Ravens Confident They Can Overcome Losses


Through the first three weeks of the season, the Ravens have had to deal with off-field troubles.

Now another hurdle is in front of them.

Not only do they not have running back Ray Rice. They also will be without tight end Dennis Pitta for the remainder of the season and left tackle Eugene Monroe for multiple games.

Pitta and Monroe signed lucrative contract extensions in the offseason. Rice was expected to have a big bounce-back year after returning from an original two-game suspension.

Suddenly, the Ravens offense looks a lot different than it did in training camp, when there were sky-high expectations and a bounty of weapons.

"How we adjust to those things, how our depth works out, will probably have a lot to do with our success," Offensive Coordinator Gary Kubiak said.

Kubiak's players are confident.

"I don't think you're going to see much of a drop-off at all in terms of production," tight end Owen Daniels said.

"The thing I noticed right away when I came in here was the kind of depth that we had at all positions. We have tremendous depth. We have tons of playmakers. This just gives guys the opportunity to grow up a little faster."

Rice has already been adequately replaced in the backfield, where the Ravens have consistently churned out yardage no matter who has carried the ball. Justin Forsett, Bernard Pierce and Lorenzo Taliaferro have each had a big game versus Cincinnati, Pittsburgh and Cleveland, respectively.

When it comes to filling in for Pitta, the Ravens have a few different options. Daniels will take over more of those duties, but it will also fall to second-year fullback Kyle Juszczyk and even partly on wide receivers Jacoby Jones and Marlon Brown, who haven't had much production yet.

"They're not going to necessarily make up and have to play any extra, but they're going to pull their weight," quarterback Joe Flacco said.

"I think we have a lot of guys. Good offenses aren't made up of one guy here and one guy there. They are made up of a collection of guys that play physical, play fast and can do a lot of things. And I think we have that."

Kubiak said his oft-used two-tight end formations won't be impacted by the Pitta injury. He'll plug rookie third-round pick Crockett Gillmore in, and the Ravens also brought up Phillip Supernaw from the practice squad. Still, not having Pitta does create depth concern.

"It does make you stop in some of your preparation," Kubiak said. "What happens in the game if this guy goes down? Now what do I go to? What personnel [groups] do I want to be in?"

The biggest challenge – for the shortest amount of time – may come in replacing Monroe over the next few weeks. Left tackle is a critically important position on the offensive line, and right now an undrafted rookie, James Hurst, is next on the depth chart.

Hurst said he feels confident because of the structure around him, with coaching and his teammates. And his teammates feel the same way in him.

"I feel like the young guys have been really prepared," left guard Kelechi Osemele said.

"You know how sometimes there are young guys on the team that don't ever expect to play? I feel like [Head Coach John] Harbaugh does a good job of getting the young guys ready."

Harbaugh's tough practices will come in handy. Throughout the early parts of the summer and training camp, he implemented "double downs." During those periods, the team would split into smaller groups to give more players more snaps.

"Hurst has gotten a significant amount of reps," Osemele said. "We've already laid down the foundation, and that's why nobody is really too concerned."

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