Tag Archive | "John Harbaugh"

Ravens scheduled to pick 17th overall as 2014 NFL Draft gets underway

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Ravens scheduled to pick 17th overall as 2014 NFL Draft gets underway

Posted on 08 May 2014 by Luke Jones

OWINGS MILLS, Md. — Slated to pick higher than they have in any draft since 2006, the Ravens enter another critical phase of the offseason with eight selections in the 2014 draft.

With clear needs at right tackle and free safety as well as the desire to improve their depth at cornerback, running back, and the defensive line, general manager Ozzie Newsome will anxiously await how the first 16 picks of the first round play out with uncertainty surrounding a group of quarterbacks with mixed reviews. The Ravens hope to see a run of signal-callers early to improve their chances of the likes of offensive tackles Taylor Lewan and Zack Martin as well as Alabama safety Ha Ha Clinton-Dix being available when they’re on the clock with the 17th overall choice in the first round.

Newsome confirmed at last week’s pre-draft press conference that the Ravens have already fielded calls from teams looking to move up in the first round, and the longtime general manager has a reputation for being willing to move back to accumulate more picks. Baltimore has traded its original first-round choice for later selections in two of the last four drafts.

While most of the Ravens’ brain trust remains in Owings Mills, each of the 32 NFL clubs have representatives in New York who are responsible for delivering the selected names to league officials. Player personnel assistants Kenny Sanders and Matt Jansen are representing Baltimore in New York.

In addition to four original draft choices in this year’s draft, the Ravens were awarded four compensatory picks earlier this offseason. Compensatory picks are prohibited from being traded.

Ravens’ 2014 draft choices
Round 1 – 17th overall pick
Round 2 – 48th overall pick
Round 3 – 79th overall pick
Round 3 – 99th overall pick (compensatory)
Round 4 – 134th overall pick (compensatory)
Round 4 – 138th overall pick (compensatory)
Round 5 – 175th overall pick (compensatory)
Round 6 – 194th overall pick

Follow WNST on Twitter for live updates and analysis from Owings Mills throughout the weekend.

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NFL Draft: Who will the Ravens take 17th overall?

Posted on 02 May 2014 by johngallo

In less than a week, we’ll know.

We’ll know who’s the Ravens’ first pick in the draft, a player who history says should be Pro Bowl-level good.

Of the Ravens’ 18 all-time first-round picks, 10 have gone on to make at least one Pro Bowl. The 10 players have been selected to 51 Pro Bowls as a group, led by Ray Lewis’ 13 and Jonathan Ogden’s 11.

But recent history paints another picture: The Ravens’ past four first-round picks – safety Matt Elam (2013), cornerback Jimmy Smith (2011), tackle Michael Oher (2009) and quarterback Joe Flacco (2008) – have yet to make a Pro Bowl. Flacco, however, is a Super Bowl Most Valuable Player, which in my book – or whatever one you are reading – is more valuable than making a Pro Bowl.

The Ravens are picking at No. 17, which represents their highest pick since taking Flacco at No. 18 in 2008 – and all he did was turn into a $100 million dollar man with a Super Bowl ring.

The Ravens, clearly, have needs after going 8-8 and missing the playoffs for the first time in the John Harbaugh Era. But this year, the Ravens’ needs are much more glaring.

The media’s projection regarding who will be the next Raven is all over the place. While some agree on the position, they don’t agree on the player. How many different names have you seen linked to the Ravens at No. 17?

Harbaugh basically said the Ravens want to add a good person at every position. Really, like what was he going to say – that the Ravens were looking to enter training camp with gaping holes and a roster that includes mediocre draft picks?

“It’s important to add a running back, but we’ve got some other spots, too. It’s important to add an offensive lineman, a wide receiver, a tight end and some depth at quarterback. It’s important to add a safety, a corner, inside backer and a defensive tackle,” Harbaugh said at pre-draft press conference. “So, that’s where I’m at right now.”

Which is where, exactly?

Harbaugh and the Ravens have a list of guys they’re targeting, but they are not sharing.

I am.

Here are three guys I’d love to see don a Ravens cap after hugging Commissioner Roger Goodell in New York City on May 8.

No. 1: Taylor Lewan, OT, Michigan

Height/weight: 6-foot-7, 309 pounds

What he did at the NFL Combine: Raise his draft stock considerably. His.4.87 time in the 40-yard dash, 30.5-inch vertical jump. 117-inch broad jump and 7.39-second three-cone drill all ranked in the top four among offensive linemen. He proved at the combine – and as a four-year starter at the University of Michigan – he has the speed to play in the NFL. However, his 39 reps of lifting 225 pounds tied for 11th with Notre Dame’s Zack Martin, well behind the 42 reps put up by North Carolina’s Russell Bodine. But it’s easier to improve a players’ strength compared to speed.

Why he’s a great fit for the Ravens: Quickly: If the season started tomorrow, who would start at right tackle? Raise your hand if you had Ricky Wagner, a fifth-round pick who played in all 16 games with two starts as a rookie last year. Upgrading an offensive line that was terrible in protecting Flacco and just as bad in creating holes for Ray Rice is critical if the Ravens are going to return to the playoffs. The Ravens have been superb at picking offensive linemen in the first round. Ogden (1996) played in 11 Pro Bowls and was enshrined in the Hall of Fame, while Ben Grubbs (2007) made one. The odd man out: Oher, who never lived up to his lofty expectations and signed with the Titans during the offseason.

No. 2: Darqueze Dennard, CB, Michigan State

Measurements: 5-11, 199

What he did at the NFL Combine: Enough to justify being a first-round pick. His 4.51 in the 40-yard dash tied for 13th in his position, well behind the 4.37 put up by Oklahoma State’s Justin Gilbert, who is regarded as the draft’s best defensive back. But Dennard’s best work was on the field, where he was an All-American and Jim Thorpe (nations best DB) winner at Michigan State who took away the receiver he covered.

Why he’s a great fit for the Ravens: The loss of Corey Graham creates a void in the secondary, as the Ravens need to address safety and defensive back. Dennard’s physical ability and toughness make him too good to pass up if he slides to the Ravens. With Dennard, the question could be, is he the next Chris McAlister, a three-time Pro Bowler the Ravens took in 1999, or the next Jimmy Smith?

No. 3: Calvin Pryor, S, Louisville

Measurements: 5-11, 207

What he did at the NFL Combine: Show he’s one of the strongest safeties in the draft, which makes him attractive to the Ravens since they need a complement to the speedy Matt Elam. Pryor’s 18 reps of 225 pounds tied for fourth at his position, well behind Brock Vereen’s 25, but Pryor is faster than Vereen. Pryor’s 4.58 in the 40-yard dash tied for eighth among safeties, well behind Florida State’s Terrence Brooks, who ran a blistering, 4.42.

Why he’s a great fit for the Ravens: Because the Ravens need someone to fill the huge shoes of future Hall of Famer Ed Reed, a former defensive player of the year and eight-time Pro Bowler. Reed was an absolute steal when the Ravens selected him 24th overall in 2002. Pryor could immediately replace James Ihedigbo, who signed with Detroit during the offseason.

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Ravens begin voluntary conditioning program on Monday

Posted on 21 April 2014 by Luke Jones

The Ravens officially returned to work Monday to begin preparations for the 2014 season.

Harbaugh and his staff, which includes new offensive coordinator Gary Kubiak and several other newcomers, began the first phase of the workout program on April 21. This portion is limited to two weeks of conditioning and strength training as well as physical rehabilitation. Many notable players and young players alike have been present on the first day in past offseasons.

“Good morning y’all!” wide receiver Torrey Smith wrote on his official Twitter account. “Thankful for another day of life and the opportunity to be back with the team.”

The second phase of the offseason schedule covers the next three weeks of the program. On-field workouts that include individual player instruction and drills as well as a practice conducted on a “separate” basis are permitted, but no live contact or team offense against defense drills are permitted.

The final phase of the offseason program consists of the next four weeks. During this period, teams may conduct a total of 10 days of organized team practice activity, or OTAs. No live contact is permitted, but 7-on-7, 9-on-7, and 11-on-11 drills are allowed.

Besides the obvious physical preparations for the 2014 season as the Ravens try to make it back to the playoffs after a disappointing 8-8 season, this spring will be critical from a learning standpoint as players try to adopt Kubiak’s West Coast offensive scheme. Of course, the offseason training program will allow new free-agent additions such as wide receiver Steve Smith and tight end Owen Daniels to get to know their new surroundings and teammates.

Nearly all workouts are considered “voluntary” by definition, but it’s privately expected that players attend regularly. In recent years, Harbaugh has praised his players for their attendance for offseason workouts.

The league’s collective bargaining agreement permits one mandatory minicamp for veteran players, which may occur during the third phase of the offseason. New head coaches are allowed to hold an additional voluntary minicamp for veterans.

Each club may also conduct a rookie football development program for a period of seven weeks, which may begin on May 12. During this period, no activities may be held on weekends except one post-draft rookie minicamp, which may be conducted on either the first or second weekend following the draft.

The date of the post-draft rookie minicamp will be released at a later date.

Here is the Ravens’ 2014 offseason training program schedule that was released earlier this month by the NFL:

First Day: April 21
OTA Offseason Workouts: May 28-30, June 3-5, June 9-10, June 12-13
Mandatory Minicamp: June 17-19

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Ravens, 49ers to hold joint practices in preseason

Posted on 19 April 2014 by Luke Jones

As if a rematch of Super Bowl XLVII in the Ravens’ preseason opener wasn’t enough, head coach John Harbaugh will welcome brother Jim and the San Francisco 49ers for a series of training camp practices in Baltimore.

The Ravens and 49ers will meet at M&T Bank Stadium on Aug. 7 to kick off the preseason schedule before the teams meet for four days of practices in Baltimore. The teams will hold a light practice at the stadium the day after the game followed by three days of joint practices at the Ravens’ training facility in Owings Mills.

“I called Jim about a month ago and asked him if he wanted to do it, and I wasn’t really sure if he’d want to,” Harbaugh told the team’s official website on Friday. “And he was like, ‘Absolutely. Let’s do it.’”

One of the annual themes of training camp is players growing weary of going up against their own teammates, so the decision to invite the 49ers to practice with the Ravens figures to break up the monotony of the summer. Former Ravens wide receiver Anquan Boldin will certainly be familiar returning to the training facility at which he spent three seasons.

It will be interesting to see how the brothers interact with one another while their teams prepare for the 2014 season, and their father, Jack Harbaugh, is expected to be present for the practice sessions.

“He’s going to be the unofficial, official,” Harbaugh said. “He’s going to be in charge of breaking up all fights – different brotherly scuffles. If we start rolling around on the field my dad is going to have to jump in I guess. It’s going to be fantastic. We just can’t wait to do it.”

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Super Bowl XLVII rematch headlines Ravens’ 2014 preseason schedule

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Super Bowl XLVII rematch headlines Ravens’ 2014 preseason schedule

Posted on 09 April 2014 by Luke Jones

The Ravens will kick off the 2014 preseason in a rematch of Super Bowl XLVII when they welcome the San Francisco 49ers to M&T Bank Stadium on Aug. 7.

Though the stakes will be much lower than they were some 14 months ago in New Orleans, head coach John Harbaugh will face off against 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh for the first time since their teams met on the NFL’s biggest stage. The preseason opener will also mark the return of former Ravens wide receiver Anquan Boldin, who was traded to San Francisco last year for a sixth-round pick.

In addition to facing the 49ers for the first time in the preseason, the Ravens will also travel to AT&T Stadium to take on the Dallas Cowboys in Week 2 of the preseason. Baltimore hasn’t played at Dallas since 2008 when they helped close Texas Stadium with an upset win over the Cowboys.

Week 3 will bring the Washington Redskins to Baltimore as the geographic rivals square off in the most important game of the preseason. This year will mark the eighth preseason meeting between the teams as the Ravens hold a 5-2 series lead.

The preseason finale will be played on Aug. 28 when the Ravens travel to the Mercedes-Benz Superdome to face the New Orleans Saints. In their only other preseason meeting, Baltimore beat the Saints in a 2005 contest taking place only hours before Hurricane Katrina devastated the city of New Orleans.

The Ravens will also play at New Orleans during the 2014 regular season, but given the way teams typically rest starters during the final preseason game, this amounts to little more than an interesting coincidence.

Entering their 19th season, the Ravens are 42-29 in all-time preseason play and 15-9 under Harbaugh.

None of this year’s preseason games will be nationally televised, but all will air locally.

Dates for the Dallas and Washington games will be determined at a later date.

Ravens 2014 Preseason Schedule

Week 1: Thursday, Aug. 7 vs. San Francisco 49ers
Week 2: (Date TBD) at Dallas Cowboys
Week 3: (Date TBD) vs. Washington Redskins
Week 4: Thursday, Aug. 28 at New Orleans Saints

 

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Ravens sign running back Forsett to one-year contract

Posted on 04 April 2014 by Luke Jones

OWINGS MILLS, Md. — The Ravens signed veteran running back Justin Forsett to a one-year contract on Friday.

The 28-year-old is a six-year NFL veteran who has appeared in 87 career games during his spent time with Seattle, Indianapolis, Houston, and Jacksonville. Forsett has carried 347 times for 1,692 yards and eight touchdowns.

“He’s got great hands. He does a great job in pass protection,” head coach John Harbaugh said. “Obviously, he can run the ball as a running back [and] also contributes on special teams. He’s a very versatile football player and has had a lot of success since he came into the league.”

Originally drafted by the Seahawks in the seventh round of the 2008 draft, the 5-foot-8, 194-pound running back has also proven to be a capable receiver out of the backfield, collecting 115 catches for 850 yards and a touchdown. His best season came with Seattle in 2009 when he carried 114 times for 619 yards and four touchdowns and caught 41 passes for 350 yards and a touchdown reception.

Spending last season with the Jaguars, Forsett was limited to just nine games before being placed on injured reserve with turf toe and a stress fracture in his foot. He was released last month at the start of free agency but deemed himself fully healthy and ready to go.

“I have a chip on my shoulder the size of Texas,” said Forsett, who pointed to his familiarity with new offensive coordinator Gary Kubiak as a major selling point to come to Baltimore. “I had a lot of adversity last year being in Jacksonville. It made me stronger.

“I know this team is a championship team. I’m at a point in my career where I want to win and I want to win now.”

With starting running back Ray Rice dealing with legal issues and coming off the worst season of his career and third-year back Bernard Pierce recovering from offseason shoulder surgery, Forsett figures to compete for more of a complementary role as a third-down back and special-teams contributor.

The Ravens are still expected to look to the draft to add an impact running back with Rice’s status remaining unclear for the start of the 2014 season.

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Ravens set offseason workout, organized team activity dates

Posted on 04 April 2014 by Luke Jones

Trying to bounce back from missing the postseason for the first time in the John Harbaugh era, the Ravens will officially return to work later this month to begin preparations for the 2014 season.

Harbaugh and his staff, which includes new offensive coordinator Gary Kubiak and several other newcomers, will begin the first phase of the workout program on April 21. This portion limited to two weeks of conditioning and strength training as well as physical rehabilitation. Many notable players and young players alike have been present on the first day in past offseasons.

The second phase of the offseason schedule covers the next three weeks of the program. On-field workouts that include individual player instruction and drills as well as a practice conducted on a “separate” basis are permitted, but no live contact or team offense against defense drills are permitted.

The final phase of the offseason program consists of the next four weeks. During this period, teams may conduct a total of 10 days of organized team practice activity, or OTAs. No live contact is permitted, but 7-on-7, 9-on-7, and 11-on-11 drills are allowed.

Nearly all workouts are considered “voluntary” by definition, but it’s privately expected that players attend regularly. In recent years, Harbaugh has praised his players for their attendance for offseason workouts.

The league’s collective bargaining agreement permits one mandatory minicamp for veteran players, which may occur during the third phase of the offseason. New head coaches are allowed to hold an additional voluntary minicamp for veterans.

Each club may also conduct a rookie football development program for a period of seven weeks, which may begin on May 12. During this period, no activities may be held on weekends except one post-draft rookie minicamp, which may be conducted on either the first or second weekend following the draft.

The date of the post-draft rookie minicamp will be released at a later date.

Here is the Ravens’ 2013 offseason training program schedule that was released earlier this month by the NFL:

First Day: April 21
OTA Offseason Workouts: May 28-30, June 3-5, June 9-10, June 12-13
Mandatory Minicamp: June 17-19

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Harbaugh surprised by Bisciotti adding extra year to his contract

Posted on 25 March 2014 by WNST Staff

John Harbaugh transcript from coaches breakfast in Orlando, courtesy of the PFWA

On safeties: “To me, safeties are interchangeable these days. There are certain traits you look for. I’m looking at the safeties
now in the draft. You want tacklers and you want guys with range and you wants guys with ball skills.”

On contract extension: “I guess the first thing I said was, ‘Why?’ He said, ‘Because that’s the best I can do and I want to do as much as I can.’ It’s a big statement. Steve’s a great leader. We had a seminar yesterday on culture building and things like that, which was good, and listening and thinking about in our building, we have that every day. You couldn’t get a better leader, or a man that understands group dynamics, understands how to build people up, how to bring together people in a way that is necessary for success and for treating each other with respect. We have a great leader at the top of our organization and his influence runs through the whole organization. He has a strong hand on what we’re doing that way. He does it in a soft-handed kind of way. He inspired, he transforms and he builds. It goes to Dick and to Ozzie and right through our organization.”

On Zuttah: “We traded for Jeremy for him to be the starting center. That’s the plan. Had a conversation with Gino yesterday. It was good communication and he’s in a good place. Gino’s a solid young guy. Jeremy is a more experienced center/guard in this league. The thing I liked on tape – we studied him pretty hard – he’s a big, rangy guy. He’s got length, he’s got size in there, he’s got experience and he’s also got, we think, a knack for the scheme we’re going to run offensively. He’s a good fit for us.”

Done in free agency?: “No way. There’s always more to be done. I don’t know if Steve and Ozzie feel that way, but I sure feel that way. And I do think they feel that way. It’s a process for sure. I think we’ve made full use of the first couple phases of free agency, but you guys know there’s still more to it. There’s going to be some cap casualties, we still have some of our own players that we’re talking to, there’s still a couple free agents out there that we are involved with. Then will be the draft, then the June 1st cuts, then finalizing our roster throughout training camp. I think we’re actively engaged with a number of guys, some on our team and some who are free agents.”

On why Ihedigbo wasn’t re-signed: “It’s just this whole free agent process. There’s such a cycle there. He didn’t fit us financially like we wanted. It’s not just now. It’s when you look down the road and you structure your salary cap. It’s who you’re going to be able to hold onto and who you can’t. We went with a younger guy who was a little less expensive and who also fits us.”

What’s Osemele’s best position?: “He can do both. Right now, the plan is to play him at left guard. That’s where I see him playing next year. Could that change? Certainly, with the draft and that kind of thing. But let’s keep him in there at left guard. He’s got a lot of experience in there right now, he’s comfortable there, he likes playing on the left side. It provides us with some real size inside, some length inside, which is good. We can run all those twists and games and things in there, keep the pocket deep for Joe. That’s where we’re going right now and we’ll see how it plays out.”

Is right tackle a prominent spot to fill?: “Both. We are really confident in Rick and Jah. Those are two guys that will compete for the right tackle spot. As Steve mentioned, no glaring holes, that tells you we feel confident in our offensive line as it’s constructed right now. But that’s not to say we’re not going to try to get better. If we draft a guard, say, high, that would move Kelechi out to tackle. If we draft a tackle somewhere in there or someone comes in and wins the job then they’re the best player. But what we have been able to construct at this point is depth. We’ve got a nice front. We feel like we’ve got the right kind of players in there that can be the type of offensive line that we envision – tough physical, big strong, fast offensive line and smart too. We could play right now, but we also want to get better.”

How do you fill Arthur Jones’ spot?: “Brandon Williams is a big part of our plan. He is a guy that automatically comes to mind. Kapron Lewis-Moore is out a five-technique so he provides some depth there with Chris Canty, obviously. You’ve got Canty at defensive end, Haloti at nose guard. Look at it this way. You’ve got Haloti and Brandon as the two defensive tackles if you want to look at it from the 4-3 perspective. Those guys can both play the nose and three-technique. Kapron Lewis-Moore can probably play some of that three-technique. And I would say we’re not done yet. We’ve still got some work to do in there to build depth.”

What spots still need to be addressed?: “I think we need to bolster the defensive line a little bit. We need to bolster our inside linebacker position – at least one, maybe two guys. We need to bolster the corner position, like Steve said, build some competition for the third corner position and even push the other two guys. Chykie is part of that mix, Chykie and Asa. I’ve seen some of the work Chykie has been doing in the offseason. He’s been working very hard. Free safety, certainly. Darian Stewart is a guy we’re excited about. He’s a guy we know a little more about than most people because of Steve [Spagnuolo’s] experience with him. He’s a good, young player. I really liked him on the tape. When our fans see him play, they’re going to like the way he plays. One of his issues has been durability. He’s had some soft tissue issues over the years and hasn’t been able to play a full season. As soon as he gets here, we’re going to get to work on that. Now he just got married this last weekend, so we’re going to give him a little time. I think he’s coming in to sign his contract before he goes on honeymoon. We’re going to encourage a short honeymoon. Get back to work Darian.”

Jeromy Miles factoring in at FS?: “Yes, Jeremy has a chance to factor in. He’s tall and rangy and Jeremy has good ball skills. He might be another Corey Graham type of guy. Sometimes you play so well on special teams that you get labelled a little bit that way. The conversation he and I had was, ‘Hey, don’t lose that. You don’t trade that in. That’s something that you want to hold onto. That adds value to what you’re doing. Continue to be a dominant special teams player.’ But he’ll have a chance to compete for a starting spot, just like Brendon [Ayanbadejo] did as the starting dime linebacker when everybody said he was only a special teams player. Corey Graham became the starting corner for us and everybody said he was only a special teams player. Jeremy has the same opportunity with us.”

Spending some money: “It’s always nice to have money in your pocket right. And this is the first time we’ve had money. It’s been great. I think we’ve really been wise. … We’re going to try invest it really wisely. It’s going to be interesting to see where we can use it. Some of it might be with a couple guys that are still with us too.”

Ray Rice situation: “I’m very confident that he’s someone we want as part of our team. He will be a part of our team. He’s a person of character. The thing that’s really important is to be able to support the person without condoning the action. There’s no justifying what happened. When you drink too much in public, those kind of things happen. Really that’s what happened with Jah Reid as well. You can’t get drunk at a bar, you just can’t do it. You’re not a kid anymore and you’ve got responsibilities to not just yourself, but your family and your organization and your teammates and it’s unacceptable. You can’t be riding around in a car with marijuana in your bag. I don’t care what your reason or your excuse is for it. You can’t be riding around with guys that you have no business riding around with. Those are the core issues those guys had and we addressed them with those guys directly. It’s unacceptable, it’s disappointing. But you also separate the person from the activitiy and redemption is something we think is important as well. If there’s every a point in time when we feel like that person has lost value for our team, really it starts with football, or because of their character they’re no longer what we want to have be a part of us, then you move on from those guys. But those guys aren’t at that point yet.”

On Broncos, Pats spending: “I was disappointed with the moves that the Broncos and Patriots made in the offseason. What more can I say? I thought they did a great job and that disturbed me. We’ll find out. The proof is in the pudding. But obviously they’ve added some pieces. I think both of those teams do a great job. They make great decisions, they’ve very particular with who they add and they add the player they need in the spot they need. It seems they draft that way as well. You’ve got to applaud what they’ve done. But we’ll play games in the fall and see how it plays out.”

On adding a backup quarterback: “Well, you know, Tyrod’s only got one year left on his contract. We’ve been very happy with Tyrod, and we feel like he has a great future, but we have been a little disappointed how he’s played in games certainly. We feel like he’s a lot better than he’s showed. I know he feels that way too. We feel like Tyrod’s best football is by far definitely in front of him, but he’s only got one year left with us, so we need to add a quarterback into the mix, whether it be offseason or in the draft.”

On Steve Smith being a locker room distraction: “It’s always a concern, your chemistry. Chemistry is really important, and it’s something that
I think every team should be working really hard to try it build. It starts with the type of person that you bring in as a coach and then as a player.
But through our investigations I guess you can call it, we came away feeling really good about the impact Steve is going to have on our team that way.
He’s a tough competitor. He’s a mature grown man. He’s a family man. He’s a man of faith. I think the world of him. I always have. We have a relationship
that goes back to when he was a rookie, and we’ve kept in touch throughout his whole career in the NFL. And then when we came in for the visit, all of
the things he said unprompted were all the things that I wanted to hear, and I just think he’s going to be good for all of us, and he can play.
We’re excited about him.”

On what he heard from Smith that he liked: “I wanted to hear kind of his view on how he was going to fit in and what his role would be, and I think those
quotes are kind of public out there. I don’t want to speak for him, but I think he understands the culture’s in place and a way of doing things is in place,
and he wants to be a part of that. I didn’t have to explain to him and him go, ‘Oh ok. I get that.’ He was explaining to me how he saw us and how he saw his
role, and that was the same vision that I had for how he was going to fit in. He’s going to be great with our young receivers. He’s going to show them a
little bit of the way in practice and how to compete on Sunday. I’m excited about that. Plus, he’s a really hard worker.”

On the Panthers’ decision to let Smith go: “Everybody’s situation is different financially and where they’re at with building their team. We had to let
Anquan Boldin go last year, and that was very painful. These are tough decisions that you’re forced to make because we’re in a salary cap league. Not
just for this year but for future years down the road, I don’t know their situation, but they make wise decisions over there. They’re smart guys.”

On how Smith has evolved over the years: “I don’t know. I wasn’t around him every day, so I can’t speak directly to exactly how he was on a day-to-day basis.
I just always liked him. I just liked being around him and what he stands for as a competitor more than anything.”

On how Marlon Brown fits into the receiver rotation: “He’s competing for a starting spot. It’s not a two receiver league anymore. It’s not like you’ve got
your two starters and then your No. 3 guy is a slot receiver. That’s the way that people kind of want to label it. It’s just more complex than that. And with
Jacoby, you’ve got four guys right there that are going to play a lot of football. And one thing I think coach Kubiak does a great job of is he understands
how to put guys in a position to play to their strengths. He knows Jacoby very well, and Jacoby has only gotten better since he’s been here. He’s matured as
a player and a person. Steve Smith has certain things that he does extremely well. So does Marlon Brown, and Marlon’s going to obviously I would think make
leaps and bounds from Year One to Year Two. Aaron Mellette is still in the mix. And Torrey, Torrey has become a more complete receiver, so I think that
Gary’s got some guys that he’s excited to work with, so I can’t wait to see how he uses them.”

On Rolando McClain: “I have not had discussions with Rolando personally. We have spoken with him to my knowledge. I mean Ozzie may have talked to him at some
point because of Alabama and all that kind of stuff. To me, it all depends on a couple things. Who [is he] as a person right now? Has he grown up? He had a
lot of growing up to do obviously. And how hard he’s working, how hard he’s working at Alabama right now. If he’s working his rear end off, then I’m kind of
excited about him. If he’s not, then I’ve got no interest in him being on our team.”

On if there is a set time when the team would like to know Rolando’s plans by: “I don’t know. I’ll just wait and see what he does. If he unretires or whatever
the situation is, then we’ll decide whether he is going to be good for our team. And if we think yes, then we have the rights to him and he’ll have to come
back with us. And from what I’ve heard, he wants to come back — if he comes back — with the Ravens. But if we don’t think he’ll be good for our team, we’ll
let him go and play for somebody else. It’s all up to Rolando McClain. Who are you? How hard are you working? And how much do you want to play football?
Up to this point, he hasn’t really wanted to play football. That’s what I’m interested in as a coach.”

On what was the Ravens’ No. 1 issue heading into the offseason: “I don’t rank those things. I really don’t. I don’t have that list in front of me.”

On how he encouraged by the shape Ray Rice is in: “Very encouraged. Very encouraged by how hard Ray is working, just from a football standpoint. He’s got a
great trainer. We hired a guy, Billy DeLorbe. I don’t know if you saw that or not. We’re trying to expand our training methods. Our guys work really hard.
[Head strength and conditioning coach] Bob Rogucki and [assistant strength and conditioning coach] Juney [Barnett] do a great job in the weight room, but
we also felt like there were some things we could tie together a little better with core work, with conditioning, with proprioception and with different
types of training methods — more body weight-oriented training methods that don’t bulk guys up quite as much. We think there’s a couple guys — Ray being
one of those guys — that can really benefit from this type of training, so we’re going to incorporate that with our team this year, and Billy is going to
have a big impact on guys like Ray.”

On whether the team plans to move Matt Elam to strong safety: “Matt played a lot of strong safety last year. So like I’ve said, those guys are kind of
interchangeable. I like both safeties being able to play both positions. The free safety so to speak is really the weak safety, lines up on the weak side
of the passing strength. The strong safety lines up on the strong side of the passing strength. It’s not really a matter of a box guy and a deep guy. You
rotate weak and the free safety is down and the strong safety is back. If you play a split safety coverage, they’re both high. So they’ve got to be able
to do all those things well. So we’ll just have to see how it plays out. Darian [Stewart] can play the free safety spot. So if we’re starting out, Darian
would start out at free safety and the weak-side safety and Matt would start out as the strong-side safety, but that’s going to change as we line
up in different defenses.”

On how important it is for Joe Flacco to get throwing sessions together with his receivers: “Doing extra work is critically important as far as the strength
and conditioning — balance-, body control-, foot quickness-, athleticism-type things because they’re with us so little. The management council and the players
association have got to get together and help us as organizations and coaches help our young players develop as people and players. I mean come on. You hold
us responsible and want us to be a factor in their lives like the mentoring program and things like that. Give us a chance. We don’t see these guys until
April 21. Our guys are chomping at the bit to be in the building. They’re in the building working out. We can’t have a conversation with them other than
‘Hi, how are you doing,?’ This is not the NCAA. This is not recruiting. These are our guys. We want what’s best for our players. That’s what’s good for
the league. That’s what good for these young men. And that’s what they want. Young guys want a chance to compete in the National Football League for a
job. They want to go see their position coach. They want to learn football. It’s their craft. And we’re saying, ‘No, you can’t do it?’ Why? Because of
the collective bargaining agreement that makes no sense? Because somebody wanted to get their little win here vs. their little win over there? Get
together and do what’s best for these players, and it’s about time that somebody stepped to the plate and realized that and [took] the politics out of it.”

On Flacco getting the throwing sessions together: “From my understanding, he’s doing that. They’ve got some things planned, a throwing session. I’m not sure
where. I’ve heard different sites. Joe’s got to get that worked out. That’s up to him to do. But I’ve heard they’re doing that. Joe has kind of communicated
that through texts, and Torrey has told me that they have a session planned and are trying to work out the dates and all that. I’ll be happy when I read
about it in Pro Football Talk and NFL.com. I’ll be looking forward to seeing how it goes. It is important. It’s big.”

On where Steve Smith is physically: “I think Steve Smith can still play. We watched the tape — not just from last year but previous years. Numbers are part
of it. He’s not the same jet that he was when he was younger. I was at Disney with my daughter and stuff like that, and some of those roller coasters are
pretty fast. They just explode off the rails now. I think he’s not quite that. After the catch, what he used to do is he would make a catch and he’d run
a wide arc and just outrun the defender. That’s the one thing that you don’t see anymore. He’ll usually get tackled on an angle now. But that’s something
he’s even talked about improving and making a tighter transition after the catch and getting upfield after the catch more quickly, so that’s something
he’s probably going to adapt. But he’s still got plenty left. He makes tough catches in traffic. He makes tough catches outside. He catches nine-routes.
He catches comebacks. He catches stop 9s. All of the tough catches outside, he makes. He’s still a tremendous competitor, and I think he’s going to
bring some grit to our offense. He’s going to help us.”

Why Steve Smith didn’t catch as many deep balls?: “I don’t have any observations on their offense. I just haven’t watched them enough to say and I wouldn’t.
But I saw him catch the deep balls. When he had a chance, when he was running a nine-route or an eight-route and he was even with the defender, he was
leaving still. He was able to accelerate and go make the catch. If he does it, that means he still can do it and that’s all we really need to see.”

Expectations for Joe Flacco: “The expectations are high for Joe. They always are. They were high last year. Yeah, they are.”

How will more familiar faces help Flacco?: “It doesn’t matter about last year. Joe’s responsibility is to learn from it and he learned from every mistake,
he learned from every game. Joe improved in some ways last year that I really haven’t seen you guys write about too much for whatever reason. Because of what
we went through last year, Joe became a better playmaker on the extended play. He scrambled around and made some huge plays for us that won us some games.
I like the fact that he’s going to take that step that he took last year into next season on top of all the things that you’re talking about. I’m excited
about the kind of year that Joe can have next year, but really, it’s not just Joe. It’s all of us. We all have to be better. We all have to be the best
that we can be. So adding players, changing scheme, trying to build around Joe’s strengths but also all the other guy’s strengths, that’s really what you do.”

What happened last year with Ray Rice?: “It’s too complex just to give you the bullet points off the top of my head. I probably wouldn’t do a good job of it
because I don’t have my notes. But the biggest thing was he got hurt early. He strained his hip, a hip flexor. He tried to come back and re-strained it.
He tried to fight through it the whole year and he was probably good enough to play, but not good enough to excel. And he got a little bulked up and he put
on some weight. I’ve seen reports that he got up to 225. I never saw that number on the scale. 217 was the highest I saw on the scale. Ray has come out and
said that’s too big for him. We talked about some of the stuff that we’ve done with our training program to try and lean him up a little bit. He’s under 210
right now. I’d like to see him around 207, 205, 207. That’s where he was his first couple of years and then he crept up to about 212 in the Super Bowl year.
IT was still good for him, he was still very explosive. And then last year through the injury, he got up to at least 217, which was just too big.”

Other areas where Flacco improved: “I don’t have that list in front of me. Guys always improved. He improved with mechanics, he improved with progressions,
he improved with understanding protections. I think his overall knowledge of the game is getting into that neighborhood where you want to see that veteran
quarterback, a six, seven, eight-year guy. His understanding of defenses and how they work, all those things. Now, he’s got to take that knowledge and apply
it to our offense and to the system that Coach Kubiak is going to bring in. Having a chance to sit down and study the system now for the last couple of months,
I think it’s going to really fit Joe very well. That was part of the excitement of hiring Gary. Gary’s a great teacher, he has a system that he understands
and believes in and is a very straight forward system. I think Joe is going to benefit from that.”

Is the playbook done?: “Right. I don’t know how long they’ve had it but they have it now, though. Recently they got it. They have their books now.
It’s been at least a week.”

How did Rick Wagner play in his rookie year?: “Rick played well. He didn’t play well early. I think he was kind of overwhelmed by it. Rick’s the kind of guy
that it seems like his personality is where he really needs to know what he’s doing before he really can cut it loose. We put him in that role as a move tight
end with the extra offensive lineman down at the goal line in short-yard situations and he was very bad at it early and he became very good at it toward the
end. You start to learn how a guy things so you learn how to teach him a little bit. I think he’s going to be a guy that’s going to need a lot of reps to gain
his confidence. And once he gains confidence in his techniques, he’ll be really good at it. Juan [Castillo] is a great trainer of offensive linemen, one of
the best in the league if not the best at training guys in techniques. We think that Rick’s going to really benefit from that.”

Any scenario where Rick Wagner starts at right tackle?: “Oh yeah. Rick probably goes in as the starting right tackle right now. That’s the way I see it.
We aren’t playing a game right now so it really doesn’t matter. He and Jah [Reid] will be competing and Jah is very determined right now as he should be.
It’s going to be a good battle and we’ll see if we add somebody in the mix.”

Will you pick up fifth-year option on Jimmy Smith?: “We have no doubt that we’ll be investing the option in Jimmy when the time comes. We are hopeful that
we can sign Jimmy long-term. That will be our goal. I would say the same thing about Torrey. Torrey Smith wasn’t a first-round pick but we are really happy
with that draft class and those guys. We want those guys to be Ravens for a long time.”

Your take on instant replay?: “We’re on record in Baltimore the last four or five years of being in favor of putting everything in instant replay that can
be put in instant replay. It’s our feeling that the technology has caught up with the game in a lot of ways. Sometimes, we lag behind the technology a
little bit and you should. You should come to change slowly and you should do things for the right reasons. I think the league is right in doing that, but
it’s about time now to recognize that when the fans have a better view of the game than the referee does, then it’s time to put the referee in the same
playing field as the fans and you do that through the technology. They have great ideas and ways to do it. I tend to agree with Coach Belichick. I think
everything should be reviewed. If not, work back from what shouldn’t be reviewed. Don’t work out from what should be reviewed because right now, all we
do every year is we add things for review cause a play happens like the San Francisco play. You say, ‘Oh boy, that’s a loophole that should be reviewed,’
so we add it. That’s the tail wagging the dog. Everything that can be reviewed should be reviewed and what those specifically would not include, we
could decide. We could have that conversation. How to do it – whether it goes back to the NFL office which we’re in favor of, I’m in favor of – that
sounds like a great plan. It’s already being worked in hockey. Let’s make sure the outcome is right so when the game is all said and done, the fans
aren’t blaming the officials for the outcome of the game one way or another. They’re blaming or patting the players and coaches on the back. That’s
where the outcome of the game should be and technology now gives us the opportunity to do that. Don’t put the referee in a situation where real time
and the fans have a better view of the play than he does. That makes no sense. That’s our view.”

Need more challenges: “I don’t know. I’d be for more challenges. I think the time argument is bogus. College does it very quickly. I like the coach having
the challenge. I think it adds some excitement to the game and some strategy to the game that is fun and I feel like would give us an advantage because I
feel we would be good at that. However, they decide to do it, it would not slow down the game and it would not take the game out of the referee’s hands.
He would still control the game. It’s just a matter of time before it comes to that.”

Thoughts on expanded playoffs: “I agree with Steve [Bisciotti] on that. I think Steve is right about that. It’s going to be good for the game. It’s good
for players, good for fans. It’s going to be exciting. I don’t know about the Monday night game. It’s going to be interesting to see how that plays out.’

Looking back at last year, anything you wish you did differently: “Lots of things. We try every year to overhaul everything we do, to put everything under
a microscope. I don’t think we’ve had much of a chance to do that last year and honestly, frankly, when you win a Super Bowl, you’re less inclined to do that.
Not because you don’t think you have things to correct, but you really don’t have time to do it. We’ve had more time than we really want and need to do it
this year and we’ve made a lot of changes to a lot of things we’re doing – more mechanical, structural, methodology as opposed to principal-based stuff.
We always say our principals are written in stone, our methods are not. We got methods that we’re changing.”

Thoughts when heard the reports about Browns’ interest in brother: “I laughed. First, I was ticked off because he hadn’t told me about this.
I’m his brother. I’m supposed to know. I called him, and he just laughed about it.”

Thoughts about playing against Jim twice a year: “Only briefly, until I found out there was nothing to it. Nah, I never really thought about that
because I didn’t hear about it until after the fact. I was at the combine when it all broke. I may have been sitting next to him when it all
broke. That would be very, very tough.”

Jim’s reaction to news: “He was kind of incredulous. I’m sure there was some conversation. I think everybody said there was a dialogue. But how
serious it was … I guess it was fun to talk about. On our team, you always try to make your team better. So, I guess the Browns were
trying to make their team better.”

Training camp plans: “We’ve always had a training camp. Our training camp this year will be more physical that it was last year. We’re younger
than we were two years ago, and we need it more. But we’ll always gauge it for individual players. The young guys are going to get more of that than
the veteran guys. Chris Canty, for instance, is not going to line up in two-on-one combination block drills. But Brandon Williams is. He needs it.
It’s going to be a tough, physical training camp. We’re going to wring everything we can out of every single second. We’re going to become the best
team we can possibly become. Our guys know how to work. Ask a guy like Terrell Suggs, our guys know how to work.”

Chykie Brown: “The biggest thing with him is attention to detail. He’s way more detail-oriented than he used to be. That’s been the key for him.
If he’ll be a detailed press corner – if he’ll put his hands on people and stay squared and be physical at the line of scrimmage and communicate with
the safety on every single play –Chykie can play. It’s the lapses that he has to get out of his game. He knows that. He’s working hard at that.”

Progression for Chykie: “Huge steps last year. When he played, he played really well. Chykie’s ready. We’ll see how ready. He’s ready to make a
run with a lot more playing time.”

Free safety prospects in draft: “I just started looking at the safeties this week. It’s a good group. It’s a really good group. How good?
How deep? I haven’t been through them all yet, so I don’t know. I saw Clinton-Dix yesterday on tape and he looks good. He’s going to go high. We’ll see where.”

Is Owen Daniels on your radar: “We’re looking at Owen Daniels. We’re looking at Ed Dickson. There are a couple other tight ends we’re looking at.
We just have to see how it plays out. It’s got to be a fit for everybody. There’s a lot to it financially and other things. He’s in our conversation.”

Eric Winston: “Not so much Eric. We’re not talking to Eric right now. That’s not to say it couldn’t change, but that’s not a guy we’re talking to right now.”

Draft pick for McKinnie, is it 2015: “Yes, that’s my understanding.”

Surprised by compensatory picks: “I was pleased that they were that high. We knew that was a possibility. It just goes to show you the quality of
the players that we lost. We led the league since 2008 in terms of losing players and having success through that. We’re pretty proud of that.
Compensatory picks go with losing good players. We try to make good use of those picks. That was really good news.”

Torrey Smith extension talks: “I know nothing. I know the coach wants him long term.”

Corey Graham: “He was hugely valuable to us, and we were very disappointed to lose him. In the end, we couldn’t compete with Buffalo’s offer and the
fact that he was going back home. That means a lot to Corey and his family. He’s a really good football player. They paid him accordingly. He’s a great
special teams player. But, like we said before, sometimes these players who are great special teams players get labeled and people assume they’re not
good defensive players. He got the opportunity with us to demonstrate how well he could play corner.”

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Harbaugh addresses slew of topics at NFL owners meetings

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Harbaugh addresses slew of topics at NFL owners meetings

Posted on 25 March 2014 by Luke Jones

Speaking to reporters gathered in Orlando for this week’s NFL owners meetings, Ravens coach John Harbaugh touched on an array of topics ranging Tuesday morning, from the status of running back Ray Rice to the backup quarterback position.

A day after owner Steve Bisciotti made it clear that Rice would remain with the organization despite his legal trouble, Harbaugh reiterated his support for the troubled 27-year-old while acknowledging the obvious embarrassment felt over the Ravens’ three arrests this offseason that have prompted many to question team leadership. Wide receiver Deonte Thompson and offensive lineman Jah Reid were also arrested in a three-week period that started with Rice’s domestic violence incident in Atlantic City last month.

Harbaugh confirmed what many assumed in stating that newly-acquired veteran Jeremy Zuttah projects to be the Ravens’ starting center in 2014, replacing incumbent and 2012 fourth-round pick Gino Gradkowski.

“We traded for Jeremy for him to be the starting center. That’s the plan,” Harbaugh told reporters in Orlando. “[I] had a conversation with Gino yesterday. It was good communication and he’s in a good place. Gino’s a solid young guy. Jeremy is a more experienced center/guard in this league. The thing I liked on tape – we studied him pretty hard – he’s a big, rangy guy. He’s got length, he’s got size in there, he’s got experience and he’s also got, we think, a knack for the scheme we’re going to run offensively. He’s a good fit for us.”

The coach added that the organization would prefer to keep Kelechi Osemele at left guard and views second-year lineman Rick Wagner as the current starting right tackle among players under contract. Of course, the Ravens are expected to continue the search for more help in free agency and the draft, so the offensive line remains fluid beyond the four known starters: left tackle Eugene Monroe, right guard Marshal Yanda, Zuttah, and Osemele.

After recent reports that the Ravens were interested in quarterback Brandon Weeden before he signed in Dallas, Harbaugh confirmed that the organization is exploring the possibility of adding another quarterback. Current backup Tyrod Taylor has one year remaining on his rookie contract, but the head coach confirmed that the Ravens haven’t been overwhelmed with how the 2011 sixth-round pick has played in limited opportunities. Baltimore has carried only two quarterbacks on its 53-man roster in each of the last four seasons.

“We’ve been very happy with Tyrod, and we feel like he has a great future,” Harbaugh said, “but we have been a little disappointed how he’s played in games certainly. We feel like he’s a lot better than he’s showed. I know he feels that way too. We feel like Tyrod’s best football is by far definitely in front of him, but he’s only got one year left with us, so we need to add a quarterback into the mix, whether it be offseason or in the draft.”

The tight end position remains a point of discussion as Harbaugh confirmed interest in re-signing Ed Dickson while acknowledging interest in former Houston Texans tight end Owen Daniels, who obviously has strong ties with new offensive coordinator Gary Kubiak and new tight ends coach Brian Pariani. Dennis Pitta and University of Maryland product Matt Furstenburg are the only tight ends currently under contract.

Reporters asked Harbaugh about the status of retired linebacker Rolando McClain, whose rights are still owned by the Ravens. The coach didn’t completely rule out a return for the 24-year-old but added that he hasn’t spoken to McClain and remains skeptical unless he receives proof that the former Oakland Raider is working hard and is serious about returning to football.

“Who [is he] as a person right now? Has he grown up?” Harbaugh said of McClain. “He had a lot of growing up to do obviously. And how hard he’s working, how hard he’s working at Alabama right now. If he’s working his rear end off, then I’m kind of excited about him. If he’s not, then I’ve got no interest in him being on our team.”

Harbaugh confirmed that the Ravens will pick up the contract option for 2011 first-round cornerback Jimmy Smith as this is the first year we’ve seen this part of the rookie system come into play after the collective bargaining agreement that went into effect in 2011 standardized four-year contracts for all drafted players. The system does present teams a fifth-year option to use for first-round picks entering the final year of their rookie deals. The Ravens hope to sign both Smith and wide receiver Torrey Smith — also entering the final year of his rookie deal — to long-term extensions to keep them in Baltimore.

Baltimore is still looking to draft a safety despite last week’s signing of Darian Stewart, and Harbaugh offered praise for Alabama’s Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, who is projected to be a first-round pick and regarded as the top safety in the draft. General manager Ozzie Newsome said at the start of the offseason that the Ravens would be looking to add a more athletic safety with 2013 first-round pick Matt Elam expected to play closer to the line of scrimmage.

“Safeties are interchangeable these days,” Harbaugh said. “There are certain traits you look for. I’m looking at the safeties now in the draft. You want tacklers and you want guys with range and you wants guys with ball skills.”

The Ravens would also like to add depth on the defensive line following the free-agent departure of Arthur Jones, but 2013 third-round pick Brandon Williams is the current favorite to take Jones’ starting spot.

According to the coach, Kubiak recently put the finishing touches on the Ravens’ new offensive playbook before it was then distributed to players. Harbaugh was also told that quarterback Joe Flacco has plans to get together with his wide receivers for informal throwing sessions before the start of the offseason training program next month.

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Bisciotti vows troubled running back Ray Rice not going anywhere

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Bisciotti vows troubled running back Ray Rice not going anywhere

Posted on 25 March 2014 by Luke Jones

Echoing the sentiments offered by head coach John Harbaugh and general Ozzie Newsome in recent weeks, Ravens owner Steve Bisciotti offered his support to running back Ray Rice and reiterated that he will be part of the team in 2014.

Speaking to The Baltimore Sun as the league meetings commenced in Orlando on Monday, Bisciotti described the incident as “disappointing” and one that the running back will live with for the rest of his life, but Rice’s future with the organization — at least for the upcoming season — isn’t in jeopardy regardless of how the legal situation is resolved. Rice and Janay Palmer were arrested and charged with simple assault-domestic violence in mid-February after the two allegedly struck one another with their hands.

“Ray will be here,” Bisciotti said. “This is a singular moment six years after we drafted him. It’s embarrassing for him and his fiancée. It is especially hard to see somebody that is proud of his reputation have to take this kind of public-relations hit.”

Atlantic City police referred the case to the county prosecutor’s office for review, but there’s been no update if any additional or different charges have been filed.

NOTES: The Ravens awarded Harbaugh with an extra year on his current contract, extending him through the 2017 season. Bisciotti said he offered an extra year to his head coach as a show of support that nothing has changed in his mind despite Baltimore missing the postseason last year for the first time since 2007. … Bisciotti also confirmed the Ravens will honor future Hall of Fame linebacker Ray Lewis with a statue planned to be unveiled outside M&T Bank Stadium before the start of the 2014 season. The likeness of Lewis will stand in Unitas Plaza.

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