Carroll County Times

Ravens notebook: J. Smith making positive strides

OWINGS MILLS â At different points during last weekâs game against the Buffalo Bills, Ravens cornerback Jimmy Smith could be seen on the stationary bike on Baltimoreâs sideline.
He suffered a bruised gluteal muscle early in the game.
But while Smith may have been dealing with pain or discomfort, he was on the field for nearly every defensive snap, and his play was a primary reason the Ravens were able to limit Bills standout wide receiver Stevie Johnson to one catch for minus-1 yard.
Smith had a bad game against the Atlanta Falcons during the preseason, and he struggled during Baltimoreâs loss to the Denver Broncos in Week 1, but the game against Buffalo was another positive showing for Smith as he continues to finally look like the viable starting cornerback the Ravens expected to get when they took Smith in the first round of the 2011 NFL draft.
âHe fought through [the injury] the whole game ⦠and played very well with that,â coach John Harbaugh said.
Smith was called for a 17-yard pass interference penalty during the first quarter. But according to Pro Football Focus, the Bills completed just one pass with Smith in coverage, an 11-yard pass to wide receiver Robert Woods.
âI thought he did a great job against Johnson,â Baltimore defensive coordinator Dean Pees said, later adding, âI know we had that pass interference call. But to be honest with you, Iâd tell Jimmy to do the same thing every time because some receivers have learned over the years how to flop when they get hit. Hey, itâs not bad. If you get jammed up, thatâs probably what you ought to do. You may get a call, and he got one.
âBut I think [Jimmy] has really been playing consistent, and thatâs what weâre looking for [from] him. I think I said that a couple weeks ago that thatâs what he really needed to do was be consistent. Hopefully, itâs trending in the right direction.â
MONROEâS STATUS: According to Harbaugh, new Ravens left tackle Eugene Monroe was at Baltimoreâs team headquarters with the Ravensâ offensive line coaches and was then in again early Friday morning as he tries to acclimate himself to Baltimoreâs offensive scheme in time to play in Sundayâs game against the Miami Dolphins. Harbaugh was non-committal when asked if Monroe will play, but he said that Monroe âseems good and seems sharp.â
â[He] went through practice here [Friday] and seemed like he knew what he was doing,â Harbaugh said.
Ultimately, though, Harbaugh said the decision on whether Monroe plays could be made by Monroe.
âTo me, thatâs probably the main thing is how he feels about it,â Harbaugh said, adding, âIf he gives us feedback and says heâs comfortable and can go, I would think weâd be very confident that he knows what heâs talking about.â
If Monroe isnât comfortable enough to start, the Ravens will likely start Bryant McKinnie, the man Monroe was brought in to replace.
GETTING HEALTHY: Harbaugh and wide receiver Jacoby Jones were both non-committal on whether Jones will play Sunday, but Harbaugh said Friday that Jones made âsignificantâ progress in practice this week.
Jones returned to practice Wednesday for the first time since spraining the medial collateral ligament in his right knee against the Denver Broncos in Week 1. He practiced on a limited basis Wednesday, Thursday and Friday.
âHe looked good,â Harbaugh said.
Jones acknowledged that heâs still experiencing pain in the knee.
â[But] everyoneâs got pain,â Jones said. âItâs just about whether I can tolerate and deal with it, and it ainât no pain [that] I canât deal with.â
Jones was listed as questionable on Baltimoreâs final injury report Friday.
INJURY REPORT: Along with Jones, receivers Marlon Brown (thigh), Deonte Thompson (concussion) and Brandon Stokley (thigh) are all listed as questionable for Sundayâs game against Miami.
So are cornerback Lardarius Webb (thigh), defensive lineman Marcus Spears (knee), inside linebacker Albert McClellan (shoulder), inside linebacker Arthur Brown (shoulder) and running back Shaun Draughn (ankle).
Webb, Marlon Brown and Thompson were all limited participants in Fridayâs practice after not practicing either Wednesday or Thursday.
However, Stokley didnât practice Friday after working on a limited basis the previous two days. Spears also didnât practice. He was added to the injury report Thursday and didnât practice either Thursday or Friday. Defensive lineman Terrence Cody (knee) and center Ryan Jensen (foot) are both listed as doubtful.
MAKING PROGRESS: The Ravens are still weeks away from making any determination on whether injured tight end Dennis Pitta will be able to play this season, but Pitta is making progress in his recovery from the dislocated and fractured hip he suffered in late July. Pitta caught passes from the JUGS machine before practice Friday and Harbaugh said Pitta has advanced to the point that heâs running a good amount on machines inside the Ravensâ weight room.
âIâll be honest with you,â Harbaugh said. âIâm pretty impressed. ⦠Every time I see Dennis I guess I get mixed emotions. Iâm happy that heâs doing so well and Iâm not happy that heâs not already out there playing right now. Heâs doing a good job.â