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Ravens-Falcons: The basics


Ravens-Falcons: The basics

Who: Baltimore Ravens at Atlanta Falcons

What: 2012 preseason opener

When: Thursday, Aug. 9

Where: Georgia Dome, Atlanta

TV: WMAR (Ch. 2) and WBAL Plus

Radio: WBAL (1090 AM), 98 Rock (97.9 FM)

Records: Last season the Ravens went 12-4, won the AFC North and were eliminated from the playoffs in the AFC title game, while the Falcons went 10-6, finished second in the NFC South and lost in the wild-card round

Ravens newcomers: The following veterans will make their Baltimore debuts after signing with the team as free agents during the offseason: receiverreturner Jacoby Jones, safety Sean Considine, cornerback Corey Graham, guard Bobbie Williams, nose tackle Maake Kemoeatu.

Injuries: Dennis Pitta (broken hand), David Reed (knee) and Terrell Suggs (Achilles) are out, and a number of other Ravens might not play, including Matt Birk (back), Jimmy Smith (back) and Courtney Upshaw (shoulder).

Six questions to be answered:

1) How does Paul Kruger fare against the run?

Few Ravens are under more scrutiny than the fourth-year linebacker, a starter for the first time in 2012. He fared well as a pass rusher last season but the Ravens really want to know if he can set the edge of a run defense, which is job No. 1 for a Baltimore defense. Thats one skill that can be determined to a degree in a preseason game.

2) How does Bryant McKinnie look if he plays?

The Ravens might elect to wait a week to put him on the field, seeing as he just returned to practice earlier this week. Theres little doubt Michael Oher will start at left tackle, with rookie Kelechi Osemele on the right side. But the Ravens only have a month to make sure McKinnie is still their man after his turbulent offseason, and they might want to get started.

3) Do any of the backup running backs emerge?

To this point, none of the four guys vying for the job of Ray Rices backup has stood out in training camp. Anthony Allen, Bernard Pierce, Damien Berry and Bobby Rainey should all get carries and looks in this game. Pierce, a third-round draft pick, is the guy who should do it, but if no one steps forward, the Ravens might go out and sign a veteran.

4) Does rookie Justin Tucker get the first field-goal attempt?

He is trying to take Billy Cundiffs job, and his performance in the first weeks of training camp has been lights out, even Cundiff admits. Although Cundiff remains the favorite, the Ravens are understandably curious to see if the kid with the huge leg can kick as well in a game as he does in practice.

5) How do the two rookie offensive linemen hold up?

Aside from Osemele, who has looked rugged in practices, Gino Gradkowski is expected will start at center instead of Matt Birk, who is being rested for the season. Both young linemen have exceeded the teams immediate expectations and could be in line to become regulars as early as next year. How they fare in their first game action could be telling.

6) Is Sergio Kindle really that much better?

His position coach recently said yhe young linebacker had made a quantum leap in his third season. Yet he was recently seen getting stonewalled by Osemele in a one-on-one drill. It has taken him a long time to know the game well enough to possibly show what he can do. That opportunity starts now.

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It's Friday and the Ravens still haven't announced who their starting quarterback is for Sunday

It's Friday and the Ravens still haven't announced who their starting quarterback is for Sunday

The suspense is killing us.

Will it be Lamar Jackson, Robert Griffin III or actually Joe Flacco starting for the Baltimore Ravens Sunday in the most important game of the season, in Week 11 against the Cincinnati Bengals?

Well, it's almost time for happy hour on a Friday and we still don't have a definite answer.

Flacco, who is nursing a right hip injury, did not practice this week and was listed as doubtful on the team's Friday injury report.

But the good news is that Jackson, who missed Thursday's practice with an illness, was a full participant Friday. When asked whether Jackson missing the most crucial day of practice is concerning, head coach John Harbaugh had us scratching our heads.

“It’s not ideal,” Harbaugh said. “Was it part of the plan? Apparently, it was.”

Jackson admitted that the possibility of his first NFL start Sunday would bring on a few butterflies but that once the ball was snapped,"it's on."

"You have to have trust with your guys," Jackson said Wednesday. "You have to have them believing in you to put points on the board. So, that’ll be my job if I’m out there.”

And in the latest version of 'The NFL is wild,' Robert Griffin III was the only Ravens quarterback who participated in a full week of practice.

The 2012 Offensive Rookie of the Year hasn't started an NFL game since January 1, 2017, but has stayed up to speed in case a moment like this occurred. 

"That's my job. That's why they brought me here," Griffin III said Wednesday. "They brought me here to be a pro. They brought me here to help this team if need be. I try to help the defense every week on scout team and then do those [reps], and if my number's called I'll be able to go out there and lead this team."

Prior to this week, Flacco had only been on the team's injury report eight times and had missed only three regular-season practices. In 11 years, Flacco has missed just six games, starting the last 41. 

Guard/tackle James Hurst (back) has been ruled out for the fourth week as well as Tim Williams (ankle).

Cornerback Tavon Young (ankle), tackle Ronnie Stanley (ankle) and safety Tony Jefferson (thigh) are listed as questionable. 


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Steelers players plunder Le'Veon Bell's locker a day after missed deadline


Steelers players plunder Le'Veon Bell's locker a day after missed deadline

Le'Veon Bell decided not to return to the Steelers this season, and his former teammates have apparently decided they can have his belongings. 

The All-Pro running back didn't sign his $14.5 million franchise tag by Tuesday's deadline, and thus is ineligible to play this season.

Steelers player were seen plundering his locker Wednesday in front of reporters. Defensive end Bud Dupree went right for Bell's cleats, thanking him for the Jordan brand shoes and saying he wishes Bell success.

Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger told reporters he sent Bell his well-wishes, but got no response from his former backfield mate. 

It's unclear what Bell plans to do next, but it's crystal clear the Steelers have moved on, with his shoes in tow.