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“The Reality Check” Week 2 NFL Power Rankings

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“The Reality Check” Week 2 NFL Power Rankings

Posted on 12 September 2012 by Glenn Clark

Glenn Clark’s rankings…

32. Miami Dolphins (Last Week: 28)

Perhaps it’s time to work on changing snap counts

31. Indianapolis Colts (31)

Andrew Luck didn’t look terrible, though.

30. Cleveland Browns (32)

Pat Shurmur can’t wait too long for math lessons.

29. Buffalo Bills (16)

What a disaster. It can’t be as bad as it looked…can it?

28. Jacksonville Jaguars (26)

Nearly stole a road win. I can vision quite a few close calls this season.

27. Seattle Seahawks (27)

You can’t lose to Kevin Kolb and improve.

26. St. Louis Rams (25)

They got hosed by timeout mismanagement. They’re still lacking targets for Bradford.

25. Oakland Raiders (21)

I think we understand more why guys like Morgan Cox and Nick Sundberg have played through injury.

24. Carolina Panthers (17)

They ARE still capable of running the football, right?

23. Minnesota Vikings (24)

I guess we have our answers about Adrian Peterson…

22. Arizona Cardinals (29)

The.whole.quarterback.thing.

21. Tennessee Titans (20)

The Patriots will make a lot of teams look bad.

20. Kansas City Chiefs (15)

I thought they were better defensively.

19. Cincinnati Bengals (9)

They aren’t this bad. They just got their ass kicked.

18. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (22)

It wasn’t an eternity ago that they were a team on the rise.

17. Washington Redskins (30)

I’m not all in yet, but it’s hard to not be impressed.

(Glenn’s rankings 16-1 on Page 2…)

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Ravens secondary faces another challenge against Detroit

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Ravens secondary faces another challenge against Detroit

Posted on 15 August 2012 by Luke Jones

Last week it was wide receivers Julio Jones and Roddy White and this week it’s Calvin Johnson, but the Ravens secondary isn’t backing down despite a rough start in the preseason opener.

In fact, the unit is embracing the early challenges against some of the best receivers in football. Against the Detroit Lions on Friday night, the Ravens will arguably see the best receiver in the NFL as the 6-foot-5 Johnson comes off an incredible 2011 season in which he caught 96 passes for 1,681 and 16 touchdowns.

“I am looking to go against anyone,” cornerback Lardarius Webb said. “It’s not that it’s just ‘Megatron.’ But, it’s going to be a nice challenge going against one of the best receivers in the league. Why not start it off in preseason going against him? Getting your confidence up, getting back used to the game, like I said.”

The Baltimore defense is hoping to avoid a repeat of last week when Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan and Jones burned the secondary repeatedly, with cornerback Cary Williams receiving most of the attention. Jones caught six passes for 109 yards and a touchdown in the first quarter as the Ravens allowed 191 total yards in the first 15 minutes of play.

However, defensive coordinator Dean Pees credited Ryan’s pinpoint accuracy on several passes and reminded everyone how the front seven was unable to get consistent pressure on the Atlanta quarterback. The Ravens hope to generate more heat on Stafford to aid defensive backs in the battle against Johnson.

A three-and-out as opposed to the touchdown the Ravens allowed on the Falcons’ opening drive would be a fine way to erase the ugly beginning to the preseason.

“We need to get off to a fast start,” Pees said. “That’s the thing that disappointed us Thursday is we got off to a slow start, and we don’t want to let anybody ever drive the ball on us, let alone go down and score on the first possession – certainly not a way you want to start the game. Now, that being said, I’ve played in enough games in 40 years of football that they have scored on the first drive, and we won the game 41-7. You have to also let that go and it’s over with and done. You make corrections on the sideline, you come back and win the game.”

Webb and the Baltimore secondary aren’t panicking over the poor showing against Atlanta after finishing with the fourth-ranked pass defense in the league last season. Pressure will be on the secondary to play at an even higher level after the loss of linebacker Terrell Suggs and how his absence will likely leave a major void in the pass rush.

Webb is expecting Friday’s performance to look much more like the unit that played at an exceptional level last season.

“When you come into the first game, you get a little anxious,” Webb said. “You want to get the interception here, you want to jump here, but it’s all about feeling the game out, feeling the team out. We kind of jumped the gun, tried to jump too much stuff. This game, I think, we are just going to let it come to us – just play football and let the defense open up to us.”

Increased workload for starters?

Starters will see more action in the second preseason game of the summer, but after last week’s nine-play, nine-yard first quarter, the Ravens will shy away from specifying a concrete amount of time the starters will play against the Lions.

As is always the case, certain veteran starters such as linebacker Ray Lewis and safety Ed Reed will likely be lifted earlier than the rest of their starting mates.

“We will play it by ear right now,” coach John Harbaugh said. “It could be as much as a half, it might not be. We’ll just play it by ear, see how it’s going, and see how many reps we get. Again, it will be more individual. There will be some guys staying longer than other guys. Starters, I think there are categories in there as well.”

Special teams coordinator Jerry Rosburg expressed his preference for Billy Cundiff and Justin Tucker to receive more opportunities on Friday as the Ravens try to decide who will be their place kicker. As was the case last week, Cundiff is expected to start the game before Tucker receives his chance later in the night.

It remains to be seen whether recently-injured players such as Torrey Smith, Jimmy Smith, and Courtney Upshaw will play on Friday, and Harbaugh wasn’t tipping his hand about the status of any players when he spoke to reporters on Wednesday.

“We’ll see,” Harbaugh said. “I don’t really want to mention anyone particularly right now. We will just see how it goes.”

Fight like a Raven

CONTINUE >>>

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Ugly first half brings Ravens’ offseason concerns to light

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Ugly first half brings Ravens’ offseason concerns to light

Posted on 09 August 2012 by Luke Jones

The look on coach John Harbaugh’s face through most of the first half said it all in regards to the Ravens’ performance in what turned out to be a 31-17 win over the Atlanta Falcons after a strong second-half performance by the second and third-teamers on Thursday night.

You never want to take too much away from the first preseason game, but there was no sugarcoating how ugly the performance was over the first 30 minutes of action.

The Baltimore offense was held to just nine total yards on nine plays as it failed to collect a first down in the first quarter. Playing without linebacker Ray Lewis and rookie linebacker Courtney Upshaw, the defense was carved up by Matt Ryan and the Falcons offense for 191 yards in the first 15 minutes and allowed 17 points in the first half.

The effort was sluggish, but the major story was the Ravens’ biggest offseason concerns coming to fruition in the first snapshot of a live-game situation this summer. To panic would be much too premature, but to ignore the lack of a pass rush and concerns along the offensive line means you haven’t been paying attention to the events of the last seven months.

The Ravens received their first dose of reality without linebacker Terrell Suggs as they were unable to generate any pressure on Ryan, who picked on cornerback Cary Williams and the rest of the secondary as wide receiver Julio Jones caught six passes for 109 yards and a touchdown in the first quarter. Matching up against Jones and fellow wideout Roddy White is challenging enough, but the Ravens’ front seven were barely able to breathe on Ryan, let alone bring him to the turf.

Upshaw’s absence certainly didn’t help, but outside linebackers Paul Kruger and Sergio Kindle made little impact and Albert McClellan didn’t find success until Atlanta’s reserves began entering the game in the second quarter. As we’ve said all along, the Ravens will need a collective effort from multiple players to make up for the absence of Suggs, but what they showed against the Atlanta offense simply won’t get it done.

Defensive coordinator Dean Pees still has plenty of time to continue to find ways to generate consistent pressure, but he won’t see very much to like when he looks at the tape of the first half against the Falcons. In addition to the struggles with the pass rush, the Ravens displayed poor tackling and appeared to lack energy on the defensive side of the ball in the first half.

Despite finally waking up to march down the field for an 11-play, 77-yard drive that finished with a Joe Flacco touchdown pass to tight end Ed Dickson in the second quarter, the offense was anemic as the middle of the offensive line struggled to open running lanes and protect the pocket. Rookie Gino Gradkowski started at center for the injured Matt Birk while Michael Oher started at left tackle and rookie tackle Kelechi Osemele played on the right side.

Most alarming about the offensive line was a renewed concern at the left guard position, which was a major topic of discussion all offseason after the free-agent departure of 2011 Pro Bowl selection Ben Grubbs in March. After a strong showing through the first two weeks of training camp that had quelled most concerns at the spot, veteran left guard Bobbie Williams struggled mightily as he was consistently pushed backwards in pass coverage and had a breakdown in communication with Gradkowski that led to another sack.

On a high note for the offensive line, tackle Bryant McKinnie held up well with the second unit as he took reps into the third quarter. Though matched up against lesser defenders, his pass blocking appeared strong and his conditioning didn’t appear to be an issue, making you wonder if he showed the coaching staff enough for him to be reinserted at the left tackle position with the starting offensive line this coming week.

Despite being under duress for most of the time he was in the game, Flacco was 9 for 12 for 88 yards and a touchdown pass while operation out of quick-tempo offense over his four series of work, but the offensive line allowed him to be hit hard a few times.

With a 36-year-old center and a 35-year-old left guard projected to start, the Ravens need as much time as possible to build continuity along the offensive line. Questions will remain about how well Williams and Birk will hold up, but the options are thin behind them as Gradkowski showed flashes but often appeared to be overpowered at the line of scrimmage.

The good news for the Ravens is they still have a month to address these issues in trying to inject life in their Suggs-less pass rush and gain stability along the offensive line. The first half of Thursday night’s game is nothing more than 30 minutes of meaningless football in the scope of the 2012 season.

But it was visual evidence that the prevailing concerns of the offseason are very real and still need to be addressed before the Ravens welcome the Cincinnati Bengals to town on Sept. 10.

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Machado up on night of first Ravens game? Ballsy move, Birds

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Machado up on night of first Ravens game? Ballsy move, Birds

Posted on 09 August 2012 by Glenn Clark

I hypothetically asked the question a few weeks ago on “The Reality Check” on AM1570 WNST.net.

“If the Baltimore Orioles are able to remain in the postseason hunt into September, will it have any impact at all on how you watch/support the Baltimore Ravens in September?”

I pointed out at the time that the two teams did not have games scheduled at the same time at all during September. (The Ravens’ Week 1 Monday night and Week 4 Thursday night primetime home games come on scheduled off days for the Birds. The Week 2 game at Philadelphia is scheduled for 1pm while the O’s are scheduled to play after 4 in Oakland. The Ravens’ Week 3 game also happens in primetime while the Birds take the field in Boston at 1pm.) There would be no direct conflict unless there is a weather related reschedule, or possibly if the Orioles were to make the postseason.

The truth is that there is no basis for comparison when it comes to how Charm City sports fans would treat this short crossover period. The Orioles’ last run to the postseason came in 1997, before the Ravens had captured the collective imaginations, hearts and back accounts of the Mid-Atlantic region’s sports fans. If we date back to the time when the Baltimore Colts and Orioles shared the city; mass media consumption, television coverage and big business of sports were incomparable to 2012.

Reaction to the question was quite varied. Some fans said they wouldn’t change any priorities related to the Ravens because football simply had become more significant to them. Other fans said they couldn’t imagine making any early season football game a priority while the Orioles were in pursuit of their first playoff appearance in a decade and a half. Still others thought it impossible to think that they would have to alter the way they paid attention to or supported either franchise, stating that other cities (namely Boston and New York) have never appeared to struggle with the same problem.

For many, the topic remains the elephant in the room. It might actually happen, they just don’t want to talk about it. They’d rather say things like “let’s just see if the Orioles can hold up their end of the bargain.” The Orioles however took the opportunity Wednesday to remind you that not only does the elephant exist, it’s an actual f*cking elephant.

Perhaps the Baltimore Orioles’ decision to purchase the contract of Bowie Baysox INF (and former first round pick) Manny Machado and allow him to make his MLB debut Thursday night has nothing to do with the fact that the Ravens are opening the preseason against the Falcons in Atlanta.

Of course, perhaps the correlation is absolutely purposeful.

Perhaps the Orioles wanted to take a strike against the pro sports team in town whose success has relegated them to “orange-headed stepchild” status 364 days a year (yes, I’m giving the Birds Opening Day. Nothing more.)

Perhaps members of the Orioles organization had a conversation this week about the lackluster attendance figures at Oriole Park at Camden Yards for the three games against the Seattle Mariners and said “this is probably going to be worse Thursday since fans will want to stay home and watch the football game. Let’s try to combat that somehow.”

Perhaps Peter Angelos (well…probably not Old Man Angelos but someone he allows to advise him and/or make decisions) is still pissed off about the Ravens’ Facebook jab from Opening Day and decided they wanted to put a dent in the football team’s television ratings-which will likely already be hurt by the fact that the game had to be moved from WBAL to WMAR and will be going up against the NBC affiliate’s continued Olympics coverage.

Perhaps there’s still bitterness for how the teams’ MASN-fueled relationship fell apart in 2010 and the Orioles wanted to flex their muscles a little bit to remind the Ravens they’re now working a network (Comcast SportsNet) that has clearly made the Washington Redskins a greater priority over the last two seasons.

Perhaps the Orioles are hoping they can play off the small bit of fan angst created when the Ravens ended their Westminster Training Camp tradition and win the hearts of young sports fans who are angry they can’t get autographs at McDaniel College. Perhaps they’re hoping to steal back part of an already small market that has partially abandoned the Orange and Black.

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Ravens-Falcons preseason primer: Five players to watch

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Ravens-Falcons preseason primer: Five players to watch

Posted on 08 August 2012 by Luke Jones

The Ravens ramp up their summer preparations for the 2012 season by traveling to Atlanta to take on the Falcons in their preseason opener Thursday night.

Meeting the Falcons for the ninth time ever in the preseason, the Ravens are 5-3 all-time and defeated Atlanta by a 21-7 margin in their preseason finale last season. The two teams have met four times in the regular season, with the series tied 2-2.

Baltimore has won 10 of its last 12 preseason games, but the Ravens will naturally only play their starters a brief time as coach John Harbaugh labeled it a “standard” plan for the opening preseason contest. Most starters will play roughly a quarter and the Ravens have not game-planned in any way for the Falcons specifically.

Even with the brief cameo, quarterback Joe Flacco and the starting offense hope to play efficiently before calling it a night roughly midway through the first half.

“It’s all about timing and execution,” Harbaugh said. “How crisp do we play? How do we execute under pressure? How do the guys take that execution from a practice environment and take it to a game environment against another team in a live-type situation? It’s all about executing our offense.”

A story that may go overlooked by most fans Thursday night will be who is officiating the game at the Georgia Dome. The National Football League is currently using replacement officials after locking out its regular officials when labor negotiations were going nowhere in early June. Reports suggest the league is prepared to begin the season with replacement officials.

Some concerns have been raised over the competency of replacement officials and how it might impact player safety, but most players have had little to say about the labor dispute and the Baltimore coach took the high road when asked about the situation earlier this week.

The league has put the replacement officials through extensive training and candidates have officiated at the collegiate level or for other professional leagues.

“We don’t even think about that,” Harbaugh said. “The refs will be fine. They will be what they are. Everybody is going to try to do their best. Our guys have plenty of things to worry about besides the officiating.”

Unofficial (and largely speculative) injury report

The Ravens are not required to release an injury report like they do for regular-season games, but I’ve offered my best guess at what the injury report would look like if there were one.

Harbaugh revealed that any player who didn’t practice Tuesday would not play in the game and players who have recently been held out of extensive practice due to injury may not play either. Older veterans may also be included in the list of inactives, which could mean linebacker Ray Lewis and safety Ed Reed sit out the preseason opener.

Again, this is not meant to be an official injury report:

OUT: C Matt Birk (back), DE Arthur Jones (hip), CB Jimmy Smith (back), LB Josh Bynes (back), RB Bernard Pierce (hamstring), LB Dannell Ellerbe (hamstring), LB Darryl Blackstock (groin), WR Patrick Williams (leg), TE Dennis Pitta (hand), OL Jah Reid (calf), LB Terrell Suggs (Achilles tendon), WR David Reed (knee)
DOUBTFUL: LB Courtney Upshaw (shoulder), WR Tandon Doss (hamstring)
QUESTIONABLE: WR Jacoby Jones (undisclosed), DE Pernell McPhee (knee), DT Haloti Ngata (hamstring), OT Bryant McKinnie (back)
PROBABLE: G Marshal Yanda (limited Monday and Tuesday)

Five players to watch Thursday night

1. LT Bryant McKinnie

The 32-year-old lineman told WNST.net Wednesday morning that he will not only play but receive more reps than usual in the preseason opener in an effort to get into better football shape after missing the start of training camp with a lower back injury. McKinnie has worked mostly with the second-team offensive line as Michael Oher continues to receive most of the first-unit reps on the left side.

If McKinnie has a good showing against the Falcons, he’ll likely find his way back into his starting spot sooner rather than later as the Ravens will want to build some continuity with the offensive line. However, if he struggles, this competition could play out a little longer, especially if rookie right tackle Kelechi Osemele continues to impress as he has during training camp.

2. LB Albert McClellan

With Upshaw unlikely to play, McClellan could find himself making the start at outside linebacker along with Paul Kruger. Last season, the former practice squad member established himself as one of the team’s best special teams players and even filled in admirably at inside linebacker when Ray Lewis and Dannell Ellerbe were sidelined late in the season.

McClellan could at least put himself in the conversation with Upshaw for a starting spot if he can take advantage of his opportunities to work with the starting defense. Upshaw’s weight is still higher than it should be, and he’s just coming back from a sprained shoulder that sidelined him for over a week.

Upshaw clearly has the higher upside, but McClellan has had a strong start to training camp and his versatility could earn him some significant time defensively this season.

3. LB Nigel Carr

The rookie from Alabama State has earned plenty of publicity early in training camp, but he needs to turn in a strong performance on Thursday with Ellerbe unlikely to play with a hamstring injury.

Much like Ellerbe, Carr is considered a “thumper” and has drawn praise from the coaching staff and media alike, but he will need to show more discipline and the ability to drop into pass coverage to earn stronger consideration for a roster spot. Ellerbe figures to see action in the nickel package and is a good backup despite questions about his work ethic and durability.

If Lewis is also held out of Thursday’s game, Carr may even see some time with the starting defense, and you can’t ask for more than that as an undrafted rookie. The 6-foot-2, 247-pound linebacker will need to prove he belongs, however.

4. RB Anthony Allen

Expected to battle the rookie Pierce for the backup running back job behind Ray Rice, Allen has found plenty of reps with the 2012 third-round pick sidelined for much of camp with a hamstring injury. Instead, Allen has seen more competition from diminutive rookie free agent Bobby Rainey at running back.

Allen is a physical runner and impressed as a seventh-round rookie last preseason, but he doesn’t possess great vision, which may limit him to short-yardage and goal-line situations. However, he can gain separation from Pierce in their competition with a strong performance against the Falcons.

Rice will likely play no more than a series or two, meaning Allen will receive touches with the first-string offense as well as the second unit. The Georgia Tech product must secure the football and recognize running lanes in the Ravens’ zone blocking schemes.

5. K Justin Tucker

Tucker has impressed over and over again during the first two weeks of training camp, with a 62-yard field goal at M&T Bank Stadium being the highlight in front of 20,000 fans. As good as incumbent kicker Billy Cundiff has been during training camp, Tucker has created a serious competition by being even better.

It will be interesting to see if Tucker brings the same swagger and consistent leg to the Georgia Dome turf with the knowledge that kicks in preseason games will undoubtedly hold more weight in the eyes of Harbaugh and special teams coordinator Jerry Rosburg. Considering the Ravens have now had a kicking competition in three of their last four seasons, it’s important to remember kicks in practice only mean so much.

The Ravens will likely alternate quarters or halves for the two kickers, so you’d expect the veteran Cundiff to handle duties in the first quarter, but many eyes will be on the rookie from Texas when he gets an opportunity to line up against the Falcons.

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McKinnie ready for playing time in Atlanta Thursday night

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McKinnie ready for playing time in Atlanta Thursday night

Posted on 08 August 2012 by Luke Jones

Despite taking part in a limited number of practices after reporting late to training camp, left tackle Bryant McKinnie expects to see plenty of playing time when the Ravens travel to Atlanta for their preseason opener Thursday night.

After practicing on a limited basis for two days late last week under the acclimation period laid out by the collective bargaining agreement, McKinnie was cleared to participate fully on Monday. However, he says he will take the field against the Falcons in the first preseason game.

Harbaugh said Tuesday the coaching staff was still deciding whether to play players who had recently returned to the practice field such as McKinnie and defensive tackle Haloti Ngata.

“I’m actually going to play a little more,” McKinnie told AM 1570 WNST on Wednesday morning. “We just got back into pads on Monday, so I need to get more reps and get back on the field.”

McKinnie has received limited reps at left tackle with the starting offensive line, but the 6-foot-8 tackle has seen most of his work with the second-team line as Michael Oher continues to work primarily at left tackle for the time being. Harbaugh said at the start of training camp that Oher was the team’s left tackle until further notice, but that was before McKinnie reported on July 29 after revealing he’d suffered a back injury in a fall at his home in Florida.

The Ravens are not only evaluating McKinnie’s conditioning, but it’s clear they’re sending a message that he simply won’t be handed the starting job before proving he’s in proper football shape. The 32-year-old said last Saturday he weighed 360 pounds, which was 15 pounds heavier than the reported 345-pound mark the team desired him to weigh by the start of the preseason but 10 pounds lighter than what he weighed upon arriving in Baltimore late last August.

Plenty of questions surrounded his weight and conditioning when the Ravens signed him last year, but he was the only starting offensive lineman to play every snap during the 2011 season.

“I feel good,” McKinnie said. “I’m just ready to go work on my technique and stuff like that. Just get out here and get my reps in and get [my] footwork down. I’ve only really had one day in [full] pads.”

For now, McKinnie is focused on his play on the field and isn’t interested in discussing his reported financial strife after this week’s revelation that the Ravens will garnish 50 percent of his net compensation as part of the terms of a settlement with a lending agency that filed a lawsuit against him last November.

“There’s really no financial situation,” McKinnie said. “That was a lawsuit that took place and is actually over, so I guess they need to make a press release for that so people stop bringing that up. That’s not even on my mind.”

Listen to McKinnie’s interview with WNST.net’s Drew Forrester in the BuyAToyota.com Audio Vault HERE.

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Top 10 Baseball Distractions

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Top 10 Baseball Distractions

Posted on 07 August 2012 by Glenn Clark

Honorable Mention: Soccer-MLS DC United @ Sporting Kansas City (Saturday 8:30pm from Kansas City live on Comcast SportsNet); Pro Lacrosse: MLL Denver Outlaws @ Chesapeake Bayhawks (Saturday 7pm from Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium live on ESPN3.com); Charm City Roller Girls (Saturday 5:30pm Du Burns Arena)

10. Evanescence/Chevelle (Tuesday 4pm Pier Six Pavilion); American Idol Live feat. Phillip Phillips (Thursday 7pm First Mariner Arena Wednesday 7pm Verizon Center); O.A.R. (Friday 5:30pm Merriweather Post Pavilion); System of a Down/Deftones (Tuesday 8pm Verizon Center); Linkin Park (Saturday 8pm Jiffy Lube Live), Aerosmith/Cheap Trick (Sunday 7:30pm Jiffy Lube Live); Steve Miller Band (Friday & Saturday 8pm Wolf Trap), Joe Walsh (Monday 8pm Wolf Trap); Little Feat (Wednesday 8pm Rams Head Live); Howie Day (Thursday 8pm Rams Head on Stage); Mighty Mighty Bosstones (Tuesday 7pm 9:30 Club); Lucinda Williams (Monday 7:30pm Birchmere); Alternate Routes (Friday 8pm Jammin’ Java); Boston/Kansas/Grand Funk Railroad (Saturday 7pm Aberdeen Proving Ground); Kenny Chesney/Tim McGraw (Sunday 4:30pm FedEx Field); The Wailers (Sunday 8pm State Theatre); Silopanna feat. Cake, Citizen Cope, Robert Randolph & The Family Band, G. Love & Special Sauce, J Roddy Walston & The Business, Jimmie’s Chicken Shack (Saturday Anne Arundel County Fairgrounds)

You may not have heard this, but I enjoy the tunes of the band Of A Revolution…

Do you think the Bosstones ultimately fell off because they just couldn’t shake the stigma that came with being the band from Clueless? They were so freaking good…

I’m looking forward to seeing Citizen Cope Sunday in Annapolis…

I’m looking forward to seeing Robert Randolph even more…

9. Chris Tucker (Saturday 7pm Modell Performing Arts Center at The Lyric); Ian Bagg (Thursday-Saturday Baltimore Comedy Factory); Mike Birbiglia (Tuesday-Thursday DC Improv); Michael McDonald (Friday-Sunday DC Improv); Baltimore County Summer Restaurant Week (Friday-Monday throughout Baltimore County); “Nitro Circus The Movie 3D” (Wednesday), “The Bourne Legacy” and “The Campaign” out in theaters (Friday)

I pray “The Campaign” doesn’t suck. There’s been far too much good thus far.

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Former Raven Mughelli cut by Falcons

Posted on 08 May 2012 by WNST Staff

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Navy Home Football Games To Kick Off At 3:30PM, Air On CBS Sports Net

Posted on 25 April 2012 by WNST Staff

Navy Home Football Games To Kick At 3:30 PM And Will Be Televised Live By CBS Sports Network

ANNAPOLIS, Md.—The five home games at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium will kickoff at 3:30 PM and will be televised live by CBS Sports Network.

Navy will kick-off the 2012 season on Sept. 1 in Dublin, Ireland against Notre Dame.  The game will be played at Aviva Stadium, located in the heart of Dublin, and marks the first time the stadium has hosted an American football game.

It will also be the first time in program history that Navy has opened up against Notre Dame and the second time the two teams have met in Dublin.  Navy played the Irish at Croke Park in Dublin in 1996.   The game will be broadcast by CBS Sports and kick at 2:00 PM in Dublin, which is 9:00 AM on the East Coast.

After a week off, the Mids will travel to Happy Valley on Sept. 15 to take on Bill O’Brien’s Penn State Nittany Lions.  It will be the first meeting between the two schools since 1974 when Navy shocked Penn State in State College, 7-6.   A kickoff time has not yet been announced by Penn State and the BIG Ten Conference.

VMI comes to town on Sept. 22 for the home opener at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium. It will be the ninth meeting between the two schools and the first since 2003 when Navy defeated the Keydets, 37-10, in the season opener.

The Mids will have revenge on their minds when San Jose State comes calling on Sept. 29. Last fall, the Spartans eliminated the Midshipmen from bowl contention with a 27-24 victory in San Jose.

Navy will travel to Colorado Springs, Colo. for the first leg of the Commander-In-Chief’s Trophy on Oct. 6.  The Falcons won the Commander-In-Chief’s Trophy last year thanks to a 35-34 overtime victory over Navy in Annapolis.  Air Force and the Mountain West Conference have not yet released a game time.

The Mids will travel to Mount Pleasant, Mich. the following week, as Navy will play at Central Michigan on Friday, Oct. 12 at 8:00 PM ET on ESPN2.  It will be the first time Navy has played at Central Michigan and the first time Navy has played in the state of Michigan since 2006 when the Mids beat Eastern Michigan at Ford Field in Detroit.

The Indiana Hoosiers come to Annapolis the following week (Oct. 20) for Homecoming.  It will be just the third time in school history that the two teams have met and it will be Indiana’s first trip to Annapolis.  The Hoosiers will be the first Big 10 team to play at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium since Northwestern beat Navy in 2002.

East Carolina will play host to Navy on Oct. 27 in Greenville.  The Pirates knocked off Navy last year in a thriller, 38-35. East Carolina and Conference USA have not yet announced a game time.

Navy and Florida Atlantic will meet on the gridiron for the first time the following week as new head coach Carl Pelini brings his Owls North to Annapolis on Nov. 3.

Navy will make its first trip to Troy, Ala. on Nov. 10 when the Mids take on the Troy Trojans. Navy defeated Troy last year, 42-14.  Troy and the Sun Belt Conference have not yet announced a game time.

The home finale takes place on Nov. 17, when Dennis Franchione and the Texas State Bobcats come to Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium on Senior Day.

The 2012 Army-Navy Game Presented by USAA will take place at Philadelphia’s Lincoln Financial Field on Dec. 8.  Navy leads the all-time series, 56-49-7, and has won a series-record 10-consecutive games against the Black Knights.  CBS has not announced a game time as of yet.

Season tickets are on sale now for $180.   Standing room only tickets for the grass hill located at the North end zone of Navy Marine Corps Memorial Stadium are $100 for the season and the Billy the Kid Package (age 12 and under) is $60 forstanding room only tickets for the grass hill.  Children two and under do not need a ticket unless the child is occupying a sea. You can purchase tickets by calling 1-800-US4-NAVY or by going to www.navysports.com.

For information about how to get CBS Sports Network, including a full programming schedule, go to www.cbssportsnetwork.com  

2012 Navy Football Schedule
Sept. 1                        vs. Notre Dame (Dublin, Ireland)
Sept. 15            at Penn State                               
Sept. 22            VMI
Sept. 29             at San Jose State
Oct. 6                        at Air Force
Oct. 13                        at Central Michigan
Oct. 20                        Indiana (Homecoming)
Oct. 27                        at East Carolina
Nov. 3                        Florida Atlantic
Nov. 10            at Troy
Nov. 17            Texas State
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Undefeated Loyola Faces Test Saturday Night at Denver

Posted on 13 April 2012 by WNST Staff

Opponent Denver Pioneers
Date Saturday, April 14, 2012
Time 7:00 p.m. (MDT)
Location Denver, Colo. | Peter Barton Stadium
TV | Radio Denver Webstreaming
Series Record Denver leads, 2-0
Last Meeting Denver 12, Loyola 8 – May 16, 2012 at Baltimore

Game Data

Loyola University Maryland will play the middle game of a three-game road trip on Saturday, April 14, in The Centennial State. The Greyhounds will take on Denver University at 7 p.m. (Mountain Daylight Time) at Peter Barton Stadium.

Series History

Denver has won the first two meetings between the teams, each coming in the last two seasons since the Pioneers joined the ECAC Lacrosse League. Denver won the first meeting, 12-4, at Invesco Field in 2010, and the Pioneers then took a 12-8 decision last season in Baltimore.

In The Polls

Loyola checked in at No. 4 for the third week in a row in the USILA Coaches’ Poll this week, and the Greyhounds are in the same No. 4 spot of the Nike/Inside Lacrosse Media rankings for the second-consecutive week.. The coaches’ poll mark is Loyola’s highest ranking since it was third in the April 1, 2002, poll with a 7-0 record after downing Towson, 15-7.

Denver is currently ranked 10th in the coaches version, and eighth in the media poll.

Rally Caps

Loyola used a late rally to win its 10th game of the season last Saturday, an 8-6 victory at then-No. 14 Fairfield. The Greyhounds scored the last four goals of the game to come back from a 6-4 fourth-quarter deficit.

It was the first time this year that Loyola had trailed in the fourth quarter, and the 4-4 tie going into the final stanza was the first time it had not led outright entering the frame.

The Greyhounds held Fairfield scoreless for the final 11 minutes, 59 seconds of action.

Defense Standing Tall

The Greyhounds’ defense is ranked fifth in NCAA Division I with a 7.0 goals allowed per game mark, as they have not allowed more than eight goals in a single game this season.

Loyola is the only team in the nation with the distinction of not having allowed eight or more goals in a game. The Greyhounds are one of three teams (Massachusetts and Notre Dame are the others) who have allowed fewer than 10 in each outing this season.

Ward Steps Up Scoring

Justin Ward has raised his scoring numbers over Loyola’s last two games, complimenting fellow attack members Mike Sawyer and Eric Lusby. Against Ohio State and Fairfield, Ward combined for three goals and four assists for a team-high seven points during that stretch.

Of his three goals, two were during critical fourth-quarter stretches in both games. Against Ohio State, he rolled around a Sean O’Sullivan screen at goal-line extended, stepped in and shot from seven yards out, scoring to put Loyola up 7-5.

At Fairfield, Ward tied the game at 6-6, after Loyola had trailed 6-4, with his second goal of the game at 7:19, and he then assisted on Mike Sawyer’s eventual game-winner less than two minutes later.

Ward, who had one assist as a freshman last season, leads the Greyhounds with 17 assists this season, and he is third on the team with 23 points.

Runkel Honored For Third Time

Sophomore goalkeeper Jack Runkel was named the ECAC Defensive Player of the Week for the third time in five weeks on Monday after posting 12 saves and allowing just six goals against Fairfield.

Runkel, who took over as the Greyhounds’ starter in the fourth game of the season, is the only ECAC defender to be honored on more than one occasion this year, and along with Scott Ratliff and Reid Acton, Loyola defenders have earned the award in five of seven weeks.

In just under 500 minutes of action between the pipes this season, Runkel has played to a 7.10 goals against average and a .565 save percentage. He is sixth in Division I in goals against average and 14th in save percentage.

Defensive Unit Helping Out

While Jack Runkel has picked up three conference awards this year, much of the credit can also go to the defensive unit as a whole. Opponents have taken 216 total shots while Runkel has been in goal this year, but just 124 have been on goal.

In all, opponents have managed just 152 shots on goal against the Greyhounds this year. Loyola is holding opponents to a .260 shot percentage, 11th best in the nation.

Causing Miscues

Loyola’s defense is fourth in Division I in caused turnovers per game, averaging 9.7 a contest. Four Greyhounds – Scott Ratliff (2.1), Reid Acton (1.3), Joe Fletcher and Dylan Grimm (both 1.1) – are averaging more than one per game. Ratliff ranks 11th in Division I in the category.

Close Call

Loyola’s 8-7 victory on March 31 against Ohio State marked the first time this year that the Greyhounds have played a game decided by less than three goals. Previously, Loyola’s closest victory was 11-8 on March 3 at Bellarmine, and no other game was within five goals.

Ten Or More Streak Snapped

The Greyhounds had scored at least 11 goals in each of their first eight games of the 2012 season, marking the longest stretch of games with 10 or more goals they have put together since March 24-May 12, 2001. Ohio State, however, held Loyola to just eight goals.

New Feeling

Loyola was outshot for the first time this season against Ohio State, as the Buckeyes tallied 33 shots to the Greyhounds’ 27.

Ohio State, however, managed to put just 15 shots on goal, and goalkeeper Jack Runkel made saves on eight.

Loyola, meanwhile, had 20 shots on goal, a season-best 74-percent of its overall shots. Previously, Loyola had outshot opponents by a minimum of nine in the first eight games of the year.

Acton Draws Recognition

Junior defender Reid Acton was named the ECAC Defensive Player of the Week after recording five ground balls and a career-best five caused turnovers against Ohio State.

Acton’s primary marking responsibility against the Buckeyes was leading scorer Logan Schuss who entered the game averaging 3+ goals and 4+ points per game. Acton limited him to two goals and an assist, and his final goal came with just nine seconds left and Loyola leading by three.

Big Runs

Loyola used runs of three-plus goals at important junctures of its first 10 games, helping the Greyhounds to wins each time. In all, Loyola has scored three or more in a row on 20 occasions this season.

Loyola used four three-goal runs against Duke, including one three-goal streak that put Loyola up 4-1 at the beginning of the second quarter. The Greyhounds never trailed after that initial three-goal run and extended their lead to 13-5 after its fourth three-goal spurt of the game.

The Greyhounds had their longest run in almost two years against Air Force, scoring 10 in a row to open the second half. The last time Loyola scored 10 or more in a row was on March 20, 2010, when it had 14 straight against Air Force.

Loyola then used a 6-0 run to break a 5-5 tie early in the third quarter with Georgetown on the way to a 11-6 victory.

The Greyhounds then scored seven in a row on the back end of a 10-1 run last Saturday at UMBC, and after falling behind 3-2 in the second quarter against Ohio State, the Greyhounds strung together four in a row to go ahead 6-3 by the end of the third quarter.

At Fairfield, Loyola scored the final four goals of the game to rally from a 6-4 deficit to win 8-6.

On The Flip Side

Conversely, the Greyhounds have allowed a run of three or more goals just five times this year, with the most recent coming when Fairfield scored five unanswered. Only the Stags (five) and Air Force (four) have scored more than three in a row this year.

Every time an opponent has logged those runs, Loyola has answered in kind with a run of 4-0 or better.

Lusby, Ratliff Join Tewaaraton Watch List

Loyola’s Eric Lusby and Scott Ratliff were named to the Tewaaraton Award Watch List, joining fellow Greyhound Mike Sawyer who was named to the group before the season.

Lusby is second on the team with 27 goals and 35 points, while Ratliff paces the team in caused turnovers with 17, and his 39 ground balls are tied for the team lead.

Second-Half Success

Loyola continued a trend of strong second-half play this season by outscoring Fairfield, 4-2, in the fourth quarter

The Greyhounds have now outscored opponents 37-12 in the third quarters of games and 67-33 overall this year in the second half.

The second-half scoring continues a trend from the last two seasons. Last year, Loyola outscored opponents, 69-52, after halftime (including two overtime goals), and 77-56 two years ago.

Lusby Matches Career-High

Eric Lusby scored three times during Loyola’s second half run and finished the Georgetown game with five goals, matching his career-high set on March 3 at Bellarmine. He followed that with his fifth hat trick of the season, scoring three at UMBC.

Lusby has scored at least one goal in each of Loyola’s eight games this season. The graduate student returned to game action in the season-opener after missing all but two games of the 2011 season. Now a graduate student, Lusby tore his right ACL in the 2010 NCAA First Round game against Cornell. He attempted to come back last year, but he saw limited action against Navy and Towson and was shut down to rehab the injury for the remainder of the season.

Lusby burst back onto the scene against Delaware, scoring the Greyhounds’ first goal of the game on an extra-man opportunity, and the 2010 All-ECAC First Team member tallied three more in the second half.

Lusby reset his career-high at Bellarmine, tallying five goals in the victory to go with one assist, and added two more at Michigan.

Through Loyola’s first eight games, Lusby is second on the team with 27 goals and 35 points.

Sawyer, Runkel Honored Again

For the second time this season, Mike Sawyer and Jack Runkel earned ECAC Offensive and Defensive Player of the Week honors on the same day, as the pair was honored on Monday following the Greyhounds’ wins over Georgetown and UMBC.

Sawyer scored three goals against the Hoyas, and he then scored four-straight Loyola goals and finished with five at UMBC. Sawyer also matched his career-best with two assists against the Retrievers.

Runkel paced the Loyola defense in the two games, playing to a 5.50 goals against average. He made a career-best 13 saves in the win over UMBC.

Toomey Wins 50th

Head coach Charley Toomey earned his 50th-career win Wednesday, March 7, as Loyola beat Michigan, 15-8.

Toomey, who is in his seventh season, has led Loyola to eight-plus wins in each of the last three seasons and has had the Greyhounds finish .500 or better in all seven seasons since coming to the Evergreen campus.

Sawyer Shows Same Form

Mike Sawyer has picked up where he left off a year ago, leading the team with 29 goals and 36 points through the first eight games. Sawyer led Loyola last season with 31 goals and 38 points.

Sawyer tied a then-career-high with five goals in the team’s, 15-8, win at Michigan, before scoring a new personal-best six goals against Duke.

After scoring five goals against UMBC, he now has 16 career multi-goal games and the 19 multi-point effort of his tenure at Loyola.

Before the season, Sawyer was named to the Preseason All-ECAC Team and was named to the Face-Off Yearbook Preseason All-America Honorable Mention. He also was named to the Tewaaraton Award Watch List.

Ratliff Honored For Second Time

Loyola long-stick midfielder Scott Ratliff was named the ECAC Co-Specialist of the Week on March 19 after turning in impressive numbers in a win over Air Force. Ratliff scored twice and had an assist while picking up seven ground balls against the Falcons. Earlier this season, Ratliff earned ECAC Defensive Player of the Week laurels after the Greyhounds’ opener against Delaware.

Ratliff is currently sixth among active long poles in career scoring. He has seven goals and five assists for 12 points. This year, he has three goals and two assists, as well as a team-leading 32 ground balls.

Bonitatibus, Runkel Both Win First Starts

Junior Michael Bonitatibus made his first collegiate start in goal for the Greyhounds against Delaware after having played less than two minutes prior to this season.

Bonitatibus, who played 65 seconds in his collegiate debut last year at Duke, made seven saves for the Greyhounds and allowed just eight goals. He also picked up five ground balls and caused two turnovers.

Bonitatibus became the first Loyola goalkeeper to win his starting debut in nearly 11 years. The last was Mark Bloomquist who also defeated Delaware, 8-7, on February 24, 2001.

Jack Runkel made his first career start against Michigan and also won his initial outing as a starter. He tallied five saves against the Wolverines, and he then posted a career-high 12 against Duke.

Record At Ridley

After going 4-1 at Ridley Athletic Complex last season, the Greyhounds have opened their third year at the stadium with six wins at home. Loyola is now 14-3 all-time at Ridley.

What’s Next

The Greyhounds wrap up their three-game road trip with an excursion on April 21 to Geneva, N.Y., where they will wrap up ECAC play with a 12 noon game at Hobart.

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