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Lack of pass rush puts pressure on Ravens DBs

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OWINGS MILLS, Md. — The Baltimore Ravens’ defense is not putting on pressure up front, which, in turn, is applying too much pressure in the backfield.

The result has been too many big plays late in games, some of which decide those games and all of which help position the Ravens No. 26 overall in defense.

The Ravens have not effectively pressured opposing quarterbacks. They also have also struggled to get opposing offenses off the field. So it should be no surprise that the Ravens are last in the NFL in allowing teams to convert third downs.

“We’re in every single game, so that means we have the opportunity to win,” Ravens cornerback Jimmy Smith said. “When you mess up, one play is more magnified when you’re losing a lot of games.

“It’s tough. I know everybody is sitting with probably the worst feelings in their stomachs. But we have to come through. It’s unacceptable.”

Meanwhile, changes are the order of the week in the defensive backfield.

Cornerback Lardarius Webb, sidelined last week because of a hamstring problem, returned to practice. Webb was injured Week 5 against Cleveland and could not practice leading up the 49ers game.

The Ravens desperately need him this week against the Cardinals because of the number of injuries and ineffective play in the secondary.

Safety Kendrick Lewis was knocked out of the previous game against San Francisco because of a knee injury that was eventually diagnosed as a bone bruise. His availability this week is uncertain.

“We’ll see where it goes throughout the course of the week,” coach John Harbaugh said. “He was feeling pretty good today, but those things are hard to predict.”

Against that backdrop, cornerback Sheldon Price was signed to the Ravens practice squad this week for added depth in the secondary.

Price, an undrafted rookie from UCLA, spent much of the last two seasons on the Indianapolis Colts’ practice squad. He appeared in two games this season but was waived after sustaining an ankle injury.

–Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco is taking a lot of heat for the team’s slow start. He committed several costly turnovers that led to crucial points by opponents.

However, Flacco is hampered by a lack of weapons on offense, particularly at wide receiver, where there is no downfield threat.

Baltimore allowed Torrey Smith to leave via free agency to sign with the San Francisco 49ers. He showed his value by catching a 76-yard touchdown pass against his former team on Sunday.

First-round pick Breshad Perriman was expected to fill that void, but has yet to play a snap this season because of a knee injury. There is no announced timetable for his return.

Coach John Harbaugh was asked recently if Flacco regressed this season.

“I would never use that term,” Harbaugh said. “I don’t think it’s fair for a guy of his career. He has had to throw more than he’s going to want to throw. He’s going to tell you that. He’s going to be the guy that’s going to be the first one to look at that and see that that’s a part of it, and we have to go to work on that.”

Nonetheless, Flacco signed a huge contract to be the team’s franchise quarterback. When the losses mount, he is certainly is going to be held accountable.

NOTES: Tight end Dennis Pitta (hip) began practicing this week after being placed on the physically unable to perform (PUP) list before the season. Now that he is participating in team drills, Baltimore has three weeks to place him on the active roster or keep him on the PUP list. … Defensive end Chris Canty (calf) was back at practice this week, but that doesn’t mean he will be handed his job. Lawrence Guy started in Canty’s absence and played effectively. … Defensive end Brent Urban (biceps) is eligible to return to practice this week after being placed on injured reserve with a designation to return list prior to the season. … Defensive end Nordly Capi was signed to the practice squad this week. Capi, an undrafted rookie from Akron, was with the Jacksonville Jaguars during training camp and had three sacks in preseason games before being cut. … Safety Terrence Brooks was inactive against the 49ers because of a hand injury and there was no update on his status Wednesday.


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