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Thursday Morning’s Crabs and Beer

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Thursday Morning’s Crabs and Beer

Posted on 21 January 2010 by Glenn Clark

Happy Thursday!

It’s a happy Thursday for me because the blog site Mister Irrelevant found this picture of Cal Ripken and Eddie Murray from the SI Vault….

murrayripken

Greatest picture ever? Greatest picture ever.

Let’s see what everyone has to say…..

1. Pro Football Talk/NBC Sports’ Mike Florio says Ravens QB Coach Hue Jackson interviewing for Offensive Coordinator job in Oakland

Right.

Jim Zorn once interviewed for the OC job with the Redskins, too.

I’m not trying to say that I know the Raiders are seecretly interviewing other candidates for Tom Cable’s job-but you have to earn the benefit of the doubt to get it.

The word is now that Jim Fassel DIDN’T interview in Oakland-which makes it seem more likely that maybe Al Davis ISN’T interviewing head coaching candidates.

But I don’t trust that to be the case.

The Ravens could have blocked Hue Jackson from interviewing with the Silver & Black, but since this would be a promotion; Steve Bisciotti and John Harbaugh did the right thing to let him interview. The Raiders clearly see Jackson as having the chance to improve JaMarcus Russell in the same way he worked wonders with Carson Palmer and Joe Flacco.

I still think Jackson is in a better place in Baltimore than he would be with EITHER job in Oakland, but that’s just me.

2. The Sun’s Edward Lee says Parmele ‘hopes’ to be in mix for KR job next season

And of course, he should be.

He shouldn’t be GIVEN the job-there should absolutely be a competition for the gig, involving him and Lardarius Webb-and anyone else they bring in this offseason who has an appropriate resume.

Unless your name is Devin Hester or Joshua Cribbs-you should probably be competing for a KR job EVERY year. If Lardarius Webb is going to be a starting CB for this team (which he might well be), or Cam Cameron is going to try to figure out a way to get him the ball offensively (which there are no plans for as of now-but certainly it would make sense); maybe Parmele would be a better option-as he could focus on the job primarily.

Of course, Cribbs is also likely to be available this offseason-and showed himself to be a capable offensive player at times as well.

Maybe?

3. Carroll County Times’ Aaron Wilson says Ravens hope to bring back both Dwan Edwards, Justin Bannan next season

I hope they do too, but I don’t see it. Both guys earned the right to make real money on their next deal, and are just waiting for someone to give it to them. Maybe the CBA trouble will help to make it difficult for them to find work elsewhere in the NFL-but I would imagine someone will be willing to give one (or both) of these guys big bucks.

Remember, Marques Douglas never had trouble finding work. Neither did Tony Weaver. Or Abrayo Franklin. And the Ravens have more linemen behind this group. There’s a reason why they kept Kelly Talavou and Brandon McKinney coming out of Training Camp last season-despite the fact that they didn’t need D-Linemen at the time.

They knew what was coming.

4. WGRZ (Buffalo)’s Aaron Saykin says Brian Billick couldn’t understand why Bills GM Buddy Nix didn’t reach out to him about coaching vacancy

And neither do I.

I really never got the idea that Brian particularly wanted the job, but I can understand why he would want the phone call/interview/etc. Buffalo likely would never have had the economic backbone to even make it interesting for Coach Billick, who is still getting $4 million from the Baltimore Ravens over each of the next two seasons provided he doesn’t end up employed elsewhere.

The point for Brian is that in 2 years, he’d like to be coming off a span where he was a hot name in the coaching world. Where teams had shown interest in him, and he had been asked to be a part of the hiring process, even if he didn’t end up taking any coaching jobs.

There was no reason for the Bills NOT to talk to Coach Billick. If he determined it wasn’t the right fit for him (which I’m guessing he would have), it couldn’t possibly have hurt to have discussed where the franchise was heading with a Super Bowl winner.

5. WNST.net’s Drew Forrester says Josh Brown’s 14 not nearly enough as Towson blown out by Northeastern

Look, I wasn’t there-so I don’t want to say the wrong thing here, but this looks like maybe one team started to give up in the 2nd half at Towson Center last night.

Pat Kennedy has his work cut out for him. Fans who went to the Towson Center for the first time last night could not possibly have left feeling good about the product they paid to see. Losing games to good teams on the road is one thing-getting blown out at home is another.

6. The Diamondback’s Aaron Kraut says rebounding, experience starting to set Terps apart from others in ACC

Agreed, but they still have problems has well. Their lack of pure outside shooting hurts them, no matter how capable they are in other areas.

And things won’t be easy for Maryland. The NC State team they’re playing Saturday night that everyone thought they’d beat in a walk just took it to a Top 10 Duke team last night. They play North Carolina on Super Bowl Sunday-and the Heels are going to be close to desperation mode, after losing a 3rd straight ACC contest to Wake Forest last night.

There are wins to be had in this conference this season-but the Terrapins have to go get them. Nothing will come easy.

7. UMBC Official Site previews Retrievers’ contest with New Hampshire tonight at RAC Arena (pdf)

Here’s my conundrum. I love Randy Monroe and his guys, but the following people are from the great state of New Hampshire….

mandy

silverman

….so maybe I’m rooting for the Wildcats?

8. Loyola Official Site previews tonight’s trip to Siena

Again, I’m not trying to offend Jimmy Patsos or anyone on his staff-but it appears likely that the Greyhounds will fall to 2-7 in MAAC play tonight.

That’s not good enough. Not for a coach who has recruited all of the players on the team.

This isn’t a “Jimmy Patsos has to go” statement-not in the least bit. But this IS a statement that Jimmy Patsos needs to be better. Losing tonight at Siena is really no big deal-as the Saints are REALLY good. But the Hounds have to find wins. They just have to win games. They can’t be 2-7 in the MAAC.

It just isn’t good enough.

9. Inside Lacrosse’s Danielle Bernstein says IL analysts think Maryland, Hopkins could end up in Final Four

And Dave Cottle might NEED to get back to the Final Four.

Maryland started practice on Monday-and they’ll be back inside Byrd Stadium (or Capital One Field at Byrd Stadium if you will) this season, so the “no home field” excuse won’t be in play any longer.

There’s only 2-3 programs in the country that should be able to compete with the University of Maryland when it comes to lacrosse. Syracuse has a talent base and financial backing, as does Virginia. Johns Hopkins has a passionate fanbase and a program that builds itself around lacrosse. Same can be said for Princeton-but neither the Jays not the Tigers have the financial backing that Dave Cottle has in College Park.

Dave Cottle can’t just be reaching the NCAA Tournament. He HAS to be reaching the level of the Final Four-and in the mix to win national championships.

Unlike my statement about Jimmy Patsos-this IS a “Dave Cottle must go” argument…IF the Terps aren’t playing at M&T Bank Stadium come Memorial Day weekend.

10. The Sun’s Dan Connolly says Luke Scott would rather play in field, not be full-time DH

And I’d like someone to bring me a plate full of the shrimp vindaloo from the indian joint Drew Forrester and I went to in Indianapolis Friday night…..

vindaloo

Sing it with me….”You can’t always get what you want….”

I’m not sure where Luke Scott wants to play. I think he wants to play Left Field, but that’s absolutely Nolan Reimold’s spot. If he wants to play First Base-I guess he has just as good of an argument as ANYONE who is currently on the roster-but he’s not a first baseman either.

Maybe he should just be happy that he’s getting 4 and a half million bucks after hitting no better than .258 in any of his last 3 seasons.

I’m just saying.

11. MLB.com’s Spencer Fordin says Jake Arrieta, Caleb Joseph, Alfredo Simon, Chad Moeller amongst Birds’ non-roster Spring Training invites

The only name on this list that is AT ALL interesting to me is Arrieta, who I couldn’t figure out why he didn’t get a look at the end of the season last year. Arrieta is the “next” of the group of young pitchers, and may be closer to being ready than we realize. If David Hernandez and Jason Berken are in the mix for the 5th spot (behind Kevin Millwood, Jeremy Guthrie, Brian Matusz and Chris Tillman); why shouldn’t Arrieta be?

12. WNST.net’s Drew Forrester says Pimlico/Laurel auction delayed until February 10

If I was David Cordish right now, I would probably look like this….

hulk

The guy paid his money for slots. He got into the bidding process. He got zoning rights for his slots. Why the hell should he have to wait for the chance to try to win the tracks?

In other horse racing news, Jeff Seder told Drew this morning in an interview on “The Comcast Morning Show” on AM1570 WNST that if his group were to win the tracks, he WOULD change the rule to allow outside alcohol to be brought in on Preakness Saturday. David Cordish had also said he would change that rule. We are assuming that Joe DeFrancis would NOT change the rule, as we are assuming that the Maryland Jockey Club would maintain control of the event.

And finally, I leave you with this.

We DVR a lot of things in the Glenn Clark home. 30 Rock, Parks and Recreation, The Office, SNL, Family Guy, The Simpsons, Man vs. Wild with Bear Grylls, WWE Raw, the ESPN 30 for 30 Series, and for some reason Charm School with Ricki Lake are amongst the programs you’ll find on our Comcast DVR. But maybe my favorite show on the DVR is “True Life” on MTV. Yesterday, the episode “True Life: I’m Deaf” was on my DVR, and while I’ve seen the episode before-I decided to watch it again.

If you never saw the episode, you can watch it here.

The episode is about a gal named Amanda from Towson University, who attempted to tryout to be a Baltimore Ravens dance squad member despite the fact that she’s deaf. At the end of the episode, you find out that despite the fact that she didn’t make the Ravens squad, she tried out to be a Baltimore Blast cheerleader and made the team.

All of this was basically a buildup for me posting pictures of a hot Blast cheerleader and saying something along the lines of “maybe you should get to a game”…..

blastamanda

BUT!!!! There’s another update! Amanda has since moved on to a new gig…..she’s a…..PHILADELPHIA EAGLES CHEERLEADER?!?!?!?

Ugh.

amandac

I thought these stories were supposed to have happy endings!

Talk to you tomorrow.

-G

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Where Did Ravens Go Wrong in ’09? Look No Further Than Final 5 Minutes

Posted on 18 January 2010 by Glenn Clark

It was fitting to see the Ravens fall apart in the final 5 minutes of the first half Saturday night in Indianapolis. Fitting because the final 5 minutes of halves are exactly where everything went wrong for this team throughout the season in dropping 8 games.

Need a refresher?

Week 4 @ New England:
Final 5 minutes of 1st half-The Patriots were ahead 10-7, but a Sammy Morris 12 yard TD followed by a Joe Flacco interception put the Pats up 17-7 at the break.
2nd half-After driving the length of the field, a hopeful game-winning drive faltered when Derrick Mason and Mark Clayton dropped passes to finish the Ravens’ chances.

Week 5 vs. Cincinnati:
1st half-After getting into Bengals territory with :33 to play in the half, the Ravens were unable to get even as much as a FG attempt before the half. They were forced to burn their final timeout at the :33 mark because an 8 yard pass to Todd Heap was in the middle of the field. (The Ravens ultimately lost by a field goal.)
2nd half-Carson Palmer converted a 4th and 1 to continue a hopeful game-winning drive, then Ray Lewis’ personal foul on Chad Ochocinco and Ed Reed/Frank Walker’s pass interference on a 3rd & 16 put Cincy in scoring position. They cashed in, as Palmer found Andre Caldwell for the winner.

Week 6 @ Minnesota:
1st half-Trailing 14-0, the Ravens had a golden opportunity to make the game a 1 possession game with a 1st & 10 from the Vikings 12 yard line and 2 timeouts. Unfortunately, all they could muster was a 1 yard completion to Ray Rice, and they were forced to kick a FG. (The extra 4 points would have made up the eventual 2 point difference.)
2nd half-After what seemed like an impossible rally, the Ravens went ahead 31-30. It took Brett Favre little time to turn things around for the Vikes-as he went 58 yards to Sidney Rice on a play where Frank Walker couldn’t have interfered more. After a Ryan Longwell FG put the Vikings back ahead, the Ravens had a chance to win the game, but a bad snap from Matt Katula lead to a bad miss from Steve Hauschka at the gun.

Week 9 @ Cincinnati:
1st half-Trailing 17-0, the Ravens got the ball back with 2:52 to play and a chance to do SOMETHING before going to the locker room. It took just one play for Joe Flacco to be picked by Leon Hall on an unnecessary deep ball, and the Bengals took that same advantage to the locker room.
2nd half-Despite a Steve Hauschka miss with 6:12 to play, the Ravens still had a chance trailing 17-7 late. Approaching midfield on the better side of the 2 minute warning and with timeouts still in their pockets, everything fell apart. Joe Flacco was sacked on 3 straight plays, and the Bengals essentially clinched the AFC North.

Week 11 vs. Indianapolis:
1st half-The Colts punctuated an 80 yard drive with a 5 yard TD by Joseph Addai to put the Colts ahead 14-9. After some strange play-calling, the Ravens DID still manage to cut the Colts’ lead to 14-12 going to the break, but better use of the clock could have taken them the extra 18 yards into the endzone.
2nd half-Trailing 17-15, the Ravens were marching towards a sure-fire FG or a hopeful TD to re-take the lead. But the drive fell apart when Joe Flacco was intercepted by Gary Brackett on a short pass over the middle. After getting a stop, the Ravens had one more chance-but Ed Reed fumbled away a punt return on an unthinkable lateral attempt.

Week 13 @ Green Bay:
1st half-The Ravens had given up just 3 points when there were 5 minutes left on the clock. By the time they went to the half, they had given up 17. Sound familiar? Jermichael Finley and Donald Driver caught Aaron Rodgers TD’s to extend the lead. Unbelievably, the Ravens actually had a chance to get points before the half when they got the ball at the GB 37 with :32 to play and 2 timeouts-but they could get just 12 yards.
2nd half-Due to Joe Flacco throwing one of the worst interceptions in Ravens history, the final 5 minutes at Lambeau Field were mostly unnecessary. But the Pack rubbed salt in the wounds anyway, adding a Mason Crosby FG and finishing things with a Clay Matthews sack to finalize a 27-14 victory.

Week 16 @ Pittsburgh:
1st half-After driving into Steelers territory, a drive to tie the game or potentially go ahead was thwarted by an Ike Taylor sack. The Steelers responded by marching downfield, and a Ben Roethlisberger-Santonio Holmes TD extended their lead to 20-10. John Harbaugh decided for some inexplicable reason to call his final 2 timeouts in the last 35 seconds-saying he had hoped for a pass to set up a Hail Mary. It doesn’t make any more sense now than it did at the time.
2nd half-Trailing 23-20, the Ravens marched into PITT territory and were approaching Billy Cundiff FG range at the 35 when they faced 3rd and 7. Two LaMarr Woodley sacks later, the threat was over. The Ravens had the chance to get the ball back one more time thanks to a Tom Zbikowski INT return, but the play was negated by a Frank Walker illegal contact call.

Divisional Round @ Indianapolis:
1st half-Tied at 3, the Colts faced a 4th and 4 from the Baltimore 35 that had the Ravens stopped-they would have been in great position to try to take the lead going to the half. Not only did Joseph Addai pick up the first down, Peyton Manning ultimately found Austin Collie for what would end up being the game-winning TD. The Ravens got the ball back, but mixed a 1st down run with 2 incomplete passes-giving Indy one more chance. They made it count, as Reggie Wayne hauled in a short TD to take a 17-3 lead.
2nd half-As was the case in Green Bay, the final 5 minutes were mostly unnecessary. But the Colts made sure the Ravens didn’t get even as much as a glimmer of hope-as Antoine Bethea and Jerraud Powers wrapped the playoff victory up with interceptions.

As you can see, the struggles over the final 5 minutes were in every phase of the game. Untimely mistakes, bad play calling, clock mismanagement, errors in judgment, and lapses from the defense, offense and special teams. It wasn’t a season where Joe Flacco, the secondary, the O-Line or the coaching staff struggled in the final 5 minutes of halves-it was a season where EVERYONE struggled in the final 5 minutes of halves.

Ultimately, the responsibility to win the final 5 minutes probably does fall on the head coach. Managing what tend to be frenzied situations and having to make quick decisions are the responsibility of the man in charge-as there can only be one voice in the panic. The final 5 minutes would be the time where John Harbaugh needs to be able to veto a call from Cam Cameron, Greg Mattison OR Jerry Rosburg-or just make a call on his own.

But even if he chooses not to do that, the final 5 minutes are where attention to detail is most critical from a head coach. This has plagued Andy Reid throughout his career in Philadelphia, and is probably the biggest reason why Reid is thought of as a really good coach instead of a Super Bowl winning coach.

John Harbaugh just wrapped up his 2nd year as a head coach. He has time to change things. But with every issue the team faced this season-the final 5 minutes of each half were the most obvious place where this team lost 8 games.

Losing 8 games won’t be acceptable if this team wants to take steps forward in the future.

-G

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Accomplishment of 2nd Straight Playoff Trip Can’t Go Unnoticed

Posted on 03 January 2010 by Glenn Clark

I understand why the excitement isn’t what it was a season ago.

A season ago, the Baltimore Ravens began the season with a rookie QB, a first year head coach and no expectations; which made a return to the playoffs particularly sweet for fans throughout Charm City.

But entering this season, last year’s run to the AFC Championship Game lead many fans to adopt a “Super Bowl or bust” type motto. Amazingly, the Ravens will be one of just 12 teams who will be alive in the race for the Vince Lombardi Trophy come Monday morning-despite the “I’m not sure they even belong” attitude a number of fans have adopted.

There’s reason for the less than enthusiastic emotions that fans in town have adopted. This Ravens team has been less than overwhelming this season-beating just one playoff team (San Diego in Week 2) en route to clinching a Wild Card berth against the Raiders Sunday in Oakland. The Ravens finished the season with 6 straight losses against teams who qualified for postseason play, and mixed in a loss to the Steelers-who will miss the playoffs despite posting a record equal to the 9-7 mark the Ravens posted this season. Joe Flacco appeared to regress in his 2nd season, and John Harbaugh made the type of mental mistakes that coaches probably SHOULDN’T make in their second season. The Ravens’ Wide Receivers have been troubling, and their secondary has been terrible at times.

The remarkable thing about all of this is that all of the problems the Ravens have been forced to overcome have happened during a season in which they reached the playoffs for a 2nd straight year for only the 2nd time in franchise history.

There’s a slew of players and coaches around the NFL who aren’t going to be participating in a 2nd straight postseason. The list includes Matt Ryan, Mike Smith, Tony Sparano, Brett Favre, Mike Tomlin, Ben Roethlisberger, Carson Palmer, Marvin Lewis, Tony Romo, Wade Phillips, Tom Coughlin, Eli Manning, Jeff Fisher, Chris Johnson, Tom Brady, Bill Belichick, Drew Brees, Sean Payton and John Fox. (Others-like Matt Hasselbeck, Mike Singletary and more will fail to reach even a single postseason over the 24 month span.)

Get the point?

Reaching the postseason in back to back seasons is a MAJOR accomplishment. The Ravens will be able to make money, gain exposure and build on their franchise history over at least the next week if not the next month. It will be remarkably difficult for them to go to Foxborough and beat the Patriots, but they might. Whether or not they do, they will have had an outstanding season.

It doesn’t change the problems this team faces. They will still need to overhaul their receivers in the offseason-but they will be doing it in an offseason where they are coming off a 2nd straight trip to the playoffs. The Steelers can’t say the same thing about their secondary overhaul this offseason.

It’s a big deal.

It’ll be a bigger deal if they’re still alive in 7 days.

-G

(If you’d like to join us at Gillette Stadium next Saturday, click the “Trips” tab at WNST.net)

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Previously Silent Questions About Flacco Will Echo Following Unthinkable Play in Loss to Packers

Posted on 08 December 2009 by Glenn Clark

15/36, 1 TD, 3 picks.

But it was more than just the numbers that made Joe Flacco’s performance so unnerving in a 27-14 loss to the Green Bay Packers Monday night at Lambeau Field. It was the brutal way in which he seemed to collapse in the game’s most important moments.

With the Ravens trailing 24-14 but still very much in the football game, Tramon Williams intercepted Flacco on a play that will replay in the minds of Baltimore football fans for a long time. The team had an opportunity to pull within 3 points following a 1st and goal at the Packers’ 1 yard line. Instead, they lost 2 yards on a run, called timeout; and then watched Joe Flacco roll to the right side of the field and inexplicably throw the ball off his back foot across his body to the middle of the field-where Williams was waiting to safely corral it.

Flacco went on to add another interception (this one collected by AJ Hawk) with the game still undecided; allowing the Packers to extend their lead to 13. After some more terrible clock management (John Harbaugh should be ashamed), Flacco looked disinterested in a lethargic final drive that appeared as though Harbaugh and Cam Cameron had decided to call off the dogs.

This was the lowest moment in Joe Flacco’s tenure as starting quarterback in Baltimore.

His disastrous performance in Indianapolis last year was forgivable because it was very early in the season; and even EARLIER in his career. It certainly appeared to work as a learning experience that allowed Joe to improve the rest of the way-ultimately reaching the AFC Championship Game.

Tonight’s game was a crucial moment where the Ravens needed to stay on pace in the race for the final AFC Wild Card spot. Instead of remaining tied for the final playoff spot-they now find themselves a game (and a tiebreaker) behind the Jaguars. It was also a game they needed to prove they could still beat good teams on the road. The last time they beat a quality opponent away from M&T Bank Stadium was September 20 in San Diego; and it feels like an eternity longer than that.

Tonight’s was a crucial moment for Joe Flacco, who has never won a game in regulation after trailing in the final minutes. With the Ravens having completely swiped momentum from the Packers in the 2nd half; Joe was primed for an opportunity to do just that on “The Frozen Tundra” before his unthinkable pass floated into the hands of Tramon Williams. He also needed to prove that he could beat another good NFL quarterback. Since out-dueling Phillip Rivers in Week 2 at Qualcomm Stadium, he was 0-5 against Carson Palmer, Peyton Manning, Tom Brady and Brett Favre. Aaron Rodgers-a statistically very good quarterback had never been a guy who could prove he could win a big game in the 4th quarter. Yet he made the plays when he needed to (including the TD pass to Jermichael Finley in the 4th quarter that gave his team a 2 possession advantage), and the man known as “Joe Cool” faltered under the spotlight of a Monday Night Football audience.

Joe will still be the quarterback Tuesday.

He’ll still be the quarterback Sunday against the Detroit Lions, no matter how many fans went scrambling to WNST.net, Facebook, Twitter and their cell phones to cry out for Troy Smith.

He just has to get better.

It’s not Joe Flacco’s fault that the Ravens are 6-6 right now. Injuries to Ed Reed, Terrell Suggs, Ray Lewis, Haloti Ngata, Jared Gaither, Todd Heap, Jarret Johnson, Fabian Washington, Brendon Ayanbadejo and nameless others who have missed time or played at less than 100 percent are probably the biggest culprit.

But when a team is in a bad way, the quarterback is the one player who can rally the troops. While quarterbacks like the aforementioned Brady have found success (great success in fact) without getting too high or low emotionally; quarterbacks like Brett Favre, Ben Roethlisberger, Kurt Warner and Peyton Manning have all allowed emotion to be a great part of what eventually made them Super Bowl champions. I’d like to see SOME emotion…..at all…..from #5. It’s an emotional team. They need an emotional leader.

There is an argument that Joe’s ankle is the biggest reason he’s struggled this season, and that might well be accurate.

There is an argument that he is being asked to carry a team despite not really having enough playmakers to be effective offensively.

There is certainly an argument that a season after pushing all of the right buttons-the trio of John Harbaugh, Cam Cameron and quarterbacks coach Hue Jackson had too much faith in a 2nd year quarterback out of the CAA.

No matter the reasoning, Joe Flacco isn’t progressing in his 2nd season-and there’s an argument at this point that he’s regressed. That regression found a signature moment in Green Bay Monday night.

It has to change. It has to change now for the Ravens to have any chance at still getting to the postseason.

-G

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Why Ravens Win Tonight and a Purple & Red Crabs & Beer

Posted on 07 December 2009 by Glenn Clark

Ravens 24, Packers 20

I’ve changed my mind. I was blinded by the Packers’ outstanding home record in December in recent years; and I picked the Packers to win.

I was wrong.

And it took me hearing something repeatedly this weekend to be reminded of just why it is that the Ravens will win.

Drew Forrester said it first Friday when he pointed out that the Ravens struggle against “elite” quarterbacks.

I read a few blogs over the weekend, and listened to some other radio stations throughout town and heard both hosts and callers describing Aaron Rodgers similarly-as an “elite” quarterback. One guy on the “Sports Leader” in town even went as far as to say Aaron Rodgers was on par with quarterbacks like Drew Brees and Carson Palmer.

WHAT?

Aaron Rodgers is NOT elite. He’s NOT in the next group right behind elite, either.

Aaron Rodgers is in the top half of NFL quarterbacks, and he’s posted decent numbers this season. But he’s nowhere NEAR elite. (He couldn’t sit at Drew Brees’ lunch table, either.)

The biggest difference between quarterbacks who are good statistically and quarterbacks who are elite is that the elite quarterbacks have put their team on their back and carried them to victory in very important games.

Ben Roethlisberger has done it. Peyton Manning has done it. Brett Favre has done it. Kurt Warner has done it. Tom Brady has done it.

Even Carson Palmer has done it this season against his biggest AFC North rivals.

Aaron Rodgers has not.

In fact, he’s been just about the opposite. In his 2 seasons as a starting quarterback, Rodgers is a whopping 3-9 in games decided by 9 points or less.

3-9.

Elite quarterbacks WIN those games.

Even more-in his first season as a starter, Rodgers’ only win after Week 11 came over the Detroit Lions (in the game that clinched the first ever 0-16 season in NFL history). His only significant victory of the season was a home win over Indianapolis in Week 7. He got the 2nd significant win of his career 2 weeks ago against the Cowboys.

Joe Flacco had more significant wins (4) in a MONTH last season (@Dallas, vs. Jacksonville, @Miami, @Tennessee) than Aaron Rodgers has had in his career. He’s won more significant road games (3) than Aaron Rodgers (ummm……zero) as well.

The reason I initially picked the Packers was exactly the reason Drew pointed out Friday. The Ravens struggle against elite quarterbacks.

The good news for tonight is that they don’t have to face one.

Ravens win.

Let’s see what everyone else has to say…..  

Best of Sunday’s WNST Blogs:

Luke Jones says Vasquez, Milbourne struggled as Terps fell to Villanova

Rex Snider grateful for Raiders’ win over Pittsburgh

Nestor Aparicio checks in from WNST trip to Green Bay

Glenn Clark says Lions coming to town won’t get Baltimore fans as amped as they usually are for Ravens games

And the best from the rest of the world…..

RAVENS:

The Official Site’s Mike Duffy says Domonique Foxworth, Lardarius Webb have ‘big task’ ahead of them in trying to defend Donald Driver, Greg Jennings

The Official Site’s Ryan Mink remembers Baltimore Colts’ big win over Packers in ‘59

The Official Site’s Sean Patrick Byrne says ‘physical’ aspect of line play has put Grubbs amongst best Guards in NFL

The Sun’s Jamison Hensley says Ravens have to get to Aaron Rodgers to win

The Sun’s Jamison Hensley picks Packers 27-17

The Sun’s Kevin Cowherd says Flacco’s ankle ‘X-factor’ in tonight’s game

The Sun’s Mike Preston gives Charles Woodson edge over Derrick Mason, Donald Driver edge over Domonique Foxworth, Aaron Rodgers edge over Dwan Edwards and Trevor Pryce

The Sun’s Ken Murray says Ravens need win tonight to keep pace with Jaguars in AFC playoff race

The Sun’s Jamison Hensley says Derrick Mason, Ravens not afraid of trip to Lambeau Field

The Sun’s Jamison Hensley says Cam Cameron thinks offense ‘weather-proof’

Carroll County Times’ Aaron Wilson says Ravens’ Wild Card hopes helped by Steelers’ loss to Oakland

Green Bay Press Gazette’s Mike Vandermause says Packers 18-4 in December, January regular-season games at Lambeau Field since 2000

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel’s Lori Nickel says Dom Capers transformed Green Bay defense

Wisconsin State Journal’s Tom Ziemer says Packers defense enters Monday Night Football contest red hot

SI’s Peter King says Ravens 13th best team in NFL

ESPN.com’s James Walker says Ravens’ defensive communication should improve playing on road

TERPS:

The AP says Sean Mosley’s 26 not enough as Terps fell to Villanova in BB&T Classic

The Official Site provides numerical evidence of loss

The AP says Scottie Reynolds tallied 25 to lead Wildcats past Maryland at Verizon Center

The Sun’s Jeff Barker says Jordan Williams chipped in 19 points, 12 boards in defeat

The Sun’s Jeff Barker says Vasquez played just 27 minutes in loss due to foul trouble

Carroll County Times’ Josh Land says Gary Williams thought Cats’ 45-33 rebounding edge ‘unacceptable’ in Maryland loss

The Diamondback’s Eric Detweiler says Wildcats hit 16 threes in win over Terps

The Diamondback’s Greg Schimmel says Vasquez struggled again, finishing with 12 points in loss

Washington Post’s Steve Yanda says Eric Hayes finished with 20, but thought Terps ‘just couldn’t get over the hump’

Washington Post’s Steve Yanda says rebounding should improve with Dino Gregory scheduled to return Saturday

Washington Times’ Patrick Stevens says Corey Fisher 3 ended Maryland run that got them within 3 in 2nd half

Washington Times’ Patrick Stevens says Terps not amongst Top 45 teams in country

Washington Examiner’s Craig Stouffer says Herndon native Reynolds played like he ‘owned’ Verizon Center for Wildcats

Philadelphia Daily News’ Dick Jerardi says Jay Wright thought beating Maryland ‘real quality win’

USA Tim Gardner says Taylor King chipped in 13 points for Nova

SOME QUICK THOUGHTS:

-What does Maryland’s loss to Villanova last night mean going forward? Well, it means they CAN’T lose a home game between now and the start of the ACC season. The date with William & Mary on December 30 looks tougher every week-the Tribe has already defeated Wake Forest and VCU this season and gave UConn a hell of a run for their money. Last season, the Terps could afford a home loss to Morgan State because they managed to top Michigan State at the Old Spice Classic in Orlando. They won’t be able to afford a similar loss-even to a decent mid-major.

It also means the Terps will likely have to go 8-8 in ACC play to reach the NCAA Tournament. They should be able to do that-but it certainly isn’t a given. Even a win over North Carolina or Duke wouldn’t be enough to get a 7-9 league team into the dance without a marquee non-conference win. Unless of course Indiana finds eligibility for Jared Jeffries, Keith Smart or Isaiah Thomas and wins the Big Ten. That would be really nice, by the way.

Talk to you tonight in our “Purple Haze.” Go Ravens!

-G

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No longer the Bungles, Cincinnati leaves the Ravens exposed

Posted on 10 November 2009 by Chad Lamasa

 

I’ve been trying to figure out how to write a blog about the Ravens this week. It’s been really difficult because there was just so much wrong with them this weekend against the Bengals.
 
I’ll start here. I think the game meant a lot more to the Bengals than it did to the Ravens. This shouldn’t have been the case. A win would have put the Ravens right back in the mix of things. Now we are only 1-2 in the division. Luckily we have one more game against the Browns next weekend, but unless something changes soon, I could see us being 2-4 in the division after playing the Steelers twice.
 
Carson Palmer stated after the game, “We are disappointed we only won by 10 points.” This is a telling statement. The Bengals have all the confidence in the world right now and are playing extremely well.
 
It’s strange to see them sitting atop the division, but not shocking. I have felt most of their problems the last couple of years have been due more to injuries than to a lack of talent. Palmer is a top five or six QB in the league, Chad (I refuse to call him Ocho Cinco) is an elite receiver, and Cedric Benson seems to have had a resurgence in his career.
 
Their defense, a bunch of cast-offs no one wanted anymore, is playing like the Ravens of the 13-3 season a couple of years ago. They are are physical and stacked in every aspect.
 
Ed Reed, used to be one of the best tacklers in the game. I understand he’s hurt but I’ve noticed that instead of making the tackle, he’s trying to knock the ball loose on every play. I can vividly picture two or three plays where if he had just made the tackle we could have stopped a drive.
 
Steve Hauschka. What to say about this kid? I think people should ease up on him. I agree he should have made the 38 yarder. I’m not sure it would have mattered if he did though. I just didn’t feel like the momentum would have shifted if he did. It would have added three points to the final score. They way we were playing- I don’t think we would have scored again, but you never know.
 
He’s basically a rookie, and even Stover was a rookie once. Guys have to start somewhere. However, I do agree with what Drew said yesterday, and really all season long, don’t trust your kicking game to a rookie. If you let Stover go, then go find another free agent and double his salary. Kicking is too important a part of the game to trust to a rookie.
 
I’m not sure what has happened to the offense, but it seems to have gotten to be very vanilla lately. In the beginning of the season we were using McGahee, McClain and Rice, now it’s down to Rice with an occasional sighting of the other two. They need to get back to using them and mixing things up again.
 
Is Troy Smith even still on the team? I don’t think we should use the Wildcat too much but every so often to change things up might be helpful. We just need to get back to what made us successful last season and earlier this year.
 
Another thing that needs to be addressed is the amount of penalties we are taking. I believe I heard during the game that the Ravens are the most penalized team in the league. That is absolutely ridiculous! That needs to be stopped and soon.
 
Lardarius Webb was the one bright spot in the game to me. This kid is just blossoming in front of our eyes and if he continues to do so, he will probably earn the starting job by next season. The hit he had on Benson was beautiful.
 
Listening to Harbaugh’s press conference yesterday, I was impressed that he seemed to be more open and actually answered questions. I really liked that he took so much of the blame for the team not being prepared.
 
I know he is disappointed with the way the season has unfolded thus far (as are the fans) and I hope this gets straightened out sooner rather than later.

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Bengals 17 Ravens 7 (The WHICH TEAM IS THE BUNGLES, AGAIN? Game)

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Bengals 17 Ravens 7 (The WHICH TEAM IS THE BUNGLES, AGAIN? Game)

Posted on 09 November 2009 by Derek Arnold

After a week in which they reassured us that the sky was, in fact, not falling, the Ravens pulled a complete 180 with their worst performance of the season in Cincinnati yesterday. It was the first of the Ravens’ 4 losses where they were absolutely, unquestionably, without a doubt, outplayed and outcoached for 60 minutes. The first of the four where you can’t look back, point to any one or two particular plays, and say, “yup, that was the one that lost it.” It was a flat-out, thorough butt-whipping at the hands of the “Don’t call us the Bungles.”

RiceTigers

To any Ravens fan watching, flashbacks to Minnesota in Week 5 were unavoidable, as the purple team came out as flat as could possibly be, on both sides of the ball, en route to digging themselves a quick 14-0 hole. There would be no late-game near-miracle comeback at Paul Brown Stadium though, even if there would be an all too familiar Steve Hauschka “wide left,” thrown in as a little salt on the wound. Even though the defense did buckle down after the Bengals’ first two drives (both touchdowns), allowing just a field goal for the final 47:26, you still came away from this one feeling like it was a steamrolling.

Where to begin?

On offense, Bengals’ defensive coordinator Mike Zimmer now has Cam Cameron’s number in 2009 the way that Dick Lebeau of the Steelers did in 2008 (yet to be seen if it carries over to this year). In six games against the rest of the league this year, the Ravens offense is averaging 30.8 points and 399 yards off offense per game. In two contests against Cincy, those numbers drop to 10.5 and 236. Against the “not Bengals,” Joe Flacco has thrown 11 touchdowns and 3 interceptions, and compiled a passer rating of 100. But when the striped team lines up on the other side of the ball, his numbers have read a dismal 1 touchdown, 4 interceptions, and 59.2 rating.

That there are now not 1, but TWO teams in the division who seem to have figured out Cameron/Flacco is a bit unnerving.

As bad as Joe was yesterday, he got absolutely zero help from his offensive line, who need to take their share of the blame. The group that had played so solidly all season had their worst outing, as Flacco was under constant pressure and holding and false start flags were rampant. After allowing 12 sacks in 7 games, the Ravens gave up 4 to the Bengals, even without Antwan Odom. Three of these came on the final drive when they were able to tee off on Flacco, but the pressure was there all day. And, for his part, Joe needs to do a much better job of identifying his hot read and getting the ball out quickly when the blitz comes. Several times yesterday he had time to throw, but instead patted the ball and ended up on his butt.

Derrick Mason did absolutely nothing to back up his “nobody can cover me 1-on-1″ talk leading up to the game, as he caught just 3 of the 13 balls thrown to him, for a measly 31 yards. Mark Clayton and Kelley Washington had only 1 catch apiece, as the Ravens converted just ONE OF TEN 3rd down opportunities. A terrible effort by all.

All except Ray Rice of course, who was the only thing even resembling a weapon the Ravens had all day. He finished the day with 8 catches for 87 yards and 12 carries for 48 and the team’s only score.

On defense, all the problems that seemed to have been corrected against Denver came flooding back in force against the Bengals. The pressure that was there from the front seven against Kyle Orton was nowhere to be found when Carson Palmer dropped back. The gap integrity that held the Broncos’ ground game in check was instead replaced with more gaping holes for Cedric Benson, who racked up 117 yards. The sure tackling that negated Denver’s short passing attack regressed to the tune of more arm tackling FAILs and inability to wrap up the ballcarrier (with the pleasant exception of Lardarius Webb).

The few times Greg Mattison did dial up the blitz, it was largely ineffective. They forced some early, errant throws from Palmer in the 2nd half, but during the game’s decisive opening quarter, ginger boy had all day and then some. Cincy was a disgusting 5/5 on 3rd downs on their two touchdown drives, which included an 11-yard gain on 3rd-and-10 with the score 0-0, and an illegal contact call on Chris Carr that gave them another try despite an offensive holding flag being thrown on the play. Other critical mistakes on those two possessions included Fabian Washington dropping what should have been an easy interception on a deep pass and a pass interference flag on Dawan Landry negating a Ravens’ fumble recovery (because, despite interfering, Landry was STILL unable to keep Chad Ochocinco from making the catch…UN-AC-CEPT-AB-LE!)

Ed Reed’s strip of Ochocinco (for the 2nd straight game) could have made this one interesting, had he been able to take it to the house OR had the Ravens’ O been able to score a TD for the 2nd consecutive drive OR had Hauschka not CH-CH-CHOKED again, this time from only 38 yards and the middle of the field.

Of course, none of those things happened, but the Ravens really didn’t deserve this one anyway. Not in the least.

I’ll search in vain for a bright spot for this week’s “Play Like a Raven” feature, but it won’t be easy. This one was just bad all around.

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Ravens Report Card

Posted on 09 November 2009 by Glenn Clark

Quarterback: C-

This seems harsh, but Joe was terrible yesterday. Save for one decent drive, he wouldn’t have gotten even a passing grade yesterday. It was arguably his worst game as a Raven. I talked after the Patriots game about Joe needing to come up biggest when the team needs him the most (the way Tom Brady and company tend to)-and the first two drives of the game were when the Ravens needed Flacco the most. He didn’t deliver. He needs to figure out how tall Mark Clayton (and Ray Rice) are, too. If he continues to overthrow those guys, he’s gonna get them killed, or he’s gonna get picked more.

Running Backs: B

Don’t blame Ray Rice for this one. He had the heart of a champion, and was the best player on the field wearing white. Should the coaching staff be using Le’Ron McClain (who played well) and Willis McGahee more? Maybe, but not because Ray Rice isn’t playing well.

Wide Receivers/Tight Ends: C

No terrible mistakes by this unit, but not a particularly good performance either. Derrick Mason had to play defensive back more than receiver on a couple of plays, and Todd Heap had no idea where the first down marker was on that 3rd and 5. It was not a great day for them.

Offensive Line: C

The 2nd half was PARTICULARLY ugly for this unit. I’m not sure how much the team worked no-huddle and with a huddle during the week, and if changing on the fly in Cincinnati hurt them; but the penalties in the 2nd half from Oher, Gaither and Grubbs were just unneccessary. Not a good day for the unit that had arguably been the best on the season.

Defensive Line: D

This unit CLEARLY missed Haloti Ngata. They got almost NO pressure on Carson Palmer-and certainly no game changing plays (even Terrell Suggs’ sack was for a grand total of -1 yard). Cedric Benson should not be gauging the Ravens defense ONCE-more or less twice. It all started up front, and it wasn’t good. 

Linebackers: B-

I’m not REALLY sure why I am giving them this good of a grade; I guess it’s because Ray Lewis really played with a lot of heart, and the unit as a whole did make some plays, even if they were beat a few times too. This unit is going to have to apply more of the pressure, and has to be more of a punishing group. They have failed in these areas thus far, but have tackled better than the rest of the defense….I guess.

Secondary: D-

Look, I don’t think Champ Bailey could have stayed with the Bengals’ receivers given the time Palmer had to throw the ball; and Chad Ochocinco made some AWESOME grabs; but this was poor. Lardarius Webb did give some solid effort when he came into the game, but he has gone untested as far as actual cover abilities. There is no answer to improve this group. When you have an average secondary, you MUST get better pressure. This combination hasn’t worked the way they had hoped.

Special Teams: D

Steve Hauschka’s miss was critical, but he wasn’t the only part of this unit that struggled. Penalties on special teams are really unthinkable, and even Sam Koch struggled. It’s infectious right now.

Coaching: D-

Maybe the worst game of the season for the entire staff. Unprepared from the beginning, and not enough corrections in-game. Greg Mattison deserves SOME credit for taking away the middle of the field AFTER the Bengals’ first 3 drives, but this was NOT a good game from them. The execution wasn’t much better, but John Harbaugh and company deserve to take their licks after this. WHY DOES CAM CAMERON CALL JUMP BALLS FOR 5’10″ RECEIVERS?!?!?! Ugh….

-G

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Blog & Tackle: How I see Ravens-Bengals

Posted on 06 November 2009 by Chris Pika

It’s been only a few short weeks since the Bengals eeked out a hard-fought victory in Baltimore, and the two teams go again this Sunday in Cincinnati in a key AFC North game.

In going over my notes from the previous game, a lot has changed in just those few weeks. The Ravens seemed to right the ship after the bye week as they got well against an opponent that played right into their hands (more on that later), and Cincinnati suffered a loss to its defensive line that will be hard to replace.

We will review the game in the Sunday Night Purple Haze at 7 pm. Please join WNST hosts and personalities for three hours of Ravens/NFL chat online. Click here to join in (If you don’t know what the Purple Haze is, check out the archives on that page to see what we do each and every week).

Last Sunday, Baltimore faced a Denver team that didn’t take too many shots downfield against opposing secondaries and ran the football up the middle — which the Ravens defended well. Baltimore was agressive on defense, going after the quarterback and stayed in zone defense instead of man-to-man coverage. Offensively, Baltimore ran the football to disrupt the Broncos’ pass rush.

The Ravens were much more balanced than they had been during the three-game losing streak after a 3-0 start. They must stay that way again this Sunday to beat a talented Bengals team.

Cincinnati’s defense was hurt by the loss of Antwan Odom for the season in Week 6 with an Achilles’ injury. His eight sacks led the league at that point, and the Bengals don’t have nearly the push to the quarterback as they did before he went down.

Baltimore ran the football 35 times against Denver, after total rushes of 17, 18 and 18 in the previous three games (Baltimore threw just 25 passes after 47, 31 and 43 in the last three). If the improving offensive line keeps opening holes for RBs Ray Rice and Willis McGahee, Baltimore will do better than the season-worst 27.2 percent conversion rate on third down in the first game. Rice has been the go-to guy, including 23 carries vs. Denver and has become QB Joe Flacco’s hot-read option on short throws.

Cincinnati is about even on runs across the offensive line, except for left end (5.5 yards allowed per carry) and right tackle (4.54 yards per rush). When the Ravens set up the play action to go to wideouts Derrick Mason and Mark Clayton, the Bengals are vulnerable. Cincy gives up an average of 13.69 yards deep left (15+ yards) and 14.43 yards deep right. Under 15 yards, the Bengals allow 7.1 yards on passes short left.

The Ravens are third in first-down efficiency in the NFL (4+ yards on first down) at 53.2 percent, behind only New England and New Orleans, and is eighth in average gain on first down (6.06 per play). If the Ravens continue that trend, Flacco can operate on play-action as needed since the Bengals will have to stay home.

The Ravens defense was much improved last week against the undefeated Broncos. Unlike Denver, the Bengals run to the outside — a problem area for Baltimore this year. RB Cedric Benson is fourth in the league with 720 rush yards. When they run, the Bengals have the most success going left (5.8 at left end, 4.7 at left tackle and 6.7 yards at left guard). But they still run the majority of plays to the right, including 40 to right end (second in the NFL). They don’t go up the middle very much as their 28 attempts (29th in the league) would indicate. Discipline in run lanes will be crucial to holding down Benson’s output.

QB Carson Palmer can throw downfield, but the Bengals are in the bottom half of the league throwing more than 15 yards in any direction (31 total pass attempts downfield). Most of Cincy’s passes are short middle (63 plays, third in the NFL for an average of 8.3 yards, sixth in the league). The Bengals mostly throw short right (81 plays). If that holds up, the Ravens zone defense can adjust, and the better tackling shown last week should contain any potential huge gains.

WR Chad Ochocinco sent Degree deodorant to the Ravens defenders, saying in effect (laughingly in Chad’s world), “they stink.” Ed Reed had a big pick of Palmer for a TD, and the Ravens kept Ochocinco from any end zone celebration in the first meeting. More of that effort is needed in this game from the defense.

PREDICTION: Cincinnati will test the Ravens secondary unless Baltimore can get at Palmer consistently. The Ravens need to run as much as they did last week to control the ball and the clock to keep the defense fresh. Cincinnati’s defense played inspired last time after the death of defensive coordinator Mike Zimmer’s wife. This time, Baltimore has the defensive swagger back (for now). The Ravens need to use their 2008 formula (run to a lead, dictate the playbook on offense and run exclusively in the fourth quarter) to grind out a huge road victory. Ravens 20, Bengals 17.

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Live From Owings Mills: Ngata’s Status Very Much in Doubt

Posted on 06 November 2009 by Glenn Clark

3:49-INJURY REPORT-Ravens:

S Haruki Nakamura – QUESTIONABLE – Chest
DT Haloti Ngata – QUESTIONABLE – Ankle
S Tom Zbikowski – QUESTIONABLE – Illness
LB Prescott Burgess – PROBABLE – Illness
TE Todd Heap – PROBABLE – Ankle
LB Jarret Johnson – PROBABLE – Shoulder
LS Matt Katula – PROBABLE – Elbow
FB Le’Ron McClain – PROBABLE – Shoulder
CB Frank Walker – PROBABLE – Illness

Bengals:
OT Andre Smith – QUESTIONABLE – Foot
S Roy Williams – QUESTIONABLE – Forearm
FB Jeremi Johnson – PROBABLE – Knee
DT Tank Johnson – PROBABLE – Foot
S Tom Nelson – PROBABLE – Shoulder
RB Bernard Scott – PROBABLE – Knee

2:02-John Harbaugh told us today “there’s a chance” Haloti Ngata plays Sunday, but wouldn’t put a guess as to what the likelihood was that he saw the field. The coach also chose not to confirm that Justin Bannan would start if Haloti couldn;t go, saying the Ravens have faith in “whoever it is” that will start.

Some other tidbits from Harbs:

-Carson Palmer is “maybe the quarterback who’s playing the best in the NFL right now.”
-Domonique Foxworth has “always been a good player.”
-Coach has “a lot of confidence” in Ravens cornerbacks…..”corners are good”…..”playing with tremendous technique.”
-Cornerbacks (in general) “have to be confident, have to be team guys.”

Haloti Ngata was not available in the locker room again. John Harbaugh also downplayed any concerns about Matt Katula (who played today). You can hear from John Harbaugh NOW in the Audio Vault at WNST.net.

11:53-John Harbaugh again had the Ravens on the far practice on Friday, limiting access as much as possible as he tries to stay completely secretive going into Sunday’s game. Matt Katula appeared to be practicing, which isn’t surprising considering he spent the week downplaying his elbow injury. However, Haloti Ngata was not seen on the practice field; leaving his Sunday status very much in doubt.

11:17-Greetings from 1 Winning Drive, where we are preparing to head out to practice. We will be specifically looking for DT Haloti Ngata (ankle) and LS Matt Katula (elbow); neither of whom have practiced this week. It would seem unlikely that Ngata would play Sunday against the Cincinnati Bengals without practicing on his sprained ankle, so today could be a big day. Katula appeared optimistic that he would be able to play, but we saw Willis McGahee practicing his long snaps yesterday; and we have heard rumblings about other players who may be able to do it.

If you missed The Comcast Morning Show this morning; plenty of stuff in the Audio Vault at WNST.net to help get you ready for Sunday’s game:

-Bengals LB Coach Jeff Fitzgerald (Former Ravens assistant)
-Ravens LB Prescott Burgess
-Bengals PBP Voice Brad Johansen
-Ravens/Bengals Color Analyst for Westwood One Mark Malone
-ProFootballTalk.com’s Mike Florio
-and Drew Forrester and I made our picks for Sunday’s game in our weekly “Picks and Comment” segment. One of us doesn’t think the Ravens will win Sunday.
-Also, Dan Fouts (CBS color analyst) joined Bob Haynie today on AM1570 WNST, you can hear from him shortly in the Audio Vault as well.

-G

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