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War of words moves to tactics on field at Meadowlands in prime time

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War of words moves to tactics on field at Meadowlands in prime time

Posted on 12 September 2010 by Ryan Chell

Harbaugh & Rex
Monday’s night’s game between the New York Jets and the Baltimore Ravens features two playoff teams from last year, and two similar teams who have identical philosophies on offense, defense, and special teams.

Both the Ravens and the Jets are teams that are going to control the clock and pound you on defense and in the run game, even with some of the big name free agent acquisitions Baltimore and New York made in the off-season in their receiving corps.

And both teams have also partaken in the war of words this week, as the Darrelle Revis signing earlier in the week prompted Ravens FB Le’Ron McClain to say that they were glad to see him back so that “so that there wont be any excuses”, which then prompted Jets coach Rex Ryan to respond on his own, saying:

“I don’t know what’s wrong with Le’Ron,” Ryan said. “He said something about  there’s no excuses…He must have us confused with someone else.”

“We don’t make excuses. All we do is produce…and that’s what we plan on doing Monday night.”

And then there was the war of words between Ray Lewis and Rex Ryan on Thursday and Friday.

“We’re talking about the Jets like we’re talking about the Saints,” Ray Lewis said on Thursday to both the New York and Baltimore media. “Those are the only people who can be dethroned: Drew Brees and the Saints, not Mark Sanchez and the Jets.”

Lewis made sure to heed a warning to Ryan.

“The only danger is writing a check you can’t cash,” Lewis said. “That’s pressure on his players. Rex can talk all he wants to, but Rex ain’t putting on the pads.”

Rex responded as best he could.

“It sounds like we got under Ray’s nerves a bit,” Ryan responded.

But the game isn’t being played in the game of words. It’s going to be played in a smash-mouth style of play when the teams hit the gridiron on Monday.

Let’s take a look at the match ups when the Ravens and Jets offenses take the field against the opposing defenses.

1. Ravens Passing Offense vs. Jets Passing Defense. EDGE: Ravens.

Michael Oher

Normally, I would give the edge to the Jets in this department, but over the last week the Ravens added T.J. Houshmandzadeh and I think that gives them a slight edge in that department with Houshmandzadeh lining up against rookie corner Kyle Wilson.  The Jets re-signed  Revis earlier this week to a 4 year deal worth 48 million dollars, but he is not in 100% football shape whatsoever. He should still be good enough to shut down Anquan Boldin, but a quick Mason should be able to break away from Antonio Cromartie’s poor tackling prowess.

The Jets’ best pass rusher is out in Calvin Pace (broken foot), which certainly helps the Ravens’ loss of RT Jared Gaither and the injury concerns of backup Oniel Cousins. Marshal Yanda could be heading out to play tackle, and Chris Chester could be filling in for Yanda at guard. There could be some concerns on the right side, but I think overall Joe Flacco should be able to stay upright for the majority of the game.

Ravens Run Offense vs. Jets Rush Defense: Jets

McClain getting stuffed

I don’t think either team is going to be very effective at running the football against these run defenses. Much like with the Ravens, former Maryland Terp Kris Jenkins (6-4, 360) is going to command a lot of attention in the middle. When healthy, Jenkins is one of the top nose tackles in the business.The same goes for defensive end Shaun Ellis, who is a quality run stuffer as well as a decent pass rusher for the Jets.

And on top of Jenkins are inside linebackers Bart Scott and David Harris. Scott is widely known as one of the best inside backers in football, and Harris is probably one of the more underrated guys in the business.  Ray Rice, Willis McGahee and Le’Ron McClain may be fresh having seen little action in the preseason, but the Jets bring just as good a run defense as the Ravens had in years past (96.5 RPG)

Jets Passing Game vs. Ravens Pass Defense: Even
Mark Sanchez

Skill position wise, I think the Jets wide receivers are a lot better than the defensive backs the Ravens have. Braylon Edwards, while he drops a ton of balls, is a home-run threat and has had some success against the Ravens in the past as a member of the Cleveland Browns. No Santonio Holmes for the Jets as he is serving his four-game suspension for substance-abuse, so the Ravens don’t have to worry about his services.  And in reality, the two best receivers right now for the Jets may be the biggest receivers they have on the team in Jerricho Cotchery and tight end Dustin Keller.

Dustin Keller

Ravens corner backs Fabian Washington and Lardarius Webb will be coming off season-ending knee surgeries, and new corner Josh Wilson, on top of only measuring 5-8, is still getting acclimated to the defensive playbook. Dawan Landry is a thumper, but can get caught out of position at times. It will be interesting to see how Tom Zbikowski performs in a starting role in place of Ed Reed, who is listed on the PUP list. Zbikowski played well in Reed’s absence last season.

It all hangs on how well Jets QB Mark Sanchez plays in Monday’s opener. The talent is there for the Jets; Sanchez just has to get the ball to them instead of the Ravens defenders if you’re the Jets coaching staff. If the Jets are forced to abandon the run and Sanchez is forced to throw the ball more than 20x, the Ravens should win this game based on the probability that the Jets 2nd year QB will make mistakes.

Here are some of Sanchez’s notable bad performances last year-as a rookie-where he was forced to throw the ball close to 30 times a game.

New Orleans(10/4, L 24-10): 14-27, 3 INTs

Buffalo (10/29, L 16-13, 10-29, 5 INTs)

Jacksonville (11/15) Jets L 24-22, 16-30, 2 INTs

New England (11/22) Jets L 31-14, 8-21, 4 INTs

Atlanta (12/20) Jets L 10-7, 18-32, 3 INTs

In other words, if the Ravens put the ball in Sanchez’s hands, he should play right into the Ravens’ game plan.

Jets Run Offense vs. Ravens Rush Defense: Edge: Ravens

Ravens Stopping the Run

I think this one is pretty self-explanatory. No one runs on the Ravens, except some guy named Cedric Benson. A lot of people think Shonn Greene is the real deal, and he will be the featured back in Jets offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer‘s offense.

But like their QB in Sanchez, Greene also has not faced a dominant rush defense in his short NFL career as the Ravens since he has seen the bulk of the carries in New York. He has only played 17 games including the playoffs last year, and only got double-digits in carries in seven of those contests.

The Jets have two of the best offensive lineman at their respective positions in D’Brickashaw Ferguson at the left tackle spot and Nick Mangold at center. Alan Faneca is gone at the left guard spot from last year, and in his place they have youth and inexperience in the position. The favorite to start on Monday is rookie Vladimir Ducasse out of Massachusetts, and he could be the spot Ravens defensive coordinator Greg Mattison want to exploit. Haloti Ngata, Trevor Pryce, and Cory Redding should have enough weight under them to hold off the Jets offensive lineman, and the Raven linebackers will stuff Greene before he can get down the field.

The Jets had also cut longtime fullback Tony Richardson over the weekend, but brought him back several days later. He has been a bone-crushing fullback his entire career, and one of the Ravens linebackers are going to have to bust him in the backfield before he can get some speed under him to drill some holes in the Raven defense.

Special teams: Edge: Ravens

Despite the Ravens in a frenzy to find healthy kick and punt returners, I still like the Ravens specialists over the Jets. Chris Carr, David ReedTom Zbikowski, and Josh Wilson could all be candidates to return kicks. Carr may not have blazing speed, but he wont take any risks when it comes to catching and running with the football on a punt.

Jim Leonhard

For the Jets, safety Jim Leonhard is remembered by Baltimore fans for his ability to get some yards on punt returns (31 returns, 326 career return yards, 10.5 avg). For the Ravens, Billy Cundiff won the kicking job out of camp over veteran Shayne Graham based on his ability to kick the ball deep on touch backs in the preseason.  Ravens punter Sam Koch is only a hair away from being known as a Pro-Bowl caliber punter (73 punts, 43.7 avg, 26 punts inside 20).

Jets kicker Nick Folk, a former Pro-Bowl kicker in 2007, was cut by the Cowboys last season after struggling hitting the uprights (18 out of 28). And in a windy Meadowlands, a kicker who can’t find the uprights in a dome I think would have issues kicking in 30 MPH winds.

My prediction for the game: Ravens 21, Jets 17.

Which probably won’t make this guy happy.

Fireman Ed

Stay tuned to WNST and WNST.net for more Ravens News! WNST-We Never Stop Talking Baltimore Sports!

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Ravens Announce Final 53* Players to Make Roster

Posted on 04 September 2010 by Glenn Clark

The Baltimore Ravens made multiple moves today to trim their roster from 75 active players to 53.

The team announced they have placed DT Kelly Talavou (knee), OT David Hale (back), OT Stefan Rodgers (ankle and OT Ramon Harewood (knee) on Injured Reserve, ending their 2010 season. The team also moved S Ed Reed from the Active PUP list to the Reserve PUP list. LB Antwan Barnes was traded to the Philadelphia Eagles for a pick in the 2011 NFL Draft.

The team also cut an additional 15 players: TE Davon Drew, S/CB K.J. Gerard, WR Justin Harper, CB Chris Hawkins, CB Brad Jones, OL Bryan Mattison, DE/LB Albert McClellan, OT Joe Reitz, WR Eron Riley, QB Troy Smith, RB Curtis Steele, OT Devin Tyler, WR Demetrius Williams, CB Travis Fisher and K Shayne Graham.

The team actually has 54 players currently on the roster, as CB Cary Williams does not count against the roster for the first two weeks while suspended. Here is the Ravens roster:

QB’s (2)
Joe Flacco
Marc Bulger

RB’s (4)
Ray Rice
Willis McGahee
Le’Ron McClain
Jalen Parmele

TE’s (3)
Todd Heap
Ed Dickson
Dennis Pitta

WR’s (6)
Anquan Boldin
Derrick Mason
Mark Clayton
Marcus Smith
David Reed
Donte’ Stallworth* (expected to miss 8 or more weeks)

OL (8)
Michael Oher
Ben Grubbs
Matt Birk
Marshal Yanda
Jared Gaither
Chris Chester
Tony Moll
Oniel Cousins

DL (9)
Haloti Ngata
Trevor Pryce
Cory Redding
Kelly Gregg
Terrence Cody
Brandon McKinney
Arthur Jones
Lamar Divens
Paul Kruger

LB’s (9)
Ray Lewis
Terrell Suggs
Jarret Johnson
Jameel McClain
Tavares Gooden
Dannell Ellerbe
Prescott Burgess
Jason Phillips
Edgar Jones

CB’s (6*)
Fabian Washington
Chris Carr
Josh Wilson
Lardarius Webb
Prince Miller
Cary Williams* (Does not count against roster)

S’s (4)
Dawan Landry
Tom Zbikowski
Haruki Nakamura
Ken Hamlin

ST’s (3)
Sam Koch
Morgan Cox
Billy Cundiff

The Ravens can add eight players to their practice squad Sunday.

Here are Ozzie Newsome’s thoughts on the decision to cut Troy Smith and carry just two quarterbacks: “The competition to make our team was very heated, and we decided to keep a position player rather than a third quarterback. We have a number of young guys who made our team who have tremendous upside, plus they can help us win this year. We’ve gone with two quarterbacks before (last time was 2006).”

Here are John Harbaugh’s thoughts on Billy Cundiff making the team ahead of Shayne Graham: “First, congratulations to Billy. He won a great competition, and he earned this spot. We’ve talked about this the entire preseason: Both Billy and Shayne rose to the occasion and performed at high levels. We know Shayne will kick in the league, but we feel very good about the decision to go with Billy.”

-G

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Ravens Cutdown Day Notes: What We Know Thus Far

Posted on 04 September 2010 by Glenn Clark

3:15pm update: I figured we should take a look at the roster, based on what we know/assume:

(Edit from GMC: When I say “DEFINITELY”, I am saying that either based on the fact that a player was never on the bubble to begin with, or based on news we have heard today.)

There are DEFINITELY 2 QB’s on the roster (Joe Flacco, Marc Bulger)
There are DEFINITELY 4 RB’s on the roster (Ray Rice, Willis McGahee, Le’Ron McClain, Jalen Parmele)
There are DEFINITELY 5 WR’s on the roster (Anquan Boldin, Derrick Mason, Mark Clayton, David Reed, Donte’ Stallworth)
There are DEFINITELY 3 TE’s on the roster (Todd Heap, Ed Dickson, Dennis Pitta)
There are DEFINITELY 9 OL’s on the roster (Michael Oher, Jared Gaither, Matt Birk, Ben Grubbs, Marshal Yanda, Chris Chester, Oniel Cousins, Tony Moll, Ramon Harewood)
There are DEFINITELY 8 DL’s on the roster (Haloti Ngata, Kelly Gregg, Trevor Pryce, Cory Redding, Terrence Cody, Brandon McKinney, Arthur Jones, Paul Kruger)
There are DEFINITELY 6 LB’s on the roster (Ray Lewis, Terrell Suggs, Jarret Johnson, Jameel McClain, Dannell Ellerbe, Tavares Gooden)
There are DEFINITELY 4 CB’s on the roster (Fabian Washington, Chris Carr, Josh Wilson, Lardarius Webb)
There are DEFINITELY 3 S’s on the roster (Dawan Landry, Tom Zbikowski, Haruki Nakamura)
There are DEFINITELY 3 ST’s on the roster (Sam Koch, Morgan Cox, Billy Cundiff)

So as of right now, 47 of 53 roster spots are spoken for. Players on the list above could still be traded away (like Antwan Barnes was earlier today). But if not, six jobs would still be available. The bubble players who have not been accounted for include:

QB Troy Smith, WR Demetrius Williams, WR Marcus Smith, OT Joe Reitz, DT Lamar Divens, LB Prescott Burgess, LB Jason Phillips, S KJ Gerard, S Ken Hamlin.

The Ravens could also acquire other players before 6pm.

2:50pm update: A reminder that the Ravens will NOT be having formal media availability today with Ozzie Newsome or John Harbaugh. Instead, we will merely get an official release from the team at 6pm, and Harbaugh will be made available to the media again Monday.

Curtis Steele did not have any realistic chance of making the 53 man roster, but NFP confirms he indeed was cut. Like the others we mentioned below, he’s a very realistic practice squad candidate.

Oh-and Trice Capra lost 6-0, 6-0. What’s worse? CBS says she’s considering a scholarship offer from Duke. Apparently she doesn’t think there’s a future with Glenn Clark.

1:45pm update: National Football Post now reports that the Ravens have placed both OL David Hale (tailbone) and DT Kelly Talavou (ACL) on IR. Hale is not surprising at all, but Talavou is. Talavou was hurt in Thursday night’s loss to the St. Louis Rams; coach John Harbaugh declined to comment on the injury when asked by media assembled in Owings Mills Friday.

Hale’s injury likely paved the way for Ramon Harewood to make the roster. Chris Chester now defaults back to being the team’s backup center as well as the 3rd guard.

Talavou’s injury likely helped Arthur Jones make the roster. Still no word yet re: Lamar Divens; there’s an outside chance it could help him make the roster as well.

Also, RB/KR Jalen Parmele was probably never even “on the bubble”, but a NFL source tells me he’s safe. Now you know.

And one more thing-Baltimore’s Trice Capra lost the first set 6-0 to Maria Sharapova. I might start drinking early today.
————————–
It’s 1pm, and I’m overwhelmed by the amount of college football and U.S. Open tennis on TV today. That being said, there are a number of moves being made by the Baltimore Ravens today as they work towards the NFL deadline to have 53 players on their active roster. Here’s what we know thus far…

-National Football Post has reported that K Shayne Graham has been cut and K Billy Cundiff has won the kicking battle. There could be a number of factors (both football and non-football related) involved with this move. Football-wise, Cundiff had hung with Graham throughout Training Camp on field goals, and appeared to get more distance than Graham on kickoffs. Outside of football, there were some off-field concerns with Graham-and he almost certainly would have made more money than Cundiff.

-WNST.net first reported (follow us on Twitter @WNST) that rookie DT Arthur Jones had made the team. No word on other bubble players on the D-Line, including DT’s Kelly Talavou and Lamar Divens. DT Brandon McKinney was not believed to be on the bubble.

-NFP also reported earlier in the day that rookie OT Ramon Harewood had made the team. This was more than a bit surprising, but could reflect the injury issues the Ravens currently have on the O-Line. With OT Jared Gaither a question mark (back), OT Oniel Cousins (concussion) just getting back to the practice field Friday and OL David Hale (tailbone) still an IR possibility-the team may just well need the depth.

-The Ravens have announced they have traded LB Antwan Barnes to the Philadelphia Eagles for a pick in the 2011 NFL Draft. This is also surprising, as the Ravens do not have tremendous depth at OLB. This could be good news for one of the bubble guys at ILB (Jason Phillips, Prescott Burgess) or OLB bubble man Edgar Jones. It could also reflect a belief that Sergio Kindle could be able to return this season; he is currently in Charm City meeting with neurologists. NFP says Phillips and Burgess are “probably safe.”

-ProFootballTalk/NBC Sports first reported CB Travis Fisher had been cut by the Ravens; while NFP reported Prince Miller had also been cut. This likely means good news for CB KJ Gerard and could also be good news for S Ken Hamlin. The Ravens confirmed yesterday that S Ed Reed would open the season on the Physically Unable to Perform (PUP) list.

-There have been rumors floating by ESPN and others regarding the status of QB Troy Smith-rumors have included Smith could be traded or released. There have also been rumors floating surrounding WR Marcus Smith, none have been confirmed. WR David Reed has made the team according to multiple sources.

-A number of other players have also been cut. WNST confirms WR Eron Riley was cut, while NFP reported TE Davon Drew, DE/LB Albert McClellan, TE Davon Drew, CB Chris Hawkins and OT Devin Tyler were cut. None were believed to be roster possibilities, but all could be practice squad options.

I will continue to update as updates are available.

-G

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Mocking The 53: One Final Preseason 53 Man Roster

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Mocking The 53: One Final Preseason 53 Man Roster

Posted on 04 September 2010 by Glenn Clark

The preseason is over and the Baltimore Ravens face a Saturday deadline to trim their roster to 53 players.

I said this after the loss to the St. Louis Rams was over, but it bears repeating. I have AGONIZED over putting together an only somewhat educated MOCK roster. I can’t IMAGINE how Ozzie Newsome, John Harbaugh, Eric DeCosta and George Kokinis are handling it.

Here’s what I said the first time I made this list…

“Ozzie Newsome, John Harbaugh and company will at least MOSTLY keep the 53 best players on the roster, I am going to try to identify the Top 53 players on the roster myself. It ISN’T a perfect science, and some of the players will have outside circumstances that will influence where they find themselves on the list. Similarly, the Ravens will make some decisions based on health, position needs, etc.

I’m putting “best overall players”, “most significant players”, and “position relevance” into my “Top 53″ rankings. This isn’t just a list of the 53 best players on the team. This is however a list-at this moment-of the 53 players I believe are most likely to make the roster.”

Here’s my final Mock 53…

1. QB Joe Flacco
flacco
2. RB Ray Rice
3. WR Anquan Boldin
4. DT Haloti Ngata
5. LB Ray Lewis
6. OT Michael Oher
7. WR Derrick Mason
8. LB Terrell Suggs
9. LB Jarret Johnson
10. G Ben Grubbs

No changes in this group. The Ravens hope they all remain in the Top 10 this season.

11. TE Todd Heap
12. DE Trevor Pryce
pryce
13. DL Cory Redding
14. CB Fabian Washington
15. FB Le’Ron McClain
16. OL Marshal Yanda
17. C Matt Birk
18. S Dawan Landry
19. S Tom Zbikowski
20. CB Josh Wilson

Former Maryland Terrapins CB Josh Wilson joins this group, as he’ll immediately be expected to make an impact at CB and possibly on Special Teams as well. He might not start against the New York Jets on September 13, but expect him to be on the field.

21. CB Chris Carr
22. P Sam Koch
koch
23. QB Marc Bulger
24. DT Kelly Gregg
25. S Haruki Nakamura
26. CB Lardarius Webb
27. TE Ed Dickson
28. WR Mark Clayton
29. OL Chris Chester
30. RB Willis McGahee

It’s a shame only one AFC punter can make the Pro Bowl, as Shane Lechler has sorta locked down the spot in recent years. Koch looks like he might be the type of player who could put together a season worthy of a trip to Hawaii.

31. OT Jared Gaither
gaither
32. DT Terrence Cody
33. LB Jameel McClain
34. LB Dannell Ellerbe
35. LB Tavares Gooden
36. LB Antwan Barnes
37. OL Tony Moll
38. RB Jalen Parmele
39. TE Dennis Pitta
40. DE Paul Kruger

Terrence Cody and Jared Gaither have both dropped, only because neither have been on the field. At this point, we can’t really expect either to be on the field at the Meadowlands for the Monday Night Football opener. When they get healthy, expect them both to climb.

41. DT Brandon McKinney
42. LS Morgan Cox
morgancox
43. DT Kelly Talavou
44. OT Oniel Cousins
45. K Shayne Graham
46. WR Demetrius Williams
47. QB Troy Smith
48. LB Prescott Burgess
49. WR Marcus Smith
50. S/CB KJ Gerard
51. DT Arthur Jones
52. WR David Reed
53. WR Donte’ Stallworth* (Will miss first 8 weeks of season with broken foot)

I think Shayne Graham’s experience gets him on the roster, but I’m 51-49 towards him at this point over Billy Cundiff. Demetrius Williams, Marcus Smith and David Reed are all on my roster-but seven receivers seems like an awful lot. Smith or Reed would be the odd man out if necessary. I think Troy Smith makes the roster. Not because teams HAVE to keep three quarterbacks, but because I think he’s a better player than Ken Hamlin, Travis Fisher or Prince Miller (to name a few). Prescott Burgess beats out Jason Phillips and Edgar Jones, Arthur Jones beats out Lamar Divens for the final spots on the roster in my book.

54. CB Cary Williams* (Suspended for 2 weeks, does not count against roster)

(CB Domonique Foxworth-IR)
(CB Marcus Paschal-IR)
(OL Daniel Sanders-IR)
(FB Mike McLaughlin-IR)
(LB Sergio Kindle-No contract/Expected PUP)
(LB Brendon Ayanbadejo-Starting season on Reserve PUP)
(RB Matt Lawrence-Starting season on Reserve PUP)
(S Ed Reed-Starting season on Reserve PUP)

edreed

55. K Billy Cundiff
56. OL David Hale (Possible IR)
davidhale
57. CB Travis Fisher
58. CB Prince Miller
59. LB Edgar Jones
60. LB Jason Phillips
61. S Ken Hamlin
62. DT Lamar Divens
63. OT Ramon Harewood (possible IR)
64. TE Davon Drew
65. OT Joe Reitz
66. WR Justin Harper
67. DE Albert McClellan
68. WR Eron Riley
69. RB Curtis Steele
70. OT Stefan Rodgers
71. OL Bryan Mattison
72. CB Brad Jones
73. CB Chris Hawkins
74. OT Devin Tyler

Here’s a stab at the 10 man practice squad:
Prince Miller,  Jason Phillips, Davon Drew, Joe Reitz, Eron Riley, Curtis Steele, Albert McClellan, Brad Jones, Stefan Rodgers, Bryan Mattison

Thoughts? Concerns? Comments?

We’ll know how it all shakes out shortly.

-G

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Live From Owings Mills: Ravens Get One Final “Final Chance” to Leave Impression

Posted on 03 September 2010 by Glenn Clark

OWINGS MILLS, Md. — The Baltimore Ravens returned to the practice field Friday morning at 1 Winning Drive following their 27-21 defeat at the hands of the St. Louis Rams Thursday night at Edward Jones Dome. This will be the final time the Ravens will gather with 75 active players before they (and all other NFL teams) trim their roster to 53 players before tomorrow’s deadline.

For Ravens players “on the bubble”, today’s practice will have little to no bearing on their fate-but it is the last chance they have to make an impression with coach John Harbaugh and the rest of his staff.

OL David Hale (tailbone), DT Terrence Cody (knee), OT Stefan Rodgers (previous arm/shoulder, but played Thursday night), OT Jared Gaither (back), DE Paul Kruger (shoulder) and WR Donte’ Stallworth (foot) were not present during the portion of practice open to the media. WR Mark Clayton (concussion) was a late arrival and did not appear as though he would participate, TE Todd Heap did not have a helmet and did not appear as though he would participate either. Harbaugh confirmed Kruger’s injury following practice, but declined to comment on any others.

OT Oniel Cousins (concussion) returned to practice and said he was a “full” participant. He thinks he’ll be ready to go when the Ravens open the season against the New York Jets in the Meadowlands on Monday Night Football September 13.

S Ed Reed (hip/groin) remains on the Physically Unable to Perform (PUP) list. LB Sergio Kindle (head) remains unsigned.

WILSON DEBUTS: CB Josh Wilson (who was acquired Wednesday in a trade with the Seattle Seahawks) was on the practice field wearing #44. He could very likely choose a different number after cuts are made. Wilson wore #4 during his college career with the Maryland Terrapins.

Wilson has had a whirlwind week, admitting to reporters he “didn’t even know what (day) today” was. He was traded on Tuesday, but wasn’t informed until after Seahawks practice (“I’ll remember that” he said). After flying across the country with his wife Jazmin and their pet shih tzu, Wilson passed a physical Wednesday (“I got poked…picture everything you can think of”) and immediately got on the team charter to fly to St. Louis.

Wilson says reuniting with former Terps teammate Domonique Foxworth is a “true blessing” and he plans to work on studying the playbook with the injured CB.

When asked if he would want to stay in Baltimore long-term (he has one year left on his contract), Wilson responded “why not? We’re winning, I’m at home, I see guys with (Virginia) Tech tattoos-I get to talk trash with them. I love it here, why would I want to leave?

NOTES: Hear from Harbaugh, Wilson, Cousins, CB Chris Carr, K Shayne Graham and WR Demetrius Williams NOW in the BuyAToyota.com Audio Vault here at WNST.net……With the acquisition of Wilson, the Ravens could consider using him to return kicks and Carr to return punts. Wilson said “I’m gonna do whatever they need me to do. If they want me to get back there and (return) kicks, I’ll score touchdowns that way.” Carr added “whatever they want me to do, I’ll do that. Whatever I can do to help the team win.”……After Saturday’s cuts, the Ravens can assign players to their practice squad starting Sunday at 12pm. 10 players can be added to the practice squad.

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Morning Reaction 53 Man Roster

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Morning Reaction 53 Man Roster

Posted on 03 September 2010 by Glenn Clark

Drew Forrester and I put together our own 53 man mock roster Friday on “The Morning Reaction” on AM1570 WNST. Here’s a look position by position.

A reminder that we made this last based on the 53 players WE would keep if we were Ozzie Newsome and John Harbaugh. These are NOT necessarily the 53 players we believe the RAVENS will keep. Also, the roster TECHNICALLY has 54 players, as Cary Williams does not count against the roster for the first two weeks while suspended.

The players who are NOT in parenthesis are players we agreed were “slam dunk” on the roster. The players who are in parenthesis are players that were “bubble” guys or warranted some level of conversation.

The final players we cut were David Reed and Arthur Jones.

QB: (3)
Joe Flacco
Marc Bulger
(Troy Smith)

RB: (4)
Ray Rice
Willis McGahee
Le’Ron McClain
Jalen Parmele

TE: (3)
Todd Heap
Ed Dickson
Dennis Pitta

WR: (6)
Anquan Boldin
Derrick Mason
Mark Clayton
Donte’ Stallworth
(Demetrius Williams)
(Marcus Smith)

OL: (9)
Michael Oher
Jared Gaither
Matt Birk
Ben Grubbs
Marshal Yanda
Chris Chester
Tony Moll
Oniel Cousins
(David Hale)

DL: (8)
Haloti Ngata
Cory Redding
Trevor Pryce
Kelly Gregg
Terrence Cody
Paul Kruger
Brandon McKinney
(Kelly Talavou)

LB: (8)
Ray Lewis
Terrell Suggs
Jarret Johnson
Tavares Gooden
Jameel McClain
Antwan Barnes
Dannell Ellerbe
(Prescott Burgess)

CB: (4*)
Fabian Washington
Chris Carr
Josh Wilson
Lardarius Webb
Cary Williams* (makes team, but does not count against 53 man roster to start season)

S: (5)
Dawan Landry
Tom Zbikowski
Haruki Nakamura
(KJ Gerard)
(Ed Reed)

ST: (3)
Sam Koch
Morgan Cox
(Shayne Graham)

graham
(Photo courtesy of SB Nation/BaltimoreBeatdown.com)

If you want to know how we made these conclusions, you can hear our entire segment NOW in the BuyAToyota.com Audio Vault at WNST.net!

-G

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Not A Great Night in St. Louis For Ravens on Bubble

Posted on 03 September 2010 by Glenn Clark

I’m going to save my final thoughts on the Ravens’ upcoming roster cuts for Friday, but I figured I’d share some thoughts from the Baltimore Ravens’ 27-21 loss to the St. Louis Rams Thursday night before I did.

Plenty of jobs were considered to be “on the line” Thursday night, but not a whole lot of them appeared to be locked up by those on the Ravens’ bubble. I’m only going to consider the players that were at least CLOSE to the bubble coming in. With no offense to the likes of Curtis Steele and Chris Hawkins, they’re not really even worth discussing.

Looking position by position at the performance of different players…

Troy Smith, QB: Troy’s numbers were as poor as his decision making at times. He finished 18-38 for 237 yards and 2 picks. He also ran for a pair of scores. If we’re being fair, the O-Line Troy played in front of was unthinkably bad and Cam Cameron didn’t really experiment too much with play-calling.
Davon Drew, TE: Drew finished the game with 2 catches for 23 yards, but was probably too far off the bubble for anything he did to matter all that much.
Demetrius Williams, WR: Williams made two grabs for 38 yards, one of which his size made a difference for. With Donte’ Stallworth hurt, I felt like Williams was much safer on the bubble-but he gave a solid performance especially considering his ankle injury.
Marcus Smith, WR: He was targeted twice but didn’t come down with a catch. He’s had a solid preseason, but nothing happened Thursday night to help him clinch a spot on the roster.
David Reed, WR: Reed had a very good night Thursday. He made three catches for 65 yards and averaged 34.5 yards on four kick returns. There might not be a kick return job available, but his versatility could help him make the roster.
Ramon Haredwood, OT and Joe Reitz, OT:  I’m going to try to be fair to both of these guys here. The entire offensive line was terrible Thursday night, and all were playing out of position. The injuries to Jared Gaither, Oniel Cousins and David Hale may force the Ravens to keep an extra O-Lineman, but nothing they saw Thursday night will help them make that decision. Harewood was awful and made bad decisions to boot. Reitz played out of position and looked lost at times.
Brandon McKinney, DT: When he was on the field, McKinney looked to be in the right place. If he really was on the bubble he probably isn’t any more.
Kelly Talavou, DT: The entire first unit on the field struggled, and the D-Line didn’t help to get in the backfield and pressure Sam Bradford. That being said, they weren’t particularly gauged up the middle either. Talavou is probably safe on the roster.
Arthur Jones, DT and Lamar Divens, DT: Neither Jones not Divens were particularly bad Thursday night, but if either were on a particular side of the bubble before the game they probably stayed there.
Jason Phillips, LB and Prescott Burgess, LB: Jason Phillips finished the game with a team high 9 tackles. Unfortunately, what stuck out from his performance was his complete inability to cover the pass. I doubt anyone stood to benefit more from Phillips’ performance than Burgess-who played sparingly but whose experience may be enough to get him on the roster.
Edgar Jones, OLB: It looked like Edgar Jones played with a real sense of urgency Thursday night. His 3 tackles included a sack and another TFL. I’m not sure Jones can be counted on as a pass rusher, but his versatility could be enough for John Harbaugh and Greg Mattison to choose to keep him around.
Travis Fisher, CB and Prince Miller, CB: It’s hard to figure out who was bad here and who was worse. Neither looks like a realistic option to be a NFL CB at the moment, and Miller compounded the issue by muffing a punt-which nearly lead to a Rams touchdown.
Ken Hamlin, S and KJ Gerard, S: Neither player really made much of a positive impact Thursday night, but that was a common theme. Gerard did end up recovering Prince Miller’s muff in the endzone, but I don’t think that will make much of a difference. If Ed Reed is healthy to start the season (that’s a big “if”), I don’t think either will end up on the roster.
Shayne Graham, K and Billy Cundiff, K: No field goal attempts, but the duo combined to make all 3 extra point attempts. Cundiff was a little bit better on kickoffs, which could end up helping him.

I’m agonizing over a MOCK roster. I can’t imagine what’s going on in the minds of Harbaugh, Ozzie Newsome, Eric DeCosta and George Kokinis right now.

It should be an interesting weekend-or at least much more interesting than the football game Thursday night.

-G

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Purple Haze Chat 8pm Tonight!

Posted on 02 September 2010 by Glenn Clark

It might not look like NFL football, but technically it will be. The Baltimore Ravens visit the St. Louis Rams tonight at Edward Jones Dome, kickoff is at 8pm. We chose to pass on the St. Louis trip, mostly because the Ravens are going to choose to pass on playing the majority of their starters in tonight’s game.

With that being said, the game can be seen tonight on WBAL11, and I will be following along from my couch in Rosedale. Other WNST and WNST.net personalities will be joining me in tonight’s “Purple Haze” chat, which begins at 8pm and you can join HERE. I’m sure there will be Orioles discussion, as well as college football and U.S. Open talk-at least if I have my way.

Troy Smith is expected to start at QB for the Ravens and play all four quarters. The Rams are expected to start rookie QB Sam Bradford and have their starters in the game for about 15 snaps. Smith is one of many Ravens players fighting for a roster spot as Saturday’s deadline for NFL teams to get to 53 players looms. Other players squarely on the bubble include WR’s Demetrius Williams, David Reed and Marcus Smith, TE Davon Drew, OL David Hale, OT’s Ramon Harewood and Joe Reitz, DT’s Kelly Talavou, Arthur Jones and Lamar Divens; LB’s Jason Phillips, Edgar Jones and Prescott Burgess; CB’s Travis Fisher and Prince Miller and S’s Ken Hamlin and KJ Gerard. Kickers Billy Cundiff and Shayne Graham are still in a heated battle for a roster spot as well.

The Rams have announced that the following players will be deactivated tonight:

QB AJ Feeley
RB Steven Jackson
WR Laurent Robinson
DE James Hall
LB Na’il Diggs
S James Butler

The Rams have announced that Kenneth Darby will start for Jackson, Keenan Burton will start for Robinson, David Vobora for Diggs. Danny Amendola will start for Donnie Avery, who the team placed on IR earlier in the week.

The Ravens have announced (via the Twitter account of their own Mike Duffy) that there will not be any inactives announced tonight. However, it is safe to expect that almost all starters as well as other injured players will not play tonight.

Look forward to chatting with you at 8pm!

-G

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Mocking The 53: A Look at Ravens Roster With One Preseason Game Left

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Mocking The 53: A Look at Ravens Roster With One Preseason Game Left

Posted on 31 August 2010 by Glenn Clark

Following a convincing win over the New York Giants Saturday night at M&T Bank Stadium, the Baltimore Ravens have just one more preseason contest to solve the final spots on their 53 man roster.

They’ll play the St. Louis Rams Thursday night at Edward Jones Dome, and a number of players will be hoping it isn’t the final time they don the purple  & black. The team will be forced to trim the roster to 53 players this Saturday.

There have been a few changes to the roster since my last “Mocking the 53″ update; with CB Doug Dutch cut and both OL Daniel Sanders and CB Marcus Paschal placed on IR. I am also going to move Cary Williams OFF the 53 (he will receive an asterisk following the 53) since he will be roster exempt during the two weeks he’s suspended. He’s on the roster, but the cuts Saturday won’t reflect that. Finally, Donte’ Stallworth moves back to the 53rd spot on the roster. He’s not the 53rd best player on the team, but since he can’t participate I won’t continue to lift him.

As a reminder of my overall philosophy in selecting these players, here is the explanation I posted before my initial mock roster…

“Ozzie Newsome, John Harbaugh and company will at least MOSTLY keep the 53 best players on the roster, I am going to try to identify the Top 53 players on the roster myself. It ISN’T a perfect science, and some of the players will have outside circumstances that will influence where they find themselves on the list. Similarly, the Ravens will make some decisions based on health, position needs, etc.

I’m putting “best overall players”, “most significant players”, and “position relevance” into my “Top 53″ rankings. This isn’t just a list of the 53 best players on the team. This is however a list-at this moment-of the 53 players I believe are most likely to make the roster.”

With that in mind, here’s how I see the Top 53 shaping up…

(Thanks to The Sun and BaltimoreRavens.com for photos.)

1. QB Joe Flacco
2. RB Ray Rice
3. WR Anquan Boldin
4. DT Haloti Ngata
5. LB Ray Lewis
6. OT Michael Oher
7. WR Derrick Mason
8. LB Terrell Suggs
9. LB Jarret Johnson
10. G Ben Grubbs
grubbs

Only a few small changes to the Top 10, as I dropped Michael Oher a couple of spots. The 2nd year tackle from Ole Miss is still VERY important to this football team, and I wouldn’t be stunned at all if his 2nd season ended in a trip to Hawaii for the Pro Bowl. But he HAS struggled during the preseason, and this is simply a reflection of that. Otherwise, the top players on the team remain exactly the same.

11. TE Todd Heap
12. DE Trevor Pryce
13. DL Cory Redding
14. CB Fabian Washington
15. FB Le’Ron McClain
16. OL Marshal Yanda
17. C Matt Birk
birk
18. S Dawan Landry
19. DT Terrence Cody
20. S Tom Zbikowski

Just a couple of tweeks in this group as well. Todd Heap moves up a couple spots after his sensational performance Saturday night against the G-Men. On the flip side, Terrence Cody falls a few spots due to the knee injury that forced him to miss Saturday night and has forced him to miss about a week’s worth of practice. I still think “Mount Cody” is going to end up being VERY good, but he hasn’t been very good recently.

21. CB Chris Carr
22. P Sam Koch
23. QB Marc Bulger
24. DT Kelly Gregg
gregg
25. S Haruki Nakamura
26. CB Lardarius Webb
27. TE Ed Dickson
28. WR Mark Clayton
29. OL Chris Chester
30. OT Jared Gaither

A few movers in this group as well, including a significant move from Sam Koch. He’s looking like a real weapon for this team. His performance against the Washington Redskins would have garnered him AFC Special Teams Player of the Week honors if it had happened during the regular season, and he was exceptional again Saturday night against the Giants. He’s been very impressive to watch both during Training Camp practices at McDaniel College in Westminster and in practices since then at 1 Winning Drive in Owings Mills.

Jared Gaither falls a few spots as he continues to battle a back injury. At this point, it’s hard to imagine he’ll be on the field when the Ravens play the New York Jets Sept. 13 in East Rutherford to open the season. Kelly Gregg moves up a few spots, as his value to the team is heightened with Terrence Cody hurt.

31. RB Willis McGahee
32. LB Jameel McClain
33. LB Dannell Ellerbe
34. LB Tavares Gooden
35. LB Antwan Barnes
36. OL Tony Moll
moll
37. RB Jalen Parmele
38. TE Dennis Pitta
39. DE Paul Kruger
40. DT Brandon McKinney

And after the first 30 players on the roster, EVERYTHING IS TOUGH TO FIGURE OUT! Players 31-40 on this list will all make the roster, but they’ll likely fluctuate position as the season goes on.

In the never-ending saga of “As the JACK LB Turns”, the JACK LB position is turning. Sorta. Harbs said Monday that analysts shouldn’t look too much into the fact that Jameel McClain has started all three preseason games, as all three backers are likely to play roughly the same number of snaps. To some extent, I believe him. In three linebackers, the Ravens have about one complete linebacker. If only they could figure out a way to mold the three together. McClain stays ahead of the others due to the fact that he HAS been starting, but the separation he found from the others early in camp is pretty much non-existent at this point.

Tony Moll and Jalen Parmele are also risers in this group. Parmele because his job as kick returner solidifies his level of importance to the team. Moll because with Gaither and Cousins sidelined, he’s stepped in and held down the RT position admirably. In fact, he’s likely moved ahead of Cousins on the depth chart regardless of health. Should Gaither not be able to go on Monday Night Football to open the season, I would expect Moll to start regardless of health.

41. LS Morgan Cox
42. DT Kelly Talavou
43. OT Oniel Cousins
44. QB Troy Smith
45. CB Travis Fisher
46. S Ken Hamlin
47. K Shayne Graham
48. OL David Hale
49. WR Demetrius Williams
50. WR Marcus Smith
marcussmith
51. LB Jason Phillips
52. CB Prince Miller
53. WR Donte’ Stallworth*

Somewhere in this group my confidence level starts to decline a bit. I’m just not exactly sure where it is. Here’s what we know from 41-53.

At 41, Morgan Cox is the Long Snapper, he’s on the team.
At 42, Kelly Talavou appears to be ahead of Arthur Jones and Lamar Divens and comfortably on the roster. He made the roster last year, and the team has maintained faith in him.
At 43, Oniel Cousins is absolutely making the roster as long as he’s healthy. It seems as though he will be-but that’s no guarantee.
At 44, Troy Smith is the team’s 3rd quarterback. The only way he’d not be part of the 53 is if the team were to suddenly find a trade partner or decide for some reason that they don’t need to keep a 3rd quarterback. I find both to be unlikely.
At 45, Travis Fisher is on the team for now. I get the feeling that might not be the case when Cary Williams comes back.
At 46, Ken Hamlin looks like he’s safe until Ed Reed comes back. Of course, there’s a chance that will happen sooner than we thought.
At 47, I still believe Shayne Graham will win the kicking competition. However, I’ve moved him back significantly because there’s almost no difference between he and Billy Cundiff right now. If Cundiff wins, I can’t be surprised anymore. The organization had privately given the job to Graham weeks ago, but there are some factors that might have that job slipping from his grasp.
At 48, David Hale seems safe as long as he’s healthy. That’s a real question mark right now as he battles a tailbone injury. Hale had played well in Camp, and it looked like his improvement had been significant over 12 months.
At 49, Demetrius Williams moves back on the roster. The Ravens will likely want to keep a 4th receiver active with Stallworth hurt, and Williams has more experience than the others on the roster. His size also separates him from the others.
At 50, Marcus Smith is an outstanding Special Teams player. Given some of the players Jerry Rosburg’s unit is missing (including Brendon Ayanbadejo), his inclusion in the Final 53 would make almost too much sense.
At 51, I’m keeping Jason Phillips on the roster for now. Some would argue Prescott Burgess should have his spot, and he’ll have the chance to move ahead.
At 52, Donte’ Stallworth’s injury helps Prince Miller a lot. With Tom Zbikowski starting and Mark Clayton now a slot receiver (who is hurt), it is fair to expect Miller get the bulk of action at punt return this week. That could be enough to lock down a job.
At 53, Donte’ Stallworth holds a roster spot.

54. CB Cary Williams*
carywilliams
(CB Domonique Foxworth-IR)
(CB Marcus Paschal-IR)
(OL Daniel Sanders-IR)
(S Ed Reed-Potential PUP)
(LB Sergio Kindle-Expected PUP)
(LB Brendon Ayanbadejo-Starting season on Reserve PUP)
(RB Matt Lawrence-Starting season on Reserve PUP)

With Ed Reed now hanging around the facility in Owings Mills, those rumblings that he’ll avoid the PUP list will get louder. With Ed, it’s hard to ever really know. Otherwise, we can be sure Brendon Ayanbadejo will start the season on PUP-and it’s safe to assume that Matt Lawrence will be PUP at best.

55. K Billy Cundiff
56. LB Prescott Burgess
57. WR David Reed
58. LB Edgar Jones
59. DT Arthur Jones
jones
60. DT Lamar Divens
61. OT Ramon Harewood
62. S/CB KJ Gerard
63. TE Davon Drew
64. OT Joe Reitz

Everyone between 55-64 has at least a CHANCE to make the final 53.

At 55, Billy Cundiff is neck and neck with Shayne Graham in the kicking competition. One of them will win.
At 56, Prescott Burgess can win a spot on the roster over the next week. His abilities on Special Teams will help him.
At 57, David Reed has played well recently-but hasn’t been outstanding for all of Camp. He’s not far from the roster, but the next week will be crucial for him.
At 58, Edgar Jones has plenty of versatility-but he hasn’t shown himself to be an exceptional OLB. Despite Sergio Kindle’s injury, he doesn’t look like he’s quite made the team yet.
At 59, Arthur Jones has a ton of upside. He also finds himself the victim of a numbers game. The Ravens might be concerned about exposing him, but it seems like he’s better suited for the practice squad.
At 60, Lamar Divens is in a very similar situation as Arthur Jones. The Ravens would hate to give up on a player that “looks like a Raven” the way Divens does, but he might not fit on the roster right now.
At 61, Ramon Harewood still looks like a very qualified candidate for IR given his knee issue just after the NFL Draft. Injuries to Gaither and Cousins could make him a roster option.
At 62, KJ Gerard has REALLY been hurt by not being on the field for stretches this preseason. The Ravens need secondary help, and he could provide it if he could stay healthy. This is a big week for him.
At 63, Davon Drew has played really well this summer. Unfortunately, there just doesn’t appear to be room for a 4th Tight End on the roster.
At 64, Joe Reitz could end up making the roster given the same injuries to Gaither and Cousins. But if I was a betting man, my money wouldn’t be on him.

65. WR Justin Harper
66. FB Mike McLaughlin
67. WR Eron Riley
riley
68. DE Albert McClellan
69. RB Curtis Steele
70. OL Bryan Mattison
71. OT Stefan Rodgers
72. CB Brad Jones
73. CB Chris Hawkins
74. OT Devin Tyler

Harper and Riley really offer something to a practice squad given their size. When the Ravens are forced to go up against taller receivers, it will help to have taller receivers to match up against in practice. Others on this list look like solid practice squad options as well-of which Curtis Steele could be one of them.

Questions? Concerns? Song requests? Let me know. I’ll post my final Mocking The 53 Friday.

-G

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Live From Owings Mills: Fabian Washington Battling Bruised Ribs, Team Makes Roster Moves

Posted on 30 August 2010 by Glenn Clark

OWINGS MILLS, Md. — The Baltimore Ravens returned to the practice field Monday morning at 1 Winning Drive following their 24-10 win over the New York Giants Saturday night at M&T Bank Stadium.

Unfortunately, not all Ravens were on the practice field during the portion of the session open to media.

CB Fabian Washington was a new addition to the list of players not present, with no known new injury. Washington returned from a torn ACL early in Training Camp, but hadn’t missed a practice in recent weeks. Via his Twitter account, Washington said “Good morning world. Another day to get better” shortly before practice began. Coach John Harbaugh told the media Washington missed practice with bruised ribs, and that the team just wanted to get him some rest.

Other Ravens not participating during the portion of practice open to the media included WR Donte’ Stallworth (broken foot-likely to miss at least 8 weeks), CB Marcus Paschal (quad), FB Mike McLaughlin (hip flexor), OL David Hale (concussion), DT Terrence Cody (knee), OT Oniel Cousins (concussion), OL Daniel Sanders (shoulder), OT Jared Gaither (back), WR Mark Clayton (concussion). Cousins was on the field in a helmet-but was wearing shorts. CB Doug Dutch was also not present with no known injury, and it was later confirmed that he had been cut.

The Ravens (and all other NFL teams) had to get down to 75 players before Tuesday’s deadline. Harbaugh said the team would get down to 75 with a “couple other injury settlement things.” Late Monday afternoon they did just that, placing Sanders and Paschal on IR.

WR Eron Riley (back), S/CB KJ Gerard (hamstring) and WR Demetrius Williams (ankle) all returned to practice Monday. S Ed Reed (hip/groin), RB Matt Lawrence (knee) and LB Brendon Ayanbadejo remain on the Physically Unable to Perform (PUP) list. LB Sergio Kindle (head) remains unsigned.

With Reed, Lawrence and Ayanbadejo not currently counting against the roster, the team is now below the 75 man limit.

HARBAUGH HONORED: Harbaugh was honored Monday by members of the U.S. Navy; as he was presented with a Cannon Shell from the U.S.S. Constitution and a flag from the U.S.S. Maryland. The Navy decided to honor Harbaugh for the commitments made to the military by the entire organization, including their annual Training Camp “Military Appreciation Day” and an upcoming military partnership they have with Under Armour.

Harbaugh was touched by the gesture and spoke on behalf of the organization, saying “we just feel so strongly about the U.S. Military.”

KICKERS STILL DEADLOCKED: When asked about the status of the kicking competition between Shayne Graham and Billy Cundiff, Harbaugh responded “we don’t know yet.” He went on to add that the team likely wouldn’t make a decision until the “very last minute.”

Even Graham admitted he didn’t think there “was any unbalancing of the scales” in the competition when he met with reporters. He added that “a decision either way would be justifiable.”

Thus far in the preseason, Graham has made two of his three field goal attempts while Cundiff has connected all three of his attempts.

NOTES: When asked about CB Lardarius Webb’s status (knee) for Thursday night’s preseason finale at the Edward Jones Dome, Harbaugh said “I don’t anticipate him playing in this game.”……Reed made an appearance in the locker room Monday, but declined the opportunity to talk to reporters when approached……Hear from Harbaugh, Graham, Clayton, Webb and DL Lamar Divens NOW in the BuyAToyota.com Audio Vault right here at WNST.net……WR Marcus Smith will join Drew Forrester on “The Morning Reaction” on AM1570 WNST Tuesday at 6:45am……The Ravens will have just one more practice open to the media this week before their Thursday night game in St. Louis against the Rams. They will practice tomorrow morning, Wednesday’s walkthrough will be closed to the media.

-G

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