Posted on 23 May 2014 by WNST Audio
Posted on 22 May 2014 by Luke Jones
After learning earlier this week that he will not be prosecuted for a domestic violence incident that took place in New Jersey earlier this offseason, Ravens running back Ray Rice is ready to break his silence.
The 27-year-old is scheduled to address the media at the Ravens’ training facility in Owings Mills at 3 p.m. on Friday afternoon and will be accompanied by his wife, Janay, according to a team release. Rice was accepted into a pretrial intervention program earlier this week, which means he will avoid going to trial and will not face any prison time for third-degree aggravated assault.
The Ravens are scheduled to begin their first session of organized team activity workouts next week and would like to avoid media attention focusing solely on Rice’s case, making Friday’s press conference logical from a timing standpoint. However, Rice and the organization still await word from NFL commissioner Roger Goodell on any potential fine or suspension for violating the league’s personal conduct policy.
Rice has yet to speak publicly about the incident that occurred at the Revel Casino in Atlantic City on February 15. He and his then-fiancée were both initially charged with simple assault-domestic violence before the grand jury indicted Rice on a more serious charge and dismissed the charge against Janay Palmer in late March. The original police report said Rice and Palmer struck one another with their hands and the former rendered his fiancée unconscious.
The couple were married a day after the indictment.
Posted on 20 May 2014 by Luke Jones
Ravens running back Ray Rice officially learned Tuesday he’s been accepted into a pretrial intervention program that will allow him to avoid prosecution for a domestic incident occurring in an Atlantic City casino in February.
The program could allow the 27-year-old to clear his record of charges after he pleaded not guilty to one count of third-degree aggravated assault earlier this month. After entering his plea and applying for the program, the prosecutor offered a plea deal that included probation with no jail time and anger management counseling, making it all but certain at the time that Rice would not be going to prison.
“After considering all relevant information in light of applicable law, it was determined this was the appropriate disposition,” acting Atlantic County prosecutor Jim McClain said in a statement on Tuesday.
Rice was arrested and charged with simple assault-domestic violence at the Revel Casino on Feb. 15 after allegedly striking his then-fiancee Janay Palmer — the pair have since married — and rendering her unconscious. Palmer was arrested for allegedly striking Rice, but the simple assault-domestic violence charge against her was dismissed by the grand jury while Rice was instead indicted for third-degree aggravated assault, a charge that potentially carried a prison term of three to five years.
It remains to be seen whether Rice will be disciplined by the NFL as he could be fined and suspended for violating the league’s personal conduct policy.
Posted on 01 May 2014 by Luke Jones
Ravens running back Ray Rice pleaded not guilty to third-degree aggravated assault on Thursday and learned he will not receive any jail time stemming from a February incident at an Atlantic City casino.
The 27-year-old applied for the pretrial intervention program, which allows certain defendants — often first-time offenders — to avoid formal prosecution. The prosecutor offered a plea deal that includes probation with no jail time and anger management counseling.
Though nothing is official, these developments during an arraignment hearing in Mays Landing, N.J. mean Rice will not be serving any time in prison. A third-degree aggravated assault charge carries a prison term of three to five years, but Rice would accept the prosecution’s plea deal should he not be approved for the pretrial intervention program.
Rice was arrested and charged with simple assault-domestic violence at the Revel Casino on Feb. 15 after allegedly striking his then-fiancee Janay Palmer — the two have since married — and rendering her unconscious. Palmer was also arrested for allegedly striking Rice, but the simple assault-domestic violence charge against her was dismissed by the grand jury.
It remains to be seen how the NFL and commissioner Roger Goodell will view Thursday’s news as Rice is still subject to league discipline.
Posted on 30 April 2014 by Luke Jones
OWINGS MILLS, Md. — The 2014 NFL draft may only be a week away, but the Ravens’ intentions at the running back position were clear long before running back Ray Rice got into trouble in Atlantic City back in February.
The 27-year-old is scheduled to be arraigned for third-degree aggravated assault in New Jersey on Thursday, but general manager Ozzie Newsome and head coach John Harbaugh knew several weeks before the incident between Rice and future wife Janay Palmer allegedly took place that the Ravens would be looking for help at the running back position. With Rice’s legal situation unresolved and the NFL possibly levying a suspension, Baltimore is almost certain to make a significant addition at the position between now and the start of the season.
But that decision had more to do with Baltimore’s 30th-ranked running game and league-worst 3.1 yards per carry average than Rice’s status for the start of the 2014 season.
“We’ll deal with Ray when that time comes,” Newsome said. “But, in talking with John all the way back to when we went to Jupiter to spend time with [owner Steve Bisciotti], we’ve been talking about adding one, maybe two running backs to our team. And this was before the incident that happened in Atlantic City. We felt like we needed to add some depth at that position coming out of the 2013 season.”
The Ravens signed veteran Justin Forsett earlier this month, but a running back will likely be a target on either the second or third day of next week’s draft. Assistant general manager Eric DeCosta was complimentary of Washington’s Bishop Sankey, Auburn’s Tre Mason, Ohio State’s Carlos Hyde, and Jeremy Hill of LSU, who are all projected to go in the second or third round. Baltimore has also met with Hyde, Boston College’s Andre Williams, Arizona’s Ka’Deem Carey, and Towson’s Terrance West.
With new offensive coordinator Gary Kubiak implementing a new system, the Ravens will be looking for a natural fit to thrive in a zone blocking scheme.
“You’ve got guys in that second round, third-round area. You’ve got some good later-round picks, too,” DeCosta said. “I think the draft is such at that position where you can get a guy in any round – second through seventh – that can help you play some good football.”
Ravens trading back in first round?
Many pundits have labeled this year’s draft class as one of the deepest in years, and the Ravens seem to support that sentiment as DeCosta claimed they have roughly 180 players they consider to be “draftable,” which is up from the typical 140 to 150 they have on their board in a given year.
With so many talented players available, many have wondered if the Ravens would consider moving back from the 17th overall pick if the right deal comes along, and Newsome confirmed Wednesday that he’s already received calls to do just that.
“If we move back four, five or six spots, we might still have the opportunity to get one or two of those players and get the additional pick,” Newsome said. “That’s how we look at it. Can we pick at 17? We’ll be prepared to pick at 17, but also we’ll be entertaining trades to be able to move back if we have to, if we want to.”
Newsome admitted it would be difficult for the Ravens to move up to draft a player in the first round since they only have four picks they’re permitted to trade. Baltimore dealt its fourth- and fifth-round choices to Jacksonville last fall to acquire left tackle Eugene Monroe and traded its seventh-round selection to Indianapolis for offensive lineman A.Q. Shipley last spring.
The Ravens have a total of four compensatory picks — a third, two fourths, and a fifth — but those selections cannot be traded.
“I could probably say if one or two players start getting really close to us, we’d be clamoring trying to go up and get them,” Newsome said. “I can just say, I know John, I know Eric and I know [director of college scouting Joe Hortiz], and we’ll be telling Steve that we need to go get this player because we feel like he can impact us that much.”
2007 trade that wasn’t to be
Newsome confirmed a report that surfaced earlier this week about the Ravens nearly pulling off a trade in 2007 to select quarterback Brady Quinn from Notre Dame before the Cleveland Browns ultimately made a deal with the Dallas Cowboys.
The Ravens held the 29th overall pick and began discussing the quarterback as he fell in the first round, even calling Quinn and his agent Tom Condon to gather information. However, the Browns were willing to pony up their second-round pick and 2008 first-round choice for the 22nd pick while the Ravens simply stayed put and settled for left guard Ben Grubbs, a five-year starter and one-time Pro Bowl selection in Baltimore.
“What happened is we were in the midst of making a trade – a trade with the team that ended up making the trade to Cleveland – and Cleveland offered more than we did, which was [then-general manager Phil Savage],” Newsome said. “Phil offered more than we did. And so, they ended up drafting Brady Quinn, and we did not get him, because what Dallas and Jerry [Jones] wanted in the trade from the other team, we did not feel like we should go up to that level.”
While no one knows how Quinn might have fared had he landed in Baltimore, the Fighting Irish product and Ohio native was a flop in Cleveland where he made only 12 starts and threw 10 touchdowns and nine interceptions. Quinn said in an interview with AM 1570 WNST on Wednesday that he’d never spoken to the Ravens during the pre-draft process but often thinks how his career might have turned out differently had they pulled off the trade instead of the Browns.
Ravens fans can only breathe a sigh of relief seven years later as the organization selected quarterback Joe Flacco a year later.
Looking at cornerbacks
Most attention has gone to obvious needs at the right tackle and free safety positions in the early rounds, but the Ravens have yet to add a cornerback to fill the void of veteran Corey Graham departing via free agency.
Newsome and Harbaugh have both complimented the potential of young cornerbacks Chykie Brown and Asa Jackson, but neither has extensive experience. Hortiz estimated that as many as 12 cornerbacks will be drafted in the first three rounds with Michigan State’s Darqueze Dennard, Oklahoma State’s Justin Gilbert, Ohio State’s Bradley Roby, and Texas Christian’s Jason Verrett among the candidates to go in the first round.
“We’ve always felt you can’t have enough corners,” Newsome said, “especially when you’re in a league now where it’s a passing league with people putting three or four receivers in the games. You don’t have too many corners.”
Auburn guy sticks up for Alabama
In the wake of Rolando McClain’s latest retirement and left tackle prospect Cyrus Kouandjio’s medical concerns at the scouting combine in Indianapolis, the University of Alabama has received plenty of scrutiny in terms of how reliable their players are at the NFL level, a sentiment that doesn’t sit well with Newsome.
Ironically, it was Hortiz, an Auburn alum, who defended Newsome’s alma mater during Wednesday’s pre-draft press conference.
“These guys, they may fail physicals or be question marks, but they are tough players,” Hortiz said. “They play through injuries, and they play in the NFL. Last year, the running back in Green Bay (Eddie Lacy) failed physicals, and he was rookie of the year. These Alabama guys, they get beat up; they play through it. [Ravens linebacker] Courtney Upshaw had a bad shoulder, and he’s a rugged, tough guy.
“I hate to hear the Alabama guys get beat up [in the media] so much – and I’m an Auburn guy – because all they do is play through pain, and they have such a mental and physical toughness. They get in the NFL and they do the same thing. Sorry to strike a nerve, but I’ve just been hearing it so much.”
Posted on 22 April 2014 by Luke Jones
(Photo courtesy of the Baltimore Ravens)
OWINGS MILLS, Md. — With players returning to Owings Mills this week to officially begin preparations for the 2014 season, the Ravens are pleased with the early turnout for the first phase of the offseason training program.
Strength and conditioning coach Bob Rogucki said attendance was “high” for the first two days of voluntary workouts with quarterback Joe Flacco, running back Ray Rice, wide receivers Steve Smith, Torrey Smith, and Jacoby Jones, tight end Owen Daniels, inside linebackers Daryl Smith and Arthur Brown, cornerbacks Lardarius Webb and Jimmy Smith, and safety Matt Elam among the many players who were present. The first two weeks of the program focus solely on strength training and conditioning four days a week, but there is less time to ease players back into the routine under the current collective bargaining agreement that pushed back the starting date for the offseason training program.
Players were given the task of completing six 300-yard runs as a baseline for their conditioning and are focusing on strengthening their necks in the early stages of the program in addition to traditional weight training.
“Anybody that comes into this program, our expectations are always going to be high for them,” said Rogucki, now in his seventh year with the organization. “If we don’t start pressing that button today then three weeks from now, they aren’t going to be ready. Our expectations are always high and, right now, we’re pleased with what they’re doing.”
Despite a tumultuous offseason that included an indictment for aggravated assault, Rice has been present for workouts and received a positive review from the Ravens training staff. Reports indicated earlier this offseason that Rice had lost weight after head coach John Harbaugh said the seventh-year running back was too heavy in a career-worst season that included a Week 2 hip injury that hampered him for much of the year.
Rice’s pending legal case may still compromise his availability for the 2014 season, but his commitment to improve on the field hasn’t gone unnoticed. The 27-year-old rushed for a career-low 660 yards and averaged just 3.1 yards per carry while weighing in the neighborhood of 225 pounds last year.
The Ravens would like him to be at least 15 pounds lighter this season.
“He’s doing some things differently as far as his diet and so forth,” Rogucki said. “He told me he has a handle on it. He looks good. Whatever he did from the end of the season until now, he’s in a good position right now.”
Starting left guard Kelechi Osemele continues to make excellent progress after undergoing back surgery last fall and is expected to participate in organized team activities and minicamp practices.
Though workouts are officially voluntary, Rogucki and the rest of the coaching staff conveyed a clear message from the point players returned to the building.
“Every time they come in, they’re going to do more weight or more reps without bells and whistles,” Rogucki said. “There’s a lot of programs out there that have bells and whistles. In order to survive in this league, you’ve got to lift and you’ve got to lift heavy. That’s the bottom line. You’ve got to run and you’ve got to run fast. You’ve got to condition and you’ve got to condition long.
“There are no other answers but that to survive. It’s a collision out there. It’s a car crash every time they hit.”
Posted on 29 March 2014 by Luke Jones
A day after being indicted on a more serious charge of third-degree aggravated assault, Ravens running back Ray Rice married his fiancée Janay Palmer, according to multiple reports.
After allegedly being involved in a physical altercation on Feb. 15 in which they both struck each other with their hands and Rice rendered Palmer unconscious, the couple has been going to therapy and counseling. Both were originally charged with simple assault-domestic violence before an Atlantic County, N.J. grand jury brought the more serious charge against Rice and dismissed the charge against Palmer.
According to The Sun, Rice and Palmer getting married will not allow the latter to invoke spousal privilege as there is an exception in New Jersey law when the spouse is the alleged victim. A third-degree aggravated assault conviction carries a potential three-to-five-year prison sentence.
Reactions against Rice have been very strong over the last six weeks as Buffalo Bills linebacker Brandon Spikes took to Twitter on Saturday to accuse the 27-year-old of marrying Palmer to help his image.
“I don’t see how anyone can respect him. Put your hands on a woman,” Spikes wrote on his official account. “The woman that had [your] child. Someone should choke him out. See how he likes it.”
The Ravens have maintained their support for Rice throughout the legal process as owner Steve Bisciotti and coach John Harbaugh reiterated earlier this week that the running back would remain with the organization in 2014. They released the following statement on Thursday following news of the indictment:
“This is part of the due process for Ray. We know there is more to Ray Rice than this one incident.”
Posted on 27 March 2014 by Luke Jones
Ravens running back Ray Rice was indicted on an aggravated assault charge stemming form an incident that occurred at an Atlantic City casino last month, acting Atlantic County prosecutor Jim McClain announced Thursday.
The 27-year-old allegedly struck and rendered his fiancee, Janay Palmer, unconscious in the Revel Casino on Feb. 15 and was initially arrested and charged with simple assault-domestic violence. However, the case was referred to the prosecutor’s office for further review as Palmer was also charged with simple assault-domestic violence for allegedly striking Rice.
Prosecutors presented the case to the grand jury, which handed down the more serious charge of third-degree aggravated assault “for attempting to cause significant body injury, and/or purposely or knowing causing such injury, and/or recklessly causing such injury under extreme indifference to the value of human life.” The charge carries a potential three-to-five year prison sentence with a conviction.
The original charge against Palmer was dismissed.
“On behalf of Ray Rice we vehemently deny that Mr. Rice committed an aggravated assault,” Rice’s attorney, Michael Diamondstein, told The Press of Atlantic City on Thursday. “Both Mr. Rice and Miss Palmer are together, they are happy, and they’re in counseling.”
The attorney also expressed that neither Rice nor Palmer want to move forward with the case.
The Ravens have stood by Rice since last month’s evidence became public with owner Steve Bisciotti saying earlier this week that the troubled running back would remain with the team in 2014. Head coach John Harbaugh echoed Bisciotti’s sentiment at the NFL owners meetings in Orlando on Tuesday.
The organization released the following statement on Thursday afternoon regarding the indictment:
“This is part of the due process for Ray. We know there is more to Ray Rice than this one incident.”
League commissioner Roger Goodell said Wednesday that the NFL was continuing to monitor the case but expressed that there was no timetable on any potential discipline being handed down to the seventh-year running back.
Posted on 25 March 2014 by Luke Jones
Speaking to reporters gathered in Orlando for this week’s NFL owners meetings, Ravens coach John Harbaugh touched on an array of topics ranging Tuesday morning, from the status of running back Ray Rice to the backup quarterback position.
A day after owner Steve Bisciotti made it clear that Rice would remain with the organization despite his legal trouble, Harbaugh reiterated his support for the troubled 27-year-old while acknowledging the obvious embarrassment felt over the Ravens’ three arrests this offseason that have prompted many to question team leadership. Wide receiver Deonte Thompson and offensive lineman Jah Reid were also arrested in a three-week period that started with Rice’s domestic violence incident in Atlantic City last month.
Harbaugh confirmed what many assumed in stating that newly-acquired veteran Jeremy Zuttah projects to be the Ravens’ starting center in 2014, replacing incumbent and 2012 fourth-round pick Gino Gradkowski.
“We traded for Jeremy for him to be the starting center. That’s the plan,” Harbaugh told reporters in Orlando. “[I] had a conversation with Gino yesterday. It was good communication and he’s in a good place. Gino’s a solid young guy. Jeremy is a more experienced center/guard in this league. The thing I liked on tape – we studied him pretty hard – he’s a big, rangy guy. He’s got length, he’s got size in there, he’s got experience and he’s also got, we think, a knack for the scheme we’re going to run offensively. He’s a good fit for us.”
The coach added that the organization would prefer to keep Kelechi Osemele at left guard and views second-year lineman Rick Wagner as the current starting right tackle among players under contract. Of course, the Ravens are expected to continue the search for more help in free agency and the draft, so the offensive line remains fluid beyond the four known starters: left tackle Eugene Monroe, right guard Marshal Yanda, Zuttah, and Osemele.
After recent reports that the Ravens were interested in quarterback Brandon Weeden before he signed in Dallas, Harbaugh confirmed that the organization is exploring the possibility of adding another quarterback. Current backup Tyrod Taylor has one year remaining on his rookie contract, but the head coach confirmed that the Ravens haven’t been overwhelmed with how the 2011 sixth-round pick has played in limited opportunities. Baltimore has carried only two quarterbacks on its 53-man roster in each of the last four seasons.
“We’ve been very happy with Tyrod, and we feel like he has a great future,” Harbaugh said, “but we have been a little disappointed how he’s played in games certainly. We feel like he’s a lot better than he’s showed. I know he feels that way too. We feel like Tyrod’s best football is by far definitely in front of him, but he’s only got one year left with us, so we need to add a quarterback into the mix, whether it be offseason or in the draft.”
The tight end position remains a point of discussion as Harbaugh confirmed interest in re-signing Ed Dickson while acknowledging interest in former Houston Texans tight end Owen Daniels, who obviously has strong ties with new offensive coordinator Gary Kubiak and new tight ends coach Brian Pariani. Dennis Pitta and University of Maryland product Matt Furstenburg are the only tight ends currently under contract.
Reporters asked Harbaugh about the status of retired linebacker Rolando McClain, whose rights are still owned by the Ravens. The coach didn’t completely rule out a return for the 24-year-old but added that he hasn’t spoken to McClain and remains skeptical unless he receives proof that the former Oakland Raider is working hard and is serious about returning to football.
“Who [is he] as a person right now? Has he grown up?” Harbaugh said of McClain. “He had a lot of growing up to do obviously. And how hard he’s working, how hard he’s working at Alabama right now. If he’s working his rear end off, then I’m kind of excited about him. If he’s not, then I’ve got no interest in him being on our team.”
Harbaugh confirmed that the Ravens will pick up the contract option for 2011 first-round cornerback Jimmy Smith as this is the first year we’ve seen this part of the rookie system come into play after the collective bargaining agreement that went into effect in 2011 standardized four-year contracts for all drafted players. The system does present teams a fifth-year option to use for first-round picks entering the final year of their rookie deals. The Ravens hope to sign both Smith and wide receiver Torrey Smith — also entering the final year of his rookie deal — to long-term extensions to keep them in Baltimore.
Baltimore is still looking to draft a safety despite last week’s signing of Darian Stewart, and Harbaugh offered praise for Alabama’s Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, who is projected to be a first-round pick and regarded as the top safety in the draft. General manager Ozzie Newsome said at the start of the offseason that the Ravens would be looking to add a more athletic safety with 2013 first-round pick Matt Elam expected to play closer to the line of scrimmage.
“Safeties are interchangeable these days,” Harbaugh said. “There are certain traits you look for. I’m looking at the safeties now in the draft. You want tacklers and you want guys with range and you wants guys with ball skills.”
The Ravens would also like to add depth on the defensive line following the free-agent departure of Arthur Jones, but 2013 third-round pick Brandon Williams is the current favorite to take Jones’ starting spot.
According to the coach, Kubiak recently put the finishing touches on the Ravens’ new offensive playbook before it was then distributed to players. Harbaugh was also told that quarterback Joe Flacco has plans to get together with his wide receivers for informal throwing sessions before the start of the offseason training program next month.
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.