Ravens

Quick Links

Rested Ravens intend to start anew in playoffs

201212301251463025309-p2.jpeg

Rested Ravens intend to start anew in playoffs

OWINGS MILLS, Md. (AP) The Baltimore Ravens are healthy and rested.

They hope such qualities serve them better in the playoffs than the momentum they would have gotten from winning the regular-season finale.

Baltimore's 23-17 loss to Cincinnati on Sunday had the feel of a preseason contest. The Ravens (10-6) already had clinched their second straight AFC North title, so coach John Harbaugh rested several injured players for the entire game and removed most of his starters before the end of the first half.

The defeat dropped Baltimore's record in December to 1-4. Now it's time to find out whether the Ravens can suddenly get hot when it matters most, beginning with Sunday's home playoff game Chuck Pagano's Indianapolis Colts (11-5).

``It's a whole new season,'' Harbaugh said Monday. ``It all starts fresh. It's the playoffs. We're all 0-0 at this point.''

The Ravens are the only team in the NFL to reach the postseason in each of the past five years. They won at least one playoff game in the previous four trips, but on each occasion they were coming off a win to finish the regular season.

Not this time.

``Whatever team plays the best in the playoffs is going to win it,'' Harbaugh said. ``So if you want to call it getting hot, it's pretty important. Starting this week, whoever plays the best will be the champion.''

That would call for a complete turnaround from December, when the Ravens lost to Pittsburgh, Washington, Denver and Cincinnati. The lone victory during the month was a 33-14 beating of the New York Giants on Dec. 23 that provided Baltimore with its second straight division title.

``We are going to hit our stride going into the playoffs,'' said running back Ray Rice, who watched the final three quarters of the Cincinnati game from the sideline.

``It doesn't worry us because this is the playoffs and it's different,'' safety Ed Reed said.

With little to play for in Cincinnati except the remote possibility of gaining the No. 3 seed, Harbaugh placed injured veterans Haloti Ngata, Terrell Suggs, Bernard Pollard and Marshal Yanda on the inactive list. He pulled most of his starters, including Rice, quarterback Joe Flacco and Reed, early in the first half.

All should be available against the Colts. The Ravens also hope to have middle linebacker Ray Lewis, who's been out since Oct. 14 with a torn right triceps. That, Harbaugh said, would be a ``game-time decision.''

Because the Ravens used so many backups against the Bengals, the defeat was far easier to swallow.

``Yeah, it's a loss, but this game is totally different than any of the other games,'' cornerback Corey Graham said. ``This is more of a get healthy, get ready for the playoffs thing. Some losses mean more than others, and this one here don't mean a lot.''

Harbaugh simply thought the health of his team was more important than charging into the postseason with a two-game winning streak.

``We took all that into consideration. We weighed it all out,'' he said. ``We felt like we could win the game with guys we had, and we almost pulled it off.''

The Ravens endured a hectic four months leading up to the postseason. Despite losing Lewis and cornerback Lardarius Webb (knee) in mid-October, Baltimore used a 9-2 start to take control of the division. That gave the Ravens enough of a cushion to limp to the finish as the No. 4 seed in the AFC.

``We battled adversity, we battled injury and we battled everything else you can imagine for a football team,'' Rice said. ``We are a battle-tested football team. I'm not really concerned about the four (December) losses. I'm more concerned about this team getting healthy.''

Harbaugh likes where the Ravens are as the playoffs begin.

``I'm very excited about our team right now. I like us a lot,'' he said. ``I like the fact that we've overcome a lot of adversity, both personal and team. I like the fact that our guys have stuck together through a lot of that. I think that's what makes a team what it is and I'm looking forward to seeing who we are for the next one game through however many games we're able to play. It's going to be a great challenge.''

The opening opponent is intriguing. No one in Baltimore has forgotten that the Colts left for Indianapolis in 1984, or that Pagano was the Ravens' defensive coordinator in 2011 and is returning from three rounds of chemotherapy.

The Ravens won't let the off-the-field stuff deflect their focus from revving up some postseason momentum.

``I think we're very ready,'' tight end Ed Dickson said. ``We had a chance to get guys healthy (Sunday). We're going to be firing on all cylinders. If we put it all together, the sky is the limit for this team. It's a one-game season right now.''

Meanwhile, assistant general manager Eric DeCosta says he won't pursue GM openings with other teams.

``I love being a part of the Ravens and plan to stay here and help them win championships,'' he said in a statement. ``I have no intentions of leaving this team.''

---

Online:http://pro32.ap.org/poll andhttp://twitter.com/AP-NFL

Quick Links

Ravens experimenting with getting Joe Flacco and Lamar Jackson on field at same time

flacco-jackson-ap.png
AP Images

Ravens experimenting with getting Joe Flacco and Lamar Jackson on field at same time

Since drafting Lamar Jackson, the Ravens have made it clear that Joe Flacco is their starter. That doesn't mean they're not experimenting with having them both on the field at the same time, however. 

During this week's minicamp, the team has been lining Jackson up at multiple positions. 

"Gosh, I sure like him out there helping us," coach John Harbaugh said of Jackson during Tuesday's minicamp, via ESPN.com.

"If you put two quarterbacks on the field at once, what options does it create for our offense? That's what we're trying to figure out."

While at Louisville, Jackson rushed for 4,132 yards and 50 touchdowns in three seasons. That's more rushing yards than No. 2 overall pick Saquon Barkley. That unique skill set could be the creative options the Ravens are looking for. 

While at the NFL Combine, however, Jackson refused to workout at any other position than QB. 

"I have a lot of fun seeing what they come up with and what they're going to come up with next," Jackson said. "We'll see where it goes. You have to use your good players."

The Ravens are already viewing Jackson as one of those 'good players.' 

"Once he gets out of the pocket, it's like watching a young Michael Vick," LB C.J. Mosley said after minicamp practice. "It's amazing to watch. When you're defending him, you just have to act like you're tagging off -- you don't want to be on the highlight reel."

Harbaugh has alluded to the fact that the rookie will be active on game days, just exactly how they get the most out of him is what's in play.

"There's a lot of considerations that go into that," Harbaugh said of using two QBs at the once. "Everybody has an opinion. I've read a few. You want to find a way to get the most out of all your guys."

While Flacco isn't the fasted QB in the league, he has shown glimpses of running ability in the past. Figuring out how to utilize Flacco when Jackson is under center is where things will get interesting.

Interesting - as long as it works - is what Ravens fans have been searching for over the last several seasons. 

"Joe has to be able to do other things if [Jackson is] throwing the ball," Harbaugh said. "It gets the creative juices flowing for our offensive coaches, and they've worked hard on that."

MORE RAVENS NEWS:

Quick Links

Ravens D-coordinator Don Martindale puts personal stamp on unit

don-martindale-ap.png
AP Images

Ravens D-coordinator Don Martindale puts personal stamp on unit

OWINGS MILLS, Md. -- There are no dreary work days for Don Martindale, who has overwhelmingly embraced his new role as defensive coordinator of the Baltimore Ravens.

After serving for five seasons as the team's linebackers coach, Martindale was promoted to coordinator in January after Dean Pees left the post.

Enthusiastic doesn't even begin to describe Martindale's attitude about being in charge of the defense.

"Ever since we've made this transition, it's been a joy to just come through those gates every day. I love it," Martindale said after Wednesday's mandatory minicamp practice.

This isn't the first time Martindale has been put in charge of molding a defense. In 2010, he watched over a unit in Denver that was the worst in the NFL in both yards and points allowed per game.

Given a second chance, the 55-year-old Martindale is putting together a defense that will rely heavily on the instinct of several of its most proven players, most notably safety Eric Weddle and linebackers Terrell Suggs and C.J. Mosley.

"He's just putting his personal fix on our defense and expanding it, giving the guys confidence to play fast," Weddle said. "The idea is to do what's best for the defense, not what's best the individual."

Martindale called Mosley "the quarterback" of a fluid unit that can make a snap-change from drop-back coverage to an all-out blitz. In that regard, Mosley believes this defense is superior to the one that in 2017 yielded 18.9 points per game, sixth-best in the NFL.

"The way we're able to use our core guys, put them in different spots and do some of the same things just from different positions, it's more creative, I would say, than where we were last year," Mosley said.

Baltimore coach John Harbaugh promoted Martindale rather than go outside the organization because he wanted to extend his vision of a defense that has evolved since his arrival in 2008.

"All we're doing is forwarding John's plan," Martindale said. "We're remodeling the package. It's still Ravens football, it's still Ravens defense, but we've streamlined it. It's the elegant simplicity. Guys are playing really fast."

Asked for his take on Martindale's defense, Ravens offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg replied, "They're fast and they're furious."

Sure, things might be different once the pads go on at training camp, but at this point, Martindale's boss likes what he sees.

"We're doing a lot of neat things on defense, things that are really good," Harbaugh said. "More than ever, we're putting it on our players to make decisions in real time."

Martindale has a new title, but old habits die hard.

"For the most part, it's been the same," Mosley said. "He always comes in and says, `I have to lead the linebacker room,' and sits down and gets to talking like he's back at linebacker coach."

Told of Mosley's disclosure, Martindale smiled and said, "I've been trying to stay out of there, but you can't help but go in. That's home. I have a good time in the secondary room as well."

And just about everywhere else.

"Where we're going with this thing is really exciting to me," Martindale said, "and I know it's exciting to the players."

In other training camp news, cornerback Jimmy Smith was a surprise participant at practice, going through a light regimen of individual drills just six months after tearing his left Achilles tendon.

"I don't know if Jimmy's like half Wolverine, but he's healed up in half the time of regular human beings," Weddle said, referring to the amazing recuperative powers of the Marvel super hero.

MORE RAVENS NEWS: