Game Preview

BATTLE PLANS: Ravens v. Bengals

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Offense   1) Run to daylight: There are three reasons why the Ravens have to be able to sustain a steady ground game on Sunday: (1) Protection for Joe Flacco; (2) Easing the offensive line into its transition; and (3) Attacking one of the worst run defenses in the league.   The Bengals know that Baltimore will look to run early and often. Head coach Marvin Lewis has always used exotic defensive looks to stymie Baltimore’s rushing attack, such as a 4-4-3 configuration or even or three safeties in the...

Ravens Projected 53 Man Roster (final projection)

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Based upon observations in practice and throughout the Ravens’ 2008 preseason games, here is 24×7’s final projected 53 man roster based upon a typical roster configured similar to past Ravens’ rosters.   Quarterbacks (3)                                                    Kyle Boller **** Troy Smith Joe Flacco   Running Back (2)   Willis McGahee Ray Rice   Fullback (2)   Lorenzo Neal Le’Ron McClain   Tight End (4)   Todd Heap Daniel Wilcox Adam Bergen* Edgar Jones *   Wide Receiver (4)   Derrick Mason Mark Clayton Demetrius Williams Marcus Smith   Offensive Tackle (4)   Jared Gaither...

Lorenzo Neal dials up Ravens’ power rushing attack

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By adding Lorenzo Neal – a four-time Pro Bowl fullback – to the fold, the Ravens solidified a backfield that lacked power and depth. Neal has been the best isolation blocker at his position for years. In Neal, the team has an intelligent, physical and experienced back who will find the hole and overpower defenders at the point-of-impact. The former Charger will also be a resourceful blocker in passing situations.   This signing is reminiscent of the team’s move to bring in Sam Gash late in the off-season of 2000....

Must see training camp battles

QUARTERBACK: Troy Smith vs. Kyle Boller vs. Joe Flacco   Uncertainty always clouds Baltimore’s quarterback slot, and this season is no different. There is no incumbent. All three quarterbacks have a legitimate chance to win the job. Considering that a new offensive system is being installed, all of the quarterbacks have to absorb the playbook at the same pace.   The question is which quarterback is the best fit in Cam Cameron’s offense? Cameron’s quarterbacks need touch to loft the long ball and lead swings and dump-offs to tailbacks coming...

DRAFT REVIEW: Thankfully St. Louis said no to Baltimore

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When it came time to pull the trigger near the top of the draft board, the St. Louis Rams stuck to their guns and selected defensive end Chris Long instead of accepting a package of picks from Baltimore to move to the eighth slot.   This decision by the Rams brass will be a pivotal review point in NFL draft history for both franchises.   According to SI’s Peter King, Baltimore general manager Ozzie Newsome laid out a trade offer to St. Louis a day before the draft that included...

Viewing the Draft Through a Scout’s Lens: Wide Receivers, Running Backs and

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Later this week, the 2008 NFL draft will take place. Thirty-two franchises will select players to fill out their rosters, hoping that they have pieced together a special draft class.   As you are reading this, players will be compared to each other, position-by-position. Each team will have a different assessment of these former collegiate standouts. The difference in opinion between the scouts and personnel managers leads to the respective classes being formed. Grabbing the wrong players will lead to a poor class being formed, and in turn, could lead to...

McNair set the trend for today’s multi-talented QB’s

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The new breed of quarterbacks who make plays through the air and on the ground can thank Steve McNair for setting the bar so high.   Since his days at Alcorn State, Air McNair was the ultimate weapon at the quarterback position. McNair threw for an incredible 4,863 yards, and ran for 936 yards in his senior season. He was a man amongst boys when he played in the SWAC conference. He continued to flourish at the next level.   Unlike other scramblers like Randall Cunningham and Steve Young, McNair...

THROUGH THE EYES OF SCOUT: Offensive line & Tight ends

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  In a little less than two weeks, the 2008 NFL draft will take place. Thirty-two franchises will select players to fill out their rosters, hoping that they have pieced together a special draft class.   Over the coming weeks, players will be compared to each other, position-by-position. Each team will have a different assessment of these former collegiate standouts. The difference in opinion between the scouts and personnel managers leads to the respective classes being formed. Grabbing the wrong players will lead to a poor class being formed, and...

THE SCOUT’S VIEW: Linebackers & Defensive Ends

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In three weeks, the 2008 NFL draft will take place. Thirty-two franchises will select players to fill out their rosters, hoping that they have pieced together a special draft class.   Over the coming weeks, players will be compared to each other, position-by-position. Each team will have a different assessment of these former collegiate standouts. The difference in opinion between the scouts and personnel managers leads to the respective classes being formed. Grabbing the wrong players will lead to a poor class being formed, and in turn, could lead to...

THE SCOUT’S VIEW: Defensive Secondary

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In a little over a month, the 2008 NFL draft will take place. Thirty-two franchises will select players to fill out their rosters, hoping that they have pieced together a special draft class.   Over the coming weeks, players will be compared to each other, position-by-position. Each team will have a different assessment of these former collegiate standouts. The difference in opinion between the scouts and personnel managers leads to the respective classes being formed. Grabbing the wrong players will lead to a poor class being formed, and in turn,...

Random Ravens’ Notes: Is Baltimore preparing to make a Free Agent move?

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The Baltimore Ravens kicked off their free agency shopping spree by bringing in two-time Pro Bowl linebacker Brendon Ayanbadejo in for a visit. The former Chicago Bear is among a handful of impact cover guys on special teams.   If the Ravens are able to sign Ayanbadejo to a contract, it could prove to be a preview of things to come. Given the team’s cap constraints, it appears that the organization will be looking to acquire players to bolster depth and the special teams unit.   Baltimore is one of...

Ravens need to start thinking about a Ngata extension

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The time may be soon approaching when the Ravens have to consider giving Haloti Ngata a raise. Ngata just finished his second year in the league, and is entering the third year of a five-year, $11.9 million contract he signed back in ‘06.   At this point, it would be premature to consider tearing up Ngata’s existing contract in order to give him a greener extension. But after the ‘08 season, when Ngata will have just two years left on his rookie deal, the front office will need to make...

Ravens score with Cameron hire

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While the free agency period and the draft still lie a bit beyond the horizon, the Ravens made their biggest acquisition of the off season, when they agreed to terms with former Miami Dolphins head coach Cam Cameron to take over as the offensive coordinator.   Specifically, new head coach John Harbaugh has made his biggest and most important hire during the first week of his tenure as the Ravens’ head coach.   The addition of Cameron gives the team a credible director to handle the offense. In five seasons...

Tag Suggs and trade for Fitzgerald

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Terrell Suggs is not the only big-ticket player on deck to potentially receive a nice payday from the Baltimore Ravens.   Jason Brown’s contract will be up after the ‘08 season. As it stands now, Brown is entering the restricted free agency pool. He will be a hot commodity on the open market.   There is no question that the Ravens will need to tag him with the highest qualifying offer. This move would force an interested club to fork over a first-and-a third round pick from the upcoming draft...

Don’t sleep on Schwartz

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Earlier in the week, the Baltimore Ravens compiled a list of 30 coaching candidates they have sought permission from the league to interview. On that list are a number of burgeoning coaching assistants like Jason Garrett, Tony Sparano and Josh McDaniels (although McDaniels has declined the Ravens’ interview request).   These assistants, along with long time Tony Dungy assistant coach Mike Caldwell, will likely interview with the Ravens this week, as their teams have byes.   One coach whose team does not have the bye this week is Tennessee Titans...

Five Moves to Ponder in the Off-season

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Following the aftermath of the Baltimore Ravens dreadful ‘07 campaign, the organization will have many decisions to make in regards to how it will improve the team roster. Issues abound about whether the Ravens should overhaul the quarterback position, upgrade the pass rush and add youth to the cornerback spot are among the chief concerns.   However, there are only so many ways to handle plugging the holes. Here are five moves the front office should make in the coming months to address certain hot button off-season issues:   1)...

Battle Plans: Pittsburgh Steelers versus Baltimore Ravens

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Ravens Offense   1) Run right: With Willis McGahee out of the lineup due to a rib injury, the tandem of Musa Smith and Corey Ross will have to carry the load against Pittsburgh. Clearly neither player has the big play ability of McGahee, but Smith is a hard-nosed runner who thrives on inside runs.   Normally against Pittsburgh, running the ball is nearly impossible. However, since the defense lost right end Aaron Smith, teams have had more success pushing the pile. If the Ravens are to have any semblance of...

Battle Plans: Baltimore Ravens versus Seattle Seahawks

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Offense   1) Smith’s offense: In Troy Smith, the Ravens will have a quarterback on the field that can make plays outside of the pocket. Smith is a more gifted athlete than Kyle Boller. As such, the offense should be tailored to showcase Smith’s strengths as a runner and a passer on the move.   The opportunity is ripe to implement a lot of misdirection pass plays against Seattle. The Seahawks have a fast flowing front seven that may be susceptible to over pursuing. These plays will have more bite...

Battle Plans: Indianapolis Colts versus Baltimore Ravens

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Offense   1) First Down checks: If the Ravens have any degree of offensive success against the improved Colts’ defense, they will need to win the battle on first down. Staying in manageable down and distance situations is especially crucial against Indianapolis, as the Colts secondary has picked off 16 passes this season, and a number of those picks have come on third down.   The Ravens were able to grind out chunks of yards against the Patriots on first down, but the going will be tougher against Indianapolis. The...

BATTLE PLANS: Ravens v. Patriots

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Ravens Offense   1) When the Patriots blitz: The Patriots secondary is an aggressive group. The corners are usually planted on top of the line-of-scrimmage and use their hands to jam receivers before they start their routes. As such, the Patriots feel comfortable blitzing often, from all sides of the field.   In this game, it is paramount that quarterback Kyle Boller not only has free reign to make coverage checks before the snap, but more importantly, he makes the proper checks. Only changing the protection schemes to pick up...
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