Tag Archive | "michael pierce"

New York Jets quarterback Sam Darnold, right, tries to make a pass while taking a hit from Baltimore Ravens defensive tackle Michael Pierce (97) during the first half of an NFL football game, Thursday, Dec. 12, 2019, in Baltimore. (AP Photo/Nick Wass)

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How did Ravens defensive linemen stack up to rest of NFL in 2019?

Posted on 19 February 2020 by Luke Jones

The Ravens recorded the best regular season in franchise history, but where did their individual players stack up across the NFL in 2019?

Whether it’s discussing the Pro Bowl — Baltimore had a record-tying 13 selections — or determining postseason awards, media and fans spend much time debating where players rank at each position, but few watch every player on every team closely enough to form any real authoritative opinion.

Truthfully, how many times did you watch the Tampa Bay offensive line this season? What about the Atlanta Falcons linebackers or the Detroit Lions cornerbacks?

That’s why I respect the efforts of Pro Football Focus while acknowledging their grading is far from the gospel of evaluation. I don’t envy the exhaustive effort to evaluate players across the league when most of us watch one team or maybe one division on any kind of a regular basis.

We’ll look at each positional group on the roster in the coming days, but below is a look at where Ravens defensive linemen ranked across the NFL this past season followed by the positional outlook going into 2020:

Safeties
Running backs
Cornerbacks
Wide receivers

Brandon Williams
2019 defensive snap count (including postseason): 572
PFF ranking: 66th among interior defenders
Skinny: I’ve mostly agreed with PFF’s past grading of Williams — viewing him as solid but unspectacular since signing his 2017 extension — but he played his best football in a few years in 2019, especially after his Week 4 absence and reported spat with Earl Thomas. His $9.25 million salary and $14.17 million cap number for 2020 are steep for someone who doesn’t pressure passers, but he anchors Baltimore’s front.

Michael Pierce
2019 defensive snap count (including postseason): 521
PFF ranking: 45th among interior defenders
Skinny: While his spring weight problems were largely forgotten by the start of the season, Pierce didn’t have the contract year he envisioned, finishing 2019 with the lowest PFF grade of his career and not being as impactful. There still figures to be a good market for his services, but the Ravens are already paying premium money for a defensive tackle that doesn’t get after the quarterback.

Chris Wormley
2019 defensive snap count (including postseason): 484
PFF ranking: 62nd among interior defenders
Skinny: The 5-technique defensive end saw the biggest workload of his three-year career and was solid playing the run, but he registered just 1 1/2 sacks, six quarterback hits, and the lowest PFF pass-rushing grade among all Ravens defensive linemen. The 2017 third-round pick is a reliable member of the rotation, but he’ll need a big contract year to make an extension any kind of a priority for Baltimore.

Domata Peko
2019 defensive snap count (including postseason): 158
PFF ranking: n/a
Skinny: Signed in mid-November, the 14th-year defensive tackle served as a capable run stopper in place of an injured Pierce and settled into a rotational role down the stretch. Peko left the door open to playing another season after last month’s playoff loss, but the 35-year-old should serve as more of a backup plan than a priority re-signing at this stage of his career.

Justin Ellis
2019 defensive snap count (including postseason): 71
PFF ranking: n/a
Skinny: Signed along with Peko, the 350-pound defensive tackle played sparingly in four regular-season games and the playoff loss. Ellis, 29, is another run-stopping option who graded well in limited opportunities, but he doesn’t offer much versatility and isn’t a pass-rushing threat.

Daylon Mack
2019 defensive snap count (including postseason): 9
PFF ranking: n/a
Skinny: The fifth-round rookie from Texas A&M saw his only action of the season in Week 4 before eventually being placed on injured reserve in November. With so many free agents along the defensive line, the Ravens need Mack to step into a rotational role at the very least.

2020 positional outlook

Other than Williams and Wormley, the cupboard is bare in terms of proven rotation options under contract, making this position group a greater priority than some are acknowledging. Finding a more balanced defensive lineman via the draft or free agency would be a major boon since the Ravens haven’t had a viable pass-rushing defensive tackle across multiple seasons since Timmy Jernigan, instead relying on versatile edge players like Za’Darius Smith and Pernell McPhee to move inside in passing situations. It will be interesting to see whether the Ravens rely on the draft, take another stab at signing a veteran like Gerald McCoy, or dip their toes into more lucrative free-agent waters to sign someone like Pittsbugh’s Javon Hargrave, who registered 10 1/2 sacks over the last two seasons and graded as PFF’s eighth-best interior defender last season. Regardless of the avenue, the Ravens really need to address an interior defensive line that could lose Pierce and finished with a bottom five pass-rushing grade in 2019, according to PFF.

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New York Jets quarterback Sam Darnold, right, tries to make a pass while taking a hit from Baltimore Ravens defensive tackle Michael Pierce (97) during the first half of an NFL football game, Thursday, Dec. 12, 2019, in Baltimore. (AP Photo/Nick Wass)

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Want or need? Assessing Ravens position groups entering offseason

Posted on 21 January 2020 by Luke Jones

Need is a relative term when assessing the Ravens roster after a franchise-best 14-2 regular season that set all kinds of franchise and NFL records.

The sting of their divisional-round loss to Tennessee will linger for a long time, but perspective is critical when sizing up a roster that included the best offense in the league and one of the top defenses by season’s end. That’s not to say improvements aren’t in order and change isn’t inevitable with 17 Baltimore players set to become unrestricted free agents, but the Ravens would easily remain a playoff-caliber team on paper after even a ho-hum offseason of free-agent departures and only pedestrian additions. Having an MVP quarterback, an innovative offense with no unrestricted free agents of real consequence, and a great secondary will go a long way in covering up any deficiencies elsewhere.

Yes, the early playoff exit was a bitter disappointment and a missed opportunity as the AFC’s No. 1 seed, but this isn’t a roster in need of major surgery as much as some fine-tuning after having a bad game at the wrong time. It’s an enviable place when you have close to $30 million in salary cap space and a fresh batch of draft picks in April. But as John Harbaugh often likes to recite the quote attributed to former Michigan coach Bo Schembechler, “Every day you either get better or you get worse; you never stay the same.”

Below is a look at what positions the Ravens absolutely need to address or simply would like to upgrade between now and the start of the 2020 season:

Edge defender/outside linebacker — NEED

Defensive coordinator Wink Martindale made it work after the departures of Terrell Suggs and Za’Darius Smith, but this position group remains a major concern with 2019 Pro Bowl selection Matthew Judon and depth pieces Pernell McPhee and Jihad Ward set to become free agents. Tyus Bowser took a step forward with five sacks in his third season and 2019 third-round pick Jaylon Ferguson showed growth as the year progressed, but viewing either as a definite 2020 starter would be too optimistic based on the body of work. Even if Baltimore gives Judon a blank check or the franchise tag to keep him, finding an additional impact outside linebacker is a clear objective. The Ravens blitzed more than any team in the NFL to create pressure in 2019, but more impactful four-man rushes would make this defense even more dangerous. Setting the edge against the run was also an inconsistency that was often masked by Baltimore holding so many big leads that forced opponents to abandon the ground game.

Wide receiver — WANT

I have been a broken record about Baltimore’s deficiency at wide receiver for years and noted during the Tennessee loss that another impact option would be really useful, but classifying wide receiver as a want goes back to keeping the proper perspective. You wouldn’t expect offensive coordinator Greg Roman to move away from featuring the tight ends with the success Lamar Jackson has passing to that trio between the numbers, and rookie first-round wide receiver Marquise Brown showed unique ability despite being hampered by foot and ankle issues. When you add the presence of veteran Willie Snead and the potential of 2019 third-round pick Miles Boykin, the requisite floor and upside are there — even if barely — to think the Ravens can win a Super Bowl. Still, adding a dynamic wide receiver to make plays when Baltimore trails and to have a presence outside the numbers would take Jackson and the NFL’s leading scoring offense to another level, a frightening thought for opponents.

Interior offensive line — WANT*

The asterisk is connected to eight-time Pro Bowl right guard Marshal Yanda and his decision whether to return for a 14th season. If Yanda comes back, the Ravens remain in good short-term shape on the offensive line as undrafted rookie Patrick Mekari filled in respectably at center for Matt Skura, whose major knee injury makes him a question mark until at least training camp. However, Yanda’s retirement would make this a significant need with 2019 fourth-round guard Ben Powers not exactly making an impact as a rookie and the Ravens losing a Hall of Fame talent in a position group not sporting a ton of experience. You feel more confident about Skura or Mekari at center, Bradley Bozeman at left guard, and Orlando Brown Jr. at right tackle because of Yanda’s presence and elite play. Pro Bowl left tackle Ronnie Stanley may help fill the leadership void, but you just don’t replace a special player like Yanda.

Inside linebacker — NEED

This year marked only the seventh time in 24 seasons in which the Ravens didn’t receive a Pro Bowl invitation at this position, speaking to the impossible standard created by Ray Lewis and the commendable run from C.J. Mosley before his free-agent departure last March. General manager Eric DeCosta deserves credit for the in-season additions of Josh Bynes and L.J. Fort to stabilize the position, but that came after the organization underestimated the problems Patrick Onwuasor, Kenny Young, and Chris Board would have stepping into larger roles. Martindale effectively mixed and matched Bynes, Fort, and Onwuasor while often dropping safety Chuck Clark into the box in sub packages, but finding a complete three-down linebacker would decrease the likelihood of the defense getting caught with a second level that’s either too light against the run or too slow in coverage. Re-signing Bynes would certainly be on the table, but a younger every-down option would be preferable. Baltimore doesn’t need an All-Pro inside linebacker to have a great defense, but substituting so frequently was less than ideal.

Interior defensive line — NEED

Giving a big contract to Michael Pierce wouldn’t appear to be in the plans with Brandon Williams still having two years remaining on his deal and Pierce not making a strong argument for the Ravens to commit to him after weight concerns in the offseason and a solid but unspectacular 2019 campaign. Baltimore’s pursuit of six-time Pro Bowl defensive tackle Gerald McCoy last spring highlighted a desire to find an interior pass rusher, but Chris Wormley and 2019 fifth-round pick Daylon Mack are the only other defensive linemen under contract for the 2020 campaign beyond the soon-to-be 31-year-old Williams. In other words, the Ravens have much work to do here to fortify their depth against the run while trying to find an inside option or two who can also get after the quarterback.

Cornerback — WANT

No one would classify cornerback as a need with 2019 Pro Bowl selections Marcus Peters and Marlon Humphrey both under contract and slot cornerback Tavon Young expected to be ready for the offseason program after a season-ending neck injury suffered in August. However, you can never have enough depth at this critical spot with Jimmy Smith set to become an unrestricted free agent and Brandon Carr carrying a $6 million price tag for his 2020 option and transitioning to more of a safety role this past season. A modest short-term extension could make sense for Smith, but committing substantial money to someone who will be 32 in July and has played in more than 12 games in a season only twice in nine years doesn’t sound appealing. Anthony Averett and Iman Marshall bring some upside as recent fourth-round selections, but relying on either as the first wave of depth would be risky.

Special teams — WANT

The Ravens signing unrestricted free-agent cornerback Justin Bethel in the first week of free agency last March reinforced their commitment to this phase of the game that goes beyond specialists Justin Tucker, Sam Koch, and Morgan Cox. With that in mind, Anthony Levine, Chris Moore, Brynden Trawick, Jordan Richards, and De’Anthony Thomas will all be unrestricted free agents after playing at least 120 special-teams snaps apiece for Baltimore this season. Whether re-signing a few members of that group or using resources to sign a veteran or two on the open market, the Ravens seem likely to address special teams after being underwhelming in that department — at least by their lofty standards — down the stretch.

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Baltimore Ravens outside linebacker Matt Judon (99) reacts while holding a smartphone after an NFL football game against the Pittsburgh Steelers, Sunday, Dec. 29, 2019, in Baltimore. The Ravens won 28-10. (AP Photo/Nick Wass)

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Examining Ravens’ 2020 class of free agents

Posted on 15 January 2020 by Luke Jones

The start of free agency is just under two months away with the Ravens entering the offseason sooner than anticipated after a franchise-record 14-2 regular season that ended with shocking disappointment in the divisional round of the playoffs.

The Ravens currently have an estimated 2020 salary cap commitment of just over $166 million to 41 players (not including pending free agents or players recently signed to reserve-future contracts), according to OverTheCap.com. The 2020 salary cap has not been officially set, but it’s projected to rise from $188.2 million in 2019 to an estimated $200 million.

General manager Eric DeCosta seems likely to create additional cap space by extending, renegotiating, or terminating the contracts of a few veteran players. That list could include the likes of safety Tony Jefferson, offensive lineman James Hurst, and defensive back Brandon Carr, who all have 2020 cap numbers that may exceed how the Ravens value their services at this point. Pro Bowl left tackle Ronnie Stanley is a logical candidate for a long-term contract extension as he’s set to carry a $12.866 million cap figure in his fifth-year option season.

Below is a look at Baltimore’s 2020 class of free agents:

UNRESTRICTED FREE AGENTS

The Ravens will have the opportunity to extend any of the following unrestricted free agents before they may officially sign with any team beginning March 18 at 4 p.m.

LB Josh Bynes The 30-year-old was one of Baltimore’s best in-season signings in recent memory and graded sixth among linebackers by Pro Football Focus, but long-term solutions will be explored.

DT Justin Ellis The 350-pound run-stopping lineman was a healthy scratch in three of the last four regular-season games, but the status of other defensive linemen may help his chances for a return.

OL Hroniss Grasu His second stint with Baltimore led to him being a game-day reserve late in the season, but you’d expect the Ravens to aim to improve their interior offensive line depth.

OLB Matthew Judon The Pro Bowl selection will be paid lucratively by someone, but does the lack of depth at this position force Baltimore to step outside its financial comfort zone to keep him?

DB Anthony Levine – Though still a special-teams standout, the 32-year-old played in just 17 percent of defensive snaps as his particular role in the dime package diminished in 2019.

OLB Pernell McPhee A torn triceps ended what had been a productive start to his ninth NFL campaign, so McPhee returning in a situational role at a cheap price seems plausible.

WR Chris Moore – The 2016 fourth-round pick hasn’t developed into the deep-threat wide receiver some hoped he would be, but he’s been one of Baltimore’s best special-teams players since his arrival.

ILB Patrick Onwuasor Considered an ascending player poised for a 2019 breakout, Onwuasor struggled at the “Mike” and saw his role diminish as the year progressed, leaving his future in doubt.

DT Domata Peko The 35-year-old left open the possibility of playing a 15th NFL season, but Baltimore would probably prefer more youth and long-term upside for this position group.

DT Michael Pierce Pierce worked his way back into shape after well-documented weight problems in the spring and is in line for a substantial payday despite not having a standout contract year.

DB Jordan Richards Until being deemed a healthy scratch in the playoff loss to the Titans, Richards was a regular on special teams and only turns 27 later this month.

WR Seth Roberts He ranked third among Baltimore wide receivers in snaps and blocks well, but his costly drop in the first half of the playoff loss reinforces the need for more play-making ability here.

OT Andre Smith Signed as a depth piece last week, the former Cincinnati Bengal and 2009 first-round pick has 98 career starts under his belt and probably isn’t in the organization’s long-term plans.

CB Jimmy Smith In an ideal world, Smith would re-sign as part of an outside trio including Marcus Peters and Marlon Humphrey, but his likely asking price and injury history are deterrents.

WR/RS De’Anthony Thomas – He showed little as a returner and was flagged for blocking after calling a fair catch in the playoff loss, a costly penalty he committed more than once this season.

S Brynden Trawick An elbow injury limited him to just six games, but the 30-year-old is a good special-teams player, which always leaves the door open for a return to Baltimore.

DE/OLB Jihad Ward Coaches and teammates spoke highly of the 25-year-old edge defender this season, making his return to be part of the rotation quite possible at a reasonable price.

RESTRICTED FREE AGENTS

The following players have accrued three years of service and have expiring contracts. The Ravens can tender each with a restricted free agent offer, but other teams may then sign that player to an offer sheet. If that occurs, Baltimore has the right to match the offer and keep the aforementioned player. If the Ravens elect not to match, they would receive compensation based on which restricted tender they offered that player.

There are three different tenders — the values won’t be set until the 2020 salary cap is finalized — that can be made: a first-round tender ($4.407 million in 2019) would award the competing team’s first-round selection, a second-round tender ($3.095 million in 2019) would fetch the competing team’s second-round pick, and a low tender ($2.205 million in 2019) would bring the competing team’s draft choice equal to the round in which the player was originally drafted. For example, a restricted free agent selected in the fifth round would be worth a fifth-round pick if given the low tender. If a player went undrafted originally and is given the low tender, the Ravens would only hold the right to match the competing offer sheet and would not receive any draft compensation if they chose not to.

With less-heralded restricted free agents, the Ravens often elect to forgo a tender and will attempt to re-sign them at cheaper rates.

The original round in which each player was drafted is noted in parentheses:

OL Parker Ehinger (fourth) – The 27-year-old was active in four of the last five regular-season games, but signing him to anything more than a league-minimum deal would be surprising.

C Matt Skura (undrafted) – The second-round tender seemed likely for the starter before a serious knee injury in late November, but the Ravens gambling with the low tender isn’t impossible now.

EXCLUSIVE RIGHTS FREE AGENTS

These players have less than three years of accrued service and can be tendered a contract for the league minimum based on their length of service in the league. If tendered, these players are not free to negotiate with other teams. The Ravens usually tender all exclusive-rights free agents with the idea that there’s nothing promised beyond the opportunity to compete for a spot. Exclusive-rights tenders are not guaranteed, meaning a player can be cut at any point without consequence to the salary cap.

OL Randin Crecelius After spending 2018 on the practice squad, the former rookie free agent sustained a concussion early in training camp and was placed on IR at the end of the preseason.

RB Gus Edwards The second-year backup to Mark Ingram averaged 5.3 yards per carry and would start for plenty of teams around the league, making him a great value to the organization.

DB Fish Smithson The 25-year-old Baltimore native was signed late in the preseason and ended up on IR just a few days later.

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Ravens-49ers: Inactives and pre-game notes

Posted on 01 December 2019 by Luke Jones

BALTIMORE — If Sunday’s meeting does turn out to be a Super Bowl LIV preview, the Ravens and San Francisco will hope for better weather in Miami two months from now.

John Harbaugh’s team seeks its eighth straight victory and the first 10-2 start in franchise history, but the elements will certainly be an additional challenge to playing the 10-1 49ers.

According to Weather.com, the forecast in Baltimore calls for substantial rain and temperatures in the mid-40s with winds 10 to 15 miles per hour. The field was covered until a little over two hours prior to kickoff as the morning rain intensified. The heaviest precipitation is expected to fall during the first half.

The Ravens will welcome back a key piece of their run defense as nose tackle Michael Pierce is active and will make his return from a two-game absence with a right ankle injury. Pierce practiced all week and was a full participant in Friday’s workout, a strong indication that he would play against the 49ers’ second-ranked rush offense.

Despite missing Friday’s practice and being listed as questionable with an ankle injury, rookie wide receiver Miles Boykin is active after going through a brief on-field morning workout.

It’s interesting to note the Ravens deactivated both Anthony Averett and Iman Marshall, leaving them with only four active cornerbacks. That’s a product of both the weather and San Francisco’s propensity for using at least two running backs or two tight ends on roughly 60 percent of its plays, according to SharpFootballStats.com. Counting two-way player Patrick Ricard, the Ravens have seven defensive lineman available for Sunday’s game.

Undrafted rookie Patrick Mekari will make his first NFL start at center after Matt Skura suffered a season-ending knee injury last week, but the bigger surprise was how the Ravens elected to manage their game-day offensive line reserves. Baltimore promoted offensive lineman Parker Ehinger from the practice squad to the 53-man roster Saturday, and he will serve in a backup capacity over rookie fourth-round pick Ben Powers, who is inactive for the 12th straight game.

San Francisco is in much worse shape than the Ravens from a health standpoint as starting running back Matt Breida (ankle), starting left tackle Joe Staley (finger), and starting defensive end Dee Ford (hamstring, quad) are all inactive. Ford was declared out on Friday, but there had been some optimism that the 49ers would have Breida and Staley available to play on Sunday.

Sunday’s referee is Brad Allen.

The Ravens are wearing their alternate black jerseys with black pants while San Francisco dons white tops and gold pants.

Sunday marks the sixth all-time meeting between these teams in the regular season with the Ravens enjoying a 3-2 advantage. Of course, that doesn’t include Baltimore’s 34-31 win over the 49ers in Super Bowl XLVII. San Francisco has never beaten the Ravens at M&T Bank Stadium.

Below are Sunday’s inactives:

BALTIMORE
QB Trace McSorley
WR Jaleel Scott
S Bennett Jackson
CB Anthony Averett
CB Iman Marshall
G Ben Powers
DL Zach Sieler

SAN FRANCISCO
DE Dee Ford
LT Joe Staley
RB Matt Breida
WR Dante Pettis
QB C.J. Beathard
K Chase McLaughlin
TE Levin Toilolo

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Pierce, Boykin, four other Ravens listed as questionable for Sunday’s game

Posted on 29 November 2019 by Luke Jones

OWINGS MILLS, Md. — The Ravens listed six players as questionable for Sunday’s tilt against NFC-leading San Francisco, but all but one participated fully in the final practice of the week.

Wide receiver Miles Boykin was the only player absent from the field on Friday and was seen walking through the locker room with his ankle heavily taped. The rookie third-round pick is coming off his best showing since the bye with a two-catch, 54-yard effort in the 45-6 win over the Los Angeles Rams and hadn’t been on the injury report until Friday, leaving his status for Week 13 up in the air.

Defensive tackle Michael Pierce appears on track to potentially make his return from a right ankle injury that’s sidelined him since the Week 10 win in Cincinnati. He was a limited participant on Wednesday and Thursday before practicing fully on Friday, a positive development for the nose tackle’s availability against an offense ranking second in the NFL behind only Baltimore in rushing yards per game.

“You know I’m not going to go down that street of whether or not he’s going to do anything yet,” defensive coordinator Wink Martindale said. “But yes, it was good to see him out there for three days in a row.”

Defensive tackle Domata Peko (knee) missed the first two practices of the week while tight end Nick Boyle, outside linebacker Matthew Judon, and left guard Bradley Bozeman were all limited in some form with ankle injuries this week, leading to questionable designations.

The 49ers officially ruled out starting defensive end Dee Ford with quad and hamstring injuries, but left tackle Joe Staley (finger) and running back Matt Breida (ankle) are both questionable and could return to game action this week after practicing on a limited basis.

Below is the final injury report for Sunday’s game:

BALTIMORE
QUESTIONABLE: WR Miles Boykin (ankle), TE Nick Boyle (ankle), G Bradley Bozeman (ankle), LB Matthew Judon (ankle), DT Domata Peko (knee), DT Michael Pierce (ankle)

SAN FRANCISCO
OUT: DE Dee Ford (quad, hamstring), WR Dante Pettis (knee)
QUESTIONABLE: RB Matt Breida (ankle), OT Joe Staley (finger)

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Ravens-Rams: Inactives and pre-game notes

Posted on 25 November 2019 by Luke Jones

How long has it been since the Ravens last lost a game?

Kenny Young started at weak-side inside linebacker in that ugly home loss to Cleveland on Sept. 29, was benched a week later, and has now been a Los Angeles Ram for six weeks. The Ravens will try to extend their longest winning streak since 2000 with a seventh straight victory Monday night against a desperate Rams team that has won three of its last four and is trying to stay in the NFC wild-card race.

As expected, Baltimore will be without starting nose tackle Michael Pierce, who was deactivated for a second straight game with a right ankle injury. Pierce practiced on a limited basis Thursday before missing the rest of the week and was listed as doubtful on the final injury report. Reserve defensive tackles Domata Peko and Justin Ellis will again be counted on to step up in Pierce’s place.

Wide receiver Chris Moore is active and will make his return from a two-game absence due to a broken thumb. The Ravens are happy to have Moore’s special-teams contributions back in the picture.

Rookie cornerback and USC product Iman Marshall is active and expected to make his NFL debut after missing most of the season with toe and hamstring injuries. With safety Bennett Jackson and cornerback Anthony Averett both being healthy scratches for Monday’s game, Marshall will play on special teams and serve as a reserve cornerback for a defense that relies heavily on its secondary play.

The Rams will welcome back wide receivers Brandin Cooks (concussion) and Robert Woods (non-injury) after both missed game action recently. Their presence will provide a needed boost for Los Angeles quarterback Jared Goff and a once-explosive offense struggling to find its 2018 form.

Monday’s referee is Craig Wrolstad.

According to Weather.com, the Monday night forecast in Los Angeles calls for clear skies and temperatures in the mid-60s with calm winds and no chance of precipitation.

The Ravens will be wearing their all-purple “Color Rush” uniforms while the Rams don gold jerseys and gold pants for Week 12.

Monday marks the seventh all-time meeting between these teams with the Ravens holding a 4-2 edge. Baltimore is aiming for a team-record fourth consecutive road victory that would clinch its first winning away record in the regular season since 2010. The Ravens aim to improve to 9-5 on Monday Night Football in the John Harbaugh era despite this marking the 12th time they’ve played on the road.

Below are Monday night’s inactives:

BALTIMORE
DT Michael Pierce
CB Anthony Averett
S Bennett Jackson
DL Zach Sieler
G Ben Powers
WR Jaleel Scott
QB Trace McSorley

LOS ANGELES
OT Rob Havenstein
WR Nsimba Webster
DB Darious Williams
CB Dont’e Deayon
S Jake Gervase
LB Natrez Patrick
OL Jamil Demby

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Ravens defensive tackle Pierce doubtful to play against Rams on Monday

Posted on 23 November 2019 by Luke Jones

OWINGS MILLS, Md. — The Ravens are expected to be without nose tackle Michael Pierce for the second straight game as they travel to Los Angeles to meet the Rams for Monday Night Football.

Pierce was officially listed as doubtful on the final injury report after logging only one limited practice on Thursday. The fourth-year defensive lineman missed his second straight workout on Saturday, a clear sign that his right ankle isn’t quite ready for a return to action.

With Pierce unlikely to play in Week 12, the Ravens will again lean more heavily on veteran newcomers Domata Peko and Justin Ellis next to starting defensive tackle Brandon Williams. Peko and Ellis combined to play 43 defensive snaps and make five tackles in the 41-7 win over Houston last Sunday.

“That’s what gives us an opportunity not to push Michael out there unless he’s really ready to go because those guys played so well and they practiced well and they’re ready to go,” said head coach John Harbaugh, who added that Pierce didn’t suffer a setback. “Maybe he could go if we really, really had to have him go, but we have those guys available. Let’s go with those healthy guys probably.”

Left tackle Ronnie Stanley (ankle), reserve guard Ben Powers (thumb), and wide receiver and special-teams standout Chris Moore (thumb) were listed as questionable, but all three practiced fully on Friday. Moore has missed the last two games with a broken left thumb, but his upgrade in participation suggests an improved chance for him to play against the Rams.

Los Angeles ruled out starting right tackle Rob Havenstein (knee) and former Ravens cornerback Darious Williams (ankle) for Monday night’s game. Havenstein, a Mount Airy native, will miss his second straight game.

Rams wide receiver Brandin Cooks was removed from the final injury report after practicing fully all week and will make his return from a concussion that sidelined him for the last two games.

The Ravens will be making their first ever trip to the historic Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, which hasn’t hosted a Baltimore NFL team since the Colts lost to the Rams there back in 1975. Harbaugh has never been there, but it was the site of a very special football memory for his brother.

“I’ve never been there, yes. The Coliseum, John Robinson, Student Body Right, you grew up with that,” Harbaugh said. “But the biggest game to me in the Coliseum that I remember watching on TV was the greatest upset in the history of college football: Stanford-USC [in 2007]. Jim Harbaugh taking down Pete Carroll’s No. 1-ranked Trojans when they were [41]-point favorites. That was big, right?”

According to Weather.com, the Monday night forecast in Los Angeles calls for clear skies and temperatures in the mid-60s with calm winds and only a slight chance of precipitation.

Below is the final injury report of the week:

BALTIMORE
DOUBTFUL: DT Michael Pierce (ankle)
QUESTIONABLE: WR Chris Moore (thumb), G Ben Powers (thumb), OT Ronnie Stanley (ankle)

LOS ANGELES
OUT: OT Rob Havenstein (knee), CB Darious Williams (ankle)
QUESTIONABLE: LB Natrez Patrick (illness)

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Pierce absent again after making limited return to Ravens practice

Posted on 22 November 2019 by Luke Jones

OWINGS MILLS, Md. — A day after making his return to the practice field, Ravens defensive tackle Michael Pierce was back on the sidelines.

It’s unclear whether Pierce suffered a setback in his recovery from a right ankle injury sustained early in the Week 10 win in Cincinnati, but the fourth-year defensive lineman had said Thursday would be a litmus test for his chances to play against the Los Angeles Rams on Monday night.

“We will know after practice,” said Pierce, who was listed as a limited participant on Thursday. “We’ll get some things done and see how my ankle responds to individual and some team drills, and we’ll go from there. The swelling’s gone down tremendously. We had to get that out of the way before I could be able to play. We’ll see how it feels, and we’ll go from there.”

With Pierce unable to make it back-to-back practices, the Ravens may need to again lean more heavily on veteran newcomers Domata Peko and Justin Ellis. Just days after being signed, the two run-stopping defensive tackles combined to play 43 defensive snaps in the 41-7 win over Houston.

Their presence and the dominant play of Brandon Williams quell concerns about Pierce’s uncertain status.

“It definitely eases your mind. Just to see the way those guys played this week was awesome,” Pierce said. “They’re awesome dudes. One thing I told Peko — obviously, he was across the division [with Cincinnati] for so many years — I studied his film when I was a young defensive lineman as well as ‘Jelly’s.’ I’ve definitely picked some things from that game just not knowing them, and then we kind of bounced some ideas off each other in meetings.”

Left tackle Ronnie Stanley returned to practice Friday after missing Thursday’s session with what was listed as an ankle issue. Wide receiver Chris Moore (broken left thumb) continues to practice on a limited basis in hopes of being cleared to return to game action after a two-week absence.

The Rams didn’t practice on Friday, offering only an estimated injury report.

Below is Friday’s injury report:

BALTIMORE
DID NOT PARTICIPATE: RB Mark Ingram (non-injury), DT Michael Pierce (ankle), DT Brandon Williams (non-injury)
LIMITED PARTICIPATION: WR Chris Moore (thumb), G Ben Powers (thumb), OT Ronnie Stanley (ankle)
FULL PARTICIPATION: CB Brandon Carr (non-injury), CB Jimmy Smith (non-injury), S Earl Thomas (non-injury), Marshal Yanda (non-injury)

LOS ANGELES
DID NOT PARTICIPATE: RB Malcolm Brown (non-injury), OT Rob Havenstein (knee), DB Darious Williams (ankle)
LIMITED PARTICIPATION: P Johnny Hekker (illness), WR Josh Reynolds (illness)
FULL PARTICIPATION: WR Brandin Cooks (concussion)

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Houston Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson, far right, throws a pass to wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins (10) during the first half of an NFL football game against the Baltimore Ravens, Sunday, Nov. 17, 2019, in Baltimore. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez)

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Latest signings once again pay off for Ravens defense

Posted on 18 November 2019 by Luke Jones

OWINGS MILLS, Md. — Nose tackle Michael Pierce’s absence didn’t stop the Ravens defense from turning in its best performance of the season in Sunday’s dominant 41-7 win over Houston.

Thanks in part to general manager Eric DeCosta’s latest in-season signings of veteran defensive tackles Domata Peko and Justin Ellis, Baltimore held the Texans to 57 rushing yards on 15 carries through the first three quarters before giving up a Carlos Hyde 41-yard touchdown run long after the outcome had long been decided. Peko and Ellis had yet to play in the NFL this season, but the pair combined to play 43 snaps and make five tackles.

“Both of those guys stepped right in there, and you have to give them a lot of credit,” head coach John Harbaugh said. “To step in there like that, off the street, so to speak, they hadn’t been playing for the last few weeks. To be in that kind of shape, that’s not easy to do. They had over 20 plays apiece out there and did a heck of a job.

“It’s really good for our team. It gives us depth. It gives us top-level depth, starter-type level depth across the board.”

Peko and Ellis were two of six Ravens players who were not part of the organization in Week 1 to play 20 or more defensive snaps on Sunday. Those roster additions — headlined by last month’s acquisition of two-time Pro Bowl cornerback Marcus Peters — and the healthy post-bye return of cornerback Jimmy Smith have helped Baltimore improve from 27th in total defense and 23rd in points allowed after Week 4 to a respectable 14th in total yards allowed per game and seventh in scoring defense entering Monday. The Ravens allowed a season-low seven points and just 232 total yards against the Texans, the lowest yardage total they’ve surrendered since the season-opening 59-10 win at Miami.

Despite how pleased he was with the performance of Peko and Ellis, Harbaugh remains hopeful that Pierce can return in time for Monday night’s road game against the Los Angeles Rams. The fourth-year defensive lineman hasn’t played or practiced since injuring his right ankle early in the Week 10 win at Cincinnati.

“He had a chance for Sunday. I was told he had a chance for Sunday. He didn’t make it,” Harbaugh said. “If you start trying to predict things and you don’t know — I’m told he has a chance. I assume he has a better chance for this Sunday, and I’m kind of counting on him right now. But you just never know how healing is going to go.”

Special-teams standout and reserve wide receiver Chris Moore is also a possibility to play in Week 12 after missing the last two games with what Harbaugh confirmed to be a broken thumb. Moore has continued to practice on a limited basis, but he hasn’t been cleared for contact while practicing with a cast on his left thumb.

“We can protect it,” Harbaugh said. “He just has to feel good running and doing the things he has to do with his hands. He has a real good shot, but it’ll be really up to him and how it feels.”

The 8-2 Ravens will make their first appearance on Monday Night Football in two years as they play at the historic Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, but it will mark the 12th time in 14 Monday games under Harbaugh in which Baltimore has been the away team. The Ravens have gone 8-5 despite that extreme road disadvantage.

The bigger challenge could be the quick turnaround in flying home Tuesday morning and immediately beginning preparations for the Week 13 showdown with NFC-leading San Francisco.

“We’ve been everywhere on Monday night. It’s like Johnny Cash,” said Harbaugh as he laughed. “We’ve been everywhere, man, on Monday night — just not in Baltimore. Everywhere but Baltimore. I’m not complaining.

“It’s just something that you deal with, and we’ll be excited.”

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Ravens-Texans: Inactives and pre-game notes

Posted on 17 November 2019 by Luke Jones

BALTIMORE — The Ravens will try to win their sixth straight game in a season for the first time since 2000, but the AFC South-leading Houston Texans stand in their way in Week 11.

Baltimore will have to do it without standout run-stopping defensive tackle Michael Pierce, who is inactive after missing practice all week with the right ankle injury sustained early in last Sunday’s win at Cincinnati. Head coach John Harbaugh described Pierce as a game-time decision on Friday, but the fourth-year defensive lineman did not go through an on-field workout, suggesting he wasn’t particularly close to playing.

Pierce’s status prompted the Ravens to sign veteran defensive tackles Domata Peko and Justin Ellis, who are both active for Sunday’s game. Second-year defensive lineman Zach Sieler is a healthy scratch after failing to impress in Pierce’s absence against the Bengals last week.

For the second straight game, wide receiver and special-teams standout Chris Moore was deactivated as he continues to deal with a substantial thumb injury. Rookie cornerback Iman Marshall is also inactive despite being activated from injured reserve earlier this week.

On Saturday, Houston downgraded starting wide receiver Will Fuller (hamstring) and starting cornerback Bradley Roby (hamstring) to out after both practiced only on a limited basis this week, but left tackle Laremy Tunsil (shoulder) and starting safety Tashaun Gipson (back/wrist) are active for the Texans after missing time prior to their bye week.

The Texans also deactivated cornerback Vernon Hargreaves, whom they claimed off waivers this week.

Sunday’s referee is Alex Kemp.

According to Weather.com, the Sunday forecast in Baltimore calls for cloudy skies and temperatures reaching the mid-40s with winds 10 to 15 miles per hour and no chance of precipitation.

The Ravens are wearing their purple  jerseys with white pants while Houston dons white tops and navy blue pants for Week 11.

Sunday marks the 10th all-time meeting between these teams in the regular season with the Ravens enjoying a 7-2 advantage. The Texans have never won a game in Baltimore, which also includes the 2011 divisional playoff meeting at M&T Bank Stadium.

Below are Sunday’s inactives:

BALTIMORE
DT Michael Pierce
WR Chris Moore
QB Trace McSorley
WR Jaleel Scott
CB Iman Marshall
G Ben Powers
DT Zach Sieler

HOUSTON
WR Will Fuller
CB Bradley Roby
CB Vernon Hargreaves
WR Steven Mitchell Jr.
LB Tyrell Adams
OT Chris Clark
DE Joel Heath

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