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Perriman calls injury “hardest thing I’ve ever been through”

Posted on 19 November 2015 by Luke Jones

OWINGS MILLS, Md. — Walking to the podium to address the media for the first time since injuring his knee on the first day of training camp in late July, Ravens receiver Breshad Perriman cracked a smile.

There hasn’t been much for the 2015 first-round pick to be happy about this season as he was officially placed on injured reserve on Tuesday, ending his rookie campaign before it ever began. Perriman’s partially-torn posterior cruciate ligament wound up being a microcosm of the 2015 season for Baltimore.

Much worse than anyone thought.

“It has been probably the hardest thing I’ve ever been through, honestly,” said Perriman, who is still wearing a brace on his right knee that is “healing very well” now. “It’s just a huge disappointment for me, and I feel like I’m letting them down as well, because I feel like I do have a role on this team. I don’t know how much I can help, but I know that I can help somewhere.”

Drafted to be the replacement for speedy veteran Torrey Smith, Perriman had impressed in spring workouts and was considered more advanced than Smith was as a rookie in 2011. The Ravens were so confident in Perriman’s ability and potential that general manager Ozzie Newsome did not add another veteran to pair with the 36-year-old Steve Smith, a mistake that’s come back to haunt them in the midst of a 2-7 season.

Injuring his knee in the final 30 minutes of the first full-squad practice on July 30, Perriman was initially told he would only miss a couple days of practice. However, a closer look revealed a PCL sprain — which is defined as a partial tear — that would keep him out longer than expected.

With head coach John Harbaugh not providing many specifics along the way, fans and media questioned what was really going on with Perriman’s knee and some began questioning his tougness. Meanwhile, the 22-year-old was struggling with the reality of not being able to contribute to the team that selected him 26th overall in April.

“I didn’t really see it coming, so once it happened, I shut everyone out,” Perriman said. “I wasn’t really talking to anybody. Finally, my parents noticed it, because I wasn’t even picking up their calls. Finally, they came up here for the weekend, and they really noticed my feelings and my reaction to all this stuff. They gave me words of encouragement about all the stuff that I’ve been through and all of the things that other people have been through that is way worse than this.”

His knee finally feeling good enough to return to the practice field on a limited basis on Sept. 24, Perriman experienced a setback a few days later in a pre-game workout at M&T Bank Stadium. Admitting that he “overdid it” working out with wide receivers coach Bobby Engram on the morning of the Cincinnati game, Perriman felt a “pop” in his knee, which would prove to be the fatal blow to his chances of playing this season.

Head coach John Harbaugh denied any knowledge of a setback when asked a few days later, but Perriman visited renowned orthopedist Dr. James Andrews, who discovered that the tear was worse than what it was originally. The 6-foot-2, 218-pound receiver received a platlet-rich plasma injection in addition to having the knee scoped, but the Ravens’ lack of transparency created more skepticism without any confirmation that he had re-injured his knee.

Even after the setback, the Ravens hoped Perriman would be able to return before the end of the year, but the rookie never appeared close to returning to practice as his teammates began realizing it looked like he wouldn’t be playing in 2015.

“As the season went on, it’s kind of like, ‘OK, this is going to be tough for him to really come in and contribute,'” quarterback Joe Flacco said. “Yes, you obviously feel for the kid. At the same time, it’s tough to really think too much about that, because we’re all in the midst of our own little thing and our own little battles.”

Harbaugh acknowledged during the bye week that the clock was ticking for a potential return, but Perriman said the collaborative decision was made to for him to go on IR this week because he would not have enough time to rebuild quadriceps strength and get back into football shape to realistically be able to play before the end of the season.

Despite his obvious disappointment of missing the entire season, Perriman said doctors haven’t shared any concern about the knee being a chronic or long-term problem.

“Not at all. They never expressed that to me, so that’s not [part] of my worries at all,” said Perriman, who also confirmed that the injury was unrelated to the Osgood-Schlatter disease that plagued him when he was younger. “They basically told me once I get this thing back 100 percent, that I’ll be good, and I should be fine throughout the rest of my career. It could potentially happen again, but the odds of that probably are slim.”

Even if Perriman is fully healthy moving forward, questions remain about his ability going into a critical offseason. At the time they drafted him, the Ravens hoped he would be their No. 1 receiver of the future with Steve Smith entering his 15th NFL season. Now, the latter is recovering from a torn Achilles and hasn’t yet announced whether he will follow through with his original plan to retire.

Trying to find a silver lining in a disappointing rookie year, Perriman feels confident about his mental approach to the game after learning all receiver positions in the offense, saying he’s at “a very strong point in the playbook.”

Despite his physical and emotional challenges dealing with the injury, coaches see a player with a strong commitment to the game.

“It’s difficult to continue to talk about the same subject, so we talk about other things,” offensive coordinator Marc Trestman said. “I think football’s really important to Breshad. I think being a Raven is really important to him, and he wants to get back here as quickly as he can. I know he’s working with the people who are trying to help him do that. He loves football, and he wants to be a part of this.”

After his frustrating and bizarre rookie season, fans will remain skeptical until Perriman proves that he is fully healthy and ready to contribute in 2016.

He can look no further than to a receiver the Ravens recently played — San Diego’s Keenan Allen — for inspiration. Having suffered a Grade 2 PCL tear in late October of his final season at Cal, Allen was slow to recover throughout the pre-draft process, which contributed to him falling to the third round of the 2013 draft.

Allen went on to catch 71 passes for 1,046 yards and eight touchdowns in 15 games as a rookie that fall. Perriman and the Ravens can only hope his career follows a similar path after a trying first year.

“This was a difficult point in time for me. I was in — I would probably say — like a dark hole for a good period of time,” Perriman said. “But I feel like next year — when next year comes around once I finally get healthy — I’m going to be hungrier than ever. I feel like I’m going to come back harder than I ever have.”

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Dumervil, Osmele, Boyle absent from Wednesday’s practice

Posted on 18 November 2015 by Luke Jones

OWINGS MILLS, Md. — Making preparations for Sunday’s meeting with the St. Louis Rams, the Ravens were without a starter on each side of the ball during Wednesday’s practice.

Outside linebacker Elvis Dumervil and left guard Kelechi Osemele were both absent from the workout with respective knee ailments. Neither player appeared to be limited in the Week 10 loss to Jacksonville as Dumervil played 58 of 74 defensive snaps while Osemele did not miss a single offensive snap.

Speaking to reporters after Wednesday’s practice, Dumervil downplayed the significance of his absence.

Rookie tight end Nick Boyle’s absence from Wednesday’s practice appeared more serious as he was wearing a walking boot on his left foot in the locker room. The Ravens signed tight end Chase Ford to the 53-man roster on Tuesday, perhaps an indication that Boyle is in danger of missing some action.

As expected, John Urschel worked as the starting center during the portion of practice open to media after veteran Jeremy Zuttah was placed on injured reserve earlier in the day. The second-year lineman expressed confidence in his shotgun snaps after he had difficulty when filling in for Zuttah against San Diego in Week 8.

Urschel says he’s received pointers from long snapper Morgan Cox in addition to spending extra time working with offensive line coach Juan Castillo.

“It’s something I work on every day, shotgun snapping,” Urschel said. “I work to get better at it. I am improving. We’ve changed my mechanics some. I’ve gotten some help from Morgan; he’s been helping me with that. That is what he does, so he’s a good person to talk to.”

The Rams were without starting right tackle Rob Havenstein (calf) and starting defensive end Robert Quinn (hip) during Wednesday’s practice.

Below is the first full injury report of the week:

DID NOT PARTICIPATE: TE Nick Boyle (foot), LB Elvis Dumervil (knee), G Kelechi Osemele (knee)

DID NOT PARTICIPATE: OT Rob Havenstein (calf), DE Robert Quinn (hip)
LIMITED PARTICIPATION: C Tim Barnes (concussion)

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Charles Robinson talks the possibility of relocation of the St. Louis Rams

Posted on 18 November 2015 by WNST Staff

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Harbaugh not aware of any long-term concern with Perriman’s knee

Posted on 18 November 2015 by Luke Jones

OWINGS MILLS, Md. — Though disappointed over Breshad Perriman being placed on injured reserve, Ravens head coach John Harbaugh says he doesn’t have any long-term concerns about the health of the rookie wide receiver’s right knee.

After Perriman suffered a sprained posterior cruciate ligament on July 30 and never recovered to the point that he could play this season, Harbaugh was asked Wednesday whether there were fears about his prognosis for the future and if there was a degenerative issue that caused his longer-than-expected recovery.

“Not that I’ve been told,” Harbaugh said. “To me, it’s still a hard one to understand. [There are] better people to ask than me about that. I’m just disappointed. And I’ll tell you Breshad is disappointed, and we’re all disappointed.

“I had a chance to talk to him [Tuesday] probably for the first time in-depth, because he was hard to talk to before. You couldn’t talk to him. You’ve seen him around. He was just so down about the whole thing. He seemed a little more at peace with his future, and he was excited about the progress he’s making.”

After suffering the injury that was initially diagnosed as a bruise on the day it occurred, Perriman eventually practiced on a limited basis for two days in late September before suffering a setback prior to the Ravens’ Week 3 game against Cincinnati at M&T Bank Stadium. He underwent arthroscopic surgery a few days later, but the 6-foot-2 wideout never got close to returning to the practice field.

Harbaugh said Wednesday that he wasn’t “really involved” in the decision to place Perriman on IR as general manager Ozzie Newsome ultimately made the roster move on Tuesday. The first receiver drafted in the first round by the Ravens since 2005, Perriman is the only first-round pick in franchise history not to play a single game as a rookie.

Now, Baltimore will enter the offseason not truly knowing what they have in Perriman as an NFL receiver.

“I know that — and Ozzie told me this — we were very hopeful that we could get him out there,” Harbaugh said. “We were waiting as long as we could to see if that could happen, and it just didn’t look like it could happen. That’s really the extent that I’m aware of what’s going on with that.”

Reed of Honor

The Ravens will officially induct free safety Ed Reed into their Ring of Honor on Sunday, which will serve as a pleasant distraction from a disappointing 2015 season.

A nine-time Pro Bowl selection and a surefire Hall of Fame inductee one day, Reed is regarded by many as one of the three best players in franchise history along with Hall of Fame left tackle Jonathan Ogden and middle linebacker Ray Lewis.

“When you’re here for the time period I was here and what he was doing, a pick-six was a normality; you thought that happened every weekend everywhere,” said quarterback Joe Flacco, who played five seasons with Reed. “It was crazy how many times he was able to do that and make game-changing plays. It was pretty special.”

Regarded as one of the best ball-hawking safeties in the history of the NFL, Reed was also a dynamic special-teams player early in his career. That point wasn’t lost on St. Louis head coach Jeff Fisher, who was victimized by Reed when he coached the Tennessee Titans.

“The first thing that comes to mind is whoever is your wing on punt team is going to have a rough day, because nobody rushed the punter better then Ed over his career,” Fisher said. “I was really impressed with what he did. And that just kind of shows and speaks volumes to the player that he was. Because he was not only the safety — and one of the best safeties to ever play the game — but parts of the game that were important to him, he took them seriously and was really productive.”

Officiating disenchantment

Asked to react to the NFL confirming that a false start should have been called at the end of Sunday’s game that would have resulted in a 20-19 win over Jacksonville, Harbaugh made it apparent that he’s miffed with officiating on a weekly basis.

“We’ve sent in 16 other plays,” Harbaugh said. “We do that every week, and the vast majority of them come back [with], ‘Yes, you’re right. Yes, you’re right. Yes, you’re right.’ I feel the same way about that play as I feel about the other issues that we have every single week.”

Does the eighth-year head coach believe it’s been more of a problem around the league this season?

“I’m not going to get into that,” Harbaugh said. “We’re trying to take care of the Rams. That’s what we have to focus on. That’s why I can’t think about it. We can’t afford to be dwelling on that.”

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Zuttah placed on IR, West promoted to 53-man roster

Posted on 18 November 2015 by Luke Jones

OWINGS MILLS, Md. — It was another day and another roster move for the Ravens as starting center Jeremy Zuttah was placed on season-ending injured reserve with a partially-torn pectoral muscle on Wednesday.

The 29-year-old initially suffered an injury to the area in the Week 8 win over San Diego, but he suffered further damage in Sunday’s loss to Jacksonville. Zuttah has started 65 consecutive games and hasn’t missed an NFL contest since the 2011 season, but second-year lineman John Urschel will now step into the starting center role.

“The decision has been made to get that repaired right away,” head coach John Harbaugh said. “They can’t say 100 percent that it would heal like they want it to if we took time and waited, so we’re going to go ahead and get that done.”

Acquired in a trade with Tampa Bay in the spring of 2014, Zuttah was key in turning around the Baltimore running game a year ago as he replaced ex-Raven Gino Gradkowski at the center position. Urschel made three starts as a rookie last season, but he will be making his first career start at center against St. Louis.

Having filled in for Zuttah late in the Chargers game, Urschel struggled with his shotgun snaps, but he has performed well as a blocker, including two starts in the postseason as a rookie. Quarterback Joe Flacco acknowledged that it will be a challenging transition that he hasn’t experienced often in his NFL career.

“Losing the center is definitely a tough thing,” Flacco said. “Since I’ve been here, I don’t think I’ve played with a backup center other than a couple snaps here and there. Guys have stayed pretty healthy. Jeremy has stayed pretty healthy. That’s definitely a big blow — not because of who we have coming in. John’s going to do great. You’ve seen he can get in there and do a great job for us. He’s going to make all the calls. He’s going to do great, and he has done great for us at guard and other positions.”

Baltimore promoted former Towson running back Terrance West to the 53-man roster to take Zuttah’s place. The 2014 third-round pick of the Cleveland Browns was signed to the practice squad last week a few days after being waived by the Tennessee Titans.

Now officially on his third 53-man roster in just over two months, the maligned second-year back would stand to benefit from the tutelage of veteran starter Justin Forsett. It’s a role the 30-year-old is more than willing to take on with any of the team’s young running backs.

“I think I’m the oldest guy in the room by a little bit, so I try to take all of them under my wing a little bit and try to pour as much into them as I can,” Forsett said. “I’ve been in his situation before, where he’s been on a couple of teams [his] first couple of years in the league, so as much as I can pour into him, I will.”

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Ravens place first-round pick Perriman on injured reserve

Posted on 17 November 2015 by Luke Jones

Another disappointing chapter was added to the story of the 2015 Ravens on Tuesday as rookie wide receiver Breshad Perriman was placed on injured reserve, ending his season before it ever started.

The first-round pick from Central Florida sprained the posterior cruciate ligament in his right knee on the first day of training camp, an injury initially diagnosed as a bruise that would only keep him out for a day or two. After making very slow progress, Perriman briefly returned to the practice field in late September before pulling up lame in a pre-game workout at M&T Bank Stadium on Sept. 27.

A few days later, Perriman visited renowned orthopedist Dr. James Andrews and underwent arthroscopic surgery and received a platelet-rich plasma injection to help speed the recovery process. Shortly after the procedure, head coach John Harbaugh called the injury “one of the all-time slowest-healing sprained PCLs ever,” and Perriman never appeared to get close to returning to practice before Tuesday’s decision.

“Breshad has worked hard to come back from his injury,” general manager Ozzie Newsome said in a statement, “but after discussing his current condition with our medical staff and Breshad, we have decided that putting him on injured reserve for the remainder of the season is our best course of action.”

The 26th overall pick of April’s draft and the first receiver selected in the first round by the Ravens since Mark Clayton in 2005, the 6-foot-2, 218-pound Perriman was expected to immediately fill the void of Torrey Smith after the speedy veteran signed with San Francisco in the offseason. Instead, Perriman becomes the first first-round pick in Ravens history to miss his entire rookie season.

Though acknowledging the clock was ticking on the rookie receiver for this season, Harbaugh had expressed hope earlier this month that Perriman would be able to play in the final four games, which would have given the Ravens the opportunity to evaluate him despite being on track to experience their first losing season since 2007. Now, they’ll have to wait until next year.

“It’s a huge disappointment not being able to play my first year in the NFL, but I will come back harder than ever,” Perriman wrote on Twitter. “Thanks to all of the Ravens fans for the support.”

With Perriman remaining an unknown and veteran receiver Steve Smith announcing his intentions to retire before suffering a season-ending Achilles injury on Nov. 1 — though many feel the injury could prompt him to return in 2016 — the wide receiver position couldn’t be in worse shape as the Ravens must also renegotiate quarterback Joe Flacco’s contract this offseason.

The Ravens made several other roster moves on Tuesday, cutting wide receiver and return specialist Jeremy Ross and cornerback Asa Jackson. On Sunday, Ross lost a fumble on a punt return for the second time in the last three games while Jackson committed two 15-yard penalties on special teams in the 22-20 loss to Jacksonville.

On Monday, Harbaugh criticized both players for their performances in Sunday’s game.

Dealing with an ankle injury, Jackson was given the waived-injured designation and would revert to injured reserve if he clears waivers.

To fill the three open spots on their 53-man roster, the Ravens signed veteran cornerback Cassius Vaughn, tight end Chase Ford, and rookie wide receiver Kaelin Clay. Vaughn was with Baltimore during the preseason while Clay and Ford were signed off the practice squads of Detroit and Minnesota respectively.

After being cut by the Ravens in early September, Vaughn hasn’t been with another team, but he owns 138 career tackles, 24 pass breakups, seven interceptions, two forced fumbles, and one fumble recovery in his five NFL seasons.

Ford has played in 20 career NFL games (five starts), producing 34 catches for 391 yards and a touchdown. Clay has yet to appear in a game, but the Utah rookie is considered an intriguing option in the return game after being drafted in the sixth round of this year’s draft.

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Ravens running game continues to be forgotten under Trestman

Posted on 17 November 2015 by Luke Jones

The Ravens have lost their way.

That statement carries many connotations these days as Baltimore holds a 2-7 record for the first time since 2005, but it’s especially true when examining the disappearance of the running game after the Ravens finished eighth in the NFL with 126.2 rushing yards per game under Gary Kubiak a year ago. Despite maintaining that it was in the Ravens’ DNA to run the football when they hired pass-happy offensive coordinator Marc Trestman, head coach John Harbaugh has seen his rushing attack plummet to 23rd in the NFL with just 98.1 yards on the ground per game. The Ravens rank 18th in the league at 4.0 yards per carry after averaging a healthier 4.5 yards per attempt in 2014.

The running game again wasn’t a major factor in Sunday’s 22-20 loss to Jacksonville as the Ravens carried 21 times for 89 yards while Joe Flacco attempted 45 passes.

“We’d like to run the ball more; there’s no question,” Harbaugh said. “On the other hand, if you look at the defenses [the Jaguars] were playing, there were eight guys within four or five yards of the line of scrimmage at all times, pretty much, and even then, we had some really good runs. We had some nice runs in the second half. We weren’t able to finish in four-minute [drill] like we would have wanted to; we were close to popping a couple of those runs.

“In the first half, we weren’t getting much. If we could have converted a couple more first downs there, you would have seen more runs. It’s something we had planned on doing. We were going to run it at them anyway, but we just didn’t get the opportunities that we wanted to.”

It’s fair to note that the Jaguars entered Sunday ranked seventh in the NFL in run defense, but the Ravens barely even tried in the first half with just four designed runs compared to 29 drop-backs for Flacco in his first game since No. 1 receiver Steve Smith was lost for the season. As for Harbaugh’s explanation, the Ravens picked up 11 first downs in the first 30 minutes of action, which wasn’t indicative of a team struggling to get on schedule with moving the chains.

Asked if Flacco checked out of a high number of plays at the line of scrimmage because of the Jaguars stacking the box, Harbaugh said that there were only a couple instances when the original play was changed, leading one to conclude that Trestman was responsible for the out-of-whack ratio. The pass-happy attack may have found success to the tune of 14 points and 223 yards of offense in the first half, but the approach backfired in the third quarter with Flacco turning the ball over on the first three possessions after intermission.

The Ravens carried 16 times for 70 yards in the second half.

“We knew we had some opportunities in the passing game, but we always look to run,” said running back Justin Forsett, who finished with 53 yards on 14 carries. “It’s just tough that we didn’t get it going faster. If we had, we would’ve been able to run the ball a little bit better. At the end, we just didn’t finish well.”

It’s easy to point to the opponent to defend Trestman’s approach on Sunday, but the Ravens also ran six times — one was a quarterback kneel — for 15 yards in the first half against San Diego, a run defense that currently ranks 27th in the NFL. Not counting plays resulting in sacks, the Ravens rank 26th in the NFL in running the ball just 37.29 percent of the time in 2015.

Last year, Baltimore ran the ball 44.67 percent of the time to rank 11th in the league.

Is it understandable to expect more passing in 2015 with the Ravens trailing in more games? Absolutely, but Baltimore has trailed by more than one score in the second half of just four games this year and one of those was the comeback win at Pittsburgh when the Ravens ran for almost 200 yards in an overtime victory. It’s difficult to say you’re committed to the running game when it wasn’t even allowed to find a rhythm in the first half of each of the last two games when they never trailed by more than seven points.

Whether because of a lack of commitment or production — or both — a ground game that returned the same starting running back and same starting offensive line from a year ago continues to be a significant disappointment under Trestman. It’s made life even more difficult on Flacco, who is trying to succeed with arguably the most underwhelming group of pass-catchers in the NFL.

The Ravens rank ninth in the NFL with 263.6 passing yards per game, but they’re 25th at 6.7 yards per attempt. For the second time in three years, the offense has fallen on Flacco’s shoulders despite a substandard cast of receivers around him.

Despite what the coaching staff has said at numerous times this season, there doesn’t appear to be much urgency to get the ground game going after the latest soft showing against Jacksonville.

“The run game is something to talk about,” Harbaugh said on Monday. “We were looking at it hard this morning, this afternoon with the coaches. Early in the game, we’re a block here and a block there away from popping runs. But a block here and a block there doesn’t get it done. We did a lot of things with scheme. We had a lot of formations. We protected our edges with tight ends and with seal blocks coming back and sift blocks coming back the other way. We did a good job of protecting our edges. But inside of all that, they had a couple of little changeups with their linebackers that gave us a little trouble that we sorted out toward the end of the game, [and we] had some better runs.”

Entering 2015, the running game was supposed to be the rock-solid commodity for a Ravens offense that experienced plenty of change in the offseason. Instead, it’s become just another of the many problems plaguing a 2-7 football team.

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Harbaugh critical of Ross, Jackson for mistakes in Sunday’s loss

Posted on 16 November 2015 by Luke Jones

OWINGS MILLS, Md. — On Monday, Ravens coach John Harbaugh dissected plenty that went wrong in the 22-20 loss to Jacksonville, but the criticism was particularly strong for special-teams players Jeremy Ross and Asa Jackson.

Ross’ fumbled punt early in the fourth quarter led to a go-ahead touchdown for Jacksonville and was the return specialist’s second lost fumble in the last three games. It was Baltimore’s fourth turnover of the second half after quarterback Joe Flacco threw two interceptions and fumbled in the third quarter.

“The muffed punt killed us. It was one of the four turnovers that shouldn’t happen,” said Harbaugh, who acknowledged that the Ravens will need to decide whether to replace Ross at punt returner. “It wasn’t an easy catch. The ball was moving from left to right and behind him, but it’s still a catch that you have to make in that situation for sure.”

Harbaugh’s words were even more critical for Jackson, who cost the Ravens a combined 30 yards in penalties on a low block in the first quarter and an unnecessary roughness foul in the third period. Jackson committed another unnecessary roughness penalty against Arizona in Week 7.

It’s clear the lack of discipline is wearing thin on the Baltimore coach after Jackson was already waived once at the end of the preseason for ball security issues in the return game.

“There’s no place for that,” Harbaugh said. “There’s absolutely no reason to leave your feet [on the first penalty]. I don’t care if you are slipping or not. You might be slipping, but if you are out of position to make the block, you don’t make that block, and you certainly don’t throw yourself back into a guy’s legs on a kickoff return. That’s blatantly illegal. And then blocking a guy after the ball is down and dead — that’s just foolish. That’s what we call a foolish penalty.

“For one guy to have three personal foul penalties in a season — in a career, let alone a season — let alone two in a game, is unacceptable.”

Webb at safety

Defensive coordinator Dean Pees revealed several new wrinkles after the bye week with the most interesting being cornerback Lardarius Webb lining up at safety for a number of plays in the nickel package.

Webb and starting free safety Kendrick Lewis swapped positions several times, often waiting until right before the snap in an effort to confuse Jacksonville quarterback Blake Bortles. The seventh-year defensive back also secured Baltimore’s first takeaway since Week 3 with a second-quarter interception while playing cornerback.

“We felt like he could be a factor in the back end, as far as chasing balls and being a ball hawk, and he may be kind of a natural that way,” Harbaugh said. “We tried him there on Tuesday and Wednesday of the bye week; he looked good.

“We built a couple packages for him, and we were able to play him at three different spots at least throughout the course of the game. They had a tougher time knowing where he was going to be, and I really think that’s something we can build on going forward.”

Arthur Brown sighting

All but forgotten as the Ravens’ 2013 second-round pick, inside linebacker Arthur Brown saw his first defensive snaps since the end of his rookie season on Sunday.

Brown was part of the nickel package for eight plays, but he did not register a defensive statistic. The Kansas State product was active for each of the first eight games of 2015 while only seeing action on special teams.

“He played fast and was excited to be out there,” Harbaugh said. “He ran to the ball, made a couple plays — nothing spectacular, but nothing that made you concerned, either. He had done a really good job in practice, and Arthur deserved a little more playing time. He did well with it.”

Urban could return this week

Starting his second week of practice, second-year defensive end Brent Urban is moving closer to making his NFL debut and could be activated in time to play St. Louis on Sunday.

“There’s a chance,” Harbaugh said. “It’s not something we’ve talked about yet, but I think physically — based on what I’ve seen physically — he’s ready to go. But again, we’ll talk about this week as we go.”

Urban was placed on injured reserve with the designation to return at the start of the season after suffering a torn biceps in early August.

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NFL admits officiating error at end of Ravens’ loss to Jacksonville

Posted on 16 November 2015 by Luke Jones

OWINGS MILLS, Md. — The NFL admitted Monday to a late officiating error that allowed Jacksonville to kick the game-winning field goal in a 22-20 win over the Ravens on Sunday.

John Harbaugh said it was “pretty obvious” that the Jaguars offensive line wasn’t set as quarterback Blake Bortles snapped the ball with one second remaining and outside linebacker Elvis Dumervil pulled him to the ground by the face mask, eliciting a 15-yard penalty and an untimed play that resulted in Jason Myers’ 53-yard field goal with no time remaining. The NFL issued a statement acknowledging that a false start should have been called, which would have resulted in the play being blown dead and a 10-second run-off to officially end the game.

“The correct call in this case would have been to penalize the offense for a false start because all 11 players were not set, and whistle to stop the play,” league spokesman Michael Signora said. “The ensuing 10-second runoff should have ended the game.”

Of course, the Ravens had 59 minutes, 59 seconds of action to play better and not allow the game to come down to an officiating mistake, but that’s what happens when you’re 2-7 and in the midst of the most disappointing season in franchise history. A high number of calls — many of them important — are missed throughout the course of 60-minute contests every week, with some benefiting and others hurting any given team.

Officiating in the NFL is a problem, but that’s nothing new and won’t change Sunday’s result.

Any number of plays from the final few minutes could have changed the final outcome, ranging from Sam Koch not punting the ball into the end zone for the first time all season to Kendrick Lewis successfully coming away with the game-clinching interception just a couple plays before the final one. Even after the officials missed the false start, Dumervil would be the first to tell you he cannot commit a facemask penalty in such a critical spot, which may have been the only scenario in which the Jaguars could have still won since most players on both teams had already given up on the play.

However you want to slice it, shoddy officiating at the end of the game still doesn’t excuse the Ravens for not playing well against a bad team at home with an extra week to prepare.

“There’s nothing we can do about it now,” Harbaugh said. “It’s unfortunate. It’s disappointing. It’s gut-wrenching. It’s just the way it goes.

“But in the end, we have to overcome all that stuff. I don’t care about officiating. I don’t care about weather. I don’t care about field conditions. I don’t care about our opponent. That’s the way our guys look at it. It does not matter.”

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In last stand, Ravens fail to change losing tune

Posted on 15 November 2015 by Luke Jones

BALTIMORE — Sunday represented the last stand for the 2015 Ravens.

After their win over San Diego two weeks ago, players and coaches talked about making a second-half run to climb back into an underwhelming AFC wild-card race. Coming off their bye, the Ravens had an extra week to make mid-season adjustments and to prepare for a 2-6 opponent that hadn’t won a road game in nearly two years.

Their most optimistic fans believed there was at least a small chance for the Ravens to turn around their season starting with a win over the lowly Jaguars. But that dream vanished with Elvis Dumervil’s face mask penalty with no time remaining, setting up Jason Myers’ 53-yard field goal to hand the Ravens a stunning 22-20 defeat.

Head coach John Harbaugh called it “as tough a loss as you’re ever going to see” as Baltimore fell to 2-7, but it was just the latest crushing defeat in the most disappointing season in franchise history. The Ravens are just bad enough to find new ways to lose close games on a weekly basis.

“I felt like we lost the game way before that,” said wide receiver Kamar Aiken, citing the Ravens’ slew of other mistakes and his own dropped passes. “It should have never gotten to that point.”

Dumervil’s penalty was just the last of several miscues over the final four minutes of the game after Jacksonville punted the ball back to the Ravens with 3:57 remaining.

The first play of that drive was a Joe Flacco pass to Kyle Juszczyk that resulted in six yards before the fullback ran out of bounds — stopping the clock. After then moving the ball to the Jacksonville 43, the Ravens elected to take a timeout on fourth-and-5 instead of letting the play clock expire and taking a five-yard penalty for a delay of game.

Arguably the best punter in the NFL this season, Sam Koch punted the ball into the end zone for his first touchback of the season, giving the Jaguars the ball at the 20 instead of inside their 10 with 1:06 left and no timeouts remaining.

The decision seemed inconsequential at the time, but how crucial did that extra second and field position turn out to be for the Jaguars?

On second-and-15 from the Jacksonville 40, Ravens safety Kendrick Lewis dropped what would have been the game-clinching interception. That missed chance came just two plays before Dumervil’s critical mistake on a play in which virtually everyone on the field had stopped playing except for Jaguars quarterback Blake Bortles and the Pro Bowl outside linebacker.

But the Ravens had other failed chances and errors — including four second-half turnovers — that put them in position for the final bizarre play to matter. There may have been some new post-bye wrinkles with more three-tight sets on offense and new personnel groups on defense — the previously-missing 2013 second-round pick Arthur Brown even played — but the same mistakes came at critical times as the Ravens committed nine penalties for 121 yards.

It used to be that the Ravens had to play poorly and a team like Jacksonville would need to be nearly perfect to have a real chance to win in Baltimore, but let’s not pretend that the Jaguars were a juggernaut with their collection of dropped passes, a 26-yard field goal miss, and questionable play-calling throughout the day.

Sunday was 60 minutes of mediocre football played between two bad teams, with the Ravens blinking hardest at the end.

“We’re just not the type of team that’s finding ways to win right now,” said Flacco, who committed three turnovers in the third quarter despite three touchdown passes on the day. “We’re not good enough to [win] football games at the end. You can look at how crazy it is no matter what. We have chances to close those games out. We’re just leaving room for stuff like this to happen.”

You can keep pointing to closes losses and dwelling on misfortune.

Instead of turning a corner after their bye week and making a statement that the second half of 2015 would be a different story, the Ravens played the same losing tune in the end. And it wiped out what faint hope might have remained in their lost season.

M&T Bank Stadium used to be a place where the Ravens were almost invincible, but they’re now 1-3 at home with losses to Cleveland and Jacksonville, perennial doormats of the AFC. There’s just no explanation for it other than being a bad team, even if the Ravens and their fans might feel like the football gods were conspiring against them on that final play.

“We are not catching those breaks,” cornerback Jimmy Smith said. “It’s a flag here, dropped picks, and [missed] opportunities, and we’re not coming up with them.

“It’s not the universe; it’s us.”

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