Tag Archive | "ravens training camp"

pittadickson

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10 TD’s Seems More Like 88

Posted on 29 July 2013 by mattcostantini

The defending champs are not even into August and devastation has struck at the Castle in Owings Mills.  Reports broke Saturday that Joe Flacco’s most trusted target, Dennis Pitta, had gone down with a hip injury.  Shortly there-after it was announced that Pitta would be going under the knife for season ending hip surgery.

If replacing 921 yards, 65 receptions, and 4 touchdowns from Anquan Boldin already didn’t seem like it would be tough enough, it just got worse.  The Anquan trade was hard to swallow because of his toughness, leadership, and his sticky hands but you could accept it understanding that his contract exceeded his statistics.

Replacing Joe’s safety blanket on the other hand is something that Coach Harbaugh and Ozzie Newsome were not ready to deal with.  61 catches for 669 yards and 7 touchdowns isn’t Jimmy Graham or Gronk-like but if you watched this team throughout the regular season you knew that Joe found a certain amount of comfort in knowing that he could find Pitta over the middle for a quick 10-15 yards.  Not to mention the 73% completion rate between the two during the playoffs.

Part of the reason this seems so big is because we all remember Dennis Pitta getting annihilated by Jerrod Mayo over the middle in New England, only to get up and pick his head up off the field to connect with Joe for the 5 yard touchdown pass that gave the Ravens the 3rd quarter lead.   Showing that Baltimore toughness that we all have a soft spot for.

Visanthe Shiancoe is the immediate answer from Ozzie, but that brings the obvious question, how much does the 33 year old from Morgan State have left in the tank?  He had some solid years in Minnesota, nothing spectacular for sure.  He is credited with 4 games in New England last year where he caught 0 passes for 0 yards which doesn’t exactly scream safety-net.  His career year was 556 yards with 11 touchdowns in 2009 but that was 3 years ago.

The easy answer is Ed Dickson will step up.  I don’t think this is too far from the realm of possibilities with his 2011 season, 50+ receptions for 528 yards and 5 touchdowns.  Granted he fell off in 2012, he was also struggling with consistency which is the last thing that our 100 Million Dollar Man needs while trying to prove his contract worth.

The free agent market for tight ends is absolutely abysmal.  Dallas Clark and Todd Heap are the only names worth mentioning but they don’t exactly match the youth movement that Ravens are going for.  Wide receiver is pretty weak as well, considering the time of year, that’s a given.

The chance for a repeat just undoubtedly took a huge hit, then again we thought the same thing last year when Webby hit the ground with a torn ACL.

We all saw how that played out.

The only positive that comes out of this injury is the fact that it happened this early in training camp so that the Jim’s have time to game plan for the loss of Dennis Pitta.

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NFL: Super Bowl XLVII-Baltimore Ravens vs San Francisco 49ers

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Ravens 2013- A Year of Firsts

Posted on 07 July 2013 by mattcostantini

In 2012 Ravens fans saw a lot of finales, 2013 on the other hand, there will be a lot of firsts.  We saw certain players outplay their monetary value, we saw other players finish out legendary runs in town, and we saw Joe prove that he is good enough.

 

Although I could relive this version of the past every year, it’s a lot more interesting to look ahead to the future.  So what will the firsts be this year for the Purple and Black?

The obvious first that comes to mind is the man, the myth, the legend, Ray Lewis; will not be at Baltimore Ravens training camp for the first time in team history.  The play of Ray in the Superbowl definitely left something to be desired as it was apparent that he had lost a step but his play is not necessarily what the Ravens need to replace.  What needs to be replaced is the leadership of #52.  Baltimore just may have had that leader all along.  Terrell Suggs has always been known as the class clown and the joker of the locker room, but reports from mini camp showed a more down to business Terrell Suggs.  While the offense has no questions about leadership with a Superbowl MVP on its side, the defense is a different story after losing the likes of 27 years in NFL experience between two players.  Without Ray Lewis and Ed Reed, John Harbaugh will need Terrell Suggs to step up not only his play, but also his leadership role.  Watch through training camp to see how Suggs adapts to this new role.

Elvis Dumervil, Michael Huff, Chris Canty, and Marcus Spears will all sport the Purple and Black for the first time.  My mouth is watering already just thinking about the combination of Dumervil and a healthy Terrell Suggs opposite sides from one another.  In 2011 the two combined for a total of 23 sacks (Elvis Dumervil missed 2 games that season) and are both a terror for opposing Quarterbacks.  Chris Canty has been battling injuries in New York last year missing 7 games still accruing 3 sacks but is very versatile and can play both Defensive End as well as Tackle.  Marcus Spears looks as though he will be a depth player for the Ravens considering he wasn’t starting for the Cowboys and let’s face it, the Cowboys are a joke.  The veteran addition to the secondary for the Ravens?  Michael Huff; a multi-functional player who can play corner, safety, and nickel.  I don’t put much stock in Huff’s past mainly because players go to Oakland and die a terrible, ugly football players death- perennial losing.  When I watched Michael Huff’s press conference which welcomed him to the Ravens I loved everything I heard from the guy.  He said all the right things and welcomed the challenge of joining the legacy that comes with becoming a defensive player on this team.  I welcome the idea of giving a player who was stuck on a bad team, with bad coaching, and a bad defensive  scheme an opportunity to show his true colors.

Just like with every season, there are rookies.  This years draft picks will be asked to make an immediate impact on this football team, and I think they have what it takes.  Matt Elam the Safety out of Florida is all of 5-10, 206 but hits like a Linebacker and has great open field skills.  Elam also has underrated ball skills in my opinion and will be a force in the run game. I can’t wait for training camp to get started so we can see this kid start getting some real action.  He also hauled in a pick against Joe Flacco in mni-camp.

Filling the void at Linebacker for the Ravens is 6-1, 242 pounder Arthur Brown (Kansas State), yes, a little undersized but he is tenacious when attacking the ball.  He also shows the ability to cover the mid-range routes and Tight Ends over the middle and in the flat (something this team was definitely lacking).  It’s going to be interesting to see if Arthur Brown is going to be the player who is receiving the plays from the sideline or if that duty will be placed on Jameel McClain.

Ray Rice will have a rookie Fullback to break in this year.  The Ravens drafted Kyle Juszczyk in the 4th round out Harvard (You gotta have a Harvard guy right?!) which lead to the eventual release of Vonta Leach.  I am of the belief that that this offense does not need a full time 2 back set and more importantly could not pay a Fullback 4 million dollars.  Although Juszczyk may not be able to drop the hammer like Leach, he will definitely excel athletically and be a threat to the defense in the pass game out of the backfield.  I’m just curious to see if the lead blocker out of Harvard will be ready to make an impact right out of the gate.

2013 will also give Torrey Smith his first opportunity to be the number one wide out with no Anquan Boldin on his side.  This is the Ravens biggest question at this point, which with all the turnover from 2012, isn’t so bad.  I would be lying though if I said this wasn’t my largest concern entering the season.  Ozzie Newsome says he’s excited for the competition between Tandon Doss, David Reed, LaQuan Williams, Tommy Streeter, Deonte Thompson, and Aaron Mellette.

-Tandon Doss was drafted in 2011 out of Indiana, since then, he has 7 receptions for just 123 yards.  There was a point in the Wild Card game against the Colts where Joe Flacco tried to connect with Doss two separate times in the end zone, the 2nd year receiver got his hands on both passes and brought down neither.  Now this doesn’t exactly inspire hope for Ravens fans all around especially because when Tandon Doss was drafted he was known for his hands and not his speed.

-David Reed is absolutely terrible and has no business setting foot into the castle at all.  In fact, I’m fully convinced that David Reed has incriminating photos of someone in the organization and that’s why he has kept his job this long.

-LaQuan Williams is a nice special teams player but has just 4 catches for 46 yards since being drafted in 2011 with no catches last year.  I am interested to see if Williams can make a small impact as a number 4 option for Joe Flacco.

-In the category of “prove your worth“…  Tommy Streeter and Aaron MelletteTommy Streeter is a 6th round pick of 2012 who showed nothing but brick hands in last years training camp.  There is no disputing the speed of Tommy Streeter, but can his hands keep up with his legs?  Aaron Mellette just needs to show the Ravens he’s got potential and can grow, he impressed a few people in mini-camp as well.  Mellette is not known for his speed but his hands and physical play along with jump ball ability.  Let’s be honest though the Ravens don’t need more speed on the corners with Torrey and Jacoby, they need sure hands and a route runner.

-Deonte Thompson has the best opportunity for success in 2013.  He played in the final game of the regular season last year against the Bengals in a contest which the Ravens sat the majority of their starters.  Thompson had 4 receptions for 26 yards.  Although he had extremely limited playing time in 2012 he took advantage of the preseason catching 10 passes for 139 yards and a touchdown.

So prospects are good… This is the NFL though, there’s not time to groom players in the minor’s.  Jim Caldwell is going to have to take advantage of existing talent.  I think the Ravens are going to be using a lot more 2 Tight End sets with Dennis Pitta and Ed Dickson.  If Ed Dickson can show consistent production Anquan Boldin may be thoughts of the past.  Dickson did have trouble with drops late in the season but in the Playoffs, he stepped up.  6 receptions for 90 yards hauling in some key first downs that helped the Ravens to hoist the Lombardi Trophy.  The eye test on Dennis Pitta is sufficient enough, he is one of Joe Flacco’s favorite targets and has proven that he can be a consistent contributor to the Ravens offense.  If you’re Jim Caldwell, Jacoby Jones has one obvious value that you need to figure out how to take advantage of on a game to game basis.  Speed.  Caldwell needs to create mismatches with Jacoby Jones on the outside and figure out how to keep safety help away from his side of the field.  This is where that mix of run and pass and play-action could allow Jacoby to have a huge season.

Another key to look for in training camp will be to see how Lardarius Webb looks and the leadership role he will take on with a young secondary.

From a panic ridden fanbase to being awed by Ozzie Newsome’s ability to rebuild on the fly.  Training camp 2013 will have plenty of story lines… And by the way did I mention, the Ravens have the added pressure of defending the crown?

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An Open Letter to Bisciotti, Cass and the Ravens

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An Open Letter to Bisciotti, Cass and the Ravens

Posted on 06 August 2012 by Drew Forrester

Dear Steve, Dick and the rest of the Ravens organization:

Please consider this as a follow-up note to something I wrote about last December when you all announced that training camp was being relocated from Westminster to Owings Mills for 2012.

You guys took a lot of grief from the fans – and some media members – for that decision, although I can proudly say I was one of the folks who implored everyone to exercise some patience and wait and see how the Ravens handled everything before making a full judgement.

I predicted, quite quickly after your decision was announced, that the Ravens would go above and beyond the call-of-duty to make sure  the fans were “taken care of”.  I suggested that fans simply wait and see what plans were made for the summer of 2012 and that my guess was they wouldn’t be disappointed.  I just happen to have a copy of that piece I wrote, in fact.  You can read it HERE. 

As you can see, my prediction was right.

Once again, you all came through.

I was out at Owings Mills last week to witness first-hand how the 250 fans who were “invited guests” were treated.  I watched them interact with the players afterwards and I saw the smiling faces of both parties.  I even took a picture for a family of four from Annapolis out in front of The Castle.  I asked them how their day went and 11-year old Amanda said, “Joe Flacco said ‘I like your braces!’ to me!!”.

That Flacco, what a touch, huh?  By the way…if I haven’t told you this, I will now.  That kid is a helluva quarterback and a terrific representative of your franchise.  I’d go on to tell you to pay him and keep him here long-term, but I know you’re already trying to do that.

Anyway, back to training camp.

I was impressed with what I saw at Owings Mills, but the real litmus test for those promises you made would come on Saturday at the first of the three open practices.

Let me first say this:  I completely understand how much of a pain in the ass it is to move camp to the big stadium for one day.  Most fans (and even some media members) don’t really see how difficult that was to manufacture on Saturday, but I do.

As is usually the case with the Ravens, you all pulled it off like a road win in Cleveland.  With ease.

The practice moved along smoothly and the fans were always aware of the drill that was taking place on the field.  No one was bored.  If watching practice can be considered exciting – and to the 20,000 who were there, it was – then Saturday’s event delivered the goods for everyone.

I watched all of the players make their way around the bowl of the stadium and sign autographs.  I’m sure everyone who wanted one didn’t succeed because of the sheer volume of people, but I’ll tell you what I didn’t see.  I didn’t see one player sign for 25 people and then casually stroll down the steps and off the field.  And I stood there and watched, trust me.  Every guy signed hundreds of autographs.  And then some.

So, congratulations on following through on your promise to keep the fans involved as best as you possibly can.

You won’t get many of these letters, because folks are always quick to bash you but slow to say “Well Done!”.

I’m here to say “Well Done!”

Best wishes for a successful 2012.

DF

P.S. I won’t be this nice to you guys if you lose to the Steelers this season.

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Reed continues to yap…and Baltimore is starting to get mad

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Reed continues to yap…and Baltimore is starting to get mad

Posted on 19 July 2012 by Drew Forrester

Ed Reed is on the verge of doing something that no other star athlete in Baltimore has ever been able to accomplish.

Quick — name the last bonafide star that Baltimore loved who eventually did something so wrong or mean-spirited (while still in Baltimore) that the sports community here turned on him.  And Mike Mussina doesn’t count, because his move to New York took him out of Baltimore.  I’m talking about a player who did something so wrong while here that everyone in town said, “Eff him…I’m finished with that guy.”

Right.  I can’t think of one either.

Well, Ed Reed…you’re on the verge of making history here.

More and more these days, I’m hearing and reading people lash out at the future Hall of Famer as he continues his whiny half-tirade about getting more money and a new contract prior to the start of the 2012 NFL season.  It’s rare for Baltimore sports fans to get spiteful.  We’re not New York or Boston, where they turn on their players if they strike out twice in a game or fumble a ball on the 5 yard line in the 4th quarter.

We’re soft here.  That’s the truth.  We’re soft.  But Reed’s antics are starting to wear on Baltimore sports fans.  And they’re aggravating the Ravens’ brass, too.

I’ll say it.  It’s evidently the pink elephant in the room that no one wants to acknowledge, but I’ll go ahead and put it on the table for discussion.  Ed Reed is trying to take advantage of the Terrell Suggs injury to milk more money and another deal out of his employer.

I call that bad form.

Honestly — it’s downright bush league what Reed is doing.

Anyone with a brain knows the Ravens defense is going to have to make some major adjustments in Suggs’s absence.  That pressure will fall on the likes of Ray Lewis, Haloti Ngata, Jameel McClain and Lardarius Webb.  It will also fall on Reed, which is precisely why he’s campaigning for more money and a new deal at age 34.

Taking advantage – or trying to, anyway – of a team’s weakness in light of a significant player injury is just wrong.  What if EVERY defensive player in Baltimore did the same thing today?  Sure, that’s a big “what if?”, but…what if?  What if Ray Lewis walked in to Ozzie Newsome today and said “I want a new deal and more money.”  What if Terrence Cody did that?  What if Jimmy Smith or Paul Kruger did it?

(Please see next page)

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