Harbaugh likes health of Ravens after bye

Nov 16, 2017 - 5:07 PM OWINGS MILLS, Md. -- The Baltimore Ravens emerged from the bye in the thick of the AFC playoff race and with their healthiest roster since training camp.

As a result, the team is refocused and looking to play its best football over the final seven weeks of the regular season. The Ravens, however, have lost five of their last seven games and need to build some momentum beginning Sunday against the Green Bay Packers.

Head coach John Harbaugh also has a renewed confidence because the Ravens could have several key players back in the lineup, including running backs Danny Woodhead and Terrance West, along with tight end Nick Boyle.

"I'm excited for the fact that we have our offensive weapons back - the ones that are still with us. I feel like we are at full strength," Harbaugh said. "We are more full strength than we have been all year. We finally have a chance to be full strength. I am excited about that.

"We need guys on the field. We need our guys out there making plays, and our guys want to be out there making plays. Yes, I am more excited now probably than at any point in time all year in that way."

The Ravens (4-5) are one game behind the Buffalo Bills for the last spot in the AFC playoff race. Baltimore also has a favorable schedule, playing just one team that currently has a winning record (Pittsburgh). Four of Baltimore's final seven games are at M&T Bank Stadium.

"You have to find a way to win some games," Harbaugh said. "There are going to be weeks that you're not going to win, but you have to string together some wins at some point in time. That's the difference between making the playoffs and not making the playoffs, winning your division or not."

Even with the healthier roster, the Ravens still need more production from the offense. Baltimore enters this week with the league's 32nd-ranked passing attack.

Quarterback Joe Flacco has passed for 1,551 yards with eight touchdowns, 10 interceptions and a 72.7 passer rating, which is 31st among all quarterbacks.

Flacco said the team needs to be much more aggressive and start games stronger. He also wants to take more shots downfield.

"We need to go after it," Flacco said. "We can't sit back and just expect us to not lose football games. We got to go attack. We're a 4-5 football team. You always look at teams that are in this position and feel they have nothing to lose -- and we should feel that way. We got to go out there and leave it all out there."

SERIES HISTORY: 6th regular-season meeting. Packers lead series, 4-1. The Packers are also 3-0 at Lambeau Field. The teams last played in 2013, when the Packers won, 19-17, at M&T Bank Stadium. Baltimore most previously played at Green Bay in 2009, losing 27-14 on Monday Night Football.

--The Ravens secondary has met their high expectations. The Ravens are ranked third against the pass and lead the league with 13 interceptions heading into the game Sunday against Green Bay.

Cornerback Brandon Carr, who was acquired as a free agent, and safety Eric Weddle are tied for third in the NFL with three interceptions. Rookie cornerback Marlon Humphrey looks like he could be a long-term answer in the secondary.

"The offseason two years ago, obviously, it was a point of emphasis when I got here last year of creating more turnovers and just catching the ball when it comes your way," Weddle said Wednesday. "I think we have done that. We stress and harp on it day-in and day-out about creating turnovers and creating that advantage for our team and the points that we can get off of it. It is fun. Obviously, creating turnovers, we have to do a better job and continue to create those turnovers and catch the ball when it comes our way."

--The Ravens downplayed comments from former tight end Dennis Pitta that the offense was a "one read-and-checkdown system."

Pitta, who suffered a career-ending hip injury in offseason workouts, made the remark in an interview with a local radio station. The Ravens have the 32nd-ranked passing offense (167.7 yards) in the league.

"Right now, Joe has one read and then he's got to check it down if it's not there," Pitta told WBAL.

However, head coach John Harbaugh said that is simply not the case and insisted Flacco is managing a much more complicated system.

"The read progression is always one through five if you get them all out," Harbaugh said. "And the check down is part of that. Sometimes the check down might be two and most of the time it's three or four, depending on where the structure of the defense puts the quarterback's eyes. I know how the offense is built and it's just not that simple."

Flacco was also aware of the comments. However, he did put much stock into the analysis.

"I think we all can see the obvious when you go out and watch the games on Sunday," Flacco said. "We're not performing at the level that we need to, to win football games. It doesn't really matter what you say. It's pretty obvious as to what people see and we know that. That's why we're working on getting better."

NOTES: RB Bobby Rainey was waived on Tuesday. With the potential return of Danny Woodhead and Terrance West, the Ravens did not have room for five running backs on the active roster. Rainey was a key player on special teams and returned a kickoff for a touchdown. However, Michael Campanaro (hamstring) could also be healthy enough to resume his role as the team's primary returner. ... G Andrew Donnal was added on waivers Monday for depth. Donnal, who was waived by the Los Angeles Rams on Saturday, has started six career games. Donnal was a fourth-round pick out of Iowa in 2015. ... FB Ricky Ortiz was signed to the practice squad. He was placed on the team's practice squad at the end of the preseason, before being released with an injury settlement in early October. Ortiz appears to be fully healthy. In a corresponding move, Baltimore released guard Jason King. ... CB Jimmy Smith (Achilles) was the only player not on the practice field Wednesday. He has been dealing with the injury for several weeks, but has been able to play. If Smith is held out, rookie Marlon Humphrey could take his spot in the starting lineup.

No one has shouted yet.
Be the first!