Late For Work 8/2: Ravens Gave Big Ben Minor Rotator Cuff Tear

Offense is Ravens’ strength. Cundiff’s job not written in stone. Payne a blue-collar worker.

Posted by Sarah Ellison on Thursday, August 2nd, 2012 at 9:13 am | Categories: Late For Work, Sarah Ellison

Ravens Gave Big Ben Minor Rotator Cuff Tear

Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger revealed to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette yesterday that he has a “little torn rotator cuff.”

Interestingly enough, the injury was sustained while playing none other than the Ravens during the Nov. 6 showdown at Heinz Field.

The obvious question is whether the slight tear will affect Roethlisberger’s play this season. The Steelers and Ravens won’t clash until Week 11, but Big Ben is the heart of the Steelers team and if he isn’t 100 percent, it could affect their (and the Ravens’) standings in the AFC North.

But Big Ben insists he is fine.

“I’m good. It’s OK, just sore,” he told the newspaper. “I have a little torn rotator cuff. That doesn’t heal. We just have to hope it doesn’t tear the rest of the way, according to Doc.”

The 30-year-old quarterback said he does throw less during the walk-though portion of practice, but that is part of a planned regimen as he enters his ninth NFL season.

“It’s part of getting older, too,” Roethlisberger said. “If you watch walk-throughs, I used to throw all the time. Now it’s just backing off. Now I don’t ever throw during walk-throughs. It’s less throwing; I think that’s smart anyway. As you get older, you just need to take care of yourself whether you’re hurt or not.”

Even though Roethlisberger appears more concerned about his top receiver Mike Wallace rejoining the team, news (and worry) about the slight rotator cuff tear quickly spread.

ESPN’s Tim Hasselbeck and Jason Taylor believe the chatter has been exaggerated and believe Big Ben is fine at this point.

Taylor says that if it was that big of a deal, Roethlisberger wouldn’t have revealed anything about the injury and the team would have decided to get it fixed during the offseason. Hasselbeck, a former NFL quarterback, explains there’s a big difference between a slight and true tear.

“Ben has a history of talking about injuries. I get the sense here that this has been blown maybe a little bit out of proportion,” he said. “The issue is if it’s causing you a lot of pain and I don’t know that that’s the case. …

“If you have a true rotator cuff [injury] in your quarterback, you’re not throwing. You shut it down. Then you try to [alleviate] any type of inflammation you have in your shoulder to see if you can throw again without any discomfort. Until they shut him down completely, I wouldn’t worry about it if I’m a Steelers fan.”

Hensley: Offense Will Be Ravens’ Strength In 2012

ESPN blogger Jamison Hensley predicts the Steelers will be the best team in the division in 2012, pushing the Ravens down the list because they will miss reigning Defensive Player of the Year Terrell Suggs.

The absence of Suggs is so big in Hensley’s mind that he would have pushed Baltimore to third place in the standings if it weren’t for one thing:

The rising strength of the offense.

“I think [the offense is] the only way they still remain the No. 2 [team],” Hensley said on The Scott Van Pelt Show.

“Not only with the loss of Suggs, but with the age of Ed Reed and Ray Lewis, I think the Ravens defense falls further down than the Pittsburgh [defense]. For them to remain a No. 2 team in this division, and a playoff one, this is the year for Joe Flacco.”

The Ravens are already on record as saying they think they can be a top-5 offense. With Flacco entering his fifth season, an emerging tight end duo, a promising receiving corps and one of the best running backs in the league, the unit looks to have a big year ahead.

“Everyone knows about Ray Rice being the centerpiece of this offense and that’s what makes this offense a good one,” said Hensley. “But for this offense to be one of the better ones and go into the top half of the league and win games for this Ravens team, it all rests on Joe Flacco and I think he has it in him.”

Hensley is still concerned about Flacco’s consistency during the season. He had big-time games against playoff teams like the Steelers and Texans, but also turned in sub-par performances against losing teams like the Jaguars and Seahawks.

“[B]ut in the playoffs I really do think he showed that promise,” Hensley said. “I think that’s why the expectations are higher this year is because he put the Ravens in position to take them to the Super Bowl.”

Cundiff’s Job Not Written In Stone

The Ravens would have liked a veteran to come to training camp and challenge the incumbent Billy Cundiff for their kicking job.

But their invitations were turned down. Perhaps the invited kickers thought the AFC’s 2010 Pro Bowl kicker would wind up keeping his starting role once the season-opener rolls around. Thus, it makes sense for analysts to hold the same opinion.

But there is a chance, a small chance, he could be unseated, says CSNBaltimore.com’s John Eisenberg.

“I think it’s still Billy Cundiff’s job, but that’s not written in stone,” the columnist told WNST. “It’s interesting to watch this playing out on a daily basis at training camp. This kid Justin Tucker has a huge leg and you just watch it every day. He’s just blasting.”

Tucker is ahead in the kicking count. He went 7-for-7 yesterday, including a 44-yarder in a simulated overtime period. That brings his total to 35-of-37 after one week of training camp practices. Meanwhile Cundiff has missed six attempts thus far.

The undrafted rookie free agent kicker out of Texas is a good challenger, but are the Ravens willing to take a risk on an unknown commodity with no NFL experience?

“In the year that you think you have a shot to go to the Super Bowl and you go with a rookie kicker, that is bold,” Eisenberg said. “I think in the long run they are going to have a hard time pulling the trigger on that.

“One is going to have to be clearly better than the other. I mean Tucker is just going to have to really be a lot better, and even then it will be a gamble because you’re not going to know about anything. Exhibition game kicks don’t matter. Let’s see what happens in November.”

WR Payne A Blue-Collar Worker

Who is wide receiver Logan Payne?

Fans have been asking about him after he Ravens signed the 27-year-old just last week. He is already creating a buzz with a ‘circus-like’ touchdown grab in practice and several more catches in traffic.

In the CSNBaltimore.com video below, Payne, who hasn’t been able to show off his ability as injuries have plagued his NFL career, describes himself as a blue-collar worker and is just trying to stick out in a crowded competition at the wide receiver position.

Quick Hits

  • Matt Vensel overheard this fun line at practice yesterday: “‘We’ve got no damn pass rush and you’re pump-faking like Jordan out there,’ cornerback Cary Williams said to quarterback Curtis Painter, who was hanging onto the ball too long in 7-on-7 drills.” [The Baltimore Sun]
  • @mattvensel: There were a few good one-liners. “BP, you working today, sucka?” — Ed Reed to Bernard Pollard, who was sitting out a few plays.
  • @mattvensel: “That’s not intentional grounding! Don’t just throw a flag because Ray Lewis cried!” — Bobbie Williams, who is fitting in well here.
  • Good to hear encouraging words from Reed after he called out Flacco during the playoffs … @RavensInsider: Ed Reed on Joe Flacco: ‘He is a totally different guy. He’s more in command. He has grown. He’s a lot calmer and cooler. He’s a fighter.’
  • @Ravens: In other practice notes, Terrence Cody put a big hit on RB Anthony Allen today. Harbs: “They thudded pretty good.”
  • “[Birk's] absence from three straight practices this week does raise questions about whether he is fully healthy,” wrote Eisenberg. “He underwent surgery to repair varicose veins in June. There was no indication that Birk had any injury problems when he met with reporters last week.” [CSNBaltimore.com]
  • Former Ravens running back Jamal Lewis was arrested and charged with child abandonment Tuesday night. [Atlanta Journal-Constitution]
  • Even though it is early in training camp, and Head Coach John Harbaugh said defensive tackle Haloti Ngata’s return from a hamstring injury is close, Kevin Cowherd believes Ngata’s conditioning is at least cause for some concern. [The Baltimore Sun]

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