NFL Nation: Lardarius Webb

It was expected to see many of the Baltimore Ravens take a tumble in ESPN.com's player rankings. That's what happens when a team goes from being Super Bowl champions to finishing 8-8.

The Ravens placed four players in the ranking of the 71st to 80th-best players on offense and defense. Three of them -- quarterback Joe Flacco, cornerback Lardarius Webb and wide receiver Torrey Smith -- fell an average of 25 spots.

Let's take a look at where the four Ravens players landed in the rankings ....

OFFENSE

80. Joe Flacco, quarterback: His free-fall of 40 spots is no surprise. Flacco was the reigning Super Bowl Most Valuable Player last year, and he's coming off a season in which he was picked off 22 times. To be honest, I didn't expect him to make the top 100 list. Flacco, however, was ranked No. 1 on a recent ranking of the Ravens' players by local media.

78. Marshal Yanda, guard: This ranking is way too low for Yanda. He's one of the best guards in the NFL, and ESPN.com's rankings has him behind guards Ben Grubbs and Josh Sitton. At least Yanda was ranked this year. It's crazy that he was left off the list in 2013.

74. Torrey Smith, wide receiver: This is a little higher than where I thought Smith would land. He's one of the best deep threats in the game, but he struggles with consistency. There shouldn't be a 23-spot gap between Torrey Smith and Steve Smith, who is ranked No. 97.

DEFENSE

75. Lardarius Webb, cornerback: He dropped 25 spots from a year ago. Webb is one of the better all-around corners in the game, and he doesn't get enough credit for his physical run support despite only being 5-foot-10, 182 pounds. If he stays healthy, Webb will bounce back into the top 50 next year.
OWINGS MILLS, Md. -- Baltimore Ravens cornerback Jimmy Smith was absent during the media viewing portion of Monday's practice.

Smith

Smith bruised his chest after jumping up for a pass intended for wide receiver Dez Bryant and landing on his back in the opening drive of Saturday's preseason game at the Dallas Cowboys. Smith's head also bounced hard off the turf. He was seen spitting blood on the field, and he was reportedly also doing so in the locker room after the game.

X-rays to Smith's chest were negative, and he didn't return to the game. Ravens coach John Harbaugh downplayed the severity of the injury, but Smith expressed more concern, saying he couldn't remember parts of the game.

Running back Ray Rice was participating in individual drills after injuring his shoulder in the second quarter Saturday. Tight end Owen Daniels was not on the field after sitting out Saturday's preseason game. Harbaugh has said Daniels isn't injured and is resting his legs.

Other Ravens not practicing Monday: cornerbacks Lardarius Webb (back) and Asa Jackson (ankle), offensive tackle Brett Van Sloten (undisclosed), guard Will Rackley (head) and nose tackle Terrence Cody (hip, physically unable to perform list).
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.
OWINGS MILLS, Md. -- Baltimore Ravens cornerback Lardarius Webb won't play in the first two preseason games because of a lingering back injury, coach John Harbaugh said Saturday.

Webb
"Maybe he'll play in the third [preseason game], maybe not," Harbaugh said. "It's really not that important for him. I want to get him right."

Webb, 28, has missed the past seven practices because of this back issue. A three-year starter, Webb led the Ravens with a career-high 22 passes defensed last season.

Webb's injury hurts what is already the thinnest position on the team. Without Webb, the Ravens have rotated Chykie Brown and Asa Jackson with the first-team defense.

Webb, who started all 16 games last season, is also dealing with scar tissue from offseason sports hernia surgery. By the way Harbaugh described Webb's back injury, it doesn't sound like the six-year cornerback is in jeopardy of missing the regular-season opener, which is 36 days away.

"There are things going on in there that aren't long-term things," Harbaugh said. "This early part of camp, I just don't want to put him through this with his back. I would rather keep him out of this first part of training camp and see how it feels more toward the end of camp."

The Ravens' first two preseason games are against the San Francisco 49ers (Aug. 7) and at the Dallas Cowboys (Aug. 16). Their third one is at home against the Washington Redskins (Aug. 23).

Ravens Camp Report: Day 2

July, 25, 2014
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OWINGS MILLS, Md. -- A daily look at what happened at Baltimore Ravens training camp:
  • It was an extremely sloppy day, especially on offense. There were drops, false starts and even a fumbled exchange between quarterback Joe Flacco and center Jeremy Zuttah. Flacco and coach John Harbaugh each vented their frustration during practice. It's rare to see Flacco voice his displeasure.
  • The best players on Friday were running back Bernard Pierce and defensive tackle Timmy Jernigan. Pierce, who was limited all offseason after having offseason shoulder surgery, eluded defenders between the tackles. This is a good sign for the Ravens, who will likely turn to Pierce to fill in for Ray Rice during the running back's two-game suspension. Jernigan, the rookie second-round pick, spent a lot of the workout in the Ravens' backfield. He repeatedly beat guard Ryan Jensen and pressured Flacco.
  • It's never a good thing when the best part of the offense was the cadence. Flacco drew the defense offside three times. He got defensive tackle Haloti Ngata to jump on consecutive plays.
  • Justin Tucker missed a kick that was inside 40 yards. This usually doesn't merit a note, except for the fact that this is the first time he's failed to convert a kick this offseason (or at least during the practices that the media is allowed to watch).
  • Schedule: The Ravens have their first full-contract practice on Saturday. The three-hour workout begins at 1 p.m. All three coordinators -- offensive coordinator Gary Kubiak, defensive coordinator Dean Pees and special-teams coordinator Jerry Rosburg -- are scheduled to speak to the media following practice.
  • Injury wire: CB Lardarius Webb walked off the field with a minor back injury and didn't return. ... CB Aaron Ross was officially placed on injured reserve. The Ravens signed FS Will Hill, the former Giants free safety who is currently suspended for six games this season. ... CB Dominique Franks (failed conditioning test) remains on the non-football injury list. ... NT Terrence Cody (hip) is on the physically unable to perform (PUP) list. ... G Will Rackley (undisclosed) didn't practice.

Ravens Camp Report: Day 1

July, 24, 2014
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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.
When the calendar hits June 1, it usually means the Baltimore Ravens are preparing to making one additional move.

This is a significant date because any free-agent signing past it doesn't count against a team's compensatory picks. The Ravens love their extra picks, and they're officially in line for three in the 2015 draft after losing four unrestricted free agents and signing one.

Baltimore has had some moderate success with its June signings. The Ravens landed inside linebacker Daryl Smith, who became one of their best defensive players last season, on June 5 of last year. They signed guard Bobbie Williams, who started six games during their Super Bowl season, in 2012, and added kicker Shayne Graham in 2010.

Will this June trend continue for the Ravens?

"We’re aware of the guys that are still out there, free agents that would be more favorable to sign after June 1 and all that," coach John Harbaugh said. "We’re going to be watching the waiver wire real close. We’re going to try and get better. We had a conversation, Ozzie [Newsome] and I, and I like to think on principle that we really believe this: We want to build as strong of a 53-man roster as we possibly can, and as we do that, try to get stronger every chance we can get. We’ll be looking.”

The two biggest positions of need for the Ravens are offensive tackle and cornerback.

There has been a lot of speculation about the Ravens signing offensive tackle Eric Winston. It makes sense because Winston played six seasons under Gary Kubiak, who is now the Ravens' offensive coordinator, and fits in the zone-blocking scheme. But, based on what the Ravens are saying, the team wants to see what Rick Wagner can do at right tackle before adding a veteran like Winston. There is also no guarantee that Winston, at the age of 30, is that much of an upgrade over what the Ravens already have.

The same argument could be made at cornerback, where the Ravens have two unproven defenders (Chykie Brown and Asa Jackson) battling for the No. 3 spot. The Ravens didn't sign or draft a cornerback after losing Corey Graham in free agency.

"Ozzie knows he has two great, young guys that are coming up," cornerback Lardarius Webb said. "You’ve got Asa Jackson who can play the nickel and outside, but mostly better inside. And Chykie Brown has been playing good. He’s had his chance to get out on the field, but now he gets thrown in, and it’s his. He’s going to get to show you all what he’s capable of."
The top cornerbacks available are: Terrell Thomas, Drayton Florence, Asante Samuel and Dunta Robinson. Thomas is 29 and has dealt with multiple knee surgeries while with the New York Giants. Samuel, 33, was relegated to being a backup at the end of last season for the Atlanta Falcons, and Robinson, 32, lost his nickelback job to a rookie last season with the Kansas City Chiefs. The best of this group seems to be Florence, a journeyman 33-year-old defender who started five games last season for the Carolina Panthers.

Considering these options, the Ravens may wait to add a veteran cornerback at the end of the preseason, when the final major cutdown is made and a more viable defender hits the market. With only four corners with NFL experience, the Ravens will have to either sign a veteran corner or keep an undrafted rookie.
There was a time when the Baltimore Ravens built their teams by almost exclusively taking players from big programs like Miami, Arizona State and Alabama. These days, their starting quarterback is from Delaware and the second-highest paid player on the team is from Nicholls State.

Lardarius Webb
AP Photo/Paul SpinelliLardarius Webb is one example of the Ravens finding success within the ranks of the smaller schools.
The Ravens take pride in finding big-time players from small schools. In this week's draft, no one should be surprised if the Ravens select players from Towson, North Dakota State or Lindenwood. For the record, the Division II Lions of Lindenwood play in Saint Charles, Mo.

In the last two drafts, seven of the 18 players taken by the Ravens have come from programs below the Division I FBS (formerly I-A) level. Defensive tackle Brandon Williams, a 2013 third-round pick from Missouri Southern, could join quarterback Joe Flacco and cornerback Lardarius Webb as another small-school starter for the Ravens. Asa Jackson, a 2012 fifth-round pick out of Cal Poly, has a chance to be the team's third cornerback.

"We believe in it," said Eric DeCosta, the Ravens' assistant general manager. "We look at all players across the board, regardless of level of competition, division or conference, and pick the best players.”

The Ravens have been linked to small-school prospects this year. They had a pre-draft visits with Eastern Illinois quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo and Towson running back Terrance West. There's a chance that the Ravens, who need help on the offensive line and secondary, could take North Dakota State offensive tackle Billy Turner or Lindenwood cornerback Pierre Desir somewhere around the third round.

Ravens officials believe their success with small-school players comes from the fact that they put in the same amount of work as they do with big schools. Their scouts go to the schools and get to know the coaches.

"Obviously, the biggest challenge would be level of competition," DeCosta said. "How does that player play? How is he going to play against better players? Is he going to be able to adjust? All-Star games are a nice way of seeing that play out, so we get the chance to see a d-school guy at the Senior Bowl, you get a chance to see him at the combine to compare against the big-school guys. That's always a big challenge."

The Ravens have missed on small-school prospects, too. David Pittman, a 2006 third-round cornerback out of Northwestern State, started one game, and Christian Thompson, a 2012 fourth-round safety from South Carolina State, didn't last two full seasons.

But the Ravens' success rate with small-school prospects is similar to what they have with players from major programs. In some instances, the Ravens see a faster rate of growth with players from smaller schools.

"At small schools, sometimes they don't have the luxury of having a nice weight room, nutritional programs or support staff," DeCosta said. "We feel like sometimes these guys come into our facility, our building, with our coaches and our doctors and trainers, and get better quickly because they have the advantage of all these new things."
The Washington Redskins' defense is optimistic about where it's headed, thanks to the addition of Jason Hatcher and a tweaked philosophy regarding the pass rush. Whether their play matches that optimism always remains the biggest hurdle. What's not in doubt: They will have two players among the most expensive at their positions when it comes to the salary cap. The fact both are in their front seven isn't a coincidence as the Redskins' offseason goal has been to improve the pass rush. So, after breaking down where the Redskins' top cap hits at each position offensively stood in comparison to their NFL counterparts earlier this week, it's time to take a look at the defense.

Safety

NFL's top five cap hits
Eric Berry, Kansas City Chiefs $11,619,700
Eric Weddle, San Diego Chargers, $10,100,000
Antrel Rolle, New York Giants, $9,250,000
Dashon Goldson, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, $9,000,000
Michael Griffin, Tennessee Titans, $8,000,000

Meriweather
Redskins' top cap hit
Brandon Meriweather (59th), $1,000,000

Summing it up: Notice who’s not in the top five? Jairus Byrd, after his new deal with New Orleans. But don’t worry: He’s set to take up the most cap room in 2015 at $10.3 million. I like Byrd, but not at that figure (I’d have paid Sean Taylor that sort of cash). But Byrd was never really a legitimate option for the Redskins. Mike Mitchell was and he’ll count $2.2 million this season and $4.95 million in 2015. But the overriding point is Washington views the best way to help this position is by bolstering the pass rush. Starters Meriweather and Ryan Clark both are on one-year contracts, so this position is still a question mark beyond this season (and still will be one entering the year).

Corner

NFL's top five cap hits
Brandon Carr, Dallas, $12,217,000
Johnathan Joseph, Houston, $11,250,000
Lardarius Webb, Baltimore, $10,500,000
Brandon Flowers, Kansas City, $10,500,000
Tramon Williams, Green Bay, $9,500,000

Porter
Redskins' top cap hit
Tracy Porter (43rd), $2,800,000

Summing it up: Next season, Darrelle Revis' cap hit jumps to $25 million. Which means he’s playing on a one-year deal. Is it a good thing the Redskins’ biggest cap hit here belongs to Porter, who has battled injury issues along with consistency during his career? Of course, it’s not like he occupies a lot of space. DeAngelo Hall's cap hit is $2,062,500 but that jumps to $4,812,500 in 2015. By then the Redskins need young corner David Amerson to have fully emerged -- can he become their best corner? If not, then they’ll have to start looking for a No. 1 corner. By the way, the top five on the list for 2014? They’ve combined for four Pro Bowl appearances and one All-Pro spot (Joseph). But Carr did do a good job vs. Washington last year (and in at least one game against then-Eagles receiver DeSean Jackson).

Linebacker

NFL's top five cap hits
Lawrence Timmons, $11,816,250
Tamba Hali, Kansas City, $11,464,706
Brian Orakpo, Washington, $11,455,000
Clay Matthews, Green Bay, $10,943,750
James Laurinaitis, St. Louis, $10,400,000

Orakpo
Redskins' top cap hit
Orakpo

Summing it up: That’s quite a list for Orakpo to be part of, but to stay on there after this season -- at least in Washington -- he’ll have to be a little more productive. But even if he has another season like last year, Orakpo will still be in the $10-million range. When Hali got paid, he responded with sack totals of 12, nine and 11 in the next three seasons (with nine forced fumbles and one interception). I don’t think anyone says Hali's overpaid (well, at least not many). In Orakpo’s last three full seasons, he has a combined 27.5 sacks, but only four forced fumbles. More game-changing plays and he’ll get the contract he desires. Another interesting part on this is that two of the five are inside linebackers, though Timmons plays in a 3-4 and Laurinaitis in a 4-3.

Defensive tackle

NFL's top five cap hits
Ndamukong Suh, Detroit, $22,412,000
Haloti Ngata, Baltimore, $16,000,000
Gerald McCoy, Tampa Bay, $15,627,253
Geno Atkins, Cincinnati, $9,000,000
Barry Cofield, Washington, $7,667,500

Cofield
Redskins' top cap hit
Cofield

Summing it up: Cofield’s base salary jumped from $840,000 last season to $4.55 million (the lower figure was the result of a restructuring last spring in which $3.5 million in base salary was converted to a signing bonus). This is as high as Cofield’s cap number will be and in two years it falls to $6,877,500. I know the coaches felt he would become the NFL’s top nose tackle by this time. That’s not the case, but Cofield does have his strengths and has done a nice job with Washington. For a short stretch last season he was playing as well as anyone on the team defensively, and he always plays hard. He’ll be helped by having Hatcher in the pass rush, perhaps giving Cofield more one-on-one matchups. If that happens, then perhaps Cofield will have the sort of season in all phases that coaches have hoped for.

Defensive end

NFL's top five cap hits
Mario Williams, Buffalo, $18,800,000
Charles Johnson, Carolina, $16,420,000
Chris Long, St. Louis, $14,900,000
Greg Hardy, Carolina, $13,116,000
Calais Campbell , Arizona, $11,250,000

Bowen
Redskins' top cap hit
Stephen Bowen (15th), $7,020,000

Summing it up: All of the top five on this list play in a 4-3, where ends can excel as playmakers and, therefore, command big bucks. The 3-4 ends, typically, are not -- with some exceptions. Bowen has not been a playmaker, though for a while he was an effective player both against the run and as a rusher. However, he has just one sack since the 2011 season (26 games). And after microfracture surgery and being 30, I wonder about the level at which he’ll be able to play. Multiple Redskins sources said they still expect him to be in the Redskins' plans, but will it be at this cap figure? That's a big hit for someone in his situation. If Bowen returns healthy and plays well, the Redskins will greatly benefit. If not? That's a lot of cap room to occupy. One more note: Johnson and Hardy combine for approximately 23 percent of Carolina's cap.
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
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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.

LAKE FOREST, Ill. -- Chicago Bears receiver Brandon Marshall learned the hard way about underestimating players based on size the first time he faced Baltimore Ravens cornerback Lardarius Webb.

In 2009, his final season with Denver, Marshall matched up against Webb, and the cornerback essentially shut him down, limiting the receiver to four catches for 24 yards. Marshall now admits he “wasn’t prepared” for the type of fight he’d get from the diminutive Webb, who is listed at 5-foot-10 and 182 pounds.

Webb
Marshall
“He pretty much dominated me,” Marshall said. “You look on a piece of paper, and you see that he’s a fairly small guy compared to other guys around the league. But he’s probably one of the strongest corners I’ve ever faced.”

The next time Marshall, who is 6-4 and 230 pounds, faced Webb was in 2010, when Marshall was with Miami. Marshall caught just five passes for 30 yards -- with the bulk of that coming on one 21-yard reception -- and Webb had an interception.

Marshall thinks Webb is beginning to regain his form as one of the NFL’s top corners. Before Webb tore his left ACL last October, Marshall considered him the second-best player at his position, behind only Tampa Bay’s Darrelle Revis. In Baltimore’s win over Cincinnati last Sunday, Webb was targeted in coverage 12 times and allowed four catches for 58 yards.

“He’s playing at a really high level. Now you’re starting to see him as the season goes really getting back to that form,” Marshall said. “He’s a difficult opponent. I have a lot of respect for the guy. The last thing I remember is him dominating me a little bit and talking trash, and [I was like] ‘Man, that sucks.’ Now I get another opportunity to play against him. It’s gonna be tough. He’s a technician, he’s athletic, and he makes plays.”

Asked what took place the last time he squared off with Webb, Marshall said “he pressed me up and my releases [weren’t] good,” which “threw off the timing.”

“He was all over me,” Marshall said. “I didn’t much separation.”

Marshall currently ranks ninth in the NFL with 786 receiving yards and has eight touchdowns. His plan for Sunday against Webb is to try some different tactics to break free.

“It’s one of those things where this guy is so strong that it’s not always about being physical with him,” Marshall said. “You may have to finesse it a little bit and change up your approach. He’s one of those guys that you really have to study.”

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.
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).

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