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Ravens list 17 players as probable for Saturday’s divisional playoff in Denver

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Ravens list 17 players as probable for Saturday’s divisional playoff in Denver

Posted on 11 January 2013 by Luke Jones

Releasing their final injury report ahead of Saturday’s divisional round game against the Denver Broncos, the Ravens listed 17 players no worse than probable as they appear healthier than they’ve been since the early portion of the season.

Running back Bernard Pierce, fullback Vonta Leach, linebacker Dannell Ellerbe, and wide receivers Torrey Smith and David Reed all practiced on a limited basis on Friday, but each player was designated as probable against Denver. Pierce and Leach returned to the practice field on a limited basis Thursday after failing to participate in Wednesday’s workout.

Earlier Friday, the Ravens placed offensive lineman Jah Reid (toe) on injured reserve and activated cornerback Asa Jackson from the reserved-suspended list.

Coach John Harbaugh anticipated an optimistic injury report when speaking to reporters following Thursday’s practice, which was the final open day of the week for the media in Owings Mills.

“It’s encouraging to have all our guys,” Harbaugh said. “As I pointed out earlier, we’re not anticipating anybody missing this game. We’ll have that report out for you, but I don’t think it’s going to be anything on there that’s going to surprise you at all. We look like we’re in good shape.”

Meanwhile, the Denver Broncos also turned in a favorable final injury report as only cornerback Tracy Porter was ruled out with a concussion. Head coach John Fox listed seven other players as probable for Saturday’s game.

BALTIMORE
OUT: OL Jah Reid (toe)
PROBABLE: WR Anquan Boldin (shoulder), WR Tandon Doss (ankle), LB Dannell Ellerbe (ankle), LB Adrian Hamilton (illness), FB Vonta Leach (knee/ankle), LB Ray Lewis (triceps), LB Albert McClellan (shoulder), DE Pernell McPhee (thigh), DT Haloti Ngata (knee), RB Bernard Pierce (knee), S Bernard Pollard (chest), WR David Reed (thigh), S Ed Reed (shoulder), CB Jimmy Smith (abdominal), WR Torrey Smith (back), LB Terrell Suggs (Achilles/biceps), G Marshal Yanda (shoulder)

DENVER
OUT: CB Tracy Porter (concussion)
PROBABLE: S Mike Adams (knee), T Ryan Clady (shoulder), T Orlando Franklin (knee), WR Trindon Holliday (ankle), G Chris Kuper (ankle), S Jim Leonhard (thigh), WR Matt Willis (knee)

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Pierce, Leach return to practice on limited basis Thursday

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Pierce, Leach return to practice on limited basis Thursday

Posted on 10 January 2013 by Luke Jones

(Updated: 3:50 p.m.)

OWINGS MILLS, Md. — In their final full practice open to the media ahead of their playoff game against the Denver Broncos, the Ravens regained two vital members of their offensive backfield as backup running back Bernard Pierce and Pro Bowl fullback Vonta Leach returned to practice on Thursday.

Each player worked on a limited basis in the Ravens’ final full practice of the week before departing for Denver on Friday afternoon. Pierce hadn’t participated in practices in the previous two days as he’s dealt with a knee injury. The veteran Leach has been hindered by an ankle injury for the last month and received Wednesday’s practice off after working on Tuesday.

Linebacker Dannell Ellerbe worked on a limited basis once again, but two players were added to Thursday’s report as wide receivers Torrey Smith (back) and David Reed (thigh) were limited participants as well.

“It’s encouraging to have all our guys,” coach John Harbaugh said. “As I pointed out earlier, we’re not anticipating anybody missing this game. We’ll have that report out for you, but I don’t think it’s going to be anything on there that’s going to surprise you at all. We look like we’re in good shape.”

Pierce relished the opportunity for some extra rest as he’s dealing with a sore right knee. The 2012 third-round pick watched practice from the sideline on Tuesday and Wednesday, which was a good indication that the Ravens weren’t overly concerned about the injury.

In contrast to Pierce, Leach has typically received at least one practice off in each of the last few weeks to rest his sore ankle. The three-time Pro Bowl selection removed any doubt that he would be ready to go against Denver. All signs point to Pierce being available as well.

“I had to take it easy a couple days,” said Pierce, who rushed for a game-high 103 yards in the wild-card playoff win over Indianapolis. “My body was real beat up, but I’m back. I’m feeling good, and it’s time to play football.”

The rookie back has become a larger part of the running game over the last five games in which he’s rushed for 388 yards on 62 attempts, which is good for just below 6.3 yards per carry. Pro Bowl running back Ray Rice remains a large part of the offense, but many are calling for the physical Pierce to receive extensive work to wear down opposing front sevens.

Regardless of his strong performance over the weeks of the season, Pierce said there will be no way to keep him off the field in terms of his health for Saturday.

“I’m a very competitive person,” Pierce said. “I’m ready to die for my team on any given Sunday, so I’m not missing anything.”

Guard Jah Reid (toe) was the only player absent from practice on Thursday as his status for the divisional playoff game in Denver remains in serious doubt. The second-year offensive lineman did not play in last Sunday’s win over Indianapolis, leading the Ravens to insert veteran Bryant McKinnie at left tackle and slide rookie Kelechi Osemele to left guard and Michael Oher to right tackle.

There were no changes to the Broncos’ injury report on Thursday as cornerback Tracy Porter (concussion) was the only player not to participate.

BALTIMORE
DID NOT PARTICIPATE: G Jah Reid (toe)
LIMITED PARTICIPATION: LB Dannell Ellerbe (ankle), FB Vonta Leach (knee/ankle), RB Bernard Pierce (knee), WR David Reed (thigh), WR Torrey Smith (back)
FULL PARTICIPATION: WR Anquan Boldin (shoulder), WR Tandon Doss (ankle), LB Adrian Hamilton (illness), LB Ray Lewis (triceps), LB Albert McClellan (shoulder), DE Pernell McPhee (thigh), DT Haloti Ngata (knee), S Bernard Pollard (chest), S Ed Reed (shoulder), CB Jimmy Smith (abdominal), LB Terrell Suggs (achilles/bicep), G Marshal Yanda (shoulder)

DENVER
DID NOT PARTICIPATE: CB Tracy Porter (concussion)
FULL PARTICIPATION: S Mike Adams (knee), T Ryan Clady (shoulder), T Orlando Franklin (knee), WR Trindon Holliday (ankle), G Chris Kuper (ankle), S Jim Leonhard (thigh), WR Matt Willis (knee)

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Leach, Pierce, Reid miss Wednesday’s practice

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Leach, Pierce, Reid miss Wednesday’s practice

Posted on 09 January 2013 by Luke Jones

OWINGS MILLS, Md. — The Ravens continued preparations for Saturday’s wild-card playoff game against the Denver Broncos without two key members of their backfield on Wednesday.

Fullback Vonta Leach (ankle) was absent during the open portion of practice while running back Bernard Pierce didn’t participate in practice for the second straight day with a knee injury. Dealing with an ankle injury for the better part of a month, Leach appeared to be practicing on Tuesday, but the Ravens did not release an injury report. He has received periodic days of rest over the last few weeks of practice, so his absence on Wednesday should be regarded with little concern.

Despite rushing for a game-high 103 yards in the Ravens’ 24-9 wild-card playoff win over Indianapois, Pierce was listed as limited all last week in practices with an ankle injury. However, the rookie was listed as having a knee injury on the first edition of this week’s report.

Left guard Jah Reid was absent for the second straight day as he continues to recover from a toe injury that kept him out of the first round of the playoffs. All signs are pointing to the Ravens staying with the same offensive line they used last Sunday, which included veteran Bryant McKinnie making his first start of the season.

Listed as a limited participant on Wednesday, linebacker Dannell Ellerbe was practicing for the second straight day after leaving Sunday’s win with a sprained ankle. The fourth-year defensive player has dealt with the same ankle injury since late November, which forced him to miss three games last month.

The Broncos had only one player listed as a non-participant as cornerback Tracy Porter sat out with a concussion on Wednesday.

BALTIMORE
DID NOT PARTICIPATE: FB Vonta Leach (knee/ankle), RB Bernard Pierce (knee), G Jah Reid (toe)
LIMITED PARTICIPATION: LB Dannell Ellerbe (ankle)
FULL PARTICIPATION: WR Anquan Boldin (shoulder), WR Tandon Doss (ankle), LB Adrian Hamilton (illness), LB Ray Lewis (triceps), LB Albert McClellan (shoulder), DE Pernell McPhee (thigh), DT Haloti Ngata (knee), S Bernard Pollard (chest), S Ed Reed (shoulder), CB Jimmy Smith (abdominal), LB Terrell Suggs (achilles/bicep), G Marshal Yanda (shoulder)

DENVER
DID NOT PARTICIPATE: CB Tracy Porter (concussion)
FULL PARTICIPATION: S Mike Adams (knee), T Ryan Clady (shoulder), T Orlando Franklin (knee), WR Trindon Holliday (ankle), G Chris Kuper (ankle), S Jim Leonhard (thigh), WR Matt Willis (knee)

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Our Ravens/Colts “Pats on the Ass”

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Our Ravens/Colts “Pats on the Ass”

Posted on 06 January 2013 by Glenn Clark

After every Baltimore Ravens victory, Ryan Chell and I take to the airwaves on “The Nasty Purple Postgame Show” on AM1570 WNST.net to offer “Pats on the Ass” to players who have done something to deserve the honor.

We give pats to two defensive players, two offensive players and one “Wild Card”-either another offensive or defensive player, a Special Teams player or a coach. We offer a “Pat on Both Cheeks” to someone who stands out, our version of a “Player of the Game.” Ryan and I select five different players/coaches each.

Here are our “Pats on the Ass” following the Ravens’ 24-9 win over Indianapolis Colts in an AFC Wild Card playoff Sunday at M&T Bank Stadium…

Glenn Clark’s Pats…

5. Ray Lewis

4. Haloti Ngata

3. Vonta Leach

2. Bernard Pierce

1. Anquan Boldin (Pat on Both Cheeks)

(Ryan’s Pats on Page 2…)

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Leach probable; J. Reid, Pollard listed as questionable for Sunday

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Leach probable; J. Reid, Pollard listed as questionable for Sunday

Posted on 04 January 2013 by Luke Jones

OWINGS MILLS, Md. — The Ravens head into their wild-card playoff game against the Indianapolis Colts sporting their healthiest roster in quite some time as only three players were listed more serious than probable for Sunday.

Saftey Bernard Pollard, guard Jah Reid, and wide receiver Tandon Doss were listed as questionable for Sunday’s game, but only Reid appears to be a legitimate concern as the starting left guard appeared very limited during the open portions of practice all week. The second-year lineman is listed as having a toe injury and would likely be replaced by veteran Bobbie Williams should he not be able to play against Indianapolis.

Defensive tackle Haloti Ngata and right guard Marshal Yanda were listed as probable after both players sat out an entire week of practice leading into the regular-season finale, which they both missed in order to rest injuries. Fullback Vonta Leach was also listed as probable despite missing Thursday’s practice with a lingering ankle injury.

Of the 19 players listed as probable on the report, Leach was the only one to miss a practice this week but returned to the field on Friday. Coach John Harbaugh provided an optimistic outlook on the Pro Bowl fullback following the workout and even upgraded his status after initially speaking to reporters.

“Vonta is going to be listed as questionable,” said Harbaugh before Friday’s injury report was released. “It might be probable though after today’s practice. Now that I think about it, he looked pretty good today, so he might be OK.”

Harbaugh spoke about Lewis’ status in recent weeks, explaining why he was held out of the final few games of the regular season and declaring him fit to go against Indianapolis. Lewis is just over 11 weeks removed from surgery on his right triceps.

The 37-year-old linebacker is expected to start at his normal “Mike” linebacker position next to Dannell Ellerbe, but Josh Bynes will be ready to spell Lewis if necessary. Many have wondered whether the Ravens will handle Lewis’ workload like they did with a returning Terrell Suggs back in October, but Harbaugh gave no indication that Lewis would see a limited number of snaps.

“He probably could have played, but it would have been a big risk,” Harbaugh said. “We felt like we could get our positioning in the playoffs, and then bring Ray Lewis back when the injury had the best chance to be completely healed, which is 12 weeks after the injury. He’s ready to go. He’s going to play in this game. He should be full-speed.”

Meanwhile, Indianapolis has ruled out starting left guard Joe Reitz as he continues to recover from a concussion.

Former Ravens safety Tom Zbikowski is questionable with a knee injury but practiced fully on Thursday and Friday.

BALTIMORE
QUESTIONABLE: WR Tandon Doss (ankle), S Bernard Pollard (chest), G Jah Reid (toe)
PROBABLE: RB Anthony Allen (head), TE Billy Bajema (head), WR Anquan Boldin (shoulder), LB Dannell Ellerbe (ankle), LB Adrian Hamilton (illness), FB Vonta Leach (knee/ankle), CB Chris Johnson (thigh), DE Arthur Jones (thigh), LB Ray Lewis (triceps), LB Albert McClellan (shoulder/thigh), DE Pernell McPhee (thigh), DT Haloti Ngata (knee), T Kelechi Osemele (knee), RB Bernard Pierce (ankle), S Ed Reed (shoulder), CB Jimmy Smith (abdomen), WR Torrey Smith (knee), LB Terrell Suggs (biceps), G Marshal Yanda (shoulder/knee)

INDIANAPOLIS
OUT: G Joe Reitz (concussion)
QUESTIONABLE: RB Delone Carter (ankle), NT Antonio Johnson (ankle), C AQ Shipley (knee), S Tom Zbikowski (knee), T Winston Justice (shoulder)
PROBABLE: DT Kellen Heard (illness), T Bradley Sowell (illness), CB Teddy Williams (knee), LB Jerrell Freeman (thumb), QB Andrew Luck (knee), LB Pat Angerer (illness), DE Cory Redding (quad), C Samson Satele (ankle), LB Dwight Freeney (non-injury), LB Robert Mathis (non-injury)

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Ravens choose only path fully in their hands to close regular season

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Ravens choose only path fully in their hands to close regular season

Posted on 30 December 2012 by Luke Jones

In the moments following the Ravens’ win over the New York Giants last week, John Harbaugh was asked how he’d handle Sunday’s regular-season finale and the answer was predictable with a chance at the No. 3 seed still a possibility.

The head coach said his team would play to win, but it was the caveat he provided that left much doubt over the course of the week.

“We’re going to try and win the game. That’s the No. 1 thing we’re going to do,” Harbaugh said. “That’s what we do, and we’re going to try to win the game. We’re also going to try and make sure we are as healthy as we can be going into the playoffs. So, I think we’ll merge those two considerations.”

In the aftermath of a 23-17 loss to the Cincinnati Bengals in which six starters were ruled inactive and Joe Flacco, Ray Rice, and a plethora of other starters took seats on the bench before the end of the first quarter, it was evident which consideration won out on Sunday. Optimum health was the only path fully in the Ravens’ hands as they now turn their sights toward the Indianapolis Colts in the opening round of the playoffs next weekend.

No matter what happened in Cincinnati, the Ravens knew they would need help by way of a Miami win over New England in order to move up to the third spot in the AFC. That possibility became even more complicated with Houston falling in Indianapolis to create more incentive for the Patriots to take care of business in Foxborough to clinch a first-round bye. And New England took care of its business in a 28-0 blowout victory.

When it came down to it, there were too many outside factors working against the Ravens to play their starters extensively — without any guarantee of a win, anyway — and risk an injury to Flacco or Rice or pass up the opportunity to rest banged-up players such as Marshal Yanda, Terrell Suggs, and Haloti Ngata. Though it didn’t alter their plans, the sight of fullback Vonta Leach limping to the locker room after aggravating an ankle injury on the first offensive series was all the evidence you needed to support Harbaugh’s thinking.

Fortunately, the injuries suffered to Leach and right tackle Kelechi Osemele — who left with a knee injury — aren’t expected to put the pair in danger of missing next week’s game, according to Harbaugh in his post-game press conference. The argument could be made that the Ravens should have just rested their starters from the outset, but you can understand the desire for the starting offense to play a couple series on the road for the first time under new offensive coordinator Jim Caldwell. If the Ravens are to advance to the Super Bowl, they will likely need to win two road games and it was important to iron out any kinks in the line of communication from Caldwell to wide receivers coach Jim Hostler to Flacco in relaying play calls in an opponent’s stadium.

Yes, the No. 3 seed would have increased the Ravens’ chances of potentially hosting the AFC Championship game if the chips fell in their favor. Many debated the merits of playing Indianapolis or Cincinnati in the first round and trying to avoid the Broncos in the divisional round, but there were too many moving parts over which to obsess.

The reality is there are no easy games or paths to the Super Bowl in January, and the Ravens looked at the one possibility that would put them in the best position to make a deep run in January. It was the only one nobody else could impact on Sunday.

It included a healthy Flacco, who played two series and avoided a potentially crippling hit or even the most innocent chance of Matt Birk or Jah Reid stepping on his foot and turning his ankle.

Rice only had three touches and will be as fresh as possible, Anquan Boldin’s bruised shoulder should be little more than an afterthought, and Yanda will have rested a sprained ankle in two of the last three weeks.

A defense that’s struggled to even be average all season will have healthier versions of Ngata, Suggs, and Bernard Pollard as well as a returning Ray Lewis to provide an emotional lift. If the Ravens are to give themselves much of a chance beyond the wild-card round, they would benefit greatly from Ngata and Suggs providing more than they have at any point this season and Sunday’s rest improves the likelihood of that happening.

None of these factors will ensure postseason success for a Ravens team with obvious flaws, but the minute chance of the No. 3 seed wouldn’t have done it, either. Every team not named the Denver Broncos in the AFC playoff field is facing some obvious flaw at the end of the regular season, but the Ravens’ best chance to make noise was a healthier football team — not the No. 3 seeed.

Critics will say the Ravens’ choice to rest their starters squashed the momentum gained in their convincing Week 16 victory, but you’ll find plenty of examples on each side of the equation of playoff teams resting their starters in the regular-season finale. In reality, momentum goes as far as your next opponent and the Ravens will have their hands full with an inspired Indianapolis team led by coach Chuck Pagano.

The Ravens could have played most of their starters to try to win on Sunday and then hope for help to gain the No. 3 seed, but they chose the path of least resistance by pulling their key players out of harm’s way in hopes that they’ll be better for it in January.

In watching them play 16 regular-season games this season, we’ve wondered who the 10-6 Ravens really are and we’re about to find out. At their best, the Ravens can play with anyone and at their worst, they can be handled easily by any opponent in the playoff field.

Sunday’s decision was a sign that the Ravens wanted to buy some stock in themselves instead of putting their health at further risk and hanging their hats on the mediocre Miami Dolphins to offer a hand.

In weighing all the options, the guaranteed chance of having a healthier team in January was just too much for Harbaugh and the Ravens to pass up.

 

 

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Ngata receiving “well-deserved rest” ahead of Bengals game

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Ngata receiving “well-deserved rest” ahead of Bengals game

Posted on 27 December 2012 by Luke Jones

OWINGS MILLS, Md. — Head coach John Harbaugh has said the Ravens will play to win Sunday’s game against the Cincinnati Bengals, but they are taking the final week of the regular season as an opportunity to rest Pro Bowl defensive tackle Haloti Ngata.

The seventh-year defensive lineman missed his second straight practice on Thursday with what’s listed as a knee injury. Ngata hadn’t been listed on the injury report since late November but has battled knee and shoulder issues for much of the season.

Defensive coordinator Dean Pees did not express concern over Ngata’s availability for Sunday’s game in Cincinnati, explaining the Ravens are simply allowing him to take a couple days off. Named to his fourth consecutive Pro Bowl on Wednesday, Ngata hasn’t made the same impact along the defensive line as the Ravens have enjoyed in past seasons but appears to be looking stronger over the last few weeks of the regular season.

“I think he’s getting there,” Pees said. “He’s been banged up seems like kind of all year here and there. He’s getting some well-deserved rest.”

Two other Pro Bowl selections also missed Thursday’s workout as right guard Marshal Yanda and fullback Vonta Leach sat out. Yanda was missing for the second straight day, but his practice status hasn’t been surprising considering he is still recuperating from a significant ankle sprain that forced him out of the lineup in Week 15. The seventh-year guard is also dealing with shoulder and knee issues.

Dressed in street clothes, Leach was on the field during the special-teams portion of practice but left before the rest of the team began working out. He has been dealing with an ankle injury and has received regular days off over the last few weeks.

Wide receiver Anquan Boldin (shoulder bruise) practiced on a limited basis for the second straight day and doesn’t appear to be feeling too many lingering effects from the injury sustained in last Sunday’s 33-14 win over the New York Giants. Wide receiver Tandon Doss, defensive lineman Arthur Jones, and linebacker Albert McClellan were also limited participants.

For the Bengals, starting running back BenJarvus Green-Ellis (illness) and kicker Mike Nugent (right calf) did not participate in Thursday’s workout.

BALTIMORE
DID NOT PARTICIPATE: FB Vonta Leach (ankle), DT Haloti Ngata (knee), G Marshal Yanda (shoulder/knee)
LIMITED PARTICIPATION: WR Anquan Boldin (shoulder), WR Tandon Doss (ankle), DE Arthur Jones (thigh), LB Albert McClellan (shoulder/thigh)
FULL PARTICIPATION: LB Dannell Ellerbe (ankle), WR Jacoby Jones (ankle), LB Ray Lewis (triceps), DE Pernell McPhee (thigh), TE Dennis Pitta (knee), S Bernard Pollard (chest), S Ed Reed (shoulder), CB Jimmy Smith (abdomen), LB Terrell Suggs (biceps)

CINCINNATI
DID NOT PARTICIPATE: RB BenJarvus Green-Ellis (illness), K Mike Nugent (right calf)
LIMITED PARTICIPATION: CB Jason Allen (hamstring), CB Adam Jones (hamstring), S Reggie Nelson (shoulder), CB Terence Newman (hamstring)

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First-time choice J. Jones headlines list of six Pro Bowl selections for Ravens

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First-time choice J. Jones headlines list of six Pro Bowl selections for Ravens

Posted on 26 December 2012 by Luke Jones

OWINGS MILLS, Md. — The Ravens are sending six players to the 2013 Pro Bowl, four of whom will be starters in Honolulu.

Return specialist Jacoby Jones, safety Ed Reed, fullback Vonta Leach, and right guard Marshal Yanda were all named starters while running back Ray Rice and defensive tackle Haloti Ngata were named reserves for the AFC roster.

Jones said he first thought he could make the Pro Bowl when he returned his second kickoff for a touchdown of the season against Oakland in Week 10. His 32.1 yards per kick return average is the best in the NFL as the wide receiver has returned kickoffs of 108 and 105 yards for scores this season.

“Returning kicks is like I’m playing ‘It,’ or ‘Catch me if you can,’ You miss and I’m gone,” the first-time selection said. “[The selection] means a lot. It means you’re one of the elite of the elite. It’s hard to do and takes a lot of consistency and hard work.”

Signed to a two-year, $7 million after being kicked to the curb by the Houston Texans in the offseason, Jones immediately felt right at home in Baltimore, where he has quickly earned a reputation as a popular teammate and one of the funniest personalities in the locker room.

In addition to his two kickoff returns for touchdowns, Jones’ 63-yard punt return for a touchdown in Pittsburgh was the Ravens’ only touchdown in a 13-10 win over their hated rival on Nov. 18.

“I had a chance to get a breath of fresh air,” Jones said. “As soon as I walked in the door, they told me to be myself and they’d give me an opportunity. Through the year, I’ve tried to make the plays when my number was called.”

Leach was named to his second Pro Bowl as a member of the Ravens and third overall as he’s paved the way for another 1,000-yard season for Rice. Finishing his ninth season, Leach has not only been a powerful blocker but he’s caught 20 passes for 141 yards.

Rice has credited Leach for his assistance in taking his game to the next level over the last two seasons.

“The relationship we have is bigger than football,” Rice said. “That guy is nine years of battering people around. I told him, ‘Good luck to you, buddy. You’re a better man than I am.’ I try to do my best to take care of him when I can.”

Yanda has been named to his second straight Pro Bowl as it appears the right guard is finally receiving his due as one of the best offensive linemen in the NFL. In addition to forming running lanes with tackle Kelechi Osemele on the right side of the offensive line, Yanda has been an exceptional pass blocker and hasn’t allowed a sack in 14 games played this season.

Reed rounds out the group of starters for the Ravens despite the 34-year-old safety not having a strong season by his Hall of Fame standards. It’s the ninth Pro Bowl selection of his 11-year career and the seventh straight he’s received.

In 15 games, Reed has collected 58 tackles and four interceptions returned for 78 yards with one going for a touchdown. He’s also accumulated 15 pass breakups as well as three fumble recoveries in the final year of a six-year contract.

Earning his fourth straight trip to the Pro Bowl, Ngata was named a reserve despite battling knee and shoulder injuries for a large portion of the season. The seventh-year defensive tackle has produced 51 tackles and five sacks in 14 games this season.

Finishing the Ravens’ list of Pro Bowl selections was Rice, who was named to his third Pro Bowl and second straight. Entering Week 17, Rice ranks sixth in the NFL in yards from scrimmage with an average of 107.7 and became the first player in franchise history to rush for 1,000 yards in a fourth consecutive season.  He has 10 total touchdowns, nine of them rushing and one coming as a receiver, and 1,138 rushing yards this season.

“To have that respect around the league is something that you never take for granted because people respect the kind of work you put in on and off the field,” Rice said. “Because it comes from everybody. People can talk about what they want about the fans. The fans vote, players vote, and coaches vote, so you’re getting the three-way respect when you hear your name called. That’s special.”

Prior to the selections being announced on Wednesday evening, coach John Harbaugh expressed pride in so many players being selected for multiple Pro Bowls as five of the Ravens’ six selections were named to the All-Star roster for at least the second time in their respective careers.

“That’s something that you feel so good [about] for those guys,” Harbaugh said. “A number of guys have made it a number of years in a row. You look at a guy like Ed Reed who’s made it all these years in a row. It almost becomes expected, but then what an accomplishment that really is.”

Safety Bernard Pollard was named a first alternate to the AFC roster. He would receive an invitation to participate if a player in front of him wouldn’t play in the Pro Bowl due to an injury or Super Bowl participation.

The game will be held on Jan. 27, 2013 at Aloha Stadium in Honolulu, Hawaii.

 

 

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All eyes on Flacco as he begins next phase of NFL career

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All eyes on Flacco as he begins next phase of NFL career

Posted on 12 December 2012 by Luke Jones

OWINGS MILLS, Md. — It looked like the typical Wednesday in Owings Mills as Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco stepped to the podium to meet with the media, but the circumstances had never been more different.

No matter how you feel about Flacco and where he ranks in the hierarchy of NFL quarterbacks, all eyes will be on him for the remainder of the season as the 27-year-old begins the next phase of his career without offensive coordinator Cam Cameron. It’s no secret the two struggled to coexist as the years progressed, even if Flacco downplayed that perception in his first interview since Cameron was fired on Monday.

Some think the quarterback has plateaued because of Cameron’s inconsistent play-calling, conservative nature, and reputation for being a control freak while others wonder if Flacco simply isn’t good enough to handle more responsibility within an offensive system or to take his game to another level.

With quarterbacks coach Jim Caldwell promoted to offensive coordinator, Flacco will have his first chance to prove just how good he can be without Cameron’s involvement this Sunday against the Denver Broncos and their fourth-ranked defense. And if the Ravens are to snap a two-game losing streak and right the ship in time to make a deep postseason run, Flacco must take command of an offense in transition and desperately needing leadership and consistency at the most important position on the field.

Flacco acknowledged his part in Cameron’s dismissal when asked if he feels any responsibility for the coordinator’s demise. Of course, he’s not the only one to blame as inconsistent play from the offensive line and wide receivers has also plagued the Baltimore offense this season.

“I think as an offense, we have to look at ourselves and see what we can do to be better,” Flacco said. “Obviously, we weren’t good enough.”

It wasn’t supposed to be this way after last season’s AFC Championship loss in which the Baltimore quarterback outplayed future Hall of Fame quarterback Tom Brady despite Lee Evans’ failure to catch the game-winning touchdown and Billy Cundiff’s subsequent miss of the game-tying 32-yard field goal. The silver lining was Flacco’s 306-yard, two-touchdown performance that was to springboard him and the Ravens offense to bigger and better things in the final year of his rookie contract.

Instead, the 2012 season has brought much of the same from the 2008 first-round pick — a few great performances, some decent games, and still too many bad ones — as the offense hasn’t taken the significant leap many believed the Ravens needed with the anticipated decline of the long-vaunted defense. Looking elite at home with a 100.7 passer rating in six home games, Flacco has struggled on the road (a 75.4 rating) and still struggles to protect the football as he’s thrown a tolerable nine interceptions but has also fumbled eight times.

Leading the league’s 16th-ranked passing offense, Flacco has completed 60 percent of his passes, has averaged 7.2 yards per attempt, and has thrown for 3,220 yards and 18 touchdowns. Aside from being on pace to set a new career high in passing yards, Flacco has posted numbers mostly in line with his career averages. Good, but not great and certainly not worthy of the $100 million contract he desires.

General manager Ozzie Newsome and owner Steve Bisciotti shouldn’t be swayed too dramatically over Flacco’s performance for the remainder of the season — barring a deep postseason run — but Cameron’s dismissal is a clear sign of the Ravens wanting to see what they really have with their franchise quarterback before deciding how much they ultimately invest in a long-term contract, regardless of when it’s ultimately signed. For now, it appears Flacco has received a new lease on life with the promotion of Caldwell, who has never held the title of offensive coordinator in his career.

“Joe seems like he’s happy about it,” left tackle Michael Oher said. “I’ve seen him smiling and stuff, so I’m pretty sure he’s OK with everything.”

All accounts point to Caldwell and Flacco holding a good relationship in their first season working together, and the former Colts head coach was credited by current Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning Wednesday for helping him take his play to another level in their years together in Indianapolis. However, it’s been difficult to pinpoint any particular part of Flacco’s game that’s noticeably improved this season while working with Caldwell. And there’s no telling how that relationship might be tested as inevitable disagreements occur over play calls and philosophy.

Whether it’s the possible reintroduction of the no-huddle offense that’s virtually disappeared in recent weeks or just a different voice and mind calling the plays, the Ravens offense isn’t expected to be reinvented in any dramatic way and how could it entering Week 15? But a change of this magnitude will force all offensive coaches and players to bring a renewed level of focus to account for potential growing pains.

“The biggest thing we’ve talked about is just coming together as an offense and everybody helping and giving their input because we’re going to need it,” Flacco said, “It’s a quick change, it’s late in the year, and it’s going to require all of us to be focused and work hard.”

Even with Cameron out of the picture and the possible mental boost that might bring for the quarterback — any employee finally escaping the thumb of an undesirable boss could attest to the notion — the flaws and shortcomings of the quarterback’s game are still there.

Flacco has struggled to throw the deep ball as he and speedy wide receiver Torrey Smith have frequently failed to be on the same page. The quarterback has been inconsistent in making adjustments at the line of scrimmage, either in changing plays or protections.

And his shortcomings with pocket awareness have led to sack-and-strip opportunities that have led to turnovers in two straight games. Of course, an inconsistent offensive line — now facing the possibility of no Marshal Yanda for the time being — hasn’t helped matters in that department, but the Ravens have acknowledged the need for Flacco to be more protective of the football in those situations. Entering this Sunday’s game, Flacco has fumbled 47 times in 77 regular-season games while Manning — a quarterback also lacking mobility — has fumbled just 59 times in 221 career regular-season contests.

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McClain out for Sunday’s game against Broncos

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McClain out for Sunday’s game against Broncos

Posted on 12 December 2012 by Luke Jones

OWINGS MILLS, Md. — Entering the week with optimism over the chance of linebacker Ray Lewis possibly returning to play against the Denver Broncos, the Ravens will be without fellow inside linebacker Jameel McClain for Sunday’s game.

McClain suffered a neck injury in the third quarter of the 31-28 loss to the Washington Redskins and didn’t return. Coach John Harbaugh said McClain would be OK during his Monday press conference but said the fifth-year linebacker would not be ready in time to play this Sunday. He was officially ruled out for Sunday’s game on Wednesday’s injury report.

“Jameel McClain will not make it to the game,” Harbaugh said. “We’re talking a look at the neck [and] back. There’s nothing major there, but he will not make it to this game. We’re going to do some more tests and things like that just to see down the road where he’ll be.”

With McClain out and Dannell Ellerbe’s status in question against the Broncos, the possibility of Lewis returning becomes more of a necessity, but the 37-year-old linebacker was absent from the portion of practice open to media on Wednesday, joining Ellerbe (ankle) and McClain as non-participants. Lewis is eligible to come off the injured reserve list this week, and it has been reported by several outlets over the last few weeks that he was targeting a Week 15 return against Peyton Manning and Denver. He wasn’t listed on Wednesday’s injury report, because the team is not required to include him since he isn’t part of the active roster.

Lewis hasn’t played since suffering a right torn triceps against the Dallas Cowboys on Oct. 14 and has spent the last eight weeks on IR with the designation to return. Should the Ravens be without Lewis and Ellerbe for Sunday’s game, they would be faced with the combination of Brendon Ayanbadejo, Albert McClellan, and Josh Bynes playing the inside linebacker spots.

In addition to the trio of linebackers, the Ravens were also without right guard Marshal Yanda (ankle), fullback Vonta Leach (ankle), safety Bernard Pollard (ribs), and defensive linemen Pernell McPhee (groin) and Arthur Jones (right shoulder bruise) during Wednesday’s workout.

Of those players, Yanda’s status is the most concerning after he suffered a “somewhat serious” ankle sprain in overtime against Washington that left him in a walking boot and on crutches following the game. He was noncommittal when asked about his status against the Broncos.

“There’s nothing to announce on any other guys today,” Harbaugh said. “We’ll know more by the end of the week in terms of how much they are going to be able to practice and stuff like that. I’d say that they all have a chance to get there. Some have a higher chance than others, but I’m not going to get into those percentages today.”

On a positive note, tight end Ed Dickson (knee) returned to the practice field on a limited basis for the first time since being injured against the San Diego Chargers in Week 12. Linebacker Terrell Suggs (torn right biceps) was also practicing on Wednesday after missing Sunday’s game against the Redskins.

Dickson described himself as “day to day” after missing the last two games with a hyperextended knee.

“I’m living in the treatment center getting it ready,” Dickson said. “I don’t want to be out there at 50 percent. That’s not going to help the team. They need a 100-percent me.”

Cornerback Jimmy Smith practiced full for the first time since undergoing sports hernia surgery last month. He practiced on a limited basis all last week before sitting out against Washington.

To replace suspended rookie cornerback Asa Jackson on the 53-man roster, the Ravens promoted safety Omar Brown from the practice squad and signed outside linebacker D.J. Bryant to take Brown’s place on the developmental unit.

Bryant played his college football at James Madison and graduated from Randallstown High School.

Here is Wednesday’s full injury report, which doesn’t include Lewis since he has yet to be placed back on the 53-man roster …

BALTIMORE
OUT: LB Jameel McClain (neck)
DID NOT PARTICIPATE: LB Dannell Ellerbe (ankle), DT Arthur Jones (shoulder), FB Vonta Leach (ankle), DE Pernell McPhee (thigh), S Bernard Pollard (chest), G Marshal Yanda (ankle)
LIMITED PARTICIPATION: TE Ed Dickson (knee), RB Bernard Pierce (back), RB Ray Rice (hip), LB Terrell Suggs (biceps)
FULL PARTICIPATION: WR Jacoby Jones (ankle), S Ed Reed (shoulder), CB Jimmy Smith (abdomen), WR Deonte Thompson (thigh), WR LaQuan Williams (thigh)

DENVER
LIMITED PARTICIPATION: G Chris Kuper (ankle), LB Wesley Woodyard (ankle)
FULL PARTICIPATION: WR Trindon Holliday (knee), WR Demaryius Thomas (shoulder), WR Matthew Willis (knee)

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