*Ravens Worked Out Former Jets WR Jeremy Kerley *
Baltimore got a look at a veteran slot pass catcher yesterday by bringing in former Jets receiver Jeremy Kerley for a workout, according to ESPN’s Field Yates.* *
“[The workout is] an indication the team could add some help to its wide receiver position,” ESPN wrote. “With Jeremy Maclin's uncertain status, the Ravens are down to Mike Wallace and four other unproven receivers.”
Breshad Perriman, Chris Moore and Michael Campanaro have been on the active roster all season, but none have more than 17 catches.
The Ravens promoted Quincy Adeboyejo from the practice squad Tuesday. He provides insurance at the receiver position, but the move may have more to do with filling a special-teams role played by cornerback Jaylen Hill, who was placed on injured reserve (knee).
Head Coach John Harbaugh said Tuesday that Maclin has a “chance” to play Sunday against the Cincinnati Bengals. If the Ravens have doubts about his status, Kerley plays a similar style.
Maclin and Kerley are both 29 years old and veteran slot receivers who know how to get open. Maclin is bigger (three inches taller, 10 pounds heavier) and has produced more over his career.
“[Kerley’s] known as a solid slot receiver with good speed and change-of-direction ability,” ESPN wrote. “Kerley also has been a quality punt returner.”
If the Ravens were to sign Kerley, he’d have to learn the offense quickly and get on the same page with quarterback Joe Flacco. Kerley would have an advantage, however, as he played in New York when Marty Mornhinweg was the Jets offensive coordinator in 2013-14. Kerley notched 81 catches for 932 yards and four touchdowns under Mornhinweg during those two seasons.
This year, Kerley’s best game came against the New England Patriots when he made an absolutely amazing acrobatic catch for 30 yards that put the Jets at the 1-yard line. He followed it up later in the game with a 31-yard touchdown catch by beating Patriots cornerback Malcolm Butler.
Kerley reeled in 22 catches for 217 yards and a touchdown in eight games this season for the Jets, then was suspended four games for violating the league’s performance-enhancing drug* *policy. He reportedly tested positive for Turinabol, an anabolic steroid, which he strongly denied knowingly taking and even wanted an investigation to find out how it got into his body.
Upon his return from suspension, Kerley was asked if he figured out what happened, and, per NJ.com, he joked, “There’s a lot of ghosts around here. Maybe a ghost put it in me. I don’t know. You know the Ghost of Christmas Past?”
The Jets cut Kerley instead of adding him back to the active roster on Dec. 18. He spent a combined six seasons with the Jets, who drafted him in the fifth round of the 2011 NFL Draft, and totaled 204 receptions for 2,442 yards and 10 touchdowns.
His best season came last year when he was with the San Francisco 49ers, where he put up a solid 64 catches for 667 yards and three touchdowns.
“This signing would make a ton of sense for Baltimore,” wrote Baltimore Beatdown’s Dustin Cox. “The Ravens are gearing up for a playoff run, but the lack of consistent playmakers at the wide receiver position, and the health of Jeremy Maclin leave much doubt as to how serious of a contender Baltimore will be.
“Kerley isn’t a No. 1 WR or anything like that, but he is a better option than what the Ravens currently have past their top two receivers. … Kerley would give Baltimore a veteran target for Joe Flacco, who is able to make contested catches. Signing him would be a good move for the playoffs, but only if it’s for the right price of course.”
*Of Course Bill Belichick Signed James Harrison. If Nothing Else, This Could Be Entertaining *
Outside linebacker James Harrison is officially a New England Patriot.
Of course he is.
It’s the ultimate Bill Belichick move to nab a potential playoff opponent’s former Defensive Player of the Year to squeeze out whatever juice is left in the preverbal 39-year-old orange. It might not be much; Harrison’s been inactive for most of the year and has just one sack under his belt.
There were rumors that the Ravens were also interested in Harrison, which Harbaugh neither confirmed nor denied at his press conference Tuesday. “I don’t know. You’ll have to ask Ozzie [Newsome],” he said.
Newsome rarely gives in-season interviews, and I doubt he’ll start now. So, unless Harrison speaks to it, we may not know anytime soon whether the Ravens tried to lure him to Baltimore and he chose New England instead. All we do know is that the Ravens didn’t put a waiver claim on him.
Analysts are still scratching their collective heads as to why the Steelers would release Harrison now, after carrying him on the roster for 16 games, only to release him right before the playoffs.
“Now that Harrison signed with one of Pittsburgh’s two Darth Vaders, the Patriots (Baltimore, of course, being the other), we can assume there’s something under the surface here,” wrote Sports Illustrated’s Peter King. “I just don’t know what it is. Mike Tomlin said Tuesday the team simply needed the roster spot for Gilbert. Perhaps. There’s still something here that we don’t know. One of your all-time most distinguished players gets whacked in Week 16 without comment, and … just nothing.”
How right you are, Luke.
It already is amusing on social media. It will continue to be entertaining unless this somehow ends up biting the Ravens if they are fortunate enough to meet the Patriots in the postseason. But for now, the reaction to the news has been priceless, starting with Harrison’s selfie with Tom Brady in the Patriots locker room.
Ravens’ Playoff Chances Reach 97 Percent; Jaguars Won’t Rest Starters
If you ask the data analysts, the Ravens are about as close to a playoff lock as you can get. According to ESPN's Football Power Index, Baltimore’s chances of punching a postseason ticket have reached 97 percent.
A. 97. Percent. Chance.
“If the Baltimore Ravens miss the playoffs Sunday, it would represent the biggest surprise of the final week of the 2017 regular season,” ESPN wrote.
We already know the Ravens can advance by beating the Bengals Sunday, but they will also get in if either the Tennessee Titans (vs. Jacksonville Jaguars) or Buffalo Bills (at Miami Dolphins) lose.
It wouldn’t be surprising if the Bills beat the Dolphins for the second time in three weeks, although this will be a tougher challenge on the road. The good news is there could be a nice insurance policy with the Titans losing. Tennessee has lost three straight, but there was some worry that the Jaguars might not play their starters because they’re locked in as the No. 3 seed, win or lose.
Jaguars Head Coach Doug Marrone killed that possibility at his Tuesday press conference. He said it wasn’t even close to a hard decision to play the starters.
“Make no mistake about it, just so there is not a lot of talk during the week: When the players come in, we are talking about how we are going to play to win and do everything we possibly can to win this game, period,” Marrone said, per ESPN’s Michael DiRocco.
THIS Is Why Ozzie Newsome Hoarded Cornerbacks in the Offseason
Tuesday marked the fourth cornerback the Ravens have placed on injured reserve this season with Hill landing on the list.
And that’s not even counting Maurice Canady, who was on the list until Week 8 with a knee injury.
Newsome was criticized for drafting Marlon Humphrey over tight end O.J. Howard in the first round of the 2017 draft. He already signed Brandon Carr and Lardarius Webb to go along with Smith, Canady and Young. But Newsome has been on this roller coaster before when he wound up too thin at the position while trying to make a playoff push.
Hoarding corners has paid off this season, and nobody would be shocked if he did it again by keeping all the young corners on his roster, along with the veterans Carr and Smith.
“Maurice Canady saved the day with his fourth-down pass breakup to preserve a one-score lead, and his emergence sure gives the Ravens some good cornerback depth moving forward,” wrote Jones. “Jimmy Smith, Brandon Carr, Marlon Humphrey, Tavon Young, and Canady are all under contract for 2018.”
Joe Flacco: ‘This Is What I Love’
A 10-year NFL quarterback, Flacco is keenly aware of his reputation.
He knows critics constantly harp on his low-key personality and misconstrue it as not caring enough about the game. It couldn’t be further from the truth, but it will come as no surprise that Flacco shrugs it off.
“There’s a little bit of you that wishes you didn’t care so you could just go out and play and react,” Flacco told The Baltimore Sun’s Childs Walker. “But listen, this is my life. We all care. I don’t want to say especially me, but I carry a lot of the load for the team and how they prepare. A lot of people look at me and say, ‘This is how Joe’s doing it.’ So yeah, I care a ton. This is what I love. And the more I care, the more I think it bleeds into everyone else.
“Listen, it doesn’t bother me that much if people feel that way. Because they don’t know."
Walker wrote an in-depth feature on Flacco and how he approaches his job. It’s worth your time to read the whole thing here.
*Quick Hits *
- “The offense continues to play at a higher level in December, but the Ravens have scored just three touchdowns in seven trips inside the red zone the last two weeks since going 4-for-4 against Pittsburgh. Justin Tucker field goals in that area aren’t going to cut it in January,” wrote Jones. [WNST]
- “Both Alex Collins and Michael Campanaro put the ball on the ground against the Colts, but the Ravens have committed only two turnovers in the last six games since the bye,” Jones added. “That’s strong evidence supporting the notion that this offense was way too conservative through the first three months.” [WNST]