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Ravens bolster offensive line by signing veteran Austin Howard

Posted on 04 August 2017 by Luke Jones

OWINGS MILLS, Md. — The Ravens signed veteran offensive tackle Austin Howard to a three-year deal Friday in an effort to shore up an unsettled offensive line.

According to NFL Network, the sides agreed to a contract that will pay him $5.5 million in 2017 and up to $16 million over the duration of the contract.

The 30-year-old was released by the Oakland Raiders on July 28 as he was set to enter the fourth season of a five-year, $30 million contract. Howard started 39 games for Oakland over the last three seasons after starting all 32 contests for the New York Jets in 2012 and 2013. He dealt with a shoulder injury last season that limited him to 11 games and required offseason surgery.

A member of Baltimore’s practice squad in 2011, Howard is now expected to handle the starting right tackle job that was held by free-agent departure Rick Wagner over the previous three seasons. Howard ranked 52nd among qualified offensive tackles in Pro Football Focus’ grading system last year, but he finished a very respectable 13th in 2015. He has also played guard in his NFL after beginning his collegiate career as a tight end at Northern Iowa.

Howard’s 72 career starts make him the Ravens’ second-most experienced offensive lineman behind six-time Pro Bowl guard Marshal Yanda. Fourth-year lineman James Hurst had been working as the first-team right tackle in spring workouts and over the first week of training camp.

Already needing to replace Wagner as well as former starting center Jeremy Zuttah, the Ravens sustained two losses to their offensive line group in the first week of training camp with John Urschel’s surprising retirement on July 27 and the season-ending knee injury to rookie fourth-round pick Nico Siragusa earlier this week. Left tackle Ronnie Stanley, left guard Alex Lewis, and center Ryan Jensen have all missed practice time this week while Yanda continues to be brought back slowly from offseason shoulder surgery.

Offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg coached the 6-foot-7, 330-pound Howard with the Jets in 2013.

To make room for Howard on the 90-man preseason roster, the Ravens waived injured tight end Crockett Gillmore, who is in the final year of his rookie contract and would revert to injured reserve if unclaimed by another team. Gillmore is out for the season after undergoing knee surgery on Monday.

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Ravens wide receiver Perriman still sidelined with hamstring injury

Posted on 03 August 2017 by Luke Jones

OWINGS MILLS, Md. — Ravens wide receiver Breshad Perriman left the field earlier this week with a hamstring issue originally not believed to be serious, but he missed his second straight practice Thursday.

When he’ll return remains unclear with head coach John Harbaugh not exactly painting a picture suggesting an imminent return. The 2015 first-round pick earned strong reviews in offseason workouts and is aiming to break out after catching 33 passes for 499 yards and three touchdowns last season.

Perriman missed his entire rookie season with a partially-torn posterior cruciate ligament in his right knee and missed most of training camp last year with a partially-torn anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee that did not require surgery. He returned to play in all 16 games in 2016 and is expected to serve as Baltimore’s No. 3 receiver behind veterans Jeremy Maclin and Mike Wallace this season.

“Things happen for a reason, and maybe this is a blessing in disguise,” Harbaugh said. “We’ll continue to work on all the things he needs to work on, in terms of his body, catching, things like that. He’ll get the mental work in the [walk-through] practices. I would say he’s had a plus camp, and hopefully it’ll lead to a really good season.

“I’ll also follow with [saying] I wish we had him out there practicing the rest of the time, obviously, but that’s what we have right now.”

Wide receivers coach Bobby Engram described Perriman’s development as “night and day” compared to last year as he’s shown more consistent hands and improved route-running ability. Quarterback Joe Flacco also praised the strides the young receiver had made this spring, making this latest ailment a disappointing development for an offense in need of youthful upside.

Of course, the Ravens are wise to be cautious with the start of the regular season still five weeks away.

“I think he’ll be fine,” said Engram about Perriman’s mindset after another physical challenge. “Obviously, it is a part of our profession, which none of us like to deal with. But mentally, he is in a really good place. He has a great group of guys in this room that are supporting him. He knows this organization is behind him. He just has to get healthy, come back, and let’s roll.”

Flacco missed his seventh consecutive practice with a back issue as the Ravens continue to roll with Ryan Mallett leading the starting offense. Center Ryan Jensen was also absent with an undisclosed issue while former practice-squad member Matt Skura served as the first-team center during Thursday’s practice.

Others missing from Thursday’s workout included first-round rookie cornerback Marlon Humphrey (undisclosed), wide receiver Kenny Bell (hamstring), offensive lineman Brandon Kublanow (undisclosed), and defensive backs Maurice Canady (knee) and Sheldon Price (undisclosed). Humphrey did not take part in a large portion of Wednesday’s practice.

Harbaugh also gave a lengthy list of veterans the day off as wide receiver Mike Wallace, running back Danny Woodhead, tight end Benjamin Watson, cornerbacks Jimmy Smith and Brandon Carr, safety Lardarius Webb, and linebackers Terrell Suggs and Albert McClellan were not present during the morning session.

Recently-signed tight end Larry Donnell left practice after hurting his hand and did not return, but Harbaugh wasn’t aware of the severity at the conclusion of practice. The Ravens can hardly afford to lose another player at the position with Dennis Pitta, Darren Waller, and Crockett Gillmore already gone for the season.

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Flacco making “very positive” progress after week-long absence

Posted on 02 August 2017 by Luke Jones

OWINGS MILLS, Md. — The Ravens aren’t saying when quarterback Joe Flacco will make his 2017 training camp debut, but he’s apparently making good progress.

As the Colin Kaepernick discussion persists and a Ryan Mallet-led offense has struggled through the first week of practice, head coach John Harbaugh said the 10th-year starter is responding favorably to rest and treatment for a back ailment. Flacco has missed the first six practices of the summer, the first time in his career that he’s missed time during training camp.

Despite expressing optimism that he may only miss a week, the Ravens won’t rush him back to the practice field with the season opener still more than five weeks away.

“You can’t really say exactly when or when we might even decide to do it,” Harbaugh said. “But all indications from Joe and from our trainer Mark Smith have been very positive.”

Wide receivers Breshad Perriman (hamstring) and Kenny Bell (hamstring), cornerbacks Maurice Canady (knee) and Sheldon Price (unspecified), and offensive lineman Brandon Kublanow (unspecified) were also absent from Wednesday’s practice. Harbaugh also confirmed that rookie offensive lineman Nico Siragusa suffered a season-ending knee injury on Tuesday.

After saying Perriman’s hamstring tightness didn’t appear to be serious a day earlier, Harbaugh said Wednesday he would refrain from commenting on how long injured players might be sidelined moving forward. Of course, he and the Ravens drew much criticism for the public handling of Perriman’s knee injury during his rookie season, making one wonder if Wednesday’s comments were in reference to the wide receiver specifically.

“It is really hard to put a time frame on them,” said Harbaugh about camp injuries. “I know everybody wants a time frame, and we do want to keep our fans informed. We do want people to know basically what is going on. But, I have learned the lesson the hard way. You just do not know how long things are going to last. You start putting dates on them, and everybody starts questioning you.

“Sometimes, we maybe keep guys [out] longer or get them back quicker. It is just unpredictable. We will let you know if it is serious. If it is not serious, it is not serious and it is a number of days or even weeks. That is where we are.”

Left tackle Ronnie Stanley and center Ryan Jensen were held out of a large portion of Wednesday’s practice, but the former said he was fine when asked about his health. With two members of the projected offensive line not participating, the Ravens used James Hurst at left tackle, Alex Lewis at left guard, Matt Skura at center, rookie fifth-round pick Jermaine Eluemunor at right guard, and Stephane Nembot at right tackle with the first-team offense.

Surprisingly, rookie wide receiver Quincy Adeboyejo was back at practice a day after being carted off the field with what appeared to be a back issue. The undrafted free agent from Ole Miss caught several deep passes and even beat cornerback Jimmy Smith on two different occasions.

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Newsome denies report of Bisciotti blocking Kaepernick signing

Posted on 02 August 2017 by Luke Jones

OWINGS MILLS, Md. — Ravens general manager Ozzie Newsome says no decision has been made on the status of Colin Kaepernick and that owner Steve Bisciotti has not blocked his potential signing.

Making his first public comment on the polarizing quarterback, Newsome responded to an ESPN report Wednesday morning saying the Baltimore owner was resisting Kaepernick’s addition. The report stated that Newsome and head coach John Harbaugh are on board for his signing.

“We are going through a process, and we have not made a decision,” Newsome said in a statement released by the team. “Steve Bisciotti has not told us we cannot sign Colin Kaepernick, nor has he blocked the move. Whoever is making those claims is wrong.”

Bisciotti spoke at length about Kaepernick during a fan forum at M&T Bank Stadium Sunday and expressed uncertainty about whether the former San Francisco 49er would help the Ravens win games. Admitting he didn’t agree with all of Kaepernick’s protest methods, Bisciotti said the organization has consulted with current and former players and received plenty of feedback from fans on the issue.

Starting quarterback Joe Flacco remains sidelined with a back issue while backup Ryan Mallett has struggled in the first week of training camp, leading many to clamor for Kaepernick’s signing. Harbaugh had no new information on Kaepernick after Wednesday’s practice.

“I do not have an update on Colin Kaepernick or our quarterback situation,” Harbaugh said. “Really, I’ll frame that this way: there are other positions we’re looking at too and I don’t have any updates on those, either. So, I think they’re all in the same category.”

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Twelve Ravens thoughts on first week of training camp

Posted on 01 August 2017 by Luke Jones

With the Ravens winding down their opening week of training camp, I’ve offered a dozen thoughts, each in 50 words or less:

1. Injuries have been a story for years, but the current run since June 1 is staggering. The Ravens revamped their training program over the last two offseasons in response to having a combined 39 players on injured reserve in 2014 and 2015. They’re not turning a blind eye to this.

2. The offense has definitely fared poorly with Joe Flacco sidelined, but let’s not shortchange the defense through all the criticism for Ryan Mallett and company. The collective quarterback play has often looked inept, but this Baltimore defense has much potential. The truth lies somewhere in the middle.

3. Crockett Gillmore had lofty expectations in the final year of his rookie contract, making his latest injury a disappointment for a player who showed much promise in 2015. Assuming he doesn’t make a miraculous return this season, he will have missed 31 games over the last three campaigns.

4. The award for biggest change in body type goes to Matt Judon, who looks 20 pounds lighter than he did as a rookie. Aiming to be the strong-side outside linebacker, Judon dropped weight over the summer to be better in coverage. He’s looked the part in the first few practices.

5. Don’t sleep on Matt Skura, who is a reserve center and has filled in for Marshal Yanda during full-team drills. After spending last season on the practice squad, the Duke product has a big opportunity with John Urschel retired and Nico Siragusa now out for the year.

6. I’ve counted as many as 10 different players taking reps as a punt or kick returner so far. Undrafted rookie wide receiver Tim White is a name to watch, but this appears to be a wide-open competition, which is nothing new since Jacoby Jones’ release a couple years ago.

7. The injury was lost in the wash, but the indefinite loss of Maurice Canady is a tough blow after slot cornerback Tavon Young went down for the season in the spring. Lardarius Webb has been working in the slot with veteran newcomer Brandon Boykin off to a slow start.

8. The first-round selection of Marlon Humphrey didn’t receive much enthusiasm in April, but the 21-year-old has shown impressive composure and has made plays early in his first training camp. The presence of Brandon Carr eases the immediate need, but the Alabama product has impressed.

9. Maxx Williams deserves ample time to get his football legs back under him, but he hasn’t moved particularly well so far in his return from a secretive knee surgery that had never been performed on an NFL player. The Ravens could really use contributions from their 2015 second-round pick.

10. Young pass rushers take time to develop, but Tim Williams has stood out in individual drills. His quickness is evident as he blew past a rookie offensive tackle who hadn’t even gotten out of his stance Tuesday, and he’s even gotten the best of Ronnie Stanley from time to time.

11. Rookie free agents to watch in the preseason include defensive end Patrick Ricard and cornerback Jaylen Hill as well as White. It wouldn’t shock me to see Ricard become the next undrafted defensive lineman to stick, but we still have a long way to go.

12. How rough has the first week of training camp been? Justin Tucker even missed consecutive field goal tries from 49 yards on Tuesday, something I’m not sure I’ve ever seen him do in practice. I’ll go out on a limb and predict that he’ll be OK, however.

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Rookie offensive lineman Siragusa becomes Ravens’ latest injury victim

Posted on 01 August 2017 by Luke Jones

OWINGS MILLS, Md. — With the preseason opener still over a week away, the season-ending injuries keep coming for the Ravens as rookie offensive lineman Nico Siragusa tore three knee ligaments in Tuesday’s practice.

According to NFL Network, the fourth-round pick from San Diego State suffered tears to the ACL, MCL, and PCL of his left knee in a pileup during an 11-on-11 goal-line drill. Siragusa confirmed the news of the devastating injury via his Twitter account as he becomes the seventh Baltimore player lost for the season since June 1, a staggering development for a team seeking its first playoff berth since 2014.

Siragusa was the first offensive player taken by the Ravens in the 2017 draft and was expected to serve as interior depth for an offensive line with new starters at center and right tackle. His injury comes less than a week after fourth-year lineman John Urschel surprisingly announced his retirement from football, leaving the Ravens very thin at both center and guard.

Head coach John Harbaugh did not have an immediate update on Siragusa’s condition after Tuesday’s workout, but he confirmed tight end Crockett Gillmore was likely to miss the entire season after undergoing surgery to repair a torn MCL in his right knee Monday. Second-year cornerback Maurice Canady is also out indefinitely after knee surgery, but he could still return this season, according to Harbaugh.

Undrafted rookie wideout Quincy Adeboyejo was carted off the field Tuesday morning with what appeared to be a back ailment.

Wide receiver Breshad Perriman left Tuesday’s practice early with what Harbaugh described as hamstring tightness that wasn’t believed to be serious. The 2015 first-round pick tweaked the hamstring while running a pass route and consulted with head athletic trainer Mark Smith for several minutes before walking to the locker room less than an hour into the session.

Quarterback Joe Flacco (back), wide receiver Kenny Bell (hamstring), cornerback Sheldon Price (undisclosed), and center Brandon Kublanow (undisclosed) were absent on Tuesday. As expected, wide receiver and return specialist Michael Campanaro (toe) returned to practice after being activated from the physically unable to perform list.

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Bisciotti not sure Kaepernick would help Ravens win games

Posted on 30 July 2017 by Luke Jones

BALTIMORE — Owner Steve Bisciotti says the Ravens are still weighing the possibility of signing Colin Kaepernick, but he isn’t sure whether the polarizing quarterback would help his team win games.

Speaking to fans at a special forum that included NFL commissioner Roger Goodell prior to Sunday’s practice at M&T Bank Stadium, Bisciotti said he is still discussing the matter with team president Dick Cass, general manager Ozzie Newsome, and head coach John Harbaugh while also surveying current and former players for their opinions. As Harbaugh indicated Friday, the status of starting quarterback Joe Flacco, who is currently sidelined with a bad back, remains the biggest variable in the decision-making process from a football standpoint.

Cass confirmed during the forum that the Ravens have had direct discussions with Kaepernick, who has expressed his desire to continue his football career.

“We do want to win games, and I’m not sure right now that he is going to help us do that,” Bisciotti said. “We’re monitoring Joe. We’ve talked to Joe about it. We’re monitoring [Ryan] Mallett. We’re keeping our door open. We’ve talked about [Robert Griffin III], bringing him in for a workout.”

Bisciotti admitted he wasn’t a fan of seeing Kaepernick sit during the national anthem last preseason, but he gained more respect for the former San Francisco 49er’s protest when he began kneeling for “The Star-Spangled Banner” in the 2016 preseason finale and continued that practice in the regular season.

The Ravens have said they’ve received plenty of fan feedback over the last few days and have carefully considered how Kaepernick’s signing would impact their brand.

“Colin’s made some assurances — I think through his intermediaries — that there would be no protesting, that he would be standing for the [national anthem],” Bisciotti said. “To quantify hurting the brand, I know that we’re going to upset some people and I know that we’re going to make people happy that we stood up for somebody that has the right to do what he did.

“Nonviolent protesting is something that we’ve all embraced.”

The Ravens had $6.956 million in salary cap space entering Sunday, but they then signed former New York Giants tight end Larry Donnell to a spot on their 90-man roster. Mallett, the current backup, was re-signed to a one-year, $2 million with a $1 million signing bonus in March.

Below is Bisciotti’s complete answer to a fan’s question about the potential impact a Kaepernick signing would have on the Ravens’ brand:

We are very sensitive to it. It’s been discussed between Dick and Ozzie and John, and we’ve talked to a lot of our current players and a lot of our former players. I was speaking to Ray Lewis this morning. I know Ozzie had a long conversation with Ben Watson. I wouldn’t divulge people’s opinions, but I think you’d be kind of shocked at some people that are against it and some people that are for it. It’s not racial lines. It’s not existing players versus former players. I care about the fan base, but I have to absorb the opinions of the players that have been there.

Colin’s made some assurances I think through his intermediaries that there would be no protesting, that he would be standing for the [national anthem]. To quantify hurting the brand, I know that we’re going to upset some people and I know that we’re going to make people happy that we stood up for somebody that has the right to do what he did. Nonviolent protesting is something that we’ve all embraced. I don’t like the way he did it. Personally, I kind of liked it a lot when he went from sitting to kneeling. I don’t know. I’m Catholic [and] we spend a lot of time kneeling. When I saw him develop last year and went from sitting to kneeling next to his teammates, I liked that. I just thought, ‘OK, if it’s still a silent protest, I don’t think that the level of disrespect is as strong that way.’

We do want to win games, and I’m not sure right now that he is going to help us do that. We’re monitoring Joe. We’ve talked to Joe about it. We’re monitoring Mallett. We’re keeping our door open. We’ve talked about [Robert Griffin III], bringing him in for a workout.

All I would ask is to just talk to your neighbors and your friends and your co-workers, too, because I think you’ll just get the same sense that I got. Wow, every time I hear something negative, I hear something positive and sometimes it shocks me who it’s coming from. I hope we do what is best for the team and balance that with what’s best for our fans. Your opinions matter to us, and you couldn’t get a consensus in here, either. Every time there’s a sensitive subject, we know.

When I fired [Brian] Billick nine years ago, it sounded like 90 percent of the people in Baltimore wanted me to fire him until I fired him and then I found out 80 percent thought I was an idiot. You’ve got to be careful about the vocal minority. They have the tendency to seem to be a bigger group than they are.

We’re very sensitive to it, and we’re monitoring it. We’re still, as Ozzie says, scrimmaging it, and we’re trying to figure out what’s the right tact. So, pray for us.

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Hurting at tight end, Ravens add former New York Giant Larry Donnell

Posted on 30 July 2017 by Luke Jones

The Ravens arguably had more inventory at tight end than any other position on the roster, but that’s changed substantially in less than two months.

A right knee injury to Crockett Gillmore prompted general manager Ozzie Newsome to sign former New York Giants tight end Larry Donnell on Sunday. It remains unclear just how long Gillmore will be sidelined after he left the field in the final minutes of Friday’s practice and didn’t participate on Saturday. The Ravens lost Dennis Pitta to a career-ending hip injury on June 2 and Darren Waller to a yearlong suspension announced on June 30.

Donnell, a former rookie free agent from Grambling, had a four-year run with the New York Giants in which he caught 110 passes for 969 yards and nine touchdowns in 54 games. His 2014 campaign was his best as the 6-foot-6, 265-pound target caught 63 passes for 623 yards and six touchdowns.

His 2016 season in New York was a quiet one as Donnell caught 15 passes for 92 yards and one touchdown in 14 games, six of them starts.

He joins a group of healthy tight ends that includes Nick Boyle, Benjamin Watson, Maxx Williams, Ryan Malleck, and wide receiver hybrid Vince Mayle. The 36-year-old Watson is coming back from a torn Achilles tendon suffered last August while Williams, a 2015 second-round pick, is returning from a rare knee cartilage surgery that had apparently never been performed on an NFL player.

To make room for Donnell on the 90-man preseason roster, the Ravens waived undrafted rookie wide receiver Tim Patrick.

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Gillmore, Canady new absences at Ravens training camp

Posted on 29 July 2017 by Luke Jones

OWINGS MILLS, Md. — As quarterback Joe Flacco missed his third straight practice with a back issue, the Ravens had two new absences as they took the field on Saturday.

Tight end Crockett Gillmore and cornerback Maurice Canady did not participate in the first full-pad workout of training camp, joining Flacco and wide receiver Michael Campanaro (toe) on the sideline. Gillmore left in the final minutes of Friday’s session with what appeared to be a right leg injury, but head coach John Harbaugh didn’t have an update on his condition after that workout and wasn’t available to media on Saturday. It remains unclear why Canady didn’t practice after he was a full participant the day before.

The Ravens will hope it’s only a brief absence for Canady, who emerged in the spring as the early favorite to be the nickel corner after second-year cornerback Tavon Young suffered a season-ending knee injury. In Canady’s absence, veteran defensive back Lardarius Webb was defending the slot for the first-team defense.

As you’d expect, it’s been a rough start for the offense without Flacco under center. In addition to the countless turnovers and difficulty moving the ball, the unit had an embarrassing moment when quarterback Ryan Mallett, running back Terrance West, and motioning wide receiver Mike Wallace all collided in the backfield on a run play.

For now, the offensive coaching staff is taking its situation in stride while Flacco recovers.

“He’s getting himself right in the training room with [head athletic trainer Mark Smith], the staff, and all those doctors and things,” offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg said. “We’ll get him back out here at some point. In the meantime, we get our work done. We get our timing down. It’s a great opportunity for the other fellows.”

Mallett did improve somewhat from Friday’s brutal showing that included several interceptions, but he was still picked off by safeties Eric Weddle and Chuck Clark on Saturday. Weddle also intercepted Dustin Vaughan during another 11-on-11 period.

The four-time Pro Bowl safety wasn’t the only defensive standout as rookie Tim Williams soundly beat starting tackles Ronnie Stanley and James Hurst as well as reserve Stephane Nembot in isolated pass-rush drills. The third-round pick from Alabama has shown good burst out of his stance and is a candidate to serve as a situational pass rusher in his first NFL season.

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Ravens remain in holding pattern with Flacco resting back

Posted on 28 July 2017 by Luke Jones

OWINGS MILLS, Md. — The Ravens are in a holding pattern with franchise quarterback Joe Flacco continuing to rest his ailing back.

The concern is hardly dire yet with the season opener still six weeks away, but that could change if the 32-year-old doesn’t respond favorably to the rest and treatment he’s receiving over the first week of training camp. Back injuries can be complicated and often linger if not handled carefully, making it wise for the Ravens to take their time with their most important player.

Of course, that hasn’t slowed the red-hot discussion about whether Baltimore should sign polarizing quarterback Colin Kaepernick, who remains unemployed despite clearly possessing the talent to play in a league that lacks quality signal-callers. Over the last two days, head coach John Harbaugh has heaped plenty of praise on Kaepernick, who played for his brother and Ravens senior offensive assistant Greg Roman in San Francisco.

But it’s complicated.

“We’ll just see how it plays out. It has to do with our need,” Harbaugh said. “Joe is day to day. Do we really need to make that move or not? That’s the decision that really has to be made. There are a lot of layers to it, just from a football standpoint. I’ll focus on the football part.

“If there are other layers to it, then that’s taken into consideration at the appropriate level.”

Those other layers are very relevant from a business standpoint and primarily concern owner Steve Bisciotti and team president Dick Cass, but let’s focus on football, roster construction, and the salary cap. Your opinion on the non-football part of the discussion is unlikely to be swayed at this point anyway, whether you’re pounding the desk for him to be wearing purple or threatening to cancel your season tickets over his potential signing.

The newly-signed David Olson is irrelevant to this debate. Harbaugh said Thursday that the Ravens needed to add a camp “arm” immediately, and Olson merely assumed the reps that assistant coach Matt Weiss was forced to take because there were only two healthy quarterbacks on the field for Thursday’s full-squad practice involving a total of 85 players. The former arena quarterback isn’t replacing Flacco or backup Ryan Mallett and didn’t take a potential spot from Kaepernick, either.

That brings us to Mallett. In a vacuum, Kaepernick is the better quarterback who brings much more experience to the table. The incumbent backup possesses a similar skill set to Flacco that does make for an easy short-term transition from a schematic standpoint, but the Ravens also employed Tyrod Taylor as their backup for four years, making you think a difference in style shouldn’t be a major deterrent with all things being equal.

But Mallett was just signed to a one-year, $2 million contract with a $1 million signing bonus at the start of free agency back in March, which suggests they at least had a comfort level in him as a backup less than five months ago. You can fairly question the wisdom in re-signing him so quickly if they’re no longer enamored with his performance, which has been poor over the first couple days of camp.

According to the NFL Players Association, the Ravens currently have $6.881 million in salary cap space, a number that will shrink at the end of the preseason when the Rule of 51 no longer applies and teams must fit their entire 53-man roster, their players on injured reserve, and their 10-man practice squad under the cap. In other words, the Ravens do not have much flexibility right now and will still need a “rainy day” fund when other roster needs arise over the duration of the season.

Signing Kaepernick and cutting Mallett — assuming the Ravens would continue their current eight-year trend of entering a season with just two quarterbacks on the 53-man roster — would leave $1 million of dead money on the cap. In other words, the Ravens would need to add that amount to whatever they would give Kaepernick, making his salary expectations quite relevant to this discussion. His ability suggests that he should be worth much more, but we know how his story has played out throughout the offseason and we don’t know if he would accept the veteran minimum or a little more than that.

As it stands, general manager Ozzie Newsome maybe has one moderate signing he can make without having to restructure veteran contracts and impacting future cap years. With so much concern along the offensive line as well as questions at other positions such as tight end and running back, should improving the backup quarterback spot really be a top priority? If there are questions about the offense with Flacco under center, would you rather have Kaepernick standing on the sideline as an insurance policy or add another offensive lineman that’s going to see the field and better protect a quarterback whose health is potentially in question?

Of course, that brings us back to the current holding pattern.

If the Ravens are more concerned about Flacco’s long-term availability going into the regular season than they’re currently indicating, Kaepernick makes plenty of sense. In a worst-case scenario, Roman could dust off some zone-read packages from his San Francisco days and allow Kaepernick to better utilize his athleticism in what would be viewed by some as a throwaway season anyway if the franchise quarterback were to be on the shelf.

If Flacco’s back is perfectly fine in a week or two, however, pumping more dollars into the quarterback position doesn’t seem like the best allocation of resources for a team desperate to get back to the playoffs for the first time since 2014.

Yes, Kaepernick is good enough to play in this league, either as a starter or as a high-quality backup. He deserves to have that opportunity somewhere.

But the timing and conditions of a potential marriage with the Ravens will be on their terms.

And that’s not even considering those other layers currently being discussed by the powers that be.

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