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Ravens-Broncos: Five predictions for Thursday night

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Ravens-Broncos: Five predictions for Thursday night

Posted on 04 September 2013 by Luke Jones

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

It was less than eight months ago when the Ravens met the Denver Broncos in one of the great contests in NFL playoff history as Baltimore prevailed in a 38-35 double-overtime thriller to advance to the AFC Championship game.

Now, fast-forward to the present as the Ravens return to the scene with a different look than includes 19 new players on the 53-man roster and the Broncos will see former Pro Bowl defensive end Elvis Dumervil wearing purple, creating plenty of intrigue for the NFL’s season-opening game.

It’s time to go on record as the Ravens meet Denver for the 10th time ever in the regular season and own a 5-4 advantage despite a 1-3 regular-season record in Denver. Of course, the Ravens are also 2-0 against the Broncos in postseason play as Denver stewed over its disappointing loss as the No. 1 seed in the AFC throughout the offseason.

Here’s what to expect as the Ravens open their season in prime time for the third time in the last four seasons …

1. Much like last January, the Ravens will go vertical early on as Joe Flacco connects with Torrey Smith for a long touchdown in the first half. Offensive coordinator Jim Caldwell may need to rely more on the running game this season because of the uncertainty at wide receiver and tight end, but a conservative approach isn’t the way to beat Peyton Manning and an explosive Denver passing game. The Broncos will not have Pro Bowl linebacker Von Miller due to his six-game suspension, meaning the offensive line should give Flacco plenty of time to throw deep. Some deep shots will also back up the Denver safeties, opening up some intermediate space for tight ends Ed Dickson and Dallas Clark and slot receiver Brandon Stokley to work. If Flacco can find success with those throws, it will only create more room in the box to get Ray Rice and Bernard Pierce going in the running game.

2. Daryl Smith will lead the Ravens in tackles in the first game of the post-Ray Lewis era. Dumervil’s signing received the most attention this offseason, but the presence of the 31-year-old Smith has been a welcome addition to an otherwise inexperienced group of inside linebackers that includes Josh Bynes and second-round pick Arthur Brown. For what it’s worth, Smith looked like the Ravens’ best defensive player of the preseason and while you wouldn’t expect that to hold true during the season, he had the reputation for being stout against the run and serving capably in pass coverage in his nine years with the Jacksonville Jaguars. The additions of Smith and Brown will hopefully help the pass defense in the middle intermediate portion of the field, which has been a major weakness for several years now. Smith’s quiet demeanor and maturity might be the perfect fit for a guy assuming the position formerly held by the future Hall of Famer Lewis.

3. Manning will keep an improved Ravens defense on the field, causing the unit to wilt in the second half. Baltimore did an admirable job handling the altitude in a single-digit temperature last January, but Thursday’s forecast calls for temperatures in the mid-80s, presenting a different challenge in terms of conditioning. Even with the improvements to their front seven, the Ravens are still fielding a secondary with question marks ranging from the effectiveness of Lardarius Webb coming back from his second ACL surgery in four seasons to the ability of Michael Huff and James Ihedigbo to cover the middle of the field. Pressuring Manning will clearly be critical as it was last January, but the Broncos just have too much firepower to hold them down entirely. It will intriguing to see what kind of a rapport Manning has built with free-agent acquisition Wes Welker at this early stage, but the size of wide receivers Demaryius Thomas and Eric Decker on the outside will be a very difficult matchup.

4. Struggling to find open targets in the middle of the field, Flacco tosses a second-half interception to Broncos safety Rahim Moore. The most dynamic change that Caldwell brought to the offense when he assumed Cam Cameron’s coordinator duties last season was the willingness to use the middle of the field in the passing game, but continuing that without Anquan Boldin and Dennis Pitta in the mix will be the biggest challenge facing Flacco this season. The reality is no one really knows if the combination of Dickson, Stokley, and Clark will be enough to fill the void of two outstanding targets the sixth-year quarterback used in the middle of the field to the point that he could be bold in throwing passes up for grabs. In contrast, Moore has heard the criticism and jokes throughout the offseason about his gaffe of allowing Jones to get behind him on the game-tying score at the end of regulation last January. Trailing late in the game, Flacco will try to force a pass down the seam to Dickson that’s picked off by Moore, which gives the maligned safety a tiny sliver of revenge.

5. The Ravens will compete ferociously, but an incomplete offense will be the deciding factor in handing John Harbaugh the first Week 1 loss of his tenure in a 24-21 final. Baltimore is a good football team, but trying to figure out how good is anyone’s guess with so many question marks offensively and new pieces defensively. It’s a lot to ask that all to come together against such a formidable opponent in the opening game of the season. The Ravens undoubtedly feel motivated to perform well on a national stage as the defending Super Bowl champions who were also forced to open the season on the road, but the Broncos and their fans have thought about this opportunity for the entire offseason and will treat the game like it’s the Super Bowl. Not enough offense and a few too many leaks defensively against an elite opponent will lead to the Ravens coming up a little short. To beat a team like Denver, you’re often faced with a shootout and the Ravens aren’t built for that just yet.

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Ravens defense aiming to make expectations reality in post-Lewis era

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Ravens defense aiming to make expectations reality in post-Lewis era

Posted on 03 September 2013 by Luke Jones

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

OWINGS MILLS, Md. — The Ravens heard the questions, the concerns, and the doubts about their once-proud defense in the weeks and months that followed their win in Super Bowl XLVII.

How would they survive without the retiring Ray Lewis, arguably the greatest middle linebacker in NFL history and unquestionably the leader and face of the franchise for their entire 17-year existence? What would they do to replace future Hall of Fame safety Ed Reed’s presence in the defensive backfield as well as in the locker room? And how could they afford to lose younger talents such as Paul Kruger, Dannell Ellerbe, Bernard Pollard, and Cary Williams in a quest to rebuild an aging and frequently-ineffective defense?

Those who downplayed Lewis’ departure because of his declining play over the final seasons of his career couldn’t overlook the colossal void in leadership and identity that needed to be addressed for an organization that both empowered and depended upon his presence. And after years of watching former Baltimore defensive players escape Lewis’ shadow before finding that the grass wasn’t greener elsewhere, the Ravens themselves will now see how they fare without him.

“In the spring, everybody was hitting the panic button on us because of the guys we lost,” Pro Bowl linebacker and 2011 Defensive Player of the Year Terrell Suggs said. “Even though we were very sad to see those guys go, the show must go on.”

The time for change was right as general manager Ozzie Newsome remembered what some had seemingly forgotten while basking in the image of confetti dropping in New Orleans in a storybook ending for the 2012 Ravens. Though praised for a “bend but don’t break” style that was good enough to complement quarterback Joe Flacco’s incredible postseason performance, the Baltimore defense finished 17th in total defense, tied for 12th in points allowed, 20th against the run, 17th against the pass, and tied for 15th in sacks.

Frankly, the defensive numbers and overall performance were un-Raven-like as Baltimore was weak along the defensive line as well as at safety, prompting Newsome to trade wide receiver Anquan Boldin and his $6 million base salary in 2013 to clear just enough salary cap space to rebuild the defense in terms of both talent and leadership. Defensive ends Chris Canty and Marcus Spears would provide improved depth upfront while free safety Michael Huff seemed like a good bet to, at worst, match the declining play of Reed for a fraction of the cost that the Houston Texans paid for the longtime Raven’s services in free agency.

The prize of the group, however, was Denver Broncos defensive end Elvis Dumervil, who was released due to a contract-restructuring snafu made by his former agent and joined the Ravens after signing a five-year deal worth a maximum value of $35 million. It appeared to be a bargain for a three-time Pro Bowl selection whose work ethic and leadership have been praised by everyone in the organization from the moment he stepped foot in Owings Mills in the spring.

“I think [it comes with] the way you play on the field and how you lead by example,” Dumervil said. “Leadership doesn’t come with talking or speech — it’s just how you carry yourself. I’ve always been a leader. That’s just natural for me, and I think I’ve learned how to follow before I can lead.”

After drafting four defensive players in the first four rounds of April’s draft, Newsome had one more trick up his sleeve in signing longtime Jacksonville Jaguars linebacker Daryl Smith to a one-year deal on the same day the Super Bowl champs visited President Barack Obama at the White House. The 31-year-old has stepped in to play Lewis’ Mike linebacker position while looking like the team’s best player in the preseason, recording 14 tackles and a sack while showing steady ability in pass coverage.

Initially perceived as little more than an insurance policy for injured inside linebacker Jameel McClain, Smith has been praised by everyone in the organization, ranging from his new defensive teammates to quarterback Joe Flacco. Smith’s personality couldn’t be more different from Lewis, which might be a positive while handling such an unenviable task of replacing a legend.

“He doesn’t say a lot, because he’s just about business, and then you sit down and talk to him and realize the depth of his character and personality,” head coach John Harbaugh said. “He’s a great family man, he’s a mature guy, he’s a man. And he’s also – I really believe – one of the most underrated defensive players in football over the last eight [or] nine years. We feel pretty fortunate that he’s here right now.”

The common threads among the five veteran newcomers were the leadership qualities they displayed with their former teams. It was clear the Ravens weren’t simply placing the defensive leadership crown on the heads of Suggs and Pro Bowl defensive tackle Haloti Ngata alone.

There was no replacing Lewis or Reed, but the Ravens appear to be pleased with their by-committee approach as they enter Thursday night’s opener against the Denver Broncos. On paper and in the controlled environment of spring and summer practices, the transition has appeared organic and seamless.

Suggs will be viewed as the new figurehead, but the 30-year-old has acknowledged repeatedly that he’s not looking to be the next Lewis and has appeared more subdued than in past seasons. Overall, it’s a Baltimore defense that lacks the bravado of past units without the camera-friendly Lewis out in front, but the quiet confidence veteran newcomers and young players alike have expressed seems appropriate in a new era.

“It’s different like in any organization when you lose guys that have been there for so long that they kind of assume those roles,” defensive coordinator Dean Pees said. “I think everybody else kind of sat back and just said, ‘Well, that’s really kind of not my role. That’s kind of Ed [Reed] and Ray’s [Lewis] role.’ Now those guys are stepping up, and I don’t think it’s any one particular guy who’s saying, ‘OK, I’m going to be the new Ray Lewis.’ It’s just a bunch of guys collectively stepping up and showing some leadership.”

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A. Jones undergoing tests for undisclosed illness, McPhee limited Tuesday

Posted on 03 September 2013 by Luke Jones

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

OWINGS MILLS, Md. — There were no changes to practice attendance for the Ravens on Tuesday as they continued preparations for their season-opening game against the Denver Broncos.

Already ruled out for Thursday night’s game at Sports Authority Field at Mile High, defensive tackle Arthur Jones (undisclosed illness) was once again missing from the field and hasn’t practiced since playing in the Ravens’ third preseason game on Aug. 22. Coach John Harbaugh reiterated Tuesday that the health issue is not related to football and once again deferred to Jones to decide what details he eventually discloses.

“It’s not anything that’s like life-threatening or anything like that, but it’s non-football related,” Harbaugh said. “We’ve just got to get some tests done to make sure he’s OK. Until the tests come out the right way, he’s not going to be able to play. It’s something that I’ve been told now they can’t tell you how long it will be. It could be a week; it could be indefinitely. We don’t think it’s going to be the second part of it.”

According to the Ravens coach, Jones will see a specialist and undergo further tests on Wednesday as veteran defensive lineman Marcus Spears is expected to take his place along the defensive line in the base 3-4 defense.

A couple hours after Harbaugh’s update, the fourth-year lineman wrote a message on his official Twitter account for the first time since Aug. 19.

“As many of you know i’m [sic] having personal health issues,” Jones wrote. “Please respect my privacy. We as athlete’s [sic] go through real life problems also. Thank You all for your love and support. Ravens fans are the best!! See you all on the field soon!!!”

Defensive tackle Brandon Williams (toe), wide receiver Deonte Thompson (foot), and offensive lineman Ryan Jensen (foot) were also absent during the portion of practice open to the media. None of those three are expected to play against the Broncos.

Pass-rush specialist Pernell McPhee (knee) was the only new addition to Tuesday’s injury report as he continues to manage a sore knee and was a limited participant.

Of course, tight end Dennis Pitta (hip) was officially declared out for Thursday’s game and is expected to be placed on injured reserve with the designation to return when NFL teams are allowed to use that exemption beginning at 4 p.m. on Tuesday afternoon.

“I think we’ll have an announcement for that on Wednesday,” Harbaugh said. “[We'll] just get some final evaluations from the doctors and make sure that we’re doing the right thing for everybody involved.”

This would free up an open spot on the 53-man roster in time for Thursday night’s game.

Tight end Ed Dickson (hamstring) was once again present and working after being listed as a full participant on Monday’s injury report. He made his return to the practice field two weeks ago and has looked good, according to Harbaugh.

“If I can practice out there, I feel like I can play in any game,” said Dickson, who added that he had never suffered such a severe hamstring injury in his football career. “With practice, personally, I feel like I can play. In the end, it’s not my decision to say I can go out there and [potentially] hurt the team by re-injuring anything.”

As they’ve done in past seasons, Ravens players practiced their jersey swap that’s traditionally seen on Fridays during normal game weeks. Running back Ray Rice wore retired linebacker Ray Lewis’ No. 52 jersey while cornerback Chykie Brown sported former safety Ed Reed’s No. 20. Rice’s close friendship with Lewis is common knowledge, and Reed took Brown under his win in their two years together and the pair often swapped jerseys on Fridays last season.

The Ravens will hold a closed walk-through on Wednesday before departing for Denver later in the day.

Here is Tuesday’s official injury report:

BALTIMORE
OUT: DT Art Jones (illness – non-football injury), TE Dennis Pitta (hip)
DID NOT PARTICIPATE: C Ryan Jensen (foot), WR Deonte Thompson (foot), DT Brandon Williams (toe)
LIMITED: DE Pernell McPhee (knee)
FULL PARTICIPATION: TE Ed Dickson (thigh)

DENVER
OUT: none
DID NOT PARTICIPATE: RB C.J. Anderson (knee), CB Champ Bailey (foot), TE Joel Dreessen (knee)
LIMITED: G Chris Kuper (ankle)
FULL PARTICIPATION: DE Robert Ayers (Achilles), T Ryan Clady (shoulder), QB Brock Osweiler (left shoulder), WR Wes Welker (ankle)

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Top 10 Baseball Distractions

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Top 10 Baseball Distractions

Posted on 02 September 2013 by Glenn Clark

(We’re off Monday, so T10BD comes a day early. Enjoy. Celebrate. Don’t labor. Cheers. For week of Tuesday, 9/3 to Monday, 9/9.)

Honorable Mention: Golf-Champions Tour Montreal Championship (Friday-Sunday 6:30pm from Sainte-Julie, Canada on Golf Channel); Boxing: Chris Arreola vs. Seth Mitchell (Saturday 10:30pm from Indio, CA live on Showtime); WNBA: Chicago Sky @ Washington Mystics (Sunday 4pm from Verizon Center live on Monumental Network)

10. Keith Urban (Thursday 7:30pm Inner Harbor); Anthony Hamilton/Marsha Ambrosius (Saturday 8pm Pier Six Pavilion); Alan Jackson (Friday 6pm Merriweather Post Pavilion); Maroon 5 (Friday 7pm Jiffy Lube Live); Old Man Brown (Friday 8pm 8×10 Club); Eddie Monday (Friday 8pm Rams Head on Stage); The Romantics (Saturday 8pm Rams Head Center Stage); Blondie/X (Monday 7pm 9:30 Club); Carolina Chocolate Drops (Tuesday 7:30pm The Hamilton), Dangermuffin (Thursday 7:30pm The Hamilton); Marc Roberge/Richard On (Friday 7pm National Zoo); Butch Walker (Monday 7pm U Street Music Hall); Bastille “Bad Blood”, John Legend “Love In The Future” and Nine Inch Nails “Hesitation Marks” available in stores/on iTunes (Tuesday)

I really don’t want you to know that I’m WAY into Keith Urban. Honestly. Please don’t tell anyone.

Hopefully my affection for Old Man Brown will help to make you forget my previous statement…

How much do you think it will cost me to have Carolina Chocolate Drops play my wedding?

I’ve been using “Pompeii” by Bastille as a rejoiner recently. Are you in?

9. Glenn Clark’s 30th Birthday (Friday 2pm-6pm Noble’s Federal Hill); Kevin Pollak (Sunday 6pm & 9pm Rams Head Center Stage); York Fair (Friday-Monday York Fairgrounds); Baltimore Comic-Con (Saturday & Sunday Baltimore Convention Center); Drew Carey (Friday & Saturday Baltimore Comedy Factory); Godfrey (Thursday-Saturday DC Improv); Maryland Renaissance Festival (Saturday & Sunday RennFest Fairgrounds); Maryland Seafood Festival (Saturday & Sunday Sandy Point State Park); Bikemore: Music to Your Gears (Saturday 3pm Druid Hill Park); Riddick” out in theaters (Friday); Now You See Me” available on Blu-Ray/DVD (Tuesday)

I’ve said publicly that there are two options for birthday gifts for me-which I’m sure you’ve been thinking about for awhile now. One is the hat my friend Tara is holding in this picture…

The other can be found on eBay…

Like I said, either is fine.

(Continued on Page 2…)

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Flacco excited to see what rookie receivers bring to table

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Flacco excited to see what rookie receivers bring to table

Posted on 01 September 2013 by Luke Jones

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

OWINGS MILLS, Md. — It wasn’t long ago that Joe Flacco joked about not knowing the names of most new teammates on the Ravens roster after an offseason filled with changes.

However, the Ravens quarterback isn’t saying that any longer about a pair of rookie receivers who could factor heavily into the Baltimore passing attack as early as Thursday’s opener against the Denver Broncos. Undrafted free agent Marlon Brown and seventh-round pick Aaron Mellette began the summer in relative anonymity in Flacco’s eyes but grabbed his attention after the pair combined to make 19 catches for 309 yards and four touchdowns in four preseason games.

“They’re big, they’re strong, they’re fast, and they’re physical,” Flacco said. “They obviously have some talent. I think they are going to be guys that help us out a lot — in the short term [and] long term. We still have to go out there and play and feed them the ball and see what they can do.”

Mellette entered training camp as the bigger household name among Ravens fans after being taken with a seventh-round pick back in April. Playing for FCS school Elon, the 6-foot-2 receiver made an astonishing 304 catches for 4,254 yards and 44 touchdowns in his college career and grabbed 97 passes for 1,398 yards and 18 touchdowns in his senior year alone.

The 6-foot-5 Brown didn’t live up to expectations as a prized recruit at the University of Georgia but could be an attractive option in the red zone with his statuesque frame. The Ravens have lacked a wide receiver of his height during Flacco’s career after 2012 sixth-round pick Tommy Streeter failed to pan out.

Brown finally appeared to be realizing his potential in his senior season with the Bulldogs when he caught 27 catches for 469 yards and four touchdowns before tearing the ACL in his left knee in a game against Ole Miss on Nov. 3, 2012. The 22-year-old is still working his way back to full strength — missing spring organized team activities and even a handful this summer — but his ability began to shine as he became more comfortable physically and mentally in the Ravens offense.

“I have a mindset where I wanted to make the team and ultimately make a difference on the team, whether it’s on special teams or offense,” said Brown, who was in the weight room when coach John Harbaugh personally informed him that he’d made the team. “That’s what I’m trying to do. They haven’t really told me my primary role or anything. I’m going to go out there and work hard and if they tell me to go in, I’m going to go in.”

The biggest compliment paid to both Brown and Mellette is the amount of polish they showed in practices and preseason games despite their lack of experience. Unlike an array of other young receivers that failed to show marked improvement over the course of the summer, Brown and Mellette climbed from the third-string offense and working with third quarterback Caleb Hanie to eventually receive opportunities with Flacco and the starters over the final two weeks of the summer.

It was this climb that contributed to the likes of Tandon Doss, David Reed, and LaQuan Williams being let go.

“They don’t feel like rookies out there,” Harbaugh said. “Marlon has had the advantage of playing at a big program in the Southeastern Conference, and I think that shows. Aaron has had the advantage of having caught hundreds of balls in his college career.”

With Torrey Smith, Jacoby Jones, and Brandon Stokley ahead of the rookies on the depth chart, it remains to be seen how big of a role each will play in the early stages of the season. During Sunday’s practice, Brown and Mellette were wearing No. 87 and 88 jerseys, which appeared to be a product of the pair playing the scout-team roles of Denver wide receivers Demaryius Thomas and Eric Decker in preparation for Thursday’s opener.

The Ravens only hope that Mellette and Brown will one day make their mark in a way similar to that talented pair with the Broncos, forcing opponents’ scout-team receivers to wear their No. 13 and 14 jerseys in preparation.

But a simple continuation of the improvement they showed over the course of the preseason would be an encouraging start for the Ravens.

“I would anticipate that those two guys will be a factor here going forward,” Harbaugh said. “How much they’ll play early, or how much they’ll be a part of the game plan and those kinds of things are really, really hard to say.”

Webb ready to go

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Ravens waive WR Williams, begin forming practice squad

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Ravens waive WR Williams, begin forming practice squad

Posted on 01 September 2013 by Luke Jones

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

OWINGS MILLS, Md. — The Ravens were back on the practice field Sunday after formulating their 53-man roster but already made a notable change to the group traveling to Denver to take on the Broncos in Thursday’s opener.

Third-year wide receiver LaQuan Williams was waived after initially making the 53-man roster on Saturday. He suffered a hamstring injury early in the final preseason game and wasn’t present for practice Sunday before the Ravens announced the roster move. The Ravens designated Williams as waived-injured in the official transaction, meaning he will receive an injury settlement from the organization.

In two seasons with the Ravens, the Poly graduate and Baltimore native caught four passes for 48 yards and appeared in 23 games primarily as a special-teams contributor. Originally an undrafted free agent out of the University of Maryland in 2011, Williams was one of the feel-good stories of the last few years as a local product getting to play for the team he grew up rooting for.

As for Sunday’s practice, defensive linemen Arthur Jones (personal health issue) and Brandon Williams (undisclosed), wide receiver Deonte Thompson (foot), offensive lineman Ryan Jensen (foot), and tight end Dennis Pitta (hip) were all absent during the portion of practice open to the media. Jensen and Pitta remain on the 53-man roster despite rehabbing from long-term injuries.

Jones hasn’t practiced since the third preseason game, which is concerning with him being a starting defensive tackle throughout the preseason. Coach John Harbaugh said last week that the “personal health thing” was not serious but declined to reveal any other details.

The good news for the Baltimore front seven was the return of pass-rush specialist Pernell McPhee to the practice field for the first time in nearly two weeks. McPhee had been dealing with a knee injury that forced him out of the final two preseason games of the summer.

The first injury report of the week will not be released until Monday.

Baltimore also announced the signing of seven players to its practice squad as tight end Matt Furstenburg, safety Omar Brown, offensive linemen Reggie Stephens, Jordan Devey, and J.J. Unga, defensive lineman Cody Larsen, and linebacker Brandon Copeland are all rejoining the organization after being waived at the end of the preseason. This was by design, according to Harbaugh.

“We’re really hopeful that that’s the case,” Harbaugh said before the signings were announced. “We would like for all the guys, as much as possible, on the practice squad to be guys who were here with us [in the summer].”

The practice-squad players received a slow clap from the players on the regular roster as they jogged onto the practice field as Harbaugh shouted, “Congratulations! Now, get your butts out here!”

The Ravens had one spot remaining Sunday afternoon after they learned running back Bobby Rainey was claimed by the Cleveland Browns. The organization had hoped to re-sign him to the developmental squad after a good preseason.

Former Ravens receiver Tommy Streeter was also picked up by the Buffalo Bills to join their practice squad after he was waived last Sunday.

 

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NFL announces additional kickoff week events around Baltimore

Posted on 29 August 2013 by WNST Staff

NFL HOSTS KICKOFF EVENTS IN BALTIMORE TO CELEBRATE SUPER BOWL CHAMPION RAVENS & RETURN OF FOOTBALL

 

Events Will Take Place September 3-5

 

2013 NFL Kickoff will bring music, youth football, and a spirit of community to Baltimore as fans nationwide get Back To Football.

The following are opportunities for fans and media to take part in the Kickoff celebrations throughout Baltimore. Fans and media should visit www.nfl.com/kickoff and follow @NFL345 on Twitter for the most up-to-date Kickoff details. 

NFL KICKOFF CONCERT STAGE ARRIVAL

On Monday, September 2 at 6:00 a.m. the NFL Kickoff concert stage will be tugged into Baltimore’s Inner Harbor across from the Maryland Science Center. Media can capture the first shots of the stage that KEITH URBAN will perform on Thursday night as part of the unprecedented celebration for the Super Bowl champion Baltimore Ravens.

 

B-ROLL OPPORTUNITY: RAVENS LOGOS PAINTED ON YOUTH FIELD

On Monday, September 2 at 12:30 p.m., media can capture the iconic Baltimore Ravens logo being painted on the field that will be home to the NFL PLAY 60 Youth Football Festival at UTZ Field at Patterson Park.  Baltimore Ravens Director of Fields and Grounds DON FOLLETT will be on site along with executives from the NFL’s Creative Department.

 

NFL KICKOFF COMMUNITY LEGACY PROJECT

Former Ravens players JAMAL LEWIS and DUANE STARKS will join volunteers from the NFL, United Way and the National Dairy Council for a community service project at Hilton Elementary (3301 Carlisle Ave.) on Wednesday, September 4 from 9:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., Baltimore Mayor STEPHANIE RAWLINGS-BLAKE will take part in the event at 11:30 a.m., followed by a ribbon cutting ceremony. Hilton Elementary was identified by the Ravens and the National Dairy Council for their successful participation in the Fuel Up to Play 60 program.  Volunteers will transform the outdoor area behind the school adding a greenhouse and garden beds. In addition, a new active play space will be built to inspire creativity, learning and cooperation among students.

KICKOFF VILLAGE

The NFL Kickoff Village will be open to fans on Wednesday, September 4 from 10:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m. and Thursday, September 5 from 10:00 a.m. to 8:15 p.m at McKeldin Square and the Harborplace Amphitheater. This fan zone is free and open to the public and brings fans closer to the NFL through sponsors’ activations and dynamic promotions. Sponsors include: Bridgestone, GMC, Pepsi, Snickers and Verizon. NFL Legends will be on hand both days to sign autographs for fans.

For more information including interview opportunities with NFL executives, contact Joanna Hunter (Joanna.hunter@nfl.com).

 

NFL PLAY 60 YOUTH FOOTBALL FESTIVAL

The NFL PLAY 60 Youth Football Festival will take place Wednesday, September 4 from 11:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. and Thursday, September 5 from 9:00 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. Former Ravens players including Hall of Famer ROD WOODSON and JAMAL LEWIS, KYLE RICHARDSON, JAMIE SHARPER, DUANE STARKS and MATT STOVER will team up with more than 850 students from the area to celebrate the start of the NFL season at UTZ Field at Patterson Park (200 S Linwood Ave). Students will learn NFL FLAG drills and Heads Up Football skills from USA Football coaches and participate in activities with players. Children will also learn about hydration, helmet fitting, and concussion awareness. NFL PLAY 60 partners HOPSports, National Dairy Council and Under Armour will be on-site as part of their ongoing commitment to motivate youth and families to be active.

 

FULL CLINIC SCHEDULE: 

Wednesday, September 4

  • ·         Clinic #1 (12:00-1:00 P.M.): Matt Stover, Kyle Richardson
  • ·         Clinic #2 (1:00-2:00 P.M): Matt Stover, Kyle Richardson
  • ·         Clinic #3   (2:00-3:00 P.M.):  TBA

Thursday, April 25

  • ·         Clinic #1 (10:30-11:30 A.M.): Jamal Lewis
  • ·         Clinic #2 (11:30 A.M.-12:30 P.M): Jamal Lewis
  • ·         Clinic #3   (1:00-2:00 P.M.): Duane Starks
  • ·         Clinic #4   (2:00-3:00 P.M.): Duane Starks
  • ·         Clinic #5   (4:30-5:00 P.M.): Jamie Sharper, Rod Woodson
  • ·         Clinic #6    (5:15-5:45 P.M.): Jamie Sharper, Rod Woodson
  • ·         Clinic #7    (6:00-6:30 P.M.): Jamie Sharper, Rod Woodson

 

UNDER ARMOUR | GE PRESS CONFERENCE ON HEAD HEALTH CHALLENGE II

The NFLGE and Under Armour will team up to kick off the second portion of the Head Health Challenge: Innovative Approaches for Identifying and Preventing Brain Injury on Wednesday, September 4 at 3:00 p.m. at Under Armour Global Headquarters (120 Hull Street, Baltimore). The event will include NFL Commissioner ROGER GOODELL, founder and CEO of Under Armour KEVIN PLANK, and SUE SIEGEL CEO of GE healthyimagination. BOOMER ESIASON will host the event, which also features CAL RIPKEN, JR.(MLB), LAVAR ARRINGTON (NFL) and STEELE STANWICK (Major League Lacrosse), and KELLY O’HARA (National Women’s Soccer League).

NFL BACK TO FOOTBALL RUN & PLAY 60 FUN RUN 

The special NFL Back To Football Run and NFL PLAY 60 Fun Run will take place Wednesday evening, Sept. 4 at M&T Bank Stadium. The Run Series invites fans to celebrate the return of football with a 5K starting at 7:00 p.m.; in addition, a half mile Play 60 Fun Run for youth fans begins at 6:00 p.m. (ages 6-12). Fans 5 and under can also participate in a run at 6:20 p.m. on the field.  The participants will experience the once in a lifetime chance to finish their race on the field of the very stadium where their Super Bowl champions play. Ravens cheerleaders and mascot Poe will be in attendance, and fans have an opportunity to receive autographs from Ravens alumni and take their photo with the Vince Lombardi Trophy.

Ravens alumni JAMAL LEWIS and KYLE RICHARDSON will be in attendance to help kick off the run and cheer on the runners.

Fans interested in participating in the run may sign up here: http://nflrunseries.com/ravens/. 

“NFL KICKOFF 2013 PRESENTED BY PEPSI” CONCERT

Grammy Award-winning singer KEITH URBAN will perform live, with activities beginning at 6:00 p.m. (ET) on Thursday, September 5 for “NFL KICKOFF 2013 PRESENTED BY PEPSI,” the NFL’s 11th anniversary Kickoff celebration to kick off the season and celebrate the Super Bowl champion Baltimore Ravens. The event is free and open to the public.   Urban will perform from a floating stage barge in Baltimore’s Inner Harbor adjacent to the Maryland Science Center. The event will include music, fireworks, a showing of “America’s Game: 2012 Baltimore Ravens,” and a water light show.

To ensure public safety and security, the following items are prohibited: weapons, alcohol, food, beverages, all glass containers, fireworks, all chairs, tents of any kind, barbecue grills of any kind, umbrellas, blankets of any kind, cameras with lens over 12”, obstructive signs and animals other than service animals.

All attendees are subject to search, and prohibited items may not be abandoned at security checkpoints. Please allow adequate time to pass through security checkpoints before activities begin.

Guests can enter the concert site at the Baltimore Visitor Center on Light Street at Conway Street or off of Key Highway between the Science Center and Rash Field.  The entrances will open to the public beginning at 6pm on Thursday, September 5.

Guests may view the concert from the general public viewing areas, which are adjacent to the Maryland Science Center and are directly in front of the stage. Access to the general public viewing areas is first come, first served. Guests also may enjoy the concert from West Shore Park and along the Inner Harbor promenade.

Guests planning to attend the event should follow @NFL345 on Twitter for the most up-to-date concert details.

Simulcast coverage of the 60-minute pregame show will air from 7:30 to 8:30 PM ET on NBC and NFL Network.  The show leads into the season opener between the Ravens and the Denver Broncos at Sport Authority Field at Mile High (NBC, NBCSports.com, Westwood One Radio Sports, 8:30 PM ET).

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We’re going to make some sort of good out of this “Postergate” debacle

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We’re going to make some sort of good out of this “Postergate” debacle

Posted on 29 August 2013 by Glenn Clark

So it’s been a wild 36 hours since I learned that a Denver broadcaster was wandering around vandalizing Joe Flacco posters in the Mile High City. We’ve been through a bunch. If you need to get caught up on the first part, here’s this. This lead to another contentious (and, frankly, stupid) on-air chat with my new “friends” in the Rocky Mountains. Unfortunately, there was also a Deadspin article posted with a startling lack of context, which lead me to have to explain further.

Deadspin was right about one thing. Almost everything about “postergate” in the last day and a half has been absolutely moronic.

So we’re going to change that.

As I’ve stated numerous times over the last day, the biggest issue I’ve had with any of this has been the notion that murder-of any form or any kind-is something funny. On Tuesday, I thought the appropriate way to make that point was to remind someone who was making a joke about murder that murder happens in every city (not just Baltimore) and is not something to joke about. With the benefit of hindsight, I could have cut the conversation off completely when my guest that day made a murder joke. I probably should have. In fact, on Wednesday’s edition of “The Reality Check”, I apologized for not doing that very thing. It was an option I had and didn’t choose to exercise. Thinking upon it further, I should have.

And it’s with that in mind that I’m hellbent on doing something good with this.

We’re hosting our next “Grab a Bud” Happy Hour at Hooters in Towson tonight. For those that haven’t made it out to any of our past events, they’re very low-key gatherings to hang out, rap about sports, enjoy the company of the Hooters girls and drink some beers.

For tonight’s “Grab a Bud” happy hour, I’d like to try to do something better than that.

I want to try to help people that are aggressively working to make sure that come next August, we won’t already have 150 murders on the year in our city.

I have five autographed Joe Flacco caricatures (none of which have been vandalized in any way) to give away tonight. They all look something like this.

They’re the real deal. We watched the Super Bowl MVP sign each and every one. We’ve been holding on to them waiting for the right time to give them away. This is it.

The first five people to come by Hooters Thursday night and make a $25 donation to the Helping Up Mission will walk away with them.

That’s right. We’re not looking for anything crazy…but we will certainly be willing to accept any further donations on the Mission’s behalf. We have partnered with HUM before and we will be doing so again this holiday season with our annual coat drive (a drive that has always been much more about this community than it has been about WNST). If you want to know more about what the Helping Up Mission does, I’d encourage you to check out their site. What they do for our city is truly remarkable.

We’re going to have other giveaways tonight at Hooters, including registering everyone to win a pair of tickets to see both Nick Offerman (next Wednesday) and Kenny Loggins (Sunday, September 15) at the Modell Performing Arts Center at The Lyric. We’ll also have copies of “America’s Game: The 2012 Baltimore Ravens” (debuting Monday 9pm on NFL Network) and more to give away.

But the first five who make $25 donations to the Helping Up Mission will walk away with autographed Joe Flacco caricatures. I hope we’ll raise even more than the $125 for the Mission on the night.

There’s nothing the WNST community-the Baltimore sports community-does better. Even at the height of something stupid and moronic, good will come.

I look forward to seeing you tonight.

-G

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In this I explain my role(?) in Postergate 2013. It’s…weird.

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In this I explain my role(?) in Postergate 2013. It’s…weird.

Posted on 28 August 2013 by Glenn Clark

Perhaps you’ve heard about an awkward moment on “The Reality Check” Tuesday on WNST. Then again, perhaps you haven’t.

Admittedly, I didn’t know a thing about “Postergate” until roughly 6pm Tuesday. We had a great edition of “The Reality Check” and as we were winding down I started seeing some rumblings on Twitter about a Denver sportscaster going after Joe Flacco posters which had been displayed around The Mile High City in the lead-up to the NFL Kickoff Game next Thursday night.

At the top of this story is an example of the biggest Flacco banner, hanging at Sports Authority Field.

When I found out that the sportscaster in question was CBS Denver’s Vic Lombardi, I told my producer Ryan Chell that he should give him a call. My thought in that moment was that perhaps we could have a fun conversation about the weird nature of what was going on. Ryan made the call, Lombardi said he could come on at 6:30 and I agreed to stay on-air late to facilitate the chat.

In the moments after learning he would come on, I started asking listeners for suggestions about good Denver jokes I could make. Legalizing weed, Peyton Manning’s neck, Rahim Moore and the elevation all seemed like fairly harmless topics that could make fun a fun debate.

As I continued to do my research about what had happened in Denver, I stumbled upon Lombardi’s Twitter account. While there, I read a Tweet I didn’t find to be funny at all.

Perhaps people outside of our city think this type of thing is hilarious. I mean, there are some twisted people in this world. I don’t. I don’t think there’s anything remotely funny about the fact that 150 people have been murdered in this city in 2013. I find it to be terribly disturbing.

In fact, I find it to be disturbing in the exact same way I found it to be terribly disturbing when a gunman walked into a Denver movie theater in 2012 and murdered 12 people and injured another 70. I didn’t laugh once about that. I’d like to think no one else did either.

For the purposes of full disclosure, I read this Tweet from Lombardi just before Ryan was set to call him for his appearance. On-air, I suddenly said “I’m not sure this is a good idea.” I realized that it would be almost impossible for me to have any “fun” in the conversation because I was so bothered by what Lombardi had Tweeted.

Instead, something else happened. I don’t exactly know how to explain it. The words that come to mind are along the lines of “freight train”. I haven’t been able to transcribe the whole thing, but I’d encourage you to take a listen here.

Whoa.

I appreciate Alex Strouf for reminding me late Tuesday night of what might have been my best line in the whole thing.

“You are a grown man who defaced posters, and you’re calling me a douche.”

Oh, right. If you listened, you’ll know that at one point Lombardi called me a douche. That happened.

For what it’s worth, Lombardi later offered SOME level of an apology for the absolutely uncalled for references to crime in Baltimore.

I will apparently be appearing on Lombardi’s show on The Fan in Denver Tuesday morning (10am hour EST). I told him I wouldn’t appear unless he reiterated the apology on-air for the people of Denver to hear. He suggested I owed apologies as well, I have absolutely no idea what for-but if I come up with something I’ll pass it along.

People have mentioned to me that if the Ravens had hosted the game (as they should have as defending Super Bowl champs had it not been for a scheduling conflict), it would likely mean that there would instead be Tom Brady posters around Charm City promoting a Ravens-Patriots matchup. I will admit that I probably wouldn’t be okay with it. I’ll also admit that as an adult, I probably wouldn’t have been the one taking duct tape and markers around town.

At the end of the night, all I can keep thinking is “this is all so stupid”. An apparently respected broadcaster melted down on my radio show Tuesday afternoon about posters. For some reason, he decided to take his anger out on Baltimore instead of the NFL, who decided to post the banners-or the Broncos and city of Denver, who clearly agreed to have the banners put up.

But I guess it made for some great radio.

-G

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Ravens reunite with former Super Bowl hero Stokley

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Ravens reunite with former Super Bowl hero Stokley

Posted on 10 August 2013 by Ryan Chell

The Baltimore Ravens plan to sign former wide receiver Brandon Stokley, a source told the Baltimore Sun.

Stokley, 37, was a fourth-round pick of the Baltimore Ravens in the 1999 NFL Draft out of Louisiana-Lafayette, and was a part of the Ravens’ Super Bowl XXV victory, catching a touchdown pass from quarterback Trent Dilfer in Baltimore’s 35-7 victory over the New York Giants.

With the Ravens’ receiving corps reeling over the losses of WR Anquan Boldin in the off-season via trade and the season-ending injury to TE Dennis Pitta, the Ravens are looking for veteran leadership in which GM Ozzie Newsome and Eric DeCosta-all too familiar with Stokley-are hoping the 37-year old receiver can provide.

Stokley talked with WNST host Thyrl Nelson at the end of July, and said he wasn’t ready to call it quits.

“”No. I don’t think so,” Stokley said when asked if retirement was approaching.  “I’m training, staying in shape, and working hard.”

But Stokley, who was on the market along with fellow ex-Broncos WR Brandon Lloyd, knew what probably had to happen for him to find his way back to an NFL team-including the Ravens.

“Usually in my position, it takes an injury, so I stay in shape,” Stokley told Nelson. “”I’m just waiting to see what pops up during training camp, and if not, I just stayed in shape for a little while longer.”

Stokley even thought that Baltimore could be a possibility.

“Maybe you all can put a good word in for me with Ozzie,” Stokley joked.

Stokley played in 15 games last season for the Denver Broncos and started nine. He caught 45 passes for 544 yards and five touchdowns, including a score in the Broncos AFC Divisional game loss to the Ravens.

Stokely’s career numbers are 384 receptions, 5,224 yards and 39 TDs in his near-15 year NFL resume.

Stokley’s best season came in 2004 with quarterback Peyton Manning under center-a season in which Stokley was a part of Manning’s then-record-breaking season catching 68 passes for 1,077 yards and 10 TDs.

Stokley has suited up for the Ravens and Broncos in two different stints should the deal be reached, as well as the Colts, Seahawks, and Giants.

Follow @WNST and me @RyanChell87 for your Ravens news! WNST-We Never Stop Talking!

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