smith, Webb, rookie free agent DeAndre Carter, and wide receivers Aldrick Robinson and Tom Nelson all took reps returning punts on Monday. Several of those players as well as rookie running back Buck Allen were also fielding kickoffs.

Rosburg has said the preseason games will hold the most weight in determining who will return kicks for the Ravens this season.

Comments Off on Ravens relish Smith’s final season with unproven receivers behind him

crockett

Tags: , , , , , , ,

Ravens release first depth chart ahead of preseason opener

Posted on 06 August 2015 by Luke Jones

With their preseason opener less than a week away, the Ravens have released their first depth chart of the summer with few surprises.

The depth chart reflects current long-term injuries, explaining why the likes of Matt Elam, Dennis Pitta, and Terrence Brooks are listed at the end of their position groups.

Despite using their first two picks of the 2015 draft on speedy receiver Breshad Perriman in the first round and tight end Maxx Williams in the second, the Ravens have listed the rookies behind Kamar Aiken and Crockett Gillmore at their respective positions. This comes as no real surprise based on the allocation of practice reps through the first week of training camp as well as the knee injury that’s sidelined Perriman since the first full-squad practice.

Gillmore is noticeably ahead of Williams at this stage of the summer while Perriman continues to miss valuable practice time to close the gap with Aiken, who has had a good start to camp.

Second-year running back Lorenzo Taliaferro is also listed ahead of rookie Buck Allen as the primary backup to Justin Forsett, but both have impressed at various times as they’ve competed in the spring and summer.

There were no real surprises on the defensive depth chart, but Rashaan Melvin being listed ahead of Asa Jackson at cornerback speaks to the latter falling out of grace defensively after he started six games last year in place of injured starters Lardarius Webb and Jimmy Smith.

Veteran defensive lineman DeAngelo Tyson being listed behind Carl Davis and Kapron Lewis-Moore is noteworthy, but Tyson saw his playing time dwindle in the second half of 2014.

As for special teams, Jackson is listed as the starting kick returner while wide receiver Michael Campanaro was designated the starting punt returner, but those positions remain very fluid as a number of players — including Webb and 36-year-old receiver Steve Smith — have worked out as returners. Special teams coordinator Jerry Rosburg has said several times that performance in the preseason games will hold the most weight in determining who wins those jobs.

It’s important not to read too much into the weekly depth chart, especially once moving past the first and second string. The depth chart is composed by the Ravens’ public relations staff, but it is based on practice and game reps, giving fans and media a worthwhile guideline.

Comments Off on Ravens release first depth chart ahead of preseason opener