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Broncos bring Manning to Baltimore this time

Broncos bring Manning to Baltimore this time

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. (AP) The last time the Denver Broncos won a game in Baltimore, a baby-faced John Elway was making his second NFL start and producing his first career fourth-quarter comeback.

That was way back in 1983, before the Colts left for Indianapolis. The Broncos are 0-5 in Baltimore since the Ravens entered the league in 1996.

Champ Bailey doesn't care. He has Peyton Manning on his side this time.

Manning is 8-0 against the Ravens since 2002 with half of those wins coming in Charm City, where the Broncos (10-3) will face the Ravens (9-4) Sunday in the marquee matchup of a weekend brimming with big games.

Bailey puts no stock whatsoever in Denver's dismal record in Baltimore that includes a 30-7 loss in 2009 and a 31-17 defeat a year later.

``We don't have quite the same roster we had the last two times we've been up there,'' Bailey said. ``Hopefully that makes a difference.''

The biggest change, of course, is Manning, dubbed ``Raven Killer'' by his teammate Justin Bannan, who lost five times to him as a member of the Ravens from 2006-09, with three of those losses coming in Baltimore.

Loathe to accept accolades or to compare this season or this team to any other, Manning doesn't want to hear about all the wins he's engineered in Baltimore.

``It's kind of like I never like it when somebody says I lost four straight. I don't agree when you say I won eight straight,'' Manning said. ``Those are team wins and different teams, different players playing in those games. I really can't speak much to the past. All I can speak to is this year, and it's been such a different year for me - different team and what not.''

Even taking into account the combined .356 winning percentage of their opponents during their eight-game winning streak, the Broncos are the hottest team in the NFL right now, and they're breathing down the necks of both the Texans and Patriots - two teams they lost to early on - for one of two AFC playoff byes.

This is a chance to show everyone, including themselves, that they're truly on a championship course, and what better barometer than Baltimore?

``This is one of the playoff type situations, so it's a great challenge ahead of us to see what we're all about,'' Broncos pass-rusher Elvis Dumervil said.

Although Baltimore coach John Harbaugh fired offensive coordinator Cam Cameron this week and replaced him with Jim Caldwell, the Ravens' two-game losing streak - their first since 2009 - can be attributed largely to a depleted defense that's missing much of its star power.

Ray Lewis (triceps) and Terrell Suggs (biceps) have yet to play a game together this season, although both practiced this week, and Lardarius Webb is on IR with a torn ACL.

``You know, they're not all gone,'' said Broncos slot receiver Brandon Stokley, another former Raven. ``They've still got Ed Reed back there in the secondary. So, no matter who's in there, you play Baltimore in Baltimore, it's going to be a tough, hard-fought game.''

The Broncos are preparing as though the injury-ravaged Ravens will have Lewis, their emotional leader, back on the field Sunday.

``He's very intense and there's definitely a difference whenever I was there and he was at practice and then when he wasn't at practice,'' Stokley said. ``He reminds me of Peyton, how Peyton is, he just raises everybody's level of play up when he's around. The work that they put in, the attention to detail that they have, guys see that and guys know if these guys, as good as they are, are putting in that much work and attention to detail, then I have to do that, too.''

The Broncos, who last lost on Oct. 7 in New England, have quickly acclimated themselves to their own excitable leader in Manning.

``I'm glad he's on my team,'' Bannan said. ``I've played that guy a few times, a couple of times in the playoffs, and a guy like Peyton Manning, the pressure it puts on defensive coaches, when you're putting that game plan in on Wednesday and you're getting ready to play this guy, you wouldn't believe the pressure and intensity the defensive coordinator feels to figure out what this guy's doing.

``These guys would watch hours and hours and hours of film on him just to find something. I think he's one of the few guys where it's damn near impossible to find something on him that you can key on, he switches things up so well.''

The Ravens' switch in offensive coordinators threw a wrinkle into the Broncos' preparation, but they're not expecting wholesale changes with Caldwell calling an NFL game for the first time in his career.

``I don't think they'll venture too far away,'' Broncos coach John Fox said. ``Possibly there will be a little more no-huddle.''

Manning spent a decade in Indy under the tutelage of Caldwell, who was in his first year as Baltimore's quarterbacks coach before taking the reins of the Ravens offense on Monday.

``Jim Caldwell had a tremendous influence on me,'' Manning said. ``He was very organized, very detail-oriented, which, I'm a fan of that philosophy. He and I got into a good routine in meetings and on the practice field every day for the time we were together, when he was my quarterbacks coach, and I really thought he took my game to another level. He's also been a tremendous friend and mentor to me. I miss being around him every day, and I miss his friendship.''

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Five observations from Day 1 of Ravens training camp

Five observations from Day 1 of Ravens training camp

OWINGS MILLS – Here are five observations from Day 1 of Ravens’ training camp:

1. Joe Flacco didn’t look like someone who had not practiced since November.

First of all, there is nothing wrong with Flacco’s arm. Early in drills, he effortlessly floated a long pass to rookie Chris Moore on a ball that traveled at least 55 yards in the air. Secondly, Flacco moved well wearing a brace on his surgically-repaired left knee, moving out of the pocket several times without any sign of favoring the injury. It remains to be seen if Flacco feels discomfort after several days of practice, and of course, he is not taking any hits. But this was a good first step.

“It felt really good to be out there,” Flacco said in quotes provided by the team. “I wasn’t as efficient as I’d like to be, but I felt comfortable. I just need to throw it a little better and complete some more passes.”

2. Veteran tight end Ben Watson didn’t have the greatest practice.

The usually sure-handed Watson dropped two passes early. Maybe Watson was nervous in his first practice with Flacco, or maybe he was adjusting to the pace of Flacco’s throws. But Watson will be looking to bounce back quickly, competing for playing time at tight end with Crockett Gillmore, Dennis Pitta, and Maxx Williams.

3. The starter at inside linebacker could be rookie Kamalei Correa.

While Correa is taking reps both outside and inside, the Ravens are searching for a starter at inside linebacker next to C.J. Mosley. If Correa wins the starting job, it means the Ravens’ top two picks, left tackle Ronnie Stanley and Correa, could be starters from Week 1.

4. Pitta looks like Pitta, running patterns and making catches.

Fans still love Pitta, and he received a huge ovation whenever he made a catch. Pitta’s attempt to come back from his second major hip injury is a feel-good story and people are rooting for him.  However, a major test for Pitta will come Saturday when the Ravens put on pads for the first time.

5. John Urschel could be the starter at left guard, but he is also taking reps at center.

Urschel is the favorite to replace Kelechi Osemele as the starting left guard. However, Urschel’s best position may be center. If anything happens to starting center Jeremy Zuttah, the Ravens could shift Urschel to center and play either Ryan Jensen or rookie Alex Lewis at left guard.

RELATED: STANLEY'S ROOKIE SHOW PERFORMANCE WAS ONE FOR THE AGES

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Ronnie Stanley sings 'Ignition Remix' in chicken suit for his teammates

Ronnie Stanley sings 'Ignition Remix' in chicken suit for his teammates

OWINGS MILLS - When the Ravens drafted left tackle Ronnie Stanley, he never expected to sing in front of teammates wearing a chicken suit.

Welcome to the Ravens, and to the traditional rookie talent contest. Stanley led off this year’s draft class as the first-round pick, and apparently, he was a hit. The chicken suit was courtesy of wide receiver Steve Smith Sr., who purchased it for Stanley.

Where exactly do you find a chicken suit that fits somebody 6-foot-6, 320 pounds? But Smith found one. If you are a smart rookie, you don’t say no to Steve Smith. That left Stanley with no choice but to perform wearing the suit.

Stanley chose the R. Kelly song “Ignition Remix” for his selection.

“I knew it was crowd pleaser,” Stanley said after Thursday’s practice. “I know every word to the song. That was the song I picked, so I was practicing all throughout this break that we had.”

Under the circumstances, Stanley felt he did well.

 “I actually didn’t know about the chicken suit until yesterday,” Stanley said. “I did what I had to do. I knew since I was going first, I had to set the tone. That was the first time I sang in a chicken suit.”

Ravens coach John Harbaugh was impressed.

“He did a great job and we had fun,” Harbaugh said. “It’s nice when your first-round pick, kind of the leader of the rookie class, is able to step up and make a statement about that. I can fit in, so to speak.”

No word on if Stanley plans to go on tour after the season.

RELATED: A FEW RAVENS RUNNING BACKS ARE DINGED UP

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Kenneth Dixon hobbled, Lorenzo Taliaferro placed on PUP list

Kenneth Dixon hobbled, Lorenzo Taliaferro placed on PUP list

OWINGS MILLS -- The Ravens deep running back group grew a little thinner – at least temporarily – on Thursday as rookie Kenneth Dixon left the first training camp practice after tweaking his left knee and Lorenzo Taliaferro was placed on the preseason physically-unable-to-perform list with a lingering foot injury.

Dixon had been very active in the noncontact practice, especially as a pass catcher. But as he caught one pass near the left sideline in an 11-on-11 drill, he was inadvertently bumped out of bounds by linebacker Patrick Onwauasor and fell hard to the ground. Dixon was slow to get up and was ultimately helped off the field by Justin Forsett and a trainer.

Dixon has “a slight thing with the knee,” coach John Harbaugh said after practice. “He should be fine.”

Taliaferro sustained a foot injury last year and had surgery that ultimately ended his season in October.

"Not that there's a big issue with it," Harbaugh said of Taliaferro's foot, "but it's not quite there yet."

Entering his third season, Taliaferro is fighting for a roster spot after missing 16 of 32 games over his first two seasons. Forsett, Buck Allen and Dixon all appear to be locks to make the team, leaving Taliaferro competing for a potential fourth running spot with Terrance West and perhaps Trent Richardson, though he, too, is injured.

Taliaferro joins five other Ravens who had previously been placed on the preseason PUP list – receivers Steve Smith and Breshad Perriman, linebackers Elvis Dumervil and Terrell Suggs, and Richardson.

Players can be activated from the PUP list and return to practice at any time during training camp. If they begin the regular season on the PUP list, they must sit out the first six games.

In addition to Taliaferro’s absence, three players sat out Thursday's practice because they haven’t passed the conditioning test: wide receiver Mike Wallace, cornerback Jerraud Powers and newly signed wide receiver Dobson Collins.

RELATED: FLACCO ISN'T WORRIED ABOUT INJURIES AFFECTING HIS POST NFL LIFE