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Ravens news, notes and opinions on Pernell McPhee, Jacoby Jones and more

It seemingly happens every season. A Ravens defensive player has a career year heading into free agency and suddenly prices himself out of the team's market. Last year, it was defensive lineman Arthur Jones. The year before that, it was linebackers Paul Kruger and Dannell Ellerbe. This season, outside linebacker-defensive end Pernell McPhee is in the process of following in their footsteps. He might not be the most valuable Ravens defensive player through seven games, but he’s arguably their most versatile. McPhee has four sacks while pretty much rushing from every position along the defensive line. With injuries to Chris Canty, Timmy Jernigan, Kapron Lewis-Moore and Brent Urban, McPhee’s ability to bounce around and create havoc from wherever he has lined up has been vital for a defense that has gotten better each week. During our weekly conference calls with opposing coaches and players, they never fail to mention McPhee when discussing the talent on the Ravens’ defense. Assuming he...

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Ravens cornerback Lardarius Webb plays every snap in win over Falcons

Although Ravens cornerback Lardarius Webb wasn’t exactly thrilled with his performance, he played every defensive snap for the first time this season Sunday during a 29-7 win over the Atlanta Falcons.

Webb has dealt with a lower back injury for the majority of the season, but he is getting healthier now and has upgraded his stamina and mobility. He had six tackles and one pass defense against the Falcons, but also allowed eight catches for 83 yards on 10 passes thrown in his direction with a long reception surrendered of 24 yards.

“I’m coming along,” Webb said. “I just got to keep getting better. I gave up a couple balls. I’m happy about the win, but I got to get better.

“The defense played their butts off. We gave up stuff here and there, but the effort was 120 percent. It was awesome.”

Meanwhile, strong safety Matt Elam’s playing time was reduced drastically from his usual workload, getting just 22 snaps on defense. Elam has struggled in pass coverage throughout the season.

Back from...

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Ravens sticking with Jacoby Jones as primary returner

Jacoby Jones apparently won't lose his job as the Ravens' primary return specialist despite a series of miscues fielding punts.

Ravens coach John Harbaugh reaffirmed Monday that the one-time Pro Bowl selection will retain his status after muffing a punt Sunday during a 29-7 win over the Atlanta Falcons. It was the second time in three games that Jones fumbled a punt.

"I do," Harbaugh replied when asked if the team remains comfortable with Jones going forward.

Jones acknowledged that he should have called for a fair catch during the second quarter when he mishandled the football and it was recovered by Falcons special teams ace Eric Weems.

"I agree with that," Harbaugh said. "We're both in agreement on that."

Jones misjudged a punt that he lost against the Indianapolis Colts. He also attempted to catch a punt inside the Ravens' 2-yard line against the Carolina Panthers.

"I should have fair-caught the ball," Jones said Sunday. "I was just being aggressive. The gunner was bearing down. I...

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John Harbaugh assesses play of rookie linemen John Urschel, James Hurst

In the absence of two starting offensive linemen on the left side, the two rookies who stepped in for the Ravens -- fifth-round guard John Urschel and undrafted free-agent left tackle James Hurst -- drew mixed reviews from coach John Harbaugh on Monday.

Urschel, who has started two straight games with Kelechi Osemele battling back from a knee injury, has done a “great job,” the coach said.

“He’s stepped in, and it’s pretty hard to predict for a rookie to come in and play the way he’s played at left guard,” Harbaugh said.

The reserve guard from Penn State has performed in both facets of the game. The Ravens ran behind Urschel 12 times for 86 yards against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, and did so a dozen times again for 44 yards Sunday, according to Pro Football Focus. The site’s statistics say Urschel has only allowed one quarterback hurry in two games.

“He deserves it, he works really hard, and he loves football,” Harbaugh said. “He studies the game. He’s getting what he’s earned.”


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Browns promote fullback Kiero Small to active roster

The Cleveland Browns promoted former Cardinal Gibbons and Arkansas fullback Kiero Small to the active roster from the practice squad and cut starting fullback Ray Agnew, the team announced.

Small was drafted in the seventh round by the Seattle Seahawks, but was released by the Super Bowl champions.

It's been a long journey to the NFL for Small. After high school, Small attended Valley Forge Military Academy before leaving after one semester, discouraged by the highly regimented schedule that included a 4 a.m. reveille.

He then worked at his family's T-shirt business in downtown Baltimore before enrolling at Hartnell Junior College in California, where he developed into an All-American playing fullback and linebacker.

Small accepted a scholarship to Arkansas, where the Razorbacks installed him as a lead blocker.

The 5-foot-9, 242-pounder rushed for 151 yards and three touchdowns and caught 19 passes for 128 yards last season. He played last season after being granted a medical redshirt...

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Five Things We Learned from the Ravens' 29-7 win over the Atlanta Falcons

As he does each week, Childs Walker shares his biggest takeaways from the Ravens' 27-7 win over the Atlanta Falcons on Sunday.

1. The Ravens look like one of the best teams in the NFL.

This game struck me as sneakily interesting test for this year’s Ravens. Few expected them to lose to a Falcons team that has struggled badly on the road. But if the Ravens let up after an absurdly easy win in Tampa Bay, Atlanta had the offensive weapons to give them an uncomfortable week.

Instead, the Ravens jumped on Matt Ryan early with a vicious pass rush and enough offense to build a lead the Falcons never really threatened.

With nine penalties and three turnovers, the Ravens hardly produced their cleanest outing of the season. Joe Flacco took four hits after going untouched the previous week, in part because rookie tackle James Hurst continued his pattern of following strong games with weak ones.

Missteps aside, the Ravens handled their business, winning by 20 or more points for the fourth time...

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