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News & Notes: Ravens Should Be at Full Strength After Bye


There's never a bad time for the bye, but the Ravens are optimistic that several key players will return from injuries following this week's break.

Head Coach John Harbaugh expects wide receiver Marquise Brown (ankle), inside linebacker Patrick Onwuasor (ankle), and cornerback Jimmy Smith (knee) to be back Week 9 when the Ravens host the New England Patriots. Brown and Onwuasor have missed the last two games, while Smith has been sidelined since being injured in the season-opener.

"We feel very confident we should have all those guys back, baring a setback," Harbaugh said. "Very optimistic that we'll be at full strength coming out of the bye."

The Ravens (5-2) are on a three-game winning streak and a healthier roster will give them more depth and versatility. Brown is the team's most explosive deep threat, Onwuasor is Baltimore's leading tackler and Smith is a top cover corner. Smith will join newly-acquired cornerback Marcus Peters, Marlon Humphrey and Brandon Carr to give the Ravens one of the NFL's most talented cornerback rotations.  

Harbaugh decided the Ravens won't practice this week, giving players time to heal before they return and get ready for the Patriots.

"We're going to give the guys a lot of time off this week," Harbaugh said. "As a coach you have to make that determination. I just don't feel like any practice this week is going to improve us more than rest is going to improve us, both physical rest and spiritual rest, emotional rest."

L.J. Fort Continues to Impress at Inside Linebacker

Signed as a free agent on Sept. 30, L.J. Fort has been a steadying presence at inside linebacker.

Fort played 56 snaps Sunday against the Seahawks, more than twice as many as the previous week, and finished with five tackles, including a the Ravens' lone sack of quarterback Russell Wilson. You don't often see linebackers bring down Wilson one-on-one in the open field, but Fort did it on Sunday and prevented Wilson from potentially making a big play.

"He's a really good player," Harbaugh said. "We played against him at Pittsburgh and we respected him there. I would say better though than I expected. As a linebacker he played 55, 56 defensive snaps and he played all four phases of special teams. And loved every minute of it. Wow, that's great shape and that's a football player who played well. We put Patrick back in there with those two guys (Fort and Josh Bynes) we have a three-man rotation and I think that really strengthens us."

Knowledge is Key to Marcus Peters' Knack for Interceptions

The 67-yard pick-six by Marcus Peters in his Ravens debut was an example why he leads the NFL with 25 interceptions since 2015.

Peters has tremendous anticipation and quickness, but he's also dedicated to film study. Having faced Seattle earlier this season when he played for the Los Angeles Rams, Peters recognized the play Seattle ran and put himself in prime position. When Wilson threw the pass, Peters knew what was coming and his closing speed allowed him to create the turnover. Peters also showed terrific stamina by playing 65 snaps in his first game as a Raven.

"Normally you drive up and tackle it, and that would be good," Harbaugh said. "Russ' eyes weren't really where they needed to be, they were somewhere else. I don't think Russ saw him (Peters). He's so quick. He really covers ground zero to 60 very fast. That helps.

"He played great, he's a really good player. He's really smart, he really wants to incorporate himself into the defense in a big way. First thing he said when I talked to him was, 'Coach, coach me. I want to be coached. I want to be taught.' That's music to your ears as a coach."

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