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Private Workouts Now in Focus with Draft Season Speeding Towards Conclusion

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Private Workouts Now in Focus with Draft Season Speeding Towards Conclusion

Posted on 14 April 2011 by Glenn Clark

Like Florence & The Machine said, “The Pro Days are over.”

Well maybe those weren’t the exact lyrics from Florence Welch and company, but the statement remains true.

Draft season has officially shifted from Pro Days to private visits and workouts.

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), Jeremiah Masoli (Ole Miss), Ricky Stanzi (Iowa), Jerrod Johnson (Texas A&M)
FB
-Anthony Sherman (Connecticut), Owen Marecic (Stanford), Shaun Chapas (Georgia)
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 (UConn), Dion Lewis (Pitt), Jacquizz Rodgers (Oregon State), Mark Ingram (Alabama), Ryan Williams (Virginia Tech), Mikel Leshoure (Illinois), Darren Evans (Virginia Tech)
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), Dane Sanzenbacher (Ohio State)
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), DeMarcus Love (Arkansas)
G-Danny Watkins (Baylor)
C-Zane Taylor (Utah), Kris O’Dowd (Southern Cal), Rodney Hudson (Florida State), Brandon Fusco (Slippery Rock)
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), Aldon Smith (Missouri), Adrian Clayborn (Iowa), Sam Acho (Texas), Ryan Winterswyk (Boise State)
DT-Muhammad Wilkerson (Temple)
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), Alex Wujciak (Maryland), Akeem Dent (Georgia)
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), Ras-I Dowling (Virginia), Richard Sherman (Stanford), Brandon Burton (Utah)

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 in Indy
Parts 8, 9 & 10-A look at players who participated in early Pro Timing Days

The Baltimore Ravens (obviously) 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-all of whom have been shown special attention by the Ravens during Draft season. (Reported by WNST.net, National Football Post, Carroll County Times, Baltimore Sun, Pro Football Weekly or others.)

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

DE Christian Ballard (Iowa)

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nhgvSsE5tLI[/youtube]

Ballard is one of a number of Defensive Ends that has wandered over to Owings Mills during Draft season.

The Ravens are clearly in need of a rush end, and have looked at a number of players who could fit the role. Ballard (6’4″, 283 pounds) managed to tally eight combined sacks over his junior and senior campaigns with the Hawkeyes despite playing part of that time on the interior of the line.

Ballard has shown good speed during Draft season, trimming his 40 time from 4.75 at the Combine to 4.70 at his Pro Day in Iowa City. He’s not a first round pick, but he is a player the Ravens could consider as early as the second round.

They may have addressed rush end before that. Ballard’s teammate Adrian Clayborn, Ohio State’s Cameron Heyward and a number of other players are all higher on the board. The Ravens have a GLARING need at the position. If they don’t address it in the first, don’t be surprised if they address it with Ballard.

OT James Brewer (Indiana)

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5X01sxTrZZY[/youtube]

We don’t know for sure whether or not the Ravens have hosted Brewer at 1 Winning Drive, but we do know that the team paid special interest to Brewer’s Pro Day in Bloomington.

The Ravens have an issue along their O-Line. OT Jared Gaither is an unrestricted free agent and there are just a few question marks surrounding him. OT Michael Oher may or may not have a future at LT. G/T Marshal Yanda probably needs to return to being a Guard only.

The team will have to make some decisions.

Brewer (6’6″, 323 pounds) could help in that decision making process. He’s not a first round talent, but he looks like someone who is going to be able to play fairly early on if selected late Friday or early Saturday.

There is a SMALL issue with Brewer…he’s from Indianapolis. If he roots for the Colts, that could be trouble.

But otherwise, he has to be a legitimate option to help new O-Line coach Andy Moeller.

RB Stevan Ridley (LSU)

stevan

Unlike Ravens RB Ray Rice, Ridley’s game is much about power than speed (his 4.65 40 time at the Combine was better than either of his runs at his Pro Day in Baton Rouge). That could be a recipe to get him to Charm City, as the team may well lose both RB Willis McGahee (expected to be released) and FB Le’Ron McClain (Unrestricted Free Agent) this offseason.

Ridley might not be massive, but he packs 225 pounds in a 5’11″ frame. He has the look of a third down/red zone weapon at the next level, which is part of what the Ravens will be looking for in their backfield this offseason.

Ridley had just one big season with the Tigers before declaring for the Draft a year early. After rushing for just 272 yards and four TD’s combined between his freshman and sophomore seasons, he exploded for 1,147 yards and 15 TD’s as a junior. Clearly part of the reason for leaving early was to save some “tread” on his tires.

The Ravens paid special attention to Ridley at the Combine, where they learned more about why he was voted a team captain as a junior. He’s not a Thursday night pick and probably not a Friday night pick either. As the Draft wares into Saturday, he’ll look more and more appealing to the Ravens-who need to give Offensive Coordinator Cam Cameron a change of pace option in the backfield.

CB Curtis Marsh (Utah State)

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C-DwCYgqHWk[/youtube]

Just to recap the Ravens’ CB situation this offseason-Chris Carr, Josh Wilson and Fabian Washington are all unrestricted free agents; Cary Williams is an exclusive rights free agent and Domonique Foxworth is coming off an ACL injury that cost him the entire 2010 season. Lardarius Webb is the only corner that saw the field last season that remains fully under contract.

Clearly new Defensive Coordinator Chuck Pagano will need SOMETHING in his defensive backfield, be it returning players or newcomers.

Marsh is an intriguing option who has already visited General Manager Ozzie Newsome and company in Owings Mills. He was very much under the radar screen playing for the Aggies, but his 6’1″, 197 pound size and 4.42 speed have been undeniable during Draft season.

Marsh initially garnered attention for his matchup abilities against Boise State receivers Austin Pettis and Titus Young. He received a Senior Bowl invite but missed the week due to a hamstring injury.

Marsh could come off the board as early as Friday night. If the Ravens don’t select a cornerback in Round 1, he could be a legitimate option after that point.

DE Ricky Elmore (Arizona)

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BtE9qFonW7s[/youtube]

The Ravens have shown equal interest in Elmore and fellow former ‘Zona DE Brooks Reed, as both have shown an ability to get after Pac 10 quarterbacks.

Elmore tallied 21 combined sacks between his junior and senior seasons, finishing his Wildcats career with 25 sacks overall. During Draft season he’s been training with Clay Matthews Sr. (whose son is a pretty good pass rusher himself) in an attempt to even further improve his ability to get after QB’s.

Elmore is a physical beast, measuring in at 6’5″, 255 pounds. He’s not blazing fast (4.88 40 at the Combine), but he’s deceptively quick for his size.

As I mentioned with Ballard, the Ravens have to be desperate for rush help on the edge. If they select an end Thursday (or early Friday), they’ll likely want him to be someone who also has the ability to stand up in a 3-4 defense.

If they don’t go DE early, Elmore could be a better option later into the Draft (likely Saturday). Director of College Scouting Joe Hortiz and company will have to determine how quickly Elmore could make an impact.

S Will Hill (Florida)

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZQK0xhpkE4Y&feature=fvst[/youtube]

Hill’s size (6’1″, 202 pounds) and decent speed (4.64 40) as well as his overall football ability (four interceptions over three seasons in Gainesville) should make him a solid Free Safety prospect.

Yet despite the Ravens showing interest in Hill at the Combine, he’s viewed as a borderline possibility to get picked anywhere in the Draft.

Hill’s issues are more off the field than they are on the field. He had some problems with his Twitter account-as well documented by the website “Every Day Should Be Saturday.”

Hill later claimed his Twitter account was hacked, but the damage was certainly done-and Hill didn’t exactly win everyone over with his comments about the incident at the Combine.

There are clear question marks off the field, which are clouding the ability he could have on the field. The Ravens appear to be in the safety market this offseason, as SS Dawan Landry is an unrestricted free agent and FS Ed Reed is…well…not getting any younger or healthier. Reserves Tom Zbikowski and Haruki Nakamura give them options to plug in, but they’ll certainly look for depth.

Should the Ravens not select a safety at all early in the Draft, it isn’t out of the realm of possibility that they could take a chance on a player like Hill late in the Draft. After taking risks on DT Terrence Cody and LB Sergio Kindle early in the Draft last season, they might not be as quick to take a chance on a player with a red flag in this year’s Draft.

CB Chris Culliver (South Carolina)

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

As I mentioned with Marsh, the Ravens have secondary issues this offseason. They’ll need to address them SOMEHOW, and Culliver could be part of that.

Culliver is a 6’0″, 199 pound corner who tallied four sacks and three interceptions during his Gamecocks career. (All three picks came in 2008.) He’s coming off a torn pec that caused him to miss the final six games of his 2010 campaign.

Of all of the corners on the Ravens’ active roster in 2010, only Williams (6’1″) is as big as Culliver. None have the blazing speed (4.36 40 at the Combine…which he stood on instead of running at his Pro Day in Columbia) that Culliver has.

Culliver paid a visit to Owings Mills during Draft season to meet with Director of Player Personnel Eric DeCosta and company. They likely wanted to see how fluid he was in coverage, as he played just one season at corner in the SEC after converting from safety.

The other nice option with Culliver is his potential involvement in the return game. Culliver finished his SC career with a school record 2,476 return yards. The Ravens got solid production from Webb and WR David Reed/RB Jalen Parmele in the PR and KR roles respectively last season, but they certainly didn’t do so much that they have to be considered locks to return in the roles. Special Teams Coordinator Jerry Rosburg wouldn’t be disappointed to add another return man if the Ravens were to use a late Friday or early Saturday selection on Culliver.

G Will Rackley (Lehigh)

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IaXM8yMXOHM[/youtube]

The Ravens have certainly had no trouble using a pick in the top half of the Draft on interior linemen before.

G Ben Grubbs (1st round), C/G Chris Chester (2nd round), G/T Marshal Yanda (3rd round) and St. Louis Rams C Jason Brown (4th round) have all been players the Ravens have selected early, and they’ve received mostly good results from the selections.

The Ravens don’t appear to have a glaring need amongst their interior linemen, but there are certainly issues to be addressed.

While Head Coach John Harbaugh would like to return Yanda to Guard, he’s an restricted free agent that could depart in the offseason. Even if he stays, the Ravens could be faced with a need to have him stay at RT should the team not re-sign Gaither or not Draft/Sign a better option at the position. After getting a second round tender, Chester (also a restricted free agent) is expected to return, but the team would prefer to have him play a utility role along the line instead of being penciled in at RG.

Rackley could be the type of player who could step in and play RG immediately. The 6’3″, 309 pound lineman turned a number of heads during East West Shrine Game week, showing he was quite capable of playing against big time opposition despite his FCS background.

Rackley was a four year starter for the Mountain Hawks, dominating Patriot League opposition. Clearly the AFC North (and the likes of DT’s like the Pittsburgh Steelers’ Casey Hampton) will offer more significant opposition. Rackley is expected to be a Friday night pick, which could certainly be a legitimate place for the Ravens to jump up and grab him.

CB Buster Skrine (Chattanooga)

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W2jksB_vrsM[/youtube]

Similar to Curtis Marsh, Skrine is going to be looking to overcome a lower level of competition to make a name for himself as a National Football League corner. But Skrine (who played in the Southern Conference) has many more questions about competition to overcome than Marsh-who played his ball in the WAC.

Skrine (5’10″, 186 pounds) has great speed (4.37 40 at the Combine-but rumored to have actually been as fast as 4.29) and finished his Mocs career with five interceptions.

The Ravens both attended Skrine’s Pro Day and hosted him in Owings Mills in March.

The biggest question surrounding Skrine is whether or not he can play press coverage against NFL receivers, many of whom will have a slight to significant height advantage.

If the Ravens feel like he could be, it would make him a solid option late Friday or early Saturday.

LB Justin Houston (Georgia)

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kR0L2RVId90[/youtube]

Houston appears to be a true standup OLB instead of a down DE, which could help as the Ravens try to find pass rush help.

At 6’3″, 270 pounds; Houston was considered “undersized” to play along the D-Line for the Bulldogs, so he was moved to the outside. He responded to the move by producing 10 sacks in 2010; finishing his career in Athens with 19 sacks total.

Houston’s size and solid speed (he trimmed his 40 time down to 4.57 at his Pro Day) make him a borderline first round pick. The Ravens are obviously in the market for pass rush help (more specifically someone to team with LB Terrell Suggs), and they have hosted Houston in Owings Mills during Draft season.

The only obvious red flag with Houston is a 2009 suspension by UGA coach Mark Richt for an unspecified violation of team rules.

While the team seems unlikely to trade out of the 26th spot this year, Houston could be the type of available player that would make them feel like they could. Should Houston be available in the 30-40 range, the Ravens would likely feel as though they got #26 value after trading back.

-G

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Draft Season in Focus in Indianapolis for NFL Scouting Combine

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Draft Season in Focus in Indianapolis for NFL Scouting Combine

Posted on 23 February 2011 by Glenn Clark

The annual NFL Scouting Combine is underway at LucasOil Stadium in Indianapolis, Indiana. WNST.net will be live in Indy this weekend to provide coverage of the Combine.

Make sure you’re following us on Twitter (@WNST) for the latest from the place our friend Merton likes to call “The Friendly Heart of the Midwest.” There will also be nearly day long coverage of the events in Indy throughout the weekend on NFL Network.

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)
FB
-Anthony Sherman (UConn)
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)
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)
TE-Will Yeatman (Maryland)
OT
-Matthew O’Donnell (Queens University Canada), Gabe Carimi (Wisconsin), Nate Solder (Colorado), Anthony Costanzo (Boston College), Joseph Barksdale (LSU)
C-Zane Taylor (Utah)
DE
-Justin Trattou (Florida), Allen Bailey (Miami), Eddie Jones (Texas), Ryan Kerrigan (Purdue), Brooks Reed (Arizona), Cliff Matthews (South Carolina)
LB
-Mark Herzlich (Boston College), Casey Matthews (Oregon), Adrian Moten (Maryland)
S
-Jermale Hines (Ohio State), Jaiquawn Jarrett (Temple), Maurice Rolle (Louisiana-Lafayette), Rahim Moore (UCLA)
CB-Anthony Gaitor (Florida International), Aaron Williams (Texas), Jalil Brown (Colorado)

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 4 & 5-A preview of players who will participate in this weekend’s Combine

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 to keep an eye on as we move towards the Combine.

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.

CB Jimmy Smith (Colorado)

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4vY06HXzEb0[/youtube]

When looking at Smith’s senior season in Boulder, it might seem odd that he didn’t record a single interception. But Smith was only thrown on about 20 times in man coverage during his senior campaign, so his opportunities were limited.

More impressive for Smith was that over his junior and senior seasons with the Buffaloes combined, he allowed just 11 receptions-only one of which was a first down. (He gave up one touchdown in his senior season.)

That lead Smith to gaining very deserved All-Big 12 honors.

The most appealing part of Smith’s candidacy as a first round pick is that he’s 6’2″, 205 pounds. That’s an ideal size for a potential shutdown corner in the National Football League.

The other appealing part about Smith is that he’s not afraid to tackle. He finished his Buffs career with 160 of them. Deion Sanders he’s not-at least through the first 22 years of his life.

Smith is likely going to be available when the Ravens pick at 26th. With Chris Carr, Josh Wilson and Fabian Washington all expected to become unrestricted free agents, Smith could be a very intriguing possibility.

QB Tyrod Taylor (Virginia Tech)

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2vHJTeM4S3I[/youtube]

Tyrod Taylor is not Michael Vick.

That being said, if I represented Tyrod Taylor I’d do my best to make sure the name Michael Vick was mentioned as much as possible during Draft season.

Taylor was certainly explosive at times during his career in Blacksburg. He was responsible for 67 career touchdowns (44 passing, 23 rushing) and thew for over 5,000 yards between his junior and senior seasons combined.

Hokies fans were frustrated by his decision making at times, and he certainly took advantage of lesser competition (572 yards and 7 touchdowns in 2010 came in back to back games against Duke and Wake Forest).

He’s 6’1″, 216 pounds and VERY quick (expected to clock in near 4.5 when he runs the 40). He has plenty of upside. He had a solid week at the Citrus Bowl during Shrine Game week. He plans on staying at quarterback, unlike fellow former Va Tech QB Marcus Vick-who was willing to try Wide Receiver during the Draft process.

He’s not likely to find his way into the fray any earlier than mid-Saturday. The Ravens aren’t likely to address the QB position before that point, as they will simply be looking for depth behind Joe Flacco in case free agent backup Marc Bulger departs.

It could be a fit. It doesn’t necessarily mean it will be.

RB Jordan Todman (UConn)

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ucXw_CW2ov0[/youtube]

Todman might be too similar in size to current Ravens RB Ray Rice (he’s 5’9″, 193 pounds; Rice is 5’8″, 212 pounds) to be a true complement in the Charm City backfield, but that doesn’t mean he might not be an option.

The Ravens will still have the option of retaining FB Le’Ron McClain and using him as more of a compliment to Rice, which could enable them to find depth later on with a player like Todman.

Todman didn’t really play a Ray Rice-type role in the Huskies offense, either. He averaged 5.1 yards per carry in both his junior and senior seasons, combining for 2,883 rushing yards and 28 TD’s between the two seasons. He caught just 40 passes in the same span.

Will his size allow for him to be a consistent runner at the next level? We’ll have to see. He’s smaller than Willis McGahee (who the Ravens are expected to let go), but he would bring fresher legs-and pottentially a fresher attitude.

Todman replaced a very good back in Donald Brown and more than lived up to the the standard. But despite winning Big East Offensive Player of the Year honors last season, he’s probably a late Friday night or early Saturday selection.

That might be around the time when General Manager Ozzie Newsome considers a RB.

S Ahmad Black (Florida)

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MswzKgJ8DBc[/youtube]

What has made Ed Reed a future Hall of Fame safety in Baltimore has been the fact that he’s had a nose for the football.

It’s not the same level, but there’s no question Black had a nose for the football during his four seasons in Gainesville.

Black finished his Gators career with 13 interceptions (3 of which he returned for touchdowns) and two forced fumbles. He also collected 227 tackles and two sacks. I think it’s fair to use the word “playmaker” to describe him.

At 5’9″, 190 pounds; Black isn’t as big as Reed. With that in mind, he’s not really expected to be a free safety at the NFL level and play centerfield the way Reed does.

But with Dawan Landry a possibility to depart when free agency finally begins, the Ravens could use general depth at the position all around.

Black will go early. Perhaps too early for a team that still counts Haruki Nakamura and Tom Zbikowski as options at the position.

WR Jon Baldwin (Pitt)

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

His numbers over the last two seasons in Pittsburgh were very good but a bit short of earth shattering.

Between his junior and senior seasons, Baldwin caught 110 passes for 1,933 yards and 13 TD’s.

But there’s another number for Baldwin that is much more significant and makes him a likely first round pick after just three seasons at Heinz Field.

6’5″.

Baldwin’s unreal combination of size and speed (he’s believed to be able to post a sub 4.5 at the home of the Colts this weekend) makes him a potentially VERY dangerous downfield threat at the next level.

Interestingly enough, the Ravens need EXACTLY that type of receiver to complement Anquan Boldin and Derrick Mason.

The question is now whether or not Baldwin sticks around to 26, or would it be worth it for John Harbaugh and company to try to move up to make sure they come away with him?

Not every tall, fast receiver selected early in the Draft has panned out and become a legitimate offensive superstar in the NFL. If the Ravens don’t walk away with Baldwin in the Draft, they’d still have free agency (should free agency ever actually happen) to consider addressing the need with a potential free agent like Minnesota Vikings WR Sidney Rice.

If he’s there at 26, I’d have to imagine it would be hard to pass up on him.

FB Owen Marecic (Stanford)

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

Two things to start. One-Marecic is NOT going to play both sides of the ball in the NFL the way he did with the Cardinal. Two-I know he’s white and he played for Jim Harbaugh in Palo Alto, but Marecic is NOT Toby Gerhart. The comparisons would be unfair.

With all of that said, Marecic is a VERY interesting prospect. He won the Paul Hornung Award in 2010 as the most versatile player in college football. In one game against Notre Dame, he ran for a TD and returned an INT for a TD within the span of 13 seconds.

Even without playing defense at the next level, the Ravens could certainly find ways to use his versatility. He’d be an immediate candidate to help Jerry Rosburg in Special Teams and would be truly valuable should Le’Ron McClain depart or be moved into more of a true halfback role.

Marecic certainly handled short yardage situations for Stanford, scoring 10 combined touchdowns in his junior and senior seasons on just 48 total touches.

John Harbaugh should know a thing or two about Marecic both from his brother and since his father (Jack Harbaugh) coached Marecic for a month in 2009 leading up to the Sun Bowl. He appears to be the exact type of football player would love, and should stay on the board until at least midway through the day Saturday.

LB Nate Irving (NC State)

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

After the Ravens selected Paul Kruger in the 2nd round of the 2009 NFL Draft, there was more discussion about Kruger overcoming a stabbing than there was about his actual football ability.

Should the Ravens select Irving this year, be prepared for a similar amount of discussion about things not related to football.

Irving missed the entire 2009 after a car accident that caused a number of serious injuries. Irving suffered a collapsed lung, broken rib, separated shoulder and a compound fracture in his leg and told reporters that summer he felt “blessed” to be alive.

Coach Tom O’Brien and the Wolfpack felt “blessed” to have him return to the football field in 2010, as he tallied 89 tackles, seven sacks and three forced fumbles. He finished his NCSU career with 211 tackles, nine sacks, six forced fumbles and four interceptions.

There has been some question as to whether or not Irving (6’1″, 235 pounds) can play Inside Linebacker at the NFL level. There are also of course questions as to whether any of the Ravens’ trio of Dannell Ellerbe, Tavares Gooden and Jameel McClain can REALLY play ILB at the NFL level either.

And we all know Ray Lewis isn’t getting younger.

Irving is probably a Saturday selection, and teams will clearly be paying very close attention to the medical portion of his Combine participation this weekend. The Ravens have taken chances on players with red flags before, but after selecting Sergio Kindle last year, they might be a bit more guarded in their decision making.

DE J.J. Watt (Wisconsin)

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8QT2-mRCgX0[/youtube]

There’s no secret that new Defensive Coordinator DESPERATELY needs a true rush end, as the Ravens failed to find a complement for Terrell Suggs along the Defensive Line last year.

It’s also no secret that Watt is one of the top D-End prospects in the country, having collected 11 sacks and 36.5 TFL’s during his two seasons in Madison after transferring from Central Michigan.

Watt is a 6’6″, 292 pound monster who wrecked havoc on Big Ten passers during his two seasons with the Badgers. His 21 Tackles for Loss in 2009 resulted in 91 lost yards for opponents.

Does that sound like something the Ravens could use?

The good news for the Ravens is that there are a number of First Round DE prospects in this year’s Draft, including Ryan Kerrigan and Allen Bailey who we have already profiled. Given the number of DE prospects, there’s a chance a player like Watt could stay on the board until 26th, but it is no guarantee.

If Watt’s available, it would be very difficult for Director of Player Personnel Eric DeCosta and company to pass up on such a talented player at such a position of need.

C Kris O’Dowd (USC)

odowd

Southern Cal became a bit of an “Offensive Lineman U” during the Pete Carroll era, producing the likes of Ryan Kalil (Carolina Panthers), Sam Baker (Atlanta Falcons), Deuce Lutui (Arizona Cardinals), Winston Justice (Philadelphia Eagles) and more.

O’Dowd is the next in the line of Trojans lineman who is expected to make the transition to the NFL level.

He’s 6’4″, 303 pounds and was part of an O-Line that blocked for the 3rd leading rushing attack in the Pac 10 last season, behind just Oregon and Stanford. He made an immediate impact upon arriving in Malibu, becoming the first true freshman to start on the O-Line for USC since 1996.

Teams will be taking a particularly important look at O’Dowd medically in Indianapolis, as he battled knee and shoulder injuries during his college career. With Matt Birk expected to be playing in his final season in 2011, the Ravens could do well to spend a Saturday selection on a player like O’Dowd.

And if you’re at all concerned about O’Dowd off this field, this ESPN piece about his relationship with a young man named Jake Olson should probably ease those concerns…

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IhY4RnQLaOc[/youtube]

WR Greg Salas (Hawaii)

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VH94OG2Fcko[/youtube]

Salas’ numbers in 2010 were almost unreal.

The young man from Chino, California caught 119 balls for a ridiculous 1,889 yards and 14 TD’s for the Warriors as a senior. It wrapped up an amazing career in Honolulu that saw him catch 285 passes for 4,345 yards and 26 TD’s-the overwhelming majority of which came in his final three seasons.

Those numbers are amazing.

The problem with Salas is that there’s nothing about him in particular that would make him stand out in the Ravens’ receiving corps. He’s not terribly big (6’2″, 210 pounds) and isn’t lightning fast either (expected to post a 40 time in the mid 4.5′s in Indy).

With will-be free agents TJ Houshmandzadeh and Donte’ Stallworth significant question marks to return, there’s no easy place to see Salas fitting in at the top with Boldin and Mason in Cam Cameron’s offense.

But the Ravens do need to find more receivers should Stallworth and Houshmandzadeh (and Marcus Smith who is also a free agent) depart. There is no doubt that Salas can catch the football. Should he stick around late into Saturday, he would have to be a player Director of College Scouting Joe Hortiz and company would want to consider.

Flexing my mic muscles since 1983…

-G

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Draft Season in Focus in Indianapolis for NFL Scouting Combine

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Draft Season in Focus in Indianapolis for NFL Scouting Combine

Posted on 23 February 2011 by Glenn Clark

We’re just hours away from the start of the annual NFL Scouting Combine at LucasOil Stadium in Indianapolis, Indiana. WNST.net will be live in Indy this weekend to provide coverage of the Combine.

Make sure you’re following us on Twitter (@WNST) for the latest from the place our friend Merton likes to call “The Friendly Heart of the Midwest.”

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)
FB
-Anthony Sherman (UConn)
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)
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)
TE-Will Yeatman (Maryland)
OT
-Matthew O’Donnell (Queens University Canada), Gabe Carimi (Wisconsin), Nate Solder (Colorado), Anthony Costanzo (Boston College), Joseph Barksdale (LSU)
C-Zane Taylor (Utah)
DE
-Justin Trattou (Florida), Allen Bailey (Miami), Eddie Jones (Texas), Ryan Kerrigan (Purdue), Brooks Reed (Arizona), Cliff Matthews (South Carolina)
LB
-Mark Herzlich (Boston College), Casey Matthews (Oregon), Adrian Moten (Maryland)
S
-Jermale Hines (Ohio State), Jaiquawn Jarrett (Temple), Maurice Rolle (Louisiana-Lafayette), Rahim Moore (UCLA)
CB-Anthony Gaitor (Florida International), Aaron Williams (Texas), Jalil Brown (Colorado)

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 4 & 5-A preview of players who will participate in this weekend’s Combine

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 to keep an eye on as we move towards the Combine.

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.

CB Jimmy Smith (Colorado)

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4vY06HXzEb0[/youtube]

When looking at Smith’s senior season in Boulder, it might seem odd that he didn’t record a single interception. But Smith was only thrown on about 20 times in man coverage during his senior campaign, so his opportunities were limited.

More impressive for Smith was that over his junior and senior seasons with the Buffaloes combined, he allowed just 11 receptions-only one of which was a first down. (He gave up one touchdown in his senior season.)

That lead Smith to gaining very deserved All-Big 12 honors.

The most appealing part of Smith’s candidacy as a first round pick is that he’s 6’2″, 205 pounds. That’s an ideal size for a potential shutdown corner in the National Football League.

The other appealing part about Smith is that he’s not afraid to tackle. He finished his Buffs career with 160 of them. Deion Sanders he’s not-at least through the first 22 years of his life.

Smith is likely going to be available when the Ravens pick at 26th. With Chris Carr, Josh Wilson and Fabian Washington all expected to become unrestricted free agents, Smith could be a very intriguing possibility.

QB Tyrod Taylor (Virginia Tech)

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2vHJTeM4S3I[/youtube]

Tyrod Taylor is not Michael Vick.

That being said, if I represented Tyrod Taylor I’d do my best to make sure the name Michael Vick was mentioned as much as possible during Draft season.

Taylor was certainly explosive at times during his career in Blacksburg. He was responsible for 67 career touchdowns (44 passing, 23 rushing) and thew for over 5,000 yards between his junior and senior seasons combined.

Hokies fans were frustrated by his decision making at times, and he certainly took advantage of lesser competition (572 yards and 7 touchdowns in 2010 came in back to back games against Duke and Wake Forest).

He’s 6’1″, 216 pounds and VERY quick (expected to clock in near 4.5 when he runs the 40). He has plenty of upside. He had a solid week at the Citrus Bowl during Shrine Game week. He plans on staying at quarterback, unlike fellow former Va Tech QB Marcus Vick-who was willing to try Wide Receiver during the Draft process.

He’s not likely to find his way into the fray any earlier than mid-Saturday. The Ravens aren’t likely to address the QB position before that point, as they will simply be looking for depth behind Joe Flacco in case free agent backup Marc Bulger departs.

It could be a fit. It doesn’t necessarily mean it will be.

RB Jordan Todman (UConn)

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ucXw_CW2ov0[/youtube]

Todman might be too similar in size to current Ravens RB Ray Rice (he’s 5’9″, 193 pounds; Rice is 5’8″, 212 pounds) to be a true complement in the Charm City backfield, but that doesn’t mean he might not be an option.

The Ravens will still have the option of retaining FB Le’Ron McClain and using him as more of a compliment to Rice, which could enable them to find depth later on with a player like Todman.

Todman didn’t really play a Ray Rice-type role in the Huskies offense, either. He averaged 5.1 yards per carry in both his junior and senior seasons, combining for 2,883 rushing yards and 28 TD’s between the two seasons. He caught just 40 passes in the same span.

Will his size allow for him to be a consistent runner at the next level? We’ll have to see. He’s smaller than Willis McGahee (who the Ravens are expected to let go), but he would bring fresher legs-and pottentially a fresher attitude.

Todman replaced a very good back in Donald Brown and more than lived up to the the standard. But despite winning Big East Offensive Player of the Year honors last season, he’s probably a late Friday night or early Saturday selection.

That might be around the time when General Manager Ozzie Newsome considers a RB.

S Ahmad Black (Florida)

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MswzKgJ8DBc[/youtube]

What has made Ed Reed a future Hall of Fame safety in Baltimore has been the fact that he’s had a nose for the football.

It’s not the same level, but there’s no question Black had a nose for the football during his four seasons in Gainesville.

Black finished his Gators career with 13 interceptions (3 of which he returned for touchdowns) and two forced fumbles. He also collected 227 tackles and two sacks. I think it’s fair to use the word “playmaker” to describe him.

At 5’9″, 190 pounds; Black isn’t as big as Reed. With that in mind, he’s not really expected to be a free safety at the NFL level and play centerfield the way Reed does.

But with Dawan Landry a possibility to depart when free agency finally begins, the Ravens could use general depth at the position all around.

Black will go early. Perhaps too early for a team that still counts Haruki Nakamura and Tom Zbikowski as options at the position.

WR Jon Baldwin (Pitt)

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

His numbers over the last two seasons in Pittsburgh were very good but a bit short of earth shattering.

Between his junior and senior seasons, Baldwin caught 110 passes for 1,933 yards and 13 TD’s.

But there’s another number for Baldwin that is much more significant and makes him a likely first round pick after just three seasons at Heinz Field.

6’5″.

Baldwin’s unreal combination of size and speed (he’s believed to be able to post a sub 4.5 at the home of the Colts this weekend) makes him a potentially VERY dangerous downfield threat at the next level.

Interestingly enough, the Ravens need EXACTLY that type of receiver to complement Anquan Boldin and Derrick Mason.

The question is now whether or not Baldwin sticks around to 26, or would it be worth it for John Harbaugh and company to try to move up to make sure they come away with him?

Not every tall, fast receiver selected early in the Draft has panned out and become a legitimate offensive superstar in the NFL. If the Ravens don’t walk away with Baldwin in the Draft, they’d still have free agency (should free agency ever actually happen) to consider addressing the need with a potential free agent like Minnesota Vikings WR Sidney Rice.

If he’s there at 26, I’d have to imagine it would be hard to pass up on him.

FB Owen Marecic (Stanford)

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

Two things to start. One-Marecic is NOT going to play both sides of the ball in the NFL the way he did with the Cardinal. Two-I know he’s white and he played for Jim Harbaugh in Palo Alto, but Marecic is NOT Toby Gerhart. The comparisons would be unfair.

With all of that said, Marecic is a VERY interesting prospect. He won the Paul Hornung Award in 2010 as the most versatile player in college football. In one game against Notre Dame, he ran for a TD and returned an INT for a TD within the span of 13 seconds.

Even without playing defense at the next level, the Ravens could certainly find ways to use his versatility. He’d be an immediate candidate to help Jerry Rosburg in Special Teams and would be truly valuable should Le’Ron McClain depart or be moved into more of a true halfback role.

Marecic certainly handled short yardage situations for Stanford, scoring 10 combined touchdowns in his junior and senior seasons on just 48 total touches.

John Harbaugh should know a thing or two about Marecic both from his brother and since his father (Jack Harbaugh) coached Marecic for a month in 2009 leading up to the Sun Bowl. He appears to be the exact type of football player would love, and should stay on the board until at least midway through the day Saturday.

LB Nate Irving (NC State)

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

After the Ravens selected Paul Kruger in the 2nd round of the 2009 NFL Draft, there was more discussion about Kruger overcoming a stabbing than there was about his actual football ability.

Should the Ravens select Irving this year, be prepared for a similar amount of discussion about things not related to football.

Irving missed the entire 2009 after a car accident that caused a number of serious injuries. Irving suffered a collapsed lung, broken rib, separated shoulder and a compound fracture in his leg and told reporters that summer he felt “blessed” to be alive.

Coach Tom O’Brien and the Wolfpack felt “blessed” to have him return to the football field in 2010, as he tallied 89 tackles, seven sacks and three forced fumbles. He finished his NCSU career with 211 tackles, nine sacks, six forced fumbles and four interceptions.

There has been some question as to whether or not Irving (6’1″, 235 pounds) can play Inside Linebacker at the NFL level. There are also of course questions as to whether any of the Ravens’ trio of Dannell Ellerbe, Tavares Gooden and Jameel McClain can REALLY play ILB at the NFL level either.

And we all know Ray Lewis isn’t getting younger.

Irving is probably a Saturday selection, and teams will clearly be paying very close attention to the medical portion of his Combine participation this weekend. The Ravens have taken chances on players with red flags before, but after selecting Sergio Kindle last year, they might be a bit more guarded in their decision making.

DE J.J. Watt (Wisconsin)

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8QT2-mRCgX0[/youtube]

There’s no secret that new Defensive Coordinator DESPERATELY needs a true rush end, as the Ravens failed to find a complement for Terrell Suggs along the Defensive Line last year.

It’s also no secret that Watt is one of the top D-End prospects in the country, having collected 11 sacks and 36.5 TFL’s during his two seasons in Madison after transferring from Central Michigan.

Watt is a 6’6″, 292 pound monster who wrecked havoc on Big Ten passers during his two seasons with the Badgers. His 21 Tackles for Loss in 2009 resulted in 91 lost yards for opponents.

Does that sound like something the Ravens could use?

The good news for the Ravens is that there are a number of First Round DE prospects in this year’s Draft, including Ryan Kerrigan and Allen Bailey who we have already profiled. Given the number of DE prospects, there’s a chance a player like Watt could stay on the board until 26th, but it is no guarantee.

If Watt’s available, it would be very difficult for Director of Player Personnel Eric DeCosta and company to pass up on such a talented player at such a position of need.

C Kris O’Dowd (USC)

odowd

Southern Cal became a bit of an “Offensive Lineman U” during the Pete Carroll era, producing the likes of Ryan Kalil (Carolina Panthers), Sam Baker (Atlanta Falcons), Deuce Lutui (Arizona Cardinals), Winston Justice (Philadelphia Eagles) and more.

O’Dowd is the next in the line of Trojans lineman who is expected to make the transition to the NFL level.

He’s 6’4″, 303 pounds and was part of an O-Line that blocked for the 3rd leading rushing attack in the Pac 10 last season, behind just Oregon and Stanford. He made an immediate impact upon arriving in Malibu, becoming the first true freshman to start on the O-Line for USC since 1996.

Teams will be taking a particularly important look at O’Dowd medically in Indianapolis, as he battled knee and shoulder injuries during his college career. With Matt Birk expected to be playing in his final season in 2011, the Ravens could do well to spend a Saturday selection on a player like O’Dowd.

And if you’re at all concerned about O’Dowd off this field, this ESPN piece about his relationship with a young man named Jake Olson should probably ease those concerns…

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IhY4RnQLaOc[/youtube]

WR Greg Salas (Hawaii)

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VH94OG2Fcko[/youtube]

Salas’ numbers in 2010 were almost unreal.

The young man from Chino, California caught 119 balls for a ridiculous 1,889 yards and 14 TD’s for the Warriors as a senior. It wrapped up an amazing career in Honolulu that saw him catch 285 passes for 4,345 yards and 26 TD’s-the overwhelming majority of which came in his final three seasons.

Those numbers are amazing.

The problem with Salas is that there’s nothing about him in particular that would make him stand out in the Ravens’ receiving corps. He’s not terribly big (6’2″, 210 pounds) and isn’t lightning fast either (expected to post a 40 time in the mid 4.5′s in Indy).

With will-be free agents TJ Houshmandzadeh and Donte’ Stallworth significant question marks to return, there’s no easy place to see Salas fitting in at the top with Boldin and Mason in Cam Cameron’s offense.

But the Ravens do need to find more receivers should Stallworth and Houshmandzadeh (and Marcus Smith who is also a free agent) depart. There is no doubt that Salas can catch the football. Should he stick around late into Saturday, he would have to be a player Director of College Scouting Joe Hortiz and company would want to consider.

Flexing my mic muscles since 1983…

-G

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Part 2 – Aftermath of a meltdown…who stays, who goes, now what?

Posted on 17 January 2011 by Drew Forrester

What do you do when you’ve been to the post-season three straight years and you can’t make it to the Super Bowl?

You could do what the Orioles do every off-season when they’re lamenting how they once again went 65-97 and finished so far back in the A.L. East race they were lapped heading into September: You could complain about being in the AFC…or the AFC North.

But that’s not the Ravens style. The Ravens aren’t complainers. They’re in the AFC and they’re in the AFC North and they need to figure out the combination to this lock the Steelers have applied to them over the last three years.

And then you have the Colts. They’ll always be around with what’s-his-name at quarterback. Same with the Patriots. They’re not going anywhere, either. The Jets look solid. The Chargers, Raiders and Chiefs are all worthy of at least keeping an eye on.

So what do the Ravens do on the heels of another playoff dismissal at the hands of the Steelers? First, please understand I’m making all of these assessments and reactions based on the notion that there WILL be football played in 2011. If the CBA issue alters the NFL’s course of business next season, there’s obviously a chance some of the changes either WILL or WON’T happen based on the league’s new financial structure.

For starters, let’s get the coordinators discussion over and done with so we can move on to other pressing matters that are actually up for discussion.

As I reported via Twitter on Sunday around 8am, Ravens sources tell me John Harbaugh will retain all three of his coordinators in 2011.

That word was passed on to me by two team executives on Saturday night. On both occasions, the reaction was swift and similar in content. “John is very satisfied with his coaching staff and the coordinators aren’t going anywhere, unless, of course, they don’t want to return here.”

It would seem, with that information at our disposal, that Cam Cameron, Greg Mattison and Jerry Rosburg will all be on staff next season.

I opined a few weeks back that I thought Cameron would NOT be retained in 2011 if the Ravens didn’t make the Super Bowl. Personally, if I ran the club? Truth? I wouldn’t bring Cameron back. I think he showed time and time again that he either doesn’t have the right feel for the game from a down-and-distance standpoint or he’s just too much of a gambler for my liking when the clock and the score dictates a more conservative approach. Both of those examples played out on Saturday in Pittsburgh, where he followed through with an attacking mindset in the 3rd quarter even with Baltimore pinned deep in their own territory and losing momentum by the play.

But I don’t run the team and my opinion doesn’t mean jack-squat. John Harbaugh hires and fires his coaching staff and it appears he’s bringing his three coordinators back in 2011.

The ONLY point of contention with Harbaugh and his staff would be intervention from Steve Bisciotti, but one team source indicated on Saturday that Bisciotti too is pleased with Harbaugh and his various coaches and department heads.

“Now is not the time to overreact,” said a team executive in the hours after Saturday’s loss. “Having the owner step in and upset the apple cart after three successful seasons isn’t our way of doing things.”

OK, I’ll agree on that one. Three years ago John Harbaugh was hired to change the direction of the football team. He has done that, with help from Cameron, Mattison and Rosburg.

Now…here’s Drew’s opinion on what the Ravens need to do in 2011.

It’s simple in theory.

The Ravens need an infusion of speed.

They need a fast, stretch-the-field, reliable wide receiver.

They need a speedy, menacing defensive end who can put his hand in the dirt and chase after the quarterback.

And they’re in need of linebackers who can not only play the pass, but can chase the quarterback too when the blitz call has their number on it. Dannell Ellerbe, Jameel McClain and Tavares Gooden — all are decent-enough pro players. But none are the answer to the team’s linebacking issues.

The Ravens probably need a bigger, faster number one cornerback, but their defensive woes are more connected to pass rush than secondary coverage. With all due respect to the more-than-acceptable job that Chris Carr and Josh Wilson gave in 2010, neither of those guys (continued)

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Live From Owings Mills: Mattison Says Suggs, Ngata Will “Be Fine” For Sunday

Posted on 06 January 2011 by Glenn Clark

OWINGS MILLS, Md. — The Baltimore Ravens (12-4) returned to practice Thursday at 1 Winning Drive, inching closer to an AFC Wild Card playoff showdown with the Kansas City Chiefs (10-6) Sunday at Arrowhead Stadium.

After missing practice Wednesday, S Ed Reed (chest) and C Matt Birk (knee) each returned to the practice field Thursday. Reed was a limited participant, Birk participated fully.

DT Haloti Ngata (thigh) and LB Terrell Suggs (knee) did not participate in practice for a second straight day. Ngata was forced to leave the team’s Week 17 win over the Cincinnati Bengals at M&T Bank Stadium in the 2nd half.

“They’re boycotting, they don’t like the cold weather” joked Defensive Coordinator Greg Mattison about the absence of the two Pro Bowl defenders. “It’s not a concern. They’ll both be fine. It’s us knowing where we are in the season, knowing we’ve had a lot of football games. Those two guys have played so well and they understand the defense so well that if they do have a little bump or bruise or something like that it’s best to get them 100% rather than running around.”

S Tom Zbikowski (back), was a limited participant in practice for the second straight day. He’s hoping to return to the field for the first time since leaving the team’s Week 14 win over the Houston Texans at Reliant Stadium in the first half. Zbikowski was listed as a limited participant Wednesday.

Zbikowski told reporters Thursday he “feels better”, but wouldn’t commit to being ready to return to face KC.

LB Dannell Ellerbe (head), LB Tavares Gooden (shoulder), LB Jameel McClain (back) and CB Josh Wilson (head) were all limited participants in practice for a second straight day. WR Derrick Mason (abs/ankle), OT Michael Oher (knee/ankle) and WR/KR David Reed (wrist) were all full participants for a second straight day.

For the Chiefs, WR Dwayne Bowe (illness) returned to practice after missing Wednesday. Bowe was listed as a full participant. G Brian Waters (illness) missed a second straight day, WR Quinten Lawrence (illness) also missed practice Thursday.

NOTES: Hear from Mattison, Offensive Coordinator Cam Cameron, Special Teams Coordinator Jerry Rosburg and LB Jarret Johnson now in the BuyAToyota.com Audio Vault here at WNST.net……CB Cary Williams joined Drew Forrester Thursday on “The Morning Reaction” on AM1570 WNST, that chat is available in the Audio Vault as well……OL Marshal Yanda is scheduled to join Forrester Friday morning at 7:15……Mike Carey’s crew will officiate Sunday’s game……The Ravens will return to practice Friday at 1 Winning Drive, Head Coach John Harbaugh is scheduled to meet with reporters following practice

-G

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Live From Owings Mills: Haloti Ngata Named Ravens MVP

Posted on 05 January 2011 by Glenn Clark

OWINGS MILLS, Md. — The Baltimore Ravens (12-4) returned to practice Wednesday at 1 Winning Drive, continuing preparations for Sunday’s AFC Wild Card playoff battle with the Kansas City Chiefs (10-6) at Arrowhead Stadium.

DT Haloti Ngata was announced Wednesday as the Ravens 2010 Most Valuable Player award, as voted on by media members who cover the team on a daily basis. (This columnist was amongst those who voted for Ngata.)

Ngata set a career high with 5.5 sacks this season and tied career highs with 63 tackles and 5 pass deflections.

“That’s pretty cool” said Ngata after being informed he had won. “I felt like this year has been a little different just with my pass rush, I felt like I got a little better there. Hopefully I can continue to improve and just get better. Hopefully I can be around (Baltimore) more often, because I love being here, I love the guys, I love the fans.”

Ngata will be an important factor as the Ravens go up against the league’s top rushing offense (164.2 yards per game) Sunday in KC.

“(They’re a) great running team, I think everybody knows that” said Ngata. “Their O-Linemen (are) experienced, they’ve got a lot of guys who have been around and they do well moving guys around. Hopefully we can do what we want to do and stop the run first and make them a one dimensional team.”

Ngata was an important cog for a Ravens defense that was pretty good against the run (ranked 5th in the NFL), allowing just 93.9 yards per game.

“We love when teams like to run” added Ngata. “If we can take away their best thing, that’s an advantage for us.”

The Chiefs finished the year with two backs amongst the Top 20 in rushing in the league. RB Jamaal Charles (who finished 2nd in the league with 1,467 yards to go with give touchdowns) is somewhat similar to Tennessee Titans RB Chris Johnson according to Ngata.

“(He’s) just real shifty and quick to the hole. He’s just so fast and quick, he does a lot of things really well. He definitely is different from last year.”

Chiefs RB Thomas Jones also ranked in the Top 20 amongst the league’s rushing leaders; finishing with 896 yards and 6 TD’s.

“Jones is a little bigger” said Ngata. “I think he’s able to hit between the tackles a little bit better. He’s a little bit more patient than Charles.”

In their 2009 matchup at M&T Bank Stadium, the Ravens allowed the Chiefs just 29 yards rushing, including only 8 yards for Charles.

Ngata succeeds RB Ray Rice, who was voted the team’s MVP in 2009.

CARR NAMED “GOOD GUY”: In addition to Team MVP, reporters covering the team on a daily basis also voted a winner of the annual “Media Good Guy” award.

CB Chris Carr was announced as the winner of the award for the 2010 season Wednesday.

“If I won, everybody else must be pretty bad” Carr joked. “I understand that the fans want to hear truth. I try never to lie. Maybe I won’t say how I really feel, but I won’t go up there and give a lie to you guys. I always try to be insightful and truthful to everybody because fans want to hear stuff. They want to be honest and they want accountability as well. I just try to do that every week.

LB Jarret Johnson had received the award in 2009.

INJURY REPORT: Four Ravens did not participate in practice Wednesday.

C Matt Birk (knee), LB Terrell Suggs (knee), S Ed Reed (chest) and Ngata (thigh) were all held out. None are believed to be in serious jeopardy of missing Sunday’s game.

S Tom Zbikowski (back) returned to the practice field Wednesday for the first time since leaving the team’s Week 14 win over the Houston Texans early. He was one of five Ravens who were limited participants in practice. LB Dannell Ellerbe (head), LB Tavares Gooden (shoulder), LB Jameel McClain (back) and CB Josh Wilson (head) were also limited participants.

Head Coach John Harbaugh said he’s “optimistic” Zbikowski can see the field Sunday.

WR/KR David Reed (wrist/head) was a full participant in practice Wednesday; he hasn’t played since suffering a concussion in the team’s Week 15 win over the New Orleans Saints. WR Derrick Mason (abs/ankle) and OT Michael Oher (knee/ankle) were also full participants.

Chiefs WR Dwayne Bowe (illness) missed practice Wednesday. Head Coach Todd Haley did not seem concerned about Bowe’s Sunday status during his Wednesday conference call with Charm City reporters.

Chiefs G Brian Waters (illness) also missed practice Wednesday.

NOTES: Hear from Harbaugh, Ngata, Carr, Rice, QB Joe Flacco and LB Ray Lewis now in the BuyAToyota.com Audio Vault here at WNST.net……Jim Nantz will call Sunday’s game for CBS, he joined Drew Forrester Wednesday on “The Morning Reaction” on AM1570 WNST. That chat is available in the Audio Vault as well……CB Cary Williams is scheduled to join Forrester Thursday at 7:15am……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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Live From Owings Mills: Gooden, Burgess Miss Practice Again

Posted on 30 December 2010 by Glenn Clark

OWINGS MILLS, Md. — The Baltimore Ravens (11-4) returned to practice Thursday at 1 Winning Drive, continuing preparations for Sunday’s regular season finale against the Cincinnati Bengals (4-11) at M&T Bank Stadium.

LB Tavares Gooden missed a second straight day of practice Thursday, he dislocated his shoulder in the Ravens’ Week 16 win over the Cleveland Browns at Cleveland Browns Stadium. Defensive Coordinator Greg Mattison said Thursday he thought Gooden would try to get on the field Sunday.

“He’ll try to if the doctors gave him the okay” said Mattison. “Tavares Gooden will do anything he can do to play, there’s no question. That’s like everybody on our defense. They know how important this game is.”

With a win and a Pittsburgh Steelers loss to the Cleveland Browns, the Ravens would clinch the AFC North title and a first round bye in the AFC playoffs.

S Tom Zbikowski (back) also did not participate in practice Thursday. Zbikowski has not played since being forced to leave the team’s Week 14 win over the Houston Texans at Reliant Stadium in the first half. Head Coach John Harbaugh said Monday he did not expect the safety to be available for Sunday’s game.

S Ed Reed (neck) and LB Prescott Burgess (illness) did not practice Thursday either, neither is believed to be at risk of missing Sunday’s game.

C Matt Birk (knee) returned to practice Thursday and was a full participant after missing Wednesday’s game. TE Todd Heap (thigh), WR Derrick Mason (ankle/abs), TE Dennis Pitta (head) and CB Fabian Washington (back) were all full participants as well.

WR/KR David Reed (wrist/head) was a limited participant Thursday, he’s on track to play Sunday for the first time since suffering a concussion in the team’s Week 15 win over the New Orleans Saints.

The Bengals announced Thursday (via Twitter) WR Chad Ochocinco (ankle) will not make the trip to Charm City.

Three other Bengals did not participate in practice Thursday. TE Jermaine Gresham (knee), CB Johnathan Joseph (ankle) and LB Dan Skuta (back) were not on the practice field.

RB Bernard Scott (toe) was a limited participant for the Bengals Thursday, DE Carlos Dunlap (shoulder) was a full participant.

NOTES: Coordinators Mattison, Cam Cameron & Jerry Rosburg met with reporters following practice Thursday, those chats are available now in the BuyAToyota.com Audio Vault here at WNST.net……OL Chris Chester joined Drew Forrester Thursday on “The Morning Reaction”, that chat is available in the Audio Vault……DE Paul Kruger is scheduled to join Forrester Friday morning at 7:15am……Pete Morelli’s crew will officiate Sunday’s game……The Ravens announced Thursday they will give away purple Under Armour wristbands to fans who attend Sunday’s game. The wristbands are intended to support the Wounded Warrior Project……New Ravens LS Kevin Houser will wear #70. The number was previously worn by Matt Katula, the veteran LS who was released by the team during Training Camp after five seasons in Baltimore……The Ravens will return to practice Friday, Harbaugh is scheduled to meet with the media following Friday’s practice

-G

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Five Ravens Named to AFC Pro Bowl Roster

Posted on 28 December 2010 by Glenn Clark

Five Baltimore Ravens were amongst the players named to the AFC Pro Bowl roster Tuesday.

LB Ray Lewis (12th selection), S Ed Reed (7th), LB Terrell Suggs (4th), DT Haloti Ngata (2nd) and K Billy Cundiff (1st) were all selected to participate in the NFL’s annual All-Star Game. Lewis, Reed and Ngata were selected as starters.

“Wow, No. 12 feels like No. 1,” Lewis said via a team press release. “Every year is a different year, and you prepare each offseason for one year at a time. I tell my teammates that I am going to train to be a Pro Bowl player that season, and my focus paid off again this season. This never gets old. This is the greatest honor ever, because this is from the fans, the coaches and your peers. You can never take anything for granted, and I never take this for granted. I am blessed with great teammates, and I wouldn’t be here without them. I feel this is a team award.”

“This is awesome,” Suggs added in the same press release. “The only thing that would be better than this is a Super Bowl. It has been a long few years, and to come back and be recognized by your peers is amazing. This is something you can’t do by yourself; it takes a unit. I have to thank my teammates, especially the defense – and particularly Haloti [Ngata] – for pushing me to do the little extra things when I didn’t want to.”

Cundiff was selected to his first Pro Bowl barely more than a year removed from being unemployed.

“I am humbled, as this is such a great honor,” Cundiff said in the press release. “This is the result of having great teammates and coaches surrounding you. The rapport that (Punter) Sam [Koch] and (LS) Morgan [Cox] and I developed during training camp was invaluable this season. I worked my butt off to prove to our coaches that they made the right choice, and hopefully, this gives them a little gratification.”

“This is a testament to Billy’s hard work and determination,” Ravens assistant head coach/special teams coordinator Jerry Rosburg added in the press release. “Billy has shown incredible perseverance throughout his career, and he has always remained dedicated to becoming a great kicker in the NFL. I believe that the other players in this league not only respect what he has done, but also how he has done it.  He never lost faith in himself, and he continued to improve.  He is richly deserving of this honor, as is his wife, Nicole, who has been tremendously supportive.”

The 2011 Pro Bowl will be played January 30 at Aloha Stadium in Honolulu, HI. Should the Ravens make it to Super Bowl XLV (which is one week later in Arlington, TX), players would not participate in the Pro Bowl game.

A number of Ravens players were also selected as Pro Bowl alternates.

Koch, FB Le’Ron McClain and G Ben Grubbs were named 1st alternates. QB Joe Flacco and OT Michael Oher were named 3rd alternates. WR Anquan Boldin, RB Ray Rice and S Dawan Landry were named 4th alternates.

“I’m happy for those who made it,” Ravens executive vice president and general manager Ozzie Newsome said in the press release. “I’m also pleased for the alternates who get to know that players and coaches around the league think highly of them. Plus, it gives them something to shoot for.”

Only the Atlanta Falcons (7) and New England Patriots (6) had more players named to the Pro Bowl than the Ravens. The Philadelphia Eagles, Green Bay Packers and Dallas Cowboys also had five players named Pro Bowlers.

Former Ravens who were selected to the Pro Bowl included Falcons FB Ovie Mughelli (1st selection) and Pittsburgh Steelers LB James Harrison (4th selection).

TEAM CHOOSING BETWEEN TWO LONG SNAPPERS: During his weekly radio show Tuesday night on WBAL, Head Coach John Harbaugh said the Ravens were set to choose between two of the long snappers who tried out at the 1 Winning Drive facility in Owings Mills.

The Ravens selection will replace Cox, who will miss the rest of the season with a torn ACL suffered in the team’s Week 16 win over the Cleveland Browns.

National Football Post reported late Tuesday the choice will be between former Seattle Seahawks and New Orleans Saints LS Kevin Houser and former Houston Texans LS Bryan Pittman.

Former Washington Redskins LS Ethan Albright and former Patriots LS Jake Ingram were also amongst those who reportedly tried out.

NOTES
: Cox joined Drew Forrester Tuesday on “The Morning Reaction” on AM1570 WNST, hear that chat now in the BuyAToyota.com Audio Vault here at WNST.net……WR Donte’ Stallworth met with reporters Tuesday after being selected as the team’s Ed Block Courage Award recipient last week. “It [winning the award] means a lot, especially with this being my first year on the team, said Stallworth. “It lets me know that I have made some kind of impact on these guys in the locker room. I’ve always been a person of integrity and tried to always do the right things. It means that people see that that’s the kind of person that I am once they get to know me”……Former Ravens/current Redskins DT Ma’ake Kemoeatu and Former Maryland Terrapins/current Oakland Raiders LB Eric Barton were announced Tuesday as Ed Block Courage Award winners for their respective teams……The Ravens will return to practice Wednesday; Harbaugh, Lewis, Flacco and Rice are amongst the players expected to meet with the media

-G

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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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