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Morning Reaction Tuesday Top 7 (and Worst 7) Ravens free-agent signings

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Morning Reaction Tuesday Top 7 (and Worst 7) Ravens free-agent signings

Posted on 20 March 2012 by Luke Jones

In honor of the Ravens re-signing veteran center Matt Birk to a three-year contract on Friday, The Morning Reaction offers its Tuesday Top 7 (and Worst 7) free-agent signings in the history of the Baltimore Ravens.

Luke Jones ranked the best signings while Drew Forrester identified the worst signings made by general manager Ozzie Newsome and the organization.

To hear the full explanation of their lists, click HERE for Part 1 and HERE for Part 2.

Luke Jones’ Top 7 free-agent signings …

7) Tony Siragusa
Siragusa

6) Trent Dilfer
Dilfer

5) Sam Adams
Adams

4) Michael McCrary
McCrary

3) Derrick Mason
Mason

2) Rod Woodson
Woodson

1) Shannon Sharpe
Sharpe

Drew Forrester’s Worst 7 free-agent signings …

7) Corey Fuller
Fuller

6) Mike Anderson
Anderson

5) Keydrick Vincent
Vincent

4) Deion Sanders
Sanders

3) Elvis Grbac
Grbac

2) Frank Sanders
Sanders

1) Frank Walker
Walker

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Top 10 Baseball Distractions

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Top 10 Baseball Distractions

Posted on 23 November 2010 by Glenn Clark

Honorable Mention-NHL: Washington Capitals @ Carolina Hurricanes (Wednesday 7pm from Raleigh live on Comcast SportsNet), Tampa Bay Lightning @ Washington Capitals (Friday 5pm from Verizon Center live on Comcast SportsNet), Carolina Hurricanes @ Washington Capitals (Sunday 5pm from Verizon Center live on Comcast SportsNet & NHL Network)

10. Ozzy Osbourne (Monday 7:30pm 1st Mariner Arena); Charm City Devils (Friday 7pm Rams Head Live), Jah Works (Saturday 8pm Rams Head Live); Crack The Sky (Saturday 8pm Recher Theatre); Citizen Cope (Tuesday & Wednesday 7:30pm Birchmere, Friday 8:30pm, Saturday 1:30pm & 8:30pm Rams Head On Stage); Carbon Leaf (Wednesday 6pm 9:30 Club), Donovan Frankenreiter (Thursday 8pm 9:30 Club), Cyndi Lauper (Saturday 6pm 9:30 Club), KT Tunstall (Saturday 10pm 9:30 Club), Brandon Flowers (Monday 7pm 9:30 Club); Shelby Lynne (Monday 7:30pm Birchmere); Lisa Lampanelli (Saturday 7pm Warner Theatre); Kanye West “My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy” available in stores/on iTunes (Tuesday); Inception“, “Despicable Me” and “Shrek Forever After” available on DVD/Blu-Ray (Tuesday)

I have an attorney friend (I should probably have more of those) who has an extra ticket to see Ozzy Monday. She’s quizzing her friends about Ozzy to see who will get the ticket. The first question is one of those “just don’t answer this the wrong way” questions. It is: “What is your favorite Ozzy song?” Rumor has it there’s someone who actually DIDN’T answer “War Pigs.” Fine by me, I’m a step closer to having a ticket!

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xtqy4DTHGqg[/youtube]

No SR-71 Thanksgiving show this year, but I’d be MORE than happy to see CCD instead. I’m digging “Best of the Worst”…

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h7XhpOrrkAM[/youtube]

Citizen Cope could do just about ANYTHING and I’d be in. But if I was headed to Annapolis to see him-I’d be hoping for “Pablo Picasso”…

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4d4O02BJz74[/youtube]

There are a lot of rumors that this will be one of the better disc’s in Kanye’s career. I’ll admit that “Devil In A New Dress” makes me hopeful…

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D55rDDvu3n4[/youtube]

9. Glenn Clark’s Thanksgiving Plans (Wednesday-Saturday)

And seriously-I think I’ve got a win.

On Wednesday, I’ll appease a roommate and we’ll watch Planes, Trains and Automobiles. Calling it a classic doesn’t really do it justice. (Clip VERY NSFW!)

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S5o8DFfYHS4[/youtube]

Thursday night is easy. Pumpkin Pie, white wine and Home Alone. It is what it is…

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4dGOfFbzvq4[/youtube]

And after everything calms down Saturday, my favorite part of Turkey Day begins. You know, the part where I slab turkey, mashed potatoes and BBQ sauce on bread and forget the words “calorie intake” mean anything.

tgiving

8. Soccer-World Cup Qualifying (Women’s): Italy @ Team USA (Saturday 2pm from Bridgeview, IL live on ESPN3.com), College Soccer-NCAA Tournament: Penn State @ Maryland (Sunday 4pm Ludwig Field)

I’m so TORN here!

We all know I love the red, white & blue. And since the greatest American women’s soccer moment involved stripping, I PARTICULARLY love American women’s soccer.

But this is Italy we’re talking about. The land of my forefathers. The land that taught me that talking with my hands is as important as talking with my lips, and that my lips are more made for kissing.

It’s also the land that gave us “The Situation”! How can we root against them?!?!?

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4zT9p1vnBjo[/youtube]

7. Table Tennis: JOOLA North American Tennis Championships (Friday-Sunday Baltimore Convention Center)

I was going to simply say “I’m picking Forrest Gump” and leave it at that, but apparently the former Alabama KR is not playing this year. I’m just as surprised as you.

Seriously-I love playing ping-pong, but these people are freaking NUTS.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A8IVASo0umU[/youtube]

WHAT THE HELL WAS THAT?!?!? WOW!

6. Tennis: Barclays ATP World Tour Finals (Tuesday-Saturday 1pm, Sunday 3pm from London live on Tennis Channel)

FINALLY! Some eye candy for the blog!!!!!!

andyroddick

Maybe not all of you are as big of Andy Roddick fans as I am, but…ummm…deal with it.

5. NBA: Philadelphia 76ers @ Washington Wizards (Tuesday 7pm from Verizon Center live on Comcast SportsNet), Washington Wizards @ Atlanta Hawks (Thursday 8pm from Atlanta live on TNT), Orlando Magic @ Washington Wizards (Saturday 7pm from Verizon Center live on Comcast SportsNet & NBA TV), Washington Wizards @ Miami Heat (Monday 7:30pm from Miami live on Comcast SportsNet)

I haven’t been following basketball in a while, do we still hate the Heat because of LeBron James?

Sorry, I just don’t pay as much attention as I probably should.

Oh and also…do you think Gary Payton and Shawn Kemp will finally get the Seattle Supersonics past the Chicago Bulls this year? That’s a hell of a combo they’ve got there in the Emerald City…

4. College Football: North Carolina State @ Maryland (Saturday 3:30pm from Byrd Stadium live on ESPN2)

Yes, the ACC Championship Game is out of the picture. But beating the Wolfpack Saturday might very well be the difference in the Terps going to a bowl game in Nashville or Charlotte instead of ending up in a bowl game at RFK Stadium.

Let’s think about that a bit. Music City gave us Kings of Leon…

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5kQUjwv2R1g[/youtube]

The Queen City gave us Anthony Hamilton…

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-4LVf9qdFYA[/youtube]

And DC gave us…ummm….Rod Strickland?

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XTyNwkZwCzg[/youtube]

3. College Basketball: Delaware State @ Maryland (Tuesday 8pm Comcast Center), Elon @ Maryland (Friday 8pm from Comcast Center live on Comcast SportsNet); UMBC @ Coppin State (Wednesday 7:30pm Coppin State Physical Education Complex); Loyola @ Morgan State (Monday 7pm Hill Field House); Navy @ Towson (Wednesday 7pm Towson Center)

I hate it when local teams play against each other. I mean, how do I pick between Randy Monroe’s Retrievers or Fang Mitchell’s Eagles? And how do I pick between Jimmy Patsos’ Greyhounds or Todd Bozeman’s Bears?

It’s like trying to pick what Thanksgiving dessert I enjoy more:
spp
pumpkinpie
pecanpie

You know what? I’m not picking. Good luck to ALL of the local teams this week, and please bring me one of each type of pie. MMM….pie….

2. High School Football-MPSSAA Playoffs: Broadneck @ Henry A. Wise (Saturday 1pm), Urbana @ Gaithersburg (Friday 7pm), Wilde Lake @ Damascus (Friday 7pm), Huntingtown @ Franklin (Friday 7pm), Eastern Tech @ Middletown (Friday 7pm), McDonough @ Queen Anne’s (Friday 7pm), Fort Hill @ Dunbar (Saturday 1pm Poly High School), Brunswick @ Havre de Grace (Friday 7pm); Turkey Bowl: Calvert Hall vs. Loyola Blakefield (Thursday 10am from M&T Bank Stadium live on ABC2)

Here’s what Thursday’s annual showdown between the Cardinals and Dons means to those of us in Baltimore with no MIAA ties.

You see, when you’re growing up-Calvert Hall/Loyola is simply the game you flip over to for a minute after Santa Claus strolls through New York in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade.

After you turn 21 and discover the “true” meaning of Thanksgiving Eve, Calvert Hall/Loyola becomes a game you can’t POSSIBLY wake up early enough to watch before stuffing your face with enough food to make you forget about your hangover.

As a side note, let’s go Franklin Indians again Friday night. You knock Ken Brinkman and North Harford High School out of the playoffs, you get EVERY ounce of support possible from me.

Up yours, Brinkman.

1. NFL: Tampa Bay Buccaneers @ Baltimore Ravens (Sunday 4:15pm from M&T Bank Stadium live on FOX); New England Patriots @ Detroit Lions (Thursday 12:30pm from Detroit live on CBS), New Orleans Saints @ Dallas Cowboys (Thursday 4:15pm from Arlington, TX live on FOX), Cincinnati Bengals @ New York Jets (Thursday 8:20pm from East Rutherford, NJ live on NFL Network)

As we gather around televisions Thursday to enjoy the annual celebration that is watching the Lions get their asses kicked, I’d like to take some time to remember the true meaning of the day.

It is important that we give thanks for the many wonderful things that have happened this year.

For example, let’s give thanks that Frank Walker now plays for the Minnesota Vikings.

And let’s give thanks that the McRib is back. It’s not my thing anymore, but I really do get it.

And finally, let’s give thanks that Amanda Harrington forgot to grab a bra before snapping this picture. (Thanks Busted Coverage!)

amandaharrington

Flexing my mic muscles since 1983…

-G

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Frank Walker wearing a different shade of purple

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Frank Walker wearing a different shade of purple

Posted on 29 October 2010 by Ryan Chell

Frank Walker

Former Ravens corner Frank Walker may have had his struggles and was highly criticized during his tenure in Baltimore, but with a depleted secondary due to injury, the Minnesota Vikings recently called upon his services in the hopes of bringing a veteran presence in their defensive backfield.

The eighth year veteran out of Tuskegee was signed by the Vikings on October 13th, after multiple injuries hit the Vikings secondary, most notably the injury to Cedric Griffin that left him in IR.

Walker, who had tryouts with the Miami Dolphins and the Houston Texans after not being re-signed by the Ravens in the off-season, had been in the UFL at the time of his signing, and the Vikings saw the former Green Bay Packer and New York Giant as someone who could provide in the Vikings pass defense in an NFC North division that has some strong passing attacks.

“We are going to pluck one game at a time,” Walker told Drew Forrester on  “The Morning Reaction” earlier this week. “This conference is definitely up for grabs.”

Walker has been active for the Vikings (2-4) last two games-including the Vikings second win of the season over the Dallas Cowboys-and a 28-24 loss on Sunday Night Football against his old team in the Green Bay Packers earlier this week.

Walker most of the night drew assignments on either Greg Jennings or James Jones, and despite the two catching 181 yards between themselves, not all of those yards came off Frank Walker.

And more importantly, as Ravens fans cringed every time a pass came his way-Walker drew no pass interference or holding penalties on the night.

And with his team up 17-14 with the first half ending, Walker actually drew pretty good coverage on Jennings-enough that he was able to tip Aaron Rodgers’ pass as it landed in the hands of former Maryland safety Madieu Williams.

While the score remained the same going into the half, the Vikings eventually fell to the Packers, and their struggles continue as the team still only has two wins on the season-far below expectations-and the drama surrounding quarterback Brett Favre continues.

“I still believe that we have a good ball club over here,” Walker told Forrester. “We just have to hold onto things till they start to fall in order for the most part.”

Walker already feels like a member of the Vikings and said his teammates have embraced him. And he has returned that same attitude to his new teammates, especially to one Randy Moss, who will face his old team in the New England Patriots Sunday after the Patriots traded him to Minnesota a few weeks back.

Walker gave Forrester his own insight as to how to stop a player like Randy Moss.

“Do what everybody else is doing…triple team him,” Walker said. “It’s hard because Randy Moss is one person…but everyone has just been double-teaming him…so we’ll see how that plays out.”

Walker may be getting used to Minnesota, but if it were his choice or decision as to where he would call home, it would have been his preference to stay in a Raven uniform, which he did for two seasons. Despite his new gig, he still keeps in contact with several of his defensive co-workers.

“I stay in contact with Fabian Washington, Coach Chuck Pagano, and me and Ray Ray talk every now and then.”

“I tell them it was fun. I had so much fun with ‘Big Ray’. We still talk and play all the time. I have nothing but good things to say about him, and I had a terrific time with him.”

Tune into WNST and WNST.net as we continue to follow the Ravens of past, present, and future-even though the bye week! WNST-We Never Stop Talking Baltimore Sports!

Be sure to follow us on Twitter, Facebook, and sign up for the *FREE* WNST Morning Newspaper to get the best of Baltimore Sports News delivered right to your email inbox-for free!

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Ranking The 53: A Bye Week Look at Ravens Roster

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Ranking The 53: A Bye Week Look at Ravens Roster

Posted on 27 October 2010 by Glenn Clark

As you’ll remember, I spent most of Training Camp ranking the players on the Baltimore Ravens roster as we tried to determine the Top 53 that would make the final roster.

As we’ve reached the team’s Bye Week, I thought I’d use a similar format (as opposed to a Report Card format) to grade the way the 53 men currently on the team’s roster have played thus far this season. Here’s my list…

53. OL Scott Kooistra-He hasn’t seen the field and he hasn’t been around very long. I’m not sure where else he could be ranked.

52. DT Arthur Jones-The team isn’t dissatisfied with the rookie DT from Syracuse. The issue for Jones is that the Ravens are so deep on the interior of their D-Line that they haven’t been able to get Jones on the field yet. Until then, he won’t find himself any higher on the list.

51. WR Donte’ Stallworth-Stallworth’s broken foot has kept him entirely out of game action thus far, and he only returned to practice last week. The team expects him to be on the field Week 9 against the Miami Dolphins at M&T Bank Stadium. Once he gets out there, we can see where he’d rank on this list.

50. QB Marc Bulger-If Marc Bulger never sees the field and stays somewhere near #50, GM Ozzie Newsome and Head Coach John Harbaugh will be thrilled-as it means nothing will have gone wrong with the team’s quarterback. This is exactly where they want him.

49. DT Lamar Divens-It seems like Lamar Divens will always be the first name listed when the “who could you cut to make room for…” conversations happen. That being said, he hasn’t been cut yet this season, and has even seen the field at times. He’s a really good player-even if it hasn’t quite been evident yet this season.

48. TE Dennis Pitta-His offensive contributions (1 catch, 1 yard) have been next to nothing, but Pitta has been a solid special teams contributor and has only been inactive for one game. No one in Owings Mills is unhappy with their rookie TE from BYU thus far.

47. CB Cary Williams-He’s been more of a Special Teams contributor than he’s been a corner thus far this season-and he hasn’t been perfect. His block in the back penalty against the New England Patriots was certainly frustrating; and Harbaugh made it known. Williams’ size (6’1″) could make him helpful at CB at some point, but the team has to trust him there.

46. OT Oniel Cousins-The team didn’t really hide from the fact that they were disappointed by how long it took Oniel to get back on the field after a preseason concussion. At this point, I don’t think they can hide from the disappointment in his on-field performance; as he’s struggled to get playing time at all.

45. LB Prescott Burgess-He’s remained a steady player on Special Teams, and that’s what the team has wanted from him. It’s easy to be down a player who doesn’t contribute at his natural position, but Burgess has been solid.

44. LS Morgan Cox-Matt Katula’s struggles a season ago were at least somewhat to blame for early season misses from then kicker Steve Hauschka. I think that’s why it wasn’t terribly surprising when ST Coordinator Jerry Rosburg and company decided to go with Cox this season. That being said, Cox has been low on a few FG snaps, and has gotten some help from holder Sam Koch. He needs to be a bit steadier.

43. WR Marcus Smith-Smith is another player whose contributions have been limited to Special Teams thus far, which means his mistakes are often much more memorable than anything he does well. He had a tough day in Foxborough, but he wasn’t the only one.

42. DT Terrence Cody-What a frustrating player Terrence Cody has been this season. There’s moments where it looks like things are clicking for him, but there have been many more moments (in the 4 games where he’s played) where he looked absolutely lost. He didn’t record his first NFL tackle until the Week 7 win over the Buffalo Bills.

41. LB Jason Phillips-Phillips may have earned a couple of extra spots on the list simply thanks to the hit he and Edgar Jones delivered to Denver Broncos WR/KR Demaryius Thomas (see below) in Week 5. Phillips is in a tough spot, as the Ravens are deep at ILB. That being said, he’s made an impact in the opportunities he’s had-which is exactly what the team wanted.

ravensbroncos

40. DE Paul Kruger-I’m placing Paul Kruger in the top 40, but I’ll note that he’s played in only two games thus far this season-two he may have never played in had the team not released Trevor Pryce earlier in the year. His ability to play in the wedge has helped get him on the field, but the kick return hasn’t exactly been great with or without him.

39. LB Brendon Ayanbadejo-Ayanbadejo is another player who I’m squeezing into the Top 40 despite limited work. It looks like Ayanbadejo is going to be able to continue to be an effective player on Special Teams; but his ability to help is pass coverage will determine where he eventually ends up on this list.

38. RB/KR Jalen Parmele-It’s easy to look at the struggles Parmele has had over the last two weeks and be down on his season; but it cannot be dismissed that he’s averaged over 20 yards per return this season. The Ravens have to figure out what’s going wrong with their kick return. My guess is that they’ll find out that the returner isn’t the biggest problem. My second guess is that it won’t mean Parmele will be the returner moving forward anyway.

37. S Ken Hamlin-When the Ravens released Hamlin to make room for Cary Williams earlier in the season, it looked like a confirmation that Hamlin was simply holding Ed Reed’s roster spot. About a week later we found out that wasn’t exactly the case. Hamlin has been effective on Special Teams and has offered something to Greg Mattison’s defense as well-at least until he was left inactive for the first time Week 7. That could be bad news moving forward for Hamlin.

36. WR David Reed-After looking like he might not be able to play Special Teams at all, Reed developed into a very trustworthy gunner for the Ravens over the first few weeks of the season and has taken more snaps as a returner during practice as the season has gone on. That being said, it is interesting to note that Reed was held out of Sunday’s game against the Bills. It had at least SOMETHING to do with a thigh injury, but it will be interesting to see if it was the injury ONLY, or if the injury was just part of it.

35. TE Ed Dickson-Dickson is an interesting case. In the game against the Broncos, his 58 yard 1st quarter catch was eye-opening. His 6’4″ frame clearly makes him an attractive downfield and jump-ball target. But his holding penalty later in the game was an example of exactly why OC Cam Cameron may not fully trust him enough to keep him on the field. My guess is that Dickson is headed towards some level of a breakout performance.

34. LB Tavares Gooden-I get the feeling that I could be showing a little bit too much fairness to Gooden, who was adequate in the two games he played before injuring his shoulder. He probably hasn’t done enough to justify the position, but I’ll keep him here for now. How he bounces back from another setback (and whether or not he can return in Week 9) could have a lot to do with his future in Charm City.

33. CB Josh Wilson-This is really tricky as well. Wilson has by no means been a liability on the field; but he’s done little to prove himself thus far. He’s missed two games (a healthy inactive when the Ravens played the Pittsburgh Steelers at Heinz Field; an ankle injury kept him out of the loss to the Pats at Gillette Stadium), and he hasn’t been perfect as a returner. But when Secondary coach Chuck Pagano need an answer late against the Bills, Wilson stepped up.

32. WR TJ Houshmandzadeh-Truth be told, I’m completely befuddled by TJ Houshmandzadeh’s short tenure in Baltimore. I don’t think he’s been misused, I don’t think Joe Flacco has failed to look for him or get him the ball, I don’t think he’s necessarily been awful in doing his own job (although I absolutely think he’s given half efforts to catch the ball-which was abundantly evident when the Ravens played the Cincinnati Bengals at Paul Brown Stadium). I’m not sure what Houshmandzadeh’s role is moving forward as Stallworth returns. No matter what it is, his catch to beat the Steelers will never be forgotten.

31. OL Tony Moll-Moll has shown himself to be a particularly reliable reserve on the O-Line; he’s been the team’s top reserve this season. In fact, he was on the field at RT when the Ravens put together their final TD drive to get the first win of the Harbaugh era in the Steel City.

tonymoll

30. DT Brandon McKinney-McKinney has quickly become the team’s top reserve along the D-Line, and has played VERY well he’s seen the field this season. He’s probably better as a NT or as an interior tackle in a 4-3 defense, but he’s been outstanding filling multiple roles for DL coach Clarence Brooks.

29. S Haruki Nakamura-Nakamura’s playing time has decreased since the start of the season, but it’s not because he’s performed poorly. Nakamura was both the 3rd safety and the nickel corner in the Ravens’ season opening Monday Night Football win over the New York Jets, but the improved health of the team has limited his role. His play has been effective throughout the season no matter his role.

28. CB Lardarius Webb-After missing the season opener at New Meadowlands Stadium, Webb has been up and down in the six games he’s played. At times he’s been spectacular, including two big pass breakups in the win over the Steelers. At other times he’s been less than spectacular, including the loss to the Bills. Webb stepped in for Zbikowski at PR against the Bills as well, but is unlikely to remain a long term option there.

27. DL Cory Redding-This is somewhat of a tricky judgment as well. Redding has played well, but was supposed to be able to get off the field in obvious passing situations this season to allow for a better rush end option. Sadly, the Ravens don’t have a better rush end option. Redding has just one sack on the season, and that number is unlikely to get much bigger.

26. LB Dannell Ellerbe-If Dannell Ellerbe didn’t have to play in pass coverage, he probably would find himself in the Top 15. Of course, there are a number of LB’s in the NFL who could say the same thing. Ellerbe has been solid but not spectacular, and has not exactly shown himself to be an “answer” for the Ravens at JACK LB.

25. OL Chris Chester-The Ravens would certainly prefer to have Chester coming off the bench and taking snaps at multiple positions; but the back injury to Jared Gaither has forced him into a starting role at RG. Chester hasn’t been perfect, but at no point has he been any sort of liability.

24. LB Jameel McClain-McClain has thus far been the most consistent answer at JACK LB, but he probably hasn’t solidified the position the way the team may have hoped he would. McClain has been solid, but has not been able to make too many plays in the backfield. Opponents have also been surprisingly able to run the ball with effectiveness (none more than Cleveland Browns RB Peyton Hillis), which has to fall on the entire group-including McClain.

23. OL Marshal Yanda-No one has forgotten about Jared Gaither in Baltimore, but Marshal Yanda has solidified the RT position after a few early season struggles. Yanda is still better served playing at the Guard position, but he’s shown his athleticism and ability to both pass block and run block at the RT position.

22. S Ed Reed-There’s little argument for me ranking a player who has seen the field for just one game this high; but the argument exists. Of course, it is a very short argument-based solely on the fact that despite playing in just one game, Reed leads the team in interceptions. He looked like the Ed Reed of old against the Bills, giving the organization every reason to believe he’ll continue to play at a high level.

21. RB Willis McGahee-We might never TRULY know why McGahee didn’t see the field against the Pats, but he’s been very good every other time he’s seen the field. McGahee has been a solid back in both short yardage and goal line situations, is an effective blocker, and can take consecutive handoffs. If for some reason Ray Rice were to get hurt, the Ravens would be fine at RB.

mcgahee

20. C Matt Birk-Birk might not play at a Pro Bowl level necessarily anymore, but he’s still very good. He had some struggles early on this season, but he’s played very well in recent weeks. The Ravens may not have a center of the future on the roster necessarily, but they’re still just fine right now.

19. DT Kelly Gregg-Gregg has been just as steady as always this season; tallying 30 tackles and taking on double teams the same way he’s done since his breakout year in 2002. The only potential knock on Gregg has been a lack of plays made in the backfield.

18. S/PR Tom Zbikowski-The Ravens have been very happy with the play they’ve received from Zbikowski this season-especially while Reed missed the first six weeks of the season. Fans haven’t been thrilled with Zbikowski as punt returner-but since inexplicably running the ball backwards in East Rutherford, he’s been solid in that role as well. Zbikowski missed Game 7 with a bruised heel, but isn’t expected to be out for an extended period of time.

17. S Dawan Landry-I feel like we keep getting back to the Buffalo game with Ravens defenders-but that tends to be what happens when a team gives up 34 points at home. Landry had been very solid until that game however, and has 52 tackles through seven games this season.

16. CB Chris Carr-The best thing to happen to the Ravens in the wake of the Domonique Foxworth injury has been the play of Carr. Carr has been particularly steady starting opposite Fabian Washington. The team would probably like to see him improve a bit on the one interception and five pass deflections he’s posted thus far this season.

15. LB Jarret Johnson-The only disappointment with Johnson this season has been his lack of involvement in the pass rush. He’s tallied just half a sack thus far to go with 28 tackles. He’s been good, he’s just not quite played to the level he played at a season ago when he compiled six sacks.

14. K Billy Cundiff-The name Shayne Graham has LONG been forgotten at 1 Winning Drive. Cundiff has been incredible on kickoffs, tallying 18 touchbacks this season. He had entered the season with just 11 touchbacks for his CAREER. Cundiff is also 10/12 on field goal attempts; with one of the two misses coming in the goofy open end of the stadium at Heinz Field. There really isn’t much more that can be said about Cundiff, he’s been tremendous this season.

13. P Sam Koch-While I’m at it, Koch has been outstanding this season as well. He’s pinned punts inside the 20 yard line 19 times already this season. Some of his yardage numbers are a bit off this season, as the Ravens have had better field position in general this season. Oakland Raiders P Shane Lechler is still probably having a better season; but Koch has to at least be in consideration for a trip to Hawaii.

12. OT Michael Oher-Oher won’t want to hear the name Jermaine Cunningham any time soon, but otherwise he’s avoided a sophomore slump. Oher has answered almost all questions about his ability to play the LT position, even if he isn’t quite Jonathan Ogden just yet. He LOOKS like he’s offsides more than he actually IS offsides, with the only exception being the Patriots game.

11. LB Terrell Suggs-There’s a misconception that T-Sizzle is having a bad season. That’s simply not true. Suggs has played very well at times, and has clearly developed into a very complete all-around LB. The problem is-the Ravens don’t necessarily need an improved all-around LB on the outside. They REALLY need a pass rushing monster, and Suggs (3.5 sacks) just isn’t that guy right now, nor may he ever be again.

suggs

10. G Ben Grubbs-Grubbs has been the team’s most consistent Offensive Lineman thus far this season, and is setting himself up nicely for a potential Pro Bowl trip. As the team’s longest tenured O-Lineman, Grubbs has been significantly important for the team in maintaining continuity in a season where they have been forced to move pieces around.

9. TE Todd Heap-The Ravens thought that drafting two tight ends would help keep Heap fresh by getting him off the field for a handful of snaps every game. They also thought that signing multiple receivers in the offseason would help free up space on the field for Joe Flacco to find Heap. They’ve been right about both things. Heap has still taken a beating this season (thanks in part to Patriots safety Brandon Meriweather), but he’s on pace to have at least his best offensive season since 2006.

8. CB Fabian Washington-Don’t start cursing at your computer screen just yet. I am well aware that Lee Evans treated Washington like Sidney Rice would Frank Walker in the Ravens’ loss to the Bills. However, in the six games before that-Washington was a significant part of why the Ravens had one of the top pass defenses in the NFL (now ranked 8th for the record). Washington’s future standing on this list will of course have everything to do with how he bounces back from what was a dreadful Week 7 performance.

7. WR Derrick Mason-Remember him? Mason might not be on pace for a 1,000 yard season; but when they’ve needed him-he’s been ready to make plays. He was the team’s leading receiver in two very tough road games (at Pittsburgh and at New England), and he caught the only touchdown of the game in the Ravens’ Week 2 loss in the Queen City. Mason is just as reliable as always, and still catches the football…with the exception of the handful of times the team has decided for some goofy reason to try to throw jump balls in the direction of his 5’10″ frame.

6. RB Ray Rice-Fantasy football owners may not be quite as happy with Ray Rice’s performance as I am; but he’s been very good this season. He’s on pace to finish the season with over 1,400 yards of total offense; and should be able to remain fresh the more the Ravens work McGahee into the offense. Rice was expected to be a Top 3 caliber player on this list, but the lack of a breakaway burst appears to be hurting him right now. If that re-appears, he might show himself to be the type of MVP candidate he was a season ago.

5. LB Ray Lewis-Let me get this out of the way. Ray Lewis has not played like the future Hall of Fame LB he is in every game this season. He looked downright human against the Browns. That being said, the season opener on MNF was a vintage performance from one of the greatest defenders in league history, and Lewis locked up the Steelers game with a late interception of Charlie Batch. He tallied 15 tackles in the win over the Bills as well. San Francisco 49ers LB Patrick Willis may be the unquestionable greatest LB in the game today, but Ray Lewis has not fallen terribly far behind.

4. FB Le’Ron McClain-This one may catch a few folks off guard, as the personal foul penalty in Foxborough and the lack of carries probably stick out in the minds of most fans more than anything else, but Le’Ron McClain is playing as well at his position as almost anyone else on the Ravens roster this season. RB Coach Wilbert Montgomery graded McClain’s performance against the Browns as the best by a Ravens player this season, and Offensive Coordinator Cam Cameron told me that in terms of the total package-blocking, rushing and pass catching-McClain was absolutely the best fullback in not only the AFC-but the entire NFL.

3. QB Joe Flacco-If it weren’t for the dud in Cincy, Flacco may be #1 on the list. Unfortunately, the game in Cincy still counts. Flacco has been outstanding for the better part of the season-despite strange criticism from fans and a handful of analysts alike. He’s on pace for another season with 3,000+ yards and 20+ touchdowns and has limited his turnovers in games BESIDES Cincinnati. Flacco still needs to figure out that Ray Rice is just 5’7″; which has to be the most frustrating part of his game at this point.

2. WR Anquan Boldin-Anquan Boldin has been everything the Ravens had hoped he would be and more. He’s been a reliable target, he’s shown the type of toughness that originally made him a star with the Arizona Cardinals, and at times (the Browns game sticks out) he’s even added an explosive level to his game. He unfortunately doesn’t get to matchup against Eric Wright every week; but he’s on pace for 1,000+ yards and double digit TD’s no matter who he’s up against. Some fans in Baltimore who weren’t familiar with his game thought the Ravens were getting Larry Fitzgerald; but for those who knew what type of player Boldin was-he’s been ABSOLUTELY as good as advertised if not better.

1. DT Haloti Ngata-There is simply no better player on this football team right now than Haloti Ngata. There’s almost no argument any longer about who the best interior D-Lineman is in the NFL either. The only unfortunate part about the season for Ngata has been the fact that the lack of a rush end has forced the Ravens to send Ngata outside and hope he could get to the quarterback. He’s capable, but it’s by no means where he is best used. When he does get in the backfield, there’s no quarterback (or other player at any position) that’s happy to see him.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ttqIWOqvGSM[/youtube]

-G

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Truth Be Told, I Had Already Written Column About Loss

Posted on 03 October 2010 by Glenn Clark

PITTSBURGH, Pa. — My headline was going to read “Ravens In Real Hole After Another Crushing Loss in Pittsburgh.”

The first line of the column was “It wasn’t pretty. There’s no ‘but’ coming here. It just wasn’t pretty.”

The good news is that no one will ever have to know how the rest of the column went.

The Baltimore Ravens (3-1) re-wrote their recent history thanks to a 17-14 victory over the Pittsburgh Steelers (3-1) Sunday at Heinz Field. While the teams are tied atop the standings in the AFC North, the Ravens now get a leg up in the race by virtue of a head-to-head tiebreaker.

The Ravens were in REAL danger of falling two games AND a tiebreaker behind their rivals from the Steel City; especially crushing considering the Steelers played the game without starting QB Ben Roethlisberger.

But in just two minutes, all of that changed.

I had written my postgame column ahead of time because everything about the recent history of the Baltimore Ravens suggested that the game was over. When QB Joe Flacco’s fade pass to WR Anquan Boldin sailed out of bounds with just more than 2:30 to play in the game, it appeared as though the team was doomed to fall to 0-4 in Western Pennsylvania since Head Coach John Harbaugh joined the team.

In two and half minutes, it was easy to believe that a stupid penalty (like Frank Walker a season ago, LB Jarret Johnson on Monday Night Football in 2008 or Daren Stone in the 2009 AFC Championship Game), a costly turnover (like the pick six Steelers safety Troy Polamalu brought home in that same AFC title contest) or a poor coaching decision (like the decision to NOT attempt a short field goal on 4th and goal from the three was shaping up to look like) would cost this team as it had so many times before.

Of course we know it didn’t. Although, when a flag came out on a late Daniel Sepulveda punt; I don’t think I was the only Charm City resident that chuckled at least a bit thinking “that’s going to be how they lose this time?” Clearly it wasn’t, as the call was a hold on the punting team; but sometimes familiar feelings are hard to shake.

Of course, it might now be time that we learn how to shake them.

In marching his team downfield in the final 1:08 and finding WR TJ Houshmandzadeh for what would end up being the game winning touchdown, Flacco re-wrote not only his own history; but the entire recent history of the Baltimore Ravens and perhaps the AFC North.

The Ravens are a team that can do this type of thing now.

“I think those are the drives-if you go back and look at the (Joe) Montana’s, the (John) Elway’s, we can always remember those drives” said future Hall of Fame LB Ray Lewis. “For Joe to do that on that defense-the throws he made, the decisions he made, that’s what makes a great quarterback.”

He might not be “great” yet, but if he’s going to get there, this is the type of step he had to take.

It wasn’t just Joe Flacco however. The offensive line that has been fairly criticized at times this season held firm in the most important moments. Houshmandzadeh and Boldin both made a pair of catches on the final drive. RB Ray Rice helped in blocking. They did it all without having a single timeout.

Before that, the Ravens defense remained calm as the Steelers took the ball over. They didn’t allow the Steelers to pick up what would have been a game-clinching first down. The punt return unit pressured Sepulveda’s kick, adding ten yards of field position after Tom Zbikowski made a critical fair catch.

As Harbaugh said after the game, the Ravens “did it together.”

And together, they did what was necessary to alter the opinion of every fan and analyst that has taken the opportunity to point out their faults.

No one will ever again be able to say that Flacco hadn’t lead his team from behind to win in the final two minutes of a game.

No one will ever again be able to say that Harbaugh, Flacco, Rice, OT Michael Oher and others had never won in Pittsburgh.

I know first hand. I wrote the column that included all of those things.

Never again.

-G

Hear from Harbaugh, Flacco, Houshmandzadeh, Lewis, Rice, Johnson, DT Haloti Ngata, FB Le’Ron McClain, RB Willis McGahee, LB Terrell Suggs & WR Derrick Mason NOW in the BuyAToyota.com Audio Vault here at WNST.net.

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A Batch of Facts about how the Ravens will beat Pittsburgh on Sunday

Posted on 30 September 2010 by Drew Forrester

It should be this easy on Sunday in Pittsburgh:  If you’re going to bet on someone, who’s it going to be:  Ray Lewis?  Or Charlie Batch? 

Right.  You’d bet on Ray, the Hall of Famer, over Charlie, the Hall of Lucky to Have a Job.

Unfortunately, it’s not that easy.

As the Ravens have seen time and time again in Pittsburgh, you have to put together 60 minutes of football and you need all of your elements – offense, defense, special teams – clicking on all cylinders in order to have a chance to win. 

I think the Ravens are winning on Sunday.  Mostly, I think they’re winning because I don’t think they’re going to lose to Charlie Batch.  I’m fairly certain I’d be picking Pittsburgh to win if Big Ben were in their lineup.  But he’s not.  And I just can’t see Batch doing enough to beat the Ravens.

If the Ravens lose to Charlie Batch, they should walk home. 

I’m not going to go as far as calling Batch “semi-pro” the way Mike Preston of The Sun categorized the Browns as “semi-pro” last week…yeah, that same Browns team that took the Ravens to the final snap on Sunday.  But I don’t think Batch is good enough – or will be, over 60 minutes – to beat Baltimore. 

That said, I can also look back in the Ravens history under John Harbaugh and say, for sure, that Baltimore needs to play much better than they did in the Steel City in ’08 and ’09 in order to win there on Sunday.

First off, the most critical element of Sunday’s game from an offensive standpoint is for the Ravens to do three things:

A. Do not turn the ball over to Pittsburgh.  It isn’t about giving the Steelers offense the ball.  As the Ravens saw in the Jets game a few weeks back, if you turn it over to the other team and their offense stinks, you haven’t really done a whole lot of damage.  Here’s the problem in Pittsburgh.  When the Ravens have turned the ball over to Pittsburgh, they’ve given up points.  Go back to the 2008 Monday nighter when Joe Flacco made his Heinz Field debut and engineered the Ravens to a 13-3 halftime lead.  Early in the 3rd quarter, Flacco was sacked, lost the ball, and the Steelers rumbled into the end zone to begin their comeback.  Fast forward to the AFC title game later that season.  I won’t even mention the Polamalu pick at the end of the game that sealed the Steelers win because it makes my stomach turn.  

You just can’t turn the ball over to those guys in Pittsburgh because they make you pay for it.

B.  No matter how healthy Ray Rice is, the Ravens MUST use Le’Ron McClain as a tailback throughout Sunday’s game.  Rice is a great back, but he doesn’t punish anyone.  McClain is precisely the guy to use against Pittsburgh.  It’s not about how many yards he gets, it’s about how hard he runs and how many defensive players he can bruise along the way.  Using McClain early on Sunday might just be the tonic the Ravens need.  If he can run over a few Black and Gold defensive players, that could soften them up for the likes of Rice and Willis McGahee. 

C.  Flacco MUST get off to a good start in the first half.  He threw a pick in the first quarter of last December’s 23-20 heartbreaker at Heinz Field.  In fact, the one obvious achilles heel for Joe as a professional has been his inability to get off to a good start on the road.  Three regular season games stand out in 2009 — Joe was shockingly ineffective in the first half of three eventual road losses: at New England (losing 17-7 at half) at Minnesota (losing 14-3) and at Green Bay (losing 17-0).  Even this season, Joe’s performance in the first half of the games at New York and Cincinnati wasn’t very good.  It’s the one part of his game that still puzzles the staff and coaches in Owings Mills.  Why can’t Joe play well in the first half of road games?  This Sunday in Pittsburgh, his first half performance will once again be worth watching.  And for the Ravens to win, he’ll need to protect the ball AND make the throws necessary to keep the Steelers defense honest. 

Defensively, I expect the Ravens to pack 8 or 9 guys in the box and dare Charlie Batch and his receiving corps to beat them.  The only receiver who is a downfield threat – Mike Wallace – needs to be monitored, obviously, but Fabian Washington is healthy and certainly capable of going toe-to-toe with Wallace.  Hines Ward has always been a thorn in the Ravens’ side, but he’s not going to catch 10 balls for 110 yards and 3 TD’s.  That’s just not his style.  Pittsburgh has always built their offense on running the ball, even with Roethlisberger at quarterback, and Sunday won’t be any different.  If they run for 125 yards as a team on Sunday, they’ll probably beat the Ravens.  And I think the Ravens know that.  And I assume Baltimore will pack the box and say “you’re not running on us…have Batch beat us.” 

Special teams always seems to play a key role in Pittsburgh for some weird reason.  Go back to that aforementioned Monday night loss in 2008.  Sam Koch shanked a punt in the 3rd quarter (followed by a penalty from Jarrett Johnson) that gave the Steelers prime field position as they rebounded from a 13-3 intermission deficit.  True, that’s very un-Koch-like, but he can’t have one of those “oops moments” at Heinz Field this Sunday.  Two of Baltimore’s last three visits have been decided by a field goal — one of those coming in overtime.  Their field goal kicker – Jeff Reed – has made a living out of kicking well in a stadium that isn’t always kind to kickers.  The game this Sunday will be decided by LESS than 3 points, I believe.  That means Billy Cundiff will play a critical role. 

The final bullet-point for this Sunday’s game in Pittsburgh can go under the category of “play smart”.  You can’t win a game in that place if you make dumb mistakes, take ill-timed penalties and do stupid things at the worst time.  That means, among other things, you can’t hit a guy out of bounds after your punter shanks the ball (Johnson, 2008), you can’t hit a guy out of bounds after a kick-off (Darren Stone, 2009 AFC title game), you can’t get flagged for pass interference when the Steelers are on their own 5-yard line (Frank Walker, 2009), you can’t drop a pass when you’re wide open in the end zone with 5 minutes left in the game (Derrick Mason, 2010) and you can’t waste time-outs early in the 3rd quarter the way the Ravens occasionally have in the John Harbaugh era. 

To beat the Steelers, with or without Roethlisberger at the helm, you have to play at the highest level, especially in Pittsburgh where the football gods always seem to be dressed in Black and Gold.

I’m not changing my tune:  I can’t see the Ravens losing to Charlie Batch on Sunday.  If that happens, it will tell us much more about Baltimore’s team than Pittsburgh’s team.

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Greatest Ravens by jersey number (41-60)

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Greatest Ravens by jersey number (41-60)

Posted on 27 August 2010 by Luke Jones

With Sports Illustrated releasing its list of all-time best NFL players by jersey number this week, I decided to look back at the 15-year history of the Baltimore Ravens to construct a list of the greatest players for Nos. 1-99.

Part 1 and Part 2 covered jersey numbers 1 through 40 if you missed them.

Part 3 (41-60) presents the most obvious choice on the list—who was also chosen as the greatest player to wear his number in the history of the National Football League—as well as two of the most obscure numbers in team history.

41 Frank Walker (2008-09)

He was never popular among fans due to his propensity for drawing penalty flags, but Walker was not as bad as some made him out to be. Injuries often forced the backup into starter duty where his weaknesses were exposed.

His only competition for this number was Ralph Staten, a once-promising safety who was jettisoned from the team due to character issues in the spring of 1999. Regardless of where you stand with Walker, he is a pretty clear choice and has at least one big fan on YouTube.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PQ8A0kF5Gz0[/youtube]

Knowing Walker, it would not be a complete shock to find out he made this video himself.

42 Anthony Mitchell (2000-02)

I went back and forth between Mitchell and fullback Lorenzo Neal, but Mitchell’s three seasons in Baltimore allowed him to grab the honor. Mitchell spent his first two seasons with the Ravens as a special teams contributor before his workload in the secondary increased in 2002, starting six games and grabbing three interceptions.

Of course, the mere mention of Mitchell makes Baltimore think about a certain blocked field goal return in Nashville (check the 3:30 mark).

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aIiiXqnQ44k[/youtube]

43 Haruki Nakamura (2008-present)

Despite a promising future, Nakamura has done little to distinguish himself other than contributing on special teams in his first two seasons. However, it tops the work of other defensive backs like Vashone Adams and Anthony Poindexter.

44 Jason Brookins (2000-01)

The big tailback rushed for 551 yards in 2001, beating out the likes of Tony Vinson and Willie Gaston. Brookins is most remembered for leaving the Packers camp a year later after the staff asked him for his playbook, the traditional sign that a player is being cut. It turns out the coaching staff only wanted to add some new plays and by the time Brookins received the message, Green Bay coach Mike Sherman decided to cut the running back.

And the Baltimore coaching staff questioned his decision-making and intelligence while with the Ravens. Imagine that.

45 Corey Harris (1998-2001)

Harris

Harris spent most of his Ravens career as a backup and solid return man, but stepped up in a big way when safety Kim Herring went down with a sprained ankle in the 2000 playoffs. He started against Tennessee and Oakland and started all 16 at strong safety the following season.

46 B.J. Ward (2005)

The Florida State safety played in 15 games in 2005, making 11 tackles and forcing a fumble. Why is he the pick at No. 46? There is no record of any other player wearing the number in the regular season for the Ravens.

47 Will Demps (2002-2005)

The undrafted rookie was the surprise of training camp in 2002, not only winning a roster spot but becoming a starting safety next to Ed Reed for four seasons. Demps returned an interception for a touchdown in the Ravens’ only playoff game during his time in Baltimore, a 20-17 loss to the Titans in January 2004.

48 Frank Hartley (1996)

If linebacker Edgar Jones — who had previously worn Nos. 91 and 84 before switching to 48 this offseason — makes the 53-man roster this season, he immediately grabs the distinction. Until then, the tight end Hartley holds this spot despite never making a catch in eight games in 1996.

Don’t worry, I didn’t remember him either.

49 Chad Williams (2002-05)

Chad Williams

Williams is the easy choice after playing four seasons in Baltimore, registering eight interceptions and scoring three touchdowns as a backup safety.

50 Antwan Barnes (2007-present)

Though Dunbar graduate Tommy Polley and reserve linebacker Brad Jackson earn strong consideration, Barnes wins the honor with five career sacks and strong special teams play over his first three seasons with the Ravens. Despite a high ceiling, Barnes has yet to provide a consist impact as a pass rusher off the edge, something he hopes to change this season.

51 Cornell Brown (1997-2000, 2002-04)

Some will argue special teams standout Brendon Ayanbadejo for this spot, but Cornell Brown is the obvious choice despite wearing No. 90 in his second stint with the Ravens. Brown made 25 starts and was very good against the run, ofter sharing time with Peter Boulware when the Pro Bowl linebacker was ailing.

52 Ray Lewis (1996-present)

Never mind that Lewis was selected by SI.com as the best ever to wear the jersey number in the NFL. When you think of the Baltimore Ravens, No. 52 is the image that overwhelmingly comes to mind.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XfKuYYl1bRI&feature=fvst[/youtube]

One of the greatest defensive players ever.

53 Jameel McClain (2008-present)

Tyrell Peters, T.J. Slaughter, and the injury-cursed Dan Cody also wore the number, but McClain has done just enough in special teams and passing downs to grab the distinction. His stature can rise even higher if he earns the starting job at inside linebacker this season.

54 Roderick Green (2004-05)

Green never realized his full potential as a Raven, but he is a marginally-better choice than Tyrus McCloud, Shannon Taylor, or current linebacker Prescott Burgess for No. 54.

55 Terrell Suggs (2003-present)

Many feel Suggs has never lived up the hype or the record-setting contract inked in 2009, but he is one of the most complete outside linebackers in the league when healthy and motivated. His two-sack performance against the Steelers in the AFC Championship two seasons ago was borderline heroic after sustaining a shoulder injury against the Titans a week earlier.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R26q5IudxRc[/youtube]

More sentimental fans will argue for Jamie Sharper — who would be a unanimous choice for any linebacker number other than 55, 52, or 58 — but Suggs has had the superior career.

56 Ed Hartwell (2001-04)

Hartwell put his name on the Baltimore linebacker map when he led the team in tackles in 2002 after Ray Lewis was sidelined with a shoulder injury. A good linebacker in his own right, Hartwell was overshadowed in his last two seasons with the Ravens, a palpable frustration he even voiced before departing for Atlanta in 2005.

57 Bart Scott (2002-08)

Just as popular with the media as he was with the fans, Scott was an undrafted linebacker who made himself into a Pro Bowl force during his seven seasons with the Ravens. His “hot sauce” tackle of Reggie Bush gained notoriety, but the linebacker will always be remembered for a hit he laid on a certain Pittsburgh quarterback.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_ZoDDYkoKi4[/youtube]

The number is currently reserved in honor of the heroic O.J. Brigance — who is certainly deserving as he continues to fight ALS — but Brigance would be the first to tell you Scott is the greatest Raven to don the No. 57.

58 Peter Boulware (1997-2005)

Boulware

The franchise’s all-time sack leader dealt with knee and shoulder injuries during his career, but he was a force as a pass rusher and made himself into an every-down linebacker after playing defensive end at Florida State. Boulware earned four trips to the Pro Bowl, won the 1997 Defensive Rookie of the Year, and is a member of the Ravens Ring of Honor.

59 Dannell Ellerbe (2009-present)

Ellerbe

Prior to the 2009 season, long snapper Joe Maese (2001-04) was the clear-cut selection here, but the undrafted Ellerbe made the 53-man roster and eventually wrestled away the starting inside linebacker spot from Tavares Gooden in the final month of his rookie season. Ellerbe’s interception against Oakland in Week 17 helped preserve a 21-13 win and a postseason berth for the 9-7 Ravens.

60 Jason Brown (2005-08)

Super Bowl-winning center Jeff Mitchell was blossoming into a Pro Bowl-caliber player before signing with the Carolina Panthers in 2001, allowing Jason Brown to seize recognition for this number. Drafted in the fourth round in 2005, Brown began his NFL career at left guard before moving to his college position of center in 2008. It earned him a huge payday with the St. Louis Rams the following offseason, as the Ravens could not afford to keep Brown.

Next up: For numbers 61-80, we will dive into the trenches with the offensive line, with a few obvious choices and several integers where we need to look long and hard to find a representative.

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Thursday Morning’s Crabs and Beer

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Thursday Morning’s Crabs and Beer

Posted on 12 August 2010 by Glenn Clark

Happy Thursday!

It’s a Happy Thursday for me because days like today are the closest I’m going to feel to having a new child myself…at least that I know of. Today there was a new child born in the Chick-Fil-A family; which I count like my own family. Today’s new birth was in Hunt Valley (the mother of “The Artist Formerly Known as The Luckiest Dang Gal on the Face of the Planet” lives there-I wonder if I’m still welcome to visit?).

While Chick-Fil-A Nottingham Square remains my own personal location, I’m always happy to see an addition to the family. I was even HAPPIER when WNST’s new “Quality Control Director” Chris Cortezi came strolling through the front door at 1550 Hart Rd. with this gift, sent by our HERO Susan from Towson…

minis

Let’s see what everyone has to say…

1. BaltimoreRavens.com’s Mike Duffy says Donte’ Stallworth, Mark Clayton, Tom Zbikowski in mix to be punt returner

Punt return is a strange area this season. Chris Carr was the incumbent and did a decent job last season. Fans were disappointed with the number of times he signaled for a fair catch, but John Harbaugh and Jerry Rosburg were happy to know that he wouldn’t turn the ball over when it was sent to him.

The trouble is-the team now needs Carr to be a starter in the secondary; and they want to keep his focus there. Thus, the punt return job is available for one of these other guys to win. Donte’ Stallworth certainly has the speed to do it and Tom Zbikowski has admirably handled the duties in the past.

Clayton is a particularly interesting character in this cast. His role in the wide receiving corps is a bit diminished, but he still has plenty of speed and is a threat to make plays. That combination could make him a real impact guy in such a position.

2. National Football Post’s Aaron Wilson says Ravens remain in talks with Frank Walker, but he tried out with Miami Dolphins

I know Ravens fans aren’t thrilled with the idea of Frank Walker returning to Charm City, but he’s a legitimate option to be a “plug and play” guy with this team; and they will likely need at least ONE more corner with Cary Williams out for the first two games of the season-assuming Cary makes the roster.

Of course, there are plenty of other options for the team to consider besides Frank Walker. For example, Alessandra Ambrosio would be a tremendous option (Thanks Guyism!)…

alessandra

3. Fanhouse’s Milton Kent says Ravens preseason games to air in Washington, Harrisburg

And in a story that somehow went unnoticed, WBAL announced that the “Rave TV” weekly programming will air on WBAL Plus (I believe that’s 11.2 on your digital cable); including the “John Harbaugh Show.”

Make your appointments accordingly.

With no offense to the Ravens, WBAL, WBAL Plus, Rave TV, the John Harbaugh Show or people who watch 11.2 looking for an Oprah Winfrey rerun; I think this is a disappointing solution.

Plus, do they realize what they’re up against at 7:30pm? WNUV54 has “Family Guy”, WMAR2 has “Wheel of Fortune” and WUTB 24 has “The Office”! How am I supposed to choose “Purple Passion” ahead of THIS?!?!?

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q-wf2pP7T0Y[/youtube]

4. WNST.net’s Luke Jones says Joe Flacco-Anquan Boldin TD on first drive tonight could send M&T Bank Stadium crowd into frenzy

And a few things before we move on from the Ravens…

-The Ravens of course open exhibition season tonight with a showdown against the Carolina Panthers at “The Bank.” The game can be seen live on ESPN-and will be relayed on WJZ13. Jared Gaither and Chris Carr are definitely expected to be out (besides all of the PUP guys); no definitive word on Fabian Washington’s status just yet. Either way, expect to see a lot of Chris Hawkins and Doug Dutch tonight-but don’t forget that the beer will still be the same price.

-Suzy Kolber and the Monday Night Football crew (Mike Tirico, Jon Gruden, Ron Jaworski, and Michelle Tafoya) are working the game for ESPN tonight. She joined Drew Forrester for a GREAT chat this morning on “The Morning Reaction” on AM1570 WNST; make sure you head over to the BuyAToyota.com Audio Vault today to check it out. Some other things you can hear in the Audio Vault include…

  • Eugene Robinson (Panthers Color Analyst, former Pro Bowl Defensive Back); who previewed tonight’s showdown with Drew
  • Orlando Alzugaray (WQAM Miami)-who previewed the Dolphins with Drew as we continue to go around the AFC East and look at the Ravens’ 2010 schedule
  • Our weekly “Cheap Shots from the Bleachers”, as I took to task the USTA and the lack of American men in the Top 10 in the World Tennis rankings; and Drew took Neal S from “The Loss Column” to task for calling out O’s fans

There’s plenty more in there from Rex Snider’s Show Wednesday and with Thyrl Nelson on “The Mobtown Sports Beat”, so make sure you go check it out.

Your day? Planned. I’ll accept tips.

5. The AP says Brad Bergesen threw complete game two hitter to lift Orioles past Indians at Progressive Field

I just don’t know what to make of any of it.

As I’ve said before, it is impossible look at this stretch of 9 games and say “okay, it took them a long time-but they’ve finally developed into the type of team we thought they would be.”

Instead, we’re forced to wonder what any of it means. The danger is that Brad Bergesen isn’t just the pitcher who threw a gem in Cleveland last night, he’s a guy who has gone 4-9 this season with a 5.84 ERA. Do you keep a rotation spot in stone for a guy like that next season?

Brian Roberts added another home run last night. I like the Birds more when Brian Roberts is playing. Of course, everyone does.

6. The AP/WNST.net offer numerical evidence of another win

Unbelievably, you actually DO want to look at these numbers. Again. Brad Bergesen’s line enough is enjoyable.

But AFTER you look at the numbers, look at this picture of Christina Hendricks from whatever the hell that show is that she’s on that everyone likes so bad. Mad Men? True Blood? Tosh.0? Hell if I know. (Thanks Busted Coverage!)

hendricks

7. MLB.com’s Brittany Ghiroli says Buck Showalter will allow Josh Bell to keep playing during slump

And with Miguel Tejada gone, there aren’t a whole lot of other options.

The only concern here is that somehow Bell’s confidence can be hurt between now and the end of the regular season; but the opposing argument would be that he’s a Major League Baseball player-and he just needs to suck it up.

I don’t think the team should be working under the assumption that Bell is ABSOLUTELY the Opening Day 3B next year. Mostly because I would like to see the team go out and get a real legitimate 3B in the offseason.

I’d also like a million dollars. But only the Barenaked Ladies got that wish.

8. LA Times’ Dylan Hernandez says former Oriole Jay Gibbons keeping paycheck he’s getting from Los Angeles Dodgers

Some might call Gibbons a hypocrite for that; but I wouldn’t be amongst them. The dude probably needs the paycheck at this point.

By the way, Jay Gibbons will join Rex Snider this afternoon at 3:15 on AM1570 WNST. My guess is that the words “Mitchell Report” will be uttered at some point.

9. The Sun’s Dean Jones Jr. says Nolan Reimold had two hits for Norfolk Tides in loss to Indianapolis Indians on farm

And before we move on from the O’s, a couple of things.

-The O’s wrap up a 3 game set with the Tribe tonight before heading to Tampa Bay this weekend to face the Rays. Kevin Millwood faces Jeanmar Gomez, first pitch is at 7:05pm and the game can be seen on MASN.

-Lou Montanez began a rehab assignment with the Bowie Baysox last night, Jim Johnson is expected to begin his tonight. I support the Bowie Baysox myself and think you should as well.

10. D1scourse’s Patrick Stevens says Maryland TE Lansford Watson limited with knee swelling

In that case, the Terrapins may be in need of some help at TE. May I suggest Ralph Friedgen and the Terps consider Bar Rafaeli??? (Thanks Don Chavez!)

barr

And finally, I leave you with this.

NEW JIMMY EAT WORLD! NEW JIMMY EAT WORLD! OMFG NEW JIMMY EAT WORLD!!!

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yWOsyA3To3o[/youtube]

Flexing my mic muscles since 1983…

-G

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Locked out from Westminster: Looking to Thursday night

Posted on 11 August 2010 by Luke Jones

On a slow news day with the Ravens closing their walkthrough to the public and media today, we now wait for the preseason opener against the Carolina Panthers on Thursday night.

After all of the hype and expectations surrounding the Ravens throughout the offseason, we’ll finally get a chance to see this team in live-game action, albeit in a cameo appearance for most starters. As with any preseason game, escaping without injury is paramount, especially at the offensive tackle and cornerback positions.

Preseason games are about evaluating each individual play and series, with the end result of a win or loss completely irrelevant in most cases. Even so, it’s difficult not to be excited about the opportunity to see Anquan Boldin bring his combatant style to the Baltimore offense for the first time.

As I discussed with Thyrl Nelson on AM 1570 WNST earlier today, there hasn’t been a more-anticipated preseason opener in Baltimore since Steve McNair’s debut against the New York Giants in August 2006. McNair marched the Ravens 80 yards in 12 plays, finishing the drive with a 6-yard touchdown run as the M&T Bank Stadium crowd instantly adopted the former Tennessee Titan rival as its own.

Though it would be McNair’s only series of the evening, it signaled a reversal in the Ravens’ fortunes at quarterback—for one season at least—and set an early tone for what would be the best regular season (13-3) in franchise history.

And oh yeah, the Giants ended up winning the game, 17-16.

Given the enormous expectations this season, a Joe Flacco touchdown toss to Boldin on the opening drive would top the McNair preseason moment. Whatever happens after that on Thursday night—aside from a major injury—would be irrelevant.

- All eyes will be glued to the secondary as the Ravens will be fielding a patchwork unit of cornerbacks against the Panters. With Chris Carr (hamstring) likely out, Fabian Washington (knee) a game-time decision, and Lardarius Webb (knee) still on the Physically Unable to Perform list, veteran Travis Fisher and Cary Williams could be the starting cornerbacks, an uncomfortable proposition even for the first preseason game.

Williams and rookie Prince Miller will receive a large number of reps, giving the coaching staff ample opportunity to evaluate the two. Williams has shown promise during camp, but a two-game suspension for violating the NFL’s personal conduct policy clouds his hopes for cracking the 53-man roster.

Miller matched up effectively against the best the SEC had to offer during his collegiate career at Georgia, but his tiny stature—only 5-foot-8—is difficult to overlook as Ravens receivers have consistently beaten him in jump-ball situations. The pint-sized defensive back possesses skill in the return game, a factor working in his favor.

- The Ravens continue to explore external options at the cornerback position, one of them being Frank Walker. The much-maligned veteran remains a free agent but continues to have discussions about a potential return.

However, the Dolphins are interested in the 29-year-old Walker, who spent the last two seasons with the Ravens. He is scheduled to meet with the Dolphins and potentially sign an agreement to play in Miami.

“We have a meeting and depending how that goes, we will see if I want to sign there or not,” Walker said in a text message on Wednesday.

Most Baltimore fans will firmly stand against a potential Walker return, but I still think he’s the best option among the veteran defensive backs flapping in the wind of the free agent wire right now. Then again, I haven’t forgotten about the little yellow flags flying through the air, either.

- Injured cornerback Domonique Foxworth underwent surgery to repair the torn ACL in his right knee on Tuesday.

The surgery was performed by renowned surgeon Dr. James Andrews.

“My knee is killin me,” Foxworth said on Twitter. “And almost everytime I eat a lil bit and take pain meds I throw-up.”

Foxworth is a highly-respected figure in the Ravens locker room and faces a long recovery, but he should be 100 percent recovered in time for the start of the 2011 OTA schedule.

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Wednesday Morning’s Crabs and Beer

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Wednesday Morning’s Crabs and Beer

Posted on 11 August 2010 by Glenn Clark

Happy Wednesday!

It’s a Happy Wednesday for me because myself, the lovely “Boomer Sooner”, “The Luckiest Dang Roommate on the Face of the Planet” and “The Luckiest Dang Roommate’s Girlfriend on the Face of the Planet” all wandered up to Camden, New Jersey (which might be the single WORST place on the face of the planet) to check out the great Jimmy Buffett.

I would sit here and sing the praises of Jimmy Buffett (and/or the multiple Coronas we downed beforehand), but you already know just how great he is. Instead, I’ll let you know that my personal favorite Jimmy Buffett live song is “Southern Cross”…

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i7Ah-Ch8NQ4[/youtube]

And yes, you ARE allowed to pick a cover as your favorite song to see live. Of course, now that I found out that it is ALSO Boomer Sooner’s favorite song; I think I’m going to have to consider another. I mean, this is still relatively new for me. I can’t let her think that I respect/value her opinion, can I? She’s a girl!

Let’s see what everyone has to say…

1. The AP says Birds crushed 4 homers against Justin Masterson, bullpen in win over Cleveland Indians at Progressive Field

WHO ARE THESE GUYS?!?!?!?

Felix Pie, Corey Patterson, Matt Wieters and Luke Scott all homered last night (Luke Scott did something on the road?); and the team survived a shaky performance from Jake Arrieta to win their 7th in their last 8.

I don’t know what else to say. The fact is it DOESN’T matter as the team has won 7 of 8 but STILL has the worst record in Major League Baseball-although they’re just a half game in front (behind) of the Pittsburgh Pirates in that race. However, it is really nice to have a stretch like this. They’re not going to win 87.5% of their games the rest of the way; but if they can compete to stay around .500 the rest of the way, we’d all be entertained.

But it still wouldn’t REALLY matter.

What matters is what happens this offseason, and what happens next spring.

But if we’re going to have to watch the games, I guess we might as well be entertained. It’s either this or watching YouTube clips “Come On” highlights from Arrested Development and South Park…

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S5BMQ-xpTog[/youtube]

Okay, that clip was more entertaining. Sorry to the O’s…

2. The AP/WNST.net provide numerical evidence of another win

By the way, Arrieta’s final line last night was 6IP, 6R (5ER), 6H, 2BB, 3K. I feel like I’m going to hear someone describe his start as “gutty” at some point today.

You know the (new) drill here. You actually DO want to look at the numbers now, which is stunning. Do that, then look at this picture of Nikki Mitchell from The Smoking Jacket/Busted Coverage. Win/win I call it!

nikkimitchell

3. MLB.com’s Brittany Ghiroli says Mike Gonzalez, Koji Uehara could take save opportunities from Alfredo Simon

I know Buck Showalter is all about winning games (and trust me, I’m GRATEFUL for that); but I don’t think Uehara makes sense.

Uehara’s 2 year, $10 million deal ends in a month and a half; and I just can’t fathom Andy MacPhail having future plans for him in Charm City. Then again, MacPhail was the guy who gave him stupid money and a stupid promised start in the rotation originally.

If Showalter wants to find out whether or not he has a closer on the roster for next season (and I’m guessing he doesn’t), he should go with Simon and Gonzalez. If he’s just hellbent on making sure Steve in Homeland loses his bet with Drew Forrester; maybe it’s worth taking a shot on ol’ “Sideburns.”

4. Seattle Times’ Geoff Baker says former Mariners manager Wakamatsu could join Buck Showalter’s Orioles staff

Apparently these two have a history that dates back to the Arizona Diamondbacks, and this would be a natural fit. I’d be fine with it, but I’d prefer they go out and get an actual PLAYER from the Emerald City. For example, is Ichiro available?

This of course is part of the question surrounding what the Orioles’ staff will look like a season from now. Few in Baltimore would be saddened to see Terry Crowley depart, but baseball minds will tell you he’s still amongst the better true hitting coaches in baseball. There’s an argument that the young pitchers on the Orioles staff would be better suited to have Rick Kranitz stick around for continuity, but there’s also an argument he hasn’t earned that right just yet.

With no offense to Gary Allenson, T-Bone Shelby or Jeff Datz; those jobs really aren’t significant enough to worry about who handles them. Should Buck Showalter have someone from his past (Toronto Blue Jays 3B Coach Brian Butterfield comes to mind) that he wants to fill the role; that’s fine. Should he decide to keep one or more of the current guys in place, that would be fine as well.

5. The Sun’s Dean Jones Jr. says Scott Moore homered in Norfolk Tides’ loss to Indianapolis Indians on farm

And before we move on from the Orioles, a few things:

-The Birds and Tribe face off again tonight, with first pitch from the Comeback City at 7:05pm on MASN. Brad Bergesen faces Josh Tomlin-whoever that is.

-Did you miss Hall of Famer Earl Weaver with Drew Forrester this morning on “The Morning Reaction” on AM1570 WNST? Drew and Earl talked about Buck Showalter, the anniversary of Cal Ripken’s MLB debut and much more. Head over to the BuyAToyota.com Audio Vault today to check it out. Some other things you can hear in the Audio Vault include…

  • Chorye Spoone (Bowie Baysox pitcher)-who joined Drew this morning to discuss his season in the O’s system
  • Orlando Alzugary (WQAM Miami)-who previewed the Miami Dolphins as we continue to preview AFC East teams this week in our look at the Baltimore Ravens’ schedule
  • Purple reports from Westminster with Luke Jones; as well as sound from McDaniel College Tuesday with John Harbaugh, Jameel McClain and Tom Zbikowski
  • Chris Chester (Ravens OL)-who joined Thyrl Nelson following practice Tuesday
  • Ken Singleton (YES Network)-who discussed the anniversary of Cal’s debut and some New York Yankees baseball with Rex Tuesday
  • Ryan Couture (Strikeforce fighter, son of Randy Couture) and Reed Harris (WEC General Manager)-who both joined Thyrl Nelson and John Rallo Tuesday during “The MMA Report”

It’s all there in the Audio Vault, meaning once again you have your day taken care of for you. As always, you’re welcome.

6. WNST.net’s Luke Jones says Chris Carr, Jared Gaither likely to miss Ravens preseason opener tomorrow night vs. Carolina Panthers

We still don’t know about some of the other question marks on the roster, including Fabian Washington-who could be sat to protect him from the M&T Bank Stadium turf.

If Washington & Carr can’t play, it would be likely that Travis Fisher and Cary Williams would start. Wow.

They could still go out and make an acquisition. For example, I believe Paulina Stanek is available. (Thanks Don Chavez!)

stanek

7. National Football Post’s Aaron Wilson says Domonique Foxworth underwent knee surgery Tuesday performed by Dr. James Andrews

That’s right, the ugliest name in all of sports medicine-which also so happens to be one of the best.

It’s a long road back from an ACL tear-but there’s no question in my mind that Domonique can handle it both mentally and physically. Because of the timing of it, he should be in good shape to be back in time for Training Camp next season.

In the meantime…umm…does he maybe have a cousin who can come play for the Ravens???

8. BaltimoreRavens.com’s Ryan Mink says Shayne Graham, Billy Cundiff to alternate kicks tomorrow night

And before we move on from the Ravens, a couple of things:

-Training Camp is CLOSED to the public (and to the media) today, so if you head up to Carroll County-a trip to Chick-Fil-A will be about your only option. Not that there’s anything wrong with that. Luke Jones will still be checking in throughout the day with Thyrl Nelson and Rex Snider today on AM1570 WNST as we prepare for the Ravens’ preseason opener tomorrow night.

-This morning’s “Training Camp Top 5″ was “If you were to get in a fight with Pittsburgh Steelers fans in the upper deck at Heinz Field, which current or former Ravens would you want on your side?”

Here’s my list:

  1. Orlando Brown
  2. Steve McNair
  3. Bart Scott
  4. Tom Zbikowski
  5. Arthur Jones

Here’s Drew’s list:

  1. Rex Ryan
  2. Kelly Gregg
  3. Ray Lewis
  4. Jarret Johnson
  5. Frank Walker

And via Twitter (follow us @WNST), here’s Nestor Aparicio’s list…

  1. Orlando Brown
  2. Bob Sapp
  3. Sam Adams
  4. James Trapp
  5. Ray Lewis

9. D1scourse’s Patrick Stevens says Terrapins De’Onte Arnett, Taylor Watson to miss Training Camp in College Park

The Terps held their football Media Day yesterday at Byrd Stadium, and you will be able to hear from plenty of players (including Jamarr Robinson, Da’Rel Scott, Alex Wujciak, Poly’s LaQuan Williams, Antwine Perez, Torrey Smith and more) via WNSTv in the next few days/weeks.

It was a slightly awkward day at Media Day yesterday, as the cloud of last year’s 2-10 record and the uncertainty surrounding Ralph Friedgen and James Franklin (the man tabbed to be the program’s next head coach) remains. It will remain that way until (unless?) Maryland turns things around this season.

The other news to come out of Media Day was that LB Avery Murray has left the team for personal reasons, and Zach Kerr & Ronnie Tyler are still in summer school.

Patrick and I discuss Maryland’s O-Line, preview North Carolina and North Carolina State; and get into a spirited discussion regarding Navy football in this week’s “D1scast”-which you can hear now in the BuyAToyota.com Audio Vault.

10. LA Times’ Chris Dufresne names Navy 24th best team in country

What Patrick and I discussed yesterday surrounded the nature that this is CLEARLY the best team in Annapolis since maybe as far back as the Roger Staubach era; but all of the positive feelings could go away should Ken Niumatalolo’s Midshipmen lose just the season opener against Maryland.

Their schedule doesn’t allow for them to make too much noise the rest of the way (they face other ACC bottom-feeders like Duke and Wake Forest as well as a Notre Dame team that may or may not be a factor in the BCS this season). Should they suffer an early costly loss, it will be hard to maintain a Top 25 (or Top 25-range) status.

That being said, this is a FANTASTIC problem for the Mids to have.

You know who won’t have trouble staying in the Top 25 this season? Sophie Reade. (Thanks Guyism!)

sophie

And finally, I leave you with this.

I named “The Greatest Song of All Time This Week” earlier this week on Facebook (you can add me as a friend-just search for “Glenn Clark” and add the goofy looking guy sipping Orange Kool-Aid because he lost a bet to Ed in Park Heights). “Return of the Mack” by Mark Morrison isn’t just A comeback song, it is THE comeback song…

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uB1D9wWxd2w[/youtube]

Flexing my mic muscles since 1983…

-G

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