Tag Archive | "Ravens"

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DeCosta reportedly staying put once again

Posted on 06 January 2016 by Luke Jones

Eric DeCosta has once again decided to stay put with the Ravens.

Despite Tennessee requesting to interview Ozzie Newsome’s right-hand man for their general manager position, DeCosta has declined the opportunity, according to NFL Network. The 44-year-old assistant general manager is already the appointed successor to Newsome and is paid as well as some general managers around the league.

Some had wondered if the Titans possessing young quarterback Marcus Mariota and the No. 1 pick in April’s draft would tempt DeCosta enough to at least take an interview. However, the ownership questions surrounding Tennessee were a clear deterrent.

DeCosta has declined NFL teams’ inquiries on a near-annual basis, citing his affinity for the Ravens and his wife being from the area as prime reasons to stay. Of course, it also helps to have the general manager job waiting whenever the 59-year-old Newsome decides to call it quits.

But you do wonder if the longtime Ravens executive will be able to wait much longer.

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Report: Indianapolis interested in Ravens’ Monachino as coordinator

Posted on 06 January 2016 by Luke Jones

Though the Indianapolis Colts surprisingly retained Chuck Pagano as their head coach, they could now be after a top Ravens defensive assistant.

After firing defensive coordinator Greg Manusky on Tuesday, the Colts consider Baltimore linebackers coach Ted Monachino to be a strong candidate to replace him, according to FOX Sports. A Ravens assistant since 2010, the 49-year-old Monachino has been considered by some as the eventual successor to current defensive coordinator Dean Pees and is highly respected within the organization.

Monachino is extremely close with six-time Pro Bowl outside linebacker Terrell Suggs after also serving as his defensive line coach at Arizona State. He has been mentioned as a defensive coordinator candidate in the past, but he has never served in that capacity at the collegiate level or in the NFL.

Head coach John Harbaugh has often said he won’t stand in the way of his assistants receiving promotions elsewhere and has seen a number of assistants do exactly that over the years.

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Examining the Ravens’ 2016 class of free agents

Posted on 05 January 2016 by Luke Jones

The start of free agency is still two months away, but the Ravens face their most critical offseason in recent memory trying to rebound from the first losing season of the John Harbaugh era.

As is often the case, salary cap space will be a great concern as the Ravens entered the winter with an estimated 2016 commitment of just under $146 million to 47 players (not including free agents), according to Spotrac.com. The 2016 salary cap has not yet been set, but it is projected to rise from $143.28 million in 2015 to between $150 million and $153.4 million, which leaves general manager Ozzie Newsome with very tough maneuvering ahead.

Of course, the Ravens typically choose to renegotiate or terminate several veteran contracts with the reworking of quarterback Joe Flacco’s contract — and $28.55 million cap figure for 2016 — topping the list of offseason priorities. Simply put, restructuring Flacco’s deal is a must if the Ravens have any visions of revamping their roster or merely keeping together the current one.

Other veterans such as cornerbacks Lardarius Webb and Kyle Arrington, tight end Dennis Pitta, and defensive end Chris Canty don’t all necessarily carry lucrative cap numbers but could be released to create additional savings for the 2016 season.

UNRESTRICTED FREE AGENTS

The Ravens will have the opportunity to retain any of the following unrestricted free agents before they can officially sign with any other team beginning on March 9 at 4:00 p.m.

LB Chris CarterSigned in late December, Carter provided some special-teams play and depth at outside linebacker, but you wouldn’t expect his services to be in high demand.

LS Morgan Cox The veteran has been such a model of consistency working with punter Sam Koch and kicker Justin Tucker that you’d be very surprised to see the Ravens let him go.

QB Jimmy ClausenThough overshadowed by what Ryan Mallett did in the win over Pittsburgh, Clausen wouldn’t be a bad option on a one-year deal to compete for the backup job behind Flacco.

WR Chris GivensThe speedy receiver had every opportunity to establish himself as a viable option, but he caught just 19 passes in 12 games (six starts) after being acquired from St. Louis.

LB Albert McClellanRegarded by some as the best player on Jerry Rosburg’s special-teams units, the Ravens would love to bring him back at a reasonable rate ($1 million base salary in 2015).

OL Kelechi OsemeleConsidered all but gone when Marshal Yanda was extended, Osemele is firmly back on the Ravens’ radar as a left tackle after playing well there, but can they afford him?

TE Allen ReisnerThe veteran spent the year on injured reserve after breaking his ankle in the preseason and probably wouldn’t figure to be in the team’s plans moving forward.

QB Matt SchaubInjured in just his second start after Flacco was lost for the year, the 34-year-old watched Clausen and Mallett start the final four games and isn’t expected to be back.

K Justin TuckerThough he struggled from beyond 50 yards this year, the 2013 Pro Bowl selection is just too good to let go and will be re-signed or given the reasonable franchise tag for kickers.

LB Courtney UpshawThe Terrell Suggs injury pushed Upshaw into an every-down role, but he has limited pass-rush ability and will likely want to test his value on the open market.

CB Shareece WrightShaking off an abysmal Ravens debut against San Francisco, Wright played at a solid level and could be retained as the organization looks to draft another cornerback.

RESTRICTED FREE AGENTS

The following players have accrued three years of service and have expiring contracts. The Ravens can tender each with a restricted free agent offer, but other teams may then sign that player to a superior offer sheet. If that occurs, Baltimore has seven days to match the offer and keep the aforementioned player. If the Ravens choose not to match, they would receive compensation based on which tender was initially offered to that player.

There are three different tenders — the values won’t be set until the 2016 salary cap is determined — that can be made: a first-round tender ($3.354 million in 2015) would award the competing team’s first-round selection, a second-round tender ($2.356 million in 2015) would fetch the competing team’s second-round pick, and a low tender ($1.542 million in 2015) would bring the competing team’s draft choice equal to the round in which the player was originally drafted. For example, a restricted free agent selected in the fifth round would be worth a fifth-round pick if given the low tender. If a player went undrafted originally and is given the low tender, the Ravens would simply hold the right to match the competing figure and would not receive any compensation if they elected not to.

The original round in which each player was drafted is noted in parentheses:

WR Kamar Aiken (undrafted) With questions about the health of Steve Smith and Breshad Perriman, Aiken will likely receive a second-round tender after a season of just under 1,000 yards.

WR Marlon Brown (undrafted) A back injury as well as his well-documented regression make it very possible that Brown has played his last snap in Baltimore despite a productive 2013 rookie year.

TE Chase Ford (undrafted) – A shoulder injury landed Ford on IR less than two weeks after he was signed, and he never appeared in a game for the Ravens.

TE Konrad Reuland (undrafted) – The former practice-squad member saw limited live-game action late, but he could be re-signed to a minimum deal to remain with the team in the offseason.

S Brynden Trawick (undrafted) – One of the Ravens’ better special-teams players over the last three years, Trawick could receive a cheaper one- or two-year deal to stay put.

EXCLUSIVE RIGHTS FREE AGENTS

These players have less than three years of accrued service and can be tendered a contract for the league minimum based on their length of service in the league. If tendered, these players are not free to negotiate with other teams. Typically, the Ravens tender all exclusive-rights free agents with the thought that there’s nothing assured beyond the opportunity to compete for a spot. Exclusive-rights tenders are non-guaranteed, meaning a player can be cut at any point without consequence to the salary cap.

WR Daniel Brown
WR Jeremy Butler
WR Kaelin Clay
OL Ryan Jensen
RB Terrence Magee
WR Chris Matthews
CB Sheldon Price
CB Jumal Rolle
DT Micajah Reynolds
OT De’Ondre Wesley
RB Terrance West
CB Jermaine Whitehead

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What’s going on with Terrell Suggs?

Posted on 05 January 2016 by Luke Jones

Among the many interesting topics expected to be covered when the Ravens’ brass gathers for Thursday’s season-ending press conference will be the status of Terrell Suggs.

Lost for the year after tearing his left Achilles tendon in the Sept. 13 opener, the six-time Pro Bowl linebacker spent very little time at the team’s Owings Mills training facility this season and was still wearing a walking boot as he watched the Week 16 upset victory over Pittsburgh from the sideline. In contrast, Suggs was out of a boot a little over two months after tearing his right Achilles tendon in the spring of 2012 — he amazingly returned to action in less than six months to play that season — and 36-year-old wide receiver Steve Smith shed his walking boot on Monday and suffered his Achilles injury seven weeks after the 33-year-old linebacker did.

Asked on Monday if he sought advice from his teammate who has been through a similar rehabilitation process twice, Smith made a cryptic remark that could be taken any number of ways.

“Suggs is a little vulnerable right now, so I’m not going to talk to Suggs about it,” said Smith, who announced last week that he would return for another season after previously planning to retire. “He’s not a ray of sunshine like he usually is.”

It’s worth noting that Smith’s comments were made as he smiled, but the veteran receiver can occasionally be sly with the media, making one wonder if there was more to it than Suggs simply having a bad day.

Suggs hasn’t spoken with reporters since suffering the injury in Denver.

Head coach John Harbaugh said in early November that the 2011 AP Defensive Player of the Year told him at the time of the injury that he intended to return in 2016, but Suggs was more reflective than usual about his career this past spring and struggled to cope with the departure of his longtime teammate and friend Haloti Ngata, who was traded to the Detroit Lions last March. Suggs wore a hat with No. 92 on it — Ngata’s jersey number for nine years in Baltimore that isn’t currently worn by a Ravens player — as he cheered on his teammates during the Steelers game on Dec. 27.

General manager Ozzie Newsome holds a unique relationship with the 2003 first-round pick, so it will be interesting to hear where the veteran stands in terms of his health and status for next season.

Suggs is under contract through 2018 and is scheduled to carry a $7.45 million salary cap figure for next season.

Hindsight with Osemele

With much discussion centering around the left tackle position, it’s fair to wonder why the Ravens didn’t try Kelechi Osemele at left tackle before the acquisition of Eugene Monroe a few years ago.

Following the win in Super Bowl XLVII, Baltimore considered the possibility of moving Osemele to left tackle as Bryant McKinnie hit the free-agent market, but Newsome ultimately re-signed the veteran later that spring. Of course, McKinnie did not perform well and the Ravens traded fourth- and fifth-round draft picks to Jacksonville in exchange for Monroe in early October of 2013.

Had Osemele not been dealing with a chronic back issue at the time that eventually required season-ending surgery, he could have been a real option to move outside, but it’s difficult to fault the Ravens for not wanting to try it when he was already struggling just to perform at his regular left guard position. Instead, Monroe arrived and played so well over the remainder of the season that the Ravens rewarded him with a five-year, $37.5 million contract.

If the 2012 second-round pick had been healthy, perhaps he would have gotten his chance then and become Baltimore’s long-term left tackle a few years ago.

Complicated Webb

Following the season-ending loss to Cincinnati, veteran cornerback Lardarius Webb told reporters he viewed himself as a safety moving forward, but how the Ravens elect to handle that remains to be seen.

Webb and the Ravens already reworked his contract last offseason, but he is still scheduled to carry a $9.5 million salary cap number for 2016, which would put him among the highest-paid safeties in the NFL. Of course, that would come with a very limited sample of Webb playing the position.

The 30-year-old may very well be an upgrade from recent options such as Kendrick Lewis and Darian Stewart, but the Ravens would need Pro Bowl-quality play to justify that price tag. There’s just no way of knowing he can do that, making it likely that Webb will be cut if he isn’t willing to further adjust his contract that expires after the 2017 season.

Need for speed

Asked whether the passing game needs more speed next season, quarterback Joe Flacco didn’t answer with a definitive yes, but he was quick to point out how much it helps an AFC North rival.

“It does a lot for football teams,” said Flacco, who discussed the need to be able to push the ball down the field more at different times this past season. “You see what the Steelers are doing with the speed that they’ve added over the last couple years. It definitely makes a difference out there. I’m not saying that it’s something that we need, but when we’ve had it here, it’s definitely made a little bit of a difference.”

Should the Ravens re-sign restricted free-agent receiver Kamar Aiken, they would have the trio of Aiken, Smith, and 2015 first-round pick Breshad Perriman, but the latter two have questions about their health and only Perriman brings impact speed. The roster would benefit greatly from another speed option with upside.

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Steve Smith responds to latest doubters about his return

Posted on 04 January 2016 by Luke Jones

OWINGS MILLS, Md. — Asked last spring when the questions began about his age, Ravens wide receiver Steve Smith offered the perfect quip as he prepared for his 15th season in the NFL.

At 5-foot-9 and already the oldest receiver in the league, Smith has heard the doubts throughout his career, so why would he expect anything different after suffering a torn Achilles tendon in what was originally supposed to be his final season? Even before he officially announced last week that he would return in 2016, many have questioned how effective he will be coming off a serious injury and turning 37 in May.

“To be honest, you guys don’t know what the hell you’re talking about, so it doesn’t matter,” said Smith, drawing laughter from reporters on Monday. “The numbers I put up will be the numbers I put up, and I’ll happen to put up those numbers at the age of 37.

“Can I run like I used to at 22? No, but I’m comfortable being 37 years old, being on this team, and they’re comfortable with me, so we’re going to operate that way.”

Producing some of the best numbers in the league with 46 catches for 670 yards in just seven games despite the Ravens’ disappointing 2-6 start, Smith acknowledged he had already begun reconsidering his retirement plans as early as Week 2 when his wife, Angie, brought up the possibility the night before the Oakland game. He then made the decision with his family after he “sobered up” from the surgery to repair the Achilles tendon in his right heel.

Now, Smith will take his time coming back from the injury with visions of ending his brilliant career on a higher note than when we last saw him with a towel over his head and being helped off the M&T Bank Stadium field on Nov. 1.

“I won’t be ahead of schedule. If anything — to be safe — I’ll be behind schedule,” Smith said. “With an injury like this, you don’t want to be ahead of schedule. That takes away a lot of stuff. Despite reports that I’m doing hydrotherapy, I’m the driest hydrotherapy recipient ever because I’m not doing hydrotherapy.”

While the Ravens have much work to do this offseason to rebound from a disappointing 5-11 season, they hope Smith can be a key part in the turnaround.

And they hope to give him a final shot at a Super Bowl title.

“I do have a desire to play and also have an organization that wants me to play and is encouraging me to play [and] to continue,” Smith said. “So, that’s what I want to do. I’m under contract for one more year. I’m injured. I still have to rehab no matter what for the betterment of wanting to play with my kids, so I’m going to rehab.

“I think rehabbing and playing is a lot better than rehabbing just to rehab.”

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Flacco not thinking about contract during rehab process

Posted on 04 January 2016 by Luke Jones

OWINGS MILLS, Md. — It will be anything but a normal offseason for Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco as he prepares for his ninth season in Baltimore.

Currently rehabbing his surgically-repaired left knee, Flacco knows his contract will be a hot topic for discussion as he enters the fourth season of a six-year, $120.6 million agreement signed just a few weeks after winning Super Bowl XLVII. General manager Ozzie Newsome and Flacco’s agent, Joe Linta, negotiated the deal in the winter of 2013 with the understanding that it would be revisited after he earned a total of $62 million over the first three years.

“I haven’t thought about it too much,” Flacco said. “I know that it’s obviously out there, and it’s probably going to be somewhat of an issue. I guess I haven’t thought about it too much, haven’t talked to anybody about it. I do know that it’s sitting there.”

Flacco is set to carry a $28.55 million salary cap figure for the 2016 season, which is close to the total cap space he accounted for in 2014 ($14.8 million) and 2015 ($14.55 million) combined. With the Ravens trying to address a plethora of needs in the aftermath of their first losing season since 2007, restructuring the deal to level off his future cap figures is a must.

A renegotiation won’t solve all of the Ravens’ cap woes as the realistic scenario is adjusting his cap numbers closer to the $20.1 million average annual value of the original deal. With Flacco scheduled to make base salaries of $18 million in 2016, $20.6 million in 2017, and $20 million in 2018 — his cap figures are $31.15 million in 2017 and $24.75 million in 2018 — the Ravens will likely attempt to turn a large portion of those scheduled salaries into a bonus while tacking on two or three additional years and more money to the contract.

But Flacco says he will leave the details up to the Ravens and Linta with a realistic deadline of early March to get something worked out before the new league years begins and teams must be under the cap.

“The first few years of my deal, the cap number wasn’t very big, so you don’t really have any other way around it [but] to have a monster one at the end of it,” Flacco said. “You know it’s coming unless the salary cap makes some kind of enormous jump, but it’s really kind of out of my control. It’s just an issue that these guys are used to dealing with day in and day out.”

Head coach John Harbaugh has said that Flacco is expected to be 100 percent for the start of training camp in late July, but he hasn’t been given any definitive timetable as he continues to rehab on a daily basis. Flacco tore the anterior cruciate and medial collateral ligaments in his left knee in the closing moments of Baltimore’s Nov. 22 win over St. Louis.

Turning 31 later this month, Flacco had not missed a game in his career before missing the final six weeks of a 5-11 season.

“By August, I’ll be like eight months out of surgery,” Flacco said. “I don’t know what the timeline is on these things, but I’m in there doing the work. I’m expecting I’ll be ready to go. I really have no idea though.”

Monroe not dwelling on future

Many have speculated about the future of Eugene Monroe, but the left tackle isn’t focusing on whether he’ll be back for the third season of a five-year, $37.5 million contract that included $17.5 million guaranteed.

“That’s not something I’m concerned with at all,” said Monroe, who has started just 17 of the Ravens’ last 34 games counting the postseason. “I’m focused on getting healthy and getting back to ball.”

After missing action due to knee surgery and an ankle injury in 2014, Monroe missed three games with a concussion at the beginning of the season and six more contests with a shoulder injury that eventually required season-ending surgery last month. Starting left guard Kelechi Osemele moved to left tackle for the final four games of the season, and many believe he played well enough for the Ravens to consider re-signing him to play the position permanently and releasing Monroe.

A 2009 first-round pick of the Jacksonville Jaguars, Monroe had missed just four games in his first five NFL seasons and is scheduled to make $6.5 million in base salary and carry an $8.7 million cap figure next year.

“Frustration isn’t going to do me any good,” Monroe said. “No one likes to be hurt and not on the field, but it is what it is, and I’ve had some things happen that just were unfortunate. But I’ll make sure I continue to work my ass off and continue to get better.”

Ravens sign seven players

With the 2015 regular season over, the Ravens signed seven players to reserve-future contracts, which will allow them to be with the organization during the offseason and to compete for roster spots during training camp and the preseason.

The list includes linebacker Brennen Beyer, guard Leon Brown, defensive end Nordly Capi, offensive tackle Blaine Clausell, wide receiver Chuck Jacobs, safety Nick Perry, and tight end Harold Spears, who all spent time on the Baltimore practice squad this season.

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Tough part now begins trying to improve undermanned Ravens

Posted on 03 January 2016 by Luke Jones

The 2015 season is finally over for the Ravens.

Fourteen of their 16 games were decided by a single possession.

Twenty-one players finished the season on injured reserve or on the physically unable to perform list. That list included eight starters as well as 2015 first-round receiver Breshad Perriman.

Head coach John Harbaugh still called it one of his most rewarding seasons with the way his players and coaches continued to fight and show heart every week, but all of this only clouds the truth about one of the most disappointing years in the history of the franchise.

Despite plenty of preseason love, the Ravens lacked the dynamic playmakers to be a serious contender this year.

That reality was apparent before the laundry list of injuries decimated the Ravens to the point that you needed a roster sheet handy just to follow the final weeks of action. Remember that other than outside linebacker Terrell Suggs and Perriman, an unproven rookie who was the only plan for replacing speedy receiver Torrey Smith, the Ravens were still a relatively-healthy football team when they entered Week 8 with a 1-6 record and their season all but shot.

And this is where general manager Ozzie Newsome could face more scrutiny this offseason than at any point during his 20 mostly-brilliant years in Baltimore.

It will be interesting to see where owner Steve Bisciotti directs his disappointment when the Ravens brass meets with the media to discuss the 2015 season and what lies ahead. While coaches and players have faced the music on a weekly basis and must shoulder their part of the blame, it’s difficult to win consistently without dynamic, game-changing players on either side of the football.

The Ravens simply lacked the speed and big-play talent at crucial positions such as wide receiver, edge rusher, and in the secondary to win in the modern NFL.

Ultimately, Newsome is responsible for putting together the roster. Many factors brought the Ravens to this point with some of those out of the general manager’s control but others falling directly on his shoulders.

To be clear, the Ravens don’t need to overhaul their entire roster as they have some good players on both sides of the ball, but they lack the special ones for which the opposition game-plans on a weekly basis in the way Cincinnati’s A.J. Green and Tyler Eifert showed on Sunday. With injured franchise quarterback Joe Flacco expected to be ready for training camp and Harbaugh showing commendable leadership in keeping the locker room together during an 11-loss season, the Ravens are in a much better position than many non-playoff teams, but they will need a strong offseason to return to the playoffs next season.

Baltimore has multiple needs including finding a ball-hawking defensive back, bolstering the pass rush, adding more speed to the wide receiver position, and potentially making their latest change at left tackle.

Choosing sixth overall in the 2016 draft should certainly help, but Newsome and the rest of the front office need to take a long look at the way they’ve done things in recent years as there were many falling dominoes that led to such a disappointing season. Recent draft history, bad contracts, and too much reliance on unproven players were all factors contributing to a 5-11 season before it ever began.

There’s been too little emphasis on speed at multiple positions, and Newsome hasn’t put enough talent around a quarterback who’s in his prime and has already proven he can win a championship with a good — not necessarily great — supporting cast around him.

Harbaugh has answered questions all year, but Newsome hasn’t addressed the media since the final day of the draft, which will make his first public comments about the 2015 season highly anticipated. Changes to the coaching staff could be coming, but improving personnel will be far more important to the Ravens’ fate in 2016 and beyond.

Injuries, questionable officiating, and tough breaks in close games may have contributed to a 5-11 record, but this was a flawed team from the start and not the Super Bowl contender that the Ravens — or outsiders — thought it was. You just hope the decision-makers acknowledge as much instead of using injuries as the primary excuse or trying to shift too much blame to Harbaugh, his coaches, and current players.

It may not have been easy watching the Ravens play out the string, but now the tough part begins.

Fixing a football team with a plethora of needs.

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Ravens will have sixth pick in 2016 NFL draft

Posted on 03 January 2016 by Luke Jones

Tying the second-worst record in their 20-year history, the Ravens are now slated to pick higher in the draft than they have in 16 years.

Following a 24-16 loss to Cincinnati to conclude the regular season, Baltimore (5-11) is set to pick sixth in the 2016 NFL Draft beginning April 28 in Chicago. It would be the Ravens’ highest draft choice since taking running back Jamal Lewis with the fifth overall pick in 2000, a pick originally owned by the Atlanta Falcons.

General manager Ozzie Newsome has an impeccable history of drafting players in the top 10, choosing Hall of Fame left tackle Jonathan Ogden as well as several Pro Bowl selections in Lewis, linebackers Peter Boulware and Terrell Suggs, and cornerback Chris McAlister. The only unsuccessful top 10 pick in franchise history was wide receiver Travis Taylor, who was taken five spots after Lewis in 2000.

The Ravens entered Sunday in the eighth spot before wins by Miami and San Francisco bumped them to the sixth position. Newsome hasn’t been scheduled to pick in the top 10 since 2008 when he held the eighth pick before trading back and eventually taking quarterback Joe Flacco with the 18th choice.

Tennessee will have the first overall pick followed by Cleveland, San Diego, Dallas, and Jacksonville.

Draft selections in the top 10 in franchise history (overall pick in parentheses)
1996 — OT Jonathan Ogden (fourth)
1997 — LB Peter Boulware (fourth)
1998 — CB Duane Starks (10th)
1999 — CB Chris McAlister (10th)
2000 — RB Jamal Lewis (fifth)
2000 — WR Travis Taylor (10th)
2003 — LB Terrell Suggs (10th)

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Ravens-Bengals: Inactives and pre-game notes

Posted on 03 January 2016 by Luke Jones

This is the end.

Though the 5-10 Ravens say they’ve viewed these last couple weeks as a springboard into the 2016 season, many fans have to be relieved to finally put one of the most disappointing years in franchise history behind them on Sunday. The calendar turning to January doesn’t erase the memory of a campaign that began with such great expectations.

As expected, Ryan Mallett will make his second straight start at quarterback, but the Ravens hope this will be the last one he needs to make after head coach John Harbaugh reiterated this week that Joe Flacco is expected to be ready for the start of training camp. Under contract through 2016, the 27-year-old Mallett can certainly put an exclamation point on his claim to be Flacco’s backup next season with a second strong performance against an AFC North rival.

Though the Ravens are playing for nothing but pride in Week 17, Cincinnati still has visions of a first-round bye in mind if they can secure a win and get some help. A Bengals win coupled with a San Diego win at Denver would give them the No. 2 seed that they covet. They could also get the second seed without beating Baltimore if the Broncos lose and Kansas City defeats Oakland at home.

The only Ravens player listed as questionable on the final injury report, reserve linebacker and special-teams standout Albert McClellan (ankle) was deactivated for the third straight game.

Rookie fourth-round cornerback Tray Walker was also inactive for the eighth time in 16 games, making it clear that this will be a big offseason for his development and standing in the organization.

Wide receiver Kamar Aiken entered Week 17 just 132 receiving yards shy of a 1,000-yard season.

The Bengals had no surprises among their inactives as starting quarterback Andy Dalton (thumb) was already ruled out at the beginning of the week. AJ McCarron will be making his third consecutive start for the AFC North champions.

These teams are meeting for the 40th time with the Ravens holding a slight 20-19 advantage and a 7-12 mark in Cincinnati. The Bengals have won four straight and five of the last six in the series and can completed a season sweep for the second consecutive year.

The Sunday forecast called for cloudy skies with temperatures reaching 37 degrees, no chance of precipitation, and winds up to 10 miles per hour, according to Weather.com.

The referee for Sunday’s game will be Carl Cheffers.

The Ravens are wearing white jerseys with black pants while Cincinnati dons its all-black look for the regular-season finale.

Here are Sunday’s inactives:

BALTIMORE
QB Jimmy Clausen
CB Tray Walker
CB Sheldon Price
CB Jumal Rolle
CB Jermaine Whitehead
LB Albert McClellan
DE Kapron Lewis-Moore

CINCINNATI
QB Andy Dalton
WR Mario Alford
G Eric Winston
TE Ryan Hewitt
DT Marcus Hardison
DT Pat Sims
DE Will Clarke

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Aiken holds chance to reach rare company on Sunday

Posted on 02 January 2016 by Luke Jones

A forgettable 2015 season for the Ravens has been anything but that for wide receiver Kamar Aiken.

In a starting offense that’s lost six Week 1 starters and first-round receiver Breshad Perriman to season-ending injuries, Aiken has quietly produced one of the better receiving seasons in franchise history. And with 132 receiving yards in Sunday’s season finale against Cincinnati, the 26-year-old Aiken would produce the 12th 1,000-yard receiving season in the 20-year history of the franchise.

Only six Ravens players — Derrick Mason (four times), Qadry Ismail (twice), Derrick Alexander (twice), Steve Smith, Torrey Smith, and Michael Jackson — have earned the achievement in an underwhelming history for the Ravens at the receiver position. Even if Aiken became the last man standing to which quarterbacks could confidently throw — four different signal-callers have started over the last six games — he’s firmly established himself as a legitimate possession receiver with 51 receptions for 597 yards and three touchdowns over his last eight games.

After being held without a catch — the only time all season — against the Bengals in Week 3, the 6-foot-2 receiver would like nothing more than to have the career-best performance needed to eclipse the 1,000-yard mark.

“It’d be big just to get it because you never know when you’re going to get another chance to get that close,” Aiken said. “Tomorrow’s not promised; that next down isn’t promised, so it’d be big from that standpoint. I’m going to do everything I can to possibly get it if I can, and that’s all I can do about it.”

In a season lacking continuity on the offensive side of the ball due to injuries, Aiken can set a franchise record if he can make five catches on Sunday, which would give him nine consecutive games reaching that plateau. He’s currently tied with Mason, who caught at least five passes in eight straight contests in 2007.

With the Ravens lacking another established receiver down the stretch, Aiken has likely seen more targets than he would have in a more prolific offense, but he’s caught 61.4 percent of his 114 targets, which isn’t far behind Steve Smith’s 63 percent before his Achilles injury on Nov. 1. Unlike his veteran teammate, however, Aiken has had to adapt to playing with Matt Schaub, Jimmy Clausen, and Ryan Mallett after starting quarterback Joe Flacco was lost for the season in late November.

Head coach John Harbaugh has also praised his toughness and durability as many liken Aiken’s qualities and skill set to those of Anquan Boldin, who never had more than 921 receiving yards in any of his three seasons with Baltimore.

“He has been hit in the head more times probably than any receiver in the league, and it hasn’t been called,” Harbaugh said. ” He doesn’t get protected. He bounces back up and he’s back out there, and he shows up the next week. It’s just impressive what he has done this year, and I’m proud of him.”

In the most frustrating season in franchise history, Harbaugh and the Ravens can certainly appreciate the example and production that Aiken has offered.

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