Who’s Playing, Who’s Not vs. Titans

Ben Grubbs will be a gameday decision; Lee Evans will play; Chris Carr is out.

Posted by Ryan Mink on Friday, September 16th, 2011 at 3:44 pm | Categories: Ryan Mink, Week 2 at Titans

Grubbs Is A Gameday Decision

On the heels of a dominant offensive line performance against the Steelers, the Ravens could be missing the services of starting left guard Ben Grubbs.

Grubbs hasn’t practiced all week due to a toe injury, and Head Coach John Harbaugh said Grubbs will be a gameday decision.

Grubbs is listed as doubtful on Friday’s final injury report, meaning there’s a 25 percent chance that he’ll play.

“It’s getting better; it’s not serious,” Harbaugh said. “But there’s no guarantee that he can play. I’m pretty confident he will play, but we’ll just have to see.”

Grubbs hasn’t missed a game during his five-year career with the Ravens and has a streak of 61 straight starts. He played through an ankle injury last season and countless other ailments over the years.

“Today’s rehab and treatment was really big. I made some really big steps,” Grubbs said Friday.

“When people hear a toe they’re like, ‘Oh, that’s nothing.’ Even though it’s a small part of your body, it’s a huge part in running around, pushing off and blocking – especially for my position. This is my first time experiencing this. You just hope, God willing, that I’ll be able to play.”

Neither Harbaugh nor Grubbs were too concerned with the prospect of him playing without having practiced this week. The two-time Pro Bowl alternate has been rehabbing the toe while still doing all the classroom work, studying film and taking mental reps.

However, Baltimore is prepared if it needs to go in another direction.

The Ravens could turn to guard/tackle Bryan Mattison, tackle Mark LeVoir (who played guard in the Ravens’ final preseason game) or perhaps slide center Andre Gurode to his left.

Gurode said he played some guard during his rookie season, but on the right side.

“It’s something that we’ve been working on, and if the team needs me, then I’ll come in and play,” Gurode said.

Carr Is Out, Cornerback Depth Tested

The Ravens will be without two cornerbacks Sunday in Tennessee.

Rookie Jimmy Smith is out a few weeks with a high ankle sprain suffered on last week’s opening kickoff. Carr, who had his hamstring “grab” during the Steelers game, was also ruled out Friday.

“We don’t want a hamstring tear in there,” Harbaugh said Monday. “That’s why we have shut him down pretty quick whenever he starts to have an issue with it.”

That means Cary Williams, Lardarius Webb, Domonique Foxworth, and rookie Chykie Brown are the Ravens’ only healthy cornerbacks.

That could also mean that Brown, the 5-foot-11 fifth-round pick, has a better chance of being activated after sitting last Sunday. He can also contribute as a special teamer.

Harbaugh did say Brown “has a ways to go” in learning the defense and the fundamentals of the game, but has showed “marked improvement” in those areas.

“I think if you put Chykie out there right now, physically he’d be able to handle it,” Harbaugh said. “It’s just a matter of getting better every single day at the details of the game.”

Safety Haruki Nakamura is also another option. He adequately stepped in as a nickel cornerback last Sunday when the Ravens had just two corners. Williams briefly went to the sidelines with cramps.

Nakamura spent a good amount of last year expanding his game to be able to play cornerback, but hadn’t played there during this preseason due to the position’s depth. But he feels confident that he can help if needed.

“Even during training camp I was mentally preparing for situations like this,” Nakamura said. “As a safety, you have to know everything the nickel does because safety and nickel are basically the same position. That’s one of the main reasons why it was such a smooth transition.”

The Ravens could also use safety Bernard Pollard or safety Tom Zbikowski to help fill in.

Evans Will Play

Wide receiver Lee Evans practiced for the second straight day and will play, according to Harbaugh.

Evans sat out Wednesday’s practice and was wearing a boot on his ankle. The Ravens are trying to give it as much rest as possible while still allowing him to play.

“Hopefully it will continue to get better and better and better,” Harbaugh said. “He’s got a little pain in his foot, but it’s not anything he can hurt any worse by playing or practicing. We’re monitoring it and working on it. He’s doing OK.”

The veteran didn’t record any catches in his debut, but was credited with stretching Pittsburgh’s defense. He said he’ll still be able to run at top speed on the field.

“That’s what you’ve got to be able to do,” Evans said. “You don’t want to be out there hobbling around. If I can go, then I want to make sure I can go and play effective.”

Will Kindle, Doss Be Activated?

The Ravens would like to get outside linebacker Sergio Kindle and wide receiver Tandon Doss on the field after both were inactive last week against the Steelers.

However, there are a number of factors at play.

This week, David Reed’s return from suspension, injuries at cornerback and the threat of defending against Titans running back Chris Johnson could impact the last few of 46 spots.

Last week, the Ravens kept undrafted rookie LaQuan Williams active. It seems to be a battle between he and Doss, which is also impacted by their special teams contributions.

Harbaugh said Doss would need to be among the top five, or perhaps four, wideouts to be active.

“He’s doing very well. He’s practicing very well, he’s learning the offense, he’s growing,” Harbaugh said of Doss. “He’s definitely good enough to play. It’s just a case of either/or.”

Kindle said he feels his chances of being activated this week are better, but deferred to the coaches.

“He can help us; there’s no doubt about it,” Harbaugh said Monday. “We’d like to have him up, but right now we just don’t have the spot. He’s just got to continue to improve and grow as a player. I’m certain he’ll have an impact before long.”

For The Titans…

Titans starting safety Chris Hope is doubtful with a shoulder injury, which could open up more possibilities in the Ravens’ passing game.

Defensive end Williams Hayes (shoulder) and wide receiver Damien Williams (hamstring) are questionable.

Check out the full injury report here.

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