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Live From Owings Mills: This Could Be A Big Game For Hauschka

Posted on 01 October 2009 by Glenn Clark

4:30-Injury Report:

Ravens-

QB Troy Smith-DID NOT PARTICIPATE-Illness
DT Justin Bannan-LIMITED-Knee
LB Tavares Gooden-LIMITED-Shoulder/Head
LB Jarret Johnson-LIMITED-Shoulder
DE Trevor Pryce-LIMITED-Illness
LB Antwan Barnes-FULL-Shoulder
TE Todd Heap-FULL-Back
LB Ray Lewis-FULL-Head
WR Kelley Washington-FULL-Groin

Patriots:

LB Jerod Mayo-DID NOT PARTICIPATE-Knee
DT Vince Wilfork-DID NOT PARTICIPATE-Ankle
CB Darius Butler-LIMITED-Thigh
OT Nick Kaczur-LIMITED-Ankle
WR Randy Moss-LIMITED-Back
WR Matt Slater-LIMITED-Elbow
CB Shawn Springs-LIMITED-Knee
WR Wes Welker-LIMITED-Knee
CB Jonathan Wilhite-LIMITED-Groin
DT Mike Wright-LIMITED-Shoulder
QB Tom Brady-FULL-Right Shoulder

2:07-Couple other things I noticed today at practice-

-Willis McGahee was taking snaps on the sideline…..they looked like “Wildcat” formation snaps. No reason to read anything into that, but I thought I’d pass that along.
-Mark Clayton was fielding punts during Special Teams practice. He’s done that before, so there’s no reason to think Chris Carr won’t be the guy on Sunday.
-Mike Duffy (BaltimoreRavens.com) says Trevor Pryce DID practice today. I only watched a few minutes of practice today after talking to Bob Haynie; so I must have missed it. Of course, The Sun also reported that he didn’t. Duff has different rules for what he’s allowed to do as he is a team employee, but he’s also a good dude and has pretty good hair. So I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt on this one.

1:50-Troy Smith and Trevor Pryce were again missing from practice today. We’re assuming they’re dealing with the same flu bug that hit Jared Gaither last week-in which case they are likely quarantined. We’d ask, but…..well….you know the drill.

Noticed all of the guys who were limited yesterday in practice out there (Ray Lewis, Todd Heap, Tavares Gooden, Kelley Washington, Justin Bannan, Jarret Johnson); none are really concerns for Sunday.

1:21-I just used this one with Bob Haynie on AM1570 WNST, but I’ll go back to it. I found out earlier today that Demetrius Williams was playing the role of Randy Moss this week in practice, but I’d personally prefer that Demetrius Williams play the role of Demetrius Williams on the field for the Ravens.

As Jay-Z says, “Thank you, thank you, thank you. You’re far too kind.”

1:07-You can go to the Audio Vault at WNST.net RIGHT NOW to hear from:

Offensive Coordinator Cam Cameron
Defensive Coordinator Greg Mattison
Special Teams Coordinator Jerry Rosburg
Kicker Steve Hauschka

1:06-DT Justin Bannan said he was feeling “fine” today, he was limited in practice yesterday with a knee injury.

12:49-I got ABOUT the response I expected to get regarding my thoughts on Steve Hauschka.

-Steve said he didn’t think kicking at Gillette Stadium would feel “too much different” from kicking at Middlebury College (where he kicked for 3 years before going to NC State-Middlebury is located in Vermont). He also grew up in Needham, Massachusetts, so the wind shouldn’t be anything new to him. He says he doesn’t know about Gillette Stadium specifically, but he’ll get a feel for the wind and the stadium’s open end during warmups.
-Special Teams Coordinator Jerry Rosburg immediately tried shooting down the significance of kicking at Gillette when I asked him about it; but eventually understood my points and said:

“The thing that we preach to all of our specialists is that when you go out on the field to kick, hold, punt, or snap; you’re really not concerned about all of that other stuff, it’s just about the ball.”
“It wouldn’t matter if it was at Middlebury or in Gillette Stadium, he’s gotta go out there and kick the ball. If he can stay in that frame of mind, I think he’ll be fine. Steve’s a strong young man physically, and more importantly he’s a strong young man mentally. He knows what he’s faced with, and I know going home it’s going to be a thrill for him, but when he steps on the field it’s all business.”

Worth noting, I spoke to a few people in and around the organization this morning about Hauschka. I think the general consensus is that this is definitely going to be Steve’s job all season-the Ravens likely won’t reevaluate until season’s end to determine if he needs competition against next year in Training Camp. But certainly an 0-2 or 1-3 day kicking would be enough to make some around the organization start thinking about sending a text to Matt Stover to see how he feels-even if it isn’t to have him come hang out at the complex for a day.

11:14-Back out here at 1 Winning Drive, where we are preparing to speak to the Ravens’ coordinators-Cam Cameron, Greg Mattison, and Jerry Rosburg.

I am looking forward to hearing Jerry Rosburg speak about Steve Hauschka kicking this Sunday at Gillette Stadium. Steve grew up in New England, so he is excited to kick against the Patriots. But this could also be a very big weekend for Steve’s young NFL career, as he will face his greatest adversity. A season ago, his own two field goal tries came in Baltimore and Houston (where Reliant Stadium is climate controlled and has a roof). This season, he has kicked in Baltimore and San Diego-where the only weather is good weather. In the preseason, he also kicked in Atlanta (dome) and Charlotte (mundane atmosphere, no weather issues.)

Sunday will be quite different. Steve will be kicking in front of a VERY hostile crowd in Foxborough, in a stadium with an open end. The weather is also expected to be cold and rainy; which means Steve could face a pressure kick late to beat a VERY good Patriots team in a situation he has never experienced before.

I don’t believe a missed kick in the 4th quarter would change how the Ravens feel about Steve Hauschka. An 0-3 day might. But a missed kick in the 4th quarter COULD change the perception of Steve Hauschka amongst Ravens fans.

-G

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Thursday Morning’s Crabs and Beer

Posted on 01 October 2009 by Glenn Clark

I get an incomplete again today. My apologies. Have to get out to 1 Winning Drive to find out if Troy Smith and Trevor Pryce are felling better.

Let’s see what everyone has to say….

Best of Wednesday’s WNST Blogs:

Glenn Clark says Ravens had to dismiss outsider trying to watch practice yesterday at 1 Winning Drive

Drew Forrester says Orioles NEED to win before end of season

Luke Jones says Melvin Mora should leave Baltimore with pride

Drew Forrester says Joe Angel took stab at Red Sox

Tom Clayton chose Golden Girls over Orioles (I would too)

Derek Arnold says Ravens have won their last 10 games against teams not named “Steelers”

Rex Snider says Ravens haven’t been world beaters against NFL’s best in recent years

Thyrl Nelson says Flacco, McGahee pretty good fantasy plays Sunday

Ed Frankovic picks Capitals 2nd in Eastern Conference

ORIOLES:

The Official Site’s Spencer Fordin says David Hernandez struggled as Rays beat Birds again

The Official Site provides numerical evidence of 13th straight loss

The Official Site’s Spencer Fordin says Chris Waters takes hill tonight at Tropicana Field against Matt Garza, Tampa Bay

The Official Site’s Spencer Fordin says Bob McCrory to undergo surgery for torn labrum Friday

The Official Site’s Spencer Fordin says MacPhail, executives visited new Spring Training home in Sarasota

Rays Official Site’s Alden Gonzalez says James Shields strong as Rays topped O’s

The Sun’s Jeff Zrebiec says Wigginton crushed 2 run bomb in loss

The Sun’s Jeff Zrebiec says Bergesen can’t run 2 months after injury

The AP says Luke Scott left game with strained muscle in left foot

St. Petersburg Times’ Marc Topkin says Zobrist drilled 3 run homer in victory

Tampa Tribune’s Marc Lancaster says Carl Crawford also homered in win for Rays

RAVENS:

The Official Site’s Mike Duffy says Ray Lewis, Tavares Gooden, Jarret Johnson, Todd Heap, Justin Bannan, Kelley Washington all ‘limited’ in practice

The Official Site’s Mike Duffy says Harbaugh, Ravens want to be like Belichick, Patriots

The Official Site’s Mike Duffy says Paul Kruger willing to do anything to get on field

The Official Site says Harbaugh expects ‘chess match’ between Tom Brady, Ed Reed

The Official Site says Adalius Thomas not thinking about Baltimore anymore

The Official Site’s Mallory Steinberg says Heap, Flacco, Birk, Ayanbadejo, Frank Walker, Jameel McClain amongst Ravens involved in community this week

Patriots Official Site’s Erik Scalavino says practice squad TE Robbie Agnone thinks Flacco “same old dude” he was when two were teammates at Delaware, Pitt

Patriots Official Site says Prescott Burgess came back to practice squad

The Sun’s Edward Lee says Jarret Johnson views A.D. as ‘playmaker’

The Sun’s Ken Murray says Kruger continues to work on Special Teams, offered to play Tight End

The Sun’s Ken Murray says Derrick Mason can’t even think about ’07 loss to Patriots at M&T Bank Stadium

Carroll County Times’ Aaron Wilson says Domonique Foxworth knows Randy Moss ‘great player’

Carroll County Times’ Aaron Wilson says Trevor Pryce, Troy Smith didn’t practice due to injury

Boston Globe’s Michael Whitmer says Tom Brady thinks Ed Reed, Ray Lewis, Ravens defense ‘instinctive’

Boston Herald’s Ian Rapoport says Terrell Suggs thinks Tom Brady ‘one hell of a quarterback’

Providence Journal’s Shalise Manza Young says credit for Ravens’ offensive success belongs to Flacco, Cam Cameron

Worcester Telegram’s Rich Garven says Pats struggling in red zone

ESPNBoston.com’s Mike Reiss says Wilfork, Kaczur, Mayo did not practice; Moss, Welker, D. Butler, M. Slater, Springs, Wilhite, M. Wright all limited for New England Wednesday

SI’s Don Banks keeps Ravens 1st in power rankings

4 of 8 USA Today analysts pick Ravens to beat Patriots

NFL.com has Ravens 2nd in power rankings

Fox Sports’ Peter Schrager picks Ravens 27-26

TERRAPINS FOOTBALL:

The Diamondback’s Aaron Kraut says Play by Play Voice Johnny Holliday to enter Athletics Hall of Fame tonight

The Diamondback’s Eric Detweiler says CJ Spiller comes into Maryland game struggling

The Diamondback’s Adi Joseph says James Franklin thinks Chris Turner needs to improve when pass protection breaks down

Washington Post’s Eric Prisbell says Nick Ferrara will handle punting responsibilities for Terps

Washington Post’s Eric Prisbell says Ralph thinks Da’Rel Scott ‘hurting’ over fumbles

Washington Post’s Eric Prisbell says Ralph believes QB’s need to be ‘tough suckers’

Washington Post’s Eric Prisbell says only Miami (Ohio) has turned ball over more than Terps

Washington Post’s Eric Prisbell says Fridge ‘not overjoyed’

Washington Times’ Patrick Stevens says Nolan Carroll wants to be near Byrd Stadium field to watch games

Washington Times’ Patrick Stevens says Ralph Friedgen told ACC teleconference he held team meeting Tuesday

Washington Times’ Patrick Stevens says Pinegar will apparently be available Saturday

Washington Times’ Patrick Stevens says Clemson beat writer Larry Williams thinks Swinney’s personality helping him through struggles

Washington Times’ Patrick Stevens says career over for OT Tyler Bowen

Charleston Post and Courier’s Travis Sawchik says Swinney wants Tigers to ‘stay the course’

Columbia State’s Paul Strelow says DC Kevin Steele knows Tigers’ red zone defense must improve

ESPN.com’s Heather Dinich picks Clemson 31-14

ESPN.com’s Heather Dinich says Terps must avoid ‘turnovers and penalties’

Terrapin Times’ Mike Ashley says Terps get shot for “2nd season” as ACC play opens up Sunday (must subscribe)

Terrapin Times’ Keith Cavanaugh says Maurice Hampton ‘blossoming’ on O-Line for Terps (must subscribe)

Terrapin Times’ Keith Cavanaugh says Tyler Bowen to be student-coach now (must subscribe)

Turtle Sports Report’s Matt Birchenough says practice ‘light’ Wednesday as Terps gear up for Tigers

TERRAPINS BASKETBALL:

Washington Times’ Patrick Stevens offers changes to hoops schedule, including UNC Greensboro game on Comcast SportsNet

TERRAPINS WOMEN’S BASKETBALL:

Washington Post’s Camille Powell says Terps added French forward Tchatchouang

NAVY FOOTBALL:

Annapolis Capital’s Bill Wagner says center Curtis Bass will have his hands full with AFA’s Ben Garland

Annapolis Capital’s Bill Wagner says lacrosse team to give away “rally towels” at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium Saturday

Washington Post’s Camille Powell says Bobby Doyle does a lot with a few carries

Washington Post’s Camille Powell says Joe Buckley will handle kicking against Falcons

Washington Post’s Camille Powell says Gee Gee Greene will continue to return kicks for Midshipmen

Washington Post’s Camille Powell says Blake Carter regularly has big games against Air Force

Colorado Springs Gazette’s David Ramsey says Falcons have lost 6 straight in Commander-in-Chief Trophy series because Midshipmen have beat them in ‘clutch’

Go Mids picks Navy 28-27 over Air Force

MORGAN FOOTBALL:

The Official Site previews Bears’ MEAC opener Saturday at Bethune-Cookman

The Official Site offers complete Bears-Wildcats preview (pdf)

TOWSON LACROSSE:

The Official Site says home games against Navy, Virginia highlight Tigers’ 2010 schedule

The Official Site offers complete 2010 schedule (pdf)

UMBC LACROSSE:

The Official Site announces Don Zimmerman’s incoming class of 19

GOLF:

The Sun’s Kevin Van Valkenburg says Fred Funk wants to win Constellation Energy Senior Players Championship in front of home fans

The Sun’s Kevin Van Valkenburg says Nick Price, Loren Roberts, Larry Mize, Bernhard Langer, Mark O’Meara all have good shots this week

The Sun offers Tournament details for this week at Baltimore Country Club

SOME QUICK THOUGHTS:

-Should Dave Trembley come back? No, he’s not any good. Will he definitely get fired? I won’t say definitely, but my gut is that he does.

Talk to you tomorrow.

-G

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Ravens vs. Patriots – It’s Not Just Another Game …..

Posted on 01 October 2009 by Rex Snider

I think the next four days will serve as that proverbial “snowball rolling downhill” as the excitement builds for Sunday’s showdown, in Foxboro.

It’s being billed with various descriptions in newspapers, website/message boards and blogs …..

“Flacco vs. Brady”

“Harbaugh vs. Belichick”

“The NEW Guard vs. The OLD Guard”

“Big Randy vs. A Bunch Of Smaller Guys …..” (Yep, I actually saw this !!!!)

If you think of a witty moniker for this game, there’s a real good chance someone else has already thought of it, and posted it – ON THESE MESSAGE BOARDS. Indeed, the week leading up to a big game is every bit as contentious as the 60 minutes spent on the field.

But, all the hoopla just fuels the collective fires burning within rabid fans of both teams.

In reality, we know what this is really about …..

It’s just another football game. It’s the Baltimore Ravens vs. New England Patriots – a couple non-divisional opponents meeting for a regular season contest. Both teams have games the following week – and they’re equally as important. Or, are they?

In looking at both teams, if I’m going to consider any comparisons, I’m likely to point out that both organizations obsess on the TEAM concept. This town and anyone who follows the Ravens are familiar with John Harbaugh’s devotion to team unity.

And, Bill Belichick has amassed a collection of Lombardi trophies and gaudy rings by beating opponents with larger collections of “stars” on the game’s biggest stage. We can name dozens of reclamation projects utilized and optimized by Belichick, right?

Well, it’s also legitimate to admit Tom Brady has been the consistent factor on the team, as well.

The Patriots have dominated the last decade on a “next man up” philosophy. Obviously, the Ravens have that same mindset – and we’ve observed textbook examples, with Justin Bannan, Chris Chester and others. In fact, both Tom Brady and Joe Flacco were cast into their current roles through unexpected circumstances and at unplanned times.

And, the world knows neither guy let the opportunity or job title slip away …..

But, Sunday’s game is not about the legend of Tom Brady, or the emergence of Joe Flacco. Although, that’s what the cookie-cutter networks will say in their coverage. Pimping the quarterbacks has always been that “sexy selling point” with national, mainstream analysis.

I’m not suggesting Brady or Flacco will be mere bystanders to Sunday’s eventual outcome. Both guys are leaders and they’ll intimately impact what happens – as every quarterback does. But, will they have any greater effect than other Week #4 matchups, like Roethlisberger vs. Rivers, Sanchez vs. Brees or the most overblown duel, Brett Favre vs. Aaron Rodgers, Green Bay Packers & ENTIRE STATE OF WISCONSIN.

Good grief, I’ll be glad when that game is over. But, you know what I mean – the nationally syndicated media will market the quarterbacks. However, we know it’s much more complex than that.

This Ravens/Patriots game is bound to be determined by more relevant matchups and scenarios …..

• Can the Ravens Defense pressure the Patriots into hurried execution and a repeat of the unpleasant circumstances similar to that day at the Meadowlands, a couple weeks ago?

• Will the Patriots Defense finally do something the Chiefs, Chargers and Browns failed to accomplish – STOP the Ravens passing attack, which really enables the running game? They’ll have the home crowd to their advantage.

• Aside from the presence of Randy Moss, can the Patriots present difficult matchups for the Ravens secondary? Be cautious of the Patriots’ Tight Ends; they’re big and offer another option for Brady.

• Do “Blueprints For Success” exist for both teams? Specifically, did Philip Rivers reveal the Ravens vulnerabilities? And, did Rex Ryan’s Jets-D lay a similar plan for his former pupils?

• Has Prescott Burgess been spending hours under a bright light, in Coach Belichick’s office? Get the Velveeta ready …..

• Perhaps, it will come down to Steve Hauschka vs. Stephen Gostkowski. Just remember, the Ravens’ new kicker hasn’t really stepped into a “do or die” situation, yet. It’s coming …..

Let’s face it, an array of possibilities exist, as Sunday fast approaches. In reality, it’s just 1 of 16 games. But, it holds some significant potential …..

In a similar standard to the San Diego game, this contest could serve as a tie-breaker for postseason homefield, and it could also lead to an extended lead over the Pittsburgh Steelers, who will really face a tough challenge, against the Chargers, in another game without Troy Polamalu.

To be fair, this game has important intangible factors, as well. The Patriots have a collection of Super Bowl Championships, over the past ten years. Beating them has gotta be significant for a team’s confidence. They’re also one of those upper echelon teams and the Ravens need to beat such opponents, if they wanna go to Miami, in February.

In fact, it’s absolutely fitting to suggest the New England Patriots demand that same reverence as the Pittsburgh Steelers, New York Giants and Indianapolis Colts. And, do these 4 teams share a common relation with the Ravens?

You bet.

The Steelers, Colts, Patriots and Giants are jointly responsible for winning the past 6 Super Bowls. In the span of the last 24 months, the Ravens have played this collection of teams 10 times.

The Ravens are 1-9 against them. Did you get that? I said ONE WIN & NINE LOSSES.

This has to change. Forget about beating the bad teams. And, forget about beating the good teams. The Ravens absolutely MUST beat the GREAT TEAMS.

The ESPN Power Rankings, Sporting News Ratings and other in-season accolades are nice. But, there are no real awards for such distinctions. The prize is coveted by every NFL team, and it’s a Super Bowl Championship.

The teams responsible for the last half-dozen trips to Disney World have dominated the Ravens. The tables must turn. Maybe, Ric Flair was right – “to be the man, you gotta beat the man.”

Indeed, this is not just another game …..

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Live from Owings Mills: Ray Played Through Concussion?

Posted on 30 September 2009 by Glenn Clark

4:45-Injury Report:

RAVENS:

DE Trevor Pryce-DID NOT PRACTICE-Illness
QB Troy Smith-DID NOT PRACTICE-Illness
DT Justin Bannan-LIMITED-Knee
LB Tavares Gooden-LIMITED-Shoulder/Head
TE Todd Heap-LIMITED-Back
LB Jarret Johnson-LIMITED-Shoulder
LB Ray Lewis-LIMITED-Head
WR Kelley Washington-LIMITED-Groin

PATRIOTS:

OT Nick Kaczur-DID NOT PARTICIPATE-Ankle
LB Jerod Mayo-DID NOT PARTICIPATE-Knee
DT Vince Wilfork-DID NOT PARTICIPATE-Ankle
CB Darius Butler-LIMITED-Thigh
WR Randy Moss-LIMITED-Back
WR Matt Slater-LIMITED-Elbow
CB Shawn Springs-LIMITED-Knee
WR Wes Welker-LIMITED-Knee
CB Jonathan Wilhite-LIMITED-Groin
DT Mike Wright-LIMITED-Shoulder
QB Tom Brady-FULL-Right Shoulder

2:31-There was apparently a random construction guy with binoculars trying to watch practice through the fence here at 1 Winning Drive. He was a construction worker working on a neighbor’s house. We can not confirm rumors that he was a construction worker hired by the head coach of the New England Patriots…..

2:27-We got a lot of “dry” answers out here today….as if the players on this team had been studying at the John Harbaugh school of talking to the media. The good news is that if the players aren’t being overly interesting, we can assume that business is usual for this team.

Hey, it bothers me as a guy who has to cover the team; but I certainly don’t mind it as a fan of the team.

2:23-The other concussion was Tavares Gooden, who was apparently also hit by Haloti Ngata. Gooden doesn’t believe it will affect his status for Sunday in Foxborough.

Ray Lewis was fully dressed for practice.

2:03-Fabian Washington brings a unique perspective to facing Randy Moss on Sunday, as they were teammates previously in Oakland. “I know a lot about Randy…..I covered him every day in practice. I offered our corners a LOT of information.” When asked about how to counter the jump ball ability of an already 6’4″ wide receiver, Fabian said “you gotta do something”, then suggested corners try to hit Moss’s arms in those situations.

He also added that the difference between the Patriots and the matchup with the Chargers two weeks ago is that “There’s only one Moss” in New England, whereas San Diego had multiple receivers in the range of 6’6″.

1:49-Some notes from Bill Belichick’s conference call this morning with the Baltimore media:

-Prescott Burgess has returned to the Patriots, now on their practice squad. Belichick reminded us that the Patriots did not trade for Burgess only to get secrets about the Ravens.
-Adalius Thomas has been “a very versatile performer” for the Patriots, especially with Jerod Mayo banged up.
-Belichick thinks Ravens “good in every phase of the game.”
-He thinks John Harbaugh “has done a good job.” He said that he has a good relationship with Harbs dating back to John’s time as Special Teams Coordinator with the Eagles.
-He believes the Ravens “have outstanding players across the board” offensively.
-He thinks Joe Flacco “has done a really good job”, reminding that “his record speaks for that.”

1:30-There were mixed reactions when players were asked about the 2007 loss to the Patriots at M&T Bank Stadium (you remember, the one with Rex Ryan’s timeout); they had a mixed reaction.

-Derrick Mason claimed to have drawn a “mind blank”, followed by “next question”, and reminded us that they were “totally different teams.”
-Terrell Suggs: “I just remember the disappointment and the heartache.”
-Todd Heap (who didn’t play in the game): “We had them on the ropes……but that was years ago. We won’t be thinking about that going into this week for sure.”

1:20-It was an “Admiration Society” today as Ravens players were asked about the Pats-

-John Harbaugh: “Fred Taylor is a premiere back in this league. We’ve got to do a great job of keeping him in leverage at all times.”
-Joe Flacco: “They’re a good team…we expect their best.” New England defense “looks pretty good to me.” Tom Brady “has done a great job and won many Super Bowls.”
-Ray Lewis: “Fred (Taylor) has always been one of those backs that you really gotta keep a hold on. If you don’t, he can really hurt you in the run game.”
-Derrick Mason: “Tom (Brady) is one of the best in the game.” Mase also compared them to teams like the Yankees, Red Wings, Celtics, and Lakers.
-Willis McGahee on Vince Wilfork: “He’s a beast. He’s one of those guys you wanna watch out for, he can control the run game if you let him.”
-Domonique Foxworth on Randy Moss: “We’re quite aware of what he’s capable of and what he’s been able to do throughout his career.”

1:15-Hear now from the following in the Audio Vault at WNST.net:

Head Coach John Harbaugh
QB Joe Flacco
RB Willis McGahee
RB Ray Rice
WR Derrick Mason
TE Todd Heap
DT Haloti Ngata
LB Ray Lewis
LB Brendon Ayanbadejo
LB Terrell Suggs
CB Domonique Foxworth
CB Fabian Washington
S Ed Reed

12:50-LB Brendon Ayanbadejo was named AFC Defensive Player of the Week. When asked about winning the award he said:

“For me, it’s a testament to my teammates and my coaches. They do all the hard work, I just go in there and do what I’m told to do and I play football.”

On winning the award from the defensive side of the ball when he is known better as a Special Teams player:

“I’m just proud to be a Raven. Just to be a part of this team and to be able to contribute, I wanted to be more than just a guy who’s out there. There’s guys that contribute and there’s guys who make a difference, and this year my goal was to make a difference.”

12:27-The most interesting note from today’s session with the players was when Ray Lewis was asked if he returned to Sunday’s game against Cleveland one play later “with a concussion”, Lewis responded:

“If it’s gonna exist, it’s gonna exist. You can sit out 5 or 6 plays, or you can come back (after) one. My symptoms, what I was having I was gonna have the rest of the day anyway, so I just dealt with them. I wasn’t comfortable enough sitting on the sidelines 5 or 6 plays, why not go back out there and fight with my team.”

My guess is that Ray had suffered concussion-like symptoms. I cannot FATHOM this organization allowing Ray to play through a true concussion. John Harbaugh declined to comment on the “concussed”, deferring to the injury report that will be out this afternoon following practice.

10:52-Greetings from 1 Winning Drive, where the New England Patriots are the focus for the 3-0 Baltimore Ravens as they get back to work. Bill Belichick is scheduled for a conference call with the local media at 11:15, and we are expected to talk to John Harbaugh at 11:30, followed by a number of players.

The only question for today is which players was John Harbaugh referring to Monday afternoon in his weekly press conference when he addressed “new concussions” for the team? The only injury we knew of from Sunday’s win over the Browns was a shoulder stinger for Ray Lewis. Hopefully we’ll get some more answers today, maybe even BEFORE the injury report is released this afternoon!

-G

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Offensive Line Play Makes Ravens Look Like Real Super Bowl Contenders

Posted on 27 September 2009 by Glenn Clark

It is entirely too early to proclaim that a team has a legitimate chance of winning a Super Bowl. Three weeks into the season, there is way too much that can happen that can change the entire course of a year.

But through three games, my preseason thought that the Ravens were good enough to get in has given way to the idea that the Ravens might just be good enough to win it all.

There’s one big reason for my change in opinion. Actually, there’s five VERY big reasons for my change in opinion.

The Offensive Line of the Baltimore Ravens-through three games-looks like the type of unit that wins Championships.

Joe Flacco has been sacked THREE times this season.
The Ravens have ran for 470 yards on a 4.7 yards per carry clip.
Through three games, the Ravens have a total of 82 first downs.

These are the types of numbers that come with having a good quarterback, solid receivers, and a steady ground game. But they are also the types of numbers that come from a team that is getting such a push upfront that the offensive success feels absolutely commonplace.

In fact, when offensive players are asked about their success at this point, they almost blush, saying things like “we’re just clicking” (Willis McGahee) and “as long as we keep playing like this, we’re gonna be tough to beat this year.” (Joe Flacco)

The offensive line of this team has been so good that it is hard to even notice the unit is on the field. Matt Birk has made exactly one mistake (a fumbled exchange with Flacco against San Diego). Michael Oher and Jared Gaither have each been penalized ONCE. Even the guards (Ben Grubbs, Chris Chester and Marshal Yanda) have created holes so big Jonathan Ogden could run through them.

Facing the Browns, the Offensive Line limited Browns all-word DT Shaun Rogers to 3 tackles and frustrated him into an unnecessary roughness penalty in the 2nd half. They also cleared the way for Willis McGahee and Ray Rice to combine for three TD’s on the ground where they were COMPLETELY untouched. McGahee couldn’t help but laugh at the idea of going into the endzone untouched, saying “it feels good.”

The Ravens haven’t faced the best defenses in the NFL. The Patriots will provide another unique test for this Offensive Line next week in Foxborough. However, if this unit plays this good and stays healthy this season, it seems VERY apparent that they are good enough that a trip to Miami is an honest possibility.

-G

5:27-You can check the final stats from today’s game here. Joe Flacco finished the day with a new career high 342 yards passing. The Ravens extended their streak of not allowing a 100 yard rusher to 38 games.

5:04-You can hear from the following NOW in the Audio Vault at WNST.net:

Coach John Harbaugh
QB Joe Flacco
RB Ray Rice
RB Willis McGahee
WR Derrick Mason
LB Terrell Suggs
LB Brendon Ayanbadejo
DT Haloti Ngata
CB Domonique Foxworth
S Ed Reed

5:00-The only injury note to pass along following the Ravens’ win today is regarding Ray Lewis. John Harbaugh said Ray suffered a “stinger” (as I had guessed) to the shoulder. No real cause for concern.

Ray Rice told me he will have the football framed from his 1st career TD, and he will put it “in (his) bedroom……right next to (him).”

Derrick Mason said his 800th career catch “meant a lot”, but admitted that the Ravens “really don’t make a big deal about” personal milestones.

3:45-I’m not gonna wait. This one’s over. Ravens win 34-3. I’m headed downstairs. Will talk to you shortly. Nice play by Lardarius Webb on the punt.

3:38-Who the hell was Derek Anderson throwing the ball to there?

3:34-Doesn’t usually take until Week 3 for Ed Reed to get into the INT column; but it’s good to see him.

This one will look like a preseason game the rest of the way. Troy Smith under center, Matt “Jack Hunter” Lawrence toting the rock.

3:31-Jameel McClain deserved the chance to dance a little bit after rocking Josh Cribbs. A tip of the hat to Edgar Jones for tackling Cribbs to allow McClain to offer the punishment.

3:28-That one might be a little bit of “running up the score.” Oh well. I’ll be happy for Derrick Mason on his big day. Ravens up 31 with 8:05 to play in this one.

3:26-Do Ravens defensive players know they don’t HAVE to lateral the ball on every play? Congratulations to Dawan Landry for the pick……probably the easiest he’ll ever make.

3:20-Don’t think Joe Flacco should still be in the game, but I’m also not a coach in the NFL. True story.

3:13-Apparently Willis McGahee did NOT want to lock up the #1 Spot on this week’s “Tuesday Top 7.”

3:12-Shaun Rogers is frustrated. If I was Shaun Rogers, I’d probably be frustrated too.

3:07-What type of grade would you give Chris Carr thus far this season? He hasn’t been great, that’s for sure. But has he been bad? I don’t think so.

3:06-Cundiff ends the shutout; and the Browns get on the board. Maybe we could see Troy Smith this quarter?

3:03-Mangini kicking the FG to open the 4th? He should be ashamed. But this should allow the Ravens to consider going to the bench this quarter if Cundiff can snap the shutout.

2:56-Ed Reed tried to time that hit for the right moment, but clearly was way too early. If that was a first quarter hit, I would have said “he sent a message” to the Browns’ wide receivers. But I think they already got the message.

If Eric Mangini kicks a field goal on this drive, he has no balls. There, I said it.

2:52-What a hell of a pass and catch from Derek Anderson to Mike Furrey there. Best thing they’ll do all day.

2:51-Justin Bannan just BLEW UP Lawrence Vickers in the backfield. Should the Browns think about just taking a knee?

2:50-A Santana Moss TD and we’re breathing heavily again. With no offense to everyone who is still interested in what is happening on the field with the Ravens and Browns-I have great interest in seeing Redskins fans suffer.

2:47-Nice call, Drew.

2:45-Ray’s gonna really burn me after this today. Rutgers beat Maryland AND he scored his first TD? Now how do I mess with him???

4 plays, 53 yards, 1:54 on the Ravens’ 5th scoring drive of the day. The hits just keep on coming.

2:43-One man shouldn’t do that to another. Willis is just embarrassing those guys. Come on now….

2:38-Brendon Ayanbadejo with the game of his life. I have not said to Drew “nice call” yet, but I get the feeling it is coming…

2:36-2 TD throws for Kyle Boller today in St. Louis. The Rams still trail the Packers 23-14. I always root for Kyle “Don’t Call It A Comeback” Boller myself.

2:35-Derek Anderson into the game……no word if Brady Quinn went to Eric Mangini at the half and said “no mas.”

2:33-Kelley Washington even catches the passes that don’t count. That’s impressive.

2:31-Forrester thinks we should have left at halftime to go down and see Darius Rucker at Merriweather. I’m not REALL convinced we would have missed anything.

2:11-70,950 here today-I’ve noticed a few empty seats around the stadium and can’t blame anyone who decided they would spend their day somewhere else.

2:10-Willis McGahee also doens’t have much to worry about in the “getting your uniform dirty” department. That is just downright unfair.

8 plays, 80 yards, 2:31 on the 4th scoring drive of the half.

2:08-Lions go up 10-0 in Detroit. I have a bad feeling I will be more interested in this in the 2nd half than I am in the game I am attending.

2:06-Standing ovation at “The Bank” as Mason is recognized during the 2 minute warning. Well deserved for the greatest receiver in franchise history.

2:02-A veteran member of the media just asked me if there’s anything the Ravens haven’t done well today. I didn’t have an answer. I guess they could have scored 3 touchdowns.

Derrick Mason with his 800th catch for his career. They’re REALLY gonna be in a tough spot with him when it comes to the Ring of Honor here.

1:53-What Ray Rice did there is almost unfair to those guys in white and orange. They’re trying, even if you can’t tell.

I think Harbaugh should have gone for it again there. Why not put this one away when you have the chance early? There’s no doubt in my mind the O-Line would have gotten the push to get 2 yards.

Hauschka’s 2nd kick still means this is a 2 possession game-which will keep everyone in the stands a bit longer.

16 plays, 82 yards, 7:34 on the 3rd scoring drive of the day for the Ravens. Sam Koch is hanging out with Demetrius somewhere.

1:50-If anyone sees Demetrius Williams today, please let him know kickoff was at 1. Meanwhile, Kelley Washington continues to look like one of the greatest free agent acquisitions in team history.

1:48-Is Rex Ryan going to go undefeated? The Jets are up 14-0 in the 2nd on the Titans. Glad I picked the Titans to make the playoffs……

1:43-Could Willis McGahee be earning back the “starting” RB job? He’s ran hard as hell every time he’s touched the ball.

Ed-I think coverage in general has been BETTER-but certainly could still improve a bit. That’s a bit of a panic penalty on Walker there, but given the spot on the field; that’s probably one that they won’t lose their mind about.

1:39-Attention Brady Quinn: It isn’t usually protocol to throw the ball away when you’re NOT flushed. He had plenty of time there.

Frank Walker was called for a hold there. Most of the city of Baltimore will want him released.

Lions up 7-0 on the Skins. GOD PLEASE LET THIS HAPPEN.

1:38-Ed Reed had to go low to make that saving tackle on Jerome Harrison there. As I said, the Browns HAVE to try to run the ball. Losing teams throw on every down. It felt like some fans forgot that the Chargers were a losing team last week.

1:35-Can you call a game an absolute blowout if it’s only a 10-0 game through one quarter? This would be that game if you could.

Nice play by Dwan Edwards there, by the way. I don’t get to say that enough. And Edgar Jones made a nice play on coverage as well.

1:28-Watching Kamerion Wimbley sack Joe Flacco (on a play where Flacco had plenty of time), I can’t help but remember the Draft that lead Haloti Ngata to Baltimore. Not that Wimbley hasn’t turned into a nice player for the Browns, but I think the Ravens are pretty happy with Ngata.

12 plays, 68 yards, 6:03 on the scoring drive-capped by Hauschka’s 36 yard field goal. It’s 10-0 here. Rich Dubroff (or Carroll County Times fame) nailed the time of possession on that one. He’s also provided me a few one-liners today. With him on my right and ol’ Forrester on my left; it could be a real zinger-fest.

1:27 Flacco hasn’t had AS MUCH time in the pocket today as he’s had in the first two games, but he’s had MORE than enough. This offensive line makes this team a Super Bowl contender.

1:24-Brandon McDonald should have made that play on the jump ball to Derrick Mason. That is the only area where the Ravens are behind the 8 ball-as they ABSOLUTELY lack tall wide receivers-and no, neither Brandon Marshall nor Anquan Boldin is coming through that door.

Flacco to Kelley Washington on 3rd down-I’ve heard that before. Don’t stop dancing Kelley.

1:21-Drew says Zastudil is Browns’ MVP thus far. He’s probably right about that, too. Le’Ron McClain with some hard running after his catch; and it is nice to see LJ Smith make an appearance. Say what you want about Smith’s health, he IS capable of catching the ball.

1:18-I guess if Joe Thomas does it, it isn’t considered holding. Spencer Folau was freaking out on the play where Ayanbadejo got the sack-SCREAMING for the hold call. Funny stuff.

1:15-Where were fewer people breathing? Last night in Lexington when Tim Tebow got hit, or a minute ago here when Ray Lewis stayed down?

Ray’s fine.

1:11-6 plays, 31 yards, 2:01 on that first TD drive. The Offensive Line might not have broken a sweat, either.

1:09-ABSOLUTELY the right decision by Cam Cameron and John Harbaugh to go for it on 4th and 1 there.

With Willis McGahee getting into the endzone, I remind everyone that Ray Rice is still yet to get one himself. (Love you Ray.)

1:07-Flacco did the right thing in getting to the line of scrimmage quickly after Mark Clayton’s catch. I was afraid the Browns’ PR staff was actually going to throw the red flag from all the way up here.

1:05-No word on whether or not Domonique Foxworth yelled “Still think we can’t play?” towards Mike Preston after making that pick.

1:04-Brady Quinn comes out throwing. He’ll have success (including an early first down), but the Browns will NOT be able to pull off an upset without running the ball. And with no offense to Jerome Harrison and James Davis…….

1:03-Josh Cribbs is particularly dangerous every time he touches the ball. Jerry Rosburg admitted that there is little he can do to slow down the Browns’ speedy returner on kickoffs. Ravens just have to maintain their gaps and can’t allow him to break tackles.

1:00-Browns won the toss, they’ll take the ball. Unfortunately, I’m not sure they can hold for the entire 60 minutes though…

12:55-Starting offense introduced this week after defense was introduced before home opener against Chiefs. Particularly loud ovations for Oher, Ray Rice, Todd Heap, Derrick Mason, and Joe Flacco. It isn’t quite as electric without a Ray Lewis dance, though.

12:52-I can’t tell you how much I appreciate the fact that the Ravens serve Nantucket Nectars Premium Orange in the Press Box before games. They don’t advertise with us, but their product is OUTSTANDING.

12:29-I have two friends from Texas in town this weekend. One of them just texted me to say “I’m pretty sure I’m the only person in downtown Baltimore not wearing purple.”

Awesome.

12:16-Jerome Harrison is starting for the Browns in place of Jamal Lewis. Hank Fraley is starting in place of Floyd Womack, meaning the Browns DID err in listing him as inactive. Rex Hadnot was the player that should have been listed as inactive.

12:14-Ravens inactives:

LB/DE Paul Kruger
DT Kelly Talavou
TE Tony Curtis
OL Tony Moll
OT Oniel Cousins
LB Dannell Ellerbe
RB Jalen Parmele
QB John Beck (3rd QB)

This means LJ Smith WILL dress for the first time as a Raven, and the team will have 3 active Tight Ends. It will be interesting to see if LJ contributes at all on Special Teams.

12:10-I get the feeling the Browns mistakenly listed Hank Fraley as inactive when Rex Hadnot was supposed to be. The word was that Hadnot wasn’t even traveling.

12:01-Did anyone see the shot of Rex Ryan walking into Giants Stadium today? Brian Billick would have lost his mind. Rex looked more homeless than even I usually do! Just noticed Rob Ryan (now the Browns Defensive Coordinator) down on the field here at “The Bank”, and he looks EXACTLY the same as you remember him from Oakland.

11:55-There’s a rumor being passed around that Paul Kruger is inactive again today. As I just told Chris Bonetti and Jason Jubb, I did not expect him to be active this week despite the fact that the Ravens let go of Prescott Burgess Tuesday. A reminder that Tom Zbikowski was NOT active last week and will be today. Jarret Johnson is the only REAL injury question mark; but he’s also one of the toughest guys on the team, so I bet he’s dressed.

11:53-Ravens in purple tops and white pants-they’re expected to wear purple until the final home game of the season. Browns in white tops and brown pants.

11:50-From the Cleveland Browns’ official Twitter page, here are their scratches:

RB Jamal Lewis
K Phil Dawson
OL Hank Fraley
OL Floyd Womack
TE Greg Estandia
WR Brian Robiskie
DB Gerard Lawson
QB Brett Ratliff (3rd QB)

11:15-The Ravens are 13-7 all-time against the Browns; including a sweep of the Brownies last season. They are 7-3 all-time against the Browns here in Baltimore.

10:40-As I noted yesterday, 4 Browns aren’t here in Charm City-as Jamal Lewis, Phil Dawson, Rex Hadnot and Floyd Womack are already OUT according to Mike Florio at ProFootballTalk.com. Billy Cundiff was signed by the Browns to kick. Former Raven Cedric Peerman was waived to make room for Cundiff.

10:30-Greetings from the Press Box here at M&T Bank Stadium in beautiful downtown Baltimore; where the Ravens put their 2-0 record on the line in their first AFC North contest of the year against the 0-2 Cleveland Browns. The Ravens have started a season 3-0 only once in their history-2006, when they went on to finish with the 2nd best record in the AFC.

Today’s game can be seen on CBS, the great Gus Johnson and Steve Tasker are on the call. According to The Weather Channel, it will be 71 degrees and mostly sunny today at 1pm; with just a 10% chance of precipitation.

Drew Forrester will be manning the WNST Twitter account today (@WNST), with Nestor Aparicio, Chris Pika, Luke Jones and myself chiming in. Don’t forget about our “Purple Haze” live chat tonight at 7 on WNST.net, where we’ll break down everything about today’s game and the other NFL action.

-G

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Live From Owings Mills: JJ, LJ, Reed Questionable

Posted on 25 September 2009 by Glenn Clark

4:30-Injury Report-Ravens:

S Ed Reed-DNP-QUESTIONABLE-Neck
LB Jarret Johnson-LIMITED-QUESTIONABLE-Shoulder
TE LJ Smith-FULL-QUESTIONABLE-Hamstring
DT Justin Bannan-FULL-PROBABLE-Knee
OT Jared Gaither-FULL-PROBABLE-Illness
CB Fabian Washington-FULL-PROBABLE-Illness (Concussion)
S Tom Zbikowski-FULL-PROBABLE-Head (Concussion)

Browns:

RB Jamal Lewis-DNP-DOUBTFUL-Hamstring
OL Floyd Womack-DNP-DOUBTFUL-Ankle
OL Rex Hadnot-LIMITED-DOUBTFUL-Knee
K Phil Dawson-LIMITED-QUESTIONABLE-Right Calf
LB David Bowens-FULL-QUESTIONABLE-Knee
DL Shaun Rogers-FULL-QUESTIONABLE-Foot
RB James Davis-FULL-PROBABLE-Shoulder
OL Alex Mack-FULL-PROBABLE-Knee
WR Mohamed Massaquoi-FULL-PROBABLE-Shoulder
RB Cedric Peerman-FULL-PROBABLE-Thigh
DL Ahtyba Rubin-FULL-PROBABLE-Toe
P Dave Zastudil-FULL-PROBABLE-Right Knee

1:49-A couple of notes from personal conversations with players today. I spoke with LJ Smith-who still appeared uncertain of whether he will play on Sunday. I get the feeling this is no longer really about his hamstring, but more about whether or not he would be able to contribute on Special Teams. There is an active spot available right now after Prescott Burgess was traded Tuesday; but Tom Zbikowski was inactive against the Chargers and will almost certainly be back Sunday. Tony Curtis, Paul Kruger, and Dannell Ellerbe might all be options to dress Sunday, depending on how game-ready Ellerbe is, how quickly Tony Curtis has put things together, and how much Paul Kruger has developed on the Special Teams side of the ball. LJ Smith might well be on the field; but my conversation with him lead me to believe it was not certain.

Also, my friend Jon Gallo of CBS Sports passed along a note he got from a personal conversation with kicker Steve Hauschka. Apparently Hauschka, ST Coordinator Jerry Rosburg, Sam Koch, and Matt Katula went to M&T Bank Stadium to work on kicking yesterday instead of staying here at 1 Winning Drive for practice. Rosburg talked before the San Diego game about the significance of Hauschka understanding his home stadium better than any kicker in the NFL; especially after the wind caused the 2nd year player from NC State to push a 41 yard field goal against the Chiefs. Cleveland kicker Phil Dawson would almost certainly be more familiar at M&T Bank Stadium (especially the stanchion), so this was a good chance for Hauschka to improve his familiarity.

1:43-Regarding injuries; John Harbaugh said Jared Gaither missed the last two days because the rest of the team “didn’t wanna get sick.” He didn’t try to break down any more of Gaither’s illness, reminding reporters that he isn’t a doctor-which is true. Harbs wasn’t so convinced about Jarrett Johnson-as despite the fact that JJ got back out on the practice field this morning, the Coach (who celebrated a birthday this week) said “that’s still gonna be an issue.” It appears as though Ed Reed missing practice was nothing more than a precautionary measure given Ed’s lingering shoulder and neck issues.

When asked about the significance of playing their first AFC North opponent Sunday, Harbaugh reminded us that AFC North games have potential “tiebreaker implications”, meaning the games can be more valuable than any other individual games. Harbaugh also said of the Browns “they have every intention of putting it together on Sunday.”

12:31-Overheard today: Jonathan Ogden saying “I bet they probably still owe me some money”, to which a Ravens staffer responded “I think you probably got plenty.” Pretty humorous.

11:47-Ed Reed is not dressed for practice today. He just came out to the practice field in street clothes. With Ed’s chronic shoulder and neck issues, this could be nothing more than a precautionary day off. Hopefully Harbs will give us an explanation.

11:35-A quick update from the practice field. Both Jared Gaither (illness) and Jarret Johnson (shouler) were out on the field this morning. Gaither appeared to be a little bit less than a full go during O-Line workouts, and could be listed as “limited” today as he continues to work back from the flu bug that got him this week. Johnson was seen sprinting off the practice field to head back to the locker room at one point. We’ll find out more details of his recovery shortly.

10:57-We’re back out here at 1 Winning Drive, where the Ravens will hold a walkthrough today as they install the final elements of their gameplan for Sunday’s game against Cleveland. Jarret Johnson (shoulder), Jared Gaither (illness) and Justin Bannan (knee) are the only concerns injury-wise; but all 3 are believed to be fine to go for Sunday. Gaither and Johnson have not practiced for the last 2 days, Bannan has been limited.

We will be headed out to view practice here shortly, and we will hear from John Harbaugh this afternoon-around 1pm or so.

-G

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Thursday Morning’s Crabs and Beer

Posted on 24 September 2009 by Glenn Clark

Just to follow up on something we were talking about this morning….

Ralph Friedgen is not going to be fired. James Franklin will be the next head coach.

They have a contract that stipulates that. The country, the state, and the school are all in a recession. I don’t think Ralph Friedgen SHOULD be fired, but the poin I’m trying to make is that it doesn’t matter. He’s not going to be.
James Franklin will be the next head coach unless James Franklin decides not to be (or something particularly crazy happens).

Let’s see what everyone else has to say….

Best of Wednesday’s WNST Blogs:

Glenn Clark says Mangini has special memories of spending inaugural season (’96) with Ravens

Thyrl Nelson thinks Flacco good play Sunday vs. Browns

Brian Billick enjoyed catching up with Rex Ryan before making appearance at Mother’s in Federal Hill

Ed Frankovic says former Caps goalie Kolzig retired

Ed Frankovic says Capitals beat Blackhawks 6-2 in preseason contest

ORIOLES:

The Official Site’s Spencer Fordin says Guthrie loser again as Birds swept by Blue Jays

The Official Site provides numerical evidence of loss

The Official Site’s Spencer Fordin says after day off today, David Hernandez takes Progressive Field mound against Fausto Carmona, Indians

The Official Site’s Spencer Fordin says Reimold had successful Achilles surgery Wednesday

Blue Jays Official Site’s Jordan Bastian says Scott Richmond went 5 innings to lead Jays past O’s

The Sun’s Dan Connolly says Michael Aubrey, Wieters homered for Birds in loss

The Sun’s Dan Connolly says Trembley believes Reimold should be ready to return for Spring Training

The Sun’s Dan Connolly says Brian Roberts, Melvin Mora had Wednesday off

Examiner Jay Trucker says Andy MacPhail not talking about Dave Trembley decision

The AP says Travis Snider homered for Jays in win

Toronto Star’s Dave Perkins says 13,743 at Rogers Centre saw Jays sweep Birds

Toronto Globe and Mail’s Robert MacLeod says British Columbia native Richmond wasn’t perfect in victory

RAVENS:

The Official Site’s Mike Duffy says LJ Smith (hamstring), Zbikowski (concussion) fully practiced Wednesday

The Official Site’s Mike Duffy says Ray Lewis expects former teammate Jamal Lewis to ‘run hard’ Sunday returning to Baltimore

The Official Site’s Mike Duffy says Derrick Mason not concerned with Ravens’ status in power rankings

The Official Site’s Mike Duffy says Frank Walker thinks Ravens need to forget about Chargers’ passing performance Sunday

The Official Site says Browns coach Mangini thinks DC Rob Ryan ‘similar to’ former Ravens DC Rex Ryan

Cleveland Browns Official Site’s Zac Jackson says Brady Quinn making first AFC North division start at ‘unfriendly’ M&T Bank Stadium

Cleveland Browns Official Site’s Matt Florjancic says FB Lawrence Vickers knows Ravens’ defense must be stopped at ‘point of attack’

Cleveland Browns Official Site’s Matt Florjancic says Jamal Lewis trying to snap Ravens’ 37 game streak of not allowing 100 yard rusher

The Sun’s Jamison Hensley says Jarret Johnson (shoulder), Fabian Washington (illness), Jared Gaither (illness)

The Sun’s Ken Murray says McGahee ‘new man’ in ‘09

The Sun’s Edward Lee says Demetrius Williams wants to ‘make impact’

The Sun’s Edward Lee says Domonique Foxworth has particularly ‘short memory’

The Sun’s Kevin Cowherd says former Raven Brigance to be honored on 40th birthday next week

The Sun’s Jamison Hensley says national media outlets on Ravens ‘bandwagon’

The Sun’s Mike Preston says Oher, Chester playing particularly well together

7 of 7 Sun analysts pick Ravens over Browns

Carroll County Times’ Aaron Wilson says Kelley Washington brings ‘swagger’ to field

Carroll County Times’ Aaron Wilson says Justin Bannan (knee) limited in practice

Cleveland Plain Dealer’s Mary Kay Cabot says James Davis, Jerome Harrison would ‘share the load’ if Jamal Lewis can’t go Sunday in Baltimore

Cleveland Plain Dealer’s Tony Grossi says Brady Quinn thinks Browns can ‘work through’ offensive issues

Akron Beacon Journal’s Stephanie Storm says Tackle John St. Clair knows Browns must go ‘back to drawing board’ to stop pass rush

Canton Repository’s Steve Doerschuk says Mangini continues to let go of Phil Savage’s Draft picks

8 out of 8 USA Today analysts pick Ravens over Browns

SI’s Don Banks has Ravens 1st in power rankings

NFL.com has Ravens 2nd in power rankings

Fox Sports’ Peter Schrager picks Ravens 34-17

Fox Sports’ Alex Marvez says Ravens must beat Steelers to contend

ESPN.com’s James Walker says Kelley Washington’s emergence has hurt Demetrius Williams

TERRAPINS FOOTBALL:

The Sun’s Jeff Barker says Terps last in ACC in run defense, scoring defense

The Sun’s Jeff Barker waiting for Davin Meggett to ‘break out’

The AP says Tom Savage will be Rutgers’ starter at QB if he’s healthy

Carroll County Times’ Matt Zenitz says ACC Championship not out of picture for Terps

Washington Post’s Eric Prisbell says James Franklin believes Adrian Cannon has ‘disappeared’

Washington Times’ Patrick Stevens says Knights trying to avenge 2007 loss to Terps in Piscataway

Washington Times’ Patrick Stevens breaks down all plays that could have changed Middle Tennessee State game

Washington Times’ Patrick Stevens says Rutgers beat writer Keith Sargeant believes Maryland game ‘most important test’ for Scarlet Knights

Washington Times’ Patrick Stevens says 7 Terps originally from New Jersey

Washington Times’ Patrick Stevens says missing Jamari McCullough means Terps missing one of ‘smartest’ players

Washington Times’ Patrick Stevens says Schiano still uncertain of Tom Savage’s status

Newark Star-Ledger’s Brendan Prunty says Ralph believes ‘inexperience’ hurting Terps

The Diamondback’s Adi Joseph says Isaiah Ross amongst freshmen who could see expanded roles

The Diamondback’s Greg Schimmel says Fridge doesn’t regret going a bit softer on Terps over summer

The Diamondback’s Michael Katz says Terps believe MTSU ‘underestimated’

ESPN.com’s Heather Dinich picks Rutgers 20-17

ESPN.com’s Heather Dinich says Cameron Chism worth watching

Terrapin Times’ Mark Clem says Tyler Bowen facing up and down battle with health (must subscribe)

Terrapin Times’ Keith Cavanaugh says Terps seeing ‘glimpses’ from WR Kevin Dorsey (must subscribe)

Terrapin Times’ Mike Ashley says Chris Turner has ‘good memories’ of Scarlet Knights (must subscribe)

Turtle Sports Report’s Mike Rubin says Terps have been much better at Byrd Stadium in recent years

TOWSON FOOTBALL:

Examiner Matthew Schlissel
says Tigers haven’t lost to Bears since 2003-a game also at Hughes Stadium

NAVY FOOTBALL:

Annapolis Capital’s Bill Wagner says Midshipmen getting less production from FB position with Teich

Washington Post’s Camille Powell says Jon Teague will handle kicking against Western Kentucky

Washington Post’s Camille Powell says Teich ‘more comfortable’ at FB position

Washington Post’s Camille Powell says Wyatt Middleton pitching in at OLB

Go Mids’ Chris Rohe breaks down individual matchups with Western Kentucky (must subscribe)

MORGAN FOOTBALL:

The Official Site previews Saturday’s contest against Towson

The Official Site offers complete Bears-Tigers release (pdf)

MCDANIEL FOOTBALL:

Carroll County Times’ Josh Land says Terror could be without WR’s Nick Bender, Matt Cahill

LOYOLA BASKETBALL:

The Official Site announces ’09-’10 schedule, including opener vs. Lonergan, Vermont

BALTIMORE COLTS:

Ravens Official Site’s Sarah Ellison says Levinson to premiere Colts Marching Band documentary at M&T Bank Stadium

ESPN.com’s John Clayton says Peyton Manning not as great as Unitas

HORSE RACING:

The Sun’s Kevin Van Valkenburg says Broadway Producer favorite for Maryland Million Classic

BOXING:

Carroll County Times’ Aaron Wilson says Mark “TNT” Tucker, Strohl to weigh-in tonight at Carroll County Agricultural Center

SOME QUICK THOUGHTS:

-It was fun doing “fake Orioles radio” this morning. If only we could do real Orioles radio. Check out the Audio Vault at WNST.net.

Talk to you tomorrow.

-G

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Live From Owings Mills: Ravens Downplaying National Attention

Posted on 23 September 2009 by Glenn Clark

4:45-Injury report:

RAVENS-
OT Jared Gaither-DID NOT PARTICIPATE-Illness
LB Jarret Johnson-DID NOT PARTICIPATE-Shoulder
CB Fabian Washington-DID NOT PARTICIPATE-Illness
DT Justin Bannan-LIMITED-Knee
TE LJ Smith-FULL-Hamstring
S Tom Zbikowski-FULL-Head (Concussion)

BROWNS-
OL Rex Hadnot-DID NOT PARTICIPATE-Knee
RB Jamal Lewis-DID NOT PARTICIPATE-Hamstring
OL Floyd Womack-DID NOT PARTICIPATE-Ankle
LB David Bowens-LIMITED-Knee
DL Shaun Rogers-LIMITED-Foot
RB James Davis-FULL-Shoulder
OL Alex Mack-FULL-Knee
WR Mohamed Massaquoi-FULL-Shoulder
RB Cedric Peerman-FULL-Thigh
DL Ahtyba Rubin-FULL-Toe
P Dave Zastudil-FULL-Right Knee

2:51-Tuesday is former Ravens LB O.J. Brigance’s 40th birthday. When asked about what O.J. means to this Ravens team, John Harbaugh said “OJ is the core….of the spirit of the football team.”

As I mentioned this morning in Crabs & Beer, please head to bcf.org to purchase tickets for Tuesday night’s “2 Rings for O.J.” event at M&T Bank Stadium. WNST is NOT affiliated with the event, but we are FULLY supportive of O.J.

2:49-OT Jared Gaither and LB Jarret Johnson were also absent from the part of practice open to the media. We will await further word when the injury report is released this afternoon.

2:32-Brady Quinn is meeting with the media right now. Here are some highlights:

-Quinn believes the “biggest” thing the Browns have to do moving forward is “correct (their) mistakes.”
-on how difficult the 2-0 Ravens will be: “this will be an uphill battle.”
-on how he’s played so far this season: “not the way I’ve liked to.”
-on whether a change in systems has affected how he’s played in ’09: “We’re not going to make any excuses” for our struggles
-on Browns: “We have a lot of confidence as a team in our ability. We know when we play well, we’re as good as anyone.”
-Quinn also believes the Ravens will try to force HIM to beat them, but the Browns cannot afford to abandon the run.

2:29-Coach Harbaugh and the guys on the offensive side of the ball all commented on the fact that that they’re sure they’ll see some similarities between Cleveland’s defensive coordinator Rob Ryan’s scheme and that of their own former d-coordinator, Rex Ryan, his twin brother.  Sons of Buddy Ryan, who master-minded the “46″ defense of the Chicago Bears in the mid-1980′s, both Rob and Rex’s defenses heavily showcase the pass rush and multiple disguised formations used to confuse opposing QB’s at the line.  Joe Flacco added, “they’re gonna try to mix things up on 3rd down.”

1:55-Coach Harbaugh also noted he believes that between former Raven Dave Zastudil punting, 11-year veteran Phil Dawson place-kicking, and the electrifying Josh Cribbs returning punts and kicks, the Browns stack up favorably with any team in the league in terms of specialists.  Coming from a former long-time special steams coordinator in the league, that should really say something.  Special teams play helped Kansas City stay close until the 4th quarter against the Ravens in the opener… if Cleveland is to have any chance that late on Sunday, that trio will have likely played a large role.

1:40-In his post-morning practice meeting with the media Coach Harbaugh was somewhat candid when asked about the playing status of L.J. Smith and yesterday’s signing of free agent TE Tony Curtis.  He said it’s “no mystery” that Curtis was brought in for depth and insurance at the position and that it’s still in doubt whether or not Smith’s sore hamstring will be enable him to suit up Sunday against Cleveland.

1:31-I am joining Bob Haynie momentarily. Chris Bonetti (from the “Mobtown Sports Beat”) is here with me, and is going to jump on and throw up a thought or two. Also, head over to the Audio Vault at WNST.net right now to hear from:

Coach John Harbaugh
QB Joe Flacco
RB Ray Rice
WR Derrick Mason
WR Kelley Washington
TE Todd Heap
LB Ray Lewis
LB Jarret Johnson
CB Frank Walker

1:26-Quick notes from the part of practice open to the media:

S Tom Zbikowski (concussion) and TE LJ Smith (hamstring) were both practicing
CB Fabian Washington (concussion) was not seen during the part of practice open to the media
I also noticed Lardarius Webb was taking a few more punt return reps. That could just mean that Chris Carr took more after I left practice. But I thought I would pass it along.

12:57-I think what jumped out most about this morning’s podium and locker room session was the recognition players made about their status as the #1 team in power rankings released by national media outlets like ESPN and SI. What makes it interesting is how it appears as though John Harbaugh is trying to use it as a motivating ploy.

Both Todd Heap and Ray Lewis mentioned that the team had been made aware that they were ranked 20th in the (ESPN) poll at this time a season ago; but the team managed to go 11-5 and reach the AFC Championship Game. This means Harbaugh is both trying to downplay the significance of the ranking for the Ravens and ALSO convince his team that the Browns (power ranked 29th by ESPN) are much better than they are perceived to be.

Heap on how much the ranking means: “not much, especially at this point in the season.”
Heap on the Browns being ranked 29th: “We believe they’re a lot better than that.”
Mason on the ranking: “That’s the NFL, one week you’re winning and everyone loves you; (then) you’re losing and everyone hates you.”

I’m headed out to watch practice right now; I’ll be back with more shortly.

11:12-Brady Quinn is scheduled for a teleconference around 2:30 this afternoon; in the meantime we’re expected to hear from John Harbaugh and several Ravens players (Ray Lewis included). I’ll be back with more when we get out of the locker room.

10:55-Greetings from 1 Winning Drive, where the Ravens begin prep for their game with the Cleveland Browns Sunday. Eric Mangini is meeting with the Baltimore media right now, here are the highlights:

-on the ’96 season he spent with the Ravens: “I have a lot of great memories”; including meeting his wife, drafting Jonathan Ogden and Ray Lewis, and getting stuck in the Memorial Stadium elevator during the game against the Patriots. “Baltimore is a special place.”
-on Browns’ 0-2 start: mistakes are “very correctable” but margin for errors “is very very small” against teams like Baltimore
-on Ray Lewis: “He’s passionate…..has an incredible work ethic…..has great instincts……plays faster than he is… a natural leader from Day 1.”
-on Browns’ fine system: “I have no interest in taking players’ money.”
-on Ravens: “I think (they are) a balanced team… big plays come now from the offense and specials, not just the defense.”
-on Ed Reed: He can “ruin games in a heartbeat.”
-on DC Rob Ryan: He “is a creative guy”, “similar to Rex (Ryan)”, “great with the players.”

-G

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Ravens/Chargers Open Thread/”Live” Blog: Ray Lewis Wills Ravens to Finish Off 31-26 Win

Posted on 20 September 2009 by Glenn Clark

7:31-It wasn’t pretty, but it is a WIN. 2-0. Thank God. Hit the Purple Haze and I’ll have a column up later tonight.

7:30-SOMEONE JUST CLINCHED THE NUMBER 1 SPOT ON THIS WEEK’S TUESDAY TOP 7!!!!!!!!!

7:29-One stop. Then let’s go home. PLEASE.

7:28-The Chargers-to me-are more likely to score from the 25 than the 5. It’s weird.

7:26-I have always enjoyed Brandon Manumaleuna’s name. I do not enjoy him making catches in the final 2 minutes.

I DID enjoy that play by Frank Walker though.

7:24-Well, at least I haven’t lost 50 pounds of sweat or anything.

7:23-JESUS.

7:20-Hauschka with the big boot on the road, now the Ravens defense can’t flinch…..AGAIN. Phillip Rivers just did this 6 days ago…..

7:19-I’m well aware that the Bears beat the Steelers and the Ravens have a chance to move into 1st place in the AFC North. But thank everyone for reminding me. It’s Week 2. I’m more worried about getting a MAJOR win on the road.

Steve Hauschka could get the chance to make a big kick here.

7:18-Is Dick Enberg aware that 2 plus 7 equals 9?

7:17-OH THANK GOD ANTWAN BARNES!!!!!

Now they need to put this in here.

7:16-383 yards passing for Rivers. Wow.

7:15-THANK YOU DOM FOR MAKING A PLAY THERE!

7:13-They CANNOT sit back in prevent defense here. Of course, they’ve basically been doing that all game, so why would anything change now?

7:10-When you’re trying to grind the clock, Le’Ron McClain is usually a better option than Willis McGahee. But as long as McGahee stays inbounds. And it’s nice to see Mark Clayton IS in Southern California. Of course, it was nicer when he was catching the ball than when he was dropping it.

7:04-Thank God Fabian is moving. That didn’t look so good there for a second. If you’re Norv Turner, are you going for it here? I’m at least thinking about it. The Ravens know how to grind a game away on the ground.

7:00-I repeat, it is NOT EASY to go across the country and beat teams on the road. This is more difficult than it could have been though.

6:57-Trying to be a level-headed analyst; if a team throws the ball 100 times, they’re going to have success. They must be punished for the number of passes they throw will devastating hits. The Ravens have NOT punished Phillip Rivers enough today.

6:54-The 4th quarter of a 1 possession game is not necessarily the time for trick plays. By not gaining much of anything, the Chargers were able to send Merriman and get that pick from Cason.

ARGH.

6:51-Michael Oher finally flinches. He had been off to a HELL of a start to his NFL career. That was rough. Dan Fouts says “blame the officials” for Oher’s jump.

DICK ENBERG IS STILL WATCHING ANOTHER GAME.

Let’s not forget that as frustrated as we want to be with the pass defense, the Chargers are a good passing team (very good team overall) playing at home and trying VERY hard.

6:48-At least they can still stop the run…….

6:43-It looked like Mike Tolbert was checking to make sure Chris Carr was still alive after he hit him. Crushing.

6:41-Should I be the one to ask what’s going on with Frank Walker? And spare me the “He can’t play” stuff.

6:39-Holy crap. In triple coverage. The Ravens’ secondary has been a MAJOR issue. Wow.

6:35-Via Twitter, Nestor Aparicio (in San Diego) says Domonique Foxworth “is no McAlister.” Which only reminds me that NO ONE ELSE is either. Chris McAlister was REALLY good. I mean, REALLY good.

6:33-Phillip Rivers looks like the type of quarterback who is easily rattled and clearly flustered when things aren’t going his way. If the Chargers are going to have any chance of climbing back, he will have to get his head back in the game.

6:29-Tough break for Hauschka and the Ravens there. Looked like a really good kick, but it probably would have gone out of bounds had Sproles not caught it.

6:24-Now Forrester is going to be un-addressable. He said Todd Heap would catch a TD today, and look at that. Ravens up 12; which makes my 3 point SD win in OT pick look pretty stupid.

6:22-Phillip Rivers: If you try to throw the ball to the ground ever time, you are going to get picked. Thankfully Dawan Landry was there this time. Nothing funnier than watching a TERRIBLE decision by the man who could never beat Maryland when he was at North Carolina State.

6:19-Chris Chester has played well again this week after playing well last week against KC. Of course, so has Ben Grubbs; but we just expect that.

6:16-You’re supposed to do better than that when you get 2nd chances. Disappointing. Meanwhile, Prescott Burgess made another nice Special Teams play. Those things helped him stay on the 53 man roster, and help him stay off the scratch list every week.

6:13-Sam Koch just got a gift from the officials and Larry English. A gift he will GLADLY take. Chargers D has been tough early on in the 2nd half.

5:57-I’m going to have another Blue Moon and hope the Ravens can figure out a way to stop the big plays. A win in San Diego would be a win no matter how it came; but this hasn’t been a picture of perfection thus far.

5:54-After Haruki Nakamura nearly sacked Phillip Rivers, I understand Norv Turner’s concern; but just forfeiting an offensive play makes little sense to me given the fact that they were having success throwing the ball on the Ravens. This was the end of the first half, not the end of the game.

5:51-Is Dick Enberg watching another game? Dick, I love you; but maybe the time away doing the U.S. Open didn’t exactly keep you sharp for the start of football season.

5:46-To those who are saying that maybe NOW the Ravens were better off with Rex Ryan than Greg Mattison; maybe you’re right. This is certainly a different brand of Ravens football than we’re used to.

I didn’t see Trevor Pryce’s late hit there. Was it bad?

DID DICK ENBERG JUST CALL PHILLIP RIVERS A HALL OF FAME QUARTERBACK?!?!?!?!

5:44-ABSOLUTELY the right decision by Norv Turner to go for it here. Field goal at questionable length; and they wouldn’t leave the Ravens much time to hurt them the other way.

Did John Harbaugh just try to “ice” an offense? Interesting.

5:39-Was that “The Squirrel” from Kelley Washington? I certainly enjoyed it, but didn’t necessarily enjoy the backpedaling. I know he was wide open, but get in the endzone BEFORE the celebration. The celebration was fine though.

Did I mention that Darren Sproles should have a nickname? Jerry Rosburg can’t be happy.

5:38-Why would the Ravens be playing for a Field Goal right now? Why wouldn’t they be playing to get 6? Don’t think I agree, Dick Enberg.

5:32-Nate Kaeding doesn’t miss many long field goals, he certainly won’t miss many chip shots.

Remember how the Ravens were incorporating Mark Clayton and Kelley Washington into the offense last week? That was fun.

5:29-Dick Enberg: Love you, but there’s no reason for you to tell us that Ray Lewis’ middle name is Anthony. It isn’t interesting, and it doesn’t make you a better broadcaster. Some real information would be worthwhile. Thanks.

5:25-Does Darren Sproles have a nickname? He should.

And I don’t think Fabian Washington had any argument there to say that Domonique Foxworth earned an offensive interference.

Antonio Gates with another big play, huh? Well; nothing but good today………

5:23-Joe has overthrown his receivers a bit today. He did that last week too. It’s okay as long as he isn’t getting picked and the Ravens are winning.

5:16-Good job by Terrell Suggs and Jarret Johnson to make sure they didn’t give up on the penetration Ray Lewis got on that play. As I said to Eric Aaronson today on “Section 410″, Phillip Rivers will use “The 5 D’s of Dodgeball: Dodge, Duck, Dip, Dive, and Dodge” to avoid tacklers. The Ravens must make sure they bring him down.

Hell of a punt by Scifres there, too.

5:13-Dangerous but TOTALLY necessary tackle by Brendon Ayanbadejo there on the Sproles return.

Also-Legedu Naanee was probably just as well to run out of bounds there. The Chargers are going to continue to take shots downfield (like the one they just tried to Chris Chambers) until the Ravens toughen up in coverage.

Attention Dawan Landry: PLEASE don’t take out Ed Reed. Thanks.

5:07-I know Kevin Burnett bailed them out there, but that was a DANGEROUS ball for Flacco to throw to Todd Heap there. Wow.

You think every time Ray Rice sees Willis McGahee plunge in for a TD he thinks to himself “That must be fun.”

Also, a note to Steve Hauschka. Extra points don’t help me in Fantasy Football. I appreciate this offense scoring TD’s, but I could use a 54 yarder from you. Thanks.

5:03-Other than the pass in the flats to Derrick Mason, have the Ravens completed a pass to a Wide Receiver? I guess Cam Cameron is thinking “They don’t have any D-Linemen, why WOULD we throw the football?”

5:00-Calm down Chargers fans; Jacques Cesaire is okay!!!!

What a catch by Ray Rice on 3rd down. You just want the ball in his hands.

4:55-I’m confused. Does Chris Carr WANT to be this team’s returner? I mean, if he doesn’t; shouldn’t he just let John Harbaugh and Ozzie Newsome know?

The only good thing about Justin Bannan getting banged up is the fact that the Ravens are very deep on the D-Line. Unlike the Chargers-who now have a group that might as well include Little Ethan playing opposite Oher, Gaither, and company.

4:52-Dawan Landry did a nice job there of trying to strip the ball before Phillip Rivers hit the ground.

Kaeding, Scifres, and Sproles give the Chargers a VERY dangerous Special Teams bunch. Jerry Rosburg has his work cut out for him.

Good to keep the Chargers from getting into the endzone there after getting into the red zone.

4:50-14 straight games with a sack for the Ravens, as pointed out by CBS’ graphics department. With Nick Hardwick and Louis Vasquez out, Haloti Ngata should be able to get up the middle.

4:48-Well. Michael Bennett on the ground; then Malcolm Floyd abusing a 1-on-1 matchup with Malcolm Floyd. As I said, they’ll use the run to set up the downfield pass.

4:45-Not smart from Matt “Jack Hunter” Lawrence. For a guy who’s only on the roster for Special Teams, it probably isn’t good to ever have an official describe something you did as “totally unnecessary.”

4:41-What a statement drive Willis McGahee just capped off. “You don’t have any D-Linemen? Think we’ll just shove the ball down your throat.”

4:36-Darren Sproles and Ray Rice are SO similar. Eerie.

4:33-By the way Forrester, it’s a good thing you bought me a Jay-Z ticket, because the Orioles are DEFINITELY going to be swept again. I’ll save you having to purchase me 5 more Chinese lunches….

4:31-How many 99 yard drives have the Ravens ever given up? I don’t have a media guide in front of me. What a disaster.

4:27-Is there a quarterback in the NFL that throws the ball into the ground more than PhiLLLLip? Of course, when Darren Sproles is hauling in 81 yard TD passes, it doesn’t much matter. Christ.

4:26-You can’t allow Vincent Jackson to get a 1st down there. Phillip Rivers was willing to check down, and the Ravens should have been there to contain it.

4:23-Lardarius Webb apparently wants to make this week’s “Tuesday Top 7.” That’s the type of play you make when you’re trying to help your team win a game. Kelley Washington can dance all he wants, but that was all on the rookie out of Nicholls State.

4:21-Earlier in the preseason, Matt Birk and Joe Flacco had some communication issues on snaps. It had been weeks since I had seen something like that. This could have something to do with the noise. The Ravens were working with speakers pumping in noise this week in Owings Mills.

4:19-Was anyone else confused by the fact that no Chargers defender attempted to down that ball as it was rolling backwards towards midfield? Ummm……..thanks?

4:17-The heat could make guys a bit more “chippy” today. Also, the Chargers know they need to establish Sproles in order to be able to open up the rest of the field. No luck so far.

4:15-Dick Enberg and Dan Fouts on the call today on CBS. I know Dan Fouts is a Hall of Fame Chargers QB, but I expect him to be completely fair today. Seriously.

4:06-Rex Ryan is about to turn into the most impossible person to talk to. His ego will be the size of the Statue of Liberty after this one. You know he expects a parade through Manhattan, right?

3:49-Remember when MLB was considering a move to get rid of the Twins and Expos? I think the Redskins and Rams would be good choices for the NFL to consider doing the same thing with. Jesus. Thanks FOX for considering Baltimore as a secondary market to that football craphole that is the District of Columbia.

3:29-One more note: The 3rd quarterbacks for today’s game (these are also scratches) are John Beck and Charlie Whitehurst.

2:50-Here are your inactives for today’s game:

Ravens-
S Tom Zbikowski (concussion)
LB Dannell Ellerbe
OT Oniel Cousins
OL Tony Moll
TE LJ Smith (hamstring)
DT Brandon McKinney
DE/LB Paul Kruger

Chargers:
FS C.J. Spillman
RB LaDainian Tomlinson (ankle)
C Nick Hardwick (ankle)
OG Louis Vasquez (knee)
WR Buster Davis
LB Atwan Applewhite (Hamstring)
DE Travis Johnson (groin)

Also, DT Jamal Williams (triceps) was placed on IR last night, activating DE Andre Coleman from the practice squad. Ogemdi Nwagbuo is expected to start in Williams’ place.

2:43-Quick Chargers/Ravens history lesson. The Ravens are 3-3 all-time against the Bolts; but just 1-3 at “The Murph.” The Chargers pummeled the Ravens 32-14 in their most recent matchup (11/25/07) just weeks before Brian Billick was fired. The Ravens are 2-0 against the Chargers in Baltimore.

The Ravens come into today’s game off a “closer than it looks” 38-24 win over the Chiefs in Week 1, the Chargers rallied in the final moments to beat the Raiders 24-20 on Monday Night Football to start the season 1-0.

1:48-We’re still 2+ hours from kickoff today at Qualcomm Stadium in San Diego, but I’m going to open this up a little bit early today. We’re going to make some small changes in how we do this moving forward, as this blog will be less of me explaining what just happened (as I know you’re watching the game anyway), and more about offering a place for everyone to provide their own analysis. I’ll still be providing plenty of my own, for the record.

The Ravens and Chargers each come into today’s game 1-0, but the similarities don’t end there. The teams are similar in their young QB’s, their running style, their outside linebackers, and their defensive backs who work better as a unit than individually.

I’ll have plenty more to preview as we go forward towards 4:15 (and I scream at my computer every minute my fantasy football team isn’t getting points from Kurt Warner and Larry Fitzgerald), but please feel free to chime in with your own thoughts, score predictions, etc.

-G

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Live From Owings Mills: Ravens to Head Out Early in Preparation for Chargers

Posted on 14 September 2009 by Glenn Clark

4:42-One more note, as we just received the game notes for Sunday’s contest. Dick Enberg and Dan Fouts (a Hall of Fame Chargers QB) will have the call of the game for CBS. Kevin Kulger and Mark Malone will have the national radio call via Westwood One.

4:23-I think the most significant thing to come from John Harbaugh’s press conference was the news that the Ravens will be traveling to San Diego on Friday; a day earlier than usual.

This will present the always troublesome scenario that the Ravens could be distracted by spending the weekend in the shadow of the Pacific Ocean; so the team will have to be responsible for respecting their players like men while ALSO trying to keep them from getting themselves in trouble. Brian Billick always gave players just enough of a leash to hang themselves with. Chris McAlister was the only one who ever really took advantage of it. This will be John Harbaugh’s first trip to the opposite coast as a Head Coach, so it will be interesting to see how he handles discipline for his guys.

The Ravens will be off tomorrow, but will be back out here at 1 Winning Drive Wednesday. They will use tomorrow to watch film from tonight’s Raiders-Chargers game in order to prepare a gameplan. I will host a Q&A tomorrow for any Ravens related questions you might have after Week 1.

4:21 Earlier today it was announced that Ravens center Matt Birk would donate his brain for scientific research following his death. This will allow his brain to be studied regarding concussions and general brain injuries of football players. Here is the press release:

Matt Birk, Lofa Tatupu, Sean Morey First Active NFL Players to Donate

(BOSTON) – The Center for the Study of Traumatic Encephalopathy (CSTE) at Boston University School of Medicine (BUSM) announced today that three active National Football League Pro Bowl players have pledged to join the CSTE Brain Donation Registry. The players include: Matt Birk, Baltimore Ravens; Lofa Tatupu, Seattle Seahawks; and Sean Morey, Arizona Cardinals. These players have decided to donate their brain and spinal cord tissue to the CSTE upon death so that researchers can better understand the effects of trauma on the brain and spinal cord.

Brain trauma in sports is increasingly seen as a health crisis due to the discovery of a neurodegenerative disease called Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE) in a number of recently deceased athletes. Over the past several years, CTE was found in ten deceased athletes including professional football players, boxers, a professional wrestler, and an 18 year-old high school athlete. Only one athlete tested for CTE during that time did not have the disease.

Robert Cantu, MD, a leading sports concussion expert and clinical professor of neurosurgery at BUSM said, “CTE is the only fully preventable cause of dementia.  By studying large numbers of athletes throughout their lives, as well as examining brain tissue through our expanding CSTE brain bank, we will be able to determine the specific risk factors for CTE and potentially develop effective treatments.  The research will foster education and allow meaningful guidelines to be implemented at all levels of athletic participation.”

The co-directors of the BUSM CSTE include Cantu, Chris Nowinski, Ann McKee, MD, and Robert Stern, PhD. They published research findings on CTE in athletes in the July issue of the Journal of Neuropathology and Experimental Neurology (2009, vol.68¸ pp. 709-735). McKee also recently presented these findings to the NFL Mild Traumatic Brain Injury Committee and NFL Players Association.

Birk, Tatupu, and Morey are the first active NFL players to join more than 150 former athletes, including 40 retired NFL players, in the CSTE Brain Donation Registry. Through enrolling in the C.O.N.T.A.C.T. research program (Consent to Offer Neural Tissue of Athletes with Concussive Trauma), these athletes will be interviewed annually by phone throughout their lives and, upon death, their brain tissue will be examined by the CSTE.  This prospective approach with allow the researchers to examine the relationship between clinical symptoms and pathology for the first time

Arizona Cardinals receiver and special teams player Sean Morey said, “As an active NFL player, I believe it is critical to support all the research being done to better understand the potential long term risks associated with brain injuries in the NFL and football at all levels.  One of the most profound actions I can take personally is to donate my brain to help ensure the safety and welfare of active, retired, and future athletes for decades to come.”

According to Baltimore Ravens star center Matt Birk, “The science is clear that CTE is a threat to the health and well-being of all contact sports athletes. I would like to do my part to raise awareness and help the research advance toward treatment and an eventual cure.” Birk, who is also making a financial contribution to the non-profit Sports Legacy Institute (SLI), went on to say, “I consider my financial donation to be an investment in my future, the future of my friends that have played football with me, and the future of all of those children playing the game today.”

CSTE’s research reveals that the need for concussion education for youth sports is more urgent than ever. In June, Oregon became the first state to mandate concussion education for youth sports coaches, passing “Max’s Law”, a bill requiring coaches to be trained annually to recognize concussion symptoms and provide appropriate medical treatment. On Tuesday, September 15 a similar bill will be heard by the Joint Committee on Public Health in the Massachusetts State Legislature. Senate bill 796, sponsored by Senator Steven Baddour, mandates a sports concussion safety program for coaches, trainers, and volunteers for schools in the Commonwealth.  CSTE’s Cantu and Nowinski will be testifying at Tuesday’s hearing.

Referring to today’s announcement by Birk, Tatupu, and Morey, SLI co-founder and president, Nowinski said, “These active NFL players have admirably ignored concerns held by many athletes that by participating in this research, they could be perceived as having a concussion history that could negatively affect their career and contract negotiations.”

CTE, originally referred to as “dementia pugilistica” because it was believed to only affect boxers, is a progressive neurodegenerative disease caused by repetitive trauma to the brain.  It is characterized by the build-up of a toxic protein called tau in the form of neurofibrillary tangles (NFTs) and neuropil threads (NTs) throughout the brain.  The abnormal protein initially impairs the normal functioning of the brain and eventually kills brain cells.  Early on, CTE sufferers may display clinical symptoms such as memory impairment, emotional instability, erratic behavior, depression and problems with impulse control.  However, CTE eventually progresses to full-blown dementia.  Although similar to Alzheimer’s disease, CTE is an entirely distinct disease.

Matt Birk was voted into six Pro Bowls at center during his 11 seasons with the Minnesota Vikings. A Harvard graduate, Birk signed with the Baltimore Ravens in 2009 and is expected to start at center this season.

Lofa Tatupu was voted into the Pro Bowl in his first three seasons in the NFL, one of only two Seattle Seahawks ever to earn the prestigious honor. The former USC star is entering his fifth season with the Seahawks as one of the top linebackers in football.

Sean Morey was recently voted into his first Pro Bowl in 2008 as a Special Teams Player with the Arizona Cardinals.  The Brown University honors graduate and Superbowl XL Champion is entering his tenth season in the NFL.  He is also a member of the NFL Players Association’s Player Safety and Welfare Committee.

*****
The CSTE was created in 2008 as a collaborative venture between Boston University School of Medicine (BUSM) and Sports Legacy Institute (SLI).  The mission of the CSTE is to conduct state-of-the-art research of Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy, including its neuropathology and pathogenesis, the clinical presentation and course, the genetics and other risk factors for CTE, and ways of preventing and treating this cause of dementia.

Sports Legacy Institute is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit corporation founded in 2007 to solve the sports concussion crisis. SLI is dedicated to education, prevention, treatment, and research on the effects of concussions and other brain injuries in athletes and the military. SLI partnered with Boston University School of Medicine to form the Center for the Study of Traumatic Encephalopathy in 2008.

4:04-Todd Heap is now addressing the media. Here are the highlights.

-”The fans appreciated” big offensive production
-”We’ve got guys who are capable” of putting up big numbers offensively.
-”Any time an offense plays 90 plays…..they’re usually attacking.”
-”All the guys on the offense liked” no-huddle offense.
-”I’ve always had pretty high expectations of myself. When there’s a play to be made, I want to be the guy to make that play.”

3:45-John Harbaugh is meeting with the media right now. Here are the highlights.

-”I don’t know if it’s an advantage or a disadvantage” to get San Diego on a short week.
-Special teams issues “very identifiable, very easily corrected”
-”Across the board, there were so many good things” on offense, defense, and special teams in win over Chiefs.
-Rex Ryan “is doing just fine without us.”
-Michael Oher “played really well, but there’s a lot of things he can do better.”
-Zbikowski “should be fine, just a matter of his head clearing up.”
-Gooden “just a mild sprain”, having an MRI
-”Hopeful” about LJ Smith playing against Chargers
-”I’m really excited about the opportunity we had” to rally in the 4th quarter against Kansas City
-Ravens will travel to San Diego Friday to try to get accustomed to time change; will practice Saturday at San Diego State
-Justin Bannan said “you have to play every game like it’s a play to win the game.”
-Chargers “one of the premiere teams in the NFL.”
-”We like to play with a certain edge…..that’s how our guys play.” “you start calling our guys names, we’re not too impressed by that. They can keep saying these things all they want.” (All regarding comments from ESPN’s Cris Carter & Keyshawn Johnson that fired up Derrick Mason and company before Sunday’s game.)

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