Tag Archive | "Paul Kruger"

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Ravens awarded four compensatory picks at Owner’s Meetings

Posted on 24 March 2014 by WNST Staff

Last year’s off-season after the Super Bowl was painful for Ravens fans, but now the team is being rewarded for its troubles and patience in free agency.

At the NFL Owner Meetings today in Orlando, the Baltimore Ravens learned more about their off-season approach in May as they received the league maximum number of compensatory picks possible for free agent losses.

The team received a third (99th overall),  two fourth-round (134th, 138 overall), and a fifth-round pick (175th overall).

The picks were rewarded for the losses of DE Paul Kruger (Cleveland), MLB Dannell Ellerbe (Miami), CB Cary Williams (Philadelphia), and FS Ed Reed (Houston) in free agency.

Because the Ravens did not sign any unrestricted free agents in the 2013 off-season, the team was not docked any picks from their total.

DE Elvis Dumervil, DL Chris Canty, DL Marcus Spears, S Michael Huff, and MLB Daryl Smith were all signed after teams cut them or late into training camp.

All-in-all, the Ravens will have eight picks as their disposal in May.

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No “fax” error: Dumervil agrees to five-year deal with Ravens

Posted on 24 March 2013 by Luke Jones

An offseason of departures and disappointment brightened considerably on Sunday as top pass rusher Elvis Dumervil agreed to terms to join the Ravens.

As first reported by The Denver Post, the 29-year-old defensive end has agreed to a five-year contract with Baltimore after contemplating offers from both the Ravens and Broncos. Dumervil will take his physical on Tuesday before the deal can be finalized.

The deal will pay out a maximum of $35 million and $8.5 million in the first year of the deal, according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter. More importantly for this season’s salary cap, Dumervil will only carry a cap number of $2.5 million, per Peter King of Sports Illustrated. Dumervil is receiving a $7.5 million signing bonus, a $1 million base salary for the 2013 season, and $12 million in guaranteed money.

Dumervil had 11 sacks, six forced fumbles, and 54 tackles to help Denver finish with the best regular-season record in the AFC last season. His addition softens the blow of outside linebacker Paul Kruger leaving the Ravens to sign a five-year, $41 million contract with the Cleveland Browns on the first day of free agency.

The three-time Pro Bowl pass rusher will move to outside linebacker in the Ravens’ 3-4 system, which shouldn’t be a problem considering he held a similar role when Denver ran a 3-4 under former head coach Josh McDaniels. Dumervil had ties with the Ravens through inside linebackers coach Don “Wink” Martindale, who served as Broncos defensive coordinator in 2010.

Dumervil’s best season occurred in 2009 when he collected a career-high 17 sacks while playing outside linebacker. Entering his eighth season this fall, the 2006 fourth-round pick has accumulated 63 1/2 sacks in his career.

The Ravens can thank a fax machine snafu that forced the Broncos to release Dumervil after the sides had agreed to a restructured contract on March 14. As a result, Dumervil fired agent Marty Magid and hired Tom Condon of CAA to represent him. Earlier reports had indicated the Ravens’ offer didn’t contain as much money early in the contract as the one offered by Denver, but Dumervil was also having a difficult time dealing with the reality of the Broncos releasing him after seven years with them.

General manager Ozzie Newsome still has plenty of work to do to replace six key defensive players who have departed from their Super Bowl XLVII team, but the pass-rushing duo of Dumervil and Terrell Suggs is sure to strike fear in the hearts of opposing quarterbacks. Second-year linebacker Courtney Upshaw will likely spell the pass-rushing duo in run situations in order to keep both veterans fresher over the course of a 16-game season.

With Suggs and Dumervil lining up on opposite edges, defensive coordinator Dean Pees now has a pair of players who’ve combined for 148 sacks in their respective careers.

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Kruger leaves Ravens to sign five-year deal in Cleveland

Posted on 12 March 2013 by Luke Jones

Less than an hour into the start of free agency, the Ravens have sustained their first loss as linebacker Paul Kruger has signed a five-year deal with the Cleveland Browns.

Multiple reports are saying the contract is worth an estimated $41 million with $20 million in guaranteed money. Despite not being the Ravens’ top priority among their unrestricted free agents after quarterback Joe Flacco was inked to a $120.6 million contract, Kruger was the Ravens’ most attractive commodity on the open market and didn’t last very long after the start of free agency at 4 p.m. on Tuesday.

Finishing with a team-high nine sacks in the regular season and adding 4 1/2 more in the playoffs, the 2009 second-round pick was hitting the open market at the perfect time after serving as a reserve in his first three seasons with the Ravens.

Kruger thrived in a situational pass-rusher role and saw his production increase with the mid-October return of Terrell Suggs this season. The 6-foot-4, 270-pound linebacker collected 12 sacks in the final 12 games of the season including the playoffs.

It was determined early in the offseason that Kruger’s asking price would not be met by the Ravens, who were unlikely to offer such a steep contract to a player not particularly strong against the run or in pass coverage. Kruger played in only 22 of the Ravens’ 62 defensive snaps in Super Bowl XLVII but collected two sacks in the 34-31 win over the San Francisco 49ers.

The Ravens will likely depend more heavily on 2012 second-round pick Courtney Upshaw, who started at the strong-side linebacker position in the base defense and played primarily in running situations. Baltimore will also look to the draft as well as young pass rushers Michael McAdoo and Adrian Hamilton to help fill the void left behind by Kruger.

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Stay or leave: Forecasting the Ravens’ 2013 class of free agents

Posted on 07 March 2013 by Luke Jones

With free agency set to begin at 4 p.m. on Tuesday afternoon, it’s time to predict who remains and who departs among the Ravens’ 12 unrestricted free agents, six restricted free agents, and 10 exclusive-rights free agents.

The 2013 salary cap was officially set to $123 million last week and the Ravens have roughly $11 million in cap space after signing quarterback Joe Flacco to a six-year, $120.6 million contract. Most media attention focuses on unrestricted free agents, but the Ravens’ list of restricted free agents and exclusive-rights players will eat up a sizable portion of that remaining cap space.

Of course, the Ravens still have the option of cutting players under contract or potentially re-signing or restructuring the contracts of players already committed to the organization to create more cap space.

A new wrinkle to consider this year is the NFL allowing teams to enter into negotiations with the certified agents of players scheduled to be unrestricted free agents in the three days leading up to the start of the new league year (March 12 at 4 p.m.), meaning the rumors and speculation will pick up this weekend before the start of the signing period.

To see how I fared last year, check out my 2012 free-agent forecast HERE.

Unrestricted free agents

LB Dannell Ellerbe: STAYS
Skinny: The Ravens’ top priority among their unrestricted free agents, Ellerbe easily figures to trump the three-year, $10.5 million contract Baltimore awarded Jameel McClain in a deep inside linebacker market last offseason and will be looking for a deal worth at least $20 million. 

Skinny: If the future Hall of Fame safety is willing to take a modest two-year deal, he could have his chance to finish his career in Baltimore, but I’m guessing Reed will bolt for a more generous offer from another team looking for his services.

LB Paul Kruger: LEAVES
Skinny: With rumors of the situational pass rusher potentially fetching more than $8 million per season, the Ravens will turn to Courtney Upshaw for an increased role and move on from Kruger, who is not strong against the run and played in only 22 of 62 defensive snaps in Super Bowl XLVII.

CB Cary Williams: LEAVES
Skinny: With Lardarius Webb, Corey Graham, Jimmy Smith, and Chykie Brown all under contract, the Ravens will remember their depth at cornerback and allow Williams to seek a well-deserved payday somewhere else.

OT Bryant McKinnie: STAYS
Skinny: The Ravens will explore other options on the open market, but McKinnie should be an affordable stopgap as they’ll look to draft a left tackle of the future on the first or second day of April’s draft.

NT Ma’ake Kemoeatu: LEAVES
Skinny: The 34-year-old’s comeback was a nice story last year, but general manager Ozzie Newsome has made it a priority to upgrade the depth at defensive tackle, making Kemoeatu’s return unlikely at this point.

S James Ihedigbo: STAYS
Skinny: With Reed’s status in doubt, Ihedigbo is a nice depth player the Ravens would like to re-sign at the right price and he was a strong special-teams player last year as well.

DL Ryan McBean: STAYS
Skinny: The Ravens had high hopes for the former Denver Bronco last year before a season-ending ankle injury in the preseason opener, so it wouldn’t be out of the question for them to retain McBean’s services at a cheap rate.

S Sean Considine: LEAVES
Skinny: Though he was a solid special-teams contributor, the Ravens are likely to fill Considine’s spot with a younger, cheaper option.

TE Billy Bajema: LEAVES
Skinny: With Dennis Pitta and Ed Dickson both scheduled to become unrestricted free agents next offseason, the Ravens should look to a younger option with some upside to fill their third tight end spot.

CB Chris Johnson: LEAVES
Skinny: The slew of injuries at the cornerback position midway through the season prompted the Ravens to sign the speedy veteran, but his services will no longer be needed.

LB Ricky Brown: LEAVES
Skinny: A preseason concussion landed the veteran on injured reserve, but Brown was little more than a camp body last summer.

Restricted free agents

(The Ravens can offer a first-round, second-round, or low tender to any of these players, giving them the right to match any offer sheet from an opposing team or to receive that team’s draft pick that matches the designation. The low tender awards a draft pick equal to the round in which the player was originally drafted. If the player originally went undrafted, it simply provides the team the right to match an offer sheet but awards no compensation for losing the player.)

TE Dennis Pitta: STAYS
Skinny: The Ravens may explore a multi-year extension for their talented tight end, but the second-round tender should be enough to keep Pitta in Baltimore for the 2013 season.

DL Arthur Jones: STAYS
Skinny: Jones started six games and really emerged in the second half of the season as an impact player along the defensive line, making him a likely candidate to receive a second-round tender.

TE Ed Dickson: STAYS
Skinny: Though his blocking skills are underrated, Dickson’s dwindling role as a receiver makes it likely that he’ll receive the low tender, meaning another team would have to fork over a third-round pick — the round in which he was drafted in 2010 — to sign him.

LS Morgan Cox: STAYS
Skinny: Happy with Cox’s services, the Ravens will either offer him the low tender or re-sign him to a lower salary than the $1.32 million attached to the tender.

OL Ramon Harewood: STAYS
Skinny: The 2010 sixth-round pick clearly fell out of favor after starting the first five games of the season at left guard, but the Ravens could look to sign Harewood at a lower rate after non-tendering him.

WR David Reed: LEAVES
Skinny: It’s possible the Ravens would re-sign Reed at a smaller salary, but they have several young wide receivers and Deonte Thompson can back up returner Jacoby Jones, which could prompt the 2010 fifth-round pick to seek an opportunity for more playing time elsewhere.

Exclusive-rights free agents


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Difficult decisions still loom for Ravens after locking up Flacco

Posted on 02 March 2013 by Luke Jones

General manager Ozzie Newsome and the Ravens front office had to wake up smiling the morning after reaching an agreement in principle with Joe Flacco on a six-year, $120.6 million contract that’s expected to be finalized Monday.

The move not only locks up the franchise quarterback for the long haul, but it’s also expected to provide short-term relief to a tight salary cap that would have had a difficult time absorbing a minimum of $14.9 million with the non-exclusive franchise tag. All the terms of the record-setting contract have yet to be released, but the 2013 cap number is just $7 million, according to CBS Sports’ Jason LaCanfora.

Estimated to have roughly $18 million in cap space before accounting for their quarterback or any of their unrestricted, restricted, or exclusive-rights free agents, the Ravens will now have some space to maneuver but not enough to change the entire landscape of their offseason. Moderation will be the key as Newsome will look to sign a couple of his own unrestricted free agents, make wise decisions on his seven restricted free agents, and then turn toward the open market to explore some shrewd signings.

Here’s a rundown of what to expect as the Ravens address their remaining free agents:

No tag this year

The first order of business will be the potential use of the franchise tag as teams have until Monday at 4 p.m. to designate a player if they so desire. Many have begun asking if Newsome and the Ravens will now use the tag on outside linebacker Paul Kruger or inside linebacker Dannell Ellerbe, but we received a preliminary answer to that query just a few days after the Super Bowl.

“If we get a deal done with Joe, we will not franchise another player,” said Newsome as he appealed to owner Steve Bisciotti with a humorous tone. “We will not do that. You are OK with that, right?”

The 2013 tag numbers released by the NFL on Friday suggest that stance isn’t changing as the Ravens would be looking at a $9.6 million cost at the linebacker position. As it relates to Kruger, the pass rusher could contest that he should be considered a defensive end, which commands an $11.175 million tag number for the 2013 season.

Those price tags are far too expensive for Kruger or Ellerbe as the Ravens would be looking at massive cuts to accommodate the franchise tag, regardless of what Flacco’s 2013 cap number ultimately is.

Cuts still coming

We’ve spent plenty of time discussing which veterans might be on the chopping block due to cap constraints and the Ravens will still pull the trigger on a few. It just won’t be the mass exodus that was feared if Flacco had received either of the franchise tag options.

Offensive lineman Bobbie Williams is the easiest decision as the Ravens will clear $1.2 million from their cap by releasing the 36-year-old lineman. Linebackers Brendon Ayanbadejo ($806,000 in savings) and Jameel McClain ($1.8 million saved) are also likely to go, with McClain becoming far more expendable if the Ravens can sign Dannell Ellerbe to a long-term deal before he hits the open market.

It would be an unpopular decision, but fullback Vonta Leach remains an intriguing option to release as it would save $3 million in cap space. Leach is tremendous at what he does as the best pure fullback in the NFL, but the Ravens are clearly moving toward a pass-heavy attack after committing the richest contract in league history to their quarterback.

The 31-year-old Leach took part in just 39.7 percent of the Ravens’ offensive snaps in the postseason, so can you justify devoting that big of a cap number to the fullback with other pressing needs at left tackle and all over the defense? Should they part ways with Leach, tight end Ed Dickson could serve in more of an H-back capacity and the Ravens could look to a younger, cheaper option coming out of college.

The Flacco contract means wide receivers Anquan Boldin and Jacoby Jones are very likely to be safe, but the Ravens could explore reasonable contract extensions for both as they enter the final years of their respective contracts, thus lowering their cap numbers for 2013. This is especially true for Boldin, who carries a $7.5 million number for the upcoming season and proved himself worthy of a couple more years in Baltimore after an outstanding postseason.

Prioritizing unrestricted free agents


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Offseason begins and ends with resolving Flacco contract

Posted on 07 February 2013 by Luke Jones

OWINGS MILLS, Md. — Even after winning their second Super Bowl only days ago, the Ravens wasted no time in beginning preparations for the 2013 season.

A day after celebrating with a downtown parade and a rally at M&T Bank Stadium, general manager Ozzie Newsome, head coach John Harbaugh, and the front office were back at it with a 10-hour personnel meeting on Wednesday in which they evaluated 70 to 75 players. It’s no secret the Ravens face a tight salary cap this offseason, leaving many to wonder if they’d go the same route used in the offseason following Super Bowl XXXV in which the organization put cap ramifications on the back burner in favor of making another run at a championship.

Newsome and owner Steve Bisciotti put that possibility to rest at the Ravens’ season-review press conference on Thursday.

“We will not repeat what we did in 2001 because we’re trying to build where we can win Super Bowls more than just one more time,” Newsome said. “I think our team is structured differently this time also. We do have some veterans that will probably be retiring, but we’ve got a great nucleus of young players and players that are just heading into their prime that we’re going to build this team around. We are not going to be restructuring contracts or doing all of those different things to be able to just maintain this team to make another run. We’re not doing that.

“That doesn’t mean that we don’t want to try to go and repeat.”

That reality means the Ravens will likely say goodbye to a number of their 13 unrestricted free agents, which include safety Ed Reed, linebackers Paul Kruger and Dannell Ellerbe, cornerback Cary Williams, and quarterback Joe Flacco. Of those players, Flacco is the only one certain to return as the Ravens will try to reach a long-term agreement with the Super Bowl XLVII Most Valuable Player prior to the deadline for using the franchise tag on March 4.

Even with a long-term contract completed with the quarterback, the Ravens are unlikely to maintain the services of Kruger or Williams, who will both receive significant offers on the free-agent market in mid-March. According to several reports, the Ravens are expected to have roughly $15 million in cap space including the money saved from Ray Lewis’ retirement, but that doesn’t account for money needed for the tag for Flacco and for tenders offered to restricted and exclusive-rights free agents. Of course, additional money could come via the retirement of veterans such as Matt Birk or Bobbie Williams or by releasing other veterans.

“We’re not going to get caught up in the moment and do things to our salary cap and make decisions in the euphoria of winning that could hurt us in 2014 and 2015 like we did in 2001,” owner Steve Bisciotti said. “Every single veteran was restructured, I think, so that every single veteran could stay and then we ended up losing so many people the next year. We don’t want to do that.”

In order to maintain any real sense of continuity, the Ravens must agree on a long-term contract with Flacco, but agent Joe Linta has said he’s aiming for his client to become the highest-paid quarterback in the league. The 2008 first-round pick is believed to be seeking $20 million per season with a significant portion of the deal including guaranteed money.

Bisciotti said Thursday the organization offered Flacco a “top-5” contract last summer and believes winning the Super Bowl this season would not hinder negotiations more than if the Ravens had exited in the first round of the playoffs.

“We’re looking to get a fair deal with Joe and, yes, the franchise number does consume a lot of cap room,” Newsome said. “We’re looking for a fair deal; Joe Linta is looking for a fair deal. If we are able to get a deal done, it will allow us to be able to participate more in the market if we so choose. But we understand what the priority is.”

That priority would include being forced to use the franchise tag to keep Flacco in Baltimore, which would cost $14.6 million for the 2013 season. However, that is only the price for a non-exclusive designation, meaning teams could sign Flacco to an offer sheet if they’d be willing to fork over two first-round picks should the Ravens not match the offer.

The exclusive rights tag would cost roughly $20 million, but it would prohibit teams desperate enough for a quarterback to negotiate with Flacco. Last year, the Redskins traded three first-round picks and a second-round pick to the St. Louis Rams in exchange for the second overall pick to draft Robert Griffin III.

“What you have to look at is what the Redskins did this past year to move up to get Robert Griffin,” Newsome said. “If someone thinks that a quarterback is that valuable and I’m sure you can talk to [the Washington front office], they’re very happy with [Griffin] right now and they don’t mind not having those draft picks. I don’t know what 31 other teams are doing, so we have to prepare ourselves for it.”

As the Ravens continue to organize their list of priorities for the 2013 offseason, the fate of Flacco remains at the top of the list as a long-term agreement is a must in order to maintain hope of re-signing or acquiring any impact players.

But time is running out as Newsome joked that the Ravens are “five weeks behind” the rest of the league after winning the Super Bowl. Much has changed with the perception of Flacco, who just completed one of the greatest playoff performances in NFL history.

“I’m coming away today thinking that we can get a deal done,” Newsome said. “We’ve gotten deals done with Haloti [Ngata], [Jonathan Ogden], Ray [Lewis], Ray Rice, Ed Reed, [Terrell] Suggs. I’ve got a very good owner who understands the business [and] understands the importance of certain positions, so I’m optimistic.”

Biggest need up the middle

Asked to assess the biggest area of need for next season, Newsome admitted the middle of the Baltimore defense needed to be improved, in part because of the failure of young players to step up but also due to a number of possible departures.

With Lewis retiring and Ellerbe and Reed potentially hitting the open market, the Ravens could look very different at the linebacker and safety positions next season. Jameel McClain, Josh Bynes, and Brendon Ayanbadejo would be the top returning inside linebackers while 2012 fourth-round pick Christian Thompson would be the next man up on the depth chart at the safety position.

The combination of third-year player Terrence Cody and veteran Ma’ake Kemoeatu was also severely disappointing at the nose tackle position.

“As we talked about it, the middle of the defense [is a priority],” Newsome said. “We think we’ve got to get better at defensive tackle. We know we have one linebacker retiring and another that’s a free agent. We have a safety that’s a free agent and some young guys that have yet to step up. We would say the middle of the defense is the one area that we would concentrate on.

“In saying that, we realized that pass rushers and guys that can cover, we felt pretty good about that.”

The Ravens might not feel as good about their pass rush with the expected departure of Kruger, but Terrell Suggs figures to bounce back from an injury-plagued season and rookie Courtney Upshaw played effectively against the run and should continue to develop in his first full offseason with the team.

Newsome expressed no specific concerns on the offensive side of the football beyond the need to secure Flacco long-term.

“Offensively, we will not turn down a good player if that player is available for us on the offensive side of the ball,” Newsome said. “We just won’t do it, because you can never have enough depth.”

Chance of Reed return?


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A quick look at the Ravens’ 2013 class of free agents

Posted on 07 February 2013 by Luke Jones

With the Ravens’ brass meeting with the media for the end-of-the-year press conference on Thursday morning, here’s an early look at their list of free agents this offseason. Much will be determined by the contract status of quarterback Joe Flacco and whether the organization will need to use the franchise tag or be able to sign him to a long-term contract.

A Flacco long-term agreement is a must to avoid a large number of salary-cap casualties that could include key veterans such as wide receivers Anquan Boldin and Jacoby Jones, fullback Vonta Leach, and linebacker Jameel McClain.

As we move closer to March, I’ll provide a closer look on how the Ravens might proceed this winter and spring.


The Ravens will have the opportunity to re-sign any of the 13 following unrestricted free agents before they are free to sign with any other team on March 12 at 4:00 p.m.:

QB Joe Flacco
S Ed Reed
LB Paul Kruger
LB Dannell Ellerbe
OT Bryant McKinnie
CB Cary Williams
DT Ma’ake Kemoeatu
S James Ihedigbo
S Sean Considine
TE Billy Bajema
DT Ryan McBean
LB Ricky Brown
CB Chris Johnson


The following players have accrued three years of service and have expiring contracts. The Ravens must tender each with a restricted free agent offer, but other teams may then sign that player to an offer sheet. If that happens, Baltimore has seven days to match the offer and keep the aforementioned player. If the Ravens choose not to match the offer sheet, they would receive compensation based on which tender was initially offered to that player.

There are three different tenders that can be made: a first-round tender (estimated $2.88 million) would award the competing team’s first-round selection, a second-round tender ($2.02 million) would award the competing team’s second-round selection, and a low tender ($1.32 million) would award the competing team’s draft selection equal to the round in which the player was originally chosen. For example, a restricted free agent selected in the fifth round would be worth a fifth-round pick if given the low tender. If a player went undrafted originally and is given the low tender, the Ravens would simply hold the right to match the offer and would not receive any compensation if they elected not to match a competing offer.

The original round in which each player was drafted is noted in parentheses:

TE Dennis Pitta (4th)
DT Arthur Jones (5th)
TE Ed Dickson (3rd)
LS Morgan Cox (undrafted)
WR David Reed (5th)
OL Ramon Harewood (6th)


These players have less than three years of accrued service and must be tendered a contract for the league minimum based on their length of service in the league. If tendered, these players are not free to negotiate with other teams.

LB Josh Bynes
LB Albert McClellan
RB Anthony Allen
RB Damien Berry
RB Bobby Rainey
LB Adrian Hamilton
DT Bryan Hall
S Anthony Levine
S Omar Brown
S Emanuel Cook

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Kruger expecting to have breakout game against 49ers

Posted on 30 January 2013 by WNST Staff


(on being given a compliment by a right tackle on the 49ers) “I appreciate the compliment. I would tell him that he’s probably one of the most aggressive tackles I’ve seen play, so I definitely have a lot of respect for him. I think it’s going to be a good matchup.”


(on practicing today) “It’s hard to focus on everything at once. All the media stuff and the extracurricular action, it makes it enjoyable but at the same time we’re down here to win a game so we’re anxious to get out there and start practicing.”


(on the journey to the Super Bowl) “It’s been a roller coaster to say the least. We’ve had times in the season when it seems like people were losing hope, and even us as players were doubting ourselves. And then we’ve had good times when we’ve won big games and had players come up and make huge plays to change our season. The fact that we’re ending here in New Orleans is just a perfect scenario for us and we couldn’t ask for a better situation.”


(on the buildup over past years of not making the Super Bowl) “I think there was build up. We’ve felt like that for a long time. Every home game you play in Baltimore you just feel the electricity that the city has. We’ve been able to carry that through the season and on our away games. Playoffs were big. Winning those last two games we played was just really special. We felt blessed and honored to be here, so it’s just a good time for us and I think Ray is right. It is our time and we’re pretty focused on the task at hand.”


(on Ray Lewis saying his teammates wouldn’t be distracted by yesterday’s accusations) “I think Ray is right. I was talking to Ray the other day and saying, ‘Man, I don’t know how you deal with it.’ He’s just a guy who’s overcome so much in his life and he’s had a career that speaks for itself. He’s a special person and a special player and I respect him. He’s a brother to me. I don’t know much about the situation. I haven’t heard that much. It’s not going to be a distraction at all.”


(on the media circus around Ray Lewis) “Me and Ray are really close. We’re good friends. He’s like a brother to me. To see it all on TV and to hear about it all, it’ll really lift your spirit. Some of it’s been negative. You can see the flaws, but there’s just so much and it’s something that we deal with really well and I think our team is used to. At this point we’re pretty focused on the game.”


(on Ray Lewis being a player who is capable of handling the media) “Absolutely. He’s the guy for the job. He’s been through a lot and has had a great career and has experienced the lows and the highs, so he knows how to deal with that.”


(on his own impact on the game) “It’s been something I’ve looked forward to for a really long time. I can’t wait to get out there on the field and start experiencing the flow of the game. It’s going to be just like any other game, but there’s a little more hype and attention around it, so I’m pretty excited.”


(on his assignment this week) “It’s going to change. Different plays in the defense will require you to do different things. Your assignment might change from one day to the next. It boils down to everybody doing their assignment and doing it well and making plays.”


(on whether or not this will be a breakout game for him) “Definitely. Anybody who has a big game in this tough environment is going to get a lot of attention. I think I could definitely have a big game. We’ll see how it goes.”


(on who the best athlete is on the Ravens) “Besides myself, I’d have to go with either Tyrod Taylor…well, top three is me, Tyrod Taylor and Haloti Ngata. Tyrod is just explosive. He’s the guy – I think he’s probably right around six foot – who can dunk a basketball any way you want him to. He’s shifty. He’s fast. He’s just kind of one of those guys who can just do anything. Haloti (Ngata) – a guy who’s 350 (pounds), a giant man – can move like he’s a running back. It’s very rare to see somebody at that size be so athletic. Sam Cook is also really athletic. He has a lot of skill. He can pick up a golf club. He can play basketball, baseball, and just do anything.”


(on the best athlete he’s ever played with) “It would have to be somebody on this team. I’m not sure.”


(on the best athlete in the NFL today) “Best overall athlete, a guy who can do anything? From what I’ve heard, Calvin Johnson, he seems like a ridiculous athlete. I don’t know. I’d have to give it to one of those tall receivers who fly around and played all types of sports.”

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Kruger has previous Superdome success on resume

Posted on 30 January 2013 by WNST Staff



(on winning Sugar Bowl against Alabama in 2009) “I thought about it just in regards to the city. I remember the city coming in and remember the stadium. It was a special time. It was one of the biggest games I’ve ever played in and Alabama was a great team. It was a special thing for Utah. We went undefeated and beat those guys in the Sugar Bowl. It was a really special memory for me. It’s a great place to play such a big game. There’s so much to do in the city and see. It’s a good time.”


(on drawing from Sugar Bowl experience) “Stay out of trouble at night. You’re down here for a couple of days. You have to know how to handle yourself, just do what you have to do to prepare right for the game. I don’t see it being too much different than any other game.”


(on the season) “I knew it was going to be a big change and a good opportunity for me. Coach Harbaugh and I had a lot of conversation about it. It’s exciting, you know. It was an honor to be a part of this team for this year especially. Now we have one more game to kind of top it off right. It’s one of those things that comes your way so many times, so im just grateful to be a part of it.”


(on back trouble in September) “I was extremely worried about it. It was probably one of the most stressful times in my life. Here I was, I had this great opportunity ahead of me and I had something small acting up like that. I wish the best for anyone that has any problems because it’s a paralyzing effect. It was tough so I am glad that I was able to get out of it and get healthy. Looking back, I am really grateful and feel blessed.”


(on any future rule changes in respect to players safety) “I don’t think so. It’s a really hard, sensitive subject because that’s what makes football exciting. It’s why people love it. I think the possibility of injury and the danger side of the game is what draws even the players to it. It’s a man’s game and we take pride in playing. I think that’s why fans have a lot of respect and love for the players because they really give it their all. Everyone is getting paid. At the same time, you are putting yourself at risk and in harm’s way.  I think taking that aspect of the game out is really dangerous for the game because it’s a really important element. At the same time, you don’t want to see anyone have any kind of long term injuries and effects from it. So, I’m glad I don’t have to make those decisions because it’s tough. I think things evolve and people adjust. I don’t see it ever becoming not a popular game because it has so much history.”


(on off-field experiences in life) “I normally don’t say anything about religion or God, especially when I am being interviewed. I really feel like I have been blessed, prayers have been answered, and I’ve overcome a lot, been through a lot. If it wasn’t for my family, faith in God, and all that I don’t think I would have been able to get through it.”


(on Ray Lewis last game/retirement) “I am so happy for Ray. He’s had an amazing career. It’s just a perfect scenario of a way to end your career. Everybody looks at retirement as a sad or negative thing but I don’t see it like that at all. I couldn’t be happier for Ray. This is a time in his life where he’ll be able to step back, relax, and enjoy certain things that you can’t enjoy as a player. You get more time with your family, live where you want to live, and just see a side of life. As players, you play for so long and for him to be able to approach this time and having accomplished all that he did; it’s really an amazing thing.


(on punching another child, as a child, to play football) “It’s a true story. I used to be wild. I’ve always been really competitive. Back in the day, I had a really bad temper. I was probably tough on my parents.”


(on wanting to be a quarterback) “I always saw myself as a quarterback and knew that’s what I wanted to play. Unfortunately, it didn’t work out that way. I think if there was a position on defense that I would have wanted to play it would have been D-end. In my opinion, I think they have more of an impact on the game, especially the way it is played more nowadays. It was kind of my decision, they brought me in to play quarterback. I saw we had some other guys like Alex Smith and they were all older, talented players. I was anxious to get on the field and be apart of the team and be a contributor. I told coach, ‘Hey, if there’s a position where I can get on the field sooner, I’d love to make that change.”

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Ravens not looking for ways to lose, but defeats suddenly finding them

Posted on 09 December 2012 by Luke Jones

LANDOVER, Md. — Finding a way to win had been the Ravens’ mantra on their way to a 9-2 start this season despite critical injuries, a pedestrian defense, and a schizophrenic offense.

That combination prompted critics to continuously doubt how good the Ravens really were as they appeared ready to cruise to their second straight AFC North title.

But Sunday’s 31-28 overtime loss to the Washington Redskins left the Ravens searching for answers — and themselves — after suffering their second consecutive defeat for the first time in three years. They have never viewed themselves as the type of team that snatches defeat from the jaws of victory, but the Ravens have done just that the last two weeks.

“I don’t want to say we find a way to lose,” safety Ed Reed said. “We damn sure [aren’t] looking for a way to lose. This is the NFL. This is a season we’re going through.”

It’s been quite a season, indeed, as the peaks had been more prevalent than valleys, but this recent slide is territory not visited by the Ravens in recent seasons.

The Ravens don’t lose games at M&T Bank Stadium. Until they did last week against Pittsburgh for the first time in two years.

They bounce back from rare losses, refusing to fall into the pit of a losing streak. But they did just that at FedEx Field on Sunday as Redskins kicker Kai Forbath booted the game-winning 34-yard field goal to officially hand the Ravens a two-game skid.

And despite holding fourth-quarter leads in each of their last two games, the Ravens are now 0-2 in December, the month in which they’ve thrived under coach John Harbaugh. They entered last week’s game with a 14-5 record in December and January over their first four seasons under Harbaugh.

“I don’t want to be known as ‘Yeah, we get them close in the fourth quarter, and the Ravens are going to give it away,'” said running back Ray Rice, who rushed for 121 yards and a touchdown on 20 carries. “That’s never been us. That’s not going to be us.”

But it has been them the last two games as they missed their opportunity to not only clinch a playoff spot but would have locked up the division title on Sunday after losses by Pittsburgh and Cincinnati.

In reality, my overall opinion of the Ravens hasn’t changed dramatically over the last two weeks. But the results haven’t been the same as we saw over the season’s first 11 games.

Quarterback Joe Flacco and the offense produced 28 points but began the second half with two turnovers and two three-and-outs that caused their 21-14 halftime lead to shrink to 21-20 before their lone touchdown drive of the second half. They then produced another three-and-out in overtime before Richard Crawford’s 64-yard punt return sealed the Ravens’ fate.

The defense allowing 31 points certainly isn’t acceptable, but it was difficult to expect much better from the group with Terrell Suggs joining Dannell Ellerbe and Jimmy Smith on the sideline and Jameel McClain exiting the game in the third quarter. Even so, Dean Pees’ unit settled down after a brutal first quarter to keep the Redskins in check until they marched 85 yards for a touchdown pass, thrown by backup quarterback Kirk Cousins to add insult to injury.

At times, the Ravens looked like they would be good enough to come away with their 10th victory of the season.

But they weren’t and they didn’t. It’s a feeling they’re not used to.

“We are fighting through all the things you fight through at this stage of the season as a football team,” Harbaugh said. “That is why you don’t overreact to these things. It is a tough loss, and it is going to be a fight to the division championship and that is what we are fighting for right now.”

The Ravens lacked a killer instinct in the second half that was epitomized by Flacco, who followed a three-touchdown first half with two critical turnovers. The first was a sack-and-strip suffered by the quarterback for the second straight week after Michael Oher was beaten soundly by Rob Jackson. The second took potential points off the board and came inside the red zone as Flacco failed to react to a Ryan Kerrigan blitz quickly enough and was hit as he threw, leading to a London Fletcher interception.


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