Month: August 2020


Dwayne Bravo supports decision to drop younger brother

first_imgPORT OF SPAIN, Trinidad,  CMC – Veteran all-rounder Dwayne Bravo has backed the decision by selectors to drop his younger brother, Darren Bravo, for the upcoming Afghanistan series. Acknowledging Darren’s recent poor form, Dwayne said the time away would allow the left-hander to revisit his batting and come back even stronger for future West Indies duty.West Indies clash with the Afghans in a one-off Test, three One-Day Internationals and three Twenty20s, in a series running from November 5 to December 1 in India.“Maybe it’s the right choice at this time,” Dwayne Bravo told CNC3 Television here. “This tour in India is one Test match [and] a few one-dayers. Darren hasn’t been the batsman that we all expect and want to see performance-wise. Sometimes you need that moment for yourself to go back into the basics.”Darren was West Indies’ leading batsman before an ill-advised tweet aimed at former Cricket West Indies president, Dave Cameron, resulted in him being sent home from tour in November, 2016 and subsequently sidelined from international and domestic duty for two years.He only returned to action 12 months ago but has since struggled to recapture his form across all formats and has averaged 13 from five Tests, 22 from 16 One-Day Internationals and 17 from eight T20 Internationals since. Dwayne, a former one-day captain, said Darren’s non-selection could also have a positive effect on his motivation.“Maybe not being selected will hurt him and he now will be more determined to come back [stronger] and the hunger is going to come back,” Dwayne explained.Darren Bravo’s axing is one of several changes to the Windies squad announced on Tuesday. As previously indicated, fellow Trinidadian Kieron Pollard has replaced all-rounder Carlos Brathwaite at the helm while Phil Simmons has taken over as head coach. Former Test off-spinner and Windies head coach, Roger Harper, is the new chief selector and will be joined by former Windward Islands batsman Miles Bascombe and Simmons.Dwayne praised the changes, nothing Darren had an excellent relationship with Pollard, and expected them to work well together in the future.“They both have a very good professional relationship and that is what is needed in the cricket,” he said. “The selection panel is honest and looking to give everyone opportunities, not just saying this one no longer can play and this one can play.”Dwayne Bravo is presently recovering from an injury which kept him out of the just-concluded Caribbean Premier League.last_img read more


Pride suffer title blow with heavy defeat

first_imgTAROUBA, Trinidad,, CMC – A ruthless Trinidad and Tobago Red Force dealt a heavy blow to Barbados Pride’s title quest with a crushing 147-run victory here yesterday. Chasing an improbable 330 to win on the final day of the seventh round match at the Brian Lara Stadium, the championship leaders folded meekly for 182 in their second innings, to spoil an excellent five-game winning streak.Pride were dismantled by paceman Uthman Muhammad who claimed four for 28, including three of the first four wickets to fall, as the visitors slumped to 43 for four in quick time.Left-arm spinner Akeal Hosein continued his wicket-taking form with three for 44 while leg-spinning captain Imran Khan chipped in with two for 46. In-form left-hander Kyle Mayers resisted with a top score of 40 while out-of-form captain Kraigg Brathwaite managed 36, tail-ender Chemar Holder 34 not out, and all-rounder Kevin Stoute, 33, but Pride failed to string together partnerships of real substance to avoid their second defeat of the season.Red Force, with a single win to their credit and two defeats and as many stalemates in their last four outings, started the day requiring a clinical effort in order to get the better of their bitter rivals.Resuming on 343 for nine, they added a further seven runs before last man Anderson Phillip perished for 16, just 13 balls into the morning session. Left with the better part of three sessions to pull off victory, Red Force made little mistake as Uthman Muhammad and Phillip tore Pride’s top order to shreds with destructive new-ball spells.Uthman trapped Shayne Moseley lbw for five in the fourth over with 11 runs on the board as the left-hander hit across a full length delivery and then removed Test batsman Shamar Brooks for 10 in his next over to a catch by wicketkeeper Joshua DaSilva moving smartly to his right.Three balls later in the next over, Phillip hit Justin Greaves in front for one and when Uthman got Shane Dowrich to flash at a short wide ball and nick a catch to DaSilva for five, Pride were sliding towards a heavy defeat. They recovered through a 53-run fifth wicket stand between Mayers and Brathwaite, reviving hopes of salvaging a draw.Mayers struck half-dozen fours and a six in a breezy 45-ball innings while Brathwaite counted four fours and a six off 89 balls in nearly 2-¼ hours at the crease.They seemed to be taking Pride safely to lunch without further loss when Mayers perished in the fourth over before the break, holing out in the deep off a slog-sweep at Hosein. When Cephas Cooper completed a brilliant running catch in the deep to dismiss Brathwaite in the fifth over following the resumption off Hosein, Pride lost four wickets for 21 runs and the last wicket stand of 52 between Stoute and Holder only delayed the inevitable.last_img read more


NBA roundup: Lillard scores 51, Embiid injured in Blazers’ win

first_imgDamian Lillard poured in 51 points and added seven assists to lead the Portland Trail Blazers to a 124-121 victory over a Philadelphia 76ers’ squad that lost Joel Embiid to injury on Sunday night near Orlando. Carmelo Anthony recorded 20 points and seven rebounds as Portland (33-39) moved within a half-game of the eighth-place Memphis Grizzlies in the Western Conference race. The Trail Blazers are a half-game ahead of the San Antonio Spurs and one game in front of the Phoenix Suns for the play-in berth.Josh Richardson scored a season-best 34 points and matched a season high of six 3-pointers for the 76ers (42-28). Embiid exited with a left ankle injury with 6:18 left in the first quarter and had two points on 1-of-6 shooting and collected four rebounds.Anthony moved into 15th place in NBA history with 26,411 career points. He passed Paul Pierce (26,397) and John Havlicek (26,395). Houston Rockets 129 – Sacramento Kings 112Austin Rivers scored 41 points off the bench, James Harden tallied 32 points, eight rebounds and seven assists, and Houston roared back from a sluggish start to top Sacramento.The Rockets (44-25) improved to 4-1 in the restart while the Kings (29-41) were eliminated from playoff contention when the Portland Trail Blazers beat the Philadelphia 76ers earlier Sunday. Houston played a second consecutive game without guard Russell Westbrook (right quad contusion), although Westbrook and guard Eric Gordon (left ankle sprain) are nearing a return. Rivers helped compensate for their absences with his career high scoring, including 19 points on 7-of-8 shooting prior to the intermission to help the Rockets erase an early 13-point deficit.San Antonio Spurs 122 – New Orleans Pelicans 113DeMar DeRozan scored 27 points and San Antonio kept its playoff hopes while helping to end those of New Orleans. The Spurs (31-38) improved to 4-2 during the restart and stayed in the thick of the tight battle for the eighth and ninth positions in the Western Conference. The Pelicans (30-40) fell to 2-4 in the restart and, following Portland’s win later in the day, were eliminated from the playoffs.Rudy Gay added 19 points, Derrick White scored 16 despite missing most of the second half because of a bruised left knee, Dejounte Murray had 18 and Marco Belinelli tallied 14. JJ Redick led New Orleans with 31 points, Zion Williamson scored 25, Brandon Ingram had 17 and Derrick Favors had 10 points and 12 rebounds.Toronto Raptors 108 – Memphis Grizzlies 99 Marc Gasol capped a key third-quarter run with a 3-pointer in his first game against his longtime employer and Toronto clinched the No. 2 seed in the Eastern Conference with a win over slumping Memphis.Gasol was dealt from Memphis to Toronto last February and was a member of the Raptors’ championship team in 2019. He contributed 10 points and six rebounds in 22 minutes to lift the Raptors to a fourth win in five games since the restart.The loss was a costly one for Memphis (33-38), which began the day in eighth place in the West but is locked into a tight battle with Portland, Phoenix, San Antonio and New Orleans. The loss prevented the Grizzlies from clinching a spot in the play-in game for the No. 8 seed.Boston Celtics 122 – Orlando Magic 119 (OT) Gordon Hayward scored 31 points and Jayson Tatum added 29 to lift Boston past Orlando in overtime.Jaylen Brown collected 19 points and 12 rebounds for the third-place Celtics (47-23), who saw their slim chances to secure the second seed in the Eastern Conference go by the boards earlier on Sunday when Toronto wrapped up the No. 2 seed with a win over Memphis.Nikola Vucevic had 26 points and 11 rebounds and Terrence Ross added 18 points off the bench for the reeling Magic (32-39), who have dropped four in a row. Oklahoma City Thunder 121 – Washington Wizards 103Darius Bazley scored a career-high 23 points to lead Oklahoma City past Washington, pulling ahead of Utah for fifth in the Western Conference in the process.For the second consecutive game, the Thunder jumped out to a big lead early. But unlike Friday’s game against Memphis, where an 18-point first-quarter lead turned into a 29-point blowout loss, this time Oklahoma City was able to keep control to remain in the thick of the race for a top-four spot in the Western Conference. The Wizards (24-46) remain winless in the NBA bubble, having dropped six consecutive games. Washington has two games remaining at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex.Brooklyn Nets 129 – Los Angeles Clippers 120Caris LeVert had 27 points and 13 assists, leading Brooklyn past Los Angeles despite Kawhi Leonard’s 39 points. Joe Harris scored 23 of his 25 points in the first half before fouling out late in the contest. Tyler Johnson scored 21 points, Garrett Temple added 19, and Jarrett Allen finished with 16 points and 16 rebounds for the Nets (34-36).Leonard also had six assists and four steals for the Clippers. Lou Williams scored 18 points, while Marcus Morris Sr. contributed 15. Terance Mann chipped in 14. The Clippers (47-23), playing the second game of back-to-back contests, rested All-Star forward Paul George. Clippers guard Patrick Beverley (calf) missed his third straight contest.—Field Level Medialast_img read more


Swedish media to self-regulate ahead of gambling regulatory overhaul

first_img EU research agency demands urgent action on loot box consumer safeguards July 29, 2020 Related Articles StumbleUpon Share Share Svenska Spel becomes 2020 eHockey Championship sponsor August 18, 2020 LeoVegas hits back at Swedish regulations despite Q2 successes August 13, 2020 Submit Following reports that the Swedish government is preparing to review the national gambling regulatory framework, Sweden’s Media Associations for digital, media and publishing have pledged to self-regulate gambling advertising.The move sees the associations, which represent Swedish media owners, pre-empt the government’s potential future policy with regards to gambling advertising.Swedish media owners have had a fraught relationship with national gambling regulator Lotteriinspektionen, as they have ruled in favour of advertising international gambling operator services, stating that laws favouring national gambling monopoly Svenska Spel were in breach of European Union business policy and practice.The initiative to self-regulate is being spearheaded by newspaper guild Tidningsutvivarna (TU), which is reported to have published a 10 point guideline for responsible advertising, which will be recommended to other media organisations.Swedish media owners hope that by taking a positive self-regulated approach, the government will hear the industry needs for a progressive regulations with regards to gambling advertising standards.Facing mounting pressure from the European Union to reform its national gambling framework, and adhere to EU business and competition policies, Sweden’s Ministry of Finance reported last month that it would undertake a full review on the matter.Swedish government ministers and stakeholders have asked the government to to speed up the review in order to implement policy by the next general election scheduled for September 2018.last_img read more


Expert racing tipster scoops Secret Betting Club Award

first_imgShare Related Articles ‘Better for Bettors’: Better Collective’s formalised approach to sustainable development June 15, 2020 Paris tracks face second shutdown as government changes coronavirus policy May 20, 2020 StumbleUpon Share Better Collective moves fast to mitigate COVID-19 as esports journey begins May 15, 2020 Submit Stephen Harris, the resident horse racing guru at bettingexpert, has bagged yet another winner after being crowned the Secret Betting Club’s Best Free Tipster. Stephen, an ex-senior racing trader, has proved highly lucrative since joining bettingexpert, the world’s leading provider of betting and gambling tools, in 2011.He has delivered over 5,000 tips with an incredible return on investment. If followers had placed £1 on each of his NAP and Value Angle advised bets, they would be revelling in over £400 of profit. In the last year alone, over 100 of Stephen’s daily NAPs have found the winners’ enclosure and just less than a third of his each-way bets have been placed or better.Thomas Høgenhaven, Chief Strategy Officer at Better Collective, said: “We are fortunate to have somebody like Stephen Harris representing bettingexpert. His knowledge of the racing world is second to none and helps lift the lid on all of the best bets for our users.Stephen Harris, Horse Racing Editor at Better Collective, said: “I’m absolutely chuffed to be named Best Free Tipster by the Secret Betting Club. With Cheltenham less than six weeks away, I’m wading through the form books and hoping my good run continues for all of my followers.”last_img read more


Ravens impose will on 49ers by beating them at own game

first_imgBALTIMORE — The San Francisco 49ers had used a simple formula for success all season.A dominating defense, an effective running game, and efficient, mistake-free play had led them to an eight-game winning streak and the second-best record in the NFL.For the most part, it’s the exact combination the Ravens used against them in a convincing 16-6 win on Thursday night.Baltimore imposed its will on the 49ers by turning in one of its best defensive performances of the season and displaying just enough offense to improve to 8-3, the top mark in the AFC.“You play the field-position game and never give them an opportunity to play on a short field,” coach John Harbaugh said. “If you [do] that, and you don’t make a mistake, you have a chance to beat the 49ers, and that’s about it.”For the first time since their Week 1 win over the Pittsburgh Steelers, the Ravens did not turn the ball over, preventing the San Francisco offense from obtaining the good field position it needs to be successful. Baltimore stuffed running back Frank Gore and forced the 49ers to put the ball in the hands of quarterback Alex Smith.At that point, it was all over as the Ravens tied a franchise record with nine sacks as Smith was overwhelmed by pressure from the Baltimore defensive front.“It’s Thanksgiving, there’s a lot of turkey,” said defensive end Cory Redding, who had a career high 2 1/2 sacks. “We had to go out there and eat. And that’s the beauty of stopping the run; when you do that, you can pin your ears back and rush the passer. And we’ve got a lot of guys who are real great at rushing the passer.”The story of the game took shape in the third quarter after the 49ers marched 46 yards to start the second half, settling for a 52-yard field goal by David Akers to tie it at 6-6. With the defense being on the field for the first 6:30 of the third quarter, the Ravens offense needed to respond. A three-and-out or a turnover would not only give the 49ers the opening they needed to seize control of the game, but it would put the Baltimore defense back on the field with little time to recuperate.Quarterback Joe Flacco and the offense responded with a masterful 16-play, 76-yard drive to recapture any momentum the 49ers had built after the game-tying field goal and put the Ravens in the driver’s seat for the eventual victory. Flacco was 4-for-4 for 34 yards on third-down plays on the scoring drive in what catalyzed a 6-for-9 third-down conversion rate in the second half after the Ravens were successful just once out of six tries on third down in the first 30 minutes of play.“When you have that kind of game plan, your line being so efficient on third downs, you have to come through,” said Flacco, who threw an 8-yard pass to Dennis Pitta for the only touchdown of the game to begin the fourth quarter. “We had a lot of guys come through for us and just made some big plays in those situations.”The drive lasted 7:34, giving the Ravens defense enough rest to put even more heat on Smith as linebacker Terrell Suggs led the charge with three sacks, snapping a three-game stretch without any sacks for the Pro Bowl pass rusher.Playing from behind and failing to get its heralded ground attack going, Ravens defenders could pin their ears back even more in protecting the lead and finishing off the Ravens’ sixth win in six tries at home this season.“It was definitely our offense keeping the ball so long and sustaining drives and scoring points,” Suggs said. “Because then you’ve got to abort the run and throw the ball a little bit more.”The Baltimore running game wasn’t spectacular, needing to run 35 times to gain 92 yards against the top-ranked run defense in the NFL, but the Ravens had enough success on the ground to stay true to their game plan. Offensive coordinator Cam Cameron continued to feed the ball to Ray Rice (21 carries for 59 yards) and Ricky Williams (seven carries for 29 yards) to make the San Francisco defense respect the run and create space underneath for Flacco to connect with receivers to move the chains.For as much as we like to draw comparisons to the 2000 Ravens whenever a Baltimore defense turns in a dominating performance, this one smelled of that same aura as San Francisco was overwhelmed by the pass rush and was held to just 74 yards on 21 rushing attempts.And, oh yeah, the Ravens defense did all of it without future Hall of Fame linebacker Ray Lewis, who was relegated to the sideline after missing his second straight game with a toe injury. With performances such as what we saw on Thursday night, Baltimore might be more inclined to wait as long as it needs to in getting the 36-year-old’s toe right before sending him back to the field.When you finish the game with more sacks than your opponent has points, you know it’s a special night. Yes, the 49ers had to travel across the country to play a game on a very short week, but the Ravens bruised and battered a team that had been used to doing the same exact thing to its opponents all season. It wasn’t the best offensive performance of the season, but the Ravens were efficient and held true to what they wanted to do entering the meeting with the upstart 49ers.With two wins in five days against two playoff-caliber opponents, the Ravens have put themselves in the enviable position of deciding their playoff fate with five games remaining in the regular season. Home-field advantage and a No. 1 seed is in their crosshairs as the Ravens enter the month of December. They’ll now have 10 days to rest before their next challenge awaits against a sub-.500 opponent on the road.Sounds familiar, doesn’t it?“Now, we have to conquer a game in Cleveland, one that’s been plaguing us all year,” Harbaugh said. “You’ve all written about it extensively. It’s a big challenge we have, but we have an opportunity now to get healthy, and that’s what we have to take advantage of in the next couple days.”last_img read more


Ravens looking healthy in final injury report for Thursday night

first_imgPreparing to host the Cleveland Browns in a short week, the Ravens will be close to full strength as they take the field for Thursday Night Football.Offensive lineman Jah Reid (calf) was the only Baltimore player to work on a limited basis Wednesday as he continues to re-acclimate himself to practicing after initially injuring his lower leg in June’s mandatory minicamp. He is listed as questionable against the Browns, but it is highly unlikely that he will be listed as active after only having worked on a limited basis in a few practices over the last week.Linebacker Brendon Ayanbadejo and cornerback Lardarius Webb were both full participants on Wednesday after being limited with knee injuries earlier in the week. Both defensive players are listed as probable.Meanwhile, Cleveland’s final injury report wasn’t nearly as favorable as starting wide receiver Mohamed Massaquoi has been ruled out with a hamstring injury after not practicing all week. He leads the Browns with 145 receiving yards and is second in catches (nine) behind running back Trent Richardson’s 11.Tight end Alex Smith and linebacker James-Michael Johnson have also been ruled out for Thursday’s game.Here’s the final injury report for Thursday night:BALTIMOREQUESTIONABLE: T Jah Reid (calf)PROBABLE: LB Brendon Ayanbadejo (knee), CB Lardarius Webb (knee)CLEVELANDOUT: LB James-Michael Johnson (ribs/oblique), WR Mohamed Massaquoi (hamstring), TE Alex Smith (head)QUESTIONABLE: DB Ray Ventrone (hand)PROBABLE: DB Sheldon Brown (chest), WR Joshua Cribbs (knee), OL Jason Pinkston (ankle), DL Frostee Rucker (wrist), RB Trent Richardson (knee), LS Christian Yount (shoulder)last_img read more


Ovechkin Tallies Again, But Caps Lose in Shootout

first_imgFor the second straight night, the Washington Capitals ran into a hot goalie and lost a hockey game.The good news, was that on Saturday evening, the Caps picked up a point since it took the shootout for the Toronto Maple Leafs to defeat Washington, 2-1.There were lots of good things for the Caps in this one. They dominated the game and the shot totals, 50-28 in shots on goal and 101-54 in shot attempts. That’s some serious puck possession there, primarily because they played better getting out of their own zone. Alex Ovechkin scored late in regulation off a beautiful Mike Green sand wedge to tie this one after it looked like David Clarkson’s power play deflection tally might be the only one to hold up.It was a very entertaining hockey game and James Reimer was the difference. Given that the Caps played the night before and didn’t get into the Big Smoke until the wee early hours of Saturday morning, Coach Adam Oates must be pleased with the effort he received. Oates inserted Eric Fehr into the lineup and took out 32 year old Martin Erat to add energy in a tough back to back situation. The move worked as Brooks Laich, moving down to center Joel Ward and Jason Chimera, had his best game of the season and the second line of Fehr, Mikhail Grabovski, and Troy Brouwer were strong too.Grabovski though, had a scary moment catching Clarkson’s skate to the face after Joffrey Lupul used his stick to take Grabovski down to spring a Leafs 4 on 2 rush near the end of period two. Grabovski needed more than 20 stitches to close two cuts and is fortunate to not have lost his eye. I’m not sure what the referees were doing there, but the move by Lupul to take 84 down was clearly either any of hooking, high sticking or interference?Fehr would score first in the shootout and it looked like Washington might get the win, but then James Van Riemsdyk tallied and Nicklas Backstrom’s attempt to win the game on his 26th birthday failed. Lupul, a big time Capitals killer (see game 7 in 2008), beat Braden Holtby and Troy Brouwer didn’t convert as Washington dropped to 5-2 in the gimmick this season. Overall the Caps are now 12-10-2 on the season, good for 26 points and second place in a tightening Metropolitan Division (the Rangers and Flyers both won again).Ovechkin now has 20 goals in 22 games, so don’t tell me Oates can’t coach. The bench boss has turned the Gr8 back into the purest goal scorer in the NHL again.As mentioned above, the biggest reason for the Washington domination was the play on the back end. Green had a really strong game and John Carlson was flat out dominant once again proving that he not only should make Team USA for the Sochi Olympic Games, but he just might be the best right handed defensemen on the team the way he is playing. Even more encouraging was the performance of Nate Schmidt. I’ve liked #88 since his first game in Baltimore back in September, but he probably would’ve have been best having a season in the AHL to hone his craft. Tonight though, Schmidt was outstanding with his decision making, stepping up in the neutral zone when necessary, and it culminated in his best game of the season. He’s playing due to injuries, but the rookie is doing all he can to help the team. Give credit to assistant coach Calle Johansson too, after Carlson, Green, and Karl Alzner, the other guys playing defense aren’t household NHL players but somehow Calle had these guys playing above their skill level on Saturday.If there are some things not to like about this loss that featured a great team effort, it is probably the power play going 0 for 3 on the night (10 shots on goal) along with Washington’s inability to get a lot of traffic on Reimer. The Leafs were not going to let Ovechkin score with the man advantage and Brouwer and Ward didn’t capitalize on their opportunities. Oates and assistant coach Blaine Forsythe will need to adjust that unit again to get more traffic. Carlson had several point blasts but Reimer saw nearly all of them cleanly. One other thing to dislike were the face off totals. Toronto won that battle handily, 39-24.So the Caps end up a back to back weekend against the Habs and Leafs going 0-1-1 despite carrying the play in five of the six periods. Peter Budaj and Reimer were the difference makers and the Capitals inability to get traffic and rebounds didn’t help the cause. That’s an area to work on going forward.Still, the fact that Washington’s puck possession numbers were much better the last two nights is encouraging. I credit a lot of that to getting #52 back in the lineup. Green doesn’t get paid $6M+ per season for nothing. With Green and Carlson playing the right side for over 80% of the game, Washington is a different team than when they are only with one of them. In addition, the other defenders amped up their game and minimized their mistakes.Notes: Washington’s next game is at home against the Ottawa Senators on Thanksgiving Eve…assistant equipment manager, Craig “Woody” Leydig, worked his 2,000th NHL game on Saturday night. Woody has been with the Caps since the 80’s and is one of those guys that just shows up and does his job every night. He’s a well known “good guy” around the league.last_img read more


Webb injury makes cornerback no secondary concern for Ravens

first_imgThe Ravens entered training camp with cornerback depth high on the list of concerns following the free-agent departure of Corey Graham and the lack of a significant offseason addition through free agency or the draft.The anxiety has only grown with a lingering back injury for starter Lardarius Webb that is likely to keep him sidelined for most of the preseason, according to head coach John Harbaugh. Webb “probably” won’t play in the first two preseason games and could even miss the all-important third game of the summer despite tests revealing no structural damage to the sixth-year defensive back.“He has some things going on in there that aren’t long-term things,” Harbaugh said. “I’m not going to get into it and give you the exact diagnosis of it. It’s probably as much me as anything. This early part of camp –- I just don’t want to put him through this on his back. He’s had sports hernia surgery [earlier in the offseason], also. There’s still some scar tissue in there. I just would rather keep him out of this first part of training camp, and we’ll just see how it feels more toward the end of camp.”As anyone could tell you, back injuries are tricky, and there’s no guarantee that Webb will be in the clear even when he returns to action. The Ravens are taking the prudent approach considering the regular-season opener against Cincinnati is still more than a month away, but that will only quell concerns so much in a day and age when the NFL is all about defending the passing game.Entering the summer, the competition was already wide open for the No. 3 cornerback spot with young defensive backs Chykie Brown and Asa Jackson expected to be pushed by veterans Aaron Ross and Dominique Franks, who were both signed following June’s mandatory minicamp. Instead, Ross tore his Achilles tendon taking the conditioning test at the start of camp and Franks took several days to pass the test to even get on the field. The former Atlanta Falcons cornerback has done very little to distinguish himself while working with the second- and third-string defenses in practice.Rookie free agents Tramain Jacobs, Deji Olatoye, and Sammy Seamster have all flashed ability and are intriguing candidates to potentially make the 53-man roster, but none can reasonably be counted on to handle a significant defensive role in Week 1.The only certainty right now is 2011 first-round pick Jimmy Smith handling one of the starting spots.“Somebody has to rise to the top,” defensive coordinator Dean Pees said. “The cream has to come to the top and somebody has to take the job, and I don’t know right now who that is. I feel pretty good about Jimmy Smith on the one side, and then there’s a lot of competition over on the other side. Right now, I couldn’t tell you who that is. Those guys just have to keep competing.”Through the early stages of camp, Jackson has played better than Brown, but neither has shown enough consistency to feel comfortable about penciling one into the nickel defense. When it comes to experience, Brown has the edge as he’s filled in as an outside corner in the nickel due to injuries while Jackson has yet to play a defensive snap as he enters his third season.Pees and secondary coach Steve Spagnuolo prefer to slide Webb inside in the nickel package where his ability to play the run and blitz can be better utilized, and Brown is better suited to play outside, but the 2011 fifth-round pick consistently struggles to find the football in coverage. Meanwhile, Jackson is more of an inside corner with a height listed at 5-foot-10.“That’s something that I went into this latest break trying to really work on and really working on my technique on the outside,” Jackson told AM 1570 last week. “Being a smaller guy, it gets a little hairy out there sometimes, but I’ve put in a lot of good work this offseason. I’m excited to keep trying to improve and play on the outside.”The Ravens have experimented with a variety of different looks including moving strong safety Matt Elam to the nickel spot, but it’s fair to wonder whether the defense’s No. 3 cornerback isn’t currently on the roster. General manager Ozzie Newsome has found contributors who have become available at the end of the preseason in the past, but there’s no guarantee a quality cornerback will shake free with the pass-happy nature of the league and the premium placed on coverage.Newsome spoke highly of Brown and Jackson throughout the offseason, but the inability to add an impact cornerback this offseason is even more concerning with the absence of Webb.“We may do some things that I may not normally do in a game just to put those guys out there and see what they can do,” Pees said. “This is the time to experiment and see if they can do it — not when the season starts.”Of course, the Ravens are expressing confidence that Webb will be ready to go by the end of the summer, but they’ll need to find a comfort level with their No. 3 cornerback before they can even begin thinking about how to align the defense should Webb’s absence linger into the regular season.It’s not a comfortable place to be with a group of unproven and unheralded cornerbacks competing for what has essentially become a starting position in the NFL. And that discomfort becomes a nightmare if the Ravens aren’t being completely transparent about Webb’s injured back.For now, Harbaugh and his coaching staff can only hope one of the young cornerbacks answers the bell while Newsome keeps his eyes peeled for what might become available through trade or free agency.“There is a lot of competition out here for that third spot,” Jackson said. “I think we’re all kind of raising each other’s level of play. Hopefully, we can keep doing that and then once the games get here, it’ll sort out how it will.”last_img read more


No questions at left tackle for Ravens heading into offseason

first_imgRavens head coach John Harbaugh made it clear Tuesday there is no controversy at left tackle going into the offseason.A few eyebrows raised when starting left tackle Eugene Monroe was deemed active for Saturday’s game in New England before rookie free agent James Hurst remained the starter against the Patriots, but Harbaugh said the decision was based solely on Monroe’s health. After injuring his ankle in the fourth quarter of the Week 16 loss in Houston, Monroe did not play in the regular-season finale or the Pittsburgh game and was limited to just five special-teams snaps against New England.Monroe was a limited participant in practices last week leading into the trip to Foxborough.“Eugene wasn’t 100 percent, but we felt like he was enough to be a good backup for us,” Harbaugh said. “If we lost one of the tackles, we’d probably rather be able to put Eugene in there at less than 100 percent than have to shuffle the offensive line around again. And credit to him for getting himself back into that kind of a position. But as far as playing the left tackle spot the whole game, where [Monroe] was at, James was the better option.”If Monroe had remained inactive against the Patriots and the Ravens would have lost either Hurst or Marshal Yanda, who was already filling in for the injured Rick Wagner at right tackle, they would have been forced to move left guard Kelechi Osemele out to tackle and insert Ryan Jensen into the game. Instead, the Ravens deemed a banged-up Monroe as a better option to activate than Jensen, who was only promoted to the 53-man roster at the end of the regular season.Needless to say, it was a disappointing year for Monroe after he signed a five-year, $37.5 million contract last offseason. He missed four games after undergoing knee surgery in late September and never appeared healthy enough to play at the level he did last season when he was acquired from the Jacksonville Jaguars. The ankle injury against the Texans all but ended his season, opening the door for Hurst to become the first player in NFL history to start a playoff game at left tackle as an undrafted rookie.Counting the postseason, the Ravens went 5-2 in games Hurst started at left tackle, leaving some to wonder if the rookie’s performance was good enough to supplant Monroe as the starter. When carefully watching Hurst’s play, it would be more accurate to describe Baltimore as surviving with him at left tackle.Harbaugh made it clear how he views the depth chart heading into next season.“Eugene is our starter going forward,” Harbaugh said. “We’re happy to have that be the case.”Of all offensive tackles who participated in at least 25 percent of his team’s snaps in the regular season, Hurst finished 79th out of 84 and had minus-16.9 pass blocking and minus-9.0 run blocking grades, according to Pro Football Focus’s cumulative assessments. Monroe ranked 63rd out of 84, but his minus-1.0 pass blocking grade and minus-10.7 run blocking grade reflects how much he struggled moving laterally in Gary Kubiak’s zone-blocking system while not having quite as many issues as a pass blocker. That could certainly be explained by the knee issues he experienced early in the year and then coming back from surgery in the middle of the season.Monroe will be on notice to bounce back dramatically — especially carrying a $7.7 million cap figure in 2015 — but he also has a track record suggesting he’ll be better with an offseason to once again get healthy.Even if his performance wasn’t strong enough to seriously make Monroe look over his shoulder, Hurst did establish himself as a solid backup for an offensive line that took major strides in 2014.“Those experiences I’m going to carry with me and use them to my advantage just to make myself a better football player,” said Hurst of the seven starts he made in his first NFL season. “It’s a huge offseason after your rookie year. You know really what you need to work on to be a better pro.”last_img read more