Team must ad­just to face McCown

Vet­eran QB to start Sun­day in place of in­jured Grif­fin

Baltimore Sun - - RAVENS - By Edward Lee edward.lee@balt­ twit­­wardLeeSun Bal­ti­more Sun re­porter Jeff Zre­biec con­trib­uted to this ar­ti­cle. jeff.zre­biec@balt­ twit­­fzre­biec­sun

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.”


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