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Ravens’ playoff absence officially hits three years

Posted on 10 January 2018 by Luke Jones

Much has changed since the Ravens squandered two 14-point leads in a playoff loss to New England three years ago Wednesday.

They would soon say goodbye to five-time Pro Bowl defensive tackle Haloti Ngata as well as one of the franchise’s most accomplished wide receivers in Torrey Smith. That was also the final game of offensive coordinator Gary Kubiak’s lone season with the Ravens and with his departure went any semblance of consistent offensive production since then.

More painful than anything else, however, has been the deterioration of the standard. Losing in the divisional round was once the minimum of expectations under John Harbaugh — illustrating how spoiled Baltimore was during the first five years of his tenure — but the Ravens haven’t been back to the postseason since that night in Foxborough when Tom Brady picked apart helpless cornerback Rashaan Melvin and an overwhelmed secondary.

Sure, the Ravens have been close to making the playoffs in each of the last two years, but that’s sometimes the worst place for an organization to be. “Close” doesn’t always mean you’re moving in the right direction, and it can prevent you from making necessary changes when you believe you’re “one play away” from getting over the hump.

The underwhelming performances in the AFC wild-card round this past weekend prompted predictable commentary from some that Joe Flacco and the Ravens would have been a more dangerous team and a bigger threat to New England and Pittsburgh. That old narrative needs to be buried when they don’t even manage to make the tournament anymore. Perhaps Brian Billick’s once-famous ban on using the “playoff” word needs to be reinstated until further notice.

The Ravens haven’t beaten the Patriots since the 2012 AFC Championship, and you can count the relevant players remaining from that Super Bowl team on two hands and have fingers left over. They still play the Steelers tough, but their only win at Heinz Field since the 2014 postseason was a game in which a washed-up Michael Vick was under center for their AFC North rival.

The sobering reality of watching the likes of Buffalo and Tennessee in the playoffs last weekend wasn’t that the Ravens might have been more formidable, but it’s that they’re closer to those mediocre teams in quality than the Patriots and the Steelers. They couldn’t even beat out such wild-card contenders despite having one of the most-favorable schedules in the NFL.

Harbaugh’s team went just 1-5 against teams who finished above .500 this season and is now 7-27 in that department since Super Bowl XLVII. For context, the 2011 team alone won six games against opponents finishing that season with winning records, and the Ravens were 18-20 against squads finishing over .500 from 2008-12.

Even that last playoff team in 2014 was an unimpressive 1-6 against teams finishing with winning records, but those Ravens did go a perfect 9-0 against opponents .500 or worse and swept a terrible NFC South division to ultimately secure a wild card. This year’s team lost home games to Chicago and Cincinnati, who finished a combined 12-20.

The standard that once made losing a playoff game in New England a bitter disappointment has regressed to not being good enough to beat winning teams and dropping a few too many games that they shouldn’t. The latter part is evident from a 33-13 record against teams finishing .500 or worse over the last five years compared to a 36-6 mark over the first five seasons of the Harbaugh era.

It’s resulted in a team that’s still competitive, but not one as close to being a serious contender as the Ravens would like to believe.

Three years ago, that disappointing 35-31 playoff loss to the Patriots still felt like the beginning of a new run for Harbaugh and the revamped Ravens after their 2013 absence from the postseason. Instead, it may have simply been the final chapter in the most successful era in franchise history.

The Ravens have a lot of work to do this offseason to both change that perception and resurrect their once-lofty standard.

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Ravens cut Melvin, Babin to shake up roster

Posted on 13 October 2015 by Luke Jones

Dealing with immense struggles and injuries in their secondary, the Ravens shook up their 53-man roster with a series of movies on Tuesday afternoon.

In addition to announcing the signing of veteran cornerback Shareece Wright, the Ravens cut veteran outside linebacker Jason Babin and third-cornerback Rashaan Melvin and promoted cornerbacks Asa Jackson and Charles James from the practice squad to the active roster. Baltimore also placed injured cornerback Will Davis (knee) on injured reserve.

Signed to provide help to the pass rush following the season-ending Achilles injury to Terrell Suggs in the season opener, Babin was inactive for two weeks before making little impact in two games. Playing 22 snaps in Sunday’s overtime loss to Cleveland, the 35-year-old committed three penalties and showed no ability to shed a block trying to contain a screen pass on a third-and-8 play in the second quarter.

Babin’s termination leaves the Ravens with just two healthy outside linebackers — Courtney Upshaw and Za’Darius Smith — after Elvis Dumervil left Sunday’s game with a groin injury. Veteran inside linebacker Albert McClellan can also play outside and has done so this season.

The decision to waive Melvin was a little more surprising after coaches had sung his praises in the spring and summer. A series of injuries at cornerback late last season forced Melvin into a starting role, and he played admirably for a few games until being burned repeatedly by Tom Brady in the divisional-round playoff loss to New England.

Despite playing well early in the summer, the 6-foot-2 cornerback was slowed by a hamstring injury that sidelined him for the first two seeks of the regular season. Making his 2015 debut as Baltimore’s No. 3 cornerback in Week 3, Melvin committed three penalties and struggled mightily in coverage before being benched after 17 snaps.

He was inactive in each of the last two games.

With Lardarius Webb leaving Sunday’s loss with a hamstring injury and Davis suffering a torn ACL, the Ravens were once again thin at cornerback, but Jackson and James provide more depth to the group. A 2012 fifth-round pick, the 5-foot-10 Jackson was cut by the Ravens at the end of the preseason and spent a brief time with the New York Giants before landing on Baltimore’s practice squad.

James was most recently with the Houston Texans and received plenty of attention for his colorful personality on HBO’s “Hard Knocks” series. The 5-foot-9 defensive back appeared in 12 games for the New York Giants in 2013, making four tackles.

To fill vacant spots on their practice squad, the Ravens signed wide receiver Daniel Brown, tight end Konrad Reuland, and running back Akeem Hunt. Brown and Reuland were with the Ravens in training camp and the preseason.

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Monroe, Perriman ruled out for Sunday’s game in Oakland

Posted on 18 September 2015 by Luke Jones

Still sidelined after sustaining a concussion on the first series of the season opener last week, Ravens left tackle Eugene Monroe was ruled out for Sunday’s game against the Oakland Raiders.

Monroe missed practice all week and has yet to be cleared from the NFL’s concussion protocol, meaning second-year lineman James Hurst will likely start in Monroe’s place. Wide receiver Breshad Perriman was also ruled out for Week 2 as he has yet to practice since spraining his knee on the first day of training camp.

The good news for Baltimore was the expected availability of defensive tackle Timmy Jernigan and running back Lorenzo Taliaferro after each suffered knee injuries in the preseason. Both were listed as probable to play after practicing fully all week. Running back Justin Forsett (shoulder) was also designated as probable after being limited during Wednesday’s practice but being a full participant the rest of the week.

Cornerback Rashaan Melvin (thigh) and rookie wide receiver Darren Waller (ankle) were listed as questionable to play against Oakland. Melvin has dealt with a hamstring issue since last month and was only a limited participant in practices this week while Waller was a new addition to Friday’s injury report, leading you to believe he may have injured his ankle during the final practice of the week.

Head coach John Harbaugh confirmed Friday that veteran newcomer Jason Babin will play on Sunday after being signed to replace the injured Terrell Suggs on the roster earlier this week.

With Monroe sidelined and two wide receivers on the injury report, the Ravens could choose to add one of their two practice-squad offensive tackles — rookie De’Ondre Wesley or veteran Tony Hills — or a receiver — Jeremy Ross and Jeremy Butler are on the practice squad — to the 53-man roster. Rookie running back Terrence Magee’s spot is likely vulnerable with Baltimore now having four healthy backs on the active roster.

Meanwhile, the Raiders expect to have their starting quarterback under center on Sunday after Derek Carr practiced fully all week and was listed as probable on their final injury report.

Despite suffering a dislocated shoulder in Oakland’s season-opening loss to Cincinnati, veteran safety Charles Woodson practiced on a limited basis on Thursday and Friday and is officially questionable for Sunday’s game.

The referee for Sunday’s game is Pete Morelli.

The game-day forecast in Oakland calls for mostly sunny skies and temperatures around 90 degrees with winds 10 to 15 miles per hour, according to Weather.com.

Below is the final injury report of the week:

BALTIMORE
OUT: OT Eugene Monroe (concussion) WR Breshad Perriman (knee)
QUESTIONABLE: CB Rashaan Melvin (thigh), WR Darren Waller (ankle)
PROBABLE: DE Chris Canty (non-injury), RB Justin Forsett (shoulder), DT Timmy Jernigan (knee), LB Daryl Smith (non-injury), RB Lorenzo Taliaferro (knee)

OAKLAND
OUT: DT Justin Ellis (ankle), DE Benson Mayowa (knee), RB Jamize Olawale (ankle)
QUESTIONABLE: S Charles Woodson (shoulder)
PROBABLE: QB Derek Carr (right hand)

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Ravens practice in San Jose with Monroe sidelined

Posted on 17 September 2015 by Luke Jones

Practicing in San Jose, Calif. ahead of their Week 2 meeting with the Oakland Raiders, the Ravens were without starting left tackle Eugene Monroe for Wednesday’s workout.

Monroe suffered a concussion in the first quarter of the season-opening loss last Sunday and remains sidelined as he goes through the league-mandated protocol. Second-year tackle James Hurst replaced him in Denver and struggled mightily against Broncos outside linebacker DeMarcus Ware all afternoon.

Wide receiver Breshad Perriman also remains out of practice as he continues to recover from a sprained knee suffered on the first day of training camp on July 30. The 2015 first-round pick is not expected to play against Oakland as his return isn’t imminent until he can at least begin accumulating some practice time.

The good news for the Ravens on Wednesday was the full participation of both defensive tackle Timmy Jernigan (knee) and running back Lorenzo Taliaferro (knee). Both appear to be good bets to return to action on Sunday after suffering their respective injuries in the preseason and practicing on a limited basis last week.

Cornerback Rashaan Melvin (thigh) and running back Justin Forsett (shoulder) were limited participants during Wednesday’s workout.

Meanwhile, the Raiders received good news with Derek Carr (right hand) practicing fully, which reinforced head coach Jack Del Rio’s expressed optimism earlier in the day that the second-year quarterback would play this week.

In addition to officially announcing the signing of veteran outside linebacker Jason Babin — who will wear No. 56 — and the placement of injured linebacker Terrell Suggs on season-ending injured reserve, the Ravens terminated the practice-squad contract of quarterback Bryn Renner and signed offensive tackle Tony Hills to the 10-man unit. The 30-year-old has played in 13 career NFL games and joins De’Ondre Wesley as the second offensive tackle on the practice squad, perhaps a reflection of the uncertainty surrounding Monroe’s status for Sunday.

Below is Wednesday’s official injury report:

BALTIMORE
DID NOT PARTICIPATE: T Eugene Monroe (concussion), WR Breshad Perriman (knee)
LIMITED PARTICIPATION: RB Justin Forsett (shoulder), CB Rashaan Melvin (thigh)
FULL PARTICIPATION: DT Timmy Jernigan (knee), RB Lorenzo Taliaferro (knee)

OAKLAND
DID NOT PARTICIPATE: DT Justin Ellis (ankle), DE Benson Mayowa (knee), RB Jamize Olawale (ankle), S Charles Woodson (shoulder)
FULL PARTICIPATION: QB Derek Carr (right hand)

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Ravens-Broncos: Inactives and pre-game notes

Posted on 13 September 2015 by Luke Jones

Trying to win their first season opener since 2012, the Ravens are in Denver to take on Peyton Manning and the Broncos in Week 1 for the second time in three years.

Beginning an imposing stretch of five of the first seven games on the road, Baltimore is without a quartet of key players as defensive tackle Timmy Jernigan (knee) and cornerback Rashaan Melvin (thigh) were deactivated after both were listed as doubtful on the the final injury report of the week. The Ravens offially ruled out rookie wide receiver Breshad Perriman (knee) and running back Lorenzo Taliaferro (knee) on Friday.

The absence of Jernigan means rookie Carl Davis will start at the 3-technique defensive tackle spot in the base defense. This will also impact the inside pass rush as Jernigan was effective getting after the quarterback in his rookie season.

The biggest surprise of the healthy inactives was rookie outside linebacker Za’Darius Smith, who was drafted to replace free-agent departure Pernell McPhee. This leaves the Ravens with only three outside linebackers active for Sunday’s game, but reserve inside linebacker Albert McClellan has experience playing both outside spots.

The Ravens will only have four cornerbacks active on Sunday with rookie Tray Walker backing up starters Jimmy Smith and Lardarius Webb and nickel corner Kyle Arrington. Reserve safeties Anthony Levine and Terrence Brooks are also capable of playing corner in a pinch.

The decision to deactivate Ryan Jensen leaves the Ravens with just two reserve offensive lineman against the Broncos — tackle James Hurst and interior lineman John Urschel.

These teams are meeting for the 11th time in the regular season are are tied 5-5 in the series. The Ravens are 2-0 against Denver in postseason history, but the Broncos have won the last two regular-season meetings with the most recent coming in 2013.

The forecast for Sunday afternoon’s game in Denver calls for sunny skies, temperatures up to 90 degrees, and winds up to 12 miles per hour, according to Weather.com.

Referee Gene Steratore and his crew will officiate Sunday’s game at Sports Authority Field at Mile High.

The Ravens will be wearing white jerseys with black pants while Denver will sport their orange home jerseys with white pants.

Here are Sunday’s inactives:

BALTIMORE
LB Za’Darius Smith
DT Christo Bilukidi
OL Ryan Jensen
DT Timmy Jernigan
WR Breshad Perriman
CB Rashaan Melvin
RB Lorenzo Taliaferro

DENVER
QB Trevor Siemian
CB Curtis Marsh
CB Lorenzo Doss
LB Lerentee McCray
G Shelley Smith
TE Mitchell Henry
DE Kenny Anunike

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Ten Ravens prophecies for the 2015 season

Posted on 13 September 2015 by Luke Jones

As many go through the endeavor of making division-by-division forecasts, these predictions focus on the Ravens and their quest to advance to the playoffs for the seventh time in eight years and to possibly win their third Super Bowl title in their 20th season in Baltimore.

A look back at last year’s predictions show a mixed bag — predicting Elvis Dumervil would take a step back before he went on to set the Ravens’ single-season sack record was particularly embarrassing — but it’s fun to envision how the next four months or so will play out.

Below is a new forecast to tear apart:

1. Joe Flacco will finally be named the team’s Most Valuable Player in his eighth season.

The fact that the quarterback hasn’t won a team MVP award from local media — for what it’s worth, I voted for him over winner Justin Forsett last year — illustrates how much he is taken for granted. After having arguably his best statistical season a year ago, Flacco will post similar numbers despite having a slew of inexperienced weapons behind 36-year-old Steve Smith, a testament to his ability.

2. Brandon Williams will play at a Pro Bowl level, but he will not receive that recognition.

The third-year nose tackle is one of the NFL’s best-kept secrets and the Ravens will need him to anchor the defensive line with Haloti Ngata now a member of the Detroit Lions. Williams will be Baltimore’s best defensive lineman by a wide margin, but playing a position where statistics don’t jump out will force him to wait another year to receive a Pro Bowl nod.

3. Rashaan Melvin will be starting over Lardarius Webb by the end of the year.

Even if you can forgive Webb’s play in 2014 because of a back injury, how much can he really bounce back as he turns 30 in October? A hamstring issue prevented the seventh-year cornerback from playing in the preseason, creating more questions about Webb’s durability. Though Melvin’s play in last year’s playoff loss to New England was brutal, the Ravens think they have something with the 6-foot-2 corner.

4. Will Hill and Crockett Gillmore will be players to take a step forward.

His troubled history is no secret, but Hill has done everything that Ozzie Newsome asked of him when he came to Baltimore last summer and the Ravens rewarded the 25-year-old safety with an extension through 2016. Gillmore is probably receiving too much hype after a quiet rookie year, but the Ravens would be very pleased if he can match Owen Daniels’ 2014 production (48 catches for 527 yards).

5. Marlon Brown and Chris Canty will be players to take a step back.

It seems unfair to pick Brown for this again, but he had a quiet summer and just never seems to play as big as his frame while the Ravens drafted the 6-foot-6 Darren Waller in May. The 32-year-old Canty was re-signed after being cut this offseason, but Brent Urban receiving the designation to return reflects the Ravens’ vision of him taking over the 5-technique defensive end spot sooner rather than later.

6. Third-round pick Carl Davis will be the Ravens’ most impressive rookie.

Without knowing what injured first-round pick Breshad Perriman can bring to the table after missing the entire preseason, Davis looks to be the most NFL-ready rookie that the Ravens have as he will receive plenty of time in the defensive line rotation and could push Timmy Jernigan to start. At 6-foot-5 and 320 pounds, Davis brings impressive size that could eventually make him a poor man’s Haloti Ngata.

7. Free safety Kendrick Lewis will be the disappointing veteran newcomer.

The 27-year-old has received positive reviews from coaches and teammates, but Lewis did not have a good preseason and was merely an average starting safety in Houston and Kansas City. He will be a better free-agent acquisition than monumental bust Michael Huff, but I’m not convinced that he’ll be a noticeable upgrade from Darian Stewart at the free safety spot.

8. Marshal Yanda, C.J. Mosley, Jimmy Smith, and Kelechi Osemele will be Baltimore’s Pro Bowl selections.

The choices of Yanda and Mosley would hardly be surprising, but Smith and Osemele will receive recognition that they deserve. This will be especially meaningful for Osemele in the final year of his rookie deal as he’ll position himself for a payday that’s unlikely to come from the Ravens. Yanda will earn his fifth straight trip to the Pro Bowl to cement his status as one of the top players in franchise history.

9. This will be Terrell Suggs’ final season.

This is a shot in the dark and not at all an indictment of how I anticipate Suggs playing this year, but the soon-to-be 33-year-old admitted this spring that he pondered his football future and didn’t work out in the same way that he would in past offseasons. The six-time Pro Bowl selection knows he’s the last man standing from the old Baltimore guard, so it wouldn’t be stunning to see him call it a career after 2015.

10. The Ravens will qualify for the postseason as a wild card with a 10-6 record and will exit in the second round.

Too many questions on the offensive side of the ball will stunt the Ravens’ growth just enough to prevent them from winning the AFC North. With their questions in the passing game and Pittsburgh’s defensive problems, Cincinnati quietly has the most stability in the division and is built to be a strong regular-season team. That said, Baltimore will top the Bengals in a wild-card round meeting to extend the playoff misery of Marvin Lewis and Andy Dalton. The Ravens will then lose a close one at Indianapolis in the divisional round before the Colts go on to win the AFC championship.

Bonus Super Bowl pick that no one asked for: Green Bay will prevail over Indianapolis as Aaron Rodgers wins his second championship in a 34-24 final in Santa Clara.

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Ravens rule out Taliaferro, Perriman; Jernigan doubtful for Sunday

Posted on 11 September 2015 by Luke Jones

OWINGS MILLS, Md. — Making final preparations for their Week 1 meeting with the Denver Broncos, the Ravens are unlikely to have four players available for Sunday’s season opener.

Baltimore has officially ruled out running back Lorenzo Taliaferro (knee) and wide receiver Breshad Perriman (knee) and declared defensive tackle Timmy Jernigan (knee) and cornerback Rashaan Melvin (thigh) as doubtful to play against Denver.

After returning to practice on a limited basis Thursday, Jernigan expressed optimism that he might be able to play after hurting his knee in the third preseason game. The Ravens declaring him doubtful means he is estimated to only have a 25 percent chance of playing on Sunday.

Third-round rookie defensive tackle Carl Davis is expected to start if Jernigan cannot play.

“He’s a good rookie. He’s a big, strong guy. He has gotten better every week,” defensive corodinator Dean Pees said. “He takes coaching from [defensive line coach] Clarence Brooks every day, and Clarence is not easy on him. I love the kid. He’s going to make some rookie mistakes — they all do — but I really feel like this guy has come a long way just in the short amount of time that we’ve had him.”

Taliaferro and Melvin were limited participants in Friday’s practice. Taliaferro injured his right knee in the second preseason game against Philadelphia on Aug. 22, but he was running and working on his agility off to the side. His activity level suggested he may have a better chance to play in Week 2 than thought at the time of his injury.

Melvin did not appear to be doing much as he stood on the sideline during the special-teams portion of practice. The third-year cornerback hadn’t practiced since the third preseason game on Aug. 29 and dealt with a nagging hamstring issue for much of the summer.

With Melvin unlikely to play, the Ravens are projected to have only four healthy cornerbacks against the Broncos with one being rookie Tray Walker. Head coach John Harbaugh did not rule out the possibility of making a roster move before Sunday’s game and veteran cornerbacks Charles James and Asa Jackson are on the practice squad and have NFL experience.

Perriman was the only member of the 53-man roster not to participate in Friday’s workout. The 2015 first-round pick hasn’t practiced since spraining his knee six weeks ago. Defensive end Chris Canty and linebacker Daryl Smith both practiced fully on Friday and were listed as probable after receiving the previous day off.

The Broncos officially ruled out reserve defensive end Kenny Anunike (knee) and declared linebacker Lerentee McCray (groin) as questionable for Sunday’s game.

As they’ve done with their last two trips to Denver, the Ravens will not travel until Saturday afternoon as they subscribe to research suggesting that altitude doesn’t impact the body as dramatically in the first 24 hours of being in the new environment. In contrast, other teams have tried to travel to Denver a day or two early to try to get used to the thin air.

“We’ve done a lot of research on that, because we’ve been out there a few times,” Harbaugh said. “We have learned that the worst thing that you can do is go out two days before. That’s what the science tells us. You want to play, ideally, within 24 hours of your arrival in the altitude, and that’s what we’ll be doing with this trip. Then, it doesn’t affect you. That’s what we’re trying to do.”

Of course, the on-field results in Denver have been mixed for the Ravens as they won a double-overtime playoff thriller in Denver at the end of the 2012 season and were blown out in a 49-27 final to open 2013.

The referee for Sunday’s game will be Gene Steratore.

The forecast in Denver calls for mostly sunny skies and temperatures in the high 80s with no chance of precipitation and winds up to 10 miles per hour, according to Weather.com.

Below is the final injury report for Sunday’s game:

BALTIMORE
OUT: WR Breshad Perriman (knee), RB Lorenzo Taliaferro (knee)
DOUBTFUL: DT Timmy Jernigan (knee), CB Rashaan Melvin (thigh)
PROBABLE: DE Chris Canty (non-injury), LB Daryl Smith (non-injury)

DENVER
OUT: DE Kenny Anunike (knee)
QUESTIONABLE: LB Lerentee McCray (groin)
PROBABLE: S Omar Bolden (rib cage), WR Andre Caldwell (illness), TE Mitchell Henry (finger), LB Brandon Marshall (foot)

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Jernigan returns to practice while Melvin remains sidelined

Posted on 10 September 2015 by Luke Jones

OWINGS MILLS, Md. — Moving closer to the season opener in Denver, the Ravens welcomed back defensive tackle Timmy Jernigan to the practice field on Thursday afternoon.

Sidelined with a right knee injury since the third preseason game on Aug. 29, Jernigan appeared to be moving well in the portion of practice open to the media. It remains unclear whether he’ll be ready to return for Week 1 after missing nearly two weeks of practice.

“I think it’s going to be a real close call,” Jernigan said. “I’ve got a good feeling about it. It feels pretty good — just the little bit of reps I did at practice. The biggest thing is just seeing how long I can go for and making sure that [knee] doesn’t give out after a while.”

The second-year defensive lineman is expected to be the primary replacement for five-time Pro Bowl selection Haloti Ngata this season, but rookie Carl Davis impressed coaches and teammates in the preseason, creating much confidence that he can step into a starting role if Jernigan can’t play against the Broncos.

Davis made two starts in the preseason, collecting five tackles, a sack, and two pass breakups.

“The young guy, Carl, he’s been doing a good job for us,” linebacker Terrell Suggs said. “We’re really excited for him. We love Haloti [and he] will always be a Raven, but this young guy, we feel really good about him.”

Cornerback Rashaan Melvin (thigh), wide receiver Breshad Perriman (knee), and running back Lorenzo Taliaferro (knee) were once again missing from Thursday’s workout. Perriman and Taliaferro are not expected to play against Denver while Melvin hasn’t practiced since the third preseason game against Washington.

Melvin drew two starts in the preseason in place of veteran Lardarius Webb, who dealt with a hamstring issue for much of training camp.

After not appearing on the injury report on Wednesday, linebacker Daryl Smith and defensive end Chris Canty were not present for Thursday’s practice as head coach John Harbaugh has historically used that day of the week to rest select veteran players.

The Broncos had one addition to Thursday’s report as reserve receiver Andre Caldwell sat out practice with flu-like symptoms.

Below is Thursday’s injury report:

BALTIMORE
DID NOT PARTICIPATE: DE Chris Canty (non-injury), CB Rashaan Melvin (thigh), WR Breshad Perriman (knee), LB Daryl Smith (non-injury) RB Lorenzo Taliaferro (knee)
LIMITED PARTICIPATION: DT Timmy Jernigan (knee)

DENVER
DID NOT PARTICIPATE: DE Kenny Anunike (knee), WR Andre Caldwell (illness)
LIMITED PARTICIPATION: LB Lerentee McCray (groin)
FULL PARTICIPATION: S Omar Bolden (rib cage), TE Mitchell Henry (finger), LB Brandon Marshall (foot)

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Perriman not expected to play in season opener

Posted on 08 September 2015 by Luke Jones

OWINGS MILLS, Md. — Ravens head coach John Harbaugh spelled it out as clearly as he could without ruling rookie wide receiver Breshad Perriman out for Sunday’s season opener in Denver.

The 2015 first-round pick is not expected to play against the Broncos as he once again missed practice on Tuesday and hasn’t participated in a team workout since injuring his knee on July 30. After he said over the weekend that Perriman “has a chance” to play in Week 1, Harbaugh elected to clarify the sentiment when asked for injury updates as the Ravens returned to the practice field after a two-day respite.

“I saw the reports [that] ‘he has a chance’ and was like, ‘Yeah, he’s got a chance,'” Harbaugh said. “I think I was pretty clear it’s probably not a real big chance because he hasn’t practiced. I don’t have a time frame from the doctors. I don’t think it’s tremendously far down the road or we would have done something else with him as far as his status. When he comes back to practice, that will probably be a pretty good indicator that he’s going to be in the lineup pretty soon.”

With Perriman having missed nearly six weeks of action already, it remains to be seen how much practice time he would need to not only reestablish himself in the Baltimore offense but to also get into football shape.

Starting defensive tackle Timmy Jernigan (knee) was not present during the first few minutes of practice open to media as his status remains in question for the opener. Other players missing from Tuesday’s practice included cornerback Rashaan Melvin, running back Lorenzo Taliaferro (knee), and linebackers Terrell Suggs, Elvis Dumervil, and Daryl Smith. It was unclear whether the latter three were receiving a veteran day off or were late arrivals to the field.

Rookie tight end Maxx Williams was not wearing the red non-contact jersey he’s donned during practices over the last two weeks, a good sign for his availability against the Broncos. He did not play in the final two preseason games due to an upper body injury.

Asked about the uncertainty with the return game, Harbaugh acknowledged that he has an idea about who will handle kickoffs and punts, but he unsurprisingly would not reveal those plans to the media. For what it’s worth, second-year receiver Michael Campanaro was listed on the Week 1 depth chart as the only punt and kickoff returner, but cornerback Lardarius Webb and wide receiver Steve Smith both have experience as returners earlier in their careers.

“We have options. Certainly, all options are on the table and we’ll see going forward,” Harbaugh said. “I don’t think we’re in a position to make any announcements exactly yet. Like I said, we have more than one guy capable of going back there and doing it, and some of them might be situational as well. We’ll have a plan come Sunday.”

Veteran defensive end Lawrence Guy is now wearing No. 93, the jersey number previously worn by DeAngelo Tyson before he was waived on Saturday.

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Webb’s continued absence “certainly a concern” for Ravens

Posted on 25 August 2015 by Luke Jones

Photo courtesy of the Baltimore Ravens

OWINGS MILLS, Md. — Ravens cornerback Lardarius Webb finds himself in a place all too familiar at this time of the year.

The sideline.

Dealing with a hamstring injury suffered more than two weeks ago, the 29-year-old has missed Baltimore’s first two preseason games and hasn’t participated in a preseason game since Aug. 22, 2013. And with Webb coming off a less-than-impressive 2014 campaign hindered in part by a back injury, defensive coordinator Dean Pees wants to see the veteran on the field this summer.

“It is not his fault. He’s trying to do what he can to rehab and get ready to go, but it is certainly a concern,” Pees said. “I’d be fooling you to tell you I didn’t think it was a concern. I want guys out there practicing so we can see where they are and know where they are. The conditioning thing — all those kind of things — yes, it’s a concern. I hope we still can get him out here in the next week or so, but at this point, I wish he was out there.”

This marks the third straight summer in which Webb has been limited for injury reasons. In 2013, he was returning from the second ACL injury of his career suffered the previous fall. Last year, Webb went down with a back injury on the first day of full-squad workouts and didn’t return until a few weeks into the regular season.

The summer had already started in humbling fashion for Webb when he failed the conditioning test upon reporting to Owings Mills. Acknowledging it wasn’t a good look after a disappointing 2014, he passed the test the following day, but his play was uneven over the first two weeks of practice before he pulled up lame covering rookie Darren Waller on a deep sideline route on Aug. 10.

Webb’s absence has created more opportunities for third-year cornerback Rashaan Melvin, who started and performed well in Saturday’s 40-17 loss to the Philadelphia Eagles. While many remember the 6-foot-2 defensive back’s poor showing against Tom Brady and the New England Patriots in the playoffs, Melvin played well in two regular-season starts and in the playoff win at Pittsburgh last January.

After a slow start this spring due to offseason shoulder surgery, Melvin continues to improve and is garnering more and more attention as a potential starter down the road, especially if Webb doesn’t bounce back from the difficulties of last season.

“This guy did a lot for us late in the year,” Pees said. “I really give him a lot of credit coming over from Tampa Bay and coming in and all of the sudden getting thrown into the mix and having to play — in the playoffs of all things. I thought he started slow a little bit in [organized team activities] — maybe a little bit because of the surgery and the injury — and I think he has gotten better and better and better.

“I know sometimes it is hard to find bright spots in a game that you lose, but I thought he and [rookie Tray] Walker both were bright spots for us at the corner position [on Saturday].”

Jackson in lead for return job

Special teams coordinator Jerry Rosburg still hasn’t come to a decision on the primary return specialist job, but reserve cornerback Asa Jackson remains the leader in the clubhouse.

The fourth-year defensive back has returned two punts for 17 yards and two kickoffs for 41 yards in two preseason games.

“We’ll see what happens this week, but it’s a work in progress,” Rosburg said. “We’re working a lot of different guys in practice, and we have to come to some decisions soon, because it’s going to happen quickly. This week, Asa is going to start off for us on punt return and he’s going to start off for us on kick return, and then we’re going to go from there.”

Trying to replace former Pro Bowl return specialist Jacoby Jones, Rosburg has been frustrated by the opposition’s reluctance to provide evaluation opportunities with kickoffs as many have instead sailed through the end zone and some opposing returners have downed kicks in the end zone over the first two preseason games.

“We let them play. We try to see who can cover kicks,” Rosburg said. “That’s what we do. But again, I can’t control what other coaches are doing. It makes no sense to me, either, why you’d down a ball two yards into the end zone. That makes no sense to me either. Take it out. Let’s go. That’s why we’re here.”

Rookie ready to fill in for Taliaferro

Though disappointed to see the opportunity come at the expensive of the injured Lorenzo Taliaferro, fourth-round rookie running back Buck Allen is confident that he’s ready to step up as the primary backup to Justin Forsett.

“It’s times like this where you prove yourself,” Allen said. “Can you step in and be that guy and provide for your team and have your team believe in you? It’s a great opportunity for me to go out here and show my teammates and coaches that I’ve been studying my game and in my playbook.”

Allen has carried 17 times for 54 yards and says his ability to pick up blitzes has been his biggest improvement since being drafted out of USC this spring. It’s an attribute he’s likely gained from Forsett, who is regarded as an excellent blocker in the backfield.

The 6-foot, 220-pound rookie back says there are plenty of lessons to learn from Forsett in the classroom as well as on the practice field.

“He’s been through it all from fourth-string guy to being No. 1,” Allen said. “If I follow his lead, I can go down the right path. Justin does a great job of motivating guys in the room and making sure we’re on track and doing the right thing.”

 

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