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By securing bye, Ravens have time to find championship form

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By securing bye, Ravens have time to find championship form

Posted on 01 January 2012 by Luke Jones

It certainly wasn’t easy, but that has rarely been the Ravens’ style this season despite a 12-4 record and their first AFC North title since 2006.

To play at home in the playoffs, you have to handle business on the road during the season, and the Ravens did just enough in a 24-16 win over the Cincinnati Bengals on Sunday, improving their road record to 4-4 and bringing a second-round playoff game to M&T Bank Stadium where the Ravens are 8-0 this season.

From the first day of training camp, players talked about beating Pittsburgh, winning the division, and playing postseason games in Baltimore. They were viewed as prerequisites for making a Super Bowl run to Indianapolis, and the Ravens have completed all of the above to this point, even if the journey hasn’t always been pretty.

The real season now begins for the likes of Ray Rice and Terrell Suggs — who have their best chance yet to reach the pinnacle of the NFL — as well as aging veterans such as Ray Lewis and Ed Reed, who may be staring their last chance at a championship squarely in the eyes. But, before they take the field in Baltimore in two weeks, there is plenty of work to do.

Much of it will be done in the training room, where many players will need to spend extra time getting healthy at a time when everyone is banged up to some extent. As if the Ravens weren’t already dealing with a plethora of injuries, safety Tom Zbikowski and cornerback Jimmy sustained concussions, linebacker Brendon Ayanbadejo suffered a quad strain, and linebacker Jameel McClain sprained his knee in the win over the Bengals.

The extra week will prevent wide receiver Anquan Boldin from feeling the need to rush back too soon from knee surgery and provide rest for players with preexisting ailments such as Lewis, Marshal Yanda, and Billy Cundiff. Though projecting the return of concussed players can be tricky, it’s not unreasonable to expect John Harbaugh’s team to be at full strength when they welcome the Houston Texans, Denver Broncos, or Pittsburgh Steelers to town.

The Ravens know how difficult it is to play a refreshed opponent in the second round after doing it three consecutive years — losing two of them — and believe it was a major factor in their second-half collapse to Pittsburgh last January. Now, they’ll be afforded the luxury of hosting a team that was forced to play 60 minutes of playoff football a week earlier.

Even with a healthy allotment of players, questions will remain over just how equipped this Ravens team is to finish the run to a Super Bowl championship. Offensive coordinator Cam Cameron will need to find more production in the Baltimore passing game to keep up with explosive offenses such as New England, and the defense will need to rediscover a pass rush that’s disappeared over the last month despite an AFC-leading 48 sacks in 2011.

Three more wins are needed for the Ravens to raise the Vince Lombardi trophy on the first Sunday in February. For a team that’s lacked consistency throughout the season, it’s difficult envisioning three top-level performances to finish the job. However, if we’ve learned anything about this unprecedented season following an extended work stoppage, it’s that even the best teams have flaws that can be exploited. This postseason will be as much about survival as it will be playing at a high level.

The Ravens took a major step in the right direction at Paul Brown Stadium on Sunday. They are already assured of getting to to the divisional round of the playoffs for the fourth straight year, and they’ll do it without having to play a snap of football next weekend. Their body of work in the regular season has won them an extra week of rest and time to tweak some deficiencies before returning to action on Jan. 15.

Whether the Ravens wind up in Indianapolis remains to be seen, but one thing is certain:

It’s a lot easier to imagine it happening now.

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Ravens place kick returner David Reed on IR

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Ravens place kick returner David Reed on IR

Posted on 26 December 2011 by Luke Jones

In a move that became all but a formality following a 20-14 win over the Cleveland Browns on Saturday, the Ravens have placed kick returner David Reed on injured reserve with a knee injury.

The second-year return specialist regained his kickoff return job on Saturday before sustaining the season-ending injury in the second half. Immediately following the game, it was believed that Reed had suffered a tear to the anterior cruciate ligament.

“David Reed’s injury looks serious,” coach John Harbaugh said following Saturday’s game. “That did not look good.”

The Ravens have yet to announce a corresponding roster move, but safety Tom Zbikowski would presumably take Reed’s place as the primary kick returner. After Reed’s two fumbled kickoffs in the Ravens’ Week 10 loss in Seattle, the fourth-year safety replaced him as the primary returner and held the job until Reed reclaimed the spot on Saturday.

While Zbikowski is considered a steady, straight-line returner, he lacks the big-play capability of Reed in the return game, a major reason why the Ravens had continued to work with Reed extensively on ball security following his disastrous performance against the Seahawks in mid-November.

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Harbaugh quiet on Lewis’ status against 49ers on Thanksgiving

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Harbaugh quiet on Lewis’ status against 49ers on Thanksgiving

Posted on 21 November 2011 by Luke Jones

OWINGS MILLS, Md. — With no time to revel in their 31-24 win over the Cincinnati Bengals, the Ravens returned to work on Monday with only three days to prepare for a Thanksgiving night contest with the red-hot San Francisco 49ers.

Jim Harbaugh’s team comes to town riding an eight-game winning streak and enjoying an insurmountable lead in the NFC West. Meanwhile, John Harbaugh saw his Ravens regain control of the AFC North by improving to 7-3 and 5-0 at M&T Bank Stadium this season. Much of the hype surrounding Thursday’s game will center around the first ever meeting in NFL history where two brothers face each other as head coaches. Both Harbaughs are acknowledging the special occasion but attempting to redirect the focus on their talented football teams.

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“It’s going to be a hard-fought game,” John Harbaugh said. “It’s not going to be a ‘trick-them’ game. There will be something that you’ll try, and they’ll try something, but it’s a short week. It’s two very physical teams. It’s two teams with quite a lot at stake. It’s two teams that play a very similar style of football. It’s going to be a great night for football. If you’re a football fan, I wouldn’t think you’d want to miss this game.”

Many are wondering whether star linebacker Ray Lewis (toe) will miss the unprecedented Thursday night game after he sat out his first game on Sunday since the finale of the 2007 season, snapping a string of 57 consecutive games played. Lewis was not present on the field during the Ravens’ walk-through on Monday evening, and his status will remain in question until inactives are released 90 minutes prior to Thursday’s 8:20 p.m. kickoff on the NFL Network.

When asked about Lewis’ status in a Monday teleconference, Harbaugh was predictably tight-lipped regarding the chances of his defensive leader suiting up against the 49ers’ sixth-ranked run offense.

Does Harbaugh think Lewis will be able to play in the nationally-televised game?

“Is that something I really want to share right now, you think?” Harbaugh replied to the questioner. “Would there be any value in doing that?”

Defensive tackle Arthur Jones (concussion) was also missing from the open portion of the walk-through while wide receiver Lee Evans (ankle), linebacker Dannell Ellerbe (hamstring), safety Tom Zbikowski (leg), and running back Anthony Allen (thigh) were all present for the open portion.

 

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Gloomy prognosis for Ray Lewis and injured toe for Sunday

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Gloomy prognosis for Ray Lewis and injured toe for Sunday

Posted on 17 November 2011 by Luke Jones

(Updated: 6:00 a.m.)

OWINGS MILLS, Md. — As the Ravens inch closer to an AFC North showdown with the Cincinnati Bengals on Sunday, doubts began to grow surrounding linebacker Ray Lewis, who was absent from practice for the second straight day on Thursday.

Reports late Thursday night indicated Lewis will miss Sunday’s game and possibly more after suffering a toe injury in the loss to the Seattle Seahawks last Sunday.

Lewis saw a specialist in Florida on Thursday, according to a report from the Carroll County Times.

Listed on the injury report with a foot injury, Lewis did not appear to be favoring anything as he walked to the podium to meet reporters on Wednesday afternoon. The injury could prevent Lewis from playing on Sunday afternoon and a second missed practice in as many days cultivated concern after he struggled in last Sunday’s loss to the Seahawks.

The 16-year linebacker has not missed a game since sitting out the final two games of the 2007 season with a hand injury. The 36-year-old has made 57 straight starts for the Ravens.

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Defensive tackle Arthur Jones (concussion) and running back Anthony Allen (hamstring) were also missing from practice for the second straight day. Wide receiver Lee Evans was practicing again, the fifth straight workout in which he’s participated.

Kick returner search

The Ravens conducted their search for a new kickoff returner on Thursday and confirmed that incumbent David Reed will not be back there on Sunday. The news was hardly surprised after Reed fumbled two kickoffs and was flagged for unsportsmanlike conduct in the 22-17 loss to the Seattle Seahawks.

Special teams coordinator Jerry Rosburg would not rule out Reed as a future consideration for the job, but the Ravens believe the second-year receiver needs to prove he can take care of the football before they put him back deep again.

“He’s looking forward for the next opportunity,” Rosburg said. “Now, we don’t know when that is, and I’m certain when he does get in there again, everybody’s going to be watching him with that in mind. David’s a competitive guy, and he understands what he’s got to do to get that job back. He’s got to earn the trust of everybody on this football team that he’s going to hang onto the ball when he gets it.”

Rosburg said the Ravens will consider every possibility in finding a new returner. Candidates include Lardarius Webb, LaQuan Williams, Torrey Smith, Tandon Doss, Chris Carr, and Tom Zbikowski. Webb is listed as the backup kick returner — behind Reed — on the team’s most recent depth chart while the rookie Williams is listed as the third-string return man.

“We’re going to have a good kickoff return practice, and we’re going to find out who our kickoff returner is going to be for Sunday,” Rosburg said.

Head coach John Harbaugh said on Monday he believes Webb to be the best kick returner on the team, but his current roles as a starting cornerback and the punt returner may cause the Ravens to look elsewhere. However, they could elect to slide Webb to the kick return spot and to use Carr as the punt returner.

First-round pick ready

With rookie Jimmy Smith now having four games under his belt since returning from an ankle injury last month, many have been asking when the first-round pick can expect to see an increase role on the defense.

Since Webb and Cary Williams have played so well in starting roles, the Baltimore defense hasn’t forced the issue with Smith’s development, allowing him to readjust to the speed of the NFL after a six-week layoff. However, with Carr struggling at the nickelback position on Sunday — allowing a critical 24-yard completion to Seattle receiver Golden Tate on the final drive of the game — the Ravens may be ready to expand Smith’s role. The Colorado product saw limited reps in the dime package against the Seahawks.

“He’ll see a considerable amount of time,” defensive coordinator Chuck Pagano. “We’ve got to get him out there and get him going. He’s ready.”

Though not really suited to play inside at the nickel position, the Ravens could elect to slide Webb inside to the nickel spot, allowing Smith to line up on the outside.

Evans fitting into game plan

Optimism continues to grow around Evans, who took part in his fifth straight practice on Thursday afternoon.

Evans’ imminent return — whether it’s this week or soon thereafter — has sparked plenty of debate on where he will fit within the offense. Though the rookie Smith has displayed late-game heroics, his inconsistent hands have also hurt the Baltimore offense at critical points throughout the season.

After being acquired in a trade with the Buffalo Bills after the first preseason game in August, Evans appeared to be developing quite a rapport with quarterback Joe Flacco in a short amount of time prior to being stricken with the ankle injury. With Evans missing so much time on the field, it remains to be seen what kind of effect it will have on his comfort level with Flacco.

“That doesn’t really affect Joe a lot,” offensive coordinator Cam Cameron said. “He’s one of those unique guys that if a guy can get open, he can hit him whether he’s been with him for a week or a month. It’s really going to be predicated in how he practices. He probably needs a week or two of good practice. I think that will help.”

The improved play of Smith as well as the Ravens’ increasing reliance on tight ends Ed Dickson and Dennis Pitta appears to have bought some time for Evans to work his way back into the flow of the offense, but his addition would provide a major boost in the final stretch of the regular season.

“Some of our other guys are playing really well, and we’ve got some other options until he comes back,” Cameron said. “We’ll see how the practices go, if he’s practicing at a level that [Harbaugh] feels and we feel he can help us win a game, then I’m sure he’ll be active. That may take a week or two.”

Visit the BuyAToyota.com Audio Vault to hear from Cam Cameron, Chuck Pagano, and Jerry Rosburg right here.

 

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Harbaugh, Ravens “not licking any wounds” in aftermath of Seattle loss

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Harbaugh, Ravens “not licking any wounds” in aftermath of Seattle loss

Posted on 14 November 2011 by Luke Jones

OWINGS MILLS, Md. — John Harbaugh’s mood was exactly how you might predict it to be 24 hours following the Ravens’ third loss against a sub-.500 team this season.

The Baltimore coach was tense and defensive, clenching his teeth in response to a few questions and providing noticeably short answers on a number of occasions. While Harbaugh was clearly ready to move on to this week’s matchup with the Cincinnati Bengals, his thoughts remained unchanged regarding the Ravens’ 22-17 defeat to the lowly Seahawks.

“It feels the same way that it did [Sunday] night,” Harbaugh said. “Very disappointing loss, one that we have to regroup from, improve in a lot of different areas, and get ready to play this week. Every week in this league is a new week. Every game is a new game. At the end of the year, they count up how many you win and how many you lose.”

As media asked him about the psychology connecting the Ravens’ three losses to teams with losing records and the team’s spirits in the aftermath of the surprising defeat, Harbaugh’s explanation for the loss was blunt: three turnovers, two missed field goals, an erratic passing offense, and a defense that couldn’t get off the field in the game’s final drive.

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“We put ourselves behind the eight ball [in] too many situations and then ended up losing by just five points in a tough environment,” Harbaugh said. “You play better football, you win football games like that. That goes to all of us. That’s what we have to do — we have to coach better, we have to play better — and we’ll win those three football games [we lost].”

Answering many questions with the same theme — only different wording — Harbaugh closed the press conference with the quote of the afternoon when pressed about a perceived attitude of simply moving on to the next week before taking the proper time to focus on mistakes after three defeats to teams with losing records.

Did the Ravens take time to lick their wounds before picking themselves up off the mat on Monday?

“Licking wounds? No, we’re not licking any wounds,” Harbaugh said. “We are moving on. We correct our mistakes, and we go practice on Wednesday. And we get ready to play on Sunday.”

Running away from the run?

A heated topic of discussion on sports talk radio and internet message boards was the Ravens’ one-sided offensive attack that featured 53 passing attempts to only 12 run plays. After an initial uproar was created when Ray Rice received only eight carries in the loss to the Jacksonville Jaguars last month, the star running back received only five rushing attempts against the Seahawks.

The argument can certainly be made that offensive coordinator Cam Cameron and the Ravens panicked too soon in abandoning the run, but an early 10-0 deficit and two lost possessions in the first half — thanks to kick returner David Reed’s two fumbles — threw the offensive game plan out the window. Harbaugh also acknowledged that quarterback Joe Flacco checked out of a run play on the opening drive of the second half when he had his pass tipped into the air and intercepted, leading to another short field goal by Seahawks kicker Steve Hauschka.

“When you don’t have very many plays [in the first half], it’s hard to build up your running game,” Harbaugh said. “When you’re down, you have to throw it to get back in the game. I think every game is different. You’ve got to do in any particular game what you’ve got to do to try to move the ball.”

While many continue to call for Cameron’s job with the Ravens’ perceived refusal to run the football, Harbaugh made it clear that there was no plan to have such offensive imbalance. However, the game situation of being down two possessions and a 4-3 defensive front that continues to give the Ravens problems made it difficult to establish the ground attack.

“In the end, we definitely want to have more runs,” Harbaugh said. “I think that’s indicative of having the lead and having more plays, especially early in the game. The way the game went, we had to throw it. And based on some fronts they were giving us early, we felt like we had to throw it, too.”

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Reed shows up on Ravens’ Thursday injury report

Posted on 27 October 2011 by Luke Jones

OWINGS MILLS, Md. — A day after safety Ed Reed and the Ravens thought they were in the clear following his fourth-quarter collision that caused a “burner” in his shoulder, the outlook didn’t look as promising for the All Pro as he missed practice on Thursday.

Reed was listed as having a neck injury, which is likely related to the play in which he collided with defensive tackle Terrence Cody. The free safety left the game but returned soon after, saying after the game that he was OK.

Despite Reed missing practicing, he is still expected to play against the Arizona Cardinals and spoke to reporters prior to the team’s workout on Thursday.

Cornerback Danny Gorrer (thigh) was a limited participant after being nicked up during the special teams portion of practice viewed by the media. The defensive back was stretched out on the field for several minutes before he walked inside gingerly with a member of the training staff. It’s unknown whether Gorrer returned to practice.

Cornerback Chris Carr was upgraded to a full participant on Thursday and is very likely to make his return to the field on Sunday after suffering a setback in the week leading up to the Oct. 2 game against the New York Jets.

For Arizona, running back Beanie Wells (knee) practiced on a limited basis despite most expecting him not to play on Sunday.

Former Ravens tight end Todd Heap was a limited participant for a second straight day after sitting out the Cardinals’ last two games with a hamstring injury.

BALTIMORE
DID NOT PARTICIPATE – S Ed Reed (neck), RB Anthony Allen (thigh), LB Dannell Ellerbe (thigh), WR Lee Evans (ankle), G Ben Grubbs (toe)
LIMITED – CB Danny Gorrer (thigh)
FULL – S Tom Zbikowski (head), CB Chris Carr (thigh)

ARIZONA
DID NOT PARTICIPATE – LB Joey Porter (knee), S Kerry Rhodes (foot)
LIMITED – RB Beanie Wells (knee), WR Early Doucet (quad), CB Michael Adams (hand), TE Jim Dray (pectoral), TE Todd Heap (hamstring), WR DeMarco Sampson (hamstring)

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Live from Owings Mills: Grubbs, Evans again appearing unlikely to play

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Live from Owings Mills: Grubbs, Evans again appearing unlikely to play

Posted on 27 October 2011 by Luke Jones

OWINGS MILLS, Md. — Another day of preparation for the Arizona Cardinals brought similar results in terms of who wasn’t on the practice field Thursday.

The Ravens were without receiver Lee Evans (left ankle), guard Ben Grubbs (right toe), running back Anthony Allen (thigh), and linebacker Dannell Ellerbe (thigh) for the second straight day this week. Barring a dramatic change on Friday, none are expected to play on Sunday.

Evans said prior to practice that his left ankle is improving, but the 30-year-old wideout would not specify a timetable for his return to action in what amounted to anything but a ringing endorsement for his status against the Cardinals on Sunday.

A possible new addition to the injury report was safety Ed Reed (shoulder), who was not identified during the open portion of practice as the Ravens worked on the field farthest away from the media viewing area. Reed practiced fully on Wednesday despite suffering a “burner” in a fourth-quarter collision with defensive tackle Terrence Cody on Monday night.

Two players appeared to get nicked up during the open portion of practice on Thursday in a scene that more closely resembled training camp. Linebacker Prescott Burgess left the field for a brief time before returning with his left elbow wrapped. Cornerback Danny Gorrer also appeared to be walking gingerly with a member of the training staff after being stretched out on the field for several minutes.

Cornerback Chris Carr (left hamstring) and safety Tom Zbikowski (concussion) were practicing for the second straight day.

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Live from Owings Mills: Reed, Cody practicing after Monday night collision

Posted on 26 October 2011 by Luke Jones

OWINGS MILLS, Md. — Perhaps an even scarier scene than the Ravens’ horrific performance in a 12-7 loss on Monday was the fourth-quarter collision that left All-Pro safety Ed Reed and defensive tackle Terrence Cody lying on the ground in pain.

However, the two were back on the practice field Wednesday afternoon, confirming coach John Harbaugh’s comments suggesting little concern for either player’s shoulder injury. Reed returned to the game after the collision after suffering a “burner” in the opposite shoulder of the chronic nerve impingement the safety has dealt with since the end of the 2007 season.

Cornerback Jimmy Smith was also back on the practice field after Harbaugh said the rookie did not take part in any defensive snaps due to soreness in the left ankle that sidelined him for six weeks. The first-round pick had not played since sustaining a high ankle sprain covering a kickoff early in the season opener.

Safety Tom Zbikowski (concussion) and cornerback Chris Carr (hamstring) were also taking part in the open portion of practice on Wednesday after both were inactive against the Jaguars. Zbikowski appeared to be more active after practicing on a limited basis last week, a possible indication that he’s been cleared for contact after being sidelined with a concussion sustained against the New York Jets on Oct. 2. Carr was fielding punts during the special teams portion of practice.

Wide receiver Lee Evans (left ankle), guard Ben Grubbs (right toe), running back Anthony Allen (thigh), and Dannell Ellerbe (thigh) were not present during the portion of practice open to the media.

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Ravens injury report: Evans, Grubbs out again; J. Smith probable against Jacksonville

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Ravens injury report: Evans, Grubbs out again; J. Smith probable against Jacksonville

Posted on 22 October 2011 by Luke Jones

OWINGS MILLS, Md. — The Ravens released their final injury report of the week on Saturday with the expected news that wide receiver Lee Evans and guard Ben Grubbs would be out again after not practicing all week in preparation for the Jacksonville Jaguars on Monday night.

However, rookie cornerback Jimmy Smith is probable to play after missing the last four games with a high ankle sprain sustained early in the Ravens’ season-opening win over Pittsburgh on Sept. 11. Smith practiced fully for the second straight day on Saturday and appears more likely to play than fellow cornerback Chris Carr, who is listed as questionable after practicing on a limited basis all week.

“I feel good,” Smith said before the injury report was released. “I don’t know if I’m going to be able to play this game, but I feel good. I mean, I’m optimistic like I said before, [but] I really don’t know what the coach is going to do with it.”

Many have speculated whether the Ravens should play Smith against the Jaguars, who are ranked last in the league in passing offense, or hold him out to get another week of practice under his belt before returning to action against the Arizona Cardinals next week. Coach John Harbaugh is weighing the risks and rewards with the idea that the rookie cornerback will need time to re-adjust to the speed of the professional game.

The Ravens are ranked seventh in pass defense despite Smith and Carr missing most of the season to this point. Is that a factor to consider in giving Smith an extra week to heal?

“That’s probably part of it, but the other side of the coin is you want to get a young guy out there playing,” Harbaugh said. “He needs to play too; he hasn’t played much. He played very little in the preseason. I think that’s going to be tough for him. Both of those things go through our minds.”

Evans will miss his fourth straight game and will be replaced once again by rookie Torrey Smith in the starting lineup. Andre Gurode will make his fourth straight start at left guard with Grubbs having not played since the season opener. Harbaugh feels the frustration shared by fans regarding the status of the Ravens’ two offensive starters.

“It’s just probably slower than any of us imagine that those guys would be,” Harbaugh said. “We’ve just got to keep fighting in there and try to get them back. I think it’s going to be one day we’re going to walk in here and they’re going to go through a full practice and they’re going to feel good and they’ll be ready to go. Hopefully, sooner rather than later.”

Grubbs’ injury has drawn comparisons to former Ravens left tackle Jonathan Ogden, whose toe ailment contributed to an early exit to a certain Hall of Fame career in 2007. Harbaugh had previously said in mid-September that an MRI showed no structural damage or long-term concern regarding Grubbs’ right toe, and the Ravens coach stood by that claim on Saturday.

“Still waiting for him to respond,” Harbaugh said. “It’s the process of getting the swelling out, getting the bruising out, and the healing process that takes place. I know that’s pretty vague, but that’s the best I can do.”

Still not cleared for contact after sustaining a concussion on Oct. 2, safety Tom Zbikowski is listed as doubtful and likely to miss his second straight game as he continues to deal with symptoms. The strong safety practiced on a limited basis on Saturday and said it was a good day for him in terms of not feeling the effects of the concussion.

Zbikowski is listed behind Bernard Pollard at strong safety on the Ravens’ official depth chart.

“Obviously, it’s never as fast as you want it to be,” Zbikowski said. “You want to be back as soon as you can, but once again, it’s a brain injury. It’s not a hamstring injury or something like that where you make it a little worse — it’s something I’m taking a pretty good precaution on before I get out there.”

Return specialist David Reed was the only new addition to Saturday’s injury report after being limited with a finger injury in the final practice of the week. He is listed as probable on the official injury report for Monday’s game, but the condition could factor heavily in the decision whether he or Bryan McCann handles kickoff return duties.

BALTIMORE
OUT – WR Lee Evans (ankle), G Ben Grubbs (toe), RB Anthony Allen (thigh), LB Dannell Ellerbe (thigh)
DOUBTFUL – S Tom Zbikowski (head)
QUESTIONABLE – CB Chris Carr (thigh)
PROBABLE – CB Jimmy Smith (ankle), WR David Reed (finger), LB Jarret Johnson (back)

JACKSONVILLE
OUT – S Courtney Greene (hamsting)
DOUBTFUL – T Eben Britton (back)
QUESTIONABLE – G Jason Spitz (quad)
PROBABLE – DT Tyson Alualu (knee), CB Derek Cox (groin), S Dawan Landry (thigh), T Eugene Monroe (shoulder), WR Kassim Osgood (hamstring), RB Montell Owens (knee), G Will Rackley (knee), LB Clint Session (elbow), T Guy Whimper (hip)

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Live from Owings Mills: Ravens make final preparations for Jacksonville

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Live from Owings Mills: Ravens make final preparations for Jacksonville

Posted on 22 October 2011 by Luke Jones

OWINGS MILLS, Md. — With the Ravens traveling to Jacksonville to meet the Jaguars on Monday night, they were back on the field Saturday morning with the injury picture becoming clearer.

Once again, wide receiver Lee Evans (left ankle) and Ben Grubbs (right toe) were missing from the field as the Ravens worked indoors for their final practice of the week. Neither player has worked this week nor participated in the team’s morning walk-throughs, making it an almost certainty that both will be unavailable against Jacksonville.

Safety Tom Zbikowski (concussion) was on the field and appeared to be practicing on a very limited basis during the portion open to the media. He has not been cleared for contact and did not participate in Friday’s practice after being a limited participant on Thursday.

Cornerback Chris Carr (left thigh) looked to be working on a limited basis for the third straight day, which might be an indication that the Ravens intend to hold out the veteran defensive back. Carr has dealt with the same hamstring injury for over two months.

Linebacker Jarret Johnson (back) and cornerback Jimmy Smith (left ankle) were also practicing after participating fully on Friday. It will be interesting to see whether the Ravens decide to activate Smith for his first action since being injured in the season opener on Sept. 11 or to hold him out for another week before playing against Arizona in Baltimore next Sunday.

Linebacker Dannell Ellerbe (hamstring) and running back Anthony Allen (thigh) have already been ruled out for Monday and were not on the practice field Saturday.

Referee Carl Cheffers and his crew will be officiating Monday night’s game in Jacksonville. The current weather forecast for EverBank Field calls for a temperature of 76 degrees and only a 10 percent chance of rain.

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