Tag Archive | "Ravens"

Daniels, J. Smith remain sidelined; Reid going through concussion protocol

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Daniels, J. Smith remain sidelined; Reid going through concussion protocol

Posted on 19 August 2014 by Luke Jones

OWINGS MILLS, Md. — The Ravens continued to be without a number of notable players as they continued preparations Tuesday for the all-important third preseason game of the summer.

While a number of others remain sidelined with defined injuries, veteran tight end Owen Daniels continues to miss practices while resting his legs, according to head coach John Harbaugh. The 31-year-old hasn’t practiced since Aug. 11, leading some to wonder whether he is secretly injured or to even question his desire to play after what’s been an underwhelming summer for the former Houston Texan.

“He has some swelling in his leg with use, and we’re playing it safe right now rather than pounding his legs out,” Harbaugh said. “It’s training camp. He’s an older guy, and I’m just following [head certified athletic trainer] Mark [Smith’s] instructions on it. He feels like he needs some rest still, so that’s what he’s getting. But there’s no injury there.”

Reserve offensive tackle Jah Reid was absent from Tuesday’s practice as he is now undergoing the NFL’s concussion protocol. The 2011 third-round pick hasn’t lived up to expectations in his four-year career, but Harbaugh complimented Reid’s play on Monday, naming him the team’s top reserve tackle and all but confirming he would make the 53-man roster.

Reid was sidelined for most of the spring with a calf injury but had remained healthy through the first several weeks of training camp.

“Jah has a little head dinger,” Harbaugh said. “I don’t know the extent of it or how long it’ll be, but he hit his head yesterday, so he’s [going through the] concussion protocol.”

Others missing from Tuesday’s practice included cornerbacks Jimmy Smith (chest), Lardarius Webb (back), and Asa Jackson (ankle), offensive linemen Will Rackley (head) and Brett Van Sloten (knee), fullback Shaun Chapas (undisclosed). Defensive tackle Terrence Cody remains on the active physically unable to perform list while rehabbing from offseason hip surgery.

Harbaugh gave the day off to wide receivers Steve Smith and Torrey Smith as well as defensive end Chris Canty.

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Bovada gives Ravens 5/9 odds to miss playoffs

Posted on 19 August 2014 by WNST Staff

Courtesy of Bovada, (www.Bovada.lv, Twitter: @BovadaLV). Below are the odds in alphabetical order as well as most likely to least likely make the playoffs.

 

Playoff Odds (in alphabetical order)

Will the Atlanta Falcons make the playoffs?    

Yes                  +200     (2/1)

No                    -260     (5/13)

 

Will the Baltimore Ravens make the playoffs? 

Yes                  +150     (3/2)

No                    -180     (5/9)

 

Will the Arizona Cardinals make the playoffs?

Yes                  +275     (11/4)

No                    -350     (2/7)

 

Will the Buffalo Bills make the playoffs?         

Yes                  +400     (4/1)

No                    -600     (1/6)

 

Will the Carolina Panthers make the playoffs?

Yes                  +200     (2/1)

No                    -260     (5/13)

 

Will the Chicago Bears make the playoffs?

Yes                  +150     (3/2)

No                    -180     (5/9)

 

Will the Cincinnati Bengals make the playoffs?           

Yes                  +110     (11/10)

No                    -140     (5/7)

 

Will the Cleveland Browns make the playoffs?

Yes                  +400     (4/1)

No                    -600     (1/6)

 

Will the Dallas Cowboys make the playoffs?   

Yes                  +240     (12/5)

No                    -300     (1/3)

 

Will the Denver Broncos make the playoffs?   

Yes                  -500     (1/5)

No                    +350     (7?2)

 

Will the Green Bay Packers make the playoffs?           

Yes                  -220     (5/11)

No                    +180     (9/5)

 

Will the Detroit Lions make the playoffs?        

Yes                  +180     (9/5)

No                    -220     (5/11)

 

Will the Houston Texans make the playoffs?   

Yes                  +200     (2/1)

No                    -260     (5/13)

 

Will the Indianapolis Colts make the playoffs?

Yes                  -220     (5/11)

No                    +180     (9/5)

 

Will the Jacksonville Jaguars make the playoffs?        

Yes                  +800     (8/1)

No                    -1600    (1/16)

 

Will the Kansas City Chiefs make the playoffs?           

Yes                  +275     (11/4)

No                    -350     (2/7)

 

Will the Minnesota Vikings make the playoffs?

Yes                  +400     (4/1)

No                    -600     (1/6)

 

Will the Miami Dolphins make the playoffs?    

Yes                  +275     (11/4)

No                    -350     (2/7

 

Will the New England Patriots make the playoffs?

Yes                  -500     (1/5)

No                    +350     (7/2)

 

Will the New York Jets make the playoffs?      

Yes                  +350     (7/2)

No                    -500     (1/5)

 

Will the New York Giants make the playoffs?

Yes                  +200     (2/1)

No                    -260     (5/13)

 

Will the New Orleans Saints make the playoffs?          

Yes                  -200     (1/2)

No                    +160     (8/5)

 

Will the Oakland Raiders make the playoffs?

Yes                  +700     (7/1)

No                    -1400    (1/14)

 

Will the Philadelphia Eagles make the playoffs?         

Yes                  -150     (2/3)

No                    +120     (6/5)

 

Will the San Diego Chargers make the playoffs?         

Yes                  +180     (9/5)

No                    -220     (5/11)

 

Will the San Francisco 49ers make the playoffs?

Yes                  -220     (5/11)

No                    +180     (9/5)

 

Will the Pittsburgh Steelers make the playoffs?

Yes                  +110     (11/10)

No                    -140     (5/7)

 

Will the Seattle Seahawks make the playoffs? 

Yes                  -325     (4/13)

No                    +250     (5/2)

 

Will the St. Louis Rams make the playoffs?    

Yes                  +300     (3/1)

No                    -400     (1/4)

 

Will the Tampa Bay Buccaneers make the playoffs?

Yes                  +350     (7/2)

No                    -500     (1/5)

 

Will the Tennessee Titans make the playoffs? 

Yes                  +300     (3/1)

No                    -400     (1/4)

 

Will the Washington Redskins make the playoffs?

Yes                  +225     (9/4)

No                    -280     (5/14)

 

Playoff Odds (in order of most likely to least likely to make the playoffs)

Will the Denver Broncos make the playoffs?   

Yes                  -500     (1/5)

No                    +350     (7?2)

 

Will the New England Patriots make the playoffs?

Yes                  -500     (1/5)

No                    +350     (7/2)

 

Will the Seattle Seahawks make the playoffs? 

Yes                  -325     (4/13)

No                    +250     (5/2)

 

Will the Green Bay Packers make the playoffs?           

Yes                  -220     (5/11)

No                    +180     (9/5)

 

Will the San Francisco 49ers make the playoffs?

Yes                  -220     (5/11)

No                    +180     (9/5)

 

Will the Indianapolis Colts make the playoffs?

Yes                  -220     (5/11)

No                    +180     (9/5)

 

Will the New Orleans Saints make the playoffs?          

Yes                  -200     (1/2)

No                    +160     (8/5)

 

Will the Philadelphia Eagles make the playoffs?         

Yes                  -150     (2/3)

No                    +120     (6/5)

 

Will the Cincinnati Bengals make the playoffs?           

Yes                  +110     (11/10)

No                    -140     (5/7)

 

Will the Pittsburgh Steelers make the playoffs?

Yes                  +110     (11/10)

No                    -140     (5/7)

 

Will the Baltimore Ravens make the playoffs? 

Yes                  +150     (3/2)

No                    -180     (5/9)

 

Will the Chicago Bears make the playoffs?

Yes                  +150     (3/2)

No                    -180     (5/9)

 

Will the Detroit Lions make the playoffs?        

Yes                  +180     (9/5)

No                    -220     (5/11)

 

Will the San Diego Chargers make the playoffs?         

Yes                  +180     (9/5)

No                    -220     (5/11)

 

Will the Atlanta Falcons make the playoffs?    

Yes                  +200     (2/1)

No                    -260     (5/13)

 

Will the Carolina Panthers make the playoffs?

Yes                  +200     (2/1)

No                    -260     (5/13)

 

Will the Houston Texans make the playoffs?   

Yes                  +200     (2/1)

No                    -260     (5/13)

 

Will the New York Giants make the playoffs?

Yes                  +200     (2/1)

No                    -260     (5/13)

 

Will the Washington Redskins make the playoffs?

Yes                  +225     (9/4)

No                    -280     (5/14)

 

Will the Dallas Cowboys make the playoffs?   

Yes                  +240     (12/5)

No                    -300     (1/3)

 

Will the Arizona Cardinals make the playoffs?

Yes                  +275     (11/4)

No                    -350     (2/7)

 

Will the Kansas City Chiefs make the playoffs?           

Yes                  +275     (11/4)

No                    -350     (2/7)

 

Will the Miami Dolphins make the playoffs?    

Yes                  +275     (11/4)

No                    -350     (2/7

 

Will the Tennessee Titans make the playoffs? 

Yes                  +300     (3/1)

No                    -400     (1/4)

 

Will the St. Louis Rams make the playoffs?    

Yes                  +300     (3/1)

No                    -400     (1/4)

 

Will the New York Jets make the playoffs?      

Yes                  +350     (7/2)

No                    -500     (1/5)

 

Will the Tampa Bay Buccaneers make the playoffs?

Yes                  +350     (7/2)

No                    -500     (1/5)

 

Will the Buffalo Bills make the playoffs?         

Yes                  +400     (4/1)

No                    -600     (1/6)

 

Will the Cleveland Browns make the playoffs?

Yes                  +400     (4/1)

No                    -600     (1/6)

 

Will the Minnesota Vikings make the playoffs?

Yes                  +400     (4/1)

No                    -600     (1/6)

 

Will the Oakland Raiders make the playoffs?

Yes                  +700     (7/1)

No                    -1400    (1/14)

 

Will the Jacksonville Jaguars make the playoffs?        

Yes                  +800     (8/1)

No                    -1600    (1/16)

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Top 10 Baseball Distractions

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Top 10 Baseball Distractions

Posted on 19 August 2014 by Glenn Clark

Honorable Mention: WNBA Playoffs-Washington Mystics vs. Indiana Fever (Game 1 Thursday 7pm from Indianapolis live on ESPN2 Game 2 Saturday 5pm from Verizon Center live on ESPN2 Game 3 Monday TBD from Indy live on NBA TV); MLL Championship Game: Denver Outlaws vs. Rochester Rattlers (Saturday 7pm from Kennesaw, GA live on CBS Sports Network)

10. Oddball Comedy & Curiosity Festival feat. Amy Schumer, Chris Hardwick, Bill Burr, Dave Attell, Jeff Ross, Hannibal Burress (Thursday 5pm Jiffy Lube Live); LaVell Crawford (Thursday-Sunday Baltimore Comedy Factory); Maryland State Fair (Friday-Monday Timonium Fairgrounds); Maryland Renaissance Festival (Saturday & Sunday Rennfest Fairgrounds); When The Game Stands Tall” and “Sin City: A Dame to Kill For” out in theaters (Friday)

Let’s see how Towson’s own Amy Schumer handled the #IceBucketChallenge.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oUenC9orEy0

Sometimes when I’m at the State Fair I stop by strangers and offer to share my turkey legs with them.

9. Rod Stewart & Santana (Tuesday 7:30pm Verizon Center); Motley Crue (Friday 7pm Jiffy Lube Live), Miranda Lambert/Justin Moore (Saturday 7pm Jiffy Lube Live); Lyle Lovett & His Large Band (Friday 8pm Wolf Trap); Johnnyswim (Wednesday 8pm Rams Head Live), Yonder Mountain String Band (Friday 8pm Rams Head Live); Eli Young Band (Sunday 8pm Rams Head Center Stage); George Clinton & Parliament Funkadelic (Sunday 7pm 9:30 Club); Sturgill Simpson (Tuesday 7:30pm Birchmere); French Montana (Friday 9pm Echostage); 38 Special (Friday 6:30pm Maryland State Fair); Jackson Browne (Saturday 8pm Hippodrome Theatre at the France-Merrick Performing Arts Center); Brad Paisley “Moonshine In The Trunk”, Smokey Robinson “Smokey and Friends”, Avenged Sevenfold “Waking the Fallen: Resurrected”, Wiz Khalifa “Blacc Hollywood” and Benjamin Booker “Benjamin Booker” available (Tuesday)

There can NEVER be enough Hot Rod in T10BD.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m2CQ0FvAZuw

Johnnyswim is amazingfantasticwonderfuloutstandingbeautifulawesomeincrediblewhereI’llbewithAllenMcCallumWednesdaynight.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Yhg-kycwLnE

This is Smokey Robinson doing “Tracks of My Tears” with Elton John. I share because I care.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5A0lK8IdiRA

You’ve been hearing Benjamin Booker as a rejoiner on “The Reality Check” recently. For good reason.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u8VyRO2iqeg

(Continued on Page 2…)

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Wagner named starting right tackle to begin 2014 season

Posted on 18 August 2014 by Luke Jones

OWINGS MILLS, Md. — A position debated for much of the offseason has a resolution with the start of the season just under three weeks away as Ravens head coach John Harbaugh named Rick Wagner his starting right tackle following Monday’s practice.

The news was anticlimactic considering Wagner has received nearly all first-team reps since the start of training camp with fourth-year lineman Jah Reid working as the second-string right tackle. Wagner has held up well in his first summer working with the starting unit, earning compliments from coaches and teammates alike.

“He’s earned it. He’s earned that spot,” Harbaugh said. “And Jah has earned the third spot. Jah has done a heck of a job, too, as far as working his way into the third tackle spot.”

It remains to be seen whether the Ravens will elect to keep rookie offensive tackle James Hurst, an undrafted free agent from North Carolina who has worked as the backup left tackle behind Eugene Monroe in practices. In the event of an injury to Monroe, the Ravens could shift Wagner to left tackle with Reid moving into the right spot if they only elect to keep three tackles.

After so much discussion over who would replace former right tackle Michael Oher in the offseason, Wagner has gone largely unnoticed in practices this summer, which is a good thing at a position where most attention tends to be negative. Wagner played 41 snaps against San Francisco in the opener and 30 snaps against Dallas on Saturday night.

As a fifth-round rookie out of Wisconsin last season, Wagner served primarily as a blocking tight end in jumbo package situations.

“He’s been solid. Solid is the next step before being good, and good is the next step before being great,” Harbaugh said. “He’s on his way in a lot of ways. He has plenty of things to work on, but he does not make mistakes twice. He’s a good athlete. [Defenses have] tried to bull-rush him and go after him that way, and he has not really been moved too much at all. I’m proud of him.”

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Jimmy Smith still sidelined after suffering bruised lungs against Cowboys

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Jimmy Smith still sidelined after suffering bruised lungs against Cowboys

Posted on 18 August 2014 by Luke Jones

OWINGS MILLS, Md. — The Ravens returned to the practice field on Monday without top cornerback Jimmy Smith, but the prognosis appears encouraging after he suffered a scary chest injury in Saturday’s preseason win over the Dallas Cowboys.

Head coach John Harbaugh said a magnetic resonance imaging exam revealed the 2011 first-round pick suffered bruising and bleeding from the lungs when he slammed his back on the turf while defending a sideline pass intended for Pro Bowl wide receiver Dez Bryant early in the first quarter. Smith was coughing up blood even after the game and was initially diagnosed with a chest contusion, according to the Ravens.

“They said it’s not a serious thing and just needs a couple days to heal up,” Harbaugh said. “We do anticipate him to play against the Redskins unless something changes that I’m not aware of.”

Running back Ray Rice practiced on Monday after leaving Saturday’s game with a shoulder injury. X-rays were negative for Rice after he was limited to just 21 yards on two carries. With Rice facing a two-game suspension to begin the regular season, Harbaugh had planned to focus on getting work for primary backup Bernard Pierce as well as veteran Justin Forsett and rookie Lorenzo Taliaferro, but he may elect to give Rice a few more reps since he saw little action against the Cowboys.

Harbaugh elected to award Saturday’s start to Pierce to give him an extra opportunity to begin a game with the starting offense before he begins the season as the starter in Week 1.

“It could impact us [to] maybe get Ray a few more reps going forward,” said Harbaugh about Saturday’s distribution of playing time. “But the main focus is going to be Bernard, Justin, and Lorenzo and getting those guys ready. You know Ray’s had a good camp.”

Veteran tight end Owen Daniels was absent from the field during the portion of practice open for media viewing and hasn’t been on the field since last Monday. The Ravens have insisted Daniels is being rested and is not dealing with an injury concern, but the 31-year-old has now missed three straight practices and did not play in Saturday’s game.

The former Texan was limited to just five games due to a broken leg last season.

“There’s no pull, there’s no strain of any kind,” Harbaugh said. “[His legs are] a little fatigued. You get a little swelling in there. You’ve got to take some time to get the legs back, and we really felt like he needed to get his legs back, especially as an older guy. We wanted to give him this time to do that. I’m counting on him being there this week. That’s what I’ve been told is there’s no kind of injury in there. It’s just a fatigue factor, and he needs time.”

Others missing from Monday’s practice included cornerbacks Lardarius Webb (back) and Asa Jackson (ankle), offensive linemen Will Rackley (head) and Brett Van Sloten (knee), and defensive tackle Terrence Cody (physically unable to perform list – hip).

Harbaugh said that Webb would not play in the preseason after initially hoping the starting cornerback would be able to play in the third game of the summer. The sixth-year cornerback has been sidelined with a back injury since July 25.

Nursing an ankle injury since Aug. 10, Jackson has a chance to return to action this week, according to Harbaugh.

“Asa’s got a chance,” Harbaugh said. “‘Touch and go’ is probably a good way to say it, but I’ve been told he has a chance to get back for this game. It’d be great if he could.”

The Ravens were practicing in helmets, shells, and shorts after receiving Sunday off.

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Sizing up the 2014 Ravens roster after second preseason game

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Sizing up the 2014 Ravens roster after second preseason game

Posted on 17 August 2014 by Luke Jones

With two preseason games in the books, the Ravens’ 53-man roster picture continues to take shape with final cuts less than two weeks away and questions still remaining.

Depth concerns are apparent along the defensive line and in the secondary, which could prompt general manager Ozzie Newsome to be looking for outside help to enhance the roster between now and the start of the season. Meanwhile, the Ravens appear to have some depth at linebacker and on the offensive line — though overall quality might be in question with the latter — that could leave a few incumbents on the outside looking in by the end of the summer.

My current look at the roster suggests 42 players are locks if the deadline to trim the roster to 53 took place today. My rough assessment of the 90 players on the roster lists 20 players on the bubble with at least some decent chance of making the final roster. Not all bubble players are on equal footing, with certain positions lacking quality depth and others enjoying an abundance of talent.

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

The Ravens must trim the roster from the current 90 players to 75 by 4 p.m. on Aug. 26 and must go down to the regular-season number of 53 by Aug. 30.

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. 17. Players listed as injured or suspended are not projected to count against the 53-man roster when final cuts are made.

QUARTERBACKS (3)
LOCK: Joe Flacco, Tyrod Taylor
BUBBLE: Keith Wenning
LONG SHOT: None
Skinny: With depth concerns at other positions, it’s difficult to justify the Ravens keeping three quarterbacks on the 53-man roster for the first time since 2009. They’re likely to attempt to sneak Wenning through waivers to place him on the practice squad, but it won’t be the end of the world if another team snatches up the sixth-round selection.

RUNNING BACKS & FULLBACKS (8)
LOCK: Bernard Pierce, Lorenzo Taliaferro, Kyle Juszczyk
BUBBLE: Justin Forsett
LONG SHOT: Cierre Wood, Fitz Toussaint, Shaun Chapas
SUSPENDED: Ray Rice (will be suspended for the first two games of the regular season)
Skinny: The rapid emergence of Taliaferro and two fumbles in two preseason games by Forsett have landed the veteran in a more vulnerable position than you’d expect despite Rice serving a suspension to begin the season. The guess is Forsett still finds his way on the 53-man roster to begin the year, but his spot will be in serious danger by Week 3.

WIDE RECEIVERS (11)
LOCK: Steve Smith, Torrey Smith, Jacoby Jones, Marlon Brown
BUBBLE: Michael Campanaro, Kamar Aiken, Deonte Thompson
LONG SHOT: Jeremy Butler, LaQuan Williams, Mike Willie, Jace Davis
Skinny: Many will view Thompson’s 108-yard kickoff return for a touchdown as a play that lands him on the roster, but the third-year wideout only saw two offensive snaps against Dallas. Aiken has been the better player this summer and has more size as a receiver, and Campanaro has shown more consistent hands than Thompson.

TIGHT ENDS (5)
LOCK: Dennis Pitta, Crockett Gillmore, Owen Daniels
BUBBLE: none
LONG SHOT: Phillip Supernaw, Nathan Overbay
Skinny: The Ravens’ decision to “rest” Daniels is raising eyebrows as it relates to the veteran’s health, but his inability to gain separation in practices has tempered enthusiasm for the tight end position. However, his track record and an uneven summer for the rookie Gillmore make it difficult to think Daniels is anything but a lock.

OFFENSIVE LINEMEN (16)
LOCK: Eugene Monroe, Kelechi Osemele, Jeremy Zuttah, Marshal Yanda, Rick Wagner, Gino Gradkowski, John Urschel
BUBBLE: Jah Reid, A.Q. Shipley, James Hurst, Will Rackley, Ryan Jensen
LONG SHOT: Brett Van Sloten, Reggie Stephens, David Mims, Parker Graham
Skinny: Reid gets the nod as the primary backup tackle over Hurst, and Shipley has been more consistent than Jensen this summer. Hurst and Jensen would be strong candidates for the practice squad if left off the 53-man roster.

DEFENSIVE LINEMEN (12)

CONTINUE ON NEXT PAGE >>>>>

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J. Smith, Rice leave with injuries in win over Cowboys

Posted on 16 August 2014 by Luke Jones

The Ravens appeared to avoid a couple bullets in Saturday’s 37-30 win over the Dallas Cowboys after two key starters left the game with injuries in the first half.

Top cornerback Jimmy Smith created plenty of concern as he slammed his back hard on the turf while covering Cowboys wide receiver Dez Bryant on the opening drive of the game, but X-rays were negative for what’s being described as a bruised chest. The fourth-year defensive back watched the remainder of the game in street clothes after he was seen spitting up blood as he was helped to the sideline.

“Jimmy had kind of a chest contusion,” head coach John Harbaugh said. “He landed on his back and got a bruise in there, so he should be fine.”

Despite what sounds like a minor injury, The Sun reported Smith was still coughing up blood in the locker room and couldn’t recall anything after the first series of the game.

Running back Ray Rice also left the game with an injured shoulder, but X-rays were negative as Rice told the Ravens’ broadcast team he was fine when he was initially taken into the locker room. He finished the game with 21 yards on two carries, which included a good burst on an 18-yard gain.

With Rice facing a two-game suspension to begin the regular season, top backup Bernard Pierce started the game and finished with 55 yards on seven carries.

“That’s a shoulder bruise,” said Harbaugh about Rice’s condition following the game. “It shouldn’t be anything too serious.”

Harbaugh reiterated to reporters that he didn’t expect either player to miss too much time.

Tight end Owen Daniels sat out Saturday night’s game after missing practices on Wednesday and Thursday, but the Ravens have maintained that the veteran is simply being rested and is not dealing with an injury.

 

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Ravens’ cornerback situation can’t be overlooked in win over Cowboys

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Ravens’ cornerback situation can’t be overlooked in win over Cowboys

Posted on 16 August 2014 by Luke Jones

A 37-30 win for the Ravens over the Dallas Cowboys on Saturday night doesn’t reflect what was the most concerning image from the opening minutes of the second preseason game of the summer.

Already without starter Lardarius Webb and No. 3 corner contender Asa Jackson due to injuries, the Ravens lost their most important piece of the secondary — and likely their entire defense — as Jimmy Smith landed hard on his back defending a sideline pass intended for Cowboys wide receiver Dez Bryant. The good news is that X-rays were negative on his chest and the fourth-year watched the remainder of the game from the sideline despite spitting up blood on the sideline as he was helped off the field.

A bruised chest isn’t necessarily cause for panic — The Sun reported Smith was still coughing up blood following the game — but watching Chykie Brown and Dominique Franks handle the cornerback spots with the starting defense conjured memories of David Pittman and Willie Gaston manning the Baltimore secondary in the disastrous 2007 season. And it was another reminder of just how thin the Ravens’ cornerback depth is considering Brown has been picked on for much of the summer and Franks had been relegated to third-string duties until the last week.

Franks was beaten on a jump ball to Bryant for a 31-yard touchdown — a matchup that was simply unfair — while Brown was later burned by Cowboys wideout Terrance Williams on a deep route that was badly underthrown. To Brown’s credit, he did recover to break up the pass, but the play was more about a poor throw from Cowboys backup Brandon Weeden than an impressive play by the fourth-year cornerback.

It didn’t help that Dean Pees’ defense struggled to stop the run and generated little pressure in the pocket in the first half, but general manager Ozzie Newsome and the front office must address what is obvious with the start of the season only three weeks away. The Ravens need to add an established cornerback to their secondary in order to not be exposed by potent passing games in the throw-happy NFL.

All you need to know about the confidence level in the current batch of cornerbacks is the Ravens’ experimentation with using three safeties in the nickel defense with rookie Terrence Brooks lining up at the slot corner position. Jackson was emerging as a promising option for the No. 3 job, but he remains too much of an unknown and was spotted in a walking boot Saturday after injuring his ankle a week ago. John Harbaugh said it was a “minor” ankle sprain at the time, but the head coach is often ambiguous and vague when discussing injuries, making you wonder when Jackson will even make it back to the practice field.

Even if Smith and Webb are healthy for the start of the season — the latter has been sidelined with a back injury since July 25 — no one on the current roster instills enough confidence in being able to handle the No. 3 cornerback spot. That reality has made the free-agent departure of Corey Graham to Buffalo in the offseason that much more glaring as the Ravens didn’t draft a cornerback or sign a veteran at the position until the middle of June.

The problem will be addressing the problem at this stage as quality cornerbacks aren’t exactly waiting in abundance. A free-agent veteran such as Asante Samuel is always a possibility, but that won’t necessarily solve the problem as the Ravens already signed veterans Aaron Ross — who tore his Achilles tendon at the start of training camp — and Franks at the end of mandatory minicamp and have seen disappointing results. The Ravens’ best bet — or only hope — might be to dangle a future draft pick in hopes of acquiring another team’s second or third cornerback.

The nickel defense has become too much of a staple in today’s NFL to continue to expect an in-house candidate to handle the job. That concern will become a major problem if any of the Ravens’ current injuries linger into the start of the season with Cincinnati and Pittsburgh first up on the schedule.

The clock is ticking and the concern only grew as Smith landed hard on the turf at AT&T Stadium and needed to be helped off the field.

The Ravens need help in the secondary.

But it’s going to be difficult to find it.

 

 

 

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Ravens-Cowboys preseason primer: Five players to watch

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Ravens-Cowboys preseason primer: Five players to watch

Posted on 15 August 2014 by Luke Jones

The Ravens will try to build on an encouraging performance in their preseason opener as they travel to Texas to take on the Dallas Cowboys in their second preseason game of the summer.

Observers were abuzz over an impressive 10-play, 80-yard drive that resulted in a touchdown in the starting offense’s only work of the night against San Francisco, but the Ravens have acknowledged throughout the week that they can’t put too much stock into one possession. Even with plenty of strides already taken throughout training camp to grasp new offensive coordinator Gary Kubiak’s system, there is plenty of work remaining before the Ravens kick off the regular season against Cincinnati on Sept. 7.

“You have an opportunity to really see progress,” head coach John Harbaugh said. “You’re in a crucible, and every single day, it’s all you do. It’s wall-to-wall football. It’s morning to night. You go to sleep and you wake up, and you’re back at football. There’s no escape. There’s nowhere to hide, [and] there’s nowhere to run. It’s all football all the time, so you make progress rapidly, but you have to because you have a long way to go.”

Harbaugh confirmed starters are expected to receive more playing time against the Cowboys than they did against San Francisco, but the first units will receive their most extensive work against Washington in the third preseason game next weekend.

The Ravens are expected to continue giving running back Ray Rice first-team reps along with top backup Bernard Pierce before focusing more on the latter next week with Rice suspended for the first two games of the regular season.

“Normally, in the second preseason game you get a quarter, maybe a little more than a quarter,” Harbaugh said. “Some of that will be individualized for different players; we’ll have some play counts for a few guys, including Joe [Flacco] and some of the defensive players. We’ll see how it goes, but basically, about a quarter is what you’re looking at — maybe more. It could get close to a half; it could even be a half for some of the starters.”

Saturday will be the first preseason meeting between the Ravens and the Cowboys, but Baltimore owns the 4-0 edge in the regular season and will be making its first visit to AT&T Stadium in Arlington. The Ravens are 43-29 all-time in the preseason and have a 16-9 preseason mark in the Harbaugh era.

Unofficial (and largely speculative) injury report

The Ravens are not required to release an injury report like they do for regular-season games, but I’ve offered my best guess on what the injury report would look like if one were to be released ahead of Saturday night’s game against Dallas.

Most of the players ruled to be out will come as no surprise, but the status of a few will be in question. This list, of course, will not include any veterans who may be held out of the preseason opener due to the coaching staff’s preference. Cornerback Lardarius Webb is not expected to play in the second preseason game as he’s been sidelined with a lower back injury since July 25.

Again, this is not an official injury report released by the Ravens:

OUT: CB Lardarius Webb (back), G Will Rackley (head), DT Terrence Cody (hip), DE Kapron Lewis-Moore (Achilles tendon), DE Brent Urban (knee)
DOUBTFUL: CB Asa Jackson (ankle)
QUESTIONABLE: TE Owen Daniels (unspecified)
PROBABLE: LB Daryl Smith (groin), S Brynden Trawick (back), OL Ryan Jensen (leg)

Five players to watch Saturday night

1. C Jeremy Zuttah

While many pointed to the success of right tackle Rick Wagner in the first preseason game, the new Baltimore center appeared to make calls at the line successfully as the starting offense ran the ball effectively and protected Flacco. Zuttah isn’t dramatically bigger than 2013 starter Gino Gradkowski, but he’s held up well physically as a run blocker and in pass protection. The offensive line will remain under heavy scrutiny through the early portion of the series, but the reviews for Zuttah have been positive and the overall concern at the center position last year at this time appears to be a distant memory.

“The thing about Jeremy, he is a professional in every way,” offensive line coach Juan Castillo said. “He is smart, and he studies the game. For him, too, it’s a different technique, and he’s been working very hard at the fundamentals and trying to do the things the way we do it here in Baltimore.”

2. S Terrence Brooks

It was no secret that Brooks was lagging behind in the competition at free safety due to concerns with him grasping the intricacies of the defense, but injuries to Webb and Jackson at the cornerback position have prompted the Ravens to take a look at the Florida State product in the nickel spot, a position he played with the Seminoles. The shift is more of a reflection on how shallow the cornerback depth is at this point, but Brooks may find the nickel and dime packages as his best chance to see the field for meaningful defensive snaps to start his rookie season.

“Everybody is an option right now. We’re just trying to find guys,” said defensive coordinator Dean Pees on the No. 3 cornerback spot. “We’re moving guys around a little bit. We have two more games to experiment with where we want to put guys and see where they fit getting ready for the season. The first two games are [about] playing everybody [to] see what we have, and then after that, we have to start honing in. But we’ll move a bunch of guys around. Terrence is playing well; he’s playing hard. He’s a multi-position guy like all of our guys really are. It’s a possibility.”

3. WR Kamar Aiken

The 2013 practice squad member has turned plenty of heads and certainly took advantage of his opportunity in the preseason opener with four catches for 46 yards on six targets and 29 offensive snaps. The 6-foot-2, 215-pound wideout appears to be competing closely with Deonte Thompson for a potential roster spot, but Aiken has outplayed the incumbent member of the 53-man roster and can further improve his chances by building on what he did against the 49ers. Of course, special-teams contributions will play a major part in determining whether Aiken finds himself on the active roster.

“He is explosive and he’s big,” offensive coordinator Gary Kubiak said. “I tell you, in all my years in the league, I don’t know that I’ve ever seen as competitive a situation as we have at receiver right now. I would have no chance telling John [Harbaugh] which five or six I would want right now, and that’s a good thing as a coach.”

4. DL DeAngelo Tyson

The 2012 seventh-round pick has been a steady member of the defensive line rotation in his first two seasons, but season-ending injuries to young defensive ends Brent Urban and Kapron Lewis-Moore may force the Ravens to use Tyson more exclusively at the 5-technique spot to spell veteran Chris Canty. The University of Georgia product can play multiple spots on the defensive line, so it will be a blow to their overall versatility in the trenches if Pees must use Tyson outside, but his presence has become much more important with the overall depth taking a hit this summer.

“The next guy will be up, and we’ll find a way to do it,” said Harbaugh about the injuries to Urban and Lewis-Moore. “There are always going to be injuries. You adapt, you adjust and you fill out your positions.”

5. TE Crockett Gillmore

The Ravens insist the veteran tight end Daniels isn’t injured, but it’s clear there are some physical concerns with him missing two straight practices following an off-day and not showing great separation while running routes in practices. These factors could open the door for Gillmore to receive more opportunities with the starting offense against Dallas and beyond. It’s been an inconsistent summer for the Colorado State product as a blocker and as a receiver, but that’s to be expected from a third-round pick who will be counted on to be used to some degree with neither Daniels nor starter Dennis Pitta considered particularly strong blockers.

“Crockett is a good football player,” Pitta said earlier this summer. “He’s a tough kid and he’s big and physical and a great blocker at the point of attack. I think that’s what stood out the most this early on. He’s going to be a valuable asset for this offense moving forward.”


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Dorsey’s Dugout – Ravens vs. Cowboys and Start Blake Bortles

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Dorsey’s Dugout – Ravens vs. Cowboys and Start Blake Bortles

Posted on 15 August 2014 by Nick Dorsey

 

 

Ravens Depart to Dallas

The first pre-season match was encouraging for the small sample size that fans got to witness out of the first team units. The defense did allow the 49ers to run the ball successfully on the opening drive, but they held it down when the defense needed to the most. In the first exhibition, it is better to see a defense bend and not break, rather than giving up six from the get go.

What stuck out the most from the game against the 49ers was the Ravens success offensively. All eyes were anxious to see the new look of the Kubiak-ran offense and the fans got a small glimpse of things to come. The use of tight ends stood out the most with the unique misdirection screen to Dennis Pitta. Kyle Juszczyk is not a tight end, but he assumes the H-back type role and looked solid in the first appearance.

As the Ravens head into Saturday night’s matchup in the house that Jerry built, there are a couple of things to look for. Although the sample size will once again be small, there are a couple different facets to observe.

Joe Flacco and the starters got yanked quickly after a perfect first drive that resulted in a touchdown. The choice of pulling the starters after a successful scoring drive against a defense like the 49ers was a smart decision.

The offense should not show any sign of slowing down against the Cowboys due to the fact they are facing a far less superior defense. The Dallas Cowboys arguably have the worst defense in the league, so it is imperative that the Ravens offense keeps the momentum rolling with productive drives from the starting unit.

The passing offense got it done last game, but the ground game is what to watch for this time around. The rush offense was the Achilles heel last season and it will be interesting to see how Kubiak can turn it around. If the offense shows signs of quality gains through the trenches against Dallas, it will be something to build off of.

Another facet to take note of for the upcoming exhibition is how Baltimore will defend the run. The Ravens struggled to slow down the 49ers rush offense, but they are among the best in the league at just that.

Dallas has a solid look in the run game, led by DeMarco Murray. The offensive line features some solid young starters such as Zach Martin and Tyron Smith. With that being said, CJ Mosley is someone to watch in game two.

The first round pick is coming off of a solid first performance and it would be encouraging to see progress in the second game. His natural football instincts will be put to the test to break down the plays and distinguish where the ball may end up.

Facing the Cowboys offense also means a defense is going against a quality air attack. The Ravens glaring depletion is in the secondary, depending on inexperience and lack of depth. The coaching staff is hoping someone can step up to fill that hole as the nickel corner and the Dallas game is the perfect opportunity to put that challenge on display.

 

Note to Bradley: Just Start Bortles

When the Jaguars made Blake Bortles the third selection in the 2014 NFL Draft, it came across that night as a slight surprise. It should not have been because Bortles was clearly the number one quarterback coming out of college.

Once the Central Florida star was drafted, head coach Gus Bradley made it clear that Bortles would sit the entire season to groom him for the future. All that sounded cliché during the off-season because the landscape of that decision could change once the exhibition season begins.

Bortles now has gotten reps in two exhibition games and he has been nothing short of impressive. In his first appearance against the Buccaneers, Bortles went 7 for 11 and 117 passing yards. In the Thursday night showing against the Bears, the former Golden Knight went 11 for 17 and 160 passing yards.

It is nice to see the yards and completion percentage, but the number one thing to account for in watching a young quarterback is decision making. Bortles has not turned the ball over yet in his two brief stints, which is a good sign since ball security at times was a concern in college.

Bradley has not given a lot of action to the rookie quarterback in training camp when it comes to getting first team reps. It is time now to give Bortles the chance with the first team in the next pre-season game.

The third exhibition in the NFL is known as the showcase game for every team as the starters play at least the first full half. It is somewhat of a dress rehearsal and the Jags would be smart to see what the rookie has in him against an opposing starting defense for a full half.

The Jaguars coaching staff already know what they have in Chad Henne. During his career, he has been a decent quarterback who is better served as a backup. He is not a franchise quarterback; he plays the role of a stopgap quarterback for a franchise. It is time that the staff eats their words from the off-season and throw in the rookie quarterback.

You know you have a stopgap quarterback in Henne, but what you do not know in Bortles is if you have a franchise quarterback. Coach Bradley needs to put the rookie in and see how much promise he has. Everything we have seen so far out of Bortles has been great and one play stuck out the most in his second game against Chicago.

It was second down and a good distance for Bortles as the offense was set up at their own five-yard line. They had the lead and a mistake would cost the team a good chunk of the points. The situation of the game would force the Jags offense to just run the ball conservatively, but it was an exhibition game. So the Jags took a risk to see how the rookie could handle it.

Bortles ran a play action fake and rolled to his right side looking up field. The rookie had a defender crashing down on him quickly and Bortles launched a throw on the run. Over 20 yards down the field, Bortles dropped the ball over and in between four Bears defenders to the wide receiver’s arms.

It ended up as an incompletion, but that was not on Bortles. Jon Gruden, the analyst on the ESPN telecast, went on a rant about the bad decision made given the situation of the game. Once the replay was shown, he was quickly scrutinized by fellow commentator Mike Tirico because the quality of the throw.

It was an absolute perfect throw, launched into the breadbasket of the receiver who failed to keep his second foot in bounds. The first thought that came to mind after that throw was simply just Wow.

Bortles has “it” to be the franchise quarterback for the Jaguars. That’s the same kind of throw that he displayed multiple times on film playing at UCF. He makes those “wow” throws that back up him being the real deal. Like the incredible opposite hash throw, deep down the field against Penn State, he has translated some of that magic to the next level.

So note to Gus Bradley, start the rookie because Bortles looks like he is the truth under center. He gives the Jags their best chance to win because of his playmaking ability with his arm and he has shown so far he can be smart with the ball.

With a good defense in place and a potential franchise quarterback, there is reason for optimism in Jacksonville. If Bortles can get the experience this season and continue to show these signs, the Jaguars can be a team to watch out for during the 2015 NFL season.

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