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Ravens news and notes and injury report

Posted on 22 October 2008 by caseywillett

Here are some notes from 1 Winning Drive today:

-The Chris McAlister saga will continue to roll on, as McAlister spoke with the media and commented on the situation which you can see in my previous blog. Coach Harbaughreemphasized today that playing time has nothing to do with discipline. It is simply they are putting the best 11 guys on the field against the Raiders. McAlister does in fact appear on the injury report this week, which you can scroll down to see.

- Buddy Ryan the father of Ravens defensive coordinator Rex Ryan and Raiders defensive coordinator Rob Ryan will be at the game on Sunday.

-JaMarcus Russell was a big topic of discussion with several of the defensive players today. Trevor Pryce, Terrell Suggs, and Haloti Ngata all talked about how big and strong Russell is and how you have to wrap him up to get him down. Pryce mentioned that the thing you have to do when you get to Russell is ask him to lie down so you can get the sack. Suggs is concerned that he might get shrugged off if he gets to him and goes for a sack. Ngata pointed out that a big thing with Russell is that he will dump off passes to the running backs when you get to him and that is a dangerous thing. All of the guys compared sacking Russell to trying to sack Ben Roethlisberger, very difficult. Suggs compared sacking Russell to trying to sack Trevor Pryce.

- Jonathan Ogden who will be going into the Ravens Ring of Honor on Sunday, will be introduced with the team on Sunday.

- Terrell Suggs said early that he thought Troy Smith should be starting for the Ravens. Now Suggs has said ” I thought the question was about multiple packages. I said both quarterbacks should get a chance to play, like running back Ronnie Brown depending on the package. Joe is 3-3 as the starter and has done a good job. It’s not like we haven’t won any games.”

Suggs also has had controversy come up with his comments about a bounty on Hines Ward. Here is his response to that, ” there wasn’t any bounty. The reporter asked me if there was a bounty and I just said I’m going to keep a watch on the guy. He broke some guy’s jaw last week, and he tried to cheap shot Jarrett Johnson. He also cheap-shotted Ed Reed. We’re just going to be on alert the next time we play him. It’s like the guy in your neighborhood who always pulls your shorts down and your drawers show, well, you always have to be on the lookout. You have to be alert.”

Suggs has always been a media friendly guy, but I can not imagine these type comments set well with the new coaching regime

- Here is the injury report for the Ravens for Wednesday:

OUT: Samari Rolle(neck/shoulder) Dawan Landry(neck) Adam Terry (knee)

Did Not Participate: Yamon Figurs(knee) Ed Reed(thigh) Demetrius Williams(ankle)

Limited Participation: Jared Gaither(neck) Chris McAlister(knee) Willis McGahee(knee)

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Ravens Dominate Bengals

Posted on 08 September 2008 by Ed Frankovic

Ravens Pound Bengals

The Ravens whipped the Bengals today using a great running game, a physical and intimidating defense, and a high energy effort – something that surprised many fans and media in this town, including myself. However, watching the way the Ravens players went at it today I don’t think they were surprised with their performance and that bodes well for this team going forward, if they can stay healthy. Confidence is a huge thing in sports and this football team has to have that after dominating Cincy today with a young offensive line, a rookie QB, and a rookie RB. The Bengals were a team that had given the Ravens fits the last several years but today the Baltimore Birds put a beat down on Marvin Lewis’ gang.

Here are some of my thoughts on the game today:

-    So just how hurt are Ed Reed, Chris McAlister, and Samari Rolle because they looked pretty healthy today? The Ravens are clearly a different football team when those 3 guys are on the field. Is it possible the Ravens were just being overly cautious with each of them this pre-season or are they really on the verge of being knocked out for several weeks this season or their careers (as we’ve heard about Reed)? I hope our man Casey Willett can get the scoop on this because a healthy secondary is definitely the difference between this team contending for a playoff spot versus the team likely playing for a high draft spot. Reed’s coverage on T.J. Houshmandzadeh early in the game that led to C-Mac’s interception is the type of play that turns a game around.

-    It was great to see the Ravens power running game back. Baltimore got most of their yards behind the strength of their offensive line in center Jason Brown and guards Marshal Yanda and Ben Grubbs. Ray Rice had a very good game except for his costly fumble, but he is a rookie and we’ll let him slide on that one. Le’Ron McClain was outstanding dragging tacklers all day for significant yardage. Bottom line: the Ravens offensive line teed off on the Bengals defensive line all day something we hadn’t really seen around here since 2003 when Jamal Lewis almost broke the NFL single season rushing record.

-    The play of Joe Flacco in total was very good. His TD run was just incredible but we can’t expect him to do that very often (btw, what a great block by Jason Brown on that run!). As for his pocket presence, it was superb! Fellow blogger Chris Pika pointed out that Joe only got hit 1 time in 75 plays meaning the o-line did a good job of blocking and Flacco did a very good job of feeling pressure when it came and moving away from it. As for his throws, I can only think of a couple that were off. #5 under threw Mark Clayton in the first half on a deep pass that if made properly would have been a TD and another time while scrambling out of the pocket he badly overthrew an open Clayton in the flat. Overall I have to give Flacco an A for his performance today.

-    The receivers stepped up today! It was great to see Mark Clayton back and playing at a high level. He can be a dangerous player and he was very good today. Derrick Mason was his usual solid self and he is a great leader for the younger guys. I’ve never met Mason but he seems like a real class act. Another thing the receivers did well was with their run blocking. You can’t run the ball that well without help from the WR’s.

-    I still think that the block in the back call on Yamon Figurs punt return was a very borderline to bad call. It appeared that the Ravens player (I think it was Frank Walker) hit the Bengals punter in the shoulder although from the referees angle he probably saw one of Walker’s hands on the punters back so he threw the flag.

-    Bart Scott and the rest of the Ravens linebackers were phenomenal today. I singled out Scott because he had a tough season last year and he looked more like his 2006 form today. Terrell Suggs, Jason Johnson, and Ray Lewis were all over the field all day and Rex Ryan has to be very proud of that crew.

-    Biggest disappointment of the day: TE Todd Heap. He dropped an easy TD in the second quarter that would have put the Ravens up 14-0 and his fumble in the opening minutes was reminiscent of some of his past ones. That fumble reminded me of the one he had in the Indy playoff game in January 2007 and someone has got to get Heap to stop leaving his feet with the ball under him because it is getting knocked out too much by the opposing team. Luckily for Heap the defense rose to the occasion and shut the Bengals offense down without any points after that turnover (I also think they ended up breaking Carson Palmer’s nose).

-    Coaching: WOW! Clearly the players were energized and how cool was it to see the offense run a “no huddle” sequence? That clearly confused the heck out of Cincinnati. The double reverse was a major risk/reward play so with Clayton going to the house Cam Cameron looks like a genius on that call.

Overall, it was a great day for the purple and black and the doubters have to be re-thinking their pre-season prognostications after this performance (myself included). As I said in the opening, if the Ravens stay healthy this team can contend for a playoff spot based on what I saw today. But this is only week one and right now this team needs to focus on just getting better each week. Next week will be a tough game going to Houston to face a Texans team that had their jocks handed to them by the Pittsburgh Steelers today. As our old coach told us time and time again: “Winning on the road in the NFL is one of the toughest thing to do in sports.”

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6-pack review and post game

Posted on 08 September 2008 by caseywillett

Here is a look back at my 6-pack game preview and some post game thoughts:
  1. Give Joe time- At times today, it seemed like Flacco had all day to look down the field and make plays. Not being sacked one time today speaks highly of the job that the offensive line did for him. Flacco completed 15 passes to seven different receivers, eight to the wide outs, six to the running backs, and one to a tight end.
  1. Keep drives going – The Ravens today kept the ball for 36:15. A big part of that was due to their ability to convert on third downs. The Ravens were 9-17 53%, on third downs today. LeRon McClain converted on third down four of the nine times. The Ravens got the ball with 7:15 left to go in the game and never gave it back to the Bengals. In that time they ran the ball 10 times, threw one pass, and took two knees to end the game.
  1. Find Ben Utecht - Utecht finished the day with two catches for 10 yards. Ben had to stay in most of the time to help pass protect for Carson Palmer.
  1. Get to Carson – The Ravens were giving Palmer all kind of looks early on in the game. Here is how Palmers first quarter went: sack (Justin Bannan), sack (Jarrett Johnson), two runs, a completed pass, and was intercepted. Several members of the Bengals media, said they do not remember seeing Palmer that rattled in a long, long, time. Matter of fact, today was the first time since week 17 of the 2005 season that Palmer has been held under 100yds passing in a regular season game.
  1. Don’t play their game- Besides Samari Rolle throwing the football after his interception that ended up never happening, the Ravens played smart football as it relates to unsportsmanlike penalties. Several times during the game there were some flare ups between players and pushing and shoving. Every time Ravens players would grab their teammate and pull them away from the situation. In the past penalties for late hits, unsportsmanlike conduct and other things would have cost the Ravens.
  1. Special teams has to be special – Sam Koch did yet another excellent job of pinning the Bengals deep. Koch does not get the credit he deserves for his punting ability, but he came up with some huge punts today. Yamon Figurs also had a huge day with some nice returns. There was a very questionable block in the back call on what would have been Figurs punt return for a touchdown. Figurs also deserves credit for being a gunner on special teams and making a great open field tackle on Chatman of the Bengals for a one yard loss.
-The Ravens locker room was an interesting place to be after the game. Watching the guys walk up the tunnel and into the locker room was a very interesting scene. Ray Lewis embraced quarterbacks coach Hue Jackson who had a huge grin on his face. You could hear the team applauding, cheering, and celebrating, across the hall in the media room even with the locker room doors closed.
-Several Ravens players said that the Bengals defense almost had a look on their face that they could not believe that the Ravens were moving the ball at will on them. There was definitely a swagger with the offense today.
-The Bengals were not pleased with their performance, “we sucked”, said Bengals wide receiver T.J. Houshmandzadeh, “we got beat on two b.s. plays”, was how John Thornton summed up the day for the Bengals defense. I know it is early, but Marvin Lewis might be the leader in the clubhouse of a coach on the hot seat after week 1.

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Ravens – Bengals 6-pack

Posted on 07 September 2008 by caseywillett

Here is my 6-pack of things to look for in today’s Ravens – Bengals game
  1. Give Joe time: With a rookie quarterback in Joe Flacco, a hurt if playing at all running back in Willis McGahee, a backup rookie running back in Ray Rice, and still a questionable offensive line, I expect the Bengals will throw everything they can at Joe Flacco early until he can beat the pressure. The Bengals linebackers coach Jeff Fitzgerald is the former Ravens linebackers coach, and knows the players on offense, especially the line. It will be huge today for Lorenzo Neal, and LeRon McClain, to pick up the blitzes and other schemed the Bengals will throw at Flacco. The offensive line will have to hold up, the offense can not afford to have to have Todd Heap or Dan Wilcox stay back on every play to help pass protect.
  1. Keep drives going: This is going to be a huge part of what the Ravens offense will have to do today. The Bengals defense is not that great, and it will be key to keep them out there as long as possible. By having long sustained drives, not only does it keep the Bengals defense on the field, it keeps the Ravens defense on the bench, and more importantly keeps Carson Palmer and that high powered offense on the sidelines. Mark Clayton told me this week that the one big key for them is to convert on 3rd down and not get in 3rd and long situations.
  1. Find Ben Utecht: As much as the Bengals wide receiving corp gets talked about, and rightfully so, the off season addition of Ben Utecht was a big pickup for the Bengals.  Ben will be a big part of what the Bengals will do today. He may not finish with 100+ yards or three touchdowns, but he will be the guy to come up with some key catches for the Ravens. He will become to Carson Palmer what Dallas Clark is to Peyton Manning. A guy who can line up almost any where and make that big reception for them. He will also cause match up problems for the Ravens defense.
  1. Get to Carson: With Kelly Gregg doubtful for this game, and Haloti Ngata still nursing a knee injury, it will be key but a little harder for the Ravens to get pressure on Palmer. Terrell Suggs will have his hands full with his former Sun Devil friend Levi Jones. Trevor Pryce will be a key to getting after Palmer and applying the pressure. Palmer will stand in the pocket and make you pay if you do not get to him quick enough. The linebacking corp of the Ravens can not be overly aggressive because that is when Ben Utecht and Chris Perry will hurt them in the passing game. Ravens have to get to Carson, hit him, knock him down, and not let him get comfortable in the pocket.
  1. Don’t play their game: It is no secret Chad Ocho Cinco loves to talk trash while he is on the field. TJ Houshmandzadeh can also do some good trash talking. Ocho Cinco has already made it known that he is going to be yelping at Dawan Landry and Bart Scott all day. Scott, Landry, and Chris McAlister, can not afford to let the talk get the best of them and get penalties for late hits. This is a game that Cinco, and Houshmandzadeh, will play with the Ravens and try to get them to retaliate.
  1. Special teams has to be special: It would be huge for the Ravens offense today if the special teams unit can give them a short field to work with. With a rookie quarterback, and injuries on the offense, the last thing they need is to have to be trying to go 60-80 yards ever offensive drive. On the other side of the coin, it will be huge for the special teams to force the Bengals to have to go 60-80 yards. The Bengals have the weapons that given the short field they will make you pay quickly, or get in position for Shayne Graham to give them points.
Final prediction: Bengals 27 – Ravens 20

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Another September swoon…

Posted on 04 September 2008 by Drew Forrester

Don’t look now, but it’s September and the local baseball team is collapsing again.

Another Keystone Cops episode in the bottom of the 9th at Boston earlier today gave the Red Sox an improbable 5-4 win over the Orioles, handing Dave Trembley’s team their 3rd loss in as many days at Fenway and finishing their Tampa/Boston road trip at 0-6.

It was a game the Orioles controlled until the bottom of the 8th and then the world fell apart.

Again.

When will it get better?

Next year?

Probably not.

Who’s going to pitch in ’09, Bob Gibson and Vida Blue?

Without an off-season committment to acquiring two or three legitimate major league starters, the O’s won’t improve much next year either.

Make book on that.

And why wouldn’t they go out in the off-season and make pitches – no pun intended – for guys like A.J. Burnett or Derek Lowe or Ben Sheets? They created a TV network three years ago that pours money into their coffers in unimaginable numbers and they themselves promised us the TV revenue would go directly into roster improvement. They’re half-swindling a lot of us out of $2.60 a month whether we watch MASN or not – shouldn’t they at least go out and spend OUR money in the fashion they promised?

Yes, they should. And if this off-season comes and goes and they fork over some lame-ass excuse like the one we’ve heard before: “why would we pay $14 million a year for someone who only works once every 5 days?” then Free The Birds3 should take place on opening day.

Now, to be fair, here’s the good stuff.

Despite the September swoon, there have been bright spots this year. And, honestly, the first three months of the campaign gave reason for hope as the team hovered around the .500 mark and played competitively against every team in the American League.

For a while in the late spring, going to the ballpark was exciting again because you were never quite sure if the O’s just might find a way to win even though they trailed 6-2 going into the 7th inning.

Adam Jones was a rock star until he got hurt and even Aubrey Huff made good on his pre-season promise to make us all forget that asinine off-season remark he made about Baltimore. Like him or not, Huff “manned up” in ’08 and could certainly be the team’s MVP this season without much argument from anyone.

Brian Roberts – by far the team’s most valuable ASSET – refused to allow the team’s public attempts to trade him keep him from another good season and Nick Markakis overcame an embarrassing spring training contract snub to produce yet another strong major league campaign.

Somehow, those four guys put together fine ’08 efforts in spite of the fact they’re playing for one of the major’s worst teams.

Hats off to them.

Off the field, there are still issues that need to be addressed. In typical Orioles’ fashion, they may or may not address them in time for the close of the season.

Maybe they’re just waiting for football season to start so they can drop out of the limelight and make their hard decisions in the background. That’s smart, if they’re thinking that way.

They’re stringing along a manager who has been a decent contributor for them over the last 15 months. Why they haven’t publicly disclosed that Dave Trembley’s ’09 contract option has been renewed is a mystery, but it’s always that way with the O’s. They never really clue you in on what’s going on…leaving us all to speculate.

Fair enough then. I’m speculating that perhaps they’re NOT sold on Trembley for ’09. Why else wouldn’t they have announed he’s returning next season? I know common PR isn’t their niche at The Warehouse, but this one is so easy even a dummy like me could figure it out. Give Trembley his ’09 contract and let’s move on. Or boot him and go find someone else that will deal with the likes of Fernando Cabrera, Alberto Castillo and Lance Cormier without wanting to stick a crab claw in their eye.

Keeping Trembley on hold like this is wrong. Period.

With attendance at 1,725,000 and some change, the O’s are in danger of NOT drawing 2 million fans. That’s not a surprise, of course, since the team has been losing since 1998 and over the last decade have more times than not gone out of their way to fight with the fans and paying customers. They’ve made serious attempts to patch things up with the Baltimore fan base this year and those efforts should be applauded. Still, though, the numbers don’t lie and if the team doesn’t average roughly 16,000 per-game over the last 17 home contests, they won’t draw 2 million at OPACY.

That’s why they’re offering $1.00 tickets to all September home games. Mind you, those aren’t $1.00 seats in the lower box. Those are $1.00 seats so high up in the ballpark they’ll ask you to put down your tray tables and fasten your seatbelts before the first pitch is thrown. But a buck is a buck and even if they’re doing it to try and avoid the embarrassment of failing to reach 2 million fans, it’s still a solid gesture to the fan base that has long been slapped around by the organization.

Under the guidance of Andy MacPhail, the O’s have seemingly started to get things back on track. Make no mistake about it though, the team’s rise back to respectability both on and off the field is a marathon, not a sprint.

And right about now, the team is just getting ready to tie their shoes on race day.

The real running hasn’t even started yet.

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Casey’s ‘Six Pack’ preview for Ravens-Falcons

Posted on 28 August 2008 by caseywillett

So as the Ravens get ready for their final preseason game tonight versus the Falcons, here are six things to watch for. I guess we will call them Casey’s Six-Pack:
 
  1. O-line reunited – For the first time this preseason, the offensive line is expected to be back together with Adam Terry and Jared Gaither both likely to play tonight. It will be interesting to watch how they gel with Jason Brown, Marshal Yanda and Ben Grubbs after missing so much time. I expect that they will stay out there longer than usually expected for a fourth preseason game.
 
  1. Tight Ends – Todd Heap and Dan Wilcox will be on the field together tonight for the first time this preseason and the first time in a while. They are both coming back from injuries and will get some time with the first team offense tonight. Wilcox made his comeback last week and looked pretty good. Tonight will be another stepping stone on his road to recovery. I would imagine he will stay out there a little longer than Heap tonight. Also keep an eye on the guys know battling for that third tight end position. Adam Bergen will probably see the field first then you I imagine you will see Edgar Jones and Keith Heinrich.
 
 
  1. The Joe Show – Tonight Joe Flacco will see a lot of reps. While I do not think he will play the entire game, here is another chance for him to show what he can do and earn even more respect from his teammates. I think Joe will pass the test tonight with flying colors. Later in the game I expect you will see Casey Bramlet come in and run some of Cam Cameron’s offense.
 
  1. 3rd down stoppage  – The Ravens have allowed their opponents to convert 50% on 3rd downs this preseason which is why teams have racked up 67 first downs against them. Stopping teams on 3rd down has been an issue for this team during the preseason. They cannot allow teams to sustain long drives on them whether they lead to three or six points.
 
 
  1. Limit the air attack – The Ravens secondary, in particular Cory Ivy and Frank Walker, have been picked on a bunch this preseason. Not having Ed Reed, Chris McAlister or Samari Rolle factors into that, but how confident are you that they will be there all together during the regular season? The Ravens have allowed 607 yards through the air this preseason at a 58% completion rate. Of the 112 passes that have been attempted against the Ravens so far, 82 of them have been short passes. The Ravens have to stop the air onslaught and be able to find a way to stop the no-huddle offense.
 
  1. Prove you belong – After tonight, about 20 members of this football team will no longer be members. Tonight is the final audition for the coaches, scouts, front office and people who will make the roster decisions by 4 p.m. on Saturday. For guys like Ronnie Prude and David Pittman, they have to take advantage of Derrick Martin not being able to play. Do guys like J’Vonne Parker, Adrein Clarke, Joe Reitz, Jameel McClain, Lorenzo Williams and several other guys do something tonight to make a case one way or another as it relates to making this team? Does an aging veteran like Gary Stills just get caught up in a salary cap and numbers game and become expendable? Can Haruki Nakamura, Tom Zbikowski, Allen Patrick, and other late-round draft picks feel confident in their spot on the team after tonight’s game? One thing is for certain: they have had all of a long camp and preseason to prove what they have. Here’s one last chance to prove tonight that they belong on this team.

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AFC after 3 pre-season games Fantasy notes

Posted on 27 August 2008 by KZ

After three weeks of the pre-season….AFC Fantasy Football notes:

Buffalo Bills: Edwards beats out Losman! Is this the year the Bills take a step forward? Team still needs to find a TE. Lanston Walker injury could create issues.

Man of the Year: If it’s anyone besides Marshawn Lynch, this team is in a heap of trouble.

Bust of the Year: Josh Reed, the bills drafted James Hardy to finally take some pressure off Lee Evans.

Sleeper: Trent Edwards…teams will try and stop the run, which will give Edwards lots of opportunities to open things up.

Miami Dolphins: New coach…check….new QB…new General Manger…lots of things are new in Miami.

Man of the Year: Chad Pennington has a chance to make a huge difference.

Bust of the Year: Ricky Williams…can’t handle a full load…be careful in drafting him.

Sleeper: Ted Gin Jr…has the speed and moves to be a dynamic WR…but can he handle the pounding on his smallish frame.

New England Patriots: 18 and 1…does that 1 linger or is it a rallying point? Have teams figured out how to slow down Brady and Moss, like was done in the playoffs?

Man of the Year: Laurence Maroney will have to play a larger role in the offense this year.

Bust of the Year: Brady and Moss…both will be top 10 in their respective positions but just do not expect record setting years…I’d guess 35 to 40 TD’s for Brady and 15 TD’s for Moss.

Sleeper: I keep waiting for Ben Watson to have a breakout year…I think this is it.

New York Jets: It was actually a ho-hum camp for the Jets. Nothing really happened…well until a hall of fame to be QB came along and pushed expectations through the roof.

Man of the Year: How many wins is Brett Farve worth? I’d say to the Jets 4…so 8 – 8 would be a true miracle.

Bust of the Year: Brett Farve…yes he is the man also, but this is not Green Bay…28 TD’s would amaze me. He is still the gun slinger, so 24 TD’s and 20 INT’s is a possibility.

Sleeper: Jesse Chatman…with T. Jones now 30 and injury to him would open the door for a pretty decent Chatman.

 

 

Denver Broncos: Shanny’s back, back again, Shanny’s back, tell a friend. Everyone’s favorite Fantasy coach is back again to torment us all.

Man of the Year: Jay Cutler will be a top 8 QB this year.

Bust of the year: Selvin Young…3 or 4 RB’s will start for Denver this year…and usually the first guy up is the last guy in total yards.

Sleeper: Andre Hall and Anthony Alridge…they will start at some point this year…worth a flyer.

Kansas City Chiefs: Something tells me this team may be Fantasy friendly this year…Croyle starts at QB, LJ is back and healthy, Gonzo is well Gonzo…what’s not to like? Revamped OLINE! Dwayne Bowe is a legit WR…oh now I see it…Davard Darling is the other WR and Herm Edwards is still the coach.

Man of the year: It does not seem to matter who the QB is Tony Gonzales gets his catches, but will TD’s be a problem this year?

Bust of the Year: With Croyle at QB, LARRY JOHNSON, healthy or not, is going to see a lot of 8 and 9 man fronts.

Sleeper: Jackie Battle…he is a big 6’3, 238 bruising back who can get into the hole quickly…If LJ goes down…keep an eye on him.

Oakland Raiders: This is a young team with a ton of untapped talent on the offensive side of the ball and a defense that is better than people think.

Man of the Year: JaMarcus Russell is essentially a rookie but the Raiders will go as far as he can take them.

Bust of the Year: Darren Mcfadden is not Adrian Peterson, he simply is not.

Sleeper: Ronald Curry could have 70 catches and 8 TD’s this year.

San Diego Chargers: Injured players return to lead the Bolts! Rivers, Gates and LT all back after disappointing end to 2007.

Man of the Year: LT is still the best player in the NFL

Bust of the Year: Vincent Jackson has untapped potential at WR…it remains untapped.

Sleeper: Legedu Naanee I can see him replacing Jackson in the lineup by mid-season.

 

 

 

Baltimore Ravens: A pre-season that leaves the team with more questions than answers. Who is the QB, RB, CB, TE…and so on and so forth.

Man of the Year: JOE FLACCO will be the starter by week 5 at the latest.

Bust of the Year: Willis McGahee…I said early on something worried me about him.

Sleeper: Yamon Figures will have a huge impact in the return game and will be given a shot at WR.

Cincinnati Bengals: Rudi is not ready, Chad is hurting and did I read that Chris Henry was resigned? WOW!

Man of the Year: Carson Palmer is a top 5 QB. He will have to throw a lot with the RB situation unsettled.

Bust of the Year: Chad Johnson is hurting…and it’s not going to get better.

Sleeper: Jerome Simpson WR…with Johnson and TJ banged up Simpson should get a chance this season and I think he is special.

Cleveland Browns: Huge expectations for the Browns this year. Can Anderson duplicate the first 10 games from 2007 for an entire year? Can Jamal continue his revival?

Man of the Year: Braylon Edwards is a top 5 WR and getting better!

Bust of the Year: Derek Anderson is being drafted like a top 6 QB, he will be lucky to be a top 12 guy.

Sleeper: Brady Quinn will start at some point this year.

Pittsburgh Steelers: Why is this team being overlooked again this year? Best balance of any team in the division.

Man of the Year: Ben Roethlisberger…did you know Big Ben threw 32 TD’s last year? Well, he throws 35 this year.

Bust of the Year: Rashard Mendenhall is going to be a solid if not great NFL RB, but just not this year…Willie Parker is still the man in Pittsburgh.

Sleeper: Limas Sweed..Ben wanted a big receiver and he got a really good one.

Houston Texans: Can they find a RB? Can Andre Johnson stay healthy, can the defense continue to improve.

Man of the Year: Andre Johnson will lead the league in receptions and yards if he plays 16 games this year.

Bust of the Year: Kevin Walter is currently number two on the depth chart, he finishes 4th.

Sleeper: Jacoby Jones for the second year in a row…

Indianapolis Colts: The only question is…Manning’s knee and how healthy will it be. Jeff Saturday the leader of the OLINE may be out a long period of time as well.

Man of the Year: Joseph Addai has to be the man and take pressure of Manning early in the season.

Bust of the Year: Anthony Gonzales has lots of potential but a healthy Marvin Harrison will curtail his production this year.

Sleeper: Roy Hall…if Harrison get hurt this year..Hall will get some time.

Jacksonville Jaguars: Can they finally win the division? They appear to have all the pieces in place.

Man of the Year: David Garrard has to continue to be efficient and effective in 2008.

Bust of the Year: Troy Williamson is simply not that good.

Sleeper: Matt Jones had a great camp…and has earned his chance to play.

Tennessee Titans: Can Vince Young reduce the turnovers? That is the question for this team. They have a solid defense a good running game, but need VY to take care of the ball better…9 -17 TD to INT ratio will not get it done.

Man of the Year: Vince Young…it is his team and he has to be a better on field leader.

Bust of the Year: LenDale White? I think he will have a good year, but all this Chris Johnson talk has me worried a bit.

Sleeper: Justin McCariens has the size and speed to be exactly what VY needs.

Have a question? go to www.fansfantasyfootball.com

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19 of ‘em…ponder away

Posted on 11 August 2008 by Drew Forrester

1. If they’re healthy, the Ravens defense won’t allow more than 260 points this year.  Last year, not one team in the league surrendered less than 260.  Three teams (Indy, 262 – Pittsburgh, 269 – Tampa Bay, 270) allowed 270 or less and all three made the playoffs.

2. Padraig Harrington won both the British Open* and PGA Championship* this year.  That makes him the 2nd best player in the world in my book.  Sorry, Phil.

3. It’s Troy Smith’s job to lose this Saturday when he plays with the first-team against the Vikings in Baltimore.  If he impresses, he gets a leg up in the QB derby.  If he doesn’t, the California Kid gets the nod.

4. Brandon Webb (17-4) probably has the NL Cy Young award all but locked up.  However, the A.L. Cy Young could go right down to the wire – and don’t look now, but that guy in New York is 15-7 with a 3.27 e.r.a. — yeah, a lot has to go right for Mike Mussina still, but he’s “in the hunt” for that elusive 20-win season and a Cy Young award, perhaps, if Cliff Lee and Dice-K stumble down the stretch.

5. Ben Curtis locked up a spot on the U.S. Ryder Cup team with his tie for 2nd in the PGA Championship.  Paul Azinger still has three weeks before he has to make his 4 “captain’s picks” but I can make them for him now.  ‘Zinger, you need to take J.B. Holmes, Steve Stricker, David Toms and Brandt Snedeker.  Two young guys, two veterans.  Good combination.  I’d think about taking Rocco Mediate, but I’m not sure he can physically handle the three days of golf and the 36-holes on Friday and Saturday.

6. Psst…did you hear the one about the Redskins going to the Super Bowl in 2008?  Neither did anyone else.

7. So Willis McGahee is getting his knee scoped?  Uh oh…I don’t like that.  Smells like a season-long “issue” to me.

8. Tampa Bay just keeps on winning, but the A.L. East will be decided in mid-September when the Rays and Red Sox play 6 games in a two week span.  As for the Yankees, their next important game will be opening day ’09 when they unveil the new Yankee Stadium.  They’re d-o-n-e.

9. Michael Phelps has won two gold medals so far in Beijing.  You probably didn’t know that, huh?

10. Another Friday night, another evening of long ticket lines and frustrated customers at OPACY.  Why on earth don’t they make provisions for overflow walk-up crowds so people don’t have to stand in line until 8pm?  I don’t understand…

11. If the Texas Rangers had some real pitching, they’d be dangerous. 

12. What’s the story with the field they’re playing soccer on at the Olympics in Beijing? It looks like something cows should be eating from. Rather, it looks like they’ve already BEEN eating from it.  That’s the best conditioned surface they could provide?

13. Speaking of the Olympics, I have just about zero interest in the “Redeem Team”.  Not sure why, but Olympic basketball doesn’t seem the same playing NBA players.

14. Anthony Kim will be a U.S. Ryder Cup rock star.  You heard it here.

15. I really hope Hayden Penn gets a call-up soon and makes 6-8 starts between now and the end of September so we can figure out if he’s a real possibility for an ’09 rotation-spot.  I’m just about “Hayden Penn’d-out” and he hasn’t even pitched here this year.

16. I’ll take Maryland football to go 8-4 this year. 

17. I’d give Oniel Cousins the “get in one more fight in training camp and you’re gone” speech if I’m John Harbaugh.

18. Those of you who bet “the over” on the O’s win total (66) for the season should be collecting by early September. Those of you who thought the O’s were going to finish in last place were right, too.

19. The Ravens PR chief made an appearance at our 10th anniversary party on Friday but the O’s main PR guy didn’t.  Maybe he couldn’t find parking?

2. * – won the British Open and PGA Championship without Tiger in the field, which greatly reduces the credibility of both wins.

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Some Sleepers and Busts for your viewing!!!

Posted on 07 August 2008 by KZ

2008 Fans Fantasy Football Sleepers and Busts

Sleepers:

Now this list is long…but it’s complete

QUARTERBACKS:

Kurt Warner – he has to start at some point doesn’t he?
Jason Campbell – I am not a big fan, but can’t argue with his completion percentage
Alex Smith – 4000 yard QB’s seem to follow Martz around

RUNNING BACKS:

Reggie Bush – He can’t be that bad can he?
Thomas Jones – good line, good WR’s…a better TE will all help
Jesse Chatman – seems to always have a good run for a few games…handcuff to Jones?
Tim Hightower – everyone’s buzzing about him…Edge has to slow down at some point…
Andre Hall – RB’s that play in Denver…enough said!
Pierre Thomas – If Deuce is not healthy he could surprise.
Lamont Jordan – vulture supreme?
The rookies: Ray Rice, Jonathan Stewart and Steve Slaton all could get a chance to shine this year!

WIDE RECEIVERS:

Calvin Johnson – he is going to be a stud in the NFL…is this the year?
Chris Chambers – With Gates not 100% someone has to catch the ball.
Rashied Davis – Devin Hester is not a starting WR in the NFL…sorry!
Bryant Johnson – If Alex Smith throws for 4000 yards…someone has to catch the ball
Eddie Royal – could surprise if he gets a chance.

TIGHT ENDS:

Greg Olsen – fast, smart…just a matter of time
Alge Crumpler – in a TE oriented system now…will be VY’s best friend if stays healthy
LJ Smith – Health is the only thing holding him back
Ben Patrick – Size, hands, speed…has the tools…
Will Heller – again has the tools…in a passing system.

BUSTS:

John Kitna – Martz is gone…so are 4000 yards
Eli Manning – 23 td’s and 20 ints…Super Bowl winning QB, which stats help you in fantasy more?
Derek Anderson – He may be OK, but he is not a top 5 QB!
Willis McGahee – Something scares me about him in 2008
Jamal Lewis – There is no such thing as a fountain of youth..I see a drop off
Julius Jones – I just don’t see stud RB..plus will his TD’s be vulture?
Bobby Engram – no way he duplicates 2007
Roddy White – may have a ROOKIE QB throwing to him for a long part of the year.
Desmond Clark – They drafted Mr. Olsen for a reason
Randy McMichael – never could count on him, why start now

KICKERS:

Rob Bironas – He can’t duplicate 2007…no way…good kicker, but do not overvalue him

MARQUES COLSTON AWARD NOMINEES

MARCUS MONK (WR) – 6’4” 212 ran a 4.41 in his pro-day…plays in CHICAGO…
JACOB TAMME (TE) – If Dallas Clark goes down…watch out for this guy!

JOSH MORGAN (WR) – If he makes the team in SF…could surprise!

COULD GO EITHER WAY…could be a sleeper…could be a bust…flip a coin:

RONNIE BROWN – coming off of ACL surgery, had a great start to 2007…has RICKY WILLIAMS looming…???

Go to www.fansfantasyfootball.com

for all your Fantasy Football needs!

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This Is What It’s All About

Posted on 04 August 2008 by roblong

While at Ravens’ Training Camp, I try to stand near the guys who win championships in the NFL. I enjoy watching what the offensive and defensive linemen are doing.

As I sit and watch the men in purple, I’m alarmed at what’s happening at the tackle positions. Jason Brown, Marshal Yanda, and Ben Grubbs have been very impressive.

However, if the Ravens don’t have a player who steps up to protect the quarterback, you may need three quarterbacks this season.

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