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Ravens-Falcons: Five predictions for Sunday

Posted on 18 October 2014 by Luke Jones

Facing an opponent that’s moving in the wrong direction for the second straight week, the Ravens should feel good about their return home to play the Atlanta Falcons on Sunday afternoon.

Baltimore has a chance to improve to 5-2 with critical road games looming against Cincinnati and Pittsburgh in the next two weeks while the Falcons have dropped three straight and could find themselves out of the NFC South race if they don’t turn around a 2-4 start quickly. Atlanta is 0-3 on the road and has lost those games by an average margin of 12.3 points with a defense that ranks 31st in the NFL.

Meanwhile, the Ravens offense sits in the top 10 in most categories and the Baltimore defense has allowed only 16.2 points per game, good for third in the league through the first six weeks of the 2014 season. The Ravens secondary will also have the services of free safety Will Hill after he was activated on Saturday, so it will be interesting to see how the former New York Giant is worked into the defense in his first action of 2014.

Sunday marks the fifth time these teams have met in their regular-season history with the Ravens and Falcons each owning two wins. Atlanta won the last game between these teams in a 26-21 thriller at the Georgia Dome on Nov. 11, 2010.

Here’s what to expect as the Ravens try to begin the season 5-2 for the fourth time under head coach John Harbaugh …

1. Both Joe Flacco and Matt Ryan throw for over 300 yards in a battle of 2008 first-round draft picks. The Falcons have allowed 24 or more points in five of their six games this season and are allowing 277.7 passing yards per game and will now face Flacco, who is coming off a career-high five touchdown passes in last week’s win at Tampa Bay. Meanwhile, Atlanta’s passing game hasn’t had problems this season in ranking third in the NFL. The debate between Flacco and Ryan — the first two quarterbacks selected in the 2008 draft — has become a tired one as the former enjoys a clear edge in postseason success while the latter puts up better fantasy numbers, but both should have strong afternoons against less-than-stellar secondaries.

2. Justin Forsett goes over the 100-yard rushing mark for the second straight week. You keep waiting for some semblance of a market correction for the 29-year-old running back, but he keeps shredding opposing run defenses to the tune of 6.4 yards per carry. Flacco will have a strong day to give the Ravens a lead in the second half, which will open the door for Forsett and his fellow backfield mates to gain big yardage. With James Hurst and John Urschel expected to be blocking the blindside again, Forsett will continue to receive extensive reps due to his pass-blocking ability and that will lead to him receiving more carries than Bernard Pierce and Lorenzo Taliaferro.

3. Falcons defensive end Jonathan Massaquoi will be a rare standout in an otherwise listless pass rush. A second straight week of starting two rookies on the left side of the offensive line will make Harbaugh and offensive coordinator Gary Kubiak nervous, but the Falcons haven’t been able to put any consistent heat on quarterbacks this season. The one player who’s offered something as a rusher has been Massaquoi, who leads Atlanta with two sacks and has graded out as one of the better outside pass rushers in the NFL, according to Pro Football Focus. He’ll beat Hurst to pick up a sack at some point, but the Ravens should have few problems keeping Flacco upright as long as they shade help to the left side and he’s quick in getting rid of the ball.

4. With Jimmy Smith locked on Julio Jones, Atlanta wideout Roddy White will catch a touchdown and pick up 85 receiving yards. There’s no reason to think Smith won’t shadow Jones, who already has 44 catches and 620 receiving yards (third in the NFL) through six games. However, White is still a receiver to be careful with and it’s difficult to feel too confident in the rest of the Baltimore secondary as the Ravens rank 27th in pass defense. The addition of Hill gives the Ravens an intriguing option to work in at safety, but as long as Matt Elam continues to handle nickel duties, they’re vulnerable to giving up yards. White will be a thorn in the Ravens’ side while Smith holds Jones to a modest level of production for his high standards.

5. On a day when both offenses have success, the Ravens will make a few more defensive stops en route to a 34-20 win to improve to 5-2. Baltimore needs to be aware of the explosiveness of the Atlanta offense, but the Falcons are way too soft on defense to seriously threaten the Ravens at M&T Bank Stadium. In the only opportunity to play at home this month, the Ravens will take care of business and put themselves in great position as they face the Bengals and the Steelers in consecutive road games. Unlike last season, the Ravens are giving themselves some margin for error in terms of the playoff race and a relatively comfortable win over Atlanta will be the latest statement for the case that they’ll be playing in January.

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Ravens unlikely to have starting left side of line against Atlanta

Posted on 17 October 2014 by Luke Jones

The Ravens are likely to be without the starting left side of their offensive line for the second straight week after tackle Eugene Monroe and guard Kelechi Osemele were both listed as doubtful for Sunday’s game against the Atlanta Falcons.

Neither lineman participated in Friday’s practice after both worked on a limited basis Thursday, meaning the Ravens are likely to go with the rookie combination of James Hurst and John Urschel for the second consecutive game. There had appeared to be some optimism that Osemele would return after missing last Sunday’s game against Tampa Bay since he had been a limited participant on Wednesday and Thursday, but he will need at least another week to recover from the hyper extended knee he suffered against the Indianapolis Colts on Oct. 5.

Ideally, head coach John Harbaugh and the Ravens would like to have Monroe and Osemele back in the lineup for a key road game against the Cincinnati Bengals next week, so the fact that both were able to get on the practice field this week bodes well for their status.

To no surprise, defensive end Chris Canty (wrist surgery) and defensive tackle Christo Bilukidi (ankle) were officially ruled out for Sunday’s game.

The Ravens listed five players as probable to play against Atlanta, including rookie defensive tackle Timmy Jernigan (meniscus surgery), who could be playing for the first time since injuring his knee on Sept. 11.

In remains unclear whether the Ravens will elect to activate safety Will Hill from the reserve-suspended list or defensive tackle Terrence Cody from the reserve-physically unable to perform list after both players practiced fully all week. Harbaugh would not tip his hand whether either would be moved to the 53-man roster by Saturday’s 4 p.m. deadline to make them eligible to play against the Falcons.

“It depends on some other things. There’s a domino effect to some of that,” Harbaugh said. “But they’re both capable of playing, physically. They’re both ready. They had a good week of practice, and they showed that they’re ready to play.”

Atlanta officially ruled out wide receiver Harry Douglas (foot) and listed six other players as probable for Sunday’s game.

Carl Cheffers will be the referee for Sunday’s game against the Falcons.

According to Weather.com, Sunday’s forecast calls for sunny skies with temperatures in the low 50s and winds up to 15 miles per hour.

Baltimore will don its black alternate jerseys for the second time this season and the 18th time in franchise history. The Ravens hold a 12-5 record when wearing the black jerseys and are 9-2 under Harbaugh. Earlier this season, the Ravens won 38-10 when they sported their all-black uniforms against the Carolina Panthers.

Here is the final injury report of the week:

BALTIMORE
OUT: DT Christo Bilukidi (ankle), DE Chris Canty (wrist)
DOUBTFUL: T Eugene Monroe (knee), G Kelechi Osemele (knee)
PROBABLE: WR Kamar Aiken (concussion), WR Marlon Brown (pelvis), TE Owen Daniels (non-injury), DT Timmy Jernigan (knee), LB Daryl Smith (non-injury)

ATLANTA
OUT: WR Harry Douglas (foot)
PROBABLE: DT Jonathan Babineaux (knee), G Justin Blalock (back), WR Devin Hester (hamstring), WR Julio Jones (ankle), LB Prince Shembo (knee), LB Nate Stupar (knee)

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Personnel diversity providing improved results for Ravens offense

Posted on 16 October 2014 by Luke Jones

OWINGS MILLS, Md. — New faces, new injuries, and a new system would be more than enough for the Ravens offense to be struggling through the first six weeks of the 2014 season.

Except it hasn’t.

In fact, a year after searching up and down the roster — and outside of it — for solutions to cure the offensive woes, the eighth-ranked unit in the NFL now finds itself with plenty of diversity that’s provided different results as the Ravens are off to a 4-2 record. Tied for fifth in points per game, Baltimore has transformed its offense from a liability to a strength in less than a year’s time as they’ve already scored 26 or more points three times compared to last year’s total of four games reaching that barrier.

Offensive coordinator Gary Kubiak is still chasing consistency with his unit — the Ravens have two games in which they’ve scored fewer than 17 points — but the overall results have been impressive in his first season on John Harbaugh’s staff.

“We just have to stay focused on us. That’s what I told the guys,” Kubiak said. “Let’s not get too consumed with who’re playing or those types of things. If we play the way we’re capable of playing and do our jobs, we’re probably going to move the football.”

While it’s obvious the offseason additions of Steve Smith, Jeremy Zuttah, Owen Daniels, and Justin Forsett have paid significant dividends, the Ravens have faced plenty of adversity on the offensive side of the ball that could have led to their demise. The abrupt release of Ray Rice and the season-ending injury to Dennis Pitta took away a large portion of production from past seasons, but Baltimore has thrived without them.

Three running backs — Forsett, Bernard Pierce, and Lorenzo Taliaferro — have received at least 40 carries each and the Ravens are averaging 4.7 yards per carry, good for sixth in the NFL. Viewed as little more than a depth signing in the offseason, Forsett has averaged a league-best 6.4 yards per carry, which is more than twice as productive as the Ravens’ league-worst 3.1 yards per attempt in 2013.

“He gets the most out of his ability,” said Kubiak about the 29-year-old Forsett, who’s already rushed for more yards in 2014 than his two previous seasons combined. “He’s not the biggest guy in the world, but he does a great job in pass protection. He’s a three-down player, so he’s a guy that you can keep on the field all the time in what you’re doing. The thing he’s doing right now [is] he’s finding a way to make a big play every week.”

The Ravens’ three-headed monster at running back has been discussed at length, but they continue to use an extensive collection of pass catchers for quarterback Joe Flacco to throw to. The 35-year-old Smith has clearly led the way with 35 catches for 573 yards and four touchdowns, but 13 different players have already caught passes this season with rookie Michael Campanaro and former practice-squad member Kamar Aiken catching their first career scores last week.

The different personnel groupings at the receiver position have allowed Kubiak to keep the veteran Smith as well as Torrey Smith fresh during games, but they’ve also created problems for opposing defenses. It’s been a pleasant change from last season when the Ravens did see 15 different players catch passes, but Flacco struggled to find any he could consistently rely on to make plays beyond Torrey Smith and Marlon Brown.

Those weapons have made it easier for Flacco, who’s posted a career-high 97.8 passer rating and is on pace to throw a personal-best 32 touchdowns compared to just eight interceptions.

“The one thing as an offense you never want to be is predictable,” Steve Smith said. “A lot of times people may think when these [younger] guys come in, it’s not a pass play — it’s not a play where they’re getting the ball. So, that just shows you that we do have guys that may not be starters but have the big-play ability [against] other teams and in the game. That just shows that those guys can play.”

Perhaps no other position group has benefited from improved depth more than the offensive line, which has become arguably the Ravens’ biggest strength in 2014 after it was nothing short of a disaster last year.

Zuttah and Rick Wagner have solidified the center and right tackle positions, respectively, but the Ravens have remained successful even with injuries to left tackle Eugene Monroe and left guard Kelechi Osemele. The Ravens have won two of the three games in which rookie free agent James Hurst has started at left tackle for Monroe and are 1-0 with rookie John Urschel playing in place of Osemele.

Those were the kinds of injuries the Ravens couldn’t overcome last year, but the offensive line has continued to thrive in Kubiak’s system.

“It’s not just us,” said right guard Marhal Yanda about the improvement. “It’s the backs, it’s Joe [Flacco], it’s the tight ends, it’s Gary — it’s everybody. We’re in this thing together, and it’s definitely going well for us. We’ve had a couple of hiccups, but we’re just trying to continue to be consistent and get after them.”

It’s been a “strength in numbers” mindset with results that couldn’t be much better. And the struggles of last year become more and more faint.

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Rice, Porter lead Wizards past Hawks in Summer League play

Posted on 12 July 2014 by WNST Staff

Game Recap: Wizards 90, Hawks 74

Glen Rice Jr. and Otto Porter combined for 47 points as they powered the Washington Wizards to a 90-74 victory over the Atlanta Hawks on the second day of play in the summer dessert classic in Las Vegas.

The Wizards trailed by as many as eight points in the game and were held to just 12 points in the second quarter. However, the second half was all Wizards as they outscored the Hawks 55 to 33.

Porter led all scorers with 25 points for the Wizards while Adreian Payne chipped in a team-high 12 points for the Hawks.

The Wizards held a 23-17 lead after the opening quarter of play. The Hawks struggled out of the gate connecting on just one basket in the first eight minutes of the quarter. Mike Muscala and Walter Tavares both tallied four points for the Hawks in the quarter while Rice chipped in eight for the Wizards.

The Hawks closed the second quarter on a 6-2 run and held a seven point lead, 41-35, at halftime. Atlanta’s offensive output was driven by Larmar Patterson who chipped in eight points and Steven Holt who added five. The Wizards were held to just 12 second quarter points.

The third quarter was all Wizards as they fought back and tied the game up at 47, at the 6:40 mark in the quarter. They continued to dominate the quarter earning their largest lead of the quarter at 13. Washington continued to dominate in the fourth quarter, expanding their lead to as many as 20.

Paul Millsap was on hand to watch his younger brother Abraham who is a member of the Hawks summer league team.

Both teams return to action on Sunday, the Hawks (0-1) taking on the NBA D-League Select team at 3:30 p.m. and the Wizards (1-0) will host Minnesota at 7:30 p.m.

(Recap courtesy of NBA)

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The 15-7-0 is sick of all these NFL bullies. You know, like the Jaguars. Big bullies.

Posted on 11 November 2013 by Glenn Clark

15 positive observations from the weekend of football, seven not so positive observations and we acknowledge a “zero” from outside the world of football. A reminder, there’s never any Ravens game analysis here. We do plenty of that elsewhere. It’s a trip through the weekend of football via videos, GIFs, memes, pictures, links, Tweets and shtick.

Unlike Richie Incognito, the 15-7-0 actually turned down Jay Glazer’s request for a Sunday morning interview. Also unlike Richie Incognito, the 15-7-0 only uses the term “expletive” once or twice per sentence. Personal rule. Except when I’m at church. Obviously.

15 Positive Observations…

1. Someone tell Rod Marinelli to get the champagne ready-there’s just one more domino to fall to keep the streak alive!

The Jaguars won a football game. Sure it was against Ryan Fitzpatrick, but it still counts!

Delanie Walker with the response of the day.

Via Terry McCormick of Titans Insider:

“It’s disgusting. I’m disappointed. I’m embarrassed. A team that’s 0-8 comes in here and beats us? Beats us on our home field, that’s 0-8, the Jaguars? Come on. Talking about first place? Talking about first place? We just got whooped by the Jaguars. We ain’t talking first place no more. It’s out the window. We’ve got to come back and play the Colts. I don’t know how everybody’s gonna handle it. I mean, we lost to the Jaguars.”

Truth.

2. Keenan Reynolds ran many yards beyond the line of scrimmage Saturday. As a Baltimore Ravens fan, I was admittedly unaware this was allowed within the rules of football.

Navy beat Hawai’i. You know what that means.

Also, the most adorable picture you’ll see all weekend.

3. While I’ve always been in favor of college football going to the “division four” concept, I’m pretty sure it will be tough for Alabama to sell tickets when they’re the only team playing in it.

But honestly, Nick Saban has one like half a billion football games. THIS was the one that made him want to jump into his quarterback’s arms?

Tigers really opened up the playbook to try to top the Tide…

I can’t explain why-but this right here seems like the absolute perfect reaction to this game.

OH SNAP, VERNE LUNDQUIST!

And elsewhere in the SEC, you guys remember the Manziel guy that one the Heisman Trophy that one time? The guy who plays at Texas A&M reminds me of him.

And finally elsewhere in the SEC (at least for now), Dorial Green-Beckham did what now?

4. So apparently the deal is that you actually CAN survive losing your head coach…but only if you have one of the greatest quarterbacks of all time on your roster.

Of course, Peyton Manning’s ankle was banged up during the course of the game-which apparently means some ref somewhere didn’t get the memo.

This lady is currently thinking to herself “there are like five people that come to games out here and I have to sit behind this one?”

5. This Riley Cooper guy is a nice little player. Any back story on this guy? He’s just kinda popped up out of nowhere these last couple of weeks. I bet he’s a really great dude.

This DeSean Jackson TD is obviously the responsibility of Aaron Rodgers not being in the game.

Elsewhere, LeSean McCoy is KILLING IT.

Clay Matthews played with a thing on his hand that is so ridiculous it would probably be disallowed even in the WWE.

Vinny Curry is lovable.

Also, Philly’s play call sheets are cooler than yours.

(Continued on Page 2…)

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Ravens escape second preseason game without any serious injuries

Posted on 16 August 2013 by Luke Jones

(This blog brought to you by Atlantic Remodeling. Visit www.atlanticremodeling.com to learn about their Red Cent Guarantee!)

After the Ravens’ 27-23 preseason win over the Atlanta Falcons, head coach John Harbaugh painted a positive picture from a health standpoint.

Outside linebacker Elvis Dumervil suffered a minor groin injury and rookie safety Matt Elam tweaked his ankle, but the head coach described both as “fine” after the game. Dumervil also downplayed any significance to his ailment in the Baltimore locker room.

“Nothing really injury-wise came out of this game,” Harbaugh said of the injury picture. “So that’s a positive.”

According to The Sun, reserve outside linebacker Adrian Hamilton injured his wrist and will have further tests on it Friday. Rookie defensive tackle Brandon Williams was also shaken up in the second half of Thursday’s game but returned to action soon thereafter.

Last week against Tampa Bay, the Ravens lost wide receiver Deonte Thompson (ankle), running back Bernard Pierce (knee), and defensive tackle Marcus Spears (hamstring) and only Pierce has returned to practice at this point.

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Ravens-Falcons inactives and pre-game notes

Posted on 15 August 2013 by Luke Jones

(This blog brought to you by Atlantic Remodeling. Visit www.atlanticremodeling.com to learn about their Red Cent Guarantee!)

BALTIMORE — After a 44-16 win over Tampa Bay in the preseason opener, the Ravens hope to build on what was an up-and-down performance from their starting units in their first live-game action of the summer.

Coach John Harbaugh said starters will likely play most of the first half against the Atlanta Falcons, but that’s always subject to change based on how the game progresses and preferences to rest certain starters more than others. Of course, starters are expected to receive their most extensive action in next week’s all-important third preseason game.

Pro Bowl guard Marshal Yanda, cornerback Lardarius Webb, defensive tackle Marcus Spears, and tight end Ed Dickson were among the notable names scratched for Thursday’s game. Spears has been dealing with a hamstring injury suffered in the preseason opener while Yanda and Webb are still practicing on a limited basis.

Wide receiver Brandon Stokley and tight end Dallas Clark both suited up to at least go through pre-game warmups and weren’t listed as inactive, but it remained to be seen prior to the game whether either would play against the Falcons. Stokley took part in two full practices earlier this week while Clark only had one.

(Updated 7:35 p.m. — Clark was scratched for Thursday’s game right before the kickoff.)

For the Falcons, future Hall of Fame tight end Tony Gonzalez will not play Thursday night.

Thursday night marks the 10th time these teams have met in the preseason, with the Ravens holding a 6-3 edge. The regular-season series is tied 2-2 with the Falcons winning their most recent meeting in 2010.

The Ravens will wear their purple jerseys with white pants while Atlanta wears its white tops and white pants.

Here are the inactives…

BALTIMORE
CB Lardarius Webb
DT Marcus Spears
CB Chris Johnson
LB Jameel McClain
DE Kapron Lewis-Moore
G Marshal Yanda
OL Ryan Jensen
WR Deonte Thompson
TE Ed Dickson
TE Dennis Pitta

ATLANTA
TE Tony Gonzalez
FB Bradie Ewing
RB Jason Snelling
LB Sean Weatherspoon

Be sure to follow WNST on Twitter throughout the evening as Glenn Clark, Nestor Aparicio, and I bring live coverage from M&T Bank Stadium.

 

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Ravens-Falcons preseason primer: Five players to watch

Posted on 14 August 2013 by Luke Jones

(This blog brought to you by Atlantic Remodeling. Visit www.atlanticremodeling.com to learn about their Red Cent Guarantee!)

Looking to build on an uneven performance from their starting units in the preseason opener, the Ravens return to M&T Bank Stadium for their first live-game action at home since last season in hosting the Atlanta Falcons on Thursday night.

Though starters won’t see their most extensive action until next week against Carolina, the first-team units will likely play deep into the second quarter before giving way to backups.

“It will be somewhere in that neighborhood,” coach John Harbaugh said. “Usually the second preseason game is a half, but again, like we say every time we play a preseason game, it will depend on different guys. Different guys will be on different plans, so it’s hard to say exactly.”

The second preseason game is often the best opportunity for younger players to make their biggest impression with the coaching staff since starters often play into the third quarter in the third preseason game. As a result, many rookies and backups won’t receive as many live-game reps again until the fourth preseason game after most 53-man roster decisions have already been made internally.

With veteran additions being made at wide receiver and tight end over the last week, fringe players at those positions find themselves in a precarious position trying to stand out despite the reality of there now being one or two fewer roster spots available to win.

“If you play well enough, you’re going to make it,” Harbaugh said. “And if you play well enough and you don’t make it here, you’ll make it somewhere else. It’s really more of a competition against yourself and how well you can play and how good you can get and then see what happens. That other stuff is pretty much out of their control, and I think they understand that.”

The Ravens and Falcons will meet in the preseason for the 10th time as Baltimore holds a 6-3 record. The two teams are tied 2-2 in the all-time regular-season series as Atlanta won the most recent meeting in 2010.

After last week’s 44-16 win over the Buccaneers, the Ravens are now 41-27 all-time in the preseason and 14-7 in the Harbaugh era. Baltimore has now won 13 of its last 17 preseason games and has produced seven wins in the last eight preseason contests played at M&T Bank Stadium.

Unofficial (and largely speculative) injury report

The Ravens are not required to release an injury report like they do for regular-season games, but I’ve offered my best guess on what the injury report would look like if one were to be released.

Most of the players ruled to be out will come as no surprise, but the status of a few will be in question. Cornerback Lardarius Webb is not expected to play as he continues to increase his level of activity in 11-on-11 sessions during practices. Pro Bowl guard Marshal Yanda just returned to the practice field on Monday on a limited basis but could take part in the third preseason game of the summer.

Newly-signed tight end Dallas Clark is not expected to play against the Falcons while veteran wide receiver Brandon Stokley could see some very limited action as each player tries to learn offensive coordinator Jim Caldwell’s system. Both are good bets to receive extensive action in next week’s nationally-televised game against the Panthers.

Again, this is not an official injury report released by the Ravens:

OUT: TE Ed Dickson (hamstring), WR Deonte Thompson (foot), G Marshal Yanda (shoulder), LB Jameel McClain (neck), OL Ryan Jensen (foot), DE Kapron Lewis-Moore (knee), TE Dennis Pitta (hip)
DOUBTFUL: DT Marcus Spears (hamstring), CB Lardarius Webb (knee), CB Chris Johnson (undisclosed)
QUESTIONABLE: OL Ramon Harewood (knee), LB Bryan Hall (hamstring), WR Marlon Brown (undisclosed)
PROBABLE: WR David Reed (groin), S James Ihedigbo (neck), CB Chykie Brown (undisclosed)

Five players to watch Thursday night

1. WR Tandon Doss

With Stokley still in the process of picking up the offensive system, Doss must show the coaching staff that he can be a viable option working out of the slot after a disappointing performance in the preseason opener. It’s largely been a quiet summer for the third-year receiver who has a reputation for good hands and running crisp routes in practice.

Next week, you would expect the Ravens to take long looks at both Stokley and Clark working the middle of the field in the passing game, meaning Doss has a critical opportunity against the Falcons to show he can be more than just an afterthought offensively. It’s time for Doss to show why the Ravens thought highly enough of him to draft him in the fourth round of the 2011 draft.

2. DT Terrence Cody

The fourth-year defensive lineman has been maligned for much of his run in Baltimore, but Cody has received positive reviews from the coaching staff this summer as he’s finally healthy after offseason hip and elbow surgeries. His roster standing appears to be safer now than it was at the start of camp, but he’s fighting for playing time in what’s shaping up to be a crowded defensive line rotation.

Cody may never live up to his original second-round billing, but the Ravens need a strong option to back up Haloti Ngata at nose tackle, which will allow defensive coordinator Dean Pees to be more creative in moving the Pro Bowl defensive tackle around when warranted. There’s no reason why Cody can’t feast against the Falcons’ second-team offense and further impress the coaching staff as he enters the final year of his rookie contract.

3. LB Courtney Upshaw

Many have been surprised to see Upshaw work so extensively with the starting defense — and ahead of pass-rush standout Elvis Dumervil — but all you have to do is focus on his ability against the run to see why the Ravens are high on him. He has shed the excess weight he was carrying in the spring and looks to be carving out his spot as the starting strongside outside linebacker who will play against offensively-balanced teams in early-down situations.

Upshaw’s ability against the run allows Pees to be more judicious in how he uses both Dumervil and starting rush linebacker Terrell Suggs, which will hopefully keep both veterans fresher over the course of games and the entire season. He doesn’t offer much as a pass rusher, but Upshaw will factor heavily in what the Ravens expect to be a stout run defense.

4. LB Arthur Brown

Brown’s athleticism and ability in pass coverage have been impressive, but he just doesn’t look the part of a three-down linebacker right now with his 235-pound frame, which is probably a generous listing. That said, Brown will serve an important role as a nickel linebacker spelling Josh Bynes in passing situations.

The second-round pick may not become a full-time starter until he can benefit from a full offseason to put on 10 pounds of muscle, but the Ravens struggled to cover tight ends over the short-to-intermediate middle portion of the field over the last few years and Brown can be a major boost in that department. Brown has a bright future, but he has a lot of work to do in order to close the gap between him and Bynes for the starting weakside inside linebacker spot next to veteran Daryl Smith.

5. TE Matt Furstenburg

Furstenburg is just one of several young players who are feeling the effects of the recent veteran signings as he now trails Ed Dickson, Visanthe Shiancoe, and Clark and is battling veteran Billy Bajema for the fourth spot on the depth chart. The Maryland product’s most realistic destination is the practice squad at this rate, but he will have an opportunity to distinguish himself Thursday like Doss and the other young wide receivers fighting for playing time and roster spots.

A factor that many will overlook in the tight end battle is blocking and neither Shiancoe nor Clark are particularly strong in that department. Of course, much will depend on the status of Dickson’s injured hamstring in a couple weeks, but there could be a potential spot available to Bajema or Furstenburg if their blocking ability proves to be a necessary asset.

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Top 10 Baseball Distractions

Posted on 13 August 2013 by Glenn Clark

Honorable Mention: Charm City Roller Girls (Saturday 5:30pm Du Burns Arena); WNBA: Washington Mystics @ Atlanta Dream (Sunday 3pm from Atlanta live on NBA TV); Boxing: Daniel Geale vs. Darren Barker (Saturday 9:45pm from Atlantic City live on HBO)

10. George Thorogood/Buddy Guy (Tuesday 8pm Pier Six Pavilion); Huey Lewis & The News (Tuesday 8pm Wolf Trap), Chicago (Monday 8pm Wolf Trap); Uproar Festival feat. Alice In Chains, Jane’s Addiction, New Politics, Coheed and Cambria, Middle Class Rut (Friday 2pm Jiffy Lube Live), Jimmy Buffett (Saturday 8pm Jiffy Lube Live); Ted Nugent (Friday 9pm Rams Head Live), En Vogue (Saturday 9pm Rams Head Live); Candlebox (Tuesday 7:30pm Baltimore Soundstage); Blues Traveler (Sunday 8pm Rams Head on Stage), Bret Michaels (Monday 8pm Rams Head on Stage); JD McPherson (Friday 7:30pm Birchmere), Edwin McCain Band (Saturday 7:30pm Birchmere); Great White (Friday 8pm House of Rock); Cherry Poppin’ Daddies (Saturday 8:30pm The Hamilton); Hot August Blues feat. Grace Potter and the Nocturnals/Galactic (Saturday 12pm Oregon Ridge Park)

Perhaps I’ll do a little drinking Tuesday night at the Thorogood show.

Obviously there’s no drinking allowed at a Jimmy Buffett show though. Obviously.

Judge all you want. Blues Traveler OWNS.

Last time Grace Potter was in town…she really killed it.

9. Feast of St. Gabriel Italian Festival (Saturday & Sunday Little Italy); Baltimore County Restaurant Week (Tuesday-Monday throughout Baltimore County); Paul Rodriguez (Thursday-Saturday DC Improv); Jobs“, “Kick-Ass 2” and “Paranoia” out in theaters (Friday); Olympus Has Fallen” available on Blu-Ray/DVD (Tuesday)

Just reading the words “feast” and “Italian” in the same sentence make something really weird happen in my pants…

I assume someone will be working on a replication of my fiancé’s buffalo chicken shells…

“I Wish It Was Christmas Today.”

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Morning Reaction Tuesday Top Seven- Mid-season MLB Rankings

Posted on 02 July 2013 by WNST Staff

Here’s Drew’s top seven in Major League Baseball

7) Atlanta Braves

6) Pittsburgh Pirates

5) Boston Red Sox

4) Baltimore Orioles

3) Texas Rangers

2) Detroit Tigers

1) St. Louis Cardinals

Here’s Ryan’s Top Seven

7) Detroit Tigers

 

6) Baltimore Orioles

5) Pittsburgh Pirates

4) Texas Rangers

3) Boston Red Sox

2) Cincinnati Reds

1) St. Louis Cardinals

 

 

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