Tag Archive | "marshal yanda"

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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

CONTINUE ON NEXT PAGE >>>

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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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Why will this one be any different for Ravens against red-hot Denver?

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Why will this one be any different for Ravens against red-hot Denver?

Posted on 08 January 2013 by Luke Jones

OWINGS MILLS, Md. — The Ravens have heard the doubts since the first hours following their wild-card playoff win over the Indianapolis Colts on Sunday night.

The Broncos demolished them in a 34-17 final at M&T Bank Stadium less than four weeks ago, the worst home loss of the John Harbaugh era. The score really wasn’t even that close as Denver seemingly took its foot off the gas pedal after building a 31-3 lead midway through the third quarter.

Denver has a league-best 11-game winning streak and hasn’t lost a game since the Orioles were still playing postseason baseball in early October. Baltimore has been installed as a nine-point underdog by oddsmakers in Las Vegas.

How can the Ravens possibly expect a different result this time around as they travel to Sports Authority Field at Mile High on a short week to take on the mighty Broncos coming off a bye week?

The image of quarterback Joe Flacco throwing an interception returned 98 yards for a touchdown by cornerback Chris Harris right before halftime is just too much to shake, isn’t it?

“It doesn’t surprise me that nobody would really give us too much of a shot,” Flacco said. “They beat us up pretty good a couple weeks ago. I think you always have that little chip that you want to go out there and prove to people that you’re a good football team.”

The Ravens believe they are a better football team now than the one on display that day at M&T Bank Stadium as they were only six days removed from firing offensive coordinator Cam Cameron and promoting quarterbacks coach Jim Caldwell. Five key starters were missing from the lineup due to injury. And what could have been a one-possession game going into halftime — with the Ravens set to receive the opening kickoff of the second half — was dramatically transformed into a 17-0 deficit that broke the spirit of what was an inspired defensive effort against Peyton Manning in the first half.

So, as the rest of the country focuses on the deficiencies that were on full display in that embarrassing loss, the Ravens instead look ahead at Saturday’s opportunity while acknowledging how one play can dramatically change the tone — and outcome — of a football game.

“Everybody has an opinion. Whatever that opinion is, let them have it,” said linebacker Ray Lewis, who reminded reporters that the 2000 Ravens were underdogs through much of their run to Super Bowl XXXV. “One thing about it, the game has to be played. No matter what anybody says or who they feel is going to win, you have to play the game on [Saturday]. That’s the way we feel — let the game play out. Because at the end of the day, some people are going to be right and some people are going to be wrong.”

There’s no way to sugarcoat that the Ravens are the clear underdog in this one as the Broncos have dominated on both sides of the ball — ranked fourth in total offense and second in total defense during the regular season — over the last three months to enter the postseason as the AFC’s No. 1 seed. The Denver defense is led by Defensive Player of the Year candidate Von Miller and Elvis Dumervil, who formed the best pass-rushing duo in the league with a combined 29 1/2 sacks this season. The Broncos battered Flacco to the tune of three sacks and nine quarterback hits in that first meeting.

Manning has played at an MVP-caliber level in throwing for 4,695 yards and 37 touchdowns this season, and wide receiver Eric Decker torched the Ravens with 133 receiving yards in that Week 15 win. The Ravens haven’t beaten a Manning-led team in 11 years as the future Hall of Fame quarterback has gotten the best of them over and over.

But a Baltimore defense without Lewis, Dannell Ellerbe, and Bernard Pollard held the Broncos to 10 points in the first 29 minutes of play on Dec. 16, three coming after a Flacco fumble on the Ravens’ first drive to set up Denver at midfield. It was only after the backbreaking interception on a quick out intended for Anquan Boldin that an undermanned defense completely wilted in the second half.

Flacco and the rest of the offense know they must perform at a much higher level to give the Ravens any chance to pull off the upset in Denver. In Caldwell’s debut as offensive coordinator, Baltimore had a fumble, five three-and-outs, and an interception over its first seven drives.

Recently, the starting offense has looked much better in scoring 57 points in games against New York and Indianapolis that sandwiched the regular-season finale in Cincinnati that was a glorified preseason game. The Ravens also may have finally settled on their best offensive line this past Sunday with veteran Bryant McKinnie finally being inserted at left tackle with Michael Oher moving to the right side and rookie Kelechi Osemele shifting inside to left guard.

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Ravens list seven players as questionable for Bengals game

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Ravens list seven players as questionable for Bengals game

Posted on 28 December 2012 by Luke Jones

OWINGS MILLS, Md. — Questions remain over which players the Ravens will elect to rest in the regular-season finale against the Cincinnati Bengals on Sunday, but it’s appearing more likely they will sit defensive tackle Haloti Ngata and right guard Marshal Yanda.

Both players missed their third straight practice on Friday and were listed as questionable on the final injury report of the week. Ngata is listed as having a knee injury and is on the injury report for the first time since late November while Yanda is still recovering from a serious ankle sprain that sidelined him in Week 15.

The Ravens also listed wide receivers Anquan Boldin and Tandon Doss, defensive end Arthur Jones, fullback Vonta Leach, and linebacker Albert McClellan as questionable.

Coach John Harbaugh has maintained he will play to win Sunday’s game like any other regular-season contest as there is still a chance for the Ravens to claim the No. 3 seed in the AFC with a victory and a New England loss. However, the Baltimore coach has also said they will try to be as healthy as possible for the opening round of the playoffs, leading many to believe the Ravens will rest many significant players for at least a portion of the game.

Bengals head coach Marvin Lewis has also said his team will play to win Sunday’s game despite Cincinnati having no scenario in which they can move up from the No. 6 position in the conference.

“We’ll go in there to win the game,” said Harbaugh, who provided no new injury updates following Friday’s practice. “We’ll have 46 guys active. It’ll be the 46 best guys available to us, like always, and we’ll go in there to play.”

Linebacker Ray Lewis was surprisingly listed as probable for Sunday’s game after Harbaugh said on more than one occasion that the 37-year-old will not play in Week 17. The designation largely stems from Lewis being a full participant in all three practices this week, and there is little reason to believe he will suit up and play against Cincinnati.

Meanwhile, the Bengals ruled kicker Mike Nugent out for Sunday’s game with a right calf injury. He will be replaced by veteran Josh Brown.

Bengals cornerbacks Jason Allen and Terence Newman are both listed as questionable after being limited participants in practice all week.

BALTIMORE
QUESTIONABLE: WR Anquan Boldin (shoulder), WR Tandon Doss (ankle), DE Arthur Jones (thigh), FB Vonta Leach (ankle), LB Albert McClellan (shoulder/thigh), DT Haloti Ngata (knee), G Marshal Yanda (shoulder/knee)
PROBABLE: LB Dannell Ellerbe (ankle), WR Jacoby Jones (ankle), LB Ray Lewis (triceps), DE Pernell McPhee (thigh), TE Dennis Pitta (knee), S Bernard Pollard (chest), S Ed Reed (shoulder), CB Jimmy Smith (Abdomen), LB Terrell Suggs (biceps)

CINCINNATI
OUT: K Mike Nugent (right calf)
QUESTIONABLE: CB Jason Allen (hamstring), CB Terence Newman (groin)
PROBABLE: RB BenJarvus Green-Ellis (illness), CB Adam Jones (hamstring), S Reggie Nelson (shoulder)

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Ngata receiving “well-deserved rest” ahead of Bengals game

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Ngata receiving “well-deserved rest” ahead of Bengals game

Posted on 27 December 2012 by Luke Jones

OWINGS MILLS, Md. — Head coach John Harbaugh has said the Ravens will play to win Sunday’s game against the Cincinnati Bengals, but they are taking the final week of the regular season as an opportunity to rest Pro Bowl defensive tackle Haloti Ngata.

The seventh-year defensive lineman missed his second straight practice on Thursday with what’s listed as a knee injury. Ngata hadn’t been listed on the injury report since late November but has battled knee and shoulder issues for much of the season.

Defensive coordinator Dean Pees did not express concern over Ngata’s availability for Sunday’s game in Cincinnati, explaining the Ravens are simply allowing him to take a couple days off. Named to his fourth consecutive Pro Bowl on Wednesday, Ngata hasn’t made the same impact along the defensive line as the Ravens have enjoyed in past seasons but appears to be looking stronger over the last few weeks of the regular season.

“I think he’s getting there,” Pees said. “He’s been banged up seems like kind of all year here and there. He’s getting some well-deserved rest.”

Two other Pro Bowl selections also missed Thursday’s workout as right guard Marshal Yanda and fullback Vonta Leach sat out. Yanda was missing for the second straight day, but his practice status hasn’t been surprising considering he is still recuperating from a significant ankle sprain that forced him out of the lineup in Week 15. The seventh-year guard is also dealing with shoulder and knee issues.

Dressed in street clothes, Leach was on the field during the special-teams portion of practice but left before the rest of the team began working out. He has been dealing with an ankle injury and has received regular days off over the last few weeks.

Wide receiver Anquan Boldin (shoulder bruise) practiced on a limited basis for the second straight day and doesn’t appear to be feeling too many lingering effects from the injury sustained in last Sunday’s 33-14 win over the New York Giants. Wide receiver Tandon Doss, defensive lineman Arthur Jones, and linebacker Albert McClellan were also limited participants.

For the Bengals, starting running back BenJarvus Green-Ellis (illness) and kicker Mike Nugent (right calf) did not participate in Thursday’s workout.

BALTIMORE
DID NOT PARTICIPATE: FB Vonta Leach (ankle), DT Haloti Ngata (knee), G Marshal Yanda (shoulder/knee)
LIMITED PARTICIPATION: WR Anquan Boldin (shoulder), WR Tandon Doss (ankle), DE Arthur Jones (thigh), LB Albert McClellan (shoulder/thigh)
FULL PARTICIPATION: LB Dannell Ellerbe (ankle), WR Jacoby Jones (ankle), LB Ray Lewis (triceps), DE Pernell McPhee (thigh), TE Dennis Pitta (knee), S Bernard Pollard (chest), S Ed Reed (shoulder), CB Jimmy Smith (abdomen), LB Terrell Suggs (biceps)

CINCINNATI
DID NOT PARTICIPATE: RB BenJarvus Green-Ellis (illness), K Mike Nugent (right calf)
LIMITED PARTICIPATION: CB Jason Allen (hamstring), CB Adam Jones (hamstring), S Reggie Nelson (shoulder), CB Terence Newman (hamstring)

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