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Secondary remains fluid as Ravens turn attention toward Cleveland

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Secondary remains fluid as Ravens turn attention toward Cleveland

Posted on 15 September 2014 by Luke Jones

OWINGS MILLS, Md. — Returning to work to begin preparations for a Week 3 showdown with the Cleveland Browns, the Ravens weren’t offering clues about the projected state of their secondary.

With starting cornerback Lardarius Webb (back) still waiting to make his 2014 debut and reserve Asa Jackson sustaining a concussion against Pittsburgh last Thursday, the third level of the defense remains fluid as the Ravens look to improve to 2-1 in their three AFC North contests to begin the regular season. Head coach John Harbaugh didn’t shed any light on the status of Jackson or Webb when he met with reporters on Monday afternoon.

“I’m just not going to get into injuries,” Harbaugh said, “because there is just no strategic advantage for us in doing it and putting that information out there. … I’m really optimistic about all our guys — I will say that, with [Jackson] included — but I’ve been optimistic in the past and guys haven’t played. We’ll keep our fingers crossed.”

Webb has practiced fully over the last two weeks, but the sixth-year defensive back missed all of training camp and the preseason after suffering back spasms on July 25, the second day of full-team workouts. The Ravens and Webb are reportedly targeting this Sunday’s game for him to make his return, but doubts will remain until he’s suited up to play on Sunday.

After going with the trio of Jimmy Smith, Chykie Brown, and Jackson in the nickel package in the season opener, defensive coordinator Dean Pees used a different alignment against the Steelers with strong safety Matt Elam defending the slot and reserve Jeromy Miles playing safety in the nickel alignment. Smith and Jackson started the game at the outside corner spots — with Brown on the sideline — before a concussion ended Jackson’s night in the first half and forced Brown into duty.

With Brown shaky in outside coverage throughout the summer and Jackson missing a couple tackles from the nickel spot against the Bengals, the Ravens went with the versatile Elam to provide more support from the nickel against the run. Harbaugh complimented Elam’s ability to pick up the intricacies of playing the position to provide more flexibility for the Baltimore defense.

“We’re blessed with safety depth, so it’s not a bad thing to get those guys on the field,” Harbaugh said. “But a guy like Matt being in there playing [the nickel] gives you a nice little run-nickel package, because he’ll fly around and hit you and tackle you. He’ll be the first to tell you he tackled better in the second half than he did the first half. It builds our defensive package in good ways, because now you have a guy in there playing that can really defend the run, too.”

Against Pittsburgh, Elam played all 59 defensive snaps — most of them from the nickel position — while Miles participated in 48, a major change for a fifth-year safety primarily known for his special-teams ability.

West playing hometown team

Former Towson standout and Northwestern High product Terrance West’s NFL career is off to a strong start with the Browns, which has drawn plenty of attention from Ravens fans who clamored for the organization to draft him back in May.

West became the first rookie running back to collect at least 90 yards from scrimmage in his team’s first two games since Chris Johnson and Matt Forte — two Pro Bowl running backs — did it in 2008. In the wake of the Ray Rice release, it would be understandable for the Ravens to lament the inability to come away with the local product after he was selected with the 94th overall pick by Cleveland. Baltimore selected safety Terrence Brooks with the 79th overall pick and tight end Crockett Gillmore at 99th after West had just come off the board.

“Terrance is a guy that we really liked, as you know,” Harbaugh said. “We had designs on him in the draft, certainly, and Cleveland jumped up there and got him, and he has not disappointed. He has played really downhill, [and is a] hard runner, make-you-miss type of back [who] understands the scheme they’re running really well.”

West is receiving a heavier workload than anticipated with Browns veteran Ben Tate currently sidelined with a knee injury.

Hill reinstated before Week 7?

Despite reports suggesting suspended safety Will Hill could have his ban reduced under the terms of the NFL’s new drug policy, Harbaugh offered no indication whether that would happen when posed the question.

Hill is in the midst of a six-game suspension for violating the league’s substance-abuse policy. After receiving limited reps in the summer due to his situation, he could be an intriguing option at the safety position whenever he is reinstated.

“I have no sense of [a possible reduction] at all,” Harbaugh said. “No one has spoken to me about that, and I don’t know a thing about that right now. I’m interested in it though.”

Odds & ends

Harbaugh defended linebacker Courtney Upshaw’s technique on the penalized hit against Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger on the opening drive of Thursday’s game, insisting he did exactly what he’s been coached and to play it differently would have put him at risk for injury. “We’re never going to put our player in position to coach him to drop his head. Football has always been about seeing what you hit — heads-up football keeping your eyes up.” … Asked about the chances of seeing Browns rookie quarterback Johnny Manziel on the field, Harbaugh said the Ravens will be prepared for the first-round pick while also going out of his way to praise starter Brian Hoyer. “He’s the best quarterback they’ve had in a number of years. He’s playing great. Then, they have Johnny Manziel as part of their arsenal. So, it’s something to contend with for sure.” … The Ravens signed rookie free agent cornerback Lou Young to their practice squad Monday to fill the spot vacated by cornerback Jamell Fleming, who was signed by the Kansas City Chiefs to their 53-man roster last week.

 

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Dorsey’s Dugout – NBA Free Agency Frenzy

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Dorsey’s Dugout – NBA Free Agency Frenzy

Posted on 18 July 2014 by Nick Dorsey

 

LeBron James

In one of the better sports stories in years, LeBron James returned back to his hometown Cleveland Cavaliers where it all began. The King left Miami after four seasons, winning two out of four NBA Final appearances during that stretch.

The return of the King to Cleveland shocked many because there are still plenty of lingering images of destruction that come up when talking about James departure for Miami. Fans crying, burning jerseys and an owners hateful letter calling out the Akron native for his lack of loyalty. LeBron James made the best decision to go back to Cleveland for many reasons.

When the dominoes began to fall, the four-time MVP’s former team Miami looked to be dismantling with key pieces looking to move on elsewhere. With uncertainty of the quality of players that would surround him on the floor, James made the right move to leave.

Cleveland has some nice pieces on the roster as it stands, including NBA All Star MVP Kyrie Irving running the point. There are other players as well, but the future is uncertain for some of the other young Cavaliers.

There have been rumors swirling around that Cleveland might deal Dion Waiters, Andrew Wiggins and a first rounder to acquire Kevin Love from Minnesota. General manager of the Cavs, David Griffin, should make the trade for Love because it would make them a title favorite out of the Eastern Conference.

Trading a young player like Andrew Wiggins with the kind of potential he has seems like a bizarre idea, but it would be the better move for the Cavs. Wiggins is not a sure thing, but with acquiring Kevin Love you know your getting an All Star player. The former Bruin is a three-time All Star who has a great post presence with the ability to shoot from the outside as well.

As the roster currently stands, Cleveland has Wiggins playing the shooting guard position. The Jayhawk standout played the small forward position at KU and was not known as a great jump shooter. He better suits playing the three spot in the NBA, but on Cleveland that’s the spot that the King currently occupies.

If Griffin makes the trade for Kevin Love, the Cavs become the instant favorite to represent the East in the Finals. With a new big three that consists of Irving, Love and James they would be difficult to defeat in a seven game series. It is a win-win move for Griffin, especially since Love has expressed interest in signing a long-term deal in Cleveland.

Carmelo Anthony

The choices were narrowed down to either the Windy City or returning back to the Big Apple and Anthony chose to return back to the Knicks. Melo decided to sign the big deal and put his faith in Phil Jackson to build a winner in New York.

While Phil Jackson certainly knows what he is doing when it comes to winning in the NBA, Melo should have chose the Bulls as his next destination. Chicago is in a much better position to win now and is a better fit than the New York Knicks.

Chicago is a playoff team already without Anthony and his skills could have elevated the Bulls to another level in the East. The Bulls have a proven coach in Tom Thibodeau whereas the Knicks are going with Derek Fisher, who is about to coach his first team ever. Not only does Chicago have the better coach, they also have the better team by far.

The Bulls are a defensive powerhouse in the NBA and their most glaring need is a player that can close. That need was definitive in their first round exit against the Washington Wizards. Some of those games in that series were close down the stretch in the fourth quarter, but Chicago was unable to find a consistent scoring threat that could close out a game.

Adding Carmelo to the mix would fill their need of a closer and help bolster their lackluster offense. One of the criticisms of Anthony throughout his career is he is not a good defensive player. The Bulls already have great defense throughout the lineup so Anthony would not of been as much of a liability on the floor for the Bulls.

Carmelo put his trust in Phil Jackson to build a winner and maybe one day his faith will be rewarded. In the short term, Chicago would have been the better opportunity for Carmelo Anthony to win a ring.

Heat Rebuild

Once LeBron bolted for his hometown, it was almost certain that Chris Bosh would take the max deal he was offered from Houston. Instead of joining Howard and Harden, Bosh made a surprising decision to stay with the Miami Heat.

A franchise that seemed as if it was going to be completely dismantled, had hope restored once Bosh re-signed. Pat Riley has built contending teams several times in Miami before and did an excellent job once the King left. Retaining Bosh was huge for the Heat and they also managed to bring back Dwayne Wade.

Two pieces of the big three remain in Miami and although Wade is not at the level he once was, it’s a nice start to retooling. Danny Granger and Josh McRoberts were not sexy enough names to woo LeBron, but they do provide solid depth for the Heat.

Miami added Shabazz Napier through the draft and brought back point guard Mario Chalmers. The pieces were coming back together and Riley did the best he possibly could at filling the James void by signing Luol Deng.

The former Duke star has been a Bull for the majority of his career until last years short stint as a Cavalier. Deng is superb defensively, but injury is a concern with Deng. Since the start of the 2011 season, Deng has missed 54 games due to injury. If Deng can stay on the floor, the Heat will be contending for the Southeast division title.

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Bovada makes Cavs favorite to win title with LeBron, Wizards 33/1

Posted on 11 July 2014 by WNST Staff

Courtesy of Bovada, (www.Bovada.lv, Twitter: @BovadaLV).
“There is no question that with the recent news of LeBron going back home to Cleveland that they are the favorites to win the NBA Championship next season at 4-1. With the Eastern Conference being much weaker and essentially only a handful of teams that can give LeBron and the Cavs a run for their money, it would be a shock if they do not at least make the Conference Finals. The Heat in turn, who now may lose Bosh also, have gone from 4-1 to 50-1, basically the Cavs and Heat flipping odds from what we had them the day after the Spurs won the Championship. This shows how much of an impact a player like LeBron has on odds. The last comparable situation was when Peyton Manning signing with the Broncos dropped them from 75-1 to 10-1 in a blink of an eye.”

Kevin Bradley, Bovada.lv Sportsbook Manager

 

Odds to win 2015 NBA Championship 

Cleveland Cavaliers                   4/1

San Antonio Spurs                    5/1

Oklahoma City Thunder              6/1

Chicago Bulls                            7/1

Houston Rockets                      8/1

Los Angeles Clippers                10/1

Indiana Pacers                          18/1

Golden State Warriors               25/1

Portland Trailblazers                  25/1

Dallas Mavericks                       33/1

Los Angeles Lakers                   33/1

Washington Wizards                  33/1

Brooklyn Nets                           40/1

New York Knicks                       40/1

Toronto Raptors                        40/1

Memphis Grizzlies                     50/1

Miami Heat                                50/1

New Orleans Pelicans                50/1

Denver Nuggets                        66/1

Phoenix Suns                            66/1

Atlanta Hawks                           75/1

Boston Celtics                          75/1

Charlotte Hornets                      75/1

Detroit Pistons                          100/1

Minnesota Timberwolves            100/1

Milwaukee Bucks                       200/1

Orlando Magic                          200/1

Philadelphia 76ers                     200/1

Sacramento Kings                     200/1

Utah Jazz                                  200/1

 

Average Points per game in the 2014-2015 NBA Regular Season – LeBron James        

Over/Under                   25.5

 

Average Rebounds per game in the 2014-2015 NBA Regular Season – LeBron James  

Over/Under                   7.5                                           

 

Average Assists per game in the 2014-2015 NBA Regular Season – LeBron James       

Over/Under                   7

 

Will LeBron James win the 2014-2015 NBA MVP?

Yes      3/2

No        1/2

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Dorsey’s Dugout – Andre Johnson’s Best Destination and Domino Effect of NBA Free Agency

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Dorsey’s Dugout – Andre Johnson’s Best Destination and Domino Effect of NBA Free Agency

Posted on 11 July 2014 by Nick Dorsey

 

Andre Johnson

The longtime Texan star is entering the 12th season of his career and Andre Johnson wants out of Houston. Johnson is 33 years old and the light at the end of the tunnel is getting just a bit brighter. After going through a 2-14 season while hauling in passes from Case Keenum on a consistent basis, Johnson deserves an opportunity to be dealt to a contender.

Houston is not far out from contending for the AFC South division title and a shot back into the AFC playoff race, but they are missing the most crucial piece of a franchise. Johnson was patient enough to see if general manager Rick Smith would add a potential franchise quarterback through the draft, but Smith waited around to the fourth round to draft former Pitt QB Tom Savage.

With a quarterback battle ahead in training camp featuring Ryan Fitzpatrick, Case Keenum and Tom Savage, Johnson has a right to be displeased with his situation. A player that has accounted for 221 receptions and 3,005 receiving yards the past two seasons deserves better than the weak QB depth he is presented with at this point in his career.

There are four teams rumored to be interested in the former Hurricane standouts services according to sources around the league. Two of the rumored teams standout as the perfect fit for the six-time pro-bowler.

After an off-season that featured an arms race between two AFC powerhouses, New England might not be done yet making big moves. Everyone saw the struggles Tom Brady had to endure last year with inconsistency at the wide receiver position. New England would be the number one ideal fit for Johnson at this time.

Tom Brady is desperate for a number one receiver and getting a dependable target like Johnson would certainly tickle his fancy. With the uncertainty of Amendola and Gronk’s health, bringing in Johnson would ease Brady’s comfort since Johnson hasn’t missed a game during the last two seasons.

This transaction is a possibility with the familiarity between new Texans head coach Bill O’Brien and Bill Belichick. The Patriots front office has pulled off trades for aging wide outs before such as Randy Moss and Chad Johnson, so this situation is not unrealistic.

There were all kinds of rumors during the off-season about O’Briens interest in acquiring Patriots backup quarterback Ryan Mallett. With New England selecting Jimmy Garoppolo early in the 2014 NFL draft, Mallett is an asset that could be dealt. The Texans need another potential starting quarterback to at least compete in training camp and O’Brien has coached the former Razorback.

With the potential interest in Mallett, the Patriots front office could make this trade a possibility. New England would most likely have to give up a draft pick or two to go along with Mallett to get Johnson in a Pats uniform. This trade would certainly be worth the price because it would make New England the front-runner to represent the AFC in next year’s Super Bowl.

The other destination that could be a reality is the Carolina Panthers. After losing Steve Smith and other parts of the wide receiver corps, Carolina is lacking a true number one target.

The Panthers selected former Seminole Kelvin Benjamin in the first round, but that is not enough for Cam Newton. In a division that features the Saints with the Falcons and Bucs back on the rise, Carolina needs to make this move.

Getting a reliable target like Johnson as Newton’s go-to wide out would keep Carolina in contention for the NFC South title. Adding Johnson to the mix to go along with Benjamin and Olsen would make for a good three-headed receiving corps for Newton to work with.

Benjamin is entering his rookie season and will have to adjust to the speed of the next level. With Johnson entering the mix, it would allow for Benjamin to excel in the red zone while learning to stretch the rest of the field. It would than be up to Johnson and Olsen to work the rest of the field.

NBA Free Agency Dominoes

The NBA free agency period is unlike any other professional sports free agency. The NHL and NFL free agent markets open and teams rush right away to sign the top tier prospects. The NBA period is just a waiting game to see where the first star chooses to go and then the dominoes fall at a fast rate.

The first domino is LeBron James and his decision has the biggest impact on the league. Everyone is awaiting the “Decision 2.0” on whether he goes back home to Cleveland or South Beach because it determines where the rest of the stars of the free agent market go.

Every fan of the sport is frustrated in playing this waiting game, but is there anyone who can be more disturbed than Chris Bosh? The former member of the Heat’s big three has a max deal offer from the Houston Rockets on the table. Bosh is waiting on LeBron because if the King heads back down south, he will follow.

Bosh is playing this waiting game with LeBron, but he should take the max deal offer and become a Houston Rocket. Although the Rockets are in the more difficult Western Conference, the Rockets would have a much better shot at winning than the Heat.

With Bosh entering the mix with James Harden and Dwight Howard, there would be a new big three in the NBA. Harden is a versatile player who can get the rest of his teammates involved regularly or take over a game himself. Howard would make for a dominant presence inside and Bosh would compliment that style the best.

Chris Bosh during his days with the Heat tended to favor shooting around the perimeter. With Howard running the show inside, it would allow for Bosh to do what he feels most comfortable doing at this point in his career.

The Rockets need to react fast with Chandler Parsons signing an offer sheet with the Dallas Mavericks. If LeBron does not make a decision within the next few days, Houston will have to essentially make a salary cap decision to either match the Mavericks offer or hope that Bosh comes to Texas.

The Kings decision does more than just change up destinations for the free agent pool, it changes the landscape of the league. When the Akron native elected to go to south beach, the league went into a power team format. Franchises were signing several stars to one team in attempt to grab the Larry O’Brien trophy.

If the King elects to go back to Cleveland, the short era of superstar teams comes to an end. The Super team era showed its success during the four-season run as the Heat won two out of four championships. The other two losses were to teams that weren’t considered lineups with one or two superstars, but teams that played well together with several different complimentary pieces.
With the success that the Spurs have had in the past few years showing how they all work and play together as one unit, the landscape of the league could be swinging back to that style. When LeBron makes his decision final, that will be something to watch out for as the rest of the players find their homes.

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Former Towson RB West participating in NFLPA Rookie Premiere

Posted on 31 May 2014 by WNST Staff

LOS ANGELES, Calif. – Former Towson football running back Terrance West will be among the group of 35 top rookies from the 2014 NFL Draft class who will come together in Los Angeles from May 29-31 to learn the business of football at the 20th annual National Football League Players Association (NFLPA) Rookie Premiere.

Throughout the event, players will gain information to assist in the development of their professional careers. The union’s annual orientation includes seminars focused on financial planning, brand building, group player rights, and social media best practices.

Among the featured guest speakers are former and active NFL players Marshall FaulkWillie McGinestTorry HoltBrandon WilliamsDaunte CulpepperKevin BentleyJamaal CharlesIsrael Idonije and Austin Pettis. Additional speakers include NFLPA Executive Director DeMaurice Smith and NFL Players Inc. (NFLPI) President Keith Gordon.

“NFLPA Rookie Premiere is an unparalleled opportunity for our partners to engage with tomorrow’s most influential athletes today,” said Gordon. “For the first time as professionals, players will learn about the business of football from fellow players, union leadership, and industry experts as they start to build a game plan to succeed beyond their playing careers.”

The three-day event, hosted by NFLPI, the marketing and licensing arm of the NFLPA, will also feature one of the most thrilling moments for any rookie – wearing their official Nike team uniforms for the first time during photo shoots with trading card companies Panini America and Topps at LA Memorial Coliseum.

Other notable rookies joining West at the 2014 NFLPA Rookie Premiere include quarterback Blake Bortles (Central Florida, Jacksonville Jaguars), quarterback Teddy Bridgewater (Louisville, Minnesota Vikings), defensive end Jadeveon Clowney (South Carolina, Houston Texans), wide receiver Marqise Lee (Southern Cal, Jacksonville Jaguars), linebacker Khalil Mack (Buffalo, Oakland Raiders), quarterback Johnny Manziel (Texas A&M, Cleveland Browns) and wide receiver Sammy Watkins (Clemson, Buffalo Bills).

Launched in Los Angeles in 1994, NFLPA Rookie Premiere is unique across professional sports as the event provides business partners with unmatched access to many of the NFL’s most promising and marketable young stars. Each year, NFLPI facilitates approximately 100 individual player service deals for NFLPA Rookie Premiere participants.

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Former Towson RB West picked by Browns in round three

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Former Towson RB West picked by Browns in round three

Posted on 10 May 2014 by WNST Staff

NEW YORK, N.Y. – Former Towson running back Terrance West was selected by the Cleveland Browns in the third round of the 2014 National Football League Draft on Friday night.

West was the sixth running back taken in this year’s draft and the 94th overall selection.

West becomes the fifth Towson football player to be drafted and the highest ever selection. Offensive tackle Jermon Bushrod was drafted by the New Orleans Saints in the fourth round at pick No. 125 overall in 2007. Running backs David Meggett (1989) and Tony Vinson (1995) were each chosen in the fifth round and kicker Randy Bielski was chosen in the 12th round in 1980.

West was Cleveland’s fourth pick in the first three rounds. The Browns selected cornerback Justin Gilbert with the eighth overall pick and then traded back into the first round to grab Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel with the 22nd overall pick. Cleveland selected offensive tackle Joel Bitonio with the third pick in the second round (No. 35 overall) and also picked outside linebacker Chris Kirksey from Iowa earlier in the third round.

A three-time All-America running back, West was a consensus All-America first team selection in 2013 when he led all college football players with 2,509 rushing yards and 42 touchdowns.

Honored as the 2013 Colonial Athletic Association Offensive Player of the Year and a finalist for the 2013 Walter Payton Award, West led the Tigers to the NCAA FCS championship game. With a record of 13-3, the Tigers were national runners-up.

With 2,509 rushing yards, West shattered the NCAA FCS single season record of 2,326 yards set by Jamaal Branch of Colgate in 2003. He also broke the NCAA FCS record with 42 touchdowns, eclipsing the record of 39 set by Omar Cuff of Delaware in 2007.

In his three-year career at Towson, West ran for 4,849 yards on 802 carries with 84 touchdowns. His 84 career rushing touchdowns tied the NCAA FCS record set by Adrian Peterson of Georgia Southern from 1998 to 2001.

West, who also caught two touchdown passes in his career, ended his career with 86 total touchdowns scored. He ranks third on the NCAA FCS all-time list of touchdown scorers. Brian Westbrook of Villanova holds the record with 89 touchdowns while Peterson is second with 87 touchdowns.

The winner of the Jerry Rice Award as the top freshman in NCAA FCS in 2011, West earned All-CAA first team honors three times. During his career, West was named as the CAA Offensive Player of the Week seven times.

In 2013, he scored at least one touchdown in all 16 games for the Tigers. He also ran for more than 100 yards 12 times and had four 200-plus-yard games. In the Tigers’ NCAA FCS quarterfinal victory over No. 2 Eastern Illinois, he set an NCAA FCS playoff record by rushing for 354 yards. He also scored five touchdowns against Eastern Illinois.

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Orioles claim INF Adams off waivers from Indians

Posted on 23 March 2014 by WNST Staff

Orioles claim INF David Adams off waivers from Cleveland 

The Orioles today announced that they have claimed INF DAVID ADAMS off waivers from the Cleveland Indians. To make room for Adams on the 40-man roster, LHP KELVIN DE LA CRUZhas been designated for assignment.

Adams, 27, appeared in 43 games for the New York Yankees in 2013, batting .193/.252/.286 with two homers and 13 RBI. Adams made 38 starts for the Yankees in 2013, including 29 at third base, where he posted a .985 fielding percentage. In 412 minor league games over six seasons, Adams is a career .291/.376/.441 hitter with 28 homers and 222 RBI.

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Pettine adds Moeller, Montgomery, former Raven Weaver to Browns staff

Posted on 06 February 2014 by WNST Staff

BEREA, Ohio – Cleveland Browns Head Coach Mike Pettine on Wednesday named 11 assistants to his initial coaching staff. Pettine named George DeLeone assistant offensive line coach, Chris DiSanto assistant strength and conditioning coach, Richard Hightower offensive quality control coach, Dowell Loggains quarterbacks coach, Derik Keyes assistant strength and conditioning coach, Mike McDaniel wide receivers coach, Andy Moeller offensive line coach, Wilbert Montgomery running backs coach, Paul Ricci strength and conditioning coach, Tony Tuioti defensive quality control coach and Anthony Weaver defensive line coach.

The Browns coaching staff also includes coordinators Jim O’Neil (defense), Kyle Shanahan (offense) and Chris Tabor (special teams), and assistants Brian Angelichio (tight ends), Bobby Babich (assistant secondary), Chuck Driesbach (linebackers), Brian Fleury (assistant linebackers), Jeff Hafley (secondary) and Shawn Mennenga (assistant special teams).

Assistant offensive line coach George DeLeone

DeLeone is a veteran coach of 41 seasons, including the last three at Connecticut where he served as offensive coordinator from 2011-12 and associate head coach/offensive line in 2013.

He has spent 37 years coaching on the collegiate level and four in the NFL. DeLeone has coached in 12 bowl games, including the Fiesta, Sugar, Gator and Orange bowls. On the professional level, he was the San Diego Chargers offensive line coach (1997) and the tight ends coach for the Miami Dolphins (2008-10).

DeLeone also coached at Southern Connecticut (1970-79), Rutgers (1980-83), Holy Cross (1984), Syracuse (1985-96 and 1998-2003), Mississippi (2005) and Temple (2006-07).

During his 18 seasons at Syracuse, the Orange played in 12 bowl games, posting an 8-3-1 record. While working with the offensive line at Syracuse, five of his players were drafted in the NFL.

The New Haven, Conn., native graduated from Connecticut with a degree in physical education. He also earned a master’s degree in physical education from Southern Connecticut.

Assistant strength and conditioning coach Chris DiSanto

DiSanto first joined the Browns as assistant strength and conditioning coach in 2013.

DiSanto spent the 2012 season in the same position at the University of California. Prior to his time with the Golden Bears, DiSanto served four seasons (2008-11) as assistant strength and conditioning coach with the Oakland Raiders.

After graduating from West Chester (Pa.) University in 2000, DiSanto served as a volunteer strength and conditioning coach for the Philadelphia Eagles for three seasons (2000-02), while also serving as an assistant strength and conditioning coach with the Philadelphia Kixx (Major Indoor Soccer League), the Philadelphia Wings (National Lacrosse League) and at his alma mater. In 2005, DiSanto served as the offensive line and assistant strength and conditioning coach for the University of Pikeville. DiSanto spent 2007 as a strength and conditioning intern with the Minnesota Vikings.

A native of Holland, Pa., DiSanto played four years with multiple teams in Arena Football League 2 as an offensive and defensive lineman. During the 2006 season, DiSanto served as captain for the Spokane Shock and helped the team capture the league championship.

Offensive quality control coach Richard Hightower

Hightower, who spent the past four seasons with the Washington Redskins, owns eight years of coaching experience, including seven in the NFL.

After spending two years (2010-11) as the Redskins’ assistant special teams coach, Hightower acquired additional duties assisting the defensive backs in 2012. During his tenure, he helped linebacker Lorenzo Alexander reach the 2013 Pro Bowl and aided a defensive unit that ranked tied for third in interceptions in 2012.

Prior to Washington, Hightower spent the 2009 season coaching wide receivers at the University of Minnesota, where he guided Eric Decker to first-team All-Big Ten honors. Decker, selected by the Denver Broncos in the third round of the 2010 draft, has registered at least 85 receptions and 1,000 receiving yards in each of his past two NFL seasons.

Hightower launched his coaching career as an assistant with the Houston Texans (2006-07), before being elevated to special teams assistant in 2008.

A native of Houston, Texas, Hightower received a bachelor of arts in marketing at Texas, where he was a three-year letterman.

Quarterbacks coach Dowell Loggains

Loggains (pronounced DAAW-uhl LOGG-ins) spent the past eight years (2006-13) with the Tennessee Titans. He served as the offensive coordinator in 2013 and during the final five games in 2012. Last season, he helped Tennessee to a 3-1 start before an injury to QB Jake Locker.

Loggains was the quarterbacks coach from 2010-12, when he worked with Kerry Collins, Vince Young, Matt Hasselbeck and Locker, a first-round pick in 2011. The previous two seasons (2008-09), Loggains was the quality control coach for the offense. He originally joined Tennessee as a coaching administrative assistant (2006-07).

Prior to the Titans, Loggains spent the 2005 season as a scouting assistant with the Dallas Cowboys. His duties included assisting with opponent film breakdown, self-scouting and statistical analysis to be used in game-plan preparation.

A native of Newport, Ark., Loggains was a four-year letterman as a quarterback at Arkansas, where he appeared in 50 games. He graduated with a bachelor of science and master’s degree in education. Loggains was a two-year starter at quarterback for Abilene Cooper (Texas) High School.

Assistant strength and conditioning coach Derik Keyes

Keyes first joined the Browns as assistant strength and conditioning coach in 2013.

Keyes spent the 2012 season in the same capacity with the Houston Texans. Prior to joining the Texans, Keyes was an assistant strength and conditioning coach at his alma mater, the University of Louisiana-Lafayette, for the 2011 season. He began his coaching career as an assistant strength and conditioning intern in 2009 at Louisiana-Lafayette.

A four-year letterman as a safety at Louisiana-Lafayette, Keyes was named second-team All-Sun Belt Conference as a senior. He earned a bachelor’s degree in public relations/business finance in 2008.

Wide receivers coach Mike McDaniel

McDaniel spent the past three seasons with the Washington Redskins, first as an offensive assistant (2011-12) before serving last season as wide receivers coach.

In 2013, he helped Pierre Garcon lead the NFL and set a franchise record with 113 receptions. His total surpassed Hall of Famer Art Monk’s mark of 106, which stood for 29 years. Garcon also finished eighth in the league with 1,346 receiving yards.

From 2009-10, McDaniel coached the running backs for the UFL’s Sacramento Mountain Lions (originally named the California Redwoods). In 2010, Mountain Lions running back Cory Ross was named UFL Offensive Player of the Year.

McDaniel spent three seasons (2006-08) as an offensive assistant with the Houston Texans. In 2008, WR Andre Johnson led the NFL in receiving yards (1,575) and receptions (115).

McDaniel got his start in coaching as an intern with the Denver Broncos in 2005.

A native of Greeley, Colo., McDaniel was a wide receiver at Yale, where he earned his bachelor’s degree in history.

Offensive line coach Andy Moeller

Moeller spent the past six seasons (2008-13) with the Baltimore Ravens. He was an assistant offensive coach for three years before spending the past three as offensive line coach.

Under Moeller’s guidance, guard Marshal Yanda was selected to the Pro Bowl from 2011-13 and guard Ben Grubbs was named to the Pro Bowl in 2011. In 2012, the Ravens scored a franchise-record 398 points and totaled the second-most total yards (5,640) in team history en route to winning Super Bowl XLVII.

Moeller’s offensive line helped pave the way for running back Ray Rice, who registered more than 1,100 rushing yards and 1,600 scrimmage yards in four consecutive seasons (2009-12).  Rice led the NFL with 2,068 yards from scrimmage in 2011.

Prior to Baltimore, Moeller spent eight seasons at Michigan, where he served as tight ends/offensive tackles coach from 2000-01 and offensive line coach from 2002-07. He tutored two All-Americans, center David Baas (2004) and tackle Jake Long (2006-07), the first-overall pick in the 2008 NFL Draft. Moeller’s offensive line helped block for a 1,000-yard rusher in five of his six seasons as offensive line coach.

Before joining Michigan, he spent six years at Missouri. Moeller served as offensive line coach from 1997-99 after coaching the tight ends, tackles and special teams from 1994-96. He coached Army’s offensive line, inside linebackers and special teams from 1998-93. He began his coaching career as a graduate assistant at Indiana in 1987.

A four-year letterman and two-year starter at linebacker for Michigan, Moeller earned first-team All-Big Ten honors. A native of Ann Arbor, Mich., Moeller earned a bachelor of arts degree in economics and communications.

Running backs coach Wilbert Montgomery

Montgomery spent the past six seasons (2008-13) as the Baltimore Ravens running backs coach. During his time in Baltimore, the Ravens made five playoff appearances, captured two division titles and won Super Bowl XLVII.

He oversaw the development of 2008 second-round pick Ray Rice, who was named to three Pro Bowls (2009, 2011-12) and was named second-team Associated Press All-Pro twice (2009, 2011). Rice rushed for more than 1,100 yards and 1,600 scrimmage yards in four straight seasons (2009-12).  He led the NFL with 2,068 yards from scrimmage in 2011 and was second in the league with 1,364 rushing yards. He also set a team record with 15 total touchdowns. Rice ranked fourth in the NFL with 9,214 scrimmage yards (6,180 rushing and 3,034 receiving) from 2008-13.

Montgomery also helped fullbacks Le’Ron McClain (2008-09) and Vonta Leach (2011-12) to multiple Pro Bowls.

In 2008, Montgomery’s unit ranked fourth in the NFL in rushing yards per game (148.5) and fifth in 2009 (137.5). The Ravens also set a team record with 22 rushing touchdowns in 2009.

Prior to Baltimore, Montgomery spent two seasons (2006-07) as the Detroit Lions running backs coach after spending nine years (1997-2005) with the St. Louis Rams. He coached the Rams running backs from 1997-99 and 2003-05, while serving as tight ends coach from 2000-02.

In St. Louis, Montgomery guided two of the NFL’s top running backs in Marshall Faulk and Steven Jackson. Faulk currently ranks 10th on the NFL’s all-time rushing list, while Jackson is 20th.

During his first season with the Rams (1999), Faulk set an NFL record with 2,429 yards from scrimmage as he joined Roger Craig as the only player to total 1,000-plus rushing and receiving yards in a season. Faulk was named the NFL Offensive Player of the Year as St. Louis led the NFL in total offense (fifth in rushing) and went on to capture Super Bowl XXXIV.

Prior to joining the coaching ranks, Montgomery spent nine seasons (1977-85) in the NFL as a running back. He was a sixth-round pick by Philadelphia and played eight seasons with the Eagles (1977-84). He finished his playing career with Detroit in 1985.

Montgomery was a two-time Pro Bowl honoree (1978-79) and two-time AP All-Pro selection (1978-79). In 1979, he led the NFL in yards from scrimmage with 2,012.

An inaugural inductee of the Eagles’ Honor Roll in 1987, Montgomery holds the Eagles’ franchise record in several categories, including career rushing yards (6,538).

As a four-year starter at Abilene Christian, Montgomery set the NAIA record for career touchdowns with 76. He also set the record for touchdowns by a freshman with 37 in 1973, while leading the Wildcats to the NAIA Division I national championship. Montgomery was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 1986.

Strength and conditioning coach Paul Ricci

Ricci spent the past two seasons (2012-13) as an assistant strength and conditioning coach with the New York Jets. Prior to joining the Jets, he served as the director of basketball performance at Texas Tech for one season (2011-12). Ricci was the director of basketball performance at Maryland from 2008-11.

Ricci spent nine seasons (1999-2008) on the strength and conditioning staff of the Baltimore Ravens, including the staff that helped the team claim a victory in Super Bowl XXXV.

Ricci had a one-year stint on the strength and conditioning staff of the Arizona Cardinals (1996), in addition to spending spring training with the San Diego Padres (1996).

Ricci played offensive line for Penn State. He earned a master’s of education from Goucher College and an undergraduate degree from Temple University.

Defensive quality control coach Tony Tuioti

Tuioti (pronounced TOO-ee-oh-TEE) spent the past six seasons at Hawaii. He served as the team’s linebackers coach (2012-13), defensive tackles coach (2010-11) and director of player personnel (2008-09).

In 2010, the Rainbow Warriors led the nation in takeaways (38). In addition, Tuioti’s defensive tackles registered 22.5 of the team’s 30 sacks.

Prior to Hawaii, Tuioti served as defensive coordinator at Silverado High School in Las Vegas, Nev., where he helped the team to the Southeast Division championship with a 10-1 record. Tuioti was the head coach at Kalaheo High School on O‘ahu in Hawaii from 2003-05. He led the Mustangs to the OIA playoffs for the first time in 10 years and was the youngest varsity head coach in the state.

A four-year letterman at Hawaii, Tuioti was an All-WAC defensive lineman. He is one of two former Rainbow Warriors to win a WAC championship as both a player and coach.

Tuioti earned his bachelor’s degree in sociology from Hawaii. He served as graduate assistant coach from 2000-01, while earning his master’s in educational administration. Tuioti also received a second master’s degree in special education from UNLV.

Defensive line coach Anthony Weaver

Weaver spent last season as the defensive line coach with the Buffalo Bills, where his defensive linemen accounted for 47 of the Bills’ 57 sacks, a franchise record and the second-most in the NFL in 2013. Buffalo was the only team to have three players record double-digit sacks, with DE Mario Williams leading the team and finishing fourth in the NFL with 13. DT Kyle Williams registered a career-high 10.5 and DE Jerry Hughes recorded a career-best 10. DT Marcell Dareus added a career-most 7.5 sacks. All four players were selected to the Pro Bowl.

Prior to Buffalo, Weaver spent the 2012 season as the assistant defensive line coach with the New York Jets. He also spent a season (2011) as the linebackers coach at North Texas after beginning his coaching career as a defensive graduate assistant at Florida in 2010.

As a defensive end, Weaver was a second-round pick by the Baltimore Ravens in 2002 and played seven NFL seasons. He appeared in 103 regular-season games with 98 starts, while spending time with Baltimore (2002-05) and Houston (2006-08). He recorded 260 career tackles, 15.5 sacks, three interceptions, five forced fumbles and five fumble recoveries.

A native of Saratoga Springs, N.Y., Weaver was a four-year starter at Notre Dame and earned All-America honors.

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Former Ravens offensive line coach Moeller reportedly on way to Cleveland

Posted on 01 February 2014 by Luke Jones

After Ravens head coach John Harbaugh appointed Juan Castillo to the title of offensive line coach after the 2013 season, it appeared very likely that Andy Moeller would be moving on from the organization.

According to The Sun, Moeller will become the new offensive line coach of the Cleveland Browns after spending six years with the Ravens — the last three as offensive line coach. Castillo served as the Ravens’ run-game coordinator last year, essentially resulting in a demotion for Moeller as the offensive line dealt with injuries and performed poorly in an 8-8 season.

New Cleveland head coach Mike Pettine worked on the same staff as Moeller in Baltimore during Harbaugh’s first season as the Ravens head coach. Pettine served as a defensive assistant for seven years in Baltimore under Brian Billick and Harbaugh.

Assistant offensive line coach Todd Washington appears likely to remain on the Baltimore staff after turning down the offensive line coach position at USC earlier this winter.

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Deserving or not, Ravens remain firmly in AFC playoff hunt

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Deserving or not, Ravens remain firmly in AFC playoff hunt

Posted on 18 November 2013 by Luke Jones

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They don’t deserve to be in the postseason and certainly don’t look like a playoff team.

The eyeball test warrants a failing grade.

Too little consistency and too many bad losses will cost them at the end of the season.

They’re simply not good enough.

The following statements have been used over and over in describing the Ravens as they’ve lost four of their last five games to fall to 4-6 on the season and 2 1/2 games behind division-leading Cincinnati in the AFC North.

And those same descriptions can and have been used to describe the seven other teams currently jockeying for the final wild-card spot in the AFC playoff picture. In fact, “plodding” might be a better term to use in describing the race for the No. 6 seed in the conference.

Unless commissioner Roger Goodell elects to eliminate the final spot, a team with an underwhelming résumé through Week 11 will find itself playing in January as the final seed in the single-elimination tournament. The New York Jets and Miami Dolphins hold the slight edge at the moment over the rest of the pack at 5-5, but their flaws are as apparent as any of the six 4-6 teams chasing them.

“What it goes to show you is how close it is, and what a razor-thin margin it is in the National Football League,” coach John Harbaugh said in describing the current playoff picture. “That’s what makes the National Football League great. We would all rather be sitting here talking about being atop the division and chasing a home-field advantage or something like that. And that’s something that we were shooting for. We wanted to be in that position. We haven’t done the things we needed to do to be in that position.”

The frustration is understandable after a 4-6 start, but deeming the Ravens undeserving of the playoffs and writing them off are subjective statements that would be true in most seasons but are made in isolation from the rest of the field through Week 11. While I’m unwilling to say they’re definitively better than any of the other seven teams fighting for the final spot, you won’t convince me that any of those competitors are superior to the Ravens, either.

The truth is the AFC is mired in mediocrity once you look beyond Denver, New England, Indianapolis, Cincinnati, and Kansas City, making it difficult to predict which team — if any — will make a strong run over the final six weeks to sneak in. At this point, 10-6 would virtually guarantee the final playoff spot, but 9-7 has a good shot of being the season-ending target.

As mediocre as the entire field of 5-5 and 4-6 teams has looked, even an 8-8 record — or, gasp, 7-9? — with a favorable tie-breaker arsenal could conceivably be awarded with the No. 6 seed. Whether you elect to embrace that possibility with any level of enthusiasm is your choice.

With a head-to-head tie-breaking win over Miami and a meeting with the Jets this Sunday, the Ravens have an opportunity to gain the upper hand against the two teams they’re currently chasing in the wild-card race. That doesn’t mean they have the advantage over the rest of the field, but their chances appear no worse than any other team — even if you must hold your nose while saying that.

“We are right there. We can do it, and we’re good enough to do it,” Harbaugh said. “We’ve got every tool we need; all we have to do is go get it done. But that’s on us. We believe we have what it takes, but it’s up to us to prove it, and we’ve got to go prove it by winning these games.”

Whether the Ravens can do it remains to be seen, but three straight games at home starting Sunday provides a crucial opportunity to stack wins and ease the pain from their current 1-5 record on the road.

Here’s a look at the rest of the race for the AFC’s No. 6 seed in the current order in which teams stand based on tie-breaking procedures, which I’ll forgo including beyond conference records for now:

6. NEW YORK (5-5)
Conference record: 2-5
Remaining schedule: at Baltimore, Miami, Oakland, at Carolina, Cleveland, at Miami
Case for: Only one game remaining against a team with a winning record, league’s top-ranked run defense
Case against: Struggling rookie quarterback Geno Smith, minus-85 point differential (worst among the eight contenders for No. 6 seed)

7. MIAMI (5-5)
Conference record: 4-3
Remaining schedule: Carolina, at New York Jets, at Pittsburgh, New England, at Buffalo, New York Jets
Case for: One of the NFL’s better pass rushes, potential of young quarterback Ryan Tannehill
Case against: 31st in total offense, fallout from the Jonathan Martin-Richie Incognito saga

8. OAKLAND (4-6)
Conference record: 4-3
Remaining schedule: Tennessee, at Dallas, at New York Jets, Kansas City, at San Diego, Denver
Case for: Fourth-ranked run offense, sixth-ranked run defense
Case against: Unrest at quarterback position, 25th-ranked pass defense

9. TENNESSEE (4-6)
Conference record: 3-4
Remaining schedule: at Oakland, at Indianapolis, at Denver, Arizona, at Jacksonville, Houston
Case for: Seventh-ranked pass defense, fifth in conference in takeaways
Case against: Season-ending injury to quarterback Jake Locker, four remaining road games

10. PITTSBURGH (4-6)
Conference record: 3-4
Remaining schedule: at Cleveland, at Baltimore, Miami, Cincinnati, at Green Bay, Cleveland
Case for: One game remaining against teams currently above .500, veteran quarterback Ben Roethlisberger
Case against: 30th-ranked rush offense, 26th in run defense

11. BALTIMORE (4-6)
Conference record: 4-4
Remaining schedule: New York Jets, Pittsburgh, Minnesota, at Detroit, New England, at Cincinnati
Case for: Expected return of Dennis Pitta, four remaining home games
Case against: 31st in yards per carry and 30th in total offense, three games remaining against teams currently above .500

12. CLEVELAND (4-6)
Conference record: 3-4
Remaining schedule: Pittsburgh, Jacksonville, at New England, Chicago, at New York Jets, at Pittsburgh
Case for: Fifth in total defense, play-making ability of wide receiver Josh Gordon and tight end Jordan Cameron
Case against: 26th-ranked rush offense, 10th in AFC in takeaways

13. SAN DIEGO (4-6)
Conference record: 2-5
Remaining schedule: at Kansas City, Cincinnati, New York Giants, at Denver, Oakland, Kansas City
Case for: Fourth-ranked passing offense, plus-4 point differential (best among the eight No.6 seed contenders)
Case against: 27th in pass defense, four games remaining against teams currently above .500

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