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Ravens place Taliaferro on IR, sign former Patriots defensive tackle Walker

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Ravens place Taliaferro on IR, sign former Patriots defensive tackle Walker

Posted on 16 December 2014 by Luke Jones

The Ravens officially sent three players to injured reserve on Tuesday with rookie running back Lorenzo Taliaferro joining injured defensive backs Asa Jackson and Terrence Brooks.

Head coach John Harbaugh had already confirmed Jackson and Brooks would miss the rest of the season, but the news of Taliaferro’s status is disappointing after he rushed for 292 yards and four touchdowns on 68 carries, often serving as the primary backup behind starter Justin Forsett. Taliaferro suffered a foot injury in the Week 14 win over Miami and missed this past Sunday’s game against Jacksonville after the Ravens promoted rookie running back Fitz Toussaint from the practice squad.

Taliaferro had originally been described as “day-to-day” by Harbaugh on Dec. 8.

To fill two of the three spots vacated on the 53-man roster, Baltimore promoted offensive lineman and 2013 sixth-round pick Ryan Jensen from the practice squad and signed defensive tackle Casey Walker away from New England’s practice squad. Walker appeared in five games for the Patriots earlier this season, collecting 11 tackles and a sack.

The 6-foot-1, 335-pound undrafted free agent out of Oklahoma started his career with the Carolina Panthers in 2013 before he was signed by the Patriots in late September of this season. He had been on New England’s active roster until late last month when he was waived to make room for running back LeGarrette Blount and then re-signed to the practice squad.

Jensen spent his entire rookie season on the 53-man roster without appearing in a game, but the Colorado State-Pueblo product did not make the team at the end of the 2014 preseason, agreeing to join the practice squad after being waived.

As of Tuesday afternoon, one spot had yet to be filled with many expecting the Ravens to add a defensive back in the wake of the season-ending injuries to Jackson and Brooks.

With Jensen and Toussaint promoted in recent days, the Ravens signed defensive end Zach Thompson and cornerback Quinton Pointer to the practice squad. Thompson is a Wake Forest product and previously spent time with the New York Jets and the Denver Broncos.

Pointer is in his third NFL season and appeared in eight games with the St. Louis Rams in 2012 and 2013. He was most recently with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

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Ravens sign former picks Simon, Wenning, Jensen to practice squad

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Ravens sign former picks Simon, Wenning, Jensen to practice squad

Posted on 31 August 2014 by Luke Jones

A day after trimming their roster to the league-mandated 53 players for the regular season, the Ravens began formulating their 10-man practice squad by signing three former draft picks and six others on Sunday.

The list was headlined by 2013 fourth-round linebacker John Simon, who was one of the more notable final cuts of the summer. Simon saw action in only seven games as a rookie, making four tackles while primarily serving on special teams. Despite a strong performance in the preseason finale in New Orleans, Simon was left off the 53-man roster just a year after the Ravens were so excited to select the 2012 Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year out of Ohio Stat.

The Ravens signed two other former draft picks as 2013 sixth-round offensive lineman Ryan Jensen and 2014 sixth-round quarterback Keith Wenning cleared waivers and agreed to join the practice squad. Baltimore elected to enter the regular season with just two quarterbacks on the roster for the fifth straight year and had hoped that Wenning would go unclaimed after final cuts.

Cornerbacks Tramain Jacobs and Deji Olatoye, defensive tackles Jamie Meder and A.J. Pataiali’i, tight end Phillip Supernaw, and running back Fitz Toussaint were the other six players to agree to join the practice squad as the Ravens had one spot to fill as of Sunday afternoon.

All nine players currently on the practice squad spent the preseason with Baltimore. Olatoye was cut when the Ravens needed to trim their roster from 90 to 75 while the other eight were officially waived on Saturday.

The NFL expanded practice squads from eight to 10 members for the 2014 season.

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Ravens cut veteran Shipley, 2013 fourth-rounder Simon to get to 53-man limit

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Ravens cut veteran Shipley, 2013 fourth-rounder Simon to get to 53-man limit

Posted on 30 August 2014 by Luke Jones

OWINGS MILLS, Md. — Needing to trim their roster to the league-mandated 53 members by 4 p.m. Saturday, the Ravens parted ways with a number of players headlined by veteran offensive lineman A.Q. Shipley and 2013 fourth-round linebacker John Simon.

The Ravens also cut cornerbacks Dominique Franks, Derek Cox, Tramain Jacobs, and Sammy Seamster, offensive linemen Ryan Jensen and Parker Graham, defensive tackles Jamie Meder and A.J. Pataiali’i, tight end Phillip Supernaw, running back Fitz Toussaint, and sixth-round rookie quarterback Keith Wenning on Saturday.

“It’s challenging,” said head coach John Harbaugh about the final cut-down day. “When a guy walks in your room, as a head coach, or if you’re any kind of a person at all, immediately you put yourself in their shoes. You become empathetic to what they’re going through, and that’s just how you feel about it.

Defensive tackle Terrence Cody was placed on the reserve physically unable to perform list while he continues to recover from offseason hip surgery. He will be required to miss the first six weeks of the regular season before he’s eligible to return.

In addition to those transactions, the Ravens placed rookie wide receiver Jeremy Butler on injured reserve with a shoulder injury and moved running back Ray Rice and safety Will Hill to the reserve-suspended list.

The decision to part ways with both Franks and Cox means the Ravens only have four cornerbacks on their current roster, making it very likely that they’ll add another defensive back with Lardarius Webb, Jimmy Smith, and Asa Jackson all just returning to practice on Saturday after injuries. Six safeties made the regular-season roster with Anthony Levine and rookie Terrence Brooks also having the ability to play cornerback to help depth at that position.

After much discussion over which receivers would make the 53-man roster, the Ravens elected to keep the trio of rookie Michael Campanaro, veteran Deonte Thompson, and 2013 practice squad member Kamar Aiken to give them seven total wideouts on the 53-man squad. Many were of the opinion that the Ravens would find room for only two of the three.

A pair of rookie free agents made the 53-man roster in offensive tackle James Hurst and linebacker Zachary Orr. The Ravens were excited about Hurst’s upside when they signed him following the draft while Orr impressed coaches with his special-teams ability during the preseason.

Shipley was let go by Baltimore despite starting nine games last season after left guard Kelechi Osemele underwent season-ending back surgery. Listed at 6-foot-1 and 307 pounds, the Penn State product is undersized for his position but was projected by most to make the 53-man roster as a reserve interior lineman.

The selection of fifth-round guard John Urschel in May’s draft ultimately helped push Shipley out the door as the Penn State product has the ability to play all three interior line positions.

“Less competed against and more just grew with. He’s a Penn State guy; I’m a Penn State guy,” Urschel said after Saturday’s practice. “We became very good friends while we were here, and he’s a guy who really took me under his wing and taught me a lot of things. A guy who didn’t have to help me considering that I’m a young guy, [and] he’s a veteran. Helped me every single day and really just helped teach me how to be a pro in this league.”

Last year, the Ravens were elated to draft Simon, who was the 2012 Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year for Ohio State, but the 6-foot-1, 252-pound linebacker was slow to develop and failed to show the all-around skill set required of an outside linebacker. With Terrell Suggs, Elvis Dumervil, Courtney Upshaw, and Pernell McPhee all ahead of him on the depth chart, Simon was clearly on the bubble after an underwhelming summer.

Simon’s departure marks the second straight year in which the Ravens have parted ways with a fourth-round pick from the previous year. Baltimore cut disappointing 2012 fourth-round safety Christian Thompson after he finished serving a four-game suspension to begin the 2013 season.

The exit of Shipley initially appeared to be good news for the second-year offensive lineman Jensen, but he was also waived. A sixth-round pick in the 2013 draft, Jensen did not appear in a game last season, but the Ravens thought highly enough of him to carry him on the 53-man roster despite a broken foot costing him a sizable portion of training camp and the regular season.

The Ravens remain hopeful that Wenning will clear waivers, which would allow him to join the practice squad. They appear on track to carry only two quarterbacks on their active roster for the fifth consecutive season as starter Joe Flacco and backup Tyrod Taylor are the only signal-callers currently in the organization.

Of Saturday’s cuts, Jacobs, Seamster, Wenning, and Toussaint are among the potential fits for the 10-man practice squad if they do not draw interest from other NFL teams.

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Ravens-Saints preseason primer: Five bubble players to watch

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Ravens-Saints preseason primer: Five bubble players to watch

Posted on 27 August 2014 by Luke Jones

While many have turned their attention toward the season opener against the Cincinnati Bengals on Sept. 7, the Ravens complete their preseason schedule by taking on the New Orleans Saints in their first visit to the Mercedes-Benz Superdome since Super Bowl XLVII Thursday night.

Of course, the stakes pale in comparison to the last time the Ravens traveled to Louisiana, but the livelihood of a select group of players still vying for roster spots is on the line as key position battles remain at wide receiver and potentially on the offensive and defensive lines. After trimming their roster to 75 players earlier this week, the Ravens must produce their first 53-man roster by 4 p.m. Saturday while also scanning the open market to see what players might shake free from other teams.

Thursday represents the final time some players will ever play football while others will find themselves seeking opportunities with 31 other NFL teams by the weekend. In all reality, most decisions will have been made prior to Thursday’s game with only a couple spots potentially up for grabs when the Ravens take the field against the Saints.

“It’s hard every year. It seems like we get to this point every year and we feel this way about our team,” said head coach John Harbaugh of the final roster decisions. “It just seems like it’s a challenge every year. That’s a good problem to have. Getting to the season, I hope it’s proven true. I hope we don’t think we have good depth and all of the sudden we get into the season [and] find out we don’t. That’s the nature of what we do.”

Thursday’s game won’t offer much from an entertainment standpoint as Harbaugh confirmed earlier this week that most starters will not play against the Saints, a team the Ravens will face in the regular season on Nov. 24. With the number of injuries currently plaguing the secondary alone, Harbaugh and general manager Ozzie Newsome will likely use the preseason finale as an evaluation tool of their secondary depth — the Ravens signed veteran cornerback Derek Cox on Wednesday — more than anything else.

Even without his starters playing in the final game of the summer, Harbaugh says expectations remain high for backup quarterback Tyrod Taylor and the rest of the Baltimore reserves who will either be filling out the 53-man roster or looking for work by Saturday.

“I want to win the game. We don’t go down there to not win the game,” Harbaugh said. “We are going to do everything we can to win the game. If we walk off the field without the win, I’m not going to be happy about it. I want to walk over and shake the other coach’s hand as the winner — not the loser.”

Thursday will be the second preseason meeting between the Ravens and the Saints, but Baltimore owns the 4-1 edge in the regular season and a 1-0 advantage in the preseason. The Ravens are 45-29 all-time in the preseason and have a 18-9 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 Thursday night’s game in New Orleans.

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, does not take into account the many veterans — injured or not — who will be held out of the preseason opener due to the coaching staff’s preference.

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

OUT: CB Lardarius Webb (back), CB Asa Jackson (ankle), CB Jimmy Smith (chest), DT Terrence Cody (hip)
DOUBTFUL: OL Jah Reid (head)
QUESTIONABLE: TE Owen Daniels (legs), S Matt Elam (leg), RB Bernard Pierce (head)
PROBABLE: WR Kamar Aiken (head)

Five bubble players to watch Thursday night

1. QB Keith Wenning

This one will be fairly clear-cut as you’d expect the Ravens to limit Wenning’s playing time if they desire to pass him through waivers and place him on the practice squad. If Wenning receives extensive playing time, it could be a sign that they’re prepared to keep him on the 53-man roster as the third quarterback behind Joe Flacco and Taylor. The Ravens haven’t carried three quarterbacks on the active roster since 2009, so the consensus expectation is they’ll run the risk of losing their 2014 sixth-round pick and use that roster spot for another position of need while hoping Wenning makes it to the practice squad.

2. WR Deonte Thompson

The speedy third-year wideout has been one of the stars of the summer with a 108-yard kickoff return for a touchdown against Dallas and a 21-yard touchdown reception against Washington, but Thompson has also failed to take advantage of past opportunities in Baltimore. Even in Saturday’s game in which he caught the touchdown from Taylor, Thompson played only nine offensive snaps compared to 19 taken by Kamar Aiken and 13 by seventh-round rookie Michael Campanaro. The wild card that could keep Thompson on the roster is his blinding speed, which is a nice asset to back up Jacoby Jones in the return game.

3. LB John Simon

I’d still expect the 2013 fourth-round pick to make the roster, but the Ohio State product hasn’t stood out this preseason with only three total tackles. Considering there are four outside linebackers — Terrell Suggs, Elvis Dumervil, Courtney Upshaw, and Pernell McPhee — ahead of him on the depth chart, Simon’s only chance to see the field will be as a special-teams player in his second season. Given the current vulnerabilities at cornerback and on the defensive and offensive lines, Simon could be a surprise cut as nothing about his play on the field during practices or limited game opportunities suggests he’s really deserving of being a lock.

4. OT James Hurst

Despite receiving more attention that the typical rookie free agent after a broken leg factored into him going undrafted out of North Carolina, Hurst has struggled this summer and probably wouldn’t be receiving much consideration for a roster spot if not for the recent concussion suffered by fourth-year tackle Jah Reid. If Reid’s symptoms linger longer than expected, Hurst might find himself on the active roster when final cuts are made, but it’s doubtful that the Ravens would feel comfortable if needing to use him on game day. The likely scenario for Hurst would be the practice squad where he can continue to develop.

5. OL Ryan Jensen

The Ravens thought enough of the 2013 sixth-round pick as a rookie — and their struggling offensive line probably played a part as well — that they carried him on the 53-man roster despite a broken foot that sidelined him for an extensive part of the regular season. A year later, Jensen is firmly behind veteran A.Q. Shipley and fifth-round rookie John Urschel in the pecking order at guard as he saw only eight offensive snaps against Washington. Because he’s a recent draft pick, Jensen would figure to have a good chance to be signed to the practice squad, but his performance and playing time suggest his roster spot is in major jeopardy.


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Live From Owings Mills: CB Jackson remains out of practice Wednesday

Posted on 13 August 2014 by Glenn Clark

OWINGS MILLS — The Baltimore Ravens returned to the practice fields at their 1 Winning Drive facility Wednesday, the penultimate open session of their 2014 Training Camp.

Two injured Ravens returned to the practice field following Tuesday’s day off. OL Ryan Jensen (leg) and S Brynden Trawick (back) were both back on the practice field-both had been out since Saturday. Additionally, TE Dennis Pitta (ankle) was on the practice field again after missing Sunday’s session and being limited in Monday’s activities.

CB Asa Jackson missed a third straight day of practice Wednesday dealing with an ankle injury, continuing to deplete a unit that is already missing Lardarius Webb (back). Webb is not expected to return until at least the end of the preseason. OL Will Rackley was not participating in Wednesday’s practice-he continues to work his way back from a concussion suffered at the start of Training Camp. DL Terrence Cody remains on the active Physically Unable to Perform (PUP) list as he recovers from offseason hip surgery.

TE Owen Daniels was not present for the session Wednesday either, offensive coordinator Gary Kubiak confirmed after the session there was no injury issue-the veteran had just received a day off.

Defensive Linemen Kapron Lewis-Moore (Achilles) and Brent Urban (knee) remain on the roster but are both expected to miss the entire 2014 season.

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Osemele biggest key to Ravens fixing offensive line

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Osemele biggest key to Ravens fixing offensive line

Posted on 04 June 2014 by Luke Jones

OWINGS MILLS, Md. — It was a year ago when the only question about Ravens offensive lineman Kelechi Osemele was whether he would become a Pro Bowl left guard in his second season in the NFL.

The expectations were high for the 2012 second-round pick after his successful shift to left guard was part of a offensive line shuffle that helped catapult the Ravens in a run to their Super Bowl XLVII championship. Osemele had played admirably at right tackle during his rookie season, but his postseason work inside made most think he was ready to take off in his second year.

Instead, a debilitating back injury led to poor play and, eventually, season-ending surgery while the offensive line crumbled with too many question marks all over. Now recovered and participating fully during voluntary organized team activities this spring, Osemele sees no reason why the lofty goal of making the Pro Bowl should be any different as he returns from surgery to repair a herniated disk.

“That’s always going to be the expectation for me as a player,” Osemele said. “Knowing the ability that I have and my work ethic, I feel like I would be an underachiever if that wasn’t my goal.”

With uncertainty lingering at right tackle after the Ravens re-signed left tackle Eugene Monroe and acquired veteran center Jeremy Zuttah this offseason to reshape their offensive line, Osemele is the linchpin of the group as he is currently slated to be the starting left guard. However, his versatility leaves the door open for the third-year lineman to shift back to right tackle should 2013 draft picks Rick Wagner and Ryan Jensen fail to play well enough to win the job and general manager Ozzie Newsome chooses not to sign a veteran.

Putting aside the right tackle battle, the Ravens are still putting plenty of faith in Osemele regaining the form of his rookie year, even after the positive reviews and the way he’s looked during spring workouts in which players practice in helmets, jerseys, and shorts. They know the true test won’t come until training camp when players are in full pads and experiencing full contact. The organization will then see how well Osemele holds up against the likes of hefty defensive linemen Haloti Ngata, Timmy Jernigan, and Brandon Williams in practices.

“As far as explosiveness, it’s hard to gauge that for any player, because we’re not hitting out here,” coach John Harbaugh said. “I don’t think you can really evaluate the power that a guy has, but I don’t doubt that it’s in there with him if you just watch the way he moves. He looks good. He’s going to be a lot better than he was last year.”

The Ravens and Osemele hope his best play has yet to come as he initially sustained the back injury during his collegiate days at Iowa State. The combination of him and Monroe on the left side of the offensive line is formidable on paper as Monroe’s athleticism at the left tackle spot is complemented well by Osemele’s combination of power and agility from the interior.

But the recovering lineman acknowledged the changes he’s been forced to make in his training regimen after last fall’s surgery. He is no longer permitted to perform any lifting over his head or squats as he focuses more closely on core training and flexibility than he did in the past.

The preexisting back condition that he had managed for years worsened last offseason when he trained too hard with thoughts of the Pro Bowl on his mind. And it showed in his diminished performance that was limited to just seven games before he was placed on season-ending injured reserve and underwent surgery in November.

“I didn’t train very smart,” Osemele said. “It was definitely on me [and] the way that I had been training, obviously, without knowledge of how bad that it was and then throughout the season getting those multiple MRIs, and seeing the condition worsen and already being at a point where you have to [play] because you’ve been taking all the reps. I ate up all the reps and then couldn’t play to my ability.”

An offensive line that was already struggling took further lumps with Osemele sidelined as the undersized A.Q. Shipley filled in at left guard next to new starting center Gino Gradkowski, giving the Ravens major problems inside as their running game and pass protection could never get on track during a disappointing 8-8 season.

The question of what player will line up at right tackle isn’t one that figures to be resolved anytime soon, but Osemele’s return to the mix will ease the concerns of the entire organization. The Ravens saw more than enough during his rookie season to feel confident that Osemele can be an anchor of the offensive line as long as the back is no longer an issue.

He said Wednesday that he hasn’t felt this healthy and strong since his first year or two of college.

“He’s back to his usual self, running around,” Monroe said. “[He is] one of the best-conditioned guys on the field, just grinding and trying to get better. We are even having to slow him down a little bit because it has been a while since he played, and we have certain rules we have to follow right now. We’re just working together every day. I’m glad he’s right next to me, I really am.”

On Wednesday, Harbaugh reiterated the preference of Osemele staying at left guard next to Monroe while the Ravens solve the puzzle at the right tackle spot. Even if they don’t find a great answer at that position, there are plenty of ways for offensive coordinator Gary Kubiak to scheme help in protection to account for vulnerability on the right side.

One weak link on the offensive line can be overcome, but the Ravens cannot afford to be vulnerable at multiple spots like they were last season, making it critical that Osemele is once again the player that dominated defensive linemen in the 2012 postseason while helping the organization win its second Super Bowl title. He’s the most important variable in determining whether the unit makes substantial improvement or once again struggles this season.

Whether it’s ultimately at left guard or right tackle, Osemele needs to be a force.

“We can’t lock ourselves into saying one thing or another, because we just don’t know how it’s going to play out,” Harbaugh said. “[Osemele] gives us flexibility because he can move out to tackle, but I sure like the way he and Eugene look over on that left side. That’s the direction we’re heading right now and hopefully we can maintain that course.”

Wednesday OTA attendance

There were more veterans absent for Wednesday’s workout than at last week’s workout that was open to reporters as Ngata, linebackers Terrell Suggs, Elvis Dumervil, and Daryl Smith, defensive end Chris Canty, and guard Marshal Yanda were not on the field.

Ngata, Suggs, and Canty were the only veterans not present last Thursday.

Defensive tackle Terrence Cody (hip surgery) and offensive lineman Jah Reid (calf strain) remained sidelined as they continue to rehab injuries. Rookie wide receiver Michael Campanaro (hamstring) returned to the practice field after he’d been sidelined since his first week with the organization.

Running back Bernard Pierce (shoulder surgery) and rookie defensive end Brent Urban (ankle surgery) were once again practicing after undergoing procedures earlier in the offseason.

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Harbaugh “very concerned” with Ravens’ off-field problems

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Harbaugh “very concerned” with Ravens’ off-field problems

Posted on 29 May 2014 by Luke Jones

OWINGS MILLS, Md. — With the Ravens experiencing their most embarrassing offseason in recent memory, you could hardly blame head coach John Harbaugh for being happy to get his team back on the practice field.

Convening for the first week of organized team activities, the Ravens not only look to bounce back from their first non-playoff season of the Harbaugh era but now face questions about leadership and a perceived lack of control at the top with four players being arrested over the last four months. Running back Ray Rice’s domestic violence case understandably garnered the most attention, but Harbaugh seemed to be speaking to a number of individuals when asked about dealing with such a tumultuous offseason following Thursday’s practice.

In addition to Rice, wide receiver Deonte Thompson, offensive lineman Jah Reid, and rookie running back Lorenzo Taliaferro were all arrested this offseason to bring further humiliation to an organization regarded as one of the finest in the NFL.

“I’m very concerned, always concerned,” Harbaugh said. “We talk to those guys all the time, and I’m disappointed in some of the silliness that’s going on. Guys are young, but … it’s not like you’re your 22- and 23-year-old buddies. You’re not in the same position that they’re in. You have to grow up faster than your pals, so you can’t go home and run around with your pals and think you’re in the same place that they’re in.”

A trimmer Rice was present and participating in Thursday’s practice less than a week after his public statements that were met with much negative reaction. The 27-year-old still awaits a potential fine and suspension from commissioner Roger Goodell after he was accepted into a pretrial intervention program last week to avoid prosecution on a third-degree aggravated assault charge in the state of New Jersey.

Harbaugh wasn’t present for Rice’s media session last Friday but acknowledged he’d read the statement and said he appreciated what the running back had to say.

“When he used the term, ‘failed miserably,’ that hit home with me,” Harbaugh said. “But like all those guys, it’s what you do going forward. That’s what everybody is going to take a look at it.”

Harbaugh acknowledged an increased effort to talk about off-field problems with players this spring and left the door open to making changes in the structure of training camp in terms of curfews and the structure for veterans if necessary.

Following the news of Taliaferro’s arrest in Williamsburg, Va. earlier this week, Harbaugh took some liberty in sending a message to the 2014 fourth-round pick out of Coastal Carolina. Taliaferro was arrested for public drunkenness and destruction of property, two misdemeanor charges, after punching out the window of a taxicab.

“We’ve had some conversations since what happened, but we also ran 18 full gassers out there together on Tuesday when we got back, and it was pretty hot,” Harbaugh said. “Was that punishment? No, I was going to do the workout anyway, but I needed some company. He needed to keep up with me.”

The Ravens can only hope the off-field headaches have come to an end with the structure of the third phase of the offseason training program upon players, but the front office and coaching staff will again hold their breath at the conclusion of their mandatory minicamp on June 19, which will leave roughly five weeks of free time for players before the start of training camp in late July. This is generally the time of year in which NFL teams are most concerned with players running afoul of the law.

Asked about alcohol being a common theme in players’ off-field issues, Harbaugh took the notion of drinking responsibly in public a step further by questioning whether highly-trained professional athletes are really helping themselves or their team by going out and consuming alcohol in the first place.

“Discipline is not like a light switch,” Harbaugh said. “You can’t just walk out of this building and all of the sudden turn it off and then go back here and turn it on. Football discipline is a way of life. Football discipline, life discipline — it’s all the same thing.”

Offensive line update

Much focus will be on the revamped offensive line throughout the summer as the Ravens try to improve the league’s 29th-ranked unit from a year ago.

Acquired from the Tampa Bay Buccaneers for a 2015 fifth-round pick, center Jeremy Zuttah worked with the starting offense Thursday and has made a favorable impression with the coaching staff as the Ravens try to implement offensive coordinator Gary Kubiak’s zone-stretch blocking scheme. Zuttah is expected to replace incumbent Gino Gradkowski at the center position as Baltimore struggled up the middle last season.

“He’s smart — really smart, really mature [and] goes about his business in a mature way,” said Harbaugh about Zuttah. “I’m just very impressed with how smart he is. He’s very quick. He’s about 305, 306 pounds. He looks good physically in there. But he can move, so we’ll see. It’s going to be interesting to watch him play to see if he can prove himself.”

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Ngata missing from practice for second straight day

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Ngata missing from practice for second straight day

Posted on 10 October 2013 by Luke Jones

(This blog brought to you by Atlantic Remodeling. Visit www.atlanticremodeling.com to learn about their Red Cent Guarantee!)

OWINGS MILLS, Md. — Four-time Pro Bowl defensive tackle Haloti Ngata was missing from practice for the second straight day as the Ravens continued preparations for the Green Back Packers on Thursday.

Practicing inside with steady rain falling at their Owings Mills facility, the Ravens were without their starting nose tackle again as the 29-year-old continues to recover from a hip issue. There have been no indications that the ailment is serious and no injury was reported in the aftermath of Sunday’s game in Miami, so it will be interesting to see whether the standout defensive lineman is able to log some practice time on Friday to quell concerns surrounding his status against the Packers.

Defensive tackle Terrence Cody (knee) and linebacker Albert McClellan (shoulder) were also absent from Thursday’s practice as Cody appears likely to miss his third straight game since being injured in the first quarter of the Ravens’ Week 3 win over the Houston Texans on Sept. 22. McClellan played against Miami despite missing practices all last week and continues to rehab his injured shoulder.

The Ravens saw the return of rookie offensive lineman Ryan Jensen to practice for the first time since he broke his foot during the first week of training camp in late July. The sixth-round pick from Colorado State-Pueblo is regarded as an intriguing prospect at center who could provide good interior line depth, a reason why the Ravens elected to keep him on the 53-man roster all this time.

Wide receivers Jacoby Jones (knee), Marlon Brown (hamstring), and Brandon Stokley (groin) all practiced on Thursday after being limited participants a day earlier. Along with several other teammates, Jones was sporting pink cleats and pink gloves to break them in for Sunday’s game in which the Ravens will celebrate breast cancer awareness in addition to sporting their alternate black jerseys.

Starting left guard Kelechi Osemele (back spasms) was practicing for the second straight day and appears to be a good bet to play against Green Bay as long as he doesn’t suffer a setback.

Though he remains on injured reserve with the designation to return later this season, tight end Dennis Pitta played catch with quarterback Joe Flacco during the opening portion of practice and appeared fairly mobile as he did last week while catching balls from the Jugs machine. Flacco joked with his close friend and teammate at one point, asking if he was ready to come back yet.

According to coach John Harbaugh, Pitta has been running on the treadmill and is making great progress, but his return is still considered “a ways away.”

Here is Thursday’s injury report:

BALTIMORE
DID NOT PARTICIPATE: DT Terrence Cody (knee), LB Albert McClellan (shoulder), DT Haloti Ngata (hip)
LIMITED PARTICIPATION: WR Marlon Brown (thigh), RB Shaun Draughn (ankle), WR Jacoby Jones (knee), G Kelechi Osemele (back), RB Bernard Pierce (thigh), DT Marcus Spears (knee), WR Brandon Stokley (thigh), C Ryan Jensen (foot), CB Chykie Brown (thigh)

GREEN BAY
OUT: LB Brad Jones (hamstring), LB Clay Matthews (thumb), RB James Starks (knee), G/C Greg Van Roten (foot)
DID NOT PARTICIPATE: CB Jarrett Bush (hamstring), LB Andy Mulumba (ankle)
LIMITED: DT Ryan Pickett (hand), CB Casey Hayward (hamstring)

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Osemele practicing; Ngata sidelined on Wednesday

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Osemele practicing; Ngata sidelined on Wednesday

Posted on 09 October 2013 by Luke Jones

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OWINGS MILLS, Md. — Faced with the challenge of the Green Bay Packers coming to Baltimore on Sunday, the Ravens are cautiously optimistic to find themselves healthier this week than they’ve been at any point since the start of the season.

Starting left guard Kelechi Osemele (back spasms) returned to the practice field on a limited basis after he was sidelined for most of this past Sunday’s win over the Miami Dolphins. The second-year lineman said prior to Wednesday’s practice that a soft hotel bed was a factor in the back spasms he developed during pre-game warmups that forced him out of the game after the first offensive series.

Defensive tackles Haloti Ngata (hip) and Terrence Cody (knee), linebacker Albert McClellan (shoulder), and offensive lineman Ryan Jensen (foot) did not participate in Wednesday’s practice. Ngata’s hip injury wasn’t reported after last Sunday’s game, so there’s a fair possibility that Wednesday was more of a day of rest than any serious condition.

Ngata took part in 35 of 58 defensive snaps, which wasn’t an unusual number considering how much Miami was throwing the football.

Wide receiver Brandon Stokley wasn’t spotted during the portion of practice open to the media but was listed as a limited participant on Wednesday’s injury report after the Ravens re-signed him to the 53-man roster on Tuesday. Stokley has been dealing with a groin injury for nearly two weeks and hasn’t played since the Ravens’ Week 3 win over the Texans on Sept. 22.

Wide receiver Jacoby Jones was back on the practice field after being ruled inactive for the fourth straight game last Sunday. The Pro Bowl return specialist eased his way back into practices last week and plans to step up his participation level this week in hopes of playing in a game for the first time since suffering a sprained right MCL in the season opener on Sept. 5.

“I’ve been like a punished child that can’t go outside and do anything,” Jones said of his time rehabilitating the injury. “You sit in your house and keep begging your mama, ‘Please, let me go outside. I want do it again!’ I just want to get out there and play.”

Wide receiver Marlon Brown (hamstring) and defensive tackle Marcus Spears (knee) also returned to practice on Wednesday after being sidelined for Week 5.

New left tackle Eugene Monroe expressed optimism that he’ll be ready to make his Ravens debut at M&T Bank Stadium against the Packers after spending long days and nights absorbing the Baltimore playbook. Monroe was ruled inactive for the Miami game after he was only able to log two days of practice time upon the trade from Jacksonville being officially completed last Thursday.

The fifth-year tackle revealed he even spent some time at the team’s Owings Mills facility during his day off on Tuesday to go over plays with starting center Gino Gradkowski.

“It’s been a grind, but it’s part of the job,” Monroe said. “It’s also been fun integrating into a new system like this. It’s definitely different, especially not playing next week. That’s just part of the deal here and I’m ready to go now.”

Meanwhile, incumbent left tackle Bryant McKinnie was largely an observer during offensive line work during the portion of practice open to the media, a strong indication that Monroe is expected to take his spot in the starting lineup beginning this Sunday.

The Ravens are in much better shape health-wise than Green Bay as starting linebackers Clay Matthews (thumb) and Brad Jones (hamstring) and running back James Starks (knee) have already been ruled out for Sunday’s game.

Here is Wednesday’s injury report:

BALTIMORE
DID NOT PARTICIPATE: DT Terrence Cody (knee), C Ryan Jensen (foot), LB Albert McClellan (shoulder), DT Haloti Ngata (hip)
LIMITED PARTICIPATION: WR Marlon Brown (thigh), RB Shaun Draughn (ankle), WR Jacoby Jones (knee), G Kelechi Osemele (back), RB Bernard Pierce (thigh), DT Marcus Spears (knee), WR Brandon Stokley (thigh)

GREEN BAY
OUT: LB Brad Jones (hamstring), LB Clay Matthews (thumb), RB James Starks (knee), G/C Greg Van Roten (foot)
DID NOT PARTICIPATE: CB Jarrett Bush (hamstring), CB Casey Hayward (hamstring), LB Andy Mulumba (ankle)

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Rice, Canty, three others listed as doubtful against Texans on Sunday

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Rice, Canty, three others listed as doubtful against Texans on Sunday

Posted on 20 September 2013 by Luke Jones

(This blog brought to you by Atlantic Remodeling. Visit www.atlanticremodeling.com to learn about their Red Cent Guarantee!)

OWINGS MILLS, Md. — It’s appearing very likely that the Ravens will be without their Pro Bowl running back against the Houston Texans as Ray Rice was listed as doubtful on the final injury report of the week on Friday.

Recovering from a left hip flexor strain sustained in the Ravens’ 14-6 win over Cleveland in Week 2, Rice missed three straight days of practice and is in danger of missing his first game since his 2008 rookie season when he was sidelined for three contests. Coach John Harbaugh typically likes to see players practice — at least on a limited basis — on Friday to prove they are ready to play in the game but had stated on Monday that Rice wouldn’t need to practice this week in order to play against the Texans.

Defensive end Chris Canty (groin) and rookie linebacker Arthur Brown (pectoral strain) were also listed as doubtful after missing practice for the third straight day of practice. Canty suggested on Thursday that he was optimistic and could still potentially play in the game without practicing all week after suffering a groin injury late in the first half of the Browns game.

“There’s really nothing new to report,” Harbaugh said prior to the release of Friday’s report. “If I had something different with a guy, I’d share it with you, but they are all working hard to get back. They’re all kind of in the same neighborhood as far as getting back, particularly [Canty] and Ray Rice and those guys who were injured last week. It will be a game-time decision for those guys, and we’ll keep our fingers crossed although we’re prepared for it to go either way.”

With Rice likely to miss Sunday’s game, backup running back Bernard Pierce would be making his first career start. When Rice exited last Sunday’s game in the fourth quarter, Pierce picked up a bigger portion of the workload, gaining 57 yards and a touchdown on 19 carries for the afternoon.

The second-year back said the key to being ready to start is preparing mentally in the same way he normally does and treating it like any other game in which he’s played at the NFL level. Signed just last week, former Chiefs running back Shaun Draughn would serve as Pierce’s backup if Rice is sidelined.

“In my mind, I was never a No. 2 back,” Pierce said. “It was just me and Ray rotating all through the game. I’ll have the same mentality. I’m just out here trying to win.”

Canty will likely be replaced in the starting lineup by veteran Marcus Spears, with Arthur Jones sliding to Canty’s 5-technique defensive end spot and Spears occupying the 3-technique defensive tackle position in the Ravens’ 3-4 base defense.

Wide receiver Deonte Thompson (foot) was also listed as doubtful after missing the final two days of practice this week after initially returning to the field on Wednesday. He hasn’t played since the Ravens’ preseason opener on Aug. 8.

Cornerback Chykie Brown (knee) and defensive tackle Brandon Williams (toe) were both present and working during Friday’s practice. They worked as limited participants this week, but Brown is listed as questionable while Williams is doubtful since he hasn’t played since the preseason finale on Aug. 29.

Wide receiver Jacoby Jones (knee) and offensive lineman Ryan Jensen (foot) will not play against the Texans after missing practice all week. Jones was officially ruled out on Wednesday while Jensen was ruled out Friday and still hasn’t practiced since breaking his foot in the first week of training camp.

For Houston, safety Ed Reed (hip) and starting left tackle Duane Brown (toe) are both listed as questionable while wide receiver Andre Johnson is probable after sustaining a concussion last Sunday.

Here is the final injury report of the week:

BALTIMORE
OUT: WR Jacoby Jones (knee), WR Ryan Jensen (foot)
DOUBTFUL: LB Arthur Brown (chest), DE Chris Canty (thigh), RB Ray Rice (hip), DT Brandon Williams (toe), WR Deonte Thompson (foot)
QUESTIONABLE: CB Chykie Brown (knee)

HOUSTON
QUESTIONABLE: LT Duane Brown (toe), TE Garrett Graham (hip/groin), FS Ed Reed (hip)
PROBABLE: LB Brian Cushing (knee), TE Owen Daniels (rest – NIR), RB Arian Foster (calf/chest/thumb), WR Andre Johnson (concussion/back), CB Jonathan Joseph (rest – NIR), LB Joe Mays (quad), CB Brice McCain (knee), C Chris Meyers (back), RT Derek Newton (knee/calf/elbow), WR DeVier Posey (achilles/foot), LB Darryl Sharpton (hip), LG Wade Smith (knee), RB Ben Tate (shoulder)

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