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Pees: Defensive rank is 'painful'

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Pees: Defensive rank is 'painful'

Ravens defensive coordinator Dean Pees told the team's official video show earlier this week that the Ravens reeling defense is "painful," and that could mean literally and figuratively.

The Ravens are the walking wounded, and their psyche has taken a pounding, too, as the Ravens have made a precipitous drop toward the bottom of most NFL defensive rankings.

Pees has tried to stay positive about it all, and really, what else can he do? Even before his defense had taken a snap in training camp, it had lost the reigning NFL Defensive Player of the Year to an Achilles injury. Now he's lost the emotional leader of the team in Ray Lewis (triceps), and its top cornerback, Lardarius Webb (knee), likely for the season.

His best down lineman, Pro Bowl defensive tackle Haloti Ngata, has been bothered by a knee injury. His Pro Bowl safety, Ed Reed has been bothered by a shoulder injury (which cost him no time, but did cost the Ravens 20 grand for not reporting it.)

And all of this comes after the Ravens suffered free agent departures of two defensive starters, Jarret Johnson and Cory Redding, who last season had helped the Ravens defense rank No. 3 overall and No. 2 against the run.

The dropoff has been alarming. The Ravens this year have yielded back-to-back 200-yard rushing games for the first time in their history, and as they lick their wounds during the bye week, they rank 26th overall and 27th against the run.

"It's a very proudful group," Pees said.  "To be where we are right now is painful to all of us, and that means all of us, coaches, players, everybody, We're not anywhere where we want to be. But at the same time, we just got to keep improving.

"We haven't changed a whole lot of things from years past. It's not like it's a bunch of new things. .. . You gotta keep yourself up, and that's a job for us as coaches, for all of us to do."

Certainly the return of Suggs should give a lift. He's got plenty of Ravens swagger in him, but it will take more than just his return to bring the Ravens defense back form. With all the injuries, can it return to form?

Pees thinks so.

"As sometimes upset as we are about ... the stats and things are on defense, we just gotta play the next game and try to improve and get it back," said Pees, in his 33rd season in coaching and ninth in the NFL. "And once it gets back, and gets going the momentum going the other way, it'll go. But we gotta get that back."

 

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Orlando Brown Jr.'s late father predicted his future with the Ravens

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Orlando Brown Jr.'s late father predicted his future with the Ravens

Rookie offensive tackle Orlando Brown Jr.'s future with the Baltimore Ravens was predicted long before he was drafted in the third-round of the 2018 NFL Draft.

His father Orlando "Zeus" Brown, who played the same position for the Ravens from 1996-98 and again in 2003-05, saw in Brown Jr. what he saw in himself.

In an NFL Films feature 'Son of Zeus,' Brown Jr. recalls being at the Ravens' training facility with his father at a young age.

"We were leaving and he was just like, you know, 'you're going to end up back here' and 'it's gonna happen dog' and 'i just foresee it,' Brown Jr. said.

Initially, "Zeus" was not for his son playing the game, wanting him to focus his attention on his education. Brown Jr. convinced his father otherwise but was taught at a young age that nothing less than dominating every single play would be accepted. 

And nearly 15 years after predicting his son's future and seven years after his sudden death, "Zeus's" epiphany came true when Brown Jr. received a phone call from Ravens general manager Ozzie Newsome in April.

"The first thing he said, 'you're not kidding me are you? Is this for real?,' Newsome said on how Brown Jr. reacted. "And I go, 'yes, it's for real.'"

It was almost like a higher power was involved in the connection.

“Hey, your dad’s smiling down right now,” Newsome added.

"It was like almost like emotionally overwhelming you know just for the situation," Brown Jr. said.

During his six years with the Ravens, "Zeus" helped Jamal Lewis hit 2,000 rushing yards and even turned down larger offers to stay in Baltimore to be closer to his children.

Now 10 games into the season, Brown Jr. is playing in a way his late father would be proud of. He started four games and is proving to be a valuable addition to the offensive line.

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Ravens' John Harbaugh wants it known Lamar Jackson can and will throw the ball more

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Ravens' John Harbaugh wants it known Lamar Jackson can and will throw the ball more

BALTIMORE -- In a league that relies heavily on the forward pass, the Baltimore Ravens have gone old-school in their bid to reach the NFL playoffs.

With quarterback Lamar Jackson leading the way , the Ravens rushed for 265 yards Sunday in a 24-21 victory over the Cincinnati Bengals. Jackson ran 27 times for 117 yards, Gus Edwards garnered 115 yards on the ground and both rookies rushed for seven first downs.

There's a good chance Jackson will start for the injured Joe Flacco again Sunday when the Ravens (5-5) host the Oakland Raiders (2-8). If Jackson is the starter, it's unlikely he will again slither, slide and scramble with the ball 27 times.

"Yeah, you don't want your quarterback getting hit that much," coach John Harbaugh said Monday. "It's not going to last that way. So, that's pretty self-evident."

That said, Harbaugh mocked those people concerned about Jackson's workload.

"Oh, he had 27 carries," Harbaugh said. "You know what he did? He won the game. He played his tail off. Celebrate that, and move on."

Whatever it takes to win.

"It's not what we're going to be shooting for by any stretch, but if it takes that many, Lamar will do it," Harbaugh said. "But, no, he took some hits. I think they knew the quarterback was going to run the ball. They were going after him a little bit, as you would expect. That's something that we have to look at going forward."

Selected 32nd overall in the 2018 draft, Jackson was thrust into the starting lineup because Flacco has a right hip injury that has been slow to heal and could keep him sidelined against the Raiders.

"He has a chance," Harbaugh said, without much conviction.

Jackson ran 655 times at Louisville and won the 2016 Heisman Trophy for his ability to carry the ball, not throw it. On Sunday, his carries accounted for more than a third of Baltimore's 73 offensive plays, and the Ravens finished with 54 rushing attempts compared to 19 passes.

Harbaugh bristled when someone asked him about Jackson's ability to throw the football, and where that fits into the game plan moving forward.

"Yeah, we're going to throw the ball more down the road," Harbaugh insisted. "All this veiled stuff, `Is he really a thrower?' I got news for you: He's a thrower. He's a quarterback. I don't appreciate the insinuation of the question. Lamar Jackson is a quarterback."

He's a quarterback with 256 yards rushing -- second on the team behind Alex Collins -- and 237 yards passing. Collins scored a touchdown against the Bengals, but his playing time was sheared by Edwards, an undrafted rookie free agent who got 17 carries and played most of the second half.

Edwards, who scored his first NFL touchdown , got the call because of the way he's excelled in the days leading up to game day.

"He's been practicing great," Harbaugh said. "It has been a goal to get him more carries before this."

Baltimore's 265 yards rushing against Cincinnati was tied for the fifth most in franchise history, and it marked the first time in NFL history that a team had a rookie quarterback and rookie running back each top 100 yards rushing.

After he was done, Jackson made one final run -- after the referee to snag the game ball.

"However you move the ball is good. You do it based on your personnel," Harbaugh said. "You want it to be a mix, but in the end, the players deserve the credit for running the ball so well."

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