Every morning, Monday through Friday, blogger Matt Vensel will hook you up with reading material -- mostly on the Ravens but with some other Baltimore sports stuff, too -- to skim through as you slug down coffee and slack off at the start of your workday. That way he'll have an excuse to do the same to start his workday, too.
RUNNING IT BACK
Ravens officials have begun preliminary contract talks with offensive tackle Michael Oher. … Mike Preston handed out his first-half grades for the Ravens, and some of them aren't pretty. … Through seven games this season, the workload for Ravens running back Ray Rice hasn't been much different than it was last season.
RAVENS STUFF, BUT NOT FROM US
The Ravens are using their bye week to correct their run defense. … They are back to their old ways when it comes to penalties. … Young linemen Gino Gradkowski and Jah Reid are prepping for bigger roles. … Pundits suddenly doubt Baltimore's playoff chances. … Joe Flacco is the only quarterback since 2008 to be tackled for a safety, fumble and throw a pick-six in the same game.
BEHIND ENEMY LINES
With the Ravens now on their bye, I will retire this section until next week. To tide you over, here are pictures of Ravens cheerleaders.
SHAMELESS PLUG OF THE DAY
Here are five Ravens stats that stand out this week, including the team's struggles throwing the ball against the Houston Texans and Ravens coach John Harbaugh's track record following the bye.
OUTSIDE OF BALTIMORE
Cleveland Browns defensive tackle Phil Taylor could return for the Week 9 game against the Ravens. … New York Jets coach Rex Ryan still wants to put hot sauce on Miami Dolphins running back Reggie Bush. … The Titans are looking for linebackers, including former Maryland Terrapins standout E.J. Henderson. … Kansas City Chiefs linebacker Tamba Hali called the Oakland Raiders dirty. … New York Giants quarterback Eli Manning said that he developed bad habits early in his career by trying to keep some veterans happy. … Detroit Lions defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh was the NFL's least liked player in a recent fan poll by Forbes.