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Healthy Perriman shows Ravens exactly what they wanted to see

Posted on 01 September 2016 by Luke Jones

Two catches on the first two plays of the night for Breshad Perriman were the highlight for the Ravens in their 23-14 win over New Orleans to conclude the preseason on Thursday night.

Playing in a live game for the first time in almost two years, the 22-year-old wide receiver not only showed fans that, yes, he does exist but flashed glimpses of why the organization was so excited to select him with the 26th overall pick of the 2015 draft. Most importantly, Perriman came out of the game healthy, clearing a hurdle that was as much mental as physical.

So far, so good.

“It went real well I think. I know I’ve got a lot to work on, but I have no doubt in my mind that I’m going to get it done,” Perriman said in a second-half interview on the TV broadcast. “As far as how I was feeling, I was very nervous before the game, but once I finally got to the stadium, it was like everything went away. I just went out there and had fun.”

His debut may not have been electric, but the New Orleans secondary immediately respected Perriman’s speed as he ran a simple hitch route for a nine-yard reception on the first play from scrimmage. On the next play, the 6-foot-2 receiver then ran a dig toward the middle of the field before reining in a Ryan Mallett pass thrown behind him for a 16-yard gain and a first down.

Perriman later got too far outside on a skinny post route and then dropped a short pass on a wide receiver screen late in the first half, but he showed physicality and looked fairly comfortable against press coverage. It’s important to remember that Perriman is far from a finished product as he declared for the NFL draft after his junior year and wasn’t considered a great route runner, but we could finally start to see the talent on Thursday night.

The Ravens couldn’t have asked for more considering it was less than three months ago that Perriman suffered a partially-torn anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee, an injury that was initially feared to cost him the season after a right knee injury had already sidelined him for his rookie year. He’s now on track to be ready for the season opener against Buffalo on Sept. 11.

Perriman is the kind of talent who brings intriguing upside for a team needing it to bounce back from a 5-11 season. It’s no secret that the Ravens are depending on a number of older players to fill meaningful roles, but that makes it even more important for dynamic young players to step forward in 2016 and beyond.

The healthy presence of Perriman as well as the additions of veteran Mike Wallace and rookie fourth-rounder Chris Moore give the Ravens more vertical threats than they’ve had in quite some time. That’s exactly what quarterback Joe Flacco needs to throw the deep ball and open up the short-to-intermediate portion of the field for the likes of Steve Smith, Kamar Aiken, Crockett Gillmore, and Dennis Pitta.

It’s no secret that the Ravens have lagged behind Cincinnati and Pittsburgh in the skill position department over the last few seasons, but the potential appears to be there this season to begin closing that gap. Perriman headlines that list of young players carrying intrigue.

Healthy and flashing ability in an otherwise meaningless preseason finale.

It was all the Ravens needed to see from Perriman after a painfully long wait for his debut.

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Ravens-Saints preseason primer: Five bubble players to watch

Posted on 01 September 2016 by Luke Jones

The Ravens have reached the light at the end of the preseason tunnel and conclude the summer with a trip to New Orleans on Thursday night.

Most starters — and possibly even a few key reserves — won’t play against the Saints as head coach John Harbaugh has annually shied away from using his most important players in the final preseason game, but a handful of jobs could still be on the line for those individuals on the roster bubble. After cutting their roster to 75 players earlier this week, the Ravens will make their final cuts to the 53-man limit by Saturday afternoon.

“It will be about the things that fit us and that we need,” Harbaugh said. “That’s a fine line, and in a lot of ways, it’s fine slicing for sure. We have some good choices and some tough choices, and that’s a good problem to have. That’s what we’re facing.”

While we will wait to see the 2016 debuts of veterans Steve Smith and Elvis Dumervil until the season opener on Sept. 11, wide receiver Breshad Perriman could make his preseason debut on Thursday, which would mark the first time he’s played in a game since he was in college and Central Florida played North Carolina State in the St. Petersburg Bowl on Dec. 26, 2014.

The 2015 first-round pick said Tuesday that he has been fully cleared to play, but it will be up to the coaching staff to determine whether he sees action. Harbaugh said at the beginning of the week that he would like to see Perriman get some live-game reps if the training staff allowed it.

“It’s very exciting,” said Perriman, who made it clear that he wants to play against New Orleans. “I’ve been waiting for a long time. It’s finally coming.”

Thursday marks the fourth time these teams have met in the preseason — including each of the last three years — with the Ravens holding a 3-0 edge to go with their 5-1 advantage in all-time regular-season games against the Saints. Baltimore has built a 23-12 record in preseason games under Harbaugh.

Unofficial (and largely speculative) injury report

The Ravens are not required to release an injury report like they do for regular-season games, but I’ve offered my best guess on what the injury report would look like if one were to be released ahead of Thursday night’s game against New Orleans.

Most of the players ruled to be out will come as no surprise, but the status of a few will remain in question. Of course, this list does not consider the many veteran players and starters who will likely be held out of the preseason finale due to the coaching staff’s preference.

Again, this is not an official injury report released by the Ravens:

OUT: RB Kenneth Dixon (knee), TE Dennis Pitta (finger/hip), TE Maxx Williams (undisclosed), S Matt Elam (knee)
DOUBTFUL: LB Za’Darius Smith (ankle), S Kendrick Lewis (undisclosed), G John Urschel (contusion), DT Brandon Williams (undisclosed), CB Jerraud Powers (undisclosed)
QUESTIONABLE: WR Breshad Perriman (knee), LB Elvis Dumervil (foot), WR Steve Smith (Achilles), CB Shareece Wright (undisclosed)
PROBABLE: CB Maurice Canady (hamstring), RB Buck Allen (undisclosed), CB Lardarius Webb (back)

Five bubble players to watch Thursday night

LB Arthur Brown

The writing appeared to be on the wall late last year when he still couldn’t get on the field as the Ravens were playing out the string in a lost season, but the 2013 second-round pick will have a final chance to make an impression on Thursday night. In three preseason games, Brown has collected two tackles and a pass breakup, but he’s done little to distinguish himself this summer, a common theme for what was once thought to be a promising talent. With second-round rookie Kamalei Correa ahead of him on the depth chart, Brown’s time could finally be up as he doesn’t offer as much versatility as other options.

OT James Hurst

The third-year offensive lineman made 13 starts in his first two years with the Ravens, but he owns the dubious distinction of being pushed back into the left knee of Joe Flacco last November, causing the season-ending injury. Even putting that moment aside, the former rookie free agent from North Carolina has frequently looked overmatched whenever he’s been on the field. With fellow rookie Alex Lewis capable of backing up new left tackle Ronnie Stanley, Hurst has also worked at guard this summer, but it doesn’t appear like there’s a roster spot for him unless an injury or two occurs.

LB Chris Carter

Carter is an interesting case as a veteran linebacker with the ability to play inside and outside and to excel on special teams. With both Albert McClellan and Zach Orr — two special-teams standouts — expected to receive more playing time on defense, Carter might be an attractive choice to help pick up the special-teams slack and ease their workloads. At the same time, the Ravens only have so much room on the roster with younger linebackers such as Correa and Matt Judon now in the picture. Carter may not find his way onto Baltimore’s 53-man roster, but he’s likely to catch on elsewhere if he doesn’t.

WR Keenan Reynolds

It’s easy to root for the former Navy quarterback and college football legend, but there just hasn’t been enough progress to like his chances to make the 53-man roster. Reynolds hasn’t shown sure hands as a returner and has struggled to gain separation when working as a receiver. Because of his status as a sixth-round pick and his immense popularity, Reynolds could still be stashed on injured reserve or signed to the practice quad to continue developing. Maybe he can still be the next Antwaan Randle El or Julian Edelman one day, but it just doesn’t look like it will happen this year.

CB Maurice Canady

A nagging hamstring injury has cost the sixth-round rookie extensive practice time this summer, but the 6-foot-1, 193-pound Canady has flashed promise as an outside corner, a spot where the Ravens are light behind starters Jimmy Smith and Shareece Wright. Canady played extensively at the University of Virginia and does show more polish than the typical late-round cornerback, but Thursday will be a big opportunity to prove he’s deserving of one of the final spots on the 53-man roster. It could come down to one roster spot for either Canady or Sheldon Price, but both have had health issues this summer.

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Ravens sign former New Orleans receiver Joe Morgan

Posted on 04 November 2015 by Luke Jones

OWINGS MILLS, Md. — Trying to improve a dire wide receiver situation during their bye week, the Ravens officially added veteran Joe Morgan to their 53-man roster on Wednesday.

Baltimore signed the former New Orleans Saints wideout after he and two other receivers — Hakeem Nicks and Chuck Jacobs — worked out for the team on Tuesday. The Ravens created an open spot on their 53-man roster once they officially move Steve Smith to injured reserve.

The 27-year-old Morgan had one of the best performances of his career against the Ravens when he registered a 62-yard reception and a 67-yard run in a Monday night game last Nov. 24.

“We all remember that — his speed on that,” head coach John Harbaugh said. “He is a guy that has been up and down on their roster throughout the course of the season, and our scouts had identified him as a potential roster-add early on, and we’ve been talking about him in our personnel meetings all season.”

A 6-foot-1 product from Walsh University, Morgan was released by New Orleans last month after appearing in just two games and not registering a catch. He has 14 receptions for 471 yards in his career — an impressive 33.6 yards per catch — making him a deep-ball threat if nothing else.

His best season came in 2012 when he caught 10 passes for 379 yards and three touchdowns. Morgan missed the entire 2013 campaign with a knee injury and caught four passes for 92 yards last season.

“As a speed receiver, the main thing they want me to do is run,” said Morgan, who sees plenty of similarities between offensive coordinator Marc Trestman’s system and what he was running in New Orleans. “I can run with the best of them. You tell me to go out and run a go route, that’s simple enough. You can go out and run a go route; there’s no play to that at all. I’ve been saying my whole career I want to be labeled as more than just a speed receiver.”

The Ravens also added Jacobs to their practice squad and released tight end Konrad Reuland on Wednesday.

Pondering Jacoby

Harbaugh said he hadn’t learned about Jacoby Jones’ release from the San Diego Chargers until after Wednesday’s practice, leading one to believe the former Ravens return specialist is unlikely to return.

However, given the respect he has for Jones’ contributions to the organization, Harbaugh wasn’t about to dismiss any notion of interest in a reunion — at least publicly.

“At some point in time, Ozzie [Newsome] had pulled the trigger on [signing Morgan and Jacobs on Tuesday],” Harbaugh said. “That’s the first I’d heard of Jacoby’s situation [this morning]. I would assume it’s something that we’ll talk about today a little bit and see where we’re at.”

Jones had signed a two-year, $5.5 million contract with San Diego in March after being released by the Ravens in late February.

Bye week rest

After practicing on Tuesday and Wednesday of their bye week, Ravens players are now off through Sunday, leaving them four straight days of rest as mandated by the collective bargaining agreement. Coaches will take off Friday through Sunday before returning to the team’s training facility in Owings Mills.

The Ravens haven’t had a player arrest since former running back Bernard Pierce was charged with driving under the influence in March, but Harbaugh reminded players of the expectations the organization has during their downtime.

“I don’t expect anything to happen with our guys,” Harbaugh said. “We have a bunch of guys that [we] have full faith and confidence in that they’ll make the right choices and do the right thing. If somebody stubs his toe, then, obviously, there are always consequences of some kind for that.”

Injury report

Harbaugh was optimistic about the status of starting center Jeremy Zuttah, who left Sunday’s win over San Diego with a shoulder injury and didn’t return. Zuttah, left tackle Eugene Monroe (shoulder), and guards Marshal Yanda and Kelechi Osemele did not practice on Wednesday.

“Things do look good for Jeremy,” Harbaugh said. “We’ll know more Monday — see if he practices Monday, Wednesday — but things do look good.”

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Brett Martel weighs in on slow start for Saints in ’15

Posted on 22 September 2015 by WNST Staff

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Five questions pondering Ravens preseason opener

Posted on 14 August 2015 by Luke Jones

Photo courtesy of the Baltimore Ravens

Every Friday, I’ll ponder five topics related to the Ravens or Orioles (or a mix of both).

Five questions …

1. Is it just me or was rookie Carl Davis the most impressive player on the field for the Ravens on Thursday? With Timmy Jernigan, Chris Canty, and DeAngelo Tyson all sitting out the preseason opener, the third-round defensive tackle was told to not only expect to start but play extensively and he did, taking 41 snaps and not exiting the game until the fourth quarter when he began cramping up. Davis consistently controlled the line of scrimmage, maintaining gap control while also making a tackle for a loss and batting down a pass. Assuming Jernigan’s foot issue isn’t a long-term concern, it appears the combination of him and Davis will be more than sufficient in helping fill the void left behind by Pro Bowl defensive tackle Haloti Ngata. Defensive coordinator Dean Pees said last week that the Ravens need Davis to contribute immediately, and he looks more than capable of doing so.

2. Is it just me or was the handling of Jimmy Smith a reflection of just how important the Ravens think he is to their success? Even though head coach John Harbaugh also sat Lardarius Webb against New Orleans, the decision to rest Smith showed how critical he is to the Ravens’ fate in 2015. The fifth-year corner has played very well in training camp, showing no effects of the season-ending Lisfranc injury suffered last October, but it was wise for the Ravens to keep his surgically-repaired foot off the turf at M&T Bank Stadium with a month remaining until the start of the regular season. Now, Smith can make his preseason debut on natural grass in Philadelphia before then playing on the home turf in the all-important third preseason game as a final tuneup for the regular season. Questions remain about Webb and the rest of the secondary, but Smith appears to only be getting better.

3. Is it just me or is the writing on the wall for former second-round pick Arthur Brown? Watching special-teams standouts Albert McClellan and Zach Orr struggle at inside linebacker for much of the evening spoke volumes about Brown, who didn’t see extensive playing time on defense until the fourth quarter. In his 21 defensive snaps, Brown made six tackles — one for a loss — but that all came against the Saints’ third-string offensive players. Perhaps the struggles of the other two and Brown’s fourth-quarter showing earn him an earlier look over the next three preseason games, but he’s consistently been behind McClellan and Orr during practices and doesn’t have the same special-teams prowess. The Ravens hate giving up on their early draft picks and there’s still time for Brown to turn his career around, but it’s fairly obvious that he finds himself firmly on the roster bubble this summer.

4. Is it just me or was Jeremy Butler a disappointment after much hype this spring and summer? While I haven’t been quite as enamored with the 6-foot-2 Butler as some observers, there’s no denying that he’s played well in practices, making his showing against the Saints an underwhelming development. After dropping what would have been a nice catch, Butler was too passive on a curl route and allowed backup Matt Schaub’s pass to easily be intercepted, a play that was mentioned by Harbaugh after the game. Butler caught one pass for 14 yards, but he played 40 snaps, more than any other receiver on the roster. In fairness to him, none of Baltimore’s young wideouts really stood out beyond Michael Campanaro, but Thursday seemed like a golden opportunity for Butler to shine with first-round rookie Breshad Perriman and third-year receiver Marlon Brown both on the sideline.

5. Is it just me or did the Saints do a disservice to their kickoff team — and the Ravens — by booting the ball through the end zone all night? Understanding New Orleans is currently having a kicking competition between Zach Hocker and Dustin Hopkins, I’m still not sure what the Saints got out of simply kicking six touchbacks on Thursday. Of course, this is only being mentioned because Ravens special teams coordinator Jerry Rosburg is trying to determine who will be his returner after Jacoby Jones was jettisoned in the offseason, but you’d think the Saints would want to evaluate their coverage team with the understanding that the weather won’t always allow you to kick touchbacks. As for the Ravens’ competition, the oft-injured Asa Jackson appears to be the early leader in the clubhouse, but we’ll wait to see where he stands after tweaking his knee on Thursday.

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Ravens come away from preseason opener with good feeling

Posted on 14 August 2015 by Luke Jones

BALTIMORE — Watching the Ravens veterans celebrate from the sideline in the closing seconds told the story of the preseason opener.

Of course, we know Bryn Renner’s touchdown run with two seconds remaining to give Baltimore a 30-27 comeback win was a fun moment but inconsequential to the fate of the 2015 season. If we’re being honest, most of what we saw on Thursday will have no bearing on the future.

But that sideline scene reflected the Ravens being able to come away from their first preseason game with a good feeling, and that’s all that matters with still a month remaining until they kick it off for real in Denver on Sept. 13. Head coach John Harbaugh knows his team has much of work to do between now and then, but that’s no different than any other team in the NFL with Super Bowl aspirations.

In their first and only drive of the night, Joe Flacco and the starting offense orchestrated a masterful 16-play, 80-yard scoring drive that culminated with a 1-yard touchdown run by backup running back Lorenzo Taliaferro on fourth-and-goal. It was success in a short-yardage situation, an area in which an otherwise-stout offensive line struggled at times a year ago.

“In the first preseason game, you always feel a few nerves,” said Flacco, who completed five of six passes for 33 yards and added a 17-yard run on his only drive of the night. “You really want to do well, because you’re not playing that many reps and you need to make the most of them. It was a great way for us to start off the game.”

It was a good beginning for the starting unit under new offensive coordinator Marc Trestman, but that’s all it was. The passing game remains a work in progress with rookie first-round receiver and vertical threat Breshad Perriman still sidelined with a knee injury and a young group of tight ends still finding their way in the offense, but the presence of a franchise quarterback and a healthy offensive line instantly puts the Ravens in promising position at this early stage.

A starting defense playing without cornerbacks Jimmy Smith and Lardarius Webb and defensive linemen Timmy Jernigan and Chris Canty wasn’t tested by a Drew Brees-less New Orleans offense as the Ravens forced two three-and-outs before many starters gave way to backups in the second quarter.

The defensive standout of the night was rookie defensive tackle Carl Davis, who nearly played the entire game and offered plenty of reasons why the Ravens were excited to nab him in the third round of this year’s draft. Davis finished with three tackles (one for a loss), a quarterback hit, and a batted pass at the line of scrimmage before being succumbing to mild leg cramps in the fourth quarter.

“It’s hard to start the season any better than that,” said linebacker Terrell Suggs about the starting defense. “The only thing we could have done better is to have some turnovers. Having two three-and-outs from the [starters], I think we can live with that. We didn’t have a lot of our starters in, so this is a good thing to build on.”

For all intents and purposes, the night could have concluded at the end of the first quarter for the Ravens as they enjoyed a 14-0 lead — backup quarterback Matt Schaub connected with second-year receiver Michael Campanaro on a 45-yard touchdown for the second score — and held the Saints to just 11 total yards in the first 15 minutes of play.

The rest of the evening didn’t go as smoothly as the second and third defensive units offered little resistance against the New Orleans backups. On the offensive side of the ball, a young group of receivers jockeying for roster spots behind Steve Smith, Kamar Aiken, Perriman, and Marlon Brown didn’t do much to distinguish themselves beyond Campanaro’s touchdown catch.

But the Ravens could rest easy in escaping the preseason opener without any catastrophic injuries to their most important players. Harbaugh did not provide injury updates on cornerback and return man Asa Jackson or outside linebacker Steven Means after the game, but he did announce that reserve tight end Allen Reisner suffered a lower leg fracture, an unfortunate outcome for someone who was a long shot to make the 53-man roster.

Ultimately, we know health is the most critical storyline on which to dwell this time of year.

So, if you can come away with that and strong play from your starters in the first preseason game, you can feel good about yourselves — regardless of the final score — before immediately getting back to work.

Because it will mostly be forgotten in the coming days anyway.

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Ravens-Saints: Inactives and pre-game notes

Posted on 13 August 2015 by Luke Jones

BALTIMORE — The Ravens kicked off their 20th preseason in Baltimore by welcoming the New Orleans Saints to M&T Bank Stadium on Thursday night.

While many starters were only expected to play a couple series in the preseason opener, head coach John Harbaugh will get his first look at new offensive coordinator’s Marc Trestman’s unit in live-game action against another opponent. Many principles of Gary Kubiak’s blocking schemes remain the same, but Trestman has added wrinkles to a passing game expected to include more use of the shotgun formation.

As expected, rookie first-round receiver Breshad Perriman did not play after injuring his knee in the first full-squad practice of training camp two weeks ago. His recovery has been slower than anticipated as the Ravens initially projected him only to miss a couple days.

Though he’s practiced throughout the summer after last year’s season-ending Lisfranc injury, starting cornerback Jimmy Smith did not play in the first preseason game. It’s likely that the Ravens wanted to keep his toe off the stadium turf with still a month remaining until the start of the regular season.

Other players who weren’t suit up for pre-game warmups included wide receiver Marlon Brown (back), guards John Urschel (concussion) and Robert Myers (concussion), defensive linemen DeAngelo Tyson (unspecified strain), Timmy Jernigan (foot), and Chris Canty, and outside linebacker Zach Thompson.

The referee for Thursday’s game was Clete Blakeman.

The Ravens wore white jerseys with black pants while New Orleans donned its black tops with gold pants.

Baltimore is 46-29 in all-time preseason play and 19-9 under Harbaugh. The Ravens and New Orleans are meeting in the preseason for the third time with Baltimore having won the first two played at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome.

Teams are not required to release a list of inactive for preseason games, but below was an unofficial list of Ravens players on the 90-man roster who were not playing on Thursday night:

CB Jimmy Smith
WR Breshad Perriman
WR Marlon Brown
G John Urschel
G Robert Myers
DE DeAngelo Tyson
DT Timmy Jernigan
DE Chris Canty
LB Zach Thompson
TE Dennis Pitta
S Terrence Brooks
S Matt Elam
DE Brent Urban

 

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Ravens-Saints preseason primer: Five players to watch

Posted on 12 August 2015 by Luke Jones

The Ravens move a step closer to beginning their 20th season in Baltimore by welcoming the New Orleans Saints to M&T Bank Stadium in their preseason opener on Thursday night.

Most starters figure to receive little more than a cameo of one or two series as head coach John Harbaugh traditionally removes most starters by the end of the first quarter. Select veterans will play less — or not at all — while younger starters could see playing time into the start of the second quarter.

“It’ll be similar. We have a way that we like to do it here,” Harbaugh said. “It’s individualized to a great extent, but it’ll be similar to what you’ve seen in the past.”

Thursday may not mean much for the likes of Joe Flacco, Steve Smith, and Terrell Suggs, but the preseason presents a critical opportunity for young players to establish themselves as trustworthy contributors and for relative unknowns to leave impressions garnering roster consideration.

With heavy competition at a number of positions, many players will be looking to shine on Thursday, but Harbaugh warns that he and his coaching staff are looking for consistency in both practices and games. There are typically few surprises in their eyes despite fans and media still trying to become familiar with the 90-man preseason roster.

“The games are big, because that’s when the lights are on,” Harbaugh said. “Rarely do you see a guy that doesn’t do anything in practice and all of a sudden it comes out, and [he] lights it up in the game. If you had a guy who did that, you’d be suspicious of that. Is this guy for real? Was it a fluke situation? It’s the guy that does it every day in practice and then goes out and does it again in the game, that’s the guy who really gets your interest.”

Thursday marks the second straight year in which the Ravens will play the Saints in the preseason after they traveled to New Orleans for the 2014 preseason finale. The teams then met again at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome in the regular season with Baltimore prevailing in a 34-27 final on Nov. 24, 2014.

The Ravens are 2-0 against the Saints in the all-time preseason series and 5-1 against them in their regular-season history.

Unofficial (and largely speculative) injury report

The Ravens are not required to release an injury report like they do for regular-season games, but I’ve offered my best guess on what the injury report would look like if one were to be released ahead of Thursday night’s game against New Orleans.

Most of the players ruled to be out will come as no surprise, but the status of a few will be in question. This list, of course, will not include any veterans who may be held out of the preseason opener due to the coaching staff’s preference. The Ravens could also elect to hold out select veterans such as No. 1 cornerback Jimmy Smith and starting offensive linemen Jeremy Zuttah and Rick Wagner, who have not missed practice time this summer but are coming off health concerns that sidelined them in the offseason.

Again, this is not an official injury report released by the Ravens:

OUT: WR Breshad Perriman (knee), TE Dennis Pitta (hip), S Terrence Brooks (knee), S Matt Elam (biceps), DE Brent Urban (biceps)
DOUBTFUL: G John Urschel (concussion), G Robert Myers (concussion), DE DeAngelo Tyson (unspecified strain)
QUESTIONABLE: DT Timmy Jernigan (foot), WR Marlon Brown (back), DE Christo Bilukidi (undisclosed)
PROBABLE: CB Lardarius Webb (hamstring), S Kendrick Lewis (leg)

Five players to watch Thursday night

CB Lardarius Webb

It’s been a rocky start to training camp for the veteran cornerback after he failed his conditioning test upon reporting to Owings Mills. The 29-year-old passed the next day and missed only the first practice, but he has looked slower in coverage and doesn’t have the same explosiveness in changing direction as he once showed. The Ravens will be patient with Webb, but the memories of the Pro Bowl-caliber player he was in 2011 continue to fade, making you wonder if Rashaan Melvin and Kyle Arrington could push for his starting job as the season progresses.

“He has to go out and play and play well and make plays and get back to that level,” defensive coordinator Dean Pees said. “Then he’ll feel good about himself. If anybody has played any kind of ball at all, the only way to feel good about yourself is if you do something right. There’s nothing anybody can dream up for you.”

TE Crockett Gillmore

With there still being no real sign that Dennis Pitta will play this season and Maxx Williams developing slowly as most rookie tight ends do, the Ravens are going to need Gillmore to step up quickly. The organization is quietly expecting a good season from the 2014 third-round pick after he caught only 10 passes as a rookie. The 6-foot-6, 270-pound target has clearly established himself as the leader in a very young group of tight ends, but offensive coordinator Marc Trestman would rest easier if Gillmore can be productive in the passing game during the preseason.

“I have high hopes for Crockett Gillmore,” Harbaugh said. “I really don’t want to shy away from that. I believe in him. I believe he’s going to be a really special player in this league. Now, it’s up to him to go do it.”

LB Za’Darius Smith

The comparisons to Pernell McPhee began immediately after Smith was selected in the fourth round of this spring’s draft, but the Ravens need him to be able to lend a hand as a pass rusher to fill that void. Whether he lines up on the edge or is moved around in sub packages, Smith figures to pick up many of McPhee’s valuable reps in passing situations and in spelling Suggs and Elvis Dumervil. The Kentucky product still has room to improve, but he’s flashed strength and impressive quickness in his first NFL training camp and will be someone to watch throughout the month.

“He’s so gifted, he’s talented. I think he’ll do it all, honestly,” Dumervil said. “He can play the run some inside, so I don’t want to cap him. The sky is the limit for him. Whatever he can retain as a rookie, I’m sure the coaches will do a great job using him.”

WR Jeremy Butler

Fans have heard coaches, players, and media sing the praises of Butler since the spring when he seemingly caught everything thrown his way and he’s carried that over with a good start to camp. The 6-foot-2, 213-pound Butler originally turned heads last summer before the Ravens took advantage of his shoulder injury to give him a “redshirt” season. With Perriman and Brown missing extensive time, Butler has received a nice share of first-team reps when the Ravens use three- or four-wide sets and he’s held his own, but now you want to see him carry over that performance against outside competition.

“Jeremy has done well. He shows some great body control going up and making plays on the sideline,” Harbaugh said. “You always look for that in a receiver. Guys that can do that are very valuable — for him and for everybody else. Other guys are making plays, too. It’s just, can you sustain it? Can you stack it from one day to the next? I know he’s going to be determined to do that.”

QB Matt Schaub

Outside observers have seen the new Ravens veteran backup struggle in the spring and summer, but Harbaugh and his coaching staff have gone out of their way to stick up for the 34-year-old whenever asked. To no surprise, there’s a dramatic drop-off in watching Schaub throw compared to Flacco, but the Ravens were drawn to his similar style of play and felt the former Houston Texans quarterback would give them a better shot to win in the event of an injury than former backup Tyrod Taylor did. Needless to say, that assessment remains up for debate based on how he’s practiced.

“There’s no concern about that,” said quarterbacks coach Marty Mornhinweg about Schaub’s ability to fill in for Flacco if necessary. “He had the one [tough year] in Houston, and then last year in Oakland, things didn’t go quite the way [he hoped]. He’s a very good quarterback, he has an awful lot of strengths, he’s very consistent and he knows much of this offense already. He’s just an excellent leader.”

 

 

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Ravens unveil 2015 preseason schedule

Posted on 09 April 2015 by Luke Jones

As we wait for the NFL to release the 2015 regular-season schedule later this month, the Ravens announced their preseason schedule for their 20th year in Baltimore on Thursday.

The slate of preseason contests features home contests against the New Orleans Saints and the Washington Redskins while the Ravens will travel to Philadelphia and Atlanta. Baltimore isn’t schedule to meet any of its exhibition opponents in the regular season.

After the teams played their preseason finale in New Orleans last August, the Saints will travel to M&T Bank Stadium to meet the Ravens to kick off the preseason on Aug. 13. This will mark the third time that the Ravens have played New Orleans in the summer, but this will be the first contest played in Baltimore.

The Ravens will take on the Eagles in their first road preseason game on either Aug. 21 or Aug. 22 at Lincoln Financial Field. This will mark the 12th time these teams will have played against each other in the preseason with the Ravens owning the 7-4 series advantage.

The all-important third preseason game will take place on either Aug. 28 or Aug. 29 when the Ravens host Washington. This is typically the game in which starters receive their most extensive playing time of the summer in preparation for the start of the regular season. This year will mark the ninth preseason meeting between the close neighbors with the Ravens owning a 6-2 edge.

Season-ticket holders already miffed by preseason prices can once again take solace in knowing that the painfully-dull final game will be played on the road for the seventh consecutive year when the Ravens travel to Atlanta on Sept. 3. Baltimore owns a 7-3 advantage in the preseason series as this will be the eighth one hosted by the Falcons

The Ravens are 46-29 in their preseason history and have compiled a 19-9 record during the preseason in the John Harbaugh era.

Times and final dates will be announced at a later time.

Week 1: Thursday, Aug. 13 vs. New Orleans Saints
Week 2: Friday, Aug. 21 or Saturday, Aug. 22 at Philadelphia Eagles
Week 3: Friday, Aug. 28 or Saturday, Aug. 29 vs. Washington Redskins
Week 4: Thursday, Sept. 3 at Atlanta Falcons

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Forsett once again named AFC Offensive Player of the Week

Posted on 26 November 2014 by Luke Jones

The accolades keep coming in a dream season for Ravens running back Justin Forsett as he was named AFC Offensive Player of the Week on Wednesday.

The 29-year-old rushed for a career-high 182 yards and two touchdowns on 22 carries to lead the Ravens to a 34-27 win over the New Orleans Saints on Monday night. It’s the second time this season Forsett has won the award after being recognized for his 112-yard, two-touchdown performance against Tennessee in Week 10.

Forsett has already rushed for a career-high 903 yards and seven touchdowns in his first season with the Ravens. He leads all NFL running backs with a 5.8 yards per carry average.

In addition to Forsett taking home AFC Player of the Week awards twice this season, quarterback Joe Flacco received the honor for his five-touchdown performance against Tampa Bay in Week 6. Inside linebacker C.J. Mosley was named NFL Defensive Rookie of the Month for October.

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