Shorthanded all season, the Ravens' wide receiver corps could get some reinforcements from as soon as this week.
Wide receiver Jacoby Jones is scheduled to start practicing this week, according to coach John Harbaugh. Jones missed the past three games with a sprained medial collateral ligament in his right knee suffered during a 49-27 season-opening defeat against the Denver Broncos.
Although it's not guaranteed that Jones will will play Sunday against the Miami Dolphins, he resumed jogging last week and was on the field moving around without any apparent difficulty prior to the Ravens' 23-20 loss to the Buffalo Bills.
The Ravens' receiver depth and special teams have been impacted by not having Jones, a Pro Bowl selection last season who scored a pair of touchdowns on a kick return and reception in Super Bowl XLVII. The units also have missed wide receiver Deonte Thompson, who sat out the first three games with a sprained left foot.
“It's hurt us, there's no question,” Ravens coach John Harbaugh said Monday. “We're down legs on that side of the ball, and it's hard to run the way you want and work on the things you want to work on, but you have to do it. Everybody faces that. It will be good to get those guys back.”
Thompson is arguably the fastest player on the roster. He returned Sunday only to suffer a concussion against the Bills on an illegal hit by former Ravens safety Jim Leonhard where he drew a penalty for hitting a defenseless receiver.
Thompson will undergo the standard baseline neurological testing protocol that the NFL requires, but his outlook appears positive based on how he responded Monday.
“He was good, no headaches, no concussion symptoms,” Harbaugh said. “The foot came out there very well, so that was positive.”
The Ravens are also upbeat about the health of wide receivers Brandon Stokley, who was scratched Sunday with a groin injury, and Marlon Brown, who strained his hamstring against the Bills.
“I really feel like Marlon and Brandon will have a chance to practice,” Harbaugh said. “So that will help us.”
Stopping the draw
When the Ravens reviewed the game Monday, they kept seeing a disturbing pattern on defense as they were unable to slow down the Bills' draw play.
The Bills rushed for 203 yards on 55 attempts, a single-game franchise record for a Ravens opponent.
“The biggest thing was they hit a certain play, a lead draw, a lead scheme play, and we didn't do a good job of defending it consistently,” Harbaugh said. “There were times we stuffed it, but there were times they got us for chunks of yards. They were able to play the kind of game that you need to play to win those games.
“It was just playing that scheme, getting off blocks. They got up to our linebackers at times when we didn't need them to. We didn't play techniques as tight as we needed to on edges, inside and outside. They're things we can do better.”
Plagued by penalties
Along with quarterback Joe Flacco throwing a career-high five interceptions and an ineffective running game Sunday, the Ravens' offense was also infected by the penalty bug.
The Ravens were penalized eight times for 59 yards, including starting the game with consecutive penalties on their opening drive as offensive guard Kelechi Osemele was flagged for a facemask and running back Ray Rice committed a false start.
Later, offensive guard Marshal Yanda and tight end Ed Dickson had false starts and offensive tackle Michael Oher was penalized for holding.
“We have a facemask penalty the first play of the game, it's absolutely unnecessary,” Harbaugh said. “Ray gets a little jumpy and jumps offside. Now, we're backed up inside or right around our 5-yard line. We've got to start faster.”
Harbaugh said he addressed the penalty issue with players Monday.
“We have to find a way to win the tough games, but not find a way to shoot ourselves in the foot with penalties,” said wide receiver Torrey Smith, the primary bright spot offensively Sunday with five receptions for 166 yards and a touchdown. “Same thing two games in a row in terms of offense. We're starting from behind the count because we're having penalties.”
Webb's injury considered minor
Starting cornerback Lardarius Webb's strained hamstring that kept him out after the first quarter isn't considered a long-term injury.
“He looked good,” Harbaugh said regarding Webb's status Monday morning.
Reserve inside linebacker Albert McClellan only suffered a sprained right shoulder Sunday, a magnetic resonance imaging exam revealed. It's the same shoulder McClellan had surgery on during the offseason to repair a torn labrum.
Limited last week with a strained left pectoral and scratched Sunday, rookie inside linebacker Arthur Brown is practicing again this week.
The Ravens hope to get safety Jeromy Miles involved on special teams after picking him up off waivers last week from the Cincinnati Bengals. Miles has been dealing with a hamstring injury that he suffered while playing for the Bengals. ... Running back Bernard Pierce has a strained calf Harbaugh said running back Shaun Draughn's high-ankle sprain is improving.
Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun