EARLY BIRD: Can Ravens keep Flacco upright?

EARLY BIRD: Can Ravens keep Flacco upright?
October 9, 2013, 7:00 am
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Harbaugh: "There are so many things we can get better at"

EARLY BIRD: Waking up with the Ravens (3-2), as they return to the practice field tied with the Bengals (3-2) and Browns (3-2) for first place in the AFC North.

Two-minute topic: Can the Ravens keep Joe Flacco from being hit so often?

Flacco may be spending extra time in the whirlpool this season.

He was only sacked twice against the Dolphins, but he was hit six other times. Some of those hits were punishing blows, and it continued a season-long trend. Flacco has already been sacked 14 times, and over the past two games, he has been hit 18 times.

Obviously, the Ravens want to protect Flacco much better Sunday when they host the Packers. One player who won’t be sacking Flacco is Packers linebacker Clay Matthews, who is expected to miss a month with a thumb injury suffered against the Lions. Matthews is one of the NFL’s best edge rushers, and without him, the Packers lose their top defensive playmaker.

It remains unclear if new Ravens left tackle Eugene Monroe will play against Green Bay. His presence might help. Bryant McKinnie was beaten several times at left tackle Sunday, including the hit that caused Flacco’s high-floating quail that became a pick-six.

However, putting the Ravens’ protection problems solely on McKinnie would be unfair. The Ravens’ offensive line, as a unit, has not protected Flacco like it did during last year’s playoff run. Fixing that problem remains a primary goal for the Ravens moving forward.

Morning thought: “I’m a little upset with myself. For three quarters, they were playing me for the speed rush to the outside. Then I finally went to the power rush inside and got there. It’s a chess match. I finally made the right move.”

Ravens linebacker Elvis Dumervil, talking about his sack near the end of Sunday’s game.

More Ravens news: Ravens' offense hopes to keep Rodgers off field

Normally reliable Koch off the mark at Miami