5 Ravens Players Who Have Stepped Up Amidst Injuries


"Next man up" is a cliché, yet true, manta that has unfortunately become part of the daily lexicon around the Ravens Under Armour Performance Center this season.

It started when some key veterans departed in the offseason, and it became even more prevalent with player after player falling to injuries (17 now on injured reserve).

That has required many Ravens to step into larger roles.

Here are some who have answered the call in recent games:

WR Kamar Aiken

Since Steve Smith Sr. went down with a season-ending Achilles tear, Aiken has been the Ravens' top target. Aiken has averaged six catches and 68 yards per game, and caught a pair of touchdowns, in the three games since. That's not including a six-catch, 62-yard performance against San Diego when he helped carry the offense to a win after Smith went down. Aiken's coming off six grabs for 80 yards and a touchdown in Cleveland. He has had a lot of doubters over the season, but he's consistently produced.

Offensive Coordinator Marc Trestman: "I think he's been productive. He would be the first to tell you we want more out of him in terms of being in the right place at the right time. But no one can deny that he's made contested catches, he's gotten us run after catch and he's done some really good, disciplined things. The route he ran for the touchdown was beautifully executed from the classroom to the practice field and in the game."

RB Javorius Allen

Even before Justin Forsett went down for the rest of the year with a broken arm, Allen had to take on a bigger role. That's because running back Lorenzo Taliaferro suffered a season-ending foot injury. In his first game as the Ravens' starter, Allen had 55 yards on 12 carries, a healthy average of 4.6 yards per rush, with four catches for 29 yards and a touchdown. He put up over 100 total yards the week before against the Rams after Forsett went down.

Head Coach John Harbaugh: "I saw a really good running back [in Cleveland]. I thought he did a heck of a good job."

DT Timmy Jernigan

While Brandon Williams has dominated against the run game, Timmy Jernigan has helped offset some of the pass rush lost from departed Haloti Ngata. Jernigan's hits have knocked out quarterbacks in back-to-back weeks with the Rams' Case Keenum (concussion) and Browns' Josh McCown (collarbone). Jernigan had a half-sack against Cleveland and nine tackles over the past three games. He has received a plus-3.7 rating from Pro Football Focus (PFF) the past two games.

Harbaugh: "I saw pretty good pass rushes. Timmy is explosive. He's powerful. He's a good mix of power and explosion. Every week he's playing a little harder. He's really starting to get a feel for turning that motor up a notch every single week, and I think he can keep doing it. I think he has a couple more notches in him as far as his energy level, because he's talented."

CB Shareece Wright

Wright had a brutal start with the Ravens, giving up four catches for 132 yards and a touchdown against his previous employer, the San Francisco 49ers, in Week 6. On Monday night, Wright was the Ravens' highest-rated defender, per PFF, with a plus-4.1 grade. Wright made five tackles, broke up two passes and allowed just three completions for 20 yards while being targeted a whopping 12 times. Wright has allowed just eight catches over the past five contests and has helped the Ravens find a trustworthy No. 3 cornerback.

Defensive Coordinator Dean Pees: "I feel for him in that first game. Not only was he put in a situation where he had to play against a team he just played for on a short week. But it was a tough week. He had been in Indianapolis with a tryout earlier in the week, caught a red-eye [flight] to that, then came over to us on the same day. It was a tough week for him. But since that time, he's really dug into the playbook, really bought into everything, plays with good technique, good eyes. He's been a pleasant surprise. I think he's done well."

C John Urschel

There hasn't been much talk about Urschel since he had trouble with his shotgun snaps in the Week 8 win over San Diego. That's probably a good thing. Stepping in for injured Jeremy Zuttah (shoulder, injured reserve), Urschel had a plus-1.2 grade in pass blocking versus St. Louis, one of the NFL's most talented defensive fronts featuring reigning Defensive Rookie of the Year Aaron Donald. Then Urschel held his own against Browns first-round rookie nose tackle Danny Shelton on Monday Night Football. That's all while playing out of his natural guard position. The Ravens have only given up one sack over the past two games.

Harbaugh: "Our offensive line just blocked extremely well [in Cleveland]. The fourth-and-six-inches from our own 25, they stacked the box from guard to guard for the quarterback sneak. But our three inside guys and our quarterback still got the quarterback sneak done. … Urschel is a very physical player."

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