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Spotlight on: Paul Kruger

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Spotlight on: Paul Kruger

(One of a series of articles exploring the status of individual players on the Ravens as the 2012 season approaches.)

You could argue that no player on the Ravens is under more pressure in 2012 than Paul Kruger. Maybe Joe Flacco, but that's about it.

Crucial questions abound as Kruger, a fourth-year linebacker, becomes a starter for the first time in the wake of Jarret Johnsons departure for San Diego and Terrell Suggs Achilles injury.

Has Kruger really developed into a three-down defender who can set the edge of a run defense as well as rush the passer?Can he become enough of a presence in the pass rush to held hold the levees until Suggs returns?

Well see.

A year ago, the Ravens wondered if Kruger even had a future in Baltimore. He had struggled to gain traction in his first two seasons after joining the team as a second-round pick in 2009. But he separated himself from the dreaded B-word (bust) in 2011 with a breakout performance that included 5.5 sacks in a specialist role.

When a starting job opened up ahead of him in March after Johnsons departure, Ravens coach John Harbaugh was as curious as anyone to know if Kruger really was ready to step up. Harbaugh said he went back and looked at the tape of every play of Krugers 2011 season.

Id be surprised if he doesnt rise to the occasion and have a heck of a year, Harbaugh said.

Asked directly if Kruger was ready to start, the coach said, He really is.

That was before Suggs went down in late April, adding to the pressure on Kruger. The Ravens need him to do more than just perform adequately as a first-year starter in 2012; they need him to make plays.

He looked solid as he ran with the No. 1 defense throughout the spring season of OTAs and minicamps, but the real test begins with training camp later this month and then the opening of the regular season in September.

Lets be clear: Im not Terrell Suggs. Were different players, Kruger said this spring. He was the best defensive player in the entire NFL last season. Im going to be the best I can be and I'll be working as hard as I can to fill the position.

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Ravens vs. Bengals Week 11: Date, time, TV channel, live stream, how to watch

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USA TODAY Sports

Ravens vs. Bengals Week 11: Date, time, TV channel, live stream, how to watch

It's been a whirlwind of a week for both the Baltimore Ravens (4-5) and Cincinnati Bengals (5-4) as the two get set for their Week 11 AFC North division matchup.

Ahead of Sunday's game, here's everything you need to know to watch.

We've got ourselves a quarterback situation

Who is going to start at quarterback for the Ravens in Week 11? Will it be Joe Flacco, Lamar Jackson or Robert Griffin III?

News broke during the Ravens' Week 10 bye that Flacco sustained a right hip injury in the team's Week 9 loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers spurring a full-blown quarterback situation. 

With Flacco missing practice all week, the idea of Jackson getting his first NFL start looked like it was going to become a reality. Then Jackson missed Thursday's practice with an illness. Jackson returned to practice o n Friday, but not before the RGIII hype train could leave the station.

The 2012 Offensive Rookie of the Year earned a spot on the 53-man roster for this very reason. Add in reports that the Ravens weren't happy with Jackson's progression throughout the week and we could very well be seeing the NFL comeback of RGIII.

Considering how hush the Ravens have been all week on Flacco's status, don't expect to hear who the starter is until Sunday morning. 

Nonetheless, Sunday's matchup vs. the Bengals is the Ravens' most crucial game of the season as they fight to stay in playoff contention and avoid dropping to 4-6. Whether it's Flacco, Jackson or Griffin III under center, the pressure for a win is on. 

Special assistant to the regional manager head coach

After getting blown out by the New Orleans Saints 51-14 and being the first team in the Super Bowl era to surrender 500 yards in three straight games, the Bengals fired defensive coordinator Teryl Austin Monday. 

Head coach Marvin Lewis will now call the defensive plays in the stadium where he built the NFL's record-setting defense in 2000 as defensive coordinator of the Ravens. To help him with the workload, Lewis brought newly fired Browns head coach Hue Jackson to be their special assistant to the head coach.

Lewis will have his hands full leading a defense that's currently ranked 31st in total points (32) and rushing yards (141.2), and 32nd in total yards (454.6) and passing yards (313.3). It doesn't help his game plan either that the Ravens' starting QB will likely be announced Sunday.

"I’m trying to prepare the Cincinnati Bengals – that’s my focus, OK?," Lewis said on a conference call with media Wednesday. "I can’t control who they put at quarterback based on his injury, whatever – Joe’s [injury]. Our focus has got to be us, and that’s what I’m focusing on – getting us better and getting us righted.”

Season once again comes down to Bengals

Week 17 of the 2017 season with the postseason 53 seconds away, Andy Dalton found Tyler Boyd for a 49-yard, game-winning touchdown that left the Ravens without January football for yet another year. 

Week 11 of the 2018 season and the Ravens find themselves in that exact same spot sitting third in the AFC North. 

What the Ravens do have on their side is owning the NFL's best record following the bye (13-3) since the division realignment in 2002, and the fact that Dalton has thrown the second-most interceptions this season (10) behind rookie Sam Darnold's 14. This is great news for a Ravens defense that hasn't forced a turnover in 11 quarters. With star wide receiver A.J. Green out with a toe injury and running back Joe Mixon limited during Thursday's practice with a knee injury, the defense has a huge opportunity to not allow history to repeat itself. 

Click here to see the updated Ravens-Bengals injury report

Ravens vs. Bengals Week 11 How to Watch:

Who: Baltimore Ravens vs. Cincinnati Bengals

What: Week 11 regular season

When: Sunday, Nov. 18, 2018, 1:00 p.m. ET

Where: M&T Bank Stadium, Baltimore, Md.

TV Channel: CBS

Live Stream: Watch Now with fuboTV - Try free trial

Radio: WBAL New Radio 1090 and 98Rock

Weather: 47 degrees, most cloudy

Record: Bengals lead all-time series 23-22. Ravens own a 6-4 record at home. 

Ravens 2018 Regular Season Schedule:

Week 1: Sun., 9/9. Ravens vs. Bills. Win, 47-3 (1-0)

Week 2: Thur., 9/13 Ravens at Bengals. Loss, 34-23 (1-1)

Week 3: Sun., 9/23 Ravens vs. Broncos. Win, 27-14 (2-1)

Week 4: Sun., 9/30 Ravens at Steelers. Win, 26-14 (3-1)

Week 5: Sun., 10/7 Ravens at Browns. Loss, 12-9 (3-2)

Week 6: Sun., 10/14 Ravens at Titans. Win, 21-0 (4-2)

Week 7: Sun., 10/21 vs. Saints, 4:05 p.m. Loss, 24-23 (4-3)

Week 8: Sun., 10/28 @ Panthers, 1:00 p.m. Loss 36-21 (4-4)

Week 9: Sun., 11/4 vs. Steelers, 1:00 p.m. Loss 23-16 (4-5)

Week 10:  BYE week

Week 11: Sun., 11/18 vs. Bengals, 1:00 p.m.

Week 12: Sun., 11/25 vs. Raiders, 1:00 p.m.

Week 13: Sun., 12/2 @ Falcons, 1:00 p.m.

Week 14: Sun., 12/9 @ Chiefs, 1:00 p.m.

Week 15: Sun., 12/16 vs. Buccaneers, 1:00 p.m.

Week 16: Sat., 12/22 @ Chargers, 8:20 p.m. ET

Week 17: Sun., 12/30 vs. Browns, 1:00 p.m.

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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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