OWINGS MILLS, Md. -- Ravens cornerback Marlon Humphrey missed his second straight day of practice Dec. 6 with a groin injury, a concerning development with the Ravens about to face the Kansas City Chiefs and their high-octane passing attack.
The Chiefs (10-2) rank first in the league in scoring (37.0 points a game), first in yards per play (7.03) and first in passing yards per play (8.46), and quarterback Patrick Mahomes has thrown 41 touchdowns in 12 games.
Humphrey was instrumental in the Ravens shutting down the Atlanta Falcons' passing attack Dec. 2, as the Falcons were held to 131 yards of total offense, their lowest total since 1999, as the Ravens won, 26-16. Falcons Pro Bowl receiver Julio Jones was limited to two catches for 18 yards.
Humphrey, the Ravens' top draft pick last season, is quickly evolving into a top-tier cover corner. He has 24 tackles and eight passes defensed this season, and according to Pro Football Focus, since Week 7 Humphrey has allowed the lowest catch rate in the league at 42.1 percent.
Head coach John Harbaugh does not meet with the media on Thursdays, so the next update on the status of Humphrey -- or injured quarterback Joe Flacco -- won't come until Dec. 7. But Harbaugh is likely to defer to the Ravens' official injury report.
Humphrey missed two games earlier this year with a thigh injury and the Ravens lost both, against the New Orleans Saints and the Carolina Panthers.
Clearly, his absence would be felt against a Chiefs team that features all-everything tight end Travis Kelce and wide receiver Tyreek Hill, each of whom already has topped 1,000 receiving yards with four games remaining.
The 6-foot-5, 260-pound Kelce has 79 catches for 1,082 yards and nine touchdowns, and he figures to be a matchup problem however the Ravens choose to defend him. They could try to play one of their bigger, physical corners on him at times.
"I don't think you stop him, I think you just try to …. limit the big plays that he makes, because he's playing at such a high level right now," defensive coordinator Don "Wink" Martindale said in his weekly media session Dec. 6.
Hill has 66 catches for 1,119 yards and 11 touchdowns, and Martindale called him "the fastest human being I’ve ever seen wear a helmet."
He noted that the key for the Ravens will be disguising coverages and staying unpredictable.
"If they know what you're in," Martindale said, "they will slaughter you."
The Ravens (7-5) currently hold the No. 6 playoff spot in the AFC and are just a half-game behind the Pittsburgh Steelers (7-4-1) in the AFC North race with four games to play. After facing the Chiefs, the Ravens host the Tampa Bay Buccaneers (Dec. 16), visit the Los Angeles Chargers (Dec. 22) and host the Cleveland Browns (Dec. 30) as they try to end a three-year playoff drought.
JEFFERSON, LEWIS REMAIN SIDELINED: In addition to Humphrey, the only absences from Ravens practice Dec. 6 were safety Tony Jefferson (ankle), guard Alex Lewis (shoulder) and receiver John Brown, who could have been getting a veteran day off. Defensive backs Tavon Young (groin) and Anthony Levine (ankle), who had injury-related absences a day earlier, were back on the field.
Quarterback Joe Flacco (hip) again worked out and looked strong in the individual drills that were open to the media. Harbaugh has said the question of whether Flacco would be cleared to play against the Chiefs would come later this week.
RAVE REVIEWS FOR CLARK: With Jefferson still sidelined by an ankle injury, second-year safety Chuck Clark appears in line to make his second straight start against the Chiefs. Clark finished with a career-high four tackles during the win against the Falcons, and Martindale was complimentary of Clark's first start, especially an open-field tackle he made early in the game.
"I mean, he stapled that kid to the ground," Martindale said. "I haven't seen an open-field tackle like that all year."
CARR HONORED: Ravens cornerback Brandon Carr was honored before practice as the Ravens' nominee for the Walter Payton Man of the Year, an NFL award that honors a player for his positive impact in the community. This is the third such honor for Carr, who was the Dallas Cowboys' nominee in 2014 and 2015.
Carr is in his 11th season in the league, his second in Baltimore, and he has never missed a start during his career. This season, Carr has 35 tackles and a team-high nine passes defensed.
Carr has a foundation that has been heavily involved in childhood literacy programs nationally and in Baltimore schools, and he also worked with the Ravens' Flock Above mentoring program. This year, he has become involved in breast cancer support, visiting hospitals and offering care packages to patients as a way to honor his late mother. He is also involved with the Ravens' social justice initiatives.
"It's not about me," Carr said as he accepted the honor. "It's about an opportunity for me to bring a lot of like-minded organizations and people together for one purpose and one cause and that’s to make the world a better place."
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