Late For Work 10/2: Starting Or Not, Which Ravens Play The Most?

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Starting Or Not, Which Ravens Play The Most?

We already know that quarterback Joe Flacco, Marshal Yanda and Michael Oher are staples for the vast majority of the offensive snaps. On defense, Haloti Ngata rarely takes a break.

But what about some of the aging players? And what about some of the positions where the competition for the starting role continues even after a quarter of the season? And how is Offensive Coordinator Cam Cameron spreading the wealth among 10 skill positions?

The Sun's Matt Vensel* *compiled some interesting snap-count trends among these groups from the statistical website Pro Football Focus (note these numbers are not official league stats).

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](http://www.dunkindonuts.com)On offense, it's interesting to look at how often the receivers are getting action, including No. 3 receiver Jacoby Jones. At the tight end position, Dennis Pitta has 40 total more snaps than Ed Dickson and 64 more snaps at receiver. Two young offensive linemen who became starters for the first time this season – Ramon Harewood and Kelechi Osemele – have played all 293 snaps. And 36-year-old Matt Birk is keeping pace with 288.

Offense
WR Anquan Boldin: 266
WR Torrey Smith: 261
WR Jacoby Jones: 122
TE Dennis Pitta: 200 (131 as a receiver)
TE Ed Dickson: 160 (blocking on 93)
FB Vonta Leach: 105 (blocking on 63)
RB Ray Rice: 239
LT Michael Oher: 284
LG Ramon Harewood: 293
C Matt Birk: 288 snaps
RG Marshal Yanda: 281
RT Kelechi Osemele: 293

On defense, Vensel points out that the Ravens are playing a lot more of their nickel package, as opposed to their traditional 3-4 defense,  because more and more offenses are using three or more receivers on the field. That's giving all three top corners more playing time.

That same trend is affecting the snap count at linebacker. Starting linebacker Jameel McClain, who sees more action against the run, has seen fewer snaps (45) than his backup Dannell Ellerbe, who defends more against the pass. Art Jones and Pernell McPhee have battled for the starting role at defensive end, and McPhee is getting more snaps as he rushed the quarterback more. And despite the fact that they are another year older, Ed Reed (34) and Ray Lewis (37) continue to play nearly every defensive snap.

Defense
CB Lardarius Webb: 299
CB Cary Williams: 294
CB Jimmy Smith: 185
DE Pernell McPhee: 212 (140 rushing the QB)
DE Art Jones: 99 (mostly as run defender)
LB Jameel McClain: 143
LB Dannell Ellerbe: 188 (45 more than starter McClain)
LB Ray Lewis: 298
OLB Paul Kruger: 173 (injured in Week 2)
OLB Albert McClellan: 151
OLB Courtney Upshaw: 200
OLB Sergio Kindle: 12
S Ed Reed: 287
S Bernard Pollard: 242 (injured in Week 2)

Stock Up, Stock Down After A Quarter Of Play

With a quarter of the season in the rearview mirror, CSNBaltimore.com's Bo Smolka takes a look at three Ravens whose stock is on the rise and decline.

The three Ravens who are ascending are Harewood, running back Bernard Pierce and kicker Justin Tucker. Who would have guessed Harewood would be the eventual replacement for departed Pro Bowler Ben Grubbs? Few, if any, saw the Barbados native taking that spot after being* *on injured reserve for the last two years.

We all know the Tucker-Cundiff story. But then there's rookie third-round pick Pierce, who beat out Damien Berry and Anthony Allen for the No. 2 running back role.

"[H]e has shown flashes of his potential," wrote Smolka. "Against Cleveland, Pierce had a season-best 48 yards on six carries, showing acceleration and strength. His 21-yard run was the longest of the game, and he gives the Ravens a nice complement to Rice."

According to Smolka, the three Ravens on the decline are Dickson, tackle Bryant McKinnie and receiver LaQuan Williams. McKinnie started all 16 games last year protecting Flacco's blindside, but is primarily riding the bench after taking a pay cut during training camp. Williams, who made the team as a rookie free agent last year, has yet to be activated for a game. And Dickson?

"Dickson was supplanted by Dennis Pitta as the No. 1 tight end on the depth chart, and although Dickson is still seeing plenty of action, his dropoff in production has been significant," wrote Smolka. "Dickson was not targeted at all in the Browns game, marking the first time in 19 games that he did not catch a pass. … Still, the way the Ravens spread the wealth in their passing game, Dickson could be the receiver du jour again soon."

Reed Appealed $21,000 Fine

Safety Ed Reed appealed his $21,000 fine for a hit on Patriots receiver Deion Branch in the Ravens'* *Week 3 win, according to The Baltimore Sun's Aaron Wilson.

The NFL ruled that Reed struck a defenseless player in the head and neck area. Reed hit Branch's helmet with his forearm, a crushing blow that caused the receiver to drop the pass.

Chiefs Considering Benching Cassel?

Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Matt Cassel may be "losing his grip" on his starting job, reports Yahoo! Sports' Jason Cole.

"Look, there's a big reason why they went after Peyton Manning as hard as they did this offseason," a source with knowledge of Chiefs President Scott Pioli's thinking told Cole. "What you're seeing from Cassel is pretty much what was expected. He's a really nice backup, not a starter."

Cole wrote that if the team had better alternatives than Brady Quinn or Ricky Stanzi, Cassel may have already been benched.

If Cassel does play Sunday versus the Ravens, the numbers indicate that Baltimore could come up with a few picks. Cassel has thrown seven interceptions in five games while the Ravens defense has come up with eight turnovers,* *including four picks.

If the Chiefs (1-3) are indeed considering benching Cassel, Head Coach Romeo Crennel isn't saying so.

"Even after he had those turnovers, he came back and drove the team down the field, so we think he's capable," Crennel said Monday. "We just have to get him to be more consistent."

Should You Be Concerned About Defense?

The Ravens pass defense is currently ranked 29th out of 32 NFL teams.  The unit is still struggling to find a pass rush and is giving up too many chunks of yardage.

Should you be concerned?

Stephen A. Smith and Skip Bayless debate.

Quick Hits

  • Redskins Head Coach Mike Shanahan told reporters yesterday that he will not work out any kickers "this week." Billy Cundiff missed three field goals Sunday before nailing the game winner. Clark Judge says it's already time to start auditioning replacement candidates, however. Vensel is pulling for Cundiff. [PFT.com, CBSSports.com, The Sun]
  • Vensel and Jamison Hensley both defend Flacco's win-loss record, saying that columnist Bill Barnwell isn't entirely correct in asserting that the fifth-year quarterback's wins are more because of the Ravens' dominant defense in years past. [ESPN, The Sun, Grantland]
  • "[Matt] Birk and [Brendon] Ayanbadejo shouldn't just be applauded for expressing their viewpoints, but also the manner in which they decided to do so," wrote Hensley. [ESPN]
  • @adamschefter: A happy and healthy 52nd birthday to Colts HC Chuck Pagano. [Twitter]
  • @ravens: RB Ray Rice is second in the NFL with 491 yards from scrimmage. [Twitter]
  • @ravensinsider: Bernard Pollard elected Ravens new player union representative, according to NFLPA spokesman Carl Francis [Twitter]
  • @bmoreeisenberg: Have to admit that getting referenced by Brooks Robinson in his statue speech was pretty cool. What a wonderful and generous guy. [Twitter]
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