NFL Wire News

Ravens need yet another cornerback


OWINGS MILLS, Md. — The Baltimore Ravens have the sixth and final playoff spot in the AFC heading into the final two weeks of the season.

Despite being in a solid position, Baltimore is faced with another crisis in the secondary. Asa Jackson became the fifth Ravens cornerback to be lost for the season, joining Jimmy Smith, Danny Gorrer, Aaron Ross and Tramain Jacobs, coach John Harbaugh confirmed.

Jackson just returned Sunday against Jacksonville after missing much of the year with an injured toe, but he hurt his knee breaking up a pass. Safety Terrence Brooks also suffered a right knee injury on the opening kickoff and is lost for the year. Baltimore could add another player this week.

“Well, I don’t think you can ever feel like you have enough depth to get you through, so we’ll be looking at all our options,” Harbaugh said. “It’s one thing to hope to have a guy; it’s another thing to find a guy. So, we’re just looking at our options right now as we speak, and we’ll have some answers probably over the next two days on that.”

As it stands, the Ravens have Lardarius Webb, Anthony Levine, Antoine Cason and Rashaan Melvin as their healthy cornerbacks. There will be some margin for error when Baltimore travels to Houston for a Week 16 matchup.

Both Texans quarterbacks, Ryan Fitzpatrick and Tom Savage, are injured. So, the Ravens could either see Thad Lewis or Case Keenum, who was just signed Monday. Harbaugh said the Ravens will prepare the same way for the Texans, regardless of who is behind center.

“We’ll prepare for their system and their scheme,” Harbaugh said. “We’ll try to anticipate as best we can how we think they’ll attack us — scheme-wise and philosophically how they’ll approach the game — and try to gear our game plan and our reps accordingly as best we can. Who plays quarterback is definitely a part of that. We’ll be looking at that and we’ll have to prepare for both of those two possibilities.”

In the season finale, Baltimore hosts the fading Cleveland Browns and perhaps another rookie quarterback in Johnny Manziel. If Baltimore wins both of those games, the team will head to the playoffs for the sixth time in seven seasons under Harbaugh.

For now, the focus is entirely on beating Houston.

“Our guys continue to fight,” Harbaugh said. “They show great faith and they show courage, and that’s what this league is all about, especially this time of year. We’ll analyze everything that we can do to improve and anything that applies for next week. If it doesn’t apply to next week, we don’t care about it. It’s past us. It’s history. We don’t need to look back at it.”

NOTES: WR Steve Smith has surpassed 900 receptions, becoming the 18th player in league history to reach that milestone. Smith has 902 receptions for 13,123 yards. He passed Hall of Famer Steve Largent for 15th on the all-time receiving list. “Every week there’s always something you need to improve on, and hey, those guys get paid, too,” Smith said. “Nobody’s going to come in here and lay down. You don’t expect that from anybody.” … LB Elvis Dumervil has a career-high 17 sacks — already a team record with two weeks remaining. He could make a run at the NFL record of 22.5 set by Michael Strahan in 2001. … WR Torrey Smith was able to play after being limited in Week 14 against Miami and missing some practice time with a right knee sprain. After suffering an early drop, Smith caught two passes for 16 yards against the Jaguars. “The knee felt great and it feels good to get a team victory,” Smith said.

CB Asa Jackson injured his knee breaking up a pass midway through the third quarter and did not return. Ravens coach John Harbaugh confirmed Jackson will miss the rest of the season with posterior cruciate ligament injury. “It’s a five-week injury, so we’ll be ruling him out the rest of the way,” Harbaugh said.


–PASSING OFFENSE: C-plus — Quarterback Joe Flacco completed 20 of 30 passes for 221 yards, with a touchdown and no turnovers. He did a solid job managing the game but was hampered by several drops by his receivers and some careless penalties. Marlon Brown led the receiving corps with five catches for 66 yards. Tight end Owen Daniels caught his fourth touchdown pass of the season.

–RUSHING OFFENSE: C — The Ravens dealt with eight men in the box for portions of the game. Running back Justin Forsett took a hard hit in the second quarter and limped off the field. He returned and finished with 48 yards on 16 carries. Bernard Pierce had one of his better games: 37 yards on 16 carries, including a key 28-yard run in the fourth quarter. The Ravens finished with 93 yards on 26 carries.

–PASS DEFENSE: B — Baltimore’s secondary continued to play through injuries when safety Terrence Brooks (knee) and cornerback Asa Jackson (knee) were forced to leave. Baltimore finished the game Lardarius Webb, Anthony Levine and Rashaan Melvin in the secondary and the three of them held up well against rookie Blake Bortles, who was sacked eight times.

–RUSH DEFENSE: A-minus — Few teams have been able to run on the Ravens this season and Jacksonville was no exception. Baltimore held Jacksonville to 82 yards on 23 carries. Baltimore’s front seven did a solid job dominating the Jaguars’ offensive line.

–SPECIAL TEAMS: C-minus — Justin Tucker uncharacteristically missed two field goals from over 50 yards. The Ravens were also caught off-guard twice, allowing Jacksonville to recover an onside kick and later gain 19 yards on a fake punt. Baltimore also committed some costly penalties. Darian Stewart did block a punt that allowed Kamar Aiken to pick up the loose ball and run 11 yards for a touchdown.

–COACHING: C-minus — The Ravens were 14-point favorites but could not put Jacksonville away. Baltimore once again committed some careless penalties and the offense had trouble getting into sync most of the game. The Ravens did take advantage of facing a rookie quarterback, sacking Blake Bortles eight times. Baltimore also took over the sixth and final playoff spot in the AFC with San Diego’s loss to Denver.

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