Bye week comes at right time for banged up Ravens

Cecil Whig - - SPORTS - By JOR­DAN SCHATZ

jschatz@ce­cil­whig.com

— Sur­rounded by the me­dia in the visi­tors’ locker room be­neath MetLife Sta­dium on Sun­day, his right eye red and swollen be­neath a pulled down base­ball cap, Bal­ti­more Ravens safety Eric Wed­dle said it best.

“We’re banged up,” he ad­mit­ted. “My face, as you guys can tell, looks like I got in a fight out there. [The bye week] is com­ing at a great time.”

With the in­juries—and losses—be­gin­ning to pile up for the Ravens, the ar­rival of the team’s bye week is a wel­com­ing sight. Bal­ti­more took the field Sun­day with an in­ac­tive list fea­tur­ing seven starters, in­clud­ing five Pro Bowlers, and strug­gled to make the plays needed to win, fall­ing to the New York Jets 24-16 for its fourth-straight loss.

The los­ing streak—the long­est in nine sea­sons un­der head coach John Har­baugh—is quickly spoil­ing what was a promis­ing sea­son. The Ravens opened the year with three con­sec­u­tive vic­to­ries.

“You couldn’t ask for a bet­ter bye,” Ravens wide re­ceiver Mike Wal­lace

EAST RUTHER­FORD, N.J.

said. “Hope­fully we can come back and get [of­fen­sive line­men] Ron­nie [Stanely] and [Mar­shall] Yanda back up front. Not even just them but [out­side line­backer Ter­rell] Suggs and [wide re­ceiver] Steve [Smith Sr.]. That’s four or five guys that we have out. Not only are they great play­ers, but those are great lead­ers for us. We need that lead­er­ship.

“We have have a lot of young play­ers who need those guys on the field. Not even to say any­thing, but just their pres­ence makes you feel bet­ter.”

Pro Bowl lineback­ers CJ Mosley and Elvis Dumervil were also in­ac­tive Sun­day due to in­jury, in ad­di­tion to start­ing cor­ner Sha­reece Wright. The lack of play­mak­ers on both sides of the ball was no­tice­able for the Ravens (3-4), who failed to hold onto an early 10-0 lead and amassed just 42 yards of of­fense in the se­cond half.

Har­baugh pointed to the Xs and Os rather than the mount­ing in­jury list as the rea­son for Bal­ti­more’s re­cent string of losses.

“The fo­cus [of the bye week] is go­ing to be learn­ing how to play win­ning foot­ball. It’s as sim­ple as that,” Har­baugh said. “All the things that go into that—play­ing with dis­ci­pline, in­tel­li­gence, fun­da­men­tally-sound foot­ball, and get­ting bet­ter at the things we need to get bet­ter at. We’ll look at those things, we’re go­ing to prac­tice on Tues­day and Wed­nes­day, and we’re go­ing to work at it like we al­ways do. Our guys are go­ing to come to work.”

The Ravens dropped every game in the month of Oc­to­ber. Still, they en­ter the bye week tied with the Cincin­nati Bengals for se­cond place in the AFC North and be­gan Sun­day just one game back of the Pitts­burgh Steel­ers, who they play at home in two weeks.

By then, Wed­dle and the Ravens hope the team’s nor­mal starters will be back in the lineup.

“At the end of the day, when your starters are out, you hope­fully build enough depth, but there is a drop off. That’s just the re­al­ity. If there wasn’t then they’d be start­ing,” Wed­dle said. “[The bye] comes at a good time. We have nine games left and it will de­cide what this team is go­ing to be about.”

Fol­low Jor­dan Schatz on Twit­ter: @Jor­dan_Whig

CE­CIL WHIG PHOTO BY JOR­DAN SCHATZ

Safety Eric Wed­dle, pic­tured, and the Bal­ti­more Ravens en­ter the bye week on a four-game los­ing streak.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.