Something might have been fishy in Carson, Calif., on Saturday, and it had nothing to do with the city’s proximity to the Pacific Ocean.
On Thursday, Ravens special teams coordinator Jerry Rosburg made reference to the balls specifically devoted to kicking plays in Saturday night’s 22-10 victory over the Los Angeles Chargers being “different” — twice.
While commenting on kicker Justin Tucker’s missed field-goal attempt from 65 yards at the end of the second quarter at the StubHub Center, Rosburg said: “In that particular situation, even though you’re in Southern California and it never rains in Southern California, the field was such that it really was not a great plant area, and the footballs were different. Let’s leave it at that.”
Later, Rosburg, who is also the team’s associate head coach, noted that long snapper Morgan Cox raced downfield after Tucker’s first try from that distance was wiped out by a timeout called by Los Angeles to retrieve that ball.
“Unfortunately, he didn’t get that same ball,” he said. “They didn’t put that ball back in play. He kicked a different one. Different in quotation marks.”
Tucker confirmed Rosburg’s assessment of the balls, which both sides tested during pregame warmups.
“They just were different,” Tucker said. “The result of that hour or whatever it was from this last pregame [warmup], none of the footballs were very good, and it was no fault of our equipment staff by any means. It was just what it was.”
Asked if the ball were under- or over-inflated, Tucker replied: “I don’t care to get too deeply into the specifics of it because at the end of the day, that can be misconstrued as an excuse when really all I would be trying to do is offer an explanation. So I’ll just echo what Coach Rosburg had to say in that the balls were just different than what we’re used to experiencing on your typical NFL Sunday.”
Although he missed from 53 and 65 yards, Tucker connected from 24, 35 and 56 yards to become the first player in NFL history to make at least 30 field goals in six consecutive seasons.
Suggs out again
While the Ravens welcomed back a pair of starters in wide receiver John Brown (hamstring) and right guard Marshal Yanda (vet day) to Thursday’s practice, outside linebacker Terrell Suggs (hamstring) missed his second consecutive session.
Brown, slot cornerback Tavon Young (groin) — who also returned after sitting out Wednesday — and defensive back Anthony Levine Sr. (toe/ankle) were limited. Yanda and left guard Alex Lewis (left shoulder) practiced fully.
The Cleveland Browns, Sunday’s opponent, practiced again without starting rookie cornerback Denzel Ward (concussion). But two more starters in defensive tackle Larry Ogunjobi (biceps) and center JC Tretter (ankle) returned from Wednesday’s absences to participate on a limited basis.
Tight end David Njoku (knee) was upgraded from limited to full participation, and linebacker Jamie Collins Sr. (shoulder) practiced fully for the second straight day.
T. Young’s prophetic words
Per his usual pattern, defensive coordinator Don “Wink” Martindale asked each coach and player in the defensive meeting room the day before Saturday night’s game to stand up and publicly announce his goal for the game. Martindale revealed Thursday that Young said, “I want to score.”
Young backed up his wish, returning a fumble caused by inside linebacker Patrick Onwuasor 62 yards to cement the win against the Chargers. Young said Thursday that the development was stunning.
“It’s crazy,” Young said. “I just thank God for that. That’s all Him working. He’s listening to me.”
Although Young tied former outside linebacker Adalius Thomas (2005) for the most fumble returns for touchdowns in the franchise’s single-season history with two, he said the play is a nice consolation prize.
“There’s nothing like an interception for a touchdown,” he said with a smile. “So hopefully, that’s what I’ll get this week.”
Los Angeles quarterback Philip Rivers was limited by the Ravens to season lows in passing yards (181) and touchdown passes (zero) and also was intercepted twice. Martindale credited free safety Eric Weddle with confusing Rivers.
“Weddle totally messed with Philip Rivers that entire game,” he said. “He did an outstanding job. It’s crazy when a guy — I don’t want to say doesn’t make a play, because that’s a negative connotation — but he is what’s making other people make plays by how he’s messing with quarterbacks not knowing coverages, and he’s orchestrating that back there on the back end, and it’s just an invaluable piece to the defense. So it’s really nothing new.”
» Offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg declined to get involved in comparing rookie quarterback Lamar Jackson with Michael Vick, whom Mornhinweg mentored from 2009 to 2012.
“Lamar Jackson is Lamar Jackson,” said Mornhinweg, who has coached Brett Favre, Donovan McNabb and Steve Young. “They are all different from each other. They’re all different from each other on the field, they’re all different from each other off the field, how they go about their business, how they lead a team. They’re all different, and that’s great. That’s a good thing. So he’ll make his own sort of little deal there.”
» Cox collected his first special teams tackle of the season when he took down the Chargers’ Desmond King after a 9-yard punt return in the fourth quarter, which caught the attention of his teammates.
“Somebody said — and it certainly wasn’t me — that it was about time,” Rosburg deadpanned. “But it wasn’t me that said that. Morgan’s had a great season, but the tackling aspect of Morgan’s job hopefully is the secondary part of his job because we don’t want it to get that far. But he made a fine play. He’s made them before, and he’ll keep making them.”