Street Talk - The latest street talk and Baltimore Ravens related News from the Russell Street Report Team.
Lombardi’s Way - A column from the 24×7 founder that focuses on the Ravens, the NFL, Baltimore, the world of sports or life’s inspirations.
Word on The Street - In the spirit of the CBS Sports Minute with Boomer Esiason, RSR brings you Word on The Street, a 90 second (or less) podcast on topics exclusively relating to the Baltimore Ravens.
Ravens Links - We’ll give you the best stories about the Ravens from around the web three times per week.
The Fanimal - If you are an animal about the Baltimore Ravens, then you are a Fanimal! Follow the Russell Street Report blog Fanimal Crackers!
The Edgar Awards - The Edgar Awards will range from the Maryland county that is home to the best Ravens fans to the best Ravens podcast; from the best collection of displaced fans to the best local craft brews that should be part of your next tailgating party.
The Road to RSR - Our writers explains their journeys as fans and how they came to write for our little corner of sports media.
OWINGS MILLS — Gary Stills hasnâ€™t forgotten the feeling of being discarded, of how he suddenly became unwanted by the Kansas City Chiefs after seven years of using his body like a battering ram.
Along with Baltimore Ravens special-teams coordinator Frank Gansz, the special-teams ace found himself out of a job in Kansas City
after last season. Now, Stills gets his chance to show the Chiefs (7-5) what they got rid of as Baltimore
(9-3) heads to Arrowhead Stadium on Sunday.
â€œIâ€™ve been anticipating this game all year,â€ said Stills, a 2003 Pro Bowl special-teams selection who leads the Ravens with 35 special-teams tackles. â€œOf course, I went on the waiver wire after they put Frank Gansz on the waiver wire. Frank was my lifeline in Kansas City
. Iâ€™m glad Iâ€™m having a good season.
â€œIâ€™m pretty sure the Chiefs aren’t going to regret it because they feel like they have somebody to replace me. I know Iâ€™m in a better place, better team, better squad, not going to say better players because I still love those guys. I couldnâ€™t be in a better place.â€
Since the Ravens signed Stills to a three-year, $2.6 million contract in March three weeks after Kansas City
released him, he has solidified their special-teams units by busting wedges and chasing down kickoffs and punts. In a 24-10 victory over the Atlanta Falcons last month, he registered five special-teams tackles.
Between 2002 and 2005, no NFL player posted as many special-teams tackles as Stillsâ€™ 113, including 25 during his final season in Kansas City
. Now, the Stills-Gansz tandem has been reunited in Baltimore
is as a good a special-teamer as I have ever been around,â€ Billick said. â€œItâ€™s his passion for it, how physical he is. Frank is as consistent, passionate, focused, hard-driving coach as I have ever been around.
â€œHeâ€™s hard on them, real hard, but they love it. They respond to it because he also loves them up in a way that they know heâ€™s doing it for a reason. They were both great additions.â€
â€œIt got to the point where it was almost ridiculous because he would show Gary out there blocking, tackling, knocking guys out, doing everything you can think of,â€ fullback Ovie Mughelli said. â€œHeâ€™s the perfect special-teams guy, and we definitely joke with him because heâ€™s been following Frank around wherever he goes.
â€œThey have a great relationship, and it comes in handy. Whenever coach Gansz has a question and you donâ€™t know the answer, you whisper to Gary
and he tells you.â€
Another built-in memory bank that could aid the Ravens is Stillsâ€™ history with explosive Chiefs return specialist Dante Hall, who ran back a kick for a touchdown in a 2003 win in Baltimore
. Hall is averaging nine yards per punt return with one touchdown, and has a 22.8 average on kickoffs with a long return of 60 yards.
â€œDante hasnâ€™t been as effective as he has been in the past,â€ Stills said. â€œMake no mistake, I would never underestimate that guy. Heâ€™s still quick and fast. I donâ€™t know what the problem has been over there, whether itâ€™s the scheme or blocking.
â€œHe hasnâ€™t been as I would have expected. I feel like I know what to do to stop him.â€
Ganszâ€™ blue-collar star pupil has built a career out of displaying reckless abandon in one of the most dangerous aspects of the NFL, excelling on special teams by running downfield at full-speed with his helmet on a swivel.
At a sculpted 6-foot-2, 250 pounds, the
Trenton , N.J. native appears ideally suited for special-teams duty. Athletic enough to play both outside linebacker and defensive end, Still is a classic â€˜tweener who blends strength and speed.
â€œSpecial teams is the third phase of football, itâ€™s very important and it should be taken very seriously,â€ said Stills, who has recorded four career fumble recoveries and three forced fumbles on special teams. â€œThatâ€™s why I do it the way I do it. Itâ€™s do-or-die.â€
At age 32, Stills is intent on preserving himself as best he can while using his body as a weapon. Every year, he acknowledged, requires a significant personal price.
â€œIt takes a lot more out of me now than it used to,â€ said Stills, the Chiefs’ all-time special-teams tackle leader. â€œIâ€™m getting a little older and I have to have my mind and my body right to maintain my strength. Special-teams is hard work, but itâ€™s rewarding.â€
Stills has also put an imprint on the locker room with his colorful approach, always joking with linebacker Bart Scott and defensive end Terrell Suggs, along with his wild-man reputation on the field.
â€œWhat, because heâ€™s crazy?â€ middle linebacker Ray Lewis said. â€œ Gary
keeps the young guys where their heads need to be on special teams. Itâ€™s amazing the man he is and the character that he has. I wouldnâ€™t call it crazy. I would just call it relentless.â€
Aaron Wilson covers the Baltimore Ravens for the Carroll County Times in Westminster, Maryland