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Ravens Marshal Yanda Receives Honor From Former High School

Posted on 08 July 2013 by brianbower

He may not have been included in the NFL Network’s Top 100 but Ravens Pro-Bowl guard got a far higher honor in his hometown of Anamosa, Iowa.

The Super Bowl Champion Yanda was honored by over 400 fans, friends and family members at his former high school where they named their weight room the Marshal Yanda Weight Room. They also retired his #77 jersey.

During a ceremony many of Yanda’s former football coaches spoke about Marshal and the kind of layer he was, including Yanda’s high school coach, Dan Kiley, and his Iowa Hawkeyes coach, Kirk Ferentz.

Marshal’s journey to the NFL was not an easy one for a small town football player. The son of a fourth-generation dairy cow farmer didn’t have the grades to play major-college football out of high school. Not giving up on that goal, he enrolled at North Iowa Area Community College in Mason City. NIACC doesn’t even have football anymore.

“At NIACC, we had 122 guys on the football team,” Yanda told the crowd. “Our coach said ‘How many of you want to play Division I ball?’ Everybody raised their hand. Then he said less than one percent of you would make it.

“I buckled down and took that to heart. I was the one guy who made it out of 122, by working hard and sacrificing.” Yanda told the Gazette in Iowa.

After playing for NIACC for two years the Ravens guard enrolled at the University of Iowa. There Yanda was selected as a 3rd-team All-American choice by The NFL Draft Report in 2006 and earned 2nd-team All-Big Ten honors from the league’s coaches.

Marshal has been a rock with the Ravens since his arrival in Baltimore in 2007 when the team drafted him 86th overall. On July 26, 2011, the Ravens re-signed Yanda to a five year, $32 million contract, solidifying his place along the Baltimore offensive line.

Marshal’s story is the kind of story that warms the heart. From a small town in Iowa to the bright lights of M&T Bank Stadium, he proves that dreams can come true with hard work and lots of heart.

 

Information obtained via the Gazette in Anamosa, Iowa.

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Ravens tight end Dickson sidelined with minor groin strain

Posted on 13 June 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. — As the Ravens concluded their final day of mandatory minicamp, tight end Ed Dickson was absent from the field for a second straight day.

“Ed had a groin strain,” coach John Harbaugh said. “We are resting him. He wasn’t able to practice.”

Several others were absent from the field including Pro Bowl guard Marshal Yanda (shoulder surgery), offensive lineman Antoine McClain (foot surgery), safety Omar Brown (undisclosed), and running back Damien Berry (undisclosed). Harbaugh said Tuesday that Yanda should be ready to go for training camp on at least a limited basis to start.

Pro Bowl defensive tackle Haloti Ngata, nose tackle Terrence Cody (hip surgery), defensive end Kapron Lewis-Moore (ACL surgery), and wide receiver Marlon Brown (knee) were all present but not participating. Ngata appeared to be receiving the day off as he continues to work on his conditioning after rehabbing his injured knee for a large portion of the offseason.

Cornerback Lardarius Webb and linebackers Jameel McClain and Albert McClellan continued to work on a limited basis while rookie linebacker Arthur Brown (sports hernia surgery) appeared to be close to 100 percent as he took part in most individual and team drills.

The Ravens received another health scare during Friday’s midday practice as outside linebacker Adrian Hamilton went down with a lower back injury during an 11-on-11 session. However, all signs point to it only being a minor issue despite the second-year linebacker being in noticeable pain for a few minutes before walking off the indoor field gingerly.

“[We] got a quick report,” Harbaugh said. “It doesn’t seem serious. It was all muscular, so he should be fine. That’s early.”

Players dealing with injuries will now received a lengthy break as the Ravens will have the next several weeks off before reconvening in Owings Mills for the start of training camp in the final week of July.

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Yanda sidelined until training camp after offseason shoulder surgery

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Yanda sidelined until training camp after offseason shoulder surgery

Posted on 11 June 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. — As the Ravens convened for the start of their mandatory three-day minicamp on Tuesday, a critical piece of their offensive line was nowhere to be found as Pro Bowl guard Marshal Yanda was absent from the field.

Coach John Harbaugh wouldn’t disclose the exact ailment from which Yanda is recovering, but The Sun reports that the seventh-year lineman underwent offseason shoulder surgery. Yanda was present for the Ravens’ trip to the White House and the ring ceremony last week but will not return to the practice field until training camp as he continues to rehab.

“We expect him back by camp to some degree,” coach John Harbaugh said. “He’s done a great job. Marshal Yanda has done a great job with the rehab. He’s right on schedule, probably ahead of schedule. He’s doing really well.”

Yanda missed two games last year after suffering an ankle injury against the Washington Redskins on Dec. 9 but recovered to play in all four of the Ravens’ postseason games en route to the franchise’s second Super Bowl championship. Two years ago, Yanda suffered chest and leg injuries in the penultimate game of the regular season but played the following week as he helped the Ravens clinch a division title and first-round bye in a win over the Cincinnati Bengals.

He was elected to the Pro Bowl in each of the last two seasons and is not only regarded as one of the toughest players on the team but also as one of the best guards in the NFL.

The long-term prognosis for Yanda doesn’t appear to be concerning, but the 28-year-old would be eligible to begin training camp on the physically unable to perform list should he not be ready to practice by late July. Jah Reid and Ramon Harewood split time filling in for Yanda as the starting right guard on Tuesday.

Ngata feeling “80 percent”

Speaking to reporters in Owings Mills for the first time since he sprained the MCL of his left knee at the Super Bowl, Pro Bowl defensive tackle Haloti Ngata declared himself to be 80 to 85 percent of where he needs to be after spending much of the offseason rehabbing the injury.

Ngata did not need to undergo surgery, but the eighth-year defensive lineman acknowledged feeling frustrated after dealing with a plethora injuries over the last two seasons, including knee, shoulder, thigh, and ankle ailments at different points. He just began running a few weeks ago after rehabbing the knee injury that knocked him out of the second half of Super Bowl XLVII.

“It’s been real tough,” Ngata said. “Especially towards the end of the season, it just limited me. What I wanted to do was be an explosive player, and not being able to really come off or getting off blocks as well … It definitely was tough towards the end of the season, but you just fight through it, and we got a Super Bowl out of it.”

Much was made of Ngata’s noticeable weight gain last season as he played with 10 extra pounds after complaining of wearing down during the latter half of the 2011 season. Ngata doesn’t appear lighter than he did at the end of last season, but Harbaugh didn’t express concern over the defensive tackle’s level of conditioning with training camp roughly six weeks away.

“He’s in good shape. He’s fine,” Harbaugh said. “He’s right where he needs to be at this time. He’s doing well.”

With the offseason signings of Chris Canty and Marcus Spears, Ngata will not be asked to play defensive end this year and will instead play inside at nose tackle and defensive tackle where he feels he can take better advantage of interior linemen with his strength and quickness.

Ngata didn’t offer any predictions or specifics when asked about a specific weight goal he has in mind for this season, but the Ravens privately hope he’ll be in better condition than he was last season.

“We’ll see what it is. I definitely just want to come in in great shape,” Ngata said. “After this minicamp, these next five weeks are going to be really important for me to make sure I’m in really good shape to come in and participate in camp.”

The four-time Pro Bowl selection signed a five-year, $61 million contract early in the 2011 season and carries an $11.5 million salary cap number for 2013.

Leach’s presence will be missed

With the official release of Pro Bowl fullback Vonta Leach on Tuesday, there was plenty of talk about how the veteran will be missed not only on the field but in the locker room.

Leach was scheduled to make a $3 million base salary and was released when he and the Ravens were unable to work out a restructured contract.

“Vonta [Leach] has been as much of the heart and soul of this team as anybody since he’s been here,” Harbaugh said. “He’s been a great leader. He’s been a tremendous performer. I’ve never had more fun with a player since he’s been here, personally as a coach, than I have had with Vonta.”

Attention will now turn toward rookie fullback Kyle Juszczyk, who is expected to inherit Leach’s starting role despite possessing different skills than the traditional blocking back. Teammates are looking forward to the versatility the fourth-round pick can provide at the position after gaining a reputation as an excellent receiver out of the backfield at Harvard.

Juszczyk caught a team-high 52 passes for 706 yards and eight touchdowns in his senior season.

“I would just say his athleticism and the ways you can use him,” quarterback Joe Flacco said. “Catching the football, blocking, running the football, lining him up in diesel formations and having him run routes. Obviously, we’re going to have to wait to see when we put on the pads in training camp to get a good sense for what he does with that kind of stuff.”

The Ravens began shying away from using Leach on a regular basis as the offense became more pass-heavy last season, but that doesn’t mean the 31-year-old’s departure and Juszczyk’s increased presence will dramatically change Baltimore’s plans on the offensive side of the ball.

“It doesn’t,” run-game coordinator Juan Castillo said. “[Running backs coach Wilbert Montgomery] is working with Kyle to get him so he can learn our schemes. He’s a rookie. He’s been working hard to learn our schemes. He should be able to do a good job once he gets some experience.”

Slimmer Suggs

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Yanda seeing a looser Harbaugh this season

Posted on 31 January 2013 by WNST Staff

GUARD MARSHAL YANDA

(on his relationship with Joe Flacco) “We’re all good friends, good teammates. We’ve been at this a while, and when you have years of experience together, you just build a relationship. Joe is a great guy, and I respect the heck out of him. I like playing with him. He’s a great quarterback, and we just try to give him as much time as we can.”

 

(on Flacco’s calm personality) “He’s a real calm, collected guy. He’s not much of a rah-rah, pump-up, high motivator type of guy. He doesn’t talk a ton but he leads by example on the field and does a great job of staying calm and focusing on what’s important. He’s a serious competitor, too. He likes to compete and you can tell when he’s out there on the field, he’s out there to play his best football and get after it.”

 

(on physical recovery after football games) “It’s usually pretty rough. Obviously you’re pretty stiff and sore, and you know there will be some certain bumps and bruises that weren’t there the day before. That’s just part of the game. It’s a violent game. It’s a long year. You try to take care of your body as best as you can and stay as healthy as you can.”

 

(on how important the matchup between the Baltimore offensive line and San Francisco defensive line will be) “It’s important every game, just getting started up front and with the battle that’s going on between the defensive line and offensive line, if we succeed, the rest of the team will follow, so it’s very important.”

 

(on how to explain a team that did not make the playoffs playing well against a team that made the Super Bowl) “It doesn’t matter, a Super Bowl team or a team that’s not in the playoffs, the competition, the difference between a good team and a bad team is very minimal. Teams can show up that haven’t won a game all year and they’ll kick your butt. The competition is so stiff that there isn’t much difference between a team that’s 4-12 or 12-4. What it comes down to is you’ve just got to find a way to win, and usually we do a good job with that.”

 

(on how coach John Harbaugh has handled the pressure of this week and if he is more relaxed) “I think this entire year he’s kind of been a little looser, but obviously this Super Bowl week, so he’s been loose but focused, too. You’ve got to put focus right behind there. He’s confident in us. He expects us, when we go out and work, to work. We know that it makes it easier for us: go out there and work hard. He’s going to take care of us and he’s not going to be too uptight. It’s been a great week so far, and I think we’ve done a great job.”

 

(on how Harbaugh has changed since he first arrived as Baltimore’s coach) “Things were a lot different when he first got here, as far as, he didn’t have all his (assistant coaches) that he wanted. There were some guys that gave him fits, and he was a lot more uptight, but also, you didn’t have your relationships built. Just like anything, your first year in, you really don’t know a person. Now, we’ve got five years with him, so it’s all the relationships on the team have built up over five years with the guys that have been here. You’re more comfortable with him, you trust him, you’ve had tough losses with him, great wins, a lot of just going at it together, pretty much going to battle.”

 

(on what this week has been like) “It’s been a great week. They always tell you there’s going to be more distractions, and you just focus on the game. For me, it’s just been hanging out in the hotel and going out to get a bite to eat and enjoy living in the moment of playing in the Super Bowl, just trying to get some pictures when you can. My family got in town yesterday, my wife and my kids, so just hanging out with them and enjoying it. All I care about is winning the game. I’m not down here to see New Orleans, which is a great city. It seems nice.”

 

(on the biggest threat that San Francisco presents) “Aldon Smith, you know, 19-and-a-half sacks, but you can go with Patrick Willis, too. There’s a lot of guys, Justin Smith, but if you have to pick one, I’d go with Aldon Smith. Justin Smith complements him, but Aldon Smith.”

 

(on if he’s learned anything about his team that he didn’t know before this week) “Just that we’ve got a veteran group and guys that know how to take care of themselves and be professionals. That’s all really they ask of you: be a pro about it and take your job seriously, make sure when it is time to work that you work. When we go to practice and in meetings, be locked in because that’s the most important thing. We want to stay high. We’ve been playing well, and we don’t want to dip by any means. We don’t want to lay an egg.”

 

(on what Super Bowl memory from his youth resonates the most with him) “My first Super Bowl memory is the 49ers with Jerry Rice and Steve Young. I think they were playing the Chargers (in Super Bowl XXIX). I was a little kid. My favorite player was Jerry Rice. I had a bunch of Jerry Rice jerseys and liked the 49ers. I was a young kid, and the 49ers were hot back then. It was easy for them to be my favorite team.”

 

(on if there was an offensive lineman that he tried to pattern his game after along the way) “You watch a lot of film. You watch everybody. You watch tackles, you watch guards. I’ve played tackle, too, so you watch a lot of tackles. You try to be the best you can be but also understand that every guy is different. You’re body type is way different than anybody else’s. Sometimes your blocks are going to look a little different, or you’re not going to be able to do what that guy does. You’ve got to find your own way, with how you feel you do it. From my years of playing offensive line, I’ve found what works for me and I do that and accept that. I just try to be great and take advantage of the tools that I’ve been given. We watch guys all the time. There’s a lot of great ones out there.”

 

(on if he does a lot of self-scouting) “Yeah, we’re continuously watching ourselves on film. Sometimes the way you feel, the way you set in a passing set, you’re feeling strong and then you watch yourself of film and you’re like, ‘I don’t want to be like that.’ You compare yourself, and on film, sometimes it’s not the way (you want to play). You’ve got to go back and forth and self-scout and be critical of yourself. I think what made me the player I am is that I never thought I was a good player. I’ve always had confidence in myself, but I never felt like I arrived. I always felt like I could keep getting better and I still can. I think if you take that approach every day, you’re going to get better as a player. I’ve definitely gotten better every year that I’ve played the game. I just continue to keep getting a little bit better. You want to be one of those dominant players. An old offensive line coach told me back in the day that the great ones never get beat. I never want to get beaten at anything. It does happen time to time, but I want it to happen the very least amount. I take a lot of pride in that. I want to be great. I want to be a great player in this league, and you work at it every day.”

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Yanda proud to receive praise as one of league’s best guards

Posted on 30 January 2013 by WNST Staff

GUARD MARSHAL YANDA

(on the experience of the Super Bowl so far) “You try to live in the moment as best you can, as far as taking in all of the experiences, but everybody is having a good time and enjoying it. I’m kind of ready to get back to football though. We start practice today and start game planning stuff, and I’m just excited to get back to running around and get ready for San Fran.”

 

(on Brian Baldinger saying that there isn’t a better guard in the NFL than Marshal Yanda) “It’s nice to hear. People seeing you and watching you and saying you do great things, it just shows you that hard work is paying off and the most important thing is to play at a high level and just not having bad games, stacking good days, and that’s something that I’ve always been proud and wanted to be a great player. I take a lot of pride in that. I do want to be great. I want to be one of those guys mentioned at the top and at my position.”

 

(on how he likes being selected for the Pro Bowl but playing in the Super Bowl instead) “You want to have it that way. We all know that last year we were in the AFC Championship game, lose, and then two days later you’ve got to pack up and go to Hawaii. I mean that’s a tough deal when you make it that far, so this year, I wanted to make it, but I didn’t want to play in it. I obviously wanted to make it to this big stage and get here because that’s what we all work for everyday: to make it to this point, and you just keep working one day at a time and getting better and focus.”

 

(on how Joe Flacco’s release time helps the offensive line) “Yeah, Joe’s got a real strong arm, and he plants his back foot and gets it out of there. We just try to protect him as long as we can. It doesn’t matter if it’s a three-step, five-step or seven-step drop, we’re trying to give him as much time as we can and let him do his reads and just play good football. It’s a combination of understanding where he’s going to be at but also blocking as long as you can, no matter the timing in your head. You try to throw that out and just block as long as you can and give him as much time to make plays.”

 

(on what Bernard Pierce adds to Baltimore’s running game) “Obviously, the second guy comes in, you might think there would be a drop-off, but he’s showing that he’s a hard, physical running back that makes guys miss, and he’s a great complement to Ray (Rice). When he comes in, it’s not like we’re going to drop-off. He can take it the distance and bust out and make plays. He’s done that, and it’s great to have him. He’s matured a lot this year as a rookie, and he’s got a bright future, no doubt.”

 

(on the changes made to the offensive line and how it has helped the team) “Yeah, they switched it up, obviously right before the (first) playoff game. (Bryant McKinnie) went to left tackle, (Kelechi Osemele) went to left guard, and then (Michael Oher) went to right (tackle). That’s a big challenge for all three of those guys to be able to switch positions, especially (Osemele) as a rookie, to be able to play every game at right tackle as a rookie and then in the playoffs, switch to left guard. Everything in his mind is flipped, you’re in a left-handed stance. Obviously, your position of power is different when you switch stances, so for him to be able to do that, and be that ready when you haven’t played (there) all year, and then (Oher), being able to just play at a high level. Those three guys, it was very important for them to be able to do that, and they did it with ease. When we went to the playoffs, (the changes) were just in a week, so that was huge.”

 

(on if players were surprised when coaches told them there would be changes on the offensive line) “Well, we knew Jah Reid got hurt and it was a season-ending injury, so we had to do something. We knew there was a change in effect and something had to happen. We knew it was coming.”

 

(on the timing of the changes) “It speaks volumes for (McKinnie, Osemele and Oher) to be able to do that because that’s tough to do. You’re really rolling the dice, switching guys around like that and you’re in the playoffs, so if something goes wrong or you have a bad game, we’re done, we’re not here right now. Those guys did a really good job of not missing a beat. That just speaks well to how good of players they are, and for (Osemele) to be able to do that is huge. He’s got a bright future and has shown his versatility and is playing at a high level.”

 

(on the challenges that San Francisco’s linebackers will present) “You just do your best. You come up there and look at the reads, try to get on the right aiming point, and you just try to finish the block from there. Just their vision, and when they need to be physical, they can bring it. When they need to run, they can run. When they need to juke you to make you miss, they can do all three of those really well. Usually, with a linebacker, all you’ve got to worry about sometimes is a big, physical guy that’s going to run you over. Those guys can do that, and they can also juke you because they’ve got the speed, too. They’ve got a lot of good things that make it tough to (block). I’m not going to be able to just come up to them and knock the snot out of them because he’s going to make me miss. You’ve got to respect them because they’re great players. We’ve got to get them blocked to be able to do well against them on Sunday.”

 

(on how San Francisco frees defensive players) “They do a lot of pick games. Their big thing is to pick guys and get our linemen on different levels and get us picked, as far as to get guys free and then come around and get free runners to the quarterback. We’re watching film on them, and they do a great job of that — the guys on the left and the right. They do a good job of sometimes holding guys up, as far as Justin Smith kind of pulling the guard a little bit to let Aldon Smith come inside. It’s not going to get called because it’s very subtle, but it’s very big. They do a good job of that, and they do it on the right side, too. They do a good job of getting us on different levels. We’ve got to do a good job of setting off the ball square and blocking their stuff, and they do a good job of moving in and out, so you can’t really just block for (one thing). They keep you honest at all times.”

 

(on how San Francisco defensive tackle Ray McDonald has improved over the past couple of years) “Ray McDonald is very underrated. You don’t hear about him, but he does a lot for those two guys on the left, too. He pushes the pocket really well. He’s got a really strong bull rush. That’s his best adjective because he’s really strong, and he can get off the ball real quick and then get in you and he’ll bull you. You see him a lot of times pushing the guard two, three, four yards in the backfield. When he does that, the quarterback can’t step up (in the pocket). When you play guard, you’ve got to be able to stop that so the quarterback can step up and make the throw. Ray’s usually pushing his guys into that to disrupt it. He’s a big, strong guy and he doesn’t get a lot of credit but he does a lot of good things. He’s just as important as those guys on the left side, too.”

 

(on Baltimore quarterback Joe Flacco’s father saying his son is a ‘dull’ guy) “I wouldn’t say he’s dull. He’s not a real vocal leader. I’m on board with that. I don’t need a lot of vocal motivation. He’s a silent competitor, a silent leader, and he leads by his example on the field. I’m a guy like that, too. I’m not a big rah-rah guy, ‘Hey, we need to do this, do that.’ You just lead by example on the field with your work. Nothing needs to be said when you turn the tape on and you see guys making big plays, nothing else needs to be said. He’s not dull, but he’s not an outgoing guy.”

 

(on Baltimore having previous experience in big games) “We definitely know what it’s like to play in big games. When that stage comes, it’s obviously not a new thing for us. We’ve been in the playoffs a bunch. We’ve played Pittsburgh and New England a lot, so we’re in those tight ball games a bunch. If you get two good teams and they don’t turn the ball over much, it’s going to be one of those tight games that’s going to come down to a play here and a play there. It’s nice to be battle tested.”

 

(on the continuity that he and center Matt Birk have provided during the other changes to the offensive line) “(With) Matt being there, we understood that (Bryant McKinnie, Kelechi Osemele and Michael Oher) would have a tough job of switching positions and playing well. We understood ours, ‘Hey they better get my best.’ They will for sure because I’ve been at my spot all year the past two years, and they’re not going to get a bad game out of me. These guys have a lot more on their plate than I do. I want to be able to step up and give a good game, and Matt does, too.”

 

(on the improvements Flacco has made during his career) “He’s played at a high level, and whenever he needs to rise to the occasion, he has. Whether it was last year, two years ago or this year, whenever we need a big game out of Joe, he rises to the occasion and plays great, put the ball in the right spot, and done a good job.”

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Yanda expects tough matchup with Niners DL McDonald

Posted on 29 January 2013 by WNST Staff

GUARD MARSHALL YANDA

 

(on Joe Flacco) “He’s competitive. He wants to win very much.  He’s vocal, but not too vocal.  We know what we have to do, and I don’t like it when guys talk in the huddle too much.  I love that about Joe.”

 

(on Flacco’s relationship with his offensive line)  “He takes good care of the offensive line.  He takes us out to dinner, gave us a surround sound box to attach to our TV at Christmas.  Will his gifts get bigger if he gets a new contract?  They don’t need to, they are fine as they are.  Remember, even offensive linemen make decent money now.”

 

(on guard Bobbie Williams) “He’s a veteran, a guy that can get the job done.  He started games for me at right guard, he started at left guard.  He fit right into the locker room.  We bring him in, a guy who has played right guard.  I was hoping to stay at right guard and I asked him if he could play left.  He said, ‘I got you,  bro.’”

 

(on center Matt Birk) “He’s 100% pro.  He always takes care of his body.  He’s had the kind of career we are all chasing.  He was healthier this year and he played really well.  I know I was always straining to get a higher grade than he did each week.  He played last year’s championship game while he was hurting.  In better health this year, he still plays at a very high level.”

 

(on the 49ers front seven)  “I think the key to their defensive line is that they have no weak link.  I know the two guys on their right side, our left, are great players, but they are all good.  Ray McDonald is a load with a great bull rush.  There is no one we can say,’ oh we can handle him one-on-one.’”

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Our Ravens/Patriots “Pats on the Ass”

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Our Ravens/Patriots “Pats on the Ass”

Posted on 20 January 2013 by Glenn Clark

After every Baltimore Ravens victory, Ryan Chell and I take to the airwaves on “The Nasty Purple Postgame Show” on AM1570 WNST.net to offer “Pats on the Ass” to players who have done something to deserve the honor.

We give pats to two defensive players, two offensive players and one “Wild Card”-either another offensive or defensive player, a Special Teams player or a coach. We offer a “Pat on Both Cheeks” to someone who stands out, our version of a “Player of the Game.” Ryan and I select five different players/coaches each.

Here are our “Pats on the Ass” following the Ravens’ 28-13 win over the New England Patriots at Gillette Stadium in the AFC Championship Game to clinch a trip to Super Bowl XLVII…

Glenn Clark’s Pats…

5. Jim Caldwell

4. Pernell McPhee

3. Marshal Yanda

2. Bernard Pollard

1. Joe Flacco (Pat on Both Cheeks)

(Ryan’s Pats on Page 2…)

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Ravens embracing opportunity for second chance in New England

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Ravens embracing opportunity for second chance in New England

Posted on 14 January 2013 by Luke Jones

OWINGS MILLS, Md. — In the moments following the improbable 38-35 double overtime win over the Denver Broncos Saturday night, running back Ray Rice labeled the Ravens “a team of destiny.”

So, why wouldn’t the New England Patriots once again be standing in the way of Baltimore’s first trip to the Super Bowl since Jan. 2001? If you believe in such storybook treks, defeating the Indianapolis Colts and toppling Peyton Manning for the first time since 2001 were appropriate opening chapters, but a return trip to Gillette Stadium in Foxborough would be the ultimate climax.

The painful ending to last season’s AFC Championship was one that drove the Ravens throughout the offseason as they desperately worked — and hoped — to land themselves back in the same position. Even after a Week 3 win over New England in Baltimore earlier this season, another meeting with Tom Brady, Bill Belichick, and the Patriots was impossible not to think about in many Ravens players’ minds.

“I think we personally kind of wanted to play the Patriots again,” defensive tackle Haloti Ngata said. “If we were to go to the Super Bowl, it would be great to go through Foxborough and win there. It’s another matchup that I think that we’re excited about, and hopefully, we can get it done this time.”

Meeting in the postseason for the third time in five seasons, the Ravens and Patriots have built a rivalry similar to the one between New England and Indianapolis last decade as it seemed Brady and Manning were always on a collision course in January. The teams have met five times overall in the John Harbaugh era with all but one game — the Ravens’ 33-14 victory in the wild-card round of the 2009 season — being decided by fewer than seven points.

While games with New England may not challenge the annual meetings with the Pittsburgh Steelers, Harbaugh acknowledged how familiar the Ravens are with the Patriots and how familiar they are with playing in Foxborough.

“We’ve been there a number of times. It’s definitely grown into quite a rivalry, we would like to say,” coach John Harbaugh said. “I don’t know how they feel about that part, but we have tremendous respect for the New England Patriots.”

The Patriots own the advantage as they’ve won three of the five meetings between the teams since 2009, with no win bigger than last year’s 23-20 final that gave them the AFC title after the late failures of Lee Evans and Billy Cundiff.

As remarkable as their postseason run has been after losing four of their last five games to close the regular season, the Ravens know who stands in their way of achieving their ultimate goal, and they understand they will once again be considered a significant underdog as oddsmakers have favored New England by 9 1/2 points.

“They have the history,” wide receiver Torrey Smith said. “They have been there, and we want to get to where they have been. They were there last year. They knocked us out, and we want to get to that point, get this win, and get to the Super Bowl.”

As was the case last week, Ravens players expressed no interest in what the outside world thinks about their team, but they embraced the opportunity for a second chance to right the wrongs left on the field in Foxborough last season. And as the images of Evans’ drop and Cundiff’s miss are replayed all week, Baltimore is ready to turn the page for a different ending this time around.

“The feeling that we had in that locker room, I think we all wanted to get back to the AFC Championship,” Ngata said. “And then to actually have it be back in Foxborough, it’s a good story.”

Ayanbadejo apologizes for Patriots comments

After posting a series of critical comments about the Patriots on his official Twitter account Sunday evening, linebacker Brendon Ayanbadejo backed off his stance Monday as many were critical of the veteran special-teams player for conjuring bulletin-board material before New England had even officially advanced to the conference championship.

The 36-year-old apologized for drawing negative attention to himself and the Ravens six days ahead of the AFC title game.

“I made selfish comments on twitter last night that reflected poorly upon myself, my teammates, and the organization,” Ayanbadejo tweeted Monday morning. “For that I apologize.”

It remains unclear how Harbaugh handled the situation at the team’s training facility in Owings Mills, but the Baltimore coach had little interest in discussing Ayanbadejo’s comments when asked to respond during his Monday afternoon press conference.

“That’s all stuff that just isn’t really relevant,” Harbaugh said. “It’s all stuff that I don’t think is worthy of the conversation right now.”

Ayanbadejo didn’t play any defensive snaps in Saturday’s win and was part of the coverage units that allowed two return touchdowns to Denver’s Trindon Holliday.

Earlier Monday, he didn’t receive much of an endorsement from his defensive teammate Ngata when the four-time Pro Bowl selection was asked whether he agreed with the linebacker’s assessment of the Patriots’ hurry-up offense.

“I’m not going to comment on that stuff,” Ngata said. “That’s all about him and his deal.”

Jones, Graham special contributors

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Your Monday Reality Check: Hyperbole aside, line play why Ravens still riding

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Your Monday Reality Check: Hyperbole aside, line play why Ravens still riding

Posted on 14 January 2013 by Glenn Clark

WNST.net Ravens insider Luke Jones joined us for “The Nasty Purple Postgame Show” late Saturday night after the Baltimore Ravens’ unbelievable 38-35 2OT win over the Denver Broncos.

Emotions were high in the Zone Superstore Studios of WNST.net. It was hard to have a legitimate conversation. A group of us had gathered to sit and watch the game and just found ourselves shouting “no way” and “unreal” at the television as the Ravens delivered perhaps the most miraculous victory in franchise history.

It was hard to discuss anything beyond the emotion of the moment, the will of the football team, the observations related to the Ravens truly being a team of “destiny”.

Even Head Coach John Harbaugh was caught up in the moment, once again tying the success of a football team to a level of divine intervention in his postgame press conference.

(I have no idea if the Messiah has any interest in determining the outcomes of football games. Perhaps maybe he (she?) felt as though the Broncos had to pay a price for parting ways with the known prophet Tim Tebow in the offseason. And if the Ruler of the Universe really does have concern related to the pigskin, I would vastly prefer a divine preference for the Ravens myself.)

I wish I could tell you what Luke’s response was. More than 24 hours later, I don’t fully remember. What I believe I remember him saying was something about Joe Flacco and then more about the will of the football team. I’m completely in agreement, but it didn’t necessarily answer my question. I’m sort of glad for that.

There’s a well known joke that says “Joe Buck is to baseball what the Catholic Church is to sex. It’s okay that it’s happening just as long as no one is enjoying it.” I’m glad Luke didn’t ruin the beauty of the moment by going all “Nate Silver” and killing us with football nerd-dom. It’s much better that we had a full 24 hours to enjoy and celebrate perhaps the greatest non-Super Bowl win in franchise history before we returned to a more X’s and O’s based discussion of what happened for the Baltimore Ravens Saturday and what they’ll need to do to win moving forward.

(This is the part where you say, “that’s a nice set-up Glenn. You’re a real pro’s pro.”)

The Baltimore Ravens DID win Saturday because of their will. They DID win Saturday because they believed in each other and never lost hope. They DID win Saturday because they have tested veterans who simply refuse to give up or allow a beloved teammate to step into retirement without leaving every last ounce of effort they’re capable of giving on the field.

It’s not just hyperbole. There’s absolute truth to it. It’s just not the entire story. In fact, it’s not even close to the most important part of the story. We go to that stuff first because it’s more likely to get clicks. We’re not stupid.

(Continued on Page 2…)

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Our Ravens/Broncos “Pats on the Ass”

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Our Ravens/Broncos “Pats on the Ass”

Posted on 12 January 2013 by Glenn Clark

After every Baltimore Ravens victory, Ryan Chell and I take to the airwaves on “The Nasty Purple Postgame Show” on AM1570 WNST.net to offer “Pats on the Ass” to players who have done something to deserve the honor. This week, Luke Jones joined us as well.

We give pats to two defensive players, two offensive players and one “Wild Card”-either another offensive or defensive player, a Special Teams player or a coach. We offer a “Pat on Both Cheeks” to someone who stands out, our version of a “Player of the Game.” Ryan and I select five different players/coaches each.

Here are our “Pats on the Ass” following the Ravens’ 38-35 double overtime win over the Denver Broncos at Sports Authority Field at Mile High Sunday in a AFC Divisional playoff.

Glenn Clark’s Pats…

5. Pernell McPhee

4. Ray Lewis

3. Ray Rice

2. Jacoby Jones

1. Justin Tucker (Pat on Both Cheeks)

(Ryan’s Pats on Page 2…)

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