Posted on 18 July 2014 by WNST Audio
Posted on 18 July 2014 by Luke Jones
Only days away from the official start of training camp, the Ravens announced Friday that they’ve placed defensive tackle Terrence Cody on the active physically unable to perform list.
The move was not unexpected as the fifth-year defensive lineman missed the entire spring after undergoing hip surgery earlier this offseason. The designation allows Cody to return to the practice field whenever he’s ready this summer but keeps him eligible for the reserve PUP list used at the start of the regular season should his recovery take longer than expected.
Coach John Harbaugh said during this spring’s organized team activities that he had expected Cody to be sidelined until training camp. The 2010 second-round pick became an unrestricted free agent this past winter before ultimately signing a one-year, $730,000 contract in early April that included no guaranteed money.
Once regarded as the heir apparent to former Ravens nose tackle Kelly Gregg, Cody never lived up to expectations as he lost his starting job in 2012 after starting all 16 games during the 2011 season. In 56 career games, Cody has collected 45 tackles while primarily playing the nose tackle position.
After missing spring OTAs and seeing the Ravens have such high hopes for 2013 third-round pick Brandon Williams and 2014 second-round pick Timmy Jernigan, Cody will need to have a strong preseason to make the 53-man roster and re-establish himself as an option in the defensive line rotation.
Posted on 14 July 2014 by Nestor Aparicio
3. Giving Peter The Ball & Scabs
“I think they are concerned about litigation, but they feel as we do, that no one wants to litigate but one has to sometimes and the chances for success are excellent. I’m confident that Baltimore is the best applicant for an NFL franchise both from a financial and a fan standpoint.”
– Peter Angelos, May 18, 1994 to The Sun regarding Washington Redskins owner Jack Kent Cooke blocking his rights to buying an NFL franchise
TO UNDERSTAND BALTIMORE’S INNATE YEARNING for a National Football League team is to understand what the Baltimore Ravens have meant to the town, its sports psyche and the league since returning in 1996. After winning Super Bowls in 2001 and 2013, it’s very hard to fathom that time and space between March 28, 1984 and Nov. 6, 1995 – when the town that participated in what became known as The Greatest Game Ever Played in 1958, the place that the Colts of Johnny Unitas, Lenny Moore, Art Donovan, Raymond Berry and Jim Parker roamed on 33rd Street in what was affectionately known as the World’s Largest Outdoor Insane Asylum – was without the NFL.
The Orioles were the toast of Baltimore for sure in the early 1990s but there was always something missing in the Charm City when there weren’t NFL games on those 12 seasons of Sundays in the fall. After a decade of high-speed pursuits by the state of Maryland, Mayor of Baltimore and then Governor William Donald Schaefer, the Maryland Stadium Authority and several bidders in 1993, the city was repeatedly turned down in the expansion process. By the time Angelos had purchased the Orioles, the NFL had found itself in a precarious situation with Baltimore sitting empty and several suitors working every angle possible to steal an existing team and essentially steal another city’s team the way the Colts were stolen off in the middle of the night in 1984 by owner Robert Irsay. And Washington Redskins owner Jack Kent Cooke had tried every possible way to keep Baltimore from ever having a team again and once attempted to get a stadium built in Laurel to ensure it. Schaefer blocked Cooke and then rallied support for civic monies to be held to fund a Baltimore football stadium at Camden Yards if the NFL granted the city a franchise.
Despite all of the efforts of Schaefer and his steward Herb Belgrad, it didn’t work. In early 1995, the city of Baltimore was considered to be further away than ever in a search for a return to the NFL now that a pair of expansion teams had gone to Jacksonville and Charlotte and it was clear St. Louis was in the final stages of swiping the Rams from Los Angeles.
It was a dirty business, this franchise ownership, league gamesmanship, civic hostage taking of teams and the politics of modern sports. But Baltimore and Maryland were a unique player in the revolving door of NFL cities vying for the theft of teams from other markets where old stadia were failing to lure more revenue or ownerships were dissatisfied and looking for a bigger, better deal – led of course by Irsay’s decision to leave the land of pleasant living a decade earlier and the machinations of Al Davis in California with the Raiders.
Because of what the Orioles meant to the area and the success of the downtown revitalization spurred by the facility, Baltimore, Maryland had real money in the state coffers to fund a new stadium in the parking lot adjacent to the baseball stadium at Camden Yards. The area had always been earmarked as the site of a potential NFL team but the only problem was finding one of the existing 30 teams to find the deal too $weet to pass up. There was a lot of money to be made on an NFL franchise in Baltimore and the thought was that with many municipalities hard-lining NFL owners on the stadium issue on behalf of local taxpayers, it was only a matter of time before someone moved a team to the former home of the Colts. The insiders knew just how much money and how rich the Baltimore deal was for an owner who wanted to flee but the media and local fans were very skeptical after a decade of operating in the fog of having lost the Colts.
Once again, Angelos went into his office in Baltimore and tried to don the cape as a civic hero, flying in to save the day and bring the NFL back to his hometown.
But there were several other suitors pushing to be the winner in this grab for a football team in 1994.
Leonard “Boogie” Weinglass left Angelos’ partnership before it ever really began in September 1993 – he never invested in the team after being the original local person who was interested in the club when Eli Jacobs put it up for sale. At the time he said it was in an effort to pursue an NFL team that he hoped to call the Bombers, paying homage to the World War II planes that were built in Eastern Baltimore County at Martin Marietta.
Malcolm Glazer and his sons Bryan and Joel had been one of the three failed efforts by Baltimore to win the 1993 NFL expansion process. Now, they had set their sights on buying the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in their home state of Florida, where they lived in Palm Beach.
Baltimore beer distributors Bob Footlick and Bob Pinkner had also partnered with Robert Schulman in an effort to pursue an NFL team.
And, of course, with his August 1993 victory in the New York auction house and his leading man status as the owner of the Orioles, Angelos was funded and motivated to join Miami’s Wayne Huizenga as the second man to own an NFL and MLB franchise simultaneously. There had previously been language to disallow such a local
Posted on 13 July 2014 by Luke Jones
The latest chapter of a difficult offseason for the Ravens occurred Saturday night as starting cornerback Jimmy Smith was arrested and charged with misdemeanor disorderly conduct.
According to The Sun, Smith was cited for failing to obey a lawful order of a police officer in an incident at The Greene Turtle in Towson. The 25-year-old was assisting an intoxicated female who was unconscious in the bathroom when Baltimore County police arrived on the scene.
Smith told police that he and the woman had taken part in a photo shoot together earlier in the evening. According to the police report, officers found a small bag of what was believed to be cocaine in the woman’s purse.
After medical personnel arrived, Smith allegedly refused police’s requests to step aside, insisting he was trying to help the woman. The defensive back was then arrested after becoming argumentative but did cooperate after being taken into custody. Smith was released at approximately 11:15 p.m. Saturday night after being issued a citation with a court date pending.
This marks the fifth arrest of a Ravens player this offseason, joining running back Ray Rice (felony aggravated assault), offensive lineman Jah Reid (misdemeanor battery), wide receiver Deonte Thompson (felony possession of marijuana), and rookie running back Lorenzo Taliaferro (misdemeanor destruction of property, drunk and disorderly). Rice and Reid were accepted into pretrial intervention programs while the case against Thompson was dismissed. Taliaferro has a court date scheduled at the end of the month.
Despite a checkered past at the University of Colorado that included at least one reported failed drug test and citations for underage drinking and third-degree assault, Smith hadn’t been in trouble with the law since being selected in the first round of the 2011 draft by the Ravens.
After two injury-riddled seasons to begin his career, Smith blossomed to become one of the Ravens’ best defensive players in 2013, collecting 58 tackles, two interceptions, and 15 pass breakups in 16 starts. In his career, Smith has accumulated 112 tackles, four interceptions, and 26 pass breakups.
Veterans report to Owings Mills for the start of training camp on July 23.
Posted on 11 July 2014 by Nick Dorsey
The longtime Texan star is entering the 12th season of his career and Andre Johnson wants out of Houston. Johnson is 33 years old and the light at the end of the tunnel is getting just a bit brighter. After going through a 2-14 season while hauling in passes from Case Keenum on a consistent basis, Johnson deserves an opportunity to be dealt to a contender.
Houston is not far out from contending for the AFC South division title and a shot back into the AFC playoff race, but they are missing the most crucial piece of a franchise. Johnson was patient enough to see if general manager Rick Smith would add a potential franchise quarterback through the draft, but Smith waited around to the fourth round to draft former Pitt QB Tom Savage.
With a quarterback battle ahead in training camp featuring Ryan Fitzpatrick, Case Keenum and Tom Savage, Johnson has a right to be displeased with his situation. A player that has accounted for 221 receptions and 3,005 receiving yards the past two seasons deserves better than the weak QB depth he is presented with at this point in his career.
There are four teams rumored to be interested in the former Hurricane standouts services according to sources around the league. Two of the rumored teams standout as the perfect fit for the six-time pro-bowler.
After an off-season that featured an arms race between two AFC powerhouses, New England might not be done yet making big moves. Everyone saw the struggles Tom Brady had to endure last year with inconsistency at the wide receiver position. New England would be the number one ideal fit for Johnson at this time.
Tom Brady is desperate for a number one receiver and getting a dependable target like Johnson would certainly tickle his fancy. With the uncertainty of Amendola and Gronk’s health, bringing in Johnson would ease Brady’s comfort since Johnson hasn’t missed a game during the last two seasons.
This transaction is a possibility with the familiarity between new Texans head coach Bill O’Brien and Bill Belichick. The Patriots front office has pulled off trades for aging wide outs before such as Randy Moss and Chad Johnson, so this situation is not unrealistic.
There were all kinds of rumors during the off-season about O’Briens interest in acquiring Patriots backup quarterback Ryan Mallett. With New England selecting Jimmy Garoppolo early in the 2014 NFL draft, Mallett is an asset that could be dealt. The Texans need another potential starting quarterback to at least compete in training camp and O’Brien has coached the former Razorback.
With the potential interest in Mallett, the Patriots front office could make this trade a possibility. New England would most likely have to give up a draft pick or two to go along with Mallett to get Johnson in a Pats uniform. This trade would certainly be worth the price because it would make New England the front-runner to represent the AFC in next year’s Super Bowl.
The other destination that could be a reality is the Carolina Panthers. After losing Steve Smith and other parts of the wide receiver corps, Carolina is lacking a true number one target.
The Panthers selected former Seminole Kelvin Benjamin in the first round, but that is not enough for Cam Newton. In a division that features the Saints with the Falcons and Bucs back on the rise, Carolina needs to make this move.
Getting a reliable target like Johnson as Newton’s go-to wide out would keep Carolina in contention for the NFC South title. Adding Johnson to the mix to go along with Benjamin and Olsen would make for a good three-headed receiving corps for Newton to work with.
Benjamin is entering his rookie season and will have to adjust to the speed of the next level. With Johnson entering the mix, it would allow for Benjamin to excel in the red zone while learning to stretch the rest of the field. It would than be up to Johnson and Olsen to work the rest of the field.
NBA Free Agency Dominoes
The NBA free agency period is unlike any other professional sports free agency. The NHL and NFL free agent markets open and teams rush right away to sign the top tier prospects. The NBA period is just a waiting game to see where the first star chooses to go and then the dominoes fall at a fast rate.
The first domino is LeBron James and his decision has the biggest impact on the league. Everyone is awaiting the “Decision 2.0” on whether he goes back home to Cleveland or South Beach because it determines where the rest of the stars of the free agent market go.
Every fan of the sport is frustrated in playing this waiting game, but is there anyone who can be more disturbed than Chris Bosh? The former member of the Heat’s big three has a max deal offer from the Houston Rockets on the table. Bosh is waiting on LeBron because if the King heads back down south, he will follow.
Bosh is playing this waiting game with LeBron, but he should take the max deal offer and become a Houston Rocket. Although the Rockets are in the more difficult Western Conference, the Rockets would have a much better shot at winning than the Heat.
With Bosh entering the mix with James Harden and Dwight Howard, there would be a new big three in the NBA. Harden is a versatile player who can get the rest of his teammates involved regularly or take over a game himself. Howard would make for a dominant presence inside and Bosh would compliment that style the best.
Chris Bosh during his days with the Heat tended to favor shooting around the perimeter. With Howard running the show inside, it would allow for Bosh to do what he feels most comfortable doing at this point in his career.
The Rockets need to react fast with Chandler Parsons signing an offer sheet with the Dallas Mavericks. If LeBron does not make a decision within the next few days, Houston will have to essentially make a salary cap decision to either match the Mavericks offer or hope that Bosh comes to Texas.
The Kings decision does more than just change up destinations for the free agent pool, it changes the landscape of the league. When the Akron native elected to go to south beach, the league went into a power team format. Franchises were signing several stars to one team in attempt to grab the Larry O’Brien trophy.
If the King elects to go back to Cleveland, the short era of superstar teams comes to an end. The Super team era showed its success during the four-season run as the Heat won two out of four championships. The other two losses were to teams that weren’t considered lineups with one or two superstars, but teams that played well together with several different complimentary pieces.
With the success that the Spurs have had in the past few years showing how they all work and play together as one unit, the landscape of the league could be swinging back to that style. When LeBron makes his decision final, that will be something to watch out for as the rest of the players find their homes.
Posted on 10 July 2014 by WNST Staff
Former Minnesota Vikings and Baltimore Ravens center MATT BIRK has been named director of football development, the National Football League announced today.
Birk, a six-time Pro Bowl selection, was a standout center for the Vikings and Ravens from 1998-2012, concluding his career by helping Baltimore to a victory in Super Bowl XLVII. He spent the 2013 season working as an NFL-NFLPA appeals officer.
In his new role, Birk will assist in developing the game at all levels of the sport, from players to coaches to front office personnel. He will also assist in the administration of NFL game day operations.
Birk will guide the continued evolution of the Scouting Combine and Regional Combines as well as the annual all-star games for aspiring NFL players, such as the Senior Bowl and East-West Shrine Game.
“I’m very excited to begin this next chapter of my football career,” says Birk, who becomes the eighth former player to take a job at the NFL office, joining Merton Hanks, Dwight Hollier, Patrick Kerney, James Thrash, David Tyree, Troy Vincent and Charles Way. “It’s a real honor for me to be entrusted with developing the game in so many different ways.”
A native of St. Paul, Minnesota, Birk will play a leading role in the continuing evolution and emergence of the Career Development Symposium, oversee the Bill Walsh Minority Coaching Fellowship program and NFL-NCAA Future Football Coaches Academy initiative.
“Matt’s experience as a terrific NFL player, a model citizen in his community and a reputation as a forward-thinking leader make him ideally suited for this role,” said NFL Executive Vice President of Football Operations TROY VINCENT. “There is no doubt he will continue to make a positive impact on our game and be a trusted advocate for those who play and coach at every level.”
Birk, who will also serve as a liaison for the Football Operations department on the international development of the game and assist in further strengthening the NFL High School Player Development program, will be based at NFL headquarters in New York.
A graduate of Harvard University with a degree in economics, Birk was the recipient of the 2011 Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year award for his excellence on and off the field, including his commitment to emphasizing the importance of education through his H.I.K.E. Foundation (hope, inspiration, knowledge and education).
Birk and his wife, Adrianna, are the parents of six children.
Posted on 27 June 2014 by Luke Jones
The Ravens have made no secrets about their desire to sign the likes of Haloti Ngata, Torrey Smith, and Jimmy Smith to long-term contracts, but Pro Bowl kicker Justin Tucker has been added to that list.
In an interview with the team’s official website, general manager Ozzie Newsome said the Ravens would like to sign the third-year kicker to a new deal as he enters the final year of his rookie contract. An undrafted free agent from the University of Texas, Tucker signed a three-year, $1.44 million contract in 2012 and is scheduled to become a restricted free agent after the season.
Tucker was named to his first Pro Bowl in 2013 after going 30-for-33 on field goal attempts, including a 6-for-6 effort and a franchise record 61-yard field goal to win the Week 15 game against the Detroit Lions. He also made 33 consecutive field goals at one point during the season, the fourth-longest streak in NFL history.
Newsome confirmed the Ravens are also trying to extend two fourth-year players, cornerback Jimmy Smith and wide receiver Torrey Smith, who have both expressed a desire to remain with the team that drafted them in 2011.
“We’re trying to get these done,” Newsome said, “but we haven’t yet.”
Newsome also reiterated a desire to sign Ngata to an extension as he is signed through the 2015 season but carries a $16 million salary cap figure in each of the final two years of his deal, leaving many to ponder his future beyond this year.
The Ravens were able to sign fellow veteran Terrell Suggs earlier in the offseason to a four-year extension that runs through the 2018 season, lowering his 2014 cap number from $12.4 million to $7.8 million in the process.
“We wanted two things from these contracts,” Newsome told the team’s official website. “The first is to create some cap room and the other is to try and make sure these two players remained Ravens forever. We got ‘Sizzle’ done, and we’re still hopeful with Haloti.”
Posted on 24 June 2014 by Luke Jones
This week’s #WNSTSweet16 deals with the all-time greatest streaks in local sports history, ranging from personal accomplishments to team-wide feats at the professional and amateur levels.
More than a few readers and listeners suggested the Orioles’ astonishing 21-game losing streak to begin the 1988 season and the Washington Capitals’ NHL record 17 straight losses in their inaugural season of 1974-75, but this list will focus on the positive — even if both of the aforementioned losing slides are quite historic. Some streaks included in the list played out over only a couple days while others lasted decades, providing plenty of room for discussion and heated debate.
Some streaks are better known than others among the 16 anointed spots, but a greater emphasis was generally placed on individual accomplishments, which explains why the top six streaks come from a single athlete rather than team accolades.
Continue to next page for No. 16
Posted on 20 June 2014 by Luke Jones
A day after head coach John Harbaugh suggested additions would be made to the offseason roster, the Ravens officially signed cornerbacks Aaron Ross and Dominique Franks along with three others on Friday.
Baltimore also signed linebackers Austin Spitler and Nick DiMarco and wide receiver Mike Willie. Three rookie free agents were waived to make room on the 90-man roster as linebacker Xavius Boyd and defensive backs Dexter Moody and Avery Patterson will not be going to training camp as of now.
Ross and Franks made a favorable impression with Harbaugh while trying out during the Ravens’ mandatory minicamp over the last three days and will compete with Chykie Brown and Asa Jackson for the third and fourth cornerback jobs behind starters Jimmy Smith and Asa Jackson.
Spitler is entering his fifth NFL season after spending his first four years with the Miami Dolphins. Primarily a special-teams contributor, the Ohio State product has appeared in 55 career games and recorded 28 special-teams tackles.
Also participating on a tryout basis this week, Willie spent most of the 2012 season on the practice squad of the San Diego Chargers. The Arizona State product did not play in the NFL last season and recorded 72 receptions for 897 yards and nine touchdowns in two seasons with the Sun Devils.
DiMarco originally signed with the New York Jets as a rookie free agent following the draft and played his collegiate football at William Penn and earned first-team Midwest Collegiate Conference honors as a defensive end.
Posted on 18 June 2014 by Luke Jones
OWINGS MILLS, Md. — Ravens linebacker Terrell Suggs spent a decade chasing the elusive Super Bowl glory he finally tasted at the end of the 2012 season.
But he couldn’t have imagined how difficult it was going to be defending that championship following the retirement of Ray Lewis and the free-agent departure of Ed Reed, leaving the Ravens without two Hall of Fame players and leaders who were the heart and soul of the organization. Of course, a myriad of reasons explained an 8-8 season in which the Ravens missed the playoffs, ranging from a porous offensive line and nonexistent running game to an otherwise-solid defense that struggled to create turnovers and get off the field in the fourth quarter.
Suggs and his veteran teammates said all the right things last season when asked how they’d possibly replace the leadership void created by the departures of Lewis, Reed, and other veterans, claiming there were more than enough voices ready to handle the changes. But the 31-year-old linebacker acknowledged Wednesday it was not only “very agonizing” to miss the postseason for the first time since 2007 but also draining going through his first season without two men who’d been older brothers to him for the first 10 years of his career.
“I had those older guys around to build, and it was a period of adjustment,” Suggs said. “It was weird, and it transpired onto the field — not having those guys there. But, the most [important] thing we can learn from last year about those guys not being there is those were once-in-a-lifetime guys — Ed Reed and Ray Lewis — and all we can be is ourselves. They’re not going to come walking through the door to help us win another championship. All you can be is yourself, and that should be enough.”
Even though Suggs posted double-digit sacks for the fifth time in his career in 2013, his play down the stretch didn’t help the Ravens’ push for a sixth straight trip to the postseason as he collected only one sack in the final eight games, leading many to speculate he was playing hurt. His 10 sacks were enough to earn him his sixth invitation to the Pro Bowl, but his play against both the run and pass deteriorated at an alarming rate with four games in which he posted one or no tackles.
With the Ravens needing a win over the Cincinnati Bengals in Week 17 to sneak into the playoffs, Suggs and fellow pass-rusher Elvis Dumervil combined for one tackle and zero sacks in a 34-17 loss that resulted in the Ravens staying home in January. Asked to reflect on his up-and-down season at this week’s mandatory minicamp, Suggs didn’t hide behind what could have been the convenient excuse of saying he was hurt.
“One of the things was you get a little cold and you gain a little weight,” said Suggs about the second half of the season. “I probably put on a little too much weight down the stretch there. But that was one of my big focuses going into this year. Definitely, if I keep my weight down, I can have a strong finish. I think I was pretty much healthy.”
Head coach John Harbaugh went out of his way to praise Suggs for his conditioning level upon reporting to Owings Mills earlier this week. The veteran linebacker likes the changes made to both sides of the ball, citing the positive vibe created by the hiring of new offensive coordinator Gary Kubiak.
The linebacker also complimented the free-agent signing of veteran wide receiver Steve Smith, who isn’t afraid to ruffle some feathers like he did during Wednesday’s practice when he got into a scuffle with cornerback Lardarius Webb. It’s the kind of attitude that was lacking on the offensive side of the ball last season following the trade of wide receiver Anquan Boldin.
“It’s good to have that. We had it a few years ago in 81,” Suggs said. “And it’s good to have that fire back on that side of the ball, [to] have somebody who will go out there and jab back with us and compete.”
In addition to acquiring Smith and a few other veterans such as center Jeremy Zuttah and tight end Owen Daniels, the Ravens spent a large portion of their offseason re-signing their own players, including a four-year contract extension for Suggs. The deal did provide short-term relief in lowering his 2014 salary cap figure from $12.4 million to $7.8 million, but general manager Ozzie Newsome made a $16 million gamble in guaranteed money that Suggs’ second half last season was more of an aberration than a preview of what’s to come for a linebacker entering his 12th season.
So, who is the real Suggs at this stage of his career? The man who looked like a Defensive Player of the Year candidate while accumulating nine sacks in the first eight games last year or the worn-down player who failed to set the edge against the run and provided little pressure on the quarterback down the stretch?
The truth is likely somewhere in the middle, but Suggs appears determined to prove he’s closer to the player he was in the first half of the 2013 season based on what kind of shape he was in upon arriving at the team facility this week. And he made it clear he’s recommitted to just being himself after struggling to adjust to life without Lewis or Reed for the first time in his NFL career.
“You’re going to always have something to prove when you’re playing this game,” Suggs said. “You never want to hit your cruising altitude; you always want to be ascending with your game. You can always get better.”