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Ravens News 12/6: Rookie rankings, injury updates and more

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Indianapolis Colts v Baltimore Ravens Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images

Baltimore Ravens vs. Kansas City Chiefs: 4 stats to know - Aaron Kasinitz

The Chiefs lead the NFL with 78 offensive plays of at least 20 yards

Why it matters Sunday

The Ravens, particularly with Lamar Jackson at quarterback, have relied on a stingy defense to keep them in games and rank near the bottom of the league in terms of long offensive plays. It’d be tough for them to stay in a shootout. Baltimore’s best bet is to contain the Chiefs, and it’s as well-suited to do that as any team in the league; the Ravens have allowed just 37 plays of more than 20 yards this season.

The Chiefs have the same number of turnovers in their two losses (7) as their 10 wins

Why it matters Sunday

The Ravens will either need to reverse a trend or find a new formula to the beat the Chiefs. Baltimore hasn’t forced more than one turnover in a game since September, and the team’s gone eight weeks without an interception. Perhaps the Ravens will grow more aggressive Sunday, but then they’ll have to decide whether gambles for takeaways are worth abandoning some of the principles that have guided the defense to great success this year.

Patrick Mahomes’ gunslinger mentality can lead to interceptions. Since Week 5 he has averaged 1.25 interceptions per game. The Ravens defense has not picked off a single pass since Week 5.

2018 NFL rookie rankings: Baker Mayfield cracks the top five - Daniel Jeremiah

25. Lamar Jackson

QB Ravens

Jackson has been the catalyst for a much-improved Ravens rushing attack. He still has work to do as a passer, but I’ve seen steady improvement.

In terms of rookie quarterbacks, Jeremiah ranks Jackson 20 spots below Baker Mayfield and one spot below Josh Allen. Neither Sam Darnold nor Josh Rosen made this top-25 list.

Ravens’ Marlon Humphrey among the league’s best since entering the league - Austin Gayle

Among all of the 2017 draft class’ cornerbacks, only [Desmond] King, the NFL’s highest-graded cornerback through Week 13 at 90.2, ranks ahead of Baltimore Ravens‘ Humphrey in overall grade so far this season. Humphrey ranks 10th in overall grade (79.9) and coverage grade (81.4) on the year, and his two-year overall grade (81.2) ranks 16th among all NFL cornerbacks with 1,000-plus defensive snaps dating back to Week 1 of the 2017 season.

The former ‘Bama standout currently leads all qualifying defensive backs in forced incompletion percentage (40.9) on passes of 10-plus air yards, as he’s allowed receptions on just six of 22 such targets for only 100 yards all year long. Removing dropped passes and off-target throws, Humphrey also leads the same group of cornerbacks in yards allowed per target of 10-plus air yards at 5.88.

He’s also limited third- and fourth-down conversions at an absurd rate, as he also leads the 67 defensive backs with 15-plus targets into their coverage on third or fourth down in forced incompletion percentage (40.0) and ranks third in percentage of targets resulting in a first-down conversion (20.0).

Humphrey will face probably the toughest test of his young career on Sunday against the lightening fast Tyreek Hill.

Who’s Practicing, Who’s Not vs. Chiefs - Ryan Mink

James Hurst Could Return This Week

The Ravens’ offensive line could be back at full strength this week as versatile veteran James Hurst (back) is gearing up for a return. Hurst was still listed as limited in Wednesday’s practice, but is trending up.

Hurst hasn’t played in a game since Week 6 in Tennessee, missing the past six contests. He had an issue with a disc in his back, and once that righted itself, the pain spread to his lower leg. The back injury totally put him on the shelf, including in the weight room.

The biggest question if Hurst is able to play is whether he would be inserted back into the starting lineup. The Ravens have a good thing going right now with rookie Orlando Brown Jr. at right tackle, where Hurst began the season as the starter.

So Would Hurst move back to left guard, where he started all 16 games last year? Would he be the Ravens’ sixth lineman? Hurst said he’s playing a bit of everything in practice right now and happy to contribute however he can.

Mink notes that Marlon Humphrey (groin), Tony Jefferson (ankle), Alex Lewis (shoulder) and Tavon Young (groin) did not practice on Wednesday. Speedy edge rusher Tim Williams (ankle) was a full participant.