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Ravens-Browns: Five predictions for Sunday

Posted on 10 October 2015 by Luke Jones

Hosting Cleveland has been the Ravens’ closest experience to a homecoming game for more than 15 years.

Owning a 13-3 all-time mark over the Browns in Baltimore and winning 13 of the last 14 meetings overall, the Ravens have appeared to barely break a sweat if you only look at the win-loss record. But the narrative has changed ever so slightly with five of the last seven games being decided by one possession.

In the 2014 regular-season finale at M&T Bank Stadium, the Ravens trailed Cleveland in the fourth quarter before scoring 17 points to send them to victory and their sixth trip to the playoffs in seven years. Now, both teams are fighting for their 2015 lives with matching 1-3 records and plenty of question marks on both sides of the ball.

It’s time to go on the record as the Ravens try to overcome injuries to Steve Smith and Crockett Gillmore to improve their all-time record to 25-8 over the Browns and climb back into the early AFC playoff race.

Here’s what to expect as the Ravens look to win their first game in Baltimore this season …

1. Justin Forsett will eclipse the 100-yard rushing mark for the second consecutive week. There’s a danger here of offensive coordinator Marc Trestman trying to outsmart himself as one could argue that the Ravens should come out throwing while Cleveland stacks the box trying to stop the run with Smith out. But why mess around when the Browns ranked last in the NFL in run defense last year and are 31st so far in 2015? Baltimore will use play-action fakes and Flacco will take shots here and there, but the Browns need to prove they can stop the run first and the Ravens will pound the ball until that happens. The offensive line play will pick up where it left off in Pittsburgh last week.

2. Browns running back Duke Johnson and tight end Gary Barnidge will combine to make 10 catches for 120 yards and a touchdown. Cleveland has allowed 14 sacks in four games this year and will be focused on stopping Elvis Dumervil coming off the edge, leading to lots of chips by Barnidge before quarterback Josh McCown checks down to him with short passes. The rookie Johnson has also proven to be an effective target out of the backfield, which could create issues for C.J. Mosley and Daryl Smith. With the Ravens devoting safety attention to the big-play capability of Travis Benjamin, Browns tight ends and running backs will have more success in the passing game.

3. Darren Waller will catch the first touchdown of his NFL career. Anyone telling you they have a good idea how the passing game is going to shake out on Sunday is only guessing as you just don’t remove a talent like Smith from the equation without major adjustments needing to be made. Kamar Aiken will receive opportunities as the No. 1 guy, but his performances against Denver (one catch for minus-1 yard) and Cincinnati (zero catches) make it difficult to trust him. After making his first NFL reception on the Ravens’ game-tying drive at the end of regulation a week ago, the 6-foot-6 Waller will catch his first touchdown as Flacco throws him a pretty fade inside the red zone in the first half.

4. Brandon Williams and Timmy Jernigan will each collect their first sack of the 2015 season. Defensive coordinator Dean Pees will try his best to move Dumervil away from Joe Thomas, but the Ravens need to continue to get inside pressure to minimize the glaring void left behind by Terrell Suggs. Za’Darius Smith provided the boost last week, but it will be Williams and Jernigan stepping up on Sunday. More of a run-stopping tackle, Williams has had a Pro Bowl-caliber season and has been the Ravens’ best defensive player in 2015. Meanwhile, Jernigan’s second season has been a disappointment so far as he’s fallen behind rookie Carl Davis and needs a strong performance against the Browns.

5. The better quarterback and the team with the home-field advantage will do enough to earn a 20-13 win. It’s unfair to expect too much from Joe Flacco when you look at the group of pass-catchers he’ll be throwing to on Sunday, but he needs to limit his mistakes, something he didn’t do in Pittsburgh last week. He won’t post gaudy numbers, but Flacco will play smarter football than McCown and the Baltimore defense will clamp down on a Cleveland offense short on playmakers in a sometimes-ugly, points-challenged contest. Neither team has shown many signs of being a good football team so far, but the Ravens own the edge playing at home in Week 5 and they’ll take advantage of it.

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With pains at receiver, Ravens facing Cleveland at perfect time

Posted on 06 October 2015 by Luke Jones

Expecting to take the field without the services of Steve Smith on Sunday, the Ravens are hurting at the wide receiver position entering Week 5.

Their projected No. 1 receiver against the Browns, Kamar Aiken, has just 11 receptions for 165 yards and a touchdown through the first four games of the season. Those numbers don’t even match what the 36-year-old Smith did in Week 3 against Cincinnati alone.

That’s why the Ravens’ 191-yard rushing performance in last Thursday’s win at Pittsburgh couldn’t have come at a better time. Prior to Week 4, Baltimore had averaged just 3.3 yards per carry in its 0-3 start, perhaps the most surprising development of the early season.

Now, head coach John Harbaugh hopes the ground performance against the Steelers is a sign of better things to come.

“Sometimes you have to keep pounding that rock,” Harbaugh said. “They made a lot of plays against the run — especially early — and finally it kind of opened up toward the end there a little bit more. But it’s always important for us. It’s something that we count on doing well, and we need to continue to improve. I don’t think we’re where we need to be with the run game, yet. That’s something we need to continue to work on really hard.”

With Smith sidelined and starting tight end Crockett Gillmore still recovering from a calf injury, the Ravens are playing the 1-3 Browns at a perfect time. Cleveland brings the league’s 32nd-ranked defense in total yards and its rush defense ranks 31st in giving up 141.5 yards per game.

The Browns rank 29th in allowing 4.8 yards per carry, which comes a year after their defense surrendered more rushing yards than any team in the NFL. Those 2014 struggles prompted the selection of defensive tackle Danny Shelton with the 12th overall pick of this spring’s draft, but the 339-pounder’s presence has yet to make a major difference for the Browns’ front.

Of course, quarterback Joe Flacco and the Ravens will need to do enough through the air to prevent the Cleveland defense from consistently stacking the box, but there appears to be little reason why Justin Forsett, Lorenzo Taliaferro, and Buck Allen won’t find running room to move the chains and take pressure off an undermanned group of pass-catchers. The Ravens will need a produtive running game moving forward, especially until Smith is ready to return to action.

Even if they’re playing at M&T Bank Stadium where the Browns haven’t won since 2007, Harbaugh made it clear that the Ravens are in no position to take Cleveland lightly.

“I mean, hey, we’re 1-3, too,” Harbaugh said. “We have two 1-3 teams going at it here. We’re battling to be third place in the division right now. That’s where we stand, and that’s a tall order and we have work to do. But they have a heck of a front seven. They have good pass rushers on both edges. They have some of the most talented secondary players in the league, and we’ve seen them up close and personal every time we play them.”

Pass-rushing reinforcements

The Ravens enter Week 5 tied for sixth in the NFL with 11 sacks, but the pass rush remains a topic of concern for the league’s 16th-ranked pass defense.

The good news was the boost defensive coordinator Dean Pees received from Za’Darius Smith, who collected the first two sacks of his NFL career in the third quarter of the win at Pittsburgh. In 19 snaps, the rookie collected two other tackles in addition to his takedowns of Mike Vick, flashing the skills he showed at Kentucky that prompted the Ravens to draft him in the fourth round.

“I think he has really been ramping up his intensity level,” Harbaugh said, “how he plays from one play to the next, understanding at this level the edge that you have to play on to be successful, and how hard you have to play. He applied that in that Pittsburgh game better than he has at any point in time. He has always been good, but not really good enough to make a difference until this game, and that was really good to see.”

With Elvis Dumervil and Courtney Upshaw taking on heavier workloads since the season-ending injury to Terrell Suggs, the Ravens need Za’Darius Smith and veteran Jason Babin to be productive when asked to spell the starters.

Making his Ravens debut after being inactive for two games, Babin only played seven snaps and did not record any official statistics, but Pro Football Focus credited him with a quarterback hurry.

“He was really disciplined with his pass rush,” Harbaugh said. “The thing we asked our guys to do in this game was be very disciplined with their pass rush and treat it almost like run defense, because you have  a guy back there who can throw and can run and can really hurt you with him arm and with his legs.”

Challenging Jernigan

One of the quieter stories of the early season has been the demotion of second-year defensive tackle Timmy Jernigan, who has been replaced by rookie Carl Davis in the base defense in each of the last two games.

The 2014 second-round pick missed the season opener with a knee injury and started against Oakland in Week 2, but a foolish roughing-the-passer penalty on the Raiders’ game-winning drive landed him behind Davis on the depth chart. Jernigan played just 17 of 63 defensive snaps against the Steelers, but the Ravens will need him to be a major part of their inside pass rush as the season progresses.

“Timmy is getting better and better,” Harbaugh said. “He really stepped it up the last week or so — in practice and in games. He’s very capable of being a real factor inside there, and it’s especially true when he plays a certain way, when he really gets after it, when he cuts it loose. That’s what we’re trying to get him to do — get off the ball, get off blocks, run to the football, be a physical force in there, and play fast.

“Sometimes, too much thinking is not good. He knows the defense now, and we expect him to play with a real high motor. And when he does that, he’s very effective.”

Returning questions in return game

With Michael Campanaro now out for the season with a back injury, the Ravens have gone back to the drawing board with their return game.

The latest depth chart lists veteran Lardarius Webb as the No. 1 punt returner, but the kick returner is listed as “to be determined.” Newly-acquired Chris Givens has experience returning kicks in St. Louis while Taliaferro and Allen also practiced handling kickoffs over the summer.

However, the Ravens’ best option might be on their practice squad where receiver Jeremy Ross currently resides. Ross returned kicks and punts in Detroit for two years and scored a touchdown doing each during the 2013 season.

“We’ll look at all our options. We have guys on the roster that can do it,” Harbaugh said. “Chris is a guy that can do it, too, as far as the kick return stuff. We’ll just see where we’re at come Sunday on that, but it could be someone here. Obviously, it could be somebody outside, too.”

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Five numbers behind Ravens’ 37-33 loss in Oakland

Posted on 22 September 2015 by Luke Jones

Every week, we’ll examine five numbers stemming from the Ravens’ latest game, this one being the surprising 37-33 loss at Oakland in Week 2 …

1 — Combined tackles from Brandon Williams, Timmy Jernigan, and Carl Davis
Skinny: With issues at outside linebacker due to the season-ending injury to Terrell Suggs, the Ravens need the early-round draft investments they’ve made on the defensive line to come up big and they didn’t in Oakland. The lack of a pass rush and poor coverage in the secondary were bad enough, but the Ravens also allowed 5.1 yards per carry, much of that due to the ineffectiveness of the defensive line.

10 — Years it’s been since the Ravens started a season 0-2
Skinny: Maybe the Ravens should refrain from wearing the commemorative jersey patches for their 20th season in Baltimore. They also wore a jersey patch in 2005 for their 10th season in Charm City when they last started 0-2. It’s certainly been a credit to the organization that 0-2 starts have been few and far between, but the timing of the last two are a strange coincidence.

11 — Missed tackles by the Ravens counted by Pro Football Focus
Skinny: Truthfully, you might have expected the number to be even higher as Baltimore posted its highest total of tackling miscues since last season’s Week 9 debacle in Pittsburgh. Much attention has been paid to the lack of a pass rush on Sunday, but the poor tackling on short passes was even more detrimental since the ball was coming out quickly quite often.

62 — Snaps played by Elvis Dumervil
Skinny: This was Dumervil’s highest single-game total in his three seasons with the Ravens and is a concern as the defense tries to account for Suggs’ absence on the field. Baltimore needs to have the fresh Dumervil who collected the franchise’s single-season record with 17 sacks a year ago. A worn-down version of him trying to be Suggs will only make the pass rush worse over the course of the season.

351 — Net passing yards for Derek Carr and the Raiders offense
Skinny: Why is this number significant? It’s the highest total allowed by a Baltimore defense against a non-Pro Bowl quarterback since rookie Andy Dalton and Cincinnati finished with 364 net passing yards on Nov. 20, 2011. If you want to eliminate Dalton since he made his first Pro Bowl later that season, Ryan Fitzpatrick would be the last signal-caller never to make a Pro Bowl to post that many net passing yards against the Ravens when he finished with 382 as Buffalo’s quarterback on Oct. 24, 2010.

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Harbaugh: “Our defense has to step up and play like the Ravens play”

Posted on 21 September 2015 by Luke Jones

OWINGS MILLS, Md. — John Harbaugh didn’t mince words in assessing a defense that allowed 37 points in Sunday’s disappointing loss to the Oakland Raiders to drop the Ravens’ record to 0-2.

The performance was out of character for a franchise known for its defensive tradition over 20 seasons in Baltimore. The eighth-year head coach put his players and coaches on notice that the defense needs to be fixed quickly as the Ravens now try to become the 25th 0-2 team to bounce back to make the playoffs since 1990.

“If we’re going to have a chance to be a successful football team, our defense has to step up and play like the Ravens play,” Harbaugh said. “That’s the expectation. That’s where the bar is set, and we’re going to have the guys out there that do that. And it’s on us as coaches to put the right guys out there, teach them to do the right things, and have the right schemes in place.”

Not only were the Ravens playing an Oakland offense that was shut out by Cincinnati through three quarters the previous week, but they was feeling confident about a defense that didn’t allow an offensive touchdown against future Hall of Famer Peyton Manning and a talented Denver offense in the season opener.

Against the Raiders offense, however, everything went wrong as second-year quarterback Derek Carr threw three touchdown passes and Oakland accumulated 448 yards of offense. The Ravens collected just one sack and Pro Football Focus credited them with 11 missed tackles, their highest total since last year’s Week 9 blowout loss in Pittsburgh.

“We had missed tackles. We had missed assignments. We had breakdowns in coverage. We had missed alignments,” Harbaugh said. “We played about as unsound as you can play in a lot of different ways. We had effort for the most part, but I’ll even say we didn’t have the kind of effort we need to have on defense — the kind of all-out, flying-around effort that we expect from a Ravens’ defense.”

Playing without the injured Terrell Suggs, the Ravens struggled to create any semblance of consistent pressure on Carr as Elvis Dumervil played his highest number of snaps (62) since his days with the Denver Broncos and Courtney Upshaw didn’t capitalize on more opportunities to rush. As a result, Carr had a career day through the air with his 351 yards.

Harbaugh was quick to point out that Oakland designed plenty of short passes to neutralize the rush, but he did not forgive the inability of linebackers and defensive backs to neutralize those throws.

“When a team is determined to get the ball out fast, then you’re not going to get a lot of quarterback hits and you’re not going to get a lot of sacks,” Harbaugh said. “What you have to do is defend those quick throws, and we didn’t defend the quick throws as well as we need to because of the missed tackles and some of the missed alignments.

“If you force those throws to be no-gains, one gain, minus-2, 3-yard gains, when the ball is coming out fast, then you force them to hold the ball a little bit longer and to gain some yards and you get to the quarterback. That’s the No. 1 issue there.”

Though there’s truth to Harbaugh’s point, the Ravens didn’t get to Carr when he took deeper drops either, further making the decision to deactivate veteran newcomer Jason Babin puzzling after he was signed to provide more depth behind Dumervil, Upshaw, and rookie Za’Darius Smith.

Against an underwhelming offense, the Ravens showed no sign of being close to figuring out their pass-rush equation without Suggs.

“I think he had way too much time on the [bootlegs],” Harbaugh said. “He was able to stand back there on the keepers and boots almost forever and throw the ball. We have to figure out how to get that changed. But from a pass-rush standpoint, those are the two situations — the quick throws and the boots.”

Penalties on final drive

Two critical penalties hurt the Ravens on Oakland’s game-winning touchdown drive as defensive tackle Timmy Jernigan committed a senseless roughing-the-passer foul that marched the Raiders into field-goal range and safety Will Hill was flagged for holding before he made what looked to be the game-clinching interception with under a minute remaining.

Harbaugh offered a strong opinion on each one, with one player being chastised and the other forgiven.

“The Timmy Jernigan one was a foolish penalty — really inexcusable,” Harbaugh said. “There was no reason for that whatsoever at any time during the game, but especially in two-minute. But that was just a way late hit, and I don’t understand that one. It hurt us.

“The other one, I’m still looking for it. I don’t see it on tape, so I’m not sure what to tell Will on that. It looked like a good play to me.”

Second long trip out west being reconsidered

After previously saying they planned to stay out west for the week between their Oct. 18 game at San Francisco and Oct. 26 contest at Arizona, the Ravens are now reconsidering those plans.

Harbaugh said it would be a “no-brainer” to stay in Phoenix if the week were shorter between games — the second game takes place on a Monday night — but critics will understandably wonder how much the results of their first extended trip between the Denver and Oakland games will factor into a decision expected to be made in the next few days.

“If we stay [out there], it’ll be because we and the players feel like it would be the best thing,” Harbaugh said. “And if we don’t, it would be because we’d rather get back here and be in our home confines. [We’ll decide] which is best, especially in a long week.”

No word on Perriman

Injured rookie wide receiver Breshad Perriman (knee) was seen doing some light running during his pre-game workout on Sunday, an increased level of activity shown from previous weeks when he was restricted to making catches from a stationary position.

The Ravens coach added no clarity when asked whether that was a sign of the first-round pick being close to finally returning after he sprained his knee on July 30.

“Not that I’ve been told,” Harbaugh said. “I have no update on it.”

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An 0-2 start all that matters for hodge-podge Ravens

Posted on 21 September 2015 by Luke Jones

All we really know about the Ravens right now is that they’re 0-2 and in last place in the AFC North and that’s what matters.

The defense isn’t as bad as it played in Sunday’s 37-33 loss to Oakland, but it’s probably not as strong as it looked in Denver, either.

The offense isn’t as poor as it looked in Week 1 — really, it couldn’t have been much worse — but scoring 33 points against a bad Raiders defense isn’t the best barometer to conclude that all is fine with Marc Trestman’s unit.

Optimists will say John Harbaugh’s team was two plays away from being 2-0 in two road games out west despite playing poorly. They’ll maintain that the Ravens will be fine if the Week 1 defense and the Week 2 offense can simply show up at the same time.

Pessimists will tell you Baltimore couldn’t win against a Peyton Manning-led offense that was completely out of sync in the opener or even beat one of the worst teams in the NFL in Week 2. And they’ll remind you again that just 24 of the 205 teams that have started a season 0-2 since 1990 have made the playoffs — roughly one team per year.

Contrary to the sentiments shared by much of a frustrated fan base, the season isn’t over as the aforementioned statistic includes plenty of bad teams that never had a good chance to make the playoffs long before the season began. Indianapolis started 0-2 a year ago before advancing to the conference championship game and Steve Smith’s old team — the Carolina Panthers — lost its first two games of 2013 before making it to the divisional round that January.

Even the two-time defending NFC champion Seattle Seahawks are in the same boat as the Ravens right now.

But the Ravens are in danger of having the season spiral out of control before Columbus Day if they don’t get to work immediately. On Sunday, they return home to play an undefeated Cincinnati Bengals team that’s won three of their last four meetings and then travel to Pittsburgh four days later to play the Steelers on a short week.

If you think 0-2 is quite a hole to escape, an 0-4 start would be the Grand Canyon.

Two weeks in, we just don’t know what to make of this Ravens team other than the clear stigma of an 0-2 record. Is it the offense, the defense, or both? Is this just another Harbaugh-led team that struggles on the road and wreaks havoc on opponents at M&T Bank Stadium to ultimately land in the playoffs like six of the last seven years?

A defense that carried much promise a week ago looked every bit the part of a unit playing its first game without Terrell Suggs, Ray Lewis, or Ed Reed — the trinity of Ravens defensive excellence — since 1998. The pass rush was nonexistent, the coverage in the secondary was abysmal, the tackling was even worse, and Dean Pees’ coaching adjustments didn’t work.

Some media and fans tried to argue that the loss of Suggs would not be that severe, but the Ravens defense looked like a group sorely missing his play and leadership in Oakland. Even so, the outside linebacker’s absence alone can’t explain — or excuse — the poor performance throughout the defense.

The lack of the pass rush coupled with a 2014-like performance from the secondary will create much concern about the Ravens’ ability to stop opposing offenses, especially after second-year quarterback Derek Carr and the lowly Raiders picked them apart to the tune of 351 passing yards and three touchdown passes.

It didn’t help that untimely penalties doomed the defense on Oakland’s final scoring drive as a senseless roughing-the-passer foul by Timmy Jernigan put the Raiders in field goal position and a defensive holding penalty on Will Hill wiped out what would have been the game-clinching interception. Those types of mistakes, particularly the Jernigan penalty, aren’t indicative of winning teams.

If you’re looking for the silver lining, the offense made strides on Sunday with tight end Crockett Gillmore catching two touchdowns and wide receiver Kamar Aiken bouncing back from an early fumble to help back up Smith’s 10 catches and 150 receiving yards. Yes, an otherwise-strong Joe Flacco misfired on a few throws that could have led to more points — including one to a wide-open Steve Smith that would have meant a touchdown instead of a field goal on their penultimate drive — but you should beat the Raiders 100 times out of 100 when you score 33 points.

Trestman’s decision to throw on second-and-8 from the Oakland 13 on the play before Flacco’s errant throw to Smith was baffling as an incompletion stopped the clock with 2:19 remaining, but we knew all along that the offense would be a work in progress and the group did its job for the most part on Sunday.

Everything we’ve witnessed in the Harbaugh era suggests the Ravens are better than their 0-2 record indicates, but they’ve hit uncharted territory under the eighth-year coach as the franchise has lost its first two games for the first time since 2005. It’s in rough patches when Harbaugh is generally at his best, but he sees exactly what we’ve all witnessed over the first two weeks and can’t feel good about it.

A horrendous performance by the offense and a strong defensive effort in Week 1 followed by a good offensive showing and a nightmarish game from the defense in Week 2. You just don’t know what to expect at this point from either side of the ball.

Will the real Ravens step forward? They’re better than their 0-2 record, right?

Or, maybe they are a hodpe-podge group with the latest offseason of substantial changes finally catching up with them.

If they really are this bad, we’ll find out quickly with their two biggest divisional foes looming over the next 10 days.

If the Ravens are better than this, they have no choice but to start proving it immediately.

Because 0-2 tells you all that matters.

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Ravens-Raiders: Inactives and pre-game notes

Posted on 20 September 2015 by Luke Jones

The Ravens face a challenge in replacing the injured Terrell Suggs, but the man signed to take his spot on the 53-man roster this week was deactivated for Sunday’s meeting with the Oakland Raiders.

After head coach John Harbaugh deemed him ready to play on Friday, veteran outside linebacker Jason Babin was surprisingly among the Ravens’ seven inactives for Week 2. The 35-year-old was signed to a contract on Tuesday and practiced all week with his new team.

“His whole thing is just making sure he knows where to line up,” Harbaugh said after Friday’s workout. “He has been in defenses [and is] a really smart guy. I’m very confident that he can line up and play good football. He played [during the preseason]. It’s not like he’s a guy that hasn’t been playing in training camp. He has been playing up until a week ago, so he’s in football shape, and he’s ready to go.”

The decision to deactivate Babin meant rookie Za’Darius Smith was expected to fill a significant role as Baltimore’s backup outside linebacker behind Elvis Dumervil and Courtney Upshaw. Smith, a fourth-round pick in this year’s draft, was a healthy inactive last week.

The Ravens also deactivated Rashaan Melvin (thigh) despite the third-year cornerback practicing on a limited basis all week. Rookie wide receiver Darren Waller (ankle) was active despite being added to the injury report on Friday.

As expected, defensive tackle Timmy Jernigan (knee) and No. 2 running back Lorenzo Taliaferro (knee) were active after practicing fully all week. Jernigan was expected to return to his starting spot along the Baltimore defensive line with rookie Carl Davis returning to a reserve role.

With starting left tackle Eugene Monroe (concussion) inactive, the Ravens included reserve offensive lineman Ryan Jensen among their 46 active players on game day. Second-year tackle James Hurst was expected to start in Monroe’s place.

Rookie wide receiver Breshad Perriman (knee) was officially ruled out for Week 2 on Friday, but he reportedly increased his activity level in a pre-game workout by doing some light running. The first-round pick hasn’t practiced since spraining his knee on July 30.

For the Raiders, veteran safety Charles Woodson was active despite suffering a dislocated shoulder in Oakland’s season opener. He practiced on a limited basis Thursday and Friday.

These teams are meeting for the eighth time in the regular season with the Ravens holding a 6-1 advantage in the series. Baltimore is 1-1 playing in Oakland, but that does not include the Ravens’ win in the 2000 AFC championship game. The Raiders’ lone win against the Ravens came in the 2003 season while Baltimore has won four straight in the series.

The forecast for Sunday afternoon’s game in Oakland calls for sunny skies, temperatures in the high 80s, and winds up to 10 miles per hour, according to Weather.com.

Referee Pete Morelli and his crew will officiate Sunday’s game at O.co Coliseum.

The Ravens will be wearing white jerseys with black pants while Oakland will sport its black home tops with silver pants.

Here are Sunday’s inactives:

LB Jason Babin
CB Rashaan Melvin
RB Terrence Magee
OT Eugene Monroe
DT Christo Bilukidi
DE Kapron Lewis-Moore
WR Breshad perriman

CB Dexter McDonald
FB Jamize Olawale
OL Jon Feliciano
OL Matt McCants
DT Justin Ellis
WR Rod Streater
DE Benson Mayowa

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Monroe, Perriman ruled out for Sunday’s game in Oakland

Posted on 18 September 2015 by Luke Jones

Still sidelined after sustaining a concussion on the first series of the season opener last week, Ravens left tackle Eugene Monroe was ruled out for Sunday’s game against the Oakland Raiders.

Monroe missed practice all week and has yet to be cleared from the NFL’s concussion protocol, meaning second-year lineman James Hurst will likely start in Monroe’s place. Wide receiver Breshad Perriman was also ruled out for Week 2 as he has yet to practice since spraining his knee on the first day of training camp.

The good news for Baltimore was the expected availability of defensive tackle Timmy Jernigan and running back Lorenzo Taliaferro after each suffered knee injuries in the preseason. Both were listed as probable to play after practicing fully all week. Running back Justin Forsett (shoulder) was also designated as probable after being limited during Wednesday’s practice but being a full participant the rest of the week.

Cornerback Rashaan Melvin (thigh) and rookie wide receiver Darren Waller (ankle) were listed as questionable to play against Oakland. Melvin has dealt with a hamstring issue since last month and was only a limited participant in practices this week while Waller was a new addition to Friday’s injury report, leading you to believe he may have injured his ankle during the final practice of the week.

Head coach John Harbaugh confirmed Friday that veteran newcomer Jason Babin will play on Sunday after being signed to replace the injured Terrell Suggs on the roster earlier this week.

With Monroe sidelined and two wide receivers on the injury report, the Ravens could choose to add one of their two practice-squad offensive tackles — rookie De’Ondre Wesley or veteran Tony Hills — or a receiver — Jeremy Ross and Jeremy Butler are on the practice squad — to the 53-man roster. Rookie running back Terrence Magee’s spot is likely vulnerable with Baltimore now having four healthy backs on the active roster.

Meanwhile, the Raiders expect to have their starting quarterback under center on Sunday after Derek Carr practiced fully all week and was listed as probable on their final injury report.

Despite suffering a dislocated shoulder in Oakland’s season-opening loss to Cincinnati, veteran safety Charles Woodson practiced on a limited basis on Thursday and Friday and is officially questionable for Sunday’s game.

The referee for Sunday’s game is Pete Morelli.

The game-day forecast in Oakland calls for mostly sunny skies and temperatures around 90 degrees with winds 10 to 15 miles per hour, according to Weather.com.

Below is the final injury report of the week:

OUT: OT Eugene Monroe (concussion) WR Breshad Perriman (knee)
QUESTIONABLE: CB Rashaan Melvin (thigh), WR Darren Waller (ankle)
PROBABLE: DE Chris Canty (non-injury), RB Justin Forsett (shoulder), DT Timmy Jernigan (knee), LB Daryl Smith (non-injury), RB Lorenzo Taliaferro (knee)

OUT: DT Justin Ellis (ankle), DE Benson Mayowa (knee), RB Jamize Olawale (ankle)
QUESTIONABLE: S Charles Woodson (shoulder)
PROBABLE: QB Derek Carr (right hand)

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Jernigan, Taliaferro practice fully for second straight day

Posted on 18 September 2015 by Luke Jones

Moving closer toward their Week 2 meeting with the Oakland Raiders, the Ravens are likely to regain a key starter on their defensive line with Timmy Jernigan practicing fully for a second straight day.

The second-year defensive tackle and backup running back Lorenzo Taliaferro were full participants on Thursday and appear set to make their respective returns after suffering knee injuries during the preseason. Starting running back Justin Forsett (shoulder) also practiced fully on Thursday after being a limited participant a day earlier.

Left tackle Eugene Monroe (concussion) and wide receiver Breshad Perriman (knee) missed practice again on Thursday while inside linebacker Daryl Smith and defensive end Chris Canty received the day off.

The Raiders received good news on Thursday with veteran safety Charles Woodson (shoulder) returning to practice on a limited basis. Starting quarterback Derek Carr (hand) was a full participant for a second consecutive practice.

Below is Thursday’s official injury report:

DID NOT PARTICIPATE: DE Chris Canty (non-injury), T Eugene Monroe (concussion), WR Breshad Perriman (knee), LB Daryl Smith (non-injury)
LIMITED PARTICIPATION: CB Rashaan Melvin (thigh)
FULL PARTICIPATION: RB Justin Forsett (shoulder), DT Timmy Jernigan (knee), RB Lorenzo Taliaferro (knee)

DID NOT PARTICIPATE: DT Justin Ellis (ankle), DE Benson Mayowa (knee), RB Jamize Olawale (ankle)
LIMITED PARTICIPATION: S Charles Woodson (shoulder)
FULL PARTICIPATION: QB Derek Carr (right hand)

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Ravens practice in San Jose with Monroe sidelined

Posted on 17 September 2015 by Luke Jones

Practicing in San Jose, Calif. ahead of their Week 2 meeting with the Oakland Raiders, the Ravens were without starting left tackle Eugene Monroe for Wednesday’s workout.

Monroe suffered a concussion in the first quarter of the season-opening loss last Sunday and remains sidelined as he goes through the league-mandated protocol. Second-year tackle James Hurst replaced him in Denver and struggled mightily against Broncos outside linebacker DeMarcus Ware all afternoon.

Wide receiver Breshad Perriman also remains out of practice as he continues to recover from a sprained knee suffered on the first day of training camp on July 30. The 2015 first-round pick is not expected to play against Oakland as his return isn’t imminent until he can at least begin accumulating some practice time.

The good news for the Ravens on Wednesday was the full participation of both defensive tackle Timmy Jernigan (knee) and running back Lorenzo Taliaferro (knee). Both appear to be good bets to return to action on Sunday after suffering their respective injuries in the preseason and practicing on a limited basis last week.

Cornerback Rashaan Melvin (thigh) and running back Justin Forsett (shoulder) were limited participants during Wednesday’s workout.

Meanwhile, the Raiders received good news with Derek Carr (right hand) practicing fully, which reinforced head coach Jack Del Rio’s expressed optimism earlier in the day that the second-year quarterback would play this week.

In addition to officially announcing the signing of veteran outside linebacker Jason Babin — who will wear No. 56 — and the placement of injured linebacker Terrell Suggs on season-ending injured reserve, the Ravens terminated the practice-squad contract of quarterback Bryn Renner and signed offensive tackle Tony Hills to the 10-man unit. The 30-year-old has played in 13 career NFL games and joins De’Ondre Wesley as the second offensive tackle on the practice squad, perhaps a reflection of the uncertainty surrounding Monroe’s status for Sunday.

Below is Wednesday’s official injury report:

DID NOT PARTICIPATE: T Eugene Monroe (concussion), WR Breshad Perriman (knee)
LIMITED PARTICIPATION: RB Justin Forsett (shoulder), CB Rashaan Melvin (thigh)
FULL PARTICIPATION: DT Timmy Jernigan (knee), RB Lorenzo Taliaferro (knee)

DID NOT PARTICIPATE: DT Justin Ellis (ankle), DE Benson Mayowa (knee), RB Jamize Olawale (ankle), S Charles Woodson (shoulder)
FULL PARTICIPATION: QB Derek Carr (right hand)

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Ravens-Broncos: Inactives and pre-game notes

Posted on 13 September 2015 by Luke Jones

Trying to win their first season opener since 2012, the Ravens are in Denver to take on Peyton Manning and the Broncos in Week 1 for the second time in three years.

Beginning an imposing stretch of five of the first seven games on the road, Baltimore is without a quartet of key players as defensive tackle Timmy Jernigan (knee) and cornerback Rashaan Melvin (thigh) were deactivated after both were listed as doubtful on the the final injury report of the week. The Ravens offially ruled out rookie wide receiver Breshad Perriman (knee) and running back Lorenzo Taliaferro (knee) on Friday.

The absence of Jernigan means rookie Carl Davis will start at the 3-technique defensive tackle spot in the base defense. This will also impact the inside pass rush as Jernigan was effective getting after the quarterback in his rookie season.

The biggest surprise of the healthy inactives was rookie outside linebacker Za’Darius Smith, who was drafted to replace free-agent departure Pernell McPhee. This leaves the Ravens with only three outside linebackers active for Sunday’s game, but reserve inside linebacker Albert McClellan has experience playing both outside spots.

The Ravens will only have four cornerbacks active on Sunday with rookie Tray Walker backing up starters Jimmy Smith and Lardarius Webb and nickel corner Kyle Arrington. Reserve safeties Anthony Levine and Terrence Brooks are also capable of playing corner in a pinch.

The decision to deactivate Ryan Jensen leaves the Ravens with just two reserve offensive lineman against the Broncos — tackle James Hurst and interior lineman John Urschel.

These teams are meeting for the 11th time in the regular season are are tied 5-5 in the series. The Ravens are 2-0 against Denver in postseason history, but the Broncos have won the last two regular-season meetings with the most recent coming in 2013.

The forecast for Sunday afternoon’s game in Denver calls for sunny skies, temperatures up to 90 degrees, and winds up to 12 miles per hour, according to Weather.com.

Referee Gene Steratore and his crew will officiate Sunday’s game at Sports Authority Field at Mile High.

The Ravens will be wearing white jerseys with black pants while Denver will sport their orange home jerseys with white pants.

Here are Sunday’s inactives:

LB Za’Darius Smith
DT Christo Bilukidi
OL Ryan Jensen
DT Timmy Jernigan
WR Breshad Perriman
CB Rashaan Melvin
RB Lorenzo Taliaferro

QB Trevor Siemian
CB Curtis Marsh
CB Lorenzo Doss
LB Lerentee McCray
G Shelley Smith
TE Mitchell Henry
DE Kenny Anunike

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