Rookies to step in for pass rush
Injuries to veterans might place a bigger burden on OLBs Judon and Correa
With Elvis Dumervil and Za’Darius Smith dealing with injuries and rush linebacker Terrell Suggs still working his way into game condition, the Ravens might have to lean heavily on two rookie pass rushers in Sunday’s road game against the Cleveland Browns.
Rookie fifth-round draft pick Matthew Judonplayed13snapsinSunday’svictoryover the Buffalo Bills. Second-round selection KamaleiCorreaplayedextensivelyonspecial teams in his first NFL regular-season game, but he wasn’t on the field for any defensive snaps. Both players, along with veteran Chris Carter, could be in line for bigger roles with Dumervil (foot) ruled out and Smith listed as questionable for Sunday’s game.
Smith, a second-year pro out of Kentucky, played 36 defensive snaps last week, more than any other Ravens outside linebacker. He didn’t practice all week because of an ankle injury, and Ravens who don’t practice during the week traditionally don’t play in the next game.
“They’ve both done a tremendous job and have demonstrated that they can play in this league,” Ravens coach John Harbaugh said Friday when asked about Judon and Correa. “That’s an ongoing process, and whatever opportunities they get, we’ll be expecting them to make the most of it.”
The team’s injury problems at outside linebacker come at a time when Suggs is not yet ready to resume playing an every-down role — heplayed in 63 percent of the defensive snaps last week — and the team has prioritized getting pressure from off the edge against veteran Browns quarterback Josh McCown, who performed well against the Ravens last season.
Judon, one of the team’s preseason standouts, had a relatively quiet debut against the Bills with one tackle and one quarterback hit. Correa had a strong start to training camp, but he didn’t make a significant impact in preseason games and has acknowledged that he’s still learning the defense.
“I wouldn’t say the defense has gotten easier, but it is slowed down for me in knowing [it] scheme-wise,” he said Friday. “Now I’m kind of looking toward what is the offense going to show us in this scheme and what am I expecting from them? In that sense, it is kind of slowing down. Now I just need to pick up what the offense is kind of Rookie Matthew Judon, shown in a preseason game against the Lions, might play more Sunday after being on the field for only 13 snaps in his debut against the Bills. throwing at us, so I can play a little faster than I am.” Five Ravens questionable: Smith is one of five Ravens who are listed as questionable on the injury report. The other four are wide receiver Breshad Perriman (calf ), offensive lineman JohnUrschel ( shoulder), linebacker C.J. Mosley (thigh) and cornerback Jerraud Powers (ankle).
Perriman, Urschel, Mosley and Powers practiced in full gear Thursday and Friday, and are expected to play barring a setback. Perriman said Thursday that he’ll be ready to play, and Harbaugh pronounced Urschel ready to go earlier in the week. Allen surprised by demotion: The situation wasn’t completely unfamiliar to Ravens running back Buck Allen. At Southern California, Allen had to wait before getting opportunities in the Trojans backfield. Sunday was probably even tougher to take for the second-year pro.
Allen, a fourth-round pick in 2015, felt he had established a role with the Ravens after he rushed for 514 yards and a touchdown, caught 45 balls for 353 yards and two scores, and started six games as a rookie. However, when the Ravens opened the season, Allen was a healthy gameday inactive.
“Going from a starter on a team to not dressing is pretty tough,” Allen said, acknowledging that he was surprised by the decision. “That’s a feeling that’s sometimes hard to swallow. But I always believe in God and trust that he’s got a plan. At the end of the day, they made their decision. I can’t do nothing but come to work this weekend.”
Harbaugh said Monday that he wasn’t comfortable having Justin Forsett and Terrance West (Towson University, Northwestern High) as the only two backs active, but he felt the team needed all its wide receivers in uniform because of the game plan. What that means for Allen on Sunday is unclear. His roster spot would be more tenuous if Kenneth Dixon weren’t sidelined with a knee injury. Forsett honored: Forsett named the NFL Players Association’s Week 1 Community Most Valuable Player for his efforts in helping the Baton Rouge, La., community in the aftermath of the flooding that ravaged the area last month. Barnidge a threat: Browns tight end Gary Barnidge didn’t have a catch in Sunday’s loss to the Philadelphia Eagles, but the Ravens know the type of impact the veteran can have on a game.
Barnidge torched the Ravens defense last season. In their first meeting, he caught eight passes for139 yards and one touchdown in the Browns’ 33-30 win at M&T Bank Stadium in Baltimore on Oct. 11. In the second meeting, Barnidge had seven catches for 91 yards in a 33-27 victory for the Ravens on Nov. 30.
“He’s a real good player,” weak-side linebacker Zachary Orr said. “Obviously, we witnessed it twice last year, how dangerous he is. He killed us in both games. He’s definitely somebody we have to get control of early, and you know they’re going to go to him.”
Barnidge had the highest and secondhighest receiving yards totals by a tight end against the Ravens last year.