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Examining the Ravens’ possible 2014 salary cap cuts

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Examining the Ravens’ possible 2014 salary cap cuts

Posted on 06 January 2014 by Luke Jones

The Ravens don’t enter the winter in quite as dire straights with their salary cap as they did a year ago, but that won’t protect them from facing difficult decisions in trying to rebound from their first non-playoff season since 2007.

Entering the offseason with 37 players under contract and roughly $14 million in cap space — they’ve since signed nine players to reserve-future deals — the Ravens must take a long look at a number of potential veteran cuts that would bring needed room to not only re-sign some of their own free agents but allow them to explore outside possibilities to improve a roster that finished 8-8 in 2013.

The biggest and most intriguing name on the list will be Pro Bowl linebacker Terrell Suggs, who is entering the final year of a six-year, $62.5 million contract and has spent 11 years with the organization that selected him in the first round of the 2003 draft. Deciding his status will be at the top of general manager Ozzie Newsome’s list of internal priorities before turning his efforts toward augmenting the roster for 2014.

A name that won’t be on the list of possible cap casualties is running back Ray Rice, who is coming off the worst season of his career and has often been mentioned by fans as someone the Ravens shouldn’t bring back. Though Rice’s 2014 cap figure of $8.75 million is way too high for a running back who averaged only 3.1 yards per carry and gained just 660 yards, his release prior to June 1 would cost $14.25 million in dead money toward the 2014 cap. In other words, cutting Rice would actually be more expensive to the Ravens’ 2014 cap than keeping him for another season.

The three-time Pro Bowl running back isn’t going anywhere in 2014.

It’s important to remember the rule of 51 as the top 51 cap numbers on the roster count against the salary cap. The savings from any released player is offset in part by an additional player jumping into the top 51 from the bottom of the list. For example, if a released player carrying a $3 million cap number is replaced in the top 51 by another player carrying a $405,000 cap number, the end result is a $2.595 million savings on the salary cap.

Here’s how I’d rank the list of possible candidates to be cut for cap purposes (with the pre-June 1 cap savings noted in parentheses), in order from most likely to least likely:

1. FB Vonta Leach ($1.75 million)
Skinny: The fate of the three-time Pro Bowl fullback is the easiest to predict as this move is about football as much as it is finances. The Ravens abandoned the two-back system early in the season as their running game struggled and wouldn’t figure to be willing to pay Leach his $1.75 million base salary in 2014 after he rarely played more than a handful of offensive snaps per game in the final 2 1/2 months of 2013. Even if the Ravens elect to emphasize the fullback more often in their offensive approach for 2014, Kyle Juszczyk or another cheaper option will be preferred to Leach, who sees the writing on the wall in terms of his future in Baltimore.

2. LB Jameel McClain ($3.2 million)
Skinny: The Ravens cut McClain’s 2013 base salary in half while he worked his way back from a spinal cord contusion, so you wonder how willing he would be to accept another pay cut to remain in Baltimore. The free-agent status of veteran Daryl Smith makes this decision more compelling as the Ravens could use the money saved on McClain toward a new contract for Smith, who played well at Mike linebacker in Dean Pees’ system. With younger and cheaper options such as 2013 second-round pick Arthur Brown and Josh Bynes on the roster, it only makes sense for the Ravens to look into lowering McClain’s salary if not deciding to cut him altogether as he enters the final season of a three-year contract.

3. P Sam Koch ($1.6 million)
Skinny: Serving as Baltimore’s punter since 2006, Koch is one of the longest-tenured players on the team, but his $2.8 million cap figure for 2014 is the 10th-highest among players currently under contract for 2014. He did rebound down the stretch after a subpar start to the season, but the Ravens have to think they can go younger and cheaper than the league’s 22nd-ranked net punter in 2013. Of course, cutting Koch wouldn’t make it impossible to bring him back at a reduced rate if he was agreeable to doing so, but finding an effective punter in the latter stages of the draft or in rookie free agency shouldn’t be too impossible of a task.

4. LB Terrell Suggs ($7.8 million)
Skinny: The only reason that Suggs isn’t higher on the list is the likelihood of the Ravens exploring a short-term extension to lower his projected $12.4 million cap figure for 2014. Suggs’ poor second half in 2013 raises concerns about giving more money to a player who will be 32 in October, and the Ravens need to think carefully about making commitments to players for past accomplishments instead of future production. It’s difficult to say whether Suggs’ disappointing second half — only one sack in the final eight games — was the result of an injury or simply wearing down, but the Ravens might be wise to part with him a year early instead of possibly a season too late. It would be hard to walk away from a franchise player and a pass rusher with 94 1/2 career sacks if you think he has plenty left, but $7.8 million in extra space can help accomplish much in an offseason. Whether they ultimately work out an extension, cut him, or somehow manage to get Suggs to agree to a straight pay cut, the Ravens aren’t expected to allow his huge cap number to go untouched.

5. DE Chris Canty ($1.83 million)
Skinny: Considering Canty is their best 5-technique defensive end and fellow defensive lineman Arthur Jones could depart via free agency, the Ravens are likely to keep the 31-year-old veteran after a solid but unspectacular first year in Baltimore. He only counts for $3.16 million on the 2014 cap and the Ravens will already be depending on younger players such as Brandon Williams and DeAngelo Tyson to fill bigger defensive roles, so Canty represents a solid option to plug into the starting lineup for at least one more season. Canty is owed a $500,000 roster bonus on the fourth day of the new league year that begins in March, so a decision on his fate would have to come before then if the Ravens are contemplating cutting him.

6. DT Haloti Ngata ($1 million)
Skinny: The five-time Pro Bowl defensive tackle’s name has come up often over the last two winters, but the $1 million in savings from a potential release is dwarfed by the $15 million in dead space the Ravens would need to absorb on the 2014 cap if he were to be cut prior to June 1. It’s virtually impossible to argue that his production no longer matches the $16 million cap figure he’ll carry for 2014, but Ngata is still an above-average player that would be difficult for the Ravens to adequately replace after taking such a big cap hit. The only reason the Ravens would really consider cutting Ngata would be to save the $8.5 million in base salary he’s owed next season, but that would be a decision of saving cash over clearing cap space and not one that would help the team on the field in the coming season. It wouldn’t be impossible, but the Ravens appear very unlikely to cut Ngata this offseason.

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Our Ravens/Vikings “Pats on the Ass”

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Our Ravens/Vikings “Pats on the Ass”

Posted on 08 December 2013 by Glenn Clark

After every Baltimore Ravens victory, Ryan Chell and I take to the airwaves on “The Creative Deck Designs Postgame Show” on AM1570 WNST.net to offer “Pats on the Ass” to players who have done something to deserve the honor.

We give pats to two defensive players, two offensive players and one “Wild Card”-either another offensive or defensive player, a Special Teams player or a coach. We offer a “Pat on Both Cheeks” to someone who stands out, our version of a “Player of the Game.” Ryan and I select five different players/coaches each.

Here are our “Pats on the Ass” following the Ravens’ 29-26 victory over the Minnesota Vikings Sunday at M&T Bank Stadium…

Glenn Clark’s Pats…

5. Chris Canty

4. James Ihedigbo

3. Ray Rice

2. Marlon Brown

1. Jacoby Jones (Pat on Both Cheeks)

(Continued on Page 2…)

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Ravens defense aiming to reverse trend of late-game struggles

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Ravens defense aiming to reverse trend of late-game struggles

Posted on 07 November 2013 by Luke Jones

(This blog brought to you by Atlantic Remodeling. Visit www.atlanticremodeling.com to learn about their Red Cent Guarantee!)

OWINGS MILLS, Md. — Ravens defensive coordinator Dean Pees recollected Thursday that his defense came under fire a year ago for being lousy statistically despite the Ravens’ 6-2 record midway through the 2012 season.

Of course, a 3-5 record this season doesn’t sit well with Pees despite his unit’s overall improvement, but problems still exist on his side of the ball. Ranked 10th overall in total yards and points per game allowed, the Ravens have forced only 10 turnovers — ranked 11th in the AFC — and have struggled to get defensive stops late in games when they’ve been trailing. And with an offense that’s struggled immensely, those defensive shortcomings have contributed to three straight losses.

“More games are lost than won in the National Football League,” defensive end Chris Canty said. “We’ve got to stop shooting ourselves in the foot, stop doing the things that cause you to lose games, and just play solid ball.”

According to Football Outsiders, the Baltimore defense ranks fifth in the NFL in average defensive drive time (2:21), making their late-game struggles even more puzzling. In losses to Green Bay, Pittsburgh, and Cleveland, the Ravens have surrendered a drive of six minutes or longer that’s been pivotal in either allowing the opposition to build on a second-half lead or to prevent the Baltimore offense from having a final opportunity to tie the game or take the lead.

Many have pondered how much the offense’s first-half struggles have tired out the defense, but the final time of possession wasn’t lopsided in any of the three losses with the Ravens having the ball for at least 28:38 in each game. In Week 9, the Browns took possession of the ball with a 21-18 lead and 6:44 remaining in the fourth quarter and remained on the field until kicking a field goal with 14 seconds remaining. On that drive in which the Browns converted a third-and-3 from their own 36 and a fourth-and-1 from the Baltimore 43 with 3:12 remaining, Pees opined that his defense played tentatively instead of aggressively in trying to make a play.

“You’ve got to feel good enough about yourself that you don’t worry about making a mistake,” Pees said. “You guys have heard me tell you the analogy before – and that’s what I told them this week – you practice that way out here and you go 100 miles an hour, because there’s really not a lot on the line. Somehow, mentally, you’ve got to make yourself play it the same way in a game. I know it’s on the line, we all know it’s on the line, but you’ve got to go. And you’ve just got to make a play.”

Regardless of the exact reasons why, the Ravens are frustrated with their growing reputation of being unable to finish defensively after generally playing well over the first three quarters of the game.

And that recent trend, coupled with the offense’s extremely slow starts all season, has led to the Ravens being as close to must-win mode as they can be against the division-leading Cincinnati Bengals on Sunday.

“It’s always frustrating. You’ve got to win games,” linebacker Terrell Suggs said. “They’re on scholarship, too, so to say – the opposing team – and they’re making plays. It’s just one of those things. You’ve just got to get after it and do it.”

Punting problems

Sam Koch is just one of several established veterans experiencing rough seasons as the longtime punter struggled again last Sunday in Cleveland, three times failing to pin the Browns inside the 20 when kicking near midfield.

The worst of the three offenses came on his final opportunity of the day from his own 46 when he produced a 25-yarder that went out of bounds at the Cleveland 29. The shank gave the Browns solid field position that preceded their game-clinching drive that erased all but the final 14 seconds of the game.

“It’s very frustrating,” Koch said of his season. “I put all the time and work and effort into to trying to make that perfect game.”

Koch’s 37.6 yard net punting average ranks 28th in the league and would be his lowest since 2007 (36.0).

“Sam would be the first one to tell you that he’s been inconsistent,” special teams coordinator Jerry Rosburg said. “There have been situations in games where we need a better ball; [the final punt against the Browns] was an example of it. You’ve also seen him in games where he can hit exactly what we want. We put a lot on Sam. We ask him to do things that other punters in this league aren’t asked to do in terms of direction and so forth. He has demonstrated in practice,time and time and time again that he can do all of that. We just need to do that same kind of performance in the game.”

“Ngata”-nough

CONTINUE ON NEXT PAGE >>>>>

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Our Ravens/Browns “Slaps to the Head”

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Our Ravens/Browns “Slaps to the Head”

Posted on 03 November 2013 by Glenn Clark

After Baltimore Ravens victories, Ryan Chell and I award players who made positive contributions with “Pats on the Ass” during the Creative Deck Designs Postgame Show on AM1570 WNST.net.

The Ravens fell to the Cleveland Browns 24-18 Sunday at FirstEnergy Stadium, meaning there were no Pats to be awarded.

So instead of offering “Pats on the Ass”, Ryan and I offered “Slaps to the Head” postgame. A slap on the side of the head from a coach tends to come along with them saying something along the lines of “you’ve gotta do better than that.”

Same rules as there were with Pats. Two offensive players, two defensive players, and a Wild Card (Special Teams player, coach, or another Offensive or Defensive player). One player gets “two slaps” (or a slap on both sides of the head), it’s the opposite of a “Player of the Game” honor.” Ryan and I select five different players/coaches after each game.

Here are our five Ravens that have “gotta do better than that.”

Glenn Clark’s Slaps…

5. Corey Graham

4. Matt Elam

3. Michael Oher

2. Ray Rice

1. Juan Castillo (Two Slaps)

(Continued on Page 2…)

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Ravens-Steelers: Five predictions for Sunday

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Ravens-Steelers: Five predictions for Sunday

Posted on 19 October 2013 by Luke Jones

(This blog brought to you by Atlantic Remodeling. Visit www.atlanticremodeling.com to learn about their Red Cent Guarantee!)

Meeting for the 38th time in the last 18 years, the Ravens and Steelers renew one of the greatest rivalries in the NFL at Heinz Field on Sunday afternoon.

The buildup of this year’s first meeting between the AFC North rivals lacks its normal buzz as this is the first time since 2002 — not counting season openers — in which the Ravens and Steelers meet with neither team sporting a winning record. However, the game could be even more critical than usual for each team as the Steelers are trying to climb out of the 0-4 hole they dug for themselves in September while the Ravens don’t want to head into their bye week with a losing record.

The cast of characters continues to change in this rivalry as the likes of Ray Lewis, Hines Ward, Ed Reed, and James Harrison are no longer present, but Pittsburgh quarterback Ben Roethlisberger takes on the Ravens for the first time since Nov. 6, 2011 with a now-healthy Terrell Suggs aiming for him on the edge. Meanwhile, the Ravens will attempt to win their fourth straight regular-season game in Pittsburgh, which would be a franchise best after Baltimore also won three straight on the road from 1999 through 2001.

It’s time to go on the record as the Steelers lead the regular-season series by a 19-15 margin while also owning a 3-0 advantage in postseason contests. The Ravens are 7-10 all-time in Pittsburgh but have won three of the last four games overall at Heinz Field. Of the last 10 games played in the regular season between these two rivals, eight have been decided by three points and each team has won five.

Here’s what to expect as the Ravens look to put the Steelers in a 1-5 early-season hole while also earning their 14th win in their last 16 AFC North games …

1. Punters Sam Koch and Zoltan Mesko will have a very busy afternoon with a combined 15 punts.
You can feel your eyelids getting heavy just reading that first prediction, but neither team’s offense has inspired confidence this season as the Ravens rank 22nd in total yards while the Steelers are 18th. Both teams rank in the bottom six in rush offense, putting plenty of pressure on their respective quarterbacks. These teams combined for 25 punts in their two meetings last year, and I’d expect a similar story this season with points at a premium. The Ravens’ struggles on first and second down are well-documented as they rank 23rd in third-down conversion percentage while Pittsburgh is 21st in the league in third-down percentage. With strong defenses and a history of close, low-scoring games, field position will be very critical in determining the winner of this one as it often has been over the years.

2. Jacoby Jones won’t cash in with a touchdown like he did last year in Pittsburgh, but a big play from the wide receiver and return specialist will set up a Ravens touchdown. His 63-yard punt return for a score was the difference between a win and a loss at Heinz Field last year, and the Ravens are surely glad to have Jones’ speed back on the field via special teams and the passing game. Jones provides a consistent vertical threat on the opposite side of the field to Torrey Smith that the Ravens hope will take away some of the bracketed coverage Smith has seen this season without much complementary speed on the field. Jones made his presence immediately known last week in catching a touchdown in the second half against Green Bay, and he will set the Ravens up on a short field with a long return on a day when the offenses will struggle for each team.

3. The Steelers have sported the better overall pass defense, but the Ravens’ ferocious pass rush will lead to five sacks against Roethlisberger. Pittsburgh’s secondary has played at a very high level this season in allowing only 196 passing yards per game, but the pass rush has been underwhelming with just seven sacks, ranking 31st in the NFL. Meanwhile, the Ravens rank third in the league with 22 sacks and have consistently gotten pressure on quarterbacks to help out a suspect secondary. It’s no secret that the Pittsburgh offensive line has struggled this season, but the Ravens will once again face a quarterback with the ability to escape pressure to extend plays for receivers to get open down the field. After facing Miami’s Ryan Tannehill and Green Bay’s Aaron Rodgers in the last two games, the Ravens will be ready to face Roethlisberger, who isn’t as elusive as he was in his younger days. That will lead to a rough day for the Pittsburgh quarterback in the pocket.

4. With the running game a non-factor for both teams, the focus will shift to the passing game with Smith and Antonio Brown shining for their respective teams. The Ravens spoke about making changes this week to energize a rush offense averaging a paltry 2.7 yards per carry and the Steelers surprisingly rank an uncharacteristic 22nd against the run, but Baltimore will need to show it to make me believe they can do anything productive on the ground. The Steelers have been almost as inept at 3.1 yards per rushing attempt as their offense depends on Roethlisberger’s arm and the passing game. Smith was the hero in Pittsburgh two years ago in catching a game-winning touchdown in the final seconds of a comeback victory and will catch a touchdown on Sunday. Brown has been the offensive star for the Steelers with 41 catches and 498 yards, and he will get behind the defense for a score as Roethlisberger scrambles out of trouble and extends a play.

5. Continuing their profile of rarely making it look pretty — or easy — this season, the Ravens squeak out a 14-13 win for their fourth straight regular-season win over the Steelers in Pittsburgh. An early lead would go a long way in providing confidence for quarterback Joe Flacco and the Ravens offense, but there’s no reason to think Sunday will bring the breakthrough performance the unit is waiting for. That said, Flacco has come up with just enough big plays to get the job done in Pittsburgh in each of the last three regular-season meetings and he will be opportunistic against a formidable defense. Field position, limiting turnovers, and third-down efficiency are critical factors to win in any football game, but they will be even more important in this one where the offenses figure to be challenged for most of the afternoon. Neither of these teams are at their best right now, but the Ravens are the better group and will do just enough to squeak out a narrow road victory.

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The Five Plays That Determined The Game: Ravens/Packers

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The Five Plays That Determined The Game: Ravens/Packers

Posted on 15 October 2013 by Glenn Clark

Following every Baltimore Ravens game this season, Ryan Chell and I will take to the airwaves Tuesdays on “The Reality Check” on AM1570 WNST.net with a segment known as “The Five Plays That Determined The Game.”

It’s a simple concept. We’ll select five plays from each game that determined the outcome. These five plays will best represent why the Ravens won or lost each game.

This will be our final analysis of the previous game before switching gears towards the next game on the schedule.

Here are the five plays that determined the Ravens’ 19-17 loss to the Green Bay Packers Sunday at M&T Bank Stadium…

(Note: not all pictures are always of actual play)

Glenn Clark’s Plays…

5. Eddie Lacy 4 yard run on 3rd & 2 (4th quarter)

This “ended” the game, but Ravens would have needed a miracle even if they stopped the run.

4. Sam Koch punts for 37 yards, touchback on 4th & 9 (1st quarter)

An exchange of 17 yards of field position instead of a field goal try? Or going for it? Or taking a penalty?

3. Datone Jones recovers Joe Flacco fumble forced by Nick Perry at Ravens’ 13 (2nd quarter)

Just an absolute disaster that lead to free points.

2. Jermichael Finley 52 yard catch from Aaron Rodgers on 3rd & 3 (4th quarter)

The play that really ended things.

1. Jordy Nelson 64 yard TD catch from Aaron Rodgers (3rd quarter)

In watching film, no play seemed to turn things more dramatically. Ravens had made it one possession again only to fall behind by two TD’s. 

(Continued on Page 2…)

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The Five Plays That Determined The Game: Ravens/Browns

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The Five Plays That Determined The Game: Ravens/Browns

Posted on 17 September 2013 by Glenn Clark

Following every Baltimore Ravens game this season, Ryan Chell and I will take to the airwaves Tuesdays on “The Reality Check” on AM1570 WNST.net with a segment known as “The Five Plays That Determined The Game.”

It’s a simple concept. We’ll select five plays from each game that determined the outcome. These five plays will best represent why the Ravens won or lost each game.

This will be our final analysis of the previous game before switching gears towards the next game on the schedule.

Here are the five plays that determined the Ravens’ 14-6 win over the Cleveland Browns Sunday at M&T Bank Stadium…

(Note: not all pictures are always of actual play)

Glenn Clark’s Plays…

5. Torrey Smith 23 yard catch from Joe Flacco on 3rd & 6 (3rd quarter)

4. Marlon Brown 10 yard catch from Joe Flacco on 3rd & 7 (3rd quarter)

3. Brandon Stokley 11 yard catch from Joe Flacco on 3rd & 8 (3rd quarter)

2. Marlon Brown 5 yard TD catch from Joe Flacco (4th quarter)

1. Brandon Weeden deep pass intended for Chris Ogbonnaya incomplete (3rd quarter)

(Ryan’s Plays on Page 2…)

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The Five Plays That Determined The Game: Ravens/Broncos

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The Five Plays That Determined The Game: Ravens/Broncos

Posted on 10 September 2013 by Glenn Clark

Following every Baltimore Ravens game this season, Ryan Chell and I will take to the airwaves Tuesdays on “The Reality Check” on AM1570 WNST.net with a segment known as “The Five Plays That Determined The Game.”

It’s a simple concept. We’ll select five plays from each game that determined the outcome. These five plays will best represent why the Ravens won or lost each game.

This will be our final analysis of the previous game before switching gears towards the next game on the schedule.

Here are the five plays that determined the Ravens’ 49-27 loss to the Denver Broncos Thursday night at Sports Authority Field at Mile High…

(Note: not all pictures are always of actual play)

Glenn Clark’s Plays…

5. Chris Harris intercepts Joe Flacco pass intended for Brandon Stokey at Baltimore 24 (2nd quarter)

4. Demaryius Thomas 78 yard TD catch from Peyton Manning (4th quarter)

3. Joe Flacco pass intended for Dallas Clark incomplete on 3rd & 7 at Denver 7 (2nd quarter)

2. David Bruton blocks Sam Koch punt (3rd quarter)

1. Wes Welker 10 yard catch from Peyton Manning on 3rd & 9 (3rd quarter)

(Ryan’s Plays on Page 2…)

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Harbaugh looking forward to seeing McKinnie go to work

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Harbaugh looking forward to seeing McKinnie go to work

Posted on 05 May 2013 by Luke Jones

OWINGS MILLS, Md. — On the day when the Ravens were wrapping up their mandatory rookie minicamp, coach John Harbaugh answered questions about the return of his starting left tackle and oldest player on the roster.

After agreeing to a two-year deal worth a maximum of $7 million to remain in Baltimore on Thursday, Bryant McKinnie, 33, is expected to come to town this week to finalize the contract and begin offseason workouts. His return means the Ravens have now retained four of five starters from their Super Bowl XLVII offensive line, with only 15-year veteran Matt Birk departing due to retirement.

The Ravens had publicly entertained thoughts of moving second-year lineman Kelechi Osemele to left tackle, but a new contract for McKinnie means Baltimore can keep Osemele at left guard, solidifying another position that would have been a question mark had the 2012 second-round pick made the position change.

“Having Bryant back is a big plus for us. We were hoping that would be the case,” Harbaugh said. “I’m looking forward to seeing him next week and getting him in here and going to work. We want our line to be as strong as it can possibly be and that makes us stronger.”

Harbaugh, run-game coordinator Juan Castillo, and other members of the organization kept in touch with McKinnie throughout the offseason, even when it appeared they had little interest in bringing back the 2002 first-round pick. The Ravens’ involvement in negotiating with McKinnie spiked after they were unable to come away with a left tackle of the future in last weekend’s draft and saw San Diego and Miami make contract offers to his agent Michael George.

Asked if he’s been pleased with what McKinnie has told him in terms of his activity and conditioning level this offseason, Harbaugh spoke in generic terms since he hasn’t seen the left tackle since the end of last season. Specific details of McKinnie’s deal hadn’t been reported as of Sunday afternoon, but it’s believed there will be some incentives related to workouts and playing time.

There was plenty of speculation that McKinnie found his way into Harbaugh’s doghouse last season as he didn’t start a game until the playoffs, but the Baltimore coach reached out to the 354-pound lineman earlier this offseason to make it known that he wanted McKinnie to stay with the Ravens in 2013.

“I’m always pleased with conversations with Bryant McKinnie,” Harbaugh said. “I enjoy talking to Bryant. He’s one of my favorite guys. He’s a sterling conversationalist. We talk a lot about stuff, a lot of different things — a broad range of topics. I always enjoy that. I think he does as well.”

Spagnuolo’s role a work in progress

Sunday marked the first time Harbaugh commented publicly on the hiring of former St. Louis Rams head coach Steve Spagnuolo as a senior defensive assistant, and it appears his role will remain fluid as the offseason moves into training camp and the start of the regular season.

The pair spent seven seasons working together as assistants for the Philadelphia Eagles before Spagnuolo moved on to become the defensive coordinator of the New York Giants and ultimately the head coach in St. Louis from 2009 through 2011. Spagnuolo spent last season as the defensive coordinator of the New Orleans Saints but was fired after his unit finished last in yards allowed and 31st in points surrendered.

“His accomplishments speak for themselves. I think it adds to an already very strong staff and just makes us that much better,” Harbaugh said. “The more great coaches and great players that we can build into what we’re doing, the better we’re going to be. He’ll build into the defensive side, he’ll assist where needed, and I think we’ll build that in as we go. He can really work with any position, so it’s a big plus for us.”

Given the 53-year-old Spagnuolo’s impressive resume aside from working with an overmatched New Orleans defense a year ago, it will be interesting to see how closely he works with defensive coordinator Dean Pees and whether his longstanding relationship with Harbaugh may put him in line to be the eventual replacement for the 63-year-old.

Elam impresses early

Sunday offered the media’s first glimpse at first-round safety Matt Elam in a Ravens uniform and the University of Florida product didn’t disappoint, showing good speed and nearly picking off a pass during 11-on-11 drills.

Harbaugh even pointed to some of the leadership traits Elam exuded with the Gators that already were carrying over to the practice field in Owings Mills this weekend.

“Matt really picked things up quickly. He really did a nice job of communicating in the back end, which is not usual for a rookie,” Harbaugh said. “Most rookie defensive backs — even all defensive players — have a tough time with the communication part of it because they’re not confident enough to make the calls. He’s smart. He picked it up quickly, he jumped right back there and made the calls with force and played fast. He looked good.”

Odds & ends

Sunday featured an impressive moment for the Towson Tigers football program as quarterback Grant Enders — invited to try out this weekend — connected with wide receiver Gerrard Sheppard on the final play of Sunday’s practice. However, Enders was also the quarterback nearly picked off by Elam in 11-on-11 drills. “Enders and Sheppard looked really good in this camp,” Harbaugh said. “They are NFL-quality guys.” … Former Maryland tight end Matt Furstenburg caught a touchdown from University of Pittsburgh quarterback Tino Sunseri, who also tried out this weekend. … Second-round linebacker Arthur Brown of Kansas State showed impressive quickness dropping into coverage and blanketed running backs and tight ends running routes on a handful of plays. … Harbaugh said the Ravens are interested in bringing in another kicker who can handle punting and placekicking duties to share reps with kicker Justin Tucker and punter Sam Koch during training camp.

 

 

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Sam Koch fascinated by Harbaugh-Harbaugh matchup

Posted on 30 January 2013 by WNST Staff

PUNTER SAM KOCH

 

(on his plans for his free time in New Orleans) “I may go out to eat, but other than that, I may just hang out with our long snapper and our kicker.  Do we have a curfew?  I haven’t checked the schedule today so I don’t know if we have a curfew or not.”

 

(on how it feels to be a punter in the Super Bowl) “It feels great. There’s no better team than the Baltimore Ravens.  The team here, the camaraderie and the organization itself is first-class.  It’s just a great place to be.”

 

(on the topic of respect) “When you have guys like Ray Lewis and Joe Flacco, they deserve all of the respect that they get.  I go out there and try to earn my respect from the coaches on the field and from my teammates on Sunday.”

 

(on the irony of the fact that the lesser he plays as a punter, the better his team is usually playing) “I like to punt as much as I can, but if I’m punting, it’s usually not a good thing for our offense.  When our offense is rolling, theres a good chance that we may only have one or two punts.”

 

(on his communication with long snapper Morgan Cox) “Being together with Morgan for three years now, our communication is a lot better than what it has been.  We’re starting to understand each other, what our mechanics are and what our nuances are.  It’s working well. We’ve melded together very well this year.”

 

(on if, as a punted, he likes tackling) “I think it’s fun.  I like the physical aspect of punting and playing in the football game.   But when I’m tackling, it’s usually not a good thing.”

 

(on if he’s punted previously in Mercedes-Benz Superdome) “In 2006, we played here in a regular season game.  I didn’t really notice anything different here.  It’s pretty much like your Indianapolis, your Houston and other (domed) places like that.  The nice thing is you don’t have to worry about the wind.  You don’t have to worry about any variables outside.  You can just focus on the technique and the rhythm of your punts.”

 

(on if he has a preference for punting inside versus outside) “I think it’s fun to have an opportunity to punt inside, but there are so many more outdoor games, that I feel that I benefit playing with Baltimore and practicing in all of the situations that we practice in up there.  If you practice as a member of a dome team,

you’re not going to be able to get used to those elements like we do up in Baltimore.”

 

(on Ravens Coach John Harbaugh coaching against his brother, Jim) “I don’t see it as strange—I see it as fascinating.  The odds of having your brother over on the other sideline in a game like this have to be very small.  I think it would be great if my brother was over on the other side punting.  It would be a great feeling.”

 

(on the benefits to him of having a head coach who previously coached special teams) “Coach Harbaugh obviously understands what special teams is all about, and now being a head coach, he has to understand all of the phases.  But yet he can still put in his two cents now with our special teams, and be able to help out in that area.”

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