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Four things you can count on: Death, taxes, the 15-7-0 and Jay Cutler getting hurt

Posted on 21 October 2013 by Glenn Clark

15 positive observations from the weekend of football, seven not so positive observations and we acknowledge a “zero” from outside the world of football. A reminder, there’s never any Ravens game analysis here. We do plenty of that elsewhere. It’s a trip through the weekend of football via videos, GIFs, memes, pictures, links, Tweets and shtick.

You guys remember when the 15-7-0 was a fun time to gather ’round with family, tell tales and make fun of the Pittsburgh Steelers and Washington Redskins? Man…September was so great. Up yours, October!

15 Positive Observations…

1. I guess as it turns out, new Peyton > old Peyton. Oh and since we’re here, this is a reminder that the only Peyton to have ever been on the cover of Madden was Peyton Hillis. Hehe.

The Broncos WISH they had a better offense. Like…the Ravens’?

Also. The Colts’ punter is WAY tougher.

Also, Wes Welker’s catch didn’t suck.

2. As far as I’m concerned, the Towson Tigers are what’s happening in college football. Yes, the Towson Tigers. Nothing else. STOP FREAKING ASKING ALREADY.

Seriously. Don’t ask me about the other stuff. Just enjoy this.

3. Happy Monday. Florida State just scored. How was work today? Florida State just scored again. What are you thinking about for dinner tonight? Florida State scored again. Florida State scored again. Florida State scored again.

And also, Nick O’Leary put someone on THEIR ASS.

Your response, Tigers fans?

And here’s Kelvin Benjamin looking…EXACTLY LIKE A FLORIDA STATE RECEIVER.

College Gameday was at Clemson Saturday morning, happier times for Bill Murray.

4. The Bengals are in first place by two full games. If this particular 15-7-0 post were a meme, it would be the one with the guy with the hair saying “Aliens”.

And even with THIS?

And THIS?

But apparently AJ Green is ALSO good.

5. How was your Sunday? Mine was fine, you know, other than the watching Harry Douglas on my fantasy football bench and inventing knew curse words to scream aloud in response.

After the Falcons beat the Buccaneers, they sent a hazmat crew into the locker room because THIS IS WHAT IT’S COME TO IN TAMPA.

Perhaps the Falcons could have used a hazmat suit to cover Vincent Jackson.

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“The Reality Check” Week 6 NFL Power Rankings

Posted on 09 October 2013 by Glenn Clark

Glenn Clark’s Rankings…

32. Jacksonville Jaguars (Last Week 32)

Would they lose 63-0 to Florida State?

31. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (31)

The Miami (Ohio) job is open if Greg Schiano’s agent wants to get cracking.

30. New York Giants (29)

But only two games out of first place.

29. Pittsburgh Steelers (28)

They’ll probably be very competitive the rest of the season…in Conference USA.

28. Carolina Panthers (21)

I feel like such a fool for buying into them.

27. Minnesota Vikings (27)

I bet with Josh Freeman as quarterback, they end up as high as #20 on this list at some point.

26. Oakland Raiders (30)

Just when you think you’ve got them figured out.

25. St. Louis Rams (26)

You can only get so much credit for beating Jacksonville.

24. Atlanta Falcons (18)

Just cancel fantasy football season already.

23. Washington Redskins (23)

President Obama also thinks they should consider changing their defense.

22. Buffalo Bills (20)

Starting a quarterback from Duke cannot possibly lead to moving further up this list.

21. Houston Texans (16)

Since it will almost certainly be asked, it CAN get worse. It’s just hard to imagine it will.

20. Philadelphia Eagles (22)

Can only play the Giants twice a season unfortunately.

19. New York Jets (25)

I know they’re 3-2, I just can’t believe they’ll be 6-4 in five weeks.

18. Tennessee Titans (11)

You wouldn’t wish Ryan Fitzpatrick upon anyone.

17. Dallas Cowboys (17)

It’s enough to make you think they’ll be okay in that division.

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Top 10 Baseball Distractions

Posted on 21 May 2013 by Glenn Clark

Honorable Mention: Golf-PGA Tour Crowne Plaza Invitational at Colonial (Thursday & Friday 3pm live on Golf Channel Saturday & Sunday 1pm live on Golf Channel 3pm live on CBS. All golf from Ft. Worth, TX), Champions Tour Senior PGA Championship (Thursday & Friday 12pm live on Golf Channel Saturday & Sunday 3pm live on NBC. All golf from St. Louis), Bahamas LPGA Classic (Thursday & Friday 6:30pm Saturday & Sunday 3pm from Paradise Island, Bahamas live on Golf Channel); Boxing: Carl Froch vs. Mikkel Kessler (Saturday 6pm from London live on HBO); WNBA: Washington Mystics @ Tulsa Shock (Monday 3pm from Tulsa live on ESPN2); High School Lacrosse: MPSSAA Championship Games-1A/2A Final: Patterson Mill vs. Fallston (Tuesday 6pm UMBC Stadium), 2A/3A Final: Glenelg vs. Hereford (Wednesday 4pm UMBC Stadium), 3A/4A Final: South River vs. Westminster (Wednesday 8pm UMBC Stadium)

10. 10 Years (Thursday 7:30pm Rams Head Live); 10,000 Maniacs (Wednesday & Thursday 8pm Rams Head on Stage); Korn (Tuesday 8pm Fillmore Silver Spring), Kelly Rowland & The Dream (Sunday 8pm Fillmore Silver Spring); Macy Gray (Thursday 7:30pm Birchmere); SWV (Friday 8pm Howard Theatre); Lonestar (Wednesday 8pm Strathmore); Trey Anastasio (Wednesday 8pm Kennedy Center); Shooter Jennings (Thursday 8pm State Theatre); Kenny Chesney/Eric Church/Eli Young Band (Saturday 5pm FedEx Field); Delfest feat. Del McCoury Band, Old Crow Medicine Show, Jerry Douglas, Carolina Chocolate Drops (Thursday-Sunday Allegany County Fairgrounds); Daft Punk “Random Access Memories”, Darius Rucker “True Believers” and 30 Seconds to Mars “LOVE LUST FAITH + DREAMS” available in stores/on iTunes (Tuesday)

As far as country music goes, Eric Church ain’t too bad.

There’s so much I’d like to see at Delfest. I hope you know how great Jerry Douglas is.

Or how great Carolina Chocolate Drops are.

Lot of people who want to prove how cool they are have been trashing Darius’ version of “Wagon Wheel.” Not among that group of people, the band that first turned Bob Dylan’s half song into a full song.

9. Greg Proops (Tuesday 8pm DC Improv), Godfrey (Thursday-Sunday DC Improv); Chris Hardwick (Saturday 6pm 9:30 Club); The Hangover Part III“, “Epic” and “Fast & Furious 6” out in theaters (Friday); Parker” available on Blu-Ray/DVD (Tuesday); Brew At The Zoo (Saturday & Sunday Maryland Zoo in Baltimore); Arrested Development Season 4” debuts (Sunday 3am Netflix)

It’s kinda hard to remember just how great “The Hangover” ever was at this point. I THINK I’ll end up seeing the new one, but I’m not promising.

Also, you’ll be watching this video until 3am Sunday…

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Reed leaves Houston without contract in hand

Posted on 15 March 2013 by Luke Jones

After looking like signing a deal with the Texans was imminent after a two-day visit, Ravens free-agent safety Ed Reed did what he’s done on a number of occasions the last few offseasons by throwing everyone a curveball.

Instead of completing a deal with Houston as many expected, Reed left the city without an agreement in place. A deal isn’t expected on Friday, but the Texans remain optimistic in signing the veteran defensive back, according to multiple outlets.

Negotiations will continue through the weekend, but the 34-year-old left Houston without a contract in hand after the Texans wined and dined Reed on Thursday. According to the NFL Network, Reed spent roughly 4 1/2 hours at the team’s offices at Reliant Stadium on Friday before leaving the building without an agreement.

Meetings were described as positive and this doesn’t mean the safety won’t still sign with the Texans, but a full-court press was made by the organization to entice Reed to sign a contract before he’d return to his home city of Atlanta. After his six-year, $44.4 million contract officially expired on Tuesday, Reed began his free-agent tour on Thursday by meeting with Texans officials and even defensive coordinator Wade Phillips before spending the night in Houston.

Meanwhile, USA Today reported Friday afternoon that the Ravens and general manager Ozzie Newsome remained in contact with Reed throughout his visit with the Texans.

The Texans rolled out the red carpet for the nine-time Pro Bowl safety as the organization announced general manager Rick Smith was on his way to pick up Reed in owner Bob McNair’s private jet. Reports suggest the Texans have been hot after Reed’s services since the start of free agency on Tuesday afternoon.

“Both of us are contenders and want to get a championship, but we still have some things to work out,” Reed said to reporters upon landing in Houston. “Conversations have been great, amazing. We’re on the same page as far as what we need to get done.”

Despite dealing with a chronic nerve impingement as well as a torn labrum in his shoulder, Reed was one of only two players to make all 16 starts for the Baltimore defense and collected four interceptions and 58 tackles in the 2012 regular season. The ball-hawking safety also intercepted San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick in the Ravens’ 34-31 win in Super Bowl XLVII.

Reed hired David Dunn to be his agent recently and has remained hopeful he would remain with the Ravens.

The 34-year-old acknowledged Houston’s close proximity with family living in his home state of Louisiana was a major selling point for his interest in joining the Texans. Reed spoke of the Ravens and Baltimore on Thursday much like a man who was moving on.

“It’s been a great ride,” Reed said in Houston. “The fan support has been truly amazing, a lot of love and a lot of blood, sweat and tears. It’s definitely tough, but after 11 years, you pretty much understand things about the business.”

Visiting Houston is an obvious sign that Reed could be the next Baltimore defensive player to exit this offseason, but the 2004 NFL Defensive Player of the Year also needs to establish a market for himself and determine whether the grass is greener on the other side in joining a new team for what will be his 12th professional season.

The situation has been compared to Ray Lewis’ flirtation with free agency following the 2008 season, but in this case, the Ravens have sent a clear message they’re essentially starting over on defense after the exits of Ray Lewis, Dannell Ellerbe, Bernard Pollard, Cary Williams, and Paul Kruger. The organization will depend on defensive tackle Haloti Ngata, linebacker Terrell Suggs, and cornerback Lardarius Webb — three of the highest-paid players on the team — to be the pillars of a defensive unit clearly in transition.

It remains to be seen whether Reed will be included in those plans — regardless of the cost.

But, for now, Reed remains without a home after looking like his trip to Houston would result in his official departure from the Ravens.

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Your Monday Reality Check: Protecting Flacco most important for Ravens to tackle

Posted on 25 February 2013 by Glenn Clark

INDIANAPOLIS — Nestor Aparicio and I did a little bit of everything during our weekend at the NFL Scouting Combine.

We had fantastic sit downs with NFL coaches like the Bengals’ Marvin Lewis and the Falcons’ Mike Smith. We debated the merits of what’s next for the Ravens with top NFL analysts like CBS Sports’ Jason La Canfora and NFL Network’s Albert Breer. We had private chats with Ravens executives, who stopped celebrating a Super Bowl XLVII victory awhile ago and are very hard at work in shaping the next Super Bowl team. We rubbed elbows (and I assure you I did so in the most insufferable way possible) with football royalty at Indy hotspots like the world famous St. Elmo steakhouse. We braved the throngs of reporters who wanted to talk to controversial future NFL players like former Notre Dame LB Manti Te’o and former LSU CB Tyrann Mathieu.

At the end of the weekend, I found one of my Baltimore Ravens-related opinions to have been solidified if not further strengthened.

The question of “what’s the most important thing the Ravens need to address this offseason?” is rhetorical. While Super Bowl MVP QB Joe Flacco is indeed an unrestricted free agent and in need of a contract, the Ravens aren’t debating the future of the QB position. They have their guy. Flacco will be under center (provided he’s healthy) when the Ravens open the season Thursday, September 5 at M&T Bank Stadium. They don’t need to address the QB position, they need to address the QB’s contract. It will either get done before next weekend and the Ravens won’t have to tag him or they’ll tag him and it will get done later in the offseason.

There isn’t actually a discussion about the future of the quarterback. The point is moot. Joe Flacco isn’t really the biggest issue for the Ravens this offseason because they already have an unequivocal answer at the position moving forward.

Therefore, when you ask the question there’s only one legitimate answer. The Baltimore Ravens MUST address left tackle before they do anything else this offseason.

There’s an odd roadmap to a bad scenario for the Ravens this offseason. LT Bryant McKinnie is an unrestricted free agent, coming off a turbulent season that included conditioning concerns, not showing up for Training Camp on time, having his salary cut right before the deadline to get a guaranteed contract, getting hurt but then ultimately being reinserted into the Offensive Line just in time to drastically change the trajectory of the Ravens’ O-Line and help lead the team to only their second Super Bowl title.

McKinnie has said he would like to return and has said that John Harbaugh told him after the Super Bowl he wanted him back. If the Ravens are indeed comfortable with McKinnie’s return and are able to work out the details financially, this scenario makes the most sense. It doesn’t address the position long term as McKinnie will turn 34 early in the season, but it goes a long way in establishing pass protection for a quarterback you’re investing an extraordinary amount of money in-and a quarterback that needs an amount of protection a bit different than your typical NFL quarterback.
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Ravens projected to have plenty of draft choices in April

Posted on 21 February 2013 by Luke Jones

The Ravens are taking an extensive look at the incoming draft class at this week’s NFL scouting combine in Indianapolis and are in position to make their greatest number of choices in recent memory with 11 draft picks.

Baltimore is scheduled to make seven draft selections — one in each round — and will have the 32nd, 62nd, and 94th overall picks through the first three rounds. However, the Ravens are expected to be awarded four compensatory picks — the maximum number — based on last year’s offseason in which they lost a plethora of unrestricted free agents including guard Ben Grubbs, linebacker Jarret Johnson, defensive end Cory Redding, safeties Haruki Nakamura and Tom Zbikowski, and defensive tackle Brandon McKinney.

Compensatory picks for the 32 teams will be officially announced next month, which will determine the order of picks in the remaining rounds. These selections cannot be traded and are slotted beginning at the end of the third round and running through the seventh round.

Though these picks cannot be dealt, they do provide extra collateral for teams to be more aggressive in dealing their regular selections to move up the draft board for a coveted player. The Ravens’ draft history suggests a distinct aggressiveness to move out of their slotted picks, a likely occurrence this year considering they are picking so late in each round as the Super Bowl champions and have such a high overall number of selections.

Baltimore has drafted eight players in each of the last two drafts and general manager Ozzie Newsome has traded out of the first round in two of the last three years.

If the Ravens were to make all 11 selections in April’s draft, it would be the most of the John Harbaugh era, topping the 10 draft choices made in 2008. The only time in franchise history in which the Ravens drafted 11 players occurred in 2003 and the most they’ve ever selected in a single draft was 12 in 1997.

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Business about to pick up as Ravens brass travels to NFL scouting combine

Posted on 20 February 2013 by Luke Jones

After only a couple weeks to set offseason priorities and plans following their win in Super Bowl XLVII, the Ravens realize business is about to pick up as the shapers of the organization travel to Indianapolis for the NFL’s scouting combine.

Most teams will be focused primarily on scouting the incoming rookie class ahead of April’s draft and holding informal discussions — don’t dare call these talks tampering, however — with the agents of soon-to-be free agents, but the Ravens hold the clearest and most important task of any team in Indianapolis. General manager Ozzie Newsome and vice president of football administration Pat Moriarty are set to meet with quarterback Joe Flacco’s agent for their first contract negotiations since last August. Joe Linta has expressed a desire for his client to become the highest-paid quarterback in the league and is reportedly seeking upwards of $20 million per season.

As unlikely as it is that the sides come to an agreement on a long-term contract this weekend in Indianapolis, it will be important to see progress made from the point where talks broke down prior to last season. The first real deadline on which to be focused is March 4, the last day the Ravens are allowed to place the franchise tag on Flacco for the 2013 season. Should the Ravens be forced to use the $14.6 non-exclusive tag or the exclusive one estimated to cost $20 million or more for a one-year tender, they will be faced with making a number of roster cuts to be in compliance with the salary cap by the start of the new league year on March 12.

While Flacco’s side is likely willing to be creative in structuring a deal to quell cap concerns for the 2013 season, Linta made it clear a couple weeks ago that it’s not his client’s obligation to take a hometown discount to bail the Ravens out of trouble.

“There are a lot of teams in the same boat; the Ravens aren’t the only ones with cap problems,” Linta said on AM 1570 WNST.net earlier this month. “Whether it’s Joe or any of the other free agents who are upcoming, they have to figure out how to do it. Every time you’re a cap manager like Ozzie and Pat are, you have to come up with a puzzle that works for you.”

As Moriarty’s focus will largely be on making substantial strides in order to lock up the Super Bowl MVP for the long haul, the rest of the organization will be consumed with 40-yard dash times, bench-press reps, medical exams, and interviews with countless draft prospects. And considering their tenuous cap position and how it will hinder their ability to be overly active in free agency, the Ravens will depend on April’s draft as much as ever to replenish the voids left by departing members of their Super Bowl championship team.

Te’o talk

No draft prospect will be under more scrutiny in the coming days than Notre Dame linebacker Manti Te’o, who claimed to be the victim of an online hoax that’s drawn an overwhelming amount of attention for the better part of a month. He will be peppered with questions about the story of his nonexistent girlfriend and must test well to put himself back in position to be a top-15 pick.

It’s no secret that the Ravens will be looking at the inside linebacker position due to the retirement of future Hall of Famer Ray Lewis, the uncertain status of free-agent linebacker Dannell Ellerbe, and the health of Jameel McClain after he suffered a spinal cord contusion in December. Te’o has been deemed a logical fit by many draft analysts who have linked him to the Ravens at the 32nd overall pick in mock drafts. It is believed that the Ravens are impressed with the 255-pound linebacker’s ability despite his poor showing in the BCS national championship game against Alabama last month.

As is the case with any player dealing with off-field issues, it’s critical for teams to draw a definitive assessment of his ability on the field before even contemplating taking the time and resources to investigate whether they can tolerate the baggage that will accompany Te’o. His is an unprecedented case as issues of trust and whether the young linebacker will be resilient enough to deal with the intense scrutiny in the months and years to come must be strongly considered.

If the Ravens are convinced the Heisman Trophy runner-up is fast enough to go sideline to sideline — his 40 time will be a major point of interest for teams — and strong enough to take on offensive linemen in the NFL, they will do their homework on his character to determine whether he’s a realistic option at the No. 32 spot. If not, they will turn to other prospects at the position.

Another inside linebacker dealing with off-field baggage is Georgia’s Alec Ogletree, who was arrested earlier this month for DUI. Ogletree excelled at a number of positions for the Bulldogs and is considered exceptional in pass coverage, but his off-field issues — he was also suspended four games last season for failing a drug test during spring practice — may send him down the draft board, making him a possibility at the end of the first round. The questions associated with Te’o and Ogletree may benefit the Ravens, who would have figured to have no chance for either player under regular circumstances.

Other inside linebacker prospects that could be options in the first few rounds include LSU’s Kevin Minter, Oregon’s Kiko Alonso, and Alabama’s Nico Johnson, who will not participate at the combine after undergoing sports hernia surgery following the Senior Bowl.

Addressing the blind side

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Top 10 Baseball Distractions

Posted on 16 February 2013 by Glenn Clark

Honorable Mention: NBA-Toronto Raptors @ Washington Wizards (Tuesday 7pm from Verizon Center live on Comcast SportsNet), Denver Nuggets @ Washington Wizards (Friday 7pm from Verizon Center live on Comcast SportsNet), Houston Rockets @ Washington Wizards (Saturday 7pm from Verizon Center live on Comcast SportsNet), Washington Wizards @ Toronto Raptors (Monday 7pm from Toronto live on Comcast SportsNet); Soccer: MISL Milwaukee Wave @ Baltimore Blast (Saturday 7:35pm 1st Mariner Arena), Team USA U-20 vs. Costa Rica (Friday 6:30pm from Puebla, Mexico live on Fox Soccer Channel); Boxing: Friday Night Fights-Lamont Peterson vs. Kendall Holt (Friday 5pm DC Armory); ShoBox: Art Hovhannisyan vs. Alejandro Perez (Friday 11pm from Cabazon, CA live on Showtime), Cornelius Bundrage vs. Ishe Smith (Saturday 9pm from Detroit live on Showtime); Vyacheslav Glazkov vs. Malik Scott (Saturday 10:30pm from Huntington, NY live on NBC Sports Network); Women’s College Basketball: Duke @ Maryland (Sunday 3pm from Comcast Center live on ESPN2); Tennis: ATP Tour U.S. National Indoor Tennis Championships (Saturday 1pm & 4pm Sunday 4pm live on Tennis Channel)

10. Shinedown/P.O.D./Three Days Grace (Tuesday 7pm 1st Mariner Arena); Dirty Heads/Shiny Toy Guns (Wednesday 8pm Rams Head Live), Wale (Thursday 9pm Rams Head Live); Imagine Dragons (Friday 8pm Fillmore Silver Spring); Matisyahu (Tuesday 8pm Rams Head on Stage); Matchbox Twenty (Monday 8pm Modell Performing Arts Center at The Lyric); Robert Randolph Presents: The Slide Brothers available in stores/on iTunes (Tuesday)

Shinedown is that band you’ve always liked but never fully admitted to it…

I could listen to Wale’s first full record on repeat for like a week straight.

Imagine Dragons not only does one of your favorite songs but also MY favorite song from Madden 13…

I will sign up for ANY amount of more Robert Randolph.

9. Joel McHale (Sunday 7:30pm Towson Center); Eddie Griffin (Friday & Saturday Magooby’s Joke House); “Argo” available on Blu-Ray/DVD (Tuesday); “Snitch” out in theaters (Friday); Baltimore Winter Wine Celebration (Friday-Monday); “The Gathering” (Saturday 3pm The Castle at Keswick Hampden)

I saw Joel McHale after Preakness a few years ago. He was LEGITIMATELY funny. Also there’s this.

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The Five Plays That Determined The Game: Ravens/Colts

Posted on 08 January 2013 by Glenn Clark

Following every Baltimore Ravens game this season, Ryan Chell and I will take to the airwaves Tuesdays on “The Reality Check” on AM1570 WNST.net with a segment known as “The Five Plays That Determined The Game.”

It’s a simple concept. We’ll select five plays from each game that determined the outcome. These five plays will best represent why the Ravens won or lost each game.

This will be our final analysis of the previous game before switching gears towards the next game on the schedule.

Here are the five plays that determined the Ravens’ 24-9 win over the Indianapolis Colts Sunday at M&T Bank Stadium in an AFC Wild Card playoff game…

(Note: not all pictures are always of actual play)

Glenn Clark’s Plays…

5. Pernell McPhee recovers Andrew Luck fumble after Paul Kruger sack, strip (1st quarter)

4. Anquan Boldin 46 yard catch from Joe Flacco (3rd quarter)

3. Cary Williams intercepts Andrew Luck pass intended for Reggie Wayne, returns 41 yards (4th quarter)

2. Ray Rice 47 yard catch from Joe Flacco (2nd quarter)

1. Bernard Pierce 43 yard run on 3rd & 1 (4th quarter)

 

(Ryan’s Plays on Page 2…)

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Pierce’s physical style ideal fit for January football

Posted on 07 January 2013 by Luke Jones

OWINGS MILLS, Md. — The Ravens pride themselves on being built for December and January when the elements sour and teams must rely more heavily on their running game.

But they may not have anticipated rookie running back Bernard Pierce carrying such a substantial workload as the third-round pick from Temple starred in Sunday’s wild-card playoff win over the Indianapolis Colts. Pierce ran for 103 yards on 13 carries with 43 yards coming on one fourth-quarter run to set the Ravens up in the red zone before scoring their final touchdown.

According to Pro Football Focus, the rookie broke five tackles to average 3.77 yards after contact per attempt. In contrast, Pro Bowl running back Ray Rice gained 70 yards on 15 carries but broke only two tackles and gained 2.47 yards after contact per attempt.

However, the 22-year-old understudy remains grounded over his increasing role within the offense despite leading the Ravens in rushing in each of the last three games.

“Maybe two games — Ray didn’t play [much against Cincinnati in Week 17],” Pierce said. “But it’s a definite confidence booster, because I just want to be able to keep getting better week in and week out, and I’ve proven that to myself and everybody else.”

In wins over the New York Giants in Week 16 and Indianapolis on Sunday, the Ravens have used the running game to wear down the opposing front seven, with Pierce playing a major role in doing so. In his last five games, Pierce has rushed for 388 yards on 62 attempts, which is good for just under 6.3 yards per carry.

Over that same stretch, Rice has gained 341 yards on 74 carries, averaging 4.6 yards per attempt.

“We think we have two good guys that can play,” coach John Harbaugh said. “We like both of those guys in that situation. Bernard has earned the right to be in on those kind of situations. I like both of our backs a lot.”

While no one should question Rice’s standing in the offense, Pierce’s physical nature appears to be paying dividends against opposing fronts. Rice will continue to see plenty of touches both as a runner and as a receiver out of the backfield, but Pierce has shown the type of vision and power to warrant a heavy workload through the remainder of the postseason.

And with the thin air and cold temperature of Denver playing major roles in Saturday’s divisional meeting with the Denver Broncos, the Ravens will likely use a similar plan to the one used against the Giants and Colts when Rice and Pierce shared carries more evenly.

“The fact that the altitude is probably going to be a factor as far as guys who are carrying the ball getting gassed, those two guys are going to take care of each other,” Harbaugh said. “That’s something we’ve been building on.”

Mile High state of mind

Traveling to Denver for the first time in the Harbaugh era, the Ravens have examined every possibility in order to offset the challenge of playing at such a high altitude.

Unlike a regular West Coast trip when teams typically leave a day earlier than a normal trip, the Ravens will depart for Denver the evening before the game. Some studies indicate the human body typically has a 24-hour period before diving into an adaptation mode, which includes a thickening of the blood. Adjusting to a higher altitude typically takes three weeks or more, so leaving a day earlier than normal wouldn’t figure to offer any notable benefit, especially when it’s a shorter week to begin with.

“We have a plan for that. We’re going to go out there the night before,” Harbaugh said. “We feel like that’s the best way to do to try to stay within a 24-hour window in the altitude. We’ve got some other advice for our guys in order to take care of their bodies out there and be ready to go.”

There are only so many measures teams can take, but optimum conditioning will play a major role in dealing with the thin air at Sports Authority Field at Mile High.

“I think our team is in very good shape,” Harbaugh said. “I think we’re physically going to be able to handle it.”

Infirmary report

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