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Late For Work 3/24: Beast Kelechi Osemele Pulls Tractor Tires After Back Surgery

Posted Mar 24, 2014

Zuttah a significant upgrade. Ravens interested in Blount. Smith Ad. Knock-out hit from Ravens newest safety.


K.O. Pulls Tractor Tires After Back Surgery

Offensive lineman Kelechi Osemele is in beast mode as he continues to recover from back surgery.

On the same day the Ravens announced a trade for offensive lineman Jeremy Zuttah (more on that below), Osemele posted an Instagram video of himself running a double tractor tire pull.

The tractor tires aren’t 300-pound defensive linemen bearing down, but the tires can weigh more than 140 pounds each, and grinding isn’t for everyone. This is the best evidence we’ve seen since K.O’s November back surgery that he is well on his way to a full recovery for the 2014 season.

“Adversity is the great equalizer and the measure of a man is how you respond to it,” Osemele wrote. “Last season ended far too short. Can't let it happen again. #DreamChasing#RavensNation”

Check it out. (Mobile users tap “View in Browser” at the top of the page to watch the video.)

With the re-signing of Eugene Monroe, yesterday’s trade and Osemele’s expected return for the voluntary offseason conditioning program next month, the Ravens offensive line is starting to take shape.

The projected starting lineup includes Monroe at left tackle, K.O. at left guard or right tackle, Zuttah at center and Pro Bowler Marshal Yanda at right guard. That leaves just one more lineman to plug in (either from the depth chart, free agency or the draft.)

The chemistry may not be too off either.

“I think having K.O. back will help tremendously,” Monroe said after he re-signed earlier this month. “I played with him just a short time and he’s one of the nastiest players I’ve played with.”

Monroe is also already friends with Zuttah because they grew up in neighboring New Jersey towns.

Osemele reached out via social media to welcome the newest member to the line.

“@JZutt7176 Welcome to the unit G! #SquadUp #RavensNation,” Osemele tweeted.

 “thanks brother, let's get it! #RavensNation,” Zuttah responded.

Zuttah Explains Why Ravens Not Active On Center Market

The Ravens made an unexpected – and significant – move Sunday that apparently has been in the works for over a week.

The trade for Zuttah for a reported fifth-round pick in 2015 explains why the Ravens were never really active on the free agent center market.

Of all the centers that were a realistic option for Baltimore, none fit better than Zuttah.

“Zuttah was the best possible option, which is why it cost the Ravens a draft pick,” wrote ESPN’s Jamison Hensley. “General Manager Ozzie Newsome wanted to get bigger on the interior of the line, but the free-agent class for centers was underwhelming.

“So, instead of overpaying for someone, the Ravens traded a mid-round pick for Zuttah. The Ravens truly made the best of a bad situation.”

Hensley says the Ravens could have paid more for journeyman Brian de la Puente. They could have gambled with a “stopgap” like David Bass. There were rumors and dreams of prying Pro Bowler Alex Mack from the Cleveland Browns, but the transition tag made it seemingly impossible.

“Sources say Ravens have high opinion of Alex Mack, but thought all along it would be too complicated and expensive to pull it off,” tweeted Wilson.

Now, the 6-foot-4, 308-pound Zuttah adds size to the interior of the offensive line, and is expected to start ahead of youngster Gino Gradkowski at center. With 76 starts over his six-year career, Zuttah brings more experience and his quickness and athleticism are “ideal” for Gary Kubiak’s offensive system, says ESPN’s Louis Riddick.

Getting bigger, quicker and more experienced at center makes the trade a significant move. A big enough move that it should have an impact on the Ravens’ quest to return to the playoffs after they missed out for the first time in six years last season.

“The Baltimore Ravens weren't going to get back to the playoffs without fixing their offensive line, and the Ravens weren't going to get better on the line without upgrading at center,” wrote Hensley.

“Zuttah, who turns 28 in June, isn't a Pro Bowl center and is coming off a below-average season. But what's important to the Ravens is that he's an upgrade over Gino Gradkowski, who struggled mightily in his first season as a starter.”

Ravens Interested In LeGarrette Blount

The Ravens are keeping an eye on running back LeGarrette Blount as he is scheduled to visit the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Baltimore has “interest” in Blount and will monitor the market for him, but the team doesn’t have a visit scheduled with him, according to Wilson.

Blount was supposed to meet with the Steelers early this week, but it got pushed to Friday so that Steelers brass could go to the owners meetings in Orlando. The Steelers also met with running back Maurice Jones-Drew, and the Patriots are still talking with Blount.

“The Ravens could use Blount as a short-yardage back to complement former Pro Bowl runner Ray Rice. Blount could also fill in for Rice if he is disciplined by the NFL for his involvement in a domestic dispute last month,” wrote Wilson. “Rice is still waiting for the case to be resolved after he and his fiancée were arrested and charged with simple assault-domestic violence stemming from an altercation in February at an Atlantic City casino.”

Steve Smith Ad In Charlotte Observer

Despite a rocky departure from the Panthers, wide receiver Steve Smith made a classy move to say goodbye to the fans that cheered for him for 13 years.

After signing with the Ravens, Smith bought an ad in Friday’s Charlotte Observer, saying he will always consider himself a Carolina Panther.

“I look forward to the day when I get to come home to celebrate my career, and retire in the city I’ve grown to love and appreciate very much,” he wrote.

That’s the type of move you’d like to see from long-time Ravens after they move on from a cherished relationship.

Below is the full ad.

Who Is Darian Stewart? A Hard-Hitting Clip Is A Great Intro

When the Ravens added veteran safety Darian Stewart to their roster, Hensley joked about how few fans would know who Stewart even is.

“The Baltimore Ravens finally added a free-agent safety. Is it Chris Clemons? Thomas DeCoud? How about Champ Bailey?” Hensley asked. “Well, no. The Ravens agreed on a one-year deal with Darian Stewart. If you're wondering who this is, you're not alone.” 

While Stewart is unknown and many expect the Ravens to still address their need for a playmaking free safety, Stewart’s physicality and potential contributions shouldn’t go unnoticed. He has a reputation as a tough guy who can make a hit hurt.

"Good safety, good player," Rams analyst D'Marco Farr told The Sun. "Good, smart, instinctive guy, underrated hitter. Ryan Williams, the running back for the Arizona Cardinals, he definitely knows who Darian Stewart is. He gave him one of the hardest hits I've ever seen. He ended his season. I've never seen a guy hit that hard.

"Darian's a smart player. He's how you like your players right on the edge of cocky, very confident. He's very sure of himself. He's a safety in this league."

The hit that Farr is referring to is in the video below.

It looks like Williams is knocked out, but it was later revealed that he left the game with a shoulder injury, not a head injury.

None the less, it was the Ravens’ newest safety who delivered the hardcore hit.

Quick Hits

  • @Ravens: We've arrived in Orlando for this year's owners meetings! [Twitter]
  • @RavensInsider: Ravens weren't inclined to match offers on James Ihedigbo, according to sources, he's garnering offers from NFC teams, including Lions [Twitter]
  • @RavensInsider: Ravens are another possible link for Thomas DeCoud, but nothing moving fast at this time as far as visit or offer [Twitter]
  • @RavensInsider: Ravens scout Tennessee State Pro Day workout [Twitter]
  • @MayorSRB: Congrats @89SteveSmith on joining the @Ravens!! Rumor has it, you want to live in #BaltimoreCity @LiveBaltimore will be in touch #GrowBmore [Twitter]
  • @JZutt7176: So grateful for all the love and support I'm getting from all these great #Ravens fans! Excited for the new opp and ready to get to work! [Twitter]
  • Fox Sports has decided not to renew their contract with Brian Billick, former Ravens head coach. “We appreciate Brian’s contributions over the years to the NFL on FOX and wish him the best,” FOX spokesman Dan Bell said. [ProFootballTalk.com]

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