Ravens say Richardson hardest back to tackle in the NFL

Trent Richardson

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The Ravens are preparing to meet the Browns and running back Trent Richardson on Sunday for the second time, and they haven’t forgotten the first time.

Several players on the Ravens’ defense have said this week that when Richardson had 47 rushing yards and 57 receiving yards against them in Week Four, he left an impression that they’re still thinking about five weeks later.

I think he runs the ball harder than anybody in the league,” defensive end Pernell McPhee said. “Not saying he’s the best back in the league, but I’ll say he’s the hardest back in the NFL to tackle.”

Ravens nose tackle Terrence Cody outweighs Richardson by more than 100 pounds, but Cody said he doesn’t think he — or anyone else — can take Richardson down one-on-one.

“He doesn’t go down with one person tackling him,” Cody said. “We’re going to need multiple guys around the ball every time he touches the ball.”  Read more…

Violating injury report will cost teams draft picks

Mario WilliamsWith thee teams being fined $20,000 each in recent weeks for failing to disclose injuries in compliance with league rules, the penalty for the first offense isn’t much more than, given the value of NFL franchises, a parking ticket.

If teams become repeat offenders, however, the price will go up.

NFL spokesman Greg Aiello tells PFT that, if the Bills (as to defensive end Mario Williams), Redskins (as to quarterback Robert Griffin III), or Ravens (as to safety Ed Reed) commit further violations, the fines will increase.  Aiello also didn’t rule out the possibility of draft picks being stripped.

Aiello called it “unlikely,” but “multiple offenses of a very serious nature” could result in a team losing draft picks.

In the end, only the threat of lost draft picks will prompt teams to completely comply with the rules.  Fines will be viewed simply as a cost of doing business the way the teams want to do business — especially when the January 2012 comments from former Saints defensive coordinator Greg Williams make clear the fact that teams will target injured players for further injury. Read more…

Ray Lewis: Baltimore Ravens player profile

Ray Lewis

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Ray Lewis the middle linebacker for the Baltimore Ravens defense. The name Ray Lewis has struck fear in opposing offense’s for the last 17 years. He is undoubtedly a first ballot Hall of Famer. While technically his career isn’t over, his latest injury may end his career. A torn triceps muscle is something that can be recovered from, but the fact that Ray is in his 17th year it may be a career ending injury for many reasons. One reason is that Ray Lewis will be 39 next year and no matter how much he wants to continue, you wonder how much more his body can take. Another reason is his teammate Ed reed may retire this year and Ray might not want to go another year with Ed playing behind him in the secondary. The last reason and the most important I think is that he wants to watch his son play college ball. His son who is committed to the University of Miami will start playing next year and the pull of watching his son play might be enough to pull him away from the game. It’s hard to imagine an NFL without Ray Lewis, but it may be time to realize that it could become a reality quicker than we would like. If he does retire at the end of this year then we know that we have seen without question the greatest defensive player to ever play the game. His dominance of his position and knowledge of the game is unmatched by any defensive player you can think of. His leadership is what stands out the most, a leader of men is the definition of Ray Lewis. Read More…

Top NFL offensive lines in 2012

No team is going to win games in the National Football League if it cannot control the line of scrimmage. Running the ball is impossible if the running back has no holes to run through. Throwing the ball is impossible if the quarterback has no time to find an open receiver. Which teams have the best offensive lines in the NFL this season?

Buffalo Bills

The Buffalo Bills have what can be considered the best offensive line in the NFL. The proof is in the statistics. Quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick been sacked only three times. One of the sacks he suffered was on a pass that slipped out of his hand. It was ruled a fumble and a sack. Running back C.J Spiller was averaging over 10 yards a carry through the second week of the season.

Green Bay Packers

How has Aaron Rodgers been so ridiculously successful over the past couple of seasons? It is because his offensive line has gelled into one of the best groups in the league. Yes, he was sacked eight times against the Seahawks on last Monday night’s thriller. That blip aside, the Packers offensive lineman have allowed Rodgers ample time in the pocket to pick apart opposing defenses.

Baltimore Ravens

When you have one of the best running backs in the league, you have to have a great offensive line. Ray Rice isn’t going to create holes on his own. If you don’t think that is true, just look at the issues plaguing Chris Johnson. Therefore, you have to give credit to the Ravens offensive line whenever you see a running back putting up great numbers on the season. Read more…

NFL Power Rankings Week 4: Dirty Birds rise to the top

Michael TurnerWeek 3 was all about the NFC West and of course, the replacement refs. While the refs played an important role in determining the outcomes of several games, mostly in a negative manner, we tried to take that element out and simply go with what we feel should have happened and what we expect to happen in the future. Hopefully that entails the real referees taking the field shortly.

1. Atlanta Falcons (3-0)↑3

Other than the fact that Michael Turner, who did have a good game on Sunday (14-80-1), is on the Falcons they have some of the best playmakers in the league at their respective positions; Matt Ryan is smart enough to know how to utilize each one.

2. Houston Texans (3-0)↑2

The second of just two undefeated teams, the Texans have a great defense and several key players on offense. Matt Schaub won’t throw four touchdowns often, but when he does it’s time to take notice.

3. San Francisco 49ers (2-1)↓1

It was a rough week for the consensus number one team in the league; their defense looked tired; Alex Smith threw his first interception since Thanksgiving; Frank Gore lost the football; overall they just didn’t seem like the team everyone pronounced as “the best in football.” Let’s see if they bounce back against the Jets in week 4.

4. Baltimore Ravens (2-1)↑1

No matter what your feelings are on the game-winning field goal, this team is good and if Joe Flacco continues to play well they will be great. Read more…

Ray Lewis critical of replacement officials

Ray Lewis

Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco wasn’t the only member of the team to sound off on the absence of the locked-out officials after Sunday’s loss to the Eagles.  Linebacker Ray Lewis did the same.

“[T]he game is played the way the game is played, but there’s some serious calls the refs missed,” Lewis said in the locker room, via WNST.net.  “And that’s just the way it is, man, all around the league.  And that, for our league to be what it is, we have to correct that.  Because these games are critical.  And guys are giving everything they got all across the league, but there are calls that the regular refs, if they were here, we know the way calls would be made.  For the conversations to be had the way they had on the sidelines saying ‘If the real refs were here, that could would have been made.’  That shouldn’t happen.  That shouldn’t be the case around the league.  But it is.  And we have to deal with it.”

Lewis then complained specifically about a decision to reverse a call on the field that Eagles quarterback Mike Vick had fumbled the ball when trying to throw it.  And that’s where Lewis undermined his broader point, because it’s clear that Vick was trying to throw the ball.  Indeed, he was able to flick his wrist and put a partial spiral on the supposed fumble. Read more…

2012 NFL top linebacker corps

For the past few seasons, Pittsburgh, Baltimore, Green Bay and Chicago have been among the few teams that feature savvy, versatile linebacker corps. In 2012 however, whether due to injury, free agency or retirement, each of those four are missing at least one of those components, allowing a handful of other teams to qualify as among the NFL’s top linebacker corps.

San Francisco 49ers

The defending NFC West champion San Francisco 49ers came out of nowhere last season to become one of the league’s top teams, especially on defense. One of the main factors in their new-found dominance is a quartet of LBs (Patrick Willis, Navorro Bowman, Ahmad Brooks and Aldon Smith) who are arguably the best unit in the NFL. Willis and Bowman both made the First-Team All-Pro and totaled 240 tackles, 4 sacks, 4 forced fumbles and 20 pass deflections between them in 2011. Smith, a rookie last season, had 14 sacks and forced 2 fumbles, while Brooks collected 7 sacks and a forced fumble. The foursome helped the 49ers to second in the league in points allowed (14.3 per game), tied for first in takeaways (38) and their 77.3 yards per game allowed rushing topped the NFL. It certainly wasn’t the offense that took the ‘Niners to the NFC title game.

Baltimore Ravens

Even though five-time Pro Bowler (and 2011 NFL Defensive Player of the Year) Terrell Suggs may be sidelined for the entire season with a torn Achilles tendon and inspirational leader Ray Lewis is 37, the Baltimore Ravens LB corps is still one of the league’s most dominating. As with all great units, when one component breaks down, there’s a replacement to step in. Jameel McClain returns next to Lewis at an inside slot, while rookie Courtney Upshaw is slated for an outside berth. Paul Kruger slides into Suggs’ place, and though he certainly isn’t the fiery competitor Suggs was, he may be a better pass rusher. Ray Lewis has a way of getting teammates to perform beyond their capabilities and this season should be no different. Read more…

Flacco getting more expensive each game

Cincinnati Bengals v Baltimore Ravens

Joe Flacco already has an agent.

And now Joe Linta has all the help  he needs.

After the Ravens quarterback was sterling in a 44-13 win over the Bengals, Ravens coach John Harbaugh was ready to turn over the checkbook and let Flacco fill it in.

“Pay him whatever he wants,” Harbaugh said, laughing, via Jeff Zrebiec of the Baltimore Sun. “Pay the man.”

Flacco was 21-of-29 for 299 yards, two touchdowns and no interceptions, leading the Ravens to the final 27 points of the blowout. The 44 points were the third-most in a regular season game in franchise history.

And while they’ve always been defined by defense, Harbaugh can see what the rest of us see, that Flacco has grown beyond some kind of Trent Dilfer-esque game manager. That will cost them in the negotiations that have been going on for months.

“We’ve always stood up here, and we’ve always, all our coaches, the organization, we know what we’ve got in this guy,” Harbaugh said. “Of course he is [elite]. He is a winner. He is one of the toughest quarterbacks I have ever been around. He’s the best quarterback I’ve ever been around.”

He’s also getting more expensive with each passing game. Read more…

NFL Game Changers: AFC North


Join us as TTR Game Changers takes a tour through all 32 teams, identifying one player from every squad that I believe has a great chance of being a game changer in 2012.  To see the full series click here.

Baltimore Ravens – The Ravens are poised for another late season run, but injuries are threatening their season before it even begins.  If the Ravens defense is able to overcome the loss of Terrell Suggs it will be surprising to me.  So that is why I think the offense will really need to step up in a big way in 2012.  I believe that second year receiver Torrey Smith will make big strides again this year as he leads the team in receiving, but I think the team will be pleasantly surprised with the play of Ed Dickson.  The third year receiver has yet to have the impact that they envisioned from the young tight end, but I think he makes a splash in 2012.  Dickson caught 54 receptions for 528 yards and 5 touchdowns last season.  This year I think he could be in the 65-75 ball range with around 8 touchdowns.  His emergence this year will add a new element to Baltimore’s passing game that it has lacked since the early part of Todd Heap’s career.
Pittsburgh Steelers –  Pittsburgh is going to have a rough season this year, and I actually think that the Bengals could surpass them now.  The offensive line is in shambles.  Mendenhall is still injured.  Roethlisberger is already injured and the season is just starting.  James Harrison isn’t healthy yet.  They are running a brand new offense under Todd Haley and their best offensive weapon, Mike Wallace, just ended his lengthy holdout.      I have always said that I don’t trust players coming off a holdout, there are too many examples of players that only end up hurting themselves and their teams by holding out.  I love Wallace’s game breaking ability, but I just can’t trust him this season.  With that being said, I expect Antonio Brown and Emmanuel Sanders to get even more work this year.  And I expect both to play well, but the Steelers reigning team MVP will lead this team once again in 2012.  Read more…

Fantasy Football: Individual defensive players to grab late

The majority of Fantasy Football leagues do not have Individual Defensive Players (IDP’s) as part of their roster, however enough do. Here is our listing of late round pickups or sleepers as well as IDP’s to avoid altogether.

  • Defensive backs:

Lardarius Webb-Ravens: Starting for the first time last year, Webb had 5 INT’s and added 3 more in the playoffs. That plus his 54 solo tackles makes him a nice late round pick.

Former Nicholls State star #21 Lardarius Webb signed a 5 year $10 Million deal with $5 million signing bonus in the off season. He’s expected to doi great things this season. Photo: Getty Images

Brandon Browner-Seahawks- The 6′ 4″ DB had an impressive first season collecting 51 solo tackles to go with his 6 picks; 2 of them for touchdowns. Definitely on the rise. Read more…

AFC preseason power rankings

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Ben Roethlisberger

As the end of the NFL preseason is quickly approaching, so is the beginning of the 2012 NFL regular season. As there is one week left of preseason football, we are less than 10 days away from the start of the 2012 NFL season. I like to name this period “Week Zero”, as these power rankings are a basic opinion of how I believe the 2012 NFL season will pan out.

In the AFC, many familiar faces and teams will be in the postseason talks once again. The AFC, which is noticeably weaker than the rival NFC, have many teams loaded with potential, but just are not quite there yet. Here are the Week Zero AFC Power Rankings.

16. JACKSONVILLE JAGUARS

A new head coach (Mike Mularkey), a quarterback still going through growing pains (Blaine Gabbert), a defense on the decline, and one of the best playmakers in the NFL (Maurice Jones-Drew) is holding out for a new contract…yea, 2012 will not be very kind to the Jacksonville Jaguars.

Projection: 4-12

15. CLEVELAND BROWNS

The Browns have some bright spots in wide receiver Greg Little, All-Pro offensive tackle Joe Thomas, a defensive line loaded with under-the-radar talent, and two of the most efficient defensive players in the game in linebacker D’Qwell Jackson and cornerback Joe Haden, the problem though? Too young, not ready to compete for a playoff spot yet.

Projection: 4-12

14. INDIANAPOLIS COLTS

New Colts franchise quarterback Andrew Luck doesn’t play like an ordinary NFL rookie, but fellow rookies Coby Fleener, Dwayne Allen, and T.Y. Hilton certainly look the part, as the Colts are starting over with new head coach Chuck Pagano and look to be heading in the right direction.

Projection: 5-11

13. MIAMI DOLPHINS

The Dolphins made significant moves in the offseason, trading away star wide receiver Brandon Marshall, cutting former starting quarterback Chad Henne, signing Chad Johnson, cutting Chad Johnson, and trading away cornerback Vontae Davis…the Dolphins will have difficulty finding any kind of identity in 2012.

Projection: 6-10  Read More…

Ed Reed not focused on contract, but the season

Ed Reed

Ravens safety Ed Reed said he’s focused on football now, and isn’t worrying much about a new contract, although he was careful to point out they’ve already been talking about one.

Trying to follow the direction of Reed’s future this summer could have given you whiplash. He contemplated retirement. He skipped a mandatory minicamp. He sent signals he might hold out, and then he didn’t.

“I’m here, man,” Reed said Wednesday, via Aaron Wilson of the Carroll County Times. “What transpired months back transpired. What happened because of what I had to deal with family wise and what I’ve been going through for the last 11 years now in the league you know it’s always a time when you have to assess yourself. Once you get to a certain part and you’ve been doing it maybe not being as vocal guys don’t be as vocal with it, but when you’re dealing with the business side of it, too, that’s something you have to deal with.

“I choose to deal with it the way I deal with it. That way, young guys know it. Kids will know it as they come up. Their parents will know it. I’m not a guy who holds things back. That’s why you get what you get. And if I didn’t do it that way, you wouldn’t have the information to write about.” Read more here…

Ed Reed continues to hint he might not play this season

Baltimore Ravens linebacker Lewis lifts up teammate Reed after Reed intercepted the Houston Texans in fourth quarter of their NFL AFC Divisional Playoff football game in BaltimoreRavens safety Ed Reed continues to hint that he’s not so sure he’s going to play this season.

Working at a youth football camp on Monday, Reed said he hasn’t given a whole lot of thought to playing in Baltimore this year.
“This is about these kids today,” Reed said, via the Baltimore Sun. “My mind is just so far away from what’s about to happen in the fall. I’m thinking about other things.”
Reed has spent much of the offseason suggesting — without ever coming right out and saying — that if the Ravens don’t give him a raise from his $7.2 million salary for 2012, he might not show up when training camp starts, and maybe not even when the regular season starts. Reed has been criticized in some quarters for that approach, but he said that’s just part of taking care of business.
“Not everybody is going to understand,” Reed said. “You can’t please everybody. That’s just human nature. Everybody has their opinion, and that’s going to be there. You deal with it. You take it in stride. You take the good with the bad, the bad with the good. That’s part of life.” Read more here…

Ravens to wait three years to get McAdoo on the field

michael mcadoo

By the time Michael McAdoo is healed it will be three years since he’s played football, but the Baltimore Ravens are willing to wait to give him that chance.

The pass-rushing outside linebacker sat out 2010 because of NCAA violations at North Carolina and last year on injured reserve with a knee injury. That’s where he’ll be again this year after tearing his Achilles in offseason workouts.

“I finally had a chance to get out there on the field to prove myself,” McAdoo told the Ravens’ official website. “I thought it was going well, getting the hang of the plays, getting in the system, and getting some extra eyes and extra looks. Then for me to go down, it just hurt.

“I realize that and all I can do is keep fighting. I can’t give up just because I have an injury. I can’t feel sorry for myself because nobody else is going to feel sorry for me.”

Read more here…

Ed Reed holding out on the Baltimore Ravens

edreedjohnharbaugh

Ravens safety Ed Reed has been sending fairly cryptic messages to the team on Twitter.  On Wednesday, he made more clear his threat, or possibly his plan, to hold out until the Ravens give him a new contract.

“The only way we protect ourselves, … the only way a player gets what he wants is by holding out,” Reed told 105.7 The Fan in Baltimore, via Matt Vensel of the Baltimore Sun.  “So if Ray Ricedoesn’t show up, so be it.  If Joe Flacco didn’t show up and got a contract, so be it.”

Reed explained that he thinks the NFLPA “messed things up” last year, and that he believes he needs to stick up for other players on the issue of getting paid.

While those comments say nothing about Reed’s specific plans, a separate response regarding what he’ll be doing when the season begins says it all:   ”Watching Sunday and Monday night football on my sofa, man, and watching these guys play some real good football.”

That’s the clearest hint yet that Reed doesn’t plan to report for training camp.  The Ravens likely will continue to think he’s bluffing, primarily because they believe that, when push comes to shove, he can’t stay away from the game. Read more here…