OWINGS MILLS, Md. (AP) — The Baltimore Ravens returned to practice Monday following a bye week in which the coaching staff studied the flaws and shortcomings of a team that went winless in October.
Baltimore still has plenty of time to salvage the season, in part because it’s a member of the suddenly downtrodden AFC North. In spite of a four-game skid, the Ravens (3-4) remain in striking distance of first-place Pittsburgh (4-3).
So, while coach John Harbaugh isn’t necessarily preaching that this week represents a fresh start, he’s quick to note that what’s happened to this point doesn’t matter much.
“We have to beat the teams in our division to make anything of (the season) anyway, so that’s what we’re looking to do,” he said.
The Ravens’ remaining schedule includes two games against Pittsburgh, a pair against Cincinnati and a home matchup against the winless Browns on the heels of Sunday’s game against the visiting Steelers.
“We have nine games left. We’re basically one game down in our division playing the team ahead of us right now,” Harbaugh said. “Our goal is certainly going to be to win the division. That’s in front of us. It’s up to us.”
For the Ravens to turn things around, they’ll have to get healthy and play better. Although Harbaugh would not get into specifics, he suggested that rookie left tackle Ronnie Stanley (foot) and right guard Marshal Yanda (shoulder) should be back after an extended absence.
Harbaugh hopes that will provide some stability to an offensive line that has struggled to provide time for quarterback Joe Flacco and open holes for the spotty ground game.
Rookie Alex Lewis took over for Stanley at left tackle and did as well as can be expected, given the shift from his more natural position of left guard.
“We have to get the run game going,” Harbaugh said. “We’ve already got two young guys in there as it is. I’m appreciative of what Alex was able to do at left tackle for those three games, four games. But it’s going to be better to have our full complement of guys in there, and it should help us really in every area, including the run game.”
If the Ravens are to make something happen this season, there’s no time to waste. One of the benefits of the bye is that it came before a stretch in which Baltimore hosts Cleveland on Thursday following this Pittsburgh game.
“I’m kind of excited about playing the two games in five days. I’m looking forward to it,” Harbaugh said. “I think it’s a good time for us to do it. I just want to go out there and play well.
“I want to knock some of this disappointment off. This is something that you carry around with you. It’s not what you want. It’s not the goal. The goal is to win these games and have the kind of record that you think reflects how hard you worked. So yeah, I’m very determined to do that right now.”
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