Ravens Showed Interest In RB Fred Jackson. Why?
At this point, it's looking like running back Fred Jackson will become the Beast Mode backup in Seattle.
But apparently Baltimore was interested in his services, too.
Jackson, 34, was released by the Buffalo Bills Sunday as the team started working toward the 75-man roster limit. He didn't figure to be a large part of the Bills offense with newly-acquired LeSean McCoy in town.
Some thought the nine-year veteran could retire in Buffalo after becoming the franchise's third-most productive back with 5,646 rushing yards. But Jackson is on the downside of his career, with a career-low average of 3.7 yards per carry last season.
Meanwhile in Baltimore, the Ravens are primed with Justin Forsett as the starter. He's looking to prove last year's Cinderella season wasn't a one-time fluke, and so far, there has been no indication to suggest he can't repeat.
Behind Forsett, things get a little dicey. Perhaps that's why the Ravens may have been intrigued by Jackson.
"Ravens' reported interest in RB Fred Jackson shows there's some concern with Buck Allen as No. 2 back and Lorenzo Taliaferro's injury," tweeted ESPN's Jamison Hensley.
Taliaferro and Allen originally entered training camp in competition for the primary backup job, and Taliaferro was decisively running away with it. The second-year back looked more than ready, but then he suffered an MCL sprain against the Eagles. Head Coach John Harbaugh said Taliaferro would miss a "few weeks," but the interest in Jackson may mean the injury could linger further into the regular season.
Allen was the next man up versus the Redskins. He didn't shine and he broke a cardinal rule by fumbling at the goal line on fourth down. "I have no excuse," Allen said.
With Jackson already visiting Seattle and taking a physical, he's unlikely to join the Ravens at this point. Coaches will give Allen another opportunity Thursday night in Atlanta. The other option is Terrence Magee, an undrafted free-agent back out of LSU, who has impressed in his limited carries.
"But Jackson would give the Ravens a proven backup who has shown above average receiving skills and YAC [yards after catch]* *ability at the NFL level," wrote Baltimore Beatdown's Yitzi Weiss. "The Ravens would be lucky to have him, although it would put them in quite the pickle whenever Taliaferro is ready to return."
Flacco's Spot On ESPN Top 100 'Insulting'
Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco was ranked No. 87 on ESPN's Top 100 player rankings. That made him the 13th-ranked quarterback on the list behind other signal callers like Matt Ryan, Eli Manning and Cam Newton.
Hensley called the 71 voters' placing of Flacco "a little insulting."
"These quarterback ratings are as confusing as the current season of 'True Detective,'" Hensley wrote. "Flacco isn't a top-five quarterback in the NFL, but he is definitely a top-10 quarterback."
When you read the voters' write-up about Flacco, this placement is head-scratching. It points out Flacco's durability, his impressive regular-season record, his seven road playoff wins, and a "brilliant" playoff run on his way to becoming Super Bowl XLVII MVP.
Why isn't that worth more than a No. 87 spot?
In other news, the Ravens had the fourth-most players on the list, only behind the Seahawks (nine), Dallas Cowboys (six) and Green Bay Packers (six).
Cornerback Jimmy Smith didn't make the top 100, which Hensley calls the "biggest snub."
Here are the four other Ravens players ranked among the 51-100 top players, and their ESPN write-ups:
G Marshal Yanda: No. 58According to PFF, Yanda was the Jupiter in the guard solar system last season, by far the most dominant player at his position in the NFL. The tape says he might be the most dominant run-blocker in the NFL at any position. "He's a competitive, tough finisher in the run game," said one panelist. The former Iowa Hawkeye has been to four straight Pro Bowls.
OLB Terrell Suggs: No. 62As a junior at Arizona State, Suggs piled up a Tecmo Bowl-like 24 sacks, one of those goofy numbers that doesn't seem grounded in football reality. But while Suggs has never had more than 14 sacks in an NFL season, he's now at 106.5 for his career, which means the six-time Pro Bowler is inching his way into Hall of Fame conversations. And that 2012 Achilles injury? Suggs has played in every game over the past two seasons.
LB C.J. Mosley: No. 68"Odell had the fantasy numbers, but this was the NFL's best rookie last year," said one voter. Another: "Range, range, range. He's a dynamic chess piece to counter a fantasy-football-driven league." In other words, Mosley has arrived. His 129 total tackles last season paced the Ravens.
OLB Elvis Dumervil: No. 72It's been more than nine years since Dumervil fell to the fourth round of the 2006 draft after a 20-sack season at Louisville. Of course, 5-foot-11 defensive ends who don't run very fast tend to fall. But Dumervil got the last laugh, as he now has 90 sacks, and is coming off a monster 17-sack, All-Pro season. His lack of length has become an asset. "He can get under the pads of tackles and generate pressure," said a voter.
Tucker Reveals Most Difficult Kicking Stadium
Kicker Justin Tucker hasn't kicked every NFL stadium in his three years in the league, but he has yet to find a place that is more difficult than home.
"This might be a surprise, but I think our stadium, M&T Bank Stadium. I think it's the toughest stadium to kick in, in the league – at least among the stadiums I've had the opportunity to play in," Tucker told Hensley.
And yet Tucker is still the most accurate kicker in football despite playing half his games at M&T Bank Stadium. What makes it so tough?
"The wind is always swirling in there," Tucker said. "It will change directions in between kicks. It will change directions from the time that I'm running out from the sideline to the time I'm lined up to kick the ball. It can get cold out there, so sometimes it's like kicking a cinderblock. All those things considered, I think we've got such a great thing going, and we still hit a really good ball in our stadium, and we try to hit a good ball everywhere else, too."
Gamble To Use Designated To Return Tag On Urban
It would have been another easy move to put defensive end Brent Urban on injured reserve to get to the 75-man roster limit. After all, that's what the Ravens did with safety Matt Elam who also had torn biceps.
By leaving Urban, who could take 12 to 14 weeks to recover, on the roster, The Baltimore Sun's Jeff Zrebiec says it's an indication the team will give him its coveted and only spot on injured reserve with a designation to return.
The team can't assign the designation before the 53-man squad is set on Saturday, so it has a few days to decide. It's certainly a possibility that Urban will get it, but it's not a given.
"It's possible that he could be healthy enough to return by the end of October," wrote Hensley. "The Ravens are currently thin on the defensive line because of injuries, and defensive end Chris Canty and defensive tackle Timmy Jernigan have struggled to remain healthy.
"Still, it would be a gamble to use that one-time designation this early on someone unproven like Urban. If a star player like Justin Forsett gets an eight-week injury early in the season, the Ravens could have to use up a roster spot because the option of short-term IR would be gone."
Where Does Campanaro Fit In Now That He's Healthy?
Wide receiver Michael Campanaro is back from injury again, and while he didn't divulge exactly what was wrong with him, he told The Baltimore Sun's Jon Meoli it was "definitely different" from the other injuries that have plagued him in the past.
That would mean his issue was not related to the quad injury that held him out during OTAs, or the hamstring injury that forced him to miss regular-season action last year.
So now that he's healthy again (knock on wood), where does Campanaro fit in to the wide receiver battle?
"His return not only puts him back into the kick and punt return competition, which Asa Jackson currently leads by default, but into the battle for repetitions at wide receiver," Meoli wrote.
"When healthy, Campanaro is the type of underneath receiver quarterback Joe Flacco can't have enough of. … Campanaro worked his way into a No. 3 role with his work early in training camp, but with him out of action for the middle two preseason games, Marlon Brown was the first wide receiver off the bench."