Tag Archive | "Ken Hamlin"

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Live From Owings Mills: Personnel Questions Persist Three Days Before Ravens Face Jets

Posted on 10 September 2010 by Glenn Clark

OWINGS MILLS, Md. — Just three days away from their season opener against the New York Jets, there were still a handful of questions surrounding the Baltimore Ravens as they returned to work Friday at 1 Winning Drive.

With OT Jared Gaither (back) ruled out for Monday’s game, there are multiple possibilities as to what the team will do at RT on Monday Night Football. Oniel Cousins (concussion) was listed as a full participant in practice Wednesday, but told reporters he “didn’t know” if he’d be able to start in East Rutherford. He also admitted that while listed as a full participant, he “didn’t do everything” in practice as he continues to battle headaches. Cousins was again listed as a full participant Friday.

Should Cousins not be able to play-or start-when the Ravens invade New Meadowlands Stadium, Offensive Coordinator Cam Cameron  says the Ravens have “options” at the position. Tony Moll started against both the Washington Redskins and New York Giants during the preseason, and G Marshal Yanda has been taking snaps at RT this week in case he’s needed to make the shift.

Another question facing the Ravens comes at Punt Returner, where Special Teams Coordinator Jerry Rosburg said Friday the team has a “number of guys who can do that job.” S Tom Zbikowski is listed as the #1 option on the team’s official depth chart; but CB’s Chris Carr and Lardarius Webb were also seen fielding punts during practice Friday. RB Ray Rice had been seen fielding punts earlier in the week as well.

Zbikowski and Carr are the team’s top options, but both are expected to start on defense Monday night in New Jersey. Zbikowski will start for Ed Reed (who is on the reserve PUP list with a hip/groin issue) and Carr is expected to start alongside Fabian Washington with Josh Wilson as the nickel back. It would not be surprising to see both Carr and Zbikowski get chances to return punts in the opener.

A third question surrounds the status of Webb. Head coach John Harbaugh said the team wasn’t “anticipating” Webb (knee) to be available Monday when he spoke this week on his weekly radio show, but Defensive Coordinator Greg Mattison praised the work Webb has done Friday. Mattison said Webb was “a lot closer” to returning. Webb returned to practice August 23rd, and was listed as a full participant on the team’s initial injury report Thursday. Webb was again listed as a full participant Friday.

However, Webb did not play in any of the team’s preseason games and had been held out of contract drills in recent days.

Another question surrounding the Ravens has to do with which eight players will be inactive for Monday night’s game. Gaither, DT Terrence Cody (knee) and WR Donte’ Stallworth (foot) have already been ruled out for the game. Webb is another candidate to be scratched, as is DE Paul Kruger (shoulder) who did not participate in practice Thursday but was back on the practice field Friday afternoon, where he was listed as a limited participant.

Other potential candidates to be scratched include TE Dennis Pitta, WR’s David Reed & Marcus Smith, DT’s Arthur Jones and Lamar Divens, LB’s Edgar Jones, Prescott Burgess and Jason Phillips, CB Bryan McCann and S Ken Hamlin. It is worth noting that of that group; Reed, Smith, Jones, Burgess, McCann and Hamlin are expected to have very significant roles on Special Teams.

NOTES: Hear from Cameron, Mattison, Rosburg and Cousins NOW in the BuyAToyota.com Audio Vault at WNST.net……McCann joined Drew Forrester Friday morning on “The Morning Reaction” on AM1570 WNST, that interview is also available in the Audio Vault……The Ravens will practice again Saturday, with Harbaugh scheduled to address the media following practice. They will then hold a walkthrough Sunday (closed to the media) before heading to East Rutherford……The Jets removed DE Shaun Ellis (knee) from their injury report, he was listed as “limited” Thursday. S Brodney Pool (ankle) improved from not participating to limited……Harbaugh’s first weekly press conference will be Tuesday at 4pm. Press conferences will be at 4pm Monday when the Ravens play games on Sunday.

-G

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Ravens Announce Final 53* Players to Make Roster

Posted on 04 September 2010 by Glenn Clark

The Baltimore Ravens made multiple moves today to trim their roster from 75 active players to 53.

The team announced they have placed DT Kelly Talavou (knee), OT David Hale (back), OT Stefan Rodgers (ankle and OT Ramon Harewood (knee) on Injured Reserve, ending their 2010 season. The team also moved S Ed Reed from the Active PUP list to the Reserve PUP list. LB Antwan Barnes was traded to the Philadelphia Eagles for a pick in the 2011 NFL Draft.

The team also cut an additional 15 players: TE Davon Drew, S/CB K.J. Gerard, WR Justin Harper, CB Chris Hawkins, CB Brad Jones, OL Bryan Mattison, DE/LB Albert McClellan, OT Joe Reitz, WR Eron Riley, QB Troy Smith, RB Curtis Steele, OT Devin Tyler, WR Demetrius Williams, CB Travis Fisher and K Shayne Graham.

The team actually has 54 players currently on the roster, as CB Cary Williams does not count against the roster for the first two weeks while suspended. Here is the Ravens roster:

QB’s (2)
Joe Flacco
Marc Bulger

RB’s (4)
Ray Rice
Willis McGahee
Le’Ron McClain
Jalen Parmele

TE’s (3)
Todd Heap
Ed Dickson
Dennis Pitta

WR’s (6)
Anquan Boldin
Derrick Mason
Mark Clayton
Marcus Smith
David Reed
Donte’ Stallworth* (expected to miss 8 or more weeks)

OL (8)
Michael Oher
Ben Grubbs
Matt Birk
Marshal Yanda
Jared Gaither
Chris Chester
Tony Moll
Oniel Cousins

DL (9)
Haloti Ngata
Trevor Pryce
Cory Redding
Kelly Gregg
Terrence Cody
Brandon McKinney
Arthur Jones
Lamar Divens
Paul Kruger

LB’s (9)
Ray Lewis
Terrell Suggs
Jarret Johnson
Jameel McClain
Tavares Gooden
Dannell Ellerbe
Prescott Burgess
Jason Phillips
Edgar Jones

CB’s (6*)
Fabian Washington
Chris Carr
Josh Wilson
Lardarius Webb
Prince Miller
Cary Williams* (Does not count against roster)

S’s (4)
Dawan Landry
Tom Zbikowski
Haruki Nakamura
Ken Hamlin

ST’s (3)
Sam Koch
Morgan Cox
Billy Cundiff

The Ravens can add eight players to their practice squad Sunday.

Here are Ozzie Newsome’s thoughts on the decision to cut Troy Smith and carry just two quarterbacks: “The competition to make our team was very heated, and we decided to keep a position player rather than a third quarterback. We have a number of young guys who made our team who have tremendous upside, plus they can help us win this year. We’ve gone with two quarterbacks before (last time was 2006).”

Here are John Harbaugh’s thoughts on Billy Cundiff making the team ahead of Shayne Graham: “First, congratulations to Billy. He won a great competition, and he earned this spot. We’ve talked about this the entire preseason: Both Billy and Shayne rose to the occasion and performed at high levels. We know Shayne will kick in the league, but we feel very good about the decision to go with Billy.”

-G

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Ravens Cutdown Day Notes: What We Know Thus Far

Posted on 04 September 2010 by Glenn Clark

3:15pm update: I figured we should take a look at the roster, based on what we know/assume:

(Edit from GMC: When I say “DEFINITELY”, I am saying that either based on the fact that a player was never on the bubble to begin with, or based on news we have heard today.)

There are DEFINITELY 2 QB’s on the roster (Joe Flacco, Marc Bulger)
There are DEFINITELY 4 RB’s on the roster (Ray Rice, Willis McGahee, Le’Ron McClain, Jalen Parmele)
There are DEFINITELY 5 WR’s on the roster (Anquan Boldin, Derrick Mason, Mark Clayton, David Reed, Donte’ Stallworth)
There are DEFINITELY 3 TE’s on the roster (Todd Heap, Ed Dickson, Dennis Pitta)
There are DEFINITELY 9 OL’s on the roster (Michael Oher, Jared Gaither, Matt Birk, Ben Grubbs, Marshal Yanda, Chris Chester, Oniel Cousins, Tony Moll, Ramon Harewood)
There are DEFINITELY 8 DL’s on the roster (Haloti Ngata, Kelly Gregg, Trevor Pryce, Cory Redding, Terrence Cody, Brandon McKinney, Arthur Jones, Paul Kruger)
There are DEFINITELY 6 LB’s on the roster (Ray Lewis, Terrell Suggs, Jarret Johnson, Jameel McClain, Dannell Ellerbe, Tavares Gooden)
There are DEFINITELY 4 CB’s on the roster (Fabian Washington, Chris Carr, Josh Wilson, Lardarius Webb)
There are DEFINITELY 3 S’s on the roster (Dawan Landry, Tom Zbikowski, Haruki Nakamura)
There are DEFINITELY 3 ST’s on the roster (Sam Koch, Morgan Cox, Billy Cundiff)

So as of right now, 47 of 53 roster spots are spoken for. Players on the list above could still be traded away (like Antwan Barnes was earlier today). But if not, six jobs would still be available. The bubble players who have not been accounted for include:

QB Troy Smith, WR Demetrius Williams, WR Marcus Smith, OT Joe Reitz, DT Lamar Divens, LB Prescott Burgess, LB Jason Phillips, S KJ Gerard, S Ken Hamlin.

The Ravens could also acquire other players before 6pm.

2:50pm update: A reminder that the Ravens will NOT be having formal media availability today with Ozzie Newsome or John Harbaugh. Instead, we will merely get an official release from the team at 6pm, and Harbaugh will be made available to the media again Monday.

Curtis Steele did not have any realistic chance of making the 53 man roster, but NFP confirms he indeed was cut. Like the others we mentioned below, he’s a very realistic practice squad candidate.

Oh-and Trice Capra lost 6-0, 6-0. What’s worse? CBS says she’s considering a scholarship offer from Duke. Apparently she doesn’t think there’s a future with Glenn Clark.

1:45pm update: National Football Post now reports that the Ravens have placed both OL David Hale (tailbone) and DT Kelly Talavou (ACL) on IR. Hale is not surprising at all, but Talavou is. Talavou was hurt in Thursday night’s loss to the St. Louis Rams; coach John Harbaugh declined to comment on the injury when asked by media assembled in Owings Mills Friday.

Hale’s injury likely paved the way for Ramon Harewood to make the roster. Chris Chester now defaults back to being the team’s backup center as well as the 3rd guard.

Talavou’s injury likely helped Arthur Jones make the roster. Still no word yet re: Lamar Divens; there’s an outside chance it could help him make the roster as well.

Also, RB/KR Jalen Parmele was probably never even “on the bubble”, but a NFL source tells me he’s safe. Now you know.

And one more thing-Baltimore’s Trice Capra lost the first set 6-0 to Maria Sharapova. I might start drinking early today.
————————–
It’s 1pm, and I’m overwhelmed by the amount of college football and U.S. Open tennis on TV today. That being said, there are a number of moves being made by the Baltimore Ravens today as they work towards the NFL deadline to have 53 players on their active roster. Here’s what we know thus far…

-National Football Post has reported that K Shayne Graham has been cut and K Billy Cundiff has won the kicking battle. There could be a number of factors (both football and non-football related) involved with this move. Football-wise, Cundiff had hung with Graham throughout Training Camp on field goals, and appeared to get more distance than Graham on kickoffs. Outside of football, there were some off-field concerns with Graham-and he almost certainly would have made more money than Cundiff.

-WNST.net first reported (follow us on Twitter @WNST) that rookie DT Arthur Jones had made the team. No word on other bubble players on the D-Line, including DT’s Kelly Talavou and Lamar Divens. DT Brandon McKinney was not believed to be on the bubble.

-NFP also reported earlier in the day that rookie OT Ramon Harewood had made the team. This was more than a bit surprising, but could reflect the injury issues the Ravens currently have on the O-Line. With OT Jared Gaither a question mark (back), OT Oniel Cousins (concussion) just getting back to the practice field Friday and OL David Hale (tailbone) still an IR possibility-the team may just well need the depth.

-The Ravens have announced they have traded LB Antwan Barnes to the Philadelphia Eagles for a pick in the 2011 NFL Draft. This is also surprising, as the Ravens do not have tremendous depth at OLB. This could be good news for one of the bubble guys at ILB (Jason Phillips, Prescott Burgess) or OLB bubble man Edgar Jones. It could also reflect a belief that Sergio Kindle could be able to return this season; he is currently in Charm City meeting with neurologists. NFP says Phillips and Burgess are “probably safe.”

-ProFootballTalk/NBC Sports first reported CB Travis Fisher had been cut by the Ravens; while NFP reported Prince Miller had also been cut. This likely means good news for CB KJ Gerard and could also be good news for S Ken Hamlin. The Ravens confirmed yesterday that S Ed Reed would open the season on the Physically Unable to Perform (PUP) list.

-There have been rumors floating by ESPN and others regarding the status of QB Troy Smith-rumors have included Smith could be traded or released. There have also been rumors floating surrounding WR Marcus Smith, none have been confirmed. WR David Reed has made the team according to multiple sources.

-A number of other players have also been cut. WNST confirms WR Eron Riley was cut, while NFP reported TE Davon Drew, DE/LB Albert McClellan, TE Davon Drew, CB Chris Hawkins and OT Devin Tyler were cut. None were believed to be roster possibilities, but all could be practice squad options.

I will continue to update as updates are available.

-G

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Mocking The 53: One Final Preseason 53 Man Roster

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Mocking The 53: One Final Preseason 53 Man Roster

Posted on 04 September 2010 by Glenn Clark

The preseason is over and the Baltimore Ravens face a Saturday deadline to trim their roster to 53 players.

I said this after the loss to the St. Louis Rams was over, but it bears repeating. I have AGONIZED over putting together an only somewhat educated MOCK roster. I can’t IMAGINE how Ozzie Newsome, John Harbaugh, Eric DeCosta and George Kokinis are handling it.

Here’s what I said the first time I made this list…

“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.”

Here’s my final Mock 53…

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

No changes in this group. The Ravens hope they all remain in the Top 10 this season.

11. TE Todd Heap
12. DE Trevor Pryce
pryce
13. DL Cory Redding
14. CB Fabian Washington
15. FB Le’Ron McClain
16. OL Marshal Yanda
17. C Matt Birk
18. S Dawan Landry
19. S Tom Zbikowski
20. CB Josh Wilson

Former Maryland Terrapins CB Josh Wilson joins this group, as he’ll immediately be expected to make an impact at CB and possibly on Special Teams as well. He might not start against the New York Jets on September 13, but expect him to be on the field.

21. CB Chris Carr
22. P Sam Koch
koch
23. QB Marc Bulger
24. DT Kelly Gregg
25. S Haruki Nakamura
26. CB Lardarius Webb
27. TE Ed Dickson
28. WR Mark Clayton
29. OL Chris Chester
30. RB Willis McGahee

It’s a shame only one AFC punter can make the Pro Bowl, as Shane Lechler has sorta locked down the spot in recent years. Koch looks like he might be the type of player who could put together a season worthy of a trip to Hawaii.

31. OT Jared Gaither
gaither
32. DT Terrence Cody
33. LB Jameel McClain
34. LB Dannell Ellerbe
35. LB Tavares Gooden
36. LB Antwan Barnes
37. OL Tony Moll
38. RB Jalen Parmele
39. TE Dennis Pitta
40. DE Paul Kruger

Terrence Cody and Jared Gaither have both dropped, only because neither have been on the field. At this point, we can’t really expect either to be on the field at the Meadowlands for the Monday Night Football opener. When they get healthy, expect them both to climb.

41. DT Brandon McKinney
42. LS Morgan Cox
morgancox
43. DT Kelly Talavou
44. OT Oniel Cousins
45. K Shayne Graham
46. WR Demetrius Williams
47. QB Troy Smith
48. LB Prescott Burgess
49. WR Marcus Smith
50. S/CB KJ Gerard
51. DT Arthur Jones
52. WR David Reed
53. WR Donte’ Stallworth* (Will miss first 8 weeks of season with broken foot)

I think Shayne Graham’s experience gets him on the roster, but I’m 51-49 towards him at this point over Billy Cundiff. Demetrius Williams, Marcus Smith and David Reed are all on my roster-but seven receivers seems like an awful lot. Smith or Reed would be the odd man out if necessary. I think Troy Smith makes the roster. Not because teams HAVE to keep three quarterbacks, but because I think he’s a better player than Ken Hamlin, Travis Fisher or Prince Miller (to name a few). Prescott Burgess beats out Jason Phillips and Edgar Jones, Arthur Jones beats out Lamar Divens for the final spots on the roster in my book.

54. CB Cary Williams* (Suspended for 2 weeks, does not count against roster)

(CB Domonique Foxworth-IR)
(CB Marcus Paschal-IR)
(OL Daniel Sanders-IR)
(FB Mike McLaughlin-IR)
(LB Sergio Kindle-No contract/Expected PUP)
(LB Brendon Ayanbadejo-Starting season on Reserve PUP)
(RB Matt Lawrence-Starting season on Reserve PUP)
(S Ed Reed-Starting season on Reserve PUP)

edreed

55. K Billy Cundiff
56. OL David Hale (Possible IR)
davidhale
57. CB Travis Fisher
58. CB Prince Miller
59. LB Edgar Jones
60. LB Jason Phillips
61. S Ken Hamlin
62. DT Lamar Divens
63. OT Ramon Harewood (possible IR)
64. TE Davon Drew
65. OT Joe Reitz
66. WR Justin Harper
67. DE Albert McClellan
68. WR Eron Riley
69. RB Curtis Steele
70. OT Stefan Rodgers
71. OL Bryan Mattison
72. CB Brad Jones
73. CB Chris Hawkins
74. OT Devin Tyler

Here’s a stab at the 10 man practice squad:
Prince Miller,  Jason Phillips, Davon Drew, Joe Reitz, Eron Riley, Curtis Steele, Albert McClellan, Brad Jones, Stefan Rodgers, Bryan Mattison

Thoughts? Concerns? Comments?

We’ll know how it all shakes out shortly.

-G

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Ed Reed to begin season on PUP, miss first 6 weeks

Posted on 03 September 2010 by Luke Jones

After months of speculation regarding his status for the start of the 2010 season, Ed Reed will be placed on the reserve physically unable to perform list, meaning the Ravens will be without their All-Pro safety for at least the first six weeks of the regular season. The decision was first reported by the NFL Network’s Jason La Canfora on Friday night.

The soon-to-be 32-year-old Reed missed all of training camp and the preseason after undergoing hip surgery to repair a torn labrum in the offseason. Despite occasionally doing agility and conditioning work in Westminster, Reed described his surgically-repaired hip as only “35 percent” in late July before training camp started.

Given the Ravens’ depth at the safety position with Tom Zbikowski performing well in Reed’s place in the preseason and reserve Haruki Nakamura also making plays in the secondary, the organization will choose the safe route despite Reed reportedly campaigning to play sooner.

“This is a slow process,” Reed told WNST.net’s Drew Forrester on The Morning Reaction in early July. “I don’t want to come back and have another injury and then be out for the whole season, maybe even a career. I’m going to take my time with this one and hope everyone can bear with me on this one, and we’ll see what happens.”

Reed injured the hip last season, forcing him to miss four games before returning to the field for the final week of the regular season and the playoffs. The safety made 50 tackles and had three interceptions in 12 games, earning his sixth invitation to the Pro Bowl.

The decision to place Reed on the reserve PUP list likely means the team will elect to keep veteran safety Ken Hamlin or young defensive back K.J. Gerard — or possibly both — to join Nakamura as the backup safeties. Zbikowski will now be expected to occupy the free safety position next to Dawan Landry in the starting lineup for at least the first six games of the season.

When placed on the reserve PUP list, a player must miss the first six weeks of the season but does not count against the 53-man roster. After this time, there is a three-week window during which the player may return to practice (without counting against the 53-man roster) and can be activated as early as Week 7. A decision must be made within the frame of the three-week period to either activate the player or keep him on the PUP list for the remainder of the season.

The earliest Reed could return would be against the Buffalo Bills on Oct. 24.

Reed becomes the third player on the roster to be placed on PUP to begin the regular season, joining linebacker Brendon Ayanbadejo and running back Matt Lawrence, who were given the same designations earlier this week.

Injured rookie linebacker Sergio Kindle remains unsigned after fracturing his skull a few days prior to training camp. He would be eligible for the PUP list when he agrees to terms on a contract with the Ravens.

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Not A Great Night in St. Louis For Ravens on Bubble

Posted on 03 September 2010 by Glenn Clark

I’m going to save my final thoughts on the Ravens’ upcoming roster cuts for Friday, but I figured I’d share some thoughts from the Baltimore Ravens’ 27-21 loss to the St. Louis Rams Thursday night before I did.

Plenty of jobs were considered to be “on the line” Thursday night, but not a whole lot of them appeared to be locked up by those on the Ravens’ bubble. I’m only going to consider the players that were at least CLOSE to the bubble coming in. With no offense to the likes of Curtis Steele and Chris Hawkins, they’re not really even worth discussing.

Looking position by position at the performance of different players…

Troy Smith, QB: Troy’s numbers were as poor as his decision making at times. He finished 18-38 for 237 yards and 2 picks. He also ran for a pair of scores. If we’re being fair, the O-Line Troy played in front of was unthinkably bad and Cam Cameron didn’t really experiment too much with play-calling.
Davon Drew, TE: Drew finished the game with 2 catches for 23 yards, but was probably too far off the bubble for anything he did to matter all that much.
Demetrius Williams, WR: Williams made two grabs for 38 yards, one of which his size made a difference for. With Donte’ Stallworth hurt, I felt like Williams was much safer on the bubble-but he gave a solid performance especially considering his ankle injury.
Marcus Smith, WR: He was targeted twice but didn’t come down with a catch. He’s had a solid preseason, but nothing happened Thursday night to help him clinch a spot on the roster.
David Reed, WR: Reed had a very good night Thursday. He made three catches for 65 yards and averaged 34.5 yards on four kick returns. There might not be a kick return job available, but his versatility could help him make the roster.
Ramon Haredwood, OT and Joe Reitz, OT:  I’m going to try to be fair to both of these guys here. The entire offensive line was terrible Thursday night, and all were playing out of position. The injuries to Jared Gaither, Oniel Cousins and David Hale may force the Ravens to keep an extra O-Lineman, but nothing they saw Thursday night will help them make that decision. Harewood was awful and made bad decisions to boot. Reitz played out of position and looked lost at times.
Brandon McKinney, DT: When he was on the field, McKinney looked to be in the right place. If he really was on the bubble he probably isn’t any more.
Kelly Talavou, DT: The entire first unit on the field struggled, and the D-Line didn’t help to get in the backfield and pressure Sam Bradford. That being said, they weren’t particularly gauged up the middle either. Talavou is probably safe on the roster.
Arthur Jones, DT and Lamar Divens, DT: Neither Jones not Divens were particularly bad Thursday night, but if either were on a particular side of the bubble before the game they probably stayed there.
Jason Phillips, LB and Prescott Burgess, LB: Jason Phillips finished the game with a team high 9 tackles. Unfortunately, what stuck out from his performance was his complete inability to cover the pass. I doubt anyone stood to benefit more from Phillips’ performance than Burgess-who played sparingly but whose experience may be enough to get him on the roster.
Edgar Jones, OLB: It looked like Edgar Jones played with a real sense of urgency Thursday night. His 3 tackles included a sack and another TFL. I’m not sure Jones can be counted on as a pass rusher, but his versatility could be enough for John Harbaugh and Greg Mattison to choose to keep him around.
Travis Fisher, CB and Prince Miller, CB: It’s hard to figure out who was bad here and who was worse. Neither looks like a realistic option to be a NFL CB at the moment, and Miller compounded the issue by muffing a punt-which nearly lead to a Rams touchdown.
Ken Hamlin, S and KJ Gerard, S: Neither player really made much of a positive impact Thursday night, but that was a common theme. Gerard did end up recovering Prince Miller’s muff in the endzone, but I don’t think that will make much of a difference. If Ed Reed is healthy to start the season (that’s a big “if”), I don’t think either will end up on the roster.
Shayne Graham, K and Billy Cundiff, K: No field goal attempts, but the duo combined to make all 3 extra point attempts. Cundiff was a little bit better on kickoffs, which could end up helping him.

I’m agonizing over a MOCK roster. I can’t imagine what’s going on in the minds of Harbaugh, Ozzie Newsome, Eric DeCosta and George Kokinis right now.

It should be an interesting weekend-or at least much more interesting than the football game Thursday night.

-G

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Purple Haze Chat 8pm Tonight!

Posted on 02 September 2010 by Glenn Clark

It might not look like NFL football, but technically it will be. The Baltimore Ravens visit the St. Louis Rams tonight at Edward Jones Dome, kickoff is at 8pm. We chose to pass on the St. Louis trip, mostly because the Ravens are going to choose to pass on playing the majority of their starters in tonight’s game.

With that being said, the game can be seen tonight on WBAL11, and I will be following along from my couch in Rosedale. Other WNST and WNST.net personalities will be joining me in tonight’s “Purple Haze” chat, which begins at 8pm and you can join HERE. I’m sure there will be Orioles discussion, as well as college football and U.S. Open talk-at least if I have my way.

Troy Smith is expected to start at QB for the Ravens and play all four quarters. The Rams are expected to start rookie QB Sam Bradford and have their starters in the game for about 15 snaps. Smith is one of many Ravens players fighting for a roster spot as Saturday’s deadline for NFL teams to get to 53 players looms. Other players squarely on the bubble include WR’s Demetrius Williams, David Reed and Marcus Smith, TE Davon Drew, OL David Hale, OT’s Ramon Harewood and Joe Reitz, DT’s Kelly Talavou, Arthur Jones and Lamar Divens; LB’s Jason Phillips, Edgar Jones and Prescott Burgess; CB’s Travis Fisher and Prince Miller and S’s Ken Hamlin and KJ Gerard. Kickers Billy Cundiff and Shayne Graham are still in a heated battle for a roster spot as well.

The Rams have announced that the following players will be deactivated tonight:

QB AJ Feeley
RB Steven Jackson
WR Laurent Robinson
DE James Hall
LB Na’il Diggs
S James Butler

The Rams have announced that Kenneth Darby will start for Jackson, Keenan Burton will start for Robinson, David Vobora for Diggs. Danny Amendola will start for Donnie Avery, who the team placed on IR earlier in the week.

The Ravens have announced (via the Twitter account of their own Mike Duffy) that there will not be any inactives announced tonight. However, it is safe to expect that almost all starters as well as other injured players will not play tonight.

Look forward to chatting with you at 8pm!

-G

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Mocking The 53: A Look at Ravens Roster With One Preseason Game Left

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Mocking The 53: A Look at Ravens Roster With One Preseason Game Left

Posted on 31 August 2010 by Glenn Clark

Following a convincing win over the New York Giants Saturday night at M&T Bank Stadium, the Baltimore Ravens have just one more preseason contest to solve the final spots on their 53 man roster.

They’ll play the St. Louis Rams Thursday night at Edward Jones Dome, and a number of players will be hoping it isn’t the final time they don the purple  & black. The team will be forced to trim the roster to 53 players this Saturday.

There have been a few changes to the roster since my last “Mocking the 53″ update; with CB Doug Dutch cut and both OL Daniel Sanders and CB Marcus Paschal placed on IR. I am also going to move Cary Williams OFF the 53 (he will receive an asterisk following the 53) since he will be roster exempt during the two weeks he’s suspended. He’s on the roster, but the cuts Saturday won’t reflect that. Finally, Donte’ Stallworth moves back to the 53rd spot on the roster. He’s not the 53rd best player on the team, but since he can’t participate I won’t continue to lift him.

As a reminder of my overall philosophy in selecting these players, here is the explanation I posted before my initial mock roster…

“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, here’s how I see the Top 53 shaping up…

(Thanks to The Sun and BaltimoreRavens.com for photos.)

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

Only a few small changes to the Top 10, as I dropped Michael Oher a couple of spots. The 2nd year tackle from Ole Miss is still VERY important to this football team, and I wouldn’t be stunned at all if his 2nd season ended in a trip to Hawaii for the Pro Bowl. But he HAS struggled during the preseason, and this is simply a reflection of that. Otherwise, the top players on the team remain exactly the same.

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

Just a couple of tweeks in this group as well. Todd Heap moves up a couple spots after his sensational performance Saturday night against the G-Men. On the flip side, Terrence Cody falls a few spots due to the knee injury that forced him to miss Saturday night and has forced him to miss about a week’s worth of practice. I still think “Mount Cody” is going to end up being VERY good, but he hasn’t been very good recently.

21. CB Chris Carr
22. P Sam Koch
23. QB Marc Bulger
24. DT Kelly Gregg
gregg
25. S Haruki Nakamura
26. CB Lardarius Webb
27. TE Ed Dickson
28. WR Mark Clayton
29. OL Chris Chester
30. OT Jared Gaither

A few movers in this group as well, including a significant move from Sam Koch. He’s looking like a real weapon for this team. His performance against the Washington Redskins would have garnered him AFC Special Teams Player of the Week honors if it had happened during the regular season, and he was exceptional again Saturday night against the Giants. He’s been very impressive to watch both during Training Camp practices at McDaniel College in Westminster and in practices since then at 1 Winning Drive in Owings Mills.

Jared Gaither falls a few spots as he continues to battle a back injury. At this point, it’s hard to imagine he’ll be on the field when the Ravens play the New York Jets Sept. 13 in East Rutherford to open the season. Kelly Gregg moves up a few spots, as his value to the team is heightened with Terrence Cody hurt.

31. RB Willis McGahee
32. LB Jameel McClain
33. LB Dannell Ellerbe
34. LB Tavares Gooden
35. LB Antwan Barnes
36. OL Tony Moll
moll
37. RB Jalen Parmele
38. TE Dennis Pitta
39. DE Paul Kruger
40. DT Brandon McKinney

And after the first 30 players on the roster, EVERYTHING IS TOUGH TO FIGURE OUT! Players 31-40 on this list will all make the roster, but they’ll likely fluctuate position as the season goes on.

In the never-ending saga of “As the JACK LB Turns”, the JACK LB position is turning. Sorta. Harbs said Monday that analysts shouldn’t look too much into the fact that Jameel McClain has started all three preseason games, as all three backers are likely to play roughly the same number of snaps. To some extent, I believe him. In three linebackers, the Ravens have about one complete linebacker. If only they could figure out a way to mold the three together. McClain stays ahead of the others due to the fact that he HAS been starting, but the separation he found from the others early in camp is pretty much non-existent at this point.

Tony Moll and Jalen Parmele are also risers in this group. Parmele because his job as kick returner solidifies his level of importance to the team. Moll because with Gaither and Cousins sidelined, he’s stepped in and held down the RT position admirably. In fact, he’s likely moved ahead of Cousins on the depth chart regardless of health. Should Gaither not be able to go on Monday Night Football to open the season, I would expect Moll to start regardless of health.

41. LS Morgan Cox
42. DT Kelly Talavou
43. OT Oniel Cousins
44. QB Troy Smith
45. CB Travis Fisher
46. S Ken Hamlin
47. K Shayne Graham
48. OL David Hale
49. WR Demetrius Williams
50. WR Marcus Smith
marcussmith
51. LB Jason Phillips
52. CB Prince Miller
53. WR Donte’ Stallworth*

Somewhere in this group my confidence level starts to decline a bit. I’m just not exactly sure where it is. Here’s what we know from 41-53.

At 41, Morgan Cox is the Long Snapper, he’s on the team.
At 42, Kelly Talavou appears to be ahead of Arthur Jones and Lamar Divens and comfortably on the roster. He made the roster last year, and the team has maintained faith in him.
At 43, Oniel Cousins is absolutely making the roster as long as he’s healthy. It seems as though he will be-but that’s no guarantee.
At 44, Troy Smith is the team’s 3rd quarterback. The only way he’d not be part of the 53 is if the team were to suddenly find a trade partner or decide for some reason that they don’t need to keep a 3rd quarterback. I find both to be unlikely.
At 45, Travis Fisher is on the team for now. I get the feeling that might not be the case when Cary Williams comes back.
At 46, Ken Hamlin looks like he’s safe until Ed Reed comes back. Of course, there’s a chance that will happen sooner than we thought.
At 47, I still believe Shayne Graham will win the kicking competition. However, I’ve moved him back significantly because there’s almost no difference between he and Billy Cundiff right now. If Cundiff wins, I can’t be surprised anymore. The organization had privately given the job to Graham weeks ago, but there are some factors that might have that job slipping from his grasp.
At 48, David Hale seems safe as long as he’s healthy. That’s a real question mark right now as he battles a tailbone injury. Hale had played well in Camp, and it looked like his improvement had been significant over 12 months.
At 49, Demetrius Williams moves back on the roster. The Ravens will likely want to keep a 4th receiver active with Stallworth hurt, and Williams has more experience than the others on the roster. His size also separates him from the others.
At 50, Marcus Smith is an outstanding Special Teams player. Given some of the players Jerry Rosburg’s unit is missing (including Brendon Ayanbadejo), his inclusion in the Final 53 would make almost too much sense.
At 51, I’m keeping Jason Phillips on the roster for now. Some would argue Prescott Burgess should have his spot, and he’ll have the chance to move ahead.
At 52, Donte’ Stallworth’s injury helps Prince Miller a lot. With Tom Zbikowski starting and Mark Clayton now a slot receiver (who is hurt), it is fair to expect Miller get the bulk of action at punt return this week. That could be enough to lock down a job.
At 53, Donte’ Stallworth holds a roster spot.

54. CB Cary Williams*
carywilliams
(CB Domonique Foxworth-IR)
(CB Marcus Paschal-IR)
(OL Daniel Sanders-IR)
(S Ed Reed-Potential PUP)
(LB Sergio Kindle-Expected PUP)
(LB Brendon Ayanbadejo-Starting season on Reserve PUP)
(RB Matt Lawrence-Starting season on Reserve PUP)

With Ed Reed now hanging around the facility in Owings Mills, those rumblings that he’ll avoid the PUP list will get louder. With Ed, it’s hard to ever really know. Otherwise, we can be sure Brendon Ayanbadejo will start the season on PUP-and it’s safe to assume that Matt Lawrence will be PUP at best.

55. K Billy Cundiff
56. LB Prescott Burgess
57. WR David Reed
58. LB Edgar Jones
59. DT Arthur Jones
jones
60. DT Lamar Divens
61. OT Ramon Harewood
62. S/CB KJ Gerard
63. TE Davon Drew
64. OT Joe Reitz

Everyone between 55-64 has at least a CHANCE to make the final 53.

At 55, Billy Cundiff is neck and neck with Shayne Graham in the kicking competition. One of them will win.
At 56, Prescott Burgess can win a spot on the roster over the next week. His abilities on Special Teams will help him.
At 57, David Reed has played well recently-but hasn’t been outstanding for all of Camp. He’s not far from the roster, but the next week will be crucial for him.
At 58, Edgar Jones has plenty of versatility-but he hasn’t shown himself to be an exceptional OLB. Despite Sergio Kindle’s injury, he doesn’t look like he’s quite made the team yet.
At 59, Arthur Jones has a ton of upside. He also finds himself the victim of a numbers game. The Ravens might be concerned about exposing him, but it seems like he’s better suited for the practice squad.
At 60, Lamar Divens is in a very similar situation as Arthur Jones. The Ravens would hate to give up on a player that “looks like a Raven” the way Divens does, but he might not fit on the roster right now.
At 61, Ramon Harewood still looks like a very qualified candidate for IR given his knee issue just after the NFL Draft. Injuries to Gaither and Cousins could make him a roster option.
At 62, KJ Gerard has REALLY been hurt by not being on the field for stretches this preseason. The Ravens need secondary help, and he could provide it if he could stay healthy. This is a big week for him.
At 63, Davon Drew has played really well this summer. Unfortunately, there just doesn’t appear to be room for a 4th Tight End on the roster.
At 64, Joe Reitz could end up making the roster given the same injuries to Gaither and Cousins. But if I was a betting man, my money wouldn’t be on him.

65. WR Justin Harper
66. FB Mike McLaughlin
67. WR Eron Riley
riley
68. DE Albert McClellan
69. RB Curtis Steele
70. OL Bryan Mattison
71. OT Stefan Rodgers
72. CB Brad Jones
73. CB Chris Hawkins
74. OT Devin Tyler

Harper and Riley really offer something to a practice squad given their size. When the Ravens are forced to go up against taller receivers, it will help to have taller receivers to match up against in practice. Others on this list look like solid practice squad options as well-of which Curtis Steele could be one of them.

Questions? Concerns? Song requests? Let me know. I’ll post my final Mocking The 53 Friday.

-G

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Mocking The 53: Roster Taking Shape Through 2 Preseason Games

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Mocking The 53: Roster Taking Shape Through 2 Preseason Games

Posted on 24 August 2010 by Glenn Clark

The Baltimore Ravens have wrapped up Training Camp at McDaniel College in Westminster and have now settled in at 1 Winning Drive in Owings Mills.

They’ve won their first two preseason games against the Carolina Panthers and Washington Redskins, and have just two more preseason contests left (they host the New York Giants Saturday night at M&T Bank Stadium and visit the St. Louis Rams a week from Thursday) before they open the regular season September 13th at the Meadowlands against the New York Jets on the national stage of Monday Night Football.

Before they get there, they’ll have to make some major roster decisions. After the game against the Giants, they’ll have to trim the roster slightly before the Tuesday (August 31) deadline to be down to 75 players. Following that, they’ll have just 4 days to make final decisions before the roster is cut to 53 on Saturday, September 4.

There are no changes to the physical roster (except where we expect Lardarius Webb to be when the season begins) since my 4th “Mocking the 53″ update, but there are some changes to the 53 itself. Before we get to that, a reminder of the explanation of the list I wrote before the initial version…

“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 look again at how the Top 53 shapes up…

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

Only one real change in the Top 10, and it comes from someone who hasn’t performed much at all. Ray Rice has played little at all through two preseason games, and it has shown you everything you need to know about the importance of the 3rd year back from Rutgers. His place in this Ravens offense is INCREDIBLY significant, and without him heavily involved, they are just not the same-no matter who is playing receiver.

Otherwise, everything about the Top 10 remains the same. I know Michael Oher has struggled a bit in the first two preseason games-but Oher is a very good player. He was a bit of a 2nd half guy a season ago (remember his struggles in the first half against Jared Allen when the Ravens visited the Minnesota Vikings but his stellar 2nd half in the same game), and might be a player who just needs some more rhythm to shine. I’m not concerned yet myself.

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

Almost all of this group remains the same as well. Tom Zbikowski enters the Top 20, as he has played very well knowing he will be in the starting lineup with the Ravens visit East Rutherford Week 1 barring some sort of Ed Reed miracle. I also think it is worth pointing out that while John Harbaugh may have claimed that he ISN’T voting “McClain 4 RB”, Le’Ron McClain has been very good during the preseason-and it would be surprising if he didn’t make more of an impact in the offense this season.

21. CB Chris Carr
22. OT Jared Gaither
23. QB Marc Bulger
24. TE Ed Dickson
25. S Haruki Nakamura
nakamura
26. CB Lardarius Webb
27. K Shayne Graham
28. WR Mark Clayton
29. OL Chris Chester
30. LB Dannell Ellerbe

There are some subtle changes in this group-starting with Jared Gaither. Gaither falls out of the Top 20 because we just don’t know what to make of his health. The initial prognosis surrounding his back tear made us believe that he should be available before the Ravens head to New Jersey on Sept. 13. Of course, at this point we’re starting to reach a place where “I’ll believe it when I see it.”

Dannell Ellerbe moves back into the Top 30 this week. After watching the other interior LB’s competing for the starting JACK spot against the Skins, I get the feeling that Ellerbe’s ability to play the pass will ultimately get him back into the starting lineup.

Lardarius Webb re-enters “The 53″ at #26. As we see more of what he’s capable of doing early on, we will see how quickly he can rise on the list. Shayne Graham drops a few spots as well despite the fact that I truly believe he’ll be the kicker of record come MNF on Sept. 13. I just somehow needed to reflect the fact that Billy Cundiff has kicked well recently, including 2 makes Saturday night at FedEx Field.

31. P Sam Koch
32. RB Willis McGahee
mcgahee
33. WR Donte’ Stallworth
34. DT Kelly Gregg
35. TE Dennis Pitta
36. LB Jameel McClain
37. LB Tavares Gooden
38. CB Cary Williams
39. DE Paul Kruger
40. OT Oniel Cousins

There are a few significant risers in this group. One is Sam Koch, who was tremendous again Saturday night in DC. His contract situation is an uncomfortable spot for the team, as he is going to get paid SOMEWHERE-but the team has set a precedent in the past that they won’t give big money to a punter (see Kyle Richardson and Dave Zastudil).

Willis McGahee also rises on this list, despite the fact that a number of armchair GM’s in Charm City would have already dealt him for just about anyone with the letters “CB” next to their name. McGahee continues to prove himself as being very valuable, both as a reserve who can take a number of carries and as an impressive short yardage back.

The third riser in this group is Cary Williams-who was exceptional again Saturday night. It may have been preseason football, but the QB Williams picked off (Donovan McNabb) is still a future Hall of Famer. Williams’ size (he’s 6’1″) really DOES make a difference when it comes to how we look at his role moving forward. Should he continue to play similar to his size, Williams could develop into a legitimate NFL corner.

41. LB Antwan Barnes
42. S Ken Hamlin
43. QB Troy Smith
44. DT Kelly Talavou
45. DT Brandon McKinney
46. RB Jalen Parmele
parmele
47. OL Tony Moll
48. LS Morgan Cox
49. CB Travis Fisher
50. OL David Hale
51. LB Jason Phillips
52. WR David Reed
53. S/CB KJ Gerard

Travis Fisher is hanging by a thread-and I would suggest that at this point he’s BARELY ahead of either KJ Gerard or Prince Miller. No matter how quick Anthony Armstrong is, there’s no way that Fisher should have been embarrassed by him the way he was Saturday night. I’ll leave him on the roster for now, if only because the Ravens have to have SOME healthy corners lining up against Santonio Holmes Braylon Edwards and company September 13. I’m also keeping Gerard ahead of Prince Miller, only because Gerard has more to offer on Special Teams right now than Miller does.

(Editor’s note: Thanks to all who pointed out Holmes will miss the first 4 games. Absolutely right. My mistake. I need a better editor. Or an editor.)

Two players who I moved back onto the roster thanks to their performance Saturday night are Jason Phillips and David Reed. Reed not only played well offensively, but also made a very key Special Teams tackle. Proving his value on Special Teams changes everything-which goes for Phillips as well. That being said, Edgar Jones is a very valuable AND versatile player who I currently have OFF the 53, so these standings remain tentative.

(CB Domonique Foxworth-IR)
(S Ed Reed-Likely PUP)
(LB Sergio Kindle-Likely PUP or IR)
(LB Brendon Ayanbadejo-potential PUP or injury settlement until known otherwise)
(RB Matt Lawrence-potential PUP or injury settlement until known otherwise)

I’m taking both Ayanbadejo and Lawrence out of the equation for now. There are other players on this team battling injuries, but neither of them have even done significant work in practice. Until I see that, I’m going to work under the assumption that they won’t be part of the team Week 1. That can change rapidly. A week ago, we were working under the assumption that Lardarius Webb would start the season on PUP.

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

The reality is that Miller, Edgar Jones and Williams are in direct competition at positions where there is probably room to keep another player. Arthur Jones and Divens are probably in positions where keeping another player just might not be a legitimate option. Of course, we didn’t all think the Ravens would keep both McKinney and Talavou a season ago, and what did we learn there?

Mike McLaughlin’s name will keep coming up, but keeping him on the 53 really doesn’t make a whole lot of sense. There isn’t MUCH risk in exposing an undrafted rookie FB who has just converted to LB. Giving him more time on the practice squad could really benefit him as a player.

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

A good sign that you’re a longshot to make the roster? A simple Google image search doesn’t come up with a legitimate picture of you. Thank God for Facebook. Hopefully there’s some practice squad help in this group.

There you have it. Questions? Concerns? Comments? Thoughts in general? Song requests? Let me know.

-G

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Before You Push The Purple Panic Button ….

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Before You Push The Purple Panic Button ….

Posted on 23 August 2010 by Rex Snider

My highly anticipated “Sports Saturday” started off on a positive note, thanks to the Orioles 8-6 victory over Cliff Lee and the Texas Rangers. The game was full of pleasant surprises …..

Who would’ve ever predicted that Josh Bell would connect more often than Joe Flacco on a simultaneous gameday? Ahh …. the magic of the unexpected in sports, huh?

By the time I hit the Lazy-Boy for the Ravens vs. Redskins preseason showdown, I was convinced it was going to be a GREAT night. I can’t say it turned out badly, but I did go to bed knowing John Harbaugh’s bunch still has A LOT of work on its hands before reuniting with Rex Ryan and his Jets.

While I can readily admit Saturday night’s game left me agonizing over a few areas of concern with this team, I’ve chosen to take a more sensible look at the overall picture of the 2010 Baltimore Ravens …..

For the past few weeks, we’ve heard the gloomy forecasts from those who invested a significant portion of their collective hope in Domonique Foxworth’s presence at cornerback. From callers to on-air hosts and even occasional guests, some sobering words have been spoken.

However, in all fairness, there has also been a fairly respectable amount of us who believe the team will be just fine, while downplaying any real handicap to the secondary. And, we’ve had answers for our continued positive outlook, right?

The common rationale in defending the stubborn optimism has been along the lines of “THE RAVENS ARE GONNA HAVE TO BLITZ MORE OFTEN AND GET AFTER THE QUARTERBACK.”

This certainly seems like a logical solution, right? Heck, it’s Football-101 …..

But, we’ve also heard the fairly warned potential ramifications to this solution, too.

As many realists have concluded, if you’re blitzing, you MUST get to the quarterback. If not, guys like Donovan McNabb are gonna make plays. And, the Ravens will be facing a host of ‘slingers better than the former Philadelphia Eagle, in 2010.
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At times during Saturday’s game, McNabb looked like he was doomed, only to fool all of us by stepping up or rolling out of the pocket to buy an extra tick. He succeeded in some crucial situations, including a couple opportunities from the Redskins endzone.

By the way, does anyone know if Travis Fisher made the trip to DC?

The good news is we still have three solid weeks remaining before action on the field really counts. That’s 21 days for Lardarius Webb to get healthier. That’s 21 days to shop for better options on the rosters of other teams. And, that’s 21 days for Greg Mattison to assert some Rex Ryan and Marvin Lewis “PURPLE MAGIC” into his defense.

I’m certain a proportionate amount of this week’s WNST phone calls will be directed at finding a way to help the crippled cornerback unit. That’s the way it always is with the fan base. Among our consistent reactions, nothing is stronger than the tendency to PANIC.

Well, I’m telling you to relax.

Absorb the preseason for what it is – PRESEASON.

John Harbaugh and Greg Mattison weren’t really worried about stopping Chris Cooley, Santana Moss or Anthony Armstrong. Indeed, I’ll guarantee you they were more interested in seeing how their patched up secondary would fare against them – for better or worse.

For some players, like Joe Flacco, Ray Lewis and Derrick Mason, this game was simply about finding their rhythm and getting back into the flow of established gameplans.
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For some others, like Anquan Boldin, Donte Stallworth, Cory Redding and Ken Hamlin, this game served as a prime opportunity to become intimate with their surroundings and a whole new playbook, at fullspeed.

And, yet, for some guys, like Travis Fisher (really …. did he play?), Prince Miller, Jason Phillips and Cary Williams, this was a vitally significant opportunity to prove they can play at this level and for this team.

You can bet a few sets of discerning eyes were cast on Flacco and his cohorts, as well as Boldin and his gang. But, I’ll bet the house nearly every eye that matters was watching that final group, as they danced upon the bubble …..

So, while you’re worried about the Ravens cornerbacks being able to cover the New York Jets and Cincinnati Bengals, I’m urging you ….. LET IT GO.

Unless he suddenly finds some of Ronnie Lott’s natural ability deep within his soul, Travis Fisher will not find a spot on this Ravens team. Greg Mattison surely suspected it going into Saturday night’s game. Fisher, himself, only confirmed it.

Perhaps, that’s why Mattison emphasized on a blitz-happy defensive attack. I can see that strategy. Think about it …. they might as well test the unproven or unlikely guys in an ideal situation, right?

Thus, they blitz and leave “Fisher Island” all by itself.

The preseason is partly about bringing the obvious back into focus, while also helping the truly qualified to learn a new system. But, it’s equally apportioned to testing the untested, to see if they can be part of a championship-caliber organization.

This trip to FedEx Field was nothing more than the second step in John Harbaugh’s FOUR-STEP preseason process. This team is in a self analyzation stage. They must find out who can contribute, even in the most mitigating ways, to this team’s immediate future.
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While we love and savor those summer days in Westminster, it won’t be revealed there. Harbaugh and company cannot determine their 53rd man at McDaniel College. The survival process does not surround the practice field.

Two meaningless games are in the books and two more still remain. I don’t mean to undervalue the meaning of playing the New York Giants and St. Louis Rams over the next couple weeks. But, these games really don’t matter.

Let me rephrase that ….

The next couple games don’t matter UNLESS you’re standing in the shoes of Fisher, Miller, Williams and a few others. For them, these games are every bit as important as Super Bowl XLV.

These are the biggest games of their lives.

As I suggested, relax. This team will be just fine. Ozzie Newsome didn’t spend more than six months agonizing over a kick ass opportunity, just to be totally derailed by losing a cornerback in the early stages of training camp.

He’s obviously not panicking, why should we?

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