Back in 2011, the Baltimore Ravens rarely spread out defenses, using three wide receivers one-quarter of the time. What a difference a couple of years make.
According to The Baltimore Sun's Matt Vensel, the Ravens have gone with three-receiver sets 63.6 percent of the time. In the loss at Pittsburgh, the Ravens used three-wide on 55 of their 61 offensive plays. In last Sunday's loss at Cleveland, Baltimore lined up in three-wide on 64 of its 67 offensive plays.
As The Sun pointed out, the player hurt the most in this change has been fullback Vonta Leach, who has played just 14 snaps in the past two games. But reduced playing time hasn't cost Leach. Based on his $840,000 salary, Leach earned $7,058 per play against the Steelers and Browns.
I advocated the Ravens spreading out defenses before they relied on it so heavily the past two games. The reason is that coach John Harbaugh always stresses that the Ravens will put the best 11 offensive players on the field, and that includes the No. 2 and No. 3 receivers Marlon Brown and Jacoby Jones.
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The Ravens still feel they are one breakout game away from going on a run similar to last season, according to the team's official website. “Any one of these games can be the one where it finally clicks for us and we start playing like we know we can,” linebacker Terrell Suggs said. "We’re just holding onto that.”
Left guard A.Q. Shipley isn't guaranteed a starting spot the rest of the way, but Comcast SportsNet believes it's his job to lose. “I felt really good,” Shipley said. “I’m sure I got beat at times, and I think there’s obviously a lot to improve upon, but for the first time really starting at guard, I think it was pretty solid.”
Safety James Ihedigbo neither confirmed nor denied receiving "pain" chips (which aren't banned by the NFL) from the same man who said he supplied Ray Lewis with deer-antler spray. "I personally have never done anything, never failed a drug test or anything of that manner that would put myself or my team in jeopardy," Ihedigbo told The Baltimore Sun.
Rookie defensive end Kapron Lewis-Moore returned to practice Wednesday, his first with the Ravens since tearing his anterior cruciate ligament while playing in the BCS national title game for Notre Dame in January. The Ravens have three weeks to decide whether to place the sixth-round pick on the active roster or keep him on the non-football injury list for the remainder of the season. "I feel like I'm pretty ready," Lewis-Moore told The Baltimore Sun. "My progress is going good. My rehab is going great. My leg feels great. My big thing is knocking some rust off and I'm excited."