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Much to the fans Delight…. Suggs will continue “sizzling” in Baltimore

Posted on 15 July 2009 by Marco Romanell

 

 WNST broke the news 9:30 this morning that Terrell Suggs signed a 6-year, $63 million deal with the Ravens. This deal came in the final few hours of negotiation before the Ravens would have been forced to pay Suggs over $10 million for the season as part of the Franchise tag. Suggs will now be able to play this season without any issue of contract talk on his mind. I believe he will have his best season as a Raven.

When the Ravens had the number 10 draft pick in 2003, I was shocked that Terrell Suggs was still on the board. Suggs, who was projected as a top 5 pick, slipped to the Ravens thanks to a slow 40 yard dash time in the NFL Combine. Ozzie Newsome and company once again capitalized on their amazing scouting and drafted Suggs 10th overall. Now 26, Suggs was the youngest player ever drafted until the Texans took Amobi Okoye two seasons ago. All he has done in his six years in the purple and black is record 368 tackles, 53 sacks (which ranks him sixth in the NFL since 2003), intercept five passes and get selected to three pro bowls. Is Terrell Suggs worth 63 million? Absolutely.

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Three years ago I would have thought this deal was crazy because Suggs was a one dimensional football player. Suggs has evolved into the complete linebacker, not only having the ability to rush the passer, but also being able to defend the run and pass. There are more than just statistics in determining a player’s worth to his franchise; and Suggs’ worth to the Ravens in 2009 is at an all time high.

To see how valuable Suggs is to the Ravens, fans need to look no further then his inspired performance in the playoffs last year where he played with a shoulder injury that basically limited him to using one arm. Suggs not only played the Steelers game with the injury, but he played effectively recording two sacks. Fans need to start viewing Suggs as a good overall linebacker and not just the pass rusher that he was in the beginning of his career.

Football is a business and most NFL teams make decisions that are the best economic decisions for their franchise. Terrell Suggs may have felt disrespected by having the franchise tag slapped on him two years in a row, but it was what was best for the team.

After last season the Ravens needed to negotiate contracts with Ray Lewis, Bart Scott and Terrell Suggs, but it was unlikely they would retain all of them. Despite Ray Lewis being my all time favorite football player, I considered it a priority for the Ravens to retain Suggs and would have been immensely disappointed if they didn’t resign him. Once again Ozzie Newsome stepped up to the plate and made a decision that will help the Ravens franchise for the future.

Terrell Suggs has emerged into one of the best linebackers in the NFL and now the highest paid. He will remain a Raven through his prime football years. The 2003 Ravens draft will go down in history as the draft that gave us the enigma that was Kyle Boller; it also gave us what will eventually be one of the greatest Ravens to ever play the game in Terrell Suggs.

Once again Ozzie Newsome was smarter then everyone when he selected the 20 year old “tweener” from Arizona St. who was viewed as too slow.

All that Suggs has done since is s work hard to become one of the best Linebackers in the NFL.

I look forward to watching T-Sizzle for the next six seasons. I have no doubt he will have one of the best seasons of his career this year. I am sure “Number 55” will dazzle us with some amazing performances, continue to represent the City of Baltimore and the Ravens Organization with honor.

 Hopefully, he ends his career with us and we can see “Number 55” in our Ring of Honor.

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Complete recap of the Terrell Suggs/John Harbaugh Press Conference

Posted on 15 July 2009 by Luke Jones

Terrell Suggs downplayed the importance of signing one of the richest contracts in NFL history, but there was no mistaking how seriously the Ravens wanted to keep the Pro Bowl linebacker in Baltimore.

Facing a 4 p.m. deadline, Suggs and the Ravens agreed to a six-year, $63 million contract Wednesday morning, eliminating the possibility of Suggs playing under the franchise tag for a second straight season.  The 26-year-old linebacker is relieved to continue his career in Baltimore.

I consider myself a player of the fans,” Suggs said.  “I play for them.  I love the cheers that I get when I’m running out of the tunnel, and I’m just glad that we finally got back to football, and that they wanted me [in Baltimore] and I wanted to be there.  Ozzie [Newsome] and everybody, we all wanted the same thing, and we just had to agree on the little stuff.  Both sides compromised a lot, and now we came to an agreement”

The deal includes $33.1 million in bonus money, second only to Peyton Manning’s bonus from a deal signed in 2004.  Suggs now becomes the highest-paid linebacker in the history of the NFL, though he was quick to downplay the significance of that moniker.

That was never a focal point,” he said. “That was never brought up once in the negotiation.  I never wanted to be the highest-paid anything. I’m not that guy.  I don’t care what the next man is getting.  I just wanted it to be fair. This is a business, and everything is structured and branded a certain way.”

Suggs will now report to camp on time after missing nearly the entire preseason last year after being designated the franchise player. The Ravens will now have all four starting linebackers present for the start of training camp in less than two weeks.

Coupled with the loss of Bart Scott to the New York Jets, the absence of Suggs may have slowed the transition from Rex Ryan’s scheme to new defensive coordinator Greg Mattison, though the system is expected to undergo only minor changes.

Suggs has been in contact with Mattison during the offseason to keep up with the mental side of the defense.

“We’re looking forward to seeing all four linebackers out there together now for the first time in any offseason program since we’ve been here,” Harbaugh said.  “There’s nothing like getting those guys out there together and practicing together and competing together.  Plus, the other thing I’m excited about is his personality being out there from early on in training camp.  He’s a guy that perks up the whole practice field, so it will be fun to have him out there.”

Suggs is happy to be reporting to training camp on time, but he downplayed the significance of missing training camp, citing his play last season that earned him a trip to his third Pro Bowl.

His 53 career sacks are the second-highest total in Ravens history, behind only Peter Boulware’s 70.

“The only thing about training camp is it brings you back closer with your teammates,” Suggs said.  “You all get close again; you all become a team.  You all go in there and run.  Last year I missed that, and it didn’t hurt me too bad—I don’t think—but it’s going to be good to finally get back in training camp in the hot summer days with all the fans looking.  It’s going to be interesting.”

Suggs’ new contract trumps the record-setting deal signed by his teammate and mentor Ray Lewis in 2002.  Lewis’ deal included a $19 million signing bonus.  Suggs emphasized his vast respect for Lewis and insisted the 34-year-old is still the heart and soul of the defense.

“Ray [Lewis] is hands down a Hall of Famer, and you know he’s probably the greatest ever to play the position,” Suggs said.  “Like I said, that [record bonus] happened merely on accident. I’m not sure if I’m a Hall of Famer yet, but I’m sure going to play to try to achieve that status. But until then, Ray is arguably the greatest linebacker ever to play the game.”

– Mason update

The news of Derrick Mason’s retirement was a popular topic during Wednesday’s conference call.

Harbaugh is currently on vacation but has informally communicated through text messages with the veteran wide receiver.  He plans to talk at greater length with Mason next week.

“It’ll be interesting to see where he’s at with everything,” Harbaugh said.  “I know he’s gone through a lot in the last couple weeks with [Steve McNair’s death] and those kinds of things. But I’m looking forward to talking to him.”

Suggs expressed hope that Mason would come back this season but respected the possibility that he’s done with football.

“At 35 years old you really start to put things into perspective,” Suggs said.  “Either way [he decides], I love ‘Mase.’ He’s a great teammate.  You can’t say that about a lot of guys.  He’s not selfish, not even in the least, and he’ll always look out for you.  A guy like that is always great to have in the locker room.”

Mason is well respected among teammates and team officials for his professionalism and work ethic since coming to Baltimore in 2005.  His absence would leave Mark Clayton and Demetrius Williams as the team’s current starting receivers.

“Derrick Mason is the kind of guy that if he is going to be on board, he’s going to be on board 100-percent-plus,” Harbaugh said.  “He’s going to be doing all the things that great players do, because you don’t become a great player—and I think one of the premiere receivers in the game by far—without being committed to excellence.”

If Mason decides to go through with his retirement, the options on the free agent market are limited, though Harbaugh said the team would explore other options in addition to the players currently on the roster.

“You can only do so much,” Harbaugh said.  “There are only so many guys out there available, and a lot of what we do is developing the players that we have.  We think we have good players here, too.”

*****

Here is the transcript from the live blog I wrote during the conference call:

2:31 – The conference call for Terrell Suggs and John Harbaugh has now concluded. Check back later for a full recap including more direct quotes from Suggs and Harbaugh.

2:28 – Harbaugh is very excited to get going at training camp and thinks the Ravens have a great football team ready to go this season.

2:27 – Harbaugh says the Ravens will look to improve the wide receiver situation, but he’s confident with the group of players they currently have. He mentioned there’s only so much you can do at this point.

He downplayed the reports of Mason practicing at the facility on Monday before the retirement announcement came. He reiterated how dedicated Mason has been throughout his time with the Ravens.

“If he is going to be on board, he is going to be on board 100 percent plus…Getting mentally ready is part of that…If he decides to come back, he will be completely ready to go.”

2:24 – Regarding Derrick Mason, Harbaugh has had informal communication with Mason and plans to meet with him sometime next week.  He says Mason’s obviously had a lot on his mind in regards to the death of Steve McNair.

2:22 – Harbaugh says Suggs wants to work on football and understands the importance of being with Mattison and his teammates for the entire duration of training camp.

The coach is excited about the type of player that Suggs will be over the next six years. He thinks Mattison will help Suggs take his play to “another level.” Harbaugh also mentioned how Suggs is an underrated run-stopper.

2:21 – Harbaugh cited how great of a guy Suggs is. His dedication and attention to detail is right there with Ray Lewis and Ed Reed. He’s a great player.

2:20 – John Harbaugh is now joining the conference call.

Talking about the success of keeping new players:
“It goes back to Ozzie [Newsome], and of course, Steve [Bisciotti] and Dick [Cass]. It’s just a tremendous organization. Players want to be here.”

He also discussed how many players who have been disappointed to leave because of the financial side of the game.

“You can’t just sign them all. When you draft the way Ozzie drafts, you’re going to lose some guys over time…You can sign one guy, but maybe the next guy you can’t sign.”

2:18 – Suggs has finished up, and we now await John Harbaugh to join us to talk about the new contract for his star linebacker.

2:17 – When asked about the details that needed to be worked out in order to reach an agreement, he didn’t really want to get into specifics. He’s just relieved to have it finished.

He talked about the young Ravens fans that might ask why he wasn’t practicing at training camp. Now, that’s not an issue.

2:16 – Suggs is downplaying the importance of being at training camp from the very beginning, citing his strong play last season.

He’s relieved to finally have the contract resolved after two years. The business side of football is difficult.

2:14 – In regards to Derrick Mason, Suggs was very complimentary and was “shocked” at his retirement. He would love to play with him for another year, but he understands with Mason being 35-years old.

He isn’t sure whether Mason will decide to return. He respects the fact that Mason may not have the passion to play anymore.

2:12 – I asked Suggs on his thoughts about being the highest-paid linebacker in NFL history and playing with Ray Lewis:

“Ray is hands down a Hall of Famer, and he’s probably the greatest to ever play the position. The fact that I’m the highest paid linebacker is really by accident.”

2:10 – Suggs credits the Ravens for going the extra mile to get a long-term deal done, considering the salary cap.

He says his role won’t change. He’ll lead on the field, as always.

On the contract:
“I’m going to continue to be the dominant player I’ve always been…I’m looking forward to showing them that they didn’t make a mistake, and they got the right guy.”

2:08 – Suggs is talking about the process last year and the dispute over whether he was a defensive end or a linebacker. He considered himself a defensive end and had bulked up because of that.

Suggs admitted to having his doubts about reaching a long-term deal.

“We were all on the phone all-day yesterday…It was little minor things here and there. Would we really let something minor stop me from signing a long-term deal?”

2:06 – Talking about Bart Scott: “It was going to be hard to bring all three [linebackers] back.”

Suggs believes Scott would have stayed if the money had been there and believes he’s lucky to be in New York with Rex Ryan. He considers it a win-win situation for Scott.

2:05 – Suggs says being the highest-paid defensive player was never a focal point. He just wanted it to be “fair.” The reason the numbers were so high is because of him being consider a hybrid defensive end-linebacker.

He considers being the second-highest paid (in terms of bonus money) as just a coincidence. He felt it was what he had earned.

2:02 – Suggs: “I’m always trying to do better. I’m just happy it got done…I consider myself a player for the fans. I play for them. I’m just glad that we finally got back to football.”

“Both sides compromised a lot. We came to a great agreement. Now, we can get back to football.”

1:55 – We’re just a few minutes away from hearing from Terrell Suggs. John Harbaugh will answer questions right after the star linebacker.

1:45 – Having lost Bart Scott to the New York Jets, Harbaugh and new defensive coordinator Greg Mattison have to feel good knowing they’ll have their entire starting linebacking unit present at the beginning of training camp in Westminster.

Suggs’ presence will certainly ease the transition from Rex Ryan to Mattison and allow the Ravens to get an authentic look at how Tavares Gooden—or Jameel McClain—fits into the entire defensive scheme during the preseason.

1:26 – Ozzie Newsome will not be present for the press conference, but he offered his thoughts earlier on reaching a long-term agreement with the Ravens linebacker.

“Getting a deal done with Terrell is consistent with our history of retaining our best Pro Bowl players, like Ray Lewis, Ed Reed, Jonathan Ogden, Todd Heap, and Jamal Lewis. Securing Terrell for six seasons gives us a premier pass-rusher whose ability to stop the run does not get enough credit.

“This is a good day for the Ravens franchise.”

1:18 – You’ve heard the news by now that Terrell Suggs has signed a six-year, $63 million contract, avoiding playing under the franchise tag for a second straight season.

The deal includes $33.1 million in bonuses, making it the second-highest amount in NFL history—behind only Peyton Manning. The long-term deal now places Suggs as the highest-paid linebacker in the NFL.

We’ll hear from Terrell Suggs in about 40 minutes with coach John Harbaugh to follow.

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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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Draft Grade For The Ravens

Posted on 28 April 2009 by Neal Bortmes

Immediately following the draft I thought the Ravens did a poor job, and I was very upset with their effort for several reasons.  First I thought that Ozzie was swindled out of a fifth round pick when he traded up three spots to draft Michael Oher.  He gave up a 5th round pick to move up from 26 to 23 when the Eagles only gave up a 6th round pick to move up from 21 to 19.  The Eagles selected Jeremy Maclin, who could be a steal considering his appearance among the top 10 in most mock drafts.  According to the NFL draft pick value chart Ozzie gave up 700 pts. (pick 26) and 27.6 pts. (pick 162) for 760 pts. (pick 23) for a total gain of 32.4 pts.  While Tom Heckert the Eagles’ GM gained a total of 60.6 pts. when he traded the 21st pick (800 pts.) and 195th pick (14.4 pts.) to get the 19th pick (875 pts.).  This obvious discrepancy had me miffed for a while.  I also had wanted them to trade down to the second round to get more picks a la the Patriots (who I thought had one of the best drafts) because the best value was clearly in the top half of that round. 

 

 In the second round the Ravens selected Paul Kruger DE out of Utah.  I think he is an undersized DE for the NFL (6’4” 263 lbs.) and it appears as if he is a project due to his lack of elite speed (5 sec. 40) and elite strength (24 reps at 225).  His selection was a surprise to me considering he is going to be a 23 year old rookie with only two years of college experience (in the Mountain West).  Kruger has some character concerns having been severely stabbed at a house party last year, one to which the cops were called for other infractions only to find out about the stabbing after they arrived.  Kruger also has only one kidney having lost his due to a car accident as a child which could present significant health concerns in the future.  I thought the Ravens should have traded down to acquire more picks or possibly selected Jarron Gilbert who at 6’5” and 288 lbs. is bigger, stronger, and faster than Kruger although he is a project as well coming out of a weak football conference (WAC) too.

 

 The Ravens’ 3rd round selection had me puzzled to say the least.  Lardarius Webb is from a non-FBS school in Nicholls State and he is considered a tweener, which means that the Ravens have to basically create a position for him as he lacks the ideal size-speed ratio to play corner or safety in the NFL.  He too has character concerns which caused him to be dismissed from Southern Miss.  One would have thought the Ravens learned their lesson on lightly regarded defensive back prospects from small schools with the recent failure of David Pittman whom they selected in the third round of the 2006 draft.  My first thought was that the brain trust is more eager to prove they can successfully draft a small school DB than to make a sound third round choice.  Typically the Ravens do extremely well in the first round and later rounds (4-7), but they more often than not select busts in the second and third rounds.  D.J. Moore was still available and had a better grade according to the experts on ESPN and the NFL network as well as more production at a higher level in college.

 

 I was also surprised that the Ravens did not select a kicker in the draft considering they let Matt Stover go in the off-season.  The selection of Davon Drew was the most perplexing potential blunder because James Casey and Cornelius Ingram, players with superior measureables and production, were still on the board.  For all of these reasons I would have given the Ravens a C on Sunday night, but after a day or so I have tried to reexamine the Ravens’ effort. 

 

 Upon further review I think the Ravens did an adequate job.  Their best decision by far was to trade up to select Michael Oher, although I still think they gave up too much when compared to the Eagles deal; however New England is a shrewder trading partner than the new Browns’ front office (Mankok) so one may have to expect they would ask more in a trade.  Oher has the potential to be a rock at right tackle for years, and if he pans out he will solidify a very young and talented offensive line for the foreseeable future.  He was rated higher than 23rd on many teams’ draft boards and I saw him in the top ten in several mock drafts so they got tremendous value with his selection.

 

Kruger is still a toss-up to me but when I listened to Eric DeCosta described him on the Comcast Morning Show with Drew Forrester I had a better feeling about him.  I suppose he is a high motor guy in the mold of Michael McCrary but he still needs to gain size to be effective on the end.  His age and injury history are also concerns.  The Ravens should have moved back from the second round at that point to grab a different pass rusher such as Gilbert, Michael Johnson, or Lawrence Sidbury.  http://www.ksl.com/?nid=635&sid=6285559&autostart=y  I am still not impressed with Webb having further investigated him although Mel Kiper likened him to Bob Sanders.  If he can play as effectively as Sanders then he would be a steal but I think the David Pittman scenario is more likely.  The selection of Davon Drew still has me scratching my head in light of the talent still on the board.  Eric DeCosta mentioned in his interview that several players did not pass the Ravens’ physical so I can only hope he was explaining the reason for not taking Casey or Ingram.  If nothing else the Ravens added to their depth at DB, rush linebacker/DE, and TE.  Davon Drew could provide insurance if Quinn Sypniewski cannot recover properly from his season ending injury of last year.  http://beta.sling.com/video/show/136305/12/Draft-Prospect:-TE–Davon-Drew  Jason Phillips was a very good value pick in the fifth round as he was extremely productive for a very good defensive football team.  He should help fill the void left by the departure of Bart Scott, although he is probably a rotational player at best.  Phillips is recovering from a meniscus tear he suffered at the combine.   

 

 

 

I really think the steal of the Ravens’ draft has to be Cedric Peerman.  Peerman had a very good season for a terrible Virginia team last year, he is also said to be one of Al Groh’s favorite players and a high character guy.  He has some injury concerns but is a tough runner who had the fastest 40 time at the combine of any RB.  I think even with the Ravens’ depth at RB he will make the team.  The Ravens’ draft has been made stronger by their additions of rookie free agents. http://video.yahoo.com/watch/4853302/12935650

 

 

 

 

Their signing of Eron Riley is particularly intriguing because he has very similar measurables to Heyward-Bey, as he is taller (6’3” compared to 6’1 5/8”) and almost as fast with a 4.3 second 40 time.  Riley does need to add bulk and gain strength, but he also had more receptions (61 to 42) and TD’s (8 to 5) than Heyward-Bey last year on an arguably worse football team in the same conference.  The second excellent pick-up was obviously Graham Gano as the reining Lou Groza award winner he lead the nation in field goals per game (2.18) as well as leading all kickers in points per game (9.5), and his 5 made field goals from beyond 50 yards were the most last year.  He will compete with Steve Hauschka to be the starting kicker; however he could also serve as a backup punter having also punted for Florida State last year.  He is believed to be the only punter ever to be named the MVP of a bowl game when he was named the Most Valuable Player in the Champs Sports Bowl.  http://rivals.yahoo.com/video/recruiting-football/Graham-Gano-Cantonment-28523  http://video.yahoo.com/watch/4853301/12935654  

 

 

The Ravens were able to address their needs for a place kicker and a speedy wideout through free agency so in retrospect I think the Ravens earned a solid B from me.  They traded up to get Michael Oher which was a fantastic move and they were still able to recoup another pick.  I know that the Ravens’ front office has far more experience scouting and selecting players than I do but if you are still reading this blog than you care about my opinion as well, plus the draft is so much fun because of the debate it creates.  As always only time will tell how the Ravens fared in this year’s draft.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Friday Morning's Crab Cakes and Light Beer

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Friday Morning’s Crab Cakes and Light Beer

Posted on 06 March 2009 by Chris Bonetti

The Swinging Bunt

Baltimore v. Disney?  Great read here, folks.  This season the O’s will be giving away free game tickets during the month of their birthday at OPACY for anyone who registers their special date with the team.  This happens to be an old famous Disney trick to keep the turnstiles spinning.  Now, Sports By Brooks takes a fascinating look at where would you rather go for your free birthday vacation, Baltimore or Disney?  I don’t know about you, but I’d definitely take one of those ‘failed Oriole starters’ home with me as a birthday gift, having a real big-league pitcher to hang out with, that’d be pretty cool.  I’m clearly verrrry liberal on what I consider a “real big-league pitcher.”

Stealing from a Ripken?  The man who gave us the best baseball card in the history of ever is now out $400 in cash and a credit card.  Yesterday during the USA WBC Team’s game, U.S. Coaches, Billy Ripken and Mel Stottlemyre were both victims of having their wallets stolen right from out of the clubhouse lockers.  Clearly, whoever committed the heist is not from the greater Baltimore, Maryland area… because everyone here knows… you don’t mess with the Ripkens!

Those damn Yankees!  Jeez man, they’re at it again!  The New York Yankees are always looking for that competitive advantage, and this time they’ve really gone overboard.  Courtesy ESPN, all day yesterday they ran the headline on their main news feed of the world wide leaders’ website, “Yanks closer Rivera throws off mound.”  Wow, really Earth shattering news there.  Yanks spend $200M!  A-Rod’s juicing!  Mariano’s throwing from an elevated mound to hitters!  Nooo Waaay!

Scanning the Blogosphere

Pro Football 24×7:  “Ozzie Newsome not yet finished with Free Agency.”

Camden Chat has set up a historical MLB 2K9 Tournament featuring 16 different squads to determine the best team in Baltimore’s baseball history.  They will simulate the bracket through 7 games series’ on the video game and come up with a winner.  Check it it very informative and interesting… the #1 seed is ‘The Dukes of Earl’ the 1970, 108 win, World Series Champions.

Baltimore Sports Report takes a look back 12 years to 1997, the last year the Orioles had a winning season.  It was so long ago, Seinfeld was still #1 on the tube, everyone and their mother was going to see Titanic, and 95% of Americans still don’t not own a PC.

Tirico Suave has a timeline of the long going negotiations between Ned Colletti and Manny Ramirez in photos and also a couple videos of what the Ravens and Baltimore fans will miss with Bart Scott now a former member of the Purple and Black.

Birds Watcher lists their Top-10 Hitters and Top-10 Pitchers in the farm system.  You may have guessed Matt Wieters heads the hitters’ list, while Chris Tillman is the #1 rated pitching prospect.

Around the Harbor has their “First Thoughts on spring Training.”

Dempsey’s Army says at least the O’s will be better than the Blue Jays and gives their reasons why.

CMS Video of the Morning

You may or may not have heard by now, but the other night at Comcast Center, perhaps the best prank ever went down

If it’s not the best, this one might be

The wild thing is that those are the same dudes, two Collegehumor.com employees, one getting after the other.  The guy who got pranked at Yankee Stadium organized the prank in College Park.  And the other guy vise versa.  Hilarious.

The Morning’s Final Thought

Which T-Shirt would you rather have?

The Original Fab 4:

Or… the future of Oriole Baseball, the new Fab 4:

Easy choice.

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Tuesday Morning's Crab Cakes and Light Beer

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Tuesday Morning’s Crab Cakes and Light Beer

Posted on 03 March 2009 by Chris Bonetti

The Swinging Bunt

Cover Curse?  Everyone has heard about the dreaded magazine or video game cover jinx.  Whether its Sports Illustrated or Madden, if your mug is up on their, watch-out!  One would certainly think that no publication would want this bad rep… so what are they to do?  Multiple covers, of course.  MLB ’09 has done just that, and has issued custom covers for all Major League Clubs for their fans to enjoy.  Newly re-signed second basemen Brian Roberts appears on the Orioles’ cover with beautiful Oriole Park at Camden Yards in the background… let’s all pray he doesn’t have a bad year!

Baez is a criminal!  Blogs by Fans, Spring Training ’09 lists what they believe are the 40 worst contracts signed by active players in Major League Baseball.  The Orioles are only responsible for signing one of these said deals.  In 2006, ’09 roster hopeful Danys Baez, inked a three season $19M contract, which the O’s are $6.33M on the hook for this year.  This one-time Cuban defector should be deported for stealing, seriously.  Newly signed starter Adam Eaton makes the list also, but the three year $24.51M deal he got in ’06 is being paid for mostly by the Philadelphia Phillies.  If those O’s were defending world champions they wouldn’t need their horrible decision trying out for their rotation either.

Oh, those sad, sad Nats.  O’s fans… at least you’re not Nats’ fans.  This has been a very difficult week for the Washington Nationals organization, maybe their most trying since moving from their club from our neighbors to the north to our nation’s capital.  While the team remains in Spring Training preparing for the season, it’s been off-field issues that have gotten negative national attention from poor decisions the front office has made.  These choices have led to a tremendously disappointed fan-base, and under great scrutiny GM Jim Bowden resigned yesterday.  The worst of their moves?  … some say its the scamming of Latin ball-players… I’ll mention the questionable move to have this thing is their mascot.  What is that?

Scanning the Blogosphere

SI.com Photos sections has the top 8 college basketball games to end the regular season in pictures.  #7 features tonight’s game at Comcast Center, Wake Forest-Maryland.  The photo for the game is Greivis driving right for a lay-up earlier this season against Miami.

Pro Football Talks has new St. Louis Ram and ex-Raven, Jason Brown’s ‘not exactly complementary’ comments on former teammate Kyle Boller.  I’m sure being called “gun shy” is exactly what Boller needs when he himself is looking for a contract as a free agent, as well.

The Sporting Muse lists the most intimidating players in all of sports history by each sport.  Two players who have played (or maybe still do) in Baltimore make the cut.  Ray Lewis was recognized in the NFL, the other may surprise you… former Oriole flop Albert Belle made baseball’s list.

Pro Football 24×7 explain that “Bart Scott’s agent dupes Jets GM.” Ozzie doesn’t get duped by anyone!

Scout.com says in their latest 2 round mock draft says the Ravens will take USC OLB Clay Matthews and Jairus Byrd,  a corner from Oregon.

Blogs by Fans, Spring Training ’09 previews the O’s projected Opening Day roster and gives insight into the team’s key roster battles.

Busted Coverage:  The latest from our favorite dumb ass liquored up kicker, Steeler Jeff Reed… it includes puking and signing women’s private areas.  Shocker.

CMS Video of the Morning

The newly launched MLB Network is looking at every team in their “30 Teams in 30 Days” season preview.  Here’s a link to the Baltimore Orioles edition, which aired February 27th.

Also, as the Loyola beat-writer here at this fine station, I would be remiss not to alert everyone to the fact that I have posted the video I shot from Rider’s buzzer-beating victory over the ‘Hounds last week on Senior Night at Reitz Arena. Painful for any fan of the Green and Grey.

The Morning’s Final Thought

The Baltimore Orioles as an organization have their problems.  Breaking news for every, I know.  Everyone knows they take a lot of grief, and overwhelmingly deserved at times, from fans, and media alike… heck, I’d say if you’re listener to WNST, you’ve heard all about it.

In order to regain the trust of the town, the baseball team needs to really make a concerted effort to reach out to rebuild burned bridges.  Being present doing good things in the community is probably the quickest way back to good graces, but lowering ticket prices is a nice start as well.

Here’s the latest updates on the Orioles’ 2009 Birdland Stimulus Package.

It’s really important for the club to focus on fans that are my age and lower.  I’m 23 and personally, with the exception of a few occasions, during my 5 years in Baltimore… I’ve only been to ball games on Tuesday and Friday nights because of those ‘special’ nights.

It’s a Charles Street length road to travel to get the whole way back to being the biggest game in town… but at least they’re maybe getting past the crawling stage.

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Grade the Ravens on free agency so far

Posted on 28 February 2009 by caseywillett

Although it has been only been a little over a day and a half since the beginning of free agency, what grade would you give the Ravens so far.

Here are the only things that we know for sure :

Additions:

Domonique Foxworth

Subtractions:

Jason Brown to Rams

Bart Scott to Jets

 

What grade do you give them at this point?

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Ray Made His Bed — Now He Has To Sleep In It

Posted on 27 February 2009 by Alex Thomas

Nestor brought up a really good point early this afternoon on his show Limited Access sponsored by Royal Farms.

I had been wondering about this all day, and hadn’t had the chance to blog about it until now – Ray Lewis is not garnering the attention he thought he would from potential suitors in the NFL.

Bart Scott has an offer from the Jets, and is in the process of allowing Ozzie Newsome to match the offer. (By the way, good for him…maybe Ray should take a lesson from Bart on how to properly do business in the NFL.)

The Redskins have made Albert Haynesworth a very rich man.

Jason Brown is on a plane to St. Louis.

Domonique Foxworth is signed with the Ravens, which I am very excited about. I think he’s an upgrade over Corey Ivy, and he has a great reputation as a community leader and a positive influence in the NFL.

Fred Taylor is the newest member of the New England Patriots.

Corey Ivy is sitting down with Rex Ryan and Jets brass later today.

Sage Rosenfels has inked a two year deal with the Vikings.

And where’s Ray Lewis? He’s not on a plane. He’s not in an owner’s office. He’s not on the phone with NFL GMs.

He’s sitting at home waiting like the rest of us.

Obviously, there is not a dire need in the league for Ray Lewis’ services, and he obviously thinks much more of himself than other teams do.

And it’s not like teams don’t have money to spend. Tampa Bay just cleared tons of room under the salary cap. The Dolphins also have money to spend.

The Jets used to have money to spend until they jumped on the Bart Scott bandwagon, effectively leaving Ray Lewis out in the cold. In reality, the Jets cannot afford to sign both Scott and Lewis, and the Jets were probably the most logical fit for Ray Lewis considering the ties with Rex Ryan and the need for linebacker help.

I am a huge Ray Lewis fan, and I still hope that he winds up in purple next year, but he has handled the free agency situation all wrong. From start to finish, he has botched every opportunity possible to not only appease his fans in Baltimore, but to do what’s economically right for him.

Now that he’s made his bed, he’ll have to sleep in it. He may leave here with a tarnished reputation because of the crap he’s pulled via the Jamie Dukes interview and the Demarcus Ware story.

And what’s worse, one of Ray’s cronies told Adam Schefter that he no longer wants to play in Baltimore because he is insulted beyond repair. He thinks the Ravens have continually low-balled him, when on the contrary, he’s proverbially ball-tapping himself.

This not only upsets Ravens fans, but it’s detrimental to Ray’s wallet. Other teams are not going to like the way this is all unfolding, and all teams except for the Cowboys tend to shy away from these three-ring circus acts. In case you haven’t heard, Jerry Jones has repeatedly told the media that he is not going to sign big name free agents this off-season.

In my mind, I think he’ll end up coming back to Baltimore for less money than he could have collected in the first place. And he has nobody to blame but himself.

He has left $17 million in guaranteed money on the table in Baltimore, an offer that is very fair for a 34 year old linebacker, and he may never see that dollar amount again.

I think he’ll test the market and find out that teams like the Dolphins are willing to give him something like $12-13 million guaranteed. He’ll come crawling back to Ozzie Newsome and ask for the original offer after struggling to remove his foot from his mouth.

The only problem is, the Ravens won’t offer him that much money after they see his true market value. And truth be told, they probably won’t even be able to afford the original offer anymore. The Ravens will be in the hunt for a strong wide receiver this off-season, and good wide outs don’t come cheap.

As much as I love Ray, I really wish he would have handled this situation better. It would have been better for him, the Baltimore Ravens, and the fans to go to every media outlet and sing the praises of John Harbaugh and Steve Bisciotti. You know, say something like: “I’d love to be a Raven, why would I want to go anywhere else?”

If anything, saying something like that would put all the pressure on the Ravens to re-sign the future Hall of Famer. Instead, Ray has royally ticked off a lot of Baltimoreans, a group of people who by-and-large have had his back throughout all of his off-the-field struggles.

It’s too bad, really. For as intelligent of a football player as Ray Lewis is, he has demonstrated time and time again that he’s not too bright when it comes to business savvy and public relations, and he may seriously regret some of these decisions when it comes time to sign a contract this spring.

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Friday Morning's Crab Cakes and Light Beer

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Friday Morning’s Crab Cakes and Light Beer

Posted on 27 February 2009 by Chris Bonetti

The Swinging Bunt

LaRussa wants O’s pitchers?  Tony LaRussa, the manager of the St. Louis Cardinals, joking quipped yesterday that if Dave Trembley can’t find use for all 37 pitchers in Baltimore camp to send some over to him at Cards camp.  In 1989, George Will called LaRussa a ‘genius’ in “Men at Work” and then in ’05, Buzz Bissinger said so too, in “3 Nights in August.”  If LaRussa were to actually ever see these pitchers who don’t make the opening day roster in Baltimore and still wanted them… I, Chris Bonetti, in ’09 is saying Tony Larussa is not a genius.

More on Jeff Reed, stupid Steelers kicker.  I realize nobody really needs even more evidence that the Steelers and their fans are morons, yet still I give you more.   You all remember the original story –   Drunken kicker, Sheetz bathroom, towel dispense.  Yeah. The latest is that earlier that evening Reed was at a scheduled appearance, where Steeler fans paid an $8 cover to be at a bar with the kicker.  Reports now are that Reed showed up to the event already drunk.  The part about Pittsburgh fans paying $8 just to be around this nitwit is shocking… in a literal sense.  The fact that Reed was already hammered is also shocking… but in a sarcastic way.

Babes writing books about baseball?  Baseball books are big money… Tom Verducci, Jose Canseco, Kirk Radomski, and Selena Roberts’ book about A-Rod is shall I say, ‘highly’ anticipated.  It’s simple, if you have an inside scoop you can make the New York times Bestsellers List.  The next great baseball book is now on the horizon… ladies and gents, Alyssa Milano is authoring a piece with Joe Torre, “Safe at Home, Confessions of a Baseball Fanatic.”  Oh goody, I can’t wait!

Scanning the Blogosphere

Ravens Insider has their latest notes on Ravens free agents: Ray Lewis, Bart Scott, and Jason Brown.

O’s on Deck has some quick hitters from the Orioles win over the Cardinals, including thumbs up for Justin Christian, Scott Moore, and Nolan Reimold, in Grapefruit League action yesterday.

Dempsey’s Army has their ‘five things’ to watch for in their spring training outlook.

Face Off has three things to watch in both games of the Face-Off Classic at M&T Bank Stadium tomorrow.

Recruiting Report has all you need to know about Baltimore Freedom Academy sophomore Kevin Smith, “Baltimore’s next great point guard.”

CMS Video of the Day

B-More Bird’s Nest might have nailed it right on the head, “The Ravens should draft Dave Neal.”

The Morning’s Final Thought

A job well done goes to Busted Coverage and their latest edition of “The Hottest girls on the BCS.”  Today the site that has been ‘Wasting your time since 2007’ takes a look at the ACC.

The Terps come in with a very respectable ranking at #7.  Florida State tops the list, which isn’t surprising, nor are Boston College and Duke finishing at the bottom.  I’m pretty partial towards this pretty co-ed from Clemson.

This is definitely a link you should check out at somepoint over the weekend.  Check you on Monday…

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(Updated 3:05 p.m.) CB Domonique Foxworth signs with the Ravens, Scott close with Jets, Ray Lewis is miffed

Posted on 27 February 2009 by caseywillett

3:06 p.m. – Domonique Foxworth is officially now a member of the Baltimore Ravens. Foxworth was very funny and entertaining during his press conference. You can listen to the entire press conference in the audio vault and also check out Foxworth as he joined Nasty Nestor right after his press conference.

1:00 p.m. – The Ravens will hold a 2:30 press conference to announce the signing of a free agent. In the press release, the player is not named but Domonique Foxworth is the guy. Early reports are that he has signed a four year deal with the team.

In other Ravens news, Marques Douglas has been released by the Ravens after he returned to the team this season. Jason Brown is in St. Louis still this afternoon visiting with the Rams.

11:00 a.m. – Tim Graham’s blog on ESPN.com says that Bart Scott is leaving his comfort zone in Baltimore, but maybe finding a new one in New York with the Jets. Harold Lewis who represents Scott ,says that is not about the most money for Bart.

9:45 a.m. – Adam Schefter of NFL.com has updated a blog on the situation involving Ray Lewis and the Ravens. Here is the blog from Schefter who spoke with a source close to Ray who expressed his own opinion on the Ravens-Lewis situation.

9:20 – Dominique Foxworth is believed to be in Baltimore meeting with the Ravens today. It is also believed that he is seeking around five million dollars a year.

9:08 – Although reports are out now that Bart Scott and the Jets have done a deal. That is not true at this hour. Scott is visiting the Jets today, but has not signed a deal yet.

8:53 a.m. -Our friends at NationalFootballPost.com are reporting that Bart Scott has agreed to a contract with the Jets.

8;45 a.m. Adam Schefter of the NFL Network is reporting this morning that Dominique Foxworth will visit the Ravens today and could sign with the team today.

7:12 a.m. – Bart Scott will not be going to St. Louis today. Instead, he is headed to New York to visit with the Jets and is expected to get an offer from them today.

6:45 a.m. – The latest is still the same from earlier this morning on the Jason Brown and Bart Scott front as they are both going to visit with the Rams today. Another Raven taking some phone calls last night and a couple this morning is Dan Wilcox, who has drawn some interest from a couple teams.

12:45 – New report is that both Bart Scott and Jason Brown will be visiting with the St Louis Rams tomorrow according to Alex Marvez of FoxSports.com.

12:40 – The Jason Brown world tour looks like it will be making a visit to the Midwest first possibly as early as tomorrow, as was told to me this morning by a league source. The likely team is expected to be the Rams. This goes along with a report from earlier in the day that there was a new team interested in Jason Brown’s services coming from NationalFootballPost.com

Here are some news on the Ravens as free agency begins:

– Ray Lewis will begin to look for a home starting tonight. There are reports of a deal being on the table here in Baltimore that the Ravens and Lewis and his people talked about late into the evening.

– Bart Scott is the most intriguiing of the free agents for the Ravens. Reports have surfaced that a deal with the Ravens could be announced in the morning. There are also reports that he might be headed out on visits starting in the morning. My guess is that Scott stays in Baltimore and becomes the middle linebacker.

– Kyle Boller has been labeled as a target by the Dallas Cowboys as a backup to Tony Romo.

-Several teams have expressed in bringing in Jason Brown. The reports that the Redskins were the front runners, might have died down late into the evening. The Rams, Vikings, and Bills, are still believed to be pursuing Brown. Look for Matt Birk to be a possible suitor for the Ravens if he does not agree to a deal with the Vikings. Birk and Joe Flacco both have the same agent.

-There is a report that former Terp Dominique Foxworth could be on the Ravens radar screen.

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