Archive for April, 2009

Meet Your New Baltimore Ravens!

April 28, 2009

With the latest NFL Draft in the books, let’s take a closer look at the group of guys that Ozzie & Co. feel may be able to improve this team in 2009 and beyond.

1st Round – 23rd overall selection

Michael Oher, OT, Ole Miss

Oher is an extremely interesting pick.   Most experts had him going somewhere around picks 10-15.  That the Ravens were able to trade up just 3 spots and get him at 23 reportedly had their war room quite giddy.  Oher is expected to come in and immediately challenge Willie Anderson and Adam Terry (who may be relegated to afterthought) for the right tackle position, but Oher is even more valuable in that he can play the left side as well.

Oher is probably the first Ravens’ draft pick to have already been featured in a book before entering the NFL.  If you don’t have time to check out the entire book (which also features Jon Ogden), at least read this, courtesy of the Baltimore Sun.

2nd Round – 57th overall selection

Paul Kruger, DE/OLB, Utah

Continuing with the “build your team from the lines outward” philosophy, the Ravens moved to the defensive line for their next selection.  Kruger, who had 7.5 sacks in 2008, could potentially take over for the aging Trevor Pryce some day, and has been compared to Jared Allen of the Minnesota Vikings.  Hopefully Kruger will pan out better than a similar guy the Ravens took in the 2nd round a few years back, the injury-prone Dan Cody.

Like Oher, Kruger is another guy with an interesting past.   Last January, he was stabbed twice during a brawl at a party.

(Side note – Ravens fans, brace yourselves for the onslaught of Ray Lewis/Paul Kruger jokes.  Super.)

3rd Round – 88th overall selection

Ladarius Webb, CB, Nicholls State

Webb said on a radio interview last weekend that he tries to mold his game after Ed Reed.  Not a bad star to reach for.  He can play cornerback or safety, and can also be a potential return man.  He tied for the fastest 40-yard dash among CBs at this year’s NFL combine (4.46).  According to Scouts, Inc., he has above average recognition skills/toughness and ball skills, possesses exceptional durability, and hits hard for his size.

5th Round – 137th overall selection

Jason Phillips, ILB, Texas Christian

Many were surprised when the Ravens passed up Ray Maualuga (ILB, USC) in the first round, but Ozzie & Co. feel they may have addressed their ILB needs in the draft with the high-value, late-round selection of Phillips.  He started all 4 years at TCU and was First-Team All Mountain West in 2006 and 2008  (2nd team the other 2 seasons).  If he plays anywhere near as mean as he looks, well…let’s just say he has potential.  Perhaps another late 2nd day LB success story a la’ Adalius Thomas?  Let’s hope so.

5th Round – 149th overall selection

Davon Drew, TE, East Carolina

Once the Ravens missed out on Brandon Pettigrew, they ended up waiting until the 5th round to pick up their tight end.  A “project” type guy who can learn from veterans L.J. Smith and Todd Heap, Drew is more of a pass-catching tight end than a blocker.

Read his entire combine analysis here.

6th Round – 185th overall selection

 Cedric Peerman, RB, Virginia

Terps fans will be familiar with Peerman, the former Cavalier.  Unless he really stands out on special teams, most don’t really see room for him on the Ravens’ roster, behind Willis McGahee, Le’Ron McClain, and Ray Rice.

 

And With the 23rd Pick, the Ravens Select…

April 25, 2009

The Ravens traded up from 26 to 23, and used their 1st round pick on Michael Oher, an offensive tackle from Mississippi.  

 

New Madden Cover Announced!

April 24, 2009

Double the Curse this year?  We can only assume that the picture on the front of the game will be made of the same picture BmoreBirdsNest created for the super bowl this year.  Congratulations to Larry Fitz and Troy Catchaleprechaun.

So without further ado… your Madden 2010 Video Game Cover!

Madden 2010

Mock Draft Round-Up 2K9

April 22, 2009

We haven’t dove into the pre-draft speculations as hard as we did last year here at the Nest.  Mostly just because picking 26th isnt quite as exciting as picking 8th, right?  Of course, nobody around here is going to complain if the Ravens are picking near the bottom of the first round for the next oh, say, 20 years or so.

However, with the Draft only 3 days away, it’s high time we rounded up what the mock draft prognosticators have the Ravens doing with that 26th selection.

First, some bloggers:

New England Patriots Draft: Alphonso Smith, CB, Wake Forest

Draft Zoo:  Percy Harvin, WR, Florida

My Sports Rumors:  Harvin

Bear Goggles On:  Kenny Britt, WR, Rutgers

Ebony Bird:  Darius Heyward-Bey, WR, Maryland

View From the Student Section:   Hakeem Nicks, WR, North Carolina

NFL Draft HQ:  Robert Ayers, DE, Tennessee

The Trojan Empire:   Nicks

Niner Cap Hell:   Britt

NFL Draft Specialist:   Duke Robinson, OG, Oklahoma

And now for some Bigger Sites:

Pro Football Weekly:  Vontae Davis, CB, Illinois

National Football Post:  Rey Maualuga, LB, USC

Pro Football Talk:   Britt

The big boys:

CBS Sports

Rob Rang:  Heyward-Bey

Chad Reuter:  Maualuga

Michael Lombardi:  Britt

Pete Prisco:  Davis

Clark Judge:  Harvin

The Sporting News

Consensus:  Britt

Sports Illustrated

Don Banks:   Maualuga

Fox Sports

Peter Schrager:   Larry English, DE/LB, Northern Illinois

ESPN

Blog Network:  Heyward-Bey

Of course, we saved the best “mock-ers” for last:

Todd McShay:  Britt

Mel Kiper, Jr.:  Davis

So there you have it.  The tally, just based on this small sample size of 24 mock drafts from around the interwebs:

Position:

WR:  14

LB:  3.5

CB:  4

OG: 1

DE: 1.5

Player:

Kenny Britt: 6

Darius Heyward-Bey:  4

Rey Maualuga:  3

Vontae Davis:  3

Hakeem Nicks:  2

Percy Harvin:  2

Duke Robinson:  1

Robert Ayers:  1

Alphonso Smith:  1

Larry English:  1

And what about our official prediction here at the Nest?  We’ll go with this:

Ozzie will surprise you.

All You Need to Know

April 21, 2009

Ravens 2009 Schedule

April 14, 2009

The NFL released the 2009 schedule this evening, and here is how things turned out for our boys in purple:

Week 1 : vs. Kansas City Chiefs, 1 PM

Week 2: @ San Diego Chargers, 4:15 PM

Week 3: vs. Cleveland Browns, 1 PM

Week 4: @ New England Patriots, 1 PM

Week 5: vs. Cincy Bengals, 1 PM

Week 6: @ Minnesota Vikings, 1 PM

Week 7: Bye

Week 8: vs. Denver Broncos, 1 PM

Week 9: @ Bengals, 1 PM

Week 10: @ Browns, 8:30 PM (Monday Night Football)

Week 11: vs. Indianapolis Colts, 1 PM

Week 12: vs. Pittsburgh Steelers, 8:20 PM (Sunday Night Football)

Week 13: @ Green Bay Packers, 8:30 PM (Monday Night Football)

Week 14: vs. Detroit Lions, 1 PM

Week 15: vs. Chicago Bears, 1 PM

Week 16: @ Steelers, 1 PM

Week 17: @ Oakland Raiders, 4:15 PM

Thoughts: Nice to see that FINALLY the Squealers have to come to Baltimore for a prime time game – the last time they did so being the 2003 season.  On the other hand, the Ravens finally don’t have to play a prime time game in Shitsburgh, for just the 2nd time since 2005.  Important?  Maybe, maybe not – but the fact is, the Ravens lost in prime time in Pittsburgh in 05, 07, and 08; the last time they played a non-prime time game there (06), they won 31-7.

Just sayin.

Also, it seems a bit odd that the Ravens are completely finished with the rest of their division schedule (4 games against the Ohio teams) before playing the first against Pittsburgh.  Seems like things should be spread more evenly, no?

Starting up the season at home against Kansas City sounds good on paper, sitting here on April 14.  Take that for what it’s worth though, which is pretty much nothing.

The two west coast trips for the Ravens are about as spread out as they could possibly be, in Weeks 2 and 17.

By sheer terrible luck, both the Colts and Patriots finished 2nd in their respective divisions last year, so we get to play them, while the Steelers get the Titans and Dolphins instead.  Hmm….Titans/Dolphins, or Pats/Colts?  F’in Aye.

Finally, the Ravens ended up with 3 total prime time appearances, 2 Monday Night games and 1 Sunday night game.  The quirk is that these 3 games are all in a 4 week span, in Weeks 10-13.  Only one of them is at home, the aforementioned Pittsburgh game.  So B’More will have that many extra hours to get hammered all day before dealing with those rag waving goofs.

Maryland National Guard, be on alert.

Not A Bad Start

April 13, 2009

The Orioles opened the 2009 season by taking their first 2 series, one each from the New York Yankees and Tampa Bay Rays.  A 4-2 first week leaves us little to complain about so far, and if it weren’t for the 5-1 start of the Toronto Blue Jays, we could even crow a little about being in first place.  Lest we forget, the O’s teased us this same way with a hot start last year too.

Top Heavy

Not unlike Mrs. Brian Roberts, the O’s lineup has been a bit top heavy so far.  Roberts, Adam Jones, and Nick Markakis are all off to sizzling starts, hitting a combined .382, with 8 doubles, a triple, and 19 runs scored.

Actually, the entire O’s order has been hitting pretty well…I just wanted an excuse to link to a picture of Diana.

Melvin Mora is hitting .421, and blasted a grand slam on Saturday.  Aubrey Huff is at .360, Luke Scott at .300, and even Gregg Zaun is showing a little pop, with 3 hits in 14 at-bats, all of them doubles.

(An aside to Gregg, though – get your damn web team to update your fan site, which still seems to think you play in Toronto!)

Pitching Reversal

The consensus coming into the season was that the O’s starters were going to be absolutely dreadful as a group, but the bullpen was much more reliable.  If, by some miracle, the starters could hand a lead to the pen in the 7th inning or so, the rest was supposed to be gravy, what with Jim Johnson, Chris Ray, and George Sherrill back there to close things out.

However, after one week, that hasn’t really been the case.

The starters have pitched very well – Jeremy Guthrie, who had all of us scared after his horrific spring, is 2-0, and has given up only 3 ER in 12 innings; Koji Uehara was solid in his MLB debut, going 5 innings, giving up only 1 run and 5 hits against the Yankees on Wednesday; Alfredo Simon was fairly decent, giving up 4 to the Yanks over 5; and Mark Hendrickson surpassed all expectations, if only for one game, by throwing 5.1 of 1-run ball to Tampa.  (Adam Eaton is another story…piss poor on Sunday – 4 IP, 4 R, 8 H, 2 BB)

The bullpen, though, nearly blew some decent leads last week, and was far from dominant.

Dennis Sarfate:  3 IP, 3 ER

Chris Ray: 2.1 IP, 4 ER

Jim Johnson: 2 IP, 2 ER

Hell, Danys Baez, who O’s fans love to hate (my friend who was at the game with me Friday, when Baez threw 1.2 innings of hitless ball, told me he was torn while watching Baez do well, because he really wants them to “ship him out”), is one of only 2 O’s relievers yet to allow a run after the first week (Jamie Walker being the other).

To Ray’s credit, he seemed to be back on his game Saturday night, when he fanned all 3 Tampa batters he faced.

Matt Albers, who had allowed only 1 run in 2.2 innings, was optioned out to make space for Adam Eaton on Saturday.

Sherrill saved 2 in the first week, including a nail-biter on Friday night when he struck out potential tying run, Akinori Iwamura, on a full count after giving up a solo HR to Dioner Navarro.

On Deck

The tough April continues for the Birds, as they travel to Arlington to take on the hard-hitting Texas Rangers (3-3), before going to Fenway for a weekend series against the Sux.  Texas, as usual, can hit with the best of them (3rd in the AL in runs scored), and can’t pitch a lick (2nd most runs allowed in AL).  The O’s bats will need to stay hot, and given our own tenous pitching situation, we can probably put the over/under on total runs for each game in this series at about 14.5.

We Can't BOO Now? F-OFF, National Media!

April 8, 2009

After Orioles fans gave Mark Teixiera a very loud, very sustained, and very DESERVING welcome home the other day, it apparently caused many of the national media types to get their panties in a bunch.

“Classless,” “mean-spirited,” “uninformed,” “drunk idiots,” and the like are words being used to describe O’s fans by people such as Colin Cowherd, Peter Gammons, Jon Heyman, and Ken Rosenthal.

Mike Greenberg even chided Orioles fans for “hurting Tex’s feelings.”

Give me a break.

Nobody threw anything at Teixeira, right?  Such as, oh, I dunno, batteries, a la Yankee Stadium bleachers?  Or even like baseballs and beer cups, as was done by Toronto fans?

What kind of reaction is Teixeira going to receive when the Yankees go play in Boston?  On top of the usual disdain that the Fenway faithful have for all Yankees, Tex can probably expect even worse, seeing as how he chose the Yanks over the Sawx this offseason.

Where will the outrage be then?

Nowhere to be found, I’m sure, as Gammons et al.  will just go on and on about the “great rivalry” between the two clubs, and tell us for the bazillionth time how “passionate” the two fan bases are.

The collective hard-on that these ESPN/SI types have for Boston-New York blinds them to any possibility that other fan bases even exist, and “HOW DARE THEY BOO THE YANKEES?”

It was great to see Orioles fans coming together in a common cause, in a way so many have not for the past decade-plus.  If it takes villainizing Mark Teixeira to accomplish that, then so be it.  No talking head Yankee-lovers are going to make us feel bad about it, right?

1-0!

April 7, 2009

Well, that went about as well as could have been expected.

“Ace” rebounds from a horrendous spring with a strong opening day start?

Check.  Jeremy Guthrie went 6 innings, allowing 3 ER on 7 hits, striking out 3.

Fan favorite and All-Star 2nd baseman, who had us worried about his health, shows that he is just fine?

Check.  Brian Roberts went 3-for-4, with 2 singles and a double, and scored 2 runs.

The “kids” look ready to step up and continue their development as the future current stars of the team?

Check.  Adam Jones was 3-for-3, with 2 singles and a triple, knocked in 2 runs and scored 3.  Nick Markakis went 2-for-4 with 2 RBI.

Local boy turned villain, who shunned his hometown team for the evil empire, gets a wonderful B’More welcome, and chokes in the clutch?

Check and check.  Mark Teixeira heard an earful from the O’s fans all afternoon, getting lustily booed from opening introductions all the way through his 0-for-4 Yankees debut, during which he left 5 men on base.

(I fully expect a video from the stadium, that captures the “booooo birds,” to surface sometime soon…I just can’t find one yet.)

Edit: In the meantime, we have this (courtesy of DeadSpin)

Beat down said evil empire, and their new “big (fat), bad (bad),” #1 starter?

Check.  The O’s won, 10-5, chasing C.C. Sabathia after only 4.1, during which he gave up 6 runs on 8 hits, and racked up exactly ZERO strikeouts.

Sure, there were some low spots (Chris Ray’s 54.00 ERA after 1 day, for instance, or the fact that O’s pitchers still managed to walk 6 batters, many in the most head-scratching of situations), but those can be glossed over for now.  The fact of the matter is, the O’s are 1-0, and (damn you Toronto!) tied for 1st place atop the A.L. East.

And there ain’t nothin wrong with that.

Keep Rolle'in Rolle'in Rolle'in

April 7, 2009

Samari Rolle resigned with the Ravens yesterday, inking a new 4-year deal.  Rolle had asked for, and been granted, his outright release by the team in the wake of their recent acquisitions of cornerbacks Dominique Foxworth and Chris Carr.

However, after a heart-to-heart-to-heart between Ozzie Newsome, John Harbaugh, and himself last week, Samari decided that coming back to B’More would be the best way to go.

This is music to our ears (not unlike Limp Bizkit was ca. 2001).  At 32, Rolle is still a very strong cover corner in the NFL.  His main weakness is in helping out with the run game, but if he assumes the nickel back position (as we expect he will) behind Foxworth and Fabian Washington, he won’t be in on many run situations anyway.  Being relieved of coming up to put hits on running backs, as he is loathe to do, should help keep Rolle fresh throughout games and seasons in 2009 and beyond.

Welcome back, Samari.


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