Yesterday the first practice reports were released and there weren´t really too many surprises on either side. The Baltimore Ravens are looking extremely healthy. Bernard Pierce is the only impact player that did not fully practice. Pierce´s role in the raven’s offense in the later part of the season has come to a surprise to many as he continues to take away eight to ten carries a game away from one of the best running backs in the NFL, Ray Rice. Pierce has stated that he will play on Sunday, which would leave the Ravens without any significant inactive this Sunday.
The Patriots did have a few more impact players limited at practice. The biggest concerns for the Patriots are running back Danny Woodhead and right defense end Chandler Jones. Danny Woodhead´s thumb injury does not appear to be very severe as head coach Bill Belichick mentioned that Woodhead could have re-entered the game if needed last Sunday. Woodhead´s pass-blocking skills are extremely valuable to the Patriots pass game and he is a key player in the Patriots up-tempo offense, especially against the wide array of talented pass rushers the Baltimore Ravens dispose of. Chandler Jones has played a very good rookie season and has been an extremely important component in the Patriots run defense which is 6th best in the NFL in average yards per rush against. In the game against Houston Jones left the game with an ankle and never returned. It is a very good sign to see him return to the field and definitely increases the chance of him playing on Sunday. The Patriots will need a good performance by Jones, Ninkovich and the rest of the pass rush if the Pats want to stop the deep throw attack of Joe Flacco and his receiving corps. It is definitely not impossible to sack Joe Flacco as he is the 8th most sacked quarterback of the league.
Other Patriots players limited in practice Wednesday were Trevor Scott, Marquis Cole and Nick McDonald. All three of these players did not play extensive time against the Houston Texans. Trevor Scott´s injury would have a larger impact if Chandler Jones were not able to play. Still once Jones left it was rookie Justin Francis to get the majority of snaps over Trevor Scott. Rookie Cornerback Alfonzo Dennard was not at practice at all yesterday, but it was not injury related and there have been no indications of Dennard missing Sunday’s game. Rob Gronkowski has been ruled out for this game and the rest of the playoffs because of the re-injury of his left arm. According to multiple reports he had his second surgery on his arm on Monday. This will give both Michael Hoomanawanuii and Shane Vereen larger roles in the Patriots offense. Both players played over 50 percent of their snaps after Gronkowski left the game.