Tag Archive | "Tyrod Taylor"

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Live from Owings Mills: Ravens only missing Phillips on Thursday

Posted on 08 September 2011 by Luke Jones

OWINGS MILLS, Md. — A day closer to their season-opening meeting with the Pittsburgh Steelers, the Ravens failed to have perfect attendance for a second straight day as linebacker Jason Phillips was missing from the open portion of practice.

However, all players were dressed in helmets, shells, and shorts and working. Center Matt Birk (knee), wide receiver Lee Evans (foot), cornerback Chris Carr (hamstring), and quarterback Tyrod Taylor (left shoulder) were all practicing for the second straight day after none of them were listed on Wednesday’s official injury report.

Linebacker Dannell Ellerbe wore a wrap on his left hand but did not appear to be limited during special teams drills.

Lardarius Webb, Chris Carr, and Ed Reed all received work fielding punts during the special teams portion of practice, though speculation persists that rookie LaQuan Williams will factor in the punt return game on Sunday.

Prior to the start of practice, several players visited with Baltimore Colts Hall of Famer Lenny Moore, including running back Ray Rice and free safety Ed Reed.

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Ravens injury report empty for Wednesday

Posted on 07 September 2011 by Luke Jones

OWINGS MILLS, Md. — Center Matt Birk has been cautiously optimistic in discussing his status for the season opener on Sunday.

Wednesday’s official injury report supports that thinking, and then some, with the Ravens reporting no injuries.

Birk (knee), receiver Lee Evans (foot), cornerback Chris Carr (hamstring), and quarterback Tyrod Taylor practiced fully and appear to all be set to play against the Steelers.

Pittsburgh’s outlook wasn’t quite as favorable, but listed only three players on their official injury report.


DID NOT PARTICIPATE – LB Chris Carter (hamstring)
LIMITED – WR Jerricho Cotchery (hamstring), T Marcus Gilbert (concussion)

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Live from Owings Mills: Ravens gearing up for Steelers with full squad practicing

Posted on 07 September 2011 by Luke Jones

OWINGS MILLS, Md. — As the Ravens move closer to taking on their hated rivals from Pittsburgh to begin the season on Sunday afternoon, they appear to be getting healthier just in time for the occasion.

All 53 players on the active roster were present and working during the open portion of Wednesday’s practice, including center Matt Birk (knee), wide receiver Lee Evans (foot), and cornerback Chris Carr (hamstring). All three were dressed in full pads and did not appear to be limited in the early stages of the workout.

With primary kick returner David Reed suspended in the regular-season opener for violating the NFL’s substance-abuse policy, cornerback Lardarius Webb appeared to be the primary returner during the special teams portion of practice. Rookie receiver Torrey Smith also fielded kicks.

For anyone trying to find some clarity in what the Ravens plan to do at the center position, Birk was snapping to starter Joe Flacco while newcomer Andre Gurode snapped to rookie backup Tyrod Taylor during individual drills.

Visit the BuyAToyota.com Audio Vault to hear from John Harbaugh, Joe Flacco, Ray Lewis, Ed Reed, Ray Rice, Terrell Suggs, Andre Gurode, Lee Evans, Jarret Johnson, and Bernard Pollard prior to Wednesday’s practice in Owings Mills.

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Ravens take practice field for last time before final cuts

Posted on 02 September 2011 by Luke Jones

OWINGS MILLS, Md. — As the Ravens closed the book on their 3-1 preseason in Atlanta on Thursday night, many on the current 80-man roster took the field in Owings Mills on Friday afternoon for the last time.

Facing a deadline to trim the team down to 53 players by 6 p.m. on Saturday, coach John Harbaugh shifts his attention to the Pittsburgh Steelers with a final look at the 27 players — or more, depending on other potential moves — who won’t be deemed good enough to take the turf at M&T Bank Stadium on Sept. 11.

“You are excited to finalize your roster,” Harbaugh said. “You are excited to say this is going to be our team. This is how we’re going to move forward, but that’s going to not include some guys, and that’s the toughest thing.”

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Among those decisions will be a number of players with promising upside, but may prove too raw to take up a 53-man roster spot. Second-year offensive tackle Ramon Harewood is the quintessential example after being drafted in the sixth round from Morehouse in 2010. Spending last season on injured reserve, Harewood’s return to the practice field was delayed this summer as he continued to work his way back from surgeries on both knees, and the 340-pounder struggled when given opportunities during preseason games.

For players such as Harewood and newcomer Michael McAdoo (who went unselected in the supplemental draft before being signed last week), the Baltimore front office must weigh the risk of potentially losing them to other teams against the value of a green player using a spot on the regular roster.

“You try to figure out who’s got a chance to maybe get picked up by somebody and who has less chance of doing that,” Harbaugh said. “But the whole league’s the same. [Teams] need people who are ready to play. You can’t just be bringing guys in and putting them on as developmental projects. You only get 53 guys.”

Once the Ravens have established their regular-season roster on Saturday, all attention shifts to the regular season, with only nine days remaining until the Steelers visit to kick off the regular season. And with that, the intensity level grows and the stakes become much higher for a team expecting to play well into January — and maybe even later.

The fact that Baltimore’s biggest rival stands at the beginning of that journey only adds spice to an exciting time of the year.

“The fact that it’s Pittsburgh adds to it, but it would be that way no matter what,” Harbaugh said. “It’s the regular season. It’s for real now; they count. The tenured guys, this is the week that these guys wait for and that they look forward to.”

NOTES: Harbaugh offered no new information regarding the status of rookie quarterback Tyrod Taylor after sharing the belief that the injury isn’t considered serious following the Atlanta game. “It doesn’t seem to be a real serious thing. I’m sure he’s got some soreness in there. I think he’s going to be OK.” … Players will be off on Saturday and Sunday before being made available to the media on Monday evening.

To hear more from John Harbaugh, visit the BuyAToyota.com Audio Vault right here.

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Live from Owings Mills: Ravens without Birk, Evans for Friday's practice

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Live from Owings Mills: Ravens without Birk, Evans for Friday’s practice

Posted on 02 September 2011 by Luke Jones

OWINGS MILLS, Md. — After arriving back in Baltimore early Friday morning, the Ravens returned to the practice field several hours later for a shells-and-shorts workout following their 21-7 victory over the Atlanta Falcons in the preseason finale.

Center Matt Birk (knee) and receiver Lee Evans (foot) were not present for the portion of practice open to the media, as concern grows whether the two veterans will be 100 percent for the opener against Pittsburgh on Sept. 11. With Birk not practicing, Bryan Mattison was once again filling in at center as he has throughout the preseason.

Quarterback Tyrod Taylor (left shoulder) and offensive tackle Ramon Harewood (undisclosed) were also absent from practice. Taylor left Thursday’s game in the first quarter after his left shoulder was driven to the Georgia Dome turf. The Ravens labeled it a contusion after initial tests, and Taylor was seen with his left arm in a sling on the sideline during the second half.

Cornerback Chris Carr (hamstring) and offensive lineman Mark LeVoir (undisclosed) returned to practice after missing workouts earlier this week. Carr missed the final three preseason games after injuring his left hamstring while covering Evans during practice on Aug. 15.

As for the impending deadline of needing to get down to 53 players by 6 p.m. on Saturday, the Ravens are not expected to make any cuts today and have traditionally waited to make moves on the day of the deadline.

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With preseason complete, Ravens still filled with unknowns entering Steelers week

Posted on 01 September 2011 by Luke Jones

Any answers we hoped to uncover on Thursday night were history when coach John Harbaugh elected to rest most of his starters on both sides of the ball in a 21-7 win over the Atlanta Falcons in the preseason finale.

With the coaching staff not wanting to risk any injuries on the fast turf at the Georgia Dome, left tackle Bryant McKinnie and the new-look offensive line didn’t even receive as much as a cameo appearance against Atlanta despite suggestions otherwise. The decision means the first time we’ll get a look at McKinnie and veteran center Matt Birk in live-game action will be against the Pittsburgh Steelers on Sept. 11.

It’s a scary proposition, but the Ravens will hope practice reps against the vaunted Baltimore defense as well as veteran moxie will be enough to prepare McKinnie, Ben Grubbs, Birk, Marshal Yanda, and Michael Oher for the likes of James Harrison, LaMarr Woodley, and the brutal Pittsburgh defense. As offensive coordinator Cam Cameron put it earlier this week, the Ravens have no other choice but to be ready in a critical battle in Week 1.

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The preseason finale managed to create even more doubt at the backup quarterback position after rookie Tyrod Taylor left the game with a left shoulder contusion in the first quarter, leaving Hunter Cantwell to struggle through an ugly offensive performance. Aside from it being painfully clear Cantwell might not even be an option as a third-string quarterback, the Ravens will be forced to bring in another quarterback with Taylor’s status not being known for next weekend.

The Ravens also received little clarity in decided who would be the No. 3 receiver, in large part due to Cantwell being forced into action. However, David Reed didn’t do himself any favors in dropping two passes and being flagged for a questionable offensive pass interference call in the end zone late in the first half. Torrey Smith made two catches for 12 yards before leaving the game early in the second half with apparent leg cramps.

Despite the ugly nature of Thursday’s encounter, the Ravens can also take a few positives away from the win over Atlanta. Rookie cornerback Jimmy Smith turned in his steadiest performance of the preseason, making five tackles and deflecting a pass that was intercepted by linebacker Jason Phillips to set up the Ravens’ first score of the game. Smith was flagged for a horse-collar tackle, but continues to show the impressive combination of speed and toughness that made him the 27th overall pick in this year’s draft.

Rookie defensive end Pernell McPhee continued an outstanding preseason by continuing to create pressure in the backfield, making it a near certainty that he factors into defensive coordinator Chuck Pagano’s plans as a rotational pass rusher earlier than expected. He and Paul Kruger (one sack) will be relied upon to help boost an underwhelming pass rush from a year ago that recorded a franchise-low 27 sacks.

And rookie receiver LaQuan Williams made a final bid to earn a spot on the 53-man roster with a 33-yard punt return against the Falcons and showed improved effort in special teams, something Harbaugh and special teams coordinator Jerry Rosburg mentioned earlier this week. Whether he makes the final cut or the Ravens try to stash him away on the practice squad, the former Maryland and Poly product has been one of the biggest surprises of the summer and has taken advantage of every opportunity awarded to him.

All that aside, the Ravens now put the preseason behind them, shifting their focus to their biggest rival while still trying to find the answers to a number of key questions.

Will the offensive line be able to gel quickly enough to hold up against the Pittsburgh pressure? Is McKinnie “football” ready? Will Birk’s knee hold up without any live-game action after surgery?

With Domonique Foxworth and Chris Carr less than 100 percent, are Jimmy Smith and Cary Williams ready to be starting cornerbacks in the NFL?

Are the Ravens ready to play — and beat — a Ben Roethlisberger-led Steelers squad for the first time since 2006?

All interesting questions, with the answers coming sooner rather than later.

The preseason is finally behind us.

And real football is about to begin.

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A Bit of Doubt Good for Flacco...Ravens

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A Bit of Doubt Good for Flacco…Ravens

Posted on 01 September 2011 by Thyrl Nelson

You can’t blame Baltimore for being sensitive about their quarterbacks. While the team itself has worked a minor miracle in establishing such a strong history and identity in such a short period of time, their experiences with the guys under center have left as much of a “legacy” with the fans as their penchant for stifling defense. That said, during his brief tenure at the helm of the Baltimore offense Joe Flacco has probably earned a lot more leeway, respect and benefit of the doubt than he’s seemingly gotten from the Baltimore fans (at least a vocal minority), opponents or the media at large.

At the end of the day, that could serve the Ravens and their team goals well. The greatest of champions seem to emerge from improbable challenges. Flacco’s road has been wrought with them. Maybe it’s finally time for him to respond to those challenges (and critics) in a big way, and put all of the arguments to bed.


Whether or not however, Flacco is able to silence his critics and reveal the mythical “it” factor that those offering doubts fail to see is debatable, and maybe not what’s best for the Ravens anyway. As the world quickly buys into Aaron Rodgers, Josh Freeman, Matt Ryan and Sam Bradford, their reluctance to embrace Flacco may lead to at least a modest savings for the Ravens when the time comes to extend Joe’s contract. Something tells me though that enough of the league buys into Flacco that those savings won’t be too substantial.


For better or for worse, our inability to truly believe in a quarterback, as Baltimore fans, will be Flacco’s cross to bear until he erases all doubts with his achievements. Until then, the criticisms and doubts will continue, as will the magnification of the shortcomings in his game, as will the calls for the backup.


Speaking of the backup quarterback…it seems the Ravens may be realistically entertaining the notion of carrying Tyrod Taylor as the #2 quarterback into the 2011 season. As everyone comes up with their own 53-man roster projections, there are already some tough choices to be made. Adding a third (veteran) QB to the mix in front of Taylor would make for another tough decision over those final few spots. If the Ravens can get away with it I’ll bet they’ll keep Taylor on as the #2 at least until after week 2 and then might think about bringing in a veteran without having to guarantee his contract.


While Taylor is an interesting option and exciting piece for the future, positioned as the #2 quarterback it would seem that the Ravens have conceded that they’ll go as far as Flacco can take them this year and in the event Flacco goes down their prospects would be bleak anyway. That said, the same scenario might be true were it Marc Bulger or some other veteran of note behind Flacco if called on for a long stretch.


As Taylor’s athleticism continues to enamor fans however, and as the Michael Vick comparisons begin to flow more readily, the question might become how could they use Taylor to their benefit right now.


The “Suggs Package” wildcat looks that were Troy Smith’s calling card a few seasons ago would surely be much more dangerous and unsettling with an athlete the caliber of Taylor behind center. But if Taylor were the #2 QB, using him in that capacity (much like pinch hitting your backup catcher in baseball) could leave your without a net at the most important position on the field.


The other side of that argument of course is that teams like the Colts and Saints and Packers don’t run wildcat sets because taking their quarterbacks off the field doesn’t make those teams better. When Flacco becomes elite in the eyes of those deploying him, even an all world athlete like Tyrod Taylor won’t make the Ravens better by replacing Flacco behind center. The rank and deployment of Taylor this year should give us a pretty healthy read on how the Ravens coaches feel about Flacco’s development, ability and value as a playmaker.

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Mocking The 53: A Look At Roster Ahead of Preseason Finale

Posted on 30 August 2011 by Glenn Clark

OWINGS MILLS, Md. – The Baltimore Ravens travel to the Georgia Dome to meet the Atlanta Falcons Thursday night, the final opportunity for players on the roster “bubble” to impress Head Coach John Harbaugh and coordinators Cam Cameron, Chuck Pagano and Jerry Rosburg.

As I am no longer the Ravens beat reporter here at WNST I have deferred to Luke Jones for most of our coverage during Training Camp. I have had the chance to get out to 1 Winning Drive this week, so I decided I would bring back “Mocking The 53” to get a look at how the team may trim the roster from 80 players to 53.

As I’ve explained before, the team does not have a certain number of players they keep at each position, so I have never done this breakdown by position. Instead, I offer what is more like a “power ranking” of players from 1-80.

Keep in mind, GM Ozzie Newsome is likely to make an addition or two (a veteran backup quarterback-perhaps still Marc Bulger namely) before either Saturday’s cut day or the team’s opener September 11 against the Pittsburgh Steelers at M&T Bank Stadium.

1. DT Haloti Ngata
2. QB Joe Flacco
3. LB Terrell Suggs
4. RB Ray Rice
5. WR Anquan Boldin
6. S Ed Reed
7. LB Ray Lewis
8. G Ben Grubbs
9. G Marshal Yanda
10. CB Jimmy Smith

Whether or not Smith is a starter on September 11 is the only issue in this group. All of these guys are clearly on the team and significant contributors.

11. OT Michael Oher
12. WR Lee Evans
13. FB Vonta Leach
14. DE Cory Redding
15. P Sam Koch
16. TE Ed Dickson
17. S Bernard Pollard
18. K Billy Cundiff
19. DT Terrence Cody
20. LB Jarret Johnson

Like the first group, the players in the group above are all safely on the roster and are expected to be significant contributors.

21. CB Cary Williams
22. S Tom Zbikowski
23. C Matt Birk
24. OT Bryant McKinnie
25. CB Chris Carr
26. S Haruki Nakamura
27. TE Dennis Pitta
28. RB Ricky Williams
29. LB Jameel McClain
30. WR Torrey Smith

There’s no drama in this group either. McClain still appears to be the frontrunner for the other starting ILB job, while the team has remained steadfast in their support of Torrey Smith despite struggles. There’s a chance he’s not the third receiver on September 11, but he’s absolutely safe on the roster.

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Bisciotti on Ngata extension: “I’m Having A Hard Time Giving Away $60 Million”

Posted on 16 August 2011 by Glenn Clark

For the second time in 2011, Baltimore Ravens owner Steve Bisciotti held a conference call with fans Tuesday night. Owners of Premium seats and Personal Seat Licenses (PSL’s) at M&T Bank Stadium were invited to participate in the call.

During the call, Bisciotti was asked by fans about the progress the team was making on signing three time All-Pro DT (and defending team MVP) Haloti Ngata to a long term contract extension. Ngata was given the franchise tag by the Ravens early in the offseason, guaranteeing him to make $12.476 million this season.

Signing Ngata to a contract extension would free up salary cap space for the Ravens to address still lingering needs. A ProFootballTalk.com report this week said the Ravens had just $2.8 million of cap space ($120 million) available to sign players even after trading for former Buffalo Bills WR Lee Evans.

Bisciotti appeared frustrated but hopeful about the talks.

“I’m having a hard time giving away $60 million” said the owner. “I have a feeling things are going to work out. I have no doubt in my mind Haloti’s going to be with us (long term).”

Ngata was named to his third consecutive Pro Bowl in 2010 and is widely viewed to be one of the better interior D-Linemen in the National Football League. He is coming off a season in which he tied a career high with 63 tackles and set a new career high with 5.5 sacks.

The Ravens still have a number of needs throughout the team. OL Oniel Cousins has worked out at RG this week with starter Marshal Yanda sidelined due to back spasms. Rookie Jah Reid has worked as the first team RT, leaving the team very thin at the tackle position. Multiple outlets have suggested the Ravens could consider veteran OT Jon Stinchcomb, who was recently released by the New Orleans Saints.

The team could still use help on the interior of the Offensive Line as well. Starting C Matt Birk (knee) has been sidelined for most of Training Camp and is not expected to return until close to the team’s Week 1 home opener against their AFC North rival Pittsburgh Steelers. The team attempted to sign veteran Casey Rabach (who played most recently with the Washington Redskins) earlier in Camp, but was unable to complete the signing when he failed a physical.

Backup quarterback is also an issue for the team, after rookie Tyrod Taylor provided mixed results in the team’s exhibition opener against the Philadelphia Eagles at Lincoln Financial Field. The team also has Hunter Cantwell on the roster, but the third year player from Louisville spent all of 2010 on the practice squad. The team could still try to convince 2010 backup Marc Bulger to come out of retirement.

Bisciotti had hoped superstar ILB Ray Lewis would accept a “home town discount” upon reaching free agency in 2009, but the future Hall of Famer was quick to point out that he wouldn’t accept less than market value. After failing to convince Lewis to take that such a deal, Bisciotti joked Tuesday he didn’t expect to be able to agree to a similar arrangement with the former Oregon DT to remain in Charm City.

Even without a home town discount, the Ravens would benefit from simply signing Ngata to any sort of extension that includes a significant signing bonus and bigger money on the back end.

If Bisciotti can indeed “give away” that $60 million, the team could begin taking other steps towards completing what they hope will be a roster capable of reaching Super Bowl XLVI in Indianapolis.


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Forget the fickle fans; Baltimore’s media panics after Ravens ugly effort

Posted on 12 August 2011 by Rex Snider

As we endured last night’s preseason exposure of the problems facing the Ravens, I will not follow suit with virtually EVERYONE who has a public voice and format, in Baltimore.

While I concur with many assessments regarding the performances of specific players, I also recognize that many of the miscues, missteps and mistakes fall at the feet of men who share a common trait ….

They’re young and INEXPERIENCED.

Did you expect Torrey Smith to basically strut into Lincoln Financial Field and serve notice that he’s a force to be feared? 

Did you really think Tyrod Taylor was going to exhibit the poise and split-second decision making demanded of a quarterback at the game’s highest level?

Did you anticipate seeing Jimmy Smith camouflaging his presence, while snagging an ill-timed pass and returning it for a quick six?

Nearly all of the things done correctly by a player in purple had a veteran attachment to it.  And, that shouldn’t be an unexpected reality as we look back on this first preseason game.

I’m not drawing a distinct line between right and wrong, as it applies to veterans and younger players.  There were isolated incidents of playmaking, as well as blunders with no real attachment to age and experience.

Michael Oher struggled and that’s a concern for me.  He anchors the most important position on the offensive line and he must develop a finesse to accompany the size and strength demanded of a player in his role. 

Oniel Cousins looked lost ….

Aside from the typical rust associated with the inactivity of an off-season, Oher and Cousins must play better.  Will they?  Repetition and renewed familiarity have proven to be key in the past and history does repeat itself.  So, don’t panic ….

On the other hand, Sergio Kindle looked very stellar – albeit from a “rough around the edges” perspective.  He over-pursued at times, and playmaking quarterbacks will teach him a lesson or three before he gets it.

But, as I suggested, it was the first game of the preseason.  It was an opportunity for the Ravens coaching staff to see the depth of talent while being opposed by competition in a different colored jersey.

Torrey Smith has the raw ability; he’ll develop and get more comfortable.  Jimmy Smith is in the same spot.  They’re rookies, give ‘em some slack.

Tyrod Taylor is a project and he’s going to be surpassed by a veteran talent, prior to the season opener against the Steelers.  Heck, he may never be a #2 quarterback in this league – he was a 6th round draft selection, after all.

Don’t buy into the sensationalism that many media sources are selling.  Most of the players who dictate the direction and ultimate success of this Ravens team spent 90% of last night’s game on the sideline, sporting ballcaps.

Relax and exercise the patience that preseason football dictates.  The reasons such games exist are varied, but an opportunity to recognize the shortcomings from last night’s contest is paramount among such reasons.

Ozzie Newsome and his staff needed to see this.  Now, they’ll get to work behind the scenes and take the necessary steps to remedy a few situations.  The coaching staff needed last night’s event, as well.  They, too, will build on it.

Don’t fall for the fears being spread today.  Don’t do it ….

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