Tag Archive | "Marc Bulger"

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Live from Westminster: Gaither misses practice as first fight breaks out

Posted on 31 July 2010 by Luke Jones

WESTMINSTER, Md. — The Ravens were back on the practice field Saturday morning, but two key starters were absent.

After being carted off the field with back cramps Friday afternoon, Jared Gaither was absent from both sessions on Saturday. We didn’t hear from John Harbaugh after practice, so we’ll assume it’s a precautionary measure at this point. However, given the Ravens’ propensity for hiding the severity of injuries, it’s certainly worth monitoring in the coming days.

Cornerback Fabian Washington did not practice after returning to the field wearing a red non-contact jersey on Friday afternoon. He did, however, return to the field in the afternoon wearing the same non-contact top. With the fragile state of the defensive backfield after the loss of Domonique Foxworth for the season, there’s no reason for the Ravens to rush Washington’s return to the field with three weeks remaining in training camp.

We also witnessed our first fight of the summer as rookie defensive tackle Art Jones mixed it up with offensive lineman Bryan Mattison after a play during passing drills. A dogpile quickly followed but order was restored and the two shook hands after the scrum.

You can hear more from Jones about the morning rumble as well as special teams coordinator Jerry Rosburg and backup quarterback Marc Bulger in the BuyAToyota.com Audio Vault.

Check back right here for updates (time-stamped below) throughout the day.

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5:15 p.m. — The afternoon session has wrapped up with Fabian Washington returning to the practice field sporting the red non-contact jersey.

Jared Gaither was absent from practice again, though he walked out for the latter portion of the workout in a t-shirt and shorts. I’m beginning to wonder if the back cramps for which he was carted off on Friday afternoon are actually spasms.

Offensive tackle Tony Moll sat out in the afternoon after lining up with the first-team offense at right tackle (with Gaither’s absence). Rookie Ramon Harewood received the reps on the right side with the first team.

Cornerback Walt Harris did not practice but was out on the field with his teammates.

As for the practice itself, coach John Harbaugh was very angry with the team’s tempo during the 11-on-11 portion, verbally chastising his players and making them run off the field. The Ravens coach voiced his displeasure with some words unsuitable for this blog, but it was clear he wanted to send a message.

Workouts will resume on Sunday morning at 8:45 a.m. and an afternoon session at 2:45 p.m.

2:10 p.m. — While several of his teammates were outspoken after Marc Bulger signed a one-year, $3.8 million contract to back up starter Joe Flacco, the veteran was complimentary of his teammates’ help in learning the Baltimore offense, a system similar to what he had in St. Louis.

What remains to be learned is the different terminology and verbiage that comes with a new team.

“Troy [Smith] and [Flacco] and John [Beck] have been great to me, making some cheat sheets,” Bulger said. “I’ve got a long way to go, but I’m getting there.”

Bulger had opportunities to play elsewhere with a better opportunity to start, but his last few seasons with the Rams made him desperate to play for a winning organization. St. Louis went a combined 6-42 over the last three seasons.

“I love the [Rams] organization, but we just hadn’t been winning,” Bulger said. “It takes a lot of the fun out of it, and I wanted to win somewhere. Not that I couldn’t win other places, but I think that this team, after talking with [John Harbaugh] and his philosophy really intrigued me. … I see why they’re so proud about the organization.”

Bulger was also asked about the man who replaced him in St. Louis—rookie Sam Bradford—and the guaranteed $50 million he’ll receive from the Rams before ever taking a snap in the NFL. He didn’t have any advice for the former Oklahoma quarterback.

“No suggestions, just congratulations,” the former Rams quarterback said while laughing, “and his agents did a heck of a job. I’ve got the same ones.”

I’d say.

1:45 p.m. — With the hectic nature surrounding the Domonique Foxworth injury on Friday, I failed to provide an update on the kicking competition between Shayne Graham and Billy Cundiff.

During the morning session on Saturday, Graham connected from 30, 39, 44, and 51 yards but missed from 50 yards away. Cundiff made field goals from 30, 39, 44, 51, and 46 yards.

Special teams coordinator Jerry Rosburg talked about the competition between Graham and Cundiff and how different it is than the one between Steve Hauschka and Graham Gano in training camp a season ago.

“The way it’s different is we have two experienced, veteran NFL kickers in here doing that competition,” Rosburg said. “It’s going to be day to day, kick to kick, and then preseason games obviously. It’s important—as we all know—that you’re able to go kick in game environments.”

While we’ll continue to track each kicker’s daily performance in Westminster, the real key to the competition will be the four preseason games.Though Cundiff has an edge having been on the team last season, most insides believe Graham will ultimately prevail and be the team’s kicker by Week 1.

“My thinking on that is—it’s much like quarterbacks—practice is really good and it’s valuable and you learn a lot by watching guys play in practice,” Rosburg said. “For kickers, game environments are really valuable, too. That is part of the whole formula.”

12:50 p.m. — Highlights from the morning included a gorgeous pass from Joe Flacco to Derrick Mason for a long, 40-plus yard touchdown. Mason looks very sharp as he begins his 14th season in the league.

Donte’ Stallworth continues to impress in the early stages of training camp. He’s shown impressive speed with a quick burst. It’s clear he’s taking this opportunity very seriously as he tries to put the events of the last two years behind him and get his career back on track. If he can remain healthy—not a given when you look at his NFL career—he could really develop into the deep threat the Ravens have sorely lacked in their passing game for years.

The team scrimmaged live for the first time on Saturday morning with the defense doing an admirable job against the first-team offense. Ray Rice broke a Prescott Burgess tackle and gained eight yards on one play but found little running room overall in the live session.

During skeleton passing drills, Marc Bulger found a wide-open Dennis Pitta over the middle for a huge gain.

The secondary also missed an interception opportunity as Burgess and new safety Ken Hamlin battled for the ball. Neither came up with it as the football dropped harmlessly to the turf.

Despite the secondary currently being in disarray, injuries have created an opportunity for Travis Fisher, who looked more comfortable on Saturday morning after some shaky early sessions. The 30-year-old Fisher brings eight years of experience in the NFL and can really impress with Fabian Washington and Lardarius Webb continuing to work their way back from knee injuries.

12:40 p.m. — After receiving the question from Nick below, I wanted to pass along a couple of number changes. Ed Dickson is now wearing No. 83, trading with Davon Drew who will now sport No. 80.

Dickson wore the number in college and will compensate his teammate an undisclosed amount, according to Drew.

Hope I cleared up some confusion if you were out in Westminster the last two days.

12:25 p.m. — With Jared Gaither sidelined this morning, reserve Tony Moll worked out at right tackle with the starting offense as Michael Oher worked exclusively on the left side.

With Fabian Washington sidelined again, the starting corners were Chris Carr and Travis Fisher. Tom Zbikowski received most reps as the starting free safety with Ed Reed continuing to rehab from offseason hip surgery.

It was a worrisome sight seeing Washington, Reed, and Lardarius Webb—three of the four projected starters in the secondary—standing on the sidelines together and not wearing the pads. Thankfully, it’s only July 31 and not Sept. 13.

In other injury news, tight end Davon Drew did not practice this morning. He said after practice on Friday he was suffering from a slight hamstring strain but didn’t seem concerned about missing a significant amount of time.

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Live from Westminster: Cody passes conditioning test, vets checking into hotel

Posted on 28 July 2010 by Luke Jones

WESTMINSTER, Md. — Good afternoon from McDaniel College as the Ravens have wrapped up their second day of partial-squad workouts with the biggest news being the debut of rookie defensive tackle Terrence Cody who passed his conditioning test earlier this morning and participated fully in the morning workout.

This was obviously good news to coach John Harbaugh, who expressed pleasant surprise when learning the 350-pound tackle had passed the test. Rookie cornerback Prince Miller also passed the conditioning test and practice while the status of the other members of the PUP list remained unchanged for the morning session.

As for action on the field, it was another light, non-contact workout with players practicing in shells and shorts. Harbaugh will give the afternoon off to selected veterans already in camp as we await the arrival of the remaining veterans this afternoon.

Check back here throughout the day for updates (time-stamped below) and don’t forget to follow us on Twitter (@WNST) for the quickest updates from the field.

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5:30 p.m. — The Ravens have wrapped up the afternoon practice as the veterans continue to check into Westminster for training camp.

Most selected veterans who reported on Monday were given the afternoon off with the exception of a few practice squad players and the four quarterbacks on the roster.

In what might qualify as the first minor injury issue occurring at practice, defensive tackle Terrence Cody appeared to be suffering from a cramp in his right calf at the conclusion of practice. Members of the training staff with icing his lower leg, and the big man eventually walked off the field, albeit gingerly.

Receiver Marcus Smith had an impressive afternoon, snagging a bullet from Joe Flacco in the back of the end zone during a red zone drill. Smith is recovering from a torn ACL sustained in the preseason last year.

Backup quarterback Troy Smith threw what would have been a “pick-6” to rookie linebacker Albert McClellan at the goal line during the same red zone drill. McClellan has been impressive in the first two days of non-contact practice but doesn’t figure to factor into the team’s plans with an already deep linebacker unit.

We’ll next see the Ravens in action on Friday morning with the first full-squad workout at 8:45 a.m. Thursday is a team administrative day with all activity closed to the media and public.

2:45 p.m. — We’re counting down the minutes until the 3:30 workout, and I’m getting ready to head out to the field. Don’t forget to follow us on Twitter (@WNST) for the latest updates. Perhaps a few of the veterans will stop by the upper fields at McDaniel College for a brief visit?

2:40 p.m. — Updating the status of Matt Birk, the veteran center has been placed on the PUP list after a minor elbow procedure earlier this offseason. It had previously been speculated Birk was dealing with a neck issue.

He isn’t expected to be on the PUP list for very long.

2:15 p.m. — As we await the start of the afternoon practice at 3:30, the veterans are beginning to trickle into the team hotel. Some to arrive already include Rice, Donte’ Stallworth (who was given a ride by the Pro Bowl running back), Antwan Barnes, Chris Chester, Tom Zbikowski, Ben Grubbs, and new impact receiver Anquan Boldin.

The arriving veterans will take their physicals this afternoon after checking into the Best Western.

12:45 p.m. — Given his time in Philadelphia and the Bengals appearing to be the biggest roadblock to the division title, Harbaugh was asked about his thoughts on the Bengals signing Terrell Owens to a one-year contract on Tuesday.

“I really like T.O.,” Harbaugh said. “I think he’s a really good player. He’s a guy that we enjoyed being around for a couple years in Philly. I have a lot of respect for him. Obviously, it makes [Cincinnati] better.”

Marvin Lewis will have his hands full in Cincinnati with Owens joining flamboyant wideout Chad Ochocinco in the Bengals passing offense. It has the makings of a compelling reality TV show despite the headaches it may create for the former Ravens defensive coordinator.

“Marvin doesn’t need our sympathy,” said Harbaugh, drawing laughs from the media. “He’s not looking for it.”

12:40 p.m. — As mentioned before, it was another light day of practice this morning, but I thought I’d pass along a few notes of interest from the workout:

Matt Birk was on the field but did not participate as reports indicated he has been placed on the PUP list with a neck issue. He and Oniel Cousins (recovering from throat surgery) stood by the offensive linemen throughout practice.

During red zone drills (non-contact), rookie tight end Dennis Pitta was flagged for offensive pass interference after pushing off against Miller.

Receiver Mark Clayton—now battling for the No. 3 or 4 spot on the depth chart after starting for several seasons—caught a deep touchdown pass from Joe Flacco in the highlight play of the morning.

Backup quarterback Marc Bulger continues to be in more of a learning mode as he did not take too many reps during passing drills. Bulger, however, did work on plays later  during a walk-through portion of practice.

12:28 p.m. — Pro Bowl running back Ray Rice has just walked into the Best Western in Westminster, announcing his arrival at training camp.

12:25 p.m. — Though we’ve discussed the conditioning test for the last few days, Harbaugh finally explained what the test entails this morning after practice.

“It’s basically six [150-yard runs] in 25-yard intervals,” Harbaugh said. “Every position has a time, and then there’s a designated rest time that’s based on how long it takes to recover. It’s pretty well thought out.”

In other words, the time for a defensive tackle like Cody is not the same as the expectation for a defensive back such as Domonique Foxworth.

12:10 p.m. — Cody obviously expressed relief at the conclusion of his first practice after being cleared to play.

“It felt good [passing the test],” he said. “It was hard at first when I came in yesterday. I knew about the test, but I didn’t quite know how to run it.”

The 350-pound tackle failed the conditioning test on two occasions on Tuesday. Cody admits he still needs to improve his conditioning during training camp.

“It’s pretty good, but I can get better,” he said. “There’s always a lot of room for improvement. That’s what I had a talk with [Harbaugh], and it’s just I can get a lot better before the season starts.”

Despite some ribbing from defensive line coach Clarence Brooks and a few teammates on Tuesday, Cody received plenty of report as he prepared to take the conditioning test Tuesday morning.

“They weren’t too hard on him,” linebacker Jarret Johnson said. “That’s a tough task.”

11:55 a.m. — While John Harbaugh expressed a desire for rookie defensive tackle Terrence Cody—who claims to be right around his listed weight of 349 pounds—to shed a few more pounds before the start of the regular season, it was clear how pleased the head coach was with Cody passing the test early this morning before the 8:45 workout.

“I have to admit I was surprised this morning,” said Harbaugh, who rarely shows such candor when talking about a player’s health or conditioning.

Harbaugh reiterated this morning he wasn’t terribly surprised Cody had failed the test, admitting it poses a challenge to new players, veterans and rookies alike.

“It’s more demaning than most teams I’d say.”

As stated above, rookie free agent Prince Miller also passed the conditioning test, but veteran cornerback Walt Harris, who failed the test on Tuesday, did not practice on Wednesday morning, an indication he has yet to pass it.

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Mount Cody passes Wed. AM conditioning test, back on field in Westminster

Posted on 27 July 2010 by Luke Jones

WESTMINSTER, Md. —  The Ravens have wrapped up their first day of workouts of the summer with rookies, quarterbacks, and selected veterans participating in helmets and shells without contact in the morning and afternoon sessions.

The biggest news of the morning was the first revelation of who would be placed on the active PUP (physically unable to perform) list to start training camp. These players include rookie defensive tackle Terrence Cody and cornerback Walt Harris, who did not pass their respective conditioning tests.

Others believed to be on the list are safety Ed Reed (hip), cornerbacks Fabian Washington (knee) and Lardarius Webb (knee), linebacker Brendon Ayanbadejo (leg), offensive tackle Oniel Cousins (throat), running back Matt Lawrence (knee), cornerback Prince Miller, and receiver Rodelin Anthony.

It is still undetermined whether Jared Gaither (foot) will be played on PUP, as he was not present for Tuesday morning’s session despite John Harbaugh saying he expected him to be there Monday afternoon.

Unlike the reserve PUP list that keeps a player sidelined for the first six weeks of the regular season, players may come off the active PUP list at any point during training camp. However, once they’re removed, they are no longer eligible to return to the PUP list.

Players on the active PUP list still count toward the 80-man training camp roster.

Check back here for more updates (time-stamped below) throughout the rest of the day.

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6:00 p.m. — The afternoon session was very uneventful with the team running through many of the same individual drills we saw in the morning in addition to some special team alignments lead by special teams coordinator Jerry Rosburg.

There was no change in status among the 10 players placed on the active PUP list this morning, but Terrence Cody did do some agility work and running at the conclusion of the afternoon session.

It clearly wasn’t a good day for the rookie defensive tackle as defensive line coach even playfully—but truthfully—labeled him as “persona non grata.”

Ouch.

The big piece of news from the afternoon session was the appearance of safety Ed Reed, who did some stretching and agility work with trainer Bill Tessendorf. Reed, placed on the active PUP list this morning, isn’t expected back at practice anytime soon, but it was good seeing No. 20 doing some work on the field as he continues to recover from offseason hip surgery.

The Ravens will reconvene Wednesday morning at 8:45 a.m. for another day of lighter work by the quarterbacks, rookies, and select veterans.

2:23 p.m. — With the controversy created in Dallas over rookie Dez Bryant’s refusal to carry veteran Roy Williams’ shoulder pads, the Baltimore media asked Flacco which rookie he had chosen to carry his pads for the start of camp.

Of course, the humble—and at times, sarcastic—quarterback declined to have any kind of special attention and insists he’s perfectly capable of carrying his own equipment off the field.

“I don’t want to have some guy carry my pads in,” Flacco said. “Shoot, I feel bad when I’m over signing [autographs] and I’ve got to take this stuff off because the equipment guys come up and take it in for me. … I’ll never do that just because that’s not the way I am.”

1:50 p.m. — After several of his new teammates made comments in support of Troy Smith as the backup quarterback in recent weeks, Marc Bulger had his first opportunity to get out on the field with his quarterback counterparts this morning.

Despite voicing reservations over general manager Ozzie Newsome changing the complexion of the quarterback depth behind him a week ago, Flacco offered an optimistic outlook for Bulger’s ability to pick up Cameron’s offensive system in a timely manner.

“[Bulger’s] been in a similar offense, so it’s just like the little things, the different little words that we have for certain things,” Flacco said. “He’s run the same plays just like everybody pretty much has.”

Harbaugh praised Bulger’s interaction with the other quarterbacks to this point.

“He looked good to me,” the head coach said. “I think he did a nice job in the meetings last night in terms of communicating with our guys, and [Flacco] took him through our offense a little bit. … I think he’s in a learning mode right now.”

1:30 p.m. — The afternoon practice will take place at 3:30 p.m., and we can expect the same type of OTA pace with rookies still getting acclimated to their first training camp.

Of course, Harbaugh said the real test will be Friday when the players put the pads on and hit for the first time this summer.

“Usually, at every level—junior high, high school, college—the first day the pads come on, all knowledge of football leaves their head,” the head coach said. “They forget where they’re supposed to line up. They forget what the play is because the pads are on. You kind of get through that on Friday, and hopefully Saturday that calms down a bit.”

And what should come as no surprise, given Harbaugh’s special teams background as a coach under Andy Reid in Philadelphia, the rookies must understand the importance of special teams in order to make a very crowded, competitive 53-man roster.

“We made a point to draft guys that understand that,” he said. “There won’t be a rookie that makes this team unless he can contribute on special teams, so those guys all know that.”

Any rookie not taking Harbaugh’s words seriously should only look to defensive end Paul Kruger, the team’s second-round pick in 2009, who spent nearly the entire first half of his rookie season on the inactive list a year ago because of his inability to contribute on special teams.

12:45 p.m. — Offensive coordinator Cam Cameron also spoke at the podium following the morning practice.

He expressed optimism for the potential of his offense this season, given the acquisitions of Anquan Boldin and Donte’ Stallworth. Cameron is confident they will pick up the offense quickly after playing in the same system in other places.

“A lot of these plays, we call them the same, they’ve been calling them the same at other places,” he said. “Those guys will come in and haven’t missed a beat. Really, the creativity, that’s kind of the easy part. Execution and getting everybody on the same page [is] what training camp’s about.”

When asked whether the playbook would be tweaked to accommodate his new weapons in the passing game, Cameron explain he’s always tweaking the offense but doesn’t expect to make any drastic changes—not that he’d admit it to the media anyway.

“Execution is where we’re going to get better,” Cameron said. “We’re going to get better at executing in the base offense, continue to run the football, and just execute better. And then, we’ll kind of let the plays evolve from there.”

12:20 p.m. — Head to the BuyAToyota.com Audio Vault to hear from John Harbaugh, Cam Cameron, and Joe Flacco after the morning practice. You can also check out rookie receiver David Reed’s conversation with Thyrl Nelson right after the morning practice concluded!

11:55 a.m. — John Harbaugh spoke with the media following practice, describing the morning practice as a way to initiate the rookies and allow veterans coming off injury to work their way back slowly.

The head coach commented on players who failed the conditioning test, including Terrence Cody and newly-signed veteran cornerback Walt Harris.

“Part of our process is everybody’s got to pass a conditioning test to be sure that they’re ready to compete,” Harbaugh said. “It’s going to be hot out here. Our practices are fast.”

Harbaugh did not express too much shock in learning Cody had not passed the conditioning test, citing how others have failed the conditioning test in the past.

“I’m not surprised. It’s always every year certain guys struggle with that. Guys learn that there’s a certain level of expectation in terms of conditioning that goes with being an NFL team—especially with this team.”

The head coach also talked about his heightened expectations for the offense, citing a need to improve in the red zone. Harbaugh pointed to the continued improvement of Joe Flacco as the key for the offense moving to the next level.

“He’s really getting to that point where the whole offense becomes his offense,” he said, “so he can do more things, he can run more things, make more adjustments at the line of scrimmage, execute under fire a little bit when he’s got to play fast. I think one thing that’s really important is we’ve made a big emphasis on the red zone.”

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2010 Ravens Training Camp Preview: 10 Purple Questions

Posted on 27 July 2010 by Luke Jones

As the Ravens begin their 15th training camp at McDaniel College in Westminster, expectations are as high as they’ve ever been for a team with serious Super Bowl aspirations in 2010.

From the acquisition of impact receiver Anquan Boldin to the continued maturity of quarterback Joe Flacco, prognosticators across the country have earmarked the Ravens as serious contenders to raise the Lombardi Trophy at Cowboys Stadium in early February.

Despite the loud optimism for this Ravens team, many questions remain unanswered, as is the case with any of the 32 teams in late July.

In honor of this year’s 10th anniversary of the Ravens’ Super Bowl XXXV victory, I pose 10 questions as the men in purple report to McDaniel College this week:

1. What’s the deal with Ed Reed?

Reed’s name has created buzz throughout the offseason dating back to his uncertainty of whether he would return following the Ravens’ playoff loss in Indianapolis. Since then, the All-Pro safety has declared his intention to return, but when we’ll see him on the field is anyone’s guess.

After undergoing surgery to repair a torn labrum in his hip, Reed declared himself at only “35 percent” as late as last week in comments to various media outlets. Speculation persists that Reed will begin the season on the PUP (physically unable to perform) list and miss the first six weeks of the regular season.

In addition to his health, Reed’s relationship with the organization is on shaky ground after the veteran safety expressed his displeasure with the team’s amount of support during his recovery. Reed also shared his desire for a new contract several weeks ago when he spoke to Drew Forrester on The Morning Reaction and has repeated the sentiment several times since.

Regardless of Reed’s shaky standing with the team, his uncertain health with the hip and lingering nerve impingement in his neck and shoulder may force the Ravens to turn to newly-acquired veteran Ken Hamlin or third-year safety Tom Zbikowski to fill Reed’s void in the defensive backfield.

His health will be monitored closely over the next four weeks, as has been the case during the last two summers at McDaniel College.

2. Will Fabian Washington and Lardarius Webb be ready to go on September 13th?

Reed’s status will grab the headlines, but the health of Washington and Webb could prove equally critical as the two corners—both recovering from ACL injuries—will compete for the starting job opposite Domonique Foxworth in the Baltimore secondary.

Washington appears to be further along in his recovery, but both are candidates to begin training camp on the active-PUP list (eligible to come off the list at any point during camp). In the meantime, Chris Carr will receive reps as the other starting corner.

Slow recoveries for either Washington or Webb would open the door for new acquisitions Travis Fisher and Walt Harris to compete with Cary Williams (suspended for the first two regular season games) and Marcus Paschal for the final cornerback spots on the 53-man roster.

3. Is Joe Flacco ready to take the next step into stardom in his third season?

Entering his third season as starting quarterback and fully recovered from leg injuries that hampered him last season, Flacco is expected to take the next step in developing into one of the finer quarterbacks in the league.

The offseason acquisitions of Boldin and Donte’ Stallworth and the re-signing of veteran Derrick Mason give Flacco a plethora of weapons in the passing game in addition to the dependability of Ray Rice coming out of the backfield.

Flacco was criticized last season for checking down so often and avoiding the middle of the field, but the excuse of not having sufficient weapons will no longer be in play.

In order for the offense to grow, he will be expected to do even more in the passing game.

4. How quickly can Sergio Kindle recover from his accident in Austin?

While the details surrounding the accident remain sketchy, Kindle’s injury on Thursday night creates a nightmarish start to his NFL career with the Ravens, as the young linebacker will miss all of training camp with a fractured skull.

Kindle was expected to back up linebacker Jarret Johnson and provide a legitimate pass rushing threat on third down for the Baltimore defense, so the Ravens can only hope he makes a speedy recovery and eventually contributes to a pass rush that struggled to pressure the quarterback in 2009.

Unfortunately, it sounds more like a matter of if—not when—he can return to contribute before season’s end. It’s a major blow to the Baltimore defense but paves the way for Antwan Barnes, Jameel McClain, and Paul Kruger to become bigger factors in passing situations.

5. How prepared is Terrell Suggs to rebound from a disappointing 2009 campaign?

It was no secret that the organization was unhappy with Terrell Suggs’ 2009 campaign after he signed a $62.5 million contract last July. The linebacker arrived in Westminster out of shape and injured his heel on the third day of full-team workouts, sidelining him for the duration of training camp.

This translated into a sluggish season for the talented linebacker, which included a career-low 4.5 sacks and an MCL injury due to a low block from former Browns quarterback Brady Quinn.

Harbaugh voiced his displeasure with Suggs’ absence through much of the OTA schedule, so it will be interesting to see what kind of shape the linebacker is in when he reports to McDaniel College this week. A healthy, motivated Suggs is needed if the Ravens hope to pressure the quarterback and help mask would could be a depleted secondary to begin the season.

With Kindle’s unfortunate accident, it becomes even more crucial for Suggs to return to his previous Pro Bowl form.

6. Can Michael Oher and Jared Gaither pull off the flip-flop at offensive tackle?

There’s little doubt that Oher can handle the left tackle spot after filling in for an injured Gaither last season, but questions remain over the health and mental state of the new right tackle.

It’s no secret that Gaither wants a new contract, as the tackle delayed signing his restricted free agent tender until early June. Gaither also battled a foot injury through much of the OTA schedule, missing valuable reps as he makes the transition to right tackle—a position he hasn’t played since his days at the University of Maryland.

Should Gaither struggle to adjust to right tackle, it may force the Ravens to shuffle around other players into the right tackle spot or force them to abandon the switch and return Oher to the right side of the offensive line.

7. Will Shayne Graham (or Billy Cundiff) be able to silence the memories of Matt Stover?

The Ravens inked former Bengals kicker Graham to a one-year contract in hopes of finally silencing fans who clamored for Matt Stover last season as the Ravens struggled in the kicking game with Steve Hauschka.

Cundiff returns after being signed mid-season to replace Hauschka, but most believe Graham has the inside track for the job despite missing two critical kicks against the New York Jets in a playoff loss last season.

We’ll inevitably be tracking every kick from the fields of McDaniel College as we did last season with Hauschka and Graham Gano, but the kickers’ performance in the four preseason games will hold the most weight in determining who’s kicking for the Ravens in September. Unlike last summer, however, both Graham and Cundiff bring more experience to the table, providing more confidence that special teams coordinator Jerry Rosburg can choose a viable solution in the kicking game.

8. How much longer will Troy Smith be a Raven after the acquisition of Marc Bulger to back up Flacco?

Several players, including Flacco and Reed, have voiced their support for Smith as the backup, but the fact remains Ozzie Newsome and the Ravens have invested $3.8 million in Bulger to be the backup behind Flacco.

While Smith has said all the right things to this point, he has to see the writing on the wall as he’s now relegated to No. 3 quarterback duties. The problem for Smith is none of the other 31 teams have shown a strong interest in acquiring his services after he expressed a strong desire to start for another team at the end of last season.

As of now, Smith will compete with John Beck for the third spot, but it remains very possible that Smith finds himself on another roster before training camp ends.

Needless to say, the Ravens don’t want an unneeded distraction in the locker room, but it appears Smith’s supporters will continue to sing his praises, likely contributing to his departure at some point.

9. Can “Mount” Cody help form a brick wall in the middle of the Baltimore defense?

The 350-pound rookie will need to keep his weight at a manageable level, but the coaching staff was thrilled with his athleticism and strength during OTAs. Coupled with Pro Bowl defensive tackle Haloti Ngata, it’s no secret Newsome envisioned a brick wall in the middle of the Ravens defense reminiscent of the tandem of Tony Siragusa and Sam Adams.

Cody will begin his rookie season backing up Kelly Gregg, but if the big man is as good as advertised and maintain his conditioning, it won’t be long before Ngata and Cody form a 700-pound monster on the inside—that will also keep blockers away from Ray Lewis.

With Kindle’s rookie season now in serious doubt, Cody becomes the most likely (and needed) draft pick to make a serious impact in 2010.

10. Will the aging Ravens defense continue to fight off Father Time?

While three defensive starters over the age of 30 may not sound like a big deal, it is when two of them are Ray Lewis (35) and Reed (31). The other starter Kelly Gregg (33) will battle Cody for playing time while Trevor Pryce (35) remains a key member of the defensive line rotation.

Reed’s health issues are well-documented (see question 1) and may not have much time left despite his desire for a new contract.

Lewis continues to be an enigma at the inside linebacker position where even the greatest of all time typically retire by their early 30s. He lacks the speed he had in the prime of his career, but his cerebral approach and leadership are invaluable to the Baltimore defense.

Newsome has drafted young talent to supplement the veterans on the defensive side of the ball, but injuries to these key veterans likely prevents this unit from being great as it has been for so many years.

Of course, the Ravens are banking on having a more explosive offense, so simply having a good—not great—defense might be enough to take Baltimore deep into the playoffs. If the defense’s elder statesmen can fight off Father Time for one more season, they’ll have a chance to play for a ring in early February.

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Some Sound Weekend Advice .....

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Some Sound Weekend Advice …..

Posted on 25 June 2010 by Rex Snider

It’s the first weekend of SUMMER and that means everybody tends to “unwind” a little more on their Saturday and Sunday sabbatical, right?

Whether you’re headed to the beach, boating on the bay, watching a couple last place teams at Camden Yards (who didn’t foresee that when the schedules came out) or simply enjoying HUMID BALTIMORE HEAT, we’re all ready to coronate summer.

Especially after the hellish, awful memories of just four short months ago …..
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I absolutely hate winter and those feelings were strong long before we suffered three blizzards, since last December. Most people forget the sh*tload of snow that fell on our city just a week before Christmas, last year. Not me. It cost hundreds of thousands to shovel out M&T Bank Stadium for the home finale, and watching the Chicago Bears on the field – after finally making it to town – gave new meaning to the old phrase “like watching a monkey @#&% a football.”

I’m ready for SUMMER. That said, I’ll continue my recent habit of laying low – I’m still recovering from Vegas. And, its my mother-in-law’s 85th birthday ….

But, I have plenty of advice for YOU, going forward.

Just consider the following …..
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RELAX – DON’T DO IT …..

Yeah, Frankie Goes To Hollywood made the phrase famous, but it really does apply to Ravens fans, this weekend. It’s been a somewhat hectic week in Owings Mills and as Ravens-faithful do during the off-season, we’re trying to decipher the team’s decisions.

That’s exactly what we did when the news of Marc Bulger’s imminent signing became public, right?
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I’ve heard every possible “spin” when it comes to virtual scenarios. As Glenn Clark said yesterday, “THERE IS ZERO CHANCE MARC BULGER IS COMING HERE TO CHALLENGE JOE FLACCO.” It ain’t happening.

Indeed, he’s coming to town to take another guy’s job – but it ain’t Joe’s ….

Here is my reasoning on Bulger’s addition ….. he is simply the best fit to serve as the backup to #5. He’s at that point in his career. He’s a better choice than Troy Smith.

Bulger has the experience to mentor and advise Flacco, if such a situation arises. Troy Smith doesn’t ….

Bulger has the on-field credibility to ensure he’ll do the right thing. Troy Smith doesn’t ….

Bulger wants to be here. Troy Smith doesn’t ….

There you go. It’s the backup job – nothing more, nothing less. Don’t sweat it ….
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Umm …. okay. I’m not worried about Bulger, unless he picked up any bad habits from his buddy in St. Louis.

Take my advice, don’t worry about the Ravens’ quarterback situation over the weekend.
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DON’T DO DRUGS

Yep, this is a famous phrase, too. “Hi, this is Dwayne Stomp of Blacktooth ….”

Do you remember that ???

Enjoy an ice cold beer, this weekend. Whether your inner-NASCAR personality shows up and craves a bottle of Bud …. or you crack a Dos Equis, while envisioning yourself as “the most interesting man in the world,” have at it. Just be responsible. Don’t drink and drive – and don’t do drugs. You don’t wanna look like this, do you …..
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Okay, so the “don’t do drugs” line is corny. But, when I saw these photos, I had to figure out a way to get ’em in a blog. Wow !!!!

You can find a full selection of such comparisons HERE

But, be warned …. an empty stomach will fare much better when viewing the submissions.

Take my advice, don’t do drugs this weekend.
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It’s USA vs. Ghana – Join WNST @ Looney’s In Bel Air !!!!

Thanks to Landon Donovan, the U.S. team is still alive in the World Cup. The next game is tomorrow at 2:30 pm and WNST is hosting a viewing party, at Looney’s in Bel Air.

If you’re not headed out of town, stop by Looney’s and enjoy the game. Nestor and other WNST personalities will be on hand to cheer the RED, WHITE and BLUE. As I’ve said many times, even if you’re not a big soccer fan, the World Cup certainly offers that PATRIOTIC feel for sports fans.

Looney’s provides the very best atmosphere for the game, while enjoying great food and fare. I’m a big fan of Looney’s signature CRAB TOAST, as well as the CHEESE STEAK SUBS.
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And, did I mention FIFTY TELEVISIONS throughout Looney’s entertainment area? Indeed, you’ll be afforded every possible view of Saturday’s sports action around the world.

WNST and WNST.net is your home for all World Cup coverage, and tomorrow’s party is just the “next stop” on our celebration of soccer.

Take my advice ….. come to Looney’s for some Saturday afternoon fun.
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Don’t Hang With Bears …. If You Wanna Live To See Next Summer

I was watching yesterday’s nightly news when I saw one of the strangest and STUPIDEST ventures, ever. A segment of the episode was devoted to a guy from Montana, who has taken up the habit of befriending a Grizzly Bear as an everyday pal.

Yup, before I type another word about this story, we all know how it’s gonna end, right?

Naturalist Casey Anderson evidently doesn’t have enough HUMAN FRIENDS. So, he struck up a relationship with a bear cub, a while back. Well, that cub has grown into an 800 pound, adult Grizzly Bear – naturally equipped with razor-sharp 8-inch claws and a trademark set of chompers.
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We’ve seen acts like this a few times. And, as cute as it seems right now, history promises that a bloody demise is in the future.

Whenever man screws with wildlife something bad results. Thus, I have no doubt that Casey Anderson will not be long for this earth, if he doesn’t start evaluating his “friendships.”

Grizzly Bears are not pets. They’re behemoth creatures who usually spend their day KILLING something to eat. But, not Brutus. He eats donuts and mashmallows – for now.

And, while I’d like to believe Casey Anderson’s insanity is isolated, I’m no sure. Hell, his entire family is now enjoying this quirky relationship …..
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I guess the family enjoyed their REALITY TV exposure, last Thanksgiving. But, just wait ’til Brutus develops a taste for that Turkey on the table. Look closely at the picture. Yup, he’s gonna lop that girl’s head off and maul that ZZ-Top lookin’ dude in his devotion to devour that roasted bird in a couple bites.

Maybe, this story doesn’t continue ’til next November.

Casey is currently training Brutus to swim and catch salmon. That’s right the damn bear has been so domesticated that it can’t even develop its inherent traits.

So, Casey is gonna teach him. Then, they’re planning a trip to visit a few long lost Kodiak neighbors for some fishing …..
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If, for some reason, Brutus the Grizzly Bear doesn’t EAT Casey Anderson before they travel to Kodiak Island to meet MORE BEARS, I’m gonna predict Casey doesn’t return from the Alaskan experiment.

We know the stories ….

Man lives among bears …. man eats with bears …. man sleeps with bears …. man DISAPPEARS one day and the bears don’t !!!!

You recall the story of Timothy Treadwell (aka Grizzly Man) right? Here’s the last photo of him …..
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He was the outdoors enthusiast who was living among Grizzlies and documenting the footage on his video camera. Treadwell and his girlfriend were attacked and eaten by their “FRIENDS”. The video camera still has audio evidence of the attack, but it has not been released.

That’s what happens when you hang around with wild animals who eat MEAT and kill their meal everyday.

Good luck to Casey Anderson. Live it up – enjoy the goofiness of your Grizzly buddy …..
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Just mark my words …. I think this whole story ends badly.

So, take my advice ….. don’t hang with BEARS this weekend – or EVER !!!!
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If You’re Headed To Camden Yards, Give Nick Markakis A Nice Round Of Applause

That’s right, I said it. I realize I’ve been pretty critical of the Orioles rightfielder, especially as it regards his diminished power numbers and basepath aggressiveness. And, I leveled some calculated criticism in response to his public remarks regarding the team, last week.

I was concerned about Nick’s plight and if an alterior motive (wanting out of town ???) was really fueling the incident of public revelation; it’s very Non-Nick to see any comments that can be construed as controversial.

However, we’re now learning that he requested and was granted a meeting with Orioles owner, Peter Angelos, earlier this week. He wanted to “clear the air,” while ensuring that he is committed to the Orioles franchise and that he LOVES living in Baltimore.
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That’s music to my ears. In fact, that’s exactly what I want to hear …. as a fan and stakeholder in this community.

I really like hearing that players make a home here, while supporting and energizing the local communities.

Are we starting to see a spirit of leadership from Nick Markakis? It sure looks like it. Requesting a meeting with the BOSS – to set things straight, “eye to eye” is exactly how to do it. Good for Nick …. and good for the Orioles.

Yes, this franchise still has a very long way to go – and a severely deep hole to escape. But, seeing accountability and commitment from the veteran members is inspiring from a foundational perspective.

This goes beyond homeruns and stolen bases. Yeah, I still want more of them …..
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But, I’m really impressed to see how Nick is handling these recent circumstances surrounding the team. It’s indicative of leadership – something the Orioles need.

So, if you’re headed to the Orioles/Nationals series, give Nick a hardy hand when he steps to the plate. Let him hear it.

Take my advice – heck, I’m taking it. I’ve been harder on him than anyone. But, he really deserves some acknowledgement.

Have A Great Weekend !!!!

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Ravens ink QB Marc Bulger to 1-year deal

Posted on 23 June 2010 by Luke Jones

In an effort to improve their depth behind starter Joe Flacco, the Baltimore Ravens have signed veteran quarterback Marc Bulger to a one-year, $3.8 million deal Wednesday, according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter.

The deal will also include incentives that could be reached should Bulger receive more snaps than expected in 2010.

Entering his 10th season, Bulger had spent his entire career with the St. Louis Rams, taking the reins of the St. Louis offense permanently in 2003 after backing up Kurt Warner for two years. The 33-year-old quarterback played in nine games last season, going 140 of 247 for 1,469 yards, five touchdowns, and six interceptions.

The Rams released Bulger in early April, clearing the way for St. Louis to draft Oklahoma quarterback Sam Bradford with the top pick of the NFL Draft a few weeks later.

Bulger joins returning backups Troy Smith and John Beck but clearly figures to be the No. 2 behind Flacco, who is entering his third season as the team’s starter. A $3.8 million investment in a backup is a hefty price, but general manager Ozzie Newsome has significantly improved the depth at the quarterback position.

Are you on the WNST Text Service? If so, you received the news before everyone else! Click here to sign up. We Never Stop Texting Baltimore sports!

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