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2 NFL seasons since agreement, still no HGH tests

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2 NFL seasons since agreement, still no HGH tests

NEW ORLEANS (AP) Baltimore Ravens defensive end Arthur Jones is among those NFL players who want the league and the union to finally agree on a way to do blood testing for human growth hormone.

``I hope guys wouldn't be cheating. That's why you do all this extra work and extra training. Unfortunately, there are probably a few guys, a handful maybe, that are on it. It's unfortunate. It takes away from the sport,'' Jones said.

``It would be fair to do blood testing,'' Jones added. ``Hopefully they figure it out.''

When Jones and the Ravens face the San Francisco 49ers in the Super Bowl on Sunday, two complete seasons will have come and gone without a single HGH test being administered, even though the league and the NFL Players Association paved the way for it in the 10-year collective bargaining agreement they signed in August 2011.

Since then, the sides have haggled over various elements, primarily the union's insistence that it needs more information about the validity of a test that is used by Olympic sports and Major League Baseball. HGH is a banned performance-enhancing drug that is hard to detect and has been linked to health problems such as diabetes, cardiac dysfunction and arthritis.

``If there are guys using (HGH), there definitely needs to be action taken against it, and it needs to be out of (the sport),'' Ravens backup quarterback Tyrod Taylor said. ``I'm pretty sure it'll happen eventually.''

At least two members of Congress want to make it happen sooner, rather than later.

House Oversight and Government Reform Committee chairman Darrell Issa, a California Republican, and ranking Democrat Elijah Cummings of Maryland wrote NFLPA head DeMaurice Smith this week to chastise the union for standing in the way of HGH testing and to warn that they might ask players to testify on Capitol Hill.

Smith is scheduled to hold his annual pre-Super Bowl news conference Thursday.

``We have cooperated and been helpful to the committee on all of their requests,'' NFLPA spokesman George Atallah said. ``If this is something they feel strongly about, we will be happy to help them facilitate it.''

Several players from the Super Bowl teams said they would be willing to talk to Congress about the issue, if asked.

``I have nothing to hide. I can't speak for anyone else in football, but I would have no problem going,'' said Kenny Wiggins, a 6-foot-6, 314-pound offensive lineman on San Francisco's practice squad.

But Wiggins added: ``There's a lot more problems in the U.S. they should be worried about than HGH in the NFL.''

That sentiment was echoed by former New York Giants offensive lineman Shaun O'Hara, who now works for the NFL Network.

``Do I think there is an HGH problem in the NFL? I don't think there is. Are there guys who are using it? I'm sure there are. But is it something Congress needs to worry about? No. We have enough educated people on both sides that can fully handle this. And if they can't, then they should be fired,'' said O'Hara, an NFLPA representative as a player. ``I include the union in that, and I include the NFL. There is no reason we would need someone to help us facilitate this process.''

Issa and Cummings apparently disagree.

In December, their committee held a hearing at which medical experts testified that the current HGH test is reliable and that the union's request for a new study is unnecessary. Neither the league nor union was invited to participate in that hearing; at the time, Issa and Cummings said they expected additional hearings.

``We are disappointed with the NFLPA's remarkable recalcitrance, which has prevented meaningful progress on this issue,'' they wrote in their recent letter to Smith. ``We intend to take a more active role to determine whether the position you have taken - that HGH is not a serious concern and that the test for HGH is unreliable - is consistent with the beliefs of rank and file NFL players.''

Atallah questioned that premise.

``To us, there is no distinction between players and the union. ... The reason we had HGH in our CBA is precisely because our players wanted us to start testing for it,'' Atallah said. ``We are not being recalcitrant for recalcitrance sake. We are merely following the direction of our player leadership.''

Wiggins and other players said no one can know for sure how much HGH use there is in the league until there is testing - but that it's important for the union's concerns about the test to be answered.

``The union decides what is best for the players,'' said Ravens nose tackle Ma'ake Kemoeatu, who said he would be willing to go to Capitol Hill.

``I feel like some guys are on HGH,'' said 49ers offensive lineman Anthony Davis, who would rather not speak to Congress. ``I personally don't care if there is testing. It's something they have to live with, knowing they cheated, and if they get (outplayed) while they're on it, it's a hit on their pride.''

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Follow Howard Fendrich on Twitter athttp://twitter.com/HowardFendrich

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Ravens' defense earns third shutout of season, force 5 turnovers against Packers

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USA TODAY Sports

Ravens' defense earns third shutout of season, force 5 turnovers against Packers

GREEN BAY, Wis. -- The Baltimore Ravens forced five turnovers in their third shutout of the season, blanking the Green Bay Packers 23-0 Sunday.

Baltimore last accomplished the feat when the Ray Lewis-led defense had four shutouts for the Super Bowl-winning team in 2000; the last NFL team to have three was New England in 2003. Jimmy Smith, Eric Weddle and Marlon Humphrey each picked off passes for Baltimore (5-5), which led the NFL in interceptions entering the weekend.

"It doesn't mean (anything) if we don't make the playoffs," veteran edge rusher Terrell Suggs said about the shutouts. "If we don't get in, you won't remember them."

RELATED: THREE THINGS WE'VE LEARNED ABOUT THE RAVENS THIS SEASON

A problematic offense couldn't generate a touchdown drive until Joe Flacco's perfect deep ball to Mike Wallace over two defenders for a 13-point lead nearly two minutes into the third quarter. Flacco threw for 183 yards, going 22 of 28 with an interception.

His lone touchdown pass was still enough of a cushion against a Packers team struggling without two-time MVP quarterback Aaron Rodgers, out with a broken collarbone.

The Packers were last shut out on Nov. 19, 2006, when then-starter Brett Favre left with an elbow injury in the first half of a 35-0 loss to New England. Rodgers, then in his second year in the league, finished off that loss in relief.

Hundley, Rodgers' replacement this season, didn't fare any better.

He was 21 of 36 for 239 yards. But he threw interceptions on the Packers' first two series. On the third drive, backup running back Devante Mays fumbled on his first carry of the season.

"Our guys were playing so fast and covering so well, it just made it tough on" Hundley, Ravens coach John Harbaugh said.

Any big gains the rest of the day were negated by busted plays or penalties. The Packers (5-5) have lost four of their past five games.

"You have to take care of the football," coach Mike McCarthy said. "Offensively, that was way too much for us to overcome."

RELATED: NO SUSPENSION FOR DOLPHINS' KIKO ALONSO

Davante Adams was a lone bright spot, torching the Ravens' strong secondary for 126 yards on eight catches. The Packers actually outgained the Ravens 265-219. But turnovers sapped any momentum.

"We're not in panic mode, everything is still in front of us," Adams said. "We've got to get a grip of it real quick here. Otherwise we will be in panic mode."

Justin Tucker kicked three field goals for Baltimore. Alex Collins added a 3-yard touchdown run with 2:12 left. That score came a play after Hundley threw his third interception, returned 15 yards by Humphrey.

Collins had 49 yards on 20 carries, while Wallace finished with 56 yards on four catches.

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Ravens vs. Packers: Date, time, TV channel, live stream, how to watch

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USA TODAY Sports

Ravens vs. Packers: Date, time, TV channel, live stream, how to watch

The Ravens are back after their bye week and are headed to Green Bay, Wisconsin to take on the 5-4 Packers.

Prior to the bye week, the Ravens lost a close one to the Tennessee Titans, allowing Marucs Mariota to throw a late touchdown in the fourth to wide receiver Eric Decker. 

The first half of their season has been rough. Joe Flacco hasn't performed up to his Super Bowl MVP status and is looking to change that in their last seven games. 

RELATED: THREE THINGS WE'VE LEARNED ABOUT THE RAVENS SO FAR THIS SEASON 

Running back Danny Woodhead-who has been out since Week 1 with a hamstring injury- returned to practice and could be playing Sunday. 

The Ravens' receiving core hasn't shown up either. John Harbaugh's team is as healthy right now as they've been all season, something that will be very important in Lambeau Field. Can the Ravens get back on track and steal the sixth and final AFC playoff spot? Their first step could be against the Aaron Rodgers-less Packers.

The Packers have been without Rodgers since Week 6 and are now being lead by Brett Hundley.

Hundley currently has a 69.1% QB rating and 2 touchdowns, but is listed on their Week 11 injury report with a hamstring injury.

Packers starting running back Ty Montgomery, is listed a questionable and did not participate in Wednesday's practice with a rib injury.

RELATED: FANTASY FOOTBALL WEEK 11 RANKINGS 

They are ranked 22nd in the league in passing yards and 19th in rushing yards. Something the Ravens defense should be able to handle.

The Ravens and Packers have met five times, with the Packers leading the series 4-1. The last time they met was in October of 2013 when the Packers beat the Ravens on the road, 19-17.

Ahead of Sunday's game, here's everything you need to know to watch.

Week 11 Ravens vs. Packers Game Info:

Who: Baltimore Ravens vs. Green Bay Packers

What: Week 11 NFL regular season 

When: 1:00 p.m.. ET, Sunday, Nov. 19, 2017

Where: Lambeau Field, Green Bay, WI

TV Channel: CBS

Live Stream: fuboTV

Radio: WBAL New Radio 1090 

Point Spread: Baltimore, -2

Over/Under: 38

Weather: 30 degrees, mostly sunny

BALTIMORE RAVENS 2017 REGULAR SEASON SCHEDULE:

Week 1 (Sun, Sept. 10): 20-0  at Cincinnati Bengals (W)

Week 2 (Sun, Sept. 17): 24-10 vs. Cleveland Browns (W)

Week 3 (Sun, Sept. 24): 44-7 vs. Jacksonville Jaguars (in London) (L)

Week 4 (Sun, Oct. 1): vs. Pittsburgh Steelers, 1:00 p.m. (L)

Week 5 (Sun, Oct. 8): at Oakland Raiders, 4:05 p.m. (W)

Week 6 (Sun, Oct. 15): vs Chicago Bears, 1:00 p.m. (L)

Week 7 (Sun, Oct. 22): at Minnesota Vikings, 1:00 p.m. (L)

Week 8 (Thur, Oct. 26): vs. Miami Dolphins, 8:25 p.m. (W)

Week 9 (Sun, Nov. 5): at Tennessee Titans, 1:00 p.m. (L)

Week 10 (Sun, Nov. 12): BYE week

Week 11 (Sun, Nov. 19): at Green Bay Packers, 1:00 p.m.

Week 12 (Mon, Nov. 27): vs. Houston Texans, 8:30 p.m.

Week 13 (Sun, Dec. 3): vs. Detroit Lions, 1:00 p.m.

Week 14: (Sun, Dec. 10): at Pittsburgh Steelers, 8:30 p.m.

Week 15: (Sun, Dec. 17): at Cleveland Browns, 1:00 p.m.

Week 16: (Sat, Dec. 23): vs Indianapolis Colts, 4:30 p.m.

Week 17: (Sun, Dec. 31): vs. Cincinnati Bengals, 1:00 p.m