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Ravens-Chiefs Preseason Primer: What to watch tonight

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Ravens-Chiefs Preseason Primer: What to watch tonight

Posted on 18 August 2011 by Luke Jones

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Playing their preseason home opener on Friday night, the Ravens envision a better showing against the Kansas City Chiefs after a lackluster effort in Philadelphia last week.

Coach John Harbaugh said starters will play well into the second quarter, a higher workload than you’ll typically find in the second preseason game, in an effort to accelerate the development of a young offense with question marks along the offensive line. With starting lineman Matt Birk (knee surgery) and Marshal Yanda (back spams) current sidelined, the Ravens will use Bryan Mattison at center, Oniel Cousins at right guard, and rookie Jah Reid at tackle — an uncomfortable proposition for quarterback Joe Flacco.

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Friday will also mark the preseason debuts for newly-acquired veterans Ricky Williams and Lee Evans. Williams had only practiced once prior to the opener against the Eagles, and the Ravens traded a fourth-round pick to Buffalo to bring the veteran wideout Evans to Baltimore a day after the Ravens’ 13-6 loss last week.

The Ravens will also welcome three former players back to Baltimore as defensive tackle Kelly Gregg, fullback Le’Ron McClain, and offensive tackle Jared Gaither all signed with the Chiefs after spending multiple years in Baltimore. Gregg was released to create salary cap space while McClain and Gaither departed as unrestricted free agents.

Series history

The Ravens and Kansas City have never met in the preseason, but Baltimore’s 30-7 thrashing over the Chiefs in the Wild Card round last year will be fresh on everyone’s mind.

However, the Chiefs hold a slight advantage in the regular season series, 3-2. Kansas City won the first three meetings between the two AFC teams before the Ravens earned victories in 2006 and 2009.

Kansas City connections

In addition to the three former Ravens now on the Kansas City roster, there are several other links between the two teams.

Safety Bernard Pollard began his NFL career with the Chiefs after being selected by them in the second round of the 2006 draft. He played three seasons in Kansas City, accumulating 189 tackles, three interceptions, and one sack before being released prior to the start of the 2009 season.

Chiefs receiver Terrance Copper played two games for the Ravens in the 2008 season, Harbaugh’s first season as head coach. On the flip side, Ravens kicker Billy Cundiff spent time during the 2008 offseason on the Kansas City roster.

Chiefs defensive line coach Anthony Pleasant played defensive end for the Ravens in their inaugural season of 1996 after spending the first six years of his career in Cleveland.

Kansas City tackle Branden Albert (Glen Burnie) and receivers coach Richie Anderson (Sandy Springs) are Maryland natives.

And perhaps the most interesting connection is Chiefs general manager Scott Pioli’s former role as the pro personnel coordinator for the Ravens in 1996. Pioli moved to Baltimore from Cleveland, where he worked as a personnel assistant for the Browns for four seasons.

Injury report

Yanda (back spasms) will not play after missing five straight days of practice this week, though Harbaugh is hopeful the guard can return for next week’s game against Washington. Birk has been sidelined since the first full week of camp after undergoing arthroscopic knee surgery.

Cornerback Chris Carr missed practice on Tuesday and Wednesday after straining his hamstring in Monday’s workout, leaving his status against the Chiefs in doubt.

Others not expected to play include receiver James Hardy (hamstring), running back Damien Berry (leg), and defensive back Marcus Paschal.

Receiver David Reed missed practice on Wednesday after being activated from the physically-unable-to-perform list at the beginning of the week.

Veteran cornerback Domonique Foxworth has increased his workload in practice in recent days as he continues to work his way back from the ACL injury that wiped out his entire 2010 season. The former Maryland star has worked with the second team while rookie Jimmy Smith and third-year player Cary Williams took reps with the starting defense. Foxworth did not play in the preseason opener.

7 Players to Watch

1. WR Lee Evans – Friday night’s game will mark one week since the Ravens acquired Evans from the Bills. The eighth-year veteran stepped into the starting lineup on his first day of practice, but Evans still needs to develop timing with Flacco. The former Wisconsin Badger has shown impressive speed in practice, including a fly route on Monday that caused Carr to pull up lame.

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After Stadium Practice, Better Idea of What Ravens Will Look Like in Preseason Opener

Posted on 06 August 2011 by Glenn Clark

BALTIMORE — Following an annual open practice at M&T Bank Stadium in front of 24,078; fans will not have another opportunity to see the Baltimore Ravens again until their preseason opener against the Philadelphia Eagles Thursday night at Lincoln Financial Field.

Sunday’s practice provided some clarity for Ravens fans however, as the team gave a look at would could be expected at various positions.

QUARTERBACK:

There’s of course no question as to who the team’s starting quarterback will be Thursday (Joe Flacco). But with starters not expected to play much in the opener, the retirement of 2010 backup Marc Bulger has left the Ravens with little experience behind him.

Rookie Tyrod Taylor (Virginia Tech) has worked as the team’s backup in Training Camp, and will be likely to get the most snaps Thursday night after Flacco departs. Following Taylor is Hunter Cantwell, a practice squad QB a year ago who is currently the team’s third stringer. Cantwell did VERY limited work in Saturday’s practice and appears to clearly be behind Taylor on the depth chart.

The team could still make a move to bring in a veteran backup before Thursday night, but it would be unlikely a new quarterback would get significant playing time as early as Thursday after limited practice.

RUNNING BACK:

Once again, the team has no questions as far as starters are concerned. 2009 Pro Bowl RB Ray Rice and 2010 Pro Bowl FB Vonta Leach will patrol the backfield to open the game; but neither are expected to play significant time.

The RB position behind Rice is wide open at the moment. The most likely candidates to enter after Rice are Jalen Parmele and rookie Anthony Allen (Georgia Tech), who have each taken second team reps in practice. Parmele is more probable, but both are expected to see a number of plays.

Undrafted rookie Damien Berry (Miami) appears to be fourth on the RB depth chart at the moment, but should keep getting work. If the Ravens don’t add veteran depth at the position, he’s very much in the battle for a roster spot. The team also has undrafted rookie and Mervo grad Walter Sanders (St. Augustine) on the roster, he’ll likely see a few snaps in the second half of Thursday night’s contest as well.

The wild card in the group is veteran RB/ST Matt Lawrence, who missed all of the 2010 season with a knee injury. Lawrence has had very little participation in camp thus far (he did not practice Saturday), but would be expected to see playing time Thursday night if healthy.

Undrafted FB Ryan Mahaffey (Northern Iowa) could see snaps behind Leach.

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Mocking The 53: A Positional Breakdown of Ravens Roster

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Mocking The 53: A Positional Breakdown of Ravens Roster

Posted on 08 June 2011 by Glenn Clark

Here is my first offseason/preseason ranking of the players who are currently property of the Baltimore Ravens or who were property of the team at the end of the 2010 season.

This list INCLUDES players who are not under contract-whether they are tendered restricted free agents, draft picks, exclusive rights free agents or even players who are expected to reach unrestricted free agency this offseason.

Unlike in the past, I will do this list by position as I attempt to further explain how the team’s roster currently shapes up.

I apologize for my delay in putting this compilation together. Blame Gary Williams…and the Triple Crown…and the team’s practices at Towson University…and my own laziness.

Obviously there is much to be done before any of this matters, but this is simply “as the roster stands now” analysis.

Quarterbacks (4):
Joe Flacco
Marc Bulger (UFA)
Tyrod Taylor
Hunter Cantwell

tyrod

The quarterback position is still in much less than full clarity at this point.

Joe Flacco has been a NFL quarterback for  55 games, including the playoffs. Joe Flacco has played every snap in 55 of those 55 games.

A season ago, the Ravens took a slight risk by parting ways with two backups-trading John Beck to the Washington Redskins during Training Camp and releasing Troy Smith after the preseason finale in St. Louis. They decided to carry only two active quarterbacks, paying a hefty price for veteran backup Marc Bulger.

Bulger appears to be out in Charm City, with most in the league believing he is destined to sign with the Arizona Cardinals. The Ravens knew they’d need to address quarterback depth during the draft and did so by selecting the explosive former Virginia Tech Hokies star (Taylor-pictured above) in the 6th round.

While Taylor (who hails from the quarterback hotbed of Hampton, Virginia) certainly has a number of supporters who believe him capable of being a legitimate starter in the league-he will not play that role in Baltimore unless there is turmoil this season one way or another (injury or failure).

Flacco is the starter. Taylor will have a great chance of making the roster. The real question facing the team is how else to address the position. It is believed that the Ravens will pursue another veteran QB of sorts when (if?) free agency finally begins. Miami Dolphins QB Chad Pennington has been a much rumored name the team could consider pursuing.

Should the Ravens not acquire a veteran free agent to backup Flacco, Cantwell could remain in the mix. He spent the entire 2010 season on the team’s practice squad-but has in the past been an active part of the Carolina Panthers’ roster.

With Taylor unlikely to be let go (or placed at risk of being taken away by trying to move him to the practice squad) but also unlikely to be the primary backup early in his career, it is fairly safe to assume the team will keep three quarterbacks this season.

Running Backs/Fullbacks (8):
Ray Rice
Le’Ron McClain
Willis McGahee
Jalen Parmele
Matt Lawrence
Jason McKie
Anthony Allen
Curtis Steele

parmele

Rice is obviously the team’s “featured” back. The issue for Cam Cameron’s offense this offseason is figuring out how to complement the fourth year back moving forward.

The worst kept secret in football is that the Ravens intend to part ways with McGahee because he is unwilling to take a cut from the $6 million he is owed. Should McGahee find the market slim there would always be a chance he could look towards Baltimore again, but it certainly appears unlikely.

With McGahee apparently gone, the Ravens will have to build their backfield without him. One option is McClain, who had his best season yet as a true fullback in 2010 (despite the fact that he was actually passed over for Pro Bowl recognition by Houston Texans FB Vonta Leach) but who has made clear his desire to carry the football more often.

McClain was initially thought to be on the cusp of reaching free agency this offseason (and departing), but without a new CBA McClain (and other fourth and fifth year players) would likely remain under contract. McClain’s size and potential goal line/short distance ability make him potentially a solid complement for Rice.

Should the Ravens move McClain into that role, they would likely need to consider keeping McKie or otherwise improving the fullback position. McKie was a non-factor during his brief stay at the end of the 2010 season-but could be a viable option in a thin market.

Parmele (pictured above) is the wild card in the backfield. The coaching staff has remained high on him throughout his time in Baltimore (and he has connections with Cameron dating back to the Dolphins). Parmele has remained a value special teams player (and is a viable return option), but he has run the ball only seven times in his career.

Lawrence, Allen and Steele are all question marks (and possibly longshots) to make the roster. Lawrence is a talented special teams player but missed the 2010 season with a torn ACL. Allen (the team’s 7th round pick in the 2011 NFL Draft) is hoping his 6’1″, 228 pound frame is enough to get him on the roster. Steele spent the 2010 season on the practice squad after signing as an undrafted free agent out of Memphis. The team liked his quick hitting ability, but he will have an uphill climb-especially if there is no Training Camp.

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Pro Days Nearly in Books as Draft Season Begins Home Turn

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Pro Days Nearly in Books as Draft Season Begins Home Turn

Posted on 06 April 2011 by Glenn Clark

With only Notre Dame left amongst significant Pro Timing Days this season, NFL Draft season is now headed to pro facilities, as teams will host private meetings with prospects.

This of course is all happening despite the fact that the league and the players are battling in court in Minneapolis.

Before I continue, I remind you of the players we have already profiled during Draft season.

QB-Ricky Dobbs (Navy), Pat Devlin (Delaware), Colin Kaepernick (Nevada), Josh Portis (California-Pennsylvania), Taylor Potts (Texas Tech), Christian Ponder (Florida State), Tyrod Taylor (Virginia Tech), Jake Locker (Washington), Greg McElroy (Alabama), Andy Dalton (TCU), Jeremiah Masoli (Ole Miss)
FB
-Anthony Sherman (Connecticut), Owen Marecic (Stanford), Shaun Chapas (Georgia)
RB
-Evan Royster (Penn State), Da’Rel Scott (Maryland), DeMarco Murray (Oklahoma), Damien Berry (Miami), Kendall Hunter (Oklahoma State), Roy Helu Jr. (Nebraska), Alex Green (Hawaii), Shane Vereen (Cal), Jordan Todman (UConn), Dion Lewis (Pitt), Jacquizz Rodgers (Oregon State), Mark Ingram (Alabama), Ryan Williams (Virginia Tech)
WR
-Lester Jean (Florida Atlantic), Terrence Toliver (LSU), Leonard Hankerson (Miami), Austin Pettis (Boise State), Denarius Moore (Tennessee), Owen Spencer (North Carolina State), Jock Sanders (West Virginia), Titus Young (Boise State), Vincent Brown (San Diego State), Ryan Whalen (Stanford), Torrey Smith (Maryland), Randall Cobb (Kentucky), Jon Baldwin (Pittsburgh), Greg Salas (Hawaii), Cecil Shorts III (Mount Union), Jerrel Jernigan (Troy), Niles Paul (Nebraska)
TE-Will Yeatman (Maryland)
OT
-Matthew O’Donnell (Queens University Canada), Gabe Carimi (Wisconsin), Nate Solder (Colorado), Anthony Costanzo (Boston College), Joseph Barksdale (LSU), Derek Sherrod (Mississippi State)
G-Danny Watkins (Baylor)
C-Zane Taylor (Utah), Kris O’Dowd (Southern Cal), Rodney Hudson (Florida State), Brandon Fusco (Slippery Rock)
DE
-Justin Trattou (Florida), Allen Bailey (Miami), Eddie Jones (Texas), Ryan Kerrigan (Purdue), Brooks Reed (Arizona), Cliff Matthews (South Carolina), JJ Watt (Wisconsin), Cameron Heyward (Ohio State), Dontay Moch (Nevada), D’Aundre Reed (Arizona), Aldon Smith (Missouri), Adrian Clayborn (Iowa)
DT-Muhammad Wilkerson (Temple)
LB
-Mark Herzlich (Boston College), Casey Matthews (Oregon), Adrian Moten (Maryland), Nate Irving (NC State), Colin McCarthy (Miami), Martez Wilson (Illinois), Kelvin Sheppard (Louisiana State), Alex Wujciak (Maryland)
S
-Jermale Hines (Ohio State), Jaiquawn Jarrett (Temple), Maurice Rolle (Louisiana-Lafayette), Rahim Moore (UCLA), Ahmad Black (Florida)
CB-Anthony Gaitor (Florida International), Aaron Williams (Texas), Jalil Brown (Colorado), Jimmy Smith (Colorado), DeMarcus Van Dyke (Miami), Brandon Harris (Miami), Ras-I Dowling (Virginia), Richard Sherman (Stanford)

If you missed any of those profiles, you can check them out in the archives here at WNST.net.

Part 1-A look at players who participated in the East West Shrine Game in Orlando, Florida
Part 2-A look at players who participated in the Senior Bowl in Mobile, Alabama
Part 3-A look at players who participated in the NFLPA Game (former Texas vs. The Nation Game) in San Antonio, Texas
Parts 456-Previews of players ahead of the NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis
Part 7-A look back at players who made in impact at the National Football League Scouting Combine at LucasOil Stadium in Indy
Parts 8 & 9-A look at players who participated in early Pro Timing Days

The Baltimore Ravens (obviously) made no personnel changes this week, so my team needs remain the same…

1. Defensive End
2. Offensive Tackle
3. Wide Receiver
4. Cornerback
5. Fullback
6. Inside Linebacker
7. Safety
8. Center
9. Running Back
10. Quarterback

Here are ten more prospects whose schools have already held their Pro Timing Days.

Thanks to CBSSports.com/NFLDraftScout.com, NFLDraftBible.com, WNST.net (The AP), ESPN.com, NFL.com, Wikipedia, YouTube and various official athletic websites for helping to put together the profiles.

DE Sam Acho (Texas)

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ea4RHlaq8eg&feature=fvst[/youtube]

Acho became an interesting name in Charm City when he told us at the Combine he had met with the Ravens. Clearly the team had gone down the “Longhorns pass rusher” road recently (see Kindle, Sergio), and they desperately need a rush end.

Acho is a 6’2″, 262 pound beast who tallied eight sacks in each his junior and senior seasons in Austin. He has decent speed (he posted a 4.67 forty yard dash at the Combine and sat on the number at his Pro Day) and has shown the ability to be a solid pass rusher at the college level.

The Ravens will have to figure out if that can translate to a level in the NFL that allows him to partner up with LB Terrell Suggs to get after quarterbacks.

If Kindle’s off-field issues scare fans into thinking the team should avoid all former ‘Horns defenders altogether, consider some of Acho’s accomplishments.

-William V. Campbell Trophy winner (nation’s top football student-athlete)
-2010 Wuerffel Trophy (all-around excellence in athletic, academic and community achievement)
-ARA Sportsmanship Award
-UT’s seventh two-time Academic All-American
-member of the 2010 AFCA Good Works Team
-2010 National Football Foundation Scholar-Athlete
-finalist for the 2010 Lott IMPACT Trophy and Lowe’s Senior CLASS Award

The Ravens will have to decide whether Acho’s on-field ability warrants a late Thursday or early Friday selection, but they shouldn’t be concerned about him away from the field at all.

(Acho joined Thyrl Nelson last week on “The Mobtown Sports Beat” on AM1570 WNST, make sure you hit the BuyAToyota.com Audio Vault here at WNST.net if you missed him!)

RB Mikel Leshoure (Illinois)

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

I would be FLOORED if the Ravens selected Leshoure with the 26th pick in the Draft. I wouldn’t be surprised at all if the Ravens selected him in the 2nd round should he be available.

Leshoure is a 6’0″, 227 pound back with solid speed (4.56 40) who exploded on the scene in 2010. Leshoure posted nearly 1,900 yards of total offense and 20 total touchdowns after totaling just over 900 yards in 2009.

Seeing the way NFL teams have considered the number of touches a back has at the college level more and more, Leshoure decided to leave Champaign a year early and keep as much tread on his tires as possible.

The Ravens will need to overhaul their backfield this offseason. RB Willis McGahee is expected to be let go, FB Le’Ron McClain could depart as an unrestricted free agent. The team needs to figure out how to pair someone with their undersized superstar Ray Rice to carry them offensively.

Leshoure’s size could make him a decent complement paired with Rice.

But I would still only expect it to be possible if Leshoure slips to 58th.

LB Akeem Dent (Georgia)

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MJbNrEv5zXc[/youtube]

The Ravens have issues at Inside Linebacker.

They have a future Hall of Famer at one position (Ray Lewis) who-while still performing at a Pro Bowl level-is not getting any younger.

Lining up next to him, the team has attempted to see Tavares Gooden, Dannell Ellerbe or Jameel McClain nail down a spot-but none of them have done so.

They have to find some better answers at ILB.

Dent recently met with Ravens LB Dean Pees, meaning the team is at least considering a Saturday selection on the former Bulldogs backer. He’s 6’1″, 242 pounds with underwhelming speed (4.78), but he capped his career with Athens with an exceptional 122 tackle, three sack, two forced fumble senior campaign.

There’s nothing about Dent in particular that really makes him stand out-but he’s been productive against SEC offenses and has shown decent character.

For a team needing help at the position, that might be all that’s necessary.

QB Ricky Stanzi (Iowa)

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7p9xT-7-UkU[/youtube]

When Gil Brandt reported that the Ravens’ QB coach attended Stanzi’s Pro Day in Iowa City, I will admit that I was a bit confused.

Jim Zorn has since taken over the same role with the Kansas City Chiefs, leaving Offensive Coordinator Cam Cameron and Offensive Assistant Craig Ver Steeg to split the responsibilities of working with Joe Flacco.

It is believed (from the folks in Owings Mills I talked to) that Ver Steeg was the coach working with Stanzi at Iowa’s Pro Day. It’s certainly a sign that the team is legitimately considering Stanzi as an option should backup Marc Bulger depart (or perhaps even if he ends up returning).

Stanzi had a solid career for the Hawkeyes, compiling a 3,000 yard senior season to finish off a 7,377 yard/56 TD career. He has solid size (6’4″, 223 pounds) and while he isn’t quick, he did improve his 40 time to 4.93 at Pro Day.

There will likely be some concerns still lingering from a 2009 ankle injury that forced him to miss time, but he didn’t miss a game in 2010.

The Ravens probably won’t even think about quarterbacks until Saturday-as they are not looking for someone who will need to play (unless there’s an emergency situation) in 2011. If Stanzi remains on the board after three rounds, he will have to at least be a consideration.

CB Brandon Burton (Utah)

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X8HHyOuT4NM[/youtube]

This won’t be the first time I will have written about the Ravens’ CB situation as they (eventually) enter the offseason.

CB’s Chris Carr, Josh Wilson and Fabian Washington are all unrestricted free agents. CB Domonique Foxworth is coming off of an ACL injury that cost him the entire season. CB Cary Williams is an exclusive rights free agent.

As of this moment, the team has Lardarius Webb, Marcus Paschal and Danny Gorrer as healthy players under contract. They’re going to have to do SOMETHING at the position-although we all expect Foxworth and at least one of the UFA’s to be back in the mix.

Burton is a 6’0″, 190 pound corner who produced solid if not spectacular numbers during three seasons with the Utes. He finished his career with 97 tackles, one sack, one forced fumble and three interceptions.

Clearly those numbers were skewed at least a bit by the fact that Mountain West opponents learned not to throw in his direction quite as much.

Burton has decent speed (he shaved his 40 time down to 4.50 at his Salt Lake City Pro Day), but a quicker time might have made him a first round possibility. Instead, he’ll likely be a player the Ravens can consider adding to Chuck Pagano’s defense on Friday night.

RB Darren Evans (Virginia Tech)

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AVJY_1wU8Lo[/youtube]

Evans only did positional workouts at his Pro Day in Blacksburg, deciding to sit on all of his workout numbers from the Combine.

The decision-much like his decision to leave Va Tech with a year of eligibility left-could certainly be considered questionable.

While his Hokies’ teammate Ryan Williams is all but a sure thing to be a Friday night pick, there is certainly no guarantee Evans will be selected at all. He has decent size (6’0″, 227 pounds) and speed (4.56 40), but the ACL injury that cost him his entire 2009 season will certainly leave personnel folks (like Ravens GM Ozzie Newsome) wary of using a pick on him.

Evans was tremendous in 2008, rushing for 1,265 yards and 11 TD’s. He bounced back for a decent season in 2010, posting 854 yards and another 11 TD’s. He clearly made the decision to leave school out of fear that he would take too much “tread off his tires”, which has become a significant concern for NFL teams who tend to lower the life expectancy for a running back every year.

Evans might be the type of back that could complement someone like Rice, but he’d likely have to come in as a late round pick (or Undrafted Free Agent…if teams are ever able to sign those) and compete for a job behind Rice, Jalen Parmele and whoever else the team brings back in the backfield.

DE Ryan Winterswyk (Boise State)

winterswyk

I think we all expect the Ravens to have addressed the need for a rush end early in the Draft, but I certainly wouldn’t rule out the possibility that they could consider selecting multiple Ends during the course of the weekend.

Winterswyk is an intriguing late round prospect. He measures in at 6’4″, 268 pounds and shaved his 40 time down to the 4.80 range at his Pro Day (according to the National Football Post) after a disappointing 4.96 at the Combine.

Winterswyk garnered plenty of attention during his junior season, tallying nine sacks for the Broncos and establishing himself as the type of player who could be a serious threat off the edge at the next level.

That excitement died down a bit in 2010, as Winterswyk managed only two sacks during his senior campaign.

The Ravens certainly couldn’t use a Saturday selection on the former BSU rusher and assume that they had solved their issues on the edge. But if they used an early pick on an End (or waited to address the issue if and when free agency finally begins), Winsterswyk could certainly be an interesting project for Director of Player Personnel Eric DeCosta and company to consider.

WR Dane Sanzenbacher (Ohio State)

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I08QqP7cE5A[/youtube]

I’ll say what you’re thinking…yes, there’s reason to compare Sanzenbacher to former Ravens receiver Brandon Stokley.

But there’s no guarantee that a Stokley-type receiver is what the Ravens need right now to complete their receiving corps.

The team will be looking for a downfield speed threat as WR Donte’ Stallworth (unrestricted free agent) may well depart following a season where he was unable to get into the mix offensively.

Sanzenbacher (5’11″, 182 pounds) could be the type to fill that role-but will initially be looked at as more of a possession receiver with a speed threat (4.48 40 at his Pro Day).

The Ravens will return two possession receivers at the top of their corps (Anquan Boldin and Derrick Mason), meaning size and speed will be what they are most looking for in a receiver.

Should they address those issues by selecting a Jon Baldwin-type receiver early in the draft, Sanzenbacher could be an additional option on Saturday to further bolster Cameron’s offense.

QB Jerrod Johnson (Texas A&M)

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w7VFdi_WhLY[/youtube]

At 6’5″, 251 pounds; Johnson certainly has the LOOK of a NFL quarterback. At times during his career with the Aggies, he certainly showed off the skills necessary to be a NFL quarterback as well.

Unfortunately, his career in College Station ended with him on the bench due to a shoulder injury. Coach Mike Sherman’s staff lost faith in Johnson’s arm strength-and those questions have clearly lingered over his performance during Draft season.

Johnson has a unique mix of size and athleticism, and managed to throw for over 8,000 yards and 67 touchdowns before ending up on the bench. He had a particularly prolific junior season, completing 296 of 497 attempts for 3,579 yards with 30 TD’s and just eight interceptions.

Johnson could be particularly interesting on Saturday (or as an undrafted free agent) to Director of College Scouting Joe Hortiz and a Ravens team that will be looking for depth behind Flacco but not for someone who would need to step in and play anytime soon barring emergency.

OT DeMarcus Love (Arkansas)

demarcuslove

Not only has the situation with OT Jared Gaither not been resolved, we’re absolutely no closer to having any true understanding of how the team’s tackle position might shake out.

The team could still decide to retain their former supplemental pick despite the injury issues that cost him the entire 2010 season. They could choose to allow the unrestricted free agent to sign elsewhere and sign or draft another tackle. They could let Gaither depart and re-sign OL Marshal Yanda to play tackle. They could choose to elevate a Tony Moll or Oniel Cousins to the position.

Get the picture?

Love (6’4″, 315 pounds) could be an option for the Ravens at tackle or guard as the team considers how they’ll shape their O-Line opposite LT Michael Oher and LG Ben Grubbs.

Love certainly showed his ability to handle top rushers as an All-SEC performer for the Razorbacks; but struggled against top talent during Senior Bowl week in Mobile.

He’ll probably be a late Friday/early Saturday selection and will certainly be an interesting prospect for a Ravens team needing changes along the line.

Flexing my mic muscles since 1983…

-G

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Indy Calling: Workouts Continue As Draft Season Moves Toward Combine

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Indy Calling: Workouts Continue As Draft Season Moves Toward Combine

Posted on 16 February 2011 by Glenn Clark

If the NFL Draft is the “Super Bowl” of NFL Draft season, I believe next week’s trip to Indianapolis, Indiana for the NFL Scouting Combine would qualify as the end of the regular season.

After next week, the Draft season “playoffs” begin as players hold Pro Timing Days on college campuses and private workouts at National Football League facilities.

Before I continue, I remind you of the East West Shrine Game players, the NFLPA Game players, the Senior Bowl prospects and the rest of the Draft prospects we have already profiled.

QB-Ricky Dobbs (Navy), Pat Devlin (Delaware), Colin Kaepernick (Nevada), Josh Portis (California-Pennsylvania), Taylor Potts (Texas Tech), Christian Ponder (Florida State)
FB
-Anthony Sherman (UConn)
RB
-Evan Royster (Penn State), Da’Rel Scott (Maryland), DeMarco Murray (Oklahoma), Damien Berry (Miami), Kendall Hunter (Oklahoma State), Roy Helu Jr. (Nebraska), Alex Green (Hawaii)
WR
-Lester Jean (Florida Atlantic), Terrence Toliver (LSU), Leonard Hankerson (Miami), Austin Pettis (Boise State), Denarius Moore (Tennessee), Owen Spencer (North Carolina State), Jock Sanders (West Virginia), Titus Young (Boise State), Vincent Brown (San Diego State), Ryan Whalen (Stanford)
TE-Will Yeatman (Maryland)
OT
-Matthew O’Donnell (Queens University Canada), Gabe Carimi (Wisconsin), Nate Solder (Colorado)
C-Zane Taylor (Utah)
DE
-Justin Trattou (Florida), Allen Bailey (Miami), Eddie Jones (Texas), Ryan Kerrigan (Purdue)
LB
-Mark Herzlich (Boston College), Casey Matthews (Oregon), Adrian Moten (Maryland)
S
-Jermale Hines (Ohio State), Jaiquawn Jarrett (Temple), Maurice Rolle (Louisiana-Lafayette)
CB-Anthony Gaitor (Florida International)

The Baltimore Ravens made some personnel changes this week, adding CB Marcus Paschal and WR Brandon Jones. Both of those players are little more than guys who are getting Training Camp tryouts.

The team placed the franchise tag on DT Haloti Ngata ensuring his return for at least the 2011 season (if there is one). They also worked out free agent DC Reynaldo Hill.

Despite all of that, my team needs remain the same…

1. Defensive End
2. Offensive Tackle
3. Wide Receiver
4. Cornerback
5. Fullback
6. Inside Linebacker
7. Safety
8. Center
9. Running Back
10. Quarterback

Here are ten more prospects to keep an eye on as we move towards the Combine.

Thanks to CBSSports.com/NFLDraftScout.com, NFLDraftBible.com, WNST.net (The AP), ESPN.com, Wikipedia, YouTube and various official athletic websites for helping to put together the profiles.

CB Aaron Williams (Texas)

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h5oUaOLG-yE[/youtube]

Our buddy Scott Wright from DraftCountdown.com had the Ravens selecting the 6’1″ junior Longhorns DB at 26th a week ago. (He’s since switched to Colorado CB Jimmy Smith.)

I’m not sure I agreed with the mock, but I definitely wouldn’t be up in arms if Williams was the pick.

Williams has one unique advantage as a 6’1″ corner-the advantage of being two or three inches taller than any corner on the Ravens’ roster (not named Cary Williams).

Williams is best known for the sack that ended the career of then Oklahoma (and now St. Louis Rams) QB Sam Bradford. Unfortunately his senior season might have been most remembered for a TD he gave up to Oklahoma State WR Justin Blackmon. Blackmon burned a few folks during the 2010 season to be fair.

But Williams was very good for the better part of his three seasons in Austin. He finished his career with 89 tackles, five forced fumbles and four interceptions-including one he returned for a TD.

There’s a good chance he’s on the board at 26. He definitely won’t reach to the team’s pick in the second round. They could possibly trade back and get him-but with question marks surrounding CB’s Chris Carr, Josh Wilson and Fabian Washington in free agency-GM Ozzie Newsome and company might not be able to take that chance.

WR Torrey Smith (Maryland)

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5A_6n_eoI2o[/youtube]

I know what you’re thinking.

“How could I possibly not know everything there is to know about Torrey Smith? I listen to him every Tuesday at 12:30 with Thyrl Nelson on “The Mobtown Sports Beat” on AM1570 WNST!”

While I INDEED suggest checking out the BuyAToyota.com Audio Vault at WNST.net to hear more from the former Terrapins star, I figured I might pass along a little more information as well.

Smith may ultimately go down as a player who would have been better off sticking around for one more year to make himself a first round pick, but there’s also a chance he’ll be a player whose Draft season alone makes him a first round pick.

Smith will run one of the more important 40 yard dashes at LucasOil Stadium next week, where is expected to post a sub-4.40 time. The only thing working against him will be the fact that fellow former Terps WR Darrius Heyward-Bey lit the Combine on fire two years ago but has disappointed since being selected in the Top 10 by the Oakland Raiders.

Smith wouldn’t address a size need for the Ravens (he’s 6’1″), but he would certainly address a speed need-which Donte’ Stallworth was unable to do during his season in Charm City.

Smith saved his best for last in College Park, grabbing 67 catches for 1,055 yards and 12 TD’s. The only disappointment for Smith in 2010 was his return game, as he tallied just 585 return yards after combining for 2,498 yards and 3 return TD’s between his freshman and sophomore seasons.

While Lardarius Webb and David Reed each came on at the end of the season in their respective return roles, it’s safe to say neither have particularly locked their roles down.

Smith could offer a lot to the Ravens. 26th might be a stretch as of now, but as he rises in Draft season it could very well be the exact spot where he ends up. Before they pull the plug, they’ll probably want to encourage Smith to improve some of the company he keeps…

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

OT Anthony Costanzo (Boston College)

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kqJrjwjf55c[/youtube]

At this point, it seems unlikely that the Eagles’ 6’7″, 308 pound monster will be around when the Ravens are on the clock at 26.

But with the Jared Gaither situation still very much up in the air and question marks surrounding Michael Oher’s long-term stability at LT; it might be a good decision for Director of College Scouting Joe Hortiz and company to make a move for a player of Costanzo’s stature.

Costanzo had a remarkable career in Chestnut Hill, having been a starter for four seasons. He was the first true freshman to start on the O-Line for BC in ten years during the 2007 season-which we remember as the year Matt Ryan was a legitimate Heisman Trophy candidate.

Costanzo had a big week in Mobile, showing off his quick feet and long arms. More impressive (according to Rob Rang of CBSSports.com) was his frame, as he displayed a muscular torso despite his mammoth size.

He’s not quite (Cleveland Browns Pro Bowl OT) Joe Thomas as a prospect-but he’s really good. There’s a chance he could become Joe Thomas at the next level.

DE Brooks Reed (Arizona)

brooksreed

There has been plenty of attention given during Draft season to Wildcats DE Ricky Elmore, but Reed is certainly deserving of note himself.

Reed boasts an impressive 6’3″, 262 pound frame and tallied 17 sacks during his career in Tucson. There has been discussion of whether or not he can be and end at the next level or if he’s going to end up being a stand-up guy.

With the Ravens very obviously needing End help, he would have much more potential value to Chuck Pagano’s defense as an end than an OLB. The question is whether or not he can provide a consistent rush from the end position, and we don’t quite know the answer to that.

Reed has plenty of athleticism, having played RB as well as DE in high school. It doesn’t guarantee he’ll be a great athlete at the NFL level, but it certainly speaks to his versatility.

WR Randall Cobb (Kentucky)

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i09R28AWgFU[/youtube]

It is REALLY hard to figure out how valuable the former Wildcats star will be at the next level.

During three seasons in Lexington, Cobb played quarterback, running back, receiver and returner. Between the four positions, he was responsible for 42 total touchdowns over those three seasons.

As a more natural receiver in 2010, Cobb was very impressive. He grabbed 84 catches for 1,017 yards and seven TD’s. But it’s hard to figure out if Cobb can make a seamless transition to being a natural receiver at the NFL level.

With a 5’11″ frame, Cobb is going to have to be FAST to really be a dynamic threat in the NFL. At a Pro Timing Day last season, he ran just a 4.55 in the 40 yard dash. Scouts will need to see a time better than that in Indiana next week.

Cobb’s 40 time could be the difference in going as high as the first round or as low as the fourth round. It seems as though 26th would be a stretch for a team like the Ravens, as Cobb probably has to be viewed as a “project” for folks like Director of Player Personnel Eric DeCosta.

But if Cobb ends up slipping, a project might not be a bad addition to the team’s receiving corps; as long as they further address the need to compliment Anquan Boldin and Derrick Mason with a true top target.

OT Joseph Barksdale (LSU)

barksdale

After moving from Right to Left Tackle between his junior and senior seasons, Barksdale has seen his draft stock continue to rise.

The 6’6″, 318 pound big man made the move to the left side for the 2010 season after Ciron Black graduated. The move appears to have paid off, as Barksdale is currently projected amongst the top 10 tackles available in the Draft. He’s not in the Thursday or Friday night conversation as of right now, but he could be moving in that direction as Draft season continues.

Barksdale claimed second team All-SEC honors during his senior campaign in Baton Rouge, helping the Tigers finish 4th in the conference in rushing. He tallied 49 knockdowns at the most important position on the line.

Head Coach John Harbaugh has said he wants OL Marshal Yanda to return to RG (if he returns to the team as a free agent). To do that, the team has to get a player to complement Oher and solidify the tackle position. As the Draft progresses to Friday night/Saturday, Barksdale will be a more attractive option for new O-Line coach Andy Moeller.

RB Shane Vereen (California)

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

The Ravens will be looking for a back to compliment Ray Rice should Willis McGahee (as many of us are expecting) be let go. Vereen might very well be a solid option.

Vereen isn’t a big back, but his 5’10″ (205 pound) frame was big enough to allow him to carry the ball 15 or more times in nine of the Golden Bears’ 12 games in 2010. Vereen finished the year with a 5.1 yard per carry average, adding 13 TD’s.

Vereen finished his three year career in Berkeley having rushed 556 times for 2,834 yards and 29 TD’s. He added 874 receiving yards and six receiving TD’s over the three seasons. His numbers (and build) are similar to fellow former Bears back Marshawn Lynch.

Vereen could play his way up the board during Draft season, but without having participated in a College All-Star Game as an early entry his only Draft season statement thus far was an appearance on ESPN2′s All-Star Football Challenge. He’s probably a late Friday night pick right now, which could be the perfect spot for the Ravens to plug him into Cam Cameron’s offense.

DE Cliff Matthews (South Carolina)

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ajnVMrltDc4[/youtube]

Much like Arizona’s Reed, the Ravens are going to have to determine if Matthews can be a true rush end at the NFL level.

He certainly did a solid job in the role during his four years in Columbia, tallying 13 sacks between his junior and senior seasons. Matthews finished his Gamecocks career with 142 total tackles from the edge.

The Ravens haven’t found a true rush end since the demise (and ultimate departure) of Trevor Pryce. They rotated Ngata, Paul Kruger and even Cory Redding on the edge last season, with none of them settling into the role.

Matthews would certainly bring an impressive frame (6’4″, 268 pounds) to anchor the line, as well as a fairly high motor (expected to run the 40 in the 4.7′s range). He often went against premiere O-Linemen in the SEC (including Barksdale above) and had success.

Early in Draft season, Matthews is a Saturday pick-probably in the 4th-5th round range. It would make sense for the team to draft an end earlier in the weekend, but Matthews could certainly end up being an additional insurance policy.

CB Jalil Brown (Colorado)

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=84WC_f_3Ip4[/youtube]

While more attention is given to his Buffaloes teammate Smith, Brown certainly has the tools to play at the next level.

Brown (6’0″) isn’t quite as tall as Smith (6’2″), but his size does separate him from other corners in the draft-as well as the corners on the Ravens’ roster. Only Cary Williams (6’1″) from last year’s roster is taller than Brown, although Paschal is also 6’0″. The Ravens’ top corners under contract (Domonique Foxworth and Lardarius Webb) are 5’11″ and 5’10″ respectively.

Brown had a solid career in Boulder, finishing with six interceptions over his final three seasons. His performance was good enough to pick up All-Big 12 Honorable Mention honors. There may be some concern for NFL scouts due to a shoulder surgery between his junior and senior seasons-but it did not appear to affect him during his senior campaign.

Brown’s 40 time in Indianapolis will go a long way in determining where he will be picked. If he stays in the range of 4.5, he’ll probably be an early Saturday pick. If he cuts under 4.5, he’ll have a chance to be picked Friday night. If he ends up posting a number over 4.5, he’ll be in danger of sliding to late Saturday.

The former Buffs corner has a unique connection to the Ravens. He set an Arizona High School record by once running for 412 yards in a game at South Mountain High School. The player who previously held the record? Ravens LB Terrell Suggs.

S Rahim Moore (UCLA)

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Im2SZjMaO2A[/youtube]

With Ed Reed’s future almost always in jeopardy and Dawan Landry a free agent, the safety position will have to be addressed by the Ravens in the offseason.

Moore exploded on the Pac 10 scene in 2009, recording 10 interceptions for the Bruins. He tallied just one interception as a junior however before leaving Los Angeles early for the Draft.

While his interception numbers were down in 2010, his tackle numbers increased greatly. He tallied 77 tackles, up from 45 as a sophomore.

Moore has an impressive build (6’1″, 197 pounds) and can work his way up the Draft board by going under 4.5 when he runs the 40 yard dash at the Combine.

He looks like a Friday night pick as of right now. The Ravens could do well to pick him in the second round.

Flexing my mic muscles since 1983…

-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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Live From Owings Mills: Ravens Must Trim Roster to 75 Today

Posted on 31 August 2010 by Glenn Clark

OWINGS MILLS, Md. — The Baltimore Ravens (and all other NFL teams) face a 4pm deadline Tuesday by which they must have their preseason roster down to 75 players.

The Ravens currently have 77 active players on their roster. 74 are actively participating, three are on the “Active” Physically Unable to Perform (PUP) list (they also have three players on IR and one player who remains unsigned). The team will decide today how they want to get down to that number, and they have a few options by which to do it.

The three players currently on the Active PUP list are S Ed Reed, LB Brendon Ayanbadejo and RB Matt Lawrence. Ayanbadejo said last week he was “most likely” headed to the Reserve PUP list to start the season. Should the Ravens move Ayanbadejo to that list, he would be forced to miss the first six weeks of the season. It would also fill the need for one of the “cuts” the team has to make today. Lawrence is expected to either be placed on the Reserve PUP list or released. Should that happen today, that would also fill the need for one of the “cuts” the team must make. Reed was originally believed to be Reserve PUP-bound, but has been at the 1 Winning Drive facility doing work recently, and could end up finding himself on the active roster starting Week 1 when the Ravens visit the New York Jets.

Should the Ravens make a move with just one or neither or those players, they would then need to cut another player from the roster. OT Stefan Rodgers did not participate in the portion of practice open to media Tuesday morning, and could be a candidate to be released. Coach John Harbaugh had said yesterday the team was going to get to the roster limit with “injury settlement” decisions, and some “fringe” players have battled injuries. WR Eron Riley has been hampered by a back injury recently, S/CB KJ Gerard has been dealing with hamstring trouble. OT Ramon Harewood has been healthy for the majority of Training Camp and the preseason, but an offseason knee injury could end up landing him on Injured Reserve (IR).

It is worth noting that whatever roster moves are made, the team will have to at least consider their roster needs for Thursday night’s game against the St. Louis Rams at Edward Jones Dome. With OT’s Jared Gaither and Oniel Cousins hurt, the team could use depth at the position for the game.

Following today’s roster moves, the team must make additional moves Saturday to trim the roster from 75 to 53 players. The Ravens trimmed from 80 to 77 yesterday by releasing CB Doug Dutch and also moving CB Marcus Paschal and OL Daniel Sanders to IR.

MISSING PRACTICE: The reason for Rodgers’ absence from practice Tuesday morning is unknown. He had battled arm/shoulder trouble while the team was at McDaniel College in Westminster for Camp. Other players not participating during the portion of practice open to the media included WR Donte’ Stallworth (out 8-10 weeks with broken foot), CB Fabian Washington (ribs), OL David Hale (tailbone), Gaither (back), DT Terrence Cody (knee) and WR Mark Clayton (concussion).

FB Mike McLaughlin (hip) and Cousins (concussion) were on the field in shorts, neither were participating. S Tom Zbikowski was dressed, but was not seen doing much work.

Lawrence, Ayanbadejo and Reed were not participating as they remain on the PUP list. Reed made a rare appearance on the practice field in street clothes.

NOTES: Harbaugh is scheduled to address the media at 12pm today following practice……The Ravens will hold a walkthrough tomorrow before traveling to St. Louis for Thursday night’s game, the walkthrough is not open to the media.

-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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Live From Owings Mills: Fabian Washington Battling Bruised Ribs, Team Makes Roster Moves

Posted on 30 August 2010 by Glenn Clark

OWINGS MILLS, Md. — The Baltimore Ravens returned to the practice field Monday morning at 1 Winning Drive following their 24-10 win over the New York Giants Saturday night at M&T Bank Stadium.

Unfortunately, not all Ravens were on the practice field during the portion of the session open to media.

CB Fabian Washington was a new addition to the list of players not present, with no known new injury. Washington returned from a torn ACL early in Training Camp, but hadn’t missed a practice in recent weeks. Via his Twitter account, Washington said “Good morning world. Another day to get better” shortly before practice began. Coach John Harbaugh told the media Washington missed practice with bruised ribs, and that the team just wanted to get him some rest.

Other Ravens not participating during the portion of practice open to the media included WR Donte’ Stallworth (broken foot-likely to miss at least 8 weeks), CB Marcus Paschal (quad), FB Mike McLaughlin (hip flexor), OL David Hale (concussion), DT Terrence Cody (knee), OT Oniel Cousins (concussion), OL Daniel Sanders (shoulder), OT Jared Gaither (back), WR Mark Clayton (concussion). Cousins was on the field in a helmet-but was wearing shorts. CB Doug Dutch was also not present with no known injury, and it was later confirmed that he had been cut.

The Ravens (and all other NFL teams) had to get down to 75 players before Tuesday’s deadline. Harbaugh said the team would get down to 75 with a “couple other injury settlement things.” Late Monday afternoon they did just that, placing Sanders and Paschal on IR.

WR Eron Riley (back), S/CB KJ Gerard (hamstring) and WR Demetrius Williams (ankle) all returned to practice Monday. S Ed Reed (hip/groin), RB Matt Lawrence (knee) and LB Brendon Ayanbadejo remain on the Physically Unable to Perform (PUP) list. LB Sergio Kindle (head) remains unsigned.

With Reed, Lawrence and Ayanbadejo not currently counting against the roster, the team is now below the 75 man limit.

HARBAUGH HONORED: Harbaugh was honored Monday by members of the U.S. Navy; as he was presented with a Cannon Shell from the U.S.S. Constitution and a flag from the U.S.S. Maryland. The Navy decided to honor Harbaugh for the commitments made to the military by the entire organization, including their annual Training Camp “Military Appreciation Day” and an upcoming military partnership they have with Under Armour.

Harbaugh was touched by the gesture and spoke on behalf of the organization, saying “we just feel so strongly about the U.S. Military.”

KICKERS STILL DEADLOCKED: When asked about the status of the kicking competition between Shayne Graham and Billy Cundiff, Harbaugh responded “we don’t know yet.” He went on to add that the team likely wouldn’t make a decision until the “very last minute.”

Even Graham admitted he didn’t think there “was any unbalancing of the scales” in the competition when he met with reporters. He added that “a decision either way would be justifiable.”

Thus far in the preseason, Graham has made two of his three field goal attempts while Cundiff has connected all three of his attempts.

NOTES: When asked about CB Lardarius Webb’s status (knee) for Thursday night’s preseason finale at the Edward Jones Dome, Harbaugh said “I don’t anticipate him playing in this game.”……Reed made an appearance in the locker room Monday, but declined the opportunity to talk to reporters when approached……Hear from Harbaugh, Graham, Clayton, Webb and DL Lamar Divens NOW in the BuyAToyota.com Audio Vault right here at WNST.net……WR Marcus Smith will join Drew Forrester on “The Morning Reaction” on AM1570 WNST Tuesday at 6:45am……The Ravens will have just one more practice open to the media this week before their Thursday night game in St. Louis against the Rams. They will practice tomorrow morning, Wednesday’s walkthrough will be closed to the media.

-G

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Ravens-Giants Purple Haze chat now!

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Ravens-Giants Purple Haze chat now!

Posted on 28 August 2010 by Luke Jones

BALTIMORE — The Ravens will try to win their third straight preseason game this evening as they host the New York Giants at 7:30 p.m. The third preseason game is widely-regarded as the most critical of the four preseason contests, so we can expect extensive playing time for the starting units.

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Glenn Clark and I are live from the press box at M&T Bank Stadium for all pre- and post-game coverage at WNST.net. We’ll have the Purple Haze chat open for business at 7:30 to talk about tonight’s preseason action, and you can expect a number of WNST.net personalities to chime in throughout the game. It’s the newest and best way to enjoy the game other than actually being at the stadium yourself!

If you haven’t done it already, remember to sign up for the WNST Text Service to receive all breaking news including injury updates prior to tonight’s game. It’s our best feature at WNST.net, and it’s free! As always, you can get the quickest updates and quips by following us on Twitter (@WNST)!

Stay right here for updates (time-stamped below) leading up to the start of the Purple Haze chat at 7:30 p.m.!

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7:00 p.m. — Interestingly enough, cornerback Lardarius Webb is dressed and going through pre-game activity. He was listed as a scratch tonight, but as we saw with Chris Carr in the preseason opener against Carolina, the preseason inactive list is not official like the one we see in the regular season.

We’ll continue to monitor Webb’s status as we get closer to game time.

6:55 p.m. — The Giants have an equal number of inactive players this evening. Receiver Ramses Barden, quarterback Jim Sorgi, safety Michael Johnson, cornerback Terrell Thomas, running back D.J. Ware, cornerback Aaron Ross, tight end Travis Beckum, linebacker Chase Blackburn, center Shaun O’Hara, guard Kevin Booth, receiver Sinorice Moss, defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul, and defensive lineman Chris Canty will all sit out tonight’s contest against the Ravens.

Rich Seubert will slide over to center in place of O’Hara and Guy Whimper will play left guard. Defensively, Rocky Bernard will replace Canty at defensive tackle, Bruce Johnson will take Thomas’ place at cornerback, and Jonathan Goff will start at MLB. Keith Bulluck is expected to play, however.

6:35 p.m. — If you’re on the WNST Text Service, you would already know the Ravens inactive list for this evening!

Thirteen players will not play this evening, including Lardarius Webb, Jared Gaither, Terrence Cody, Oniel Cousins, Demetrius Williams, Eron Riley, Marcus Paschal, K.J. Gerard, David Hale, Daniel Sanders, and the three remaining members of the PUP List (Ed Reed, Brendon Ayanbadejo, and Matt Lawrence).

Tony Moll will again be at right tackle with Gaither and Cousins sidelined, and Tom Zbikowski will receive the start at free safety with Reed still on the PUP list.

6:00 p.m. — Several players dealing with injuries were out on the field going throughout workouts earlier as we await to learn their status for tonight’s game.

Receiver Demetrius Williams was doing some agility work after not practicing the entire week. He sprained his ankle during last Saturday’s victory over the Redskins.

Cornerback Lardarius Webb was doing extensive work with secondary coach Chuck Pagano, though it is doubtful the Ravens would want Webb to play so soon after coming off the Physically Unable to Perform list.

Receiver Eron Riley (back) was also working out on the field.

5:40 p.m. — The Ravens will try to improve their preseason mark to 3-0 and win their seventh straight preseason game. The team holds an all-time 34-23 record in preseason play and is 17-12 at home.

Tonight marks the 12th time the Giants and Ravens have met in the preseason. Baltimore holds a 6-5 series lead in the preseason. The teams last met in a preseason contest on Aug. 19, 2007, a game in which the Giants won 13-12.

5:25 p.m. — The NFL will experiment with an eighth on-field official for tonight’s game, one of four preseason games the league is using as a test study. The deep judge will not be used in the regular season and is solely intended to provide the NFL Competition Committee with video and feedback for future consideration.

The “deep judge” will be positioned in the defensive backfield, opposite the back judge on the head linesman’s side of the field. His primary job is to watch eligible receivers.

Of course, the official crews are also adjusting to the newly-positioned umpire, who is now in the offensive backfield. Umpires were previously positioned behind the defensive line but have been moved because of safety concerns after several umpires were seriously injured in recent years.

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