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End of camp thoughts

Posted on 14 August 2008 by caseywillett

So the first John Harbaugh training camp has officially come to end today, and there are more questions than answers twenty something days later.
Here are some of the questions that I have as camp has ended:
          Who is going to be your starting quarterback, and are they truly the best guy for the job? One thing is crystal clear to me, it will not be Joe Flacco.
          What do you do with the running back position with Willis McGahee now on crutches and possibly 2-4 weeks from returning? Ray Rice has had a nice training camp, but he is not ready to be a feature back in the NFL.
          Who is your offensive tackles? With Adam Terry and Jared Gaither working their way back to field, and Mike Kracalik and Oneil Cousins taking snaps along with Chad Slaughter, are the Ravens comfortable with some form of that combination going into the season? To me Adam Terry and Jared Gaither are still very unproven at the NFL level. Who would have thought that maybe in retrospect that we would be looking back wondering if John Welbourne would have helped this team.
          Who is going to be your number three receiver? With Demetrius Williams yet to take a snap on the field at wide receiver and Marcus Smith turning heads with his play at camp, what does that means for Demetrius?
          What will this team do at the tight end position? With Todd Heap nursing a calf injury and Dan Wilcox trying to get back on the field, what does this team do? They lost two tight ends before they ever moved into the Best Western. Heap and Wilcox both battled injuries last year that cost them time as well as battling injuries during camp.
          What is going on with Kelly Gregg? Kelly has not practiced since early in training camp. Kelly was walking around the team hotel this afternoon with his left knee wrapped up pretty heavily. Kelly is hands down one of the best at his position and a huge part of the Ravens defense.
          Who is going to be playing in the secondary? With Chris McAlister, Ed Reed, and Samari Rolle all nursing injuries, some such as Ed’s which are a huge question mark for the season, what does the team do ? Fabian Washington was a nice pick up in the off season, but he will miss week 1 due to his suspension, is Derrick Martin, Ronnie Prude, and Corey Ivy the answers? Tom Zbikowski, Harauki Nakamura, and Jim Leonhard, have all had good camps, but are they ready to step in for Ed Reed with the starters? My guess is that they will have to be.
Here are a couple of things that I saw from camp that were impressive:
          Marcus Smith had a great camp and really turned some heads and opened some eyes. He seemed to step up to the opportunity of Demetrius Williams not practicing and made the most out of his chance.
          Tom Zbikowski and Haruki Nakamura both showed that they were not overwhelmed when they ran with the first team defense at safety.
          Brendon Ayanbadejo is a tremendous football player. Brandon has amazing speed and is a very hard hitting and probably underrated defensive player. He will make some plays for this team this year.
          Jarrett Johnson and Justin Bannan look like they could have big years for this defense. They both have had very good training camps and played well in the first preseason game. Justin has been a very solid backup on the interior defensive line and the defense does not miss a beat with him in there. Jarrett is playing with a little bit of a chip on his shoulder after a disappointing year by his standards last season.
          Nick Greisen is a tremendous football player and a huge asset to this football team. He has such an understanding of what Rex Ryan is doing with the defense and is complete control of the defense when he is in the game. He has proven to be a very nice pickup by the Ravens last year that went under the radar.
Thanks to all of the people who gave me nice comments during the coverage of Ravens camp this year. It has been a fun and entertaining camp to cover and I am sure will only get more interesting as the preseason and regular season go along.

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Ravens Camp 7-29-08

Posted on 29 July 2008 by caseywillett


Dan Cody who was out of the morning practice, was seen at the team hotel with a walking shoe on his right foot. Dan had a slight limp as he walked through the lobby of the hotel.

No word on the amount of time he will miss.



At afternoon practice, Ozzie Newsome was working the phone a lot. Ozzie was talking on the phone and having conversations with John Harbaugh, and Dick Cass, during and after the practice this afternoon.
          There is no news on Adam Terry as of now. Adam has been around the team hotel for most of the afternoon and said that he has no news on his injury status.
          Trevor Pryce was wearing a brace on his left wrist at the afternoon practice. Trevor missed time last year with a wrist injury.
          Here is more information as it relates to the injury status of Ed Reed: “you’d have to ask John Harbaugh that and Bill Tessendorf. I really don’t know. I know one thing is that Ed is working his tail off out here. He took David Pittman under his wing and he is working just as hard as he can possibly work. But whenever we get him. Ed will be ready. Mentally, in the meeting rooms he’s really taking that leadership over. He’s making all the calls and he’s sharp. It’s just about when he can return due to physical play.”



Adam Terry was walking around on crutches with his left leg heavily wrapped and putting no weight at all on it.
Patrick Carter (WR, Louisville) was absent from the morning practice, but is walking around the team hotel with his left arm in a sling.
Derrick Mason had his right knee wrapped this afternoon after a morning collision with Haruki Nakamura. Derrick does not expect it is something that will keep him out for a long period of time.


To say the morning practice was not interesting would be an understatement. Adam Terry went down in the early part of full team contact drills and immediately began to clutch his left leg and ankle area. This has been the same leg that he has had heavily taped during camp. Adam was quickly carted off the field and taken into the training room.
Here are some other notes from the morning session:
          Kelly Gregg was at practice and participating in all of the team drills after being seen at the team hotel late yesterday evening with his left leg heavily wrapped
          Several players were missing from practice this morning: PJ Daniels, Dan Cody,and Aaron Walker. Several of the guys who have not been at practice ths last couple of days were absent again today: Haloti Ngata, Jared Gaither, Dan Wilcox, Demetrius Williams, and Ed Reed
          Here is my take on Ed Reed. I think Ed Reed being out of practice is a reason for concern. Ed has not participated in any team activities since camp has opened. Ed shows no sign of an injury when he walks around at practice or the team hotel goes, he has no taped up leg or arm or anything else. Ed runs drills on the side with some of the other injured players while the team practices. At this point it makes you wonder if it is a neck injury or something related to that since he does nothing related to contact.
          With Adam Terry and Jared Gaither being out, O’Neil Cousins took the snaps at right tackle while Mike Kracalik took the snaps at left tackle. The Ravens only have Joe Reitz, Marshal Yanda, and David Hale, left as tackles
          Right as the offensive line was about to go over to team drills after individual drills, Ben Grubbs pulled the offensive lined together and gave them a pretty good pep talk. It was impressive to see and caught a lot of people’s eye.
          Right as practice was ending and the team was stretching in the individual units, Edgar Jones walked off the field with the team trainers.

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Ravens Training Camp 7/28/08

Posted on 28 July 2008 by caseywillett

So the morning practice went off with out any players having to be carted off the field. This morning also featured an appearance by the new Ravens live mascot. Here are some other news notes from the morning practice:
          Still no official word on Haloti Ngata. Haloti was seen walking out of the team locker room after practice, but was never on the field during the practice.
          Jared Gaither was not at practice but I saw him here at the team hotel with a walking boot on
          Kyle Boller took the first snaps under center today and his first pass was intercepted by Dawan Landry
          During a redzone drill, tackle Mike Kracalik caught a pass on a play. That was of course after he ran the wrong direction the play before.
          One of the highlight throws of the day was a Troy Smith to Ernie Wheelwright completion which appeared as if Chris McAlister was trying to jump the route
          Derrick Mason was doing a lot of trash talking to the defense today. He was yelling to the offense to attack the defense
          Ray Rice and Bart Scott had a head on collision to which neither player gave up much ground. Ray went to the ground after a second player hit him. While lying on the ground Bart Scott walked by and slapped Ray’s helmet off of him.
          Joe Flacco was very good in the team redzone drill, throwing for a touchdown and making a nice handoff to Ray Rice for a diving over the pile touchdown.
          Troy Smith had a middle of the road day. He made a couple of nice throws and a couple of bad throws. All three of the quarterbacks have been about even in the competition so far.
          John Harbaugh helped out on the special teams practice taking on Prescott Burgess and Gary Stills in a blocking drill.
          Ray Rice continues to be very impressive with his runs and explosiveness. He is not afraid of contact or taking on defenders.


Today will be a day that maybe we will get an idea of what exactly happened to Haloti Ngata and how serious the injury is. I am heading over to the field a little bit earlier this morning as I noticed a bunch of cars with Ravens theme logos on the vehicle.
As I was doing a report with Drew on the Comcast Morning Show, Jared Gaither walked by with a boot/brace on his right leg.
Updates after the morning practice and will hopefully have some news on a shirt that is being worn by players with a picture from the Ali vs Liston fight.
Quick thank you to Bobby from body fx studios for the work he did for me last week. If you are looking for a new tattoo be sure to check them out.

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Ravens Camp Day 5

Posted on 25 July 2008 by caseywillett

The first day of full team practice concluded this afternoon with the team in soft shell shoulder pads. Here are some notes from practice:
          There were several scuffles this afternoon that featured guest appearances from Jason Brown, J’Vonne Parker, Edgar Jones, Mike Kracalik, Joe Reitz, and Gary Stills
          Dan Cody who was banged up this morning but returned for special teams practice this morning was out on the field for practice this afternoon
          P.J. Daniels who left the practice this morning with a injury was at practice this afternoon in shorts and shirt watching practice
          Kyle Boller took the snaps with the first team offense this afternoon
          On one on one drills, Antwan Barnes schooled Mike Kracalik several times with a rip and swim move which lead to Kracalik being very upset
          Other highlight from one on one drills was a strong performance by Jared Gaither against Dan Cody
          Haruki Nakamura had a nice afternoon when he picked off both Joe Flacco and Kyle Boller. While returning one of them one of the coaches yelled out “that is the Bearcat in him.” Referring to Haruki’s days at Cincinnati.
          With no Chris McAlister or Samari Rolle to play in the secondary, Frank Walker and Corey Ivy filled in at that position.
          Derrick Mason and Mark Clayton took turns returning punts in the afternoon practice.
          Adam Terry was favoring his left ankle during practice today, but stayed out for the majority of the plays
          Derrick Martin left practice around 4:25p.m. with the trainers but did not return
          Yamon Figurs also left practice at 4:35 p.m. with the trainers and did not return
          Practice ran for a little over 2 hours this afternoon
          Kyle Boller does some extra running after practice from sideline to sideline after the afternoon practices
          Former Ravens running back coach Matt Simon was at practice and the team hotel this afternoon
          Several of the Ravens players will board a plane tomorrow morning here in Westminster and head to south Florida to attend the funeral of Samari Rolle’s father. Ozzie Newsome will lead a contingent of players that will include Ray Lewis, Ed Reed, Chris McAlister, and a couple other players to attend the funeral. The players will leave tomorrow morning and not return till tomorrow evening. No word yet on when Samari will report to camp.


It was a hard hitting fast paced first practice for the Ravens here are couple of notes from this morning:
          Kyle Boller had a good morning with several of his passes , but then had a couple of fumbles on the exchange from the center
          Troy Smith took the reps this morning as the first quarterback out with the offense
          Chris McAlister, David Pittman, Dan Wilcox, Demetrius Williams, and Ed Reed all did not participate in practice today
          P.J. Daniels left the field with the trainers after taking a hit during the contact drills and did not return to the field. No official word on his injury status.
          Jim Leonhard and Dawan Landry were the safeties on first team defense with Ed Reed not practicing
          Jonathan Ogden was here at practice along with Mike Flynn, Spencer Folau, and Wally Williams. Ogden even stepped in and showed some technique and gave some pointers to O’Neil Cousins and Jared Gaither
          Ray Rice had a tremendous day running the ball. You see his explosiveness and he can make defenders miss him. Ray Lewis pulled Ray Rice to the side and gave him some pointers about running the ball north and south. One of the defensive coaches went on a very profane tirade at defensive players after a couple of the runs by Ray
          Joe Reitz got his welcome to training camp today when he started a scuffle with the defense which was quickly equaled him being out numbered.
          Sam Koch ran a fake field goal when he was the holder and completed a pass to Todd Heap who was covered by Corey Ivy. Todd tipped the ball in the air and came down with it.
          Yamon Figurs took some reps with the second team offense at wide receiver
          O’Neil Cousins,and Jared Gaither, had rough days at practice. Dan Cody man handled Cousins on 1 on 1 drill.
          The Ravens retrun to the field at 2:45 this afternoon
          The Ravens want everyone to know that there was an issue today with single ticket sales, and the plan is that they will go on sale tomorrow at 11 a.m. through ticketmaster. The Ravens said there are single tickets remaining to all of the home games.


Today is the day where the full team will practice for the first time for the media and public as the 2008 Ravens. It looks like they will be in full pads when they hit the field this morning. It will be interesting to see how the rookies will act now with the veterans out at practice.
I will be back after practice with a report.
Former Raven Mike Flynn and Jonathan Ogden are here picking up credentials to go watch practice.

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Ray Lewis not smartest defender in NFL,O’s pictures, birthday cake, and music

Posted on 01 July 2008 by caseywillett

So a recent survey out from ESPN.com list Ray Lewis as the second smartest defensive player in the NFL as voted on by NFL head coaches. Here is the article, which is very interesting to read. Just for the record, no one from the offense
          I can not imagine Derrick Martin will be around long as a member of the Ravens. What he tried to pull is insane to think about. If you did wrong, just admit, do the punishment, and move on. Not saying it is right or is wrong, but I think there is a chance he will be made an example of.
          In the Orioles clubhouse, there are huge poster size pictures of Jim Palmer, Rick Dempsey, Elrod Hendricks, Eddie Murray, Brooks Robinson, and other Orioles greats on the wall outside of the clubhouse. Recently some of the new Orioles pictures have begun to show up. There are now the same size pictures of Brian Roberts, Adam Jones, Nick Markakis and a couple of other guy’s pictures lining the halls.
          Yesterday was Luke Scott’s birthday and he had a huge cake made like the back of his jersey in the clubhouse. Luke said a friend of his made the cake for him and that it weighed about 25 lbs. Every player that walked by and ate some of the cake talked about how good it was and wondering where it came from.
          People have asked about the song that Brian Roberts comes to at bat with. It is from a band called Submersed, which is a band that Kevin Millar is friends with. The song is all called We All Make Mistakes.

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My take on Jason Taylor

Posted on 24 May 2008 by caseywillett

The Jason Taylor to the Ravens talks does not make sense to me on several levels. Now I am not here to bash some other members of the media, I just wanted to point out a couple of factors:
          Terrell Suggs is getting 8 million dollars as a franchise player and there is no doubt that the Ravens want to sign Suggs to a long term deal. I think you would be creating a problem if you let Jason Taylor come here and give him a contract extension. I can not imagine Suggs would be willing to give up some of the money he is expecting to get to get Jason Taylor here.
          There are several guys on this roster who the Ravens think can help them get pressure on the quarterback: Antwan Barnes, Edgar Jones, Jarrett Johnson, and Trevor Pryce, just to name a few. Are these guys Jason Taylor? No but the Ravens feel like they can succeed in this defense.
          I think the pressure on the quarterback will increase greatly when Trevor Pryce is back and is healthy.
          If people are so concerned about Trevor Pryce’s age, Jason Taylor is older than Trevor is. Trevor will turn 33 in a couple of months while Jason Taylor will be turning 34.
          Here is one of the other big reasons that it does not make sense to me. The Ravens I think honestly feel like they have one more run left in them before they have to start to turn this roster over. Bart Scott and Ray Lewis are free agents at the end of this year. The Ravens will also have to soon make decisions on guys like Samari Rolle, Derrick Mason, Matt Stover, Trevor Pryce, and other veterans as it pertains to the future of the team. Why would you go sign a guy who would be one of your oldest veterans on the team?
          There is talk that a relationship between Cam Cameron and Jason Taylor could help bring him here in fact if he was to come here. First off Cam Cameron has nothing to do with the defensive side of the football. How would you feel if you were Rex Ryan and people gave Cam Cameron credit for getting a guy to help the defense? Also last time I checked John Harbaugh is the head coach and while he appreciates Cam’s input he has to be the one to sign off on the move. Most importantly though it the fact that several people I spoke with said this “great relationship”, that Cam and Jason allegedly has could not be any further from the truth.
          Ultimately I think Jason Taylor will end up going somewhere else, maybe it is New England, maybe it is Dallas, maybe it is San Diego, but I am pretty positive in saying it will not be in Baltimore.
Now I could be proven wrong and will gladly be the first to admit it if it does come to be that Jason Taylor ends up a Raven, I just don’t think it will happen or think it would be a smart move.

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Trading on draft day

Posted on 30 April 2008 by caseywillett

With all the trades that took place during the NFL Draft, I thought it would be interesting to look at how these deals take place.

Many teams have preliminary talks with other teams leading up to Saturday about what they would like to do if their “guy” is not there when their turn to pick comes around.

So let’s take the Ravens and Jaguars situation for instance.

Ozzie Newsome probably called James “Shack” Harris during the week and told him what they would like to do if their “guy” is not there at No. 8, which we will say, was Matt Ryan.

So Jacksonville then says what they would be willing to give up if their guy IS there at No. 8 (their guy was Derrick Harvey).

So after the Falcons picked Matt Ryan at No. 3, the Ravens knew that they wanted to bail. I am assuming they probably waited another pick or two to see if Sedrick Ellis or Vernon Gholston were gone. Once that happened, they called Jacksonville to see if they still wanted to make a deal.

Now, once Jacksonville said they wanted to make a deal, both teams needed to call the trade desk at the NFL Draft center and submit the trade offer. Not only do they have to submit it verbally, but they have to also fax the trade offer to the person at the trade desk. That person then has to review both requests, making sure that what is being offered is what the team can offer the other, and then the trade gets approved.

There are a lot of things that have to happen in a short period of time.

You also have to hope that the team you talked to earlier in the week has not gotten a better offer or that they’re not playing poker with you to force you to give up more. You also only have the allotted time to get the deal done. There are also media rumors and teams tying up the phone lines, trying to prevent trades from happening.

Here is another angle on the trades on draft day.

When the Ravens acquired Fabian Washington, the Ravens and the Raiders still both had to call in the trade and submit it via fax. Then the league needed to make sure that Washington was under contract with them, could be traded, and also that the Ravens had enough cap space to take his contract.

I just thought it was an interesting to examine how the many trades happen on draft day.

In the grand scheme of the draft coverage, it does not get talked about enough as to how trades play out and how quickly they have to happen to be valid.

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One new and old Raven come to Baltimore

Posted on 13 March 2008 by caseywillett

The Ravens added some depth to the team this evening with the signing of free agent LB Nick Greisen and cornerback Frank Walker from the Green Bay Packers. Greisen was impressive last year when he was with the Ravens, and a lot of the coaches talked about how quickly he picked up the special teams and defensive packages. Nick was also a good guy to have in the locker room. As I wrote earlier this morning, this may even be more of an indication that Gary Stills could be on his way out of Baltimore. Greisen was solid when he filled in at linebacker and was very solid on special teams.
Frank Walker will be a guy that will probably get a lot of looks at the nickelback position for the Ravens and will add some veteran depth at cornerback. Here is the scouting report on Frank when he was drafted in the 6th round by the Giants:
6th Round – CB Frank Walker (5-11, 200lbs, 4.51, Tuskegee):
Scouting Report: Smooth and fluid athlete with good size. Does well in bump-and-run coverage. Can run with receivers deep and has burst. Raw – needs development. Big hitter. Aggressive against the run, but needs to wrap up better when tackling. One draft report said he has been timed in the 4.35-range and did not give up a reception in six games his senior season
It will be interesting to see what happens to Derrick Martin, Ronnie Prude, and David Pittman. The one advantage that Martin has is that he is very solid on special teams. It will also be interesting to see if Walker can wrestle away the nickel position away from Corey Ivy.
Again much like Ayanbadejo, these are not moves that are going to be the lead story on ESPN or NFL Network tonight, but they are adding solid depth to a team that had some glaring weaknesses at positions last year.

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2008 Hall of Fame Candidates: My Six Picks

Posted on 16 January 2008 by joshuahall

This year’s NFL Hall of Fame ballot appears to be a very tight race, except for two first year inductees: Minnesota Vikings WR Cris Carter (’87-’02) and Washington Redskins CB Darrell Green (’83-’02). Nobody can deny the fact that those two deserve to be inducted in this year’s Hall of Fame for what they have accomplished. While he may have never won a Super Bowl, Cris Carter does go down as one of the best wide outs to ever play the game. Catching 1,101 receptions, scoring 130 touchdowns, and raking in 13,899 yards. Darrell Green however, will go down as not only one of the fastest players in the game, but one of the best shutdown corners to ever play football, and possibly the most accomplished. Winning two Super Bowls in three appearances, especially starting Super Bowl XVIII in his rookie year in a loss to the Oakland Raiders. Green was also selected to seven Pro Bowls and was named to the NFL 1990’s All Decade Team. Cris Carter was also named to the 1990’s All Decade Team, and was selected to eight Pro Bowls.

Now, on to the other candidates. This list is tough to choose from, considering all of these candidates are worthy of having a bust in Canton. The list is as follows: DE Fred Dean (’75-’85), DE Richard Dent (’83-’97), TB Marshall Goldberg (’39-’48), LB Randy Gradishar (’74-’83), G Russ Grimm (’81-’91), P Ray Guy (’73-’86), G Bob Kuechenberg (’70-’84), G Randall McDaniel (’88-’01), WR Art Monk (’80-’95), WR Andre Reed (’85-’00), Commissioner Paul Tagliabue (‘89-’06), LB Derrick Thomas (’89-’99), CB Emmitt Thomas (’66-’78), LB Andre Tippett (’82-’93), T Gary Zimmerman (’86-’97). Wow, what a list!

So, here is my other 4 candidates who I think should be inducted along with Cris Carter and Darrell Green:
WR Art Monk (he retired the all-time leading receiver, he is due)
LB Derrick Thomas (before his tragic death in 2000, there was nobody better at linebacker than Thomas, 126 sacks and 9 Pro Bowls at the age of 33)
G Russ Grimm (Russ was a part of a great O-line for the ‘Skins during their glory years, winning three Super Bowls along the way)
Commissioner Paul Tagliabue (if you love him or hate him, you have to admit, he did take the NFL to new heights)

Let me know what you think about this subject! Also catch the Bruce Cunningham Ravens Report with Aaron Wilson on Saturdays from 11 am to 1 pm! Only on Sportstalk 1570 WNST!


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My Thoughts On The Ravens For Next Year

Posted on 19 November 2007 by roblong

Everyone’s been asking me, so I figured I’d put it in writing, so I could refer to it later.

I believe the offense needs to be completely turned over to someone else. I’ve stated that before. I don’t think you need to fire to get that done. There are other things you could do without interrupting a team that’s been a winner for a decade.

The number one thing this franchise needs is someone who is an offensive mind and innovative in his approach. I don’t think Billick is aggressive enough in his approach because his ultimate job is to win, at any cost. We need a guy who needs to make his name by creating offense, not at the cost of losing a game.

I believe, 100% that we need a young, stud pass rusher. You win with the guys up front. We have a young offensive line that is going to be good, but we do not have a young man who can get to the quarterback without help from a blitz. We desperately need that, more than a quarterback, right now. Look at what the Jaguars are winning with. Look at their two quarterbacks.

I think the Ravens need to go after their middle linebacker to replace Ray Lewis. When you lose a player like Lewis, and we will, you cannot replace him with Bernardo Harris. No disrespect to Mr. Harris. You have to go after a “celebrated” player. I believe this should be a player whom you draft.

I believe the Ravens need to get a veteran wide receiver. I know, we have Derrick Mason, but I think they need a player a little younger than Mason, but a little older than Mark Clayton. That guy may be available in the off-season. If not, see what Mason has in this tank. My fear with Mason is, players get old fast. I don’t want a Steve McNair again. I’ll take that chance with Lewis, not sure if I will with Mason.

We need to get younger and better at the cornerback position. Chris McAllister still has some time, but Samari Rolle is a big question mark, at best. Corey Ivey and Derrick Martin have the rest of the season to determine if they can be starters in this league, longterm.

Finally, I don’t like our situation with our returners. BJ Sams is injury prone, and we aren’t getting anything from Corey Ross and Yamon Figurs. We need to, again, use the rest of this season to see if we can get something from these guys, and make moves at that position if needed. I think we will need it, because I don’t think we’ll get anything from them.

There are my major impact changes for the 2008 season. There may be other changes that should take place, but these changes must occur now for us to be successful.

E-mail me at rob@wnst.net or call me at 410-481-1570.

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