THE GRAPEVINE: The latest buzz from One Winning Drive

Lombardi's Way THE GRAPEVINE: The latest buzz from One Winning Drive

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The Ravens cut two 2009 draft picks this past week with the hope that the pair would clear waivers enabling the team to sign Davon Drew and Cedric Peerman to the practice squad. Unfortunately the best laid plans failed as both were claimed by the Dolphins and Browns respectively.

Drew however has since been cut loose by the Dolphins and is again a free agent. Look for the Ravens to reclaim Drew, sign him to the practice squad and teach him a bit of a lesson. The rookie tight end, considered by most as a project, showed promise during the OTA’s this spring but reported to camp this summer out of shape and did next to nothing during practices. He’ll likely take the practice squad spot currently occupied by fellow tight end Issac Smolko.

While on the topic of tight ends, many are questioning the Ravens signing of LJ Smith. The oft-injured former Eagle is a player that John Harbaugh was very familiar with prior to the signing and was definitely dialed in to Smith’s apparent affinity for the injury report. Yet Ozzie Newsome pulled the trigger on Smith anyway.

Why you ask?

The Ravens believe that they can get 8-10 games out of Smith in 2009 and that when he plays he will give the team another receiving weapon. When he’s practiced, Smith has been productive. Throw in the $1.5 million bargain salary and the Ravens concluded it was worth the risk. That said the team was hopeful that TE Quinn Sypniewski could contribute but unfortunately, he ended up on injured reserve and now his knee injury is viewed as career threatening. Look for the Ravens to make a move on a tight end soon.

Although they won’t admit it publicly, privately the team isn’t worried about the Kansas City Chiefs and that in part is why they haven’t pulled the trigger on a backup tight end. LJ Smith is being held back and will probably be inactive on Sunday just so the team can have more weapons against a more imposing rival like the San Diego Chargers, the team’s Week 2 opponent. Both of the Ravens’ first two road opponents (San Diego and New England) have an abundance of tight ends. Don’t be surprised if the Ravens are very close observers of the roster movements of these two worthy competitors.

Last week the Ravens acquired offensive lineman Tony Moll from the Green Bay Packers in exchange for DB Derrick Martin. While the Ravens like Martin, they didn’t really have a need for him and thought the swap made sense. Moll is viewed by the club as a serviceable backup who can play both guard and tackle plus he has a decent amount of experience under live bullets. He’s a little light in the hind parts and can be pushed around but he does have good feet and plus intelligence.

Many have questioned the team’s decision to retain DB Frank Walker but the fact is the team does like the reserve’s tenacity, toughness, willingness to play injured and his locker room presence. He is viewed as a backup nickel or dime behind Chris Carr and Lardarius Webb. Walker was exposed at corner against speedier foes but the team placed him there during the preseason simply to get in the work. They will be reluctant to use him on the edge during the regular season. Look for “The Talker” to be used in the slot and be asked to out-physical opponents.

One last whisper on Walker…the Packers, Walker’s former employer, actually inquired about the feisty DB before settling on Derrick Martin according to a source. Let the debate begin…

Several sources have WR David Tyree pegged for Baltimore. Not so fast! Tyree is hardly an accomplished receiver and he has been fighting through some nagging injuries. John Harbaugh’s gushing over Tyree’s workout with the team aside, count me among those who think that the accolades represent nothing more than a red herring. Harbaugh seems to have taken a page or two from Bill Belichick’s book on responding to questions without answering a thing or even fibbing a time or two if it suits his purpose.

Speaking of Belichick, on the surface it seems as though Dr. Hoodie pulled one over on the Raiders. He gets a 2011 first round pick from a bad team while jettisoning a player he didn’t like and one due a new contract. But this story is far from over…

If Seymour fails to report to the Raiders, all bets are off unless the teams can agree to some alternative form of compensation. Ravens fans may recall that the team traded for Terrell Owens during the winter of 2004 for a second round pick. When Owens refused to report to Baltimore the deal was rescinded. For the record that pick eventually produced Dwan Edwards.

Back to Seymour for a moment, his representative is Eugene Parker. Don’t look for EP to blink any time soon. He also represents Michael Crabtree and we all know how those discussions are going with the San Francisco 49ers. Parker appears to be holding the entire Bay Area hostage at the moment.

An interesting side note to this story…if Seymour returns to the Patriots, it could create some unsettling feelings in the New England locker room. Seymour to Oakland is viewed by the All Pro defensive tackle and his representatives as the equivalent to an exile to the NFL’s Siberia.

We discovered yesterday that Ravens RB Ray Rice and S Haruki Nakamura engaged in a little friendly wager on the Cincinnati v. Rutgers college football game played on Monday afternoon. The Bearcats were not exactly gracious hosts whipping the favored Scarlet Knights 47-15.

So what was the extent of Ray Rice’s indebtedness? The second year Raven had to wear a “Nakamura Eats Rice” T-shirt designed by none other than Haruki Nakamura himself.
Photo by Sabina Moran
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Tony Lombardi

About Tony Lombardi

Tony is 24x7 Networks, LLC's founder (the parent of and His work has been featured on various sports websites and he is a regular guest on 105.7 The Fan and CBS Sports 1300. Among his favorite things in life are his wife, kids, family, friends, The Beatles, Breaking Bad, Gladiator, Guinness, Orange Crushes and Key West, not necessarily in that order. Follow Tony on Twitter @RSRLombardi. More from Tony Lombardi


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