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McKinnie still a starter ... on paper

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McKinnie still a starter ... on paper

A little more than one week into the grind of training camp, a depth chart is now up on the Ravens official website.

No one is going to hold the coaches to anything published there, because it obviously can change, but some of the positional rankings are interesting, to say the least.

For instance:

Bryant McKinnie is listed as the starting left tackle, opposite Michael Oher as the starting right tackle, with Kelechi Osemele backing up Oher. (Comment: McKinnie hasn't practiced yet after reporting late to training camp, but the Ravens obviously haven't "given up" on him, as some believe.)

Arthur Jones is holding down the starting defensive end spot ahead of Pernell McPhee. (Comment: A knee injury put McPhee behind in one of the team's biggest training camp battles, but he is back on the field now.)

Courtney Upshaw is in Terrell Suggs spot as the starting rush linebacker, backed up by Sergio Kindle, while Paul Kruger has taken over Jarret Johnsons job as the strong-side sam linebacker, backed up by Albert McClellan. (Comment: The depth chart generally favors incumbents and players who have been on the team, but Upshaw is penciled in to start as a rookie.)

Cary Williams is listed as the starting cornerback opposite Lardarius Webb, with Jimmy Smith backing up Webb. (Comment: Could be an example of the depth chart favoring incumbents. Williams and Smith are battling for a starting job, but regardless of who wins, both will play.)

Jacoby Jones is listed as the No. 1 guy for returning both kickoffs and punts. (Comment: The punt return job is his. The question is will he returns kickoffs, too.)

Anthony Allen is the No. 2 running back behind Ray Rice, followed by (in order) Damien Berry, Bernard Pierce and Bobby Rainey. (Comment: Don't believe what you read. Pierce, as a third-round draft pick, is the favorite, and Rainey, an undrafted rookie, is turning heads. This is wide open.)

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John Harbaugh has zero time for Ravens banter, media scrutiny

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USA TODAY Sports

John Harbaugh has zero time for Ravens banter, media scrutiny

On Sunday, the Baltimore Ravens will play the most crucial game of their 2018 season when they host division rival Cincinnati Bengals in Week 11 of the 2018 NFL Season.

Sitting at 4-5 and third in the AFC North, playoff contention and job security have filled the headlines of local media outlets. Mix in an injured quarterback to the equation, and suddenly this below .500 Ravens team has the attention of the nation.

The unwanted attention is something the Ravens have experienced before, having missed the playoffs each of the previous three seasons. However, the unwanted attention Baltimore is getting 11 weeks into the season is more potent than ever.

Head coach John Harbaugh isn't here for any of it.

"We’ll write the story of the Ravens’ 2018 season by how we play in the next seven weeks," Harbaugh said Monday via the team's website.

"That’s what our guys are juiced up for. All the other stuff is just fluff; it’s just noise; it’s just banter. It’s barroom talk. Turn on the TV, it’s two guys talking in the bar, supposedly – except it’s all choreographed, you know? ‘You take this side, I’ll take that side.’ It’s all B.S. We don’t care! We have to go play."

The Ravens enter this matchup with a fresh mentality and a fresh set of legs after spending Week 10 on their bye.

Three straight losses is enough to invade anyone's headspace after starting their season 3-1. But with seven games to play, Harbaugh is reminding his team they're in control of their own destiny. 

"I told the guys, ‘Have you watched the NFL? It’s week-to-week. This is how it goes. Crazy things happen.’ We’re right there. We’re in the hunt just like everybody else. We’re fighting."

Mathematically, the Ravens aren't out of the hunt yet. Despite their record, they are just one game out of the final wildcard spot in the AFC.

The 27% chance they have at the moment of making the playoffs is certainly nothing to write home about, but a win on Sunday makes January football look less far-fetched. 

"It will be determined over the course of the next seven games who is going to make the playoffs," Harbaugh said. "It won’t be determined by what’s gone before. It will be determined by what goes forward. If we want to be one of those teams, then we have to go earn it – make it happen. There are those who write history and those who make history. Well, you know what? If you have a chance to make history, then you write the history, too"

The head coach will be writing his own history over the next seven weeks as well. The reports that his job status is on the line after 11 seasons can be added to the laundry list of things Harbaugh's not worried about.

"Again, it’s just noise; it doesn’t matter; it means nothing. It’s not something that I’m going to think about or concern myself with. Neither are the players, neither is Steve [Bisciotti], neither is Kevin [Byrne], or Ozzie [Newsome] or anybody else. You know what we want to do as an organization? We want to win – that’s what we want to do. We want to win. We’re fighting as hard as we can – coaches, players – as an organization to win. That’s it. All the other stuff – who cares?”

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Joe Flacco's status for Sunday's game vs. Bengals 'up in the air'

Joe Flacco's status for Sunday's game vs. Bengals 'up in the air'

OWINGS MILLS, Md. -- Carrying a three-game losing streak and a losing record, the Baltimore Ravens now face the burden of uncertainty at the quarterback position.

Joe Flacco is nursing a hip injury that could keep him out of Sunday's game against Cincinnati, an AFC North matchup that carries huge ramifications for the sagging Ravens.

With Baltimore coming off a bye, Flacco received an additional week of rest and treatment after sustaining the injury on Nov. 4 in the opening minutes of a 23-16 loss to Pittsburgh.

Flacco went the distance, completed 23 of 37 passes for 206 yards. His status this week, however, is unclear.

"He's getting treatment, just like all the guys are getting treatment, and we'll see," coach John Harbaugh said Monday. "I'd say that we'll know more as the week goes on and I'm hopeful all our guys play, including Joe."

If Flacco can't play, rookie Lamar Jackson will likely get his first NFL start, although veteran Robert Griffin III is also an option. Griffin gets the nod in NFL experience, but he's been inactive in every game this season while Jackson has been used periodically because of his ability to run.

"It's up in the air. We're not worried about it," Harbaugh insisted. "We're blessed with a good quarterback room. It's a good thing, that's a positive thing. We've got three guys who can play. It's just like any other position in my mind. You go with the next guy and you roll."

The Ravens (4-5) reached their bye week with losses to New Orleans, Carolina and Pittsburgh. The skid ruined a decent start and left the team in recovery mode as it seeks to snap a run of three straight seasons without reaching the playoffs.

This is the 11th season that Harbaugh and Flacco have been together in Baltimore, and the coach would love to see his quarterback rally the Ravens into the postseason.

"Any direction we decide to go or we're forced to go, it will be based on the health of Joe. If Joe can play, he'll play," Harbaugh said. "He's rehabbing to play. Joe does not have to practice to play. He's practiced the whole season, he's practiced for 11 years. But he might practice. We just have to see how it goes."

The 33-year-old Flacco has played through many an injury throughout his career. He did so against the Steelers. His teammates feel that if he can walk, he will play.

"Joe is one of the toughest guys I've played with, maybe the toughest guy," guard Marshal Yanda said. "You never see him limping around, you never see him on the field showing any sign of weakness. He's just been a rock for us. I have nothing but respect for the guy."

Tackles Ronnie Stanley (ankle) and James Hurst (back) did not play against the Steelers, but both are expected to return Sunday when the Ravens begin a stretch -- with or without Flacco -- that will define their season.

"We're in the hunt," Harbaugh said. "We'll write the story of the Ravens' 2018 season by how we play in the next seven weeks. That's what our guys are juiced up for. Get the Cincinnati Bengals in as fast as we can, and let's go play the game.

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