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Ravens, Green Bay providing interesting contrast to start of offseason

Posted on 05 January 2018 by Luke Jones

The Ravens are again preaching continuity after missing the playoffs for the fourth time in five years, but a contemporary with an even better track record over the last decade is proceeding quite differently.

If any team had an excuse for missing the playoffs in 2017, it was probably Green Bay after six-time Pro Bowl quarterback Aaron Rodgers missed over half of the season with a broken collarbone. The Packers fared exactly how you’d expect with backup Brett Hundley under center as the Ravens even contributed to that misery with a 23-0 shutout victory at Lambeau Field in Week 11. But that hasn’t stopped Green Bay from making substantial changes after missing the playoffs for the first time since 2008.

In place as the general manager since 2005, Ted Thompson has stepped aside and will now serve in an advisory role. Head coach Mike McCarthy has fired both his offensive and defensive coordinators as well as his defensive line and inside linebackers coaches. The Packers also allowed their quarterbacks coach’s contract to expire after Hundley wasn’t up to the task of filling in for Rodgers.

Of course, every situation is unique and can be driven by factors other than the results on the field, but it’s a substantial shakeup for the Packers, who had been tied with New England for the longest active playoff appearance streak in the NFL at eight consecutive seasons. This is a team coming off an appearance in last year’s NFC Championship, so it’s more than fair to argue this being an overreaction when you lose one of the best quarterbacks in the league.

Regardless, it’s an interesting contrast from Ravens head coach John Harbaugh defending offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg and the rest of his offensive staff by citing quarterback Joe Flacco missing all of training camp with a back injury and starting guards Alex Lewis and Marshal Yanda being lost for the season. No one would compare Flacco’s impact to that of a future Hall of Fame quarterback, but the Ravens did have their franchise signal-caller available for all 16 games — even at less than 100 percent. And while there’s no understating the Week 2 loss of a six-time Pro Bowl right guard for the remainder of the year, Green Bay also dealt with a number of injuries on its offensive line this season.

One approach isn’t necessarily more correct than the other as time will tell whether these teams who have both won a Super Bowl in the last eight years will get back on track, but the Packers are certainly being aggressive trying to address their 2017 failures after a 7-9 finish while the Ravens have so far only been tasked with replacing their defensive coordinator after Dean Pees’ retirement. The juxtaposition of those two reactions to missing the playoffs will be interesting to monitor in 2018.

Jimmy Smith ready for start of next season?

It’s been just over a month since veteran cornerback Jimmy Smith suffered a torn Achilles tendon, leaving his status for the start of the 2018 season up in the air.

In the midst of the best campaign of his career at the time of the injury, Smith missed the final four contests and also served a four-game ban for violating the NFL’s policy on performance-enhancing substances. It marked the fifth time in seven years that the 2011 first-round pick played no more than 12 games, making many understandably skeptical that he’ll be ready for Week 1 in September.

“You saw how fast [Terrell Suggs] came back from his,” said Harbaugh, referencing his remarkable 2012 return from an Achilles tear in under six months. “Then, there’s always a building back to your skill set, too, so we understand that. If you do the math, eight months [to recover would] be September for Jimmy. That’s conservative; it’s really a little more than that.

“We’ll see where he’s at. I’m hopeful, but we’ll have a bunch of corners here, too, to make sure that we have enough corners.”

Smith’s injury could open the door for veteran Brandon Carr to remain in Baltimore. The 31-year-old struggled down the stretch, but he has never missed a game in his career and cutting him would leave the youthful trio of Marlon Humphrey, Tavon Young, and Maurice Canady atop the depth chart until Smith is ready to return.

Releasing Carr would save $4 million in salary cap space for the 2018 season.

Infirmary report

Harbaugh said he will likely hold Yanda out until training camp, but the 33-year-old will be ready to go before then and is “already moving and doing some things” after suffering a season-ending ankle injury on Sept. 17.

According to the coach, Lewis (shoulder), Young (knee), and running back Kenneth Dixon (knee) will be ready for the start of the offseason conditioning program in April while linebacker Albert McClellan (knee) should be ready to return by the start of training camp. Rookie wide receiver Tim White has been 100 percent for roughly the last six weeks after suffering a serious thumb injury in the first preseason game. Defensive end Brent Urban (foot) will also be ready by the spring, but he is scheduled to become an unrestricted free agent in March.

Harbaugh said he hasn’t had any contact with tight end Darren Waller, who was suspended for a year for violating the league’s substance-abuse policy in June.

Young backup for Flacco

Harbaugh acknowledged the possibility of the Ravens drafting a young quarterback this spring.

Flacco will turn 33 later this month and has been hampered by knee and back injuries over the last three seasons and sustained a concussion in Week 8. He is under contract through the 2021 season, but the Super Bowl XLVII MVP is coming off one of the more trying seasons of his 10-year career. Backup Ryan Mallett has served as his backup for the last two seasons and struggled this past preseason, leading many to clamor for the Ravens to draft a quarterback with some long-term upside.

“It’s something that we will talking about for sure,” Harbaugh said. “Every position, certain positions are going to be more important than others, but when you have a veteran quarterback at this stage, that is the time you are always looking for a young backup. I don’t think that jeopardizes Joe at all. He is our guy, and I am excited about our chances next year having a great season, and Joe is too.

“If we draft a quarterback, if it turns out to be the thing we do, it is only going to make our team stronger.”

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Twelve Ravens thoughts following 23-0 win over Green Bay

Posted on 21 November 2017 by Luke Jones

With the Ravens getting back to the .500 mark with a 23-0 victory at Green Bay, I’ve offered a dozen thoughts, each in 50 words or less:

1. Sunday marked the third time in 2017 that the Ravens defense has forced five turnovers in a game. That’s quite a change from two years ago when the group ranked 30th in the NFL with 14 takeaways for the entire season.

2. Jimmy Smith intercepting a pass in the end zone on the opening drive was the latest example why the cornerback has been the team MVP. You wonder how different this one might have been if the Packers finished that drive with a touchdown or at least a field goal.

3. The offense coming away with a total of three points off three turnovers on the Packers’ first three possessions sure doesn’t say much for the work put in by Marty Mornhinweg’s side of the ball during the bye week.

4. Brett Hundley was awful for Green Bay, but credit the Ravens defense for confusing the inexperienced quarterback with an abundance of looks. Eight different defensive backs played 18 or more snaps as defensive coordinator Dean Pees employed various sub packages.

5. Whether rushing the passer, setting the edge, or dropping into coverage, Matt Judon is steadily improving and was arguably the best player on the field with two sacks and a forced fumble. His development is encouraging with the still-dependable Terrell Suggs now 35.

6. Joe Flacco had an OK day despite being under duress, but his interception on a pass intended for Danny Woodhead was baffling. He wasn’t pressured on the throw, and at no point did Woodhead separate from Pro Bowl safety Ha Ha Clinton-Dix. That can’t happen when approaching the red zone.

7. It was refreshing to see Mike Wallace grab a one-handed touchdown for a quarterback who hasn’t gotten enough help from his receivers. This isn’t the Big 12 where you can expect to get open with no one within 10 yards in coverage. Contested catches are a must to be successful.

8. Willie Henry is rapidly becoming a big part of sub packages as an interior rusher and even dropped into zone coverage on at least one occasion against the Packers. It’s crazy to think how important he’s become to the rotation when many wondered if he’d even make the 53-man roster.

9. Yes, Flacco should have been granted a timeout on the play, but Ryan Jensen still can’t snap the ball three feet over the quarterback’s head to torpedo a promising drive. The center has enjoyed a breakout season, but his shotgun snapping was also shaky in Tennessee.

10. We may have witnessed the changing of the guard as Marlon Humphrey replaced Brandon Carr as a starting cornerback in the first half. It’s a good problem to have as Carr has played admirably, but it grows more difficult every week to keep the rookie first-round pick off the field.

11. Much focus was on James Hurst’s problems replacing Ronnie Stanley, but Austin Howard also had real difficulty against the Packers. He isn’t listed on the injury report, but he’s recently been wearing a harness on his left shoulder and hasn’t looked 100 percent. That’s something to monitor.

12. Anyone dismissing the defense’s accomplishments because of the poor quarterbacks they’ve faced this season should note that the 2000 Ravens’ four shutouts came against Kent Graham, Scott Mitchell, Tim Couch, and a broken-down Troy Aikman in his final season. Regardless of the opponent, give this 2017 unit credit.

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Ravens may not be pretty, but playoff hopes looking bright

Posted on 21 November 2017 by Luke Jones

OWINGS MILLS, Md. — The Ravens aren’t a pretty football team.

You’d be hard-pressed to argue that they’re good as they own a mediocre 5-5 record, haven’t won back-to-back games in over two months, and rank 13th in the AFC in strength of victory, a reflection of not owning a single win against a team currently sporting a winning record. Having one of the worst offenses in the NFL certainly doesn’t help the overall perception — or make it any easier to win football games.

But here the Ravens stand holding the final wild-card spot in the AFC playoff picture entering Thanksgiving. And a look around the rest of the conference leaves you doubting the capabilities of any others in the “second division” to seriously challenge for that No. 6 seed.

“Win, and it will take care of itself,” said head coach John Harbaugh, whose team plays only two more opponents currently holding winning records the rest of the way. “It’s not like we don’t know what’s happening. We certainly know who does what.”

While their remaining schedule and the ineptitude of other so-called wild-card contenders might be the biggest factors working in the Ravens’ favor entering the final stretch, their defense is certainly playing at a playoff-caliber level after recording its third shutout of the year in Green Bay. No matter who the opposing quarterback is, that’s not a feat to be taken lightly, especially on the road.

The Ravens lead the NFL with 16 interceptions and are tied for first in takeaways (23) with Jacksonville. Their second-ranked pass defense is allowing the fewest passing yards per game by a Baltimore unit since 2008. And though the run defense still ranks only 17th in yards per carry allowed, the Ravens have surrendered only 2.94 yards per rushing attempt over the last three games as Brandon Williams has settled back in as the anchor of the defensive line after his four-game absence.

The defense continues to chase consistency — the final touchdown surrendered at Tennessee is a recent exhibit of that — but ranking sixth in the league in yards allowed and third in points surrendered makes a pretty strong case that the group is peaking at the right time and can carry the offense-challenged Ravens to the postseason for the first time in three years. The three shutouts are one shy of the four recorded by the 2000 Ravens, regarded by many as one of the greatest defenses of all time.

“It don’t mean s–t if we don’t make the playoffs,” linebacker Terrell Suggs said. “It’s good, but if we don’t get in [the playoffs], you all won’t even remember them. It’s a good thing to build on, but we’ve got to keep going. We’ve got to keep getting these wins.”

Continuing to win would be easier if the league’s 31st-ranked offense can show any semblance of improvement down the stretch. Despite the five-turnover, six-sack output from the defense against the Packers, the Ravens compiled just 219 yards on 57 offensive plays, finished 3-for-14 on third down, and managed only three points off three first-half turnovers at Lambeau Field.

Even without left tackle Ronnie Stanley in the lineup, that’s just not good enough if the Ravens have any visions of making a meaningful playoff run. They must rediscover their running game after averaging less than 3.4 yards per carry in three of their last four games, and it’s going to take much more than the return of running back Danny Woodhead for this passing game to be considered even mediocre.

The defense might be strong enough to carry the Ravens to victory in any of their six remaining games, but the offense is also inept enough to lose each of those contests, making these final six weeks all the more unsettling despite the favorable circumstances.

You can’t and shouldn’t blame quarterback Joe Flacco for all of the offensive struggles, but now would be the time for something more closely resembling “January Joe” to start getting revved up with December rapidly approaching. Even with the many variables working against him, Flacco must be better.

Their third road win of the season and a very favorable environment in the AFC have established the Ravens as clear-cut playoff contenders, but they still have a long way to go to prove they can be any sort of a viable threat to make noise if left standing in January.

Their circumstances for a playoff push may be pretty, but the Ravens certainly aren’t.

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Ravens-Packers: Inactives and pre-game notes

Posted on 19 November 2017 by Luke Jones

GREEN BAY, Wis. — A disappointing NFL career hit a new low for Ravens wide receiver Breshad Perriman on Sunday.

The 2015 first-round pick is a healthy inactive as Baltimore comes off its bye week to play Green Bay. Perriman has just seven catches on 26 targets this season and struggled mightily against Tennessee in Week 9, failing to high-point two deep shots — one of them leading to an interception — and dropping another pass in the 23-20 loss to the Titans.

The returning Michael Campanaro (shoulder) essentially takes Perriman’s game-day spot, giving the Ravens four active wide receivers against the Packers. The activation of running back Danny Woodhead will give quarterback Joe Flacco another viable option in the passing game.

As anticipated when he was listed as doubtful on the final injury report released Friday, starting left tackle Ronnie Stanley is officially out as he continues to recover from a concussion sustained in Week 9. His absence means starting left guard James Hurst will move outside to left tackle with reserve Luke Bowanko moving into the vacated sport, an unsettling development for a road game.

Despite practicing fully all week and seemingly being over his calf injury, running back Terrance West is inactive for the fifth straight game. His lack of special-teams contributions and the surprising emergence of Alex Collins have clearly changed his standing on the roster.

Defensive ends Chris Wormley and Bronson Kaufusi are both inactive as the Ravens elected to have an extra edge rusher active in the returning Tim Williams. The rookie third-round pick had missed four straight games with a hamstring injury, but he practiced fully all week.

Meanwhile, the banged-up Packers will be without second-round rookie cornerback Kevin King as well as running backs Aaron Jones (knee) and Ty Montgomery (ribs), who were officially declared out on Friday. Green Bay will also be without versatile safety Morgan Burnett as he continues to recover from a groin injury.

Sunday’s referee is Jeff Triplette.

According to Weather.com, the Sunday forecast in Green Bay calls for partly cloudy skies and temperatures in the low 30s with winds up to 14 miles per hour and no chance of precipitation.

The Ravens are wearing white jerseys and white pants while Green Bay dons its throwback uniforms that include navy and gold jerseys and tan pants.

Sunday marks the first time since 2013 that these teams have played with the Packers owning the 4-1 all-time advantage. The Ravens are seeking their first ever win at Lambeau Field in their fourth trip to Green Bay.

Below are Sunday’s inactives:

BALTIMORE
WR Breshad Perriman
RB Terrance West
CB Jaylen Hill
OL Maurquice Shakir
OT Ronnie Stanley
DE Bronson Kaufusi
DE Chris Wormley

GREEN BAY
CB Kevin King
RB Aaron Jones
S Morgan Burnett
OL Adam Pankey
RB Ty Montgomery
DT Montravius Adams
LB Chris Odom

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Ravens-Packers: Five predictions for Sunday

Posted on 18 November 2017 by Luke Jones

Sunday presents an important opportunity for the Ravens as they make their first trip to Lambeau Field since 2009.

Many have labeled it a “must-win” game for a 4-5 team coming off its bye, but a simple look at the underwhelming AFC wild-card picture makes that notion hold less weight from a mathematical standpoint. Of course, the Ravens could certainly use a road win from a psychological standpoint as they try to get on a roll to both secure their first trip to the playoffs since 2014 and show they have the potential to morph into some semblance of a threat in January.

Baltimore couldn’t ask for a much better situation on the side of the Green Bay Packers, who continue to be without six-time Pro Bowl quarterback Aaron Rodgers and are now missing their top two running backs due to injuries. Versatile safety Morgan Burnett will also miss Sunday’s game for the Packers defense.

It’s time to go on the record as the Ravens try to get back to the .500 mark by securing their first ever win in Green Bay. The Packers have a 4-1 advantage in the all-time regular-season series and have won all three meetings in their home stadium.

Below are five predictions for Sunday:

1. Danny Woodhead will lead the Ravens in catches while Jeremy Maclin will be tops in receiving yards. The return of the diminutive Woodhead is a major headline, but part of me wonders if his presence could be somewhat counterproductive for a passing game needing to push it down the field more consistently. Meanwhile, Maclin is coming off his best game of the year and will have a favorable matchup against slot corner Damarious Randall. These two veterans will be key as a Ravens offense without Ronnie Stanley faces a defense ranking ninth in the NFL in yards per carry allowed.

2. Packers edge rushers Nick Perry and Clay Matthews will combine for two sacks and a forced fumble. The offensive line has been a house of cards that’s held up OK when the starting five are healthy, but it’s frequently fallen apart when less than 100 percent. That will hold true again with Stanley likely to miss Sunday’s game with a concussion. This group can’t afford to be without its best player, and James Hurst being Stanley’s likely replacement means a backup left tackle and backup left guard will be protecting Joe Flacco’s blindside. That’s a frightening proposition, especially on the road.

3. Tony Jefferson will grab his first interception as a Raven. Several defensive players were very complimentary of Packers backup Brett Hundley, but no one is buying the notion of him being the second coming of Rodgers. The third-year quarterback has shown some modest improvement, but he figures to continue relying on short passes, which should give Jefferson opportunities when playing closer to the line of scrimmage. The Ravens defense leads the NFL in interceptions and will grab one for the fourth consecutive game to assist an offense struggling to move the football.

4. Randall Cobb will have 75 total yards and a touchdown to lead the Green Bay offense. It’s been a quiet year for the slot receiver, but the absences of running backs Aaron Jones and Ty Montgomery will force Packers head coach Mike McCarthy to get creative with Cobb, who can line up virtually anywhere in a formation. It’ll be interesting to see how the Ravens defense accounts for him as Maurice Canady took away most of Lardarius Webb’s snaps at the nickel against Tennessee. With Baltimore’s outside corners being so strong this year, Cobb will be featured in the middle of the field.

5. The offense will once again hold the Ravens back in a 16-13 loss to the Packers. Green Bay has cracked the 20-point mark just once since Rodgers broke his collarbone in mid-October, and the Baltimore defense will do plenty to make life difficult for an inexperienced quarterback. However, the loss of Stanley is a major blow for an offense that hasn’t been productive enough even with the 2016 first-round pick in the lineup. Don’t believe the sentiment that the Ravens are “finished” if they drop to 4-6 since four of their last six games come at home against less-than-imposing teams, but a loss will surely reinforce major doubts about this team’s ability to stack wins and gain momentum for the stretch run.

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Woodhead activated, set to make return against Green Bay

Posted on 18 November 2017 by Luke Jones

After an impressive but all-too-brief Ravens debut in the 2017 opener, running back Danny Woodhead has been activated from injured reserve and is set to play against the Green Bay Packers on Sunday.

Signed to a three-year, $8.8 million contract in March to give quarterback Joe Flacco a boost in the short passing game, Woodhead re-injured his left hamstring on the first offensive drive of the season in Cincinnati on Sept. 10. He was placed on IR a few days later, but his three catches for 33 yards on only six snaps offered a glimpse of what the Ravens envision him adding to the NFL’s 32nd-ranked passing game.

Since entering the NFL in 2009, Woodhead is one of four players — Jamaal Charles, Matt Forte, and Darren Sproles being the others — to produce at least 15 rushing touchdowns and 15 receiving touchdowns.

“He just gives us a shot in the arm. He gives us some juice, some energy,” said safety Eric Weddle, who teamed with Woodhead for three seasons in San Diego. “He’s a guy that creates matchups, not only in the running game, but also in the passing game. It gives Joe another weapon when things may not be open. He can just always check it down or see the matchup.

“The thing with ‘Woody’ is there are not many linebackers or safeties in this league that can cover him. When you know you have that matchup, you get him the ball and let him work.”

Having averaged 9.4 yards per catch in a nine-year career that included stints with the New York Jets, New England, and the Chargers, Woodhead has been a difference-maker as a receiver out of the backfield, but injuries have taken their toll in recent years. The 32-year-old has missed 35 games over the last four seasons, a reason why the Ravens used extra caution in bringing him back from a hamstring injury first sustained during the preseason.

Third-year running back Buck Allen has primarily filled in for Woodhead in passing situations and currently leads the team with 39 receptions, but his 4.8 yards per catch average ranks last among 149 qualified players, according to ESPN. Woodhead is also considered to be an asset in pass protection, a skill that shouldn’t be overlooked as the offensive line is expected to be without starting left tackle Ronnie Stanley on Sunday.

Woodhead is the second Baltimore player to be activated from IR this season, joining cornerback Maurice Canady. The Ravens are not allowed to bring back any other players from IR for the remainder of the 2017 season.

To make room for Woodhead on the 53-man roster, the Ravens waived tight end Gavin Escobar, who was signed in late October and did not record a catch in two games.

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Stanley listed as doubtful for Sunday’s game in Green Bay

Posted on 17 November 2017 by Luke Jones

OWINGS MILLS, Md. — For the first time all season, the Ravens haven’t ruled out a single player on their final injury report of the week, but that wasn’t grounds for a celebratory feeling Friday.

Despite practicing all week on a limited basis, left tackle Ronnie Stanley was designated as doubtful to play in Sunday’s game at Green Bay. Head coach John Harbaugh confirmed Stanley sustained a concussion near the end of the Week 9 loss to Tennessee, but the 2016 first-round pick being on the practice field all week had been interpreted as a positive sign for his status.

Should Stanley miss his first game of the season — he missed four games as a rookie with a foot injury — Baltimore would presumably move James Hurst out to left tackle with either veteran Luke Bowanko or rookie Jermaine Eluemunor filling in at the left guard spot. It would be Hurst’s first start at left tackle since Oct. 2, 2016 against Oakland.

Stanley’s absence would give the Ravens their fourth different starting offensive line combination of the season, but that doesn’t include several other in-game adjustments due to injuries.

Cornerback Jimmy Smith (Achilles) headlines a list of six players officially designated as questionable to play against the Packers. Smith was the only Baltimore player to miss practices this week for an injury-related reason, but he was a limited participant on Friday and hasn’t missed a game all season despite dealing with Achilles tendinitis since early in the season.

Running back Danny Woodhead’s status remains in question, but he completed another week of practice and appears to have a solid chance to be activated from injured reserve. Since Woodhead is not currently on the 53-man roster, the Ravens haven’t been required to include him on the injury report.

He hasn’t played in a game since re-injuring his left hamstring on the first drive of the season opener on Sept. 10. Woodhead would become the second and final Ravens player to be permitted to return from IR this season after second-year cornerback Maurice Canady was activated earlier this month.

“He went through most of everything we did. I thought he looked pretty good,” said Harbaugh of Woodhead. “It’s just going to come down to the doctors and trainers making their decision. We have until Saturday [at 4 p.m.] to make that part of the decision, then really, we have until an hour and a half before the game to really determined whether he will be out there.

“We’re ready if he goes, and we’re ready if he doesn’t go.”

Tight end Nick Boyle (toe), wide receiver Michael Campanaro (shoulder), running back Terrance West (calf), and rookie outside linebacker Tim Williams (hamstring) were all listed as questionable after being full participants in practices all week. Campanaro missed the final two games before the bye while West and Williams have missed four consecutive contests apiece.

Meanwhile, the Packers officially ruled out starting running back Ty Montgomery (ribs) and starting safety Morgan Burnett (groin), two significant losses for Sunday. Rookie running back Jamaal Williams is expected to start against the Ravens with Montgomery and fellow rookie Aaron Jones (knee) currently sidelined.

Williams rushed for 67 yards on 20 carries in last week’s 23-16 win over Chicago.

“This kid from Brigham Young — he’s the real deal,” Harbaugh said. “He runs hard, he has [good] feet. I think he closed the game out for them last week in four-minute [offense], which is very impressive. We’re treating him like he’s Jim Taylor as far as we’re concerned.

“We have to be ready to stop the run. This is a good running team. These guys run the ball very well.”

According to Weather.com, the Sunday forecast in Green Bay calls for partly cloudy skies and temperatures reaching 32 degrees with winds 10 to 15 miles per hour.

Below is the final injury report of the week:

BALTIMORE
DOUBTFUL: OT Ronnie Stanley (concussion)
QUESTIONABLE: TE Nick Boyle (toe), WR Michael Campanaro (shoulder), S Chuck Clark (thigh), CB Jimmy Smith (Achilles), RB Terrance West (calf), LB Tim Williams (thigh)

GREEN BAY
OUT: OT Bryan Bulaga (knee), S Morgan Burnett (groin), RB Aaron Jones (knee), RB Ty Montgomery (ribs)
QUESTIONABLE: LB Ahmad Brooks (back), DT Quinton Dial (chest), CB Kevin King (shoulder), G Lucas Patrick (back)

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Woodhead working way toward return, Stanley limited with concussion

Posted on 15 November 2017 by Luke Jones

OWINGS MILLS, Md. — As anticipated during their bye week, the Ravens released their cleanest injury report in a long time Wednesday as they continue preparations for the Week 11 trip to Green Bay.

Much attention this week centers around a player not even listed on the report as running back Danny Woodhead remains on injured reserve while continuing to practice. It’s unclear whether the 32-year-old will be activated to play against the Packers, but the Ravens are itching to have the shifty back on the field for the first time since he re-injured his left hamstring on the first drive of the season on Sept. 10.

“I think you got a little taste of Danny the first week and what he can do,” said quarterback Joe Flacco, referencing his three catches on that opening drive in Cincinnati. “He’s also a guy that knows what he’s doing in [pass] protection and can give you a lot of things, obviously. We all know he’s a good athlete. He catches the ball out of backfield well and does a lot of those things.

“I know he’s out here working to get himself healthy and get himself going, so we’ll see.”

Signed to a three-year, $8.8 million contract at the start of free agency in March, Woodhead was expected to be a vital part of the short passing game that’s been high in volume but low in productivity this season. The ninth-year veteran has averaged 9.4 yards per reception in his career and has twice caught more than 75 passes in a season.

The Ravens have understandably been cautious with Woodhead, who originally injured the hamstring during the preseason and has now missed a whopping 35 games over his last four seasons with various injuries. A decision on his status must be made by next week when his 21-day window to practice expires.

Woodhead would need to be activated by 4 p.m. Saturday to be able to play this week. On Wednesday, he offered no clues on whether that would happen.

“I don’t know the odds. I stay in my lane, and I work hard,” Woodhead said. “Whenever an opportunity comes for me, then that’s the opportunity that comes.”

Left tackle Ronnie Stanley was surprisingly listed as a limited participant with a concussion. The 2016 first-round pick missed snaps in each of the last two games with a right shoulder issue, but it’s unknown if he suffered a concussion in the Week 9 loss at Tennessee or whether it possibly occurred during Wednesday’s padded practice.

For what it’s worth, Stanley was not on the field for the Ravens’ final offensive play against the Titans two weeks ago.

Tight end Nick Boyle was a full participant in Wednesday’s practice after missing the final game before the bye with a toe injury. Running back Terrance West (calf) and wide receiver Michael Campanaro (shoulder) also participated fully and appear primed to return after extended absences.

Cornerback Jimmy Smith (Achilles tendinitis) was the only player on the 53-man roster not to practice, but that wasn’t surprising since the veteran defensive back has routinely missed Wednesday practices since early October.

Meanwhile, the Packers held out running back Ty Montgomery, who continues to deal with sore ribs and is a question mark to play. Fellow running back Aaron Jones is expected to miss at least a few weeks with a knee injury suffered in last Sunday’s win over Chicago, leaving rookie Jamaal Williams as the favorite to start on Sunday.

Below is Wednesday’s full injury report:

BALTIMORE
DID NOT PARTICIPATE: CB Jimmy Smith (Achilles)
LIMITED PARTICIPATION: OT Ronnie Stanley (concussion)
FULL PARTICIPATION: TE Nick Boyle (toe), WR Michael Campanaro (shoulder), S Chuck Clark (thigh), RB Terrance West (calf), LB Tim Williams (thigh)

GREEN BAY
DID NOT PARTICIPATE: OT Bryan Bulaga (knee), S Morgan Burnett (groin), RB Aaron Jones (knee), RB Ty Montgomery (ribs)
LIMITED PARTICIPATION: LB Ahmad Brooks (back), CB Kevin King (shoulder), G Justin McCray (ankle), LB Nick Perry (foot)
FULL PARTICIPATION: DT Quinton Dial (chest), QB Brett Hundley (hamstring), LB Joe Thomas (ankle)

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Cobb deal puts Torrey Smith in prime position on open market

Posted on 08 March 2015 by Luke Jones

Saturday was a productive night for free-agent wide receiver Torrey Smith and brought the latest signal supporting his expected departure from the Ravens.

With the news of star wideout Randall Cobb agreeing to a four-year, $40 million contract to remain with the Green Bay Packers, Smith will only see the demand for his services rise around the league with a top free-agent receiver now off the board.  The 26-year-old Smith and Philadelphia wide receiver Jeremy Maclin are considered the top talents who will officially hit the market on 4 p.m. Tuesday for the start of free agency.

With Baltimore currently holding just $4.639 million in salary cap space, Smith is expected to find a home elsewhere with the San Francisco 49ers reportedly leading the race for the speedy receiver’s services. According to CBS Sports, the 2011 first-round pick turned down a five-year, $35 million contract prior to the 2014 season, a move that now looks wise despite a disappointing campaign in which he caught just 49 passes for 767 yards.

Despite both sides repeatedly expressing hope that they’d continue their relationship, the Ravens’ brass seemed to go out of its way to prepare fans for Smith’s departure late last month with owner Steve Bisciotti even taking a shot at the lucrative $60 million contract the Miami Dolphins gave wide receiver Mike Wallace two offseasons ago.

“Let’s be frank: Do you hope that Torrey doesn’t break the bank out in the open market so that we can get him for our number? That’s a hard thing to say,” Bisciotti said. “I care about the kid. I want him to maximize his earnings. At the same time, the more successful he is at doing that, the less success we have in retaining him. I don’t like to stand up here and say I’m rooting against the guy, but we’ve got to find a number.”

And that number is expected to be too rich with Cobb now off the market and a number of teams looking for an impact wide receiver in free agency.

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Ravens wearing all-black uniforms on Thanksgiving night

Posted on 26 November 2013 by Luke Jones

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OWINGS MILLS, Md. — Adding to the excitement of a crucial meeting with the Pittsburgh Steelers on Thanksgiving, the Ravens will wear their all-black uniforms for the nationally-televised game on Thursday night.

This marks the second straight season in which the Ravens will wear their alternate jerseys against the Steelers after they fell 23-20 to Pittsburgh on Dec. 2, 2012 while donning black jerseys with white pants. The Ravens wore their black jerseys with white pants in their Week 6 loss to the Green Bay Packers earlier this season.

Baltimore last wore black jerseys with black pants in a dominating win over the New York Giants to clinch their second straight AFC North title on Dec. 23, 2012.

After introducing the all-black look in 2004, the Ravens have gone 10-5 all-time when they wear black jerseys and are 7-2 under coach John Harbaugh. Baltimore is 6-3 when wearing black jerseys and black pants and hasn’t dropped a game in that uniform combination since the 2007 season.

The NFL allows teams to wear an alternate or throwback uniform for a maximum of two regular-season games every season.

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