Ravens See Practices Without Eight Defensive Players as an Opportunity

HC John Harbaugh

The Ravens pride themselves on making every practice count, and that won't change despite this week's unusual circumstances.

After cornerback Marlon Humphrey tested positive for coronavirus, seven more Ravens were placed on the Reserve/COVID-19 list Tuesday – outside linebackers Matthew Judon and Tyus Bowser, inside linebackers Patrick Queen, L.J. Fort and Malik Harrison, safety DeShon Elliott and cornerback Terrell Bonds.

Head Coach John Harbaugh said the Ravens wouldn't change their approach to practice, or what they expect from each session. Baltimore (5-2) is determined to bounce back from Sunday's loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers and getting the most out of each practice.

"It really won't be any different at all," Harbaugh said. "The same number of reps, same process. We'll just move guys around to different spots. Create some opportunities for a few younger guys and then also the way we organize our defense for some guys to play some different spots. You look at it as an opportunity to create versatility within your defense."

Several young players could see more practice reps this week, such as cornerback Khalil Dorsey and several practice squad players, including inside linebacker Kristian Welch and safeties Nigel Warrior and Geno Stone. Chris Board is the team's only true inside linebacker currently on the active 53-man roster.

The Ravens' cornerback depth has been tested with the loss of cornerbacks Tavon Young, Iman Marshall and Anthony Averett to injuries, and now this week's uncertainty has added another wrinkle. But the Ravens say they remain focused and unfazed. In 2020, it's best to expect the unexpected.

"I don't think it's a challenge, honestly," safety Chuck Clark said. "From the outside looking in, it might seem as if it's a challenge, but here in this sport – any sport – it's the next man up type of thing. So, it's honestly an opportunity for younger guys and other guys. The communication is all the same. We've been doing that, working on that in weeks prior, too, just in case something like this were to happen, because that's just what this 2020 season is. We know that any given week, you could be down a key player or key players."

Clark says he doesn't think the team's preparation would be hampered by the circumstances. The Ravens are self-motivated group, a reason they have won 19 of their last 23 regular season games.

"I can't speak for anybody else but myself," Clark said. "But I would say for me, if I wasn't able to practice, I'd do everything I could as far as doing the learning part and the off-field stuff just to make sure that I'm able to get out there and be ready.

"The year is just different. I've been through worse things. Honestly, I feel like our organization is doing things around here so [that] things flow smoothly. The only thing that you can tell is that we are missing a few guys in meetings right now. We've had rough patches around here before – worse than this. It's just, you look at the dynamic of the whole year and things are different – period. But no, we're tough here, we're overcomers, and we fight through adversity."

Harbaugh said he expected any player that missed practice this week to be ready Sunday if active and called upon. However, each player reacts differently to missing practice time.

"You see guys sometimes they don't practice all week and then they come out and they play the best game of their careers," Harbaugh said. "Other guys might miss something. They'll be in all the meetings. They'll be expected to work out virtually. We'll make the best of it."

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