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Ranking The Ravens: A Postseason Breakdown of 53(+) Man Roster

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Ranking The Ravens: A Postseason Breakdown of 53(+) Man Roster

Posted on 21 January 2011 by Glenn Clark

In their new song, “Waiting For The End”, the band Linkin Park offered a lyric that should be considered particularly fitting for Baltimore Ravens fans.

The hardest part of ending is starting again…

With their 31-24 defeat at the hands of the Pittsburgh Steelers at Heinz Field in the AFC Divisional Round, the 2010-2011 NFL season has ended for the Ravens.

It didn’t take long for the team’s offseason to begin. Even with owners and players apparently headed towards a lockout, GM Ozzie Newsome, Director of Player Personnel Eric DeCosta, Senior Personnel Assistant George Kokinis and Director of College Scouting Joe Hortiz lead a front office hard at work in shaping what the 2011 Baltimore Ravens will look like…as long as there is a 2011 NFL season.

Members of the front office are already preparing for the NFL Draft, as they are scouting college seniors this week in Orlando at the East West Shrine Game. Next week they will be doing the same thing at the Senior Bowl in Mobile, AL.

As we enter the offseason, I’ll offer a variation of my preseason power rankings (you’ll remember my “Mocking the 53″ blogs) to review the team’s roster. This is a complicated review, as I factor in who had the best season, who has proved to a better player overall, the value of the position and contract status.

Players labeled as “UFA” are unrestricted free agents. Players labeled as “RFA” are restricted free agents. Players labeled as “ERFA” are exclusive rights free agents. Players labeled as “reserve/future” have reserve/future contracts.

Unique labeling on my part. I’m aware.

1. LB Terrell Suggs
2. DT Haloti Ngata (UFA)
3. RB Ray Rice
4. LB Ray Lewis
5. G Ben Grubbs

grubbs

While I said Tuesday Ngata was the team’s best player in 2010 (he also received my vote for/won the team’s Most Valuable Player award), his contract status leaves him second on the list.

Suggs was outstanding in 2010, proving his 2009 season was indeed a fluke after signing a big contract the proceeding offseason.

It is going to cost owner Steve Bisciotti a LOT of money to retain Ngata this offseason, but the Ravens are basically going to have to pay the price. Losing Ngata could absolutely WRECK the franchise’s plans defensively, as Ngata anchors what they do up front. It could only spell the end of Lewis’ career. If Ngata were to depart, Lewis could no longer be viewed as a Top 5 player on the roster for sure.

Rice’s fantasy football numbers were down in 2010, but his offensive impact certainly wasn’t. He remained the Ravens’ most dynamic playmaker and is expected to an offensive force for years to come.

It was interesting (for me) as I graded out players that I felt Grubbs was worthy of being a Top 5 player. Grubbs proved himself to be the team’s best and most reliable Offensive Lineman, and gives the team at least one more position they don’t have to worry about…for now.

6. WR Anquan Boldin
7. QB Joe Flacco
8. OT Michael Oher
9. K Billy Cundiff (UFA)
10. P Sam Koch (UFA)

koch

Everything at the receiver position has to be viewed as wide open right now…except for Boldin. He has to be viewed as the team’s top possession receiver no matter what Derrick Mason decides to do.

While Flacco is still a cornerstone for the franchise (and the suggestion made that the team should have him “compete” with Marc Bulger for the starting job is laughable), his move outside the Top 5 is a statement. He made SOME of the progress the team wanted him to make-but not all of it. There will be increasing pressure for that to happen next year.

Oher represents a tricky situation for the Ravens. While he struggled in 2010, he’s certainly not a BAD player. The team will have to figure out whether or not he has a long term future at LT. If he does (and he plays to that level), he’ll be a Top 5 player on this team for a long time.

Koch and Cundiff represent a unique problem for the team. During the 15 years of the team’s history, they’ve never been the type of organization that would spend a lot of money on a specialist. They’re going to have to pay two guys this offseason as top-tier specialists. These players were a SIGNIFICANT reason the team managed to win 12 regular season games and a playoff game this year.

11. TE Todd Heap
12. WR Derrick Mason
13. S Ed Reed
14. CB Domonique Foxworth
15. FB Le’Ron McClain (UFA)

mcclain

Heap, Mason and Reed are unique. If this list was based on ability and performance alone; there would be an argument they should all be in the Top 10. Their age leaves them on the outside looking in, as even if they return as expected the team will have to make decisions at their positions.

It might seem surprising that Foxworth is the highest ranked of the cornerbacks, but he was the team’s top guy before getting hurt and is the only guy (besides Lardarius Webb) in the group who actually has a contract.

The Ravens are in a VERY unique situation with McClain. He had a tremendous season at fullback; but doesn’t want to return as true fullback. To return, the two time Pro Bowler would have to be assured of more involvement in Cam Cameron’s offense. I’m not sure how likely that is.

16. CB Chris Carr (UFA)
17. LB Jarret Johnson
18. CB Lardarius Webb
19. CB Josh Wilson (UFA)
20. DE Cory Redding

redding

Carr had a great season and offered some legitimate stability to the team’s defensive backfield. That being said, there will be a question as to whether or not bringing him back will work monetarily. If he gets paid as a #1 corner, the Ravens might be in trouble. Wilson is in the same boat. The uncertainty surrounding those two corners helps Webb find himself ranked higher on the list.

My guess is that one of Carr and Wilson will be back, but not both.

Johnson and Redding are both solid contributors to the defense, and the Ravens can pencil them in for next season. They’ll need a healthier (or just somehow more effective) Johnson, and they’ll need to compliment Redding with a legitimate rush end.

21. S Dawan Landry (UFA)
22. WR TJ Houshmandzadeh (UFA)
23. TE Ed Dickson
24. DT Brandon McKinney
25. DT Kelly Gregg

kgregg

Like other players, the Ravens find themselves in a tricky spot when it comes to Landry. As a starter and solid contributor to one of the league’s better defenses over the last few years, Landry could find himself in position to make a lot of money on the free agent market. The Ravens may or may not be in a place to match that. He’s been good; but with restricted free agents Tom Zbikowski and Haruki Nakamura likely to return, it seems unlikely they would retain Landry at a high cost.

Houshmandzadeh almost seems to be in a “if Mason doesn’t come back” position. The Ravens can’t just retain all of their top three receivers and make progress offensively. If Mason retires, there would be a much greater likelihood of Houshmandzadeh returning.

Dickson showed signs of being a potential breakout performer in 2010, but never actually broke out. The team will look to expand his role as he continues to get more comfortable in the offense. He also represents the team’s best chance of limiting an aging Heap’s snaps in 2011.

It might look surprising at first to see McKinney listed ahead of a player like Gregg, but I think it represents an area where the Ravens can move forward. McKinney came on strong down the stretch, looking like a reliable cog on the defensive line. While Gregg made a fantastic play on Kansas City Chiefs RB Jamaal Charles in the AFC Wild Card playoff game at Arrowhead Stadium, he showed signs of aging as the season wore on, and it would be difficult to assume he could continue playing the majority of downs in the future.

26. OT Jared Gaither (UFA)
27. OL Marshal Yanda (UFA)
28. DT Terrence Cody
29. C Matt Birk
30. S Haruki Nakamura (RFA)

nakamura

My only gut instinct with Gaither is that the team won’t give him the type of premium price tag a top tier OT would probably expect. There’s an argument as to whether or not ANYONE should pay Gaither that price, but my guess is that someone will. The Ravens don’t want to see Yanda depart, but there’s a chance another NFL team will choose to offer him legitimate tackle money because he played the position in 2010.

The Ravens likely can’t be in position to overpay a player like Yanda, but they certainly to solidify their O-Line. Birk could still decide to retire; but even if he doesn’t the team has to make future plans for the position.

Cody showed SOME signs of being a future contributor during the 2010 season, but probably not enough that the Ravens can feel comfortable with expecting him to play every down in 2011. Nakamura could be very important, as he would be the most likely to step into the role should Landry depart in free agency.

31. RB Willis McGahee
32. DE Paul Kruger
33. LB Jameel McClain (RFA)
34. LB Tavares Gooden (RFA)
35. LB Dannell Ellerbe (ERFA)

ellerbe

I’m going to guess that McGahee won’t be getting the $19.7 million owed to him over the last three years of his contract. The most likely scenario probably involves McGahee not returning to Charm City next season. But if he’s willing to take a pay cut, there’s still a chance he could be a solid compliment to Rice behind an improved O-Line.

Paul Kruger started to show some signs at the end of the season that he might be able to contribute in the future. Unfortunately, that’s probably not the level of progression the team had in mind for the 2009 2nd round pick. 2011 could be a “make or break” type of year for Kruger.

And then there’s McClain/Gooden/Ellerbe. Does anyone else want to try to figure this out? The team clearly hoped one player in this group would separate themselves out at McDaniel College in Westminster during Training Camp in 2010, but that clearly didn’t happen. They also hoped one would separate themselves during the 2010 season. That didn’t happen either.

Of the group, McClain has probably shown himself to be the most steady, but is equally vulnerable against the pass. Gooden is probably the best against the pass, but there’s a joke in there about being the prettiest girl at fat camp. Ellerbe showed some capability of making plays in the backfield, but looks lost against the pass.

It looks like all three will end up returning in 2011. It also looks like the Ravens will be in a very familiar position when (if?) the season begins.

36. WR/KR David Reed
37. CB Fabian Washington (UFA)
38. S Tom Zbikowski (RFA)
39. LS Morgan Cox
40. OL Chris Chester (UFA)

chester

Whether or not David Reed can someday contribute at receiver is still to be determined. But he clearly came on as a kick returner until a concussion and a wrist injury cut his season short. He’ll have to stay out of trouble off the field, but it looks like the Ravens have a solid piece of the puzzle in Reed.

Washington made it clear earlier this week he wouldn’t return to the team unless his role was expanded. There’s a chance his role could be expanded if Carr and Wilson depart. Otherwise, it doesn’t look good. Zbikowski will almost certainly be back, the organization will now have to determine whether or not he is capable of replacing Ed Reed on a full-time basis whenever the future Hall of Famer walks away from the game.

Cox did a nice job of solidifying the long snapper position after beating veteran Matt Katula out during the preseason. The only concern surrounding Cox is how quickly he’ll be able to return from the torn ACL he suffered against the Cleveland Browns, but it appears as though he’ll be ready to go.

Chester will be another tough decision for the Ravens. If another team is willing to pay him to be an every down linemen, the organization will have to think hard before matching. Chester has shown himself as being reliable, but I think he’s only a starter in Baltimore if Yanda were to depart…or the Ravens were forced to keep Yanda at Tackle.

41. CB Cary Williams (ERFA)
42. OL Tony Moll (UFA)
43. LB Jason Phillips
44. QB Marc Bulger (UFA)
45. WR Donte’ Stallworth (UFA)

stallworth

Williams could be in a good spot this offseason. As an exclusive rights free agent, he could be in a good position to come back and get more playing time should some of the corners ahead of him sign elsewhere. He’s 6’1″, and the team liked him at least enough to hold on to him through a suspension to start the 2010 season.

Moll looks like a solid option to return and give the O-Line important depth. He’s capable of playing multiple positions to at least a solid level. He’s not good enough to be an every down player and it’s unlikely that another team will choose to pay him that way.

Phillips showed signs in 2010, probably enough that he will enter the 2011 season on the “good” side of the roster bubble. He certainly can’t be considered a lock at this point however.

Bulger will likely only return to the team if he isn’t offered a starting job elsewhere. With Jim Harbaugh now in charge of the San Francisco 49ers, it wouldn’t be stunning to see him consider Bulger. If the options are for backup jobs-or even jobs where Bulger would have to “compete” for a starting gig, it wouldn’t surprise me at all to see him return to Baltimore.

Some of the fan frustration surrounding Cam Cameron certainly centers around Stallworth, who seems unlikely to return. The Ravens need a speed receiver option, but it has to be a player they’ll trust to send out and stretch the field.

46. TE Dennis Pitta
47. LB Brendon Ayanbadejo
48. DT Arthur Jones
49. WR Marcus Smith (UFA)
50. DT Lamar Divens (RFA)

divens

The lack of involvement from Pitta in 2010 was disappointing, but he was often a victim of only being able to dress 53 players. His role should expand in 2011.

Ayanbadejo and Smith are interesting cases. Both are special teams players only for the most part, and the team will have to determine how much value they have. Smith is unlikely to generate much interest elsewhere, Ayanbadejo isn’t getting any younger. Both could return, but I don’t think they’re guarantees.

Jones and Divens are both solid players who have the “look” of Ravens defensive linemen. The only issue for new Defensive Coordinator Chuck Pagano is that he’s inheriting a bunch of these type of players. They’re big, they move fairly well and they can control gaps. Jones will clearly be back in 2011, Divens is the question mark.

51. LB Prescott Burgess (UFA)
52. RB Jalen Parmele (RFA)
53. OT Oniel Cousins (RFA)
54. WR James Hardy (reserve/future)

55. TE Davon Drew (ERFA)

ddrew

Burgess was a solid Special Teams contributor who was also able to get a handful of positive snaps defensively. There’s a chance he could generate interest elsewhere, we remember the New England Patriots grabbed him when he was available in 2009.

Parmele could stand to benefit from a McGahee departure, but probably wouldn’t be a great option as the top compliment to Rice.

Cousins gives the team a cheap reserve tackle. I can’t fathom anyone will be hot after him, so he seems like a player that will at least make it to Westminster with a chance to retain his job.

Hardy is interesting. He climbed the list after comments by Newsome in the team’s Season Review press conference. There was a reason Hardy was once a second round pick by the Buffalo Bills. There’s also a reason why he was unemployed a season ago. Either way, he’s 6’5″. The Ravens don’t have any other receivers of that size right now.

Davon Drew is the fourth of four TE’s on the roster. That would be a problem in a lot of places, but when the General Manager is a former Tight End, it bodes well for the chances of sticking around.

56. LB Sergio Kindle (ERFA)
57. DT Kelly Talavou (ERFA)
58. RB Matt Lawrence (RFA)
59. QB Hunter Cantwell (reserve/future)
60. WR Justin Harper (reserve/future)

harper

Kindle is such a question mark (as he continues to recover from a fractured skull) that it really doesn’t matter how much talent he might have. Until there’s reason to believe he’ll be able to return next season, he can’t be an assumed part of the 53 man roster.

If Talavou is able to come back healthy, he’s highly thought of by the organization. He could be the insurance that allows the team to let someone like Divens go elsewhere.

Lawrence is a good Special Teams player if he’s healthy. It will be an uphill battle for him to make the roster in Training Camp, especially after missing the entire 2010 season.

Cantwell is the team’s 3rd quarterback, but has only a cup of coffee worth of experience on an active roster with the Carolina Panthers in 2009. If the Ravens decided to go with three QB’s again, he’d have a decent chance to make the roster.

Harper is tall. Harper has only ever been on the active roster briefly. The team’s website apparently doesn’t know Harper wears number 82. That’s where we’re at with Harper.

61. OL Ramon Harewood
62.
OL Bryan Mattison (contract status unknown)
63. OL Daniel Sanders (contract status unknown)
64. RB Curtis Steele (reserve/future)
65. DE Albert McClellan (reserve/future)
66. CB Danny Gorrer (reserve/future)
67. OT Brady Bond (reserve/future)
68. OT Andre Ramsey (reserve/future)
69. LS Kevin Houser (UFA)

I’d provide a picture of Kevin Houser here, but even the team’s official site doesn’t have one.

If they all return (and are healthy); Harewood, Mattison and Sanders will compete to try to provide depth along the O-Line. Harewood could give the team an insurance policy if they choose to cut ties with Cousins, Sanders could prove to be the team’s center of the future when Birk hangs up the cleats. A local writer joked with me that Mattison had been “on scholarship” in recent seasons-that would probably come to an end now as his father (former Defensive Coordinator Greg Mattison) has departed for Michigan.

Steele has the look of a potential weapon at the next level. If he can work his way into the return game, he’d have a much better shot of making the roster.

McClellan is employed by the Ravens, as is Gorrer. I’m going to guess most of you didn’t know that. Neither has a realistic path to the active roster.

Bond and Ramsey are big. My guess is that both of them will find their way onto an active roster in the National Football League someday. It probably won’t be in Baltimore however.

It might not be fair for me to rank Houser last on this list. He’s a NFL player, which is more than anyone else in this final group can really say. But his ONLY chance of returning to the team is if Cox can’t return from his torn ACL. There’s a chance he might not be ready for the start of Training Camp, but it’s unlikely it will be a factor moving towards the 2011 regular season.

(Thanks to BaltimoreRavens.com for the pictures!)

-G

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Live From Owings Mills: Gooden, Burgess Miss Practice Again

Posted on 30 December 2010 by Glenn Clark

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

-G

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Live From Owings Mills: LS Cox Out For Season With Torn ACL

Posted on 27 December 2010 by Glenn Clark

OWINGS MILLS, Md. — The Baltimore Ravens (11-4) returned to 1 Winning Drive Monday, less than 24 hours removed from a 20-10 win over the Cleveland Browns (5-10) at Cleveland Browns Stadium. The Ravens began the process of looking ahead to their regular season finale against the Cincinnati Bengals (4-11) Sunday at M&T Bank Stadium.

During his weekly press conference, Head Coach John Harbaugh confirmed LS Morgan Cox suffered a torn ACL in the team’s win over the Browns and will miss the rest of the season.

Harbaugh confirmed Cox also suffered a third degree MCL sprain in the victory.

The team plans to hold long snapper tryouts Tuesday at the facility.

“We’ll bring in a good long snapper and short snapper” said Harbaugh. “Somebody that has been a pro, who has done it before; and we’ll be okay.”

Harbaugh praised Cox for being able to play through the injury in Sunday’s win over the team’s AFC North rival.

“It would have been tough to win the game without him” said the coach. “For him to gut it out the way he did was one of the keys to the victory.”

Former Ravens LS Matt Katula signed with the New England Patriots earlier this season. Nick Sundberg-who had joined the team’s practice squad late in the 2009 season-is now with the Washington Redskins.

INJURY REPORT: Harbaugh said the team “played it safe” by not activating TE Todd Heap (hamstring) for the Week 16 victory. Harbaugh said Heap “probably could have played”, but the team didn’t want to risk anything. “I’d say he’s got a great chance for this week” said the coach. Heap has not played since being forced to leave the team’s Week 13 loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers in the first quarter.

TE Dennis Pitta (concussion) is day-to-day after being forced to leave the Cleveland game early, WR David Reed (concussion) remains day-to-day after missing the Week 16 win.

Harbaugh said LB Tavares Gooden is “pretty sore” after suffering a dislocated shoulder in the win over the Browns. Harbaugh didn’t seem to think Gooden would be at risk of missing the team’s Week 17 finale, noting “I think he’s going to be okay.”

Harbaugh S Tom Zbikowski (back) would be unlikely to return for the Cincinnati game. “I’m not real optimistic for this week” said the coach.

Harbaugh did confirm that the team will not move Zbikowski to Injured Reserve (IR) despite having not played since leaving the team’s Week 14 win over the Houston Texans early.

“We’re not going to do anything as far as IR. We think he’s got a good chance to get back for the playoffs. He was running around today a little bit. We’ll keep our fingers crossed, but I’m hopeful for the first round of the playoffs.”

HARBAUGH RESPONDS TO KINDLE ARREST: Harbaugh commented Monday for the first time about the Sunday DUI arrest of LB Sergio Kindle, the team’s first selection (2nd round) in the 2010 NFL Draft.

“We’re disappointed” said Harbaugh. “It’s not something we wanted for Sergio, it’s not something we wanted.”

Harbaugh said he met with Kindle Monday morning, where the would-be rookie out of Texas expressed remorse for making a “big mistake.” Harbaugh added “he’s better than that, he knows that.”

The coach described Kindle as now having “a track record for making really poor decisions.” Harbaugh stated emphatically “that’s a problem.”

The coach said the team will now defer to the legal process with Kindle.

Kindle has spent the entire season on the Reserve/Non-Football Injury list after suffering a fractured skull in an accident at a friend’s house in Austin just before the start of Training Camp.

NOTES: Hear from Harbaugh NOW in the BuyAToyota.com Audio Vault here at WNST.net……CB Chris Carr joined Drew Forrester Monday on “The Morning Reaction” on AM1570 WNST, that chat is available in the Audio Vault as well……Kevin Harlan and Solomon Wilcots will call the Ravens’ regular season finale for CBS……The Ravens will be off Tuesday (mandatory NFL off day) before returning to practice Wednesday

-G

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Ranking The 53: A Bye Week Look at Ravens Roster

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Ranking The 53: A Bye Week Look at Ravens Roster

Posted on 27 October 2010 by Glenn Clark

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

ravensbroncos

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

tonymoll

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

mcgahee

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

suggs

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

-G

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Friday Morning’s Crabs and Beer

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Friday Morning’s Crabs and Beer

Posted on 27 August 2010 by Glenn Clark

Happy Friday!

It’s a Happy Friday for me because tonight is my annual Fantasy Football Draft; or as I like to call it-”August Christmas.” Thanks to my buddy Chris Appel for arranging the event at Mountain Branch for our “Full House League”, where I’m assuming these things will be on the menu…

wingsandbeer

I have the 6th pick in this year’s draft. I’m mortified. Clearly Chris Johnson and Maurice Jones-Drew will be gone; with Ray Rice and Adrian Peterson likely behind them. That will likely put me in an uncomfortable spot where the best options are Frank Gore, Drew Brees, Aaron Rodgers and Michael Turner.

I have no idea what I’d do in that situation.

I guess Team “Jesse and the Rippers” probably end up having to take this guy…

BOLLER

And as a quick personal note; my condolences go out to Chris Appel (and former WNST.net blogger BJ Appel-the Commish in our league); whose grandfather “Big” Will Appel passed away last night. Big Will was an amazing dude who will be missed. Thoughts and prayers all around, it certainly weighs heavy on an otherwise glorious day.

Let’s see what everyone has to say…

1. WNST.net’s Glenn Clark says Terrence Cody (knee), Demetrius Williams (ankle) missed practice again Thursday ahead of Ravens-Giants game

Neither are major concerns, and neither have ruled themselves out for tomorrow night-although it would surprise me if either were on the field after missing practice for all (Williams) or the majority (Cody) of the week.

The Ravens will almost certainly be without O-Linemen Jared Gaither (back), Oniel Cousins (concussion), David Hale (tailbone) and Daniel Sanders (shoulder) tomorrow night; as well as CB Marcus Paschal (leg).

WR Eron Riley (back) and DT Brandon McKinney (knee) are question marks having missed a few practices this week; and I would be surprised if CB Lardarius Webb played on the turf at “The Bank” after returning from the PUP list just this Monday.

It sorta feels weird to talk about injuries before a game and not mention LJ Smith. I hope he’s doing well…

2. BaltimoreRavens.com’s Ryan Mink says ‘ball security’ very important for Cam Cameron, Ravens against New York

And after 8 fumbles in the first two preseason games against the Carolina Panthers and Washington Redskins, it seems like a pretty logical thing to work on.

You know what else seems pretty logical? Posting this picture of Ninel Conde from Don Chavez….

conde

3. National Football Post’s Aaron Wilson says Ravens GM Ozzie Newsome to be inducted in Cleveland Browns Ring of Honor

I’m not sure if the Browns are planning on inviting guys to town to be honored the weekend of the induction, and it likely wouldn’t matter; as the Ravens visit the Cincinnati Bengals that day and I’m sure Ozzie will be in The Queen City, not The Comeback City.

But hypothetically, imagine the Browns holding an event on a day where Newsome had been able to attend. I am certain there would be at least a level of awkwardness at Cleveland Browns Stadium. I don’t think the majority of fans would be foolish enough to-say-boo the man whose Cleveland career made him a Hall of Fame TE. But I do think there would be a handful of fans (especially younger fans who might not remember Newsome on the field) who would be uncomfortable with honoring the GM of the team that abandoned Cleveland and now regular comes back to kick the Browns in the ass.

And there’s also the whole “he works for Art Modell” thing.

They’re doing the right thing. And it is probably best that it will happen on a day where they can avoid any level of awkwardness.

4. New York Daily News’ Ebenezer Samuel says G-Men center Shaun O’Hara to miss tomorrow night’s game

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

-The Ravens are holding a walkthrough today that is CLOSED to the media out at 1 Winning Drive in Owings Mills. They’ll kickoff against the Giants at 7:30 tomorrow night at M&T Bank Stadium. The game can be seen live on WBAL11.

-Did you miss Ravens LB Jason Phillips with Drew Forrester today on “The Morning Reaction” on AM1570 WNST? Jason discussed his road to making the 53 man roster after missing last season. You can hear it in the BuyAToyota.com Audio Vault right here at WNST.net. Some other things you can hear in the Audio Vault include…

  • Howard Cross (New York Giants sideline reporter/former TE)-who previewed tomorrow night’s preseason showdown with the Ravens
  • Domonique Foxworth (Ravens CB)-who joined Drew to talk about his recovery and preview the Maryland-Navy get together at M&T Bank Stadium on Labor Day
  • TJ Rives (Tampa Bay Buccaneers sideline reporter)-who previewed the Bucs with Drew as we continued to look at all of the Ravens’ 2010 opponents
  • Roger Lodge (Host of “The Sports Lodge” on AM830 in Los Angeles and the former host of “Blind Date”)-who joined Drew to preview the Angels
  • All sorts of audio from Owings Mills Thursday-including Cam Cameron, Greg Mattison, Jerry Rosburg and Ray Rice
  • Steve Hauschka (former Ravens, now Detroit Lions kicker)-who joined Thyrl Nelson Thursday on “The Mobtown Sports Beat”
  • Joe Maese (former Ravens Long Snapper)-who joined Rex Snider Thursday on “The Afternoon Drive” to talk about Matt Katula/Morgan Cox as well as his new career as a Howard County firefighter
  • Len Pasquarelli (CBSSports.com)-who checked in live from the NFL Owners Meetings in Atlanta with Rex Thursday

Plus much much more. It’s all in the Audio Vault, so once again I’ve planned your day completely. I’m getting sick of carrying you like this.

5. The AP’s Jay Cohen says Edwin Jackson masterful as Orioles lost to Chicago White Sox at US Cellular Field

Not a whole heck of a lot more that can be said about this.

Jackson was TREMENDOUS last night. The type of tremendous that sorta makes you wonder how he can ever be bad.

I almost said “I’m glad Edwin Jackson doesn’t pitch for my team, because it would be frustrating to watch him.” But I don’t mean that. I’d take Edwin Jackson my team 10 times out of 10. He’s better than anyone we have.

Nights like these happen sometimes. They’re frustrating, but they happen. Hopefully there will be fewer and fewer of them in 2011.

Hopefully.

6. The AP/WNST.net provide numerical evidence of loss

Jackson’s line: 8 shutout innings, 3 hits, 10 strikeouts

Jake Arrieta’s line: 4 IP, 4 ER, 7 hits, 3BB, 2K

You REALLY don’t want to look at these numbers.

Instead, look at Olivia Wilde. She’s much more pleasant to look at. Thanks Guyism!

oliviawilde

7. MLB.com’s Brittany Ghiroli says Armando Gabino optioned to Norfolk after loss, Jim Johnson expected before tonight’s game in Anaheim

And when it comes to Gabino, we’ll always have the memories. Like…

I’m happy for Jim Johnson to finally be getting back. I think there was a real chance of him having his spirits dampened after such a dreadful season thus far.

You know what tends to help me when my spirits are dampened? Robert Randolph…

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kABK_CDZal8[/youtube]

8. The Sun’s Dean Jones Jr. says Chris Tillman roughed up, but Norfolk Tides managed to beat Charlotte Knights on farm

And before we move on from the O’s, a couple of things…

-The Birds left the Windy City last night for Anaheim, where they’ll open a weekend series with the Angels tonight. First pitch between Brad Bergesen and Trevor Bell is at 10:05pm, and the game can be seen on MASN2. Kevin Millwood and Jeremy Guthrie face Scott Kazmir and Jered Weaver the rest of the weekend.

-Adam Jones missed another game last night, but was available in an emergency situation. Still not considered a longterm issue.

-While Tillman still seems to be a guy who will be headed to Charm City next week, it does not look like Buck Showalter and Andy MacPhail will be giving Zach Britton the call. Might be the right move, but still kinda disappointing.

9. D1scourse’s Patrick Stevens says LaQuan Williams, Justin Lewis, Matt Furstenburg now listed as starters for Terrapins

And yet somehow Shannon James STILL isn’t starting. WHERE IS THE JUSTICE IN COLLEGE PARK?!?!?!? (Thanks The Smoking Jacket!)

shannonjames

10. ESPN.com’s Wayne Drehs says Michael Phelps has rededicated himself to Swimming after visiting this year’s Vancouver Olympics

Thank God, as I can’t take seeing Michael Phelps lose anymore.

I mean, if Phelps is losing-I’m pretty sure THIS man defaults back to being the face of Baltimore sports…

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

And finally, I leave you with this.

The Maryland State Fair is underway in Timonium. It means plenty of wonderful things all around. Amongst them? DEEP FRIED POP TARTS! (Thanks Fox 45!)

poptart

Flexing my mic muscles since 1983…

-G

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Mocking The 53: Checking Ravens Roster After Preseason Opener

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Mocking The 53: Checking Ravens Roster After Preseason Opener

Posted on 16 August 2010 by Glenn Clark

My 3rd Edition of “Mocking The 53″ hit WNST.net just 9 days ago, and much has changed since that time. The most notable difference is the departure of veteran LS Matt Katula, whose roster spot was taken by rookie CB Brad Jones (Cincinnati).

However, there is also some tinkering to the 53 based on how Baltimore Ravens players performed against the Carolina Panthers Thursday night at M&T Bank Stadium; and how they continue to perform during Training Camp practices at McDaniel College in Westminster.

For the record, I’ve never been more convinced that any of 60 guys could end up making the final roster. There might not be 70 NFL players on the roster like there were before Camp, but there are still PLENTY of players who have every opportunity to end up amongst the 53.

Here’s a reminder of how I explained these rankings the first time I put them together…

“Ozzie Newsome, John Harbaugh and company will at least MOSTLY keep the 53 best players on the roster, I am going to try to identify the Top 53 players on the roster myself. It ISN’T a perfect science, and some of the players will have outside circumstances that will influence where they find themselves on the list. Similarly, the Ravens will make some decisions based on health, position needs, etc.

I’m putting “best overall players”, “most significant players”, and “position relevance” into my “Top 53″ rankings. This isn’t just a list of the 53 best players on the team. This is however a list-at this moment-of the 53 players I believe are most likely to make the roster.”

With that in mind, let’s take a look at how the 53 shapes up…

1. QB Joe Flacco
2. OT Michael Oher
3. WR Anquan Boldin
4. DT Haloti Ngata
5. RB Ray Rice
rice

6. LB Ray Lewis
7. WR Derrick Mason
8. LB Terrell Suggs
9. LB Jarret Johnson
10. G Ben Grubbs

I think we were reminded of just how much the Ravens value Ray Rice when he was all but held out of the preseason opener. It’s very clear who the Top 6 players are on the team-just not quite as clear what order the Top 6 are in. Ben Grubbs cracks the Top 10 for the first time, and with the way O-Linemen have been getting banged up for this team during Camp, he might still be rising.

11. DE Trevor Pryce
12. DL Cory Redding
13. TE Todd Heap
14. DT Terrence Cody
15. CB Fabian Washington
fabian
16. OT Jared Gaither
17. FB Le’Ron McClain
18. OL Marshal Yanda
19. C Matt Birk
20. S Dawan Landry

While Fabian Washington and Terrence Cody continue to climb, Jared Gaither is absolutely falling. John Harbaugh said he expected Gaither to miss 2-3 weeks; but didn’t appear to rule out the possibility that his back tear could keep him out longer. With that in mind, his value falls a bit.

On the flip side, after a rough start to Camp-Cody came on big time against the Panthers. He showed quite a bit of the promise the Ravens had hoped he would when they selected him in the 2nd round of the NFL Draft out of Alabama. Kelly Gregg may still be the starter in the middle of the D-Line, but Cody has significantly greater upside.

Washington is going to have to be ready to be a Top 15 guy on this team whether he’s…well…ready or not. It’s hard to move him so high without him having played against the Panthers, but his importance to the overall makeup of the roster cannot be understated.

21. S Tom Zbikowski
tomz
22. CB Chris Carr
23. LB Jameel McClain
24. K Shayne Graham
25. TE Ed Dickson
26. QB Marc Bulger
27. S Haruki Nakamura
28. WR Mark Clayton
29. DT Kelly Gregg
30. WR Donte’ Stallworth

A couple of movers in this group-including Jameel McClain, who appeared to have the starting ILB job nailed down next to Ray Lewis but has since been splitting time. He’s still very much in the mix and likely ahead of Dannell Ellerbe and Tavares Gooden, but we’ll need to see what the team does Saturday night against the Washington Redskins at FedEx Field.

Chris Carr and Tom Zbikowski are risers, as their spots as starters have been solidified in recent weeks. Zbikowski may also end up winning the punt return job (I have him slightly ahead of Clayton and Stallworth right now), which could be enough to get him in the Top 20.

As far as Clayton and Stallworth are concerned-Clayton moves ahead of Stallworth for the first time as it appears he’ll be the team’s 3rd receiver. Expect both to get plenty of snaps throughout the season however.

Don’t be surprised if Ed Dickson is this team’s top Tight End sometime between now and the start of the 2011 season. He’ll be in the Top 20 on this list soon.

31. OL Chris Chester
32. LB Dannell Ellerbe
33. TE Dennis Pitta
34. P Sam Koch
35. LB Tavares Gooden
36. RB Willis McGahee
37. LB Antwan Barnes
abarnes
38. QB Troy Smith
39. DE Paul Kruger
40. CB Travis Fisher

Nothing drastically different about this group as of right now. Should Ellerbe or Gooden end up beating Jameel McClain out for the other ILB job, they would clearly move ahead of him on the roster. A good showing against the Panthers lifts Paul Kruger a bit, and the team continues to tell me they’re pleased with what they’ve seen from the 2nd year DE out of Utah since he reported to Westminster.

There have been rumblings that the team could keep just Flacco and Bulger and allow Troy Smith to walk-but I doubt that. Flacco and Bulger are similar QB’s, while Troy Smith is particularly different. After seeing what happened two years ago when Smith got sick and Kyle Boller got hurt, I don’t think the organization is ready to trim the number of QB’s on the Week 1 roster.

41. OT Oniel Cousins
42. S Ken Hamlin
43. DT Kelly Talavou
talavou
44. DT Brandon McKinney
45. LB Brendon Ayanbadejo
46. RB Jalen Parmele
47. CB Cary Williams
48. OL David Hale
49. OL Tony Moll
50. LS Morgan Cox
51. LB Edgar Jones
52. S KJ Gerard
53. WR Demetrius Williams

A few things worth mentioning in this final group:

-David Hale was injured during practice Monday. Until we know more about the nature of the injury we have to assume he’s safely on the roster when the Ravens visit the New York Jets September 13th.

-I have Talavou and McKinney ahead of Arthur Jones and Lamar Divens right now, but Divens has had a solid camp and Jones is a player the Ravens might not want to risk exposing. All 4 remain very much in the mix to be on the team when they get to East Rutherford.

-Despite his suspension, Cary Williams basically has to be a safe bet to be on the team as he’s the 4th corner right now. That being said, the team could still make roster moves between now and their Week 1 appearance on Monday Night Football. Should they do that, Williams could be in trouble. If Williams DOES make the roster, the team will almost be forced to keep an additional corner. I’m keeping KJ Gerard ahead of Prince Miller for now, but if Gerard doesn’t get healthy soon he’ll forfeit that spot right back to Miller.

-Brendon Ayanbadejo is sliding. While he still appears upbeat about his spot on this team, I’m not sure how much longer it can be assumed. He hasn’t really been noticed doing much work on the side, and team sources have told me they’re disappointed in how long Ayanbadejo has remained out. Should he return, he has every chance to make an impact in the nickel package and on special teams; but he has to return to do that.

-I moved Demetrius Williams back to the safe side of the roster and David Reed off. Reed was expected to make a more significant impact in the return game-but that hasn’t necessarily been seen just yet. He could still win the kick return job-which would get him back on the good side of the roster bubble. In the meantime, Williams’ size continues to somehow separate him from the rest of the receivers on this team-which is enough to get him back on the good side of the bubble.

-Morgan Cox takes a spot in the 53. As the team’s only long snapper, that’s a bit of a no-brainer.

(CB Domonique Foxworth-IR)
(S Ed Reed-Likely PUP)
(CB Lardarius Webb-Likely PUP)
(LB Sergio Kindle-Likely PUP or IR)

54. K Billy Cundiff
55. CB Prince Miller
56. DT Arthur Jones
57. OT Ramon Harewood
58. WR David Reed
59. RB Matt Lawrence
60. TE Davon Drew
ddrew
61. LB Prescott Burgess
62. LB Jason Phillips
63. DT Lamar Divens
64. WR Marcus Smith
65. WR Justin Harper
66. FB Mike McLaughlin
67. WR Eron Riley
68. DE Albert McClellan
69. RB Curtis Steele
70. OT Joe Reitz

Plenty of things worth discussing about this group:

-Mike McLaughlin COULD make the roster at FB with the team apparently more willing to give Le’Ron McClain carries; but I don’t expect it just yet. McLaughlin isn’t the type of guy the team would HAVE to keep to avoid exposing him, so I imagine he’ll end up on the practice squad.

-Billy Cundiff is MUCH closer in the kicking competition than he might appear; but the team has made it clear that Shayne Graham will be their guy. If he’s not going to make the roster, I can’t have Cundiff ahead of 54th.

-Jason Phillips is a guy the team likes a great deal, but may be a victim of a numbers game. He doesn’t have a natural role right now that makes him a guarantee to earn a spot. Prescott Burgess is in a similar position.

-Don’t be stunned if the team ends up keeping Davon Drew and has 4 tight ends on the roster. I just don’t see the room to do it right now myself.

71. CB Marcus Paschal
paschal
72. CB Doug Dutch
73. OL Bryan Mattison
74. OT Stefan Rodgers
75. CB Brad Jones
76. CB Chris Hawkins
77. OT Daniel Sanders
78. OT Devin Tyler

Of this group, Rodgers may have the only realistic path to being part of the team when they hit the field at the Meadowlands. Should Jared Gaither remain out and the team choose to protect Ramon Harewood by placing him on IR; he would have a realistic chance of getting active behind Oniel Cousins and Tony Moll. But that’s a major (and frightening) IF.

-G

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Ravens Waive LS Katula to Make Room for CB Jones

Posted on 14 August 2010 by Glenn Clark

The Baltimore Ravens have waived veteran Long Snapper Matt Katula, making room for newly signed CB Brad Jones.

Since arriving in Baltimore in 2005, Katula has played in all 80 regular season games and all Ravens playoff games. He struggled during the 2009 season, plagued by elbow tendinitis. Katula told the media he was “pain free” during the offseason. The team had added former California LS Nick Sundberg late during the 2009 campaign, but he was never activated from the practice squad.

The departure of Katula leaves only rookie UFA Morgan Cox (Tennessee) currently on the roster amongst long snappers.

Waiving Katula made room on the roster for newly resigned CB Brad Jones (UFA Cincinnati). Jones will compete with the likes of Doug Dutch, Chris Hawkins, Marcus Paschal and Prince Miller for potential spots on the Ravens’ 53 man roster or practice squad. CB’s Fabian Washington, Chris Carr, Travis Fisher and Cary Williams are expected to make the active roster ahead of that group.

-G

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Mocking The 53: Two Weeks In, Much Has Changed

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Mocking The 53: Two Weeks In, Much Has Changed

Posted on 06 August 2010 by Glenn Clark

It’s been just 11 days since I posted my Pre-Training Camp edition of “Mocking The 53″ here at WNST.net. In the short (almost) two weeks since the Baltimore Ravens originally reported to Westminster, there has already been some significant flux in the way the team’s roster shapes up.

Obviously the loss of Domonique Foxworth is the most significant shakeup to the team’s roster. However, he’s not the only player who has faced injury-related issues at McDaniel College (or elsewhere) thus far. For this week’s edition; I am going to take not only Foxworth out of the 53, but also the players that we believe will begin the season on PUP (if not IR).

That means that Ed Reed, Lardarius Webb and Sergio Kindle will get the asterisk treatment outside the 53. They’re clearly amongst the top 53 players on the roster, but we just don’t know if they’ll be there when the Ravens line up to face the New York Jets on Monday Night Football come September 13.

Additionally, the roster reflects the subtractions of John Beck and Walt Harris and the additions of Doug Dutch, Chris Hawkins, Daniel Sanders and Devin Tyler.

Here’s a reminder of how I explained these rankings the first time I put them together…

“Ozzie Newsome, John Harbaugh and company will at least MOSTLY keep the 53 best players on the roster, I am going to try to identify the Top 53 players on the roster myself. It ISN’T a perfect science, and some of the players will have outside circumstances that will influence where they find themselves on the list. Similarly, the Ravens will make some decisions based on health, position needs, etc.

I’m putting “best overall players”, “most significant players”, and “position relevance” into my “Top 53″ rankings. This isn’t just a list of the 53 best players on the team. This is however a list-at this moment-of the 53 players I believe are most likely to make the roster.”

With that in mind, let’s take a look at how the roster shapes up…

(Edit from GMC: This keeps shaking. The Ravens apparently DIDN’T release Walt Harris, but instead placed him on IR. Okay…)

1. QB Joe Flacco
2. OT Michael Oher
3. WR Anquan Boldin
4. DT Haloti Ngata
5. LB Ray Lewis
6. RB Ray Rice
7. LB Terrell Suggs
8. LB Jarret Johnson
jj
9. WR Derrick Mason
10. OT Jared Gaither

Jarret Johnson rises a few spots in the Top 10 and looks more and more important to this team every day. Some of that has to do with Sergio Kindle‘s injury, but even more of that has to do with Jarret himself. His position is such a delicate combination of up and back, the only player I can think of who has played even similarly to him is Adalius Thomas. Jared Gaither also drops a few spots as his weight has to be considered an issue, but he’s still very important to this football team.

11. DE Trevor Pryce
12. G Ben Grubbs
13. DL Cory Redding
14. TE Todd Heap
15. OL Marshal Yanda
16. LB Jameel McClain
jmcclain
17. CB Fabian Washington
18. DT Terrence Cody
19. FB Le’Ron McClain
20. QB Marc Bulger

A couple of the guys in this group have been quick risers. Jameel McClain was never REALLY on the bubble to make the roster, but he wasn’t terribly far away from it. Within weeks, Jameel has joined the first team defense. He’s been taking the majority of snaps next to Ray Lewis inside, and the team hopes that he can be helpful in pressuring the quarterback with Sergio Kindle down.

Also rising is Fabian Washington-as Domonique Foxworth‘s injury leaves him the team’s top corner. Fabian joined Thyrl Nelson Tuesday on “The Mobtown Sports Beat” on AM1570 WNST to discuss the pressure of being the top corner. Check it out in the BuyAToyota.com Audio Vault here at WNST.net if you missed it.

21. C Matt Birk
22. K Shayne Graham
23. S Dawan Landry
24. DT Kelly Gregg
kellygregg
25. WR Donte’ Stallworth
26. CB Chris Carr
27. S Tom Zbikowski
28. LB Tavares Gooden
29. OL Chris Chester
30. S Haruki Nakamura

There are a couple of folks in this group worth pointing out. Had Terrence Cody come into Camp and looked like a guy who would be ready to go immediately, Kelly Gregg may have ended up being someone who had to fight to preserve his roster spot. That no longer appears to be an issue.

Chris Carr just became a much more significant part of this roster, as it appears he will be a starting CB for at least the first 6 weeks of the season. That was never the plan for Chris. Hopefully it won’t hurt Greg Mattison‘s defense.

31. TE Ed Dickson
dickson
32. WR Mark Clayton
33. TE Dennis Pitta
34. P Sam Koch
35. LB Dannell Ellerbe
36. RB Willis McGahee
37. LB Brendon Ayanbadejo
38. QB Troy Smith
39. DE Paul Kruger
40. S Ken Hamlin

I don’t know how much longer I can keep Dickson and Pitta outside the Top 30. It might just be Training Camp, but both have looked very good early on. Also looking good is Clayton, who may have been at risk of finding the bubble before Camp started.

On the flip side, Dannell Ellerbe as of right now looks to be 4th amongst the team’s inside LB’s, after vaulting into a job as a starter just a season ago. Troy Smith also appears to have solidified himself a bit with John Beck gone.

41. LB Antwan Barnes
42. OT Oniel Cousins
43. LS Matt Katula
44. DT Brandon McKinney
45. DT Kelly Talavou
46. RB Jalen Parmele
47. WR David Reed
48. OL David Hale
49. CB Travis Fisher
50. DT Arthur Jones
51. CB Cary Williams
52. OL Tony Moll
53. LB Edgar Jones
jones

A few things worth mentioning in this group. I’ll move Edgar Jones (who of course now wears #48 and plays OLB after having played roughly every other position on the field) back onto the good side of the bubble, as the injury to Sergio Kindle leaves the team thin at OLB. A couple of the other guys in this group (namely David Reed and Arthur Jones) are getting the benefit of the doubt as draft picks, but probably still have something to prove to make the final 53.

(CB Domonique Foxworth-IR)
(CB Walt Harris-IR)
(S Ed Reed-Likely PUP)
(CB Lardarius Webb-Likely PUP)
(LB Sergio Kindle-Likely PUP or IR)

54. K Billy Cundiff
55. WR Demetrius Williams
56. OT Ramon Harewood
57. LB Prescott Burgess
58. RB Matt Lawrence
59. S KJ Gerard
gerard
60. LB Jason Phillips
61. TE Davon Drew
62. DT Lamar Divens
63. WR Marcus Smith
64. WR Justin Harper
65. DE Albert McClellan
66. FB Mike McLaughlin
67. WR Eron Riley
68. CB Prince Miller
69. CB Marcus Paschal
70. RB Curtis Steele

There’s a few things about my current 53 that I don’t like. As of right now, I have just 4 true corners on the roster right now (Washington, Carr, Williams, Fisher). This could be a place where Gerard could squeeze his way back onto the roster. Also, Ramon Harewood could be in direct competition with Tony Moll for an O-Line spot.

I said before Camp that there were 70 legitimate NFL players (either guys who had been on the active roster or guys who were NFL Draft picks) fighting for 53 roster spots. That number has dwindled, but there are still some 65 legitimate players fighting for spots-and 5 current or former UFA’s also hoping to get on the team.

71. OT Joe Reitz
joereitz
72. CB Doug Dutch
73. OL Bryan Mattison
74. OT Stefan Rodgers
75. LS Morgan Cox
76. CB Chris Hawkins
77. OT Daniel Sanders
78. OT Devin Tyler

The team certainly believes there will be some practice squad guys in the final group.

There you have it. We’ll update again after the Ravens play the Carolina Panthers Thursday night at M&T Bank Stadium.

-G

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Mocking The 53: A Training Camp Eve Look at Ravens Roster

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Mocking The 53: A Training Camp Eve Look at Ravens Roster

Posted on 25 July 2010 by Glenn Clark

Back in early June, I put together my first “Mocking the 53” entry; breaking down how the Baltimore Ravens roster appeared following the end of mini-camps. Since that time, there have been some roster additions (welcome Marc Bulger, Ken Hamlin, Walt Harris); subtractions (we’ll never forget William VanDeSteeg, Brad Jones, Chris Hannon, Maurice Price, John Fletcher, Daniel Sanders, Courtney Smith, Ashton Hall and Digger Bujnoch); and “Ed Reed Month” has captured the attention of Charm City.

With coaches, quarterbacks, rookies and players coming off injuries scheduled to report to McDaniel College Monday, I thought today would be a good time to take another look at where the roster stands. There aren’t MANY changes; but it’s worth taking another look at.

Here’s how I explained these rankings the first time I posted them…

Ozzie Newsome, John Harbaugh and company will at least MOSTLY keep the 53 best players on the roster, I am going to try to identify the Top 53 players on the roster myself. It ISN’T a perfect science, and some of the players will have outside circumstances that will influence where they find themselves on the list. Similarly, the Ravens will make some decisions based on health, position needs, etc.

I’m putting “best overall players”, “most significant players”, and “position relevance” into my “Top 53″ rankings. This isn’t just a list of the 53 best players on the team. This is however a list-at this moment-of the 53 players I believe are most likely to make the roster.

1. QB Joe Flacco
2. OT Michael Oher
3. WR Anquan Boldin
4. DT Haloti Ngata
5. LB Ray Lewis
6. RB Ray Rice
7. WR Derrick Mason
8. LB Terrell Suggs
suggs

9. OT Jared Gaither
10. LB Jarret Johnson

I only made a few adjustments to the Top 10 this time around. After talking to some NFL personnel folks, I came to the conclusion that I slightly overvalued Ray Rice and slightly undervalued Ray Lewis. The fact is-the Ravens have great depth at RB behind Rice. While the team wouldn’t be as dynamic offensively without him; they could survive for at least a period of time should he get hurt. The team does NOT have the same type of depth at ILB, as they have SOLID players-just not guys who can step in for someone like #52. The other change I made in the Top 10 was at #10; as Jarret Johnson replaces Ed Reed. With the acquisition of Ken Hamlin and the very realistic possibility that Reed will miss the first six weeks of the season; it’s hard to leave even a future Hall of Fame safety in the Top 10.

11. S Ed Reed
12. DT Terrence Cody
13. OG Ben Grubbs
14. DE Trevor Pryce
15. DL Cory Redding
16. TE Todd Heap
17. CB Domonique Foxworth
domfox
18. C Matt Birk
19. OL Marshal Yanda
20. QB Marc Bulger

Welcome to the list Marc Bulger. The fact is, the team doesn’t give a player nearly $4 million (with the chance to make over $5 million) if he’s not an important part of the roster. No matter what Ed Reed or Joe Flacco says to the media, the team is obviously very happy to have the former St. Louis Rams QB on the roster. Otherwise, the next 10 stays about the same as my first post. One of the most interesting things to watch this week in Westminster will be the weight Terrence Cody reports at. If it is around the 350 the team wants from him, he’ll solidify his Top 12 standing on this roster. If it is more than that, his stock could drop.

21. FB Le’Ron McClain
22. S Dawan Landry
23. CB Lardarius Webb
webb
24. LB Sergio Kindle
25. LB Dannell Ellerbe
26. CB Fabian Washington
27. WR Donte’ Stallworth
28. K Shayne Graham
29. LB Tavares Gooden
30. DT Kelly Gregg

The biggest riser in this group is Shayne Graham, who was 41st on my initial list. In talking to folks both in Owings Mills and around the league; it has become clear that the team is working under the assumption that Graham will win the “competition” with Billy Cundiff. Should he struggle in the preseason, clearly his place on the list could fluctuate. Lardarius Webb dropped just a bit due to the acquisition of Walt Harris; as the team has a bit more depth at CB should Webb not return as healthy as hoped. Also dropping a few spots is rookie LB Sergio Kindle as we await more details surrounding his head injury that will force him to miss the start of Training Camp.

31. TE Ed Dickson
32. P Sam Koch
33. OL Chris Chester
34. CB Chris Carr
chriscarr
35. RB Willis McGahee
36. S Ken Hamlin
37. S Haruki Nakamura
38. S Tom Zbikowski
39. LB Jameel McClain
40. LB Brendon Ayanbadejo

Ken Hamlin debuts at #36, and could rise from there depending on how he looks in the preseason. As of right now, there is a common assumption that Hamlin could very well be the guy to start alongside Dawan Landry Week 1 in East Rutherford; as Ed Reed looks like he may well end up on the PUP list. Should Hamlin show the form that made him a Pro Bowl selection with the Dallas Cowboys, he should hold off Tom Zbikowski easily at the “centerfield” safety spot.

41. TE Dennis Pitta
42. CB Walt Harris
43. WR Mark Clayton
44. DE Paul Kruger
45. QB Troy Smith
troysmith
46. LS Matt Katula
47. OT Oniel Cousins
48. LB Antwan Barnes
49. RB Jalen Parmele
50. DT Brandon McKinney
51. WR David Reed
52. DT Kelly Talavou
53. OL David Hale

The guy that drops the most in this list is Troy Smith, as the acquisition of Marc Bulger leaves him 3rd on the QB Depth Chart. Should he be traded to a team that suffers a QB injury during the preseason; Cam Cameron favorite John Beck would take his roster spot right back. David Hale gets the last spot on the 53 due to the need for interior OL depth behind Chris Chester-although the team could well decide to keep Tony Moll for that role. They could also keep Ramon Harewood (who looks like a Practice Squad guy to me) if he was capable of moving in and playing guard.

54. QB John Beck
55. K Billy Cundiff
56. DT Arthur Jones
57. OT Ramon Harewood
58. WR Demetrius Williams
dwill
59. CB Travis Fisher
60. OL Tony Moll
61. LB Prescott Burgess
62. RB Matt Lawrence
63. LB Edgar Jones
64. LB Jason Phillips
65. CB Cary Williams
66. DT Lamar Divens
67. TE Davon Drew
68. WR Marcus Smith
69. WR Justin Harper
70. S KJ Gerard

This is really incredible. Players 54-70 on this list ALL appear to be legitimate NFL players; just guys who face VERY uphill battles when it comes to trying to make this crowded roster.

John Beck will have to beat Troy Smith or hope he’s traded. Billy Cundiff will have to beat Shayne Graham. Arthur Jones and Lamar Divens are battling Brandon McKinney and Kelly Talavou; with an outside chance that Kelly Gregg could be let go to pave the way for one of them to make the team.

Ramon Harewood and Tony Moll are battling Oniel Cousins and David Hale; but are also hoping to convince the team they’re valuable enough to just keep another O-Lineman altogether. Demetrius Williams, Marcus Smith and Justin Harper are all hoping to prove that their size makes them more valuable than David Reed or Mark Clayton; or that they’re valuable enough for John Harbaugh to go with a 6th receiver.

Travis Fisher, Cary Williams and KJ Gerard are battling the likes of Walt Harris to try to steal a spot in the secondary. One of them will likely benefit from Ed Reed‘s injury to get onto the roster. Prescott Burgess is hoping to avoid being a roster casualty for a 2nd straight year; as he, Jason Phillips and Edgar Jones know that Brendon Ayanbadejo, Antwan Barnes, Jameel McClain and Paul Kruger are their competition for making the roster.

Matt Lawrence has to prove he’s back from his knee injury a season ago and his value at RB and on Special Teams makes him worthwhile amongst a group that includes Jalen Parmele. Davon Drew is trying to find some room at TE behind Ed Dickson and Dennis Pitta.

The fact is, these are all winnable jobs for the players farther down on the roster; and they’re not just competing with each other. A strong preseason from Demetrius Williams could earn him a spot but prove costly for a player like Brandon McKinney with the team deep at DT. A strong preseason from Matt Lawrence could leave Antwan Barnes an afterthought.

Jerry Rosburg will ultimately have a big say in who gets the final spots, as a player’s value to the Special Teams unit could outweigh his value at his own position. Lawrence, Smith, Burgess, E. Jones and Gerard could all use that to their advantage in trying to make the roster.

71. FB Mike McLaughlin
72. CB Prince Miller
73. CB Marcus Paschal
74.  OT Joe Reitz
75. WR Eron Riley
eron
76. RB Curtis Steele
77. OL Bryan Mattison
78. OT Stefan Rodgers
79. LS Morgan Cox
80. WR Rodelin Anthony
81. DE Albert McClellan

There are guys who have a chance at making the roster in this final group, but they have to be considered longshots. Eron Riley was popular amongst the members of the team’s coaching staff while on the practice squad last year. Unfortunately, the logjam of taller receivers fighting for roster spots ahead of him makes it likely he will end up heading right back to the practice squad this year.

Mike McLaughlin, Prince Miller and Curtis Steele are all UFA’s who have legitimate chances of lighting the world on fire in the preseason and winning jobs; but all appear more likely to be practice squad bound. Should Matt Katula show lingering signs of the elbow troubles that bothered him last year, Morgan Cox could have a chance to win the LS job outright.

That’s the roster as it stands right now. We all know injuries and other potential roster moves will change things before the Ravens head to the Meadowlands for Monday Night Football on Sept. 13. I’ll try to update this after each preseason game; with September 4 looming as “cutdown” day.

Remember, updates from Luke Jones and myself at Training Camp begin Monday; and can be heard at the bottom of the hour EVERY hour throughout the day.

-G

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Monday Morning’s Crabs and Beer

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Monday Morning’s Crabs and Beer

Posted on 14 June 2010 by Glenn Clark

Happy Monday!

It’s a Happy Monday for me because this happened yesterday…

crabs

Need I explain more? The “Luckiest Dang Little Sister on the Face of the Planet” had a birthday, and I reaped the benefits.

Let’s see what everyone has to say…

1. The AP’s David Ginsburg says Kevin Millwood roughed up as Orioles swept by Mets

I decided to peek at Stephen Strasburg for a bit yesterday over on MASN2 as the Nats played in Cleveland-just because I didn’t want to be the only guy in the world NOT talking about him.

By the time I realized I had forgot to flip over and watch the start of the Birds game, it was already 5-0 in the first. At least it made it easier to stop watching and head outside for crabs and Moosehead.

I’m well aware that the game got back to 5-3 at one point; but the Orioles really DIDN’T ever have a chance. A special thanks to Mark Hendrickson for making sure it wasn’t AT ALL interesting at any point after he came in.

I’d like to say something poignant here to wrap this up. I think I’ll go with “The Orioles stink.” How’d that sound?

2. WNST.net/The AP provide numerical evidence of sweep

The crazy thing is that the team has been getting some hits recently. Over the last 6 games, they’ve collected 62 hits. Sadly, they’ve rarely turned into runs.

Of course, when you let the one RBI producer you have go (Aubrey Huff) and don’t replace him with someone who’s an acceptable replacement (like Matt Holliday or Jason Bay); this is what you get. It’s been piss poor all season. I don’t know why I’d bother being frustrated by it now.

I don’t know if you can tell by my tone early on, but this wasn’t exactly fun this weekend. I was hoping the World Cup would help to improve my spirits towards sports in general-but I got a bit too much sun Saturday, and then my allergies came racing back yesterday.

I still blame the Orioles. Why wouldn’t I?

3. WNST.net’s Luke Jones says with sweep, O’s now continue historic poor pace

There is no doubt that over the next few months, there will be plenty of attention paid to the Orioles’ potential assault of the 1962 New York Mets’ record for futility. I’m not the type of person that hopes they DO pursue the record down the stretch just to keep the season entertaining-as I don’t really want to have any part of that. The Mets have that record. I hope they keep it.

That being said, those that support the Orioles going on to finish with the worst record in baseball so that the team can finish with the #1 overall pick in next year’s MLB Entry Draft-I can probably get behind that. I won’t root for them to lose (of course, I can’t bring myself to watch the games at ALL half the time anyway), but I understand that losing games could help the team more than winning can after the All-Star Game.

This just keeps getting more and more depressing. Let’s take a look at a picture of January Jones (who may or may not have been involved in a car crash?) from over at WWTDD and then we’ll regroup and move forward.

janjones

4. MLB.com’s Noah Rosenstein says Birds activated Alfredo Simon, sent down Brad Bergesen

So we’ve got that much going for us, which is nice. Juan Samuel says he’ll use Alfredo Simon primarily as the closer. I’d probably prefer to keep using David Hernandez myself, but I think I’ll just accept EVER having another save situation again first.

As far as Brad Bergesen goes; this is a numbers game. Of the 4 young pitchers in the “cavalry”, he’s got the lesser pedigree of the bunch. It probably goes Brian Matusz, Chris Tillman, Jake Arrieta then Bergesen. With the other 3 up and both Millwood and Jeremy Guthrie having not been dealt yet. That’s 6 guys for 5 spots. While Hernandez is probably best suited for the bullpen in the long term, Bergesen should probably remain a starter. In order to do that, he has to go to Norfolk, at least for now.

5. Baysox.com says Pasadena native Chorye Spoone matched MLB pitcher Ross Detweiler in Bowie’s win over Harrisburg on farm

And before we move on from the Orioles, a couple of things…

-A reminder that the Birds are back in action tonight, facing the San Francisco Giants at AT&T Park. First pitch between Chris Tillman and Jonathan Sanchez is at 10:15pm. The other starters for the Orioles this week are Arrieta and Guthrie; the Giants counter with Joe Martinez and Tim Lincecum. The hopes for a Madison Bumgarner-Jake Arrieta showdown were nice, but appear to be all but gone.

-Congratulations to our “Apologist of the Morning”, a former winner-”Neal S.” from The Loss Column. Neal was selected by “The Great Arbitrator” Drew Forrester. For a change, today’s winner didn’t win because of “apology”, but instead for being an apologist yet having the stones to say the right thing. Neal said…

“I’m getting frustrated with Andy MacPhail’s ultra-conservative, deliberate approach. I’m not getting at any larger point, necessarily, it’s just what it is. Frustration with an approach that seems to be growing less effective by the day.”

It’s time the uber-defenders of “The Plan” wise up and accept facts. The fact is, the manager has been fired but the team still stinks. Either that means there are two bad managers, or the general manager put a bad club together. I think I know which one it was in this case.

I don’t think Peter Angelos should FIRE Andy MacPhail, but I ABSOLUTELY believe his feet need to be held to the fire to MAKE THE TEAM BETTER.

I hope others will join Neal S. in having the courage to stand up and say “this isn’t okay.”

-While Bobby Valentine and Eric Wedge remain the only managers known to have interviewed for the job, I think there’s an obvious choice for the next interview. As I posted Saturday on Facebook, the recent meltdown from one time would-be Arizona Diamondbacks manager Wally Backman HAS to earn him an interview, correct?

(Edit from GMC: This video is ABSOLUTELY NSFW. Unless you work at a place that has the F word in the name of the company. If that’s the case, I would imagine the video is probably okay.)

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1PJJUc2u0bs[/youtube]

6. The Sun’s Ken Murray says Ravens S Nakamura ‘well ahead of schedule’ in return from injury

The organization has to be happy with the quick returns from injury not only for Nakamura-but also for Fabian Washington and Lardarius Webb. Washington & Webb still aren’t 100 percent, but all of these players have remained ahead of schedule. That’s good news for ALL Ravens fans.

A reminder that we will NOT be out at 1 Winning Drive for Passing Camp this week-because the NFL took away Passing Camp this week. The Ravens are still doing formal work with their rookies, but there is no availability for us. But as any news comes from Owings Mills, we’ll be sure to get it to you via Twitter (follow us @WNST), WNST.net and on air at AM1570.

7. D1scourse’s Patrick Stevens says only ‘money’ would make sense in potential Terrapins move to Big Ten

This is a great read from Patrick regarding the entire conference situation. I have said a few times that I don’t think it helps the Terps to go to the Big Ten, and I won’t waiver on that. That being said, if Big Ten commish Jim Delaney has $20 million a year to throw at the University for free, it would have to be considered by C.D. Mote or whoever replaces as him-even if it ends up going against the wishes of Debbie Yow.

We talked some college sports this morning on “The Morning Reaction”, as Morgan State Bears head coach Todd Bozeman joined the program to respond to the news of recent scholarship losses. If you missed the chat, you can head over to the BuyAToyota.com Audio Vault here at WNST.net to listen, as Drew and Todd also discussed the Boston Celtics’ 3-2 lead on the Los Angeles Lakers in the NBA Finals. Other guests this morning were Baseball Prospectus’ Jay Jaffe and UMBC Soccer Coach Pete Caringi-who recapped the United States-England match, as well as all other things World Cup.

8. Inside Lacrosse’s Sean Burns has Maryland 5th, Johns Hopkins 11th, Loyola 15th in ‘way early’ 2011 lacrosse poll

The Dave Cottle defenders of the world pointed out that he deserved the chance to coach one more season, as this Maryland team is arguably the best he would have had.

Maybe so, but that’s of course not an option anymore. Speaking of which, nothing new on the Maryland lacrosse search front this weekend.

Speaking of which-if we’re going to put together ridiculous lists at the wrong time, I want to make a list of “gals from Australia who made the cover of Ralph Magazine and I would like to get to know better.” Gianna Pattison is number 1. (Thanks Guyism!)

gianna

9. The Sun’s Kevin Cowherd says Baltimore County World Soccer Festival part of “World Cup fever” coming over Charm City

If you didn’t come out to Patriot Plaza in Towson for the event Saturday, it was a GREAT time, even if the match ended in a fairly fortunate draw. Here’s a look courtesy of WNSTv…

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MJQ6uakWUQs[/youtube]

We will be out at Amicci’s in Little Italy this afternoon for Italy-Paraguay. The food is GREAT, the beer is cold, it’s going to be an awesome day. Forza Azzurri!!!

10. BaltimoreMariners.com says Mariners topped Erie on last second FG

Thankfully their long snapper isn’t named Matt Katula.

I’m kidding!!!! Matt’s a good man, and hopefully has moved past his elbow issues. Hopefully.

You know, I completely forgot to mention this when we were discussing World Cup, but have you seen Cristiano Ronaldo WAG Irina Shayk? Thanks Busted Coverage…

shayk

And finally, I leave you with this.

If you haven’t been paying attention to WWE Raw, you might not have noticed that they’ve been having guest hosts on the show every week. Some of been great (notably Shaquille O’Neal and Bob Barker), others have been Ashton Kutcher. My buddy Brandon Holthaus started a group on Facebook to try to get Kevin Smith to host the show. Check the group out here.

And how can THIS guy NOT make a good host? (Edit from GMC: Once again, this video is ABSOLUTELY NSFW. Unless you work for Kevin Smith. Or the WWE presumably.)

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W-xKUU5sWS4[/youtube]

Flexing my mic muscles since 1983…

-G

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