Ravens have prepared for Rams' no-huddle offense

Furor over the New York Giants' questionable tactic of faking injuries notwithstanding, the Ravens are concentrating their defensive efforts on neutralizing the St. Louis Rams' no-huddle offense.

"It's going to be interesting," seven-time Pro Bowl free safety Ed Reed said. "Playing last week helped us out a lot. It's not like we haven't been practicing for it, because we have. But it's just going to be a little bit more up-tempo, which requires everybody's attention."

In Monday night's 28-16 loss to the Giants, St. Louis went to the hurry-up style 11 times, all in the first half. That philosophy contributed to the Rams' second field goal of the game from Josh Brown, helping trim New York's lead to 7-6.

Quarterback Sam Bradford completed 3 of 5 passes for 46 yards, including a 26-yard strike to tight end Lance Kendricks and a 17-yard throw to wide receiver Brandon Gibson. Running back Cadillac Williams — playing in place of the injured Steven Jackson (strained left quad) — gained 13 yards on five carries, and Jerious Norwood added another 2 yards on one attempt.

While those numbers might not seem terribly productive, the no-huddle offense was effective enough to elicit the Giants' comical response of having at least two players fall to the turf with injuries at the same time.

And St. Louis' lack of hesitation to quicken the pace of play has become a much-discussed topic in the Ravens' meeting rooms.

"The no-huddle stuff, we're spending a great deal of time on that," defensive coordinator Chuck Pagano said. "Communication is going to have to be on point. That's really one of our biggest concerns right now. You watched the game — half the time in those first couple of drives, they weren't even lined up. We're working like heck on that right now."

The Rams' usage of the no-huddle offense relies heavily on Bradford, the NFL's Offensive Rookie of the Year who set league rookie passing records in completions (354) and attempts (590) last season.

Bradford must get the call quickly from the offensive coaches, relay the call to his teammates, and line up the unit in a matter of seconds.

Bradford said the objective is to catch opposing defenses trying to substitute personnel or sending in the wrong package.

"It just forces the defense to think faster, make their calls faster," he said. "You know, they don't have as much time to react to what we're doing. They don't have as much time to get their calls in. It forces them, for the most part, to play with one personnel group. It doesn't allow them to sub much. I feel like if we do get a drive going in the no-huddle mode, sometimes we can wear out defenses. We may have to go 10 or 12 plays at a very quick tempo, and it's tough on those big guys. And when they can't sub, it makes it even harder."

In the Ravens, however, Bradford & Co. will meet a battle-tested, veteran defense that is accustomed to matching wits with the likes of the New England Patriots' Tom Brady and the Indianapolis Colts' Peyton Manning. That's why outside linebacker Terrell Suggs sounded indifferent about potentially seeing the no-huddle offense.

"We've just got to get our calls faster and be dialed in with what they're doing," Suggs said. "It's happening fast for them, too. They pretty much know what they're doing, and we've just got to know what we're doing and just execute. It's going to be different."

End zone: The Ravens ruled out starting wide receiver Lee Evans (left ankle) for Sunday. Evans did not practice this week, and he joins wide receiver David Reed (left shoulder strain) and rookie cornerback Jimmy Smith (high left ankle sprain) as three players who will sit out Sunday's game. Rookie Torrey Smith could make his first career start in Evans' place. … Despite missing three consecutive practices, starting left guard Ben Grubbs is listed as questionable. Grubbs did not play in Sunday's loss to the Tennessee Titans after straining ligaments in his toe. Cornerback Chris Carr, who was limited all week by a left hamstring injury, is also questionable. … Three starters in center Matt Birk (left knee), defensive end Cory Redding (toe) and nose tackle Terrence Cody are probable. Birk practiced fully for the second straight day, while Redding and Cody were limited for the second consecutive day. … For the Rams, running back Steven Jackson (strained left quad) is listed as questionable after practicing on a limited basis for the second straight day. Starting outside linebacker Ben Leber (groin) is questionable as are running back Carnell Williams (hamstring) and defensive end C.J. Ah You (wrist). … Starting wide receiver Danny Amendola (dislocated left elbow) is listed as doubtful even though he has not practiced this week. ... Tight end Michael Hoomanawanui (calf) and rookie wide receiver Greg Salas (ribs) are both probable. … Grubbs underwent an MRI on his injured toe Thursday, but results were negative, coach John Harbaugh said. "It's still sore," Grubbs said. "It's still a day-to-day thing. Every morning, I hope I wake up feeling a little bit better, but I guess because of the size of the joint, it takes forever for the swelling to go out. Right now, I think that's what's causing most of my pain, just the inflammation." … Rookie LaQuan Williams might return a few kicks Sunday, but it appears for now that Lardarius Webb will add kick returns to his plate that already includes starting at cornerback and returning punts. "Webby's in great shape, and he did it in the first game of the year, and we anticipate using him however we can use him throughout the game on defense and special teams," special teams coordinator Jerry Rosburg said during his weekly briefing Thursday. "I don't think that's going to change. And just like with all the games, we have a number of guys that can do a number of things."


Baltimore Sun reporter Jeff Zrebiec contributed to this article.

Recommended on Baltimore Sun