Terrell Suggs Funny About Injury, But Week 10 Game Is Serious

Posted on November 08, 2013 by Joe Platania

SUPER BOWL VOICES IN THE BOOTH; TITLE ODDS NOW 100-1

OWINGS MILLS -- In addition to having pass-rushing skills, linebacker Terrell Suggs is perhaps the Ravens' most entertaining personality.

Knowing full well that the media would comment about his absence from the Nov. 7 practice with a foot injury, Suggs strolled out to the Under Armour Performance Center practice field, spied the onlooking media crowd and -- instead of breaking out in song as he usually does -- started walking with a fake limp.

But, considering the serious stakes at play for this weekend's game against the Cincinnati Bengals (1 p.m. Nov. 10; WJZ-TV, WIYY-FM), it would serve any injured players well to limp, crawl and -- if necessary -- drag themselves out to the field to at least show that they're ready for a game that could either jump-start or, for all intents and purposes, kill off the team's hopes for a sixth straight postseason berth.

Currently, the Ravens are in 12th place in the AFC, 1.5 games behind the sixth position and the final playoff spot, currently held by the New York Jets.

The game against the Bengals will mark the Ravens' second home game since Sept. 22.

"It's going to be great to play at home," head coach John Harbaugh said. "We have an opportunity to make the second game out [in Cincinnati on Dec. 29] meaningful."

Doing whatever they could to get on the field is what most of the Ravens did during an outdoor Nov. 8 practice session, held in windy conditions and in sweatpants and shells.

Four players who did not practice during the week's second workout were back on the field for the final one: Suggs (foot), linebacker Daryl Smith (thigh), wideout Brandon Stokley (groin) and cornerback Jimmy Smith (thigh). Stokley has not played in a game since the season's third week, the home win against Houston.

Receiver Marlon Brown (finger), who was a full participant during the second practice, was on the field for the third.

The only principal players missing were cornerback Corey Graham (calf) and starting left guard Kelechi Osemele (back), who will undergo season-ending surgery and be placed on injured reserve.

Thanks to a more sound, consistent tackling technique, Graham has recorded nine defensive tackles and three special teams stops during the Ravens' last two games.

Graham has made three starts this year for games during which the Ravens have come out in sub-packages. Jimmy Smith and Lardarius Webb have been the main starters on the edges.

The cornerback corps could get a boost this week if Asa Jackson is activated; Jackson missed the season's first eight games because of a second violation of the NFL performance-enhancing drug policy.

"Asa looked good," Harbaugh said. "He's just working his way through the subtle nuances of the game. We'll just see how it goes, because we do have a roster [exemption] available."

Chykie Brown filled in during the loss at Cleveland when Smith incurred his groin injury. If Brown, Smith and Jackson are all ready to play, it could give the Ravens five healthy corners for the first time all year, which could lead to one being deactivated. 

But having so many options in that area would come at an opportune time, given the Bengals' quantity and quality of offensive weapons.

For example, elusive running back and second-round rookie Giovani Bernard has been limited in practice this week with a rib injury, but he is expected to play.

Bernard electrified a national-TV audience during the Bengals' Oct. 31 loss to Miami with a meandering 35-yard touchdown run. He has provided a change-of-pace presence from the bullish, between-the-tackle runs of BenJarvus Green-Ellis.

"[Quarterback Andy Dalton] is throwing it to me for a reason, that I can run away from people," Bernard said this week. "Sometimes, there are safeties that come down, but most of the time, it's linebackers that are a little bit delayed, because they have to read so much inside, and it kind of slows them down.

"But I'm full speed out of the backfield."

Another offensive threat, tight end Jermaine Gresham (groin), didn't practice for most of the week; he is second on the team with 33 catches.

The Bengals' deep front seven has already been buffeted by a series of high-profile injuries, including the season-ending knee ligament tear that defensive tackle Geno Atkins suffered and respective knee and elbow ailments to linebacker Rey Maualuga and defensive tackle Devon Still. The latter two have missed practice time.

Besides Bernard, other notable Bengals limited during practice this week have been linebacker Michael Boley (hamstring) and right guard Kevin Zeitler (hamstring). Both are expected to play in Baltimore.

Left tackle Andrew Whitworth missed the season opener against Chicago and the Week Nine loss at Miami, but he is slated to play in Baltimore. All told, 10 of the Bengals' 11 offensive starters have taken the field for the first play of every game this year. 

Only six defensive players, including the now-shelved Atkins, can say the same: linemen Carlos Dunlap and Domata Peko, linebacker Vontaze Burfict, cornerback Terrence Newman and safety George Iloka.

***

JOEY P'S TRIVIA TIME: Today's question:

It's time once again for True or False Friday.

True or False: Joe Flacco has been sacked five times during a game twice this year, at home against Green Bay and at Cleveland, tying a single-game franchise record in the process.

The answer will be revealed at the bottom of today's column.

***

EYEBALL UPDATE: Even if it looks as if the Ravens won't be getting back to the Super Bowl this year, at least fans can reminisce the next three weeks.

That's because CBS has already laid out its announcer assignments for Weeks 10, 11 and 12, with a distinct Lombardi Trophy flavor following the Ravens around.

Greg Gumbel, who was behind the play-by-play microphone with Phil Simms when the Ravens won Super Bowl XXXV, is calling this week's home game with Cincinnati, as well as the Nov. 24 home date against the New York Jets.

Lead announcer Jim Nantz, the network's signature voice on events such as the Masters and Final Four, will handle the Ravens-Chicago Bears game on Nov. 17 with Simms, his usual partner these days. The two called Super Bowl XLVII in New Orleans in February.

As for the weekly ratings charts, Baltimore -- despite its team's flagging fortunes -- still ranked fifth out of 23 markets where a game broadcast topped the local ratings charts.

The Ravens-Cleveland post-bye game drew a 36.1 rating and 54 share, topping the numbers posted in so-called "better sports towns" such as: Cleveland (34.1), Washington (28.1), Dallas (26.8), Philadelphia (25.3), New York (15.8), Denver (15.2) and San Francisco (11.3).

All told, NFL games take up 19 of the top 20 spots as far as most-watched programs of the new TV season are concerned. The only exception was the season premiere of the CBS sitcom "The Big Bang Theory," which came in 19th place.

***

FOR THE BETTOR: For a moment, think about how frustrated the Washington Redskins must be, sitting at 3-6 for a second straight season.

Then, add this to the mix: the Ravens' Super Bowl odds, according to wagering website Bovada, have fallen to 100-1, the same level as Washington's.

The Ravens and Redskins are among a group of four teams whose odds for winning Super Bowl XLVIII have reached triple digits. The other two teams are the New York Jets and Tennessee Titans.

Denver (10-3) and Seattle (5-1) continue to head the list, which currently has two teams taken off the board; Tampa Bay and Jacksonville have been officially eliminated.

Others who are close to that distinction are Minnesota and St. Louis (1,000-1 each), along with Buffalo (750-1) and Atlanta and Oakland (500-1 each).

As for wagering on the Ravens' odds on simply making the playoffs, a bet on "no" gets you 1-10 odds, while "yes" is now a 6-1 longshot proposition.

Adding insult to injury, the Ravens' cumulative win total for the season, which averaged 8-9 wins on most sports books, has fallen to six on Bovada.

In the AFC, the Ravens are now eighth-favored at 50-1, which means they are not tabbed to make the playoffs. In the AFC North, their odds have fallen to 9-1. Pittsburgh's last-place odds are 28-1. Cincinnati is now a 1-10 favorite.

***

MUSIC, MAESTRO: A bucket-band drum line from the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra's "OrchKids" program played for the Ravens after the Nov. 8 practice.

The youngsters will play at halftime of the Thanksgiving night home game against Pittsburgh, along with Baltimore's Marching Ravens and members of the BSO.

The Ravens, represented by linebacker Elvis Dumervil and team president Dick Cass, made a $15,000 donation to the OrchKids program. Dumervil announced that he would also make a personal donation.

***

QUOTE OF THE DAY: CBS-TV analyst Dan Dierdorf, who was a Hall of Fame offensive lineman for the St. Louis Cardinals, stated the stakes for this week's game succinctly:

"If [the Ravens] lose this week, which would be their fourth in a row, and fall to 3-6, the odds of them making the playoffs are long, long and long."

***

JOEY P'S TRIVIA TIME ANSWER: Here's the question we asked earlier in this column:

True or False: Joe Flacco has been sacked five times during a game twice this year, at home against Green Bay and at Cleveland, tying a single-game franchise record in the process.

ANSWER:

Not only has Flacco's sometimes-porous offensive line has allowed him to be taken down more often than he would like this year, he has also incurred five-sack games on six other occasions before the current season.

Flacco had two five-sack games during his 2008 rookie season, as well as one each during each of the following four years.

But as painful as all that punishment sounds, it did not equal the single-game franchise record, so our statement is false.

The team record for sacks incurred by the Ravens during a game is seven, which has happened three times. Two of those games came against this week's opponent, the Cincinnati Bengals.

Filling in for the injured Vinny Testaverde, Eric Zeier was nearly put on the shelf himself by getting sacked seven times at Cincinnati in 1997. Two years later, Tony Banks suffered the same fate on the banks of the Ohio River, while Jeff Blake was also sacked seven times in Miami in 2002.

next up:

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