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THE WATER COOLER: Ravens Need a Roster Mulligan

Street Talk THE WATER COOLER: Ravens Need a Roster Mulligan

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The Ravens 53 man roster is a curious configuration and it’s difficult to determine from the outside looking in just exactly what the coaching staff was thinking when they decided to keep 5 safeties and expose RB Bobby Rainey, now the primary kick returner for the Cleveland Browns.

Rainey, generally regarded as a poor man’s Ray Rice, provides little in the way of special teams play other than as a returner but what his presence on the Ravens roster would have done is allow Jim Caldwell to implement personnel packages that include both Rice and Bernard Pierce.

Without Rainey or any other No. 3 back on the depth chart, the likelihood of Rice and Pierce taking the field together is about as certain as Tandon Doss making a tough catch across the middle with a safety lying in wait (sorry Torrey Smith).

The Ravens brought in free agent tight ends Jake Ballard and Matthew Mulligan for a look yesterday according to The Baltimore Sun. Ballard 25, a former New York Giant, sat out the 2012 campaign after suffering a knee injury in Super Bowl XLVI. In 2011 Ballard had 38 catches for 604 yards and 4 scores. Thirty-one of Ballard’s receptions went for first downs.

The 28-year-old Mulligan has bounced around the league with brief stints in Miami, Tennessee, New York (Jets), St. Louis, Green Bay and New England.

Is the Ravens interest in these tight ends genuine or is the team trying to send a message to struggling tight ends Ed Dickson and Dallas Clark?

As for Clark, count me among the minority who actually believe he will become a solid player for the Ravens. No he isn’t off to a great start and the dropped touchdown will be his defining moment as a Raven until he alters that perception. But let’s not forget that his training camp was relatively short and he’s just now rounding into football shape.

Look for better things from Dallas in Baltimore…otherwise the headlines could read:

“Ravens take a Mulligan and cut Clark” (thanks @jurgenhadley)

Staying with tight ends for a moment, Todd Heap was spotted in downtown Baltimore recently by our former intern Tyler Seabolt. Tyler tells us that Heap is in great shape and seemingly ready to re-enter the ranks of the NFL. Currently Billy Bajema wears Heap’s old No. 86…just sayin’.

Anquan Boldin sure did have himself a debut in San Francisco, corralling 13 passes for 208 yards and a score. Those who are still upset by the Ravens’ trade of the star receiver, instrumental to the team’s postseason success in 2012, clearly have been fed more evidence to support their case.

But in Ozzie Newsome’s defense, the team expected the injured Dennis Pitta to absorb some of those contested catches in tight quarters, particularly in the red zone that were traditional pegged for Boldin. Pitta’s injury clearly put a wrinkle in those best laid plans.

Hindsight is 20-20 but for the moment and until the investments made with the money that would have been Boldin’s (Messrs. Huff, Canty, Spears, Dumervil) pay dividends, that trade to San Francisco for a 6th round pick won’t exactly put a new shine on Newsome’s resume.

“I don’t know, but somebody, somewhere might have made a boo-boo,” San Francisco offensive lineman Alex Boone said when asked his thoughts of getting Boldin for such a low price.

Besides Pitta, Tandon Doss was also expected to help distribute the Boldin targets but he’s been a bust. That said Doss will get a second chance with the Ravens as the team has re-signed the former Hoosier.

“It helps to have a guy that’s been here, certainly”, said John Harbaugh during yesterday’s press conference.

“When you can bring someone back like Tandon [Doss], who knows the offense and is ready to plug right in and play for us, [it helps]. There’s no teaching we have to do; he knows what to do. It’s a big plus for us, and we’re very fortunate that he was available for us.”

That John Harbaugh is a funny guy…

Speaking of which, here’s what Harbs, looking for the silver lining in last Thursday’s loss in Denver, took away from the Mile High City performance.

“There were a lot of good things. We played well in a lot of ways, but you can’t make the mistakes we made. We had, on defense, 309 yards on seven plays. Take away seven plays, and you’re looking at a pretty darn good game against Peyton Manning – about 200 yards.”

Right and if Jim Johnson didn’t have all those blown saves the Orioles would be in first place.

Bring on the Browns!

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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. He also hosts Backfield in Motion with Justin Forsett seen on ABC2 every Saturday at 1PM. A diehard Fab Four fan, Tony is a frustrated musician who thinks beating on the steering wheel is akin to being John Bonham. He ignores the passengers in cars beside him who laugh. Follow Tony's new Twitter @RSRLombardi. More from Tony Lombardi


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