Tag Archive | "corey graham"

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Jimmy Smith, the breakout player of 2013

Posted on 13 July 2013 by jeffreygilley

Every year, there are players who “break out.” This year, one of them will be the physically imposing Jimmy Smith.

Smith was brought to Baltimore with high expectations. He was dubbed the Ravens’ next great cornerback and was expected to match up with the best of the best.

Going into the 2011 draft, Smith was viewed as a top ten talent. Some experts even said Smith was better than Patrick Peterson, the fifth overall pick in the same draft.

Smith has had an inconsistent start to his career. In a 35-7 blowout victory over the Pittsburgh Steelers in 2011, Smith was injured on the very first play. Smith would come back that season and played well in stretches but was susceptible to double moves.

Perhaps Smith’s inconsistent play can be attributed to his college career. Smith was plagued by off field issues but they did not overshadow his performance in his junior and senior seasons. Over that time period, Smith gave up 11 completions with only one being for a first down. Those statistics are impressive by themselves but even more so when you consider Smith played in the pass-happy Pac 12-Conference. When looking at film from that year, teams rarely tested him in the passing game. Smith even excelled in run defense.

Because of his success in college, Smith is not used to being tested. Now that he has experience, he will have a great 2013 season.

Smith also has momentum on his side going into 2013. As I predicted, Smith had a huge impact on Super Bowl XLVII. Smith, the Ravens best tackling cornerback was assigned to cover Michael Crabtree towards the end of the game. Smith more than delivered by breaking up two passes. By forcing these two incompletions, the 49ers turned the ball over and the rest is history.

Lardarius Webb is the unquestioned number one corner on the Ravens’ roster. Smith will have to compete with Corey Graham who is second on the depth chart at this point. Offseason reports suggest Smith is a completely different player. According to these reports, Smith is more of a professional and is pushing Graham early on. Graham is a great corner but is more of a nickel corner. In addition, Smith’s physical prowess make him more suited to play on the outside.

The Ravens will need a solid year out of Jimmy. Have you seen the schedule? There are many elite receivers the Ravens will face. They include Demaryius Thomas, Andre Johnson, AJ Green, Brandon Marshall, and Calvin Johnson. Outside of Smith, there is not a cornerback on the roster that can match up physically with these players.

Expect a great season out of Jimmy Smith. He has every tool to become a superstar in the NFL.

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Baltimore Ravens 2013 Season Preview Part Three: Predicting the Biggest Positional Battles

Posted on 06 July 2013 by jeffreygilley

It’s no secret the Ravens are a different team. Starters that must be replaced include Carry Williams, Ed Reed, Ray Lewis, Dannell Ellerbe, Vonta Leach, and Anquan Boldin. Paul Kruger is also gone but he was more of a role player that rotated starts with rookie Courtney UpShaw.

The following are my projections for the most heated roster battles.


Torrey Smith is the only receiver guaranteed a starting spot. Jacoby Jones is a veteran but struggled in Houston when given a larger workload. Therefore, Jones will be competing with Tandon Doss, Deonte Thompson, Tommy Streeter, David Reed, and LaQuan Williams. So far, Thompson has made the most of offseason workouts. According to reports, he displays great hands and improved route running ability to go along with his blazing speed.

When the Ravens face the Broncos on Sept. 5, Jacoby Jones will start across from Torrey Smith. He is experienced and made plays when given the opportunity last season. The third receiver will be Danton Doss with Deonte Thompson winning the fourth receiver spot on the depth chart. Doss’s skill set translates well to the slot receiver position. His hands, physicality, and ability to get upfield after the catch will make him a nice weapon for Flacco.


I am a huge Jimmy Smith fan. Smith has too much potential to be the Ravens nickel corner. If he can put everything together, he will be starting opposite Lardarius Webb. Corey Graham would then be the team’s nickel corner. Successfully defending two passes to Michael Crabtree towards the end of the Super Bowl will be positive plays for Smith to build upon.

Chykie Brown could be a sleeper to receive playing time this season. He showed promise last season and played frequently towards the end of the season.

Inside linebacker:

John Harbaugh and the Ravens have a lot of options at inside linebacker. Jameel McClain will likely start. Therefore, the competition really comes down to Arthur Brown and Darryl Smith. Brown was a second round selection in the 2013 draft and is projected to be a defensive rookie of the year candidate. But Smith brings experience and proven ability at inside linebacker. In the beginning of the season, I think Smith will start on running downs and Brown will play on passing downs. Brown has excellent coverage ability and when paired with McClain, they could make up a great duo in pass coverage.

Bryan Hall could also receive playing time pending the training camp competition. Hall played along the defensive line last season but is making the switch to inside linebacker. Hall could play in certain blitz packages but for the most part, will be a special teams player.

Nose tackle

After a solid 2011 season, many thought Mount Cody would break out in 2012. But Cody struggled. He was consistently pushed around and made little impact against teams with great running games. Ozzie Newsome has made an effort to improve the middle of the defense through the draft and free agency. Brandon Williams was drafted in the third round and Marcus Spears and Chris Canty were signed in free agency. Spears and Canty won’t play nose tackle but they will improve the middle of the defense.

I think Brandon Williams will win the starting job. Cody had hip surgery which could explain his poor play in 2012. If Cody can get healthy and play like he did in 2011, the Ravens will have a great rotation at nose tackle.


Replacing Matt Birk will be difficult. Birk was a great leader and will be replaced by either Gino Gradkowski or AQ Shipley. Gradkowski was drafted out of Delaware in the fourth round of the 2012 draft. Gradkowski was projected to be the starter once Birk retired but Shipley played very well for the Colts last season. He played so well that he earned a plus 6.9 rating from Pro Football Focus.

Gradkowski is the early favorite but Shipley is a solid veteran that could start should Gradkowski struggle.

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Will the Ravens defense improve in 2013?

Posted on 01 April 2013 by jeffreygilley

Four weeks ago, everyone outside of Baltimore was skeptical of Ozzie Newsome. First, Anquan Boldin was traded to the 49ers. Shortly after, Paul Kruger signed with the Browns and Dannell Ellerbe left for Miami. Ellerbe was viewed as the top priority for the Ravens but the Dolphins were willing to pay more for his services.

But that was just the beginning. Other key players including Carry Williams Ed Reed also joined other teams. Bernard Pollard is also no longer part of the team. Pollard was released and has since signed with the Tennessee Titans.

All of these players were critical to the Ravens regular and postseason success. Despite that, I believe the defense will be better. But then again, it’s not difficult to improve when the Ravens ranked in the high teens and low 20’s in most defensive categories.

Despite these losses, can the Ravens defense improve in 2013? The short answer is yes. The reason? Versatility.

All of the free agents the Ravens have signed this offseason have the ability to play multiple positions. Chris Canty and Marcus Spears can play almost every position on the defensive line and Michael Huff can play any position in the secondary.

The additions of Canty and Spears give the Ravens a scary rotation along the defensive line. Pernell McPhee and Arthur Jones will also be vital parts of that rotation. Even Deangelo Tyson could get playing time.

With Canty, Spears, McPhee, Tyson, and Jones in a rotation at the 3-4 defensive end and defensive tackle spots, Haloti Ngata can play more nose tackle, which is his favorite position.

Add Elvis Dumervil to that equation and I would be shocked if the Ravens don’t come close to leading the NFL in sacks. Dumervil and Suggs will consistently command attention on the outside. In turn, opportunities will open up for Ngata, McPhee, and the rest of the Ravens defensive lineman on the inside.

The only question mark for the Ravens defense to me is the secondary. With Carry Williams departure to Philadelphia and Lardarius Webb’s return from injury, Jimmy Smith and Corey Graham might have to play larger roles this season.

Inside linebacker could be viewed as another area of need but the additions to the defensive line should help the middle of the defense. The Ravens could also look to the draft for a young inside linebacker. Candidates would include Kansas State linebacker Arthur Brown, Notre Dame linebacker Manti Te’o, LSU linebacker Kevin Minter, or Florida linebacker Jon Bostic in the later rounds.

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Graham happy to shake label as solely special-teams player

Posted on 30 January 2013 by WNST Staff


(on growing up in Buffalo) “It was very exciting. I had a great time in Buffalo. My whole family is still there. I enjoyed playing high school football there in the Catholic league. It’s very good competition. I enjoyed it. If I could do it all over again, I would go back and do it again.”

(on his 1700 yard season) “Is that what it was? I was alright. Not too bad of a year. In high school I was a running back and kind of a receiver. If you were throwing the ball, I was the receiver. If you were running the ball, I was the running back. But I had my high school coach. He did a great job of getting me involved in all things. He was like my mentor. Even when I was in college, I went back to train with him. He was a great coach for me and we had a pretty good team. Our basketball team was pretty good but our football team was alright. We could get it done. We had some good times.”


(on his influences in Western New York) “My brother was the one who influenced me the most as far as getting me above the fray to play football. He was the one that pushed me to be the best I could. (He had me) running early and training in the morning and doing all types of stuff. Him and my coach, I would say, they were the two people that influenced me the most.”


(on joining a Super Bowl bound team after leaving Chicago) “This has been amazing. It’s been unreal. I think everything this year has been amazing. I couldn’t ask for anything more. I not only got the opportunity to get a chance to play, but I got the opportunity to play with guys like Ray Lewis and Ed Reed. It’s been amazing. We’ve been riding a long time and now we’re here in the Super Bowl. We have one more step to go, but it’s been an amazing ride so far.”


(on the team being a family atmosphere) “It’s been great. That’s one thing that I was hoping for. In Chicago it’s like that too. The teammates were very close. Everybody was close to each other. Everybody got along. I didn’t want to go to an organization that was the opposite. You hear some stuff on SportsCenter and some stuff on websites talking about how players are fighting each other and they don’t get along with their coaches. It’s the complete opposite here. It’s a family oriented organization. They treat their players good. It’s a first-class organization. There’s nothing more I could ask for.”


(on getting to play defense) “It’s been unreal. That’s what you ask for. You wait five years and I finally get my chance to play on the defense. I couldn’t ask for anything more. When you get an opportunity you make the best out of it.”


(on why he thinks he didn’t get to play defense in Chicago) “I don’t know. It’s different reasons. My second year I was fortunate to get the opportunity to start in eight games and I felt like I played pretty well. But things happen for a reason. They ended up getting different things out of me. They wanted me to be the special teams guy there and so I went out there when I got a chance and made the best out of my opportunity and tried to be the best special teams player in the league. When you’re doing that, sometimes you get labeled like that. It’s tough like that. Sometimes it’s hard to get that label off.”


(on when Baltimore told him he would get to play defense) “No team will tell you that, but it was as simple as this. Obviously they brought me in for special teams but he told me if I showed that I deserved I could play on defense that I would get that opportunity. That’s all I was asking for was the opportunity. I wasn’t asking for any coach to say, “Well yeah, you’re going to play on defense” because that’s based on play. I was just saying if I showed that I deserved to play, will you find a way to get me on the field, and he said yes. That’s all I needed to hear.”


(on the Bears trying to re-sign him) “The Bears did try to resign me. They tried to re-sign me. It wasn’t like they just told me to go ahead and walk. My special teams coach said that he wanted me to be there. Obviously, I wanted to be there with him, but I knew I had to move on and do something bigger.”


(on asking Lovie Smith about why he wasn’t playing on defense) “It was different situations. There wasn’t much to say, really. I would ask him what I needed to do to get better or show that I needed to be on the field and he would say, “Corey, you’re doing everything that I asked you to do.” I don’t know what the situation was, but he fit me as a special teams (player) and he wanted me to be that, and that’s just what it was. I felt like I was playing pretty well when I was there my last two years. I felt like I could have been on the field, but it’s a different defense. In Chicago, basically, you have your two corners, you have your nickel, and that’s it. It’s not a system like here where you sometimes have six defensive backs on the field at the same time and stuff like that. It’s a system where they can create packages and put guys in to get you there. In Chicago it’s a cover two system. It’s simple. You have your exact spots and that’s it. When you watch teams like the Ravens and the Jets, you see different guys, different sets, a lot of guys on the field, a lot of defensive backs. I knew in coming to a different system that I’d have the opportunity to show why I should be out there.”


(on whether or not the offer from the Bears was competitive with the offer from the Ravens) “It wasn’t competitive. It’s funny how things work. Not only was this the best situation, but it was the best situation financially for me also.”


(on his previous contract in Chicago) “It wasn’t a bad contract. It was a one year deal for $1.5 million. I couldn’t have asked for anything more. You go there and you show what you can do. I was fortunate to go out there and make the Pro Bowl and I just tried to do the best I could on special teams. Going into that season, I had a really great training camp and I thought I’d have the chance to play on defense, but things didn’t work out for me. I knew that eventually I was going to try something different.”


(on whether or not other teams were interested in signing him this year) “Yes, I had the opportunity to go to several teams. It was Detroit, Chicago and Seattle. The year before I could have went to a few teams also, but I wanted to be in Chicago at that point. I felt like I would have gotten the chance to play on defense. I didn’t know that going there. I wanted to be there and live there. My family was happy. I wanted to be there. I knew after this year that it was time for me to go.”


(on the offer from Detroit) “I felt like I could definitely have the opportunity to play in Detroit. I just didn’t know if it would have been the best situation. I looked into everything. I wanted to play on defense and that was probably the most important thing. Obviously financially you wanted to get the best situation also. I wanted to go to a competitive place. I wanted to go where I could do well. Don’t get me wrong, Detroit had an up-and-coming team. They made the playoffs last year. When it came down to it, I just felt like Baltimore was a better situation financially and as a team. The offer was closer than Chicago but it wasn’t near Baltimore.”


(on what his view of the Lions was when he was comparing teams) “It was alright. The coaches were really cool. It seems like they really want to improve their building. It’s different. When you go to an organization and you see the way they do things in Baltimore, this is a top of the line organization. It’s tough to compete with Baltimore. I couldn’t tell you exactly what Detroit is missing. You just know it when you see it. They had done well and they have a bunch of young talent, but it’s just different. You can’t really call out exactly what they’re missing. I had a sit down here in Baltimore with the head coach and I thought this was a better situation. Detroit had a lot of things up and down with their defensive backs, but I just felt like I was wanted here more in Baltimore.”


(on the Ravens defensive scheme playing to his skills) “I pretty much think I could play any scheme, but I like it. I love this scheme here. It’s not predictable. A lot of guys can do a lot of things, especially a player like me that can play inside and outside. I think I fit well with this system.”


(on what time he ran in college) “I didn’t run because I broke my ankle in my senior year of college in the fifth game of my season. At the combine, I had a boot on my foot still. I had to get a plate and two screws in my ankle, so it hurt me a lot. I wasn’t able to really run like that my senior year. When I ran it on my junior day before I broke my ankle I was actually pretty fast. I was a 4.3 (second) guy. I ran a 4.37 (second 40-yard dash). I broke my ankle my senior year and I wasn’t really able during my whole first year in the league. My first year was tough. I was probably at about 70 to 80 percent.”


(on playing for the Bears) “I loved being in Chicago. They drafted me and gave me an opportunity to play when, to be honest with you, I didn’t even know if I’d get the chance to play in the league. You go to a D1-AA school and you break your ankle and you can’t run at the combine and show what you can do. When you come back and try to run it at pro days, you might be at 70 percent. You’re just hoping just to get by. I was blessed just to get an opportunity to play in this league. I was hoping I would get picked up as a free agent. I didn’t care. I just wanted to get the chance and they gave me a chance. I was whipping all over the place. I was thankful they gave me the chance to play on special teams and I gave it everything I had. It wasn’t until my second year when I started in eight games that things started to change. I knew what I could do at this level. I was playing against the best receivers in the world and I held on so I felt good about it. After that season, everything turned. I was at starting corner and they moved me to safety for two weeks and when I went back to corner I was behind everybody at corner. I didn’t agree with the way things went.”

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CB Graham admits it’s difficult to keep focused during Super Bowl week

Posted on 30 January 2013 by WNST Staff



(on his journey as a football player) “Amazing, amazing. You know, it’s been a long journey for me. I’ve had the opportunity to play for a lot of great teams and I’m fortunate to be here with the Baltimore Ravens and be in the Super Bowl.”


(on preparing for the Super Bowl) “You know we just, we try to make things the same, try to get used to being down here in New Orleans. It’s a different atmosphere. So we try to make things similar to what they would be every other game week and try to stay focused and continue to do things the way we need to do them to prepare for this game.”


(on whether or not he expected to be here) “When you get drafted to a team that’s in the Super Bowl the year before you get drafted, you kind of assume that you’re going to be here. Coming in I’m like, “Wow, it’s a great team. I’m pretty sure we’re going to get back to the Super Bowl,” and look at me now, 6 years later. This is my first opportunity. So I’m trying to embrace it. I’m trying to enjoy and make sure that I’m taking in everything that New Orleans has to offer and just trying to have fun, but then again prepare for the game and make sure that I’m ready, because that’s the most important thing.”


(on being at the podium next to Ray Lewis) “It’s funny how things work out. Now I’m in the Super Bowl getting the opportunity to play with him for this big game, especially knowing that this is the last year he’ll play football. Look at me now, at media day, sitting next to Ray Lewis. It’s just been amazing.”


(on being grateful to have the opportunity to play on defense) “That’s everybody’s hopes and dreams, that I would get an opportunity to go out there and play, even when I was in Chicago. That’s what they asked from me at the time was to go out there and play special teams. If that’s what they’re going to ask you, you go out there and do the best that you possibly can. I’m fortunate and happy that I’m finally getting the opportunity to show what I can do on defense. I always knew I could do it. But it’s good to show everybody else that I can do it, to show them that I can play out there and I deserve to be out there.”


(on any difference in preparation for the Super Bowl versus the regular season) “Coach is trying to keep everything the same. He wanted this to be as normal of a week as it could possibly be. Obviously being down here is going to be a little different because of all the stuff going on, all the family here and everything of that nature. He’s trying to keep it the same, with the same type of practices, the same preparation. Hopefully we’ll go out there and play the best we possibly can because we’ve prepared as best we possibly can.”


(on keeping focused this week) “It’s been very difficult, to be honest with you. Everybody in your phone book is calling you and asking you if they can get tickets to the Super Bowl. Everybody assumes they’re free. It’s a tough situation. I just tried to put it all off on my wife and let her handle all that, all the hard work. I just try to prepare and get ready for the game which is the most important thing. You come out here, and it’s a great thing, but we’re here for one reason and that’s the most important thing is to play the game and have a good game and hope we win the game.”


(on Randy Moss) “It’s Randy Moss man. He’s been a great in this game for so long. The things he’s been able to do have been outstanding. He’s still got some of that breakaway speed in his legs and he’s still doing a good job. You always have to be prepared and ready for a guy like Randy Moss, because you never know. He’s able to go over top and go deep all the time. I don’t know exactly what coach is going to do as far as that matchup, but we’re just looking to play ball. I don’t think we should have to double anybody if we go out there and ball out and do what we’re supposed to do. Whether it’s Randy Moss or anybody who is a guard that can make plays, I don’t think we’re going to be doing that much doubling.”


(on distractions at the Super Bowl) “Honestly, I’ve put most of that off on someone else. There’s going to be a lot of distraction, there’s going to be a lot of family members. They’re going to want you to do things, to go out to eat, to go here and go there. Just tell them you’re getting ready for a game or you have to prepare for the game as best you can. Put it off on your wife or your girlfriend or whoever you’ve got. Don’t try to do anything, just try to keep the week as normal as possible. Go about the week the same way you would if you were in Baltimore.”

– more –


Super Bowl XLVII – Tuesday, January 29, 2013







(on Bernard Pollard’s comments on safety and rule changes in the league) “I don’t know as much about what Bernard was saying, but I did read it a little bit. It’s a tough situation. As a defensive player it’s tough on us. Pretty much you can’t hit anybody these days. You just have to find a way. Obviously player safety is important and as a player we know that that’s something we need to look into, but as a competitor also, you need to be able to play the game a little bit and it’s making it a lot tougher on us. When guys are going across the middle, when guys are catching balls, you’re scared to hit guys now because you never know what’s going to happen. It’s just such a small window for defenders to hit guys. I’m not saying it’s a problem, I’m just saying we need to find a way to meet somewhere in between.”


(on whether changing the strike zone will help safety concerns) “Yeah, the strike zone is small now. You can’t pretty much hit a guy anywhere. He’s defenseless at all times. If you think about it you’re pretty much defenseless anytime you’re catching the ball, so it’s tough. Obviously if you teach it to kids at a young age it might help a lot, because us growing up as kids, we didn’t care. You just hit a guy wherever you can hit him. Guys will get concussions and guys will get a long term effect from those hits, so we have to do something about it but as a defender, this league is very tough on us in finding ways to hit guys and tackle guys. I don’t want it to get to a point where everyone has to hit guys in the legs every time because they’re scared to hit guys up top. That’s just going to cause more injuries because guys are going to have torn ACLs and stuff like that. You don’t want guys going at full speed and chopping their legs out every time, but that’s what it’s going to come to.


(on his faith/religion) “We have a lot of guys on this team that believe in God a lot. They have a lot of faith. We have faith in each other. Every time we step out on the field we believe in what each other can do. We believe in the guy next to us. We believe in holding everybody accountable. We couldn’t do it if we didn’t have faith. We continue to believe in each other, and it’s gotten us this far. Your faith is always going to help you because you have to believe. Sometimes you’re going to be in tough situations where things might not be going your way, but it’s all types of trials and tribulations. For me, it was in college when I broke my ankle in the fifth game of my senior year. I didn’t know if I was ever going to play football again. I didn’t know if I was going to get drafted or to get picked up as a free agent or anything. At the time of my pro day I didn’t thing I was going to be able to run, but I was able to do it because I believed in myself and believed in God and he pushed me through it. I was fortunate to get an opportunity to play in this league.”


(on his team coming together over tough times) “Any situation where you’ve got guys in your organization or your team that are going through trials and tribulations, it’s going to bring guys together. We’re like brothers. We believe in each other. The guy next to you is the guy you lean on when you’re going through tough times. As a team and an organization we lean on each other and that’s what brings us together and makes us stronger.”


(on why things are different on the Ravens this time around) “Well, I was with the Chicago Bears for the past five years and coming here and being in Baltimore, I’ve seen that it’s a different group. It is an amazing group of people here. Guys believe in each other. Guys are accountable. Guys hold each other accountable. Guys trust each other. Guys do well for the guy next to them. It’s just a different group of guys. When you have people on your team like Ray Lewis, Ed Reed and Matt Birk – guys with so much faith and belief – it pushes you. It helps you be a better person. It helps you play to the best of your ability.”


(on San Francisco’s offense) “They have a dynamic offense and their quarterback is making a lot of plays for those guys. He’s able to run the ball. He can throw the ball very good, and he’s got a bunch of playmakers on offense with him. They’re a tough group to prepare for because they cause so much havoc in the way they run the ball or run the pistol or the option or things of that nature. You just have to prepare. Guys have to be gap sound and good with their assignments, but it’s a tough team to prepare for.”



– more –


Super Bowl XLVII – Tuesday, January 29, 2013







(on whether or not San Francisco reminds him of any team in the AFC) “I don’t know about that but it’s very similar I would say to Washington. We were fortunate to play those guys this year and that’s a very similar offense with RG3 (Robert Griffin III) and the way he’s about to throw and run the ball with the dual threat. It’s very similar and you have to be gap sound, technique sound, and you have to play football.”


(on what he expects from San Francisco’s wide receivers) “A lot. The group is playing pretty good right now to be honest with you. They’ve got (Michael) Crabtree. He’s making a lot of plays. They’re got Randy Moss who is still a very good deep threat. They’ve also got a great group of tight ends. Vernon Davis and (Delanie) Walker, they’re both making a lot of plays out there. It’s a tough group to prepare for but we’ve been looking up a lot so we’ll continue to study them and do what we have to do to prepare for this game.”


(on his biggest challenge on the field) “Honestly my biggest challenge on the field, me personally, is my eyes. I have to pay attention to my guys. They do a lot of double moves and triple moves and things of that nature. When you’re in the slot, they do a lot of different stuff so I have to make sure I keep my eyes on my guy and don’t get too caught up in trying to make too many plays and jumping routes and stuff like that. Me as a defender, if I keep my eyes in the right place I’ll be successful.”


(prompted to answer questions like he’s hashtagging a tweet – one word answers) (Beyonce Knowles) “Fantastic.” (Winning the Super Bowl) “Epic.” (Your coach beating his brother) “A must.” (The one thing you won’t do while you’re in New Orleans) “Lose.”


(on growing up in Buffalo) “A lot of ups and downs. A lot of stuff going on. Everything wasn’t always peachy and great, so I think it just pushed me to be a harder person. I went through a lot of trials and tribulations but it’s made me a tougher person. I went through everything from my family, to bad injuries, to my brother being incarcerated, people being gone, my father not really involved in my life. It was a lot of stuff but it’s made me the person I am today.”


(on sharing this experience with his brother who is coming to watch the game) “It’s going to be outstanding. He’s the one who got me involved in football. He was the one since I was 5 years old who put a football into my hand and showed me how to play, (showed me) what to do and what not to do and how to work hard. He was the one who’s done everything for me and it’s great that he’s going to be here to enjoy this moment with me.”


(on being a city kid to make it to the NFL) “It’s not typically the guys from the city (who play in the NFL). They have the talent but most of the time they go to public schools and they don’t get the right education. Sometimes they get swarmed up in too much going on outside of football and I was fortunate. To be honest with you, it was probably my brother. He kept me away from all that. He made sure that I got good grades. He made sure that I went to the better schools. He made sure that I was doing the right thing, that I was working out, that I was training. He was the one that didn’t allow me to get caught up in some of the things that some of the kids in the city get caught up in in Buffalo. There was a lot going on around me with my family and my cousins and some of my friends, but I ignored that. I was at a basketball court or I was at the track, or I was at some type of camp. I was trying to get better and pushing towards my ultimate goal which was to play in the NFL. I was going to go to college no matter what.”

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Brady standing in way of Ravens’ redemption run to Super Bowl

Posted on 16 January 2013 by Luke Jones

OWINGS MILLS, Md. — The Ravens have made no secret about their satisfaction in seeing the New England Patriots once again on the same stage in which they fell painfully short last January.

With few believing they could reach their second straight AFC Championship game after being left for dead just a few weeks ago, the Ravens are embracing the opportunity but also know the truth about Sunday’s game in Foxborough. The game they’ve worked toward over the last 12 months only has one acceptable outcome in their eyes.

“Nothing matters unless we’re going to win in New England this weekend,” linebacker Ray Lewis said. “Then we’re back to the same position we were in last year.”

As compelling as their run has been to watch, the same man is once again standing in the way of their first Super Bowl appearance since the 2000 season. While the Ravens were finally able to topple Peyton Manning, future Hall of Fame quarterback Tom Brady has goals of his own, mainly atoning for last year’s Super Bowl loss to the New York Giants. The most successful quarterback of this generation, the 35-year-old hasn’t won a championship since the 2004 season and has twice fallen in the Super Bowl since then.

Leading the top-ranked offense in the NFL in yards and points scored, Brady will try to do what Manning couldn’t do in Denver last Saturday. And the Baltimore defense will try to pick up where it left off in the divisional round when it held Denver’s explosive offense to just seven points in the second half after the Broncos returned a kickoff for a touchdown to begin the third quarter.

Even with every reason to be confident, the Ravens know that Brady will be waiting and ready after the Patriots scored 41 points against a tough Houston defense last week.

“He is a smart guy. We all know that is the reason he is probably a Hall of Fame quarterback,” cornerback Corey Graham said. “He is smart with the ball. He makes great decisions. He looks for matchups, and we have to just go out there and make plays.”

The Ravens’ multiple-look defense has given Brady difficulty over the years compared to most units as the Patriots were held to just 23 points in last year’s AFC Championship. The New England offense fared better in the Ravens’ 31-30 win in Week 3, but Brady acknowledges how difficult it is to play against a unit led by Lewis and free safety Ed Reed. In five career regular-season games against the Ravens, Brady has thrown five touchdowns and three interceptions and has posted an 83.3 passer rating, a modest mark for such a decorated quarterback. He has posted worse ratings against only four other teams over the course of his 13-year career.

His playoff loss to the Ravens on Jan. 10, 2010 was the worst performance of his postseason career as he threw three interceptions and lost a fumble in the 33-14 final.

Of course, the Baltimore defense hasn’t been the dominating unit this year that it was for more than a decade, but the Ravens were able to create pressure and force Manning into mistakes in the second half as the Denver quarterback turned the ball over three times in defeat. Instead of their simple “bend, but don’t break” performance, the defense made countless big plays in the second half to keep Joe Flacco and the Baltimore offense within striking distance.

“It’s not like you beat this team 50-0,” Brady said at a press conference on Wednesday. “It’s always a tight game, there’s tight coverage, there’s tight throws, there’s tough reads, because schematically they do quite a few things.”

The discussion last week centered around the countless chess matches between Lewis and Manning, but the Ravens’ battles against Brady have been just as compelling. New England won’t hesitate to use the no-huddle offense and quick snaps on occasion to catch the Ravens on their heels, especially after Baltimore played a total of 174 plays and 77:38 on defense over the last two weeks.

The Ravens take pride in disguising their schemes and changing up coverages, the latest example coming on Denver’s final offensive play when cornerback Corey Graham and Lewis flipped coverage on wide receiver Brandon Stokley and baited Manning into throwing a critical interception. However, New England will try to use similar tactics in hopes of creating a mismatch with its wide array of offensive weapons.

“They switch it up. When they make plays, they hurry up to the line, and they speed the game up on guys,” Graham said. “If you’re not ready, if you’re not prepared for it, it will catch you off guard. They have been catching a lot of guys off guard, a lot of guys not set up and prepared for the play.”

Even when the correct matchups are identified, defensive backs and linebackers must play disciplined as Brady will try to look off receivers and make defenders pay for the softer coverage they typically employ to prevent the big play. The Patriots also won’t hesitate to go against the grain such as when they sent backup Shane Vereen deep on a 33-yard touchdown out of the backfield against the Texans.

The Ravens’ best chance in slowing Brady is to make him uncomfortable in the pocket like they did to Manning in the second half in Denver, but even then, the task in the secondary is daunting against the likes of Wes Welker and Aaron Hernandez in the short-to-intermediate portion of the field — an area in which the pass defense has been vulnerable all year. In many cases, the ball simply comes out too quickly to get to the veteran signal-caller when he employs three-step drops.

“We have to have great eyes. We can’t stare him down in the secondary,” safety Bernard Pollard said. “We have to be on our men. They have great receivers and running backs. We have to go out there and play our game.”

Unlike past seasons when playing the Patriots, the Ravens must also account for the New England running game as starter Stevan Ridley rushed for 1,263 yards this season. The offense is one-dimensional as it’s been in the past when you could simply count on Brady to throw it 50 times with an ineffective rush offense behind him.

The Ravens were clearly content in keeping plays in front of them against the Broncos, evident by using Reed and Pollard in two-deep coverage for much of the game, but it will be interesting to see what defensive coordinator Dean Pees dials up against New England. Brady attempted only 19 passes that traveled more than 30 yards in the air all season and lacks the deep threats that the Broncos possessed in both Demaryius Thomas and Eric Decker, but the Patriots are never afraid to change things up.

Baltimore is in store for another chess match, again playing one of the best quarterbacks in the history of the game. And while the Ravens have been described as a team on a mission, there’s no arguing that the Patriots are motivated to not only get back to the Super Bowl but to finish the job after last year’s narrow loss.

Even though the Ravens beat the Patriots in the postseason three years ago and were one end-zone catch away from doing it again last season, they also know Brady is 5-1 in conference title games. As was the case last week, it won’t be easy to survive and advance for the underdog Ravens.

“That does not scare us,” Pollard said. “We’re going to go out, and we want to outhit you and outplay you and we want to go to the Super Bowl.”

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The Five Plays That Determined The Game: Ravens/Broncos

Posted on 15 January 2013 by Glenn Clark

Following every Baltimore Ravens game this season, Ryan Chell and I will take to the airwaves Tuesdays on “The Reality Check” on AM1570 WNST.net with a segment known as “The Five Plays That Determined The Game.”

It’s a simple concept. We’ll select five plays from each game that determined the outcome. These five plays will best represent why the Ravens won or lost each game.

This will be our final analysis of the previous game before switching gears towards the next game on the schedule.

Here are the five plays that determined the Ravens’ 38-35 2OT win over the Denver Broncos Saturday at Sports Authority Field at Mile High in an AFC divisional playoff game…

(Note: not all pictures are always of actual play)

Glenn Clark’s Plays…

5. Ma’ake Kemoeatu tackles Ronnie Hillman for no gain on 3rd & 7 (4th quarter)

4. Dennis Pitta 27 yard catch from Joe Flacco on 3rd & 13 from Baltimore 3 (Overtime)

3. Justin Tucker 47 yard field goal GOOD (Double Overtime)

2. Jacoby Jones 70 yard touchdown catch from Joe Flacco (4th quarter)

1. Corey Graham intercepts Peyton Manning pass intended for Brandon Stokley (Overtime)

(Ryan’s Plays on Page 2…)

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Ravens embracing opportunity for second chance in New England

Posted on 14 January 2013 by Luke Jones

OWINGS MILLS, Md. — In the moments following the improbable 38-35 double overtime win over the Denver Broncos Saturday night, running back Ray Rice labeled the Ravens “a team of destiny.”

So, why wouldn’t the New England Patriots once again be standing in the way of Baltimore’s first trip to the Super Bowl since Jan. 2001? If you believe in such storybook treks, defeating the Indianapolis Colts and toppling Peyton Manning for the first time since 2001 were appropriate opening chapters, but a return trip to Gillette Stadium in Foxborough would be the ultimate climax.

The painful ending to last season’s AFC Championship was one that drove the Ravens throughout the offseason as they desperately worked — and hoped — to land themselves back in the same position. Even after a Week 3 win over New England in Baltimore earlier this season, another meeting with Tom Brady, Bill Belichick, and the Patriots was impossible not to think about in many Ravens players’ minds.

“I think we personally kind of wanted to play the Patriots again,” defensive tackle Haloti Ngata said. “If we were to go to the Super Bowl, it would be great to go through Foxborough and win there. It’s another matchup that I think that we’re excited about, and hopefully, we can get it done this time.”

Meeting in the postseason for the third time in five seasons, the Ravens and Patriots have built a rivalry similar to the one between New England and Indianapolis last decade as it seemed Brady and Manning were always on a collision course in January. The teams have met five times overall in the John Harbaugh era with all but one game — the Ravens’ 33-14 victory in the wild-card round of the 2009 season — being decided by fewer than seven points.

While games with New England may not challenge the annual meetings with the Pittsburgh Steelers, Harbaugh acknowledged how familiar the Ravens are with the Patriots and how familiar they are with playing in Foxborough.

“We’ve been there a number of times. It’s definitely grown into quite a rivalry, we would like to say,” coach John Harbaugh said. “I don’t know how they feel about that part, but we have tremendous respect for the New England Patriots.”

The Patriots own the advantage as they’ve won three of the five meetings between the teams since 2009, with no win bigger than last year’s 23-20 final that gave them the AFC title after the late failures of Lee Evans and Billy Cundiff.

As remarkable as their postseason run has been after losing four of their last five games to close the regular season, the Ravens know who stands in their way of achieving their ultimate goal, and they understand they will once again be considered a significant underdog as oddsmakers have favored New England by 9 1/2 points.

“They have the history,” wide receiver Torrey Smith said. “They have been there, and we want to get to where they have been. They were there last year. They knocked us out, and we want to get to that point, get this win, and get to the Super Bowl.”

As was the case last week, Ravens players expressed no interest in what the outside world thinks about their team, but they embraced the opportunity for a second chance to right the wrongs left on the field in Foxborough last season. And as the images of Evans’ drop and Cundiff’s miss are replayed all week, Baltimore is ready to turn the page for a different ending this time around.

“The feeling that we had in that locker room, I think we all wanted to get back to the AFC Championship,” Ngata said. “And then to actually have it be back in Foxborough, it’s a good story.”

Ayanbadejo apologizes for Patriots comments

After posting a series of critical comments about the Patriots on his official Twitter account Sunday evening, linebacker Brendon Ayanbadejo backed off his stance Monday as many were critical of the veteran special-teams player for conjuring bulletin-board material before New England had even officially advanced to the conference championship.

The 36-year-old apologized for drawing negative attention to himself and the Ravens six days ahead of the AFC title game.

“I made selfish comments on twitter last night that reflected poorly upon myself, my teammates, and the organization,” Ayanbadejo tweeted Monday morning. “For that I apologize.”

It remains unclear how Harbaugh handled the situation at the team’s training facility in Owings Mills, but the Baltimore coach had little interest in discussing Ayanbadejo’s comments when asked to respond during his Monday afternoon press conference.

“That’s all stuff that just isn’t really relevant,” Harbaugh said. “It’s all stuff that I don’t think is worthy of the conversation right now.”

Ayanbadejo didn’t play any defensive snaps in Saturday’s win and was part of the coverage units that allowed two return touchdowns to Denver’s Trindon Holliday.

Earlier Monday, he didn’t receive much of an endorsement from his defensive teammate Ngata when the four-time Pro Bowl selection was asked whether he agreed with the linebacker’s assessment of the Patriots’ hurry-up offense.

“I’m not going to comment on that stuff,” Ngata said. “That’s all about him and his deal.”

Jones, Graham special contributors


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Our Ravens/Broncos “Pats on the Ass”

Posted on 12 January 2013 by Glenn Clark

After every Baltimore Ravens victory, Ryan Chell and I take to the airwaves on “The Nasty Purple Postgame Show” on AM1570 WNST.net to offer “Pats on the Ass” to players who have done something to deserve the honor. This week, Luke Jones joined us as well.

We give pats to two defensive players, two offensive players and one “Wild Card”-either another offensive or defensive player, a Special Teams player or a coach. We offer a “Pat on Both Cheeks” to someone who stands out, our version of a “Player of the Game.” Ryan and I select five different players/coaches each.

Here are our “Pats on the Ass” following the Ravens’ 38-35 double overtime win over the Denver Broncos at Sports Authority Field at Mile High Sunday in a AFC Divisional playoff.

Glenn Clark’s Pats…

5. Pernell McPhee

4. Ray Lewis

3. Ray Rice

2. Jacoby Jones

1. Justin Tucker (Pat on Both Cheeks)

(Ryan’s Pats on Page 2…)

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Our Ravens/Giants “Pats on the Ass”

Posted on 23 December 2012 by Glenn Clark

After every Baltimore Ravens victory, Ryan Chell and I take to the airwaves on “The Nasty Purple Postgame Show” on AM1570 WNST.net to offer “Pats on the Ass” to players who have done something to deserve the honor.

We give pats to two defensive players, two offensive players and one “Wild Card”-either another offensive or defensive player, a Special Teams player or a coach. We offer a “Pat on Both Cheeks” to someone who stands out, our version of a “Player of the Game.” Ryan and I select five different players/coaches each.

Here are our “Pats on the Ass” following the Ravens’ 33-14 win over New York Giants Sunday at M&T Bank Stadium…

Glenn Clark’s Pats…

5. Corey Graham

4. Anquan Boldin

3. Brendon Ayanbadejo

2. Torrey Smith

1. Ray Rice (Pat on Both Cheeks)

(Ryan’s Pats on Page 2…)

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