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Ravens-Bengals: Inactives and pre-game notes

Posted on 18 November 2018 by Luke Jones

(Updated: 12:35 p.m.)

The Ravens come out of the bye week trying to snap a three-game losing streak and save their season against Cincinnati while starting a new quarterback.

With 11th-year starter Joe Flacco officially deactivated with a right hip injury, rookie Lamar Jackson will make his first NFL start, becoming the last of the five 2018 first-round quarterbacks to start a game this season. Jackson will also be the first quarterback other than Flacco to start a meaningful game for Baltimore since Kyle Boller midway through the 2007 season.

No pressure, right?

With Flacco on the game-day inactives list for the first time in his career — he was immediately placed on injured reserve after he tore his ACL in 2015 — veteran Robert Griffin III is active for the first time this season. How much he might play remains to be seen, but you’d expect offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg to continue to occasionally use two-quarterback formations — only this time with two mobile options on the field.

After missing the Pittsburgh game with an ankle injury, left tackle Ronnie Stanley is active, but it was Jermaine Eluemunor lining up as the starting left tackle during pre-game warmups. Stanley was talking to members of the training staff as well as head coach John Harbaugh and offensive line coach Joe D’Allesandris, making it unclear if he was always going to be the emergency backup or potentially tweaked his ankle warming up.

Offensive lineman James Hurst remains sidelined with a back injury, meaning rookie third-round pick Orlando Brown Jr. will make his fourth straight start at right tackle.

Running back Ty Montgomery will be making his Ravens debut. The former Green Bay Packer was acquired at the trade deadline late last month, but he was a healthy scratch against the Steelers in Week 9. He joins starter Alex Collins, veteran Buck Allen, and rookie Gus Edwards to form a quartet of active running backs against Cincinnati.

While the Ravens will be without their starting quarterback for Week 11, the Bengals will be without seven-time Pro Bowl wide receiver A.J. Green (toe) as well as starting linebackers Preston Brown (knee) and Nick Vigil (knee). The impact of Green not playing speaks for itself, but the absences of Brown and Vigil will put pressure on reserves Hardy Nickerson and Vincent Rey to keep Jackson and the Baltimore running game in check. The good news for the Bengals, however, is the return of outside linebacker Vontaze Burfict, who missed the last two games with a hip injury.

Bengals wide receiver John Ross is also active after being limited with a groin injury this week.

Sunday’s referee is Walt Coleman.

According to Weather.com, the Sunday forecast in Baltimore calls for cloudy skies and temperatures reaching the high 40s with winds five to 10 miles per hour and no precipitation.

The Ravens are wearing their black jerseys with black pants while Cincinnati dons white tops with black pants for Week 11.

Sunday marks the 46th all-time meeting between these teams with the Bengals holding a 23-22 series advantage. Cincinnati has won eight of the last 10 against the Ravens and is seeking its third season sweep in the last five years. That is one of the more telling factoids of the post-Super Bowl XLVII era that features just one playoff appearance for Baltimore.

Below are Sunday’s inactives:

BALTIMORE
QB Joe Flacco
OT James Hurst
LB Tim Williams
WR Jordan Lasley
OL Hroniss Grasu
TE Maxx Williams
DL Zach Sieler

CINCINNATI
WR A.J. Green
CB KeiVarae Russell
LB Preston Brown
LB Nick Vigil
OT Cedric Ogbuehi
WR Josh Malone
DT Adolphus Washington

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Five Ravens predictions for rest of 2018 season

Posted on 09 November 2018 by Luke Jones

(Editor’s note: This post was completed before news broke about Joe Flacco’s hip injury Friday afternoon.)

The story is all too familiar with the Ravens.

An encouraging start followed by a dreadful October leaving Baltimore too little margin for error down the stretch. Only this time around feels like the final stand for 11th-year head coach John Harbaugh and a number of aging veterans with high salary-cap numbers.

A look back at my preseason predictions brings mixed reviews at best as I envisioned the Ravens having their best year since 2014, but a return to the playoffs isn’t yet out of the question with a seemingly pedestrian field competing for the second AFC wild card. At the same time, this hasn’t been the ideal year to face a very strong NFC South after the 2014 Ravens went undefeated against that same division, the difference in them making the playoffs.

Will the Ravens miss out on the postseason for the fourth straight year and fifth time in six tries since their victory in Super Bowl XLVII that feels like a long time ago?

Below are five predictions for the remainder of the 2018 season:

1. Lamar Jackson will see increased snaps and even throw a couple touchdown passes. This one isn’t exactly going out on a limb based on Harbaugh’s recent comments, but how it looks is key. I don’t expect the rookie to become the starter — then again, I also didn’t expect the organization to draft a first-round quarterback this year — as long as the Ravens are in the hunt, but Marty Mornhinweg needs to be willing to call for Jackson to throw the ball more frequently if he’s going to be taking upwards of 10 to 12 snaps per game. The current offense is too predictable, so why not mix it up and allow Jackson to take a deep shot to John Brown? If it means he’s the only quarterback on the field at times, so be it.

2. The running game will perform at a league-average rate the rest of the way. The Ravens have quietly improved running the ball by averaging just under 4.1 yards per carry over the last five games, but that’s coincided with four losses. Baltimore must find a way to run effectively from its “traditional” offense because it’s becoming too obvious that Joe Flacco is passing the ball when he’s at quarterback and the Ravens are running when Jackson lines up there. The recently-acquired Ty Montgomery will provide some help to go with Alex Collins while the Ravens will keep Orlando Brown Jr. at right tackle and move James Hurst to left guard. Those changes will bring steadier production.

3. More takeaways and sacks will finally come — at home. I’ve written at length about these subjects recently, but I still believe this defense is too talented and has also been unlucky to have only five interceptions — despite ranking second in the NFL in passes defended and first in batted balls at the line of scrimmage — and two fumble recoveries in nine games. Opportunities will come at home with Oakland, Tampa Bay, and Cleveland ranking in the top 11 in giveaways, but the problem is their three road opponents (Atlanta, Kansas City, and the Los Angeles Chargers) have committed a total of just 19 turnovers. My confidence in the pass rush isn’t as high as 22 of their 28 sacks came against Buffalo, the Browns, and Tennessee, whose lines rank in the bottom five in Football Outsiders’ adjusted sack rate.

4. Flacco will not just lose his job lying down. His future in Baltimore largely depends on what the organization is seeing with Jackson’s development, but I don’t expect the 33-year-old to play out his potential final weeks with the Ravens without a fight. Flacco has historically performed better in the second half of most seasons, and his next five opponents rank in the bottom 10 in Football Outsiders’ weighted defense metric, meaning there’s little excuse not to improve after averaging just 5.8 yards per passing attempt over the last five games. Flacco won’t get to 25 touchdown passes as I originally predicted, but he’ll play well enough to keep the door open for his 2019 return or create optimism about his offseason trade value.

5. History will repeat itself as the Ravens finish 8-8 and miss the playoffs, prompting substantial changes. Didn’t I sound so optimistic in the previous points? Baltimore is 16-29 on the road since the start of the 2013 season after going 21-19 in away games from 2008-12. Since 2013, Pittsburgh is 27-16-1, New England 31-13, Kansas City 28-17, and Cincinnati 21-23 on the road, a sampling that illustrates how this franchise has fallen behind even the Bengals in terms of AFC relevance. I expect the Ravens to take care of business in their remaining home games and to play hard as they almost always have under Harbaugh, but they own a total of five road wins against opponents finishing a season with a record of .500 or better since 2013. They’ll need at least one against the Falcons, Chiefs, or Chargers just to get to 9-7, and that’s needing a perfect 4-0 home mark. I just don’t see it, which is why I thought the Ravens needed to be 6-3 at the bye to finish 10-6. We’ll look back at the Week 5 road loss to the Browns as the dagger sparking Steve Bisciotti to begin a reboot.

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Twelve Ravens thoughts following 23-16 loss to Pittsburgh

Posted on 06 November 2018 by Luke Jones

With the Ravens suffering their third straight loss and fourth in their last five games in a 23-16 final against Pittsburgh, I’ve offered a dozen thoughts, each in 50 words or less:

1. Baltimore will never take the next step by settling for 23-yard field goals against a high-scoring offense. The analytics did support those decisions to kick, but I would have considered going for the fourth-and-3 from the 5 in the second quarter. “Take the points” isn’t always the best strategy.

2. As I’ve written other times, Joe Flacco is far from the only reason for the recent offensive struggles, but he hasn’t been a big enough part of the solution either. He was under duress quite a bit Sunday, but he easily missed a half-dozen throws working from a satisfactory pocket.

3. Insinuating Flacco didn’t throw to Lamar Jackson out of spite is taking quite a leap to trash the character of someone who’s never done anything to warrant such treatment. It’s not like his ability to see the field or go through progressions has never been criticized, so why get personal?

4. How the middle of the field continues to be such a problematic area for the pass defense when C.J. Mosley, Eric Weddle, and Tony Jefferson account for $22.625 million on the 2018 salary cap is a tough pill to swallow.

5. Orlando Brown Jr. continues to be a bright spot. According to Pro Football Focus, he didn’t allow a pressure against Pittsburgh and has yet to allow a sack or quarterback hit this season. The right tackle spot should be his with James Hurst potentially moving to left guard when healthy.

6. Matthew Judon hasn’t taken the leap many predicted this season, but he registered Baltimore’s lone sack as well as two hits and two hurries against the Steelers, according to PFF. The Ravens need to see more of that with Terrell Suggs and Za’Darius Smith scheduled to hit free agency.

7. Like Drew Brees’ third-down completion while in the grasp of Jefferson in Week 7, I thought the defense forcing a three-and-out right after Alex Collins’ touchdown might be the turning point. Instead, a holding penalty, a sack, two passes short of the chains, and a punt quickly dashed that thought.

8. I don’t believe it was a coincidence that Jimmy Smith played better with Marlon Humphrey back in action and Wink Martindale once again rotating those two and Brandon Carr on the outside. The defense has certainly had its recent issues, but that luxury should still pay off down the stretch.

9. Those saying Jackson’s use is disrupting offensive rhythm received ammunition when he entered for a run of no gain immediately following Flacco strikes to Michael Crabtree and Chris Moore. If you want to run there, why not hand to Collins on an uptempo play instead of broadcasting what you’re doing?

10. Brandon Williams noted after the game that teams are approaching the Ravens defense differently and aren’t playing “actual football” by running so many sweeps and screens to take interior players like him out of the equation. There’s that whole “needing to adapt” theme popping up again.

11. Don’t look now, but the Ravens are on track to lead the NFL in passing attempts for the third time in the last four years. They also rank in the bottom five in yards per passing attempt for the fourth straight season. Jamal Lewis weeps.

12. Regardless of what happens over these next two months, I’ll maintain that John Harbaugh is a good football coach. However, he doesn’t do himself any favors with a rookie mistake like not using his timeouts ahead of the two-minute warning to conserve more clock.

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Ravens-Saints: Inactives and pre-game notes

Posted on 21 October 2018 by Luke Jones

BALTIMORE — The Ravens will be without three starters for Sunday’s meeting with New Orleans.

After suffering injuries late in the practice week, cornerback Marlon Humphrey (thigh) and right tackle James Hurst were both deactivated, joining starting left guard Alex Lewis (neck) after he had already been declared out on Friday. Those absences leave the Ravens with just four healthy cornerbacks and six active offensive linemen against the Saints, less-than-ideal developments against one of the NFC’s best teams.

Humphrey made an appearance on the field roughly 25 minutes before the inactives list was released Sunday afternoon, but he was only an observer while wearing a sweatsuit, making it clear he wasn’t preparing to play. His absence means veteran Jimmy Smith will make his first start of the season after playing on a rotational basis in the last two games. Smith will play opposite Brandon Carr on the outside with Tavon Young manning the nickel and Cyrus Jones serving as the fourth corner. Rookie cornerback Anthony Averett (hamstring) was deactivated for the fifth straight game after returning to practice on only a limited basis this week.

Hurst being scratched was surprising after the Ravens elected not to promote one of their three offensive linemen — Jermaine Eluemunor, Nico Siragusa, and Randin Crecelius — currently on the practice squad. Rookies Bradley Bozeman and Orlando Brown are expected to make their first NFL starts at left guard and right tackle, respectively, with Hroniss Grasu serving as the lone reserve lineman. Baltimore typically goes into every game with two active reserves for the offensive line, so an in-game injury or two could spark a major problem.

The Saints will have the services of right guard Larry Warford, who was listed as questionable on the final injury report with a back injury. New Orleans will be without left guard Andrus Peat, who was ruled out with a head injury on Friday.

New Orleans also deactivated reserve offensive tackle and former Towson University star Jermon Bushrod, who revealed this weekend that he’s mourning the death of his week-old daughter.

The Weather.com forecast calls for partly cloudy skies with temperatures in the low 50s. However, winds 15 to 25 miles per hour with occasional gusts approaching 40 miles per hour could create problems in the passing game. Winds are supposed to decrease as the game progresses.

Sunday’s referee is John Parry.

The Ravens are wearing their purple jerseys with purple pants — the first time we’ve seen this combination in a non-“Color Rush” capacity — while New Orleans dons white tops with black pants pants for Week 7.

Sunday marks the seventh all-time meeting between these teams with the Ravens holding a 5-1 advantage and a 3-1 record in Baltimore. Saints quarterback Drew Brees is just one touchdown pass away from the 500th of his career, but the future Hall of Famer is 0-4 in his career against the Ravens, the only NFL team he has never defeated.

Below are Sunday’s inactives:

BALTIMORE
CB Marlon Humphrey
OL James Hurst
CB Anthony Averett
G Alex Lewis
WR Jordan Lasley
DL Zach Sieler
QB Robert Griffin III

NEW ORLEANS
G Andrus Peat
OL Jermon Bushrod
OL Will Clapp
DB J.T. Gray
DE Trey Hendrickson
DL Mitch Loewen
DT Taylor Stallworth

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Humphrey questionable, Lewis out for Ravens against New Orleans

Posted on 19 October 2018 by Luke Jones

OWINGS MILLS, Md. — The Ravens will be without a starting offensive lineman and could be without one of their starting cornerbacks for Sunday’s much-anticipated meeting with New Orleans.

Left guard Alex Lewis was officially ruled out after missing practices all week with the neck injury sustained at Tennessee, but an unexpected concern is the status of cornerback Marlon Humphrey, who was designated as questionable on the final injury report. The 2017 first-round pick suffered what’s being labeled a thigh injury during Thursday’s practice and did not take part in Friday’s walk-through session that was closed to reporters.

Head coach John Harbaugh said Humphrey is receiving treatment and that the Ravens would “just see how it goes” in terms of whether he’ll be available to try to help slow Saints quarterback Drew Brees and the NFL’s top-ranked scoring offense. Of course, Baltimore would still have veteran cornerbacks Brandon Carr and Jimmy Smith to start on the outside with Tavon Young manning the nickel, but the luxury of rotating fresh players at every level has been a calling card for the league’s No. 1 scoring defense this season.

You’d rather not have to test that depth against one of the greatest quarterbacks in NFL history and the league’s third-ranked passing offense.

“We just don’t talk about that stuff,” Harbaugh said. “You just move on. If he’s there, he’s there. If he’s not, he’s not, and that’s how you do it. It’s not something you give too much thought to. That’s how the league works.”

Defensive coordinator Wink Martindale has distributed snaps among his top three outside corners since Smith returned from a four-game suspension two weeks ago. Should Humphrey not be able to play against the Saints, the Ravens would be one injury away from having a problem on the outside as rookie cornerback Anthony Averett is just returning from a long-term hamstring injury and only practiced on a limited basis this week. The 5-foot-9 Young played extensively as an outside corner as a rookie two years ago, but both he and the recently-acquired Cyrus Jones are more ideal at the nickel.

Pro Football Focus has graded Humphrey as the 18th-best cornerback in the NFL — and Baltimore’s best — so far this season.

Lewis’ absence was expected after he was carted off the field on a stretcher early in the fourth quarter of the 21-0 win over the Titans and later diagnosed with a pinched nerve, according to Harbaugh. What remains to be seen is how the Ravens approach their offensive line for Week 7 with starting right tackle James Hurst likely playing a pivotal role. Since Hurst hadn’t practiced at left guard — where he started last season — all last week, the Ravens chose not to disrupt two different line positions and simply inserted rookie Bradley Bozeman at left guard in place of Lewis.

With a full week to prepare, the Ravens may shift Hurst to left guard and start rookie third-round pick Orlando Brown Jr. at right tackle. Brown has played 37 offensive snaps this season and has occasionally served as a sixth offensive lineman in certain packages, but he played extensively as the first-team right tackle during the preseason and is considered the right tackle of the future.

“We’re not showing our hand. On the other side of the coin, it’s really not a big deal,” said Harbaugh, who was pleased with how both Brown and Bozeman practiced this week. “It’s really not a big deal. Guys get hurt for both teams. Guys play, guys don’t play, guys come back. It’s just part of the process.

“We’ve done well with injuries. We’ve been very blessed so far this year, and we’re not worried about that.”

(Update: On Saturday, Hurst was added to the injury report with a questionable designation because of a back issue, but the Ravens did not promote an extra offensive lineman to the 53-man roster, making it likely the veteran lineman will at least be active on Sunday.)

The Saints have placed wide receiver Ted Ginn Jr. (knee) on injured reserve and ruled out starting left guard Andrus Peat with a head injury. Starting right guard Larry Warford was listed as questionable with a back injury.

The Weather.com forecast for Sunday’s game in Baltimore calls for sunny skies and temperatures reaching the mid-50s, but winds 15 to 25 miles per hour could create problems for both passing games.

Returning to M&T Bank Stadium after playing four of their first six games on the road, the 4-2 Ravens will now reap the benefits of playing four of their next five at home. However, the next three opponents — New Orleans, Carolina, and Pittsburgh — all made the playoffs last season while their first post-bye game will be against Cincinnati, who is tied with the Ravens for first place in the AFC North.

“It’s a good place to be. The challenge is they’re all really good teams, and that’s how the NFL works,” Harbaugh said. “Wouldn’t rather have them anywhere else — that’s for sure — than with our fans and in our stadium here in Baltimore.”

Below is the final injury report of the week:

BALTIMORE
OUT: G Alex Lewis (neck)
QUESTIONABLE: CB Anthony Averett (hamstring), CB Marlon Humphrey (thigh), DB Anthony Levine (hamstring)

NEW ORLEANS
OUT: G Andrus Peat (head), DT Taylor Stallworth (ankle)
QUESTIONABLE: OL Jermon Bushrod (non-injury), G Larry Warford (back)

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Cornerback Humphrey limited during Thursday’s Ravens practice

Posted on 18 October 2018 by Luke Jones

OWINGS MILLS, Md. — Preparing to face one of the best passing games in the NFL in Week 7, the Ravens added starting cornerback Marlon Humphrey to their injury report on Thursday.

The 2017 first-round pick was listed as a limited participant with a thigh issue, making it unclear whether he sustained an injury during practice or if it’s something with which he was already dealing. Humphrey’s status will come into better focus on Friday when the Ravens conduct their final practice ahead of their meeting with New Orleans. Slot cornerback Tavon Young missed last Thursday’s practice with a hip issue before practicing the next day and playing without any apparent limitations against Tennessee.

Even if Humphrey’s availability were to be in doubt, the Ravens would simply turn to Jimmy Smith, who has played 62 snaps in a rotational capacity in each of the last two games. Smith was suspended for the first four games of the season and is coming back from a torn Achilles tendon sustained last December.

“He’s starting to play. He’s getting used to playing again in the second week, and you can see it,” defensive coordinator Wink Martindale said. “We didn’t play that many plays, but he was doing some things really well and receivers were having a hard time getting off the line of scrimmage. It was fun to see.”

As expected, veteran cornerback Brandon Carr practiced fully after sitting out the previous day. He has missed the last four Wednesday practices with what’s listed as a knee issue, so there had been no real concern regarding his availability to play against the Saints.

Left guard Alex Lewis remains sidelined with a neck injury that appears likely to keep him sidelined for Sunday’s game. Rookie right tackle Orlando Brown says he’s prepared to play should the Ravens elect to place him in the starting lineup while moving veteran James Hurst over to left guard. Rookie Bradley Bozeman is another option to start at left guard after he filled in for Lewis in the fourth quarter of last Sunday’s win over the Titans.

“I’m just approaching it like I approach every other week,” said Brown, a third-round pick in April’s draft. “I don’t know what the coaches plan to do. They know I’m ready, so I’m just going to continue to work this week and develop my game.”

Both of the Saints’ starting guards sat out Thursday’s workout as Andrus Peat (head) had practiced on a limited basis the previous day and Larry Warford (back) was a new addition to the injury report.

Below is Thursday’s full injury report:

BALTIMORE
DID NOT PARTICIPATE: G Alex Lewis (neck)
LIMITED PARTICIPATION: CB Anthony Averett (hamstring), CB Marlon Humphrey (thigh), DB Anthony Levine (hamstring)
FULL PARTICIPATION: WR John Brown (non-injury), CB Brandon Carr (knee), , S Eric Weddle (non-injury)

NEW ORLEANS
DID NOT PARTICIPATE: OL Jermon Bushrod (non-injury), WR Ted Ginn Jr. (knee), G Andrus Peat (head), DT Taylor Stallworth (ankle), G Larry Warford (back)
FULL PARTICIPATION: OT Terron Armstead (knee), CB Marshon Lattimore (concussion), WR Cameron Meredith (knee)

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Ravens may need to shuffle offensive line for Week 7

Posted on 17 October 2018 by Luke Jones

OWINGS MILLS, Md. — Preparing for their most challenging matchup of the season to date, the Ravens could debut a new offensive line combination for Sunday’s tilt against New Orleans.

With left guard Alex Lewis sidelined from Wednesday’s practice while recovering from a neck injury suffered in the Week 6 win at Tennessee, the Ravens will weigh their options while still hoping he makes enough improvement to play against the Saints. It’s a possibility head coach John Harbaugh didn’t rule out at the beginning of the week, but the Ravens will be cautious with Lewis’ health.

“I guess I would label it, for lack of a better term and to go back to an old term, [to] be a pinched nerve,” Harbaugh said. “That just kind of heals. That can heal like that (snaps fingers) or it can take a little bit of time, so he’s really day-to-day is really the best way to describe it with that kind of injury.”

Should Lewis not play, the Ravens could choose to move right tackle James Hurst to left guard — the position he played in place of the injured Lewis last season — and start rookie third-round pick Orlando Brown Jr. at Hurst’s current spot. Brown received most of the reps as the first-team right tackle in training camp and the preseason while Hurst filled in at right guard for six-time Pro Bowl selection Marshal Yanda, who was working his way back from offseason shoulder surgery, but the Ravens have gone with the more experienced option through the first six weeks of the regular season.

Rather than disrupt two positions early in the fourth quarter of Sunday’s game after Lewis was carted off the field on a stretcher, the Ravens kept Hurst at right tackle and inserted rookie sixth-round pick Bradley Bozeman at left guard to finish off a 21-0 win.

“He was prepared to play the left guard spot, and James was practicing the right tackle spot the whole time,” Harbaugh said after Sunday’s game. “We could do it the other way too if we had to, but that’s the way that [offensive line coach Joe D’Alessandris] wanted to do it.”

Cornerback Brandon Carr was the only other Baltimore player to miss Wednesday’s practice for a health-related reason, but this is the fourth straight week he’s received a practice day off for a knee issue, removing doubt about his availability for Sunday’s game. Cornerback Anthony Averett made his return to practice after missing the last four games with a hamstring injury.

Returning from their Week 6 bye, the Saints held out wide receiver Ted Ginn Jr. (knee) from Wednesday’s practice. Left tackle Terron Armstead (knee) and wide receiver Cameron Meredith (knee) were limited participants.

Below is Wednesday’s full injury report:

BALTIMORE
DID NOT PARTICIPATE: WR John Brown (non-injury), CB Brandon Carr (knee), G Alex Lewis (neck), S Eric Weddle (non-injury)
LIMITED PARTICIPATION: CB Anthony Averett (hamstring), DB Anthony Levine (hamstring)

NEW ORLEANS
DID NOT PARTICIPATE: WR Ted Ginn Jr. (knee), DT Taylor Stallworth (ankle)
LIMITED PARTICIPATION: OT Terron Armstead (knee), G Andrus Peat (head), WR Cameron Meredith (knee)
FULL PARTICIPATION: CB Marshon Lattimore (concussion)

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Ravens guard Lewis leaves Sunday’s game with neck injury

Posted on 14 October 2018 by Luke Jones

Excitement from the Ravens’ 21-0 win over Tennessee was tempered by the neck injury sustained by starting left guard Alex Lewis.

Lewis was carted off the field on a stretcher after a collision with Titans linebacker Sharif Finch on the third play of the fourth quarter. The 2016 fourth-round pick initially remained on his feet upon making the block before eventually going to the ground and being cared for by both teams’ medical staffs.

Making his 14th career NFL start, the 26-year-old Lewis was taken to a local hospital and underwent a CT scan before being released and allowed to travel home with his team on Sunday night. The Ravens said he had feeling and movement in all of his extremities and would undergo further testing in Baltimore on Monday.

“So far, so good,” head coach John Harbaugh said in his post-game press conference. “There’s a lot of optimism.”

Lewis missed the entire 2017 season after undergoing shoulder surgery early in training camp. He was replaced by rookie Bradley Bozeman at left guard Sunday as the Ravens closed out the shutout victory to improve to 4-2, their best start after six games since the 2014 season.

Should Lewis miss more time, the Ravens could elect to move starting right tackle James Hurst to left guard — the position he played last season — and move rookie Orlando Brown Jr. into the starting lineup at right tackle.

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Mosley’s potential absence will be difficult for Ravens to endure

Posted on 15 September 2018 by Luke Jones

The Ravens’ biggest loss wasn’t on the scoreboard Thursday night.

The 34-23 defeat to Cincinnati was surely disappointing, but the absence of three-time Pro Bowl inside linebacker C.J. Mosley could bring bigger consequences than a divisional defeat. It remains unclear how much time he’ll miss after sustaining a bone bruise in his left knee on the first defensive series of the game.

After Mosley limped off the field at the conclusion of that initial three-and-out for the Baltimore defense, the Bengals scored touchdowns on their next four possessions as former undrafted free agent Patrick Onwuasor and rookie Kenny Young manned the inside linebacker spots.

“That’s your middle linebacker. We’ve got two young guys in there playing,” head coach John Harbaugh said. “They played hard, they fought, but they didn’t play perfect. That’s going to hurt you for sure. It hurt us with the coverage underneath mostly, a little bit in the run game.”

Young, a fourth-round pick from UCLA, has impressed early and looked poised to wrest the starting job away from Onwuasor sooner than later, but both lack experience. Depending on how much time Mosley is expected to miss, the Ravens could re-sign veteran Albert McClellan or add another linebacker with experience. They could also use more sub packages featuring safety Tony Jefferson or dime back Anthony Levine in the box, but the complications run deeper than simply replacing Mosley’s play.

One of the much-discussed developments of the offseason was new defensive coordinator Wink Martindale giving more pre-snap responsibility to veterans like Mosley, safety Eric Weddle, and outside linebacker Terrell Suggs to adjust defensive alignments, blitzes, and coverages based on what the opponent shows them at the line of scrimmage. It certainly makes sense to take advantage of players’ wisdom, but there was always the question of how an in-game injury might impact that process.

More than one veteran in the post-game locker room acknowledged some on-field confusion after Mosley’s exit as Onwuasor relayed calls in the defensive huddle from the sideline for the rest of the first half. Safety Eric Weddle took over the role in the third quarter as the defense seemed to find its footing and allowed only six more points.

“It’s not an excuse why we lost,” said Weddle, who also relayed defensive calls in the huddle at times when he played for San Diego. “When you play like crap in the first half in all three phases, then that’s just going to happen. You dig yourself a hole. Hopefully, C.J. won’t be out too long, but we battled back and fought our tails off in the second half. It’s too far of a hole when you don’t play the way you’re supposed to play.”

The only extended action Mosley has missed in his NFL career was due to a hamstring injury in 2016. He sustained the injury in the second half of a Week 5 loss to Washington and missed the next two games, which were losses to the New York Giants and the New York Jets.

Stanley also ailing

Mosley wasn’t the only key player to leave Thursday’s game as left tackle Ronnie Stanley went to the sideline with 2:18 to play and didn’t return.

Stanley said he was “fine” after the game, but he wouldn’t discuss what happened or whether he would miss any time, deferring injury questions to Harbaugh. He appeared to grab his right arm after trying to block Bengals defensive tackle Geno Atkins on a Joe Flacco incomplete pass to Buck Allen, and NFL Network’s field microphone also picked up a player screaming at the same time.

Starting right tackle James Hurst moved to left tackle for the final 12 plays of the game with rookie Orlando Brown Jr. entering on the right side. Stanley looked to be favoring his right arm on the sideline as well as in the post-game locker room, but the lack of extensive medical attention after his departure and his availability to reporters after the game are signs that the injury may not be serious.

According to NFL Network, the Ravens worked out interior offensive linemen Wesley Johnson, Hroniss Grasu, and Jordan Morgan on Saturday to address their concerns inside, so they can hardly afford to be without their starting left tackle for any amount of time.

Road woes continue

Since their 2014 postseason win over Ben Roethlisberger in Pittsburgh, the Ravens have gone 8-17 in regular-season away games.

Those road wins have come against the following starting quarterbacks: Michael Vick in his final season, Josh McCown (twice), Blake Bortles, Andy Dalton, EJ Manuel, Brett Hundley, and DeShone Kizer. You never apologize for the level of competition you face as injuries are part of the game, but when Dalton is the best signal-caller the Ravens have beaten in over three years and he’s won five of the last six meetings against them in Cincinnati, they can’t exactly claim to be road warriors anytime soon.

The Ravens are scheduled to face Roethlisberger, Tyrod Taylor, Marcus Mariota, Cam Newton, Matt Ryan, Patrick Mahomes, and Philip Rivers in their seven remaining road games. Five of those quarterbacks have been to Pro Bowls.

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Ravens-Dolphins preseason primer: Five players to watch

Posted on 24 August 2018 by Luke Jones

Saturday brings what is traditionally viewed as the final tuneup before the start of the regular season, but it may not turn out that way for at least a few key members of the Ravens.

With as many as three possible starters on the offensive line potentially sitting out against Miami, two rookies — Greg Senat and Orlando Brown Jr. — could be manning the first-team offensive tackle spots against Dolphins defensive ends Cameron Wake and Robert Quinn, who combined for 19 sacks last season and have an impressive total of 154 1/2 in their careers. Starting left tackle Ronnie Stanley and versatile offensive lineman James Hurst — who has served as the backup left tackle in past seasons — are not expected to play, begging the question whether starting quarterback Joe Flacco should even suit up if the inexperienced Senat is protecting the blindside.

Flacco has played only 31 snaps in the preseason, but he’s performed well in two games, completing 12 of 16 passes for 143 yards and two touchdowns for a passer rating of 141.4. By all accounts, the 33-year-old is healthy and has had an excellent spring and summer, making you wonder if exposing him to a patchwork offensive line is worth the risk so close to the Sept. 9 opener against Buffalo.

“We’ll see. It’s just going to really depend on how much Joe needs,” head coach John Harbaugh said. “I’m confident in the guys we’ll put out there that they can protect Joe, and I’m confident that we can run schemes that will protect him. They have two really good pass-rushing ends obviously, and we have to make sure that we keep those guys under control, no matter who’s the quarterback.”

After such a seamless start to the summer, the Ravens officially learned this week they will be without top cornerback Jimmy Smith and first-round rookie tight end Hayden Hurst to begin the season, significant blows to both sides of the ball. Saturday will offer defensive coordinator Wink Martindale his best opportunity to see what the secondary will look like for the season opener as veteran Brandon Carr and 2017 first-round pick Marlon Humphrey will handle the starting outside spots while Smith serves his four-game ban for violating the NFL’s personal conduct policy. Hurst’s absence certainly hurts a tight end group that combined to make only 43 receptions in the NFL last season.

Of course, those absences to begin the season will impact roster decisions as general manager Ozzie Newsome and Harbaugh must formulate the initial 53-man squad next Saturday.

The Ravens have the additional challenge of a quick turnaround coming off a Monday night win in Indianapolis.

“I told the guys this is great preparation for the season because we’re going to have an oddball start to the season,” said Harbaugh, referencing the Week 2 trip to Cincinnati just four days after the opener. “We’re going to play Sunday-Thursday right out of the gate. Wow, what a great opportunity to prepare for that. We got just what we needed is the way we’re looking at it.”

Saturday marks the second time the Ravens and the Dolphins will face off in the preseason with Baltimore winning the only other exhibition encounter last year. Baltimore leads the all-time regular-season series by a 7-6 margin and has won both postseason meetings, but this year will mark the first time since 2012 these teams won’t meet in the regular season.

The Ravens own a 31-12 record in preseason games under Harbaugh and have won 11 straight exhibition contests.

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 one would look like if it were to be released ahead of Saturday’s game.

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 include any veteran starters who could be held out due to the coaching staff’s preference.

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

OUT: TE Hayden Hurst (foot), OT Ronnie Stanley (knee), LB Bam Bradley (knee), CB Jaylen Hill (knee), WR Quincy Adeboyejo (quadriceps)
DOUBTFUL: CB Maurice Canady (muscle strain), OL James Hurst, LB Alvin Jones
QUESTIONABLE: RB Kenneth Dixon (hamstring), TE Mark Andrews (hamstring), G Marshal Yanda (shoulder/ankle), S Bennett Jackson

Five players to watch Saturday night

WR Jaleel Scott

Past disappointing fourth-round picks such as Ron Johnson, P.J. Daniels, and Christian Thompson were never in real danger of being cut as rookies, but Scott saw only three offensive snaps against Indianapolis and dropped a pass in that limited playing time, making you wonder if he’s really even on the bubble at this point. He’ll need a strong finish to the preseason to avoid a dubious distinction, but the Ravens could still attempt to stash him on injured reserve or at least get him to the practice squad if he clears waivers.

CB Stanley Jean-Baptiste

Previously a long shot to make the team with six cornerbacks ahead of him in the pecking order, Jean-Baptiste now finds himself on the bubble with Smith going to the reserve-suspended list to start the season and Maurice Canady currently banged up. The 2014 second-round pick is with his sixth different organization as he’s been talented enough for teams to sign and too inconsistent to stick anywhere for long. His solid performance against the Colts included an interception and looks more important now.

OT Greg Senat

A former basketball player at Wagner, the 6-foot-6, 305-pound Senat is a raw prospect who could dramatically enhance his chances of making the 53-man roster with a good performance against the Dolphins. Both James Hurst and Alex Lewis have struggled in past stints as the reserve left tackle, so Senat holding his own with the first team would be an encouraging sign for the present and future.

DE Zach Sieler

The seventh-round pick from Ferris State received ample playing time beginning in the first half of the Colts game, a good indication of where he stands in his attempt to win a roster spot. Veterans Brent Urban and Carl Davis are not under contract beyond this season while Chris Wormley is the only other 5-technique defensive end who’s safely on the roster, making it more likely that Sieler makes the team.

TE Darren Waller

I didn’t like Waller’s chances a couple weeks ago as he returned from a one-year drug suspension, but the Hayden Hurst injury and an underwhelming wide receiver competition have created the opportunity for him to potentially take a spot. Formerly a wide receiver, Waller has a 6-foot-6, 255-pound frame that could be utilized in the red zone and as a bigger slot option, but can the organization really trust him?

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