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Oher probable; A. Jones, Pierce questionable against Browns on Sunday

Posted on 13 September 2013 by Luke Jones

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OWINGS MILLS, Md. — Any concern over the status of Ravens right tackle Michael Oher for Sunday’s game against the Cleveland Browns was eliminated earlier in the week as the lineman was listed as probable on the final injury report of the week.

Oher practiced fully all week after suffering a sprained right ankle in the second quarter of the season-opening loss at Denver on Sept. 5. The 2009 first-round pick credited the extra days of rest following the Thursday game as a major reason why he was able to return to the practice field so quickly.

“I’m feeling really good. Hopefully, I’m feeling good Sunday as well,” Oher said after practicing on Friday. “The motivation is we want to win games. We want to win this week and continue to get better as well.”

Defensive tackle Arthur Jones (illness) and running back Bernard Pierce (thigh) were both designated as questionable for Sunday’s game after practicing on a limited basis all week. The biggest concern with Jones is his conditioning after missing over two weeks of action with an irregular heartbeat.

Both coach John Harbaugh and Jones provided cautious optimism for the fourth-year lineman’s availability on Sunday. Jones began experiencing an irregular heartbeat following the team’s third preseason game on Aug. 22 and was inactive for the season opener.

“I would say he didn’t get too out of shape,” Harbaugh said. “He’s progressing well. He looked OK at practice, but that’s something that we’ll have to see how he is feeling on Sunday. He’s got a chance [to play].”

Wide receiver Deonte Thompson (foot), defensive tackle Brandon Williams (toe), and offensive lineman Ryan Jensen (foot) were all listed as doubtful and aren’t expected to play. Wide receiver Jacoby Jones (knee) was ruled out earlier in the week after suffering a right MCL injury against Denver in Week 1.

For Cleveland, first-round linebacker Barkevious Mingo (bruised lung) was designated as probable to play after practicing all week.

BALTIMORE
OUT: WR Jacoby Jones
DOUBTFUL: C Ryan Jensen (foot), WR Deonte Thompson (foot), DT Brandon Williams (toe)
QUESTIONABLE: DT Art Jones (illness – NFI), RB Bernard Pierce (thigh)
PROBABLE: T Michael Oher (ankle)

CLEVELAND
OUT: G Shawn Lauvao (ankle)
DOUBTFUL: DL Ahtyba Rubin (calf)
QUESTIONABLE: WR Travis Benjamin (thigh), DB T.J. Ward (shoulder)
PROBABLE: LB Barkevious Mingo (lung), DB Buster Skrine (shoulder)

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No changes to Ravens’ injury report for Thursday

Posted on 12 September 2013 by Luke Jones

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OWINGS MILLS, Md. — There were no changes to the Ravens’ official injury report for Thursday as right tackle Michael Oher continues to look like a good bet to play against the Cleveland Browns in the home opener.

The fifth-year lineman was a full participant for the second straight day as he continues to receive treatment for the sprained right ankle sustained in the season-opening loss to Denver. He appeared to be moving well as he took his normal spot with the offensive line in the portion of practice open to the media.

“[He’s an] unusual guy – extremely tough, extremely dedicated and disciplined,” offensive coordinator Jim Caldwell said. “He has a very, very high tolerance for pain. He’s been able to get back out. He’s obviously committed to this team, and he’s working at it extremely hard.”

Defensive tackle Arthur Jones was a limited participant once again after being cleared to begin practicing earlier in the week. The lineman told reporters he had been dealing with an irregular heartbeat since the third preseason game on Aug. 22.

The biggest question facing Jones in terms of his status for Week 2 will be his conditioning after missing a few weeks of practice and not being cleared to do much of anything while doctors ran a battery of tests on his heart.

Running back Bernard Pierce was listed as limited for the second straight day with what was listed as a thigh injury.

Wide receivers Jacoby Jones (knee) and Deonte Thompson (foot), offensive lineman Ryan Jensen (foot), and defensive tackle Brandon Williams (toe) did not practice on Thursday as Jones has already been ruled out and the other three are not expected to play against Cleveland.

For the Browns, first-round linebacker Barkevious Mingo (bruised lung) was upgraded to being a full participant after making his return to the practice field on a limited basis Wednesday. Starting cornerback Buster Skrine (shoulder) was also a full participant after being limited a day earlier.

Here is Thursday’s injury report:

BALTIMORE
OUT: WR Jacoby Jones (knee)
DID NOT PARTICIPATE: C Ryan Jensen (foot), WR Deonte Thompson (foot), DT Brandon Williams (toe)
LIMITED PARTICIPATION: DT Art Jones (illness – NFI), RB Bernard Pierce (thigh)
FULL PARTICIPATION: T Michael Oher (ankle)

CLEVELAND
DID NOT PARTICIPATE: G Shawn Lauvao (ankle), DL Ahtyba Rubin (calf)
LIMITED PARTICIPATION: WR Travis Benjamin (thigh), DB T.J. Ward (shoulder)
FULL PARTICIPATION: DB Buster Skrine (shoulder), LB Barkevious Mingo (lung)

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Ravens offense looking for instant improvement in friendly surroundings

Posted on 11 September 2013 by Luke Jones

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OWINGS MILLS, Md. — Every meeting with the Cleveland Browns draws the predictable kind words from the Ravens despite the fact that Baltimore hasn’t lost to the AFC North foe in their last 10 meetings.

The final outcomes haven’t always been convincing or overly impressive, but the Ravens have beaten Cleveland every time they’ve played since coach John Harbaugh and quarterback Joe Flacco arrived on the scene in 2008. The words of flattery aren’t exactly convincing when considering the opposite ends of the spectrum on which these teams have stood over the last five seasons.

“It’s a challenge. It always is in the division,” Harbaugh said. “We are very impressed with what we see on tape, and it’s a very important week for us.”

The Browns may not pose an overwhelming threat after a 23-10 home loss to the Miami Dolphins in Week 1, but the final part of Harbaugh’s statement rings true for the Ravens after a humbling 49-27 loss of their own in Denver. It was the first season-opening defeat of the Harbaugh era and a painful reminder that the euphoria of last year’s Super Bowl title is long gone.

Running back Ray Rice called it a reality check as the Ravens now shift their attention to the home opener and an opportunity to improve their record to 1-1. Much attention has been paid to the Baltimore defense allowing a franchise-record 49 points, but the Ravens offense has been under the microscope since the start of the offseason. The decision to send wide receiver Anquan Boldin to San Francisco in a move that provided $6 million of salary cap space created concern in the passing game that transformed into a full-blown crisis with the long-term hip injury suffered by tight end Dennis Pitta at the start of training camp.

There are still no clear answers to quell those concerns as the Ravens failed to significantly address the wide receiver position after Boldin’s departure, erroneously depending on a young group of holdover receivers that wasn’t up to the task.

Graybeards Brandon Stokley and Dallas Clark and rookie free agent Marlon Brown have emerged — out of attrition and because of the latter’s impressive skill set — as critical pieces in the passing game. And the Week 1 injury to speedy receiver Jacoby Jones puts a dent in the vertical passing game, the one area of the field in which the Ravens could really feel confident in throwing the football.

To make matters worse, the Ravens couldn’t run the football as they averaged just 2.8 yards per carry and were limited to just five carries in the second half after falling behind big in a disastrous third quarter. Many have pondered whether that running game will need to be leaned upon more heavily this season despite having a franchise quarterback to throw the football.

The pressure on the offense to show instant improvement falls on the shoulders of Flacco, who attempted a career-high 62 passes for 362 yards but was picked off twice against a Denver defense lacking Pro Bowl linebacker Von Miller and future Hall of Fame cornerback Champ Bailey. Without Boldin or Pitta on which to depend, life suddenly isn’t as easy for the franchise quarterback.

“That’s the name of the game when you’re a quarterback in this league,” said Flacco, who acknowledged that working with so much new personnel has caused the little things such as timing to take more time to perfect. “You want your organization to be able to [make changes], and you have to prove that you can adapt to whatever is necessary to win football games, and that’s what we’re trying to do.”

The challenge this week will be a talented Cleveland front seven that will only get stronger with the return of first-round linebacker Barkevious Mingo from a bruised lung. He, former Raven Paul Kruger, and Jabaal Sheard form an imposing pass rush on paper, but the Ravens will the expected return of right tackle Michael Oher, who missed the entire second half against Denver with a right ankle injury.

Browns cornerback Joe Haden will draw the assignment of covering No.1 receiver Torrey Smith, who dealt with bracketed coverage against Denver after Jones’ exit with a knee injury. Jones’ absence means Stokley and Brown will need to keep the rest of the secondary honest enough to give the speedy Smith some opportunities in one-on-one matchups against Haden.

Flacco certainly needs more help from Clark, who dropped a sure touchdown pass right before halftime in Week 1 and struggled to gain separation, and fellow tight end Ed Dickson, who couldn’t rein in a number of catchable passes. The quarterback took the high road when asked to address the high number of drops on Wednesday, but the sense of urgency is there to limit unforced errors with the overall talent level of the wide receivers and tight ends coming into question.

“If that’s all we have to worry about is a couple of guys that have very sure hands not coming up with a couple really tough catches, then I think we’re going to be OK,” Flacco said. “Over the long run, we’re going to make a lot of those catches, and it’s going to lend itself to a lot of good things.”

The Ravens hope those good things begin coming to fruition quickly against the Browns, who aren’t nearly the opponent that Denver was but have played them closer than expected at M&T Bank Stadium in each of the last three seasons. Baltimore needs its $120.6 million man to be on his game to elevate the play of a pedestrian group of pass catchers as much as he can — he can’t catch it, too, of course.

Flacco’s 99.0 quarterback rating at home last season only continued his career-long trend of thriving against defenses on his home turf, and it’s the kind of precision the Ravens will need this year to make the offense click. The Ravens have made it a point this week to emphasize that the running game must improve — it’s the truth with two talented running backs at their disposal — but the offense will only go as far as Flacco can take them.

His 92.5 quarterback rating in 10 career games against the Browns and the first contest of the year in Baltimore are the perfect combination for a bounce-back performance. A win is never a guarantee, but the setting doesn’t get much better than this, especially with the backdrop of 71,000 fans stoked to see a Super Bowl championship banner unveiled.

The bad taste from the second-half debacle in Denver will have lingered for 10 days by the time kickoff arrives on Sunday afternoon.

“We’re not going to overreact, but we are going to react and respond where we need to,” Harbaugh said. “The first game is always a good barometer. The old saying is true: It’s never as good or it’s never as bad as what you initially feel.”

And the Ravens hope they’ll be feeling much better about themselves on both sides of the ball by 4:15 p.m. on Sunday.

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Oher practices fully, J. Jones already ruled out for Sunday’s game

Posted on 11 September 2013 by Luke Jones

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OWINGS MILLS, Md. — Just a couple hours after proclaiming the ankle injury he suffered in the season opener to be one of the worst of his career, Ravens right tackle Michael Oher returned to the practice field on Wednesday.

The fifth-year lineman was listed as a full participant on Wednesday’s injury report, confirming reports that indicated the sprained ankle he suffered when right guard Marshal Yanda rolled into his leg was not considered serious. Oher has never missed a game in his NFL career and Wednesday’s development was a strong indication of that streak continuing on Sunday against the Cleveland Browns.

“It’s definitely hurting me pretty good, pretty bad, so I’m just getting a lot of treatment and trying to stay on top of it,” Oher said prior to practicing. “Hopefully, I can go Sunday. I work hard to be out there every Sunday for the team, but this is one of the worst sprains I’ve had.”

Newly-signed kick returner and No. 3 running back Shaun Draughn was on the practice field just hours after being signed by the Ravens to sure up the void they have at the kick return spot after the MCL injury sustained by wide receiver Jacoby Jones last week. Backup running back Bernard Pierce will remain in the mix on kickoffs, but the Ravens would prefer not exposing him to the regular wear and tear of the return game if possible.

As expected, defensive tackle Arthur Jones also returned to the practice field on a limited basis after missing nearly three weeks due to a viral infection. Coach John Harbaugh indicated earlier in the week that the Ravens will need to see where Jones is from a conditioning standpoint to determine whether he will return to game action in Week 2.

Wide receivers Jacoby Jones and Deonte Thompson (foot), offensive lineman Ryan Jensen (foot), and defensive tackle Brandon Williams were not practicing on Wednesday. The Pro Bowl return specialist Jones has already been ruled out for Sunday as he’s projected to miss at least a month, and it remains unlikely that the other three will be ready to play against Cleveland this Sunday.

Also absent from the field on Wednesday was rookie wide receiver Aaron Mellette, which was an interesting development after he was inactive for the season opener against Denver. The Ravens later placed Mellette on injured reserve with what was listed as a knee injury, clearing a roster spot for Draughn.

For the Cleveland Browns, rookie linebacker Barkevious Mingo (lung) returned the the practice field and has been cleared for contact, meaning he could make his NFL debut in Baltimore on Sunday.

Here’s the official injury report for Wednesday:

BALTIMORE
OUT: WR Jacoby Jones (knee)
DID NOT PARTICIPATE: C Ryan Jensen (foot), WR Deonte Thompson (foot), DT Brandon Williams (toe)
LIMITED PARTICIPATION: DT Art Jones (illness – NFI), RB Bernard Pierce (thigh)
FULL PARTICIPATION: T Michael Oher (ankle)

CLEVELAND
DID NOT PARTICIPATE: G Shawn Lauvao (ankle), DL Ahtyba Rubin (calf), DB T.J. Ward (shoulder)
LIMITED PARTICIPATION: DB Buster Skrine (shoulder), LB Barkevious Mingo (lung), WR Travis Benjamin (thigh)

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Harbaugh unclear on status of Oher, J. Jones in short term

Posted on 09 September 2013 by Luke Jones

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OWINGS MILLS, Md. — Ravens coach John Harbaugh met with the media for the first time since his post-game comments in a 49-27 loss to the Denver Broncos and painted a foggy picture for the two biggest injuries suffered in the Thursday defeat.

Asked to address the MCL sprain suffered by wide receiver Jacoby Jones that will reportedly keep him sidelined for four to six weeks, Harbaugh did not specify when asked if the Ravens would be looking to get the return specialist back at some point in the month of October. Jones was injured when rookie safety Brynden Trawick accidentally collided with him on a punt return in the second quarter.

“We’ll see how that goes with Jacoby,” Harbaugh said. “He’s got a sprain. I wouldn’t call it a serious type of thing, but we’ll just have to see how it goes. I would say day to day, week to week. We’ll see how fast he can come back.”

Weekend reports indicated right tackle Michael Oher’s prognosis for his right ankle sprain was more favorable than Jones’ injury, but Harbaugh wouldn’t bite on a timetable for Oher being ready to return to action, which leaves his status for Sunday’s meeting with the Cleveland Browns undetermined for now.

The Ravens were forced to use rookie Rick Wagner at right tackle in Oher’s absence against the Broncos, but they could elect to move left guard Kelechi Osemele back to tackle should Oher be sidelined for a game or two. In that scenario, Baltimore would likely insert third-year lineman Jah Reid at left guard.

“The prognosis is the same for Michael Oher [as Jones],” Harbaugh said. “Day to day, week to week.”

Harbaugh confirmed the encouraging news over the weekend of defensive tackle Arthur Jones being cleared to resume football activities following a personal health issue. Jones hasn’t practiced since playing in the team’s third preseason game on Aug. 22.

It remains to be seen how much the reported viral infection impacted his conditioning and readiness to get back on the field.

“It seems to have cleared up,” Harbaugh said. “He should be good and we’ll just have to see how ready he is to play this week. That will be the issue football-wise. We’ll just see how ready he is to play.”

The Ravens are hoping they are moving closer to the returns of both wide receiver Deonte Thompson (foot) and offensive lineman Ryan Jensen. Harbaugh said each player could be back on the practice field soon and are not candidates to land on injured reserve.

Jensen was a sixth-round choice in April’s draft and suffered a broken foot in the first week of training camp, leading fans and media to assume he was a likely candidate for season-ending IR in his first NFL season after missing so much practice time in the summer.

“We feel like he’s going to be a player for us sooner rather than later,” Harbaugh said. “That’s why we held on to him on the [53-man roster]. We’ve got high hopes for him this year. He’s getting closer to being back.”

Harbaugh said Jensen has the ability to provide depth at both center and guard.

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Report: Oher not expected to miss significant time with ankle injury

Posted on 08 September 2013 by WNST Staff

CBS Sports’ Jason LaCanfora reported Saturday night that Baltimore Ravens OT Michael Oher is not expected to miss significant time because of the ankle injury that forced him to leave Thursday night’s loss to the Denver Broncos.

Oher was injured Thursday when guard Marshal Yanda rolled into his ankle. The team’s former first round pick was unable to return to the game but the CBS report says he is not expected to be out long-term. The Ravens’ next game is Sunday, September 15 against the Cleveland Browns.

After Oher left Thursday night’s game, the Ravens turned to rookie Rick Wagner at right tackle. The 5th round pick out of Wisconsin struggled the rest of the way as the Broncos were able to garner an effective pass rush against Ravens QB Joe Flacco. The Ravens had only seven offensive lineman active for the Week 1 defeat, as G/T Jah Reid was scratched before the game.

The CBS report did not say whether or not it was believed that Oher would be ready in time for the Week 2 game against Cleveland. If he is not, the Ravens could turn back to Wagner or could use Reid at LG and move second year lineman Kelechi Osemele to right tackle.

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Ravens WR J. Jones reportedly to miss 4-6 weeks, DT A. Jones cleared for activity

Posted on 07 September 2013 by Luke Jones

What was already a disappointing 49-27 season-opening loss to the Denver Broncos has proven even more costly for the Ravens as wide receiver Jacoby Jones is likely be sidelined for the next four to six weeks.

According to Pro Football Talk, Jones suffered a sprained medial collateral ligament in his right knee when rookie safety Brynden Trawick accidentally collided with the return specialist as he tried to field a punt in the second quarter. Jones limped off the field before being taken to the locker room for further examination where he was ruled out for the remainder of the game.

The injury leaves the Ravens short-handed at wide receiver and in the return game as Jones was expected to play a major part in both areas. Jones caught three passes for 24 yards in the first half and was replaced by cornerback Lardarius Webb on punt returns and running back Bernard Pierce on kickoff returns.

At the end of the preseason, the Ravens waived running back Bobby Rainey, who appeared to be the team’s second-most impressive returner behind Jones. Baltimore had hoped to sign Rainey to its practice squad, but the Cleveland Browns claimed him on waivers. The Ravens also parted ways with wide receivers David Reed and Tandon Doss, who offered some abililty as return options as well.

Jones’ injury will likely create an expanded role for rookie wide receiver Marlon Brown, who was one of the few bright spots offensively against the Broncos. An undrafted free agent from the University of Georgia, Brown caught four passes for 65 yards and a touchdown.

The absence of Jones will put a strain on the Ravens’ vertical passing game as defenses normally must respect him and Torrey Smith as deep threats. Jones’ exit from Thursday’s game allowed the Denver defense to bracket coverage on Smith and shade a safety toward him to help take away the big play.

The Ravens could also look to the free-agent market for potential help in both areas. Veteran wide receiver Brandon Lloyd is still available and with Week 1 now behind the Ravens, they may sign a vested veteran without being required to guarantee his contract for the entire season.

Right tackle Michael Oher also left Thursday’s game after spraining his right ankle in the second quarter, but that injury is not believed to be as serious at this time.

In other health-related news, defensive tackle Arthur Jones wrote on his official Twitter account that he received “amazing news” related to his undisclosed illness. According to The Sun, Jones had been dealing with a viral infection but was cleared for activity with no concerns moving forward.

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Ravens lose J. Jones, Oher to injuries in first half

Posted on 06 September 2013 by Luke Jones

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The Ravens suffered significant losses to both their offense and special teams units in their embarrassing season-opening loss to the Broncos.

Return specialist and wide receiver Jacoby Jones suffered a knee injury in the second quarter while right tackle Michael Oher hurt his right ankle later in the quarter. Neither player returned to the game as the Ravens fell 49-27 to lose their first season opener in the John Harbaugh era.

Jones was injured trying to field a punt when rookie safety Brynden Trawick inexplicably ran into him in the midst of a full sprint. After limping off the field, he was taken to the locker room for further examination and was wearing street clothes on the sideline during the second half. Jones told reporters after the game that he will undergo a magnetic resonance imaging on Friday.

Oher hurt his right ankle when right guard Marshal Yanda rolled into his leg, forcing rookie fifth-round pick Rick Wagner to enter the game at right tackle. The Ravens only went with two active reserve linemen — reserve center A.Q. Shipley and Wagner — as Jah Reid and rookie Ryan Jensen were among the inactives.

 

 

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Interesting post-draft roster decisions with early look at 2013 Ravens depth chart

Posted on 29 April 2013 by Luke Jones

With the 2013 NFL Draft in the rear-view mirror, general manager Ozzie Newsome and the Ravens can now begin looking at the offseason roster with a clearer picture of what they’ll have when they travel to Denver for the Sept. 5 season opener.

Of course, there will be a few more additions or subtractions of some consequence between now and the start of training camp in late July, but any drastic changes are unlikely with the Ravens holding just under $4 million in salary cap space.

The Ravens will likely use some of that remaining cap room to address offensive tackle after only coming away with Wisconsin tackle Ricky Wagner in the fifth round of the draft. The Badgers left tackle will likely be moved inside to guard as it’s not believed that his feet are quick enough to handle the position at the next level, meaning Kelechi Osemele is still in line to be the team’s starting left tackle if the season were to begin now.

The obvious veteran still on the free-agent market is left tackle Bryant McKinnie, who has remained in touch with the Ravens this offseason but visited with the Miami Dolphins on Sunday. The 33-year-old McKinnie told WNST.net in a text message that the only post-draft contact he’s had from the Ravens came with run-game coordinator Juan Castillo and right tackle Michael Oher.

A CBSSports.com report said McKinnie is also scheduled to visit with the San Diego Chargers, but the 11-year veteran provided his own update on the visit with the Dolphins on Monday afternoon.

“Just finished a good day of meetings & workouts!” McKinnie wrote on his official Twitter account. “This was the gear of choice 4 2day! Nothing final…”

Even if McKinnie signs elsewhere and Osemele ultimately receives the nod to protect quarterback Joe Flacco’s blindside, you’d expect the Ravens to at least add another veteran tackle since Jah Reid and Ramon Harewood would then factor heavily into the competition for the starting left guard spot. With no other additions, Oher would clearly be the replacement for Osemele in the event of an injury, but that would open a huge hole on the right side of the line.

Fullback is another interesting position to watch after the Ravens drafted Harvard fullback Kyle Juszczyk with their second fourth-round pick on Saturday. All things being equal, you wouldn’t expect the rookie to supplant three-time Pro Bowl fullback Vonta Leach, but the veteran’s hefty cap figure puts him at the top of the list of potential cuts should an opportunity to add a pricier veteran arise between now and the start of the season.

Newsome was asked following the conclusion of the draft what Jusczcyk’s selection meant for Leach’s future, but the Ravens executive didn’t exactly provide a guarantee that Leach would be opening running lanes for Ray Rice and Bernard Pierce in 2013. Baltimore won’t cut Leach for the sake of simply saving $3 million in cap space, but if they need more cap space to address another need such tackle or wide receiver, the Ravens won’t hesitate to give Jusczcyk the starting job.

“We want to make decisions based on how guys perform out on the football field,” Newsome said. “We’re going to get Kyle in here, and the thing we like about Kyle other than his ability to play on the offensive side is we expect him to be a very good special-teams contributor. Could there be a place for both of them? Yes, there could be, because as John and I try to put our 53-man squad together, we want to keep the best 53 players.”

Troubled inside linebacker Rolando McClain remains with the Ravens as of Monday afternoon, but you have to wonder how much shorter his leash became after the selection of Kansas State linebacker Arthur Brown. Considering the Ravens traded up in the second round to select Brown in fear of another team taking him before their scheduled pick at 62nd overall, you’d expect that coach John Harbaugh envisions him to be a starter from Day 1.

To this point, the Ravens have said all the polite things about McClain’s latest arrest on April 21 and his right to due process, but the need to keep an average player with such baggage diminished greatly after adding one of the top inside linebackers in this year’s draft class. You have to wonder if McClain will even make it to training camp at this point, or whether he’ll be able to keep himself out of trouble between now and then.

“He is one of the 90,” Newsome said on the final day of the draft. “We’re going to make the determination, starting Sunday, who we think is going to be on our top 53. We’ll start making those decisions. It’s going to be some tough decisions, but as of right now, Rolando is still a part of our football team.”

Below is an all-too-early look at the 2013 depth chart, which doesn’t include undrafted rookie free agents until the full list is officially announced by the Ravens. High draft picks such as Matt Elam and Brown are viewed more favorably than lower-round selections like Ryan Jensen and Aaron Mellette in terms of where they rank on the current depth chart. In many cases, roster holdovers from previous seasons have been given the nod over rookies with the full understanding that some — if not many — will be supplanted.

Teams are allowed to have a maximum of 90 players on their offseason roster.

Projected post-draft 2013 depth chart

Offense
QB: Joe Flacco, Tyrod Taylor, Caleb Hanie
RB: Ray Rice, Bernard Pierce, Anthony Allen, Bobby Rainey, Damien Berry, Lonyae Miller
FB: Vonta Leach, Kyle Juszczyk
WR: Torrey Smith, David Reed, LaQuan Williams, Aaron Mellette
WR: Jacoby Jones, Tandon Doss, Deonte Thompson, Tommy Streeter, Tori Gurley
TE: Dennis Pitta, Ed Dickson, Alex Silvestro
LT: Kelechi Osemele
LG: Jah Reid, Ramon Harewood, Antoine McClain
C: Gino Gradkowski, Ryan Jensen, Reggie Stephens
RG: Marshal Yanda, Ricky Wagner, Jack Cornell
RT: Michael Oher, David Mims

Defense
DE: Chris Canty, Pernell McPhee, DeAngelo Tyson, Kapron Lewis-Moore
NT: Haloti Ngata, Terrence Cody, Brandon Williams
DT: Arthur Jones, Marcus Spears, Swanson Miller
Rush: Terrell Suggs, John Simon, Michael McAdoo
Will: Arthur Brown, Rolando McClain, Albert McClellan, D.J. Bryant
Mike: Jameel McClain, Josh Bynes, Bryan Hall, Nigel Carr
Sam: Elvis Dumervil, Courtney Upshaw, Adrian Hamilton, Spencer Adkins
LCB: Lardarius Webb, Chykie Brown, Chris Johnson, Marc Anthony
SS: Matt Elam, James Ihedigbo, Christian Thompson
FS: Michael Huff, Emanuel Cook, Omar Brown, Anthony Levine
RCB: Corey Graham, Jimmy Smith, Asa Jackson

Special Teams
K: Justin Tucker
P: Sam Koch
LS: Morgan Cox
KR: Jacoby Jones, David Reed, Deonte Thompson
PR: Jacoby Jones, Tandon Doss, Lardarius Webb

 

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Ravens conclude draft with two major concerns remaining

Posted on 27 April 2013 by Luke Jones

OWINGS MILLS, Md. — The Ravens appeared to accomplish a great deal by the conclusion of the 2013 NFL Draft.

Frankly, to evaluate a draft as good or bad immediately after it takes place is a pointless endeavor, but you can look at a team’s list of needs entering the annual event to determine how successful an organization was in addressing those positions. Whether those picks ultimately work out or not won’t be known for a few years in many cases.

General manager Ozzie Newsome did what he set out to do after stating just a few days after the Super Bowl that the Ravens needed to get stronger up the middle defensively. With their first three picks of the draft, the Ravens selected Florida safety Matt Elam, Kansas State inside linebacker Arthur Brown, and Missouri Southern State defensive tackle Brandon Williams to add to the middle of defensive coordinator Dean Pees’ unit.

Baltimore added more depth to its front seven with the selections of defensive ends John Simon (Ohio State) and Kapron Lewis-Moore (Notre Dame), though the latter is currently recovering from a torn ACL sustained in the BCS national title game. The Ravens added interior offensive line depth with the additions of Wisconsin’s Ricky Wagner and Ryan Jensen of Colorado State-Pueblo. A cornerback was drafted with California’s Marc Anthony, reinforcing Newsome’s proclamation before the draft that you can never have too many despite the Ravens already having quality depth at the positon.

The Ravens found their fullback of the future in Harvard’s Kyle Juszczyk, who may even push veteran Vonta Leach off the roster should Newsome decide the team needs an extra $3 million in cap space to address other areas. Juszczyk isn’t the same punishing blocker that Leach is, but he could serve in an H-back capacity with his impressive ability as a receiver out of the backfield.

Newsome, assistant general manager Eric DeCosta, director of college scouting Joe Hortiz, and head coach John Harbaugh deserve praise for addressing many of the needs created by a plethora of free-agent departures, difficult releases, and retirements made earlier this offseason.

But the fact that the Ravens were unable to significantly address two of their most glaring questions, left tackle and wide receiver, is one that cannot be dismissed. The fifth-round selection Wagner played left tackle for the Badgers, but he isn’t considered quick enough for the position at the next level and the Ravens have already said they view him as more of a guard. Seventh-round receiver Aaron Mellette posted big-time numbers at FCS school Elon, but to say he’s any better the other young receivers currently in the mix on the roster would be a stretch.

Protecting quarterback Joe Flacco’s blindside and providing him another trustworthy receiving target are two obligations that remain unfulfilled, which is concerning when most looked to the draft as the primary avenue to address them. As Newsome said in the Ravens’ post-draft press conference on Sunday evening, much could still change between now and the start of the season on Sept. 5.

As it relates to those two positions, many will certainly hope so.

“If you look at our history, we picked up Willie Anderson a week before our first game,” Newsome said. “We picked up Bryant McKinnie before the last preseason game. It’s so fluid. We don’t know what’s going to happen between now and then, so everything has to remain fluid.”

In fairness to the Ravens’ brass, the possibility of adding anything more than a project at left tackle was never going to be easy when picking at the end of each round as the Super Bowl champion. The top three left tackle prospects in this year’s draft were gone in the first four picks of the first round and the tier of tackles — including Florida State’s Menelik Watson and Arkansas-Pine Bluff’s Terron Armstead — that was available to the Ravens didn’t stack up as favorably as the defensive selections of Elam and Brown in the first two rounds.

The Ravens said before the draft that second-year lineman Kelechi Osemele would be their starting left tackle if the season were to begin today and it appears nothing’s changed in that regard. Of course, the absence of a new tackle prospect will reignite desires for Baltimore to re-sign the veteran McKinnie to at least serve as an insurance policy for Osemele.

The only other obvious option out there appears to be the exploration of a trade for Kansas City’s franchise player Branden Albert, who sees the writing on the wall after the Chiefs took Central Michigan left tackle Eric Fisher with the first overall pick. However, the Chiefs’ asking price for Albert won’t be cheap and the 28-year-old seeks an expensive long-term contract.

Even if new run-game coordinator and highly-respective offensive line guru Juan Castillo believes Osemele is capable of handling the left tackle spot, it’s difficult to imagine the Ravens not bringing in another tackle to at least compete. Newsome didn’t sound too concerned when asked about the potential need to add a veteran, however.

“We’ll get the chance to roll the ball out there this week,” Newsome said. “You just can’t go against each other. We’ll have somebody lined up at left tackle.”

Replacing the production of veteran Anquan Boldin was another need many viewed as a priority for the Ravens and the organization praised the depth of the position in this year’s draft. As a result, most assumed the Ravens would come away with a wideout at some point during the first two days of the draft, but a receiver’s name wasn’t called by the Ravens until Mellette was announced as the 238th overall pick of the draft.

The outcome was similar to last year when the Ravens did not choose Tommy Streeter until the sixth round. Once again, Newsome remained true to the board this year, even as several well-regarded receivers appeared to slide more than many experts thought they would on Day 3.

Of course, the Ravens were also able to sign wide receiver Jacoby Jones after last year’s draft and the speedy return specialist also served as an upgrade at the No.3 receiver spot. It’s possible a similar scenario will play out when teams around the league readjust their depth charts with a new batch of rookies joining the fold.

“Were there receivers in every round that we considered? Yes,” Newsome said. “Did one receiver get taken when we were set to take the guy? No, that did not happen at that point. As far as [Mellette], when we got to that point in the draft, he was our highest-rated guy and that’s why we decided to take him.”

The 6-foot-3, 217-pound Mellette was wildly productive in his career at Elon, catching a remarkable 210 passes and 30 touchdowns over his final two collegiate seasons. His 4.54-second 40-time suggests he may have enough speed to complement his impressive size, but to consider him to be anything more than a long-term project would be too ambitious.

The Ravens have thrown out many compliments for the likes of Tandon Doss, Deonte Thompson, and David Reed as it pertains to the slot receiver spot, but to expect any of the aforementioned names to step up in a dramatic way to replace Boldin’s production is asking to be disappointed. Maybe Mellette or Streeter can be a diamond in the rough, but there were reasons why so many teams — including the Ravens multiple times — passed on these tall and speedy receivers.

For now, the burden falls heavily on Torrey Smith and Dennis Pitta as well as Flacco to overcome the absence of the safety net Boldin provided when the vertical passing game was struggling.

As they will at the offensive tackle position, the Ravens will keep their eyes open to other teams potentially releasing veteran receivers or dangling them in trades as a result of what they fetched in this weekend’s draft. Newsome has used future draft picks to acquire veterans before and certainly wouldn’t hesitate if the right opportunity were to come along.

Perhaps another veteran receiver or left tackle drops into the Ravens’ lap between now and the start of the season, but it’s impossible not to feel uneasy about each position with the draft now coming and going.

And as good as this draft might ultimately end up being in other areas, it did very little to answer those two major questions.

 

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