Ravens will rely on defense as offense adjusts without Yanda
BALTIMORE (AP) The Baltimore Ravens continue to play smart and aggressively on defense, a trait that probably won’t change anytime soon.
Despite forcing 10 turnovers in two games, including five in 24-10 win over Cleveland on Sunday, the unit isn’t satisfied.
”We’ve got a good thing going,” said newcomer Brandon Carr, who has two interceptions, ”and we’re going to try to get better every day.”
The offense, however, is going to have to make quite an adjustment without six-time Pro Bowl guard Marshal Yanda, who broke his ankle in the third quarter and is lost for the season.
”It’s definitely going to hurt,” tight end Benjamin Watson said. ”The train never stops, but emotionally, when a guy like that goes down, it’s tough to move forward. But the reality is, we have games we’re going to play.”
Fortunately for the Ravens, the defense is doing just fine. Coming off a season-opening shutout of Cincinnati, Baltimore became only the third team since the 1970 NFL merger with at least four interceptions in each of its first two games.
Next up for Baltimore (2-0) is a trip to London to face Jacksonville. The Browns, meanwhile, hope to get their first win in Indianapolis.
Cleveland (0-2) is trying to work its way toward respectability behind quarterback DeShone Kizer, a rookie out of Notre Dame who’s had mixed success in his first two outings.
After playing well in defeat at home against Pittsburgh, he went 15 for 31 with three interceptions and a lost fumble in his first NFL road game.
Not only that, but Kizer missed four series with a migraine headache.
”Kizer does have a history of migraines,” coach Hue Jackson explained. ”He was fine, he was totally cleared. That’s why I put him back in.”
Cleveland scored all its points while backup Kevin Hogan was in the game, but the Browns are committed to Kizer as they move forward.
”Coach Jackson has been real good to me,” Kizer said. ”I have to do everything I can to learn what I need to do better.”
Some things we learned about the Browns and Ravens:
MACLIN TOUGH: Ravens wide receiver Jeremy Maclin showed his toughness by returning after receiving treatment for a right shoulder injury. He had four catches for 31 yards and a touchdown, his second in two games with Baltimore. Maclin caught a 2-yarder in the end zone as time ran out in the first half.
”As a player, that’s something you always want to do. You always want to go for it,” he said.
SEIZE THE DAY: Wide receiver Rashard Higgins, elevated by the Browns from the practice squad lasts week, made the most of his opportunity. He was targeted 11 times and made seven receptions for 95 yards – all team highs.
Jackson said a good week of practice earned Higgins the promotion. On a team in transition, a good week of practice can be quite a springboard.
”I practice like I play,” Higgins said. ”I worked my (butt) off to get back on the 53-man roster.”
SPEED IT UP: Jackson can live with the occasional inefficient changes between a rookie quarterback and his center. But he won’t tolerate the two delay-of-game penalties that were assessed against the Browns, miscues the coach thinks could have been avoided.
The solution? Quicker huddles and a more expedient path to the line of scrimmage. Asked how to fix the problem, Jackson replied: ”Coaching.”
Ravens rookie linebacker Tyus Bowser made the most of extended playing time against the Browns.
Coming off a solid performance at Cincinnati, the second-round pick out of Houston had his first career interception and a sack in his home debut.
”I took advantage of the opportunity,” he said. ”I’m just happy to be productive and help this team win.”
The Ravens will practice at their training complex this week before leaving for London on Thursday.
”We know why we’re there,” linebacker C.J. Mosley said. ”It will be a fun experience, but it will be a business trip.”
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