Tag Archive | "jonathan ogden"

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Stover Ring Of Honor No-Brainer, But Who Will Join Him?

Posted on 27 May 2011 by Glenn Clark

OWINGS MILLS, Md. — Former Baltimore Ravens kicker Matt Stover formalized his retirement Thursday in a press conference at 1 Winning Drive.

“Playing for the Baltimore Ravens, I think I’ve always said that it’s a privilege” said Stover. “Being in the league has been a privilege-more than you can imagine.”

Stover had not kicked for the Ravens since the end of the 2008 season, he had not kicked in the National Football League at all since spending the end of the 2009 season with the Indianapolis Colts.

Stover, 43, spent 13 seasons in Charm City after coming to the city when the Cleveland Browns moved following the 1995 season. He was the only remaining player who came from Cleveland until he left after ’08.

During his 13 seasons in Baltimore, Stover made 354 of his 418 field goal attempts (84.6%), finishing 471/563 (83.7%) for his career. He was named the AFC’s Pro Bowl kicker twice in his career, including once in Baltimore (2000), the same season he played a significant role in helping the Ravens win Super Bowl XXXV, the only Super Bowl title in the team’s brief history.

It came with no surprise that Ravens owner Steve Bisciotti announced that the team would induct Stover into their Ring of Honor on November 20th when the team hosts the Cincinnati Bengals.

“The thing about being in the Ring of Honor is that I meant to much to my team, the community” said Stover. “That to me is an awesome, awesome privilege. I can’t imagine any greater honor that an organization can give to a player, and I appreciate the Ravens doing that. I’ll be proud to do it…to retire as a Raven with some other great players.”

Stover’s on-field role would have been enough to guarantee his inclusion, but his community involvement (most notably with the local Fellowship of Christian Athletes) set him apart from other successful players in franchise history. Stover was a beloved figure during his time in Baltimore, even amongst fans who wouldn’t be considered amongst the most passionate.

Clearly Stover meets all qualifications to join OT Jonathan Ogden, LB Peter Boulware, DE Michael McCrary, Former Owner Art Modell, RB/Contributor Earnest Byner and the Hall of Fame Baltimore Colts as being featured prominently at M&T Bank Stadium to be remembered for the eternity of the franchise’s existence.

The question moving forward for me is now “who will join him?”

The Ravens have been very fortunate to have a number of great players/contributors in recent years, many of whom are worthy of consideration.

Here is the explanation of the criteria used by the Ravens when selecting players to their Ring of Honor…

“Character: The induction into the Ravens Ring of Honor represents the highest honor for a career of individual accomplishment resulting in team success. Teams constructed with character reduce uncertainty and stay on their purpose Ravens of Honor maintain direction with intense focus character is at the beginning of the cycle and takes them all the way to a successful ending.

Gratitude: Ravens of Honor carry forth a special attitude of gratitude, to those around them, they are always a fountain rather then a drain. Each is different but all keep those around them on the path of progression. Their basic ability to enjoy their talents and gifts of others help them to continually contribute as opposed to contaminate.

Vision: Fueled by self-knowledge, great character and an appreciation for everything available to them. Ravens of Honor visualize short and long term successes in Technicolor. They are, through vision, great connectors. Those around them are energized and they use all that surrounds them to create an inspirational bigger picture.

Passion: Passionate Ravens have an unusual ability to face failure, physical setbacks and exhaustion. They have an internal tenacity that helps them get back up when knocked down. Their passion motivates teammates to join in on the pursuit of the team dream. Passion breeds conviction and turns mediocrity into excellence. With passion, we can overcome all obstacles.

Faith & Courage: Ravens of Honor stand tall in the good times as well as the rough times. They are help up by their deep faith in themselves, their teammates and their fans. Inspired by belief in a great destiny, these champions never waver from their victorious path. Faith is belief in what you cannot see. Great vision matched with unbridled passion sets up absolute faith. Faith evokes a special courage and confidence. When matched with action, faith kills worry and procrastination, the two traits which produce regular failure.

Competitive Spirit: True competitors want to be put on the line and measured. They thrive on adversity and use it to achieve a special edge. They know the easy lakes get fished out first, thus they skip the easy. Persistence, determination, tenacity and sportsmanship are the hallmarks of this warrior mentality. Ravens of Honor need character, gratitude, vision, passion and faith to become a championship caliber competitor. There are no shortcuts and they do not look for them, because their competitive fire will not allow them to.

Humility: Humility in oneself inspires the best of others and feeds our character. A vital aspect of the true leadership is the willingness of others to follow.”

Nowhere on that list does it state that a player has to have reached a Pro Bowl as a Raven, which has been believed to be a bit of an unwritten rule within the franchise. In fact, a Ravens executive told me Thursday the qualifications could really be stated as “extraordinary contributions to the NFL, the Ravens and the community.” The same executive was willing to admit however that “it will be more difficult to make our Ring of Honor if the player was never recognized as a Pro Bowler, but it could happen.”

There are a number of current Ravens whose inclusion in the Ring of Honor seems to be as simple a decision as Stover’s. LB Ray Lewis, S Ed Reed and TE Todd Heap all seem to be easy choices after their careers conclude. WR Derrick Mason certainly has an argument. LB Terrell Suggs and DT Haloti Ngata have laid the groundwork for what could ultimately become Ring of Honor careers.

Perhaps a bit more interesting in the list of former Ravens who have not yet been honored. RB Jamal Lewis, CB Chris McAlister, DT Tony Siragusa, OL Edwin Mulitalo  and former Coach Brian Billick (full disclosure-Billick is now a part owner of WNST.net) have all moved on from their careers but have not been honored. General Manager Ozzie Newsome would seem to be a potential future honoree, and LB/contributor O.J. Brigance was the subject of a recent Facebook campaign seeking his induction.

There is an argument as to why any of the above names should be in. The reality is that in the next ten years, the team’s Ring of Honor could grow exponentially.

There’s certainly nothing wrong with being an organization that has a number of great players/contributors afforded significant recognition. An argument could be made that it simply reflects the greatness of the organization to have such an expansive number of ROH honorees.

At the same time, the Ravens do face a dilemma as they consider the future of the way they recognize players. In thirty years, these names will all represent the finest players/contributors in franchise history. The organization must at least be willing to ask the question “will this player’s inclusion still make sense when we look back in 30 years?”

It is a more significant honor than the Baltimore Orioles Hall of Fame, where a player is simply noted on a tough to find outfield plaque at Oriole Park at Camden Yards after honored at a pregame ceremony and luncheon. Fans don’t have to stare at the names for decades and debate the merit of their inclusion during games the way fans do at M&T Bank Stadium.

We’ve all experienced the moment where someone sitting near us says “did they REALLY put Earnest Byner in the Ring of Honor?” The answer is yes, and we’re all equally uncomfortable about despite our great respect for Mr. Modell.

As the team considers other candidates, they must keep in mind those questions. “Is ______ really in the Ring of Honor? Didn’t he only play here for like four seasons?” “You guys put ______ in the Ring of Honor? Did he ever even get to the Pro Bowl?”

They’ll be relevant questions that Ravens fans will have to answer.

The team doesn’t want to make the requirements for induction more stringent, as they want to be able to make their own decisions about who to induct instead of limiting themselves by instituting additional requirements.

Make no mistake. Ray Lewis, Jamal Lewis, Chris McAlister, Brian Billick, Ozzie Newsome and Todd Heap really should all be in no matter how the team defines the requirements. Ravens fans should always be see those names honored for the greatness they contributed to the franchise and city.

But as far as the others are concerned, the team will have to truly make difficult decisions.

Hear Stover’s press conference-including comments from Bisciotti, Newsome and Head Coach John Harbaugh in the BuyAToyota.com Audio Vault here at WNST.net! Stover joined Drew Forrester on “The Morning Reaction” Friday on AM1570 WNST, that chat is in the Audio Vault as well!

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Counterpoint: Bordick not amongst Orioles’ best, but I’m fine with induction

Posted on 20 March 2011 by Glenn Clark

Upon hearing that former SS Mike Bordick had been elected to the Baltimore Orioles Hall of Fame Saturday morning, I will admit that at first I thought to myself, “huh?”

But after a few minutes of thinking about it, it struck me that Mike Bordick is a fine choice for what isn’t a particularly significant honor.

Many Baltimore sports fans are particularly disappointed when they look towards the Baltimore Ravens’ Ring of Honor at M&T Bank Stadium and see the name Earnest Byner listed with the young franchise’s best players (Jonathan Ogden, Peter Boulware, Michael McCrary); the man who returned football to Charm City (Art Modell) and the players who represented the Baltimore Colts franchise that captivated this city for over 30 years.

Earnest Byner was a marginal contributor for two seasons and an assistant coach for a few years after that. It is well known that Modell wanted to honor Byner and decided the Ring of Honor was the way to do just that.

When Ravens fans in ten years see the names of Ray Lewis, Todd Heap, Jamal Lewis, Chris McAlister, Matt Stover and Brian Billick honored at their “Purple Palace”, Byner’s inclusion will seem out of place at best, but could be somewhat embarrassing when opposing fans visiting town ask “Byner? Why don’t you go ahead and put Kyle Boller up there too?”

The reality of Bordick’s induction to the Orioles Hall of Fame is that the honor itself isn’t significant enough to warrant such opposition. The Orioles honor their greatest players in franchise history by retiring their numbers and featuring them with figures outside Orioles Park at Camden Yards and commemorative signs inside OPACY as well.

As an organization, the O’s do a good job of separating the all-time greats (Brooks Robinson, Frank Robinson, Jim Palmer, Earl Weaver, Eddie Murray, Cal Ripken) from those who simply warrant a “thank you” for their time in orange and black (BJ Surhoff, Harold Baines, Rick Dempsey, Mark Belanger).

Make no mistake. Mike Bordick does not deserved to be remembered in the same way as some other Birds who have received Hall of Fame status. Ken Singleton, Boog Powell, Dave McNally, Mike Flanagan and others had a much more significant impact on the franchise than Bordick.

Instead of being featured prominently at The Yard, Bordick will only receive mention on a small Eutaw Street wall plaque. The Orioles will hold their annual luncheon and pre-game ceremony for fans to thank Bordick, then he will mostly be a name on a list.

They’re not trying to compare Bordick to Ripken-even if Bordick was the player to replace the “Iron Man” at shortstop.

With the only criteria for induction being that the player must have played for the team for at least three seasons, Bordick (parts of six seasons) qualifies. He’ll be remembered for his All-Star Game appearance in 200 and a stellar defensive season in 2002. He’ll be remembered by myself as being the piece that brought Melvin Mora to Baltimore from the New York Mets.

For these reasons, I applaud Bordick’s election. It will be nice for me to clap for one of the few players I have enjoyed watching during these dreadful 13 seasons of Orioles baseball.


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Jonathan Ogden

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Jonathan Ogden: “I am one happy man”

Posted on 07 February 2011 by Ryan Chell

Jonathan Ogden

This past week, former Ravens offensive tackle Jonathan Ogden was present in Dallas, taking in the moment of yet another Super Bowl.

And over the weekend, yet another group of former NFL players were inducted into Canton’s prestigious group of Hall of Famers, including the likes of former Ravens teammates Shannon Sharpe and Deion Sanders as 2011 members.

The eventual Hall of Famer joined WNST in Dallas  to talk about where he’s at in his post playing career, and maybe preparing to taking those same steps as his former teammates in Sanders and Sharpe.

“I am a happy man,” Ogden told WNST. “I am happy and I’m enjoying what I’m doing. I feel like I did what I had to do. I can say that that I’m one of few people who played their entire career on just one team, got a Super Bowl ring, and actually feel like I fulfilled what I was doing out there.”

Ogden was the original Raven-drafted  by Baltimore in the team’s first ever draft in 1996. Taken fourth overall, the UCLA grad and 1995 Outland Trophy winner was not only asked to be the foundation of the team’s offensive line, but a franchise as a whole.

The situation almost wasn’t meant to be, as both sides-Ogden and the Ravens-werent expected to be joining forces.

When Ogden entered the  Draft, both Ogden and the experts said that they didn’t expect the tackle to fall to the fourth spot where Baltimore was drafting.

And a lot of the experts expected the Ravens to take Nebraska running back Lawrence Phillips, who later fell out of the league and into prison for off the field issues.

But ultimately the two sides found each other and the rest is history.

“I had no control,” Ogden said. “It wasn’t in my hands. It was really funny, because I remember being in the green room in New York at the draft. Everyone was saying ‘You’re going to Arizona, you’re going to the Cardinals,’ and the phone rings in the green room. Keyshawn Johnson got drafted first, Kevin Hardy second, and the guy picks it up from the NFL, and I’m ready to get up. All of a sudden, he goes Simeon Rice, and I was like ‘Oh wow, they’re not going to take me?'”

But he then found himself knowing that he was going to be in a good situation with the Ravens despite them choosing him.

“It was amazing when Baltimore called my name,” Ogden said.

Ogden went on to play 12 seasons in a Baltimore uniform, making the Pro Bowl 11 times and being named a first or second team All-Pro eight times.

And the Super Bowl championship in 2000 made the Ogden’s time in Baltimore that much more sweeter.

“That was a great day in Baltimore history right there down in Tampa ten years ago,” Ogden said.

Ogden does have the ring on his finger, but he also continues to have the lingering pain of several playoff losses to the Colts and Steelers as well as some occasional flare-up from the toe injury that cut his career short.

“My toe to this day still hurts,” Ogden said. “I can go out and play golf, I can jog, but I can’t run. I’m like Deion complaining about our toes.”

“When we were playing Cleveland in ’06, the last game of the year, Quinn Sypniewski, our tight end at the time, got blown up by Willie McGinest on the goal line, and my foot was in the air. They both came down on the back of my heel, and I basically tore 90 percent of the ligaments under my big toe.”

“I remember I got ready, we had the bye, and I played in the playoff game against the Colts with the shot up toe. I couldn’t feel it, and had we won that game, I probably would not have been able to play the next week. I couldn’t walk for nearly a month.”

That next year, he knew his time in a Ravens uniform-and an NFL uniform as a whole-was coming to an end because of the toe injury.

“What happened my last year, I missed training camp because I was trying to rehab. Every game I’d have to either get a shot or I’d been getting treatment so much I could barely practice. It always hurt when I was out there. I was hurting all the time, and when you’re hurting all the time, it’s no fun. It’s time to go.”

Already having the Super Bowl ring and leaving at the top of his game helped make his decision that much easier.

“I still have residual pain, my neck still cracks all the time, my shoulders are a little sore, but considering how long I played-twelve years-I have never had a surgery and should’ve have the toe cut on a few years earlier, I consider myself pretty lucky for how I feel having done it so long at that level.”

But Ogden said that it’s the great players in this league who feel that way at the end of their careers. In other words, a healthy NFL player at the end of their career most likely isn’t playing at a Hall of Fame level not putting their body on the line for their team.

“If you want to be successful, you’ve got to have those guys that are willing to go out there and play through the pain, because you’re always going to be in pain when you’re out there. You think Ray Lewis doesn’t hurt? You might not know it here when he gives his interviews and talks, but Ray Lewis hurts you know.”

“He gets himself in great shape, he works out, he gets treatment, and he’s ready to go every Sunday, but he’s out there in pain-trust me.”

And while Ogden may be in pain right now and may not be able to sprint a lick right now, all of Baltimore hopes he can make the walk to the podium in Canton when he is eligible for the Class of 2013.

“I will be most likely,” Ogden said about being inducted into the Hall of Fame. “You know maybe around the fifth or sixth Pro Bowl, but thank goodness that toe was year twelve, not year two. You mention us in the same breath as Walter Payton, Jim Brown, and Anthony Munoz, it’s overwhelming.”

WNST hopes to talk to Ogden again when he hopefully is inducted into the Hall of Fame two years from now! WNST-We Never Stop Talking Baltimore Sports!

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Top 5 moments of the Ravens-Steelers rivalry

Posted on 12 January 2011 by Luke Jones

Saturday marks the 33rd meeting (including playoffs) between the Ravens and Steelers in the 15 years since the NFL returned to Baltimore.

With Pittsburgh holding a 20-12 all-time edge and always coming out on top when the stakes are at their highest, the highlights are admittedly scarce from the Baltimore perspective despite the matchup blossoming into the most intense rivalry in the NFL. A conflict bred from off-field venom and disdain (circa 2001) has morphed into mutual respect and even tighter competition in recent years as the last six meetings in the regular season have been decided by four or fewer points (the Steelers won 23-14 victory in the 2008 AFC Championship).

The divisional-round encounter will add another memorable chapter to Baltimore-Pittsburgh lore, but before looking ahead to potential triumph or bitter disappointment, we look back at the top 5 moments (with a couple honorable mentions added for good measure) in the history of Ravens vs. Steelers — from the Baltimore perspective.

And for our Pittsburgh brethren lurking and ready to chime in, be sure to check back later in the week for the five worst moments in the Ravens-Steelers rivalry.

Honorable mention >>>

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Ranking The 53: A Bye Week Look at Ravens Roster

Posted on 27 October 2010 by Glenn Clark

As you’ll remember, I spent most of Training Camp ranking the players on the Baltimore Ravens roster as we tried to determine the Top 53 that would make the final roster.

As we’ve reached the team’s Bye Week, I thought I’d use a similar format (as opposed to a Report Card format) to grade the way the 53 men currently on the team’s roster have played thus far this season. Here’s my list…

53. OL Scott Kooistra-He hasn’t seen the field and he hasn’t been around very long. I’m not sure where else he could be ranked.

52. DT Arthur Jones-The team isn’t dissatisfied with the rookie DT from Syracuse. The issue for Jones is that the Ravens are so deep on the interior of their D-Line that they haven’t been able to get Jones on the field yet. Until then, he won’t find himself any higher on the list.

51. WR Donte’ Stallworth-Stallworth’s broken foot has kept him entirely out of game action thus far, and he only returned to practice last week. The team expects him to be on the field Week 9 against the Miami Dolphins at M&T Bank Stadium. Once he gets out there, we can see where he’d rank on this list.

50. QB Marc Bulger-If Marc Bulger never sees the field and stays somewhere near #50, GM Ozzie Newsome and Head Coach John Harbaugh will be thrilled-as it means nothing will have gone wrong with the team’s quarterback. This is exactly where they want him.

49. DT Lamar Divens-It seems like Lamar Divens will always be the first name listed when the “who could you cut to make room for…” conversations happen. That being said, he hasn’t been cut yet this season, and has even seen the field at times. He’s a really good player-even if it hasn’t quite been evident yet this season.

48. TE Dennis Pitta-His offensive contributions (1 catch, 1 yard) have been next to nothing, but Pitta has been a solid special teams contributor and has only been inactive for one game. No one in Owings Mills is unhappy with their rookie TE from BYU thus far.

47. CB Cary Williams-He’s been more of a Special Teams contributor than he’s been a corner thus far this season-and he hasn’t been perfect. His block in the back penalty against the New England Patriots was certainly frustrating; and Harbaugh made it known. Williams’ size (6’1″) could make him helpful at CB at some point, but the team has to trust him there.

46. OT Oniel Cousins-The team didn’t really hide from the fact that they were disappointed by how long it took Oniel to get back on the field after a preseason concussion. At this point, I don’t think they can hide from the disappointment in his on-field performance; as he’s struggled to get playing time at all.

45. LB Prescott Burgess-He’s remained a steady player on Special Teams, and that’s what the team has wanted from him. It’s easy to be down a player who doesn’t contribute at his natural position, but Burgess has been solid.

44. LS Morgan Cox-Matt Katula’s struggles a season ago were at least somewhat to blame for early season misses from then kicker Steve Hauschka. I think that’s why it wasn’t terribly surprising when ST Coordinator Jerry Rosburg and company decided to go with Cox this season. That being said, Cox has been low on a few FG snaps, and has gotten some help from holder Sam Koch. He needs to be a bit steadier.

43. WR Marcus Smith-Smith is another player whose contributions have been limited to Special Teams thus far, which means his mistakes are often much more memorable than anything he does well. He had a tough day in Foxborough, but he wasn’t the only one.

42. DT Terrence Cody-What a frustrating player Terrence Cody has been this season. There’s moments where it looks like things are clicking for him, but there have been many more moments (in the 4 games where he’s played) where he looked absolutely lost. He didn’t record his first NFL tackle until the Week 7 win over the Buffalo Bills.

41. LB Jason Phillips-Phillips may have earned a couple of extra spots on the list simply thanks to the hit he and Edgar Jones delivered to Denver Broncos WR/KR Demaryius Thomas (see below) in Week 5. Phillips is in a tough spot, as the Ravens are deep at ILB. That being said, he’s made an impact in the opportunities he’s had-which is exactly what the team wanted.


40. DE Paul Kruger-I’m placing Paul Kruger in the top 40, but I’ll note that he’s played in only two games thus far this season-two he may have never played in had the team not released Trevor Pryce earlier in the year. His ability to play in the wedge has helped get him on the field, but the kick return hasn’t exactly been great with or without him.

39. LB Brendon Ayanbadejo-Ayanbadejo is another player who I’m squeezing into the Top 40 despite limited work. It looks like Ayanbadejo is going to be able to continue to be an effective player on Special Teams; but his ability to help is pass coverage will determine where he eventually ends up on this list.

38. RB/KR Jalen Parmele-It’s easy to look at the struggles Parmele has had over the last two weeks and be down on his season; but it cannot be dismissed that he’s averaged over 20 yards per return this season. The Ravens have to figure out what’s going wrong with their kick return. My guess is that they’ll find out that the returner isn’t the biggest problem. My second guess is that it won’t mean Parmele will be the returner moving forward anyway.

37. S Ken Hamlin-When the Ravens released Hamlin to make room for Cary Williams earlier in the season, it looked like a confirmation that Hamlin was simply holding Ed Reed’s roster spot. About a week later we found out that wasn’t exactly the case. Hamlin has been effective on Special Teams and has offered something to Greg Mattison’s defense as well-at least until he was left inactive for the first time Week 7. That could be bad news moving forward for Hamlin.

36. WR David Reed-After looking like he might not be able to play Special Teams at all, Reed developed into a very trustworthy gunner for the Ravens over the first few weeks of the season and has taken more snaps as a returner during practice as the season has gone on. That being said, it is interesting to note that Reed was held out of Sunday’s game against the Bills. It had at least SOMETHING to do with a thigh injury, but it will be interesting to see if it was the injury ONLY, or if the injury was just part of it.

35. TE Ed Dickson-Dickson is an interesting case. In the game against the Broncos, his 58 yard 1st quarter catch was eye-opening. His 6’4″ frame clearly makes him an attractive downfield and jump-ball target. But his holding penalty later in the game was an example of exactly why OC Cam Cameron may not fully trust him enough to keep him on the field. My guess is that Dickson is headed towards some level of a breakout performance.

34. LB Tavares Gooden-I get the feeling that I could be showing a little bit too much fairness to Gooden, who was adequate in the two games he played before injuring his shoulder. He probably hasn’t done enough to justify the position, but I’ll keep him here for now. How he bounces back from another setback (and whether or not he can return in Week 9) could have a lot to do with his future in Charm City.

33. CB Josh Wilson-This is really tricky as well. Wilson has by no means been a liability on the field; but he’s done little to prove himself thus far. He’s missed two games (a healthy inactive when the Ravens played the Pittsburgh Steelers at Heinz Field; an ankle injury kept him out of the loss to the Pats at Gillette Stadium), and he hasn’t been perfect as a returner. But when Secondary coach Chuck Pagano need an answer late against the Bills, Wilson stepped up.

32. WR TJ Houshmandzadeh-Truth be told, I’m completely befuddled by TJ Houshmandzadeh’s short tenure in Baltimore. I don’t think he’s been misused, I don’t think Joe Flacco has failed to look for him or get him the ball, I don’t think he’s necessarily been awful in doing his own job (although I absolutely think he’s given half efforts to catch the ball-which was abundantly evident when the Ravens played the Cincinnati Bengals at Paul Brown Stadium). I’m not sure what Houshmandzadeh’s role is moving forward as Stallworth returns. No matter what it is, his catch to beat the Steelers will never be forgotten.

31. OL Tony Moll-Moll has shown himself to be a particularly reliable reserve on the O-Line; he’s been the team’s top reserve this season. In fact, he was on the field at RT when the Ravens put together their final TD drive to get the first win of the Harbaugh era in the Steel City.


30. DT Brandon McKinney-McKinney has quickly become the team’s top reserve along the D-Line, and has played VERY well he’s seen the field this season. He’s probably better as a NT or as an interior tackle in a 4-3 defense, but he’s been outstanding filling multiple roles for DL coach Clarence Brooks.

29. S Haruki Nakamura-Nakamura’s playing time has decreased since the start of the season, but it’s not because he’s performed poorly. Nakamura was both the 3rd safety and the nickel corner in the Ravens’ season opening Monday Night Football win over the New York Jets, but the improved health of the team has limited his role. His play has been effective throughout the season no matter his role.

28. CB Lardarius Webb-After missing the season opener at New Meadowlands Stadium, Webb has been up and down in the six games he’s played. At times he’s been spectacular, including two big pass breakups in the win over the Steelers. At other times he’s been less than spectacular, including the loss to the Bills. Webb stepped in for Zbikowski at PR against the Bills as well, but is unlikely to remain a long term option there.

27. DL Cory Redding-This is somewhat of a tricky judgment as well. Redding has played well, but was supposed to be able to get off the field in obvious passing situations this season to allow for a better rush end option. Sadly, the Ravens don’t have a better rush end option. Redding has just one sack on the season, and that number is unlikely to get much bigger.

26. LB Dannell Ellerbe-If Dannell Ellerbe didn’t have to play in pass coverage, he probably would find himself in the Top 15. Of course, there are a number of LB’s in the NFL who could say the same thing. Ellerbe has been solid but not spectacular, and has not exactly shown himself to be an “answer” for the Ravens at JACK LB.

25. OL Chris Chester-The Ravens would certainly prefer to have Chester coming off the bench and taking snaps at multiple positions; but the back injury to Jared Gaither has forced him into a starting role at RG. Chester hasn’t been perfect, but at no point has he been any sort of liability.

24. LB Jameel McClain-McClain has thus far been the most consistent answer at JACK LB, but he probably hasn’t solidified the position the way the team may have hoped he would. McClain has been solid, but has not been able to make too many plays in the backfield. Opponents have also been surprisingly able to run the ball with effectiveness (none more than Cleveland Browns RB Peyton Hillis), which has to fall on the entire group-including McClain.

23. OL Marshal Yanda-No one has forgotten about Jared Gaither in Baltimore, but Marshal Yanda has solidified the RT position after a few early season struggles. Yanda is still better served playing at the Guard position, but he’s shown his athleticism and ability to both pass block and run block at the RT position.

22. S Ed Reed-There’s little argument for me ranking a player who has seen the field for just one game this high; but the argument exists. Of course, it is a very short argument-based solely on the fact that despite playing in just one game, Reed leads the team in interceptions. He looked like the Ed Reed of old against the Bills, giving the organization every reason to believe he’ll continue to play at a high level.

21. RB Willis McGahee-We might never TRULY know why McGahee didn’t see the field against the Pats, but he’s been very good every other time he’s seen the field. McGahee has been a solid back in both short yardage and goal line situations, is an effective blocker, and can take consecutive handoffs. If for some reason Ray Rice were to get hurt, the Ravens would be fine at RB.


20. C Matt Birk-Birk might not play at a Pro Bowl level necessarily anymore, but he’s still very good. He had some struggles early on this season, but he’s played very well in recent weeks. The Ravens may not have a center of the future on the roster necessarily, but they’re still just fine right now.

19. DT Kelly Gregg-Gregg has been just as steady as always this season; tallying 30 tackles and taking on double teams the same way he’s done since his breakout year in 2002. The only potential knock on Gregg has been a lack of plays made in the backfield.

18. S/PR Tom Zbikowski-The Ravens have been very happy with the play they’ve received from Zbikowski this season-especially while Reed missed the first six weeks of the season. Fans haven’t been thrilled with Zbikowski as punt returner-but since inexplicably running the ball backwards in East Rutherford, he’s been solid in that role as well. Zbikowski missed Game 7 with a bruised heel, but isn’t expected to be out for an extended period of time.

17. S Dawan Landry-I feel like we keep getting back to the Buffalo game with Ravens defenders-but that tends to be what happens when a team gives up 34 points at home. Landry had been very solid until that game however, and has 52 tackles through seven games this season.

16. CB Chris Carr-The best thing to happen to the Ravens in the wake of the Domonique Foxworth injury has been the play of Carr. Carr has been particularly steady starting opposite Fabian Washington. The team would probably like to see him improve a bit on the one interception and five pass deflections he’s posted thus far this season.

15. LB Jarret Johnson-The only disappointment with Johnson this season has been his lack of involvement in the pass rush. He’s tallied just half a sack thus far to go with 28 tackles. He’s been good, he’s just not quite played to the level he played at a season ago when he compiled six sacks.

14. K Billy Cundiff-The name Shayne Graham has LONG been forgotten at 1 Winning Drive. Cundiff has been incredible on kickoffs, tallying 18 touchbacks this season. He had entered the season with just 11 touchbacks for his CAREER. Cundiff is also 10/12 on field goal attempts; with one of the two misses coming in the goofy open end of the stadium at Heinz Field. There really isn’t much more that can be said about Cundiff, he’s been tremendous this season.

13. P Sam Koch-While I’m at it, Koch has been outstanding this season as well. He’s pinned punts inside the 20 yard line 19 times already this season. Some of his yardage numbers are a bit off this season, as the Ravens have had better field position in general this season. Oakland Raiders P Shane Lechler is still probably having a better season; but Koch has to at least be in consideration for a trip to Hawaii.

12. OT Michael Oher-Oher won’t want to hear the name Jermaine Cunningham any time soon, but otherwise he’s avoided a sophomore slump. Oher has answered almost all questions about his ability to play the LT position, even if he isn’t quite Jonathan Ogden just yet. He LOOKS like he’s offsides more than he actually IS offsides, with the only exception being the Patriots game.

11. LB Terrell Suggs-There’s a misconception that T-Sizzle is having a bad season. That’s simply not true. Suggs has played very well at times, and has clearly developed into a very complete all-around LB. The problem is-the Ravens don’t necessarily need an improved all-around LB on the outside. They REALLY need a pass rushing monster, and Suggs (3.5 sacks) just isn’t that guy right now, nor may he ever be again.


10. G Ben Grubbs-Grubbs has been the team’s most consistent Offensive Lineman thus far this season, and is setting himself up nicely for a potential Pro Bowl trip. As the team’s longest tenured O-Lineman, Grubbs has been significantly important for the team in maintaining continuity in a season where they have been forced to move pieces around.

9. TE Todd Heap-The Ravens thought that drafting two tight ends would help keep Heap fresh by getting him off the field for a handful of snaps every game. They also thought that signing multiple receivers in the offseason would help free up space on the field for Joe Flacco to find Heap. They’ve been right about both things. Heap has still taken a beating this season (thanks in part to Patriots safety Brandon Meriweather), but he’s on pace to have at least his best offensive season since 2006.

8. CB Fabian Washington-Don’t start cursing at your computer screen just yet. I am well aware that Lee Evans treated Washington like Sidney Rice would Frank Walker in the Ravens’ loss to the Bills. However, in the six games before that-Washington was a significant part of why the Ravens had one of the top pass defenses in the NFL (now ranked 8th for the record). Washington’s future standing on this list will of course have everything to do with how he bounces back from what was a dreadful Week 7 performance.

7. WR Derrick Mason-Remember him? Mason might not be on pace for a 1,000 yard season; but when they’ve needed him-he’s been ready to make plays. He was the team’s leading receiver in two very tough road games (at Pittsburgh and at New England), and he caught the only touchdown of the game in the Ravens’ Week 2 loss in the Queen City. Mason is just as reliable as always, and still catches the football…with the exception of the handful of times the team has decided for some goofy reason to try to throw jump balls in the direction of his 5’10” frame.

6. RB Ray Rice-Fantasy football owners may not be quite as happy with Ray Rice’s performance as I am; but he’s been very good this season. He’s on pace to finish the season with over 1,400 yards of total offense; and should be able to remain fresh the more the Ravens work McGahee into the offense. Rice was expected to be a Top 3 caliber player on this list, but the lack of a breakaway burst appears to be hurting him right now. If that re-appears, he might show himself to be the type of MVP candidate he was a season ago.

5. LB Ray Lewis-Let me get this out of the way. Ray Lewis has not played like the future Hall of Fame LB he is in every game this season. He looked downright human against the Browns. That being said, the season opener on MNF was a vintage performance from one of the greatest defenders in league history, and Lewis locked up the Steelers game with a late interception of Charlie Batch. He tallied 15 tackles in the win over the Bills as well. San Francisco 49ers LB Patrick Willis may be the unquestionable greatest LB in the game today, but Ray Lewis has not fallen terribly far behind.

4. FB Le’Ron McClain-This one may catch a few folks off guard, as the personal foul penalty in Foxborough and the lack of carries probably stick out in the minds of most fans more than anything else, but Le’Ron McClain is playing as well at his position as almost anyone else on the Ravens roster this season. RB Coach Wilbert Montgomery graded McClain’s performance against the Browns as the best by a Ravens player this season, and Offensive Coordinator Cam Cameron told me that in terms of the total package-blocking, rushing and pass catching-McClain was absolutely the best fullback in not only the AFC-but the entire NFL.

3. QB Joe Flacco-If it weren’t for the dud in Cincy, Flacco may be #1 on the list. Unfortunately, the game in Cincy still counts. Flacco has been outstanding for the better part of the season-despite strange criticism from fans and a handful of analysts alike. He’s on pace for another season with 3,000+ yards and 20+ touchdowns and has limited his turnovers in games BESIDES Cincinnati. Flacco still needs to figure out that Ray Rice is just 5’7″; which has to be the most frustrating part of his game at this point.

2. WR Anquan Boldin-Anquan Boldin has been everything the Ravens had hoped he would be and more. He’s been a reliable target, he’s shown the type of toughness that originally made him a star with the Arizona Cardinals, and at times (the Browns game sticks out) he’s even added an explosive level to his game. He unfortunately doesn’t get to matchup against Eric Wright every week; but he’s on pace for 1,000+ yards and double digit TD’s no matter who he’s up against. Some fans in Baltimore who weren’t familiar with his game thought the Ravens were getting Larry Fitzgerald; but for those who knew what type of player Boldin was-he’s been ABSOLUTELY as good as advertised if not better.

1. DT Haloti Ngata-There is simply no better player on this football team right now than Haloti Ngata. There’s almost no argument any longer about who the best interior D-Lineman is in the NFL either. The only unfortunate part about the season for Ngata has been the fact that the lack of a rush end has forced the Ravens to send Ngata outside and hope he could get to the quarterback. He’s capable, but it’s by no means where he is best used. When he does get in the backfield, there’s no quarterback (or other player at any position) that’s happy to see him.


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Wednesday Morning’s Crabs and Beer

Posted on 20 October 2010 by Glenn Clark

Happy Wednesday!

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

Have you heard the new Kings of Leon CD “Come Around Sundown”? NO? This is no one’s fault but your own. You’re missing “The End”…

And in the “retro” category, TGSOATTW is my current Facebook status (add me as a friend by searching “Glenn Clark” and clicking on the best looking guy you find). It’s the amazing “Hunger Strike” by Temple of the Dog…

Let’s see what everyone has to say…

1. The AP says New England Patriots safety Brandon Meriweather fined $50,000 for hit on Ravens TE Todd Heap

The more you looked at the hit, the more you realized he was very deserving of being HEAVILY fined. Meriweather’s hit was ABSOLUTELY in the “cheap shot” realm-the type of hit that the NFL will be looking to lay out a suspension for moving forward.

With Heap having come back into the game Sunday-it appears as though he’s fine and it seems like we can move forward from Brandon Meriweather-gate.

Now-and a tip of the hat here to KDKA in Pittsburgh-the league IS doing something right in cracking down on hits where a player leads with his helmet. In order to that, it is absolutely UNACCEPTABLE and frankly downright SHAMEFUL that they are currently selling this picture of James Harrison’s fine inducing hit on Mohamed Massquoi…


In their “NFL Photo Store.”

The league should be absolutely ASHAMED.

2. National Football Post’s Aaron Wilson says John Harbaugh thinks “execution” cost Ravens in loss to Pats, not “conservative” play calling

Maybe I should just leave this one alone.

Of course…I won’t.

John Harbaugh is ABSOLUTELY right in this case. The Ravens’ failure to execute on big plays-mixed with New England’s consistent execution-were why the Ravens lost the game Sunday.

Sadly, Cam Cameron had nothing to do with Billy Cundiff kicking the ball out of bounds, or Le’Ron McClain’s personal foul, or Tom Brady finding Rob Gronkowski for 24 yards on 1st and 25, or Chris Carr not catching a Zoltan Mesko punt.

Those plays lost the game Sunday.

But that’s the end of it. As of this moment, I’m not discussing it any more.

I promise.

I think.

3. BaltimoreRavens.com’s Mike Duffy says Trent Dilfer, Jonathan Ogden, Jamal Lewis, Michael McCrary, Rod Woodson amongst those expected in attendance for Super Bowl XXXV anniversary celebration Sunday at M&T Bank Stadium

The shame is that the entire team can’t be there. Brandon Stokley (Seattle Seahawks WR) has a game Sunday and Shannon Sharpe, Brian Billick and Tony Siragusa are broadcasting for CBS and FOX. Unfortunately, the Ravens do not have a home game this season that isn’t on a Sunday, so there really isn’t a game where the schedule would work out better.

And I’d like to take this time to honor these guys as well. To do so, here’s a picture of Petra Silander. Thanks Guyism!


4. Washington Examiner’s Jim Williams says annual Ravens-Redskins game possible if NFL adopts 18 game schedule

Which means I’ll have an annual opportunity to be flamed on Deadspin. Count me in!

Before we move on from the Ravens, a couple of things…

-The Ravens return to work at 1 Winning Drive in Owings Mills today, and we’ll of course be back out there with full coverage. Ed Reed and Brendon Ayanbadejo are scheduled to return to the practice field; and we’re expecting to hear from Harbaugh, Joe Flacco, Ray Lewis, Ray Rice and others while we’re out there. Stay tuned to AM1570 WNST, follow us on Twitter @WNST and make sure you’re checking WNST.net throughout the day!

-Did you miss Yahoo! Sports NFL analyst Jason Cole Wednesday with Drew Forrester on “The Morning Reaction” on AM1570 WNST? Make sure you head over to the BuyAToyota.com Audio Vault today here at WNST.net to have a listen. Some other things you can hear in the Audio Vault include…

  • Rich Dubroff (Carroll County Times)-who talked Ravens with Drew Wednesday morning
  • Jay Jaffe (Baseball Prospectus)-who talked ALCS and NLCS with Drew Wednesday
  • Matt Hendricks (Washington Capitals Forward)-who talked puck with Drew Wednesday morning
  • Jamey Eisenberg (CBSSports.com)-who talked Fantasy Football with Rex Snider Tuesday on “The Afternoon Drive”
  • Tuesday afternoon’s edition of “The MLB Report” with Rex and Allen McCallum
  • Mike Goldberg (UFC Play by Play Voice)-who joined Thyrl Nelson and John Rallo Tuesday on “The MMA Report” to preview Brock Lesnar-Cain Velasquez Saturday at UFC 121
  • Othello Henderson (Former UCLA and NFL safety)-who joined Thryl Tuesday on “The Mobtown Sports Beat” after being named as accepting money from Josh Luchs in last week’s SI story

It’s all in the Audio Vault, so make sure you check it out today. Of course you’ll want to thank me later for planning your day. I accept my Thank You’s in the form of CASH.

5. The Sun’s Jeff Zrebiec says Japanese pitcher Yu Darvish won’t be an option for Orioles

Hear that sound? That’s the sound of me ripping up the World Series tickets I had already purchased for 2011.

Eh. Maybe instead Andy MacPhail and the Birds will spend their money on a real pitcher like Cliff Lee. I mean, I know they won’t-but it’s early and I’m tired. I guess I must be dreaming.

While we’re on the O’s, I wasn’t NEARLY as worked up about the Robinson Cano home run last night as some fans were. I giggled thinking about Jeffrey Maier, but it certainly didn’t anger me.

I love seeing the New York Yankees lose-TRUST ME on that. I was grinning from ear to ear. But unless it was Tony Torasco standing in Right Field, it wasn’t going to bother me that the Yanks got a questionable call.

If it had been Tony Torasco; I would’ve walked around Perry Hall Middle School completely dejected today just to remember the feeling.

6. MLB.com’s Brittany Ghiroli says O’s prospect Ryan Adams named Player of the Week in Arizona Fall League

Unfortunately, Ryan got the bad news today that winning this award in the AFL DOESN’T mean you get a date with Kimbyr Leigha. Thanks The Smoking Jacket!


7. Washington Post’s Eric Prisbell says Danny O’Brien to start at QB for Maryland again Saturday against Boston College

And it looks like Ralph Friedgen is going to try to get Jamarr Robinson to learn the “Josh Portis Package”, so hopefully Robinson will actually take some time and learn the playbook.

Sticking with O’Brien seems to be the best way to go for the Terps, as he looks like he’ll give them the best chance to win. My guess is that a win won’t come against a tough Eagles defense Saturday in Chestnut Hill; but he might give them a chance to win next Saturday against Wake Forest.

8. D1scourse’s Patrick Stevens says new Terrapins AD Kevin Anderson guaranteed more than $400,000 this season

It’s a little bit more than Debbie Yow was making, but I think that was to be expected. The salary might also say something about why they went with Anderson for the top job in College Park instead of one of the rockstar names (UConn’s Jeff Hathaway, Oklahoma’s Joe Castiglione) who probably make more money staying where they are.

I feel like if I were putting together a contract for a significant job, it would read more like a concert rider than it would a real contract.

“Mr. Clark requests 4 Vitamin Waters and a table of Chick-Fil-A sandwiches in his suite for every game at Byrd Stadium.”

Sure it would probably cost me some cash, but it would be freaking AWESOME.

9. Annapolis Capital’s Bill Wagner says Navy will be without kicker Joe Buckley Saturday against Notre Dame

You don’t expect that this will make a difference against the Fighting Irish, but given that the last three games in the series (including two wins for the Midshipmen in South Bend) have all been decided by six points or less, this clearly COULD have an impact.

The bigger issue will be whether Ricky Dobbs and the Mids’ offense is back on track after a big second half against SMU. If so, this is certainly a winnable game in East Rutherford Saturday.

10. CAASports.com says Towson basketball picked to finish 10th (of 12) in CAA

But there’s good news! Despite being picked 10th, the Tigers still get to look at this picture of Melissa Satta…


And finally, I leave you with this.

Hat tip to Deadspin for this one. Somebody is WAAAY too excited about something that happened in Madden 11. (Language is ABSOLUTELY NSFW!!!)

Flexing my mic muscles since 1983…


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Former Agent Josh Luchs confesses about giving money to NFL players, Janet Jackson tickets to Ogden

Posted on 13 October 2010 by Ryan Chell

Just imagine future Hall-of-Famer Jonathan Ogden, all 6’9” 340 pounds of him, yelling and screaming like a teenage girl fifteen some years ago at of all places-a Janet Jackson concert.

You wouldn’t believe it. Well, it did happen, according to a former NFL agent in Josh Luchs, who has spent 20 years in the business of trying to sign future NFL stars before they join in the league. How does he know?

Josh Luchs
He was there with Ogden.

But believe this: Ogden apparently took the tickets as a gift from Luchs, which is a minor violation of the rules governing gifts NCAA athletes and future NFL players can receive from agents before signing on as a client.

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Wednesday Morning’s Crabs and Beer

Posted on 13 October 2010 by Glenn Clark

Happy Wednesday!

It’s a Happy Wednesday for me because once again I get to name two new “Greatest Song(s) of All Time This Week.” The first addition is the “new” addition to the list…”Grenade” by Bruno Mars…he played it on Saturday Night Live and it kicked a little ass…

The “retro” version of TGSOATTW? It’s also Lesson 3 for “Boomer Sooner” as I prepare her for her first Dave Matthews Band show in November. It’s “#41″…

Let’s see what everyone has to say…

1. National Football Post’s Matt Bowen says Ravens, New York Jets, Pittsburgh Steelers all playing better football than any NFC team

At this point, that’s probably true.

My hunch tells me that the only NFC teams that could end up being TRUE Super Bowl contenders would be the New Orleans Saints, Atlanta Falcons and New York Giants.

The Saints don’t look like Super Bowl contenders right now, but that’s mostly because they can’t run the ball. They’ll get Pierre Thomas and Reggie Bush back, and they should be able to run again. The Green Bay Packers can get back on that list should they figure out a way to run the ball-but I don’t see that happening if Brandon Jackson and John Kuhn are the primary backs.

The point is-those three aforementioned teams are the only teams that look like they can stand up next to the three premiere AFC teams-at least the three that have stood out thus far.

The good news for the Ravens is that as of right now-this season is shaping up to be a season about “balance.” In recent years, teams that have won have tended to have the most powerful offenses or simply the best quarterbacks.

Early on this year, the teams that have had the most success appear to be the teams that are the most balanced. If it remains that way, the Ravens should be in good shape.

Of course, we know damn well that things can change quickly in the NFL.

2. BaltimoreRavens.com’s John Eisenberg says 4-1 start doesn’t ‘guarantee’ anything for rest of season

Of course not. But if it guarantees that Jamie Edmondson takes more pictures in Ravens gear, than 4-1 was PLENTY WORTH IT! (Thanks SI with tip from Derek Arnold!)


3. Boston Globe’s Monique Walker says New England Patriots still remember AFC Wild Card playoff loss to Ravens last season

This was a topic I discussed yesterday during Ravens Reports on AM1570 WNST. There will almost definitely be some level of a “revenge” factor when it comes to the Patriots Sunday. Bill Belichick is a proud man. Tom Brady is a proud man. These are men who will CERTAINLY remember the embarrassing fashion in which they were dismissed at Gillette Stadium in January.

Does that mean that the Ravens will quickly run into a buzzsaw in Foxborough? Not necessarily. But do I think this Patriots team will look at this game with a bit more significance than other games? Sure.

Should I ask another question and follow it up with another quick answer? I think I’ve run the course.

4. Carroll County Times’ Aaron Wilson says John Harbaugh, Ravens concerned with Pats returner Brandon Tate

Before we move on from the on-field Ravens, a couple of things…

-Harbaugh apparently reiterated on his radio show last night that CB Josh Wilson’s hamstring injury is not a major concern. I say “apparently” because I didn’t listen to the show personally. How could I? The replay of “The Morning Reaction” was on WNST!

-The Ravens are back in action today at 1 Winning Drive in Owings Mills. We’ll be out there all day with full coverage; so make sure you’re tuned into AM1570, following us on Twitter (@WNST) and checking back in at WNST.net throughout the day. We’re expected to hear from Harbaugh, Joe Flacco and others before practice.

-And this picture of Ray Rice-which has been passed around Facebook over the last 24 hours (add me by searching “Glenn Clark” and adding the best looking person you find) is kinda awesome…


5. SI’s George Dohrmann says former Ravens OT Jonathan Ogden admitted accepting benefits from agent Josh Luchs while at UCLA

The funniest part of the story is Luchs saying that during an entire Janet Jackson concert, J.O. screamed “Janet!” at the stage. Of course, I might do the same thing if she was rocking out a little “All For You”…

For the record, Luchs maintains that he did NOT pay or give benefits to either Ravens TE Todd Heap or LB Terrell Suggs while he was working with Gary Wichard and pursuing them at Arizona State.

Did you miss Josh Luchs with Drew Forrester and Thyrl Nelson on “The Mobtown Sports Beat” Wednesday morning on AM1570 WNST? Make sure you head over to the BuyAToyota.com Audio Vault here at WNST.net today to check it out. Some other things you can find in the Audio Vault include…

  • Dabo Swinney (Clemson Football Coach)-who joined Drew Wednesday on “The Morning Reaction” to preview the Tigers’ contest with the Terrapins Saturday
  • Craig Laughlin (Washington Capitals Color Analyst-Comcast SportsNet)-who joined Drew Wednesday to talk some Caps hockey
  • AJ Daulerio (Deadspin Editor)-who joined Drew Wednesday to discuss the Brett Favre/Jenn Sterger controversy
  • Ralph Cindrich (Long-time NFL agent)-who joined Drew Wednesday to offer his opinion on the Josh Luchs story
  • Jon Anik (host of ESPN’s “MMA Live”)-who joined Thyrl and John Rallo Tuesday on “The MMA Report”
  • Marcellus Wiley (ESPN)-who went around the NFL with Rex Snider Tuesday on “The Afternoon Drive”
  • Dan Wetzel (Yahoo! Sports)-who discussed his new book “Death to the BCS” with Thyrl Tuesday

It’s all in the Audio Vault-so consider today planned. Again. Because I’m awesome like that. Again.

6. The Sun’s Jeff Zrebiec says Buck Showalter had surgery Tuesday in Texas, no decisions imminent for Orioles coaching staff


There’s no chance that human injuries could affect a superhuman like Buck Showalter enough that he required knee surgery. I refuse to believe it.

That being said, the handful of folks who are waiting for news about the Birds’ coaching staff will have to keep waiting. In the meantime, MASN passed along that the O’s are apparently interested in Seibu Lions SS Hiroyuki Nakajima.

And you didn’t think Andy MacPhail was going to make the moves necessary to win in 2011. I know you feel stupid now. Hiroyuki Nakajima, babe. What are the dates for the 2011 World Series???

7. Washington Post’s Eric Prisbell says Clemson coach Dabo Swinney prepared to face Maryland QB’s Jamarr Robinson, Danny O’Brien Saturday in Death Valley

Swinney told Drew Forrester this morning that having to prepare for both QB’s makes Maryland particularly tough. Maybe so, but I generally don’t think the Terps can win big games if they try to split reps between two quarterbacks.

They might not do that. They might end up having one real “starter” and a package for the other QB. But it’s totally possible that Robinson and O’Brien could alternate series in James Franklin’s offense. I would prefer the former.

I mean, I would prefer having one REALLY GOOD QB, but sometimes you just have to work with what you’ve got.

8. D1scourse’s Patrick Stevens says Terps coach Ralph Friedgen has good recent history at Clemson’s Memorial Stadium

I keep being reminded of Maryland’s win at Clemson two years ago. Maryland probably wasn’t quite as good as their record indicated, but they were able to hang around just long enough to let something goofy happen to help them win. I don’t THINK the same thing will happen Saturday, but it certainly could.

You know what else could happen? Kayla Collins could call me. I don’t THINK it will happen-but it certainly could. (Thanks The Smoking Jacket!)


9. Annapolis Capital’s Bill Wagner says Navy coach Ken Niumatalolo expects FB Alexander Teich to be able to start Saturday vs. SMU

And with Vince Murray banged up, the Midshipmen could certainly use Teich on the field; as the Mustangs can score points.

They’ve scored at least 21 points in all six of their games, including 35 against Washington State and 42 against Rice. They’re VERY capable of scoring points in the June Jones offense.

The Mids however have scored 14 points or less in three of their five games thus far. It looks like they’ll need to score to win Saturday at Navy-Marine Corps Stadium. It won’t be easy.

10. TowsonTigers.com says DT Yaky Ibia named semi-finalist for National Football Foundation’s William V. Campbell Trophy

This is very cool. Cool enough that even Maggie Q should be interested. (Thanks Guyism!)


And finally, I leave you with this…

I know everyone’s already seen it-but here’s the Grover/Sesame Street/Old Spice YouTube gem for the 5 or 6 of you that may have somehow missed…

Flexing my mic muscles since 1983…


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Ravens 10-Pack: Baltimore feeling Super at 4-1

Posted on 12 October 2010 by Luke Jones

Even with the daunting task of traveling to Foxborough to take on the New England Patriots this Sunday, you have to feel good about the Ravens’ 4-1 start and the early lead atop the AFC North with the first month of the season already in the books.

With three of the first four on the road (two of them division games), you’d be hard-pressed to find anyone who thought the Ravens would fare better than they have after road victories against the Jets and Steelers. And when you take a look around the rest of the league, the Ravens’ accomplishments look even more impressive.

Parity is a word all-too-familiar to NFL fans, but the notion seemed to be waning over the last few seasons with the regular-season success of the 2007 Patriots and extended runs at perfection by the Colts and Saints last year. However, with the 1972 Dolphins uncorking the champagne before Columbus Day — with no 4-0 teams in the NFL since 1970 — and only eight teams sporting one loss through the first five weeks of the season, 2010 appears up for grabs in mid-October.

Are the Ravens the best team in the NFL?

Being this early, who cares? But it’s difficult to argue any team has looked better than Baltimore.

If the Ravens can beat New England (3-1), it will mark just the second 5-1 start in franchise history, the other coming in the 2000 season.

However, for some perspective, at the time of the 5-1 start, Tony Banks was the starting quarterback and the Ravens had just won their second straight game without scoring a touchdown.

Things changed very quickly — in a bad way — before a historic run began and Trent Dilfer and the Ravens found themselves holding the Lombardi Trophy at the end of January.

1. Since taking over as head coach in 2008, John Harbaugh has shown the uncanny ability to take care of business against inferior teams, home or away.

In 37 regular season games under Harbaugh, the Ravens have never lost to a team that finished the season with a losing record. As unimpressive as that might sound to the casual observer, you’ll find a “bad” loss by a playoff-caliber team nearly every week in the NFL.

Of course, the opposite argument can be made that the Ravens have fallen short too many times against quality opponents — especially last season when they struggled to get to the playoffs at 9-7 — but winning the games you’re supposed to win and holding your own against winning teams will put you in an enviable position.

The postseason.

Time will determine whether their Week 2 loss in Cincinnati breaks the string, but the Harbaugh-led Ravens have managed to avoid the unwarranted defeats the team suffered in previous seasons.

2. All eyes will be on Bill Belichick and the Patriots in their first game since trading disgruntled receiver Randy Moss to the Minnesota Vikings and re-acquiring former Super Bowl MVP Deion Branch in a trade with the Seattle Seahawks. The removal of Moss will undoubtedly impact the New England offense, but how much?

Expect a little gadgetry on Sunday as Tom Brady deciphers where everyone fits in the post-Moss era.

Of course, Belichick had an extra week to figure it out with the Patriots’ Week 5 bye, and his record in New England coming off the bye week is an impressive 8-2, including seven straight wins. But before we write off the Ravens at Gillette Stadium and bow to the genius of Belichick, we should remember that four of the last six have come against the Buffalo Bills.

Not to belittle an impressive feat, but game-planning against a team led in recent years by the likes of Dick Jauron and Mike Mularkey is a bit easier than facing the team that blasted you in the playoffs just nine months ago.

In the Harbaugh era, the Ravens are 2-1 when playing teams coming off their bye week. All three games were last season, which included wins against Cleveland and Denver as well as a road loss to Cincinnati.

3. Putting aside the obvious threat of Brady to Wes Welker, defensive coordinator Greg Mattison’s biggest concern might be a pair of rookie tight ends.

Through the Patriots’ first four games, Welker leads the team in receptions (26), but not receiving yards. That distinction belongs to Aaron Hernandez (18 catches for 240 yards) despite being the second tight end drafted (fourth round) by New England in April. Rob Gronkowski, a second-round selection, has posted modest numbers (six catches for 62 yards) but was an impressive talent eyed by the Ravens leading up to the draft.

The Ravens have struggled covering the intermediate middle of the field in recent years, so the inside linebacker corps of Ray Lewis, Jameel McClain, and Dannell Ellerbe will need to keep a close eye on these rookie targets.

4. As much as we lamented the absence of Matt Stover a season ago, let’s tip our caps to Billy Cundiff. His ability to boot the football deep into the end zone on kickoffs is an underappreciated factor in the Ravens being 4-1.

His four touchbacks against the Broncos on Sunday matched the total number by Baltimore kickers all of last year.

Whispers of Stover will not dissipate — if they ever do — until we see Cundiff make a 47-yarder to win a late-season game, but the distinct upgrade on kickoffs cannot be overlooked.

As great as Stover was with the game on the line, fans easily forget his kickoffs barely traveling inside the 10-yard line, often setting up the opponent with good field position.

5. Plenty has been said about Cam Cameron’s choice to use Haloti Ngata at tight end on Sunday’s opening drive and the near-disaster that followed with the defensive tackle down on the field.

I offer you three names: James Jones (1996), Herman Arvie (1996), and Jonathan Ogden (1996 and 2003), three linemen who all registered touchdown catches with the Ravens.

The difference in this case? Cameron and Harbaugh have too many offensive weapons at their disposal to risk losing one of the greatest defensive players in the game today. Why spend draft picks on two tight ends to complement Todd Heap and then risk your best defensive player trying to be too cute?

Ngata playing offense was a fun spectacle until we saw what nearly happened with the Ravens’ season flashing before the eyes of 71,000 people at M&T Bank Stadium.

Lesson learned — hopefully.

6. It was natural for questions to arise whether the Ravens had any interest in bringing back Antwan Barnes after he was cut by the Philadelphia Eagles last week, but  Harbaugh promptly shot down the idea on Monday. (Update: Barnes signed a contract with the San Diego Chargers on Wednesday afternoon)

In three years with the Ravens, the linebacker-defensive end managed only five sacks and sealed his fate last October when he whiffed on a tackle of Cedric Benson that led to a 28-yard touchdown run and an eventual loss to the Bengals.

Barnes is too small to provide help at defensive end, where the Ravens need a consistent pass-rush threat, and not athletic enough to play linebacker on every down. If they didn’t want him before the season, what would have changed a month later?

“I haven’t had a conversation with him,” Harbaugh said on Monday. “We don’t really have a roster opportunity right now for that. We wouldn’t be opposed to it. Antwan’s a good person, a good player. Obviously, he’s done some good things here. But, right now, there’s no way roster-wise we could pull that off.”

In other words, “Thanks, but no thanks — we’ve moved on.”

7. If all goes to plan and you believe the recent comments made by Harbaugh, Sunday will mark the final game before All-Pro safety Ed Reed returns to the 53-man roster after beginning the season on the physically unable to perform list.

During training camp, I said Tom Zbikowski would do an adequate job at free safety in Reed’s absence, and the third-year safety has done just that. So with the Ravens currently having the second-best pass defense in the NFL (behind only the New York Giants), the question must be asked:

How well will Reed fit into the secondary when he returns to the starting lineup?

The Baltimore defense no longer plays the exotic, aggressive schemes of Rex Ryan, but employs a conservative, “bend, but don’t break” style under Mattison. Reed has always gambled in the defensive backfield, at times leaving teammates out to dry in coverage while also making some of the greatest plays in NFL history.

With the 32-year-old returning from hip surgery, it will be interesting to see whether Reed takes a more conservative approach in coverage or returns with a bigger chip on his shoulder to prove he’s still one of the best defensive players in the league and deserving of the new contract he so desperately wants. If Reed proves to be a lesser player than he was prior to the hip procedure but plays with the same aggressive style, the secondary could be more vulnerable to the big play.

That said, it is hard to doubt a player who will one day be enshrined in Canton.

8. Speaking of injured players, you have to wonder how long the Ravens will continue to wait for Jared Gaither to return. Other than being a limited participant in one practice a couple weeks ago, the offensive tackle has been out with a thoracic disc injury since training camp.

With roster decisions looming with Reed and fellow PUP list members Brendon Ayanbadejo and Matt Lawrence, Ozzie Newsome and Harbaugh may need to pull the plug on the projected starter at right tackle.

The improved play of Marshal Yanda at right tackle and Chris Chester at right guard has eased concerns on the right side of the line. Cohesion upfront is difficult to develop, so Gaither’s potential return would require another period of adjustment, something the coaching staff might be uncomfortable with later in the season.

Keep in mind, Gaither has not played right tackle regularly since the early part of his collegiate career at Maryland, so this isn’t a savvy veteran who can step right in to his regular position when healthy.

If Gaither does not make significant progress by the bye week, his season will likely come to a disappointing end.

9. Much has been said about the return of the three-headed running attack and the 2008-like feel to Sunday’s win over the Broncos, but don’t expect it to last.

Like it or not, the Ravens’ current profile is a pass-first team that runs the ball efficiently. The dominating 233-yard rushing performance against Denver was more the effect of a comfortable lead than some epiphany for Cameron.

Of Joe Flacco’s 97 completions through five games, 50 have been for under 10 yards, looking a little like the “running” game of the Patriots with Brady under helm. However, his 6.6 yards per attempt (the lowest of his career) needs to increase for the offense to continue growing.

Despite the profile change — which really began last season — the ability to pound the football looms large when the elements grow harsh, and the Ravens will use it when appropriate.

10. Ranking 19th in the league in total offense (328.2 yards per game) and tied for 17th in points scored (18.4 per game), the Baltimore offense has room for improvement with Cameron and Flacco trying to distribute the ball to keep a plethora of talented players — and egos — happy.

As well as the defense has played, it hasn’t done its counterpart any favors in the turnover department with only three takeaways and a -6 turnover differential, both last in the AFC.

Nothing gives an offense more confidence than starting drives on a short field, and a few more turnovers might be the serum the offense needs to excel. Fortunately, the defense and kick coverage has played well enough to win the field-position battle in most instances, but the turnover differential must improve if the Ravens are to take a step toward elitism, offensively and as a team.

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Greatest Ravens by jersey number (61-80)

Posted on 30 August 2010 by Luke Jones

With Sports Illustrated releasing its list of all-time best NFL players by jersey number recently, we continue to look back at the 15-year history of the Baltimore Ravens to construct a list of the greatest players for Nos. 1-99.

Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3 covered jersey numbers 1 through 60 if you missed them.

Part 4 (61-80) mostly looks at the trenches of the offensive line, with a few obvious choices and several where we need to look long and hard to find a representative.

61 Casey Rabach (2001-04)

Though in the shadow of Mike Flynn for three seasons before finally getting an opportunity to start at center in 2004, Rabach was a solid backup who has become one of the best centers in the NFC while playing for the Washington Redskins.

62 Mike Flynn (1997-2007)

Flynn made 115 starts in his 11 seasons with the Ravens, most of them at center. He was the starting right guard on the Super Bowl XXXV team and moved to center after Jeff Mitchell’s departure for Carolina the following season. Undrafted from Maine, Flynn is one of the great underdog stories in franchise history.

63 Wally Williams (1996-98)

A versatile interior lineman who played center and both guard positions in his time with the Ravens, Williams became the team’s first franchise player in 1998 before departing for the New Orleans Saints in 1999.

64 Edwin Mulitalo (1999-06)

In addition to coining the term “Festivus” for the playoffs in the Charm City, Mulitalo combined with tackle Jonathan Ogden to form an impenetrable left side of the offensive line in their eight seasons together.

65 Chris Chester (2006-present)

Though Chester came into the league undersized, he has made himself into an invaluable reserve with his ability to play all three interior positions on the offensive line. The former Oklahoma Sooner has made 33 starts in his career.

66 Ben Grubbs (2007-present)

1996 tackle Tony Jones and former guard Bennie Anderson both wore the same number, but Grubbs is the clear choice for No. 66. Though he has yet to make a Pro Bowl, Grubbs’ 44 career starts in three seasons puts him on the cusp of receiving the honor.

67 Quentin Neujahr (1996-97)

A backup for two years at center, Neujahr wins the honor, because there are no other candidates to consider.

68 Keydrick Vincent (2005-06)

Largely considered a disappointment after coming to Baltimore from the Steelers, Vincent made 21 starts at right guard over two seasons and is the only legitimate player to have worn the number.

69 Jeff Blackshear (1996-99)

Though a forgotten name from the early years of the franchise, Blackshear made 60 starts at right guard in his four seasons with the Ravens and had a productive nine-year run in the NFL.

70 Harry Swayne (1999-2000)

The recently-departed long snapper Matt Katula can stake a legitimate claim to this number, but it is hard to overlook Swayne’s 13 starts during the Ravens’ championship season, even if he was past his prime by the time he came to Baltimore.

71 Jared Gaither (2007-present)

Gaither’s work ethic has always been in doubt, but his raw size and talent makes him the obvious choice for the number. A fifth-round selection in the 2007 supplemental draft, Gaither has easily outplayed expectations, even if he has caused a few headaches on the Baltimore coaching staff.

72 Damion Cook (2002-04)

Fans would much rather have seen Leon Searcy as the choice here had he actually played a snap for the Ravens in 2001. As a result, Cook and his 13 games over three seasons earn the distinction.

73 Marshal Yanda (2007-present)

Despite suffering a devastating knee injury in 2008, Yanda has rebounded quickly to regain his right guard spot and is versatile enough to slide to right tackle in a pinch, where he started 12 games as a rookie in 2007.

74 Michael Oher (2009-present)

Already a celebrity before ever taking a snap in Baltimore, Oher amazingly had the ability to switch back and forth from right to left tackle as a rookie when filling in for the injured Gaither. He will now be in charge of protecting Joe Flacco’s “blind side” for many years to come.

75 Jonathan Ogden (1996-2007)

The indisputable choice for second-greatest Raven of all time behind linebacker Ray Lewis, Ogden anchored the left side of the Baltimore offensive line for 12 seasons and would have played longer if not for a toe injury. In addition to mauling defensive linemen every Sunday, Ogden also had an incredible amount of athleticism at 6-foot-9, 340 pounds, catching two touchdowns in his career.

76 Jarret Johnson (2003-present)

Yes, Johnson is more commonly known for wearing No. 95, but he wore a different number his rookie season when he played 15 games and started once, good enough to grab the honor for this jersey number. A past-his-prime Erik Williams and defensive tackle Amon Gordon barely warrant a mention here.

77 Orlando Brown (1996-98, 2003-05)

Though his temper rivaled his massive size, “Zeus” was a powerful force on the right side of the offensive line in two different stints with the Ravens. His comeback from an injury that nearly left him blind in one eye—thanks to an errant penalty flag—is worth mentioning, and his career trumps reserve Ethan Brooks and only one season from current veteran center Matt Birk for the distinction at No. 77.

78 Adam Terry (2005-09)

Brown wore this number in the first two years of his second stint with the Ravens, but Terry did just enough in a disappointing career with the Ravens to grab the honor. Though he would never stabilize the right tackle position as the organization hoped, Terry proved to be a viable backup to Ogden at left tackle despite battling injuries throughout his time in Baltimore.

79 Larry Webster (1996-2001)

Right tackle Tony Pashos earns serious consideration here, but Webster was a key member of the defensive line rotation in his time with the Ravens. Though he faced multiple suspensions for violating the league’s substance abuse policy, Webster gets the nod over Pashos and Willie Anderson’s one-year stint in Baltimore.

80 Brandon Stokley (1999-2002)

He struggled to stay healthy and never realized his full potential until moving on to Indianapolis, but Stokley is famous for ending the 2000 team’s five-game touchdown drought with a touchdown catch in Cincinnati and catching the first score in the Ravens’ Super Bowl XXXV victory (see the 1:00 mark below).

Next up: We wrap up our list of the greatest Ravens by jersey number by looking at Nos. 81-99 and an impressive group of players in the history of the franchise.

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