NFL Wire News

Ravens try to avoid first-ever 0-3 start

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The Sports Xchange

OWINGS MILLS, Md. — The Baltimore Ravens are looking to avoid their first 0-3 start in franchise history Sunday against the Cincinnati Bengals — a team coach John Harbaugh called the “most talented” in the league.

The Ravens had several missed tackles, blown coverages and all-around undisciplined play in a 37-33 loss at Oakland in Week 2. The task won’t get an easier this week against the Bengals, who are 2-0 and have balance on both sides of the ball.

The Ravens desperately need a victory to avoid falling into a deep early-season hole that might be too difficult to overcome. With the two losses, Baltimore is in last place in the AFC North

Baltimore is the only active team in the NFL to have never gotten off to a 0-3 start, according to ESPN Stats & Information. The goal Sunday is to avoid joining the rest of the league in that category.

“We all understand the situation,” Harbaugh said. “We’ve lost two games in a row before. We’ve lost three games in a row before and we’ve overcome it. But we’ve never done it in the beginning of the season so it feels a lot tougher.

“Until you win your first game, you always have in the back of your mind: ‘Can we win a game?” f course you can. But you have to win one. Every game is a fight.”

The Bengals, meanwhile, have moved in the opposite direction. They improved to 2-0 with a 24-19 victory over the Chargers.

Quarterback Andy Dalton already thrown five touchdown passes and has a 120.3 quarterback rating.

Tight end Tyler Eifert has caught three of those touchdown passes. Receivers A.J. Green, Giovani Bernard, Marvin Jones and Mohamed Sanu has also been solid.

“We’ve seen a lot of them over the years, and they have a lot of really good receivers, they have weapons,” Harbaugh said. “I’ll tell you, I do believe it is the most talented team in the league. I’ve seen that over the years.

“We have great respect for them, for their coaches (and) the way they play. Obviously, it starts with (wide receiver) A.J. Green, but the whole cast of characters there on offense is very talented and gifted — tight ends, running backs, quarterback. The whole group is very good, and they have a heck of an offensive line. I’d say they’re the complete package, talentwise.”

After being shut down in the season opener against the Denver Broncos, the Ravens bounced back against the Oakland Raiders, putting up 493 yards of total offense but still lost 37-33.

Quarterback Joe Flacco completed 32-of-45 passes for 384 yards with two touchdowns and a late interception.

Flacco, however, has traditionally struggled against the Bengals. He has thrown 13 touchdowns, but also has 18 interceptions in 14 career games against them.

Another challenge facing the Ravens is the lack of a downfield receiving threat. First-round pick Breshad Perriman was supposed to fill that role but he has been out since the first day of training camp because of a knee injury.

Baltimore’s biggest advantage this week might be playing at home. Under Harbaugh, the Ravens are 45-11 record at M&T Bank Stadium — the NFL’s second-best home mark since he arrived in 2008.

“It’s good to be home,” Harbaugh said. “You get eight [games] at home and eight on the road, so we’re looking forward to getting one at home this week and seeing if we can make the most of it.”

–Ravens tight end Crockett Gillmore had a breakout game in Week 2 against the Raiders. The second-year tight player caught five passes for 88 yards with two touchdowns. Gillmore has gained the confidence of quarterback Joe Flacco and is becoming a bigger part of the game plan each week. “This is what I’ve felt like I’ve done from the first day,” Gillmore said. “I took what I did here with the Ravens last year and just continued to practice.” Gillmore’s play has also impressed his coaches. He is one of the few bright spots to the team’s slow start. “Crockett has played pretty well both games, and I’ve seen him make the plays he’s capable of making,” Baltimore coach John Harbaugh said. “He’s a heck of a blocker, and he can continue to improve there. He’s still young. He can make plays out in the field. He has range. He’s a big, strong, athletic guy. Obviously, the catch and run plays were pretty impressive. But still, there were things in there that he has to do better, and he’ll be the first to tell you. He’s looking at some assignment issues and some technique issues that he has to improve on. So, that’s really what we look at. You take everybody where they are at right now and try to improve on what they’re doing.”

–LT Eugene Monroe (concussion) left the Broncos game in the first quarter and did not play at Oakland last Sunday. He did not practice Wednesday and is questionable against the Bengals. James Hurst has been effective filling in for him.

–CB Rashaan Melvin (hamstring) missed the Raiders game. He also has been limited with a soft-tissue injury in his thigh that he suffered in training camp. The Ravens traded a 2016 seventh round pick to Miami this week for CB Will Davis for added depth. Davis is a three-year NFL veteran and was selected by Miami in the third round of the 2013 draft. Melvin was at practice this week.

–WR Breshad Perriman (knee) has not played in a game this season after being injured on the first day of training camp, July 30. The Ravens have not revealed a timetable for his return. When asked whether Perriman was close to getting back on the field, Ravens coach John Harbaugh said: “Not that I’ve been told. I have no update on it.” Perriman was expected to serve as the team’s primary downfield threat.

–RB Terrence Magee was waived by the Ravens to make room for newly acquired CB Will Davis. Magee, who went undrafted, was originally released just before to the regular season when the Ravens set their regular season roster. He was placed on the practice squad, but promoted to the active roster when RB Lorenzo Taliaferro went down with a knee injury. Taliaferro returned Week 2 against Oakland.

–LB C.J. Mosley was listed with a knee injury but was able to practice this week. Mosley had a team-high nine tackles Week 2 against the Raiders. He appears on track to play in the home-opener against the Bengals.

–RB Lorenzo Taliaferro did not practice Wednesday because of an injured foot. The Ravens did not provide additional details. However, Taliaferro missed the end of training camp and the regular season opener after suffering an MCL sprain in the second preseason game against the Eagles. Rookie Javorius “Buck” Allen probably will serve as the primary backup to starter Justin Forsett if Taliaferro can’t play Sunday.

–DE Chris Canty was held out of practice Wednesday because of a calf injury. He appeared to sustain the injury in the second half against Oakland in Week 2. His status for this week’s game against the Bengals is uncertain.


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