OWINGS MILLS – Not getting the production envisioned from veteran wide receiver Lee Evans and cornerback Domonique Foxworth due to injuries, Baltimore Ravens coach John Harbaugh acknowledged that both players might be rested if they don’t start getting the job done.
Evans has been dealing with a left ankle injury since the third game of the preseason and hasn’t displayed the kind of explosiveness the Ravens hoped for. A year after tearing the anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee, Foxworth has recovered slowly and isn’t making plays on the football while taking a cautious approach.
Evans caught two passes for 45 yards Sunday during a 26-13 loss to the Tennessee Titans after being shut out against the Pittsburgh Steelers to open the season, but failed to prevent an interception on an underthrown Joe Flacco pass..
“There’s no doubt about it; it’s affecting him,” coach John Harbaugh said. “We’re going to have to take a real hard look at that. If he can do the things that we need him to do, he’ll play. If he can’t, he won’t play. We’ve been nursing this thing now for a month, and I don’t see it getting a lot better. So, either he can play like we need him to or he can’t.
“Same thing goes for Domonique Foxworth, either he can play or he can’t. If they can’t play the type of football we need them to play, because they’re injured, no fault of their own, these guys are gutting it out, then they’re going to have to sit for a while and get healthy.”
After the game, Evans’ left foot was in a bucket of ice.
"I can’t say I’m 100 percent," Evans said. "I’m giving it what I got."
Foxworth looked extremely vulnerable against the Titans as wide receiver Kenny Britt caught a career-high nine passes for 135 yards and a touchdown.
The Ravens are already playing without cornerbacks Jimmy Smith (left high-ankle sprain) and Chris Carr (left hamstring). So, Foxworth has been thrust into a larger role earlier than anticipated.
Foxworth has said his knee is improving after complaining of stiffness and discomfort during the preseason.
“It’s technique, but it might be because of the knee,” Harbaugh said. “I can’t answer that. Only Domonique can say, and I don’t think he feels like it’s 100 percent. He’s said that before, and it’s definitely showing up in the way he’s playing.
“He’s playing very, very conservatively. He knows, we all know, we’ve just got to get that thing right if that’s what it is.”
D. REED OUT: Wide receiver and kick returner David Reed will be out for three to six weeks with a separated left shoulder, a magnetic resonance imaging exam revealed.
Reed is going to get a second opinion.
“Probably three weeks,” Harbaugh said. “I don’t know. I’m not a doctor, but I play one at press conferences. That’s what it normally is.”
Reed got hurt covering a kickoff while positioned unusually close to the middle of the coverage unit for a small wide receiver.
"It’s an AC joint, I never even got injured before I got to the NFL, and now I’ve got all these injuries," said Reed, who had offseason surgery to repair a torn ligament in his left wrist. "It’s not me. It’s very, very unfortunate."
Reed led the NFL with a 29.3 kickoff return average as a rookie and set a franchise record with a 103-yard kickoff return for a touchdown in an overtime win over the Houston Texans.
"I will do whatever I can to get back," Reed said. "I’m praying I’ll be back soon."
NO DEAL FOR NGATA: After trading contract proposals in August with Ravens franchise player Haloti Ngata, no deal is in the offing for the All-Pro defensive tackle heading into today’s NFL deadline.
Talks broke off after the two sides weren’t close on financial expectations. So, Ngata will play this season under a one-year, $12.476 million franchise tender.
Under NFL rules, teams had until this afternoon to sign franchise players to contract extensions or have to wait until the offseason.
“I’m worried about football right now, so I’m not involved in contract negotiations,” Harbaugh said. “Thanks for asking.”
FOURTH-DOWN CALL EXPLAINED: Trailing by 13 points in the fourth quarter, the Ravens had kicker Billy Cundiff kick a 29-yard field goal rather than attempt to score a touchdown on 4th-and-11.
So, the field goal only closed the gap to 10 points.
The Ravens were influenced by a delay of game penalty on third down followed by a Flacco incompletion to Anquan Boldin.
“The percentages aren’t really good,” Harbaugh said. “So, I figured, let’s get the three right here. We’ve got about seven minutes left. We have all our timeouts, kick it down there, try to get a stop, and we’ve got enough time. If it had been fourth-and-six at the goal, then you’re going for it.
“My thought was to go for it, but it got to be fourth-and-11. That was a little too desperate. You can probably make a case the other way, but I don’t know how better a case it would be.”
OHER FALSE STARTS ‘ILLOGICAL’: Harbaugh is tired of watching offensive tackle Michael Oher jump offsides.
Oher committed a pair of false starts against the Titans after being flagged for eight last season for a total of 11 penalties.
“Nobody more frustrated with it than Michael,” Harbaugh said. “There’s no reason for it. It’s illogical. It makes no sense. Michael Oher is a great athlete. There’s no quicker offensive tackle in football than Michael, so he doesn’t have to beat the snap count. And that’s got to stop.
“We’ve said it before, and my advice to Michael is basically just: ‘Slow down. Just slow down with your first set. When the ball is snapped, you’ll set. Nobody is running around you. They’re not going to run around you; you’re too quick.’ So, that’s something that we have to get done.”
QUIET START: Rookie wide receiver Torrey Smith has yet to catch a pass in two NFL games.
With Reed sidelined and Evans hampered with an injury, the Ravens need Smith to make some plays.
Against the Titans, the former University of Maryland star wasn’t targeted by Joe Flacco.
“He’s out there to contribute,” Harbaugh said. “Joe hasn’t gotten to him in read progression for whatever reason.. It’s not like we’re not throwing him the ball, because we don’t think he is ready. If we didn’t think he was ready to catch the ball and run with it, we certainly wouldn’t put him on the field. I want to see him make catches as much as anybody, especially downfield, because that’s what we brought him here to do. We just haven’t gotten to him yet with it.
“That’s something that’s really important; we need to do that. We need to push the ball up the field. This offense is designed to do it. We have done it in the past. We threw more ‘nine’ routes last year than anybody in the National Football League, but it’s not just throwing them, its completing them It’s making those plays downfield. That’s part of the reason he is here.”
Smith responded to his critics via his Twitter account Monday.
“I love how people try to put twitter and learning the playbook together,” he wrote. “haha our rookie wrs are smart just relax and let us grow.”
Fellow rookie wide receiver Tandon Doss hasn’t been utilized at all, inactive for the first two games.
“Torrey is going to be important, Tandon is going to be important, and LaQuan [Williams] is going to be a big part of it, too,” Harbaugh said. “They’re just going to have to step up and make plays for us.”
R. LEWIS REACHES MILESTONE: All-Pro middle linebacker Ray Lewis tackled running back Javon Ringer after he gained one yard in the third quarter.
It was a routine tackle, but it also pushed Lewis to 2,500 for his career. Tackles are an unofficial NFL statistic, but Lewis, 36, is the league’s current active leader.
“It’s just a credit of going out and giving it everything you’ve got year in and year out,” Lewis said. “Just try to stay as healthy as you can be and never stop loving the game. I never stopped loving it. If you are a true professional, you are going to prepare a certain way when you win and you are going to prepare the same way when you lose.
“That is a credit to me coming back every year in better shape than I was the year before, because I always like the journey and to see where the journey is going to end.”
QUICK HIT: The Ravens decided to go with Mark LeVoir at left guard instead of Andre Gurode with Ben Grubbs sidelined with a right toe injury.
Gurode has played guard in the past, but not recently.
“He’s been a center his whole career, he’s been a starting center,” Harbaugh said. “So, some of this stuff was different for him. The techniques, the angles were different, and that showed up in practice last week.
“That’s why we decided to play Mark at guard, and Mark did OK. I think Mark will get better, too. I think Andre is going to make a lot of progress real fast. He could be part of that equation real soon.”