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Ravens Insider: Ravens S Kyle Hamilton, 3 other starters questionable to play Sunday; Dolphins WR Jaylen Waddle out


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If the Ravens are going to slow down the NFL’s highest scoring offense Sunday at M&T Bank Stadium, they might have to do so without two of their best defensive players.

Safety Kyle Hamilton (knee) and cornerback Brandon Stephens (ankle) are both listed as questionable for the crucial 1 p.m. showdown between the AFC’s top two teams, though neither player practiced Friday in Owings Mills.

“It’s the time of year,” coach John Harbaugh after practice when asked about the status of Hamilton and Stephens. “Everybody who can go will be out there.”

If Baltimore (12-3) wins, it clinches the top seed in the AFC, the first-round bye in the playoffs and home-field advantage through the conference championship game. If Miami (11-4) wins, it can clinch the top spot with a Week 18 win over the Buffalo Bills or a Ravens loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers.

But stopping or even slowing down the Dolphins without Hamilton and Stephens would be challenging.

Hamilton has been the cornerstone of the Ravens’ defense, which is tops in the NFL in several metrics, and much of that success is because of his versatility and All-Pro level of play. When the second-year safety and 2022 first-round draft pick has been on the field this season, the Ravens have allowed 4.2 yards per play and have a success rate of 63.7%, which rank first and second in the NFL, respectively, per TruMedia. When he hasn’t been, the Ravens’ defense has been one of the worst in the league in those two categories.

Hamilton’s 81 tackles are also third-most on the team behind only inside linebackers Roquan Smith and Patrick Queen, and he has 13 passes defensed, four interceptions and three sacks.

Stephens, meanwhile, has been a surprising emergence for the Ravens and their most consistent cornerback on the outside. If he’s not able to play, veterans Ronald Darby or Rock Ya-Sin would likely fill the void. Baltimore is already a little thin at the position with Jalyn Armour-Davis (concussion) ruled out, though Arthur Maulet (knee) was a full participant Friday after being limited earlier in the week. If Hamilton and Maulet don’t play or are limited, that would likely mean more action in the slot for Marlon Humphrey.

The Dolphins are averaging 30.9 points per game and are likewise tops in passing yards per game (275.1) and completion percentage (.706) and second in yards per pass (8.2).

Others missing from practice Friday were wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. (rest), though he was not given an injury designation for the game, and linebacker Del’Shawn Phillips (shoulder), who is listed as questionable. Wide receiver Zay Flowers (calf) and guard Kevin Zeitler (knee/quad) are also questionable and were limited.

For the Dolphins, star wide receiver Jaylen Waddle (ankle) has been ruled out as expected, while right guard Robert Hunt (hamstring) is doubtful. Waddle ranks seventh in the NFL with 1,014 receiving yards. Braxton Berrios (23 receptions for 219 yards), Cedrick Wilson Jr. (19 for 245), River Cracraft (8 for 103), Robbie Chosen (4 for 126) and Chase Claypool are the other options at receiver, while tight end Durham Smythe has nine catches in the past two games.

Cornerback Jalen Ramsey (knee), meanwhile, was added to the injury report after being limited Friday and is questionable. Others who were limited and are questionable are running back Raheem Mostert (knee/ankle); cornerback Xavien Howard (hip/thumb); safety Jevon Holland (knees); and offensive linemen Lester Cotton (hip), Liam Eichenberg (calf/ankle) and Austin Jackson (oblique).

Dolphins coach Mike McDaniel did say Friday, however, that he is optimistic about Holland as long as there were no setbacks and that he is not worried about Mostert. Holland has been one of the league’s best safeties when healthy, while Mostert has rushed for 1,012 yards and a league-leading 18 touchdowns.

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