Baltimore Ravens: Lardarius Webb

Webb
Cornerback Lardarius Webb, who had anterior cruciate ligament surgery on his left knee in 2012, told The Baltimore Sun that he feels fine now.

"By the end of the year, my knee was feeling a lot better," Webb said. "I was able to run and cut and do everything I wanted to do. I had so much more confidence and trust in the knee."

After an up-and-down 2013 season, Webb has to prove he's a top-notch cornerback in this league. His salary cap increases to $11 million in 2015, and the Ravens could save $4 million by cutting him. Webb's play will dictate what the Ravens do with the 28-year-old defender.

Here's the rest of your wake-up caw ...
  • John Eisenberg, of the team's official website, is now thinking the Ravens could take a defensive player in the first round. "If they were to land a safety, that would mean they had spent three first-round picks on the secondary in the past four years, quite a concentration in one area," Eisenberg wrote. "But with so many teams throwing the ball more than ever, stocking up on quality pass defenders is hardly the worst idea. I can think of another team that did it recently -- the Seattle Seahawks. They did OK."
  • Clifton Brown, of Comcast SportsNet, believes wide receiver Marlon Brown will avoid a sophomore slump. "Brown exceeded expectations last season, but his career has just begun," Clifton Brown wrote. "Brown earned his playing time last season. Expect him to return hungry for more."
  • Running back Terrance West, a Baltimore native who played at Towson University, posted on Twitter that he's working out for the Ravens on Monday morning. West is projected to go in the third round. The Ravens, who are looking to add young depth at running back, are expected to take a running back in this year's draft.
It's time to click open our Baltimore Ravens' Twitter mailbag ...

 
Free safety isn't the only need in the Baltimore Ravens secondary. With cornerback Corey Graham signing a four-year, $16 million contract with the Buffalo Bills on Wednesday, the Ravens have to figure out who is going to be their nickel back.

Graham is an underrated defender and special teams player -- even a starter for Baltimore in the Super Bowl -- but you can't fault the Ravens for not matching a deal that averages $4 million per year. Good player, bad price.

Right now, Chykie Brown would be the favorite, although Asa Jackson would compete for the job. Both are big question marks. No one knows if either one can succeed or fail. There's just not enough body of work to determine it. Last season, Brown played 38 snaps on defense and Jackson didn't see one play on defense.

With so many teams using three wide receivers these days, Graham's job is an important one because he had almost as much playing time as a starter. He also would step into the starting lineup if either Jimmy Smith or Lardarius Webb got injured.

Unlike the free safety position, which the Ravens need to fill in free agency, the team can address nickel back in the draft. The Ravens could use a third-round pick on a cornerback, who could play nickel back as a rookie and possibly move into a starting role in 2015.

Webb has an $11 million cap number in 2015, and the Ravens could create $4 million if they cut him. That's why it is a big year for Webb.

So, whoever replaces Graham and plays nickel back for the Ravens this season could become a starter the next year.
Outside linebacker Terrell Suggs was the NFL Defensive Player of the Year in 2011. Two seasons later, readers of the Ravens blog want him to take a pay cut.

Suggs
According to a SportsNation poll, 41 percent of voters believe Suggs should be the first player to reduce his salary. Suggs is scheduled to make $7.8 million in 2014, the final year of his contract.

Defensive tackle Haloti Ngata finished second on the poll with 30 percent and running back Ray Rice was third with 20 percent. Trailing far behind them were cornerback Lardarius Webb (7 percent) and guard Marshal Yanda (2 percent).

Here are selected comments from readers:

Chris (Winston-Salem, N.C.): In all honestly, both Suggs and Ngata should be taking pay cuts to pad the salary cap number. Neither of them lived up to their financial number this season. However, I voted for Suggs because Ngata's lackluster numbers could be attributed to attracting more blockers freeing up Suggs and Elvis Dumervil to put pressure on the opposing team's quarterback.

CJ (Sykesville, Md.): My vote would be for Suggs. He is great when he's hot but conditioning proved to be an issue again. Pass rushers fetch a good payday in free agency, but other teams may be hesitant. Given that he's on his last contract year, he may also be more amenable to a re-work than Webb or Rice.

Patrick (Putnam Valley, N.Y.): T-Suggs should take a pay cut! The second half of the season he looked more like T-Sluggs. He was slow and pretty much a non-factor. And he's only getting older.

Jimmy (Baltimore): You would have to ask Webb to take a pay cut. He can't be the highest-paid defensive back on the team and a No. 2 cornerback. Jimmy Smith is way better this year, and Webb at times looked like he had no idea what was going on. Oh did I mention Cleveland game? Yeah, I rest my case.

Marco (Fort Worth, Tex.): As crazy as it sounds, Ngata should be the one to take a pay cut. The star defensive lineman has not been a consistent playmaker for back to back seasons, which could be a sign of concern.

Jason (Kailua Kona, Hawaii): Ray Rice is the problem, not the line. If you watch, Rice will get the ball and juke a little. But when defenders are there, he doesn't try to push through. He just dives down.

Chris (Abington, Md.): Ngata with only 1.5 sacks? C'mon man! The middle of the defense was extremely porous during the last few games. I understand his knee was banged up but he's getting older. He's gotta take a pay cut.
Six players for the Baltimore Ravens -- defensive tackle Haloti Ngata, quarterback Joe Flacco, linebacker Terrell Suggs, cornerback Lardarius Webb, running back Ray Rice and guard Marshal Yanda -- account for 55 percent ($70.9 million) of the team's salary cap for 2014.

The Ravens could approach players about taking a pay cut or extending contracts to lessen their salary-cap hit. Which player is the most deserving of a pay cut?
    SportsNation

    Who should be the first Ravens player approached about taking a pay cut?

    •  
      30%
    •  
      42%
    •  
      7%
    •  
      2%
    •  
      19%

    Discuss (Total votes: 1,316)

  • Ngata has the Ravens' highest salary for 2014 at $8.5 million. He finished strong with 18 tackles in his final three games, but he wasn't a playmaker for the second straight season. His 1.5 sacks were his fewest since 2009.
  • Suggs is scheduled to make $7.8 million in 2014, the final year of his contract. He looked like he was on his way to another Defensive Player of the Year award when he recorded nine sacks in his first eight games. But Suggs disappeared in the second half of the season with 20 tackles and one sack in his final eight games.
  • Webb's salary spiked from $2.3 million last season to $7.5 million in 2014. He led the Ravens with 23 passes defensed, but Jimmy Smith surpassed him as the No. 1 corner on the team. Coming back from a season-ending knee injury, Webb finished with a career-best 74 tackles and made two interceptions.
  • Yanda is the Ravens' highest-paid offensive lineman at $5.5 million and remained the Ravens' most consistent blocker. It just wasn't one of his strongest seasons. He was the team's fourth most-penalized player (seven) and led the Ravens with five false starts. Yanda, who had offseason shoulder sugary, had a much stronger second half of the season.
  • Rice is scheduled to make $4 million after a career-worst season. He managed 660 yards rushing, the first time he failed to gain at least 1,100 yards on the ground in his five years as the Ravens' featured back. His 3.1 yards per carry was the third-worst average among starting running backs. Injuries (hip and thigh) and offensive line play were factors in his disappointing season.

After you have voted, explain why you made that decision by dropping me a line in my mailbag. It could be used on the blog later in the week.
Baltimore Ravens offensive coordinator Jim Caldwell is reportedly drawing interest for two head coaching vacancies, the Detroit Lions and Washington Redskins.

Caldwell
Caldwell
A league source told NFL Insider Adam Schefter that Caldwell will interview for the opening in Detroit. John Wooten, the chairman of the Fritz Pollard Alliance Foundation, confirmed to ESPN.com Redskins reporter John Keim that Caldwell will also interview with Washington.

Caldwell's chances of landing the Lions' job increased when Lovie Smith, who drew interest from Detroit, agreed to become the head coach of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Sunday night.

What makes Caldwell attractive to the Lions and Redskins is his extensive background with quarterbacks. Both franchises are looking for their quarterbacks (Matthew Stafford and Robert Griffin III) to take their games to the next level.

What hurts Caldwell is the fact the Ravens finished 29th in offense in his first full season as the play-caller. That wouldn't help anyone's resume.

Caldwell could consider returning to the college ranks. His name has been linked to Penn State, which is looking for a new head coach after Bill O'Brien was hired by the Houston Texans. Caldwell coaches eight seasons at Wake Forest (1993-2000) and has ties with Penn State, where he was the quarterbacks coach from 1986-92.

If Caldwell leaves, the Ravens and Joe Flacco would enter 2014 with their third offensive coordinator in three seasons.

Here's the rest of your wake-up caw ...
  • John Eisenberg, of the team's official website, thinks the Ravens have earned some slack. "Big picture, the Ravens followed up five winning campaigns with their version of a dud. That’s a pretty good ratio," Eisenberg wrote. "It’s when you follow up one dud of a season with another that times get tougher, the public begins to seriously question your methodology and your slack begins to run out."
  • The Baltimore Sun's Mike Preston believes that cornerback Lardarius Webb is a candidate to have his contract restructured. Webb is also scheduled to make $7.5 million next season with a cap figure of $10.5 million.
  • Ravens coach John Harbaugh made it clear that he wants left tackle Eugene Monroe to be re-signed in free agency. As The Carroll County (Md.) Times pointed out, Monroe has never been to a Pro Bowl but he is 26 and graded out as one of the top-10 left tackles in the NFL this year. "I don’t think there’s any question that people feel like Eugene Monroe is a long-term answer at left tackle," Harbaugh said. "For a guy coming in when he came in, and to pick up the offense and perform the way he did, it says a lot."
Baltimore Ravens outside linebacker Elvis Dumervil is questionable for Monday night with an ankle injury, but he has a good shot at playing against the Detroit Lions.

Dumervil
Dumervil returned to practice Thursday and Friday, which is an encouraging sign for the Ravens' leader in sacks. He missed his first game since 2011 last Sunday after not practicing the entire week.

Getting back Dumervil is key to a Ravens' pass rush that has gone two games without a sack. He is tied for 12th in the NFL with 9.5 sacks.

Dumervil injured his ankle Nov. 28 in a win against the Pittsburgh Steelers, but returned to finish the game. He described it as "an unusual ankle sprain."

Here is the Ravens' complete injury report:

Questionable: LB Elvis Dumervil (ankle, limited in practice), S Brynden Trawick (ankle, limited in practice).

Probable: CB Lardarius Webb (abs, limited in practice).
OWINGS MILLS, Md. -- As soon as Baltimore Ravens safety Matt Elam described Detroit Lions wide receiver Calvin Johnson as "pretty old," everyone focused on how ticked off that will make the NFL's best receiver.

Elam
There is someone who should be more upset at Elam -- Ravens cornerbacks Jimmy Smith and Lardarius Webb.

Just like Johnson suggested, Elam isn't the one lining up across from Megatron every play. That's the job for Smith and Webb. And it's a job that just got tougher after Elam curiously accused the 28-year-old Johnson as being old when he's actually in his prime.

"I'll show him what that old man's strength about," Johnson said in a conference call Thursday with Baltimore reporters.

Gulp. If I'm Smith or Webb, I went up to Elam this morning, saying, "What were you thinking, rookie?"

Look at Johnson's receiving yards for his past four home games: 115, 329, 115 and 101. Now, Johnson is talking about how he puts all the negative comments in "a box" and uses it for motivation on game days.

Part of the problem is Elam has never faced Johnson on the field. Smith and other Ravens certainly have. It was the 2012 preseason when the Ravens allowed Johnson to catch five passes for 111 yards and one touchdown -- and that was in less than one full half of work.

Elam, a free safety who often lines up 15 yards off the line, won't have to to see Johnson unless, as the receiver puts it, is running past him. This has been a problem for the Ravens, who have allowed a league-worst 16 passes over 40 yards.

How do the Ravens plan to slow down Johnson? Elam alluded to playing press coverage on Johnson because older receivers aren't going to be as physical. Saying Johnson isn't physical is like saying Ndamukong Suh isn't a nasty player.

Jimmy Smith is scheduled to speak to the Baltimore media later Thursday afternoon. My guess is he'll be extremely complimentary of Johnson. It's something Smith wished Elam would have done earlier this week. Monday night just became a lot more challenging for any Ravens cornerback trying to slow down Johnson.
OWINGS MILLS, Md. -- Pro Bowl defensive tackle Haloti Ngata is one of three starters on the Baltimore Ravens' defense listed as questionable for Sunday's game against the New York Jets.

Ngata
Ngata returned to practice Friday after sitting out the past two days with a knee injury. This is an encouraging sign for Ngata, who walked off the practice field without a limp. He hasn't missed back-to-back games since November 2009.

The other Ravens listed as questionable are: linebacker Daryl Smith (thigh) and cornerback Lardarius Webb (abs). They were limited in Friday's practice.

Ngata, Smith and Webb should all be available Sunday.

Here is the Ravens' official injury report:

QUESTIONABLE: DT Haloti Ngata (knee), LB Daryl Smith (thigh) and CB Lardarius Webb (abs).

PROBABLE: WR Marlon Brown (knee) and WR Brandon Stokley (groin).

Double Coverage: Jets at Ravens

November, 22, 2013
11/22/13
10:00
AM ET
Muhammad Wilkerson and Ray RiceGetty ImagesMuhammad Wilkerson's Jets stuff the run, but Ray Rice will be coming off a 131-yard performance.

The Baltimore Ravens play host to the New York Jets in a showdown that has more meaning than another reunion with safety Ed Reed. These teams are battling for the final playoff berth in the AFC, even though neither has a winning record. Welcome to parity in the NFL.

The Jets (5-5) currently hold the second wild-card spot, based on a tiebreaker with Miami. The Ravens and five other teams with 4-6 records are one game behind the Jets in the playoff race.

Here's how ESPN.com Jets reporter Rich Cimini and Ravens reporter Jamison Hensley see this Week 12 matchup unfolding.

Jamison Hensley: The unbelievable stat with Jets quarterback Geno Smith is the 20 turnovers. How much of those interceptions and fumbles can be blamed on him? And, even though he is expected to start, what are the chances he finishes the game?

Rich Cimini: Smith’s 20 turnovers lead the league. If you’re keeping score at home, it’s 16 interceptions and four lost fumbles. I could go on and on with statistical stuff, but the bottom line is he’s making poor decisions. He’s not reading safeties well. He tends to throw late. At times, he "leaves the game plan," according to the coaches -- meaning he forces things, especially late in games. He doesn’t handle adversity well. If he struggles early, there’s a good chance it’ll be a bad game. That said, he’s a rookie with intriguing physical skills. He has a terrific arm. The Jets aren’t ready to write him off, but it’s getting down to crunch time and they can’t survive if the turnovers continue. Matt Simms has finished the past two losses, both blowouts. If Smith is a train wreck in the first half, it wouldn’t shock me if Rex Ryan turns to Simms again.

What’s wrong with Joe Flacco? I mean, 13 interceptions. That’s Geno-like.

Hensley: Rich, that's the most surprising part of Flacco's season. You can debate whether Flacco became an elite quarterback by leading the Ravens to the Super Bowl, but what Flacco has always done since coming into the league in 2008 is protect the ball. He'd never thrown more than 12 interceptions in a season before throwing his 13th this season -- and it's still November. There are a lot of factors for the increase in turnovers, starting with a routinely collapsing pocket, but I don't think he will throw an interception Sunday. Flacco typically plays better at home and has thrown just of his two interceptions at Baltimore's M&T Bank Stadium. Another reason is that the Jets don't pick off passes, at least not this season. Their five interceptions are fewer than all but four teams in the NFL.

Of course, that could change with Reed in the Jets secondary. Reed returns to Baltimore for the second time since leaving the Ravens. He goes to the Jets after being a nonfactor in Houston. After seeing Reed play one game, what kind of an impact might he have with New York? Is the Jets' pass defense still vulnerable?

Cimini: Surprisingly, Reed started in his Jets debut and played 59 of 67 snaps on defense. Playing mostly as the single-high safety, he had no virtually no impact against the Bills. He didn’t make any glaring mistakes, but he also didn’t have any plays on the ball. They had him blitz twice, the first time ending with a long touchdown pass over Dee Milliner in zero coverage. Reed was late in deep coverage on a 43-yard touchdown pass over Antonio Cromartie, but it wasn’t an easy play, as he was coming from the opposite hash. I liked the Reed signing. The price was right and, in time, I think he’ll help with their issues on deep balls. The real problem with the pass defense is the cornerback play. Milliner is experiencing rookie growing pains, and Cromartie is having a disappointing season.

The Ravens are familiar with Jets coach Rex Ryan, who was Baltimore's defensive coordinator from 2005 to 2008. Is there still any carryover from Ryan's days with the Ravens to this season's defense?

Hensley: The tradition of getting after the passer and showing no fear in the red zone remains strong with the Ravens. Like Ryan, defensive coordinator Dean Pees will come after quarterbacks, whether it's with a safety or cornerback Lardarius Webb from the slot. The Ravens have had at least two sacks in 18 straight games, the NFL's second-longest streak since 1990. This defense also is stingy when backed up to its own end zone. The Ravens are the NFL's top-ranked red zone defense, giving up a touchdown just 32.1 percent of the time from inside their own 20-yard line. This is a big advantage for Baltimore because the Jets are tied for 22nd in red zone offense, reaching the end zone just 50 percent of the time.

Going back to Ryan, the Ravens are 2-0 against their former defensive coordinator. How would you evaluate his performance this season?

Cimini: All things considered, I think Ryan is doing a nice job. Despite having a turnover-prone rookie at quarterback, the Jets are still in the thick of the wild-card chase. Sometimes, I wonder how he’s doing it. The Jets have the worst turnover margin in the league (minus-14) and the second-worst points margin (minus-85), yet they’re 5-5. The primary reason is the defense. Ryan lost his best player (Darrelle Revis) and integrated seven new starters -- no easy task. They have the No. 1 run defense in the league, thanks to a young and promising line. I think Ryan needs to win at least two or three more games to keep his job. A win over his old team would really help his cause.

But it’s always tough to knock out the champ. Do you think the Ravens have enough heart to get back in the race and defend their title?

Hensley: Honestly, it's not about heart, because the Ravens play hard. It's more about their ability to weather the storm, which was literally the problem last week with a tornado watch in Chicago. The Ravens have come up short late in games because the other team has been making the plays and the defending champions have not. It's why the Ravens are tied for the league lead with four losses by a field goal or less. They have to figure out a way to put away teams in the fourth quarter. If they don't do that Sunday against the Jets, the Ravens' hopes of repeating will be over.

BALTIMORE -- The Baltimore Ravens weren't clamoring that they're back after beating the Cincinnati Bengals, 20-17, in overtime. They didn't establish themselves as contenders again despite knocking off the AFC North leaders and closing to within 1 1/2 games.

The only resemblance to the Super Bowl team on Sunday was this year's team finally figured out how to survive. With their season looking over after the Hail Mary touchdown at the end of regulation, the Ravens found a way to win, as players and coaches repeatedly said, by any means necessary.

"Obviously, we won, so that was exciting. I don’t know if it was more exciting as it was one of those ones where you go afterwards, ‘Phew, I’m glad we won this one,'" quarterback Joe Flacco said. "Having said that, it is a big win, and you take them no matter how you get them."

It's difficult to believe the Ravens have turned the corner after failing to hold a 17-point lead. It's hard to say the Ravens are back on track after Flacco turned the ball over three times (two interceptions and one fumble) and got out-gained 364-189.

Baltimore (4-5) still has a dysfunctional offense that can't protect Flacco (five sacks) and can't run the ball (average of 2.8 yards per carry). The defense still couldn't get the other team off the field late in the fourth quarter.

There are the same issues that have dogged the Ravens all season. The difference Sunday was the Ravens did enough in overtime to win.

What saved the Ravens' season was their pass rush, kicker and ability to bounce back. This is a Ravens team that had lost four of its past five games by a total of 14 points and struggled to make plays in the end.

So, what was Baltimore thinking on that last-second, 51-yard pass to A.J. Green in the fourth quarter?

“I don’t know if you’re thinking that it’s going to be it for us for the season," Flacco said. "You’re probably not thinking all good thoughts. There are some bad thoughts in there. … Real quickly, you kind of say to yourself, ‘You’ve got to be kidding me. It is not going right. It is just not going right.’ Me and Torrey [Smith] just sat back down on the bench and just looked at each other and said, ‘Wow.’ But then pretty quickly, you get back up, take the field and see what you can do.”

The Bengals (6-4) helped the Ravens all game, whether it was penalties (nine for 134 yards) or Andy Dalton's three interceptions. Cincinnati handed the momentum right back to Baltimore in overtime when it went for it on fourth-and-two from the Ravens' 33-yard line instead of pinning the Ravens deep inside their territory.

When the Ravens stopped the Bengals on a questionable play call -- Dalton threw a swing pass to running back Giovani Bernard -- they only needed 28 yards to get in range for the game-winning field goal.

"I feel like they showed the heart of champions today," coach John Harbaugh said. "Where this leads us, we will find out."

It was more like the heart of survivors. In the Ravens' championship season, Baltimore won six games decided by three points or fewer. Sunday's victory was just the Ravens' second by that margin this year.

The Ravens are right to breathe a sigh of relief more than celebrate. They put themselves back in the AFC North race, but they have to play better if they want to make a statement to the league.

"Oh yes, [the win] can start something, but we can't let this get over our heads, thinking we're something that we're not," cornerback Lardarius Webb said. "We've just got to get back to that film and keep getting better, and better, and better, because we're a great ball club."

Rapid Reaction: Baltimore Ravens

November, 3, 2013
11/03/13
7:38
PM ET

CLEVELAND -- A few thoughts on the Baltimore Ravens' 24-18 loss to the Cleveland Browns.

What it means: The Ravens (3-5) fell into third place in the AFC North and 21/2 games back of Cincinnati. This continues a downward spiral for the Ravens, who lost for the fourth time in five games. It ended the Ravens' 11-game win streak over the Browns, who hadn't beaten Baltimore in 2,177 days (November 2007). The Ravens also lost for the first time after the bye in coach John Harbaugh's six seasons. The Browns (4-5) moved into second place in the division.

Collapsing on Flacco: Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco was off his game, and it could have been the result of the hits inflicted on him. He was sacked five times (tying a season high) and hit a total of eight times. It was rough going for Flacco from the start, when he missed on 10 of his first 15 passes. He finished 24-of-41 for 250 yards and two touchdowns, with one interception.

Stock watch: Rising: Marlon Brown. The rookie wide receiver accounted for 14 points with two touchdowns and a two-point conversion. Undrafted coming out of Georgia, Brown has a team-leading five touchdowns this season.

Major breakdowns: The Ravens gave up three touchdown passes to Jason Campbell after allowing four of them the past six games. Cornerback Lardarius Webb got faked out badly in the open field on Davone Bess' 20-yard touchdown in the second quarter, and no one covered tight end Gary Barnidge on a 4-yard touchdown pass. The secondary couldn't get the opponent off the field late in the fourth quarter for a third straight game.

Costly drop: With the Ravens trailing 14-10 in the third quarter, Tandon Doss let a punt go through his arms, giving the ball to the Browns at the Baltimore 11-yard line. The Browns needed only two plays and a bad penalty by the Ravens (12 men on the field) to get into the end zone. Doss was the NFL's second-best punt returner entering this game.

What's next: The Ravens play their first home game since Oct. 13 when they host the AFC North-leading Bengals. Baltimore has beaten Cincinnati the past three times at M&T Bank Stadium, but streaks don't seem to matter much when it comes to the Ravens this season.
Teams are testing Baltimore Ravens cornerback Lardarius Webb more this season, and they're having success doing so.

Webb has been targeted 40 times through six games, an average of 6.7 times per contest -- his highest mark in three seasons, according to Pro Football Focus. He's allowed 62.5 percent of the passes at him to be completed, which is more than Jimmy Smith (53.7 percent), the team's other starting cornerback, has given up.

Last season, Webb was the Ravens' top cornerback. Now, a year removed from ACL surgery, Webb is going to have to prove he can still play at that level. Webb got beat for a 64-yard touchdown last Sunday, and he wants quarterbacks to keep throwing in his direction.

"I'm baiting them. I'm baiting them to come," Webb said, via Mid-Atlantic Sports Network. I guess they see a couple games where some guys are getting some catches, so continue to come. I'm ready to take the challenge."

Here is the rest of your wake-up caw ...

Pro Bowl fullback Vonta Leach is taking the Ravens' struggles in the ground game "personally" but he is confident that it will improve. "We’ve just got some struggles right now," Leach told Comcast SportsNet. "It’s a work in progress. But in order for us to go where we want to go, and get where we want to get, we’ve got to get it going.”

Sam Koch had only two of his 558 punts blocked from 2006 to 2012, according to The Baltimore Sun. He's now had two punts blocked in six games this season. "Obviously, it’s something that just cannot happen,” special-teams coordinator Jerry Rosburg said. “It’s too vital of a play in football for us to allow it to happen, and we’ll continue to address it. The reason we practice every camp practice with punt and every [organized team activity] practice with punt and every minicamp practice with punt is because it’s so important. And we need to fix it.” Reserve safety Anthony Levine took the blame for the blocked punt.

The Ravens have tried to remain unpredictable on first down this season, running the ball on 52.5 percent (93 of 177) of the time, according to the team's official website. “You’d like to try to be balanced so that you don’t have too many things in terms of tendencies that they can game plan against,” offensive coordinator Jim Caldwell said. “But that’s not the end-all, be-all in that situation because of the fact that most good teams have some sort of tendencies because they do some things extremely well and they don’t care if you know it or not.”

The Baltimore Sun's Mike Preston thinks the Ravens need to ditch the zone-blocking scheme. "That finesse style doesn't fit the Ravens," Preston wrote. "The offensive line is a bunch of maulers. They want to attack and get on defensive players early instead of waiting and allowing them to penetrate. In layman's terms, the Ravens want to go back to being the hammer instead of the nail."
Baltimore Ravens starting defensive lineman Chris Canty returned to have a full practice Thursday after sitting out the day before. He is dealing with a groin injury.

Canty
That means inside linebacker Josh Bynes (finger, thigh) was the only starter who didn't practice Thursday. Wide receiver Brandon Stokley (groin) missed practice after having a full participation the previous day.

Defensive tackle Haloti Ngata (elbow) and cornerback Lardarius Webb (hamstring) were limited for a second straight day.

Inside linebacker Jameel McClain, who remains on the physically unable to perform list, had his second full practice. Before this week, he hadn't practiced for the Ravens since suffering a spinal-cord contusion 10 months ago.

Is there a possibility McClain could play Sunday?

“I’d hate to speculate, because again, I don’t want to say yes, don’t want to say no, and then I’m wrong," defensive coordinator Dean Pees said. "So, I don’t know. We’ll take it day-to-day. We’ll see how it goes. That’s a decision for better minds to make than me.”

Here's the Ravens' complete injury report:

Did not practice: LB Josh Bynes (thigh, finger), WR Brandon Stokley (groin) and LB Albert McClellan (shoulder).

Limited participation: CB Chykie Brown (thigh), DT Terrence Cody (knee), C Ryan Jensen (foot), DT Haloti Ngata (elbow), LB Courtney Upshaw (foot), CB Lardarius Webb (hamstring).

Full participation: DL Chris Canty (groin), LB Jameel McClain (neck), DT Marcus Spears (knee).
If you want a full transcript of this week's Baltimore Ravens' chat, you can click right here. If you want some highlights, simply continue reading.

Peter (New Orleans): Now that we have a relatively healthy receiving corps, how do we get the most out of it?

Jamison Hensley (ESPN): I would like to see the Ravens spread out teams more with Torrey Smith, Marlon Brown, Jacoby Jones and maybe even Deonte Thompson. They're playing better than the Ravens' tight ends and fullback Vonta Leach. [John] Harbaugh has always stressed that you play your best 11 players. In my opinion, the best 11 include more receivers.

PJ (Midlo): Disappointing loss to Green Bay with all their injuries during the game. While I am a proponent of balance in the offense, does the Raven running game seem too predictable in where they run and how they run? Never any deception or unusual formations, etc. Just no imagination.

Jamison Hensley (ESPN): I would like to see the Ravens use more three or four wide receiver formations and take Vonta Leach off the field. I know that doesn't sound like a good solution for the running game. But the Packers spread out the Ravens and were able to get some big yards on the ground because it forces the opposition to use more nickel defense.

Emil (mobile): What are the chances the ravens fire run game coordinator Juan Castillo after this season if they keep producing this way?

Jamison Hensley (ESPN): Harbaugh and Juan Castillo are good friends. It's going to take one bad year for the Ravens to make a move with him. You have to wonder if there are too many opinions being expressed in the offensive game plan sessions.

Isaac (Cleveland, OH): Besides the run game, what is one thing you're keeping an eye on this Sunday for the Ravens to come out with their fourth straight win at Heinz Field?

Jamison Hensley (ESPN): More turnovers from the defense. I wouldn't be surprised if Lardarius Webb gets an interception Sunday.

Matthew (London): Expecting a big game from Torrey Smith on Sunday?

Jamison Hensley (ESPN): I expected a big game from Torrey Smith against the Packers. So you're probably asking the wrong guy. The Ravens will take some shots deep against the Steelers, and Smith is the team's best downfield threat. It would be a mistake to ignore Smith for a second straight week.

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