Archive for the ‘News’ Category

Ravens Add Offensive Line Depth with LeVoir, Murphy

August 21, 2011

The Ravens have been looking a bit thin at offensive tackle here leading up to the start of the regular season, with Oneil Cousins proving to everybody that he has no business garnering even a hint of consideration to play the position, and rookie Jah Reid most likely not completely ready to step in and take on the Pittsburgh Steelers’ pass rushers on his own in week 1.

Well, they’ve addressed the issue this weekend, adding not one but two veteran offensive tackles.

The first was former New England Patriot Mark LeVoir. Levoir played his college ball at Notre Dame, and was signed by the Chicago Bears as an undrafted rookie free agent in 2006. He is plenty big enough over there, at 6’7″ 310 lbs. For the past three seasons, LeVoir played 32 games for the Patriots, including all 16 (two starts at RT) in 2008.

According to Aaron Wilson of the Carroll County Times, LeVoir reportedly refused to take a pay cut to stay in New England.

For what it’s worth, in the two games LeVoir started in 2008, Matt Cassel was sacked a total of nine times. I can’t tell from the box scores how many of those LeVoir was responsible for but…well, there you have it.

Again: I have absolutely no context for those stats or their relation to Mark LeVoir. Don’t quote me as saying he’s a bum, or that he gave up 9 sacks in two games. Just presenting the facts.

The other guy the Ravens signed was former Tennessee Titan Jason Murphy.

Aaron Wilson had this to say about the center-guard:

Murphy is a Baltimore native who played collegiately at Virginia Tech.

Murphy, 29, is a 6-foot-2, 304-pounder who has previously played for the Titans, San Diego Chargers and the Seattle Seahawks, spending time on various practice squads.

He has also played in the United Football League with the New York Sentinels and Florida Tuskers.

He was also First-Team All ACC in 2005. I was hoping to expand on the whole “Baltimore Native” thing – maybe find out where he went to high school – but I can’t seem to find much information. According to Jason’s page at, he has never so much as appeared in a regular season game. (If any of you know where Murphy went to high school or can provide any more accurate NFL information, let me know).

Update: Murphy went to Edmondson High School. Thanks to reader Matt for the heads up. He was also the Baltimore Sun’s defensive player of the year in 2001. For more info, see this post from It’s two years old, but it goes into some nice detail of the charity work that Murphy is (was?) involved in locally.

Hopefully LeVoir and Murphy can show something in the coming weeks, and can help solidify what remains quite a shaky situation up front for the Ravens.

Ravens Acquire Lee Evans From Buffalo

August 12, 2011

Well, this should help quiet the bellyaching about the Ravens’ lack of receivers from SOME factions of the fanbase.

According to ESPN’s Adam Schefter, the Ravens have acquired Buffalo Bills wide receiver Lee Evans via trade.

While it had been rumored that the Bills were hoping to get a 3rd-round pick in exchange for Evans, it seems the Ravens were able to land the 8th-year veteran for a 4th rounder.

Apparently the Ravens’ brass was significantly underwhelmed last night by the performance of Torrey Smith to feel that they had to make this move. Evans instantly becomes the team’s #2 wide receiver, with Smith and Tandon Doss likely to work in as the #3-4 guys, depending on the offensive package.

Evans, 30, has had two 1000-yard receiving seasons (2006 and 2008), and averages 15.7 yards per reception for his career. He gives the Ravens a legitimate burner on the outside. In addition, Evans has been durable during his time in the NFL – he missed 3 games in 2010, the first time in his career he had missed even a single contest.

He was a Raven-killer as well. In last year’s contest, he caught 6 balls for 105 yards and 3 touchdowns at M&T Bank Stadium. In a 2007 game, he caught 5 for 98, and in the 2006 finale, 7 for 145 and a score.

Let’s hope Cam Cameron and Joe Flacco can get Evans up to speed quickly. We need all the help we can get.

Still, it doesn’t matter who the receivers are if the offensive line can’t keep Joe Flacco on his feet. O-line should be the next priority moving forward.

Running Back Ricky Williams Joins Ravens

August 8, 2011

According to ProFootballTalk, the Ravens have agreed on a two-year contract with veteran running back Ricky Williams.

With Willis McGahee and Le’Ron McClain gone, the Ravens needed a veteran presence at tailback.

They’ve gotten it with the addition of Ricky Williams.

Per a league source, Williams signed a two-year deal.  It’s worth up to $4 million.

Personally, I really like this move. I was just telling some friends who were with me at Ravens practice on Saturday that I would like to see the team sign the veteran runner. Though he is, at 34, a grandfather as far as NFL running backs go, Williams has proven over the past few seasons in Miami that he can be very effective in a platoon situation. Which is, of course, exactly what he will be entering here in Baltimore with Ray Rice. In addition, he missed all of 2006 and all but one game of 2007 for various…personal reasons.

Williams averaged 4.7 and 4.2 yards per carry in 2009 and 2010, respectively, with the Dolphins. The 4.2 was better than any of Rice (4.0), Willis McGahee (3.8), or Le’Ron McClain (3.0) put up last season. Running behind Vonta Leach is also likely to extend the tread on Williams’ tires a bit.

Ricky, of course, is as well known for his off-the-field eccentricity as he is for his play on the field. Featured in one of my favorite of the ESPN “30 for 30” documentaries, “Run Ricky Run,” Williams nonetheless seems to be at a point in his life and career where all that silliness is behind him.

Now we’re all just waiting to see him in a wedding dress next to John Harbaugh.

Ray Rice and Ricky Williams give the Ravens a formidable 1-2 punch in the backfield. With those two handling the majority of the workload, it will be interesting to see, however, which of the rookie running backs steps up and becomes a viable 3rd-down back this season. If you remember in 2008, McClain and McGahee received the bulk of the carries, while Rice was the change-of-pace/3rd-down guy. Who will be 2011’s version of the 2008 Ray Rice? Anthony Allen? D.J. Berry? Another, as-of-yet-unsigned runner?

Should the unthinkable happen and Ray Rice get seriously injured, Williams will not be able to handle the load of a featured running back, and the Ravens will still be forced to scramble for another option. Regardless, the team’s offense is in a better position today than it was yesterday – or last season for that matter.

The Rice, Williams, Leach combination is an upgrade from Rice, McGahee, McClain.

Let’s hope the next priority is doing something about the center position.

Ravens Add Safety Bernard Pollard

August 4, 2011

It was widely assumed that with Ravens’ strong safety Dawan Landry parting town to join the Jacksonville Jaguars that the competition to replace him would be between Tom Zbikowski and Haruki Nakamura. Zbikowski filled in adequately for Ed Reed last season, and Nakamura has improved steadily throughout his tenure in B’More. It seemed like the natural next step was for one of them to take over a starting role in Chuck Pagano’s defense.

The Ravens, though, apparently had other ideas.

In a somewhat surprising move, the team has agreed to terms with their second former Houston Texan in a week, adding safety Bernard Pollard to go along with fullback Vonta Leach.

Pollard is entering his sixth season, having spent the past two in Houston after being drafted by Kansas City in the second round of the 2006 NFL draft. Pollard is most widely known for being the guy who shredded Tom Brady’s knee back in 2008, destroying millions of fantasy football teams in the process. He has a reputation for being more of a thumper in the secondary than a strong cover safety, racking up 4.5 sacks and 4 forced fumbles last season. He did have four interceptions (one returned for TD) in 2009, so he’s not a complete stone-hands back there.

Some YouTube clips of Pollard, for those unfamiliar with the safety:

Bernard, it would seem, is not too big a fan of Reggie Wayne. (caution: language) I can get behind this kind of thing.

“Wait, I have to play Peyton Hillis twice a year? I might want to reconsider this…..”

And finally, the infamous “Brady kill shot”

The team hasn’t given Pollard the job outright, rather saying that he is being brought in to compete with Zibby and Haruki.

Marc Bulger Retires

August 3, 2011

As first reported by our partners over at Ravens 24×7 on Sunday, Marc Bulger has retired from the NFL. A few days later, the news is all over town, and the Ravens are left with a huge question mark at backup quarterback.

If Tony Lombardi is right, and Bulger did retire back in March, you have to assume that Ozzie Newsome and the Ravens front office knew about it while they were mapping out their offseason strategy during the lockout. Futhermore, they probably were also aware of Bulger’s intentions in April when they drafted QB Tyrod Taylor out of Virginia Tech in the sixth round.

Cam Cameron was quoted yesterday as saying that Taylor is “special” and that they are “getting him ready to play.” In addition to that, Peter King of Sports Illustrated tweeted that Taylor is “better than you think.”

I, for one, am less than enthusiastic about the prospect of a rookie sixth-round draft pick serving as the backup quarterback on a team that has been to the postseason three years running. Unfortunately, the free agent quarterback roster is less than inspiring: Brodie Croyle, Jake Delhomme, J.P. Losman, J.T. O’Sullivan, Patrick Ramsey, Todd Bouman, Chris Simms…ugh.

With teams being forced to comply with the salary cap in the coming days, there could be some surprise cuts that could potentially help fill the Ravens’ void at backup quarterback. While we all hope that Joe Flacco is Peyton Manning-like in his durability – Joe hasn’t missed a game in three seasons in the NFL, Peyton has missed zero in 13 – it sure was comforting having Bulger as an insurance policy in 2010. The flip side, of course, is that we had to listen to certain morons calling for Bulger to start all season. Still, the droning of nonsense from a small group of fans was worth putting up with for the security of a proven veteran backup QB.

If it is indeed the Ravens’ plan to move forward with Taylor as the backup, the team’s four preseason games just got a lot more interesting. Let’s see how Taylor handles facing even the second- and third-string defenses of NFL teams before we get either too high or too low on the kid.

Vonta Leach Tweets that He'll "Be a Raven"

July 31, 2011

According to the Twitter account of former Texans fullback Vonta Leach, the pro bowler is joining the Baltimore Ravens in 2011.

John McClain of the Houston Chronicle reports the deal as 3 years, $11 million.

Leach made the Pro Bowl last year as the lead blocker for Arian Foster, who racked up over 1600 yards on the ground, and averaged 4.9 yards per carry. After the Ravens’ struggles last year in the power running game, this move, along with the resigning of Marshal Yanda, loudly backs up John Harbaugh’s assertion that improving the running game was a priority this season.

Ray Rice will see a lot more daylight this year running behind Leach. Not only does this move immensely help the Baltimore Ravens, but Rice’s fantasy football value also gets a nice bump.

With rumors swirling this morning that Todd Heap is being wooed by the New York Jets, Ravens fans have been in an uproar. The signing of Leach should help ease those tensions, along with the overblown prevailing sentiment this week that Ozzie has somehow “lost his touch.”

Still, should it be announced that Heap is becoming a New York Jet, I’m sure many Ravens fans will fall right back into overreact mode.

The team got better today. Regardless of where Todd Heap ends up.

First Round Pick Jimmy Smith Signs with Ravens

July 29, 2011

Word this morning is that Ravens’ first-round pick, cornerback Jimmy Smith from Colorado, has signed his contract. Several reporters have shared the news on twitter, including @RavensExaminer and @Ravensinsider. Smith even shared the news himself last night.

With that, the Ravens have now signed each and every one of their draft picks. Smith, along with the rest of the rookies, will have a steep learning curve if they want to be out there banging heads with the Super Bowl Losers on September 11, but the fact that they are are signed and can begin working out now is a huge plus for the team. With first round picks, there is always the fear that contract negotiations will cause a hold-out during training camp. This year, with the rookies having already missed the benefit of OTAs and minicamps, any holdouts would have been unacceptable.


Goob Reports on the Ravens' Surprising Cuts

July 27, 2011

Join us live in the B’More Birds’ Nest Newsroom as Woody Jones and Goob report on the latest shocking round of cuts from the Ravens.

Ravens to Hold Free Practice at M&T Bank Stadium

July 27, 2011

As they did last year, the Ravens are holding a free open practice session in downtown Baltimore at M&T Bank Stadium.

The practice will take place on Saturday, August 6 at 10 AM. Gates open at 9 AM.

Last year, it was a way to give those fans who – for whatever reason – are unable to get up to Westminster to watch training camp a chance to see the team in a similar atmosphere free of charge. It was a nice gesture, and the first time they had done so.

This year, it doesn’t matter if you live in West Bawlmer’ or Westminster – you weren’t going to get to watch any practices, thanks to the NFL lockout which forced the team’s training camp from the public venue of McDaniel College to the very private venue of the Castle in Owings Mills.

Because of the lack of chances to see the team free of charge during the summer this year compared to seasons past, I expect a much larger crowd at M&T Bank this time around. To be completely honest, last year’s practice was a bit dull to watch. Regardless, it’s a great chance to get out and satisfy our tailgate jones that has laid dormant for the past eight plus months, so we’ll be there.

How about you? Will you be attending the free practice?


Ravens, Yanda Agree to Long-Term Deal

July 26, 2011

Well, it appears that the first phase, at least, of the Ravens’ salary cap purge has paid off.

The team announced via their website that they have agreed to terms with tackle/guard Marshal Yanda. As Goob pointed out, Yanda should have been (and apparently was) the team’s #1 priority moving forward. Head Coach John Harbaugh sounds pretty elated:

“We got Marshall Yanda! That’s great news,” Head Coach John Harbaugh said.

“He told us he wanted to be a Raven and he understood the business part that he had to go through. I’m beaming, you see Ozzie smile and is there anyone more excited than [Offensive Line Coach] Andy Moeller right now? We’re a better team than we were one hour ago.”

While I’m sure it won’t completely appease all the of fans still bellyaching over the loss of Derrick Mason and Todd Heap, Harbaugh is absolutely right – with Yanda, they are a better football team.

I was really getting worried there that Yanda would go the way of Casey Rabach and get poached by the Washingotn Redskins. Eat it, Snyder.

Under the new CBA, Yanda is now allowed to sign until 6 PM on Friday.

Update: The terms of the agreement are being reported as 5 years, $32 million.


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