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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AFC North: Steelers LB James Harrison will return for 2016

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AFC North: Steelers LB James Harrison will return for 2016

The Ravens can expect to see Steelers outside linebacker James Harrison as an opponent again in 2016. Harrison confirmed on his Instagram account Monday that he would return for another season.

Harrison will turn 38 years old Wednesday (May 4), but he was still effective in 2015 with five sacks and 40 tackles playing in the Steelers’ linebacker rotation. With his announcement that he was returning, Harrison wrote “I’m feeling just like a fine wine. Getting better with age.”

Despite Harrison’s age, the Steelers believe they got younger and better on defense through the draft. Five of the Steelers’ seven picks were on defense – cornerback Artie Burns (first round), safety Sean Davis (second), defensive tackle Javon Hargrave (third round), outside linebacker Travis Feeney (sixth round), and inside linebacker Tyler Matakevich (seventh round).  

Clearly, there will be plenty of new names in the Ravens-Steelers rivalry, with both teams looking to get younger and faster. However, Harrison plans to be part of the mix for at least another season. The Ravens host the Steelers in Week 9, and visit the Steelers on Christmas afternoon.

MORE RAVENS: BISCIOTTI GETS HIS WISH WITH BOLSTERED PASS RUSH

Bisciotti gets his wish with draft class full of pass rushers

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Bisciotti gets his wish with draft class full of pass rushers

At the team's "State of the Ravens" end-of-season news conference, owner Steve Bisciotti made no bones about where he thought the Ravens needed to improve in 2016: rushing the passer.

So although Bisciotti didn't speak to the media after the draft, he had to be pleased with the results.

With two of their first three picks, the Ravens selected players who figure to pressure the quarterback -- Boise State linebacker Kamalei Correa and Brigham Young defensive end Bronson Kaufusi.

"They both have pass rush ability," coach John Harbaugh said. "They both get sacks, they are both high-motor players and high-energy pass rushers. These two guys are going to run to the ball. These two guys are going to run to the ball 100 miles an hour every single play. That’s really important on defense.”

The next day, the Ravens added Grand Valley State defensive end Matt Judon -- who had 20 sacks last year -- in the fifth round. Just for good measure, they also reportedly agreed to sign undrafted rookie linebacker Victor Ochi of Stony Brook, who led the Football Championship Subdivision with 13 sacks.

Harbaugh said after the draft that "I don't think it was a secret" that Bisciotti wanted the Ravens to upgrade the pass rush, "and we were able to fill (that need). I’m really fired up about that. I’m really excited about these guys getting to the quarterback.”

Bisciotti said in January that losing Terrell Suggs to a season-ending injury in Week 1 had a "domino effect" that greatly disrupted the defense. Elvis Dumervil was forced into more of a three-down role, and Courtney Upshaw never came close to replacing Suggs' sack numbers. Dumervil dropped from 17 sacks to six, and overall the Ravens dropped from 49 sacks in 2014 to 37 last season.

When the pass rush failed to pressure the quarterback, coverage linebackers or defensive backs were frequently exposed.

"I think I have a true appreciation of what pressure means, and so that’s what I think we need to do," Bisciotti had said in January. "I think we need to focus on our free agency and our draft, and I think we have to have multiple pass rushers in order to let everybody else be effective.”

Suggs turns 34 in October and is coming off his second major Achilles injury. Dumervil is 32. So the need to develop good young pass rushers is obvious. The Ravens hope they took a big step in that direction over the weekend.

MORE RAVENS: EVALUATING ALL FIVE 4TH-ROUND SELECTIONS

Will Ravens' record-setting fourth-round bonanza live up to the hype?

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Will Ravens' record-setting fourth-round bonanza live up to the hype?

Will the Ravens’ fourth-round haul live up to the hype?

No team in NFL history had ever made five fourth-round picks, and some felt the Ravens hit on all of them. ESPN draft analyst Todd McShay says, “This might be the best fourth round I’ve ever seen from a team.”

Here’s a closer look at how the five players the Ravens selected in Round 4 could fit in next season:

Tavon Young, CB, Temple (104th overall)

Young will compete for a nickel corner spot as a rookie. Barring injuries, the only certainty about the Ravens secondary is Jimmy Smith starting at one corner and Eric Weddle starting at safety. Young will compete for playing time with Shareece Wright, Kyle Arrington, Will Davis, and others. But if Young plays regularly as a rookie and helps them win games, it’s a steal.

Chris Moore, WR, Cincinnati (107)

Moore has legit deep speed, joining Breshad Perriman and Mike Wallace as receivers that can stretch the field for quarterback Joe Flacco. Think about it, the Ravens didn’t’ have Perriman, Wallace, or Moore on the field last season. If Moore has a strong training camp, the Ravens will find a way to get him some opportunities. Remember the big plays Torrey Smith and Jacoby Jones made during the Super Bowl year? The Ravens hope Wallace, Perriman, and Moore provide that kind of impact.

Alex Lewis, OT, Nebraska (130)

If the Ravens part with left tackle Eugene Monroe, Lewis could become the backup at left tackle behind first-round pick Ronnie Stanley. Lewis could also be the backup to right tackle Rick Wagner. Either way, Lewis could be one injury away from playing.

Willie Henry, DT, Michigan (132)

He’s the fourth-rounder with the hardest path to immediate playing time. The Ravens are deep at defensive tackle with Brandon Williams, Timmy Jernigan, and Carl Davis. But if Henry shows he can help as a run stopper, he’ll be part of the defensive line rotation.

Kenneth Dixon, RB, Louisiana Tech (134)

Some thought Dixon was the best pass-catching back in the draft. Justin Forsett will enter camp as the starter, but the Ravens want to keep him fresh. It’s a crowded running back group right now, but Buck Allen and Lorenzo Taliaferro both saw playing time as rookie running backs. Dixon will too, if he shows he’s ready to make plays.

MORE RAVENS: A WAY TOO EARLY NFL DRAFT TOP 10