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Looking ahead to training camp

Posted on 08 June 2009 by Luke Jones

With the Orioles in last place and owning the second-worst record in baseball, Baltimoreans are obviously looking ahead to the Ravens reporting for training camp on July 27—only seven weeks away.

The team holds another passing camp this week, as we continue to focus on several key positions.

As we look ahead to 2009, key departures include linebacker Bart Scott (New York Jets), center Jason Brown (St. Louis), safety Jim Leonhard (Jets), cornerback Chris McAlister (unsigned), offensive tackle Willie Anderson (retired), Lorenzo Neal (Raiders), tight end Dan Wilcox (unsigned) and defensive end Marques Douglas (Jets).

In addition to selecting six players in this year’s draft, the Ravens have added cornerbacks Domonique Foxworth (Atlanta) and Chris Carr (Tennessee), center Matt Birk (Minnesota), tight end L.J. Smith (Philadelphia), quarterback John Beck (Miami) and receiver Kelley Washington (New England).

With so many new veterans and rookies in the fold, training camp in Westminster, Md. figures to host several key positional battles as the Ravens prepare for their opener against the Kansas City Chiefs on Sept. 13.

The following is a look at five key positional battles—in no particular order—to watch during training camp at McDaniel College.

1.  Inside Linebacker

The departure of Scott leaves a gaping hold next to Ray Lewis at the other inside linebacker position.  Scott did the dirty, physical work of taking on blockers, leaving the veteran Lewis free to pursue the ball carrier.  The younger Scott was also stronger in pass coverage than Lewis.

Second-year player Tavares Gooden looks like the safe bet for Scott’s replacement in the starting defense, but this may not be a foregone conclusion.

The 2008 third-round pick is a health risk after spending most of last season on injured reserve with a hip injury.  He also had a history of concussions and shoulder problems at the University of Miami.

At the team’s earlier minicamps, Gooden appeared bigger and faster, a good sign for coordinator Greg Mattison’s defense. He has reportedly been spending time at Lewis’ home, watching film and gaining wisdom from the 34-year-old linebacker.

If Gooden does not get the nod on the inside, another option could be second-year linebacker Jameel McClain.  The undrafted free agent from Syracuse emerged last year to grab a spot in training camp and worked his way up the depth chart, earning significant playing time as the season progressed.

McClain finished the season with 16 tackles and 2.5 sacks and was a strong contributor on special teams.  His biggest challenge will be adjusting to the inside after playing outside linebacker last season and defensive end in college.

Fifth-round draft pick Jason Phillips (TCU) is a gritty and physical linebacker, but he would be a long shot to grab the starting spot as a rookie.  The organization could also look to Brendon Ayanbadejo, but his value on special teams would be hard to sacrifice with other options at inside linebacker.

2.  Backup Quarterback

A quarterback controversy is brewing in the Charm City; only for once, it’s not over who will be starting under center—Joe Flacco has finally stabilized the position for the Ravens.  The real battle will take place between incumbent backup Troy Smith and newly-signed John Beck, a former second-round pick of the Miami Dolphins in 2007.

Smith found moderate success running the Ravens’ version of the Wildcat formation—the “Suggs” package—at times last season, but his size (6’0″) makes it difficult for him to spot receivers in the pocket, forcing him to move outside. The 6’2″ Beck is a more traditional drop back passer.

Beck has strong ties to offensive coordinator Cam Cameron (Miami’s head coach in 2007) and would figure to have a strong grasp on the playbook, improving his chances to overtake Smith for the backup spot.

The Ravens will once again try to use Smith’s athleticism, so he figures to be the No. 2 quarterback (the No. 3 can only enter the game if the starter and backup are injured).  However, a long-term injury to Flacco might cause the coaching staff to play the more traditional quarterback Beck.

Smith oozes with confidence, but he failed to grab hold of the starting job last preseason before suffering a tonsil infection, opening the door for Flacco to become the team’s starter in his rookie season.  This factor might weigh on coach John Harbaugh’s mind as he decides who will back up the talented Flacco.

3.  Kick/Punt Returner

With the departure of Leonhard to the Jets, the Ravens must find a new punt returner and try to stabilize the kick return position.

Newly-signed defensive back Chris Carr had a good season with the Titans and would likely be the top candidate for the job.  He averaged 28.1 yards per kick return (fourth in the NFL) and 10.1 yards on punt returns.

If injuries in the secondary would force Carr into the starting lineup, several in-house candidates are presently on the roster.

Yamon Figurs began last season as the primary kick and punt returner, but it’s clear he is not a favorite of the current coaching staff.  Figurs appeared hesitant in returning kicks and struggles holding onto the ball at times.  He is currently recovering from foot surgery and will need to have a strong preseason to stay on the roster.

Rookie cornerback Lardarius Webb, a third-round pick, returned kicks at Nicholls St. and will compete for the job.

Tom Zbikowski returned kicks at the end of last season but did not provide much of an impact.

Sixth-round pick and rookie running back Cedric Peerman also returned kicks at the University of Virginia, but the team would figure to allow Peerman to focus his efforts competing at the running back position.

Carr would figure to have the upper hand, but strong training camp performances would certainly blur the competition a great deal.

4.  Kicker

For the first time in the history of the franchise, the Ravens are uncertain who will be their kicker on Opening Day.  Matt Stover was not re-signed but is on general manager Ozzie Newsome’s speed dial if the other options do not work out.  Harbaugh continues to speak with the veteran kicker regularly.

Steve Hauschka was the team’s kickoff specialist in 2008 and made one of two field goal attempts.  He has a big leg, but trying a long field goal before the half is quite different than kicking a game-winning 42-yarder when the pressure is on late in the fourth quarter.

The Ravens signed rookie free agent Graham Gano from Florida State to compete for the job. Gano won the Lou Groza Award in 2008, awarded to college football’s best kicker.  He made 24 of 26 attempts last season with the Seminoles, hitting five of seven from 50 or more yards.

While a battle at kicker isn’t going to capture the city’s attention, it is crucial to stabilize the position entering the season.  If neither Hauschka nor Gano can win the job in the preseason, look for Stover to return for his 14th season with the Ravens.

5.  Right Tackle

This position would have been the featured battle of training camp had veteran Willie Anderson not announced his retirement several weeks ago.

First-round pick (23rd overall) Michael Oher of Ole Miss is a tremendous talent at 6-5 and 309 pounds.  His story was well-chronicled prior to the draft, and the Ravens appeared to snatch up another highly-talented player in the later stages of the first round.

Oher has performed well in OTAs (Organized Team Activities) and has picked up the offense quickly, according to the coaching staff.

With veteran tackle Adam Terry continuing to battle an ankle injury, the job appears to be Oher’s to lose.  Terry would be the ideal backup for both Oher and left tackle Jared Gaither since he has experience playing both positions in the NFL.

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Friday Morning’s Crabs and Beer

Posted on 05 June 2009 by Glenn Clark

Here are my top 3 for the Belmont….

1-Chocolate Candy
2-Mine That Bird
3-Mr. Hot Stuff

But what do I know?

Let’s see what everyone else has to say…..

Best of Thursday’s WNST Blogs:

Mark Suchy gets chuckle out of MASN’s “Wired Wednesday”

Peter Dilutis doesn’t agree with Brady Anderson

ORIOLES:

The Official Site’s Spencer Fordin says Sherrill locked down closer job again before ‘committee’ could show up

Athletics Official Site’s Mychael Urban says Braden goes to bump tonight to open series vs. Guthrie, O’s

The Sun’s Jeff Zrebiec says MacPhail views Birds as ‘improving organization’

The Sun’s Jeff Zrebiec says Birds ‘smart to be patient’ with top prospect Tillman

The Sun’s Peter Schmuck says PETA thinks Camden Yards amongst most veggie-friendly stadiums in MLB

The Sun’s Dean Jones Jr. says McCrory threw 2 scoreless innings in relief in Tides’ loss

The Sun’s Peter Schmuck says O’s don’t want to ‘eat’ Jamie Walker’s contract

Carroll County Times’ Josh Land says Scott only Oriole who has maintained hot bat during team slump

Norfolk Tides Official Site says Waters’ four shutout innings not enough as Buffalo wins 1-0

Bowie Baysox Official Site says Patton takes 2nd loss of season as Thunder top Bowie

Virginian-Pilot’s Rainer Sabin says Alberto Castillo informed he’d be coming up to Baltimore

Fox Sports’ Ken Rosenthal says Birds would have to be ‘overwhelmed’ to trade Guthrie

Yahoo! Sports’ Tim Brown has Birds 28th in power rankings

AOL Sports’ Will Brinson has Birds 21st in power rankings

AOL Sports’ Andrew Johnson says Angelos maybe not as bad as he’s made out to be

RAVENS:

The Official Site’s Mike Duffy says Davon Drew first rookie to sign contract

The Official Site’s Mike Duffy says Phillips, Oglesby, Martin amongst CB’s fighting to make roster

The Official Site’s Mike Duffy says health of Terry, Cousins ‘critical’ to O-Line depth

The Official Site says Flacco, Terry to participate in opening ceremonies of Special Olympics

The Sun says Drew signed 3 year deal

The Sun’s Aaron Wright says Birk made college scholarship announcement

The Sun’s Edward Lee says Cam Cameron, Jim Hostler fired up during OTA’s

The Sun’s Edward Lee says Hauschka, Gano forced to kick vs. crowd noise from teammates

Carroll County Times’ Aaron Wilson says Drew received roughly $140,000 signing bonus

Sporting News Real Scouts says Harbaugh 10th best coach in NFL

HORSE RACING:

Belmont Official Site’s Jenny Kellner says Mine That Bird takes first gallop at Belmont Park

Daily Racing Form’s Jay Privman says Woolley hasn’t ‘lost focus’ during Triple Crown season

Daily Racing Form’s Jay Privman says IEAH sued by David Lanzman over I Want Revenge

Daily Racing Form’s Marty McGee says Borel to appear on Letterman tonight

Thoroughbred Times’ Frank Angst says Pletcher ‘optimistic’ about Dunkirk

Thoroughbred Times’ Jeff Lowe says Borel has more ‘confidence’ than ‘experience’ at Belmont

Thoroughbred Times’ Bob Ehalt says Summer Bird possible ‘value play’ at Belmont

Thoroughbred Times’ Tim Nichols says publication staffers pick Charitable Man to win third leg of Triple Crown, not Mine That Bird

The Sun’s Kevin Van Valkenburg says Lukas feels no ‘pressure’ at Belmont

The Sun’s Kevin Van Valkenburg says expensive Dunkirk hoping to bounce back from disappointing Derby, skipping Preakness

Washington Post’s Andrew Beyer picks Dunkirk to win Belmont

SI’s Tim Layden says Borel is captivating Belmont storyline

AOL Sports’ Lisa Olson says Borel ‘not backing away’ from guarantee Mine That Bird will win Belmont

TERRAPINS FOOTBALL:

The Official Site says Terps’ visit to Cal to kick off at 10pm EST

The Sun’s Jeff Barker says no TV for James Madison game, Middle Tennessee game on ESPN360

Examiner Matthew Bouchard says home opener vs. James Madison to kick off at 6pm

The Diamondback’s Aaron Kraut says Cal game on ESPN2

The Diamondback’s Aaron Kraut says Phil Steele thinks Terps will go through rebuilding year

Washington Times’ Patrick Stevens says Middle Tennessee State game to kick off at 3:30

Terrapin Times’ Dan Painter profiles George Washington (Philadelphia) RB prospect Martin Haynes (must subscribe)

Terrapin Times’ Mark Clem profiles St. Anthony’s (NY) DE prospect Rob Welsh (must subscribe)

TERRAPINS BASKETBALL:

Terrapin Times’ Dan Painter says former Xavier commit J.D. Weatherspoon wants to visit College Park (must subscribe)

TERRAPINS LACROSSE:

Inside Lacrosse’s Christian Swezey says 7OT loss to Virginia best game of season

TERRAPINS SOCCER:

Washington Times’ Patrick Stevens says Maryland 2nd best program over last decade

LOYOLA LACROSSE:

The Official Site’s Chris Hurst (middie) checks in from Chester, UK on European trip

Inside Lacrosse’s Terry Foy says loss to Syracuse amongst better games of season

HOPKINS LACROSSE:

The Sun’s Edward Lee says Jays will bring back ‘dangerous offense’ in ‘10

UMBC LACROSSE:

Inside Lacrosse’s Terry Foy says loss to Princeton amongst best games of season

TOWSON FOOTBALL:

Examiner Matthew Schlissel says former WR Mark Orlando headed to school’s Hall of Fame

NAVY FOOTBALL:

The Official Site says Middleton, Posposil amongst 6 Mids named to Phil Steele’s preseason independent All-America team

Go Mids’ Adam Nettina profiles incoming LB Nurthen

NAVY BASKETBALL:

The Official Site says Billy Lange expects Romeo Garcia to be ‘100 percent’ by October

MT. ST. MARY’S BASKETBALL:

The Sun’s Matt Bracken says back to back postseason appearances have helped Milan Brown, ‘Eers’ profile

CRYSTAL PALACE USA:

The Official Site previews tonight’s trip to Western Mass

BOXING:

Carroll County Times’ Aaron Wilson says Eldersburg fighter Tucker could improve to 10-0 vs. Andre Hemphill

SOME QUICK THOUGHTS:

-Could Alberto Castillo being told he was being called up be the flipside of an expected Jamie Walker move? I mean, there has to be a corresponding move, right?

Talk to you this weekend. Enjoy Dudefest.

-G

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Wednesday Morning’s Crabs and Beer

Posted on 20 May 2009 by Glenn Clark

I will admit to being a bit heartbroken seeing the Nuggets lose to the Lakers last night. I will admit that I am openly rooting for Carmelo Anthony, as I enjoy seeing the success of a Baltimore kid….despite the fact that he went to Syracuse instead of Maryland.

I heard ‘Melo was seen on ESPN yesterday wearing a Red Sox hat; and I’ll admit that it bothered me. But this is the same guy who has MULTIPLE Ravens tattoos, which he showed off proudly when he was honored at M&T Bank Stadium for winning the gold medal at last Summer’s Beijing Olympics. The guy knows where he’s from, and he LOVES Baltimore.

And someone over at Camden Yards SHOULD think about shipping a hat out to Denver…

Let’s see what everyone else has to say…….

Best of Tuesday’s WNST Blogs:

Nestor Aparicio thought Yankee Stadium similar to US Cellular Field in Chicago

Keith Melchior says Trembley needs to go if Birds keep ‘bumbling and stumbling’

Thyrl Nelson says Birds should keep playing Pie

Glenn Clark says Adam Jones amongst best hitters in baseball

Drew Forrester says fans seemed more interested in Springsteen show than O’s game

ORIOLES:

The Official Site’s Spencer Fordin says Bergesen effective into 6th; but Chris Ray beat up as Birds fall to Yankees

The Official Site provides numerical evidence of loss

The Official Site’s Spencer Fordin says Guthrie looks to break Orioles’ losing slide tonight vs. Eaton, Yanks

The Official Site’s Spencer Fordin says Andino got start due to Izturis’ strained groin

The Official Site’s Spencer Fordin says Adam Jones returned to lineup after hamstring strain

Yankees Official Site’s Jared Diamond says Sabathia shut down O’s in win

The Sun’s Jeff Zrebiec says Roberts scored only run, Huff tallied only RBI in Orioles’ loss

The Sun’s Jeff Zrebiec says Bergesen changes number from 64 to Mussina’s 35

The Sun’s Peter Schmuck thinks David Hernandez, David Pauley could come to Baltimore in ‘next week or two’

The Sun’s Jeff Zrebiec says Huff booed at Yankee Stadium after showing up Joba Chamberlain

The Sun’s Peter Schmuck says DL ‘not out of the question’ for Izturis

The Sun’s Dean Jones Jr. says Snyder homered, Patton threw shutout in Baysox win

Examiner Jay Trucker says Rich Hill MVP of week for Orioles

The AP says A-Rod, Teixeira homered for Bombers in win

Frederick News-Post says Bascom tough luck loser for Keys

New York Daily News’ Mark Feinsand says Andino made crucial error in 7th to help Yankees put things away

New York Times’ Joe LaPointe says Yankees won 7th consecutive game

New York Post’s George A. King III says A-Rod/Teixeira did ‘Maris/Mantle imitation’

Newark Star-Ledger’s Marc Carig says Jeter picked up bases loaded double, 3 RBI in win

Newsday’s Jim Baumbach says A-Rod hit 5th homer in 33 at bats in win

Virginian-Pilot’s Rainer Sabin says Justin Christian, Oscar Salazar homered for Tides in win

RAVENS:

The Official Site’s Mike Duffy says Rice shoulders load at RB with McGahee hurt, McClain playing FB

The Official Site’s Mike Duffy says Mason not practicing during Passing Camp; Heap, Smith limited

The Official Site says Harbaugh ‘not surprised’ to see so many veterans at Passing Camp

The Official Site’s Mike Duffy says Flacco has no trouble with simulated blitzes

The Official Site’s Mike Duffy says Suggs, Ngata only veterans not in attendance at Passing Camp

The Sun’s Jamison Hensley says Oher getting bulk of reps at Right Tackle

The Sun’s Jamison Hensley says Heap sitting out Passing Camp drills with back injury

The Sun’s Jamison Hensley says Ravens players were ‘surprised’ by Willie Anderson’s decision to retire

The Sun’s Jamison Hensley says Harbaugh has ‘high hopes’ for Kelley Washington

The Sun’s Jamison Hensley says 52, McGahee amongst surprising veterans to attend Passing Camp

Examiner Tony Wisniewski says Gregg thinks he could beat UFC Champ Lesnar

Examiner Phil Macek says Ravens news adds to ‘excitement’ of new season

Carroll County Times’ Aaron Wilson says Trevor Pryce thinks Oher ‘looks like Julius Peppers, has attitude of serial killer’

Carroll County Times’ Aaron Wilson says Clayton, Cousins, Terry, Barnes, Talavou, Phillips, Rolle, Carr, F. Washington, Walker also dealing with injury issues

ESPN.com’s James Walker says Suggs to get bigger contract than James Harrison

HORSE RACING:

Belmont Official Site says decision coming today on Charitable Man for third leg of Triple Crown

Daily Racing Form’s Jay Privman says Mine That Bird returned to work at Churchill Downs after van ride back from Pimlico

Thoroughbred Times says Da’Tara jockey Alan Garcia would ride Charitable Man in Belmont

Thoroughbred Times’ Frank Angst says interest in Rachel Alexandra helps raise Preakness ratings 24%

Thoroughbred Times says trainer Woolley thought Mine That Bird ‘looked good’ in workout

The Sun says 3 million more people watched NBC’s Preakness coverage this year than last year

TERRAPINS FOOTBALL:

Terrapin Times’ Mark Clem profiles Atholton WR/S target Matt Robinson (must subscribe)

TERRAPINS BASKETBALL:

The Sun’s Jeff Barker says Goins may decide to stick with Terps

TERRAPINS LACROSSE:

Inside Lacrosse’s Sean Burns says Groot, Jeff Reynolds named to USILA North-South Game

TOWSON BASKETBALL:

The Official Site says commit Will Adams diagnosed with Hodgkin’s Disease

UMBC LACROSSE:

The Official Site says Poillon, Settembrino to participate in USILA North-South Game

LOYOLA LACROSSE:

The Official Site says Koppens, Ricci selected to USILA North-South Game

STEVENSON LACROSSE:

Inside Lacrosse’s Sean Burns says Dailey, Kazimer named first team All-American

Inside Lacrosse’s Sean Burns says Greg Furshman, Mike Simon, Nic Bevacqua named to USILA D3 North-South Game

MORGAN BASKETBALL:

The Sun says former St. Frances star Aric Brooks to transfer from Jacksonville to Morgan

NAVY FOOTBALL:

The Official Site says FB Kevin Campbell looking forward to Ohio State game

Go Mids’ Adam Nettina says ‘speed’ key to DC Buddy Green

SALISBURY LACROSSE:

The Official Site says Kylor Berkman, Kevin Maynard to participate in USILA D3 North-South Game

BALTIMORE COLTS:

Sporting News’ Matt Crossman says Raymond Berry thinks NFL needs to take ‘fine line’ with issues like Vick

SOME QUICK THOUGHTS:

-While the Ravens have downplayed the various injuries to players who aren’t fully participating in Passing Camp; I have to remind everyone that the Ravens do NOT have to be honest about everyone’s health in the offseason. It doesn’t appear as though anyone’s injuries are serious, but you really don’t know.

Talk to you tomorrow.

-G

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How the draft shapes the current roster

Posted on 27 April 2009 by Luke Jones

We’re exactly three months away from rookies and quarterbacks reporting to McDaniel College in Westminster for the start of training camp.  With the 2009 NFL Draft complete and the names of undrafted free agent signings beginning to leak, we will start to get a better idea of how the training camp roster will look.

Much can change between now and July 27, but here is a look at the Ravens’ selections and how they affect the competition at their respective positions.  Listed in parentheses is the projected number of players kept at the position.  Since undrafted free-agent signings are not officially announced until minicamp, I have excluded them from the current breakdown.

Round 1 (23rd overall):  Michael Oher (Mississippi), OT

OFFENSIVE TACKLE (4)

Locks:  Jared Gaither, Michael Oher

Bubble:  Willie Anderson, Adam Terry, Oniel Cousins

Longshot:  Joe Reitz, Tre Stallings

Analysis:  The selection of Michael Oher immediately transforms offensive tackle from a position of weakness to one of depth.  Gaither is firmly entrenched on the left side, so the real battle will take place on the right side between Anderson and Oher.

While Ozzie Newsome and Eric DeCosta currently envision Anderson as a mentor for the rookie, he could be released to clear cap room if the Ravens pursue other veteran free agents that could be released before training camp.  Cutting Anderson would reportedly clear close to $3 million from the cap.

If Anderson remains on the team, Terry and Cousins would figure to battle for the last tackle spot.  Terry has the edge in experience, but Cousins can play both guard and tackle and was the team’s third round pick last year.  He is raw but promising.

*****

Round 2 (57th overall):  Paul Kruger (Utah), OLB/DE

Round 5 (137th overall):  Jason Phillips (TCU), ILB

LINEBACKER (8 or 9)

Locks:  Ray Lewis, Terrell Suggs, Jarret Johnson, Tavares Gooden, Paul Kruger, Jason Phillips, Brendon Ayanbadejo, Jameel McClain

Bubble:  Antwan Barnes, Edgar Jones

Longshot:  Prescott Burgess

Analysis:  Though the Ravens hope Kruger can put on the necessary weight to eventually move to defensive end when Trevor Pryce retires, he will likely be a hybrid-rush end in his rookie season.

Phillips will provide depth at inside linebacker after the departure of Bart Scott.  The Ravens envision him eventually becoming the replacement for Lewis in the starting lineup in a few years.  In the mean time, he will push Gooden for playing time at the other inside spot.

Despite showing much promise in his first two seasons, Barnes will need to show more versatility to make the 53-man roster.  He has great speed off the edge but fell behind McClain in the rotation last season.  Jones will be moved back to linebacker with the signing of L.J. Smith and selection of Davon Drew at tight end.  He must continue to contribute heavily on special teams to stay on the roster.

Burgess appears to be a longshot with the drafting of Phillips.  As always, special teams play will figure heavily in deciding the final spot or two.

*****

Round 3 (88th overall):  Lardarius Webb (Nicholls State), CB

CORNERBACK (6)

Lock:  Domonique Foxworth, Fabian Washington, Samari Rolle, Chris Carr, Lardarius Webb

Bubble:  Frank Walker, Derrick Martin

Longshot:  Anwar Phillips, Evan Oglesby

Analysis:  The selection of Lardarius Webb further increases the likelihood of Walker being cut to clear cap room in case a veteran free agent shakes loose at another position.  Releasing Walker would reportedly save $1.6 million against the cap.

Martin missed most of last season with a shoulder injury but showed promise in 2007, making three starts and grabbing two interceptions.  He would be a cheaper alternative to Walker.

Phillips and Oglesby do not figure to seriously challenge for a roster spot after the signings of Foxworth and Carr pushed them further down the depth chart.

The team could elect to keep an extra corner if they view Carr or Webb as a primary returner over Yamon Figurs.

*****

Round 5 (149th overall):  Davon Drew (East Carolina), TE

TIGHT END (3)

Lock:  Todd Heap, L.J. Smith

Bubble:  Davon Drew, Quinn Sypniewski

Longshot:  Isaac Smolko, Edgar Jones

Analysis:  Heap and Smith are obviously safe, so the real battle will be between Drew and Sypniewski.  The Ravens like Drew’s potential, as he’s only spent a few seasons as a tight end.  He could eventually develop into an H-back in the offense.  Sypniewski showed promise in his first two seasons but missed all of last season with a knee injury.

Jones will have to make the team as a linebacker and special teams contributor.  Smolko will be little more than training camp depth.

*****

Round 6 (185th overall):  Cedric Peerman (Virginia), RB

RUNNING BACK (4 or 5)

Lock:  Le’Ron McClain, Willis McGahee, Ray Rice, Cedric Peerman

Bubble:  None

Longshot:  Matt Lawrence, Jalen Parmele

Analysis:  McClain figures to play more regularly at fullback in 2009, but he will still get carries in short-yardage situations and the fourth-quarter jumbo formation.  Peerman provides more depth at running back, allowing Cam Cameron to move McClain back to the more traditional fullback spot.

The team has reportedly signed undrafted free agent Jason Cook, Oher’s teammate at Ole Miss and described as a traditional power fullback.  Veteran Lorenzo Neal does not fit in the team’s current plans, but that could change in August.

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Something happened on the way to 11-5

Posted on 29 December 2008 by caseywillett

- Did it start with the firing of Brian Billick a year ago ?

-Was it Jason Garrett saying no to the Ravens and them picking John Harbaugh ?

- Was it the retirement of Jonathan Ogden and Steve McNair ?

- What about Rex Ryan getting no head coaching jobs this year and coming back to Baltimore ?

-Did it come in the form of Cam Cameron losing his job in Miami and connecting with his old friend John Harbaugh ?

-Was it the kid from Delaware named Joe Flacco that some people were suspect about if he could play at the NFL level ? Then not only taking this team, but the whole city on his back and marching them into the playoffs.

-The injuries to Troy Smith and Kyle Boller that paved the way for this guy from the Blue Hens to be a starter in the NFL.

-Was it the trying times at training camp when everything that could have gone wrong injury wise did ?

-Remember when we were talking about how letting John Welbourne leave without a deal was a mistake and Chad Slaughter and Mike Kracalik starting at the tackles in a game while we wondered how long Adam Terry and Jared Gaither would be out ?

-Questioning what Lorenzo Neal had in the tank when he showed up during training camp ? Willie Anderson ,who was told he could not play any more with the Bengals or in the NFL and being a huge part of this offensive line ?  How about Fabian Washington going from being run out of Oakland to one of the unsung star players this year ?

-Was it a fullback that would go on to have one of the best seasons of any Ravens running back ?

-Watching Kelly Gregg, Dawan Landry, Dwan Edwards, go down and the team not miss a beat. Seeing your all pro corner leave the team with an injury, and it possibly being a blessing in disguise.

-How about a guy who looks more like a coaches kid than a guy who came from the  Buffalo Bills and stepped into the secondary and they never missed a beat ?

-How about the punter who last year people were talking about how to pronounce his name and what it sounded like to being a huge factor for this team and helping the defense have the success that they have had ?

-How about a linebacker that many people questioned how much he had left in the tank going out and having a remarkable season 13 years into the league ?

-How about the safety who questioned if he would ever play football again in training camp, only to play and possibly be Defensive Player of the Year ?

-What about the wide receiver that many said is nothing more than a possession receiver, having a huge year including one of the more amazing performances any one has seen against the Cowboys ?

-Was it maybe not having a bye week and the focus this team showed going through 15 straight weeks of games including 6 out of 8 straight games on the road ?

-How about going into Texas Stadium for the final game in that stadium and beating the Dallas Cowboys in front of the whole world ?

-What about the character the team showed in responding from two tough losses to the Steelers and Titans on some some what controversial calls ?

-That wide receiver from Oklahoma that people said was not a deep threat, putting up some of the bigger deep plays of the season, and being the first Ravens receiver to have eight 100 yard games.

There are many more we could sit here and name, and they all plus the ones included would be reasons collectively as to why the Ravens are 11-5 and going to the playoffs. This has been an amazing run by a football team that seemed like they were going to be more like the 5-11 team the year before than a 11-5 team that people are talking about as a serious threat in the playoffs.

This has been one of the best years I have had covering a team. At every challenge that has come at this team, they have stared it down and moved on.

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Monday Morning’s Crabs and Beer

Posted on 01 December 2008 by Glenn Clark

There was absolutely nothing to complain about in yesterday’s win. Could the Ravens have scored TD’s earlier in the game? Maybe; but they scored plenty during the game; so it didn’t matter.

The Ravens can’t get complacent or overconfident; but they are certainly capable of beating the Redskins next week, and should beat them fairly handily.

As far as the Frank Walker saga is concerned; John Harbaugh can use him. Hopefully the relationship will repair this week. Harbaugh is in a better place at 8-4 to remind players of who the Head Coach is.

Let’s see what everyone else has to say……

Best of Sunday’s WNST Blogs:

Drew Forrester says schedule gets tougher for Ravens now

Nestor Aparicio wants to see Modell, Sharpe, Woodson go to Hall together

Nestor Aparicio says ‘not much to complain about’ in win

Chris Pika says Ravens snapped 3 game losing streak in Cincinnati

Glenn Clark says Terps fail in all aspects of loss to Georgetown

Glenn Clark ‘uncomfortable’ watching Maze at Tennessee

Ed Frankovic says Bears playing good hockey on Caps’ farm

RAVENS:

The Official Site’s Mike Duffy says Ravens ‘dominant’ in win over Bengals

The Official Site’s Mike Duffy says L. McClain ran for 85 yards, McGahee didn’t play one snap in win

The Official Site’s Kristen Deahl says Clayton threw, caught TD’s in Ravens’ win

Bengals Official Site’s Geoff Hobson says Bengals went three and out NINE times in loss

Bengals Official Site’s Geoff Hobson says team suffers 2nd worst loss of Marvin Lewis era

Bengals Official Site’s Geoff Hobson says Thornton thought Bengals ‘wore out’

Bengals Official Site’s Geoff Hobson says W. Anderson got Gatorade shower after beating former team

The Sun’s Jamison Hensley says Ravens get biggest divisional win in 5 years

The Sun’s David Steele says Clayton major ‘playmaker’ vs. Bengals

The Sun’s Mike Preston says Ravens’ offense improved again yesterday in win

The Sun’s Edward Lee says defense put it workmanlike effort in win

The Sun’s Mike Preston praises QB’s, WR’s, D-Line, LB’s

The Sun’s Ray Frager says Wilcots humorous in Ravens-Bengals broadcast

The Sun’s Edward Lee says Leonhard finished game with pick six

The Sun’s Peter Schmuck says Ravens believed Flacco could protect ball

The Sun’s Peter Schmuck says Clayton looked like ‘big-play receiver’ in win

Aaron Wilson says Suggs, 52 ‘bruised’ Fitzpatrick in Ravens’ win

Aaron Wilson says Mason added 6 catches, 91 yards, TD in win

Aaron Wilson says A. Terry didn’t play; J. Johnson left game with ankle or foot injury

The AP says Ravens stretch streak to 31 games without allowing 100 yard rusher

Cincinnati Enquirer’s Mark Curnutte says Bengals “Bungals” again

Cincinnati Enquirer’s Paul Daugherty says Ravens picked on L. Hall in win

Dayton Daily News’ Chick Ludwig says Fitzpatrick fumbled twice, was sacked three times, and had passes batted down 5 times at line of scrimmage

ESPN.com’s James Walker says both Ravens, Steelers face ‘rugged’ schedule

ESPN.com’s James Walker says game vs. Steelers will be ‘huge’

ESPN.com’s James Walker says with win, Ravens can afford split of next two games

CBS Sports’ Clark Judge says Ravens could ‘ruin’ playoff aspirations for Skins Sunday night

Yahoo! Sports’ Charles Robinson says Clayton has 377 yards and 3 TD’s in last 5 games

TERRAPINS BASKETBALL:

The AP says Terps blown out by Georgetown in Orlando

The Official Site provides numerical evidence of loss

The Official Site says Gary thought Terps weren’t ‘aggressive’

The Sun’s Don Markus says Terps scored fewest points in 13 years

The Sun’s Don Markus says Terps would have been better off if Georgetown game was on ESPNU

The Examiner’s Dylan Waugh says ‘weak interior game’ cost Terps. vs. Hoyas yesterday

The AP says Freeman had 18, Summers had 14 in Georgetown’s win over Maryland

The Diamondback’s Mark Selig says Hoyas got ‘bragging rights’ with win over Terps

Washington Post’s Liz Clarke says Hoyas held Vasquez to 2 points

Washington Post’s Steve Yanda says Gary thought Terps ‘weren’t ready to play’

Washington Post’s Steve Yanda says Vasquez went just 1 for 7 from field

Washington Post’s Steve Yanda says Bowie, Jin Soo amongst few bright spots for Terps in blowout loss

Washington Post’s Steve Yanda says Mosley made first start in loss

Washington Post’s Steve Yanda says Gary will continue to bring up Michigan State win throughout season

Washington Post’s Steve Yanda says Gary downplayed importance of Maryland-Georgetown

Washington Times’ Patrick Stevens says Terps put together 2nd lowest output in Gary Williams era

TERRAPINS FOOTBALL:

The Sun’s Jeff Barker says Terps politicking for trip to Charlotte

The Sun’s Jeff Barker says Terps will work on run between now and Bowl game

The Sun’s Jeff Barker says Ralph thinks Terps no worse than 5th best in ACC

The Examiner’s Steve DeClue says Terps show signs of ‘brilliance’, ‘incompetence’ in loss to BC

The Diamondback’s Eric Detweiler says Terps could be Boise-bound or worse

The Diamondback’s Greg Schimmel says Terps didn’t ‘quit’ in loss to BC

Washington Post’s Eric Prisbell says Boise could negotiate out of ACC tie to take Ball State; force Terps elsewhere

Washington Post’s Eric Prisbell says Boise ‘most likely destination’ for Terps

Washington Times’ Patrick Stevens says Terps beat all other 4-4 league teams except Miami

Washington Times’ Patrick Stevens says Ralph expects all players back before Bowl game

Washington Times’ Patrick Stevens says Georgia Tech last ACC team to go to back to back Western Bowls

Washington Times’ Patrick Stevens says Boise isn’t all bad

Terrapin Times’ Keith Cavanaugh says Ralph ‘tired, weary’ Sunday after BC loss (must subscribe)

TERRAPINS WOMEN’S BASKETBALL:

The Diamondback’s Adi Joseph says women go undefeated in Cancun

TERRAPINS SOCCER:

The Diamondback’s Aaron Kraut says Terps beat Cal to advance to Elite 8

NAVY FOOTBALL:

The Official Site previews Army/Navy Saturday

The Official Site offers complete Army/Navy release (pdf)

The Examiner’s Tom Flynn says Mids, Knights playing for 109th time Saturday

COPPIN BASKETBALL:

The Official Site says Spiders ride hot shooting to win over Eagles

MT. ST. MARY’S BASKETBALL:

The Official Site says Eers visit American tonight on MASN

HOPKINS BASKETBALL:

The Official Site says Jays fall to St. Mary’s in final of DIII event

The Sun’s Jeff Seidel says Jays ‘never lost poise’ in loss to St. Mary’s

SALISBURY BASKETBALL:

The Official Site says Gulls lose third place game to Washington in DIII Tournament

ORIOLES:

The Official Site’s Spencer Fordin says Roberts’ future may ‘hinge’ on team’s ability to sign major free agent

The Official Site’s Spencer Fordin says Birds probably won’t offer arbitration to Millar, Payton, Castro, Cintron

The Sun’s Dean Jones Jr. catches up with former Oriole Matos

The Examiner’s Jay Trucker wonders why Birds would trade Olson for Pie and not SS

Washington Post’s Cameron Smith says deal for Pie would send Peavy to Cubs

SWIMMING:

The Sun’s David Zurawik says 60 Minutes piece had too much Cooper, not enough Phelps

SOME QUICK THOUGHTS:

-Congratulations to SunTrust Athlete of the Morning Pat Balderson, who ran for 5 touchdowns as Linganore beat Arundel to advance to the 4A State Title.

-I’ll say Morgan beats St. Francis 75-69 tonight.

Talk to you tomorrow.

-G

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No overlooking Bengals here

Posted on 26 November 2008 by caseywillett

Despite the Bengals being 1-9-1, the Ravens are not overlooking them on Sunday. Several of the players today pointed out that this is still a dangerous team simply by the fact that they have Chad Johnson and T.J. Houshmandzadeh at the wide receiver position.

Here are some other highlights from the Ravens media session today:

- Several of the defensive players talked about how Ryan Fitzpatrick gets out of the pocket more than Carson Palmer, and will do so not only to throw, but can tuck the ball down and run with it.

-On the injury front, Adam Terry, Willie Anderson, and Jared Gaither, will all be listed as day to day and the Ravens will have to see how they progress through the week. They are hoping that they do not suffer any setbacks leading into Sunday.

-A lot of the talk today was about Willie Anderson and him facing his former team. Willie was inactive for the week 1 match up between the Bengals and the Ravens. T.J. Houshmandzadeh during his conference call today said that he still talks to Anderson, as recently as last night, and that they miss Anderson on the Bengals. Anderson said he has enjoyed being with the Ravens, and made the right choice in picking them over going to the San Diego Chargers. Houshmandzadeh even talked about how Anderson has told him all of the good things about being a part of the Ravens organization.

My opinion is that Houshmandzadeh would be a great pick up for the Ravens in the off season.

- The Ravens will have a practice tomorrow, then have the afternoon off to spend time with their families. They will return to work early Friday morning to finish preparing for the Bengals.

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Tuesday Morning’s Crabs and Beer

Posted on 25 November 2008 by Glenn Clark

Tuesday Top 7….

7-Derrick Mason

In the first half; he was Flacco’s comfort level. He was the safety net. Not his best game; but thank God he’s there to keep Flacco safe.

6-Haloti Ngata

He didn’t do the amazing; he’s just regularly amazing.

5-Jared Gaither

Didn’t think he was gonna play; but he ended up being stellar.

4-Mark Clayton

Not a great game overall; but the TD really broke things open.

3-Le’Ron McClain

If he can keep doing that in the 4th quarter; the Ravens will continue their 77-0 dominance of the end of games.

2-Jarrett Johnson

The play was amazing; but JJ was outstanding from start to finish.

1-Ed Reed

Is there really any argument?

Let’s see what everyone else has to say…..

Best of Monday’s WNST Blogs:

Drew Forrester thinks Flacco team MVP

Casey Willett says Ravens working Thursday

Drew Forrester says Towson not particularly impressive in win

Drew Forrester concerned about Bengals

Chris Pika says Bengals want to put wrench in Ravens’ plans

Casey Willett says ‘playmaking’ key to Ravens’ win

Nestor Aparicio says NFL ‘excited’ about Ravens-Skins

Thyrl Nelson has Ravens 9th in power rankings

Ed Frankovic says Caps drop 3rd straight

RAVENS:

The Official Site’s Scott Garceau says Ravens can make playoffs with wins in 3 of last 5

The Official Site says Ravens, Skins to play at night

The Official Site says Harbaugh thinks ‘good chance’ Pryce, Terry can play next week

The Official Site’s Mike Duffy says Harbaugh not getting ahead of himself

Bengals Official Site’s Geoff Hobson says Ocho Cinco returns to practice

The Sun’s Jamison Hensley says Ravens dominating 4th quarters

The Sun’s Edward Lee says Harbaugh points out special team positives

The Sun’s Rick Maese says 52 Most Valuable Raven, Kevin Van Valkenburg thinks Ngata

The Sun’s Edward Lee says Harbaugh ‘couldn’t care less’ about Skins game moving to primetime

The Sun’s Mike Preston says O-Line has been ‘mashed’

The Sun’s Peter Schmuck says picking against Ravens not sign of disrespect

The Sun’s Peter Schmuck says even after Eagles win; some don’t think Ravens ‘for real’

The Sun’s Edward Lee says Harbaugh thinks officials helped set up Gatorade bath

The Sun’s Mike Preston ‘can’t see’ Ravens losing in Cincinnati

The Sun’s Mike Preston says veteran defenders ‘looked pretty fresh’ vs. Eagles

The Sun’s Mike Preston doesn’t think Ravens should pursue Housmandzadeh

The Examiner’s Steve DeClue gives highest praise to secondary, harshest criticism to O-Line

Aaron Wilson says Ravens think more Gatorade baths to come this season

Frederick News-Post’s Stan Goldberg says Reed still defensive ‘force’

The AP says Ravens aware of playoff status

Cincinnati Enquirer’s Mark Curnutte says Bengals place Geathers, Rucker on IR

ESPN.com’s James Walker says move to primetime shows Ravens ‘respect’

ESPN.com’s James Walker says Ravens have ‘great chance’ to beat Bengals, Redskins

ESPN.com’s James Walker expects Ravens-Skins to be ‘hard fought’

ESPN.com’s James Walker says Reed proves he’s still ‘elite’ safety

Sporting News’ Mike Florio says Harbaugh’s knowledge of Eagles helped Sunday

CBS Sports’ Pete Prisco gives Ravens ‘A’ for Eagles performance

Yahoo! Sports’ Michael Silver has Ravens 14th in power rankings

NAVY FOOTBALL:

The Sun’s Don Markus says tonight’s first start for Dobbs could be ‘continuation of problems’ or ‘coming out party’

The Examiner’s Tom Flynn picks NIU 38-31

Annapolis Capital’s Bill Wagner says Mids trying to ‘right ship’ tonight in Dekalb

Annapolis Capital’s Bill Wagner says NIU, Navy improved defensively

Washington Post’s Camille Powell says Mids going with Dobbs despite his ‘mistakes’

Washington Times’ Mike Fratto says Dobbs reaches ‘starting’ goal

Washington Times’ Patrick Stevens says Navy one of 11 schools to start 3 QB’s this season

Go Mids’ Chris Rohe tells you what you need to know about NIU

NAVY BASKETBALL:

The Official Site previews tonight’s contest with UMES

TERRAPINS FOOTBALL:

The Official Site previews trip to Boston College

The Official Site offers complete Maryland-BC release (pdf)

The Sun’s Jeff Barker says Saturday’s game big for Ralph’s future

The Sun’s Jeff Barker says seniors trying to remember other home games more than senior night

The Sun’s Matt Bracken says commit deSouza beat commit Porzel in playoffs

The Diamondback’s Eric Detweiler says ‘inconsistency finally caught up’ with Terps in loss to FSU

Washington Post’s Eric Prisbell says Nebraska showdown in Gator Bowl still possible

Washington Post’s Eric Prisbell says ‘defensive communication issues’ have been common theme

Washington Post’s Eric Prisbell thinks Orlando, Nashville, Charlotte, Boise likely destinations for Terps

Washington Post’s Eric Prisbell says prognosticators have Terps anywhere from Boise to Charlotte

Washington Post’s Eric Prisbell compares Maryland, BC statistically

Washington Post’s Eric Prisbell says Turner expects ‘different team’ Saturday

Washington Post’s Eric Prisbell says E. Williams thinks ‘apathy’ could have been issue Sunday

Washington Times’ Patrick Stevens says Turner shouldn’t have to earn starting gig next summer

Washington Times’ Patrick Stevens says Terps became just another ranked ACC team to lose

ESPN.com’s Heather Dinich says BC Coach Jagodzinski ‘expected’ Eagles to be in this position

ESPN.com’s Heather Dinich thinks Terps headed to Charlotte

ESPN.com’s Heather Dinich says backup QB Davis will have to beat Terps

Terrapin Times’ Mark Clem says stud RB prospect Austin attended FSU game (must subscribe)

Terrapin Times’ Mark Clem profiles ST prospect (must subscribe)

TERRAPINS BASKETBALL:

The Sun’s Don Markus thinks Gregory will start for Dupree

The Sun’s Don Markus ‘not jumping on’ Vasquez bandwagon

The Examiner’s Dylan Waugh says Vasquez similar to Arenas

The Diamondback’s Mark Selig says Gary still working on rotation

Washington Post’s Steve Yanda says Spartans will look to use ‘speed’ to beat Terps

Washington Post’s Steve Yanda says Vasquez ACC Player of the Week

Washington Post’s Steve Yanda says Gary wants improvement on short range shooting

Washington Times’ Patrick Stevens says Vasquez averaged 27 points, 8.5 boards to garner honor

Washington Times’ Patrick Stevens says Terps 2nd best team in area

TERRAPINS SOCCER:

The Diamondback’s Aaron Kraut says Terps host GMU in Tournament after 6 day break

DC Examiner’s Craig Stouffer says Terps, Pats bring similar seasons to Tournament showdown tonight

LOYOLA BASKETBALL:

The Official Site says J. Barney’s 23 leads Hounds to win over JMU

The Official Site offers complete Loyola-Davidson release (pdf)

LOYOLA SOCCER:

The Sun’s Patrick Guitierrez says McVea, Darvill lead Hounds to tonight’s NCAA 2nd round showdown

TOWSON BASKETBALL:

The Official Site says Kennedy not happy with performance, but Tigers top NJIT

The Official Site says Franklin honored by CAA

The Sun says Hairston scored 13 in return from suspension vs. Highlanders

TOWSON FOOTBALL:

The Official Site says Lee, Mack, Manning, Schaefer honored by CAA

HOPKINS BASKETBALL:

The Sun’s Mike Klingaman says Jays coach Nelson hopes to get women involved in DIII Tourney

ORIOLES:

The Official Site’s Spencer Fordin says Orioles won’t act like Yankees

The Sun’s Dan Connolly says Burnett’s agent thinks Orioles in final 6

The Sun’s Dean Jones Jr. says Reimold, Wieters finished Arizona season well

The Sun’s Peter Schmuck says some analysts looking for ‘any sign of hope’ with Orioles

The Examiner’s Jay Trucker says Guns N Roses beat Orioles to promised land

SOME QUICK THOUGHTS:

-Congratulations to SunTrust Athlete of the Morning Mike Dunbar. He’s from Calvert Hall’s JV Soccer team; and he’s our Boys’ JV Athlete of the Fall.

-Northern Illinois 34, Navy 28. Davidson 86, Loyola 62-Stephon Curry scores 31. Maryland Soccer 3, George Mason 1. Loyola Soccer 2, UNC Greensboro 0.

Talk to you tomorrow.

-G

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Players making plays was key to the game

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Players making plays was key to the game

Posted on 24 November 2008 by caseywillett

That was the main key to the 36-7 victory over the Eagles on Sunday according to Coach Harbaugh. Here are some other notes from the Monday press conference.

- Coach Harbaugh gave a lot of credit to Cam Cameron for having an offensive game plan and sticking with it throughout the game and not panicking when things were not going their way.

- Coach Harbaugh was also proud of the effort and attention to detail that the defense showed throughout the game, even with the change at quarterback.

-Although the Bengals(1-9-1) are team that is struggling right now, Coach Harbaugh said it will be a tremendous challenge for the team. The Ravens have not won in Cincinnati since 9-26-04, having lost the last three trips they have taken to Paul Brown Stadium.

- ” A special feeling”, is how Coach Harbaugh described the end of the game as Ray Lewis and Brendon Ayanbadejo dumped water on him and the talk with the team in the locker room following the game.

- With Thanksgiving coming up this week, Coach Harbaugh meet with some of the veteran players about a schedule for the holiday that allows them to get their work done, but also be able to spend time with their families.

- On the injury front, Adam Terry and Trevor Pryce both suffered concussions during the game on Sunday. They both should be ok, but it is to early to tell according to Coach Harbaugh.

-Coach Harbaugh once again sang the praises of Jared Gaither and the job that he did being forced into playing duty on Sunday with the injury to Adam Terry. According to Coach Harbaugh, Gaither took another huge step as an NFL player on Sunday.

- Ed Reed was a huge factor in the game with his play on Sunday, inlcuding his 108yd return for a touchdown. Coach Harbaugh talked about how he has seen Reed take over a game like that before, but it was amazing to see it in person and up close and personal.

- The tackle of Brian Westbrook by his jock strap was brought up to Coach Harbaugh as to whether he has ever seen anything like that before,” I haven’t I think it is a testament to the resilience of some of the football equipment that they are putting out these days.”

Ravens linebacker Antwan Barnes (50) stops Eagles running back Brian Westbrook (36) by the seat of his pants for a two-yard loss in the third quarter.

- Coach Harbaugh said he could care less and has no thoughts about the time of the Redskins – Ravens game being moved up to 8:15 p.m. He pointed out that they will be ready and will be there on time.

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Eagles – Ravens preview

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Eagles – Ravens preview

Posted on 23 November 2008 by caseywillett

Here are some things to look for in the game today:

Keep Joe standing-  The Eagles, much like the Giants are going to come after Joe Flacco. Currently the Eagles are second in the NFL with 36 sacks on the season. Eagles defensive coordinator Jim Johnson likes to bring exotic blitz packages teams at teams. Out of the 11 starters on defense for the Eagles, 10 of them have at least one sack. For the Ravens offensive line, most of that pressure comes from the front four of the Eagles. With the Ravens without the services of Jared Gaither, and Willie Anderson’s status up in the air, the Ravens could be looking at Adam Terry and Oneil Cousins or Chad Slaughter at the tackle positions. Keep an eye on the Trent Cole (#58) and Darren Howard (#90) for the Eagles defense, they have a combined 14 sacks.

Who do you cover ? - While DeSean Jackson has become the number one target of Donovan McNabb, after him McNabb and the Eagles have several different guys that can catch the ball. This could be a big key in the game today if they do not have Brian Westbrook. The Eagles could be able to stretch the Ravens defense out by going 3 or 4 wide at the receiver position. Plus his back and tight ends are also threats to catch the ball.

Here are the Eagles players stats when it comes to pass catching : Jackson- WR(42c 1TD), Brown -WR (13c 1TD), Lewis -WR (16c), Curtis-WR (19c 1TD),Avant – WR( 18c 1TD) ,Baskett - WR (22c 3TD), Smith – TE (18c 3 TD), Celek – TE (17c), Westbrook -RB (32c 2TD) ,Buckhalter (21c 1 TD)

Who can make the play on 3rd down - This might be the biggest element in deciding who wins the game today. The Eagles and the Ravens defense are two of the best in the NFL on stopping teams on 3rd down. Both teams have only allowed 33.1 % of third downs to be converted, Eagles(41-124) Ravens(49-148). Whichever team can covert on third down today could go a long way in deciding who wins this football game.

Which trend survives- People always talk about trends in the NFL, well here are two of them going into today’s game. Since 2000, the Eagles have the second best record in the NFL following a loss, owning a 30-15-1 record (.663). In 2008, they are 2-1-1, so far. The Ravens are 0-2 coming off of a loss this year and are coming off of a loss on Sunday to the Giants.

 

This will be a close game, probably with out a bunch of points being put on the board, but I will say the Eagles squeak out at 19-16 win over the Ravens today.

 

Also, if you see Kendra Wilkinson in the stands today, be nice to her, and tell her to return my phone calls please.

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