Ravens notes: Two starters ruled out for Sunday's game at Panthers

After Friday morning’s walk-through, Ravens coach John Harbaugh was asked about the health of three starters — cornerback Marlon Humphrey, right tackle James Hurst and left guard Alex Lewis.

After noting there would be an injury report issued in the afternoon, Harbaugh said, “They’re doing well. They’re working hard.”

Harbaugh’s optimism was contradicted by the injury report, as Humphrey and Hurst were ruled out with Lewis listed as doubtful for Sunday’s road game against the Carolina Panthers.

Humphrey (thigh) and Hurst (back) have not practiced all week and will miss their second straight starts. After practicing Wednesday and Thursday on a limited basis, Lewis (pinched nerve in neck) did not participate Friday and is also at risk of sitting out his second game in a row.

Humphrey’s absence means the defense will have only five cornerbacks, and that number could be reduced even further if rookie Anthony Averett is out for the sixth consecutive game because of a hamstring injury. Averett was upgraded from limited to full participation Friday and is listed as questionable.

The loss of Hurst could mean a second straight start for rookie Orlando Brown Jr., who filled in for Hurst in Sunday’s 24-23 loss to the New Orleans Saints. Lewis’ spot went to rookie Bradley Bozeman, who was limited Friday by a left calf injury after missing practice Wednesday and Thursday. He is also listed as questionable.

Cornerback Jimmy Smith (groin) and defensive back Anthony Levine Sr. (hamstring) practiced fully for the second consecutive day and are listed as questionable.

Dixon keeps ‘progressing’

Kenneth Dixon has another couple of weeks left on injured reserve, but the running back said the knee he injured late in the fourth quarter of a season-opening win over the Buffalo Bills on Sept. 9 is improving.

“There’s been a lot of progress since the injury,” he said Friday. “I keep on progressing day by day.”

Harbaugh said general manager Ozzie Newsome will make the determination on when to activate a player off IR. Dixon declined to specify a timetable for a possible return.

“I don’t put percentages on myself,” he said. “If I’m not 100, percentages don’t matter. I can just tell you that I’m working hard on and off the field.”

Extra points

» Special teams coordinator Jerry Rosburg accepted blame for a fake punt the Saints converted for a first down on their first offensive series Sunday.

“I didn’t like the coach’s call on that play,” he said. “That was the thing I didn’t like. I put our defense and our punt return team in a bad call, trying to be too aggressive. I made a mistake, and it hurt us. That’s the coach’s responsibility, and I let our players down in that regard.”

» The team’s decision to place defensive tackle Willie Henry on injured reserve because of a herniated disk in his back has been softened by the fact that the defense played the first four games of the season without him as he recovered from umbilical hernia surgery.

“I think since we’ve already had a little practice with that, it’ll be similar,” defensive coordinator Don “Wink” Martindale said. “It might be a little bit more for this guy or that guy because they’re playing better than they were back then. But it’ll be similar situation to what we had when Willie was out prior. John said that we might be able to bring him back at the end of the year — I’m not sure. I don’t know the extent of the injuries. I don’t talk about the injuries. We’re just locked in on what we have and how we’re going to do it right now.”

» Carolina running back Christian McCaffrey ranks 13th in the NFL in total yards from scrimmage (667) and is equally adept at catching the ball out of backfield as he is carrying it out of one. Nose tackle Michael Pierce said the defense’s performance against the Saints’ Alvin Kamara will help against McCaffrey.

“You just see their shiftiness,” Pierce said. “So whether you’re a nose guard or three-technique, you can’t peek in those gaps. We got beat on a couple of those things. Just staying in your gap. Kind of like you’re playing [the Pittsburgh Steelers’] Le’Veon Bell with those guys, they hide behind linemen and they shoot out. We just have to stay fundamentally sound.”

» There will be no reunion in the game with former Ravens wide receiver and Maryland graduate Torrey Smith (knee), who was ruled out after sitting out his third straight day of practice. The Panthers removed five starters from their injury report — defensive ends Mario Addison (back) and Julius Peppers (not injury related), free safety Mike Adams (not injury related), quarterback Cam Newton (right throwing shoulder) and tight end Greg Olsen (foot).

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