Tag Archive | "New York Jets"

Torrey Smith

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“The Nasty Purple Pre-Game Show 3-Things We’re Looking-4 in Jets-Ravens

Posted on 02 October 2011 by Ryan Chell

Ryan’s List

1. Torrey Smith building off last week’s 5 catch, 152 yard, 3 TD performance

Torrey Smith

2. Lean on Ray Rice after Darren McFadden’s performance against New York Jets last week (19 rushes, 171 yards, 2 TDs)

Darren McFadden

3. Ravens O-line has to pick up Jets’ exotic blitzes from Rex Ryan/Mike Pettine

Mike Pettine

Glenn’s List

1. Don’t give up on Torrey Smith

Torrey Smith

2. Control the outside on offense and defense

Shonn Greene

3. Make Mark Sanchez uncomfortable

Mark Sanchez

Tune into WNST after Ravens-Jets for your ‘Nasty Purple Post-Game Show” sponsored by Courtland Hearth and Hardware and First Choice Automotive! WNST-We Never Stop Talking Baltimore Sports!

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Andre Gurode

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Andre Gurode: “I got the call from the Ravens, and it turned out to be one of the best things that ever happened to me”

Posted on 01 October 2011 by Ryan Chell

When the Ravens signed Andre Gurode a week before the start of the regular season, the move was meant to be a security blanket should incumbent center Matt Birk-who was coming off micro-fracture knee surgery in the preseason-not been healthy to start the opener against Pittsburgh.

The Ravens signed Gurode to a one year deal worth 3 million dollars, and the move turned out to be a blessing in disguise-but for reasons unexpected.

Birk returned from surgery healthy and ready to go, and it looked as if Gurode was going to be relegated to backup duty after being a full-time starter since 2003 with the Dallas Cowboys.

However, when Ravens left guard Ben Grubbs was diagnosed with a foot/ankle injury after Baltimore’s Week 1 victory against the Steelers-and his Week 2 replacement Mark LeVoir struggled in his place-Gurode got the nod to start at guard last week against the St. Louis Rams.

Andre Gurode

And while the Ravens were lucky to have brought him into Owings Mills, Gurode felt even more honored to have that respect thrown his way after his ugly divorce with Dallas after they cut him after nine seasons.

Gurode joined Luke Jones on “The Morning Reaction” Friday and said that he’s here to prove the Cowboys made the wrong decision thinking he was slow, overweight, and on the decline.

“My ending in Dallas…I didn’t know too much about it,” Gurode told Jones. “It was a situation where it was a contract issue, and they told me my services weren’t needed and I had to look elsewhere.”

That elsewhere was Baltimore. He also had interest from the New England Patriots and the Detroit Lions according to reports.

“I got the chance to play with a great organization in the Baltimore Ravens,” Gurode said. “Everything has been absolutely beautiful here. I love the organization, love how everything is being run, and it’s just a great place to play.”

However, he had to make some sacrifices on his part in taking a backup role on the Ravens offensive line. He also had to show that he could still be versatile to Andy Moeller and John Harbaugh that they could trust him at another position other than center-just as he did filling in for Grubbs at LG last week against St. Louis.

Gurode-a six-time Pro-Bowler at center and two-time All-Pro-had not played guard since  2004. He admitted that it took getting adjusted to working with someone else snapping the ball next to him as opposed to him doing it himself.

“It has been difficult, but at the same time you need to do your best,” Gurode said. “Going from center to guard, you know you’re used to making calls, snapping the ball with your right hand, and then you find yourself getting comfortable..at the start of the play.”

To most, it would have been a struggle. But Gurode said his teammates and coaches made the switch one of the easiest adjustments he’s ever made.

“I have some great teammates,” said Gurode. “I have some great coaches. They helped me work through it, and each day-each week-I’ll keep getting better, and learn the offense a little better.”

Two Ravens he has really enjoyed working with are his fellow offensive lineman in Bryant McKinnie-who also joined the Ravens late in training camp-and a guy usually lining up across from Gurode in Cory Redding.

“It’s been real interesting because I’ve know Bryant for a little while too,” Gurode said of McKinnie-who also was selected in the 2002 NFL Draft. “There are times when I may not say the correct call or I may not know what’s going on.”

“So I’ll ask him what’s happening…I’m never prideful to ask for help.”

And if you think McKinnie and Gurode are tied, Redding and Gurode go back way farther.

The two were prep teammates at North Shore High School in Houston Texas, and despite Gurode making his way to Colorado for college and Redding becoming a Longhorn, the two re-united in the Ravens locker room almost by accident.

“When I walked into the locker room, I just wound up putting my bags next to a boarded-up locker really not paying attention to whose locker it was,” Gurode laughed. “No one else in the organization knew that Cory and I were teammates. It was very much a surprise to come back, and find my locker set up right next to his.”

He feels blessed to be re-united with a close friend of his in Redding, and considers it quite the honor going up against him in practice every day.

“We’ve been playing together for a very, very long time. It was really special to finally be on the same team…and playing for the same organization, so it was very much a special treat.”

And after Cory, Bryant, Ozzie Newsome, and John Harbaugh welcomed him in, the landslide continued.

He really feels like a Raven now and a member of a family more than ever.

“It was just a whole group effort on the team…just getting here, fitting in, and them accepting me. The rest has been playing out like it’s supposed to.”

WNST thanks Andre Gurode and hopes to continue seeing him making contributions on the field! WNST-We Never Stop Talking Baltimore Sports!

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Haruki Nakamura

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Injured Ravens S Nakamura biggest regret in missing Jets-Ravens? Hitting Derrick Mason

Posted on 01 October 2011 by Ryan Chell


Haruki Nakamura

That’s how Ravens safety Haruki Nakamura felt last Sunday in the Ravens 37-7 victory over the St. Louis Rams after suffering a knee injury on a punt return with 0:27 seconds left in the first quarter.

“Usually if I can, I’m going to walk off the field on my own power,” he told Glenn Clark on “The Reality Check” Thursday. “That’s just how I’ve always been. I hate getting carried off the field.”

“It was one of those things, and when I was out there on my hands and knees and I couldn’t catch my breath-it was something I had never felt before.”

And what’s worse was he felt it was a low blow for a team getting blown out by the end of the first quarter.

“We were rushing the punter and we were 30 or 40 yards off the ball,” Nakamura told Clark. “Some guy came up from behind me and pushed me dead in the back.”

“He slammed me on the turf, so basically it was a cheap shot that’s going to put me out for a couple weeks,” Nakamura said.

Nakamura injured his PCL ligament in his right knee on the play, and the Ravens coaching staff initially feared that the safety would miss a considerable amount of time-maybe even the whole season-with a torn knee.

Luckily for John Harbaugh and the Ravens, an MRI only showed a sprain to the ligament and Nakamura told Clark that he could return after the bye week three Sundays from now against the Houston Texans.

“I think I’m the only lucky guy whose ever sprained it,” Nakamura laughed. “You never really hear about that injury, but it’s kind of weird that it happened to me.

Nakamura was just glad to hear that he could return to the football field in a matter of weeks as opposed to a year.

“Initially the doctors told me it was torn,” he said. “You can imagine what went through my head when I heard that…but [this] is easy to come back from.”

What makes it even worse for Nakamura is that he’s going to miss one of the biggest games of the year against his former coach in Rex Ryan and the Jets.

He’s already experienced that frustration this week at Owings Mills being in the training room all day while his teammates are out at practice.

“I’ve just been rehabbing very hard…actually I’ve been kind of bored…”, Nakamura admitted.

Still, he knows what Rex is going to bring to the table defensively Sunday night, and he knows that his other teammates share those similar expectations.

“You can almost call their plays,” Nakamura said. “The thing with Rex is it’s all about timing. Him and Mike Pettine have great timing when to call pressures and when to hold back.”

Nakamura put on his coaching hat and said that in order to beat the Jets and shut Rex Ryan up, you have to hit them in the mouth on both sides of the ball.

“We don’t back down from anything. We’re going to go right at them. That’s always been our approach and we’re not going to let them dictate our gameplan.”

His last regret?

Not being able to hit former Raven WR Derrick Mason going over the middle.

“It’s like hitting your brother. It’s all part of the game, ” Nakamura replied. “Obviously we’re not going to take it easy on Mase just cause he was here. It’s going to be a fun game.”

WNST thanks Haruki Nakamura for joining Glenn Clark on “The Reality Check” If you missed the interview, check it out at the BuyaToyota.com Audio Vault and be sure to tune in Sunday at 6PM for your “Nasty Purple Pre-Game Show” leading up to kickoff!

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Dennis Pitta

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Ravens TE Dennis Pitta on preparation for Jets: “It comes down to those three hours we are going to be out on the field”

Posted on 30 September 2011 by Ryan Chell

With the New York Jets coming into Baltimore Sunday night with former Ravens defensive coordinator Rex Ryan at the helm of the defense, points and scoring opportunities may be at a minimum for Joe Flacco, Cam Cameron, and the offense.

The Ravens play-makers-like Anquan Boldin, Ray Rice, and even the likes of Torrey Smith after his 3-TD performance Sunday versus St. Louis-are probably going to be focused on, so others are going to have to make contributions in the passing game.

One of those under-the-radar guys, but a player who is already making contributions in 2011-is Ravens tight end Dennis Pitta, who along with teammate Ed Dickson have been given the task of replacing an institution in Todd Heap, and he joined Glenn Clark on “The Reality Check” this week to talk about how he’s settling into a familiar offense with some new faces.

Including his own.

Dennis Pitta

“It’s really been a lot of fun,” Pitta said, “being a part of things and being able to contribute. I have a big role on special teams as well and it’s fun to be out there and competing with our guys.”

Pitta has seen action in all three games this year and started one. He has four catches for 69 yards, after catching one pass for one yard his rookie year in 2010.

He and Dixon both have had big shoes to fill in replacing the franchise’s best tight end in Todd Heap, but Pitta said they have handled the pressure well.

“This is a business where there is a ton of pressure,” Pitta said. “When it’s your turn to step up and the opportunity presents itself, you’ve got to perform and Ed and I knew that going into this year.”

But both tackled that adversity head on.

“We felt that pressure, but it’s all about being able to manage it and being confident in what you can do.”

And with playing time, he has gained confidence game-by-game. He has been an instrumental part in the Ravens’ two tight-end sets-not only making strides running routes but also protecting quarterback Joe Flacco along the line and helping to seal the edge for running back Ray Rice to run the football.

“You just have to continue to work hard and continue to prepare yourself as best you can,” the former BYU tight end said. “You know everyone has things to work on and I have things to work on…and I will continue to do so.”

Just getting more playing time with the first-team-let alone the reps in practice-have he and Flacco on the same page, he says.

“We have conversations everyday when we are practicing and when we are watching film,” Pitta said. “It’s about spending time with somebody and the repetition of running plays and catching balls from him.”

“That’s where that chemistry is developed…and it’s something that takes time.”

Facing the Jets defense Sunday night is even more reason for Flacco and Pitta to be on the same page as the quarterback may have to rely on his tight ends over the middle and in the short passing game.

“They are a lot like our defense,” Pitta told Clark. “You are going to see pressure from all over the field and all kinds of blitzes and some funky looks that a lot of other teams don’t do.”

Pitta said when it comes to pass-blocking-he’s made sure to do his homework this week with Rex Ryan’s elaborate blitzes coming his way.

“It’s just knowing how to adjust to it and how to pick up those blitzes and get the ball out of your hands quick and be able to run the ball and play physical,” Pitta explained.

Pitta said that it’s a copycat league, and all he really needs to do is look across the line of scrimmage to his own defenders and prepare accordingly to keep the Jets grounded.

“We saw it last year, and we see it every day against our defense,” Pitta laughed. “We should be well-prepared for it.”

And then a week’s worth of hard work is executed into 60 minutes of football.

“It comes down to those three hours we are going to be out on the field and deserving that win,” Pitta replied.

WNST thanks Dennis Pitta for joining “The Reality Check”! Be sure to tune into WNST Sunday for your “Nasty Purple Pre/Post Game Show with Glenn Clark! WNST-We Never Stop Talking Baltimore Sports!

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Week 4 $15.70 MobTown Prop Card

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Week 4 $15.70 MobTown Prop Card

Posted on 27 September 2011 by Thyrl Nelson

It’s back again and the rules are still simple. Submit your predictions to the questions below about the game between Baltimore and New York on Sunday in the comments section and provide a valid email address. The winner gets the $15.70 jackpot and bragging rights. Congrats to Skip for winning week 3 and special thanks to week 2 winner David Libonate for donating his week 2 prize money to WNST’s next charitable venture.


1. Who wins the game? (Baltimore or New York) – 1 pt.


2. Joe Flacco passing yards (over or under 249.5) – 1 pt.


3. Ray Rice total yards from scrimmage (over or under 114.5) – 1 pt.


4. Torrey Smith receptions (over or under 3.5) – 1 pt.


5. Ravens team sacks (over or under 4.5) – 1 pt.


6. Terrell Suggs sacks (over or under 1.75) – 1 pt.


7. Ed Reed interceptions (over or under 0.5) – 1 pt.


8. Mark Sanchez passing TDs (over or under 1.5) – 1 pt.


9. Derrick Mason receptions (over or under 3.5)  – 1 pt.


10. Defensive and special teams TDs both teams combined (over or under 1.5) – 1 pt.


11. Which player scores the first TD? (player’s name) – 5 pts.


12. (tie-breaker) Total points scored both teams combined


*Entries will not be published until after the results are tallied

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MSB Monday Market Watch

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MSB Monday Market Watch

Posted on 19 September 2011 by Thyrl Nelson

5 On The Rise

#1 – Tampa Bay Rays – The Rays took 3 of 4 from the Red Sox this weekend to close the gap in the AL Wild Card to 2 games with 10 games to go for each side. Whether the Sox can manage to hold off the Rays or not, they’re in trouble as injuries have taken another mighty toll on Boston this season. Still, after leading Tampa by 9 games as late as September 3rd, there will be no legitimate excuses for the Sox if they should somehow complete one of the worst late season collapses in modern baseball history.


If the Rays somehow find their way in, it’ll be to the chagrin of not just the Sox but of all of the AL teams who do make the playoffs too as the Rays formidable starting pitching has managed to keep them afloat as the bullpen and lineup have spent most of the year learning on the fly. Although it’s a small sample size, the Rays 11-4 record in their last 15 games suggests that they’re peaking at the right time.


Forecast: The schedule suggests that Boston is still in a pretty good place. Six of their 10 remaining games are on the road, but 3 of those and 7 overall of the last 10 are against Baltimore, against whom the Sox are 8-3 on the year. Their other 4 games are against the Yankees, who the Sox have owned to the tune of 11-4 so far this season. Tampa on the other hand has 6 of 10 games remaining at home and 7 of their remaining 10 against the Yankees, against whom they’re 5-6 on the season. Their other 3 games are against the Blue Jays, against whom they’re 10-5 so far.


With a magic number of 7 and 10 of their remaining 11 games against the Rays and Red Sox, the Yankees aren’t yet out of the woods either, igniting essentially 2 pennant races in the AL East when Yanks and Sox both appeared to be foregone conclusions just a couple of weeks ago.



#2 – The Atlantic Coast Conference – ACC fans have been waiting anxiously in the dark as the most recent round of Super-Conference manifest destinies began taking shape again. As all of the moves have seemingly been football driven, fans of the basketball first ACC sat hopefully expecting the conference to do it’s best to keep their 12-member alliance intact and maintain the status quo. Now it seems that the ACC may be on the fast track to becoming the nation’s first super conference as over the weekend news of the intents of both Syracuse and Pitt to join the ACC ranks began to spread.


At the very least, the 2 new members provide the conference with an insurance policy should the SEC come calling officially for Clemson and Florida State, but with UConn already rumored to be poised to follow, it seems but a mere formality that the ACC will add one more player to the mix and become an official Super-Conference with a giant TV network to follow. West Virginia, or on an outside shot South Carolina might be the best bets at #16.


Lost in the euphoria, but no less important this weekend, Miami upset #17 Ohio State, Clemson upset #21 Auburn and Maryland showed well (in the box score at least) against #18 West Virginia.


Forecast: So far so good it seems. Again, at the very least the ACC will be able to maintain 12 members should a couple succumb to the temptations of the SEC or some other budding Super-Conference and will be able to continue staging their own conference title games in football. At best, the ACC could win the race to 16 and become the first of likely many Super-Conferences. Keep in mind though that the most recent versions of ACC expansion didn’t exactly bring about the anticipated results or football credibility that seemed all but foregone at the time.



#3 – Cam Newton – The controversial Heisman trophy / National Championship winning quarterback turned controversial first round (first overall) draft pick of the Panthers unleashed his second straight 400+ yard passing performance en route to his second straight loss to begin his NFL career. Clearly he’d rather be winning and shining, but for now, he’s shining enough to have us all impressed, shocked and mesmerized. Shredding the suspect Cardinals defense in week 1 was impressive enough, that he was able to do it to the defending World Champs while keeping them against the ropes for most of the game after they had spent a week dissecting his tape is flat out amazing. If the youngster keeps playing like that, the wins will surely follow…as will more accolades.


Forecast: He’ll get a chance at the Jags next week and might be able to muster that elusive first win. After that, the schedule gets kind of hairy for a while. He’ll continue to sling it you can bet, and will learn some tough lessons along the way. The funniest thing may be that sooner or later teams will have to adjust to his ability to sling it all over the field, and when they do, Cam will get his chance to showcase the wheels that gained him so much notoriety last season at Auburn. It’s an unbelievable start to an NFL career, begging the simple question what will the kid do next?



#4 – Detroit Lions – The Lions picked up their second straight win to begin the season on Sunday and in so doing justified the faith of tons of pre-season prognosticators who thought the Lions to be on the rise. The interesting part of the Lions ascendance however is that so far it least it hasn’t been based on the brick wall that will be Nick Fairley and Ndamukong Suh when the rookie Fairley eventually gets onto the field; instead the Lions have been getting it done on offense with Matthew Stafford playing the part of polished veteran and Jahvid Best rebounding nicely from an injury plagued 2010.


Forecast: The Lions will have their work cut out for them in a contentious NFC North, and health has to be their biggest concern on the offensive side of the ball. When exactly the Lions official window might open is debatable, but for now they’re at least knocking on the door.



#5 – Robert Griffin III – He entered the season as a lightly regarded Heisman candidate from a lightly regarded Baylor program flying largely under the radar. He emerged from a week 1 shootout with TCU (on the back of 359 yards passing and 5 TD) as RG3 and at the forefront of the Heisman conversation. After a 15-day hiatus Griffin and the Bears returned to action on Sunday and RG3 backed up his performance with a 20 for 22 night for a modest 265 yards and 3 TD, while adding 78 yards on the ground for good measure.


Forecast: The Bears will be looking at the Big-12 portion of their schedule soon enough affording Griffin plenty of chances in the national spotlight. And while the Bears may not be able to hold their own against top notch foes (TCU would beg to differ) Griffin might, and the need to keep his foot on the gas could lead to some seriously gaudy numbers along the way.



5 On The Slide


#1 – Professional Boxing – The fact that Floyd “Money” Mayweather was fighting “Vicious” Victor Ortiz on Saturday night (for an outrageous pay-per-view price tag of $69.99) should be in and of itself another proverbial “black eye” for boxing. This is after all the 147 pound division, touted by most as boxing’s best, yet the best match-up they could muster on that night for the best boxer of his generation was a hard punching young southpaw just 2 years removed from quitting in the ring against a middling Marcos Maidana. That Floyd Mayweather has not yet fought Manny Pacquiao is an embarrassment to the sport of boxing and to the otherwise cleaned out by Mayweather 147-pound division. The action that took place in the ring…well that was kind of embarrassing too.


History will remember Floyd winning by a cheap shot, but that’s more likely as a result of our feelings about Floyd as a despicable human being than as a result of what actually happened in the ring on Saturday night. For 2 of the 3 full rounds Floyd landed easily and won decisively. In the middle round, Ortiz showed enough heart and offense to compel some to see it his way, but 2 of the 3 judges at ringside scored that one for Mayweather too. In the 4th Ortiz got aggressive, bullied Mayweather into a corner and then inexplicably charged him like a crazed bull with the crown of his head landing square in Mayweather’s face. That would be the fight’s only illegal shot, but not it’s last controversial one.


Immediately after butting Mayweather, as referee Joe Cortez attempted to step in and separate the fighters, Ortiz began apologizing to Mayweather. Ortiz hugged Mayweather and even kissed him on the cheek before being led to the center of the ring by Cortez to make the point deduction official. When the fighters got back together Ortiz again hugged Mayweather. Mayweather didn’t appear to reciprocate the hug and stood there arms out waiting to resume the action, which he did as soon as Ortiz backed away, landing a quick left followed by a crushing right that left Ortiz on the ground and unable to beat the count.


We’ll remember Mayweather’s cheap shot although his was legal, and forget too that he was dominating Ortiz in a way that suggested he’d end it sooner rather than later and that Mayweather may have been rightly enraged at Ortiz’ illegal and intentional head butt. What we won’t remember is a great fight or one that was worth the buy as neither was the case on Saturday.


Forecast: Mayweather will spend another year or so flaunting and burning (literally) the $25 million plus he made from this farce while we all wait anxiously for him to step in front of Pacquiao and into the beating that so many have been waiting to see him get. Mayweather will get paid again, likely beat Pacquiao too and continue to be a general A-hole. And we’ll keep giving him money.



#2 – Baltimore Ravens – The Ravens backed up their impressive week one domination over the Pittsburgh Steelers by being beaten in all three phases of the game by the Tennessee Titans and are now left to reevaluate their estimations of their own greatness.


Throughout the Harbaugh era these Ravens have been far too professional to overlook opponents, even when those opponents don’t seem to have much of a realistic chance at winning against them. Or maybe, as we look back at games like Carolina and Buffalo in 2010, perhaps Sunday was the first time that the Ravens paid the price for taking a second division caliber team lightly. Regardless, on Sunday the Ravens had their proverbial lunches eaten by the Titans and then were charged with cleaning up the scraps when their bully nemeses were through.


The Ravens will surely have to pick up those scraps quickly and put them to use against St. Louis as for now at least, the loss served to bring the Steelers back into a tie for the division lead (albeit only week 2). There are plenty of wins to be had on the Ravens schedule; the question may simply be whether the team is professional enough to go about collecting them.


Forecast: This should serve as the wake up call that a team as professional as these Ravens have been shouldn’t have needed in the first place. They’ll get St. Louis coming off of a short week before returning home for a slugfest with the Jets. The Steelers meanwhile get the Manning-less Colts next week.



#3 – Arian Foster – Last year’s improbable rushing champ started this season without the fullback who had cleared holes for him to run through last season and with company in the backfield in Ben Tate who the Texans envisioned as the starter before losing him to injury last year. He continued his trek by injuring his hamstring, calling fantasy owners concerned about his health for their own reasons sick, tweeted images of his MRI and proclaimed himself ready for week 1. He wasn’t.


Ben Tate though was, possibly compelling Foster to rush back to action this week against the Dolphins, where he rushed for 33 yards on 10 carries before re-aggravating the hamstring and coming out of the game for good. Ben Tate in the meantime has gone over the century mark on the ground in each of the Texans first 2 games and will likely remain a big part of the mix with or without Foster.


Forecast: The smart thing would seem to be to rest Foster until his hamstring issues are clearly behind him. More likely though, Foster, gamer that he is, will continue trying to rush himself back and struggle with the injury all season. Either way, Ben Tate seems to be a viable part of the running game for the foreseeable future and for now a better option than Foster.



#4 – Chiefs, Seahawks and Colts – The Manning-less Colts looked terrible again, this time at home against the Cleveland Browns. The already injury riddled Chiefs suffered another embarrassing defeat and in the process may have been hit with their worst injury so far, apparently losing Jamaal Charles for the season with an ACL injury. And the Seahawks although mostly healthy look like they may be the worst team in football without Matt Hasselbeck at quarterback.


All three playoff teams from 2010 are off to 0-2 starts and looking like long shots to get back there.


Forecast: Count all three squarely in the Andrew Luck Sweepstakes.



#5 – The NBA Season – With each passing day, the likelihood of seeing an entire NBA season or any part of a season at all get bleaker and bleaker. The more concerning part, for the league and its fans, should probably be that no one really seems to care very much. Unlike the NFL lockout, which had us spinning and clamoring for updates daily, everyone seems resigned to the expectation that here simply won’t be an NBA this year. Folks were missing football despite the fact that we never actually missed any football at all. Judging by the attention or lack thereof to the NBA’s labor issues, basketball…we’ll see you when we see you.


Forecast: This isn’t getting better anytime soon. Check back in February.

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NFL Week 1 game notes: Ravens vs. Steelers

Posted on 09 September 2011 by Chris Pika

Week 1 of the 2011 NFL schedule features a pair of teams that have waged one of the fiercest rivalries in the NFL over the past decade, the Pittsburgh Steelers and the Baltimore Ravens.

Sunday’s 1 pm (CBS) game in M&T Bank Stadium may prove to be everything the NFL Kickoff opener was not Thursday night — a healthy dose of strong defense.

In our second edition of “From the notes …” for Week 1, we look inside the weekly PR game notes produced by the Steelers and Ravens PR departments and the NFL Communications office via the Elias Sports Bureau.

Pittsburgh won the AFC North last season with a 12-4 record. The Steelers were the AFC Champions, and the club advanced to Super Bowl XLV, where they lost to the Green Bay Packers:

SUDDEN START: Due to the labor impasse the 2011 offseason was all but lost, leaving just over a week for teams to sign undrafted rookies, free agents and their own draft picks that they selected back in late April.

For the Steelers the main focus was on resigning their own players to keep a nucleus in tact that had reaped tremendous success over the past few years.

Pittsburgh’s appearance last year in Super Bowl XLV marked the franchise’s third trip to the title game since 2005. The Steelers bring back 20 players that started in that Super Bowl.

Pittsburgh will also return 18 players that started at least 11 games last season, including 15 players that started 14 or more games.

Key players that the Steelers resigned in the offseason included CB Ike Taylor, LB LaMarr Woodley, OT Willie Colon, OT Jonathan Scott, K Shaun Suisham and NT Chris Hoke. Pittsburgh also signed LB Lawrence Timmons to a five-year contract extension.

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Chuck Pagano

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LB Brendon Ayanbajedo on new DC Chuck Pagano: “Chuck’s the kind of guy who wants to punch you in the mouth”

Posted on 09 August 2011 by Ryan Chell

Over the weekend, the Ravens saw veteran WR Derrick Mason take his talents up 1-95 to New York to join longtime Ravens defensive coordinator Rex Ryan and the New York Jets.

Several ex-Ravens have made the trip up to the Big Apple to follow in the footsteps of Coach Ryan, but several of the current defensive players here in Baltimore are putting a lot of faith in their newest defensive coordinator, Chuck Pagano, who is succeeding Greg Mattison after Mattison left to become DC at the University of Michigan.

Chuck Pagano

And Pagano-in his first several interactions with the media as defensive coordinator-is emphasizing the fact that he has just as much faith in his players to make plays as they have in him to draw them up.

“We’ve got some great guys,” Pagano said. “They’re passionate about football. They were really eager to get back in here and go to work after the long layoff, and the energy level’s great. They’re flying around having fun, and that’s all we can ask for.”

It will be on Pagano to try and re-direct a defense that finished 10th last year in the league in YPG (318.9) while keeping the respectable 4th-overall in PPG (16.9).

Baltimore finished 21th best in the league last year in passing yards allowed while focusing on the stopping the run will hopefully still be a tendency (5th best in the NFL).

Already, Pagano is getting comparisons to Rex Ryan when he was running the Ravens defense because Pagano comes with that same tenacity as Ryan did-while at the same time being loved and respected by the players.

“He’s a little more toward Rex’s style being emotional while Coach Mattison already kept a level head,” linebacker Jarret Johnson said at the podium last weekend. “Rex would get pissed off and bring the house, and I think [Coach Pagano] might be somewhere in between with his coaching knowledge…but the ability to relate to him, it’s awesome.”

“Everyone loves Chuck,” CB Lardarius Webb told Glenn Clark on “The Afternoon Drive” last week. “Chuck’s so smart, and he knows how to interact with the players. Everybody likes him. I can’t find a player who doesn’t like Chuck.”

Greg Mattison took a lot of heat last year for conservative play calls in key situations, and to some-including several Raven players-it didn’t seem like the Baltimore defense other teams were used to seeing on a weekly basis.

Webb thinks Coach Pagano is going to make people forget about the team’s struggles from a year ago and get back in key with what Rex Ryan had in store with this defense when he last left in 2008.

“I’ve seen a lot of defensive coordinators,” Webb said, “but all the ones for the Ravens always try to attack. That’s what we do, and if we’re not doing that, we’re not playing like the Ravens.”

Pagano agreed.

“When people put on our tape, it needs to look like we’ve got thirteen, fourteen, or fifteen guys out there. We need a smart football team…one that doesn’t beat itself, and plays with great fundamentals,” Pagano noted. “We expect to go out there and shut people out and play great defense.”

Johnson has noticed the changes already and is favor of them 100 percent.

“Overall with scheme, you can see his influence but he’s very aggressive. I really like his mentality and it’s been really great so far.”

Linebacker Brendon Ayanbadejo said that in his opportunities with the first-team defense in training camp, he already sees Coach Pagano’s new aggressive style and tendencies.

“Chuck’s never scared,” Ayanbadejo said. “Chuck’s the kind of guy who wants to punch you in the mouth.”

Safety Haruki Nakamura-who probably knows Pagano the best out of anybody-agreed with his fellow defender about his boss.

“Chuck’s personality speaks for itself,” Nakamura said. “He acts like the good guy, but he has that dark side when coaching the defense.”

Ayanbadejo said that despite the fact that Pagano served as the secondary coach the last several years, Pagano made sure to forge relationships with everyone on the defense even outside his position guys.

Ayanbadejo said that can only help Pagano get the best out of them.

“We’ve been dealing with Chuck for four years now on all different levels.”

“He’s got a special relationship with every single guy,” he said. “You can go up to Chuck and talk to him because he started out as a position guy, and he wasn’t in this bubble.”

Pagano said the players have made the promotion that much easier on him and shown him that level of respect right back.

“I’ve known the guys, and they know me,” Pagano said. “They know my personality, and I know their personality. It was an easy transition.”

And we’ll get to see Pagano at work for the first time Thursday up in Philadelphia in Week 1 of the preseason.

“What we’re looking for is good communication, lining up and making the checks,” Pagano said Monday. “It’s all about being on the same page…so coming out of this first one, we’ll know more.”

Be sure to follow @WNST all week as we gear you up for Week 1 of preseason action! Follow me on Twitter @WNST and @RyanChell87 for everything Ravens! WNST-We Never Stop Talking Baltimore Sports!

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Derrick Mason makes it official; flying off with the Jets

Posted on 06 August 2011 by Ryan Chell

In a move that was expected for several days, fears finally become official for Ravens fans as the franchise’s all-time leading receiver, Derrick Mason, announced on Twitter that he’s signing a one-year contract with the New York Jets.

“Jet fuel is full; time to fly” he announced on his Twitter feed, @deemason85.

This news comes one day after the Ravens lost out on another free agent wide receiver acquistion in Malcom Floyd, who returned to San Diego signing a two-year contract.

Mason will be re-united with Jets head coach Rex Ryan-Baltimore’s longtime ex defensive coordinator-and a host of other former Ravens in New York.

“I’m looking forward to working under Rex and rejoining some familiar faces,” Mason said in a statement to ESPN and FoxSports.

“After a lot of very thoughtful and careful consideration, conversations with my family and prayer, I have decided to sign with the New York Jets,” he continued. “I’m looking forward to working under Rex and rejoining some familiar faces.”

After playing his first eight seasons in Tennessee, the former Michigan State Spartan transferred his services over to the Baltimore Ravens-catching 471 balls for 5,777 yards and 29 TDs.

The Ravens will meet up again with Mason in Week 4 of the regular season when the Jets come to Baltimore October 2nd to take on in the Ravens in primetime.

With Mason gone, the Ravens will either stick with their receiving corps of Anquan Boldin, draft picks Torrey Smith and Tandon Doss, and free agent acquistion James Hardy, or they will look to add one of the few veterans left in free agency including Steve Smith(NYG), Jerricho Cotchery, or ex-Ravens Mark Clayton and T.J. Houshmandzadeh.

Cotchery was cut by the Jets last week after failing his physical and Cotchery told New York media last week that he was released to make room for Mason on the roster.

Be sure to follow WNST on Twitter as we get ready for the 2011 Ravens season! Hop on the Bus Trip to Philadelphia this week with us!

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Malcom Floyd spurns Ravens; signs 2-year deal to return to SD

Posted on 05 August 2011 by Ryan Chell

Disappointment settled into Baltimore Friday, as FA WR and Ravens target Malcom Floyd signed a two-year deal this afternoon to return to the San Diego Chargers, per a league source.

The move was confirmed by ESPN’s Adam Schefter.

“We have a lot of happy Chargers today with the return of Malcom,” General Manager A.J. Smith said in a team release. “He has been an integral part of our team and it’s great to have him back. He is a very talented receiver and that will just add to the continuity of our offensive unit.”

Floyd caught 37 passes for 717 yards and six touchdowns in 2010 despite missing five games. He enjoyed the best game of his career with eight catches for 213 yards against Oakland on Oct. 10.

The 6-foot-5, 225-pound receiver, nicknamed “M-80,” signed with San Diego as a college free agent in 2004 and caught Rivers’ first touchdown pass as a rookie.

The move now forces the Ravens to either go into the first week of preseason with the receiving corps they currently in camp (Anquan Boldin, Torrey Smith, James Hardy, Tandon Doss) or reach out to one of the available wide receivers available in former Giants WR Steve Smith, or former Ravens Mark Clayton and Derrick Mason-who could sign with the New York Jets or Tennessee Titans.

-A Team Release from the San Diego Chargers contributed to this report.

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