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Will Hill makes good on second chance with Ravens

Posted on 27 August 2015 by Luke Jones

OWINGS MILLS, Md. — A recent conversation with his father reinforced to Will Hill why he didn’t want to be anywhere else after the Ravens had given the talented, but troubled safety a chance last summer.

“He was like, ‘Look, this is a great fit for you,'” said the 25-year-old, who signed a two-year deal with the Ravens on Thursday. “He said, ‘If you ever come across getting a deal, all that off-the-field stuff, it has got to go. I know you’ve been doing a great job with it, and let’s just keep it up.’

“That has been playing through my head every day.”

He’s come a long way in a little over a year.

After being handed the third suspension of his young career last spring, Hill was promptly released by the New York Giants and faced a six-game ban to begin the 2014 season for violating the league’s substance abuse policy. Despite facing their own scrutiny with the Ray Rice saga and four other player arrests hanging over their heads at the time, the Ravens signed Hill to a one-year contract last July with the expectation that he would need to stay out of trouble while serving his suspension to receive a chance.

Returning in Week 7 and immediately becoming a meaningful part of the defense, Hill started the final eight games of the regular season, collecting 42 tackles, four pass breakups, and an interception returned for a touchdown against New Orleans in Week 12. Pro Football Focus graded Hill as its 14th-best safety in the NFL in 2014.

The Ravens were encouraged with his play, but head coach John Harbaugh laid down the challenge to Hill at the end of the season to focus on what was important after he received two marijuana-related suspensions in his first three years and dealt with other off-field issues. After character concerns led to him going undrafted in 2011, Hill was suspended for Adderall use as a rookie with the Giants in 2012 and was arrested in 2013 for failing to pay child support.

“We put it on his plate a little bit. We’re challenging him for the next three or four months,” Harbaugh said in January. “‘Are you going to come back a better player than you were when you left here in January, and is that slate going to be clean?’ We fully expect it to be. He just had a baby. He’s doing great with his family, and we fully expect him to do a great job with that, and we’re going to try to help him anyway we can with that.”

Upon signing his restricted free-agent tender, Hill regularly attended spring workouts in Owings Mills and became more and more comfortable with defensive coordinator Dean Pees’ system. His family members came to training camp practices on a daily basis this summer while the University of Florida product worked exclusively with the starting defense after Matt Elam suffered a torn biceps during the first week of camp.

After five different safeties received extensive snaps a year ago, the Ravens hope Hill and veteran newcomer Kendrick Lewis will provide stability in the back end of the secondary. With some long-term security in hand, Hill says the focus is solely on winning a championship as he looks forward to making plays with Lewis, who has started 66 games in his first five NFL seasons with Kansas City and Houston.

“I think we’re a deadly combo, because we complement each other well,” Hill said. “I can play in the box and play deep, and he can do the same thing. You never know what you’re going to get.”

The 6-foot-1, 228-pound safety has done everything that the Ravens have asked of him to earn an extension as general manager Ozzie Newsome spent much of the offseason solidifying a maligned secondary by signing top cornerback Jimmy Smith to a long-term extension, inking Lewis to a three-year deal, and restructuring Lardarius Webb’s contract.

Hill made no secret about it being a dream to make money — terms of the deal were not immediately made available on Thursday — but he also can’t help but feel like he’s found a home with a support system that cares about him beyond what he can do on the football field.

Now, it’s up to him to prove that the Ravens made a wise investment.

“You go to most places, and it is just a business,” Hill said. “Even though it is just a business, it is more family-oriented around here, and I know I have a good rapport with all my coaches — the offensive coaches, too. I talk to Ozzie every day, and Mr. [Steve] Bisciotti — we have good conversations. They mingle with my family, so everybody is really family-oriented around here.”

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monroe

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Monroe out for third preseason game with forearm bruise

Posted on 27 August 2015 by Luke Jones

OWINGS MILLS, Md. — The Ravens are likely to be without the starting left side of their offensive line for Saturday’s preseason game against the Washington Redskins.

Left guard Kelechi Osemele was already expected to miss the all-important third preseason contest as he’s been in and out of practices with an Achilles injury for the last three weeks, but head coach John Harbaugh confirmed left tackle Eugene Monroe would not play on Saturday. Monroe injured his right forearm in last Saturday’s preseason loss in Philadelphia and hasn’t practiced all week.

“Eugene’s got a pretty serious bruise there on his forearm,” Harbaugh said on Thursday. “He’s not cleared to practice this week with that. There’s no fracture or anything like that — as far as I know. I’ll put everything with a caveat there. But it should be no problem for the regular season.”

Despite Monroe being sidelined, the Ravens received good news on Thursday with the returns of reserve offensive linemen James Hurst (concussion) and Ryan Jensen to the practice field. In addition to Monroe and Osemele, rookie offensive linemen De’Ondre Wesley and Darryl Baldwin remained sidelined.

Wide receivers Breshad Perriman (knee) and Michael Campanaro (soft tissue injury), cornerback Lardarius Webb (hamstring), linebacker Steven Means (groin), and running back Lorenzo Taliaferro (knee) were also absent from Thursday’s practice.

Cornerbacks Rashaan Melvin and Tramain Jacobs returned to the practice field after missing workouts earlier this week.

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Suggs on being road villain: “You’re not supposed to like me”

Posted on 26 August 2015 by Luke Jones

OWINGS MILLS, Md. — With many still discussing his controversial hit on Philadelphia quarterback Sam Bradford, Ravens linebacker Terrell Suggs is taking the criticism from Eagles players and fans in stride.

In fact, it’s the kind of role the 32-year-old has embraced throughout his 13-year NFL career.

“I think you’re naturally the villain when you go into an opponent’s stadium anyway,” Suggs said. “You might as well not shy away from it. You might as well just bask in it and enjoy it. I’m not supposed to be the opponent’s favorite player. You’re not supposed to like me. I don’t play for you. I represent Ravens nation, so I just enjoy it.”

Though the NFL announced this week that Suggs should not have been penalized for the first-quarter hit on Bradford in Saturday’s preseason loss to the Eagles, many still took exception to him hitting the Eagles signal caller’s knees after he suffered left ACL injuries in each of the last two years.

Asked to respond to Seattle Seahawks defensive lineman Michael Bennett’s harsh words about the league’s protection of its quarterbacks, Suggs was diplomatic while taking a playful jab at his own general manager’s prominent role in making decisions regarding the rules.

“Those guys get a lot of our sponsors,” said Suggs of quarterbacks. “A lot of those guys are good-looking guys, so you don’t want to damage them too much. It’s still the most valuable position on the field, so you’ve got to protect them.

“But if we’ve got anybody to blame, it’s all on Ozzie Newsome. He’s on the competition committee, so he kind of helped put the rules in. Probably have to talk to Ozzie about that.”

Suggs says he’s had plenty of dialogue with Newsome about the subject, but he admitted not wanting to see his own quarterback, Joe Flacco, in harm’s way.

“He said the quarterback keeps a lot of people employed, so we’ve got to protect them,” said Suggs about Newsome’s thoughts. “I understand — I wouldn’t want my guy getting mistreated.”

Offensive line in flux

Six offensive linemen remained sidelined during Wednesday’s practice, including starting left tackle Eugene Monroe (arm) and starting left guard Kelechi Osemele (Achilles tendon).

The problem is further compounded with both James Hurst (concussion) and Ryan Jensen (undisclosed) missing the workout after both saw time at left tackle against Philadelphia. Should none of the aforementioned players be available to play in the third preseason game against Washington on Saturday, the Ravens could be forced to move backup right tackle Jah Reid to the blind side.

Would an unsettled line situation impact how much Flacco plays against the Redskins?

“If something happens in the game, it possibly could,” head coach John Harbaugh said. “But the way we’re going into the game, we’re comfortable with the guys that are going to play and start on the offensive line. [We think] that they’ll do a great job.”

Rookie offensive tackles De’Ondre Wesley (knee) and Darryl Baldwin were also missing from Wednesday’s practice while fellow rookie Blaine Clausell returned to the field.

Injury report

In addition to the six offensive linemen, the Ravens were without cornerbacks Lardarius Webb (hamstring), Rashaan Melvin, and Tramain Jacobs, wide receivers Breshad Perriman (knee) and Michael Campanaro (soft tissue issue), linebacker Steve Means (groin), and running back Lorenzo Taliaferro (knee) on Wednesday.

Melvin has now missed three straight practices, but the Ravens coach wouldn’t specify exactly what the ailment is.

“He’s got a soft-tissue issue that he’s working through — probably a typical training camp thing — so we’ll see,” Harbaugh said. “I don’t know if he’ll be there or not on Saturday. I’ve got my fingers crossed.”

The third-year cornerback missed two practices at the beginning of the month with a hamstring strain.

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Flacco apparently anything but an “elite” party host

Posted on 26 August 2015 by Luke Jones

The debate has raged on for several years whether Joe Flacco is an “elite” NFL quarterback.

But in his latest Pepsi commercial, the Ravens quarterback is anything but an elite party thrower while showing off some fairly impressive acting chops. As the 30-year-old quarterback would likely say, “This is pretty hilarious.”

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webb

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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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Sizing up 2015 Ravens roster after second preseason game

Posted on 25 August 2015 by Luke Jones

With two preseasons in the rear-view mirror, I take a look at projecting the Ravens’ 53-man roster for the first time since the aftermath of the opener.

My current look at the roster suggests 45 players are locks if the deadline to trim the roster to 53 took place today. My rough assessment of the 90 players currently on the preseason roster lists 19 players on the bubble. Not all bubble players are on equal footing, with certain positions lacking depth and others enjoying an abundance of talent.

Though general manager Ozzie Newsome, coach John Harbaugh, and the remainder of the coaching staff and front office are aware of the number of players at each position, trying to boldly pinpoint a specific number of wide receivers or linebackers isn’t the most accurate way of projecting the roster. In filling out the back end of their roster, the Ravens will look carefully at players’ special-teams abilities in addition to what they bring to their position.

The Ravens must trim the roster from 90 players to 75 on Sept. 1 and will go down to the regular-season number of 53 on Sept. 5.

The numbers in parentheses indicate the total number of players currently on the roster at that given position. Bubble players’ names that are underlined are currently on my projected 53-man roster as of Aug. 25.

QUARTERBACKS (3)
LOCK: Joe Flacco, Matt Schaub
BUBBLE: None
LONG SHOT: Bryn Renner
Skinny: Renner continues to stake a nice claim for a spot on the practice squad and could be one to keep an eye on for the backup job behind Flacco in the future.

RUNNING BACKS & FULLBACKS (7)
LOCK: Justin Forsett, Kyle Juszczyk, Lorenzo Taliaferro, Buck Allen
BUBBLE: Fitz Toussaint, Terrence Magee
LONG SHOT: Kiero Small
Skinny: The knee injury suffered by Taliaferro opens the door for the Ravens to carry another running back, but the rookie free agent Magee has performed well enough to push Toussaint for that job.

WIDE RECEIVERS (12)
LOCK: Steve Smith, Breshad Perriman, Kamar Aiken, Marlon Brown, Michael Campanaro
BUBBLE: Darren Waller, Jeremy Butler
LONG SHOT: DeAndre Carter, Aldrick Robinson, Daniel Brown, Trent Steelman, Tom Nelson
Skinny: Waller is moving ever closer to lock territory and has improved immensely since the spring while Butler has had a quiet preseason and Carter isn’t reliable enough as a returner.

TIGHT ENDS (6)
LOCK: Crockett Gillmore, Maxx Williams, Nick Boyle
BUBBLE: None
LONG SHOT: Konrad Reuland
PHYSICALLY UNABLE TO PERFORM LIST: Dennis Pitta
INJURED RESERVE: Allen Reisner
Skinny: There’s no roster drama at this position with Pitta set to begin the year on the PUP list, but the Ravens have to hope their young tight ends are ready to contribute immediately.

OFFENSIVE LINEMEN (17)
LOCK: Marshal Yanda, Kelechi Osemele, Rick Wagner, Eugene Monroe, Jeremy Zuttah, John Urschel, James Hurst
BUBBLE: Robert Myers, Jah Reid, Ryan Jensen
LONG SHOT: Nick Easton, Leon Brown, Kaleb Johnson, Marcel Jones, Darryl Baldwin, Blaine Clausell, De’Ondre Wesley
Skinny: Injuries currently plague this unit and it remains to be seen how many linemen they’ll carry, but Easton, a rookie free agent, has played well in the preseason and is someone to keep an eye on.

DEFENSIVE LINEMEN (10)
LOCK: Brandon Williams, Timmy Jernigan, Chris Canty, Carl Davis, Lawrence Guy
BUBBLE: DeAngelo Tyson, Kapron Lewis-Moore, Christo Bilukidi
LONG SHOT: Micajah Reynolds
INJURED RESERVE: Brent Urban
Skinny: Despite seeing his playing time dwindle last season, Tyson is likely safe after the Urban injury and with Lewis-Moore struggling to establish himself this summer.

INSIDE LINEBACKERS (6)
LOCK: Daryl Smith, C.J. Mosley, Zachary Orr
BUBBLE: Albert McClellan, Arthur Brown
LONG SHOT: Andrew Bose
Skinny: It will be interesting to see how this position shakes out as the 2013 second-round pick Brown saw early action with the first-team defense when veteran Daryl Smith was lifted from the game.

OUTSIDE LINEBACKERS (7)
LOCK: Terrell Suggs, Elvis Dumervil, Courtney Upshaw, Za’Darius Smith
BUBBLE: Steven Means, Brennen Beyer
LONG SHOT: Zach Thompson
Skinny: Means’ groin injury is now helping his cause in trying to make the roster, creating more opportunities for Beyer to put himself in the conversation for a backup linebacker job.

CORNERBACKS (10)
LOCK: Lardarius Webb, Jimmy Smith, Kyle Arrington, Tray Walker, Rashaan Melvin
BUBBLE: Asa Jackson, Quinton Pointer, Cassius Vaughn
LONG SHOT: Tramain Jacobs, Chris Greenwood
Skinny: A solid performance against Philadelphia put Vaughn in the roster conversation while Pointer has come back to the pack since a strong start to the summer.

SAFETIES (7)
LOCK: Will Hill, Kendrick Lewis, Terrence Brooks, Anthony Levine
BUBBLE: Brynden Trawick, Nick Perry
LONG SHOT: None
INJURED RESERVE: Matt Elam
Skinny: The activation of Brooks provides a nice boost to an otherwise-thin position behind Hill and Lewis, but it will be interesting to see if Trawick or Perry can survive for special-teams purposes.

SPECIALISTS (5)
LOCK: Sam Koch, Morgan Cox, Justin Tucker
BUBBLE: None
LONG SHOT: Justin Manton, Patrick Scales
Skinny: There’s still nothing to see here.

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monroe

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Six offensive linemen remain sidelined for Ravens

Posted on 25 August 2015 by Luke Jones

OWINGS MILLS, Md. — Moving closer to the all-important third preseason game of the summer against the Washington Redskins, the Ravens continued to be banged up along the offensive line with six players missing.

The left side of the starting offensive line is ailing as tackle Eugene Monroe and guard Kelechi Osemele were not present during the portion of practice open to media. Osemele has dealt with an Achilles tendon issue that has forced him in and out of practices and games at different times over the last three weeks. Meanwhile, Monroe appeared to injure his arm in Saturday’s preseason loss to Philadelphia.

Baltimore was also without reserve offensive linemen James Hurst (concussion), De’Ondre Wesley (knee), Darryl Baldwin, and Blaine Clausell during Tuesday’s workout.

The secondary was missing two of its top four cornerbacks as Lardarius Webb (hamstring) and Rashaan Melvin (undisclosed) were not practicing. Melvin appeared to injure himself during the special-teams portion of Monday’s session, but head coach John Harbaugh wasn’t aware of any injury when asked about him at the end of the workout.

Wide receivers Breshad Perriman (knee) and Michael Campanaro (soft tissue injury), running back Lorenzo Taliaferro (knee), cornerback Tramain Jacobs (undisclosed), and linebacker Steven Means (groin) were also missing from Tuesday’s practice.

Defensive lineman Kapron Lewis-Moore (undisclosed) returned to practice after missing Saturday’s preseason game.

 

 

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Taliaferro to miss “a few weeks” with knee injury

Posted on 24 August 2015 by Luke Jones

OWINGS MILLS, Md. — Ravens running back Lorenzo Taliaferro is expected to miss the start of the regular season after sustaining a right knee injury in Saturday’s preseason loss to the Philadelphia Eagles.

The second-year back suffered a sprained medial collateral ligament while making a tackle on Joe Flacco’s second interception late in the first quarter of the 40-17 defeat. On Monday morning, Taliaferro posted a message on Twitter suggesting he would miss significant time because of the injury.

“He’s going to be out for a few weeks,” head coach John Harbaugh said. “It’s an MCL sprain. I don’t have a degree on it yet, but it’s going to be a few weeks for Lorenzo. Some of those young guys are going to step up in the immediate future.”

Leading the competition to serve as the primary backup to 2014 Pro Bowl selection Justin Forsett, Taliaferro carried four times for eight yards on Saturday before leaving the game. The 2014 fourth-round pick gained 292 yards and four touchdowns on 68 carries before a foot injury ended his rookie season in mid-December.

Taliaferro’s absence opens the door for rookie Buck Allen to become the No. 2 running back behind Forsett. Selected in the fourth round of this spring’s draft, the USC product rushed six times for 19 yards and made two receptions for 25 yards against the Eagles.

“He has done a nice job competing, working hard every day to get better [and] to get more comfortable in our offense,” running backs coach Thomas Hammock said. “He obviously has great hands. He has good vision. We’re trying to get him more comfortable as a pass protector, and he goes out there and performs when his number is called.”

With Taliaferro sidelined for the foreseeable future, the Ravens will likely be looking to keep an extra running back behind Forsett and Allen, leaving the door open for Fitz Toussaint and Terrence Magee.

A rookie free agent from LSU, Magee led Baltimore in rushing on Saturday, gaining 44 yards on 11 carries. The 5-foot-9, 215-pound running back has shown an impressive burst and good field vision during practices this summer.

“He was a north-south runner, low to the ground, powerful dude,” said Harbaugh of Magee’s performance against Philadelphia. “Just how he ran in college is how you saw him run the other night. It’s nice when you see that transfer from the college game to this level. It was good to see.”

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Wagner, Reid return to practice as most Ravens starters rest

Posted on 24 August 2015 by Luke Jones

OWINGS MILLS, Md. — Returning to the practice field following a lopsided preseason loss in Philadelphia, the Ravens elected to rest most starters and veterans on Monday afternoon.

Thirty-three players on the 90-man roster were not present during the portion of the workout open to media, but starting right tackle Rick Wagner (leg) and reserve offensive lineman Jah Reid (back) returned to practice after missing Saturday’s game against the Eagles. Many starters and veterans took part in the morning walk-through before being held out of Monday’s practice.

“I think we’ve done something like this pretty much every year,” said Harbaugh when asked whether he was resting so many players due to the current number of injuries on the roster. “I’ve have to go back and check the records, but this is pretty normal for us. It’s right on schedule.”

The only projected starters on the field for Monday’s practice were Wagner, tight end Crockett Gillmore, fullback Kyle Juszczyk, defensive tackle Timmy Jernigan, linebacker C.J. Mosley, and safeties Will Hill and Kendrick Lewis. Even Joe Flacco was given the session off as Matt Schaub and Bryn Renner handled the quarterbacking duties.

Injured players who remained absent included wide receivers Breshad Perriman (knee) and Michael Campanaro (unspecified), running back Lorenzo Taliaferro (knee), left guard Kelechi Osemele (Achilles), cornerback Lardarius Webb (hamstring), linebacker Steven Means (groin), defensive lineman Kapron Lewis-Moore (undisclosed), and offensive linemen James Hurst (head) and De’Ondre Wesley (knee). Taliaferro, Hurst, and Wesley all left Saturday’s game with injuries and did not return.

Campanaro’s absence from Saturday’s game left the door open for others to receive opportunities in the return specialist competition.

“He has a soft tissue issue that he’s dealing with, so expect him back pretty soon, but you never know with those things,” Harbaugh said. “I think it’s a day-to-day thing. But I’ve told [the media] that before, and it has been three weeks now on Perriman. My understanding is it’s not a major thing, but I’m out of that business, remember?”

Rookie tight end Maxx Williams was wearing a red non-contact jersey as he took part in Monday’s workout.

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Suggs’ hit on Bradford probably unnecessary, but point spot on

Posted on 23 August 2015 by Luke Jones

Like it or not, Ravens linebacker Terrell Suggs has developed a reputation around the NFL for being a dirty player.

So, it came as no surprise that his penalized hit on Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Sam Bradford drew plenty of criticism after Saturday’s game. Eagles tackle Jason Peters said he was “pretty sure he planned it” after the teams practiced together all week.

It was probably unnecessary for Suggs to hit Bradford in the knees, but a quarterback isn’t supposed to be treated as a “quarterback” when running the read option, a play in which one defensive player is responsible for the quarterback potentially keeping the ball while another defender targets the running back. When the league goes to desperate lengths to protect its quarterbacks, we’ll find plenty of examples like this one that make us ask where we draw the line and officials face the same problem in real time.

It’s not a defensive player’s job to stand there as the play develops and think, “Did he really sell the threat to run enough with that read-option play?” Any football player will tell you indecisiveness leads to big plays by the opposition and potential injury to yourself.

Ultimately, it’s a violent game in which players get hurt and have gotten hurt countless times. It’s not a defensive player’s responsibility to be thinking about a quarterback’s medical history, particularly if he’s executing a play in which he frequently serves as a runner.

Regardless of the play itself, Suggs’ comments after the game were spot on as it relates to Eagles coach Chip Kelly and the handling of his new quarterback in Philadelphia.

“When you run the read option, you have to know the rules,” Suggs said. “If you want to run the read option with your starting quarterback that has had two knee surgeries, that’s on you. That’s not my responsibility to update you on the rules. I could have hit him harder than that. I eased up.”

The comments sound harsh, but Suggs is right.

And whether the hit to the knee was intentional or not — hitting a ball carrier in that area isn’t illegal, just to be clear — Bradford is an easy target if the Eagles insist on using the read-option attack. He’s going to be hit and potentially hit in the knees.

This isn’t a matter of wishing ill will on Bradford as you hope he can finally stay healthy.

It’s just football.

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