Tag Archive | "ben grubbs"

Newsome sounding more optimistic for Grubbs’ potential return to Ravens

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Newsome sounding more optimistic for Grubbs’ potential return to Ravens

Posted on 24 February 2012 by Luke Jones

Following the Ravens’ disappointing loss in the AFC championship game to close the 2011 season, it had been considered all but a foregone conclusion that Pro Bowl left guard Ben Grubbs had played his last game in Baltimore.

However, general manager Ozzie Newsome and coach John Harbaugh provided a more positive spin on Friday regarding negotiations with the 2007 first-round pick. At the Ravens’ end-of-season press conference a few weeks ago, Newsome did not speak confidently about the team’s ability to sign Grubbs but offered more optimism at the NFL rookie combine in Indianapolis on Friday afternoon.

The Ravens must still decide whether they want to allocate so much money to the guard position after signing fellow Pro Bowl guard Marshal Yanda to a long-term deal last August, but Newsome doesn’t appear ready to throw in the towel on the former Auburn product.

“Ben is a player that we would love to have back in Baltimore,” Newsome said. “I think we’ve had some conversation with Pat Dye, his agent, already. We will see how things work out between now and the beginning of free agency on March 13.”

In order to clear enough room with the salary cap to offer enough money to entice Grubbs to stay, the Ravens will need to make several cuts, which Newsome acknowledged on Friday. The most likely candidates to be released include cornerback Domonique Foxworth, wide receiver Lee Evans, and cornerback Chris Carr.

“We’ve had the opportunity to assess our roster, and we will make some moves between now and March 13 to release some players,” Newsome said. “We’ve already got one player (running back Ricky Williams) who has decided that he was going to retire. So, we have a strategy in place that will allow us to have the ability to sign players that we want to sign.”

Evans’ cap number is scheduled to be just under $6 million in 2012, and the Ravens owe him a $1 million roster bonus a few days after the start of free agency if he is retained. With a cap number of $8.6 million in 2012, Foxworth is all but certain to be cut, which would save Baltimore roughly $5.6 million from the 2012 cap.

“I have a meeting with Foxworth when we get back next Thursday, and I don’t know what his intentions are,” Newsome said.

Though not expected to be overly active in the free-agent market, both Newsome and Harbaugh painted a promising picture of the Ravens’ salary cap situation compared to last season when they had to release key veterans Derrick Mason, Todd Heap, Willis McGahee, and Kelly Gregg prior to the start of training camp.

“You can have a lot of salary-cap room, but if you don’t have good players that doesn’t help you,” Newsome said. “We feel very good about the makeup of our roster. We have good veteran players and good young players coming along and learning from those guys. When you have good players you are in a good cap situation.”

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Ranking the Ravens’ biggest offensive needs

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Ranking the Ravens’ biggest offensive needs

Posted on 13 February 2012 by Luke Jones

If you’re not moving forward, you’re moving backward, or so the saying goes.

It’s been three weeks since the Ravens fell a few tenths of a second short — how much longer Lee Evans needed to hold the ball in the end zone — of advancing to Super Bowl XLVI. The organization is now faced with difficult decisions while trying to improve but also acknowledging just how excruciatingly close it came to reaching the pinnacle contest of the NFL.

With free agency set to begin in one month (March 13 at 4:00 p.m.) and the draft just over two months away, the Ravens are evaluating their biggest needs in all three phases of the game. In the first of a three-part series, I offer thoughts on the offensive side of the football and rank the positions of greatest need entering the offseason.

1. Left guard

I’ve tried to think of as many conceivable scenarios as I can for the Ravens to re-sign Pro Bowl left guard Ben Grubbs while not putting their future salary cap space in jeopardy, but I continue to come back to the same theme over and over.

In the modern era, NFL teams simply cannot and do not spent an extraordinary amount of money at the guard position. And after signing Pro Bowl right guard Marshal Yanda to a $32 million contract with $10 million guaranteed, it’s difficult envisioning general manager Ozzie Newsome forking over even more money for Grubbs, especially with quarterback Joe Flacco and cornerback Lardarius Webb set to become free agents following the 2012 season.

Neither the Ravens nor Grubbs have spoken with any level of confidence that the 2007 first-round pick will be back in Baltimore, so a hometown discount appears unlikely. Though Baltimore has retained all but one (2005 selection Mark Clayton) of its first-round picks since 2002, it appears Grubbs will find a new home in 2012.

So, how do the Ravens replace him? The only viable in-house candidate might be 2011 third-round tackle Jah Reid, who practiced at both tackle and guard last season, but his 6-foot-7 frame isn’t ideal inside and he’d be making the transition from the right tackle position.

The draft would figure to be the logical outlet, with a young guard such as Stanford’s David DeCastro or Georgia’s Cordy Glenn potentially available at the end of the first round. However, the Ravens could elect to address other positions of need in the early rounds and roll the dice in finding a competent veteran on the free-agent market.

2. Center

On the surface, the center position would appear to be an urgent need with no veteran currently under contract for 2012, but the Ravens have short-term veteran options in Matt Birk and Andre Gurode.

Birk has yet to decide whether he’ll play in 2012 or retire, but the Ravens could elect to re-sign the five-time Pro Bowl center Gurode, who is three years younger. Regardless of which way the Ravens go, they will need to think about the future at the position with both players close to the end of their respective careers.

Former Ohio State product Justin Boren finished the season on the practice squad and could be a center to groom for 2013 and beyond. Should the Ravens elect to draft a center in April, it likely wouldn’t be until the middle or late rounds unless Wisconsin’s Peter Konz would strike their fancy at the end of the first round.

3. Wide receiver

The receiver position has seemingly showed up on the list every year, but this unit appears to be in better shape than it has in quite some time.

Veteran Anquan Boldin is clearly not a No. 1 receiver at this point in his career, but it’s not unreasonable to expect a better season in 2012 after he played with a partially-torn meniscus for most of 2011. When he returned for the postseason after late-season surgery, Boldin appeared more effective, catching 10 passes for 174 yards and a touchdown in two playoff games.

Torrey Smith figures to only get better with a full offseason to work on his route-running and build a stronger rapport with Flacco. If he can become a bigger threat in the short-to-intermediate passing game, Smith might become the No. 1 receiver the Ravens have lacked since the infancy of the franchise.

The disappointing Evans is under contract for the 2012 season, but it’s hard to envision the Ravens paying the receiver a $1 million roster bonus in March and tolerating his near-$6 million cap number for the upcoming season. He’ll likely be released, with a small chance for a return at a reduced rate.

The Ravens would love a young receiver with height to complement the speedy Smith moving forward, but it’s easier said than done in the pass-happy NFL where every team is looking for big, speedy targets on the outside. A veteran free agent such as Reggie Wayne, Marques Colston, or Dwayne Bowe would provide another threat at receiver but would not provide the height the Baltimore receiving group lacks. San Diego wideout Vincent Jackson would be the ideal 6-foot-5 name in free agency, but his price tag will be hefty.

Adding another impact wide receiver might be the only way to truly gauge whether Flacco can take the passing game to the next level, and the Ravens will try their best to do it this offseason.

4. Running back

(see next page)

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Veteran center Birk still unclear on football future with Ravens

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Veteran center Birk still unclear on football future with Ravens

Posted on 04 February 2012 by Luke Jones

Nearly two weeks after losing in heartbreaking fashion to the New England Patriots in the AFC championship, Ravens center Matt Birk still can’t bring himself to watch a replay of the closing seconds of the game.

However, time heals all wounds in the 35-year-old’s mind. It wasn’t the first time the veteran offensive lineman fell one game short of the Super Bowl after he was a member of the Minnesota Vikings teams that lost conference championship games in 1998 and 2000 — two of Birk’s first three seasons in the NFL.

“You recover,” Birk said in an interview with AM 1570 WNST in Indianapolis on Friday. “I think it’ll be better once the [Super Bowl is] over. Then, everyone can move on.”

However, moving on may hold different meaning for Birk, who still hasn’t decided whether he’ll return for a 15th professional season. He is an unrestricted free agent and may have fallen short in his final chance to reach a Super Bowl when Billy Cundiff’s 32-yard attempt sailed wide left in the final seconds of Baltimore’s 23-20 loss in Foxborough.

Though the offensive line struggled in the postseason against the Texans and Patriots, Birk held up well while making 16 starts after missing the entire preseason due to arthroscopic knee surgery. The Ravens elected to sign five-time Pro Bowl center Andre Gurode as an insurance policy, but Birk was able to play at an effective level throughout the season.

As tempting as a final run at the Super Bowl would be for a man who’s never reached the NFL’s brightest stage, Birk has more on his mind than his health as he contemplates returning for another season. The father of six children — including a baby boy Birk’s wife Adrianna gave birth to back in December — may feel a stronger need to stay home with his family than to bang heads with 300-pound defensive linemen next fall.

“The first thing I’ve got to make sure is what’s best for my family,” said Birk, who plans go on vacation after the Super Bowl. “Then, the second, I [need to] feel if I’m able to play at a level or a standard that’s acceptable.”

Of course, the Ravens must decide if they want to retain Birk’s services or go in a different direction next season. With Pro Bowl left guard Ben Grubbs also set to become an unrestricted free agent, general manager Ozzie Newsome is faced with difficult decisions in trying to improve an offensive line than struggled at times while maintaining the continuity that also helps a unit as years go by.

Even if Birk decides he wants to play one more season, the Ravens could try to re-sign the veteran Gurode — who’s expressed a desire to return to Baltimore — or explore other avenues for younger options at center.

“I will say this: Before we line up and play in 2012, there will be another center on this football team in some capacity – free agency, draft, or whatever,” Newsome said at the Ravens’ end-of-season press conference.

Should the Ravens find another answer at the center position, it’s unclear whether they’d want to retain Birk as a backup to a player who essentially took his job. However, Birk’s professionalism and reputation in the locker room would make him the perfect one-year stopgap if the Ravens draft a center in need of a season to grow before assuming starting duties.

Active in the community with his Hike Foundation and reading programs throughout the Baltimore area, Birk was in Indianapolis this weekend as a finalist for the Walter Payton Man of the Year award, an honor that recognizes community service as well as excellence on the field. Despite being a Minnesota native and having played the first 11 seasons of his career for his hometown Vikings, Birk has felt a strong bond with the community since joining the Ravens in 2009.

And it’d be difficult to leave so late in his career.

“That’d be tough at this point in my life with six little kids,” Birk said. “It definitely takes its toll. The people we’ve met in Maryland and the love they’ve shown us and the way they welcomed us, it’s been absolutely fantastic. Obviously, if I decide I want to play again, I hope it’s with the Ravens. It is a top-notch organization.”

To hear the entire interview with Matt Birk on radio row at the Super Bowl in Indianapolis, click HERE.

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Even after devastating loss, State of the Ravens is solid

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Even after devastating loss, State of the Ravens is solid

Posted on 01 February 2012 by Peter Dilutis

OWINGS MILLS: The braintrust of the Baltimore Ravens was on display in Owings Mills as Steve Bisciotti, Ozzie Newsome, Dick Cass, and John Harbaugh met with the media Wednesday afternoon.

While several references to the now infamous Lee Evans drop made it clear that these men are not yet over what happened in Foxborough on January 22, the top decision makers in the organization displayed confidence that the Ravens are headed in the right direction.

“I’m proud of the product we’re giving Baltimore,” Ravens owner Steve Bisciotti said. “It seems like football is a passionate business in Maryland. We’re one of the top five teams as far as ratings in our home market, and that’s a good thing. They say apathy is the worst emotion and there’s not much apathy in this town about our team.”

Bisciotti was very blunt when asked what the Ravens could do next season to take the next step and get to the Super Bowl.

“Hold onto a ball,” Bisciotti said. “That’s where it was this year. It’s a game of inches. We were there.”

A big reason why the Ravens “were there” at the end against New England was because of the Joe Flacco’s performance in the AFC Championship game. Much has been made about Flacco’s contract situation and his standing as the franchise quarterback going forward. Throughout the 45 minute press conference, both Steve Bisciotti and Ozzie Newsome made it clear that they were not only planning on going forward with Flacco at the helm, but they are looking forward to reaping the benefits of his continued rise.

“Did Joe improve? Yes. And he improved after we took away some weapons that he was accustomed to in Mason and Todd Heap,” Newsome said. “He was able to improve with two young tight ends, two young receivers, a receiver that was traded to him in the middle of training camp, and a second year receiver in Anquan. There’s no doubt that Joe improved.”

“The thing that I like about Joe is that when you are in this business, you get judged on one thing: winning,” Newsome said. “Joe wins. If he continues to win and if one pass is caught, he would be in the Super Bowl. I think he’s going to win Super Bowls…a lot of them. I hope to be a part of them. He has improved, but the thing you cannot knock about Joe is that he’s a winner.”

Bisciotti chimed in with praise for his quarterback.

“People want to see fire in their athletes,” Bisciotti said.” We know Joe has it. I think he’s going to be extremely successful. I think he’s going to have rings, and he’s got 10 years in his prime to show it. I think he will be rewarded for his personality in the long-run.”

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This past week has sucked, but Ravens will be great again in ’12

Posted on 29 January 2012 by Peter Dilutis

 

What an incredibly awful week!

I still cannot really believe what I witnessed in Foxborough a week ago today. Perhaps the most intense football game that I’ve witnessed in person throughout my relatively young life ended in extreme disappointment.

There was so much on the line for everyone.

The fans, who have now spent four consecutive years loading up on purple gear, spending big money on tickets, trips, hotels, etc in anticipation of another Super Bowl run.

The players, who I’ve gotten to know a bit over the past couple of years, who spend 365 days a year preparing for the final moments of a game like that.

The coaches, executives, team employees, trainers…this has sucked for everyone. There’s no way around it.

Personally, I’ve had so many thoughts over the past week but I’ve just had no desire to write about them. It is absolutely sickening that what we all wanted so badly was right in their grasp, literally, and we let it get away.

As bad as it was for all of us (imagine how much we at WNST had on the line regarding promotions, Super Bowl trips, etc), and as much time as some of us have needed to get over the loss, we cannot let the heartbreak that we all feel cloud our perspective.

Yes, it is incredibly hard for a team to get back to where the Ravens just were. There are no guarantees in sports. However, the Baltimore Ravens have built their organization up to where annual contention is not a goal but an expectation.

When Steve Bisciotti fired Brian Billick after the 2007 season, he talked about wanting to avoid the valleys that the team endured under Billick. Billick had tremendous success in Baltimore. He brought back a winning culture to Baltimore and that culture has carried over into this era of Ravens football.

However, there were some years under Billick, specifically 2005 and 2007, when the Ravens were basically out of contention by the second half of the season. Much of that had to do with not having a legitimate quarterback, but the bottom line is that under Billick, the Ravens, at times, underachieved.

That has not happened with John Harbaugh and Joe Flacco at the helm. The Baltimore Ravens have transformed into an elite franchise in the NFL. Period.

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Sizing up the Ravens’ 2012 free-agent class

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Sizing up the Ravens’ 2012 free-agent class

Posted on 26 January 2012 by Luke Jones

In the aftermath of the Ravens’ 23-20 loss to the New England Patriots in the AFC championship on Sunday, the finality of the season coming to an abrupt end was accompanied by the all-too-familiar feeling knowing that same team will never be together again.

The reality of the NFL’s offseason brings substantial change to all 32 teams — some more than others — and forces players to say goodbye to others for the final time as teammates.

“It’s tough to really think about that,” quarterback Joe Flacco said. “You know it’s going to happen, but you don’t know which guys it’s going to be, so it’s tough to be in our shoes and go through that. You finally just take it for what it is, and before you know it, you hope you had a good relationship with everybody on the team and said as much as you could say to that guy. We hope we can bring as many people back as we can.”

While other moves will be made — cornerbacks Domonique Foxworth and Chris Carr and wide receiver Lee Evans are the strongest candidates to be cut despite being under contract for the 2012 season — the Ravens have 13 unrestricted free agents, four restricted free agents, and four exclusive-rights free agents entering the offseason. I’ve included the entire list with a brief thought on each player’s potential future in Baltimore.

Two dates to keep in mind as the offseason begins are the March 5 deadline to designate a franchise player and the start of free agency on March 13 at 4:00 p.m.

Unrestricted free agents

RB Ray Rice
2011 stats: 16 starts, 2,068 yards from scrimmage, 15 touchdowns
Skinny: Rice isn’t going anywhere as the Ravens will either use their franchise tag on the Pro Bowl back or sign him to a long-term deal, though the latter would certainly create more cap space for 2012.

G Ben Grubbs
2011 stats: 10 starts, first Pro Bowl selection
Skinny: The Ravens clearly would like to bring the left guard back, but with Marshal Yanda receiving a sizable deal a few months ago, can the organization afford to invest so much money in the guard position?

C Matt Birk
2011 stats: 16 starts
Skinny: After 14 seasons in the league, Birk may decide to retire, but the Ravens could elect to go with the slightly-younger Andre Gurode or look to the draft for the center position.

LB Jarret Johnson
2011 stats: 16 starts, 56 tackles, 2 1/2 sacks
Skinny: With Johnson on the wrong side of 30, it might be time to part ways with the veteran linebacker, but the Ravens lack a logical replacement on the current roster with the disappointing development of 2010 second-round pick Sergio Kindle and the limitations of pass rusher Paul Kruger.

LB Jameel McClain
2011 stats: 16 starts, 81 tackles, one sack, one interception
Skinny: The former undrafted free agent credits Ray Lewis for his growth, so you have to wonder if McClain becomes the next Baltimore linebacker to receive an inflated contract elsewhere.

DE Cory Redding
2011 stats: 15 games (11 starts), 43 tackles, 4 1/2 sacks
Skinny: Before an ankle injury slowed Redding over the final month of 2011, he was having his best season in years, but the Ravens could elect to go with younger — and cheaper — defensive lineman Arthur Jones at this position.

LB Brendon Ayanbadejo
2011 stats: 16 games, 27 tackles, 1 1/2 sacks, nine special teams tackles
Skinny: The 35-year-old intends to play in 2012 and expects to be back with the Ravens, but the nickel linebacker may not be on the same page as Baltimore in terms of a contract to make his return feasible.

S Tom Zbikowski
2011 stats: 14 games (four starts), 16 tackles, one sack
Skinny: Largely a forgotten man after Bernard Pollard wrestled away the strong safety job early in the season, it appears Zbikowski will likely try to find a new home where he can start.

S Haruki Nakamura
2011 stats: 15 games, three tackles, nine special-teams tackles
Skinny: In a similar position to Zbikowski, the Ravens will likely make a harder push to keep Nakamura due to his exceptional ability as as special teams player.

OL Andre Gurode
2011 stats: 13 games (five starts)
Skinny: Signed as an insurance policy behind Matt Birk, the 10-year veteran wound up being needed at left guard for an injured Grubbs and could be the short-term replacement at center next season.

DT Brandon McKinney
2011 stats: 12 games, 14 tackles
Skinny: A regular part of the rotation along the defensive line, it’s hard to envision teams beating down McKinney’s door, but the Ravens may try to go younger and cheaper than the six-year veteran.

TE Kris Wilson
2011 stats: 15 games, four special teams tackles
Skinny: His touchdown catch in the divisional round was his claim to fame, but the veteran’s competent special teams ability may not be enough to keep him in Baltimore next season.

LB Edgar Jones
2011 stats: nine games, three special teams tackles
Skinny: Though he was active all nine games after being signed in early November, there’s a reason why Jones was unemployed when the Ravens were looking for special-teams depth.

Restricted free agents
(The Ravens can offer a tender attached to a draft pick and then have the right to match any offer from an opposing team and would receive that team’s draft pick if they choose not to match it.)

CB Lardarius Webb
2011 stats: 16 games (15 starts), 68 tackles, five interceptions, sack
Skinny: With another season like he had in 2011, Webb will be looking for a large payday and deservedly so.

CB Cary Williams
2011 stats: 16 starts, 77 tackles, two forced fumbles
Skinny: Easily the most pleasant surprise on the Baltimore defense, Williams will battle 2011 first-round pick Jimmy Smith for a starting corner job in training camp.

LB Dannell Ellerbe
2011 stats: nine games (three starts), 17 tackles
Skinny: The third-year linebacker always leaves you wanting more but could find himself in position to compete for a starting role depending on how the Ravens address the inside linebacker position this offseason.

RB Matt Lawrence
2011 stats: Did not play (injured reserve)
Skinny: Though a competent special-teams player when he’s been healthy in his three-year career, you have to think the Ravens are ready to cut ties with the injury-plagued back.

Exclusive-rights free agents
(These are players with two or fewer accrued seasons and own no negotiating rights.)

LS Morgan Cox
2011 stats: 16 games
Skinny: There’s no reason to think the Ravens are displeased with Cox’s performance as the long snapper.

CB Danny Gorrer
2011 stats: 11 games, three tackles, four pass breakups
Skinny: Considering he was pushing Chris Carr for the No. 4 corner spot by season’s end and was strong on special teams, Gorrer should have no reason to think the Ravens won’t bring him back.

LB Sergio Kindle
2011 stats: two games
Skinny: The Ravens will bring Kindle back, but he’ll need to make major strides in the offseason and training camp to make the 53-man roster again.

LB Albert McClellan
2011 stats: 16 games (one start), seven tackles, 12 special teams tackles
Skinny: He drew a start for the injured Ray Lewis on Thanksgiving night and is one of the best special teams players on the team, making his return a certainty.

 

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Ngata, Reed the latest Ravens players to bow out of Sunday’s Pro Bowl

Posted on 25 January 2012 by Luke Jones

(Updated: 9:00 a.m.)

Only reinforcing the argument held by many against playing the Pro Bowl, the Ravens have now seen four of their selections bow out of Sunday’s game as Haloti Ngata and Ed Reed have joined Terrell Suggs and Ray Rice as non-participants in Honolulu.

Ngata admitted after the AFC championship game that he was dealing with a thigh injury for the second half of the season. The injury occurred in the Ravens’ Week 8 loss over the Arizona Cardinals and limited him in practices leading up to their road win in Pittsburgh the following week. There was a noticeable drop-off in Ngata’s performance after a monstrous start to the season in which the 330-pound defensive lineman was garnering Defensive Player of the Year consideration along with Suggs.

The 33-year-old Reed will also skip the game due to injury as it’s no secret a shoulder injury has severely impaired the safety’s ability to tackle. The 2004 AP Defensive Player of the Year has dealt with a nerve impingement in his neck and shoulder as well as a hip injury in recent seasons. Reed has been replaced by Pittsburgh Steelers free safety Ryan Clark on the AFC roster.

Suggs has also bowed out of the game due to injury, but it’s unclear what  exactly is ailing the 29-year-old linebacker. Though he was honored to be named to his fifth Pro Bowl in late December, Suggs made it no secret he had little interest in going to Honolulu at the expense of the Ravens’ desire to reach the Super Bowl in Indianapolis.

Rice cited a family reason for his absence from the Pro Bowl. The running back led the NFL in yards from scrimmage in 2011.

Linebacker Ray Lewis, fullback Vonta Leach, and guards Marshal Yanda and Ben Grubbs remain on the AFC roster as of Wednesday morning. Grubbs was named the replacement for Patriots guard Logan Mankins earlier this week since New England will play in next week’s Super Bowl. With New England guard Brian Waters also ineligible for the game, Yanda and Grubbs will be the starting guards on the AFC offensive line.

According to the official NFC and AFC rosters on NFL.com, 16 players have been replaced due to “injury” reasons. Of course, some players have legitimate ailments, but many have simply bailed on the exhibition in what’s become a regular practice in recent seasons.

With the Ravens’ eight selections now down to four, what are your thoughts on the Pro Bowl?

With increasing numbers of players skipping the game every season, should the NFL simply name the teams and forgo holding the game?

Do you ever watch the game, regardless of how many Ravens are playing in the game?

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Grubbs added to AFC Pro Bowl roster

Posted on 23 January 2012 by Luke Jones

OWINGS MILLS, Md. — While many have labeled him a Pro-Bowl caliber guard over the last couple seasons, fifth-year veteran Ben Grubbs has officially been recognized with the honor after being named to the AFC squad on Monday.

With New England guards Logan Mankins and Brian Waters both taking part in the Super Bowl — as the Ravens can painfully attest to — Grubbs and teammate Marshal Yanda will serve as starters for the conference’s offensive line.

With Grubbs and Yanda opening running lanes, running back Ray Rice was able to lead the league with 2,068 yards from scrimmage and was second in rushing (1,364). Rice also finished with a franchise-record 15 touchdowns, including 12 rushing.

The Ravens will now send eight players to the Pro Bowl, including Rice, linebackers Ray Lewis and Terrell Suggs, safety Ed Reed, defensive tackle Haloti Ngata, and fullback Vonta Leach. The game will be held on Sunday, Jan. 29, at Aloha Stadium in Honolulu.

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Your Monday Reality Check-Cameron Future Only Part of Postseason Agenda

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Your Monday Reality Check-Cameron Future Only Part of Postseason Agenda

Posted on 23 January 2012 by Glenn Clark

I’ve had the opportunity to make a number of radio appearances throughout the country during the last few weeks while the Baltimore Ravens marched along in the National Football League playoffs.

In virtually every conversation, I was asked a question about how the outcome of the next game could alter the future of Offensive Coordinator Cam Cameron in Charm City.

It always felt a little strange to be asked about Cam Cameron. Usually I only hear Cam Cameron’s name when a listener/caller screams at me about him. It’s never in the form of a question.

After the Ravens’ 23-20 loss to the New England Patriots Sunday in the AFC Championship Game at Gillette Stadium, it didn’t take 30 minutes for the screaming to start again. It was a bit odd considering there was really no way Cameron could be blamed for the loss in Foxborough.

The reality is that as the team’s offseason officially got underway, Cameron sits at the forefront. His future can only be labeled as “to be determined”, as his contract expires with the end of the season.

Head coach John Harbaugh and the Ravens’ coaching staff are headed to Mobile, AL this week for scouting at the annual Senior Bowl. It would seem as though the team wouldn’t want the situation with Cameron to linger far into the offseason, especially if they ultimately decide not to retain Cameron after four playoff trips in four seasons and have to find a new coordinator without a likely replacement on staff.

(That’s not an endorsement for either decision. It’s just a fact. I’m actually indifferent towards the situation, as I believe any coordinator in 2012 would need more offensive talent to work with.)

The next pressing situation remains on offense. The team’s Most Valuable Player in 2012 (RB Ray Rice) becomes an Unrestricted Free Agent (UFA) at a time where NFL teams have been particularly unwilling to invest in long term deals for running backs. Also hitting unrestricted free agency is LG Ben Grubbs, who has never reached a Pro Bowl but has certainly played at a Pro Bowl level. (Monday update: Grubbs will in fact be making his first trip to Hawaii this season as a replacement for Patriots G Logan Mankins.)

There is a likelihood that the Franchise tag will come into play with one of the above players, as it did with DT Haloti Ngata last season before a long-term deal was reached.

DE Cory Redding, LB’s Jarret Johnson & Jameel McClain and S’s Tom Zbikowski and Haruki Nakamura highlight other Ravens who become Unrestricted Free Agents. LB Brendon Ayanbadejo (who has publicly stated he would like to play another season) is also on the UFA list, as are OL Andre Gurode, TE Kris Wilson, DT Brandon McKinney and LB Edgar Jones.

(CB’s Cary Williams & Lardarius Webb as well as LB Dannell Ellerbe are restricted free agents, all are expected to return.)

Also on the list of Unrestricted Free Agents is C Matt Birk, who denied a CBS report earlier this month that he had already decided to retire at the end of the season. With no “center of the future” clearly on the roster, it may behoove the team to bring the big man from Harvard back for one more season if he’s interested.

While we await Birk’s decision about his future, future Hall of Fame LB Ray Lewis told reporters in New England he intends to return to Baltimore for a 17th season. S Ed Reed’s future isn’t quite as defined, as he did not speak to reporters after suffering his second AFC title game defeat. Nagging back and neck issues appeared to affect Reed’s play at the end of the season, but he came with big plays in both playoff games.

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Our Ravens-Texans Pats on the Ass

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Our Ravens-Texans Pats on the Ass

Posted on 15 January 2012 by Glenn Clark

After every Baltimore Ravens victory, Ryan Chell and I take to the airwaves on “The Nasty Purple Postgame Show” on AM1570 WNST.net to offer “Pats on the Ass” to players who have done something to deserve the honor.

We give pats to two defensive players, two offensive players and one “Wild Card”-either another offensive or defensive player, a Special Teams player or a coach. We offer a “Pat on Both Cheeks” to someone who stands out, our version of a “Player of the Game.” Ryan & I select five different players to receive pats.

Here are our “Pats on the Ass” following the Ravens’ 20-13 win over the Houston Texans in the AFC Divisional Playoff Round at M&T Bank Stadium…

Glenn Clark’s Pats…

5. Ricky Williams

4. Ray Lewis

3. Bernard Pollard

2. Anquan Boldin

1. Sam Koch (Pat on Both Cheeks)

Ryan’s Pats on Page 2…

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