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Ravens Q & A time

Posted on 30 September 2008 by caseywillett

After a hard fought, tough loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers last night, it is time for another edition of Ravens questions and answers.

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O-Line Biggest Surprise of 2008

Posted on 28 September 2008 by Vince Fiduccia

The biggest surprise for the Ravens in this young season is the play of its equally young offensive line. Remember during preseason when injuries had wrecked the unit and undaunted defenders came along the perimeter against a guy who was pouring concrete for a living?   We were all wondering if any of our quarterbacks could make it more than two or three games. Thanks to the return of Jared Gaither and Adam Terry, the line has come together much quicker and effectively than any of us thought.   After two games the Ravens lead the NFL in time of possession and rank second in the league in rushing with an average of 190 yards per game.
More importantly, they are completely dominating the line of scrimmage. Witness the performance in the fourth quarter in each of the first two games. Everyone in the stadium knew what they wanted to do–kill the clock and pound the ball.  How did the o-line respond?  With punishing grinding drives that left the other teams’ offenses on the bench for long stretches of time. They have allowed just two sacks, have given rookie quarterback Joe Flacco plenty of pass protection, and have owned short yardage situations.
Who gets the credit? Offensive line coach John Matsko probably deserves most of the credit along with assistant offensive line coach Andy Moeller. They have done a great job of teaching technique and working with the each player.   Offensive coordinator Cam Cameron has made great calls and put the line in great situations. Plus the addition of fullback Lorenzo Neal, the best lead blocker of his generation, has made this unit elite.
Whoever, decided to move Marshal Yanda to guard and Adam Terry to right tackle (a move I thought was doomed) deserves kudos–especially the decision to make Terry a right tackle.  Last year he looked like he was on roller skates at that position. Someone is coaching this group up or scheming right to protect him.
Give the players credit as well.  They have observed and learned the lessons taught. They worked hard during the off-season both in the weight room and on the field.   The one thing we know about this group is they are talented and young, and their future is limitless. If this level of play continues, general manager Ozzie Newsome is going to have to think of ways to keep this group together under the salary cap.

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Thursday Ravens Notes

Posted on 18 September 2008 by caseywillett

4:33
Here is the Ravens injury report for Thursday:
OUT:
Troy Smith
Did Not Participate:
Brendon Ayanbadejo (leg)
Kelly Gregg (knee)
Corey Ivy (ankle)
Limited Participation:
Yamon Figurs (hamstring)
Nick Greisen (thigh)
Derrick Martin (shoulder)
Fabian Washington (neck)
Full Participation:
Todd Heap (wrist)
Marshal Yanda (knee)
Demetrius Williams (hamstring)

Here are some notes from the media session with Special Teams Coach Jerry Rosburg, Defensive Coordinator Rex Ryan, and Offensive Coordinator Cam Cameron:

The Ravens special teams unit will have their hands full with Josh Cribbs as he is one of the most dangerous return guys in the NFL. Interestingly enough, Coach Jerry Rosburg was the person who turned Cribbs into a return guy. Cribbs was a quarterback out of Kent State when he was signed as a free agent by the Browns in ’05.
The Ravens offensive line will have their hands full with big defensive tackle Shaun Rogers. He is a guy that demands a double team from the offensive line and will be a big challenge for Jason Brown.
Willis McGahee will see some playing this Sunday, but I do not look for him to start and to only play a limited amount of time on Sunday.
According to Rex Ryan, this will be the best defense that the Browns will have faced so far this year. So far they have faced the Cowboys who only allowed 10 points, and the Steelers who only allowed 6 points.
Rex Ryan pointed out that part of the struggles of the Browns so far has been that they are missing Joe Jurevicius and Donte Stallworth on offense, but are still a very dangerous team offensively.
Look for Justin Bannan to get another start on the defensive line as Kelly Gregg still appears to be unlikely to play on Sunday
Willie Anderson will fit into the mix at the tackle position this Sunday. Willie will now rotate with Adam Terry and Jared Gaither, and Terry could move over to left tackle at times during the game
Here are notes from the media portion of practice:
-Missing: Troy Smith, Brendon Ayanbadejo, Kelly Gregg, Corey Ivy
-Back at work: Yamon Figurs, Ed Reed, Demetrius Williams, Derrick Martin
-Lorenzo Neal was wearing #43 which is the number that belongs to Haruki Nakamura. Haruki was also wearing #43. Lorenzo is listed on the roster as still wearing #42.

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Ravens Q&A

Posted on 16 September 2008 by caseywillett

It’s time for another Tuesday edition of the Ravens Q&A blog.

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Ravens-Texans to Monday night; injury report

Posted on 11 September 2008 by caseywillett

Just after 6 pm, the NFL released this statement to the media: Due to the importance of allowing the Houston area to focus on its recovery from the expected arrival of Hurricane Ike on Friday, the Houston Texans’ home game Sunday against the Baltimore Ravens has been re-scheduled for Monday night at Reliant Stadium at 7:30 pm Houston time (8:30 pm ET).

The game originally was scheduled to be played on Sunday, September 14 at 3:15 pm Houston Time (4:15 pm ET). The Texans-Ravens Monday night game will be televised on local CBS stations in the primary and secondary markets of the Texans (Houston, Beaumont-Port Arthur, and Bryan, Texas) and the Ravens (Baltimore; Washington, DC; Salisbury, MD; and Harrisburg, PA).

**********
Our thoughts and prayers go out to the folks in Texas as this storm bears down on the coast over the next day. Here is how the day unfolded out at Owings Mills …

4:50 pm: The Ravens have informed us that they have been told that the NFL will have a statement around 6 pm as it relates to the status of Sunday’s scheduled Ravens-Texans game.

Here is a blog about the situation from NFL.com, with quotes from NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell.

I just do not see this game being played on Sunday. There would be way too many issues with getting things cleaned up after the storm and being ready to go for the game. If things can get cleaned up, cleared and ready to go for a game on Monday night, I would guess the Ravens would get the front end of a Monday Night Football doubleheader with the Eagles at Cowboys taking the main stage that evening.

It also has not been ruled out that the game could be played on another day next week, but that is to short of a turnaround for both teams.

Hopefully we will have a final answer coming in the next 45 minutes.

4:41 pm: Make sure to check out the audio vault on the WNST website to listen to Ian Eagle’s take on the current status of the Ravens–Texans game. As of now, there is still no word from the Ravens. The team is still waiting to hear word from the NFL as to what will happen.

4:10 pm: There is no news yet as far as the game goes, but here is the Ravens’ injury report for Thursday:

Did Not Participate
Brendon Ayanbadejo (leg)
Yamon Figurs (hamstring)
Kelly Gregg (knee)
Troy Smith (illness)
Fabian Washington (neck)

Limited Participation
Jared Gaither (ankle)
Trevor Pryce (back)

Full Participation
Chris McAlister (knee)
Jason Brown (ankle)
Todd Heap (back)
Corey Ivy (ankle)
Le Ron McClain (ankle)
Willis McGahee (knee)
Ed Reed (neck)

2:40 pm: Although no new news on the Ravens–Texans game, the University of Texas postponed its game against Arkansas until Sept. 27. Here are some sports event changes that have been made due to Hurricane Ike and its impact.

Also, here is an update from the Houston Airport System as it relates to flights coming into Houston.

1:43 pm: Still nothing official from the Ravens, but here is something to thing about. The Ravens game could be moved to Atlanta. The Falcons are on the road at Tampa Bay late Sunday afternoon, and the baseball Braves are in New York to face the Mets.

12:24 pm: The latest here officially from the Ravens is that the club was notified that they will be told something this afternoon or tonight as it relates to the game in Houston. The Ravens have been told to be ready to plan accordingly.

The Ravens have not been told about the possibility of the game being moved to Baltimore. That seems to not be an opition as there was so much fall out over the move of the 2005 Saints-Giants game that Chris Pika blogged about due to Hurricane Katrina.

9:30 am: The Ravens are monitoring the path of Hurricane Ike this morning and may be making alternate plans for the game Sunday afternoon. The Houston Chronicle is reporting that the game could be moved to Monday night.

The University of Houston has had to move their game Saturday versus Air Force to Dallas (at SMU’s stadium). There are some reports that flights into Houston may be put on hold starting tonight or Friday. That could possibly cause the Ravens to have to leave sometime in the next 24 hours.

More as word comes out here at 1 Winning Drive.

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UPDATE: Injury report and Wednesday Ravens notes

Posted on 10 September 2008 by caseywillett

Here is the Ravens injury report for Wednesday:
Did Not Participate:
Brendon Ayanbadejo (leg)
Troy Smith (illness)
Fabian Washington (neck)
Limited Participation
Yamon Figurs (hamstring)
Kelly Gregg (knee)
Corey Ivy (ankle)
Ed Reed (neck)
Full Participation
Chris McAlister(knee)
Jason Brown (ankle)
Jared Gaither (ankle)
Todd Heap (back)
LeRon McClain (ankle)
Willis McGahee (knee)

The Ravens returned to practice today as they prepare for the Houston Texans. Here are some news and notes from today:

Good news from media portion of practice this afternoon. Kelly Gregg was back on the field and may possibly be ready to play on Sunday
Haloti Ngata was not at practice during the media session, and there has been no reason as to why he was not there. Again, he was not there during the media portion of practice, he could have very well come out for practice later.
Fabian Washington, Brendon Ayanbadejo, and Troy Smith, were all not at practice this afternoon as they nurse injuries.
Fabian sort of rules himself out on Sunday. He said he is still dealing with some neck issues.
Troy Smith was in the locker room for a brief moment this afternoon. He looks to be in a little better shape than last time we saw him, but Coach Harbaugh said they will know more about his status on Friday.
Look for it to be a possible rotation of Willie Anderson, Adam Terry, and Jared Gaither, at the tackle positions. Terry could possibly see some time at the left tackle position if Anderson comes in at right.
There has been no news as far as possibly having to make changes in the Ravens travel plans as it relates to Houston yet,” whatever those plans are, they’ll let us know when it’s time, and our job is to get ready for the Texans.”
Todd Heap said that his back injury that he suffered in the 4th quarter of the Bengals game is ok, and not something that is going to bother him. Heap said that he landed on the Bengals player’s foot, but will be ok for Sunday.
Texans coach Gary Kubiak had an interesting take on the Ravens offense:’ I think you’ve got to worry about stopping the offense. When you look at the Ravens last week, the bottom line is they were dominant on the line of scrimmage. I’m not sure I’m right, but I think the quarterback only threw the ball 17-18 times last week. If you’re in this league and the quarterback only has to throw the ball that many times, then that means your football team’s got total control of the game on the ground. I think our tremendous challenge is figuring out a way to stop their run. If they can hold the ball longer, just like Pittsburgh did-I think Ben threw it 16 times or 15 times, I’m not sure; it wasn’t many-you’re in trouble as a football team. We’ve got to stop their offense, and when you look at last week they’re very physical and do a great job in the running game.”
One of the things to watch for is that Mario Williams will jump from one end of the line to the other, to cause match up problems.

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*UPDATE Cut down day for the Ravens

Posted on 30 August 2008 by caseywillett

4:30 So the Ravens have trimmed their roster down and announced the suspension of Derrick Martin for the first regular season game. You can see all of the cuts listed in Nestor’s blog.

On my 53 man roster, I went 51-53. I missed on Adam Bergen and Casey Bramlet by having them in and leaving Anwar Phillips and Jamell McClain out. As it relates to Peter Czech, we did not even know that he was on the team. We were told he was waived to make room for Casey Bramlet on Thursday, but on the Ravens site he is listed on the 53 man roster.

The Derrick Martin situation is no suprise. When you saw Kevin Faulk get suspended, you knew Derrick’s was coming also. Also not suprised with decision to IR David Pittman.

 

 

Today is the day that 22 members of the Ravens team have not been looking forward to. This is the day when you are told that your services are no longer needed for this football team. The Ravens have to get down to 53 man roster by 6 p.m. The rookies on the Ravens will all have to report to the Ravens facility today and await word whether they have made the team or not.

 
I will keep you updated here and through our text service throughout the day as the cuts become available. As it relates to the practice squad, the Ravens have until noon tomorrow to establish that team. Once a player becomes available, it goes in reverse order of record as to claiming a player.
 
Here is my attempt at the 53 man roster for the Ravens.
QB – Boller, Flacco, Smith, Bramlet
RB – McGahee, Rice
FB – Neal, McClain
WR – Mason, Clayton, Williams, Figurs, Smith
TE – Heap, Wilcox, Jones, Bergen
OL- Brown, Grubbs, Yanda, Terry, Gaither, Cousins, Hale, Chester
DL- Pryce, Douglas, Gregg, Ngata, Parker, Bannan
LB-Lewis,Scott,Suggs, Johnson, Barnes, Ayanbadejo, Greisen, Gooden
DB – Rolle, McAlister, Washington, Walker, Martin, Ivy
S – Reed, Landry, Leonhard, Zbkowski, Nakamura
ST – Koch, Katula, Stover
 
I admit this is just my guess, but hey someone had to put Bramlet on the team, it might as well be me.
 
Here is my thinking on a couple of guys:
Casey Bramlet – I think they are going to need him for a couple of weeks. With the status of Kyle Boller and Troy Smith in the air for week one, they may have no choice but to keep Casey.
 
J’Vonne Parker – I thought J’Vonne has had a very solid camp and preseason. Also factor in with Ngata, and Gregg nursing injuries, he gives them depth at that position.
 
Derrick Martin – Derrick is another player who I thought had a solid preseason and regular season. Derrick is nursing a shoulder injury right now and maybe we will find out how severe that is today, but I think Derrick has earned a spot on this team.

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Casey’s ‘Six Pack’ preview for Ravens-Falcons

Posted on 28 August 2008 by caseywillett

So as the Ravens get ready for their final preseason game tonight versus the Falcons, here are six things to watch for. I guess we will call them Casey’s Six-Pack:
 
  1. O-line reunited – For the first time this preseason, the offensive line is expected to be back together with Adam Terry and Jared Gaither both likely to play tonight. It will be interesting to watch how they gel with Jason Brown, Marshal Yanda and Ben Grubbs after missing so much time. I expect that they will stay out there longer than usually expected for a fourth preseason game.
 
  1. Tight Ends – Todd Heap and Dan Wilcox will be on the field together tonight for the first time this preseason and the first time in a while. They are both coming back from injuries and will get some time with the first team offense tonight. Wilcox made his comeback last week and looked pretty good. Tonight will be another stepping stone on his road to recovery. I would imagine he will stay out there a little longer than Heap tonight. Also keep an eye on the guys know battling for that third tight end position. Adam Bergen will probably see the field first then you I imagine you will see Edgar Jones and Keith Heinrich.
 
 
  1. The Joe Show – Tonight Joe Flacco will see a lot of reps. While I do not think he will play the entire game, here is another chance for him to show what he can do and earn even more respect from his teammates. I think Joe will pass the test tonight with flying colors. Later in the game I expect you will see Casey Bramlet come in and run some of Cam Cameron’s offense.
 
  1. 3rd down stoppage  – The Ravens have allowed their opponents to convert 50% on 3rd downs this preseason which is why teams have racked up 67 first downs against them. Stopping teams on 3rd down has been an issue for this team during the preseason. They cannot allow teams to sustain long drives on them whether they lead to three or six points.
 
 
  1. Limit the air attack – The Ravens secondary, in particular Cory Ivy and Frank Walker, have been picked on a bunch this preseason. Not having Ed Reed, Chris McAlister or Samari Rolle factors into that, but how confident are you that they will be there all together during the regular season? The Ravens have allowed 607 yards through the air this preseason at a 58% completion rate. Of the 112 passes that have been attempted against the Ravens so far, 82 of them have been short passes. The Ravens have to stop the air onslaught and be able to find a way to stop the no-huddle offense.
 
  1. Prove you belong – After tonight, about 20 members of this football team will no longer be members. Tonight is the final audition for the coaches, scouts, front office and people who will make the roster decisions by 4 p.m. on Saturday. For guys like Ronnie Prude and David Pittman, they have to take advantage of Derrick Martin not being able to play. Do guys like J’Vonne Parker, Adrein Clarke, Joe Reitz, Jameel McClain, Lorenzo Williams and several other guys do something tonight to make a case one way or another as it relates to making this team? Does an aging veteran like Gary Stills just get caught up in a salary cap and numbers game and become expendable? Can Haruki Nakamura, Tom Zbikowski, Allen Patrick, and other late-round draft picks feel confident in their spot on the team after tonight’s game? One thing is for certain: they have had all of a long camp and preseason to prove what they have. Here’s one last chance to prove tonight that they belong on this team.

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10 things to watch for tonight

Posted on 23 August 2008 by caseywillett

Here are 10 things that I will be looking for tonight:
 
  1. Terrell Suggs – How does he play? Does he look slow? Is he having a hard time with the offensive lineman in front of him? What kind of “football” shape is he in? I think Suggs will have a solid showing tonight.
 
  1. QB – Is tonight the night that Troy can seal the deal and make a final case for being the starting quarterback on September 7? I still say that Kyle Boller would have to do way more than what Smith has to do tonight to keep hope alive. If the offense moves the ball with or without scoring a bunch of points, that closes the deal for Troy.
 
 
  1. Safeties – With it looking more and more like Ed Reed will not be ready to start the season on time (as I have been saying for a while), who steps up in his place? Jim Leonhard is expected to be the guy who takes the field with Dawan Landry and the most likely guy to win the competition with Harauki Nakamura, and Tom Zbikowski. But, how will the the communication be with those two and do they cover each others weaknesses?
 
  1. Tackle – With Adam Terry expected to play a little bit tonight (and looking like he will be ready for the opener) and Jared Gaither looking like he may not be ready for the opener, who steps up? Which of Chad Slaughter, Oneil Cousins, David Hale, Mike Kracalik, and Joe Reitz make a push for that left tackle spot? Do they put Adam Terry in at left tackle and maybe see who can help on the right side? The tackle position has been a reason for concern for the last two years and I am not sure that there will not be more questions after tonight.
 
 
  1. Interior defensive line – Haloti Ngata is expected to play some tonight which is good news for the Ravens, but not so good news is the amount of time that Kelly Gregg has missed and possibly still will miss with a knee injury. Justin Bannan is one of the more underrated players on the Ravens roster and while he is not Kelly Gregg, he is still a very solid backup and will not miss a beat. J’Vonne Parker is also a guy to watch tonight to see how he plays when he is in the game at that position.
 
  1. Communication in secondary – It was an issue last week with the secondary but it might be a little bit better this week with Samari Rolle being back there and possibly Chris McAlister. No. 21 & 22 can make up for some miscommunication but this is another reason why the team will miss Ed Reed. Dawan Landry has to step up and take over that role and make sure that everyone is on the same page.
 
 
  1. Running Game – With Willis McGahee’s health being a concern, how does Ray Rice respond tonight? Ray had a nice game early on last week versus the Vikings. How will he respond tonight? Who steps up behind him? Will it be Cory Ross? Alex Haynes? Allen Patrick? All three of those guys could earn a roster spot tonight with a solid performance.
 
  1. 3rd WR – With it looking like Demetrius Williams may not be ready to start the season, will someone step up for that 3rd wide receiver position? Marcus Smith has had a solid camp and nice preseason, but I do not think he has locked up that spot yet. Matt Willis has been around for a while with the team and has a great opportunity to show what he can do. Here is a guy to watch tonight, who I think might have a real shot at the 3rd spot: Yamon Figurs. Cam Cameron used Figurs several times as the 3rd wideout during camp. He can absolutely fly down the football field; he just has to be able to hang on to the football.
 
 
  1. Tight End- Dan Wilcox might get a chance tonight to play in a game for the first time in a while. This is huge for Wilcox, because his spot on the roster could very well depend on it. If this were a regular season game, I really think you would see Todd Heap out there on the field. Tonight is a chance for Adam Bergen, Aaron Walker and Edgar Jones to fight it out for one of the tight end positions.
 
  1. Who Steps Up – Every one of these guys dreamed of one day playing in the NFL. For a lot of them, that dream will come to an end after tonight. With the first cuts coming Tuesday, a couple of these guys will have played their last NFL game ever. Tonight is a chance for those guys on the bubble to show that they deserve to stick around and have a chance to compete for a spot on the final 53 man roster. Tonight’s game will go a long way as to the future of some of the players. All of the players know that too and they have to step up tonight and make that decision tough on Coach Harbaugh. One play good or bad can determine their future with the Ravens.
 
Here is one more guy to watch tonight when he is on the field: Brendon Ayanbadejo. Brendon is always around the football and making plays whether it is on defense or special teams.

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Notes from Ravens morning practice

Posted on 18 August 2008 by caseywillett

Several of the players who have been missing at different times during camp, returned to the football field this morning:
 
Welcome Back: Haloti Ngata, Todd Heap, Dan Wilcox, Adam Terry, Chris McAlister, Samari Rolle, David Pittman, Derrick Mason, and Terrell Suggs all were on the football field this afternoon.
 
Still missing in action: Kerry Reed, Willis McGahee, Derrick Martin, Dan Cody, Jared Gaither, Lorenzo Williams, Demetrius Williams, Kelly Gregg, and Kelly Talavou
 
Terrell Suggs walked out onto the field side by side with Ray Lewis, then went over to defensive line and started to stretch with them.
 
The practice this morning was in soft shells and shorts, so some of these guys will participate a little more than if they were in full pads.
 
Le’Ron McClain has now switched his jersey number from #37 to number #33.

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