Tag Archive | "kelechi osemele"

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Ravens’ health improving heading into Sunday test against Packers

Posted on 07 October 2013 by Luke Jones

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OWINGS MILLS, Md. — Facing arguably their most difficult home test of the season when the Green Bay Packers travel to Baltimore on Sunday, the Ravens appear to be moving toward the healthiest state they’ve experienced since the start of the season.

Coach John Harbaugh said that left guard Kelechi Osemele felt better on Monday after back spasms forced him out of Sunday’s game in Miami after the Ravens’ first offensive series. Osemele was replaced by backup center A.Q. Shipley in the starting lineup as he rested his back in the 26-23 win over the Dolphins.

Wide receiver Jacoby Jones will practice for the second straight week and could see his first game action since suffering a medial collateral strain in his right knee in the season opener on Sept. 5. The Pro Bowl return specialist practiced on a limited basis all last week, but the Ravens elected to hold him out for Week 5 while bringing him back slowly.

Trying to determine Jones’ role will be an interesting decision for Harbaugh and the Ravens as wide receiver Tandon Doss has handled punt return duties admirably while speedy wideout Deonte Thompson provides a compelling option for kickoff returns. Their versatility may allow Baltimore to use Jones primarily as a wide receiver while he works his way back to 100 percent or the veteran could see a diminished role offensively with other young receivers such as Thompson making recent progress.

“That’s the question we’re asking ourselves right now,” Harbaugh said. “It probably depends on  how he looks during practices. If he looks really good, we’d be willing to put him out there. But if we feel like we need to protect him, then we will.”

In addition to Jones, Harbaugh said he expects rookie wide receiver Marlon Brown to return to practice as early as Wednesday after he was held out of Sunday’s game with a hamstring injury.

Defensive end Marcus Spears continues to receive treatment for a knee injury that flared up late last week before he was ruled inactive for Week 5. Harbaugh confirmed there is no structural damage and described the veteran defensive lineman as “day to day.”

Harbaugh also provided favorable reports on cornerback Lardarius Webb (hamstring) and rookie linebacker Arthur Brown (pectoral strain), who both played in Miami and experienced no setbacks in the process. Running back Ray Rice continues to get better as well in his second game back from the hip flexor strain suffered on Sept. 15.

Meanwhile, the Packers are dealing with a serious injury concern as linebacker Clay Matthews is expected to miss the next month with a broken thumb, according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter. This would certainly aid the Baltimore offense in trying to keep up with Green Bay’s high-octane offensive attack in a game in which the Ravens will likely need to score significant points.

Harbaugh noncommittal on Monroe-McKinnie status

All signs point to newly-acquired left tackle Eugene Monroe to take veteran Bryant McKinnie’s place in the starting lineup this week, but Harbaugh wasn’t tipping his hand on Monday afternoon.

Monroe was ruled inactive for the Miami game after having just two days of practice time after the trade with the Jacksonville Jaguars was completed on Thursday. McKinnie’s poor performance against the Dolphins didn’t do him any favors in keeping his job, and it would be surprising if Monroe wasn’t playing after more than a week to improve by the time Sunday’s game rolls around.

“We’re in wait-and-see mode right now. We’ll see what happens over the course of the week,” Harbaugh said. “[We] don’t really know for sure right now. [Monroe] looked good last week; he looked really good. We’re just going to have to see how it plays out. This is uncharted territory for us, it really is. We’ve never been down this road before.”

It remains unclear whether the Ravens would seriously consider trading McKinnie, because one of the big concerns prior to the acquisition of Monroe was the lack of depth on the offensive line, a problem that would continue to exist should the 34-year-old lineman be moved elsewhere.

No decision on Stokley yet

A second media report Monday suggested that the Ravens will re-sign veteran wide receiver Brandon Stokley this week after he was cut on Saturday to make room for veteran tight end Billy Bajema.

Stokley has been dealing with a groin injury that sidelined him in Week 4 and prompted the Ravens to let him go with an understanding that he would still be in their plans moving forward. However, you have to wonder how secure his spot will be moving forward with the Ravens getting much healthier and deeper at wide receiver than they’ve been since training camp.

Harbaugh wasn’t in a position to comment on Stokley’s status during his Monday press conference.

“I don’t know how that’s going to shake out,” Harbaugh said. “We’ll see.”

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Osemele sidelined with back spasms early in first half

Posted on 07 October 2013 by Luke Jones

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A Ravens offensive line already struggling through the first quarter of the season played a man down for much of their 26-23 win over the Dolphins on Sunday as left guard Kelechi Osemele was sidelined with back spasms.

Osemele played in the Ravens’ opening offensive series before being removed for the remainder of the game. The team did not announce an injury for Osemele during the contest, but coach John Harbaugh offered clarity on his status following the win at Sun Life Stadium.

“He was tightened up in pre-game and we tried to get him in the game,” Harbaugh said. “We had already set the 46-man roster. He went the first series. He couldn’t go, and that’s why we made the change to A.Q. Shipley.”

The injury left the Ravens with just one healthy reserve lineman — rookie tackle Rick Wagner — as newly-acquired left tackle Eugene Monroe and third-year lineman Jah Reid were among the inactives in Week 5.

The Ravens were also shorthanded at the wide receiver position as both Jacoby Jones (knee) and Marlon Brown (hamstring) were out with injuries. This meant there were only three healthy wide receivers available: Torrey Smith, Tandon Doss, and Deonte Thompson.

Cornerback Lardarius Webb played on Sunday without experiencing a setback with the hamstring strain suffered in last week’s loss at Buffalo.

Beyond Osemele, there were no other new injuries reported by the Ravens following Sunday’s win.

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Pain plaguing Ravens offense starts with running game

Posted on 24 September 2013 by Luke Jones

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To see the Ravens offense struggle through the first three weeks of the 2013 season isn’t surprising — or at least it shouldn’t have been.

There’s no underselling the losses of tight end Dennis Pitta and wide receiver Anquan Boldin — the pillars on which quarterback Joe Flacco relied last season — and how they would impact the passing game in the early stages of the season. Growing pains were expected as Flacco is still developing chemistry with every pass-catching target not named Torrey Smith, but the Ravens figured they could rely on their running game more heavily, especially in the early stages of the season.

But the results haven’t been there. In fact, the Ravens have one of the worst running games in the NFL through the first three weeks of the season in averaging just 2.6 yards per carry, ranking 31st in the league and only ahead of 0-3 Jacksonville. With Pro Bowl running back Ray Rice, highly-regarded backup Bernard Pierce, and Pro Bowl fullback Vonta Leach in tow, there’s simply no excuse for the overall lack of production.

“It’s going to be important, and we have the people to do it,” coach John Harbaugh said. “We’ve got some big, strong, tough offensive lineman, and we have really good backs. Our fullback [Vonta Leach] is the best blocking fullback in the league. The run game is something that has to happen for us.”

But it hasn’t and there have been a number of factors working against the Ravens through the early stages of the season. It would be unfair to overlook the fronts the Ravens have played as Denver, Cleveland, and Houston all rank in the top 5 in rushing yards per attempt surrendered. Expecting Baltimore to be gashing opponents in the running game would be unreasonable, but it still doesn’t excuse such an ineffective ground attack.

The absence of reliable targets in the passing game has prompted opposing defense to often play an extra defender in the box, creating problems when it comes to the simple number of blockers against defenders. Whether attempting to run to set up the pass or to throw to open up the running game, the Ravens have been spinning their wheels more often than not with an offense ranking 30th in total yards and 20th in passing yards. It’s the old chicken-or-the-egg question in which the Ravens are trying to figure out whether their passing game can breathe life into the running game or vice versa.

The Ravens are working with a new center in second-year lineman Gino Gradkowski, who replaced the retired Matt Birk and is responsible for making the calls for blocking assignments at the line of scrimmage. Besides the void in leadership, the Ravens have also been challenged up the middle by beefier defensive linemen against the undersized Gradkowski.

And Baltimore is even dealing with a new voice on the coaching staff as run-game coordinator Juan Castillo is running the show for the offensive line and the implementation of his inside zone blocking schemes appears to be a mixed bag at best thus far.

But the Ravens’ problems in the running game run deeper than the aforementioned variables as even reliable run blockers such as Pro Bowl right guard Marshal Yanda and right tackle Michael Oher have struggled more than you’d typically expect so far.

“We do feel like we understand it and we’re working on it,” Harbaugh said. “There’s no doubt in my mind that it can be corrected. We’re not getting the production from the run game that we should, but we also feel like we’re on our way to getting that done. We just have to do it; you just have to go out there and get it done.”

A look back at the Ravens’ performance in the running game against Houston makes it difficult to pinpoint one specific problem above the rest. All five starting linemen missed assignments at different points, Pierce missed several running lanes, the Texans stacked eight men in the box on occasion, and backside pursuit was even a problem as defenders dragged down ball carriers from behind on a few occasions. Whether it was running to the strong side or the weak side of the line, it didn’t seem to matter as Pierce’s run off right tackle for 25 yards to end the third quarter was the only real bright spot for the ground attack.

Again, the Ravens have played talented defenses this season, but the sum of their talented parts hasn’t added up to even marginal success in most cases. Even in the fourth quarter when many credited the Ravens for wearing down Houston, they managed only 28 yards on 13 carries and needed to rely on Flacco’s arm for third-down conversions.

“One guy here, one miss there, one bad target in another place, each time that’s what holds you back,” Harbaugh said. “Their safeties do a great job of tackling, so they limit you from the big runs. Our run game is not where it needs to be. We’re going to go to work on that — we have been working on it. We’ll continue to do so, and we need to make that important. One thing we’ve seen that, philosophically, we’re going to stick with it.”

Of all the factors working against the Ravens in the running game, perhaps the most surprising has been the play of the left side of the offensive line. While veteran left tackle Bryant McKinnie has never been known as a strong run blocker, left guard Kelechi Osemele has looked nothing like the blocker we saw in last year’s postseason when many thought he had the potential to be a Pro Bowl lineman.

Harbaugh wasn’t willing to place blame on any one player or unit in explaining the running game struggles Monday, but it’s apparent the offensive line hasn’t been on the same page. And even when it has been, running backs haven’t made the proper zone reads.

“All of our guys are going to point the finger right back at themselves,” Harbaugh said. “That’s the kind of guys we have. I would characterize it more of being in sync, more in terms of working together more efficiently – combination blocks going to the right guy with the right technique at the right time. Those things – it’s not just a matter of just one-on-one knocking somebody off the ball. That’s not the way it works. It’s way more complicated than that up front.

“There’s a precision to the run game, too. It’s something that we don’t quite have ironed out yet against good fronts, and we’ve got to get there. That’s what we’re working on.”

Whether it’s a matter of still adjusting to Castillo or simply getting used to Gradkowski over the veteran Birk, the Ravens must improve with their ground attack to alleviate the pressure on Flacco and an undermanned passing game. On paper, the personnel is simply too good to be so unproductive — even against talented front sevens.

The real gauge for how severe the run problems are will come on Sunday when the Ravens travel to Buffalo to take on a Bills defense that’s surrendering 4.3 yards per carry and 155 yards per game on the ground. Even if Rice misses his second straight game with a left hip flexor strain, there’s no excuse for the Ravens not to make substantial progress with their running game against an underwhelming opponent.

To their credit, the Ravens haven’t abandoned their commitment to run — their 88 rushing attempts rank 10th in the league — but that only goes so far when you’re gaining minimal yardage on first and second down and putting Flacco and the passing game in difficult third-down situations. They know it needs to be an important part of their identity in 2013, but the production on the field hasn’t backed that up.

“It’s something that we think is important,” Harbaugh said. “We’re going to be able to run the ball here. It is a part of our DNA, and it is part of who we are as a football team.”

And it’s a side of the Ravens they need to start showing if their offense is to make strides as the season progresses.

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Osemele returns to practice field on limited basis Monday

Posted on 29 July 2013 by Luke Jones

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OWINGS MILLS, Md. — The Ravens saw a key member of their starting offensive line return to the practice field Monday as left guard Kelechi Osemele practiced for the first time since late last week.

The second-year lineman strained his right hamstring in the first full-squad workout of the summer on Thursday and was sidelined through the weekend. Only right guard Marshal Yanda (shoulder) remains out of action among the projected five starters along the line, but the two-time Pro Bowl selection passed his physical over the weekend, a sure sign that he is moving closer to returning to practice after offseason shoulder surgery.

Osemele took part in a very limited capacity, only working during positional drills before sitting out the team portions of practice.

“It’s still early. We just want to make sure we have everybody healthy,” Osemele said after practice. “We don’t want to lose any of our starters right now. Today went well, it felt great. It was good to be out there with the guys again and get all the mental things going on.”

Others missing from Monday’s workout in Owings Mills included offensive linemen Ramon Harewood (knee) and Ryan Jensen (leg), wide receivers Tommy Streeter (heat-related), Marlon Brown (knee), and LaQuan Williams (arm), and linebacker Spencer Adkins (undisclosed).

According to The Sun, the sixth-round linemen Jensen suffered a broken foot and will undergo surgery to repair the damage. This development will presumably land the Colorado State-Pueblo product on season-ending injured reserve, which would be a convenient way for the Ravens to keep Jensen in the organization.

Linebacker Jameel McClain (neck) was absent and remains on the physically unable to perform list along with Yanda while rookie defensive end Kapron Lewis-Moore (knee) was present but not working while remaining on the non-football injury list.

Defensive tackle Haloti Ngata tweaked his knee during an 11-on-11 session at the end of practice, but coach John Harbaugh confirmed that it wasn’t a concern after the Pro Bowl lineman was seen flexing his left knee on the sideline. Ngata walked to the sideline gingerly after appearing to be rolled up by another player in the offensive backfield.

Tight end Dennis Pitta, of course, has been ruled out for the season after suffering a dislocated hip.

Inside linebacker Daryl Smith (groin) and fullback Kyle Juszczyk (foot) were both practicing despite being nicked up in Sunday’s workout.

Pitta MRI yields positive results

As the Ravens accept the reality of Pitta being lost for the season, an MRI on the tight end’s surgically-repaired dislocated hip revealed good news for his long-term prognosis in making it back to the field.

Harbaugh reiterated that nothing has changed in terms of Pitta being sidelined for the entire 2013 season, but he could begin the rehab process in six to eight weeks.

“Basically, the ball was pushed out of the socket and pushed backwards,” Harbaugh said. “It’s an injury that happens a lot of times in car accidents. He got his knee caught up under him in an awkward way when he fell. I think there are only eight documented cases of this injury in football that I’ve read about.”

With the memory of former Los Angeles Raiders running back Bo Jackson suffering a similar injury and developing avascular necrosis, which is the premature cellular death of bone components due to the interruption of blood supply. It resulted in Jackson needing to have his hip replaced, which ended his NFL career prematurely.

The vigilant decision to get Pitta to surgery and the details offered by Harbaugh provide a positive outlook that Pitta will be able to continue his career next season after an extensive rehab process in the coming months.

“The good news is that there’s a fracture, but it’s in the back part of the bone,” Harbaugh said. “It’s in the big part of the bone, and it’s a very tight fracture. So, it didn’t move at all. There’s no ligament damage, no cartilage damage. It’s a clean break if you want to use that term.”

Camp highlights

The starting defense continued the early-camp trend of dominating over the offense as quarterback Joe Flacco once again played behind a makeshift offensive line missing Yanda and Osemele. Jah Reid and Antoine McClain served as the first-team guards with Gino Gradkowski and A.Q. Shipley splitting time at the center position with the first unit.

Outside linebackers Terrell Suggs and Elvis Dumervil put pressure on the Baltimore signal-caller several times as the offensive line struggled to hold up at the point of attack and receivers struggled to consistently gain separation.

One of the highlight plays of the afternoon came from rookie safety Matt Elam, who nearly intercepted a Flacco pass intended for Tandon Doss in the end zone while showing good athleticism to make a leaping deflection.

Tight end Ed Dickson made a sparkling 25-yard catch down the middle of the field for one of the lone offensive highlights of 11-on-11 drills.

Defensive players were rewarded with ice cream after winning Monday’s battle as two ice cream trucks drove onto the field in the closing minutes of the afternoon practice. Nose tackle Terrence Cody offered the memorable quote of the day to Osemele, using his best Forrest Gump voice while saying, “K.O., ice cream!”

The Ravens are off on Tuesday before returning to the field for a full-squad workout on Wednesday afternoon.

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Pitta done for season with dislocated hip

Posted on 27 July 2013 by Glenn Clark

OWINGS MILLS – The Baltimore Ravens suffered a major blow during practice Saturday.

“Dennis (Pitta) has a dislocated hip” head coach John Harbaugh announced following practice. “We’ll have to take a look at that and see exactly what it is. It’s a serious injury. He’s going to be out for awhile, he will not be in the Denver game (Week 1). We’ll just have to play it from there to see how long it goes.”

ESPN reported Saturday night that Pitta, who was transported to a local hospital and underwent surgery immediately, is expected to miss the entire season.

The injury occurred after the tight end collided with S James Ihedigbo on a pass play in the back of the end zone. Saturday’s practice was the first padded practice of this year’s Training Camp.

The injury is a major blow for the Baltimore Ravens, who traded WR Anquan Boldin to the San Francisco 49ers in the offseason. Pitta had been hoped to build on his 2012 season (61 catches, 669 yards, seven touchdowns) to help replace Boldin.

Ed Dickson, Billy Bajema and rookie Matt Furstenburg all saw snaps with the first team offense after Pitta’s departure. Free agent TE Visanthe Shiancoe (Morgan State) visited the Ravens’ facility earlier in the week but did not sign. Rookie FB Kyle Juszczek could also be asked to help out in the process, especially if the Ravens were to re-sign current free agent FB Vonta Leach as the Newark Star-Ledger reported Thursday night they are expected to do.

Offensive Coordinator Jim Caldwell suggested the Ravens would continue their “next man up” mentality.

“Somebody’s going to have to step up and we do have some capable guys. All across the flanks we do have some weapons. We’re just going to have to have some guys make some plays for us.”

Dickson-a fellow fourth year tight end-moves to the top of the tight end depth chart in Pitta’s absence. Dickson told WNST.net “it’s on me to go out there and build chemistry with (QB) Joe (Flacco) and to do the things that I do to the best of my ability.”

Dickson also told WNST.net he sent Pitta a text after practice saying “Keep your head up…the injury’s not going to hold you down. We need you. Praying for you…I’m holding down the fort for you.”

Dickson’s 2012 numbers were disappointing as he fought through injuries. The tight end played in just 13 games and caught 21 balls for 225 yards without a touchdown grab. “Ed has been playing and performing extremely well” Caldwell said. “He’s had a good camp thus far. He’s moving well, he’s catching the ball for us, he has a lot of big play potential. Ed is a very capable guy. We’re going to have to have some other guys step up as well.

According to the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons, a dislocated hip usually takes upwards of 2-3 months for recovery and rehabilitation.

Making matters worse for the Ravens is their lack of depth at receiver as well. Without Boldin, only Torrey Smith and Jacoby Jones have more than even 123 career receiving yards. Doss has those 123, David Reed 66, Deonte Thompson 51, LaQuan Williams 46. Neither Tommy Streeter nor rookie Aaron Mellette has ever played in a NFL game.

YANDA REMAINS OUT: Despite being removed from the Physically Unable to Perform (PUP) list Friday, OL Marshal Yanda (shoulder) was not present Saturday, but is expected to return shortly. S Anthony Levine (shoulder) was on the practice for a second straight day after being removed from the PUP list. LB Jameel McClain (back) remains on the PUP list and did not practice Saturday.

OT Bryant McKinnie (conditioning) left practice early Friday as coach John Harbaugh had concerns for how he’d hold up in the heat, he was back on the practice field Saturday afternoon. OL Kelechi Osemele (hamstring) and Ryan Jensen (leg) were not present for Saturday’s practice. WR LaQuan Williams (arm) and Marlon Brown (knee) were not present as well.

DL Kapron Lewis-Moore (knee) remains on the non-football injury list and is not expected to practice during Training Camp.

OTHER PRACTICE NOTES: S Omar Brown appears to have switched jersey numbers, going from number 38 to number 31.

K Justin Tucker stood out during Saturday’s practice, including makes from 60 yards and 65 yards out. After the make from 65, Tucker let out an exclamation of “Come on!”

LB Terrell Suggs had the quote of the day. After making a tackle on a goal line stop against the first team offense, Suggs yelled out “Where the f*ck is Vonta Leach when you need him?”

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Early Injuries Shuffle the Ravens Offensive Line in Camp

Posted on 26 July 2013 by WNST Staff

Day 2 of Ravens Training Camp held some big storylines, especially concerning the Offensive Line. The team’s Super Bowl run in 2012 was predicated on the blocking emergence of a unit that was shuffled all season long. With Bryant McKinnie reinserted into that core, Baltimore seemed to find the best fit for its five lineman; as Kelechi Osemele moved to Guard and Michael Oher transitioned back to RT.

The team already had concerns at Center, with the retirement of Matt Birk, but it was expected Gino Gradkowski would be handed the starting job. Though, with the acquisition of former Colt, A.Q. Shipley, the competition seems to be in full swing. Both split time throughout drills on Friday, yet Shipley was in place with the first team for most of the 11-on-11 portion of practice. Shipley also saw some time next to Gradkowski, filling in at Guard. You can hear Gradkowski’s thoughts on the competition here, in a interview with Glenn Clark, on the Reality Check, after Friday’s practice.

The key concern for the next couple weeks will be the health of both starting Guards, Marshal Yanda and Kelechi Osemele. Yanda was placed on the PUP list, but passed his physical on Friday, making a return in the upcoming days likely. On the other side, Osemele was held out of Thursday’s 2nd practice and was a no-show on Friday, with concerns of a hamstring injury.

In the place of the those two standouts, were several combinations of players varying in experience. Jah Reid took the most snaps at LG (Osemele’s position) with the first team, while RG was a mixed bag of former practice squad players and rookies. Ryan Jensen, a 6th round pick out of Colorado State-Pueblo, initially spent time with the first team, until he was shook up with a leg “tweak,” during running game drills. As mentioned before, A.Q. Shipley filled in at one point, but Ramon Harewood covered the position, while Shipley played Center. Jack Cornell and Antoine McClain also rotated in that spot at points during practice.

It may not be an actual injury, but there still has to be concern at the LT position as well. Though Bryant McKinnie was cleared to practice on Friday, after being sat down Thursday for “conditioning issues,” he did not see much time on the field. He was involved in all position drills, but was held out in most the team exercises (7-on-7, 11-on-11, Two Minute). Rookie fifth round pick, Ricky Wagner (from Wisconsin), settled in with the first team, while McKinnie was on the sidelines. He performed admirably against Elvis Dumervil, but did struggle against the former Defensive Player of the Year, Terrell Suggs.

The key acquisition for the line may be having Offensive Assistant, Juan Castillo, around for an entire season. He not only brought an intensity to practice, but was pulling players aside between plays. Castillo was recognized as one of the best Offensive Line coaches in the league, while in Philadelphia (before his failed experiment calling defensive plays), where he utilized big men in the trenches to control the defensive front 7. He has plenty of size on this roster to play with and can be a real asset in developing some of the younger players on the team.

By the end of practice, the first team Offensive Line looked as follows: LT-Wagner, LG-Reid, C-Shipley, RG-Harewood, RT-Oher. That is vastly different than last season’s Super Bowl winners and the expectation for the starters, come Week 1.

Side Notes:

The defensive rookie class of Matt Elam, Arthur Brown and Brandon Williams all worked with the second team, even though there is high expectations for that trio.

Chykie Brown worked in with the first team, essentially holding down Lardarius Webb’s spot until he is ready to participate in practice.

Torrey Smith had to leave the field at one point, during 7-on-7 drills, with an apparent lower leg/ankle/foot injury. He did have a noticeable limp for the rest of practice, but continued to participate, until the end.

The defensive line showed some versatility, during Two-Minute drills, where OLB Courtney Upshaw and DE Pernell McPhee lined up inside at the DT spots; Dumervil and Suggs held down the DE positions, in that alignment.

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McKinnie returns to practice, Osemele sits out Friday

Posted on 26 July 2013 by Luke Jones

(This blog brought to you by Atlantic Remodeling. Visit www.atlanticremodeling.com to learn about their Red Cent Guarantee!)

The first-day drama surrounding left tackle Bryant McKinnie has appeared to resolve itself to some degree for the Ravens.

According to WNST.net colleague Brett Dickinson, the veteran offensive lineman returned to the practice field on the second day of full-squad workouts after being held out Thursday by coach John Harbaugh, who told reporters McKinnie was “too heavy” to practice. The 33-year-old was believed to be carrying 10 pounds more than the team preferred, but the overall sense in Owings Mills was that McKinnie would be able to shed the weight quickly.

McKinnie’s return was good news because starting left guard Kelechi Osemele sat out Friday’s practice as he tweaked his hamstring a day earlier. The second-year lineman was playing in McKinnie’s place at left tackle before he was stretched out on the sideline and was seen with an ice pack on the back of his right leg while watching the second half of the workout. The injury was not believed to be serious and his absence on Friday was likely precautionary.

Other players missing from Friday’s practice included wide receiver Marlon Brown, cornerback Asa Jackson, linebacker Jameel McClain (neck), and right guard Marshal Yanda (shoulder). McClain and Yanda remain on the active physically unable to perform list.

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Kelechi Osemele: A Star In The Making

Posted on 10 July 2013 by brianbower

The Baltimore Ravens may have found gold in Kelechi Osemele when the team selected him 60th overall in the 2012 NFL Draft.

Most players selected in the second-round may take a year or so to groom to become NFL ready at their respective position. Not K.O. The tackle/guard out of Iowa State who had one of the most impressive rookie seasons and provided a security blanket for quarterback Joe Flacco.

The 6ft. 5in. 335lb gentle giant started all 16 regular season games at right tackle during his rookie campaign. Osemele helped a Ravens offense score the most points (398) in franchise history and the second-most total yards (5,640) in team history. Kelechi’s pass protection of Flacco is just one of the many strengths he possesses. He is a solid run blocker as well and helped pave the way for Ray Rice and Bernard Pierce to both rush for 100+ yards against the New York Giants.

Perhaps Osemele’s most impressive accomplishment was the seamless way he switched from right tackle to left guard during the Ravens postseason run to the Super Bowl. That move coupled with the insertion of Bryant McKinnie at left tackle made the Ravens offensive line dominant. Baltimore had offensive outputs of 439 (Indy), 479 (Denver), 356 (Pats) and 367 (49ers) total yards of offense along the way to claim their second Lombardi Trophy in team history.

During that remarkable postseason run the Ravens offensive line allowed just six sacks in four games. With Flacco’s new deal in place and the return of Bryant McKinnie the Ravens are poised to start the season where they left off. The retirement of center Matt Birk is the only question mark however Gino Gradkowski seems like a decent fit and will only get better with reps.

For now though Osemele will go about his business quietly and work hard through training camp and no doubt become another shining star on the Ravens offensive line.

 

Follow me on Twitter @sportguyrsr

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Interesting post-draft roster decisions with early look at 2013 Ravens depth chart

Posted on 29 April 2013 by Luke Jones

With the 2013 NFL Draft in the rear-view mirror, general manager Ozzie Newsome and the Ravens can now begin looking at the offseason roster with a clearer picture of what they’ll have when they travel to Denver for the Sept. 5 season opener.

Of course, there will be a few more additions or subtractions of some consequence between now and the start of training camp in late July, but any drastic changes are unlikely with the Ravens holding just under $4 million in salary cap space.

The Ravens will likely use some of that remaining cap room to address offensive tackle after only coming away with Wisconsin tackle Ricky Wagner in the fifth round of the draft. The Badgers left tackle will likely be moved inside to guard as it’s not believed that his feet are quick enough to handle the position at the next level, meaning Kelechi Osemele is still in line to be the team’s starting left tackle if the season were to begin now.

The obvious veteran still on the free-agent market is left tackle Bryant McKinnie, who has remained in touch with the Ravens this offseason but visited with the Miami Dolphins on Sunday. The 33-year-old McKinnie told WNST.net in a text message that the only post-draft contact he’s had from the Ravens came with run-game coordinator Juan Castillo and right tackle Michael Oher.

A CBSSports.com report said McKinnie is also scheduled to visit with the San Diego Chargers, but the 11-year veteran provided his own update on the visit with the Dolphins on Monday afternoon.

“Just finished a good day of meetings & workouts!” McKinnie wrote on his official Twitter account. “This was the gear of choice 4 2day! Nothing final…”

Even if McKinnie signs elsewhere and Osemele ultimately receives the nod to protect quarterback Joe Flacco’s blindside, you’d expect the Ravens to at least add another veteran tackle since Jah Reid and Ramon Harewood would then factor heavily into the competition for the starting left guard spot. With no other additions, Oher would clearly be the replacement for Osemele in the event of an injury, but that would open a huge hole on the right side of the line.

Fullback is another interesting position to watch after the Ravens drafted Harvard fullback Kyle Juszczyk with their second fourth-round pick on Saturday. All things being equal, you wouldn’t expect the rookie to supplant three-time Pro Bowl fullback Vonta Leach, but the veteran’s hefty cap figure puts him at the top of the list of potential cuts should an opportunity to add a pricier veteran arise between now and the start of the season.

Newsome was asked following the conclusion of the draft what Jusczcyk’s selection meant for Leach’s future, but the Ravens executive didn’t exactly provide a guarantee that Leach would be opening running lanes for Ray Rice and Bernard Pierce in 2013. Baltimore won’t cut Leach for the sake of simply saving $3 million in cap space, but if they need more cap space to address another need such tackle or wide receiver, the Ravens won’t hesitate to give Jusczcyk the starting job.

“We want to make decisions based on how guys perform out on the football field,” Newsome said. “We’re going to get Kyle in here, and the thing we like about Kyle other than his ability to play on the offensive side is we expect him to be a very good special-teams contributor. Could there be a place for both of them? Yes, there could be, because as John and I try to put our 53-man squad together, we want to keep the best 53 players.”

Troubled inside linebacker Rolando McClain remains with the Ravens as of Monday afternoon, but you have to wonder how much shorter his leash became after the selection of Kansas State linebacker Arthur Brown. Considering the Ravens traded up in the second round to select Brown in fear of another team taking him before their scheduled pick at 62nd overall, you’d expect that coach John Harbaugh envisions him to be a starter from Day 1.

To this point, the Ravens have said all the polite things about McClain’s latest arrest on April 21 and his right to due process, but the need to keep an average player with such baggage diminished greatly after adding one of the top inside linebackers in this year’s draft class. You have to wonder if McClain will even make it to training camp at this point, or whether he’ll be able to keep himself out of trouble between now and then.

“He is one of the 90,” Newsome said on the final day of the draft. “We’re going to make the determination, starting Sunday, who we think is going to be on our top 53. We’ll start making those decisions. It’s going to be some tough decisions, but as of right now, Rolando is still a part of our football team.”

Below is an all-too-early look at the 2013 depth chart, which doesn’t include undrafted rookie free agents until the full list is officially announced by the Ravens. High draft picks such as Matt Elam and Brown are viewed more favorably than lower-round selections like Ryan Jensen and Aaron Mellette in terms of where they rank on the current depth chart. In many cases, roster holdovers from previous seasons have been given the nod over rookies with the full understanding that some — if not many — will be supplanted.

Teams are allowed to have a maximum of 90 players on their offseason roster.

Projected post-draft 2013 depth chart

Offense
QB: Joe Flacco, Tyrod Taylor, Caleb Hanie
RB: Ray Rice, Bernard Pierce, Anthony Allen, Bobby Rainey, Damien Berry, Lonyae Miller
FB: Vonta Leach, Kyle Juszczyk
WR: Torrey Smith, David Reed, LaQuan Williams, Aaron Mellette
WR: Jacoby Jones, Tandon Doss, Deonte Thompson, Tommy Streeter, Tori Gurley
TE: Dennis Pitta, Ed Dickson, Alex Silvestro
LT: Kelechi Osemele
LG: Jah Reid, Ramon Harewood, Antoine McClain
C: Gino Gradkowski, Ryan Jensen, Reggie Stephens
RG: Marshal Yanda, Ricky Wagner, Jack Cornell
RT: Michael Oher, David Mims

Defense
DE: Chris Canty, Pernell McPhee, DeAngelo Tyson, Kapron Lewis-Moore
NT: Haloti Ngata, Terrence Cody, Brandon Williams
DT: Arthur Jones, Marcus Spears, Swanson Miller
Rush: Terrell Suggs, John Simon, Michael McAdoo
Will: Arthur Brown, Rolando McClain, Albert McClellan, D.J. Bryant
Mike: Jameel McClain, Josh Bynes, Bryan Hall, Nigel Carr
Sam: Elvis Dumervil, Courtney Upshaw, Adrian Hamilton, Spencer Adkins
LCB: Lardarius Webb, Chykie Brown, Chris Johnson, Marc Anthony
SS: Matt Elam, James Ihedigbo, Christian Thompson
FS: Michael Huff, Emanuel Cook, Omar Brown, Anthony Levine
RCB: Corey Graham, Jimmy Smith, Asa Jackson

Special Teams
K: Justin Tucker
P: Sam Koch
LS: Morgan Cox
KR: Jacoby Jones, David Reed, Deonte Thompson
PR: Jacoby Jones, Tandon Doss, Lardarius Webb

 

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Bring Back B-Mac

Posted on 29 April 2013 by Thyrl Nelson

 

When it comes to the relationship between the Ravens and left tackle Bryant McKinnie, there’s a lot of water under the bridge, and it’s probably fair to guess that neither side is feeling a whole lot of trust in or loyalty to the other. That, said, it’s becoming more and more clear with each passing day of the NFL off-season that McKinnie and the Ravens need each other.

 

It’s not as though the Ravens failure to land a starting left tackle in the draft should be a surprise to anyone. Sitting with the 32nd pick overall makes it tough to put together the type of package that could get a team into a position to land a tackle in whom they could have a lot of faith right away. That may have been even truer in this year’s draft where the top tackles were flying off the board in spots usually reserved for quarterbacks and franchise changing play makers.

The debate over where Joe Flacco fits in the hierarchy of NFL quarterback talent has been raging since Flacco’s first season in the league, and a Super Bowl MVP and a $100 million contract have only helped to add fuel to the arguments on both sides.

Clearly Flacco’s regular season statistics don’t measure up against the NFL’s “best of the best” at the QB position. On the other side of the argument however, throughout his career Flacco has seen at least a 40% turnover on his offensive line each year, and substantial turnover at the receiver position too. Chemistry certainly means something when formulating a complex NFL passing offense, and the Ravens haven’t prioritized fostering chemistry for their young franchise QB.

Ironically, it was a shake up on the offensive line to begin the playoffs that, perhaps more than any other factor, set the tone for the Ravens successful run to a Super Bowl title last season. The promotion of McKinnie to the starting left tackle improved the offensive line exponentially by moving Michael Oher to right tackle where he was an upgrade over Kelechi Osemele, and by moving the displaced Osemele to the left guard where he too was an upgrade over the revolving door of “answers” the Ravens had fielded at that spot throughout the regular season. Understandably, any move at left tackle for the Ravens that involves Oher moving from right tackle and/or Osemele moving from left guard will be seen as taking multiple steps back. The retirement of center Matt Birk only serves to compound those concerns.

Ravens GM Ozzie Newsome has earned the trust of the fans, and reinforced that trust this off-season with a number of “game changing” acquisitions. After experiencing a substantial defection/exile of talent in the early stages of the off-season, redemption came quickly for the Ravens GM via the additions of a number of talented veterans. Unfortunately for the Ravens new $100 million man Flacco, all of those pick-ups came on the defensive side of the ball.

The secondary market has typically been good to the Ravens and to Ozzie Newsome. Every year as players find their way to new locations through free agency and the draft, a number of other players become displaced by those acquisitions. The Ravens have been good at finding serviceable, even high level talent on this secondary market, especially during the Joe Flacco / John Harbaugh era. With the number of left tackles available in free agency and early in the draft it seemed logical to wait and see what kind of secondary tackle market might develop. Now that the dust has settled though, outside of Roger Saffold (Rams) and maybe King Dunlap (Eagles), the secondary market on left tackles doesn’t look quite as promising as one might have hoped. And let’s face it, if Saffold and Dunlap were sure things their teams probably wouldn’t have been so anxious to replace them.

The market for McKinnie has been slow to non-existent too, so it appears that the time has come for the Ravens and McKinnie to swallow a bit of pride and find their ways back to one another. It doesn’t seem that either have any better options. Then the Ravens can focus on the business of trying to find a 2nd and/or 3rd receiver candidate that’ll hopefully provide more upside than TJ Houshmandzadeh or Lee Evans…unless they believe that Tandon Doss is more ready to break out than he’s shown to this point in his NFL career.

Here’s a quick look at the Ravens revolving door of pass blockers and pass catchers during the Joe Flacco era:

LT: 08-Gaither, 09- Gaither, 10 – Oher, 11 – McKinnie, 12 – Oher, 12 (PO) – McKinnie 13 – ?

LG: 08- Grubbs, 09- Grubbs, 10- Grubbs, 11- Grubbs/ Gurode, 12 – Harewood, Reid, 12 (PO) – Osemele, 13 – ?

C: 08- Brown, 09- Birk, 10- Birk, 11- Birk, 12 – Birk, 13 – Gradkowski

RG: 08- Chester/Yanda, 09- Chester/Yanda, 10- Chester, 11- Yanda, 12 – Yanda, 13 – Yanda

RT: 08- Adam Terry/ Willie Anderson (TE), 09- Oher, 10- Yanda, 11-Oher, 12 – Osemele, 12 (PO) – Oher, 13 – ?

FB: 08- Neal, 09- McClain, 10- McClain, 11- Leach, 12 – Leach, 13 – Leach?

RB: 08- McGahee/McClain, 09- Rice/McGahee, 10- Rice/McGahee, 11- Rice/Williams, 12 – Rice/Pierce

TE: 08- Heap/Anderson 09- Heap, 10- Heap/Dickson, 11- Dickson/Pitta, 12 – Pitta/Dickson, 13 – Pitta/Dickson

WR1: 08- Mason, 09- Mason, 10- Mason/Boldin , 11- Boldin, 12 – Boldin, 13 – Smith

WR2: 08- Clayton, 09- Clayton, 10- Mason/Boldin, 11- T. Smith, 12 – Smith, 13 – Jones

WR3: 08- Williams, 09- Clayton, 10- Houshmandzadeh, 11- Evans/L.Williams?, 12 – Jones, 13 – Doss?

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