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Late For Work 2/26: Matt Elam Thinking Of Changing Jersey Number

Posted Feb 26, 2014

Mason blasts Rice, while Torrey reserves judgment. Birk endorses Gino. Fuller helps draft stock.


Elam Thinking Of Changing Jersey Number

This won’t come as good news to fans that already purchased their No. 26 Matt Elam jerseys.

Heading into his second year, Elam is contemplating changing his jersey number.

“Thinking bout switching to that 33 in remembrance of Pops since Jimmy don't want to give up that 22..!” he tweeted Tuesday.

There is significance behind each number.

The number 22 Elam says cornerback Jimmy Smith isn’t willing to part with was not only the number Elam wore in college at the University of Florida, but it was his older sister Christina’s favorite number, according to gatorzone.com. Christina was the victim of a tragic murder when she was 12 years old, shot in a park by a schoolmate’s brother. Eight-year-old Matt ran to hold his dying sister.

Assuming “Pops” is Donald C. Elam, No. 33 would honor his late father after he died of cancer days after Matt’s sophomore season with the Gators. Donald was a Vietnam veteran, a former nurse at Walter Reed Hospital in Washington, D.C., a college graduate and a reverend.

“He was like a legend in my hometown,’’ Matt told gatorzone.com in 2012. “He was a coach when I was growing up. He was good at sports growing up.”

No. 26 has been worn by his older brother, Abram Elam, at various times during his NFL career.

If the Ravens safety actually makes the switch, it will be the third change since being drafted last year. During rookie camp last season, Elam sported No. 31 but switched to No. 26 when it became available after the Ravens parted ways with safety Emmanuel Cook.

Elam fans on Twitter are already speaking out on the potential change:

“come on bruh just got your jersey,” wrote ‏@Drew__B.

“33 would be dope simply because the meaning behind it,” tweeted @JoseHustle.

“That's a great honor, that 2 6 was hot tho,” added ‏@CoLleGeMaTErRia.

“damn I wore 26 because of you, but looks like I'm switching to 33,” wrote ‏@Slick_Rickk_. 

Mason Blasts Rice, Torrey Reserves Judgment

Two of Ray Rice’s teammates (one current, one former) had very different reactions to his domestic violence arrest and video of the running back pulling his seemingly unconscious fiancée out of a casino elevator in Atlantic City.

Police have accused both Rice and his fiancée, Janay Palmer, of striking each other with their hands, and reports indicate police have more unseen video of the altercation.

As reaction to the news swirls, retired Ravens wide receiver Derrick Mason had strong words for his former teammate.

“Unfortunate, very disappointing,” Mason told Steve Davis and Mark Zinno of 105.7 The Fan. “The film doesn’t lie, and they say they have more film. So I’m not going to sit back here and condone it or say, ‘Well, let’s just wait until everything comes out.’ If he did it, if indeed it happened the way that the police are saying it happened from the film that they’ve seen, other than the film that everyone else has seen, it’s despicable. It really is.

“I just can’t condone hitting a woman, period, whether it was my best friend, my father, whoever hit, I’m not going to condone it. What’s wrong is wrong. I’m gonna call a spade a spade. I’m disappointed in Ray that he put himself in this position. He had so much going for him and the guy that I was around, I never would have thought would do that. Now you never know a person unless you spend every day, all day with them, and the person that I knew at that time, I didn’t think could do that. … Like I said, I’m not going to condone whatsoever because that could have been my sister, it could have been my mom, and that’s – you just don’t do it. Point blank.”

Current teammate Torrey Smith is taking a different approach. He wants to support both Rice and Palmer, and reserve judgment until all the facts are revealed.

“It’s definitely a situation that it’s nothing to be proud of for us or for him,” Smith told reporters at a reading event Tuesday. “He knows that. But Janay and Ray are great friends of ours. They’re focused on trying to fix it and make things right and we’re going to support them like we have in the past.

“Who are we to judge them? We don’t know what happened and we don’t know what they’re building on. I’ve talked to him and they are in a great space and trying to continue to grow from it. The fact that they are going on, moving on, trying to grow from it, we’re going to support them more than ever because a lot of people are going to turn their backs on them.”

Birk Endorses Gino As Answer At Center

Ravens second-year center Gino Gradkowski went through growing pains in his first season as a starter.

He jumped into the starting role after mentor Matt Birk retired, handing over the reins. As the line struggled to open running lanes and protect quarterback Joe Flacco, fans and media have been down on Gradkowski.

But Birk remains optimistic that Gradkowski will grow and can be the long-term answer at the position.

“Yeah, Gino is more than capable. There’s no substitute for a young player getting live reps, live bullets,” Birk told The Baltimore Sun’s Matt Vensel.

The retired center noted that there were many changes along the offensive line – the addition of Eugene Monroe, the injury to Kelechi Osemele and coaching changes – and the struggles were a result of all those factors.

“It just seemed like it never quite clicked like they hoped it would for the entire team,” Birk said. “So many changes personnel-wise, coaching, a different philosophy on offense of how they were going to run the ball and how they were going to attack people. With so many new things, they probably have a better idea now of what works and a better idea of what didn’t last year. They will have to build on those strengths as a team and as an offense.”

Quick Hits

  • @mzenitz: Virginia Tech corner Kyle Fuller ran an unofficial 4.40 40 in his first attempt. Fuller is from Baltimore and went to Mount Saint Joseph HS. … Mike Mayock said that Fuller could end up going as high as the middle of the first round depending on what he runs. That time will help [Twitter]
  • Wisconsin middle linebacker Chris Borland gave a big endorsement to Ravens’ new Running Backs Coach Thomas Hammock, saying: “He’s a little bit of a drill sergeant. He gets after guys, and he gets the most out of them. He works them really hard. At the same time, he’s there for them. So, they have great personal relationships and working relationships.” [The Baltimore Sun]
  • NFL brings entrepreneurial boot camp for current and former players to Baltimore. [The Baltimore Sun]
  • Poll results: Is running back a priority for the Ravens? A SportsNation poll revealed half of the voters say the running back position is just a "moderate" priority and nearly a third believe it's a "low" priority. [ESPN]
  • @aqshipley: Guys..im doing an autograph signing this saturday at the york galleria mall at JJ Cards N Toys at 1pm! #Ravens fans #PSU fans..come see me! [Twitter]
  • @A_Mellette3: Wonder how long Elon going to make me wait for my jersey retirement???
  • I always look forward to Rich Eisen’s 40-yard dash in his suit and tie. This year he did it 5.98 seconds, and you can enjoy watching it in the GIF below. [TerezOwens.com]

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