By Daniel Benjamin
Just a couple of days after Baltimore Ravens coach John Harbaugh proclaimed that starting cornerback Jimmy Smith was "close" to returning, he was back on the practice field on Wednesday for the first time since Nov. 18.
Smith missed the previous two games while dealing with a back injury. The Ravens went 1-1 in those games as their defense gave up an average of 20.5 points. In those two games, opposing quarterbacks also completed 72.6 percent of their passes for an average of 292 yards per game along with four touchdowns and no interceptions.
Rookie cornerback Tavon Young and veteran Shareece Wright were torched by Dallas Cowboys' receivers for 14 catches, on 17 targets and 170 yards along with two touchdowns. The Ravens' corners did a better job against Cincinnati last week. Young and Ladarius Webb, who moved to nickel back from free safety in the second half, were credited with three pass breakups while permitting 10 receptions for 97 yards.
The Miami Dolphins, the Ravens' next opponent, have two quality receivers in Jarvis Landry and DeVante Parker. Landry and Parker have combined for 105 receptions and 1,282 yards as well as four touchdowns this year. The duo also have 20 catches of 20 or more yards.
The Baltimore Ravens could be headed to London in 2017.
The Ravens are one of several teams that are being considered to play a game outside the U.S. in 2017. The Ravens are already scheduled to play the Jacksonville Jaguars on the road next season. The Jaguars are under contract to play at least one home game per year in London through 2020.
Ravens' owner Steve Bisciotti seemed stoked about the possibility of the team playing oversees.
"I would absolutely love going to London," Bisciotti told season ticket holders on a conference call last year. "I think it would be great. Hopefully it would be the time of year that we could get a lot of fans over there, whether it [is] near Christmas or near Thanksgiving, or September when the weather is still beautiful, even in the U.K. I'm all for it. I think it would be a blast."
The Ravens are one of eight teams that hasn't ever played a game outside the U.S. The others are the Cleveland Browns, Arizona Cardinals, Philadelphia Eagles, Green Bay Packers, Carolina Panthers, Seattle Seahawks and Tennessee Titans.
Justin Tucker Named AFC Special Teams Player of the Week
Tucker was selected as the AFC Special Teams Player of the Week after accounting for 13 of the Ravens 19 points against the Bengals. Tucker connected on all four of his field goal attempts with three of them being from beyond 50 yards -- becoming the first player in NFL history to boot three field goals greater than 50 yards in one half. It marks the first time this season the honor has been bestowed to him, and the seventh time overall.
Tucker was named the AFC Special Teams Player of the Month in September after connecting on all nine of his field goal attempts, including a 53-yard game-winning kick in the final minutes in Jacksonville.
Tucker has made 34 straight field goal attempts, which is the longest active streak and sixth longest of all-time. He's 27-for-27 this season, and 15-for-15 on extra-point attempts. 18 of Tucker's 27 field goals have come from 40 yards or beyond.
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