Tag Archive | "lee evans"

An Easter Sweet 16 of treats that were better than candy in the basket

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An Easter Sweet 16 of treats that were better than candy in the basket

Posted on 14 April 2014 by Nestor Aparicio

This one will be worthy of some bar room arguments this week but I was entrusted with identifying the 16 greatest games in Baltimore sports history. Passion. Drama. Great finishes. Memorable action on the field of play.

I wrote down a list of 30 great games and seeded them based on the significance of the outcome and the level of activity in the games and came up with a WNST.net Sweet 16 lost full of memories but not all them had happy endings.

Hey, a great game is a great game. All of these left me feeling like I got my monies worth.

Feel free to feedback below or via Twitter, Facebook or email (nasty@wnst.net).

 

16. Minnesota Vikings at Baltimore Ravens (Dec. 8, 2013)

It will take some more time to know how distance treats this recent classic, but it’s hard to top the only snow game in the franchise’s history going back and forth with five touchdowns in the final 2:05 of a 29-26 win for the Ravens over the Vikings. “Will we ever see another game like that again?” head coach John Harbaugh said. The answer to that is probably “no.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Boldin’s void still lingers as Ravens move closer to draft

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Boldin’s void still lingers as Ravens move closer to draft

Posted on 15 April 2013 by Luke Jones

If you’re reading this, congratulations on making it through the difficult part of the Ravens’ offseason.

Needless to say, it’s been an interesting five weeks as a number of key contributors to the Super Bowl XLVII championship team have departed with several newcomers arriving to fill those voids. And once again, general manager Ozzie Newsome has emerged to look as shrewd as ever just a few weeks after many fans and media alike questioned what exactly the Ravens were trying to accomplish by gutting their roster after winning their second NFL title in 13 years.

It was painful waving goodbye to the legendary Ed Reed as well as other defensive contributors such as Paul Kruger, Dannell Ellerbe, Bernard Pollard, and Cary Williams, but Newsome has walked away from free agency with an elite pass rusher (Elvis Dumervil), good defensive line depth (Chris Canty and Marcus Spears), a solid replacement for Reed (Michael Huff), and a low-risk, high-reward inside linebacker just three years removed from being a first-round pick (Rolando McClain). Though far from a guarantee, the argument can be made that a flawed Baltimore defense last year will emerge even stronger with the wholesale changes made this offseason.

With the Ravens now less than two weeks away from the draft, one position and one particular departure stands above all others in terms of the urgency felt to address it.

No, it isn’t left tackle, where the Ravens see veteran Bryant McKinnie dangling on the free-agent market while looking internally to find — yes — Michael Oher and Kelechi Osemele as potential candidates to man the blindside for quarterback Joe Flacco. The mere suggestion of Oher moving back to the left side — not a decision I endorse, mind you — is enough to keep many fans awake at night, but the Ravens aren’t nearly as concerned about the position as everyone else, even though they’ll keep their eyes open during next week’s draft for a long-term solution.

For all the encouraging moves made by the Ravens in response to the mass exodus that occurred in mid-March, it’s still difficult to move past the trade of wide receiver Anquan Boldin to the San Francisco 49ers for a sixth-round pick. There’s no need to rehash the details; the Ravens made it clear they didn’t believe Boldin was a $6 million player anymore and the 32-year-old wasn’t willing to take a $2 million pay cut.

It was a business decision that cleared enough cap space to make the signing of the Pro Bowl pass rusher Dumervil and several others first conceivable and eventually a reality, but that still doesn’t replace the production left behind by the veteran receiver. Over the last two seasons, Boldin accounted for 23.7 percent of the Ravens’ total yards via the air. His 2012 postseason is well documented as the possession wideout was on the receiving end of exactly 1/3 of Flacco’s 1,140 passing yards and reined in four of the quarterback’s 11 touchdown passes.

Make no mistake, we’re not talking about a bona fide No. 1 receiver and Boldin was struggling more and more to gain separation in man coverage, but his strong hands and ability inside the red zone must be replaced by someone — or some combination of players. The Ravens say they’re confident in tight end Dennis Pitta as well as young receivers Tandon Doss and Deonte Thompson to compete to fill the void in the slot, but there’s a reason why the latter two were little more than afterthoughts on the 53-man roster last season. Maybe one or both will emerge to become serviceable receivers, but the Ravens can’t possibly count on either to bring even a modest fraction of what Boldin offered.

Torrey Smith and Jacoby Jones certainly remind you that the cupboard isn’t totally bare at the position like it was a decade ago, but neither provides enough consistency in the short-to-intermediate passing game and are too valuable as vertical threats on the outside.

It’s worth asking how much of the burden will fall on Flacco, who is entering his sixth NFL season and is in the prime of his career after signing a six-year, $120.6 million contract earlier this offseason. Is the quarterback dependent on good receivers to be successful or are young receivers relying on the Super Bowl MVP in their own development at this stage in the game?

Still, you have to wonder what the Ravens have up their sleeve with barely a whisper of any significant interest in this year’s crop of free-agent wide receivers. Are the Ravens simply turning to the draft with confidence in a late first-round option such as Clemson’s DeAndre Hopkins, Cal’s Keenan Allen, or USC’s Robert Woods to potentially step in and contribute from Day One? Would a second-day target such as 6-foot-4 Justin Hunter of Tennessee or troubled Tennessee Tech wideout Da’Rick Rogers strike their fancy?

Or should we be on alert for a trade? Manned with 12 selections in next week’s draft, the Ravens have never shied away from dealing picks for established talent as they completed draft-weekend deals for wide receiver Kevin Johnson and cornerback Fabian Washington in the last decade.

Their summer trade two years ago for Lee Evans may have failed miserably, but it was another example of Newsome’s willingness to part with a mid-round selection to snag a wideout. And, of course, the Ravens dealt two picks to the Arizona Cardinals for Boldin three years ago in a deal that worked to perfection.

This offseason, all is quiet on the wide receiver front with no big names publicly on the block, but it’s difficult to imagine the Ravens simply standing pat with what they currently have at the position. Baltimore tried to enhance its wide receiver depth in each of the last three years by signing T.J. Houshmandzadeh in 2010, trading for Evans in 2011, and inking Jones last year, so the thought of Newsome and the front office allowing draft weekend to come and go without an impact draft selection or failing to explore a trade to address the void left behind by Boldin just doesn’t seem plausible.

By no means does it need to be a carbon-copy replacement, but Boldin’s giant shadow is still too great not to address with either a savvy veteran or a young player holding a higher ceiling than the candidates already on the roster.

In an offseason in which patience has been preached over and over, the Ravens will ask for a little more as nearly every other position has been handled in some shape or form for the short term. Even left tackle has several accessible backup options if a young prospect doesn’t fall into the Ravens’ laps in the first two days of the draft.

But failing to address the Boldin departure would be too great of a risk to take.

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One final “thank you” to Billy Cundiff for what I saw in New England last January

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One final “thank you” to Billy Cundiff for what I saw in New England last January

Posted on 26 August 2012 by Drew Forrester

I remember that scene like it was yesterday.

Ed Reed put on a pair of wildy oversized headphones, threw his bag over his shoulder and started singing a song about Jesus as he exited the Ravens locker room out of small back door that concealed the fact he was leaving without addressing the media.

Lee Evans sat at his locker, uniform still on, staring straight ahead, saying nothing.  It struck me for a moment that perhaps a player or two might literally have to undress him and force him into the shower so the plane could eventually leave the airport in Boston.

Joe Flacco dressed quietly, but his face didn’t show any obvious signs of distress.  He’s always Captain Cool, even in the midst of the second excruciating AFC championship of his young career.

And Sam Koch held court with a few members of the media, repeating time after time, “everything was fine…right up until the ball was kicked…then I don’t know what happened.”  His voice trailed off as he realized how close the Ravens had come to forcing overtime with the now-famous 32 yard “chip shot” that Billy Cundiff pulled wide left in the waning seconds of last January’s 23-20 loss to New England.

I remember Matt Birk saying to me, “I feel sorry for these guys.  They busted their ass all year.  And today.  We took it down to the last second.  It just wasn’t meant to be.”  I loved that Birk said “I feel sorry for these guys” as if he was watching over them.

But the thing I remember most about the aftermath of that loss?

Billy Cundiff.

Unlike Reed, who snuck out, Cundiff busted through the doors of the interview room and said – in so many words – “here I am”.

Cundiff then addressed the media for upwards of 20 minutes, answering every question with dignity and grace in the heat of what certainly was his toughest moment as a professional athlete.

(Please see next page) 

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Your Monday Reality Check-Size Matters And I Won’t Stop Saying It

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Your Monday Reality Check-Size Matters And I Won’t Stop Saying It

Posted on 23 April 2012 by Glenn Clark

Remember the guy who scribbled what (at least looking back on it) was nearly a love letter to San Diego Chargers WR Malcom Floyd last summer?

Remember the guy who pounded on the desk for days during his first full week as host of “The Reality Check” on AM1570 WNST.net about how much he wanted to see the Baltimore Ravens add Floyd to their receiving corps for 2011?

Remember the guy who received ridicule for not being excited (and frankly showing a level of discontent) after the Ravens failed to acquire Floyd and instead dealt for Buffalo Bills WR Lee Evans?

The name’s Glenn Clark. It’s good to talk to you again. In case you were wondering, I haven’t stopped bitching about the need for the Ravens to add size to their receiving corps.

After a relatively quiet start to the 2012 NFL Offseason, the Ravens will absolutely add players this week. The Ravens have eight picks in this weekend’s NFL Draft, and will have the opportunity to address both depth and need over the course of the weekend. Fans and analysts have debated the order of the team’s needs, largely agreeing that Offensive Line, Interior Linebacker, Pass Rusher, Running Back, Safety, Wide Receiver and Kick/Punt Returner tend to make up the list.

I don’t particularly care what order the Ravens use to rank their own needs. As we all know, General Manager Ozzie Newsome and company won’t suddenly move away from the “best player available” philosophy that has worked so well for them in recent years.

I have absolutely no doubt in my mind that at some point during the course of the weekend the team will draft at least one receiver.

My rallying cry will remain the same. When they do, they need to find a receiver who can get up and get the football.

In 2011, six of the top seven total offenses in the National Football League included a significant contributor (either at WR or TE) who stood at least 6’5″ or taller. The other team (the Philadelphia Eagles) had a 6’4″ TE target in Brent Celek.

The Baltimore Ravens have two tight ends (Dennis Pitta and Ed Dickson) who are both listed at 6’4″ but who have been unable to establish themselves as legitimate red zone threats at the pro level. This has at least something to do with why the Ravens managed to score TD’s on just 50% of their trips to the red zone in 2011, a mark good enough for only 18th in the NFL.

(The lack of a singular red zone receiving target isn’t necessarily the ONLY reason why the Ravens have struggled to score TD’s in the red zone, but it’s hard to fathom mutual exclusivity here.)

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Former Ravens WR Evans Joins Jags

Posted on 16 April 2012 by WNST Staff

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Ravens receive two compensatory picks in April’s draft

Posted on 26 March 2012 by Luke Jones

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Ravens’ free-agent target Ginn elects to stay in San Francisco

Posted on 22 March 2012 by Luke Jones

Addressing the return game is a clear objective of the offseason, but the Ravens won’t be enlisting the services of former first-round pick Ted Ginn Jr. to do it.

After visiting with the Ravens last week, the return specialist has elected to remain with the 49ers on a one-year contract. Ginn has played in San Francisco the last two seasons after spending the first three years of his career with the Miami Dolphins.

Ginn is one of the better kick returners in the league — producing six career return touchdowns — but the Ravens are also looking for a No. 3 receiver to replace veteran Lee Evans. The 26-year-old caught only 19 passes for 220 yards this past season and has six career touchdown receptions in his five-year career.

Deep into the second week of free agency, the Ravens have only re-signed veteran center Matt Birk while losing five unrestricted free agents to other teams. Baltimore has roughly $5 million in salary cap room despite needing to address number of positions this offseason.

 

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After rocky first week of free agency, what’s next for Ravens?

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After rocky first week of free agency, what’s next for Ravens?

Posted on 19 March 2012 by Luke Jones

Nearly a week into the signing period and with Peyton Manning finally choosing his next football home — ending our long-suffering national nightmare — it’s safe to say we’ve reached the conclusion of the first wave of NFL free agency.

As expected, it’s been anything but an exhilarating splash for the Ravens as they’ve witnessed five unrestricted free agents depart while only re-signing veteran center Matt Birk to a three-year contract on Friday. Baltimore has six remaining unrestricted free agents to potentially address, with inside linebacker Jameel McClain at the top of the list.

Unlike veteran defensive starters Jarret Johnson and Cory Redding, McClain represents a more difficult decision as he’ll only turn 27 in July and has plenty of good football in front of him.  He also represents a known commodity at a position where the Ravens lack depth behind Ray Lewis. Though he doesn’t bring the skills in pass coverage the Ravens would like to see improved among their linebackers, McClain proved valuable when Lewis was sidelined with a toe injury for four games last season, leading the huddle while Baltimore barely missed a beat without its future Hall of Fame linebacker.

The problem is general manager Ozzie Newsome and the Ravens are having a difficult time gauging McClain’s value with the market for inside linebackers developing at a snail’s pace so far in free agency. Most top names at the position remain unsigned, including Detroit’s Stephen Tulloch, Seattle’s David Hawthorne, and Atlanta’s Curtis Lofton.

McClain visited the Broncos on Friday and took a physical, but Denver ultimately decided to re-sign Joe Mays, who will presumably be the guy at middle linebacker after making 12 starts last season. With such a deep group of inside backers still available and most having the same limitations in pass coverage beyond the top names on the list, McClain may not find the payday he’s looking for.

Of course, the Ravens have a limited amount of salary cap space and a number of other positions to address. They also placed a second-round tender on restricted free agent linebacker Dannell Ellerbe, which would pay him roughly $1.92 million in 2012, as a likely insurance policy to losing McClain.

Whether they can ultimately re-sign McClain or not, the Ravens are likely to address the inside linebacker position in the first few rounds of April’s draft. And unless the market remains very cool on McClain, Baltimore will likely roll the dice with the combination of Ellerbe and a drafted rookie to fill the void next to Lewis in defensive coordinator Dean Pees’ 3-4 scheme.

Changing of the guard

With the Ravens missing out on free-agent guard Evan Mathis when the veteran elected to re-sign with the Eagles over the weekend, the remaining options on the open market are underwhelming in trying to replace former Pro Bowl left guard Ben Grubbs.

A few veterans such as Jake Scott and Vernon Carey are still out there but represent a noticeable step back from Grubbs at the position. That’s led many to speculate about the possibility of second-year tackle Jah Reid being moved to guard.

The thought of Reid playing guard has intrigued me since he began working there late last season and was a sleeper candidate to replace the injured Marshal Yanda in the regular-season finale against Cincinnati. You typically don’t see 6-foot-7 guards, but having the tallest starting quarterback in the league eliminates the need for shorter interior linemen.

Evan so, it’s difficult to view Reid as anything more than a project for the position, meaning the Ravens’ best bet might be to select a guard in the first or second round of the draft. While many have cooled on the idea of drafting Wisconsin center Peter Konz in the first round after Birk’s re-signing, another intriguing name that might be available at the 29th pick is Georgia guard Cordy Glenn.

With massive size at 345 pounds and impressive athleticism, Glenn has seen his stock rise substantially since the Senior Bowl. Despite playing left tackle as a senior after playing inside prior to that, Glenn is considered to be best suited for guard by most. However, some still flirt with the idea of him eventually becoming a left tackle at the next level.

It’s far from certain that Glenn will be there when the Ravens pick late in the first round, but he would be the ideal candidate to start at left guard compared to the underwhelming veteran options remaining in free agency. And with veteran left tackle Bryant McKinnie entering the final year of his contract, the Ravens could also evaluate whether Glenn could move to left tackle in his second season.

Third wideout

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With free agency upon us, Ravens will lean on continued growth from within in 2012

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With free agency upon us, Ravens will lean on continued growth from within in 2012

Posted on 12 March 2012 by Luke Jones

With the start of the new league year and free agency less than 24 hours away, you can already hear the cries if you listen carefully.

And you know exactly what I’m talking about if you pay attention to talk radio, internet message boards, and Twitter over the opening days of free agency every year.

When are the Ravens going to do something?

Why does Ozzie insist on sitting on his hands?

They’re definitely taking a step back this season.

Never were those exclamations louder than last season, an unprecedented period of free agency that coincided with the start of training camp after the 134-day lockout. General manager Ozzie Newsome waved goodbye to veterans Derrick Mason, Todd Heap, Kelly Gregg, and Willis McGahee in a series of cap-saving cuts, and a number of veterans including Chris Chester, Dawan Landry, and Josh Wilson found richer contracts elsewhere.

Meanwhile, the Ravens’ free-agent additions for 2011 were relatively modest over the course of the preseason, adding fullback Vonta Leach, safety Bernard Pollard, left tackle Bryant McKinnie, center Andre Gurode, and running back Ricky Williams in addition to re-signing right guard Marshal Yanda to a long-term contract. The “offseason” timetable was stunted by the lockout, but Newsome operated in the way he typically does — calculated and conservative. In fact, the most dynamic move he made — trading a fourth-round pick to the Buffalo Bills for veteran receiver Lee Evans — turned out to be the biggest failure.

The history lesson is worth repeating as the Ravens embark on free agency for the 17th time in franchise history. Projected to have approximately $14.45 million in salary cap space (before tendering restricted free agents and exclusive rights free agents), Newsome will devote much of that to retaining as many of his own free agents as he can.

Of Baltimore’s 12 unrestricted free agents, five were starters last season, meaning the Ravens could be looking at more significant roster turnover than you’d like from an AFC North championship team that was one touchdown catch from advancing to the Super Bowl.

Expecting a dramatic splash of throwing money at elite free agents such as wide receiver Vincent Jackson or outside linebacker Mario Williams is only setting yourself up for disappointment. Even in the years in which he’s had the most cap room, Newsome rarely targets the players grabbing the headlines in the opening days of free agency, instead focusing on keeping his own and laying plans for value free agents that fulfill a need without eating up precious cap room.

As was the case last season, the Ravens will look for continued growth from within to aid in their quest for Super Bowl XLVII in New Orleans. Entering the 2011 season, Terrence Cody, Ed Dickson, and Dennis Pitta were well-known draft picks from the previous season but had yet to emerge as starting-caliber players in the NFL. Even bigger question marks surrounded Lardarius Webb and Cary Williams before they became legitimate starting cornerbacks for one of the league’s top defenses. And fighting serious doubts after a poor preseason, wide receiver Torrey Smith set franchise rookie records for receptions, receiving yards, and touchdown catches.

Their contributions were as critical as any free-agent acquisition the Ravens made en route to a 12-4 record and their first division title in five years.

This season, the Ravens will potentially look to younger players such as defensive ends Arthur Jones and Pernell McPhee, offensive lineman Jah Reid, and linebackers Paul Kruger, Dannell Ellerbe, and Albert McClellan to help fill potential voids left behind by free agents Cory Redding, Ben Grubbs, Matt Birk, Jarret Johnson, and Jameel McClain. Of course, the Ravens will add new pieces via free agency and next month’s draft to fill some of those needs, but it’s almost a guarantee that they’ll need to lean on some combination of the aforementioned players for expanded roles in 2012.

After tendering their restricted free agents and exclusive rights players, the Ravens will be left with somewhere between $6 million and $7 million to address their own unrestricted free agents and shop the open market. It doesn’t take an economics major to realize that money will only go so far.

But, as he usually does, Newsome will make the most of it.

As the frenzy of free agency begins on Tuesday and the big names start coming off the board — possibly even a few from the Ravens’ own backyard leaving for greener pastures — remember many of the biggest factors determining how the Ravens fare in 2012 already reside in Owings Mills.

It may get ugly, with many of their unrestricted free agents not expected to return, but Newsome and the Ravens never strive to “win” the first week of free agency. They’ll look closely for that under-the-radar talent that nobody is talking about right now. And, as always, the Ravens will plan to shine during April’s draft.

By the time July arrives, they’ll address the offensive line and the linebacker position in some form as well as add a few pieces in other areas to optimize a team that was only a few tenths of a second away from going to the Super Bowl back in January.

Just remember that when you or someone else feels the urge to panic and ask if Newsome is asleep at the wheel over the next week or so.

To borrow an expression from another era and another sport here in Baltimore, it’s “The Raven Way” of doing business.

And if history is any indication, it’s worked pretty well.

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I Answer Your Questions About Reimold, Patsos, New Arena, More

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I Answer Your Questions About Reimold, Patsos, New Arena, More

Posted on 06 March 2012 by Glenn Clark

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