Late For Work 1/14: Jim Caldwell Emerges As Lions Front-Runner

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Caldwell Emerges As Lions Front-Runner

The Ravens may have a vacancy at their offensive coordinator position soon.

Now that Ken Whisenhunt has surprisingly decided to lead the Tennessee Titans, Jim Caldwell has reportedly become the new front-runner for the Detroit Lions head-coaching vacancy. Whisenhunt was previously the presumed leading candidate.

A handful of reporters – Ian Rapoport, Jason La Canfora, Christ Mortensen and Adam Schefter – have noted that the Lions have now shifted their focus to the Ravens offensive coordinator, who interviewed with the team on Jan. 3. The two sides were also reportedly in talks Monday.

"One source said the Lions' discussions with Caldwell had turned to negotiations," reported Mortensen and Schefter.

Caldwell's main competition for the job is Mike Munchak, who the Titans fired as their head coach last week. Former Houston Texans coach Gary Kubiak also interviewed for the job.

Former Colts coach Tony Dungy spoke with Lions brass about Caldwell, going to bat for his former assistant coach, per ESPN.

"I already had told [Lions GM] Martin* *Mayhew that Caldwell is a great match for a team that has the personnel of being capable of playing in the Super Bowl," Dungy said. "I think the Lions were not only impressed with Jim's interview but they were pleasantly surprised by the number of former Colts players who called on his behalf. Jim made Peyton Manning an even better quarterback – look at the numbers and wins – and I think he can do the same for Matthew Stafford.

"I know the Lions also want discipline and good character in the locker room. I'm not saying their other candidates can't achieve those things but those are Jim's strengths with his background, especially from his influence under Joe Paterno at Penn State and hopefully in our program in the NFL."

If Caldwell lands the job, he is expected to bring Ravens Secondary Coach Teryl Austin with him as a defensive coordinator and Kansas City Chiefs Assistant Head Coach David Culley with him as offensive coordinator, "though he might retain play-calling duties," according to Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press.

It would "make life easier" on the Ravens if Caldwell were to get the Lions post, says ESPN's Jamison Hensley, because they may not want Caldwell to return as the offensive coordinator after the unit ranked 29th in overall offense last season.* *

"And, even if the Ravens want him to return, I'm not entirely sure Caldwell wants to come back as the playcaller," Hensley wrote. "Caldwell came to the Ravens before the 2012 season as a former head coach whose expertise was developing quarterbacks. He was hired to be in Joe Flacco's ear, not run an entire offense."

He added: "There are plenty of options for the Ravens. Baltimore could make the big splash by hiring Norv Turner, who has yet to be released from his Cleveland Browns' contract. The Ravens could look for the younger hot candidate in Packers quarterbacks coach Ben McAdoo. Or the Ravens can keep continuity and promote wide receivers coach Jim Hostler, who is the only coach on staff that has experience as an offensive coordinator. Hostler has the advantage of already knowing the players and the offensive coaches."

Harbaugh's Grandfather Dies At 98

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We send our condolences to Head Coach John Harbaugh and his family after "Grandpa Joe" passed away Sunday morning.

Joe Cipiti, the Harbaugh brothers' grandfather, died at the age of 98, prior to Jim Harbaugh's 49ers facing off against the Carolina Panthers in the NFC divisional playoff round.

During that game, you may have heard announcers Joe Buck and Troy Aikman mention Cipiti's passing, which came at the request of Jim.

"They just did a wonderful job," Harbaugh said of the broadcasters. "I wanted to thank them for that. Both Joe and Troy, the way they talked about it, you could hear it in their voice that they understood family and they just had a great understanding of what our grandpa meant to us. So, I appreciate those guys for that."

Jim told media Monday that he doesn't think he will be able to attend the funeral services Friday, as he will be preparing for the Seattle Seahawks in the NFC title championship game.

John has not spoken with media since his grandfather's passing.

Ravens 10 Most Penalized Players

Who would you guess was the Ravens' most penalized player in 2013?

Here's a hint: it's not Michael Oher, who frequently is criticized for his false start penalties (he was actually called for a moderate three false starts last season).

OK, got your guess?

It was cornerback Jimmy Smith. He drew eight flags for 79 yards, three of which were for pass interference, three for defensive holding, one for illegal contact and one personal foul.

Who else saw a lot of yellow last season? Hensley put together a list of the top 10 penalized Ravens:

  1. CB Jimmy Smith (8 penalties for 79 yards)
  2. LB Elvis Dumervil (8 penalties for 57 yards)
  3. G A.Q. Shipley (8 penalties for 50 yards)
  4. G Marshal Yanda (7 penalties for 45 yards)
  5. LB Courtney Upshaw (6 penalties for 69 yards)
  6. OT Michael Oher (6 penalties for 45 yards)
  7. WR Torrey Smith (6 penalties for 45 yards)
  8. CB Lardarius Webb (6 penalties for 43 yards)
  9. G Kelechi Osemele (5 penalties for 29 yards)
  10. S James Ihedigbo (5 penalties for 27 yards)

Notarized Documents Show Berry Sold Ring

Despite former Ravens running back Damien Berry denying personally selling his Super Bowl XLVII ring, notarized documents say otherwise.

Goldin Auctions provided said documents to The Baltimore Sun's Aaron Wilson, showing that Berry and a witness went to a Florida Wells-Fargo bank to have the sale notarized. Berry provided his driver's license and received two cashier's checks, including one for $10,000* *that he cashed at the bank.

The ring was then sold to an undisclosed third party, and finally consigned to Goldin Auctions, per Wilson, where it currently has a high bid of $36,603.

"We feel like our credibility has been questioned by Damien, and I feel like he's injuring the sale of the ring," Ken Goldin, the founder of Goldin Auctions, told Wilson. "We wanted to set the record straight and assure the winning bidder on the ring to know that we have full authorization to sell the ring and they will own it clear and unencumbered. 

"I don't know why Damien is doing this, but I can only imagine that Damien is embarrassed. You don't see [former Ravens linebacker] Jamie Sharper saying anything. As a business owner, I'm obligated to defend our business practices."

Quick Hits

  • In an anonymous survey, 320 NFL players were asked which players strike the most fear in the opposition, and not a single Raven made the list. The most feared player is Lions defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh, followed by teammate, wide receiver Calvin Johnson and Houston Texans defensive lineman J.J. Watt. "If players were asked 10 years ago to name the most feared player in the NFL, Baltimore Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis would've won," wrote Hensley. "If you asked that question a couple of years ago, I'm sure some would've said linebacker Terrell Suggs. Even last season, safety Bernard* *Pollard probably would've received some of the players' votes." [ESPN]
  • The Ravens were again one of the NFL's fastest in offensive pace, ranking No. 7 with 25.79 seconds between plays, but execution was lacking. [The Baltimore Sun]
  • The Ravens' reserve-future contract with running back Cierre Wood was disapproved by the NFL due to a paperwork issue, but is being updated and refiled. [The Baltimore Sun]
  • @OmahaSteaks: Woke up to 652 missed calls from #PeytonManning. #OmahaOmaha [Twitter]
  • @ryanmink: And you were tired of "Alaska, Alaska, Alaska!" [Joe Flacco's choice word at the line of scrimmage.]
  • @TorreySmithWR: Caught a King Fish, some snapper, Tuna, Trigger Fish and now this bad boy!! [Instagram]
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