video

Coach John Harbaugh refuted a report that he or anyone in the Baltimore Ravens organization tipped off the Indianapolis Colts about the New England Patriots using deflated balls.

According to Fox Sports, the Ravens contacted Colts coach Chuck Pagano, who was an assistant coach for the Ravens for four seasons, to be aware of underinflated footballs before the AFC Championship Game.

"I heard all that; I couldn't believe it when I heard it," Harbaugh said on NBC's Super Bowl pre-game show Sunday. "It's ridiculous, it never happened. I never made any call. Nobody in our organization made any call. As a matter of fact, just to make sure I had all the facts, I called up Chuck Pagano this week and asked him, 'Did anybody else in our organization tip you off about deflated footballs?' and he said, 'No way.' "

Harbaugh said the condition of the football had no effect on the Ravens' 35-31 divisional playoff loss to the Patriots, which occurred a week before the AFC Championship Game.

"It never came up, it never crossed my mind, it wasn't even an issue in the game," Harbaugh said. "I didn't even think about it until I read about it later."

The issue of Deflategate has even reached the president.

"I think that if you break the rules then you break the rules," President Barack Obama told NBC in an interview before Sunday night's Super Bowl.

While Obama said he thinks the inflation of the footballs had no bearing on the outcome of the AFC Championship Game, but said he assumes the league will give referees greater control of game balls "to avoid any of these controversies."


(Read full post)


Baltimore Ravens inside linebacker C.J. Mosley led all NFL rookies in tackles. He was the only one to win NFL Defensive Rookie of the Month twice this year. And he was the first Ravens rookie to reach the Pro Bowl.

Mosley
Despite all of those accolades, Mosley fell short in the NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year voting, finishing second to St. Louis Rams defensive tackle Aaron Donald. The award, which is handed out by the Associated Press, is voted upon by a nationwide panel of 50 media members who regularly cover the league.

Mosley received 18 votes, which were seven short of Donald (25 votes). The only other rookies to receive votes were Oakland Raiders linebacker Khalil Mack (six votes) and San Francisco 49ers linebacker Chris Borland (one).

In looking how the season unfolded, Mosley didn't lose the award. Donald won it with an impressive finish. He recorded a sack in eight of the Rams' last 11 games. His nine sacks led all rookies and were the most by a rookie in three years.

That type of pass rush ability is impressive for an interior lineman. That's why Donald became just the second defensive tackle to win this award in the last 20 years (Ndamukong Suh was the other).

This was a tough call for voters. Mosley and Donald were the only defensive rookies to make the Pro Bowl this season.

This shouldn't take away from one of the best all-around seasons by an NFL rookie. Mosley was the only NFL player this season with at least 125 tackles, three sacks and two interceptions.

Mosley, the No. 17 pick in last year's draft, was looking to become the third Ravens' rookie to win this award, joining Peter Boulware (1997) and Terrell Suggs (2003).

But what shouldn't go overlooked is that Mosley made the biggest impact by a Ravens defensive rookie since Haloti Ngata eight years ago.

In the NFL Comeback Player of the Year voting, Ravens running back Justin Forsett finished tied for fifth. Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski won the award with 27 votes. Forsett received two votes.
video

Frank Caliendo enlists fellow comedians Aries Spears and Dean Edwards in this Bill Belichick profile.
It's that time to click open our weekly Baltimore Ravens Twitter mailbag ...

@jamisonhensley: What has to happen is a compromise. The Ravens can't afford to pay Lardarius Webb $8 million in salary in 2015 when he's become a middle-of-the-road cornerback, and Webb knows another team won't pay him anywhere near that type of money if the Ravens cut him. The problem is, the Ravens would only gain $2 million in cap room by releasing Webb and would carry $10 million in dead money. That's not a favorable situation. So, Webb could play hardball with the Ravens if he doesn't believe there is a threat of him getting cut. In the end, I believe the Ravens and Webb will reach that compromise. Webb will come down to a salary that will be better than anything he could get on the open market, and the Ravens will get some much-needed cap space. Just last year, Webb agreed to do a simple restructure to help free up cap room for the Ravens.

@jamisonhensley: The Ravens are still holding out hope that he does. The only reason why he's getting time to develop is he's a second-round pick that the Ravens moved up in that round to get (trading picks in the second, fifth and sixth rounds). Brown basically represents three picks. The hope is Arthur Brown would team up with C.J. Mosley and form the same athletic inside linebacker duo that the San Francisco 49ers have with Patrick Willis and NaVorro Bowman. But Brown was only active for four games before suffering a hamstring injury in the regular-season finale. He couldn't beat out undrafted linebackers Zachary Orr and Albert McClellan to get on the field for special teams. There have been draft picks such as Paul Kruger who suddenly make an impact after not playing much in the first two seasons. At this point, Brown has shown no signs of living up to expectations.

@jamisonhensley: The top two free-agent wide receivers -- Dez Bryant and Demaryius Thomas -- are expected to receive the franchise tag. You can cross them off your wish list. The next tier -- Michael Crabtree, Randall Cobb and Wes Welker -- aren't No. 1 receivers. The Ravens' best option might be to re-sign Torrey Smith and draft a wide receiver in the first two rounds. ESPN's Mel Kiper Jr. and NFL Network's Daniel Jeremiah both have Michigan wide receiver Devin Funchess going to the Ravens at No. 26 in their mock drafts.

@jamisonhensley: Not really. Byron Maxwell will be one of the top free-agent cornerbacks on the market. His value is driven even higher because he comes from a winning organization like the Seattle Seahawks. The Ravens have too many needs and not enough salary-cap room to throw all that money at one position. Remember, the Ravens like signing players who have been cut by other teams (they don't count against the team's compensatory picks). Cornerbacks who could be cap casualties include Houston's Jonathan Joseph, Cincinnati's Leon Hall and Philadelphia's Cary Williams, a former Raven.

@jamisonhensley: The Ravens aren't going to spend on a running back, which is why Justin Forsett might get more money elsewhere. If the Ravens look in free agency, there are three former first-round picks who could be had for a good value: Mark Ingram, Darren McFadden and Ryan Matthews. Another running back who could draw interest is Chris Johnson, who could be a cap cut by the New York Jets. The Ravens showed interest in Johnson last offseason. Even if the Ravens sign someone in free agency, it doesn't preclude them from drafting one. The Ravens like the potential of Lorenzo Taliaferro, but they will want to upgrade from Bernard Pierce. If the Ravens don't re-sign Forsett, it wouldn't be surprising to see two new running backs paired with Taliaferro.

@jamisonhensley: I see Rick Wagner as a dependable, above-average right tackle. He is going to be just a notch below that Pro Bowl level. It's going to be hard for Wagner to reach the Pro Bowl when Joe Thomas, Ryan Clady, Tyron Smith and Joe Staley are going to be automatic selections for the foreseeable future. Wagner graded out as the third-best right tackle in the league last season, according to Pro Football Focus. That's a great achievement for a fifth-round pick who was barely used a season ago. The Ravens would be pleased if Wagner is their starting right tackle for the next five to six years.

@jamisonhensley: Realistically, it would be Webb and Jimmy Smith at cornerback and Will Hill at free safety. It's the strong safety spot that is the difficult one to predict. During the last two offseasons, the Ravens have invested two high picks at safety (Matt Elam in the first round and Terrence Brooks in the third). It would be tough for the Ravens to use another early pick at that position. When picks don't pan out immediately, teams often have to get the quick fix in free agency. There are plenty of options this year with New England's Devin McCourty, Denver's Rahim Moore and Houston's Kendrick Lewis, but the Ravens were resistant to spend on a safety last offseason. That's how the Ravens ended up with Darian Stewart. Will the Ravens upgrade in free agency this year? That would be their best option. If not, you're going to see either Stewart, Brooks, Elam or Jeromy Miles at that other safety spot.
video
PHOENIX -- Moments after NFL commissioner Roger Goodell completed his annual Super Bowl press conference, ESPN analyst Bill Polian cut to a crucial flaw in the presentation.

"Everyone wanted to hear about domestic violence," Polian said. "Everyone wanted to hear about Deflategate. Everyone wanted to hear about the major issues that have affected the league outside of the normal realm of the game. And he led off with the extra point!"

Indeed, Goodell mentioned the ongoing discussion about the length and difficulty of extra points before referencing any specifics about an ongoing investigation into the integrity of the AFC Championship Game. We have plenty of coverage on what Goodell did say about the New England Patriots' deflation issue, so let's consider his ill-placed but still notable remarks on other issues -- starting with the basic definition of a "conflict of interest."

1. Perception vs. reality

Goodell bristled at two questions in particular.

[+] EnlargeRoger Goodell
Cliff Hawkins/Getty ImagesRoger Goodell hit on many key points during his press conference on Friday, but the timing of some of them was a bit curious.
One referenced the league's hiring of outside attorneys it pays to provide independent investigations. (Former FBI director Robert Mueller, who investigated the league's response to the Ray Rice domestic violence matter, worked at the same law firm as Baltimore Ravens president Dick Cass.) The other question referred to his attendance at a party hosted by Patriots owner Robert Kraft the night before the AFC Championship Game shenanigans.

Goodell's response was, in essence, that no conflict of interest existed because the people involved all have "uncompromising integrity." That might be true, but that isn't the full point of a conflict of interest. It's not simply whether impropriety occurred as a result of an interconnected relationship. It's whether the relationship creates the perception that an impropriety could occur.

Did Mueller take it easy on the NFL given his firm's relationship with Cass? Will investigator Ted Wells exonerate the Patriots because Goodell partied with Kraft a couple weeks ago? Unlikely. Is it possible to conceive? Of course.

No matter what might or might not have happened, Goodell would be well served to step away from anything that could provide even the appearance of a conflict. His defiance remains a hurdle in publicly moving past the issues of this season.

2. That troublesome extra point

Goodell: "Fans want every play to have suspense. But the extra point has become virtually automatic. We have experimented with alternatives to make it a more competitive play and we expect to advance these ideas through the competition committee this offseason."

Seifert: NFL place-kickers converted 99.3 percent of their extra-point attempts in 2014 (1,222 of 1,230), a year after hitting 99.6 percent. The league experimented by moving the kick back to 33 yards during the preseason and then narrowed the goal posts for the Pro Bowl. It seems likely the league will push some form of a change through its competition committee in the coming months.

3. Expanded playoffs

Goodell: "The possibility of expanding the playoffs has also been a topic of discussion for a number of years. There are positives to it, but there are concerns as well, among them being the risk of diluting the regular season and conflicting with college football in January."

Seifert: This change has seemed certain for the better part of a year, and Goodell said recently he expected a vote during the league's owners meeting in March. The "concerns" Goodell mentioned Friday represented at least a tapping of the brakes. A cynic would say Goodell was acknowledging objections simply to placate outnumbered opponents.

4. Officiating changes

Goodell: "We are looking at other ways to advance replay and officiating. That includes potentially expanding replay to penalties if it can be done without more disruption to the face of the game. We are discussing rotating members of the officiating crews during the season as a way to improve consistency throughout our regular season and benefit our crews in the postseason."

Seifert: Vice president of officiating Dean Blandino said Thursday that multiple teams have already submitted proposals to expand replay in various ways. It seems unlikely the league will allow all plays to be reviewed, as the Patriots proposed last year, but a slower expansion is a realistic possibility.

Rotating officials, meanwhile, might help dissipate the penalty disparities among crews that we have documented for the past two seasons. It would also devalue the chemistry and familiarity that season-long crews develop.

5. Over-the-top telecast

Goodell: "We are aggressively pursuing the streaming of a regular-season game with our first over-the-top telecast. It would be carried on broadcast stations in both team markets, but also reach a worldwide audience, including millions of homes that don't have traditional television service."

Seifert: At the moment, this is a win-win for everyone. All games would remain available over-the-air while the NFL and its chosen partner experiment with streaming. Some day, of course, the NFL could offer some games exclusively via streaming, most likely at a cost to consumers.
The Baltimore Ravens blog is reviewing the breakdown of snaps at each position:

TIGHT ENDS

Owen Daniels: 773 snaps (75.6 percent)

Crockett Gillmore: 351 snaps (34.3 percent)

Dennis Pitta: 163 snaps (15.9 percent)

Phillip Supernaw: 15 snaps (1.4 percent)

Daniels' snaps last season more than doubled his total in 2013, when he missed the last 11 games with a broken leg. It marked the third time in the last five seasons that he was on the field for more than 500 plays. His snap total was tied for the 13th-most among tight ends this season and was the same as Steve Smith, who led the Ravens' wide receivers.

Pitta was limited for a second straight year by a severe hip injury. He played 151 snaps in 2013, which were 12 fewer than his total in 2014. In comparison, Gillmore played more snaps last season than Pitta's last two seasons combined.

Not surprisingly, Gillmore's participation increased when Pitta suffered a season-ending injury in Week 3. He played 325 snaps in the Ravens' final 13 games. Only five rookie tight ends played more snaps than Gillmore over that stretch.
Le'Veon Bell came within 42 yards of leading the NFL in yards from scrimmage in 2014. He joined Pro Football Hall of Famer Marshall Faulk as the only players in NFL history with at least 1,350 rushing yards and 850 receiving yards in a season, according to Elias Sports Bureau.

And yet nothing reflected his value more than the one game that Bell missed.

The Pittsburgh Steelers' offense struggled in a 30-17 AFC wild-card loss to the Baltimore Ravens with Bell watching helplessly on the sidelines because of a hyperextended knee.

Bell
The Steelers rushed for only 68 yards and gave up five sacks -- they had yielded four in the their last four regular-season games -- in the loss that ended their season. The critical turnover of the game came in the fourth quarter, when a Ben Roethlisberger pass bounced off the hands of running back Ben Tate and into the arms of Ravens outside linebacker Terrell Suggs.

The Steelers could only wonder what might have been had Bell been healthy enough to play against the Ravens since he excels as a runner and receiver and is also adept at picking up blitzing linebackers.

Bell’s all-around game earned the second-year man a truckload of accolades, and he has been voted the AFC North’s Most Valuable Player.

Bell beat out Roethlisberger, who tied New Orleans’ Drew Brees for the most passing yards (4,952) in 2014, for the honor, which was voted on by ESPN reporters who cover AFC North teams.

“The things that he can do in all three phases of the game to run, to catch the ball, and to block are some of the most special things I’ve ever seen a running back do,” Roethlisberger said during Bell’s breakout season.

Bell set numerous Steelers records, including the one for most yards from scrimmage (2,215) in a season. He also joined the late Walter Payton as the only players in NFL history with at least 200 yards from scrimmage in three consecutive games.

Payton accomplished the feat in 1977. Bell matched it with 711 yards from scrimmage during a three-game stretch that bridged November and December.

“When they were talking about me and Walter Payton being the only ones having that (record), it kind of hit me a little bit,” Bell said, “like, OK, all the hard work I’ve been putting in for 17 years playing football and all the hard work I’ve been putting in is paying off. Being looked at as one of the better players in the NFL is something that I take pride in.”

And Bell only turns 23 when he celebrates his birthday Feb. 18.

"This is only my second year so I feel like I have room for improvement,” Bell said. “There’s still a lot of things I can work on and get better at.”

AFC North Most Valuable Player voting: Le'Veon Bell, 12 points; Ben Roethlisberger, 8; Joe Flacco, 4; Justin Forsett, 3; Antonio Brown, 2; Jeremy Hill, 1.

Panel of voters: Scott Brown, Jeremy Fowler, Coley Harvey, Jamison Hensley and Pat McManamon.
The Baltimore Ravens' special teams are expected to be near the top of the NFL considering that was John Harbaugh's expertise before he became head coach. So far, the Ravens haven't disappointed.

The Ravens remained No. 5 in the annual special teams rankings from Rick Gosselin of the Dallas Morning News. This put the Ravens at the top of the AFC North, where the Cincinnati Bengals (No. 6) were the only other division team to rank in the top half of the NFL. The Cleveland Browns were tied for No. 17, and the Pittsburgh Steelers were No. 21.

The Ravens' ranking came on the strength of punter Sam Koch, who was the team's biggest Pro Bowl snub. His 43.3-yard net average was the fourth-best in NFL history, and his 47.4-yard gross average ranked third in the league this season.

Kickoffs also played a big part in the Ravens' success on special teams. Jacoby Jones scored on a 108-yard return and led the league with a 30.6-yard average. The Ravens held teams to an average starting position of the 20.1-yard line, which was the best in the NFL. Justin Tucker's 60 touchbacks ranked fourth in the league.

In addition to Jones' kickoff return, the Ravens scored another touchdown off special teams late in the season, when Darian Stewart blocked a punt against the Jacksonville Jaguars and Kamar Aiken ran it back 11 yards to the end zone.

There were some blunders on special teams, too. The Jaguars caught the Ravens off guard with an onside kick and fake punt. Jones muffed two punt returns. The Ravens' 22 penalties were the eighth-most in the NFL.

Still, the Ravens' special teams finished in the top five for the third straight year under coordinator Jerry Rosberg, who is known for being one of the top teachers in the league.

A look at the Ravens' special teams rankings since Harbaugh became coach.

2008: No. 22
2009: No. 18
2010: No. 8
2011: No. 24
2012: No. 3
2013: No. 5
2014: No. 5
The Baltimore Ravens blog is reviewing the breakdown of snaps at each position:

WIDE RECEIVERS

Steve Smith: 773 snaps (75.6 percent)

Torrey Smith: 741 snaps (72.5 percent)

Marlon Brown: 356 snaps (34.8 percent)

Kamar Aiken: 262 snaps (25.6 percent)

Jacoby Jones: 183 snaps (17.9 percent)

Michael Campanaro: 63 snaps (6.1 percent)

The Ravens talked about how much they liked their depth at wide receiver. They didn't show it by their offensive formations. The Ravens used two or fewer wide receivers on 639 snaps (62.5 percent of the time). They lined up three or more receivers on just 382 snaps, which was the third-fewest in the NFL. Only the Cleveland Browns and New England Patriots spread out defenses less than the Ravens.

As a result, Steve Smith led the Ravens in amount of plays but ranked 37th in the NFL. Smith's snaps were almost the same he played in 2013 with the Carolina Panthers. That wasn't the case for Torrey Smith, Brown and Jones. All of their playing time dropped significantly. Those three receivers each played over 300 fewer snaps than they did in 2013.

Aiken enjoyed the most playing time of his career. In his previous three seasons, he played a total of 14 snaps. In 2014, Aiken played 13 snaps in the season opener. By the end of the season, he was filling in for Torrey Smith when he left a couple of games with injuries.

Injuries limited Campanaro's opportunities. His 63 snaps ranked eighth among Ravens rookies.
One was an absolute wrecking ball on defense, consistently finding his way to the football. The other was eased into his team's offense before ultimately taking it over the second half of the season, and helping it earn a postseason berth.

But only one would be named the AFC North's Rookie of the Year.

[+] EnlargeC.J. Mosley
Patrick Smith/Getty ImagesIn his rookie season, Ravens LB C.J. Mosley registered five or more tackles in every game.
That honor went to Baltimore Ravens linebacker C.J. Mosley, who barely edged out Cincinnati Bengals running back Jeremy Hill. From the five-person voting panel, Mosley received 12 overall points to Hill's 11. Mosley also had three first-place votes to the two that went to Hill.

Out of the pair, Hill is the only one up for the NFL's Rookie of the Year award that will be announced this weekend in Arizona. He's the only AFC North representative, contending with a group made up of all offensive players. Receiver Odell Beckham Jr., quarterback Teddy Bridgewater, receiver Mike Evans and receiver Sammy Watkins also are up for the honor. No defensive player has earned the award since 2010, when Ndamukong Suh received it.

Mosley was seemingly everywhere for the Ravens this season. He had 129 tackles, the eighth-highest total for any defender in the league. He also was part of a defense that ranked eighth in the league.

In addition to the 129 tackles, Mosley also had three sacks, two interceptions and forced and recovered a fumble. The Alabama product also had 19 tackles in the Ravens' two playoff games, including 10 in the divisional-round loss to the Patriots. In a Week 5 loss at Indianapolis, he had a season-high 14 stops.

Hill became a threat for the Bengals starting in Week 9 when he rushed for a season-high 154 yards and two touchdowns in a 33-23 win against the Jaguars. It was his 60-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter that helped ice the win, and firmly put him in his fan base's consciousness. That week, and for the two after it, Hill started in place of Giovani Bernard. The third-year running back was resting after experiencing a series of injuries following hard hits in previous games.

Also during Bernard's absence, Hill rushed for 152 yards in a homecoming game at New Orleans. The Baton Rouge, Louisiana, native and LSU product went on to become the Bengals' top option at running back after Bernard returned. Across the final nine weeks of the season, Hill rushed for 929 yards, more than any other back in that stretch.

In addition to their Rookie of the Year award, ESPN.com's AFC North reporters voted on four other honors for the division (Coach of the Year, Offensive Player of the Year, Defensive Player of the Year and Most Valuable Player). We've been handing out the awards daily since Monday.

Mosley finished third in the division Defensive Player of the Year voting, and Hill finished third in Offensive Player of the Year voting.

AFC North Rookie of the Year: Mosley, 12 points; Hill, 11; Joel Bitonio, 8, Cleveland; Martavis Bryant, 1, Pittsburgh.

Panel of voters: Scott Brown, Jeremy Fowler, Coley Harvey, Jamison Hensley and Pat McManamon.

NFL Nation TV talks Hall of Fame

January, 29, 2015
Jan 29
11:00
AM ET
Join us at 3 p.m. ET, 12 p.m. PT Thursday for the second special NFL Nation TV Super Bowl Week Spreecast.

Episode No. 42 will review ESPN.com's recent joint venture with Pro Football Focus, which broke down how many "above-average" players each team is from contending for the Super Bowl.

The crew will also preview the Super Bowl matchup between the defending champion Seattle Seahawks and three-time winner New England Patriots as well as break down how the Pro Football Hall of Fame's upcoming class may shake out Saturday.

Host Paul Gutierrez (ESPN Nation's San Francisco 49ers reporter) and co-hosts Coley Harvey (Cincinnati Bengals reporter) and Mike Wells (Indianapolis Colts reporter) will be joined by Jeff Legwold (Denver Broncos reporter) and ESPN NFL Insider Mike Sando, both of whom are among the Hall's 46 selectors.

 

Baltimore Ravens coach John Harbaugh said recently that cornerback Jimmy Smith is expected to start running in February.

That's certainly good news for the Ravens. Their secondary wasn't the same after Smith suffered a season-ending foot injury on the opening drive of a Week 8 loss in Cincinnati.

With Smith, the Ravens were 5-2 and held quarterbacks to a 86.8 passer rating (No. 11 in the NFL). Without Smith, the Ravens were 5-4 (which includes the game at Cincinnati where Smith was hurt) and quarterbacks recorded a 93.8 passer rating (24th in the league).

Smith

With Smith, the Ravens gave up seven touchdown passes (tied for fewest in the NFL) and allowed quarterbacks to connect on 63.1 percent of their throws (15th in the NFL). Without Smith, the Ravens allowed 15 touchdown passes (tied for 13th-most in the league) and watched quarterbacks complete 65.1 percent of their passes (23rd).

Smith had a breakthrough season in 2013, and he was establishing himself as one of the top rising cornerbacks in the NFL in 2014. He has the size to press receivers at the line and the speed to run with them. His streak of not allowing a touchdown is at 11 games.

When he went down with the foot injury on a goal-line stand against the Bengals, the Ravens struggled to find any stability at Smith's spot. Four cornerbacks (Dominique Franks, Anthony Levine, Asa Jackson and Rashaan Melvin) started at right cornerback in the final eight regular-season games.

Quarterbacks noticed that Smith wasn't there. Teams threw twice as much to Smith's side after he sustained a season-ending injury.

Here is a comparison of what quarterbacks did from outside the numbers on Smith's side:

With Smith, quarterbacks completed 54.9 percent of their passes (28 of 51) and recorded a 67.5 passer rating.

Without Smith, their completion rate soared to 68 percent (70 of 103) and the passer rating jumped to 101.

Do the Ravens give up six touchdowns to Ben Roethlisberger with Smith? Do they fail to hold a 10-point lead in the fourth quarter against Philip Rivers with him?

And do they beat Tom Brady in the playoffs and advance to the AFC Championship Game with Smith? Melvin, his replacement, allowed the game-tying and winning touchdowns in the second half in New England.

In November, Smith was confident that he'd bounce back from the Lisfranc injury, which requires six months to recover. Under that timetable, Smith will be ready to participate in the Ravens' voluntary organized team activities which typically begin in late May.

Smith's absence only magnified how much the Ravens need a healthy Smith in 2015.
The Baltimore Ravens blog is reviewing the breakdown of snaps at each position:

RUNNING BACKS

Forsett
Justin Forsett: 671 snaps (65.6 percent)

Kyle Juszczyk: 438 snaps (42.8 percent)

Bernard Pierce: 150 snaps (14.6 percent)

Lorenzo Taliaferro: 130 snaps (12.7 percent)

Fitzgerald Toussaint: 23 snaps (2.2 percent)

Forsett carried the workload in his first season as the primary ballcarrier. He took over the starting job by Week 3 after Ray Rice was abruptly released and Pierce struggled with a thigh injury. Forrest's 671 snaps ranked No. 6 among NFL running backs (Matt Forte led the league with 923 snaps). In comparison, Rice totaled 675 plays in 2013.

The Ravens' backup running back spot was split between Pierce and Taliaferro. In all likelihood, Taliaferro would've ended up with the second-most snaps among Ravens' tailbacks if he hadn't suffered a season-ending foot injury in Week 14. His 130 snaps ranked No. 18 among rookie running backs in 2014. Pierce's playing time has dipped along with his effectiveness. He played 233 fewer snaps in 2014, and he was passed by undrafted rookie Toussaint by the end of the season

Juszczyk watched his playing time jump significantly. After the Ravens re-signed Vonta Leach last season, Juszczyk was only on the field for three plays in 2013. A year later, only San Francisco's Bruce Miller had more snaps at fullback than Juszczyk.
The Baltimore Ravens filled most of their openings on their coaching staff by promoting from within. The only addition was the hiring of Andy Bischoff, who has worked with new offensive coordinator Marc Trestman in the past, as the team's offensive quality control coach.

Here are the announcements made by the Ravens on Wednesday:

Chris Hewitt: Named defensive backs coach after serving as the team's assistant defensive backs coach

Matt Weiss: Appointed cornerbacks coach after being the defensive quality control and linebackers assistant

Drew Wilkins: Promoted to defensive coaching assistant after being a coaching staff assistant

Richard Angulo: Named tight ends coach after spending last year as a coaching intern for offensive quality control

Mike Macdonald: Appointed to defensive assistant after being a defensive coaching intern

Bischoff: Hired as offensive quality control coach after spending the last seven seasons with Trestman (five in Montreal and two in Chicago)

ESPN.com's AFC North reporters voted on five awards for the division (Coach of the Year, Offensive Player of the Year, Defensive Player of the Year, Rookie of the Year and Most Valuable Player), and one will be handed out each day throughout this week. Consider this our version of the NFL Honors show.

For Wednesday, it's the 2014 AFC North Defensive Player of the Year ...

There was no overwhelmingly dominant defensive player in the AFC North in 2014. That’s the result of this voting, as eight players were nominated, the most for any award. No player received more than two first-place votes.

Dumervil
The winner: Baltimore’s Elvis Dumervil, who led the division and ranked third in the league with 17 sacks. Dumervil paired with Terrell Suggs (who finished tied for third) to form the best pass-rushing tandem in the division, and perhaps the league. The two combined with 29 sacks.

Dumervil was a smart pickup by Ozzie Newsome after he left Denver following a snafu in faxing him a restructured contract offer in 2013. He had one game this past season with 3.5 sacks, and he set Baltimore’s single-season sack record.

Cleveland Browns cornerback Joe Haden finished second, with Baltimore linebacker C.J. Mosley and Suggs tying for third.

Haden went to his second consecutive Pro Bowl after a season when he had three interceptions and 20 passes broken up. Haden ranked first in the division and second in the league in passes defensed.

Suggs had his usual excellent season with 61 tackles and 12 sacks. Mosley’s 133 tackles ranked seventh in the league.

Dumervil had two first-place votes, with Pittsburgh linebacker Lawrence Timmons, Suggs and Mosley receiving one vote each.

AFC North Defensive Player of the Year: Elvis Dumervil, 10 points; Joe Haden, 5; C.J. Mosley, 4; Terrell Suggs, 4; Lawrence Timmons, 3; Tashaun Gipson, Cleveland, 2; Vincent Rey, Cincinnati, 1; George Iloka, Cincinnati, 1.

Panel of voters: Scott Brown, Jeremy Fowler, Coley Harvey, Jamison Hensley and Pat McManamon.

SPONSORED HEADLINES