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Ravens welcome last two first-round picks back to practice

Posted on 28 August 2017 by Luke Jones

OWINGS MILLS, Md. — The Ravens welcomed their last two first-round draft picks back to the practice field on Monday morning.

Cornerback Marlon Humphrey and left tackle Ronnie Stanley were present and taking part in the portion of the workout open to the media, a positive development with the season opener now less than two weeks away. Humphrey hadn’t practiced since Baltimore’s second preseason game on Aug. 17 while Stanley had been sidelined since Aug. 12 with an undisclosed injury.

Before Saturday’s preseason win over Buffalo, Humphrey went threw an extensive on-field workout and was running and backpedaling at full speed, an indication that he was ready to return from the “soft tissue” affliction that had kept him out. Stanley was a very limited participant on Monday and was leaving the field as the viewing portion of practice concluded.

Tight end Maxx Williams, offensive tackle Stephane Nembot, and linebacker Donald Payne all returned to practice after missing Saturday’s game.

Joe Flacco (back) remained absent and has now missed more than a month of practice, but head coach John Harbaugh promised Saturday that his starting quarterback would play against Cincinnati on Sept. 10. How prepared he’ll be to face the Bengals remains to be seen.

Others still sidelined included wide receiver Breshad Perriman (hamstring), running back Danny Woodhead (hamstring), linebacker Albert McClellan (undisclosed), and cornerbacks Brandon Boykin (undisclosed) and Maurice Canady (knee). Quarterback Thaddeus Lewis was the only new absence from Monday’s session after playing 14 snaps late in the 13-9 win over the Bills.

The Ravens signed long snapper Taybor Pepper, a likely sign that they plan to hold Morgan Cox out of the preseason finale in New Orleans on Thursday. Cox was practicing without any incident on Monday.

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Five new absences from Ravens practice after second preseason game

Posted on 19 August 2017 by Luke Jones

OWINGS MILLS, Md. — The Ravens returned to practice with five new absences after their preseason win over Miami on Thursday night.

Veteran running back Danny Woodhead, 2017 first-round cornerback Marlon Humphrey, wide receiver Chris Matthews, linebacker Donald Payne, and defensive back Robertson Daniel were among those missing from the field during the portion of Saturday’s workout open to reporters. All five played in the 31-7 victory over the Dolphins.

Head coach John Harbaugh said after the game that the Ravens were being cautious with Humphrey after he’d recently been dealing with a “soft tissue” injury. Humphrey took part in just six defensive snaps and three special-teams plays on Thursday, leading one to assume he aggravated the previous injury against Miami. The Alabama product missed five straight workouts with the ailment earlier this month and had only returned to practice last Saturday.

Other players missing on Saturday included quarterback Joe Flacco (back), wide receiver Breshad Perriman (hamstring), left tackle Ronnie Stanley (undisclosed), offensive lineman Stephane Nembot (undisclosed), and cornerbacks Brandon Boykin (undisclosed) and Maurice Canady (knee). Harbaugh said after Thursday’s game that Flacco is not expected to return to practice this week.

The newly-signed Jeremy Zuttah was present and working a day after rejoining his former team. The veteran offensive lineman was assigned No. 64 since his old No. 53 is currently being worn by linebacker Bam Bradley.

Former Ravens tight end and Ring of Honor inductee Todd Heap was visiting practice and was greeted with a hug from former teammate Terrell Suggs.

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Perriman remains on mend from “long-term” hamstring injury

Posted on 15 August 2017 by Luke Jones

OWINGS MILLS, Md. — The Ravens aren’t yet ruling out wide receiver Breshad Perriman for the rest of the preseason, but his return to practice isn’t considered imminent.

Two weeks after leaving the field with a hamstring injury, the 2015 first-round pick still isn’t practicing and has only been seen catching passes from a stationary position when in view of the media. Head coach John Harbaugh stopped short of saying Perriman wouldn’t make it back for any preseason games, but he acknowledged how unpredictable a serious hamstring injury can be.

“Nothing’s changed with Breshad,” Harbaugh said. “He’s a long-term hamstring guy in terms of from when he did it. It’s a pretty good hamstring [injury] he had. He’s making progress. Everything is on schedule, and they’re happy with the way he’s progressing. That’s what I know.”

This marks the third straight year in which the 23-year-old has missed most of training camp, a frustrating development for a speedy 6-foot-2, 215-pound receiver who’s flashed potential when healthy. Perriman missed his entire rookie season with a right knee injury and was sidelined for most of last year’s camp with an injury to his left knee before returning to play in the preseason finale and all 16 regular-season games, catching 33 passes for 499 yards and three touchdowns.

Perriman isn’t the only recent first-round pick to be dealing with an injury as second-year left tackle Ronnie Stanley missed his third consecutive practice on Tuesday, making it unlikely that he’ll play in Thursday’s preseason game in Miami. Harbaugh wouldn’t specify what Stanley is dealing with, but his short-term status sounded more positive than Perriman’s.

“No season-ending thing or anything like that,” Harbaugh said. “It’s something he’s working through. There are two or three guys like that that are working through some things. I’d like to get them back sooner rather than later, but we don’t want to push them too much and [we need to] just let them heal up a little bit. I’d say it’s ‘camp stuff’ right now.

“I haven’t gotten anything definitive on Ronnie from the trainers, so when we do, we’ll let you know as far as when he’s coming back.”

Fourth-year lineman James Hurst was once again working as the first-team left tackle in Stanley’s absence.

Harbaugh confirmed that first-round rookie cornerback Marlon Humphrey will make his preseason debut on Thursday after practicing for the fourth straight day.

Quarterback Joe Flacco (back), wide receiver Kenny Bell (hamstring), offensive tackle Stephane Nembot (undisclosed), cornerbacks Brandon Boykin (undisclosed) and Maurice Canady (knee), and inside linebacker Lamar Louis (undisclosed) all remained absent from Tuesday’s workout.

Outside linebacker Terrell Suggs and cornerback Jimmy Smith were also missing from practice, but the Ravens might have elected to keep both veterans off a wet field as heavy rain moved through Owings Mills. Suggs and Smith both practiced without incident on Monday.

Wide receiver Quincy Adeboyejo (knee) and offensive lineman Jermaine Eluemunor (undisclosed) returned to practice Tuesday after sitting out the previous day.

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Ravens offensive line shuffle continues during Sunday’s practice

Posted on 13 August 2017 by Luke Jones

OWINGS MILLS, Md. — The Ravens continue to shuffle their offensive line as they count down to their second preseason game at Miami later this week.

Two days after the organization announced second-year left guard Alex Lewis would undergo season-ending shoulder surgery, starting left tackle Ronnie Stanley was absent from practice. It’s unclear why Stanley wasn’t practicing after working without any visible issue Saturday morning, but recently-converted left guard James Hurst moved out to left tackle during the workout.

With designs of improving the running game after below-average production the last two seasons, the Ravens have lost three key interior linemen — Lewis, injured fourth-round rookie Nico Siragusa, and the retired John Urschel — since the start of training camp. During Sunday’s practice, Hurst, Matt Skura, Ryan Jensen, Marshal Yanda, and Austin Howard lined up from left to right as the first-team offensive line.

Stanley wasn’t the only notable new absence on Sunday as veteran wide receiver Jeremy Maclin and rookie outside linebacker Tyus Bowser were also missing. Head coach John Harbaugh did not speak to reporters after practice to potentially provide any clarity on their status.

Quarterback Joe Flacco (back), wide receivers Breshad Perriman (hamstring) and Kenny Bell (hamstring), offensive tackle Stephane Nembot (undisclosed), cornerbacks Brandon Boykin (undisclosed) and Maurice Canady (knee), and inside linebacker Lamar Louis were also absent from Sunday’s practice.

Rookie offensive lineman Jermaine Eluemunor left the field in the first half of Sunday’s session and didn’t return, adding even more concern to a decimated offensive line. Safety Eric Weddle also exited practice in the final 20 minutes, but it did not appear to be a serious issue.

Rookie wide receiver Quincy Adeboyejo appeared to tweak his knee while making a sliding catch during a 7-on-7 passing drill, but he remained on the field for the duration of practice.

The highlight of the day occurred during 1-on-1 battles between the offensive line group and front-7 personnel with the former surprisingly getting the better of Baltimore’s younger defensive linemen and linebackers. The period concluded with an intense battle between Jensen and outside linebacker Za’Darius Smith. The center was flagged as he threw Smith to the ground, which touched off a pileup of multiple players. Cooler heads quickly prevailed as the fight turned more playful than nasty in nature and nose tackle Michael Pierce provided the comic relief by throwing a penalty flag up in the air.

During a red-zone session, veteran cornerback Brandon Carr picked off a Ryan Mallett pass intended for tight end Nick Boyle, a turnover that likely would have resulted in a touchdown going the other way.

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Five questions for start of Ravens organized team activities

Posted on 23 May 2017 by Luke Jones

With the Ravens now holding their first week of organized team activities and opening up Thursday’s workout to the media, below are five questions surrounding John Harbaugh’s team in late May:

1. What will the offensive line look like?

Many have said the Ravens are returning to their roots with such an offseason focus on improving their defense, but the accompanying thoughts of relying on the running game have come without any high-profile additions to an offensive line that no longer sports above-average right tackle Rick Wagner or center Jeremy Zuttah. Is John Urschel or Ryan Jensen even as good as Zuttah, let alone better? Is there a real solution at right tackle in a motley crew of candidates that includes James Hurst, Jermaine Eluemunor, De’Ondre Wesley, and Stephane Nembot? The biggest wild card could be where Alex Lewis ends up despite an internal belief at the end of last season that his best position was left guard. New senior offensive assistant Greg Roman and new offensive line coach Joe D’Alessandris deserve the chance to leave their mark on this group, but you need a dominant offensive line to play ball-control football and the Ravens have a long way to go to prove they can have that kind of a group.

2. Are the front office and coaching staff really this confident in their wide receivers?

This offseason feels similar to 2013 when veteran Anquan Boldin was traded away for a sixth-round pick and nothing meaningful was done to replace him, leading to substantial problems for quarterback Joe Flacco and the passing game. There is no shortage of speed with Mike Wallace, Breshad Perriman, and Chris Moore, but who is going to be that short-to-intermediate receiver who moves the chains and makes tacklers miss like Steve Smith did over the last three seasons? With general manager Ozzie Newsome having not signed a free-agent wideout to this point and not taking one in last month’s draft, it’s become clear that the Ravens are counting on Perriman to live up to his first-round billing and Moore to emerge as another gem from last year’s impressive fourth-round haul. No matter how the likes of Perriman, Moore, and Michael Campanaro look practicing in shorts over the next few weeks, however, it remains almost inconceivable that the Ravens are again going down this path at this position.

3. How will new safety Tony Jefferson be used?

A four-year, $34 million contract is awfully rich for a traditional strong safety, so the bet here is that Jefferson will be deployed in a way unlike any other safety we’ve seen during defensive coordinator Dean Pees’ tenure. With the re-signing of veteran safety Lardarius Webb and the uncertainty at the weak-side inside linebacker spot due to the unfortunate retirement of Zach Orr, it makes sense for the Ravens to use the dime as their primary sub package with Jefferson essentially lining up as a hybrid linebacker in passing situations. His greatest strengths in Arizona were the ability to stop the run and to cover tight ends, which are critical responsibilities for a linebacker in a more conventional nickel alignment. Considering Webb played well in the second half of 2016 and will now be relegated to a part-time role, Jefferson needs to be a difference-making presence to justify the Ravens throwing him so much money that could have been used to address a below-average offense from a year ago.

4. Who steps into starting roles along the defensive line?

The Ravens have plenty of young options up front, but they will be replacing two starters in Timmy Jernigan and Lawrence Guy who also served as useful interior rushers in passing situations. Michael Pierce, Carl Davis, and Willie Henry will be vying for the starting 3-technique defensive tackle job previously held by Jernigan while 2017 third-round pick Chris Wormley will compete with Brent Urban and Bronson Kaufusi for Guy’s old 5-technique defensive end spot. We’ve heard a lot about these names, but Pierce is the only one who saw extensive playing time a year ago and even he is only entering his second season. There isn’t a ton to take away from the non-contact nature of these spring practices, but it will be interesting to see who will be receiving the early reps with the first-team defense. The good news is that re-signed nose tackle Brandon Williams will be there to anchor the rest of a defensive line that will look quite different than it did in 2016.

5. Will Kamalei Correa begin living up to his second-round billing?

The Ravens passed on a few highly-touted prospects such as Myles Jack and Noah Spence to take Correa with the 42nd overall pick of the 2016 draft, making his rookie season that included only 48 defensive snaps that much more disappointing. With Orr having retired, the Ravens need someone to emerge as the starter in the base defense next to C.J. Mosley with Correa appearing to be the most logical candidate on paper. Outside opinions have been split on whether the Boise State product is better off playing inside or outside, but Newsome drafting edge defenders Tyus Bowser and Tim Williams last month signals where the Ravens stand in that debate. The coaching staff acknowledged that they may have put too much on Correa’s rookie plate by having him work at both inside and outside linebacker, but the Ravens need him to make a major leap in his second season or the groans from fans and media about another failed second-round pick will grow even louder. He has to at least begin looking the part this spring.

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Right tackle Wagner set to leave Ravens to join Detroit

Posted on 08 March 2017 by Luke Jones

In what’s been considered more of a formality in recent days, starting right tackle Rick Wagner is reportedly leaving the Ravens for a lucrative contract elsewhere.

According to multiple outlets, Wagner has agreed to terms on a long-term deal with the Detroit Lions. The 27-year-old is expected to make north of $9 million per season, according to NFL Network. Such a deal would set a new bar for right tackles, who have generally topped out at around $6 million annually in recent years.

A three-year starter who ranked 18th among all qualified offensive tackles in Pro Football Focus’ grading system for 2016, Wagner will be tough to replace with the Ravens having already stated a clear offseason goal of improving their offensive line and running game. James Hurst, De’Ondre Wesley, and Stephane Nembot are the current internal options at right tackle, but Hurst has struggled when pressed into starting duty over the last three years and the other two lack any meaningful experience.

The Ravens prefer to keep second-year lineman Alex Lewis at left guard and as the primary backup to starting left tackle Ronnie Stanley.

Of course, it’s worth noting there was much angst with Baltimore’s decision to hand the right tackle job to Wagner in 2014 after former first-round pick Michael Oher departed via free agency, but the Wisconsin product would start 45 games over three seasons. For what it’s worth, the coaching staff believes both Wesley and Nembot have potential to develop, but that doesn’t mean the Ravens won’t pursue another right tackle via free agency or the draft.

Wagner is just the first of a few unrestricted free agents who could be leaving the Ravens in the coming days. Reports have already indicated multiple teams being interested in Pro Bowl fullback Kyle Juszczyk while nose tackle Brandon Williams is expected to receive a massive payday on the open market.

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