Rookie tight ends Maxx Williams and Nick Boyle both started Thursday with Crockett Gillmore sidelined with a calf injury, and wide receiver Darren Waller played his most significant role yet after injuries at wide receiver. Defensive tackle Carl Davis started a second straight game at defensive tackle, and outside linebacker Za'Darius Smith picked up two consecutive sacks to end a Steelers drive.
Steelers running back Le'Veon Bell, who was held to 96 yards rushing in October 2013 to begin the Ravens latest streak without allowing a 100-yard rusher, ended that league-leading streak at 29 games Thursday with 129 yards rushing Thursday.
It used to be a scenario that the Ravens' defense would relish — a three-point lead to protect, just over two minutes to play and a young quarterback tasked with putting together a lengthy game-saving drive against them.
Timmy Jernigan, who is the man tabbed to replace Haloti Ngata after the Pro Bowl defensive lineman was traded to the Detroit Lions in March, and Carl Davis represent the most recent additions to a defensive line group that throughout the Ravens history has been the franchise's premier strength, due to its depth and continuity among the coaches and players.
Wide receivers Daniel Brown, who caught a touchdown and blocked a punt in Thursday night's preseason-closing loss to the Atlanta Falcons, and Tom Nelson, offensive tackle Blaine Clausell, inside linebacker Andrew Bose and cornerback Quinton Pointer were all let go. Their releases leave the Ravens with 70 players, meaning that they'll have to make 17 more moves by 4 p.m. on Saturday.
The Ravens began stretching and getting used to their surroundings on the field at around 11:15 a.m. Wednesday, in full pads for the first of three practices with the Philadelphia Eagles at their Novacare Complex. Here are five early observations from the practice.
A pair of quick three-and-outs meant the Ravens starting defense watched the final three quarters of Thursday's last-second 30-27 win over the New Orleans Saints as satisfied but interested spectators when their backups took over. They watched the reserves concede five scoring drives in seven tries, not counting the Saints' Hail Mary attempt at the final whistle, and saw a unit that lacked experience struggle to meet the Ravens' lofty standard.
With cameras lining the sidewalk near the players' entrance of the Ravens facility in Owings Mills, stalwart outside linebacker Terrell Suggs was, predictably, the only player to acknowledge the attention given to the mundane act of showing up for work. Others entered the building with their head down, but Suggs — who became the Ravens' last remaining defensive star this offseason and spent the time away from the team facility enjoying his celebrity — gave a smile and a wave.
The Baltimore Sun is breaking down where the Ravens stand at each position, including predictions on how many players the team will keep at each spot and which players are locks, long shots or ¿on the bubble.¿
Traded just before the end of the NFL league year last March, former Ravens defensive tackle Haloti Ngata said recently that he's excited to play with his new Detroit Lions teammates because he's "never been a part of a defense like this."
Terrell Suggs traditionally doesn't participate in voluntary organized team activities so his arrival at the mandatory minicamp often brings his first public comments since the end of the previous season. After a 2 1/2-hour workout under the hot sun, the 32-year-old and the longest-tenured member of the Ravens was far more introspective than he's been in the past, starting with his acknowledgment that he's yet to completely get over Ngata's departure.
While we learned a little last week about Joe Flacco's adjustment to Marc Trestman's version of the West Coast offense, Timmy Jernigan's ascension to the starting defensive line and just how much longer 36-year-old wide receiver Steve Smith might play in the NFL, all of that has been sufficiently discussed and dissected.
OTAs have purpose, but only under certain circumstances. For veterans, being a no-show is no big deal. Their basic game plan is to show up for one of the three, then the mandatory minicamp and then training camp.
Before the NFL turns over the league¿s calendar each year, top Ravens officials join owner Steve Bisciotti in Florida for a comprehensive look at the upcoming season and the one that will follow it, taking into account roster construction, salary cap issues and free agency.
As they prepare for this year's draft, which gets underway with Thursday's first round, the Ravens seemingly have more needs on offense than defense. They want another running back and a tight end and they are thin on outside targets for quarterback Joe Flacco. If there was a draft where the Ravens would target offense, this would seemingly be it.
The Ravens traded the five-time Pro Bowl defensive tackle Wednesday afternoon, along with a seventh-round pick in the 2015 NFL draft, to the Detroit Lions in exchange for fourth and fifth round selections. The two sides couldn't come to an agreement on a restructured contract but for Ngata, 31, it was about more than money.
As the Ravens begin the offseason, they already have the foundation for building a stronger team next year because of the youth on both interior lines. Now, over the next six or seven months, they need to add some playmakers.
Whether through injury, illness, or suspension, the Ravens' talent at defensive line has been diluted all season. With one key cog or another missing for all but four of the team's 17 games, the group has still collapsed pockets, occupied blockers and held opponents without a 100-yard rusher all season.
Ravens Pro Bowl defensive tackle Haloti Ngata has been suspended by the NFL for four games for violating the league's policy on performance-enhancing substances, the latest blow to the team's playoff hopes.