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Ravens DE Paul Kruger as ready for Falcons as he ever would be

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Ravens DE Paul Kruger as ready for Falcons as he ever would be

Posted on 11 November 2010 by Ryan Chell

Paul Kruger
The Baltimore Ravens kick off the NFL Network Thursday night schedule of the 2010 season tonight against the Atlanta Falcons, and no one is more excited than Ravens defensive end Paul Kruger, who joined Drew Forrester on “The Morning Reaction” Wednesday to discuss a battle between two similar teams atop their respective divisions.

“I think they are a great team,” Kruger told Forrester. “We have been watching tape as much as we can and you know I have nothing but good things to say. They do a lot of things well.”

The Ravens-along with the Falcons-are coming off a short week as Baltimore defeated the Dolphins 26-10 on Sunday, and had to prepare for a first-place team in Atlanta (6-2) in only several days of work.

“It’s tough,” Kruger said. “It’s definitely mentally and physically taxing but at the same time we are used to playing and the coaches have done a great job of getting us ready. You know, it has basically been full-go since we got done with the game on Sunday.”

But Kruger said they are ready to go.

“I think we are pretty prepared mentally,” Kruger said. “I think we are there and the trainers and staff have done an excellent job getting everyone ready for the game this week. A little more stretching and massaging, and more recovery this week with the real quick turnaround.”

The expectations for Kruger have been high since he was drafted in the second round of the 2009 NFL Draft out of Utah. Not seeing much action in his rookie year due to his inexperience playing on special teams and not being up to standards when it came to conditioning, Kruger has seen action in three games this year and has been more of a need for the Ravens after Baltimore released Trevor Pryce early in the year.

Kruger said that he has put  a lot of effort toward improving that aspect of his game, wanting to be that pass rusher that the Ravens expected him to be when they drafted him high in last year’s draft.

“That is definitely something I have improved on a lot this off-season, and a real strength for me this year as a lighter guy is playing inside, kind of playing outside, and moving to different positions.”

And now healthy from a knee injury that he suffered early in October, he expects to be on the field each game out and he wants to perform in each of those games.

“I’m pretty sure I’m going to be playing from here on out unless I do something wrong or stop playing the way I can. The coaches have done a great job keeping me positive and informed me of everything going on.”

“And if anything is going to change, I am pretty much aware of it before anyone else is.”

And hopefully Kruger can make a play in Thursday’s game like he did in his only significant action in 2009.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uVLPgq74yg8&feature=related[/youtube]

Tune into WNST and WNST.net as we continue to follow the Ravens throughout the 2010 season! WNST-We Never Stop Talking Baltimore Sports!

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Ranking The 53: A Bye Week Look at Ravens Roster

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Ranking The 53: A Bye Week Look at Ravens Roster

Posted on 27 October 2010 by Glenn Clark

As you’ll remember, I spent most of Training Camp ranking the players on the Baltimore Ravens roster as we tried to determine the Top 53 that would make the final roster.

As we’ve reached the team’s Bye Week, I thought I’d use a similar format (as opposed to a Report Card format) to grade the way the 53 men currently on the team’s roster have played thus far this season. Here’s my list…

53. OL Scott Kooistra-He hasn’t seen the field and he hasn’t been around very long. I’m not sure where else he could be ranked.

52. DT Arthur Jones-The team isn’t dissatisfied with the rookie DT from Syracuse. The issue for Jones is that the Ravens are so deep on the interior of their D-Line that they haven’t been able to get Jones on the field yet. Until then, he won’t find himself any higher on the list.

51. WR Donte’ Stallworth-Stallworth’s broken foot has kept him entirely out of game action thus far, and he only returned to practice last week. The team expects him to be on the field Week 9 against the Miami Dolphins at M&T Bank Stadium. Once he gets out there, we can see where he’d rank on this list.

50. QB Marc Bulger-If Marc Bulger never sees the field and stays somewhere near #50, GM Ozzie Newsome and Head Coach John Harbaugh will be thrilled-as it means nothing will have gone wrong with the team’s quarterback. This is exactly where they want him.

49. DT Lamar Divens-It seems like Lamar Divens will always be the first name listed when the “who could you cut to make room for…” conversations happen. That being said, he hasn’t been cut yet this season, and has even seen the field at times. He’s a really good player-even if it hasn’t quite been evident yet this season.

48. TE Dennis Pitta-His offensive contributions (1 catch, 1 yard) have been next to nothing, but Pitta has been a solid special teams contributor and has only been inactive for one game. No one in Owings Mills is unhappy with their rookie TE from BYU thus far.

47. CB Cary Williams-He’s been more of a Special Teams contributor than he’s been a corner thus far this season-and he hasn’t been perfect. His block in the back penalty against the New England Patriots was certainly frustrating; and Harbaugh made it known. Williams’ size (6’1″) could make him helpful at CB at some point, but the team has to trust him there.

46. OT Oniel Cousins-The team didn’t really hide from the fact that they were disappointed by how long it took Oniel to get back on the field after a preseason concussion. At this point, I don’t think they can hide from the disappointment in his on-field performance; as he’s struggled to get playing time at all.

45. LB Prescott Burgess-He’s remained a steady player on Special Teams, and that’s what the team has wanted from him. It’s easy to be down a player who doesn’t contribute at his natural position, but Burgess has been solid.

44. LS Morgan Cox-Matt Katula’s struggles a season ago were at least somewhat to blame for early season misses from then kicker Steve Hauschka. I think that’s why it wasn’t terribly surprising when ST Coordinator Jerry Rosburg and company decided to go with Cox this season. That being said, Cox has been low on a few FG snaps, and has gotten some help from holder Sam Koch. He needs to be a bit steadier.

43. WR Marcus Smith-Smith is another player whose contributions have been limited to Special Teams thus far, which means his mistakes are often much more memorable than anything he does well. He had a tough day in Foxborough, but he wasn’t the only one.

42. DT Terrence Cody-What a frustrating player Terrence Cody has been this season. There’s moments where it looks like things are clicking for him, but there have been many more moments (in the 4 games where he’s played) where he looked absolutely lost. He didn’t record his first NFL tackle until the Week 7 win over the Buffalo Bills.

41. LB Jason Phillips-Phillips may have earned a couple of extra spots on the list simply thanks to the hit he and Edgar Jones delivered to Denver Broncos WR/KR Demaryius Thomas (see below) in Week 5. Phillips is in a tough spot, as the Ravens are deep at ILB. That being said, he’s made an impact in the opportunities he’s had-which is exactly what the team wanted.

ravensbroncos

40. DE Paul Kruger-I’m placing Paul Kruger in the top 40, but I’ll note that he’s played in only two games thus far this season-two he may have never played in had the team not released Trevor Pryce earlier in the year. His ability to play in the wedge has helped get him on the field, but the kick return hasn’t exactly been great with or without him.

39. LB Brendon Ayanbadejo-Ayanbadejo is another player who I’m squeezing into the Top 40 despite limited work. It looks like Ayanbadejo is going to be able to continue to be an effective player on Special Teams; but his ability to help is pass coverage will determine where he eventually ends up on this list.

38. RB/KR Jalen Parmele-It’s easy to look at the struggles Parmele has had over the last two weeks and be down on his season; but it cannot be dismissed that he’s averaged over 20 yards per return this season. The Ravens have to figure out what’s going wrong with their kick return. My guess is that they’ll find out that the returner isn’t the biggest problem. My second guess is that it won’t mean Parmele will be the returner moving forward anyway.

37. S Ken Hamlin-When the Ravens released Hamlin to make room for Cary Williams earlier in the season, it looked like a confirmation that Hamlin was simply holding Ed Reed’s roster spot. About a week later we found out that wasn’t exactly the case. Hamlin has been effective on Special Teams and has offered something to Greg Mattison’s defense as well-at least until he was left inactive for the first time Week 7. That could be bad news moving forward for Hamlin.

36. WR David Reed-After looking like he might not be able to play Special Teams at all, Reed developed into a very trustworthy gunner for the Ravens over the first few weeks of the season and has taken more snaps as a returner during practice as the season has gone on. That being said, it is interesting to note that Reed was held out of Sunday’s game against the Bills. It had at least SOMETHING to do with a thigh injury, but it will be interesting to see if it was the injury ONLY, or if the injury was just part of it.

35. TE Ed Dickson-Dickson is an interesting case. In the game against the Broncos, his 58 yard 1st quarter catch was eye-opening. His 6’4″ frame clearly makes him an attractive downfield and jump-ball target. But his holding penalty later in the game was an example of exactly why OC Cam Cameron may not fully trust him enough to keep him on the field. My guess is that Dickson is headed towards some level of a breakout performance.

34. LB Tavares Gooden-I get the feeling that I could be showing a little bit too much fairness to Gooden, who was adequate in the two games he played before injuring his shoulder. He probably hasn’t done enough to justify the position, but I’ll keep him here for now. How he bounces back from another setback (and whether or not he can return in Week 9) could have a lot to do with his future in Charm City.

33. CB Josh Wilson-This is really tricky as well. Wilson has by no means been a liability on the field; but he’s done little to prove himself thus far. He’s missed two games (a healthy inactive when the Ravens played the Pittsburgh Steelers at Heinz Field; an ankle injury kept him out of the loss to the Pats at Gillette Stadium), and he hasn’t been perfect as a returner. But when Secondary coach Chuck Pagano need an answer late against the Bills, Wilson stepped up.

32. WR TJ Houshmandzadeh-Truth be told, I’m completely befuddled by TJ Houshmandzadeh’s short tenure in Baltimore. I don’t think he’s been misused, I don’t think Joe Flacco has failed to look for him or get him the ball, I don’t think he’s necessarily been awful in doing his own job (although I absolutely think he’s given half efforts to catch the ball-which was abundantly evident when the Ravens played the Cincinnati Bengals at Paul Brown Stadium). I’m not sure what Houshmandzadeh’s role is moving forward as Stallworth returns. No matter what it is, his catch to beat the Steelers will never be forgotten.

31. OL Tony Moll-Moll has shown himself to be a particularly reliable reserve on the O-Line; he’s been the team’s top reserve this season. In fact, he was on the field at RT when the Ravens put together their final TD drive to get the first win of the Harbaugh era in the Steel City.

tonymoll

30. DT Brandon McKinney-McKinney has quickly become the team’s top reserve along the D-Line, and has played VERY well he’s seen the field this season. He’s probably better as a NT or as an interior tackle in a 4-3 defense, but he’s been outstanding filling multiple roles for DL coach Clarence Brooks.

29. S Haruki Nakamura-Nakamura’s playing time has decreased since the start of the season, but it’s not because he’s performed poorly. Nakamura was both the 3rd safety and the nickel corner in the Ravens’ season opening Monday Night Football win over the New York Jets, but the improved health of the team has limited his role. His play has been effective throughout the season no matter his role.

28. CB Lardarius Webb-After missing the season opener at New Meadowlands Stadium, Webb has been up and down in the six games he’s played. At times he’s been spectacular, including two big pass breakups in the win over the Steelers. At other times he’s been less than spectacular, including the loss to the Bills. Webb stepped in for Zbikowski at PR against the Bills as well, but is unlikely to remain a long term option there.

27. DL Cory Redding-This is somewhat of a tricky judgment as well. Redding has played well, but was supposed to be able to get off the field in obvious passing situations this season to allow for a better rush end option. Sadly, the Ravens don’t have a better rush end option. Redding has just one sack on the season, and that number is unlikely to get much bigger.

26. LB Dannell Ellerbe-If Dannell Ellerbe didn’t have to play in pass coverage, he probably would find himself in the Top 15. Of course, there are a number of LB’s in the NFL who could say the same thing. Ellerbe has been solid but not spectacular, and has not exactly shown himself to be an “answer” for the Ravens at JACK LB.

25. OL Chris Chester-The Ravens would certainly prefer to have Chester coming off the bench and taking snaps at multiple positions; but the back injury to Jared Gaither has forced him into a starting role at RG. Chester hasn’t been perfect, but at no point has he been any sort of liability.

24. LB Jameel McClain-McClain has thus far been the most consistent answer at JACK LB, but he probably hasn’t solidified the position the way the team may have hoped he would. McClain has been solid, but has not been able to make too many plays in the backfield. Opponents have also been surprisingly able to run the ball with effectiveness (none more than Cleveland Browns RB Peyton Hillis), which has to fall on the entire group-including McClain.

23. OL Marshal Yanda-No one has forgotten about Jared Gaither in Baltimore, but Marshal Yanda has solidified the RT position after a few early season struggles. Yanda is still better served playing at the Guard position, but he’s shown his athleticism and ability to both pass block and run block at the RT position.

22. S Ed Reed-There’s little argument for me ranking a player who has seen the field for just one game this high; but the argument exists. Of course, it is a very short argument-based solely on the fact that despite playing in just one game, Reed leads the team in interceptions. He looked like the Ed Reed of old against the Bills, giving the organization every reason to believe he’ll continue to play at a high level.

21. RB Willis McGahee-We might never TRULY know why McGahee didn’t see the field against the Pats, but he’s been very good every other time he’s seen the field. McGahee has been a solid back in both short yardage and goal line situations, is an effective blocker, and can take consecutive handoffs. If for some reason Ray Rice were to get hurt, the Ravens would be fine at RB.

mcgahee

20. C Matt Birk-Birk might not play at a Pro Bowl level necessarily anymore, but he’s still very good. He had some struggles early on this season, but he’s played very well in recent weeks. The Ravens may not have a center of the future on the roster necessarily, but they’re still just fine right now.

19. DT Kelly Gregg-Gregg has been just as steady as always this season; tallying 30 tackles and taking on double teams the same way he’s done since his breakout year in 2002. The only potential knock on Gregg has been a lack of plays made in the backfield.

18. S/PR Tom Zbikowski-The Ravens have been very happy with the play they’ve received from Zbikowski this season-especially while Reed missed the first six weeks of the season. Fans haven’t been thrilled with Zbikowski as punt returner-but since inexplicably running the ball backwards in East Rutherford, he’s been solid in that role as well. Zbikowski missed Game 7 with a bruised heel, but isn’t expected to be out for an extended period of time.

17. S Dawan Landry-I feel like we keep getting back to the Buffalo game with Ravens defenders-but that tends to be what happens when a team gives up 34 points at home. Landry had been very solid until that game however, and has 52 tackles through seven games this season.

16. CB Chris Carr-The best thing to happen to the Ravens in the wake of the Domonique Foxworth injury has been the play of Carr. Carr has been particularly steady starting opposite Fabian Washington. The team would probably like to see him improve a bit on the one interception and five pass deflections he’s posted thus far this season.

15. LB Jarret Johnson-The only disappointment with Johnson this season has been his lack of involvement in the pass rush. He’s tallied just half a sack thus far to go with 28 tackles. He’s been good, he’s just not quite played to the level he played at a season ago when he compiled six sacks.

14. K Billy Cundiff-The name Shayne Graham has LONG been forgotten at 1 Winning Drive. Cundiff has been incredible on kickoffs, tallying 18 touchbacks this season. He had entered the season with just 11 touchbacks for his CAREER. Cundiff is also 10/12 on field goal attempts; with one of the two misses coming in the goofy open end of the stadium at Heinz Field. There really isn’t much more that can be said about Cundiff, he’s been tremendous this season.

13. P Sam Koch-While I’m at it, Koch has been outstanding this season as well. He’s pinned punts inside the 20 yard line 19 times already this season. Some of his yardage numbers are a bit off this season, as the Ravens have had better field position in general this season. Oakland Raiders P Shane Lechler is still probably having a better season; but Koch has to at least be in consideration for a trip to Hawaii.

12. OT Michael Oher-Oher won’t want to hear the name Jermaine Cunningham any time soon, but otherwise he’s avoided a sophomore slump. Oher has answered almost all questions about his ability to play the LT position, even if he isn’t quite Jonathan Ogden just yet. He LOOKS like he’s offsides more than he actually IS offsides, with the only exception being the Patriots game.

11. LB Terrell Suggs-There’s a misconception that T-Sizzle is having a bad season. That’s simply not true. Suggs has played very well at times, and has clearly developed into a very complete all-around LB. The problem is-the Ravens don’t necessarily need an improved all-around LB on the outside. They REALLY need a pass rushing monster, and Suggs (3.5 sacks) just isn’t that guy right now, nor may he ever be again.

suggs

10. G Ben Grubbs-Grubbs has been the team’s most consistent Offensive Lineman thus far this season, and is setting himself up nicely for a potential Pro Bowl trip. As the team’s longest tenured O-Lineman, Grubbs has been significantly important for the team in maintaining continuity in a season where they have been forced to move pieces around.

9. TE Todd Heap-The Ravens thought that drafting two tight ends would help keep Heap fresh by getting him off the field for a handful of snaps every game. They also thought that signing multiple receivers in the offseason would help free up space on the field for Joe Flacco to find Heap. They’ve been right about both things. Heap has still taken a beating this season (thanks in part to Patriots safety Brandon Meriweather), but he’s on pace to have at least his best offensive season since 2006.

8. CB Fabian Washington-Don’t start cursing at your computer screen just yet. I am well aware that Lee Evans treated Washington like Sidney Rice would Frank Walker in the Ravens’ loss to the Bills. However, in the six games before that-Washington was a significant part of why the Ravens had one of the top pass defenses in the NFL (now ranked 8th for the record). Washington’s future standing on this list will of course have everything to do with how he bounces back from what was a dreadful Week 7 performance.

7. WR Derrick Mason-Remember him? Mason might not be on pace for a 1,000 yard season; but when they’ve needed him-he’s been ready to make plays. He was the team’s leading receiver in two very tough road games (at Pittsburgh and at New England), and he caught the only touchdown of the game in the Ravens’ Week 2 loss in the Queen City. Mason is just as reliable as always, and still catches the football…with the exception of the handful of times the team has decided for some goofy reason to try to throw jump balls in the direction of his 5’10″ frame.

6. RB Ray Rice-Fantasy football owners may not be quite as happy with Ray Rice’s performance as I am; but he’s been very good this season. He’s on pace to finish the season with over 1,400 yards of total offense; and should be able to remain fresh the more the Ravens work McGahee into the offense. Rice was expected to be a Top 3 caliber player on this list, but the lack of a breakaway burst appears to be hurting him right now. If that re-appears, he might show himself to be the type of MVP candidate he was a season ago.

5. LB Ray Lewis-Let me get this out of the way. Ray Lewis has not played like the future Hall of Fame LB he is in every game this season. He looked downright human against the Browns. That being said, the season opener on MNF was a vintage performance from one of the greatest defenders in league history, and Lewis locked up the Steelers game with a late interception of Charlie Batch. He tallied 15 tackles in the win over the Bills as well. San Francisco 49ers LB Patrick Willis may be the unquestionable greatest LB in the game today, but Ray Lewis has not fallen terribly far behind.

4. FB Le’Ron McClain-This one may catch a few folks off guard, as the personal foul penalty in Foxborough and the lack of carries probably stick out in the minds of most fans more than anything else, but Le’Ron McClain is playing as well at his position as almost anyone else on the Ravens roster this season. RB Coach Wilbert Montgomery graded McClain’s performance against the Browns as the best by a Ravens player this season, and Offensive Coordinator Cam Cameron told me that in terms of the total package-blocking, rushing and pass catching-McClain was absolutely the best fullback in not only the AFC-but the entire NFL.

3. QB Joe Flacco-If it weren’t for the dud in Cincy, Flacco may be #1 on the list. Unfortunately, the game in Cincy still counts. Flacco has been outstanding for the better part of the season-despite strange criticism from fans and a handful of analysts alike. He’s on pace for another season with 3,000+ yards and 20+ touchdowns and has limited his turnovers in games BESIDES Cincinnati. Flacco still needs to figure out that Ray Rice is just 5’7″; which has to be the most frustrating part of his game at this point.

2. WR Anquan Boldin-Anquan Boldin has been everything the Ravens had hoped he would be and more. He’s been a reliable target, he’s shown the type of toughness that originally made him a star with the Arizona Cardinals, and at times (the Browns game sticks out) he’s even added an explosive level to his game. He unfortunately doesn’t get to matchup against Eric Wright every week; but he’s on pace for 1,000+ yards and double digit TD’s no matter who he’s up against. Some fans in Baltimore who weren’t familiar with his game thought the Ravens were getting Larry Fitzgerald; but for those who knew what type of player Boldin was-he’s been ABSOLUTELY as good as advertised if not better.

1. DT Haloti Ngata-There is simply no better player on this football team right now than Haloti Ngata. There’s almost no argument any longer about who the best interior D-Lineman is in the NFL either. The only unfortunate part about the season for Ngata has been the fact that the lack of a rush end has forced the Ravens to send Ngata outside and hope he could get to the quarterback. He’s capable, but it’s by no means where he is best used. When he does get in the backfield, there’s no quarterback (or other player at any position) that’s happy to see him.

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

-G

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Live From Owings Mills: John Harbaugh’s Weekly Press Conference

Posted on 11 October 2010 by Glenn Clark

OWINGS MILLS, Md. — The Baltimore Ravens (4-1) returned to work Monday at 1 Winning Drive after an impressive 31-17 win over the Denver Broncos Sunday at M&T Bank Stadium. Head Coach John Harbaugh addressed the media as the team shifted focus from their big win over the Broncos to their impending Week 6 trip to Foxborough to face the New England Patriots (3-1) at Gillette Stadium. Here are some of the highlights from Harbaugh’s press conference…

-Harbaugh offered little new information when it comes to CB Josh Wilson, who injured his hamstring on Brandon Lloyd’s second TD catch Sunday. “I hope it’s a short-term injury” said the coach, adding “it’s not a major hamstring pull or anything like that.” Harbaugh also touched on the decision to switch from RB Jalen Parmele to Wilson at Kick Return, saying “we’ll just see going forward” who is the returner. Harbaugh added “I think both of those guys have done a good job and we’re just looking for a big play.”

-Harbaugh all but dismissed the chances of the Ravens re-signing LB Antwan Barnes, who was released by the Philadelphia Eagles Saturday. “I haven’t had a conversation with (Barnes)” said Harbaugh. “We don’t really have a roster opportunity right now for that. (I) wouldn’t be opposed to it-Antwan’s a good person, a good player, and obviously has done some good things here-but right now there’s no way roster-wise that we could pull that off.” The Ravens traded Barnes to Philly on September 4th for a conditional pick in the 2011 NFL Draft. The Eagles are believed to be interested in bring Barnes back to the roster this week, similar to the move the Ravens attempted to pull off with DE Trevor Pryce two weeks ago before he was signed by the New York Jets.

-Harbaugh admitted that the potential returns of S Ed Reed, LB Brendon Ayanbadejo and RB Matt Lawrence from the Physically Unable to Perform (PUP) list following the Week 6 game against the Pats will have to factor into the team’s decision process with OT Jared Gaither, who has first the first five weeks of the season with a back injury. Harbaugh acknowledged “the season is only 16 weeks, so obviously at some point in time we have to make a decision.” Harbaugh also reiterated that Gaither “is a really good player” and “a quality offensive tackle” who “can make our team better.” Harbaugh said he had a lengthy conversation with Gaither last Friday, but doctors have not come to an agreement about exactly what Gaither is dealing with. Harbaugh said “there’s a chance (Gaither) could get back sometime in the next few weeks.”

-Harbaugh offered praise and criticism for rookie TE Ed Dickson, who lead the team in receiving Sunday with 58 yards despite making just one catch. “He was on the field quite a bit (Sunday) and did some pretty good things blocking” said Harbaugh. “He had the holding penalty, he was disappointed with that-as was I.” Harbaugh admitted “it’s our job to get him on the field more. Here’s a guy that’s got ability, he’s worked really hard, he’s very dangerous in the passing game. We need to try to get him out there more and more.”

NOTES: Hear Harbaugh’s press conference NOW in the BuyAToyota.com Audio Vault here at WNST.net……Dickson joined Drew Forrester Monday on “The Morning Reaction” on AM1570 WNST; that chat is also available now in the Audio Vault……the Ravens are off Tuesday (the NFL’s mandatory day off), they will return to the practice field Wednesday in Owings Mills.

-G

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4-1 Record Anything But Deceptive for “Balanced” Ravens

Posted on 10 October 2010 by Glenn Clark

BALTIMORE — Winning four of your first five games is usually an awfully good way to start a season.

The Baltimore Ravens improved to 4-1 on the season with a 31-17 win over the Denver Broncos (2-3) Sunday at M&T Bank Stadium. The 4-1 record leaves the Ravens alone at the top of the AFC North, with a tie-breaker win over their rival Pittsburgh Steelers already in hand.

When the Maryland Terrapins beat the Duke Blue Devils to improve to 4-1 on October 2, I wrote a post-game column saying the Terrapins’ record may well be “deceptive.” I pointed out that the Terps had not played a particularly imposing schedule, that they had played the majority of their games at home, and that they had relied on semi-fluky big plays to find success in games they had won. I tried to point out that the team had indeed won four of their first five games, but didn’t strike me as a team that was worth getting particularly excited about.

On the absolute opposite side of the spectrum, the Ravens’ 4-1 record is not deceptive whatsoever. The team not exactly been perfect over their first five games, but they’ve been particularly representative of the 4-1 record they sport.

They’ve won when QB Joe Flacco has been less than perfect (the Week 1 win over the New York Jets at the Meadowlands), they’ve won when they’ve failed to get much of anything going running the ball (like the Week 4 win over the Steelers at Heinz Field), they’ve won when their proud run defense has been gauged (Week 3 against the Cleveland Browns in Charm City) and they’ve won when they’ve given up big yards to an explosive passing attack (Sunday against the Broncos).

In playing five games, they’ve probably deserved to win four.

On Sunday, the Ravens showed any doubters why they belong amongst the elite teams in the AFC and the entire NFL. They set the pace for the game offensively, with their defensive and special teams units following suit. When all was said and done, the Ravens had outgained their opponents on the ground by a count of 233 yards to 39; claimed 28 first downs to Denver’s 16, and held the ball for nearly 13 minutes more than their opponent.

A late Kyle Orton to Brandon Lloyd TD strike made the final score look respectable, but it was an absolutely dominant performance.

A dominant performance that came on the heels of a grueling four game stretch to open the season where the Ravens had to play three games on the road and three games against fellow AFC North opponents. After that stretch and Sunday’s game, the Ravens have earned every bit of their 4-1 record; a record that ties them for the best record in the league.

Head Coach John Harbaugh wasn’t quite ready to proclaim his team’s greatness following Sunday’s game, but was particularly optimistic. “I think we have an opportunity to be a really good team” said Harbaugh. “That kind of a football team is in us. We wanted to play like that (Sunday). I think in many ways we did.”

Other members of the team were equally optimistic. LB Ray Lewis said the start was a “good feeling”, adding that the Ravens are “just playing overall complete team football right now.” Flacco said “we feel like we’ve got a pretty special team here, and we’ve just got to continue to work hard to get better each week.”

After putting together his first 100 yard rushing game of the season (he finished with 133 yards and two touchdowns), Rice was asked whether the Ravens were an “elite” team. He had a unique response.

“I think we’re a balanced team.”

Maybe that’s the best possible way to explain it.

The Ravens are a good football team in almost every area right now. While not perfect, Flacco has played very well over the last three weeks-including his first big final minute drive to beat the Steelers. Rice, backup RB Willis McGahee and FB Le’Ron McClain have shown themselves to be formidable even when not necessarily explosive, with McGahee adding 10 carries, 67 yards and a touchdown in limited action Sunday. The WR corps has not given the Ravens the explosive numbers some fans had hoped for, but Anquan Boldin, Derrick Mason, TJ Houshmandzadeh and TE Todd Heap have all stood out in different games or at different times. Even rookie TE Ed Dickson led the Ravens in receiving yards Sunday, although all of his came on a single 58 yard grab on the Ravens’ opening possession.

The Offensive Line has come together despite playing without standout tackle Jared Gaither. The defensive line has held together through bumps and bruises and the departure of Trevor Pryce. DT Haloti Ngata was fairly described by Harbaugh last week as “playing as well as any defensive player in the league.” The linebacking corps has allowed just one 100 yard rusher (Peyton Hillis in the aforementioned Cleveland game) and the secondary entered Week 5 as the league’s top passing defense.

Heck, even Special Teams have continued to improve. Punter Sam Koch’s already exceptional season continued Sunday with four punts for 174 yards. Kicker Billy Cundiff connected on his only field goal attempt; but also added four touchbacks on five kickoffs. While neither the kick return or punt return units have created any points for the Ravens, the team’s kickoff coverage unit managed to force a much needed turnover (the only turnover the team forced in the game) when LB Jason Phillips leveled Broncos WR/KR Demaryius Thomas and Ravens S Ken Hamlin picked up Thomas’ fumble.

It’s been impressive in every aspect of the game. The team has been exactly as balanced as Rice mentioned, and it’s why they’ve shown themselves to be completely representative of their 4-1 record.

Thus far, they’ve done it without Gaither, Pro Bowl safety Ed Reed, Special Teams ace Brendon Ayanbadejo and speed receiver Donte’ Stallworth, all of whom they still expect to return. On Sunday, they did it without reserve DE Paul Kruger and reserve LB Tavares Gooden, both of whom the team also expects to return.

They might not be the best team in football. They’re likely still in need of an upgrade in their pass rush, and their offensive play-calling has still left something to be desired at times.

But at 4-1, they’re not a fluke. Instead, they’re legitimately amongst the best teams in the league, and very deserving of the title “Super Bowl contender” (which I will admit I stuck on them myself after the Week 4 win in the Steel City).

In Week 6, they’ll have another chance to prove how good they are when they visit Foxborough to face the New England Patriots; who they split a regular season and postseason series with last season at Gillette Stadium. Despite parting ways with star WR Randy Moss, the Patriots remain amongst the most significant organizations for a team to measure itself in the NFL.

When the Ravens beat the Pats in the Wild Card round of the playoffs last season, it was considered an upset.

They’re good enough now that an encore performance would have to just be considered a win.

-G

Hear from Harbaugh, Flacco, Rice, Ngata, McClain, Dickson and CB Chris Carr following Sunday’s win NOW in the BuyAToyota.com Audio Vault here at WNST.net!

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Wednesday Morning’s Crabs and Beer

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Wednesday Morning’s Crabs and Beer

Posted on 06 October 2010 by Glenn Clark

Happy Wednesday!

It’s a Happy Wednesday for me because I again get to name a couple of “Greatest Song(s) of All Time This Week.” I live for this stuff.

The NEW TGSOATTW is “Runaway” by Kanye West and Pusha T. He did the song on Saturday Night Live this past weekend…

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yaGT26DZFdE[/youtube]

And here’s the RETRO song…John Lennon’s version of “Stand By Me.” I saw a commercial last night for the “Power to the People” issue that’s hitting stores and it featured this song prominently. His version is REALLY underrated…

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

Of course, the greatest EVER version of “Stand By Me” is the one the Playing For Change gang did…

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Us-TVg40ExM[/youtube]

Let’s see what everyone has to say…

1. WNST.net’s Ryan Chell says Ravens cut CB Prince Miller, signed OL Scott Kooistra

This was clearly the move Ozzie Newsome and company had intended to make to get Trevor Pryce back this week. Of course, that was before Rex Ryan (rightfully) jumped in.

Scott Kooistra likely won’t be active Sunday when the Ravens face the Denver Broncos. If I’m guessing-unless there’s an additional injury along the O-Line, Scott Kooistra doesn’t get active at all this season. But he does give the Ravens some flexibility, which is much needed at this point.

As far as Prince Miller is concerned, the team wanted him on the practice squad when they originally cut the roster to 53. Unfortunately, the New England Patriots stepped in. It looks like they’re going to make it work this time; which will allow the undersized corner to develop; and will give them a reserve returner should Tom Zbikowski (and/or others) get hurt.

Logical decision. Not life-changing, but logical. I could use a lesson in this type of decision-making.

2. National Football Post’s Aaron Wilson says OT Jared Gaither not cleared to play in visit to California back specialist

So…more good news, huh?

The word is that after visiting Dr. Robert Watkins in Los Angeles; Gaither is “improving”, but will remain week-to-week.

GREAT.

John Harbaugh and company will eventually have to make a tough decision regarding Gaither. If he doesn’t REALLY show improvement in terms of getting back on the football field (one day of limited practice doesn’t represent improvement), they’ll have to consider placing him on Injured Reserve.

If I’m guessing, Jared Gaither will play for the Ravens at some point this season. But I’m certainly not getting the type of response that makes me feel good about that guess.

3. BaltimoreRavens.com’s Mike Duffy says DE Paul Kruger confirmed to miss at least two weeks

He’ll be missed, as Greg Mattison will have to flip around Haloti Ngata, Cory Redding and Brandon McKinney to adjust to not having Kruger.

And since the Ravens could use the help at rush end, I have to suggest they consider Lucia Dvorska. I mean…just take a look. (Thanks Guyism!)

dvorska

4. ESPN.com has Ravens 6th in power rankings

As we discussed on the show this morning, this is particularly tough. The reality is that power rankings JUST DON’T MATTER. Like…at all. This isn’t college football’s AP poll. Power ranking can have no bearing on what happens in the NFL whatsoever.

But with that being said, it is ABSOLUTELY a bit goofy that the Pittsburgh Steelers and New York Jets are ranked ahead of the Ravens despite the Ravens having defeated both teams on the road this season.

Not getting worked up about it. It simply doesn’t matter. It’s just a bit goofy, that’s all.

5. b’s Matt Vensel says RB Willis McGahee romantically linked to “Real Housewives of Atlanta” star

So now you know.

A couple of things before we move on from the Ravens…

-We’ll be out in Owings Mills today, as the Ravens return to work at 1 Winning Drive. We’re expected to hear from Harbaugh, Joe Flacco, Ray Rice, Ray Lewis and others; as well as conference calls with Kyle Orton and Josh McDaniels. Make sure you’re following us on Twitter (@WNST) for the quickest updates throughout the day.

-Make no mistake-the Pats trading Randy Moss to the Minnesota Vikings for a 3rd round pick is GOOD NEWS for the Ravens. They’re much better off not having to face Moss when they wander up to Foxborough for a Week 6 showdown at Gillette Stadium. It doesn’t mean they’ll necessarily win, as the Pats will STILL have Tom Brady under center-but it does make matchups a bit more in the Ravens’ favor.

6. MLB.com’s Thomas Boorstein says Adam Jones believes ‘accountability and credibility’ reasons why Orioles improved under Buck Showalter

The question is-why does Adam Jones think there wasn’t accountability under Juan Samuel or Dave Trembley? If he’s simply trying to blame those managers and not accept responsibility for himself and his teammates, he’s not being fair.

The other question is-why was Adam Jones touring Bristol, Connecticut; New York; and Seacaucus, New Jersey Tuesday? Why was Adam doing appearances on MLB Network, ESPN Radio and SI.com?

Is it because the O’s have such a hold of the Charm City market that they simply don’t need the promotion? It’s good promotion for ADAM-no doubt about that. But how did it help the Birds?

It’s a legitimate question.

7. WNST.net’s Drew Forrester gives highest O’s grades to Ty Wigginton, Luke Scott, Jeremy Guthrie and Corey Patterson

As I told him this morning, it’s a bit laughable to give Ty Wigginton and Corey Patterson the same grades as Luke Scott and Jeremy Guthrie; but I’m all for Drew looking dumb.

My highest grades this year? They mostly went to Molly Simms. (Thanks Don Chavez!)

mollysimms

8. The Sun’s Jeff Zrebiec and Dan Connolly say Juan Samuel to interview with Milwaukee Brewers, Pittsburgh Pirates

I’ll be rooting for Juan Samuel…but my guess is that he’s not REALLY a good manager. It will be much harder if he ends up in the Steel City than if he ends up in Milwaukee too.

Did you miss former Orioles broadcaster Buck Martinez (now with TBS) previewing the Rays/Rangers series and talking playoffs in general with Drew Forrester Wednesday on “The Morning Reaction” on AM1570 WNST? Make sure you head over to the BuyAToyota.com Audio Vault here at WNST.net today to check it out. Other things you can hear in the Audio Vault include…

  • Jeff Passan (Yahoo! Sports)-who went around the postseason and also discussed his new book “Death of the BCS” with Drew Wednesday
  • DJ King (Washington Capitals enforcer)-who previewed this weekend’s start to the regular season with Drew Wednesday
  • Jon Ladd (Baltimore Municipal Golf)-who discussed Ryder Cup and breast cancer awareness with Drew Wednesday
  • Jamey Eisenberg (CBSSports.com)-who talked Fantasy Football with Rex Snider Tuesday on “The Afternoon Drive”
  • Josh Thomson (Strikeforce fighter)-who previewed his Saturday night clash against JZ Cavalcante in San Jose with Thyrl Nelson and John Rallo Tuesday on “The MMA Report”
  • Pete Prisco (CBSSports.com) and Gary Mihoces (USA Today) who each joined Thyrl Tuesday on “The Mobtown Sports Beat” to discuss what they saw at Heinz Field Sunday

It’s all in the Audio Vault, so I’ve got your day planned out again for you. YOU’RE WELCOME BALTIMORE!!!

9. Winston-Salem Journal’s Dan Collins says Wake Forest coach Jim Grobe won’t pick starting QB between Tanner Price and Skylar Jones for Saturday’s Navy game until later in the week

No matter who plays QB for the Demon Deacons, Ken Niumatololo’s Midshipmen MUST get going offensively. This was supposed to be the best group of talent they’ve had since the Roger Staubach era. It hasn’t looked like it thus far…

10. UMTerps.com says Maryland soccer topped #2 UConn as Ludwig Field

Awesome. But then again, awesome is basically what we expect from Sasho Cirovski’s Terrapins.

To celebrate a big Terps win, here’s a completely unrelated picture of Jewel Santini! (Thanks The Smoking Jacket!)

santini

And finally, I leave you with this.

Thanks to both former WNST intern Meredith Morris and my sorta-roommate Aubrie Veydt for pointing this out on Facebook (search Glenn Clark, add the best looking guy you find). I think the kid’s name is Keenan Cahill. He’s a YouTube superstar.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qVSsYvC6O8s[/youtube]

Flexing my mic muscles since 1983…

-G

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Ravens cut Prince Miller again; sign former Browns and Bengals tackle Scott Kooistra

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Ravens cut Prince Miller again; sign former Browns and Bengals tackle Scott Kooistra

Posted on 05 October 2010 by Ryan Chell

The Ravens made a move Tuesday that last week probably would have brought on the return of defensive end Trevor Pryce, but with Pryce’s departure to the New York Jets Thursday, the Ravens were forced to go in another direction.

The Ravens instead released corner back Prince Miller, the rookie free agent out of Georgia, who is on his second stint with the Ravens in a few months, and signed offensive tackle/guard Scott Kooistra, a 6’6”, 335 tackle out of NC State.

Scott Kooistra

Kooistra was a two-year starter for the Wolfpack his junior and senior years in Raleigh.

Kooistra, 29, has played in 84 career games in his eight-year NFL career, and has started one. He was a seventh-round draft pick of the Cincinnati Bengals in 2003, and made his debut against the Broncos on September 7th of that year.

From 2003-2008, he saw action in at least 10 games a year. In 2009, he was waived by the Bengals only to sign later with the Cleveland Browns when they decided to place quarterback Brady Quinn on injured reserve.

He was cut and resigned twice in the span of a week at the end of the 2009 regular season for the Browns last year, and after spending all of the off-season with Cleveland, he was finally cut for good by the Browns on September 4th.

He is expected to provide more depth at the tackle position especially given the injuries to starting right tackle Jared Gaither, who is still nursing a thoracic disk injury, and backups Tony Moll and Oniel Cousins-who also have been injured at some point this year.

Miller, who earlier in the preseason was brought in as a rookie free agent to not only contribute in the return game as well as providing depth at corner, was not seeing much action this year after being re-signed off the Patriots practice squad after the Ravens initially cut Miller when they finalizing the roster in the first week of September.

And because the Ravens signed him back off the Patriots practice squad on 9/15, he was required to spend three weeks on the Ravens active roster before a move could be made.

With Prince Miller still highly regarded by the Ravens, he likely will be placed on waivers with the hope that he will clear waivers and be able to be placed on the Ravens practice squad.

Tune into WNST and WNST.net as we continue to track the Baltimore Ravens throughout the 2010 season! WNST-We Never Stop Talking Baltimore Sports!

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Ravens-Steelers Purple Haze Chat 1pm Today!

Posted on 03 October 2010 by Glenn Clark

PITTSBURGH, Pa. — Greetings from Heinz Field, where the Baltimore Ravens (2-1) will face the Pittsburgh Steelers (3-0) in an AFC North showdown at 1pm today. The game can be seen live on CBS (WJZ 13 locally) with Jim Nantz and Phil Simms on the call. We will be chatting about the game in our “Purple Haze” chat, you can join us HERE.

Here are today’s inactives…

Ravens-
WR Donte’ Stallworth (foot)
CB Prince Miller
CB Josh Wilson
DT Arthur Jones
LB Edgar Jones
DL Cory Redding (concussion)
LB Tavares Gooden (shoulder)
OT Jared Gaither (back)

This of course means that RB Ray Rice (knee) is active; and DL’s Paul Kruger and Terrence Cody are both active for the first time this season. We are working under the assumption that Kruger will make the first start of his NFL career at DE as Trevor Pryce signed with the New York Jets earlier in the week.

Steelers-
CB Keenan Lewis
RB Jonathan Dwyer
CB Crezdon Butler
OT Tony Hills
DT Chris Hoke (knee)
OT Trai Essex (ankle)
WR Emmanuel Sanders
LB Thaddeus Gibson

Steelers coach Mike Tomlin announced earlier in the week that Charlie Batch will start at QB as Ben Roethlisberger serves the final game of his 4 game suspension for violating the league’s conduct policy. OL Doug Legursky will start at RG in place of Essex. The Steelers placed QB Dennis Dixon (knee) on Injured Reserve yesterday; they signed DT Steve McLendon to the active roster. McLendon is active today.

Ed Hochuli and crew will officiate today’s game. The Ravens will wear their white tops and white pants, the Steelers will wear their black tops and yellow pants. (They’re not gold. They’re yellow.) The sky in the Steel City remains is overcast, but Weather.com (The Weather Channel) says harder rain won’t be coming until after the game is over.

Come chat with us!

-G

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Live From Owings Mills: Rice Practices Again, Appears Likely to Play Sunday

Posted on 01 October 2010 by Glenn Clark

OWINGS MILLS, Md. — The Baltimore Ravens (2-1) took the field at 1 Winning Drive Friday morning, just two days away from an AFC North showdown with the Pittsburgh Steelers (3-0) at Heinz Field.

Four Ravens missed practice Friday. WR Donte’ Stallworth (foot) and LB Tavares Gooden (shoulder) had already been ruled OUT for Sunday’s game. OT Jared Gaither (back) joined them after missing a second straight day. He had returned to practice Wednesday, but wasn’t able to work the rest of the week and won’t play Sunday.

Head coach John Harbaugh confirmed to the media that Gaither’s injury has “been a mystery” to the Ravens, and that they are sending him to see Los Angeles-based specialist Dr. Watkins Monday for re-evaluation. “Our doctors have looked at it, and they don’t see it in there right now” said Harbaugh. “We’ve got to find out from the best experts what exactly is causing that problem.”

DL Cory Redding (concussion) missed practice Friday after “working” on Thursday; he is listed as questionable for Sunday’s game. Redding told reporters he had not been cleared to return to football after suffering a concussion in last Sunday’s win over the Cleveland Browns.

Redding described himself as a “gameday decision”, adding “if it’s right, then I’ll be on the field Sunday. If it’s not, then I’ve got to be smart and take it easy.” He also said that while he was listed as a limited participant in practice Thursday, he was really just “observing” and had not practiced yet since the concussion.

RB Ray Rice (knee) participated in practice for a second straight day, he now appears likely to start Sunday despite being listed as questionable. Harbaugh said of Rice “I’m feeling pretty good…there’s a good chance he’ll play” Sunday.

LB Edgar Jones (thigh) returned to practice after missing Thursday. CB Chris Carr (thigh), LB Jarret Johnson (back) and OT Tony Moll (hip) were all on the field; they were all limited in practice Thursday. Moll and Jones are questionable to play Sunday; Carr and Johnson join C Matt Birk (back), OL Chris Chester (back), and TE Todd Heap (shoulder) as probable.

The Steelers’ Injury Report is significantly lighter. QB Dennis Dixon (knee), G Trai Essex (ankle) and DT Chris Hoke are all out for Sunday’s game; none practiced at all this week.

HARBAUGH OKAY WITH HOUSHMANDZADEH COMMENTS: WR TJ Houshmandzadeh suggested disappointment in his offensive role during an interview with MASN Thursday, but Harbaugh is not concerned about the comments.

“I think he wants to play, he wants reps, he wants the ball” said the coach. “He’s a competitive guy. He’s out here in practice taking all of the look team reps that we’ll let him take. We’ve got to pull him out. He just loves to play, and those are the kind of guys you want on your team.”

Harbaugh went on to say “we don’t worry about that stuff. That stuff is just talk and chatter and guys wanting to be part of things. When they step between the lines, we watch that. It’s how hard guys play and how committed they are to doing all the little things. I think all of our receivers are doing that.”

NOTES: Hear from Harbaugh, Redding, DE Paul Kruger and DT Terrence Cody NOW in the BuyAToyota.com Audio Vault here at WNST.net……Harbaugh said he wasn’t disappointed in the decision of former DE Trevor Pryce to sign with the New York Jets, noting he made “a business decision. Harbaugh described Pryce as “a guy I like so much” and said Pryce “was a big part of what we’re doing here.”……Ed Hochuli’s crew will officiate Sunday’s game……Both Kruger and Cody appeared to be working with the first team kick return unit during the portion of practice open to media Thursday. Neither has been active yet this season, but Kruger said “I expect to play Sunday.”……According to Weather.com/The Weather Channel; the high in Pittsburgh Sunday will be 54 degrees, there are scattered showers in the forecast. Harbaugh said the Ravens are prepared for the rain; “we’re built for all conditions.”

-G

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Live From Owings Mills: As Ravens Prepare for Steelers, Rex Ryan Grabs Another Raven

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Live From Owings Mills: As Ravens Prepare for Steelers, Rex Ryan Grabs Another Raven

Posted on 30 September 2010 by Ryan Chell

On a rainy, dreary day heading out to Owings Mills Thursday, a cloud seemed to hang over the heads of the Ravens as news broke out early this morning that Trevor Pryce, who was released by the team Wednesday, reportedly has signed a deal with the New York Jets.
Trevor Pryce

Linebacker Terrell Suggs wrote on his Twitter account early this morning that Pryce had moved on to join Rex Ryan, his former defensive coordinator here in Baltimore. It was believed that the Ravens had released Pryce with the intention of bringing him back next week after Sunday against Pittsburgh when he was healthy, but with Pryce a Jet, his time as a Raven will have come to an end.

Written in marker on the white board in the Ravens locker room, it said-“R.I.P Trevor…You’re a comeback good man”. Suggs in the locker room before the afternoon practice said that the move “shocked” him and that he wished him all the best and to “call him from the big city.”

I’m shocked. I’m stunned. I’m still waiting from a call from him. I called him a few [unpleasant] words…just joking. That’s my man…all the best,” Suggs said.

If Pryce’s time in Baltimore is over as it appears to be, he will have finished his career as a Raven with 26 sacks in five seasons, including a team-high 6.5 last season. He is fourth on the active career sacks list with 90 quarterback drops, and his 13 sacks in 2006 were third most in team history for a single season.

Defensive coordinator Greg Mattison had not heard about the move when he spoke to the media this morning, but he did make sure to wish him all the best for his time under his guidance.

“We loved having here and he was a tremendous addition in our meeting room and we wish him the best of luck,” Mattison said.

Status of Ray Rice

Running back Ray Rice made himself available to the media Thursday after being barred from talking to reporters Wednesday.

He was also available to head coach Cam Cameron and the offense Thursday, as he practiced in pads Thursday afternoon with the offensive line, as he tested his bruised knee making as many cuts as possible.

He also wore a red , non-contact practice jersey that are usually designed for the quarterback and has been used by the likes of safety Ed Reed in the past.

Terrell Suggs, when entering the practice arena, saw Rice immediately and called out to Rice, saying “you look cute in that [expletive] jersey.”

His status is still uncertain for Sunday, and while Rice did say he was feeling better, he said it’s up to the coaching staff to decide and he said he wouldn’t risk it if it isn’t 100%.

“At the end of the day, Sunday is the ultimate test. And that decision will be up to coach. Let’s see how I look in practice, but right now, I feel great.”

Rice said the injury occurred due to a bad plant, and it will be interesting to see how things go on Sunday against an even more intimidating defense in the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Rice is confident he wont miss a snap of action.

“My initial thought I was scared,” Rice said. “But then it was new life…and I don’t expect to miss any time.”

“I’m an optimistic guy. If I’m able to cut and I’m able to run…if I’m able to do the things I can do and be the Ray Rice I can be, there’s no question whether I’ll play or not.”

In fact, he has all the confidence in the world that the Ravens coaching and training staff are not only going to make sure he is healthy, but that he will be as safe as can be if he suits up against the Steelers.

“I don’t think there is any risky point when you find out it’s a bruise. Any knee situation is scary. Any guy that has to deal with a small tweak, you do have to take precautionary measures. I think our team does a great job of that.”

Ravens Avoid the Flood by Going Indoors

Other Ravens practicing Thursday included tackle Tony Moll, who was limited in practice Wednesday with a hip injury. He suited up in full pads and was active in the pass blocking drills.

Donte Stallworth(foot) and Tavares Gooden(shoulder), and Edgar Jones(thigh) were the only regular Ravens to not practice, but a strange no-show was tackle Jared Gaither, who is battling a thoracic disk injury.

Gaither was limited in practice yesterday and it was the first time he had done so since the first week of training camp. With him missing practice Thursday, he could have had a setback in his recovery from his disk injury. WIth Moll and Oniel Cousins both back and healthy, Gaither may miss his fourth game of the year.

The Ravens have said throughout the week that he would only be active if he were to play every snap, and with Gaither appearing to not be at full strength, it is likely he will not play on Sunday or will be a game-time decision at the latest.

The Ravens are going to have their hands full dealing with two top-of-the-line pass rusher in Lamar Woodley and  former Defensive Player of the Year James Harrison, who are devastating pass rushers around the edge.

“We just have to block them up,”  Marshal Yanda said, who could be starting his fourth game of the season at right tackle. “That sounds pretty simple. It sounds overly simple. But it is. We just need to put a hat on a hat and block them when they come and use good technique.”

“If I get help, I get help. If I don’t, I don’t. You always plan on not getting help, cause most of the time you don’t.”

Offensive coordinator Cam Cameron said those two have been in the back of his mind as the week has gone on.

“They’re obviously two of the best in the league. You come up with what you think is a sound plan,”  Cameron said. “Sometimes you double them. Sometimes you single them. Sometimes you triple them.  And then you rely on the trust between the quarterback and the receivers to get the ball out quickly.”

Defensive end Paul Kruger(shoulder) practiced on special teams lining up in punt and kick block, and as he returns from a labrum injury he sustained in the preseason.  Defensive coordinator Greg Mattison is happy to seeing him getting closer to being plugged in on defense.

“He’s a very important part of our defense. He’s improved a great deal in the switch, and if he is one of the guys in the active this week… he will be a big part of this game as he was last year,” Mattison noted.

And with Trevor Pryce in New York, Kruger is one step closer to seeing the field with his pass-rush abilities.

Another body-a big body-who could see playing time against a Steelers power running game is defensive tackle Terrence Cody, who is recovering from a knee injury.

Mattison has been impressed with Cody’s resolve in coming back from a knee injury such as his-something Mattison said he hasn’t seen too often.

“He’s another one that’s  in the mix.  But we’re not sure. Terrence Cody is back. He is working very hard and we worked really hard last week.  I’m really excited about him playing again,” Mattison said.

Tune into WNST and WNST.net as we continue to track the Ravens throughout the 2010 NFL Season! WNST-We Never Stop Talking Baltimore Sports!

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Ravens update: Pryce heads to New York, but there aren’t many tears in Owings Mills

Posted on 30 September 2010 by Drew Forrester

The New York Jets were willing to do something today that the Ravens were no longer willing to do:  Employ a 35-year old player who is currently struggling with an injury and whose production and impact on the game has dropped off significantly in the first three games of the 2010 season.

Trevor Pryce signed with the Jets today, roughly 24 hours after the Ravens terminated his contract to make room for Ken Hamlin.

That the Jets signed Pryce isn’t a shock.  If the Ravens fired their Director of Cheerleading, Rex Ryan would recommend the Jets hire her.  With a pay increase.

If the Ravens decided to put new water fountains in at M&T Bank Stadium, Rex would have the folks in NY drive down and collect all the old, discarded fountains and put them up at The New Meadowlands Stadium.

Rex wants to be Ravens North so badly he’s petitioned the Jets to change their colors to purple and black.

But the Pryce signing makes sense for New York, even with the 4-time Pro Bowl defensive end clearly in the December of his career.  Forget the fact he has zero tackles in three games to date; Rex assumes that he’ll get something out of Pryce that John Harbaugh and his staff couldn’t.

And maybe he’s right.

The Ravens are betting he’s wrong.

That’s why they cut Pryce yesterday.

The club said all the right things on Wednesday when they parted company with Pryce and Harbaugh was probably telling the truth when he told reporters the team’s plan was to “bring him back” next week or shortly thereafter.

They told Pryce that when they cut him.  ”Don’t go too far…and stay in shape…because we’ll be calling,” the Ravens told him.

Pryce either didn’t believe that or decided the embarrassment of getting axed 3 games into the season was enough to warrant a change in scenery, so he hooked up with the Jets today.

The Ravens won’t say this, publicly, because it’s NEVER their policy or intention to belittle former players, especially good soldiers like Pryce, but here’s the brutal truth about Pryce:  His low-fuel light was on.

He reported to training camp out of shape, had – by multiple sources at Owings Mills – a “sluggish” training camp, and was no factor at all in the team’s first three games.  No longer a starter, he was part of the team’s passing downs-only sub package and wasn’t really a threat to get to the quarterback or create havoc in the backfield.

And Pryce isn’t healthy at this point, either, which probably would have made him questionable at best for this Sunday’s game against Pittsburgh. When the Ravens looked at their roster and sized up their chances for success at Heinz Field this Sunday, they assumed two things:  1)  Trevor Pryce was definitely a question mark – health wise – to play in the game.  2) Even if healthy, he figured to see little playing time against the Steelers since Pittsburgh figures to go mostly with a run-based attack given that Charlie Batch will be at the helm.

Some are opining that the Jets “stole” Trevor Pryce from the Ravens.

Not quite.

The Ravens cut him on Wednesday.

They don’t cut players they REALLY want.  They didn’t cut Ray Lewis yesterday.  Or Todd Heap.  Or even Brandon McKinney or Cary Williams or one of the team’s second or third tier guys like Prescott Burgess or Marcus Smith.

There were literally a dozen guys the Ravens could have jettisoned on Wednesday but they chose to cut Trevor Pryce.

They’re not all that broken up over there today at Owings Mills, no matter what they say publicly.  That’s what I’m hearing, anyway.

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