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Ravens-Jaguars: Inactives and pre-game notes

Posted on 24 September 2017 by Luke Jones

LONDON — For the first time in the 22-year history of the franchise, the Ravens are playing a game outside the United States as they take on Jacksonville at Wembley Stadium in London.

Having arrived Friday morning, Baltimore aims to start 3-0 for the second year in a row and just the third time in the John Harbaugh era. The Jaguars are playing in London for the fifth straight year, giving them the experience edge in adjusting to the five-hour time change and playing in the iconic venue. However, the number of Baltimore fans witnessed on the streets of London compared to Jacksonville fans this week could give the Ravens a home-field feel at Wembley.

The biggest surprise on the list of inactives was offensive lineman Tony Bergstrom, who filled in for the injured Marshal Yanda in the second half of last Sunday’s game. Recently promoted from the practice squad, Matt Skura was lining up as the starting right guard during pre-game warmups and did start all four preseason games last month.

Rookie offensive lineman and London native Jermaine Eluemunor is also active for the first time this season.

The Ravens will be without their anchor on the defensive line after Brandon Williams (foot) was already ruled out on Friday. Third-year defensive tackle Carl Davis will start in his place in the base defense, but second-year defensive lineman Willie Henry is also active for the first time this season.

Despite missing practices in Owings Mills on Wednesday and Thursday, running back Terrance West (calf) is active and will play. He received just two carries in the second half of the 24-10 win over Cleveland as Buck Allen and Alex Collins handled the workload in the backfield.

Outside linebacker Za’Darius Smith (knee/ankle) is also active and will return to action for the first time since the season opener. He was a full participant in practice all week and was moving around well during a pre-game workout.

There were no surprises among the Jacksonville inactives as both left tackle Cam Robinson (shoulder) and cornerback Jalen Ramsey (ankle) were activated despite being listed as questionable on the final injury report.

Sunday’s referee is Pete Morelli.

According to Weather.com, the Sunday forecast in London calls for partly cloudy skies and temperatures reaching 70 degrees with winds up to 10 miles per hour and no chance of precipitation.

The Ravens are wearing white jerseys with black pants while the Jaguars don black tops with black pants for Week 3.

Sunday marks the 21st all-time meeting between these former AFC Central rivals with Jacksonville holding an 11-9 advantage. However, the Ravens are 9-3 against the Jaguars since the start of the 2000 season and won last year’s Week 3 meeting between the teams in Jacksonville.

Below are Sunday’s inactives:

BALTIMORE
OL Tony Bergstrom
DE Chris Wormley
DE Bronson Kaufusi
DT Brandon Williams
CB Jaylen Hill
OT Diegot Joseph
TE Maxx Williams

JACKSONVILLE
QB Ryan Nassib
RB T.J. Yeldon
LB Lerentee McCray
OL William Poehls
OL Josh Walker
CB Jalen Myrick
WR Jaelen Strong

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Ravens-Jaguars: Five predictions for Sunday

Posted on 23 September 2017 by Luke Jones

The Ravens face a familiar opponent in unfamiliar territory on Sunday.

Playing Jacksonville for the fourth consecutive season, Baltimore will play its first ever game in London at the famous Wembley Stadium. The Ravens seek their third 3-0 start of the John Harbaugh era while the Jaguars try to rebound from an embarrassing home loss to Tennessee.

Of course, poor health continues to be a major part of the story for the Ravens as a staggering 15 players have already been placed on injured reserve — along with practice-squad member Jeremy Langford — and four additional players have already been ruled out for Week 3.

It’s time to go on the record as Baltimore seeks its second consecutive win over the Jaguars, who still lead the all-time series with an 11-9 mark that largely stems from the days of the old AFC Central. The Ravens have won nine of the last 12 meetings dating back to the 2000 season.

Below are five predictions for Sunday:

1. Even without Brandon Williams, Baltimore will hold Leonard Fournette to less than 3.5 yards per carry. The Jaguars rank ninth in the NFL in rushing yards per game while the Ravens defense has been leakier against the run than you’d expect at 4.0 yards per carry allowed. There was plenty of debate in the offseason about whether giving Williams a lucrative deal was the best use of cap resources when you considered the young depth on the defensive line that includes nose tackle Michael Pierce. We’ll find out how that group looks against a rookie running back with exceptional talent.

2. Mike Wallace and Allen Hurns will catch touchdown passes for their respective teams. The Baltimore receiver was sure to emphasize that he wants to win more than anything when he talked about wanting the ball more this week, but offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg does need to get the downfield passing game going. Jaguars cornerback Jalen Ramsey is dealing with an ankle injury, which should leave his secondary vulnerable to a big play. Meanwhile, Hurns has been forced to pick up the slack for the injured Allen Robinson, and the Ravens have given up some yards through the air so far.

3. The Ravens will finish with under 100 rushing yards in their first full game without Marshal Yanda. Only Denver recorded more carries than the Ravens over the first two weeks of the season and the Jaguars have given up 136.0 yards per game on the ground, but the loss of a six-time Pro Bowl guard will impact any team’s ability in the trenches. Harbaugh has expressed confidence in new right guard Tony Bergstrom, but he struggled last week and will have his hands full with defensive tackle Malik Jackson. It also doesn’t help that starting running back Terrance West is dealing with a calf issue.

4. Tony Jefferson will record his first interception for one of two Ravens’ takeaways on the day. It’s incredible to think Baltimore has already surpassed its interception total from the entire 2015 season, but Jefferson is the lone member of the starting secondary not to grab one thus far, which has earned him plenty of ribbing from defensive teammates. The Jaguars will do everything they can to keep the game out of the hands of maligned quarterback Blake Bortles, but he’s thrown 53 interceptions in 48 career games and will be picked off by Jefferson at a critical moment of a low-scoring game.

5. Justin Tucker will shine in a grind-it-out 16-13 victory for Baltimore. The Jaguars’ experience playing overseas and the need to adjust to the five-hour time change are legitimate concerns for the Ravens, who were 2-6 on the road last season and haven’t played well away from M&T Bank Stadium for years now. It won’t be a pretty performance, but Tucker will hit a field goal from beyond 50 yards and add two more to put on a good show for the soccer faithful in London. With Pittsburgh and Oakland looming in the next two weeks, the Ravens would very much like to win this one.

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Ravens officially rule out Brandon Williams, three others for Sunday

Posted on 22 September 2017 by Luke Jones

LONDON — Already facing the challenge of replacing six-time Pro Bowl guard Marshal Yanda for the remainder of the season, the Ravens will also be without their best defensive lineman in London.

After missing practices in Owings Mills this week with a foot injury, defensive tackle Brandon Williams did not make the trip across the Atlantic Ocean and was officially ruled out for Sunday’s contest against Jacksonville. The absence of Williams presents a bigger challenge against a Jaguars offense committed to running the ball with first-round rookie Leonard Fournette and veteran Chris Ivory.

Third-year defensive tackle Carl Davis is expected to start in Williams’ place at Wembley Stadium. In 13 snaps against Cleveland in Week 2, the 2015 third-round pick from Iowa finished with two tackles.

“Carl is going to have to step up,” defensive coordinator Dean Pees said Thursday. “We played him a little bit last week, and we thought he did a pretty good job against the run. He had a nice tackle for loss down there in the backed-up area.”

The Ravens also ruled out tight end Maxx Williams (ankle), cornerback Jaylen Hill (thigh), and recently-signed offensive tackle Dieugot Joseph (non-injury related) for Sunday’s game, leaving them with just three other players to deactivate for Week 3. Maxx Williams injured his left ankle late in last Sunday’s win over the Browns and exited the post-game locker room wearing a walking boot.

In more encouraging news, running back Terrance West (calf) returned to practice as a full participant Friday after missing the first two practices of the week. The starter received only two carries in the second half of the Browns game and is officially listed as questionable to play on Sunday, but his participation level in the final workout of the week would appear to bode well for his status.

Outside linebacker Za’Darius Smith (knee/ankle) was also listed as questionable, but he is poised to return to action after practicing fully all week. He did not play in Week 2 after injuring his leg early in the second quarter of the season opener on Sept. 10.

The Jaguars officially ruled out recently-acquired wide receiver Jaelen Strong with a hamstring injury while 2016 first-round cornerback Jalen Ramsey (ankle) was designated as questionable. The latter is expected to play, however.

Sunday’s forecast at Wembley Stadium calls for mostly sunny skies with temperatures reaching the low 70s and only a 10 percent chance of precipitation, according to Weather.com.

Below is the final injury report of the week:

BALTIMORE
OUT: CB Jaylen Hill (thigh), OT Dieugot Joseph (non-injury), DT Brandon Williams (foot), TE Maxx Williams (ankle)
QUESTIONABLE: WR Michael Campanaro (ankle), DB Anthony Levine (chest), WR Chris Matthews (ankle), LB Za’Darius Smith (knee/ankle), RB Terrance West (calf)

JACKSONVILLE
OUT: WR Jaelen Strong (hamstring), LB Lerentee McCray (knee)
QUESTIONABLE: QB Chad Henne (illness), CB Jalen Ramsey (ankle), OL Cam Robinson (shoulder)

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Za’Darius Smith returns to practice as Ravens set sights on London

Posted on 21 September 2017 by Luke Jones

LONDON — On the eve of their departure for London, the Ravens welcomed back a member of their pass rush as Za’Darius Smith was a full participant in Wednesday’s practice.

The third-year outside linebacker missed the Week 2 victory over Cleveland after injuring his knee and ankle in the first half of the season opener. It now appears he’ll return for Sunday’s game against rookie running back Leonard Fournette and the Jacksonville Jaguars at Wembley Stadium.

Smith’s return was overshadowed by the absences of five other players, a list headlined by star defensive tackle Brandon Williams as he continues to recover from a foot injury. Head coach John Harbaugh said Monday that Williams is not dealing with a “long-term” injury, but it remains unclear when he will return to action.

Baltimore’s depth in the trenches does ease concerns over Williams’ absence as three defensive linemen — Bronson Kaufusi, Willie Henry, and Chris Wormley — have been healthy scratches for the first two games of the 2017 season. With Williams missing the second half of the Browns game, third-year defensive tackle Carl Davis saw 13 snaps in the 24-10 win.

“Those guys want to play, and they are fighting like crazy in practice,” Harbaugh said. “It makes our practices better. We have young players that need to get better, and when they get their chance, they need to play well. Carl stepped up and played well last game. We’ll see what happens.”

Running back Terrance West (calf), wide receiver Michael Campanaro (ankle), tight end Maxx Williams (ankle), and cornerback Jaylen Hill (thigh) were also listed as non-participants in Wednesday’s practice. West received only two carries in the second half of the Cleveland game, leading to more opportunities for backup Buck Allen and the recently-promoted Alex Collins.

Offensive linemen Matt Skura and Dieugot Joseph both took part in practice after being added to the 53-man roster Tuesday to take the places of six-time Pro Bowl guard Marshal Yanda (ankle) and rookie linebacker Bam Bradley (knee), who were both placed on injured reserve. Skura started all four preseason games for the Ravens before being waived at the end of the summer and signed to the practice squad while Joseph had been a member of Chicago’s developmental squad.

The Ravens were scheduled to fly to London following Thursday afternoon’s practice. Harbaugh said the organization is basically following what other teams have done in their trips across the Atlantic Ocean in recent years. The biggest challenge will be adjusting to the five-hour time change just two days ahead of their meeting with the Jaguars, a team the Ravens are facing for the fourth consecutive season.

Jacksonville is also playing a game at Wembley Stadium for the fifth consecutive season.

“I do not know if any teams lately have gone over the whole week [based on] our research that [team president] Dick Cass did,” Harbaugh said. “Dick really spearheaded this for us. He was out in front of this and did the homework on it and came up with the basic format for what we are doing and did a great job with it.”

Below is Wednesday’s full injury report:

BALTIMORE
DID NOT PARTICIPATE: WR Michael Campanaro (ankle), CB Jaylen Hill (thigh), RB Terrance West (calf), DT Brandon Williams (foot), TE Maxx Williams (ankle)
LIMITED PARTICIPATION: DB Anthony Levine (chest)
FULL PARTICIPATION: LB Za’Darius Smith (knee/ankle)

JACKSONVILLE
DID NOT PARTICIPATE: S Tashaun Gipson (ankle), LB Lerentee McCray (knee), C Brandon Linder (knee)
LIMITED PARTICIPATION: WR Jaelen Strong (hamstring), CB Jalen Ramsey (ankle), DT Malik Jackson (groin)
FULL PARTICIPATION: QB Blake Bortles (right wrist), WR Allen Hurns (shoulder)

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Brandon Williams not dealing with “long-term” foot injury

Posted on 18 September 2017 by Luke Jones

OWINGS MILLS, Md. — The Ravens won’t have the services of veteran right guard Marshal Yanda for the rest of the season, and it remains unclear when another pillar of their roster will return to action.

The news wasn’t as bleak on defensive tackle Brandon Williams after he left Sunday’s game with a foot injury, but his status for the Week 3 tilt against Jacksonville in London remains unclear after he played only 19 snaps against Cleveland.

Third-year tight end Maxx Williams also appeared to injure his left foot in the second half and left the post-game locker room wearing a walking boot.

“I don’t have any word on those guys at this time,” Harbaugh said. “Those were not long-term injuries, so you probably won’t be getting any updates on that.”

What Harbaugh considers a “long-term” injury to be is open for interpretation, of course. The first injury report of the week will be released on Wednesday afternoon.

The Ravens were already without outside linebacker Za’Darius Smith (knee/ankle) and cornerback Jaylen Hill (thigh) for Sunday’s 24-10 win over the Browns. Smith was injured in the first half of the season opener in Cincinnati while Hill has been sidelined with a hamstring injury since the final week of the preseason.

With Yanda and rookie linebacker Bam Bradley (knee) lost for the season in Week 2, the Ravens will have an incredible 15 players on injured reserve when those transactions become official. In the former’s case, the fractured ankle will snap an impressive stretch of six consecutive trips to the Pro Bowl.

“He’ll have his surgery soon. He had a couple things in there he had to deal with,” said Harbaugh, who added that Yanda would need some “plating” to repair the fracture. “But he was really disappointed. You’ll get a chance to speak with him. He’ll definitely speak for himself on that, but it’d be sufficed to say [that] it was tough, hard for him. As tough as it is for the team, and for all of us, the thing you have to keep in mind how tough it is for the player.”

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Thoughts and comments on Ravens win over the Browns

Posted on 18 September 2017 by Dennis Koulatsos

Here are my Monday morning thoughts after the Ravens solid performance over the Browns, and my view from my vantage point from the upper deck of M&T Bank Stadium:

  • The elation of being 2-0 was tempered by a season ending injury to future Hall of Fame guard Marshal Yanda.  He suffered a broken ankle when a Cleveland player rolled on his ankle.
  • Newly acquired G/T Tony Bergstrom replaced Yanda in the lineup, and played well for the 32 snaps that he was in.
  • Yanda hadn’t allowed a sack since game 7 of the 2015 season versus the Arizona Cardinals.
  • RB Terrance West definitely has a nose for the goal line. You can see by his body language just how much he wants the ball any time the Ravens get in the red zone.
  • Speaking of running backs, Buck Allen had a very nice game (highlighted by a 37 yard run) and fresh-up-from-the-practice-squad Alex Collins also shined.  Looks like the Ravens now have a 3-headed monster at the position, with 3 backs that have different skill sets to offer.
  • Although Collins put the ball on the ground – primarily due to second effort – he ran hard and decisively.  His “one cut plant the foot in the ground and go” style fits in well with Greg Roman’s power blocking scheme.
  • More Collins: much like Tony Jefferson he had a bad combine, and dropped to 5th round primarily because he ran a 4.59 40.  But when you roll the tape of him at Arkansas, you see vision, balance, toughness, and enough speed to get the job done.
  • Coach Harbaugh has to love the competition at running back.  The Ravens commitment to the run has served them well through 2 games, so expect more of the same going forward.
  • TE Benjamin Watson had a break out game with the Ravens. Targeted 8 times by QB Joe Flacco, he caught all of them for 91 years, and more importantly 40 after the catch. His blocking was also outstanding and contributed to the running game’s success.
  • The other two tight ends also received high grades for their blocking.  Nick Boyle really stood out, as he consistently sealed the edge and gave Ravens’ running back daylight to the outside. Maxx Williams’ status is up in the air, as he was seeing leaving the stadium in a walking the boot right after the game.
  • Austin Howard has done a nice job coming in as the team’s new right tackle.  He also had a nice game against a tough Cleveland front.
  • Brandon Carr’s veteran presence has been impressive on the field.  The Browns were definitely targeting him and he came up big, capping a nice day with a timely drive killing interception.
  • Joe Flacco was more accurate than usual, and looked a lot more comfortable moving around in the pocket versus one week ago.  Even in warm ups he was airing the ball out.
  • The interception Flacco threw was inexcusable and careless.  Jabrill Peppers and Jason McCourty were both playing very deep, and there was no way that Mike Wallace was going to out jump them for the ball.  Mike Wallace can win 50/50 foot races, but he’s not going to win many 50/50 jump balls.
  • Flacco was hot against the blitz.  Browns defensive coordinator Greg Williams blitzed early and often, but the Ravens QB was poised and able to deliver the ball to his open receivers.
  • The Cleveland linebackers had a horrible day, as they couldn’t cover the Ravens backs and tight ends.  Kudos to the Ravens offensive coordinators for a great game plan against them and great execution by the players.
  • Rookie CB Marlon Humphrey allowed only one pass to be completed against him, and it was for only 3 yards.  Talk about press coverage!  He just gets inside of people’s shirts and doesn’t let go.  He was on the field for only 11 plays, and I expect to see him continue to earn more playing time as the season progresses. He has the DNA to be a shutdown corner down the line.
  • Big ups to coach Harbaugh.  With just 5 ticks left on the clock right before halftime, the Ravens had the ball on the Browns’ 2 yard line.  My whole section – including me – were screaming “take the points!”  Of course we know that Flacco completed a pass to Jeremy Maclin in the end zone for the touchdown, which put the Ravens up by 14 points instead of 10.
  • Rookie LB Tyus Bowser got a sack and an interception.  He is big, fast, fluid and instinctive.  GM Ozzie Newsome really did a great job in finding some gems in this year’s NFL draft.
  • Terrell Suggs usually doesn’t have a great game against Joe Thomas, but in his defense, not many rush ends do.  Yesterday was an exception though, as Suggs clearly got the best of him.  He harassed the Browns’ QBs all day and his tenacity was rewarded by a strip sack.
  • WR Jeremy Maclin got his second touchdown in as many games as a Raven.  He’s going to keep Jimmy’s Famous Seafood’s kitchen busy popping out those great crabcakes for him all season long!
  • Safety Lardarius Webb got his second interception of the season, and it was a big one as it was in the endzone.  He also had a couple of big hits that got the attention of the Browns’ receivers.
  • The Ravens had a 7 minute edge in time of possession over the Browns. It was less than the 9 minutes they held the ball longer than the Bengals in the prior week, but even more so impressive as the Browns run defense in particular was a more stout group.
  • The Ravens now have 10 takeaways in 2 games, and have themselves turned over the ball 3 times this season, giving them a +7 in that area.
  • The Ravens rushed the ball 32 times for 136 yards.
  • Breshad Perriman had a ball bounce off of his hands on a slant pattern.  You could hear the “brick” sound all the way in the upper deck.  He really has to turn it on before the “bust” whispers get louder.
  • Love to see the Ravens get Mike Wallace more involved in the passing game.  I understand that Jeremy Maclin is a better player, but Wallace showed last year that he is still capable of being productive and putting up some good numbers.
  • We haven’t heard his named called the last 2 games, and that’s a good thing.  I’m talking about LG James Hurst. No news is good news.
  • Glad to see the Ravens improved in cleaning up penalties.  They had 7 for 45 yards, in sharp contrast to the undisciplined Browns’ 11 for 65 yards.
  • It’s natural to root for high draft picks to develop, but clearly WLB Patrick Onwuasor is a better player than Kamalei Correa.  For his part, Correa is a good team teammate as he is always smiling and supportive.  He has good body language.

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Yanda injury puts more pressure on Ravens defense to be special

Posted on 17 September 2017 by Luke Jones

BALTIMORE — The Ravens deserved to feel good about their 24-10 win over Cleveland Sunday to improve to 2-0 on the young season.

The defense was its own toughest critic after the game for allowing seven plays of 20 or more yards, but the Browns managed only 10 points, went 2-for-12 on third down, finished 0-for-1 in the red zone, and committed five turnovers. You’ll gladly take that kind of defensive performance in those four major categories while working to iron out the other kinks.

But the loss of six-time Pro Bowl guard Marshal Yanda to a season-ending ankle injury put a damper on the post-game locker room and was on the minds of even those on the opposite side of the ball. That’s how badly this one hurts for the Ravens.

“He is a leader. There is not a word in English dictionary that can describe — well, I can’t find one right now — what Marshal is to us,” said outside linebacker Terrell Suggs, Yanda’s teammate for the last decade. “It hurts. That hurts to lose your bell cow. But, the Ravens, our motto is ‘the next man up.’ We are going to miss him.”

The offensive line had already lost above-average right tackle Rick Wagner to free agency, starting left guard Alex Lewis and 2017 fourth-round guard Nico Siragusa to season-ending injuries in training camp, and fourth-year interior lineman John Urschel to a surprising retirement in late July. Those types of losses test an offensive line’s depth, but Yanda has long been the glue and heart of the group. He’s that rare talent who raises the play of those around him, meaning an already-suspect unit becomes even more troubling without him moving forward.

Other than quarterback Joe Flacco, Yanda was probably the player the Ravens offense could least afford to lose.

The Ravens did manage to rush for 69 yards on 20 carries in the second half to help protect a 21-7 halftime lead after Yanda was injured on the first play of scrimmage in the third quarter, but it’s not as simple as plugging in recently-acquired journeyman Tony Bergstrom at right guard and assuming all will be fine. It’s the latest challenge — and the biggest one yet — for an offense that’s been ravaged by injuries over the last 3 1/2 months.

“Even before I came here, everybody in the league knows about Marshal, how special he is, his excellence on the offensive line, and the way guys gravitate toward him, the leader that he is,” 14th-year tight end Benjamin Watson said. “It’s definitely going to hurt. Football is a team game. We’re going to put 11 on the field, and someone is going to play.”

Making the injury more frustrating is that the offense showed progress from Week 1 when it rode the coattails of a defensive shutout and really only needed to run the football at a functional level. Against the Browns, Flacco used an array of bootlegs and play-action passes to throw for two touchdowns and 217 yards with only one interception. The Ravens also rushed for 136 yards and averaged a solid 4.3 yards per carry.

But you can’t help but feel the Yanda injury represents at least a couple steps back after the stride forward on Sunday. Filling that colossal void won’t be easy, putting more pressure on the defense to continue playing at an elite level in the meantime.

Perhaps the group is up to the challenge after forcing 10 turnovers in the first two weeks of the season, an output incredibly just four shy of Baltimore’s total number of takeaways for the entire 2015 season. The competition will get tougher in the coming weeks, but this Ravens defense looks like it can be special.

It will need to be with the offense now forced to find its new footing after losing the best guard in football.

“No one can replace Marshal Yanda — no one person,” head coach John Harbaugh said. “But I think we traded for [Bergstrom] for a reason, and our scouts believed in him. It looks like a good trade. Everyone is going to have to collectively raise their effort level, their execution level to make up for the loss of a player like Marshal.”

Fair or not, that “everyone” will include a defense that’s already been rather spectacular.

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Ravens-Browns: Inactives and pre-game notes

Posted on 17 September 2017 by Luke Jones

BALTIMORE — The Ravens aim to continue their dominance over Cleveland that spans nearly two decades.

Playing their 20th home opener at M&T Bank Stadium Sunday afternoon, Baltimore looks to improve to 2-0 after a superb defensive performance in Cincinnati last week to kick off the 2017 season. Meanwhile, the Browns try to rebound from a close home loss to Pittsburgh and avoid an 0-2 start in head coach Hue Jackson’s second season.

Wide receiver Michael Campanaro (ankle) and outside linebacker Tim Williams (illness) are both active despite being listed as questionable on the final injury report of the week. Campanaro completed an early pre-game workout and showed no lingering effects from the ankle issue that surfaced during Friday’s practice. Williams’ availability is a positive development with outside linebacker Za’Darius Smith out after suffering a knee-ankle injury in Week 1.

The Ravens’ most notable healthy scratch was second-year wide receiver Chris Moore, who is listed as the primary kick returner on the team’s official depth chart. The 2016 fourth-round pick is coming off a disappointing training camp and did not play a single offensive snap in Week 1.

On Saturday, the Ravens promoted running back Alex Collins and cornerback Tony McRae from their practice squad, waived running back Jeremy Langford, and placed cornerback Sheldon Price (concussion) on injured reserve. Both Collins and McRae are active for Sunday’s game.

For the second straight week, the Ravens deactivated three of their eight defensive linemen on the 53-man roster, making one wonder how much longer they can continue to carry so many players in that positional group.

The Browns will be without the first overall pick of the 2017 draft as defensive end Myles Garrett remains sidelined with an ankle injury. He was officially declared out on Friday.

Sunday’s referee is Gene Steratore.

According to Weather.com, the Sunday forecast in Baltimore calls for mostly cloudy skies and temperatures reaching the low 80s with winds up to six miles per hour and only a 15 percent chance of precipitation.

The Ravens are wearing purple jerseys with white pants for their home opener while the Browns don white tops with white pants.

Sunday marks the 37th all-time meeting between these AFC North teams with Baltimore enjoying an overwhelming 27-9 advantage dating back to 1999. The Ravens are 16-2 against Cleveland in the John Harbaugh era.

Below are Sunday’s inactives:

BALTIMORE
WR Chris Moore
CB Jaylen Hill
DT Willie Henry
OL Jermaine Eluemunor
LB Za’Darius Smith
DE Bronson Kaufusi
DE Chris Wormley

CLEVELAND
QB Cody Kessler
WR Reggie Davis
OL Marcus Martin
OL Zach Banner
WR Kasen Williams
DL Myles Garrett
DL T.Y. McGill

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Ravens-Browns: Five predictions for Sunday

Posted on 15 September 2017 by Luke Jones

What will the Ravens defense do for an encore?

After recording their first shutout since 2009 in a 20-0 victory over Cincinnati, the Ravens host Cleveland in M&T Bank Stadium’s 20th home opener. And a defense that picked off Bengals veteran Andy Dalton four times and collected five sacks will face a rookie quarterback. Under head coach John Harbaugh, Baltimore hasn’t lost a home game to a first-year quarterback.

A victory would give the Ravens their fourth 2-0 start in Harbaugh’s 10 seasons while the Browns are trying to avoid an 0-2 start that would put them in a last-place tie with Cincinnati. Both teams are on the road next week.

It’s time to go on the record as the Ravens look to improve to 17-2 against the Browns in the Harbaugh era. Baltimore swept the season series last year and is 27-9 against Cleveland and 14-4 against the AFC North opponent at home in the all-time series.

Below are five predictions for Sunday afternoon:

1. Buck Allen will lead the Ravens in receptions filling in for the injured Danny Woodhead. Much discussion this week has centered around the novelty of Michael Campanaro taking on Woodhead’s responsibilities, but a 191-pound receiver isn’t a threat to run between the tackles or pass block in the backfield. It’s easy to forget after Allen’s disappointing 2016 campaign, but he caught 45 passes for 353 yards and two touchdowns in 393 offensive snaps as a rookie. He’s the best in-house bet to try to replicate Woodhead, and the Ravens need him to do a decent impression for the offense to click.

2. Baltimore will register its first defensive touchdown in nearly two years. Despite finishing tied for fourth in the NFL with 28 takeaways a year ago, the Ravens defense wasn’t able to take any of those back to the end zone, which hurt with a below-average offense that often struggled to finish drives. Lardarius Webb came very close last week with his interception off a batted pass that was returned to the Cincinnati 2. Given the ability and depth of this defense going against a rookie quarterback, Sunday feels like the overdue time for the first defensive score since C.J. Mosley’s fumble return on Sept. 27, 2015.

3. Browns quarterback DeShone Kizer will show some moxie orchestrating a touchdown drive despite being sacked four times. The second-round pick from Notre Dame had his moments against Pittsburgh, but the challenge is even tougher on the road against a defense vying to be the NFL’s best. Kizer was sacked seven times in Week 1, but a few of those were a result of him holding the ball too long. The Ravens aren’t going to shut out their opponent and have five takeaways every week, but they’ll still create pressure against an offensive line better than the one they faced in the season opener.

4. Joe Flacco will connect with Mike Wallace for a long touchdown in an otherwise run-heavy day for the offense. The Ravens won’t carry the ball 40-plus times again, but it’s easy to be committed to the run when holding a lead at home like they will Sunday. That said, offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg does want to see more from Flacco and the passing game with some tough games approaching in the not-too-distant future. Browns cornerbacks Jason McCourty and Jamar Taylor are shaky at best, meaning Wallace will find enough space for a deep ball after a quiet Week 1 performance.

5. The Ravens will steadily remain in control in a 23-10 win to improve to 2-0 on the season. Cleveland has an improved roster and now needs to find out whether Kizer can be that elusive franchise quarterback the organization has lacked for decades. The Ravens will have their struggles moving the ball consistently against a decent front, but the Browns offense just isn’t going to do enough to seriously challenge in this game. It will be interesting to see what kind of progress Cleveland has made when these teams meet again in December, but the Ravens shouldn’t have too much trouble in Week 2.

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Ravens rule out Z. Smith; declare Campanaro, T. Williams questionable

Posted on 15 September 2017 by Luke Jones

OWINGS MILLS, Md. — The Ravens could find themselves thin at outside linebacker for their home opener against the Cleveland Browns on Sunday.

As expected, outside linebacker Za’Darius Smith was declared out with a knee and ankle injury sustained in last week’s win over Cincinnati, but rookie outside linebacker Tim Williams was listed as questionable on the final injury report after missing practice time with an illness this week. The third-round pick from Alabama did return to the field on a limited basis Friday, but his absence could be detrimental to his game-day status after he was already a healthy scratch in Week 1.

If Williams were to be inactive, the Ravens would have only three healthy outside linebackers in starters Terrell Suggs and Matt Judon and rookie second-round pick Tyus Bowser. In past seasons, the presence of Albert McClellan would help as the veteran can play all four linebacker positions, but he was lost for the season with a torn ACL last month.

Baltimore added wide receiver Michael Campanaro to Friday’s injury report after he was a limited practice participant because of an ankle issue. He was listed as questionable for Sunday’s game at M&T Bank Stadium.

With veteran running back Danny Woodhead placed on injured reserve with a hamstring injury earlier this week, many have identified Campanaro as someone who could see more targets from the slot and in the underneath passing game. Of course, injuries have mostly derailed the start of the River Hill graduate’s NFL career.

After missing practices all week, cornerbacks Jaylen Hill (hamstring) and Sheldon Price (concussion) were officially ruled out for Sunday.

Meanwhile, the Browns confirmed that defensive linemen Myles Garrett (ankle) and T.Y. McGill (back) will not play in Week 2. Veteran guard Kevin Zeitler (thumb) was removed from the final injury report after practicing fully on Friday.

Below is the final injury report of the week:

BALTIMORE
OUT: CB Jaylen Hill (thigh), CB Sheldon Price (concussion), LB Za’Darius Smith (knee, ankle)
QUESTIONABLE: WR Michael Campanaro (ankle), LB Tim Williams (illness)

CLEVELAND
OUT: DL Myles Garrett (ankle), DL T.Y. McGill (back)

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