Tag Archive | "Josh Wilson"

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Ravens receive two compensatory picks in April’s draft

Posted on 26 March 2012 by Luke Jones

With NFL owners congregating in Florida for their annual meetings this week, the league awarded 32 compensatory picks for April’s draft on Monday afternoon.

Based on last offseason’s free-agent movement, the Ravens were awarded fourth- and fifth-round compensatory picks, which will be the 130th and 169th overall selections respectively.

While the notable releases of wide receiver Derrick Mason, tight end Todd Heap, defensive tackle Kelly Gregg, and running back Willis McGahee were not taken into account, the free-agent losses of safety Dawan Landry (Jacksonville), guard Chris Chester (Washington), and cornerback Josh Wilson (Washington) factored into the Ravens receiving compensation in April’s draft after each received high-priced, long-term contracts and started 16 games with new teams.

After general manager Ozzie Newsome traded the Ravens’ fourth-round pick in the 2012 draft to Buffalo for veteran Lee Evans last August, receiving a fourth-round compensatory pick helps to ease the sting of that ill-fated move.

Under the rules of compensatory draft selections, a team losing more or better free agents than it acquires in the previous year is eligible to receive picks. The number of picks a team receives is equal to the net loss of free agents up to a maximum of four. Compensatory free agents are determined by a formula based on salary, playing time, and postseason distinctions. Not every free agent lost or acquired by a club factors into the formula.

This year, the compensatory picks will be positioned within the third through seventh rounds based on the value of the compensatory free agents lost.

The Ravens have been awarded 33 compensatory picks over their 17-year history, most in the NFL during that time period. With their two fifth-round compensatory picks in 2011, they selected defensive end Pernell McPhee and cornerback Chykie Brown.

Here are the Ravens’ selections for next month’s draft:

Round 1: No. 29
Round 2: No. 60
Round 3: No. 91
Round 4: No. 130 (compensatory)
Round 5: No. 155
Round 5: No. 169 (compensatory)
Round 6: No. 186
Round 7: No. 218

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Top 10 Baseball Distractions

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Top 10 Baseball Distractions

Posted on 10 January 2012 by Glenn Clark

Honorable Mention: Women’s College Basketball-Virginia @ Maryland (Monday 8:30pm from Comcast Center live on Comcast SportsNet); Boxing: Friday Night Fights-Teon Kennedy vs. Chris Martin (Friday 9pm from Las Vegas live on ESPN2); High School Basketball: Franklin @ Perry Hall (Wednesday 6:30pm), Perry Hall @ Catonsville (Friday 7pm)

10. G. Love & Special Sauce (Friday 8pm Rams Head Live); Bootsy Collins (Wednesday 7:30pm Baltimore Soundstage), Charm City Devils (Saturday 7pm Baltimore Soundstage); Smithereens (Friday 6:30pm & 9:30pm Rams Head on Stage); Rebelution (Sunday 8pm Fillmore Silver Spring)

You can’t pay me to say something negative about G. Love. Unless you pay me with money. I’ll lie about anything for money.

I believe Bootsy Collins is a Cincinnati Bengals fan but I’m willing to look past that. I mean, the man did do this…

Charm City Devils are just…just awesome….

I saw Rebelution at Artscape once. Pretty good…

9. George Lopez (Saturday 8pm D.A.R. Constitution Hall); “Contraband” opens in theaters (Friday); Baltimore County Restaurant Week (Thursday-Monday)

George Lopez is only sorta funny sometimes and while Contraband might be okay I can’t tell you I’m really looking forward to it.

So let’s talk about Restaurant Week. As you know, Hightopps Backstage Grille in Timonium is one of my personal favorite spots in Baltimore County. What you might not know is that the breakout star of “Monday Night Live” for the 2011 season was the Santa Fe Fries…

I would have taken a picture of a full plate, but there was never a full plate. Never.

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Ravens FA CB Fabian Washington before signing w/ Saints: “I won’t be coming back”

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Ravens FA CB Fabian Washington before signing w/ Saints: “I won’t be coming back”

Posted on 01 August 2011 by Ryan Chell

Ravens free agent corner back Fabian Washington signed a one-year deal Sunday with the New Orleans Saints, and while he was fielding calls for nearly a week regarding his free agent status and desire to play, he knew one thing for sure.

He wasn’t returning to the Ravens.

Fabian Washington

“Yes, definitely. I won’t be coming back,” Washington told Thyrl Nelson on “The Mobtown Sports Beat” Friday.

That being said, he definitely was tired of waiting to get picked up after the long NFL-lockout which stalled free agency.

“I’m very anxious to get back to football,” Washington said. “I haven’t been off this long since high school. I’m definitely ready to get back to work.”

Washington-who spent the last three seasons with Baltimore after coming over in a draft-day trade with the Raiders in 2008-had been getting calls from several teams in the NFL looking for both corner back depth and guys with starter experience.

But sadly, he knew after losing his starting job to Josh Wilson in 2010, his time in Baltimore was done.

After starting 12 games his first year in Baltimore in 2008 and the first ten games of the 2009 season before suffering a season-ending knee injury versus Indianapolis, Washington struggled at the beginning of 2010 and lost his starting spot after getting torched in the Ravens’ 37-34 OT win.

Washington was often criticized for dropping sure interceptions, his poor tackling, and his slow recovery speed if he got beat.

But, Washington said that he’s used his struggles last year as motivation to get back to playing at a high level.

“You better grow…you can’t go backwards man,” he said. “I try to take all of the positives from everything. I sat back and looked at some things I was doing wrong. I feel like through this off-season I’ve corrected that. I’m 100 percent health-wise, and I feel great. I feel like I’m ready to play ball man, wherever it may be.”

On top of his struggles, it felt even worse to end his Ravens career losing yet again to the one team he learned to envy in the Pittsburgh Steelers in the playoffs once more.

“You never want to lose in the playoffs, and you never want to lose to the Steelers,” Fabian said. “Every loss I’ve been in the playoffs has felt the same, but you don’t want to lose to the Steelers. You don’t want to hear their mouths all off-season.”

Washington’s potential upside, youth and skills-especially his speed-have kept the former 1st-round pick out of Nebraska not only still in the league but still a commodity to an NFL squad.

“I’ve been getting some calls,” Washington said. “Some teams are showing interest. In my position though, there are a couple big guys who need to sign first.”

He was of course referring to ex-Oakland teammate CB Nnamdi Asomugha, the top free agent on the market, who signed a deal with Philadelphia on Friday.

“The dude is a beast,” Washington said-who played with Asomugha from 2005-2007. “He is unreal out there. Teams rarely throw at him. That’s one thing-playing on the other side of him-you better be ready for a whole heap of balls to be thrown at you.”

“You just need to expect that, because no team is going to throw at him. I think the stat was he was thrown at 50 times all year- total. That’s unheard of. You’ve just got to prepare yourself and have your mind right to have a lot of opportunities to get an interception. It’s a coordinator’s dream to have a corner like that.”

He, Chris Carr, and Asomugha-all former Raiders CBs-spent much of the week watching where each of them were projected to go.

“Everybody’s waiting to see where Nnamdi is gonna play,” Washington said last week,  “then the dominoes will start falling at the cornerback position. But me man… I’m just sitting back relaxing.”

And sure enough, as soon as Asomugha signed Friday with Philadelphia and Carr re-signed on Saturday with Baltimore, Washington signed on the final day of the weekend with the Saints.

But despite the fact that he’s now in the Big Easy playing for the 2009 Super Bowl champs, he still holds a high place in his heart for the time he spent in Baltimore the last three years.

“I would definitely say it was a roller coaster,” he said,  “but I enjoyed every minute of it in Baltimore. “It was fun man…a lot of winning. Where I was coming from, I wasn’t used to that.”

“It’s a great place, and I encourage anybody that gets the chance to play there…play there  because you’re gonna win. I have nothing but good things to say about Baltimore.”

WNST thanks Fabian Washington for joining us, and we want to wish him all the best for his time in Baltimore! WNST-We Never Stop Talking Baltimore Sports!

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Ravens welcome in one Terp, say goodbye to another

Posted on 27 July 2011 by Ryan Chell

College Park must love the attention on a day like this.

In only a few days of free agency, the Baltimore Ravens have already shown up in the NFL headlines for players coming in and out of the facility at Owings Mills.

Today, the Ravens saw two former Terps that found their way to Baltimore in separate ways popped up on the NFL transactions list.

Earlier in the day, corner back Josh Wilson-who found his way to Baltimore’s starting lineup in 2010 via a trade with Seattle-signed with the Washington Redskins as a free agent.

Wilson, who started nine of 14 games last year for the Ravens registering 40 tackles and three interceptions, was in the mix to return for Baltimore, but most likely not as a starter at first glance.

The highlight of his year in Baltimore was his game-sealing interception return of Matt Schaub of the Texans in the Ravens’ Week 14 OT victory over Houston.

Wilson agreed in principle to a three year, 13.5 million dollar deal with six million of that reportedly in guarantees.

Wilson-a DeMatha Catholic grad and Maryland class of 2007, didn’t offer comment to WNST when contacted, but expressed enthusiasm about playing for his hometown Washington Redskins and staying in the area.

While Wilson made the trip down 1-95, Ravens second round pick Torrey Smith, a native of Fredericksburg, VA, made his trek up north official as well Wednesday as he reportedly signed a four year deal with the Ravens.

He becomes the first Ravens draft pick to sign, and that means he can officially practice with the club tomorrow at the team’s first walk-through at 1PM in Owings Mills.

The deal is believed to be four years in length, according to Pro Football Talk.

If you would like to catch up with our most recent chat Thyrl Nelson had with Torrey Smith, check the BuyaToyota.com Audio Vault!

WNST thanks Josh Wilson all the best down in DC and officially would like to welcome Torrey Smith to Ravens Nation! WNST-We Never Stop Talking Baltimore Sports!

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Top 10 Ravens Priorities Before Breaking Camp

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Top 10 Ravens Priorities Before Breaking Camp

Posted on 26 July 2011 by Thyrl Nelson

#10 – Suring up at Safety – While not a position of urgent need for the Ravens, safety isn’t without its questions. Dawan Landry’s impending free agency and Ed Reed’s present state of health could have the team relying heavily on Haruki Nakamura and Tom Zbikowski for critical stretches of this season. As they seem to have greater needs elsewhere it seems unlikely that the team would spend heavily to retain Landry and will take their chances with whomever the market may bear behind Reed, Nakamura and Zbikowski. Historically the Ravens have done well with finding safeties that others haven’t seen value in.

 

 

 

 
 

 

 

#9 – Finding a Tight End – The release of Todd Heap leaves the team with a gaping hole at the tight end position, and like safety could have them relying on a couple of unproven players for big contributions in 2011. In this case that pursuit might be even more ambitious as both Ed Dickson and Dennis Pitta are entering only their second seasons and neither found a major niche in the offense last year. It seems the team has designs on re-signing Heap if possible but otherwise would likely have to turn to the open market for a more reliable answer at TE than Pitta or Dickson look to provide. Absent that, the team might be forced to their 2008 form with little reliance on the TE position as anything but an extra blocker at the line of scrimmage.

 

 

#8 – Backing Up Ray Rice – While the release of Willis McGahee wasn’t much of a surprise on Monday, it leaves the Ravens with a number of unanswered questions in the backfield. Can they trust rookie Anthony Allen to be ready to back up Rice if needed? Are they prepared to go with some combination of Jalen Parmalee and Matt Lawrence at the backup if Allen isn’t up to the task without prep time? If Le’Ron McClain returns will he do so as the full time fullback? Do the Ravens want him otherwise? Will the bounty of free agents and the unwillingness of teams to pay them leave the Ravens with good options to choose from when the dust settles?

 

 

#7 – Backing Up Flacco – If Marc Bulger’s presence on last year’s squad indicated anything at all, it may have been that the Ravens envisioned themselves so close to competing for a title, that they refused to allow themselves to be in a position where a single injury could derail those hopes (even if that injury comes at the most important position on the field). If Bulger finds greener pastures elsewhere, surely the Ravens will be looking for more credible options than Tyrod Taylor or Hunter Cantwell. Hopefully it’s a need that never comes to fruition as the season plays out, but one that must be accounted for nonetheless.

 

 

#6 – Sorting out the Cornerbacks – After the Ravens’ forcible defection of talent on Monday and given their apparent desire to retain some of those players, but at a better price; is it out of the realm of possibility that Domonique Foxworth, coming off of an ACL tear, may also be carrying a price tag that’s tough to justify? Additionally see these 10 cornerback questions.

 

 

#5 – Sorting Out the Wide Receivers – The release of Derrick Mason certainly shakes up the receiving hierarchy in Baltimore for 2011 if the Ravens are unable to compel him back. If not they’re left with a bunch of unproven commodities behind Anquan Boldin. That might make the retention of a guy like TJ Houshmandzadeh suddenly much more realistic than it seemed just a few days ago. Whatever the outcomes with Mason and/or Houshmandzadeh, the Ravens will still need a proven field stretcher to compliment Boldin and whomever else rounds out the receiving corps, and it appears that through free agency they’ll have no shortage of candidates to choose from.

 

 

#4 – Prepping for Pittsburgh – Getting the Steelers, in Baltimore, right out of the gate might be just what the doctor ordered for a team likely still smarting from playoff disappointment at the hands of their rivals. While a win in week one won’t put the rivalry back into balance or even mean much if the Steelers again rain on the Ravens’ post-season hopes, it may mean a great deal in determining where a potential third meeting between the clubs would be played and will probably mean the difference between a big boost or a big letdown to set the tone for the 2011 campaign.

 

 

#3 – Getting Defensive Line Help – The Ravens appear ready to unleash Terrance Cody on the league to compliment the man-mountain that is Haloti Ngata in the middle of the defensive line, and at present have 2 young and interesting commodities backing them up in Kelly Talavou and Arthur Jones, but they’ll still need help in developing a much needed edge rush. At present the Ravens list only 2 defensive ends on their roster, rookie Pernell McPhee and 2nd year Albert McClellan. Unless they’re expecting huge contributions from Paul Kruger and/or Sergio Kindle to compliment Suggs in 2011 it would seem that upgrades are in order. I’ll bet on the latter.

 

 

#2 – Suring Up the Right Side of the Offensive Line – Matt Birk is aging, and everything to his right is a question mark. Did Jared Gaither miss last season by pouting or with a legitimate back injury? In either case can you put any faith in him moving forward? Will Marshall Yanda get tackle money in free agency? Should the Ravens pay him tackle money? What can you expect from Oneil Cousins, Jah Reid, or Ramon Harewood in 2011? Should the Ravens look to pursue a left tackle and move Michael Oher back to the right side?  Answering these questions will probably be the biggest determining factor in the Ravens’ success or lack thereof this season.

 

 

#1 – Coming Up With a New Slogan – If John Harbaugh wasn’t having such success as an NFL coach in his 3-year tenure with the Ravens, one might suggest he pursue a career in marketing. In addition to his knack for having his teams ready to play from week to week, Harbaugh has also shown a knack for getting them up to play through the week to week grind of NFL football. From “Play Like a Raven” to the Muhammad Ali inspired “What’s Our Name”, from the inspirational story of Nehemiah to the recognition of Baltimore’s “53 Mighty Men” Harbaugh has never seemingly been at a loss for a poignant theme or reference. It’s fair to say that players and fans alike have been waiting with baited breath to hear this year’s Harbaugh-ism. Given his biblical affinity and his Thanksgiving Day opponent, I might suggest an infamous tale from Genesis.

 

 

 

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As Offseason FINALLY Opens, Ravens Face Seven Major Issues

Posted on 25 July 2011 by Glenn Clark

I don’t think I’ve ever been happier to start writing a football column.

With the NFL offseason officially slated to open…well…any moment now, the Baltimore Ravens can finally go to work where they left off following the NFL Draft.

The Ravens (as well as all 31 other NFL teams) will have a frantic 10-14 days ahead of them. They’ll need to make decisions on their own free agents, as well as consider players they may want to let go of in order to create salary cap space (this year’s cap will reportedly be $120 million). They’ll have to take a look at Unrestricted Free Agents elsewhere around the league, as well as potential trades. They’ll also have to sign undrafted free agents to fill a 90 man roster and then work on contracts with their own draft picks.

As far as the Ravens are concerned, they’ll have to do all of this while also opening Training Camp (scheduled to begin Wednesday per NFL Network) and preparing for a preseason opener Thursday, August 11th at the Philadelphia Eagles.

As General Manager Ozzie Newsome and company go to work, I’ve identified seven major issues the team faces in this crazy offseason period.

In some particular order…

1-Someway, somehow, the pass rush MUST be upgraded

New Defensive Coordinator Chuck Pagano inherits a unit that tallied just 27 sacks in 2010. Only three teams had a lower total (the Jacksonville Jaguars and Tampa Bay Buccaneers finished with 26 sacks each, the Denver Broncos finished with 23) last season. The Ravens posted the disappointing total number despite 11 sacks alone from LB Terrell Suggs.

The easiest way the Ravens can upgrade this area is by adding a Rush End. Amongst defensive linemen a season ago, only DT Haloti Ngata (5.5) and Cory Redding (three) posted multiple sacks.

The Ravens have in-house options to anchor their defensive line, although none are ideal. Redding could again be asked to take on rush responsibilities, but only once in his career (2006 with the Detroit Lions) has he tallied more than three sacks in a season (eight).

Third year DE Paul Kruger finally got into the sack column last year, but through two seasons that one sack remains the only he has posted.

Another option is DE Pernell McPhee, the team’s 5th round pick out of Mississippi State. McPhee’s chances are less likely due to the shortened offseason, as coaches will be less likely to trust a player immediately after getting little to no time with him in the offseason.

The Ravens can look to free agency to get rush end help. Green Bay’s Cullen Jenkins, Carolina’s Charles Johnson, Minnesota’s Ray Edwards and Tennessee’s Jason Babin headline a group of available rushers off the edge. All will be pricey for a team that still needs to get Ngata signed to a long term deal.

Battling injuries throughout the season, LB Jarret Johnson finished with just 1.5 sacks in 2010. The Ravens are hoping 2010 second round pick Sergio Kindle can spell him at the SAM position, presenting some heat opposite Suggs. It’s hard to count on production from Kindle considering he’s still working his way back from a fractured skull that forced him to miss what would have been his rookie season, but Kindle has maintained this offseason that he has been cleared to return to football.

On the inside, the Ravens can potentially produce a more consistent rush from within. Releasing DT Kelly Gregg could provide the team roughly $3 million in cap savings, and could pave the way for one of the team’s younger interior linemen to get time on the field. DT’s Terrence Cody, Brandon McKinney, Arthur Jones, Lamar Divens and Kelly Talavou could all be options and could all provide a little more ability to reach the backfield.

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10 Cornerback Questions for the 2011 Ravens

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10 Cornerback Questions for the 2011 Ravens

Posted on 19 July 2011 by Thyrl Nelson

Question #1: Should the Ravens be looking at Nnamdi Asomugha?

While it makes for an interesting discussion as we await the official word that football is officially on for the 2011 season, there are few in the fan base, I think, that have the Ravens realistically entertaining the notion of bringing in Asomugha at the price he’s likely to command. While the hope of Asomugha along with the potential of Jimmy Smith make for an intriguing fantasy for Ravens fans, given that the new CBA will also signal the return of the salary cap, and given that Asomugha will have no shortage of suitors on the open market, it seems unlikely that the Ravens would choose now to endeavor so whole-heartedly into free agency.

 

Question #2: Speaking of Jimmy Smith, how much can he be counted on for in 2011?

 

Two things seem clear since the Ravens picked up Jimmy Smith in the first round of this year’s draft. First that the fans seem split on their expectations as to how Smith’s off the field behavior might impact his career longevity and overall usefulness. The second is that regardless of their expectations fans seem united in their hopes that Smith will work out here in Baltimore. If indeed he’s able to stay on the field, his talent seems undeniable, the questions however are given the lack off-season work as the lockout drags on, when and how much might Smith be able to contribute in 2011?

 

Many are already envisioning Smith “locking down” 1/3 to ½ of the field. Whether or not that ever comes to fruition remains to be seen and likely won’t be determined for a few seasons to come. For 2011 however, reliable, efficient, workmanlike play from Smith would be seen as a coup, and depending on how free agency ultimately treats the Ravens, could be a hopeful necessity.

 

Question #3: How much can you count on Dominique Foxworth?

 

Again depending on whom the Ravens endeavor to bring in or bring back through free-agency, it would seem that Foxworth at least for now, is one of the proven commodities the team can count on at corner. Coming back from season ending ACL surgery however, and without the ability of the team to monitor his rehab, counting on Foxworth to that degree becomes a hopeful proposition at best. Working in the Ravens favor seems to be the fact that because his injury happened so early in 2010 that Foxworth should be well ahead of the curve on the road to recovery. Fans can at least hope that Ravens officials have been monitoring Foxworth’s mobility in and out of the negotiating rooms as he’s been one of the central figures in lockout negotiations and therefore at least visible.

 

Question #4: Should the Ravens bring back Chris Carr?

 

He’s no Asomugha, but it could be argued that Carr was the Ravens’ best corner last season, and while critics will still offer that may not be saying much, it’s not bad for a guy brought in largely as a special-teamer a couple of seasons earlier. The 28-year old corner will likely make a bit more than the $2 million he brought home in 2010, but certainly nowhere in the stratosphere of Asomugha. Carr has indicated an interest in returning to the Ravens for 2011, and a willingness to convert to safety too if necessary. That kind of versatility along with his special teams experience would seem to make retaining Carr a top priority.

 

Question #5: What’s the market for Josh Wilson?

 

Most fans seem resigned to the Ravens retaining either Carr or Wilson but not both. Maybe that’s because they’re still entertaining ways to pay a talent like Asomugha. I’m greedy though, as I’d like to see both back. Further, it doesn’t seem wholly unrealistic, especially given the money we’re saving on Nnamdi. It seems that no matter how well Josh Wilson has played throughout his career, he simply can’t shake the fact that he’s only 5’9″. Year after year, that fact alone seems to relegate Wilson to the bench to start the season, and year after year his play manages to command him more time and opportunities. Last year the Ravens scored big with Wilson, as a new coaching staff again seemed to question his physical limitations. I’ll bet they can score big again with him in free agency too as teams will continue to hang up on his size and ignore his abilities.

 

Question #6: Is Cary Williams still in the mix?

 

Williams was an afterthought of an addition to last year’s team, further pushed below the fold by his suspension to start the 2010 campaign. And while his statistical impact may have been minimal, Williams always seemed to be around the ball at the right time, and made heady plays in his limited opportunities in the mix, especially on special teams. Keeping Williams around and in the mix seems like a no-brainer, and certainly seems to increase the football IQ of the team overall.

 

Question #7: What do we expect from Chykie Brown?

 

Brown, the Ravens’ 5th rd pick (164th overall), was the 3rd Texas corner taken in this year’s draft. Maybe he’s a hidden talent who fell buried on the depth chart by prolific (and NFL caliber) talent at Texas. Maybe he’s better than advertised and largely an unknown commodity because of the forearm injury that cut his 2010 season short. Maybe as Sergio Kindle’s former roommate there’s a bigger reason to have him on and around the team. Whatever the actual case is, Brown, as a contributor beyond special teams in 2011 seems unlikely. Like Smith he’ll have the inherent struggles of a rookie learning on the fly in the post lockout NFL, but unlike Smith he won’t be making the kind of money or carrying the kind of notoriety that might compel the team to press him into deep waters too soon.

 

Question #8: Could Lardarius Webb be headed back to safety?

 

Even without Asomugha, if the Ravens come back for 2011 with a corner unit that includes Smith, Carr, Foxworth, Wilson, Brown, Williams and Webb, the battle for depth chart supremacy could be a contentious one in Baltimore this summer. Safety however might be another matter altogether; despite Carr’s willingness to play safety or corner, and based on their respective calibers of play at corner in 2010, Webb might be the more deserving choice to provide safety depth if needed. If the Ravens can indeed look to the corner position as one of strength for a change, then moving Webb to safety, at least part time, might be deserving of some consideration?

 

Question #9: Can you ever have enough depth at corner?

 

No.

 

Question #10: How much does a pass rush improve corner play?

 

Immensely. And as priorities go, in a salary cap era, it would seem the Ravens’ money would be better spent in brining in guys who can compel the opposing quarterbacks to throw the ball before they want to throw it. That, and a more concerted effort to be deceptive pre-snap would go a long way toward making the Ravens defensive backfield look good in 2011 regardless of who winds up at the top of the depth charts.

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Mocking The 53: A Positional Breakdown of Ravens Roster

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Mocking The 53: A Positional Breakdown of Ravens Roster

Posted on 08 June 2011 by Glenn Clark

Here is my first offseason/preseason ranking of the players who are currently property of the Baltimore Ravens or who were property of the team at the end of the 2010 season.

This list INCLUDES players who are not under contract-whether they are tendered restricted free agents, draft picks, exclusive rights free agents or even players who are expected to reach unrestricted free agency this offseason.

Unlike in the past, I will do this list by position as I attempt to further explain how the team’s roster currently shapes up.

I apologize for my delay in putting this compilation together. Blame Gary Williams…and the Triple Crown…and the team’s practices at Towson University…and my own laziness.

Obviously there is much to be done before any of this matters, but this is simply “as the roster stands now” analysis.

Quarterbacks (4):
Joe Flacco
Marc Bulger (UFA)
Tyrod Taylor
Hunter Cantwell

tyrod

The quarterback position is still in much less than full clarity at this point.

Joe Flacco has been a NFL quarterback for  55 games, including the playoffs. Joe Flacco has played every snap in 55 of those 55 games.

A season ago, the Ravens took a slight risk by parting ways with two backups-trading John Beck to the Washington Redskins during Training Camp and releasing Troy Smith after the preseason finale in St. Louis. They decided to carry only two active quarterbacks, paying a hefty price for veteran backup Marc Bulger.

Bulger appears to be out in Charm City, with most in the league believing he is destined to sign with the Arizona Cardinals. The Ravens knew they’d need to address quarterback depth during the draft and did so by selecting the explosive former Virginia Tech Hokies star (Taylor-pictured above) in the 6th round.

While Taylor (who hails from the quarterback hotbed of Hampton, Virginia) certainly has a number of supporters who believe him capable of being a legitimate starter in the league-he will not play that role in Baltimore unless there is turmoil this season one way or another (injury or failure).

Flacco is the starter. Taylor will have a great chance of making the roster. The real question facing the team is how else to address the position. It is believed that the Ravens will pursue another veteran QB of sorts when (if?) free agency finally begins. Miami Dolphins QB Chad Pennington has been a much rumored name the team could consider pursuing.

Should the Ravens not acquire a veteran free agent to backup Flacco, Cantwell could remain in the mix. He spent the entire 2010 season on the team’s practice squad-but has in the past been an active part of the Carolina Panthers’ roster.

With Taylor unlikely to be let go (or placed at risk of being taken away by trying to move him to the practice squad) but also unlikely to be the primary backup early in his career, it is fairly safe to assume the team will keep three quarterbacks this season.

Running Backs/Fullbacks (8):
Ray Rice
Le’Ron McClain
Willis McGahee
Jalen Parmele
Matt Lawrence
Jason McKie
Anthony Allen
Curtis Steele

parmele

Rice is obviously the team’s “featured” back. The issue for Cam Cameron’s offense this offseason is figuring out how to complement the fourth year back moving forward.

The worst kept secret in football is that the Ravens intend to part ways with McGahee because he is unwilling to take a cut from the $6 million he is owed. Should McGahee find the market slim there would always be a chance he could look towards Baltimore again, but it certainly appears unlikely.

With McGahee apparently gone, the Ravens will have to build their backfield without him. One option is McClain, who had his best season yet as a true fullback in 2010 (despite the fact that he was actually passed over for Pro Bowl recognition by Houston Texans FB Vonta Leach) but who has made clear his desire to carry the football more often.

McClain was initially thought to be on the cusp of reaching free agency this offseason (and departing), but without a new CBA McClain (and other fourth and fifth year players) would likely remain under contract. McClain’s size and potential goal line/short distance ability make him potentially a solid complement for Rice.

Should the Ravens move McClain into that role, they would likely need to consider keeping McKie or otherwise improving the fullback position. McKie was a non-factor during his brief stay at the end of the 2010 season-but could be a viable option in a thin market.

Parmele (pictured above) is the wild card in the backfield. The coaching staff has remained high on him throughout his time in Baltimore (and he has connections with Cameron dating back to the Dolphins). Parmele has remained a value special teams player (and is a viable return option), but he has run the ball only seven times in his career.

Lawrence, Allen and Steele are all question marks (and possibly longshots) to make the roster. Lawrence is a talented special teams player but missed the 2010 season with a torn ACL. Allen (the team’s 7th round pick in the 2011 NFL Draft) is hoping his 6’1″, 228 pound frame is enough to get him on the roster. Steele spent the 2010 season on the practice squad after signing as an undrafted free agent out of Memphis. The team liked his quick hitting ability, but he will have an uphill climb-especially if there is no Training Camp.

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Can We All Agree That We Just Don’t Give A Crap About Anything Vinny Cerrato Says?

Posted on 01 June 2011 by Glenn Clark

This one will earn me a dirty look or two in the future.

Then again, it might also earn me a place in the heart of Washington Redskins fans who have been pissed off ever since I (rightly) stated that John Riggins shouldn’t be filming commercials at M&T Bank Stadium.

(Of course, these are the same fans that tell me they simply don’t care about the Baltimore Ravens but then lustily booed Head Coach John Harbaugh when he was shown on screen at Verizon Center before a Washington Capitals playoff game. Losers. But this isn’t about them. I’ll move on.)

No, this is about another brilliant move by CBS Radio Baltimore at 105.7 The Fan. And before you say “Glenn, why would you bother to write about what they’re doing on another radio station?”, let me point out that this is about much more than that.

Frankly, I’ve never actually heard former Skins executive Vinny Cerrato on the air at 105.7. I am aware that he is currently co-hosting a nightly football show on the station, but like EVERY OTHER SPORTS FAN IN CHARM CITY, if I’m in the car at night in Baltimore I’m either listening to the Orioles game or my Ipod. WBAL and Steve Jobs can thank me for the respective plugs later.

A minor controversy was started in Charm City when Cerrato told Baltimore Sun writer Ken Murray the following about the fact that Ravens 1st round pick CB Jimmy Smith did not attend last week’s voluntary player workouts at Towson University.

“That’s a red flag. He should have been here.”

As I said all week on “The Morning Reaction” on AM1570 WNST, the criticism was absolutely baseless. The workouts were offense intensive, with QB Joe Flacco, RB Ray Rice and WR’s Derrick Mason and Anquan Boldin using the time to get to know their new teammates and introducing them to the team’s offensive playbook. There were no Offensive Linemen in attendance and the defensive players in attendance were mostly locally-based, including Maryland native CB’s Domonique Foxworth and Josh Wilson.

Jimmy Smith is based out of California, making it at least slightly inconvenient to get to Baltimore. Rookie DE Pernell McPhee (the team’s 5th round pick out of Mississippi State) told the National Football Post he was not even invited to the workouts at Unitas Stadium. While Smith has not been made available for comment about the faux controversy, none of his teammates seemed to be upset about the fact that he wasn’t present.

In fact, fellow rookie Torrey Smith (the former Maryland WR who is also represented by Drew Rosenhaus) took to Twitter after getting word of Cerrato’s comments to say the following…

“folks need to leave Jimmy alone for not coming to workouts this week..It was mainly offensive players…he didn’t miss a thing”

Agreed.

I said two more things last week about this stupid fake controversy. One is that if there was a player who MAY have deserved criticism, it was FB Le’Ron McClain. Should this dispute between the National Football League and NFLPA result in the 2011 season being played under 2010 rules, McClain would not reach free agency and would be back in Baltimore. Given that he’s spent a lot of time in Charm City this offseason, it puzzled me that he wasn’t able to attend.

The other point I offered about the situation was that by exonerating Jimmy Smith for not being in attendance at Towson, I wasn’t trying to suggest that he might not be a bad guy. He certainly has a bad track record, and hasn’t gone out of his way publicly to rebuild his image in Baltimore since his initial press conference. In fact, I think Harbaugh made the most telling statement when he told Drew Forrester in a recent interview on AM1570 WNST, “It’s worth the risk. A lot of people had him off the board and I understand why. He’s gonna have to make wise choices.”

Jimmy Smith MIGHT be a bad guy. But he’s certainly not a bad guy because he didn’t attend the workouts last week. That really couldn’t have been more irrelevant.

This really isn’t about Jimmy Smith either though.

This is about Cerrato-who pointlessly generated traction with his meaningless comments. Comments that some of us in attendance last Tuesday at Unitas Stadium told him were baseless. Comments that Ravens LB Jameel McClain dismissed when Cerrato asked him about Smith’s absence that day.

And comments that absolutely no one in Baltimore should care about…at all. Ever.

Cerrato’s presence in Baltimore is ridiculous to begin with. As they’ve so often done before, CBS Radio has shown how little they understand about this sports market. Cerrato has absolutely no background in Baltimore and is best known for the decade plus he spent working for Dan Snyder in DC, an organization fans in Baltimore have absolutely no respect for.

What’s worse is the utter lack of success Cerrato had during his time with the Skins. The organization reached the playoffs just three times during his tenure, winning the NFC East only one-his first year (1999). They never finished with more than ten wins and were the subject of significant criticism for their failure to draft and develop talented players (three times the team had no first round pick, other picks included QB Patrick Ramsey and WR Rod Gardner) and their insistence on signing overpaid and/or aging veterans (Bruce Smith, Deion Sanders and a $100 million deal for Albert Haynesworth come to mind).

Cerrato was especially disliked by Washington fans because of the perception that his employment was based on a willingness to simply play the part for Snyder as the team failed miserably on and off the field. This was well documented in a 2005 column by the Washington Post’s Mike Wise, where Cerrato acknowledged the frustration of the fanbase. ”People say I do nothing, that I only keep my job because I’m the owner’s friend” he told the columnist. “I do have a national championship ring and a Super Bowl ring, you know.”

Cerrato was accurate, as Wise pointed out at the time. He was the recruiting coordinator on Lou Holtz’s 1988 Championship staff at Notre Dame, and he was the Director of College Scouting for the San Francisco 49ers when they won Super Bowl XXIX.

That was 1994. His resume since that time is particularly unimpressive.

It’s all the more reason why Cerrato’s hiring by the folks at CBS here in Baltimore is questionable at best. Baltimore sports fans have absolutely no connection to Cerrato whatsoever, and his resume doesn’t demand for fans to respect his opinions about their beloved franchise.

Perhaps none of us should have been surprised when Sun columnist Kevin Van Valkenburg said the following about Cerrato Monday night via Twitter…

“On radio, Vinny Cerrato keeps calling Haloti Ngata: “Nuh-gah-ta.” Hard to believe the Skins weren’t better with this details man in charge.”

Lord.

It isn’t Vinny Cerrato’s fault that the folks at CBS don’t understand why he shouldn’t be on the air in Baltimore. Their Vice President of Programming (Dave LaBrozzi) is one of the biggest Pittsburgh Steelers fans I have ever met in my life. He couldn’t know what Baltimore Ravens fans want to hear because he’s…well…the exact opposite of a Baltimore Ravens fan.

An admitted Washington Redskins fan called Drew and I last week and made a very legitimate point. Should Ravens GM Ozzie Newsome retire this offseason and choose to do local market radio in Washington, it wouldn’t be hard for Redskins fans to accept him. He had a Hall of Fame career as a Tight End for the Cleveland Browns and has had arguably another Hall of Fame career as an executive.

Cerrato was a forgettable QB/WR for Iowa State and a miserable executive for a team most folks in Baltimore have a particular disdain for.

There’s no acceptable reason for anyone in this town to care about anything Cerrato thinks or says.

I’m sorry Vinny. You seemed like a nice guy when we met. I bet you’d be really good working for ESPN’s Scouts Inc. or the Sporting News War Room or an outlet like that.

But for the role of a sports talk show host who is expected to give “expert” opinions about the Baltimore Ravens is concerned, you’re simply misplaced. As your fellow CBS employee Ian Eagle would say, “It’s not a low blow. It’s just a fact.”

I know some folks who I’ll eventually have to see in Owings Mills (or Westminster or wherever something football-related happens next) won’t like this. I’m sorry. A lot of you who understand this market know I’m right. Some of you have already told me that.

And someone will probably call me hypocritical for writing 1400+ words about a subject I’m suggesting no one should care about. Perhaps they’re right. I’ll promise to never spend another sentence writing about the subject again. Probably.

But otherwise I’ll assume we’re in agreement. Moving forward, no one cares about anything Cerrato says.

Right?

Flexing my mic muscles since 1983…

-G

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Live From Towson: (Some) Ravens Gather to “Practice” During Lockout

Posted on 24 May 2011 by Glenn Clark

TOWSON, Md. — Members of the Baltimore Ravens gathered Tuesday at Unitas Stadium on the campus of Towson University for an unofficial practice. It was the first large gathering of Ravens players since the National Football League and the NFL Players Association failed to come to terms on a new Collective Bargaining Agreement and a lockout was implemented by league owners.

The practices were organized by WR Derrick Mason (the team’s NFLPA representative) and are scheduled to run through Thursday. None of the week’s practices were open for public viewing, but Tuesday’s was open to reporters.

26 players participated in Tuesday’s practice. Offensive players in attendance were Mason, QB Joe Flacco, QB Tyrod Taylor, QB Hunter Cantwell, RB Ray Rice, RB Anthony Allen, TE Davon Drew, TE Dennis Pitta, WR Anquan Boldin, WR Torrey Smith, WR Tandon Doss, WR Justin Harper and WR James Hardy. Defensive players in attendance were DL Cory Redding, DT Arthur Jones, DT Brandon McKinney, DT Lamar Divens, LB Jameel McClain, LB Jarret Johnson, CB Domonique Foxworth, CB Josh Wilson and S Haruki Nakamura. Special teamers in attendance were K Billy Cundiff, P Sam Koch and LS Morgan Cox.

Mason told reporters following practice he wasn’t sure if any other players would be arriving to participate later in the week.

The practice was very light, with some running and conditioning drills; as well as some route running and passing drills with coverage. The conditioning drills were lead by Mack James, a trainer Rice works out with. The passing drills were lead by Flacco.

PR STUNT?: While many fans and analysts have been quick to suggest this week’s practices were merely a public relations stunt, but the players believed the sessions had real football value as well.

“I think guys wanna be out here” said Rice. “It felt good to set your alarm clock for practice. Regardless of what you say (is) voluntary, it felt good to say ‘you know what? I’m going to practice’ and we take it seriously.”

“Obviously we want (reporters) to come out” said Mason. “To show (the fans) that we are working. We’re not just sitting around on the couch not doing anything waiting on the CBA. We are working because we understand (that) this thing could happen at a minute’s notice. We’ve got to be ready to get back on the field because the fans want to see a good product once we do start playing.”

“We just want to let the fans know that we’re working and we’re working hard” added Mason. “It’s not our choice to be somewhere else working out, we would rather be at (1 Winning Drive) but obviously we can’t.”

“It’s just good to be together” said Flacco. The biggest thing about getting out here is the young guys. The guys that are missing out the most right now are the young guys. To get these guys out here and kinda show them the way a little bit so that they can have some stuff to work on is a big deal so that if we need to-and we’re going to want to-we’ll be able to use these guys.”

Rice said he and the offensive veterans would be meeting with the first year players to go over the playbook following practice.

INJURY REPORT: Foxworth (knee) would likely have been listed as a limited participant in Tuesday’s practice had their been an injury report. He participated in some running and coverage drills, but did not appear to be using a full motion-even for a “fake” practice.

Foxworth missed the entire 2010 season after suffering a torn ACL and torn MCL during the first day of Training Camp.

Cox (knee) would have likely been listed as a full participant, he did not appear bothered during Special Teams drills despite having a brace on his left knee. Cox’s season was cut short after suffering a torn ACL in the team’s Week 16 win over the Cleveland Browns at Cleveland Browns Stadium.

NOTES: Hear from Mason, Flacco, Rice, J. McClain, Doss, Hardy and Taylor now in the BuyAToyota.com Audio Vault here at WNST.net……OT Jared Gaither (who was not part of Tuesday’s practice) is scheduled to join Rex Snider at 2:30pm Tuesday on “The Afternoon Drive” on AM1570 WNST……Hardy is scheduled to join Drew Forrester Wednesday morning at 7:30am on “The Morning Reaction” on WNST……Towson football coach Rob Ambrose and 15 Tigers players took in today’s practice from the Unitas Stadium field……The school added extra security all week with the anticipation that fans would attempt to access practice

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