Quick Links

Ravens defense copes with rash of injuries

201212091522553248851-p2.jpeg

Ravens defense copes with rash of injuries

OWINGS MILLS, Md. (AP) The once-esteemed defense of the Baltimore Ravens is almost unrecognizable these days.

Many of the unit's most established players - including Ray Lewis, Terrell Suggs and Lardarius Webb - have sustained serious injuries. Suggs missed first six games of the season on the sideline with a torn right Achillies tendon, returned for a half-dozen games and then sat out last week with a torn right biceps. Lewis has been sidelined since Oct. 14 with a torn right triceps, and Webb is out for the year with a torn ACL.

As a result, the Baltimore defense has been uncharacteristically porous this season, especially in the fourth quarter.

The Ravens are ranked 24th in total defense, which means their nine-year run of top-10 finishes is almost certainly over. Baltimore finished in the top 5 in run defense over the previous six years, but now its ranked 25th among 32 teams.

Although head coach John Harbaugh fired offensive coordinator Cam Cameron on Monday, the Ravens' current two-game losing streak could be attributed heavily to the defense. Two weeks ago, third-string quarterback Charlie Batch moved Pittsburgh the length of the field in the waning seconds to set up a game-winning field goal. Last Sunday, the Redskins got the tying touchdown and 2-point conversion with 29 seconds left in a 31-28 win.

``We've just got to finish,'' Harbaugh said.

Injuries are mostly to blame. Washington rookie Kirk Cousins victimized reserve cornerback Chris Johnson on the last-minute touchdown pass, and third-string linebacker Josh Bynes was on the field for the conversion play because Suggs, Lewis, Jameel McClain and Dannell Ellerbe were unavailable.

Lewis and Suggs have not yet been on the field at the same time on game day, and it's quite possible the Ravens (9-4) will again be without both Pro Bowl stars when they host Peyton Manning and the Denver Broncos (10-3) on Sunday.

``Every team deals with injuries, and just it's a next-man-up mentality,'' Manning said. ``Ray Lewis is a guy we all know is hard to replace, but Baltimore always has young talent and guys ready to step in. They're aggressive on defense no matter who's in there.''

Perhaps, but the Ravens are clearly better with Suggs and Lewis in the lineup. Both practiced Wednesday, but Harbaugh said a decision on their status for Sunday would be made later in the week.

Harbaugh ruled out McClain, who has neck and back injuries. The injuries on defense run so deep that the Ravens activated cornerback Omar Brown from the practice squad on Wednesday to place Asa Jackson, who was suspended four games for violating the NFL policy on performance enhancing substances.

Asked if he's ever been a part of a defense that had so many injuries, safety Ed Reed shook his head before the question was completed.

``This is by far one of those years,'' Reed said. ``I think when coach first got here, second year, we had a lot of injuries. But not like this.''

In addition to Suggs, Lewis, McClain, Ellerbe, Webb and McClain, the Ravens have also been forced to operate at times without tackle Haloti Ngata, cornerback Jimmy Smith and end Pernell McPhee.

``It's been tough,'' Harbaugh said. ``It's been probably as many injuries as we've ever had on defense here during the last five years. We've got confidence in whoever we put out there. We are starting to get a little healthier, so it will be good to get some of those guys back.''

Ellerbe, who has missed two straight games with a sprained ankle, hopes to be available Sunday. This much he does know: Watching from the sideline is no fun.

``That's a terrible feeling, to see your guys out there fighting and trying to win the game and you can't help them,'' Ellerbe said, no doubt echoing the sentiment of many of his injured teammates. ``You know you're an asset to the team but you can't go out there and help. It's just something that's hard to deal with.''

---

Online:http://pro32.ap.org/poll andhttp://twitter.com/AP-NFL

Quick Links

Joe Flacco named Week 13 FedEx Air Player of the Week by NFL

Joe Flacco named Week 13 FedEx Air Player of the Week by NFL

With a dominating performance over the Miami Dolphins defense in Week 13, Joe Flacco was named the FedEx Air Player of the Week by the NFL. 

In the Ravens 38-6 victory, the quarterback threw for 381 yards with four touchdowns, both season-highs. He completed 36 of his 47 passes and finished with a passer rating of 119.2.

This was Flacco's first time selected as the Air Player of the Week this season. Drew Brees (three time winner) is the only quarterback to receive the award more than once.

As the winner of the award, FedEx will make a $2,000 donation to the USO in Flacco's name through FedEx Cares. 

On the year, the Raven's play caller has thrown for over 3,258 yards with a 64.6 percent completion rate. He has found the endzone 15 times but also has thrown 11 interceptions.

ALSO RAVENS: SUGGS REFUSES TO CALL TOM BRADY BY NAME

 

Quick Links

Ravens RB Buck Allen still shaken by shooting death of friend Joe McKnight

Ravens RB Buck Allen still shaken by shooting death of friend Joe McKnight

OWINGS MILLS – Ravens running back Buck Allen said Thursday that he was still shaken by the Dec. 1 shooting death of his friend, former Jets and Chiefs running back Joe McKnight. Allen went to USC, where McKnight also played college football. While McKnight and Allen never played together, they became friends and spent time socially together.

“It’s just sad that somebody like that is gone,” Allen said following Thursday’s practice. “He was trying to get in back school, get his degree. To see something like that happen really hurt me. I shed tears. I’m not even going to lie.”

McKnight was just 28 years old. He was shot in Terrytown, La., about five miles from New Orleans, by Ronald Gasser, who admitted to police that he was the shooter in an apparent road rage incident. Gasser was initially released after the shooting, but after local authorities received heavy criticism, Gasser was arrested for manslaughter Dec. 5.

“My heart goes out to Joe’s family,” Allen said. “I know it’s hard. If it’s this hard for me, I can’t imagine what his family is going through. He was a great guy, a funny guy. From what I saw, he never looked for trouble. Joe liked seeing people succeed. He liked helping younger guys. Sometimes I still think, ‘This can’t be real.’ That news that was just hard to take.”

MORE RAVENS: Suggs still won't say Brady's name