Could Incognito Or Martin Help Ravens O-Line?
The Ravens are one of a few teams that analysts believe could handle the media attention that would come with Missouri defensive lineman Michael Sam, a draft prospect who publicly declared this week that he is gay.
"I hope that fans understand that is a huge compliment," our own John Eisenberg told WNST's Glenn Clark. "That is actually a huge compliment to the team. There are a number of teams that if [Sam] went to that team, they just don't have the weight [to handle the situation]."
It's the Ravens' strong organizational structure and locker room that leads Eisenberg to believe the team could also handle signing Dolphins guard Richie Incognito or tackle Jonathan Martin, if they chose to do so.
A media circus has surrounded the two after Martin left the Dolphins mid-season, alleging he was being bullied by Incognito in the locker room. Martin released a racially charged voicemail left by Incognito, and Incognito has shot back many times in defense. The public back and forth still continues today.
Incognito is scheduled to be a free agent in March. A team would have to make a trade to get Martin.
Meanwhile, the Ravens have a lot of work to do along their offensive line and are looking for good players.
Eisenberg said that one of the biggest priorities of this offseason is addressing the many questions along the line. That includes re-signing tackle Eugene Monroe and/or Michael Oher, bulking up the interior of the line, assessing whether guard Kelechi Osemele can recover fully from back surgery, and deciding on a potential veteran stop-gap at center.
"There's just a bunch of issues there," Eisenberg said. "The offensive line is what I think did them in this year, and so it's a priority."
Could Incognito or Martin be an answer to any some of those issues?
"Absolutely," Eisenberg said.
"I mean, will they be? I'm not saying that the Ravens are talking to them, but listen, there are deals to be made. If there's a deal to be made and they think that the player is … it's no different than Michael Sam. They are looking for players. Can they get a player? If one of those guys can help them, then sure."
President Dick Cass made it clear Monday – in light of the Sam news – what the Ravens look at when evaluating prospects.
"We're all about winning," Cass said. "If he's a good football player who can help us win games, he will be welcomed here."
Eisenberg noted some of the previous free agent signings that could have gone wrong, but the Ravens were able to handle smoothly, including Donte Stallworth and Ricky Williams.
"And the same thing goes [with Incognito or Martin], by the way, 'You're going to come in here and this is how we act. This is how the roller coaster goes, so you better adhere to what we do,'" Eisenberg said.
Leach Jumps In Pool During Snow Storm
When Vonta Leach is challenged, the guy doesn't back down – even in a snow and ice storm.
Snow is bearing down on Baltimore (again), with many of us waking up to as much as 10 inches this morning. The storm has landed the same punch to much of the Atlantic Coast, including to North Carolina,* *where the Ravens fullback resides with his family.
And that's where Leach was issued the challenge … to jump into a freezing cold pool.
"32 degrees and ice #countryboy #snowchallenge jump in pool ," he tweeted yesterday.
And so the 260-pound behemoth put on his swim trunks, went out back, walked through the snow in his bare feet, counted down to three and took the plunge.
His head and body were completely submerged, and he stayed under for a few seconds* *while he swam back to the stairs.
The kids were thoroughly entertained, screaming and laughing the entire time.
Here's the video of the insanity; you may have to tilt your phone or computer screen on its side as the camera operator captured the whole thing at that angle. (Mobile users tap "View in Browser" at the top of the page.)
Would Torrey Smith Play With A Gay Player?
Torrey Smith is blogging! (And he's a good writer.)
The Ravens wide receiver published his first post yesterday, and he chimed in on the Sam news and whether he would mind playing with a gay player.
"Absolutely not!" he wrote. "If he is a great football player and can help us win our next Super Bowl, I [couldn't] care less about who or what he likes as long as he performs on the field. Some may argue that it could affect the chemistry in the locker room but that shouldn't be an issue. Most men are comfortable with their sexuality.
"The University of Missouri football team is proof of that. If a group of athletes 18-22 years old can handle having an openly gay teammate, why can't a group of professional athletes? Things may have been a little different 15-20 years ago, but society is different now. As long as there is a reciprocation of respect, the locker room environment shouldn't be an issue."
The Baltimore Sun's Matt Vensel preempted potential fan complaints about Torrey's blogging:
"I'm sure some fans will loudly type, 'Stop blogging and get back to studying your playbook! Hit the gym and the [JUGS] machine when you're done! But if you're a rational fan who is interested in the thoughts of a thoughtful young man who has become one of the faces of the Ravens franchise, check out Smith's blog here. Hopefully he sticks with it."
Don't Forget About The Defensive Line
The Ravens may have higher priorities – like extending Terrell Suggs, re-signing Dennis Pitta, addressing* *the o-line and upgrading at receiver – but that doesn't mean the defensive line doesn't need a little work.
"[F]or a team that prides itself on playing physical football and winning the battles along the line of scrimmage, the defensive line certainly can't be ignored," wrote The Baltimore Sun's Jeff Zrebiec.
The Ravens put a lot of resources toward the defensive line last season, but Chris Canty had an "uneven" first season in Baltimore and Marcus Spears was released mid-season.
"Throw in the fact that starting defensive end Arthur Jones, probably the Ravens' most consistent defensive lineman in 2013, and reserve nose tackle Terrence Cody are both free agents and are unlikely to return, and it's clear that the organization will again have to address the defensive line this offseason," Zrebiec wrote.
Ranking Positional Needs
There are plenty of needs the Ravens needs to address this season, but which are the priorities?
Baltimore Beatdown's Jason Butt put together his list of priorities (below). What are yours?
1) Wide receiver
2) Tight end
3) Offensive guard
4) Free safety
5) Defensive line
7) Offensive tackle
Three Reasons Jacoby Should Stay
With receiver Jacoby Jones set to hit the free agent market in March, he will be looking for the best deal he can get. At age 29, you never know how many more contracts he can get, so he has to take advantage now.
That contract could come from another team, or from the Ravens, and CSNBaltimore.com's Clifton Brown gives three reasons why Jones should choose Baltimore:
1) Jones has a good relationship with new offensive coordinator Gary Kubiak.
2) Joe Flacco has the arm to take advantage of Jones' speed.
3) Jones plays for a head coach that puts a high value on special teams.
- @RapSheet [NFL Network]: As for other FAs, I'm told #49ers want WR Anquan Boldin back and the feeling is mutual. I'd expect something to get done to keep him. [Twitter]
- @sportguyRSR [Russell Street Report]: #Ravens fullback @vleach44 finished the 2013 season with the longest active consecutive games played streak (123) by an NFL fullback. #Beast [Twitter]
- @Artj97: Time to go put that work in. If it was easy everyone would do it! [Twitter]
- @MichaelOher: RT @BmoreEisenberg on @MichaelOher: "He's not as unpopular with the organization as he is with the fans" wow I thought I was cool with them [Twitter]
- @KIDRaven* *[Asa Jackson]: Getting high off late night self improvement. Addicted to getting better. Strung out on progress. [Twitter]
- Retired Ravens linebacker Brendon Ayanbadejo says Sam is similar to Rosa Parks and Jackie Robinson. [CBSSports.com]
- @334Upshaw41: Opened up the door to this! I'm tired of shoveling snow and it's still snowing!! [Twitter]