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Ravens seek to add big plays to offense

(TSX / STATS) -- OWINGS MILLS, Md. -- One week after playing conservatively, the Baltimore Ravens might look to be more explosive on offense against the Cleveland Browns.

Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco, who missed the entire preseason with a back injury, did not take many chances in Week 1 against the Cincinnati Bengals, especially with an early lead. However, head coach John Harbaugh said Flacco is fully able to throw the ball downfield if needed, and those opportunities may arise in Week 2 in the home opener.

"We're going to have to be able to - and we're fully capable with the players we have, including Joe and the wide receivers - of throwing the ball all over the place if we have to do that to win the games," Harbaugh said. "So, we have to develop all parts of our game, really, in every phase."

Flacco had just a week to prepare for the Bengals because of the injury. He did a solid job managing the offense, completing 9 of 17 for 121 yards with a touchdown and interception. However, he didn't complete any of his three passes in the second half.

"If we're going to win a bunch of football games, we're going to need to do it a handful of different ways through the course of the season," Flacco said prior to Wednesday's practice. "But if we can win the way we did Sunday, there's no need to do anything else. It doesn't really matter to me. I just want to win."

The Ravens' defense completely dominated the Bengals.

With a 20-0 lead, Flacco spent most of the final two quarters handing the ball off to running backs Terrance West (19 carries 80 yards, one touchdown) and Buck Allen (21 carries, 71 yards). The Ravens hired Greg Roman as the senior offensive assistant/tight ends coach to help boost the running game, and so far, the results are encouraging.

"You can look back on it and think all that, but it's good to be able to run the ball in the second half, because if you're able to run the ball in the second half, you probably have the lead," Harbaugh said. "If you can run the ball well enough to keep the lead, or to extend the lead, that's the whole goal. You know? We're not trying to chase any kinds of stats or get anybody ready for next week. We're just trying to finish that game and win that game."

Baltimore, however, continues to be hampered by injuries. Since June 1, the Ravens have lost nine players to season-ending injuries. Both running back Danny Woodhead (hamstring) and linebacker Za'Darius Smith (knee) were injured in the opener and are out against the Browns.

The Ravens could face another challenge this week against Cleveland. Browns defensive coordinator Gregg Williams has put together a quick, hard-hitting defense that showed potential in the season-opening loss to Pittsburgh, which was held to just 35 yards on the ground.

"Their defense has played well throughout the preseason and then again in the first game they played well," Harbaugh said. "They held Pittsburgh's rushing attack way down, which is quite an accomplishment."

As much as Baltimore would like to open the game up, it might be more prudent to have another conservative game plan, especially if the defense performs like it did in Week 1.

The Ravens have an opportunity to go 2-0 with both wins against AFC North opponents. It's an opportunity they don't want to squander, especially in the home opener.

"We're looking forward to our home crowd," Harbaugh said.

--Ravens linebacker Terrell Suggs could be headed to the NFL Hall of Fame when his long, storied career finally ends.

Suggs, however, showed he still has the ability to make big plays. In the season opener against the Bengals, Suggs had six tackles, two sacks and a forced fumble. He also knocked down a pass that led to an interception.

Despite the stellar performance, the 34-year-old defender still sees room for improvement.

"It felt good," Suggs said. "(Director of performance) Steve Saunders, he pretty much trained me and got me where I, as a 15-year veteran, needed to be. It ain't perfect, but we strive to be perfect. There are some things for me personally that I still need to work on. We're just going to build from this until it's good."

Suggs has already had a stellar career with six Pro Bowls and two Super Bowl wins. He was also named Defensive Player of the Year and Defensive Rookie of the Year.

Head coach John Harbaugh was impressed with the performance against the Bengals and hopes that can carry over to Week 2 against the Browns.

"He played a tremendous game," Harbaugh said. "He was all over the field. He played with tremendous effort, tremendous heart."

--The Ravens' offense suffered a big setback when running back Danny Woodhead was ruled out at least four weeks with a hamstring injury. Woodhead, who was signed in the offseason, caught three passes for 33 yards in six snaps against the Bengals before going down with the injury.

He was poised to thrive in Baltimore's offense.

"Danny looks like it's going to be a while," Ravens head coach John Harbaugh said prior to Wednesday's practice. "It's a hamstring. It's a little unpredictable."

Baltimore has two running backs on its practice squad -- Alex Collins and Jeremy Langford -- who could be promoted to the active roster for depth.

"Those two guys have done a really good job at studying the offense and they're healthy," Harbaugh said. "Those are two very good options for us."

However, the Ravens will need a more experienced player to fill the void left by Woodhead's injury and have not ruled out signing another player, Harbaugh said.

One option could be running back Buck Allen, who has shown promise catching the ball and making defenders miss tackles. Baltimore could also move Michael Campanaro from wide receiver to running back, where he would primarily be used to catch passes out of the backfield. However, he is not as explosive as Woodhead and would be challenged as a blocker.

As quarterback Joe Flacco continues to progress from his back injury, the team is going to need a reliable playmaker to catch intermediate passes when he has to check down.

We'll see by the end of the week where we're at running back," Harbaugh said.

NOTES: QB Josh Woodrum was signed to the practice squad. The second-year player from Liberty led the team in passing yards (236) and passer rating (115.6) this preseason and became a fan favorite. To make room, the Ravens released tight end Ryan Malleck off the practice squad. ... CB Marlon Humphrey will likely get more playing time in Week 2 against the Browns, Ravens head coach John Harbaugh said this week. Humphrey, this year's first-round pick from Alabama, rotated at corner with Jimmy Smith and Brandon Carr and was solid in coverage. "I thought Marlon played really well," Harbaugh said. "He definitely earned more snaps. He played nine plays on defense and played really well on special teams. I would say he earned more snaps. He played well." ... RB Danny Woodhead is out at least four weeks with a hamstring injury, Ravens head coach John Harbaugh said Wednesday. The Ravens were grateful the injury was not season-ending. Woodhead was having a solid debut for Baltimore before being forced out with the injured hamstring. The veteran running back caught three passes for 33 yards before he fell to the turf untouched in the first quarter and did not return. ... LB Za'Darius Smith suffered a left knee sprain in the second quarter against the Bengals, but the injury does not appear to be long-term. However, the timeline for his return is uncertain. Smith suffered the injury trying to make a tackle on Cincinnati running back Giovani Bernard. Smith was having a solid game and had a sack on the opening drive. ... CB Jaylen Hill missed practice again Wednesday with a leg injury and could miss his second straight game. The undrafted rookie from Jacksonville State was one of the most impressive players throughout the preseason. Hill led the team with two interceptions in three preseason games. However, he has missed more than two weeks of practice because of the injury. ... S Eric Weddle missed practice Wednesday for undisclosed reasons. He played all of the opener against the Bengals with the exception of one snap. His status for Week 2 against the Browns is uncertain.

Updated September 13, 2017

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