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Will Jimmy Smith's ankle injury be crushing blow for Ravens' defense?

Will Jimmy Smith's ankle injury be crushing blow for Ravens' defense?

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – Will losing cornerback Jimmy Smith to an ankle injury be a crushing blow for the Ravens’ defense?

Monday night’s 30-23 loss to the Patriots will only raise concern about how the Ravens will fare defensively if Smith, their best corner, does not recover quickly. Smith left Monday’s game in the second quarter, and coach John Harbaugh would not speculate on how long Smith would be out.

RELATED: JIMMY SMITH LEAVES WITH ANKLE INJURY

However, it was clear Smith was in severe pain when he left the game, and the Ravens made some painful defensive mistakes during Tom Brady’s 406-yard, three-touchdown passing performance. Ravens cornerback Jerraud Powers also left the game in the fourth quarter with a concussion, and the Ravens made a huge defensive gaffe that helped seal their doom. Patriots wide receiver Chris Hogan was left wide open in the secondary for a 79-yard touchdown, giving the Patriots a 10-point cushion from which the Ravens never recovered.

Ravens safety Eric Weddle took the blame for Hogan’s touchdown, but will there be more big plays surrendered by the Ravens if Smith isn’t part of the mix?

“Obviously when Jimmy goes down it hurts us,” Weddle said. “But Shareece (Wright) came in and played outstanding I thought.”

If Smith is not ready to face the Eagles on Sunday, more pressure will fall on Wright and rookie cornerback Tavon Young to play well, whether or not Powers is healthy for Sunday.

There is never a good time for the Ravens to lose Smith.  During December, with the Ravens (7-6) fighting to make the playoffs is a particularly bad time.

More Ravens: RAVENS MIGHT CHECK-DOWN RIGHT OUT OF THE PLAYOFFS

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

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

Potentially the hottest team in the NFL, the Ravens enter Week 11 on a five game winning streak while sitting at 7-2. On top of the AFC North and in the hunt for the No. 1 seed in the playoffs, Baltimore has picked up impressive wins over the Seahwaks and Patriots in recent weeks, and is coming off of a dominating win in Cincinnati.

A lot of the success can be attributed to the play of Lamar Jackson. Baltimore's quarterback has been phenomenal as of late attacking teams through the air and on the ground with show-stopping plays. Jackson's 2019 campaign has thrust him to the front of the MVP conversation and has plenty of analysts backtracking on old takes.

The Ravens defense has come to play as of late as well. The acquisition of Marcus Peters looks to be exactly what Baltimore needed, as the cornerback's pick-6 on Sunday was his second in only three games as a member of the secondary. As of now, everything is clicking for the Ravens.

But, Sunday will provide another big test when Deshaun Watson and the Houston Texans come to town. While Houston will be without start defensive end J.J. Watt, Watson, DeAndre Hopkins and company present a formidable challenge in what could be a potential postseason battle. Here's everything you need to know about the Week 11 matchup:

Ravens vs. Texans: How to watch

What: Week 11 of the NFL regular season

Who: Baltimore Ravens vs. Houston Texans

Where: M&T Bank Stadium, Baltimore, MD

When: Sunday, Nov. 17, at 1:00 p.m.

TV Channel: CBS

Live Stream: Stream on FuboTV 

Radio: WBAL New Radio 1090, 98Rock and 101.5 FM

Weather: 46 degrees, partly cloudy

RAVENS 2019 REGULAR SEASON SCHEDULE:

Week 1: Sun., 9/8 at Dolphins, 1:00 p.m. (W, 59-10)

Week 2: Sun., 9/15 vs. Cardinals, 1:00 p.m. (W, 23-17)

Week 3: Sun., 9/22 at Chiefs. 1:00 p.m. (L, 33-28)

Week 4: Sun., 9/29 vs. Browns, 1:00 p.m. (L, 40-25)

Week 5: Sun., 10/6 at Steelers, 1:00 p.m. (W (OT), 26-23)

Week 6: Sun., 10/13 vs. Bengals, 1:00 p.m. (W, 23-17)

Week 7: Sun., 10/20 at Seahawks, 4:25 p.m. (W, 30-16)

Week 8: BYE week

Week 9: Sun., 11/3 vs. Patriots, 8:20 p.m. (W, 37-20)

Week 10:  Sun., 11/10 at Bengals, 1:00 p.m. (W, 49-13)

Week 11: Sun., 11/17 vs. Texans, 1:00 p.m.

Week 12: Mon., 11/25 at Rams, 8:15 p.m.

Week 13: Sun., 12/1 vs. 49ers, 1:00 p.m.

Week 14: Sun., 12/8 at Bills, 1:00 p.m.

Week 15: Thu., 12/12 vs. Jets, 8:20 p.m.

Week 16: Sun., 12/22 at Browns, 1:00 p.m.

Week 17: Sun., 12/29 vs. Steelers, 1:00 p.m.

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Lamar Jackson and Deshaun Watson set to square off in ‘new era’ of quarterbacks

Lamar Jackson and Deshaun Watson set to square off in ‘new era’ of quarterbacks

OWINGS MILLS, Md. — Don Martindale isn’t looking at Sunday’s matchup between the Ravens and Texans as a single game, but rather a game in a historical context. 

With two MVP candidates at quarterback on each side in Lamar Jackson and Deshaun Watson, the game isn’t just one that could be a playoff preview or a matchup between two of the NFL’s best, but rather a showcase of where the NFL is headed as a league.

The NFL is moving toward quarterbacks of the dual-threat variety, signal-callers that can beat teams in both the air and on the ground. Jackson and Watson are two of the NFL’s best in that department.

“It’s not just these two quarterbacks, but it’s the new era of quarterback,” Martindale said. “The lazy question is ‘Does practicing against Lamar help you for this?’ We’re preparing for more mobile quarterbacks this year than the old school, stay-in-the-pocket-and-play quarterback from the pocket.”

Jackson and Watson both entered the league with questions aplenty about whether the two quarterbacks, who relied so much on their legs, could be successful in the NFL. As of Week 10 of the 2019 season, those questions have been squashed. 

Jackson has totaled 2,738 yards and 21 touchdowns through nine games and is on-pace for nearly 4,900 yards from scrimmage and 37 touchdowns. Watson has totaled 2,711 yards and 23 touchdowns through nine games, and is on-pace for 4,819 yards and 40 touchdowns.

If there are examples of the way the NFL game is headed, two of the best will be on the field on Sunday.

“I'd rather play against a quarterback that's going to stand there,” Earl Thomas said. “These quarterbacks coming now, they're able to run. They're able to throw it deep. They have the schemes. They have all the misdirection stuff. So I'm not enjoying these young quarterbacks that are coming into the league and doing all this spectacular stuff that they're doing. But, it's just the way the league is going now.”

The ability to both run and pass has left defenses flummoxed as to how to slow down the high-powered attacks, led by quarterbacks that can win with both their arm and their legs.

Last season, Jackson led all quarterbacks in rushing with 695 yards. Watson was in third with 551 yards.

“I know it's hard on defenses, because when you feel you have the offense figured out and you guys are covering everyone, the quarterback gets out, gets the first down, keeps the drive going,” Jackson said. “So, the defensive guys are on the field even longer. We're just doing our thing.”

But one of the storylines that makes Jackson and Watson’s stories so unique are the doubts they endured before taking over as quarterback.

Questions of durability, passing ability and most everything else followed both quarterbacks around from the time they were drafted to even today, where questions still persist about the viability of the running quarterback in the NFL.

“I guess I would question the questioners,” Texans coach Bill O’Brien said. “When we evaluated Deshaun, we felt, obviously, very strongly about his ability to come in here and be a winner and develop into an excellent pro quarterback, which is what he's done. I definitely evaluated Lamar and met Lamar pre-draft, and he's a great player.”

To those in Houston and Baltimore, however, the idea that both Watson and Jackson couldn’t ever be successful seems wrong.

“So, 'wave of the future,' all those different things ... I think these guys are winners,” O’Brien continued. “They were winners in college. They were winners in high school, and they're winners now.”

While both Watson and Jackson — and other mobile quarterbacks around the NFL — may not have yet reached the top of the NFL passing charts, the added dimension of what they can do on the ground has made life incredibly difficult for defenders. 

“Peyton Manning was extremely hard to defend, Tom Brady was extremely hard to defend” cornerback Jimmy Smith said. “But, neither one of them could run a 4.3 (40-yard dash), so you don’t have to worry about tackling them on any given play.”

Smith added that when a quarterback breaks the pocket and gets loose for a first down, it can be incredibly demoralizing for a defense that thinks it has forced a stop. 

That can be tough to prepare for, as opponents of the Ravens have noted routinely this season, when you can’t simulate the speed and movement of the opposing quarterback.

“What happens in the game where you’re playing a mobile quarterback is, when you’re practicing, you see a guy go by and say, ‘I got him,’” Martindale said. “In game, they don’t got him. So I think that’s the biggest thing, is just adjusting to the speed of it, of the mobile quarterback.”

Still, while it’s easy to draw comparisons to quarterbacks that can run and pass, and seemingly are the future of the NFL, Jackson doesn’t necessarily see it that way. Every mobile quarterback is unique, which makes them so difficult to contain.

“I play Lamar Jackson ball,” Jackson said. “I don't play nobody else’s ball.”

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