Ravens

Quick Links

Ravens: Lewis report won't be a distraction

201301301417514355222-p2.jpeg

Ravens: Lewis report won't be a distraction

NEW ORLEANS (AP) The Baltimore Ravens don't intend to let the controversy surrounding linebacker Ray Lewis become a distraction in their preparation for the Super Bowl.

An article in Sports Illustrated said Lewis sought help from a company that says its deer-antler spray and pills contain a banned product connected to human growth hormone.

``We can't let that distract us from our one true mission, winning the Super Bowl,'' Baltimore running back Ray Rice said Wednesday, shortly before the Ravens hit the practice field to prepare for Sunday's game against the San Francisco 49ers.

Minutes earlier, Lewis said he ``never, ever'' used performance-enhancing drugs in his effort to return from a torn right triceps. He also distanced himself from Sports With Alternatives To Steroids (SWATS).

The Ravens are standing behind the 37-year-old Lewis, who sat out 12 weeks before returning to fuel the Ravens' playoff run. He will end his 17-year career after the Super Bowl.

``Ray is an awesome guy and we're here to play football. We don't even want to give that (report) any merit,'' Baltimore guard Bobbie Williams said. ``It's kind of sad that they would try to discredit a guy who's done so much and been such a big influence not only to this team but the National Football League. Here we are just a couple of days away from the Super Bowl and they try to do this right here. We just really want to just stay away from that.''

Coach John Harbaugh also backed Lewis, saying, ``He told me there's nothing to it. He's told us in the past, he's told us now, that he's never taken any of that stuff, ever. And I believe Ray.''

So do Lewis' teammates.

``No one has not passed a test and no one has tested positive for anything, so it's all speculation,'' linebacker and special teams standout Brendon Ayanbadejo said. ``There's information and disinformation. If you have a little intelligence you can dissect it and keep it moving.''

The 49ers also find the story hard to believe.

``I don't think Ray would take any substance,'' San Francisco tight end Vernon Davis said.

Lewis and the Ravens have been taught not to take any medication or drug without first getting the OK from the league or the team's training staff.

``I will run everything by my trainers to make sure it's legal by the NFL,'' cornerback Corey Graham said. ``As an NFL player and a professional athlete, you do try a lot of stuff. I'm not going to sit here and say you don't. But you do have to run it by your trainers and people who know what's legal and not legal before you try it.''

Linebacker Paul Kruger said he learned of the league's policy on drugs during his first season in the NFL.

``If there is something you're interested in taking, you have to make sure it's cleared and OK,'' he said. ``From what I recall from the rookie symposium, the best way is to take it to the trainer and see what they think.''

Williams said if he is interested in taking something, he'll check with the NFLPA.

``They run it for banned substances and have people there for us to check everything,'' Williams said. ``They'll send me back an email telling me everything is cleared. That said, you're still responsible for everything you put in your body.''

Quick Links

Ravens not changing much for three days against the Eagles

Ravens not changing much for three days against the Eagles

OWINGS MILLS, Md. — With the Ravens headed up to Philadelphia to face the Eagles in two joint practices before a game on Thursday, there isn’t much expected to change in terms of game reps. 

Coach John Harbaugh said Lamar Jackson will play about the same amount that he played in the first two games. He was on the field for 16 snaps against the Jaguars and 22 against the Packers. 

What could change, however, is some of the offensive game planning that goes into preparation for a different style of defense. 

“Not specifically, no, but I definitely think (with) this style of defense, we’ll definitely have a little bit of a different game plan going in,” offensive coordinator Greg Roman said. “It necessitates that, which is good for us. I don’t think we’re saying, ‘We’re going to run what we’re going to run in the first couple weeks of the season.’ We might, but we might not. I don’t want to give away anything. I definitely think we’ll do some different stuff.”

While Roman remained secretive about the exact plan for Thursday, a week in Philadelphia against a team expected to contend in the NFC this season will be illuminating for the Ravens. 

The Eagles run a 4-3 defense, different from the Ravens' 3-4, so they’ll get a new look on defense, too. 

Offensively, Philadelphia boasts Carson Wentz, one of the league’s top quarterbacks. With a skill group of Zach Ertz, Nelson Agholor and DeSean Jackson, too, the Ravens secondary will be under the lights in both this week’s practices and game.

“This is going to be a big test for us, going to Philly, because they’ve got a lot of skill at wide receiver and tight end and running back,” defensive coordinator Don Martindale said. “It’s going to be a measuring stick definitely, for sure.”

As the days tick away toward final cut down day on Aug. 31, the margin for error is shrinking daily.

“This third preseason game, it’s getting down to crunch time now, where guys are going to make the 53 or they’re not. The biggest message was, ‘If you think you’re on the bubble, you are,” Martindale continued.

The Ravens will take a slightly more banged up team into Philadelphia than they had last week, as there were some notable absences from practice on Sunday.

The 14 players missing from practice included: Seth Roberts, Miles Boykin, Kenneth Dixon, Gus Edwards, Randin Crecelius, Greg Senat, Marshal Yanda, Tavon Young, Iman Marshall, Marlon Humphrey, Chris Board, Nicholas Grigsby, Pernell McPhee and Shane Ray. 

Young (neck injury) is expected to be out long term, but no other injuries are thought to be as serious.

MORE RAVENS NEWS:

Quick Links

Cyrus Jones looking to seize new opportunity at slot corner

Cyrus Jones looking to seize new opportunity at slot corner

OWINGS MILLS, Md. — Cyrus Jones’ old role with the Ravens was as a depth cornerback and return man on special teams. His new role could have much more significance. 

Despite a comfortable win over the Packers last Thursday, the good feelings were quickly dampened by an announcement from coach John Harbaugh that nickel cornerback Tavon Young would likely miss the rest of the season with a neck injury.

Young is still waiting to make a final decision, but with him out of the fold for a significant chunk of time, the race is on to try to replace him in an important role on the Ravens defense.

As of Saturday, one of the favorites to assume that role was Jones. He played 34 defensive snaps against the Packers (57 percent), the highest total on the defense, and is a top option for the Ravens in replacing Young.

“Tavon is a great player, I hate seeing what’s going on with him right now,” Jones said. “I’m praying for him, as all of us are, but it’s up to the next man to step up, whoever that is, and I’m just keeping on trying to come out here and practice hard and get better.”

Young signed a three-year, $25.8 million dollar contract in the offseason. The signing made him the highest-paid nickel cornerback in the league. 

Now, the Ravens will use a host of cornerbacks to assume Young’s role on defense. He had 37 tackles, two sacks and one interception last season. He also recovered three fumbles, two of which went for touchdowns. 

“We’ve got a lot of guys, it will be a little different plan if Tavon’s not there, in terms of playing more guys in the slot than we normally would’ve,” Harbaugh said.

Jones, originally a second-round draft pick of the Patriots in 2016, played 10 games in 2016 before a torn ACL and meniscus ended his 2017 campaign. 

He bounced between New England and Baltimore last season, twice, before settling into his role with the Ravens last year. He played in 13 total games, 11 of which were with Baltimore. 

As for this preseason, he’s registered six total tackles and an interception that went for a touchdown. He saw the majority of his work this preseason, though, against the Packers.

“I think I played hard, I think I played smart,” Jones said. “I got a little fatigued at the end, but overall, I think I’m holding my own out there, flying around and just trying to execute.”

Now, he’ll assuredly be in the mix at cornerback. Marlon Humphrey, Jimmy Smith and Brandon Carr figure to be the team’s top cornerbacks, but Anthony Averett, Maurice Canady and the return of Iman Marshall could also play a part in how the Ravens fill the role.

Aside from the Young injury news, Harbaugh announced guard Marshal Yanda won’t play in the preseason, but will be ready for the season opener September 8 against the Dolphins. 

First-round pick Marquise Brown is on a much shorter trajectory, however, and could see playing time at the Ravens and Eagles joint practices Monday and Tuesday before the third preseason game of the season. 

That game won’t be a typical third preseason game, though, as Harbaugh told reporters quarterback Lamar Jackson won’t have much different of a workload than he did in the first two preseason games. He played 16 snaps against the Jaguars and 22 against the Packers. 

MORE RAVENS NEWS: