Tag Archive | "denver"

Our Ravens/Broncos “Slaps to the Head”

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Our Ravens/Broncos “Slaps to the Head”

Posted on 06 September 2013 by Glenn Clark

After Baltimore Ravens victories, Ryan Chell and I award players who made positive contributions with “Pats on the Ass” during the “Nasty Purple Postgame Show” on AM1570 WNST.net.

The Ravens fell to the Denver Broncos 49-27 Thursday night at Sports Authority Field at Mile High, meaning there were no Pats to be awarded.

So instead of offering “Pats on the Ass”, Ryan and I offered “Slaps to the Head” postgame. A slap on the side of the head from a coach tends to come along with them saying something along the lines of “you’ve gotta do better than that.”

Same rules as there were with Pats. Two offensive players, two defensive players, and a Wild Card (Special Teams player, coach, or another Offensive or Defensive player). One player gets “two slaps” (or a slap on both sides of the head), it’s the opposite of a “Player of the Game” honor.” Ryan and I select five different players/coaches after each game.

Here are our five Ravens that have “gotta do better than that.”

Glenn Clark’s Slaps…

5. Rick Wagner

4. Brynden Trawick 

3. Ed Dickson

2. John Harbaugh

1. Jimmy Smith (two slaps)

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Rice says Broncos earned victory in Denver

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Rice says Broncos earned victory in Denver

Posted on 06 September 2013 by WNSTV

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Flacco: Overreacting to a loss isn’t a bad thing

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Flacco: Overreacting to a loss isn’t a bad thing

Posted on 06 September 2013 by WNSTV

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Lots of questions, few answers in Denver

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Lots of questions, few answers in Denver

Posted on 06 September 2013 by Nestor Aparicio

For the past seven months we’re talked a lot about the 2013 version of the Baltimore Ravens and nothing really mattered until the rain and lightning cleared and the team hit the field in Denver last night.

Everyone had questions. Who would replace Dennis Pitta and Anquan Boldin in the offense? How would the secondary hold up with new (and some) former backup players? Who would provide the pass rush? Could Joe Flacco get protection and deliver the ball as a marked man?

Some of the answers came in a dismal third quarter that quickly unraveled and slowly droned on until midnight, when the Ravens managed to turn a 17-14 halftime lead into a 35-17 hole that they couldn’t recover from vs. the Broncos.

John Harbaugh and his staff will be looking for answers for the next 10 days in preparation for a visit from the Cleveland Browns.

Some evaluations and more questions are now glaring:

Who will catch the ball effectively for Joe Flacco in 2013? Dallas Clark and Brandon Stokley caught a few passes but it’s hard to envision any massive productivity from them on the offense. Torrey Smith and Ray Rice will be utilized plenty but the some of the elder statemen are role players now playing a larger role than Ozzie Newsome would’ve liked, especially this early in the season.

The tight end position appears ready to haunt the Ravens without Pitta. Ed Dickson dropped four passes. Who can Flacco trust? Can Marlon Brown really be a surprise difference maker in the offense? He did catch a garbage time touchdown after most of you went to bed.

What happens to the special teams game with Jacoby Jones out? He injured his knee. For a speed guy, that’s death. It will hamper the offense – and it was always a question how effective he’d be in that second wide receiver role anyway – but the loss in the return game is monumental for as long as he’s gone.

Will there be a pass rush? Terrell Suggs, Chris Canty and Elvis Dumervil chased Manning a bit in Denver but how will they fare vs. the field in the coming weeks?

What’s with all of the stupid penalties? Albert McClellan hitting guys out of bounds? Jimmy Smith hitting a guy late? Gino Gradkowski getting a flag away from the play for rough housing?

How will John Harbaugh use his red flag? He used the first one to dispute a five-yard gain successfully and then swallowed it on an obvious drop by Wes Welker that changed the game in the third quarter. After the game, he said he didn’t know there was any dispute on that play and said that NBC should show replays quicker.

Joe Flacco threw a couple of interceptions that are still making me scratch my head. If not for the stupidity of Danny Trevathan, the Broncos would have had another Pick Six on a ball he admitted he shouldn’t have thrown. Can the Ravens offense and Flacco clean this up?

Peyton Manning threw seven touchdowns vs. the Ravens defense. Do you blame the pass rush? Do you blame the secondary? Do you just tip your cap to the one of the greatest of all time? And what happened to the Corey Graham of 2012? He suddenly assumed the Champ Bailey role in Denver last night.

Are you looking for bright spots? Haloti Ngata looked healthy and strong in run defense. Terrell Suggs looks to be back at 100 percent. Chris Canty looked like he’ll be a nice player this year. Flacco, for the most part, wasn’t running for his life behind an offensive line that was mostly good enough to win.

But other than that? Not much to “rave” about in Denver.

And finally…how much do the Ravens miss Ray Lewis and Ed Reed right now?

Plenty, it appears…

 

 

 

 

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Ravens-Broncos: Inactives and pre-game notes

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Ravens-Broncos: Inactives and pre-game notes

Posted on 05 September 2013 by Luke Jones

(This blog brought to you by Atlantic Remodeling. Visit www.atlanticremodeling.com to learn about their Red Cent Guarantee!)

Much has changed from when we last saw the Baltimore Ravens play a meaningful game.

Traveling to Denver to take on the Broncos in a divisional round matchup from last January, the Ravens will play their first regular-season game in franchise history without future Hall of Fame linebacker Ray Lewis being a member of the organization. Longtime safety Ed Reed is now with the Houston Texans and a number of other key components from the Super Bowl XLVII championship team have moved on.

Super Bowl Most Valuable Player and quarterback Joe Flacco remains at the helm and general manager Ozzie Newsome reloaded an aging and largely-ineffective defense from a year with savvy veterans and talented rookies alike, and the Ravens have 19 newcomers to their 53-man roster from the end of last season. The most notable among them is former Broncos defensive end Elvis Dumervil, who figures to provide an impressive bookend pass-rushing threat to Pro Bowl linebacker Terrell Suggs on the opposite edge.

There were no major surprises on the inactives list for either team as the Ravens had already ruled out defensive tackle Arthur Jones (undisclosed illness) and wide receiver Deonte Thompson (foot), offensive lineman Ryan Jensen (foot), and defensive tackle Brandon Williams (toe) were all listed as doubtful on the final injury report of the week. For Denver, the biggest names missing from this one are cornerback Champ Bailey, who is dealing with a foot injury, and suspended linebacker Von Miller.

As expected, Ravens tight end Ed Dickson (hamstring) is active and will play after practicing fully all week and being listed as probable on the final injury report. Defensive end Pernell McPhee (knee) is also active after being limited in practice earlier in the week.

Rookie wide receiver Aaron Mellette is inactive, meaning the Ravens will have four active receivers available Thursday night. Backup safeties Bryden Trawick and Anthony Levine are active, meaning each figures to play extensive special-teams roles.

Dealing with the sting of last year’s double-overtime loss to the Ravens, Denver figures to be motivated for revenge as these teams meet for the 10th time in the regular season. The Ravens hold a 5-4 edge and also enjoy a 2-0 advantage in postseason meetings.

Baltimore is also 5-0 in season openers under head coach John Harbaugh.

Walt Coleman and his crew will officiate the NFL’s season-opening game at Sports Authority Field at Mile High.

The Ravens will be wearing white jerseys with black pants while Denver will sport their orange home jerseys with white pants.

Here are Thursday night’s inactives:

BALTIMORE
DT Arthur Jones
DT Brandon Williams
WR Deonte Thompson
OL Ryan Jensen
WR Aaron Mellette
T Jah Reid
LB John Simon

DENVER
CB Champ Bailey
RB C.J. Anderson
TE Joel Dreessen
G Chris Kuper
CB Quentin Jammer
G John Moffitt
QB Zac Dysert

Follow WNST on Twitter throughout the evening for updates and analysis as Nestor Aparicio brings live coverage from Denver.

 

 

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Ravens-Broncos: Five predictions for Thursday night

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Ravens-Broncos: Five predictions for Thursday night

Posted on 04 September 2013 by Luke Jones

(This blog brought to you by Atlantic Remodeling. Visit www.atlanticremodeling.com to learn about their Red Cent Guarantee!)

It was less than eight months ago when the Ravens met the Denver Broncos in one of the great contests in NFL playoff history as Baltimore prevailed in a 38-35 double-overtime thriller to advance to the AFC Championship game.

Now, fast-forward to the present as the Ravens return to the scene with a different look than includes 19 new players on the 53-man roster and the Broncos will see former Pro Bowl defensive end Elvis Dumervil wearing purple, creating plenty of intrigue for the NFL’s season-opening game.

It’s time to go on record as the Ravens meet Denver for the 10th time ever in the regular season and own a 5-4 advantage despite a 1-3 regular-season record in Denver. Of course, the Ravens are also 2-0 against the Broncos in postseason play as Denver stewed over its disappointing loss as the No. 1 seed in the AFC throughout the offseason.

Here’s what to expect as the Ravens open their season in prime time for the third time in the last four seasons …

1. Much like last January, the Ravens will go vertical early on as Joe Flacco connects with Torrey Smith for a long touchdown in the first half. Offensive coordinator Jim Caldwell may need to rely more on the running game this season because of the uncertainty at wide receiver and tight end, but a conservative approach isn’t the way to beat Peyton Manning and an explosive Denver passing game. The Broncos will not have Pro Bowl linebacker Von Miller due to his six-game suspension, meaning the offensive line should give Flacco plenty of time to throw deep. Some deep shots will also back up the Denver safeties, opening up some intermediate space for tight ends Ed Dickson and Dallas Clark and slot receiver Brandon Stokley to work. If Flacco can find success with those throws, it will only create more room in the box to get Ray Rice and Bernard Pierce going in the running game.

2. Daryl Smith will lead the Ravens in tackles in the first game of the post-Ray Lewis era. Dumervil’s signing received the most attention this offseason, but the presence of the 31-year-old Smith has been a welcome addition to an otherwise inexperienced group of inside linebackers that includes Josh Bynes and second-round pick Arthur Brown. For what it’s worth, Smith looked like the Ravens’ best defensive player of the preseason and while you wouldn’t expect that to hold true during the season, he had the reputation for being stout against the run and serving capably in pass coverage in his nine years with the Jacksonville Jaguars. The additions of Smith and Brown will hopefully help the pass defense in the middle intermediate portion of the field, which has been a major weakness for several years now. Smith’s quiet demeanor and maturity might be the perfect fit for a guy assuming the position formerly held by the future Hall of Famer Lewis.

3. Manning will keep an improved Ravens defense on the field, causing the unit to wilt in the second half. Baltimore did an admirable job handling the altitude in a single-digit temperature last January, but Thursday’s forecast calls for temperatures in the mid-80s, presenting a different challenge in terms of conditioning. Even with the improvements to their front seven, the Ravens are still fielding a secondary with question marks ranging from the effectiveness of Lardarius Webb coming back from his second ACL surgery in four seasons to the ability of Michael Huff and James Ihedigbo to cover the middle of the field. Pressuring Manning will clearly be critical as it was last January, but the Broncos just have too much firepower to hold them down entirely. It will intriguing to see what kind of a rapport Manning has built with free-agent acquisition Wes Welker at this early stage, but the size of wide receivers Demaryius Thomas and Eric Decker on the outside will be a very difficult matchup.

4. Struggling to find open targets in the middle of the field, Flacco tosses a second-half interception to Broncos safety Rahim Moore. The most dynamic change that Caldwell brought to the offense when he assumed Cam Cameron’s coordinator duties last season was the willingness to use the middle of the field in the passing game, but continuing that without Anquan Boldin and Dennis Pitta in the mix will be the biggest challenge facing Flacco this season. The reality is no one really knows if the combination of Dickson, Stokley, and Clark will be enough to fill the void of two outstanding targets the sixth-year quarterback used in the middle of the field to the point that he could be bold in throwing passes up for grabs. In contrast, Moore has heard the criticism and jokes throughout the offseason about his gaffe of allowing Jones to get behind him on the game-tying score at the end of regulation last January. Trailing late in the game, Flacco will try to force a pass down the seam to Dickson that’s picked off by Moore, which gives the maligned safety a tiny sliver of revenge.

5. The Ravens will compete ferociously, but an incomplete offense will be the deciding factor in handing John Harbaugh the first Week 1 loss of his tenure in a 24-21 final. Baltimore is a good football team, but trying to figure out how good is anyone’s guess with so many question marks offensively and new pieces defensively. It’s a lot to ask that all to come together against such a formidable opponent in the opening game of the season. The Ravens undoubtedly feel motivated to perform well on a national stage as the defending Super Bowl champions who were also forced to open the season on the road, but the Broncos and their fans have thought about this opportunity for the entire offseason and will treat the game like it’s the Super Bowl. Not enough offense and a few too many leaks defensively against an elite opponent will lead to the Ravens coming up a little short. To beat a team like Denver, you’re often faced with a shootout and the Ravens aren’t built for that just yet.

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Ravens defense aiming to make expectations reality in post-Lewis era

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Ravens defense aiming to make expectations reality in post-Lewis era

Posted on 03 September 2013 by Luke Jones

(This blog brought to you by Atlantic Remodeling. Visit www.atlanticremodeling.com to learn about their Red Cent Guarantee!)

OWINGS MILLS, Md. — The Ravens heard the questions, the concerns, and the doubts about their once-proud defense in the weeks and months that followed their win in Super Bowl XLVII.

How would they survive without the retiring Ray Lewis, arguably the greatest middle linebacker in NFL history and unquestionably the leader and face of the franchise for their entire 17-year existence? What would they do to replace future Hall of Fame safety Ed Reed’s presence in the defensive backfield as well as in the locker room? And how could they afford to lose younger talents such as Paul Kruger, Dannell Ellerbe, Bernard Pollard, and Cary Williams in a quest to rebuild an aging and frequently-ineffective defense?

Those who downplayed Lewis’ departure because of his declining play over the final seasons of his career couldn’t overlook the colossal void in leadership and identity that needed to be addressed for an organization that both empowered and depended upon his presence. And after years of watching former Baltimore defensive players escape Lewis’ shadow before finding that the grass wasn’t greener elsewhere, the Ravens themselves will now see how they fare without him.

“In the spring, everybody was hitting the panic button on us because of the guys we lost,” Pro Bowl linebacker and 2011 Defensive Player of the Year Terrell Suggs said. “Even though we were very sad to see those guys go, the show must go on.”

The time for change was right as general manager Ozzie Newsome remembered what some had seemingly forgotten while basking in the image of confetti dropping in New Orleans in a storybook ending for the 2012 Ravens. Though praised for a “bend but don’t break” style that was good enough to complement quarterback Joe Flacco’s incredible postseason performance, the Baltimore defense finished 17th in total defense, tied for 12th in points allowed, 20th against the run, 17th against the pass, and tied for 15th in sacks.

Frankly, the defensive numbers and overall performance were un-Raven-like as Baltimore was weak along the defensive line as well as at safety, prompting Newsome to trade wide receiver Anquan Boldin and his $6 million base salary in 2013 to clear just enough salary cap space to rebuild the defense in terms of both talent and leadership. Defensive ends Chris Canty and Marcus Spears would provide improved depth upfront while free safety Michael Huff seemed like a good bet to, at worst, match the declining play of Reed for a fraction of the cost that the Houston Texans paid for the longtime Raven’s services in free agency.

The prize of the group, however, was Denver Broncos defensive end Elvis Dumervil, who was released due to a contract-restructuring snafu made by his former agent and joined the Ravens after signing a five-year deal worth a maximum value of $35 million. It appeared to be a bargain for a three-time Pro Bowl selection whose work ethic and leadership have been praised by everyone in the organization from the moment he stepped foot in Owings Mills in the spring.

“I think [it comes with] the way you play on the field and how you lead by example,” Dumervil said. “Leadership doesn’t come with talking or speech — it’s just how you carry yourself. I’ve always been a leader. That’s just natural for me, and I think I’ve learned how to follow before I can lead.”

After drafting four defensive players in the first four rounds of April’s draft, Newsome had one more trick up his sleeve in signing longtime Jacksonville Jaguars linebacker Daryl Smith to a one-year deal on the same day the Super Bowl champs visited President Barack Obama at the White House. The 31-year-old has stepped in to play Lewis’ Mike linebacker position while looking like the team’s best player in the preseason, recording 14 tackles and a sack while showing steady ability in pass coverage.

Initially perceived as little more than an insurance policy for injured inside linebacker Jameel McClain, Smith has been praised by everyone in the organization, ranging from his new defensive teammates to quarterback Joe Flacco. Smith’s personality couldn’t be more different from Lewis, which might be a positive while handling such an unenviable task of replacing a legend.

“He doesn’t say a lot, because he’s just about business, and then you sit down and talk to him and realize the depth of his character and personality,” head coach John Harbaugh said. “He’s a great family man, he’s a mature guy, he’s a man. And he’s also – I really believe – one of the most underrated defensive players in football over the last eight [or] nine years. We feel pretty fortunate that he’s here right now.”

The common threads among the five veteran newcomers were the leadership qualities they displayed with their former teams. It was clear the Ravens weren’t simply placing the defensive leadership crown on the heads of Suggs and Pro Bowl defensive tackle Haloti Ngata alone.

There was no replacing Lewis or Reed, but the Ravens appear to be pleased with their by-committee approach as they enter Thursday night’s opener against the Denver Broncos. On paper and in the controlled environment of spring and summer practices, the transition has appeared organic and seamless.

Suggs will be viewed as the new figurehead, but the 30-year-old has acknowledged repeatedly that he’s not looking to be the next Lewis and has appeared more subdued than in past seasons. Overall, it’s a Baltimore defense that lacks the bravado of past units without the camera-friendly Lewis out in front, but the quiet confidence veteran newcomers and young players alike have expressed seems appropriate in a new era.

“It’s different like in any organization when you lose guys that have been there for so long that they kind of assume those roles,” defensive coordinator Dean Pees said. “I think everybody else kind of sat back and just said, ‘Well, that’s really kind of not my role. That’s kind of Ed [Reed] and Ray’s [Lewis] role.’ Now those guys are stepping up, and I don’t think it’s any one particular guy who’s saying, ‘OK, I’m going to be the new Ray Lewis.’ It’s just a bunch of guys collectively stepping up and showing some leadership.”

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A. Jones undergoing tests for undisclosed illness, McPhee limited Tuesday

Posted on 03 September 2013 by Luke Jones

(This blog brought to you by Atlantic Remodeling. Visit www.atlanticremodeling.com to learn about their Red Cent Guarantee!)

OWINGS MILLS, Md. — There were no changes to practice attendance for the Ravens on Tuesday as they continued preparations for their season-opening game against the Denver Broncos.

Already ruled out for Thursday night’s game at Sports Authority Field at Mile High, defensive tackle Arthur Jones (undisclosed illness) was once again missing from the field and hasn’t practiced since playing in the Ravens’ third preseason game on Aug. 22. Coach John Harbaugh reiterated Tuesday that the health issue is not related to football and once again deferred to Jones to decide what details he eventually discloses.

“It’s not anything that’s like life-threatening or anything like that, but it’s non-football related,” Harbaugh said. “We’ve just got to get some tests done to make sure he’s OK. Until the tests come out the right way, he’s not going to be able to play. It’s something that I’ve been told now they can’t tell you how long it will be. It could be a week; it could be indefinitely. We don’t think it’s going to be the second part of it.”

According to the Ravens coach, Jones will see a specialist and undergo further tests on Wednesday as veteran defensive lineman Marcus Spears is expected to take his place along the defensive line in the base 3-4 defense.

A couple hours after Harbaugh’s update, the fourth-year lineman wrote a message on his official Twitter account for the first time since Aug. 19.

“As many of you know i’m [sic] having personal health issues,” Jones wrote. “Please respect my privacy. We as athlete’s [sic] go through real life problems also. Thank You all for your love and support. Ravens fans are the best!! See you all on the field soon!!!”

Defensive tackle Brandon Williams (toe), wide receiver Deonte Thompson (foot), and offensive lineman Ryan Jensen (foot) were also absent during the portion of practice open to the media. None of those three are expected to play against the Broncos.

Pass-rush specialist Pernell McPhee (knee) was the only new addition to Tuesday’s injury report as he continues to manage a sore knee and was a limited participant.

Of course, tight end Dennis Pitta (hip) was officially declared out for Thursday’s game and is expected to be placed on injured reserve with the designation to return when NFL teams are allowed to use that exemption beginning at 4 p.m. on Tuesday afternoon.

“I think we’ll have an announcement for that on Wednesday,” Harbaugh said. “[We'll] just get some final evaluations from the doctors and make sure that we’re doing the right thing for everybody involved.”

This would free up an open spot on the 53-man roster in time for Thursday night’s game.

Tight end Ed Dickson (hamstring) was once again present and working after being listed as a full participant on Monday’s injury report. He made his return to the practice field two weeks ago and has looked good, according to Harbaugh.

“If I can practice out there, I feel like I can play in any game,” said Dickson, who added that he had never suffered such a severe hamstring injury in his football career. “With practice, personally, I feel like I can play. In the end, it’s not my decision to say I can go out there and [potentially] hurt the team by re-injuring anything.”

As they’ve done in past seasons, Ravens players practiced their jersey swap that’s traditionally seen on Fridays during normal game weeks. Running back Ray Rice wore retired linebacker Ray Lewis’ No. 52 jersey while cornerback Chykie Brown sported former safety Ed Reed’s No. 20. Rice’s close friendship with Lewis is common knowledge, and Reed took Brown under his win in their two years together and the pair often swapped jerseys on Fridays last season.

The Ravens will hold a closed walk-through on Wednesday before departing for Denver later in the day.

Here is Tuesday’s official injury report:

BALTIMORE
OUT: DT Art Jones (illness – non-football injury), TE Dennis Pitta (hip)
DID NOT PARTICIPATE: C Ryan Jensen (foot), WR Deonte Thompson (foot), DT Brandon Williams (toe)
LIMITED: DE Pernell McPhee (knee)
FULL PARTICIPATION: TE Ed Dickson (thigh)

DENVER
OUT: none
DID NOT PARTICIPATE: RB C.J. Anderson (knee), CB Champ Bailey (foot), TE Joel Dreessen (knee)
LIMITED: G Chris Kuper (ankle)
FULL PARTICIPATION: DE Robert Ayers (Achilles), T Ryan Clady (shoulder), QB Brock Osweiler (left shoulder), WR Wes Welker (ankle)

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Top 10 Baseball Distractions

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Top 10 Baseball Distractions

Posted on 02 September 2013 by Glenn Clark

(We’re off Monday, so T10BD comes a day early. Enjoy. Celebrate. Don’t labor. Cheers. For week of Tuesday, 9/3 to Monday, 9/9.)

Honorable Mention: Golf-Champions Tour Montreal Championship (Friday-Sunday 6:30pm from Sainte-Julie, Canada on Golf Channel); Boxing: Chris Arreola vs. Seth Mitchell (Saturday 10:30pm from Indio, CA live on Showtime); WNBA: Chicago Sky @ Washington Mystics (Sunday 4pm from Verizon Center live on Monumental Network)

10. Keith Urban (Thursday 7:30pm Inner Harbor); Anthony Hamilton/Marsha Ambrosius (Saturday 8pm Pier Six Pavilion); Alan Jackson (Friday 6pm Merriweather Post Pavilion); Maroon 5 (Friday 7pm Jiffy Lube Live); Old Man Brown (Friday 8pm 8×10 Club); Eddie Monday (Friday 8pm Rams Head on Stage); The Romantics (Saturday 8pm Rams Head Center Stage); Blondie/X (Monday 7pm 9:30 Club); Carolina Chocolate Drops (Tuesday 7:30pm The Hamilton), Dangermuffin (Thursday 7:30pm The Hamilton); Marc Roberge/Richard On (Friday 7pm National Zoo); Butch Walker (Monday 7pm U Street Music Hall); Bastille “Bad Blood”, John Legend “Love In The Future” and Nine Inch Nails “Hesitation Marks” available in stores/on iTunes (Tuesday)

I really don’t want you to know that I’m WAY into Keith Urban. Honestly. Please don’t tell anyone.

Hopefully my affection for Old Man Brown will help to make you forget my previous statement…

How much do you think it will cost me to have Carolina Chocolate Drops play my wedding?

I’ve been using “Pompeii” by Bastille as a rejoiner recently. Are you in?

9. Glenn Clark’s 30th Birthday (Friday 2pm-6pm Noble’s Federal Hill); Kevin Pollak (Sunday 6pm & 9pm Rams Head Center Stage); York Fair (Friday-Monday York Fairgrounds); Baltimore Comic-Con (Saturday & Sunday Baltimore Convention Center); Drew Carey (Friday & Saturday Baltimore Comedy Factory); Godfrey (Thursday-Saturday DC Improv); Maryland Renaissance Festival (Saturday & Sunday RennFest Fairgrounds); Maryland Seafood Festival (Saturday & Sunday Sandy Point State Park); Bikemore: Music to Your Gears (Saturday 3pm Druid Hill Park); Riddick” out in theaters (Friday); Now You See Me” available on Blu-Ray/DVD (Tuesday)

I’ve said publicly that there are two options for birthday gifts for me-which I’m sure you’ve been thinking about for awhile now. One is the hat my friend Tara is holding in this picture…

The other can be found on eBay…

Like I said, either is fine.

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Flacco excited to see what rookie receivers bring to table

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Flacco excited to see what rookie receivers bring to table

Posted on 01 September 2013 by Luke Jones

(This blog brought to you by Atlantic Remodeling. Visit www.atlanticremodeling.com to learn about their Red Cent Guarantee!)

OWINGS MILLS, Md. — It wasn’t long ago that Joe Flacco joked about not knowing the names of most new teammates on the Ravens roster after an offseason filled with changes.

However, the Ravens quarterback isn’t saying that any longer about a pair of rookie receivers who could factor heavily into the Baltimore passing attack as early as Thursday’s opener against the Denver Broncos. Undrafted free agent Marlon Brown and seventh-round pick Aaron Mellette began the summer in relative anonymity in Flacco’s eyes but grabbed his attention after the pair combined to make 19 catches for 309 yards and four touchdowns in four preseason games.

“They’re big, they’re strong, they’re fast, and they’re physical,” Flacco said. “They obviously have some talent. I think they are going to be guys that help us out a lot — in the short term [and] long term. We still have to go out there and play and feed them the ball and see what they can do.”

Mellette entered training camp as the bigger household name among Ravens fans after being taken with a seventh-round pick back in April. Playing for FCS school Elon, the 6-foot-2 receiver made an astonishing 304 catches for 4,254 yards and 44 touchdowns in his college career and grabbed 97 passes for 1,398 yards and 18 touchdowns in his senior year alone.

The 6-foot-5 Brown didn’t live up to expectations as a prized recruit at the University of Georgia but could be an attractive option in the red zone with his statuesque frame. The Ravens have lacked a wide receiver of his height during Flacco’s career after 2012 sixth-round pick Tommy Streeter failed to pan out.

Brown finally appeared to be realizing his potential in his senior season with the Bulldogs when he caught 27 catches for 469 yards and four touchdowns before tearing the ACL in his left knee in a game against Ole Miss on Nov. 3, 2012. The 22-year-old is still working his way back to full strength — missing spring organized team activities and even a handful this summer — but his ability began to shine as he became more comfortable physically and mentally in the Ravens offense.

“I have a mindset where I wanted to make the team and ultimately make a difference on the team, whether it’s on special teams or offense,” said Brown, who was in the weight room when coach John Harbaugh personally informed him that he’d made the team. “That’s what I’m trying to do. They haven’t really told me my primary role or anything. I’m going to go out there and work hard and if they tell me to go in, I’m going to go in.”

The biggest compliment paid to both Brown and Mellette is the amount of polish they showed in practices and preseason games despite their lack of experience. Unlike an array of other young receivers that failed to show marked improvement over the course of the summer, Brown and Mellette climbed from the third-string offense and working with third quarterback Caleb Hanie to eventually receive opportunities with Flacco and the starters over the final two weeks of the summer.

It was this climb that contributed to the likes of Tandon Doss, David Reed, and LaQuan Williams being let go.

“They don’t feel like rookies out there,” Harbaugh said. “Marlon has had the advantage of playing at a big program in the Southeastern Conference, and I think that shows. Aaron has had the advantage of having caught hundreds of balls in his college career.”

With Torrey Smith, Jacoby Jones, and Brandon Stokley ahead of the rookies on the depth chart, it remains to be seen how big of a role each will play in the early stages of the season. During Sunday’s practice, Brown and Mellette were wearing No. 87 and 88 jerseys, which appeared to be a product of the pair playing the scout-team roles of Denver wide receivers Demaryius Thomas and Eric Decker in preparation for Thursday’s opener.

The Ravens only hope that Mellette and Brown will one day make their mark in a way similar to that talented pair with the Broncos, forcing opponents’ scout-team receivers to wear their No. 13 and 14 jerseys in preparation.

But a simple continuation of the improvement they showed over the course of the preseason would be an encouraging start for the Ravens.

“I would anticipate that those two guys will be a factor here going forward,” Harbaugh said. “How much they’ll play early, or how much they’ll be a part of the game plan and those kinds of things are really, really hard to say.”

Webb ready to go

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