Tag Archive | "michael oher"

No Rest for the Wizard

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No Rest for the Wizard

Posted on 19 February 2013 by Thyrl Nelson

Obviously when setting the tone for the Ravens’ off-season, everything takes a back seat to resolving the Joe Flacco contract situation. The importance thereof is only magnified by the realization that there are so many questions still to be answered, so many decisions still to be made; but until the Ravens know for sure what their quarterback’s financial future may hold, everything else is essentially on hold. That however doesn’t diminish the fact that there are important decisions outside the QB position to be made before the Ravens begin their title defense and prepare for the 2013 campaign.

Conceding that the importance of Flacco’s deal is paramount to everything else, here are the next 5 major points of consideration for the Ravens to deal with this off-season in order to have hopes of a 6th straight post-season trip.

 

#1 – Suring Up the Left Tackle Situation

 

If Flacco was the biggest difference maker for the Ravens in the playoffs, then further investigation is merited in determining what helped him turn his season, and his reputation, around. For my money, it began with the offensive line. After a season in the proverbial “dog house” Bryant McKinnie was finally given a chance to show and prove, and from there the offense never seemed to look back.

 

In the lead up to the Broncos game, no one seemed to have any concerns about the Denver secondary. Hindsight might suggest that to have been a result of the constant quarterback pressure the Broncos were able to count on from Von Miller and Elvis Dumervil. Without that pressure however, the Ravens found and readily exploited cracks in the Broncos secondary that no one seemed to know were there in the first place.

 

McKinnie and the Ravens began this season on unceremonious terms, and pretty much kept things that way until the end. Having proven his value, albeit over a 4-game stretch, there’s still no real assurance that the Ravens will or should trust McKinneie enough to agree to terms on a multi-year deal. On the other side of that coin, there’s no good reason to think McKinnie will feel any special brand of loyalty to the Ravens when others come calling on the open market.

 

What’s undeniable about the whole episode is that by replacing Michael Oher with McKinnie at LT, the Ravens were able to move Oher to his natural RT position where he represented an improvement over Kelechi Osemele. Osemele then moved to the LG position that the Ravens struggled to find an answer for all season too. This three-fold improvement made the Ravens line exponentially better; and no matter how they address LT going forward, any “solution” involving moving Oher and Osemele back to the positions they played for the majority of 2012 has to be considered multiple steps backward.

 

#2 – Replacing Jim Caldwell

 

Continuing with the theme of what was different for the Ravens offense at the end, the departure of Cam Cameron and the elevation of Jim Caldwell to the offensive coordinator position would seem to be the other major factor. The performance of Caldwell’s offense has been celebrated widely within the fan base, and certainly hasn’t been lost on the league at large either.

 

In an off-season where everyone seems dissatisfied with the impact of the Rooney Rule and the lack of minority hires made in filling head coaching vacancies, Caldwell will all but surely be a hot head coaching candidate at the end of next season. Even getting to the Super Bowl again, and therefore delaying the process for teams interested in Caldwell might not be enough to slow his roll.

 

In what looks to be a lame duck season for Caldwell with the Ravens, it’s important to figure out if the next guy in line is someone already on staff, or how the team can look to groom a next guy in line, potentially by hiring him as a quarterback coach / OC in waiting.

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Oher says Super Bowl experience “unbelievable” after life of trials

Posted on 30 January 2013 by WNST Staff

RIGHT TACKLE MICHAEL OHER

 

(on the family that took him in when he was young) “I’ve got them coming to the game. They’re still my family.”

 

(on his life being made into the film The Blindside) “I’m tired of the movie. I’m here to play football.”

 

(on if he’d rather people concentrate on him as a player) “Football is what got me here and the movie, it wasn’t me. I always knew how to play football growing up. It was different personalities, stuff like that. Playing football is what got me to this point.”

 

(on if it’s been an interesting week with all of the media) “Obviously there’s a ton of media. It’s good exposure.”

 

(on his childhood) “It was a little different, but I’ve been through a lot in my life, some rough times. Being here in New Orleans for the Super Bowl is truly unbelievable.”

 

(on advice of kids that hope to one day play in the Super Bowl) “Get your grades, academics first. Work hard enough and everything else will take care of itself.”

 

(on if 10 years ago he thought he’d be playing on one of the biggest stages in sports) “Not at all. I knew that I was working for something and worked hard and am getting to play in the Super Bowl.”

 

(on what he has to say to kids about hard work) “Hard work does pay off.  If you’re not working hard, you’re not going to get too far. That’s in everything that you do.”

 

(on if Hugh Freeze having success at Ole Miss surprises him) “It does not surprise me at all. I always understood the kind of coach he was.  He’s a hard worker. He knows the game inside and out and I expect him to do big things.”

 

(on Ole Miss and their success) “Ole Miss is unbelievable.  The football program, the basketball program, 16th in the nation.  Ole miss is going to be a lot of trouble for a lot of people in the next few years, I think.

 

(on the portrayal of him in the movie The Blindside as not being smart) “I only watched the movie one time. If they did that, it was definitely wrong.”

 

(on Coach Hugh Freeze believing in him) “I’ll always believe in Coach Freeze, he believed in me.”

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Birk admires Oher’s versatility

Posted on 29 January 2013 by WNST Staff

 

CENTER MATT BIRK

 

(on if he thought it would take 15 years) “I didn’t think I was going to be here 15 years later in 1998.”

 

(on he and Randy Moss starting together that year at opposite ends of the publicity spectrum) “I was fortunate enough to play with Randy for seven years and the way he took the league by storm was unbelievable.  To be a part of that and to be his teammate for seven years, we had a lot of fun in the locker room and obviously won a lot of games in large part to him.  I haven’t kept in touch with him or anything like that, but obviously I’m happy for him and that he’s still playing.  I think Randy’s been through a lot, gone through a lot of different things, but I understand having been his teammate for seven years what a competitor he is and how hard he works.”

 

(on the time and effort he’s put in and what it means to get here with the guys in his locker room) “Just being here with these guys, this is a special group.  That was obvious when I got to Baltimore.  Being here for four years, it’s just a tight-knit group and we really are a team and that come from Coach Harbaugh.  If you’re not about the team you’re not going to play for the Ravens.  Obviously we have great players, Hall of Fame players, guys that their impact isn’t measured only on the field, but off the field as well.  It’s just a blessing to able to play with those guys.”

 

(on any misconceptions about Randy Moss in a general sense) “I would just say he was a great teammate, extremely hardworking.  I mean the things he did on the football field were fantastic.  Those are the guys you want to play with, those types of competitors.

 

(on if this is a dream matchup) “These are two very physical teams, alike in a lot of ways and the physical aspect of football. That element is never going to change and big games you have to be physical.  The two teams here are physical.  It’s our 20th game of the season, we’re not going to change what we do and they’re not going to change what they do.  It’s going to be pretty straight forward.  I think the way the game evolves and changes and so much in passing and spreading out the field and doing things.  I like the fact that just as a fan it comes down to these two teams and this style of play to decide the world champion.”

 

(on Joe Flacco’s development) “He’s just continued to get better.  It’s been five years evolving and every year he’s gotten better and other guys have developed along with him that are young players.  Ray Rice, Torrey Smith, Dennis Bennett, guys like that.  Joe’s gotten better, but I think a lot of guys around him have gotten better as well.  It’s kind of a two way street.”

 

(on Joe Flacco being a leader in the locker room) “I think just Joe being Joe.  He is who he is and he’s very comfortable with that.  The person he is and his personality.  He doesn’t try to be somebody he’s not.  The quarterback position is a leadership position and hopefully you have to play well and Joe’s done it time and time again.  He’s proven that he’s an excellent quarterback on big stages and he plays well and you do the best you can to respect your teammates.

 

(on the special feeling you need to have in the playoffs to win and coming back sense the middle of the season) “I think we have great leadership on this team.  I think Coach Harbaugh is a great coach and a great leader.  I think the guys in this room, their performance and their careers speak for themselves, but they’re not guys that a just in it for themselves.  They’re team guys, they lead and the rest follow.  Everybody’s going to have bumps in the road.  You’re going to have downs in the middle of the season and we understand that and you try your best to avoid them, but it’s going to happen.  I think when we had ours nobody panicked because players still believed in players and in coaches and coaches believed in players and we still believed in the way we were doing things.  We know that you get rough patches during the season it’s a long season, but we just have to do things the way we’ve been doing.  Our philosophy is just come to work ready to work and try to work as hard as you can and to get as good as you can and that’s basically all we do.”
(on the length of time he’s been in the league and what it feels like being here) “I feel very fortunate to be playing this game and to be doing it with this group of guys.  It’s a special group of guys all the way around and nobody’s entitled and nobody deserves to play in the Super Bowl, but everything really came together for us.”

 

(on President Obama saying that if he had a son he would have to think long and hard before letting him play football because of the physical toll it takes) “I have three sons and I think anyone who is a parent can relate to that.  Certainly it is a dangerous game and we’re finding out more and more, every day, the long term effects that this game can have.  I think it’s a joint effort with the commissioner, with coaches, with players, with everybody, everybody that wants to watch and make this game as safe as it can be.  I think we’re making strides in that.  Football’s a great game.  Obviously it’s a great game for NFL players, it’s how we make a living, but most kids who play football aren’t going to make it to the NFL.  It’s such a great game because it teaches you about life and lessons and there’s so much to be gained by participating in football.  It’s served us all well and just to continue to have this conversation and continue to talk about it and just do whatever we can to make it safer  whether it be through rule change or research.”

 

(on how important Coach Jim Caldwell has been to this team) “Obviously he’s done a great job.  It’s probably less than an ideal situation.  I think his track record speaks for itself and what he’s accomplished in this league.  I think he helped Joe (Flacco) progress, get a different coach, different voice and a different viewpoint and this offense as a whole, he’s obviously brought a lot of ideas and when he became coordinator he was able to put his stamp on it, his personality a little bit more.  Fortunately he’s been successful.”

 

(on the dynamic of the changes in the offensive line) “We always talk about chemistry on the offensive line, five guys because you work together so much and ideally you’d love to have five guys in there at the same position all season.  That’s not the way it worked out for us, but you get back to the team philosophy that we have and everybody buying in and what was best for the team.  Guys like Michael (Oher) and Michael’s been back and forth many times throughout his career and he just does it.  He doesn’t complain. He just does it because he knows that’s what’s best for the team.  Brian (Williams) did a great job of just staying ready all season to jump in and Kelechi (Osemele) as a rookie you lean so much and you’re learning curve is so steep and he’s playing left tackle for 16 games and then all of a sudden get switched to guard.  Those guys, they just want to win.  They’re about the team and whatever it took when we had to make those changes because of injury and everybody just went all in and did the best they could.”

 

(on Bryant McKinnie and Aldon Smith matching up) “It’ll be a great matchup. Bryant’s been a great player in this league for a long time.  Left tackle  position, you’ve got to be able to block guys one-on-one in the pass and obviously with Smith, the year that he’s had and to do what he’s be able to do is phenomenal.  That’ll be two great players going at it.”

 

(on Alex Smith going out with a concussion and if that hurts the advancement of the safety issue) “I don’t know that situation particularly, but I think the culture has changed for the better in the last few years as far as concussions are concerned.  I think the attitude is that it’s not smart to play with a concussion.  You’re not doing your team any favors by trying to play through a concussion because you can.”

 

(on if he had the information now based on the research they’re showing, would that have affected his decision as far as playing) “I don’t know.  It’s hard to say.  I have three sons and once they get to a certain age and want to play football, I’ll let them.”

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Most Important Individual Matchups in Super Bowl XLVII

Posted on 28 January 2013 by jeffreygilley

Super Bowl 47 is filled with many fantastic individual matchups. In this article, I will list what I consider to be the most important matchups as well as who has the edge in that matchup.

Ed Reed VS Colin Kaepernick

Ed Reed’s legacy is on the line in this game. Even without a Super Bowl ring, you could make an argument that Reed is the best safety to ever play the game. So, with a ring, would that even become an argument? That will be discussed no matter the outcome of the Super Bowl.

Kaepernick is not a one trick pony. He can make any throw and loves to throw the ball deep to Vernon Davis. Therefore, Ed Reed should have plenty of opportunities to make plays against a young quarterback.

Ed Reed has two weeks to prepare for this offense. Therefore, I give the advantage to Reed.

Edge: Ed Reed

Ray Lewis VS Frank Gore

Ray Lewis did not play against the 49ers last season. Because of his absence, the 49ers have not played against a linebacker with Ray’s instincts and intensity. While Ray has lost a step, Gore is not the type of player that can consistently break long runs. Therefore, Ray will be able to keep up with Gore.

These two players are simply too good to give the advantage to one player or another. Frank Gore has played against the Ravens twice, once in 2007 and the other in 2011. In those games, Gore has averaged only 45.5 yards rushing. But in those games, Gore’s offensive line was not as talented as it is this season.

Edge: Even

Justin Smith VS Kelechi Osemele

From watching the 49ers postseason games with an injured Justin Smith, it’s no secret that they have struggled to apply pressure. Aldon Smith has struggled mightily since Justin Smith’s injury but when the two are healthy, the two are a terrifying combination.

Justin Smith will be moved around but for the most part, will be matched up with Kelechi Osemele. Osemele played well at tackle but at this point in his career, is better at guard. Osemele is one of the bigger guards in the league and that should help him against Smith.

Osemele will also have to watch out for Aldon Smith, who runs a lot of stunts to the interior of the offensive line.

Despite Osemele’s talent, Smith is a veteran and giving him the edge is a no-brainer.

Edge: Justin Smith.

Bryant McKinnie and Michael Oher VS Aldon Smith

On August 25, the 49ers traveled to New Orleans to play the Saints. In that game, Aldon Smith recorded 1.5 sacks, which gave him 30.5 sacks for his career. This, in turn made him the fastest player to reach 30 sacks. Who did he pass on his way to that record you ask? Reggie White.

Obviously, Smith is doing something right. The supremely athletic linebacker/defensive end seems to play better on big stages and none is bigger than the Super Bowl. Oher should be able to hold his own but the much older McKinnie will have his hands full. On passing downs, expect to see Ray Rice or Vonta Leach in pass protection to help slow down Smith. Running some screens where Rice blocks and then releases on a pass route will also help slow down Smith.

Edge when against McKinnie: Aldon Smith
Edge when against Oher: even

Vonta Leach VS Patrick Willis and Navorro Bowman

Of all the matchups in the Super Bowl, this might be the best. In 2011, Leach and Willis exchanged blows and Leach embarrassed Willis on one particular play.

Willis is widely considered the best linebacker in the NFL and Bowman is not far behind him. Expect this to be a back and forth battle for the entire game.

Edge: Even

Conclusion
There are many matchups that are evenly matched. Therefore, this game will come down to lesser-known players making big plays. For the 49ers, the two most likely players to play that role are LaMichael James and Delanie Walker. For the Ravens, Jimmy Smith and Tandon Doss are the most likely candidates.

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Against all Odds, the Ravens have made the AFC Championship

Posted on 14 January 2013 by jeffreygilley

The Ravens have had a very unique year. Perhaps no other team could do what the Ravens have done and Saturday night was a microcosm of their season.

How many teams could respond to the special teams mistakes the Ravens made? Those returns should have been momentum builders for the Broncos and momentum killers for the Ravens. Yet, the team, and more importantly, Joe Flacco responded in a game that many will remember for a very long time.

In addition to overcoming big plays, they have dealt with heartache in the passing of Art Modell and Torrey Smith’s brother, and a three game losing streak that had many writing them off.

Injuries on both sides of the ball but particularly on defense have been a theme of the season. Before the season even started, the team lost Terrell Suggs, the reigning defensive player of the year.

But things only got worse for the defense. At one point, Dean Pees had to use fifth and sixth string players at the cornerback and inside linebacker positions.

Injuries were so bad that Carry Williams and Ed Reed were the only two starters on defense that did not miss any time due to injury.

But the defense survived and got better as the season progressed.

Despite all of this, the Ravens get their chance at redemption this Sunday. While the Ravens beat the Patriots in week three, a playoff rematch is what the Ravens have really wanted. This will be a fantastic game and would be fitting if it came down to a field goal once again.

In last year’s game, Joe Flacco outplayed arguably the greatest quarterback in the history of the NFL. That is not debatable. But Flacco was aided by a Patriots defense that was among the worst in NFL history, especially against the pass. This year, the Patriots defense is much better, particularly at the cornerback position with the addition of Aqib Talib.

Even though the Patriots defense has improved, Flacco will have a lot of confidence from his performance against the Broncos. While the Patriots will have a better game plan to defend the deep ball, Flacco will have success with shorter to intermediate passes to Anquan Bodin and Dennis Pitta.

Flacco should also be aided by tremendous pass protection. The team has finally assembled their best offensive line and it has payed off. McKinnie and Oher neutralized the most dangerous pass rushing duo in the NFL and the interior of the line is better with Osemele at left guard.

As always, the running game needs to be a big factor for the Ravens to win this game. Ray Rice must be aggressive, unlike his performance against the Broncos. Rice had a great game but was not hitting the holes with the explosiveness in which he usually does.

I am not going to predict this game just yet. But expect a fantastic game that will come down to a photo-finish.

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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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Dont Underestimate the Ravens

Posted on 07 January 2013 by jeffreygilley

I’m not sure if you have noticed, but not many people are giving the Ravens a chance this Saturday. Many have told me they are going to get crushed by the Broncos. But that, to me, is hard to believe.

Yes, I recognize the Broncos beat the Ravens pretty badly in week fifteen but the game was close until halftime. In case you missed it, Joe Flacco threw a ninety-plus yard pick-six that turned the tide of the game. If that did not happen, and the Ravens scored a touchdown, the Ravens might not have won the game, but it would have been much closer.

Through five seasons, I have never seen Flacco play as badly as he did against the Broncos. Despite that performance, Flacco did come back and play one of the best games of his career against the Giants.

If the Ravens want to win this game, Flacco is going to have to have a big game pertaining to short and intermediate throws. You can’t beat Peyton Manning by trying to score more points than him. That strategy rarely works and the Ravens have the personel to beat Manning.

The classic strategy to beat a legendary quarterback is to keep him off the field with long drives. That means Ray Rice (who will be motivated after the two funbles), Bernard Pierce, Dennis Pitta, and Ed Dickson are going to have big time games. Rice is a superstar, we know that and Pierce has developed into a very good backup (Pierce could be starting on several NFL teams). Pitta and Dickson are crucial because they mostly contribute to the short and intermediate throws.

In week fifteen, Pitta had a big game. Catching seven passes for 125 yards and two touchdowns.

The offensive line should help Flacco in this game. They did give up three sacks in week fifteen but the Ravens have made changes to the offensive line that many have been calling for. With Bryant McKinnie moving to left tackle, Oher to right tackle, and Osemele to left guard, the offensive line looked good against the Colts.

With the amount of time the Ravens defense was on the field against the Colts, many are saying that is a disadvantage going into this week’s game against Denver’s no huddle offense. Being the optimist that I am, I think this has a positive effect for the Ravens as well. With all the injuries this defense has suffered, younger players have been forced to step in and play larger roles. Players like Chyke Brown, Albert McClellan, Courtney UpShaw, Corey Graham, and others all gained valuable experience against the Colts that will be helpful come kickoff on Saturday.

While I am not picking the Ravens to win this game, it will be much closer than many are predicting. This game could come down to a field goal and if it does, the advantage would have to go to Matt Prater.

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Most Important Players in the Ravens Playoff Run

Posted on 02 January 2013 by jeffreygilley

If the Ravens want to win the Super Bowl, these six players will have to step up big time.

Joe Flacco
Did you expect anyone else to be at the top of this list? Flacco wants a long term deal and thinks he is an elite quarterback. He has all the potential in the world but has not put it together yet. After all the injuries on defense this team has suffered, the passing of Art Model, and the knowledge of Ray Lewis’s retirement, Joe Flacco has a tremendous opportunity infront of him to become a leader on this team and earn a big contract.

Ray Lewis
Call me crazy, but the triceps injury Lewis suffered against the Cowboys might be a blessing in disguise. Lewis has lost a step but he is still playing well. His decline was more evident as the season went on so a break might be a good thing. He will have fresh legs and will be extremely motivated.

Ed Reed
Reed, like Lewis has lost a step but Reed has a way of making big time plays in big time games. He has had a lot of success against Tom Brady and Peyton Manning who he might face later in the playoffs. I have a feeling that Reed is going to intercept Luck multiple times this Sunday.

Ray Rice
Ray Rice will be running very hard for Ray Lewis. The two are very close and Rice will be motivated to play well for Ray. Rice is one of the best all purpose backs in the NFL and at times, can be unstoppable.

Michael Oher/Kelechi Osemele
They will face a tough test against Robert Mathis and Dwight Freeney but Oher and Osemele have performed at a high level at times throughout the season. Expect to see a game plan much like the game against the Giants; a lot of quick passes to set up longer passes to Torrey Smith.

Jimmy Smith
The Raves have suffered a myriad of injuries in the defensive side of the ball. Smith, a former first round pick has the potential to become a shut down cornerback but injuries have hampered his development. When Smith was healthy at the end of last season, he played very well, especially against Andre Johnson in the playoffs. He has played on special teams for the last few games and has seen limited playing time not because of his performance but because the Ravens might be trying to get him back slowly. Smith’s addition to this list may be surprising but if he plays, he must play at a high level.

Honorable mention: Tandon Doss
What? Tandon Doss? Doss could be a player that breaks out in some way to give this team that extra piece. Over the past few weeks, Doss has seen more playing time and while he has not made much of an impact on offense, the Ravens love his potential. Doss has great hands and his strength has the ability to be a great slot receiver. Watch out for Doss, his addition to this list is pretty bold but Doss can make an impact.

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Our Ravens/Bengals “Slaps to the Head”

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Our Ravens/Bengals “Slaps to the Head”

Posted on 30 December 2012 by Glenn Clark

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

The Ravens fell to the Cincinnati Bengals 23-17 Sunday at Paul Brown Stadium, meaning there were no Pats to be awarded.

So instead of offering “Pats on the Ass”, Ryan and I again 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. Tyrod Taylor

4. Chykie Brown

3. Terrence Cody

2. Bryant McKinnie

1. John Harbaugh (Two Slaps)

(Ryan’s Slaps on Page 2…)

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McKinnie prepared for “possibility” of increased role

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McKinnie prepared for “possibility” of increased role

Posted on 19 December 2012 by Luke Jones

OWINGS MILLS, Md. — The running question that’s been asked throughout the season is still being posed as the Ravens prepare for their Week 16 matchup with the New York Giants.

When will Bryant McKinnie finally crack the lineup for a struggling offensive line? The veteran left tackle says he is preparing as though he might receive the call this week as the Ravens need a win to clinch their second straight AFC North title.

If the Ravens were to make a change — and there’s no indication they’re leaning in that direction — McKinnie would start at left tackle with Michael Oher presumably switching to the right side. This would leave rookie Kelechi Osemele to move inside to the left guard position.

For now, McKinnie says he will continue to prepare mentally while hoping to show enough during practice time to convince the coaching staff he is deserving of playing in games. McKinnie told WNST.net during the Ravens’ Week 8 bye that he expected to be named a starter at some point during the second half of the season but understandably took a softer stance when asked about the possibility of playing more against the Giants this Sunday.

“It’s a possibility,” said McKinnie, who hadn’t heard any indication from the coaching staff of a new rotation prior to Wednesday’s practice. “We’ve just got to wait and see.”

The Ravens have struggled to protect Joe Flacco all season as opponents have racked up 34 sacks against the Baltimore quarterback. In Sunday’s 34-17 loss to Denver, Flacco was sacked three times and the Broncos registered nine quarterback hits.

McKinnie has expressed confidence in his ability throughout the season, so it was no surprise to hear his response when asked what’s gone through his mind when seeing Flacco take beatings against opposing defenses with talented pass rushers.

“If I was out there, maybe some things would be a little bit different,” McKinnie said. “But there’s not too much I can do.”

The 33-year-old tackle didn’t miss an offensive snap while starting all 16 games of the 2011 regular season and both playoff contests, but his conditioning and weight came into question during the offseason and his late arrival in training camp appeared to be the last straw for coach John Harbaugh and the rest of the staff.

After the Ravens nearly released McKinnie and cut his salary by $1 million less than a week before the start of the season, Oher has started all 14 games this season at left tackle while the rookie Osemele has manned the right tackle spot all year.

“When we think [McKinnie] is the best option, we will put him in there,” said coach John Harbaugh last week when asked about the veteran’s status. “He is working hard at practice. He, obviously, has some ability [as a] pass-protector; that’s a big deal, no doubt about it. I would have no qualms about him going into the game. If we feel like he’s the best option at one position or another, we’ll do it. Right now, we think we have the best group of guys out there, but that could change.”

Though probably the best pass-blocking left tackle on the roster, McKinnie is a poor run blocker and the Ravens are not convinced he gives them the best chance to win after a tumultuous offseason that included continuing financial concerns. McKinnie was also graded as the Ravens’ lowest-rated starting offensive lineman during the 2011 season, according to Pro Football Focus.

However, the Ravens are in the midst of a three-game losing streak and have already purged their offensive coordinator from the organization, so nothing can be dismissed at this point.

Why would the Ravens finally make the change now?

“Because we’re at the end and you never know what can happen,” said McKinnie as he laughed softly.

The Ravens’ decision to part ways with Cam Cameron last week smelled of desperation, but it’s still difficult to envision McKinnie earning his starting job back now if he didn’t over the first 15 weeks of the regular season.

Listen to McKinnie’s conversation with AM 1570 WNST.net on Tuesday right here.

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