NFL Nation: Tandon Doss

Examining the Jacksonville Jaguars' roster:

QUARTERBACKS (3)
General manager David Caldwell has said he likes to keep three quarterbacks, which means all three will have to be on the active roster, because Stanzi is ineligible for the practice squad. Stanzi should start the season as the No. 2 because he’s more ready to play than Bortles, but that will likely flip-flop at some point. Stephen Morris is a practice squad candidate.

RUNNING BACKS (5)

If the Jags elect to keep only four backs, Todman and Johnson likely would battle for the final spot. That is assuming Robinson continues to be very good in camp. He might end up getting more playing time than any of the other backs after Gerhart if he shows he can be a reliable pass-catcher. Johnson has to prove he can pass block and doesn’t have problems with ball security.

RECEVIERS (6)

The first four players should be locks, but it will be an interesting competition for the final two spots among Brown, Taylor, free-agent signee Tandon Doss, undrafted rookie Allen Hurns, and former practice-squad player Chad Bumphis. Doss missed most of the organized team activities and minicamp because of a calf injury, allowing Taylor, Bumphis and Hurns to get valuable reps. Doss was not a consistent receiver in his three seasons in Baltimore and has more value as a returner, but Sanders’ strength is as a punt returner and the Jags have other options at kickoff returner. I have Taylor narrowly beating out Hurns because of his experience, but I can easily see that being flipped if the Jags want to add more size. Hurns is 6-foot-3; Taylor is 6-0.

TIGHT ENDS (3)

Jensen flashed during OTAs and gets the edge over three other players. He’s a big kid (6-6, 270) who is a raw version of Lewis, one of the league’s best blocking tight ends. Jensen will need a year or two to develop and likely will be used as an extra blocker more than a pass-catcher.

OFFENSIVE LINEMEN (8)

Some of the battles for starting jobs along the line are going to be intriguing during camp. Joeckel and Beadles are safe, but every other spot is up for grabs. Even Pasztor, who started 12 games last season, is uncertain because we don’t know how his surgically repaired shoulder will hold up during camp. If it’s fine, then he will win the starting job at right tackle. McClendon and Linder are battling for the right guard spot, and Brewster is going to have to hold off Bowanko and two others to be the starter at center. Bradfield has value because he can play both tackle spots.

DEFENSIVE LINE (10)

This should be the biggest upgraded position on the roster thanks to the additions of Clemons, Bryant and Hood. Despite public perception, Alualu isn’t on the bubble for two reasons: He played solidly last season, and there really isn’t anyone else on the roster as talented as he is to back up Bryant. The Jags are excited about Smith, who could end up playing more than Davis as the No. 3 LEO (hybrid end/linebacker) by the time the season is over.

LINEBACKERS (6)

Either John Lotulelei or J.T. Thomas, two key special teams players last season, could stick if the Jaguars decide to keep an extra linebacker instead of five cornerbacks, or if Hayes’ surgically repaired knee doesn’t respond well. Reynolds did a solid job subbing for Watson (groin) during OTAs and minicamp at the new OTTO position (replaces strongside linebacker).

CORNERBACKS (5)

The Jags will have to decide whether to keep fourth-year player Mike Harris or Jeremy Harris, a seventh-round pick in 2013 who spent his rookie season on injured reserve with a back injury. The 6-2, 185-pound Jeremy Harris is a better fit for what coach Gus Bradley wants in his cornerbacks than the 5-10, 188-pound Mike Harris, who was a member of former GM Gene Smith’s final draft class. Blackmon has been working inside as well, which also makes Mike Harris expendable. Fourth-round draft pick Aaron Colvin will begin the season on the PUP list and doesn't count against the roster limit.

SAFETIES (4)
Chris Prosinski has seemingly been a bubble player since he was drafted in the fourth round in 2011, but there is too much competition for him to survive this time. Martin started 36 games for Carolina in his first five seasons, and that experience gives him the edge. Evans seems to be the name everyone mentions when talking about the first Caldwell draft pick to get cut, but though he might lose his starting job to Guy, he’s likely to stick around at least another year.

SPECIALISTS (3)

These guys should have little or no competition to make the roster.
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- One of the expected battles of training camp has already started to play out for the Jacksonville Jaguars in the first week of OTAs.

Seven players are fighting for two remaining spots at receiver behind Cecil Shorts, Ace Sanders, Marqise Lee and Allen Robinson. There are guys who were on the team last season, some practice squad guys, a veteran free-agent signing, and some undrafted free agents all trying to make the 53-man roster.

"That’s going to be a fierce competition throughout [the summer]," coach Gus Bradley said after Thursday’s OTA.

[+] EnlargeMarqise Lee
AP Photo/John RaouxThe Jaguars' receivers, including Marqise Lee, have been competing hard during OTAs this week, coach Gus Bradley said.
Since this is the first week of OTAs, it’s still a pretty wide open race. It would be logical to assume that Mike Brown, Kerry Taylor and Tandon Doss have a bit of an advantage since Brown and Taylor were on the team last season and the Jaguars signed Doss to a two-year, $1.5 million contract in March.

Brown caught 32 passes for 446 yards and two touchdowns and Taylor caught 19 passes for 189 yards and one touchdown playing mainly near the end of the season because of the suspension of Justin Blackmon and Shorts’ season-ending sports hernia injury. Doss has only 26 receptions in his first three seasons with Baltimore but did lead the NFL in punt return average in 2013.

Special-teams play could be the deciding factor on which receivers the Jaguars keep, Bradley said.

"My challenge to our guys is -- especially like the fourth, fifth and sixth spots -- those guys have got to be really good special-teams players," Bradley said. "The competition you’re seeing really even takes place on special teams because they know how valuable that is, so there’s a number of guys in there that are really battling. A guy like Tandon Doss had a really good day [Wednesday], so you’re seeing each one of them really try to maximize their reps."

Bradley really lit up when talking about Brown, praising his work ethic and leadership. The former quarterback at Liberty missed four games after suffering a fractured vertebra in his back in the 2013 season opener but was impressive in his return. He was on the field for all but five of the Jaguars’ offensive snaps against Denver despite only having practiced minimally because of his injury. The following week he caught five passes for 120 yards, including a career-high 43-yarder.

"Mike Brown is really, really solid," Bradley said. "That’s what I would have said last year, but I feel like he’s stepped up his game because of the competition. He’s really taking command and you’re seeing him lead other guys at that position. That in itself tells me he has a better command of things, but he’s playing with a lot of confidence right now."

Brown doesn’t worry about whether that gives him an edge over Doss and Taylor or any of the other players competing for the final two spots: 2013 practice squad players Chad Bumphis and Lamaar Thomas (who also played in two games) and undrafted rookie free- agents Allen Hurns and Damian Copeland.

"It’s the same thing every year," Brown said. "That’s one thing I love about this game. It’s all about competition. We’re all in here competing together, helping each other get better. Our focus is on being the best that we can be personally. Ultimately we don’t control the outcome of who’s here or who’s not, so there’s no use in even really thinking about it.

"You just go out there and you put your best foot forward and you get yourself to be the best that you can be and you kind of live with how it plays out. That’s the mindset you’ve got to take."

Brown, Taylor and Doss have gotten a lot of work during the first week of OTAs. The Jaguars have created what Bradley is calling an "opportunity period" specifically for the younger, less-experienced players to gain additional reps at the end of each workout. Hurns, Copeland and Bumphis have benefited from that extra work. Thomas had limited participation this week because of a knee injury.

There’s a long way to go before any kind of final decision and it will undoubtedly heat up during training camp, but the battle for those final receiver spots will be interesting to watch.
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- The Jacksonville Jaguars begin organized team activities (OTAs) on Tuesday. While the players are only allowed to wear helmets and are restricted to six hours of work per day it marks the first time the veterans and rookies will be together, so it’s the first chance to get a glimpse at how the team may look in September.

Here are five things to ponder during the 10 OTAs and mandatory minicamp over the next four weeks:

Gerhart
The running back depth chart: Despite the Jaguars' confidence in Toby Gerhart, there is still some doubt among those outside the team over his ability to be a feature back. He has not done it since his days at Stanford, spending the past four seasons backing up Adrian Peterson in Minnesota. The plan is around 20 touches per game, but if he’s not able to handle that workload or be productive, there are not a whole lot of options behind him. Second-year player Jordan Todman, who backed up Maurice Jones-Drew last season and ran for 109 yards in his only start of the season, is the only proven ball carrier behind Gerhart. Denard Robinson has to fix his ball security issues. Seventh-round pick Storm Johnson has quickly become a fan favorite, but he was taken that late for a reason. Moments after drafting him, coach Gus Bradley said Johnson really struggles in pass protection and he also has trouble holding onto the football. After Johnson, it’s undrafted rookies Beau Blankenship and Terrance Cobb.

Who’s No. 5-6? There are four locks to make the team at receiver: Cecil Shorts, Ace Sanders, Marqise Lee and Allen Robinson. After that, there’s a wide-open competition for the fifth and sixth spots between Mike Brown, Kerry Taylor, Chad Bumphis, Damian Copeland, Tandon Doss, Allen Hurns and Lamaar Thomas. Doss has more career catches (26) than any of the others, plus he’s got good size (6-foot-2, 205 pounds). However, his issue in Baltimore the past three seasons was running routes consistently and drops. He is a solid kick returner and that gives him an advantage over the others. Brown and Taylor were on the roster last season and have valuable experience in offensive coordinator Jedd Fisch’s system, but so does Hurns, a former Miami standout who played two seasons under Fisch as the Hurricanes’ offensive coordinator.

Henne
Bortles vs. Henne: It’s not really a competition between first-round pick Blake Bortles and veteran Chad Henne at this point, but it will be interesting to see them throwing together. The thing to watch will be the 11-on-11, in which Henne should have a significant advantage. He is completely comfortable in the offense and therefore his throws should be quicker and more decisive. If Bortles looks comparable, that may be a clue the competition in training camp may start off closer than most anticipated.

Joeckel’s return: Luke Joeckel spent only about a quarter at left tackle before suffering a fractured ankle that kept him out for the rest of the 2013 season. He spent all of training camp and the first four weeks at right tackle, so this will essentially be his rookie season at left tackle. Defensive coordinator Bob Babich will at times put four leos on the field on third down, so it’ll be interesting to watch Joeckel match up against some of the pass-rushers. One matchup I’d like to see is Joeckel vs. rookie Chris Smith, who doesn't have prototypical leo size (he’s 6-1) but has long arms and is very quick off the line. The Jaguars want to see Joeckel play the way he did before getting injured against St. Louis when he pretty much stoned Robert Quinn, who went on to record 19 sacks last season.

Safety dance: Johnathan Cyprien is the starting strong safety. That’s set in stone. But the situation at free safety is less certain. Josh Evans (sixth round) and Winston Guy (waiver wire) shared the spot last season, but the Jaguars signed a pair of undrafted rookies -- Craig Loston and Jerome Junior -- to compete with Evans and Guy along with Chris Prosinski, Joe Young and Sherrod Martin. Evans really shouldn’t have been on the field as much as he was last season but was forced into action because of an injury to Dwight Lowery in Week 3. That experience should give him an advantage going into OTAs. This position battle will be one of the more interesting ones to watch throughout training camp and preseason.
ORLANDO, Fla. -- Jaguars coach Gus Bradley would like to be able to sit down with suspended receiver Justin Blackmon and have a conversation the way they did during Blackmon's early-season suspension in 2013.

But the two have had only minimal contact via text messages because NFL rules prohibit Blackmon from visiting the team's facility while serving an indefinite suspension for his third violation of the league's substance abuse policy.

Blackmon
Blackmon
"I wish I could have a more extended conversation with him," Bradley said Tuesday. "My feelings toward him haven't changed. I still care about him.

"To be able to sit down and visit with him, that part I miss."

That used to be a regular occurrence. They would sit down each week during the season and have conversations that sometimes lasted more than an hour. Most of those talks had nothing to do with football. But Bradley hasn't had any contact with Blackmon for several weeks.

Bradley had heard that Blackmon was back in Jacksonville and that was confirmed when he heard about Blackmon's early-morning, one-car accident on March 15.

The Jaguars are still unsure of Blackmon's availability for the 2014 season -- he will be able to petition NFL commissioner Roger Goodell for reinstatement before the season begins -- and the team is planning on being without him.

The Jaguars already added receiver Tandon Doss in free agency and Bradley said the team will likely draft at least one more receiver.

"It's something that we will address," Bradley said. "We looked at [Emmanuel] Sanders and didn't get him. Somewhere in those 11 picks, yeah, you'll probably see us take a wide receiver. We'll see. We've got to take best available."
The Baltimore Ravens have made a contract offer to tight end Ed Dickson, according to The Baltimore Sun.

Dickson
This comes as surprising news especially since even Dickson didn't think there was much chance of him returning to the Ravens. He has reportedly drawn interest from the Buffalo Bills, New York Jets and New York Giants.

The bigger splash would be signing Owen Daniels, but retaining Dickson would be cheaper. Dickson never developed into the playmaking receiver after being drafted in the third round in 2010. He does have value as a blocker, and he still has potential at 26 years old.

The Ravens could also choose to find a backup tight end in the draft.

Here's the rest of your wake-up caw ...
  • Wide receiver Tandon Doss became the fifth Baltimore Ravens player to sign elsewhere in free agency when he joined the Jacksonville Jaguars on Tuesday. This isn't much of a loss for the Ravens because Doss likely wasn't going to make the team this year. Doss led the NFL in punt-return average last season, but he was phased out of that job after muffing that punt in Cleveland, which led to the Browns' final touchdown. This is ESPN Jaguars reporter Mike DiRocco's take on the signing of Doss.
  • John Eisenberg, of the team's official website, thinks it's time for the Ravens to use a first-round pick on offense. "When tackle Michael Oher signed with the Tennessee Titans last Friday, it meant the Ravens now have just one homegrown first-rounder on their offensive roster. Drum roll, please ... Joe Flacco, come on down!," Eisenberg wrote. "Kind of startling, isn’t it?"
  • This is your preliminary seven-round order for the NFL draft. Of course, this is before the announcement of compensatory picks, which comes next week at the NFL owners meetings. The Ravens currently have four picks (first, second, third and sixth rounds).
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- The signing of free agent Tandon Doss gives the Jacksonville Jaguars one thing they’ve been missing for several years: A big, physical receiver that has actually been productive on the field.

Doss
The 6-foot-2, 205-pound Doss caught 26 passes the past two seasons in Baltimore. The Ravens took him in the fourth round in 2011 after he had a standout career at Indiana. He caught 154 passes for 1,854 yards and 13 touchdowns in his career and set a single-season school record for kickoff return yardage as a senior in 2010. He led the Big Ten and was fourth nationally with 175.8 all-purpose yards that season.

Doss had 19 catches for 305 yards for the Ravens last season, and averaged 16.5 yards per catch in his two seasons in Baltimore.

The Jaguars do have two big receivers on the roster, but neither has done much on the field. Stephen Burton (6-1, 224) played in four games for the Jaguars in 2013 and has 15 catches in three seasons with the Jaguars and Minnesota. Stephen Williams (6-5, 207) appeared in just two games for the Jaguars last season and has just nine catches in four seasons with Arizona, Seattle and Jacksonville.

The NFL trending toward bigger cornerbacks makes finding bigger receivers a priority. Jaguars coach Gus Bradley said last week that the team would try to add one in free agency and also might draft one.

This is a deep draft for receivers, and the Jaguars did work with Alabama’s Kevin Norwood (6-2, 208) at the Senior Bowl.

W2W4: Vikings-Ravens

December, 6, 2013
12/06/13
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EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. -- As we close out the week and get you ready for the Minnesota Vikings-Baltimore Ravens game on Sunday, I've got a few items left in the notebook to pass along. This post will serve as a place to discuss a handful of odds and ends. Here we go:

Cole looking set at MLB: If the fact the Vikings moved Erin Henderson back to weak-side linebacker didn't clear it up, the fact the Vikings plan to make Audie Cole, and not Henderson, their middle linebacker in the nickel package should suggest the plan to make Cole the middle linebacker isn't a passing fancy. Coach Leslie Frazier said Henderson took to his old outside linebacker spot "like riding a bike," and as well as Cole has played in pass coverage the past two weeks, there's probably no reason to switch anything up there. Henderson admitted the move hurt his pride, but he seems to be accepting it for now. Given what Frazier said this week about Henderson not being the Vikings' preferred plan at middle linebacker, it's safe to assume he could stay outside if Cole keeps showing he can handle the middle.

Special teams could be pivotal: The Ravens and Vikings both have dynamic return men who could affect Sunday's game; Baltimore kick returner Jacoby Jones has a 26.5-yard return average this season, and punt returner Tandon Doss is averaging 15.6 yards per return, with an 82-yard touchdown to his credit. The Vikings, of course, have three TDs between kick returner Cordarrelle Patterson (two) and punt returner Marcus Sherels (one). "Their kickoff return guy, Jones, he's impressive," Frazier said. "Of course, our guy is special as well. Whether it be a turnover or kick return or punt return, it could turn this game for sure."

Preparing for Pitta: Ravens tight end Dennis Pitta is hopeful he'll make his season debut on Sunday after dislocating his hip in July, and if he does, the Vikings will have another element of the Ravens' offense to think about. They've been burned by several tight ends this year, giving up at least 60 yards to an opposing tight end in six games, but Cole's presence could help there. If Pitta plays -- which coach John Harbaugh wouldn't divulge on Friday -- the Vikings will be in for a test. "He’s a pretty tough matchup for linebackers and sometimes even safeties," Frazier said. "He’s almost a wide receiver in a lot of ways and it seems like he’s one of those guys that their quarterback looks for often. So he presents some challenges for your defense for sure."

Wet weather possible: Aside from rain in Week 2 in Chicago, the Vikings haven't had to deal with much inclement weather the past few seasons. That could change on Sunday, with the game-time forecast calling for a mix of rain and snow. And as we mentioned earlier this week, the Vikings are just 1-6-1 since 2006 when game-time temperatures are 40 or below, according to ESPN Stats & Information. "The guys will figure it out. We'll go play, regardless of the elements," Frazier said. "Depending on how bad the conditions are, it'll determine how much you're throwing the ball and how much you're running the ball. We'll see when we get out there in pregame."

Cassel vs. Ravens: Even though he'd spent his entire career in the AFC before this season, Matt Cassel had only started one game against the Ravens -- and he probably doesn't have many good memories about it. He completed nine of his 15 passes for 92 yards and two interceptions last year, being knocked out with a head injury and missing the Kansas City Chiefs' next game after they lost 9-6 to the Ravens at Arrowhead Stadium. The Ravens' defense looks quite a bit different than the one Cassel faced last year, but he'll look to solve Baltimore's scheme on Sunday.

Rapid Reaction: Baltimore Ravens

November, 3, 2013
11/03/13
7:38
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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.

Defense may have to carry Packers

October, 13, 2013
10/13/13
8:45
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PackersDoug Kapustin/Getty ImagesThe Packers' defense clamped down on Ray Rice and the Ravens' running game on Sunday.
BALTIMORE -- With 12 seconds left in the first half of Sunday's game against the Baltimore Ravens, Green Bay Packers outside linebacker Nick Perry sacked quarterback Joe Flacco and knocked the ball loose.

Rookie defensive end Datone Jones scooped up the fumble and returned it 20 yards to the Ravens' 13-yard line to set up Mason Crosby's 31-yard field goal on the final play of the first half.

It was exactly the kind of play that, according to Packers linebacker A.J. Hawk, great defenses make.

"We're definitely not a great defense yet," Hawk said after the Packers' 19-17 victory over the defending Super Bowl champs. "But we're trying to get there."

The Packers defense might have to get there -- and fast.

If the Packers (3-2) are going to be without receivers Randall Cobb and James Jones, both of whom left Sunday's game with injuries in the first half, then they're going to need their defense to pick up where it left off on Sunday at M&T Bank Stadium.

Among its noteworthy accomplishments in helping secure Green Bay's first road win of the season, the defense came through with:

  • A stop on fourth-and-goal from the 1-yard line in the second quarter after a special teams gaffe by John Kuhn, who touched a blocked punt that the Ravens recovered to keep a drive alive.
  • A stop on third-and-goal from the 5 in the third quarter that forced the Ravens to settle for a field goal.
  • Five sacks, including three by Hawk (who had that many all of last season).
  • A near complete shutdown of the Ravens' once-prolific running game.

"Today was good, I think, with those goal-line stands," Hawk said. "But you can't call yourself great until you're holding teams consistently under 13, 14 points, I think. We played pretty well, but it's a long season, that's for sure. We're only 3-2."

Perhaps most encouraging for the Packers was that they did it all without their best defensive player, outside linebacker Clay Matthews, who six days earlier underwent surgery to repair his broken right thumb, and without their defensive signal-caller, inside linebacker Brad Jones, who sustained a hamstring injury a week earlier against the Detroit Lions.

It all began with the goal-line stand.

On fourth-down from the Packers' 1-yard line, the Ravens called running back Bernard Pierce's number. Defensive tackle Mike Daniels and cornerback Micah Hyde were credited for stopping Pierce, but in reality it was a group effort that included Hawk and defensive tackles B.J. Raji and Mike Daniels.

"We pride ourselves on not giving up any rushing touchdowns," Raji said. "We stood up that play, and hopefully we can continue to do that."

[+] EnlargeRodgers
Evan Habeeb/USA TODAY SportsAaron Rodgers threw for 315 yards, but he also lost two receivers to injuries.
Just as important was the stop on third-and-goal from the 5 in the third quarter, when the Packers forced an incompletion by Flacco to receiver Marlon Brown. Linebacker Jamari Lattimore, the replacement for Jones, had tight coverage on the play. The Ravens settled for a field goal, cutting the Packers' lead to 9-3 with 4:34 left in the third quarter, and then on the next possession quarterback Aaron Rodgers finally hit on a big play -- a deep shot to receiver Jordy Nelson for a 64-yard touchdown.

"Like I tell Dom after a game like this on Monday, if you give up 17 points, we're going to win most of those games," said Rodgers, who was pressured often but still managed to throw for 315 yards on 17-of-32 passing with one touchdown and one interception.

To be sure, the Packers weren't facing an offensive juggernaut. The Ravens came into the game ranked 21st in total offense, and they haven't been able to protect Flacco. Even their usually reliable ground game with running back Ray Rice was just 27th in the league in yards per game coming in.

The Packers shut down Rice, who rushed 14 times for 34 yards, 11 of which came on one carry. They will almost certainly climb from their No. 5 ranking last week in rushing defense.

"The defense, I felt, carried us pretty much most of the game," Packers coach Mike McCarthy said.

That's not to say the Packers were perfect on that side of the ball. They had a major breakdown when the Ravens went for it on fourth-and-21 from their own 19-yard line with 2:40 left in the game. Safety Jerron McMillian fell down in coverage, which allowed Flacco to hit receiver Tandon Doss for a 63-yard completion. That set up an 18-yard touchdown pass to tight end Dallas Clark over McMillian on the next play, when McMillian said he did not hear the defensive call.

With the Ravens within two, the Packers needed their offense to burn off the final 2 minutes, 4 seconds. The combination of Eddie Lacy (who rushed for a career-high 120 yards on 23 carries) and a key third-down conversion to tight end Jermichael Finley (who should have stayed in bounds to keep the clock running after his 52-yard catch and run) did just that.

But with Cobb on crutches after the game and Jones having trouble walking, the fate of the Packers might rest on the defense.

"We're going to need them big," Finley said of the defense. "But at the same time, if Randall and James are out, it's called the next man up."

video.

Upon Further Review: Ravens Week 5

October, 7, 2013
10/07/13
12:30
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An examination of four hot issues from the Baltimore Ravens' 26-23 win over the Miami Dolphins:

[+] EnlargeRay Rice
Mike Ehrmann/Getty ImagesThe numbers show that getting Ray Rice the ball often spells victory for the Ravens.
Feed Rice the ball: It's important to get the ball to running back Ray Rice, whether handing it off or throwing it to him in space. If you don't believe me, look at the numbers. In Rice’s career, the Ravens are 23-3 when Rice has at least 25 touches and 30-24 when he is active and does not, according to ESPN Stats & Information. When you factor in Rice's 102 yards on 33 touches Sunday, Baltimore has won 20 straight games when he has at least 25 touches. The Ravens have to be careful not to wear down Rice because he's dealing with a hip injury. But you've seen flashes of Rice bouncing back into form, especially in the red zone. He reached the end zone twice Sunday, and if you needed another number favoring him, the Ravens are 22-5 when he scores a rushing touchdown.

Showstoppers: The Ravens' defense is becoming one of the game's top finishers. That is, when it comes to stopping drives or closing out games. On Sunday, the Ravens allowed yards on just three of the Dolphins' pass plays in the fourth quarter. They sacked Ryan Tannehill on four of those 15 dropbacks, including three by linebacker Terrell Suggs, and all four came while rushing just four linemen, according to ESPN Stats & Information. Entering the game the Ravens were tied for sixth on third-down defense, and they were even better against the Dolphins, allowing Miami to convert just 3 of 16 third downs (a season-best 19 percent).

Unexpected contribution: With only three healthy wide receivers, the Ravens needed someone to step up. No one believed it was going to be tight end Ed Dickson and wide receiver Tandon Doss. Both had more receiving yards Sunday than in the first four weeks combined. Dickson caught both passes thrown his way for 51 yards, which is 26 more total yards than he had in the first four games. Doss had three receptions for 58 yards, which was 11 more yards than he'd had.

Going to the extreme: Much of the talk was about the Ravens' commitment to the running game. But it shouldn't be overlooked that Baltimore's defense was committed to stopping the run. Baltimore held the Dolphins to 22 yards rushing, the fourth-fewest ever allowed in Ravens history and the fewest in seven years. The Dolphins basically gave up on trying to run the ball. Miami attempted two runs in the second half -- sound familiar, Ravens? -- and finished with 11 rush attempts. This is quite a turnaround for the Ravens, who gave up 203 yards to Buffalo a week ago.

Rapid Reaction: Ravens 30, Texans 9

September, 22, 2013
9/22/13
4:11
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BALTIMORE -- A few thoughts on the Baltimore Ravens' 30-9 win against the Houston Texans:

What it means: The Ravens reasserted themselves as a team to watch in the AFC just two weeks after being embarrassed in Denver. On the strength of defense and special teams, the Ravens handed the Texans their first loss of the season and avenged a 30-point loss in Houston from a year ago. The Ravens remain in first place in the AFC North by improving to 2-1 this season.

Stock Watch:

Rising: James Ihedigbo. He was the best safety on the field on the day Ed Reed returned to Baltimore. Ihedigbo had nine tackles, including two for losses, two passes defensed (including one on fourth down) and one quarterback hit. Ihedigbo was supposed to be holding the starting spot until rookie Matt Elam was ready, but he has been one of the pleasant surprises for this defense.

Falling: Discipline in the first half. The Ravens were flagged eight times in the first 22 1/2 minutes of the game. The Ravens had too many players on the field on a field-goal attempt, which gave the Texans a first down, and left tackle Bryant McKinnie was called for a facemask penalty twice. But, to the Ravens' credit, they finished with nine.

Replacing Ray: On the day the Ravens inducted Ray Lewis into the Ring of Honor, his replacement made the game-changing play of the game. Daryl Smith jumped a pass to Owen Daniels to pick off Matt Schaub and ran it back 37 yards for the score. Smith's first career interception return for a touchdown put the Ravens, who had struggled on offense, ahead 10-6 late in the second quarter.

Birthday boy: Less than two minutes after Smith's score, Tandon Doss celebrated his 24th birthday with a 82-yard punt return for a touchdown. It was the fifth-longest punt return in Ravens history. Not bad for a player who was cut three weeks ago and was only re-signed when returner Jacoby Jones injured his knee. This capped a spurt in which the Ravens scored 17 points in three minutes, 26 seconds.

What's next: The Ravens (2-1) go on the road with a couple of AFC East trips, at Buffalo on Sunday and at Miami the next week.

Why Ravens like Doss returning punts

September, 14, 2013
9/14/13
1:00
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Baltimore Ravens wide receiver Tandon Doss has four punt returns for the Ravens in 20 regular-season games. He averaged 2.3 yards per return this preseason.

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Why are the Ravens considering Doss as a replacement for Jacoby Jones on punt returns Sunday? It starts with his hands.

"He’s an excellent catcher of the ball, he makes really good decisions; it’s almost too easy for him," special teams coordinator Jerry Rosburg said. "Some guys underneath the ball, they move around and they stutter their feet, and for him, he’s very relaxed and balanced under the ball. He’s got excellent hands, so that’s the first thing with any punt returner."

Doss' best moment as a returner came last December, when he brought back a punt 40 yards against Denver.

"He had an excellent punt return, because he can put his foot in the ground and he’s a big guy," Rosburg said of the 6-foot-2, 207-pound Doss. "He’s got strength, and he can knock guys off of him. So, we look at him as a possibility, certainly. He’s had experience; that’s always good.”

With only four healthy wide receivers, Doss will certainly be active for Sunday's game against the Cleveland Browns. One way for him to justify being the No. 4 receiver is handling punt returns.

But Rosburg indicated there is another possibility for punt returner. Lardarius Webb took over that role after Jones was hurt in Denver in the season opener.

Webb is a more explosive returner than Doss. Still, I would be surprised if the Ravens used Webb as a returner because he's the team's best cover corner and he's 11 months removed from knee surgery. My guess is they'll use Doss for most of the returns and go with Webb if it's at a point in the game where they need a big return.

"He’s demonstrated for the Ravens in the past that he can be an effective punt returner, and he likes doing it, and we like having him do it because he’s good at it," Rosburg said. "We got a 13-yard return the other day from him, and there’s possibility for more. We’ll see how it goes. You never know how the game plays out. We have other options, but he’s certainly one of the options.”

Report: Tandon Doss rejoining Ravens

September, 9, 2013
9/09/13
11:15
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The Baltimore Ravens needed to add a wide receiver with Jacoby Jones expected to be out at least a month with a knee injury.

Doss
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Is it going to be Brandon Lloyd? Austin Collie? What about Josh Cribbs?

No, it looks like Tandon Doss is coming back to the Ravens, according to The Baltimore Sun. Please tone down your excitement.

Doss, the team's disappointing fourth-round pick, has seven catches in 20 career regular-season games. He didn't do much in the first three preseason games before making five catches for 75 yards.

The Ravens are obviously looking for someone who has knowledge of the offense and provides depth. They weren't looking for someone to leapfrog either Marlon Brown or Brandon Stokley as one of the team's top three receivers.

Baltimore is carrying six wide receivers, but only four are healthy. Deonte Thompson has been sidelined with a foot injury since the preseason opener. Let's see how many opportunities Doss gets in his second chance with the Ravens.
Most significant move. The Baltimore Ravens kept seven wide receivers but Tandon Doss still didn't make it. Doss, a fourth-round pick in 2011, went from battling for the No. 2 wide receiver job at the start of training camp to not having a job by the end of the preseason. He never had the same chemistry with quarterback Joe Flacco that rookies Marlon Brown and Aaron Mellette did. Doss' stock with the Ravens plummeted in the third preseason game, when Flacco threw an interception because Doss ran the wrong route. The Ravens chose to keep both promising young receivers (Brown, an undrafted rookie; and Mellette, a seventh-round pick) and two receivers dealing with injuries (LaQuan Williams and Deonte Thompson).

The most surprising move was waiving running back Bobby Rainey, who scored two touchdowns in the preseason finale. It looked like Rainey was going to make the team after the Ravens waived Anthony Allen and Delone Carter. That leaves the Ravens with two tailbacks, Ray Rice and Bernard Pierce. Rainey likely will go on the practice squad.

Potential return. When Dennis Pitta dislocated his hip in the first contact practice of training camp, coach John Harbaugh ruled out the starting tight end for the season. Harbaugh later said there was a chance that Pitta could return, and it looks like the Ravens are going to give him a chance to do so. The Ravens decided not to put Pitta on injured reserve, which indicates that the team will put him on the injured reserve-designated to return list. But the Ravens can't use that designation, which can only be placed on one player, on Tuesday.

The Ravens currently have one healthy tight end on the roster: Dallas Clark. The hope is Ed Dickson, who has been sidelined with a hamstring injury, will be ready for the season opener. The Ravens cut veteran Billy Bajema and undrafted rookie Matt Furstenburg on Saturday. Baltimore will likely bring back Bajema when Pitta is put on IR-designated to return and sign Furstenburg to the practice squad once he clears waivers.

What's next. General manager Ozzie Newsome says a team can't have enough cornerbacks and he has a history of adding offensive linemen after the final major cutdown. At this point, the Ravens have four cornerbacks on the active roster: Lardarius Webb, Corey Graham, Jimmy Smith and Chykie Brown. The fifth cornerback, Asa Jackson, is suspended for five games. The Ravens could use another cornerback, especially one who can make an impact on special teams.

Baltimore is carrying eight offensive linemen on the roster, but that could change. Center Ryan Jensen, who had foot surgery, could go on injured reserve. The Ravens need to upgrade with a backup offensive lineman who has the versatility of playing multiple positions.

Here are the Ravens' moves to get down to the league limit of 53:

Waived: S Omar Brown, WR Tandon Doss, TE Matt Furstenburg, DT Cody Larsen, G Antoine McClain, RB Bobby Rainey, J.J. Unga, RB Anthony Allen, CB Marc Anthony, ILB Nigel Carr, RB Delone Carter, ILB Brandon Copeland, QB Dayne Crist, OT Jordan Devey, OT Rogers Gaines, TE Alex Silvestro, C Reggie Stephens.

Contract terminated: TE Billy Bajema, QB Caleb Hanie.

Injured reserve: D.J. Bryant (knee).

Observation deck: Ravens-Rams

August, 29, 2013
8/29/13
11:26
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Running back Bobby Rainey made the strongest case for one of the final roster spots in the Baltimore Ravens' 24-21 loss at St. Louis in Thursday's preseason finale.

Rainey showed great determination in two first-half touchdowns, which could give him the edge over Anthony Allen and Delone Carter for the third tailback spot. In a busy night for the undrafted player out of Western Kentucky, he finished with 13 carries for 39 yards, one punt return for 16 yards, two kickoff returns for 25 yards and one special-teams tackle.

Those numbers didn't accurately reflect Rainey's toughness or the countless tackles he broke. On the first touchdown, he was stopped by the pile at the goal line but got the ball across on a second effort. On his second score, Rainey was bottled up at the 5-yard line and bounced to his left to reach the end zone.

Last season, Rainey spent the first six weeks on the practice squad before being promoted to the active roster. He was inactive for three games before going on injured reserve with a knee injury.

His scores were magnified when Allen and Carter failed to punch the ball in the end zone with carries inside the 10-yard line; Allen made it worse by fumbling at the 1. Allen and Carter combined for 3 yards on 13 carries. This will be a tough roster decision because Allen does so much on special teams, especially as the lead blocker on kickoffs.

Here are my other thoughts on the final preseason game for the Ravens, who finished 2-2:
  • The Ravens' top two draft picks were impressive. Safety Matt Elam, the first-round pick, made four first-quarter tackles and punched the ball out of Tavon Austin's grasp for a forced fumble. Linebacker Arthur Brown, the second-round pick, hit Kellen Clemens so hard that he made the Rams' backup quarterback's nose bleed and made a nice open-field tackle. The rookies both won't start right away, but these performances provide glimpses of the future.
  • There was a Tandon Doss sighting. For the first time this preseason, Doss did what the Ravens had envisioned, catching passes over the middle and beating defenders straight down the field out of the slot. He had five catches for 75 yards. But Marlon Brown didn't give up any ground in the wide receiver battle. The undrafted rookie scored on a 50-yard touchdown in the fourth quarter. I will provide more thoughts on the wide receiver situation on Friday.
  • Omar Brown made the roster last year because he made big plays in the preseason. He came up big Thursday night as he looks to become the team's fourth safety. Brown forced a fumble over the middle of the field in the first quarter and nearly picked off a pass in the third quarter. The Ravens' top three safety spots are set with Elam, Michael Huff and James Ihedigbo.
  • The center battle appears to be over. Gino Gradkowski didn't play in the finale, which suggests that the Ravens didn't need to see any more from him. A.Q. Shipley started, but he hasn't done enough in the preseason to push Gradkowski for the job.
  • Joe Flacco didn't play, and Tyrod Taylor received the night off after suffering a head injury in the last preseason game. Third-stringer Caleb Hanie got to play the entire game, and it wasn't pretty. He was 20-of-39 for 272 yards, and he didn't receive much support. Hanie was pressured repeatedly and was charged with a fumble after Reggie Stephens (who also had a critical false start late in the fourth quarter) delivered a shotgun snap wide right. Hanie's final pass was intercepted in the final minute of the game.

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