Two weeks ago, when the Ravens lost to the Pittsburgh Steelers, former All-Pro fullback Vonta Leach played just a dozen offensive snaps as the Ravens spread out the Steelers with three-receiver sets. His role on offense would shrink significantly more Sunday in the team’s 24-18 loss to the Cleveland Browns.
Leach played just two offensive snaps against the Browns, his lowest number -- not including last year’s meaningless season finale against the Cincinnati Bengals -- since joining the Ravens two seasons ago.
Maybe his lack of activity shouldn’t be too surprising considering the Ravens cut him in the offseason and brought him back with a smaller salary. The offense has been heading in this direction over the past couple years, and they don’t have much use for a fullback when they want to throw the ball all over the place in their 11 personnel. It probably didn’t help that the Ravens fell behind in the second quarter.
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The Browns certainly appreciated Leach’s absence, though it remains to be seen if the Ravens offense is better off with him on the field than it is with him on the sideline.
Here are other observations from the official snap counts:
--- Even with Josh Bynes back on the field, Jameel McClain, as expected, got the start at weak-side linebacker and played 47 of the 71 defensive snaps, 17 more than he played in the loss to the Steelers. Rookie Arthur Brown got 13 snaps at weak-side linebacker in the sub package. Bynes was active but spelled McClain for just nine snaps. One can assume this is how the snaps will be divvied out at the position for the immediate future. Once again, Daryl Smith played all 71 snaps at middle linebacker.
--- Rookie wide receiver Marlon Brown continues to play more than Jacoby Jones, though the gap has narrowed. Brown, who caught two touchdown passes, played 55 snaps. Jones, in his third game back from a knee injury, played 41. Deonte Thompson played 31. And Tandon Doss played 17. Torrey Smith only sat out two snaps.
--- Starting cornerback Jimmy Smith left the game in the second half with a groin injury, leading to more snaps for Corey Graham and pushing fourth cornerback Chykie Brown into action on defense. Graham played 38 snaps, while Brown played eight. Cornerback Lardarius Webb and strong safety James Ihedigbo played every snap. Free safety Matt Elam sat out one snap after getting shaken up in the fourth quarter. Reserve safeties Omar Brown and Jeromy Miles played two snaps and one snap, respectively.
--- With Kelechi Osemele out, A.Q. Shipley played 72 offensive snaps at left guard. All five starters went the distance and rookie tackle Rick Wagner played two snaps.
--- With the Ravens in their base defense more than usual, Elvis Dumervil played just 30 snaps against the Browns and did not show up on the stat sheet. Courtney Upshaw played 52 snaps at strong-side linebacker, one of his highest totals of the season. Terrell Suggs played 59 snaps at rush linebacker and Pernell McPhee played 18.
--- Despite his struggles, Ray Rice continues to get the majority of snaps at running back. He played 50 snaps. Backup Bernard Pierce played 22. Neither player was effective, though. They combined for 28 yards on 17 carries. Quarterback Joe Flacco had 25 on three scrambles. Newly-signed running back Bernard Scott was inactive.
--- After splitting the snaps equally with Dallas Clark in the loss in Pittsburgh, tight end Ed Dickson played nearly twice as many as Clark in Cleveland. Dickson played 46 snaps, while Clark played 24. Both were nearly invisible, though. Dickson had one catch for 3 yards, while Clark had one for 14.
--- Backup nose tackle Terrence Cody played 19 snaps in his return from a knee injury. Rookie Brandon Williams, expected to see an increase in snaps after the release of Marcus Spears, played 15. Starting nose tackle Haloti Ngata led all Ravens defensive linemen with 57 snaps, followed by starting defensive tackle Arthur Jones with 45 and starting defensive end Chris Canty with 39.
--- Bynes had a smaller role on defense, but it freed him up to play a season-high 26 snaps on special teams. Anthony Levine led the Ravens with 27. Chykie Brown, Omar Brown, Miles, Albert McClellan and Kyle Juszczyk all played more than 20 special teams snaps.