Le’Veon Bell‘s Ravens debut could be coming soon. The team elevated the former All-Pro running back to its active roster Saturday, doing so while placing Derek Wolfe on IR.
Amid a brutal run of injuries at running back, the Ravens worked out Bell shortly before Week 1 and signed him to their practice squad. Baltimore promoted Devonta Freeman ahead of the ex-Steelers star but now will have Bell on its active roster as well in Week 4.
Bell joins Freeman, Ty’Son Williams and Latavius Murray on Baltimore’s 55-man Week 4 roster. Teams can dress up to 48 players each week. The Ravens have gone with a committee approach at running back, using Williams and Murray mostly. Freeman has seen sporadic work behind the team’s top duo.
To label Bell’s past three-plus years as underwhelming would be quite the understatement. Following Bell’s 2018 full-season holdout, the lucrative Jets deal he inked failed spectacularly. The Jets dropped Bell midway through last season. While the Chiefs picked him up, Bell saw scant action in the playoffs and was a healthy scratch for both the AFC championship game and Super Bowl LV. The Ravens extended the two-time All-Pro another chance, however, and Bell will likely soon begin his age-29 season.
Wolfe has not played this season and will miss his Denver homecoming game. The eight-year Broncos starter signed with the Ravens in 2020 and played in 14 games, but back and hip injuries have sidelined him since August. The veteran defensive lineman will be out through at least Week 6.
September 24th, 2021 at 3:16pm CST by Sam Robinson
The Ravens look set to be without several key defenders against the Lions on Sunday. They placed three defensive starters on their reserve/COVID-19 list Friday.
Outside linebackers Justin Houston and Jaylon Ferguson join defensive linemen Brandon Williams and Justin Madubuike in landing on Baltimore’s coronavirus list. While differing protocols exist for vaccinated an unvaccinated players, Friday placements on the virus list leave teams in a bind. This quartet is set to miss Baltimore’s Week 3 game.
It is unclear which members, if any, of the group tested positive. Positive tests would jeopardize their availability for the Ravens’ Week 4 game against the Broncos. Regardless, this continues a brutal season for the Ravens on the availability front.
Baltimore is already without defensive end Derek Wolfe, having ruled out the veteran lineman due to a back injury. Williams has been a starter since 2014, while Madubuike — a 2020 third-round pick — played 49% of the Ravens’ defensive snaps in Week 2.
Houston, 32, has started both Baltimore’s games, lining up opposite Tyus Bowser. The Ravens do have first-round pick Odafe Oweh and Bowser set to be available. Pernell McPhee‘s status is uncertain due to a shoulder injury that prevented him from practicing Friday. Houston, who managed to avoid injuries during both his Colts seasons, will miss his first game since the 2018 season. The veteran edge rusher does not have a sack yet this season but obviously serves as a key player for a Ravens team that let Matt Judon and Yannick Ngakoue walk in free agency.
Baltimore withstood its numerous injuries to upend Kansas City on Sunday night, but the AFC power’s lineup will be filled with backups in Detroit. The team will again be without left tackle Ronnie Stanley on Sunday as well, ruling the All-Pro blocker out due to an ankle injury.
The Ravens now have 20 players on their reserve/COVID-19 list. A day after practice squad tackle Will Holden‘s positive COVID-19 test, Baltimore now has nearly a third of its active-roster/P-squad players on the coronavirus list.
Beyond Holden, it is not known if any of the other players involved in these latest COVID-related roster moves tested positive for COVID-19. But the timing of Holden’s positive test could make each of the four additional non-IR players included here unavailable for Tuesday’s game against the Steelers. Should the Ravens’ virus list expand much further, the NFL will have to postpone this game beyond Week 12.
The league has pushed this game back twice already. A third time would almost certainly mean triggering one of the two contingency plans. A makeup Week 18 window is believed to be the league’s Plan B, with Plan C being the 16-team playoff bracket that would stem from canceled regular-season games. Plan C going into effect would mean the first unbalanced NFL regular season (in terms of games played) since 1935.
Tyler Boyd‘s new extension will impact the ongoing extension talks between the Bengals and A.J. Green, as The Athletic’s Jay Morrison writes. Still, for what it’s worth, director of player personnel Duke Tobin says that they are separate matters. “It’s not an either/or. It’s a both,” Tobin said. “And we’ll see where we can go with the other. We would like to retain both of them, and we will work to do that and see what we can get done as we go here. It’s nice when you are not the only good receiver on a football team, it helps you. Tyler has been great in that he’s really versatile for us, and he can play a number of different positions. They are different-style guys for our game, and they complement each other well. So whether (Boyd’s) No. 1 or No. 2 or whatever, he’s a good football player and he’s been rewarded for that.”
Ferguson is more high profile than your typical third round pick. He was one of the most productive pass-rushers in recent college football history, and put up absurd numbers at Louisiana Tech. For a while there was talk that Ferguson would go as high as the first round, but he ended up tumbling to 85th overall. In his senior season with the Bulldogs Ferguson racked up an eye-popping 26.5 tackles for loss, including 17.5 sacks.
Ferguson was at the center of some controversy a few months back when he had his invitation to the combine rescinded. Ferguson was banned from the combine after a background check revealed he was convicted of simple battery during his freshman year. It was reported at the time that teams didn’t view his incident as particularly serious, and he was eventually allowed to participate in interviews at the combine, although he wasn’t allowed to do any drills or on-field work.
With Ferguson now in the fold, the Ravens now have only two unsigned draft picks left. First round pick Marquise Brown and third-rounder Miles Boykin still have yet to agree to terms. The Ravens lost Terrell Suggs and Za’Darius Smith in free agency, so they have a lot of pass-rushing production to replace. They’ll be counting on Ferguson to help fill some of that void.
A fifth team emerged on Nick Bosa‘s pre-draft schedule. The Buccaneers will host the impact edge rusher prospect, according to Albert Breer of SI.com. Bosa will have dinner with Bucs representatives on Sunday night and stay in Tampa for a Monday visit. The Ohio State-honed defender met with the Cardinals and Giants last week and has 49ers and Raiders meetings on his agenda. But a Florida trip will follow. It appears next to impossible Bosa falls to the Bucs at No. 5, so the only way Tampa Bay likely would be in position to land him would be through a trade-up scenario.
Here is the latest from the draft, staying with the Bucs:
Having visited with LSU linebacker Devin White, the Bucs’ interest has appeared to have increased. The Bucs “love” White, Breer adds, and the off-ball ‘backer has been rumored to have climbed into potential top-five consideration. No non-rush linebacker has gone off the board in the top five since Aaron Curry 10 years ago. Tampa Bay saw Kwon Alexander defect to San Francisco, creating a need here. But No. 5 overall is quite the perch to take an off-ball linebacker.
A sixth team scheduled a Montez Sweat summit. The Bengals brought in the Mississippi State-developed defensive end on Monday night, Alex Marvez of Sirius XM Radio tweets. He has already met with or is scheduled to visit the 49ers, Raiders, Bills, Packers and Bucs. Sweat blazed to a 4.41-second 40-yard dash at the Combine and seems likely to go off the board in the top 10.
Staying on the subject of draft-eligible ends, Jaylon Ferguson‘s extensive April tour of NFL cities continues. Among the teams on his reported 22-visit tour: the Bills, Giants, Colts, Eagles, Cowboys, Titans and Rams, per NFL.com’s Tom Pelissero (on Twitter). Ferguson met with the Bills on Monday; he will head southeast for his Giants powwow next. His visits with the Colts and Eagles are on tap for this week, with the Cowboys, Titans and Rams meetings are slated for next week. The Bucs and Bengals were already on the Louisiana Tech-produced pass rusher’s docket.
This year’s wide receiver hierarchy has not produced a clear-cut favorite, D.K. Metcalf‘s take-notice measurables notwithstanding. One of the top pass-catching prospects, N’Keal Harry, joined Ferguson in meeting with the Bills on Monday, Pelissero tweets. Upcoming for the Arizona State alum this week: visits with the Eagles, Patriots and Saints. Harry rates as the No. 4 receiver prospect — behind Marquise Brown, Metcalf and A.J. Brown — per NFL.com’s Daniel Jeremiah. Harry met with the Seahawks last week.
One of the second-tier defensive tackle prospects, Jerry Tillery remains in recovery from shoulder labrum surgery. But he traveled to New Orleans on Monday for a pre-draft Saints visit, Pelissero adds (via Twitter). The Notre Dame product is not expected to participate in OTAs but may be on track for training camp. The 6-foot-7, 305-pound prospect profiles as late-Day 1/early-Day 2 pick. By virtue of 2018 trades, the Saints hold just one pick in the first four rounds — No. 62 overall.
The Jets also parted with extensive draft capital in 2018, in order to land Sam Darnold. As a result, they continue to be mentioned as a team ready to trade down. Gang Green “badly” wants to trade out of the No. 3 slot, Breer notes. The Jets surrendered what became the No. 34 overall pick to the Colts last year, and the Mike Maccagnan-led front office wants to collect a second-round pick via trade.
Louisiana Tech-produced edge prospect Jaylon Ferguson will have one of the busiest Aprils on tap for any NFL hopeful in memory. He is set to meet with 22 teams this month, according to Jenna Laine of ESPN.com. The Bengals and Buccaneers are two of the teams who have requested summits. Those visits will occur this week, per Laine. Ferguson set the Division I-FBS sack record with 47 in his four-year run with the Bulldogs, accumulating 67.5 tackles for loss in the process. But a simple battery conviction, stemming from a fight at a McDonald’s during his freshman year, resulted in a partial ban from the Combine. Teams are looking to examine Ferguson more thoroughly.
Here is the latest from the draft world:
While Nick Bosa is expected to be the first defensive player off the board, Quinnen Williams has been looming as a potential top-three pick as well. The Alabama interior defender met with the 49ers on Monday night, Tom Pelissero of NFL.com tweets, adding a Raiders summit is up next for the high-end D-line prospect. Holding the No. 3 overall pick, the Jets figure to also be in play for Williams. Both Bay Area teams, however, are doing extensive work on this class’ top defenders.
Another possible top-10 defensive line pick, Rashan Gary spent time in Jacksonville on Tuesday, per Pelissero (on Twitter). The Jaguars visit represents one of many for the Michigan-developed defensive lineman. He was already mentioned as a 49ers, Raiders and Bengals top-30 visit. Gary finished his Wolverines career with just 9.5 sacks, but the 6-foot-4 defender carries elite measureables — including a 4.58 40-yard dash — that have him projected as one of the top players available.
While the Jaguars may have erred in not using their most recent top-10 pick to take either Patrick Mahomes or Deshaun Watson in 2017, and instead rolling with Blake Bortles for two more seasons, they are understandably not connected to this year’s crop of draft-eligible quarterbacks. The team that gave Nick Foles $50MM guaranteed, however, did do “a ton” of work on these passing prospects during the 2018 college football season, Albert Breer of SI.com notes. While Breer mentions the Jags as a team that could be a stealth quarterback suitor at No. 7 overall, that would certainly be an interesting use of offseason resources.
After meeting with the Cowboys, safety prospect Johnathan Abram will trek to Arizona for a Cardinals powwow, Calvin Watkins of The Athletic tweets. Abram is this class’ top safety, per NFL.com’s Daniel Jeremiah. The Mississippi State alum, who began his career at Georgia, notched two interceptions and three sacks last season. He also made nine tackles for loss. The Cardinals’ second pick comes at No. 33.
Jackson writes that Dolphins defensive line coach Marion Hobby recently gave a private workout to Louisiana Tech lineman Jaylon Ferguson, who has been graded as a second-round pick. The Dolphins have also scheduled visits with TCU’s L.J. Collier and Old Dominion’s Oshane Ximines, a pair of players who are also expected to be selected in the second or third round. Miami is currently armed with one second-rounder and one third-rounder: the 48th-overall pick and 78th-overall pick, respectively.
It sounds like the Dolphins may even consider opting for a defensive end in the first round, where they’re currently holding the 13th pick. Jackson notes that the team has also shown interest in Clemson defensive end Clelin Ferrell, FSU’s Brian Burns, and Mississippi State defensive end Montez Sweat. If the Dolphins want Sweat, it might require a trade, as the lineman is currently projected to go in the top-10.