Baltimore Ravens: Chykie Brown

Defensive coordinator Dean Pees has taken heavy criticism after the Baltimore Ravens allowed two touchdowns in the final four minutes of Sunday's 34-33 loss to the San Diego Chargers. But general manager Ozzie Newsome and the rest of the Ravens' front office has to take their share of the blame for handcuffing Pees with an undermanned and overwhelmed secondary.

How bad has it become for the Ravens? The Ravens are ranked second-to-last in pass defense (only the Atlanta Falcons are worse) and they're on pace to shatter the franchise record for most passing yards allowed.

Much of the Ravens' struggles in the secondary can be traced back to the team's decisions over the past two years:
  • The Ravens gambled on two cornerbacks developing (Chykie Brown and Asa Jackson) and lost. They put too much faith in a couple of inexperienced cornerbacks to become the No. 3 cornerback, especially with the injury history of starters Jimmy Smith and Lardarius Webb. Brown was cut earlier this month after getting repeatedly beat, and Jackson went on short-term injured reserve after struggling as well (99th-ranked cornerback by Pro Football Focus).
  • The Ravens didn't sign a proven veteran backup this offseason. It's understandable that the Ravens chose not to retain Corey Graham considering the Buffalo Bills signed him to a four-year, $16 million deal. The mistake was failing to add someone the caliber of Brandon Flowers. The Ravens should've made a big push to get Flowers in June before he signed a one-year, $3 million deal with the Chargers. Flowers has three interceptions this season and is currently the fourth-ranked cornerback by Pro Football Focus. The Ravens have since gone through Dominique Franks, Derek Cox and Aaron Ross (injured) with little success.
  • Their drafting at the safety position has not produced immediate results. The Ravens addressed safety with a first-round pick last year (Matt Elam) and a third-rounder this year (Terrence Brooks). That's a major investment for a position that still remains a liability. Elam lost his starting job this season after being the worst coverage safety in the NFL and missing 12 tackles. Brooks has had an up-and-down rookie season and was benched Sunday after giving up a touchdown in New Orleans the previous week. He is not making the same consistent impact as the Ravens' other selections in the first three rounds (linebacker C.J. Mosley, defensive tackle Timmy Jernigan and tight end Crockett Gillmore).

The Ravens did make some good moves this offseason, signing wide receiver Steve Smith, tight end Owen Daniels and safety Will Hill to bargain deals. They also made the right decision to go with inexperienced Rick Wagner at right tackle.

But the Ravens could tell this summer that the secondary was going to be a major weak spot, and Newsome didn't work his usual magic to add talent there. The season-ending foot injury to Jimmy Smith only underscored the problem.

Pees has tried different combinations to improve the pass defense. The Ravens have started six different cornerbacks and used seven players at safety to no avail.

Now, heading into the final four games of the regular season, the Ravens are going with a struggling Webb (ranks No. 203 out of 214 corners by Pro Football Focus) and converted safety Anthony Levine at cornerback, as well as a constant rotation at safety alongside Hill.

It's easy to rip Pees when the defense gives up 965 yards passing and 61 points the past two games. But you also have to point the finger at Newsome and the front office for the makeshift secondary, which looks like it will be the Ravens' undoing.
The necessary moves made by the Baltimore Ravens on Tuesday improved their secondary. It's just not a significant upgrade.

The Ravens knew their coverage wasn't going to get any better with Dominique Franks and Chykie Brown. It was time to cut both of those cornerbacks after they combined to give up 29 catches for 479 yards and four touchdowns this season. Quarterbacks had a passer rating of 115.9 when throwing at Franks and Brown.

In replacing them, the Ravens upgraded by claiming Danny Gorrer off waivers from the Detroit Lions and promoting Tramain Jacobs from the practice squad.

Gorrer was the nickel back on a Lions' pass defense that ranked No. 5 in the NFL, although he wasn't very effective. He was seen as expendable after giving up 10 catches for 119 yards.

The Ravens are hoping Gorrer, who played 11 games for the Ravens in 2011, can be a better stopgap in the starting lineup until Jimmy Smith recovers from his foot injury. There's a chance that Smith will only miss one more game if he can return following next week's bye.

As for Jacobs, the Ravens believed it was time to give him a shot because he offered more upside than Brown. Jacobs had problems with penalties in the preseason, but the Ravens' coaches think he has the potential to develop into a No. 3 corner in future years.

How did the Ravens get themselves in this situation? The Ravens couldn't match the $4 million per season deal that the Buffalo Bills to Corey Graham. Instead of adding a cornerback in free agency (and there weren't many options) or drafting one, the Ravens gambled that either Asa Jackson or Chykie Brown would step up and become the nickel back. Jackson had his struggles before injuring his toe (he's on short-term injured reserve now), and Brown was benched after giving up the winning, 77-yard touchdown to A.J. Green in the season opener.

It's safe to assume that cornerback is going to be among the Ravens' priorities this offseason.

Examining Ravens' roster moves

November, 4, 2014
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The Baltimore Ravens made a couple of roster moves on Tuesday, adding nose tackle Terrence Cody and cornerback Tramain Jacobs to the 53-man roster and cutting cornerback Chykie Brown and tight end Phillip Supernaw.

Here is what the moves likely mean.

Cody
Cody, who was on the Physically Unable to Perform list after offseason hip surgery, is expected to back up Brandon Williams at nose tackle. Cody brings more size to an already strong interior of the defensive line, which is a major reason why the Ravens rank No. 6 in the NFL in run defense. The addition of Cody could mean reduced playing time in the rotation for DeAngelo Tyson, who has struggled for most of the season. Cody, a second-round pick in 2010, re-signed with the Ravens this season for one-year, $730,000.

Jacobs, an undrafted rookie from Texas A&M who was on the practice squad, likely won't be pushed into action right away even though the Ravens have only two other healthy cornerbacks (Lardarius Webb and Dominique Franks). Brown played only 13 of the 69 snaps (19 percent) on Sunday night, and that was primarily later in the game. The Ravens have been going with Matt Elam as the nickel back. Jacobs became a favorite of the coaching staff during training camp. The Ravens believe Jacobs has great upside as a cover corner. His biggest problem is reducing penalties, which were a problem in the preseason.

Brown is the third member of the eight-player 2011 draft class to get let go, joining wide receiver Tandon Doss (fourth round) and running back Anthony Allen (seventh round). He ranked 176th out of 199 CBs in NFL, according to Pro Football Focus. A fifth-round pick three years ago, Brown had given up 11 catches for 260 yards (23.6-yard average) this season. A starter in the season opener, Brown was benched after giving up the winning 77-yard touchdown to A.J. Green. He then was beaten for a 54-yard touchdown by Antonio Brown on Sunday night in what would become his final game with the Ravens.

Supernaw, who played 22 snaps on special teams Sunday night, is expected to head back to the practice squad after playing the last two games. He made his first career catch Sunday night, but it was for minus-2 yards.
PITTSBURGH -- An argument can be made that Baltimore Ravens cornerback Jimmy Smith is the most valuable player on the team after Sunday night's 43-23 loss at Heinz Field.

In their first game without their top cornerback, the Ravens allowed Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger to throw six touchdown passes, nearly matching the total they allowed in the first eight games of the season (a league-low seven).

Smith

The Ravens' strategy was to drop seven into coverage, but they still couldn't stop the Steelers receivers from running free. Roethlisberger threw five touchdowns against four or fewer pass-rushers Sunday, matching the most in a game in ESPN Stats & Information's data set (since 2006).

"We are missing a great player, but we are capable guys in the secondary," cornerback Dominique Franks said.

On Sunday night, it looked like the Ravens had slow guys in the secondary. Franks and safety Darian Stewart watched Martavis Bryant get open against their zone defense for a 19-yard touchdown in the second quarter. Lardarius Webb was too late to get out of his backpedal and let Markus Wheaton get separation for a 47-yard touchdown in the final minute of the first half. In the fourth quarter, Chykie Brown was easily beaten by Antonio Brown for a 54-yard touchdown, and Franks and Will Hill were late to converge on Bryant for a 18-yard score.

None of this should come as a surprise. It was more a validation of their worst fears. Webb missed three of the first four games because of a back injury. Franks wasn't in the league for the first five weeks of the season. And Chykie Brown was benched after the season opener when he gave up the winning 77-yard touchdown pass to A.J. Green.

There was hope that safety Hill, who was suspended for the first six games of the season, would provide a lift for the secondary. In his first start, Hill didn't make much of an impact and was stiff-armed by Antonio Brown on his long touchdown.

The Ravens forced the Steelers into three three-and-outs in the first quarter because they were able to get pressure on Roethlisberger. There was one series when the Ravens sacked him on three straight plays.

Once Roethlisberger got time, the Ravens' secondary was no match for the depth and speed of the Steelers' receivers. It marked only the second time in his 18 meetings with the Ravens that Roethlisberger threw more than two touchdowns in a game.

"You could have never sold me on that during the week," linebacker Terrell Suggs said. "He had a heck of a day, and that is a reflection on us all."

So, when will Smith return? He went through the Ravens' locker room on Friday on crutches with his foot in a protective boot. Even though the Ravens haven't given a specific timetable on Smith, he likely won't be back for Sunday's game against the Tennessee Titans. Smith has a better chance of returning after the bye the next week.

Will Lardarius Webb miss the opener?

September, 6, 2014
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Baltimore Ravens cornerback Lardarius Webb is not expected to play the season opener against the Cincinnati Bengals "barring a surprise," according to the NFL Network.

Webb is listed as questionable with a back injury that sidelined him for the entire preseason, but he had full participation in every practice leading up to Sunday's game. A three-year starter, Webb declined through a spokesman to talk to reporters Friday.

Webb
If Webb is inactive, the Ravens would be down to three cornerbacks: Jimmy Smith, Chykie Brown and Asa Jackson. Smith (chest) and Jackson (ankle) each missed preseason games with injuries, but neither were listed on the injury report.

Losing Webb would be a major blow to the defense because either Brown or Jackson would have to start alongside Smith. In the preseason, the Ravens were more comfortable starting Brown because he has more size to match up on the outside. Jackson typically lined up against the slot receiver.

If Webb doesn't play, it would make Saturday's release of cornerback Derek Cox a peculiar move. Cox, who has 56 career starts, has more experience than Brown and Jackson, who have a combined one NFL start.

Ravens safeties Terrence Brooks and Anthony Levine can each play cornerback as well, which gives the team extra depth at that position.
As Saturday's final cutdown approaches, the news with the Baltimore Ravens might not be who's getting released. It's who might get added.

In his Monday Morning Quarterback column, Peter King mentions he would be "surprised" if the Ravens don't deal for a cornerback this week.

[+] EnlargeJimmy Smith
Timothy T. Ludwig/USA TODAY SportsRavens CB Jimmy Smith has been limited since suffering a bruised chest in a preseason game against Dallas on Aug. 16.
This isn't a groundbreaking development. Cornerback is the Ravens' most vulnerable spot because of injuries and depth issues.

Even though Jimmy Smith and Lardarius Webb are expected to return from injuries to start in the Sept. 7 regular season opener, there is a major question mark at the No. 3 cornerback spot.

The Ravens can't be comfortable with what they currently have, right? Asa Jackson has never taken a defensive snap in a regular season game and hasn't practiced since injuring his ankle on Aug. 10. Chykie Brown isn't much more experienced than Jackson and has been a liability on deep throws. Veteran free agent Dominique Franks has played better recently but he didn't take snaps with the first-team defense until two weeks ago. And Terrence Brooks is currently the nickelback, but he's a third-round rookie who started at safety in college.

Trading is the best option to get someone who can make an immediate impact as the No. 3 cornerback. The alternative is waiting for someone to get cut Saturday, and that means that defender wasn't good enough to be a fifth corner for another team.

The Ravens currently have six picks in the 2015 draft (one in the first, second, third and fourth rounds and two in the seventh). But they are expected to receive three compensatory picks, one of which could end up being a fourth-rounder (for losing either defensive end Arthur Jones or offensive tackle Michael Oher in free agency).

So, the Ravens could be wiling to give up a fourth-round pick because they could recoup it later in the form of a compensatory pick. It's the same rationale the Ravens used last season, when they traded two picks (a fourth- and fifth-rounder) to the Jacksonville Jaguars for offensive tackle Eugene Monroe.

The Ravens have the means to upgrade at cornerback. The problem is finding a team that will part with a quality defender. Teams such as the New York Giants, Green Bay Packers and New Orleans Saints have depth at cornerback, but none of ESPN.com's reporters for those teams believes a trade is likely.

When it comes to needs, cornerback is clearly at the top of the list for the Ravens. Whether they can properly address this position -- and how much it will cost -- is the big question.

BALTIMORE -- Wide receiver Steve Smith's best game of the preseason propelled the Baltimore Ravens to a 23-17 win over the Washington Redskins at M&T Bank Stadium on Saturday night.

After being quiet in the first two preseason games, Smith caught six passes for 80 yards and a touchdown. His diving 24-yard touchdown catch with 25 seconds left in the first half broke a 3-3 tie, and the Ravens (3-0) never relinquished the lead.

Smith's determination was evident on his 30-yard catch in the first quarter. He essentially broke out of four tackles to turn a short pass into a big gain.

"I am getting more comfortable with the offense," Smith said. "Last week I really didn't play well. I didn't line up well, and my assignments were off. Today was a great opportunity to show that I can be an asset instead of the liability I was last week."

Here are some other thoughts on the Ravens' third preseason game:
  • Joe Flacco showed his resiliency once again. After being under fire for most of the first half, he calmly orchestrated a two-minute drive to end the half, completing 6-of-8 passes for 74 yards and one touchdown. He was not sharp early for a second straight week, throwing behind and late to his receivers. It didn't help that he was hit more than a handful of times. Flacco finished 16-of-23 for 180 yards.
  • Ravens cornerbacks Dominique Franks and Chykie Brown held up well against the Redskins' playmaking receivers. With the Ravens' top three cornerbacks (Jimmy Smith, Lardarius Webb and Asa Jackson) all sidelined with injuries, Franks and Brown limited DeSean Jackson and Pierre Garcon to a combined two catches for four yards. Franks showed good anticipation except for a pass interference penalty on the opening drive.
  • The Redskins did a lot of blitzing (on runs and passes) for a preseason game, and the Ravens' offensive line struggled against it. Right tackle Rick Wagner got roughed up by Pro Bowl linebacker Ryan Kerrigan, and left guard Kelechi Osemele got beat as well. Flacco was sacked twice in the first half after not getting sacked in the first two preseason games.
  • How thin are the Ravens at cornerback? The Ravens used safety Anthony Levine at cornerback for the first time. On one third-down play, the Ravens had four safeties on the field: Levine at cornerback, Terrence Brooks at nickelback, Matt Elam at strong safety and Darian Stewart at free safety.
  • The Ravens' athleticism on the defensive line shined in containing Washington quarterback Robert Griffin III. Nose tackle Brandon Williams got into the backfield to drill Griffin and force an incompletion. Rookie Timmy Jernigan ran Griffin down to push him out of bounds for a sack.
  • It was an impressive first series for Brooks. He made an interception that was negated by penalty and then sacked Griffin on third down in the red zone. On that sack, Brooks showcased his speed by covering a lot of ground. Brooks is capitalizing on his time with the first-team defense.

W2W4: Baltimore Ravens

August, 23, 2014
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The Baltimore Ravens (2-0) and Washington Redskins (2-0) face off in each team's third preseason game Saturday night (7:30 ET) at M&T Bank Stadium.

1. Flacco-Smith connection. One of the impressive parts of training camp was the instant connection between quarterback Joe Flacco and his new receiver Steve Smith. It seemed like every day Smith made at least one catch that caught your attention. That chemistry hasn't carried over into the two preseason games. Smith has two catches for 17 yards. Last week in Dallas, Smith dropped a third-down pass and ran the wrong depth on a route, which led to an incompletion. In what will be the last preseason action for both Flacco and Smith, it's important for them to gain some rhythm heading into the regular season.

2. Depth at cornerback. The Ravens will get a good gauge on whether they need to add another cornerback after the final major cutdown is made at the end of the preseason. The spotlight falls on Chykie Brown and Dominique Franks, both of whom start Saturday night due to injuries. The Ravens are without their top three cornerbacks: Jimmy Smith (chest), Lardarius Webb (back) and Asa Jackson (ankle). Brown and Franks played a large portion of last week's preseason game, and they held up fairly well. Brown and Franks, though, remain big question marks. They will get tested against Redskins wide receivers DeSean Jackson and Pierre Garcon.

3. The pass rush. The best way to take pressure off the cornerbacks is to put guys on the quarterback. The Ravens haven't gotten much consistent pressure this preseason (three total sacks), which has been among the disappointments for the defense. It's not like the Ravens are holding back either. There have been plenty of times when defensive coordinator Dean Pees has called blitzes. But no one beyond Pernell McPhee and C.J. Mosley has more than one quarterback hurry in the first two preseason games. It's time for Terrell Suggs and Elvis Dumervil to collapse the pocket.
OWINGS MILLS, Md. -- Baltimore Ravens cornerback Chykie Brown has struggled mightily at times during training camp. But coach John Harbaugh sees progress from Brown, especially how he finished Saturday's preseason game at Dallas.

"Chykie acquitted himself very well," Harbaugh said.

Brown, who is filling in for injured the Lardarius Webb (back) with the first-team defense, is ranked 136th by Pro Football Focus. His low rating is mainly due to the two penalties called on him early in the preseason opener.

Brown, though, has held up well in coverage since those miscues. Only two of seven passes thrown in his direction have been completed (28.5 percent). The longest pass completed against him has been 7 yards.

He even showed some ball skills in Dallas when he knocked away an underthrown Brandon Weeden pass along the sideline.

The biggest problem for Brown is being overanxious, which often puts him out of position.

"So that’s something he has to learn, just [to] calm down," Harbaugh said. "He’s long. He doesn’t need to overreact. But the good thing that we saw him do is come back there and play the ball so well and get it out. That’s something that is a big step for him."

With Webb ruled out the rest of the preseason, Brown gets the opportunity to show continued improvement. The Ravens are still hoping that Webb and Jimmy Smith will be healthy enough to start the regular-season opener. The team would then need to decide whether Brown or Asa Jackson will be the No. 3 cornerback.
Teams can't play scared and rest every starter for the entire preseason. But there are instances when you have to play it safe.

For the Baltimore Ravens, it's time to be safe and smart with their starting cornerbacks. Jimmy Smith and Lardarius Webb shouldn't suit up for another game until the Sept. 7 season opener against the Cincinnati Bengals. Put a red jersey on them so no one hits them in practice. Heck, put them in bubble wrap if it ensures they'll be able to line up when games matter in three weeks.

Webb
Even if Smith (bruised chest) and Webb (back) can return in the preseason, the Ravens can't take the risk of getting either one banged up. The situation would be different if the Ravens had depth at that position. But they don't.

The Ravens are looking at 0-2 if they have to line up Chykie Brown and Dominique Franks as their starting cornerbacks against the likes of A.J. Green and Antonio Brown. This makes you yearn for the days of Frank Walker. Well, almost.

The Ravens' cornerback position has been as snakebitten as the drummers for Spinal Tap. Aaron Ross, who may have ended up as the Ravens' No. 3 cornerback, tore his Achilles in a conditioning test before training camp started. Webb hurt his back July 25 and hasn't practiced since. Asa Jackson, who had been the team's top backup, hurt his right ankle Aug. 10 and wore a protective boot at Saturday's preseason game.

The last injury the Ravens needed was one to Smith. Five plays into Saturday's preseason game, there was Smith landing on his back, hitting the back of his head against the turf and spitting up blood.

While Ravens coach John Harbaugh believes Smith "should be fine," the 2011 first-round pick was more concerned about his health status.

Smith

"I don't know what is wrong with me," Smith told The Baltimore Sun. "On the field, I was throwing up blood. The X-rays came back negative, but I still don't know what is the problem. I don't want to say I'm OK, or it is one thing, and then it is something else. I really don't know."

It only took one series for Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo to take advantage of Smith's absence. Wide receiver Dez Bryant elevated over Franks to pull in a Romo pass for a 31-yard touchdown.

The Ravens don't have many other options on the team. Tremain Jacobs is raw, and fellow undrafted rookie Deji Olatoye got beat on consecutive passes, including a 5-yard touchdown throw.

There are really no easy fixes here. If free agents like Asante Samuel and Dunta Robinson could help, each would be in some team's training camp by now. The best bet is looking at the cornerbacks who get cut when teams trim their rosters to 53 before the regular season. Teams don't release good cornerbacks, but there could be a player who is better than what's on the Ravens roster right now.

Come the season opener, the Ravens may be in decent shape at cornerback if Smith, Webb and Jackson are all healthy enough to play. Harbaugh has never described any of those injuries as major.

But if either Smith or Webb can't start, there's going to be a vulnerable spot in the Ravens secondary that Andy Dalton and Ben Roethlisberger will look to exploit.

W2W4: Baltimore Ravens

August, 16, 2014
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The Baltimore Ravens (1-0) and Dallas Cowboys (0-1) face off in each team’s second preseason game Saturday night at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas.

1. Efficiency of quarterback Joe Flacco. In the season opener last week, Flacco looked like a quarterback who had been in new offensive coordinator Gary Kubiak's system for years. He was decisive and precise on his intermediate throws, only throwing one incompletion on five pass attempts. Flacco has never been known as a high-percentage passer. The last time he completed more than 60 percent of his passes was 2010. The expectations for Flacco are just as heightened in the second preseason game, especially with him throwing against the NFL's third-worst pass defense last season. The Cowboys allowed an average of 287 yards passing per game. Flacco is expected to play more than one quarter but not a full half.

2. Cornerback play outside of Jimmy Smith. Everyone knows Smith is the Ravens' top cornerback on the field, and it's not even close. The concern is the drop-off after him. With Lardarius Webb (back) and Asa Jackson (ankle) both sidelined, the Ravens turn to Chykie Brown to fill in as a starter and safety Terrence Brooks to work at nickelback with the first-team defense. Like most of training camp, Brown struggled in the preseason opener. He was flagged on the first two passes thrown his way. Brooks, who was expected to compete for the starting free safety spot, is now being asked to cover the slot receiver. He has experience playing cornerback at Florida State. Cornerback is clearly the thinnest position on the team.

3. Tyrod Taylor as a pocket passer. After Taylor ran five times in the preseason, it was telling that he rarely took off during team drills since that game. It's obvious that the Ravens want to see what Taylor can do in the pocket. There are questions about his accuracy and decision-making. The Ravens aren't totally sold on Taylor as their backup, which is why they showed interest in Brandon Weeden before he signed with the Cowboys this offseason. Now there are rumblings that the Ravens would pursue Case Keenum if he is released by the Houston Texans after the preseason. Taylor will get plenty of time to convince the Ravens otherwise. He should play the entire second half at Dallas.

Breaking down Ravens 2014 camp

August, 15, 2014
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OWINGS MILLS, Md. -- The Baltimore Ravens wrapped up their 19th training camp, one that will be remembered for Steve Smith's spectacular catches, Jimmy Smith's deflections, Kelechi Osemele's pulverizing hits and a couple of season-ending injuries to the defensive line.

Looking to rebound from their worst season since 2007, the Ravens believe they're a much better team than the one that began camp three weeks ago.

"That's the beauty of training camp -- you have an opportunity to really see [the] progress," coach John Harbaugh said. "You're in a crucible, and every single day it's all you do. It's wall-to-wall football. It's morning to night. You go to sleep and you wake up, and you're back at football. There's no escape. There's nowhere to hide, [and] there's nowhere to run. It's all football all the time, so you make progress rapidly, but you have to because you have a long way to go. We just have so much work to do still between now and then, and that's what we have to focus on.”

With 23 days until the season opener, this is what stood out in this year's training camp:

Osemele
Most impressive player of camp, offense: Left guard Kelechi Osemele. If he dominates this way in the regular season, the Ravens could have another Pro Bowl guard. He put so many defensive players on their backs that I'm surprised IHOP hasn't signed him to an endorsement deal.

Most impressive player, defense: Cornerback Jimmy Smith. He has carried all of the momentum from last year into this summer. Smith was the only defensive back who repeatedly won in one-on-one drills, and he regularly knocked down the few passes thrown in his direction.

Most disappointing player, offense: Wide receiver Deonte Thompson. He never resembled a player who had made the Ravens the past two seasons. His continual drops have pushed him on the wrong side of the bubble.

Most disappointing player, defense: Cornerback Chykie Brown. He entered camp as the front-runner for the No. 3 job, and he's now the biggest concern on the defense after allowing a deep pass on nearly every day of camp. Injuries to Lardarius Webb and Asa Jackson have put Brown on the first-team defense by default.

Smith
Best play: Wide receiver Torrey Smith. He provide the highlight of camp during a red-zone drill at M&T Bank Stadium, where he skied in the air over cornerback Asa Jackson and hauled in Joe Flacco's pass with one hand.

Worst play: Defensive end Kapron Lewis-Moore suffered a season-ending Achilles injury on the second day of joint practices with the San Francisco 49ers. It's a scene that won't soon be forgotten, from his gut-wrenching screams while laying on the ground to players from both teams kneeling down to pray around him.

Best addition: Wide receiver Steve Smith. It's hard to remember a day when you weren't by a catch he made.

Daniels
Most disappointing addition: Tight end Owen Daniels. Unlike Steve Smith, Daniels looked like a player who doesn't have much left.

Biggest sleeper, offense: Wide receiver Kamar Aiken. After being cut by three teams, Aiken has impressed the Ravens with his strong hands, which has helped him go from a long shot to someone who is inching closer to a roster spot.

Biggest sleeper, defense: Cornerback Tremain Jacobs. The undrafted rookie out of Texas A&M has become a favorite of the coaching staff. He isn't going to be the No. 3 corner this year, but he has the potential to develop into one in future years.

Most improved player, offense: Fullback Kyle Juszczyk. Last year, the Ravens re-signed Vonta Leach because Juszczyk wasn't ready as a rookie. Now, Juszczyk is primed for a breakthrough year as a lead blocker and a receiver.

Most improved player, defense: Linebacker Pernell McPhee. Don't be surprised if he matches his six-sack total from his 2011 rookie season because he's healthy and looks more explosive.

W2W4: Baltimore Ravens

August, 7, 2014
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The Baltimore Ravens play host to the San Francisco 49ers to open the preseason Thursday night at M&T Bank Stadium.

1. How the cornerbacks hold up. The most pressing concern for the Ravens is the depth at cornerback. Lardarius Webb will miss at least the first two preseason games with a back injury. That means Chykie Brown most likely will start opposite Jimmy Smith in the opener. All eyes should be on Brown, Asa Jackson and undrafted rookies Tramain Jacobs and Deji Olatoye . Brown has played better recently after struggling mightily in the first week of camp. Jackson has had a solid camp, but he has to prove he can play on the outside (and not just in the slot). If the Ravens don't have a comfort level with the corners beyond Smith and Webb, they'll have to make a move before the regular season begins.

2. Effectiveness of the running game. Ray Rice has captured national attention this offseason, but the focus on the Ravens' offense will be the running game as a whole. The Ravens produced the fewest rushing yards in their history last season, and they're adjusting to Gary Kubiak's new running scheme. It's all about lineman zone blocking on stretch runs and backs making one cut before turning upfield. Rice is expected to play one or two series before giving way to Bernard Pierce, Justin Forsett and Lorenzo Taliaferro.

3. Wide receiver competition. The top four receivers -- Steve Smith, Torrey Smith, Jacoby Jones and Marlon Brown -- are locks to make the team. The remaining receivers are battling for one or two spots. Kamar Aiken has been the biggest surprise of camp, impressing the team with his strong hands. Rookie seventh-round pick Michael Campanaro has shown off his quickness, but he has had trouble staying healthy. He might not play because of a rib injury. Undrafted rookie Jeremy Butler hasn't stood out as much as he did in the offseason workouts. Deonte Thompson has dropped several passes, and as a result, he has dropped further down the depth chart. LaQuan Williams has a better shot at making the team because of what he does on special teams. “In all my years in the league, I don’t know that I’ve ever seen as competitive of a situation as we have at receiver right now,” offensive coordinator Gary Kubiak said.

Ravens Camp Report: Day 9

August, 2, 2014
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OWINGS MILLS, Md. -- A daily review of the hot topics coming out of Baltimore Ravens training camp:
  • This practice resembled many of the Ravens' games last season, when quarterback Joe Flacco was under constant pressure. Some of it had to do with starting guards Marshal Yanda and Kelechi Osemele getting the day off. Left tackle Eugene Monroe has to be looking forward to the preseason, so he will get to face someone other than Terrell Suggs, who has had his number in camp.
  • Cornerback Chykie Brown has been the lightening rod of this year's camp. After struggling mightily in the first week of camp, Brown drew headlines for a different reason Saturday. He was thrown out of practice briefly after kicking a ball, and he returned in enough time to trade swings with wide receiver Steve Smith.
  • Jacoby Jones had his best day of what has been an uneventful camp. He might have caught more passes Saturday than in the previous eight practices combined. With Marlon Brown struggling to catch the ball, Jones needs to assert himself as the No. 3 wide receiver.
  • Kamar Aiken, who has been released by three teams (Buffalo, Chicago and New England) in his career, continues to stand out in what has become an interesting battle for the last few wide receiver spots. He caught two passes in the back of the end zone in a red zone drill, showing off his strong hands again.
  • On a day when emotions ran high, guard Ryan Jensen and defensive end Kapron Lewis-Moore got into a fight. It didn't escalate, but Jensen did end up on his back.
  • Along with the starting guards, tight end Owen Daniels and linebacker Pernell McPhee all got the day off. Jensen and A.Q. Shipley filled in at guard with the first-team offense.
  • Schedule: The Ravens have a 1 p.m. ET practice Sunday.
  • Injury wire: WR Michael Campanaro bruised his ribs after falling on the ball during practice. ... CB Lardarius Webb (back) missed his seventh straight practice. He will be sidelined for at least the first two games. ... ILB Daryl Smith (groin) was sidelined for a fourth consecutive day. ... DT Timmy Jernigan (back spasms) should return soon, according to coach John Harbaugh. ... G Will Rackley (head) also didn't practice. ... NT Terrence Cody (hip) is on the physically unable to perform list.
OWINGS MILLS, Md. --When John Harbaugh threw cornerback Chykie Brown out of practice Saturday, the Baltimore Ravens coach wasn't just upset. He was in teaching mode.

The previous night, Harbaugh talked to his team about the importance of discipline. So, when Brown kicked a ball in frustration -- which would've drawn a 15-yard penalty flag in a game -- Harbaugh knew he had to take action.

"It's an opportunity to make a point on something that is important," Harbaugh told reporters after practice. "It's not really as much for the guy; he knows. It's for everybody. That gets everybody's attention."

Harbaugh allowed Brown to return to the field after being inside for about five minutes. Brown later traded swings with wide receiver Steve Smith.

"The thing I loved about it is he responded with a great practice," Harbaugh said. "He played really well. To me, that's a sign that he's going to be just fine."

Brown wasn't the only one who received a message. The Ravens' defensive coaches, led by linebackers coach Wink Martindale, ran onto the field after a big play, which didn't go unnoticed. Harbaugh asked the official to throw the flag on what he described as "a little over-exuberance."

"It's practice and you want to have fun," Harbaugh said. "But, as a head coach, when you have an opportunity to make a point that they'll remember in a situation like that in practice, I feel that's really important."

The Harbaugh brothers have been making headlines recently by booting players out of practice. On Friday, 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh told Anquan Boldin to leave the field after the wide receiver took a swing at a cornerback.

Ravens coach John Harbaugh said this wasn't the first time he's thrown out a player, and it likely won't be the last.

"It happens every year," John Harbaugh said. "If it only happens once, it'll be a record."

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