The Baltimore Ravens are 3-4, on a two-game losing streak and Coach John Harbaugh is redecorating the roster in hopes that the Super Bowls champions will be more cheerful by the holidays.
The Ravens cut former starting free safety Michael Huff on Wednesday as well as backup defensive end Marcus Spears, two veterans who hadn't contributed much. Huff had been benched as a starter and Spears had only 11 tackles and no sacks.
As the Ravens prepare for a pivotal Sunday game against the Cleveland Browns (3-5), they're hoping to turn around their fortunes.
"I have really high hopes for this team, and I've told the players that," Harbaugh said. "I really believe this team is going to catch fire."
The Ravens promoted safeties Omar Brown and Brynden Trawick from the practice squad to the active roster, moves intended to upgrade the special teams.
"What we'll always try to do is have the strongest roster we possibly can to be as good (of) a team as we possibly can be on Sunday," Harbaugh said. "We feel like these moves move us in that direction. We feel like these are necessary moves that we need to make to be the best team we can be (in) all three phases. Any message behind that is just ... I think guys already understand those things."
A former Oakland Raiders starter, Huff signed a three-year, $6 million deal in March to replace Ed Reed.
In seven games including one start, he had four tackles and no pass deflections.
Since signing a two-year, $2.75 million deal with the Ravens in March, Spears had dealt with knee problems.
"The message is 'Win,' plain and simple," defensive end Chris Canty said. "If you don't get your job done, they're going to find somebody else that can get it done. And in the case of Michael and Marcus, they felt like it was in the best interest of the team to move forward. Whether you agree or disagree with it doesn't really matter. It's their decisions to make and you have to move forward with that and go about the business of getting our job done on the field, which is winning football games."
The Ravens trail the Cincinnati Bengals by 2 1/2 games in the AFC North and are in second place.
"We'll do whatever it takes," Harbaugh said last week. "We'll trade guys, we'll cut guys, we'll sign guys, we'll coach guys, we'll change schemes. It doesn't matter. We have to find a way to get better. That's the business we're in. We've got the men for the job. I like our guys but that's what we've got to continue to work on."
NOTES: New Ravens running back Bernard Scott practiced with the team for the first time on Wednesday, trying to develop timing as he took handoffs and caught passes.
The former Cincinnati Bengals runner is garnering respect from his new teammates.
"I've always admired the guy," starting running back Ray Rice said. "He was definitely the scatback in Cincy, quick-hitter, speed. With Bernard Scott, we just added another third dimension to our backfield."
The compact 5-foot-10, 195-pounder has rushed for 1,035 career yards and four touchdowns with 29 receptions.
"I feel like I'm good out of the backfield in space," Scott said. "I'm willing to do whatever I need to do to get on the field and help the team. I'm very excited. I want to come out here and make plays when my number is called and help the Ravens get back on a winning track."
Scott tore his anterior cruciate ligament last season, but emphasized that he's fully healthy now.
"I feel good," he said. "I went through a hard rehab. The leg is stronger than ever. I just look forward to getting back on the field."