Don “Wink” Martindale insisted his top priority is preparing the Ravens defense for Sunday’s AFC wild-card game against the Los Angeles Chargers at M&T Bank Stadium. But the defensive coordinator acknowledged he continues to aspire to become a head coach in the future.
“Of course you do,” he said Thursday. “If you’re worth a salt as an assistant, I think everyone wants to be a head coach. It’s just something that if it happens, it happens. If it doesn’t, it doesn’t. I told [head coach] John [Harbaugh] this the other day when we were sitting there talking. I said, ‘I’m 55. However long you want to go, I’d love to just be the D-coordinator here and do it with you.’ That’s how I feel.”
With the way the NFL has been favoring offenses, offensive coordinators and coaches with offensive backgrounds have been the candidates du jour for the eight head coaching vacancies in the league. But Martindale helmed a unit that ranked first in the NFL in total defense (292.9 yards allowed per game), second in points allowed (17.9 per game) and third in third-down defense (34.1 percent), and that could attract attention if there are still openings at season’s end.
Harbaugh heartily endorsed his assistant coaches seeking promotions.
“We give them every opportunity to look at that, every opportunity and specifically a head coaching job,” he said Wednesday. “That would be something that we would encourage. I think we have a great staff. I think we have a number of coaches that would be great head coaches. You already mentioned Don Martindale, [and there’s] [offensive coordinator] Marty Mornhinweg, [assistant head coach/tight ends coach] Greg Roman because those guys are coordinators. [Special teams coordinator] Jerry Rosburg would be a phenomenal head coach in this league. He’s a tremendous leader.
“And those are kind of the coordinator-type guys, and the other guys are going to be coordinators in this league, and we have other great leaders, too. We just have a phenomenal staff, and I would hope they would get those types of opportunities.”
Optimistic about Moore
Wide receiver-kick returner Chris Moore did not practice Friday after fully participating Wednesday and Thursday, and Harbaugh said Moore is dealing with a “muscle issue” related to the shoulder injury he sustained in Sunday’s 26-24 win over the Cleveland Browns.
Wide receiver Willie Snead IV and running back Ty Montgomery could fill in on kick returns, but Harbaugh said he expects Moore to play against the Chargers.
“They look good. They’ll be ready to go,” Harbaugh said of Snead and Montgomery. “We’ll be fine. We’ve got guys ready to go. I think Chris will be out there. I’d be surprised if he wasn’t. But just in case, we’ve got guys ready to roll.”
Slot cornerback Tavon Young (groin) returned to practice for the first time this week, albeit on a limited basis. Moore, Young and left guard Alex Lewis (left shoulder) are all listed as questionable for Sunday.
Outside linebacker Terrell Suggs was a full participant after getting Thursday off as a veteran and has no designation for the game.
Ruts in the red zone
For all of the success the offense has achieved since rookie Lamar Jackson took over as the starting quarterback, the unit has struggled producing touchdowns inside opponents’ 20-yard line.
In Jackson’s seven starts, the Ravens have converted 42.3 percent of their trips to the red zone into touchdowns (11 of 26). They have had to settle for field goals in 11 other attempts, but Mornhinweg agreed the team has much to improve upon in that area.
“I have to do better. We have to do better,” he said Thursday. “We have to be precise. We’ve put the ball on the ground a few times down the stretch here and have overcome that, but then all of the sudden, we have the long-yardage issue in the red zone. [It’s] very difficult to overcome those in the red zone. So we have to be better at that. I have to be better.”
» Kicker Justin Tucker was voted Friday to the Associated Press All-Pro first team for the third time in his career (2013, 2016) despite not being selected to the Pro Bowl. Earlier in the week, he downplayed the significance of individual honors.
“All that stuff kind of adds up when you have a lot of opportunities, and when you’ve got a great operation, you’re going to make a lot of kicks,” he said Wednesday. “Those kicks lead to points, and these past couple of months, every single point has been seemingly more and more important as the weeks go by. So to be able to contribute in that way is definitely satisfying, but I’ll look back on all that stuff years from now. At the present time, we’re just taking it one kick at a time.”
Middle linebacker C.J. Mosley and right guard Marshal Yanda earned All-Pro second-team recognition for the fourth time in their careers.
» Los Angeles might be playing without a pair of defensive starters. Outside linebacker Jatavis Brown and nose tackle Brandon Mebane did not practice for the third consecutive day. Brown, who ranks second on the defense in tackles, injured his ankle in Sunday’s victory over the Denver Broncos and is out for the postseason. Mebane, who is the team’s top interior lineman according to Pro Football Focus, is in Omaha, Neb., with his ailing newborn daughter and is listed as doubtful.
Four starters — safety Jahleel Addae (shoulder), left guard Dan Feeney (knee), running back Melvin Gordon (ankle) and right tackle Sam Tevi (groin) were full participants for the third consecutive day and were not given an injury designation.
» The Chargers still have not activated tight end Hunter Henry from the physically unable to perform list. Even if that does happen, coach Anthony Lynn cautioned against expecting too much from Henry, who caught 45 passes for 579 yards and four touchdowns a year ago before tearing the ACL in his right knee May 22.
“We’re not quite sure where he’s at right now,” Lynn said Wednesday. “He hasn’t been on a football field since April. The expectation wouldn’t be real high, to be honest with you. But we’ll evaluate him at the end of the week, and we’ll see where he’s at.”