The Ravens will miss DeShon Elliott, but have a plan to move on without him.
Elliott became the latest Raven to be lost for the season after suffering a torn pectoral/biceps in Sunday's victory over the Minnesota Vikings. It was the third season-ending injury of Elliott's four-year career, another tough break for a young player who has played well since assuming a starting role in 2020.
Third-round rookie Brandon Stephens is likely to see his playing time increase, and he played a season-high 69 snaps in Week 5 against the Indianapolis Colts when Elliott was out with a quad injury. But Head Coach John Harbaugh also mentioned Jimmy Smith, Geno Stone, Anthony Levine Sr. and practice squad player Jordan Richards as players who may share the load at safety next to Chuck Clark.
Stephens has been a fast learner and has played in every game as a rookie, and Harbaugh has no doubt he can handle more responsibility.
"I think he's going to be very prepared and he has to be," Harbaugh said. "He's going to be stepping into that bigger role, and it won't be just him. Other guys will be part of that, too. All those guys will be taking parts of that process. It will be a group effort."
Defensive end Calais Campbell said Elliott's fiery personality and versatility will be missed, as he's one of the most vocal players on defense.
"It seems like we're always dealing with something," Campbell said. "He's one of those guys who brings a lot of passion, a lot of energy to the defense. He plays the game the way you want your safety to play the game. He has a lot of heart, big heart. He's a guy who can do a lot of stuff, from coverage and in the box and tackling and just being a playmaker. That's going to definitely be something that we feel. But we have guys in this building that we believe in. They're going to have to step up and make plays. It's just another opportunity for somebody to step in and earn the right to be a Raven, get on the field and help us win ballgames."
Jimmy Smith Playing Just One Snap Was An Anomaly
Smith almost had the day off Sunday, playing just one defensive snap despite being healthy. It was the fewest snaps he's seen in a game since his rookie season in 2011.
Harbaugh said it was strictly a result of matchups. The Ravens often use Smith to defend tight ends and big-bodied receivers, but the Vikings didn't have that kind of matchup with Justin Jefferson and Adam Thielen as the main passing game targets. The Ravens went with packages that didn't include Smith on Sunday, as Marlon Humphrey and Clark played every defensive snap, while Anthony Averett played all but five defensive snaps.
Expect Smith to play more against the Miami Dolphins on Thursday night, as Defensive Coordinator Wink Martindale prepares for tight end Mike Gesicki, who leads the team in receiving yards (44 catches, 529 yards, two touchdowns).
"I always expect him to play more than that," Harbaugh said. "I think it just kind of worked out that way with the personnel groups that we ended up calling, based on what they were putting on the field. That would be a good question for Wink when he comes up here. We always plan on him playing more than that. We'll see where it goes."
Ravens Prepare to Face Either Tua Tagovailoa or Jacoby Brissett
The Ravens don't know which quarterback they will face Thursday, so they are preparing for both Tua Tagovailoa and Jacoby Brissett. Tagovailoa missed Sunday's game against the Houston Texans with a fractured finger, and Brissett completed 26 of 43 passes for 244 yards, a touchdown and two interceptions in Miami's 17-9 win. Tagovailoa was listed as a limited participant in the Dolphins' walkthrough on Monday.
Tagovailoa is the most mobile of Miami's quarterbacks, but his play has been inconsistent and Brissett has more experience.
"We just don't know so we'll prepare for their offense," Harbaugh said. "It's a little different variation with the two quarterbacks. They emphasize different types of plays more with one more than the other."
Offense Faces Short Turnaround After Exhausting Game
A short week after an overtime game will be particularly challenging for many of the Ravens' offensive players. Baltimore had a season-high 98 offensive snaps, and Lamar Jackson played every one of them, along with the starting offensive line of Alejandro Villaneuva, Ben Powers, Bradley Bozeman, Kevin Zeitler and Tyre Phillips. Wide receiver Marquise Brown played 80 snaps, while tight end Mark Andrews wasn't far behind with 77.
Harbaugh said he did not ignore the players' fatigue on Monday.
"We had chairs out for the early walkthrough," Harbaugh said, smiling. "Guys were sitting behind the early walkthrough. We normally make them stand. That was our one concession today."
Campbell said the Ravens wouldn't make excuses, even though playing a road game on a short week after an overtime game is not ideal.
"It's tough, but that's the nature of the business," Campbell said. "We know we're going to have to do it. You prepare for it. Just go through the whole process and try to be at our best on a short week, take care of our bodies. You definitely wish the offense didn't have to do that many plays going into a short week. But I'm confident in my guys, I think we're going to be well-prepared. We're going to do everything that we need to take care of our bodies.