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Kruger, McPhee questionable for Sunday’s game in Philadelphia

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Kruger, McPhee questionable for Sunday’s game in Philadelphia

Posted on 14 September 2012 by Luke Jones

OWINGS MILLS, Md. — Defensive end Pernell McPhee and linebacker Paul Kruger were listed as questionable for Sunday’s game against the Eagles after both practiced for the first time all week on Friday.

Both players worked on a limited basis as McPhee sported a bulky brace on his right knee and appeared to be limited as he went through positional drills during the portion of practice open to the media. The second-year defensive end said Thursday that he expects to play against the Eagles.

Kruger has dealt with a back injury stemming from Monday night’s win over the Cincinnati Bengals. He was one of the final players to walk out to the field and seemed to be moving fairly well as he went through individual drills. The fourth-year linebacker said he felt much better after practice.

“I’m hoping it loosens up even more before the game,” said Kruger, who expressed optimism for playing Sunday. “I’ve got a couple days left. I’ve got to keep the legs moving and loosen the back up. I’m just trying to stay on top of it and get it fully ready by Sunday.”

Should McPhee and Kruger be unable to play, it opens the door for third-year defensive lineman Arthur Jones to start at defensive end while rookie Courtney Upshaw would presumably get the start at the strongside linebacker position.

Coach John Harbaugh would not provide any information or thoughts regarding the status of either player as he reminded media of his instructions that discourage players from discussing injuries.

“I don’t really have any thought on it,” said Harbaugh when asked whether the two would be game-time decisions. “The buses will pull up at one o’clock. All of our guys will be there, they will get out of the bus, and then we’ll see what happens.”

Free safety Ed Reed (hamstring) was listed as probable after practicing for the third straight day. The 34-year-old indicated after Monday’s game he would be ready to play against Philadelphia and all signs point to that being the case barring an unforeseen setback.

Center Matt Birk (thight) was also listed as probable on the final injury report of the week and will play against the Eagles. Both he and Reed practiced fully on Friday.

Offensive lineman Jah Reid (calf) has been ruled out after observing practicing Friday but not working with the offensive linemen as he continues to rehab the same injury that’s plagued him since June’s mandatory minicamp.

Meanwhile, the Eagles received good news Friday as starting wide receivers DeSean Jackson (hamstring) and Jeremy Maclin (hip) practiced on a limited basis. Both were listed as questionable for Friday’s game, but Maclin told reporters he plans to play.

Per their official site, the Eagles will wear white jerseys on Sunday, meaning Baltimore will wear its purple jerseys on the road.

The referee for Sunday’s game is replacement official Robert Frazer, who worked the Bills-Jets game last Sunday.

The Ravens will conduct a walk-through Saturday morning before traveling to Philadelphia for their 1 p.m. game at Lincoln Financial Field on Sunday afternoon.

Here is the final injury report …

BALTIMORE
OUT: T Jah Reid (leg)
QUESTIONABLE: LB Paul Kruger (back), DE Pernell McPhee (knee)
PROBABLE: C Matt Birk (thigh), S Ed Reed (thigh)

PHILADELPHIA
OUT: WR Riley Cooper (collarbone)
QUESTIONABLE: WR DeSean Jackson (hamstring), WR Jeremy Maclin (hip), CB Curtis Marsh (hamstring)
PROBABLE: S Colt Anderson (knee), WR Jason Avant (wrist), S Kurt Coleman (facial lacerations)

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McPhee, Kruger still sidelined for Thursday’s practice

Posted on 13 September 2012 by Luke Jones

(Updated: 8:30 p.m.)

OWINGS MILLS, Md. — Practicing in helmets, shells, and shorts for the second straight day, the Ravens were once again without defensive end Pernell McPhee and strongside linebacker Paul Kruger.

Kruger is dealing with a back injury and appeared to be banged up in the locker room following the Ravens’ 44-13 win over Cincinnati on Monday night. McPhee is dealing with a right knee ailment but said in the locker room prior to Thursday’s practice that he was improving and wasn’t concerned with his status for Sunday’s game against the Eagles.

McPhee underwent arthroscopic surgery in the spring and missed much of the team’s organized team activities. He received a few periodic days off to rest the knee during training camp.

“I feel pretty good, I feel better,” McPhee said. “I expect to play Sunday.”

Veteran center Matt Birk returned to practice after sitting out Wednesday’s practice with a thigh injury. Free safety Ed Reed (hamstring) was suited up to practice for the second straight day after being listed as a limited participant on Wednesday.

Offensive lineman Jah Reid (calf) was present but wasn’t working with the rest of the offensive line during the opening portion of Thursday’s practice.

Here is Thursday’s official injury report …

BALTIMORE
DID NOT PARTICIPATE: LB Paul Kruger (back), DE Pernell McPhee (knee), T Jah Reid (leg)
LIMITED PARTICIPATION: C Matt Birk (thigh), S Ed Reed (thigh)

PHILADELPHIA
DID NOT PARTICIPATE: WR Jeremy Maclin (hip), WR Riley Cooper (collarbone), WR DeSean Jackson (hip)
LIMITED PARTICIPATION: CB Curtis Marsh (hamstring)
FULL PARTICIPATION: S Kurt Coleman (facial lacerations), S Colt Anderson (knee), WR Jason Avant (wrist)

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Kruger, McPhee, Birk non-participants in Wednesday’s practice

Posted on 12 September 2012 by Luke Jones

(Updated: 9:00 p.m.)

OWINGS MILLS, Md. — The Ravens took the field late Wednesday afternoon for their first full practice in preparation for the Philadelphia Eagles and were without two defensive starters.

Defensive end Pernell McPhee and strongside linebacker Paul Kruger were not present during the portion of practice open to the media. Arthroscopic knee surgery limited McPhee early in the preseason, and he received occasional days off during training camp.

The two players combined for just two tackles, though McPhee shared a quarterback sack with rookie linebacker Courtney Upshaw.

Center Matt Birk and offensive lineman Jah Reid (calf) were both on the field without helmets but were not working with the rest of the offensive linemen. It’s not uncommon for the 36-year-old Birk to receive days off from practice over the course of the regular season.

Safety Ed Reed (hamstring) and cornerback Corey Graham (leg) were both practicing after leaving Monday’s game with injuries. The free safety told reporters after the game he wasn’t concerned about the hamstring strain and fully expected to be ready for the Week 2 contest against the Philadelphia Eagles. Graham appeared to be dealing with leg cramps in the second half of the 44-13 win over the Bengals.

Reed practiced on a limited basis while Graham was not listed on Wednesday’s injury report.

For Philadelphia, wide receiver Jeremy Maclin did not participate in Wednesday’s practice and is dealing with a hip injury.

BALTIMORE
DID NOT PARTICIPATE: C Matt Birk (thigh), LB Paul Kruger (back), DE Pernell McPhee (knee), T Jah Reid (leg)
LIMITED PARTICIPATION: S Ed Reed (thigh)

PHILADELPHIA
DID NOT PARTICIPATE: WR Jeremy Maclin (hip)
LIMITED PARTICIPATION: S Kurt Coleman (facial lacerations), WR Riley Cooper (collarbone), CB Curtis Marsh (hamstring)
FULL PARTICIPATION: S Colt Anderson (knee), WR Jason Avant (wrist)

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Five pressing questions for the 2012 season

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Five pressing questions for the 2012 season

Posted on 09 September 2012 by Luke Jones

As the Ravens begin defense of their AFC North division crown against the Cincinnati Bengals on Monday night and hope to embark on a journey to Super Bowl XLVII in John Harbaugh’s fifth year as head coach, they play the fourth-toughest schedule in the league statistically as their opponents held a .523 winning percentage (134-122) last season.

Expectations remain sky-high in Baltimore, even after a trying offseason than included key injuries and significant departures due to limited salary cap room.

Here are the five biggest questions weighing on my mind for the Ravens’ 2012 season:

1. Is the starting line good enough for the offense to take the next step?

Deemed a priority to upgrade at the beginning of the season, the offensive line remains a major question mark as the Ravens tinkered with various alignments throughout the preseason. Even determining which starting five will line up has been quite a challenge considering the circumstances the organization has dealt with since last January.

The Ravens knew Pro Bowl left guard Ben Grubbs — now with New Orleans — would be difficult to replace as they eventually settled on former Bengals guard Bobbie Williams. Playing with a surgically-repaired right ankle, the 35-year-old has dealt with swelling as scar tissue is still breaking up in the ankle, making you wonder if Williams will hold up over the course of a 16-game regular season.

The bigger surprise has been the uncertainty at the tackle position as the Ravens weren’t satisfied with Bryant McKinnie’s weight and conditioning this offseason and the tackle reported late to training camp, opening the door to the idea of Michael Oher returning to left tackle. All seemed to be straightened out when McKinnie started at left tackle and Oher shifted back to the right side in the third preseason game, but the Ravens surprisingly played hardball with McKinnie by cutting his pay last week, a tactic that nearly led to his departure.

In another twist, rookie Kelechi Osemele revealed Saturday that he expected to start at right tackle against the Bengals, meaning Michael Oher will play on the left side and McKinnie will hold a backup role for now. Osemele played well at the position in the preseason and is the most pleasant surprise of the 2012 draft class to this point, but his insertion in the starting lineup creates the question whether Oher can handle protecting quarterback Joe Flacco’s blind side, which led to the Ravens signing McKinnie in the first place last August.

The Ravens’ handling of their line is unsettling considering the offense is expected to take a significant step forward this season. The combination of Oher and Osemele is more athletic and better conditioned, factors worth remembering when you consider how much they expect to run a no-huddle offense, but much doubt remains about their ability as pass blockers. Though McKinnie is considered a below-average run blocker, he is still the best pass blocker among the Baltimore tackles, which should be the most important factor in trying to protect the most important player on the field.

It’s clear the Ravens have grown tired of McKinnie’s act, but they also didn’t have enough confidence in life without him or they would have pulled the trigger in releasing him last week when he balked at their original pay-cut demand. They appear set to try the younger duo against Cincinnati, but you have to wonder if it will work week in and week out, especially when considering Williams’ health and age at left guard and the fact that there’s no viable option behind him other than Osemele on the 53-man roster.

Even when finally appearing to settle on a starting five moving forward, the Ravens will need to show improvement in short-yardage run situations, an area in which they struggled immensely last season.

Regardless of the factors working against them, the Ravens deemed upgrading the offensive line a major priority in the offseason and even the optimistic takes on the current group couldn’t possibly feel more confident about it than last season’s group.

2. How will the defense find a consistent pass rush without Terrell Suggs?

No one knows if and when the Pro Bowl linebacker will return this season and whether he’ll display the same explosiveness he displayed last season on his way to the 2011 AP Defensive Player of the Year award. His absence has created a gigantic black cloud over a defense ranking among the NFL’s elite annually for over a decade.

The Ravens have used their “next man up” mantra since the news broke about the injury in early May, but they appear no closer to answering their pass-rush question than they were when first learning about Suggs’ partially-torn Achilles tendon. And it’s a sobering thought when you remember the defense will encounter 11 quarterbacks who have made at least one Pro Bowl this season.

Fourth-year linebacker Paul Kruger is being asked to play the strongside linebacker position in place of the departed Jarret Johnson and struggled setting the edge against the run in the preseason. However, an even more disappointing outcome of the summer was the slow development of rookie Courtney Upshaw, who dealt with a shoulder injury for much of training camp. Upshaw appeared overweight and lacked explosiveness coming off the edge and was beaten out by former practice squad member Albert McClellan for the rush linebacker spot.

While no one should have expected Upshaw to immediately enter the league as a poor man’s version of Suggs, the fact that he was unable to show any tangible signs of being a threat as a pass rusher in the preseason is disheartening after he was selected with the 35th overall pick in late April. To suggest Upshaw is a draft bust is absurdly premature, but the Ravens hope the light comes on quickly for the rookie from Alabama to be a bigger factor on passing downs.

In terms of maximizing their pass rush, the Ravens might be better served by scrapping the idea of Kruger at the “Sam” position and allowing him to move back to the rush linebacker spot where he can focus more often than not on simply getting after the quarterback. His 5 1/2 sacks in limited time last season showed he can put heat on the quarterback, but those also came with a healthy Suggs on the opposite side of the defensive line.

Defensive end Pernell McPhee will also be critical to the pass rush as his six sacks last year were a major surprise. The Ravens will elect to use him more extensively on first and second down given his pass-rushing ability, but McPhee also bulked up to 290 pounds to aid in playing the run. The second-year defensive lineman made positive plays in run support in the preseason, but you also wonder how the extra weight will affect the combination of strength and quickness he displayed as a pass rusher last year.

There’s simply no replacing the loss of Suggs and the secondary will be challenged in coverage much more without him tormenting quarterbacks for at least the bulk of the regular season. It’s difficult envisioning the defense maintaining the same level of excellence we’ve come to expect over the years, meaning the offense will be asked to be more productive if the Ravens are to remain a legitimate Super Bowl threat.

3. With the no-huddle attack expected to become a prominent part of the offense, how will it affect Ray Rice’s touches?

CONTINUE >>>

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Four Questions for the Ravens Season

Posted on 04 September 2012 by jeffreygilley

Personally, I have high hopes and expectations for the Ravens this season.  But then again, when are expectations not high in Baltimore?  The success the Ravens have had in their short existence is truly unbelievable.  As I said, this season is no different and the Ravens are hoping to make the Super Bowl after reaching the AFC Championship in two of the last four years.  But, no team enters a season without question marks.

Can the Ravens young linebackers replace the production of Suggs?  

As we all know, Terrell Suggs tore his ACL in the off-season.  Because of his injury, linebackers Paul Kruger, Courtney UpShaw, Sergio Kindle, and Albert McClellan must step up.  Kruger had a nice season in 2011 but that was when he had Terrell Suggs on the field commanding double teams.  Kruger is not alone though.  He has the help of some young players but young is the key word.  Kindle, UpShaw, and McClellan are all young and unexperienced.

If the Ravens can not produce any pressure, the team will struggle.  Pernell McPhee is a defensive lineman to keep an eye on.  He was most effective last season when he lined up against guards.  Pernell McPhee and Haloti Ngata will be a deadly combination this season and can occupy blockers which will help the Ravens young linebackers.

Can Torrey Smith have a break out season? 

Another way the Ravens can make up for the loss of Terrell Suggs is for the offense to be more productive and the pre-season has looked promising for the offense.  Joe Flacco looks much different.  He seems more composed and is scanning the field more effectively.  His favorite target seems to be Torrey Smith.  Smith also looks better.  His route running is more polished and he is now more than a down field threat.

If Torrey Smith had an 800-yard season in 2011 by being a down field threat only, immagine what he can do now that he is more polished?

How will the Ravens use Bobby Rainey and Deonte Thompson?

Bobby Rainey and Deonte Thompson were both stars of the pre-season.  They were brought into Ravens camp with little expectations but once they got to camp, they did nothing but perform at a high level.  Rainey, a running back out of Western Kentucky has shown a vast skill set throughout the preseason.  Rainey can run the ball effectively, catch the ball out of the backfield, he can block, and he can even return punts and kicks.  I think Rainey will play a role very similar to how Darren Sproles is used in New Orleans.  He is a play maker and the Ravens need as many of them as possible.

Deonte Thompson has also been very impressive in the preseason.  Like Raney, Thompson has been effective in multiple areas.  He has been explosive at wide receiver and as a kick returner.  Thompson has an opportunity to climb the depth chart even more.  Players like LaQuan Williams and Tandon Doss are ahead of him but Thompson has been more impressive in the preseason.  I expect Thompson to be used in multiple situations this season.

Will the special teams improve? 

The Ravens are stacked with options to return punts and kicks.  Jacoby Jones, Asa Jackson, Deonte Thompson, and Bobby Rainey have all shown flashes of brilliance in the return game but returning punts and kicks is not the problem.  The coverage was dreadful last season.  To improve the kickoff and punt coverage, the Ravens made several moves in the offseason.  Cory Graham, a special teams ace from the Bears is expected to play a big role on special teams this year and possibly on defense.  Sean Considine was also signed and is expected to contribute in a big way on special teams.

The special teams coverage did not look good in the preseason but it’s only the preseason.  I expect the special teams to be greatly improved from last season.

 

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Ravens-Jaguars preseason primer: Five position battles to watch

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Ravens-Jaguars preseason primer: Five position battles to watch

Posted on 22 August 2012 by Luke Jones

Moving ever closer to games that actually count, the Ravens will play their third preseason contest of the summer Thursday as they welcome the Jacksonville Jaguars to M&T Bank Stadium.

Coach John Harbaugh is planning to play his starters well into the third quarter as Baltimore meets Jacksonville in the preseason for the first time ever. Traditionally, the third preseason game is considered the final real test for the regular season as starters see their most extensive action before barely making a cameo — if they even do that — in the final preseason game.

The Ravens will try to find more rhythm on both sides of the football, but the vanilla looks we saw in each of the first two preseason games will remain as the coaching staff does not game-plan for opponents in the preseason. For this reason, some downplay the significance placed on the “dress rehearsal” of the preseason.

“I guess that’s the way we’re trained to kind of look at it, just because that is the game [the starters] play the most in,” quarterback Joe Flacco said. “We want to go out there and put good work forward and good footage that we can look at and learn from. This week is kind of the same. We want to go out there and we want to play well, but at the same time, we need to clean some things up and see what we’re getting better at and see what we still need to work on maybe even a little bit more.”

As is always the case, the preseason holds the most significance for players competing for starting positions or spots on the 53-man roster, but the coaching staff wants to see rhythm and communication improve as some starters will be playing together in a game for the final time before the season opener against the Cincinnati Bengals on Sept. 10.

Issues facing the Ravens in the offseason such as becoming more efficient in the red-zone offense and establishing a pass rush without Pro Bowl linebacker Terrell Suggs have carried into the preseason, and Harbaugh would like to see glimpses of optimism in those areas with the season set to kick off in less than three weeks.

“The performances of certain players are a really big part of it, but the performances of groups and units together is probably more important, because that’s how the game is played,” Harbaugh said. “We would expect that to be the case – guys working together better, fewer communication mistakes, being more synchronized.”

Even for longtime veterans such as 17-year linebacker Ray Lewis, the third preseason game provides a nice tuneup to not only be on the field for an extended period but to provide the emotional charge they’ll experience in beginning their quest to return to the AFC Championship game — and try to advance a step further — in 2012.

And while it’s not on the list of priorities for Thursday’s game, the Ravens’ embarrassing 12-7 loss to Jacksonville last season was on the mind of at least one Baltimore defensive player. The Jaguars ran for 132 yards against the Ravens on Oct. 24 of last season, but 105 came from the legs of running back Maurice Jones-Drew, who is currently holding out over a contract dispute.

“This is a good test for us,” Lewis said. “These guys run the ball pretty well, and for us to come in and have this type of test right now, being our third preseason game, yeah, I’m a little ready.”

Unofficially (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 at what the injury report would look like if there were one.

Though not dealing with an injury, defensive end Pernell McPhee’s status for Thursday remains unknown as he’s been away from the team since the weekend due to the death of a family member.

Again, this is not meant to be an official injury report:

OUT: OT Jah Reid (calf), LB Josh Bynes (back), TE Dennis Pitta (hand), TE Ed Dickson (shoulder), LB Terrell Suggs (Achilles tendon), WR David Reed (knee), DL Ryan McBean (ankle)
QUESTIONABLE: G Marshal Yanda (leg), LB Sergio Kindle (shoulder), S Sean Considine (head), LB Darryl Blackstock (groin)
PROBABLE: WR Torrey Smith (ankle), G Bobbie Williams (ankle)

Five positions to watch Thursday night

1. Left guard – Bobbie Williams and Kelechi Osemele

Should starting right guard Marshal Yanda be held out Thursday after accidentally being undercut by linebacker Chavis Williams during Monday’s practice, it will be more difficult to get a read on where the Ravens stand with their left guard position. It appears the coaching staff has finally settled on veteran Bryant McKinnie at left tackle and Michael Oher on the right side — the two have practiced in those spots exclusively since the second preseason game — but Osemele has begun working at guard more extensively with the 35-year-old Williams still dealing with scar tissue breaking up in his surgically-repaired ankle.

Interestingly enough, Williams was working at right guard in Yanda’s place, which seemed odd for the lineman expected to start on the left side, but it was the position the veteran primarily played in his years with the Cincinnati Bengals. Osemele has been very impressive this summer, making you wonder if he could eventually unseat Williams in the starting lineup. His ankle makes you question whether Williams will hold up over a 16-game schedule, but the Ravens feel confident that Osemele can be a contributor as a rookie if necessary.

My gut choice if the season started today: Williams gets the nod due to experience, but the Ravens won’t hesitate to go with Osemele if the veteran struggles as the season progresses.

2. Defensive end – Arthur Jones and Pernell McPhee

Thursday would be a golden opportunity for Jones to make up ground if McPhee remains away from the team due to a death in the family. A hip flexor injury cost Jones valuable practice time, allowing McPhee to receive the bulk of the reps and take the lead in the push for the starting job. A 2011 fifth-round pick out of Mississippi State, McPhee had the reputation of being stronger against the run prior to a surprising rookie season that included six sacks, and he played well against the run in the Ravens’ first two preseason games.

Jones has a strong lower body that translates well in run-stopping situations, but he doesn’t stand out when asked to get after the quarterback, which led many to believe he would see time on first and second downs with McPhee spelling him in passing situations. However, it now appears McPhee can handle the duties of a three-down lineman, and Jones could find himself as more of a situational player like he was last season. Regardless of which player the Ravens anoint as the starter, both will factor heavily into the defensive line rotation.

My gut choice if the season started today: McPhee has stood out on the defensive line as a more complete player and would be the choice as the starter even though Jones will still see plenty of opportunities.

3. Rush linebacker – Albert McClellan and Courtney Upshaw

CONTINUE >>>

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Yanda absent from Tuesday’s practice

Posted on 21 August 2012 by Luke Jones

(Updated: 1:35 p.m.)

OWINGS MILLS, Md. — Conducting their final full workout before Thursday’s preseason game against the Jacksonville Jaguars, the Ravens worked without starting right guard Marshal Yanda during the opening portion of Tuesday’s practice.

The Pro Bowl lineman was given the day off to rest after a defensive player rolled into his legs at one point during Monday’s workout. Though shaken up momentarily, the 27-year-old was able to finish the practice.

“He kind of tweaked [the leg] a little bit,” Harbaugh said. “It’s nothing serious, but we had a little pileup there that we were kind of disappointed about. It wasn’t anybody’s fault, so we just gave him some rest today.”

Defensive end Pernell McPhee also remained away from the team as he deals with a death in the family. Arthur Jones has assumed his place along the starting defensive line in his absence.

Others not present during Tuesday’s practice included offensive lineman Jah Reid (calf), tight ends Ed Dickson (shoulder) and Dennis Pitta (hand), wide receiver David Reed (knee), defensive lineman Ryan McBean (ankle), and linebackers Josh Bynes (back), Darryl Blackstock (undisclosed), and Terrell Suggs (Achilles tendon). Blackstock had returned to practice over the weekend after being sidelined for two weeks with a groin injury.

Linebacker Sergio Kindle (shoulder) and safety Sean Considine once again practiced in red non-contact jerseys on Tuesday. Coach John Harbaugh said Monday that Considine was “dinged” during Friday’s preseason game against Detroit, which is believed to mean the veteran safety sustained a concussion.

The Ravens practiced in helmets, shells, and shorts and treated the practice as though it were a Friday before a Sunday game in the regular season. They will hold a walk-through on Wednesday that will be closed to media before returning to M&T Bank Stadium for their third preseason game on Thursday.

 

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McPhee still absent from Monday’s practice

Posted on 20 August 2012 by Luke Jones

(Updated 6:20 p.m.)

OWINGS MILLS, Md. — After being excused from the Ravens as he deals with a death in the family, defensive end Pernell McPhee was absent from practice for the second straight day Monday.

With only seven other players absent due to injury reasons, the Ravens continue to look healthier as they continue preparations for their third preseason game of the summer on Thursday night.

Offensive lineman Jah Reid (calf), linebackers Josh Bynes (back) and Terrell Suggs (Achilles tendon), tight ends Ed Dickson (shoulder) and Dennis Pitta (hand), wide receiver David Reed (knee), and defensive lineman Ryan McBean (ankle) didn’t work during Monday afternoon’s practice.

Wide receiver Torrey Smith (ankle) practiced for the second straight day after missing Friday’s preseason game while recovering from a sprained ankle.

Linebacker Sergio Kindle (shoulder) continued to sport a red mesh jersey — indicating no contact — after suffering a stinger against Detroit. Safety Sean Considine initially wasn’t wearing a red jersey at the start of practice but wore one in team drills for the second straight day.

“The doctors say he got dinged [on Friday]; he says he didn’t,” coach John Harbaugh said. “So, we’re going with the doctors. We’re going with the ding, so he’s got the red jersey.”

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Torrey Smith returns to practice, McPhee excused for death in family

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Torrey Smith returns to practice, McPhee excused for death in family

Posted on 19 August 2012 by Luke Jones

OWINGS MILLS, Md. — As the Ravens held their first workout since their second preseason contest on Friday, defensive end Pernell McPhee headlined a dwindling list of non-participants.

Though McPhee has received an occasional day off at a couple different points since returning from arthroscopic knee surgery he underwent in the spring, the defensive end’s absence wasn’t injury-related as he was excused to deal with a death in the family. He played in Friday’s game against the Detroit Lions, registering two solo tackles, a tackle for a loss, and a quarterback hit.

“He had a personal issue, a tough situation,” coach John Harbaugh said. “I’ll let him explain it when he gets back, but he suffered a loss in his family, so he has been excused to go take care of that right now.”

Special teams coordinator Jerry Rosburg was also absent from Sunday’s practice due to the death of his mother, according to the team.

Wide receiver Torrey Smith returned to practice after sitting out Friday’s game and missing two practices last week while dealing with a sprained ankle suffered in the season opener. Wide receiver Devin Goda and linebacker Darryl Blackstock (groin) also returned to practice on Sunday.

Smith expects to play in the Ravens’ third preseason game — a sentiment echoed by Harbaugh Sunday — as they’ll host the Jacksonville Jaguars at M&T Bank Stadium. The second-year wide receiver described not playing last Friday as “agonizing” and felt he could have played against Detroit.

“Coach was kind of being cautious with it, so I can get it out of the way now rather than just having it lingering on,” Smith said. “I felt way better today and obviously, I still have to practice until I get better, but I’m fine.”

Offensive lineman Jah Reid was present but not dressed in pads to practice after suffering a setback with the calf injury that’s hampered him since mandatory minicamp. Others not practicing included linebackers Josh Bynes (back) and Terrell Suggs (Achilles tendon), tight ends Ed Dickson (shoulder) and Dennis Pitta (hand), defensive lineman Ryan McBean (fractured ankle), and wide receiver David Reed (knee).

After sustaining a shoulder stinger on Friday night, linebacker Sergio Kindle was practicing but sported red mesh over his jersey, indicating no contact. Safety Sean Considine also wore red mesh, but it remains unclear whether he suffered an injury in the game. Wide receiver LaQuan Williams (ankle sprain), fullback Vonta Leach (ankle sprain), and linebacker Ricky Brown (hip contusion) all practiced despite suffering reported injuries after the second preseason game.

Caldwell welcome addition with emphasis on no-huddle attack

Harbaugh praised the influence of quarterbacks coach Jim Caldwell when it comes to the Ravens’ increased focus on the no-huddle offense. Of course, Caldwell spent a decade working with quarterback Peyton Manning in Indianapolis as the Colts ran a similar attack almost exclusively.

While the Ravens operated without a huddle at different times over the last four seasons under offensive coordinator Cam Cameron, they have run it extensively in the first two preseason games.

“We’ve had that in our system before so it’s based and formatted on what we’ve always had, but Jim’s brought some nuances,” Harbaugh said. “He’s brought a tempo or two we didn’t’ have before, just some methodology, I think, to it that he’s really added. Plus, the experience just in terms of dealing with Joe and talking to Joe and how they’ve done it in the past has been really helpful.”

It remains to be seen just how much the Ravens will use the no-huddle offense, but all signs point to it being a major point of emphasis as they begin the regular season against the Cincinnati Bengals on Sept. 10.

Harbaugh described it as “very much quarterback driven” with Flacco having the ability to go to the line of scrimmage with several play options for which he will decide what the offense will do.

“As you watch the transformation, it’s going to be fun to see how we do,” Harbaugh said. “It’s going to be challenging. We go against good defenses. It’s not going to be easy, obviously, it never is. We will have our ups and downs, but I really think our coaches, starting with Cam and then Jim and all of our guys, have done a great job of setting up the structure of this offense, and I’m as excited as anyone to see how it plays out.”

Practice notes

It was a rare practice in which Billy Cundiff outdid Justin Tucker as the two kickers squared off once again on Sunday. Cundiff was a perfect 4-for-4 as he connected from 30, 36, 39, and 44 yards. In contrast, Tucker turned in a solid performance by going 4-for-5, but his miss went wide left from 44 yards.

Unlike the veteran, Tucker was given an attempt from 53 yards, and the rookie converted.

Right guard Marshal Yanda appeared to receive a breather on Sunday as he didn’t take part in any reps after the early portion of practice. The Ravens’ starting offense mostly went with Bryant McKinnie at left tackle and Michael Oher at right tackle while using Kelechi Osemele at left guard. Veteran guard Bobbie Williams, who has been dealing with soreness in his surgically-repaired right ankle primarily worked at right guard with the first and second units.

Linebacker Courtney Upshaw received more reps with the starting defense on Sunday as he split time at rush linebacker with Albert McClellan, who started in Friday’s game against Detroit.

Ravens hold final off-site practice

Conducting their final off-site practice of the summer, the Ravens traveled to Stevenson University as approximately 2,800 fans attended the ticketed event. The team also held public practices at M&T Bank Stadium and the Naval Academy in their first official camp after announcing they would no longer hold training camp at McDaniel College in Westminster.

Mustang Stadium is on the site of the Ravens’ old training facility used from 1996 through the early fall of 2004 before the team moved to its currently facility. Harbaugh even offered a plug that certainly had to please the admissions office at the Owings Mills university.

“Stevenson has been fantastic; just great people here [and a] really tremendous facility,” Harbaugh said. “This stadium is really, really special. I know the indoor [facility] they have over here is really neat. They have done a great job with their athletic facilities. This would be a great place to go to school.”

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Veteran guard Williams dealing with swollen ankle

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Veteran guard Williams dealing with swollen ankle

Posted on 13 August 2012 by Luke Jones

(Updated: 5:45 p.m.)

OWINGS MILLS, Md. — Just when you think the Ravens are getting healthier with players returning to action, a new batch of injury concerns arises as there were four new absences on Monday afternoon.

Offensive lineman Jah Reid (calf) was activated from the active physically unable to perform list as he took the practice field for the first time during training camp. Reid was carted off the field with a calf injury on the final day of the Ravens’ mandatory minicamp on June 14 and suffered a setback shortly before the start of camp in late July.

The second-year lineman worked at right tackle with the second offense as the Ravens practiced in helmets, shells, and shorts on Monday. He will work at both guard and tackle as the coaching staff prefers to see how versatile he can be along the offensive line.

“It was a good start for him, and he got through most of the practice I believe,” coach John Harbaugh said. “He didn’t seem to have negative effects, so that was a good start for him, too.”

Wide receiver Tandon Doss (hamstring)) and cornerback Chykie Brown (hamstring) also returned to the practice field.

Meanwhile, defensive end Pernell McPhee, left guard Bobbie Williams, and wide receivers Jacoby Jones and Devin Goda didn’t participate in Monday’s workout. McPhee began the season on the active PUP list after undergoing arthroscopic knee surgery in the spring, but the second-year defensive lineman had declared himself to be 100 percent after Sunday’s practice in Annapolis.

Jones appeared to be dealing with a nagging leg issue during practice Sunday but finished the workout.

Williams is dealing with swelling in his right ankle and will also sit out Tuesday’s practice, according to Harbaugh. The 35-year-old guard missed the final three games of the 2011 season in Cincinnati after he fractured the ankle in Week 14.

“He’s really been working hard, but he needs [rest] and it will be good for him and it will help him,” Harbaugh said. “Now, you have an opportunity with that spot there to roll some guys in and move some guys around. It works out real well.”

In Williams’ absence, Bryant McKinnie worked at left tackle with the starting line while Michael Oher returned to the right tackle spot he manned last season. However, the most interesting move was rookie Kelechi Osemele occupying the left guard position, a spot he hasn’t worked during opening practices since organized team activities.

Tight ends Ed Dickson (shoulder) and Dennis Pitta (hand), cornerback Asa Jackson (hamstring), wide receiver David Reed (knee – active PUP list), defensive lineman Ryan McBean (ankle), and linebackers Josh Bynes (back), Darryl Blackstock (groin), and Terrell Suggs (Achilles tendon – non-football injury list) were also absent from Monday’s practice.

 

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