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Browns cornerback Joe Haden misses practice

Browns cornerback Joe Haden misses practice

BEREA, Ohio (AP) The Browns couldn't win without Joe Haden. They may have to try again.

Haden missed practice on Thursday with an oblique injury, and Cleveland may be missing its top cornerback - and arguably its best defensive player - on Sunday against the Dallas Cowboys.

Haden, who was suspended four games by the NFL earlier this season for violating the league's policy on performance-enhancing drugs, got hurt during a drill in Wednesday's practice. He stayed on the field and was listed as ``limited'' on the Browns' injury report, but he did not participate at all on Thursday and his status for this week's game remains uncertain.

It's another setback for Cleveland's defense, which has been ravaged by injuries all season. Starting tackle Ahtyba Rubin is expected to return this week after missing three games with a calf injury, but if Haden can't play, the Browns will again be forced to adjust.

``When anyone's down, especially a starter, it hurts,'' safety T.J. Ward said. ``Not having Joe will hurt us, but the next guy just has to step up. That's how it's been all year. We haven't had our complete defense on the field at any point. It just seems like everyone's starting to get back and Joe, I won't say he went down, but he hasn't been practicing. Hopefully we can have him this weekend.''

Haden would likely be responsible for covering Cowboys wide receiver Dez Bryant, who has 45 catches for 590 yards and three touchdowns.

While Haden served his suspension for testing positive for the stimulant Adderall, the Browns went 0-4. They're 2-2 since he returned and Haden's presence has not only bolstered Cleveland's secondary, but he has forced opposing teams to game plan differently.

Cleveland's secondary is already missing cornerback Dimitri Patterson, who has been sidelined the past four games with a severe ankle injury and has not yet been cleared to practice.

It's just been that kind of season for the Browns, who have lost starting linebackers Chris Gocong and Scott Fujita to season-ending injuries and played the first eight games without massive defensive tackle Phil Taylor, who was sidelined after tearing a chest muscle while lifting weights during the offseason.

``It would be nice to see everybody out there at the same time,'' safety Usama Young said. ``It's one of those things with football, you've always got to work through, though. You're going to have guys go down and if you're going to be a good football team, you've got to have guys step in and play at a high level. Hopefully, guys are back, but you can't even dwell on it. If you're going to be good, you've got to look past it and get the next guy in line.''

Buster Skrine would take Haden's starting spot and rookie Trevin Wade will likely get playing time at nickel back if Haden can't go.

Cornerback Sheldon Brown said the Browns can't worry about missing one player.

``We need everybody on Sunday,'' he said. ``If the quarterback is running backward, then it really doesn't matter who's in the backend. Bottom line is we need every man.''

The Browns simply weren't the same when Haden wasn't in the lineup. Quarterbacks didn't have to worry about throwing to his side of the field, and several of Cleveland's young defensive backs were exposed.

Haden was missed - badly - and his absence showed his value to the Browns.

``I didn't gain an appreciation for him because I know how talented he is,'' Young said. ``I've been watching him since his first year and now playing alongside him, you see how talented he is. In this game, when guys go down, you've got to have guys that are going to step up and play at a high level. We look forward to that on defense. We've got some young boys that are hungry, ready to play. Hopefully (Haden) will play, but we don't know yet.''

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NOTES: Browns rookie WR Josh Gordon is appealing a $20,000 fine for a block the NFL deemed as a blindside hit on Ravens safety Ed Reed on Nov. 4. Gordon was flagged for a 15-yard penalty. ``They told me it wasn't a helmet-to-helmet hit,'' Gordon said. ``It was just that he wasn't looking. He never looked my way at all. We were confused about it for a while and we still are because that's my blocking responsibility, and if I wouldn't have done it, our runner would have gotten tackled for a loss. If you don't make a play, Coach is going to look at you like, `What's going on?''' ... Special teamer Ray Ventrone was limited in practice with what the Browns listed as a ``hand/calf'' injury. Ventrone missed one game earlier this season with a broken thumb that required surgery.

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Online:http://bigstory.ap.org/NFL-Pro32 andhttp://twitter.com/AP-NFL

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Offensive, defensive and rookie of the year awards for Ravens' 2017 season

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USA Today Sports

Offensive, defensive and rookie of the year awards for Ravens' 2017 season

The Ravens' season had it's ups and down, but out of it came some bright spots.

The defense continued to prove dominate and the offense found its groove during the second half of the season, but who stood out the most?

Offensive MVP: RB Alex Collins

Collins was a late preseason pickup after being cut by the Seattle Seahawks and Ravens fans are grateful they let him go. After new acquisition Danny Woodhead injured his hamstring on the first drive in Week 1 and Terrance West injured his calf Week 5 in Oakland, Allen emerged as a saving grace. He finished the season with 973 yards, six touchdowns and 212 attempts averaging 4.6 yards-per-carry. His longest rushing attempt was 50-yards against the Steelers in Week 4, and then in Week 14, rushed 120-yards on their defense. 

RELATED: RAVENS' 2018 NFL MOCK DRAFT ROUNDUP

Defensive MVP: OLB Terrell Suggs

This one was a toss up between Suggs and inside linebacker C.J. Mosley, but considering the level at which Sizzle is playing at in his 15th season, his 2017 performance is MVP worthy.

The 35-year old finished the season with 49 combined tackles, 12 assist, 11 sacks and four forced fumbles. Suggs ranks 11th in the league in sacks and was voted to his seventh Pro Bowl, something that should be expected from the leader of a defense that finished the regular season ranked sixth in points allowed. During the Ravens' Week 12 matchup, Suggs proved he doesn't age when he strip sacked Texans QB Tom Savage with 4:44 remaining in the fourth, shifting the momentum back to the Ravens who were clinging on to a 23-16 win. He's suffered two Achilles tears and a torn bicep over the last 5.5 seasons but has remained Hall of Fame worthy. As of right now, T-Sizzle has no plans of retiring. 

RELATED: FIVE OFFSEASON QUESTIONS RAVENS MUST ANSWER

Rookie of the Year: CB Marlon Humphrey

The Ravens' 2017 first-round pick stepped up to the plate when starting CB Jimmy Smith's season was over after suffering a torn Achilles in Week 13. The rookie out of Alabama finished the season with 34 combined tackles, four assists and two interceptions. Pro Football Focus graded Humphrey the fifth-best cover corner in the league. QBs only had a 53.5 rating when they threw in his direction. PFF also gave Humphrey a 82.7 rookie rating. 

Humphrey will continue to prove his worth during the 2018 season if Jimmy Smith is still recovering come Week 1.

RELATED: IMPORTANT 2018 OFFSEASON DATES

Special Teams MVP: P Sam Koch

Koch is in his 12th season with the Ravens and he's continuing to prove how efficient that leg of his is. He had a season long of 67-yards and placed 40 of 84 punts inside the 20-yard line. Koch's accuracy earned him AFC special teams player of the week not once, but twice this season. The first came in Week 12 against the Houston Texans when he not only placed five punts inside the 20-yard line, but also faked a punt and threw a 22-yard pass to Chris Moore for a first down. The second honor came in Week 15 against the Cleveland Browns after placing four punts inside the 20-yard line, three of them inside the five. While neither Koch or kicker Justin Tucker were named to the Pro Bowl, Ravens fans never break a sweat when the game is in their hands, or should we say, legs.

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Important 2018 offseason dates for Baltimore Ravens

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USA Today Sports

Important 2018 offseason dates for Baltimore Ravens

Mark your calendars now because the Ravens are already gearing up for their 2018 season.

From the Pro-Bowl all the way to the start of the regular season, here are the key dates.

January 28th: Pro Bowl, Orlando, Fla. 

Safety Eric Weddle, outside linebacker Terrell Suggs and inside linebacker C.J. Mosley will all be in attendance. In addition, Suggs and Weddle were named starters. The game will take place at Camping World Stadium. Kickoff is at 3:00 p.m. ET on ABC and ESPN.

February 3rd: Pro Football Hall of Fame 2018 Class announced

This will be a very important day for Ray Lewis and the Ravens organization as Lewis waits to here if he will be sealed into football history, one day prior to Super Bowl LII. 

February 5th: Waiver system takes effect

The waiver system allows players' contracts or a club's NFL rights to a player available to other clubs in the league. Upon doing this, the other 31 teams can place a claim to obtain him or waive their chance. During this 24- hour period, once a club waives a player it can not take the player back or change his status. Assignments are based upon draft order until the third week of the regular season. If a player does not get claimed, he becomes a free agent. 

February 20th:  First day to franchise or transition tag a player

February 27th- March 5th: NFL Scouting Combine, Indianapolis, IN

This seven day period will be crucial for General Manager Ozzie Newsome to get a good look at potential Ravens.

March 6th: Deadline to franchise or transition tag a player

March 12-14th: Teams are allowed to contact and negotiate with agents of players scheduled to become unrestricted free agents

March 14th: Start of new league year at 4:00 p.m. ET

At this time, all 2017 player contracts expire meaning teams can begin seeking and signing free agents. Ravens free agents include Mike Wallace, Benjamin Watson, Ryan Jensen, Terrance West, James Hurst, Michael Campanaro, Steven Johnson, Ryan Mallet, Brandon Boykin, Crockett Gillmore, Brent Urban and Luke Bowanko.

March 25-28th: Owners Meeting, Orlando, FL

April 16th: Voluntary OTA's can begin

April 20th: Deadline for restricted FA's to sign offer sheets

April 26th-28th: 2018 NFL Draft, Arlington, TX

The Ravens will be heading down to Arlington, Texas in hopes of picking up their next franchise player. Positions needed include wide receiver, tight end, quarterback and outside linebacker.

May 4-7th or 11-14th: Potential three-day rookie minicamp

May 31-June 2nd: Ravens Beach Bash, Ocean City, MD

July 16th: Deadline to get long-term deal done with designated franchise tag player 

Mid-Late July: Training camp begins

August 2nd: Hall of Fame Game, Canton, OH

August 4th: Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony, Canton, OH

Again, keep this date marked as it could be the day Ray Lewis is inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

September 6th: Start of regular season