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McFadden, Goodson have sprained ankles for Raiders

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McFadden, Goodson have sprained ankles for Raiders

ALAMEDA, Calif. (AP) The Oakland Raiders have been struggling to run the ball with a healthy Darren McFadden for most of this season.

Now that McFadden and backup Mike Goodson are both dealing with high ankle sprains that put their status in doubt for this week, the Raiders could have even more concerns.

Coach Dennis Allen said X-rays and an MRI on McFadden came back negative and Goodson was undergoing an MRI on Monday. He said the team would have to see how both players respond and he would not rule them out yet for when the Raiders (3-5) play in Baltimore against the Ravens (6-2) on Sunday.

McFadden hurt his right ankle on the first or second carry of the game and tried to play through it before leaving for good just before halftime. McFadden had just seven carries for 17 yards and caught two passes for no yards in the loss.

``Darren wanted to be back out there, so that wasn't a case where you risk any further injury,'' Allen said. ``Darren is a competitor, he wanted to be back out there, so we put him back out there. Then came in at halftime, he just wasn't going to be able to do it, so we kept him out the rest of the game.''

McFadden was one of the most dynamic backs in the league the past two seasons when healthy. But he missed 19 games over his first four seasons - including nine last season - with foot, toe, shoulder, knee and hamstring injuries.

While he has been healthy so far this year, he has been far from effective, rushing for just 455 yards and two touchdowns in eight games. His 3.3 yards per carry average is sixth-worst in the league and the lowest for a Raiders player since Pete Banaszak's 3.2 average in 1976.

Goodson has shown flashes at tailback with 111 yards on 17 carries and 14 catches for 173 yards but might not be able to go.

That leaves Taiwan Jones as the only healthy halfback on the roster. Jones has one carry and one reception all season and has been limited by injuries and ball-security issues.

``That's obviously something that he's got to improve on,'' Allen said. ``He's got to make sure that he can protect the football and he's got to make sure that he understands what his assignments are. As we get more comfortable with those things, he'll earn more playing time.''

Allen said the team would look at bringing in a running back this week as insurance. The Raiders also could give more time to versatile fullback Marcel Reece, who had eight catches for 95 yards and a touchdown Sunday. Seven of those catches came after McFadden got hurt.

He also has 48 rushes for 234 yards in his career.

``Obviously with the health of our backs right now, he becomes more of an option there at the tailback position, but Marcel, he's provided some options for us,'' Allen said. ``We've used him in a lot of different ways. Now every week he doesn't catch the ball for 100 yards or rush for a 100 yards, but he's very much a part of our offense and vital to our offense.

Along with possibly signing a running back, the Raiders have roster decisions to make on injured cornerback Ron Bartell and linebacker Aaron Curry.

Bartell has been on short-term injured reserve since breaking his left shoulder blade in the season opener. He practiced all last week and would be eligible to play against the Ravens if the Raiders decide to activate him.

``It's tough to get back,'' Bartell said. ``But I definitely feel a lot better, a lot more confident. I've got another week to get prepared, and that's what I plan on doing and we'll make that decision on Saturday.''

The Raiders have to make a decision on Curry even sooner. He has been on the physically unable to perform list all season with injured knees. If he is not activated before Wednesday's practice, he would either have to be cut or placed on season-ending injured reserve.

Also, defensive tackle Desmond Bryant was resting at home Monday after spending the night the hospital with an irregular heartbeat. He did not play in the second half and will need to undergo further tests before he is able to resume practicing.

NOTES: S Matt Giordano, who left Sunday's game with a hamstring injury, wanted to return but was held out as a precaution. ... Injured CB Shawntae Spencer (right foot) will run on the field Tuesday to see how he is progressing and could practice Wednesday. ... RT Khalif Barnes (groin) will be back at practice Wednesday for the first time since Week 2 and Allen said the staff has discussed starting rookie Tony Bergstrom at right tackle in place of the struggling Willie Smith. ... Allen said there have been no discussions about bringing back CB Stanford Routt, who was waived by Kansas City on Monday.

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Ravens kick return job still up in the air

Ravens kick return job still up in the air

With two preseason games left, the Ravens appear to have little clarity in their efforts to find a kick return specialist, and although Michael Campanaro had all three punt return chances against the Colts last weekend, the Ravens aren't ready yet to declare the job his.

Last year's leading returners — Kaelin Clay and Jeremy Ross — are no longer with the team.

RELATED: MAKING SENSE OF FLACCO VS. THE LIONS

Coach John Harbaugh, the former special teams coach that he is, blasted the Ravens special teams play against the Colts, both in kick returns and in kick coverage.

"We kicked the ball to them, and they kicked the ball to us, and we got our butts kicked," Harbaugh said after the game. "That's unacceptable."

Harbaugh seemed particularly agitated about the Ravens kickoff coverage; the Colts averaged 28.0 yards per kick return, nearly 10 yards better than the Ravens (18.8).

Earlier this week, Harbaugh declared, "We have not found our punt returner or our kick returner yet."

As for kick returns, three running backs — Kenneth Dixon, Terrance West and Stephen Houston — returned kicks at Indianapolis last week with unimpressive results. West had the longest return at 23 yards, and two returns left the Ravens inside their 20-yard line.

The Ravens are giving both West and Dixon a long look as kick returner — Houston is a longshot to make the team — with the idea that a fourth running back could also contribute in the return game. Rookie Tavon Young has also been given reps as a kick returner, though he missed the Colts game with a hamstring injury.

Campanaro headlines a group of punt return candidates that includes former Navy quarterback Keenan Reynolds. Campanaro had all three punt return chances against the Colts, with one fair catch and one 21-yard return. Reynolds, who has had an inconsistent camp as a returner, served on the punt coverage team and had a tackle against the Colts but was not back as the return man at all.

Special teams coordinator Jerry Rosburg said Campanaro "showed some real positive things" against the Colts, but Rosburg was not ready to hand him the job yet.

"Michael's out there trying to win the job," Rosburg said after practice on Wednesday. "It's really not his job, it's the returner. The job belongs to the team, and he's trying to get that job."

Expect the auditions for both jobs to continue Saturday night against the Lions.

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Why Ravens' decision to play Joe Flacco against Lions makes sense

Why Ravens' decision to play Joe Flacco against Lions makes sense

OWINGS MILLS – Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco will see his first game action since last November on Saturday night, when he starts the Week 3 preseason game against the Lions.

“You need to get back out there, you need to get your mind used to getting ready for a game,” Flacco said Tuesday on Mad Dog Sports Radio with Adam Schein.

Here are three reasons why playing Flacco makes sense:

1. Flacco can benefit from playing before the regular-season opener:

Flacco has shown no indication that he is thinking about his surgically-repaired knee during practices. However, Flacco also knows that no teammates will hit him during practice. Game action will give Flacco a different feel, the test of facing tacklers who will hit him if given the opportunity. Look for the Ravens to call plays that require Flacco to get rid of the ball quickly. The Ravens don’t want Flacco to get hit. But they want him to knock off any potential game rust before the regular season starts.

2.  Flacco can build more chemistry with some of his receivers.

Wide receivers Mike Wallace and Chris Moore, as well as tight end Ben Watson, have never caught a pass from Flacco during a game. This will be a chance for them to get a better feel for each other heading into Week 1.

3. Left tackle Ronnie Stanley and rookie left guard Alex Lewis have been practicing and playing with confidence.

It’s early, but Stanley has looked more like a five-year vet than a rookie. Lewis is a physical blocker who doesn’t look intimidated by anyone, or anything. With guard John Urschel missing another day of practice on Wednesday, Lewis is expected to start next to Stanley on Saturday night. The Ravens feel their two rookies on the left side of the line can protect Flacco’s blindside well enough to the Lions away from him.

MORE RAVENS: Scrambling QB's could give Ravens problems

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Zion Harvey, Baltimore boy with hand transplant, keeps photo of Ray Lewis

Zion Harvey, Baltimore boy with hand transplant, keeps photo of Ray Lewis

This past year has changed Zion Harvey's life. Just 13-months ago, the Baltimore boy was the first child to receive a double hand transplant. He'd lost both hands and feet to a childhood infection. 

Now 9 years old, Zion made headlines earlier this month for using his new hands to throw out the first pitch at an Orioles game.

The remarkable feat hinted at the progress he'd made, but a full update on his condition hadn't been available until Tuesday. 

This video from the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, where the surgery was performed, shows all the new things Zion can do for himself. It also reveals that the little boy is a big Ravens fan.

In one poignant scene, Zion points to a group of photos hanging on his bedroom wall. They're of Jackie Robinson, Muhammad Ali and Ravens legend Ray Lewis. In the center, Zion has placed a picture of himself. 

The spunky boy also celebrated his 9th birthday with a Ravens cake, which he was able to help distribute to his friends. 

Zion made an appearance on the TODAY show Wednesday morning. He helped Al Roker do the weather forecast and sat down for an inteview with Savannah Guthrie

He said he was surprised by how far he threw that first pitch at the Orioles game. 

"I was surprised it went that far," he said. But that wasn't his first time on the mound, he explained. 

"Well I play a lot of baseball. They put me as pitcher a lot, but I'm a good batter, too," he said. "My mom was recording a video but I wouldn't say her video was the best. She was mostly jumping up and down while she was taking the video and screaming."

RELATED: Ray Lewis spoke with Michael Phelps before final race, could not be prouder