Ravens

Quick Links

Browns ink QB Johnson; Weeden, McCoy miss practice

Browns ink QB Johnson; Weeden, McCoy miss practice

BEREA, Ohio (AP) The Browns are down to their last game and a third-string quarterback. With major change looming, they're ending another losing season in disarray.

With both quarterbacks Brandon Weeden and Colt McCoy missing practice Wednesday with right shoulder injuries, Thad Lewis took first-team snaps during Cleveland's workout. Rookie running back Trent Richardson remained out with a sprained left ankle.

Elevated from the practice squad Monday, Lewis could make his NFL debut in Pittsburgh on Sunday. If it happens, his backup could be Josh Johnson, signed as a free agent Wednesday.

``If I get the start, it will be wonderful,'' Lewis said. ``I will be living out a childhood dream.''

While the 25-year-old Lewis is excited, disappointed Browns fans are anticipating more impactful changes. New owner Jimmy Haslam and CEO Joe Banner have promised to revamp the organization. That could include the coaching staff.

Kick returner Josh Cribbs knows beating Pittsburgh - no matter who plays quarterback - couldn't hurt coach Pat Shurmur's future.

``A win means a lot for the city and the coaching staff as well,'' said Cribbs, who has had three head coaches in eight years in Cleveland and doesn't seem to favor more moves.

``Every year you have a constant rebuilding process, not a good recipe for successful football,'' he said.

A new quarterback Sunday could come from sheer necessity. McCoy's injury was revealed Wednesday, though he made no mention of it Sunday in the wake of the 34-12 loss in Denver.

McCoy replaced Weeden in the second half against the Broncos and was sacked four times in his limited appearance. Shurmur said he didn't know if one particular play caused the problem.

``Colt came in and told us he was sore,'' Shurmur said. ``He came in and got treatment.

``The injuries to Brandon and Trent are not as severe as you might have thought. We'll see how they come back. If they are healthy and can go, then of course they'll play. If they can't, I have no problem ruling them out.''

Shurmur also did not rule out McCoy, who has not started since sustaining a concussion in Pittsburgh on Dec. 8, 2011.

When the Browns (5-10) play the Steelers (7-8), they will be seeking their first season series sweep since 1988. It would be a pleasant cap to Cleveland's 11th season of 10-plus losses in 14 years.

They could be trying to do it with Lewis in command. He would be the 21st passer used by the Browns since 1999.

``Hmmm,'' said Lewis when asked when he last started. ``That would be college, (against) Wake Forest in 2009.''

The 25-year-old from Duke was on St. Louis' practice squad in 2010 when Shurmur was a Rams assistant. The Browns claimed him on waivers in September 2011. He has gone through the paces at every offensive position except line play on the scout team for two years.

``Whatever the coach wants me to do,'' he said. ``Right now, my job is to take reps with the 1s.''

Shurmur played Lewis quite a bit in exhibition games this past summer. He added that Johnson, who played 26 games for Tampa Bay over three seasons, is familiar with the Browns' West Coast offense, but needs time to learn the entire playbook.

``Whoever's in there I trust,'' Shurmur said. ``(Johnson) has crossed path with a lot of our concepts. We felt like he would be a good guy to bring in. If he has to go in, I'm sure we'd have to pare it way down, which is the case when you bring in a guy with just a couple of days of preparation. But, we'd be confident he can go in and at least execute.''

Johnson took safety Usama Young's roster spot. Young likely will need thumb surgery, one week after cornerback T.J. Ward went out for the season with a knee injury. Cornerback Sheldon Brown sustained a concussion in Denver and the Browns have signed defensive back Jordan Mabin to the practice squad.

Shurmur is holding auditions to start at safety. ``(Ray) Ventrone, (Eric) Hagg and then (Tashaun) Gipson will practice today,'' he said.

Gipson missed the Denver game with a foot injury, but said he is fine. He's eager to play Pittsburgh quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, who was hurt and missed the first meeting in Cleveland, a 20-14 Browns win on Nov. 25.

``Going against Big Ben, that's a talent I haven't faced yet as a rookie,'' said Gipson, signed as an undrafted free agent in May. ``I want to do it. It's a good test.''

NOTES: Johnson started five games for the Buccaneers after being a fifth-round choice in 2008, throwing for five touchdowns and 10 interceptions overall. He was in San Francisco's camp this summer. ... TE Jordan Cameron (concussion) also did not practice. ... Some players bolted outdoors after indoor practice for a brief, spirited snowball fight in a winter storm.

---

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

Quick Links

After breakout 2017 season, Ravens running back Alex Collins isn't getting too comfortable

collins-otas-ap.png
AP Images

After breakout 2017 season, Ravens running back Alex Collins isn't getting too comfortable

This time last year, running back Alex Collins wasn't a part of the Baltimore Ravens.

After being released by the Seattle Seahawks at the end of the 2017 preseason, the Ravens placed the 23-year-old on their practice squad, and by Week 2, Collins was already making plays.

As the season progressed, Collins found himself as the Ravens' top running back. He finished 2017 as the team's leading rusher with 973 yards while Javorius "Buck" Allen followed behind him with 591 yards.

If the 2018 NFL season began today, Collins would likely be the Ravens' starter, which is quite ironic considering the fate of his 2017 preseason.

"I always go back to where I started and where I am now, and I use that as my motivation," Collins said after Thursday's training camp practice.

"No matter the day, no matter how tired I am, I think to myself, at this time last year, I didn’t know my position, where I was, where I’d end up. So just having that security behind it is definitely my motivation to keep it this way and keep pushing forward and keep trying to get better instead of being complacent.”

Over the course of 15 games, Collins proved he had the strength and speed to make an impact on the team after Danny Woodhead suffered a hamstring injury on the first drive of the Ravens' Week 1 game and Kenneth Dixon sat out the entire season with a torn meniscus. 

While job security is something we all strive for, Collins isn't getting too comfortable with the hierarchy. 

“I don’t want to say necessarily ‘comfortable,’ because when I use that word, it makes me feel like I’m too relaxed and lackadaisical," Collins said.

"I’m more focused. I don’t want to get comfortable. I don’t want the team or our group to get comfortable, because we just want to get better every day. So, in the position I am, it’s a great feeling, but I’m always pushing myself to be better.”

While Collins has set personal goals for himself – like a 1,000-yard season – he is equally as focused on making the Ravens backfield one of the best groups in the National Football League. 

“I expect that," Collins said on being the Ravens' starter.

"I would hope that all the other running backs expect [to be the starter] as well, and that’s what kind of drives our group – when we all know that we have that capability to be the No. 1 guy, and we’re out competing and push each other and try to be the best. No matter who’s out there during the game, you’ll see a productive play out of that person. So, I have that mindset. I want to be the guy. I have that fire in me, and I hope [that is] as well as the other running backs, as I encouraged them as well.”

Collins noted that he's coming into training camp a bit heavier. He added five pounds to his 200-pound frame "just to see how that feels," but is still maintaining the stamina and strength he's always had. 

Collins – who was one of several veterans released from practice early as the team begins to adjust their way into the extended preseason – finished his media availability with a friendly warning to fantasy football owners: "Draft me now before it’s too late, guys."

MORE RAVENS NEWS:

Quick Links

Joe Flacco receives high praise from teammates after first training camp practice

flacco-trainingcamp-usat.png
USA TODAY Sports

Joe Flacco receives high praise from teammates after first training camp practice

Ravens football is back and so is Joe Cool.

The team’s first training camp practice took place Thursday afternoon, and Joe Flacco’s teammates – from offensive to defensive players – mentioned how laser focused the 10-year veteran is.

"Joe always has a lot of personality,” running back Alex Collins said via SB Nation’s Baltimore Beatdown.

“He is a good guy. He’s a real funny guy, but definitely coming into this year, he has a lot of fire behind him. And it does a lot motivating us especially early when we first reported back. Just seeing him work hard and just seeing him get better every day. He’s definitely got a lot of fire behind him this year.”

Flacco is entering the final year of his contract with a lot on the line following a disappointing start to the 2017 season. But a huge factor that is different for the 33-year old coming into this preseason opposed to last is his health.

“Most definitely,” Collins said on whether he can tell if Flacco is healthier this year. “He’s a lot faster as well, by the way, guys.”

And when it comes to the “Is Joe Flacco elite” debate, linebacker C.J. Mosley knows the consensus within the Under Armour Performance Center.

“I think every year [Joe Flacco] comes in with his mindset that he wants to be great,” Mosley said.

“Mainly because everybody outside of this building does not think he is elite and inside the building, everybody does think that way. Since Joe has been here, you know he is one of those players that never gets rattled. You never see his emotions too high, too low. He’s been our quarterback that kinda stays in the middle to make sure everything goes smooth. That’s kinda how he has been this offseason too. He’s come in looking strong, body looking good.”

Flacco’s health is up to speed as well as his mentality. Flacco organized private workouts with his wide receivers and tight ends at a local park across from the Ravens’ facility last week. This is the first time he has done so since 2011. When asked if he initiated the session, Michael Crabtree gave all the credit to his new quarterback.

“No, that’s all Flac [Flacco], man,” Crabtree said. “That’s the leader. We’re just the wideouts. [We] do whatever he says. If we’ve got something we bring to the table, then we make it work.”

 

MORE RAVENS NEWS: