Tag Archive | "ozzie newsome"

Ravens hope Monroe trade provides wake-up call as well as long-term dividend

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Ravens hope Monroe trade provides wake-up call as well as long-term dividend

Posted on 02 October 2013 by Luke Jones

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

OWINGS MILLS, Md. — Much like the decision to fire offensive coordinator Cam Cameron less than 10 months ago, the Ravens’ move to trade for Jacksonville Jaguars left tackle Eugene Monroe seemingly came out of nowhere Tuesday despite massive concerns on the offensive side of the football.

As was the case last December, making such a bold move in the middle of a season goes against what we’ve come to recognize as the Ravens’ methodical DNA over the 18-year history of the franchise, but it’s difficult to argue against the effort to improve an offense ranked 28th in total yards, 28th in rushing yards, and tied for 15th in points per game through the first quarter of the season. The trade essentially signals the end of the Bryant McKinnie era in Baltimore — whether the 34-year-old remains as a backup or is moved to another team remains to be seen — but general manager Ozzie Newsome doesn’t act swiftly without the big picture in mind.

The decision to add the fifth-year tackle Monroe serves as a wake-up call to the entire offense more so than a simple indictment of McKinnie’s disappointing play through the first four weeks of the season as the veteran tackle was far from the only — or biggest — problem plaguing the Ravens. Monroe represents an opportunity to upgrade one area while sending a message that no one is beyond reproach.

“Everybody will take the message however they take it,” coach John Harbaugh said. “I don’t know a message is so much intended. We always want to improve, we want to be the best team we can be every single way across the board, and whatever that message is, it is.”

The response to Monday’s trade in the Ravens locker room wasn’t bubbling over with optimism — left tackles that play outside your division don’t exactly receive a ton of attention — but a common theme expressed by members of the offensive line as well as other teammates was the need to keep working to improve. Considered no more than an above-average tackle by the most-generous talent evaluators, Monroe won’t fix the Ravens’ other offensive issues at center, wide receiver, and tight end, but he could be a part of the solution the offense still seeks to fix a running game averaging just 2.6 yards per carry so far this season and to pump life into a passing game with few dependable weapons.

The outside addition of Monroe brings youth to the left tackle position, but substantial improvements offensively will need to come from within. The Ravens were still maneuvering as of Tuesday afternoon to fit Monroe’s $3.8 million base salary under the $123 million salary cap before it was reported later in the evening that Jacksonville would handle most of the bill in the form of a bonus. Baltimore will only be on the hook for $547,000 of his salary while the Jaguars will pay about $2.4 million of his salary, according to Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports.

With such little cap space remaining, there are no easy fixes at this point.

“We just put our heads down every day and go to work,” right tackle Michael Oher said. “I don’t know what kind of message [the trade] can send. We just go to work and are trying to get things corrected.”

The Ravens will send fourth and fifth-round draft choices to Jacksonville in exchange for Monroe, which isn’t a light price knowing how Newsome and the front office value those choices every year. However, the Ravens will receive four compensatory picks in next April’s draft, easing the loss of those choices.

Even so, Newsome and the Ravens couldn’t pass on the opportunity of acquiring a 26-year-old tackle with the quickness to succeed in run-game coordinator Juan Castillo’s zone blocking schemes. Since the retirement of Hall of Famer Jonathan Ogden following the 2007 season, the Ravens have searched for a long-term solution at left tackle with Jared Gaither, Oher, and the veteran McKinnie not fitting the part. And Newsome saw how difficult it was to find one this offseason with limited cap space for the open market and the 32nd overall pick of the first round, eventually settling on a two-year deal with McKinnie.

Hapless Jacksonville provided a unique opportunity for the Ravens to nab a left tackle before he hits free agency and the possibility of the kind of bidding war in which Newsome rarely engages. Only time will tell if the Ravens will sign Monroe to a long-term deal as Oher’s rookie contract will also expire after the season.

Playing for the woeful Jaguars his entire career, Monroe hasn’t lived up to the hype of being the eighth overall pick of the 2009 draft, but his age and athleticism could be attractive in providing the Ravens with long-term stability at a position that’s been in flux for franchise quarterback Joe Flacco’s entire career. Furthermore, the Ravens generally aren’t in the business of trading multiple draft picks for a short-term fix.

The possibility of Monroe being an answer at left tackle for the next few years would be much more valuable than the short-term wake-up call to help a flawed Ravens offense for the remainder of the 2013 season.

“Tackle is a hot commodity in the league,” running back Ray Rice said. “Anytime you find a young tackle that’s as athletic as him, have a chance to get him, and take him out of a situation where he can get a fresh start — it usually works out in the guy’s favor. I’m looking forward to getting him here and catching him up to speed.”

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You would never trade the 15-7-0 for a sixth round pick

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You would never trade the 15-7-0 for a sixth round pick

Posted on 09 September 2013 by Glenn Clark

Do you remember how this goes?

15 positive observations from the weekend of football, seven not so positive observations and we acknowledge a “zero” from outside the world of football. A reminder, there’s never any Ravens game analysis here. It’s a trip through the weekend of football via videos, GIFs, memes, pictures, links, Tweets and shtick.

It’s been awhile. Be gentle. You know I would be.

15 Positive Observations…

1. Dear Tennessee Titans. Remember that thing Brian Billick said in the locker room that one time? Can we forget about all of that? We love you. A lot. Like MORE than we love red velvet funnel cake. No. Really.

This particular level of beautiful idiocy is even more delicious because former Terps LB Moise Fokou was the one to come up with the ball. I cried. I hugged a stranger.

Look, the Steelers were awful (which is delicious), but Troy Polamalu still did something AMAZING.

But hey Steel City, at least you didn’t do this.

2. Joe Flacco is so jealous of the guys CJ Brown is able to throw the football to.

Dave Stinebaugh is capable. Deon Long is good. Stefon Diggs is absurd.

3. I don’t really want to get too emotional this early in the season, but if you don’t want to give Ken Niumatalolo a “bro-hug” you’re a terrible American.

Navy is amazing. Just days after Coach Ken Niumatalolo’s mother passed away, they go to Bloomington and beat the Hoosiers for the second straight year. They’re just absolutely amazing. It was their 20th win over a BCS program since 2003. You might ask yourself, is that good? Well…yes.

Much love to you Coach Niumatalolo. And with the return of Navy football, the return of the amazing Navy football pregame videos.

4. The Saints’ decision to have a head coach be the head coach this season has gotten them off to a better start.

Pretty neat moment at the start of the game in The Big Easy, as Sean Payton and former Saint Steve Gleason lead the team out together.

This was one of the better games of the day, and came down to Saints rookie safety Kenny Vaccaro making a damn fine play to end the game. I hope his family treated him to an eclair as a reward. (Raise your hand if you got it.)

5. High five to the guy who randomly picked Shane Vereen because “what the hell he’s still sitting there” late in his fantasy football draft.

Vereen came into the game because Stevan Ridley had a fumbling problem. But it’s understandable when you’re getting by tough opponents like “Air” and “Ground”…

For some inexplicable reason, Tom Brady decided to do his best Mark Sanchez impression.

Bills fans of course handled the arrival of the Pats with class and dignity and…yeah.

(Continued on Page 2…)

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Ravens cut Doss, seven others to get roster down to 53

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Ravens cut Doss, seven others to get roster down to 53

Posted on 31 August 2013 by Luke Jones

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

The Ravens started Saturday with 63 players on their roster and wasted no time working to get down to the NFL-mandated 53 by 6 p.m. on Saturday.

Wide receiver Tandon Doss headlined a list of cuts that included tight ends Matt Furstenburg and Billy Bajema, running back Bobby Rainey, defensive lineman Cody Larsen,offensive linemen J.J. Unga and Antoine McClain, and safety Omar Brown.

A fourth-round pick in the 2011 draft, Doss was expected to play a larger role in the passing game following the offseason trade of Anquan Boldin, but the third-year wideout struggled with consistency in both practices and preseason games. His five-catch, 75-yard performance in the preseason finale against St. Louis apparently wasn’t enough to change the Ravens’ minds about his roster fate.

The decision to jettison Doss left roster space for third-year wide receiver LaQuan Williams, who has consistency issues of his own but is a more versatile special-teams player than Doss. On Friday, head coach John Harbaugh painted a positive picture for the chances of rookies Marlon Brown and Aaron Mellette to make the 53-man roster and the departure of Doss only confirmed that.

Parting ways with both Furstenburg and Bajema as well as Rainey was surprising in that it leaves the Ravens with just two healthy tight ends and two running backs on their 53-man roster, which would be unusual for most NFL rosters. However, backup fullback Kyle Juszczyk could be viewed as the third-string option at each position should the Ravens elect to stay with that roster breakdown.

Last season, third-string running back Anthony Allen had 16 carries while Bajema made zero receptions as the Ravens’ No. 3 tight end. It reflects the reality of those final spots on the 53-man roster being much more about special-teams contributions than positional depth.

After deciding to cut Brown, the Ravens kept five safeties with Anthony Levine and Brynden Trawick backing up the trio of Michael Huff, James Ihedigbo, and first-round pick Matt Elam. Baltimore only has four active cornerbacks on the roster at the moment, so the decision to carry five safeties eases depth concerns in the secondary since Huff has experience playing corner in the NFL. Trawick blocked a punt in the preseason opener and played well in the fourth exhibition game, but he was considered by most pundits to be trailing both Brown and Levine in the hunt for a roster spot.

With defensive backs Asa Jackson and Christian Thompson both beginning the season on the reserve-suspended list, the Ravens now have 53 active players on their roster. However, offensive lineman Ryan Jensen remains on the roster for now despite breaking his foot early in training camp. He has long been considered a candidate for injured reserve and could easily be placed there should general manager Ozzie Newsome claim another player off waivers as early as Sunday.

Further complicating the roster picture is tight end Dennis Pitta, who cannot be placed on the injured reserve-designated to return list until Tuesday. This essentially means the Ravens had to cut their roster to 52 healthy players, but it could open the door for either Bajema or Furstenburg to be re-signed if they don’t catch on elsewhere.

All but one of the Ravens’ 10 selections in the 2013 draft survived final cut-down day with only seventh-round cornerback Marc Anthony being let go. Sixth-round defensive end Kapron Lewis-Moore was placed on the non-football injury list last week as he continues to rehab from a torn ACL suffered in January.

Anthony was the organization’s first draft pick to be cut in the same year he was selected since 2009 when fifth-round tight end Davon Drew and sixth-round running back Cedric Peerman were both waived.

Here’s the official look at the 53-man roster and corresponding moves as of Saturday’s 6 p.m. deadline:

QB: Joe Flacco, Tyrod Taylor
RB: Ray Rice, Bernard Pierce
FB: Vonta Leach, Kyle Juszczyk
TE: Ed Dickson, Dallas Clark, *Dennis Pitta
WR: Torrey Smith, Jacoby Jones, Brandon Stokley, Marlon Brown, Deonte Thompson, Aaron Mellette, LaQuan Williams
OL: Bryant McKinnie, Kelechi Osemele, Gino Gradkowski, Marshal Yanda, Michael Oher, A.Q. Shipley, Jah Reid, Rick Wagner, Ryan Jensen (injured)

DL: Haloti Ngata, Chris Canty, Arthur Jones, Marcus Spears, Brandon Williams, Terrence Cody, DeAngelo Tyson
OLB: Terrell Suggs, Elvis Dumervil, Courtney Upshaw, Pernell McPhee, John Simon
ILB: Daryl Smith, Josh Bynes, Arthur Brown, Albert McClellan
CB: Lardarius Webb, Corey Graham, Jimmy Smith, Chykie Brown
S: Michael Huff, James Ihedigbo, Matt Elam, Anthony Levine, Brynden Trawick

Specialists: Justin Tucker, Sam Koch, Morgan Cox

*Pitta may be placed on injured reserve-designated to return on Tuesday afternoon.
____________
Injured-reserve: Adrian Hamilton, D.J. Bryant
Reserve-suspended: Asa Jackson, Christian Thompson
Physically unable to perform: Jameel McClain
Non-football injury: Kapron Lewis-Moore

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Predicting the 2013 Ravens roster after the final preseason game

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Predicting the 2013 Ravens roster after the final preseason game

Posted on 29 August 2013 by Luke Jones

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

The Ravens concluded their preseason with a 24-21 loss to the St. Louis Rams in a game that featured none of the team’s starters and extensive work for a number of bubble players fighting for spots on the 53-man roster.

With third-string quarterback Caleb Hanie playing the entire game, it’s difficult to conclude that anything changed dramatically in the competition at wide receiver and tight end where a few spots were still up for grabs. However, the battles for the potential No. 3 running back job and the fourth safety spot featured plenty of action for players projected to be on the bubble.

The Ravens appeared to suffer only one significant injury in Thursday’s game as linebacker D.J. Bryant suffered a significant knee injury at the end of the first half that will likely sideline him for the rest of the season. Though the Randallstown High alum was a long shot to make the 53-man roster, he appeared to be a solid candidate for the practice squad after joining the Ravens in that capacity last year.

My final look at the roster suggests 44 healthy players are locks as the Ravens make final decisions by Saturday. My assessment of the 75 players on the roster lists 16 players on the bubble with at least some chance of making the final roster. Not all bubble players are on equal footing, with certain positions lacking quality depth and others enjoying an abundance of talent.

Though general manager Ozzie Newsome, Harbaugh, and the remainder of the coaching staff and front office are cognizant of the number of players at each position, trying to pinpoint a specific number of wide receivers or linebackers isn’t the most accurate way of projecting the roster. The Ravens will always look carefully at players’ special-teams abilities in addition to what they bring to their specific positional group.

The Ravens must trim the roster to the regular-season number of 53 by 6 p.m. on Saturday, and Harbaugh told reporters following Thursday’s game that some cuts would be made early while others likely wouldn’t come until Saturday.

The numbers in parentheses indicate the total number of players projected to be on the 53-man roster at that given position. Players listed as injured or suspended do not count against the 53-man roster when final cuts are made. Players deemed to be on the bubble are marked with an asterisk.

QUARTERBACKS (2)
IN: Joe Flacco, Tyrod Taylor
OUT: Caleb Hanie, Dayne Crist
Skinny: The Ravens were wise in keeping Taylor out of harm’s way and allowing Hanie to go the distance. All signs point to Baltimore carrying just two quarterbacks on the 53-man roster for the fourth straight season.

RUNNING BACKS & FULLBACKS (6)
IN: Ray Rice, Bernard Pierce, Vonta Leach, Kyle Juszczyk, *Anthony Allen, *Bobby Rainey
OUT: *Delone Carter
Skinny: Some flexibility — or lack of depth — at other positions might allow the Ravens to carry both Allen and Rainey on the roster for the time being. Allen is a standout special-teams player with limited ability at running back while Rainey shows offensive upside but offers little to the special teams other than as a backup returner.

WIDE RECEIVERS (7)
IN: Torrey Smith, Jacoby Jones, Brandon Stokley, Marlon Brown, *Tandon Doss, *Deonte Thompson, *Aaron Mellette
OUT: *LaQuan Williams
Skinny: Williams saw no time at wide receiver on Thursday night, making it difficult to read where he stands at this point. Brown turned himself into a lock — he won’t make it through waivers to the practice squad — after a strong performance for the second straight game while Doss and Mellette also played well in the preseason finale.

TIGHT ENDS (3)
IN: Ed Dickson, *Dallas Clark, *Billy Bajema
OUT: *Matt Furstenburg, Alex Silvestro
INJURED RESERVE: Dennis Pitta (will be placed on injured reserve with a chance of receiving the designation to return)
Skinny: Clark was unimpressive again, but he’s worked with the first-team offense extensively in practices since signing with the Ravens a couple weeks ago. Bajema and Furstenburg did nothing to distinguish themselves, making you think Furstenburg has a better chance of finding his way to the practice squad.

OFFENSIVE LINEMEN (8)
IN: Marshal Yanda, Michael Oher, Bryant McKinnie, Kelechi Osemele, Gino Gradkowski, A.Q. Shipley, Jah Reid, Rick Wagner
OUT: *Jordan Devey, Antoine McClain, Rogers Gaines, J.J. Unga, Reggie Stephens
INJURED: Ryan Jensen (will likely be placed on injured reserve after suffering a broken foot in the first week of camp)
Skinny: Devey has had a solid preseason, but it wouldn’t be surprising to see the Ravens add another veteran to bolster their depth with only eight linemen projected to be on the roster at this point. The fact that Gradkowski didn’t play in the preseason finale tells you he has won the starting center job to begin the season with Shipley backing him up.

DEFENSIVE LINEMEN (6)

CONTINUE ON NEXT PAGE >>>>>

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Sizing up the 2013 Ravens roster after the third preseason game

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Sizing up the 2013 Ravens roster after the third preseason game

Posted on 24 August 2013 by Luke Jones

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

(Editor’s Note: This projection was completed before roster moves were announced on Sunday morning.)

As the Ravens suffered their first loss of the preseason in a 34-27 final against the Carolina Panthers, there have been some clear changes to the roster picture from last weekend’s projection.

The Ravens sent disappointing fourth-year receiver David Reed to the Indianapolis Colts in exchange for running back Delone Carter, which shakes up what was already a tight battle at running back between Anthony Allen and Bobby Rainey for the No. 3 spot behind Ray Rice and Bernard Pierce. The emergence of Marlon Brown has also altered the landscape of the wide receiver position after the rookie free agent caught four passes for 59 yards, including a 24-yard touchdown thrown by quarterback Joe Flacco.

My current look at the roster suggests 43 healthy players are locks if the deadline to trim the roster to 53 took place today. My rough assessment of the 89 players on the roster lists 21 players on the bubble with at least some decent chance of making the final roster. Not all bubble players are on equal footing, with certain positions lacking quality depth and others enjoying an abundance of talent.

Though general manager Ozzie Newsome, Harbaugh, and the remainder of the coaching staff and front office are cognizant of the number of players at each position, trying to pinpoint a specific number of wide receivers or linebackers isn’t the most accurate way of projecting the roster. The Ravens will always look carefully at players’ special-teams abilities in addition to what they bring to their specific positional group.

The Ravens must trim the roster from the current 89 players to 75 by 4 p.m. on Tuesday and must go down to the regular-season number of 53 by next Saturday.

The numbers in parentheses indicate the total number of players currently on the roster at that given position. Bubble players’ names that are underlined are currently on my projected 53-man roster as of Aug. 24. Players listed as injured or suspended are not projected to count against the 53-man roster when final cuts are made.

QUARTERBACKS (3)
LOCK: Joe Flacco, Tyrod Taylor
BUBBLE: Caleb Hanie
LONG SHOT: None
Skinny: With Taylor exiting Thursday’s game early to be evaluated for a possible concussion, we will wait for an update on his status for the short-term future. This temporarily puts Hanie back in the roster conversation, but the Ravens figure to only carry two quarterbacks once Taylor is healthy again.

RUNNING BACKS & FULLBACKS (8)
LOCK: Ray Rice, Bernard Pierce, Vonta Leach, Kyle Juszczyk
BUBBLE: Anthony Allen, Delone Carter, Bobby Rainey
LONG SHOT: Damien Berry
Skinny: Until we see what Carter can offer in terms of special-teams play, Allen remains the third running back for now but is on very shaky footing. Rainey might be the popular pick among fans, but can the Ravens really afford to keep him on the 53-man roster to essentially be a backup return man with limited ability in other special-teams phases? 

WIDE RECEIVERS (11)
LOCK: Torrey Smith, Jacoby Jones, Brandon Stokley
BUBBLE: Marlon Brown, Aaron Mellette, Tandon Doss, Deonte Thompson, LaQuan Williams
LONG SHOT: Tommy Streeter, Rashaad Carter, Gerrard Sheppard
Skinny: Doss now finds himself on the bubble after another disappointing preseason performance, but he’s the only other healthy slot receiver behind the veteran Stokley on the current roster. The Ravens are in a bind with the injured Thompson in determining how soon he can return to action and whether they’re confident that he can be a real contributor. Williams is a good special-teams player, but he hasn’t done much to build on his strong showing in the preseason opener.

TIGHT ENDS (7)
LOCK: Ed Dickson
BUBBLE: Dallas Clark, Visanthe Shiancoe, Matt Furstenburg, Billy Bajema
LONG SHOT: Alex Silvestro
INJURED: Dennis Pitta (will eventually be placed on injured reserve with a chance that he’ll receive the designation to return)
Skinny: Shiancoe helped himself with a strong performance in the third preseason game and the Ravens’ use of Juszczyk and a tackle-eligible Wagner as blocking tight ends in certain situations might allow them to get away with the third tight end not being a strong blocker. Much hinges on Dickson’s status and it’s appearing more likely that Furstenburg is a practice-squad candidate.

OFFENSIVE LINEMEN (17)
LOCK: Marshal Yanda, Michael Oher, Bryant McKinnie, Kelechi Osemele, Gino Gradkowski, A.Q. Shipley, Jah Reid, Rick Wagner
BUBBLE: Ramon Harewood
LONG SHOT: Jack Cornell, Antoine McClain, Jordan Devey, Rogers Gaines, David Mims, J.J. Unga, Reggie Stephens
INJURED: Ryan Jensen (will likely be placed on injured reserve after suffering a broken foot in the first week of camp)
Skinny: Harewood’s future on the 53-man roster appears to be totally dependent on the numbers game, so he’ll want to play well in the preseason finale to put an exclamation point on his case when Harbaugh and Newsome are making final roster decisions.

DEFENSIVE LINEMEN (10)

CONTINUE ON NEXT PAGE >>>>>

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Ozzie Admits Mistake with Recent Signings

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Ozzie Admits Mistake with Recent Signings

Posted on 13 August 2013 by Brett Dickinson

Now Ozzie Newsome is one of (and probably the best) General Manager in the NFL, for his entire career in Baltimore.  But that does not make him impervious to mistakes. His “Achilles Heel” has always been the pass-catcher situation; namely Wide Receiver.

He has made smart moves in the past to find targets for Joe Flacco, Trent Dilfer and Steve McNair, such as Derrick Mason, Anquan Boldin and Shannon Sharpe.  But none of them had the monster careers that Baltimore fans hoped for.  Add in his track record in the draft with receiving threats (i.e. Travis Taylor, Mark Clayton, Patrick Robinson, Demetrius Williams, etc.) and you could say Ozzie has been somewhat unsuccessful filling that spot.

Most recently, Anquan Boldin was due $6 million for the 2013-14 season.  After a failed attempt to renegotiate Boldin’s contract, the Ravens sent him Super Bowl foe, San Francisco 49ers, for a 6th round pick.  The move was made thinking that the young core, namely Torrey Smith, Tandon Doss and Dennis Pitta, would take their games to the next level.  The team has already lost Pitta for the season, and seem to be underwhelmed by the rest of pass-catchers.

Since Training Camp began, Baltimore has signed a trio of aging veterans, who made a living across the middle of the field (Brandon Stokley, Visanthe Shiancoe and Dallas Clark).  The argument would be that those signings were to supplant what was lost in Pitta’s tragic hip injury.  But the team had already brought in Shiancoe, before their up-and-coming star TE went down.

Ozzie found the need to bring three guys, on the wrong side of 30, to fill the void left by the key losses of their TE and top WR in 2012. Though the organization did not want to pay Anquan Boldin, they sure have spent a lot of time and effort trying to find a replacement.  Unless one of the young players, like Aaron Mellete, Deonte Thompson or Tommy Streeter, begins to wow the Ravens’ brain-trust, those vets will see a lot of time in 2013.  

Anyone is hoping to see the 2007 version of any of those signings walk through the doors in Owings Mills, will be highly disappointed.  Stokley had a somewhat of a rebound season, but had the luxury of playing with Peyton Manning (again), Shiancoe caught zero passes for the Patriots in five games and Clark played his first full season in three years for Tampa Bay in 2012.

The fact that Ozzie started digging at the bottom of barrel, for players no other team wanted, shows a lack of confidence in the players currently on the roster.  Hindsight is always “20/20,” but moving on from a trusted big-game target, like Anquan Boldin, looks like a bigger mistake several months later. His production is clearly already missed and Ozzie has realized that.  Let’s just hope it has not been “too little, too late.”

 

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Sizing up the 2013 Ravens roster after the preseason opener

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Sizing up the 2013 Ravens roster after the preseason opener

Posted on 09 August 2013 by Luke Jones

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

With the preseason opener against Tampa Bay in the rear-view mirror, I take a look at the Ravens’ potential 53-man roster for the first time since the end of mandatory minicamp in mid-June.

My current look at the roster suggests 42 healthy players are locks if the deadline to trim the roster to 53 took place today. My rough assessment of the 90 players currently on the roster lists 23 players on the bubble. Not all bubble players are on equal footing, with certain positions lacking quality depth and others enjoying an abundance of talent.

Though general manager Ozzie Newsome, coach John Harbaugh, and the remainder of the coaching staff and front office are cognizant of the number of players at each position, trying to pinpoint a specific number of wide receivers or linebackers isn’t the most accurate way of projecting the roster. The Ravens will look carefully at players’ special-teams abilities in addition to what they bring to their specific positional group.

The Ravens must trim the roster from 90 players to 75 on Aug. 27 and will go down to the regular-season number of 53 on Aug. 31.

The numbers in parentheses indicate the total number of players currently on the roster at that given position. Bubble players’ names that are underlined are currently on my projected 53-man roster as of Aug. 9. Players listed as injured or suspended are not projected to count against the 53-man roster when final cuts are made on Aug. 31.

QUARTERBACKS (3)
LOCK: Joe Flacco, Tyrod Taylor
BUBBLE: None
LONG SHOT: Caleb Hanie
Skinny: Any lingering doubt over Taylor’s status as the backup should have been removed after the third-year quarterback’s strong performance Thursday night. Hanie hasn’t shown enough in practices to make a strong case that he’s deserving of a roster spot with the Ravens having not carried a third quarterback since on the 53-man roster since the 2009 season.

RUNNING BACKS & FULLBACKS (7)
LOCK: Ray Rice, Bernard Pierce, Vonta Leach, Kyle Juszczyk
BUBBLE: Anthony Allen, Bobby Rainey
LONG SHOT: Damien Berry
Skinny: As he did last summer, Rainey once again shined in a preseason game with 114 all-purpose yards against Tampa Bay, but the Ravens already have Pro Bowl return specialist Jacoby Jones and Allen is a well-rounded special-teams player who thrives on several units, making him a better bet to make the roster at this point.

WIDE RECEIVERS (12)
LOCK: Torrey Smith, Jacoby Jones, Tandon Doss, Deonte Thompon
BUBBLE: LaQuan Williams, David Reed, Aaron Mellette, Marlon Brown, Tommy Streeter
LONG SHOT: Rashaad Carter, Marcus Rivers, Gerrard Sheppard
Skinny: Williams’ ability on special teams and performance Thursday likely improved his standing, but this remains a very fluid group in terms of roster candidates. Special-teams ability will loom large for the future of receivers on the bubble. This group could change as much as any over the next month if the Ravens add an established veteran.

TIGHT ENDS (6)
LOCK: Ed Dickson, Visanthe Shiancoe
BUBBLE: Matt Furstenburg, Billy Bajema
LONG SHOT: Alex Silvestro
INJURED: Dennis Pitta (will eventually be placed on injured reserve with a extremely small chance that he’ll receive the designation to return)
Skinny: The veteran Bajema is ahead of Furstenburg on the depth chart for now, but the Maryland product is likely to get the nod if he can prove to be a capable blocker. His 24-yard reception on a seam route down the middle had to be pleasing to a coaching staff looking for another tight end to emerge after the season-ending injury to Pitta.

OFFENSIVE LINEMEN (17)
LOCK: Marshal Yanda, Michael Oher, Bryant McKinnie, Kelechi Osemele, Gino Gradkowski, A.Q. Shipley, Jah Reid
BUBBLE: Ramon Harewood, Rick Wagner
LONG SHOT: Jack Cornell, Antoine McClain, Jordan Devey, Rogers Gaines, David Mims, J.J. Unga, Reggie Stephens
INJURED: Ryan Jensen (will likely be placed on injured reserve after suffering a broken foot in the first week of camp)
Skinny: The Ravens may not keep nine offensive linemen on their regular-season roster, but it would be difficult envisioning any of those players shaking loose. Jensen’s broken foot will likely land him on season-ending IR and it wouldn’t be surprising to see Wagner in a similar position if he were to suffer an injury at some point over the next month.

DEFENSIVE LINEMEN (10)

CONTINUE ON NEXT PAGE >>>>>

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Your Monday Reality Check: Newsome has few flaws, but Pitta injury exposes one

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Your Monday Reality Check: Newsome has few flaws, but Pitta injury exposes one

Posted on 29 July 2013 by Glenn Clark

Before you even bother, I’m very aware of how silly it is to criticize one of the best General Managers in NFL history.

I’m even more aware of how silly it is to criticize a General Manager less than six months removed from seeing his assembled talent claim the second Super Bowl title of his tenure.

So I have an idea for you as you rad ahead. Every time you see the terms “Ozzie Newsome”, “Newsome”, “Ravens General Manager”, “Ravens GM”, “Hall of Fame former TE” or anything that would make you think I was referring to “The Wizard of Oz”, insert (in your mind) the phrase “who just won the Super Bowl and is one of the greatest executives in league history” immediately behind his name.

For example…

Ozzie Newsome (in your head: “who just won the Super Bowl and is one of the greatest executives in league history”) will be meeting with the media Monday to discuss his induction speech for Jonathan Ogden at the Pro Football Hall of Fame next weekend.

Got it? This will go a long way to making sure you understand that despite some criticism I will offer the rest of the way, I’m very aware of the greatness of Ozzie Newsome. Is everyone together on this?

The road to defending the Vince Lombardi Trophy hit a serious bump for the Baltimore Ravens Saturday. As you know, TE Dennis Pitta was lost for the entire 2013 season when he suffered a hip injury in a collision with S James Ihedigbo during the first padded practice of Training Camp.

Since the column (and the radio show) are titled “Reality Check”, I’ll remind you that the season did not end for the Ravens Saturday, despite how many of your friends that root for teams like the Pittsburgh Steelers or Washington Redskins will want you to believe it did. The Ravens are very much still in the mix to win the AFC North with the Steelers and Cincinnati Bengals, and in a down conference they will have as much a chance as any.

For that to happen, the Ravens will need to replace the production of two of their top three pass catchers last year (RB Ray Rice tied Pitta for second with 61). The group they look to in order to make up for it doesn’t inspire a particularly strong amount of confidence.

WR’s Torrey Smith and Jacoby Jones are both capable if not complete options. Smith made major strides in his all-around game in his second season and could well be primed for a breakout year as QB Joe Flacco’s top target. Jones has long been a decent third receiver option in the NFL, but has never been able to consistently match his superb level of kick returning.

This is the part where we get to the “flaw” I referred to in the headline.

TE Ed Dickson immediately moves to the top of the depth chart with Pitta’s injury. He, recently signed Visanthe Shiancoe, little used Billy Bajema and undrafted rookie free agent Matt Furstenburg fall in line behind that. Shiancoe is well known (thanks in large part to a nationally televised “wardrobe malfunction”), but played in just four games with the New England Patriots in 2012 and didn’t have a single catch. Shiancoe appeared to be on the verge of retirement at the age of 33. Dickson was though of highly enough coming out of Oregon in 2010 that he was drafted a round ahead of Pitta, but he is coming off a season where he had just 21 catches for 225 yards and no TD’s.

Then there are the rest of the receivers. Tandon Doss, Deonte Thompson, LaQuan Williams, Tommy Streeter and Aaron Mellette are the guys fighting for a legitimate chance to make the 53 man roster coming out of Camp.

(Continued on Page 2…)

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Newsome to present Ogden at next weekend’s Hall of Fame ceremony

Posted on 26 July 2013 by WNST Staff

JONATHAN OGDEN NATIONAL TELECONFERENCE TRANSCRIPT

On his reaction to being drafted by the Ravens in 1996 and what he first noticed when he got to Baltimore: “There was some surprise, yes, because all the draftniks, all the people were saying that, ‘You were going to go to the Cardinals with the third pick. You are going to go to the Cardinals.’ That was getting beaten into my head the whole time. So, when the third pick came up, and they picked Simeon Rice, I was a little surprised. I knew things could always happen, but I was raised to get up when I heard the phone ring in the green room. Then Baltimore came on the clock next, and I knew I had taken the trip down to visit them, and I was like, ‘Oh, you know. It seemed like an interesting organization because nothing was established yet.’ When I got that call I was a little bit in shock, because one, I wasn’t expecting to go to Baltimore and two, I didn’t really know what to expect with Baltimore. After I talked to Ozzie [Newsome] and I talked to Mr. [Art] Modell, and I got an idea of what their plans were for Baltimore, I got excited after that. I said, ‘I’m going to be a part of something here, and I’m going to help us build a winner here.’”

On if getting ready for the induction this weekend has prompted him to do some reflecting on his career and what have been some of the most interesting things he has looked back on: “I definitely have been looking back on my career while doing this speech that I’ve been dreading that I am going to have to give. The one thing that I’m trying to wrap my mind around is giving that speech. I’ve never been that guy who likes to stand there and talk in public, but I’m ready to do it. But yes, I have definitely been doing some reflecting. My career was really solid. The one thing that I can say about my career was how I played really consistent football. I never really looked back and said, ‘Man, if I would have done this, that or the other…’ I always felt like I gave my all, and I was always consistent out there. I think that’s kind of what led me to become a great player. This game is about consistency at the end of the day. I think that’s probably about it there.”

On who will be presenting him at the Hall of Fame: “Ozzie Newsome.”

On why he chose Ozzie Newsome to present him: “I chose Ozzie [Newsome], because he brought me in to Baltimore. I respect him, and we work well together. I could always go talk to him, be honest with him, and he’s just one of the people that I really respect in the business. It just kind of made sense to me.”

On how much influence some of his old coaches had on him as a person and as a player: “When you look back at it, it’s kind of funny. A lot of this stuff is in my speech, so you will get to hear it again. Definitely St. Albans had a huge influence on me. Skip Grant really kind of was one of the first people – honesty, integrity – really … He walked it and lived it. You know the man, so you know who I’m talking about. You know Dick Allanson – these guys really taught you good lessons in life. St. Albans taught you a lot. [They] taught us how to think for yourself, how to become a better citizen, and those are lessons that I definitely took. It’s kind of strange, yes, being one of the … I guess I am St. Albans’ first Hall of Famer. (laughing) I don’t think they have any other ones. It’s nice to bring some recognition to the school. I’m glad that I could do that for them, because they did so much for me.”

On what he most wants to be remembered for and what his dad’s thoughts would be about him being inducted: “On the football field, I just want to be remembered as the guy who was dependable, who was a good teammate, who didn’t go out there and make silly mistakes, you knew he was going to be there game-in game-out, day-in day-out, had his teammates back out there. My dad would be very … He would enjoy this day coming up. He was the guy who I wanted to be like growing up. I modeled playing after him. He knew that, and I’m just glad that he at least got to see most of my career. He didn’t get to see all of my career, but he got to see most of it. And, he also got to see his grandson, too. That’s the positives that I can take from it that he at least got to see some of those things.”

On if he can still see his dad at St. Albans watching him from the sidelines with a huge umbrella: “Yes, I couldn’t get to football practice without that man. He would come pick me up every day, and he would come out to the games no matter what the situation was just to be there. Never really pushed me, but was always encouraging me. He wasn’t one of those parents who made me do it, but he kind of always had that encouraging word for me about just trying to stick in there, just keep your chin up. Times get tough, especially when you’re young. You’re a young man starting in the game, and you don’t know if you really love it. He kind of kept me going on that path.”

On if there was ever a time where he went to his dad and told him that he didn’t think he could continue to play football and his dad talked him back into it: “No, there was never a time that I said that. I think I would have been let him down too much if I said that. But, when those days, when it’s tough, you are just like, ‘Man, this is … I don’t know. There’s nothing worth having that’s easy.’ You just have to keep on pushing. If you enjoy the game, you have to work for it. It made me realize that.”

On what it was like for him getting inducted into the Hall of Fame and the Ravens winning the Super Bowl in the same year: “That was really just one of those things … You look at it, and you’re like, ‘This can’t really be happening.’ It just seems like a storybook, like somebody really isn’t going into the Hall of Fame while their team is playing in the biggest game on the planet in one of the best towns on the planet in New Orleans. And that ovation that I got at the coin toss was unbelievable. Then the whole drama of the game … We end up winning. It could not have been a better weekend. I told them the only thing that could have made the weekend better is if Art Modell would have gotten into the Hall of Fame with me at the same time. That was the only thing that could have been better. Everything else was perfect. You get very few chances in life to say that. I enjoyed that weekend.”

On how it feels to be the Ravens’ first overall pick and first original Hall of Famer: “It feels great. When I was playing, I was just out there working. I couldn’t help the fact that I was the Ravens’ first pick. It just kind of happened, and in my mind, all I wanted to do was help the guys win and go out there, so I don’t look at it in that perspective. When I do step outside of myself and look at it, it’s like, ‘Wow, that guy – he had it pretty good,’ (laughter) if that makes sense. It’s hard in my own perspective to view it that way though.”

On how his football IQ impacted his game and if he still has his notebook of opposing pass rushers: “No, the notebook disappeared a few years ago. I don’t know what happened to it. They always say [that] the quarterback and offensive lineman need to be the smartest – quarterback maybe, but O-line definitely. It’s all about how quickly you can read and process what’s happening on the field and understand what the defense is trying to do to you. Where is that safety rotating down from? Where is that linebacker, the lineman – is he inside? All these things that, when you play long enough, you can get a tip, and when you can get a tip, you don’t hesitate. So definitely, the smarter you are, the less hesitation you have in what you’re going to do, the better football player you’re going to be. I always prided myself on never hesitating, because I always knew my assignment.”

On where his football knowledge and instincts came from: “Part of it is natural. There’s no doubt about it. But I also had really good coaching in high school. My line coach – a guy named David Mohler – he played at St. Albans, but then he went to North Carolina. Harris Barton was one of his teammates, and he got a lot of his information when he was there, and he brought that to us when I was at St. Albans. So, I never had to really unlearn bad habits. I always knew how to keep a wide base, try to keep my back straight and my head up – all the things that people take for granted that you should know how to do. But I never had to unlearn any of those bad habits that a lot of people had. So, when I got to UCLA, my football IQ was more advanced than some other high school guys because I had tremendous coaching. I want to thank him for that. I can thank him in my speech.”

On what his career plans are for the next five years: “At the present time, I enjoy – because we have an 18-month-old daughter and an 8-year-old son – I’m enjoying just being the dad, staying at home. In the near future, I still have my foundation work as well, in Baltimore. That’s not to say I’m not looking to expand and do a few more things. Exactly what? I’m not sure, but I’m sure things will pop up. As of now, I’m definitely very happy in the life that I’m living because raising children is hard work. (laughter) They’re tough little [rascals], and you have to stay on top of them.” (laughter)

On the influence of UCLA track and field coach Art Venegas: “He was great. That guy – he was a no-nonsense type of guy. He would just say, ‘Look, this is what I need out of you, and you need get it done.’ There are no excuses to be made with Art. He definitely taught me a lot about life, and we had a lot of interesting times throwing the shot with that guy. Next to Terry Donahue, he’s probably my most influential coach in college, for sure. Terry Donahue is No. 1, but Art Venegas is definitely No. 2.”

On his relationship with Art Modell: “Art was just … It’s unbelievable how the first time I met him, how nice the man was. It was about football, yes, but he also wanted to know about you the person. Like, ‘How are you doing, how is the family?’ He was always just concerned about that. When you get genuine, nice people, you just want to try to win for them. I can remember when we won that Super Bowl, how happy he was. We wanted to win for Art because of the things that he had done for us and for the city and for the way he was vilified. We all know that when you talk about genuine people, he’s up there. He’s got to be near the top of the list. I just wish that people would not hold the whole Cleveland thing against him, because he’s done so much for the league. Hopefully one day, we’ll get him recognized again.”

On his thoughts about Ravens fans and interacting with them at his induction ceremony: “Oh, they’re crazy – in a good way. (laughter) We’ve got really some of the best fans in the NFL. I’m just really looking forward to … This moment isn’t really – it’s for me, yes, but it’s for the fans. I played the game because we have such tremendous fans, [and] that’s why we play so hard out there. And just to get the opportunity to be amongst them, and just to thank them for the years of support, I’m really looking forward to it. I really want to share those moments with those guys, because at the end of the day, the fans are the ones who pay the NFL some bills [and] keep the league afloat. You definitely have to appreciate them, especially when they’re as loyal and as great as the fans in B-more are.”

On what people can expect to see from his foundation over the next couple of years: “We’re going to try to do a few more programs. Right now, I can’t tell you off the top of my head exactly what, because right now, I’ve just been so focused on getting ready for this Hall of Fame [induction ceremony]. But we definitely plan on continuing to do the same things we have and trying to upgrade this year. We had to help a community center by getting computers put in there. We’re going to try to do a few more things – just whatever is necessary. We’re a small foundation, but we try to do what we can, when we can. Whenever we have the opportunity to grow, we try to take that.”

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Baltimore Ravens 2013 Season Preview Part Three: Predicting the Biggest Positional Battles

Posted on 06 July 2013 by jeffreygilley

It’s no secret the Ravens are a different team. Starters that must be replaced include Carry Williams, Ed Reed, Ray Lewis, Dannell Ellerbe, Vonta Leach, and Anquan Boldin. Paul Kruger is also gone but he was more of a role player that rotated starts with rookie Courtney UpShaw.

The following are my projections for the most heated roster battles.

Receiver:

Torrey Smith is the only receiver guaranteed a starting spot. Jacoby Jones is a veteran but struggled in Houston when given a larger workload. Therefore, Jones will be competing with Tandon Doss, Deonte Thompson, Tommy Streeter, David Reed, and LaQuan Williams. So far, Thompson has made the most of offseason workouts. According to reports, he displays great hands and improved route running ability to go along with his blazing speed.

When the Ravens face the Broncos on Sept. 5, Jacoby Jones will start across from Torrey Smith. He is experienced and made plays when given the opportunity last season. The third receiver will be Danton Doss with Deonte Thompson winning the fourth receiver spot on the depth chart. Doss’s skill set translates well to the slot receiver position. His hands, physicality, and ability to get upfield after the catch will make him a nice weapon for Flacco.

Cornerback:

I am a huge Jimmy Smith fan. Smith has too much potential to be the Ravens nickel corner. If he can put everything together, he will be starting opposite Lardarius Webb. Corey Graham would then be the team’s nickel corner. Successfully defending two passes to Michael Crabtree towards the end of the Super Bowl will be positive plays for Smith to build upon.

Chykie Brown could be a sleeper to receive playing time this season. He showed promise last season and played frequently towards the end of the season.

Inside linebacker:

John Harbaugh and the Ravens have a lot of options at inside linebacker. Jameel McClain will likely start. Therefore, the competition really comes down to Arthur Brown and Darryl Smith. Brown was a second round selection in the 2013 draft and is projected to be a defensive rookie of the year candidate. But Smith brings experience and proven ability at inside linebacker. In the beginning of the season, I think Smith will start on running downs and Brown will play on passing downs. Brown has excellent coverage ability and when paired with McClain, they could make up a great duo in pass coverage.

Bryan Hall could also receive playing time pending the training camp competition. Hall played along the defensive line last season but is making the switch to inside linebacker. Hall could play in certain blitz packages but for the most part, will be a special teams player.

Nose tackle

After a solid 2011 season, many thought Mount Cody would break out in 2012. But Cody struggled. He was consistently pushed around and made little impact against teams with great running games. Ozzie Newsome has made an effort to improve the middle of the defense through the draft and free agency. Brandon Williams was drafted in the third round and Marcus Spears and Chris Canty were signed in free agency. Spears and Canty won’t play nose tackle but they will improve the middle of the defense.

I think Brandon Williams will win the starting job. Cody had hip surgery which could explain his poor play in 2012. If Cody can get healthy and play like he did in 2011, the Ravens will have a great rotation at nose tackle.

Center

Replacing Matt Birk will be difficult. Birk was a great leader and will be replaced by either Gino Gradkowski or AQ Shipley. Gradkowski was drafted out of Delaware in the fourth round of the 2012 draft. Gradkowski was projected to be the starter once Birk retired but Shipley played very well for the Colts last season. He played so well that he earned a plus 6.9 rating from Pro Football Focus.

Gradkowski is the early favorite but Shipley is a solid veteran that could start should Gradkowski struggle.

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