Defense hurting as Ravens ramp up preparations for Cleveland on Sunday night


OWINGS MILLS, Md. — While Lamar Jackson and Marquise Brown returned to practice Wednesday, the Ravens were without their best defensive lineman and multiple members of their secondary ramping up preparations for Sunday night’s showdown with Cleveland.

Standout defensive end Calais Campbell was absent from the workout with what was listed as a concussion. The 35-year-old briefly left Sunday’s game with a foot issue before returning to action, but his placement in the concussion protocol is potentially significant with Baltimore preparing to face the NFL’s top-ranked rushing attack in Week 12. In more positive news for the defensive line, however, veteran nose tackle Brandon Williams returned to practice on a limited basis after missing the last three games due to a shoulder injury.

Cornerbacks Anthony Averett (hamstring), Chris Westry (thigh), Tavon Young (foot/knee), and Jimmy Smith (neck) were also missing from practice, which isn’t ideal for a secondary already missing three-time Pro Bowl cornerback Marcus Peters and starting safety DeShon Elliott for the rest of the season. With Averett and Smith sitting out Sunday’s win at Chicago, Westry started opposite Marlon Humphrey and played all but three snaps as the Ravens had just three cornerbacks available to play against the Bears. Head coach John Harbaugh indicated Monday that Averett was close to being able to play against Chicago, which would presumably bode well for his chances of playing against the Browns.

Jackson was a full participant on Wednesday and insisted he’s fully recovered from the illness that forced him out of action against the Bears.

“I’m feeling good. I’m feeling great this time. Dang, I’m feeling good,” said Jackson as he smiled. “Positive — certain. No relapses. We’re good.”

Brown was listed as a limited participant in Wednesday’s workout after sitting out against Chicago with a thigh injury.

Two other notable absences to monitor going into the Thanksgiving holiday were right tackle Patrick Mekari (ankle) and fullback Patrick Ricard (hip/foot). Mekari played all but one snap in his return after a two-game absence, but he appeared to be laboring at a few different points in Sunday’s win over the Bears.

One man who wasn’t listed on Wednesday’s injury report was tight end Nick Boyle, who returned to game action for the first time in over a year in Week 11. Speaking with local reporters for the first time since sustaining a “little” fracture, ripping his hamstring, and sustaining tears to the meniscus, PCL, and MCL in his left knee against New England last November, Boyle acknowledged the challenge of fighting “daily battles with yourself” coming back from such a severe injury that required two surgeries and a long rehabilitation.

“You always think to yourself, “Am I going to be the player I was before?'” said Boyle, who played 32 snaps against the Bears. “That goes through your head daily, and you’ve got to really erase that. Just go to work and work every single day, erase it and go and attack the next day like that. I have full belief that I will go out there and I will be how I was and I will be even better. But that stuff just takes time.”

The Ravens re-signed defensive tackle Kahlil McKenzie to their practice squad after waiving him from the 53-man roster earlier this week. They also protected safety Jordan Richards, cornerback Kevon Seymour, offensive tackle David Sharpe, and inside linebacker Joe Thomas on their practice squad for Week 12.

Dealing with their own lengthy list of injuries in recent weeks, the Browns practiced without battered quarterback Baker Mayfield (left shoulder/foot/groin), top wide receivers Jarvis Landry (knee) and Donovan Peoples-Jones (groin), and defensive tackle Malik Jackson (knee) on Wednesday. Cleveland designated running back Kareem Hunt (calf) and right tackle Jack Conklin (elbow) to return to practice from injured reserve.

In other NFL transaction news, former Houston running back Phillip Lindsay was claimed off waivers by the Miami Dolphins. The Ravens had reportedly inquired about Lindsay before the trade deadline, but he averaged just 2.6 yards per carry in 10 games with the Texans this season.

Below is Wednesday’s full injury report:

DID NOT PARTICIPATE: CB Anthony Averett (hamstring), WR Miles Boykin (finger), DE Calais Campbell (concussion), OLB Justin Houston (non-injury), OL Patrick Mekari (ankle), OT Cedric Ogbuehi (thigh), FB Patrick Ricard (hip/foot), CB Jimmy Smith (neck), CB Chris Westry (thigh), CB Tavon Young (foot/knee)
LIMITED PARTICIPATION: WR Marquise Brown (thigh), ILB Josh Bynes (hip), WR Devin Duvernay (knee/chest), DT Brandon Williams (shoulder)
FULL PARTICIPATION: QB Lamar Jackson (illness)

DID NOT PARTICIPATE: LB Tony Fields (illness), DT Malik Jackson (knee), WR Jarvis Landry (knee), QB Baker Mayfield (left shoulder/foot/groin), WR Donovan Peoples-Jones (groin), WR Anthony Schwartz (concussion)
LIMITED PARTICIPATION: DE Jadeveon Clowney (neck/wrist/knee), CB Troy Hill (neck), LB Sione Takitaki (shoulder), C JC Tretter (knee)
FULL PARTICIPATION: CB A.J. Green (concussion), DT Malik McDowell (elbow), DE Takkarist McKinley (groin), DE Takkarist McKinley (groin), LB Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah (ankle)