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Ravens fans face tall task protecting home field advantage Sunday

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Ravens fans face tall task protecting home field advantage Sunday

How much of a home field advantage will the Ravens really have Sunday when they host the Steelers? We know Steelers fans travel well. We know this is a huge game for the Steelers (9-5) as they battle to make the playoffs.  We know the Ravens (4-9) are out of the playoff picture, and some fans may be looking to unload tickets, especially two days after Christmas.

This could set up an interesting scenario at M&T Bank Stadium, where an invasion of Terrible Towels could take place. Ravens coach John Harbaugh knows the situation, and hopes Ravens’ fans will protect their house.

“It’s a rivalry game,” Harbaugh said. “It’s the Pittsburgh Steelers. We understand they’re coming in here with a lot at stake, and I’m sure a lot of their fans are going to be trying to get in the stadium as well. But I’m sure our fans will be up to the challenge as well.”

The Ravens will need all the help they can get Sunday. Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger may be playing the best football of his career, and wide receiver Antonio Brown leads the NFL in receiving yards (1,586). Meanwhile, the Ravens remain injury-depleted, with tight end Crockett Gillmore becoming the eighth starter to go on the injured list Monday.

Yet, Ravens fans have remained supportive at home games, even though the last two losses – 35-6 to the Seahawks and 34-14 to the Chiefs, have been difficult for Ravens fans to watch.

“It’s our home game, so I expect most of our fans to be there,” Harbaugh said. “I think they’ll be fired up.

“One thing I’ve learned through all this is (that) I don’t believe we have fair-weather fans. That’s, to me, very evident, and I’ve been grateful for the response that our team has gotten from the fans.”

But with many Steelers’ fans expected to make a weekend trip to Baltimore, the Ravens may have a harder time than usual turning Sunday’s home crowd in their favor.

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Jimmy Smith returns to practice for first time in over a month

Jimmy Smith returns to practice for first time in over a month

OWINGS MILLS, Md. — The Ravens got some help in the secondary on Wednesday from someone not named Marcus Peters. 

Cornerback Jimmy Smith returned to practice for the first time in over a month and took part in individual drills, coach John Harbaugh said Wednesday. 

Smith suffered a Grade 2 MCL Sprain in the first week of the season against the Dolphins and hasn’t played or practiced since. 

With the addition of Peters, the Ravens are hoping to be healthier than they’ve been in a while at the cornerback spot.

Smith was listed on the injury report as a limited participant and his status for Sunday’s game against the Seahawks is still unknown. 

The Ravens rank 25th in the NFL against the pass this season and are looking to get the 30-year-old corner back in the fold. 

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Adding Marcus Peters has John Harbaugh and the Ravens secondary pumped

Adding Marcus Peters has John Harbaugh and the Ravens secondary pumped

OWINGS MILLS, Md. — Help is on the way for the Ravens secondary. 

With the addition of Marcus Peters, the Ravens are hopeful to boost a depleted secondary due to injuries. Tavon Young, Iman Marshall and Jimmy Smith have all missed significant time with injuries, and only Smith is set to return sooner rather than later. 

Peters, a former Pro Bowl cornerback, is what the Ravens are hoping will take their defense to a level they haven’t been at all season. 

“We’re looking forward to getting him in there,” coach John Harbaugh said. “We’ve known him for quite a long time, ever since the draft when he was coming out of Washington. We spent a lot of time with him in that process, and every chance we’ve had to cross paths since, it’s been very positive.”

After two seasons in Kansas City, he was traded to the Los Angeles Rams. There, he played just over a season before being traded to Baltimore. 

In his 67 games in the NFL, Peters has 24 interceptions — a league-best during that time frame — and was selected to the Pro Bowl twice and named First Team All-Pro once. 

Peters figures to slide in on the opposite side of Marlon Humphrey, who is having a Pro Bowl caliber season. 

“I think that’s a great move,” Earl Thomas said. “I think we have two top-five corners playing on the same team with him and Marlon, so it’s definitely going to help out in the back end and the whole defense.”

Included in the imminent return of Smith, presumably either for the Seahawks or Patriots game, the Ravens cornerback depth is slowly inching to healthy. 

Peters will fly to Baltimore late Wednesday and be ready for practices on Thursday and Friday. Harbaugh said he’ll play on Sunday as much as he can. The Ravens have made it a sort of habit to get players quickly acclimated to the defense in recent weeks, something they’ll try and fastrack once again with Peters. 

The move also presents flexibility for the Ravens secondary as Brandon Carr could slide back to safety, something he did during training camp.

“Let’s move around, man,” Carr said. “Let’s keep the offense on their toes, let’s be aggressive, let’s make plays, so I’m all for it.”

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