Jarret Johnson: A Raven to The Core

Lombardi's Way Jarret Johnson: A Raven to The Core

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Jarret Johnson will officially retire as a Raven today during a 2:30 PM press conference at The Castle. He embodies what it means to wear the purple and black.

Johnson was a lunch pail guy. He showed up for work every day and one day at a time he tried to improve. He did the dirty work – put the team first and mined the most out of his physical abilities.

He is quintessential Baltimore.

I recall one day during training camp in the summer of 2006, Johnson stayed late and worked on his drops into coverage with teammate Adalius Thomas. That season JJ moved from a lineman with his hand in the dirt to become the stout edge setter that would define the balance of his career.

He would become a staple of the Ravens defense from 2007 through the devastating loss in New England during the 2011 AFC Championship.

The former member of Alabama’s Crimson Tide, the school’s only two-time captain, will be remembered for many things but arguably, the two that stand out most was his destruction of Ravens nemesis Hines Ward in the 2011 season opener, and unfortunately, his absence from the Super Bowl XLVII championship team – a franchise-wide disappointment. JJ left for the riches of San Diego much like several defenders before him and since.

He will be remembered fondly as he moves on to the next chapter of his life as a full-time outdoorsman. JJ comes from a family with a long line of men who made a living as commercial fishermen and crabbers. In fact just two weeks before JJ’s 8th birthday his father was lost at sea.

Here’s to the good life JJ.

You’ve earned it!

GOING WIDEWAYS

The Ravens have long been criticized for their inability to identify and develop collegiate talent at the position of wide receiver. But is that a fair criticism?

Ozzie Newsome & Co. regularly make their picks in the bottom third of the NFL Draft. It goes without saying that they’d prefer to pick 32nd each season.

The downside of the previous season’s success is that it makes it difficult to find top-level, can’t-miss talent in the draft at wide receiver. Such players are usually long gone, particularly in the modern era of the NFL and its dependency on the passing game.

With such players gone, the Ravens follow their draft board – one that they’ve taken 9 months to build. And that usually leads them to a player at a different position.

Now that’s not to say they haven’t made mistakes…

In 2000 Travis Taylor was a mistake. He lacked toughness and a love for the game.

In 2005, Mark Clayton was a mistake. He was a younger version of Derrick Mason and the tandem didn’t complement each other. Plus the Ravens passed on Roddy White, compounding the mistake.

In 2010 the Ravens had an opportunity to move up and get Dez Bryant. Instead they crossed their fingers and hoped he would fall. He didn’t and THAT was a mistake. They eventually traded back and parlayed the 25th overall pick into more picks that became Sergio Kindle (43), Ed Dickson (70) and Dennis Pitta (114).

The Patriots wanted the Ravens 2011 third-round pick in addition to No. 25 for the right to draft Bryant. Ozzie passed and that pick eventually became (gulp) Jah Reid.

All that said, the Ravens have taken measures to be better recruiters at the position of wide receiver through a concerted effort between the coaches and scouts. Time will tell how that plays out but competition among the receivers currently on the 90-man roster will be fierce.

Unless there is some special teams dynamo among the competitors, chances are the Ravens will keep seven WR’s. The givens are Steve Smith, Sr. and Breshad Perriman. Beyond that no one is guaranteed a spot. Those fighting for the other five positions include:

  • Marlon Brown
    Kamar Aiken
    Michael Campanaro
    Darren Waller
    Jeremy Butler
    DeAndre Carter (UDFA)
    Cam Worthy (UDFA)

Hey, whatever happened to Demetrius Williams?

Assuming the Ravens carry 7 WRs which seven will make the final 53-man roster?

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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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