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Cutdown day live updates: Ravens trimming to 53

Posted on 03 September 2011 by Luke Jones

***Stay right here for updates throughout the day as the Ravens form their 53-man roster for the start of the regular season. Follow us on Twitter and be sure to subscribe to the WNST Text Service for all updates sent directly to your mobile device.***

3:10 p.m. — Three hours ahead of the 6 p.m. deadline, the Ravens have announced their remaining cuts, which include QB Hunter Cantwell, FB Ryan Mahaffey, C Jason Murphy, CB Talmadge Jackson, DT Bryan Hall, LS Patrick Scales, OT Andre Ramsey, S Mana Silva, LB Chavis Williams, CB Josh Victorian, LB Josh Bynes, CB Danny Gorrer, and WR James Hardy.

This means the Ravens have decided to keep — for now — rookie defensive end Michael McAdoo and inebackers Jason Phillips and Albert McClellan.

The roster currently has 53 players, which is a bit peculiar with David Reed’s spot not counting against the roster for Week 1. However, it’s of little consequence with the Ravens expected to sign a veteran backup for quarterback Joe Flacco.

2:11 p.m. — By my count, the Ravens have cleared 14 players from the roster, meaning there are 12 unaccounted for to get down to 54 players (David Reed’s spot won’t count in the opener).

The following players are no longer on the roster:

WR Marcus Smith
WR Brandon Jones
RB Damien Berry
RB Jalen Parmele
TE Davon Drew
TE Johdrick Morris
C Tim Barnes
G/C Justin Boren
OT Ramon Harewood (placed on IR – ankle)
S Nate Williams
LB Tavares Gooden
LB Prescott Burgess
DT Derek Simmons
DT Lamar Divens

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1:49 p.m. — After learning rookie receiver LaQuan Williams had made the team, it spelled possible bad news for Marcus Smith. The fourth-year receiver has been cut by the Ravens, according to MASN.

The Ravens have also cleared another roster spot by placing offensive tackle Ramon Harewood on injured reserve with an ankle injury, according to Scout.com.

1:30 p.m. — Rookie cornerback Chykie Brown just informed me via text message that he has made the 53-man roster. The Ravens liked his talent, but there was doubt whether they would ultimately be able to keep him with such a deep group of cornerbacks ahead of him.

1:16 p.m. — Rookie running back Damien Berry has been released and is a possible candidate for the practice squad, according to Scout.com.

With Parmele already gone and Berry joining him, it appears the Ravens will have a total of four running backs (Ray Rice, Vonta Leach, Ricky Williams, and Anthony Allen) when they announce the departure of rookie fullback Ryan Mahaffey.

12:49 p.m. — The names are still trickling in as the Ravens have cut interior offensive lineman Justin Boren, defensive tackle Derek Simmons and veteran receiver Brandon Jones, according to Scout.com. The latter two were not in serious consideration for a roster spot.

I thought Boren might initially sneak on the roster before the Ravens add a backup quarterback or possibly a veteran interior lineman, but the former Ohio State lineman is a prime candidate for the practice squad.

12:12 p.m. — As we hit lunchtime, here’s the recap of what we know so far regarding the Ravens’ cuts:

DT Lamar Divens (first reported by WNST.net)
LB Prescott Burgess
LB Tavares Gooden
RB Jalen Parmele
TE Davon Drew
TE Johdrick Morris
C Tim Barnes
S Nate Williams

That leaves 18 cuts unaccounted for as the Ravens have to trim down to 54 players (David Reed will not count against the roster for Week 1).

12:01 p.m. — Defensive tackle Lamar Divens has been released, as first reported by WNST.net.

WNST’s Glenn Clark can also confirm that former Maryland wide receiver LaQuan Williams has made the 53-man roster, making plenty of local fans happy. Williams may be in the plans as a punt returner as well as the kick returner for Week 1 with David Reed’s suspension.

11:54 a.m. — As we await more difficult decisions on a number of bubble players, Scout.com reports the Ravens have released rookie tight end Johdrick Morris and rookie safety Nate Williams. Neither player was in consideration for a roster spot.

Morris’ release means the Ravens are down to three tight ends

11:13 a.m. — It’s important to point out the Ravens only have to get down to 54 players today. With David Reed suspended for the regular-season opener for violating the league’s substance-abuse policy, the second-year receiver will not count against the 53-man roster.

With Gooden, Burgess, Parmele, Barnes, and Drew already waived, that means the Ravens must release 21 more players to get down to 54.

11:04 a.m. — The Ravens have decided to forgo a potential trade and will release linebacker Tavares Gooden, according to Scout.com. He was on the roster bubble after falling behind Jameel McClain, Dannell Ellerbe, and Brendon Ayanbadejo on the depth chart at the inside linebacker spot next to Ray Lewis.

10:43 a.m. — Scout.com is reporting the Ravens have released running back Jalen Parmele. This means rookie running back Anthony Allen is all but guaranteed a roster spot after impressing nearly everyone during the preseason. The Ravens simply couldn’t risk exposing him to the open market in trying to stash him away on the practice squad.

I thought it was possible Parmele might be spared for Week 1 with kick returner David Reed suspended for violating the league’s substance-abuse policy, but the Ravens have a number of others capable of returning kicks including rookies Torrey Smith and LaQuan Williams and veterans Lardarius Webb and Tom Zbikowski.

Rookie center Tim Barnes has also been released and could be a candidate for the practice squad, according to his agent’s Twitter account.

10:30 a.m. — The Ravens have released tight end Davon Drew, according to his representation’s Twitter feed. He was pretty clearly on the outside looking in after falling behind veteran Kris Wilson on the depth chart for the No. 3 tight end spot.

NFL reporter Adam Caplan is also reporting the Ravens are shopping linebacker Tavares Gooden to other teams. If they can fetch a low-round draft pick for Gooden, who is very clearly on the bubble anyway, it would be a prudent move by the Ravens.

10:00 a.m. — With the Ravens needing to shrink their roster from 80 to 53 for the regular season by 6 p.m. on Saturday, linebacker Prescott Burgess has reportedly become the first to fall. The special teams standout was waived Saturday morning, according to Scout.com.

Given the Ravens’ depth at the linebacker position and the new kickoff rules somewhat neutralizing the impact of kick coverage, Burgess’ role as the backup strong-side linebacker on the depth chart apparently wasn’t enough to save his spot.

I had Burgess on my 53-man roster that I mocked yesterday, meaning I’ve lost my perfect game right off the bat.

Shows how much I know.

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Ravens-Falcons Preseason Primer: What to watch

Posted on 31 August 2011 by Luke Jones

***Join us in the Purple Haze live chat beginning at 7:30 p.m. as we talk about the preseason finale and what to expect this season. For the quickest updates and analysis, follow WNST on Twitter and be sure to subscribe to the WNST Text Service.***

As the calendar turns to September, we’ve finally reached the light at the end of the preseason tunnel as the Ravens travel to Atlanta to take on the Falcons on Thursday night.

Of course, interest isn’t exactly bubbling over in the final preseason game, but plenty of players will be fighting for their professional lives, whether with Baltimore or the 31 other NFL teams that will trim down their rosters to 53 on Saturday.

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It’s unknown how long the starters will play against the Falcons, but John Harbaugh and the coaching staff will at least give the revamped offensive line — particularly newly-signed left tackle Bryant McKinnie — a brief look in live-game action during the first quarter. The reins will then be turned over to veteran backups and rookies trying to stake their final claims as to why they belong among the 53 that will take the field against the Pittsburgh Steelers on Sept. 11.

Series history

Thursday night marks the third time in four years the Ravens and Falcons will meet in the preseason finale and the seventh time in the last nine years they’ve faced off during the preseason. The Ravens hold a 4-3 edge in the preseason series between the two teams with five of those games being played at the Georgia Dome.

Baltimore and Atlanta have met four times in the regular season, splitting those games. The Falcons won the most recent contest, a 26-21 thriller that took place on a Thursday night in Atlanta last season.

Atlanta connections

Ravens cornerback Domonique Foxworth played for Atlanta in 2008, starting 10 of 14 games and grabbing one interception while defending 11 passes.

On the opposing side, the Falcons have two former Baltimore draft picks in fullback Ovie Mughelli and backup quarterback Chris Redman. Mughelli played his first four seasons (2003-06) with the Ravens while Redman, a former third-round pick, spent four seasons (2000-03) and made six starts in 2002 before going down with a back injury.

Falcons head coach Mike Smith was the Baltimore defensive assistant/defensive line coach and linebackers coach (1999-2002) and is the brother-in-law of former Ravens coach Brian Billick. Atlanta defensive backs coach Alvin Reynolds was the Ravens secondary coach during the franchise’s first three seasons in Baltimore (1996-98).

Ravens special teams coordinator Jerry Rosburg held the same position with the Falcons in 2007.

Injury report

Most starters will only see brief playing time while key veterans such as Ray Lewis and Ed Reed are unlikely to play at all in the final preseason game. However, the Ravens are still dealing with a few injuries where concern could linger into the first week of the regular season.

Right guard Marshal Yanda has returned to practice and is expected to see some playing time, but center Matt Birk’s status remains up in the air. The 35-year-old center returned to the practice field on Saturday after undergoing arthroscopic knee surgery at the beginning of training camp. When asked earlier in the week if he wanted to play against the Falcons, Birk said his goal was to be ready for the Sept. 11 opener.

Receiver Lee Evans (left foot), cornerback Chris Carr (hamstring), and offensive lineman Mark LeVoir were all absent from practice this week.

Evans hasn’t participated in practice since the third preseason game against Washington and was seen in a walking boot during Saturday’s practice. Carr has battled a left hamstring injury, which has forced him to miss the last two preseason games while being an intermittent participant during practices.

LeVoir’s injury is unknown as the swing lineman missed practice on Monday and Tuesday.

7 Bubble Players to Watch

1. LB Tavares Gooden – The 2008 third-round pick has never lived up to expectations, battling injuries and a perception of being a soft player in his first three seasons with the Ravens. Having fallen behind Jameel McClain, Dannell Ellerbe, and Brendon Ayanbadejo in the fight for playing time next to Ray Lewis in the Ravens’ 3-4 base defense, Gooden has to hope his play in the nickel package as well as his special teams contributions are enough to earn one of the final spots on the roster.

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Harbaugh not revealing Ravens’ plans for playing time against Atlanta

Posted on 30 August 2011 by Luke Jones

OWINGS MILLS, Md. — The fourth preseason game is typically reserved for younger players and veterans squarely on the bubble, with starters making little more than a cameo appearance — if that.

However, given the unprecedented nature of the 134-day lockout and the lack of a regular offseason, teams may elect to play starters more extensively. However, Ravens coach John Harbaugh wasn’t tipping his hand one way or the other in terms of his plans for the Atlanta Falcons on Thursday night.

So, how long should we expect to see the Baltimore starters?

“We’ll see. That’s what I think about it.”

With the Ravens signing Bryant McKinnie last week and veterans Matt Birk and Marshal Yanda just returning to the practice field on Saturday, concern exists over how quickly the offensive line can gel as the Pittsburgh Steelers come to town for the season opener on Sept. 11. Harbaugh is weighing his options in balancing live-game reps for the line with keeping everyone healthy in the final preseason game.

Thursday marks the last chance for rookies such as former Maryland receiver LaQuan Williams and veterans on the bubble such as linebackers Prescott Burgess and Tavares Gooden to make an impression with the coaching staff. For players fitting into these categories, the trip to Atlanta could be for their professional lives in some form or another.

“A great opportunity for the young guys, no doubt about it,” Harbaugh said. “They’ll be playing, obviously, a majority of the game. This is where guys get a chance to get on tape and live NFL action and prove to us and the rest of the league what they can do.”

Harbaugh would not budge from his stance, but the fourth-year coach acknowledged the need to vary his typical stance for the final preseason game.

“It is a little different,” Harbaugh said. “We’ll just have to see how we’re going to handle it. It’s to be determined. We talked about it, we’re figuring it out, but it’s different. That’s why it’s not just so cut-and-dry like it usually is.”

Apparently not.

Hear more from Harbaugh as well as rookie cornerback Jimmy Smith in the BuyAToyota.com Audio Vault right here.

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Live from Owings Mills: Heap set to return Sunday, E. Reed back at practice

Posted on 31 December 2010 by Luke Jones

OWINGS MILLS, Md. — Completing their final practice of the calendar year, the Ravens are aiming for a positive start to 2011 against the Cincinnati Bengals Sunday afternoon at M&T Bank Stadium.

Baltimore (11-4) saw two player return to the practice field Friday and appears to be in good shape physically for the regular-season finale. To no one’s surprise, safety Ed Reed (neck) was present at the open portion of practice, confirming speculation that Thursday was an impromptu day off for the veteran dealing with a number of ailments over the last few seasons.

“It was just precautionary,” coach John Harbaugh said. “He was a little bit tight, and we just felt like giving him a chance to recover a little bit and rest up. We do that with some guys this time of year.”

Also returning to the practice field was linebacker Prescott Burgess (illness) after missing two days with the flu bug that has worked its way through the training complex in Owings Mills in recent weeks.

Safety Tom Zbikowski (back) and linebacker Tavares Gooden (shoulder) did not practice and were the only players not participating fully in the Friday session. Zbikowski was not expected to play against the Bengals, but the team had some hope that Gooden might play before both players were ruled out in Friday afternoon’s injury report.

Receiver David Reed (head/wrist) practiced again and was returning kicks on Friday, a good indication that the rookie will return to action after sustaining a concussion against the New Orleans Saints in Week 15. However, he is listed as questionable on the official injury report.

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Heap set to return

After practicing fully all week, tight end Todd Heap declared himself ready to return Sunday after missing three straight games with a hamstring injury sustained against Pittsburgh on December 5. The veteran said he experienced no setbacks throughout the week while handling a full practice load.

Heap is listed as questionable, but all indications point to his return against the Bengals.

“I feel good,” Heap said. “Obviously, today we went pretty hard. I came out feeling really good. I ran well, and I’m looking forward to this weekend. We’ll see how it goes Sunday.”

Heap practiced on a limited basis last week, but the team held him out in the chilly conditions at Cleveland Browns Stadium. The training staff has used a day-by-day approach to monitor his recovery since injuring the hamstring on the first play of the game against the Steelers in Week 13.

“Feel good about [his return],” Harbaugh said. “We’ll wait and see how it feels [after Friday’s practice]. What we’ve done is checked it out after every practice the next day to see how it responds. So far so good.”

With the playoffs looming next week, Heap eyed a return in the regular-season finale to regain his footing within the offense and boost his confidence physically before the stakes become much higher in January.

Rookie Ed Dickson started the last three games in Heap’s absence, catching a touchdown against the New Orleans Saints in Week 15, but Baltimore tight ends went without a catch last week in Cleveland.

“That’s the biggest thing,” Heap said. “Getting your feet back under you, I definitely wanted to do that. The biggest thing for me is just make sure I’m full-go and I’m ready. Make sure the hamstring is feeling like it’s supposed to feel. I don’t want to do anything to set myself back. Still have to be smart.”

T.Ocho no-show

With Terrell Owens and Chad Ochocinco both out for Sunday’s game in Baltimore, the Bengals receiving corps will be much quieter, but the Ravens secondary will keep a close eye on the young group that’s produced in their place.

Third-year receiver Jerome Simpson caught six passes for 124 yards and two touchdowns in their win over the San Diego Chargers last week. Andre Caldwell was a thorn in the Ravens’ side in 2009, catching two touchdowns including the game-winning score in Baltimore.

“They have good receivers,” Harbaugh said. “They have good young guys who showed up pretty well last week. We’ll have to cover whoever they put out there, but I really like their talented young guys, and Carson [Palmer] seems comfortable with them.”

Scoreboard watching allowed

Ravens fans will certainly be keeping an eye on the happenings in Cleveland on Sunday, and Harbaugh and his team will have the opportunity to take a peak as well. When asked about Brian Billick’s past  requests that the out-of-town scores with playoff implications not be shown at M&T Bank Stadium, the current coach responded coyly.

“I didn’t know I had that kind of power,” said Harbaugh, drawing laughs from the media in attendance. “That’s good to know.”

Harbaugh said all week the Ravens will play the entire game like any other regular-season contest, regardless of what’s happening between the Browns and Steelers. However, he won’t prohibit anyone from following a major factor in the team’s playoff destination.

“I can see why you might do that, but we’ll let [the scores] be up there,” Harbaugh said. “I’m not worried about our players one bit. I know our guys will be focused, and they’re going to play the game.”

Injury report

RAVENS: OUT – S Tom Zbikowski (back), LB Tavares Gooden (shoulder) QUESTIONABLE – TE Todd Heap (thigh), WR David Reed (wrist/head) PROBABLE – C Matt Birk (knee), WR Derrick Mason (ankle/abs), CB Fabian Washington (back), LB Prescott Burgess (illness), TE Dennis Pitta (head), S Ed Reed (neck)

BENGALS: OUT – WR Chad Ochocinco (ankle) DOUBTFUL – TE Jermaine Gresham (knee) QUESTIONABLE – CB Johnathan Joseph (ankle), LB Dan Skuta (back) PROBABLE – DE Carlos Dunlap (shoulder), RB Bernard Scott (toe)

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The ‘fall’ of the Ravens defense started many Aprils ago

Posted on 17 November 2010 by Luke Jones

If you’ve been wearing out your Greg Mattison dartboard over the last several weeks, you’re probably not alone.

After all, the current Ravens defensive coordinator is solely responsible for the fall of a once-dominant unit all the way to 10th in the NFL, right?

(As an aside, how spoiled are we to be frustrated with a unit still better — statistically — than 22 other defenses in the league?)

From eliminating the submissive three-man rush to playing tighter, press coverage in the secondary, Marvin Lewis, Mike Nolan, or Rex Ryan would be coaching this defense to the elite level it enjoyed over the last decade instead of the mortal status it currently holds.

If only it were that simple.

Placing blame on a few individuals is common practice (Mattison, maligned cornerback Fabian Washington, and, until recently, “overrated” linebacker Terrell Suggs are popular targets these days), but the defensive problems run far deeper.

Personnel issues, aging stars, a key injury (anyone remember Domonique Foxworth?), and — perhaps — coaching shortcomings have left the Ravens with an above-average defense pursuing ghosts of dominance on the M&T Bank Stadium turf.

Truth be told, the current deterioration of the Baltimore defense began years ago, even while the unit was enjoying perennial elite status.

Anyone who’s followed Ozzie Newsome’s 15 years in Baltimore knows organizational success begins and ends in April. Shrewd trades and a sprinkling of free-agent signings have contributed over the years, but the Ravens have traditionally made their money with the NFL Draft, especially on the defensive side of the football.

Ngata
(Photo courtesy of ESPN.com)

And herein lies the problem with the current defense.

Since the Ravens drafted Suggs with the 10th overall pick in the 2003 draft, Newsome has used only one first-round pick on a defensive player, tackle Haloti Ngata in 2006.

By no means is that an indictment of Newsome, director of player personnel Eric DeCosta, and the scouting department in Owings Mills. The Ravens had no choice but to address the offensive side of the football in hopes of reaching the pinnacle of the NFL.

If defense alone truly wins championships, the Ravens would have a showcase full of Vince Lombardi Trophies in the lobby at 1 Winning Drive, but Baltimore has fallen short with a number of elite defenses, all because of offensive units that couldn’t get out of their own way.

As a result, the team has used five of its last six first-round picks on offensive players, including quarterback Joe Flacco (2008) and current starting linemen Ben Grubbs (2007) and Michael Oher (2009). Meanwhile, the defense largely maintained the status quo, carrying the mantra of dominance for years.

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Perhaps seeing leaks last season, the front office emphasized defense in April, drafting Sergio Kindle from Texas and the mammoth Terrence Cody from Newsome’s alma mater of Alabama. Ultimately, a draft’s success cannot be gauged for a few years, but the short-term return has been negligible halfway through the 2010 season.

In fairness, if you could have predicted Kindle’s fall down two flights of stairs in late July, forget about running an NFL front office; I’m asking you for this weekend’s winning lottery numbers.

Cody, on the other hand, still has time to contribute in the short-term and has played better in the Ravens’ last two games after a slow start to his professional career.

But one draft was not going to fix a philosophical shift in recent years that focused on offense with defensive upgrades taking a backseat. A simple look at the defensive picks in the Ravens’ first three rounds since 2004 shows the underwhelming results (the round in which the player was selected is noted in parentheses):

2004: DE Dwan Edwards (2nd)
2005: LB Dan Cody (2nd)
2006: DT Haloti Ngata (1st), CB David Pittman (3rd)
2007: None
2008: LB Tavares Gooden (3rd), S Tom Zbikowski (3rd)
2009: DE Paul Kruger (2nd), CB Lardarius Webb (3rd)
2010: LB Sergio Kindle (2nd), DT Terrence Cody (2nd)

Far more alarming than the lack of first-round selections is the volume of players who failed to make an impact as higher selections. Dan Cody (injuries) and Pittman (ineffectiveness) barely made it on the field in their brief time in Baltimore, and it remains unknown whether Kindle will ever play again, let alone contribute at a high level.

Other players, such as Edwards before signing with Buffalo last offseason, Gooden, and Kruger, have been little more than role players, contributing at times but failing to make a significant impact, though recent draft picks deserve more time to develop.

In contrast, a look at the Ravens’ defensive selections in the first three rounds from 1996 to 2003 shows a much different picture:

1996: LB Ray Lewis (1st), CB DeRon Jenkins (2nd)
1997: LB Peter Boulware (1st), LB Jamie Sharper (2nd), S Kim Herring (2nd)
1998: CB Duane Starks (1st)
1999: CB Chris McAlister (1st)
2000: None
2001: CB Gary Baxter (2nd)
2002: S Ed Reed (1st), DE Anthony Weaver (2nd)
2003: LB Terrell Suggs (1st)

The number of players chosen is similar (11 defensive players chosen in eight years compared to the 10 defenders selected in the seven drafts since 2004), but every player on the latter list started multiple seasons — many of them at elite levels — except Jenkins, who was largely considered a bust in his four years with the Ravens. Of course, the six first-rounds selections paid the largest dividends, but their other picks made significant contributions as well.

Looking at their draft record since 2004 and comparing it to the franchise’s first eight years in Baltimore reveals that in addition to the front office using fewer first-round picks on defensive players, it hasn’t been nearly as successful finding defensive talent in the second and third rounds, especially at cornerback where the unit currently struggles.

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ATLANTA - NOVEMBER 11: Roddy White  of the Atlanta Falcons pulls in this reception against Lardarius Webb  of the Baltimore Ravens at Georgia Dome on November 11, 2010 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

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Falcons win stunner over Ravens

Posted on 12 November 2010 by Chris Pika

It’s fortunate that the Ravens will have 10 days to regroup after a stunning 26-21 loss at Atlanta in a game that Baltimore seemingly had won with 1:05 to play in the Georgia Dome in a battle of two teams that seemed like mirror images of one another in 2010.

Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco and the Ravens offense had struggled for the better part of three quarters, trailing 13-0 before storming back with two touchdowns in a span of 4:37 late in the fourth quarter to take a 21-20 lead on a 9-yard TD catch by tight end Todd Heap.

ATLANTA - NOVEMBER 11: Roddy White  of the Atlanta Falcons pulls in this reception against Lardarius Webb  of the Baltimore Ravens at Georgia Dome on November 11, 2010 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

But the other quarterback in the constant comparison of 2008 first-round draft picks, Atlanta’s Matt Ryan, drove the Falcons 80 yards in seven plays and 45 seconds to win the game on a gutsy pass play to wide receiver Roddy White with 20 seconds left.

With Atlanta driving at the Baltimore 33 for what most thought would be a game-winning field goal attempt, Ryan rolled left and hit White at the 17, and White danced into the end zone for the 33-yard touchdown.

The Falcons were put in position to win on the previous play. Atlanta faced third-and-10 at the Ravens 41, and Ryan threw over the middle to tight end Tony Gonzalez, who was ridden to the turf for a defensive pass interference call on Baltimore’s Tavares Gooden.

The resulting 8-yard penalty gave the Falcons an automatic first down at the 33, and Atlanta cashed in. After the touchdown, the Falcons went for two points, but failed when Ed Reed picked off Ryan’s pass attempt.

Atlanta was also helped by an earlier third-and-10 catch for 24 yards by wide receiver Michael Jenkins during the drive. Jenkins appeared to juggle the ball as he went out of bounds. The replay booth upheld the call on the field, and the Falcons had a first down at their 44.

Baltimore’s David Reed made an ill-advised return of the ensuing kickoff, and was upended at the Ravens 9 with 16 seconds left. Three plays later, a fumble out of bounds after a catch by T.J. Houshmandzadeh ended a frustrating night for the Ravens.

The Ravens marched 72 yards in eight plays to take a 21-20 lead with 1:05 left. Flacco found wide receiver Anquan Boldin on a 9-yard pass on third down to the Atlanta 35 to keep the drive going. Three plays later, Flacco gunned a bullet into the end zone that Heap caught, but dropped to the ground after taking a couple of steps. The play was reviewed by the replay booth and upheld, and Billy Cundiff’s extra point gave Baltimore its first lead of the game.

But it was not enough as Ryan and the Falcons found a way through a tired Ravens defense at the end.

Ryan finished 32 of 50 passing for 316 yards and three touchdowns. White caught 12 of his 17 targeted passes for 138 yards and two scores.

Flacco finished 22 of 34 for 215 yards, three touchdowns and one interception. He hit eight different receivers, including Boldin five times for 50 yards and a touchdown, and Heap four times for 57 yards and the late TD.

Atlanta was held to 60 yards rushing on 23 carries – paced by Michael Turner’s 39 yards on 17 attempts, while Baltimore got 116 yards on 21 rushes, led by Ray Rice, who ran the ball 12 times for 59 yards.

It was obvious from the start that the Falcons wanted to throw the ball on offense after most expected Atlanta to try to use Turner a lot early on.

The first quarter was nothing more than a punt-fest as each team had to kick away twice. Sam Koch’s second punt pinned the Falcons at their 9 with 3:02 left in the quarter, but Ryan began to find his groove.

Ryan completed four consecutive passes as the first quarter ended with the Falcons sitting on the Ravens 44. Ryan kept passing, and eventually the Ravens were able to drop White for a four-yard loss back to the Ravens 28.

On the next play, Ryan rolled out and found backup running back Jason Snelling alone on the right side. Snelling caught the ball 4 yards past the line of scrimmage, got a head of steam, and broke the grasp of Dawan Landry to score on a 28-yard touchdown and a 7-0 lead with 11:24 left in the first half.

Baltimore did very little on their next possession, and a Koch punt pinned the Falcons deep again at their 7 midway through the second quarter.

Atlanta got out to their 27 and was forced to punt, but Lardarius Webb didn’t keep a strong hold on the ball during the return and it was stripped out. After a long discussion by Ron Winter’s officiating crew, the Falcons had recovered at the Ravens 43.

The Falcons methodically used the clock and took 12 plays, including a key third-down illegal contact call on Dannell Ellerbe, to stretch their lead to 10-0 just before the half on a Matt Bryant 28-yard field goal.

The Ravens had just 17 offensive plays in the half to Atlanta’s 43 (28 passes), and the Falcons had the ball for 21:14.

The Ravens second turnover of the game was costly as Flacco was picked off by Brent Grimes at the Baltimore 39 early in the third quarter. The Falcons needed just four plays for Bryant to kick a long 51-yard field goal for a 13-0 lead with 12:51 left.

Baltimore showed signs of life on its next possession as the Ravens went back to the run game. The Ravens moved 65 yards in 10 plays to score on a Flacco 5-yard pass to Boldin with 6:50 left in the quarter, as Baltimore cut the margin to 13-7.

In the fourth quarter, the Falcons were the recipient of a key call against Terrell Suggs. On third-and-10 at the Ravens’ 33, Suggs was flagged for a facemask penalty that gave the Falcons a first down at the Baltimore 13 after it was tacked on to the end of a 7-yard pass to Snelling.

Three plays later, Ryan rolled out and led White across the end zone for a 4-yard TD pass and a 20-7 lead with 11:34 left to go.

The Ravens took over after White’s TD, and Flacco moved the offense methodically on an 11-play, 75-yard drive, capped off by a 6-yard TD toss to Derrick Mason with 5:42 to play to pull Baltimore to 20-14.

Atlanta racked up 362 yards of total offense to Baltimore’s 320. The Falcons were 12 of 20 on third downs, and had the ball for 35:09. The Ravens were 6 for 11 on thirds, and were penalized six times for 51 yards.

The Ravens (6-3) will be back in action next Sunday against another NFC South foe, as Baltimore travels to Carolina. The Falcons (7-2) travel to St. Louis next Sunday.

For up-to-date Tweets on the NFL and the Ravens, please follow me on Twitter (@BlogAndTackle). For more national NFL stories, please visit my personal site at BlogAndTackle.net.

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Greatest Ravens by jersey number (41-60)

Posted on 27 August 2010 by Luke Jones

With Sports Illustrated releasing its list of all-time best NFL players by jersey number this week, I decided to look back at the 15-year history of the Baltimore Ravens to construct a list of the greatest players for Nos. 1-99.

Part 1 and Part 2 covered jersey numbers 1 through 40 if you missed them.

Part 3 (41-60) presents the most obvious choice on the list—who was also chosen as the greatest player to wear his number in the history of the National Football League—as well as two of the most obscure numbers in team history.

41 Frank Walker (2008-09)

He was never popular among fans due to his propensity for drawing penalty flags, but Walker was not as bad as some made him out to be. Injuries often forced the backup into starter duty where his weaknesses were exposed.

His only competition for this number was Ralph Staten, a once-promising safety who was jettisoned from the team due to character issues in the spring of 1999. Regardless of where you stand with Walker, he is a pretty clear choice and has at least one big fan on YouTube.

Knowing Walker, it would not be a complete shock to find out he made this video himself.

42 Anthony Mitchell (2000-02)

I went back and forth between Mitchell and fullback Lorenzo Neal, but Mitchell’s three seasons in Baltimore allowed him to grab the honor. Mitchell spent his first two seasons with the Ravens as a special teams contributor before his workload in the secondary increased in 2002, starting six games and grabbing three interceptions.

Of course, the mere mention of Mitchell makes Baltimore think about a certain blocked field goal return in Nashville (check the 3:30 mark).

43 Haruki Nakamura (2008-present)

Despite a promising future, Nakamura has done little to distinguish himself other than contributing on special teams in his first two seasons. However, it tops the work of other defensive backs like Vashone Adams and Anthony Poindexter.

44 Jason Brookins (2000-01)

The big tailback rushed for 551 yards in 2001, beating out the likes of Tony Vinson and Willie Gaston. Brookins is most remembered for leaving the Packers camp a year later after the staff asked him for his playbook, the traditional sign that a player is being cut. It turns out the coaching staff only wanted to add some new plays and by the time Brookins received the message, Green Bay coach Mike Sherman decided to cut the running back.

And the Baltimore coaching staff questioned his decision-making and intelligence while with the Ravens. Imagine that.

45 Corey Harris (1998-2001)

Harris

Harris spent most of his Ravens career as a backup and solid return man, but stepped up in a big way when safety Kim Herring went down with a sprained ankle in the 2000 playoffs. He started against Tennessee and Oakland and started all 16 at strong safety the following season.

46 B.J. Ward (2005)

The Florida State safety played in 15 games in 2005, making 11 tackles and forcing a fumble. Why is he the pick at No. 46? There is no record of any other player wearing the number in the regular season for the Ravens.

47 Will Demps (2002-2005)

The undrafted rookie was the surprise of training camp in 2002, not only winning a roster spot but becoming a starting safety next to Ed Reed for four seasons. Demps returned an interception for a touchdown in the Ravens’ only playoff game during his time in Baltimore, a 20-17 loss to the Titans in January 2004.

48 Frank Hartley (1996)

If linebacker Edgar Jones — who had previously worn Nos. 91 and 84 before switching to 48 this offseason — makes the 53-man roster this season, he immediately grabs the distinction. Until then, the tight end Hartley holds this spot despite never making a catch in eight games in 1996.

Don’t worry, I didn’t remember him either.

49 Chad Williams (2002-05)

Chad Williams

Williams is the easy choice after playing four seasons in Baltimore, registering eight interceptions and scoring three touchdowns as a backup safety.

50 Antwan Barnes (2007-present)

Though Dunbar graduate Tommy Polley and reserve linebacker Brad Jackson earn strong consideration, Barnes wins the honor with five career sacks and strong special teams play over his first three seasons with the Ravens. Despite a high ceiling, Barnes has yet to provide a consist impact as a pass rusher off the edge, something he hopes to change this season.

51 Cornell Brown (1997-2000, 2002-04)

Some will argue special teams standout Brendon Ayanbadejo for this spot, but Cornell Brown is the obvious choice despite wearing No. 90 in his second stint with the Ravens. Brown made 25 starts and was very good against the run, ofter sharing time with Peter Boulware when the Pro Bowl linebacker was ailing.

52 Ray Lewis (1996-present)

Never mind that Lewis was selected by SI.com as the best ever to wear the jersey number in the NFL. When you think of the Baltimore Ravens, No. 52 is the image that overwhelmingly comes to mind.

One of the greatest defensive players ever.

53 Jameel McClain (2008-present)

Tyrell Peters, T.J. Slaughter, and the injury-cursed Dan Cody also wore the number, but McClain has done just enough in special teams and passing downs to grab the distinction. His stature can rise even higher if he earns the starting job at inside linebacker this season.

54 Roderick Green (2004-05)

Green never realized his full potential as a Raven, but he is a marginally-better choice than Tyrus McCloud, Shannon Taylor, or current linebacker Prescott Burgess for No. 54.

55 Terrell Suggs (2003-present)

Many feel Suggs has never lived up the hype or the record-setting contract inked in 2009, but he is one of the most complete outside linebackers in the league when healthy and motivated. His two-sack performance against the Steelers in the AFC Championship two seasons ago was borderline heroic after sustaining a shoulder injury against the Titans a week earlier.

More sentimental fans will argue for Jamie Sharper — who would be a unanimous choice for any linebacker number other than 55, 52, or 58 — but Suggs has had the superior career.

56 Ed Hartwell (2001-04)

Hartwell put his name on the Baltimore linebacker map when he led the team in tackles in 2002 after Ray Lewis was sidelined with a shoulder injury. A good linebacker in his own right, Hartwell was overshadowed in his last two seasons with the Ravens, a palpable frustration he even voiced before departing for Atlanta in 2005.

57 Bart Scott (2002-08)

Just as popular with the media as he was with the fans, Scott was an undrafted linebacker who made himself into a Pro Bowl force during his seven seasons with the Ravens. His “hot sauce” tackle of Reggie Bush gained notoriety, but the linebacker will always be remembered for a hit he laid on a certain Pittsburgh quarterback.

The number is currently reserved in honor of the heroic O.J. Brigance — who is certainly deserving as he continues to fight ALS — but Brigance would be the first to tell you Scott is the greatest Raven to don the No. 57.

58 Peter Boulware (1997-2005)

Boulware

The franchise’s all-time sack leader dealt with knee and shoulder injuries during his career, but he was a force as a pass rusher and made himself into an every-down linebacker after playing defensive end at Florida State. Boulware earned four trips to the Pro Bowl, won the 1997 Defensive Rookie of the Year, and is a member of the Ravens Ring of Honor.

59 Dannell Ellerbe (2009-present)

Ellerbe

Prior to the 2009 season, long snapper Joe Maese (2001-04) was the clear-cut selection here, but the undrafted Ellerbe made the 53-man roster and eventually wrestled away the starting inside linebacker spot from Tavares Gooden in the final month of his rookie season. Ellerbe’s interception against Oakland in Week 17 helped preserve a 21-13 win and a postseason berth for the 9-7 Ravens.

60 Jason Brown (2005-08)

Super Bowl-winning center Jeff Mitchell was blossoming into a Pro Bowl-caliber player before signing with the Carolina Panthers in 2001, allowing Jason Brown to seize recognition for this number. Drafted in the fourth round in 2005, Brown began his NFL career at left guard before moving to his college position of center in 2008. It earned him a huge payday with the St. Louis Rams the following offseason, as the Ravens could not afford to keep Brown.

Next up: For numbers 61-80, we will dive into the trenches with the offensive line, with a few obvious choices and several integers where we need to look long and hard to find a representative.

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Ravens Training Camp: The impressive and disappointing

Posted on 20 August 2010 by Luke Jones

Another Westminster training camp has concluded with the Ravens now focusing their attention to the final three games of the preseason before the 2010 regular season gets underway against the New York Jets on Sept. 13.

Saturday night’s meeting with the Washington Redskins will be a key audition for  bubble players as coach John Harbaugh has already stated how important the second preseason game is for evaluating rookies and reserve veterans fighting for a roster spot.

Much will change before the initial cutdown to 75 players takes place on Aug. 31 and the final cut to 53 on Sept. 4, but here’s a breakdown of players—by position—who impressed and disappointed in Westminster.

QUARTERBACKS
Impressed: Joe Flacco is an easy choice after a strong camp with his new offensive weapons. The third-year quarterback still must prove he can read and throw to the middle of the field, but Anquan Boldin and a strong group of tight ends will certainly help.

Disappointed: Troy Smith knew his standing in the organization changed dramatically after the acquisition of Marc Bulger, and the former Heisman Trophy winner did nothing to push the veteran for the backup job. Smith lacks size and was too erratic in Westminster. He will stick as the No. 3 quarterback, but his performance made the Ravens look very wise for signing Bulger.

RUNNING BACKS
Impressed: Hard to go with anyone but Ray Rice at this spot despite Willis McGahee looking solid and healthy as well. Rice looked to be in mid-season form the first day veterans reported to Westminster. It will be another Pro Bowl season for the third-year back if he remains healthy.

Disappointed: Not his fault, but Matt Lawrence’s chance of making the 53-man roster continues to diminish as he remains on the physically unable to perform list. He is a capable special teams player when healthy, but this summer’s roster is too deep.

WIDE RECEIVERS
Impressed: Everyone assumed Mark Clayton would be cast aside in the offense when the Ravens acquired Boldin and Donte’ Stallworth, but the former starter had a strong training camp, catching everything thrown his way. Stallworth was the logical choice as the No. 3 receiver, but Clayton received more reps in three-wide sets over the final two weeks of camp.

Disappointed: The Ravens loved what they saw out of David Reed during the OTA schedule, but the rookie failed to adjust to the quicker speed of training camp. Considered a sure-handed receiver coming out of Utah, Reed dropped countless passes and was not been given much of a look as a kick returner. Demetrius Williams is clearly ahead of Reed in the battle for the fifth receiver spot.

TIGHT ENDS
Impressed: Ed Dickson looked more like an established—not to mention explosive—veteran than a rookie on the upper fields at McDaniel College. The 6-foot-4 Dickson has tremendous size and great speed for a tight end. His versatility will be a welcome addition when the Ravens use him in two-tight end sets and at H-back on occasion. On a side note, Todd Heap had an excellent camp, showing he’s still capable of producing when healthy.

Disappointed: Already facing an uphill battle to make the roster after the drafting of Dickson and Dennis Pitta, Davon Drew was not able to stay on the field this summer. Drew showed more consistency than he did last season as a rookie, but it’s difficult to make the team when you’re never on the field. He’ll need to get healthy and make an impact in the remaining preseason games.

OFFENSIVE LINEMEN
Impressed: Fellow guard Ben Grubbs earns more notoriety, but Marshal Yanda was ferocious in Westminster, proving he’s all the way back from the horrific knee injury he suffered two seasons ago. Yanda anchored and stood up Terrence Cody during a 1-on-1 drill in one of the highlights of the summer, just a couple plays after the 350-pounder had blown up the highly-regarded Grubbs.

Disappointed: Showing up 30 pounds lighter without the coaching staff’s approval and injuring his back on the first day of full-team workouts made Jared Gaither a slam-dunk choice. Not only are there concerns whether he’ll be ready by Week 1, but he’s missed valuable time to adjust to the right tackle position.

DEFENSIVE LINE
Impressed: He got off to a slow start while adjusting to playing with the 15 extra pounds he gained in the offseason, but Paul Kruger became a force on the defensive line, off the edge and even sliding to the inside in the nickel package. If Kruger can replicate what he showed in Westminster over the last two weeks, the Ravens will have another factor in the pass rush.

Disappointed: None. This is the deepest unit on the team. The only disappointment on the defensive line is the reality that the organization will have to cut a couple of talented players due to numbers.

LINEBACKERS
Impressed: His performance in the Carolina game aside, Jameel McClain was the biggest surprise of camp over the first three weeks, working at inside linebacker with the first defense. McClain played the run well and showed competence in pass coverage, but it did not carry over against the Panthers in the preseason opener. The competition for the starting job next to Ray Lewis is still wide open. Antwan Barnes earns an honorable mention.

Disappointed: The likely favorite to win the second inside linebacker spot prior to camp, Dannell Ellerbe came to Westminster out of shape and trailed McClain and Tavares Gooden for much of the way. Ellerbe improved his standing as the weeks progressed, but it was apparent how unhappy the coaching staff was as Ellerbe worked with the second defense in Westminster.

CORNERBACKS
Impressed: Expected to be brought back slowly, Fabian Washington provided a much-needed lift to the secondary when he returned to the field during the first week of camp. Washington appeared quick and made more plays as the weeks progressed. He will see his first game action against the Redskins on Saturday night and will be relied upon to be the team’s top corner, even if he’s nowhere near a true No. 1.

Disappointed: The injury to Domonique Foxworth is most appropriate here, but the brief eight-day stint of Walt Harris takes the cake in this department. He was unable to show he had anything left in the tank despite a solid career. And it’s tough labeling the likes of Doug Dutch and Chris Hawkins as disappointments if you never had any expectations to begin with.

SAFETY
Impressed: While no one compares to Ed Reed, Tom Zbikowski eased concerns at the position with a very strong showing in Westminster. Zbikowski is faster and showed a strong nose for the football this summer after doing an adequate job in Reed’s place for four games last season. Despite not knowing the status of its future Hall of Famer, this unit of safeties looks very sound with Zbikowski and Dawan Landry anchoring the secondary.

Disappointed: Though labeling him a disappointment is bit strong, Ken Hamlin has done little to challenge Zbikowski for the free safety position, partly because the latter was excellent in practice. Hamlin was solid, but unspectacular, running with the second defense. The former Cowboy has great size (6-foot-2) but needs to show a stronger special teams presence to stick around when Reed returns to the field.

SPECIALISTS
Impressed: Yes, he’s younger, cheaper, and healthier, but the Ravens clearly loved what they saw from Morgan Cox to have jettisoned veteran Matt Katula two days after the preseason opener. Fans can only hope we won’t hear his name again all season.

Disappointed: Though he’s kicked reasonably well, the Ravens certainly wished Shayne Graham had seized early control of the competition with Billy Cundiff. Until the final two days of camp, Cundiff had outperformed the former Bengal by a slight margin. Graham struggled with field goals outside 45 yards in Westminster but kicked better during the practice at M&T Bank Stadium. The smart money is still on Graham to be the kicker, but the battle has been closer than most people thought.

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Live from Westminster: Webb still on PUP, “very close” to returning

Posted on 19 August 2010 by Luke Jones

WESTMINSTER, Md. — The Ravens concluded their final morning practice at McDaniel College without a single player leaving the field with an injury.

They also appear to be regaining a key member of their secondary in the near future.

Despite speculation that Lardarius Webb would come off the Physically Unable to Perform list on Thursday, the second-year cornerback did not practice, but the Ravens hope Webb can return to practice before the team’s third preseason game against the New York Giants.

“He’s very close,” John Harbaugh said. “He’s right there. That’s up to the doctors to make the decision about when he practices, but he’s right there and I know he wants to practice.”

Webb said earlier in the week he did not want to play in the preseason, citing a desire not to rush his surgically-repaired right knee, but both Harbaugh and Webb have backed off those comments slightly. The cornerback has been working on his conditioning and lateral movement on a regular basis, with his most intense work coming Wednesday afternoon.

“I’m just working on my confidence [in my knee] right now,” Webb said.

The cornerback did not want to discuss specifics about his progress or a time frame for his return, only saying the knee is “coming along” several times and deferring to Harbaugh for any other questions about his return.

“I was taught not to talk as much,” said Webb, clarifying his brief answers to the media. “I got in trouble for talking to you all one time. They said I said something, so I have to keep everything short right now. So that’s why you’re getting the short answers.”

As Webb continues to move closer to a return, cornerback Chris Carr practiced fully for the first time since playing briefly in the preseason opener last Thursday. Carr says his injured left hamstring is feeling much better but will see how he feels on Saturday before determining how much he’ll play in the second preseason game.

“I felt pretty good out here,” Carr said following the Thursday morning practice. “The last couple days I came out here and practiced a little bit and did some conditioning. During my exercises and stuff, my hamstring felt just as strong as my right one does. That was a good sign, so I felt pretty confident coming out here today being able to do everything.”

Center Matt Birk (neck), linebacker Prescott Burgess (undisclosed), and defensive tackle Brandon McKinney (knee) returned to the practice field as well as linebacker Tavares Gooden (neck) and fullback Le’Ron McClain (back/upper leg), though both were limited.

Receiver Mark Clayton and tight end Ed Dickson were new absences from practice. Clayton is dealing with “soreness” in his legs, according to Harbaugh, though he had his right ankle taped on Wednesday morning.

Dickson is dealing with an issue in the hip flexor and groin region and was held out by Harbaugh despite the rookie’s wishes to return to the practice field after sitting out a special teams workout on Wednesday afternoon. The injury is not considered to be serious.

“That was my call [on holding Dickson out],” Harbaugh said. “I just don’t want him to do anything to that that’s more serious.”

Others absent from practice included tight end Davon Drew (hamstring), defensive back Marcus Paschal (leg), and offensive linemen David Hale (tailbone), Oniel Cousins (headache), Daniel Sanders (arm), and Stefan Rodgers (arm).

In addition to Webb, safety Ed Reed (hip), running back Matt Lawrence (knee), and linebacker Brendon Ayanbadejo (quadriceps) remain on the active PUP list.

Stay right here for updates (time-stamped below) and visit the BuyAToyota.com Audio Vault to hear Harbaugh, Webb, Carr, and linebacker Dannell Ellerbe as well as Le’Ron McClain’s conversation with Thyrl Nelson.

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1:50 p.m. — Players practiced in shells and shorts with only two days remaining until the second preseason game against the Redskins.

Cornerback Travis Fisher was picked on quite a bit during practice, being beaten by Anquan Boldin, Demetrius Williams, and Donte’ Stallworth in a 10-minute span at one point during the morning session. Perhaps it’s the curse of No. 41 (see Frank Walker).

With Tavares Gooden being limited as he continues to rest his neck, Dannell Ellerbe took the reps at inside linebacker with the first team.

Chris Carr played the nickel spot when the Ravens ran their three-cornerback packages with Cary Williams and Fisher rotating on the outside.

Offensively, Boldin, Stallworth, and Williams were in on three-wide sets with Derrick Mason resting and Mark Clayton out with a sore ankle. This was just the latest indication that Williams has solidified his role as the No. 5 receiver with rookie David Reed struggling during training camp.

1:45 p.m. — Billy Cundiff has held a slight edge over Shayne Graham in the kicking competition thus far, but the former struggled considerably on the final day of workouts in Westminster.

Cundiff missed from 38 and 53 yards and hit the left upright on another late attempt at the end of practice while Shayne Graham connected from 48 and 53 yards despite missing a long attempt of his own before the conclusion of practice.

With our daily kicking updates coming to an end, we’ll have to rely on the kickers’ performance in the final three preseason games, which will carry far more weight in determining who will be the guy on Sept. 13 against the New York Jets.

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Live from Westminster: Ravens honor military at McDaniel

Posted on 17 August 2010 by Luke Jones

WESTMINSTER, Md. — With hundreds of military personnel on hand, the Ravens were back on the practice field Tuesday afternoon in preparation for the second preseason game against the Washington Redskins.

Players such as defensive tackle Kelly Gregg (below) signed autographs for uniformed military and their families for nearly an hour following a practice that lasted over two hours in the sweltering heat.

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“It’s just a real special day,” coach John Harbaugh said. “We’re real proud of what all the personnel in the military all across the country and overseas has done for us. We just can’t thank them enough for their service, for the sacrifices the families make.”

Offensive lineman David Hale was absent from practice with a “bruised” tailbone sustained after defensive tackle Haloti Ngata landed on top of him in a pass-rushing drill during Monday’s morning practice. The key reserve lineman has not yet undergone an MRI or CAT scan to determine whether the tailbone is fractured, according to Harbaugh.

Concerns exist that it might be a long-term injury, a potential damaging blow given Hale’s versatility for an offensive line already dealing with the absence of Jared Gaither for the remainder of the preseason.

“I really don’t know,” said Harbaugh when asked if Hale’s injury might be season-ending. “We haven’t gotten an MRI yet, so I wouldn’t be writing that yet.”

Center Matt Birk missed his third straight practice with tightness in his neck. The 13-year veteran has not practiced since the preseason opener last Thursday. Birk started training camp on the physically unable to perform list after undergoing an elbow procedure in the offseason.

“[Birk’s] going to be a guy we’re going to be very judicious with throughout training camp and even throughout the season,” Harbaugh said. “I don’t think a lot of practice is what he needs. He’s up there [in years]. When you play on the offensive line that many years, you want to be smart with those guys and how many contact reps they take.”

Ngata returned to practice after sitting out the latter portion of Monday’s practice following the collision with Hale. The Pro Bowl tackle appeared to be favoring his left wrist but showed no signs of injury on Tuesday.

Also back at practice was offensive tackle Oniel Cousins, who walked off the field with a member of the staff toward the end of practice after a skirmish with linebacker Jameel McClain earlier in the Monday morning workout. Cousins managed to get into another scuffle Tuesday, this time with linebacker Edgar Jones despite it being a lighter shells-and-shorts workout. The third-year tackle, who continues to fill in for Gaither at right tackle, has earned a reputation for mixing it up with teammates in his brief career.

“I don’t know, they might be coming after me,” said Cousins, drawing laughter from media members. “For some reason, everybody’s always trying to fight with me, I don’t know why. We’re just out there having fun. I don’t know, it’s just a practice. It’s hot and everybody’s out there getting after it.”

Cornerback Chris Carr was a limited participant during Tuesday’s practice, doing individual work but sitting out full-team drills. In addition to Hale and Birk, tight end Davon Drew (hamstring), defensive back Marcus Paschal (leg), defensive tackle Brandon McKinney (knee), offensive linemen Daniel Sanders (arm) and Stefan Rodgers (arm), and offensive tackle Jared Gaither (back) did not practice.

Stay right here for more (time-stamped below) and visit the BuyAToyota.com Audio Vault to hear more from Harbaugh, Cousins, quarterback coach Jim Zorn, and tight end Todd Heap’s conversation from the field with Rex Snider.

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8:45 p.m. — The daily installment of the kicking competition brought similar results to what we’ve seen throughout the summer.

Billy Cundiff and Shayne Graham were each perfect on five attempts, with both men connecting from 48 and 51 yards. The Ravens will likely alternate kicks between the two as they did in the preseason opener against Carolina.

8:35 p.m — The star of Tuesday’s practice—on and off the field—was veteran tight end Todd Heap, who made three spectacular catches while looking like the tight end who made consecutive Pro Bowls in 2002 and 2003.

Heap made a leaping, one-handed catch over the middle early in practice and beat cornerback Travis Fisher on a sideline route for a long gain. The 10-year veteran finished off his finest practice of the summer with a catch in the back of the end zone over cornerback Brad Jones.

Following practice, Heap signed autographs for military personnel for nearly 45 minutes before joining Rex Snider on AM 1570 WNST. You can hear the conversation in its entirety in the BuyAToyota.com Audio Vault.

While Heap shined on Tuesday, rookie David Reed’s struggles continued as the receiver dropped two passes, one of them leading to a Cary Williams’ interception on a pass thrown by Troy Smith.

After an impressive start in Westminster, Reed has struggled to catch the ball consistently, leaving his status in doubt with Demetrius Williams performing well in his efforts to grab the fifth receiver spot on the roster. Expected to be a contender to return kicks, Reed has not received many opportunities during special teams practices.

8:15 p.m. — Tuesday’s practice provided more confirmation for a possible shift in the team’s depth chart at inside linebacker.

Tavares Gooden—practicing without the red non-contact jersey—lined up next to Ray Lewis in the starting defense, another indication that Jameel McClain has lost the stronghold he enjoyed through the first three weeks of training camp. Dannell Ellerbe took reps with the starting defense on Monday as McClain worked at outside linebacker with the second unit.

Much of the defensive work, however, came in nickel and dime packages, and Gooden is considered the strongest of the three in pass coverage.

Needless to say, it will be interesting seeing who lines up with the starting unit in the team’s second preseason game against the Redskins on Saturday night.

8:05 p.m. — John Harbaugh responded to cornerback Lardarius Webb’s comments from Monday that expressed he did not want to play in the preseason and wants to be cautious in returning from an ACL injury sustained late last season. Webb’s rehab is ahead of schedule and could be activated from the PUP list in the near future.

“I think we are going to be cautious with [Webb],” Harbaugh said. “If he can play in the preseason and we feel very comfortable there’s not going to be a setback, we’ll do it. If we think there’s any possibility of a setback—reasonable possibility—we’ll probably just save him [for the regular season].”

Webb has worked out regularly on the side field during training camp, working on conditioning and agility to strengthen his surgically-repaired right knee.

Running back Matt Lawrence (knee) and linebacker Brendon Ayanbadejo (quadriceps) remain on the PUP list but were running on the side during Tuesday’s practice. Neither player has been very active during practices in Westminster, and Ayanbadejo was just recently cleared to begin running full-speed.

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