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Poor performance has Ravens focusing on improved special teams play

Baltimore Ravens Special Teams Coordinator Jerry Rosburg talks about penalties and relying on veterans during difficult times. (Kenneth K. Lam, Baltimore Sun video)

At the beginning of Wednesday's practice, Ravens special teams coordinator Jerry Rosburg berated several of his players during punt coverage drills. On Thursday, he kept some of his younger special teamers on the field following practice to review various skills.

Rosburg has turned up the heat this week on his group, which uncharacteristically struggled in the team's 28-27 loss to the Oakland Raiders on Sunday.

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"We're not frustrated. We know we need to improve. We had a really good practice today to try and do that," Rosburg said. "We recognize our deficiencies. There's been a lot of really good, honest assessment by our players of what we need to do, and with coaches being a part of that. I'm really confident that we're going to be better."

In the loss to the Raiders, the Ravens allowed four punt returns for 90 total yards, including a 47-yard return by Jalen Richard down to the 6-yard line late in the first quarter. On the very next play, Derek Carr hit Seth Roberts for a touchdown pass.

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The bad day on special teams also included allowing three kickoff returns for 66 yards, return specialist Devin Hester Sr. fumbling for a second straight week – he recovered it this time – and Maxx Williams and Kamar Aiken each getting called for 15-yard penalties. Williams was called for unnecessary roughness, while Aiken's infraction was fair catch interference.

"We've had some penalties that are completely avoidable," Rosburg said. "We're working on that. I trust our guys. I know we're going to grow from this. We need to play better Sunday."

Rosburg was encouraged to see one of the core veterans take accountability during practice earlier this week.

"The question was asked, 'What's going on?' And one of our veteran players said this: 'I've got to play better,'" Rosburg said. "That's exactly what you're looking for. You're looking for accountability and guys understanding they are a part of a whole, and they're going to do everything they can to help us play better. Certainly, it wasn't all him. He knew that and we all knew that. But his statement was, 'I've got to play better.' We're going to be fine with attitudes like that."

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