Ravens running back Alex Collins (knee) missed practice Thursday after being limited in practice Wednesday, throwing into question his availability for Sunday's game in Cleveland.
Collins has made 15 consecutive starts and has been the team’s rushing leader this season with 158 yards. However, Collins has averaged just 3.5 yards per carry, compared to 4.6 yards per carry in 2017.
Collins has also fumbled twice in four games, but Head Coach John Harbaugh and Offensive Coordinator Marty Mornhinweg have expressed confidence that Collins would eliminate his fumbling issues.
Mornhinweg said Running Backs Coach Thomas Hammock has been doing detailed work with Collins.
“You get what you emphasize, and Thomas is one of the very best at teaching ball security,” Mornhinweg said. “I’m just telling you, he’s great at it. You get what you emphasize, so we’ll re-emphasize it. It’s emphasized daily at all positions. I know this: Alex will get it fixed. He’s had two in four games. He’ll get it fixed. There’s no question about it.”
Javorius Allen has played well behind Collins with three rushing touchdowns and one receiving touchdown, but he’s averaged just 2.4 yards per carry. Rookie running back De’Lance Turner got his first carry and made his first catch Sunday in Pittsburgh. Allen and Turner could be in line for more snaps against the Cleveland Browns on Sunday if Collins does not play.
Three other players missed Thursday’s practice with hamstring injuries– cornerback Anthony Averett, linebacker Za’Darius Smith and linebacker Tim Williams.
Five Ravens who did not practice Wednesday returned Thursday – wide receivers John Brown and Michael Crabtree, defensive backs Brandon Carr and Eric Weddle, and right guard Marshal Yanda.
Rookie tight end Hayden Hurst (foot) was limited Thursday, along with defensive tackle Willie Henry (abdomen), linebacker/defensive back Anthony Levine Sr. (hamstring) and linebacker Chris Board (concussion). Hurst has been limited both days so far this week.
Ravens Offense Showing More Balance, More Production
The Ravens are the only NFL team to have six players with at least 100 yards receiving with John Brown (338 yards), Willie Snead IV (198), Crabtree (184), Mark Andrews (119), Maxx Williams (119), and Nick Boyle (104).
That speaks to the Ravens’ offensive balance, which has made them so versatile all over the field, and especially tough in the red zone.
Quarterback Joe Flacco talks talked about the confidence he has throwing to every target on the roster. Even young players like Turner and wide receiver Tim White, who made his first career catch in Pittsburgh, are getting into the act. Eleven different Ravens caught at least one pass against the Steelers. The offensive versatility makes the Ravens tougher to defend than in recent years.
“We’re unafraid to play any of our players at any point,” Mornhinweg said. “[We have] great trust in the players’ capabilities, and we’re deep. We have a little bit more depth than we’ve had, certainly, in the past couple years.”
Only three teams have averaged at least 300 yards passing and at least 30 points per game this season – the Ravens, Rams, and Saints.
“I know going into every situation that no matter where the ball ends up, it’s going to be a guy that I want to throw the ball to,” Flacco said Wednesday.
C.J. Mosley and Eric Weddle Give Ravens Two Options to Call Defensive Signals
Defensive Coordinator Wink Martindale said the team had not decided if Weddle or inside linebacker C.J. Mosley would relay defensive signals Sunday in Cleveland.
Mosley has done it for several seasons, but Weddle took over that responsibility after Mosley’s knee injury in Week 2 and has done a good job. Mosley returned to the lineup in Week 4, but Weddle remained the signal caller.
“It worked out well last Sunday night because Eric didn’t have to say as much,” Martindale said. “He basically gave C.J. the call, then Eric’s talking to the secondary and C.J.’s talking to the front. We really haven’t decided how we’re going to do it. I know that John [Harbaugh] said in his press conference that we didn’t know how long C.J. was going to last with that knee. It’s really not 100 percent yet, so I don’t know yet which way we’re going to go with that.”
The Ravens are the only NFL team that has not allowed a second-half touchdown. That gives Martindale reason to believe that the defense will adjust well, regardless of who relays the signals.
Martindale Compares Baker Mayfield to Hall of Fame Quarterbacks Brett Favre and John Elway
Coaches often speak glowingly about the next week’s opponent. Martindale did not hold back when asked what he has seen on film this week preparing for Browns rookie quarterback and top-overall pick Baker Mayfield.
“I think Baker Mayfield is this generation’s Brett Favre or John Elway, if you will,” Martindale said. “This guy knows where he wants to go with the ball, and he’s very accurate, has a quick release. He’s really playing well. It seems like they have more rhythm with him as a rookie, every play he’s in there.”
Mayfield has played in just two games and started one. He came off the bench to beat the New York Jets in Week 3. He completed 21 of 41 passes for 295 yards, two touchdowns and two interceptions (and lost two fumbles) in an overtime loss in Oakland in his first NFL start.
Mayfield’s confidence for a rookie quarterback may be the thing impresses the Ravens most. They are preparing to beat him, but they are not sure they can rattle or confuse him.
“Obviously, you’re talking about two Hall of Famers (Favre and Elway) when you say that,” Martindale said. “But the kid’s confidence and swag – if you will, nowadays, right? When he comes out there, he thinks he’s standing on top of a mountain, and he’s making plays to show that he’s standing on top of the mountain. He can throw the ball in tight windows, and he’s not afraid to do it. That’s the biggest thing that I see on the kid.”