OWINGS MILLS – A big game against the Ravens last year helped put Joe Morgan on Baltimore’s radar.
The Ravens signed Morgan on Wednesday, hoping his speed will help ease the sting of losing wide receiver Steve Smith (Achilles injury) for the season. Playing for the Saints last year on Monday Night Football, Morgan burned the Ravens for a 67-yard run on an end-around, and caught a 62-yard completion from Drew Brees.
That big-play ability at wide receiver is something the Ravens need, and Morgan believes he can provide it, particularly playing with a strong-armed quarterback like Joe Flacco.
“I’m playing (in New Orleans) with a Hall of Fame quarterback in Drew Brees, and yet come up here, you’re playing with a guy like Joe Flacco, which you can say in the same sense is a Hall of Fame-type quarterback. There’s no fall off at all. He’s going to be there, available for me if I need questions or help with any of the things that the offense entails.”
Morgan wants to be more than just a deep threat.
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“I can run with the best of them,” Morgan said. “I’ve been saying it my whole career, I want to be labeled more than just a speed receiver. I’m trying to work on all my routes, everything on the route tree. Learning the offense fast is going to help me get on the field and be able to contribute.
“There’s no (Ravens) game on Sunday. It’s a bye week. That essentially gives me like 10 days to learn this offense. I don’t think it’s going to take me that long.”
Their record and performance over the last month may not show it, but the Baltimore Ravens are just one game out of the No. 6 playoff spot in the AFC.
The Kansas City Chiefs (9-1), Los Angeles Chargers (7-2), Pittsburgh Steelers (6-2), New England Patriots (7-3), Houston Texans (6-3), Cincinnati Bengals (5-4), Tennessee Titans (5-4) and the Miami Dolphins (5-5) all rank above the Ravens. But a win Sunday against the Bengals would push the Ravens to the No. 6 spot as they own the head-to-head tiebreaker against the Titans.
Beside remaining in playoff contention, a win Sunday is crucial considering head coach John Harbaugh's job is in question with his team sitting at 4-5, quarterback Joe Flacco is reportedly dealing with a hip injury and the possibility of rookie Lamar Jackson getting his first NFL start.
After getting blown out 51-14 by the Saints, the Bengals fired defensive coordinator Teryl Austin on Monday. Cincinnati's defense ranks last in the league in passing yards allowed (313.3) and total yards allowed (454.6). A rested Ravens team will have to take advantage of the first team in the Super Bowl era to surrender 500 yards in three straight games as they are among five teams within one game of the final wildcard spot.
Getting shutout by the Bengals this season would give Andy Dalton and co. a two-game lead over the Ravens as well as possessing the tiebreaker.
According to the New York Times' NFL Playoff Simulator, the Ravens have a 27% chance of making the playoffs heading into Week 11 with their remaining strength of schedule ranking at No. 27.
After hosting the Bengals on Sunday, the Ravens host the Oakland Raiders (1-7), Tampa Bay Buccaneers (3-6) and Cleveland Browns (3-6), but have tough road games against the Atlanta Falcons (4-5), Kansas City Chiefs (9-1) and Los Angeles Chargers (7-2).
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Baltimore Ravens quarterback Robert Griffin III is the team's nominee for the Salute to Service Award presented by USAA.
Presented annually by USAA and the NFL, the award honors a league member who demonstrates an exemplary commitment to honoring and supporting the military community.
The Robert Griffin III Foundation supports Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors (TAPS), that helps aid those grieving the death of a loved one who served in the military; Luke's Wings, which united wounded warriors, veterans and heroes with their loved ones; and the Bob Woodruff Foundation, that helps ensure injured veterans and their families are thriving when they return home.
Griffin III was born in Okinawa, Japan where his parents were stationed as U.S. Army sergeants. The quarterback spent time living in Fort Carson, Colorado, Seoul, Korea and Fort Hood, Texas as a military kid. His family then settled in Cooperas Cove, Texas, an hour drive from Baylor University where Griffin III attended college.
Finalist for the award will be announced in January. The recipient will be recognized at the NFL Honors award show Saturday, Feb. 2, on the eve of Super Bowl LIII.
RGIII's head coach, John Harbaugh, received the honor in 2013.
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