Tag Archive | "marcus spears"

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Former Raven Spears joins “SEC Nation” show roster

Posted on 31 May 2014 by WNST Staff

The lineup for the SEC Network’s two-hour (10 a.m. – noon ET) traveling Saturday morning college football show SEC Nation was revealed today in Nashville, Tenn., at the Music City Sports Festival. Previously announced host Joe Tessitore and analyst Tim Tebow will be joined each week by talk radio provocateur Paul Finebaum and former LSU and NFL star, Marcus Spears. The SEC Network is a new 24/7 sports network launching August 14 and operated by ESPN in conjunction with the Southeastern Conference.

Finebaum and Spears’ additional roles with the network were announced earlier this year including Finebaum’s daily radio show (2 – 6 p.m. ET) and Spears’ football analyst role for the network’s year-round football coverage.

“Our SEC Nation team encompasses the veteran voices our fans expect and insider knowledge they deserve. Paul and Marcus bring a variety of experiences that will complement Joe and Tim, providing viewers with a high-caliber, full view of SEC matchups each week,” said Stephanie Druley, vice president, production for college networks.

Also, more sites for SEC Nation’s early season schedule were revealed adding to the previously announced appearances at South Carolina on August 28 and Auburn on August 30. The show will begin its September slate in Nashville, Tenn., home to Vanderbilt University and travel to all 14 SEC schools by season’s end. The schedule:

Date Time (ET) School/City
Thu, Aug. 28 4 – 6 p.m. South Carolina/Columbia, S.C.
Sat, Aug. 30 10 a.m. – noon Auburn/Auburn, Ala.
Sat, Sept. 6 10 a.m. – noon Vanderbilt/Nashville, Tenn.
Sat, Sept. 13 10 a.m. – noon Florida/Gainesville, Fla.
Sat, Sept. 20 10 a.m. – noon Alabama/Tuscaloosa, Ala.

Also beginning August 28, the SEC Network will air 45 college football games this season and feature a game from all 14 teams in the SEC at their home stadium in the first four weeks.Full details.

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Ravens awarded four compensatory picks at Owner’s Meetings

Posted on 24 March 2014 by WNST Staff

Last year’s off-season after the Super Bowl was painful for Ravens fans, but now the team is being rewarded for its troubles and patience in free agency.

At the NFL Owner Meetings today in Orlando, the Baltimore Ravens learned more about their off-season approach in May as they received the league maximum number of compensatory picks possible for free agent losses.

The team received a third (99th overall),  two fourth-round (134th, 138 overall), and a fifth-round pick (175th overall).

The picks were rewarded for the losses of DE Paul Kruger (Cleveland), MLB Dannell Ellerbe (Miami), CB Cary Williams (Philadelphia), and FS Ed Reed (Houston) in free agency.

Because the Ravens did not sign any unrestricted free agents in the 2013 off-season, the team was not docked any picks from their total.

DE Elvis Dumervil, DL Chris Canty, DL Marcus Spears, S Michael Huff, and MLB Daryl Smith were all signed after teams cut them or late into training camp.

All-in-all, the Ravens will have eight picks as their disposal in May.

Follow all your Ravens news on @WNST on Twitter! WNST-We Never Stop Talking Sports!

 

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I’m glad the Red Sox won.  I hope it ticks off the Orioles…

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I’m glad the Red Sox won. I hope it ticks off the Orioles…

Posted on 31 October 2013 by Drew Forrester

Back in October of 2009, I wrote right here and said on the air that I hoped the Yankees would win the World Series against the Phillies.

I got clobbered by people who couldn’t believe a Baltimore guy would stoop to such a low level.

I had my reasons for doing it, and it looks like I might have been right.

And, for those same reasons, still, I’m happy the Red Sox won the World Series last night.

Really, I am.

I’m happy the Red Sox won because their success might light a fire under the Orioles front office this winter, in the same way the Yankees winning in 2009 might have been the kick-starter for Peter Angelos waking up and realizing that trotting out inferior managers like Perlozzo and Trembley wasn’t going to cut it.  Five months into the 2010 season, Buck Showalter arrived on the scene at Camden Yards and things haven’t been the same – in a good way – since that move.

I’m happy for the Red Sox and I’m glad they won.

They’re an organization that TRIES to win.  Their fans…yeah, they might be jerks, but the football fans in Charm City aren’t exactly gold medal “good winners” either.  The Red Sox, though, understand the same concept the Yankees employ: “We owe it to our fans to be a champion.”

It’s been 30 years since the Orioles played in the World Series and nearly 20 years since the team advanced to the A.L. Championship Series.

I’m all for anything that gets Peter Angelos and Dan Duquette to say, “Enough is enough.  We’re tired of seeing New York and Boston win.”

Does seeing the Red Sox win bother those two enough?

My guess is probably not.

Which, of course, explains why the club has never been to the World Series in the Peter Angelos era of ownership.

—————————————————————

Two vested veterans like Huff and Spears getting cut is a very telling statement from the Ravens.

They’re basically saying, “Neither of those players could have helped us for the remainder of the season.”

Quite an admission.

And, a rare swing and miss from Ozzie Newsome.  Make that TWO swings — and TWO misses.

A few people e-mailed me on Wednesday after the news of Huff and Spears getting the boot was made public and once again tried to pigeon-hole a player move into why the Ravens should have kept Anquan Boldin instead of signing those two players.

Let me, I promise, try and educate you all on this one final time.

Anquan Boldin was due to make $6 million this season with the Ravens.

In the Ravens opinion, he wasn’t a $6 million football player anymore.

So, in their estimation, he was worth $4 million and they asked him to play for that.

He said “no”.  The Ravens said, “Well, we don’t think you’re worth $6 million, so we’ll have to part company.”

And that’s that.

The Ravens DID use the money they saved by trading Boldin on other players, yes, but they were going to go out and get football players in the off-season whether or not Anquan Boldin was retained or not.

If Anquan Boldin would have agreed to play for $4 million, he’d be in Baltimore.  Instead, he’s making $6 million in San Francisco, which is what he wanted.

The Ravens wanted Boldin, too.  But, they didn’t think he was a $6 million football player anymore.

Were they wrong on that estimation?  I’d say based on his overall performance in San Francisco this season, probably not.  That said, with Dennis Pitta on the sidelines in Baltimore, Boldin would have been a welcome sight here over the last seven weeks of the 2013 season.

Without money being a consideration, if you asked me “would you rather the Ravens HAVE Boldin on their team or NOT HAVE him on their team?”, I’d absolutely say, “Have…”

Only problem?  Money is always a consideration in the NFL.  It’s the driving force behind the structural formula that gives each franchise hope every March.

We must also keep this in mind anytime we’re discussing a player in one city vs. another city:  Nothing is ever the same.  These aren’t pieces of a puzzle that fit in next to one another.  What Boldin does in San Francisco can’t just be cookie-cuttered into “look at what he would have done in Baltimore for us…”  It just doesn’t work that way.  For all we know, Boldin might have torn his ACL in week two against the Browns if, in fact, he played for the Ravens this season.

People who don’t know sports like to generalize and say stuff like, “Look at what Boldin is doing in San Francisco.  He’d be doing the same thing here for us if Ozzie wouldn’t have let him go.”

Maybe.  Maybe not.  He might be doing worse.  Or, he might be doing better.

The Ravens – in their expert opinion – felt like Anquan Boldin wasn’t worth $6 million anymore and he wasn’t going to be worth it even if they didn’t sign Marcus Spears or Michael Huff.

Now — pay attention here:  If you want to beat up the Ravens for signing a couple of stiffs, that’s where you should point your angry finger.  Huff was a complete zero here.  Spears tried, but he’s not healthy anymore.

Those were bad signings.

But they had nothing at all to do with the fact that the Ravens didn’t think Anquan Boldin was a $6 million football player anymore.

 

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Post-bye message clear with Ravens’ decision to jettison Huff, Spears

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Post-bye message clear with Ravens’ decision to jettison Huff, Spears

Posted on 30 October 2013 by Luke Jones

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

OWINGS MILLS, Md. — Coach John Harbaugh promised the Ravens would make changes in an effort to improve as they entered the bye week with an underwhelming 3-4 record and that promise came to fruition Wednesday morning.

Backup free safety Michael Huff and veteran defensive tackle Marcus Spears were expected to be key cogs in revamping a defense that struggled a season ago despite a Super Bowl title, but both were waived on Monday after just seven games in Baltimore. The pair joined recently-jettisoned left tackle Bryant McKinnie as offseason signings that failed to pan out for general manager Ozzie Newsome.

Though Harbaugh downplayed any hidden agenda behind the decision to part ways with the two veterans, the remaining players on the roster understand what’s at stake over the final nine games of the regular season as the Ravens hope to avoid missing the postseason for the first time since 2007.

“The message is, ‘Win,’ plain and simple,” said defensive end Chris Canty, who teamed with Spears for four seasons in Dallas. “If you don’t get your job done, they’re going to find somebody else that can get it done. And in the case of Michael and Marcus, they felt like it was in the best interest of the team to move forward.”

Safeties Brynden Trawick and Omar Brown were promoted from the practice squad to fill the vacated spots on the 53-man roster and to boost the specials teams, an area where Huff and Spears weren’t contributing.

Signed to a three-year, $6 million contract to assume the departed Ed Reed’s free safety spot, Huff was benched following a disastrous performance in the Ravens’ 49-27 loss to the Denver Broncos in the season opener. The 30-year-old hadn’t played a defensive snap in the last three games and was guilty of losing outside containment on the final kickoff return that set up Pittsburgh’s game-winning drive two weeks ago.

Spears agreed to a two-year, $2.75 million contract to add depth to the defensive line, but a knee injury limited the 30-year-old to just five games. The former Cowboys defensive end made just 11 tackles and appeared to be in danger of losing reps to rookie Brandon Williams and the returning Terrence Cody after the bye before the Ravens decided to release him ahead of Sunday’s game against the Cleveland Browns.

Any player — veteran or rookie — failing to make significant contributions at his offensive or defensive position or on special teams will quickly find his roster spot on shaky ground as Harbaugh said last week that the coaching staff would find players who wanted to play special teams, a message that could have been interpreted as a shot at Huff’s poor efforts in that area.

“There’s always the fact of life in the National Football League,” said Harbaugh about Wednesday’s cuts. “And what we’ll always try to do is have the strongest roster we possibly can to be as good a team as we possibly can be on Sunday. We feel like these moves move us in that direction.”

Though neither player represented a steep financial investment with long-lasting ramifications — the Ravens will carry $1.3 million in dead money on next year’s cap as a result of their releases — their in-season departures tarnish Newsome’s reputation for making savvy veteran signings that often fly under the radar. And the latest development only fuels the lingering criticism over the Ravens’ decision to trade wide receiver Anquan Boldin after the veteran wouldn’t agree to a $2 million pay cut from his scheduled 2013 salary of $6 million in early March.

With Spears and Huff both vested veterans, their contracts are guaranteed and the Ravens will not recover any cap savings for the remainder of the season. The pair account for $2.55 million on this year’s salary cap.

Trawick and Brown are expected to boost the special-teams units, which have had two punts blocked and have experienced issues in kick coverage at different points this season.

“Those are guys who will give us a chance as backup safeties but also special teams players that have done a good job in practice on special teams and in games when they’ve been in there,” Harbaugh said. “It will give us a chance to bolster that area a little bit. These are two good, young safeties. We have high hopes for both of these guys.”

The Ravens signed wide receiver Kamar Aiken and quarterback Nick Stephens to fill the open spots on their practice squad.

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Assessing the Ravens’ offseason veteran additions

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Assessing the Ravens’ offseason veteran additions

Posted on 24 October 2013 by Luke Jones

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

At 3-4 and below the .500 mark this late in a season for the first time in the John Harbaugh era, the Ravens face an uphill battle in advancing to the postseason for the sixth straight season.

Clearly at a crossroads as the first defending Super Bowl champion since the 2006 Pittsburgh Steelers to hold a losing record after seven games, the Ravens made a number of offseason additions to reload a roster that dealt with free-agent departures, salary-cap casualties, and retirees. It’s time to revisit those moves to see how they’ve worked — or haven’t worked — as the Ravens try to regroup during their bye week.

Grades are included for free-agent signings and trade additions made prior to the start of training camp with the players listed in the order in which they were acquired. Contract terms are listed in parentheses for free-agent additions.

DE Chris Canty (three years, $8 million)
Grade: C+
Skinny: The Ravens needed a 5-technique defensive end and Canty has been solid, but he hasn’t offered as much as a pass rusher as the team would have hoped. Canty is fourth on the team with two sacks, but defensive coordinator Dean Pees has often replaced him with Arthur Jones in the nickel package for improved run support. 

DT Marcus Spears (two years, $2.75 million)
Grade: C-
Skinny: Hamstring and knee injuries have hampered the veteran defensive lineman, but Spears has offered very little when he’s been part of the defensive line rotation and has little pass-rush ability. It would be easy to envision rookie Brandon Williams wrestling away some of Spears’ snaps  in the second half of the season. 

LB Elvis Dumervil (five years, $26 million)
Grade: B+
Skinny: The three-time Pro Bowl selection has been more of a situational player with the run-stopping presence of Courtney Upshaw, but Dumervil has 27 quarterback pressures and is the league’s sixth-most efficient pass rusher, according to Pro Football Focus. He had a miserable day in Pittsburgh, but Dumervil has been the bookend pass rusher Terrell Suggs needed and an upgrade over former Raven Paul Kruger for a cheaper price.

S Michael Huff (three years, $6 million)
Grade: F
Skinny: Huff was benched after a disastrous performance in the season opener against Denver, forcing the Ravens to essentially go with two strong safeties in the secondary with James Ihedigbo and Matt Elam. The former Raider hasn’t taken a defensive snap since Week 4 and has brought very little to special teams, making it possible that he doesn’t even make it through the rest of the season before being cut. 

OT Bryant McKinnie (two years, $6.3 million)
Grade: D
Skinny: Though McKinnie was technically re-signed, he spent almost two months on the open market as general manager Ozzie Newsome explored other options at left tackle before inking him in early May. McKinnie wasn’t the biggest problem along the offensive line before the Ravens acquired Eugene Monroe, but the 34-year-old wasn’t motivated to play at a high level after winning a Super Bowl and receiving a $2 million signing bonus, making his signing a clear mistake as he was dealt to Miami for a conditional late-round pick earlier this week.

C A.Q. Shipley (acquired for 2014 conditional draft pick)
Grade: D+
Skinny: Expectations weren’t very high for the former Indianapolis Colt, but it’s telling that Shipley hasn’t been able to unseat the struggling Gino Gradkowski at the center position. Shipley is undersized and is not a great option as a backup interior lineman, so it will be interesting to see if rookie Ryan Jensen leapfrogs him on the depth chart in the second half since he’s recovered from a broken foot suffered in the first week of training camp.

LB Daryl Smith (one year, $1.125 million)
Grade: A
Skinny: Not only did Smith make most people forget the embarrassing decision to sign troubled linebacker Rolando McClain, but he’s easily been the best bargain of the offseason as his signing was an afterthought that came on the same day the Super Bowl champions visited the White House. His two interceptions lead the team and he’s made everyone forget about the serious concerns that existed at inside linebacker during the offseason. Smith isn’t Ray Lewis, but he’s been as solid as a rock in the middle of the defense.

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Osemele practicing; Ngata sidelined on Wednesday

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Osemele practicing; Ngata sidelined on Wednesday

Posted on 09 October 2013 by Luke Jones

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

OWINGS MILLS, Md. — Faced with the challenge of the Green Bay Packers coming to Baltimore on Sunday, the Ravens are cautiously optimistic to find themselves healthier this week than they’ve been at any point since the start of the season.

Starting left guard Kelechi Osemele (back spasms) returned to the practice field on a limited basis after he was sidelined for most of this past Sunday’s win over the Miami Dolphins. The second-year lineman said prior to Wednesday’s practice that a soft hotel bed was a factor in the back spasms he developed during pre-game warmups that forced him out of the game after the first offensive series.

Defensive tackles Haloti Ngata (hip) and Terrence Cody (knee), linebacker Albert McClellan (shoulder), and offensive lineman Ryan Jensen (foot) did not participate in Wednesday’s practice. Ngata’s hip injury wasn’t reported after last Sunday’s game, so there’s a fair possibility that Wednesday was more of a day of rest than any serious condition.

Ngata took part in 35 of 58 defensive snaps, which wasn’t an unusual number considering how much Miami was throwing the football.

Wide receiver Brandon Stokley wasn’t spotted during the portion of practice open to the media but was listed as a limited participant on Wednesday’s injury report after the Ravens re-signed him to the 53-man roster on Tuesday. Stokley has been dealing with a groin injury for nearly two weeks and hasn’t played since the Ravens’ Week 3 win over the Texans on Sept. 22.

Wide receiver Jacoby Jones was back on the practice field after being ruled inactive for the fourth straight game last Sunday. The Pro Bowl return specialist eased his way back into practices last week and plans to step up his participation level this week in hopes of playing in a game for the first time since suffering a sprained right MCL in the season opener on Sept. 5.

“I’ve been like a punished child that can’t go outside and do anything,” Jones said of his time rehabilitating the injury. “You sit in your house and keep begging your mama, ‘Please, let me go outside. I want do it again!’ I just want to get out there and play.”

Wide receiver Marlon Brown (hamstring) and defensive tackle Marcus Spears (knee) also returned to practice on Wednesday after being sidelined for Week 5.

New left tackle Eugene Monroe expressed optimism that he’ll be ready to make his Ravens debut at M&T Bank Stadium against the Packers after spending long days and nights absorbing the Baltimore playbook. Monroe was ruled inactive for the Miami game after he was only able to log two days of practice time upon the trade from Jacksonville being officially completed last Thursday.

The fifth-year tackle revealed he even spent some time at the team’s Owings Mills facility during his day off on Tuesday to go over plays with starting center Gino Gradkowski.

“It’s been a grind, but it’s part of the job,” Monroe said. “It’s also been fun integrating into a new system like this. It’s definitely different, especially not playing next week. That’s just part of the deal here and I’m ready to go now.”

Meanwhile, incumbent left tackle Bryant McKinnie was largely an observer during offensive line work during the portion of practice open to the media, a strong indication that Monroe is expected to take his spot in the starting lineup beginning this Sunday.

The Ravens are in much better shape health-wise than Green Bay as starting linebackers Clay Matthews (thumb) and Brad Jones (hamstring) and running back James Starks (knee) have already been ruled out for Sunday’s game.

Here is Wednesday’s injury report:

BALTIMORE
DID NOT PARTICIPATE: DT Terrence Cody (knee), C Ryan Jensen (foot), LB Albert McClellan (shoulder), DT Haloti Ngata (hip)
LIMITED PARTICIPATION: WR Marlon Brown (thigh), RB Shaun Draughn (ankle), WR Jacoby Jones (knee), G Kelechi Osemele (back), RB Bernard Pierce (thigh), DT Marcus Spears (knee), WR Brandon Stokley (thigh)

GREEN BAY
OUT: LB Brad Jones (hamstring), LB Clay Matthews (thumb), RB James Starks (knee), G/C Greg Van Roten (foot)
DID NOT PARTICIPATE: CB Jarrett Bush (hamstring), CB Casey Hayward (hamstring), LB Andy Mulumba (ankle)

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Webb, J. Jones, seven others listed as questionable against Dolphins

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Webb, J. Jones, seven others listed as questionable against Dolphins

Posted on 04 October 2013 by Luke Jones

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

OWINGS MILLS, Md. — The Ravens were making final preparations for the Miami Dolphins on Friday and listed a total of nine players as questionable on the final injury report of the week including cornerback Lardarius Webb and wide receiver Jacoby Jones.

Webb and wide receivers Deonte Thompson and Marlon Brown were listed as questionable on Friday’s injury report after they missed practices on Wednesday and Thursday while recovering from injuries sustained last Sunday, but they all worked on a limited basis in the final full workout of the week. Webb sat out the second half against the Bills after suffering a hamstring injury but was doing some backpedal work and riding the stationary bike during the portion of practice open to media.

“Very encouraging [to have them back at practice],” coach John Harbaugh said. “It was good to see those guys out there, and [it] made for a better practice, too.”

Also dealing with a hamstring injury all week, Brown was doing plenty of running and appeared to be moving well during the special-teams part of practice. The rookie wideout said he felt good with the hamstring following Friday’s practice.

Jones (knee) was present and working for the third straight day of practice after being sidelined since Sept. 5 with a right MCL sprain, but the Pro Bowl return specialist was noncommital regarding his status against the Dolphins.

“I don’t know. I’ll leave it up to the trainers and the coaches,” Jones said. “You’re trying to get me in trouble with John Harbaugh — I can’t answer that question. I’m trying to ease the process [of coming back].”

Thompson was on the field for the first time since sustaining a concussion in the fourth quarter of last Sunday’s game, but he was suited up and participating during the special-teams portion of practice. Harbaugh said after practice that Thompson had passed the concussion protocol test, but he hadn’t yet been fully cleared for Sunday’s game.

“He’s got to go through the practice,” Harbaugh said. “Then, we’ve got to check his symptoms out.”

In addition to those four, wide receiver Brandon Stokley, linebackers Arthur Brown and Albert McClellan, defensive lineman Marcus Spears, and running back Shaun Draughn were all designated as questionable to play in Sunday’s game.

The Ravens were without five players during the opening portion of Friday’s workout as Stokley (groin), Spears (knee), McClellan (shoulder), defensive tackle Terrence Cody (knee), and offensive lineman Ryan Jensen (foot) weren’t participating. Stokley had practiced on a limited basis all week after being inactive for Week 4, and Spears appeared on the injury report for the first time on Thursday after he walked off the field gingerly at the start of practice.

Cody and Jensen were both listed as doubtful on the Friday injury report and aren’t expected to play in Miami.

The Dolphins listed standout defensive end Cameron Wake (knee) as questionable for Sunday’s game after he practiced on a limited basis all week. Former Ravens linebacker Dannell Ellerbe (knee) is probable against his former team.

As for the status of newly-acquired left tackle Eugene Monroe, Harbaugh said they haven’t made any decision in terms of his availability to play against the Dolphins. The 26-year-old stayed at the team’s Owings Mills facility late into the night on Thursday to work with the offensive line staff in hopes of getting up to speed as soon as possible, according to Harbaugh.

“The main thing is how he feels about it, if he feels confident that he can execute,” said Harbaugh, who acknowledged not being sure what the realistic timetable is to get Monroe on the field for the Ravens. “The good thing is he know what it’s like to play. If he gives us feedback, and he says he’s comfortable and can go, I would think we’d be very confident that he knows what he’s talking about.”

An encouraging sign for the Ravens during Friday’s practice was the presence of Dennis Pitta, who was catching passes from the Jugs machine. The fourth-year tight end was dressed in a T-shirt and shorts and was able to twist his body as he caught passes from the machine, but he did not do any jogging or running during the session.

Pitta remains on injured reserve with the designation to return, making him eligible to return to practice after the first six weeks of the regular season and to play in games after eight weeks. However, it is not believed that Pitta would be able to return until later in the season after he dislocated his hip on July 27, an injury that forced him to undergo immediate surgery.

“I’m pretty impressed,” Harbaugh said. “He’s running quite a bit on these machines, and he’s out here catching passes. [A potential return] is a ways away, time-wise. Every time I see Dennis, I guess I have mixed emotions. I’m happy that he’s doing well, and I’m not happy that he’s not already out there playing right now. He’s doing a good job.”

The referee for Sunday’s game between the Ravens and Dolphins will be Carl Cheffers.

The forecast in Miami calls for temperatures in the mid-80s with a 30 percent chance of isolated thunderstorms.

Here’s the final injury report of the week:

BALTIMORE
DOUBTFUL: DT Terrence Cody (knee), C Ryan Jensen (foot)
QUESTIONABLE: LB Arthur Brown (shoulder), WR Marlon Brown (thigh), RB Shaun Draughn (ankle), WR Jacoby Jones (knee), LB Albert McClellan (shoulder), DT Marcus Spears (knee), WR Brandon Stokley (thigh), WR Deonte Thompson (concussion), CB Lardarius Webb (thigh)

MIAMI
OUT: CB Dimitri Patterson (groin)
QUESTIONABLE: WR Brandon Gibson (ankle), S Don Jones (elbow), LB Jason Trusnik (rib), DE Cameron Wake (knee)
PROBABLE: CB Nolan Carroll (ankle), S Chris Clemons (glute), LB Dannell Ellerbe (knee), LB Jonathan Freeney (shoulder), LB Koa Misi (shoulder), DT Paul Soliai (knee)

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Webb, M. Brown still sidelined; Spears added to injury report

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Webb, M. Brown still sidelined; Spears added to injury report

Posted on 03 October 2013 by Luke Jones

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

OWINGS MILLS, Md. — There was only one change to the Ravens’ injury report for Thursday, but it wasn’t good news as they continued preparations for Sunday’s game against the Miami Dolphins.

Cornerback Lardarius Webb (hamstring) and wide receivers Marlon Brown (hamstring) and Deonte Thompson (concussion) were absent from practice for the second straight day, but defensive tackle Marcus Spears (knee) was added to the injury report as a non-participant after he appeared to be dealing with a knee injury during the portion of the workout open for media viewing. Spears walked off the field without the assistance of a trainer, but it was unclear whether he had tweaked his knee or was dealing with soreness while attempting to go through positional drills.

Linebacker Albert McClellan (shoulder), defensive tackle Terrence Cody (knee), and offensive lineman Ryan Jensen (foot) did not practice on Thursday.

Wide receiver Jacoby Jones (knee) was practicing on a limited basis for a second straight day as he continues to work his way back to 100 percent from an MCL injury suffered in the season opener on Sept. 5.

Meanwhile, Dolphins defensive end Cameron Wake (knee) and linebacker Dannell Ellerbe practiced on a limited basis on Thursday, but it remains unclear whether Wake will return to action against the Ravens.

Here is Thursday’s injury report:

BALTIMORE
DID NOT PARTICIPATE: WR Marlon Brown (thigh), DT Terrence Cody (knee), C Ryan Jensen (foot), LB Albert McClellan (shoulder), DT Marcus Spears (knee), WR Deonte Thompson (head), CB Lardarius Webb (thigh)
LIMITED PARTICIPATION: WR Brandon Stokley (thigh), LB Arthur Brown (shoulder), RB Shaun Draughn (ankle), WR Jacoby Jones (knee)

MIAMI
DID NOT PARTICIPATE: CB Dimitri Patterson (elbow)
LIMITED PARTICIPATION: CB Nolan Carroll (ankle), S Chris Clemons (glute), LB Dannell Ellerbe (knee), WR Brandon Gibson (ankle), S Don Jones (elbow), LB Koa Misi (shoulder), LB Jason Trusnik (rib), DE Cameron Wake (knee)
FULL PARTICIPATION: LB Jonathan Freeney (shoulder), DT Paul Soliai (knee)

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Ravens defense aiming to make expectations reality in post-Lewis era

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Ravens defense aiming to make expectations reality in post-Lewis era

Posted on 03 September 2013 by Luke Jones

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

OWINGS MILLS, Md. — The Ravens heard the questions, the concerns, and the doubts about their once-proud defense in the weeks and months that followed their win in Super Bowl XLVII.

How would they survive without the retiring Ray Lewis, arguably the greatest middle linebacker in NFL history and unquestionably the leader and face of the franchise for their entire 17-year existence? What would they do to replace future Hall of Fame safety Ed Reed’s presence in the defensive backfield as well as in the locker room? And how could they afford to lose younger talents such as Paul Kruger, Dannell Ellerbe, Bernard Pollard, and Cary Williams in a quest to rebuild an aging and frequently-ineffective defense?

Those who downplayed Lewis’ departure because of his declining play over the final seasons of his career couldn’t overlook the colossal void in leadership and identity that needed to be addressed for an organization that both empowered and depended upon his presence. And after years of watching former Baltimore defensive players escape Lewis’ shadow before finding that the grass wasn’t greener elsewhere, the Ravens themselves will now see how they fare without him.

“In the spring, everybody was hitting the panic button on us because of the guys we lost,” Pro Bowl linebacker and 2011 Defensive Player of the Year Terrell Suggs said. “Even though we were very sad to see those guys go, the show must go on.”

The time for change was right as general manager Ozzie Newsome remembered what some had seemingly forgotten while basking in the image of confetti dropping in New Orleans in a storybook ending for the 2012 Ravens. Though praised for a “bend but don’t break” style that was good enough to complement quarterback Joe Flacco’s incredible postseason performance, the Baltimore defense finished 17th in total defense, tied for 12th in points allowed, 20th against the run, 17th against the pass, and tied for 15th in sacks.

Frankly, the defensive numbers and overall performance were un-Raven-like as Baltimore was weak along the defensive line as well as at safety, prompting Newsome to trade wide receiver Anquan Boldin and his $6 million base salary in 2013 to clear just enough salary cap space to rebuild the defense in terms of both talent and leadership. Defensive ends Chris Canty and Marcus Spears would provide improved depth upfront while free safety Michael Huff seemed like a good bet to, at worst, match the declining play of Reed for a fraction of the cost that the Houston Texans paid for the longtime Raven’s services in free agency.

The prize of the group, however, was Denver Broncos defensive end Elvis Dumervil, who was released due to a contract-restructuring snafu made by his former agent and joined the Ravens after signing a five-year deal worth a maximum value of $35 million. It appeared to be a bargain for a three-time Pro Bowl selection whose work ethic and leadership have been praised by everyone in the organization from the moment he stepped foot in Owings Mills in the spring.

“I think [it comes with] the way you play on the field and how you lead by example,” Dumervil said. “Leadership doesn’t come with talking or speech — it’s just how you carry yourself. I’ve always been a leader. That’s just natural for me, and I think I’ve learned how to follow before I can lead.”

After drafting four defensive players in the first four rounds of April’s draft, Newsome had one more trick up his sleeve in signing longtime Jacksonville Jaguars linebacker Daryl Smith to a one-year deal on the same day the Super Bowl champs visited President Barack Obama at the White House. The 31-year-old has stepped in to play Lewis’ Mike linebacker position while looking like the team’s best player in the preseason, recording 14 tackles and a sack while showing steady ability in pass coverage.

Initially perceived as little more than an insurance policy for injured inside linebacker Jameel McClain, Smith has been praised by everyone in the organization, ranging from his new defensive teammates to quarterback Joe Flacco. Smith’s personality couldn’t be more different from Lewis, which might be a positive while handling such an unenviable task of replacing a legend.

“He doesn’t say a lot, because he’s just about business, and then you sit down and talk to him and realize the depth of his character and personality,” head coach John Harbaugh said. “He’s a great family man, he’s a mature guy, he’s a man. And he’s also – I really believe – one of the most underrated defensive players in football over the last eight [or] nine years. We feel pretty fortunate that he’s here right now.”

The common threads among the five veteran newcomers were the leadership qualities they displayed with their former teams. It was clear the Ravens weren’t simply placing the defensive leadership crown on the heads of Suggs and Pro Bowl defensive tackle Haloti Ngata alone.

There was no replacing Lewis or Reed, but the Ravens appear to be pleased with their by-committee approach as they enter Thursday night’s opener against the Denver Broncos. On paper and in the controlled environment of spring and summer practices, the transition has appeared organic and seamless.

Suggs will be viewed as the new figurehead, but the 30-year-old has acknowledged repeatedly that he’s not looking to be the next Lewis and has appeared more subdued than in past seasons. Overall, it’s a Baltimore defense that lacks the bravado of past units without the camera-friendly Lewis out in front, but the quiet confidence veteran newcomers and young players alike have expressed seems appropriate in a new era.

“It’s different like in any organization when you lose guys that have been there for so long that they kind of assume those roles,” defensive coordinator Dean Pees said. “I think everybody else kind of sat back and just said, ‘Well, that’s really kind of not my role. That’s kind of Ed [Reed] and Ray’s [Lewis] role.’ Now those guys are stepping up, and I don’t think it’s any one particular guy who’s saying, ‘OK, I’m going to be the new Ray Lewis.’ It’s just a bunch of guys collectively stepping up and showing some leadership.”

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McClain likely to start season on reserve PUP list

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McClain likely to start season on reserve PUP list

Posted on 20 August 2013 by Luke Jones

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

OWINGS MILLS, Md. — Injured linebacker Jameel McClain is still an active member of the Ravens, working out on a daily basis, attending meetings, and even jumping out of the weight room to startle a few oblivious reporters during Tuesday’s practice at the team’s facility.

When the 28-year-old returns to action, however, remains a mystery after he suffered a spinal cord contusion more than nine months ago in a game against the Washington Redskins. McClain was placed on the physically unable to perform list at the start of training camp and will likely begin the regular season with that designation, according to head coach John Harbaugh.

McClain has undergone periodic magnetic resonance imaging to determine how well his spinal cord is healing, but he hasn’t been cleared for contact despite optimism throughout the offseason that he would be ready to play this season. A limited participant during spring organized team activities, McClain is now facing a minimum of a six-game absence should he be placed on the reserve PUP list, which allows the Ravens to remove him from the 53-man roster but prohibits him from returning until after the first six weeks of the regular season.

“If we go with the PUP [designation], which I think we will at this point, [we’ll] probably get another MRI before we make that decision,” Harbaugh said. “If we do that, then we’ll just do it again when that time comes, and we’ll see where he is.”

In McClain’s absence, the Ravens have turned to veteran newcomer Daryl Smith to man the “Mike” inside linebacker position previously held by future Hall of Famer Ray Lewis. The Ravens recently renegotiated McClain’s current contract to reduce his 2013 base salary from $3 million to $1.5 million in what didn’t appear to be an encouraging sign for his availability this season.

Injured on Dec. 9 and placed on season-ending injured reserve, McClain was forced to watch from the sideline as the Ravens won Super Boxl XLVII in New Orleans. He made 44 starts over the last three seasons, most of those next to Lewis while serving as the defense’s weakside inside linebacker.

“There are a lot of people that probably think he could play,” Harbaugh said. “I think we’ve had this conversation now with [McClain] and his family, and we all feel like, ‘Let’s be unanimous on this.’ Jameel will continue to remain a part of us through the PUP. He’s in every meeting, [and] he’s training young guys. He’s staying in phenomenal shape.”

Under the rules of the reserve PUP list, a player has a three-week window to begin practicing at the conclusion of the first six weeks. From the point that the player returns to practice, he then has an additional 21-day window before the team must return him to the 53-man roster or place him on IR for the remainder of the season. If the player is unable to return to practice at the conclusion of the first three-week window, he must be placed on IR or released.

Harbaugh made it clear on Tuesday that the Ravens haven’t ruled out McClain from returning this season despite the growing outside pessimism about his status for the 2013 season and even beyond.

“We’ll just keep taking the MRIs, and when the MRI is clear, then he’ll go,” Harbaugh said. “The MRI will be clear. There’s no question that at some point in time it will be clear. It’s just impossible to tell the time frame.”

Attendance steady

Counting down to the all-important third preseason game of the summer, the Ravens were once again looking promising from a health standpoint as tight end Ed Dickson, linebacker Elvis Dumervil, and defensive end Marcus Spears were all practicing for the second straight day.

Dickson worked on a limited basis Monday after being sidelined for two weeks with a slight hamstring tear, but he is not expected to play in Thursday’s game against the Carolina Panthers. However, optimism is growing that he’ll be available for the regular-season opener against Denver on Sept. 5.

“It’s really taken a turn for the better, probably in the last five days,” Harbaugh said. “He’s worked really, extremely hard, so we’re happy to see that and we’ll have to see. You never know. But we’ll have to see where it goes in the next week or so and see where we’re at.”

Dumervil and Spears figure to have a good chance of playing in what’s viewed as the final dress rehearsal for the starting units on Thursday before the start of the regular season.

There were no other changes to the attendance list as wide receiver Deonte Thompson (foot), linebackers Adrian Hamilton (wrist) and McClain (neck), offensive lineman Ryan Jensen (foot), tight end Dennis Pitta (hip), and defensive end Kapron Lewis-Moore (knee) were all absent from the portion of practice open to the media. Tuesday marked the first time this summer where the Ravens used a regular-season format for media viewing of practice, only opening the first 30 minutes of the afternoon workout to reporters.

Harbaugh said Sunday that cornerback Lardarius Webb (knee) and right guard Marshal Yanda (shoulder) likely have a good chance to receive some reps against Carolina, but a final decision is not expected to be made until the day before the game.

Extensive time for starters Thursday night

Harbaugh confirmed that the Ravens plan to play most starters for at least the first half of Thursday’s game against Carolina, following a similar strategy to what they’ve previously done in his tenure.

“It’s individualized,” Harbaugh said. “There will be starters that will probably play into the second half, and there will be starters that probably won’t make it to the end of the half.”

Based on how the final preseason game has been handled in recent seasons, the third preseason will mark the final live-game action of the summer for most starters.

 

 

 

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