Baltimore Ravens: Arthur Brown

Ravens Camp Report: Day 1

July, 24, 2014
Jul 24
4:15
PM ET
OWINGS MILLS, Md. -- A daily look at what happened at Baltimore Ravens training camp:


  • Wide receiver Steve Smith put on a show in his first training camp practice with the Ravens. He started by faking out cornerback Lardarius Webb to get open for an out route and then beat Chykie Brown and Webb again on deep passes. The Ravens expected Smith to raise the intensity level of practice when they signed him as a free agent. He certainly didn't disappoint.
  • Quarterback Joe Flacco didn't have the smoothest of days. The Ravens are hoping he gets to the point where the ball is out of his hands on the fifth step of his dropback. He held on to the ball too long and he wasn't sharp on passes. Flacco even had a screen pass knocked down by Haloti Ngata. This shouldn't be a shock. It took Flacco some time to get his rhythm in this new offense in the offseason.
  • Coach John Harbaugh raved about how his players are in such good shape, and that's true for the most part. The biggest concern is outside linebacker Courtney Upshaw. This isn't a new concern because he has struggled with his weight in the past. Upshaw looked even bigger since he practiced at last month's minicamp. The challenge for Upshaw is eating healthy. There were times Thursday when he was taking a knee between reps to catch his breath.
  • Arthur Brown, a second-round pick from a year ago, was running with the starters at inside linebacker, alongside Daryl Smith. The favorite, though, remains first-round pick C.J. Mosley, who was working with the first team at the end of last month's minicamp. Mosley has been the most impressive rookie in this year's draft class.
  • In terms of the offensive line, the right tackle battle looks like it's between Rick Wagner and Jah Reid. Ryan Jensen worked at tackle during the offseason, but that experiment appears to be over. Reid, who missed most of the spring workouts with a calf injury, practiced with the second team at right tackle.
  • Schedule: The Ravens' practice on Friday begins at 10 a.m. Their first contact practice is Saturday. Coach John Harbaugh, secondary/assistant head coach Steve Spagnuolo and cornerbacks Jimmy Smith and Lardarius Webb will speak to the media following practice.
Inside linebacker Arthur Brown has gone from being a spectator to a potential playmaker.

Brown, a second-round pick by the Baltimore Ravens a year ago, wasn't practicing at this time last year because he was recovering from sports hernia surgery. That slowed his development and led to him losing the starting job to Josh Bynes.

Brown
During this year's offseason practices, Brown has looked fast and more instinctual. He has been running with the first-team defense and has been catching the attention of the Ravens' coaching staff.

"Art Brown has improved light years from a year ago -- light years," defensive coordinator Dean Pees said. "This guy has really had a great camp. He still has a moment like all of them do, but he is so improved from a year ago."

Brown was a disappointment last season because he was expected to be more than a situational player. He never really absorbed the defense and was limited to playing on passing downs.

The 56th overall pick of last year's draft, Brown finished with 15 total tackles (three on special teams), a half sack and one forced fumble. He ended up playing 22 percent of the defensive snaps this season.

Some believed the Ravens were already giving up on Brown when they used a first-round pick on C.J. Mosley two months ago, but the Ravens envision Brown being part of the future of the defense even if he's not a starter this year.

There's a good chance Brown will back up Mosley and Daryl Smith to begin the season. Brown, though, is the eventual successor to Smith, who turned 32 two months ago.

The Ravens could have one of the fastest inside linebacker combinations with Brown and Mosley. It's just a matter of when Brown is ready to take that next step. Based on what he's done this spring, that time may come sooner than everyone thought.
The Baltimore Ravens didn't get much production out of their 2013 draft class, but the team may lean on its second-year players more this season.

SportsNation

Which second-year player will show the most significant improvement?

  •  
    10%
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    18%
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    59%
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    6%
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    7%

Discuss (Total votes: 1,200)

Which player is primed to make the biggest sophomore jump?
  • Inside linebacker Arthur Brown primarily played on passing downs after being selected in the second round last year. Brown was projected to start before the Ravens drafted C.J. Mosley in the first round last month. He has been impressive in offseason practices, and he'll compete for a starting job.
  • Marlon Brown was the best rookie on offense last season, making 49 receptions and catching seven touchdown passes. He won't have to start after the Ravens signed Steve Smith in free agency. But Brown will still play a major role as the No. 3 wide receiver.
  • Matt Elam was the only rookie draft pick to start last season. Elam, though, didn't consistently make plays because he played out of position at free safety. He has moved to strong safety this year and has embraced a leadership role.
  • Rick Wagner played 131 snaps last season in a backup role. The fifth-round pick from a year ago is now penciled in to replace Michael Oher as the starting right tackle.
  • Defensive tackle Brandon Williams was limited to seven games as a rookie, primarily due to a lingering toe injury. The third-round pick is competing for the open starting spot left by Arthur Jones' departure in free agency.

Record your vote on the second-year player who will make the biggest improvement this season. Then, send us your thoughts on that player to the Ravens mailbag. Your comments could be used on the blog later this week.
The Baltimore Ravens opened their first full-team offseason practice to the media on Thursday. Here are some thoughts I jotted down in my notebook:
  • Offensive lineman Kelechi Osemele was the most impressive player on the field. There is no contact in offseason practices, but Osemele jumped out because he showed intensity in every drill. Even coach John Harbaugh pointed out how Osemele was running from drill to drill. After missing the last nine games with a back injury, Osemele seemed like he was letting everyone know that he's at full strength. The biggest question is whether he will line up at left guard or right tackle.
  • Rice
    Rice
    Ray Rice was noticeably slimmer and appeared to have a good burst when hitting the holes. But the running back who drew the most attention was Justin Forsett. The veteran journeyman is extremely small, but extremely fast. He displayed good hands in catching passes out of the backfield and turned upfield in a hurry. Forsett took most of the reps with the first team, although no one should read too much into that. This could easily have been a message to Rice and Lorenzo Taliaferro, both of whom were arrested this offseason.
  • Arthur Brown, a second-round pick from a year ago, will make plays on his speed alone. The Ravens have also been happy with how he's been picking up the defense better than last season. The biggest knock on him is his size. He just hasn't gotten that much bigger from last year. Inside linebacker C.J. Mosley, the team's first-round pick, ran with the second team. He will likely take over the starting job some time in training camp. But you can envision Mosley and Brown playing alongside each other in the future.
  • The biggest surprise was Ryan Jensen taking reps at offensive tackle. A sixth-round pick from a year ago, Jensen was a backup guard and center for the team last season. To his credit, he didn't look out of place when he lined up at right tackle. Jensen is considered a favorite of offensive line coach Juan Castillo, and the Ravens obviously like his potential by keeping him on the 53-man roster last season even when he was unavailable to play early in the year because of a broken foot. Having him compete against Rick Wagner for the right tackle job could be the fastest way of getting Jensen on the field. It might also be an indication of how much the Ravens want to keep Osemele at left guard.
  • Smith
    Wide receiver Steve Smith will undoubtedly help the Ravens convert more third downs this season. He will also be a big help when he's not lining up. In between drills, Smith worked with Marlon Brown and showed him how to run some routes better. That experienced presence will be a strong influence on what is still a young wide receiver group.
  • Tight end Dennis Pitta looks like the Dennis Pitta everyone remembers from the 2012 season. It was admirable that he came back to play the final four games last season after having hip surgery. He just wasn't the same. On Thursday, he was pulling away from defenders and even made a sliding catch in the end zone on a low Joe Flacco throw. That should alleviate any concerns about the hip. Owen Daniels, the other tight end, is also coming off a broken leg from last season, but didn't stand out as much. He didn't get much separation.
  • The new coaches have introduced new drills. Wide receivers coach Bobby Engram is using what looks like big rubber bands. Players put the them around their waists and run forward while a teammate holds the band. It's supposed to create resistance. The Ravens' quarterbacks are focusing more on ball security. As they drop back, an assistant coach is hitting the passer's hands with a blocking pad.
  • It was a good move for Harbaugh to keep his players practicing outside despite the constant rain and the temperature dipping to 50-some degrees. He could have easily moved the team to the warmer and drier field house. Instead, he chose to stick it out on what he described as an "AFC North kind of a day."
OWINGS MILLS, Md. -- Six of the Baltimore Ravens' last seven first-round picks started as rookies. Based on how the Ravens' coaches gushed about inside linebacker C.J. Mosley on Friday, it's safe to say this trend will continue.

The Ravens see Mosley on the field on running downs. They want him out there against the pass. And they envision him helping this defense get back to a top-10 one for the first time since 2011.

[+] EnlargeC.J. Mosley
Scott Donaldson/Icon SMIThe Ravens say that they believe linebacker C.J. Mosley will be a force against both the run and pass.
Mosley comes into a situation where many believed the starters were already set. The Ravens re-signed Daryl Smith to a four-year deal this offseason and they invested a second-round pick in Arthur Brown only 13 months ago.

"There will be competition," Ravens defensive coordinator Dean Pees said at Mosley's introductory news conference. "We're not going to hand it to him, and he knows that. Obviously, we think he can get on the field or you wouldn't draft him in the first round."

How will the Ravens' inside linebacker situation pan out? This year, Mosley will likely start alongside Smith and learn from the 32-year-old veteran. Then, whether it's during this season or next, the Ravens will make the change and go with the athletic tandem of Mosley and Brown.

The drafting of Mosley isn't a sign that the Ravens believe Brown is a bust. The Ravens see Mosley and Brown as their long-term duo inside, and the timetable of this happening all depends on Brown's development. With the way Smith's contract is structured, the Ravens are only married to him for two seasons.

Mosley is versatile enough that he can play weakside linebacker this year and take Smith's spot in the middle in 2015. Working in Mosley's favor to make an immediate impact is his high football intelligence and his familiarity with the Ravens' defense.

When Pees spoke with Mosley at his pro day a couple of months ago, he threw a couple of terms that the Ravens use on defense.

"He kind of smiled and laughed at them because they were the exact same terms that they use at Alabama," Pees said.

Pees' connection with Alabama coach Nick Saban dates back 24 years. He was Saban's defensive coordinator at Toledo in 1990 and ran Saban's defense at Michigan State from 1995 to 1997. Both Pees and Saban are known for running multiple defenses.

"Sometimes it's not a great fit when people come here and they've played in the same one front and one coverage all the time," Pees said. "This guy hasn't. He's had to control the front and make those calls and make those checks up front. That's one of the things that I really, really liked about the system that he came from."

It doesn't sound like the Ravens are going to easy Mosley into the defense as a part-time player. Last year, the Ravens would use Jameel McClain or Josh Bynes on running downs and sub in Brown on passing situations.

Pees scoffed at reports he read that described Mosley as a better defender against the run than the pass.

"I don't think we'd draft a guy who couldn't be on the field for three downs," he said. "This guy is a three-down linebacker, there's no question about it. I wouldn't take him off the field against any passing team."

This is the fifth straight year in which the Ravens' top pick has been a defensive player. The Ravens are hoping Mosley is the key piece to getting the defense back on track.

After nine straight years of ranking in the top 10, the Ravens' defense finished 17th in 2012 and 12th last season.

"We want to get back to the top on defense," Pees said, "and we think this is the guy right here who can lead us in that direction."
Our weekly Baltimore Ravens chat focused on all of the draft possibilities for the team. You can click here for a full transcript. Here are some highlights:

Chris (Baltimore): If Texas A&M wide receiver Mike Evans falls past Tampa Bay at No. 7, could you see the Ravens trading up to get him?

Jamison Hensley (ESPN): Not really. The Ravens could trade up as high as No. 8 if they're willing to give up their second-round pick. But the Ravens aren't going to do that. That would mean the Ravens' next pick would be 79th overall in the third round. If the Ravens traded their third-round pick, the highest they could trade up is No. 14. I could see them doing this if there is someone they really covet is sitting there at that spot. But Evans isn't going to last past the top 10.

Steve (Sydney): Jamison, sure you'll get lots of questions about this. With Alabama linebacker C.J. Mosley as the mock pick and with that being as good a chance as any of being the real pick, how do you think the Ravens would use him? Surely they have to see what Arthur Brown has, so does Mosley alternate downs with Daryl Smith to rest him, or is he spelling Terrell Suggs on the outside in coverage or something else?

Jamison Hensley (ESPN): Inside linebacker isn't a glaring need but the Ravens aren't comfortable with that position. That's why they showed so much patience with Rolando McClain. Let's not forget that Daryl Smith is 32, and Arthur Brown didn't develop as quickly as everyone envisioned. Mosley is a guaranteed starter in 2014 and has Pro Bowl potential. He would start immediately next to Smith, and Brown would remain a role player for another year.

Mickey (Boston): What do you think is the earliest round the Ravens would consider taking a QB?

Jamison Hensley (ESPN): Fourth round. Two compensatory picks at the bottom of that round, so essentially they're both early fifth-round picks in some regard.

Nick (Maryland): The first three games on the Ravens schedule are against divisional opponents and Ray Rice may be suspended to start the year. With that being said, how early do you think the Ravens will pick a RB? And which RB is most likely to end up in Baltimore?

Jamison Hensley (ESPN): The Ravens will start looking at running backs in the third round. Washington's Bishop Sankey, West Virginia's Charles Sims and Florida State's Devonta Freeman would be good fits.

Jeff (Washington): Can you please rank the five following players as you think the Ravens will on their draft board? North Carolina tight end Eric Ebron, Alabama linebacker C.J. Mosley, Alabama safety Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, Notre Dame offensive lineman Zack Martin and Louisville safety Calvin Pryor.

Jamison Hensley (ESPN): Ebron, Clinton-Dix, Mosley, Martin, Pryor.
The Baltimore Ravens' team page continues to a take a position-by-position review of the team's 2013 season and give a sneak peek of what lies ahead:

LINEBACKERS

Under contract (2014 salary-cap number): OLB Terrell Suggs ($12.4 million), ILB Jameel McClain ($4.4M), OLB Elvis Dumervil ($3.375M), OLB Courtney Upshaw ($1.444M), OLB Arthur Brown ($807,780), OLB John Simon ($591,413), OLB Pernell McPhee ($681,140).

2014 free agents: ILB Daryl Smith (unrestricted), ILB Albert McClellan (restricted), ILB Josh Bynes (exclusive rights), OLB Adrian Hamilton (exclusive rights), OLB D.J. Bryant (exclusive rights).

Smith
The good: Smith made everyone forget that Ray Lewis was gone. He led the Ravens with 123 tackles and finished with five sacks, three interceptions, 19 passes defensed and two forced fumbles. Suggs and Dumervil combined for 19.5 sacks, which was nearly half of the team's total. McClain made an admirable comeback from a spinal cord contusion and recorded 52 tackles in 10 games.

The bad: Suggs disappeared in the second half of the season, contributing 20 tackles and one sack in his final eight games. Dumervil was equally non-effective with nine tackles and one sack in his last six games. Brown was projected to start as a rookie, but he was limited to passing downs.

The money: The Ravens want to sign Suggs to an extension to reduce his $12.4 million cap hit and increase his chances of retiring as a Raven. It'll be interesting to see whether the Ravens can re-sign Smith. He exceeded expectations but he'll turn 32 in March. The Ravens are expected to cut McClain because they can free up $3.2 million in cap space.

Draft priority: Low, at this point. If the Ravens can't reach an extension with Suggs and decide to release him, the need for an edge rusher increases significantly. But right now, linebacker is a low priority. The Ravens are banking on Brown to step up and fill McClain's starting spot. There is solid depth (and quality special teams play) from the likes of Bynes, McClellan and Simon.
ESPN draft analyst Mel Kiper Jr. regraded the 2013 draft Insider, and it could've been worse for the Baltimore Ravens.

The Ravens' new grade from Kiper is B-minus, after receiving an A-minus immediately after the draft. This is a generous re-assessment, given that the Ravens' best rookie was undrafted wide receiver Marlon Brown.

Safety Matt Elam, the team's first-round pick, was the only player from the Ravens' draft class to start this season. In fact, he was the only player from the Ravens' draft class to play more than 20 percent of snaps on either offense or defense. He had an up-and-down year, but he made more of an impact that second-round pick Arthur Brown, who played in passing situations.

Kiper offered this question in his analysis:
"So would you rather have Elam and [linebacker] Arthur Brown, or [safety D.J.] Swearinger and [linebacker Manti] Te'o if you were looking for help at safety and inside linebacker in the first two rounds? Elam and Brown could be just fine, but grading early returns, you might prefer the other pair, which was an option."

This is what assistant general manager Eric DeCosta told The Baltimore Sun about the Ravens' top three picks:
"Matt played a lot this year, and we think he's going to play better and better and better. We're very excited about him. Arthur Brown came back from an injury early in training camp, and his ceiling is unlimited with his athletic skills. We think [third-round defensive tackle] Brandon Williams flashed for us this year with a very, very good preseason, explosive guy. He's really going to have the opportunity to play next year and play well. I think the offseason with him is going to be big."

The Ravens were at a disadvantage last year because they had to pick at the bottom of every round as the defending Super Bowl champions. This year, Baltimore will draft the middle of each round and need more immediate impact players after going 8-8.
The Baltimore Ravens blog will take a look at the team's top five draft picks in 2013 and how they fared as rookies:

ARTHUR BROWN

Position: Inside linebacker

Drafted: Second round, 56th overall (selected 10 spots after Bills LB Kiko Alonso and just before Texans S D.J. Swearinger)

Key stats: 14 total tackles (three on special teams), a half sack and one forced fumble

His 2013 season: Brown was a situational player when they needed him to be a starter. A sports hernia injury in the offseason slowed his development. He had surgery after rookie minicamp, which made him a spectator for the spring workouts. Brown never seemed to catch up after that in terms of learning the entire defensive scheme and lost the starting job in the preseason to Josh Bynes, who was undrafted a couple of years ago. As a result, Brown replaced Bynes and Jameel McClain on passing downs. He ended up playing 22 percent of the defensive snaps this season. Even though it didn't show in the stats, I liked how Brown was able to get pressure on the quarterback with the blitzes up the middle.

Forecasting 2014: The perfect scenario is teaming Brown with Daryl Smith at inside linebacker. Smith would need to be re-signed in free agency. But that would pair a young striker in the middle with an experienced veteran.

What the Ravens are saying about Brown: "Art Brown did a really good job in our nickel packages. Art is a guy who’s learning a lot of football. He bounced [between defensive positions] a little bit in college. And football, understanding the complexity of defensive schemes in this league -- at this level -- is going to take him to a starting role. He’s going to compete for a starting job. He’ll be competing for that [weak-side] linebacker starting job. I expect him to win the job, but he’s got to go win the job." -- Head coach John Harbaugh
OWINGS MILLS, Md. -- Three Baltimore Ravens linebackers are on the injury report for Sunday's game at the Pittsburgh Steelers, including two at inside linebacker.

Bynes
The Ravens officially ruled out starting inside linebacker Josh Bynes after he had surgery on his infected finger. Rookie second-round pick Arthur Brown is expected to make his first career start.

Outside linebacker Courtney Upshaw (foot) and inside linebacker Albert McClellan (shoulder) are both listed as questionable. Upshaw has been limited all week, and McClellan played last Sunday with the same injury.

Without Bynes, the Ravens may consider activating Jameel McClain from the physically unable to perform list. McClain, who suffered a spinal cord contusion 10 months ago, is listed as probable after practicing all week.

Defensive tackle Haloti Ngata is listed as questionable, but he returned to the game last Sunday after straining his elbow.

Here is the Ravens' official injury report:

OUT: ILB Josh Bynes (finger, thigh).

DOUBTFUL: WR Brandon Stokley (groin), C Ryan Jensen (foot).

QUESTIONABLE: CB Chykie Brown (thigh), DT Terrence Cody (knee), LB Albert McClellan (shoulder), DT Haloti Ngata (elbow), LB Courtney Upshaw (foot), CB Lardarius Webb (hamstring).

PROBABLE: DE Chris Canty (groin), LB Jameel McClain (neck), DT Marcus Spears (knee).
OWINGS MILLS, Md. -- Baltimore Ravens starting inside linebacker Josh Bynes was ruled out for Sunday's game against the Pittsburgh Steelers after he needed surgery on an infected finger, coach John Harbaugh announced Friday.

Bynes cut his finger last week, and it got infected after he played in last Sunday's game. He was hospitalized Tuesday night but returned to the team the next day. There was hope Bynes would play in Sunday's game in Pittsburgh, but he didn't practice Wednesday or Thursday.

"Then last night, the infection kind of beat the antibiotics," Harbaugh said. "So he had to get surgery on that finger to get that cleaned out."

Harbaugh indicated Bynes is "doing fine" and it's not major surgery.

"(But) that will preclude him from playing in this game," Harbaugh said.

With Bynes being ruled out, rookie second-round pick Arthur Brown is expected to make his first career start. He's primarily been limited to playing on passing downs.

"I put in the preparation this week and I'm definitely confident," Brown said. "I'm ready to go."

The other factor is the potential return of inside linebacker Jameel McClain, who practiced this week for the first time since suffering a spinal cord contusion 10 months ago. He has had full practices all week, and the team has until Saturday at 4 p.m. to decide whether to activate him from the physically unable to perform list and put him on the 53-man roster.

McClain started the previous three seasons for the Ravens.

Asked if there is any chance of McClain playing against the Steelers, Harbaugh said, "Why don't we just wait and see on that. I'm not prepared to make an announcement on that right now."
Like every weekday morning, you need your Ravens wake-up caw ...
  • Defensive lineman Art Jones was cleared earlier this week to return to practice after a two-week absence. In his first comments since coming back, Jones revealed his illness was a racing heartbeat that would not settle down following the preseason game on Aug. 22. "It was definitely stressful for a little bit," Jones said, via Comcast SportsNet Baltimore. "If my time for playing football was over, I had a good run at it. But my work isn’t done yet." Jones has endured personal hardships growing up, from the death of his older sister to a fire in the family home. It was a good sight to see his big smile back in the locker room.
  • The Ravens are still working on developing wide receivers, The Baltimore Sun's Mike Preston wrote. "We've made our mistakes in scouting in all positions throughout the years, not just receiver," said Eric DeCosta, the Ravens' assistant general manager. "I think receiver is a challenging position to evaluate, but I think we can do better. We have excellent coaches here, but I would say the fault probably lies more in scouting. We just haven't always picked the right guy." None of the 20 wide receivers drafted by the Ravens has eclipsed 70 catches in a season or 1,000 yards for the team.
  • Arthur Brown's missed block led to a blocked punt in the preseason opener. Playing on the punt team, as well as blocking, is a learning process for the rookie linebacker, who never played special teams at Kansas State. “There’s a lot that I don’t know about special teams and there’s a lot of technique that I’m learning at this point in time,” Brown told the team's official website. “I’m still not where I want to be at this point.”
  • The Ravens have a lot of respect for the Browns' defensive front and linebackers. “Their front seven is a strength of their team," Ravens guard Kelechi Osemele told the Carroll County (Md.) Times. "Their front seven is one of the best that we’re going to see. They’re definitely getting up there with the Pittsburghs of the world and definitely playing well as a unit.” One of the top matchups is Browns lineman Desmond Bryant against the left side of the Ravens' line (guard Marshal Yanda and tackle Bryant McKinnie).
  • The Browns blitzed on 20 of 43 of the Dolphins' pass plays in Week 1, according to Pro Football Focus (via The Baltimore Sun). Against Denver, quarterback Joe Flacco completed fewer than half of his passes against the blitz but threw two touchdowns when the Broncos rushed five or more defenders.
The Baltimore Ravens return to the practice field after having three of the past four days off. I'm interested to see if injured offensive tackle Michael Oher (ankle) practices or sits out Wednesday. It's fair to say he's questionable at this point. Here's your Wake-up caw ...
  • The Baltimore Sun's Jeff Zrebiec speculates recently re-signed Tandon Doss could replace injured Jacoby Jones on punt returns. The Ravens may not want to risk cornerback Lardarius Webb, who handled punts in the season opener, getting hurt on special teams less than a year removed from ACL surgery. On the team's official depth chart, Doss is listed as the No. 3 returner behind Jones and Webb. It's a tough call because Webb is clearly the better punt returner and the Ravens offense looks like it will need to get jumpstarted. But it's a gamble given Webb's injury history.
  • John Eisenberg, of the team's website, points out two disturbing aspects from the Ravens' defensive performance in the season opener. The Ravens got their top corner back and it didn’t matter. The defense also stopped the Broncos' run game and that didn't matter either. Do you know what would be more disturbing? If the Ravens don't improve upon their defensive performance against the Cleveland Browns on Sunday.
  • Coach John Harbaugh believes the breakdown on the blocked punt is correctable. Rookie second-round pick Arthur Brown failed to block Denver's David Bruton, which led to the special teams gaffe. "The situation is that we understood what they were doing, and we tried to execute the assignment right," Harbaugh said, via The Baltimore Sun. "The guys involved fully understand it, but we need to get better at it. There are really fast guys coming off the edges. When you’re young in this league, you need to know how to do it, and we just have to get better at it."
  • Clifton Brown from Comcast SportsNet discusses whether or not Joe Flacco's interceptions will increase this season. He was picked off twice in the season opener. Flacco hasn't thrown more than 12 interceptions in a season, and that includes his rookie one. I don't see him getting picked off more than that this season.
The 13-catch, 208-yard performance by wide receiver Anquan Boldin has caused many reporters and fans to second-guess the Baltimore Ravens' decision to trade him to the San Francisco 49ers for a sixth-round pick.

Boldin
Boldin
"I haven't heard any of it, probably by design," coach John Harbaugh said before cracking a smile. "My wife did mention it to me -- a couple of times."

As I wrote earlier, the struggles of the Ravens' passing attack in the season opener were underscored by Boldin's dominating performance. While this looks like a bad decision by the Ravens, Harbaugh said there are no hard feelings with Boldin.

"He's a great player. There's nobody here that didn't want Anquan back," Harbaugh said Monday. "He plays for another team now. I have a rooting interest in that team, I guess. So I happened to watch the game. I've got a rooting interest in Anquan, too. We all do."

In March, the Ravens asked Boldin to take a $2 million pay cut even though he played an integral part in the team's Super Bowl win a month earlier. When Boldin refused, Baltimore traded him to the 49ers to create $6 million in salary-cap room, which was used to sign three starters on defense (linebacker Elvis Dumervil, safety Michael Huff and defensive lineman Chris Canty).

The Ravens also packaged that sixth-round pick with two others to move up in the second round this year to draft linebacker Arthur Brown.

"It was a business decision both ways," Harbaugh said. "It was definitely disappointing that it ended the way it did. We're happy for his success, and I'm looking forward to our success as well."

Upon Further Review: Ravens Week 1

September, 6, 2013
9/06/13
12:00
PM ET
An examination of four hot issues from the Baltimore Ravens' 49-27 loss at the Denver Broncos:

[+] EnlargeMichael Oher
Doug Pensinger/Getty ImagesAfter right tackle Michael Oher left the game, the Ravens' passing attack suffered.
The Oher effect: There's a new appreciation for right tackle Michael Oher. After he left the game in the middle of the second quarter with a sprained ankle, quarterback Joe Flacco and the passing attack weren't the same. Rookie fifth-round pick Rick Wagner couldn't keep the right side from collapsing against a Denver defense that was without its best pass-rusher in Von Miller. With Oher in the lineup, Flacco started the game strong, completing 12 of 19 passes (63 percent) with only three off-target passes. Without Oher, Flacco connected on 22 of 43 passes (51 percent) with eight off-target passes, all of which were overthrown. Late in the third quarter, wide receiver Torrey Smith was uncovered on the right side of the field, but Flacco couldn't find him because he was pressured on that side.

Poor tackling and pursuit: It was more than Peyton Manning's passes that hurt the Ravens. Baltimore's secondary, namely safety Michael Huff and cornerback Jimmy Smith, took bad pursuit angles when the Broncos caught the ball and failed to bring them down once they got there. It played a factor in the Broncos' three longest plays of the game. On Demaryius Thomas' 78-yard touchdown, Huff and Smith were the only Ravens in front of Thomas but couldn't shed blocks. On Julius Thomas' 44-yard catch, Huff missed the tackle. And on Demaryius Thomas' 34-yard catch, Smith took the wrong angle and ran into linebacker Josh Bynes instead of getting to Thomas. The Ravens defense allowed 259 yards after the catch (120 of which came from Demaryius Thomas), more than any defense had allowed in a game during the previous two seasons, according to ESPN Stats & Information. That accounted for 56 percent of Manning's 462 passing yards.

Youth got served on special teams: Pro Bowl returner Jacoby Jones left the game with a sprained right knee because undrafted rookie Brynden Trawick didn't look to see where Jones was on the field. Trawick's eyes were on his blocking assignment, Mike Adams, and he plowed into Jones, who was looking up as he signaled for a fair catch. The Ravens then had their first punt blocked in four seasons because rookie second-round pick Arthur Brown couldn't block David Bruton. The Ravens no longer have veteran special-teams players like Brendon Ayanbadejo, Sean Considine and David Reed. Baltimore's inexperience surfaced at two critical times.

Undisciplined play: Penalties were a problem last season for the Ravens, who finished with a league-high 70.4 penalty yards per game. Judging by the season opener, not much has changed for Baltimore. The Ravens committed seven penalties for 53 yards in Denver, and nearly half of those flags were personal fouls. Jimmy Smith, Albert McClellan and Gino Gradkowski were all flagged for unnecessary roughness. McClellan hit punt returner Trindon Holliday when he was clearly out of bounds, and Smith shoved Andre Caldwell right in front of punt returner Lardarius Webb, who had just caught the ball. The Ravens have to play smarter, especially against the better teams in the NFL.

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