The end of another NFL season and the beginning of a new calendar year is sure to bring change as unfilled goals and promises demand accountability. Continue Reading
Posted on 02 January 2012 by Thyrl Nelson
The end of another NFL season and the beginning of a new calendar year is sure to bring change as unfilled goals and promises demand accountability. Continue Reading
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Posted on 20 December 2011 by Thyrl Nelson
Week 15 of the NFL season brought about a heavy dose of perspective and a number of reality checks for teams that rightly appeared to be primed for the playoffs just a week ago. While frustration, part and parcel to any NFL season, isn’t easy to accept, it’s still far better than the alternative…apathy.
Sometimes seeing your own favorite team regularly and up close and for all its warts and blemishes makes it tough to mesh that perspective with the “bird’s eye” view that we get of most teams through highlights and limited national TV exposure. That said, fans in cities from Green Bay to Indianapolis are up in arms over the weekend’s action and could all probably use a healthy dose of perspective.
While the Ravens are far from perfect or infallible, they’re the devil we know, and for that I’m both happy and hopeful. As for the devils that we don’t know, here are 10 of the most interesting NFL storylines that I’m glad to be seeing from the bird’s eye view, as they’re undoubtedly entertaining for fans, but probably best appreciated from afar.
Here are the Top 10 NFL Storylines That I’m Glad Are Playing Out in Someone Else’s Back Yard.
Storyline #10- Suck for Luck
For the first 5 or so weeks of the season there were anywhere from 5-10 interested and interesting looking candidates in the Luck sweepstakes. By mid-season it was down to 2, and as Matt Moore and the Dolphins tried against hope to rally around coach Tony Sparano, only Indianapolis was left in the Luck conversation. That invited a number of other conversations regarding Luck’s potential and Peyton Manning’s future with the Colts. Last week’s win by Indy may have reignited hope in both St. Louis and Minnesota as potential Luck destinations.
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Posted on 15 December 2011 by Thyrl Nelson
While reading Jeff Pearlman’s book “Sweetness: The Enigmatic Life of Walter Payton” (a fantastic read not at all accurately depicted by the salacious snippet chosen to excerpt in Sports Illustrated and one I’ll write more about later) I stumbled across an old Paul Brown quote that for some reason has resonated in my head ever since. As the cyclical nature of football brings all things full circle, Brown’s wisdom has pervaded my consciousness to a degree that I can’t explain and has absolutely changed the way that I’m looking at football these days.
The fifteen words put forth by Brown that have changed my football viewing life are these: “Football is a game of errors. The team that makes the fewest errors usually wins. “
It’s such a simple concept and one that on the surface doesn’t feel like a revelation at all, yet as we look at games and match ups and try to prognosticate upcoming games or to simply explain the outcomes of games already decided, we the highlight driven society that we are, pay too much attention to the stars and their abilities to make plays and not enough attention to the supporting cast and the likelihood that they’ll be able to provide the requisite support to make those stars shine.
The modern metrics that have taken over baseball have done a fair enough job at quantifying the bare minimum of Major League credibility. The RP in VORP (and formerly in WARP, subsequently shortened to WAR) represents the “replacement player”. In simple terms the replacement player represents a baseline of expectation for the production of any player called up from AAA to fill a given position. Calculating a star’s value beyond that replacement player then quantifies his stardom and moreover his contribution to the winning formula.
Sooner or later the statisticians will take over football too. When they do, you can bet that they’ll begin by figuring out what baseline production should be. In other words, someone far smarter than I could likely come up with a yardage expectation on any given play if all 22 guys involved in the play simply do their jobs. From there it would be easier to determine whether the contributions of stars were valuable enough to offset the costly mistakes of the supporting cast or the mistakes made by those stars on other plays.
The more I watch, the more I’m convinced that far more NFL games are decided by the players who are messing up than those who are making big plays. In fact, the argument could be made that big plays wouldn’t even be possible unless someone on the other side of the ball messes up.
There are lots of different types of mistakes that NFL players and teams can make from play to play. Some are easy to spot, others much more subtle. Players can only be held responsible to do whatever task their assignment calls for, therefore the guys giving those assignments had better be on their games. Players can’t succeed unless they are put in a position to do so. Good play will overcome bad coaching in only the rarest of instances and mistakes made before the ball is ever snapped can be among the costliest and most difficult to overcome.
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Posted on 31 October 2011 by Thyrl Nelson
When great expectations collide with poor performances fans tend to find themselves at the ledge. It’s that fan purgatory where blood pressure always seems to be rising and the sky always seems to be falling. Let’s take a look outside to see who’s on the ledge this week:
Boise State: It was supposed to somehow be their year. What’s more, this should have been a good weekend for the Boise Sate Broncos, instead it was just another in a series of tough late season blows for the “Little Engine That Could” of college football as the Stanford Cardinal not only survived a triple OT scare against USC, but catapulted the Broncos for the fourth spot in the BCS this week as a result.
The losses by Kansas State and Clemson had to be encouraging for the Broncos, and if the probability of USC upending Stanford as it was happening appeared too good to be true, it ultimately was. After starting the season with little #’s 5 & 7 in the two major polls next to their name, the Broncos appeared to be in line for their first legitimate shot at getting into the BCS title game if a few things broke their way. Lately it became apparent that they were the contingency plan for Oklahoma State at best. Now looking up at Stanford too, it seems that QB Kellen Moore and company will need lots of help in earning their “lifetime achievement award”.
Last but not least, it seems that in the era of conference landscape shake-up the Broncos, apparently Big East bound will still be looking at a future where the strength of schedule still serves to indict their record no matter how impressive.
Outlook: Stay positive, the weekend wasn’t a total loss. Clemson lost, K-State lost, and Stanford at least proved that they could be beaten. The Cardinal still have a showdown with Oregon and the PAC-12 title game to get through and Oklahoma State’s road may be even tougher than that. Boise’s BCS outlook may still be more realistic and closer than ever.
Washington Redskins: You started 3-1 and Rex Grossman’s misplaced confidence in declaring the Redskins contenders seemed to be both founded and contagious. Three straight losses and two quarterbacks later the Skins are fresh off of a 23-0 oak-sticking at the hands of the Bills and the once vulnerable looking NFC East is beginning to round more into the form that most expected to begin the season. The Eagles look to be clicking right now, the Giants and Cowboys both look talented but inconsistent and the Redskins look to be pulling up the rear.
Outlook: You knew it would eventually come to this, didn’t you? Even at 3-1 the Redskins were tough to buy into, now we’re being reminded of why.
City of Dallas: The year began so well. The Cowboys played host to the Super Bowl and even though they expected to be in it and weren’t and even though the weather was an ongoing storyline throughout Super Bowl week, it’s tough to count that experience as a negative. In fact on the heels of the Super Bowl and tons of giant events at the new “Jerry-World” the Mavericks won the NBA Finals and the Rangers dominated most of the summer.
Now however, the Rangers arguably choked away their first world title twice in game 6 of the World Series then lost it in game 7, the reeling Cowboys are 3-4 and fresh off of an embarrassing Sunday Night performance on national television, and the Mavericks chance to defend their NBA title is on hold indefinitely as the NBA lockout drags on.
Outlook: Everything is bigger in Big D, I suppose panic is no different.
Denver Broncos: Okay, Tim Tebow stinks. It’s easy to tolerate when he’s winning and inspiring people along the way, but a win over a bad Dolphins team was just that no matter how exciting, and the reeling Detroit Lions exacted 2 weeks of frustrations on the Broncos on Sunday with ease. Tebow was a winner in college, but so were lots of NFL players, and even more who never made it or simply stunk in the NFL. Winning at this level is different, and Tebow has a long way to go before he can think about doing it consistently, and the current coaching staff may have no legitimate designs on waiting for him to be ready.
The Broncos are paying 3 quarterbacks good money, yet still have no real answer at quarterback. Additionally their win against the Dolphins while inspirational has them looking “up” at 4 teams in the Andrew Luck sweepstakes and on even ground (in the loss column) with 4 more.
Outlook: A team with 2 quarterbacks really has none; a team with 3 might have no idea what they’re looking for. Be afraid Bronco’s fans yours is a tough road ahead.
Roger Goodell: Mr. Ndamukong Suh would like to see you sir.
Outlook: Be afraid be very afraid.
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Posted on 28 October 2011 by Thyrl Nelson
This is not an inducement to gamble, in fact it should serve as quite the opposite. It is my attempt at picking all of the games (before injury reports are official) each week. The picks are broken into 3 categories, 5 picks that I love, 5 that I like and the rest.
I would encourage anyone looking for a little extra interest in Sunday’s game to try the MobTown $15.70 prop card. It’s free it’s easy and cash and bragging rights are on the line.
All lines taken from sportsbook.com.
Loves (100 pts for a win and -110 for a loss)
week 7: 2-3 (-130 pts) season: 13-12 (-20 pts)
Saints -14 @ Rams
Lions -3 @ Broncos
Steelers +3 vs. Patriots
Browns +9 @ 49ers
Chiefs +4 vs. Chargers
Likes (50 pts for a win and -55 for a loss)
week 7: 2-2-1 (-10 pts) season: 10-12-1 (-160 pts)
Panthers -3.5 vs. Vikings
Dolphins +9.5 @ Giants
Bills -6 vs. Redskins
Bengals -3 @ Seahawks
Cowboys +3.5 @ Eagles
Feeling Lucky? (20 pts for a win and -22 for a loss)
Week 7: 1-2(-24 pts) season 9-10-2 (-40 pts)
Titans -9 vs. Colts
Jaguars +9.5 @ Texans
Ravens -12.5 vs. Cardinals
Last week Total: 5-7-1 (-164 pts) Season Total: 32-34-3 (-220 pts)
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Posted on 19 August 2011 by Ryan Chell
Ravens tight end Ed Dickson lost out on a lot in the last week-more than what you would think.
Not only did he lose playing time in Baltimore’s Week 1 preseason loss to the Eagles 13-6 last Thursday due to an injury, but days later he lost his number #83-albeit giving it up willingly-to the recently acquired WR, Lee Evans of the Buffalo Bills who wore the number for nine years.
However, he told Glenn Clark on WNST this week that he could not have given it up to not only a better football player, but a stand-up guy.
“Lee Evans came in, and he’s kind of a soft-spoken guy,” Dickson said. “But he’s a real great individual. He came to me and took it to me-just as classy as anyone can take it and asked me if I was interested in changing numbers.”
Evans was acquired by the Ravens for a fourth-round pick less than 24 hours after the preseason game versus the Eagles-a game Dickson missed due to a hamstring injury, but it took time for Dickson to give up a number he wanted to have as a Raven for the long-term.
“I’m telling you it was really hard,” Dickson said. “I was that number my whole time in college, and I wanted to keep that number. But at the same time, I understand how it feels to him and I wanted to be a great teammate and help him out.”
Dickson will now wear #84-a number he wore in high school. And on top of that, he guaranteed that you’ll see him in uniform with it on versus the Kansas City Chiefs in the home preseason opener at M&T Bank Stadium tonight.
“You are definitely going to see me out there Friday night,” Dickson said,” competing and seeing the Ravens offense a little better than they were last week and I’m going to be out there trying to get a victory.”
Dickson-who was drafted by the Ravens in the 3rd-round of the 2010 NFL Draft out of Oregon-was projected to be the starter going into this season after the release of two-time Pro Bowler Todd Heap, who spent a decade in a Baltimore uniform.
That was a moment this off-season when Dickson felt a vote of confidence coming his way.
“I thrive off those moments,” Dickson noted to Clark.
And despite his fellow 2010 draftee Dennis Pitta making several big plays in his stead last week, Dickson said both he and his fellow teammate think alike.
“Speaking on Dennis’ behalf, we thrive for those moments,” Dickson said.
Dickson said both he and Pitta have nobody in the world to thank but Todd Heap for his guidance in their rookie years.
“He was a great mentor,” said Dickson. “He did a great job of teaching us, and not basically forcing info on us.”
An outside critic would look at Heap’s departure and say that Dickson should be upset by Pitta gunning for his snaps and vice versa, but Dickson doesn’t feel that way at all.
“Man, I was proud to be tight end,” Dickson laughed. “Dennis is like my brother, so I was one of the first people that came up to him and congratulated him on that catch. [I told him] to stay in the game, make a lot of catches, and I knew he had it in him.”
The only thing missing Dickson said?
Making it a tag-team effort.
“We didn’t have a chance to showcase it-both of us,” Dickson said.
And Dickson knows his value going forward and the benefit he has of being in an offense ran by Cam Cameron that loves to utilize the tight end.
“I really love his offense,” Dickson said,” because he really gets the tight ends and other players involved. I wanted to learn and grow in his offense…so I’m real excited to get him back and he really is a great offensive coordinator.”
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Posted on 15 August 2011 by Ryan Chell
New Ravens WR Lee Evans has been in the league eight years, and despite some personal success in his time with the Buffalo Bills, he has never tasted-let alone had the scent-of playoff football in January.
But now, after a trade on Friday that brought the former first-round pick to the Ravens for a mid-round pick, the new wideout is hoping to have that feeling sooner rather than later, and he said it has him rejuvenated.
“Obviously, this has been a very historic franchise-a winning organization-and I just want to come in and do my part and do anything I can to help them win,” Evans said after his first practice Saturday.
And Evans’ presence alone should be a big boost. In his career, Evans has caught 377 catches for 5,934 yards (15.7 YPC), and 43 touchdowns.
In thirteen games last season, he grabbed 37 balls for 578 yards and four touchdowns.
His skills as his career went along forced opposing defenses to shift their focus to him, allowing for the emergence of guys like Steve Johnson in 2010.
It may have been the lack of a wide receiver catching a pass until late in the second quarter of Thursday exhibition loss to the Eagles that forced Ravens GM Ozzie Newsome to pull the trigger on the trade with the Bills.
But now in Baltimore, Evans will play second-fiddle to Anquan Boldin and he feels like what he brings to an NFL offense every Sunday is quite the compliment to the former All-Pro and should help them both out in the long run.
“Obviously, one of my biggest attributes is speed; so being able to get down the field and spread the defense,” Evans said. “Q is as dynamic as they come, so I want to open some things up for him and let him control it.”
In four of his first five seasons in the NFL, Evans had touchdown catches of at least 69+ yards.
In 2006 in a game against the Houston Texans, Evans made NFL history for becoming the only player to catch two 80-yard touchdown passes in a single quarter, and he set Bills records for yards in a quarter (206) and in a single game (238).
However, Evans could not keep that level of consistency going his eight years in Buffalo-large in part to coaching changes, different offenses, and a carousel of quarterbacks including Ryan Fitzpatrick, J.P. Losman, Trent Edwards, and Kelly Holcomb. It all proved to be very unstable at times for the wide receiver, so much so that the trade talks began swirling with Evans over the last year.
Evans know already that things are going be different in Baltimore.
“It has been a whirlwind for in Buffalo with different coordinators and quarterbacks,” he said. “To come to a stable situation, it builds confidence in me that I can continue to get better everyday.”
And so far in two practices with the team, the one guy in Joe Flacco who he knows will be throwing passes to him during his entire stay in Baltimore-how long it may be for Evans-has been there to make sure he does.
“Joe Flacco did a great job of keeping me in the loop with what is going on so I didn’t mess up too much,” Evans admitted.
When asked about his situation with the Bills, it was clear that he was happy to be out of a team that didn’t or probably couldn’t see him as part of their future.
“The main goal when you bring young players is to try and help them out as much as you can, develop them, and try to win. That was more so the mindset.”
“But, you never know when you bring in a new regime of coaches and GMs what their mindset is going to be. You understand what the risks are with that, and you just have to go for it.”
And while he will be doing the same thing in Baltimore to young receivers like Tandon Doss and Torrey Smith, he knows all mostly the Ravens are just asking him to do his business and catch the football.
And he knows he can do that.
“Just play ball,” Evans said. “It’s pretty stable here, so I will just do whatever I can to get better and do what I can to help them win.”
Follow WNST on Twitter for all your Ravens news everyday! WNST-We Never Stop Talking Baltimore Sports!
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Posted on 12 August 2011 by Ryan Chell
I’ve always been told that the anticipation of having something is always better and makes you feel more warm than actually physically getting the thing you desire.
And with the scenario of Thursday’s preseason opener for the Ravens against the Philadelphia Eagles at Lincoln Financial Center, that turned out to be the case.
And in fact, the game turned out to be a very ugly result for the most part, so whoever made that expression about the anticipation of something can certainly laugh long and hard about this one.
The question marks that we all knew going into Thursday still remain an enigma going into Week 2 of preseason as the team gets ready for its Week 1 opener against Pittsburgh September 11th, as both the offensive line (6 sacks), the backup quarterback position (2 INTs from Tyrod Taylor), and the the receiving corps (no catches by a WR until 1:26 in the 2nd quarter) still need tinkering with by coach John Harbaugh.
Here is my report card of what I saw Thursday night versus the Eagles, and Rex Snider and I will “Rate the Ravens” on the air Friday afternoon tentatively at 3:30. Since it was a preseason game and eventually turned into a “snoozefest”, I will give ratings based in yawns. Hear Rex Snider’s analysis on “The Afternoon Drive” tomorrow!
Quarterback: 4/5 Yawns (with 5/5 being the worst)
The person we most cared about Thursday night at this position was obviously the starter, Joe Flacco. Flacco finished 3-for-6 with 60 yards passing, highlighted of course by Flacco’s first throw of the game to tight end Dennis Pitta for 27 yards. The ball appeared to be under-thrown behind defender Kurt Coleman, but Pitta went through and behind Coleman to make the play and come down with the catch. Both of Flacco’s other completions went to running back Ray Rice.
The other factor here at this position was the play of backup quarterback Tyrod Taylor, who played from the second quarter on to the finale of the game minus a series where he left with an injury. Taylor finished 19-of-28 for 179 yards and two interceptions-one on his third pass of the game trying to hit fellow rookie Torrey Smith. The other came with 3:12 left in the third quarter at the Eagles’ 8-yard line as Taylor was attempting to find Tandon Doss near the goaline.
Taylor also had another interception in the fourth quarter-this one by Colt Anderson-but it was taken off the board because the referee ruled Anderson was out of bounds.
Overall, Taylor looked more and more comfortable as the game went on, and didn’t have a lot of help from his offensive line. However-much like in camp, he still can’t seem to be consistent with his throws and when he does connect with a receiver-fails to put the ball in stride.
Thursday night may have forced Ozzie Newsome to bring up Marc Bulger’s # on his cell phone and have it ready just in case. I still believe Taylor makes the roster or the practice squad, but to be the backup quarterback as a rookie might be too much pressure on a developing kid like Taylor.
Running Back: 3/5 Yawns
Running back Ray Rice didn’t see a lot of action-which was the idea. Impressive tonight was reserve Jalen Parmele, who on top of his skills in the kick return game-proved that he is worthy of a RB spot on the roster with his seven carry, 35-yard performance against Philadelphia. With the offensive line not helping his cause, Parmele often found a hole and made solid yards after contact. It will be interesting to see how Parmele and fellow RB Anthony Allen find themselves once the recently-signed Ricky Williams finds playing time in preseason.
Wide Receivers/TE: 3/5 Yawns
The key stat here is that no wide receiver caught a pass until 1:26 left in the second quarter-when Tyrod Taylor found Tandon Doss for a 7-yard gain. The receivers throughout the game really lacked physicality, but down the stretch, it was good to see former Maryland Terp LaQuan Williams making plays when it counted. If he continues to make more, maybe he can work his way up the depth chart. I think the lack of the big receiver in James Hardy hurt the passing game, and it will be interesting to see if Ed Dickson never gains a shot at the starting tight end position with Dennis Pitta’s progress.
Offensive Line: 4/5 Yawns
The “dud” of the night was tackle Oniel Cousins, who of course has been in a battle with rookie Jah Reid for the starting right tackle spot. He didn’t help his cause at all as he allowed Eagles DE Darryl Tapp to have a field day with his former VT teammate, Tyrod Taylor. The offensive line allowed six sacks on the night, five of them on Taylor, and while some-especially the lone sack of Joe Flacco-could be attributed to receivers not getting open, the offensive line has to do a better job of allowing the quarterback time to make a play.
Marshal Yanda struggled playing with new faces, and interior lineman Justin Boren and Bryan Mattison struggled with the Eagles pass rush all night long.
Defensive Line: 1/5 Yawns
The defensive line may have been the star unit of the game. They did a very good job getting pressure on the quarterback, as well as stopping up the running lanes. The Ravens only allowed 88 yards on the ground for a 2.8 avg. Paul Kruger led the team in tackles with 5 and had one of the team’s two sacks.
Linebackers: 3/5 Yawns
This unit appeared to sway back-and-forth all game long. The real victim Thursday of this unit was Jameel McClain, who was picked on numerous times early in easy mismatches. This included Michael Vick’s first pass of the game to Jason Avant for a 40-yard gain, as well as the eventual touchdown to Brent Celek later on in the drive that put the Eagles up 7-3 with 8:04 left in the first quarter. All three linebackers fighting to play next to Ray Lewis (McClain, Ellerbe, & Gooden) all finished with three tackles apiece, and if anyone separated themselves from the pack, it was Ellerbe. Sergio Kindle found himself with playing time, registering two tackles as well.
Secondary: 3/5 Yawns
The secondary in my opinion was ordinary versus Philadelphia, but still played well at times. They were suspect to some big plays from the likes of Riley Cooper (42 yards) and Chad Hall (32 yard catch), but seeing the newly-acquired Bernard Pollard make plays including his 39-yard interception return with 1:50 left in the second quarter ending an Eagles scoring threat. Lardarius Webb did have a 93-yard fumble-return for a touchdown changed to an incomplete pass that took points off the board.
Special Teams 1/5
This is where I wish I changed my scale for yawns. The Raven special teams were excellent Thursday night, but boy…moving the kickoff to the 35 is the most boring thing in the world. Every kickoff now is touch back. I hope they change that rule in a week. K Billy Cundiff was 2-for-3 on FGs, missing from 55 yards out.
Be sure to tune in to “The Afternoon Drive” with Rex Snider Friday afternoon as we break down Friday’s game! WNST-We Never Stop Talking Baltimore Sports!
Follow me on Twitter at @RyanChell87!
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Posted on 10 August 2011 by Ryan Chell
Thursday night at Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia is the moment Ravens fans have all been in anticipation of as for the first time-even if it’s in exhibition mode-we will get a look at what the 2011 Ravens have in store when it comes to the product on the field.
With the labor turmoil behind us and now the focus solely on the game of football, coach John Harbaugh will now look to his expanded roster to see if there are going to be any concerns going forward in preseason as the team prepares for its Week 1 opener against the Steelers September 11th.
Here is a position-by-position look at some of the question marks going into Thursday against the Eagles, and hopefully some things we hope to see out of those players in the way of answers.
Quarterback-Obviously, Joe Flacco will start Thursday and will likely see two series of work or about a quarter of action. Flacco-who has improved his statistics in each of his first three seasons-doesn’t need to prove anything to anyone; however, he may need to get some game-action with some new faces. It will be interesting to see if Flacco continues to rely on Anquan Boldin as a security blanket early on, or if we see the eventual building of a rapport between Flacco and one of the newer faces in the receiving corps.
Once Flacco leaves, it will be on sixth-round pick Tyrod Taylor-who took a significant step forward his senior year at Virginia Tech-to try and prove he deserves the backup role to Joe Flacco. In camp so far, he has been back-and-forth with his accuracy, and it will be on Taylor to show the coaching staff they can have faith in a rookie as Joe Flacco’s backup-maybe the only backup at the position. If not, it gives 2010 practice squad quarterback Hunter Cantwell, who at least has more experience with the playbook than Taylor, to show what he can do under center.
Running Back-Running back Ray Rice will get his first taste of NFL action this year, but in this case, it will be a nibble. The Ravens definitely don’t want to risk injury to a player who is going to get a considerable amount of touches offensively-not just in the running game but also screen passes from Joe Flacco.
Also not playing Thursday will be the newly added Ricky Williams, who still may not be ready to suit up for the Ravens after signing this week. He is familiar with OC Cam Cameron’s playbook from their time in Miami, but all this means is that rookie Anthony Allen, Jalen Parmele, and Damien Berry will battle for carries and a roster spot or two behind Rice and Williams. Vonta Leach and the only other remaining FB on the roster, rookie free agent Ryan Mahaffey out of Northern Iowa, will clear the running lanes.
Wide Receivers-Behind the given in Boldin, this is a position where the Ravens are going to need immediate impact from some younger players, most notably two of their draft picks in Torrey Smith and Tandon Doss. Quarterback Joe Flacco has sworn by the route-running ability of Doss, the Ravens’ fourth-round pick and Smith has made several big plays during drills in camp.
However, Smith needs to prove that he can be a reliable option across from Boldin. Smith needs to focus on making catches outside of his body, which has caused the former Terp to drop several passes in camp.
Outside of Smith and Doss, it will be interesting to see if veterans Brandon Jones (Titans) and James Hardy (Bills) can make plays against some lesser competition across from them. It they do, it could help their causes in making the roster. Hardy-at 6’5, 220, could be a valuable asset in the red zone and along the sideline if shows the ability to go up and get a jump ball over a defender. Other players like Marcus Smith, Justin Harper, LaQuan Williams, etc need to make plays otherwise they’ll be finding their way off the roster.
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Posted on 26 April 2011 by Chris Pika
In the game of chicken the NFL and the NFLPA have played since the CBA expired in early March and the owners declared a lockout, the participants, fans and the media have all learned to assume nothing.
Most, myself included, expected Judge Susan Nelson of the U.S. District Court to rule in favor of the players in their preliminary injunction attempt to lift the lockout as part of the Brady v. NFL case. What was also expected was a stay from Judge Nelson to hold the lockout in place until an appeal to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit could be filed by the NFL.
So, Judge Nelson’s ruling to lift the lockout immediately, but to not issue a stay of her order until the NFL’s appeal could be heard has thrown the league into chaos on several points, some of which are not entirely clear to legal analysts specializing in sports law in the first hours following the issue of the order.
First, here is Judge Nelson’s full 89-page order issued Monday, April 25.
The NFLPA issued a statement Monday night:
Re: Brady, et al. v. NFL
We are class counsel along with Dewey LeBoeuf on behalf of the 10 named plaintiffs in the Brady lawsuit as well as the 1800 members of the soon to be Brady class. We are pleased with the ruling granting the plaintiffs preliminary injunction to lift the NFL owners’ illegal lockout issued this afternoon by Judge Susan Richard Nelson. We believe that this 89-page well-reasoned decision is totally consistent with prior precedent, governing caselaw as well as administrative rulings on all the issues raised by the NFL Defendants. We are confident that this ruling will withstand any appeals.
De Smith, co-class counsel and Executive Director of the NFLPA said; “I’m happy for our players and for our fans. Today, those who love football are the winners.”
In addition, plaintiff Osi Umenyiora stated: “Today’s ruling is a win for the players and for the fans that want to see a full NFL season in 2011. The lockout is bad for everyone and players will continue to fight it. We hope that this will bring us one step closer to playing the game we love.”
– James W. Quinn, Class Counsel
The NFL also issued a statement following the order:
We will promptly seek a stay from Judge Nelson pending an expedited appeal to the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals. We believe that federal law bars injunctions in labor disputes. We are confident that the Eighth Circuit will agree. But we also believe that this dispute will inevitably end with a collective bargaining agreement, which would be in the best interests of players, clubs and fans. We can reach a fair agreement only if we continue negotiations toward that goal.
The league, according to SI.com’s Peter King has filed two motions with Nelson’s court: a motion of clarification, seeking more info on the practical implications of the ruling, and a motion to stay the ruling while the Eighth Circuit hears the NFL’s appeal.
There are three possible outcomes, according to King. One, a stay which would keep the lockout in place until the Circuit Court hears and rules; two, no stay and an order to begin the 2011 NFL league year at her discretion; and three, passing the decision of a stay to the Eighth Circuit, which could take about a week to decide.
Judge Nelson’s order has set the following in motion:
The NFLPA via an email, according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter, advised players of their legal right to report to work at club facilities on Tuesday, April 26. It is unclear how many team player reps are telling players to report. Some like the Lions’ Kyle Vanden Bosch, have told players not to report for a day until the dust settles, while the Steelers’ rep Ryan Clark is telling teammates to report to work, according to ProFootballTalk.com.
Late Monday, according to Schefter, the NFL Management Council has told teams to let players into buildings on Tuesday, but also recommended keeping weight rooms closed and to have security in place to avoid any potential confrontations or photo opportunities for the media.
That advisement from the Management Council will avoid an awkward situation where team security directors, which assist players during normal labor times, would have been the ones turning the players away at the facilities or changing access codes the players use in some cities to access parking and the facilities.
ProFootballTalk.com is reporting that coaches have been told not to be in contact with players until the league has had a chance to seek a stay of Judge Nelson’s order.
Even if the league year is ordered to begin, there is plenty of uncertainty of if the previous CBA would apply going forward. Teams will also have some minefields in antitrust law to navigate, according to sports law professor Michael McCann in SI.com.
In the same article, McCann says the NFL’s appeal will hinge on two points: lack of jurisdiction by Judge Nelson because the National Labor Relations Board is yet to rule on the legality of the NFLPA’s decertification order and lack of irreparable harm to the players.
The league’s lawyers, led by David Boies, made those arguments in front of Judge Nelson in preparation for their appeal to the Eighth Circuit.
According to ESPN legal analyst Lester Munson, the owners may try to impose new work rules, or try to negotiate a new deal with the players, or try to do both.
Andrew Brandt of NationalFootballPost.com says that there is plenty that could still happen in the wake of Judge Nelson’s decision.
The league also faces a mid-May hearing in front of Judge David Doty as he will rule on potential award damages in the lawsuit filed by the players over the owners’ current television contracts. Those contracts would have provided a substantial “war chest” in a lockout. Judge Doty ruled for the players in March, and he will decide on those damages and if there should be an injunction on the TV contracts.
One major question also looms over the NFL Draft to be held over three days later this week. Teams were previously told that the only trades that could take place were ones involving draft picks in the 2011 and future drafts only. With a lifting of the lockout, no one is sure whether deals can be made involving current roster players under contract (for instance, Eagles QB Kevin Kolb).
The next week or so will be unique in NFL history on many levels. In any case, with less than three days before the 2011 NFL Draft, the chaos potential is very high for a league used to order in conducting its business off the field.
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