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Former NFL All-Pro CB Ashley Ambrose on coaching Jimmy Smith: “I wish I had the ability of this kid”

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Former NFL All-Pro CB Ashley Ambrose on coaching Jimmy Smith: “I wish I had the ability of this kid”

Posted on 01 May 2011 by Ryan Chell

Ashley Ambrose

Ashley Ambrose was a 13-year veteran corner back playing for four different NFL franchises including the likes of the Indianapolis Colts, the New Orleans Saints, Cincinnati Bengals, and the Atlanta Falcons.

The 1996 All-Pro recorded 42 interceptions in his dozen-year NFL career, and during his playing days was often tasked with covering the opposing team’s best receiver.

And since retiring in 2005, the 40-year old former CB has found his mark in the coaching ranks, and as of recently found his way to the University of Colorado coaching their defensive backs.

It was that move-and his eventual association with Ravens first round pick CB Jimmy Smith-that forced the former NFL veteran to do a different kind of defending.

Jimmy Smith

Doing his best to cover the character concerns of his pupil in Smith-who’s off-the-field incidents while in Boulder include marijuana use, arrests for possession and underage drinking, assault, and impregnating several women-eventually became a common practice for Ambrose the past two off-seasons as NFL teams probed him for inside information about Jimmy Smith the man as well as the corner.

Ambrose-who recently took over the defensive backs’ coach at the University of California-joined Rex Snider of “The Afternoon Drive” Friday afternoon after the Ravens selected Jimmy Smith with the 27th pick in the first round of Thursday’s NFL Draft, and he had nothing but good things to say about his former player and the situation he was ending up in Baltimore.

“I know there was a need for you guys,” Ambrose told Snider, “and I knew if Jimmy was going to fall down there that the Ravens were a possibility. I’ll tell you what…I’m happy for him. It’s a great place for him to be.”

Ambrose was probably Smith’s biggest fan Thursday night, and it began to worry him when the Ravens allowed the Chiefs to move ahead of them to make a selection because he was afraid that Smith’s rap sheet of character issues would force him to drop out of the first round and hurt his confidence.

“I read about it,” Ambrose said. “I didn’t know what was going on at first. I was nervous at first cause Jimmy’s a great kid. A lot of people go off what happened his freshman year and stuff like that.”

But he was glad to ultimately see the Ravens take the leap of faith on Smith and he assured the Baltimore coaching staff through Snider that they know they won’t regret the decision because of the man Smith has become recently.

“I said to myself that if they get a chance to see who Jimmy is as a person, they really would know what kind of kid he is being so mature now.”

Ambrose joined the Colorado program in 2008, with Smith having been a Buffalo since redshirting in 2006.

From the moment the two met, the two were inseparable and Ambrose brought with him a mentor-like approach when it came to guiding Smith down the right path and helping him become not only a better corner, but a better man.

“I really am confident in that. I was more of a mentor and a big brother to Jimmy as well as his coach,” Ambrose said. “While he was there, he did everything he was supposed to do. He was always on time. Jimmy was just really young when a whole lot of stuff happened.”

Ambrose didn’t want to make excuses, but he said a lot of young kids get themselves in similar trouble that Smith did and don’t get caught or the attention thrown their way.

“You get any kid going to high school to college, get them in a different environment, and things happen,” Ambrose replied. “Jimmy just happened to be one of those kids that messed around and got caught a few times, whatever it was. Some people go through it and never get caught, but it just so happens that he was a freshman, he got caught with it, and it was always over his head. But he’s not that kind of a guy.”

How fitting that Smith’s last known deviant act caught on the record was in 2007-the year before Ambrose joined the Colorado staff.

“I’m so proud of him. He grew up, and you’re talking about a kid who graduated from college,” Ambrose said. “Most kids like that..they’re not graduating from school. This kid was so focused about his academics that he got a degree, and I’m proud of him….and I don’t see him getting in any trouble.”

The only trouble Ambrose sees? The opposing receivers in the AFC North who have to go up against Smith.

“I wish I had the ability of this kid, and the sky’s the limit for him.”

“This kid is going to be awesome. I’ve been around the NFL for quite some time, and just being around the guy, there is no one with his size. Usually guys like that don’t have any hips, but Jimmy has very good hips. He can run, and he can be physical. It is rare to see that.”

Ambrose compared him to a similar corner in today’s game in Jets CB Antonio Cromartie-but hopefully without the off-the-field concerns as the New York defender.

And Smith’s other beneficial trait? He is eager to get better and takes learning seriously.

“I was amazed to see the things he can do just trying to teach him techniques. He is very coachable, he is willing to learn, and that’s the thing that makes him such an elite athlete because he’s ready to learn and he’s willing to do what you ask of him.”

Ambrose knows he’ll fit right in with player-coaches like Ray Lewis and Ed Reed-who hails from the same hometown as Ambrose-and he knows that those two in particular will guide Smith down the right path toward being an excellent football player and human being.

He knows so because he was forced to do the same thing several years ago.

“That’s what players do,” Ambrose said. “Ed Reed is from my hometown, and I know a lot of his family. Ed Reed is a great character person. Ed Reed is going to be the person to be there to help Jimmy out with anything. He’ll put him under his wing, and guide him in the right direction.”

“Now it is up to Jimmy to do the right things, but I think it’s perfect for Jimmy because he gets to be with a Hall-of-Fame type guy that’s doing it and leading by example on and off the football field. I think it’s a great thing, and he’s going into a great situation.”

But for now, Ambrose said Smith should take advantage of a fresh start as a Raven and be solely focused on adjusting to the speed of the NFL because for the former Mississippi Valley State star in Ambrose, that was the toughest thing to get adapted to coming out of college.

“It’s always a challenge,” he said. “Having now coached at the collegiate level, I kind of talk to these kids about it…telling them about the transition and those sorts of things.”

“You’re going to be in meetings all the time, and everyone’s going to be great players. You can’t take a week off and things like that. The thing for me when I first came out I thought I was so good at my level of college football that I could just bring it right to the NFL, and that opened up for me real fast.”

But he knows Jimmy’s ready for that change, and when he does, he should ultimately be able to kill two birds with one stone as he knows succeeding on the football field will push some of his past character-concerns under the rug.

“It’s a great fan-base, and what’s going to happen is he’s going to win a lot of fans over cause he’s going to play some good football.”

WNST thanks Ashley Ambrose for joining “The Afternoon Drive” with Rex Snider and welcomes Jimmy Smith to Baltimore! Check the BuyaToyota.com Audio Vault for the chat with Ambrose as well as tune into WNST Monday as we talk with Torrey Smith for the first time since being drafted by the Ravens! WNST-We Never Stop Talking Baltimore Sports!

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50 words or less …. Thursday, April 28th

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50 words or less …. Thursday, April 28th

Posted on 28 April 2011 by Rex Snider

Welcome to what promises to be a pretty busy Thursday in the Baltimore sports community. The Ravens are primed to welcome their newest member of the fold and the Orioles are hoping to break out a broom on the Red Sox.

But, challenges exist.

There will be 25 obstacles standing in front of Ozzie Newsome and company and the birds lineup must deal with Boston ace, Jon Lester …. while Adrian Gonzalez and his lineup mates will face a likley easier task in figuring out Brad Bergesen.

Here’s today’s edition of “50 Words Or Less ….”
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The Forgotten Piece ???
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A daily conversation revolving around the Orioles always seems to regard the hitting attack or young starting pitching. I get it …. it’s “sexier” than discussing defense, baserunning and the bullpen.

But, last night served as another reminder that this team does not have a SHUT THE DOOR closer, nor do they have that coveted formidable 8th and 9th inning tandem. It’s a weakness that’s plagued the Orioles for a number of years.

Ask yourself this question …. were you comfortable heading into the top of the 9th inning with a 5-4 lead, last night?
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That’s “Mr. Cover Model”
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Well, Twitter certainly served as the ideal “LET’S PILEUP ON PEYTON HILLIS” social format, yesterday afternoon. As soon as news broke of the breakout back’s throttling of Michael Vick in the Madden-2012 cover matchup, the detractors and haters surfaced …..

“One Shot Wonder” …. “Overrated” …. “Another Mistake By The Lake” …. indeed, we saw and read it all. I think it’s kinda funny. A process that allowed people to manipulate results is what availed Hillis and Vick to reach final consideration in the first place.

Hey, it’s just a video game and a very popular one. Nobody buys it for the cover anyway. But, rest assured, there are some relieved souls in EA Sports hierarchy today.
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Reaching Rock Bottom
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Yep, today’s the day. It’s the 23rd anniversary of the one distinction the Baltimore Orioles would rather forget. On April 28, 1988, in the artificial confines of the Metrodome, the birds set a new mark for frustration and failure.

0-21

We always hear Dimaggio’s 56 game hit streak and Ripken’s 2,131 consecutive game streak will never be broken. Well, you can probably toss this distinction behind both of those marks. I can’t foresee another team doing it …..
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With The 26th Pick …..
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I’ll say it again, NOBODY really knows what the Ravens will do during tonight’s 1st round of the NFL Draft. But, plenty of opinions exist …..

Peter King – Jimmy Smith, CB, Colorado

Drew Forrester – Cameron Heyward, DE, Ohio State

Matt Bowen – Muhammad Wilkerson, DE, Temple

Glenn Clark – Mike Pouncey, C, Florida

Brian Billick – Jimmy Smith, CB, Colorado

Who do I side with? King has NFL connections … Drew has LOCAL connections … Bowen played the game … Glenn is a “Ravens Insider” … and the coach possesses all four qualities.

I’m gonna trust Glenn. He was right on the money with Sergio Kindle, in 2010. And, he thought the Ravens would drop down to snag him. That’s money …..
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Greatest Debut Album
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I’ll start this rant by admitting my feelings are still smarting. One of these days, I might be considered for the MORNING REACTION’S Hall Of Fame. I’ve only been listening and contributing, in one way or another, for 7 freakin’ years …..

Regardless, I’ve gotta offer an opinion on yesterday’s conversation about the “Greatest Debut Album”. The Cars’ self-titled debut album bests the original Van Halen offering?

Come on …..

The truth in simple sports-related terms; The Cars couldn’t carry Van Halen’s jock. The Cars debut album sold 6 million copies and Van Halen’s debut has sold nearly 11 million issues. But, let’s forget sales and talk about the music …..

Would you rather listen to “My Best Friends Girl” or “Ain’t Talkin’ ‘Bout Love” ???

Case closed …..
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Keep An Eye On …..
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Yeah, I’m finishing up with more NFL conjecture. If Blaine Gabbert slips past the Buffalo Bills at #3 overall, will Marvin Lewis grab him? It’s an interesting debate, especially given the Bengals’ fractured relationship with Carson Palmer.

Many expert minds believe Gabbert is the best “NFL quality” quarterback in this class. I think they’re onto something. The talent is untapped and unrealized, but I don’t like the potential prospect of facing the next Tom Brady or Peyton Manning, twice a year, for the next decade.

So, I’m hoping Buffalo doesn’t screw this up. But, they probably will …..

Happy Thursday …. I’ll chat with you at 2pm

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One-hit wonders in sports

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One-hit wonders in sports

Posted on 18 February 2011 by Ryan Chell

This afternoon on…well…”The Afternoon Drive”, Rex Snider and I went over a list of our Top 5 “One-Hit Wonders” in sports. I had a list of ten…and actually more…to throw in there and I figured I might as well share it with you all.

I had a tough time putting them in order, so by all means this is no where close to any particular order. I tried my best but I figured if they’re a one-hit wonder, who cares where they’re ranked? Aren’t they all incredibly lucky?

1. Joe Namath, quarterback, New York Jets

Joe Namath

Broadway Joe. A guy we love to hate here in Baltimore. Why? Because of that lucky Super Bowl III victory, and his guarantee about it. He was the first quarterback to throw for 4,000 yards in the then modern era in 1967, and just because of one guarantee over the Colts in Super Bowl III , he became the first ever media-loved quarterback and rides his way into the Hall of Fame.

But he Why is this guy in Canton? He owns a career 65.5 career passer rating, and he only threw 173 TDs to 220 INTs. After Super Bowl III, he spent nine more years in the league but only won 35 games. He took the Jets to one more repeat playoff appearance in 1969-and lost it.

Rex Snider put the 1968 New York Jets on the team on his list because as a team, the Jets only made the playoffs 6 times between 1969-1997-the year Bill Parcells took over at the helm-and began putting the pieces together.

2. 1969 New York Mets

In the movie, “Oh, God” starring George Burns and John Denver, Burns-playing the role of God, said that the last miracle he ever performed was the 1969 New York Mets.

And it continued the trend of the Baltimore losing to New York for another season.

The Mets-in only their eighth season in the league-finished with their first winning season and ultimately defeated the Orioles in five games, winning 4-1.

In fact, the biggest part of that team, Tom Seaver (25-7, 2.21 ERA, 208 K), only got there because the Mets had been that bad for that long.

That ’69 Orioles team was considered by many to be one of the best teams in baseball history, but the Mets completed the upset.

After that season though, the Mets necessarily didn’t return to the mediocrity they experienced before 1969, but they lost in 1973 in the World Series to the Oakland Athletics 4-3( on top of that they only finished 82-79 that season).

It would then take another 13 years for former Oriole Davey Johnson then brought the Miracle Mets back to the Promised Land in 1986, and the on the verge of being eliminated, something happened that gave them another World Series…

Bill Buckner

3. Buster Douglas

Buster Douglas

Buster Douglas went up against the then-undefeated Mike Tyson on February 11th, 1990 in Tokyo, Japan as the two fought for the outright Heavyweight Boxing Title of the World. Everyone expected Tyson-then at the time 37-0 with 33 knockouts-to wipe the floor with Douglas (29-4-1, 19 KO)-so much so that only one Vegas casino took odds for the fight.

And they had Douglas winning at 35-to-1 odds.

The match was designed to be a preliminary bout for Tyson before then facing off against fellow undefeated contender Evander Holyfield, who was in attendance for Tyson-Douglas to fight.

Douglas-who in the weeks leading up to the fight had lost his mother and sickness around his family, but that did not deter him in the fight. In fact, it probably motivated him. He came out aggressive in the match, and for the first time in his career, pushed Tyson to the ropes. Tyson’s own team didn’t even see it coming, as they didn’t bring along necessarily equipment to tend Tyson’s wounds between matches.

Tyson fought back and actually made Douglas hit the floor in the eighth round-ultimately reaching a count of nine before getting back up-and over the next two rounds, Douglas continued to beat down on a battered Tyson.

In the tenth round, in a famous scene, Douglas hit Tyson and sent him to the floor for the first time in Tyson’s boxing career. Tyson fumbled for his mouthpiece, and put it in with part of it hanging out of his mouth. He was in no condition to continue, and Buster Douglas was named heavyweight champion of the world.

He held the title for eight months before Holyfield finished him off in three rounds. Douglas retired after the fight.

4. David Tyree

David Tyree was sixth-round draft choice by the New York Giants in the 2003 NFL Draft out of Syracuse.

He did make the Pro Bowl in 2005 as a special teams player, but up until the 2007 season his career numbers were a whopping 54 catches, for 650 yards and 4 TDs.

But his touchdown-and maybe the greatest catch in the history of the Super Bowl-maybe even the NFL as a whole…made Tyree a legend.

David Tyree

His catch on a 3rd-and-5 on the Giants 44-yard line, with New York needing a first-down to extend the drive, was caught on his helmet with headhunter Rodney Harrison in tow.

His play kept the drive alive for the Giants, as Eli Manning eventually found Plaxico Burress for the winning touchdown, as New York upset the previously undefeated Patriots, 17-14.

Minus the fact that the Giants kept him around the following year just to repay him for his play in Super Bowl 42,  they immediately let him go after one season and that was it for Tyree.

He was with the Ravens during the 2009 season, appearing in 10 games for Baltimore but starting none.

And to think…if Mike Carey had blown the play dead, Tyree wouldn’t have made this list…and history…

5. 1980 United States hockey team

Do you believe in miracles?

Do you believe in miracles?

When most people remember this game between the Soviet Union and United States hockey teams, they think that this was the championship game. But it wasn’t. The eventual winner would be playing Finland for the gold medal in the 1980 Winter Olympics.

The US squad consisted of mostly collegiate and amateur hockey players, but coach Herb Brooks and his squad fought through a match that almost didn’t happen due to the international Cold War happening between the two nations.

The Russians at the time were considered to be the best hockey team in the world.

Even the New York Times wrote:

“Unless the ice melts, or unless the United States team or another team performs a miracle, as did the American squad in 1960, the Russians are expected to easily win the Olympic gold medal for the sixth time in the last seven tournaments.”

But the United States did win. And then they beat Finland for the gold.

It made a career out of Al Michaels that’s for sure.

But they’re a one-hit wonder because the team didn’t even medal again in the Olympics until 2002.

Other considerations:

  • Brady Anderson (50 HRs in 1996 after never having more than 21 in a season, never had more than 24 after that season)
  • Brady Anderson

  • 1998 Atlanta Falcons (14-2 under Dan Reeves reaching Super Bowl XXXIII, losing to the Denver Broncos-team had only two seasons previous since 1996 with 10+ wins, never reached Super Bowl since)
  • Dirty Bird

  • 2000 Baltimore Ravens (Sorry Baltimore-had to put this one on there. Is this what the Ravens are on track for? I think the team will win another Super Bowl, but is it going to take a decade-plus in between them?)
  • Trent Dilfer

  • 2004 Tampa Bay Lightning (Won the Stanley Cup that year-a hockey team in sunny Florida? Haven’t won a playoff series since)
  • Tampa Bay Lightning

  • Don Larsen (pitched the only perfect game to occur in the World Series in Game 5 in 1956. Was the only such one in the playoffs until Roy Halladay’s no-hitter this past season versus Cincinnati. Why is that a one-hit wonder? Larsen’s career mark was 81-91 with a 3.78 ERA.
  • Don Larsen

  • Scott Mitchell (Had 32 TDs and 4,338 and a 92.3 passer rating for the Detroit Lions in 1995.  Never could repeat that success, including in Baltimore in 1999.
  • Scott Mitchell

  • Akili Smith (32 TDs, 11 INTs in only one season at Oregon, earning him the #3 pick in the draft by the Bengals. The rest is draft bust history.
    Akili Smith

  • John Paciorek (A ballplayer for the Houston Colt .45s in 1963-a late call up, he appeared in one game for Houston. On September 29th, 1963, Pacirorek went 3-for-3 at the plate hitting three singles, walking twice, and driving in three runs. He scored four times as well in the game. He never played again due to a back injury. Of the 20 major league baseball hitters with a 1.000 career batting average, he is the only one to have more than three at-bats.
  • John Paciorek

  • 1983 N.C. State basketball team (Not a bad team defeating both North Carolina-led by Michael Jordan and Ralph Sampson’s Virginia squad. But to then beat Hakeem Olajuwon and Clyde Drexler’s Houston squad to win the National Championship-and on a last second broke play? And despite some success later on for the program under Jim Valvano and Herb Sendek, the Wolfpack have never been back on the national stage like they were in the late 70′s, early 80′s. Sidney Lowe-who now coaches the Wolfpack-was on this team and he could be fighting for his job down in Raleigh.

Got some more that I missed? Let I or Rex know below or on “The Afternoon Drive! 2-6PM, 410-481-1570!

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Live from Owings Mills: Ravens sign veteran long snapper; Ravens tight ends return to practice

Posted on 29 December 2010 by Ryan Chell

Ravens sign long-snapper

The uncertainty regarding who would fill the void left by the injury to long snapper Morgan Cox Sunday versus the Browns was ended Wednesday at Owings Mills during John Harbaugh’s press conference, as Harbaugh was immediately asked who would take over for Cox.

The team signed Kevin Houser, a tenth-year veteran out of Ohio State, was brought to Owings Mills last night for a physical. The news broke Wednesday that he had signed with the club, and he was already hard at work working with kicker Billy Cundiff on his rapport with his new teammate in practice that afternoon.

Houser was drafted in the seventh round of the 2000 NFL Draft by the New Orleans Saints and spent nine seasons in New Orleans. At one point, he had been the longest-tenured Saint several season ago and he was the veteran presence the Ravens said they were looking for.

“He’s a veteran guy, and he did real well in the workout yesterday, and we’ll see how well he does today in practice,” Ravens coach John Harbaugh said.

There were specific things Coach Harbaugh-a former special teams coach in his own right-that he expected out of the ideal candidate to replace Morgan Cox.

“You look at how he does with protection, how he handles the movement, and stuff that goes along with protection,” Ravens coach John Harbaugh said. “You look at his anchor a little bit in case they try and bull rush him in there. There’s some things you work with that’s similar to pass protection with offensive lineman…. the ability to recover off the snap, get his head up, and how he handles some of the calls and the different things we do with our protection.

The Ravens also brought in veterans Bryan Pittman, Ethan Albright, and Jake Ingram but none of them seemed to fit with what the Ravens wanted to do.

Pittman didn’t even pass the physical, Harbaugh said.

Morgan Cox left Sunday’s game versus the Browns with a torn ACL and a damaged MCL and will be lost for the year. He played the remainder of Sunday’s game with the injury but was lost on punt and kick coverage.

Cox had played at a solid level this season and the team was looking for a guy to pick up right where Cox left off.

“These guys have been around. Most protections are very similar in the NFL. That’s why we really wanted a veteran. Those guys understand the schemes and they’ve done the techniques and they should be ready to plug right in.

Wednesday’s Practice: We fully expected Wednesday that the only Ravens not to be present at practice  were safety Tom Zbikowski, who is out with a back injury, and LB Tavares Gooden who still is hurting with a  separated shoulder on his left side.

With Zbikowski’s injury continuing to linger, he could be placed on IR soon to keep a healthy roster spot in place going into the playoffs.

But joining Zbikowski and Gooden who did not participate in practice were center Matt Birk who has shown up on the injury report in the past with a knee injury, and a curious scratch was LB Prescott Burgess, who normally would have made his mark during the special teams part of practice.

He was listed on the injury report because of illness, and over the last several weeks we have seen several Ravens players miss practice due the contagious flu bug floating around the Ravens locker room.

However, both tight ends Dennis Pitta(concussion) and Todd Heap(thigh/hamstring) were present during the open session of practice that the media were able to witness. Heap did most of his work off to the side just wearing sweats.

Kick return was the main focus of special teams practice and Jalen Parmele took all the drills at returning kicks with David Reed(concussion) still on the mends.

Reed was present at practice but did not participate in the drills. He was listed as limited in drills on the Ravens’ Wednesday injury report.

Five Ravens Named to Pro Bowl:

Yesterday’s Pro Bowl announcement came down last night and the AFC Roster will be represented by five Baltimore Ravens, but no offensive players from the Ravens will be going to Hawaii the week before the Super Bowl.

Linebacker Ray Lewis, LB/DE Terrell Suggs, DT Haloti Ngata, S Ed Reed, and kicker Billy Cundiff all have been named to the Pro Bowl, with the list being announced Tuesday night.

Ray Lewis will be going to his twelfth Pro Bowl trip. Suggs will be going to his fourth, and Reed will be going to his seventh in his nine-year career. Ngata is going for the second straight year.

But Cundiff will be going for the first time in his career, which should be a tremendous honor for a kicker who joined the team only a year ago as a band-aid to a struggling position.

It was the media’s first opportunity to catch up with the players since the announcement at practice, and in reality, the team still said that the honors are secondary to Cincinnati on Sunday and their path through the playoffs towards eventually getting to Dallas.

“It’s bitter sweet,” Suggs said. “It’s good to be recongized not only by other coaches and other players amongst the other teams and the fans. It’s good. It’s really good. Don’t get me wrong.”

“But we still want the Lombardi. I’ve been to Hawaii. This will be my fourth time. But I really would love to play in the Super Bowl.”

This is the first year the Pro Bowl will be played the week BEFORE the Super Bowl instead of after the big game. The Super Bowl participants will miss the annual all-star game.

“It really didn’t mean too much,” quarterback Joe Flacco said, who was named a third alternate to the AFC quarterback position. “I think that if you’re a Pro-Bowl guy, you are and an alternate is an alternate.”

“I’m not real worried about that,” Flacco continued.  “The Pro Bowl is the Pro Bowl, and I’m focused on playing good football games and coming in looking at the tape and having my coaches say, “Yeah, you played a hell of a game today’ and me feeling the same way.

Other alternates included guard Ben Grubbs, FB Le’Ron McClain, and punter Sam Koch. They were named as second alternates, and the third alternates were Flacco and Michael Oher.

Fourth alternates were Ray Rice, wide receiver Anquan Boldin, and safety Dawan Landry.

Probably the biggest snub of them all-at least according to the Ravens-was Koch not getting to the Pro Bowl.

“But Sam Koch, for sure, has had a Pro Bowl year. Some of the things Sam does are unrecognized by the voters sometime. He doesn’t have a huge gross average, but he kicks directionally, he puts it out of bounds 40, 45 yards on a pretty regular basis. The pooch punting has been phenomenal. I would say he is deserving,” Harbaugh noted.

Suggs even wore Koch’s white jersey out to practice as a sign of respect toward his teammate on special teams.

Preparing for the Bengals

Make no mistake. Despite the team’s playoff’s goals, the focus of the team was on Cincinnati alone on Sunday.

The Bengals-despite their 4-11 mark-come in winners of two straight games and winners of their last three decisions against the Baltimore Ravens, including a 15-10 victory in Week 2 of this season with Mike Nugent hitting five field goals.

The Ravens understand the need to finish the regular season strong going into the playoffs no matter where they go.

“Defensively, I’ve got to tell my defense to keep doing what we’re doing,” Lewis said. “In the last game where we lost, we gave up five field goals. They didn’t get in our end zone. Any time you can play at that high of a level coming home, now it’s our time to finish it off.”

They also see the Bengals as a challenge despite the less-than-stellar record, especially given their recent slide and struggles against Cincinnati.

“It seems like they’re always dangerous when they play us,” Harbaugh said. “When you watch them on tape, it does not look like a team that’s not a winning team. On tape, they look like a winning football team.”

“We know how good these guys are. We’ve played them enough. We understand what they’re about, and it’s going to be one of those AFC North kind of games.”

One guy definitely looking for a rebound game is quarterback Joe Flacco, who in Week 2, had probably his worst game of the season, completing 17-of-39 passes for for 154 yards for one touchdown while throwing four costly interceptions.

“I think we put that behind us pretty quickly,” Flacco said. “We’ve moved on and had a pretty good season.”

Since that game, Flacco has really rebounded well, throwing 24 TDs while only throwing four interceptions. But his coach still felt like that game in particular was not the thing that changed Flacco for the better. He always had it in him to take care of the football, said Harbaugh.

“Joe’s been about good ball security here for three years,” Harbaugh said. “So, I don’t think that there was an epiphany that now it’s important. Obviously, that cost us in that game. Joe realizes that. I think it’s one of Joe’s strengths anyway.”

There are four different scenarios that could play out after Sunday’s contest versus the Bengals. The Ravens have guaranteed themselves at least the fifth-seed in the playoffs and depending upon the results on Sunday, the Ravens could either be headed to Jacksonville, Kansas City, and most likely Indianapolis.

And if the Steelers were to lose to Cleveland, the Ravens would earn the second seed in the playoffs and have a first-round bye.

The Ravens said that while taking care of their own business against the Bengals is their primary goal, they did admit that it will be tough to not be looking at the scoreboard when it comes to the Pittsburgh-Cleveland result going on at the same time.

“When the score comes up, I’m sure all of us are going to take a look,” John Harbaugh said. “And we’re going to know by the crowd’s reaction. So I don’t have a problem with that. We’re going to play the game. We have all the focus on Cincinnati.”

“It’s hard not to watch it,” Ray Lewis said. “But we do understand that we need to take care of our business. If we don’t care of our business, none of that matters.”

Tune into WNST as we continue to follow the Ravens through the 2010 season finale! WNST-We Never Stop Talking Baltimore Sports!

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Sunday’s NFL action provides a clear message; Ravens are still a top team

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Sunday’s NFL action provides a clear message; Ravens are still a top team

Posted on 13 December 2010 by Rex Snider

Well, I’m imagining most of us spent yesterday afternoon partaking in some similar Sunday rituals; gauging the competition around the National Football League, and collectively hoping the Cincinnati Bengals might find a way to upset our nemesis up in Pittsburgh.

In totality, the day offered some pretty daunting realities, both on and off the playing field …..

- Having a “trash bag” roof eventually proves to be a bad idea …..

- Tom Brady’s game is just as good on snow tires …..

- Rex Ryan’s Jets really are the NFL’s equivalent of the pro rasslin’ product …..

- While his comeback is pretty impressive, Mike Vick is NOT Tom Brady …..

- Brett Favre evidently owns a pretty sharp razor knife, and access to the dome’s roof …..

Indeed, yesterday was no ordinary Sunday around the NFL. The slate of games was less than impressive, as a large bulk of the contests were nothing more than mismatches. But, weather and interference by off-field personnel really provided some drama to what many of us perceived to be a day full of bad football.

Maybe, I’m being too harsh …..

Instances of occasional “bad football” at the pro level are generally a seldom-seen phenomenon, right? Of course, yesterday provided a few glaring examples of horrendous execution by teams vying for playoff position, as well as those playing out the string …..

- Graham Gano may very well find himself joining Jeff Reed in the unemployment line after missing an extra point and chip shot field goal, in the Redskins embarrassing loss against the Buccaneers …..

- Brodie Croyle and the Kansas City Chiefs mustered just 67 yards in total offense, while being shutout, 31-0, by the San Diego Chargers in a prime AFC-West showdown …..

- Mark Sanchez looked very much like the rookie from last season and the “clown” from HBO’s Hard Knocks, in the Jets second straight loss, which now tasks Gang-Green with trying to stem a late season collapse – on the road, in Pittsburgh, next week …..

- And, of course, speaking of the Steelers …. we must cite the “steaming stinker” Carson Palmer left on the newly sodded turf, at Heinz Field. Yesterday’s line for Palmer: 20 for 32, 178 yards & 2 touchdowns.

Not horrible, huh? Oh yeah, that’s right, those touchdown passes were both tossed into the waiting arms of Steelers defenders …..

PITTSBURGH - DECEMBER 12: Troy Polamalu  of the Pittsburgh Steelers intercepts a pass from Carson Palmer  of the Cincinnati Bengals during the game on December 12, 2010 at Heinz Field in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Jared Wickerham/Getty Images)

Any chance of witnessing a ‘Bungals upset of the Steelers was lost amid predictable breakdowns and missed assignments. Welcome to the 2010 edition of the “Great Cincinnati Disaster”. While they punished Ben Roethlisberger early in the game and even broke out to a quick lead, the ‘Bungals looked very much like a certain black and orange baseball product.

Cincinnati’s string of consecutive losses now stands at TEN AND COUNTING. Given the knuckleheads on that roster, it might be a good idea for the networks to consider slotting this 2-11 team into a nationally televised contest or two.

Say what you will, I’ve got a feeling the ‘Bungals have a “meltdown moment”; a behemoth mutinous catastrophe on the field and I don’t wanna miss it !!!!

In summing up everything observed in yesterday’s NFL action, I’m developing some pretty distinct conclusions:

We are going to see one of the season-long contenders go down in bursting flames over the final few weeks of the regular season …..

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Blog & Tackle: NFL one-liners through Week 13

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Blog & Tackle: NFL one-liners through Week 13

Posted on 09 December 2010 by Chris Pika

The 2010 NFL season has reached the three-quarter mark, and like any good game on Sundays, it’s usually the fourth quarter that decides success or failure.

It’s a chance to take stock of each conference after 13 weeks and 12 games with one-liners on each of the teams. Below are some stats, observations and conjecture as we look ahead to the final four weeks.

First, here is a look at the AFC by divisions. Records are through Week 13:

AFC East

New England Patriots (10-2): Patriots have won last four, including huge win over the Jets to solidfy their claim as AFC’s best team behind conference-best (+110) scoring differential; road to AFC title will go through Gillette Stadium and coach Bill Belichick.

New York Jets (9-3): Despite 3-1 stretch, Jets went from potentially being in line to host AFC title game to very vulnerable after shredding of New York’s vaunted D by the Patriots.

Miami Dolphins (6-6): Dolphins continue to confound with 5-1 road mark, but 1-5 home record — that will be main reason they will not make playoffs as well as offensive woes (-23 point differential).

Buffalo Bills (2-10): Bills finally saw results after 0-8 start with two straight victories, but close loss to Steelers and blowout defeat to Vikings has slowed Buffalo’s progress.

AFC North

Pittsburgh Steelers (9-3): Steelers have grabbed choke-hold of AFC North after winning the war in Baltimore last week behind QB Ben Roethlisberger and stout defense; now Pittsburgh could host AFC Divisional Playoff at always-tough Heinz Field.

Baltimore Ravens (8-4): Only home loss of season so far to Steelers was costly as Ravens may have three straight playoff games on the road instead of one or two home games; predicted high-production offense has gone cold at bad times.

Cleveland Browns (5-7): Cleveland continues to be a “tough out” thanks to solid running game behind RB Peyton Hillis; if they get QB (and maybe head coach) situation settled in offseason, could be 2011 team to watch in AFC.

Cincinnati Bengals (2-10): The wheels have completely come off the cart for one of the preseason favorites to win the division — nine-game losing streak may spell the end of the Marvin Lewis era in Cincinnati.

AFC South

Jacksonville Jaguars (7-5): Jaguars, after 3-1 stretch, find themselves on top in the division, despite worst point differential among all division leaders (-43) — only question is can they hold off slumping Colts?

Indianapolis Colts (6-6): Colts’ injuries have finally taken a toll; forget Peyton Manning for a moment, being in position of having to pass so much has allowed opponents to tee off in crucial situations — but Indy can still catch Jaguars for division title.

Houston Texans (5-7): Lack of strong starts have doomed Texans, 1-5 in their last six games — last chance for Houston (and maybe coach Gary Kubiak’s job) comes with Monday night visit by Ravens in Week 14.

Tennessee Titans (5-7): When you didn’t think anybody else could surpass Minnesota as NFL’s best soap opera, here comes the Titans; normally unflappable coach Jeff Fisher has had to deal with Vince Young, Randy Moss and owner Bud Adams in recent weeks.

AFC West

Kansas City Chiefs (8-4): Chiefs seem to have control of the division after a three-game win streak and perfect 6-0 home mark; can they hold off the Raiders and Chargers over the final four weeks?

Oakland Raiders (6-6): Progress has been slowed by 3-2 mark in last five games, but 4-0 division record could be factor if they get help before Week 17 showdown at traditional rival Chiefs.

San Diego Chargers (6-6): Amazing how one loss changes things after blowout defeat by Raiders last week that stopped four-game win streak; season on the line vs. Chiefs this week.

Denver Broncos (3-9): A three-game losing streak coupled with Spygate-like scandal in London finally cost Josh McDaniels his coaching job; Eric Studesville gets his audition but the supporting cast is not there.

And now for the NFC by divisions:

NFC East

ATLANTA - NOVEMBER 11: Quarterback Matt Ryan  of the Atlanta Falcons converses with quarterback Joe Flacco  of the Baltimore Ravens after the Falcons 26-21 win at Georgia Dome on November 11, 2010 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

Philadelphia Eagles (8-4): The Eagles are tied for the division lead, but arguably have the NFC East’s toughest schedule left with two games vs. Dallas and one each against the Giants and Vikings — for what was originally expected to be a transition year, a lot is still on the table.

New York Giants (8-4): Giants are playing as well as any team in NFC right now, but head coach Tom Coughlin’s team must navigate Minnesota, Philadelphia and Green Bay the next three weeks to stay in the division and Wild Card mix.

Washington Redskins (5-7): The Redskins season has become a trainwreck as head coach Mike Shanahan has had to deal with several distractions, including DT Albert Haynesworth’s suspension for conduct detrimental; the Skins defense should be suspended as well, allowing the fifth-most points in the NFC.

Dallas Cowboys (4-8): The Cowboys have gotten off the deck to become a team no one wants to face down the stretch; Dallas could play spoiler in the NFC East and help Jason Garrett remove the interim coaching tag.

NFC North

Chicago Bears (9-3): The Bears have won five straight to hold the division lead by one game thanks to resurgent play by QB Jay Cutler and LB Brian Urlacher; Chicago has murderous final four weeks capped by Week 17 visit to Packers.

Green Bay Packers (8-4): Despite injuries, Packers are firmly in the playoff mix, but key Week 12 loss at Atlanta looms large as well as final three games against New England, Giants and Chicago — win those and Green Bay will have earned its postseason ticket.

Minnesota Vikings (5-7): A change in head coach to well-respected assistant Leslie Frazier has helped the mood in Minnesota, but the final four weeks will be all about Brett Favre’s literal limp to the finish of his career (I think).

Detroit Lions (2-10): Some of the strides made early in the season by the Lions have been erased by the current five-game losing streak; coach Jim Schwartz is still looking for consistent winning formula.

NFC South

Atlanta Falcons (10-2): The hottest team in the NFC with six straight wins, the Falcons may do something no Atlanta NFL team ever has — host the NFC Championship Game in January; but they have to get through Week 16 Monday Night game vs. Saints.

New Orleans Saints (9-3): The defending Super Bowl champions are playing like it for first time all season with a current five-game win streak as the Saints try to go stride-for-stride with the Falcons; back-to-back road contests at Baltimore and Atlanta in Weeks 15-16 are New Orleans’ key games.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers (7-5): The air has finally come out of the Buccaneers’ balloon with two straight losses, but Tampa Bay is just one game out of a Wild Card spot with favorable matchups in the next three weeks before Week 17 at Saints.

Carolina Panthers (1-11): The Panthers just want the season to be over, and the housecleaning will begin soon after starting with head coach John Fox; Panthers are a NFC-worst minus-153 in point differential.

NFC West

St. Louis Rams (6-6): The Rams have quietly put themselves in position to make the playoffs out of a weak NFC West, but don’t mistake St. Louis as a weak team — QB Sam Bradford is one of the league’s feel-good stories of 2010, and division could come down to Week 17 tilt at Seattle.

Seattle Seahawks (6-6): The Seahawks are in position to capture the NFC West, but head coach Pete Carroll’s squad still has worst point differential among NFC teams with a winning record (-49); Week 17 vs. St. Louis could be the decider.

San Francisco 49ers (4-8): San Francisco not officially dead in NFC West race, but last gasp could come this Sunday vs. Seattle; if they win, they still have games vs. St. Louis and Arizona — teams they have already beaten in 2010.

Arizona Cardinals (3-9): Cardinals have gone south for the winter as they have lost seven straight and hold NFC’s second-worst point difference (-138), but have three winnable games in final four weeks.

For up-to-date Tweets on the NFL and the Ravens, please follow me on Twitter (@BlogAndTackle). For more national NFL stories, please visit my personal site at BlogAndTackle.net.

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Sunday Money – 6-Pack

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Sunday Money – 6-Pack

Posted on 19 November 2010 by Rex Snider

For weeks, I’ve been boasting about my preseason predictions for the Baltimore Ravens. On September 8th, I previewed each game on the schedule, on-air, and gave my opinion on how things would turn out.

I kept that schedule and it’s hanging on the wall of my home office. To date, I’ve been correct on 8 of the 9 games. The lone blemish is the contest against the Miami Dolphins. Yep, I had that game in the loss column.

Hey, the good news is I forecasted the loss against the Atlanta Falcons as the final defeat of the 2010 season. That’s correct, I picked the Ravens to run the table throughout the remainder of the regular slate of games.

And, I’ll stick by it …..

Since I’ve been so accurate with my predictions over the past couple months, I’ve decided to share my weekly prognostications with YOU, the listener and reader. It’s my early Christmas gift to anyone who reads my blogs.

I have no doubt that when my peers read this, they’ll have some provoking thoughts …..

Drew Forrester : “I like Rex, but I’m not following his advice – he freakin’ texted me from Vegas and asked which baseball games to bet. By the way, he won a few hundred bucks ….. and I’m still waiting for my Chinese lunch.”

Glenn Clark : “I don’t really like Rex, and I absolutely NEVER, EVER agree with him. I’m certain his predictions will be LAUGHABLE ….. if not, INSANE. So, before I even look at his picks, I’ll get this outta the way ….. DUDE, YOU’RE JUST WRONG.”

Thyrl Nelson : “His fantasy football team, Rexual HerAssMent, is 3-7 …. that’s all I need to know.”

Regardless of what others might say, you can rest assured that my LOCKS for the weekend will come to fruition. You’ll make money, guaranteed. Count on this 6-pack of predictions …..

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Randy Moss: has baggage …. will travel

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Randy Moss: has baggage …. will travel

Posted on 02 November 2010 by Rex Snider

Just go ahead and admit it …..

As soon as you’re convinced Bill Belichick has finally outsmarted himself and pulled the trigger on a dumb deal, he figuratively fools all of us and snookers another sucker.

Tomorrow marks the one month anniversary of the very public divorce between Randy Moss and the New England Patriots. It’s offically been 27 days, so my conflicted memory still recalls the morning the news broke, quite vividly.

While the deal was not an earth-shattering shocker, it did fuel reaction from a lot of sideline critics. As the football world learned Bill Belichick dealt his sole deep threat receiver to the Minnesota Vikings, a collective bewildering day of sports talk commenced.

Randy Moss was returning HOME, to the team and city where his Hall Of Fame career began. And, all seemed right in Minneapolis ….

Minnesota Vikings quarterback Brett Favre and wide receiver Randy Moss slap hands after a completion against the New England Patriots in the third quarter of their NFL football game in Foxborough, Massachusetts October 31, 2010.    REUTERS/Adam Hunger   (UNITED STATES - Tags: SPORT FOOTBALL)

Brett Favre was being teamed with a guy who could catch those Sportscenter-highlighted touchdowns.

Brad Childress was acquiring the player who could validate all the effort devoted to kissing Favre’s ass for an entire offseason.

And, poor Bill Belichick was selling on the “short” …. while walking away with just a measly 3rd round pick in next April’s NFL draft.

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Where will the Ravens be in January?

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Where will the Ravens be in January?

Posted on 28 October 2010 by Rex Snider

Fast forward yourself a couple months to the week following Christmas. You will most likely be experiencing the typical holiday happenings – your kids are complaining about the things Santa did NOT leave under the tree …. your wife is counting down the days until school returns from the seasonal break …. and you’re simply trying to survive such an ordeal.

Oh yeah, and you’re also digesting the Ravens latest win, against the Cleveland Browns, in the final road game of the regular season. It will probably be a little tougher than most of us originally imagined, but beating the Browns will be a mandatory formality.

And, as certain as many parents are looking ahead to the second half of the school year, many of us are looking ahead to some pretty exciting circumstances …..

College football’s biggest bowl games are approaching …..

New Years festivities are being planned …..

Rex Snider is watching his new HAIR as it’s starting to grow …..
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And, the Ravens will be readying for the ultimate arrival of the Cincinnati Bengals in the season finale’ …..

Now, bring yourself back to this 28th day of October …..

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So much for the “losing to a good team on the road” excuse, huh?

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So much for the “losing to a good team on the road” excuse, huh?

Posted on 25 October 2010 by Rex Snider

For me, the challenge in writing a good blog is partly bound in highlighting a specific theme or idea that hasn’t been addressed by other writers. While such originality is usually my mission, it’s not always possible.

But, I still try ….. So, as I walked out of M&T Bank Stadium, upon witnessing the Ravens thoroughly destroy the Buffalo Bills, I envisioned the things we would hear on the radio and see in blogs, come Monday morning.

Heck, I was hearing it as we walked across the Hamburg Street bridge. My wife is not a football visionary. However, she is a passionate Ravens fan. Thus, her ensuing comments were as predictable as the sunset every evening. “You and your buddies said there was no way the Buffalo Bills would hang with the Ravens” ….. “You gonna blame today’s crappy 4th quarter on the opponent being a good team?” ….. “This might’ve been a win, but it’s an embarrassing win” ….. If I would’ve had a rope, I could’ve hanged myself – right there, above the train tracks. It was a better alternative than begging her to “PLEASE SHUT THE HE@# UP,” which is not a good idea with my wife. Trust me, I’ve done it and I’ve paid for it. Besides, she was

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