Ravens

Quick Links

McKinnie's 'strange journey' ends in Super Bowl

201301272135777030960-p2.jpeg

McKinnie's 'strange journey' ends in Super Bowl

NEW ORLEANS (AP) Bryant McKinnie stood in the middle of the Superdome and marveled at the spectacle that surrounded him.

Behind the Baltimore Ravens giant left tackle, several of the team's most notable stars were seated individually at raised tables. Each space featured huge name plates and was surrounded by a blockade designed to keep the throng of interviewers at a reasonable distance. It was, after all, media day at the Super Bowl.

McKinnie looked over his shoulder in amusement. His assignment Tuesday was to simply to stand among the masses and field questions from people who crowded in with microphones held high to catch a few words from the 6-foot-8, 354-pounder.

Those who kept their arms raised long enough to hear McKinnie tell the story of his season were rewarded with quite a tale, one that began with a pay cut and ended with a starting role in his first NFL championship game.

``It's been a long, strange journey, but I like the way it's ending so far,'' McKinnie said. ``One step farther, I can complete it with a ring.''

Before starting his 11th training camp in the NFL, McKinnie was asked to accept less money because the Ravens needed to clear some salary-cap space. After a good bit of grumbling, he was OK with an incentive-laden contract.

But McKinnie's run of 60 straight starts ended in the opener, when coach John Harbaugh opted to start Michael Oher at left tackle and use McKinnie solely as a backup.

In his unaccustomed role off the bench, McKinnie hurt his hip in a game against Dallas on Oct. 14. When right tackle Kelechi Osemele got hurt the following week in Houston, McKinnie got the chance to steal away a starting spot. But he aggravated his hip injury and ended up back on the bench. One week after another went by without the opportunity to start.

Finally, before the season finale against Cincinnati, McKinnie was told by Harbaugh to prove he was healthy.

``The coach was like, `Show me that you're healed. Show me that you can move,''' McKinnie recalled. ``In the Cincinnati game, he said, `I'm going to let you play, show me you're back healthy.'''

McKinnie came off the bench and played well. In that game, left guard Jah Reid hurt his toe and was subsequently placed on injured reserve. So, in the playoff opener against Indianapolis, the Ravens put McKinnie back at his old left tackle spot, moved Oher to right tackle and plugged Osemele into Reid's spot.

It proved to be a winning combination. Now 3-0 with McKinnie as a starter, the Ravens look to complete their run Sunday against the San Francisco 49ers.

``This is a great reward,'' McKinnie said. ``I waited for my time and was able to step in there and help the team go to where it wants to be.''

Funny how things work in the NFL.

``What's Bryant been through can't be overstated,'' Ravens center Matt Birk said. ``All year, to sit and wait and wait. To his credit, he kept himself ready, kept himself in shape. He kept himself mentally ready to go. He didn't play all year, and here's (Indianapolis end) Dwight Freeney. The next week, here's (Denver's) Elvis Dumervil and Von Miller. The man's done a great job. It's a tribute to his attitude and work ethic.''

Maybe it's because of Reid's toe, or perhaps it was just McKinnie's time. Whatever the reason, Baltimore's offensive front is better than it's been all season.

``McKinnie has played well for them, and it had a domino effect,'' San Francisco defensive coordinator Vic Fangio said. ``They put Oher at right tackle, who's playing right tackle better than the guy they had in there. They moved (Osemele) to left guard and he's playing that position better than the guy they had in there.''

The 33-year-old McKinnie, meanwhile, is feeling the benefit of limited playing time from September through December.

``I'm fresher than anybody else,'' he said.

His task in the Super Bowl will be to help neutralize 49ers right tackle Justin Smith, a 12-year veteran playing with a partially torn left triceps.

``McKinnie has been a good player in this league for a long time,'' Smith said. ``I think the run they've been on, he's out there playing real good football. The mix of their offensive line right now is really working for them. They're playing the best football when they need it.''

Quick Links

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

hundley-usat.png
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

Quick Links

Three things we've learned from the Ravens so far this season

flacco-usat.png
USA TODAY Sports

Three things we've learned from the Ravens so far this season

It hasn't been pretty, that's for sure.

There were many questions for the Ravens heading into the 2017 season and halfway through, some of those questions still remain.

As rough as you may think it has been, the Ravens are only one game behind the Buffalo Bills for the sixth and final AFC playoff spot.

Wild, right?

Sitting at 4-5 with seven games to go, the season is far from over.

While there's been a lot of bad, there's also been some good. Let's start with the biggest issue.

1) Flacco, offense still trying to figure things out

Joe Flacco missed the entire preseason with a lingering back injury and many questioned how efficient he would be seeing game action for the first time in Week 1.

Well, the Ravens started off the season 2-0 and it seemed as if Flacco — in his tenth season — could just hop right back into things. But, since the 2-0 start, Flacco has been anything but "Joe Cool." In nine games, he's thrown for 1,551 yards, 8 touchdowns and 10 interceptions with a 72.7 QB rating.

Naturally, 32-year-old Flacco isn't going to be the fresh, young QB he was during his consecutive five-year playoff run. With a collapsing offensive line and no reliable receivers to throw to, it's difficult to put all of the blame on him.

Wide receivers Breshad Perriman, Jeremy Maclin and Mike Wallace have all missed playing time this season with injuries and concussions. The same applies to the Ravens' tight end group.

The team ranks dead last in the league in passing yards, but 10th in rushing yards.

However, their running back depth took a hit in July when Kenneth Dixon tore his medial meniscus in OTA's, ending his season.

Then Danny Woodhead suffered a hamstring injury in Week 1, but has returned to practice and could make his return against the Packers, and Terrance West hasn't played since Week 5 with a calf injury. 

In comes the Ravens' running back saint, Alex Collins. 

Prior to the start of the season you had probably never heard of Collins, but the 23-year-old has rushed for 521 yards this season. He gives some credit to his training in Irish dance, which he said has helped with his foot work.

And their O-line hasn't had much luck either. Starting guard John Urschel informed the team on Day 1 of training camp that he would be retiring from the game to focus on receiving his PhD in mathematics from MIT. The team then lost guard Marshall Yanda for the year with an ankle injury.

Between all of this, it's been a rough go-around for the Ravens offense. They can't seem to get much going but head coach John Harbaugh still has faith in offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg.

Now that the Ravens offense has had some time to regroup and recover, Flacco said he's ready to come back in attack mode.

REALTED: WEEK 10 NFL POWER RANKINGS

2) Defense still dominates, but not yet consistent

Spotty: spot·ty [ˈspädē/]. adj.: marked with spots. of uneven quality; patchy. See Also: 2017 Baltimore Ravens defense

The Ravens are known for their resilient defense and are currently ranking 6th overall in the league. Inside linebacker CJ Mosely leads the team in tackles, with 76 with Tony Jefferson trailing behind him at 43.

Even though the Miami Dolphins and Cincinnati Bengals aren't two of the top teams in the league, the Ravens defense shut both of them out this season. A hard accomplishment in the NFL.

On the other hand, looking at games like Week 9's matchup against the Tennessee Titans, the Ravens defense allowed Marcus Mariota and company to drive down the field for a late Eric Decker touchdown. Something they were not happy about.

And in Week 6, they lost in overtime to the 3-6 Chicago Bears.

They are definitely still a dominate force in the league, but are working out some kinks.

RELATED: 2018 NFL MOCK DRAFT 1.0

3) AFC mediocrity gives Ravens a fighting chance

The NFL in 2017 has been a bit strange. There is no core of dominating teams at the top.  More than any other season, this one appears as if success really is on a week-to-week basis. 

With the Ravens only one game behind the Bills for the sixth AFC playoff spot, there is still a glimmer of hope. And on top of that, the Ravens have the third easiest remaining schedule in the league.

After the Aaron Rodgers-less Packers in Week 11, they face the Deshaun Watson and JJ Watt-less Texans, followed by the Lions, Steelers, Browns, Colts and Bengals.

There are several winnable games there and with the team coming back from their bye week as healthy as they've been all year, it's time to rise to the occasion.