Today the Baltimore Ravens got a few key players back to practice. Kicker Billy Cundiff, defensive end Cory Redding and corner Cary Williams were all participants in practice in limited capacity.
Shayne Graham filled in nicely for Cundiff last week going two-for-two on field goal attempts against the Browns. However, Graham's kick-offs definitely left something to be desired as he had a hard time making it to the end-zone on more than one occasion. Graham, a long time Cincinnati Bengal, would not be the kicker of choice heading into Paul Brown Stadium considering the last time he was there he was kicking his way right off of the Bengals roster.
Williams has had a very good season as his first year as a starter in the NFL. Cary had to leave last week's game due to concussion like symptoms. He will need to be playing at 100% this week as he will most likely be matched up with either A.J. Green or Jerome Simpson, both of which have tremendous big play ability. It would be best to sit him unless he is fully capable of playing at his highest level. If Williams is not ready to go Chris Carr will likely get more snaps this week.
Last week against the Browns Carr played in Williams' normal position and looked a bit rusty, drawing a big interference penalty shortly after entering the game. I think our best option for the secondary with Cary out of the line up would be Lardarius Webb and Jimmy Smith starting on the outside with Carr and Danny Gorrer rotating as the nickle and dime backs... But that's just me. Carr can be a very effective slot corner when healthy but has been unable to gain and rhythm this season due to a variety of nagging injuries. In my opinion he should never be lined up wide.
The Ravens defense struggled last week against Peyton Hillis without Cory Redding in the starting line up. Hillis ran for 112 yards against Baltimore, it was the first time he has eclipsed the 100 yard mark this season. Although you can not directly attribute Hillis' success to the absence of Redding, he has made a name for himself with in the Ravens locker room for being a team leader and his veteran presence on the field helps the younger players get a better grasp of the game during the game. There is not enough said about players that are able to enhance the play of those around them and Redding fits that bill to the tee. Due to other players speaking out on his behalf it seems that Cory Redding is starting to get the attention he deserves from the casual fan here in Baltimore.
The bad news is that guard Marshal Yanda has not yet returned to practice from his thigh and rib contusions and is in jeopardy of missing this week's game. Yanda has been voted to his first Pro-Bowl this season and is the Ravens' best offensive lineman. He consistently blocks into the second level on running plays and rarely lets rushers by him in passing situations.
If Yanda is unable to play it will be up to back-up center Andre Gurode to step up in his place. Gurode played right guard for Dallas early in his career but was moved to Center where he became a Pro-Bowler himself. He is not a Pro-Bowl guard but he played well last week in relief of the injured Yanda. This will be the biggest game of the season for Gurode, let's hope he realizes that and brings it because the Bengals are in the top five in the NFL in sacks.