THE GRAPEVINE: The forgotten linebacker

Lombardi's Way THE GRAPEVINE: The forgotten linebacker

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People around Ravens headquarters will tell you that if you see a large group of players gathered around listening to someone, there’s a good chance that someone is Troy Smith.

Smith has confidence and swagger. He’s articulate and possesses leadership qualities that teammates gravitate towards.

If only he had the game to match.

Smith thinks highly of himself and that’s ok when you are a quarterback in the NFL.

The problem for Smith is that not too many other teams view him as he views himself.

Seneca Wallace goes to Cleveland.

Jake Delhomme follows him there.

David Carr goes to San Francisco while Charlie Whitehurst heads to the Pacific Northwest in exchange for a third round draft pick!

Meanwhile Smith doesn’t even get a sniff from another club despite his bargain basement price tag of a fifth round pick.

Maybe there’s more to the story…

Word is that once back in 2008 Smith had his ipod blasting in the Ravens locker room as he ducked in for a shower. When he emerged from the shower his ipod’s volume was turned way down. In a very profane way, Smith demanded to know who dialed down the decibels.

A man standing behind Smith said, “I did.”

The former Buckeye turned around and standing before him was none other than John Harbaugh.

Donte Stallworth will be observed closely during OTA’s and throughout training camp. He has some major damage control to deal with while restoring his NFL career. One insider has described Stallworth as an amazing guy who is absolutely determined to change his reputation, stare adversity in the face and somehow glean something positive from the vehicular tragedy that took the life of Miami area resident Mario Reyes. Don’t bet against him!

Marshal Yanda’s impact in the running game last year was huge and for my money he’s one of the most promising young offensive guards in the NFL. It would surprise no one who has watched the development of this Kirk Ferentz protégé if he one day ends up in the Pro Bowl. That said it is puzzling that no team has made a move to offer Yanda a restricted free agent tender and sacrifice a second round pick. You won’t find this kind of player in Round 2, particularly contending teams that won’t draft until later in the round.

Many are hoping that Paul Kruger can add some bulk and become the player the Ravens’ scouts projected when the team drafted him in the second round in ’09. Kruger is participating in the team’s “voluntary” conditioning program but one source has indicated that he’s late to arrive and early to leave.

The door is wide open for Kruger. He’s compared often to Dan Cody because he’s white, a second round pick and an undersized defensive end who just can’t get on to the field. But say what you want about Cody, he was a gym rat and did all that he could to be ready to play. His body just betrayed him.

Let’s hope Kruger isn’t betraying his body.

One forgotten man on the Ravens roster is linebacker Jason Philips. The relentless former TCU Horned Frog is said to be recovering well and he could push Dannell Ellerbe for playing time in 2010. One observer believes that Phillips is actually faster than Ellerbe. The competition will only make the team better.

According to The Sun’s Jamison Hensley, John Harbaugh said he is disappointed that Jared Gaither hasn’t participated in the voluntary offseason workout program. Gaither’s work ethic has been questioned often and from what we hear, the Ravens might even consider an early second round pick for the towering tackle – a player with a high ceiling but one apparently not dedicated to his craft.

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Tony Lombardi

About Tony Lombardi

Tony is 24x7 Networks, LLC's founder (the parent of EutawStreetReport.com and RussellStreetReport.com) 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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