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Ravens-Jaguars: Inactives and pre-game notes

Posted on 24 September 2017 by Luke Jones

LONDON — For the first time in the 22-year history of the franchise, the Ravens are playing a game outside the United States as they take on Jacksonville at Wembley Stadium in London.

Having arrived Friday morning, Baltimore aims to start 3-0 for the second year in a row and just the third time in the John Harbaugh era. The Jaguars are playing in London for the fifth straight year, giving them the experience edge in adjusting to the five-hour time change and playing in the iconic venue. However, the number of Baltimore fans witnessed on the streets of London compared to Jacksonville fans this week could give the Ravens a home-field feel at Wembley.

The biggest surprise on the list of inactives was offensive lineman Tony Bergstrom, who filled in for the injured Marshal Yanda in the second half of last Sunday’s game. Recently promoted from the practice squad, Matt Skura was lining up as the starting right guard during pre-game warmups and did start all four preseason games last month.

Rookie offensive lineman and London native Jermaine Eluemunor is also active for the first time this season.

The Ravens will be without their anchor on the defensive line after Brandon Williams (foot) was already ruled out on Friday. Third-year defensive tackle Carl Davis will start in his place in the base defense, but second-year defensive lineman Willie Henry is also active for the first time this season.

Despite missing practices in Owings Mills on Wednesday and Thursday, running back Terrance West (calf) is active and will play. He received just two carries in the second half of the 24-10 win over Cleveland as Buck Allen and Alex Collins handled the workload in the backfield.

Outside linebacker Za’Darius Smith (knee/ankle) is also active and will return to action for the first time since the season opener. He was a full participant in practice all week and was moving around well during a pre-game workout.

There were no surprises among the Jacksonville inactives as both left tackle Cam Robinson (shoulder) and cornerback Jalen Ramsey (ankle) were activated despite being listed as questionable on the final injury report.

Sunday’s referee is Pete Morelli.

According to Weather.com, the Sunday forecast in London calls for partly cloudy skies and temperatures reaching 70 degrees with winds up to 10 miles per hour and no chance of precipitation.

The Ravens are wearing white jerseys with black pants while the Jaguars don black tops with black pants for Week 3.

Sunday marks the 21st all-time meeting between these former AFC Central rivals with Jacksonville holding an 11-9 advantage. However, the Ravens are 9-3 against the Jaguars since the start of the 2000 season and won last year’s Week 3 meeting between the teams in Jacksonville.

Below are Sunday’s inactives:

BALTIMORE
OL Tony Bergstrom
DE Chris Wormley
DE Bronson Kaufusi
DT Brandon Williams
CB Jaylen Hill
OT Diegot Joseph
TE Maxx Williams

JACKSONVILLE
QB Ryan Nassib
RB T.J. Yeldon
LB Lerentee McCray
OL William Poehls
OL Josh Walker
CB Jalen Myrick
WR Jaelen Strong

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Ravens-Jaguars: Five predictions for Sunday

Posted on 23 September 2017 by Luke Jones

The Ravens face a familiar opponent in unfamiliar territory on Sunday.

Playing Jacksonville for the fourth consecutive season, Baltimore will play its first ever game in London at the famous Wembley Stadium. The Ravens seek their third 3-0 start of the John Harbaugh era while the Jaguars try to rebound from an embarrassing home loss to Tennessee.

Of course, poor health continues to be a major part of the story for the Ravens as a staggering 15 players have already been placed on injured reserve — along with practice-squad member Jeremy Langford — and four additional players have already been ruled out for Week 3.

It’s time to go on the record as Baltimore seeks its second consecutive win over the Jaguars, who still lead the all-time series with an 11-9 mark that largely stems from the days of the old AFC Central. The Ravens have won nine of the last 12 meetings dating back to the 2000 season.

Below are five predictions for Sunday:

1. Even without Brandon Williams, Baltimore will hold Leonard Fournette to less than 3.5 yards per carry. The Jaguars rank ninth in the NFL in rushing yards per game while the Ravens defense has been leakier against the run than you’d expect at 4.0 yards per carry allowed. There was plenty of debate in the offseason about whether giving Williams a lucrative deal was the best use of cap resources when you considered the young depth on the defensive line that includes nose tackle Michael Pierce. We’ll find out how that group looks against a rookie running back with exceptional talent.

2. Mike Wallace and Allen Hurns will catch touchdown passes for their respective teams. The Baltimore receiver was sure to emphasize that he wants to win more than anything when he talked about wanting the ball more this week, but offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg does need to get the downfield passing game going. Jaguars cornerback Jalen Ramsey is dealing with an ankle injury, which should leave his secondary vulnerable to a big play. Meanwhile, Hurns has been forced to pick up the slack for the injured Allen Robinson, and the Ravens have given up some yards through the air so far.

3. The Ravens will finish with under 100 rushing yards in their first full game without Marshal Yanda. Only Denver recorded more carries than the Ravens over the first two weeks of the season and the Jaguars have given up 136.0 yards per game on the ground, but the loss of a six-time Pro Bowl guard will impact any team’s ability in the trenches. Harbaugh has expressed confidence in new right guard Tony Bergstrom, but he struggled last week and will have his hands full with defensive tackle Malik Jackson. It also doesn’t help that starting running back Terrance West is dealing with a calf issue.

4. Tony Jefferson will record his first interception for one of two Ravens’ takeaways on the day. It’s incredible to think Baltimore has already surpassed its interception total from the entire 2015 season, but Jefferson is the lone member of the starting secondary not to grab one thus far, which has earned him plenty of ribbing from defensive teammates. The Jaguars will do everything they can to keep the game out of the hands of maligned quarterback Blake Bortles, but he’s thrown 53 interceptions in 48 career games and will be picked off by Jefferson at a critical moment of a low-scoring game.

5. Justin Tucker will shine in a grind-it-out 16-13 victory for Baltimore. The Jaguars’ experience playing overseas and the need to adjust to the five-hour time change are legitimate concerns for the Ravens, who were 2-6 on the road last season and haven’t played well away from M&T Bank Stadium for years now. It won’t be a pretty performance, but Tucker will hit a field goal from beyond 50 yards and add two more to put on a good show for the soccer faithful in London. With Pittsburgh and Oakland looming in the next two weeks, the Ravens would very much like to win this one.

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Zuttah, Reynolds, Taliaferro let go by Ravens in first wave of roster cuts

Posted on 01 September 2017 by Luke Jones

The Ravens began trimming their roster to the NFL-mandated 53-man limit Friday with few surprises among the cuts.

Veteran center Jeremy Zuttah, oft-injured running back Lorenzo Taliaferro, and wide receiver and former Navy quarterback Keenan Reynolds were among the most notable names to be released as general manager Ozzie Newsome pared his active roster from 90 to 67 players. Baltimore must set its initial 53-man roster by Saturday’s 4 p.m. deadline.

Re-signed by the Ravens two weeks ago after being cut by San Francisco on Aug. 9, Zuttah did not beat out new starting center Ryan Jensen and became expendable with the Friday acquisition of interior lineman Tony Bergstrom from the Arizona Cardinals for a conditional 2018 seventh-round pick. This marks the second time in less than six months that Newsome has parted ways with Zuttah as the former starter had been traded to the 49ers in March.

The undersized Zuttah was not considered to be a great fit in new senior offensive assistant Greg Roman’s blocking schemes, but the Ravens decided to bring him back for another look after guards Alex Lewis and Nico Siragusa suffered season-ending injuries in training camp.

Taliaferro entered the summer atop the depth chart at the fullback position, but he never appeared comfortable at his new position and quickly fell behind undrafted free agent Ricky Ortiz and even rookie defensive lineman Patrick Ricard in the pecking order. The 2014 fourth-round pick showed promise as a rookie, but he had played in only 19 games over his first three NFL seasons because of injuries.

Despite many local fans rooting for him to succeed after a record-breaking collegiate career in Annapolis, Reynolds hasn’t progressed as quickly as the Ravens would have hoped after he spent his rookie season on the practice squad. The 2016 sixth-round pick did not record a reception in the preseason and fumbled a punt in Thursday’s preseason finale in New Orleans. It remains unclear whether the Ravens will look to re-sign him to their practice squad.

Other veterans cut on Friday included tight end Larry Donnell, running back Bobby Rainey, wide receiver Griff Whalen, quarterback Thaddeus Lewis, and cornerback Trevin Wade. The Ravens also waived offensive linemen De’Ondre Wesley, Jarell Broxton, Roubbens Joseph, Jarrod Pughsley, and Derrick Nelson, kicker Kenny Allen, long snapper Taybor Pepper, linebacker Randy Allen, wide receiver C.J. Board, and safety Otha Foster.

Lewis, Siragusa, running back Kenneth Dixon, wide receiver Tim White, cornerback Tavon Young, and linebacker Albert McClellan were all officially placed on season-ending injured reserve. Because they did not remain on the active roster through Saturday’s deadline, none of the aforementioned players are eligible to receive a designation to return later in the season.

It’s worth noting that the Ravens did not place cornerback Maurice Canady on IR yet as he remains a candidate to return later in the season from knee surgery. He would have to stay on the initial 53-man roster until Sunday to remain eligible.

Friday’s transactions leave the Ravens with 67 players on their roster, meaning they must make 14 more moves by the deadline.

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