Tag Archive | "Prescott Burgess"

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After Stadium Practice, Better Idea of What Ravens Will Look Like in Preseason Opener

Posted on 06 August 2011 by Glenn Clark

BALTIMORE — Following an annual open practice at M&T Bank Stadium in front of 24,078; fans will not have another opportunity to see the Baltimore Ravens again until their preseason opener against the Philadelphia Eagles Thursday night at Lincoln Financial Field.

Sunday’s practice provided some clarity for Ravens fans however, as the team gave a look at would could be expected at various positions.

QUARTERBACK:

There’s of course no question as to who the team’s starting quarterback will be Thursday (Joe Flacco). But with starters not expected to play much in the opener, the retirement of 2010 backup Marc Bulger has left the Ravens with little experience behind him.

Rookie Tyrod Taylor (Virginia Tech) has worked as the team’s backup in Training Camp, and will be likely to get the most snaps Thursday night after Flacco departs. Following Taylor is Hunter Cantwell, a practice squad QB a year ago who is currently the team’s third stringer. Cantwell did VERY limited work in Saturday’s practice and appears to clearly be behind Taylor on the depth chart.

The team could still make a move to bring in a veteran backup before Thursday night, but it would be unlikely a new quarterback would get significant playing time as early as Thursday after limited practice.

RUNNING BACK:

Once again, the team has no questions as far as starters are concerned. 2009 Pro Bowl RB Ray Rice and 2010 Pro Bowl FB Vonta Leach will patrol the backfield to open the game; but neither are expected to play significant time.

The RB position behind Rice is wide open at the moment. The most likely candidates to enter after Rice are Jalen Parmele and rookie Anthony Allen (Georgia Tech), who have each taken second team reps in practice. Parmele is more probable, but both are expected to see a number of plays.

Undrafted rookie Damien Berry (Miami) appears to be fourth on the RB depth chart at the moment, but should keep getting work. If the Ravens don’t add veteran depth at the position, he’s very much in the battle for a roster spot. The team also has undrafted rookie and Mervo grad Walter Sanders (St. Augustine) on the roster, he’ll likely see a few snaps in the second half of Thursday night’s contest as well.

The wild card in the group is veteran RB/ST Matt Lawrence, who missed all of the 2010 season with a knee injury. Lawrence has had very little participation in camp thus far (he did not practice Saturday), but would be expected to see playing time Thursday night if healthy.

Undrafted FB Ryan Mahaffey (Northern Iowa) could see snaps behind Leach.

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Mocking The 53: A Positional Breakdown of Ravens Roster

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Mocking The 53: A Positional Breakdown of Ravens Roster

Posted on 08 June 2011 by Glenn Clark

Here is my first offseason/preseason ranking of the players who are currently property of the Baltimore Ravens or who were property of the team at the end of the 2010 season.

This list INCLUDES players who are not under contract-whether they are tendered restricted free agents, draft picks, exclusive rights free agents or even players who are expected to reach unrestricted free agency this offseason.

Unlike in the past, I will do this list by position as I attempt to further explain how the team’s roster currently shapes up.

I apologize for my delay in putting this compilation together. Blame Gary Williams…and the Triple Crown…and the team’s practices at Towson University…and my own laziness.

Obviously there is much to be done before any of this matters, but this is simply “as the roster stands now” analysis.

Quarterbacks (4):
Joe Flacco
Marc Bulger (UFA)
Tyrod Taylor
Hunter Cantwell

tyrod

The quarterback position is still in much less than full clarity at this point.

Joe Flacco has been a NFL quarterback for  55 games, including the playoffs. Joe Flacco has played every snap in 55 of those 55 games.

A season ago, the Ravens took a slight risk by parting ways with two backups-trading John Beck to the Washington Redskins during Training Camp and releasing Troy Smith after the preseason finale in St. Louis. They decided to carry only two active quarterbacks, paying a hefty price for veteran backup Marc Bulger.

Bulger appears to be out in Charm City, with most in the league believing he is destined to sign with the Arizona Cardinals. The Ravens knew they’d need to address quarterback depth during the draft and did so by selecting the explosive former Virginia Tech Hokies star (Taylor-pictured above) in the 6th round.

While Taylor (who hails from the quarterback hotbed of Hampton, Virginia) certainly has a number of supporters who believe him capable of being a legitimate starter in the league-he will not play that role in Baltimore unless there is turmoil this season one way or another (injury or failure).

Flacco is the starter. Taylor will have a great chance of making the roster. The real question facing the team is how else to address the position. It is believed that the Ravens will pursue another veteran QB of sorts when (if?) free agency finally begins. Miami Dolphins QB Chad Pennington has been a much rumored name the team could consider pursuing.

Should the Ravens not acquire a veteran free agent to backup Flacco, Cantwell could remain in the mix. He spent the entire 2010 season on the team’s practice squad-but has in the past been an active part of the Carolina Panthers’ roster.

With Taylor unlikely to be let go (or placed at risk of being taken away by trying to move him to the practice squad) but also unlikely to be the primary backup early in his career, it is fairly safe to assume the team will keep three quarterbacks this season.

Running Backs/Fullbacks (8):
Ray Rice
Le’Ron McClain
Willis McGahee
Jalen Parmele
Matt Lawrence
Jason McKie
Anthony Allen
Curtis Steele

parmele

Rice is obviously the team’s “featured” back. The issue for Cam Cameron’s offense this offseason is figuring out how to complement the fourth year back moving forward.

The worst kept secret in football is that the Ravens intend to part ways with McGahee because he is unwilling to take a cut from the $6 million he is owed. Should McGahee find the market slim there would always be a chance he could look towards Baltimore again, but it certainly appears unlikely.

With McGahee apparently gone, the Ravens will have to build their backfield without him. One option is McClain, who had his best season yet as a true fullback in 2010 (despite the fact that he was actually passed over for Pro Bowl recognition by Houston Texans FB Vonta Leach) but who has made clear his desire to carry the football more often.

McClain was initially thought to be on the cusp of reaching free agency this offseason (and departing), but without a new CBA McClain (and other fourth and fifth year players) would likely remain under contract. McClain’s size and potential goal line/short distance ability make him potentially a solid complement for Rice.

Should the Ravens move McClain into that role, they would likely need to consider keeping McKie or otherwise improving the fullback position. McKie was a non-factor during his brief stay at the end of the 2010 season-but could be a viable option in a thin market.

Parmele (pictured above) is the wild card in the backfield. The coaching staff has remained high on him throughout his time in Baltimore (and he has connections with Cameron dating back to the Dolphins). Parmele has remained a value special teams player (and is a viable return option), but he has run the ball only seven times in his career.

Lawrence, Allen and Steele are all question marks (and possibly longshots) to make the roster. Lawrence is a talented special teams player but missed the 2010 season with a torn ACL. Allen (the team’s 7th round pick in the 2011 NFL Draft) is hoping his 6’1″, 228 pound frame is enough to get him on the roster. Steele spent the 2010 season on the practice squad after signing as an undrafted free agent out of Memphis. The team liked his quick hitting ability, but he will have an uphill climb-especially if there is no Training Camp.

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Ranking The Ravens: A Postseason Breakdown of 53(+) Man Roster

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Ranking The Ravens: A Postseason Breakdown of 53(+) Man Roster

Posted on 21 January 2011 by Glenn Clark

In their new song, “Waiting For The End”, the band Linkin Park offered a lyric that should be considered particularly fitting for Baltimore Ravens fans.

The hardest part of ending is starting again…

With their 31-24 defeat at the hands of the Pittsburgh Steelers at Heinz Field in the AFC Divisional Round, the 2010-2011 NFL season has ended for the Ravens.

It didn’t take long for the team’s offseason to begin. Even with owners and players apparently headed towards a lockout, GM Ozzie Newsome, Director of Player Personnel Eric DeCosta, Senior Personnel Assistant George Kokinis and Director of College Scouting Joe Hortiz lead a front office hard at work in shaping what the 2011 Baltimore Ravens will look like…as long as there is a 2011 NFL season.

Members of the front office are already preparing for the NFL Draft, as they are scouting college seniors this week in Orlando at the East West Shrine Game. Next week they will be doing the same thing at the Senior Bowl in Mobile, AL.

As we enter the offseason, I’ll offer a variation of my preseason power rankings (you’ll remember my “Mocking the 53″ blogs) to review the team’s roster. This is a complicated review, as I factor in who had the best season, who has proved to a better player overall, the value of the position and contract status.

Players labeled as “UFA” are unrestricted free agents. Players labeled as “RFA” are restricted free agents. Players labeled as “ERFA” are exclusive rights free agents. Players labeled as “reserve/future” have reserve/future contracts.

Unique labeling on my part. I’m aware.

1. LB Terrell Suggs
2. DT Haloti Ngata (UFA)
3. RB Ray Rice
4. LB Ray Lewis
5. G Ben Grubbs

grubbs

While I said Tuesday Ngata was the team’s best player in 2010 (he also received my vote for/won the team’s Most Valuable Player award), his contract status leaves him second on the list.

Suggs was outstanding in 2010, proving his 2009 season was indeed a fluke after signing a big contract the proceeding offseason.

It is going to cost owner Steve Bisciotti a LOT of money to retain Ngata this offseason, but the Ravens are basically going to have to pay the price. Losing Ngata could absolutely WRECK the franchise’s plans defensively, as Ngata anchors what they do up front. It could only spell the end of Lewis’ career. If Ngata were to depart, Lewis could no longer be viewed as a Top 5 player on the roster for sure.

Rice’s fantasy football numbers were down in 2010, but his offensive impact certainly wasn’t. He remained the Ravens’ most dynamic playmaker and is expected to an offensive force for years to come.

It was interesting (for me) as I graded out players that I felt Grubbs was worthy of being a Top 5 player. Grubbs proved himself to be the team’s best and most reliable Offensive Lineman, and gives the team at least one more position they don’t have to worry about…for now.

6. WR Anquan Boldin
7. QB Joe Flacco
8. OT Michael Oher
9. K Billy Cundiff (UFA)
10. P Sam Koch (UFA)

koch

Everything at the receiver position has to be viewed as wide open right now…except for Boldin. He has to be viewed as the team’s top possession receiver no matter what Derrick Mason decides to do.

While Flacco is still a cornerstone for the franchise (and the suggestion made that the team should have him “compete” with Marc Bulger for the starting job is laughable), his move outside the Top 5 is a statement. He made SOME of the progress the team wanted him to make-but not all of it. There will be increasing pressure for that to happen next year.

Oher represents a tricky situation for the Ravens. While he struggled in 2010, he’s certainly not a BAD player. The team will have to figure out whether or not he has a long term future at LT. If he does (and he plays to that level), he’ll be a Top 5 player on this team for a long time.

Koch and Cundiff represent a unique problem for the team. During the 15 years of the team’s history, they’ve never been the type of organization that would spend a lot of money on a specialist. They’re going to have to pay two guys this offseason as top-tier specialists. These players were a SIGNIFICANT reason the team managed to win 12 regular season games and a playoff game this year.

11. TE Todd Heap
12. WR Derrick Mason
13. S Ed Reed
14. CB Domonique Foxworth
15. FB Le’Ron McClain (UFA)

mcclain

Heap, Mason and Reed are unique. If this list was based on ability and performance alone; there would be an argument they should all be in the Top 10. Their age leaves them on the outside looking in, as even if they return as expected the team will have to make decisions at their positions.

It might seem surprising that Foxworth is the highest ranked of the cornerbacks, but he was the team’s top guy before getting hurt and is the only guy (besides Lardarius Webb) in the group who actually has a contract.

The Ravens are in a VERY unique situation with McClain. He had a tremendous season at fullback; but doesn’t want to return as true fullback. To return, the two time Pro Bowler would have to be assured of more involvement in Cam Cameron’s offense. I’m not sure how likely that is.

16. CB Chris Carr (UFA)
17. LB Jarret Johnson
18. CB Lardarius Webb
19. CB Josh Wilson (UFA)
20. DE Cory Redding

redding

Carr had a great season and offered some legitimate stability to the team’s defensive backfield. That being said, there will be a question as to whether or not bringing him back will work monetarily. If he gets paid as a #1 corner, the Ravens might be in trouble. Wilson is in the same boat. The uncertainty surrounding those two corners helps Webb find himself ranked higher on the list.

My guess is that one of Carr and Wilson will be back, but not both.

Johnson and Redding are both solid contributors to the defense, and the Ravens can pencil them in for next season. They’ll need a healthier (or just somehow more effective) Johnson, and they’ll need to compliment Redding with a legitimate rush end.

21. S Dawan Landry (UFA)
22. WR TJ Houshmandzadeh (UFA)
23. TE Ed Dickson
24. DT Brandon McKinney
25. DT Kelly Gregg

kgregg

Like other players, the Ravens find themselves in a tricky spot when it comes to Landry. As a starter and solid contributor to one of the league’s better defenses over the last few years, Landry could find himself in position to make a lot of money on the free agent market. The Ravens may or may not be in a place to match that. He’s been good; but with restricted free agents Tom Zbikowski and Haruki Nakamura likely to return, it seems unlikely they would retain Landry at a high cost.

Houshmandzadeh almost seems to be in a “if Mason doesn’t come back” position. The Ravens can’t just retain all of their top three receivers and make progress offensively. If Mason retires, there would be a much greater likelihood of Houshmandzadeh returning.

Dickson showed signs of being a potential breakout performer in 2010, but never actually broke out. The team will look to expand his role as he continues to get more comfortable in the offense. He also represents the team’s best chance of limiting an aging Heap’s snaps in 2011.

It might look surprising at first to see McKinney listed ahead of a player like Gregg, but I think it represents an area where the Ravens can move forward. McKinney came on strong down the stretch, looking like a reliable cog on the defensive line. While Gregg made a fantastic play on Kansas City Chiefs RB Jamaal Charles in the AFC Wild Card playoff game at Arrowhead Stadium, he showed signs of aging as the season wore on, and it would be difficult to assume he could continue playing the majority of downs in the future.

26. OT Jared Gaither (UFA)
27. OL Marshal Yanda (UFA)
28. DT Terrence Cody
29. C Matt Birk
30. S Haruki Nakamura (RFA)

nakamura

My only gut instinct with Gaither is that the team won’t give him the type of premium price tag a top tier OT would probably expect. There’s an argument as to whether or not ANYONE should pay Gaither that price, but my guess is that someone will. The Ravens don’t want to see Yanda depart, but there’s a chance another NFL team will choose to offer him legitimate tackle money because he played the position in 2010.

The Ravens likely can’t be in position to overpay a player like Yanda, but they certainly to solidify their O-Line. Birk could still decide to retire; but even if he doesn’t the team has to make future plans for the position.

Cody showed SOME signs of being a future contributor during the 2010 season, but probably not enough that the Ravens can feel comfortable with expecting him to play every down in 2011. Nakamura could be very important, as he would be the most likely to step into the role should Landry depart in free agency.

31. RB Willis McGahee
32. DE Paul Kruger
33. LB Jameel McClain (RFA)
34. LB Tavares Gooden (RFA)
35. LB Dannell Ellerbe (ERFA)

ellerbe

I’m going to guess that McGahee won’t be getting the $19.7 million owed to him over the last three years of his contract. The most likely scenario probably involves McGahee not returning to Charm City next season. But if he’s willing to take a pay cut, there’s still a chance he could be a solid compliment to Rice behind an improved O-Line.

Paul Kruger started to show some signs at the end of the season that he might be able to contribute in the future. Unfortunately, that’s probably not the level of progression the team had in mind for the 2009 2nd round pick. 2011 could be a “make or break” type of year for Kruger.

And then there’s McClain/Gooden/Ellerbe. Does anyone else want to try to figure this out? The team clearly hoped one player in this group would separate themselves out at McDaniel College in Westminster during Training Camp in 2010, but that clearly didn’t happen. They also hoped one would separate themselves during the 2010 season. That didn’t happen either.

Of the group, McClain has probably shown himself to be the most steady, but is equally vulnerable against the pass. Gooden is probably the best against the pass, but there’s a joke in there about being the prettiest girl at fat camp. Ellerbe showed some capability of making plays in the backfield, but looks lost against the pass.

It looks like all three will end up returning in 2011. It also looks like the Ravens will be in a very familiar position when (if?) the season begins.

36. WR/KR David Reed
37. CB Fabian Washington (UFA)
38. S Tom Zbikowski (RFA)
39. LS Morgan Cox
40. OL Chris Chester (UFA)

chester

Whether or not David Reed can someday contribute at receiver is still to be determined. But he clearly came on as a kick returner until a concussion and a wrist injury cut his season short. He’ll have to stay out of trouble off the field, but it looks like the Ravens have a solid piece of the puzzle in Reed.

Washington made it clear earlier this week he wouldn’t return to the team unless his role was expanded. There’s a chance his role could be expanded if Carr and Wilson depart. Otherwise, it doesn’t look good. Zbikowski will almost certainly be back, the organization will now have to determine whether or not he is capable of replacing Ed Reed on a full-time basis whenever the future Hall of Famer walks away from the game.

Cox did a nice job of solidifying the long snapper position after beating veteran Matt Katula out during the preseason. The only concern surrounding Cox is how quickly he’ll be able to return from the torn ACL he suffered against the Cleveland Browns, but it appears as though he’ll be ready to go.

Chester will be another tough decision for the Ravens. If another team is willing to pay him to be an every down linemen, the organization will have to think hard before matching. Chester has shown himself as being reliable, but I think he’s only a starter in Baltimore if Yanda were to depart…or the Ravens were forced to keep Yanda at Tackle.

41. CB Cary Williams (ERFA)
42. OL Tony Moll (UFA)
43. LB Jason Phillips
44. QB Marc Bulger (UFA)
45. WR Donte’ Stallworth (UFA)

stallworth

Williams could be in a good spot this offseason. As an exclusive rights free agent, he could be in a good position to come back and get more playing time should some of the corners ahead of him sign elsewhere. He’s 6’1″, and the team liked him at least enough to hold on to him through a suspension to start the 2010 season.

Moll looks like a solid option to return and give the O-Line important depth. He’s capable of playing multiple positions to at least a solid level. He’s not good enough to be an every down player and it’s unlikely that another team will choose to pay him that way.

Phillips showed signs in 2010, probably enough that he will enter the 2011 season on the “good” side of the roster bubble. He certainly can’t be considered a lock at this point however.

Bulger will likely only return to the team if he isn’t offered a starting job elsewhere. With Jim Harbaugh now in charge of the San Francisco 49ers, it wouldn’t be stunning to see him consider Bulger. If the options are for backup jobs-or even jobs where Bulger would have to “compete” for a starting gig, it wouldn’t surprise me at all to see him return to Baltimore.

Some of the fan frustration surrounding Cam Cameron certainly centers around Stallworth, who seems unlikely to return. The Ravens need a speed receiver option, but it has to be a player they’ll trust to send out and stretch the field.

46. TE Dennis Pitta
47. LB Brendon Ayanbadejo
48. DT Arthur Jones
49. WR Marcus Smith (UFA)
50. DT Lamar Divens (RFA)

divens

The lack of involvement from Pitta in 2010 was disappointing, but he was often a victim of only being able to dress 53 players. His role should expand in 2011.

Ayanbadejo and Smith are interesting cases. Both are special teams players only for the most part, and the team will have to determine how much value they have. Smith is unlikely to generate much interest elsewhere, Ayanbadejo isn’t getting any younger. Both could return, but I don’t think they’re guarantees.

Jones and Divens are both solid players who have the “look” of Ravens defensive linemen. The only issue for new Defensive Coordinator Chuck Pagano is that he’s inheriting a bunch of these type of players. They’re big, they move fairly well and they can control gaps. Jones will clearly be back in 2011, Divens is the question mark.

51. LB Prescott Burgess (UFA)
52. RB Jalen Parmele (RFA)
53. OT Oniel Cousins (RFA)
54. WR James Hardy (reserve/future)

55. TE Davon Drew (ERFA)

ddrew

Burgess was a solid Special Teams contributor who was also able to get a handful of positive snaps defensively. There’s a chance he could generate interest elsewhere, we remember the New England Patriots grabbed him when he was available in 2009.

Parmele could stand to benefit from a McGahee departure, but probably wouldn’t be a great option as the top compliment to Rice.

Cousins gives the team a cheap reserve tackle. I can’t fathom anyone will be hot after him, so he seems like a player that will at least make it to Westminster with a chance to retain his job.

Hardy is interesting. He climbed the list after comments by Newsome in the team’s Season Review press conference. There was a reason Hardy was once a second round pick by the Buffalo Bills. There’s also a reason why he was unemployed a season ago. Either way, he’s 6’5″. The Ravens don’t have any other receivers of that size right now.

Davon Drew is the fourth of four TE’s on the roster. That would be a problem in a lot of places, but when the General Manager is a former Tight End, it bodes well for the chances of sticking around.

56. LB Sergio Kindle (ERFA)
57. DT Kelly Talavou (ERFA)
58. RB Matt Lawrence (RFA)
59. QB Hunter Cantwell (reserve/future)
60. WR Justin Harper (reserve/future)

harper

Kindle is such a question mark (as he continues to recover from a fractured skull) that it really doesn’t matter how much talent he might have. Until there’s reason to believe he’ll be able to return next season, he can’t be an assumed part of the 53 man roster.

If Talavou is able to come back healthy, he’s highly thought of by the organization. He could be the insurance that allows the team to let someone like Divens go elsewhere.

Lawrence is a good Special Teams player if he’s healthy. It will be an uphill battle for him to make the roster in Training Camp, especially after missing the entire 2010 season.

Cantwell is the team’s 3rd quarterback, but has only a cup of coffee worth of experience on an active roster with the Carolina Panthers in 2009. If the Ravens decided to go with three QB’s again, he’d have a decent chance to make the roster.

Harper is tall. Harper has only ever been on the active roster briefly. The team’s website apparently doesn’t know Harper wears number 82. That’s where we’re at with Harper.

61. OL Ramon Harewood
62.
OL Bryan Mattison (contract status unknown)
63. OL Daniel Sanders (contract status unknown)
64. RB Curtis Steele (reserve/future)
65. DE Albert McClellan (reserve/future)
66. CB Danny Gorrer (reserve/future)
67. OT Brady Bond (reserve/future)
68. OT Andre Ramsey (reserve/future)
69. LS Kevin Houser (UFA)

I’d provide a picture of Kevin Houser here, but even the team’s official site doesn’t have one.

If they all return (and are healthy); Harewood, Mattison and Sanders will compete to try to provide depth along the O-Line. Harewood could give the team an insurance policy if they choose to cut ties with Cousins, Sanders could prove to be the team’s center of the future when Birk hangs up the cleats. A local writer joked with me that Mattison had been “on scholarship” in recent seasons-that would probably come to an end now as his father (former Defensive Coordinator Greg Mattison) has departed for Michigan.

Steele has the look of a potential weapon at the next level. If he can work his way into the return game, he’d have a much better shot of making the roster.

McClellan is employed by the Ravens, as is Gorrer. I’m going to guess most of you didn’t know that. Neither has a realistic path to the active roster.

Bond and Ramsey are big. My guess is that both of them will find their way onto an active roster in the National Football League someday. It probably won’t be in Baltimore however.

It might not be fair for me to rank Houser last on this list. He’s a NFL player, which is more than anyone else in this final group can really say. But his ONLY chance of returning to the team is if Cox can’t return from his torn ACL. There’s a chance he might not be ready for the start of Training Camp, but it’s unlikely it will be a factor moving towards the 2011 regular season.

(Thanks to BaltimoreRavens.com for the pictures!)

-G

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Live From Owings Mills: Harbaugh Says Cameron Will Remain Offensive Coordinator

Posted on 17 January 2011 by Glenn Clark

OWINGS MILLS, Md. — The Baltimore Ravens (13-5) returned to 1 Winning Drive Monday, less than 48 hours after their season ended with a 31-24 loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers (13-4) at Heinz Field in an AFC Divisional Round playoff game.

Head Coach John Harbaugh put to rest any rumors he would consider firing Offensive Coordinator Cam Cameron Monday.

“Cam Cameron is our offensive coordinator” said Harbaugh. “That’s how we’re going forward. I know Cam is a tremendous coach.”

Harbaugh indicated no other coaches would be at risk of losing their jobs based on the team’s performance.

“I really like our coaching staff” said Harbaugh. “I think we have a great, great coaching staff. Top to bottom-that includes all three coordinators, that includes every one of our position coaches, there’s not a guy that I’m disappointed in.”

The Ravens finished just 22nd in the NFL in total offense in 2010, despite the additions of WR’s Anquan Boldin, TJ Houshmandzadeh and Donte’ Stallworth in the offseason, as well as the draft selections of TE’s Ed Dickson and Dennis Pitta

Harbaugh said the statistics didn’t affect his decision process with Cameron.

“He’s the same guy that was the offensive coordinator three years ago when everybody said we (outperformed) our expectations, and even last year. We had a tough year statistically, but we did win a lot of football games with that offense. There are things we can do a lot better, and we’re going to go to work on those things.”

FOCUS ON FREE AGENTS: The Ravens enter an offseason which will be based in as much uncertainty as the league itself.

The team has 17 unrestricted free agents, eight additional restricted free agents and five exclusive rights free agents.

The team’s unrestricted free agents are Houshmandzadeh, Stallworth, DT Haloti Ngata, FB Le’Ron McClain, CB Josh Wilson, CB Chris Carr, OT Jared Gaither, OL Marshal Yanda, OL Chris Chester, OL Tony Moll, S Dawan Landry, CB Fabian Washington, K Billy Cundiff, P Sam Koch, QB Marc Bulger, LB Prescott Burgess and LS Kevin Houser.

The restricted free agents are S Tom Zbikowski, S Haruki Nakamura, LB Tavares Gooden, LB Jameel McClain, WR Marcus Smith, OT Oniel Cousins, DT Lamar Divens and RB Jalen Parmele. LB Sergio Kindle, DT Kelly Talavou, TE Davon Drew, CB Cary Williams and LB Dannell Ellerbe are exclusive rights free agents.

Harbaugh said Monday the team will focus offseason plans on retaining their own free agents.

“We’re going to try to get back as many of these guys as we possibly can” said the coach. “Because we like our players.”

Harbaugh said he had high hopes that many of the team’s free agents would return.

“Talking to the guys today, the vast majority of guys really want to be here.”

Coming off a second straight Pro Bowl selection and a season in which he was voted the team’s MVP, Ngata is the most important player to get back according to Harbaugh.

“I believe Haloti Ngata will be a Raven for life” said the coach. “That’s the goal. He’s told me he wants to be here. I believe the organization wants him here. It’s priority number one to have Haloti Ngata here.”

Houshmandzadeh said he’d like to return to Charm City, but admitted an expanded role would play a significant part in making his decision.

“I want to come back because I had fun here and I enjoyed myself” said the receiver. “I do want to be a starter. I do because that’s what I’ve been. It’s hard to adjust.”

Free agency cannot begin until owners and the NFLPA agree to a new Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA).

NOTES: Hear from Harbaugh, Houshmandzadeh, L. McClain, Houshmandzadeh, Stallworth, Cundiff, Koch, Washington, Wilson, Kindle, Bulger, QB Joe Flacco, LB Ray Lewis, LB Jarret Johnson, C Matt Birk and WR Derrick Mason now in the BuyAToyota.com Audio Vault here at WNST.net……L. McClain joined Rex Snider Monday on “The Afternoon Drive” on AM1570 WNST, that chat is also available in the Audio Vault……The Ravens will select 26th in the 2011 NFL Draft……A team source told WNST’s Drew Forrester a contract extension for Harbaugh should be considered “imminent”……The Ravens signed all seven practice squad players to reserve/future contracts. WR Justin Harper, RB Curtis Steele, CB Danny Gorrer, QB Hunter Cantwell, OL Andre Ramsey, OL Brady Bond and LB Albert McClellan joined former Buffalo Bills WR James Hardy in getting such contracts……Harbaugh, GM Ozzie Newsome, Team President Dick Cass and owner Steve Bisciotti will hold their season review press conference Thursday afternoon in Owings Mills

-G

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Live From Owings Mills: Gooden, Burgess Miss Practice Again

Posted on 30 December 2010 by Glenn Clark

OWINGS MILLS, Md. — The Baltimore Ravens (11-4) returned to practice Thursday at 1 Winning Drive, continuing preparations for Sunday’s regular season finale against the Cincinnati Bengals (4-11) at M&T Bank Stadium.

LB Tavares Gooden missed a second straight day of practice Thursday, he dislocated his shoulder in the Ravens’ Week 16 win over the Cleveland Browns at Cleveland Browns Stadium. Defensive Coordinator Greg Mattison said Thursday he thought Gooden would try to get on the field Sunday.

“He’ll try to if the doctors gave him the okay” said Mattison. “Tavares Gooden will do anything he can do to play, there’s no question. That’s like everybody on our defense. They know how important this game is.”

With a win and a Pittsburgh Steelers loss to the Cleveland Browns, the Ravens would clinch the AFC North title and a first round bye in the AFC playoffs.

S Tom Zbikowski (back) also did not participate in practice Thursday. Zbikowski has not played since being forced to leave the team’s Week 14 win over the Houston Texans at Reliant Stadium in the first half. Head Coach John Harbaugh said Monday he did not expect the safety to be available for Sunday’s game.

S Ed Reed (neck) and LB Prescott Burgess (illness) did not practice Thursday either, neither is believed to be at risk of missing Sunday’s game.

C Matt Birk (knee) returned to practice Thursday and was a full participant after missing Wednesday’s game. TE Todd Heap (thigh), WR Derrick Mason (ankle/abs), TE Dennis Pitta (head) and CB Fabian Washington (back) were all full participants as well.

WR/KR David Reed (wrist/head) was a limited participant Thursday, he’s on track to play Sunday for the first time since suffering a concussion in the team’s Week 15 win over the New Orleans Saints.

The Bengals announced Thursday (via Twitter) WR Chad Ochocinco (ankle) will not make the trip to Charm City.

Three other Bengals did not participate in practice Thursday. TE Jermaine Gresham (knee), CB Johnathan Joseph (ankle) and LB Dan Skuta (back) were not on the practice field.

RB Bernard Scott (toe) was a limited participant for the Bengals Thursday, DE Carlos Dunlap (shoulder) was a full participant.

NOTES: Coordinators Mattison, Cam Cameron & Jerry Rosburg met with reporters following practice Thursday, those chats are available now in the BuyAToyota.com Audio Vault here at WNST.net……OL Chris Chester joined Drew Forrester Thursday on “The Morning Reaction”, that chat is available in the Audio Vault……DE Paul Kruger is scheduled to join Forrester Friday morning at 7:15am……Pete Morelli’s crew will officiate Sunday’s game……The Ravens announced Thursday they will give away purple Under Armour wristbands to fans who attend Sunday’s game. The wristbands are intended to support the Wounded Warrior Project……New Ravens LS Kevin Houser will wear #70. The number was previously worn by Matt Katula, the veteran LS who was released by the team during Training Camp after five seasons in Baltimore……The Ravens will return to practice Friday, Harbaugh is scheduled to meet with the media following Friday’s practice

-G

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Live from Owings Mills: Ravens sign veteran long snapper; Ravens tight ends return to practice

Posted on 29 December 2010 by Ryan Chell

Ravens sign long-snapper

The uncertainty regarding who would fill the void left by the injury to long snapper Morgan Cox Sunday versus the Browns was ended Wednesday at Owings Mills during John Harbaugh’s press conference, as Harbaugh was immediately asked who would take over for Cox.

The team signed Kevin Houser, a tenth-year veteran out of Ohio State, was brought to Owings Mills last night for a physical. The news broke Wednesday that he had signed with the club, and he was already hard at work working with kicker Billy Cundiff on his rapport with his new teammate in practice that afternoon.

Houser was drafted in the seventh round of the 2000 NFL Draft by the New Orleans Saints and spent nine seasons in New Orleans. At one point, he had been the longest-tenured Saint several season ago and he was the veteran presence the Ravens said they were looking for.

“He’s a veteran guy, and he did real well in the workout yesterday, and we’ll see how well he does today in practice,” Ravens coach John Harbaugh said.

There were specific things Coach Harbaugh-a former special teams coach in his own right-that he expected out of the ideal candidate to replace Morgan Cox.

“You look at how he does with protection, how he handles the movement, and stuff that goes along with protection,” Ravens coach John Harbaugh said. “You look at his anchor a little bit in case they try and bull rush him in there. There’s some things you work with that’s similar to pass protection with offensive lineman…. the ability to recover off the snap, get his head up, and how he handles some of the calls and the different things we do with our protection.

The Ravens also brought in veterans Bryan Pittman, Ethan Albright, and Jake Ingram but none of them seemed to fit with what the Ravens wanted to do.

Pittman didn’t even pass the physical, Harbaugh said.

Morgan Cox left Sunday’s game versus the Browns with a torn ACL and a damaged MCL and will be lost for the year. He played the remainder of Sunday’s game with the injury but was lost on punt and kick coverage.

Cox had played at a solid level this season and the team was looking for a guy to pick up right where Cox left off.

“These guys have been around. Most protections are very similar in the NFL. That’s why we really wanted a veteran. Those guys understand the schemes and they’ve done the techniques and they should be ready to plug right in.

Wednesday’s Practice: We fully expected Wednesday that the only Ravens not to be present at practice  were safety Tom Zbikowski, who is out with a back injury, and LB Tavares Gooden who still is hurting with a  separated shoulder on his left side.

With Zbikowski’s injury continuing to linger, he could be placed on IR soon to keep a healthy roster spot in place going into the playoffs.

But joining Zbikowski and Gooden who did not participate in practice were center Matt Birk who has shown up on the injury report in the past with a knee injury, and a curious scratch was LB Prescott Burgess, who normally would have made his mark during the special teams part of practice.

He was listed on the injury report because of illness, and over the last several weeks we have seen several Ravens players miss practice due the contagious flu bug floating around the Ravens locker room.

However, both tight ends Dennis Pitta(concussion) and Todd Heap(thigh/hamstring) were present during the open session of practice that the media were able to witness. Heap did most of his work off to the side just wearing sweats.

Kick return was the main focus of special teams practice and Jalen Parmele took all the drills at returning kicks with David Reed(concussion) still on the mends.

Reed was present at practice but did not participate in the drills. He was listed as limited in drills on the Ravens’ Wednesday injury report.

Five Ravens Named to Pro Bowl:

Yesterday’s Pro Bowl announcement came down last night and the AFC Roster will be represented by five Baltimore Ravens, but no offensive players from the Ravens will be going to Hawaii the week before the Super Bowl.

Linebacker Ray Lewis, LB/DE Terrell Suggs, DT Haloti Ngata, S Ed Reed, and kicker Billy Cundiff all have been named to the Pro Bowl, with the list being announced Tuesday night.

Ray Lewis will be going to his twelfth Pro Bowl trip. Suggs will be going to his fourth, and Reed will be going to his seventh in his nine-year career. Ngata is going for the second straight year.

But Cundiff will be going for the first time in his career, which should be a tremendous honor for a kicker who joined the team only a year ago as a band-aid to a struggling position.

It was the media’s first opportunity to catch up with the players since the announcement at practice, and in reality, the team still said that the honors are secondary to Cincinnati on Sunday and their path through the playoffs towards eventually getting to Dallas.

“It’s bitter sweet,” Suggs said. “It’s good to be recongized not only by other coaches and other players amongst the other teams and the fans. It’s good. It’s really good. Don’t get me wrong.”

“But we still want the Lombardi. I’ve been to Hawaii. This will be my fourth time. But I really would love to play in the Super Bowl.”

This is the first year the Pro Bowl will be played the week BEFORE the Super Bowl instead of after the big game. The Super Bowl participants will miss the annual all-star game.

“It really didn’t mean too much,” quarterback Joe Flacco said, who was named a third alternate to the AFC quarterback position. “I think that if you’re a Pro-Bowl guy, you are and an alternate is an alternate.”

“I’m not real worried about that,” Flacco continued.  “The Pro Bowl is the Pro Bowl, and I’m focused on playing good football games and coming in looking at the tape and having my coaches say, “Yeah, you played a hell of a game today’ and me feeling the same way.

Other alternates included guard Ben Grubbs, FB Le’Ron McClain, and punter Sam Koch. They were named as second alternates, and the third alternates were Flacco and Michael Oher.

Fourth alternates were Ray Rice, wide receiver Anquan Boldin, and safety Dawan Landry.

Probably the biggest snub of them all-at least according to the Ravens-was Koch not getting to the Pro Bowl.

“But Sam Koch, for sure, has had a Pro Bowl year. Some of the things Sam does are unrecognized by the voters sometime. He doesn’t have a huge gross average, but he kicks directionally, he puts it out of bounds 40, 45 yards on a pretty regular basis. The pooch punting has been phenomenal. I would say he is deserving,” Harbaugh noted.

Suggs even wore Koch’s white jersey out to practice as a sign of respect toward his teammate on special teams.

Preparing for the Bengals

Make no mistake. Despite the team’s playoff’s goals, the focus of the team was on Cincinnati alone on Sunday.

The Bengals-despite their 4-11 mark-come in winners of two straight games and winners of their last three decisions against the Baltimore Ravens, including a 15-10 victory in Week 2 of this season with Mike Nugent hitting five field goals.

The Ravens understand the need to finish the regular season strong going into the playoffs no matter where they go.

“Defensively, I’ve got to tell my defense to keep doing what we’re doing,” Lewis said. “In the last game where we lost, we gave up five field goals. They didn’t get in our end zone. Any time you can play at that high of a level coming home, now it’s our time to finish it off.”

They also see the Bengals as a challenge despite the less-than-stellar record, especially given their recent slide and struggles against Cincinnati.

“It seems like they’re always dangerous when they play us,” Harbaugh said. “When you watch them on tape, it does not look like a team that’s not a winning team. On tape, they look like a winning football team.”

“We know how good these guys are. We’ve played them enough. We understand what they’re about, and it’s going to be one of those AFC North kind of games.”

One guy definitely looking for a rebound game is quarterback Joe Flacco, who in Week 2, had probably his worst game of the season, completing 17-of-39 passes for for 154 yards for one touchdown while throwing four costly interceptions.

“I think we put that behind us pretty quickly,” Flacco said. “We’ve moved on and had a pretty good season.”

Since that game, Flacco has really rebounded well, throwing 24 TDs while only throwing four interceptions. But his coach still felt like that game in particular was not the thing that changed Flacco for the better. He always had it in him to take care of the football, said Harbaugh.

“Joe’s been about good ball security here for three years,” Harbaugh said. “So, I don’t think that there was an epiphany that now it’s important. Obviously, that cost us in that game. Joe realizes that. I think it’s one of Joe’s strengths anyway.”

There are four different scenarios that could play out after Sunday’s contest versus the Bengals. The Ravens have guaranteed themselves at least the fifth-seed in the playoffs and depending upon the results on Sunday, the Ravens could either be headed to Jacksonville, Kansas City, and most likely Indianapolis.

And if the Steelers were to lose to Cleveland, the Ravens would earn the second seed in the playoffs and have a first-round bye.

The Ravens said that while taking care of their own business against the Bengals is their primary goal, they did admit that it will be tough to not be looking at the scoreboard when it comes to the Pittsburgh-Cleveland result going on at the same time.

“When the score comes up, I’m sure all of us are going to take a look,” John Harbaugh said. “And we’re going to know by the crowd’s reaction. So I don’t have a problem with that. We’re going to play the game. We have all the focus on Cincinnati.”

“It’s hard not to watch it,” Ray Lewis said. “But we do understand that we need to take care of our business. If we don’t care of our business, none of that matters.”

Tune into WNST as we continue to follow the Ravens through the 2010 season finale! WNST-We Never Stop Talking Baltimore Sports!

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Live From Owings Mills: Chris Chester questionable for Sunday while Zbikowski ruled out

Posted on 19 November 2010 by Glenn Clark

OWINGS MILLS, Md. — The Baltimore Ravens (6-3) held their final open practice Friday before Sunday’s battle with the Carolina Panthers (1-8) at Bank Of America Stadium in Charlotte.

Head Coach John Harbaugh revealed Friday that starting RG Chris Chester had to be hospitalized Thursday night due to a skin issue.

“Chris has a skin issue that came up last night, he had to go to the hospital” said Harbaugh. “It’s not serious, but it’s something that was causing him a lot of pain. I don’t know what the name of it is. They’re going to work on the infection and make sure it’s okay.”

At 2:30 when the game status list and the injury report was listed, Chester was listed as questionable with an “illness.”

Chester did not practice Friday, and before his game status was official, Harbaugh said his status wasn’t determined for Sunday’s game when he spoke to the media. “We think he’ll be here for Sunday, but you never know with those things.”

Should Chester not be able to play Sunday, OL Tony Moll would be expected to start at RG in his place.

“You always have to be ready” said Moll. “That’s the way we prepare. You have to be able to play wherever they need you, especially as a backup.”

And while there is a chance Chester could still play Sunday versus the Panthers,  safety Tom Zbikowski(foot) has been ruled out for Sunday’s game.

Zbikowski has not practiced since suffering a bruised heel in the team’s Week 6 loss to the New England Patriots at Gillette Stadium.

Harbaugh said Friday there was “no chance” Zbikowski would end up being placed on Injured Reserve (IR) due to the injury.

“We were targeting this week. We were hopeful. It didn’t happen. We’re shooting for next week.”

YANDA’S BABY BOY: OL Marshal Yanda returned to practice Friday after his fiance gave birth to a baby boy Thursday night.

Graham Marshal was born at 7:43 Thursday night. He weighed in at eight pounds, six ounces and was measured at 21 and 3/4 inches long.

“It was awesome” said Yanda. “It was the best day of my life, no question. Watching it come out and cry and being able to hold him and stuff, it was awesome. There’s nothing better. People always tell you that’s a life changer and you keep it in the back of your mind but you can’t ever prepare for it until it comes out like that. It’s just an awesome day.”

Yanda said he and his fiance (the couple is set to wed in July 2011) chose to induce labor Thursday.

“We had her induced yesterday because she was probably going to have it this weekend and I didn’t want to be gone for the Carolina game. So we induced her on Thursday and kind of figured that would be the best day. I’d practice Wednesday, get Thursday and then practice again today and be ready again tomorrow and then take off tomorrow. We planned it that way.”

PRACTICE REPORT: After missing Thursday’s practice, CB Fabian Washington (illness) and Yanda returned to the field at 1 Winning Drive Friday. Both are expected to be available to play Sunday.

Washington said he was feeling better Friday. “I would just say it was a bad cold. I had flu like symptoms, but not the flu.”

NOTES: Hear from Harbaugh, Yanda and CB Fabian Washington NOW in the BuyAToyota.com Audio Vault here at WNST.net……LB Prescott Burgess joined Drew Forrester Friday on “The Morning Reaction” on AM1570 WNST, you can hear that chat in the Audio Vault as well……According to Weather.com/The Weather Channel, it is expected to be sunny and 70 degrees Sunday in the Queen City. The Ravens practiced outdoors Thursday & Friday after practicing indoors Wednesday……The Ravens will hold a walkthrough Saturday morning before traveling to Charlotte. Saturday’s walkthrough will be closed to the media

-G

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Live From Owings Mills: Ravens Ready to Face Panthers QB St. Pierre

Posted on 18 November 2010 by Glenn Clark

OWINGS MILLS, Md. — The Baltimore Ravens (6-3) returned to the practice field Thursday, continuing preparations for Sunday’s showdown with the Carolina Panthers (1-8) at Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte.

Panthers coach John Fox ended speculation today by confirming that the team will start veteran QB Brian St. Pierre in Sunday’s game. St. Pierre was with the Ravens during the 2005 season, Sunday will mark the first career NFL start for the 8th year QB out of Boston College.

Ravens Defensive Coordinator Greg Mattison said he had some familiarity with St. Pierre from his time at BC. Despite St. Pierre’s lack of experience, Mattison said “that’s their quarterback. He’s an NFL quarterback. We have to get after him.”

St. Pierre has thrown just five passes in his NFL career, including one touchdown last season while with the Arizona Cardinals. He was selected to start ahead of rookie Tony Pike; as Jimmy Clausen will miss Sunday’s game due to a concussion suffered in the team’s Week 10 loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Matt Moore began the season as the team’s starting QB, but he was placed on Injured Reserve (IR) on November 8 with a shoulder injury.

While Mattison was addressing the media Thursday, Ravens LB Terrell Suggs was lingering nearby. Mattison asked the former Pro Bowl LB what he knew about St. Pierre, to which Suggs responded “I know how to get after his ass.”

ROSBURG STICKING WITH DAVID REED: Special Teams Coordinator Jerry Rosburg confirmed Thursday that WR David Reed would remain the team’s kick returner moving forward.

“I think David Reed has grown every week that we’ve put him back there” said Rosburg. “You see things in the returns that you like to see. This last week I saw him split the middle on one of our returns. If we were able to get the safety, he might have made a big play.”

Rosburg was not as forthcoming with information about who would return punts moving forward. “We’ll find out Sunday” said Rosburg.

Rosburg confirmed that WR Donte’ Stallworth, CB Lardarius Webb and S Tom Zbikowski are all part of the punt return picture. Zbikowski has not played since suffering a bruised heel in the Ravens’ Week 6 loss to the New England Patriots in Foxborough.

Rosburg was clearly frustrated with Webb losing a fumble in the Ravens’ Week 10 loss to the Atlanta Falcons at the Georgia Dome.

“The first priority we have whenever we’re going out there in the return game is to give our offense the ball” said Rosburg. “It’s something we’ve been working on. We have a high priority in ball security.”

PRACTICE REPORT: S Tom Zbikowski (foot) was again the only Ravens player missing from the open portion of practice Thursday. Zbikowski is not expected to be available for Sunday’s game.

OT Marshal Yanda missed practice Thursday, Offensive Coordinator Cam Cameron later confirmed Yanda missed practice because his wife was in labor with their first child. Yanda is expected to play Sunday.

CB Fabian Washington (illness) did not participate in practice Thursday after being limited on Wednesday. TE Todd Heap (chest) was limited for a second straight day, LB Tavares Gooden (head) was a full participant after being limited Wednesday.

The Panthers again had a long list of players who did not participate in practice Thursday. Clausen (concussion), S Marcuas Hudson (ankle), DE Charles Johnson (hip), WR Brandon LaFell (concussion), RB Jonathan Stewart (concussion), RB Tyrell Sutton (ankle) and OT Travelle Wharton (toe) were all held out of practice.

LB Jon Beason (knee) was a limited participant Thursday after missing practice Wednesday. DE Greg Hardy (concussion) and LB Nic Harris (knee) were limited participants for a second straight day.

NOTES: Hear from Cameron, Mattison, Rosburg, David Reed and RB Ray Rice NOW in the BuyAToyota.com Audio Vault here at WNST.net……Ravens LB Sergio Kingle (Reserve Non-Injury) joined Drew Forrester Thursday on “The Morning Reaction” on AM1570 WNST, that chat is available in the Audio Vault as well. LB Prescott Burgess is scheduled to join Forrester Friday morning at 7:30am, David Reed is scheduled to join Rex Snider Thursday at 5:45pm on “The Afternoon Drive” on AM1570 WNST…..The Ravens will hold their final open practice of the week Friday, Head Coach John Harbaugh is scheduled to address the media following Friday’s practice……Al Riveron’s crew will officiate Sunday’s game

-G

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Ranking The 53: A Bye Week Look at Ravens Roster

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Ranking The 53: A Bye Week Look at Ravens Roster

Posted on 27 October 2010 by Glenn Clark

As you’ll remember, I spent most of Training Camp ranking the players on the Baltimore Ravens roster as we tried to determine the Top 53 that would make the final roster.

As we’ve reached the team’s Bye Week, I thought I’d use a similar format (as opposed to a Report Card format) to grade the way the 53 men currently on the team’s roster have played thus far this season. Here’s my list…

53. OL Scott Kooistra-He hasn’t seen the field and he hasn’t been around very long. I’m not sure where else he could be ranked.

52. DT Arthur Jones-The team isn’t dissatisfied with the rookie DT from Syracuse. The issue for Jones is that the Ravens are so deep on the interior of their D-Line that they haven’t been able to get Jones on the field yet. Until then, he won’t find himself any higher on the list.

51. WR Donte’ Stallworth-Stallworth’s broken foot has kept him entirely out of game action thus far, and he only returned to practice last week. The team expects him to be on the field Week 9 against the Miami Dolphins at M&T Bank Stadium. Once he gets out there, we can see where he’d rank on this list.

50. QB Marc Bulger-If Marc Bulger never sees the field and stays somewhere near #50, GM Ozzie Newsome and Head Coach John Harbaugh will be thrilled-as it means nothing will have gone wrong with the team’s quarterback. This is exactly where they want him.

49. DT Lamar Divens-It seems like Lamar Divens will always be the first name listed when the “who could you cut to make room for…” conversations happen. That being said, he hasn’t been cut yet this season, and has even seen the field at times. He’s a really good player-even if it hasn’t quite been evident yet this season.

48. TE Dennis Pitta-His offensive contributions (1 catch, 1 yard) have been next to nothing, but Pitta has been a solid special teams contributor and has only been inactive for one game. No one in Owings Mills is unhappy with their rookie TE from BYU thus far.

47. CB Cary Williams-He’s been more of a Special Teams contributor than he’s been a corner thus far this season-and he hasn’t been perfect. His block in the back penalty against the New England Patriots was certainly frustrating; and Harbaugh made it known. Williams’ size (6’1″) could make him helpful at CB at some point, but the team has to trust him there.

46. OT Oniel Cousins-The team didn’t really hide from the fact that they were disappointed by how long it took Oniel to get back on the field after a preseason concussion. At this point, I don’t think they can hide from the disappointment in his on-field performance; as he’s struggled to get playing time at all.

45. LB Prescott Burgess-He’s remained a steady player on Special Teams, and that’s what the team has wanted from him. It’s easy to be down a player who doesn’t contribute at his natural position, but Burgess has been solid.

44. LS Morgan Cox-Matt Katula’s struggles a season ago were at least somewhat to blame for early season misses from then kicker Steve Hauschka. I think that’s why it wasn’t terribly surprising when ST Coordinator Jerry Rosburg and company decided to go with Cox this season. That being said, Cox has been low on a few FG snaps, and has gotten some help from holder Sam Koch. He needs to be a bit steadier.

43. WR Marcus Smith-Smith is another player whose contributions have been limited to Special Teams thus far, which means his mistakes are often much more memorable than anything he does well. He had a tough day in Foxborough, but he wasn’t the only one.

42. DT Terrence Cody-What a frustrating player Terrence Cody has been this season. There’s moments where it looks like things are clicking for him, but there have been many more moments (in the 4 games where he’s played) where he looked absolutely lost. He didn’t record his first NFL tackle until the Week 7 win over the Buffalo Bills.

41. LB Jason Phillips-Phillips may have earned a couple of extra spots on the list simply thanks to the hit he and Edgar Jones delivered to Denver Broncos WR/KR Demaryius Thomas (see below) in Week 5. Phillips is in a tough spot, as the Ravens are deep at ILB. That being said, he’s made an impact in the opportunities he’s had-which is exactly what the team wanted.

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40. DE Paul Kruger-I’m placing Paul Kruger in the top 40, but I’ll note that he’s played in only two games thus far this season-two he may have never played in had the team not released Trevor Pryce earlier in the year. His ability to play in the wedge has helped get him on the field, but the kick return hasn’t exactly been great with or without him.

39. LB Brendon Ayanbadejo-Ayanbadejo is another player who I’m squeezing into the Top 40 despite limited work. It looks like Ayanbadejo is going to be able to continue to be an effective player on Special Teams; but his ability to help is pass coverage will determine where he eventually ends up on this list.

38. RB/KR Jalen Parmele-It’s easy to look at the struggles Parmele has had over the last two weeks and be down on his season; but it cannot be dismissed that he’s averaged over 20 yards per return this season. The Ravens have to figure out what’s going wrong with their kick return. My guess is that they’ll find out that the returner isn’t the biggest problem. My second guess is that it won’t mean Parmele will be the returner moving forward anyway.

37. S Ken Hamlin-When the Ravens released Hamlin to make room for Cary Williams earlier in the season, it looked like a confirmation that Hamlin was simply holding Ed Reed’s roster spot. About a week later we found out that wasn’t exactly the case. Hamlin has been effective on Special Teams and has offered something to Greg Mattison’s defense as well-at least until he was left inactive for the first time Week 7. That could be bad news moving forward for Hamlin.

36. WR David Reed-After looking like he might not be able to play Special Teams at all, Reed developed into a very trustworthy gunner for the Ravens over the first few weeks of the season and has taken more snaps as a returner during practice as the season has gone on. That being said, it is interesting to note that Reed was held out of Sunday’s game against the Bills. It had at least SOMETHING to do with a thigh injury, but it will be interesting to see if it was the injury ONLY, or if the injury was just part of it.

35. TE Ed Dickson-Dickson is an interesting case. In the game against the Broncos, his 58 yard 1st quarter catch was eye-opening. His 6’4″ frame clearly makes him an attractive downfield and jump-ball target. But his holding penalty later in the game was an example of exactly why OC Cam Cameron may not fully trust him enough to keep him on the field. My guess is that Dickson is headed towards some level of a breakout performance.

34. LB Tavares Gooden-I get the feeling that I could be showing a little bit too much fairness to Gooden, who was adequate in the two games he played before injuring his shoulder. He probably hasn’t done enough to justify the position, but I’ll keep him here for now. How he bounces back from another setback (and whether or not he can return in Week 9) could have a lot to do with his future in Charm City.

33. CB Josh Wilson-This is really tricky as well. Wilson has by no means been a liability on the field; but he’s done little to prove himself thus far. He’s missed two games (a healthy inactive when the Ravens played the Pittsburgh Steelers at Heinz Field; an ankle injury kept him out of the loss to the Pats at Gillette Stadium), and he hasn’t been perfect as a returner. But when Secondary coach Chuck Pagano need an answer late against the Bills, Wilson stepped up.

32. WR TJ Houshmandzadeh-Truth be told, I’m completely befuddled by TJ Houshmandzadeh’s short tenure in Baltimore. I don’t think he’s been misused, I don’t think Joe Flacco has failed to look for him or get him the ball, I don’t think he’s necessarily been awful in doing his own job (although I absolutely think he’s given half efforts to catch the ball-which was abundantly evident when the Ravens played the Cincinnati Bengals at Paul Brown Stadium). I’m not sure what Houshmandzadeh’s role is moving forward as Stallworth returns. No matter what it is, his catch to beat the Steelers will never be forgotten.

31. OL Tony Moll-Moll has shown himself to be a particularly reliable reserve on the O-Line; he’s been the team’s top reserve this season. In fact, he was on the field at RT when the Ravens put together their final TD drive to get the first win of the Harbaugh era in the Steel City.

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30. DT Brandon McKinney-McKinney has quickly become the team’s top reserve along the D-Line, and has played VERY well he’s seen the field this season. He’s probably better as a NT or as an interior tackle in a 4-3 defense, but he’s been outstanding filling multiple roles for DL coach Clarence Brooks.

29. S Haruki Nakamura-Nakamura’s playing time has decreased since the start of the season, but it’s not because he’s performed poorly. Nakamura was both the 3rd safety and the nickel corner in the Ravens’ season opening Monday Night Football win over the New York Jets, but the improved health of the team has limited his role. His play has been effective throughout the season no matter his role.

28. CB Lardarius Webb-After missing the season opener at New Meadowlands Stadium, Webb has been up and down in the six games he’s played. At times he’s been spectacular, including two big pass breakups in the win over the Steelers. At other times he’s been less than spectacular, including the loss to the Bills. Webb stepped in for Zbikowski at PR against the Bills as well, but is unlikely to remain a long term option there.

27. DL Cory Redding-This is somewhat of a tricky judgment as well. Redding has played well, but was supposed to be able to get off the field in obvious passing situations this season to allow for a better rush end option. Sadly, the Ravens don’t have a better rush end option. Redding has just one sack on the season, and that number is unlikely to get much bigger.

26. LB Dannell Ellerbe-If Dannell Ellerbe didn’t have to play in pass coverage, he probably would find himself in the Top 15. Of course, there are a number of LB’s in the NFL who could say the same thing. Ellerbe has been solid but not spectacular, and has not exactly shown himself to be an “answer” for the Ravens at JACK LB.

25. OL Chris Chester-The Ravens would certainly prefer to have Chester coming off the bench and taking snaps at multiple positions; but the back injury to Jared Gaither has forced him into a starting role at RG. Chester hasn’t been perfect, but at no point has he been any sort of liability.

24. LB Jameel McClain-McClain has thus far been the most consistent answer at JACK LB, but he probably hasn’t solidified the position the way the team may have hoped he would. McClain has been solid, but has not been able to make too many plays in the backfield. Opponents have also been surprisingly able to run the ball with effectiveness (none more than Cleveland Browns RB Peyton Hillis), which has to fall on the entire group-including McClain.

23. OL Marshal Yanda-No one has forgotten about Jared Gaither in Baltimore, but Marshal Yanda has solidified the RT position after a few early season struggles. Yanda is still better served playing at the Guard position, but he’s shown his athleticism and ability to both pass block and run block at the RT position.

22. S Ed Reed-There’s little argument for me ranking a player who has seen the field for just one game this high; but the argument exists. Of course, it is a very short argument-based solely on the fact that despite playing in just one game, Reed leads the team in interceptions. He looked like the Ed Reed of old against the Bills, giving the organization every reason to believe he’ll continue to play at a high level.

21. RB Willis McGahee-We might never TRULY know why McGahee didn’t see the field against the Pats, but he’s been very good every other time he’s seen the field. McGahee has been a solid back in both short yardage and goal line situations, is an effective blocker, and can take consecutive handoffs. If for some reason Ray Rice were to get hurt, the Ravens would be fine at RB.

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20. C Matt Birk-Birk might not play at a Pro Bowl level necessarily anymore, but he’s still very good. He had some struggles early on this season, but he’s played very well in recent weeks. The Ravens may not have a center of the future on the roster necessarily, but they’re still just fine right now.

19. DT Kelly Gregg-Gregg has been just as steady as always this season; tallying 30 tackles and taking on double teams the same way he’s done since his breakout year in 2002. The only potential knock on Gregg has been a lack of plays made in the backfield.

18. S/PR Tom Zbikowski-The Ravens have been very happy with the play they’ve received from Zbikowski this season-especially while Reed missed the first six weeks of the season. Fans haven’t been thrilled with Zbikowski as punt returner-but since inexplicably running the ball backwards in East Rutherford, he’s been solid in that role as well. Zbikowski missed Game 7 with a bruised heel, but isn’t expected to be out for an extended period of time.

17. S Dawan Landry-I feel like we keep getting back to the Buffalo game with Ravens defenders-but that tends to be what happens when a team gives up 34 points at home. Landry had been very solid until that game however, and has 52 tackles through seven games this season.

16. CB Chris Carr-The best thing to happen to the Ravens in the wake of the Domonique Foxworth injury has been the play of Carr. Carr has been particularly steady starting opposite Fabian Washington. The team would probably like to see him improve a bit on the one interception and five pass deflections he’s posted thus far this season.

15. LB Jarret Johnson-The only disappointment with Johnson this season has been his lack of involvement in the pass rush. He’s tallied just half a sack thus far to go with 28 tackles. He’s been good, he’s just not quite played to the level he played at a season ago when he compiled six sacks.

14. K Billy Cundiff-The name Shayne Graham has LONG been forgotten at 1 Winning Drive. Cundiff has been incredible on kickoffs, tallying 18 touchbacks this season. He had entered the season with just 11 touchbacks for his CAREER. Cundiff is also 10/12 on field goal attempts; with one of the two misses coming in the goofy open end of the stadium at Heinz Field. There really isn’t much more that can be said about Cundiff, he’s been tremendous this season.

13. P Sam Koch-While I’m at it, Koch has been outstanding this season as well. He’s pinned punts inside the 20 yard line 19 times already this season. Some of his yardage numbers are a bit off this season, as the Ravens have had better field position in general this season. Oakland Raiders P Shane Lechler is still probably having a better season; but Koch has to at least be in consideration for a trip to Hawaii.

12. OT Michael Oher-Oher won’t want to hear the name Jermaine Cunningham any time soon, but otherwise he’s avoided a sophomore slump. Oher has answered almost all questions about his ability to play the LT position, even if he isn’t quite Jonathan Ogden just yet. He LOOKS like he’s offsides more than he actually IS offsides, with the only exception being the Patriots game.

11. LB Terrell Suggs-There’s a misconception that T-Sizzle is having a bad season. That’s simply not true. Suggs has played very well at times, and has clearly developed into a very complete all-around LB. The problem is-the Ravens don’t necessarily need an improved all-around LB on the outside. They REALLY need a pass rushing monster, and Suggs (3.5 sacks) just isn’t that guy right now, nor may he ever be again.

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10. G Ben Grubbs-Grubbs has been the team’s most consistent Offensive Lineman thus far this season, and is setting himself up nicely for a potential Pro Bowl trip. As the team’s longest tenured O-Lineman, Grubbs has been significantly important for the team in maintaining continuity in a season where they have been forced to move pieces around.

9. TE Todd Heap-The Ravens thought that drafting two tight ends would help keep Heap fresh by getting him off the field for a handful of snaps every game. They also thought that signing multiple receivers in the offseason would help free up space on the field for Joe Flacco to find Heap. They’ve been right about both things. Heap has still taken a beating this season (thanks in part to Patriots safety Brandon Meriweather), but he’s on pace to have at least his best offensive season since 2006.

8. CB Fabian Washington-Don’t start cursing at your computer screen just yet. I am well aware that Lee Evans treated Washington like Sidney Rice would Frank Walker in the Ravens’ loss to the Bills. However, in the six games before that-Washington was a significant part of why the Ravens had one of the top pass defenses in the NFL (now ranked 8th for the record). Washington’s future standing on this list will of course have everything to do with how he bounces back from what was a dreadful Week 7 performance.

7. WR Derrick Mason-Remember him? Mason might not be on pace for a 1,000 yard season; but when they’ve needed him-he’s been ready to make plays. He was the team’s leading receiver in two very tough road games (at Pittsburgh and at New England), and he caught the only touchdown of the game in the Ravens’ Week 2 loss in the Queen City. Mason is just as reliable as always, and still catches the football…with the exception of the handful of times the team has decided for some goofy reason to try to throw jump balls in the direction of his 5’10″ frame.

6. RB Ray Rice-Fantasy football owners may not be quite as happy with Ray Rice’s performance as I am; but he’s been very good this season. He’s on pace to finish the season with over 1,400 yards of total offense; and should be able to remain fresh the more the Ravens work McGahee into the offense. Rice was expected to be a Top 3 caliber player on this list, but the lack of a breakaway burst appears to be hurting him right now. If that re-appears, he might show himself to be the type of MVP candidate he was a season ago.

5. LB Ray Lewis-Let me get this out of the way. Ray Lewis has not played like the future Hall of Fame LB he is in every game this season. He looked downright human against the Browns. That being said, the season opener on MNF was a vintage performance from one of the greatest defenders in league history, and Lewis locked up the Steelers game with a late interception of Charlie Batch. He tallied 15 tackles in the win over the Bills as well. San Francisco 49ers LB Patrick Willis may be the unquestionable greatest LB in the game today, but Ray Lewis has not fallen terribly far behind.

4. FB Le’Ron McClain-This one may catch a few folks off guard, as the personal foul penalty in Foxborough and the lack of carries probably stick out in the minds of most fans more than anything else, but Le’Ron McClain is playing as well at his position as almost anyone else on the Ravens roster this season. RB Coach Wilbert Montgomery graded McClain’s performance against the Browns as the best by a Ravens player this season, and Offensive Coordinator Cam Cameron told me that in terms of the total package-blocking, rushing and pass catching-McClain was absolutely the best fullback in not only the AFC-but the entire NFL.

3. QB Joe Flacco-If it weren’t for the dud in Cincy, Flacco may be #1 on the list. Unfortunately, the game in Cincy still counts. Flacco has been outstanding for the better part of the season-despite strange criticism from fans and a handful of analysts alike. He’s on pace for another season with 3,000+ yards and 20+ touchdowns and has limited his turnovers in games BESIDES Cincinnati. Flacco still needs to figure out that Ray Rice is just 5’7″; which has to be the most frustrating part of his game at this point.

2. WR Anquan Boldin-Anquan Boldin has been everything the Ravens had hoped he would be and more. He’s been a reliable target, he’s shown the type of toughness that originally made him a star with the Arizona Cardinals, and at times (the Browns game sticks out) he’s even added an explosive level to his game. He unfortunately doesn’t get to matchup against Eric Wright every week; but he’s on pace for 1,000+ yards and double digit TD’s no matter who he’s up against. Some fans in Baltimore who weren’t familiar with his game thought the Ravens were getting Larry Fitzgerald; but for those who knew what type of player Boldin was-he’s been ABSOLUTELY as good as advertised if not better.

1. DT Haloti Ngata-There is simply no better player on this football team right now than Haloti Ngata. There’s almost no argument any longer about who the best interior D-Lineman is in the NFL either. The only unfortunate part about the season for Ngata has been the fact that the lack of a rush end has forced the Ravens to send Ngata outside and hope he could get to the quarterback. He’s capable, but it’s by no means where he is best used. When he does get in the backfield, there’s no quarterback (or other player at any position) that’s happy to see him.

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

-G

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Ravens-Patriots “Purple Haze” Live Chat 1pm!

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Ravens-Patriots “Purple Haze” Live Chat 1pm!

Posted on 17 October 2010 by Glenn Clark

FOXBOROUGH, Ma. — Greetings from Gillette Stadium, where the Baltimore Ravens will face the New England Patriots at 1pm Sunday. The game can be seen on CBS (WJZ 13 in Charm City) with Jim Nantz and Phil Simms on the call. We will be chatting live during the game-as WNST.net personalities will be participating in the “Purple Haze”, which you can join HERE.

gillette

Here are your inactives/roster changes for today’s game-

Ravens:
OT Jared Gaither (back)
LB Tavares Gooden (shoulder)
DE Paul Kruger (knee)
WR Donte’ Stallworth (foot)
OL Scott Kooistra
DT Arthur Jones
CB Josh Wilson (hamstring)
DT Lamar Divens

OL Marshal Yanda will again start for Gaither at RT, OL Chris Chester will start for Yanda at RG.

Patriots:
RB Fred Taylor (toe)
CB Terrence Wheatley (foot)
DL Kyle Love
OL Rich Ohrnberger
S James Sanders (hamstring)
WR Taylor Price
RB Thomas Clayton
OT Mark LeVoir

Head Coach Bill Belichick and Pats players will be donning pink today, similar to what the Ravens did last week against the Denver Broncos. This is the third and final week of a window the NFL allowed for uniform alterations to honor Breast Cancer Awareness Month throughout the league. Some Ravens are again wearing pink shoes; including WR Derrick Mason, LB Terrell Suggs, LB Prescott Burgess, S Tom Zbikowski, WR Marcus Smith and DT Terrence Cody.

The Ravens are in white tops and white pants today, the Patriots are in blue tops and white pants. Bill Levy’s crew will officiate today’s game.

Come chat with us!

-G

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