Street Talk THE WATER COOLER: A Pack Black Out?

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The Ravens have tinkered with their roster often over the past several weeks, seemingly playing musical chairs with Brandon Stokley and Billy Bajema.

Anxious fans criticize the Ravens and want the team to make up their collective mind on a player or just go elsewhere to fill the roster spot that the two flip flop upon.

But look at it this way…

Both players are vested veterans and there is little risk in the game of roster checkers that Ozzie Newsome and John Harbaugh are participating in. Their salaries are guaranteed and there’s no cap relief or gain by releasing and re-signing the players. They simply use the player that is either healthier or the one who can contribute most to a given week’s game plan.

In essence, they’ve expanded their roster limit by a player to 54. The criticisms are unwarranted and if anything, the Ravens are worthy of praise for their ingenuity.

Kelechi Osemele was a beast down the homestretch in 2012 and throughout the postseason at left guard. KO was so impressive that some forecasted Pro Bowl consideration for the second year player. But so far, 2013 has been a struggle for Osemele who left the Dolphins game after the first series with back spasms.

He’s been sluggish this season and he bends poorly, weakening his leverage. Consideration has to be given if his Osemele’s back has been a quiet problem all season and not just during the game at Sun Life Stadium.

Similarly, Marshall Yanda isn’t quite the same as he has been and some have questioned whether he returned too soon from shoulder surgery. One thing is certain – if Juan Castillo’s unit doesn’t clean up their act soon another injury could surface, that of Joe Flacco who had adequate time to set and throw only 11 times out of 34 drop backs in Miami.

With adequate time, Flacco delivered lasers on Sunday. Torrey Smith, Deonte Thompson and Tandon Doss seemed to create ample separation and all were sure-handed during the game. Perhaps the offseason investments should focus on ways to correct the issues up front and not necessarily at wide receiver.

We’ll soon see if newly acquired Eugene Monroe is a potential long-term solution for the Ravens and if they determine during the season that he is, they might want to do all they can to lock up Monroe in 2013. If he hits the free agent market there is a team with plenty of 2014 cap space that seemingly relishes plucking Ravens’ free agents – the Cleveland Browns. With that cap space the Browns get to improve while weakening a divisional rival.

Pro Football Focus is a highly respected resource for in depth analysis of player performances – a resource that even the Ravens use at times. They grade every single play of every single player every single game. It’s a mind-blowing dive into minutiae.

But for PFF to conclude this past Sunday that the top 3 Ravens performances were delivered by Josh Bynes, Lardarius Webb and Elvis Dumervil and not have Terrell Suggs among them undermines the PFF grading system.

Word is that the Ravens will wear their black jerseys on Sunday when they host the Green Bay Packers at M&T Bank Stadium. No announcement yet on whether they will wear the black pants or the white pants.

The last time the Ravens hosted Green Bay was on December 19, 2005 when Baltimore destroyed the Pack 48-3 led by Kyle Boller’s 19 of 27 passing performance for 257 yards and 3 touchdowns. Aaron Rodgers played in relief of Brett Favre, completing 8 of 15 for 65 yards and 1 interception.

On that frigid night with wind chills of 24 degrees, the Ravens wore their all-black uniforms.

The Ravens will wear their black jerseys on Sunday v. Green Bay. What pants should they go with?

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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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