Tag Archive | "The Afternoon Drive"

Ravens TE Ed Dickson: “You are definitely going to see me out there Friday night”

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Ravens TE Ed Dickson: “You are definitely going to see me out there Friday night”

Posted on 19 August 2011 by Ryan Chell

Ravens tight end Ed Dickson lost out on a lot in the last week-more than what you would think.

Not only did he lose playing time  in Baltimore’s Week 1 preseason loss to the Eagles 13-6 last Thursday due to an injury, but days later he lost his number #83-albeit giving it up willingly-to the recently acquired WR, Lee Evans of the Buffalo Bills who wore the number for nine years.

However, he told Glenn Clark on WNST this week that he could not have given it up to not only a better football player, but a stand-up guy.

“Lee Evans came in, and he’s kind of a soft-spoken guy,” Dickson said. “But he’s a real great individual. He came to me and took it to me-just as classy as anyone can take it and asked me if I was interested in changing numbers.”

Evans was acquired by the Ravens for a fourth-round pick less than 24 hours after the preseason game versus the Eagles-a game Dickson missed due to a hamstring injury, but it took time for Dickson to give up a number he wanted to have as a Raven for the long-term.

“I’m telling you it was really hard,” Dickson said. “I was that number my whole time in college, and I wanted to keep that number. But at the same time, I understand how it feels to him and I wanted to be a great teammate and help him out.”

Dickson will now wear #84-a number he wore in high school. And on top of that, he guaranteed that you’ll see him in uniform with it on versus the Kansas City Chiefs in the home preseason opener at M&T Bank Stadium tonight.

“You are definitely going to see me out there Friday night,” Dickson said,” competing and seeing the Ravens offense a little better than they were last week and I’m going to be out there trying to get a victory.”

Dickson-who was drafted by the Ravens in the 3rd-round of the 2010 NFL Draft out of Oregon-was projected to be the starter going into this season after the release of two-time Pro Bowler Todd Heap, who spent a decade in a Baltimore uniform.

Ed Dickson

That was a moment this off-season when Dickson felt a vote of confidence coming his way.

“I thrive off those moments,” Dickson noted to Clark.

And despite his fellow 2010 draftee Dennis Pitta making several big plays in his stead last week, Dickson said both he and his fellow teammate think alike.

“Speaking on Dennis’ behalf, we thrive for those moments,” Dickson said.

Dickson said both he and Pitta have nobody in the world to thank but Todd Heap for his guidance in their rookie years.

“He was a great mentor,” said Dickson. “He did a great job of teaching us, and not basically forcing info on us.”

An outside critic would look at Heap’s departure and say that Dickson should be upset by Pitta gunning for his snaps and vice versa, but Dickson doesn’t feel that way at all.

“Man, I was proud to be  tight end,” Dickson laughed. “Dennis is like my brother, so I was one of the first people that came up to him and congratulated him on that catch. [I told him] to stay in the game, make a lot of catches, and I knew he had it in him.”

The only thing missing Dickson said?

Making it a tag-team effort.

“We didn’t have a chance to showcase it-both of us,” Dickson said.

And Dickson knows his value going forward and the benefit he has of being in an offense ran by Cam Cameron that loves to utilize the tight end.

“I really love his offense,” Dickson said,” because he really gets the tight ends and other players involved. I wanted to learn and grow in his offense…so I’m real excited to get him back and he really is a great offensive coordinator.”

Tune into WNST Friday afternoon to hear myself, @RyanChell87, and @GlennClarkWNST take you up to kickoff and give you post-game reaction on “The Nasty Purple Pre-Post Game Show” Tune in @WNST!

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Glenn Clark’s first day on the job? He ranks the NFL’s QBs

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Glenn Clark’s first day on the job? He ranks the NFL’s QBs

Posted on 18 August 2011 by Ryan Chell

1. Tom Brady

Tom Brady

2. Peyton Manning

Peyton Manning

3. Aaron Rodgers

Aaron Rodgers

4. Ben Roethlisberger

Ben Roethlisberger

5. Drew Brees

Drew Brees

6. Philip Rivers

Philip Rivers

7. Eli Manning

Eli Manning

8. Michael Vick

Michael Vick

9. Matt Ryan

Matt Ryan

10. Joe Flacco

Joe Flacco

11. Matt Schaub

12. Tony Romo

13. Sam Bradford

14. Josh Freeman

15. Mark Sanchez

16. Jay Cutler

Jay Cutler

17. Donovan McNabb

18. Matt Cassel

19. Kyle Orton

20. Kevin Kolb

21. Matt Stafford

22. Matt Hasselbeck

Matt Hasselbeck

23. David Garrard

24. Cam Newton

25. Ryan Fitzpatrick

26. Jason Campbell

27. Alex Smith

28. Chad Henne

Chad Henne

29. Tavaris Jackson

30. Colt McCoy

31. Andy Dalton

32. John Beck/Rex Grossman

John Beck

Agree or disagree with Glenn and I? Give us a call 410-481-1570 during the 3 and 4PM hours, tweet us @GlennClarkWNST, @RyanChell87, or @WNST! Email us ryan@wnst.net or glenn@wnst.net!

You can now hear the explanations for these selections in three different segments at the BuyaToyota.com Audio Vault!

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My Top 10 Sports Illustrated Covers

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My Top 10 Sports Illustrated Covers

Posted on 10 August 2011 by Ryan Chell

It was a spirited discussion on “The Afternoon Drive” with Rex Snider today about our “Top 10 Sports Illustrated Covers”, and while I could have easily thrown in 10 Swimsuit Issue covers or iconic moments from sports throughout the years, I decided to stick close to home with my SI Covers.

Like my choices? Think I missed something? Tweet me @RyanChell87 on Twitter, comment below, or give us a call Friday 410-481-1570! Would love to hear from you…

David Tyree

10. David Tyree catch (Feb 11, 2008)-Not only one of the best-if not the best catch in NFL history, but a heck of a shot by SI’s photographer. And a future Raven-albeit for a short while-on a national cover ain’t bad.

Ben McDonald

9. “Rare Birds”-Mike Mussina/Ben McDonald (July 18, 1994)-Mike Mussina was my favorite Oriole growing up. I copied his wind-up out in the backyard playing baseball when he would check the runner at first-base by leaning over and looking through his legs. And to have the two polar opposites-the stern Mussina and the happy-go-lucky Ben McDonald on the same cover, it was a great pairing of the two on SI.

Cal Ripken

8. Cal Ripken Jr-”Chillin’ with Cal” (Aug 7th 1995)-Another great shot, and Cal showed up on Sports Illustrated several times in his career. On top of getting a good look at a down-to-earth player like Cal, but to see him with hair ( a lot on his chest too), it was great to see Cal in a light-hearted environment of a swimming pool.

Ray Lewis Nov 13 2006

7. Ray Lewis-”God’s Linebacker” (November 13, 2006)-Ravens fans know about Ray’s transgressions and his involvement in the murder trial in Atlanta at the early part of the decade. It was one of the stains on a great career of a Hall of Fame linebacker, and that blemish steered a lot of people and endorsements away from Ray. One example was Disney -who chose quarterback Trent Dilfer to do their iconic “I’m Going to Disneyworld” commercial post-game after Super Bowl XXV as opposed to the Super Bowl MVP in Ray Lewis. But this issue of Sports Illustrated was a big kick  towards putting the past where it belongs…in the past. A very forgiving gesture on the part of SI…

John Unitas

6. Johnny Unitas-”Play Now, Pay Later (May 7, 2001)-This article, and its cover photo-touched me deeply. On top of the fact that we lost Johnny U a year later-on on the one-year anniversary of September 11th, we learned from this article about the pains that Johnny Unitas was going through because of the hits he took during his career fighting to get Baltimore a win. He could barely hold a pen to give an autograph, but that wouldn’t stop Unitas from giving you one if you asked.

The Greatest Game Ever Played

5. -Johnny Unitas-”The Best Game Ever” (April 28, 2008)-Johnny Unitas’ crowning achievement in his career-the 1958 NFL Championship Game between the New York Giants and the Baltimore Colts. Enough said-and no better shot of Johnny Unitas. I saved this particular issue of Sports Illustrated and have it in a safe spot in my desk drawer.

Matt Wieters

4. Matt Wieters-”The Catch”-(March 15, 2010)-Another Sports Illustrated cover that I have saved. Not a lot of players from perennial losing teams make the cover of Sports Illustrated. Matt Wieters did. I don’t care what people say-Matt Wieters will be a star. He made the All-Star team this year because he deserved it, not because he was the only Oriole worthy of doing so. Great picture of Wieters, and I can’t wait till his game matures enough that this issue of Sports Illustrated is thought of more seriously not just in Baltimore, but across the nation. Maybe he’ll make another cover issue.

Len Bias

3. Len Bias-”Death of a Dream” (June 30, 1986)-Numerous people said it. If Len Bias would have made it to the Boston Celtics and played in the NBA, he would have been just as good-if not better-than Michael Jordan. That of course would have meant that Bias would have beaten out Jordan for most SI cover appearances, which Jordan has the achievement of doing a record 49 times.

Sadly, that never came to fruition due to Bias’ tragic passing after experimental cocaine use. He certainly left his mark on the University of Maryland and on the sports world, and it was a shame we didn’t get to see Len Bias on more SI covers.

Juan Dixon

2. Juan Dixon-”Mighty Maryland”-(April 8, 2002)-WNST’s own Glenn Clark might say this is worthy of #1, but it doesn’t trump my winner. But, Maryland’s run to its only national title in men’s basketball and to be thrust on the front stage and the front pages of Sports Illustrated is quite the honor. Hopefully Mark Turgeon gets Maryland back to this level yet again.

Ray Lewis

1. Ray Lewis, “Special Commemorative Issue-SB XXXV”-There were a lot of issues that had the Ravens on the front pages of SI during their Super Bowl run in 2000-2001, but I chose this one because it wrapped up and completed the run. And to have the Super Bowl MVP, Ray Lewis, on its cover-the leader of that defense-you can’t go wrong here. And to keep the trend of my future hopes for SI Covers, hopefully the Ravens do it all again and send Ray Lewis out on top with another championship issue.

Be sure to follow me on Twitter at RyanChell87 and listen to me on “The Afternoon Drive” with Rex Snider! Check out Rex’s list here and keep tabs on us as we prepare for Ravens season! WNST-We Never Stop Talking Baltimore Sports!

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LB Brendon Ayanbajedo on new DC Chuck Pagano: “Chuck’s the kind of guy who wants to punch you in the mouth”

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LB Brendon Ayanbajedo on new DC Chuck Pagano: “Chuck’s the kind of guy who wants to punch you in the mouth”

Posted on 09 August 2011 by Ryan Chell

Over the weekend, the Ravens saw veteran WR Derrick Mason take his talents up 1-95 to New York to join longtime Ravens defensive coordinator Rex Ryan and the New York Jets.

Several ex-Ravens have made the trip up to the Big Apple to follow in the footsteps of Coach Ryan, but several of the current defensive players here in Baltimore are putting a lot of faith in their newest defensive coordinator, Chuck Pagano, who is succeeding Greg Mattison after Mattison left to become DC at the University of Michigan.

Chuck Pagano

And Pagano-in his first several interactions with the media as defensive coordinator-is emphasizing the fact that he has just as much faith in his players to make plays as they have in him to draw them up.

“We’ve got some great guys,” Pagano said. “They’re passionate about football. They were really eager to get back in here and go to work after the long layoff, and the energy level’s great. They’re flying around having fun, and that’s all we can ask for.”

It will be on Pagano to try and re-direct a defense that finished 10th last year in the league in YPG (318.9) while keeping the respectable 4th-overall in PPG (16.9).

Baltimore finished 21th best in the league last year in passing yards allowed while focusing on the stopping the run will hopefully still be a tendency (5th best in the NFL).

Already, Pagano is getting comparisons to Rex Ryan when he was running the Ravens defense because Pagano comes with that same tenacity as Ryan did-while at the same time being loved and respected by the players.

“He’s a little more toward Rex’s style being emotional while Coach Mattison already kept a level head,” linebacker Jarret Johnson said at the podium last weekend. “Rex would get pissed off and bring the house, and I think [Coach Pagano] might be somewhere in between with his coaching knowledge…but the ability to relate to him, it’s awesome.”

“Everyone loves Chuck,” CB Lardarius Webb told Glenn Clark on “The Afternoon Drive” last week. “Chuck’s so smart, and he knows how to interact with the players. Everybody likes him. I can’t find a player who doesn’t like Chuck.”

Greg Mattison took a lot of heat last year for conservative play calls in key situations, and to some-including several Raven players-it didn’t seem like the Baltimore defense other teams were used to seeing on a weekly basis.

Webb thinks Coach Pagano is going to make people forget about the team’s struggles from a year ago and get back in key with what Rex Ryan had in store with this defense when he last left in 2008.

“I’ve seen a lot of defensive coordinators,” Webb said, “but all the ones for the Ravens always try to attack. That’s what we do, and if we’re not doing that, we’re not playing like the Ravens.”

Pagano agreed.

“When people put on our tape, it needs to look like we’ve got thirteen, fourteen, or fifteen guys out there. We need a smart football team…one that doesn’t beat itself, and plays with great fundamentals,” Pagano noted. “We expect to go out there and shut people out and play great defense.”

Johnson has noticed the changes already and is favor of them 100 percent.

“Overall with scheme, you can see his influence but he’s very aggressive. I really like his mentality and it’s been really great so far.”

Linebacker Brendon Ayanbadejo said that in his opportunities with the first-team defense in training camp, he already sees Coach Pagano’s new aggressive style and tendencies.

“Chuck’s never scared,” Ayanbadejo said. “Chuck’s the kind of guy who wants to punch you in the mouth.”

Safety Haruki Nakamura-who probably knows Pagano the best out of anybody-agreed with his fellow defender about his boss.

“Chuck’s personality speaks for itself,” Nakamura said. “He acts like the good guy, but he has that dark side when coaching the defense.”

Ayanbadejo said that despite the fact that Pagano served as the secondary coach the last several years, Pagano made sure to forge relationships with everyone on the defense even outside his position guys.

Ayanbadejo said that can only help Pagano get the best out of them.

“We’ve been dealing with Chuck for four years now on all different levels.”

“He’s got a special relationship with every single guy,” he said. “You can go up to Chuck and talk to him because he started out as a position guy, and he wasn’t in this bubble.”

Pagano said the players have made the promotion that much easier on him and shown him that level of respect right back.

“I’ve known the guys, and they know me,” Pagano said. “They know my personality, and I know their personality. It was an easy transition.”

And we’ll get to see Pagano at work for the first time Thursday up in Philadelphia in Week 1 of the preseason.

“What we’re looking for is good communication, lining up and making the checks,” Pagano said Monday. “It’s all about being on the same page…so coming out of this first one, we’ll know more.”

Be sure to follow @WNST all week as we gear you up for Week 1 of preseason action! Follow me on Twitter @WNST and @RyanChell87 for everything Ravens! WNST-We Never Stop Talking Baltimore Sports!

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In A Word, Todd Heap Was “Steady” in Baltimore

Posted on 02 August 2011 by Glenn Clark

I kept trying to come up with the word throughout the weekend.

After Todd Heap’s tenure with the Baltimore Ravens officially ended this weekend when he signed a two year deal with the Arizona Cardinals, I had hoped to come up with a word to describe Heap’s time in Charm City.

When we made a list of the Top 10 players in franchise history last week, both Drew Forrester and I agreed he was deserving of Top 10 status. There’s no doubt that Heap will ultimately return to M&T Bank Stadium to see his name honored along the facade in the team’s Ring of Honor.

That being said, Heap’s career numbers would certainly fall short of being considered “spectacular” during his 10 seasons in Baltimore. He  finished with 700 yards receiving or more in only three of those seasons, never tallying more than 855. He also never hauled in any more than seven touchdown passes in a single season. After achieving Pro Bowl and All-Pro status twice early in his career (2002 & 2003), the former Arizona State Sun Devils star never again reached the same heights.

While perhaps not always “great”, Heap was always good. Usually he was very good.

Heap wasn’t exactly a football highlight reel. There will always be certain plays that will be remembered from Heap’s career, starting with the leaping catch he made over two defenders in the Ravens’ 2002 Monday Night Football win over the  Denver Broncos and ending with the tremendous layout catch he made on MNF in the Meadowlands against the New York Jets in 2010.

There were others in between, but Heap was never a “SportsCenter” staple or must-see YouTube star.

Rarely would the word “spectacular” be used to describe the way Todd Heap played football. On top of that, Heap’s nature as a person was by no means larger-than-life. Unlike retiring NFL WR Randy Moss, Heap was rarely the go-to guy a reporter looked to for a quote, never making controversial statements about teammates, coaches, or frankly anyone.

If “spectacular” wasn’t going to be the word, perhaps the more appropriate word would be just “steady”.

Steady.

During his ten years in Baltimore, Todd Heap’s play could be best described as steady.

When a play needed to be made, it was safe for the Baltimore Ravens to look to Heap.

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Former Oriole Jake Fox on time as Oriole: “I think it’s no secret people know I can play everyday…I just wasn’t being used that way”

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Former Oriole Jake Fox on time as Oriole: “I think it’s no secret people know I can play everyday…I just wasn’t being used that way”

Posted on 20 June 2011 by Ryan Chell

At the beginning of the 2011 season, things looked very promising for Orioles catcher/utilityman Jake Fox.

Jake Fox

Fox had a very promising spring for manager Buck Showalter and the Orioles, belting ten home runs in Grapefruit League action and appeared to be prove that he was worthy of getting at-bats and full-time action when the regular season went underway.

He looked as if he was going to earn himself the necessary playing time to keep up his impressive hot streak-something that he did not earn from his previous stints in Oakland and the Chicago Cubs.

That was how he actually found his way in a Baltimore uniform as Oakland couldn’t afford to keep him on the bench, designating him for assignment on June 22, 2010 and trading him to the Orioles.

However, nearly a year later, the nightmare happened again for Jake Fox, as the 28-year old found himself yet again short of playing time and in the manager’s doghouse and eventually-off another big league club.

While listed as a catcher and having the ability to play multiple positions, Fox could not call one his own, and when pitcher Brian Matusz returned off the disabled list on the first of June, it was Fox’s name to easily came up-but for the wrong reason.

The Orioles designated the fifth-year man for assignment, and given his previous criticism of A’s management and his off-and-on relationship with Buck Showalter, it looked as if Jake Fox would be too proud to accept a minor league assignment should be passed waivers.

Jake Fox appeared as if he would burn yet another bridge to another organization as he did twice before, but that is where the third time indeed happened to be a charm.

Fox narrowly avoided finding his way up to Pittsburgh during his ten-day wait to either be traded or pass through waivers, but when no team called the Orioles to claim him, he found himself with a decision to make.

And Fox did, accepting the minor league assignment to the Orioles’ Triple-A affiliate, Norfolk, and has since started eight games for the Tides.

So far, he has hit .207 while hitting two home runs and has driven in seven RBIs.

Fox joined Rex Snider on “The Afternoon Drive” Friday afternoon to offer his thoughts on trying to prove to his parent club in Baltimore that the longtime star at the minor league level deserves another chance at a promotion-instead of his third set of walking papers.

“I’ve got to come down; show them I can play everyday, and show them I’m able to perform,” Fox told Snider. “Hopefully that will get me where I want to go.”

And for Fox, the biggest remedy to his troubles or worries so far this season should be fixed down at Norfolk by being used day-in and day-out by manager Gary Allenson.

He knows now that he both sides can help each other out, and that it’s mutually beneficial for both Fox and the Tides.

“I think its no secret people know I can play everyday on the big league level and I just wasn’t being used that way,” Fox said.” It’s hard to come out an perform when you’re only playing one or two days a week, and in order to get where I want to go in my career, it’s a necessary step.”

And Fox didn’t lie to Snider when he said that the experience so far has been nothing short of a good one for him.

“There are a lot of fun guys here… it’s a good club house,” Fox admitted.

Fox said the hardest part about the last several weeks was not actually leaving his teammates during the Seattle series on June 1st, but it was instead the period where his future landing spot was in limbo, whether it was through a trade, waiver claim, demotion, or outright release.

“I’ll tell you this…it’s a tough process,” Fox said. “The harsh part of it is you’re sitting dormant. You’re sitting around…you’re not playing, you’re not staying in shape, and you’re just kind of sitting there.”

Fox said he just continued to go about his business in preparing to suit up to play at the big league level night after night, but that didn’t mean the doubt didn’t eat at him every day.

“It’s just very difficult from that standpoint because you have no idea where you’re going, and no idea how they’re going to use you when you get there,” Fox said. “It could be anywhere from you’re going to get traded to a west coast team, and you’re expected to play the next day game.”

And when no major league club called the Orioles, he had a decision to make when it came to what appeared as a step-back to a major league ballplayer by going down to the minors. He made his choice, but nearly fourteen days since stepping in a batter’s box had Fox’s mind swirling yet again.

“Now you’re going to Norfolk… it’s two weeks since I played my last game, so how you get back in the swing of things and be successful right away?”, Fox asked himself.

And with his lack of playing time, he felt like his rustiness at the plate in Baltimore(.188, 9-for-48. 2 HRs, 4 RBIs) would resurface wherever he went.

Fox said inactivity can be so much more worse than going up against a good pitcher for a hitter such as himself.

“It affects hitters differently according to what kind of hitter they are,” said Fox. “Power hitters say timing is everything, and that’s one thing that it does disrupt. When you have time in between starts, and times when you don’t see pitching, it does disrupt your timing.”

Fox said he could never be a career pinch-hitter or someone of that nature. It just doesn’t fit with his preparation.

“I still believe that coming off the bench in the big leagues is one of the hardest things to do in the big leagues. Guys that can do it, and do it well should be paid a heck of a lot more then they are ’cause there’s not many guys that can do it.

But now, at least Fox will get what he wants most-playing time and at-bats-and he hopes with that going for him, he can prove to Buck Showalter and Andy MacPhail that he deserves another shot at being on the field at Camden Yards.

And he knows just what he needs to do to get it done.

“I think we all know what’s going to keep me in the big leagues is hitting the ball. I just need an opportunity to go out there and do that, that’s the hardest part,” Fox replied.

“I think that’s where it comes into play, just trying to get those consistent at bats. Once I get those consistent at bats I think you’ll see a lot more production.”

WNST thanks Jake Fox for joining “The Afternoon Drive” with Rex Snider! As you all might know, both Drew Forrester and Rex Snider fought over Jake Fox as their favorite Oriole for a short time! We wish him continued success and hope to be able to cover him in Baltimore yet again real soon! WNST-We Never Stop Talking Baltimore Sports!

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Live From Towson: (Some) Ravens Gather to “Practice” During Lockout

Posted on 24 May 2011 by Glenn Clark

TOWSON, Md. — Members of the Baltimore Ravens gathered Tuesday at Unitas Stadium on the campus of Towson University for an unofficial practice. It was the first large gathering of Ravens players since the National Football League and the NFL Players Association failed to come to terms on a new Collective Bargaining Agreement and a lockout was implemented by league owners.

The practices were organized by WR Derrick Mason (the team’s NFLPA representative) and are scheduled to run through Thursday. None of the week’s practices were open for public viewing, but Tuesday’s was open to reporters.

26 players participated in Tuesday’s practice. Offensive players in attendance were Mason, QB Joe Flacco, QB Tyrod Taylor, QB Hunter Cantwell, RB Ray Rice, RB Anthony Allen, TE Davon Drew, TE Dennis Pitta, WR Anquan Boldin, WR Torrey Smith, WR Tandon Doss, WR Justin Harper and WR James Hardy. Defensive players in attendance were DL Cory Redding, DT Arthur Jones, DT Brandon McKinney, DT Lamar Divens, LB Jameel McClain, LB Jarret Johnson, CB Domonique Foxworth, CB Josh Wilson and S Haruki Nakamura. Special teamers in attendance were K Billy Cundiff, P Sam Koch and LS Morgan Cox.

Mason told reporters following practice he wasn’t sure if any other players would be arriving to participate later in the week.

The practice was very light, with some running and conditioning drills; as well as some route running and passing drills with coverage. The conditioning drills were lead by Mack James, a trainer Rice works out with. The passing drills were lead by Flacco.

PR STUNT?: While many fans and analysts have been quick to suggest this week’s practices were merely a public relations stunt, but the players believed the sessions had real football value as well.

“I think guys wanna be out here” said Rice. “It felt good to set your alarm clock for practice. Regardless of what you say (is) voluntary, it felt good to say ‘you know what? I’m going to practice’ and we take it seriously.”

“Obviously we want (reporters) to come out” said Mason. “To show (the fans) that we are working. We’re not just sitting around on the couch not doing anything waiting on the CBA. We are working because we understand (that) this thing could happen at a minute’s notice. We’ve got to be ready to get back on the field because the fans want to see a good product once we do start playing.”

“We just want to let the fans know that we’re working and we’re working hard” added Mason. “It’s not our choice to be somewhere else working out, we would rather be at (1 Winning Drive) but obviously we can’t.”

“It’s just good to be together” said Flacco. The biggest thing about getting out here is the young guys. The guys that are missing out the most right now are the young guys. To get these guys out here and kinda show them the way a little bit so that they can have some stuff to work on is a big deal so that if we need to-and we’re going to want to-we’ll be able to use these guys.”

Rice said he and the offensive veterans would be meeting with the first year players to go over the playbook following practice.

INJURY REPORT: Foxworth (knee) would likely have been listed as a limited participant in Tuesday’s practice had their been an injury report. He participated in some running and coverage drills, but did not appear to be using a full motion-even for a “fake” practice.

Foxworth missed the entire 2010 season after suffering a torn ACL and torn MCL during the first day of Training Camp.

Cox (knee) would have likely been listed as a full participant, he did not appear bothered during Special Teams drills despite having a brace on his left knee. Cox’s season was cut short after suffering a torn ACL in the team’s Week 16 win over the Cleveland Browns at Cleveland Browns Stadium.

NOTES: Hear from Mason, Flacco, Rice, J. McClain, Doss, Hardy and Taylor now in the BuyAToyota.com Audio Vault here at WNST.net……OT Jared Gaither (who was not part of Tuesday’s practice) is scheduled to join Rex Snider at 2:30pm Tuesday on “The Afternoon Drive” on AM1570 WNST……Hardy is scheduled to join Drew Forrester Wednesday morning at 7:30am on “The Morning Reaction” on WNST……Towson football coach Rob Ambrose and 15 Tigers players took in today’s practice from the Unitas Stadium field……The school added extra security all week with the anticipation that fans would attempt to access practice

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Lack of Reverence For Preakness in Baltimore Appalling

Posted on 20 May 2011 by Glenn Clark

The Preakness Stakes will never mean to Baltimore what the Kentucky Derby means to Louisville.

I will start my thoughts by offering an acceptance of that fact.

I couldn’t honestly say I understood the difference between the two Triple Crown races until attending my first “Run For The Roses” in 2010. It’s a different world. It truly cannot be replicated in Charm City.

Perhaps veteran horse racing columnist Jerry Izenberg of the Newark Star-Ledger said it best in 2010…

“Here in Crab Cake City, there is one thing that all of them — infielder, grandstander and the jacket-and-tie set, that actually know the words to “Maryland, My Maryland” — have in common. They all know how to treat a horse race like, well, a horse race.

Greater Baltimore is too big and too honest, and its people work too hard and wear out too many blue collars for it to be otherwise. It understands exactly what this race is. It is a break in the calendar when the Orioles will not be the lead story. It is an event that the town respects but does not worship.”

It’s hard to argue his point.

In fact, year after year the romanticism and celebration of the “Run for the Black-Eyed Susans” appears to be lessened throughout the city.

It’s not just because patrons were barred from bringing their own alcohol into the infield, either.

The fact is that it is safe to question at this point whether or not Baltimore truly even “respects” the Preakness, more or less reveres the city’s most significant event.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QrN1NyHEiis[/youtube]

According to the Baltimore Sun, the 2010 Preakness spending generated roughly $1.3 million in 2010 in state and local taxes. The event was as significant if not more to area businesses including hotels, restaurants, bars, taxi and limo services, entertainment venues and grocery/convenience stores.

What can’t be measured beyond that is the value brought to the area by the exposure that comes with Preakness. NBC and VERSUS will combine to dedicate nearly eight hours of coverage this weekend from Old Hilltop, while HRTV and ESPN have also reported and broadcast from the track this week as well.

The Maryland Jockey Club said over 1,000 media members were credentialed for this year’s event, generating coverage in newspapers and on websites throughout the country and the world.

There is simply no arguing the significance of Baltimore’s biggest annual event.

While an argument could be made that a Baltimore Ravens playoff game could provide nearly as much exposure for the city, it would be difficult to picture a NFL game reaching the vast demographic group that the Preakness is able to touch.

Baltimore’s most significant annual moment happens just off Northern Parkway on the third Saturday of May.

As Bob Ehrlich told Drew Forrester this week in an interview on “The Morning Reaction” on AM1570 WNST, “For me, (the Preakness) was a wonderful day. It’s the best day of the year to be governor.”

Or as Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake told Rex Snider in an interview on “The Afternoon Drive” also on AM1570 WNST, “It really gives us a chance to showcase the city in a big way.”

It is hard to imagine a resident of our fair city not understanding how significant Preakness Saturday is annually.

Imagine my frustration when I was asked this question by a friend (and lifelong Baltimore resident) recently:

Everyone is getting together at Riverwatch for dinner Saturday because Tuesday is my birthday. You’ll be there, right?

After allowing the bewildered look to finally disappear from my face, I had my own question for my friend:

You’re aware they didn’t cancel the Preakness this year, right?

Even more troubling at the same time was my realization that the Baltimore Orioles were not only playing at home, but they were playing at 4:05pm.

Given that the average Major League Baseball game lasts two hours and fifty-one minutes (according to MLB.com in 2010) and the post time for the 136th running of the Preakness Stakes is 6:19pm-a conflict exists.

A source from the Maryland Jockey Club (who asked not to be identified) told me that the MJC reached out to the O’s after learning of the scheduling conflict, but the club deferred to Major League Baseball. Emails sent to the Orioles and MLB requesting further comment were not returned.

To be fair, the Orioles have to play on the third Saturday of May. But in the last 10 years, the Orioles have not played a game that directly conflicted with the Preakness despite playing seven times at home on Preakness Saturday.

It seems stunning that the Birds (and Major League Baseball) would allow a game to go off at the same time as the city’s signature event instead of altering the time of the game. The Boston Red Sox play an 11am game annually at Fenway Park as part of the city’s “Patriots Day” celebration. The Orioles could start at a similar time on Preakness Saturday to make way for Preakness, or could start later in the evening (around 8pm) to allow fans to attend both events.

In fact, they could even label the game as “the official post-Preakness party” and offer ticket discounts to attendees of the Preakness should they work in concert with the Jockey Club.

It would be the type of arrangement that could perhaps encourage out of town enthusiasts to “make a day of it” in Baltimore, seeing the sights of one of America’s classic sporting events and also viewing breathtaking Oriole Park at Camden Yards.

It’s a shame the city hasn’t worked with both parties to encourage such a partnership.

But the lack of reverence towards the Preakness in Baltimore is more appalling than even a baseball game.

Many Baltimoreans have simply told me in recent weeks that they feel no connection with the event despite understanding the overall significance of the event.

The reality is that some Baltimoreans are simply more interested in other events.

The problem with that attitude is that Baltimore doesn’t have anything else this significant. There is no PGA Tour stop. There is no LPGA, ATP, WTA Tour stop either.

The NBA & NHL Playoffs are irrelevant in Baltimore unless a fan chooses to root for a team from out of town. The NCAA Tournament might include a team from Baltimore, but the days of Tim Duncan and company playing March Madness games on the floor of what is now known as the 1st Mariner Arena have long passed.

The UFC has never staged a major Mixed Martial Arts event in Baltimore. There hasn’t been a significant prize fight in Baltimore in my lifetime. NASCAR has never come to town, and while the IndyCar series will hold the inaugural “Baltimore Grand Prix” in Baltimore this Labor Day weekend, the event has exactly enough significance that it was not picked up by the series’ network partner (ABC).

The Baltimore Ravens have never played more than nine meaningful home games in a season. The Baltimore Orioles haven’t played a significant home game after Opening Day since 1997.

In Baltimore, we have the Preakness and not much else.

But there’s no reason for that to be so depressing.

It would certainly bode well for the event if the sport of horse racing could make a “comeback” in Charm City. Pimlico has been outdated about as long as the Arena has, and it doesn’t serve well to generate excitement. The fact that racing only happens at the track for about a month out of the year hurts too.

No one has to be a horse racing fan to support Preakness, however.

The majority of the 100,000 or so fans that pack the track Saturday will likely not know the names of more than a few horses running in the actual race and even fewer could quickly answer “Lookin At Lucky” if asked who won last year’s event.

That being said, the folks who attend the event are at least expecting a good time-whether they’re watching Train on the infield or screaming at ponies from the grandstand.

There’s nothing wrong with being a Baltimorean and not attending the Preakness. The dirty secret in Louisville is that more locals actually attend Kentucky Oaks day on Friday than the actual Derby. (Which is aided by the closure of schools, government and many offices in general). The simple idea is that the city should somehow partake in the event in general-or at least feel more positive than negative energy in association with the event.

At the very least, everyone in Baltimore should ABSOLUTELY know that the third Saturday of May is Preakness Saturday.

It’s a shame that isn’t currently true.

-G

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Ravens fourth-round pick Tandon Doss on endorsement from Joe Flacco: “It’s very humbling. I feel blessed to be just in this opportunity”

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Ravens fourth-round pick Tandon Doss on endorsement from Joe Flacco: “It’s very humbling. I feel blessed to be just in this opportunity”

Posted on 02 May 2011 by Ryan Chell

Tandon Doss

If you haven’t heard already about Ravens fourth-round pick-Indiana WR Tandon Doss, you might soon hear it enough.

Not only did Drew Forrester correctly predict that the Ravens were going to draft the 6’3”, 200-pound Hoosier receiver in this past weekend’s draft, but he also may have been hand-picked for his skills based on the endorsement of one Joe Flacco, the quarterback for the Baltimore Ravens.

And he joined WNST’s own Nestor Aparicio and Glenn Clark Monday on “The Morning Reaction” to offer his thanks for  becoming a Baltimore Raven Saturday, and said that he was honored by the recommendation and selection.

“It’s very humbling,” Doss told Aparicio. “I feel blessed to just to be in this opportunity and I’m just willing to make the most of it. Wherever they need me to make plays, I’m willing to make plays.”

And during his three years at Indiana, he made numerous plays for ex-Indiana coach Bill Lynch.

“He’s an outstanding football player,” Lynch told Rex Snider of “The Afternoon Drive” later on Monday. “Tandon is a great young man, and to watch him develop over his college career-and to now move to play in the National Football League-he really became a great football player and an even better leader on our team.”

Doss finished his career as one of the best for catch passes for the Indiana football team, as he finished his career with 154 receptions(4th best in school history), and seventh best in school history in both receiving yards (1,854) and all-purpose yards (3,786).

His 2010 season equated to 63 receptions for 706 yards and a team-high seven touchdowns. This was mostly due to teams trying to take him out of the ballgame after his deadly 2009 campaign in which he earned first-team All-Big Ten status with a 77 catches, 962 yards, five touchdown performance.

He also adds a dynamic element to the Ravens as a kick returner( 2010-his 1,016 kick return yards were fourth-most in Big Ten history). If healthy, he could compete with incumbent David Reed for the KR position as well as offer his skills up as a receiver as well.

But that’s where Doss’ issues lie. And why we fell farther in the draft than those who have the chance to win the college game’s Biletnikoff Award given to the country’s best wideout-

Injuries.

Despite playing in 11 of 12 games in 2010, Doss played with not one-but two sports hernias in his last season in Bloomington.

He had surgery on his groin twice in the off-season and it  that prevented him from attending the Combine, individual team workouts, and Indiana’s Pro Day, hurting his draft stock.

On top of not being the best in the business when it came to blazing speed, he saw his name drop to the fourth round, which was discouraging for Doss to say the least.

“Yea, it was a very long weekend,” Doss said. “I kinda new I wasn’t going to be in the first round, but I heard some things about maybe being in the second or third round.”

But the wait lingered.

“And I had a long night Friday afternoon and Friday evening, but you know unfortunately my name wasn’t called so I had to wait until the next morning.”

And now, he’s ready to prove that he was worth not only the endorsement by the Ravens and that he brings value to a Baltimore team selecting him with Saturday’s 123rd pick.

“I’m about to go get the route-stuff down and catch some balls getting ready to go down there,” Doss said.

But he will have to wait until the lockout ends to be able to have a look by the Ravens coaching staff and receive a playbook to get his transition to the NFL started.

Either way, he said he’ll be ready regardless whether he’s at the facility or not.

“They told me to stay in shape,” Doss said. “I need to be able to run all day as soon as I get there and just put on a couple of pounds to bulk up.”

His former coach said that Doss adjusting to the speed of the NFL is not going to be a problem, rest assured.

“I’ll say this for Tandon,” Lynch said. “He came in as a true freshman out of high school, and obviously Big Ten football is is a step-up from high school football. He caught up with the speed real quick, and we played him right away.”

So far, it seems like the coaching staff and the other Ravens players know he will fit right in with what’s going on over at 1 Winning Drive.

His head is certainly in the right place that’s for sure. Unlike a lot of other college juniors looking to go pro this year and forgo their senior seasons because of the expected rookie wage scale, Doss is doing it for another reason.

To support his family.

“That was a major part of my decision to come out early,” Doss said. “My father wasn’t really there growing up. I haven’t heard anything about where he’s at or anything.”

Doss’ mom worked numerous jobs in support of Tandon and his family, and on top of taking care of his schizophrenic brother who the two have supported, Doss said the decision to help her out by leaving school early was all too easy.

“I had to make a decision and come out early to try and support her,” Doss said. “I had to take some of the stress off her shoulders.”

“I love her to death. That’s why I’m doing it.”

With that kind of mindset, Ravens fans will be quick to welcome Doss to Baltimore.  That might not be the biggest adjustment Doss has to make.

Dropping his love for his previous loves-the Oakland Raiders and Colts WR Reggie Wayne.

“I actually grew up a Raiders fan,” Doss admitted. “I don’t know how it happened. I always grew up a Raiders fan and I enjoy watching the Colts. They’ve got a great offense.”

He explained why his love for Reggie Wayne is present in the back of his mind.

“Being from Indianapolis and watching a lot of Colts games, Reggie Wayne does it all,” Doss said. “His routes are crisp, he’s always consistent, he has great hands and catches everything so he’s able to separate.”

Clark and Aparicio made quick work of that conversation to make sure he had things on the right track now that he was a Raven.

“I, Tandon Doss, promise that I am not-in any way-a fan of the Indianapolis Colts,” Doss swore.

And with that, Doss was sworn in as a Baltimore Raven. It’s official by WNST-standards.

WNST thanks Tandon Doss for joining “The Morning Reaction”! Be sure to tune into AM 1570 WNST as we welcome your 2011 NFL Draft class to Baltimore the only way we can! WNST-We Never Stop Talking Baltimore Sports!

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Former NFL All-Pro CB Ashley Ambrose on coaching Jimmy Smith: “I wish I had the ability of this kid”

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Former NFL All-Pro CB Ashley Ambrose on coaching Jimmy Smith: “I wish I had the ability of this kid”

Posted on 01 May 2011 by Ryan Chell

Ashley Ambrose

Ashley Ambrose was a 13-year veteran corner back playing for four different NFL franchises including the likes of the Indianapolis Colts, the New Orleans Saints, Cincinnati Bengals, and the Atlanta Falcons.

The 1996 All-Pro recorded 42 interceptions in his dozen-year NFL career, and during his playing days was often tasked with covering the opposing team’s best receiver.

And since retiring in 2005, the 40-year old former CB has found his mark in the coaching ranks, and as of recently found his way to the University of Colorado coaching their defensive backs.

It was that move-and his eventual association with Ravens first round pick CB Jimmy Smith-that forced the former NFL veteran to do a different kind of defending.

Jimmy Smith

Doing his best to cover the character concerns of his pupil in Smith-who’s off-the-field incidents while in Boulder include marijuana use, arrests for possession and underage drinking, assault, and impregnating several women-eventually became a common practice for Ambrose the past two off-seasons as NFL teams probed him for inside information about Jimmy Smith the man as well as the corner.

Ambrose-who recently took over the defensive backs’ coach at the University of California-joined Rex Snider of “The Afternoon Drive” Friday afternoon after the Ravens selected Jimmy Smith with the 27th pick in the first round of Thursday’s NFL Draft, and he had nothing but good things to say about his former player and the situation he was ending up in Baltimore.

“I know there was a need for you guys,” Ambrose told Snider, “and I knew if Jimmy was going to fall down there that the Ravens were a possibility. I’ll tell you what…I’m happy for him. It’s a great place for him to be.”

Ambrose was probably Smith’s biggest fan Thursday night, and it began to worry him when the Ravens allowed the Chiefs to move ahead of them to make a selection because he was afraid that Smith’s rap sheet of character issues would force him to drop out of the first round and hurt his confidence.

“I read about it,” Ambrose said. “I didn’t know what was going on at first. I was nervous at first cause Jimmy’s a great kid. A lot of people go off what happened his freshman year and stuff like that.”

But he was glad to ultimately see the Ravens take the leap of faith on Smith and he assured the Baltimore coaching staff through Snider that they know they won’t regret the decision because of the man Smith has become recently.

“I said to myself that if they get a chance to see who Jimmy is as a person, they really would know what kind of kid he is being so mature now.”

Ambrose joined the Colorado program in 2008, with Smith having been a Buffalo since redshirting in 2006.

From the moment the two met, the two were inseparable and Ambrose brought with him a mentor-like approach when it came to guiding Smith down the right path and helping him become not only a better corner, but a better man.

“I really am confident in that. I was more of a mentor and a big brother to Jimmy as well as his coach,” Ambrose said. “While he was there, he did everything he was supposed to do. He was always on time. Jimmy was just really young when a whole lot of stuff happened.”

Ambrose didn’t want to make excuses, but he said a lot of young kids get themselves in similar trouble that Smith did and don’t get caught or the attention thrown their way.

“You get any kid going to high school to college, get them in a different environment, and things happen,” Ambrose replied. “Jimmy just happened to be one of those kids that messed around and got caught a few times, whatever it was. Some people go through it and never get caught, but it just so happens that he was a freshman, he got caught with it, and it was always over his head. But he’s not that kind of a guy.”

How fitting that Smith’s last known deviant act caught on the record was in 2007-the year before Ambrose joined the Colorado staff.

“I’m so proud of him. He grew up, and you’re talking about a kid who graduated from college,” Ambrose said. “Most kids like that..they’re not graduating from school. This kid was so focused about his academics that he got a degree, and I’m proud of him….and I don’t see him getting in any trouble.”

The only trouble Ambrose sees? The opposing receivers in the AFC North who have to go up against Smith.

“I wish I had the ability of this kid, and the sky’s the limit for him.”

“This kid is going to be awesome. I’ve been around the NFL for quite some time, and just being around the guy, there is no one with his size. Usually guys like that don’t have any hips, but Jimmy has very good hips. He can run, and he can be physical. It is rare to see that.”

Ambrose compared him to a similar corner in today’s game in Jets CB Antonio Cromartie-but hopefully without the off-the-field concerns as the New York defender.

And Smith’s other beneficial trait? He is eager to get better and takes learning seriously.

“I was amazed to see the things he can do just trying to teach him techniques. He is very coachable, he is willing to learn, and that’s the thing that makes him such an elite athlete because he’s ready to learn and he’s willing to do what you ask of him.”

Ambrose knows he’ll fit right in with player-coaches like Ray Lewis and Ed Reed-who hails from the same hometown as Ambrose-and he knows that those two in particular will guide Smith down the right path toward being an excellent football player and human being.

He knows so because he was forced to do the same thing several years ago.

“That’s what players do,” Ambrose said. “Ed Reed is from my hometown, and I know a lot of his family. Ed Reed is a great character person. Ed Reed is going to be the person to be there to help Jimmy out with anything. He’ll put him under his wing, and guide him in the right direction.”

“Now it is up to Jimmy to do the right things, but I think it’s perfect for Jimmy because he gets to be with a Hall-of-Fame type guy that’s doing it and leading by example on and off the football field. I think it’s a great thing, and he’s going into a great situation.”

But for now, Ambrose said Smith should take advantage of a fresh start as a Raven and be solely focused on adjusting to the speed of the NFL because for the former Mississippi Valley State star in Ambrose, that was the toughest thing to get adapted to coming out of college.

“It’s always a challenge,” he said. “Having now coached at the collegiate level, I kind of talk to these kids about it…telling them about the transition and those sorts of things.”

“You’re going to be in meetings all the time, and everyone’s going to be great players. You can’t take a week off and things like that. The thing for me when I first came out I thought I was so good at my level of college football that I could just bring it right to the NFL, and that opened up for me real fast.”

But he knows Jimmy’s ready for that change, and when he does, he should ultimately be able to kill two birds with one stone as he knows succeeding on the football field will push some of his past character-concerns under the rug.

“It’s a great fan-base, and what’s going to happen is he’s going to win a lot of fans over cause he’s going to play some good football.”

WNST thanks Ashley Ambrose for joining “The Afternoon Drive” with Rex Snider and welcomes Jimmy Smith to Baltimore! Check the BuyaToyota.com Audio Vault for the chat with Ambrose as well as tune into WNST Monday as we talk with Torrey Smith for the first time since being drafted by the Ravens! WNST-We Never Stop Talking Baltimore Sports!

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