AYANBADEJO ACCUSES RAVENS OR BEARS OF MARIJUANA USE
Earlier this week, former Ravens linebacker Brendon Ayanbadejo made it into the news by telling a Fox Sports podcast that his teammates smoked marijuana in the days before one of the two Super Bowls he played in. Ayanbadejo played in Super Bowl XLI with the Chicago Bears in the 2006 postseason, and was a member of the Ravens title run last season. His report was vague, and did not name any players, or even which of the teams was using the drug.
“I’m not going to say which Super bowl it was, but I remember just getting off the elevator one night – it was early on in the week, just to start the week off – and all of the sudden I get hit over the head with fumes of marijuana on the entire floor of the hotel the team was staying on,” Ayanbadejo said. “I could just imagine there were a few young guys just toking it up in more than one room.”
Ayanbadejo ‘s comments drew criticism from Ravens safety James Ihedigbo, who told WNST’s Glenn Clark that he was not aware of any Ravens smoking marijuana last season before the big game. “Not at all! Not at all. We carried ourselves with such class through our whole entire Super bowl experience.” He later added that he thought it was “foolish” for Ayanbadejo to “question the integrity” of both teams, and hinted that he thought Ayanbadejo may just be trying to get back in the public eye.
Ayanbadejo did not play in the NFL in 2013, but has been a lightning rod over his entire career for his open and vocal points of view concerning controversial issues such as same-sex marriage. Ihedigbo is right that it is petty for Ayanbadejo to bring this information out, and to not even specify who he is accusing. “For him to come out and say this foolishness…it’s bush league.”
BERNARD PIERCE HAS SURGERY ON ROTATOR CUFF
Running back Bernard Pierce had a down 2013 season across the board as he finished the season with fewer yards than he gained in 2012, and also a disappointing 2 yards less per rush. In 2012 he gained an impressive 4.9 yards-per-carry, but that stat was down to a dismal 2.9 yards-per-carry in 2013.
While it is fair to say the Ravens offensive line unquestionably performed at a lower level in 2013, the line alone cannot be blamed. Pierce was battling nagging injuries, as he was listed on the injury report with a variety of injuries last season including shoulder, toe, knee, and hamstring issues. Fellow running back Ray Rice was impacted by a hip flexor injury all season as well, giving the team a less effective running game than in years past.
Pierce reportedly underwent surgery on Wednesday in Philadelphia at Temple University Hospital according to The Baltimore Sun. Pierce attended Temple university in college, before being selected in the third round by the Ravens in the 2012 draft.
The recovery time is expected to be between four and five months, which would put Pierce on track to be ready by the beginning of training camp. The Ravens brain trust made it known at the “State of The Ravens” press conference earlier this month that they are keeping an eye on prospective running back additions, and the recovery of Pierce will factor into that.
KUBIAK A POSSBILE FATHER FIGURE TO JACOBY JONES
When offensive coordinator Gary Kubiak was hired Monday, analysts and pundits following the Ravens speculated it may impact the team’s chances of resigning wide receiver/kick returner Jacoby Jones. Jones was cut by the Houston Texans when Kubiak was the head coach following the 2011-2012 postseason when Jones fumbled a punt in the playoffs…against the Ravens.
Kubiak was asked earlier this week whether his hire will negatively impact Jones’ odds of being resigned and he felt differently and even praised Jones. “I called him right after [the Ravens] won the Super Bowl,” Kubiak said. “I’m so proud of the man he’s become, as well as the player. I look forward to seeing him.”
Jones has proven to be a game-breaker in his two years with the Ravens, as he was instrumental in the Super Bowl run after the 2012 season, and when the team was rolling at times this season Jones was making big plays regularly. His injury early in the season was damaging to the offense, and it showed as the unit struggled without him.
The concern that is greater than Kubiak, is that Jones may be too expensive to retain. Jones made $4 million in 2013 and it is unlikely the Ravens will want to give him that much again, as he was typically the third or fourth option on the team behind Torrey Smith as well as Marlon Brown and Dennis Pitta down the stretch. If the Ravens see him as more of a returner than a receiver, it is unlikely he will return.
RAY RICE VOWS RETURN TO SUPER BOWL STATUS
Ray Rice was unhappy with his 2013 season, as were the majority of Ravens fans. The front office in Baltimore was also likely unsatisfied, and the disappointing year for the previously electric game-changing running back has led Rice to make some strong promises early this offseason.
Last month, Rice promised to return in 2014 in the best shape of his career to perform at a higher level. Earlier this week, Rice raised the bar even higher, telling CSN Baltimore’s Clifton Brown that the Ravens will be Super Bowl contenders again in 2014. “I’m guaranteeing that we’ll be back,” Rice said. “We don’t have complacent guys. None of us are happy with what happened. None of us.”
Rice added that he is already gearing up towards next season, and that is not surprising considering his career-worst 3.1 yards-per-carry in 2013. The hire of new offensive coordinator Gary Kubiak should help Rice, as Kubiak has boasted impressive running games in years past, including Terrell Davis in Denver and Arian Foster in Houston.
Rice also acknowledged that being around Super Bowl week this year reminded him how tough it is to get to the game. Rice looks forward to the fresh start he will get in 2014, and said it best when he told CSNBaltimore, “Visiting Super Bowl week is OK. But I’d rather be in it.” Bet on significant improvement from the focused Rice in 2014.