Ravens on the rebound in key AFC game vs. Colts
Depleted? Sure. Downtrodden? Hardly.
While the Baltimore Ravens will be without starters on both sides of the ball for Sunday’s visit to fellow AFC playoff contender Indianapolis, the Ravens remain favored against the Colts in a meeting of 5-2 teams.
Ravens left tackle Ronnie Stanley was lost for the season with an ankle injury suffered during a Week 8 home loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers, a development that no doubt will impact a balanced offensive attack led by quarterback Lamar Jackson.
On Monday, cornerback Marlon Humphrey announced he had tested positive for COVID-19, which carried a trickle-down effect on the Baltimore defense.
In addition to ruling Humphrey out for the Colts game, Ravens coach John Harbaugh said seven defensive players — linebackers L.J. Fort, Matthew Judon, Tyus Bowser, Patrick Queen and Malik Harrison, safety DeShon Elliott and practice squad cornerback Terrell Bonds — would not practice this week upon having “high-risk” close-contact exposure.
“You look at it as an opportunity to create versatility within our defense,” Harbaugh said.
Baltimore is preparing to face a Colts team that has won two consecutive games and is 3-0 at Lucas Oil Stadium this season. Indianapolis is coming off a 41-21 road win at Detroit. Philip Rivers threw for each of his three touchdowns in the second quarter — including a pair of scoring passes to Nyheim Hines — while finishing 23-for-33 for 262 yards.
Rivers connected with 11 different targets and anticipates a challenge to match that feat against the Ravens’ diverse blitz package.
“There are guys coming from anywhere, guys flying all over the place. … It’s a lot of fun,” Rivers said. “It’s exciting. There’s an element of back-and-forth when they’re doing this, so we have … to counter during the game.”
Hines, a third-year running back, unveiled separate acrobatic celebrations following his touchdowns as he shined as a backup to rookie Jonathan Taylor, who struggled to 22 yards on 11 carries. Taylor practiced Wednesday despite contending with an ankle injury.
Wide receivers T.Y. Hilton (groin) and Ashton Dulin (knee) were injured at Detroit and didn’t practice Wednesday.
Baltimore has won nine consecutive road games dating to 2019, and figures to need an improved effort from Jackson to extend that streak to double digits. The reigning NFL MVP passed for 208 yards and was part of a rushing attack that gained 265 more, but he committed four turnovers in last week’s 28-24 loss to the Steelers.
Jackson threw a pair of interceptions and fumbled twice. He passed incomplete into triple coverage in the end zone in the waning seconds, thwarting the Ravens’ comeback attempt.
This week, Jackson committed to taking more of a vocal leadership role, if need be.
“Our guys are not down here. I feel like we’ll be fine here,” he said. “If they need me to say something, I will. I’m not a vocal guy. I lead by example.”
Asked about the key to facing Jackson, Colts defensive end Justin Houston said: “Respect him, but don’t fear him.”
Defensive end Calais Campbell and defensive back Jimmy Smith missed the Ravens’ practice Wednesday for non-injury reasons, while running back Mark Ingram was held out with an ankle injury.
According to reports, the Ravens are set to bring veteran cornerback Tramon Williams in for a workout as they navigate defensive depth issues.
–Field Level Media