Tag Archive | "gino gradkowski"

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Looking at former Ravens set to hit free agency

Posted on 12 February 2016 by Luke Jones

The start of NFL free agency is less than a month away.

This is the time of year when teams not only look at their own free agents, but they start to explore who else might become available. A full list was comprised by Pro Football Talk that included more than a few familiar names who could spark discussion among Ravens fans about a potential return.

Below is a look at ex-Ravens set to officially hit the open market on March 9:

OLB Jason Babin
2015 team: Arizona
Ravens-related thought: It’s tough to recall many players who received as much attention and produced as little as Babin did for the Ravens as he failed to register a defensive statistic in two October games.

WR Anquan Boldin
2015 team: San Francisco
Ravens-related thought: No, the Ravens shouldn’t bring back the 35-year-old as Kamar Aiken fits that skill set, but trading Boldin in 2013 was still one of Ozzie Newsome’s worst decisions in recent memory.

G Chris Chester
2015 team: Atlanta
Ravens-related thought: The 2006 second-round pick was disappointing in his first couple seasons in Baltimore, but he’s carved out a really nice career that includes 127 starts over a decade in the NFL.

C Gino Gradkowski
2015 team: Atlanta
Ravens-related thought: Denver cut him at the end of the summer and Gradkowski played in just three games this season, putting his career at a crossroads after struggling as a starter in Baltimore in 2013.

K Shayne Graham
2015 team: Atlanta
Ravens-related thought: Many fans forget that the Ravens signed the veteran to fill in for an ailing Billy Cundiff late in the 2011 regular season, just a few weeks before “you know what” happened.

SS James Ihedigbo
2015 team: Detroit
Ravens-related thought: If the Ravens had known Matt Elam would be such a disappointment, they likely would have kept Ihedigbo after his strong 2013 season, but Will Hill now plays the same position.

ILB Rolando McClain
2015 team: Dallas
Ravens-related thought: Inside linebacker is a potential need depending on what happens with veteran Daryl Smith, but Baltimore can’t be foolish enough to venture down this road again, right?

DT Haloti Ngata
2015 team: Detroit
Ravens-related thought: It will be interesting to see what market exists for an accomplished 32-year-old defensive tackle, but a reunion seems unlikely unless Ngata is willing to take a very team-friendly deal.

RB Bernard Pierce
2015 team: Jacksonville
Ravens-related thought: It’s hard to believe how quickly Pierce flamed out after averaging 4.9 yards per carry in his rookie season and being on the verge of threatening Ray Rice for the starting job.

RB Bobby Rainey
2015 team: Tampa Bay
Ravens-related thought: The undrafted free agent from Western Kentucky was a good story a few years ago, but he fell out of the Buccaneers’ backfield picture and the Ravens are set at the position.

RS Jeremy Ross (restricted)
2015 team: Oakland
Ravens-related thought: You can’t last as a return specialist in the NFL if you can’t secure the football, a lesson Ross learned with the Ravens as well as with a few other teams in his career.

CB Cassius Vaughn
2015 team: San Diego
Ravens-related thought: The veteran corner had two different stints with the Ravens in 2015, but it would be difficiult to view him as anything more than offseason roster depth at this point.

CB Cary Williams
2015 team: Washington
Ravens-related thought: Williams was better than some want to give him credit for during his time in Baltimore, but his struggles in Seattle last year will dim interest for his services this offseason.

CB Josh Wilson
2015 team: Detroit
Ravens-related thought: The former Terp will be 31 next month and played well for the Ravens in 2010, but his career appears to be winding down after he suffered a season-ending knee injury in November.

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Ravens use disposable centers to improve 2016 draft position

Posted on 06 September 2015 by Luke Jones

The center position is in excellent shape for the Ravens entering the 2015 season.

The arrival of starter Jeremy Zuttah a year ago was a pivotal factor in the turnaround for an offensive line that was nothing short of a disaster in 2013. Second-year reserve John Urschel may be the center of the future — or at least a starter at either guard position — and is rapidly becoming one of the better backup interior linemen in the NFL. Ryan Jensen also offers versatility as a backup capable of playing center in addition to guard and tackle.

But this weekend offered a reminder that the Ravens used a pair of disposable centers to improve their value in next year’s draft.

Hours before making their final cuts on Saturday, the Ravens traded rookie free agent center Nick Easton to the San Francisco 49ers for a conditional 2016 seventh-round pick. Despite playing well in the preseason, the Harvard product was never going to make the 53-man roster and Baltimore managed to find a suitor for a player already on his way out the door.

On Sunday, another shrewd move from the offseason came to the forefront with Denver cutting former Ravens center Gino Gradkowski. In April, general manager Ozzie Newsome sent the fourth-year lineman and a 2016 fifth-round pick to the Broncos in exchange for Denver’s fourth-round selection in next year’s draft.

With Gradkowski scheduled to make $1.542 million in the final year of his rookie contract and no better than third on the early 2015 depth chart, the Ravens saved salary cap space and improved a 2016 pick by trading a player who was unlikely to make Baltimore’s roster and was ultimately cut by his new team. Needless to say, the Ravens got the better end of the trade by a definitive margin.

These two picks in isolation may not be the difference in winning a championship, but the Ravens value having more selections as we’ve seen with their accumulation of compensatory picks over the years. It’s difficult to argue with the results.

Regardless of how these picks play out next year, these are just tiny examples of Newsome building an excellent case as a Hall of Fame executive in addition to already being enshrined in Canton as a player.

 

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Ravens trade Gradkowski to Denver for 2016 pick considerations

Posted on 01 April 2015 by Luke Jones

(Updated: 7:30 p.m.)

The Ravens have traded fourth-year center Gino Gradkowski to the Denver Broncos in a transaction that also involves 2016 draft pick considerations.

Though the specific draft choices were not disclosed by either team at the time of the announcement, the Ravens will receive the Broncos’ fourth-round pick in 2016 in exchange for Gradkowski and Baltimore’s fifth-round selection, owner Steve Bisciotti confirmed in a conference call with season-ticket holders Wednesday night.

Due to a performance escalator that raised the 2012 fourth-round pick’s base salary to $1.542 million for the 2015 season, Gradkowski was expected by many to be released to save salary cap space. Instead, general manager Ozzie Newsome clears cap room while improving a 2016 draft pick.

Gradkowski had fallen behind starting center Jeremy Zuttah and 2014 fifth-round choice John Urschel on the depth chart, making the trade a good opportunity for the University of Delaware product. He started 16 games at center for the Ravens during the 2013 season, but his struggles were a significant reason why Baltimore rushed for a league-worst 3.1 yards per carry and missed the playoffs that year.

In 2014, Gradkowski appeared in only eight games and took only 10 offensive snaps all season.

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Ravens-Buccaneers: Inactives and pre-game notes

Posted on 12 October 2014 by Luke Jones

The Ravens will attempt to improve to 4-2 on Sunday afternoon against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, but they’ll need to do it without the starting left side of the offensive line.

Left guard Kelechi Osemele (knee) was ruled inactive after going through a pre-game workout at Raymond James Stadium a couple hours before kickoff. The third-year lineman missed practice all week and joins starting left tackle Eugene Monroe (arthroscopic knee surgery) on the sideline for Week 6 after he hyperextended his right knee in the loss to Indianapolis last Sunday.

Gino Gradkowski is expected to start in place of Osemele and rookie free agent James Hurst will make his third straight start at left tackle in place of the injured Monroe, which will make for an uncertain blind side for quarterback Joe Flacco.

Baltimore will also be without defensive end Chris Canty (wrist surgery), defensive tackle Timmy Jernigan (meniscus), and wide receiver Marlon Brown (pelvis). Canty and Jernigan were officially ruled out on Friday while Brown had been listed as doubtful after only working on a limited basis in the final practice of the week.

With so many players inactive due to injury, rookie wide receiver Michael Campanaro and rookie guard John Urschel are active for the first time in their NFL careers. Linebacker Arthur Brown is the only player on the 53-man roster to be inactive in each of the first six weeks of the season.

Meanwhile, the Buccaneers received good news with wide receivers Vincent Jackson and Mike Evans both being active after being listed as questionable on the final injury report. The 6-foot-5 receivers will pose a significant challenge to a Ravens secondary that lost Asa Jackson to a long-term toe injury last week in Indianapolis. Cornerback Lardarius Webb is expected to make his first start of the season after receiving his most extensive playing time of the year against the Colts in Week 5.

Tampa Bay will be without starting free safety Dashon Goldson (ankle) and starting cornerback Johnthan Banks (neck), which could spell trouble for the league’s 30th-ranked pass defense.

Jerome Boger will be the referee for Sunday’s game between the Ravens and Tampa Bay.

The Ravens will be wearing purple jerseys and white pants in Tampa where temperatures are expected to be around 90 degrees.

Sunday marks the fifth regular-season meeting between Baltimore and Tampa Bay with the teams tied 2-2. The Ravens have won each of the last two meetings with the Buccaneers and are 1-1 in Tampa.

Here are Sunday’s inactives:

BALTIMORE
LG Kelechi Osemele
LT Eugene Monroe
WR Marlon Brown
DE Chris Canty
DT Timmy Jernigan
LB Arthur Brown
TE Ryan Taylor

TAMPA BAY
QB Josh McCown
CB Johnthan Banks
S Dashon Goldson
LB Jonathan Casillas
DE Larry English
T Kevin Pamphile
G Kadeem Edwards

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Harbaugh expects competition, changes along offensive line

Posted on 31 December 2013 by Luke Jones

OWINGS MILLS, Md. — Ravens coach John Harbaugh wasted no time in spelling out the biggest reasons why he thought his team fell short of the postseason for the first time in his six-year tenure in Baltimore.

The biggest downfall started up front with the offensive line, a unit that was so instrumental to the team’s Super Bowl XLVII run but one that also underwent several changes this season.

“We’re going to need to run the ball better, we’re going to need to protect Joe [Flacco] better,” Harbaugh said. “Offensively, those things will make us better.”

Finishing the season with three new starters from the line that protected Flacco so effectively in last year’s postseason, the Ravens averaged a league-worst 3.1 yards per carry and rushed for 1,328 yards, two marks that shattered previous single-season lows in franchise history. Baltimore also allowed 48 sacks, the second-highest total in team history and the most given up since the 1999 Ravens were sacked 56 times.

Media and fans have pointed fingers most often at run-game coordinator Juan Castillo, who implemented a new zone-blocking scheme in his first year with the Ravens that didn’t fit an offensive line featuring a new center responsible for making calls at the line of scrimmage. Harbaugh said Tuesday that no changes to the coaching staff were in the works for now, but the coach alluded to the possibility of staff members potentially moving on to take other jobs as the Ravens’ brass will meet next week to make further evaluations within the organization.

Even if Castillo isn’t retained, Harbaugh was quick to point out that the former Philadelphia offensive line coach has a strong track record and was just one of many responsible for the shortcomings of the Ravens’ failures in the trenches.

“Being in those meetings every single day and being a part of that thing every single day, I know better, and every one of our players knows better, and every one of our coaches knows that there are a lot of things that go into that,” Harbaugh said. “I’ve got complete confidence and belief in all of our coaches. I believe in our coaches. That goes for Juan Castillo; it goes for all of our guys. I think he’s a great coach, but I think all of our guys are great coaches. But, we’ve got to coach better. We’ve got to find a way to use our personnel better. We’ve got to get better.”

The Ravens are all but guaranteed to feature a new-look offensive line in 2014 with starting tackles Eugene Monroe and Michael Oher both unrestricted free agents. Harbaugh complimented Monroe’s play and expressed hope that he would re-sign with Baltimore after he was acquired from Jacksonville for fourth- and fifth-round picks in early October, but the Ravens will not have a great amount of cap space and can’t overspend for an above-average tackle who has yet to make a Pro Bowl in his five-year career.

Meanwhile, Oher is expected to depart via free agency after a disappointing season at right tackle and failing to pan out as the left tackle of the future when he was selected in the first round of the 2009 draft. The Ravens will evaluate 2013 fifth-round pick Rick Wagner for the right tackle spot and likely turn to the draft in early May to add more offensive line help.

Beyond the obvious holes at both tackle positions, Harbaugh made it clear that only Pro Bowl right guard Marshal Yanda — coming off an underwhelming season by his high standards — is a sure bet to line up at the same position next year. The Ravens are encouraged with the progress made by second-year lineman Kelechi Osemele from his November back surgery to repair a herniated disc, but where he’ll fit in the 2014 puzzle remains to be seen. Osemele played right tackle during the regular season of his rookie year before being shifted to left guard for the 2012 playoffs and started 2013 at that spot before landing on injured reserve.

His versatility will provide general manager Ozzie Newsome with more options when trying to address two open tackle positions at the start of the offseason.

“I think there will be a competitive situation pretty much at every spot on the offensive line except right guard,” Harbaugh said. “We will be looking forward to getting [Osemele] back. Whether he plays left guard or right tackle, we will have to make a determination on that. He can play either one of those spots. I would assume that he will be in that lineup somewhere, because he’s that kind of a player, but he’s got to come back and do it.”

Adding new bodies to the mix at tackle will be a top priority, but the competition at center might be more intriguing as 2012 fourth-round pick Gino Gradkowski struggled in his first season as a starter. Replacing 15-year pro Matt Birk, Gradkowski struggled to make the right protection calls for most of the season but improved as the year went on, according to Harbaugh.

Reserve lineman A.Q. Shipley competed for the starting center job in training camp before ultimately being needed to replace Osemele at left guard and rookie Ryan Jensen is considered an intriguing prospect with a 6-foot-4, 318-pound frame that would figure to physically hold up better than the smaller Gradkowski. However, the Ravens could elect to search free agency and the draft for more competition and a better option at center.

Gradkowski received the worst cumulative grade of any center in the NFL, according to Pro Football Focus.

“Early in the season, Gino would probably be the first to tell you that we had a lot of problems,” Harbaugh said. “You go from Matt Birk that does everything, that makes every call, and in some ways tells every lineman what to do in the heat of battle because he is so good — because you’ve got an offensive line coach basically in there playing center for you — to a guy that is doing it for the first time. That was part of the reason that we didn’t have a hat on a hat a lot of times early on, and that was a tough transition for us.

“And yet, Gino fights through it, and by the end of the year, he is making all those calls and doing a good job with that. [He is] a really smart guy, huge student of the game.”

A variety of other issues must be addressed on both sides of the ball as the Ravens try to regroup after their commendable run of five consecutive playoff appearances comes to an end, but the 2013 struggles of Flacco, Ray Rice, and the passing game were all impacted by the inconsistency along the offensive line.

It’s just one area that needs to be fixed, but it’s a critical one in which the Ravens must explore every avenue in hopes of improving by the time training camp rolls around in late July. Decisions in terms of coaching and personnel must be made carefully in arguably the most important offseason of the Harbaugh era.

And losing the battle up front was one major flaw the Ravens simply couldn’t overcome in 2013.

“Everything is going to be on the table that way [to improve],” Harbaugh said. “Every one of our guys, all of us understand in this league that it is a production business — coaches and players. We all have to be accountable for producing and winning.”

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Webb, Gradkowski to undergo minor procedures with season over

Posted on 31 December 2013 by Luke Jones

OWINGS MILLS, Md. — With the 2013 season now officially in the books for the Ravens, a pair of starters will undergo minor surgical procedures to correct ailments this offseason.

According to coach John Harbaugh, cornerback Lardarius Webb will have sports hernia surgery after playing through pain in the second half of the season. Webb was listed on the injury report regularly over the final two months of the season with an abdominal injury, which was an indication that he was playing at less than 100 percent.

“He did a nice job with that late in the season,” Harbaugh said. “The thing about sports hernias — if you know anything about it — it’s just painful. Jimmy [Smith] had that last year and had the procedure during the season.”

Starting center Gino Gradkowski will have a procedure to clean up some cartilage issues in his right knee. He was limited in practice last week and was listed as questionable despite playing in the Ravens’ 34-17 loss to Cincinnati in Week 17.

Beyond those two ailments, Harbaugh was unaware of any other scheduled offseason surgeries for players as he praised head certified athletic trainer Mark Smith for the work his staff did in keeping the Ravens healthy this season.

“We got out of the season really healthy,” Harbaugh said. “I thought Mark did a really good job of managing our guys and getting them back as soon as they could but not too early where they [were] reinjured. We didn’t have too many re-injuries, and that’s huge. That’s good news for our guys going into the offseason.”

With the season now over, quarterback Joe Flacco will have time to rest his left knee after he suffered a mild sprain of his medial collateral ligament in a Week 15 win in Detroit, but the injury will not require surgery this winter.

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Gradkowski says Ravens not worried about anything other than Bengals

Posted on 27 December 2013 by WNST Audio

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Ravens release estimated injury report for Christmas Day

Posted on 25 December 2013 by Luke Jones

After rearranging their practice schedule to give players the day off on Christmas, the Ravens released an estimated injury report for Wednesday with a Week 17 meeting against the Cincinnati Bengals looming.

Defensive tackle Arthur Jones (concussion), center Gino Gradkowski (knee), and cornerback Asa Jackson (hamstring) were listed as non-participants. Jones wasn’t present for the viewing portion of Tuesday’s practice as he must go through the NFL’s concussion protocol after leaving Sunday’s loss to New England in the fourth quarter.

Running back Ray Rice (thigh), wide receiver Torrey Smith (hamstring), and linebackers Elvis Dumervil (ankle) and Albert McClellan (neck) were estimated to be limited on Wednesday. Neither Rice nor Smith practiced on Tuesday, and McClellan missed his first game of the season this past Sunday due to a neck injury sustained against Detroit in Week 15.

Though it could have been a simple oversight, the Ravens did not list quarterback Joe Flacco on Wednesday’s report. He confirmed Tuesday that he would once again wear a brace to protect his left knee after he suffered a mild sprain of his medial collateral ligament on Dec. 16.

Meanwhile, the Bengals listed linebacker Vontaze Burfict (concussion), tight end Tyler Eifert (neck), cornerback Terence Newman (knee), and defensive tackle Devon Still (back) as non-participants on Wednesday.

The Ravens will return to work on Thursday with their three coordinators scheduled to talk at the podium with reporters.

Here is Wednesday’s estimated injury report:

BALTIMORE
DID NOT PARTICIPATE: C Gino Gradkowski (knee), CB Asa Jackson (thigh), DT Arthur Jones (concussion)
LIMITED PARTICIPATION: LB Elvis Dumervil (ankle), LB Albert McClellan (neck), RB Ray Rice (thigh), WR Torrey Smith (thigh)

CINCINNATI
DID NOT PARTICIPATE: LB Vontaze Burfict (concussion), TE Tyler Eifert (neck), CB Terence Newman (knee), TE Alex Smith (concussion), DT Devon Still (back)
LIMITED PARTICIPATION: TE Jermaine Gresham (hamstring), CB Dre Kirkpatrick (ankle), LB Vincent Rey (ankle), OT Andre Smith (ankle)

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Browns Taylor Presents BIG Issue for Ravens

Posted on 03 November 2013 by WNST Staff

As the Ravens are set to head to the “Dawg Pound,” major concerns should be set against a stout Browns defense.  Cleveland not only has bevy of pass-rushers at their disposal, but a lock down corner in Joe Haden, an enforcer on the back end, in Safety, T.J. Ward and a solid team leader in Linebacker, D’Qwell Jackson.  The Ravens had trouble moving the ball in the first matchup, during Week 2, in Baltimore; it is safe to expect more issues come 4:30 today.

A lot of notoriety will be placed on the likes of All-Pro, Haden and former Ravens pass-rush specialist, Paul Kruger, but the biggest (literally and figuratively) concern for a struggling Baltimore attack should be massive Nose Tackle, Phil Taylor. Coming in at a ‘listed’ 6’ 3”, 335 lbs. (which may be selling his waist line a little short); he is a load for any offensive lineman to handle.  Facing Baltimore though, Taylor might eat up the middle of their protection.

With Kelechi Osemele officially going on the injured reserve list, with chronic back issues, the Ravens are force to play undersized A.Q. Shipley (a smaller center by trade) at the Left Guard spot, next to undersized, and mostly overwhelmed, Center, Gino Gradkowski. Though Taylor only has two sacks on the season, he could make a major impact in adding pressure from the middle of the trenches, pushing Flacco to move outside the pocket, and possibly into the hands of Krugar or impressive rookie, Linebacker, Barkevious Mingo or a finally healthy, Linebacker, Jabaal Sheard.

In order to limit Taylor’s impact, the Ravens will need to spread out the defense, keeping the least amount of the Browns stellar front seven in the box.  With that being said, Gradkowski and Shipley could double team the large Nose Tackle, hopefully, wearing him down by the fourth quarter. If the unlikely duo of Gradkowki and Shipley can control the middle of the field, the Ravens offense will be able to thrive against a very stout Cleveland Browns defense.

But that is literally a “BIG” if…

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Our Ravens/Steelers “Slaps to the Head”

Posted on 20 October 2013 by Glenn Clark

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

The Ravens fell to the Pittsburgh Steelers 19-16 Sunday at Heinz Field, meaning there were no Pats to be awarded.

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

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

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

Glenn Clark’s Slaps…

5. Joe Flacco

4. Jeromy Miles

3. Bernard Pierce

2. Haloti Ngata

1. Elvis Dumervil (Two Slaps)

(Continued on Page 2…)

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