Ravens Cut Stokley, Bengals Look for Win Against Patriots
After spending less than two months with the Baltimore Ravens (2-2), wide receiver Brandon Stokley was released by the team on Saturday. He was out for last week’s game (groin) and in the three he did play this season with the Ravens, he had nine receptions for 79 yards.
In 2012 with the Denver Broncos (4-0), he had 45 catches for 544 yards and five touchdowns.
Some believe the move had been made to make room for wide receiver Jacoby Jones’ return. He is expected to come back soon and has been listed as questionable against the Miami Dolphins (3-1) for Sunday. He had limited participation in Thursday and Friday’s practices.
Jones, who is recovering from a sprained knee, said of his potential Sunday play said via ESPN.com, “I don’t know. I leave it up to the trainers and the coaches. You’re trying to get me in trouble with John Harbaugh. I can’t answer that question. I’m just going to take it easy [with] the process.”
Without Jones and Stokley, look for the Ravens to lean on receivers Deonta Thompson and Marlon Brown, who are also listed as questionable, to pick up more of the workload. In last week’s game against the Buffalo Bills (2-3), Thompson had four receptions for 50 yards.
In addition to releasing Stokley, the Ravens signed tight end end Billy Bajema, who had been let go by the team earlier in the week in an effort to add tackle Eugene Monroe.
Meanwhile, tight end Dennis Pitta is beginning his road to recovery from his hip injury. This week he started running and catching balls via the JUGS machine on Friday. Pitta’s been on the injured reserve-designated to return list since his injury came at the start of training camp.
He is eligible to come back to practice on Oct. 21 and then play in the Week 9 game versus the Cleveland Browns but he’s more likely to return later in the season–if at all.
This week, the Ravens will continue their losing streak against the Dolphins (-2.5, 42.5 o/u).
Bengals vs. the Patriots
With a Bengals win, it will be a first under coach Marvin Lewis’ 11-year tenure as their coach with the Patriots 4-0 for these meetings.
Lucky for the Bengals, the Patriots will come without its Pro Bowler defensive lineman Vince Wilfork. He’s now out for the season with a torn Achilles tendon. His loss will be huge with Patriots coach Bill Belichick saying, “You just don’t replace Vince Wilfork. We’ll still have his presence around the team and in the locker room and those types of things, which he’s great at. On the field we’ll miss him, but whoever is out there, those other 11 guys that are out there, we’re all going to have to pull a little bit harder.”
Without Wilfork, this could provide an opportunity for the Bengals to use their running game. Last week against the Browns, it was not utilized much with former Patriot and current Bengal BenJarvus Green-Ellis, who had a 1,008-yard season with them in 2010, running six times for 13 yards in the game.
Add in Cincinnati’s two turnovers and another poor outing by quarterback Andy Dalton (23 of 42, 206 yards and a pick), this team’s offense needs to bring its A game against the Patriots to get a win. This also includes improved play between Dalton and his star wide receiver, A.J. Green, who had seven receptions for 51 yards in the Browns’ game.
Over the last three games, he’s been averaging 46 yards while the Bengals rank No. 22 for total offense (327.5 yards per game) with its six turnovers over the last two games.
Playing with a chip on their shoulders, the Patriots get the win (-1, 45.5 o/u).