BALTIMORE — After experiencing perhaps the most tumultuous week in franchise history, the Ravens return to M&T Bank Stadium trying to avoid an 0-2 start by welcoming the AFC North rival Pittsburgh Steelers to town for a nationally-televised Thursday night game.
While the rest of the nation continues to focus on the fallout of the Ray Rice situation, the Ravens must turn their focus toward the field in trying to win their first divisional game. According to NFL Network research, no team has ever started with two divisional home losses to begin a season and gone on to make the playoffs.
Unfortunately for the Ravens, cornerback Lardarius Webb will not play as he continues to knock off rust and go through practices to make sure his back is 100 percent. Webb told reporters on Tuesday that he expected to play against Pittsburgh, and he has practiced fully for the last two weeks. The sixth-year defensive back was stricken with back spasms on the second day of full-squad workouts on July 25 and missed the entire preseason, making concerns more about rust than how his back feels at this point with so little time to get in playing shape.
“I’m ready to get it going,” Webb said on Tuesday. “Who better than Pittsburgh? I’m ready. I’m feeling good. I’m just ready to get out there and get everything going and just play some football.”
His absence once again leaves the Ravens with only three true cornerbacks on the 46-man game-day roster — Jimmy Smith, Chykie Brown, and Asa Jackson. Safety Anthony Levine is capable of playing cornerback in the event of an injury, and rookie safety Terrence Brooks saw extensive playing time at the inside nickel spot during the preseason.
The Ravens announced prior to the game that Brown would start in Webb’s place for the second straight week.
The only other player who appeared on the Ravens’ final injury report this week was right guard Marshal Yanda (foot), who was listed as probable and was active for Thursday’s game.
Other than defensive tackle Christo Bilukidi — who replaced running back Fitz Toussaint on the 53-man roster earlier in the week — the rest of the Ravens’ inactives remain unchanged as inside linebacker Arthur Brown is once again a healthy scratch.
For Pittsburgh, running back Dri Archer (ankle/knee) and wide receiver Lance Moore (groin) were officially ruled out on Wednesday.
Baltimore is meeting Pittsburgh for the 37th time in the regular-season history of the franchise. The Steelers hold the 20-16 edge in the all-time series and are 3-0 in the postseason, but the Ravens are 9-9 against them in Baltimore. Including the postseason, 11 of the last 14 games between these AFC North rivals have been decided by four or fewer points.
The Ravens will be wearing purple jerseys with white pants while Pittsburgh sports white tops and gold pants for Week 2.
The referee for Sunday’s game will be Ed Hochuli.
The forecast in Baltimore called for temperatures to drop into the high 70s shortly after kickoff with no sizable chance of precipation and winds below 10 miles per hour, according to Weather.com.
Here are Thursday’s inactives:
CB Lardarius Webb
WR Michael Campanaro
LB Arthur Brown
OL John Urschel
OL Jah Reid
WR Deonte Thompson
DT Christo Bilukidi
QB Landry Jones
WR Martavis Bryant
RB Dri Archer
WR Lance Moore
C Wesley Johnson
G Chris Hubbard
NT Daniel McCullers
Follow WNST on Twitter throughout the evening for updates and analysis as Nestor Aparicio and I bring live coverage from M&T Bank Stadium.