Ravens Waiting for Figurs to Breakout

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Ravens wideout Yamon Figurs is still looking for that breakout game when it comes to returning kicks this year.

Last year, he became the first player in franchise history to take a kickoff and a punt back for touchdowns.

This year, even nearing the end zone has been difficult.

Figurs is averaging 21.2 yards per kickoff return, down from 24.7 yards in 2007. His 6.5-yard average on punt returns is much lower than the 10.7 yards he typically gained.

But, the Ravens are confident that the former third-round draft pick is primed for a big performance any day now.

"Hopefully now, he's over that hump, and everybody else in the units understand what they're supposed to do," said special teams coordinator Jerry Rosburg. "We're looking for big things from this point forward. We really are.

"We think we've passed that point where there's any uncertainty about what we're doing, and we think that, down the stretch, we'll see some results from Yamon."

To Rosburg, the return game is the sum of many parts. A returner must rely on his blocking up front, not to mention the different returns that are called.

Rosburg also pointed to the implementation of a new system under him and head coach John Harbaugh, who previously was a long-time special teams coordinator with the Philadelphia Eagles.

"It's a team effort when you get a return, real frankly," Rosburg said. "Part of that has been blocking. Part of that has been getting used to the new system that we run. It's different than the one he was in before. Part of it is he's been nicked up a little bit during the course of the season."

As Harbaugh noted a few weeks ago, the Ravens have many other players capable of stepping in for returns.

Safety Jim Leonhard has seen success on both kickoffs and punts, while running back Ray Rice has handled seven kickoffs for a 23.0-yard average. Even safety Ed Reed, who took a punt 63 yards for a touchdown last year, was asked to try a punt in Week 11 at New York.

Still, Rosburg affirmed Figurs, who ran the fastest 40-yard dash at the 2007 NFL Combine, will be the first man out there Sunday against the Eagles.

"He's our returner right now," said the coordinator. "We've got him back there. We do have other guys that can return the ball, and they're always looking for opportunities. It's a situation, what we call - as I've said previously - sometimes certain guys run certain returns back.

"We expect big things out of Yamon."

Another Thing From Figurs

When Harbaugh met with the media Friday, he was sporting a slight bump on his right cheek, which stemmed from a head-butt from Figurs during practice.

The run-in occurred during a portion that was closed to the media, but according to Figurs, it came when the wideout was running a simple route during a red zone drill.

Figurs said that quarterback Joe Flacco led him with the ball, and as he turned to locate the pass, he collided with the coach, who stepped in as a sub in the defensive backfield.

"I was running a blind route," Figurs explained with a laugh. "Joe put the ball there before I even turned around, so when I came out of the route, I was looking for the ball and he was coming right at me. I couldn't believe it."

"I set up a coverage, and I got stuck on a certain route between the safety and the wide receiver and couldn't get out of the way, basically, for that split second," the coach offered.

Harbaugh joked that he would be listed on the injury report for Sunday's game as a full participant in practice and would be available to coach.

"Play with pain, coach with pain," he said to laughter.

Injury Update

Despite not practicing all week, left tackle Jared Gaither (shoulder) was listed as questionable for this weekend, which means he has a 50 percent chance of suiting up.

Wideout Terrance Copper (neck) is the only Raven officially ruled out.

Joining Gaither as questionable is offensive tackle Willie Anderson (ankle), defensive tackle Lamar Divens (shoulder), offensive lineman David Hale (thigh), wideout Derrick Mason (shoulder), safety Ed Reed (neck) and cornerback Samari Rolle (shoulder).

Notable

Harbaugh wondered aloud if a team could have a bad week of practice and still play well on Sunday. "You say you'll play like you practice, and I think you do, over time. Is that to say it's 100 percent? You can have a bad week of practice and a good game. We've seen it happen. But we've had good practices multiple weeks in a row here now, so that's why we feel like we're developing as a football team." … The coaches can tell many players are happy to be back at M&T Bank Stadium for the first time in three weeks. "Our guys are excited to play at home, and they're excited to have the home fans here," Harbaugh stated. "I'm sure the fans will be excited to cheer on the Ravens." … Baltimore's 89.5 percent success rate on third-and-1 conversions (17-of-19) ranked second in the NFL.

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