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NFL Draft Season Kicks Off In Orlando at East West Shrine Game

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NFL Draft Season Kicks Off In Orlando at East West Shrine Game

Posted on 22 January 2011 by Glenn Clark

For NFL Draft nerds (like myself), this week has marked the true start to NFL Draft season.

Baltimore Ravens General Manager Ozzie Newsome lead a group of staffers who traveled to Orlando to watch practice ahead of this year’s annual East West Shrine Game.

With the NFL Draft likely to take place before free agency begins this year, it can be argued that Draft season is more significant than it has been in years past.

Before we start to look at players involved in Draft season, I think we should first identify the Ravens’ biggest areas of need. With free agency still to determine many things, here are the areas where I believe the team most needs to improve.

1. Defensive End-Newsome said this week the team needs a “companion” for LB Terrell Suggs in pass rush. I agree, and I believe it needs to be a true edge rusher.
2. Offensive Tackle-If the team feels comfortable with bringing back Jared Gaither (and Head Coach John Harbaugh indicated they were), re-signing him could address the problem. If not, they’ll need to upgrade.
3. Wide Receiver-The Ravens will have to make decisions on TJ Houshmandzadeh and Donte’ Stallworth; but need to come away with a big receiver and a speed receiver that can both be counted on offensively.
4. Cornerback-Only Domonique Foxworth and Lardarius Webb are under contract, so the team needs to make decisions on Chris Carr, Josh Wilson, Fabian Washington and Cary Williams. Either way, they would be well served to add a bigger, more physical corner.
5. Fullback-If Le’Ron McClain returns, this wouldn’t be an issue. With the current expectation that he won’t return, the team will be looking for an option here.
6. Inside Linebacker-At the MIKE spot, the team knows Ray Lewis can’t play forever. At the WILL spot, the team has three players (Jameel McClain, Tavares Gooden, Dannell Ellerbe) who are all coming up on some form of free agency and who have not separated themselves from each other at all.
7. Safety-While it doesn’t appear Ed Reed will retire this offseason, the Ravens have to think about the possibility it could happen in the near future. At the same time, Dawan Landry is a free agent and appears to be one of the more likely free agents on the team to get bigger money elsewhere.
8. Center-Whether or not Matt Birk retires (I’ll guess he doesn’t), the team clearly needs to review the position. If Birk returns, it will only be for one more season. I don’t think the team has future plans for Chris Chester in the middle. Daniel Sanders could be an option, but the team might be well to draft a center as well.
9. Running Back-Willis McGahee is a very likely departure this offseason, leaving the team with a need to compliment Ray Rice.
10. Quarterback-If Marc Bulger departs, the Ravens will need someone else to backup Joe Flacco. Hunter Cantwell could be an option, but they might want to at least CONSIDER a doomsday theory scenario with Flacco and draft a mid to late round QB as well.

Some of these positions will be addressed whenever free agency finally does begin, others can be addressed simply by signing the team’s own free agents. Before free agency is even an issue, the Ravens will have to get through Draft season.

Here are a look at 10 players participating in the Shrine Game, which you can watch at 4pm on NFL Network.

RB Evan Royster (Penn State)

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2tWf1NOPkL0[/youtube]

After an explosive sophomore season (1,391 yards of total offense and 12 TD’s), Royster immediately gained attention.

Incredibly, he posted two more very steady seasons, tallying 1,356 yards of total offense and 8 TD’s in 2009; 1,216 yards of total offense and 7 TD’s in 2010. He has the size of a back who could compliment Rice (6’1″, 228 pounds) and many scouts think he’ll have a solid career as a third down back at the NFL level.

So what’s the problem? Well, Royster’s biggest performances as a senior came against Temple and Michigan, neither or which can really be considered premiere defenses. He also doesn’t fit the bill of the dynamic backs in the Naitonal Football League currently like Rice, Jacksonville Jaguars back Maurice Jones-Drew, Houston Texans back Arian Foster, Tennessee Titans back Chris Johnson or Kansas City Chiefs back Jamaal Charles.

As of right now, he’s probably a mid to late round pick. If so, he might be a solid pick-up should McGahee leave Charm City.

WR Lester Jean (Florida Atlantic)

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mihM5auuXx0[/youtube]

As the Ravens look for a receiver who can  extend the field, they might want to think about Jean. He’s 6’3″ (and somewhere in the neighborhood of 200 pounds), and has deceptive quickness.

While the Owls don’t exactly play against top caliber opposition in the Sun Belt conference, Jean also managed to post big games against Texas (see above) and Michigan State. He finished the 2010 season with 64 catches for 988 yards and 8 TD’s, wrapping up a career with 146 catches for 1,992 yards and 15 touchdowns.

He’s probably a late round pick at this point, but what he does at the Citrus Bowl Saturday and what he does at the NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis could lift him to late Friday night or early Saturday morning. If the Ravens don’t go receiver early, he could certainly be an option for the team later in the weekend. Jean wasn’t exactly hotly pursued out of High School in Miami, but he could be a hot name in April.

DE Justin Trattou (Florida)

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2DBWhBn75KM[/youtube]

Maybe an interception isn’t the greatest highlight to offer for a player the Ravens would be looking to see handle an edge rush, but I can only work with what I have.

Trattou is a rising end whose size has never matched his ability to bring down a QB. He tallied just 8 sacks over his four seasons in Gainesville despite his 6’4″, 255 pound frame. In fairness, he was surrounded by top notch rushers like Carlos Dunlap during much of his Gators career.

Trattou may pan out to be more of a Dwan Edwards or Cory Redding contain type of end, but NFL.com’s Bucky Brooks says he’s put together an impressive mix of rush moves this week in the shadow of Disney World. If he continues to show a rush presence, he could be an intriguing name for the Ravens to consider on Saturday.

S Jermale Hines (Ohio State)

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=atBM7zf2IAw[/youtube]

Hines’ career interception total over four years in Columbus (three) looks more like a single game for a future Hall of Famer like Reed, but that doesn’t mean Hines hasn’t had a nose for the football. The safety from Cleveland also finished his Buckeyes career with 159 tackles and two sacks, and was named first team All-Big Ten by conference coaches in 2010.

At 6’1″, 216 pounds; Hines is bigger than your typical free safety-but is also quick. In fact, Hines could be an option as a returner at the next level as well. He’s as much an athlete as a football player, but his football skills certainly developed well at OSU, and could very well still improve as he reaches the NFL.

As the Ravens approach Saturday, Hines could be a valuable depth option at safety. While Tom Zbikowski handled FS well with Reed on the PUP list, he didn’t necessarily convince anyone he was absolutely the team’s replacement for Reed longterm. Hines could be that type of player someday if groomed appropriately at a young age.

WR Terrence Toliver (LSU)

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hhIrQn1Nd7w[/youtube]

His numbers are by no means overwhelming, but exactly how many times was Ravens Offensive Coordinator Cam Cameron able to call a play like the TD pass Toliver caught from Jarrett Lee above?

Exactly.

The Ravens finished 22nd in red zone efficiency in 2010. For the numerous complaints about the lack of creative play-calling, there was only so much for Cameron to work with. Namely, he missed a target the size of Toliver.

Toliver caught just 41 balls for 579 yards and five TD’s during his senior campaign in Baton Rouge. All five TD’s happened either in the Florida game above or in the Tigers’ Cotton Bowl win over Texas A&M, where he caught three.

But there’s another number that’s significantly more important.

6’5″.

The only receiver the Ravens have with such size is James Hardy, and he’s James Hardy. If the Ravens are truly looking to get more dynamic offensively, Toliver could be a solid pickup on Friday night or Saturday.

FB Anthony Sherman (UConn)

anthonysherman

I would love to have been able to share a YouTube clip of the Huskies FB with you, but when you rush just four times for a total of one yard in your senior season I guess there’s not much to post.

Sherman might not have big numbers, but he can help take credit for a rushing attack that finished 2nd in the Big East in 2010, just four yards behind conference leading Louisville. He also showed himself to have reliable hands in the Connecticut offense, grabbing 48 passes for 477 yards and a TD over his four seasons playing football in Hartford.

More importantly, Sherman lead the way for RB Jordan Todman to finish fourth in all of the NCAA FBS in rushing with 1,695 yards. If the Ravens are going to want a traditional blocking back (and the way they used McClain would make you think they are), Sherman could very well fit the bill. At 5’11″, he has a very effective way of throwing around 244 pounds.

OT Matthew O’Donnell (Queens University Canada)

I know what you’re thinking.

“Canada?”

Yeah, I’d usually just ignore a Canuck and let CFL teams fight over who gets him. But there are two unique things O’Donnell has going for him.

1-He’s 6’10.”

2-He did THIS to Boise State DE Ryan Wintersyk at an indoor practice during Shrine Game week.

Does it make him NFL material? Not necessarily. But does it mean more folks will be paying attention? Absolutely.

RB Da’Rel Scott (Maryland)

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ADjVJ3MKd8k[/youtube]

Scott HAS to hope scouts were paying close attention to the Military Bowl, as his 200 yard, 2 TD performance against East Carolina was by far and away the best of his senior campaign for the Terps. If scouts could only remember his bowl game performances he’d be a lock to get selected, as he also compiled 174 yards and 2 TD’s against Nevada in the 2008 Humanitarian Bowl.

After a breakout season (1,133 yards and eight TD’s) in 2008, Scott totaled just 1,133 yards and nine TD’s in his junior and senior seasons combined.

That being said, Scott’s 5’11″, 200 pound frame is shifty but can still take a hit. He could be a steady performer behind a solid O-Line at the next level and will likely be available late into Saturday.

QB Ricky Dobbs (Navy)

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

A number of teams (including the New England Patriots and Detroit Lions) have had no problems selecting service academy players in the NFL Draft and waiting until they were eligible to play. The Ravens have never done that, but with their partnership with the Maryland National Guard, they’ve certainly been more military friendly in recent years.

Dobbs probably doesn’t project to be a quarterback at the next level, but he’s a better passer than those who don’t follow the Midshipmen (see above) probably realize. Dobbs threw for over 2,500 yards over his junior and senior seasons; combining with 2,170 yards rushing.

It will be interesting to see if Dobbs stays at quarterback throughout Draft season or if he works at other positions. Receiver seems to be the best bet for him given his 5’11″, 215 pound size; but he could fit with some of the more undersized running backs in the NFL as well.

The military service will be an issue. He’s much more likely to sign as an undrafted free agent than to be picked, but he’s the type of special athlete a team might very well be willing to wait for. There’s no off-field red flags for NFL teams to worry about with Dobbs, as everything he does he keeps in mind that he ultimately wants to be the President…of the United States.

QB Pat Devlin (Delaware)

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OkPzmE0__7A[/youtube]

If the Pat Devlin story sounds familiar, it should. Substitute “Pitt” for “Penn State”, and it’s basically the Joe Flacco story again.

Devlin nearly lead the Blue Hens to the NCAA FCS title in 2010, throwing for 3,032 yards and 22 TD’s before the Hens were cut down by Eastern Washington in the Championship Game.

Devlin doesn’t project quite as high in the 2010 Draft as Flacco did in the 2008 Draft, but he’ll have time to try to improve that. As of now, he looks like a Friday night selection, but will get the chance to go up against better talent in Orlando and will get to work out against better players at LucasOil Stadium in Indy.

If he moves up, there’s no chance the Ravens take him. If he’s around late into Saturday, it wouldn’t stun me.

-G

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Ranking The Ravens: A Postseason Breakdown of 53(+) Man Roster

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Ranking The Ravens: A Postseason Breakdown of 53(+) Man Roster

Posted on 21 January 2011 by Glenn Clark

In their new song, “Waiting For The End”, the band Linkin Park offered a lyric that should be considered particularly fitting for Baltimore Ravens fans.

The hardest part of ending is starting again…

With their 31-24 defeat at the hands of the Pittsburgh Steelers at Heinz Field in the AFC Divisional Round, the 2010-2011 NFL season has ended for the Ravens.

It didn’t take long for the team’s offseason to begin. Even with owners and players apparently headed towards a lockout, GM Ozzie Newsome, Director of Player Personnel Eric DeCosta, Senior Personnel Assistant George Kokinis and Director of College Scouting Joe Hortiz lead a front office hard at work in shaping what the 2011 Baltimore Ravens will look like…as long as there is a 2011 NFL season.

Members of the front office are already preparing for the NFL Draft, as they are scouting college seniors this week in Orlando at the East West Shrine Game. Next week they will be doing the same thing at the Senior Bowl in Mobile, AL.

As we enter the offseason, I’ll offer a variation of my preseason power rankings (you’ll remember my “Mocking the 53″ blogs) to review the team’s roster. This is a complicated review, as I factor in who had the best season, who has proved to a better player overall, the value of the position and contract status.

Players labeled as “UFA” are unrestricted free agents. Players labeled as “RFA” are restricted free agents. Players labeled as “ERFA” are exclusive rights free agents. Players labeled as “reserve/future” have reserve/future contracts.

Unique labeling on my part. I’m aware.

1. LB Terrell Suggs
2. DT Haloti Ngata (UFA)
3. RB Ray Rice
4. LB Ray Lewis
5. G Ben Grubbs

grubbs

While I said Tuesday Ngata was the team’s best player in 2010 (he also received my vote for/won the team’s Most Valuable Player award), his contract status leaves him second on the list.

Suggs was outstanding in 2010, proving his 2009 season was indeed a fluke after signing a big contract the proceeding offseason.

It is going to cost owner Steve Bisciotti a LOT of money to retain Ngata this offseason, but the Ravens are basically going to have to pay the price. Losing Ngata could absolutely WRECK the franchise’s plans defensively, as Ngata anchors what they do up front. It could only spell the end of Lewis’ career. If Ngata were to depart, Lewis could no longer be viewed as a Top 5 player on the roster for sure.

Rice’s fantasy football numbers were down in 2010, but his offensive impact certainly wasn’t. He remained the Ravens’ most dynamic playmaker and is expected to an offensive force for years to come.

It was interesting (for me) as I graded out players that I felt Grubbs was worthy of being a Top 5 player. Grubbs proved himself to be the team’s best and most reliable Offensive Lineman, and gives the team at least one more position they don’t have to worry about…for now.

6. WR Anquan Boldin
7. QB Joe Flacco
8. OT Michael Oher
9. K Billy Cundiff (UFA)
10. P Sam Koch (UFA)

koch

Everything at the receiver position has to be viewed as wide open right now…except for Boldin. He has to be viewed as the team’s top possession receiver no matter what Derrick Mason decides to do.

While Flacco is still a cornerstone for the franchise (and the suggestion made that the team should have him “compete” with Marc Bulger for the starting job is laughable), his move outside the Top 5 is a statement. He made SOME of the progress the team wanted him to make-but not all of it. There will be increasing pressure for that to happen next year.

Oher represents a tricky situation for the Ravens. While he struggled in 2010, he’s certainly not a BAD player. The team will have to figure out whether or not he has a long term future at LT. If he does (and he plays to that level), he’ll be a Top 5 player on this team for a long time.

Koch and Cundiff represent a unique problem for the team. During the 15 years of the team’s history, they’ve never been the type of organization that would spend a lot of money on a specialist. They’re going to have to pay two guys this offseason as top-tier specialists. These players were a SIGNIFICANT reason the team managed to win 12 regular season games and a playoff game this year.

11. TE Todd Heap
12. WR Derrick Mason
13. S Ed Reed
14. CB Domonique Foxworth
15. FB Le’Ron McClain (UFA)

mcclain

Heap, Mason and Reed are unique. If this list was based on ability and performance alone; there would be an argument they should all be in the Top 10. Their age leaves them on the outside looking in, as even if they return as expected the team will have to make decisions at their positions.

It might seem surprising that Foxworth is the highest ranked of the cornerbacks, but he was the team’s top guy before getting hurt and is the only guy (besides Lardarius Webb) in the group who actually has a contract.

The Ravens are in a VERY unique situation with McClain. He had a tremendous season at fullback; but doesn’t want to return as true fullback. To return, the two time Pro Bowler would have to be assured of more involvement in Cam Cameron’s offense. I’m not sure how likely that is.

16. CB Chris Carr (UFA)
17. LB Jarret Johnson
18. CB Lardarius Webb
19. CB Josh Wilson (UFA)
20. DE Cory Redding

redding

Carr had a great season and offered some legitimate stability to the team’s defensive backfield. That being said, there will be a question as to whether or not bringing him back will work monetarily. If he gets paid as a #1 corner, the Ravens might be in trouble. Wilson is in the same boat. The uncertainty surrounding those two corners helps Webb find himself ranked higher on the list.

My guess is that one of Carr and Wilson will be back, but not both.

Johnson and Redding are both solid contributors to the defense, and the Ravens can pencil them in for next season. They’ll need a healthier (or just somehow more effective) Johnson, and they’ll need to compliment Redding with a legitimate rush end.

21. S Dawan Landry (UFA)
22. WR TJ Houshmandzadeh (UFA)
23. TE Ed Dickson
24. DT Brandon McKinney
25. DT Kelly Gregg

kgregg

Like other players, the Ravens find themselves in a tricky spot when it comes to Landry. As a starter and solid contributor to one of the league’s better defenses over the last few years, Landry could find himself in position to make a lot of money on the free agent market. The Ravens may or may not be in a place to match that. He’s been good; but with restricted free agents Tom Zbikowski and Haruki Nakamura likely to return, it seems unlikely they would retain Landry at a high cost.

Houshmandzadeh almost seems to be in a “if Mason doesn’t come back” position. The Ravens can’t just retain all of their top three receivers and make progress offensively. If Mason retires, there would be a much greater likelihood of Houshmandzadeh returning.

Dickson showed signs of being a potential breakout performer in 2010, but never actually broke out. The team will look to expand his role as he continues to get more comfortable in the offense. He also represents the team’s best chance of limiting an aging Heap’s snaps in 2011.

It might look surprising at first to see McKinney listed ahead of a player like Gregg, but I think it represents an area where the Ravens can move forward. McKinney came on strong down the stretch, looking like a reliable cog on the defensive line. While Gregg made a fantastic play on Kansas City Chiefs RB Jamaal Charles in the AFC Wild Card playoff game at Arrowhead Stadium, he showed signs of aging as the season wore on, and it would be difficult to assume he could continue playing the majority of downs in the future.

26. OT Jared Gaither (UFA)
27. OL Marshal Yanda (UFA)
28. DT Terrence Cody
29. C Matt Birk
30. S Haruki Nakamura (RFA)

nakamura

My only gut instinct with Gaither is that the team won’t give him the type of premium price tag a top tier OT would probably expect. There’s an argument as to whether or not ANYONE should pay Gaither that price, but my guess is that someone will. The Ravens don’t want to see Yanda depart, but there’s a chance another NFL team will choose to offer him legitimate tackle money because he played the position in 2010.

The Ravens likely can’t be in position to overpay a player like Yanda, but they certainly to solidify their O-Line. Birk could still decide to retire; but even if he doesn’t the team has to make future plans for the position.

Cody showed SOME signs of being a future contributor during the 2010 season, but probably not enough that the Ravens can feel comfortable with expecting him to play every down in 2011. Nakamura could be very important, as he would be the most likely to step into the role should Landry depart in free agency.

31. RB Willis McGahee
32. DE Paul Kruger
33. LB Jameel McClain (RFA)
34. LB Tavares Gooden (RFA)
35. LB Dannell Ellerbe (ERFA)

ellerbe

I’m going to guess that McGahee won’t be getting the $19.7 million owed to him over the last three years of his contract. The most likely scenario probably involves McGahee not returning to Charm City next season. But if he’s willing to take a pay cut, there’s still a chance he could be a solid compliment to Rice behind an improved O-Line.

Paul Kruger started to show some signs at the end of the season that he might be able to contribute in the future. Unfortunately, that’s probably not the level of progression the team had in mind for the 2009 2nd round pick. 2011 could be a “make or break” type of year for Kruger.

And then there’s McClain/Gooden/Ellerbe. Does anyone else want to try to figure this out? The team clearly hoped one player in this group would separate themselves out at McDaniel College in Westminster during Training Camp in 2010, but that clearly didn’t happen. They also hoped one would separate themselves during the 2010 season. That didn’t happen either.

Of the group, McClain has probably shown himself to be the most steady, but is equally vulnerable against the pass. Gooden is probably the best against the pass, but there’s a joke in there about being the prettiest girl at fat camp. Ellerbe showed some capability of making plays in the backfield, but looks lost against the pass.

It looks like all three will end up returning in 2011. It also looks like the Ravens will be in a very familiar position when (if?) the season begins.

36. WR/KR David Reed
37. CB Fabian Washington (UFA)
38. S Tom Zbikowski (RFA)
39. LS Morgan Cox
40. OL Chris Chester (UFA)

chester

Whether or not David Reed can someday contribute at receiver is still to be determined. But he clearly came on as a kick returner until a concussion and a wrist injury cut his season short. He’ll have to stay out of trouble off the field, but it looks like the Ravens have a solid piece of the puzzle in Reed.

Washington made it clear earlier this week he wouldn’t return to the team unless his role was expanded. There’s a chance his role could be expanded if Carr and Wilson depart. Otherwise, it doesn’t look good. Zbikowski will almost certainly be back, the organization will now have to determine whether or not he is capable of replacing Ed Reed on a full-time basis whenever the future Hall of Famer walks away from the game.

Cox did a nice job of solidifying the long snapper position after beating veteran Matt Katula out during the preseason. The only concern surrounding Cox is how quickly he’ll be able to return from the torn ACL he suffered against the Cleveland Browns, but it appears as though he’ll be ready to go.

Chester will be another tough decision for the Ravens. If another team is willing to pay him to be an every down linemen, the organization will have to think hard before matching. Chester has shown himself as being reliable, but I think he’s only a starter in Baltimore if Yanda were to depart…or the Ravens were forced to keep Yanda at Tackle.

41. CB Cary Williams (ERFA)
42. OL Tony Moll (UFA)
43. LB Jason Phillips
44. QB Marc Bulger (UFA)
45. WR Donte’ Stallworth (UFA)

stallworth

Williams could be in a good spot this offseason. As an exclusive rights free agent, he could be in a good position to come back and get more playing time should some of the corners ahead of him sign elsewhere. He’s 6’1″, and the team liked him at least enough to hold on to him through a suspension to start the 2010 season.

Moll looks like a solid option to return and give the O-Line important depth. He’s capable of playing multiple positions to at least a solid level. He’s not good enough to be an every down player and it’s unlikely that another team will choose to pay him that way.

Phillips showed signs in 2010, probably enough that he will enter the 2011 season on the “good” side of the roster bubble. He certainly can’t be considered a lock at this point however.

Bulger will likely only return to the team if he isn’t offered a starting job elsewhere. With Jim Harbaugh now in charge of the San Francisco 49ers, it wouldn’t be stunning to see him consider Bulger. If the options are for backup jobs-or even jobs where Bulger would have to “compete” for a starting gig, it wouldn’t surprise me at all to see him return to Baltimore.

Some of the fan frustration surrounding Cam Cameron certainly centers around Stallworth, who seems unlikely to return. The Ravens need a speed receiver option, but it has to be a player they’ll trust to send out and stretch the field.

46. TE Dennis Pitta
47. LB Brendon Ayanbadejo
48. DT Arthur Jones
49. WR Marcus Smith (UFA)
50. DT Lamar Divens (RFA)

divens

The lack of involvement from Pitta in 2010 was disappointing, but he was often a victim of only being able to dress 53 players. His role should expand in 2011.

Ayanbadejo and Smith are interesting cases. Both are special teams players only for the most part, and the team will have to determine how much value they have. Smith is unlikely to generate much interest elsewhere, Ayanbadejo isn’t getting any younger. Both could return, but I don’t think they’re guarantees.

Jones and Divens are both solid players who have the “look” of Ravens defensive linemen. The only issue for new Defensive Coordinator Chuck Pagano is that he’s inheriting a bunch of these type of players. They’re big, they move fairly well and they can control gaps. Jones will clearly be back in 2011, Divens is the question mark.

51. LB Prescott Burgess (UFA)
52. RB Jalen Parmele (RFA)
53. OT Oniel Cousins (RFA)
54. WR James Hardy (reserve/future)

55. TE Davon Drew (ERFA)

ddrew

Burgess was a solid Special Teams contributor who was also able to get a handful of positive snaps defensively. There’s a chance he could generate interest elsewhere, we remember the New England Patriots grabbed him when he was available in 2009.

Parmele could stand to benefit from a McGahee departure, but probably wouldn’t be a great option as the top compliment to Rice.

Cousins gives the team a cheap reserve tackle. I can’t fathom anyone will be hot after him, so he seems like a player that will at least make it to Westminster with a chance to retain his job.

Hardy is interesting. He climbed the list after comments by Newsome in the team’s Season Review press conference. There was a reason Hardy was once a second round pick by the Buffalo Bills. There’s also a reason why he was unemployed a season ago. Either way, he’s 6’5″. The Ravens don’t have any other receivers of that size right now.

Davon Drew is the fourth of four TE’s on the roster. That would be a problem in a lot of places, but when the General Manager is a former Tight End, it bodes well for the chances of sticking around.

56. LB Sergio Kindle (ERFA)
57. DT Kelly Talavou (ERFA)
58. RB Matt Lawrence (RFA)
59. QB Hunter Cantwell (reserve/future)
60. WR Justin Harper (reserve/future)

harper

Kindle is such a question mark (as he continues to recover from a fractured skull) that it really doesn’t matter how much talent he might have. Until there’s reason to believe he’ll be able to return next season, he can’t be an assumed part of the 53 man roster.

If Talavou is able to come back healthy, he’s highly thought of by the organization. He could be the insurance that allows the team to let someone like Divens go elsewhere.

Lawrence is a good Special Teams player if he’s healthy. It will be an uphill battle for him to make the roster in Training Camp, especially after missing the entire 2010 season.

Cantwell is the team’s 3rd quarterback, but has only a cup of coffee worth of experience on an active roster with the Carolina Panthers in 2009. If the Ravens decided to go with three QB’s again, he’d have a decent chance to make the roster.

Harper is tall. Harper has only ever been on the active roster briefly. The team’s website apparently doesn’t know Harper wears number 82. That’s where we’re at with Harper.

61. OL Ramon Harewood
62.
OL Bryan Mattison (contract status unknown)
63. OL Daniel Sanders (contract status unknown)
64. RB Curtis Steele (reserve/future)
65. DE Albert McClellan (reserve/future)
66. CB Danny Gorrer (reserve/future)
67. OT Brady Bond (reserve/future)
68. OT Andre Ramsey (reserve/future)
69. LS Kevin Houser (UFA)

I’d provide a picture of Kevin Houser here, but even the team’s official site doesn’t have one.

If they all return (and are healthy); Harewood, Mattison and Sanders will compete to try to provide depth along the O-Line. Harewood could give the team an insurance policy if they choose to cut ties with Cousins, Sanders could prove to be the team’s center of the future when Birk hangs up the cleats. A local writer joked with me that Mattison had been “on scholarship” in recent seasons-that would probably come to an end now as his father (former Defensive Coordinator Greg Mattison) has departed for Michigan.

Steele has the look of a potential weapon at the next level. If he can work his way into the return game, he’d have a much better shot of making the roster.

McClellan is employed by the Ravens, as is Gorrer. I’m going to guess most of you didn’t know that. Neither has a realistic path to the active roster.

Bond and Ramsey are big. My guess is that both of them will find their way onto an active roster in the National Football League someday. It probably won’t be in Baltimore however.

It might not be fair for me to rank Houser last on this list. He’s a NFL player, which is more than anyone else in this final group can really say. But his ONLY chance of returning to the team is if Cox can’t return from his torn ACL. There’s a chance he might not be ready for the start of Training Camp, but it’s unlikely it will be a factor moving towards the 2011 regular season.

(Thanks to BaltimoreRavens.com for the pictures!)

-G

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Morning Reaction Tuesday Top 7 Ravens

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Morning Reaction Tuesday Top 7 Ravens

Posted on 18 January 2011 by Glenn Clark

Here are our Top 7 Baltimore Ravens from their 31-24 AFC divisional round playoff loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers Saturday at Heinz Field…

Glenn Clark’s Top 7…

7. Paul Kruger

kruger

6. Cory Redding

redding

5. Haloti Ngata

ngata

4. Todd Heap

heap

3. Ray Lewis

raylewis

2. Sam Koch

koch

1. Terrell Suggs

suggs

Drew Forrester’s Top 7…

7. Chris Carr

ccarr

6. Paul Kruger

kruger

5. Ray Rice

rice

4. Cory Redding

redding

3. Brandon McKinney

mckinney

2. Todd Heap

heap

1. Terrell Suggs

suggs

(Thanks to Getty Images, AP & Pittsburgh Tribune-Review for photos from Saturday’s game)

FINAL SEASON TOTALS:

Glenn:
29. Paul Kruger (1 point)
29. Morgan Cox (1 point)
29. Tavares Gooden (1 point)
26. David Reed (2 points)
26. Willis McGahee (2 points)
26. Le’Ron McClain (2 points)
23. Ed Dickson (3 points)
23. Marshal Yanda (3 points)
23. Kelly Gregg (3 points)
22. Ben Grubbs (4 points)
20. Terrence Cody (5 points)
20. Michael Oher (5 points)
18. TJ Houshmandzadeh (7 points)
18. Jarret Johnson (7 points)
16. Chris Carr (8 points)
16. Lardarius Webb (8 points)
15. Josh Wilson (10 points)
14. Fabian Washington (12 points)
13. Dawan Landry (13 points)
12. Cory Redding (14 points)
11. Billy Cundiff (18 points)
10. Sam Koch (23 points)
9. Ed Reed (25 points)
8. Todd Heap (27 points)
7. Derrick Mason (29 points)
6. Ray Lewis (35 points)
5. Terrell Suggs (37 points)
4. Haloti Ngata (45 points)
3. Ray Rice (46 points)
2. Anquan Boldin (49 points)
1. Joe Flacco (66 points)

Drew:
31. Ed Dickson (1 point)
31. Jason Phillips (1 point)
26. Paul Kruger (2 points)
26. Morgan Cox (2 points)
26. TJ Houshmandzadeh (2 points)
26. Jameel McClain (2 points)
26. Dannell Ellerbe (2 points)

25. Marshal Yanda (4 points)

22. Willis McGahee (5 points)
22. Le’Ron McClain (5 points)
22. Michael Oher (5 points)
20. Lardarius Webb (6 points)
20. Fabian Washington (6 points)
18. Brandon McKinney (7 points)
18. Cory Redding (7 points)
14. Terrence Cody (8 points)
14. Tavares Gooden (8 points)
14. Josh Wilson (8 points)

14. Jarret Johnson (8 points)
12. Dawan Landry (11 points)
12. Sam Koch (11 points)
9. Chris Carr (20 points)
9. Ed Reed (20 points)
9. Billy Cundiff (20 points)
8. Todd Heap (21 points)
7. Derrick Mason (22 points)
6. Haloti Ngata (32 points)
5. Ray Lewis (36 points)
4. Anquan Boldin (37 points)
3. Terrell Suggs (42 points)
2. Ray Rice (53 points)
1. Joe Flacco (77 points)

If you missed the explanation of why these players made the list on “The Morning Reaction” Tuesday on AM1570 WNST, hit the BuyAToyota.com Audio Vault here at WNST.net!

Flexing my mic muscles since 1983…

-G

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Live From Owings Mills: Harbaugh Says Cameron Will Remain Offensive Coordinator

Posted on 17 January 2011 by Glenn Clark

OWINGS MILLS, Md. — The Baltimore Ravens (13-5) returned to 1 Winning Drive Monday, less than 48 hours after their season ended with a 31-24 loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers (13-4) at Heinz Field in an AFC Divisional Round playoff game.

Head Coach John Harbaugh put to rest any rumors he would consider firing Offensive Coordinator Cam Cameron Monday.

“Cam Cameron is our offensive coordinator” said Harbaugh. “That’s how we’re going forward. I know Cam is a tremendous coach.”

Harbaugh indicated no other coaches would be at risk of losing their jobs based on the team’s performance.

“I really like our coaching staff” said Harbaugh. “I think we have a great, great coaching staff. Top to bottom-that includes all three coordinators, that includes every one of our position coaches, there’s not a guy that I’m disappointed in.”

The Ravens finished just 22nd in the NFL in total offense in 2010, despite the additions of WR’s Anquan Boldin, TJ Houshmandzadeh and Donte’ Stallworth in the offseason, as well as the draft selections of TE’s Ed Dickson and Dennis Pitta

Harbaugh said the statistics didn’t affect his decision process with Cameron.

“He’s the same guy that was the offensive coordinator three years ago when everybody said we (outperformed) our expectations, and even last year. We had a tough year statistically, but we did win a lot of football games with that offense. There are things we can do a lot better, and we’re going to go to work on those things.”

FOCUS ON FREE AGENTS: The Ravens enter an offseason which will be based in as much uncertainty as the league itself.

The team has 17 unrestricted free agents, eight additional restricted free agents and five exclusive rights free agents.

The team’s unrestricted free agents are Houshmandzadeh, Stallworth, DT Haloti Ngata, FB Le’Ron McClain, CB Josh Wilson, CB Chris Carr, OT Jared Gaither, OL Marshal Yanda, OL Chris Chester, OL Tony Moll, S Dawan Landry, CB Fabian Washington, K Billy Cundiff, P Sam Koch, QB Marc Bulger, LB Prescott Burgess and LS Kevin Houser.

The restricted free agents are S Tom Zbikowski, S Haruki Nakamura, LB Tavares Gooden, LB Jameel McClain, WR Marcus Smith, OT Oniel Cousins, DT Lamar Divens and RB Jalen Parmele. LB Sergio Kindle, DT Kelly Talavou, TE Davon Drew, CB Cary Williams and LB Dannell Ellerbe are exclusive rights free agents.

Harbaugh said Monday the team will focus offseason plans on retaining their own free agents.

“We’re going to try to get back as many of these guys as we possibly can” said the coach. “Because we like our players.”

Harbaugh said he had high hopes that many of the team’s free agents would return.

“Talking to the guys today, the vast majority of guys really want to be here.”

Coming off a second straight Pro Bowl selection and a season in which he was voted the team’s MVP, Ngata is the most important player to get back according to Harbaugh.

“I believe Haloti Ngata will be a Raven for life” said the coach. “That’s the goal. He’s told me he wants to be here. I believe the organization wants him here. It’s priority number one to have Haloti Ngata here.”

Houshmandzadeh said he’d like to return to Charm City, but admitted an expanded role would play a significant part in making his decision.

“I want to come back because I had fun here and I enjoyed myself” said the receiver. “I do want to be a starter. I do because that’s what I’ve been. It’s hard to adjust.”

Free agency cannot begin until owners and the NFLPA agree to a new Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA).

NOTES: Hear from Harbaugh, Houshmandzadeh, L. McClain, Houshmandzadeh, Stallworth, Cundiff, Koch, Washington, Wilson, Kindle, Bulger, QB Joe Flacco, LB Ray Lewis, LB Jarret Johnson, C Matt Birk and WR Derrick Mason now in the BuyAToyota.com Audio Vault here at WNST.net……L. McClain joined Rex Snider Monday on “The Afternoon Drive” on AM1570 WNST, that chat is also available in the Audio Vault……The Ravens will select 26th in the 2011 NFL Draft……A team source told WNST’s Drew Forrester a contract extension for Harbaugh should be considered “imminent”……The Ravens signed all seven practice squad players to reserve/future contracts. WR Justin Harper, RB Curtis Steele, CB Danny Gorrer, QB Hunter Cantwell, OL Andre Ramsey, OL Brady Bond and LB Albert McClellan joined former Buffalo Bills WR James Hardy in getting such contracts……Harbaugh, GM Ozzie Newsome, Team President Dick Cass and owner Steve Bisciotti will hold their season review press conference Thursday afternoon in Owings Mills

-G

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Overcoming a trainwreck weekend and starting anew …..

Posted on 17 January 2011 by Rex Snider

I cannot recall the last time I greeted a Monday with such enthusiasm. Like nearly every other sane person, I usually kick and scream my way into accepting the reality of another work week.

But, today is quite different. I just want to get started – on putting this past weekend and its disastrous chain of moments and events behind me. Indeed, this is the official beginning of my NEW YEAR …..

It doesn’t mean I won’t agonize, at times, over the Ravens loss in Saturday’s divisional playoff game with the Steelers. Heck, I will never forget it. But, as Ray Lewis said “you can only get better, that’s all you can do”; so, I’m inspired not to dwell on this defeat, either.

We’re always going to complain about officiating. And, Saturday’s holding penalty that negated Lardarius Webb’s returned punt for a touchdown represents an official’s ability to impact a game with poor decisions. That said, every team suffers a fair share of questionable penalties.

The game wasn’t lost on the Webb play, nor Anquan Boldin’s dropped touchdown pass, or T.J. Houshmandzadeh’s failure to extend the Ravens final drive. All three of these plays could’ve led to a win, but they certainly don’t define the loss, itself.

Everybody knows how the game was lost – TURNOVERS.

Surrendering the ball inside your own 25 yard line, on three consecutive possessions will likely seal one’s fate, right? Well, it will at least surrender a two touchdown lead.

Good teams can and will make such mistakes. Great teams, however, usually capitalize upon such blunders. Today, that’s really the essence of how the most disappointing loss in Ravens history can be summed up. The Ravens cracked the door, and the Steelers kicked it in …..

Today is not just a new beginning for me. It also marks the first day of the next chapter for the Ravens, Seattle Seahawks, Atlanta Falcons and New England Patriots. All of these franchises can and will make changes – you can bet on that.

Here, in Baltimore, the popular consensus is Cam Cameron will be the greatest casualty of this past season’s fallout. Whether it’s the questionable play calling, sporadic offensive production or unrealized potentials, the artist of the offensive schemes is the rumored soul to be paying with his job.

However, I will offer up an additional “mitigating” reason for making a change at offensive coordinator. Perhaps, we’re confronting a potential crossroads with Joe Flacco and his command of an offense. With three seasons completely in the books, a fair argument exists with this quarterback …..

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Part 2 – Aftermath of a meltdown…who stays, who goes, now what?

Posted on 17 January 2011 by Drew Forrester

What do you do when you’ve been to the post-season three straight years and you can’t make it to the Super Bowl?

You could do what the Orioles do every off-season when they’re lamenting how they once again went 65-97 and finished so far back in the A.L. East race they were lapped heading into September: You could complain about being in the AFC…or the AFC North.

But that’s not the Ravens style. The Ravens aren’t complainers. They’re in the AFC and they’re in the AFC North and they need to figure out the combination to this lock the Steelers have applied to them over the last three years.

And then you have the Colts. They’ll always be around with what’s-his-name at quarterback. Same with the Patriots. They’re not going anywhere, either. The Jets look solid. The Chargers, Raiders and Chiefs are all worthy of at least keeping an eye on.

So what do the Ravens do on the heels of another playoff dismissal at the hands of the Steelers? First, please understand I’m making all of these assessments and reactions based on the notion that there WILL be football played in 2011. If the CBA issue alters the NFL’s course of business next season, there’s obviously a chance some of the changes either WILL or WON’T happen based on the league’s new financial structure.

For starters, let’s get the coordinators discussion over and done with so we can move on to other pressing matters that are actually up for discussion.

As I reported via Twitter on Sunday around 8am, Ravens sources tell me John Harbaugh will retain all three of his coordinators in 2011.

That word was passed on to me by two team executives on Saturday night. On both occasions, the reaction was swift and similar in content. “John is very satisfied with his coaching staff and the coordinators aren’t going anywhere, unless, of course, they don’t want to return here.”

It would seem, with that information at our disposal, that Cam Cameron, Greg Mattison and Jerry Rosburg will all be on staff next season.

I opined a few weeks back that I thought Cameron would NOT be retained in 2011 if the Ravens didn’t make the Super Bowl. Personally, if I ran the club? Truth? I wouldn’t bring Cameron back. I think he showed time and time again that he either doesn’t have the right feel for the game from a down-and-distance standpoint or he’s just too much of a gambler for my liking when the clock and the score dictates a more conservative approach. Both of those examples played out on Saturday in Pittsburgh, where he followed through with an attacking mindset in the 3rd quarter even with Baltimore pinned deep in their own territory and losing momentum by the play.

But I don’t run the team and my opinion doesn’t mean jack-squat. John Harbaugh hires and fires his coaching staff and it appears he’s bringing his three coordinators back in 2011.

The ONLY point of contention with Harbaugh and his staff would be intervention from Steve Bisciotti, but one team source indicated on Saturday that Bisciotti too is pleased with Harbaugh and his various coaches and department heads.

“Now is not the time to overreact,” said a team executive in the hours after Saturday’s loss. “Having the owner step in and upset the apple cart after three successful seasons isn’t our way of doing things.”

OK, I’ll agree on that one. Three years ago John Harbaugh was hired to change the direction of the football team. He has done that, with help from Cameron, Mattison and Rosburg.

Now…here’s Drew’s opinion on what the Ravens need to do in 2011.

It’s simple in theory.

The Ravens need an infusion of speed.

They need a fast, stretch-the-field, reliable wide receiver.

They need a speedy, menacing defensive end who can put his hand in the dirt and chase after the quarterback.

And they’re in need of linebackers who can not only play the pass, but can chase the quarterback too when the blitz call has their number on it. Dannell Ellerbe, Jameel McClain and Tavares Gooden — all are decent-enough pro players. But none are the answer to the team’s linebacking issues.

The Ravens probably need a bigger, faster number one cornerback, but their defensive woes are more connected to pass rush than secondary coverage. With all due respect to the more-than-acceptable job that Chris Carr and Josh Wilson gave in 2010, neither of those guys (continued)

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Not “Great Enough” to Beat Steelers, So Ravens Now Forced to Evaluate Everything

Posted on 16 January 2011 by Glenn Clark

PITTSBURGH, Pa. — After suffering another crushing playoff defeat Saturday, Baltimore Ravens Head Coach John Harbaugh offered a telling postgame statement.

“We just weren’t great enough today to win that football game.”

His team certainly wasn’t.

It was one more crushing defeat for the Ravens (13-5) against the Pittsburgh Steelers (13-4), this time a 31-24 meltdown in the AFC divisional round at Heinz Field.

In three seasons under Harbaugh, the Ravens have suffered more than their fair share of such losses.

This one was likely the most crushing of the Harbaugh era, if not the most crushing in franchise history.

Leading 21-7 at the half, the Ravens appeared well on their way to a trip to the AFC Championship Game and well on their way to finally vanquishing their AFC North nemesis in the process.

Three turnovers later, the Ravens found themselves in a dogfight they wouldn’t win.

They were close.

For moments, they were great.

But in the end, Harbaugh was right. They weren’t great enough.

(Here’s the part where fans can feel free to add in the word “again.”)

Not being “great enough” is frustrating. It’s more frustrating when there’s no obvious answer regarding how the team can get there.

I posed the question to Harbaugh following the season ending defeat.

How does this team become “great enough”?

“That’s what we’ll have to study” responded Harbaugh. “We’ll go to work in the offseason and try to build our team the best way we can. Things come up and things happen, you’ve got to adjust and you’ve got to adapt. You never know on a journey what bend the road’s gonna take. You gotta overcome some adversity and some obstacles and we’ll have to build our team the best way we can to be great enough to these kind of games.”

I know what you’re thinking. It sounds like coach speak. It is to some extent. But there’s truth to it.

The truth is that the team really is close to being “great enough”.

On Saturday, it took a blown 14 point lead, those three turnovers, crucial late drops from WR’s Anquan Boldin & TJ Houshmandzadeh and a miraculous 58 yard pass from Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger to WR Antonio Brown for the Ravens to be eliminated.

They were about as close to finally getting past the Steelers as possible without actually picking up a victory.

I asked Harbaugh after the game if after another crushing defeat he still believed the team was close to being “great enough”. He agreed, but he added one more thought.

“We’ve got a lot of work to do.”

That’s the reality. The reality is that the Ravens are unbelievably close to turning the corner.

On Saturday night, they actually came to a stop right at the corner. They just couldn’t quite make the turn.

But turning the corner is still going to take a lot of work.

The Ravens have played three seasons with Harbaugh as head coach. In two of those seasons, losing came directly at the hands of the Steelers.

In breaking news (but not necessarily first reported by WNST), the Steelers aren’t coming off the schedule next season.

To become “great enough”, the Ravens are going to have to figure out a way to get past the Steelers.

As DT Haloti Ngata told me after the game, “something has to change, because it’s always them.”

There will be plenty of theories tossed around about how the Ravens can get over the hump.

Many in the fanbase will point their frustration towards Offensive Coordinator Cam Cameron, whose offense struggled to get out of their own way for the bulk of the 2nd half in the Steel City. Others will direct their frustration towards Defensive Coordinator Greg Mattison, who continued to employ a three man rush in 3rd and long situations, including the 58 yarder that set up the game winning touchdown.

Personnel wise, the Ravens will have clear needs in their offensive line and pass rush, but will likely have to re-examine their receiving corps and defensive backfield as well.

Some changes could be out of their hands. Asked about his future after the game, WR Derrick Mason said “I’m not gonna think about it right now.”

C Matt Birk, S Ed Reed and TE Todd Heap could all be forced to similarly consider whether or not they will indeed return to the NFL next season.

FB Le’Ron McClain, RB Willis McGahee and Houshmandzadeh have never hid their displeasure with their roles in Cameron’s offense. Boldin has been less vocal, but has often looked frustrated.

McClain and Houshmandzadeh are joined in (at least potential) free agency this offseason by other valuable contributors like WR Donte’ Stallworth, OT Jared Gaither, OL Marshal Yanda, CB’s Chris Carr & Josh Wilson, S Dawan Landry, P Sam Koch, Ngata and more.

And then there’s the quarterback.

A week after finally putting together a “breakthrough” playoff performance in a Wild Card round win over the Kansas City Chiefs at Arrowhead Stadium, Joe Flacco returned to a more “pedestrian” level in the loss to the Steelers.

He was 16/30 for 125 yards with a touchdown, an interception and a lost fumble.

On the team’s final drive of the game he wildly overthrew Heap and threw a very poor deep ball to Mason before getting sacked. On 4th and long he threw a decent pass but it was dropped by Houshmandzadeh.

Following the loss, fans immediately took to Facebook and Twitter to ask a familiar question.

“Does Flacco have ‘it’?”

GM Ozzie Newsome and Harbaugh will have to answer that question this offseason.

Harbaugh wasn’t just throwing around coach speak when he addressed what it would take to reach greatness. He was offering a truthful reflection regarding what the organization was going to have to this offseason.

The answer just wasn’t quite as fulfilling as some fans would want.

They were unbelievably close Saturday night. They were close enough that the Steelers needed a near miracle to win at home.

Yet this offseason will be one where they have to evaluate all aspects of their organization in order to determine what it will take to finally get past the Steelers.

Unreal.

At halftime, they were 30 minutes away from one of the greatest moments in franchise history.

In those 30 minutes, the collapse wasn’t suffered by the players and coaches alone.

The collapse was suffered by the entire organization.

-G

NOTES: Hear from Harbaugh, Flacco, Mason, McClain, Ngata, Houshmandzadeh, LB Ray Lewis, WR Marcus Smith, CB Lardarius Webb, LB Terrell Suggs and RB Ray Rice following the loss now in the BuyAToyota.com Audio Vault here at WNST.net……Rice played despite flu-like symptoms Friday night, he said following the game he hadn’t eaten solid food in two days……The Ravens will return to 1 Winning Drive in Owings Mills Monday to clean out their lockers. Harbaugh is scheduled to meet with the media

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Live From Owings Mills: Carr Misses Practice, Harbaugh Says He’ll Play

Posted on 13 January 2011 by Glenn Clark

OWINGS MILLS, Md. — The Baltimore Ravens (13-4) held their final open practice Thursday before Saturday’s AFC divisional playoff showdown with the Pittsburgh Steelers (12-4) at Heinz Field.

WR Donte’ Stallworth (illness) returned to practice Thursday and was a full participant, but the news wasn’t as good for two injured Ravens.

CB Chris Carr (thigh) did not participate in practice Thursday after being listed as a limited participant Wednesday. WNST.net learned from a source Carr pulled his hamstring during Wednesday’s practice.

When asked about Carr’s status, Head Coach John Harbaugh said simply “he’ll play” before announcing he wouldn’t field any further questions about injuries.

Carr wouldn’t confirm as quickly.

“I’m feeling allright” said the cornerback. “It’s later in the year, so nobody is feeling great; I guess. I’m planning on playing. I’m doing everything to prepare the same way. Hopefully I’ll be ready to go.”

Carr wouldn’t confirm the injury was a pulled hamstring when asked by reporters.

C Matt Birk (knee) did not participate in in practice for a second straight day Thursday.

All three Ravens who missed the Wild Card round win over the Kansas City Chiefs at Arrowhead Stadium due to injury are expected to be available Saturday. WR/KR David Reed (wrist), S Tom Zbikowski (back) and LB Tavares Gooden (shoulder) were full participants for a second straight day Thursday.

For the Steelers, S Troy Polamalu (ankle) returned to practice and participated fully. CB Bryant McFadden (abdomen) was also a full participant.

DE Aaron Smith (triceps) was a limited participant.

NOTES: Hear from Harbaugh and WR TJ Houshmandzadeh now in the BuyAToyota.com Audio Vault here at WNST.net……P Sam Koch joined Drew Forrester Thursday on “The Morning Reaction” on AM1570 WNST, that chat is available in the Audio Vault as well…..TE Ed Dickson is scheduled to join Forrester Friday morning at 7:25……32 degrees and snow showers are expected in the Steel City for game time Saturday according to Weather.com/The Weather Channel……The Ravens will hold a walkthrough Friday before traveling to Pittsburgh Friday night. Friday’s walkthough is closed to the media

-G

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A Ravens-Steelers Week Propaganda Roundup

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A Ravens-Steelers Week Propaganda Roundup

Posted on 13 January 2011 by Glenn Clark

Always my favorite part of every rivalry, the propaganda surrounding Saturday’s AFC divisional playoff showdown between the Baltimore Ravens and Pittsburgh Steelers at Heinz Field has reached a fever pitch.

The pictures, videos, jokes, etc. are FANTASTIC.

We’ve all seen the classics. Every time the teams play, we’re used to seeing pictures of some of our favorite Steelers fans…

biggirl

huge butt

stillerfan

fan

And there’s always one particular Heath Miller/Todd Heap bit that everyone enjoys. It’s a little offensive, but it’s the Steelers we’re talking about…

heapmiller

This particular version of this picture is more Cleveland Browns-related; but I’ve certainly been texted a version of this that has the dog wearing a purple collar in the past…

dog

Joe Evans sent me a pretty good variation of the above that I really like…

evans

UPDATE: Perry Hall High School alum Billy Apostolou just gave me another one. Winner…

toilet

Leave it to Ravens LB Terrell Suggs to kick things up a notch. After getting everyone riled up out at McDaniel College in Westminster during Training Camp by wearing THIS shirt…

suggs

…He whipped the 1 Winning Drive facility out in Owings Mills into a frenzy when he donned this one Wednesday…

suggsfinger

New this year? A Ben Roethlisberger take on an Antoine Dodson classic. Thanks Barry Aparicio…

hideyourkids

Which lead to this fantastic musical variation from our friend Samantha Sankovich…

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5Q6cq_Ta4vE[/youtube]

And that lead to a funny segment Daniel Tosh did with Dodson on Tosh.O the other night on Comedy Central. Sorry for the poor video quality from YouTube…

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zNQ9k4sF4qc[/youtube]

As we’ve said all week, Big Ben was never convicted of raping anyone.

In an unrelated story, “No means No.”

It was unrelated. I promise.

Gil from Perry Hall and Tim Kaiser both let me in on a shot of the Steel City that I hadn’t seen before…

gil from Perry Hall

Nick Persico hit me up with this one. I like it…

hate

Here’s an update from Kathleen Smero’s Facebook page. I think my girlfriend needs this shirt…

smero

It’s not really propaganda, but it’s always a good memory. As Luke Jones shared this week at WNST.net, our favorite Ravens-Steelers memory involves former LB Bart Scott…

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_ZoDDYkoKi4[/youtube]

Well, I guess we like this toss from QB Joe Flacco to WR TJ Houshmandzadeh toss too…

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0rISOdUdpTk[/youtube]

Former WNST intern Michael Pomerantz took the Wiz Khalifa song “Black and Yellow” (which had damn well BETTER be banned from Charm City radio stations this week) and turned it into the much more appealing “Black and Purple.” You can download it here, it sounds like this…

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sekV7BeT4wg[/youtube]

Our friend Rob Fahey (you’ll remember his band “The Ravyns”) has a new tribute to Roethlisberger this season. He joined Drew Forrester and I in studio Friday on “The Morning Reaction” on AM1570 WNST to play it…

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sF3lf5G6xro[/youtube]

In the meantime, my buddy Rich in Westminster couldn’t help but notice that the broken nose handed to Roethlisberger looks an awful lot like the result we’re hoping the Steelers will be handed Saturday…

ben

My buddy Kevin Richardson over at the Baltimore Sun put together a pretty good Ray Lewis remix video worth checking out…

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u2AlZXUI4VA[/youtube]

Our friends at B-More Bird’s Nest also put together a video this week…

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rOO81_FYomU[/youtube]

Our own Derek Arnold also passed this along to me…

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CSXEFyIhd9E[/youtube]

And he directed me to a funny picture Kissing Suzy Kolber posted yesterday. I apologize for the language…

steelers

UPDATE: Scott Price just sent me this one. I love it….

price

When Flacco was told about the existence of this “Last Supper” picture, he got nervous. I don’t blame him…

last supper

After seeing the photo, maybe some folks around the state of Maryland are praying this prayer…

Our Flacco who art in Pittsburgh, hallowed be thy name.

Thy Bowl will come. It will be won, in Dallas as it is in the Dome.

Give us this Saturday, our weekly win, give us Touchdown passes but do not let others pass against us.

Lead us not into frustration, but deliver us to the Superbowl.

For thine is the MVP, the best of the NFL and the glory of the Purple & Black now and forever.

Amen.

That’s not bad. Neither is this joke our buddy Ron Pierro posted in Facebook…

“A Ravens fan, a Bengals fan and a Steelers fan are climbing a mountain and arguing about who loves his team more. The Bengals fan insists he is the most loyal. ‘This is for the Bengals!’ he yells, and jumps off the side of the mountain. Not to be outdone, the Ravens fan is next to profess his love for his team. He yells, ‘This is for the Ravens!’ and pushes the Steelers fan off the mountain.”

Here’s another joke pulled from Facebook…

“On the seventh day, God said ‘Let there be football.’

And it was good.

Later that day, God said ‘Let there be one team to rule the others and set the standard for excellence.’

With that, he plucked stars from the heavens and placed it on the helmet of black and gold.

God said, ‘Let it be called The Pittsburgh Steelers.’

Later that day, God said ‘Even Steelers need a**holes.’

So he made their fans.”

UPDATE: One of my best friends in the world…Sara Mulieri…just posted a weather forecast for Pittsburgh Saturday. I like it…

***WARNING*** The National Weather Service has issued a Flash Flood Warning for Pittsburgh PA & surrounding areas for Saturday the 15th of January. This warning will be in effect from 4:30pm until 8:30pm. This Flash Flood will be caused by the tears of the Steelers Fans as they realize the Blackbird Nation has ruined all hopes of another Superbowl appearance. Crying will intensify as the game goes on.

This is a good start, but I know there’s more. If you have something you’d like to add. Please email me (glenn@wnst.net), pass along via Facebook (search “Glenn Clark”) or via Twitter (@WNST).

I love this stuff.

Flexing my mic muscles since 1983…

-G

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This is Baltimore, you can help in winning this game …..

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This is Baltimore, you can help in winning this game …..

Posted on 12 January 2011 by Rex Snider

As we stand just a few days away from this latest showdown between the Baltimore Ravens and Pittsburgh Steelers, many of us are starting to imagine a proposed sequence of events unfolding at Heinz Field.

If you share my optimistic “feel” for this matchup, you’ll likely envision a game that features some very grueling and aggressive play from both sides of the field, right? I think we all expect to see the typical hardnosed style of football, which has been branded by the NFL’s most intense rivalry.

There will be at least a couple broken plays where Roethlisberger escapes Ravens defenders and finds his tight end for a crucial first down …..

On the flip side, Polamalu will likely get sniffed out on one of his blitzes; leaving a Houshmandzadeh or Mason wide open downfield …..

Don’t get too overconfident, I’m sure that even a “bearded” Flacco suffers a smashing visit or two, from Mr. Harrison ….

We just need to hope Lewis, Ngata, Suggs and company can deliver a more punishing effort against the Steelers offense ….

Whatever it takes to win the contest, right? After all, a trip to the AFC CHAMPIONSHIP GAME for a 2nd time in 3 years hangs in the balance. Obviously, we all feel a guarded optimism as Saturday inches even closer.

However, as this week comes to an end and a final result is realized in this latest chapter of slugfest football, the truth is life will go on. Win or lose, the sun will rise on Sunday morning and every day afterwards.

And, this is where today’s story and message becomes much more meaningful than anything we can feel from a football game …..

Last Saturday, my friends, Scott and Heather Speert lost their Westminster home to the one enemy homeowners fear most; a FIRE. Their loss included every furnishing, belonging and article of clothing owned by the family …..

Scott and Heather are blessed with the greatest gift that could emerge from such a tragedy; their son and daughter escaped the fire unharmed. However, the reality is their lives are in an extremely vulnerable state, right now.

They are surrounded by family and comforted under a warm roof by those who love them most. But, they have an immense challenge before them, as they cope with trying to rebuild their lives and ultimately a home in the harshest time of year.

The winter’s cold – which delivered a few inches of snow, last night, is one of the greatest challenges the Speert’s will face in dealing with the immediate aftermath and fallout from losing their home. As I said, they lost every piece of clothing – except what they wore upon their backs !!!!

But, these circumstances also serve as a very vivid representation of what WE AS A COMMUNITY can do to help the Speerts in their greatest time of need …..

They need clothing …. and they need it NOW.

The cost will not be minimal, as the Speerts are faced with furnishing both inner and outerwear for a total of four family members. But, as I’ve said, it’s an absolute necessity in these coldest months of the year.

I’m inspired with hope by my knowledge and experience in this WNST community. I know you’re generous and sensitive to the needs of neighbors. At WNST, we’re your community sports source, and you’re our stakeholder, right?

Together, WNST and the Baltimore community have done very special things – especially when it comes to helping our needy and ill. Today, we have special opportunity to help a different cause; a neighbor family that has simply been beset by tragedy.

In truth, the Speerts find themselves in circumstances that could affect any family, in Baltimore and beyond. Last week, they had the things many of us are taking for granted. Today, all of those things are gone.

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