Tag Archive | "1 Winning Drive"

Live From Owings Mills: “Smith” Ravens’ 2nd Pick, Terps’ Torrey Adds New Chapter to Amazing Story

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Live From Owings Mills: “Smith” Ravens’ 2nd Pick, Terps’ Torrey Adds New Chapter to Amazing Story

Posted on 29 April 2011 by Glenn Clark

OWINGS MILLS, Md. — Let me start with some full disclosure. I’m a University of Maryland alum and an unabashed supporter of the Terrapins football program.

I’ll follow with further full disclosure. There was no prospect in the 2011 NFL Draft that I was more familiar with than former Terps WR Torrey Smith. You probably won’t remember this gem of an “interview” from the team’s 2010 Media Day in College Park…

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=apWJYZNRyQA[/youtube]

On top of that, I coordinated a weekly appearance between Smith and AM1570 host Thyrl Nelson every Tuesday since January on “The Mobtown Sports Beat.”

Now that it’s all out there, I’ll speak freely.

And after looking past a lengthy rap-sheet to select Colorado CB Jimmy Smith in the first round, the Baltimore Ravens grabbed an amazing human being in the 2nd-round (58th pick overall) by selecting their second Smith of the week.

(They’re of course hoping he pans out to be just as good of a football player at the NFL level as well.)

Smith’s story is well-known amongst Maryland fans, and will quickly become just as known amongst similar Ravens fans who gobbled up everything Michael Oher and “The Blind Side” related two seasons ago.

As detailed in an incredible Washington Post story by Eric Prisbell (Head Coach John Harbaugh said Friday night he was “choked up” and “proud” of Smith after just reading the article), Smith’s childhood was impossibly difficult.

Smith was born three months early, undersized with meningitis and jaundice. He was rushed to an incubator and lived the first 10 weeks of his life in a hospital.

Smith’s childhood would leave him witness to a scene where his mother, Monica, was held at gunpoint by her then-husband and Smith was immediately forced to help raise his younger siblings as early as the age of four.

As recently as 2010, Smith’s mother had faced up to ten years in prison stemming from a fight with her daughter-in-law (a plea agreement would help prevent the lengthy sentence).

As I said, I’d suggest you read the story.

“You saw the celebration (after the pick was announced) when they had Torrey on TV?” asked Harbaugh following the 2nd round. “I want you to know there was a bigger celebration in our Draft room when we got this player.”

The Ravens are clearly excited about adding Smith’s size, speed and resume to a receiving corps that already features multiple Pro Bowl performers in Derrick Mason and Anquan Boldin. Smith measured in at 6’1″, 204 pounds and clocked a 4.41 time in the forty yard dash at the NFL Scouting Combine. During three seasons in College Park, he tallied 2,281 yards from scrimmage and 20 offensive touchdowns to go with 2,983 return yards and three additional TD’s.

Some scouts thought he had first-round talent, but some questions about his route-running forced him to drop into the second.

The Ravens were grateful to find him there.

“He can peal the top off a defense,” said General Manager Ozzie Newsome. “He brings that added dimension to our pass game. [Quarterback] Joe [Flacco] is a deep-thrower. Joe has the ability to throw the deep ball…he has the arm strength to do it. Now we’re giving Joe an additional weapon and that opens up our passing game.”

Newsome would go on jokingly to label Smith as a “3-point shooter” in the Ravens offense: “At any point if the ball gets in his hands, Billy [Cundiff] is coming out to kick an extra point.”

The deep-ball was sorely missing from the Ravens offense last year. The team had just seven passing plays of 40-plus yards-Mason led the team with two-during 16 regular season games and then recorded none in the postseason.

After finding out his football future would lead him up the road to Charm City, Smith told reporters he knew his character would help his transition.

“I knew the way I am as a person…the way I play fit the way they do things up there,” he said.

As much as the Ravens will benefit from the addition of Smith on the field, they will absolutely benefit from the addition of a man like Torrey Smith in their locker room as well.

Former Maryland head coach Ralph Friedgen said of Smith in the Post story, “God created a perfect person.”

The Ravens might settle for a good guy. And a really good receiver.

RAVENS DEAL FOR ANOTHER “REID”
: The Ravens dealt their third round pick (90th overall) and one of two sixth round picks (191st overall) to the Philadelphia Eagles to move up five spots and select Central Florida OT Jah Reid in the 3rd round (85th overall).

Jah Reid

Reid (6’7″, 327 pounds) was described by Newsome as a “fast-riser” on the Ravens draft board following his performance at this year’s East-West Shrine Game in Orlando.

The Ravens will start the 2010 first-team All-Conference-USA selection at RT, where he will find a bit of a crowd. Jared Gaither missed all of 2010 with a back injury and could reach free agency depending on the resolution of the CBA-dispute between the league and the NFLPA.

Marshal Yanda is a restricted free agent (expected to return) who performed admirably filling in for Gaither but Harbaugh has said the team would prefer to move him back to his more natural right guard position.

Oniel Cousins and Tony Moll have not shown themselves as viable options to play significantly. 2010 6th-round pick Ramon Harewood also missed the entire season needing surgery on both knees.

When asked what the Ravens liked about Reid, Harbaugh said: “he is long, he is powerful and he can bend.”

NOTES: The Ravens will receive no compensation from the National Football League or the Chicago Bears following a miscue during the attempt of a first-round trade. ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported NFL commissioner Roger Goodell “encouraged” the Bears to give the Ravens a 4th round pick, but the Bears chose not to do so……The Ravens are scheduled to introduce Jimmy Smith and Torrey Smith to reporters at an 11am press conference Saturday at 1 Winning Drive……The Ravens are slated to make five picks on Saturday. They currently hold one fourth round pick (123rd overall), two compensatory fifth round picks (164th and 165th overall), one sixth round pick (180th overall, acquired from the St. Louis Rams in last year’s Mark Clayton deal) and one seventh round pick (225th overall, acquired from the Eagles in last year’s Antwan Barnes deal)……Hear from Newsome, Harbaugh, Director of Player Personnel Eric DeCosta, Director of College Scouting Joe Hortiz and Torrey Smith now in the BuyAToyota.com Audio Vault here at WNST.net

-G

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Live From Owings Mills: Panic, Risk Surround Ravens’ Choice of Colorado’s Smith

Posted on 29 April 2011 by Glenn Clark

OWINGS MILLS, Md. — Does anyone remember what I said about Baltimore Ravens LB Sergio Kindle in my lede following the second round of the 2010 NFL Draft?

“In the case of Kindle, the number of red flags rivals the number that will be assembled in the corners of every pitch at this summer’s World Cup.”

As many inside the Ravens’ 1 Winning Drive facility will tell you, the story on Kindle is far from finished. Yet in the first 12 months, the first chapter has been far from what the team had hoped for. The 12 months included a fractured skull stemming from a fall at a house party in Austin that forced him to miss the season, admission to suffering from narcolepsy and a DUI arrest.

So when the name of Colorado CB Jimmy Smith was tossed around by NFL Draft analysts in the months following the end of the 2010 season, I found myself shaking my head over the idea of adding a player with the history of Smith. Smith’s rap sheet is…well…lengthy.

Smith’s history includes three failed drug tests (one of which he had admitted was codeine), two alcohol violations as a minor, an assault arrest, and two abortions paid for by the families of women he impregnated. (Rap sheet courtesy of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel.

Even after the disappointment of their first pick in 2010, the organization’s decision makers said they were unconcerned about the troubles surrounding Smith-leading them to use their first round selection (which turned out to be the 27th overall) on the former Colorado corner.

“We put him through a process” said General Manager Ozzie Newsome. “Even more so than we do some of the other players. We came away feeling that he would be able to come here and continue to be the type of player and person that he’s been for the last couple of years.”

“We all spent a great amount of time with him” added Head Coach John Harbaugh. “We think he’s got a good heart, we think he’s very committed to being a great football player. We’re going to do everything we can to help him be that. As a head football coach I’m excited about this pick.”

In a conference call immediately following the selection, Smith said it had been more than two years since he had run into trouble. He also said he was committed to not replaying his past in Baltimore.

“The things that I did were old mistakes and bad decisions that I made when I was younger and immature” said the 2010 All-Big 12 corner. “It’s in the past now. I’m just trying to best player and person off the field for the Ravens that I can possibly be.”

In other words, the first 60 minutes following the team’s selection of Smith went better than the ten minutes leading up to the pick.

I can’t help but to come back to the fact that when the Ravens were faced with the choice of selecting the former Buffaloes star at 26th overall or trading out of the pick, the Ravens decided to trade out of the pick.

That decision doesn’t exactly stand tall next to the wonderful things the front office said following Smith’s selection.

Newsome confirmed an ESPN report that the team had an agreement with “another NFL team” to deal back from the 26th pick. ESPN reported the trade partner as being the Chicago Bears-which the Ravens would not confirm following the Draft. (The Bears later confirmed they were the guilty party and offered apologies to the Ravens). Newsome said the Ravens made the agreement to trade out of the pick, but their partner never received approval from the league. The panic surrounding the dissolution of the exchange allowed the Kansas City Chiefs to step in and select Pitt WR Jon Baldwin with the 26th pick, forcing the Ravens to jump back in and select Smith 27th.

In a deal with the Bears, the Ravens likely would have moved just three spots back

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Ravens Making Final Decisions As Draft Season Comes to Close

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Ravens Making Final Decisions As Draft Season Comes to Close

Posted on 28 April 2011 by Glenn Clark

As the NFL’s labor situation finally appears to be approaching closure, we’re just hours away from the start of the 2011 NFL Draft (8pm NFL Network & ESPN).

Before I continue, I remind you of the players we have already profiled during Draft season.

QB-Ricky Dobbs (Navy), Pat Devlin (Delaware), Colin Kaepernick (Nevada), Josh Portis (California-Pennsylvania), Taylor Potts (Texas Tech), Christian Ponder (Florida State), Tyrod Taylor (Virginia Tech), Jake Locker (Washington), Greg McElroy (Alabama), Andy Dalton (TCU), Jeremiah Masoli (Ole Miss), Ricky Stanzi (Iowa), Jerrod Johnson (Texas A&M)
FB
-Anthony Sherman (Connecticut), Owen Marecic (Stanford), Shaun Chapas (Georgia)
RB
-Evan Royster (Penn State), Da’Rel Scott (Maryland), DeMarco Murray (Oklahoma), Damien Berry (Miami), Kendall Hunter (Oklahoma State), Roy Helu Jr. (Nebraska), Alex Green (Hawaii), Shane Vereen (Cal), Jordan Todman (UConn), Dion Lewis (Pitt), Jacquizz Rodgers (Oregon State), Mark Ingram (Alabama), Ryan Williams (Virginia Tech), Mikel Leshoure (Illinois), Darren Evans (Virginia Tech), Stevan Ridley (LSU)
WR
-Lester Jean (Florida Atlantic), Terrence Toliver (LSU), Leonard Hankerson (Miami), Austin Pettis (Boise State), Denarius Moore (Tennessee), Owen Spencer (North Carolina State), Jock Sanders (West Virginia), Titus Young (Boise State), Vincent Brown (San Diego State), Ryan Whalen (Stanford), Torrey Smith (Maryland), Randall Cobb (Kentucky), Jon Baldwin (Pittsburgh), Greg Salas (Hawaii), Cecil Shorts III (Mount Union), Jerrel Jernigan (Troy), Niles Paul (Nebraska), Dane Sanzenbacher (Ohio State), Greg Little (UNC)
TE-Will Yeatman (Maryland)
OT
-Matthew O’Donnell (Queens University Canada), Gabe Carimi (Wisconsin), Nate Solder (Colorado), Anthony Costanzo (Boston College), Joseph Barksdale (LSU), Derek Sherrod (Mississippi State), DeMarcus Love (Arkansas), James Brewer (Indiana)
G-Danny Watkins (Baylor), Will Rackley (Lehigh), Stefen Wisniewski (Penn State), Mike Pouncey (Florida)
C-Zane Taylor (Utah), Kris O’Dowd (Southern Cal), Rodney Hudson (Florida State), Brandon Fusco (Slippery Rock)
DE
-Justin Trattou (Florida), Allen Bailey (Miami), Eddie Jones (Texas), Ryan Kerrigan (Purdue), Brooks Reed (Arizona), Cliff Matthews (South Carolina), JJ Watt (Wisconsin), Cameron Heyward (Ohio State), Dontay Moch (Nevada), D’Aundre Reed (Arizona), Aldon Smith (Missouri), Adrian Clayborn (Iowa), Sam Acho (Texas), Ryan Winterswyk (Boise State), Christian Ballard (Iowa), Ricky Elmore (Arizona), Robert Quinn (North Carolina), Jabaal Sheard (Pitt)
DT-Muhammad Wilkerson (Temple), Corey Liuget (Illinois)
LB
-Mark Herzlich (Boston College), Casey Matthews (Oregon), Adrian Moten (Maryland), Nate Irving (NC State), Colin McCarthy (Miami), Martez Wilson (Illinois), Kelvin Sheppard (Louisiana State), Alex Wujciak (Maryland), Akeem Dent (Georgia), Justin Houston (Georgia), Akeem Ayers (UCLA), Jonathan Cornell (Mississippi)
S
-Jermale Hines (Ohio State), Jaiquawn Jarrett (Temple), Maurice Rolle (Louisiana-Lafayette), Rahim Moore (UCLA), Ahmad Black (Florida), Will Hill (Florida)
CB-Anthony Gaitor (Florida International), Aaron Williams (Texas), Jalil Brown (Colorado), Jimmy Smith (Colorado), DeMarcus Van Dyke (Miami), Brandon Harris (Miami), Ras-I Dowling (Virginia), Richard Sherman (Stanford), Brandon Burton (Utah), Curtis Marsh (Utah State), Chris Culliver (South Carolina), Buster Skrine (Chattanooga), Justin Rogers (Richmond)
K-Kemar Scarlett (Morgan State)

If you missed any of those profiles, you can check them out in the archives here at WNST.net.

Part 1-A look at players who participated in the East West Shrine Game in Orlando, Florida
Part 2-A look at players who participated in the Senior Bowl in Mobile, Alabama
Part 3-A look at players who participated in the NFLPA Game (former Texas vs. The Nation Game) in San Antonio, Texas
Parts 456-Previews of players ahead of the NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis
Part 7-A look back at players who made in impact at the National Football League Scouting Combine at LucasOil Stadium in Indy
Parts 8910-A look at players who participated in early Pro Timing Days
Parts 11 & 12-Players the Ravens have shown direct interest in

The Baltimore Ravens (obviously) made no personnel changes this week, so my team needs remain the same…

1. Defensive End
2. Offensive Tackle
3. Wide Receiver
4. Cornerback
5. Fullback
6. Inside Linebacker
7. Safety
8. Center
9. Running Back
10. Quarterback

Here are ten final prospects we have yet to profile during Draft season.

Thanks to CBSSports.com/NFLDraftScout.com, NFLDraftBible.com, WNST.net (The AP), ESPN.com, NFL.com, Wikipedia, YouTube and various official athletic websites for helping to put together the profiles.

DE Cam Jordan (Cal)

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LOx7bqKP4m0[/youtube]

Fewer and fewer folks believe the former Golden Bears pass rusher will be on the board when the Ravens pick at 26. If he were to somehow slip, you’d assume GM Ozzie Newsome and company would be quick to grab him.

Jordan (6’4″, 287 pounds) has good speed (4.74 40) and had solid productivity (17 total sacks) during his career in Berkeley. It’s very clear why he’s viewed as a Top 20 pick.

Conversation about Jordan almost has to include a nod to his father (Steve Jordan), who was a six time Pro Bowl TE for the Minnesota Vikings during his own very solid 13 year NFL career.

I mocked Jordan to the San Diego Chargers in our Morning Reaction First Round Draft this week. I just don’t see him getting to 26. But if he somehow did, I would have to assume he would be donning purple.

RB Taiwan Jones (Eastern Washington)

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=64ohYkArJfU[/youtube]

Which do you think Jones has been asked about more during Draft season: jumping backwards out of a pool or playing football on red turf?

Both are pretty cool.

Jones (6’0″, 196 pounds) has TREMENDOUS speed (4.35 40) and was unbelievably productive during his college career in Cheney. He finished with 3,858 yards of total offense and 36 total TD’s over the last two seasons with the Eagles. He capped his career by helping EWU defeat Delaware in the FCS title game.

Jones is one of a number of backs who decided to leave school a season early this year despite not being guaranteed an early selection in the Draft. Those backs have clearly seen a pattern in the NFL where teams get more and more concerned with the number of carries a player brings with him to his pro career.

That being said, teams are always apt to add additional runners-with significant carries coming for 3-5 backs per team anymore. The Ravens have an interesting situation in their own backfield; as they will be looking to complement Ray Rice. Willis McGahee is expected to be released, Le’Ron McClain is a free agent and is a question mark to return at best.

The Ravens might need more size/bulk than what Jones has to offer, but his unique combination of decent size and amazing speed might be hard to pass up on as he’s available late Friday night and into Saturday.

WR Edmond Gates (Abilene Christian)

edmundgates

The comparisons to Chicago Bears WR Johnny Knox will be inevitable for Gates, especially after posting a 4.31 40-which was actually .03 quicker than his fellow former Wildcats receiver at the Combine. The knock on Knox (see what I did there?) has been his hands, and that will certainly be a question mark for Gates as well.

Gates had a sparkling senior season to wrap his career, grabbing 66 catches for 1,182 yards and 13 TD’s. It is a bit easier to dominate the Lone Star Conference than it is to dominate the SEC however.

Gates could be an intriguing option for a Ravens team desperately seeking a “home run” threat. He’s not huge (6’0″, 192 pounds); but his size certainly gives him potential “stretch the field” ability. They don’t have that in starters Anquan Boldin or Derrick Mason; and didn’t get it from free agents TJ Houshmandzadeh or Donte’ Stallworth a season ago.

Like Jones, Gates is likely a late Friday/early Saturday selection. Should the Ravens not go receiver early, they’d definitely be the type of team that could be in the market for a player the former ACU star.

CB Curtis Brown (Texas)

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uUr4wswq9us[/youtube]

While former Longhorns teammate Aaron Williams has received much more attention, plenty of teams have shown interest in Brown.

It makes sense, as there’s plenty about Brown to like. He has above average size (6’0″, 185 pounds) and solid speed (4.51 40). Despite finishing his career in Austin with just two interceptions, he managed to return one for a 77 yard touchdown.

Brown already has a tie to Charm City, as his uncle Hosea Taylor played DE for the Baltimore Colts in1981 & 1983 after a career at the University of Houston.

The Ravens don’t know the extent of their troubles at CB just yet. With this week’s developments in Minnesota, only Chris Carr and Fabian Washington are guaranteed to reach free agency under 2010 CBA rules. Josh Wilson could gain free agency under new CBA rules, but that scenario appears less and less likely. That would leave Wilson, Domonique Foxworth and Lardarius Webb as the team’s top 3 corners with Cary Williams still behind them.

Many folks believe the Ravens will try to select Colorado’s Jimmy Smith in the first round of the Draft. If they don’t do that, it is widely believed the team will pick a corner at some point in the Draft despite the depth they appear to have. Brown is probably a Friday night selection, and could certainly be an intriguing one for the Ravens.

OT James Carpenter (Alabama)

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dp8wSEAEMP4[/youtube]

Well…we all know Newsome is SOMEHOW going to continue the Tuscaloosa to Baltimore pipeline, right?

The Ravens would certainly do well to add a player like Carpenter on Friday night, as they have major O-Line issues they’re dealing with. OT Jared Gaither is no guarantee to return-although the CBA issue could still have some effect on that.

Should Gaither depart, new O-Line coach Andy Moeller may decide to keep G/T Marshal Yanda at RT and Chris Chester at RG. The team got average to slightly above average production from that group a season ago.

The team would seem more likely to look for an upgrade at RT, which Carpenter could provide despite not being a first round caliber tackle.

Carpenter is a monster (6’4″, 321 pounds) who helped lead the way for a Heisman Trophy winner (RB Mark Ingram) and an undefeated QB (Greg McElroy) in 2009. He played two solid seasons for the Crimson Tide at LT after transferring from Coffeyville Community College.

All of the good ones come from Coffeyville, don’t they?

QB T.J. Yates (North Carolina)

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I_B8HCfUqv4[/youtube]

Yes, I think the Ravens are going to take a quarterback at some point during the Draft.

Yes, I think backup QB Marc Bulger will leave town during the offseason. (Heck, some folks are already talking about him as if he already played for the Arizona Cardinals.)

That being said, I don’t think the Ravens will be drafting a QB early during the weekend. I think they’ll look for a veteran backup and will instead draft a QB who can compete for a potential 3rd QB role behind Joe Flacco.

Yates (6’3″, 219 pounds) had an up and down career for the Tar Heels, but left Chapel Hill on a very high note. He threw for 3,418 yards and 19 TD’s as a senior with just nine interceptions mixed in.

He won’t be a Thursday or Friday selection, but he could certainly be a player for the Ravens to consider on Saturday.

There is a bit of a problem when it comes to Yates however.

On his bio, his hometown is listed as Marietta, Georgia. That’s all well and good. But then there’s an additional issue, courtesy of the UNC official site…

“Favorite NFL team is the Indianapolis Colts…Followed the Indianapolis Colts as a kid because he grew up in Indianapolis”

It’s just not going to work.

DE Pernell McPhee (Mississippi State)

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uuBr52sVC5A[/youtube]

Breaking news. The Ravens are interested in pass rush help.

McPhee was not a pass rush monster during his career in Starkville (just seven sacks over two seasons after transferring from Itawamba Community College), but he was still effective.

He has good size (6’3″, 278 pounds) but his mobility has limited him (4.91 40).

He’s not Trevor Pryce, but he might be a nice complement to Haloti Ngata, Kelly Gregg and Cory Redding along the D-Line. He appears to be another late Friday/early Saturday selection; meaning he could be an option should the Ravens go elsewhere in the first two rounds.

He’s not “the answer”, but the former Bulldogs rusher could certainly be part of “the equation” in upgrading the pass rush this offseason.

CB Davon House (New Mexico State)

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J9g1Ff0odmc[/youtube]

Totally off the radar until reports said he visited Owings Mills, the former NMSU corner now appears a more and more likely candidate to be selected by the Ravens.

House (6’1″, 200 pounds) matches his good size with solid speed (4.44 40) and was incredibly productive during his time with the Aggies. He finished his career in Las Cruces with 202 tackles, 11 interceptions (three returned for TD’s) and a forced fumble.

House could go anywhere from early Friday to mid-Saturday. Should the Ravens not select a corner like Smith in the first round, they could potentially add House later on in the weekend.

Did you miss House earlier this month with Thyrl Nelson on “The Mobtown Sports Beat” on AM1570 WNST? Hit the BuyAToyota.com Audio Vault here at WNST.net.

TE Kyle Rudolph (Notre Dame)

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f6UwzaYPCq8[/youtube]

Every time I noticed Rudolph connected to the Ravens at 26, it was followed by the following statement.

“The Ravens are going to have to draft an heir apparent to Todd Heap at some point.”

I’m guessing the folks who wrote that didn’t pay much attention to the team’s Draft just a season ago.

The Ravens finished the 2010 season with four Tight Ends on the active roster (Heap, 2010 picks Ed Dickson & Dennis Pitta and 2009 pick Davon Drew). Drew still doesn’t appear to have much of a long-term role with the team, but the team certainly has high expectations for Dickson and Pitta.

Rudolph’s senior numbers are not at all impressive (28 catches, 328 yards, three TD’s), but he missed the final six games of the season due to a hamstring injury. Of course, that’s just another red flag teams will have to consider before selecting him.

He’s not likely to be an explosive offensive threat at the NFL level, but he certainly appears to be a solid NFL prospect at 6’6″, 259 pounds-even with a 4.83 40.

He’s going to go late Thursday or early Friday. I just doubt he’ll be getting introduced at 1 Winning Drive anytime soon.

P Travis Baltz (Maryland)

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5oW9How9TAY[/youtube]

Two things.

1-The Ravens clearly aren’t interested in a punter. The extension they gave Sam Koch proves just how happy they are in their former Draft pick.

2-There is little to no chance the former Terrapins punter ends up getting picked, but he’s very likely to get picked up and be given a look.

Baltz finished his career in College Park with 224 punts for 9,224 yards-averaging 41.2 yards per boot. He also spent his senior season as the Terps’ kicker, making 14 of 18 field goals and 53 of 54 extra points.

Baltz’s first goal will be to get a Training Camp invite from….someone. It will be difficult for him to make it to an active roster, but reaching one goal first will help in his pursuit.

Flexing my mic muscles since 1983…

-G

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A Final Week of Private Workouts As Draft Season Nears Culmination

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A Final Week of Private Workouts As Draft Season Nears Culmination

Posted on 23 April 2011 by Glenn Clark

We’re less than a week away from the kickoff of the NFL Draft (Thursday night-8pm-ESPN & NFL Network), but we’ve already seen the end of Private workout season, as the Ravens hosted their final private workouts this week.

Now GM Ozzie Newsome, Director of Player Personnel Eric DeCosta, Director of College Scouting Joe Hortiz, Head Coach John Harbaugh, Owner Steve Bisciotti, Team President Dick Cass, VP of Football Administation Pat Moriarty and the entire scouting staff will be involved in the process before the team makes their first pick.

Before I continue, I remind you of the players we have already profiled during Draft season.

QB-Ricky Dobbs (Navy), Pat Devlin (Delaware), Colin Kaepernick (Nevada), Josh Portis (California-Pennsylvania), Taylor Potts (Texas Tech), Christian Ponder (Florida State), Tyrod Taylor (Virginia Tech), Jake Locker (Washington), Greg McElroy (Alabama), Andy Dalton (TCU), Jeremiah Masoli (Ole Miss), Ricky Stanzi (Iowa), Jerrod Johnson (Texas A&M)
FB
-Anthony Sherman (Connecticut), Owen Marecic (Stanford), Shaun Chapas (Georgia)
RB
-Evan Royster (Penn State), Da’Rel Scott (Maryland), DeMarco Murray (Oklahoma), Damien Berry (Miami), Kendall Hunter (Oklahoma State), Roy Helu Jr. (Nebraska), Alex Green (Hawaii), Shane Vereen (Cal), Jordan Todman (UConn), Dion Lewis (Pitt), Jacquizz Rodgers (Oregon State), Mark Ingram (Alabama), Ryan Williams (Virginia Tech), Mikel Leshoure (Illinois), Darren Evans (Virginia Tech), Stevan Ridley (LSU)
WR
-Lester Jean (Florida Atlantic), Terrence Toliver (LSU), Leonard Hankerson (Miami), Austin Pettis (Boise State), Denarius Moore (Tennessee), Owen Spencer (North Carolina State), Jock Sanders (West Virginia), Titus Young (Boise State), Vincent Brown (San Diego State), Ryan Whalen (Stanford), Torrey Smith (Maryland), Randall Cobb (Kentucky), Jon Baldwin (Pittsburgh), Greg Salas (Hawaii), Cecil Shorts III (Mount Union), Jerrel Jernigan (Troy), Niles Paul (Nebraska), Dane Sanzenbacher (Ohio State)
TE-Will Yeatman (Maryland)
OT
-Matthew O’Donnell (Queens University Canada), Gabe Carimi (Wisconsin), Nate Solder (Colorado), Anthony Costanzo (Boston College), Joseph Barksdale (LSU), Derek Sherrod (Mississippi State), DeMarcus Love (Arkansas), James Brewer (Indiana)
G-Danny Watkins (Baylor), Will Rackley (Lehigh)
C-Zane Taylor (Utah), Kris O’Dowd (Southern Cal), Rodney Hudson (Florida State), Brandon Fusco (Slippery Rock)
DE
-Justin Trattou (Florida), Allen Bailey (Miami), Eddie Jones (Texas), Ryan Kerrigan (Purdue), Brooks Reed (Arizona), Cliff Matthews (South Carolina), JJ Watt (Wisconsin), Cameron Heyward (Ohio State), Dontay Moch (Nevada), D’Aundre Reed (Arizona), Aldon Smith (Missouri), Adrian Clayborn (Iowa), Sam Acho (Texas), Ryan Winterswyk (Boise State), Christian Ballard (Iowa), Ricky Elmore (Arizona)
DT-Muhammad Wilkerson (Temple)
LB
-Mark Herzlich (Boston College), Casey Matthews (Oregon), Adrian Moten (Maryland), Nate Irving (NC State), Colin McCarthy (Miami), Martez Wilson (Illinois), Kelvin Sheppard (Louisiana State), Alex Wujciak (Maryland), Akeem Dent (Georgia), Justin Houston (Georgia)
S
-Jermale Hines (Ohio State), Jaiquawn Jarrett (Temple), Maurice Rolle (Louisiana-Lafayette), Rahim Moore (UCLA), Ahmad Black (Florida), Will Hill (Florida)
CB-Anthony Gaitor (Florida International), Aaron Williams (Texas), Jalil Brown (Colorado), Jimmy Smith (Colorado), DeMarcus Van Dyke (Miami), Brandon Harris (Miami), Ras-I Dowling (Virginia), Richard Sherman (Stanford), Brandon Burton (Utah), Curtis Marsh (Utah State), Chris Culliver (South Carolina), Buster Skrine (Chattanooga)

If you missed any of those profiles, you can check them out in the archives here at WNST.net.

Part 1-A look at players who participated in the East West Shrine Game in Orlando, Florida
Part 2-A look at players who participated in the Senior Bowl in Mobile, Alabama
Part 3-A look at players who participated in the NFLPA Game (former Texas vs. The Nation Game) in San Antonio, Texas
Parts 456-Previews of players ahead of the NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis
Part 7-A look back at players who made in impact at the National Football League Scouting Combine at LucasOil Stadium in Indy
Parts 8, 9 & 10-A look at players who participated in early Pro Timing Days
Part 11-Players the Ravens have shown direct interest in

The Baltimore Ravens (obviously) made no personnel changes this week, so my team needs remain the same…

1. Defensive End
2. Offensive Tackle
3. Wide Receiver
4. Cornerback
5. Fullback
6. Inside Linebacker
7. Safety
8. Center
9. Running Back
10. Quarterback

Here are ten more prospects-all of whom have been shown special attention by the Ravens during Draft season. (Reported by WNST.net, National Football Post, Carroll County Times, Baltimore Sun, Pro Football Weekly or others.)

Thanks to CBSSports.com/NFLDraftScout.com, NFLDraftBible.com, WNST.net (The AP), ESPN.com, NFL.com, Wikipedia, YouTube and various official athletic websites for helping to put together the profiles.

DT Corey Liuget (Illinois)

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tlprPUyKL8M[/youtube]

It might have surprised some to see that Liuget had visited Owings Mills for a meeting with the Ravens. The team has PLENTY of depth on the D-Line (with the exception of rush end). Behind Haloti Ngata, Kelly Gregg and Cory Redding, the team has the likes of Brandon McKinney, Terrence Cody, Arthur Jones, Lamar Divens and Kelly Talavou to play the position.

Liuget remains an intriguing prospect. He’s an outstanding gap filler at 6’2″, 298; and even managed eight sacks during his career with the Fighting Illini-five of those coming in 2010.

Liuget is expected to come off the board as early as the mid-teens in the first round. Should he fall, the Ravens would find themselves with a difficult decision-as it would be hard to imagine they have many players higher on their board than a player with Liuget’s ability.

Liuget has been a steady riser during Draft season. The Ravens have to be impressed by the fact that he’s capable of playing in both the three and the five technique-and his Pro Day workout in Champaign was reportedly quite impressive.

He might not seem to fight an immediate need-but he simply can’t be ruled out as the Ravens’ first round choice.

CB Justin Rogers (Richmond)

justinrogers

If you’ve been following my Draft updates, you should be well aware of the Ravens’ issues at Cornerback.

Josh Wilson, Chris Carr and Fabian Washington are slated to become unrestricted free agents. Cary Williams is an exclusive rights free agent. Domonique Foxworth missed the entire 2010 season due to a torn ACL.

The team is going to have to address the defensive secondary SOMEHOW during the offseason-by retaining their own players or adding new ones (or more likely a combination of both).

Rogers recently visited 1 Winning Drive, giving the Ravens a chance to take a better look at the CAA prospect. His size (5’11″, 180 pounds) is not exceptional, but his 4.40 Pro Day 40 time certainly is.

His Spiders career was certainly exceptional as well, as he finished his four seasons with 12 interceptions (three of which were returned for touchdowns.) He showed himself plenty capable of being a matchup corner-albeit against FCS competition.

He’s not going to come off the board until Saturday. Most pundits believe the team will have picked a corner before then-but it doesn’t rule out the possibility that the team could still add Rogers.

LB Akeem Ayers (UCLA)

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J36hhdBm9QU[/youtube]

The Ravens certainly aren’t the only team that has shown interest in Ayers, as half the league (or more) has hosted the former Bruins backer. But it doesn’t change the fact that the interest in Ayers from General Manager Ozzie Newsome and the team is genuine.

That being said, Ayers isn’t a perfect fit for Chuck Pagano’s defense. While he’s shown an ability to get after quarterbacks (11 sacks during his career in Los Angeles), he can’t be fairly expected to be a true “rush backer.”

Of course, the Ravens already have one of those players in LB Terrell Suggs, so they’re really only in need of a complement to T-Sizzle.

Ayers is a more complete standup backer, as he added 6 interceptions (two returned for touchdowns) to his numbers at UCLA. He has mammoth size (6’3″, 254 pounds) and pretty good speed to boot (4.69 40 at his Pro Day).

As the Ravens look to address their rush early in the draft, they’ll have to decide on whether they’re looking for more of a down lineman or a stand-up backer. My guess is that they’re looking for more of a hybrid-as it will allow them to keep LB Jarret Johnson on the field significantly-but slide a rusher back in obvious passing situations.

Ayers likely won’t stick around until the team’s 2nd round choice (at 58). The team will probably have to pull the trigger at 26 or miss out.

(Ayers joined Rex Snider on “The Afternoon Drive” on AM1570 WNST Thursday, that chat can be heard in the BuyAToyota.com Audio Vault here at WNST.net.)

G/C Stefen Wisniewski (Penn State)

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jPMkroHBPqM[/youtube]

If selected by the Ravens, Wisniewski would not be the first Wisniewski to play Pro Football in Charm City.

His father (Leo Wisniewski) was selected by the Baltimore Colts in the second round of the 1982 NFL Draft. His family tree is rooted in NFL tradition, as his uncle (Steve Wisniewski) was an eight time Pro Bowl guard for the LA/Oakland Raiders and still an assistant O-Line coach for the team.

Clearly football is in his blood.

The Ravens could be well served to add the 6’3″, 313 pound interior lineman to their O-Line. Wisniewski played more Guard in Happy Valley, but many teams believe he will be a Center at the NFL level.

The Ravens have flux at both positions, as G Marshal Yanda is a restricted free agent-but could be asked to return to OT should unrestricted free agent Jared Gaither depart. While C Matt Birk decided to return this season, he is widely expected to be playing in his final NFL season. G/C Chris Chester is also a restricted free agent, but isn’t widely viewed as a “Center of the future” type.

Wisniewski is likely to be a Friday night pick. It would be easy to imagine new Offensive Line coach Andy Moeller rooting to add a player with the bloodlines of a Wisniewski.

DE Robert Quinn (North Carolina)

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kqJrjwjf55c[/youtube]

The word “interesting” doesn’t even begin to describe Quinn as a NFL Draft prospect.

Quinn is likely better known for his off the field history coming into his pro career than he is for his on field ability. He was suspended for the 2010 season after the NCAA determined he had lied to investigators about receiving improper travel accommodations and jewelry.

When asked how the scandal could affect Quinn (and former UNC teammates Marvin Austin & Greg Little) at the Ravens’ annual Pre-Draft Luncheon, Newsome pointed out the Ravens had an advantage because Pagano was the DC in Chapel Hill back in 2007.

Quinn is widely believed to be a Top 10 talent in this year’s draft class-but the off field trouble has left in doubt where he will end up being selected. That’s where the Ravens come in. Should he continue to fall, the team would have the opportunity to select him at 26th or even consider moving up a few spots to get him.

Quinn has the physique of the type of rush end the Ravens are interested in adding to their defense. He’s 6’4″, 265 pounds and has really good speed (4.59 40 at his Pro Day). In two seasons with the Tar Heels, he tallied 13 sacks-11 of which came in 2009.

As well as addressing the off field trouble, the Ravens have to determine whether or not the year off will also hurt Quinn on the field.

If he slides, it will be awfully difficult decision on whether or not the team should take the chance.

LB Jonathan Cornell (Mississippi)

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tCO9L3kFDrg[/youtube]

Despite the fact that only a few players in the history of the NFL have even been worthy of being mentioned in the same SENTENCE as future Hall of Fame LB Ray Lewis, the words “heir apparent to Ray Lewis” tend to get thrown around frequently during Draft season.

It ultimately is never fair to any Inside Linebacker the Ravens select, which Tavares Gooden has found out in recent years.

Gooden, Dannell Ellerbe and Jameel McClain have failed to nail down the WILL LB spot next to the perennial Pro Bowler, and Jason Phillips hasn’t been able to work his way on the field regularly. We also know Lewis won’t be around forever…even if it feels like he might be.

At 6’1″, 236 pounds; some scouts are going to label Cornell as “undersized.” Of course, some of those same scouts said the same thing about that former Miami Hurricanes LB in 1996. Cornell certainly showed an ability to make tackles, finishing his Rebels career with 215 tackles and eight sacks. His 4.76 forty time at his Pro Day in Oxford had to be considered at least a bit disappointing.

There’s no guarantee that Cornell gets drafted at all. Ellerbe and McClain both made the team’s roster out of Training Camp after not being selected. The Ravens will be a bit more hamstrung in the late rounds of this year’s Draft, as they will be unable to sign undrafted free agents until the NFL’s labor dispute is resolved.

With that in mind, Director of Player Personnel Eric DeCosta and company will know that it might be more necessary than ever to not risk exposing a player like Cornell to a prolonged post-Draft free agency period.

DE Jabaal Sheard (Pitt)

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VUXMVmDwvmA[/youtube]

Sometimes a team finds red flags in a player that concern them as they make a decision in whether or not they should be drafted.

Other times a team finds positive attributes that make the decision to draft the player a true slam dunk.

In the case of Sheard…well…there’s…both? From the Carroll County Times…

“He was arrested last summer for felony aggravated assault and resisting arrest after an altercation in a bar where he threw a man through a glass door. He pleaded guilty to disorderly conduct, was ordered to apologize and pay medical bills. He was suspended from the team for two weeks as well as internal discipline.

He was awarded a medal for bravery years ago for helping an elderly woman escape from a burning home.”

When not getting arrested or helping elderly women from their homes, Sheard has been a hell of a pass rusher for the Panthers. He’s tallied 19 sacks over the last three seasons, and is viewed as a player who could stand up or put his hand in the dirt at the next level.

Sheard is a beast of a man, measuring in at 6’3″, 264 pounds and clocking in with a 4.68 forty time at the Combine. Scouts have been impressed with his bull rush abilities and the way he handled double teams when teammate Greg Romeus got hurt in 2010.

The Ravens are expected to address DE/OLB early in the Draft. Sheard is unlikely to stick around until the 58th pick and might not be a stretch at all should he come off the board at 26.

WR Greg Little (North Carolina)

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SHwr7WlO77E[/youtube]

So remember all of those things I said about Quinn? Let’s repeat them for Little.

It’s hard to imagine how the year off will affect him, but we do not it took away an opportunity for him to prove himself as a superior pass-catcher.

Little played just a season and a half at receiver after starting his ACC career at Running Back. He finished his UNC career with 1,774 yards of total offense and 12 combined touchdowns. But the only numbers scouts can really use in considering his potential NFL ability are his 62 catches for 724 yards and five TD’s in 2009.

Ironically, Little has good size (6’3″, 231 pounds) but only decent speed (4.51 forty at the Combine). Unfortunately, he’s never really established himself as an outside or over the top receiver, so teams are hard pressed to determine whether or not he’ll be able to be much more than a slot option.

The Ravens probably have receivers like Little on the roster already. He’s similar to Anquan Boldin, certainly thicker than Derrick Mason. The team will have tough decisions to make with unrestricted free agents T.J. Houshmandzadeh and Donte’ Stallworth, but neither are really expected back in Charm City next season.

The team is more likely to think big and fast when it comes to receiver upgrades, as they desperately need to stretch the field vertically and extend the field horizontally. The team could use more than one receiver in their upgrade process, which could be where Little fits the picture.

If the team doesn’t go receiver early in the Draft, they could certainly consider grabbing Little on Friday night and trying to use free agency (which should be coming…eventually) to add a superior playmaker to their corps.

G/C Mike Pouncey (Florida)

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=klPDvs5vvAM[/youtube]

One AFC scout said this to me about the predicament the Ravens could find themselves in when it comes to Pouncey at 26.

“Well…they’d have to take him…they couldn’t afford the risk of him joining his brother in Pittsburgh.”

Clearly that doesn’t ACTUALLY mean the Ravens would have to select Pouncey at 26, but it is a tough decision they’d face. The Ravens have struggled to get consistent pressure on Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger over the years, which has allowed for Pittsburgh to dominate the AFC North. Every decision they make this offseason must be made knowing the road to the Super Bowl will go directly through the Steel City.

Should Mike Pouncey join his brother Maurkice Pouncey, the Steelers’ O-Line would clearly become that much stronger. It would also make the Ravens’ road to Super Bowl XLVI even more difficult.

That being said, the Ravens’ interest in Pouncey isn’t solely based on keeping him out of Pittsburgh. Offensive Coordinator Cam Cameron would be well served to add a player of Pouncey’s size (6’5″, 303) and ability to his O-Line. Pouncey is more likely to begin his career at guard than center; and the Ravens could ultimately shift Yanda to tackle should Gaither depart and stick with Pouncey at RG. The move would also give them a potential “center of the future” should Birk retire following the season.

Most scouts believe Pouncey isn’t quite as NFL ready as his brother was, but it’s hard too many rookies being as NFL ready as his brother was. Few scouts doubt the fact that Pouncey is an outstanding talent however, which is why he could go off at the board at 26 or earlier.

Head Coach John Harbaugh spent real time with Pouncey at the NFL Combine. The other head coach Pouncey said he spent real time with in Indy?

Mike Tomlin…of course.

K Kemar Scarlett (Morgan State)

kemarscarlett

Scarlett gained attention in recent weeks after a lengthy ESPN.com profile and an appearance with Thyrl Nelson on “The Mobtown Sports Beat” on AM1570 WNST recently. (That interview can be heard in the BuyAToyota.com Audio Vault here at WNST.net.)

The Ravens visited Scarlett’s Pro Day over on Hillen Road, but make no mistake-they’re very happy with their own kicker (Billy Cundiff) and they have no interest in Scarlett or any other kicker available in this year’s Draft. It’s certainly a refreshing change for Special Teams Coordinator Jerry Rosburg after the last two offseasons.

That being said, Scarlett had a nice career for the Bears; connecting on 27 of 34 field goal attempts, including two 47 yard boots during his senior season.

Scarlett will have an opportunity to play football professionally…it just isn’t going to start with him hearing his name called in the NFL Draft.

Flexing my mic muscles since 1983…

-G

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Top 10 Baseball Distractions

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Top 10 Baseball Distractions

Posted on 18 April 2011 by Glenn Clark

Honorable Mention: Mixed Martial Arts-Bellator Fighting Championships 42 (Saturday 9pm from Concho, OK live on MTV2); Arena Football: AFL Kansas City Command @ Chicago Rush (Friday 8pm from Chicago live on NFL Network); Soccer: MLS-New York Red Bulls @ DC United (Thursday 8pm from RFK Stadium live on ESPN2); Tennis: ATP Barcelona Open BancSabadell (Friday 6:30am, Saturday & Sunday 4pm from Barcelona on Tennis Channel); Golf: PGA Tour The Heritage (Thursday & Friday 3pm live on Golf Channel, Saturday & Sunday 3pm live on CBS. All golf from Hilton Head, SC); Champions Tour Liberty Mutual Legends of Golf (Friday 12:30pm live on Golf Channel, Saturday & Sunday 1pm live on CBS. All golf from Savannah, GA)

10. Rush (Friday 7:30pm 1st Mariner Arena); Coheed and Cambria (Tuesday 7pm Rams Head Live, Wednesday 7pm 9:30 Club), Crack The Sky (Saturday 8pm Rams Head Live); Rooney (Wednesday 7pm Bourbon Street); John Popper & The Duskray Troubadours (Tuesday 8pm Rams Head On Stage, Thursday 8:30pm State Theatre), Bret Michaels (Thursday 8pm Rams Head On Stage); Michael McDonald (Thursday-Saturday DC Improv); Charlie Sheen (Tuesday 8pm D.A.R. Constitution Hall); Stephen Kellogg (Friday 8:30pm Jammin’ Java-Vienna); Soulive (Saturday 9pm State Theatre); Local H (Sunday 8:30pm Rock & Roll Hotel), J Roddy Walston & The Business (Wednesday 8:30pm Rock & Roll Hotel); Saliva (Monday 7pm Jaxx); Gorillaz “The Fall” available in stores/on iTunes (Tuesday)

I’m ABSOLUTELY done with the Charlie Sheen fascination. I’m done even with the morbid curiosity. Unless he’s donning a Cleveland Indians jersey and hurling fastballs, I’m simply not interested.

I AM interested however in a Charm City appearance by the holy trinity…

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U7DFsBcVMDA[/youtube]

Love Blues Traveler? You’re a good American. I loved Blues Traveler myself and will absolutely admit that I’m all in on John Popper’s new project…

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6f5xq5bRaQU[/youtube]

Want to hear something that TOTALLY kicks ass? Here are Soulive and Robert Randolph doing Michael Jackson’s “Don’t Stop ‘Til You Get Enough”…

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JC_HXU-N3Ac[/youtube]

I’m not sure if anyone is still in the band, but I know Local H at least USED to be pretty awesome…

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E2Oe5YKhzCE[/youtube]

9. Glenn Clark’s Easter Plans (Sunday)

Here’s what I know. I DEMANDED Cadbury Cream Eggs Benedict from my girlfriend last year and she failed. It had better not happen again…

cadburycreameggsbenedict

This is proof that God exists…I think.

8. Mortal Kombat available on Playstation3/XBox360 (Tuesday)

11 year old Glenn Clark is FREAKING OUT RIGHT NOW.

If Streetfighter Turbo comes next, I might be in full blown panic mode.

While we’re on the subject of video games, how many folks do you know that are Grand Champions in NFL Blitz 2000?

The answer is at least one.

blitz

7. College Football: Navy Blue-Gold Spring Game (Friday 7pm from Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium live on CBS Sports)

I won’t be able to make it out to Annapolis Friday night, but I do have a couple of thoughts related to College Football.

1-Alabama fans have to be at least a LITTLE embarrassed by the Nick Saban statue that was unveiled in Tuscaloosa, right? Of course, the more embarrassing part is that I’m SURE this means Auburn is rushing to get a Gene Chizik statue erected too.

2-Cliff Tucker is trying is hand as a receiver for the Maryland football team now that the whole hoops thing is over, huh? Seems like a good option, but I feel as though maybe I would have gone with Competitive Cheer…

cheer

6. NBA Playoffs: Eastern Conference Quarterfinals-New York Knicks vs. Boston Celtics (Game 2 Tuesday 7pm from Boston live on TNT, Game 3 Friday 7pm from New York live on ESPN, Game 4 Sunday 3:30pm from New York live on ABC); Atlanta Hawks vs. Orlando Magic (Game 2 Tuesday 7:30pm from Orlando live on NBA TV, Game 3 Friday 8pm from Atlanta live on ESPN2, Game 4 Sunday 7pm from Atlanta live on TNT); Chicago Bulls vs. Indiana Pacers (Game 3 Thursday 7pm from Indianapolis live on NBA TV, Game 4 Saturday 2:30pm from Indianapolis live on TNT); Miami Heat vs. Philadelphia 76ers (Game 3 Thursday 8pm from Philadelphia live on TNT, Game 4 Sunday 1pm from Philadelphia live on ABC); Western Conference Quarterfinals-Portland Trailblazers vs. Dallas Mavericks (Game 2 Tuesday 9:30pm from Dallas live on TNT, Game 3 Thursday 10:30 from Portland live on TNT, Game 4 Saturday 5pm from Portland live on TNT, Game 5 Monday from Dallas TBD); Denver Nuggets vs. Oklahoma City Thunder (Game 2 Wednesday 8pm from Oklahoma City live on TNT, Game 3 Saturday 10pm from Denver live on ESPN, Game 4 Monday 10:30pm from Denver live on TNT); Memphis Grizzlies vs. San Antonio Spurs (Game 2 Wednesday 8:30pm from San Antonio live on NBA TV, Game 3 Saturday 7:30pm from Memphis live on ESPN, Game 4 Monday from Memphis TBD); New Orleans Hornets vs. Los Angeles Lakers (Game 2 Wednesday 10:30pm from Los Angeles live on TNT, Game 3 Friday 9:30pm from New Orleans live on ESPN, Game 4 Sunday 9:30pm from New Orleans live on TNT)

Let’s be honest…NBA basketball is AWFUL in the regular season and just sorta okay in the playoffs.

But Dwyane Wade and Jalen Rose (and Kyle Korver) did some pretty impressive things over the weekend…

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hC9H66odmrk[/youtube]
[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=748HJrUPuys[/youtube]

5. NHL Playoffs: Washington Capitals @ New York Rangers Game 4 (Wednesday 7pm from New York live on Comcast SportsNet & VERSUS), New York Rangers @ Washington Capitals Game 5 (Saturday 3pm from Verizon Center live on NBC), Washington Capitals @ New York Rangers Game 6 if necessary (Monday TBD from New York live on Comcast SportsNet)

I know there are a few folks in Baltimore who have gone to the dark side and are rooting for the hockey team down in the Nation’s Capital.

That’s their choice…I won’t judge them. Much. I MIGHT however buy them a new Washington Redskins shirt to wear this football season while we’re all donning purple at M&T Bank Stadium.

To those that are still on the fence, I encourage you to root for the Rangers. If you’re not familiar with Sean Avery, let me introduce you to a few young ladies who ARE familiar with Mr. Avery…

Hilary Rhoda

rhoda

Elisha Cuthbert

cuthbert

Lake Bell

lakebell

And “Stacy’s Mom” herself, Rachel Hunter

rachelhunter

You seriously don’t think this guy is worth rooting for?!?!?

4. Charm City Heroes (Friday-Saturday Pikesville Hilton)

With no offense to Frank Robinson, Mike Curtis, Jim Palmer, Eddie Murray, Earl Weaver, Cal Ripken Jr., Brooks Robinson, Roberto Alomar, Lenny Moore, Gino Marchetti, Art Donovan, Raymond Berry, Joe Flacco, Ray Lewis, Brian Roberts, Buck Showalter or anyone else scheduled to attend this event (holy hell that’s quite the list), it’s not complete.

I mean…seriously…how about our city’s greatest Olympic champion?

phelps

Could anything say “hero” more than that picture?!?!?

3. Ravens Pre-Draft Luncheon (Tuesday 12:45pm 1 Winning Drive, airing 5:30pm on AM1570 WNST), Brian Billick Live! Pre-NFL Draft Show (Tuesday 7pm Mother’s Federal Hill)

I guess the excitement surrounding the NFL Draft has been a bit dampened because of the lockout. But that’s only because we haven’t spent time watching NFL DRAFT PORN!

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pkLG6LHNdXk[/youtube]

I want all of them.

2. Boxing: Top Rank-Roberto Marroquin vs. Frankie Leal (Saturday 11pm from Thackerville, OK live on Fox Sports Net nationally, Comcast SportsNet locally); Joseph Agbeko vs. Abner Mares (Saturday 10:30pm from Los Angeles live on Showtime); Friday Night Fights: Breidis Prescott vs. Bayan Jargal (Friday 8pm from Uncasville, CT live on ESPN2)

Of course this makes the list because Ravens S Tom Zbikowski is scheduled to fight on the undercard of the Marroquin-Leal fight.

By the way, if you haven’t seen “The Fighter”, you might as well just admit you hate America. How AWESOME is this clip?

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oln0_q_x1lw[/youtube]

1. College Lacrosse: Navy @ Johns Hopkins (Saturday 8pm from Homewood Field live on ESPNU); Hobart @ Loyola (Saturday 12pm from Ridley Athletic Complex live on ABC2/ESPN3.com); Vermont @ UMBC (Saturday 1pm UMBC Stadium); ACC Lacrosse Tournament: Maryland vs. North Carolina (Friday 5pm from Durham, NC live on TheACC.com), ACC Championship Game (Sunday 3:30pm from Durham, NC live on Comcast SportsNet); CAC Tournament: St. Mary’s @ Stevenson (Wednesday 4pm Caves Athletic Complex), CAC Championship Game (Sunday 2pm from Caves Athletic Complex if Stevenson wins Wednesday)

I’ve posted this before I’m sure. I don’t care. Suck it, UNC!

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m0SnOgHx3eg[/youtube]

Flexing my mic muscles since 1983…

-G

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Private Workouts Now in Focus with Draft Season Speeding Towards Conclusion

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Private Workouts Now in Focus with Draft Season Speeding Towards Conclusion

Posted on 14 April 2011 by Glenn Clark

Like Florence & The Machine said, “The Pro Days are over.”

Well maybe those weren’t the exact lyrics from Florence Welch and company, but the statement remains true.

Draft season has officially shifted from Pro Days to private visits and workouts.

Before I continue, I remind you of the players we have already profiled during Draft season.

QB-Ricky Dobbs (Navy), Pat Devlin (Delaware), Colin Kaepernick (Nevada), Josh Portis (California-Pennsylvania), Taylor Potts (Texas Tech), Christian Ponder (Florida State), Tyrod Taylor (Virginia Tech), Jake Locker (Washington), Greg McElroy (Alabama), Andy Dalton (TCU), Jeremiah Masoli (Ole Miss), Ricky Stanzi (Iowa), Jerrod Johnson (Texas A&M)
FB
-Anthony Sherman (Connecticut), Owen Marecic (Stanford), Shaun Chapas (Georgia)
RB
-Evan Royster (Penn State), Da’Rel Scott (Maryland), DeMarco Murray (Oklahoma), Damien Berry (Miami), Kendall Hunter (Oklahoma State), Roy Helu Jr. (Nebraska), Alex Green (Hawaii), Shane Vereen (Cal), Jordan Todman (UConn), Dion Lewis (Pitt), Jacquizz Rodgers (Oregon State), Mark Ingram (Alabama), Ryan Williams (Virginia Tech), Mikel Leshoure (Illinois), Darren Evans (Virginia Tech)
WR
-Lester Jean (Florida Atlantic), Terrence Toliver (LSU), Leonard Hankerson (Miami), Austin Pettis (Boise State), Denarius Moore (Tennessee), Owen Spencer (North Carolina State), Jock Sanders (West Virginia), Titus Young (Boise State), Vincent Brown (San Diego State), Ryan Whalen (Stanford), Torrey Smith (Maryland), Randall Cobb (Kentucky), Jon Baldwin (Pittsburgh), Greg Salas (Hawaii), Cecil Shorts III (Mount Union), Jerrel Jernigan (Troy), Niles Paul (Nebraska), Dane Sanzenbacher (Ohio State)
TE-Will Yeatman (Maryland)
OT
-Matthew O’Donnell (Queens University Canada), Gabe Carimi (Wisconsin), Nate Solder (Colorado), Anthony Costanzo (Boston College), Joseph Barksdale (LSU), Derek Sherrod (Mississippi State), DeMarcus Love (Arkansas)
G-Danny Watkins (Baylor)
C-Zane Taylor (Utah), Kris O’Dowd (Southern Cal), Rodney Hudson (Florida State), Brandon Fusco (Slippery Rock)
DE
-Justin Trattou (Florida), Allen Bailey (Miami), Eddie Jones (Texas), Ryan Kerrigan (Purdue), Brooks Reed (Arizona), Cliff Matthews (South Carolina), JJ Watt (Wisconsin), Cameron Heyward (Ohio State), Dontay Moch (Nevada), D’Aundre Reed (Arizona), Aldon Smith (Missouri), Adrian Clayborn (Iowa), Sam Acho (Texas), Ryan Winterswyk (Boise State)
DT-Muhammad Wilkerson (Temple)
LB
-Mark Herzlich (Boston College), Casey Matthews (Oregon), Adrian Moten (Maryland), Nate Irving (NC State), Colin McCarthy (Miami), Martez Wilson (Illinois), Kelvin Sheppard (Louisiana State), Alex Wujciak (Maryland), Akeem Dent (Georgia)
S
-Jermale Hines (Ohio State), Jaiquawn Jarrett (Temple), Maurice Rolle (Louisiana-Lafayette), Rahim Moore (UCLA), Ahmad Black (Florida)
CB-Anthony Gaitor (Florida International), Aaron Williams (Texas), Jalil Brown (Colorado), Jimmy Smith (Colorado), DeMarcus Van Dyke (Miami), Brandon Harris (Miami), Ras-I Dowling (Virginia), Richard Sherman (Stanford), Brandon Burton (Utah)

If you missed any of those profiles, you can check them out in the archives here at WNST.net.

Part 1-A look at players who participated in the East West Shrine Game in Orlando, Florida
Part 2-A look at players who participated in the Senior Bowl in Mobile, Alabama
Part 3-A look at players who participated in the NFLPA Game (former Texas vs. The Nation Game) in San Antonio, Texas
Parts 456-Previews of players ahead of the NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis
Part 7-A look back at players who made in impact at the National Football League Scouting Combine at LucasOil Stadium in Indy
Parts 8, 9 & 10-A look at players who participated in early Pro Timing Days

The Baltimore Ravens (obviously) made no personnel changes this week, so my team needs remain the same…

1. Defensive End
2. Offensive Tackle
3. Wide Receiver
4. Cornerback
5. Fullback
6. Inside Linebacker
7. Safety
8. Center
9. Running Back
10. Quarterback

Here are ten more prospects-all of whom have been shown special attention by the Ravens during Draft season. (Reported by WNST.net, National Football Post, Carroll County Times, Baltimore Sun, Pro Football Weekly or others.)

Thanks to CBSSports.com/NFLDraftScout.com, NFLDraftBible.com, WNST.net (The AP), ESPN.com, NFL.com, Wikipedia, YouTube and various official athletic websites for helping to put together the profiles.

DE Christian Ballard (Iowa)

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nhgvSsE5tLI[/youtube]

Ballard is one of a number of Defensive Ends that has wandered over to Owings Mills during Draft season.

The Ravens are clearly in need of a rush end, and have looked at a number of players who could fit the role. Ballard (6’4″, 283 pounds) managed to tally eight combined sacks over his junior and senior campaigns with the Hawkeyes despite playing part of that time on the interior of the line.

Ballard has shown good speed during Draft season, trimming his 40 time from 4.75 at the Combine to 4.70 at his Pro Day in Iowa City. He’s not a first round pick, but he is a player the Ravens could consider as early as the second round.

They may have addressed rush end before that. Ballard’s teammate Adrian Clayborn, Ohio State’s Cameron Heyward and a number of other players are all higher on the board. The Ravens have a GLARING need at the position. If they don’t address it in the first, don’t be surprised if they address it with Ballard.

OT James Brewer (Indiana)

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5X01sxTrZZY[/youtube]

We don’t know for sure whether or not the Ravens have hosted Brewer at 1 Winning Drive, but we do know that the team paid special interest to Brewer’s Pro Day in Bloomington.

The Ravens have an issue along their O-Line. OT Jared Gaither is an unrestricted free agent and there are just a few question marks surrounding him. OT Michael Oher may or may not have a future at LT. G/T Marshal Yanda probably needs to return to being a Guard only.

The team will have to make some decisions.

Brewer (6’6″, 323 pounds) could help in that decision making process. He’s not a first round talent, but he looks like someone who is going to be able to play fairly early on if selected late Friday or early Saturday.

There is a SMALL issue with Brewer…he’s from Indianapolis. If he roots for the Colts, that could be trouble.

But otherwise, he has to be a legitimate option to help new O-Line coach Andy Moeller.

RB Stevan Ridley (LSU)

stevan

Unlike Ravens RB Ray Rice, Ridley’s game is much about power than speed (his 4.65 40 time at the Combine was better than either of his runs at his Pro Day in Baton Rouge). That could be a recipe to get him to Charm City, as the team may well lose both RB Willis McGahee (expected to be released) and FB Le’Ron McClain (Unrestricted Free Agent) this offseason.

Ridley might not be massive, but he packs 225 pounds in a 5’11″ frame. He has the look of a third down/red zone weapon at the next level, which is part of what the Ravens will be looking for in their backfield this offseason.

Ridley had just one big season with the Tigers before declaring for the Draft a year early. After rushing for just 272 yards and four TD’s combined between his freshman and sophomore seasons, he exploded for 1,147 yards and 15 TD’s as a junior. Clearly part of the reason for leaving early was to save some “tread” on his tires.

The Ravens paid special attention to Ridley at the Combine, where they learned more about why he was voted a team captain as a junior. He’s not a Thursday night pick and probably not a Friday night pick either. As the Draft wares into Saturday, he’ll look more and more appealing to the Ravens-who need to give Offensive Coordinator Cam Cameron a change of pace option in the backfield.

CB Curtis Marsh (Utah State)

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C-DwCYgqHWk[/youtube]

Just to recap the Ravens’ CB situation this offseason-Chris Carr, Josh Wilson and Fabian Washington are all unrestricted free agents; Cary Williams is an exclusive rights free agent and Domonique Foxworth is coming off an ACL injury that cost him the entire 2010 season. Lardarius Webb is the only corner that saw the field last season that remains fully under contract.

Clearly new Defensive Coordinator Chuck Pagano will need SOMETHING in his defensive backfield, be it returning players or newcomers.

Marsh is an intriguing option who has already visited General Manager Ozzie Newsome and company in Owings Mills. He was very much under the radar screen playing for the Aggies, but his 6’1″, 197 pound size and 4.42 speed have been undeniable during Draft season.

Marsh initially garnered attention for his matchup abilities against Boise State receivers Austin Pettis and Titus Young. He received a Senior Bowl invite but missed the week due to a hamstring injury.

Marsh could come off the board as early as Friday night. If the Ravens don’t select a cornerback in Round 1, he could be a legitimate option after that point.

DE Ricky Elmore (Arizona)

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BtE9qFonW7s[/youtube]

The Ravens have shown equal interest in Elmore and fellow former ‘Zona DE Brooks Reed, as both have shown an ability to get after Pac 10 quarterbacks.

Elmore tallied 21 combined sacks between his junior and senior seasons, finishing his Wildcats career with 25 sacks overall. During Draft season he’s been training with Clay Matthews Sr. (whose son is a pretty good pass rusher himself) in an attempt to even further improve his ability to get after QB’s.

Elmore is a physical beast, measuring in at 6’5″, 255 pounds. He’s not blazing fast (4.88 40 at the Combine), but he’s deceptively quick for his size.

As I mentioned with Ballard, the Ravens have to be desperate for rush help on the edge. If they select an end Thursday (or early Friday), they’ll likely want him to be someone who also has the ability to stand up in a 3-4 defense.

If they don’t go DE early, Elmore could be a better option later into the Draft (likely Saturday). Director of College Scouting Joe Hortiz and company will have to determine how quickly Elmore could make an impact.

S Will Hill (Florida)

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZQK0xhpkE4Y&feature=fvst[/youtube]

Hill’s size (6’1″, 202 pounds) and decent speed (4.64 40) as well as his overall football ability (four interceptions over three seasons in Gainesville) should make him a solid Free Safety prospect.

Yet despite the Ravens showing interest in Hill at the Combine, he’s viewed as a borderline possibility to get picked anywhere in the Draft.

Hill’s issues are more off the field than they are on the field. He had some problems with his Twitter account-as well documented by the website “Every Day Should Be Saturday.”

Hill later claimed his Twitter account was hacked, but the damage was certainly done-and Hill didn’t exactly win everyone over with his comments about the incident at the Combine.

There are clear question marks off the field, which are clouding the ability he could have on the field. The Ravens appear to be in the safety market this offseason, as SS Dawan Landry is an unrestricted free agent and FS Ed Reed is…well…not getting any younger or healthier. Reserves Tom Zbikowski and Haruki Nakamura give them options to plug in, but they’ll certainly look for depth.

Should the Ravens not select a safety at all early in the Draft, it isn’t out of the realm of possibility that they could take a chance on a player like Hill late in the Draft. After taking risks on DT Terrence Cody and LB Sergio Kindle early in the Draft last season, they might not be as quick to take a chance on a player with a red flag in this year’s Draft.

CB Chris Culliver (South Carolina)

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4jFfXPtIMlk[/youtube]

As I mentioned with Marsh, the Ravens have secondary issues this offseason. They’ll need to address them SOMEHOW, and Culliver could be part of that.

Culliver is a 6’0″, 199 pound corner who tallied four sacks and three interceptions during his Gamecocks career. (All three picks came in 2008.) He’s coming off a torn pec that caused him to miss the final six games of his 2010 campaign.

Of all of the corners on the Ravens’ active roster in 2010, only Williams (6’1″) is as big as Culliver. None have the blazing speed (4.36 40 at the Combine…which he stood on instead of running at his Pro Day in Columbia) that Culliver has.

Culliver paid a visit to Owings Mills during Draft season to meet with Director of Player Personnel Eric DeCosta and company. They likely wanted to see how fluid he was in coverage, as he played just one season at corner in the SEC after converting from safety.

The other nice option with Culliver is his potential involvement in the return game. Culliver finished his SC career with a school record 2,476 return yards. The Ravens got solid production from Webb and WR David Reed/RB Jalen Parmele in the PR and KR roles respectively last season, but they certainly didn’t do so much that they have to be considered locks to return in the roles. Special Teams Coordinator Jerry Rosburg wouldn’t be disappointed to add another return man if the Ravens were to use a late Friday or early Saturday selection on Culliver.

G Will Rackley (Lehigh)

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IaXM8yMXOHM[/youtube]

The Ravens have certainly had no trouble using a pick in the top half of the Draft on interior linemen before.

G Ben Grubbs (1st round), C/G Chris Chester (2nd round), G/T Marshal Yanda (3rd round) and St. Louis Rams C Jason Brown (4th round) have all been players the Ravens have selected early, and they’ve received mostly good results from the selections.

The Ravens don’t appear to have a glaring need amongst their interior linemen, but there are certainly issues to be addressed.

While Head Coach John Harbaugh would like to return Yanda to Guard, he’s an restricted free agent that could depart in the offseason. Even if he stays, the Ravens could be faced with a need to have him stay at RT should the team not re-sign Gaither or not Draft/Sign a better option at the position. After getting a second round tender, Chester (also a restricted free agent) is expected to return, but the team would prefer to have him play a utility role along the line instead of being penciled in at RG.

Rackley could be the type of player who could step in and play RG immediately. The 6’3″, 309 pound lineman turned a number of heads during East West Shrine Game week, showing he was quite capable of playing against big time opposition despite his FCS background.

Rackley was a four year starter for the Mountain Hawks, dominating Patriot League opposition. Clearly the AFC North (and the likes of DT’s like the Pittsburgh Steelers’ Casey Hampton) will offer more significant opposition. Rackley is expected to be a Friday night pick, which could certainly be a legitimate place for the Ravens to jump up and grab him.

CB Buster Skrine (Chattanooga)

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W2jksB_vrsM[/youtube]

Similar to Curtis Marsh, Skrine is going to be looking to overcome a lower level of competition to make a name for himself as a National Football League corner. But Skrine (who played in the Southern Conference) has many more questions about competition to overcome than Marsh-who played his ball in the WAC.

Skrine (5’10″, 186 pounds) has great speed (4.37 40 at the Combine-but rumored to have actually been as fast as 4.29) and finished his Mocs career with five interceptions.

The Ravens both attended Skrine’s Pro Day and hosted him in Owings Mills in March.

The biggest question surrounding Skrine is whether or not he can play press coverage against NFL receivers, many of whom will have a slight to significant height advantage.

If the Ravens feel like he could be, it would make him a solid option late Friday or early Saturday.

LB Justin Houston (Georgia)

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kR0L2RVId90[/youtube]

Houston appears to be a true standup OLB instead of a down DE, which could help as the Ravens try to find pass rush help.

At 6’3″, 270 pounds; Houston was considered “undersized” to play along the D-Line for the Bulldogs, so he was moved to the outside. He responded to the move by producing 10 sacks in 2010; finishing his career in Athens with 19 sacks total.

Houston’s size and solid speed (he trimmed his 40 time down to 4.57 at his Pro Day) make him a borderline first round pick. The Ravens are obviously in the market for pass rush help (more specifically someone to team with LB Terrell Suggs), and they have hosted Houston in Owings Mills during Draft season.

The only obvious red flag with Houston is a 2009 suspension by UGA coach Mark Richt for an unspecified violation of team rules.

While the team seems unlikely to trade out of the 26th spot this year, Houston could be the type of available player that would make them feel like they could. Should Houston be available in the 30-40 range, the Ravens would likely feel as though they got #26 value after trading back.

-G

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Live From Indianpolis: Ravens Salute Shorts at Combine

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Live From Indianpolis: Ravens Salute Shorts at Combine

Posted on 26 February 2011 by Glenn Clark

INDIANAPOLIS, In. — Greetings from LucasOil Stadium, where we are in attendance for the NFL Scouting Combine. Here are a few notes from a busy Saturday in the media center…

-Believe the hype surrounding Mount Union WR Cecil Shorts. At least believe the hype that the Baltimore Ravens are interested in the Division III prospect; which was confirmed by Director of Player Personnel Eric DeCosta.

Shorts told me Saturday he met with the team’s entire coaching staff in a formal interview setting Friday night. General Manager Ozzie Newsome was also involved in the interview according to the 6 foot receiver.

Shorts also played cornerback and even some quarterback during his time at the small Ohio college, but made the strong statement to reporters Saturday that “wide receiver is the position I’ll be playing.” Shorts was part of the Raiders’ 2008 National Championship team.

I’d expect to hear more about Shorts in my next Draft preview column.

-The BIGGEST star of the day was Auburn QB Cam Newton. Most of this year’s quarterback class in the NFL Draft met with reporters Friday, but Newton came in Saturday and received the type of attention usually saved for someone like Paul McCartney. My colleague Nestor Aparicio offered this picture via Twitter (@WNST)…

camnewton

Honestly, it was crazier than that. Of course, Newton sparked that fire in commenting that he “wanted to be an icon” after recently announcing a partnership with Under Armour. Newton read a prepared statement to clarify those comments when he reached the podium in Indy.

As exciting as the arrival of the Heisman Trophy winner and BCS Champion was, Newton is almost certainly not on the Ravens’ radar.

Other players generating a buzz upon making an appearance in the media center included Arkansas QB Ryan Mallett, North Carolina DT Marvin Austin, Georgia WR AJ Green and Oregon LB Clay Matthews.

-Matthews was one of a number of players who confirmed to me Saturday they had met either formally or informally with the Ravens this weekend.

Texas DE Sam Acho, Virginia Tech DL John Graves, Georgia FB Shaun Chapas, Oklahoma DE/LB Jeremy Beal, Southern Arkansas DE Cedric Thornton and Oklahoma State LB Orie Lemon were amongst a group of players who confirmed they had met with scouts or position coaches.

Tennessee WR Denarius Moore and North Carolina State WR Owen Spencer both confirmed meetings with Ravens WR Coach Jim Hostler.

A number of players told me they hadn’t yet met with the Ravens but believed they would Saturday evening or later in the weekend; including Texas A&M DE Von Miller.

Other players were more coy about who they had met with, including Iowa DE Adrian Clayborn and California DE Cameron Jordan.

-A common theme amongst the Linebackers in the room Saturday? They all look up to future Hall of Fame Ravens LB Ray Lewis. Lemon and Illinois LB Martez Wilson in particular pointed out they admired the perennial Pro Bowler and hoped to shape their careers in similar ways.

West Virginia RB Noel Devine told reporters his role model was former Ravens CB Deion Sanders. Devine and Sanders are both represented by agent Eugene Parker. Devine said Sanders once brought him for a visit of the Ravens’ 1 Winning Drive facility in Owings Mills.

Appalachian State LB D.J. Smith noted that former Ravens (and Mountaineers) TE Daniel Wilcox had been a good influence for him during his final season in Boone. Wilcox returned to his alma mater in 2010 to finish his degree and helped out the ASU staff during football season.

Acho told me he was very close with Ravens LB Sergio Kindle, but hadn’t spoken with Kindle much since the latter suffered a fractured skull in an accident at a friend’s house in Austin.

-There were no Maryland Terrapins in the media center Saturday, but two players talked to me about their connections to the Terps.

Spencer spoke glowingly about his relationship with former Maryland Athletic Director Debbie Yow during his final season at NC State. He described Yow as a “strong lady” who was “always positive” and who appeared to be very comfortable at “home” in Raleigh. Spencer commented that Yow was particularly interested in seeing the Wolfpack beat the Terps in College Park, but NCSU fell 38-31.

UConn RB Jordan Todman said Head Coach Randy Edsall’s decision to leave Connecticut for Maryland played no role in his decision to skip his senior season and enter the Draft. Todman told me he held no grudge towards the new head coach in College Park, but told me to expect Edsall to bring a more authoritative personality to the job.

-There is plenty of audio available from players in the BuyAToyota.com Audio Vault here at WNST.net. Hear from the following potential future Ravens…

  • Oregon LB Casey Matthews
  • Louisville RB Bilal Powell
  • UConn RB Jordan Todman
  • Iowa DE Adrian Clayborn
  • Arizona LB Brooks Reed
  • Ohio State DE Cameron Heyward
  • Cal DE Cameron Jordan
  • Texas A&M DE Von Miller
  • Boise State WR Titus Young
  • Texas DE Sam Acho
  • Arkansas QB Ryan Mallett
  • LSU LB Kelvin Sheppard
  • Wisconsin DE JJ Watt
  • Clemson DE Da’Quan Bowers

-I passed a long a few comments Saturday morning that I heard from various National Football League sources regarding the Ravens’ offseason Defensive Coordinator change. One NFL coach told me, “The Ravens have a chance now with (New DC Chuck) Pagano. The other guy (Greg Mattison) didn’t know what he was doing.”

Other statements I heard from NFL sources said similar things.

Make sure you continue to follow us @WNST on Twitter for all of the latest from Indianapolis.

-G

(Headline photo courtesy of Cleveland Plain-Dealer)

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Live From Owings Mills: Harbaugh Wants Gaither Back, Thinks Oher Still LT of Future

Posted on 20 January 2011 by Glenn Clark

OWINGS MILLS, Md. — The Baltimore Ravens held their annual “Season Review” press conference Thursday at 1 Winning Drive. Head Coach John Harbaugh, Owner Steve Bisciotti, General Manager Ozzie Newsome and Team President Dick Cass all answered questions from reporters in both formal and informal settings.

Following the press conference, Harbaugh addressed the team’s offensive problems, specifically their issues in running the football. The team finished 14th in the NFL in 2010 with 114.4 rushing yards per game after finishing 5th in the league in 2009 with 137.5 rushing yards per game.

Harbaugh attributed the team’s running struggles both to “tweaks” made in the team’s rushing philosophy during Training Camp as well as the struggles of the offensive line.

“We had three new guys playing three new spots (on the line)” said Harbaugh. “I don’t think we ever were really able to overcome that.”

After moving 2nd year offensive tackle from Right Tackle (RT) to Left Tackle (LT) in the offseason; the Ravens had hoped OT Jared Gaither would successfully move from LT to RT. Unfortunately for the team, Gaither suffered a back injury while the team was preparing for the season at McDaniel College in Westminster, and he never saw the football field in 2010. With Gaither out, the team moved OL Marshal Yanda from Right Guard (RG) to RT, and asked reserve OL Chris Chester to play RG.

Harbaugh hopes the team’s problems can be addressed with the return of Gaither, who is an Unrestricted Free Agent (UFA).

“I would like to coach Jared Gaither” said Harbaugh. “He’s a very talented guy and I think he can be a factor for us next year. He’s definitely got the ability.  If the back is healed up and he can back to training and get the size and strength back, I certainly think he can (stabilize the line).”

Also amongst the Ravens’ UFA’s is Yanda, who Harbaugh would like to see return to RG.

“We want to find the right spots for the right guys” said the coach. “I don’t know if we’ll be able to get this done, but I like Marshal Yanda at RG. I think that’s his position. He’s a dominant puller, he’s physical. If you can put a nice big RT next to him, that would really help.”

Harbaugh also expressed confidence in Oher, who anchored an Offensive Line that allowed 40 sacks this season. FootballOutsiders.com ranked the unit 25th in the league in “Adjusted Sack Rate”, considering sacks and intentional grounding penalties per pass attempt adjusted for down, distance and opponent.

“I think Michael Oher can play either tackle” said Harbaugh. “I think he had a very good second year. The sky is the limit for him.”

Harbaugh did acknowledge Oher could be asked to move back to RT depending on what the team does to upgrade the line in the offseason. Amongst the potential free agents at OT around the league are Gaither, Matt Light (New England Patriots), Doug Free (Dallas Cowboys) and former Towson Tigers standout Jermon Bushrod (New Orleans Saints).

Free Agency cannot begin until the league and the NFL Players Association (NFLPA) agree to a new Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA).

“What side Mike ends up playing depends on who else is in the mix” said Harbaugh. “He really wants to be better. I still think he’s a home run.”

NEWSOME HOPES TO IMPROVE PRESSURE WITH PERSONNEL: With the transition from departing Defensive Coordinator Greg Mattison to his replacement Chuck Pagano, the Ravens have stressed a desire to bring aggression defensively.

The team finished tied for the fifth lowest total in the league with just 27 sacks in 2010.

Newsome said he’d like to upgrade the team’s defensive personnel to improve their level of pressure.

“Are we going to try to continue to bring in some other people that can get to the passer, having (LB Terrell Suggs) to have a companion to go along with him as we did with (former Ravens LB) Peter (Boulware) and Suggs? That would be very helpful for the organization and it’s something that we’ll look into moving forward.”

After selecting Suggs in the first round of the 2003 NFL Draft, the Ravens saw he and Boulware combine to tally 20.5 sacks in the 2003 season.

Amongst the rushers who could potentially be available in free agency this offseason are LB Tamba Hali (Kansas City Chiefs), LB Lamarr Woodley (Pittsburgh Steelers), DE Ray Edwards (Minnesota Vikings) and DE Mathias Kiwanuka (New York Giants).

As with the Offensive Line, the team could also look for rush help in the NFL Draft.

Newsome believes an upgrade in personnel can solve the team’s rush problems.

“If we get enough good players where when we go up against whoever we play in our division, they can get in a one on one situation and win, we’ll have more pressure.

NOTES: Hear from Harbaugh, Newsome, Bisciotti and Cass now in the BuyAToyota.com Audio Vault here at WNST.net……LB Jarret Johnson joined Drew Forrester Thursday on “The Morning Reaction” on AM1570 WNST, that chat is available in the Audio Vault as well……The Ravens’ leadership said they had yet to speak to LB Ray Lewis about a Wednesday Yahoo! Sports report linking him to a banned supplement spray

-G

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Live From Owings Mills: Harbaugh Says Cameron Will Remain Offensive Coordinator

Posted on 17 January 2011 by Glenn Clark

OWINGS MILLS, Md. — The Baltimore Ravens (13-5) returned to 1 Winning Drive Monday, less than 48 hours after their season ended with a 31-24 loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers (13-4) at Heinz Field in an AFC Divisional Round playoff game.

Head Coach John Harbaugh put to rest any rumors he would consider firing Offensive Coordinator Cam Cameron Monday.

“Cam Cameron is our offensive coordinator” said Harbaugh. “That’s how we’re going forward. I know Cam is a tremendous coach.”

Harbaugh indicated no other coaches would be at risk of losing their jobs based on the team’s performance.

“I really like our coaching staff” said Harbaugh. “I think we have a great, great coaching staff. Top to bottom-that includes all three coordinators, that includes every one of our position coaches, there’s not a guy that I’m disappointed in.”

The Ravens finished just 22nd in the NFL in total offense in 2010, despite the additions of WR’s Anquan Boldin, TJ Houshmandzadeh and Donte’ Stallworth in the offseason, as well as the draft selections of TE’s Ed Dickson and Dennis Pitta

Harbaugh said the statistics didn’t affect his decision process with Cameron.

“He’s the same guy that was the offensive coordinator three years ago when everybody said we (outperformed) our expectations, and even last year. We had a tough year statistically, but we did win a lot of football games with that offense. There are things we can do a lot better, and we’re going to go to work on those things.”

FOCUS ON FREE AGENTS: The Ravens enter an offseason which will be based in as much uncertainty as the league itself.

The team has 17 unrestricted free agents, eight additional restricted free agents and five exclusive rights free agents.

The team’s unrestricted free agents are Houshmandzadeh, Stallworth, DT Haloti Ngata, FB Le’Ron McClain, CB Josh Wilson, CB Chris Carr, OT Jared Gaither, OL Marshal Yanda, OL Chris Chester, OL Tony Moll, S Dawan Landry, CB Fabian Washington, K Billy Cundiff, P Sam Koch, QB Marc Bulger, LB Prescott Burgess and LS Kevin Houser.

The restricted free agents are S Tom Zbikowski, S Haruki Nakamura, LB Tavares Gooden, LB Jameel McClain, WR Marcus Smith, OT Oniel Cousins, DT Lamar Divens and RB Jalen Parmele. LB Sergio Kindle, DT Kelly Talavou, TE Davon Drew, CB Cary Williams and LB Dannell Ellerbe are exclusive rights free agents.

Harbaugh said Monday the team will focus offseason plans on retaining their own free agents.

“We’re going to try to get back as many of these guys as we possibly can” said the coach. “Because we like our players.”

Harbaugh said he had high hopes that many of the team’s free agents would return.

“Talking to the guys today, the vast majority of guys really want to be here.”

Coming off a second straight Pro Bowl selection and a season in which he was voted the team’s MVP, Ngata is the most important player to get back according to Harbaugh.

“I believe Haloti Ngata will be a Raven for life” said the coach. “That’s the goal. He’s told me he wants to be here. I believe the organization wants him here. It’s priority number one to have Haloti Ngata here.”

Houshmandzadeh said he’d like to return to Charm City, but admitted an expanded role would play a significant part in making his decision.

“I want to come back because I had fun here and I enjoyed myself” said the receiver. “I do want to be a starter. I do because that’s what I’ve been. It’s hard to adjust.”

Free agency cannot begin until owners and the NFLPA agree to a new Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA).

NOTES: Hear from Harbaugh, Houshmandzadeh, L. McClain, Houshmandzadeh, Stallworth, Cundiff, Koch, Washington, Wilson, Kindle, Bulger, QB Joe Flacco, LB Ray Lewis, LB Jarret Johnson, C Matt Birk and WR Derrick Mason now in the BuyAToyota.com Audio Vault here at WNST.net……L. McClain joined Rex Snider Monday on “The Afternoon Drive” on AM1570 WNST, that chat is also available in the Audio Vault……The Ravens will select 26th in the 2011 NFL Draft……A team source told WNST’s Drew Forrester a contract extension for Harbaugh should be considered “imminent”……The Ravens signed all seven practice squad players to reserve/future contracts. WR Justin Harper, RB Curtis Steele, CB Danny Gorrer, QB Hunter Cantwell, OL Andre Ramsey, OL Brady Bond and LB Albert McClellan joined former Buffalo Bills WR James Hardy in getting such contracts……Harbaugh, GM Ozzie Newsome, Team President Dick Cass and owner Steve Bisciotti will hold their season review press conference Thursday afternoon in Owings Mills

-G

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Not “Great Enough” to Beat Steelers, So Ravens Now Forced to Evaluate Everything

Posted on 16 January 2011 by Glenn Clark

PITTSBURGH, Pa. — After suffering another crushing playoff defeat Saturday, Baltimore Ravens Head Coach John Harbaugh offered a telling postgame statement.

“We just weren’t great enough today to win that football game.”

His team certainly wasn’t.

It was one more crushing defeat for the Ravens (13-5) against the Pittsburgh Steelers (13-4), this time a 31-24 meltdown in the AFC divisional round at Heinz Field.

In three seasons under Harbaugh, the Ravens have suffered more than their fair share of such losses.

This one was likely the most crushing of the Harbaugh era, if not the most crushing in franchise history.

Leading 21-7 at the half, the Ravens appeared well on their way to a trip to the AFC Championship Game and well on their way to finally vanquishing their AFC North nemesis in the process.

Three turnovers later, the Ravens found themselves in a dogfight they wouldn’t win.

They were close.

For moments, they were great.

But in the end, Harbaugh was right. They weren’t great enough.

(Here’s the part where fans can feel free to add in the word “again.”)

Not being “great enough” is frustrating. It’s more frustrating when there’s no obvious answer regarding how the team can get there.

I posed the question to Harbaugh following the season ending defeat.

How does this team become “great enough”?

“That’s what we’ll have to study” responded Harbaugh. “We’ll go to work in the offseason and try to build our team the best way we can. Things come up and things happen, you’ve got to adjust and you’ve got to adapt. You never know on a journey what bend the road’s gonna take. You gotta overcome some adversity and some obstacles and we’ll have to build our team the best way we can to be great enough to these kind of games.”

I know what you’re thinking. It sounds like coach speak. It is to some extent. But there’s truth to it.

The truth is that the team really is close to being “great enough”.

On Saturday, it took a blown 14 point lead, those three turnovers, crucial late drops from WR’s Anquan Boldin & TJ Houshmandzadeh and a miraculous 58 yard pass from Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger to WR Antonio Brown for the Ravens to be eliminated.

They were about as close to finally getting past the Steelers as possible without actually picking up a victory.

I asked Harbaugh after the game if after another crushing defeat he still believed the team was close to being “great enough”. He agreed, but he added one more thought.

“We’ve got a lot of work to do.”

That’s the reality. The reality is that the Ravens are unbelievably close to turning the corner.

On Saturday night, they actually came to a stop right at the corner. They just couldn’t quite make the turn.

But turning the corner is still going to take a lot of work.

The Ravens have played three seasons with Harbaugh as head coach. In two of those seasons, losing came directly at the hands of the Steelers.

In breaking news (but not necessarily first reported by WNST), the Steelers aren’t coming off the schedule next season.

To become “great enough”, the Ravens are going to have to figure out a way to get past the Steelers.

As DT Haloti Ngata told me after the game, “something has to change, because it’s always them.”

There will be plenty of theories tossed around about how the Ravens can get over the hump.

Many in the fanbase will point their frustration towards Offensive Coordinator Cam Cameron, whose offense struggled to get out of their own way for the bulk of the 2nd half in the Steel City. Others will direct their frustration towards Defensive Coordinator Greg Mattison, who continued to employ a three man rush in 3rd and long situations, including the 58 yarder that set up the game winning touchdown.

Personnel wise, the Ravens will have clear needs in their offensive line and pass rush, but will likely have to re-examine their receiving corps and defensive backfield as well.

Some changes could be out of their hands. Asked about his future after the game, WR Derrick Mason said “I’m not gonna think about it right now.”

C Matt Birk, S Ed Reed and TE Todd Heap could all be forced to similarly consider whether or not they will indeed return to the NFL next season.

FB Le’Ron McClain, RB Willis McGahee and Houshmandzadeh have never hid their displeasure with their roles in Cameron’s offense. Boldin has been less vocal, but has often looked frustrated.

McClain and Houshmandzadeh are joined in (at least potential) free agency this offseason by other valuable contributors like WR Donte’ Stallworth, OT Jared Gaither, OL Marshal Yanda, CB’s Chris Carr & Josh Wilson, S Dawan Landry, P Sam Koch, Ngata and more.

And then there’s the quarterback.

A week after finally putting together a “breakthrough” playoff performance in a Wild Card round win over the Kansas City Chiefs at Arrowhead Stadium, Joe Flacco returned to a more “pedestrian” level in the loss to the Steelers.

He was 16/30 for 125 yards with a touchdown, an interception and a lost fumble.

On the team’s final drive of the game he wildly overthrew Heap and threw a very poor deep ball to Mason before getting sacked. On 4th and long he threw a decent pass but it was dropped by Houshmandzadeh.

Following the loss, fans immediately took to Facebook and Twitter to ask a familiar question.

“Does Flacco have ‘it’?”

GM Ozzie Newsome and Harbaugh will have to answer that question this offseason.

Harbaugh wasn’t just throwing around coach speak when he addressed what it would take to reach greatness. He was offering a truthful reflection regarding what the organization was going to have to this offseason.

The answer just wasn’t quite as fulfilling as some fans would want.

They were unbelievably close Saturday night. They were close enough that the Steelers needed a near miracle to win at home.

Yet this offseason will be one where they have to evaluate all aspects of their organization in order to determine what it will take to finally get past the Steelers.

Unreal.

At halftime, they were 30 minutes away from one of the greatest moments in franchise history.

In those 30 minutes, the collapse wasn’t suffered by the players and coaches alone.

The collapse was suffered by the entire organization.

-G

NOTES: Hear from Harbaugh, Flacco, Mason, McClain, Ngata, Houshmandzadeh, LB Ray Lewis, WR Marcus Smith, CB Lardarius Webb, LB Terrell Suggs and RB Ray Rice following the loss now in the BuyAToyota.com Audio Vault here at WNST.net……Rice played despite flu-like symptoms Friday night, he said following the game he hadn’t eaten solid food in two days……The Ravens will return to 1 Winning Drive in Owings Mills Monday to clean out their lockers. Harbaugh is scheduled to meet with the media

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