Tag Archive | "Ravens"

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Ravens appoint Hewitt to be assistant secondary coach, hire DeLorbe

Posted on 19 March 2014 by WNST Staff

TEAM RELEASE

The Baltimore Ravens have appointed Chris Hewitt to be their assistant secondary coach and have hired Billy DeLorbe as their cross-training specialist, head coach John Harbaugh announced Wednesday.

A three-year NFL coaching veteran, Hewitt was originally hired as the Ravens’ assistant special teams coach in 2012. Prior to his Baltimore arrival, Hewitt served in various coaching capacities for Rutgers University, most recently as running backs coach (2010-11). Hewitt also spent time as the Scarlet Knights’ cornerbacks coach (2008-09), director of speed and skill development (2005-07) and as a graduate assistant (2004). He began his coaching career as a strength and conditioning assistant for Notre Dame (2003).

In addition to his 11 years of coaching, Hewitt brings to the Ravens’ defensive staff three years of NFL playing experience as a defensive back with the New Orleans Saints (1997-99). Hewitt signed with the Saints as a rookie free agent in 1997 and played in 39 games (four starts) both at defensive back and on special teams. He totaled 29 tackles (22 solo) from scrimmage, three sacks, one pass defensed, one forced fumble and one fumble recovery. Prior to signing with New Orleans, Hewitt was a four-year letterman at Cincinnati and a two-time All-Conference USA selection (1995-96) as a defensive back.

DeLorbe, who enters his first season in the NFL, spent the past 10 years (2004-13) as a master personal trainer at the Maryland Athletic Club. In that role, he led structured group training exercises while also providing private, high-intensity workout sessions for several athletes. DeLorbe brings an added dimension to the Ravens’ fitness staff, which consists of head strength and conditioning coach Bob Rogucki and assistant strength and conditioning coach Juney Barnett. As cross-training specialist, DeLorbe will focus on boosting players’ flexibility and mobility with an emphasis on core strengthening and improved balance.

After earning his bachelor’s degree in mathematics from St. Mary’s College of Maryland in 2002, DeLorbe began his fitness career as a trainer while earning his master’s degree in applied industrial mathematics from Towson University. DeLorbe was born in San Francisco and currently lives in Lutherville with his wife, Megan, and their son, Will.

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Bovada improves Ravens’ Super Bowl odds after Smith acquisition

Posted on 18 March 2014 by WNST Staff

Courtesy of Bovada, (www.Bovada.lv, Twitter: @BovadaLV).

 

“Unless a quarterback or star running back moves teams, it is pretty rare that one player in the NFL will have a big impact on Super Bowl odds, but we have seen some slight movement since free agency began. The Green Bay Packers have seen some money over the last week, getting Peppers no doubt contributed to that, and have gone from 16-1 to 10-1. Meanwhile the Denver Broncos who have bolstered up their defense a touch have also dropped from 8-1 to 7-1, but are not seeing any backing by our bettors. The Eagles would be the other team that has moved from 25-1 to 18-1 as a result of them being pretty active in the market through keeping their own free agents, trades, and free agent signings.”

Kevin Bradley, Sports Book Manager, Bovada.lv

 

Odds to win the 2015 Super Bowl XLIX (Teams in blue have shorter odds, teams in red have longer odds, and teams in black stayed the same)

                                                            Odds on 2/3/14             Current Odds (3/18/14)   

Seattle Seahawks                                  9/2                                6/1

Denver Broncos                                    8/1                                7/1

San Francisco 49ers                              15/2                              15/2

New England Patriots                            14/1                              9/1

Green Bay Packers                                16/1                              10/1

Philadelphia Eagles                               25/1                              18/1

Indianapolis Colts                                  28/1                              20/1

New Orleans Saints                               18/1                              22/1

Carolina Panthers                                  25/1                              25/1

Chicago Bears                                      25/1                              28/1

Arizona Cardinals                                  33/1                              33/1

Atlanta Falcons                                     25/1                              33/1

Baltimore Ravens                                  40/1                              33/1

Cincinnati Bengals                                 25/1                              33/1

Houston Texans                                    40/1                              33/1

Kansas City Chiefs                                28/1                              33/1

Pittsburgh Steelers                                33/1                              33/1

San Diego Chargers                              33/1                              33/1

Dallas Cowboys                                    33/1                              40/1

Detroit Lions                                         33/1                              40/1

New York Giants                                   33/1                              40/1

St. Louis Rams                                     40/1                              40/1

Cleveland Browns                                  66/1                              50/1

Miami Dolphins                                     50/1                              50/1

Tampa Bay Buccaneers                         50/1                              50/1

Washington Redskins                            40/1                              50/1

Minnesota Vikings                                 75/1                              66/1

New York Jets                                       50/1                              66/1

Buffalo Bills                                          75/1                              75/1

Tennessee Titans                                   50/1                              75/1

Oakland Raiders                                    75/1                              100/1

Jacksonville Jaguars                             100/1                            150/1

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Former fourth-round pick Doss signs deal with Jacksonville

Posted on 18 March 2014 by Luke Jones

Just over a week after the Ravens decided not to tender him a contract as a restricted free agent, wide receiver Tandon Doss has found a new home.

The 2011 fourth-round pick agreed to a deal with the Jacksonville Jaguars Tuesday morning, officially ending his disappointing three-year run in Baltimore. The Ravens had initially left the door open for Doss to return on a contract at a cheaper rate than the original-round tender of $1.43 million for a restricted free agent.

Originally cut at the end of the preseason last year, Doss was re-signed following the season-opening knee injury suffered by Jacoby Jones and enjoyed the best year of his career. He caught 19 passes for 305 yards and averaged 15.6 yards per punt return, returning one 82 yards for a touchdown against the Houston Texans in Week 3.

“It was a great learning experience,” Doss said to the Jaguars’ official website about his time with the Ravens. “You learn from the best, the guys who have done it. You take what they do and apply it to your game.”

A two-time, first-team All-Big Ten selection out of Indiana, Doss was originally viewed as the eventual successor to veteran Anquan Boldin at slot receiver, but underwhelming speed and inconsistent hands limited his opportunities in the Baltimore offense.

 

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It’s time to honor some local sports “saints” with our #WNSTSweet16

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It’s time to honor some local sports “saints” with our #WNSTSweet16

Posted on 18 March 2014 by Glenn Clark

This one was far too tough. I’ll be on Tuesday morning at 8am to discuss it with Drew Forrester and Luke Jones. If he tells me I’m wrong, I’ll probably just agree with him.

If you need a reminder of what this week’s topic (Sweet 16 Local Sports Saints-Athletes Who Gave Back) is all about, check it out here.

If you’re someone who I left off the list, I apologize in advance. This was agonizingly difficult.

(Editor’s note: You’re going to ask me why Elrod Hendricks isn’t on the list. It isn’t an easy answer. It’s a complicated thought about the difference between Elrod the “player” and Elrod the “coach”. Elrod the coach is ABSOLUTELY part of this list-but we said the list was for “athletes.”

In the end, I should have just put him on the list. In that case, he would have been Top 5. I told you it was agonizing. Stop yelling at me.)

16. Keion Carpenter

Carpenter never played for the Baltimore Ravens, but as a Baltimore native he has shown great concern for his hometown via The Carpenter House and the fight for affordable housing for the underprivileged.

Carpenter is also involved in what seems like every youth football camp in the area, including many with Baltimore Ravens players.

(Continued on Next Page…)

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What’s still out there for the Ravens in free agency?

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What’s still out there for the Ravens in free agency?

Posted on 17 March 2014 by Luke Jones

Almost a week into free agency, Ravens general manager Ozzie Newsome has been busy retaining his own free agents while also enticing veteran wide receiver Steve Smith to bring his impressive pedigree to the league’s 29th-ranked offense from a year ago.

Needs remain along the offensive line and at free safety, but the options are dwindling as is the team’s salary cap space with roughly $9 million available. That’s not to say those resources can’t be helpful to further augment the roster as preparations continue for the start of the NFL draft on May 8, but this is when teams often look for the best value in not only identifying players who truly represent upgrades from what they already have but signing them for the right price.

Secondary needs to the offensive line and free safety include a No. 3 cornerback, a blocking tight end, and another running back, but those are all areas in which the Ravens can likely use the draft to find quality depth.

Here’s a sampling of the better remaining options to address their needs:

S Ryan Clark
Skinny: The 34-year-old safety has played the last eight seasons in Pittsburgh, which would make his potential defection to Baltimore compelling if he has anything left on the field. In addition to the Ravens, Washington and the New York Jets are reportedly interested in Clark, who would give 2013 first-round pick Matt Elam a mentor in the defensive backfield. A 2011 Pro Bowl selection, Clark is nearing the end of his career and struggled in 2013 but isn’t that far removed from playing at a high level. The hard-hitting veteran doesn’t really fit the profile of the ball-hawking safety Newsome described at the start of the offseason, but he’s generally been strong in coverge in his career and collected 104 tackles and two interceptions last year.

S Thomas DeCoud
Skinny: The 28-year-old started all but two games for Atlanta over the last five seasons but has been plagued with inconsistency and is coming off a poor 2013 campaign in which he recorded 65 tackles, no interceptions, and only two pass breakups. The 2012 Pro Bowl safety had 14 interceptions from 2009 through 2012 but probably reminds Newsome and the front office too much of Michael Huff, who was one of the biggest free-agent busts in franchise history last year. DeCoud was cut by the Falcons earlier this month, meaning he wouldn’t count against the compensatory pick formula if the Ravens were to sign him.

S Chris Clemons
Skinny: Starting 32 games for the Miami Dolphins over the last two seasons, the 28-year-old has been solid but unspectacular in his five-year career. Clemons made 93 tackles and intercepted one pass last season with many observers wondering if the Dolphins downgraded in deciding to sign Louis Delmas to replace Clemons earlier this month. Much like Clark and DeCoud, Clemons doesn’t fit the part of what Newsome described in January, but the Ravens are unlikely to find a playmaking safety unless they draft one such as Alabama’s Ha Ha Clinton-Dix or Calvin Pryor of Louisville.

C Kyle Cook
Skinny: Cook started 66 games for the Bengals over the last five years and would represent a solid veteran option to compete with incumbent starter Gino Gradkowski and 2013 sixth-round pick Ryan Jensen at the center position this summer. The 30-year-old was the 24th-ranked center in the NFL last year, according to Pro Football Focus, but he was released by the Bengals at the start of free agency and wouldn’t cost the Ravens a compensatory pick. His experience in the AFC North is also something that could be of value in the front office’s eyes.

C Brian de la Puente
Skinny: Though New Orleans reportedly remains interested in re-signing the starting center, the 28-year-old would be more appealing than Cook and would likely find a similar market to Evan Dietrich-Smith, who signed a four-year, $14.25 million contract with Tampa Bay last week. Pro Football Focus graded De la Puente as the 16th-ranked center in the league last year, but he graded second in 2012 and would represent a clear upgrade to Gradkowski in the starting lineup. The Ravens have yet to be linked to de la Puente, but the New York Giants reportedly showed interest last week.

G Travelle Wharton
Skinny: He’ll be 33 in May, but Wharton graded out as the fifth-best guard in the NFL by Pro Football Focus this past season after missing the entire 2012 campaign with a knee injury. Entering his 11th season, Wharton played with Steve Smith in Carolina for nearly a decade, so it will be interesting to see if the Ravens ask their new wide receiver what he thinks of his former teammate, who recently reiterated that he has no intentions of retiring. Should the Ravens sign the left guard, they could move Kelechi Osemele to right tackle to address the departure of Michael Oher.

RT Eric Winston
Skinny: The 30-year-old spent six years with Gary Kubiak in Houston, which would make him an enticing fit if not for the fact that he didn’t play well in Arizona this past season. Winston was the 69th-ranked tackle this season, which was one spot below Oher in Pro Football Focus’ grading system. Still, his experience with the zone blocking scheme in Kubiak’s offense would be very attractive at the right price. The acquisition of a right tackle would also allow the Ravens to keep Osemele at left guard, the position where some think he can blossom into a Pro Bowl player if he proves to be healthy after last year’s back surgery.

TE Owen Daniels
Skinny: He doesn’t really fit the mold of what the Ravens are looking for in terms of a blocking-minded tight end, but his close relationship with Kubiak is too much to overlook in wondering if the 31-year-old would be an attractive addition to the passing game. Daniels was limited to five games last year but knows the intricacies of Kubiak’s system and is a two-time Pro Bowl selection who has caught 54 or more passes four times in his career. With so many remaining needs, the Ravens would need to get excellent value in terms of price to make Daniels worth it and there hasn’t appeared to be much concrete interest beyond the initial reaction when he was released by the Texans last week.

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I’m going to need your help with this week’s #WNSTSweet16

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I’m going to need your help with this week’s #WNSTSweet16

Posted on 16 March 2014 by Glenn Clark

We’re celebrating our 16th year as Baltimore’s sports media leader here at WNST. We like celebrations, so we’re doing it for the entire year. Yeah. Our celebrations are better than your celebrations.

To mark the occasion, we’re taking a look at some of the bigger “water cooler” topics that have been discussed during the course of the WNST era. We’re already nine lists into the year, here’s a look back on them if you’ve missed any.

Week 10: Nestor Aparicio-Sweet 16 events a Baltimore sports fan must attend
Week 9: Drew Forrester-Sweet 16 greatest Baltimore college basketball players
Week 8: Luke Jones-Sweet 16 Orioles who didn’t live up to the hype
Week 7: Glenn Clark-Sweet 16 most underappreciated Maryland basketball players
Week 6: Drew Forrester-Sweet 16 local sports “Heartbreakers”
Week 5: Luke Jones-Sweet 16 local Olympic sport athletes
Week 4: Drew Forrester-Sweet 16 local athletes who deserved to win a championship but didn’t
Week 3: Nestor Aparicio-Sweet 16 local sports people who “had a dream”
Week 2: Luke Jones-Sweet 16 local sports playoff moments
Week 1: Glenn Clark-Sweet 16 “debuts” in local sports history

It comes back around to me here in Week 11, and I’ll admit I’m a little overwhelmed by this one. I’m going to be leaning on your guys perhaps more than I ever have before.

Not everything in sports can be measured be stats. That’s exactly what makes this week’s #WNSTSweet16 list so difficult.

As you know, Monday is St. Patrick’s Day…or St. Patty’s Day…or St. Paddy’s Day…or whatever the folks on social media tell me it is. No one on this week’s list will have driven snakes out of anywhere-but I’m not certain we know St. Patrick did either.

In recognition of March 17 (and also nicely timed with the annual Ed Block Courage Awards), this week’s topic is “Sweet 16 local sports saints-athletes who gave back.”

There are a few ways this can go. In fact, I thought of essentially three different categories that someone could fall into when it comes to this list.

1-An Orioles/Ravens/Colts/etc. player who gave back with their money.

We’re certainly aware of athletes who have made major contributions to charitable endeavors. Todd Heap’s name immediately came to mind when I thought of this category-specifically considering the $1 million donation he recently made to Franklin Square Hospital. There are a number of others whose giving has been well known over the years, but many of the better known sports-related philanthropists are not actually athletes (see: Angelos, Peter or Modell, Art).

2-An Orioles/Ravens/Colts/etc. player who gave back with their time.

I feel like this is going to be a category where we’re going to find more of our “saints” for this list. A number of players are well known to have taken countless hours to help in this community. Matt Stover famously seemed to appear at just about every possible community event there was (and still does!). If I had to guess right now, Lenny Moore is probably currently attending some sort of community gathering as long as he’s feeling well enough to do so. Brooks Robinson was certainly well known to frequent things like Lions Club meetings to help fundraising.

But giving back with time doesn’t have to be driven by charity alone. Part of the legend of Cal Ripken surrounds his willingness to stay after games at Memorial Stadium or Camden Yards to sign autographs and greet kids. On top of his other kindness, that certainly qualifies for this list.

3-Athletes originally from the area who have made a point of taking care of those in their hometown.

This category is perhaps my favorite of the group. Not every athlete who has given back to Charm City has ever played for a team in the area. While Tommy Polley did eventually spend some time with the Ravens in his career, it is far from what he’s best known for. Athletes like Carmelo Anthony, Sam Cassell, Antonio Freeman, Kurk Lee, Keion Carpenter, Denny Neagle and others are from Baltimore and have shown just how much they care about Baltimore.

But who else? And how to rank them? Who is Baltimore’s greatest sports “saint”? Who has given back to our community the most?

I want your ideas. Leave them here in the comments or email me via glenn@wnst.net. We will be discussing the list throughout the day Monday on AM1570 WNST.net. We’d love to have you Tweet with us or discuss the topic via Facebook by using the hashtag #WNSTSweet16.

On Tuesday morning, I will unveil the “official” list here at WNST.net and then discuss it with Drew Forrester & Luke Jones on “The D&L Window Tinting Morning Reaction” at 8am. I will then re-visit the list at 4pm Tuesday on “The Reality Check Driven by Jerry’s Toyota Scion”.

Stats won’t help me with this one. The mostly “saintly” local sports figure may have been by no means a Hall of Famer or even a star. Who needs to be recognized? Let your voice be heard!

-G

 

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Steve Smith not looking to be Boldin, Andre Johnson in Kubiak’s system

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Steve Smith not looking to be Boldin, Andre Johnson in Kubiak’s system

Posted on 15 March 2014 by Luke Jones

The Ravens hope that much of what new wide receiver Steve Smith brings to the field won’t necessarily show up on the stat sheet every week.

That’s not to say Baltimore won’t take advantage of the remnants of the 14th-year receiver’s ability in a career that includes five Pro Bowl selections, 12,197 receiving yards, and 67 touchdown receptions, but Smith’s intangibles were equally attractive to an offense that lacked a vocal leader willing to ruffle some feathers when needed last year. Smith has occasionally come under fire for his willingness to speak his mind and tell others what they might not want to hear, but coach John Harbaugh told the veteran during his free-agent visit that the Ravens want him to be himself.

The Ravens signed Smith to a three-year, $11 million contract on Friday afternoon.

“We’ve added one of the top competitors in the NFL to the Ravens,” general manager Ozzie Newsome said in a released statement. “Steve is a proven player who has performed his best in big games and on the biggest stages like the playoffs and Super Bowl. He adds toughness to our offense, big-play ability, and leadership to our team.”

Those intangibles aside, what should the Ravens expect from a wide receiver set to turn 35 in May?

From the start of the offseason when Newsome and Harbaugh spoke about the Ravens’ need to add a wide receiver who can move the chains and pick up the tough yards after a catch, it sounded as though they were envisioning Anquan Boldin’s replacement as someone who can line up in the slot and make difficult catches over the short-to-intermediate middle portion of the field. The similarities in attitude between Boldin and Smith are clear, but the 5-foot-9 Smith has relied more on his speed on the outside throughout his career while Boldin is bigger and slower but has always made catches in traffic.

You can hardly blame Smith for not wanting to be compared to someone else after being one of the better receivers in the NFL over the last decade.

“I’m not Anquan Boldin,” said Smith when asked if he can fill the void of the former’s departure from a year ago. “I respect the heck out of ‘Q,’ and what ‘Q’ brings to the table is what ‘Q’ brings to the table. I’m Steve Smith, and what I bring to the table as a Baltimore Raven, I have to earn that, and my time on the field will display what I bring to the table.

“We play similar games; we want to win and we go all-out. But we’re also individuals, and I’m not here to replace anyone. I’m here to be myself.”

Determining what role Smith will play isn’t easy as many believe he’s lost a step after recording only 64 receptions for 745 yards last season, his lowest totals since 2010 when the Carolina Panthers were the worst team in the NFL with a 2-14 record. And the Ravens offense will clearly present a different look under new offensive coordinator Gary Kubiak.

Smith met with Kubiak to discuss what his role would be in the Baltimore offense, using the coach’s offenses in Houston as a point of reference. The former Texans coach really didn’t have any player in Houston who compared to Smith in terms of physical makeup, but the veteran made it clear he’s not expecting to have the extensive role of No. 1 wide receiver Andre Johnson during all those years he played with Kubiak.

This is good news for an offense that can’t put all its hopes in a veteran receiver whose best days are behind him. Until proving otherwise, Smith should be a complementary option to fourth-year receiver Torrey Smith and tight end Dennis Pitta as the featured parts of the passing game while Pitta and 6-foot-4 wideout Marlon Brown profile as better red-zone threats.

Quarterback Joe Flacco certainly doesn’t need a veteran nearing the end of his career demanding to be the focal point of the passing attack, so Smith’s position had to be a breath of fresh air for Harbaugh and his coaching staff.

“I know his system. I’ve seen his system,” Smith said about his discussion with Kubiak. “I’ve seen the very creative ways they’ve gotten other guys the ball. I want to be a part of that. One of the things I’ve seen for myself — I don’t see myself in coach Kubiak’s system like Andre Johnson. I see the complementary dude of Kevin Walter. I see how he contributed and how he was instrumental in getting Andre the ball but also getting his own opportunities.”

Smith said new teammate Torrey Smith is going to be a “fantastic” player, but it was interesting that the former Panther went out of his way to compare himself to Walter, who never recorded more than 900 yards in Kubiak’s offense. Walter’s run with the Texans came to an end in 2012, but he served as Houston’s No. 2 wideout behind the Pro Bowl receiver Johnson for several years and averaged 732.8 receiving yards per season as a possession receiver from 2007 through 2010.

Kubiak’s use of Walter in the slot fluctuated from year to year as he ran 45.8 percent of his routes from that spot in 2012 but ran less than 20 percent of his routes there in 2009 and 2010, two seasons in which he eclipsed 600 receiving yards. In contrast, Smith was rarely used in the slot under current Panthers coach Ron Rivera the last three seasons — only 15.5 percent of his routes last season and less than 10 percent of the time in 2011 and 2012 –  and was only used in the slot about a third of the time from 2007 through 2010.

Given the perception of his declining speed and lack of previous work in the slot, Smith compares favorably to former Ravens wide receiver Derrick Mason, who didn’t work very often in the slot after 2008 and caught 73 passes for 1,028 yards and seven touchdowns at age 35 in 2009. The Ravens would be thrilled if Smith can post numbers even remotely approaching those of the 5-foot-10 Mason that season. He isn’t the deep-ball threat that he was in his prime, but Smith doesn’t need to be with Torrey Smith and Jacoby Jones as available vertical threats on the outside.

Perhaps the Ravens will simply need to rely on Kubiak’s creativity to maximize Smith’s ability at this stage of his career, but there’s no questioning how pleased they are to acquire a player with his pedigree to add to an offense that finished 29th in the league last season. And they hope his addition will be part of the solution to put Baltimore back among the elite in the AFC, even if there’s more work to be done on the offensive side of the ball.

“I believe and the Baltimore Ravens believe that I can help increase the chances of us being successful,” Smith said. “So that’s what we’re going to do. We’re going to swing for the fence, and there’s nothing wrong with that.”

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Right tackle Oher leaving Ravens to join Tennessee Titans

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Right tackle Oher leaving Ravens to join Tennessee Titans

Posted on 14 March 2014 by Luke Jones

A busy day for the Ravens that included the addition of five-time Pro Bowl wide receiver Steve Smith and the re-signing of linebacker Daryl Smith also saw the departure of right tackle Michael Oher by way of a four-year contract with the Tennessee Titans.

The 2009 first-round pick wasn’t expected to return and will receive a $20 million deal that includes $9.5 million guaranteed, according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter. Oher visited with the Titans on Friday before coming to an agreement that brings his five-year run with the Ravens to a close.

Baltimore had left the door open to a potential return but wasn’t interested in making a steep financial commitment to Oher after signing left tackle Eugene Monroe to a $37.5 million contract earlier in the week. A high-ranking team official said earlier in the offseason that Oher would be viewed as a more viable option at left tackle in the current blocking system, making his return unlikely after Monroe agreed to remain in Baltimore.

Oher allowed a team-worst eight sacks in 2013 and has been penalized more than any player in the NFL since his rookie year, frequently committing false start penalties that drew the ire of fans. However, the 6-foot-4, 315-pound tackle was bounced back and forth between the left and right spots, which likely hindered his development as an NFL lineman.

Always durable in his time with the Ravens, the Memphis native made 80 starts and never missed a game in his five seasons.

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Ravens agree to three-year deal with veteran receiver Steve Smith

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Ravens agree to three-year deal with veteran receiver Steve Smith

Posted on 14 March 2014 by Luke Jones

Vowing to upgrade the wide receiver position at the start of the offseason, the Ravens secured one of the better receivers of the last decade by agreeing to terms with veteran Steve Smith on Friday.

Baltimore signed the longtime Carolina Panthers receiver to a three-year, $11 million deal that includes a $3.5 million signing bonus, according to CBS Sports’ Jason La Canfora. The 5-foot-9, 185-pound receiver is a five-time Pro Bowl selection and has long been known for his playmaking ability and toughness despite his slight stature.

His fiery attitude has occasionally drawn criticism, but the 34-year-old said the Ravens didn’t express any concerns with his tendencies to speak his mind and wear his emotions on his sleeve.

“Everything seemed to gel, and coach Harbaugh was excellent,” Smith said in a conference call. “We talked about a lot of things, and the one thing that they said that was consistent was, ‘We want you to be yourself.’ That was good, that was very encouraging. I enjoyed that.”

Smith flew to Baltimore Thursday night to meet with team officials and continued those discussions before striking a deal late Friday afternoon. New England, San Diego, Washington, and Seattle were among the other teams who expressed interest in the 14th-year receiver, who was initially inclined to take his time in making a decision and had already scheduled a visit with the Patriots on Monday.

Ravens general manager Ozzie Newsome and head coach John Harbaugh shared their desire at the beginning of the offseason to add an impact receiver who could move the chains and gain yards after the catch. However, Smith’s 11.6 yards per catch average in 2013 was the second-lowest mark of his career (not counting the 2004 season in which he only played one game) and a sharp decline from the 16.1 yards he averaged per reception in 2012.

“Steve is a Ravens-style football player,” head coach John Harbaugh said in a team statement. “He always has been in our eyes, it’s just that he’s been playing for another team. We’ve respected and admired the way he plays, and we’ve always been challenged playing against him. I’ve known him ever since he came into the league, and we’ve always had a great relationship.”

Smith told reporters he hadn’t yet spoken with quarterback Joe Flacco but was excited to talk to both him and running back Ray Rice. The veteran was also complimentary of No. 1 wide receiver Torrey Smith and said he expects to fit in nicely in new offensive coordinator Gary Kubiak’s system.

The Ravens were believed to be targeting a wide receiver to play in the slot, but Smith has always done his best work on the outside of the formation. Last year, he ran only 15.5 percent of his snaps in the slot, according to Pro Football Focus.

Some have compared Smith’s toughness and competitive nature to former Ravens wideout Anquan Boldin, but he says he’s just looking to contribute to a championship-caliber team as he approaches the end of his career.

“What I bring to the table as a Baltimore Raven, I have to earn that, and my time on the field will display what I bring to the table,” Smith said. “My comparison to Anquan … I can’t [compare], because I respect the heck out of that guy and what he brings to the table and who he is. We play similar games; we want to win and we go all-out. But we’re also individuals, and so I’m not here to replace anyone. I’m here to be myself.”

Officially released on Thursday, Smith was scheduled to carry a $7 million cap figure in 2014, but the Panthers instead elected to move on from the franchise’s all-time receiving leader after he recorded 64 catches for 745 yards in 15 games, his lowest totals since 2010. Carolina will still owe him $5 million as he will receive $3 million guaranteed and an additional $2 million in deferred bonus money.

Smith becomes the first outside free agent that Newsome has signed this offseason but will not count against the compensatory pick formula since he was released by his former team. The former Panther will have the chance play his former team this coming season as the Ravens host Carolina for the first time since the 2006 season when Smith caught eight passes for 189 yards and a touchdown in a game Baltimore lost.

“I don’t harbor any bad feelings,” Smith said. “I kind of used the ‘blood and guts’ thing [as] more tongue-in-cheek; I wasn’t literally saying that I don’t like this organization anymore. That’s not the case. I love the organization. I love what they’ve done for me.”

For his career, Smith has recorded seven 1,000-yard receiving seasons and has caught 67 touchdowns, but he will turn 35 in May.

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Ravens re-sign linebacker Daryl Smith to four-year contract

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Ravens re-sign linebacker Daryl Smith to four-year contract

Posted on 14 March 2014 by Luke Jones

Linebacker Daryl Smith received quite the present on his 32nd birthday in the form of a new four-year contract to remain with the Ravens.

According to ESPN’s Adam Schefter, the 32-year-old agreed to a deal worth $16.1 million to remain with the same defense he led in tackles last season while taking over the position occupied by future Hall of Famer Ray Lewis.

Smith signed a one-year deal, $1.125 million deal that included an additional $1 million in playing-time incentives after he was limited to just two games in his ninth and final season in Jacksonville where he started his career. An early-June addition to the roster, the veteran went on to collect 123 tackles, five sacks, and three interceptions to lead a defense that finished 12th in total yards and points allowed in 2013.

“I knew it was a one-year deal, but I was hoping I could come in and prove I could still play and I could still do this for a while,” Smith said in a team statement. “You really don’t know at the time. But as the season progressed, I felt better with the team and how I played, and I definitely wanted to be back.”

The sides had remained in negotiations for a couple weeks but struggled to close the gap as other veteran inside linebackers such as the 30-year-old D’Qwell Jackson and Karlos Dansby, 32, found deals averaging in the neighborhood of $5.5 million to $6 million per season. However, the market seemed to dry up inside linebackers as Smith elected to remain in Baltimore.

Smith becomes the fourth key player the Ravens have re-signed over the last two weeks, joining tight end Dennis Pitta, left tackle Eugene Monroe, and wide receiver Jacoby Jones. The Ravens also were hosting veteran wide receiver Steve Smith on a free-agent visit on Friday, adding to the excitement of the day.

“There are a lot of smiles around the building today after we got a commitment from Daryl Smith to stay a Raven,” general manager Ozzie Newsome said in a released statement. “He fills a need for us at a high level. Just look at his production last season, plus he gave us leadership and maturity. He’s tough, he’s consistent, he’s intelligent, and he brings his lunch pail to work every day.”

Stronger in pass coverage than against the run last year, Smith is expected to be paired with 2013 second-round pick Arthur Brown in the Ravens’ 3-4 base defense with Josh Bynes serving as the primary backup. Smith and Brown should be a formidable duo in pass coverage, but questions will remain about their ability against the run as the veteran struggled to shed blocks last season and the 23-year-old Brown is trying to gain upper-body strength after being listed at a light 235 pounds during his rookie year.

The 6-2, 248-pound linebacker was one of only three NFL defensive players — the others being Lavonte David and Karlos Dansby — to post at least 100 tackles, five sacks, and three interceptions in 2013. Smith has tallied 100 tackles in eight of his 10 professional seasons.

Smith was originally a second-round pick from Georgia Tech in the 2004 NFL draft.

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