Ravens starting defensive tackle Michael Pierce seems likely to sit out his second consecutive game after not making enough progress with his injured right ankle.
Coach John Harbaugh characterized Pierce as being “probably doubtful” for Monday night’s game against the Los Angeles Rams.
“I don’t think Pierce will make it,” he said after Saturday afternoon’s practice. “We’ll see. Didn’t practice too much. He practiced a little bit on Thursday. He’ll be probably doubtful. If we need him and he can go, he would, but I don’t foresee that right now.”
Pierce’s absence opens the door for Domata Peko Sr. and Justin Ellis to fill the void. Peko started and made two tackles in the team’s 41-7 rout of the Houston Texans on Sunday, and Ellis added three tackles.
Harbaugh acknowledged that their presence has helped give Pierce time to recover without feeling pressed to return.
“I think that’s what gives us an opportunity probably not to push Michael out there unless he’s really ready to go,” he said. “Those guys played so well, and they practice well, and they’re ready to go.”
Pierce, who had injured his ankle in the first quarter of the team’s 49-13 victory at the Cincinnati Bengals on Nov. 10 and played a season-low three snaps, had practiced on a limited basis Thursday before missing Friday’s and Saturday’s session. Pierce, who has made 21 tackles, declined to comment in the team’s locker room, but Harbaugh emphasized that he did not suffer a setback on Thursday.
“Maybe he could go if we really had to have him go, but we’ve got those guys available, and let’s go with those healthy guys probably,” Harbaugh said.
Ricard to Pro Bowl?
There is a small part of Patrick Ricard that still can’t believe that he is the leading vote-getter at AFC fullback for the Pro Bowl.
“I never thought in my life that I’d have a chance to be in the Pro Bowl,” he said Friday. “The fact that right now it’s looking good, it’s very humbling.”
The 6-foot-3, 303-pound fullback-slash-defensive tackle is a throwback to the days of two-way players in football. He has lined up on offense on 27.6 percent of that unit’s snaps and on defense on 21.3 percent of that unit’s snaps. And that doesn’t include his 22.9 percent of snaps on special teams.
Admitting that he doesn’t have a chance to sit too often in games, Ricard insisted that he is willing to be utilized any way possible.
“For me now finally to be able to contribute on both sides of the ball pretty equally, it’s a great feeling because it’s what I’ve been working on for so long,” he said. “So it’s great to make plays for the team and just contribute.”
Offensive coordinator Greg Roman said he has no reservations about the workload for Ricard, who set season highs in catches (three) and receiving yards (27) on Sunday.
“I do think there was a time when we might have taken that into consideration, but I think he’s excelled enough at the fullback position,” he said. “Is there a better fullback in the league? I don’t know. I’ll let somebody else decide that. He’s playing his position at a high level, and if he can help us win the game, we’ll do whatever and how much we need to do.”
Wary of Ramsey
As physically imposing as Rams defensive tackle Aaron Donald has been, the secondary has been dominated by the presence of cornerback Jalen Ramsey, who was acquired from the Jacksonville Jaguars on Oct. 16 in exchange for first-round picks in 2020 and 2021 and a fourth-round choice in 2021.
In the past five weeks, Los Angeles ranks first in the league in points allowed (37), second in rushing yards (257) and tied for fifth in sacks (16.0).
“That’s no coincidence, I don’t think,” Harbaugh said. “I think for whatever reason, it’s really just clicked for him. Very aggressive, very fundamentally sound, very physical out there in coverage and run defense. He’s a good add for them.”
Wide receiver Willie Snead IV got a glimpse of Ramsey when the Ravens and the Jacksonville Jaguars took part in joint practices on Aug. 5 and 6.
“I just know he’s an aggressive corner just from watching the film and stuff,” he said. “He’s just a smart player. He reads combinations well and puts himself in a great position to make a play on the ball. So you just always have to be in attack mode with a guy like that.”
>> Rams running back Todd Gurley, a Baltimore native, carried the ball a season-high 25 times for 97 yards and one touchdown in Sunday night’s 17-7 win against the Chicago Bears. He is still on pace to finish well short of the 1,251-yard, 17-touchdown display he enjoyed last season, and some observers have questioned whether a balky left knee that flared up near the end of last season has reduced his effectiveness.
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But Ravens defensive coordinator Don “Wink” Martindale said it would be foolish to overlook Gurley. “I see a really big, fast running back that can be a gamebreaker every time he touches the ball,” Martindale said. “That’s what I see.”
>> Justin Tucker’s 43-yard attempt that banged off the right upright in the first quarter of Sunday’s win was not only the eighth-year kicker’s first miss of the season, but also ended a streak of 22 successful field goals. That miscue, however, has not diminished special teams coordinator Chris Horton’s faith in the two-time Pro Bowler.
“It’s just one of those situations where our kicker, he’s got to hit the ball better,” Horton said. “He understands that. We have all the confidence in the world in Justin Tucker, I can guarantee you that, and those things won’t happen again.”
>> Monday night will mark the Ravens’ first trip to the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, and the famed stadium holds a special place in Harbaugh’s heart. “The biggest game to me in the Coliseum — and I remember watching it on TV — was the greatest upset in the history of college football,” he said. “Stanford-USC [on Oct. 6, 2007], Jim Harbaugh taking down Pete Carroll’s No. 1-ranked Trojans when they were 42½-point favorites [actually, 41]. … That was big.”
Asked whether that was the game after which Carroll confronted Harbaugh after the latter went for a two-point conversion with the game already decided, John Harbaugh replied, “No, that was the next year [actually, 2009]. That was the ‘What’s your deal?’ deal when Jim went for two because he couldn’t go for three. I mean, it’s just a great tradition. I’m sure Pete will get a chuckle out of this when he reads it, too.”