When the Ravens played the Pittsburgh Steelers last month, Jameel McClain played his first game in nearly a year and took the majority of the snaps at weak-side linebacker in place of Josh Bynes, who sat out the game with an infected finger. After that game, we were told McClain would be the starter at that spot.
McClain has started every game since then, including Thursday night’s 22-20 win over the Steelers, but the distribution of snaps for McClain, Bynes and rookie Arthur Brown has varied from week to week.
Surprisingly, it was Bynes who ended up getting the majority of snaps at weak-side linebacker Thursday.
Bynes, who made six tackles, played 40 of the 66 defensive snaps, the most he has played since Week 6. Meanwhile, McClain, who made three tackles and did not appear to get banged-up at any point, played just 18 snaps. Brown, who lost some nickel package snaps to McClain, played just eight snaps.
It’s unclear if Bynes has wrestled the weak-side job back from McClain or if his increase in playing time was game-plan specific. I’m interested to see how the snaps will be split at the position next week against Adrian Peterson and the Minnesota Vikings.
Here are other observations from the official snap counts:
--- After all the talk about Joe Flacco, Tyrod Taylor and the two-quarterback offense, Taylor did not play a single snap in the win over the Steelers. Coach John Harbaugh said the team had two-QB plays in the game plan -- and will in the future -- but the flow of the game dictated that they should keep Taylor on the sideline and let Flacco throw.
--- Ray Rice and Bernard Pierce split snaps at running back pretty evenly in Sunday's win over the New York Jets, but the backfield belonged to Rice on Thursday against the Steelers. Rice played 42 of the 63 offensive snaps while Pierce, who was more effective as a runner, played just 21. Both players averaged less than four yards per carry, though.
--- Despite missing time with an ankle injury, Elvis Dumervil played 34 snaps at strong-side linebacker, one fewer than Courtney Upshaw. Rush linebacker Terrell Suggs sat out just six defensive snaps, but his backup, Pernell McPhee, still managed 15 snaps due to Dumervil's injury. Middle linebacker Daryl Smith played every snap.
--- Two weeks after missing a game with a knee injury and four days after he was limited against the Jets, nose tackle Haloti Ngata played 41 snaps against the Steelers, the most of any Ravens defensive lineman. Fellow starters Arthur Jones and Chris Canty played 33 and 30 snaps, respectively. Backup nose tackle Terrence Cody played 15 snaps while backup defensive end DeAngelo Tyson played 10.
--- The Ravens offense opened their first drive in the I formation with Rice behind fullback Vonta Leach, but it would be just one of eight snaps for Leach on offense.
--- With the Steelers often using three-receiver sets, it was a busy day for the Ravens secondary. Nickel cornerback Corey Graham played 56 snaps and fourth corner Chykie Brown played four after starter Jimmy Smith got hurt late in the game. Safeties Matt Elam and James Ihedigbo and cornerback Lardarius Webb played every snap.
--- Slot receiver Brandon Stokley made two key catches for 27 yards, but he played just five snaps before exiting the game with a knee injury. That injury may have led to more playing time for Tandon Doss, who played 13 snaps. Torrey Smith led all Ravens wide receivers with 59 snaps. Marlon Brown played 52 and Jacoby Jones played 45.
--- Ed Dickson got 41 snaps at tight end while Dallas Clark got 23. Dennis Pitta was not activated for the game, but he could return next weekend to play the Vikings.
--- Fullback Kyle Juszczyk led the Ravens with 22 snaps on special teams. Five others played at least 15 special-teams snaps. Those players were Josh Bynes, Jeromy Miles, Anthony Levine, Albert McClellan and Chykie Brown.Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun