AFC North: Baltimore Ravens

The Baltimore Ravens' 53-man roster can change before next Sunday's season opener against the Cincinnati Bengals, but here is how the team stands right now (*-denotes a projected starter; x-denotes a suspended player):

Quarterbacks (2)

The Ravens keep two quarterbacks for the fifth straight year, and it's the fourth in a row with the duo of Flacco and Taylor. Expect the Ravens to put rookie sixth-round pick Keith Wenning on the practice squad.

Running backs (4)

No surprises here. Rice is suspended for two games, which allows the Ravens to carry an extra running back in Forsett.

Receivers (7)

The Ravens' toughest decision was at wide receiver because Campanaro and Aiken had impressive training camps and Thompson turned it on in the preseason. In the end, the Ravens chose not to make a decision on who to cut and kept all of them. This is definitely a different situation for the Ravens, who have had trouble finding quality depth at receiver in their 19-year history.

Tight ends (3)

This is a completely different look from last year, when the Ravens began the season with Ed Dickson, Dallas Clark and Billy Bajema.

Offensive linemen (9)

This was the biggest surprise of the day. The Ravens cut A.Q. Shipley, who started nine games last season, and instead kept Hurst, an undrafted rookie out of North Carolina who struggled throughout training camp and the preseason. He was graded as the 111th offensive tackle (out of 141 tackles) by Pro Football Focus. Gradkowski becomes the top backup at center and guard, and Reid is the No. 3 tackle. How young are the backups? Reid is the most experienced, in his fourth season.

Defensive linemen (5)

The Ravens are thin at this position after defensive ends Kapron Lewis-Moore and Brent Urban both went down with season-ending injuries in training camp. Jernigan, the talented rookie second-round pick, backs up Ngata. Tyson will rotate with Canty. But there is a hole at nose tackle behind Williams. Cody (hip) is on the physically unable to perform list and will miss at least the first six games of the season. Even though Pernell McPhee can play on the line, it would be in the team's best interest to add depth.

Linebackers (10)

The Ravens overloaded at this position because of special teams. McClellan and Bynes are core players on the cover and return teams. The unexpected move was keeping Orr, an undrafted rookie out of North Texas, over John Simon, a fourth-round pick from a year ago. Orr was a long shot who made the team on the strength of his special teams (four tackles). It's a real logjam at inside linebacker where the Ravens are carrying six: Mosley, Smith, Brown, Bynes, McClellan and Orr.

Cornerbacks (4)

It wasn't going to be a surprise if the Ravens had kept one of their veteran backups, either Derek Cox or Dominique Franks. But the Ravens released both, which raised some eyebrows. The Ravens can re-sign them after the season opener, so their salaries aren't guaranteed for the entire year. What helps the Ravens is the versatility of safeties Terrence Brooks and Anthony Levine, both of whom can play cornerback.

Safeties (6)

Special teams played a big part in the thought process here. Levine, Miles and Trawick were among the top five special-teams tacklers from a year ago. That's why the Ravens went heavy at this position. Plus, as noted earlier, Brooks and Levine are versatile defensive backs. Hill is suspended for the first six games of the season.

Specialists (3)

There was no decision to be made on the specialists. Tucker, Koch and Cox team up for the third straight season.
Most significant move: Keeping four cornerbacks and seven receivers. The Baltimore Ravens cut both veteran cornerbacks they signed this offseason, Derek Cox and Dominique Franks. This could be a sign the Ravens are confident Lardarius Webb and Jimmy Smith will be healthy enough for the regular season opener. The Ravens could re-sign Cox after the season opener when his salary wouldn't be guaranteed for the entire year. Until then, the Ravens are left with Asa Jackson and Chykie Brown as their only backups. It does help the Ravens that two safeties, Terrence Brooks and Anthony Levine, both can play cornerback. Still, it's a gamble. As far as wide receiver, the Ravens kept seven (Steve Smith, Torrey Smith, Jacoby Jones, Marlon Brown, Michael Campanaro, Kamar Aiken and Deonte Thompson), a different strategy than last year. The Ravens ended the season with just five receivers. Campanaro and Thompson don't provide much impact on special teams except as returners.

Surprise cut: Guard A.Q. Shipley was the most unexpected release of the day for the Ravens. Shipley started the last nine games last season after Kelechi Osemele had back surgery. He wasn't the most athletically gifted lineman, but he was tough and experienced. It looked like Shipley was safe because he worked with the second team at guard and filled in for Marshal Yanda with the starters during training camp when the veteran took a day off. By releasing Shipley, the Ravens are left with two backups on the interior with Gino Gradkowski and rookie fifth-round pick John Urschel.

Quick exit: Waiving linebacker John Simon wasn't totally unexpected, but it's not a typical move by the Ravens. Simon was a fourth-round pick from a year ago, and the Ravens usually give their draft picks time to develop. Case in point: Only one other pick drafted in the first four rounds by the Ravens failed to last two seasons with the team and that was safety Christian Thompson, who was cut after he served a four-game suspension for violating the NFL's substance abuse policy. This makes sense because the Ravens are stocked at linebacker, and Simon had trouble making plays in space. Many thought Simon earned a spot by playing his best game last Thursday. Cutting Simon also shows that how little the preseason finale really matters.

What's next: This probably won't be the 53-man roster the Ravens take into the opener against the Cincinnati Bengals. Players such as offensive tackle James Hurst and Zachary Orr, two undrafted rookies, could eventually be headed for the practice squad. The Ravens need to find another defensive lineman (they're carrying just five) as well as upgrade at offensive line and cornerback. Someone such as veteran guard-center Adam Snyder, who was released by the San Francisco 49ers, would be a good fit for the Ravens. Cornerbacks who are now available include Kelvin Hayden (Bears), Champ Bailey (Saints), Leon McFadden (Browns), and Johnny Patrick (Jets).

Ravens moves: Released two vested veterans, CBs Derek Cox and Dominique Franks. Waived QB Keith Wenning, G A.Q. Shipley, LB John Simon, OT Ryan Jensen, RB Fitzgerald Toussaint, CB Tramain Jacobs, CB Sammy Seamster, TE Phillip Supernaw, DT A.J. Pataiali’i, OT Parker Graham, DT Jamie Meder, TE Nathan Overbay, OLB D.J. Roberts, C Reggie Stephens, DT Levi Brown, DT Derrick Hopkins. Placed RB Ray Rice (two games) and FS Will Hill (six games) on suspended list. Placed NT Terrence Cody (hip) on the reserve Physically Unable to Perform list, which means he'll miss the first six games of the season. Rookie WR Jeremy Butler (shoulder) was placed on injured reserve.
Ray Rice is suspended for the first two games of the regular season and Bernard Pierce didn't make the trip to New Orleans for the final preseason game because of a concussion.

So if Pierce is unable to play in the season opener, who would start at running back for the Baltimore Ravens? Veteran journeyman Justin Forsett, who hasn't made a start since 2010, could be the one to step up.

Of the Ravens' 24 healthy scratches in the preseason finale, 18 are projected to be starters. The fact that Forsett didn't play as well could suggest the Ravens wanted to keep him healthy for the opener.

The Ravens might trust Forsett to handle the starting role because he's more experienced than rookie Lorenzo Taliaferro and is more familiar with Gary Kubiak's offense after playing in Houston in 2012.

But Forsett wouldn't be asked to carry the entire rushing load. He only had six carries all of last season, and the Ravens would probably split carries with Taliaferro, who led the team with 243 yards rushing this preseason.

A small back, Forsett has impressed the Ravens with his burst. He ran for 69 yards on 16 carries (4.3-yard average) and caught three passes for 37 yards in preseason games. His biggest problem has been holding on to the football (two fumbles this preseason).

None of this speculation will matter if Pierce is able to suit up for the Sept. 7 season opener against the Cincinnati Bengals. Even though Pierce has been banged up throughout his career, he has never missed a game in his two seasons.

There is just no certainty that he'll be healthy enough this time to play.

"Nowadays, with those things, I don't take any stock in that until they tell me that he's back," coach John Harbaugh said Monday. "The concussion thing is hard to predict."
Examining the Baltimore Ravens' roster:

Quarterbacks (2)

This should be the fifth straight year that the Ravens only keep two quarterbacks. Keith Wenning didn't do enough in his two preseason games that would entice another team to put him on its 53-man roster. So, the Ravens can get Wenning on the practice squad. Plus, the Ravens would like to use their last roster spot on a special teams player, not a third quarterback.

Running backs (4)

Nothing has changed with this position all summer. Rice, Pierce, Taliaferro and Juszczyk are locks to make the team. Rice has been suspended for the first two games of the season, which allows the Ravens to carry Forsett. Fitzgerald Toussaint's 103 yards in the preseason finale earns him a spot on the practice squad.

Receivers (6)

This was the toughest position to project. The Ravens have to keep at least six because of the strength of the depth. The locks here are Torrey Smith, Steve Smith, Brown and Jones. When you look at the No. 5 receiver, his ability on special teams outweighs his impact as a receiver because his role is going to primarily be on the coverage and return teams. That's why Aiken still gets the nod here. Campanaro has more upside as a receiver than Deonte Thompson, which is why he gets the last spot. How can the Ravens cut Thompson? Well, the Ravens cut running back Bobby Rainey last year after he led the team in rushing, punt returns and kickoff returns. Perhaps, the Ravens could trade Thompson.

Tight ends (3)

The Ravens say Daniels' leg fatigue won't affect his status for the regular season so there is no drama at this position. Pitta is the clear cut No. 1, and Gillmore should see time as a rookie third-round pick.

Offensive linemen (9)

Monroe, Osemele, Zuttah, Yanda and Wagner are the starters. Gradkowski and Shipley, two starters from last season, are safe. Reid is the top backup tackle, but he is still dealing with a concussion. Urschel should have secured a spot over Ryan Jensen, who committed two holding penalties in the preseason finale.

Defensive linemen (5)

Ngata, Canty and Williams have been the starters throughout training camp and the preseason. Jernigan and Tyson are the Ravens' top two backups. It looks like Terrence Cody will start the season on the Physically Unable to Perform list. The Ravens can go with five linemen because Pernell McPhee can move to defensive end in a pinch. Nose tackle Derrick Hopkins can be stored on the practice squad.


Simon likely saved his spot with a strong performance in the preseason finale. The Ravens also don't get rid of fourth round picks a year after drafting them. They give them time to develop. The need for veteran depth at cornerback, where the Ravens are banged up, pushes out Albert McClellan. It's a tough call because McClellan led the Ravens in special teams tackles last season. The Ravens could bring back McClellan later in the season.

Cornerbacks (6)

Injury issues at cornerback force the Ravens to carry a sixth cornerback. The Ravens anticipate their top three cornerbacks (Smith, Webb and Jackson) to be healthy enough to play in the regular season. But none were practicing this past week. The Ravens have to keep veterans like Franks and Cox for insurance. Cox made some plays in the preseason finale despite not practicing with the team. Undrafted rookies Tramain Jacobs and Sammy Seamster can go on the practice squad.

Safeties (6)

Elam and Stewart remain the starters. Brooks, a rookie third-round pick, has generated buzz recently from his play at nickelback. Miles struggled on defense in the preseason finale, but he gets a spot because of his special teams play. Levine is a core special teams player who increased his value by playing cornerback as well. Trawick is probably the 53rd player, although the Ravens may go with a linebacker like McClellan instead. Hill is on the suspended list until the middle of October.

Specialists (3)

There's no decision to be made on the specialists. Tucker, Koch and Cox team up for the third straight season.

W2W4: Baltimore Ravens

August, 28, 2014
Aug 28
The Baltimore Ravens (3-0) and New Orleans Saints (3-0) face off in the preseason finale Thursday night (8 ET) at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome.

1. Wide receiver battle. The Ravens have four players (Michael Campanaro, Kamar Aiken, Deonte Thompson and Jeremy Butler) fighting for one or two spots. It all depends on whether the Ravens are keeping five or six receivers. At this point, Campanaro and Aiken have the edge. The Ravens traded back into this year's draft to get Campanaro, so it's obvious the team likes him. Aiken had an impressive training camp, and he is a valuable special teams player. But Thompson could force his way onto the team by scoring a touchdown for the third straight preseason game. Butler seems headed to the practice squad unless he puts together a tremendous performance in the finale. Ravens coach John Harbaugh said the wide receiver battle remains bunched up. "It’s still very competitive because all those guys are doing so well," Harbaugh said. "Nobody has dropped out of the race, and they’re all proving they can play.”

2. Pecking order at cornerback. Newly signed Derek Cox is expected to play, and when he gets on the field, it could indicate where he initially stands with the team. For the past two preseason games, Chykie Brown and Dominique Franks have started and rookie safety Terrence Brooks has worked at nickelback with the first-team defense. Cox hasn't practiced with the team, so the Ravens may bring him along slowly in this game. But, if Cox cuts into the playing time of Brown or Franks, this would be a sign that the Ravens want him to play meaningful snaps to start the season. As I wrote Wednesday, Cox isn't the answer at cornerback for the Ravens.

3. Keith Wenning's status. The rookie sixth-round quarterback appears headed to the practice squad. Will the Ravens give him a chance to prove he deserves to be on the 53-man roster? No one really knows. Backup quarterback Tyrod Taylor is starting the final preseason game because the Ravens are sitting Joe Flacco. It's possible the Ravens will let Taylor finish the game because he doesn't get many live reps during the regular season. Wenning has only appeared in one preseason game, and he looked very shaky in his three drives. He completed 2 of 4 passes for 23 yards and fumbled after getting sacked. Harbaugh said the decision to keep two or three quarterbacks is not difficult. "You just decide who your best 53 players are," Harbaugh said. "If the third quarterback is in the top 53, he’s on the team. If he’s not, he’s not. It’s simple.”
In what has been a trend for Baltimore Ravens players, defensive tackle Haloti Ngata and linebacker Terrell Suggs dropped this year in ESPN's defensive player rankings.

Ngata plummeted 13 spots, going from No. 9 last year to No. 22 this year. The fall is warranted for Ngata, who is no longer the top interior defensive lineman in the NFL.

He failed to crack 60 tackles in back-to-back seasons, the first time that's happened in his career. His 1.5 sacks last season were his fewest since 2009.

Ngata could have a good rebound season because he's healthy and he's back playing defensive tackle (after a year of playing nose tackle).

Suggs slipped in the rankings, but not as much as Ngata. Suggs tumbled five spots, falling from No. 23 last year to No. 28 this year.

Last season, Suggs looked like the best player in the league for the first two months, making 60 tackles and nine sacks in his first eight games. He just couldn't sustain that dominance and finished with 20 tackles and one sack in the last eight games.

On the rankings so far, eight Ravens players have made the list: Ngata, Suggs, Elvis Dumervil, Torrey Smith, Lardarius Webb, Marshal Yanda, Joe Flacco and Steve Smith. All but one -- Yanda -- dropped in the rankings from the previous year.
The Baltimore Ravens signed journeyman cornerback Derek Cox on Wednesday, a move that does little to solve their issues at that position.

Cox brings more experience than backups Asa Jackson and Chykie Brown. He has 56 starts in five seasons.

And Cox is an upgrade over the likes of veteran Dominique Franks. He's 27 and a former third-round pick.

But nobody should think the Ravens have adequately addressed cornerback, the biggest weakness on the team. Based on Cox's recent track record, it's a risk for the Ravens to go with him as their No. 3 corner, just as it would be to stick an inexperienced Jackson or Brown there. The Ravens would really be in trouble if one of their injured starters (Lardarius Webb or Jimmy Smith) isn't ready for the regular season and they have to put Cox with the first-team defense.

This is Cox's fourth team in two years. He was previously with the Jacksonville Jaguars, San Diego Chargers and Minnesota Vikings.

Cox signed a four-year, $19.8 million contract with the Chargers in 2013, and he was gone in a year. One of the biggest busts in free agency that year, he couldn't keep the starting job for the entire season and finished as the 106th-rated corner by Pro Football Focux.

He then went to the Vikings in March and he couldn't make it past the first round of cuts. Pro Football Focus had him rated as the 32nd-best corner in the preseason.

This is another one of the Ravens' no-risk additions. Cox is still young and he signed for the minimum ($730,000). When he played for the Jaguars (2009-12), he showed flashes of being a No. 1 corner, which is why he earned a big pay day from San Diego.

Still, there's a reason why Cox was let go by the Chargers and the Vikings in a five-month span. The Ravens might have improved, but they haven't improved enough.
OWINGS MILLS, Md. -- With only 12 days until the regular season kicks off, the Baltimore Ravens were once again without their starting cornerbacks in practice.

Lardarius Webb hasn't suited up since hurting his lower back on July 25. He walked out onto the field during Tuesday's practice, but he only watched from the sideline.

Jimmy Smith did some running while others practiced Monday, but he wasn't on the field Tuesday. He hasn't practiced since bruising his chest in an Aug. 16 preseason game at Dallas.

Asked whether Smith and Webb will practice by the end of the week, coach John Harbaugh said, "I'm anticipating that."

The Ravens are also without their No. 3 cornerback Asa Jackson, who injured his ankle on Aug. 10. He ran off to the side during Tuesday's practice and worked on his lateral movement with a trainer.

"Asa is making progress," Harbaugh said. "He looked good today moving around."

For the second straight game, the Ravens are going with Chykie Brown and Dominique Franks as their starting cornerbacks for the preseason finale.
OWINGS MILLS, Md. -- Two weeks ago, rookie third-round pick Terrence Brooks was buried on the depth chart and was already called "a disappointment" on a local sports talk show. Flash forward to Saturday night when Brooks was playing with the first-team defense, making an interception (which was negated by penalty) and running down Robert Griffin III for a sack.

[+] EnlargeTerrence Brooks
Tim Heitman/USA TODAY SportsTerrence Brooks, the Ravens' rookie third-round pick, says he's learned what he needs to do to be successful on the field.
Brooks came to the Ravens with the reputation for being the fastest safety in the draft. The speed by which he has picked up the Ravens' system recently has been just as impressive.

"It was kind of slow for a while," coach John Harbaugh said of Brooks' development. "He just wasn't showing that he understood what he was doing. But I think the light came on two weeks ago football-wise. Now, it's really starting to show up with the way he's playing. That gets me fired up."

Brooks was drafted as a free safety, but he's made his impact as a nickelback. With all of the injuries at cornerback, Brooks has stepped up to cover the slot receiver for the starting defense.

He showed great anticipation in jumping in front of Redskins receiver DeSean Jackson for an interception deep in Ravens' territory, a turnover that was negated by a penalty on Dominique Franks. Brooks then forced the Redskins to settle for a field goal in the red zone when he chased down RG III for a sack.

"I've been able to eliminate the clutter so my attitude is, it's just football," Brooks said. "I just need to do the things I've been doing and get more comfortable. I really feel I've taken the steps to do that."

Asked specifically about the "clutter," Brooks said, "Just thinking too much and not playing. I've learned you can't let things get to you and worry about things. My mindset now is they have to beat me. That's the big thing I'm really harping on."

During offseason workouts and the start of training camp, Brooks was playing safety on the third-team defense.

Then, Harbaugh said he noticed how Brooks seemed more sure about his assignments. Brooks suddenly knew what he was supposed to do and where he was supposed to be.

"For him to jump up the last two weeks the way he has is kind of surprising," Harbaugh said. "It seems like it's usually slower going with that position."

There is still a learning curve for Brooks. In the fourth quarter Saturday, he committed a pass interference penalty and later gave up a touchdown.

With the starters not playing in the preseason finale, Brooks will see a lot of playing time Thursday night in New Orleans.

"If he flies around and does the right thing and plays fast like that," Harbaugh said, "that would be a real good sign for us."
Wide receiver Steve Smith showed how many ways he's going to help the Baltimore Ravens in Saturday's preseason game against the Washington Redskins.

 He caught six passes for 80 yards in one half of work, and nearly each reception highlighted why the Ravens signed him one day after the Carolina Panthers released him in March.

This is how Smith is going to strengthen some of the Ravens' weaknesses in the passing game:
  • Smith fought threw four tacklers to turn a short pass into a 30-yard gain, illustrating how his determination exceeds his size. Ravens receivers had trouble breaking tackles last season. The Ravens averaged 4.89 yards after first contact last season, which was 24th in the NFL.
  • Smith's diving, 24-yard touchdown grab from Joe Flacco at the end of the first half is the type of clutch catch the Ravens need. The Ravens only had five touchdown catches in the last five minutes of a half last season. Only seven teams had fewer.
  • His eight-yard catch on a slant route converted a third-and-5 in the first quarter. That high-percentage throw will be a staple of the Ravens' offense this season, and Smith will be a frequent target on third downs. Since 2002, Smith has the seventh-most third down catches among active receivers (208). Last season, the Ravens ranked 20th in the NFL in third-down conversions (36.4 percent).

"I think he saw a little bit of everything," Flacco said. "He catches the ball great. When he gets to it, he catches it. He runs with the ball well. He’s strong, he’s powerful, he’s quick, [and] he’s fast, so he can break tackles. He’s going to help us out a lot. We’re getting on the same page; every day we’re getting better and better. I think this was a big step with him.”

Throughout his career, Smith has talked about carrying a chip on his shoulder. His determination now comes from proving himself with a new team. Smith spent the first 13 years of his NFL career with the Panthers.

"People are always going to say, ‘OK, it’s great what he did over here, but he’s not there any more. What’s he’ s going to bring to the table?,'" Smith said "So that’s what I want to do is show what I bring to the table.”

The Ravens, though, insist he has nothing to prove to them.

"How many times have we seen him, over the years down there, make a catch? Take that wide turn out of a break and make yards or bounce off tacklers," coach John Harbaugh said. "If you tackle him high, tackle him low, he’s strong, he can bounce out of tackles. And then to go make that catch in the end zone at the half, that’s kind of vintage Steve Smith. So, it was great to see that.”
Joe Flacco wasn't pleased with the Baltimore Ravens' results on fourth down in Saturday's preseason game against the Washington Redskins. He did, however, believe it was the right decision to go for the first down both times.

 On the opening drive, the Ravens were stopped on fourth-and-1 at midfield when an unblocked Redskins linebacker hit running back Bernard Pierce in the backfield. Then, on the last play of the first quarter, the offensive line got no push on fourth-and-1 at the Redskins' 11-yard line and rookie Lorenzo Taliaferro was stopped for no gain.

Flacco made it clear that he supported the aggressive decision-making of coach John Harbaugh.

"When you’re an offensive guy, and you’re on the field, you want to stay out there," Flacco said. "You want to score points for your team, and going for it on fourth down in those situations is giving you the opportunity to do that. That’s all you can ask for as a quarterback.”

Harbaugh said the decisions to go for it on fourth down were "without question" easier because it was the preseason.

"But, the numbers and percentages, pretty much says, ‘Go for it,'" Harbaugh said. "It’s pretty overwhelming a lot of times. As a coach, you’ve got to make a gut decision on how you feel about it. We’ve gone for it a lot over the years. I think if you look at the track record, we’re pretty aggressive on fourth down. So we like to do that, and we like to have confidence in our guys being able to get there.”

It does seem like Harbaugh has gone for it on fourth down many times over the years. But the numbers say otherwise.

Since Harbaugh became coach in 2008, the Ravens have attempted the fourth-fewest fourth downs (71) in the NFL. Their conversion rate of 46.5 percent ranks 22nd in the league.

How have the Ravens done on fourth-and-one? Under Harbaugh, the Ravens have converted 61.3 percent of those situations (19 of 31), which ranks 22nd in the NFL. There are 10 teams who have a conversion rate over 70 percent on fourth-and-one over that span.
OWINGS MILLS, Md. -- Baltimore Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco wasn't shocked when Cleveland Browns rookie Johnny Manziel extended his middle finger toward the Washington Redskins' bench in Monday night's preseason game. Actually, he's surprised by the attention it's received.

"I think we've all seen the middle finger before and we should get over it," Flacco said Tuesday.

Manziel may have been reacting to what he heard from the Redskins' bench, because he extended his middle finger over his right shoulder and into the direction of the Washington sideline.

Flacco said he never got harassed to the point where he lashed out like Manziel. But Flacco also said he never dealt with the amount of pressure that's been placed on the Browns' first-round pick.

Instead of criticizing Manziel, Flacco was more emphatic toward him.

"When people say stuff to you, what do you do? You react," Flacco said. "And you usually react in a way that you might not necessarily want to or not necessarily always react that way. I hate to say it, and you don't want to make it that way. But a football field is a place where there is a lot of emotion. Sometimes, those things happen. Obviously, you want to limit to the point where no one else sees it."

Flacco said he's surprised that these types of incidents don't happen more often in football.

"When bullets are flying, it can be pretty crazy out there," he said. "When you watch it on TV and even when we got back and watch it on film, you don't account for all the things that are actually going on out there. Guys are tired as can be. People are saying things to each other. So, that kind of stuff can happen. You don't want it to, obviously. But I always think those things are blown out of proportion and they want something to talk about. This is it today."

Flacco is known for his low-key demeanor. That's why he's known as Joe Cool in Baltimore.

When asked if he had ever extended the middle finger on a football field, Flacco said, "Yeah, I flipped Suggs off the other day in practice."
A look at how the Baltimore Ravens' 2014 draft class has fared halfway through the preseason:

C.J. Mosley, inside linebacker: After an impressive preseason opener, the first-round pick took a step back in Week 2. Mosley was sluggish in coverage and missed a couple of tackles while defending the run. For the most part, Mosley has been strong in training camp, showing athleticism and good instincts. He leads the Ravens with 10 tackles this preseason.

Timmy Jernigan, defensive tackle: The second-round pick has been among the top rookies in camp. He has repeatedly broken through the line and got penetration up the middle. That hasn't translated to the two preseason games. Jernigan doesn't have a tackle in 47 snaps.

Terrence Brooks, safety: The third-round pick has moved up the depth chart, playing nickelback with the starters and free safety with the second-team defense. Brooks hasn't broken up a pass in the preseason, but he has a quarterback hit off a blitz.

Crockett Gillmore, tight end: The third-round pick hasn't stood out in training camp. He has just one catch for three yards in the preseason. Gillmore's role could be expanded if Owen Daniels' legs can't hold up for the season.

Brent Urban, defensive end: The fourth-round pick tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee on July 30 and is out for the season. Urban was expected to back up defensive end Chris Canty.

Lorenzo Taliaferro, running back: The fourth-round pick leads the Ravens with 130 yards rushing this preseason. His physical style of running has caught the coaching staff's attention. Taliaferro is looking to be the primary backup to Bernard Pierce when Ray Rice is serving his two-game suspension.

John Urschel, guard: The fifth-round pick delivered a key block in Taliaferro's touchdown run Saturday in Dallas. Urschel has moved up to the second-team offense, replacing Ryan Jensen at right guard and increasing his chances of landing one of the final spots on the 53-man roster.

Keith Wenning, quarterback: The sixth-round pick has improved in camp, although it was hard to tell by his performance in the second preseason game. He was 2 of 4 for 23 yards, fumbling on his first pass attempt (which led to a touchdown). Wenning is expected to go on the practice squad as the No. 3 quarterback.

Michael Campanaro, wide receiver: The seventh-round pick finished camp strong and is in position to make the final roster. His quickness and route-running make him perfectly suited for slot receiver. Campanaro could develop into a productive returner as well.
In what became a bad trend last season, Baltimore Ravens outside linebacker Terrell Suggs would crash inside on a running play and watch the runner race past him for a big gain on the outside. This happened again in the preseason opener.

 So, is Suggs getting caught out of position or is that the design of the play?

"It could be a little bit of both, but we do have some calls where we want to take him inside," defensive coordinator Dean Pees said. "The one thing I learned a long time ago [is] if you line up the same way all the time, a guy is going to tee off on you. You need to be able to change it up, so the guy can’t just sit there and know you’re going to be stationary all the time. We’re trying to do, maybe, a little bit more movement up front, too, in some ways, and a little bit of that is ‘Sizz’ [ Suggs]."

Pees said you have to give great players an occasional license to freelance because it allows them to use their instincts.

"I think once in a while you also have to let them be a football player," Pees said. "Now they can’t do it all the time, but sometimes I think you also have to have a little allowance. I always tell the rookies, I say, ‘Look, I’m always going to be fair, not equal.’ So, that’s kind of the way we look at it.”

A six-time Pro Bowl player, Suggs finished last season with 80 tackles, his most since the 2008 season. Last season, Pro Football Focus had him rated as the best run-stopper among all 3-4 outside linebackers.