Ravens Hope to Bounce Back vs. Steelers

Crab Bag Ravens Hope to Bounce Back vs. Steelers

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Well, at least it’s the perfect week for the Ravens to have a game on Thursday, so we can actually get down to talking about football now, instead of having several more days of off-field things dominating the airwaves and internet. The Ravens are staring the prospect of not just an 0-2 start in the face, but the worst possible case for 0-2 starts – 0-2 overall, 0-2 at home, and 0-2 within the division.

Here’s hoping the team can rally around each other in the wake of a huge distraction and even up their record at 1-1. Who better to do it against than their most hated rival?

Let’s take a look at some numbers, news, notes & quotes, in this week’s Crab Bag, brought to you by Conrad’s Crab House.

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The Sporting News’ David Steele on GM Ozzie Newsome and what he means to Baltimore:

“[Ozzie] Newsome, the only GM the Ravens have had during their 18 years in Baltimore, has produced two Super Bowl champions, drafted Hall of Famers with his first two picks ever (Jonathan Ogden and Ray Lewis), has had only two head coaches in the last 16 years (Brian Billick and John Harbaugh), and has either employed or mentored front-office personnel all over the NFL. A franchise literally couldn’t ask for more than he’s done.”

MMQB.com’s Jenny Vrentas on the Ravens’ likelihood of competing for another playoff berth:

“Last season was the first time in coach John Harbaugh’s tenure that Baltimore missed the playoffs. An improved 2014 roster could position this team for another deep postseason run: Tight end Dennis Pitta is back from injury, wideout Steve Smith, Sr. was a smart free-agent pickup, and their top two draft picks were used to bolster the defense (linebacker C.J. Mosley and defensive tackle Timmy Jernigan). The most important addition, though, could be new offensive coordinator Gary Kubiak, who has been entrusted to get the running game back on track and help quarterback Joe Flacco take the next step in his development.”

Head coach John Harbaugh on K Justin Tucker’s perfectionism:

“That’s the thing about ‘Tuck’ that’s so great – he’s so motivated. He’s never satisfied. He’s never happy. He can kick a ball straight down the middle and come back and tell me what was wrong with it. As a coach, you feel pretty good about that. It’s the guy that’s missing it 3 yards to the right that’s telling me how good a kick it was that you kind of really don’t want to hear. He’s a perfectionist. They all are – Sam [Koch] is, Morgan [Cox] is. That’s a great group. I really think it’s the best group of specialists in football.”

OLB Terrell Suggs on OLB Courtney Upshaw:

“I like Courtney’s toughness. He fits that Ravens persona. I like his physicality. I just love the way the kid plays. He’s one of those guys who speaks softly but carries a big stick.”

G Kelechi Osemele on what C Jeremy Zuttah brings to the O- line:

“He is really athletic. He is stronger than he looks, and he is highly intelligent. Having a guy that can go out there and make the calls quickly – and be agile and athletic enough to also help in the run game, as well as be the center that has to be the quarterback for the offensive line – it’s a pretty potent combination.”

CBS Sports analyst and former NFL linebacker Bart Scott on the Baltimore Ravens’ offense:

“They’ve got deep threats on the outside in Torrey Smith and Jacoby Jones, and two guys who can work the numbers inside in Dennis Pitta and Steve Smith. They have already proved that they want to run the football, and even though they don’t have a big offensive line, they can still pound away at you because of their athleticism and the way [Gary] Kubiak designs his running game.”

GETTING TO KNOW YOU ~ Q&A with Steve Smith, Sr. 

What are you looking forward to most about playing in the AFC North?

“What I love is being on a team that you don’t just hope you’re going to do well. The true question is, ‘How well are you going to do it, and how deep are you going to go?’ That’s the thing that I think is different, between hope and knowing. I know what we’ve got here, but the question is, ‘How far are we going to go?’”

How are you able to maintain the passion that’s driven you?

“I heard this quote that says, ‘When life knocks you down, make sure you land on your back.’ So, if you can look up, you can get up, meaning that you have to be prepared and ready, and whatever adversity you have, you have the decision and the choice to either get up or quit. I just try to keep that in perspective. I say that because I try to be one of those guys, good or bad, that says the things that people are thinking. And so it’s like, ‘Man, today was tough.’ – ‘Yup. What are you going to do about tomorrow?’”

If you could take your personality and put it on the other side of the ball, what position would it fit best?

“I would take T-Sizzle’s [Terrell Suggs] position. He gets to fly around and have fun. The position he gets to play is pretty cool. I’d want to play in the 3-4 defense, too.”

What do you want your teammates to say and remember about you?

“‘He was a tough player.’”

During the offseason, you went on an African safari. What was that experience like?

“It was awesome to go out there and experience something different. We got to see Mount Kilimanjaro. We also stopped in Dubai. It was a pretty cool trip to see places that you may see in magazines. I learned that we live in such a huge world and how small individually we are. For the things that we may complain about today, there’s always somebody that has it a lot worse.”

Who is Steve Smith, Sr. away from the football field?

“I love watching movies. I love reading books – informational books. There are some books that I love. I love reading quotations. I love reading books that really make me think and analyze. One of the books I love reading is ‘The Last Lecture.’ Just reading a book like that, and then I question myself in what impact I’m making on my family. If I had an illness, would I be trying to make up for all that I wasn’t in that time? Or am I already living my life so that if something were to happen, I would have to reinvent something that I’m not? [I read to] continue to keep building who I already am.”


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HEY, YOU LOOK FAMILIAR! ~ Key Connections

Both Ravens head coach John Harbaugh (1998-06) and Steelers defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau (1973-75) began their NFL coaching careers as special teams coaches for the Philadelphia Eagles.

Steelers defensive assistant Jerry Olsavsky finished his NFL playing career as a LB with the Ravens in 1998. Steelers DBs coach Carnell Lake was a member of the Ravens in 2001, his final NFL season.

Ravens Northeast area scout Andy Weidl spent two years (1998-99) with the Steelers as a player personnel assistant.

Steelers WRs coach Richard Mann served in the same capacity for the Baltimore Colts from 1982-83. Mann (1985) later was hired as the WRs/TEs coach for the Cleveland Browns, where he coached current Ravens general manager/executive vice president and Hall of Fame TE Ozzie Newsome (1978-90).

Ravens C Gino Gradkowski is the younger brother of Steelers QB Bruce Gradkowski. The Gradkowski brothers are natives of Pittsburgh and attended Seton-La Salle Catholic (Pittsburgh, PA) HS.

Several Ravens hail from the state of Pennsylvania: owner Steve Bisciotti (born in Philadelphia), team president Dick Cass (Mercersburg), director of player development Harry Swayne (Philadelphia), assistant strength and conditioning coach Juney Barnett (Philadelphia), G/C Gino Gradkowski (Pittsburgh) and RB Bernard Pierce (Ardmore).

WRs Darrius Heyward-Bey (Silver Spring) and Terence Garvin (Baltimore) are Maryland natives. Both players earned All-State honors during their high school careers, with Heyward-Bey representing McDonogh School (Owings Mills, MD) and Garvin (as a DB) representing Loyola Blakefield (Towson, MD).


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Derek Arnold

About Derek Arnold

RSR/ESR Senior Editor. Derek is originally from and a current resident of Pasadena, MD. He’s a graduate of UMBC and has been a lifelong Baltimore sports fan. In 2007 he founded B’More Birds’ Nest, where he wrote about the Ravens and Orioles before joining RSR in 2012. Derek tells anybody who asks that he has the best job in the world. Follow Derek on Twitter: @BMoreBirdsNest  More from Derek Arnold


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