Late For Work 10/8: Ravens Tried Out Cornerback Champ Bailey

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Ravens Tried Out Cornerback Champ Bailey

The Ravens apparently turned over every stone in their search for a cornerback.

The team reportedly signed Dominque Franks Tuesday, but not before they tried out one the best in NFL history.

Veteran free-agent cornerback Champ Bailey worked out for Ravens brass yesterday, according to multiple reports, including EPSN's Field Yates.

Unless the Ravens still plan on adding a second corner, it appears they chose Franks over the 36-year-old Bailey.

The Ravens were in need of another corner because Asa Jackson will "probably" go on the injured reserve-designated to return list after severely spraining his toe Sunday, says Head Coach John Harbaugh. 

A 12-time Pro Bowler, Bailey racked up 983 career tackles, 52 interceptions, 235 pass deflections, nine forced fumbles and five fumble recoveries. But his chances of ever playing in the NFL again seem slim.

"The Ravens' decision to sign Franks over Bailey, once of the NFL's best cornerbacks and a 12-time Pro Bowler, is another indication that Bailey's stellar NFL career could be over at age 36," wrote CSNBaltimore.com's Clifton Brown. "Whether the Ravens would add Bailey later, particularly if another cornerback suffered an injury, remains to be seen." 

While he is one of the greatest of all time, Bailey has been on the decline the last couple seasons.

He was ranked by Pro Football Focus as the 141st safety last season when he was with the Denver Broncos. He also didn't play well with the Saints in the preseason as he dealt with a foot injury, and was cut before the season. The Lions already tried him out, but didn't sign him. And the Ravens witnessed Torrey Smith torch him twice in the 2012 AFC divisional playoff game.

As for the man that beat Bailey for the roster spot … what should the expectations be for Franks?

"Franks was below average during the preseason, but there aren't many options at cornerback in the free-agent market," wrote ESPN's Jamison Hensley. "The benefit of bringing back Franks is he's already familiar with the Ravens' system. 

"At most, Franks can be the team's No. 3 cornerback and contribute on special teams."

What You Need To Know About New TE Taylor

The Ravens claimed tight end Ryan Taylor off waivers yesterday after he was cut by the Green Bay Packers.* *

The move seems designed more to help the special teams unit* *rather than to bolster the tight end corps, which already lost starter Dennis Pitta for the season.

"He's a solid core special teams guy who can block and cover," wrote ESPN Packers reporter Rob Demovsky. "From 2011 through last year he was among their top two or three special teamers but became expendable this year as their athleticism improved throughout the roster. He never had much of a role on offense – as the stats will show (his lone career touchdown catch came in his rookie year) – except for an occasional blocking assignment."

Billick: Ravens Must Re-Evaluate Short-Yardage Play-Calling

After watching the Ravens offense cruise for three straight games, former Ravens Head Coach Brain Billick was surprised by its lack of productivity in Indianapolis.

The unit particularly struggled to convert on third and fourth downs (a combined 2-for-14), and Billick believes the issue was the play-calling. On seven of those plays, the distance was three yards or fewer for the first down, but they only ran it once and threw it six times.

"[T]he most telling development for me was the Ravens' play selection in short-yardage situations," wrote Billick.

"There are any number of reasons to throw in these situations. Rationale can be based on what you have done in the past, what the defense has done in the past and which matchups you think give you the best chance to succeed. However, my guess is that the Ravens will re-evaluate their play-calling here, and recommit to the balanced formula that could make them one of the most dominant – and well-rounded – teams in the AFC."

And for the record, Billick agreed with Harbaugh's decision to go for it on fourth-and-1 early in the second quarter. That's even with the hindsight that they didn't convert. Again, the thing Billick would have changed was the play call.

"I support the decision to go for it," Billick wrote. "But the Ravens had Flacco drop back again – and again, he was sacked."

Hensley: Ravens Need To Give Hurst Help

Quarterback Joe Flacco had the second worst total quarterback rating (QBR) of the weekend with 16.0. This came after making the top-10 the week prior.

"Left tackle Eugene Monroe's absence (knee) had a dramatic impact," wrote ESPN's Kevin Seifert. "The Ravens' passing game had its worst game of the season."

But Monroe isn't coming back for a few more weeks, so a solution will need to be found until then.

Hensley attributes three of Flacco's four sacks in Indianapolis to undrafted rookie free agent James Hurst, along with a quarterback hit and three hurries. He says the best chance for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers' to have success is to attack Hurst.

"The Ravens didn't help matters by leaving Hurst on an island," Hensley wrote. "They kept five blockers against a heavy blitzing Colts defense. There was no adjustment of putting a tight end on Hurst's side or chipping a running back to help him during his struggles. 

"The best way to help fix this problem is by giving Hurst more help. His matchup Sunday is Buccaneers defensive end Michael Johnson, who has two sacks this season but didn't record a tackle in 82 snaps in their previous game." 

As for when Monroe returns, Harbaugh was wisely vague, but Hensley is guessing it will only be a few more weeks. He believes that if Monroe's recovery was going to last at least eight games, the team would have put him on the injured reserve-designated for return list.

"Because they didn't, it's reasonable to expect Monroe to come back by November."

Week 6 Power Rankings

The Ravens took a deeeeep slide down the power rankings.

Baltimore dropped about five spots in most of the rankings below, sitting at about No. 10-12 in most.

ESPN: No. 12 (dropped five spots)
"Baltimore's defense has cost the team 5.5 expected points this season, the first in Stats & Info's data set (since 2006) with a negative defensive efficiency."

SportingNews.com, Vinnie Iyer: No. 11 (dropped six spots)
"It's puzzling how Joe Flacco and the offense can look so good at home where the team has a mighty advantage, and then go into the tank away, as they did in Indianapolis. Otherwise, they're right in the thick of a tight AFC North."

Fox Sports, Dan Schneier: No. 11 (dropped four spots)
"The Ravens defense was a bright spot again, with potential DROY candidate C.J. Mosley leading the way. Unfortunately, the offense stalled on its final attempt thanks in part to a Colts pass rush that came alive."

SB Nation, Danny Kelly: No. 11 (dropped five spots)

ProFootballTalk.com, Mike Florio: No. 10 (dropped five spots)
"Maybe they need some more controversy to get back to winning."

CBSSports.com, Pete Prisco: No. 13 (dropped six spots)
"They are having problems defending the pass, ranking 27th in the league. That has to be fixed."

NFL.com, Elliot Harrison: No. 10 (dropped three spots)
"Not a wonderful showing for the Ravens in Indy, with the most glaring issue being the abysmal performance on third down. Baltimore went 1-for-11 on football's money down, virtually handing the game to the Colts. Just over 21 minutes of possession isn't gonna get it done, either – unless you rack up a number of big plays. Unfortunately, for the Ravens, they didn't really get any of those."

The Baltimore Sun, Jon Meoli: fell out of the top-10 list (last week No. 7)

SI.com, Peter King: No. 14 (dropped eight spots)
"C.J. Mosley, the first-round pick from Alabama, with his first huge NFL game: 14 tackles, one pick of Andrew Luck."

Quick Hits

  • Peter King thinks the NFL should designate one non-conference rival for each team, and allow them to play a lot more than once every four years. For example, Jets vs. Giants, 49ers vs. Raiders, Texans vs. Cowboys would be good rivalries. And the obvious one for the Ravens would be the Redskins. I like it. I like it a lot, Peter. [MMQB.com]
  • "The Baltimore Ravens aren't going to hold Torrey Smith's last-minute drop against the speedy wide receiver," wrote Hensley. "By the way coach John Harbaugh is talking, the Ravens are more determined than ever to increase Smith's role in the offense." [ESPN]
  • Former Ravens kicker Matt Stover discusses NFL's player conduct issues with Roger Goodell. [The Baltimore Sun] 
  • After Matt Elam forced a big fumble against the Colts, Harbaugh sees progress in the second-year player. [The Baltimore Sun]
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