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What we learned from the Ravens' preseason finale win over the Redskins

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What we learned from the Ravens' preseason finale win over the Redskins

The Ravens' Thursday night preseason finale was the last chance for several roster bubble players to make their impression before Saturday's 4 p.m. 53- man roster cut. 

Baltimore emerged victorious with a 30-20 win over the Redskins, ending the preseason with a perfect 5-0 record.

Here's what we learned from the Ravens victory over the rival Redskins in the preseason finale.

1. Lamar Jackson's performance could have impact on RGIII's future

To much disappointment, Robert Griffin III did not get the opportunity to face his former team in what could be his last time in a Ravens uniform. The team deciding not to play Griffin III in the preseason finale could mean one of two things; they've seen enough to keep him on the 53-roster or they're planning to trade him. 

"There's no doubt that you want Robert Griffin on your team," head coach John Harbaugh said. "He makes our quarterback room better and stronger. He looks like a starter to me. He has been a starter. Certainly a backup in this league, without question. I mean, that's not even close. I would like to have him on the team. We'll just have to see how the math works."

Harbaugh also noted not to read too much into all of it. When asked about his pending fate post game, RGIII said, "I haven't been told anything as far as my future here with this team or anywhere else."  

His future in Baltimore could rely heavily on Lamar Jackson's performance Thursday. The rookie earned his first NFL start going 9-of-15 for 109 yards and a 82.4 QB rating. Jackson also rushed for 25 yards on three attempts and one touchdown.

Overall, Jackson looked the strongest he has all preseason, but how much faith the Ravens have in the rookie IF something were to happen to Joe Flacco will be answered Saturday at 4 p.m..

2. No answers on who will take the remaining WR spots

Wide receivers Michael Crabtree, Willie Snead, John Brown and Chris Moore have secured spots on the Ravens roster, but the final two spots are still up in the air. 

We were waiting for Breshad Perriman, Jordan Lasley, Tim White, Janarion Grant, Andre Levrone or DeVier Posey to give us something to talk about against the Redskins and that never really happened. Perriman was 3-4 for 24 yards, but his limited effort trying to block Adonis Alexander on an overturned interception had to be a strike against him. Plus, he lacks what White and Grant can offer on special teams. 

What could help White make the cut is his versatility. Throughout the preseason, he has contributed on special teams, at wide receiver, and Thursday night at slot cornerback. At this point, these six men just have to be at peace with how they've performed over the last six weeks. 

3. Cornerback depth became even thinner

CB Stanley Jean-Baptiste was en-route to making the Ravens' 53-man roster with the four-week suspension of Jimmy Smith until he exited Thursday's game in the first with what appears to be a broken arm. A very tough pill to swallow for the New Orleans Saints' 2014 second-round pick who's appeared in only four career games. 

That leaves the Ravens with Tavon Young, rookie Anthony Averett, Marlon Humphrey and Brandon Carr at the position while Maurice Canady has been sidelined since the team's first joint practice with the Colts.

All of this explains why Tim White made an appearance Thursday night at the position. How they supplement for the lack of depth will be interesting to watch as rosters are cut. 

Ravens-Redskins Notes:

– Harbaugh said during the postgame press conference that fullback/nose tackle Patrick Ricard will make the roster. He had one forced fumble, a fumble recovery and four combined tackles Thursday night.

– DE Bronson Kaufusi had an impressive night, leading the team's defense with 10 combined tackles and two sacks for 13 yards. Harbaugh praised his constant hustle saying,"... whatever it is, it’s just hustle this, hustle that. That’s how he plays. That’s how he lives his life. To me, he’s a four-three defensive end in real life. That’s probably what he’s meant to be. We play that package, so he could have a role with us."

– Rookie linebacker Kenny Young exited the game early in the first half with a knee injury. Young called the injury "nothing serious" and said he would be getting an MRI today. Going into the game, he lead the Ravens defense in tackles with 18. 

– Preseason wins mean nothing, but the Ravens finished 5-0. They have not lost a preseason game since September 3, 2015.

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John Harbaugh has zero time for Ravens banter, media scrutiny

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John Harbaugh has zero time for Ravens banter, media scrutiny

On Sunday, the Baltimore Ravens will play the most crucial game of their 2018 season when they host division rival Cincinnati Bengals in Week 11 of the 2018 NFL Season.

Sitting at 4-5 and third in the AFC North, playoff contention and job security have filled the headlines of local media outlets. Mix in an injured quarterback to the equation, and suddenly this below .500 Ravens team has the attention of the nation.

The unwanted attention is something the Ravens have experienced before, having missed the playoffs each of the previous three seasons. However, the unwanted attention Baltimore is getting 11 weeks into the season is more potent than ever.

Head coach John Harbaugh isn't here for any of it.

"We’ll write the story of the Ravens’ 2018 season by how we play in the next seven weeks," Harbaugh said Monday via the team's website.

"That’s what our guys are juiced up for. All the other stuff is just fluff; it’s just noise; it’s just banter. It’s barroom talk. Turn on the TV, it’s two guys talking in the bar, supposedly – except it’s all choreographed, you know? ‘You take this side, I’ll take that side.’ It’s all B.S. We don’t care! We have to go play."

The Ravens enter this matchup with a fresh mentality and a fresh set of legs after spending Week 10 on their bye.

Three straight losses is enough to invade anyone's headspace after starting their season 3-1. But with seven games to play, Harbaugh is reminding his team they're in control of their own destiny. 

"I told the guys, ‘Have you watched the NFL? It’s week-to-week. This is how it goes. Crazy things happen.’ We’re right there. We’re in the hunt just like everybody else. We’re fighting."

Mathematically, the Ravens aren't out of the hunt yet. Despite their record, they are just one game out of the final wildcard spot in the AFC.

The 27% chance they have at the moment of making the playoffs is certainly nothing to write home about, but a win on Sunday makes January football look less far-fetched. 

"It will be determined over the course of the next seven games who is going to make the playoffs," Harbaugh said. "It won’t be determined by what’s gone before. It will be determined by what goes forward. If we want to be one of those teams, then we have to go earn it – make it happen. There are those who write history and those who make history. Well, you know what? If you have a chance to make history, then you write the history, too"

The head coach will be writing his own history over the next seven weeks as well. The reports that his job status is on the line after 11 seasons can be added to the laundry list of things Harbaugh's not worried about.

"Again, it’s just noise; it doesn’t matter; it means nothing. It’s not something that I’m going to think about or concern myself with. Neither are the players, neither is Steve [Bisciotti], neither is Kevin [Byrne], or Ozzie [Newsome] or anybody else. You know what we want to do as an organization? We want to win – that’s what we want to do. We want to win. We’re fighting as hard as we can – coaches, players – as an organization to win. That’s it. All the other stuff – who cares?”

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Joe Flacco's status for Sunday's game vs. Bengals 'up in the air'

Joe Flacco's status for Sunday's game vs. Bengals 'up in the air'

OWINGS MILLS, Md. -- Carrying a three-game losing streak and a losing record, the Baltimore Ravens now face the burden of uncertainty at the quarterback position.

Joe Flacco is nursing a hip injury that could keep him out of Sunday's game against Cincinnati, an AFC North matchup that carries huge ramifications for the sagging Ravens.

With Baltimore coming off a bye, Flacco received an additional week of rest and treatment after sustaining the injury on Nov. 4 in the opening minutes of a 23-16 loss to Pittsburgh.

Flacco went the distance, completed 23 of 37 passes for 206 yards. His status this week, however, is unclear.

"He's getting treatment, just like all the guys are getting treatment, and we'll see," coach John Harbaugh said Monday. "I'd say that we'll know more as the week goes on and I'm hopeful all our guys play, including Joe."

If Flacco can't play, rookie Lamar Jackson will likely get his first NFL start, although veteran Robert Griffin III is also an option. Griffin gets the nod in NFL experience, but he's been inactive in every game this season while Jackson has been used periodically because of his ability to run.

"It's up in the air. We're not worried about it," Harbaugh insisted. "We're blessed with a good quarterback room. It's a good thing, that's a positive thing. We've got three guys who can play. It's just like any other position in my mind. You go with the next guy and you roll."

The Ravens (4-5) reached their bye week with losses to New Orleans, Carolina and Pittsburgh. The skid ruined a decent start and left the team in recovery mode as it seeks to snap a run of three straight seasons without reaching the playoffs.

This is the 11th season that Harbaugh and Flacco have been together in Baltimore, and the coach would love to see his quarterback rally the Ravens into the postseason.

"Any direction we decide to go or we're forced to go, it will be based on the health of Joe. If Joe can play, he'll play," Harbaugh said. "He's rehabbing to play. Joe does not have to practice to play. He's practiced the whole season, he's practiced for 11 years. But he might practice. We just have to see how it goes."

The 33-year-old Flacco has played through many an injury throughout his career. He did so against the Steelers. His teammates feel that if he can walk, he will play.

"Joe is one of the toughest guys I've played with, maybe the toughest guy," guard Marshal Yanda said. "You never see him limping around, you never see him on the field showing any sign of weakness. He's just been a rock for us. I have nothing but respect for the guy."

Tackles Ronnie Stanley (ankle) and James Hurst (back) did not play against the Steelers, but both are expected to return Sunday when the Ravens begin a stretch -- with or without Flacco -- that will define their season.

"We're in the hunt," Harbaugh said. "We'll write the story of the Ravens' 2018 season by how we play in the next seven weeks. That's what our guys are juiced up for. Get the Cincinnati Bengals in as fast as we can, and let's go play the game.

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