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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

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

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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Rice misses Wednesday’s practice, J. Jones already ruled out for Sunday

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Rice misses Wednesday’s practice, J. Jones already ruled out for Sunday

Posted on 18 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. — The Ravens were missing a number of players from the practice field on Wednesday with running back Ray Rice topping the list of absentees.

The sixth-year back was not present for the portion of practice open to media after he sustained a hip flexor strain in Sunday’s 14-6 win over the Cleveland Browns. Coach John Harbaugh indicated on Monday that Rice would not need to practice at all this week in order to play in Sunday’s game against the Houston Texans, meaning his absence for the first practice of the week shouldn’t be interpreted as a strong indicator of his status for Week 3.

Harbaugh wasn’t in the mood to offer any further update on Rice’s health prior to Wednesday’s practice.

“How he feels? No, I haven’t had a chance to say [much to him],” Harbaugh said. “I said, ‘How are you doing, Ray?’ He said, ‘Good.’ So, there’s your update.”

As expected, wide receiver Jacoby Jones (knee) wasn’t working on Wednesday and has already been ruled out for Sunday’s game as he continues to recover from a sprained MCL.

Defensive end Chris Canty (groin), linebacker Arthur Brown (pectoral strain), and cornerback Chykie Brown (knee) were also missing from the opening part of practice after each underwent a magnetic imaging resonance test for their respective injuries sustained against the Browns. However, Harbaugh passed along the good news that none of their MRIs indicated long-term concern for their ailments.

Where each player stands for Sunday’s game remained up in the air.

“With the rest of it, we’ll just stand on the injury report with that,” Harbaugh said. “There was nothing of a long-term nature [on the MRIs].”

The Ravens did see two players return to the practice field as wide receiver Deonte Thompson (foot) and defensive tackle Brandon Williams were working on a limited basis. Each player worse shorts while others were in full pads, but their attendance was a step in the right direction.

Thompson hadn’t practiced since injuring his foot in the preseason opener on Aug. 9 while Williams injured his toe in the preseason finale on Aug. 29. The rookie defensive tackle expressed optimism to finally be out of a walking boot and to have the ability to move around normally again.

“It’s just one more step to being closer to the field,” Williams said prior to Wednesday’s workout. “It’s frustrating because you want to be out there. It’s good to finally be in a regular pair of shoes. It feels good and increases your positivity.”

Offensive lineman Ryan Jensen (foot) was not practicing on Wednesday and is not expected to play against the Texans.

For Houston, free safety Ed Reed (hip) practiced on a limited basis while starting left tackle Duane Brown (toe) and wide receiver Andre Johnson (concussion) did not participate in Wednesday’s practice. The overall opinion in Houston is that Brown will miss Sunday’s game while recovering from a significant case of turf toe, but Johnson is expected to be cleared in time for Sunday’s game in Baltimore.

Here is Wednesday’s official injury report:

BALTIMORE
OUT: WR Jacoby Jones (knee)
DID NOT PARTICIPATE: LB Arthur Brown (chest), CB Chykie Brown (knee), DE Chris Canty (thigh), C Ryan Jensen (foot), RB Ray Rice (hip)
LIMITED PARTICIPATION: WR Deonte Thompson (foot), DT Brandon Williams (toe)

HOUSTON
DID NOT PARTICIPATE: LT Duane Brown (toe), WR Andre Johnson (concussion)
LIMITED PARTICIPATION: TE Owen Daniels (rest – NIR), CB Jonathan Joseph (rest – NIR), FS Ed Reed (hip), LG Wade Smith (knee)
FULL PARTICIPATION: LB Brian Cushing (knee), RB Arian Foster (calf/chest), TE Garrett Graham (hip/groin), LB Joe Mays (quad), CB Brice McCain (knee), C Chris Meyers (back), RT Derek Newton (knee/calf), WR DeVier Posey (Achilles/foot), LB Darryl Sharpton (hip)

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Oher practices fully, J. Jones already ruled out for Sunday’s game

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Oher practices fully, J. Jones already ruled out for Sunday’s game

Posted on 11 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. — Just a couple hours after proclaiming the ankle injury he suffered in the season opener to be one of the worst of his career, Ravens right tackle Michael Oher returned to the practice field on Wednesday.

The fifth-year lineman was listed as a full participant on Wednesday’s injury report, confirming reports that indicated the sprained ankle he suffered when right guard Marshal Yanda rolled into his leg was not considered serious. Oher has never missed a game in his NFL career and Wednesday’s development was a strong indication of that streak continuing on Sunday against the Cleveland Browns.

“It’s definitely hurting me pretty good, pretty bad, so I’m just getting a lot of treatment and trying to stay on top of it,” Oher said prior to practicing. “Hopefully, I can go Sunday. I work hard to be out there every Sunday for the team, but this is one of the worst sprains I’ve had.”

Newly-signed kick returner and No. 3 running back Shaun Draughn was on the practice field just hours after being signed by the Ravens to sure up the void they have at the kick return spot after the MCL injury sustained by wide receiver Jacoby Jones last week. Backup running back Bernard Pierce will remain in the mix on kickoffs, but the Ravens would prefer not exposing him to the regular wear and tear of the return game if possible.

As expected, defensive tackle Arthur Jones also returned to the practice field on a limited basis after missing nearly three weeks due to a viral infection. Coach John Harbaugh indicated earlier in the week that the Ravens will need to see where Jones is from a conditioning standpoint to determine whether he will return to game action in Week 2.

Wide receivers Jacoby Jones and Deonte Thompson (foot), offensive lineman Ryan Jensen (foot), and defensive tackle Brandon Williams were not practicing on Wednesday. The Pro Bowl return specialist Jones has already been ruled out for Sunday as he’s projected to miss at least a month, and it remains unlikely that the other three will be ready to play against Cleveland this Sunday.

Also absent from the field on Wednesday was rookie wide receiver Aaron Mellette, which was an interesting development after he was inactive for the season opener against Denver. The Ravens later placed Mellette on injured reserve with what was listed as a knee injury, clearing a roster spot for Draughn.

For the Cleveland Browns, rookie linebacker Barkevious Mingo (lung) returned the the practice field and has been cleared for contact, meaning he could make his NFL debut in Baltimore on Sunday.

Here’s the official injury report for Wednesday:

BALTIMORE
OUT: WR Jacoby Jones (knee)
DID NOT PARTICIPATE: C Ryan Jensen (foot), WR Deonte Thompson (foot), DT Brandon Williams (toe)
LIMITED PARTICIPATION: DT Art Jones (illness – NFI), RB Bernard Pierce (thigh)
FULL PARTICIPATION: T Michael Oher (ankle)

CLEVELAND
DID NOT PARTICIPATE: G Shawn Lauvao (ankle), DL Ahtyba Rubin (calf), DB T.J. Ward (shoulder)
LIMITED PARTICIPATION: DB Buster Skrine (shoulder), LB Barkevious Mingo (lung), WR Travis Benjamin (thigh)

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Ravens TE Dickson probable, Broncos CB Bailey out for Thursday

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Ravens TE Dickson probable, Broncos CB Bailey out for Thursday

Posted on 04 September 2013 by Luke Jones

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

With little drama surrounding the four biggest injury concerns for the Ravens on the final injury report of the week, the Denver Broncos provided the biggest headline with the news of Pro Bowl cornerback Champ Bailey missing Thursday night’s opener.

After already ruling out defensive tackle Arthur Jones with an undisclosed illness earlier in the week, the Ravens are extremely unlikely to have the services of wide receiver Deonte Thompson (foot), defensive tackle Brandon Williams (toe), and offensive lineman Ryan Jensen (foot), who were all listed as doubtful. The trio missed practices all week and aren’t expected to play.

Bailey has been dealing with a foot injury and hadn’t practiced all week as reports earlier Wednesday suggested the 35-year-old was becoming increasingly pessimistic about his status in the opener. The 12-time Pro Bowl selection was infamously beaten for two long touchdowns by wide receiver Torrey Smith in the Ravens’ 38-35 double-overtime victory last January.

The Broncos also ruled out backup tight end Joel Dreessen with a knee injury.

The good news for the Ravens was tight end Ed Dickson and rush specialist Pernell McPhee both being listed as probable for Thursday’s game. Dickson was a full participant in practices this week and had become increasingly optimistic over the last couple weeks in coming back from a torn hamstring suffered early in August. McPhee was estimated to be a full participant in Wednesday’s walk-through before the team departed for Denver.

Tight end Dennis Pitta was removed from Wednesday’s injury report since he was placed on injured reserve-designated to return earlier in the day.

BALTIMORE
OUT: DT Art Jones (illness – NFI)
DOUBTFUL: C Ryan Jensen (foot), WR Deonte Thompson (foot), DT Brandon Williams (toe)
PROBABLE: TE Ed Dickson (thigh), DE Pernell McPhee (knee)

DENVER
OUT: RB C.J. Anderson (knee), CB Champ Bailey (foot), TE Joel Dreessen (knee)
DOUBTFUL: G Chris Kuper (ankle)
PROBABLE: DE Robert Ayers (Achilles), T Ryan Clady (shoulder), QB Brock Osweiler (left shoulder), WR Wes Welker (ankle)

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A. Jones undergoing tests for undisclosed illness, McPhee limited Tuesday

Posted on 03 September 2013 by Luke Jones

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OWINGS MILLS, Md. — There were no changes to practice attendance for the Ravens on Tuesday as they continued preparations for their season-opening game against the Denver Broncos.

Already ruled out for Thursday night’s game at Sports Authority Field at Mile High, defensive tackle Arthur Jones (undisclosed illness) was once again missing from the field and hasn’t practiced since playing in the Ravens’ third preseason game on Aug. 22. Coach John Harbaugh reiterated Tuesday that the health issue is not related to football and once again deferred to Jones to decide what details he eventually discloses.

“It’s not anything that’s like life-threatening or anything like that, but it’s non-football related,” Harbaugh said. “We’ve just got to get some tests done to make sure he’s OK. Until the tests come out the right way, he’s not going to be able to play. It’s something that I’ve been told now they can’t tell you how long it will be. It could be a week; it could be indefinitely. We don’t think it’s going to be the second part of it.”

According to the Ravens coach, Jones will see a specialist and undergo further tests on Wednesday as veteran defensive lineman Marcus Spears is expected to take his place along the defensive line in the base 3-4 defense.

A couple hours after Harbaugh’s update, the fourth-year lineman wrote a message on his official Twitter account for the first time since Aug. 19.

“As many of you know i’m [sic] having personal health issues,” Jones wrote. “Please respect my privacy. We as athlete’s [sic] go through real life problems also. Thank You all for your love and support. Ravens fans are the best!! See you all on the field soon!!!”

Defensive tackle Brandon Williams (toe), wide receiver Deonte Thompson (foot), and offensive lineman Ryan Jensen (foot) were also absent during the portion of practice open to the media. None of those three are expected to play against the Broncos.

Pass-rush specialist Pernell McPhee (knee) was the only new addition to Tuesday’s injury report as he continues to manage a sore knee and was a limited participant.

Of course, tight end Dennis Pitta (hip) was officially declared out for Thursday’s game and is expected to be placed on injured reserve with the designation to return when NFL teams are allowed to use that exemption beginning at 4 p.m. on Tuesday afternoon.

“I think we’ll have an announcement for that on Wednesday,” Harbaugh said. “[We'll] just get some final evaluations from the doctors and make sure that we’re doing the right thing for everybody involved.”

This would free up an open spot on the 53-man roster in time for Thursday night’s game.

Tight end Ed Dickson (hamstring) was once again present and working after being listed as a full participant on Monday’s injury report. He made his return to the practice field two weeks ago and has looked good, according to Harbaugh.

“If I can practice out there, I feel like I can play in any game,” said Dickson, who added that he had never suffered such a severe hamstring injury in his football career. “With practice, personally, I feel like I can play. In the end, it’s not my decision to say I can go out there and [potentially] hurt the team by re-injuring anything.”

As they’ve done in past seasons, Ravens players practiced their jersey swap that’s traditionally seen on Fridays during normal game weeks. Running back Ray Rice wore retired linebacker Ray Lewis’ No. 52 jersey while cornerback Chykie Brown sported former safety Ed Reed’s No. 20. Rice’s close friendship with Lewis is common knowledge, and Reed took Brown under his win in their two years together and the pair often swapped jerseys on Fridays last season.

The Ravens will hold a closed walk-through on Wednesday before departing for Denver later in the day.

Here is Tuesday’s official injury report:

BALTIMORE
OUT: DT Art Jones (illness – non-football injury), TE Dennis Pitta (hip)
DID NOT PARTICIPATE: C Ryan Jensen (foot), WR Deonte Thompson (foot), DT Brandon Williams (toe)
LIMITED: DE Pernell McPhee (knee)
FULL PARTICIPATION: TE Ed Dickson (thigh)

DENVER
OUT: none
DID NOT PARTICIPATE: RB C.J. Anderson (knee), CB Champ Bailey (foot), TE Joel Dreessen (knee)
LIMITED: G Chris Kuper (ankle)
FULL PARTICIPATION: DE Robert Ayers (Achilles), T Ryan Clady (shoulder), QB Brock Osweiler (left shoulder), WR Wes Welker (ankle)

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Ravens assigning numbers, handing out contracts to rookies

Posted on 02 May 2013 by Luke Jones

With the Ravens welcoming their new batch of rookies to Owings Mills for their mandatory minicamp this weekend, they got down to business with signing some of their 10 draft picks from the Class of 2013.

The drama of rookie contracts has largely been eliminated since the introduction of a new system with the collective bargaining agreement signed in 2011, so signings have become mere formalities with holdouts and delayed negotiating now things of the past. The contracts of drafted rookie players are set at four years — first-round contracts contain an option for a fifth season — with rookie free agents receiving three-year contracts. While contract figures aren’t slotted with a fixed amount, each team is given a rookie cap figure by which to abide.

According to The Sun, the Ravens have reached four-year agreements with fourth-round fullback Kyle Juszczyk, fifth-round offensive lineman Ricky Wagner, sixth-round defensive end Kapron Lewis-Moore, sixth-round center Ryan Jensen, seventh-round wide receiver Aaron Mellette, and seventh-round cornerback Marc Anthony.

In addition to handing out contracts to six of their 10 draft choices, the Ravens officially assigned jersey numbers to each player and can be seen below:

S Matt Elam – No. 31
LB Arthur Brown – No. 59
NT Brandon Williams – No. 98
LB John Simon – No. 47
FB Kyle Juszczyk – No. 40
OL Ricky Wagner – No. 71
DE Kapron Lewis-Moore – No. 67
C Ryan Jensen – No. 77
WR Aaron Mellette – No. 80
CB Marc Anthony – No. 36

The Ravens have also issued No. 51 to troubled linebacker Rolando McClain, which will lead many to wonder whether we’ll actually see the 23-year-old linebacker suit up in Baltimore. The second-round selection of Brown certainly clouded McClain’s future even more than it already was following an arrest two weekends ago.

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