News & Notes: Several Injured Ravens 'Have a Chance' to Return vs. Vikings

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Left: WR Sammy Watkins; Center: RB Latavius Murray; Right: TE Nick Boyle

The bye week gave injured Ravens some extra time to heal, and several players hope to return for Sunday's game against the Minnesota Vikings.

Head Coach John Harbaugh said wide receiver Sammy Watkins (hamstring), running back Latavius Murray (ankle) and tight end Nick Boyle (knee) all "have a chance" to return against Minnesota. Defensive lineman Derek Wolfe (back) could also return after resuming practice last week.

Watkins has missed the last three games, Murray missed the Week 7 loss against the Cincinnati Bengals, while Boyle has been out all season.

"They all have a chance," Harbaugh said. "Whether they make it or not is up in the air."

Murray leads the running backs in yards (212) despite missing the Bengals game, and Boyle is perhaps the NFL's best blocking tight end who has improved every year as a receiver.

Rookie wide receiver Rashod Bateman has quickly asserted himself (seven catches, 109 yards) in his first two games since returning from groin surgery, but Bateman and Watkins have yet to play together, joining Lamar Jackson's leading targets Marquise "Hollywood" Brown and Mark Andrews.

Harbaugh would love to see all of those players in action at the same time during the season half of the season.

"I feel like we have weapons," Harbaugh said. "We're going to add a couple of guys with Sammy coming back, Nick's going to be back at some point, Latavius will be back. I'm excited about where our offense can go; I just want to get it there."

In other injury news, the Vikings will be without pass rusher Danielle Hunter after he suffered a torn pectoral injury Sunday against the Dallas Cowboys. Hunter already had six sacks and 10 quarterback hits this season.

Ravens Prepare to Face Vikings/Dolphins in Short Timeframe

Coaches talk about taking one game at a time, but the schedule forces them to plan ahead.

The Ravens will have a short week after they face the Vikings, with a just a few days before they visit the Miami Dolphins on Thursday Night Football (Nov. 11). During the bye week, Baltimore's coaches studied tape on both the Vikings and Dolphins, knowing they will be playing two games within a short timeframe.

"We play two games in five days," Harbaugh said. "We've been looking at Minnesota and Miami. That's what we've been doing for the last week."

The bye gave Harbaugh and the staff a chance to sit back and watch the Vikings lose to the Dallas Cowboys on Sunday Night Football. It wasn't a waste of time, but coaches learn more from studying videotape they will break down and watch repeatedly.

"You watch it more as a fan (on TV)," Harbaugh said. "It's a lot different watching the coaching tape up here today. I think most coaches would say this, we watch a lot of football, but not on TV. It's just a completely different experience. On TV I don't really learn that much. I just enjoy it more."

Harbaugh Feels Self-Scouting During Bye Will Be Beneficial

Teams hit the pause button during bye week and spend time studying themselves. Are there personnel changes that need to be made? Are we becoming too predictable? Do we need to add something to the playbook, or is there a need to simplify anything?

Harbaugh said the staff put the team under the microscope and believes the process will be beneficial.

"Very deep dive on ourselves and everything about us," Harbaugh said. "We've learned a lot, I think it confirmed more of what you kind of already understood. But it's always good to get the numbers and make some decisions going forward in terms of what gives you the best chance to play as well as you can. We'll have a plan coming out of that and hopefully it will be successful."

The emphasis on becoming a better tackling team will continue.

"We have to because we have to get better," Harbaugh said. "We've actually prioritize it all the time. But we've got to keep coaching it. We've got to coach it better. From understanding our responsibilities and doing our job to the technique of tackling to the angles of our secondary to the fits of our linebackers. Just getting guys on the ground. There's a lot to it and we'll be working on all those things.

"You have to be fundamentally great. If you're not fundamentally great, you have no chance. It starts with that. If we want to be a good football team, we've got to be great at the little things. We've got to keep chasing that."

Ja'Wuan James Could Be Ready By December

With all of their injuries along the offensive line, the Ravens would welcome more depth, especially at tackle. Ja'Wuan James may be able to help at some point if he continues to progress.

The Ravens signed James in mid-June after he was released by the Denver Broncos. James has been on injured reserve all season after tearing his Achilles while training in May, but Harbaugh did not rule out James being able to see action as early as December.

"It's still the same timeframe," Harbaugh said. "He would have a chance in December, probably I guess. No setbacks, he looks good. He's in the meetings. He's got great spirits, he's been running straight ahead. It's November already. Time flies."

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