Tag Archive | "Mobtown Sports Beat"

Ravens LB Jarret Johnson on Defensive Player of the Week award: “I wasn’t expecting it”

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,

Ravens LB Jarret Johnson on Defensive Player of the Week award: “I wasn’t expecting it”

Posted on 06 October 2011 by Ryan Chell

Linebacker Jarret Johnson left for his home in Florida content in his team’s performance in the 34-17 beatdown of the New York Jets Sunday night, but he found quite the surprise on his doorstep when he landed in the Sunshine State.

Johnson was named AFC Defensive Player of the Week for Week 4, and it came as quite the surprise to the Raven linebacker who recorded just three tackles against the Jets but returned a Mark Sanchez fumble caused by Haloti Ngata for a touchdown.

Jarret Johnson

The 26-yard fumble recovery made it 27-7 Ravens in a crazy second quarter, and he was also praised for his performance rushing the passer and dropping back in coverage.

“I wasn’t expecting it,” Johnson told Thyrl Nelson on “The Mobtown Sports Beat” Thursday. “You don’t know anything about it until they tell you, then you get it.”

Johnson was honored by the achievement, and it felt even better for Johnson because he felt like there were others-especially some of his fellow teammates-were more deserving than he was.

“This is my first one but I did think it was pretty cool even though I think there have been better defensive performances before…I will definitely take it.”

Johnson told Nelson that he felt like beating his former boss in Rex Ryan was going to be the highlight of the week.

“It’s always good to see those guys,” Johnson said. “They’re fun to compete against, and it’s always an emotional game.”

When asked who he felt was the most emotional Sunday night in the locker room following the beatdown, Johnson said the answer was easy.

Without a doubt-it was coach John Harbaugh, who despite three full seasons in Baltimore has brought the team three playoff appearances-can’t seem to make fans forget Rex Ryan.

Hopefully with the defense beating up Ryan-that helps Harbaugh get the monkey off his back.

“Anytime there is an emotional side to it, the stacks are a lot higher and the guys are a little more pumped up,” Johnson said. “Games like that get guys pretty pumped up.”

What also gets Johnson pumped up and full of confidence are the comparisons already to the great Ravens defenses of this decade-the 2000 and 2006 defenses.

Johnson said that given the preparation defensive coordinator Chuck Pagano and the tremendous start he has the defense out to, people were going to draw that line.

“It comes with success,” Johnson said. “Any time you play good defense that’s who you’re going to be compared to because they set the bar and that’s the standard.”

He told fans to wait for the entire season and the body of work to be completed, but he’ll never turn down a compliment.

“Anytime you’re mentioned with those guys, it’s a pat on the back for you.”

And that’s what he plans on doing this bye week-lying on his back.

“The main thing is I’m rehabbing,” Johnson said. “I’m just trying to take advantage of the time to get good lifts in and do all the rehab things so that when we come back, we will be able to roll.”

WNST congratulates Jarret Johnson on his achievement and hopes to continue to have these awards stay in Baltimore! WNST-We Never Stop Talking Baltimore Sports!

Comments Off

Ravens LBs Johnson, Gooden see final preseason game as test for Steelers

Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

Ravens LBs Johnson, Gooden see final preseason game as test for Steelers

Posted on 01 September 2011 by Ryan Chell

Tonight’s final preseason test for the Baltimore Ravens against the Atlanta Falcons may be more of a challenge for those on the outside looking in when it comes to the 53-man roster, but several members of the Ravens linebacking corps are looking at tonight for different motivations.

In most instances, starters-both on offense and defense-play little to not at all in the fourth and final preseason game-so guys like Jarret Johnson-who joined Glenn Clark on “The Reality Check”-are circling September 11th versus Pittsburgh on their calender.

Jarret Johnson

“We haven’t played in the last preseason game the last three years, so I assume it will be the same this week,” Johnson said. “We’ll get a good four days leading up to the game, and start gearing up for the Steelers.”

But at the same time, Johnson said he knows how much a game like this means to the younger players  and for the entire team when it comes to confidence and their competitive edge.

“Any time you know you’re on the field when you’re a professional, you’re a competitive guy,” Johnson said.  “The atmosphere doesn’t matter…and when you get on the field, you’re going to want to compete and you’re going to want to win. Even when you lose preseason games-even if you play well-and it may still be a preseason game, it still hurts. You still don’t want to lose.”

Fellow linebacker Tavares Gooden-who may be playing for a roster spot after struggling early in preseason (he played in significant time in the 34-31 victory against the Redskins and didn’t record a tackle)-joined Thyrl Nelson as well to talk about his reasoning for tonight’s contest.

In a sense, his fellow teammates may be his friends and comrades in action, but he still needs to perform well in his own right if he wants to remain a Baltimore Raven.

“You can only be told what you’ve been told,” Gooden said.  “If there’s guys that you’re competing against that arent’ taking their job seriously, that’s always a plus for you as a player who has been taking it seriously. The strength level, the dominance level, it’s going to be on different services and I think I took advantage of my training this off-season and get ready for this season so that I could have a dominant season.”

But he knows that pressure to keep a roster spot and have every member of the team playing at the highest level possible is the best thing for a team wanting to reach the ultimate goal of a Super Bowl.

“We all love to compete,” Gooden told Nelson, “so we’re going to try our hardest to lead this team and to help out in any role we have to try and get the ultimate goal, and that’s to bring another championship back to Baltimore.”

Johnson said that after Saturday when the roster is trimmed down to 53 guys, he and the other Raven veterans will know what their team will look like both on the football field and in the locker room morale-wise.

“As far as starters with me and Ray, and then with some of the younger guys coming on, there was no new additions. We do have some young competition right now. We have a real stacked group, and our room is full of great players. There is a lot of competition right now, but as far as being used to each other and stuff like that, it’s business as usual.”

To sum it all up, tonight is a good use of time for the starters to rest themselves for the long run that is the regular season with the ultimate goal of getting first and second Super Bowls for a Ravens team not getting any younger.

“There’s always pressure on you to win, and to produce-especially with the talent that we have,” Johnson said. ” The expectations are always high. With everyone having some years under them now, and you know teams can’t stay together forever, you do want to get a Super Bowl together.”

“You want Ray to get that second championship and all those great defensive players that came through here, we all want to get our first. We want to do it as a group.”

Be sure to jump into the Purple Haze chat tonight at WNST.net as we talk Raven football! WNST-We Never Stop Talking Baltimore Sports!

Comments Off

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Ravens Right to Honor Mackey Friday, But Fans Also Right To Want More

Posted on 17 August 2011 by Glenn Clark

Tuesday afternoon on Sports Talk 1570 WNST I asked a question that had an answer I felt was fairly simple.

“Do the Baltimore Ravens owe it to the community to honor late Hall of Fame Baltimore Colts TE John Mackey in a public way this season?”

When I asked the question, I had the benefit of knowledge on my side. As I reported Tuesday, the Ravens will recognize Mackey’s passing with an in-game tribute Friday during their preseason home opener against the Kansas City Chiefs. The tribute will not include a moment of silence, as the team determined it would be inappropriate.

The team will not publicly salute former Colts DE Bubba Smith, who also passed away this summer. That determination was made because Bubba did not achieve Hall of Fame status as a player and “did not stay connected to Baltimore”, according to a team source.

My question was brought on by something written by former Colts DL Joe Ehrmann, who I talked to on Tuesday’s show. In a press release issued last week by the Baltimore Colts Alumni group before he officiated Mackey’s public memorial service Saturday, Ehrmann suggest the entire National Football League should take time this season to honor the life of Mackey.

“To truly honor our fallen teammate and leader, I hope the NFL players will demand — and the league and union will agree to — at least one game this season where every player wears a “88” patch on their jersey and each team airs appropriate public service announcements aimed at educating coaches, parents and young athletes on the prevention of head traumas.”

Comments Off

T.J. Houshmandzadeh on time in Baltimore: “If the Ravens want me back, I would stay”

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

T.J. Houshmandzadeh on time in Baltimore: “If the Ravens want me back, I would stay”

Posted on 28 July 2011 by Ryan Chell

The Ravens may have had to cut ties this week with veteran receiver Derrick Mason and saw the likes of receiver Donte Stallworth take his services to the Washington Redskins, but there is one receiver who is leaving Baltimore behind who not a lot of people are talking about.

And that may be the strangest part of it all. It’s because this receiver in the past has been a guy to usually get the trash-talk started.

That of course is free agent wide receiver TJ Houshmandzadeh, who by the way of a coaching change in Seattle last summer, found his way to Baltimore and was projected to be the third leg of a superb receiving corps joining the likes of Anquan Boldin, Derrick Mason, Donte Stallworth and others.

Unfortunately, Houshmandzadeh-a catching machine for his first eight seasons in the league with Cincinnati-struggled to get himself in the mix in an offense that lacked identity at times last season, and it turned out there weren’t enough balls to go around for the many playmakers and egos in the Ravens passing game.

But Houshmandzadeh-despite his frustration at his role-was very mature about what happened and he voiced that same expression on “The Mobtown Sports Beat” with Thyrl Nelson Monday.

He was actually more displeased with the Ravens losing in the playoffs than his performance on the field.

“It wasn’t my use,” Houshmandzadeh told Nelson. “It was how the season went. My experience was great, except for not catching that last ball.”

Houshmandzadeh said he doesn’t blame the quarterback, Joe Flacco,  coach John Harbaugh, OC Cam Cameron, or anyone else on the team. He admitted that wearing out his welcome in Seattle and coming into the mix in September was all on him.

“Getting here five days before the start of the season, I was behind everyone else,” Houshmandzadeh said. “We were getting ready to play the Jets, and I only had a few days to learn the plans, and for the coaches to put me in.”

Houshmandzadeh played in all 16 games last year, but as the third wide receiver behind Boldin and Mason-and being a similar receiver to those two, he didn’t get a lot of chances to make plays.

His 30 catches were the lowest total since his rookie year in 2002, and after 2004 with the Cincinnati Bengals, he saw no less than 73 balls come into his possession until suiting up in purple.

TJ Houshmandzadeh

The highlight of his season came in Week 4 against the Steelers in Heinz Field, where he caught the game-winning touchdown from Flacco with just 32 seconds on the clock to put down Pittsburgh, 17-14.

It was that play in particular, and several others, that had Houshmandzadeh putting Flacco in the elite quarterbacks of the NFL, and he would know having caught passes from a Heisman Trophy winner and former top overall pick in Carson Palmer for years.

“The Ravens have the right guy in place,” Houshmandzadeh said. “It’s funny when people pick on him, because he’s cool. Joe was always the last guy to leave the facility. He puts the work in, and he’s only going to get better.”

Houshmandzadeh saw firsthand how much criticism the reserved Flacco took last season for the team’s struggles and for not being a vocal leader, and he said none of that was warranted to say the least.

“The criticism was unfair. Joe’s leadership was never in question,” the receiver said. “His style might be different, but the media didn’t understand.”

And further defending his quarterback-even if he is catching passes from another one this season-he says that the comparisons of Flacco to other elite quarterbacks in the NFL aren’t fair either because of the unique systems each signal-caller has at their disposal.

“Everybody’s offense is different,” T.J said. “Joe worked with what was given to him. It’s unfair to compare him to others’ offenses. We did a lot of different things here in Baltimore.”

And for Houshmandzadeh, it could all be different again for him in the next few weeks should a team other the Ravens give him a buzz. Given the Ravens full depth chart at receiver and Houshmandzadeh’s veteran asking price, he probably won’t be parking at 1 Winning Drive for this year’s training camp.

And he knows that.

“I would love to come back,” he said, “but they have a lot of guys there though.”

But, Houshmandzadeh has learned, especially after his time in Cincinnati and Seattle, to never burn your bridges because there’s always a chance to a return visit.

Maybe even one from Baltimore, per chance?

“I loved Baltimore. My time there was great…if the Ravens want me back, I would stay. All a team has to tell me is that they want to sign me.”

And whoever calls upon his services, he wants them to know that he’s all-in.

“Whenever the call is made, I’m ready to go,” Houshmandzadeh said. “My body feels great. I’m looking forward to what this year holds.”

WNST thanks T.J. Houshmandzadeh for joining @WNST and being a part of a great Ravens team in 2010! WNST-We Never Stop Talking Baltimore Sports!

Comments Off

Former O’s GM and 2011 HOF Inductee Pat Gillick: “I enjoyed the three years that I was in BAL…I just hope that the tradition can continue”

Tags: , , , , , ,

Former O’s GM and 2011 HOF Inductee Pat Gillick: “I enjoyed the three years that I was in BAL…I just hope that the tradition can continue”

Posted on 18 July 2011 by Ryan Chell

Pat Gillick

Wherever Pat Gillick went to offer his services as general manager,  he left that team a winner.

And usually after his departure, the winning went with him as evidenced by the playoff droughts of three of the four clubs he ran in Seattle, Toronto, and of course, Baltimore.

But, his 27- year run making personnel decisions certainly caught the eye of his former associates in Cooperstown, as  Gillick was named to the 2011 Baseball Hall of Fame by his former comrades in the Veterans Committee.

He will be formally inducted on Sunday along with one of his former players in second baseman Roberto Alomar, but before then, he joined Thyrl Nelson on “The Mobtown Sports Beat” to talk about what an honor it is to be considered a Hall of Famer.

In fact, he felt like his time would have to wait considering the loss of longtime Yankees owner George Steinbrenner last July.

“I was very stunned when I got the call that I was going into the Hall of Fame,” Gillick said. “I never thought it would happen until it actually did. I thought that Steinbrenner would get in. But, I was stunned and and very humbled.”

Like Alomar, Gillick will be inducted as a Toronto Blue Jay-who he brought five division titles and two world championships from 1985-1993.

But, Gillick was quick to point out to Nelson that his time in Baltimore from 1995-1998 was just as special to him, and said that he cherished his time in Charm City the most because of the relationships he built.

He told Nelson that he’s hurting right now along with the rest of Oriole Nation wanting the Birds to recapture their past success when he was making the baseball decisions.

“I enjoyed the three years that I was in Baltimore and the fans were great, “Gillick told Nelson. “That was a great time. Since I left, I just hope that the tradition can continue.”

Gillick-who was GM of four MLB franchises along with the Orioles including the Toronto Blue Jays, Seattle Mariners, and Philadelphia Phillies-has brought three championship trophies (two with Toronto in 1992-1993, one with Philadelphia in 2008) home in his management career and came close to World Series title runs on several more occasions.

A few of those instances included ALCS runs for the Orioles in 1996 and 1997-the last time Baltimore’s made the playoffs, and again reaching back-to-back league championship games with Seattle in 2000 and 2001.

The 2001 Mariners team tied a major-league record with 116 regular season wins, but failed to bring home a World Series title in both years.

Gillick said that in most cases, it would have taken him longer to get a team like the Orioles to playoff contention in the mid 90′s, but he said the team’s composition was in excellent shape and was ready for him to move right in and put a winning team together.

“I was very fortunate that the club had a very good nucleus,” Gillick said. “I just had to fill in the pieces. Anderson, Ripken, and Mussina were already here. So, I just tried to find the pieces to compliment them.”

One of those pieces was a winning manager who had been there before-Davey Johnson.

On the field, it was Gillick who pulled some strings toward getting one of  his former players in Toronto in Roberto Alomar-who he was paired with from 1991-1995 and won 2 World Series titles with-to come to Baltimore for a playoff run.

It was all about the relationships he built previously with guys like Alomar that made his job that much easier, Gillick said.

“With Alomar, I had a history with him,” Gillick said.And that was something that put it over the top. It’s really just finding the right part to fit with the established players already. Give the right players to the manager and get the right mix in the clubhouse.”

Gillick didn’t think twice to call Alomar the best second baseman he has ever seen, and he had some other good second baseman in Seattle with Bret Boone and Chase Utley in Philadelphia.

Now he’ll be re-united with him yet again this weekend receiving one of baseball’s most prestigious honor.

In fact, while Gillick said he could have waited to get into Cooperstown, he was insulted that Alomar didn’t get in his first year of eligibility in 2009.

“I think the incident against Toronto really affected him going in last time,” Gillick said. “He should have been first-ballot. He is the best second baseman I have ever seen.”

WNST thanks Pat Gillick for joining us and congratulates him for being inducted into Cooperstown! Check out the conversation at the BuyaToyota.com Audio Vault and be sure to tune into Friday’s Mobtown Sports Beat as we devote the entire show to Pat and Roberto! WNST-We Never Stop Talking Baltimore Sports!

Comments Off

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Remembering Only “Magic” I’ve Known

Posted on 15 July 2011 by Glenn Clark

I know just how frustrating the 2011 season has been for Baltimore Orioles fans.

I also know how frustrating the 2010 season was. And 2009. And 2008. And 2007. And 2006. And…I think you get the point.

I was born on September 6, 1983. Just over a month later (October 16) the O’s vanquished the Philadelphia Phillies in Game 5 to claim their third (and still most recent) World Series title. Despite being alive for 40 days when it happened, I’m ashamed to say I have no memories of the title.

The 1989 Birds were a special group. I’ve watched the “Why Not” video a number of times in my life, mostly thanks to my friends BJ and Chris Appel. While they finished short of winning the American League East crown, the team has left many folks in Charm City with special memories.

Unfortunately, I had just turned six years old when the season was cut short. My memories of the ’89 Orioles are extremely limited, and the team itself really didn’t mean much to me as a baseball fan.

I’ve made it quite clear that I am much more of a lacrosse person than I am a baseball person. I’ve made it obvious that certain things about baseball in recent years have made me turn from the game. That’s been made worse by the fact that the team here in Baltimore has given me almost nothing to enjoy for nearly 15 years now. Like many other fans in this city, the demise of our own team has lead to a lessened interested in the sport in general.

That wasn’t the case in 1996.

My 12th birthday was September 5, 1995. It was a special day to be an Orioles fan (like I need to tell you) as Cal Ripken passed Lou Gehrig by playing in his 2,131st consecutive game. My parents were kind enough to purchase me EXACTLY what I wanted for my birthday that year-an oversized Orioles “Starter” brand jacket.

(I know I wasn’t the only one who wore a Starter jacket at the time.)

I’m pretty sure I didn’t take that jacket off for two years-even in the summer.

Baseball was my most significant love in 1996. The Ravens came into existence during the offseason but wouldn’t “take over” the city for another three to four years. In fact, as rabid as we were in Baltimore for the return of the NFL, there were multiple games between Memorial Stadium and what was then known as PSINet Stadium in the early years of the Ravens’ existence that were “sold out”, but featured less than empty crowds.

It was a baseball town, and I loved the Orioles more than I even loved girls.

One of the most exciting moments of my life was the day I found out Home Team Sports (HTS) had been moved from the “premium” tier of Comcast programming in Baltimore County and instead became a basic cable channel.

I was that crazy about the Orioles.

In 8th grade, I was often caught not paying attention to teachers in class. While other kids were writing love notes, I was found to be drawing miniature baseball diamonds and impressing my friends with my ability to name the starting nine for every other team in Major League Baseball.

I was a complete and total nutjob when it came to baseball.

I’m not sure I can fairly explain how much those 1996 & 1997 teams meant to me as I hit puberty. My entire attitude was determined by what the Orioles had done the night before.

I still remember coming home from Perry Hall High School one late fall afternoon in 1995 to have my dad tell me the Orioles had signed Roberto Alomar. I didn’t believe him at first, but ultimately celebrated as if I had received straight A’s on my report card.

The 1996 & 1997 Orioles gave me some of the happiest memories of my life as a sports fan. They also of course gave me some of the saddest memories of my life, as they failed to advance past the ALCS in both years.

As far as “Orioles Magic” is concerned, the only thing I REALLY know about “magic” for the Orioles franchise happened during those two seasons.

I’ve explained my excitement about Alomar’s impending induction to the Baseball Hall of Fame many times. Part of my identity as a Baltimore sports personality is tied to my affection to the man who will take his place in Cooperstown next weekend.

I find it fitting that as Alomar enters the Hall of Fame, he will share the stage with the architect of those Orioles teams, former General Manager Pat Gillick. Gillick’s career is directly tied to Alomar, having brought the second baseman to the Toronto Blue Jays, where the pair would win two World Series titles. Gillick would go on to bring Alomar to Baltimore, where he would lead the O’s to their only Wild Card playoff berth and their first AL East crown in 14 seasons.

My guess is that most of the coverage surrounding next weekend’s induction ceremony will be about the time Alomar and Gillick shared with the Jays. But for Orioles fans, next weekend’s ceremony will be a reminder of a special (albeit short) era of success in Baltimore.

It’s with that in mind that I am happy to announce that Thyrl Nelson and I have come together to dedicate next Friday’s (7/22) edition of “The Mobtown Sports Beat” to the 1996 & 1997 Baltimore Orioles.

We’ll use the show to congratulate Alomar and Gillick on entering the Hall of Fame, as well as to honor the teams that were truthfully the most special in my lifetime.

We’ll talk to players, coaches, broadcasters and even fans who were around those teams. Some interviews will be live, some will be taped earlier in the week. As guests continue to confirm, I’ll do my best to pass them along.

Older Orioles fans might not look back on the ’96 and ’97 with the same fondness that I do. But this is all I’ve known of winning baseball in Baltimore…well…ever.

It’s going to be a lot of fun. I hope you’ll tune in next Friday to AM1570 WNST or online at WNST.net to join in the celebration. I hope you’ll chime in with calls, emails, Tweets (@WNST or @GlennClarkWNST on Twitter), Facebook messages and other memories of those teams.

It’s the only “Magic” I’ve ever experienced, and it doesn’t look like it will be changing soon.

(Eds. Note: A previous version of this post mistakenly stated the Ravens had experienced “multiple blackouts” in their early years.)

-G

Comments Off

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Turgeon Good Coach, But Must Become Good Maryland Coach

Posted on 11 May 2011 by Glenn Clark

COLLEGE PARK, Md. — New University of Maryland basketball coach Mark Turgeon said all the right things when he was introduced to the media Wednesday at Comcast Center’s Heritage Hall.

He said things like,”I can’t tell you how excited I am to be here”, “phenomenal to be standing here as the head coach of Maryland basketball” and “I’ve turned down a lot of jobs over the last four years, and it was going to take a special one for me to move my family. And Maryland’s a special place and that’s why I’m here.”

His comments even channeled the great Charlie Sheen a bit as he exclaimed at one point: “my style of play is winning.”

Following the press conference, he eased concerns that he would eventually leave Maryland to return to his alma-mater (Kansas) by telling me he “hoped” Maryland would be his last job, as long as he was successful enough to remain at the school.

All of the above were home run comments.

It isn’t surprising that Turgeon was so impressive in his first media session after replacing a legend in Gary Williams, who stepped down last week after 22 seasons with the Terrapins. Turgeon has been a head coach at the NCAA level for 13 seasons and will begin his 25th season of coaching in some capacity this fall.

He’s had plenty of opportunities to hone his skills behind a microphone in his career. In fact, he’s had that many opportunities to say the right thing when accepting a new position.

While admitting that I had never watched a Mark Turgeon press conference or interview before in my life (with no offense to Texas A&M or Wichita State, there was just never a reason to be particularly concerned), I fully expected Turgeon to deliver in his first press conference.

The fact is Turgeon has been a good coach for an extended period of time.

That doesn’t happen by accident.

If Turgeon wouldn’t have come in and impressed from day one, there’s little chance Maryland Athletic Director Kevin Anderson would have decided to make him the next coach. While smaller schools might have taken a chance on someone with lesser personality or charisma, a program like Maryland would not have needed to take such a risk.

With all of that being said-simply being a good coach will not be enough for Turgeon at this point.

He now needs to be a good coach for the University of Maryland.

It will not be fair to gauge Turgeon’s success based on what Williams accomplished over 22 seasons. Williams was unquestionably the best coach in program history, leading the program to never-before-seen heights, highlighted by the school’s only NCAA Championship in 2002.

But Turgeon knows well that Williams’ legacy will play a role in his ability to succeed in College Park. “I had to feel comfortable that he was going to accept me as the next coach” said the former TAMU coach, “and he has. And that’s real important.”

Should Turgeon be able to replicate his success with the Aggies now with the Terps, he would get off to a quick start in winning over fans in Baltimore and Washington.

Turgeon has won 20 or more games in seven of his last eight seasons and has made the NCAA Tournament in five of his last six.

While he has never advanced beyond the Sweet 16, his 2006 appearance is three seasons more recent than Williams’.

The reality is that simply being a good coach won’t quite be enough to succeed at Maryland.

While the Big-12 is a brutally difficult conference, battles with Kansas and Texas can’t quite gear a coach up for four games against Duke and North Carolina (Turgeon will have that unenviable task in his first season with Maryland).

The harsher reality is that an off-season at Maryland will be much more heavily scrutinized with the Terrapins than it ever would have been with the Aggies or Shockers.

While Texas A&M is a big school, the most significant basketball-related moments arguably happened when the guys from “Dude Perfect” chucked shots from the upper deck at Kyle Field.

A&M simply will never be a basketball school, and nothing happening on the hardwood in the Lone Star State will ever be as significant as what happens on a gridiron.

While WSU has become a significant player on the mid-major level, Wichita is not exactly a media hotbed and the school certainly doesn’t have the same number of current students or alumni, or nearly as large a current or potential fan base.

Maryland will be a much more difficult job.

The only troubling part of the Turgeon hire is his complete lack of connection to the University and nearly complete lack of connection to the Mid-Atlantic area.

To his credit, Turgeon said Wednesday he understood the importance of making a dent in the Mid-Atlantic.+

“I have really good relationships with the people in the area” said Turgeon. “I felt comfortable. If I didn’t, I wouldn’t have taken the job. I feel like I’ve been on the phone with a lot of people, not all of them yet, but relationships through Kansas.”

It makes sense that during his time as an assistant for the Jayhawks, Turgeon would have worked the area a bit. He acknowledged that he had recruited current Texas A&M guard Naji Hibbert out of DeMatha Catholic High School in Hyattsville to College Station. Hibbert is actually a Charm City native whose brother (Hakim Hibbert) played at Towson.

But Turgeon will have to do much more than that in the Maryland area to succeed at Maryland. There has been much pressure from the fanbase for Turgeon to keep at least part of Gary Williams’ staff in tact in order to recognize the significance of the area.

“I know I need to have a staff that has ties in this area up and down the East Coast” , he said Wednesday.And I have enough ties in the Midwest that I’ll still be able to do some things back in that area. So I don’t know where I am with my staff. I do know they’re going to have ties to this area.”

Retaining assistants Rob Ehsan and Bino Ranson would be a good start in reflecting the importance of the region. While Ehsan is a California native, he has made a significant impact in the Mid-Atlantic area.

New Jersey PG commit Sterling Gibbs has reportedly said keeping his commitment to the Terrapins is at least based in part in Ehsan returning to the staff. Ranson is a Baltimore native whose arrival in College Park immediately helped the Terps nail down another four star prospect in City College’s Nick Faust.

While Turgeon has put together a respectable staff in College Station, it would be a mistake to ignore the significance of the region in completing a new staff in College Park.

My best guess is that Mark Turgeon will find success as the head basketball coach at the University of Maryland. His track record indicates that he won’t have a problem winning almost immediately.

But if it happens, it will happen because Turgeon understands that there is a difference between being a good head coach and a great Maryland coach.

Hopefully Wednesday was the first step down that road.

-G

NOTES: Turgeon’s press conference is available now in the BuyAToyota.com Audio Vault here at WNST.net……Anderson joined Glenn Clark and Thyrl Nelson on “The Mobtown Sports Beat” Tuesday on AM1570 WNST to discuss the hire, that chat is available in the Audio Vault as well……Ehsan, Ranson and Williams’ other assistant Keith Booth were all in attendance for Wednesday’s press conference. Also in attendance were football coach Randy Edsall, soccer coach Sasho Cirovski, women’s basketball coach Brenda Frese, University President Wallace Loh and former Terps F Tahj Holden

Comments Off

Live From Owings Mills: “Smith” Ravens’ 2nd Pick, Terps’ Torrey Adds New Chapter to Amazing Story

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Live From Owings Mills: “Smith” Ravens’ 2nd Pick, Terps’ Torrey Adds New Chapter to Amazing Story

Posted on 29 April 2011 by Glenn Clark

OWINGS MILLS, Md. — Let me start with some full disclosure. I’m a University of Maryland alum and an unabashed supporter of the Terrapins football program.

I’ll follow with further full disclosure. There was no prospect in the 2011 NFL Draft that I was more familiar with than former Terps WR Torrey Smith. You probably won’t remember this gem of an “interview” from the team’s 2010 Media Day in College Park…

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=apWJYZNRyQA[/youtube]

On top of that, I coordinated a weekly appearance between Smith and AM1570 host Thyrl Nelson every Tuesday since January on “The Mobtown Sports Beat.”

Now that it’s all out there, I’ll speak freely.

And after looking past a lengthy rap-sheet to select Colorado CB Jimmy Smith in the first round, the Baltimore Ravens grabbed an amazing human being in the 2nd-round (58th pick overall) by selecting their second Smith of the week.

(They’re of course hoping he pans out to be just as good of a football player at the NFL level as well.)

Smith’s story is well-known amongst Maryland fans, and will quickly become just as known amongst similar Ravens fans who gobbled up everything Michael Oher and “The Blind Side” related two seasons ago.

As detailed in an incredible Washington Post story by Eric Prisbell (Head Coach John Harbaugh said Friday night he was “choked up” and “proud” of Smith after just reading the article), Smith’s childhood was impossibly difficult.

Smith was born three months early, undersized with meningitis and jaundice. He was rushed to an incubator and lived the first 10 weeks of his life in a hospital.

Smith’s childhood would leave him witness to a scene where his mother, Monica, was held at gunpoint by her then-husband and Smith was immediately forced to help raise his younger siblings as early as the age of four.

As recently as 2010, Smith’s mother had faced up to ten years in prison stemming from a fight with her daughter-in-law (a plea agreement would help prevent the lengthy sentence).

As I said, I’d suggest you read the story.

“You saw the celebration (after the pick was announced) when they had Torrey on TV?” asked Harbaugh following the 2nd round. “I want you to know there was a bigger celebration in our Draft room when we got this player.”

The Ravens are clearly excited about adding Smith’s size, speed and resume to a receiving corps that already features multiple Pro Bowl performers in Derrick Mason and Anquan Boldin. Smith measured in at 6’1″, 204 pounds and clocked a 4.41 time in the forty yard dash at the NFL Scouting Combine. During three seasons in College Park, he tallied 2,281 yards from scrimmage and 20 offensive touchdowns to go with 2,983 return yards and three additional TD’s.

Some scouts thought he had first-round talent, but some questions about his route-running forced him to drop into the second.

The Ravens were grateful to find him there.

“He can peal the top off a defense,” said General Manager Ozzie Newsome. “He brings that added dimension to our pass game. [Quarterback] Joe [Flacco] is a deep-thrower. Joe has the ability to throw the deep ball…he has the arm strength to do it. Now we’re giving Joe an additional weapon and that opens up our passing game.”

Newsome would go on jokingly to label Smith as a “3-point shooter” in the Ravens offense: “At any point if the ball gets in his hands, Billy [Cundiff] is coming out to kick an extra point.”

The deep-ball was sorely missing from the Ravens offense last year. The team had just seven passing plays of 40-plus yards-Mason led the team with two-during 16 regular season games and then recorded none in the postseason.

After finding out his football future would lead him up the road to Charm City, Smith told reporters he knew his character would help his transition.

“I knew the way I am as a person…the way I play fit the way they do things up there,” he said.

As much as the Ravens will benefit from the addition of Smith on the field, they will absolutely benefit from the addition of a man like Torrey Smith in their locker room as well.

Former Maryland head coach Ralph Friedgen said of Smith in the Post story, “God created a perfect person.”

The Ravens might settle for a good guy. And a really good receiver.

RAVENS DEAL FOR ANOTHER “REID”
: The Ravens dealt their third round pick (90th overall) and one of two sixth round picks (191st overall) to the Philadelphia Eagles to move up five spots and select Central Florida OT Jah Reid in the 3rd round (85th overall).

Jah Reid

Reid (6’7″, 327 pounds) was described by Newsome as a “fast-riser” on the Ravens draft board following his performance at this year’s East-West Shrine Game in Orlando.

The Ravens will start the 2010 first-team All-Conference-USA selection at RT, where he will find a bit of a crowd. Jared Gaither missed all of 2010 with a back injury and could reach free agency depending on the resolution of the CBA-dispute between the league and the NFLPA.

Marshal Yanda is a restricted free agent (expected to return) who performed admirably filling in for Gaither but Harbaugh has said the team would prefer to move him back to his more natural right guard position.

Oniel Cousins and Tony Moll have not shown themselves as viable options to play significantly. 2010 6th-round pick Ramon Harewood also missed the entire season needing surgery on both knees.

When asked what the Ravens liked about Reid, Harbaugh said: “he is long, he is powerful and he can bend.”

NOTES: The Ravens will receive no compensation from the National Football League or the Chicago Bears following a miscue during the attempt of a first-round trade. ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported NFL commissioner Roger Goodell “encouraged” the Bears to give the Ravens a 4th round pick, but the Bears chose not to do so……The Ravens are scheduled to introduce Jimmy Smith and Torrey Smith to reporters at an 11am press conference Saturday at 1 Winning Drive……The Ravens are slated to make five picks on Saturday. They currently hold one fourth round pick (123rd overall), two compensatory fifth round picks (164th and 165th overall), one sixth round pick (180th overall, acquired from the St. Louis Rams in last year’s Mark Clayton deal) and one seventh round pick (225th overall, acquired from the Eagles in last year’s Antwan Barnes deal)……Hear from Newsome, Harbaugh, Director of Player Personnel Eric DeCosta, Director of College Scouting Joe Hortiz and Torrey Smith now in the BuyAToyota.com Audio Vault here at WNST.net

-G

Comments Off

A Final Week of Private Workouts As Draft Season Nears Culmination

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

A Final Week of Private Workouts As Draft Season Nears Culmination

Posted on 23 April 2011 by Glenn Clark

We’re less than a week away from the kickoff of the NFL Draft (Thursday night-8pm-ESPN & NFL Network), but we’ve already seen the end of Private workout season, as the Ravens hosted their final private workouts this week.

Now GM Ozzie Newsome, Director of Player Personnel Eric DeCosta, Director of College Scouting Joe Hortiz, Head Coach John Harbaugh, Owner Steve Bisciotti, Team President Dick Cass, VP of Football Administation Pat Moriarty and the entire scouting staff will be involved in the process before the team makes their first pick.

Before I continue, I remind you of the players we have already profiled during Draft season.

QB-Ricky Dobbs (Navy), Pat Devlin (Delaware), Colin Kaepernick (Nevada), Josh Portis (California-Pennsylvania), Taylor Potts (Texas Tech), Christian Ponder (Florida State), Tyrod Taylor (Virginia Tech), Jake Locker (Washington), Greg McElroy (Alabama), Andy Dalton (TCU), Jeremiah Masoli (Ole Miss), Ricky Stanzi (Iowa), Jerrod Johnson (Texas A&M)
FB
-Anthony Sherman (Connecticut), Owen Marecic (Stanford), Shaun Chapas (Georgia)
RB
-Evan Royster (Penn State), Da’Rel Scott (Maryland), DeMarco Murray (Oklahoma), Damien Berry (Miami), Kendall Hunter (Oklahoma State), Roy Helu Jr. (Nebraska), Alex Green (Hawaii), Shane Vereen (Cal), Jordan Todman (UConn), Dion Lewis (Pitt), Jacquizz Rodgers (Oregon State), Mark Ingram (Alabama), Ryan Williams (Virginia Tech), Mikel Leshoure (Illinois), Darren Evans (Virginia Tech), Stevan Ridley (LSU)
WR
-Lester Jean (Florida Atlantic), Terrence Toliver (LSU), Leonard Hankerson (Miami), Austin Pettis (Boise State), Denarius Moore (Tennessee), Owen Spencer (North Carolina State), Jock Sanders (West Virginia), Titus Young (Boise State), Vincent Brown (San Diego State), Ryan Whalen (Stanford), Torrey Smith (Maryland), Randall Cobb (Kentucky), Jon Baldwin (Pittsburgh), Greg Salas (Hawaii), Cecil Shorts III (Mount Union), Jerrel Jernigan (Troy), Niles Paul (Nebraska), Dane Sanzenbacher (Ohio State)
TE-Will Yeatman (Maryland)
OT
-Matthew O’Donnell (Queens University Canada), Gabe Carimi (Wisconsin), Nate Solder (Colorado), Anthony Costanzo (Boston College), Joseph Barksdale (LSU), Derek Sherrod (Mississippi State), DeMarcus Love (Arkansas), James Brewer (Indiana)
G-Danny Watkins (Baylor), Will Rackley (Lehigh)
C-Zane Taylor (Utah), Kris O’Dowd (Southern Cal), Rodney Hudson (Florida State), Brandon Fusco (Slippery Rock)
DE
-Justin Trattou (Florida), Allen Bailey (Miami), Eddie Jones (Texas), Ryan Kerrigan (Purdue), Brooks Reed (Arizona), Cliff Matthews (South Carolina), JJ Watt (Wisconsin), Cameron Heyward (Ohio State), Dontay Moch (Nevada), D’Aundre Reed (Arizona), Aldon Smith (Missouri), Adrian Clayborn (Iowa), Sam Acho (Texas), Ryan Winterswyk (Boise State), Christian Ballard (Iowa), Ricky Elmore (Arizona)
DT-Muhammad Wilkerson (Temple)
LB
-Mark Herzlich (Boston College), Casey Matthews (Oregon), Adrian Moten (Maryland), Nate Irving (NC State), Colin McCarthy (Miami), Martez Wilson (Illinois), Kelvin Sheppard (Louisiana State), Alex Wujciak (Maryland), Akeem Dent (Georgia), Justin Houston (Georgia)
S
-Jermale Hines (Ohio State), Jaiquawn Jarrett (Temple), Maurice Rolle (Louisiana-Lafayette), Rahim Moore (UCLA), Ahmad Black (Florida), Will Hill (Florida)
CB-Anthony Gaitor (Florida International), Aaron Williams (Texas), Jalil Brown (Colorado), Jimmy Smith (Colorado), DeMarcus Van Dyke (Miami), Brandon Harris (Miami), Ras-I Dowling (Virginia), Richard Sherman (Stanford), Brandon Burton (Utah), Curtis Marsh (Utah State), Chris Culliver (South Carolina), Buster Skrine (Chattanooga)

If you missed any of those profiles, you can check them out in the archives here at WNST.net.

Part 1-A look at players who participated in the East West Shrine Game in Orlando, Florida
Part 2-A look at players who participated in the Senior Bowl in Mobile, Alabama
Part 3-A look at players who participated in the NFLPA Game (former Texas vs. The Nation Game) in San Antonio, Texas
Parts 456-Previews of players ahead of the NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis
Part 7-A look back at players who made in impact at the National Football League Scouting Combine at LucasOil Stadium in Indy
Parts 8, 9 & 10-A look at players who participated in early Pro Timing Days
Part 11-Players the Ravens have shown direct interest in

The Baltimore Ravens (obviously) made no personnel changes this week, so my team needs remain the same…

1. Defensive End
2. Offensive Tackle
3. Wide Receiver
4. Cornerback
5. Fullback
6. Inside Linebacker
7. Safety
8. Center
9. Running Back
10. Quarterback

Here are ten more prospects-all of whom have been shown special attention by the Ravens during Draft season. (Reported by WNST.net, National Football Post, Carroll County Times, Baltimore Sun, Pro Football Weekly or others.)

Thanks to CBSSports.com/NFLDraftScout.com, NFLDraftBible.com, WNST.net (The AP), ESPN.com, NFL.com, Wikipedia, YouTube and various official athletic websites for helping to put together the profiles.

DT Corey Liuget (Illinois)

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tlprPUyKL8M[/youtube]

It might have surprised some to see that Liuget had visited Owings Mills for a meeting with the Ravens. The team has PLENTY of depth on the D-Line (with the exception of rush end). Behind Haloti Ngata, Kelly Gregg and Cory Redding, the team has the likes of Brandon McKinney, Terrence Cody, Arthur Jones, Lamar Divens and Kelly Talavou to play the position.

Liuget remains an intriguing prospect. He’s an outstanding gap filler at 6’2″, 298; and even managed eight sacks during his career with the Fighting Illini-five of those coming in 2010.

Liuget is expected to come off the board as early as the mid-teens in the first round. Should he fall, the Ravens would find themselves with a difficult decision-as it would be hard to imagine they have many players higher on their board than a player with Liuget’s ability.

Liuget has been a steady riser during Draft season. The Ravens have to be impressed by the fact that he’s capable of playing in both the three and the five technique-and his Pro Day workout in Champaign was reportedly quite impressive.

He might not seem to fight an immediate need-but he simply can’t be ruled out as the Ravens’ first round choice.

CB Justin Rogers (Richmond)

justinrogers

If you’ve been following my Draft updates, you should be well aware of the Ravens’ issues at Cornerback.

Josh Wilson, Chris Carr and Fabian Washington are slated to become unrestricted free agents. Cary Williams is an exclusive rights free agent. Domonique Foxworth missed the entire 2010 season due to a torn ACL.

The team is going to have to address the defensive secondary SOMEHOW during the offseason-by retaining their own players or adding new ones (or more likely a combination of both).

Rogers recently visited 1 Winning Drive, giving the Ravens a chance to take a better look at the CAA prospect. His size (5’11″, 180 pounds) is not exceptional, but his 4.40 Pro Day 40 time certainly is.

His Spiders career was certainly exceptional as well, as he finished his four seasons with 12 interceptions (three of which were returned for touchdowns.) He showed himself plenty capable of being a matchup corner-albeit against FCS competition.

He’s not going to come off the board until Saturday. Most pundits believe the team will have picked a corner before then-but it doesn’t rule out the possibility that the team could still add Rogers.

LB Akeem Ayers (UCLA)

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J36hhdBm9QU[/youtube]

The Ravens certainly aren’t the only team that has shown interest in Ayers, as half the league (or more) has hosted the former Bruins backer. But it doesn’t change the fact that the interest in Ayers from General Manager Ozzie Newsome and the team is genuine.

That being said, Ayers isn’t a perfect fit for Chuck Pagano’s defense. While he’s shown an ability to get after quarterbacks (11 sacks during his career in Los Angeles), he can’t be fairly expected to be a true “rush backer.”

Of course, the Ravens already have one of those players in LB Terrell Suggs, so they’re really only in need of a complement to T-Sizzle.

Ayers is a more complete standup backer, as he added 6 interceptions (two returned for touchdowns) to his numbers at UCLA. He has mammoth size (6’3″, 254 pounds) and pretty good speed to boot (4.69 40 at his Pro Day).

As the Ravens look to address their rush early in the draft, they’ll have to decide on whether they’re looking for more of a down lineman or a stand-up backer. My guess is that they’re looking for more of a hybrid-as it will allow them to keep LB Jarret Johnson on the field significantly-but slide a rusher back in obvious passing situations.

Ayers likely won’t stick around until the team’s 2nd round choice (at 58). The team will probably have to pull the trigger at 26 or miss out.

(Ayers joined Rex Snider on “The Afternoon Drive” on AM1570 WNST Thursday, that chat can be heard in the BuyAToyota.com Audio Vault here at WNST.net.)

G/C Stefen Wisniewski (Penn State)

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jPMkroHBPqM[/youtube]

If selected by the Ravens, Wisniewski would not be the first Wisniewski to play Pro Football in Charm City.

His father (Leo Wisniewski) was selected by the Baltimore Colts in the second round of the 1982 NFL Draft. His family tree is rooted in NFL tradition, as his uncle (Steve Wisniewski) was an eight time Pro Bowl guard for the LA/Oakland Raiders and still an assistant O-Line coach for the team.

Clearly football is in his blood.

The Ravens could be well served to add the 6’3″, 313 pound interior lineman to their O-Line. Wisniewski played more Guard in Happy Valley, but many teams believe he will be a Center at the NFL level.

The Ravens have flux at both positions, as G Marshal Yanda is a restricted free agent-but could be asked to return to OT should unrestricted free agent Jared Gaither depart. While C Matt Birk decided to return this season, he is widely expected to be playing in his final NFL season. G/C Chris Chester is also a restricted free agent, but isn’t widely viewed as a “Center of the future” type.

Wisniewski is likely to be a Friday night pick. It would be easy to imagine new Offensive Line coach Andy Moeller rooting to add a player with the bloodlines of a Wisniewski.

DE Robert Quinn (North Carolina)

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kqJrjwjf55c[/youtube]

The word “interesting” doesn’t even begin to describe Quinn as a NFL Draft prospect.

Quinn is likely better known for his off the field history coming into his pro career than he is for his on field ability. He was suspended for the 2010 season after the NCAA determined he had lied to investigators about receiving improper travel accommodations and jewelry.

When asked how the scandal could affect Quinn (and former UNC teammates Marvin Austin & Greg Little) at the Ravens’ annual Pre-Draft Luncheon, Newsome pointed out the Ravens had an advantage because Pagano was the DC in Chapel Hill back in 2007.

Quinn is widely believed to be a Top 10 talent in this year’s draft class-but the off field trouble has left in doubt where he will end up being selected. That’s where the Ravens come in. Should he continue to fall, the team would have the opportunity to select him at 26th or even consider moving up a few spots to get him.

Quinn has the physique of the type of rush end the Ravens are interested in adding to their defense. He’s 6’4″, 265 pounds and has really good speed (4.59 40 at his Pro Day). In two seasons with the Tar Heels, he tallied 13 sacks-11 of which came in 2009.

As well as addressing the off field trouble, the Ravens have to determine whether or not the year off will also hurt Quinn on the field.

If he slides, it will be awfully difficult decision on whether or not the team should take the chance.

LB Jonathan Cornell (Mississippi)

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tCO9L3kFDrg[/youtube]

Despite the fact that only a few players in the history of the NFL have even been worthy of being mentioned in the same SENTENCE as future Hall of Fame LB Ray Lewis, the words “heir apparent to Ray Lewis” tend to get thrown around frequently during Draft season.

It ultimately is never fair to any Inside Linebacker the Ravens select, which Tavares Gooden has found out in recent years.

Gooden, Dannell Ellerbe and Jameel McClain have failed to nail down the WILL LB spot next to the perennial Pro Bowler, and Jason Phillips hasn’t been able to work his way on the field regularly. We also know Lewis won’t be around forever…even if it feels like he might be.

At 6’1″, 236 pounds; some scouts are going to label Cornell as “undersized.” Of course, some of those same scouts said the same thing about that former Miami Hurricanes LB in 1996. Cornell certainly showed an ability to make tackles, finishing his Rebels career with 215 tackles and eight sacks. His 4.76 forty time at his Pro Day in Oxford had to be considered at least a bit disappointing.

There’s no guarantee that Cornell gets drafted at all. Ellerbe and McClain both made the team’s roster out of Training Camp after not being selected. The Ravens will be a bit more hamstrung in the late rounds of this year’s Draft, as they will be unable to sign undrafted free agents until the NFL’s labor dispute is resolved.

With that in mind, Director of Player Personnel Eric DeCosta and company will know that it might be more necessary than ever to not risk exposing a player like Cornell to a prolonged post-Draft free agency period.

DE Jabaal Sheard (Pitt)

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VUXMVmDwvmA[/youtube]

Sometimes a team finds red flags in a player that concern them as they make a decision in whether or not they should be drafted.

Other times a team finds positive attributes that make the decision to draft the player a true slam dunk.

In the case of Sheard…well…there’s…both? From the Carroll County Times…

“He was arrested last summer for felony aggravated assault and resisting arrest after an altercation in a bar where he threw a man through a glass door. He pleaded guilty to disorderly conduct, was ordered to apologize and pay medical bills. He was suspended from the team for two weeks as well as internal discipline.

He was awarded a medal for bravery years ago for helping an elderly woman escape from a burning home.”

When not getting arrested or helping elderly women from their homes, Sheard has been a hell of a pass rusher for the Panthers. He’s tallied 19 sacks over the last three seasons, and is viewed as a player who could stand up or put his hand in the dirt at the next level.

Sheard is a beast of a man, measuring in at 6’3″, 264 pounds and clocking in with a 4.68 forty time at the Combine. Scouts have been impressed with his bull rush abilities and the way he handled double teams when teammate Greg Romeus got hurt in 2010.

The Ravens are expected to address DE/OLB early in the Draft. Sheard is unlikely to stick around until the 58th pick and might not be a stretch at all should he come off the board at 26.

WR Greg Little (North Carolina)

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SHwr7WlO77E[/youtube]

So remember all of those things I said about Quinn? Let’s repeat them for Little.

It’s hard to imagine how the year off will affect him, but we do not it took away an opportunity for him to prove himself as a superior pass-catcher.

Little played just a season and a half at receiver after starting his ACC career at Running Back. He finished his UNC career with 1,774 yards of total offense and 12 combined touchdowns. But the only numbers scouts can really use in considering his potential NFL ability are his 62 catches for 724 yards and five TD’s in 2009.

Ironically, Little has good size (6’3″, 231 pounds) but only decent speed (4.51 forty at the Combine). Unfortunately, he’s never really established himself as an outside or over the top receiver, so teams are hard pressed to determine whether or not he’ll be able to be much more than a slot option.

The Ravens probably have receivers like Little on the roster already. He’s similar to Anquan Boldin, certainly thicker than Derrick Mason. The team will have tough decisions to make with unrestricted free agents T.J. Houshmandzadeh and Donte’ Stallworth, but neither are really expected back in Charm City next season.

The team is more likely to think big and fast when it comes to receiver upgrades, as they desperately need to stretch the field vertically and extend the field horizontally. The team could use more than one receiver in their upgrade process, which could be where Little fits the picture.

If the team doesn’t go receiver early in the Draft, they could certainly consider grabbing Little on Friday night and trying to use free agency (which should be coming…eventually) to add a superior playmaker to their corps.

G/C Mike Pouncey (Florida)

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=klPDvs5vvAM[/youtube]

One AFC scout said this to me about the predicament the Ravens could find themselves in when it comes to Pouncey at 26.

“Well…they’d have to take him…they couldn’t afford the risk of him joining his brother in Pittsburgh.”

Clearly that doesn’t ACTUALLY mean the Ravens would have to select Pouncey at 26, but it is a tough decision they’d face. The Ravens have struggled to get consistent pressure on Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger over the years, which has allowed for Pittsburgh to dominate the AFC North. Every decision they make this offseason must be made knowing the road to the Super Bowl will go directly through the Steel City.

Should Mike Pouncey join his brother Maurkice Pouncey, the Steelers’ O-Line would clearly become that much stronger. It would also make the Ravens’ road to Super Bowl XLVI even more difficult.

That being said, the Ravens’ interest in Pouncey isn’t solely based on keeping him out of Pittsburgh. Offensive Coordinator Cam Cameron would be well served to add a player of Pouncey’s size (6’5″, 303) and ability to his O-Line. Pouncey is more likely to begin his career at guard than center; and the Ravens could ultimately shift Yanda to tackle should Gaither depart and stick with Pouncey at RG. The move would also give them a potential “center of the future” should Birk retire following the season.

Most scouts believe Pouncey isn’t quite as NFL ready as his brother was, but it’s hard too many rookies being as NFL ready as his brother was. Few scouts doubt the fact that Pouncey is an outstanding talent however, which is why he could go off at the board at 26 or earlier.

Head Coach John Harbaugh spent real time with Pouncey at the NFL Combine. The other head coach Pouncey said he spent real time with in Indy?

Mike Tomlin…of course.

K Kemar Scarlett (Morgan State)

kemarscarlett

Scarlett gained attention in recent weeks after a lengthy ESPN.com profile and an appearance with Thyrl Nelson on “The Mobtown Sports Beat” on AM1570 WNST recently. (That interview can be heard in the BuyAToyota.com Audio Vault here at WNST.net.)

The Ravens visited Scarlett’s Pro Day over on Hillen Road, but make no mistake-they’re very happy with their own kicker (Billy Cundiff) and they have no interest in Scarlett or any other kicker available in this year’s Draft. It’s certainly a refreshing change for Special Teams Coordinator Jerry Rosburg after the last two offseasons.

That being said, Scarlett had a nice career for the Bears; connecting on 27 of 34 field goal attempts, including two 47 yard boots during his senior season.

Scarlett will have an opportunity to play football professionally…it just isn’t going to start with him hearing his name called in the NFL Draft.

Flexing my mic muscles since 1983…

-G

Comments Off

Another Week of Pro Timing Days as Draft Season Continues

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Another Week of Pro Timing Days as Draft Season Continues

Posted on 24 March 2011 by Glenn Clark

There’s still no labor peace in the NFL, but NFL Draft season continues on as we inch closer and closer to Radio City Music Hall in New York at the end of April.

This week featured another round of Pro Timing Days, including a controversial stop at Georgia’s Pro Timing Day in Athens, where league scouts were forced to watch WR AJ Green workout on TV screens due a strange rule surrounding the lockout.

Since Green will be off the board before the Ravens select at 26th, I won’t bore you with further details.

Before I continue, I remind you of the players we have already profiled during Draft season.

QB-Ricky Dobbs (Navy), Pat Devlin (Delaware), Colin Kaepernick (Nevada), Josh Portis (California-Pennsylvania), Taylor Potts (Texas Tech), Christian Ponder (Florida State), Tyrod Taylor (Virginia Tech), Jake Locker (Washington), Greg McElroy (Alabama), Andy Dalton (TCU)
FB
-Anthony Sherman (Connecticut), Owen Marecic (Stanford)
RB
-Evan Royster (Penn State), Da’Rel Scott (Maryland), DeMarco Murray (Oklahoma), Damien Berry (Miami), Kendall Hunter (Oklahoma State), Roy Helu Jr. (Nebraska), Alex Green (Hawaii), Shane Vereen (Cal), Jordan Todman (Connecticut), Dion Lewis (Pitt), Jacquizz Rodgers (Oregon State), Mark Ingram (Alabama)
WR
-Lester Jean (Florida Atlantic), Terrence Toliver (LSU), Leonard Hankerson (Miami), Austin Pettis (Boise State), Denarius Moore (Tennessee), Owen Spencer (North Carolina State), Jock Sanders (West Virginia), Titus Young (Boise State), Vincent Brown (San Diego State), Ryan Whalen (Stanford), Torrey Smith (Maryland), Randall Cobb (Kentucky), Jon Baldwin (Pittsburgh), Greg Salas (Hawaii), Cecil Shorts III (Mount Union), Jerrel Jernigan (Troy), Niles Paul (Nebraska)
TE-Will Yeatman (Maryland)
OT
-Matthew O’Donnell (Queens University Canada), Gabe Carimi (Wisconsin), Nate Solder (Colorado), Anthony Costanzo (Boston College), Joseph Barksdale (LSU), Derek Sherrod (Mississippi State)
G-Danny Watkins (Baylor)
C-Zane Taylor (Utah), Kris O’Dowd (Southern Cal), Rodney Hudson (Florida State)
DE
-Justin Trattou (Florida), Allen Bailey (Miami), Eddie Jones (Texas), Ryan Kerrigan (Purdue), Brooks Reed (Arizona), Cliff Matthews (South Carolina), JJ Watt (Wisconsin), Cameron Heyward (Ohio State), Dontay Moch (Nevada), D’Aundre Reed (Arizona)
LB
-Mark Herzlich (Boston College), Casey Matthews (Oregon), Adrian Moten (Maryland), Nate Irving (NC State), Colin McCarthy (Miami), Martez Wilson (Illinois), Kelvin Sheppard (Louisiana State), 
S
-Jermale Hines (Ohio State), Jaiquawn Jarrett (Temple), Maurice Rolle (Louisiana-Lafayette), Rahim Moore (UCLA), Ahmad Black (Florida)
CB-Anthony Gaitor (Florida International), Aaron Williams (Texas), Jalil Brown (Colorado), Jimmy Smith (Colorado), DeMarcus Van Dyke (Miami), Brandon Harris (Miami)

If you missed any of those profiles, you can check them out in the archives here at WNST.net.

Part 1-A look at players who participated in the East West Shrine Game in Orlando, Florida
Part 2-A look at players who participated in the Senior Bowl in Mobile, Alabama
Part 3-A look at players who participated in the NFLPA Game (former Texas vs. The Nation Game) in San Antonio, Texas
Parts 456-Previews of players ahead of the NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis
Part 7-A look back at players who made in impact at the National Football League Scouting Combine at LucasOil Stadium
Part 8-A look at players who participated in the first week of Pro Timing Days

The Baltimore Ravens made no personnel changes this week, so my team needs remain the same…

1. Defensive End
2. Offensive Tackle
3. Wide Receiver
4. Cornerback
5. Fullback
6. Inside Linebacker
7. Safety
8. Center
9. Running Back
10. Quarterback

Here are ten more prospects whose schools have already held their Pro Timing Days.

Thanks to CBSSports.com/NFLDraftScout.com, NFLDraftBible.com, WNST.net (The AP), ESPN.com, Wikipedia, YouTube and various official athletic websites for helping to put together the profiles.

DE Aldon Smith (Missouri)

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BBee49viSK8[/youtube]

There was a time when the former Mizzou pass rusher was believed to be available for the Ravens at 26.

As Draft season has continued, that can no longer be considered a certainty.

Smith is a 6’4″, 263 pound beast who combined for 17 sacks over the last two seasons for the Tigers despite missing three games last season with a broken leg.

Smith played just those two seasons in Columbia, opting to depart after his redshirt sophomore season for the Draft.

There’s plenty to like about Smith. He ran a 4.74 in the 40 yard dash while in Indy, and has shown his versatility in different defenses. His wingspan was measured at an astounding 84 inches.

He also told reporters at Pro Day he can do a standing backflip-but we haven’t seen that yet.

The Ravens have scheduled a workout with Smith and will find themselves in an interesting position should he be available at 26. He’s clearly a talent, but he’s probably still a bit of a project at this point.

The Ravens desperately need a pass rusher on the edge. The demise of Trevor Pryce has left them in a bad spot. If they think the presence of Smith can generate a better rush (along with LB Terrell Suggs), he’d almost certainly be on his way to Charm City.

C Brandon Fusco (Slippery Rock)

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_-oyDfPkV-A[/youtube]

Quick-does anyone know where Slippery Rock is located?

If you said Butler County, Pennsylvania you’re a big winner.

A four year starter for The Rock, Fusco has been a steady riser throughout his career and now into Draft season.

He’s a 6’4″, 316 pound solid player who has shown off his athleticism after moving from tackle to center. He even made a catch (for nine yards) during his senior season.

The Ravens will be looking for center depth in the Draft. Matt Birk has said he’ll come back this season, but they’ll have to work with the expectation that Birk could be entering his final season. Chris Chester is still in the mix (he’s expected to be back as a restricted free agent), but is likely better served at guard than moving back to center.

It’s not a very deep draft at the position, but Fusco could be an option in the later rounds. He put together a solid Pro Day (although it was held at Lehigh) and has likely guaranteed himself a Saturday selection.

CB Ras-I Dowling (Virginia)

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QwYM_5uJ0MY[/youtube]

In one sentence, I think Dowling would be labeled as “obvious talent with obvious injury issues.”

Dowling is an impressive 6’1″, 198 pound corner who posted eight interceptions, three forced fumbles and a sack over his first three seasons with the Cavaliers. He posted an impressive 4.40 40 at the Combine.

Unfortunately, Dowling played in just three games during his senior campaign in Charlottesville, as he battled a broken left ankle, right knee issues and a lingering hamstring problem.

After all of that, he pulled up with another hamstring issue during the Combine.

Yikes.

Dowling actually WASN’T able to participate in the Wahoos’ Pro Day due to his injuries, he’ll instead delay until April 3rd-when he’ll hold his own individual Pro Day.

Cornerback is an issue for the Ravens. Chris Carr, Josh Wilson and Fabian Washington are unrestricted free agents. Domonique Foxworth is coming off a torn ACL.

They’ll have to address the problem somehow, whether in the Draft or later.

Dowling will be intriguing. He was an arguable first round talent a year ago. He’s clearly no longer a first round guy. But how soon would a team like the Ravens be willing to consider snapping him up to join Chuck Pagano’s defense? That much we don’t know yet.

DT Muhammad Wilkerson (Temple)

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3Q8TQg6uoSg[/youtube]

It has been a bit puzzling to keep seeing Wilkerson’s name linked to the Ravens in mock drafts.

The reality is that the Ravens have an anchor in the middle of their defensive line (Haloti Ngata) and have plenty of depth behind him at the position (Terrence Cody, Brandon McKinney, Lamar Divens, Kelly Talavou, Arthur Jones).

This could really test General Manager Ozzie Newsome’s steadfast “best player available” policy in the Draft. National Football Post reported the team will work out the former Owls big man this week, and could face a serious decision should he be available at 26.

On paper, Wilkerson LOOKS like a Raven. He measured in at 6’4″, 315 pounds in Indianapolis and tallied 10 sacks from the interior in 2010.

He doesn’t appear to be the type of player who could move to the outside and become a natural rush end, but the Ravens could certainly benefit from having another player on the field who is capable of pressuring opposing quarterbacks.

Wilkerson stood on most of his Combine numbers, posting only a 29 inch vertical at his Pro Day in Philadelphia.

He’s a late first round/early second round type of player. The only question will be whether or not he’s a true fit for a Ravens team that doesn’t really have a need for him.

QB Jeremiah Masoli (Mississippi)

masoli

In draft season, he’s been known as Jeremiah “Red Flag” Masoli.

We all know the history of Masoli’s transgressions.

In 2005, Masoli was forced to spend time in juvenile hall for his participation in a robbery. After transferring from City College of San Francisco to Oregon in 2008, Masoli kept his nose clean for a short time. That came to a halt when plead guilty to second degree burglary in March 2010. After a later arrest for marijuana possession in 2010, Masoli was dismissed by Ducks coach Chip Kelly but managed to catch on at Ole Miss.

Beyond his transgressions, Masoli showed himself capable of being a solid player at times. In three years of playing time, Masoli put up 5,930 yards passing and threw for 42 TD’s. He also ran for 1,930 yards and 29 TD’s. At his Pro Day this week in Oxford he worked out as both a quarterback and as a running back, with the thought being that teams could choose to use him as a Wildcat option at the next level.

The Ravens have historically (mostly) stayed away from players like Masoli. But after cutting Troy Smith following the 2010 Training Camp, they were left without a mobile QB on the roster-and had to use position players in practice to replicate opposing mobile QB’s. It would be safe to assume they’d like to get a mobile QB on the roster somehow.

It’s also no guarantee that Masoli gets drafted at all. In fact, the chances are probably no greater than 50-50 at best. The likelihood of Head Coach John Harbaugh considering a player like Masoli would go up if the team could add him as an undrafted free agent instead of using a pick on him.

Of course, UFA’s can’t be signed this year until a new labor deal is in place-but let’s worry about that another day.

My guess is that Masoli doesn’t end up in Purple and Black…but he’s certainly an interesting player to discuss between now and the end of April.

DE Adrian Clayborn (Iowa)

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EbXmQTn_D7w[/youtube]

The Ravens had an obvious presence at the Hawkeyes’ Pro Day in Iowa City, giving additional evidence that the team is legitimately considering using an early pick on the Clayborn to bolster their D-Line.

Clayborn is an impressive 6’3″, 281 pound specimen who electrified the Big Ten with 63 tackles and 11 sacks in 2009. Those numbers dropped off in 2010, as the big man managed just 52 tackles and only four sacks. The drop-off was particularly alarming considering Clayborn did not miss any time due to injury.

Clayborn’s size and speed (4.78 40) as well as a solid week at the Senior Bowl have kept him in the conversation as a first round pick-perhaps a player who could go off the board even before the Ravens select at 26.

D-Line coach Clarence Brooks needs outside help. Clayborn certainly appears to be the type of player capable of creating pressure on his own. That might very well make him a perfect fit in Baltimore.

FB Shaun Chapas (Georgia)

chapas

AJ Green may have been the star of the Bulldogs’ Pro Day, but there were other players working out who were worth paying attention to as well.

Chapas could be intriguing to the Ravens whether or not FB Le’Ron McClain departs as an unrestricted free agent.

Chapas is a 6’2″, 247 pound bruiser who was clocked with a 4.87 40 time in Indianapolis. He’s not likely to be an explosive Chris Cooley-type of H-Back; but instead is expected to play a natural fullback role.

Offensive Coordinator Cam Cameron appears to be in the market for that exact type of player right now.

Making the case more compelling for Chapas, he received the types of honors during his time in Athens that the Ravens would like to see.

From GeorgiaDogs.com:

“At team’s annual awards Gala, earned team’s Coaches Leadership Award for Special Teams, the Leon Farmer Award for dedication to the strength and conditioning program and the David Jacobs Award as the player who by example portrays courage, spirit, character and determination.”

Sounds like someone Director of Player Personnel Eric DeCosta and company would be interested in if you ask me. As the Draft goes deeper into Saturday, he would almost have to be a consideration.

LB Alex Wujciak (Maryland)

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VxpcfXl-guo[/youtube]

I will admit that I was quite surprised when the former Terrapins standout did not receive an invite to the Combine.

He certainly did everything necessary during his ACC career to earn an invite. He tallied 354 tackles over three seasons in College Park, mixing in three forced fumbles, four interceptions and two touchdowns.

Wujciak certainly doesn’t lack the size (6’3″, 250 pounds) to play an Inside backer position at the next level. Teams might want him to be a bit quicker (his 40 time was 4.79), but he’s never appeared slow in coverage.

Wujciak comes from an athletic family, as his father (Alan Wujciak) was an OL for Notre Dame while his younger bother (Connor Wujciak) plays for Boston College.

At this point most projections have Wujciak as a late round pick at best. The Ravens need inside backer help. Dannell Ellerbe, Tavares Gooden and Jameel McClain have been not quite good enough to lock down a position and Ray Lewis is getting no younger.

Alex Wujciak is no Ray Lewis.

But he’s certainly deserving of an opportunity to prove himself at the next level.

(Wujciak joined Thyrl Nelson and myself last Thursday on “The Mobtown Sports Beat” on AM1570 WNST-you can hear the conversation in the BuyAToyota.com Audio Vault here at WNST.net.)

CB Richard Sherman (Stanford)

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fzm6HeFS2sE[/youtube]

Continuing the trend of “intriguing prospects”, there are few players in the Draft more intriguing than Sherman.

Fact: Sherman’s 6’3″, 195 pound frame and 4.54 (40) speed are solid if not ideal for a NFL CB prospect.

Other fact: Sherman has played corner for just two seasons in Palo Alto, and his skills (despite 6 interceptions in his Cardinal career) are still considered to be raw.

He’s going to be a later selection if he’s selected at all. The Ravens will have at least some familiarity with him as Harbaugh’s brother (Jim Harbaugh) coached him at Stanford before accepting the head coaching gig with the San Francisco 49ers.

He’s obviously not “the answer” for the Ravens secondary; but he could be a project worth taking a shot on as the Ravens will continue to face big receivers in the AFC North. The Cleveland Browns are expected to be in the market for the aforementioned Green, which would give the division one more matchup problem.

RB Ryan Williams (Virginia Tech)

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MGAQP1Rwsus[/youtube]

The Ravens are expected to part ways with RB Willis McGahee and Le’Ron McClain may be on the way out as well.

That would leave the team with just Ray Rice & Jalen Parmele (and Curtis Steele, Matt Lawrence and Jason McKie for what it’s worth) in their backfield.

They’re going to need to upgrade somehow.

Williams could very well be an option. His size is more similar to Rice (5’9″, 212 pounds) with pretty good speed (trimmed his 40 time down to 4.53 at his Pro Day in Blacksburg).

Williams had an explosive season in 2009 (1,655 yards rushing and 21 TD’s), but a hamstring injury cost him four games in 2010. His numbers were trimmed to 477 yards rushing and nine TD’s as he split time with fellow Hokies back Darren Evans.

The Ravens will have to pay extra close attention to the injury-but they’ll also have to determine if Williams would be a fit behind Rice. He’ll likely be a Friday night pick-and might end up coming off the board to early to be the choice in Baltimore.

Flexing my mic muscles since 1983…

-G

Comments Off