GRAPEVINE: RAVENS COULD LOOK TO LINE TO IMPROVE RUNNING GAME

Lombardi's Way GRAPEVINE: RAVENS COULD LOOK TO LINE TO IMPROVE RUNNING GAME

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Jay Glazer of FOXSports.com reports that the San Diego Chargers have hired 49ers offensive coordinator Norv Turner.  More here. Updated @ 11:52 AM
 
The Chargers are now five deep into the interview process to hire Marty Schottenheimer’s replacement.  So far the interview candidates have been Mike Singletary, Rex Ryan, Gary Gibbs, Ron Rivera and Mike Zimmer.  So who’s it gonna be?
 
“Who knows who it’s going to be”, wondered Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers. “But it’s going to be a proven winner. They’ve all been to where we’re trying to go.”
 
“This has been a very interesting process,” team President Dean Spanos said in a statement. “So far we’ve met with four capable candidates. . . . It’s clear to me they all have head coaching ability. We’ve had some very lengthy meetings, but the time seems to fly by. I feel like I’ve learned a great deal about several extremely successful football men. I’ve enjoyed each meeting and look forward to wrapping up the interview process in the coming days and finding the right head coach to bring a championship to San Diego.”
 
The Chargers have nearly $25 million in cap space.  Might Rex Ryan be the favorite if he has a reasonable shot at delivering Adalius Thomas?  If Ryan wins that job, AD could certainly help with the transition process for the Chargers.  He is very much a coach on the field besides being a well liked and highly respected teammate.
 
A team that could use AD’s leadership is the Cincinnati Bengals who have about $28 M in cap space.  The question is will AD want to wear the Bengals’ orange – a team that features far too many troubled players wearing orange jump suits.
 
Bengals’ President Mike Brown has made it clear that he wants the Bengals to focus upon quality players while stressing the importance of character.  "It’s always been”, said Marvin Lewis.  â€œYou can’t control what happens."
 
Lewis added, "We’ve had a bad run where these guys have tripped us up and given us a bad name."
 
The Bengals like all teams are looking for the best players to compete.  But their scouting staff is extremely limited and they force their assistant coaches into scouting roles and this could be a reason why the team takes chances on players with highly questionable character issues.  They just can’t drill down deep enough to make informed decisions on lesser known players and apparently they lack the resources to do so thorough background checks.  Either that or they just prefer to role the dice and hope that the good boy light bulb goes on for these troubled players.
 
So far, they are crapping out!
 
Don’t be surprised to see the Ravens invest more in the offensive line by way of the draft.  The investment required in a marquee back coupled with their relatively short careers supports the argument that teams should build their running games around the offensive lines.  Linemen have longer careers and their effectiveness doesn’t diminish as rapidly.
 
One player that several draft gurus have pegged for the Ravens is Auburn’s offensive guard Ben Grubbs.
 
Should the Ravens lose some strength and depth on defense, not to mention the potential loss of Rex Ryan, they will need the offense to step up if they plan to go beyond the Divisional Playoff round.  And while most observers might conclude that the Ravens have enough talent at wide receiver, don’t be surprised to see them make a move in that area. 
 
One free agent receiver that could be an interesting play for the Ravens is Drew Bennett.  Bennett is a versatile receiver and while he isn’t considered a burner by any means, his height and ball skills make him a deep threat in man coverage.  Bennett wouldn’t be the first Titans’ fan favorite to find his way to Baltimore.
 
Word is that Bennett will test the market.  According to Steve McNair’s former teammate, “it would take a very strong effort on [the Titans] part for me after three years not to wait the next two weeks [and test the market.]"
 
One of the worst kept secrets in Houston for some time is the Texans interest in trading David Carr.  This weekend, the team finally admitted what we’ve all known for a week or so.  David Carr is on the trading block and the Texans are hoping to pick up a third-round pick that could escalate to a second round pick based upon playing time, etc. 
 
Carr, who was the No. 1 overall pick in the 2002 NFL Draft, is only 27. But here’s the rub – he has two years left on a contract that pays him $5.5 million this year and $6 million next year.
 
Looking for a replacement for AD in the draft?  If he falls to No. 29 which admittedly is a bit doubtful at this point, look no further than Adam Carriker from Nebraska.  Carriker was a standout player at the Senior Bowl and is now being projected as a top 20 pick.  According to Mel Kiper, Jr., “You don’t see many defensive ends carrying 300 pounds who can move as well as Carriker.
 
The scouting combines kick off this week as 327 draft-eligible players will attempt to increase their value during the workouts. The breakdown of players is as follows: defensive backs (55), defensive linemen (50), linebackers (36), offensive linemen (51), quarterbacks (21), running backs/fullbacks (32), tight ends (16), wide receivers (49), kickers/punters (14), special teams (3). That is a total of 141 defensive players, 169 offensive players and 17 specialists.
 
Michael Irvin might be in the Hall of Fame but he’s out of the halls in Bristol, CT.  Irvin has bee fired from his analyst’s position with ESPN according to spokesman Josh Krulewitz.
 
"He will not be returning to ESPN, and we thank him for his contributions and wish him the best."
 
Tag you’re it!  Friday is the deadline for teams that plan on using the franchise tag on coveted free agents.  Last week, three players were slapped with that distinction – New England CB Assante Samuel, Cincinnati DE Justin Smith and Chicago LB Lance Briggs.
 
“I don’t like the idea,” Briggs said prior to the Super Bowl. “You play four years as a third-round draft pick, and (for) the opportunity to make big pay for your work. You definitely want to see what your worth is.”
 
Samuel seems to be more amenable to the idea according to his agent Alonzo Shavers.
 
"Right now it’s very amicable," Shavers said. "We don’t look at it as a bad thing. This is a step in the process in working toward a long-term deal."
 
The Bengals move to franchise Justin Smith might be an indication that the club is prepared to say goodbye to guard Eric Steinbach.  The Bengals appear to be comfortable with Steinbach’s back up Andrew Whitworth. Word is that there are questions within Bengals’ management about Steinbach’s ability to block big defensive tackles.
 
And finally, with the tag of Lance Briggs, AD’s value in the open market went up.  Keep in mind also that New England has plenty of cap space available and Bill Belichick got to see AD up close and personal for a week in Hawaii.  Interestingly the Ravens play several of the teams in ‘07 that have ample cap room and appear to covet AD the most: San Francisco ($42.1M), Cincinnati ($28.8M), Cleveland ($33.3M) and New England ($27M).

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Tony Lombardi

About Tony Lombardi

Tony is 24×7 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 he hosts “The Fanimal” also heard on 105.7 The Fan, Saturdays from 8-9AM. Among his favorite things in life are his wife, kids, family, friends, The Beatles, Breaking Bad, Gladiator, The Godfather, Guinness, orange crushes, meatballs and Key West, not necessarily in that order. Follow Tony on Twitter @RSRLombardi.

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