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Another Week of Pro Timing Days as Draft Season Continues

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Another Week of Pro Timing Days as Draft Season Continues

Posted on 24 March 2011 by Glenn Clark

There’s still no labor peace in the NFL, but NFL Draft season continues on as we inch closer and closer to Radio City Music Hall in New York at the end of April.

This week featured another round of Pro Timing Days, including a controversial stop at Georgia’s Pro Timing Day in Athens, where league scouts were forced to watch WR AJ Green workout on TV screens due a strange rule surrounding the lockout.

Since Green will be off the board before the Ravens select at 26th, I won’t bore you with further details.

Before I continue, I remind you of the players we have already profiled during Draft season.

QB-Ricky Dobbs (Navy), Pat Devlin (Delaware), Colin Kaepernick (Nevada), Josh Portis (California-Pennsylvania), Taylor Potts (Texas Tech), Christian Ponder (Florida State), Tyrod Taylor (Virginia Tech), Jake Locker (Washington), Greg McElroy (Alabama), Andy Dalton (TCU)
FB
-Anthony Sherman (Connecticut), Owen Marecic (Stanford)
RB
-Evan Royster (Penn State), Da’Rel Scott (Maryland), DeMarco Murray (Oklahoma), Damien Berry (Miami), Kendall Hunter (Oklahoma State), Roy Helu Jr. (Nebraska), Alex Green (Hawaii), Shane Vereen (Cal), Jordan Todman (Connecticut), Dion Lewis (Pitt), Jacquizz Rodgers (Oregon State), Mark Ingram (Alabama)
WR
-Lester Jean (Florida Atlantic), Terrence Toliver (LSU), Leonard Hankerson (Miami), Austin Pettis (Boise State), Denarius Moore (Tennessee), Owen Spencer (North Carolina State), Jock Sanders (West Virginia), Titus Young (Boise State), Vincent Brown (San Diego State), Ryan Whalen (Stanford), Torrey Smith (Maryland), Randall Cobb (Kentucky), Jon Baldwin (Pittsburgh), Greg Salas (Hawaii), Cecil Shorts III (Mount Union), Jerrel Jernigan (Troy), Niles Paul (Nebraska)
TE-Will Yeatman (Maryland)
OT
-Matthew O’Donnell (Queens University Canada), Gabe Carimi (Wisconsin), Nate Solder (Colorado), Anthony Costanzo (Boston College), Joseph Barksdale (LSU), Derek Sherrod (Mississippi State)
G-Danny Watkins (Baylor)
C-Zane Taylor (Utah), Kris O’Dowd (Southern Cal), Rodney Hudson (Florida State)
DE
-Justin Trattou (Florida), Allen Bailey (Miami), Eddie Jones (Texas), Ryan Kerrigan (Purdue), Brooks Reed (Arizona), Cliff Matthews (South Carolina), JJ Watt (Wisconsin), Cameron Heyward (Ohio State), Dontay Moch (Nevada), D’Aundre Reed (Arizona)
LB
-Mark Herzlich (Boston College), Casey Matthews (Oregon), Adrian Moten (Maryland), Nate Irving (NC State), Colin McCarthy (Miami), Martez Wilson (Illinois), Kelvin Sheppard (Louisiana State), 
S
-Jermale Hines (Ohio State), Jaiquawn Jarrett (Temple), Maurice Rolle (Louisiana-Lafayette), Rahim Moore (UCLA), Ahmad Black (Florida)
CB-Anthony Gaitor (Florida International), Aaron Williams (Texas), Jalil Brown (Colorado), Jimmy Smith (Colorado), DeMarcus Van Dyke (Miami), Brandon Harris (Miami)

If you missed any of those profiles, you can check them out in the archives here at WNST.net.

Part 1-A look at players who participated in the East West Shrine Game in Orlando, Florida
Part 2-A look at players who participated in the Senior Bowl in Mobile, Alabama
Part 3-A look at players who participated in the NFLPA Game (former Texas vs. The Nation Game) in San Antonio, Texas
Parts 456-Previews of players ahead of the NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis
Part 7-A look back at players who made in impact at the National Football League Scouting Combine at LucasOil Stadium
Part 8-A look at players who participated in the first week of Pro Timing Days

The Baltimore Ravens made no personnel changes this week, so my team needs remain the same…

1. Defensive End
2. Offensive Tackle
3. Wide Receiver
4. Cornerback
5. Fullback
6. Inside Linebacker
7. Safety
8. Center
9. Running Back
10. Quarterback

Here are ten more prospects whose schools have already held their Pro Timing Days.

Thanks to CBSSports.com/NFLDraftScout.com, NFLDraftBible.com, WNST.net (The AP), ESPN.com, Wikipedia, YouTube and various official athletic websites for helping to put together the profiles.

DE Aldon Smith (Missouri)

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BBee49viSK8[/youtube]

There was a time when the former Mizzou pass rusher was believed to be available for the Ravens at 26.

As Draft season has continued, that can no longer be considered a certainty.

Smith is a 6’4″, 263 pound beast who combined for 17 sacks over the last two seasons for the Tigers despite missing three games last season with a broken leg.

Smith played just those two seasons in Columbia, opting to depart after his redshirt sophomore season for the Draft.

There’s plenty to like about Smith. He ran a 4.74 in the 40 yard dash while in Indy, and has shown his versatility in different defenses. His wingspan was measured at an astounding 84 inches.

He also told reporters at Pro Day he can do a standing backflip-but we haven’t seen that yet.

The Ravens have scheduled a workout with Smith and will find themselves in an interesting position should he be available at 26. He’s clearly a talent, but he’s probably still a bit of a project at this point.

The Ravens desperately need a pass rusher on the edge. The demise of Trevor Pryce has left them in a bad spot. If they think the presence of Smith can generate a better rush (along with LB Terrell Suggs), he’d almost certainly be on his way to Charm City.

C Brandon Fusco (Slippery Rock)

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_-oyDfPkV-A[/youtube]

Quick-does anyone know where Slippery Rock is located?

If you said Butler County, Pennsylvania you’re a big winner.

A four year starter for The Rock, Fusco has been a steady riser throughout his career and now into Draft season.

He’s a 6’4″, 316 pound solid player who has shown off his athleticism after moving from tackle to center. He even made a catch (for nine yards) during his senior season.

The Ravens will be looking for center depth in the Draft. Matt Birk has said he’ll come back this season, but they’ll have to work with the expectation that Birk could be entering his final season. Chris Chester is still in the mix (he’s expected to be back as a restricted free agent), but is likely better served at guard than moving back to center.

It’s not a very deep draft at the position, but Fusco could be an option in the later rounds. He put together a solid Pro Day (although it was held at Lehigh) and has likely guaranteed himself a Saturday selection.

CB Ras-I Dowling (Virginia)

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QwYM_5uJ0MY[/youtube]

In one sentence, I think Dowling would be labeled as “obvious talent with obvious injury issues.”

Dowling is an impressive 6’1″, 198 pound corner who posted eight interceptions, three forced fumbles and a sack over his first three seasons with the Cavaliers. He posted an impressive 4.40 40 at the Combine.

Unfortunately, Dowling played in just three games during his senior campaign in Charlottesville, as he battled a broken left ankle, right knee issues and a lingering hamstring problem.

After all of that, he pulled up with another hamstring issue during the Combine.

Yikes.

Dowling actually WASN’T able to participate in the Wahoos’ Pro Day due to his injuries, he’ll instead delay until April 3rd-when he’ll hold his own individual Pro Day.

Cornerback is an issue for the Ravens. Chris Carr, Josh Wilson and Fabian Washington are unrestricted free agents. Domonique Foxworth is coming off a torn ACL.

They’ll have to address the problem somehow, whether in the Draft or later.

Dowling will be intriguing. He was an arguable first round talent a year ago. He’s clearly no longer a first round guy. But how soon would a team like the Ravens be willing to consider snapping him up to join Chuck Pagano’s defense? That much we don’t know yet.

DT Muhammad Wilkerson (Temple)

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3Q8TQg6uoSg[/youtube]

It has been a bit puzzling to keep seeing Wilkerson’s name linked to the Ravens in mock drafts.

The reality is that the Ravens have an anchor in the middle of their defensive line (Haloti Ngata) and have plenty of depth behind him at the position (Terrence Cody, Brandon McKinney, Lamar Divens, Kelly Talavou, Arthur Jones).

This could really test General Manager Ozzie Newsome’s steadfast “best player available” policy in the Draft. National Football Post reported the team will work out the former Owls big man this week, and could face a serious decision should he be available at 26.

On paper, Wilkerson LOOKS like a Raven. He measured in at 6’4″, 315 pounds in Indianapolis and tallied 10 sacks from the interior in 2010.

He doesn’t appear to be the type of player who could move to the outside and become a natural rush end, but the Ravens could certainly benefit from having another player on the field who is capable of pressuring opposing quarterbacks.

Wilkerson stood on most of his Combine numbers, posting only a 29 inch vertical at his Pro Day in Philadelphia.

He’s a late first round/early second round type of player. The only question will be whether or not he’s a true fit for a Ravens team that doesn’t really have a need for him.

QB Jeremiah Masoli (Mississippi)

masoli

In draft season, he’s been known as Jeremiah “Red Flag” Masoli.

We all know the history of Masoli’s transgressions.

In 2005, Masoli was forced to spend time in juvenile hall for his participation in a robbery. After transferring from City College of San Francisco to Oregon in 2008, Masoli kept his nose clean for a short time. That came to a halt when plead guilty to second degree burglary in March 2010. After a later arrest for marijuana possession in 2010, Masoli was dismissed by Ducks coach Chip Kelly but managed to catch on at Ole Miss.

Beyond his transgressions, Masoli showed himself capable of being a solid player at times. In three years of playing time, Masoli put up 5,930 yards passing and threw for 42 TD’s. He also ran for 1,930 yards and 29 TD’s. At his Pro Day this week in Oxford he worked out as both a quarterback and as a running back, with the thought being that teams could choose to use him as a Wildcat option at the next level.

The Ravens have historically (mostly) stayed away from players like Masoli. But after cutting Troy Smith following the 2010 Training Camp, they were left without a mobile QB on the roster-and had to use position players in practice to replicate opposing mobile QB’s. It would be safe to assume they’d like to get a mobile QB on the roster somehow.

It’s also no guarantee that Masoli gets drafted at all. In fact, the chances are probably no greater than 50-50 at best. The likelihood of Head Coach John Harbaugh considering a player like Masoli would go up if the team could add him as an undrafted free agent instead of using a pick on him.

Of course, UFA’s can’t be signed this year until a new labor deal is in place-but let’s worry about that another day.

My guess is that Masoli doesn’t end up in Purple and Black…but he’s certainly an interesting player to discuss between now and the end of April.

DE Adrian Clayborn (Iowa)

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EbXmQTn_D7w[/youtube]

The Ravens had an obvious presence at the Hawkeyes’ Pro Day in Iowa City, giving additional evidence that the team is legitimately considering using an early pick on the Clayborn to bolster their D-Line.

Clayborn is an impressive 6’3″, 281 pound specimen who electrified the Big Ten with 63 tackles and 11 sacks in 2009. Those numbers dropped off in 2010, as the big man managed just 52 tackles and only four sacks. The drop-off was particularly alarming considering Clayborn did not miss any time due to injury.

Clayborn’s size and speed (4.78 40) as well as a solid week at the Senior Bowl have kept him in the conversation as a first round pick-perhaps a player who could go off the board even before the Ravens select at 26.

D-Line coach Clarence Brooks needs outside help. Clayborn certainly appears to be the type of player capable of creating pressure on his own. That might very well make him a perfect fit in Baltimore.

FB Shaun Chapas (Georgia)

chapas

AJ Green may have been the star of the Bulldogs’ Pro Day, but there were other players working out who were worth paying attention to as well.

Chapas could be intriguing to the Ravens whether or not FB Le’Ron McClain departs as an unrestricted free agent.

Chapas is a 6’2″, 247 pound bruiser who was clocked with a 4.87 40 time in Indianapolis. He’s not likely to be an explosive Chris Cooley-type of H-Back; but instead is expected to play a natural fullback role.

Offensive Coordinator Cam Cameron appears to be in the market for that exact type of player right now.

Making the case more compelling for Chapas, he received the types of honors during his time in Athens that the Ravens would like to see.

From GeorgiaDogs.com:

“At team’s annual awards Gala, earned team’s Coaches Leadership Award for Special Teams, the Leon Farmer Award for dedication to the strength and conditioning program and the David Jacobs Award as the player who by example portrays courage, spirit, character and determination.”

Sounds like someone Director of Player Personnel Eric DeCosta and company would be interested in if you ask me. As the Draft goes deeper into Saturday, he would almost have to be a consideration.

LB Alex Wujciak (Maryland)

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VxpcfXl-guo[/youtube]

I will admit that I was quite surprised when the former Terrapins standout did not receive an invite to the Combine.

He certainly did everything necessary during his ACC career to earn an invite. He tallied 354 tackles over three seasons in College Park, mixing in three forced fumbles, four interceptions and two touchdowns.

Wujciak certainly doesn’t lack the size (6’3″, 250 pounds) to play an Inside backer position at the next level. Teams might want him to be a bit quicker (his 40 time was 4.79), but he’s never appeared slow in coverage.

Wujciak comes from an athletic family, as his father (Alan Wujciak) was an OL for Notre Dame while his younger bother (Connor Wujciak) plays for Boston College.

At this point most projections have Wujciak as a late round pick at best. The Ravens need inside backer help. Dannell Ellerbe, Tavares Gooden and Jameel McClain have been not quite good enough to lock down a position and Ray Lewis is getting no younger.

Alex Wujciak is no Ray Lewis.

But he’s certainly deserving of an opportunity to prove himself at the next level.

(Wujciak joined Thyrl Nelson and myself last Thursday on “The Mobtown Sports Beat” on AM1570 WNST-you can hear the conversation in the BuyAToyota.com Audio Vault here at WNST.net.)

CB Richard Sherman (Stanford)

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fzm6HeFS2sE[/youtube]

Continuing the trend of “intriguing prospects”, there are few players in the Draft more intriguing than Sherman.

Fact: Sherman’s 6’3″, 195 pound frame and 4.54 (40) speed are solid if not ideal for a NFL CB prospect.

Other fact: Sherman has played corner for just two seasons in Palo Alto, and his skills (despite 6 interceptions in his Cardinal career) are still considered to be raw.

He’s going to be a later selection if he’s selected at all. The Ravens will have at least some familiarity with him as Harbaugh’s brother (Jim Harbaugh) coached him at Stanford before accepting the head coaching gig with the San Francisco 49ers.

He’s obviously not “the answer” for the Ravens secondary; but he could be a project worth taking a shot on as the Ravens will continue to face big receivers in the AFC North. The Cleveland Browns are expected to be in the market for the aforementioned Green, which would give the division one more matchup problem.

RB Ryan Williams (Virginia Tech)

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MGAQP1Rwsus[/youtube]

The Ravens are expected to part ways with RB Willis McGahee and Le’Ron McClain may be on the way out as well.

That would leave the team with just Ray Rice & Jalen Parmele (and Curtis Steele, Matt Lawrence and Jason McKie for what it’s worth) in their backfield.

They’re going to need to upgrade somehow.

Williams could very well be an option. His size is more similar to Rice (5’9″, 212 pounds) with pretty good speed (trimmed his 40 time down to 4.53 at his Pro Day in Blacksburg).

Williams had an explosive season in 2009 (1,655 yards rushing and 21 TD’s), but a hamstring injury cost him four games in 2010. His numbers were trimmed to 477 yards rushing and nine TD’s as he split time with fellow Hokies back Darren Evans.

The Ravens will have to pay extra close attention to the injury-but they’ll also have to determine if Williams would be a fit behind Rice. He’ll likely be a Friday night pick-and might end up coming off the board to early to be the choice in Baltimore.

Flexing my mic muscles since 1983…

-G

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Ranking The Ravens: A Postseason Breakdown of 53(+) Man Roster

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Ranking The Ravens: A Postseason Breakdown of 53(+) Man Roster

Posted on 21 January 2011 by Glenn Clark

In their new song, “Waiting For The End”, the band Linkin Park offered a lyric that should be considered particularly fitting for Baltimore Ravens fans.

The hardest part of ending is starting again…

With their 31-24 defeat at the hands of the Pittsburgh Steelers at Heinz Field in the AFC Divisional Round, the 2010-2011 NFL season has ended for the Ravens.

It didn’t take long for the team’s offseason to begin. Even with owners and players apparently headed towards a lockout, GM Ozzie Newsome, Director of Player Personnel Eric DeCosta, Senior Personnel Assistant George Kokinis and Director of College Scouting Joe Hortiz lead a front office hard at work in shaping what the 2011 Baltimore Ravens will look like…as long as there is a 2011 NFL season.

Members of the front office are already preparing for the NFL Draft, as they are scouting college seniors this week in Orlando at the East West Shrine Game. Next week they will be doing the same thing at the Senior Bowl in Mobile, AL.

As we enter the offseason, I’ll offer a variation of my preseason power rankings (you’ll remember my “Mocking the 53″ blogs) to review the team’s roster. This is a complicated review, as I factor in who had the best season, who has proved to a better player overall, the value of the position and contract status.

Players labeled as “UFA” are unrestricted free agents. Players labeled as “RFA” are restricted free agents. Players labeled as “ERFA” are exclusive rights free agents. Players labeled as “reserve/future” have reserve/future contracts.

Unique labeling on my part. I’m aware.

1. LB Terrell Suggs
2. DT Haloti Ngata (UFA)
3. RB Ray Rice
4. LB Ray Lewis
5. G Ben Grubbs

grubbs

While I said Tuesday Ngata was the team’s best player in 2010 (he also received my vote for/won the team’s Most Valuable Player award), his contract status leaves him second on the list.

Suggs was outstanding in 2010, proving his 2009 season was indeed a fluke after signing a big contract the proceeding offseason.

It is going to cost owner Steve Bisciotti a LOT of money to retain Ngata this offseason, but the Ravens are basically going to have to pay the price. Losing Ngata could absolutely WRECK the franchise’s plans defensively, as Ngata anchors what they do up front. It could only spell the end of Lewis’ career. If Ngata were to depart, Lewis could no longer be viewed as a Top 5 player on the roster for sure.

Rice’s fantasy football numbers were down in 2010, but his offensive impact certainly wasn’t. He remained the Ravens’ most dynamic playmaker and is expected to an offensive force for years to come.

It was interesting (for me) as I graded out players that I felt Grubbs was worthy of being a Top 5 player. Grubbs proved himself to be the team’s best and most reliable Offensive Lineman, and gives the team at least one more position they don’t have to worry about…for now.

6. WR Anquan Boldin
7. QB Joe Flacco
8. OT Michael Oher
9. K Billy Cundiff (UFA)
10. P Sam Koch (UFA)

koch

Everything at the receiver position has to be viewed as wide open right now…except for Boldin. He has to be viewed as the team’s top possession receiver no matter what Derrick Mason decides to do.

While Flacco is still a cornerstone for the franchise (and the suggestion made that the team should have him “compete” with Marc Bulger for the starting job is laughable), his move outside the Top 5 is a statement. He made SOME of the progress the team wanted him to make-but not all of it. There will be increasing pressure for that to happen next year.

Oher represents a tricky situation for the Ravens. While he struggled in 2010, he’s certainly not a BAD player. The team will have to figure out whether or not he has a long term future at LT. If he does (and he plays to that level), he’ll be a Top 5 player on this team for a long time.

Koch and Cundiff represent a unique problem for the team. During the 15 years of the team’s history, they’ve never been the type of organization that would spend a lot of money on a specialist. They’re going to have to pay two guys this offseason as top-tier specialists. These players were a SIGNIFICANT reason the team managed to win 12 regular season games and a playoff game this year.

11. TE Todd Heap
12. WR Derrick Mason
13. S Ed Reed
14. CB Domonique Foxworth
15. FB Le’Ron McClain (UFA)

mcclain

Heap, Mason and Reed are unique. If this list was based on ability and performance alone; there would be an argument they should all be in the Top 10. Their age leaves them on the outside looking in, as even if they return as expected the team will have to make decisions at their positions.

It might seem surprising that Foxworth is the highest ranked of the cornerbacks, but he was the team’s top guy before getting hurt and is the only guy (besides Lardarius Webb) in the group who actually has a contract.

The Ravens are in a VERY unique situation with McClain. He had a tremendous season at fullback; but doesn’t want to return as true fullback. To return, the two time Pro Bowler would have to be assured of more involvement in Cam Cameron’s offense. I’m not sure how likely that is.

16. CB Chris Carr (UFA)
17. LB Jarret Johnson
18. CB Lardarius Webb
19. CB Josh Wilson (UFA)
20. DE Cory Redding

redding

Carr had a great season and offered some legitimate stability to the team’s defensive backfield. That being said, there will be a question as to whether or not bringing him back will work monetarily. If he gets paid as a #1 corner, the Ravens might be in trouble. Wilson is in the same boat. The uncertainty surrounding those two corners helps Webb find himself ranked higher on the list.

My guess is that one of Carr and Wilson will be back, but not both.

Johnson and Redding are both solid contributors to the defense, and the Ravens can pencil them in for next season. They’ll need a healthier (or just somehow more effective) Johnson, and they’ll need to compliment Redding with a legitimate rush end.

21. S Dawan Landry (UFA)
22. WR TJ Houshmandzadeh (UFA)
23. TE Ed Dickson
24. DT Brandon McKinney
25. DT Kelly Gregg

kgregg

Like other players, the Ravens find themselves in a tricky spot when it comes to Landry. As a starter and solid contributor to one of the league’s better defenses over the last few years, Landry could find himself in position to make a lot of money on the free agent market. The Ravens may or may not be in a place to match that. He’s been good; but with restricted free agents Tom Zbikowski and Haruki Nakamura likely to return, it seems unlikely they would retain Landry at a high cost.

Houshmandzadeh almost seems to be in a “if Mason doesn’t come back” position. The Ravens can’t just retain all of their top three receivers and make progress offensively. If Mason retires, there would be a much greater likelihood of Houshmandzadeh returning.

Dickson showed signs of being a potential breakout performer in 2010, but never actually broke out. The team will look to expand his role as he continues to get more comfortable in the offense. He also represents the team’s best chance of limiting an aging Heap’s snaps in 2011.

It might look surprising at first to see McKinney listed ahead of a player like Gregg, but I think it represents an area where the Ravens can move forward. McKinney came on strong down the stretch, looking like a reliable cog on the defensive line. While Gregg made a fantastic play on Kansas City Chiefs RB Jamaal Charles in the AFC Wild Card playoff game at Arrowhead Stadium, he showed signs of aging as the season wore on, and it would be difficult to assume he could continue playing the majority of downs in the future.

26. OT Jared Gaither (UFA)
27. OL Marshal Yanda (UFA)
28. DT Terrence Cody
29. C Matt Birk
30. S Haruki Nakamura (RFA)

nakamura

My only gut instinct with Gaither is that the team won’t give him the type of premium price tag a top tier OT would probably expect. There’s an argument as to whether or not ANYONE should pay Gaither that price, but my guess is that someone will. The Ravens don’t want to see Yanda depart, but there’s a chance another NFL team will choose to offer him legitimate tackle money because he played the position in 2010.

The Ravens likely can’t be in position to overpay a player like Yanda, but they certainly to solidify their O-Line. Birk could still decide to retire; but even if he doesn’t the team has to make future plans for the position.

Cody showed SOME signs of being a future contributor during the 2010 season, but probably not enough that the Ravens can feel comfortable with expecting him to play every down in 2011. Nakamura could be very important, as he would be the most likely to step into the role should Landry depart in free agency.

31. RB Willis McGahee
32. DE Paul Kruger
33. LB Jameel McClain (RFA)
34. LB Tavares Gooden (RFA)
35. LB Dannell Ellerbe (ERFA)

ellerbe

I’m going to guess that McGahee won’t be getting the $19.7 million owed to him over the last three years of his contract. The most likely scenario probably involves McGahee not returning to Charm City next season. But if he’s willing to take a pay cut, there’s still a chance he could be a solid compliment to Rice behind an improved O-Line.

Paul Kruger started to show some signs at the end of the season that he might be able to contribute in the future. Unfortunately, that’s probably not the level of progression the team had in mind for the 2009 2nd round pick. 2011 could be a “make or break” type of year for Kruger.

And then there’s McClain/Gooden/Ellerbe. Does anyone else want to try to figure this out? The team clearly hoped one player in this group would separate themselves out at McDaniel College in Westminster during Training Camp in 2010, but that clearly didn’t happen. They also hoped one would separate themselves during the 2010 season. That didn’t happen either.

Of the group, McClain has probably shown himself to be the most steady, but is equally vulnerable against the pass. Gooden is probably the best against the pass, but there’s a joke in there about being the prettiest girl at fat camp. Ellerbe showed some capability of making plays in the backfield, but looks lost against the pass.

It looks like all three will end up returning in 2011. It also looks like the Ravens will be in a very familiar position when (if?) the season begins.

36. WR/KR David Reed
37. CB Fabian Washington (UFA)
38. S Tom Zbikowski (RFA)
39. LS Morgan Cox
40. OL Chris Chester (UFA)

chester

Whether or not David Reed can someday contribute at receiver is still to be determined. But he clearly came on as a kick returner until a concussion and a wrist injury cut his season short. He’ll have to stay out of trouble off the field, but it looks like the Ravens have a solid piece of the puzzle in Reed.

Washington made it clear earlier this week he wouldn’t return to the team unless his role was expanded. There’s a chance his role could be expanded if Carr and Wilson depart. Otherwise, it doesn’t look good. Zbikowski will almost certainly be back, the organization will now have to determine whether or not he is capable of replacing Ed Reed on a full-time basis whenever the future Hall of Famer walks away from the game.

Cox did a nice job of solidifying the long snapper position after beating veteran Matt Katula out during the preseason. The only concern surrounding Cox is how quickly he’ll be able to return from the torn ACL he suffered against the Cleveland Browns, but it appears as though he’ll be ready to go.

Chester will be another tough decision for the Ravens. If another team is willing to pay him to be an every down linemen, the organization will have to think hard before matching. Chester has shown himself as being reliable, but I think he’s only a starter in Baltimore if Yanda were to depart…or the Ravens were forced to keep Yanda at Tackle.

41. CB Cary Williams (ERFA)
42. OL Tony Moll (UFA)
43. LB Jason Phillips
44. QB Marc Bulger (UFA)
45. WR Donte’ Stallworth (UFA)

stallworth

Williams could be in a good spot this offseason. As an exclusive rights free agent, he could be in a good position to come back and get more playing time should some of the corners ahead of him sign elsewhere. He’s 6’1″, and the team liked him at least enough to hold on to him through a suspension to start the 2010 season.

Moll looks like a solid option to return and give the O-Line important depth. He’s capable of playing multiple positions to at least a solid level. He’s not good enough to be an every down player and it’s unlikely that another team will choose to pay him that way.

Phillips showed signs in 2010, probably enough that he will enter the 2011 season on the “good” side of the roster bubble. He certainly can’t be considered a lock at this point however.

Bulger will likely only return to the team if he isn’t offered a starting job elsewhere. With Jim Harbaugh now in charge of the San Francisco 49ers, it wouldn’t be stunning to see him consider Bulger. If the options are for backup jobs-or even jobs where Bulger would have to “compete” for a starting gig, it wouldn’t surprise me at all to see him return to Baltimore.

Some of the fan frustration surrounding Cam Cameron certainly centers around Stallworth, who seems unlikely to return. The Ravens need a speed receiver option, but it has to be a player they’ll trust to send out and stretch the field.

46. TE Dennis Pitta
47. LB Brendon Ayanbadejo
48. DT Arthur Jones
49. WR Marcus Smith (UFA)
50. DT Lamar Divens (RFA)

divens

The lack of involvement from Pitta in 2010 was disappointing, but he was often a victim of only being able to dress 53 players. His role should expand in 2011.

Ayanbadejo and Smith are interesting cases. Both are special teams players only for the most part, and the team will have to determine how much value they have. Smith is unlikely to generate much interest elsewhere, Ayanbadejo isn’t getting any younger. Both could return, but I don’t think they’re guarantees.

Jones and Divens are both solid players who have the “look” of Ravens defensive linemen. The only issue for new Defensive Coordinator Chuck Pagano is that he’s inheriting a bunch of these type of players. They’re big, they move fairly well and they can control gaps. Jones will clearly be back in 2011, Divens is the question mark.

51. LB Prescott Burgess (UFA)
52. RB Jalen Parmele (RFA)
53. OT Oniel Cousins (RFA)
54. WR James Hardy (reserve/future)

55. TE Davon Drew (ERFA)

ddrew

Burgess was a solid Special Teams contributor who was also able to get a handful of positive snaps defensively. There’s a chance he could generate interest elsewhere, we remember the New England Patriots grabbed him when he was available in 2009.

Parmele could stand to benefit from a McGahee departure, but probably wouldn’t be a great option as the top compliment to Rice.

Cousins gives the team a cheap reserve tackle. I can’t fathom anyone will be hot after him, so he seems like a player that will at least make it to Westminster with a chance to retain his job.

Hardy is interesting. He climbed the list after comments by Newsome in the team’s Season Review press conference. There was a reason Hardy was once a second round pick by the Buffalo Bills. There’s also a reason why he was unemployed a season ago. Either way, he’s 6’5″. The Ravens don’t have any other receivers of that size right now.

Davon Drew is the fourth of four TE’s on the roster. That would be a problem in a lot of places, but when the General Manager is a former Tight End, it bodes well for the chances of sticking around.

56. LB Sergio Kindle (ERFA)
57. DT Kelly Talavou (ERFA)
58. RB Matt Lawrence (RFA)
59. QB Hunter Cantwell (reserve/future)
60. WR Justin Harper (reserve/future)

harper

Kindle is such a question mark (as he continues to recover from a fractured skull) that it really doesn’t matter how much talent he might have. Until there’s reason to believe he’ll be able to return next season, he can’t be an assumed part of the 53 man roster.

If Talavou is able to come back healthy, he’s highly thought of by the organization. He could be the insurance that allows the team to let someone like Divens go elsewhere.

Lawrence is a good Special Teams player if he’s healthy. It will be an uphill battle for him to make the roster in Training Camp, especially after missing the entire 2010 season.

Cantwell is the team’s 3rd quarterback, but has only a cup of coffee worth of experience on an active roster with the Carolina Panthers in 2009. If the Ravens decided to go with three QB’s again, he’d have a decent chance to make the roster.

Harper is tall. Harper has only ever been on the active roster briefly. The team’s website apparently doesn’t know Harper wears number 82. That’s where we’re at with Harper.

61. OL Ramon Harewood
62.
OL Bryan Mattison (contract status unknown)
63. OL Daniel Sanders (contract status unknown)
64. RB Curtis Steele (reserve/future)
65. DE Albert McClellan (reserve/future)
66. CB Danny Gorrer (reserve/future)
67. OT Brady Bond (reserve/future)
68. OT Andre Ramsey (reserve/future)
69. LS Kevin Houser (UFA)

I’d provide a picture of Kevin Houser here, but even the team’s official site doesn’t have one.

If they all return (and are healthy); Harewood, Mattison and Sanders will compete to try to provide depth along the O-Line. Harewood could give the team an insurance policy if they choose to cut ties with Cousins, Sanders could prove to be the team’s center of the future when Birk hangs up the cleats. A local writer joked with me that Mattison had been “on scholarship” in recent seasons-that would probably come to an end now as his father (former Defensive Coordinator Greg Mattison) has departed for Michigan.

Steele has the look of a potential weapon at the next level. If he can work his way into the return game, he’d have a much better shot of making the roster.

McClellan is employed by the Ravens, as is Gorrer. I’m going to guess most of you didn’t know that. Neither has a realistic path to the active roster.

Bond and Ramsey are big. My guess is that both of them will find their way onto an active roster in the National Football League someday. It probably won’t be in Baltimore however.

It might not be fair for me to rank Houser last on this list. He’s a NFL player, which is more than anyone else in this final group can really say. But his ONLY chance of returning to the team is if Cox can’t return from his torn ACL. There’s a chance he might not be ready for the start of Training Camp, but it’s unlikely it will be a factor moving towards the 2011 regular season.

(Thanks to BaltimoreRavens.com for the pictures!)

-G

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Live From Owings Mills: Harbaugh Says Cameron Will Remain Offensive Coordinator

Posted on 17 January 2011 by Glenn Clark

OWINGS MILLS, Md. — The Baltimore Ravens (13-5) returned to 1 Winning Drive Monday, less than 48 hours after their season ended with a 31-24 loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers (13-4) at Heinz Field in an AFC Divisional Round playoff game.

Head Coach John Harbaugh put to rest any rumors he would consider firing Offensive Coordinator Cam Cameron Monday.

“Cam Cameron is our offensive coordinator” said Harbaugh. “That’s how we’re going forward. I know Cam is a tremendous coach.”

Harbaugh indicated no other coaches would be at risk of losing their jobs based on the team’s performance.

“I really like our coaching staff” said Harbaugh. “I think we have a great, great coaching staff. Top to bottom-that includes all three coordinators, that includes every one of our position coaches, there’s not a guy that I’m disappointed in.”

The Ravens finished just 22nd in the NFL in total offense in 2010, despite the additions of WR’s Anquan Boldin, TJ Houshmandzadeh and Donte’ Stallworth in the offseason, as well as the draft selections of TE’s Ed Dickson and Dennis Pitta

Harbaugh said the statistics didn’t affect his decision process with Cameron.

“He’s the same guy that was the offensive coordinator three years ago when everybody said we (outperformed) our expectations, and even last year. We had a tough year statistically, but we did win a lot of football games with that offense. There are things we can do a lot better, and we’re going to go to work on those things.”

FOCUS ON FREE AGENTS: The Ravens enter an offseason which will be based in as much uncertainty as the league itself.

The team has 17 unrestricted free agents, eight additional restricted free agents and five exclusive rights free agents.

The team’s unrestricted free agents are Houshmandzadeh, Stallworth, DT Haloti Ngata, FB Le’Ron McClain, CB Josh Wilson, CB Chris Carr, OT Jared Gaither, OL Marshal Yanda, OL Chris Chester, OL Tony Moll, S Dawan Landry, CB Fabian Washington, K Billy Cundiff, P Sam Koch, QB Marc Bulger, LB Prescott Burgess and LS Kevin Houser.

The restricted free agents are S Tom Zbikowski, S Haruki Nakamura, LB Tavares Gooden, LB Jameel McClain, WR Marcus Smith, OT Oniel Cousins, DT Lamar Divens and RB Jalen Parmele. LB Sergio Kindle, DT Kelly Talavou, TE Davon Drew, CB Cary Williams and LB Dannell Ellerbe are exclusive rights free agents.

Harbaugh said Monday the team will focus offseason plans on retaining their own free agents.

“We’re going to try to get back as many of these guys as we possibly can” said the coach. “Because we like our players.”

Harbaugh said he had high hopes that many of the team’s free agents would return.

“Talking to the guys today, the vast majority of guys really want to be here.”

Coming off a second straight Pro Bowl selection and a season in which he was voted the team’s MVP, Ngata is the most important player to get back according to Harbaugh.

“I believe Haloti Ngata will be a Raven for life” said the coach. “That’s the goal. He’s told me he wants to be here. I believe the organization wants him here. It’s priority number one to have Haloti Ngata here.”

Houshmandzadeh said he’d like to return to Charm City, but admitted an expanded role would play a significant part in making his decision.

“I want to come back because I had fun here and I enjoyed myself” said the receiver. “I do want to be a starter. I do because that’s what I’ve been. It’s hard to adjust.”

Free agency cannot begin until owners and the NFLPA agree to a new Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA).

NOTES: Hear from Harbaugh, Houshmandzadeh, L. McClain, Houshmandzadeh, Stallworth, Cundiff, Koch, Washington, Wilson, Kindle, Bulger, QB Joe Flacco, LB Ray Lewis, LB Jarret Johnson, C Matt Birk and WR Derrick Mason now in the BuyAToyota.com Audio Vault here at WNST.net……L. McClain joined Rex Snider Monday on “The Afternoon Drive” on AM1570 WNST, that chat is also available in the Audio Vault……The Ravens will select 26th in the 2011 NFL Draft……A team source told WNST’s Drew Forrester a contract extension for Harbaugh should be considered “imminent”……The Ravens signed all seven practice squad players to reserve/future contracts. WR Justin Harper, RB Curtis Steele, CB Danny Gorrer, QB Hunter Cantwell, OL Andre Ramsey, OL Brady Bond and LB Albert McClellan joined former Buffalo Bills WR James Hardy in getting such contracts……Harbaugh, GM Ozzie Newsome, Team President Dick Cass and owner Steve Bisciotti will hold their season review press conference Thursday afternoon in Owings Mills

-G

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Rating the Ravens after Baltimore’s 20-10 victory over Browns

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Rating the Ravens after Baltimore’s 20-10 victory over Browns

Posted on 27 December 2010 by Ryan Chell

What a boring game on Sunday between the Ravens and the Cleveland Browns. I know my boss, Glenn Clark, said that he forgot most of details of Sunday’s game an hour after the fourth quarter ended on the way back to Baltimore. But nevertheless, the Ravens won 20-10 and guaranteed themselves a playoff spot for the third straight year-the first time the team has achieved that feat in franchise history.

Rex and I sat down on “The Afternoon Drive” Monday on the “Purple Post-Game Show” to rate the Ravens, and in honor of Playboy founder Hugh Hefner announcing his engagement to 24-year old Playboy Playmate Crystal Harris, we decided to “Rate the Ravens” this week based on Playmates, with five being the highest and one being the lowest. Because more is better right?

Crystal Harris

Quarterbacks

Joe Flacco

Joe Flacco only completed 12-of-19 passes for only 102 yards, and had two touchdown passes-one to Derrick Mason and the other to T.J. Houshmandzadeh in the back of the end zone. The passing yards may not be outstanding, but Flacco did enough to win and played relatively mistake-free. He did throw a floater that Browns cornerback Joe Haden picked off, but Haden has been playing at a very high level this year. Flacco also made several plays with his feet to make a play despite something not being open downfield.

Ryan’s Rating: 3.5/5

Rex’s Rating:3

Running backs

Ray Rice

It was hard for Ray Rice to one-up his performance from last week against the Saints where he topped 200 yards of total offense, but the Ravens showed Sunday that they were determined still to manage the clock by still having a good dose of Ray Rice on the ground. Rice finished with 92 yards on 25 carries, but he never broke the huge run that sparked a Ravens scoring drive. Fullback Le’Ron McClain also carried the ball twice for 19 yards and Willis McGahee also provided solid supplementary support. No touchdowns for any of them though, and I think the injury to tight end Dennis Pitta early on in Sunday’s game stopped the Ravens from running their favorite formation to run out of-the two tight-end set.

Ryan’s Ratings: 3.5

Rex’s Rating: 3

Wide Receivers

T.J. Houshmandzadeh

The stats weren’t mind-blowing here, much like Flacco, but Derrick Mason continued his track record of making plays against the Cleveland Browns by grabbing a touchdown in front of Cleveland’s Sheldon Brown. After the Browns failed to convert on an onside-kick to open the second half, the Ravens had the benefit of a short field and made the most of the opportunity, as Flacco found Mason for the final score of the game, 20-10. Mason finished with 4 catches for 40 yards, and Houshmadzadeh’s score was also just as impressive. Dissapointing still is the loss of TE Todd Heap and the play of his replacement, Ed Dickson, who had no catches for 0 yards and just one target on Sunday.

Ryan’s Rating: 3/5

Rex’s Rating:2.5

Offensive Line

Flacco was only sacked once by the Browns, and that came on a corner blitz by Joe Haden. On several occasions, Flacco had several seconds to make a throw and either did or escaped out of the pocket and made a play with his legs (3 rushes, 16 yards). The holes were there in the running lanes for the backs to make; it was just on the part of Ray Rice or Willis McGahee to make a cut and they could have made a bigger play. But there is a silver lining in all of this…no penalties for Michael Oher!

Ryan’s Rating:3/5

Rex’s Rating:3/5

Defensive Line:

Cory Redding

The Ravens didn’t sack Colt McCoy once but rushed him on several occasions from the likes of Cory Redding, Haloti Ngata, and Terrell Suggs. Those pressures led to the three McCoy interceptions, and the biggest stop of the day by this unit was holding running back Peyton Hillis to just 35 yards on 12 carries(2.9 YPC). Overall, as a team the Browns only averaged 3.9 yards per carry as a team, and the trio of Redding, Ngata, and Gregg combined for eight solo tackles.

Ryan’s Rating: 4/5

Rex’s Rating:3.5/5

Linebackers

Peyton Hillis and Terrell Suggs

Ray Lewis said in the week leading up to Sunday’s game against the Browns that “even a blind cat finds a meal”. I always thought the quote was “even a blind squirrel finds a nut eventually”, but who’s going to tell Ray Lewis that? Certainly not me. Hillis of course had his breakthrough game against the Ravens in their previous matchup, gaining 144 yards on just 22 carries. Well, we thought Ray was opening his mouth a bit too early but Ray and the unit put their money where their mouth was and stopped Hillis, holding him to 35 yards and got physical with him.

They also did a good job of controlling the intermediate to short passing game that McCoy is great at. Jameel McClain led all Ravens with seven tackles, and Dannell Ellerbe and Jarret Johnson both were forces on the inside and outside of the Browns offensive line.

Ryan’s Rating:4/5

Rex’s Rating:3.5

Secondary:

Ed Reed

By far, the best Ravens unit of the day. The Ravens picked off Colt McCoy three times on Sunday-two coming from safety Ed Reed. McCoy appeared to be throwing the ball to a spot instead of leading the receiver, and Reed appeared to position himself in just the right spot. McCoy admitted afterwards that he being a rookie failed to realize that he should always know where a ball-hawking safety like Ed Reed should have been at all times. Lardarius Webb on his first quarter interception on the seventh-play of the game appeared to be the receiver instead of Browns receiver Mohamed Massaquoi.

And despite the touchdown allowed by Chris Carr on the trick play from Massaquoi to Brian Robiskie, Carr bounced back with a play later in the second quarter when he forced Massaquoi to fumble on the ball after catching a ball on a curl route. The ball bounced to the turf and took a Raven roll inbounds into the arms of Jameel McClain.

Ryan’s Rating:4.5/5

Rex’s Rating:3.5/5

Special Teams:

Nothing special here. The coverage team did do a great job containing return man Josh Cribbs, and while Billy Cundiff did connect on field goals of 27 and 40 yards with the wind blowing; he only had one touchback out of five attempts. Sam Koch averaged 45.7 yards per punt on three attempts and had one downed inside the Cleveland 20. The loss of David Reed was evident on kick returns as Jalen Parmele did just enough to move the ball up the field.

Ryan’s Rating: 4/5

Rex’s Rating: 3/5

Disagree with Rex and I? Agree with us? Call in 410-481-1570 on Monday or Tuesday and tell us your opinion! And follow us on Twitter and Facebook!

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Live From Owings Mills: Stallworth Voted Ravens Ed Block Courage Award Winner

Posted on 23 December 2010 by Glenn Clark

OWINGS MILLS, Md. — The Baltimore Ravens (10-4) returned to practice Wednesday at 1 Winning Drive, continuing preparations for Sunday’s showdown with the Cleveland Browns (5-9) at Cleveland Browns Stadium.

WR Donte’ Stallworth was announced Thursday as the team’s recipient of the annual Ed Block Courage Award.

Stallworth missed the entire 2009 season after being pleading guilty to DUI manslaughter. The Ravens signed him as a free agent in February.

Stallworth also missed the first seven games of the 2010 season after breaking his foot in the preseason. Since returning, he has caught two passes for 82 yards and has run the ball four times for 30 yards.

The announcement was made following media availability Thursday, making Stallworth and teammates unavailable to comment.

Players from all 32 NFL organizations vote winners annually from their own team. Players vote for a teammate who has “exemplified a commitment to sportsmanship and courage.”

S Dawan Landry received the award from the Ravens in 2009.

The Ed Block Courage Awards will be held March 8, 2011 in Baltimore. A press conference recognizing Stallworth as the Ravens winner will take place Tuesday at the Sports Legends Museum in Charm City.

No other 2010 winners were announced Thursday.

DT Haloti Ngata and K Sam Koch were also honored Thursday, as both were named to the USA Football/NFLPA All-Fundamentals team. Selection to the team was based on fundamentally sound play and consistent display of good character.

Ngata was selected to the team for a second consecutive season.

PRACTICE REPORT: S Tom Zbikowski (back) was again missing from the open portion of practice Wednesday. Zbikowski has not practiced since being forced to leave the team’s Week 14 win over the Houston Texans early.

WR David Reed (concussion) was also missing from the practice field for a second straight day. Reed was forced to leave the team’s Week 15 win over the New Orleans Saints in the first half.

OL Tony Moll (illness) and LB Jason Phillips (illness) each returned to practice Thursday after missing Wednesday. The flu bug continues to have an impact on the Ravens locker room; S Haruki Nakamura was also listed on Thursday’s injury report but he missed the session entirely.

Linebacker and special teamer Brendon Ayanbadejo was also at first believed to be another victim of the flu bug, but the Ravens revealed that he missed practice because of a knee injury.

Center Matt Birk(knee) was also a full participant in practice the last several days despite his injury.

Derrick Mason’s injury(ankle) kept him limited in the session open to the media but his game status should not be an issue.

TE Todd Heap (hamstring) practiced for a second straight day, improving his chances of playing for the first time since being forced to leave the team’s Week 13 loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers in the first quarter.

Offensive Coordinator Cam Cameron said Heap has looked “great” in practice throughout the week.

“I look forward to getting him back, probably sooner than later. He hasn’t missed a beat in his preparation (or) his rehab. (He’s a) consummate pro. I look forward to getting him back.”

NOTES: Hear from Cameron, Defensive Coordinator Greg Mattison and Special Teams Coordinator Jerry Rosburg in the BuyAToyota.com Audio Vault here at WNST.net now……RB/KR Jalen Parmele joined Drew Forrester Thursday on “The Morning Reaction” on AM1570 WNST, hear that chat in the Audio Vault as well……The Ravens will hold their final open practice of the week Friday before Sunday’s game, Head Coach John Harbaugh is scheduled to meet with the media following practice……Weather.com/The Weather Channel is predicting 25 degrees and snow showers for Cleveland Sunday

-G

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Live From Owings Mills: Ray Lewis says Peyton Hillis Performance “Won’t Happen Again”

Posted on 22 December 2010 by Glenn Clark

OWINGS MILLS, Md. — The Baltimore Ravens (10-4) returned to work at 1 Winning Drive Wednesday, looking ahead to Sunday’s Week 16 contest with the Cleveland Browns (5-9) at Cleveland Browns Stadium.

The Ravens defeated the Browns 24-17 in a Week 3 contest at M&T Bank Stadium, but they gave up an alarming 144 yards rushing to Browns RB Peyton Hillis in the loss.

Ravens players said Wednesday an encore performance should not be expected.

“A blind cat will find a meal every once in awhile” said LB Ray Lewis. “It’s just the way it happens. The thing about this league is consistency. We understand the two big runs that we gave up against him. (As) our team’s leader-it won’t happen again.”

Lewis went on to say “we definitely aren’t coming in there to give him over 100 yards again.”

Lewis wasn’t the only player to say the team intended to shut down the Browns’ likely Pro Bowl back.

“Definitely won’t happen again” said DT Haloti Ngata. “Some things they did a good job (of) scheming us and finding the holes for Peyton to hit. He’s a north and south runner, he doesn’t really like to run sideways and cut down. If we just close those holes for him to go through, then he’s gonna have to run sideways and we can probably get him better that way.”

Head Coach John Harbaugh said he thought the rematch provided motivation for his defense.

“I’m sure it does. I think it’s part of it. We’re motivated because stopping the run is important. They’re a team that prides themselves in running the ball.”

Before the Week 3 contest, Hillis had run for 100 yards just once in his NFL career (3rd season). Since the Week 3 contest, Hillis has run for 100 yards or more in four additional contests.

PRACTICE REPORT: TE Todd Heap (hamstring) returned to practice Wednesday. It was the first time Heap had practiced since being forced to leave the team’s Week 13 loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers in the first quarter. Heap’s chances of seeing the field Sunday have to be considered greatly improved after returning to the practice field. He was listed as a limited participant, as was WR Derrick Mason (ankle).

S Tom Zbikowski (back) remained out of practice Wednesday. He has not seen the field since leaving the team’s Week 14 win over the Houston Texans early. Harbaugh had hinted Friday Injured Reserve could still be an option for Zbikowski.

WR/KR David Reed did not participate in practice Wednesday after leaving the team’s Week 15 win over the New Orleans Saints in the first half with a concussion. His status for Sunday is considered to be in jeopardy. If Reed is unable to play, RB/KR Jalen Parmele is expected to return kicks in his place.

OL Tony Moll (illness) and LB Jason Phillips (illness) also did not participate in practice Wednesday, neither is believed to be in jeopardy of missing Sunday’s game. C Matt Birk (knee) and WR Marcus Smith (shoulder) were listed as full participants Wednesday.

In Berea, six Browns players missed practice Wednesday.

LB Eric Alexander (groin), QB Colt McCoy (illness), TE Evan Moore (hip), DL Shaun Rogers (ankle/hip), TE Robert Royal (shoulder) and Hillis (knee) did not participate.

LB Marcus Bernard (shoulder), DB Sheldon Brown (shoulder), DL Kenyon Coleman (knee), WR Josh Cribbs (foot), WR Chansi Stuckey (thigh), OL John St. Clair (ankle) and OL Floyd Womack (knee) were listed as limited participants.

All other Browns and Ravens players were not listed on Wednesday’s injury report.

NOTES: Hear from Harbaugh, Lewis, Ngata, QB Joe Flacco, WR Anquan Boldin and RB Ray Rice now in the BuyAToyota.com Audio Vault here at WNST.net……Boldin was presented with the team’s Walter Payton Man of the Year Award by Team President Dick Cass Wednesday. All 32 teams name an honoree, one of those players will be chosen as the league recipient after the season……Parmele is scheduled to join Drew Forrester at 7:20am Thursday on “The Morning Reaction” on AM1570 WNST……John Parry’s crew will officiate Sunday’s game……The Ravens re-signed OL Bryan Mattison to the practice squad Wednesday, he had been waived from the active roster Monday so the team could sign TE Davon Drew from the practice squad……The Ravens will return to practice Thursday; coordinators Cam Cameron, Greg Mattison and Jerry Rosburg are scheduled to meet with the media

-G

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Rating the Ravens against the New Orleans Saints

Posted on 21 December 2010 by Ryan Chell

The Ravens defeated the Super Bowl Champs in the New Orleans Saints 30-24 Sunday in impressive faction and with a team in the Ravens fighting for a playoff spot and still having an opportunity to win the AFC North, the Ravens may have put together one of their more complete games of the year when it comes to game-planning against a superior opponent.

Rex Snider and I sat down in studio Monday afternoon to “Rate the Ravens” in every position and facet of the game and based on their results Sunday versus the Saints. The scale was out of 5 stars, with five being a perfect score and 1 being the lowest star possible.

Disagree with us? Think we’re dead on? Give us a call at 410-481-1570 2-6PM!

Quaterback:

Joe Flacco threw two touchdown passes Sunday, but other than that, Flacco wasn’t asked to do much else(10-20, 172 yards). I hate to say he was asked to manage the game, because to me that would insinuate that had the Ravens needed Flacco to win the game he would have coughed it up and cost Baltimore the victory. He continues his impressive numbers at home (13 TDs, 1 INT), and while Dickson made a play with yards-after-the-catch to get in the end zone for his first touchdown pass, Flacco couldn’t have put his second touchdown pass to Rice in a better spot.

Ryan’s Rating:3.5 out of 5

Rex’s Rating:3 out of 5

Running backs:

It was the Ray Rice show on Sunday, and for good reason. As well as having that touchdown grab for Rice, he went over 100 yards rushing for only the second time this season( the other being against Denver in the home blowout earlier in the year). He finished with 223 total yards of offense, two touchdowns, and his day was highlighted not only by a long run of 50 yards but for also rushing for over 1,000 yards on the season. The only reason why I didn’t give it a perfect grade is because of fullback Le’Ron McClain’s bone-headed drop near the goal line which cost the Ravens a touchdown.

Ryan’s Rating: 4.5 out of 5

Rex’s Rating:5 out of 5

Receivers:

Much like Flacco, the receivers took a seat Sunday. Besides Dickson and Rice, no other receiver had more than one catch. T.J. Houshmandzadeh was forced out of a touchdown in the back of the end zone, and it’s nice to see Baltimore winning this game-otherwise Anquan Boldin (1 catch, 2 yards) might be throwing a fit.

Ryan’s Rating: 3 out of 5

Rex’s Rating:2 out of 5

Offensive Line:

Why did I give the Ravens’ line four stars on Sunday? For one, they told Oniel Cousins that the game started at 4PM and put him no where near the starting lineup. They did give up three Flacco sacks, but other than that there were no costly sacks or fumbles, and whenever Rice carries the ball 31 times for a season-high 153 yards, you’re doing something right. Give the offensive line credit for sustaining drives and keeping Drew Brees where he belongs-on the bench.

Ryan’s Rating:4 out of 5

Rex’s Rating:3 stars out of 5

Defensive Line:

Haloti Ngata caused a ton of disruption up the middle, including batting the pass that Cory Redding intercepted for his first ever interception( he would have had one earlier in the year had it not been for Ray Lewis’ greedy nature). Terrell Suggs got his 11th sack of the season and stripped Drew Brees of the ball, causing a fumble.

Ryan’s Rating: 4 out of 5

Rex’s Rating: 3 out of 5

Linebackers:

Jarret Johnson had seven tackles, including two for a loss and like Suggs he also had a sack. Dannell Ellerbe proved something to John Harbaugh by registering a sack of his own and providing quality play out of the nickel package letting Ray Lewis take a breather. Tavares Gooden-while not showing up in the box score-hurried Brees multiple times and was key in allowing the Saints to only rush for 27 total yards.

Ryan’s Rating: 4/5

Rex’s Rating:3.5/5

Secondary:

I’ll give the unit credit here. They had a lot to chew on going up against one of the three elite quarterbacks in the league in Drew Brees. The lineman intercepted him once, and they also fell into a bit of bad luck when Lance Moore came down with a fourth quarter, toe-dragging touchdown off a deflected pass. They did have no answer for the tight ends in Jimmy Graham or Jeremy Shockey, and Brees finished the day 29-49, 267 yards, 3 TDs, 1 INT. The unit was also aided by several big drops by the Saints receivers. Could have been better but the Ravens did enough to win.

Ryan’s Rating:3.5

Rex’s Rating: 3.5

Special Teams:

This unit still continues to be the strength of the team. Billy Cundiff is on his way toward becoming the NFL record holder in touch backs, and he also knocked in three field goals. Sam Koch had two punts downed inside the 20-yard line and RB/KR Jalen Parmele had a nice return after David Reed left with a concussion.

Ryan’s Rating: 5 out of 5

Rex’s Rating: 5 out of 5

Coaching Staff:

The offense ran the ball when they realized the Saints weakness was stopping the run and the defense did enough to contain a potent passing attack with Drew Brees at the helm. Winning at home is important and they didn’t let the opportunity to win a game and later capitalize off a future Steelers loss to the Jets. Some more mis-management with timeouts was an issue in the second half, but ultimately it didn’t become too much of an issue.

Ryan’s Rating: 4 out of 5

Rex’s Rating: 4 out of 5

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Wednesday Morning’s Crabs and Beer

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Wednesday Morning’s Crabs and Beer

Posted on 01 December 2010 by Glenn Clark

Happy Wednesday!

It’s a Happy Wednesday for me because it’s time to name two new “Greatest Song(s) of All Time This Week.”

I’ll start with the Retro Version. The retro version is in honor of tonight’s start of Hanukkah. My personal favorite (half) Jew is the great Lenny Kravitz, so here’s “Are You Gonna Go My Way?” If you’ve seen Lenny recently, please tell him to come back. He was freaking AMAZING.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eLhpHjmxNw8[/youtube]

The NEW version of TGSOATTW is a song heard prominently on “The Morning Reaction” on AM1570 WNST. I hope that tonight’s Grammy Awards nomination announcement features the band Ra Ra Riot. “Shadow Casting” is quite good…

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qvcxieyeg4k[/youtube]

Let’s see what everyone has to say…

1. WNST.net’s Ryan Chell says Ravens waived S Ken Hamlin, signed FB Jason McKie

As I reported yesterday, the Ravens also tried out former Cleveland Browns and Tennessee Titans TE/FB Joel Gamble before going with McKie. I was told they made the decision because they felt McKie was more of a natural fullback while Gamble was more of a hybrid. Gamble is a Baltimore native (and Carver grad).

As far as McKie is concerned, I can’t imagine him being asked to do much more than block-but they’ll definitely need him to block. The likelihood is that Le’Ron McClain’s ankle will probably keep him out Sunday night, and the Ravens’ current roster options just aren’t particularly good. Dennis Pitta can help and Jalen Parmele could see the field; but in a game where running the ball will be important-the Ravens will need a true blocking back.

Don’t rule out Hamlin returning to Charm City at some point this season. He was cut once (to make room for Prince Miller humorously enough) but returned in favor of Trevor Pryce. The Ravens like the veteran presence that Hamlin gives them-but he hasn’t even been active much in recent weeks.

2. WNST.net’s Drew Forrester says Ravens not concerned about outcry regarding towel giveaway

During our “Cheap Shots From the Bleachers” segment before last year’s Ravens-Steelers game at M&T Bank Stadium, I really used up all of the venom I have on this subject.

OF COURSE it’s shameful that the Ravens are giving away towels the night of a Ravens-Steelers game.

OF COURSE it’s embarrassing to hardcore Baltimore football fans to see their own team use a “copycat” version of a rival tradition.

OF COURSE fans should chose NOT to waive the towels but instead to use their hands to clap, bang thundersticks, or otherwise make noise.

OF COURSE the Ravens should really know better in this entire situation.

Unfortunately, they’re still going to give the stupid towel away Sunday night even though there is no one excited about it.

Hey-it makes a nice dish rag. If they were giving them away on the way out-I’d be okay with it. And even ol’ Forrester thinks it makes a nice wall flag…

df

3. The AP’s Alan Robinson says Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger wearing protective boot, expected to play Sunday vs. Ravens

OF COURSE Ben Roethlisberger is going to play Sunday.

(I’ve said “OF COURSE” a lot today. Annoying anyone?)

Of course, if Sabrina Maree lived in the Steel City (or here in Baltimore); I’m not so sure Big Ben wouldn’t be too distracted to make it to the game Sunday night. (Thanks The Beer Goggler via Busted Coverage!)

sabrinamaree

4. ESPN.com drops Ravens to 4th in power rankings

Calm down. The only three teams ahead of the Ravens are the Atlanta Falcons, New England Patriots and New York Jets; who are all 9-2. The Ravens are first amongst the 8-3 teams.

Before we move on from the Ravens, a few things…

-I’m all for the idea of a “No Means No” chant Sunday night. I think it has to start during TV timeouts right before the Steelers take the ball. If this happens, I will seriously OWE the city of Baltimore for being so freaking awesome.

-The Ravens return to the practice field at 1 Winning Drive in Owings Mills today. We’ll of course be out there to cover everything happening on and off the practice field. Make sure you remain tuned in to AM1570 WNST, checking out WNST.net and following us on Twitter (@WNST).

5. The Sun’s Dan Connolly says chances of Cesar Izturis returning to Orioles continue to improve

With no offense to Cesar Izturis, umm……..I’d rather not.

Connolly says Jason Bartlett will be dealt by the Tampa Bay Rays, but not to Baltimore. Miguel Tejada is headed to the San Francisco Giants, who lost Juan Uribe to the Los Angeles Dodgers. It could still be an option for the Minnesota Twins to deal JJ Hardy, but they’re not guaranteed to sign Tsuyoshi Nishioka or not move him to second base.

If all else fails, why not Maggi Caruthers?!?!? (Thanks Guyism!)

caruthers

6. D1scourse’s Patrick Stevens says Ralph Friedgen named ACC Coach of the Year, QB Danny O’Brien named Rookie of the Year

Both of these were sort of “no brainer” types of decisions.

The only other real options for Coach of the Year were Florida State’s Jimbo Fisher and Virginia Tech’s Frank Beamer. As the Seminoles did basically what everyone expected them to do and the Hokies only started playing well after losing to Boise State and James Madison; it would have been hard to justify either being honored ahead of Friedgen.

And I’m not sure I have many more words to scribe regarding O’Brien. Maybe it’s best the Terrapins DIDN’T make it to Charlotte to play in the ACC Championship Game. I’m not sure what else I could have said about him.

He’s like Matt Wieters. You know, expect…he’s actually done something.

7. UMTerps.com previews tonight’s tilt with Penn State in ACC/Big Ten Challenge

I’ll say Terrapins 77, Nittany Lions 69.

I think it will be close for a while though, and I don’t doubt that Talor Battle will get his.

But there would be no excuse for Maryland to not roll up to State College and dominate inside with Jordan Williams. That should absolutely be the difference maker.

SHOULD be I say.

8. The AP says Justin Fry’s 16 points not enough as UMBC fell at Penn

Randy Monroe’s Retrievers MIGHT be better than last year; but it hasn’t resulted in a win yet.

And with a trip to UConn coming Friday night-I’m not sure a win is coming soon either.

Towson is in action tonight, the Tigers host Western Michigan at the Towson Center at 7pm.

9. The AP says Michael Harper scored 19 points to lead Coppin State past Lincoln (Pennsylvania) at CSPEC

Now they gear up for not only an early season MEAC showdown; but the ultimate rivalry game-as they visit Hill Field House for a date with the Morgan State Bears Saturday at 4pm.

But to celebrate the Eagles’ win, I offer a picture of Dani Thompson. (Thanks The Smoking Jacket!)

danithompson

10. The Sun’s Hanah Cho says Maryland officials maintain they will work to protect Preakness as future of horse racing in jeopardy

Did you miss Maryland Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Association President Richard Hoffberger Wednesday morning with Drew Forrester on “The Morning Reaction” on AM1570 WNST? Make sure you head over to the BuyAToyota.com Audio Vault here at WNST.net today to check it out! Other things you’ll find in the Audio Vault include…

  • Mike Bires (Beaver County Times)-who talked Steelers with Drew Wednesday
  • Rich Dubroff (Carroll County Times)-who talked Ravens with Drew Wednesday
  • Paul Cantabene (Mustangs Lacrosse Coach)-who joined Drew Wednesday for “The Stevenson Coaches’ Report”
  • A Birds starting pitchers game (courtesy of Sporcle.com) Drew and Glenn Clark (I know him) played Wednesday morning, as well as a call from “Steve M from Kingsville.”
  • Keith Booth (Maryland assistant coach)-who joined Thyrl Nelson Tuesday for “The Terrapins Coaches’ Report”
  • Scott Smith (Strikeforce Fighter)-who joined Thyrl and John Rallo Tuesday during “The MMA Report”
  • Gregg Doyel (CBSSports.com)-who went around the sports world with Thyrl Tuesday on “The Mobtown Sports Beat”
  • Allen McCallum (WNST MLB Analyst)-who joined Rex Snider Tuesday for “The MLB Report”
  • Gabrielle Dow (Ravens VP of Marketing)-who joined Nestor Aparicio Tuesday on “The Afternoon Drive” to discuss the towel fiasco
  • John Czarnecki (FoxSports.com)-who went around the NFL Tuesday with Nestor

And finally, I leave you with this.

So apparently the North Carolina A&T band plays a version of the Antoine Dodson “Bed Intruder” song. Awesome. Thanks WNST intern Barry Kamen courtesy of Ryan Chell’s Facebook page…

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q3UsvLyu3N0[/youtube]

Flexing my mic muscles since 1983…

-G

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Live From Owings Mills: Harbaugh Offering No Information On Injured Ravens

Posted on 29 November 2010 by Glenn Clark

OWINGS MILLS, Md. – The Baltimore Ravens (8-3) returned to work Monday at 1 Winning Drive, less than 24 hours removed from a 17-10 victory over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers (7-4) at M&T Bank Stadium. The team began the process Monday of preparing for a Week 13 showdown against the Pittsburgh Steelers (8-3) in Charm City with first place in the AFC North on the line.

Head Coach John Harbaugh offered very little information about the team’s key injuries during his weekly Monday press conference. OT Michael Oher (knee), FB Le’Ron McClain (ankle) and S Dawan Landry (concussion) were all forced to leave Sunday’s game early. OL Chris Chester (illness) and S Tom Zbikowski (foot) were unavailable for the win over the Bucs altogether.

When asked about the team’s health, Harbaugh offered only “(We’ll) just take a look at them and see how they respond over the next two days and see where we’re at.”

When asked if he had seen any indications in the facility Monday of the health of the players, Harbaugh quickly responded “No. No indication.”

Harbaugh made it clear he wouldn’t be divulging any more information about of Sunday’s game by noting “that’s all you’re getting.”

The most serious of the injuries Sunday appeared to be McClain, and Harbaugh said the team had options should McClain be unavailable to play against Pittsburgh.

“It’s just what we did during the game basically. Some of our other running backs can play fullback, so we’ve got some other options. When you’ve got a week to prepare for that possibility, we’ll have more things up this week.”

RB Jalen Parmele could be amongst those options.

Oher’s knee was at least healthy enough Monday to stand through a game of cornhole, as he said via Twitter he had suffered defeat.

“Words can’t tell how I feel about just getting put out of the cornhole tourney” said Oher on his Twitter page. “I’m speechless!

Oher’s stepbrother Sean Tuohy Jr. confirmed via Twitter that the LT had been knocked out of the team’s locker room tournament by Ravens LS Morgan Cox.

LAWRENCE WON’T RETURN: The Ravens announced Monday that RB Matt Lawrence will not be activated from the Physically Unable to Perform (PUP) list.

Lawrence is still recovering from a knee injury suffered during the 2009 season.

Harbaugh indicated Lawrence’s knee remained the reason he would not return to the active roster in 2010.

He got in a situation where he couldn’t bend to a certain degree and load on it with any power. He’s going to have to go back and talk to Dr. (James) Andrews and kind of go back to work on that thing. He’s not where he can play.”

Lawrence had practiced for the last three weeks before the team made the decision to leave him on the PUP list.

NOTES: Hear from Harbaugh now in the BuyAToyota.com Audio Vault here at WNST.net……Al Michaels and Cris Collinsworth will call Sunday’s game as part of NBC’s “Sunday Night Football” series. Andrea Kramer will work the sidelines……The Ravens will return to work Wednesday, following the NFL’s mandatory Tuesday off day. Harbaugh, QB Joe Flacco, LB Ray Lewis and others are expected to meet with the media Wednesday

-G

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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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