News & Notes: Anthony Averett's Injury Not Long-Term, Was 'Hopeful' on Marquise Brown

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Left: CB Anthony Averett; Right: WR Marquise Brown

Head Coach John Harbaugh gave updates Monday on several injured players.

Anthony Averett's groin injury is not considered long-term, and the Ravens would love to have him back for their key AFC North game against the Cleveland Browns on Sunday Night Football. Averett is having his best season, playing as a starter for the first time after the season-ending injury to Marcus Peters.

"Do not expect him to be out long," Harbaugh said. "It's not a serious hamstring, quote-unquote injury. I thought he would play in the game, got to the game, went out there and tested it, and just didn't feel like he could go."

With Jimmy Smith (hip) also out Sunday, the Ravens had just three healthy cornerbacks – Marlon Humphrey, Tavon Young and Chris Westry, and Young was coming off a foot injury in Miami.

Top wide receiver Marquise "Hollywood" Brown (thigh) was downgraded to out on Saturday, after being listed as questionable the day before. Harbaugh said he was "hopeful" Brown would play against the Bears until it became obvious he couldn't.

"You're hopeful, and he didn't make it," Harbaugh said.

It was the first game Brown missed this season, but the Ravens will hope he makes more progress this week.

Harbaugh said outside linebacker Pernell McPhee, who will miss at least two more games on injured reserve, is expected to return this season following a knee procedure.

"He should be able to come back this season. It's kind of a clean-up scope," Harbaugh said. "So it's short-term IR."

Harbaugh Explains Thought Behind Cover-Zero Blitz on Bears*'* Final Touchdown

Harbaugh knows some Ravens fans were questioning why the Ravens went with a Cover-Zero blitz against the Bears on 4th-and-11. Andy Dalton burned them with a 49-yard touchdown pass to Marquise Goodwin that put Chicago ahead, 13-9, with 1:41 left to play.

The time on the clock factored into the Ravens' decision to gamble with an all-out blitz. Even after Goodwin scored, the Ravens still had time to respond with a game-winning drive engineered by Tyler Huntley.

Had the Ravens played more conservatively and allowed a first down, the Bears would have milked more time off the clock. Then, if Chicago ultimately kicked a go-ahead field goal or scored a touchdown with under a minute left to play, the Ravens may have been cooked. The Bears scoring quickly gave Baltimore more time for its final drive.

"Sometimes a quick outcome is OK either way," Harbaugh said. "Sometimes, a quick death is better, because you're not dead yet. We weren't dead yet after that play, which was the good news."  

In their preparation for the game, Harbaugh and Defensive Coordinator Wink Martindale decided that blitzing in that situation was their best play. Harbaugh reminded reporters that in a similar situation against Dalton in 2017 when he played for the Bengals. The Ravens decided not to blitz and played a more conservative Cover 2 defense. Dalton responded by finding Tyler Boyd for a 49-yard touchdown pass on 4th-and-12 that won the game for Cincinnati in Week 17 and kept the Ravens out of the playoffs.

The Ravens tried a more aggressive approach this time, and Harbaugh stuck by that decision in hindsight.

"(Cover) Zero was our call in those very situations in the game plan," Harbaugh said. "Wink stuck with the game plan. A number of them worked. That one easily could have worked. We were a little bit late with one of our blitzes and a little too aggressive at the sticks with Chris. And they made a play. They got it, but our guys overcame it."

Harbaugh Believes Westry Will Grow Stronger From Sunday

An NFL cornerback must be mentally strong, because even the best give up big plays sometimes. Sunday was a hard lesson for Westry, who was making his first career start.

The decision to call an all-out blitz on Chicago's last touchdown left Westry in one-on-one coverage, and the young cornerback was victimized by Goodwin's double-move that allowed him to break wide open.

Harbaugh said Westry was still down in the locker room even after the Ravens came back to win.

"He was very upset about giving up the play," Harbaugh said. "There was some consoling going on even after the game with the win in the locker room."

However, Harbaugh is confident Westry will continue to play with confidence. He was a longshot to make the team in training camp, but his rangy 6-foot-4 frame and ability to plaster receivers stood out immediately, earning him a spot on the team. Westry played a season-high 56 snaps Sunday and held up well aside from Goodwin's touchdown.

"He had so many good plays in the game," Harbaugh said. "He's a young player. Playing corner's all about technique, talent and discipline. You've got to be locked in every play; it's a tough job. Those are the things he's really going to learn from in the best kind of way, because he's very conscientious.

"On that very particular play you want to play the sticks, but you want to give a little ground when the receiver's moving North on you. He got a little heavy at the sticks because he was thinking about stopping the first down. His eyes were better than I thought, when I saw the tape. But he lost vision late on the receiver and obviously got behind him. I just think he's a great young man. He really works hard. Very talented. Really wants to be good. He's going to be fine."

Nick Boyle Has Strong Season Debut

In his first game since his season-ending knee injury in 2020, Nick Boyle played 32 snaps, blocked well, and reestablished himself as a presence in the tight end rotation. Boyle had a long road back from an injury that required two surgeries, but his presence will be a lift to Baltimore's offense with seven games left in the season.

"It's great to see him back," Harbaugh said. "What he's been through, he can explain it to you so much better, but I've seen him in here every day, through all the frustration and the agony and range of motion. He played well. He's only going to get better. The game moves fast. He's only going to get better and better as he gets more comfortable on that knee."

With Boyle back, the Ravens can use a more unique package with Boyle, Pat Ricard and Mark Andrews.

"I hope that it becomes a monster people have to contend with," Harbaugh said.

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