Late For Work 9/9: Will Manning Return For Ravens Matchup?

Plus conflicting reports on CBs, Pagano restored swagger, and Evans a step up from Mason?

Posted by Sarah Ellison on Friday, September 9th, 2011 at 9:24 am | Categories: Late For Work, Sarah Ellison

Will Peyton Return For Ravens Matchup?

While this week’s focus is on dismantling quarterback Ben Roethlisberger and the Pittsburgh Steelers, news broke yesterday concerning another quarterback that has given the Ravens fits in the past.

Indianapolis Colts quarterback Peyton Manning underwent neck surgery yesterday morning, the third time in 19 months, and it is unknown whether he can return in time for a matchup vs. the Ravens in Week 14.

Although the Colts have decided not to put Manning on injured reserve at this point, the Associated Press reports he could miss the entire season.

The Colts announced there would be “no estimation of a return date at this time. We will keep Peyton on the active roster until we have a clear picture of his recovery process.”

Dr. Neel Anand, director of orthopedic spine surgery at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles, told SI.com’s Peter King that normal recovery time from a cervical fusion surgery is three to six months.

Sources told ESPN’s Chris Mortensen that Manning would need a minimum of 2-3 months of recovery. During that time, Kerry Collins will be taking the snaps.

With the Ravens and Colts scheduled to battle on Dec. 11, that would put Manning three months out from surgery. Thus, there is a chance the four-time MVP quarterback could be back.

Indianapolis has won eight straight games (including the playoffs) against the Ravens.

With Manning under center, Baltimore has only been victorious twice. The first was in 1998, Manning’s rookie season, when the Colts went 3-13. The second was in 2001 during a 6-10 losing season for Indianapolis.

Even if Manning does return by Week 14, the impact of his absence may already be felt in the AFC.

“Losing Manning for any stretch of time is a huge blow to the Colts,” wrote King.

Outside of the football implications, I wish Manning luck as he tries to recover. Neck surgery is serious, and you hope the best for him and his family.

Conflicting Reports On Starting CBs

With kickoff of the Ravens’ regular season just two days away, fans are anxiously awaiting results of the starting cornerback competition between Cary Williams, Jimmy Smith, Domonique Foxworth, Chris Carr and Lardarius Webb.

But the answer is still clouded.

“For those asking, yes, Jimmy Smith and Cary Williams are the Ravens’ starting cornerbacks for Sunday,” tweeted Ravens Insider Aaron Wilson yesterday afternoon.

Seven minutes later, however, this tweet came from The Baltimore Sun’s Jamison Hensley:

“For those asking, Cary Williams is only confirmed starting CB for Ravens. Other starter will be either Domonique Foxworth or Jimmy Smith.”

I guess Ravens fans will have to wait until the Steelers’ first offensive snap to know for sure. The good news is the Steelers will have to wait too.

When asked how the Ravens use their younger corners, Steelers Offensive Coordinator Bruce Arians said, “There are different reports to who might start and who might play. We are prepared for them. We know Dominique Foxworth and Chris Carr, and we will start to know those young guys a little more.”

Evans A Step Forward Or Back From Mason?

Up until now, I have mainly seen analysts praise the Ravens for bringing in the blazing fast Lee Evans.

For example, ESPN’s Mark Schlereth said this week, “I love what Baltimore did in the offseason.

“One thing offensively they haven’t had is speed at the wide receiver position, somebody who can stretch the field who can consistently produce at that spot. Well I think they have it now in Lee Evans.”

But three-time All-Pro safety and NBC Sports analyst Rodney Harrison doesn’t like the move to let Derrick Mason go and then trade for Evans.

“To give up Derrick Mason, they went back in terms of talent in that acquisition,” Harrison said, per The Baltimore Sun.

Fellow NBC analyst Cris Collinsworth responded, “If Lee Evans can give them a play every other game down the field, he could have a tremendous impact on this offense.”

“I think that’s where Baltimore went wrong,” Harrison said. “One play every other game is not enough to give up Derrick Mason for that guy. Derrick Mason was a fiery leader who was tough as nails who would block safeties on run plays. Even though he was a little older, he was catching balls down the field. I think they lost a huge chunk of their offense giving up Derrick Mason for Lee Evans.”

Part of the appeal of Evans is that he and Anquan Boldin complement each other well. Plus, Evans’ presence can open up other offensive weapons in a way that has never been seen in Baltimore.

That’s why ESPN’s James Walker picked Evans as the Ravens’ X-factor in winning Sunday.

“Pittsburgh and other teams often stacked the box against Baltimore’s offense,” wrote Walker. “Opponents didn’t respect the Ravens’ ability to throw deep. That’s where Evans can be a difference-maker.

“He has the speed to blow by defenders for long gains. If Evans makes a big play or two this weekend, that increases Baltimore’s chances against Pittsburgh.”

Murray: Pagano Has Restored Defensive Swagger

An aggressive mentality combined with a knack for creating relationships with players, Chuck Pagano was the perfect candidate for a “defensive renewal,” says The Baltimore Sun’s Ken Murray.

“Going into Sunday’s season opener against the Steelers, the defense will carry Pagano’s distinct fingerprints,” Murray wrote. “That is to say, the Ravens will be more aggressive, blitz more often and can be expected to raise the ante on quarterback discomfort. In one truncated training camp, Pagano has invigorated the defense by restoring its swagger and confidence.”

With that in mind, check out this defensive preview from CSNBaltimore.com’s John Eisenberg.

Quick Hits

  •  ”You’ll never guess the career highlight Roethlisberger most cherishes against the Ravens,” wrote Ron Cook. “Would you believe it’s his broken nose in the game in Baltimore last season?” [Pittsburgh-Post Gazette]
  • Special Teams Coach Jerry Rosburg wouldn’t reveal who would be running back kickoffs for the Ravens Sunday, but it appears undrafted rookie free agent LaQuan Williams will be returning punts. [CSNBaltimore.com]
  • AdamSchefter: Steelers and Ravens have met 18 times since 2003. Pittsburgh has won 10, but outscored Baltimore by only 7 points (333-326). [Twitter]
  • For all you Madden fans … Madden NFL 12 simulated the Ravens-Steelers Week 1 matchup and with seconds left in the fourth quarter, Roethlisberger overcame a 7-3 deficit by hitting receiver Mike Wallace for a touchdown-winning pass. [ESPN]
  • duffstar: Just walked by Ravens locker room. Madonna’s “Lucky Star” was blaring before practice. This has Terrell Suggs written all over it. Ha. [Twitter
  • 1WinningDrive: Interesting meeting today. Baltimore Colts RB and Hall of Famer Lenny Moore chatted with CB Jimmy Smith in the #Ravens players lounge [Twitter]
  • JasonLaCanfora: Wouldn’t be the least bit surprised if Troy Polamalu struck deal with PIT prior to kickoff Sun, and if they don’t then look for a deal to be done shortly after season ends. Both sides are dug in and working hard to make this happen. Don’t think they’ll even have 2 franchise him [Twitter]
  • RavensInsider: The Ravens have brokered an injury settlement with WR James Hardy, removing him from injured reserve. [Twitter]

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