Tag Archive | "san diego"


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Ravens-Chargers: Five predictions for Sunday

Posted on 31 October 2015 by Luke Jones

Both the Ravens and the San Diego Chargers entered 2015 with high expectations, making their records halfway through the season among the biggest surprises in the NFL.

Now, these struggling teams meet with their playoff hopes all but gone, but the 1-6 Ravens aim for a win to feel good about as they enter next week’s bye. Meanwhile, the Chargers sport the top-ranked passing game in the NFL, but they’ve been a difficult team to figure out after losing by just seven to undefeated Green Bay at Lambeau Field two weeks ago and then falling behind 30-3 to Oakland in the first half of a home loss last Sunday.

With some time off and a chance to escape a miserable season looming, it remains to be seen how focused the Ravens will be as they’ve lost two of their last three games going into their bye week under John Harbaugh.

It’s time to go on the record as Baltimore and San Diego meet for the second consecutive year at M&T Bank Stadium. The teams have split 10 all-time meetings in the regular season with the Chargers winning two of the last three. The Ravens are 2-1 against San Diego in games played in Baltimore.

Here’s what to expect as Baltimore tries to win its first game in three tries against an AFC West opponent this season …

1. The Ravens defense will finally force a turnover after a four-game drought. It’s been more than a month since Elvis Dumervil stripped Andy Dalton of the football and C.J. Mosley picked up the fumble and ran for a touchdown in the Week 3 loss to Cincinnati, which was the last takeaway for Baltimore. Sporting just four takeaways in their first seven games, the Ravens are on pace to shatter the franchise-worst mark of 22 set in 1996 and tied last season. With 18 periods of football having passed without a Ravens takeaway, I won’t bother with specifics, but the defense will come away with one against a San Diego offense that will be throwing a lot and has had its own issues protecting the ball.

2. Chargers receiver Keenan Allen will catch 12 passes for over 130 yards and a touchdown. The 6-foot-2 wideout is off to an incredible start with a whopping 62 catches for 690 yards and three touchdowns in seven games, and there’s not a single Ravens cornerback — including Jimmy Smith — playing with the confidence to slow Allen down right now. With the Baltimore secondary so concerned with giving up the big play, Allen will feast in the short-to-intermediate portion of the field while the Ravens give him plenty of cushion. In the Chargers’ 34-33 win over the Ravens last season, Allen caught 11 passes for 121 yards and two touchdowns and he will post similar numbers on Sunday.

3. Joe Flacco will throw two touchdowns to tight ends against a banged-up San Diego defense. With Pro Bowl safety Eric Weddle and starting inside linebacker Manti Te’o both out with injuries, Flacco should find room in the middle of the field for Crockett Gillmore and his two rookie tight ends to move the chains and make plays. The Chargers are allowing a league-worst 5.3 yards per carry and will stack the box trying to stop Justin Forsett, which should open the seam for Flacco to find Gillmore for a few chunk plays. With emerging second-year cornerback Jason Verrett matched against Steve Smith, the Ravens will need their tight ends to make plays in the middle of the field and they will.

4. Philip Rivers will become the second quarterback to throw for over 400 yards at M&T Bank Stadium this season. Considering journeyman Josh McCown passed for more than 450 yards against the Ravens in their last home game, there’s little reason to think a struggling defense will slow the NFL’s leading passer after Rivers nearly threw for 400 yards in last year’s win over Baltimore. With the Ravens only able to generate pressure using the blitz, Rivers will get rid of the ball quickly against a secondary reluctant to play press coverage. This will result in a long day for a Dean Pees defense that ranks dead last in the NFL in third-down defense.

5. Baltimore will not be able to overcome a short week and the league’s top-ranked passing game in a 30-24 loss. At first blush, I was inclined to pick the home team against a 2-5 opponent that was embarrassed at home by the Raiders a week ago, but coming off a short week is a bigger challenge than many think with the Ravens sporting a 3-5 record in games immediately following a Monday road game under John Harbaugh. Until the Ravens prove otherwise, I just can’t see them beating one of the top quarterbacks in the league when their own offense is so mediocre. We haven’t seen the Ravens make enough big plays on either side of the ball, and that will be the difference again in another close loss to a team that just isn’t a great matchup for them, especially with less time to prepare.

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Ravens fans should remember history on Sunday

Posted on 31 October 2015 by Luke Jones

This season hasn’t been fun.

Not for the Ravens, not for their fans, and — believe it or not — not even for reporters, who don’t particularly enjoy asking John Harbaugh and his players the same questions week after week about why they continue losing close games.

With the Ravens returning home at 1-6 and with their once-lofty expectations dashed, many have wondered what that will mean for Baltimore’s six remaining home games. Established as one of the best home-field advantages in the NFL over the last 15 years, M&T Bank Stadium has rarely hosted games at less than full capacity, but the Ravens are off to the worst start in franchise history.

Virtually all tickets were sold long ago, but will the fans still come?

“This is a great city, and I haven’t had any other experience than that while being here,” eighth-year quarterback Joe Flacco said. “Obviously, throughout the course of games when you’re not playing well and things like that, you can feel people get upset. It’s just part of how it is. But in terms of a consistent basis and a game-to-game basis, I don’t know anything else but Baltimore coming out and supporting their teams.

“I would definitely be surprised. But at the end of the day, these people and this city are entitled to good football. And when they’re not getting it, you can understand.”

Yes, you can understand fans not showing up, but one hopes there is some perspective beginning with Sunday’s game against the San Diego Chargers, the same team that recently confirmed its intentions to apply for relocation to Los Angeles next season. It will be 20 years ago this week that Art Modell announced his intentions to move the Cleveland Browns, returning the NFL to Baltimore after a 12-year absence.

Remember the feeling 20-plus years ago when the thought of having even a 1-6 NFL team sounded great?

Those in our 30s remember a childhood without the NFL and with only stories of the old Colts from our parents and grandparents. Baltimore deserves winning football, but that idea need not be defined as a God-given right to playoff football every single year or else.

The Ravens are down in 2015 and need to make improvements in a variety of ways, but the city has an opportunity to prove just how special its fan base really is. Let’s face it, earning a reputation for providing a great home-field advantage isn’t difficult when your team owns just three losing seasons in 15 years and none since 2007.

But what message would 20,000 empty seats send on Sunday? The Ravens are already aware that 1-6 is unacceptable compared to the lofty standards they’ve established over their 20 years in Baltimore, so there’s no need to “protest” to owner Steve Bisciotti. If the losing were to continue in 2016 and beyond, that would be a different story.

To be clear, this isn’t a plea for fans to willingly spend hard-earned money on a substandard product. But if you already have tickets for Sunday’s game as well as the remaining schedule, make sure they’re put to use.

Go to the games, have fun, and forget about the big picture of a disappointing 2015 season for a few hours.

Try to sell your tickets to Ravens fans who might still be willing to spend some money and don’t have season tickets.

Or just give them to a neighbor, relative, or friend if you can’t stomach the thought of watching a losing team in person. Years later, I remain grateful to family friends such as Tom Potteiger, Ed Cook, and Ken Mistovich for those times when they offered Ravens tickets to my father and me as we couldn’t always afford such luxuries when I was growing up.

Large swaths of empty purple seats on Sunday won’t make Baltimore any worse than other cities that won’t support a loser.

But the idea is to be better than that, right?

With two Super Bowl championships, four division titles, and 10 playoff appearances since 2000, the Ravens have brought plenty of joy to Baltimore over the last 15 years.

It would be heartwarming to see the city pick them up when they’re down with a loud and full house on Sunday and once again remind the NFL how great Baltimore really is.

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Nov 10, 2013; Baltimore, MD, USA; Baltimore Ravens safety Matt Elam (26) in action against the Cincinnati Bengals at M&T Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mitch Stringer-USA TODAY Sports

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Ravens safety Elam suspended for substance-abuse violation

Posted on 30 October 2015 by Luke Jones

Injured Ravens safety Matt Elam has been suspended one game without pay for violating the NFL’s substance-abuse policy.

The league announced Friday that the third-year defensive back would be banned for Sunday’s game against the San Diego Chargers despite Elam already being on injured reserve after suffering a torn biceps in the first week of training camp.

“We have been aware of this situation for a while,” the organization said in a statement. “Matt has been in our building rehabbing his injury on a regular basis, and he will continue to do so.”

The suspension is just the latest bad news for the 2013 first-round pick, who has been nothing short of disappointing in his time with the Ravens. After two underwhelming seasons, Elam entered training camp with no guarantee of being a starter before he suffered a season-ending biceps injury on Aug. 1.

Starting 26 of 32 games in his career, Elam has collected 127 tackles, one interception, one forced fumble, and seven pass breakups.

In 2016, Elam will enter the final season of a four-year, $6.767 million contract rookie contract signed after he was the 32nd overall pick in the 2013 draft. The suspension means the safety will not receive his game check worth just over $60,000 for Sunday’s contest.

The University of Florida product is scheduled to carry a $2.153 million cap figure next year, and the Ravens would save roughly $1.328 million in cap space by releasing him in the offseason.

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Monroe doubtful, San Diego’s Weddle out for Sunday’s game

Posted on 30 October 2015 by Luke Jones

OWINGS MILLS, Md. — The Ravens are not expected to have their starting left tackle for Sunday’s game against San Diego with Eugene Monroe officially listed as doubtful.

The seventh-year offensive lineman injured his shoulder in the fourth quarter of Monday’s loss to Arizona and did not practice all week. Second-year tackle James Hurst is expected to start in his place against the Chargers, who sport the league’s 18th-ranked defense.

The latest injury continues a disappointing two-year run for Monroe, who missed a total of six games with knee and ankle injuries last year and was sidelined for three games earlier this season with a concussion suffered in the season opener.

Baltimore listed safety Kendrick Lewis (knee), left guard Kelechi Osemele (knee), and tight end Maxx Williams (knee/ankle) as questionable after the trio practiced on a limited basis all week. Safety Terrence Brooks (thumb) and wide receiver Steve Smith (knee) are probable after being full participants on Friday.

The expected returns of Lewis and Brooks help a secondary that was forced to turn to special-teams player Brynden Trawick to start at free safety on Monday. Lewis missed one game while Brooks was sidelined two games after undergoing a surgical procedure on his thumb.

Wide receiver Breshad Perriman (knee) and cornerback Tray Walker (concussion) were officially ruled out against San Diego.

The Chargers will be without three starters for Sunday’s game as three-time Pro Bowl safety Eric Weddle, guard Orlando Franklin (ankle), and inside linebacker Manti Te’o (ankle) were officially declared out on Friday.

San Diego quarterback Philip Rivers may also be without eight-time Pro Bowl tight end Antonio Gates (knee), who was listed as questionable after missing practices all week and not playing in Week 7.

The referee for Sunday’s game will be Gene Steratore.

The Sunday forecast calls for temperatures in the mid-60s and partly cloudy skies with winds up to eight miles per hour, according to Weather.com.

Below is the final injury report for Sunday’s game:

OUT: WR Breshad Perriman (knee), CB Tray Walker (concussion)
DOUBTFUL: OT Eugene Monroe (shoulder)
QUESTIONABLE: S Kendrick Lewis (knee), G Kelechi Osemele (knee), TE Maxx Williams (knee, ankle)
PROBABLE: S Terrence Brooks (thumb), WR Steve Smith (knee)

OUT: G Orlando Franklin (ankle), LB Manti Te’o (ankle), S Eric Weddle (groin), LB Tourek Williams (foot)
DOUBTFUL: LB Denzel Perryman (biceps)
QUESTIONABLE: TE Antonio Gates (knee), NT Sean Lissemore (hamstring), CB Craig Mager (hamstring)
PROBABLE: RB Melvin Gordon (ankle), C Chris Watt (groin, concussion)

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Monroe absent from practice for second straight day

Posted on 29 October 2015 by Luke Jones

OWINGS MILLS, Md. — An injury-marred season continues for Ravens left tackle Eugene Monroe as he remains sidelined with a shoulder ailment suffered in Monday’s loss to Arizona.

Monroe missed his second straight day of practice on Thursday, creating further doubt about his availability for Sunday’s meeting with the San Diego Chargers. The seventh-year lineman missed three games earlier this season after suffering a concussion on the opening drive of the season opener.

Should Monroe not play, second-year tackle James Hurst would start in his place despite his immense early-season struggles. Fortunately for the Baltimore offense, the Chargers have not shown a consistent ability to create pressure on the quarterback with just 12 sacks in seven games this season.

Other players missing from Thursday’s practice included cornerback Tray Walker (concussion) and wide receiver Breshad Perriman (knee).

Veteran wide receiver Steve Smith was added to Thursday’s injury report as a limited participant due to a knee issue. Also limited in the workout were safety Kendrick Lewis (knee), left guard Kelechi Osemele (knee), and tight end Maxx Williams (knee/ankle).

Safety Terrence Brooks (thumb) was upgraded to full participation and appears on track to make his return after a two-game absence.

Meanwhile, San Diego was once again without Pro Bowl tight end Antonio Gates (knee) and Pro Bowl safety Eric Weddle (groin).

Below is Thursday’s full injury report:

DID NOT PARTICIPATE: OT Eugene Monroe (shoulder), WR Breshad Perriman (knee), CB Tray Walker (concussion)
LIMITED PARTICIPATION: G Kelechi Osemele (knee), S Kendrick Lewis (knee), WR Steve Smith (knee), TE Maxx Williams (knee, ankle)
FULL PARTICIPATION: S Terrence Brooks (thumb)

DID NOT PARTICIPATE: G Orlando Franklin (ankle), TE Antonio Gates (knee), G/T Chris Hairston (illness), NT Sean Lissemore (hamstring), LB Denzel Perryman (biceps), LB Manti Te’o (ankle), S Eric Weddle (groin)
LIMITED PARTICIPATION: CB Craig Mager (hamstring), LB Tourek Williams (foot)
FULL PARTICIPATION: RB Melvin Gordon (ankle), C Chris Watt (groin, concussion)

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Ravens welcome back several players to practice

Posted on 28 October 2015 by Luke Jones

OWINGS MILLS, Md. — Returning to practice after a quick turnaround from the Monday loss in Arizona, the Ravens saw several players returning to the field.

Safeties Kendrick Lewis (knee) and Terrence Brooks (thumb), tight end Maxx Williams (knee/ankle), and left guard Kelechi Osemele (knee) were all present and working for what amounted to a walk-through practice on Wednesday. Of those four, Osemele was the only player to play against the Cardinals, but he left the game in the fourth quarter and did not return.

After leaving Monday’s game with a shoulder injury, starting left tackle Eugene Monroe was listed as a non-participant on Wednesday and was only an observer during the walk-through practice. Second-year tackle James Hurst would likely start in Monroe’s place if he’s not ready to play against the San Diego Chargers on Sunday.

Only two other Baltimore players were absent from practice on Wednesday: cornerback Tray Walker (concussion) and wide receiver Breshad Perriman (knee).

Tight end Dennis Pitta (hip) began his second week of practice, but it remains unclear when or if he will be activated from the physically unable to perform list. On Oct. 21, the 30-year-old entered a 21-day window in which he may practice before the Ravens must either elevate him to the 53-man roster or leave him on the PUP list for the remainder of the season.

“It’s up to Dennis,” head coach John Harbaugh said. “You guys saw him out here today in the pre-part of the practice when you guys were watching, so you got to see him move a little bit. But it really is up to Dennis at this point.”

Meanwhile, San Diego was without four starters on Wednesday as eight-time Pro Bowl tight end Antonio Gates (knee), three-time Pro Bowl safety Eric Weddle (groin), inside linebacker Manti Te’o (ankle), and left guard Orlando Franklin (ankle) sat out.

Below is Wednesday’s full injury report:

DID NOT PARTICIPATE: OT Eugene Monroe (shoulder), WR Breshad Perriman (knee), CB Tray Walker (concussion)
LIMITED PARTICIPATION: S Terrence Brooks (thumb), G Kelechi Osemele (knee), S Kendrick Lewis (knee), TE Maxx Williams (knee, ankle)

DID NOT PARTICIPATE: G Orlando Franklin (ankle), TE Antonio Gates (knee), LB Denzel Perryman (biceps), LB Manti Te’o (ankle), S Eric Weddle (groin)
LIMITED PARTICIPATION: NT Sean Lissemore (hamstring), CB Craig Mager (hamstring), LB Tourek Williams (foot)
FULL PARTICIPATION: RB Melvin Gordon (ankle), C Chris Watt (groin, concussion)

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Ravens-related thoughts on Week 7

Posted on 26 October 2015 by Luke Jones

Everything about the Ravens organization has come under scrutiny after a 1-5 start with recent draft history being among the biggest concerns.

Though their draft issues pale in comparison to teams like Cleveland who have failed miserably with multiple top choices, I couldn’t help but notice how few of the Ravens’ recent high picks would be contributing in Monday’s contest against Arizona. And much of the blame can be placed on injuries.

In total, the Ravens have selected nine players in the first three rounds over their last three drafts and just four of them — linebacker C.J. Mosley and defensive tackles Brandon Williams, Timmy Jernigan, and Carl Davis — were expected to play meaningful snaps on Monday night. Four others — safeties Matt Elam and Terrence Brooks, wide receiver Breshad Perriman, and tight end Maxx Williams — are sidelined with injuries and 2013 second-round inside linebacker Arthur Brown has been nothing more than a special-teams player in his third season.

It’s interesting to note that the defensive line is one of the Ravens’ few strengths while they’ve lacked playmakers in the secondary and in the passing game, areas where these absent draft picks normally reside. While the blame doesn’t fall solely on these recent selections, it’s difficult to look at that breakdown without concluding it’s a substantial part of what ails the Ravens.

** Much has been made about the NFL still having five undefeated teams at the end of seven weeks, but taking a closer look at the AFC should have the Ravens kicking themselves over their horrendous start. After New England, Cincinnati, and Denver, the conference sports just two other teams — Pittsburgh and the New York Jets — with winning records as the calendar is ready to turn to November.

Anyone who looked at the Ravens’ early-season schedule needed to be realistic about the daunting task of playing five of their first seven on the road, but many opined that a 4-3 record — even 3-4 — would put John Harbaugh’s team in position to make a run in the second half with an easier schedule. That would have proven to be true if not for a 1-5 start, but the Ravens can’t really complain when holding an 0-2 record at M&T Bank Stadium this year.

** Baltimore appears to be getting San Diego at the right time as the Chargers have lost three straight and were handled at home by Oakland on Sunday, but coming off a Monday night road game is a difficult proposition. Under Harbaugh, the Ravens hold a 3-5 record in games immediately following a Monday road game and one of those wins — against Arizona in 2011 — was the largest comeback in team history.

The defense-challenged Chargers may only be 2-5, but preparing for Philip Rivers and the league’s top-ranked passing game on a short week could be a nightmare for the Ravens pass defense. For what it’s worth, the Ravens were coming off a Monday night road game last year when they lost to the Chargers in Baltimore.

** The Steelers did an admirable job surviving without Ben Roethlisberger, who is expected to return to action against the Bengals in Week 8.

Going 2-2 in games started by Mike Vick and Landry Jones is quite respectable, but those two losses came against teams that entered Week 7 with 1-5 records. That has to eat away at coach Mike Tomlin as Pittsburgh trails Cincinnati by three games in the loss column in the AFC North standings.

** Former University of Maryland standout Stefon Diggs had six catches for 108 yards and a touchdown in Minnesota’s 28-19 win over Detroit on Sunday.

Meanwhile, Ravens first-round pick Breshad Perriman still isn’t practicing and fourth-round cornerback Tray Walker — drafted 10 spots ahead of Diggs — hasn’t been trusted to play defensive snaps despite a slew of injuries in the secondary.

Carry on.

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Ravens sign veteran cornerback Shareece Wright

Posted on 13 October 2015 by Luke Jones

Wasting no time trying to fill the void left by the injured Will Davis, the Ravens agreed to a deal with veteran cornerback Shareece Wright on Monday night.

Baltimore will fill Davis’ spot on the 53-man roster with the 28-year-old Wright, who was released by the San Francisco 49ers at his request on Saturday after being inactive for the first four games of the 2015 season. Signed to a one-year, $3 million contract in March, Wright spent the first four years of his NFL career with the San Diego Chargers.

A 2011 third-round pick from USC, Wright started 27 games over his four seasons in San Diego, collecting 137 tackles, one interception, and 20 pass breakups. Primarily an outside cornerback, Wright will be a candidate to serve as the No. 3 corner, which would allow Lardarius Webb to play inside in the nickel package like the Ravens prefer.

The 5-foot-11, 182-pound Wright struggled in coverage last season and drew the most pass interference penalties in the league with eight a year ago, but Baltimore is desperate to turn around a defense that gave up 33 points and more than 500 yards of offense in an overtime loss to Cleveland on Sunday.

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Did I mention that this place is in San Diego and has fish tacos, too?

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MLB #GiveASpit Ballpark Ranking: No. 3 San Diego Padres

Posted on 13 September 2015 by Nestor Aparicio

San Diego – There aren’t a whole lot of bad days in the world’s air-conditioned city but the ballpark fits the scene of the neighborhood and the vibe of the community. This place is a very underrated stadium and I had to really give it a second look after seeing a game there a decade ago. It’s quite nice, cozy, active. The food is great. The seating bowl is excellent and very unique. Many ballparks are built into urban settings and flood the streets with activity after games. That’s what they’re designed to do. None does it better or more naturally than Petco Park. It’s just a beautiful building a great spot to drink beer, eat a few tacos and watch baseball.

Matter of fact, I’m going back next summer. I’m finally getting my wife to an All Star Game. We’ll be there in July 2016!

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Former Ravens return specialist Jones joining San Diego

Posted on 06 March 2015 by Luke Jones

Former Ravens kick returner and wide receiver Jacoby Jones has found a new home on the West Coast.

Jones has agreed to a two-year deal to join the San Diego Chargers, who were looking for a more explosive option as a return specialist. The 30-year-old was released by the Ravens last week, a move that saved $750,000 on their salary cap for the 2015 season.

“One of our off-season goals was to improve our special teams, specifically upgrading our return game,” Chargers general manager Tom Telesco said in a statement. “We feel Jacoby brings a dynamic aspect to our kick and punt returns that we need, and he also has solid experience playing wide receiver.”

Originally signed by the Ravens in 2012, Jones earned a trip to the Pro Bowl that year and finished with a 30.1-yard kickoff return average over his three-year run in Baltimore, the best mark in franchise history. He scored six total touchdowns on returns with the Ravens.

Jones and the Chargers are scheduled to visit M&T Bank Stadium to take on the Ravens during the 2015 regular season.

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