The Baltimore Ravens are feeling confident and well-rested after
their week off, with several injured players hoping they’ll be back
on the field this weekend.
Meanwhile, with Mario Williams lost for the season and Matt
Schaub also hurting, the Houston Texans are probably wishing they
were entering their bye week.
The Ravens will try to stay unbeaten against the visiting Texans
on Sunday as they go for their third straight win overall.
Baltimore (3-1) entered its bye week following a 34-17 win over
the New York Jets on Oct. 2. In another impressive defensive
display, the Ravens limited New York to 150 yards of total offense
and forced four turnovers.
Baltimore is holding opponents to an NFL-low 14.3 points per
game, and ranks third in total yards allowed per game (284.5) and
second against the rush (72.5).
“We can be special, but it all depends on where we go from
here,” linebacker Terrell Suggs said. “We can’t take any steps back
because that’s not how championship teams are built. Not in this
league. You’ve got to make the momentum snowball.”
Although the defense isn’t expected to get first-round draft
pick Jimmy Smith back this week from a high ankle sprain, the
injury news is better on offense with guard Ben Grubbs (right toe)
and receiver Lee Evans (left ankle) hoping to go.
Both Grubbs and Evans were being cautious this week, though,
saying they were day-to-day. Evans, in his first season with the
Ravens after seven with Buffalo, is off to a slow start. He caught
two passes for 45 yards before missing the last two games.
“It’s frustrating,” Evans said. “I’ve never been in this
situation before. The goal is to play without being hampered.”
Baltimore has scored 34 points or more in three of its first
four games, but quarterback Joe Flacco has completed less than 50
percent of his passes in two contests and didn’t throw a touchdown
pass in the win over the Jets.
Flacco, whose 243.3 passing yards per game rank 18th in the
league, will look to exploit a Texans (3-2) defense that could be
down after losing Williams for the season to a torn pectoral
Williams, who moved from defensive end to linebacker for 2011,
was making quick progress in his new role, recording five sacks and
a forced fumble before the getting hurt during last Sunday’s 25-20
loss to Oakland.
“You’re never going to replace a guy like Mario,” linebacker
Brian Cushing said. “At the same time, it’s the ‘next guy up’
Rookie Brooks Reed, a second-round draft pick who had four
tackles last week, is expected to move into Williams’ spot in the
“It’s a great opportunity here in his young career to step up
and be a starter,” coach Gary Kubiak said. “That’s why we drafted
him. (He’s) very capable of doing it. He’ll get his opportunity
Star receiver Andre Johnson also isn’t expected to play this
weekend for Houston. He’s missed the last two games with a
hamstring injury, leaving Schaub without his favorite target.
The Texans acquired veteran Derrick Mason from the Jets this
week to help add depth to the receiving corps. Mason, who had spent
the previous six seasons in Baltimore, made little impact in five
games with New York, totaling 13 catches for 115 yards.
“He’s been very effective in this league, and we feel like we
can catch him up really fast,” Kubiak said. “That was a big
Johnson’s injury isn’t the only concern on offense. Schaub is
dealing with a sore shoulder and a thigh bruise and missed practice
Fullback James Casey (strained pectoral muscle) and right guard
Mike Brisiel (ankle and knee) left last Sunday’s game and their
status for this week is uncertain.
All of those injuries will continue to place the burden of the
offense on Arian Foster, who rushed for 68 yards and had 116 yards
receiving last weekend in his second game back from a hamstring
Houston has never defeated Baltimore in four meetings. The
Ravens won 34-28 in overtime last December despite blowing a
21-point lead on the road.