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Ravens bring food, support to west Baltimore

Posted on 30 April 2015 by Luke Jones

(Photo courtesy of the Baltimore Ravens)

After many players spoke out against the violence in Baltimore earlier this week, the Ravens brought support and supplies to the west Baltimore area on Thursday morning.

Head coach John Harbaugh, former Ravens linebackers Ray Lewis and O.J. Brigance, and quarterback Joe Flacco were part of a group of 55 players and 30 organization volunteers. The group visited two elementary schools as well as Frederick Douglass High School, where Lewis gave an impassioned speech to students.

“We have an opportunity to change Baltimore,” said Lewis as CNN brought live coverage of his words. “If you want to make real change, be the example of change.”

Lewis elected to forgo his normal ESPN duties covering the NFL draft in Chicago in order to remain in Baltimore to offer support in such a trying time. Due to the citywide curfew, the Ravens were forced to cancel their Thursday night draft party at M&T Bank Stadium earlier this week.

It was hardly surprising, but the Ravens’ arrival in the community hit hardest by Monday’s rioting was the latest example to help justify the overwhelming support they’ve received from Baltimore and its fans for the last two decades.

 

 

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Ray Lewis forgoes ESPN draft coverage to remain in Baltimore

Posted on 28 April 2015 by Luke Jones

On the morning following one of the darkest days in Baltimore’s history that included over 200 arrests, 144 vehicle fires, 19 structure fires, and 15 police officers injured, one of the city’s iconic sports figures broke his silence.

After clamoring for the end of rioting on Tuesday morning via social media, future Hall of Fame linebacker Ray Lewis revealed he would forgo his role with ESPN covering Thursday’s NFL draft in Chicago to remain in Baltimore, the network announced.

“I felt that it was more important for me to stay in Baltimore and try to help the city I love,” Lewis said in a statement. “I greatly appreciate ESPN’s understanding and flexibility at this late date. I did not feel right leaving the city at this time.”

It remains unclear what Lewis intends to do in the coming days, but you likely won’t find a more influential figure to speak to the city’s youth after he became one of the most revered figures in Baltimore sports history over his 17-year career. Anyone taking issue with that sentiment because of Lewis’ history likely wouldn’t be part of the target audience anyway.

Lewis posted the following thoughts on his official Twitter account as well as a video to his official Facebook page:

I've got a message for the rioters in Baltimore.

Posted by Ray Lewis on Tuesday, April 28, 2015

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Ray Lewis signs up for SpikeTV show to help coaches with anger issues

Posted on 04 August 2014 by WNST Staff

Spike TV Teams up with Ray Lewis to Help Coaches with Anger Issues in “Coaching Bad”

 

SPIKE TV TEAMS UP WITH RAY LEWIS TO HELP COACHES WITH ANGER ISSUES IN “COACHING BAD”

New Series Showcases Lewis And Anger Management Specialist Dr. Christian Conte As They Put 9 Coaches Through An Intense Program To Change Their Combative Ways

IRWIN ENTERTAINMENT (“Celebrity Rehab With Dr. Drew,” “Couples Therapy”) Will Executive Produce

Series Shoots In Los Angeles This Summer and Debuts in 1st Qtr 2015

New York, NY, August 4, 2014 – Good coaches motivate us, inspire us, and teach us the skills to win.  However, there is a growing epidemic of coaches with uncontrollable anger issues spreading across today’s sports landscape. From Bobby Knight to Mike Rice, too many men and women coaching American athletes, of all ages, often cross the line in what is acceptable behavior on the sidelines or in the dugout.

Spike TV has brought together NFL legend Ray Lewis and acclaimed anger management specialist and author Dr. Christian Conte to tackle bad coaching and anger management head on in the new original series, “Coaching Bad.”

The show features nine coaches who have recognized that they need to change their combative and often bombastic ways if they want to continue in the profession they love. The coaches, who come from a variety of different sports from all around the country, move into a Coaching Center in Los Angeles for intense retraining and reconditioning.

This impactful and intensive program, designed personally by Dr. Conte and Lewis, will include three phases of transformation; assessing the coaches’ baseline anger issues; working to create real change; and putting that change to the test.

For many of the coaches, their anger issues have also seriously damaged their relationship with family members and their current employers. For some, the retraining program might be their last chance to save their marriage or keep their jobs.

During the course of the retraining program, various sports figures will lend their perspective on the negative effects of caustic coaching. The list of guest speakers includes Chuck Pagano, Bill Romanowski, and Glen “Big Baby” Davis.

John Irwin, Damian Sullivan and Richard Hall are executive producers for Irwin Entertainment.

Spike TV has ordered eight one-hour episodes of “Coaching Bad.”  The series is shooting in Los Angeles this summer and will debut in the 1st qtr of 2015. Hayley Lozitsky, Vice President, Development, Spike TV will serve as the Executive in Charge of Production. Sharon Levy is Executive Vice President, Original Series, Spike TV and Chris Rantamaki is Spike TV’s Senior Vice President, Original Series.

“Spike TV is thrilled to partner with one of the greatest players in NFL history in a compelling new series that will shine a light on the ever-growing issue of coaches and their anger issues,” said Levy. “Who better than Ray to bestow insight and wisdom to these coaches after his storied career as a leader on and off the field during his playing days with the University of Miami and Baltimore Ravens.”

One of the greatest linebackers in NFL history, Ray Lewis played 17 years with the Baltimore Ravens and was named to 13 Pro Bowls and awarded NFL Defensive Player of the Year in 2000 and 2003. Lewis won two Super Bowls with the Ravens (named MVP in Super Bowl XXXV) and is currently an NFL broadcaster with ESPN.

Dr. Christian Conte was an award-winning, tenured professor at the University of Nevada, Reno, before he left the West Coast to return to his home state of Pennsylvania. He is a Licensed Professional Counselor, Nationally Certified Psychologist, author, and professional speaker who specializes in Anger Management and Communication. Dr. Conte co-founded a center in South Lake Tahoe, California, to work with people who have been convicted of violent crimes, and he is the creator of Yield theory – a powerful approach to combining radical compassion with conscious education.

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Concern growing over Ravens cornerback Webb’s lingering back injury

Posted on 29 July 2014 by Luke Jones

BALTIMORE — What initially appeared to be a minor back issue continues to linger for cornerback Lardarius Webb, who missed his third straight practice Monday as the Ravens shifted training camp to M&T Bank Stadium for a public workout.

Head coach John Harbaugh acknowledged the back spasms he deemed as “nothing serious” on Friday have caused concern as the sixth-year cornerback remained sidelined, leaving third-year defensive back Asa Jackson to take the reps opposite Jimmy Smith in the starting defense. Webb left the field midway through the second full-squad workout of training camp and hasn’t practiced since.

“We’re going to see about Lardarius,” Harbaugh said. “He has some back things that we’re looking at right now, and backs are a little weird. At first it was no big deal. It’s lingering a little bit, so we’ll find out what’s going on with him.”

Fellow cornerback Chykie Brown returned to practice after missing Sunday’s workout due to a tweaked hamstring. He worked with the second-team base defense and played outside in the first-string nickel package with Jackson sliding inside when the Ravens used three cornerbacks.

Defensive end Chris Canty missed his second straight practice on Monday and was excused to deal with a family matter, according to Harbaugh. With Canty absent, second-year defensive lineman Kapron Lewis-Moore filled in at the 5-technique spot with the starting unit.

Other players remaining absent from practice included offensive linemen Will Rackley (concussion-related symptoms) and Parker Graham (groin) and defensive tackle Terrence Cody (hip), who remains on the active physically unable to perform list as he recovers from offseason surgery.

Lewis pays surprise visit

With a statue of Ray Lewis expected to be unveiled before the start of the regular season, the future Hall of Fame linebacker paid a surprise visit to the public training camp practice, easily drawing the loudest ovation on Monday night.

Lewis’ statue will stand next to the one of Johnny Unitas that was completed outside M&T Bank Stadium in 2002. Fans have customarily rubbed the high-top shoe of the Unitas statue for good luck on game days, but it remains to be seen if a new tradition will emerge when the second statue makes its debut next to the image of the Baltimore Colts legend and Hall of Fame quarterback.

“Most of the time, I’m never lost for words, but that’s a very humbling thing,” said Lewis, who implied his statue will be an image of his famed pre-game dance routine. “”For me to share that [honor with the late Unitas], that’s awesome.”

Rice greeted warmly by Ravens fans

As has been the case for with the select few selected for the opportunity to attend training camp practices in Owings Mills, fans greeted running back Ray Rice warmly whenever he was shown on the video board at the stadium.

Upon receiving his first loud ovation of the evening, Rice tapped his chest to acknowledge an announced crowd of 28,323.

The three-day window for Rice to appeal the two-game suspension handed down by NFL commissioner Roger Goodell passed on Monday with the 27-year-old electing not to try to have the discipline reduced.

Monday highlights

Wide receiver Torrey Smith made the play of the night with a leaping, one-handed catch inside the red zone with Jackson trying to stick with him in coverage.

Matt Elam turned in the most bizarre play of the evening when he picked off a Joe Flacco pass before nearly being run down by the golf cart of owner Steve Bisciotti, who claimed the second-year safety had seen him all the way and nearly tipped the vehicle over.

Defensive end Pernell McPhee was the defensive standout of the evening, collecting two quarterback sacks and making another tackle for a loss during team drills.

First-round inside linebacker C.J. Mosley got his first taste of M&T Bank Stadium and responded by knocking away a Flacco pass in the end zone during 11-on-11 red-zone work. Mosley lined up next to veteran Daryl Smith in the starting defense.

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Suggs applying tough lessons from last season to bounce back in 2014

Posted on 18 June 2014 by Luke Jones

OWINGS MILLS, Md. — Ravens linebacker Terrell Suggs spent a decade chasing the elusive Super Bowl glory he finally tasted at the end of the 2012 season.

But he couldn’t have imagined how difficult it was going to be defending that championship following the retirement of Ray Lewis and the free-agent departure of Ed Reed, leaving the Ravens without two Hall of Fame players and leaders who were the heart and soul of the organization. Of course, a myriad of reasons explained an 8-8 season in which the Ravens missed the playoffs, ranging from a porous offensive line and nonexistent running game to an otherwise-solid defense that struggled to create turnovers and get off the field in the fourth quarter.

Suggs and his veteran teammates said all the right things last season when asked how they’d possibly replace the leadership void created by the departures of Lewis, Reed, and other veterans, claiming there were more than enough voices ready to handle the changes. But the 31-year-old linebacker acknowledged Wednesday it was not only “very agonizing” to miss the postseason for the first time since 2007 but also draining going through his first season without two men who’d been older brothers to him for the first 10 years of his career.

“I had those older guys around to build, and it was a period of adjustment,” Suggs said. “It was weird, and it transpired onto the field — not having those guys there. But, the most [important] thing we can learn from last year about those guys not being there is those were once-in-a-lifetime guys — Ed Reed and Ray Lewis — and all we can be is ourselves. They’re not going to come walking through the door to help us win another championship. All you can be is yourself, and that should be enough.”

Even though Suggs posted double-digit sacks for the fifth time in his career in 2013, his play down the stretch didn’t help the Ravens’ push for a sixth straight trip to the postseason as he collected only one sack in the final eight games, leading many to speculate he was playing hurt. His 10 sacks were enough to earn him his sixth invitation to the Pro Bowl, but his play against both the run and pass deteriorated at an alarming rate with four games in which he posted one or no tackles.

With the Ravens needing a win over the Cincinnati Bengals in Week 17 to sneak into the playoffs, Suggs and fellow pass-rusher Elvis Dumervil combined for one tackle and zero sacks in a 34-17 loss that resulted in the Ravens staying home in January. Asked to reflect on his up-and-down season at this week’s mandatory minicamp, Suggs didn’t hide behind what could have been the convenient excuse of saying he was hurt.

“One of the things was you get a little cold and you gain a little weight,” said Suggs about the second half of the season. “I probably put on a little too much weight down the stretch there. But that was one of my big focuses going into this year. Definitely, if I keep my weight down, I can have a strong finish. I think I was pretty much healthy.”

Head coach John Harbaugh went out of his way to praise Suggs for his conditioning level upon reporting to Owings Mills earlier this week. The veteran linebacker likes the changes made to both sides of the ball, citing the positive vibe created by the hiring of new offensive coordinator Gary Kubiak.

The linebacker also complimented the free-agent signing of veteran wide receiver Steve Smith, who isn’t afraid to ruffle some feathers like he did during Wednesday’s practice when he got into a scuffle with cornerback Lardarius Webb. It’s the kind of attitude that was lacking on the offensive side of the ball last season following the trade of wide receiver Anquan Boldin.

“It’s good to have that. We had it a few years ago in 81,” Suggs said. “And it’s good to have that fire back on that side of the ball, [to] have somebody who will go out there and jab back with us and compete.”

In addition to acquiring Smith and a few other veterans such as center Jeremy Zuttah and tight end Owen Daniels, the Ravens spent a large portion of their offseason re-signing their own players, including a four-year contract extension for Suggs. The deal did provide short-term relief in lowering his 2014 salary cap figure from $12.4 million to $7.8 million, but general manager Ozzie Newsome made a $16 million gamble in guaranteed money that Suggs’ second half last season was more of an aberration than a preview of what’s to come for a linebacker entering his 12th season.

So, who is the real Suggs at this stage of his career? The man who looked like a Defensive Player of the Year candidate while accumulating nine sacks in the first eight games last year or the worn-down player who failed to set the edge against the run and provided little pressure on the quarterback down the stretch?

The truth is likely somewhere in the middle, but Suggs appears determined to prove he’s closer to the player he was in the first half of the 2013 season based on what kind of shape he was in upon arriving at the team facility this week. And he made it clear he’s recommitted to just being himself after struggling to adjust to life without Lewis or Reed for the first time in his NFL career.

“You’re going to always have something to prove when you’re playing this game,” Suggs said. “You never want to hit your cruising altitude; you always want to be ascending with your game. You can always get better.”

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Ravens draftee Mosley feels blessed to follow idol Ray Lewis to Baltimore

Posted on 08 May 2014 by WNST Audio

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An important #WNSTSweet16 during an important week for the Ravens

Posted on 06 May 2014 by Luke Jones

After taking a look at the rare not-so-great draft moments in the history of the Baltimore Ravens a week ago, this week’s #WNSTSweet16 recognizes an abundance of riches in ranking the most important draft picks in franchise history.

Though recent years have produced more singles and doubles than triples and home runs as they relate to the work of general manager Ozzie Newsome and his talented front office, the Ravens’ immense success over the first 18 years of their existence should be attributed first and foremost to the draft and an ability to recognize talent to fit their vision of a winning franchise. Assistant general manager Eric DeCosta said last week that luck is a significant factor in finding impact talent year after year, but a simple look at this week’s list shows that 11 of the 16 choices came in the first round, a reflection of just how rarely the Ravens have missed early in the draft.

It’s important to reiterate this week’s list covers the most important — not necessarily the best — draft picks as certain selections came at critical junctures for a franchise that already boasts two Super Bowl championships in its young history. A simple question to ask in determining a draft pick’s importance was, “How critical was this player to winning a championship or at least enjoying an extended run of success?”

Cracking the top five is no easy task as the Ravens already claim one Hall of Fame player selected with their first ever draft pick while two other first-round choices are slam dunks for Canton in the not-so-distant future.

Without further ado, I present the #WNSTSweet16 Most Important Draft Picks in Ravens History:

Continue to next page for No. 16

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NFL Draft: Who will the Ravens take 17th overall?

Posted on 02 May 2014 by johngallo

In less than a week, we’ll know.

We’ll know who’s the Ravens’ first pick in the draft, a player who history says should be Pro Bowl-level good.

Of the Ravens’ 18 all-time first-round picks, 10 have gone on to make at least one Pro Bowl. The 10 players have been selected to 51 Pro Bowls as a group, led by Ray Lewis’ 13 and Jonathan Ogden’s 11.

But recent history paints another picture: The Ravens’ past four first-round picks – safety Matt Elam (2013), cornerback Jimmy Smith (2011), tackle Michael Oher (2009) and quarterback Joe Flacco (2008) – have yet to make a Pro Bowl. Flacco, however, is a Super Bowl Most Valuable Player, which in my book – or whatever one you are reading – is more valuable than making a Pro Bowl.

The Ravens are picking at No. 17, which represents their highest pick since taking Flacco at No. 18 in 2008 – and all he did was turn into a $100 million dollar man with a Super Bowl ring.

The Ravens, clearly, have needs after going 8-8 and missing the playoffs for the first time in the John Harbaugh Era. But this year, the Ravens’ needs are much more glaring.

The media’s projection regarding who will be the next Raven is all over the place. While some agree on the position, they don’t agree on the player. How many different names have you seen linked to the Ravens at No. 17?

Harbaugh basically said the Ravens want to add a good person at every position. Really, like what was he going to say – that the Ravens were looking to enter training camp with gaping holes and a roster that includes mediocre draft picks?

“It’s important to add a running back, but we’ve got some other spots, too. It’s important to add an offensive lineman, a wide receiver, a tight end and some depth at quarterback. It’s important to add a safety, a corner, inside backer and a defensive tackle,” Harbaugh said at pre-draft press conference. “So, that’s where I’m at right now.”

Which is where, exactly?

Harbaugh and the Ravens have a list of guys they’re targeting, but they are not sharing.

I am.

Here are three guys I’d love to see don a Ravens cap after hugging Commissioner Roger Goodell in New York City on May 8.

No. 1: Taylor Lewan, OT, Michigan

Height/weight: 6-foot-7, 309 pounds

What he did at the NFL Combine: Raise his draft stock considerably. His.4.87 time in the 40-yard dash, 30.5-inch vertical jump. 117-inch broad jump and 7.39-second three-cone drill all ranked in the top four among offensive linemen. He proved at the combine – and as a four-year starter at the University of Michigan – he has the speed to play in the NFL. However, his 39 reps of lifting 225 pounds tied for 11th with Notre Dame’s Zack Martin, well behind the 42 reps put up by North Carolina’s Russell Bodine. But it’s easier to improve a players’ strength compared to speed.

Why he’s a great fit for the Ravens: Quickly: If the season started tomorrow, who would start at right tackle? Raise your hand if you had Ricky Wagner, a fifth-round pick who played in all 16 games with two starts as a rookie last year. Upgrading an offensive line that was terrible in protecting Flacco and just as bad in creating holes for Ray Rice is critical if the Ravens are going to return to the playoffs. The Ravens have been superb at picking offensive linemen in the first round. Ogden (1996) played in 11 Pro Bowls and was enshrined in the Hall of Fame, while Ben Grubbs (2007) made one. The odd man out: Oher, who never lived up to his lofty expectations and signed with the Titans during the offseason.

No. 2: Darqueze Dennard, CB, Michigan State

Measurements: 5-11, 199

What he did at the NFL Combine: Enough to justify being a first-round pick. His 4.51 in the 40-yard dash tied for 13th in his position, well behind the 4.37 put up by Oklahoma State’s Justin Gilbert, who is regarded as the draft’s best defensive back. But Dennard’s best work was on the field, where he was an All-American and Jim Thorpe (nations best DB) winner at Michigan State who took away the receiver he covered.

Why he’s a great fit for the Ravens: The loss of Corey Graham creates a void in the secondary, as the Ravens need to address safety and defensive back. Dennard’s physical ability and toughness make him too good to pass up if he slides to the Ravens. With Dennard, the question could be, is he the next Chris McAlister, a three-time Pro Bowler the Ravens took in 1999, or the next Jimmy Smith?

No. 3: Calvin Pryor, S, Louisville

Measurements: 5-11, 207

What he did at the NFL Combine: Show he’s one of the strongest safeties in the draft, which makes him attractive to the Ravens since they need a complement to the speedy Matt Elam. Pryor’s 18 reps of 225 pounds tied for fourth at his position, well behind Brock Vereen’s 25, but Pryor is faster than Vereen. Pryor’s 4.58 in the 40-yard dash tied for eighth among safeties, well behind Florida State’s Terrence Brooks, who ran a blistering, 4.42.

Why he’s a great fit for the Ravens: Because the Ravens need someone to fill the huge shoes of future Hall of Famer Ed Reed, a former defensive player of the year and eight-time Pro Bowler. Reed was an absolute steal when the Ravens selected him 24th overall in 2002. Pryor could immediately replace James Ihedigbo, who signed with Detroit during the offseason.

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Bisciotti vows troubled running back Ray Rice not going anywhere

Posted on 25 March 2014 by Luke Jones

Echoing the sentiments offered by head coach John Harbaugh and general Ozzie Newsome in recent weeks, Ravens owner Steve Bisciotti offered his support to running back Ray Rice and reiterated that he will be part of the team in 2014.

Speaking to The Baltimore Sun as the league meetings commenced in Orlando on Monday, Bisciotti described the incident as “disappointing” and one that the running back will live with for the rest of his life, but Rice’s future with the organization — at least for the upcoming season — isn’t in jeopardy regardless of how the legal situation is resolved. Rice and Janay Palmer were arrested and charged with simple assault-domestic violence in mid-February after the two allegedly struck one another with their hands.

“Ray will be here,” Bisciotti said. “This is a singular moment six years after we drafted him. It’s embarrassing for him and his fiancée. It is especially hard to see somebody that is proud of his reputation have to take this kind of public-relations hit.”

Atlantic City police referred the case to the county prosecutor’s office for review, but there’s been no update if any additional or different charges have been filed.

NOTES: The Ravens awarded Harbaugh with an extra year on his current contract, extending him through the 2017 season. Bisciotti said he offered an extra year to his head coach as a show of support that nothing has changed in his mind despite Baltimore missing the postseason last year for the first time since 2007. … Bisciotti also confirmed the Ravens will honor future Hall of Fame linebacker Ray Lewis with a statue planned to be unveiled outside M&T Bank Stadium before the start of the 2014 season. The likeness of Lewis will stand in Unitas Plaza.

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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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