Team must adjust to face McCown
Veteran QB to start Sunday in place of injured Griffin
As far as the Ravens are concerned, Josh McCown is no ordinary backup quarterback.
McCown will start Sunday for the Cleveland Browns, who announced Monday that Week 1 starter Robert Griffin III will go on injured reserve after suffering a broken bone in his left shoulder in a loss at the Philadelphia Eagles. McCown is 2-1 against the Ravens.
In those three meetings, McCown has completed 63.3 percent of his passes (76 of 120) for 885 yards, four touchdowns and no interceptions. He also has run for a score.
McCown led the Chicago Bears to a 23-20 win against the Ravens on Nov. 17, 2013. On Oct. 11, McCown paced Cleveland to a 33-30 victory at M&T Bank Stadium with a performance that included 457 passing yards and three total touchdowns (two passing). On Nov. 30, the Ravens needed Will Hill to return a blocked field goal 64 yards for the winning score in a 33-27 win at FirstEnergy Stadium in Cleveland.
McCown, 37, has the full attention of the defense and coach John Harbaugh. “He’s had a lot of success against us,” Harbaugh said Monday during his weekly news conference. “He’s been on fire against us. He’s thrown balls up in the air, and a guy catches it with his feet for a touchdown. I just remember this guy having no conscience. He’s just throwing the ball in there and completing passes. So we have a lot of respect for him. We know what kind of player he is, we know how good he is, and he’s been super good against us. So we will have our hands full, and it will be all hands on deck to get ready for the offense led by Josh McCown.”
The Browns announced that Griffin fractured the coracoid bone in his nonthrowing shoulder in their 29-10 loss to the Eagles. Surgery is not expected to be necessary.
Harbaugh acknowledged that Cleveland’s quarterback change will force the Ravens to adjust their defensive strategy for Sunday.
“I think it changes the way you approach the quarterback,” he said. “That’s part of it, but [Browns head coach] Hue Jackson is still the offensive coordinator and we have tons of respect for Hue Jackson. Hue Jackson’s a ringmaster, so to speak. He gets into formations, he’s still at it. He’s very creative. He finds ways to attack your defense at your weakest spots.” Ravens stay out of protests: Protests by members of the Kansas City Chiefs, Miami Dolphins and New England Patriots dotted games Sunday. They followed San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick’s decision in the preseason to take a seat and Browns quarterback Josh McCown is 2-1 against the Ravens. “We will have our hands full, and it will be all hands on deck” against him, Ravens coach John Harbaugh said Monday. then kneel during the playing of “The Star-Spangled Banner” to train a spotlight on inequalities suffered by people of color.
But the Ravens have refrained from getting involved. While arguing that each individual player has the right to do what he chooses, wide receivers Steve Smith Sr. and Mike Wallace said the team did not discuss staging its own protest.
“Each individual has their right to do what they choose to do,” Smith said after Sunday’s 13-7 win against the Buffalo Bills at M&T Bank Stadium. “That’s what those people chose to do. So I think they have that right. Did you see anybody protesting any of that stuff here? No. So, for me, honestly, just where I stand is, I have to speak to a man privately before I can stand with any man publicly. I haven’t had any private conversations with individuals about it, so there’s nothing to discuss.”
Said Wallace: “This is America — the land of the free. You can do that if you want to, and I don’t think anybody should have a problem with it because we’re free. We can do whatever we want. If you want to go that route, you can go that route. If you want to just stand there and do it, do it. I represent the people. I’m with everybody. Positivity, I’m just all about positivity.” Injury settlement reached with Campanaro: The Ravens reached an injury settlement with third-year wide receiver Michael Campanaro, which could result in the former River Hill standout’s returning to the team in the second half of the season, according to a source.
Campanaro, a 2014 seventh-round pick out of Wake Forest, suffered a significant calf injury late in training camp that prompted the Ravens to place him on injured reserve as part of their moves to get down to a 53-man roster.
The injury settlement is for six weeks, and then Campanaro would have to wait three more weeks to rejoin the Ravens, according to NFL rules. He would be eligible to return to the Ravens following Week 9.
Campanaro, 25, is expected to be sidelined for an extended period. An injury to his calf also knocked him out for much of the Ravens’ offseason workout program.
The 5-foot-9 and 191-pound receiver and kick returner has been limited to eight games with the team over his first two NFL seasons by myriad injuries. Suggs working on physical conditioning: In his first regular-season game in almost a year, Terrell Suggs had one sack and two tackles in the win. But the outside linebacker conceded that he is still working to improve his physical conditioning after playing in just one quarter of a preseason game.
“It’s definitely coming,” Suggs said after Sunday’s game. “First live action in a year, you know. Can’t really count the preseason games because I only got a couple series. So this is my first real live action in about a year. So, you know, I’ll just continue to chop wood. You can always get better. It’s my first game, and I feel really good about it.” End zone: In his first career start, inside linebacker Zachary Orr finished second on the team in tackles with six and added a quarterback hit. “I saw a guy running around playing really fast,” Harbaugh said of the third-year pro. “He knows what he’s doing in man, zone coverage, the run game, and he runs to the ball. He’s like a lightning bolt out there, and that’s really valuable to us.” … Harbaugh also praised cornerback Jimmy Smith for limiting Buffalo wide receiver Sammy Watkins to four catches for 43 yards. “We have a high standard for Jimmy Smith,” Harbaugh said. “We think he’s absolutely one of the best, if not right at the top level of cornerbacks in the National Football League. That’s the goal for him.” was responsible for five of the team’s six penalties and the offensive line lost its share of one-on-one matchups.
After the game, Harbaugh cited some “cadence issues” that set the offense back. One led to center Jeremy Zuttah’s snapping the ball to Flacco when the quarterback wasn’t expecting it. The ball bounced off Flacco’s chest, and Bills linebacker Preston Brown recovered it for the game’s only turnover.
“There’s various ways to disguise what you’re trying to do, ways to keep your opponent honest so they don’t jump your snap count,” Harbaugh said Monday. “Sometimes you change the play at the line of scrimmage. It’s a lot to keep track of for guys. I promise you, offensive linemen, there’s a reason that sometimes some people say that they have to be the smartest guys on the team. I wouldn’t dispute that. To sit in that stance and be poised through all that is a challenging thing. We’ve worked on it from the beginning. It’s something we feel is important, not just to go on one all the time, so to speak. We need to get better at that. We had those issues.”
The Ravens became the first NFL team since 1995 to start two rookies on the left side of the offensive line in a regular-season opener. First-round left tackle Ronnie Stanley and fourth-round left guard Alex Lewis held up well. However, as a unit, the offensive line struggled to consistently open up holes. Short yardage situations were again problematic, a trend that carried over from last year.
Overall, the Ravens ran seven plays on either third or fourth down where they needed 2 yards or fewer for a first down. They went 4-for-7 on those and another third-and-1 was wiped out before the play when Stanley was called for a false start.
Four times in those short-yardage situations, the Ravens chose to pass the ball rather than run it to pick up a yard or two. The 66-yard touchdown to Wallace in the second quarter was on a third-and-1, but the Ravens were stopped on fourth-and-1 in the third quarter when Flacco’s pass to West resulted in no gain.
The Ravens, who have long prided themselves on a power running game, certainly could have made things easier on themselves by churning out more yards on the ground.
“Each game, we want to get better and better,” said West, who had 12 carries for 32 yards, compared to Forsett’s 10 carries for 41 yards. “We’re going to come back into the building on Tuesday, look at the mistakes, and go from there.”