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Ravens-Bills: Five predictions for Sunday

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Ravens-Bills: Five predictions for Sunday

Posted on 28 September 2013 by Luke Jones

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Making only their second regular-season trip to Buffalo in the 18-year history of the franchise, the Ravens will try to move to 3-1 at the quarter pole despite a plethora of injuries and offensive inconsistency in the month of September.

At 1-2 and playing rookie EJ Manuel at quarterback, the Bills don’t appear to be a major threat on paper, but their losses to the Patriots and Jets were by a combined nine points and they possess the fifth-ranked rushing offense in the NFL. However, the Bills’ injury situation is even worse than the Ravens as they have already ruled out five players for Sunday’s game.

It’s time to go on record as these teams meet for the sixth time in the regular-season series with the Ravens holding a 3-2 edge. The Ravens are 0-1 at Ralph Wilson Stadium after dropping a 19-14 final there in 2007 but won the most recent meeting between Baltimore and Buffalo, a 37-34 overtime final at M&T Bank Stadium in 2010.

Here’s what to expect as the Ravens look for their first road win of the season …

1. The Ravens’ struggling running game will eclipse the 100-yard mark for the first time this season. Much has been made about the abysmal 2.6 yards per carry average on the ground — 31st in the NFL — but Baltimore has faced talented front sevens in each of the first three games. The Bills are tied for 30th against the run and gave up 182 yards on the ground to the Jets last week, leaving the Ravens no excuse to get their running game on track in Week 4. Ray Rice isn’t guaranteed to play, but backup Bernard Pierce will receive a larger-than-normal workload even if the former is available. Players and coaches continue to say the offensive line and running game are close to being righted and they’ll take a step in the right direction this week. A strong performance against the Bills doesn’t mean the running game is “fixed,” but it will make everyone feel a lot better.

2. Wide receiver Torrey Smith will exploit a banged-up Buffalo secondary for a long touchdown score. Bills cornerback Leodis McKelvin and free safety Jairus Byrd are both listed as questionable and cornerback Stephon Gilmore is out for Sunday’s game, leaving what’s already a questionable secondary — ranked 19th in the NFL — that much flimsier. Smith is off to a strong start this season, but the Ravens have been forced to use him differently as he’s caught more short-to-intermediate passes and was even lining up in the slot a fair amount in the Houston game. However, the Ravens made it a point to go vertical to Smith early in the second half against the Texans and the big yardage eventually paid off with a touchdown later in the drive. The third-year wide receiver will find the end zone for the first time this season, adding to his already-impressive numbers through the first quarter of the year.

3. The Baltimore defense will surrender its first touchdown since the season opener, but Dean Pees’ unit will force two turnovers. The Ravens have made a major statement over the last two weeks to convince observers that the season-opening debacle was the aberration and not who they are defensively. However, Pees talked earlier in the week about his defense needing to force more turnovers as they only have three takeaways in their first three games, which is tied for 10th in the AFC. With the offense struggling to find its identity, the Ravens will need their defense to not only perform at a high level on a weekly basis but create short fields for their offensive counterparts. Manuel has thrown only one interception in his first three games, but a ferocious pass rush could force a sack-and-strip play if the rookie isn’t aware in the pocket and the secondary will be the benefactor of the pressure upfront. The Bills’ read option won’t give the Ravens too much trouble as there’s too much speed and discipline in the front seven for Fred Jackson or C.J. Spiller to have huge days.

4. Flacco will continue his trend of posting pedestrian numbers while being efficient on third down and taking care of the football. Nothing about the Super Bowl XLVII MVP’s stats impress you or will garner Pro Bowl consideration to this point in the season, but you have to admire the way he’s played without his top two receiving options from last season. Beyond Smith, the Ravens lack speed at the wide receiver and tight end positions, making it a necessity for Flacco to read defenses better than ever and to trust what he sees. Flacco’s highest completion percentage (62.8 percent) has come on third down this season as the Ravens are converting 44.4 percent of their third-down opportunities (eighth in the NFL) with very little help from the running game. He won’t have a 300-yard game, but Flacco will throw two touchdowns and — just as importantly — won’t have any big turnovers to give the Bills a chance to swing the momentum of the game.

5. The Ravens won’t make it pretty, but they will remain in control in a 24-16 win to improve to 3-1. No one thinks the Bills are as good as Baltimore, but expecting the Ravens to blow out anyone — unless they have the benefit of a defensive score and a special-teams touchdown like last week — on the road with their inconsistent offense is wishful thinking until they prove otherwise. The running game will appear competent but is still a work in progress and Flacco will be efficient once again, but the defense will be the biggest reason why the Ravens will improve to 3-1. Buffalo appears to have potential with Manuel at the helm, but the rookie isn’t ready to deal with another relentless pass rush after he was sacked eight times by the Jets last week. The score will remain close, but the Ravens won’t struggle to the point of making you think they’re in serious danger of losing to Buffalo, either.

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Ravens prepared to contain Bills’ Manuel, read option

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Ravens prepared to contain Bills’ Manuel, read option

Posted on 26 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 spent time throughout the offseason preparing to stop the read option after the offensive attack took the league by storm during the 2012 season.

According to defensive coordinator Dean Pees, the Ravens spent every other day during organized team activities and training camp completing a read-option period during practices to prepare themselves for matchups like Sunday when they travel to Buffalo to take on rookie quarterback EJ Manuel and standout running back C.J. Spiller. Under new head coach Doug Marrone, the Bills’ have used the read option at points during their first three games, giving the Ravens their first look at the wide-open rushing attack since facing San Francisco in Super Bowl XLVII last February.

“You enjoy a challenge. If you’re a football player, you don’t want the same thing every week,” linebacker Terrell Suggs said. “You want a little different [offense], and we love that we get the opportunity again to play against one of these up-and-coming quarterbacks [and] dual threat like EJ Manuel. It’s going to be a challenge.”

The Bills’ version of the read option appears to be working well on the surface with their rushing attack ranked fifth in the NFL, but the transition has been a work in progress as Manuel and Spiller haven’t always made proper reads and the offensive line’s blocking has been suspect. Of particular concern is Spilller, who is averaging just 3.6 yards per carry after averaging an astonishing 6.0 yards per rushing attempt a year ago.

Fortunately for Buffalo, backup Fred Jackson has picked up the slack by running for 169 yards on 32 carries, making him another dangerous weapon to watch for when the Bills try to run the read option. Patience and following one’s assignment is the key to slowing the novelty offense that hasn’t found the same success this season around the league as it did last year.

“Have good eyes,” said Pees, who credited mobile backup quarterback Tyrod Taylor for giving the Ravens a good look in practices. “That’s the No. 1 thing. When you’re playing any kind of option team, when you start looking at things you shouldn’t look at, that’s when you get beat. If I’ve got the quarterback, my eyes have got to be on the quarterback. It’s a little bit like in coverage. Most of the time when a guy gets beat in coverage, it’s because of the eyes.”

Manuel was sacked an astonishing eight times in the Bills’ loss to the Jets last Sunday, so the Ravens will be licking their chops to make life miserable for the rookie quarterback. However, pocket containment will be vitally important as Manuel is a bigger threat to take off and run compared to the three starting quarterbacks the Ravens have faced so far this season.

The Florida State product has carried 13 times for 76 yards in three games, but the Ravens rank sixth in the league with 11 sacks.

“You just definitely have to make sure we can contain him every time,” linebacker Daryl Smith said. “If whoever is coming off the edge, whether it’s an end or linebacker, if they take the inside move, the quarterback definitely can escape and has the speed to get out and get the first down or do whatever he wants to do. We’ve been talking about it this week and definitely have a plan to make sure we always have edges on the defense.”

Looking for improvement from McKinnie

After appearing to be laboring during Wednesday’s practice, left tackle Bryant McKinnie appeared more active and mobile a day later as the Ravens hope to see improvement from the 34-year-old veteran.

The entire offensive line has struggled to block in the running game — an area that’s never been McKinnie’s biggest strength — but the left tackle has struggled in pass protection the last two weeks and was flagged for two facemask penalties in the first half of the win over the Texans.

“There’s always a work in progress in that area, and I think he’s working at it, trying to get better at what he does,” said offensive coordinator Jim Caldwell, who emphasized a need for everyone — including him — to improve. “He’s a professional and he’s trying to improve every single day. [Run-game coordinator Juan Castillo] does a great job with those guys. They work and they work extremely hard. I think Juan is getting him to the point where he’s moving in the right direction.”

McKinnie’s three-year tenure in Baltimore has been bumpy to say the least as he didn’t start a game in the regular season last year and reported to training camp overweight this summer and was held out of the first day of practice for veterans.

Thompson in mix as kick returner

With Pro Bowl return specialist Jacoby Jones still sidelined with an MCL injury in his right knee and No. 3 running back Shaun Draughn dealing with a high ankle sprain, the Ravens could have a new face in the return game in Buffalo.

Wide receiver Deonte Thompson has practiced on a limited basis for two straight days and is listed as the Ravens’ backup kickoff returner behind Jones on the depth chart. In his rookie season, the speedy wideout served as the kick returner before a critical fumble against the Kansas City Chiefs in Week 5.

“Deonte demonstrated a year ago that he has the skills to do that,” said Rosburg, referring to Thompson’s 25.9 yard per return average in 15 attempts. “He’s had success, too, and he understands it. He’d probably be pretty excited about that opportunity should it come his way.”

Should Draughn be inactive, the Ravens would likely turn to either Thompson or fellow wide receiver Tandon Doss, who returned a punt 82 yards for a touchdown last week.

Ravens glad Miles now on their side

Special teams coordinator Jerry Rosburg smiled when asked about the acquisition of former Cincinnati safety Jeromy Miles off waivers earlier this week.

A rookie free agent from the University of Massachusetts in 2010, the fourth-year safety can play in all phases of special teams and would figure to play a prominent role considering rookie safety Brynden Trawick was active for all of the Ravens’ first three games. With Miles serving as a prominent special-teams player in the Bengals’ units, the Ravens were very familiar with him.

“We’ve had to block Jeromy Miles for the last few years,” Rosburg said. “We’ve had him blocking us the last few years. We’re excited he’s on our team doing those things for us, because he’s been a force in our division. We’re really happy he’s on our team.”

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“The Reality Check” Week 4 NFL Power Rankings

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“The Reality Check” Week 4 NFL Power Rankings

Posted on 26 September 2013 by Glenn Clark

Glenn Clark’s Rankings…

32. Jacksonville Jaguars (Last Week 32)

More vile than the “Teen Mom” turning her private parts into a sex toy.

31. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (30)

Is it too late for Greg Schiano to throw his name in for the Texas job?

30. Oakland Raiders (28)

Matt Flynn might throw for 400 against the Redskins.

29. Minnesota Vikings (25)

I heard that next year they’re going to play a NFL game in London!

28. Cleveland Browns (31)

We live in a strange world.

27. Buffalo Bills (26)

Still likely a tough test Sunday.

26. New York Jets (29)

Not buying it.

25. Arizona Cardinals (24)

At least they have all of their finge…nevermind.

24. Pittsburgh Steelers (23)

This is really bad team.

23. Washington Redskins (22)

This is also a really bad team.

22. New York Giants (17)

This is a really bad team as well.

21. Carolina Panthers (27)

That’s a hell of a win over a really bad team.

20. St. Louis Rams (19)

But you don’t get the feeling they can’t beat San Fran.

19. Philadelphia Eagles (15)

They should be thankful there are a lot of bad teams in this league.

18. San Diego Chargers (18)

Given all of the bad around the league, I won’t drop them for a loss.

17. Detroit Lions (21)

Big test with Chicago coming to Ford Field.

(Continued on Page 2…)

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Top 10 Baseball Distractions

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Top 10 Baseball Distractions

Posted on 24 September 2013 by Glenn Clark

Honorable Mention: Mixed Martial Arts-Bellator MMA (Friday 9pm from Portland, OR live on SpikeTV); Boxing: Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. vs. Bryan Vera/Adonis Stevenson vs. Tavoris Cloud (Saturday 10:15pm from Carson, CA/Montreal live on HBO); Golf: Champions Tour First Tee Open at Pebble Beach (Friday & Saturday 6:30pm Sunday 7pm from Monterey Peninsula, CA live on Golf Channel); College Basketball: All teams allowed to begin practice (Friday)

10. Ke$ha (Friday 8pm Pier Six Pavilion); Sunday In The Country feat. Gary Allan, Brantley Gilbert, Florida Georgia Line, The Henningsens (Sunday 1pm Merriweather Post Pavilion); Lionel Richie (Wednesday 8pm Patriot Center), Atoms For Peace (Monday 8pm Patriot Center); Rascal Flatts (Saturday 5pm Jiffy Lube Live); Reel Big Fish (Friday 8pm Power Plant Live); Carbon Leaf (Thursday 7:30pm Rams Head Live), Kix (Saturday 9pm Rams Head Live); Karl Denson’s Tiny Universe (Thursday 8pm 8×10 Club); The Unlikely Candidates (Wednesday 7pm Baltimore Soundstage); Wild Feathers (Sunday 12pm Rams Head on Stage); Jimmy Cliff (Friday 8pm Howard Theatre); Walk The Moon (Thursday 7pm Friday 8pm 9:30 Club), ZZ Ward/The Wild Feathers (Saturday 5:30pm 9:30 Club), Bastille (Saturday 10pm 9:30 Club); Joe Satriani (Wednesday 8pm Warner Theatre), Earth, Wind & Fire (Sunday 8pm Warner Theatre); Rock The Bells feat. Kendrick Lamar/Wale/Wu-Tang Clan/Kid Cudi/J. Cole/Bone Thugs N Harmony (Saturday & Sunday RFK Stadium); Jack Johnson (Wednesday 7:30pm D.A.R. Constitution Hall); KT Tunstall (Saturday 7pm Lincoln Theatre); Biffy Clyro/Morning Parade (Sunday 8pm U Street Music Hall); Kings of Leon “Mechanical Bull” and Drake “Nothing Was The Same” available in stores/on iTunes (Tuesday)

I wish Carbon Leaf played here once a week…

If for some reason you’re not legally allowed to come to the Bryant McKinnie Show Wednesday night, go see Unlikely Candidates…

Would you guys be so upset if I skipped the Creative Deck Designs pregame show to catch The Wild Feathers in Annapolis Sunday instead?

Kind of a big record for KOL. They don’t want to be the band that was SUPPOSED to be the biggest thing ever.

9. Kevin Nealon (Friday & Saturday Baltimore Comedy Factory); Gary Valentine (Thursday-Saturday DC Improv); “Don Jon” out in theaters (Friday); “Iron Man 3″ available on Blu-Ray/DVD (Tuesday); Season TV Premieres: “Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.” (Tuesday 8pm ABC), “Modern Family” (Wednesday 9pm ABC), “South Park” (Wednesday 10pm Comedy Central), “Parks and Recreation” (Thursday 8pm NBC), “Saturday Night Live” (Saturday 11:30pm NBC), “The Simpsons” (Sunday 8pm FOX), “Bob’s Burgers” (Sunday 8:30pm FOX), “Family Guy” (Sunday 9pm FOX), “American Dad” (Sunday 9:30pm FOX); St. Demetrios Greek Festival (Thursday-Sunday Saint Demetrios Greek Orthodox Church); “The Gathering: Food Truck Rally” (Thursday 5pm Maryland Historical Society, Friday 5pm McHenry Row); Baltimore Book Festival (Friday-Sunday Mt. Vernon Place); Maryland Renaissance Festival (Saturday & Sunday RennFest Fairgrounds)

Don’t be surprised to see me poke over to the Greek Festival this weekend for a lot of THIS.

It’s good that Parks & Recreation is coming back. I need more time to prepare my Bert Macklin costume for Halloween.

(Continued on Page 2…)

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Caps & Ovechkin Stayin’ Alive After Shootout Win

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Caps & Ovechkin Stayin’ Alive After Shootout Win

Posted on 30 March 2013 by Ed Frankovic

It was 3-1 Sabres going into the third period and the Washington Capitals season was basically on the line.

Sure they were carrying much of the play after a horrid first 20 minutes, but the way Jhonas Enroth (35 saves) was going it wasn’t looking good for the Caps

Even after Troy Brouwer scored on a shorthanded goal set up by Braden Holtby (yes, you read that correctly), the Caps were down a puck and had to pull their goalie in the last minute to try and tie the game. Fortunately Mike Green lasered one in with 40 seconds remaining and then Matt Hendricks and Alexander Ovechkin scored on the first two Caps shootout tries while the two Buffalo shooters failed to tally to give Washington a huge 4-3 comeback victory.

It was two points the Caps had to have and they found a way to get it against a bad Buffalo squad.

The win pulls Washington to within five points of Southeast Division leading Winnipeg (and the Caps have 2 games in hand) and they are now just two points in back of the 8th place New York Rangers, who continue to lose under dictator John Tortorella despite having a very talented roster.

With the trade deadline fast approaching on Wednesday, the Capitals players had a big chance to show their general manager that they still have a club that can make the post season with the three games in four nights that started on Saturday in Buffalo. A loss to one of the weaker clubs, the Sabres, would surely signal that George McPhee should get on the phone and start selling. Well, this win keeps the “add players to improve the team” option open to McPhee and they have a chance to increase the probability of that option on Sunday night when they take on the Flyers in Philadelphia at 6 pm.

There were lots of good things in this victory. Ovechkin was all over the ice and his stat line for the contest reads:

1 goal, 1 shootout goal, +1, 17 shots attempted (10 on goal), 3 hits, and two takeaways in 25:57 of ice time

It is pretty obvious that the Gr8, who notched his 17th tally of the season, is trying as hard as possible to carry his club out of its huge standings hole and into the post season. He has been playing extremely well since being reunited with Nicklas Backstrom a couple of weeks ago.

Holtby (20 saves and an assist) probably should have had the first tally by Christian Ehrhoff but the other two, by Ville Leino, were layups as Washington played poorly in their own end for stretches in the first two periods. #70 made some big stops to give his club a chance to come back and tie it and then he did his job, along with the post, in the shootout.

Overall, the effort was really there after a slow start, which might have been due to four days off. It was clear which club wanted it more at the end and as a result, the Capitals found a way to win.

The poor play in their own end, especially to start the game, must stop immediately. This is two straight games that the opponents are getting the lead goal because the Capitals are sleep walking in their zone. Remember what happened the last time the Caps went to Philadelphia? The Flyers scored on the very first shift and Washington had no chance and were smoked. A good start to correcting the defensive zone would be to sit Jeff Schultz and put Dmitry Orlov back in. #55 did not look good at all in his 11 plus minutes of action, which appeared to me to be a showcasing scenario. Washington needs to be prepared for the physical play they’ll get from the Flyers forwards.

So the Caps improve to 16-17-1 and will try for the third time this season to reach the .500 mark. The last two times they had bad starts and lost to the Islanders. Will things be different in the City of Brotherly Love on Sunday?

If the Caps players want to stay together and not be sold off at the deadline, they better find a way to get it done on Sunday.

But for Saturday night and into early Sunday morning the Capitals are still in the race. They were on the ropes but found a way to get it done in Buffalo.

So go ahead and crank up the Bee Gees after this one, because as sure as Barry Gibb and his brothers sang it back in the 1970′s, the Caps are living that theme tonight after a huge comeback against the Sabres.

“Feel the City Breakin’ and Everybody Shakin’ and we’re stayin’ Alive, stayin’ Alive”

Notes: The attempted shots were 66 to 41 in favor of Washington…the Caps won the faceoff battle, 32-29, which included a big win by Brouwer right before Green tied the game…Wojtek Wolski suited up and played only 8:23. The injury to Eric Fehr is hurting the lineup as #16 was playing well this season…Down a level, Philip Grubauer stopped 37 shots as Hershey rallied to defeat Providence, 3-2 on Satruday night. The Bears improve to 32-26-3-6 (73 points) and remain in the eighth and final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference with nine games left in the regular season.

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Caps Follow Ovechkin’s Lead to Victory

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Caps Follow Ovechkin’s Lead to Victory

Posted on 18 March 2013 by Ed Frankovic

After a subpar effort in Boston on Saturday, the Washington Capitals needed a fast start to get back on track Sunday night against the Buffalo Sabres. They got just that as Alexander Ovechkin lasered home the biscuit 19 seconds into the contest after Nicklas Backstrom won an offensive zone draw and Marcus Johansson tapped the puck to the Gr8. The Caps would go on to grab a 4-1 lead, see it shrink to 4-3, before Mathieu Perreault put this one away with 4:55 to go. The victory improves Washington to 12-15-1 and seven points out of first place in the Southeast Division with 20 games remaining.

There were lots of good and some not so good in Washington’s play Sunday evening but one thing is for certain, the Sabres are a bad team and appear headed to battling Florida for the bottom spot in the Eastern Conference and perhaps the NHL standings.

The fact that Buffalo is bad was my primary takeaway of the night but there are several things worth pointing out in this contest as it relates to the Capitals:

- Ovechkin’s night included the early goal and he could have had several more. In 20:11 of ice time he had 16 shot attempts, five of which found the cage. He hit the post in the first period and had numerous scoring chances. He also doled out three hits and very importantly, he came to the aid of teammate Backstrom in the middle frame. The Sabres are not a physical team on the back end but their primary pest and chief punk, forward Steve Ott, is someone you have to watch out for at all times on the ice. Ott was up to no good most of the evening and after a whistle he reached for Backstrom’s throat area. Ovechkin quickly grabbed Ott from behind and took him to the ice. This was especially good to see given that many were questioning the ability of the Caps to come to the aid of their teammates after Matt Hendricks was jumped in Beantown on Saturday. The team captain was having none of the pesky Ott trying to take out the Capitals #1 center. Good to see there Ovi, great toughness and leadership.

- Washington’s power play is a thing of beauty at times and I credit much of that to Mike Ribeiro and Backstrom. The two of them are creative magicians with the puck and the Troy Brouwer tally that made it 2-1 is one you could watch over and over because of the work of numbers 9 and 19. Brouwer has been very good at being the guy in the middle of the ice who finds space for the in close quick shot or for screening the opposing goalie. Oates has done a good job with the power play and if Mike Green were back healthy, it would likely be even better. John Carlson has a great shot but his passing skills are not at 52′s level and once again on Sunday #74 had a hard time of putting the puck in the correct area for Ovechkin to get off his patented one timer. The Caps went 1 for 4 with the man advantage but if they could get the Gr8 the puck in his wheelhouse the damage could be far greater.

- Speaking of the power play, the Caps received one late when Ott was sent to the dressing room for basically being a horse’s rear. The score was 5-3 and I’m sure many players were thinking about the post game, at that point. I’ve blogged about Oates’ atttention to detail in the past and I noticed that old #77 was quite animated talking to his club before the start of that power play with 1:20 to go. Brouwer said afterwards that Oates was explaining he was going with two defensemen and for his team to be careful and not take chances. He also warned his club that the Sabres would pull Ryan Miller and make it a 5 on 5 situation. Buffalo did just that and the Caps were prepared.

- Once again Washington lost a defensemen in the game and were forced to play with five rearguards. Tom Poti took a cross check from Ott in the second period and didn’t return (played only 7:38 total). Oates said that #3 already had a bad back so the injury wasn’t all on Ott. As a result, Carlson logged 30:15 while Jack Hillen played a season high 23:03. Steve Oleksy played 21:09 but it wasn’t his best game as he screened Braden Holtby (27 saves) on the Sabres first goal and he got suckered into a penalty by Ott in the third period. In fairness to #61, Ott did ask him to go then when Oleksy dropped his mitts the Buffalo forward turtled. In his post game presser, Oates didn’t seem too happy with what Ott did and noted the pre penalty verbal exchange was clear on the video. With the injury to Poti it is unclear who will suit up in Pittsburgh on Tuesday. Tomas Kundratek, who was injured in Carolina on Thursday skated minimally on Sunday morning. Green is close to returning while John Erskine is on IR and did not skate on Sunday. In addition, Dmitry Orlov played for Hershey on Sunday night, notched two assists, and was the game’s third star so perhaps #81 could make his Caps season debut in the Steel City or sometime in the near future? One thing is for sure, the Caps have to be tired of losing defensemen in game and having to play short.

Overall, the Capitals got a much needed win on Sunday night. It came against one of the weaker teams in the league. Washington was sloppy, at times, and will need to play a much better game on Tuesday, when they face the Pittsburgh Penguins on the road. The Pens have won nine straight and have really clamped down in their own end. The Caps will have to be close to perfect to beat Sidney Crosby and company.

Notes: Brooks Laich told me he will be back in the lineup “very soon.” Let’s hope that means Tuesday in Pittsburgh or at worst, Thursday in Winnipeg…the Caps destroyed the Sabres from the face off dot, 41-23. Brouwer was 10-2, Perreault was 8-3, and Ribeiro was 5-1…Johansson had a goal and an assist in 18:57 of ice time. It was his best game of the season and he played on the top line with Ovechkin and Backstrom. Ribeiro (two assists) centered Brouwer and Eric Fehr to form a solid second unit…Perreault and Joel Ward had two points on the third line and Jason Chimera scored his first goal of the season, a big relief for #25.

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Morgan begins road stretch Saturday at Buffalo

Posted on 07 September 2012 by WNST Staff

GAME TIME
The Bears (1-0, 0-0) will begin the first of four consecutive road tests when they travel north to face Buffalo Bulls on Saturday (Sept. 8). The Bulls, a member of the BCS, enter the 2012 season under the leadership of second-year head coach Jeff Quinn. Buffalo is coming off a 45-23 loss at Georgia and will be hosting the Bears for a home-opener at UB Stadium.  Morgan State pulled out a 30-27 victory against Sacred Heart in a game that was decided after four overtimes last Saturday in Hughes Stadium. Game time at UB Stadium is scheduled for 6 p.m.

THE BEARS-BULLS MATCHUP
• The Bears and Bulls will meet for the third time in history. The series is tied 1-1.

QUICK HITS
• Morgan State will enter the 2012 season with plenty of veterans … the Bears’ roster includes 22 seniors.
•  Seth Higgins returns as the Bears starting QB … He completed 97-of-186 passes for 1,116 yards, including 9 TDs as a true freshman. He threw for 153 yards (14-of-31, INT) in the season-opener vs. Sacred Heart.
• Morgan State returns three of its top rushers from last season: Travis Davidson (792 yards), Tracy Martin (317 yards) and Brian Mann (101 yards).
• Travis Davidson had a 70-yard touchdown run and led the Bears with 107 yards and two touchdowns against Sacred Heart (9/1).
•  MSU wideout Andrew Mitchell led the Bears with five catches for 61 yards against Sacred Heart in his first career start.
•  Kenneth Ridley emerged as a shutdown cornerback in 2011 and ranked T-No. 2 in the MEAC with four interceptions…he collected his first pick of the season vs. Sacred Heart in Week 1.
•  LB Elandon Roberts posted a game-high 11 tackles to go along with two tackles for loss in his first collegiate start as a true freshman last Saturday.
•  DE Richard Ndubueze was selected to the 2012 Preseason All-MEAC First Team.
•  Against Sacred Heart, junior blur Chris Flowers had three kickoff returns for 93 yards, including a 42-yarder in the first quarter…he also had 4 rec. for 40 yards.
•  Statistically, the Bears posted 323 yards of total offense (74 plays) against Sacred Heart, while the Pioneers finished with 441 yards on 98 plays.

BUFFALO THUMBNAILS
•  Branden Oliver (Miami, Fla.) will lead the Buffalo ground attack this fall. The 5-8, 202-pound junior posted 111 yards on 30 carries and scored a touchdown versus Georgia. He was named to three preseason watch lists: The Walter CampMaxwell Award and Doak Walker Award. He was the only MAC player to make all three lists.

• Alex Neutz returns as the Bulls top target on offense. He led the team with four touchdowns, 641 receiving yards, including three games with over 100 yards last season. Neutz led the Bulls with five catches for 52 yards and a touchdown against Georgia.

NEXT UP:
Morgan State will travel to take on the Akron Zips on Sept. 15th. Kickoff is scheduled for 3:30 pm. at InfoCision Stadium-Summa Field.

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Ravens add former Bills guard Howard

Posted on 25 July 2012 by Luke Jones

OWINGS MILLS, Md. — The roster additions kept coming Wednesday afternoon as the Ravens added former Buffalo guard Cord Howard to build depth along the offensive line at the start of training camp.

An undrafted free agent from Georgia Tech in 2010, Howard spent his rookie season in Buffalo before spending last season on injured reserve with a shoulder injury. He played in 10 games and started four for the Bills during his rookie season.

The 6-foor-4, 314-pound guard is likely a depth move for training camp as the Ravens now have the maximum 90 players on their preseason roster.

Howard joins linebackers Ricky Brown and Darryl Blackstock as roster additions on the eve of the first full-squad workout scheduled to take place on Thursday afternoon.

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Britton struggles again in Norfolk loss

Posted on 10 June 2012 by WNST Staff

The Bisons came out with the mentality of making up for their shutout loss Saturday night.

The result Sunday afternoon at Coca-Cola Field was a 4-2 win over the Tides.

The Herd struck first in the bottom of the third.

Bottom half for the Bisons began on back-to-back singles by Sean Kazmar and Corey Wimberly. After that, Brad Emaus hit a bunt to Tides starter Zach Britton to sacrifice Kazmar and Wimberly to second and third with one out.

Fred Lewis delivered with a fly ball single to right to knock in Kazmar and Wimberly and in the process make it a 2-0 Bisons lead.

“Definitely good to see some offense today,” Manager Wally Backman said. “We’ve been missing key opportunities lately so it’s good to get some runs today.”

The Tides although would answer back in the top of the fourth.

After a double by Lew Ford, former major leaguer Miguel Tejada brought in Ford with an RBI single and cut the Bisons lead to 2-1.

In the top of the fifth, Tides tacked on another run to tie the game at 2, courtesy of Bill Hall’s solo shot.

However, the tie ball-game wouldn’t last long. The bottom of the fifth began with a single by Oswaldo Navarro, Kazmar hit a sacrifice bunt to move Navarro to second.

Wimberly followed with a run-scoring double to left to make it 3-2 Bisons.

The Herd tacked on another run in the sixth, this time a solo home run by Rob Johnson.

In relief of Dylan Owen, the Bisons bullpen combined to four and a third innings, allowing two hits and striking out five.

“Our bullpen has been phenomenal lately, especially (Fernando) Cabrera,” Backman added. “He’s built to be a closer so see him deliver the way he is great.”

BISONS NOTES: Fernando Cabrera recorded his 14th save of the season. He is a perfect 14-for-14 in save opportunities…Fred Lewis is four plate appearances short for qualifying for the sixth-highest average (.305) in the IL…Dylan Owen is the third straight starter to last 4.2 innings Sunday afternoon in an outing, with Harvey and Mejia the other two starters.

 

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Moyer throws five shutout innings in Norfolk debut

Posted on 10 June 2012 by WNST Staff

Jamie Moyer and Brad Bergesen combined on a two-hit shutout as the Tides blanked the Buffalo Bisons 5-0 Saturday evening.

Moyer (1-0) was brilliant in his Tides’ debut, as he yielded one single while striking out five in five innings of work. The 49-year-old, who was signed by Baltimore as a free agent earlier this week, did not walk a batter while throwing 52 of his 84 pitches for strikes.

Bergesen tossed the final four innings of the contest to register his first career save. He struck out one and walked one, and he’s now 2-1 with a 3.00 ERA over his last six outings – five of which have been starts.

Norfolk scored all of its runs in the fifth inning, as the Tides sent eight men to the plate against Jenrry Mejia (0-1). The big hit of the inning was a three-run homer by Lew Ford, his fourth home run of the season.

Brian Roberts and Bill Hall each had two hits apiece for Norfolk.

The two clubs will square off again Sunday afternoon, with first pitch slated for 1:05. Left-hander Zach Britton (1-0, 6.00) will take the mound for Norfolk against right-hander Dylan Owen (3-3, 5.32).

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