CLEVELAND (AP) Browns defensive tackle Phil Taylor will start in his season debut against Baltimore after missing eight games.
The massive Taylor underwent offseason surgery after tearing a chest muscle while lifting weights in May. Taylor will start because Ahtyba Rubin will miss his second straight game with a calf injury. Taylor is expected to be limited as the Browns try to win their third straight home game.
Also, Browns rookie wide receiver Josh Gordon will start despite the return of Mohamed Massaquoi. He missed five games with a hamstring injury.
Ravens defensive tackle Haloti Ngata is active after missing practice with a shoulder injury. The Ravens are already without starting linebacker Ray Lewis and cornerback Lardarius Webb, who sustained season-ending injuries.
OWINGS MILLS — Ravens backup quarterback Ryan Mallett had a crowd of reporters around his locker Thursday after practice. If Joe Flacco (shoulder) doesn’t play Sunday, Mallett will be the starting quarterback against the New York Jets. So after Flacco missed his second straight day of practice, Mallett talked about his mindset, knowing he might see his first action of the season.
“I prepare every week like the starter,” Mallett said. “As a backup quarterback I feel like you have to do that, be ready to go. You got to be ready at the drop of a hat. If something happened during a game, any week of the season. You just always got to be ready.”
Mallett went 1-1 in two games as the starter last year, completing 58 of 97 passes for two touchdowns and two interceptions after Flacco’s season-ending knee injury. With the Ravens (3-3) riding a three-game losing streak, there’s pressure on Mallett to perform well if he plays, with the team needing a win before its bye in Week 8.
“We need to get back on track,” Mallett said. “I’m just trying to help the team any way I can.”
Asked if he had a good idea if he would play Sunday, Mallett smiled and said, “We’ll see.
“I hope the best for him (Flacco). I hope he’s out there Sunday. As a competitor, of course I want to play, but I want what’s best for the team.”
For the Ravens, the best thing would be for Mallett to play well Sunday if he’s the guy.
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OWINGS MILLS – Quarterback Joe Flacco (right shoulder) missed his second straight day of practice Thursday, as the Ravens prepared for Sunday’s road game against the Jets.
Both Flacco and head coach John Harbaugh said they were hopeful Flacco would play Sunday. But it’s clear backup quarterback Ryan Mallett will take most of the practice reps this week whether Flacco plays or not.
Flacco may not know until this weekend if he can play. Asked if he thought his status would be a Sunday-morning decision, Flacco said, “I sure hope not. I really don’t know, to be honest with you.”
Riding a three-game losing streak, the Ravens (3-3) are trying to focus on playing better, instead of Flacco’s injury. The Ravens experienced playing without Flacco in 2015 after his season-ending knee injury in 2015.
“This league is all about the next man up,” said running back Terrance West. “Everybody is behind Mallett. Everybody wants Flacco to play, but if he doesn’t, it’s about the next man up. That’s how the league goes.”
Meanwhile, the Ravens were still dealing with a host of other injuries. Absent from Thursday’s practice were wide receiver Steve Smith Sr. (ankle), linebackers Terrell Suggs (biceps), C. J. Mosley (hamstring), and Elvis Dumervil (foot); right guard Marshal Yanda (shoulder), cornerback Shareece Wright (thigh), and returner Devin Hester (thigh).
Cornerback Jerraud Powers (thigh) returned to practice after missing Wednesday, while cornerback Jimmy Smith (concussion) was wearing a non-contact jersey for the second straight day.
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