Smith Ruled Out For Second Straight Week
As Ravens fans feared, Baltimore will be without top cornerback Jimmy Smith for Sunday's huge game against the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Smith will miss his second straight game since injuring his ankle against the New England Patriots. While there's been no definitive health update or timetable for his return, Smith hasn't practiced since.
The Ravens secondary has been preparing all week under the premise that it wouldn't have Smith, so it has a game plan for containing the Steelers' dangerous pass-catching threats, such as wide receiver Antonio Brown, without Smith.
There's no denying that Baltimore is better suited to handle the Steelers with Smith.
Since 2013, Steelers quarterback Ben Roethisberger has thrown four touchdowns to four interceptions against the Ravens when Smith has been in the game. In the one game Smith missed, Roethlisberger threw for 340 yards and six touchdowns.
The Ravens will again turn to Shareece Wright to take Smith's place opposite rookie fourth-round pick Tavon Young.
Wright played well last week in Smith's place against the Philadelphia Eagles. According to Pro Football Focus, he surrendered just two catches on five targets for a total of 5 yards. He had knocked away a pass in back-to-back weeks.
"I think Shareece has picked up his game," Defensive Coordinator Dean Pees said. "I think people were down on him and hard on him. We were hard on him, and he was hard on himself. I think the sign of a pro is when you fight back and you play well and you come back and you play well."
Smith Sr. Returns To Full Practice Friday
Ravens wide receiver Steve Smith Sr. was strangely added to the injury report on Thursday with a thigh issue, which limited him in practice.
Smith came back on Friday as a full practice participant and is listed as questionable to play.
It would be very surprising if Smith sat out against the rival Steelers and personal nemesis, and former teammate, safety Mike Mitchell.
The Ravens had just four other players on the injury report. Rookie linebacker Kamalei Correa (ribs) has been ruled out. Defensive back/linebacker Anthony Levine (toe), rookie guard Alex Lewis (ankle) and defensive end Brent Urban (illness) are all questionable.
Reserve tight end Crockett Gillmore (thigh) was removed from the injury report this week.
Roethlisberger May Be Without Two Targets
The Ravens won't have Jimmy Smith, but Roethlisberger may be without two of his dangerous targets.
Wide receiver Sammie Coates injured his hamstring in Thursday's practice and did not participate Friday. He's listed as doubtful to play. Coates is the Steelers' No. 2 wide receiver and has 49 catches for 435 yards and two touchdowns this season.
Tight end Lardarius Green has not practiced all week because of a concussion and is also listed as doubtful. Green has the most receiving yards of any Steelers tight end (304) and had become an especially popular target in the past three weeks (13 catches, 207 yards, one touchdown).
Brown is still the Steelers' most dangerous receiver, and Pittsburgh running back Le'Veon Bell is second on the team in receptions (72), targets (90) and yards (601). But it means Pittsburgh will have to rely more on wide receiver Eli Rogers (55 catches, 449 yards, three touchdowns).
The Steelers could also get wide receiver Darrius Heyward-Bey back. Heyward-Bey has missed the past six games with a foot injury, but practiced this week and is listed as questionable. Heward-Bey would offset some of the loss in speed with Coates going down.
Starting Steelers defensive end Stephon Tuitt (knee) didn't practice all week but is listed as questionable to play. Backup linebacker Anthony Chickillo (ankle) and defensive end Ricard Matthews (ankle) are also questionable. Reserve safety and special teamer Shamarko Thomas (concussion) has been ruled out.