Tag Archive | "Torrey Smith"

Wide receiver LaQuan Williams returning to Ravens

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Wide receiver LaQuan Williams returning to Ravens

Posted on 24 April 2014 by Luke Jones

Former Ravens wide receiver LaQuan Williams announced on Twitter that he was coming home on Thursday afternoon.

The former University of Maryland product and Poly grad has rejoined the Ravens after being waived at the end of the 2013 preseason, agent Chad Wiestling confirmed to WNST.net. Williams spent a brief time with the New England Patriots last November but did not appear in a game during the 2013 season.

“Feels good to be back home #RavensNation,” Williams wrote on his official Twitter account.

Williams was one of the feel-good stories of the 2011 season as the Baltimore native made the 53-man roster as a rookie free agent and caught four passes for 46 yards while appearing in 12 games primarily as a special-teams contributor. The 25-year-old played in 11 games in 2012 but did not catch a pass and finished the season on injured reserve.

With the Ravens deciding last year that Williams was no longer in their plans, the former Terp faces an uphill battle to make the roster, but his special-teams ability always makes him someone to watch during the preseason.

 

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Harbaugh addresses slew of topics at NFL owners meetings

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Harbaugh addresses slew of topics at NFL owners meetings

Posted on 25 March 2014 by Luke Jones

Speaking to reporters gathered in Orlando for this week’s NFL owners meetings, Ravens coach John Harbaugh touched on an array of topics ranging Tuesday morning, from the status of running back Ray Rice to the backup quarterback position.

A day after owner Steve Bisciotti made it clear that Rice would remain with the organization despite his legal trouble, Harbaugh reiterated his support for the troubled 27-year-old while acknowledging the obvious embarrassment felt over the Ravens’ three arrests this offseason that have prompted many to question team leadership. Wide receiver Deonte Thompson and offensive lineman Jah Reid were also arrested in a three-week period that started with Rice’s domestic violence incident in Atlantic City last month.

Harbaugh confirmed what many assumed in stating that newly-acquired veteran Jeremy Zuttah projects to be the Ravens’ starting center in 2014, replacing incumbent and 2012 fourth-round pick Gino Gradkowski.

“We traded for Jeremy for him to be the starting center. That’s the plan,” Harbaugh told reporters in Orlando. “[I] had a conversation with Gino yesterday. It was good communication and he’s in a good place. Gino’s a solid young guy. Jeremy is a more experienced center/guard in this league. The thing I liked on tape – we studied him pretty hard – he’s a big, rangy guy. He’s got length, he’s got size in there, he’s got experience and he’s also got, we think, a knack for the scheme we’re going to run offensively. He’s a good fit for us.”

The coach added that the organization would prefer to keep Kelechi Osemele at left guard and views second-year lineman Rick Wagner as the current starting right tackle among players under contract. Of course, the Ravens are expected to continue the search for more help in free agency and the draft, so the offensive line remains fluid beyond the four known starters: left tackle Eugene Monroe, right guard Marshal Yanda, Zuttah, and Osemele.

After recent reports that the Ravens were interested in quarterback Brandon Weeden before he signed in Dallas, Harbaugh confirmed that the organization is exploring the possibility of adding another quarterback. Current backup Tyrod Taylor has one year remaining on his rookie contract, but the head coach confirmed that the Ravens haven’t been overwhelmed with how the 2011 sixth-round pick has played in limited opportunities. Baltimore has carried only two quarterbacks on its 53-man roster in each of the last four seasons.

“We’ve been very happy with Tyrod, and we feel like he has a great future,” Harbaugh said, “but we have been a little disappointed how he’s played in games certainly. We feel like he’s a lot better than he’s showed. I know he feels that way too. We feel like Tyrod’s best football is by far definitely in front of him, but he’s only got one year left with us, so we need to add a quarterback into the mix, whether it be offseason or in the draft.”

The tight end position remains a point of discussion as Harbaugh confirmed interest in re-signing Ed Dickson while acknowledging interest in former Houston Texans tight end Owen Daniels, who obviously has strong ties with new offensive coordinator Gary Kubiak and new tight ends coach Brian Pariani. Dennis Pitta and University of Maryland product Matt Furstenburg are the only tight ends currently under contract.

Reporters asked Harbaugh about the status of retired linebacker Rolando McClain, whose rights are still owned by the Ravens. The coach didn’t completely rule out a return for the 24-year-old but added that he hasn’t spoken to McClain and remains skeptical unless he receives proof that the former Oakland Raider is working hard and is serious about returning to football.

“Who [is he] as a person right now? Has he grown up?” Harbaugh said of McClain. “He had a lot of growing up to do obviously. And how hard he’s working, how hard he’s working at Alabama right now. If he’s working his rear end off, then I’m kind of excited about him. If he’s not, then I’ve got no interest in him being on our team.”

Harbaugh confirmed that the Ravens will pick up the contract option for 2011 first-round cornerback Jimmy Smith as this is the first year we’ve seen this part of the rookie system come into play after the collective bargaining agreement that went into effect in 2011 standardized four-year contracts for all drafted players. The system does present teams a fifth-year option to use for first-round picks entering the final year of their rookie deals. The Ravens hope to sign both Smith and wide receiver Torrey Smith — also entering the final year of his rookie deal — to long-term extensions to keep them in Baltimore.

Baltimore is still looking to draft a safety despite last week’s signing of Darian Stewart, and Harbaugh offered praise for Alabama’s Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, who is projected to be a first-round pick and regarded as the top safety in the draft. General manager Ozzie Newsome said at the start of the offseason that the Ravens would be looking to add a more athletic safety with 2013 first-round pick Matt Elam expected to play closer to the line of scrimmage.

“Safeties are interchangeable these days,” Harbaugh said. “There are certain traits you look for. I’m looking at the safeties now in the draft. You want tacklers and you want guys with range and you wants guys with ball skills.”

The Ravens would also like to add depth on the defensive line following the free-agent departure of Arthur Jones, but 2013 third-round pick Brandon Williams is the current favorite to take Jones’ starting spot.

According to the coach, Kubiak recently put the finishing touches on the Ravens’ new offensive playbook before it was then distributed to players. Harbaugh was also told that quarterback Joe Flacco has plans to get together with his wide receivers for informal throwing sessions before the start of the offseason training program next month.

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Not dynamic choice, but Hostler could be happy medium for Ravens

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Not dynamic choice, but Hostler could be happy medium for Ravens

Posted on 22 January 2014 by Luke Jones

Jim Hostler wouldn’t be the dynamic choice as the Ravens’ new offensive coordinator, but it shouldn’t be surprising if John Harbaugh selects his wide receivers coach for the job.

The Baltimore head coach hasn’t hired an outsider for a coordinator position since Cam Cameron was chosen to run the offense in 2008. Often criticized for preferring familiarity with his hires — a common practice found across the NFL — Harbaugh has promoted from within whenever possible.

Even if Hostler wouldn’t be your first choice as the new offensive coordinator, that doesn’t mean he’s the wrong one, either. The truth is there isn’t just one right man for the job as any number of candidates could be a good fit or the wrong decision depending on a number of variables yet to be determined. You can find faults with any candidate out there, and there’s no telling how any outsider will fit within the framework of Harbaugh’s staff and connect with quarterback Joe Flacco and the other players already on the roster.

After the Ravens finished the 2013 season ranked 29th in total offense and set franchise-worst marks in the running game, there’s a natural tendency to want to blow everything up and start fresh. The desire for a new mind and voice is a legitimate one, whether the Ravens agree with the sentiment or once again lean toward continuity.

But as was the case when observers debated whether Jim Caldwell should be retained as offensive coordinator prior to his departure to become the head coach of the Detroit Lions, it’s important to remember where the Ravens were a year ago at this time as they prepared for a trip to New Orleans and Super Bowl XLVII. For all the criticism of Caldwell and the lack of enthusiasm for Hostler’s candidacy based on the results of 2013, the pair’s work in the 2012 postseason shouldn’t be dismissed or ignored.

Caldwell has credited Hostler on countless occasions for his help in preparing game plans after the former took over for Cameron late in the 2012 season, and the wide receivers coach relayed Caldwell’s calls from the upstairs booth to Joe Flacco’s helmet on game days. Of all the problems that plagued the Ravens offense this past season, Caldwell and Hostler didn’t suddenly become fools in the offseason after directing one of the best stretches of offensive football in franchise history last January and February.

Harbaugh has already stated that he and his coaching staff are as accountable as anyone for the offensive struggles that led to an 8-8 season, but general manager Ozzie Newsome has already pledged personnel changes. With the decision to retain run-game coordinator Juan Castillo under the official title of offensive line coach in 2014, the Ravens told you everything you need to know in regards to their view of the main problem that plagued the offense this past season.

Even with the shortcomings of the coaching staff, the personnel was the Ravens’ biggest issue in 2013 as the offensive line underperformed and was undersized, the passing game floundered without Anquan Boldin and Dennis Pitta, and the running game was abysmal with Ray Rice and Bernard Pierce having career-worst seasons. Not even the ghost of Vince Lombardi could have overcome the issues up front and overall lack of playmakers to make the Ravens a productive offense.

With the proper personnel upgrades and the addition of a quarterbacks coach to work with Flacco — something Harbaugh now appears committed to — Hostler might be an appropriate compromise for a revamped offense in 2014. Newsome has vowed to add bulk to the interior offensive line as well as an impact wide receiver, changes that could help Hostler recapture what the offense was able to do late in the 2012 season.

Yes, his track record in his lone year as the offensive coordinator of the San Francisco 49ers in 2007 reeks of failure — ranking 32nd in the league in yards and points scored — but Hostler was also forced to lean on the quarterbacking quartet of Trent Dilfer, Alex Smith, Shaun Hill, and Chris Weinke. And despite criticism from 49ers running back Frank Gore about his play-calling, Hostler’s leading receivers were Arnaz Battle and an inexperienced Vernon Davis, not exactly weapons that are going to make opposing defenses shift focus away from the running game.

The San Francisco offense wasn’t very good before (26th in 2006) or after (23rd in 2008) Hostler served as coordinator, and that was more than six years ago as most of us wouldn’t want to be judged permanently over what we did years ago in our respective professions. Hostler has been praised by the likes of Boldin, Derrick Mason, Torrey Smith, and Marlon Brown for the work he’s done with the wide receivers over the last six years.

Detractors will fairly ask why Harbaugh initially passed on Hostler in favor of Caldwell — a man without any experience as an offensive coordinator at the time — if the receivers coach is such a good choice for the job now, but it’s safe to say Chuck Pagano turned out to be a great fit for the defensive coordinator job in 2011 despite Greg Mattison being chosen as the successor to Rex Ryan two years earlier.

The truth is we really don’t know how well Hostler — or anyone else — would fit as the Ravens offensive coordinator in 2014 and beyond until we see what improvements are made on the personnel front. The 47-year-old has seen the entire offensive road map of the Harbaugh era, witnessing what worked and what didn’t under Cameron and Caldwell and presumably learning from their mistakes in the way anyone observes his superiors and makes mental notes of what he might do differently if given the chance.

Hostler hasn’t had his chance to run the show and leave his imprint on the Baltimore offense.

And with an offseason likely to bring a number of other changes on the offensive side of the ball, some continuity within the coaching ranks might not be a bad thing.

Even if Hostler isn’t the exciting choice by any means.

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D&L Window Tinting Morning Reaction Tuesday Top 7 Local Sports Figures to Watch in 2014

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D&L Window Tinting Morning Reaction Tuesday Top 7 Local Sports Figures to Watch in 2014

Posted on 07 January 2014 by Luke Jones

In honor of the first Tuesday Top 7 of 2014, Drew Forrester and Luke Jones of The D&L Window Tinting Morning Reaction selected their top seven local sports figures to watch in 2014.

Some of the names are predictable while others may just be establishing themselves on the local sports scene, but each is worth following closely in 2014 for different reasons.

To listen to Jones’ full explanation for his list, click HERE. Forrester’s breakdown of his seven names can be found HERE.

Luke Jones’ Top 7 Local Sports Figures to Watch in 2014 …

7. Towson running back and NFL Draft prospect Terrance West
west
Skinny: Not only will the FCS record-breaking back be drafted, but it will be fun to watch his progress and to see how his skills translate to the next level.

6. Maryland wide receiver Stefon Diggs
diggs
Skinny: Questions will linger about the Terps’ ability to compete in the Big Ten, but a breakout 2014 campaign would likely have the offensive playmaker thinking carefully about the NFL.

5. Orioles pitcher Kevin Gausman
gausman
Skinny: Assuming the Orioles’ offseason continues at its current pace, the 23-year-old right-hander’s development will be critical in determining whether the club remains in contention.

4. Ravens linebacker Terrell Suggs
suggs
Skinny: The 2011 Defensive Player of the Year may have already played his final game in Baltimore if he’s not willing to adjust his $12.4 million salary cap number for the 2014 season.

3. Orioles third baseman Manny Machado
machado
Skinny: Coming off knee surgery and entering just his second full season in the majors, the 21-year-old will be counted on to not only be healthy but to take his already-impressive game to the next level.

2. Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco
flacco
Skinny: The spotlight on the Super Bowl XLVII Most Valuable Player will be brighter than ever after a disappointing 2013 season and considering his cap number balloons to $14.8 million in 2014.

1. Orioles manager Buck Showalter
buck
Skinny: After two poor offseasons in a row, does the Baltimore skipper reach his breaking point with an organization lacking the commitment to build on its recent success?

CONTINUE FOR DREW FORRESTER’S TOP 7 LOCAL SPORTS FIGURES TO WATCH IN 2014 >>>>>

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The Five Plays That Determined The Game: Ravens/Bengals

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The Five Plays That Determined The Game: Ravens/Bengals

Posted on 31 December 2013 by Glenn Clark

Following every Baltimore Ravens game this season, Ryan Chell and I will take to the airwaves Tuesdays on “The Reality Check” on AM1570 WNST.net with a segment known as “The Five Plays That Determined The Game.”

It’s a simple concept. We’ll select five plays from each game that determined the outcome. These five plays will best represent why the Ravens won or lost each game.

This would be our final analysis of the previous game before switching gears towards the next game on the schedule…except this time there is no next game on the schedule.

Here are the five plays that determined the Ravens’ 34-17 loss to the Cincinnati Bengals Sunday at Paul Brown Stadium…

(Note: not all pictures are always of actual play)

Glenn Clark’s Plays…

5. Joe Flacco pass intended for Dennis Pitta in endzone incomplete (1st quarter)

After Dalton’s second interception…an opportunity to go up 10-0. 

4. Joe Flacco pass intended for Jacoby Jones in endzone incomplete (1st quarter)

After Dalton’s first interception…an opportunity to go up 7-0.

3. Matt Elam drops would-be Andy Dalton interception on pass intended for Dane Sanzenbacher (4th quarter)

After the Bengals went up 24-17, the last hope to keep it a one possession game.

2. AJ Green 53 yard touchdown catch from Andy Dalton (1st quarter)

Everything turned here.

1. Chris Crocker intercepts Joe Flacco pass intended for Torrey Smith after Michael Johnson tip (4th quarter)

Essentially ended things. 

(Continued on Page 2…)

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Ravens-Bengals: Five predictions for Sunday

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Ravens-Bengals: Five predictions for Sunday

Posted on 28 December 2013 by Luke Jones

No strangers to entering Week 17 with work to do to make it to the postseason, the Ravens have never entered the final game needing a win and help from other teams under John Harbaugh as they try to beat the Cincinnati Bengals on Sunday.

A win would give Baltimore its sixth straight winning season under Harbaugh, but the Ravens would also need a loss by either Miami or San Diego to extend their season into January and give them a chance to defend their Super Bowl title. Of course, Baltimore’s playoff chances wouldn’t completely vanish with a loss, but losses by Miami, San Diego, and Pittsburgh would be required to land the Ravens in the postseason with an 8-8 record.

Even though the Bengals wrapped up the AFC North championship with a win and Baltimore’s loss to New England last Sunday, the Ravens won the first meeting between these teams earlier this season by forcing three turnovers and taking advantage of 134 yards in penalties committed by Cincinnati. The Bengals have been a different team at home this year as they are 7-0 and have scored more than 40 points in each of their last four contests at Paul Brown Stadium.

It’s time to go on the record as these teams meet to conclude the regular season for the fourth straight year — the last three in Cincinnati — and for the 36th time overall in the last 18 years. The Ravens have won five of the last six against Cincinnati and lead the overall series by a 20-15 margin, but the Bengals are 10-7 against Baltimore playing at home.

Here’s what to expect as the Ravens hope to win and receive help to advance to the playoffs for the sixth consecutive season …

1. Torrey Smith eclipses 100 receiving yards for the first time since Oct. 6 to set the single-season franchise record for receiving yards. The third-year wideout looked to be on his way to the Pro Bowl after collecting at least 85 receiving yards in each of his first five games, but he’s hit that mark only once since then as he and quarterback Joe Flacco just haven’t looked to be on the same page. Teams have used plenty of single-high safeties shading him to take away the deep ball, but the Ravens haven’t been able to take advantage on the opposite side. However, the speedy Jacoby Jones has been a bigger factor recently and tight end Dennis Pitta is now in the picture, which will allow Smith to recapture his early-season success with a long catch and his first 100-yard game since Oct. 6 to break Michael Jackson’s team record of 1,201 receiving yards set in 1996.

2. Flacco will show improved mobility, but his left knee will still be an issue as the Bengals bring plenty of inside pressure to collect four sacks. Nothing went well against New England last week, but the sixth-year quarterback must play at a much higher level for the Ravens to have a good chance to beat Cincinnati on the road. Once again wearing a brace this week, Flacco showed better mobility in the second half against New England, but Bengals defensive coordinator Mike Zimmer is notorious for bringing pressure up the middle, an area where the Baltimore offensive line has struggled mightily all year. Flacco played poorly against Cincinnati earlier in the year — two interceptions and only 3.9 yards per passing attempt — and will fare better than that, but he will be under duress too much against the league’s fifth-ranked defense on Sunday afternoon.

3. Giovani Bernard will run for a touchdown and catch another as a matchup problem against the Ravens defense. Trying to contain Pro Bowl wide receiver A.J. Green is always the top priority when you play the Bengals, but defensive coordinator Dean Pees and his unit must be mindful of the rookie Bernard, who had 22 touches for 97 total yards in Week 10 and is very dangerous in open space. The Ravens have struggled against shifty running backs such as Reggie Bush, Le’Veon Bell, and Matt Forte this season and Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton will try to find Bernard underneath often with the status of tight ends Jermaine Gresham and Tyler Eifert in doubt due to injuries. With rain potentially in the forecast for Sunday, Dalton will use Bernard in a way similar to Flacco finding running back Ray Rice earlier in his career, and the rookie will have a big day.

4. Elvis Dumervil and Terrell Suggs combine for three sacks, but the Baltimore defense is unable to force turnovers like it did when these teams met in early November. This pass-rushing duo has failed to make the same impact down the stretch as in the first half, but Dumervil’s best game of the year came against the Bengals when he collected three sacks lining up primarily against Andre Smith and Suggs will no longer be lining up against nemesis Andrew Whitworth, who has moved inside to left guard due to injuries. The Ravens must harass Dalton as they did in November when they pressured him into throwing three interceptions, but the Bengals haven’t turned it over at home — going plus-eight in turnovers in seven home games — and the third-year quarterback will be smart with the football knowing his team is playing a below-average offense.

5. The Ravens will battle, but a tired group that’s been poor on the road all year will fall 27-19 to miss the playoffs for the first time since 2007. The history of the Harbaugh era tells you the Ravens will figure out some way to win this game against a superior team and receive the necessary help to sneak into the playoffs, but nothing lasts forever and Baltimore’s poor performance last week smelled of fatigue and being overmatched. The Ravens received some good fortune during their four-game winning streak, but the same issues were there with a below-average offense lacking a running game and a defense that plays well overall but doesn’t force turnovers or consistently finish games. They have the pride to compete with the Bengals, but a season that included too much mediocrity, a 4-6 start, and a 2-5 road record entering Sunday ends with the Ravens staying home in January.

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Ravens list Art Jones, four others as questionable for Sunday’s game

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Ravens list Art Jones, four others as questionable for Sunday’s game

Posted on 27 December 2013 by Luke Jones

OWINGS MILLS, Md. — Making final preparations for a critical Week 17 meeting with the Cincinnati Bengals, the Ravens remain unsure if starting defensive tackle Arthur Jones will be available.

After missing practice all week while going through the NFL’s concussion protocol, Jones is listed as questionable for Sunday’s game in Cincinnati. He sustained a concussion in the fourth quarter of Sunday’s loss to New England, but the fourth-year lineman has been present in the locker room this week while waiting for his symptoms to subside.

“He’s going through the protocol, and we’ll know more [Friday] afternoon,” coach John Harbaugh said prior to the final injury report being released. “He’s got another round of [tests] this afternoon.”

Jones missed two games in the 2011 season after suffering a concussion, which might explain his slower recovery from this latest occurrence. Should he not be able to play, second-year lineman DeAngelo Tyson would likely receive the bulk of Jones’ work at the 3-technique defensive tackle spot that lines up on the outside shoulder of the guard in the Ravens’ 3-4 base alignment.

Cornerback Asa Jackson (hamstring) was the only other player absent from Friday’s practice as the second-year defensive back is expected to miss his second straight game. He is listed as doubtful on the final injury report.

Running back Ray Rice (hip), wide receiver Torrey Smith (thigh), linebacker Elvis Dumervil (ankle), and center Gino Gradkowski (knee) were all listed as questionable after each participated in Friday’s practice on a limited basis. However, none are expected to be in any real danger of missing Sunday’s game.

Cincinnati has already ruled out starting cornerback Terence Newman (knee) and reserve defensive lineman Devon Still (back) while listing rookie tight end Tyler Eifert (neck) as doubtful for Sunday’s game. In addition to Eifert, veteran Jermaine Gresham (hamstring) was designated as questionable, leaving the Bengals in a precarious position should neither be able to play.

Starting inside linebacker Vontaze Burfict (consussion) was listed as questionable, but the second-year defensive player practiced fully on Friday, a good indication that he will be cleared to play in Sunday’s game.

The referee for Sunday’s game will be Scott Green, who officiated the Ravens’ Nov. 3 loss at Cleveland earlier this year.

Sunday’s forecast in Cincinnati calls for temperatures in the mid-40s with a 50-percent chance of rain showers. Winds will average around 12 miles per hour at Paul Brown Stadium.

Here is the final injury report of the week:

BALTIMORE
DOUBTFUL: CB Asa Jackson (thigh)
QUESTIONABLE: LB Elvis Dumervil (ankle), C Gradkowski (knee), DT Arthur Jones (concussion), RB Ray Rice (thigh), WR Torrey Smith (thigh)
PROBABLE: LB Albert McClellan (neck)

CINCINNATI
OUT: CB Terence Newman (knee), DT Devon Still (back)
DOUBTFUL: TE Tyler Eifert (neck)
QUESTIONABLE: LB Vontaze Burfict (concussion), TE Jermaine Gresham (hamstring)
PROBABLE: DE Carlos Dunlap (illness), LB James Harrison (concussion), CB Dre Kirkpatrick (ankle), LB Vincent Rey (ankle), TE Alex Smith (concussion), OT Andrew Smith (ankle)

 

 

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Ravens-Lions: Five predictions for Monday night

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Ravens-Lions: Five predictions for Monday night

Posted on 15 December 2013 by Luke Jones

Playing on the road for the first time in nearly a month, the Ravens know exactly what’s at stake when they travel to Ford Field to take on the Detroit Lions on Monday night.

A three-game winning streak has pushed Baltimore above the .500 mark for the first time since October, but a 1-5 road record can’t be overlooked as the Ravens play two of their final three away from M&T Bank Stadium against first-place teams. And with Miami and San Diego also hanging around in the AFC wild-card picture, the margin for error is small.

The Ravens have the clear advantage with health as linebacker Elvis Dumervil was the only player of real consequence listed as questionable and the rush specialist is expected to make his return after missing last week’s game against Minnesota with an ankle injury. Meanwhile, the Lions have three starters listed as questionable or worse on the final injury report of the week.

It’s time to go on the record as the Ravens aim to improve to two games above .500 for the first time all season. Monday night marks the fourth time these teams have ever met with the Ravens holding a 2-1 all-time advantage. Detroit won the only meeting between the teams at Ford Field, a 35-17 final back in 2005.

Here’s what to expect as the Ravens try to maintain their grip on the No. 6 seed in the conference playoff race …

1. Facing a banged-up and below-average secondary, Torrey Smith finds room down the field for a long touchdown. The Lions will be without starting cornerback Chris Houston and rookie backup Darius Slay while starting free safety Louis Delmas missed two practices this week with a knee injury, leaving Detroit’s 25th-ranked pass defense even more vulnerable than normal. Smith has been held to just nine receptions over the last three games, but the return of tight end Dennis Pitta and the recent emergence of Jacoby Jones alleviates the heavy attention he was facing earlier in the season. This will free him up to slip past the secondary for a deep touchdown on Monday night, which will put him over the 1,000-yard mark for the first time in his three-year career.

2. Lions wide receiver Calvin Johnson will go over 100 yards receiving and catch a touchdown over safety Matt Elam in deep coverage. The rookie’s comments questioning Johnson’s age and physicality earlier in the week were foolish, but the league’s best wideout was already motivated with the Lions fighting Chicago and Green Bay for the NFC North title. Elam has been a disappointment in pass coverage — recording just two pass breakups — as he’s played out of position all season and his small frame doesn’t play well against Johnson if he’s asked to provide help over the top. Cornerback Jimmy Smith has received most of the attention in terms of who will cover Johnson, but the Ravens rarely ever flip their corners and will likely try to offer as many different looks as they can in coverage. It won’t matter as Johnson will still get his yards and a score on Monday.

3. Linebacker Terrell Suggs will collect his first sack since Nov. 3, but the Ravens won’t generate much pressure on Detroit quarterback Matthew Stafford. The Lions have only allowed 15 sacks this season, which is a major reason why Stafford has remained healthy and is 24 yards shy of his third consecutive 4,000-yard season. Baltimore hasn’t collected a sack since Week 12, but blitzing will leave the defense vulnerable underneath against running back Reggie Bush coming out of the backfield, leaving defensive coordinator Dean Pees in a difficult position. Suggs will beat left tackle Riley Reiff for a sack in the first half and Dumervil’s return will help, but Stafford’s quick release and the Ravens’ concern with Bush and fellow back Joique Bell catching passes out of the backfield will lead to another week of underwhelming pressure.

4. Joe Flacco will roll out and move from the pocket by design to neutralize the Lions’ interior pressure to throw for 250 yards and two touchdowns. The presence of defensive tackles Ndamukong Suh and Nick Fairley is a major concern for the Ravens as Flacco will need time in the pocket to step up and go vertical to test a poor secondary. Even if right guard Marshal Yanda and center Gino Gradkowski can hold their own against Suh, Fairley is likely to give A.Q. Shipley fits, which will prompt offensive coordinator Jim Caldwell to use designed roll-outs and waggles for Flacco to move outside the pocket. Flacco has shown that he can throw effectively on the run and Pitta’s presence will help in that regard with intermediate passes to move the chains. Detroit’s defensive line is too strong to try to play straight up in the passing game, so the Ravens will try to get Flacco in space behind the line of scrimmage.

5. Struggling at the line of scrimmage on both sides of the ball, the Ravens can’t quite keep up in a 27-20 final to Detroit. Most attention has fallen on the likes of Johnson, Stafford, and Bush this week, but the Ravens’ running game and pass rush do not match up well against the Lions, which will be the difference in a game in which points could come liberally for both sides. Baltimore will not be able to find space against the league’s sixth-ranked run defense, putting everything on Flacco’s throwing arm, but the passing game just hasn’t had a consistent 60 minutes of play all season long and that will catch up with them late in a back-and-forth game. With the Ravens unable to pressure Stafford, the Lions will just be too tough to stop as a late score against a defense that’s been unable to finish will be the difference in an entertaining contest.

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temp120813_Week14_MBgame winner

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A Ravens Classic

Posted on 11 December 2013 by Tom Federline

Classic in the sense that the Ravens elevated the blood pressure of their fan base, yet once again. Classic in the sense that the Ravens offense was non-existent for 3-plus quarters, yet once again. Classic in the sense that it appeared they pulled off another win by just being one play better than their “challenged” opponent. The Ravens are a tough team to watch. They are not a team for the light-hearted. If you cannot handle roller-coaster rides, than you cannot handle being a Ravens fans. This past Sunday, the game was another classic of Ravens frustration. They finally put a drive together and went up 15-12 with 2:05 minutes left. At that point, I thought the game was won. And then…….the game turned into an NFL Classic.

The snow and inclement weather was cool. It was cold. It was wet. There was poor visibility. There was poor footing. The fans were “primed”. The environment was inviting for a Classic to surface. Then for about 58 minutes we watched over-paid grown men playing a neighborhood backyard football game in the snow. Ok, we’ll add poor officiating, by refs that have no real accountability. Best part about those 58 minutes, you could surf between multiple 1:00 games – and most of them had snow or “classic” football weather.

The Ravens contribution to football folklore did occur in those last 2 minutes and 5 seconds. But the elevated blood pressure started with that late 4th quarter TD drive and the ensuing 2-point conversion (Flacco to Torrey Smith). That score put the Ravens up by 3. Was anybody going to feel real comfortable with the Ravens being up by less than a field goal with time still on the clock? So bang, 2:05 left Ravens up 15-12 “We won!”, 1:27 left – Gerhart run up the middle, Minnesota Whiners up 19-15, RUKM – “We lost”, 1:16 left Savior Jacoby kickoff return Ravens up 22-19, RUKM – “We Won!”, 0:45 left #84 burns Ravens again on 79 yard screenplay, Minn Whiners up 26-22, 0:04 left Flacco to Marlon Brown draggin’ his feet in the snow on the endline – TD, Ravens up 29-26 RUKM – “We (may) have Won!” There’s 4 seconds left and the Minn Whiners still have a chance to score. Squibb kick/tackle/game over – relief – now, what just happened?

If you were there and stayed……..you have a story to pass on to your grandchildren. If you were home comfy and cozy on your couch…….you have a story to pass on to family and friends. If you were lucky enough to catch it at all…..you have a story to tell anybody. Quite an experience. Pretty cool. It was even cooler that they won.

I have not been a big Flacco fan this year. I like Flacco. Been supporting him since day one. Maybe it’s the contract. Maybe it’s me expecting to much. Whatever it is, he is the cat running the show and the show ain’t been pretty. I will give him kudos for maintaining his composure while projecting a “Cool, Calm, Collected” – (The Rolling Stones), demeanor. The Ravens and Baltimore experienced quite the rollercoaster ride of win, loss, win, loss, win. Total ride in real time, 10-15 minutes. Good calls, no calls, bad calls, screw all that. The boys on the field and game environment dictated those 10-15 minutes of “Classic” football.

Do the Ravens have a shot for the playoffs? Yes, mathematically they do. What does your heart tell you? My first reaction – no way, the Ravens are not a very good team. They can’t run the ball, they can’t block, they can’t blow anybody out, they can’t close and they’re really not that good against the no huddle. What they can do is, win 7 games so far and keep playoff hopes alive one more week. They are not a team of destiny, like last year. They are a team, that if they hang close enough, they do have play makers that can make something happen.

What’s next? At Lions, Patriots here (augh – I don’t even like typing that name) and then at Bengals. It’s going to be a tough road. My thoughts – beat (I mean whoop) that team from the Northeast, then I really don’t care how they end up. Denver with Peyton healthy, looking fairly formidable. And I like the 49er’s. Suggestion to MASN if they make this a Ravens Classic for viewing down the road; condense the first 55 minutes into 15, then let the last 5 minutes of the game play out. Then finish with those post game interviews. Jacoby Jones establishing himself as a “must” go to interviewee. Go Ravens.

D.I.Y.
Fedman

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The Five Plays That Determined The Game: Ravens/Steelers

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The Five Plays That Determined The Game: Ravens/Steelers

Posted on 03 December 2013 by Glenn Clark

Following every Baltimore Ravens game this season, Ryan Chell and I will take to the airwaves Tuesdays on “The Reality Check” on AM1570 WNST.net with a segment known as “The Five Plays That Determined The Game.”

It’s a simple concept. We’ll select five plays from each game that determined the outcome. These five plays will best represent why the Ravens won or lost each game.

This will be our final analysis of the previous game before switching gears towards the next game on the schedule.

Here are the five plays that determined the Ravens’ 22-20 win over the Pittsburgh Steelers Thanksgiving night at M&T Bank Stadium…

(Note: not all pictures are always of actual play)

Glenn Clark’s Plays…

5. Shaun Suisham tackled for 12 yard loss on aborted/fake field goal (2nd quarter)

The only “turnover” of the game. Went from three points one way to a short field (and three points) the other way.

4. Heath Miller ruled down at 1 yard line via replay after 20 yard catch from Ben Roethlisberger (4th quarter)

The Steelers were ultimately forced to run more clock and use a timeout after Miller was ruled to have not gotten in.

3. Torrey Smith 7 yard TD catch from Joe Flacco (1st quarter)

The Ravens’ only TD of the game came in a big early spot after a sack.

2. Torrey Smith 54 yard catch from Joe Flacco (1st quarter)

The Ravens didn’t go back to it much, but it was a huge statement early.

1. Chykie Brown defends Ben Roethlisberger pass intended for Emmanuel Sanders on two point conversion (4th quarter)

It wasn’t over until.

(Continued on Page 2…)

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