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Our Ravens/Lions “Pats on the Ass”

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Our Ravens/Lions “Pats on the Ass”

Posted on 17 December 2013 by Glenn Clark

After every Baltimore Ravens victory, Ryan Chell and I take to the airwaves on “The Creative Deck Designs 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’ 18-16 victory over the Detroit Lions Monday night at Ford Field…

Glenn Clark’s Pats…

5. Dean Pees

4. Daryl Smith

3. Jacoby Jones

2. Joe Flacco

1. Jimmy Smith (Pat on Both Cheeks)

(Continued on Page 2…)

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Extra motivation not required for Lions’ Johnson

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Extra motivation not required for Lions’ Johnson

Posted on 12 December 2013 by Luke Jones

OWINGS MILLS, Md. — Ravens safety Matt Elam certainly provided the flavor needed for an extra day of buildup for Monday’s meeting with the Detroit Lions.

While also offering words of praise for All-Pro wide receiver Calvin Johnson, Elam naively called the 28-year-old receiver “pretty old” while questioning the 6-foot-5, 236-pound wideout’s physicality on Wednesday. Johnson took the bait in Thursday’s conference call with the Baltimore media, vowing to show Elam and the Baltimore secondary his “old-man strength,” but anyone extending the rookie’s comments any further in thinking it will impact Monday’s outcome is reaching.

Though the 22-year-old Elam put a target on his back and left himself open for criticism should Johnson get behind him for a long touchdown or two, you don’t need outside motivation when you’re the best wide receiver on the planet and on track to become one of the greatest in NFL history. Those pointing to Johnson’s 329-yard receiving day against Dallas that followed Dez Bryant’s inflammatory comments earlier this year overlook the role the Cowboys’ 32nd-ranked pass defense played in the career day.

Simply put, there’s no such thing as waking a sleeping giant when he’s already been stomping on opponents every week.

“Would you think that Calvin Johnson is going to come to a Monday night game on national television and not play his best game anyway [until] a rookie said something? I doubt it,” said cornerback Jimmy Smith, who would suffer as much as anyone if Elam’s comments actually impacted the receiver’s Monday performance. “If they’re going to take it as, ‘That’s poster-board [material]; we’re going to take it even harder now,’ then they don’t have the right mentality coming to play a Monday night game anyway.”

Elam’s silly comments aside, the Ravens face arguably the biggest nightmare in the NFL today in trying to slow the seventh-year receiver, who last year set an NFL single-season record with 1,964 receiving yards. Johnson ranks second in the league with 1,351 receiving yards and second with 12 touchdown catches as he’s reined in 75 passes this season.

Fortunate to only have to face Johnson once every four years, the Ravens will need to contain the monstrous playmaker to earn only their second road win of the season and maintain their enviable position as the current No. 6 seed in the AFC. Meanwhile, the Lions find themselves in a dogfight with Chicago and Green Bay for the NFC North division title.

“‘Megatron.’ Anytime somebody has a nickname like that, the kid is real,” linebacker Terrell Suggs said. “He is probably arguably the best receiver in the game. It’s going to take all 11 guys, especially tending to him. The pass rush is going to be key; running the ball is going to be key. They do a lot of things with him, [and] he ends up in a lot of places. But it’s also fun [when] you get to play against a guy like that.”

Looking beyond his obvious physical gifts, scheming how to cover Johnson is problematic because he’ll line up in a variety of different ways in offensive coordinator Scott Linehan’s system. Double teams and bracketed coverage sound great — and necessary — in principle, but the Lions effectively move him around various formations to create favorable matchups for him against the defense.

With that in mind, many have suggested that defensive coordinator Dean Pees assign the 6-foot-2 Smith — who’s been the team’s best cornerback this season — to follow Johnson wherever he lines up. Such a strategy goes against the Ravens’ normal way of keeping Smith at right cornerback and Lardarius Webb on the left side in the base defense.

The third-year defensive back Smith has embraced being physical against top receivers such as Cincinnati’s A.J. Green and Chicago’s Brandon Marshall, often getting the best of those matchups this season. Finally living up to the hype of being a first-round pick in the 2011 draft, Smith said he’d embrace the opportunity to shadow Johnson wherever he lines up if that’s what the Ravens ask him to do.

“Absolutely,” Smith said. “Prime-time television in front of the nation? We don’t move around a lot because we’ve got a lot of confidence in our corners. Whatever the game plan we bring on Monday night, that’s how we’re going to bring it. If they ask us to move and do things, we’re always going to be willing to do that.”

The Ravens secondary has spoken this week of embracing the challenge of slowing down Johnson, but they’ll need to avoid giving up the big play that’s plagued them all season. Baltimore has surrendered 16 pass plays of 40 or more yards this season — most in the NFL — while lacking a true free safety in the secondary.

Johnson alone has 20 receptions of 20 or more yards this season as his speed coupled with his ability to break tackles often leads to explosive plays on even shorter passes from quarterback Matthew Stafford. Missed assignments and shaky tackling have plagued the back end of the defense at various points this season, including the final two minutes of their win over Minnesota in which the Ravens gave up a 41-yard touchdown run and a 79-yard touchdown pass.

“Sometimes a team makes a great play,” Smith said. “Sometimes, it’s us with a mental error, doing something that we don’t usually do throughout the first four quarters of our game. Something like that [happens], and some big plays pops.”

Even if Smith, Webb, and No. 3 cornerback Corey Graham are at the top of their game in trying to cover Johnson, the Ravens must try to revitalize a pass rush that’s largely been in hibernation over the last two games. Baltimore didn’t record a quarterback sack against Pittsburgh or Minnesota as the defense battled Ben Roethlisberger and snow-covered field conditions in successive weeks.

Getting pressure won’t be easy as the Detroit offensive line has allowed only 15 sacks all season and Stafford likes to get rid of the ball quickly, meaning the Ravens must get hands up in passing lanes and at least provide enough discomfort to force quicker-than-normal throws if they can’t get to the Lions signal-caller in the pocket. Turnovers have been a problem for an otherwise-explosive offense as Stafford will rush through his progressions and force throws that sometimes aren’t there — even to Johnson.

The Ravens know their task is a tall one as they face the league’s second-ranked offense with Johnson the biggest reason why. The defense’s goal will be to keep him in front of the secondary, settling for completions with the goal of preventing game-changing plays.

But that’s the intention of opposing defenses week after week, with few units finding success.

“We’ve got our work cut out for us,” linebacker Elvis Dumervil said. “These are the games that we have to put that work in and definitely put that work in for earlier in the year. It will be a great challenge.”

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The Five Plays That Determined The Game: Ravens/Vikings

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The Five Plays That Determined The Game: Ravens/Vikings

Posted on 10 December 2013 by Glenn Clark

Following every Baltimore Ravens game this season, Ryan Chell and I will take to the airwaves Tuesdays on “The Reality Check” on AM1570 WNST.net with a segment known as “The Five Plays That Determined The Game.”

It’s a simple concept. We’ll select five plays from each game that determined the outcome. These five plays will best represent why the Ravens won or lost each game.

This will be our final analysis of the previous game before switching gears towards the next game on the schedule.

Here are the five plays that determined the Ravens’ 29-26 win over the Minnesota Vikings Sunday at M&T Bank Stadium…

(Note: not all pictures are always of actual play)

Glenn Clark’s Plays…

5. Matt Elam recovers Toby Gerhart fumble forced by James Ihedigbo at Vikings’ 25 (1st quarter)

4. Jacoby Jones returns Blair Walsh kickoff for 77 yard TD (4th quarter)

Should have been even bigger. 

3. Dennis Pitta 1 yard TD catch from Joe Flacco on 4th & goal (4th quarter)

God it’s good to have him back. 

2. Marlon Brown 35 yard catch from Joe Flacco (4th quarter)

As Marlon told us Monday, this might have actually been the biggest play of the game.

1. Marlon Brown 9 yard TD catch from Joe Flacco (4th quarter)

I wanted to out-think it, but I simply couldn’t.

(Continued on Page 2…)

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Our Ravens/Browns “Slaps to the Head”

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Our Ravens/Browns “Slaps to the Head”

Posted on 03 November 2013 by Glenn Clark

After Baltimore Ravens victories, Ryan Chell and I award players who made positive contributions with “Pats on the Ass” during the Creative Deck Designs Postgame Show on AM1570 WNST.net.

The Ravens fell to the Cleveland Browns 24-18 Sunday at FirstEnergy Stadium, meaning there were no Pats to be awarded.

So instead of offering “Pats on the Ass”, Ryan and I offered “Slaps to the Head” postgame. A slap on the side of the head from a coach tends to come along with them saying something along the lines of “you’ve gotta do better than that.”

Same rules as there were with Pats. Two offensive players, two defensive players, and a Wild Card (Special Teams player, coach, or another Offensive or Defensive player). One player gets “two slaps” (or a slap on both sides of the head), it’s the opposite of a “Player of the Game” honor.” Ryan and I select five different players/coaches after each game.

Here are our five Ravens that have “gotta do better than that.”

Glenn Clark’s Slaps…

5. Corey Graham

4. Matt Elam

3. Michael Oher

2. Ray Rice

1. Juan Castillo (Two Slaps)

(Continued on Page 2…)

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Our Ravens/Packers “Slaps to the Head”

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Our Ravens/Packers “Slaps to the Head”

Posted on 13 October 2013 by Glenn Clark

After Baltimore Ravens victories, Ryan Chell and I award players who made positive contributions with “Pats on the Ass” during the Creative Deck Designs Postgame Show on AM1570 WNST.net.

The Ravens fell to the Green Bay Packers 19-17 Sunday at M&T Bank Stadium, meaning there were no Pats to be awarded.

So instead of offering “Pats on the Ass”, Ryan and I offered “Slaps to the Head” postgame. A slap on the side of the head from a coach tends to come along with them saying something along the lines of “you’ve gotta do better than that.”

Same rules as there were with Pats. Two offensive players, two defensive players, and a Wild Card (Special Teams player, coach, or another Offensive or Defensive player). One player gets “two slaps” (or a slap on both sides of the head), it’s the opposite of a “Player of the Game” honor.” Ryan and I select five different players/coaches after each game.

Here are our five Ravens that have “gotta do better than that.”

Glenn Clark’s Slaps…

5. James Ihedigbo

4. Lardarius Webb

3. Gino Gradkowski

2. Juan Castillo

1. Ray Rice (Two Slaps)

(Continued on Page 2…)

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Ravens-Panthers preseason primer: Five players to watch

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Ravens-Panthers preseason primer: Five players to watch

Posted on 21 August 2013 by Luke Jones

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

After witnessing disappointing performances in each of the Ravens’ first two preseason games, all eyes will be on the starting offense in the all-important third summer contest treated as the “dress rehearsal” for the season opener.

Most starters are expected to play the entire first half with some being pulled a little earlier and others receiving action in the third quarter against the Carolina Panthers in a nationally-televised contest on Thursday night. Much attention will be paid to the wide receiver position where the Ravens have been unable to find trustworthy options beyond third-year wideout Torrey Smith to this point in the summer.

The Ravens also hope to gain further clarity in the competition for the starting center position between Gino Gradkowski and A.Q. Shipley after each started a game with the first-team unit in the first two weeks.

“This is going to be important. It’s going to be important the way we play,”  said coach John Harbaugh, who labeled last week’s first-half performance as being as poor as any he had seen in his six years in Baltimore. “We want to win every game, and I really am proud of the way our guys have found ways to win. But we also want to play well, and that means every little thing we look at, whether it’s run blocking or run defense or the way we make checks and adjustments, the decisions we make at quarterback. We want to play good, solid football.”

Thursday marks the sixth time the Ravens and Carolina have met in a preseason contest with Baltimore holding a 4-1 advantage. However, the Panthers enjoy a 3-1 edge in regular-season meetings despite the Ravens winning the last meeting between these teams in 2010.

The Ravens will see three familiar faces on the Panthers roster as safety Haruki Nakamura, defensive tackle Dwan Edwards, and quarterback Derek Anderson all spent time in Baltimore to begin their respective careers.

Under Harbaugh, the Ravens are 15-7 in the preseason and have won 14 of their last 18 exhibition contests. Baltimore is 42-27 in all-time preseason play, winning eight of its last nine played at M&T Bank Stadium.

Unofficial (and largely speculative) injury report

The Ravens are not required to produce an injury report like they do for regular-season games, but I’ve offered my best guess on what the injury report would look like if one were to be released.

Most of the players ruled to be out will come as no surprise, but the status of a few will be in question. Cornerback Lardarius Webb and right guard Marshal Yanda have begun practicing on a full basis in recent days as Harbaugh described each as having a good chance to play in the third preseason game of the summer, but no decision had been made as of the final day of media availability this week.

Again, this is not an official injury report released by the Ravens:

OUT: TE Ed Dickson (hamstring), WR Deonte Thompson (foot), LB Jameel McClain (neck), OL Ryan Jensen (foot), DE Kapron Lewis-Moore (knee), TE Dennis Pitta (hip)
DOUBTFUL: LB Adrian Hamilton (wrist)
QUESTIONABLE: G Marshal Yanda (shoulder), CB Lardarius Webb (knee)
PROBABLE: OL Ramon Harewood (knee), LB Bryan Hall (hamstring), RB Bernard Pierce (knee), WR Marlon Brown (knee), RB Anthony Allen (undisclosed)

Five players to watch Thursday night

1. S Matt Elam

The first-round pick has chased veteran James Ihedigbo in the battle at strong safety all summer, but Elam appeared to close the gap last week, receiving some extensive time with the starting unit in addition to playing in sub packages. The hard-hitting safety finished with six tackles, including one for a loss, and has shown an impressive nose for the football throughout the summer.

Secondary coach Teryl Austin acknowledged Elam is still learning the finer intricacies of the Baltimore defense, but the Ravens aren’t at all unhappy with the 32nd overall pick of April’s draft. He may not start Week 1, but that’s probably a bigger credit to the play of Ihedigbo than an indictment on Elam’s development so far.

2. WR Aaron Mellette

The rookie from Elon has two touchdown catches on two targets in the preseason and is slowly climbing the depth chart to the point where he’s received extensive reps with the first-team offense over the last week of practices, which is both a compliment to him and a commentary on the alarming state of the wide receiver unit. At 6-foot-2 and 217 pounds, Mellette certainly has the size to play in the NFL and he’s shown more toughness in recent weeks to make catches in traffic in both practices and games.

He doesn’t fit the profile of a receiver who will line up in the slot, but Mellette is certainly putting himself in prime position to grab a spot on the 53-man roster. If he can be productive working with Joe Flacco and the starters on Thursday night, the Ravens might be looking at Mellette as a real contributor sooner rather than later.

3. C Gino Gradkowski

Gradkowski appeared to gain some separation last week after a disappointing outing from Shipley with the starting offensive line, but this battle is still a little too close to predict who will definitely be lining up with the first team against the Denver Broncos on Sept. 5. It appears that Gradkowski received more reps with the starters this week, which could be an indication of who the Ravens are leaning toward right now.

Neither player has risen significantly above the other, but Gradkowski has been steadier in the first two preseason games and was a fourth-round pick a year ago with the sole thought of becoming the heir apparent to the retiring Matt Birk. The biggest question is whether Gradkowski or Shipley is big enough to hold up against the beefier defensive tackles in the league, but the impressive guard combination of Yanda and Kelechi Osemele certainly quell concerns in that department.

4. FB Kyle Juszczyk

The Harvard product got off to a slow start during camp and virtually became a forgotten man after the return of Vonta Leach, but the Ravens have been using Juszczyk in more creative ways over the last week or two of practice, occasionally lining him up at tight end and even putting him in the slot. He’s shown consistent hands and could be viewed as a third tight end and H-back if offensive coordinator Jim Caldwell is willing to be creative with the fourth-round selection.

Juszczyk’s work on special teams might be his best opportunity to see playing time in his rookie season and the Ravens are using him in all phases of Jerry Rosburg’s units. He is also working as the lead blocker on the kickoff return team, which could spell trouble for Anthony Allen’s security on the 53-man roster if the Ravens prefer newcomer Delone Carter or Bobby Rainey for the No. 3 running back job.

5. TE Dallas Clark

The 34-year-old tight end has caught nearly everything thrown his way in practice and has looked much like the player who used to torment the Ravens as a member of the Indianapolis Colts years ago, but we’ve yet to see him in live-game action. Clark looks smaller than his listed 6-foot-3 height and 252-pound weight — but with apologies to Ed Dickson, who is more of a straight-line route runner — he might be the best option the Ravens have in trying to replicate Dennis Pitta’s role in the offense.

The Ravens plan to use Clark and veteran slot receiver Brandon Stokley extensively in Thursday’s preseason game to see if they can be the elixir for their woes in the passing game. If not, concerns will only grow with the regular-season opener just two weeks away.

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Ravens escape second preseason game without any serious injuries

Posted on 16 August 2013 by Luke Jones

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

After the Ravens’ 27-23 preseason win over the Atlanta Falcons, head coach John Harbaugh painted a positive picture from a health standpoint.

Outside linebacker Elvis Dumervil suffered a minor groin injury and rookie safety Matt Elam tweaked his ankle, but the head coach described both as “fine” after the game. Dumervil also downplayed any significance to his ailment in the Baltimore locker room.

“Nothing really injury-wise came out of this game,” Harbaugh said of the injury picture. “So that’s a positive.”

According to The Sun, reserve outside linebacker Adrian Hamilton injured his wrist and will have further tests on it Friday. Rookie defensive tackle Brandon Williams was also shaken up in the second half of Thursday’s game but returned to action soon thereafter.

Last week against Tampa Bay, the Ravens lost wide receiver Deonte Thompson (ankle), running back Bernard Pierce (knee), and defensive tackle Marcus Spears (hamstring) and only Pierce has returned to practice at this point.

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Ravens 2013 Draft Class Needed For Road To Repeat

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Ravens 2013 Draft Class Needed For Road To Repeat

Posted on 24 July 2013 by brianbower

The Baltimore Ravens kicked off their 2013 training camp on Tuesday as quarterbacks, rookies and injured veterans took the field at the Under Armour Performance Center in Owing Mills, Maryland.

The reigning Super Bowl champs took a hit this offseason with the loss of some key players including the retirement of future Hall of Famer Ray Lewis. For the Ravens to have a chance at repeating this upcoming season the team will need their rookie class to step up.

Here is a look at the 2013 Ravens draft class and what to keep an eye on throughout training camp with this group.

 

FS. Matt Elam, Florida

Elam was considered the top safety prospect entering 2012 however was not as solid as in 2011. Elam is an outstanding run defender and a in-the box defender. Frequently assigned to cover the slot receiver. There are times when he flashes tremendous disruption when the play is developing in front of him. Has catch-up speed to chase down when he wants to. Gets hand up to disrupt at the catch point even if head is not turned to locate the football.  Elam tries to make big hit far too often, lunges, leads with shoulder, or leaves his feet rather than just wrapping up.

ILB Arthur Brown, Kansas State

The 56th overall draft pick transferred from Miami to the Wildcats where he became a stay and a leader. His 2011 campaign was among the nations best. Brown exhibits strong legs, gets into the ball-carriers and drives them to the ground. Excels when playing against the run but does well in short pass coverage. The knock on Brown from some is that he needs to tone down his pursuit at times so he doesn’t overrun plays. Some will question his size, but Brown plays much bigger than his frame suggests due to strong hands and a physical attitude on contact.

DT. Brandon Williams, Missouri Southern

Williams was a  three-time All-Americans which are rare at any level of football. Williams was one to accomplish that feat. The massive kid presents a low center of gravity and strong upper body to push consistently push man-up blockers into the backfield. Gets hands on his man fast, extends his arm to get leverage and can hold his ground. Uses his hands to swim or rip past blockers into the backfield. Also wins gaps by attacking a shoulder or out-quicking his man with a first step. Moves down the line adeptly while engaged to flow with plays. Must prove himself against stronger linemen, also that he has the stamina to be more than a rotational player. Recovered well from offseason surgery for a sports hernia.

OLB John Simon, Ohio State

Simon a two-time team captain at Ohio State, presenting just about everything an NFL team wants in a prospect in terms of strength and leadership.  Strong, high-motor defender. Can break down to tackle ball carriers in the backfield. Combines agility with excellent upper-body strength to be a secure and explosive tackler. Simon will need to work on quickness of the snap. Simon will struggle to get off blocks from better tackles and will lose sight of the ball at times.

FB/TE  Kyle Juszczyk, Harvard

Juszczyk impressed many at the 2012 Senior Bowl with his play. Has big time skills at the H-back position and possesses experience at tight end as well. The Harvard product displays the ability to catch the ball and understands pass patterns. Could start season as the Ravens full back unless former full back Vonta Leach decides to return to the team.

G/T  Ricky Wagner, Wisconsin

After protecting the blindside for Russell Wilson in 2011, Wagner was forced to block for less athletic (and talented) passers in 2012. Wagner strong suit is in the run game. Gets off the snap well and uses his body and strong hands to move defensive ends off the ball and hold the line against bigger tackles. Quick enough feet to reach-block or carry a man down the line on zone runs. Flashes quickness off the snap as a pass protector.  Relies on hustle and strength rather than great recovery speed in pass protection. Has to flip his hips to pick up outside blitzers and is beaten on inside lane too easily by quicker ends. Could provide the Ravens with quality depth which they lack at the position.

DE  Kapron Lewis-Moore, Notre Dame

Lewis-Moore will be a project for the Ravens. Left January’s BCS Title Game after tearing the ACL in his right knee. Baltimore placed him on the non-football injury list. Plays the three and five-technique positions well, thick build. Possesses a nice combination of strength (he can push single blocks backwards and stand up to double teams) and looks like a 270-pound end with the short-area agility to play head-up or shading the left tackle. Not an elite pass rusher because of a lack of explosiveness off the snap and closing speed.

C   Ryan Jenson, Colorado State-Pueblo

Big and powerful kid was a tackle at small school level. His first goal will be to make the team and prove to them he is versatile enough to play multiple positions if needed. Played 46-consecutive games (including 44-consecutive starts) for the Thunderwolves in four seasons.

WR  Aaron Mellette, Elon

Perhaps the biggest question of the Ravens offseason was how they will cope with the loss of Anquan Boldin. Mellette could take over that spot however is unlikely with the likes of Doss, Reed and Tommy Streeter vying for the spot. Mellette has good height to be a solid possession receiver at the next level, has enough size to shield defenders on slants. Reliable hands, wins jump balls in traffic and snatches the ball away from his frame whether tracking it over his shoulder or facing the quarterback. Not afraid to go over the middle, and can turn and run if hit in the soft spot of a zone. Long speed will be a concern for Ravens, inconsistent strength as a ballcarrier, shows balance to keep his feet after contact at times but will fail to run through arm tackles.

 

As the Ravens will get into their first full team workout on Thursday the rookies should get their first taste of NFL training camp.

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McClain’s status still up in air at start of Ravens training camp

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McClain’s status still up in air at start of Ravens training camp

Posted on 23 July 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. — Throughout the offseason, the Ravens expressed optimism that inside linebacker Jameel McClain would be ready to play by the start of training camp after suffering a bruised spinal cord that ended his 2012 season prematurely.

A day after the sixth-year linebacker was placed on the physically unable to perform list to begin camp, coach John Harbaugh acknowledged McClain hasn’t progressed as far as doctors anticipated he would by this time, leaving his status in question for the foreseeable future. McClain injured his neck in a loss to the Washington Redskins on Dec. 9 and was placed on injured reserve later in the month.

McClain will turn 28 later this week and was in attendance for most organized team activities in the spring, but was limited to individual work on the side and didn’t take part in team drills.

“Jameel is a tougher one to predict because he’s got the back issue. It’s a spinal cord issue,” Harbaugh said Tuesday on the first day of camp open to media. “So, that just has to heal. Until that heals and we have proof that it’s healed, he’s not going to be out there.”

The top candidates in the inside linebacker mix include second-round selection Arthur Brown, who is fully recovered from sports hernia surgery, and former Jaguars linebacker Daryl Smith, who was signed to a one-year deal in early June. Defensive coordinator Dean Pees said this spring that McClain would be a starter when healthy but with his slower-than-expected recovery, the Ravens must now look more closely at other options should he not be ready for the start of the season.

McClain started 44 of the 45 games he played over the last three seasons, so the Ravens are still hoping to take advantage of his experience after the retirement of future Hall of Famer Ray Lewis and the free-agent departure of Dannell Ellerbe.

“Doctors had anticipated he would be out there at this time,” Harbaugh said. “It’s a little slower than we had hoped. When he’s ready, he’ll be out there. He’s going to continue to take some more tests. He’ll take some more tests [Wednesday], and we’ll have more for you on that on Thursday.”

In addition to McClain, Pro Bowl guard Marshal Yanda was placed on the active PUP list to begin camp as he continues to rehabilitate his surgically-repaired shoulder. Harbaugh said Yanda is “doing great” and will be involved during individual periods and walk-throughs until he’s ready to return to the practice field on a full-time basis.

According to the Baltimore coach, no other players will be placed on the active PUP list due to health concerns, which is good news for cornerback Lardarius Webb after he took part in Tuesday’s practice in a limited role. The fifth-year defensive back worked on a limited basis throughout OTAs after working his way back from last October’s ACL surgery.

“We will bring him along as we see fit, but you saw him out there today,” Harbaugh said. “He’s doing well.”

Defensive tackles Haloti Ngata (knee) and Terrence Cody (hip surgery), linebacker Albert McClellan, and offensive lineman Antoine McClain took part in Tuesday’s practice to varying levels of participation, meaning each will avoid the PUP list after dealing with health concerns in the offseason.

Veteran tight end Ed Dickson was also present and working on Tuesday after he suffered a minor groin strain at the end of mandatory minicamp in mid-June.

Harbaugh didn’t express great concern over wide receiver Jacoby Jones failing the team’s mandatory conditioning test on Monday, but he wasn’t offering any justification for the veteran, who is expected to have the inside track on the starting job opposite Torrey Smith in the first-team offense. Jones will retake the test on Wednesday when the rest of the veterans report to Owings Mills.

“I won’t make any excuses for him,” Harbaugh said. “He should pass it, but he’s battling. We’ll see — it’s up to him. It’s his job to do. That’s the facts. Facts are stubborn things.”

Jones was placed on the non-football injury list on Monday, which is a designation that can be used for any player who fails the conditioning test as well as for those who suffer an injury away from team headquarters.

Tuesday’s practice was reserved for quarterbacks, rookies, and select veterans coming off injuries.

Elam heavier in wallet, lighter on feet

Fresh off officially signing his rookie contract earlier in the week, first-round safety Matt Elam acknowledged he saved “a lot of money” by not hiring an agent to help complete the four-year, $6.767 million contract that includes a team option for a fifth year.

Elam relied on his older brother Abe Elam, who has also played in the NFL, as well as others who offered advice, ranging from those closest to him to attorneys to various NFL players currently in the league. The University of Florida product stands to save roughly $200,000 over the length of the contract by passing on formal representation.

Due to the NFL’s slotting system for rookie contracts, most of the drama has been eliminated from post-draft negotiations after years of holdouts and record-setting deals for top picks.

“I felt like I built the team that helped me learn a lot of things about a contract,” said Elam, who was complimented by Harbaugh for the way he handled negotiations. “I knew all the language and everything about the contract.”

Though Elam gained extra money in his wallet, he elected to drop some weight before the start of training camp to be lighter on his feet as he adjusts to the speed of the NFL.

The 32nd overall pick told reporters he lost eight pounds over the summer and is playing at roughly 200 pounds to begin training camp.

“I just go out there and keep on improving to be the best I can be,” said Elam, who is expected to start at strong safety as a rookie. “People have high expectations for me. They want me to do great things, but I’ve got to live up to my own expectations.”

Flacco candid on first day of camp

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Ravens positional stock report entering training camp

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Ravens positional stock report entering training camp

Posted on 19 July 2013 by Luke Jones

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With players beginning to report to Owings Mills by the end of the weekend and the first full-squad workout less than a week away, training camp signifies the official start of the Ravens’ marathon journey to defend their Super Bowl championship from a year ago.

Coach John Harbaugh will undoubtedly be eager to learn which players report in better shape — Courtney Upshaw, anyone? — and which ones with preexisting injury concerns — Lardarius Webb and Jameel McClain among others — are ready to return to the practice field.

With that in mind, the time for pondering the upcoming season is nearly over as I predict whose stock will rise and which players will fall during camp and the preseason. I’ve made two selections from each position group, with some units obviously being more intriguing than others to watch this summer.

On Friday’s edition of The D&L Window Tinting Morning Reaction, I provided a more extensive breakdown of the offensive units and defensive units and Drew Forrester offered his own choices. You can listen to those segments HERE and HERE.

QUARTERBACKS
Rising: Joe Flacco
Falling: Caleb Hanie
Tip: The Ravens will rely on their franchise quarterback more heavily than ever in terms of both play on the field and leadership off it as Flacco will be working with the least-experienced group of wideouts he’s seen over his six seasons. Meanwhile, Hanie is the latest contestant in fans’ annual game of “Who Will Unseat Tyrod Taylor as Backup Quarterback?” with which I haven’t been impressed.

RUNNING BACKS
Rising: Bernard Pierce
Falling: Ray Rice
Tip: These choices seem too obvious, but they are simply a product of the Ravens wanting to get Pierce more involved in the offense while keeping Rice fresh for the latter portion of the season. The veteran will remain the feature back and Pierce the change of pace, but I wouldn’t be surprised if Rice receives fewer carries than in past years while posting a career high in receptions this season.

WIDE RECEIVERS
Rising: Torrey Smith
Falling: Jacoby Jones
Tip: We’ve discussed the merits of such names as Tandon Doss and Deonte Thompson ad nauseam, but Smith becoming a receiver capable of making 70 or more receptions would be far more significant than predicting which other young receiver might make more than a token contribution on the field. Much has been made by Jones’ improved footwork from his time spent dancing this offseason, but I just don’t see him showing enough versatility to be an every-down receiver in the Baltimore offense.

TIGHT ENDS
Rising: Dennis Pitta
Falling: Billy Bajema
Tip: It will be fascinating to see how much offensive coordinator Jim Caldwell elects to use Pitta out of the slot and how that might impact his production as well as Ed Dickson as they approach unrestricted free agency next winter. Meanwhile, Bajema will have a tough time beating out Maryland product Matt Furstenburg and 2012 practice-squad member Alex Silvestro for the third tight end spot.

OFFENSIVE LINEMEN
Rising: Kelechi Osemele
Falling: Bryant McKinnie
Tip: Entering his second year and finally able to focus on the left guard position, Osemele has made the free-agent departure of Ben Grubbs a distant memory, hasn’t he? I don’t anticipate McKinnie having any real issues in terms of his work ethic or keeping his starting job, but many have glossed over the reality that he’ll turn 34 early in September and has never been a very strong run blocker, two realities that are likely to be exposed over a 16-game schedule.

DEFENSIVE LINEMEN
Rising: Chris Canty
Falling: Terrence Cody
Tip: One of the most overlooked aspects of the Ravens’ defensive struggles last season was the inability to find a suitable replacement for Cory Redding, which Canty will bring as an effective 5-technique player this season. Cody appears to be the easy choice in this unit after he was sidelined this spring while recovering from hip surgery and will be pushed by rookie nose tackle Brandon Williams in the defensive line rotation.

LINEBACKERS
Rising: Arthur Brown
Falling: Jameel McClain
Tip: With Brown expected to be 100 percent after undergoing sports hernia surgery this spring, he will have every chance to win one of the starting inside linebacker jobs. The Ravens and McClain have said all the right things in being optimistic that he’ll be cleared to play, but I remain skeptical until that day actually arrives and others such as veteran Daryl Smith and the emerging Josh Bynes will have the opportunity to close the gap in the meantime.

CORNERBACKS
Rising: Jimmy Smith
Falling: Chykie Brown
Tip: After two disappointing campaigns to begin his NFL career, Smith will finally start to show more consistency at the cornerback position and he’ll need it to unseat Corey Graham as a starter opposite Lardarius Webb. Brown will remain a strong special-teams player, but his opportunities in the nickel package will dwindle with Webb and Smith both healthy this year.

SAFETIES
Rising: Matt Elam
Falling: Christian Thompson
Tip: The first-round pick Elam may not be a Pro Bowl player, but his skills in pass coverage to go along with his physicality will be an upgrade over Bernard Pollard in the Baltimore secondary. It didn’t speak well for Thompson, a 2012 fourth-round pick, that the Ravens drafted a safety in the first round, re-signed James Ihedigbo, and signed veteran Michael Huff in the offseason and that’s not even taking into account his four-game suspension to start the season for violating the league’s substance-abuse policy.

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