Interpreting Ravens' Roster Moves, Including Ones Not Made
It's not unusual for the Ravens to announce a few minor roster moves Tuesday mornings, which was the case yesterday when they promoted cornerback Asa Jackson to the 53-man squad, put rookie defensive tackle Willie Henry on injured reserve and made a couple practice squad changes.
But this time, the "minor" moves could have bigger implications, especially the ones that weren't made. Let's start with the moves that weren't made because they may turn out to be the biggest deal.
1) It's A Good Sign Ravens Didn't Move Yanda Or Lewis To Injured Reserve
Even though Head Coach John Harbaugh didn't give any indication that the Ravens' starting guards, Pro Bowler Marshal Yanda and rookie Alex Lewis, would be placed on injured reserve (IR), it was hard to rule it out.
There are only seven games left in the regular season, and Lewis is expected to miss six weeks. Yanda has missed three of the last four games, which causes one to believe his shoulder injury is serious given his legendary toughness.
But, it looks like the Ravens will save a roster spot for Lewis and give him a chance to return later this season, and Yanda may simply be in a pain-tolerance situation. If he says he can go, the Ravens will plug him in.
The only offensive line move the Ravens made was adding guard Jarrod Pughsley to the practice squad.
"Obviously, Yanda badly wants to play and the Ravens need him out there. Yanda's loss cannot be overstated," wrote The Baltimore Sun's Jeff Zrebiec. "He's right at or near the top of the players the Ravens could least afford to lose for an extended period.
"By the way, if you watched how Geno Atkins of the Cincinnati Bengals dominated the interior of the New York Giants' patchwork offensive line for stretches Monday night, you probably don't need to be reminded about how much the Ravens need Yanda. They have to face the Bengals twice and the Yanda-Atkins matchup has always been worth the price of admission."
2) Jackson Could Signal A Change At Returner
We have to be careful not to read too much into this roster move.
After all, Jackson may simply add depth at the cornerback position with Shareece Wright rehabbing a thigh injury. He can also help on special teams coverage. This is Jackson's third stint with the Ravens after they drafted him in the fifth round of the 2012 NFL Draft, so he makes sense to plug into the active roster.
That said, you can't rule out the idea that Jackson could also take over returner duties. Veteran Devin Hester has been hampered by thigh injuries and struggled with fumbles, although he improved Thursday night against the Cleveland Browns.
3) Rotating Tight End Signings Indicate Gillmore Isn't Ready Yet
Zrebiec has picked up on a trend with tight ends.
For the last couple of weeks, the Ravens have signed a tight end to the practice squad at the beginning of the week, and then cut that same tight end right before the game.
In Zrebiec's eyes, that's an indication that Crockett Gillmore, who is dealing with an injured thigh, isn't healthy enough to practice, but the team needs more than two healthy tight ends (Dennis Pitta and Darren Waller) during the practice sessions.
Signing tight end Austin Traylor to the practice squad yesterday continues that trend, indicating Gillmore still isn't ready to return.
As for placing fourth-round pick Henry on injured reserve …
Romo Makes Classy Speech & Squashed QB Controversy Ahead Of Ravens Game
Well, if there was ever any doubt about which quarterback the Ravens will face this Sunday when they travel to Dallas, Tony Romo has squashed it.
The Cowboys'* *starting quarterback of the last 12 years is finally healthy enough to play after breaking his back in the preseason, but while he's been rehabbing, rookie Dak Prescott has led the team to an NFL-best 8-1 start.
Instead of allowing his return to be a distraction, Romo read his own prepared statement that said Prescott has earned the starting job. Romo has decided to put his team first and made it clear that he has the rookie's back.
It was an absolutely classy gesture that you don't see every day in the NFL, and it's worth reading his speech. (You can watch the full presser here.)
"To say the first half of the season has been emotional would be a huge understatement," Romo said. "Getting hurt when you feel like you have the best team you've ever had was a soul-crushing moment for me. Then to learn it's not three or four weeks, but 10, is another blow.
"The press is whispering, everyone has doubts, you spent your career working to get here. Now we have to start all over. You almost feel like an outsider. The coaches are sympathetic, but they still have to coach. You're not there. It's a dark place. Probably the darkest it's ever been.
"It's in this moment that you find out who you really are, and what you're really about. You see, football is a meritocracy. You aren't handed anything.
"A great example of this is Dak Prescott, and what he's done. He's earned the right to be our quarterback. As hard as that is for me to say, he's earned that right. He's guided our team to an 8-1 record, and that's hard to do.
"I think you all know something magical is happening to our team. I'm not going to allow this situation to negatively affect Dak, or this football team, by becoming a constant distraction. I think Dak knows that I have his back. And I think I know that he has mine. Ultimately,* *it's about the team."
Ravens Planning M&T Bank Stadium Upgrades
The Ravens are planning on investing $110 million dollars into M&T Bank Stadium, according to The Baltimore Sun. The team has made no formal statement.
It feels like the stadium was built yesterday, becoming the latest and greatest among the 32 NFL teams, but 18 years have gone by. The team will reportedly implement new large video boards, a "ribbon board" encircling the upper level, new corner suites, and escalators and elevators so fans have an easier time reaching the upper level.
Some of these enhancements are still tentative and some could be worked on over the next three years. Per the report, the Ravens would pay for all $110 million of the improvements, but the Maryland Stadium Authority would use its "best efforts" to contribute $24 million for various projects.
Interestingly, the $110 million price tag for improvements is reportedly about half of what the entire stadium originally cost to build in 1998.
"The Ravens are offering to expend a significant amount of capital into the stadium, so that's a positive thing," Executive Director of the Stadium Authority Michael Frenz told The Sun. "I think it's pretty clear that what they're trying to do is improve the fan experience."
Ravens Players Want Your Pro Bowl Votes
Can you tell that Ravens players really want your Pro Bowl votes?
Voting opened league-wide Tuesday, and one way the NFL will tally votes is via social media. If fans use the hashtags #ProBowlVote #[PlayerName], that will count toward the voting totals. Or, you can vote at BaltimoreRavens.com/ProBowl.