THE GRAPEVINE: Ravens Rumors and Hard Knocks Snoozers

Lombardi's Way THE GRAPEVINE: Ravens Rumors and Hard Knocks Snoozers

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The Ravens host the Redskins in game 3 of the preseason, usually the contest during which the starters get their biggest workload. Afterwards John Harbaugh and his staff will be forced to cut down from 90 to 75 players. Following preseason game 4 the team must cut down to 53 players.

That cut down is eased slightly by the recent expansion of the practice squad from 7 to 10 players. Three rookie receivers may be competing for 1 spot among the 53: Michael Campanaro, Kamar Aiken and Jeremy Butler. Deonte Thompson’s performance against the Cowboys complicates things a bit but the guess here is that Thompson is let go while Campanaro and Aiken make the team with Butler being among the 10 practice squad players.

The expanded practice squad helps but another change the league needs to consider is the inactive list. What’s the point?

If you pay 53 why can’t you play 53?

The rule simply penalizes teams that have deeper rosters.

Some have questioned the availability (or lack thereof) of Owen Daniels. John Harbaugh has suggested that the lack of playing time has more to do with an older player needing a bit more rest and that he is not injured.

Recently some rumors have surfaced that Daniels is considering retirement. If that is what actually happens, the Ravens have nothing to lose other than of course the services of Daniels. The veteran tight end signed a 1-year contract that includes no guarantees. Retirement or release will not negatively affect the team’s salary cap.



Anyone tuning into Hard Knocks? Perhaps this is my bias coming out but the very first Hard Knocks featuring the Ravens was by far the best.

The Falcons are rather boring. Choirboy Matt Ryan drops F-bombs when mic’d up to project toughness and leadership. It’s like Pee Wee Herman being a spokesperson for Soloflex.

Assistant coaches Mike Tice and Bryan Cox come off like a couple of buffoons. Tice is comparable to Ray Romano’s brother in Everybody Loves Raymond only with a potty mouth. And true to form, he walks into a low hanging tree branch while texting and busts his head open.

Cox is hard to take seriously and you wonder if his players do. Both offer little to head coach Mike Smith who is about as inspiring as a trip to the MVA.

Of interest is just how crazy good Julio Jones is as well as the 2014 answer to Giovanni Bernard – Running Back Devonta Freeman. Keep an eye on him.



The Ravens starting corners from Super Bowl XXXV are now coaching interns in the NFL. Duane Starks has joined Marvin Lewis’ staff in Cincinnati while Chris McAlister has hooked up with former secondary coach Donnie Henderson in Buffalo.

McAlister’s antics are legendary and it’s difficult to project him as anything more than a coaching intern. It’s actually surprising that he’s even interested. For a player who was one of the franchise’s defensive greats, there’s a reason why the club doesn’t welcome him with open arms.

That said, perhaps time can ease the tensions and help boost McAlister’s standing within the organization. You can listen here to his interview today with Norris and Davis on 105.7 The Fan.



Browns head coach Mike Pettine has been a public relations train wreck since the arrival of Johnny (Finger) Manziel in Cleveland. Even if he tried to do worse he couldn’t. Pettine has put on a clinic for what not to do when dealing with a potential quarterback controversy.

Browns QBsBut finally, the epiphany arrived and Pettine did what he should have done a long time ago – name Brian Hoyer the team’s starter.

You have to wonder however if it’s too late. Can Hoyer deal with the pressure of being one key miscue away from losing his job?

The Browns open on the road in Pittsburgh and then they return home to take on the Saints. For game 3 they host the Ravens in Ray Rice’s 2014 debut followed by the bye.

And that could be the time Hoyer says bye-bye to his job.

As for Manziel, he looks like another of a line of good college quarterbacks who just never make it in the NFL.

On the opposite sideline this past Monday night down at FedEx Field stood Robert Griffin, III. Griffin is bigger, faster and has a better arm than Manziel. Yet there are questions about what RGIII might do going forward or if given his style of play, can he stay on the field?

I don’t get the Manziel craze. Perhaps I’m dating myself here but Doug Flutie was a better player coming out of Boston College than Manziel is today.

Flutie was never a franchise quarterback.

Nor will Manziel.

It’s nice to have the Browns in the AFC North.

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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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