Veteran defensive end Derek Wolfe is expected back in the lineup Sunday when the Ravens host the Cincinnati Bengals. He expected to play last week against Washington, but was held out the lineup for precautionary reasons when it was suspected he might have the coronavirus.
Wolfe never tested positive, but neither he nor his wife were feeling well last weekend.
"Wolfe got flagged for symptoms," Head Coach John Harbaugh said. "His wife had been traveling, and they both got sick, so our docs held him out and away from the team. He didn't have COVID-19, but they held him out for symptoms. That's what happened on that one. He's good to go."
Several teams have had multiple players test positive for the coronavirus, most notably the Tennessee Titans, who have had been hit hard. The Ravens decided that being cautious with Wolfe during these times was the prudent thing to do.
"It was Saturday when he had the symptoms, before the Washington game," Harbaugh said. "Nobody really thought that it was COVID-19 related. It was just an abundance of precaution, I would say. I respect our doctors for doing that. That's what we need to do. There are going to be times this year when guys are just going to be kind of a little sick. He continued to pass tests the whole time, and still has. But sometimes you're just going to have to say, 'Hey, we're just going to have to play it safe here,' and that's what we did."
Geno Atkins Expected Back for Bengals
Veteran defensive tackle Geno Atkins has made the Pro Bowl eight times for the Cincinnati Bengals, but he has not played this season due to a shoulder injury.
However, Atkins was a full participant in Friday's practice and is expected to make his 2020 debut on Sunday, Bengals Head Coach Zac Taylor told reporters Friday. Harbaugh expects Atkins, a player that retired Ravens guard Marshal Yanda cited as one of his toughest opponents, to make an immediate impact.
"Geno is a premier defensive tackle," Harbaugh said. "Has been in that system for many, many years. They play the same basic system that they've played for years and years in terms of their front. And he's unique. So, it's a big factor."
Starting Has Not Made DeShon Elliott Complacent
Through his first four games as a starting safety, DeShon Elliott has been an aggressive hitter in the secondary and has played with confidence. However, he believes that the more experience he gets, the better he'll perform.
"I'm pushing myself to be the best I can be," Elliott said. "I'm very hard on myself, so I feel like every week I'm not doing enough [and] I'm not doing enough for this team. So, hopefully, eventually my hard work will pay off. We've only played four games – it's a long season. Those first four games are basically like the preseason, and I haven't played football in a long time. I'm starting to find myself a little bit. As this year goes on, I'm sure I'll play better and better, but it's coming along."
Defensive Coordinator Wink Martindale has been pleased with Elliott's progress and the chemistry he has built with fellow starting safety Chuck Clark.
"Everybody can see, when he has somebody lined up, he'll hit him, and he did that again last Sunday in Washington," Martindale said. "And with him not having that much actual game experience, every game you're going to see him grow, as well, and the game will continue to slow down for him. The communication on the back end has been excellent between he and Chuck."
Harbaugh Knows Bengals-Ravens Usually Have Dogfights
The Ravens have a three-game winning streak against Cincinnati, but Baltimore has just a 25-23 edge in the all-time series. The two teams have had memorable battles, and with the Bengals seemingly rebuilding quickly with Joe Burrow at quarterback under Taylor, the Ravens-Bengals matchups should be hotly contested during the coming years.
"They've had some really good teams," Harbaugh said. "And even a year or two when they didn't have good teams, they've found a way to beat us. Sometimes it was A.J. Green. It was with Tyler Boyd three years ago, right? Who could forget that?
"It's a great rivalry. They always have a lot of talent. We have great respect for the Bengals for the way they play, for the talent that they have, for the way they're coached. I think they're doing a great job there as a coaching staff. I think Coach Zac [Taylor] is doing a really good job."