Quick Links

AP Pro32 ballot from Pompei

AP Pro32 ballot from Pompei

Ballot and comments from AP Pro 32 panel voter Dan Pompei of Chicago Tribune:

Week 15

DAN POMPEI (Chicago Tribune)

1. New England Patriots - Step into Bill Belichick's web, Colin Kaepernick.

2. Denver Broncos - They need to beat the Ravens in order to keep their hopes alive for a first round playoff bye.

3. Green Bay Packers - Mike McCarthy believes this team can be better than the 15-1 Packers of a year ago. Can the Bears make him look wrong on Sunday?

4. San Francisco 49ers - Beating the Dolphins was one thing; beating the Patriots would be something else.

5. Houston Texans - In three of their last four games, Texans have a blowout loss to the Patriots and close call wins against the Jaguars and Lions. Any question about which direction the Texans are headed?

6. Atlanta Falcons - Was loss to the Panthers a blip, or was it the start of a tailspin?

7. New York Giants - If NFL teams had no secondaries, the Giants would be No. 1.

8. Indianapolis Colts - The best teams can win games in different ways. The Colts have done that.

9. Baltimore Ravens - The Ravens defense needs a savior. What do you know, here comes Ray Lewis.

10. Seattle Seahawks - They are starting to have the look of a team you would not want to be playing in January.

11. Washington Redskins - You know things are going their way when Kirk Cousins can lead them to an overtime victory over a formidable opponent.

12. Cincinnati Bengals - Their litmus test will be against the Steelers in two weeks, but they can't overlook the Eagles on Thursday.

13. Chicago Bears - The more passes Bears receivers drop, the more the Bears drop in the power rankings.

14. Dallas Cowboys - Could they ride a wave of emotion all the way to the postseason?

15. Minnesota Vikings - They have the best one-dimensional offense in the NFL.

16. Pittsburgh Steelers - Against the Raiders, Browns, Titans and Chargers, they are 0-4. Good thing the next two games are against contenders.

17. St. Louis Rams - It's not saying much, but this is the best Rams team that St. Louis has seen in quite some time.

18. New York Jets - The fact that they may be a playoff team does not speak well to the quality of the AFC this year.

19. Tampa Bay Buccaneers - Any team that can blow a 21-10 lead with four minutes left against the Eagles is not a good bet to be playing on February 3. Or Jan. 20. Or Jan. 12, 13, 5 or 6.

20. Cleveland Browns - If the season started three weeks ago, they would be a top five team.

21. New Orleans Saints - Joe Vitt describes his team as "fragile." And the Giants did not handle with care.

22. San Diego Chargers - It might be too late to save jobs, but that was an impressive effort by Norv Turner and the Chargers Sunday.

23. Miami Dolphins - Bad news: they have dropped five of six. Good news: up next are the Jags and Bills at home.

24. Buffalo Bills - Who needs to use C.J. Spiller when you are 5-8?

25. Carolina Panthers - Cam Newton is starting to look like the 2011 version of Cam Newton. Where was this guy in September?

26. Detroit Lions - Their fifth straight loss has clinched them last place in the NFC North.

27. Philadelphia Eagles - Nick Foles has begun making his argument for why he should be the Eagles' staring QB in 2013.

28. Tennessee Titans - The Titans can write off the season to the education of Jake Locker.

29. Oakland Raiders - It might be Terrelle Pryor time in Oakland.

30. Arizona Cardinals - Fifty-eight points separated them from the Seahawks in their ninth straight loss. Change is coming in Arizona.

31. Jacksonville Jaguars - Look at the bright side, Jacksonville - only 19 days until it's the offseason.

32. Kansas City Chiefs - Getting blown out by the Browns might not do much for team morale.

---

Online:

http://pro32.ap.org/poll and

http://twitter.com/AP-NFL

Quick Links

Keenan Questions?: 5 observations from Day 3 of Ravens training camp

Keenan Questions?: 5 observations from Day 3 of Ravens training camp

OWINGS MILLS – Five observations from Day 3 of Ravens training camp on Saturday, the first practice with players wearing pads:

1. Running back Terrance West looks slimmer, quicker, and impressive both running and pass catching.

West had another strong day of practice, and got plenty of reps with both Kenneth Dixon (knee) and Lorenzo Taliaferro (foot) still out. Justin Forsett, Buck Allen, and Dixon are considered locks to make the 53-man roster. But West, a former Towson star and Baltimore product, could finally be realizing his potential after disappointing stops with the Browns and Titans. West could force the Ravens to keep four running backs, in addition to fullback Kyle Juszczyk.

2. Keenan Reynolds needs to step up his performance at wide receiver.

A host of wide receivers are performing better than Reynolds, who is trying to transition from Navy quarterback to NFL wide receiver. Reynolds had a couple of drops the first three days of practice, and has been unable to get open consistently. Meanwhile, wide receiver Chris Matthews had another strong day, as did Michael Campanaro. Reynolds can help the Ravens as a returner, but they have other players who can fill that role. For Reynolds to secure a roster spot, he needs to show he can help the Ravens as a receiver. Otherwise, the Ravens will face a difficult decision regarding Reynolds, a local fan favorite.

MORE RAVENS: LATEST INJURY NOTES FROM OWINGS MILLS

3. The way Kamalei Correa and Zach Orr are performing, the Ravens may not need to sign a veteran inside linebacker.

Correa had a sparkling one-handed interception Saturday, showing his hands and athleticism. Orr has been reading plays quickly and keeping himself around the football. Even if Correa wins the job at inside linebacker next to C. J. Mosley, there could be reps for Orr as well, giving the Ravens a promising young combo.

4. Saturday was not a crisp day for the offense.

The defense was the better unit, as the offense looked sloppy at times. There were a couple of bad snaps out of the shotgun from center Jeremy Zuttah, and a few false starts from the offensive line. There is plenty of time for cleanup before Week 1, but it’s not what the coaches want to see.

5. QB Joe Flacco and TE Dennis Pitta continued to look good.

Saturday made three straight days of practice for Flacco with no noticeable limping or discomfort. Flacco may be wearing a red jersey, but there have been no red flags regarding his surgically-repaired knee. Meanwhile, Pitta took a solid hit from Orr while attempting to make a catch, but Pitta jumped right to his feet. This was another good day for Pitta in his comeback from his second major hip injury.

Quick Links

DT Jernigan leaves practice early, WR Moore does not practice

DT Jernigan leaves practice early, WR Moore does not practice

OWINGS MILLS – Ravens defensive tackle Timmy Jernigan left Saturday’s practice early, while rookie wide receiver Chris Moore did not practice.  Coach John Harbaugh did not meet with the media after practice, and no reason was immediately given for either absence. ESPN reported that Jernigan suffered a minor rib area strain that was not considered serious.

Cornerback Jerraud Powers took the field for this first training camp practice, after finally passing the conditioning test. Powers was the lone player remaining who had not passed the test.

MORE RAVENS: WAY-TOO-EARLY 2017 NFL DRAFT TOP 10

In addition to the five players on the PUP list, tight end Crockett Gillmore (hamstring) and running back Kenneth Dixon (knee) did not practice.

In a roster move, the Ravens signed punter Michael Palardy to fill their open roster spot. Sam Koch, a Pro Bowl selection in 2015, is firmly entrenched as the Ravens’ punter. However, Palardy can take practice reps while the Ravens work their punt returners, reducing some of the strain on Koch’s leg.

Quick Links

Why Yanda knows offensive success hinges on ability to protect Flacco

Why Yanda knows offensive success hinges on ability to protect Flacco

OWINGS MILLS - One of Marshal Yanda’s top priorities is to make sure the offensive line does its best to keep Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco healthy, unlike 2015, when Flacco suffered a season-ending knee injury. Having made five straight Pro Bowls as a right guard, Yanda is beginning his 10th NFL season, and his ninth season with Flacco as his quarterback. Yanda knows that much of the Ravens’ offensive success depends on Flacco staying healthy.

“We haven’t really talked about it specifically,” Yanda said. “But obviously, you know as an offensive line, we talk about it, and you coach it. You’re going to keep your guys as far away from the quarterback as possible. Obviously, there is probably more emphasis this year with the knee.”

MORE RAVENS: DAY 2 TRAINING CAMP OBSERVATIONS

When Flacco sees game action for the first time this season, Yanda doesn’t expect his quarterback to play tentatively due to his knee.

“He’s going to have to make his read,” Yanda said. “We have certain plays where he is going to be on the move, no matter what. We know about it: it is conscious in my mind; it is conscious in the offensive line’s mind and his mind, too. I feel like he just has to play through that. I had a knee (injury) once before, and he just has to get reps and get comfortable with the way it is feeling now. It will always feel a little different. That is just normal. It will continue to get normal as he keeps playing.”