THE GRAPEVINE: Might Lo Neal be returning to B’more?

Lombardi's Way THE GRAPEVINE: Might Lo Neal be returning to B’more?

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The Ravens missed on a golden opportunity to score a touchdown against the Colts despite the favorable situation of first and goal from the 1 yard line. Earlier in the game the Ravens failed to convert a third and 1 and then had to settle for a field goal attempt – one that was missed by Billy Cundiff. Perhaps as a result of these failures the Ravens are said to be looking at adding a new fullback to their roster. But if you are a Lorenzo Neal fan don’t get too excited. Neal does nothing for special teams and that coupled with his tenure and the prerequisite veteran minimum contract terms will persuade the Ravens to look at someone other than the soon-to-be 39 year old 17 year vet.

Fabian Washington has been lost for the season due to an ACL tear. As a result of the injury it’s quite possible that we have seen the last of Washington in a Ravens uniform. The cornerback is in the final year of his rookie five year deal signed with Oakland and inherited by the Ravens and he is set to become a free agent at the end of the season, assuming of course there is a new collective bargaining agreement. Starting for Washington will be promising rookie Lardarius Webb. Look for Frank Walker to be active against the Steelers. His physical play is suited for defending the Steelers’ brand of football.

Chris Chester has struggled at times with straight ahead blocking. At less than 300 pounds (don’t pay attention to the roster stats) Chester isn’t the most physically imposing offensive guard and can be pushed around. The team does love his athleticism and ability to make plays at the second level as well as his ability to pull and block in open space. That said, don’t be shocked if Marshal Yanda soon gets the nod over Chester and the contest against Pittsburgh very well could be the opportune time to make the switch to the more aggressive and physical third year former Iowa Hawkeye.

Speaking of the upcoming game against the Steelers, you may recall that the Ravens were often forced to hold back Todd Heap and the running backs to help protect Joe Flacco during the slugfests against Pittsburgh during the 2008 season. That limits the number of players running patterns to challenge Pittsburgh’s pass defense. Now that Michael Oher is established at right tackle and able to hold down the edge on his own, look for Heap to be more involved in the offense on Sunday.

Keep an eye out for Demetrius Williams on Sunday night. The relatively discarded fourth year receiver made a cameo appearance against the Colts and one source close to the team thinks that role could be expanded against the Steelers. The Ravens have had a tough time dissecting zone defenses in front of the safeties and behind the linebackers’ drops inside the hash marks. Part of the problem could be the height of both Mark Clayton and Derrick Mason. At 6’2”, Williams stands 4 inches taller than both Mason and Clayton. Williams also possesses better hops and reach than both.

Don’t count on the Ravens to make an early round investment in a linebacker during the 2010 draft. Word is that the team is pleased with the progress of undrafted free agents Dannell Ellerbe and Jameel McClain and they continue to express confidence in Tavares Gooden’s abilities. The team does however consider Gooden’s propensity to be concussed as a serious issue that needs to be watched closely. The team also has rookie Jason Phillips (injured reserve) waiting in the wings. The club’s overall ability to develop linebackers drafted on Day 2 allows them to focus on different areas on Day 1 of the draft.

Ravens v. Steelers Notables & Quotable

“Welcome to the Ravens-Steelers rivalry, arguably the nastiest in all of sports. … Breathtaking hits, some of them late. Woofing. Pathos. Chaos. … It is not the longest rivalry in the history of the NFL, but it is the most intense.” senior writer Greg Garber on the Ravens-Steelers rivalry


·      Baltimore is 6-7 at home vs. the Steelers, having won 5 of 6 at home dating back to 2003.


·      In the month of November, the Ravens are 2-0 against the Steelers in games played in Baltimore. The Ravens are 3-2 all time in November vs. Pittsburgh.


·      Under head coach John Harbaugh, Baltimore is 9-4 at home (3-2 in 2009) and has won 7 of its last 10 home games.


·      Baltimore is 14-18 all time in prime-time games, including 1-0 this season (16-0 win at Cleveland on Monday Night Football). The Ravens are 1-1 on NBC’s Sunday Night Football, beating Washington last season (24-10) and falling to Indianapolis in 2007 (20-44), with both games played in Baltimore.

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Tony Lombardi

About Tony Lombardi

Tony is 24×7 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 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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