Tag Archive | "zbikowski"

Tags: , , , , , ,

Houston reports say former Texans safety Pollard will sign with Ravens

Posted on 03 August 2011 by WNST Staff

With the departure of Dawan Landry, the Ravens needed more help at the safety position and have apparently found it in former Houston Texan Bernard Pollard, who is expected to join Baltimore on Thursday. Pollard was a second round pick of the Kansas City Chiefs in 2006 and will add much-needed depth in the purple secondary.

Pollard had a huge 2009 with the Texans and established himself as a big tackler and was involved in a hard hit below the waist that ended  Tom Brady’s season in 2008 while with the Chiefs that garnered him a reputation. Pollard apologized for the hit saying: “It was really an accident, I can’t change what happened. I can’t do anything but pray for him and hope he has a speedy recovery.”

Pollard attended Purdue University and will compete for a starting spot in the secondary with Ed Reed, Haruki Nakamura and Tom Zbikowski.

Comments Off on Houston reports say former Texans safety Pollard will sign with Ravens

Tags: , , , , , , ,

Zbikowski Wins Again in Atlantic City

Posted on 27 March 2011 by WNST Staff

Here’s a recap of Baltimore Ravens Safety Tom Zbikowski’s third professional fight courtesy of NewsCore…

Baltimore Ravens safety Tom Zbikowski remained undefeated in his young boxing career Saturday, beating Caleb Grummet by a unanimous decision in Atlantic City, the Baltimore Sun reported.
Zbikowski moved to 3-0 with the win, landing uppercuts in the third round to bloody Grummet’s nose, and another that stunned the former cagefighter with 1:37 left in the bout.

It marked the first time Zbikowski did not win via a first-round knockout.

“I’m very, very critical of myself. Obviously, you want knockouts. Overall experience is what you need. You’re not always going to get knockouts,” he said.

Zbikowski, 25, said Friday that he planned to keep boxing in 2012.

“Without a doubt — if I can get that worked out — that’s my perfect world,” said Zbikowski.

Whether he can continue boxing and play in the NFL will depend on his next football contract. The former Notre Dame star is currently a restricted free agent, and has not signed while the league remains in a lockout.

He will become an unrestricted free agent in 2012, meaning his next contract would need to allow him to continue his boxing career in the offseason.

Zbikowski has boxed since the age of 10 and compiled an amateur record of 75-15. He won his first professional fight at Madison Square Garden in June 2006.

He is next scheduled to fight on April 23 at the Indian Casino outside of Dallas, the Sun reported citing an official with Top Rank Boxing.

Comments Off on Zbikowski Wins Again in Atlantic City

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,

A Glorious Festivus Day for Ravens

Posted on 10 January 2010 by Ed Frankovic

It was a super day for the Baltimore Ravens franchise as they put on a first quarter clinic en route to a 33-14 whipping of the New England Patriots on their home turf in the opening round of the NFL Playoffs. There were lots of firsts for the Ravens on Sunday, as chronicled by Drew in this blog, and a city that seemed a little bit skeptical of this team’s ability to win in the post season will no doubt be going purple crazy all week as Baltimore gets ready to head to Indianapolis. We have several days to analyze that matchup and as Glenn mentioned in his blog, there are things that need some correcting. However, for tonight, this blog is just going to primarily talk about the positives (my dad would call this the anti-Phil Jackman blog – and Phil you know I still love ya!):

– I don’t think I am going out on a limb in declaring this the best performance by the team all season. They defeated an elite club that has a one of the best QB’s in the NFL by lining up and just physically beating the Patriots in nearly every aspect of the game. New England had the deer in the headlights look after Ray Rice went 83 yards on the game’s opening play from scrimmage followed by the Terrell Suggs sack and fumble of Tom Brady that set up the Ravens second touchdown. It was smash mouth Ravens football, no doubt.

– After the game Ray Lewis, who was outstanding with 13 tackles and a sack on Sunday, praised defensive coordinator Greg Mattison for coming up with a great game plan. Mattison, however, said that it was not his schemes, it was the players execution that did the job. Whatever the case, the Baltimore defense was the most aggressive it has been all year and clearly that style fits the personnel. New England only had 196 total yards, wow! Charlie Frye threw for 180 yards on the Ravens in the 1st half alone in last week’s victory in Oakland. #52 talked in the post game about disguising the blitz until the last second for fear of Brady recognizing it and checking off, something the 3-time Super Bowl Champion excels at. Well today, #12 had no clue what was coming most of the time and he played like it. Mattison felt that the team could generate pressure rushing just four players and for the most part he was right. If there is one thing I would like to see less of, it would be the three man rush. The NFL rules are set up so much for the offense that if you give the receivers time to get open they either will or likely draw a penalty.

– Speaking of penalties, Baltimore only was flagged 3 times for a total of 15 yards! That was incredible focus and discipline by a team that has struggled to maintain its composure in several instances this year. Yes, the team was winning so it was easier to stay in control, but mentally that may have been the best the squad collectively has executed all year. Not a single personal foul or pass interference infraction was whistled on the Ravens today.

– Did the offense remind you a bit of the 2000 Ravens in Tennessee? Baltimore only threw the ball 10 times and Joe Flacco completed just four passes (but two were huge ones to Derrick Mason and Mark Clayton to keep second half drives going). But when you get an early lead after an 83 yd scamper why not keep pounding the ball like the Ravens used to do with Jamal Lewis? The rushing totals were 52 carries for 234 yards, a 4.5 yard per carry average. The backs were good and the offensive line was flat out dominant. It is clear that a healthy Jared Gaither at left tackle plays a huge role in offensive success.

– The much maligned secondary was superb today forcing 3 interceptions and holding Randy Moss to 5 catches for 48 yards (and most of those came in garbage time). Dominique Foxworth, Frank Walker, and Dwan Landry might have had their best games of the season. The pressure put on Brady certainly helped and having a healthier Ed Reed at safety contributed as well. Ravens fans can only hope that #20 continues to progress physically this week because they will need his smarts against Peyton Manning, Reggie Wayne, Dallas Clark, and company. Reed even had a good lateral today to Landry on his INT that put the Ravens in the red zone.

– Special teams were fairly solid. Tom Zbikowski’s 30 yard return after New England cut the Ravens lead to 27-14 put the ball near midfield and on the shorter grid the Ravens drove for the score that put the nail in the coffin in this one. Sam Koch punted well with two good kicks that pinned the Pats inside their own 20 yard line and even Matt Katula’s long snaps were better allowing kicker Billy Cundiff to hit on both of his field goals and all three PATs.

– The Ravens came out as healthy as you can be after 17 weeks of football and tight end Todd Heap’s back injury appears to be minor. So could a team that has been banged up so badly since starting 3-0 finally be getting healthier in some key areas (see Gaither and Reed)? One has to hope that is true and Flacco will likely have an easier time getting his aching hip loose in a dome instead of the freezing north east.

– All in all it was a very good day to be affiliated with the Ravens and somewhere heading south on I-95 at 1000pm on Sunday night there are two full buses of very happy people who decided to go on the WNST road trip to Gillette Stadium. Those people, and any other Ravens fan who attended the game in person, are truly great for showing such faith in a team that many thought would get beat today, including myself. As anyone that has traveled with WNST knows, WNST bus trips, whether to a Ravens game, a Caps or Bears hockey game, or to a horse race, is a ton of fun. I’m sure this weekend to Indianapolis will be no exception so sign up, if you can. By the way, it was great to hear Ravens Coach John Harbaugh mention and praise the support the team received from the Ravens fans who attended the contest today. So how about we more than double that for next week’s Saturday night contest and get at least five WNST buses going to Indy?

Happy Festivus! (que the Ravens Mania music now…)

Comments Off on A Glorious Festivus Day for Ravens

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Ravens Preview

Posted on 02 September 2009 by kevinpb

I decided to do my preview of the 2009 season after the Carolina pre-season game because I hope that the first line offense and defense does not even get on the field in Atlanta, in fact, don’t even let them board the plane to go to Atlanta. I have seen all I need to see to know that the 2009 Baltimore Ravens are going to be a formidable team.
If they were an NFC team they would be the odds on favorite to get to the Super Bowl. Since they play in the AFC they are one of 3 or 4 teams that can make it to the mid February classic.

There is a lot to like about the 2009 Ravens. But I think the most interesting thing regarding this year’s version of the Ravens is the continued shift in vision of the team. The change in vision and/or direction was set in motion with the firing of Brian Billick 2 years ago. The firing of Coach Billick was as much an indictment of make up of the team as it was a reflection of the poor record in the year in which he was fired. In fact, when it became clear that the players which led the team in the direction it was heading did not support the coach, Brian Billick’s fate was sealed.

The second indication that a change was coming was the passing over of Rex Ryan as head coaching candidate for the Ravens. This would have continued this team on a course of defensive dominance for years to come. Let’s face it, the Ravens are not a sexy team. Even if you are the most devout fan they can be painful to watch at times. They were the NFL’s version of old pick up truck, strong, steady, tough and dependable. Unfortunately, this old truck occasionally had trouble with the sleek sports cars of the NFL. No where was this more evident then in the 2006 playoff loss to the Indianapolis Colts. I still can’t even watch a replay of that game to this day. All I remember thinking about that loss was that, “it was our type of game and we still lost.”

The third indication that things were about to change at the castle, was John Harbaugh’s hiring of Cam Cameron as offensive coordinator. Cameron has a distinguished and successful career as an offensive coordinator. His offenses have over the years have had good rushing attacks some years and good passing attacks in others. His system is adaptable to the player’s talents, instead of trying to make the players fit into a rigid system.

What Ozzie Newsome set in motion was to take the intensity and passion that the defense played with and transfer it to the offense. To his credit, he started rebuilding the offensive line with an attitude. Once the great Jonathan Ogden retired, the die was cast and the rebuilding of the offensive line became of paramount importance. There was a two pronged shift in philosophy too. The first part of this change was subtle. Originally, it was the Raven’s plan to draft lineman in the later rounds and develop them and then sign older veterans to bolster the weaknesses on the line. After the loss to the Colts that year you saw the Raven’s start to draft offensive lineman with their higher draft picks. Ozzie selected Ben Grubbs in the 1st round, then stole Jared Gaither in the supplemental draft. Marshall Yanda came in the 3rd round as did Adam Terry a few years earlier. Finally, this past year, Ozzie selects Michael Oher again in the first round. Once it was evident that the Raven’s could not keep Jason Brown, Ozzie went back to his old standby and signed a veteran free agent to complete this unit.

The second part of the shift in philosophy of the offensive line was to get away from just sheer bulk and get more athletic. I have watched enough football to know that this offensive line is going to be something special. They are big, strong, fast, athletic and nasty. Gaither is the thoroughbred, and has Ogden’s stamp of approval. Grubbs is the athletic one. Yanda and Oher are just good ole nasty boys. Matt Birk is the point guard that keeps it all together. As the year goes on, this unit will become one of the best in football. Gaither and Oher are big and athletic enough to overpower most and contend with the speed rushers off the edge. Grubbs might be the best pulling guard in the league and Yanda is just a road grader. Chris Chester played well last year filling in for Yanda and is our main back up in the middle of the line. Losing Adam Terry for the year hurts because he was an adequate back up on either side of the line at tackle. Do not be surprised if you see Ozzie bring in a veteran tackle after cut down day to help with depth.

The running back by committee was terrific last year. In fact, it was a brilliant idea that camouflaged the fact that our number one running back failed to report to camp in shape and was not ready to carry the load even though he was paid to do so. I shudder to think what would have happened to Joe Flacco if it were not for Ray Rice and LeRon McClain. After watching the preseason Willis McGahee is relegated to 2nd team, LeRon McClain is the short yardage back and lead fullback; Ray Rice will carry the load. This is the type of back the Cam Cameron likes. He is a quick shifty runner that catches the ball well out of the backfield. Ray Rice is going to have a spectacular year. He is short in stature but is powerfully built. He runs low to the ground, explodes in the hole and changes direction on dime. As my cousin said to me, on that swing pass he caught in the Carolina preseason game where he did the step back, “he looked like Barry Sanders on that play”.

The wide receivers have caused the most consternation amongst the fans, and rightfully so. Thank God, Derrick Mason did not retire!!! Derrick Mason is the consummate professional and really is the heart of our offense. I thought it was interesting last week when Bart Scott made the comment that the real coach of the Ravens in 2008 was Rex Ryan, the only player that felt compelled to say something was Derrick Mason. That being said, both Mark Clayton and Demetrius Williams have NFL talent, but their inability to stay healthy does not lend itself to having confidence in these two. Enter Kelley Washington. He has been a pleasant surprise in camp and has had success in the preseason games. He is currently lining up as the number 2 receiver. He is big, strong and fast and he looks to be able to contribute on offense. It is clear that the Raven’s are going to need some production out of either Clayton or Williams to go along with Mason and Washington. If the Ravens keep a fifth receiver it looks that it might be Justin Harper only by default. Todd Heap seems to have resurfaced in the offense and if he can stay healthy he gives us another credible threat down the field. LJ Smith is hurt again; enough said. Do not be surprised to see Ozzie scour the waiver wire after cut down day for help at either wide receiver and/or tight end.

The main reason why the Ravens will continue to be a relevant team and why, barring mounting injuries, they will break the cycle of one good year followed by one bad year is the quarterback. Yes fans, Joe Flacco is that good. I am not trying to anoint him the next Johnny Unitas, nor will I even go so far as to call him Bert Jones…yet. He is only in his second year and there are mistakes to be made, but the kid has IT! He is smart and has a much better handle on the offense. He has a laser arm. He also has a tremendously quick release and is deadly accurate. Did you see the touchdown pass he threw to Todd Heap in the Carolina preseason game? He put the ball the only place it could be. In that same game, he laid out a long ball perfectly down the sideline to Kelley Washington, over the outside shoulder where only our receiver could catch it. It is amazing how much more open our receivers look when Joe Flacco is throwing them the ball. Joe Flacco is now the shining jewel of this franchise and will be a terrific quarterback for the Baltimore Ravens for several years.

There isn’t much that hasn’t been said about our defense and all of the accolades they have received over the years have been deserved. There have been many variations of our vaunted defense over the years with only one remaining constant. I mentioned earlier in this piece that the Ravens are changing direction, and that is true; but as long as Number 52 is in the middle of the defense, we will never totally lose our identity as a defensive minded football team. Whether you like him or not, he has been the heart, body, mind and soul of this football team for a long time. He is on the very short list of greatest linebackers of all time. The defensive line is stout, but some key players are getting a little long in the tooth. Kelly Gregg and Trevor Pryce have to continue to perform at a high level. Justin Bannan filled in well for Gregg last year. Haloti Ngata is a superstar waiting to happen. The key retainee was Terrell Suggs, who is counted on to pressure the quarterback. Second round draft pick, Paul Kruger is touted as a high energy guy in the mold of Michael McCrary. I guess that is why they gave him that number. The Ravens have significant depth at the defensive line positions with the likes of Dwan Edwards, Kelly Talivou and Brandon McKinney.

At linebacker the team is also loaded. The starters will be, Ray Lewis, Jarrett Johnson, Tavares Gooden and Terrell Suggs. Ray Lewis is a Hall of Famer. Terrell Suggs is a Pro Bowl player. Jarrett Johnson plays at that same level but is somewhat overlooked and Jameel McClain will push Gooden for the other starting inside spot. Paul Kruger will back up Terrell Suggs and learn the hybrid defensive lineman/linebacker position that Suggs has evolved into. Antwan Barnes will be brought in on special situations to pressure the quarterback. That leaves a chore of other good football players fighting for one or two back up spots at linebacker. Brendon Ayanbadejo will most likely retain one of those spots due to his special teams status and there is probably one more spot for a trio of players, Prescott Burgess, Jason Phillips and Dannell Ellerbe. I like the mix of veteran leadership with young athletic talent in this group. This position will remain a strength of the team.

The secondary has gone through a transformation. Gone is Chris McAlister; and, at least for a little while, so is Samari Rolle. Fabian Washington covered well last year as a starter, but my mother hits harder and tackles better. Dominque Foxworth was acquired in the off season to replace McAlister and is exactly the type of free agent pick up that makes Ozzie Newsome so dangerous. He is still a young and improving corner and could develop into an elite player, but there are questions concerning his tackling ability as well. It may take him a while to learn how to play defense for the Ravens but he has a chance to become a really good cornerback. As big as Jim Leonard played last year, I am extremely happy to see Dawan Landry back at strong safety. I think he is a big time player and is great in run support. His ability to play close to the line will let Ed Reed continue to do what he does best; roam the field and take the ball away. Reed is a gambler and he will get burned occasionally, but when he gets the ball in his hands he is pure magic. I just wish he would stop trying to lateral the ball all over the field. Ed’s lingering neck and shoulder problem is a growing concern and should be monitored closely. Tom Zbikowski and Haruki Nakamura provide excellent depth and special teams play. Nakamura especially has shown flashes of being able to step in and play safety at a high level. In years past, I have always cringed when our first team cornerbacks have gone down, but the last 2 years Ozzie Newsome has done a good job of building depth at this position. Samari Rolle was brought back to play the nickel back and Chris Carr was signed to add depth and return kicks. I have been impressed with 3rd round draft pick, Lardarius Webb. I first saw him at training camp and I am impressed with his attitude and skills. He does not look afraid and he looks to be a pretty good cornerback once he gets some experience. With Samari Rolle starting the season on the IR list, it seems that Frank Walker has received a reprieve and will start the season with the team. While Frank played effectively toward the end of last year, his propensity for committing stupid penalties and his less then effective play this preseason has landed him squarely on the bubble. There is not a lot of experience here, especially with Rolle on the shelf. This is another area that the Ravens may look to improve themselves after cut down day.

Over the years, I have been very critical of Sam Koch as a punter. I did not think he was bad, I was just frustrated by his inability to hit the big kick at times to get the team out of a hole. Whenever he needed to boom one it seemed as though he couldn’t do it. Most point to his ability to place the ball inside the 20 yard line as an indication that he was a high caliber punter. Let’s be clear, there is not a more overrated stat in football, then how many times a punter places the ball inside the 20 yard line on a punt. I have never thought that such a stat was a productive measurement of any punter. That being said, I have to admit that Sam Koch is growing on me, his distance on punts has improved, his hang time has improved and he has become adept at directional punting, pinning the return man against one sideline or the other. Chris Carr was impressive as a returner at Tennessee. He fields the ball well and gets upfield quickly. He gives us the same thing Jim Leonard did last year returning punts with more speed and possibly more ability to take one to the house.

One of the biggest stories in training camp has been the competition for kicker. To be perfectly frank, I don’t understand what Coach Harbaugh is trying to accomplish. I understand that Matt Stover cannot get the distance on kick offs and that adversely effects our ability to defend since it shortens the field for the other team. There is a noticeable trend of opponents starting field position increasing yearly. So I applaud the idea of finding a kicker that is able to kick the ball in the endzone or forcing the opponent’s returner to field the kick closer to the endzone. I have noticed this preseason that we have done a much better limiting the opponents starting field position. However, the 2 kickers in camp have not shown the ability to routinely kick the ball in the endzone and have relied mainly again on directional kicking to pin the return to one side of the field or other. They have also failed to show that they have the ability to hit field goals with any consistency. What it comes down to is this; for a team that is expecting to be in the thick of a playoff run, does it make sense for anyone else other then Matt Stover to kick field goals for this team. I don’t think so.

Those in charge at the castle have proven over the years that they know how to build and run a football team, that cannot be argued; but their strategy regarding the kicking game does not make any sense to me. All I know is that on Sunday, December 27, 2009 at Heinz Field, when it is 17-17 with 1:22 to go in the fourth quarter, the wind is blowing and the flurries are falling and the field is mud pit when the Ravens kick team trots out on the field to try the winning field goal, the only person I want kicking that ball is Automatic Matt.

Comments Off on Ravens Preview

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Updated, starters,Inactives and Carmelo Anthony

Posted on 07 September 2008 by caseywillett

12:47 – We have recieved a memo from the league that for today, Chad Johnson will be referred to as Chad Johnson today. According to the league that certain issues remain to be resolved

12:38
-Ray Rice will start at running back for the Ravens today. Willis McGahee is dressed, but will share the carries with Rice.
-Tom Zbikowski has changed his number to 28
-Evan Oglesby changed his number to 25
-Justin Bannan will start in place of Kelly Gregg

Inactive:

Troy Smith
Evan Oglesby
Tavares Gooden
Oniel Cousins
David Hale
Marcus Smith
Kelly Gregg
Willie Anderson
Pre game notes:
The Ravens are wearing white tops with black pants for today’s game. This is the first time since 1998 that this combination of the uniform has been worn
Carmelo Anthony is here to be the honorary captain of the game. Carmelo will wear his gold medal on the field and is sporting a huge tattoo on the inside of his right forearm that features the 410 area code, a Raven, and an Oriole. Carmelo said that this will be the first Ravens game he will be attending since he was 8 years old.

Comments Off on Updated, starters,Inactives and Carmelo Anthony

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

*UPDATE Cut down day for the Ravens

Posted on 30 August 2008 by caseywillett

4:30 So the Ravens have trimmed their roster down and announced the suspension of Derrick Martin for the first regular season game. You can see all of the cuts listed in Nestor’s blog.

On my 53 man roster, I went 51-53. I missed on Adam Bergen and Casey Bramlet by having them in and leaving Anwar Phillips and Jamell McClain out. As it relates to Peter Czech, we did not even know that he was on the team. We were told he was waived to make room for Casey Bramlet on Thursday, but on the Ravens site he is listed on the 53 man roster.

The Derrick Martin situation is no suprise. When you saw Kevin Faulk get suspended, you knew Derrick’s was coming also. Also not suprised with decision to IR David Pittman.

 

 

Today is the day that 22 members of the Ravens team have not been looking forward to. This is the day when you are told that your services are no longer needed for this football team. The Ravens have to get down to 53 man roster by 6 p.m. The rookies on the Ravens will all have to report to the Ravens facility today and await word whether they have made the team or not.

 
I will keep you updated here and through our text service throughout the day as the cuts become available. As it relates to the practice squad, the Ravens have until noon tomorrow to establish that team. Once a player becomes available, it goes in reverse order of record as to claiming a player.
 
Here is my attempt at the 53 man roster for the Ravens.
QB – Boller, Flacco, Smith, Bramlet
RB – McGahee, Rice
FB – Neal, McClain
WR – Mason, Clayton, Williams, Figurs, Smith
TE – Heap, Wilcox, Jones, Bergen
OL- Brown, Grubbs, Yanda, Terry, Gaither, Cousins, Hale, Chester
DL- Pryce, Douglas, Gregg, Ngata, Parker, Bannan
LB-Lewis,Scott,Suggs, Johnson, Barnes, Ayanbadejo, Greisen, Gooden
DB – Rolle, McAlister, Washington, Walker, Martin, Ivy
S – Reed, Landry, Leonhard, Zbkowski, Nakamura
ST – Koch, Katula, Stover
 
I admit this is just my guess, but hey someone had to put Bramlet on the team, it might as well be me.
 
Here is my thinking on a couple of guys:
Casey Bramlet – I think they are going to need him for a couple of weeks. With the status of Kyle Boller and Troy Smith in the air for week one, they may have no choice but to keep Casey.
 
J’Vonne Parker – I thought J’Vonne has had a very solid camp and preseason. Also factor in with Ngata, and Gregg nursing injuries, he gives them depth at that position.
 
Derrick Martin – Derrick is another player who I thought had a solid preseason and regular season. Derrick is nursing a shoulder injury right now and maybe we will find out how severe that is today, but I think Derrick has earned a spot on this team.

Comments Off on *UPDATE Cut down day for the Ravens

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Casey’s ‘Six Pack’ preview for Ravens-Falcons

Posted on 28 August 2008 by caseywillett

So as the Ravens get ready for their final preseason game tonight versus the Falcons, here are six things to watch for. I guess we will call them Casey’s Six-Pack:
 
  1. O-line reunited – For the first time this preseason, the offensive line is expected to be back together with Adam Terry and Jared Gaither both likely to play tonight. It will be interesting to watch how they gel with Jason Brown, Marshal Yanda and Ben Grubbs after missing so much time. I expect that they will stay out there longer than usually expected for a fourth preseason game.
 
  1. Tight Ends – Todd Heap and Dan Wilcox will be on the field together tonight for the first time this preseason and the first time in a while. They are both coming back from injuries and will get some time with the first team offense tonight. Wilcox made his comeback last week and looked pretty good. Tonight will be another stepping stone on his road to recovery. I would imagine he will stay out there a little longer than Heap tonight. Also keep an eye on the guys know battling for that third tight end position. Adam Bergen will probably see the field first then you I imagine you will see Edgar Jones and Keith Heinrich.
 
 
  1. The Joe Show – Tonight Joe Flacco will see a lot of reps. While I do not think he will play the entire game, here is another chance for him to show what he can do and earn even more respect from his teammates. I think Joe will pass the test tonight with flying colors. Later in the game I expect you will see Casey Bramlet come in and run some of Cam Cameron’s offense.
 
  1. 3rd down stoppage  – The Ravens have allowed their opponents to convert 50% on 3rd downs this preseason which is why teams have racked up 67 first downs against them. Stopping teams on 3rd down has been an issue for this team during the preseason. They cannot allow teams to sustain long drives on them whether they lead to three or six points.
 
 
  1. Limit the air attack – The Ravens secondary, in particular Cory Ivy and Frank Walker, have been picked on a bunch this preseason. Not having Ed Reed, Chris McAlister or Samari Rolle factors into that, but how confident are you that they will be there all together during the regular season? The Ravens have allowed 607 yards through the air this preseason at a 58% completion rate. Of the 112 passes that have been attempted against the Ravens so far, 82 of them have been short passes. The Ravens have to stop the air onslaught and be able to find a way to stop the no-huddle offense.
 
  1. Prove you belong – After tonight, about 20 members of this football team will no longer be members. Tonight is the final audition for the coaches, scouts, front office and people who will make the roster decisions by 4 p.m. on Saturday. For guys like Ronnie Prude and David Pittman, they have to take advantage of Derrick Martin not being able to play. Do guys like J’Vonne Parker, Adrein Clarke, Joe Reitz, Jameel McClain, Lorenzo Williams and several other guys do something tonight to make a case one way or another as it relates to making this team? Does an aging veteran like Gary Stills just get caught up in a salary cap and numbers game and become expendable? Can Haruki Nakamura, Tom Zbikowski, Allen Patrick, and other late-round draft picks feel confident in their spot on the team after tonight’s game? One thing is for certain: they have had all of a long camp and preseason to prove what they have. Here’s one last chance to prove tonight that they belong on this team.

Comments Off on Casey’s ‘Six Pack’ preview for Ravens-Falcons

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

10 things to watch for tonight

Posted on 23 August 2008 by caseywillett

Here are 10 things that I will be looking for tonight:
 
  1. Terrell Suggs – How does he play? Does he look slow? Is he having a hard time with the offensive lineman in front of him? What kind of “football” shape is he in? I think Suggs will have a solid showing tonight.
 
  1. QB – Is tonight the night that Troy can seal the deal and make a final case for being the starting quarterback on September 7? I still say that Kyle Boller would have to do way more than what Smith has to do tonight to keep hope alive. If the offense moves the ball with or without scoring a bunch of points, that closes the deal for Troy.
 
 
  1. Safeties – With it looking more and more like Ed Reed will not be ready to start the season on time (as I have been saying for a while), who steps up in his place? Jim Leonhard is expected to be the guy who takes the field with Dawan Landry and the most likely guy to win the competition with Harauki Nakamura, and Tom Zbikowski. But, how will the the communication be with those two and do they cover each others weaknesses?
 
  1. Tackle – With Adam Terry expected to play a little bit tonight (and looking like he will be ready for the opener) and Jared Gaither looking like he may not be ready for the opener, who steps up? Which of Chad Slaughter, Oneil Cousins, David Hale, Mike Kracalik, and Joe Reitz make a push for that left tackle spot? Do they put Adam Terry in at left tackle and maybe see who can help on the right side? The tackle position has been a reason for concern for the last two years and I am not sure that there will not be more questions after tonight.
 
 
  1. Interior defensive line – Haloti Ngata is expected to play some tonight which is good news for the Ravens, but not so good news is the amount of time that Kelly Gregg has missed and possibly still will miss with a knee injury. Justin Bannan is one of the more underrated players on the Ravens roster and while he is not Kelly Gregg, he is still a very solid backup and will not miss a beat. J’Vonne Parker is also a guy to watch tonight to see how he plays when he is in the game at that position.
 
  1. Communication in secondary – It was an issue last week with the secondary but it might be a little bit better this week with Samari Rolle being back there and possibly Chris McAlister. No. 21 & 22 can make up for some miscommunication but this is another reason why the team will miss Ed Reed. Dawan Landry has to step up and take over that role and make sure that everyone is on the same page.
 
 
  1. Running Game – With Willis McGahee’s health being a concern, how does Ray Rice respond tonight? Ray had a nice game early on last week versus the Vikings. How will he respond tonight? Who steps up behind him? Will it be Cory Ross? Alex Haynes? Allen Patrick? All three of those guys could earn a roster spot tonight with a solid performance.
 
  1. 3rd WR – With it looking like Demetrius Williams may not be ready to start the season, will someone step up for that 3rd wide receiver position? Marcus Smith has had a solid camp and nice preseason, but I do not think he has locked up that spot yet. Matt Willis has been around for a while with the team and has a great opportunity to show what he can do. Here is a guy to watch tonight, who I think might have a real shot at the 3rd spot: Yamon Figurs. Cam Cameron used Figurs several times as the 3rd wideout during camp. He can absolutely fly down the football field; he just has to be able to hang on to the football.
 
 
  1. Tight End- Dan Wilcox might get a chance tonight to play in a game for the first time in a while. This is huge for Wilcox, because his spot on the roster could very well depend on it. If this were a regular season game, I really think you would see Todd Heap out there on the field. Tonight is a chance for Adam Bergen, Aaron Walker and Edgar Jones to fight it out for one of the tight end positions.
 
  1. Who Steps Up – Every one of these guys dreamed of one day playing in the NFL. For a lot of them, that dream will come to an end after tonight. With the first cuts coming Tuesday, a couple of these guys will have played their last NFL game ever. Tonight is a chance for those guys on the bubble to show that they deserve to stick around and have a chance to compete for a spot on the final 53 man roster. Tonight’s game will go a long way as to the future of some of the players. All of the players know that too and they have to step up tonight and make that decision tough on Coach Harbaugh. One play good or bad can determine their future with the Ravens.
 
Here is one more guy to watch tonight when he is on the field: Brendon Ayanbadejo. Brendon is always around the football and making plays whether it is on defense or special teams.

Comments Off on 10 things to watch for tonight

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

End of camp thoughts

Posted on 14 August 2008 by caseywillett

So the first John Harbaugh training camp has officially come to end today, and there are more questions than answers twenty something days later.
 
Here are some of the questions that I have as camp has ended:
 
          Who is going to be your starting quarterback, and are they truly the best guy for the job? One thing is crystal clear to me, it will not be Joe Flacco.
 
          What do you do with the running back position with Willis McGahee now on crutches and possibly 2-4 weeks from returning? Ray Rice has had a nice training camp, but he is not ready to be a feature back in the NFL.
 
 
          Who is your offensive tackles? With Adam Terry and Jared Gaither working their way back to field, and Mike Kracalik and Oneil Cousins taking snaps along with Chad Slaughter, are the Ravens comfortable with some form of that combination going into the season? To me Adam Terry and Jared Gaither are still very unproven at the NFL level. Who would have thought that maybe in retrospect that we would be looking back wondering if John Welbourne would have helped this team.
 
          Who is going to be your number three receiver? With Demetrius Williams yet to take a snap on the field at wide receiver and Marcus Smith turning heads with his play at camp, what does that means for Demetrius?
 
 
          What will this team do at the tight end position? With Todd Heap nursing a calf injury and Dan Wilcox trying to get back on the field, what does this team do? They lost two tight ends before they ever moved into the Best Western. Heap and Wilcox both battled injuries last year that cost them time as well as battling injuries during camp.
 
          What is going on with Kelly Gregg? Kelly has not practiced since early in training camp. Kelly was walking around the team hotel this afternoon with his left knee wrapped up pretty heavily. Kelly is hands down one of the best at his position and a huge part of the Ravens defense.
 
 
          Who is going to be playing in the secondary? With Chris McAlister, Ed Reed, and Samari Rolle all nursing injuries, some such as Ed’s which are a huge question mark for the season, what does the team do ? Fabian Washington was a nice pick up in the off season, but he will miss week 1 due to his suspension, is Derrick Martin, Ronnie Prude, and Corey Ivy the answers? Tom Zbikowski, Harauki Nakamura, and Jim Leonhard, have all had good camps, but are they ready to step in for Ed Reed with the starters? My guess is that they will have to be.
 
Here are a couple of things that I saw from camp that were impressive:
 
          Marcus Smith had a great camp and really turned some heads and opened some eyes. He seemed to step up to the opportunity of Demetrius Williams not practicing and made the most out of his chance.
 
          Tom Zbikowski and Haruki Nakamura both showed that they were not overwhelmed when they ran with the first team defense at safety.
 
 
          Brendon Ayanbadejo is a tremendous football player. Brandon has amazing speed and is a very hard hitting and probably underrated defensive player. He will make some plays for this team this year.
 
          Jarrett Johnson and Justin Bannan look like they could have big years for this defense. They both have had very good training camps and played well in the first preseason game. Justin has been a very solid backup on the interior defensive line and the defense does not miss a beat with him in there. Jarrett is playing with a little bit of a chip on his shoulder after a disappointing year by his standards last season.
 
 
          Nick Greisen is a tremendous football player and a huge asset to this football team. He has such an understanding of what Rex Ryan is doing with the defense and is complete control of the defense when he is in the game. He has proven to be a very nice pickup by the Ravens last year that went under the radar.
 
Thanks to all of the people who gave me nice comments during the coverage of Ravens camp this year. It has been a fun and entertaining camp to cover and I am sure will only get more interesting as the preseason and regular season go along.

Comments Off on End of camp thoughts

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Ravens Camp 8/5/08

Posted on 05 August 2008 by caseywillett

So Kyle Boller will be the starting quarterback for the Ravens on Thursday night versus the Patriots. I think it has zero relevance in the race to be the starting quarterback on September 7. I still think that spot will still belong to Troy Smith.
 
Here are some notes from practice today:
 
          The Ravens concluded all of their on the field practices for the media and public this afternoon with a special teams practice. The Ravens will hold a walk thru tomorrow morning and then board planes that afternoon headed to New England.
 
          Adam Terry was on the field this morning and not wearing the walking boot that he has had on for the last week.
 
 
          With Chris McAlister and Samari Rolle both out of practice this morning, Fabian Washington and Frank Walker played the corner positions. Once Fabian stopped practicing this morning, Corey Ivy took over for him.
 
          Jm Leonhard was out there as the other safety along with Dawan Landry in place of Ed Reed. Coach Harbaugh has said that Leonhard, Haruki Nakamura, and Tom Zbikowski will all rotate through that position.
 
 
          Bart Scott came out for practice this morning and then went back inside after a brief time and did not return for the rest of practice. Bart missed yesterday afternoon’s practice with a thigh issue.
 
          Chris McAlister and Mark Clayton joined the walking wounded today at practice.
 
 
          Gary Stills missed the morning practice, but returned for the afternoon special teams practice.

Comments Off on Ravens Camp 8/5/08