McClain Likely Won't Need Surgery
With the Ravens defensive line significantly upgraded, attention will likely now turn to the inside linebacker and safety positions.
The good news is that Jameel McClain, who has been a consistent starter ahead of the departed Dannell Ellerbe the last three years, may be healthy and ready to return in 2013.
Doctors told McClain that the spinal cord contusion he sustained in the Week 14 loss to the Redskins last season is "resolving itself," and is unlikely to require surgery, per USA Today.
McClain told writer Robert Klemko that he vividly remembers the hit that ended his season. He was set to tackle Washington running back Alfred Morris when they collided awkwardly.
"I guess I just had my head in a wrong position and then, boom! My body went numb for a little bit. I could feel my hands. I could feel my legs. And then the sensation went away," he said.
"I was, like, 'I want to go back out there. Let's go. We need this game.' And it just didn't happen."
McClain is hungry to return in 2013.
He said that the Ravens' Super Bowl title was personally "bittersweet." McClain was happy to win, but because he was on the sideline, watching Ellerbe and Ray Lewis man the inside linebacker spots, he feels he still has to earn respect.
"I have a ring, but am I a Super Bowl champion? I don't know," McClain said.
The 27-year-old veteran splits his offseason time between Baltimore and Philadelphia, where he grew up. McClain knows what it's like to battle through obstacles because he and his family came from tough circumstances. He, his single mother and three siblings lived in a homeless shelter for seven months and often slept on the couches of friends and relatives.
He ultimately overcame those difficult conditions when the Ravens took notice and picked him up as an undrafted rookie free agent out of Syracuse in 2008. Now, he is poised to overcome again.
"Hungry is all I know," McClain said. "After how I grew up, college, the pros — it was like a vacation. But I treated it like a business trip."
"I'm going to get back out there, no matter what."
Chadiha: Dumervil Chose Wrong Team
Pass rusher Elvis Dumervil had the luxury of the choosing between two of the AFC's top teams in the Broncos and Ravens.
In the end, he chose Baltimore (for reasons explained here).
And he chose wrong, according to ESPN's Jeffri Chadiha.
"Whatever the case surrounding Dumervil's recent decision to sign with Baltimore, this much is true: He just lost his best chance at playing in the Super Bowl next season," Chadiha wrote.
"The Broncos are clearly the class of the AFC going into the 2013 season. Even with the recent screw-up that led to the team dumping Dumervil at the last minute for salary-cap considerations … Denver was looking increasingly more like the runaway conference favorite."
Chadiha is correct in saying the Broncos look like a better Super Bowl contender now because of their offseason additions and quarterback Peyton Manning … in March. But they were also the top seed last postseason … in January. Yet the Ravens were the ones who took home the hardware after beating the Broncos in Denver.
ESPN colleague Jamison Hensley isn’t ready to jump on board with Chadiha. The AFC North blogger says it's not like the Ravens are a struggling team like the Jaguars or Jets and are still, in his mind, a top-10 team.
The schedulers at the league may opt to start the 2013 season with a Broncos-Ravens AFC divisional title rematch. And if they do …
"Dumervil might be able to measure his new team against his old one very early in the season," wrote Hensley.
Pollard: I'm A Little [Ticked], But Who Cares?
One of the more surprising moves this offseason was the release of hard-hitting safety Bernard Pollard.
With only about a reported $1 million in cap savings by making the move, many speculated that it was Pollard's outspoken personality that led to his departure. Harbaugh denied that.
ESPN's Collin Cowherd asked Pollard if the Ravens gave him an explanation.
"They said they wanted to purge the roster," Pollard said. "So that's something that I got to take. This is a business; they can tell you whatever they want to tell you."
Pollard was upbeat and seemed to take the Ravens' decision in stride, saying that both sides are moving on and General Manager Ozzie Newsome is making "great moves."
The 28-year-old veteran played with six broken ribs for much of the season and re-broke them in Super Bowl XLVII. He delivered a hard blow to Patriots running back Stevan Ridley that caused a key fumble in the Ravens' AFC title win.
When asked if he was bitter for getting cut after giving so much to Baltimore and playing through the injuries, Pollard said:
"Well, I'm a little [ticked], but at the end of the day, who cares?" he said with a chuckle. "Who cares, man? God has opened a door for myself and my family to go to Tennessee and Tennessee has been great.
"Us as players and fans, we have to understand that this is a business. So we can be mad all we want to, but it has to be short-lived because at the end of the day life goes on, the organization is going to keep on thriving."
Pollard said he does not blame Joe Flacco's record-breaking $120.6 million contract for his release.
"I think Joe is a great player," Pollard said. "I want everybody to make as much money as they can and Joe went out there and he played his tail off."
Could 2013 Defense Be Better Than 2012?
The Ravens have lost six defensive starters from last season.
But the overhaul on that side of the ball was by design, reports NFL Network's Albert Breer. That's because, despite winning the Super Bowl, Baltimore finished last season as the 20th-overall defense.
With 12 draft picks, the additions of Dumervil, Chris Canty and Marcus Spears to the defensive line, plus the potential for improved health to Haloti Ngata, Terrell Suggs, McClain and Lardarius Webb, could the Ravens 2013 defense actually be better?
CBSSports.com's Will Brinson and Pete Prisco think so.
"What Baltimore did this season was smart," Brinson said. "And there's a decent chance that they go into 2013 with a better defense than the one they had in 2012.
"You start to look at the guys that they lost … they were willing to let the market set itself and let these guys go if they got too expensive. They learned their lesson after their last Super Bowl victory and they're not going to get stuck in salary cap hell. I think it's smart to cut your losses on some of these guys."
The two analysts repeatedly asked what the Ravens really lost so far this offseason.
In Prisco and Brinson's words …
- Paul Kruger was a part-time starter that got hot at the right time.
- Dannell Ellerbe only started 14 games.
- Anquan Boldin was too slow and is "replaceable."
- Ed Reed "couldn't tackle me," said Prisco.
- Ray Lewis was "the most overrated player on that entire defense."
- Cary Williams played well, but "wasn't really a great cornerback."
Pass Rusher Carradine Visiting Ravens
Highly touted Florida State pass rusher Tank Carradine is in Baltimore and scheduled to visit the Under Armour Performance Center today after meeting with the Eagles yesterday, according to The Baltimore Sun's Aaron Wilson.
Carradine would be excited to join a defensive line that already includes Dumervil and Terrell Suggs.
"I would feel great about it," Carradine told Wilson. "I would fit right in with those guys because they're impact players. I can be that guy who has ability and can learn from those guys and bring a lot to the table.
"I like the 3-4 a lot because I'm able to do more, show more. I'm able to stand up. I can see more. I can recognize pass and run better when you stand up. I'm able to be in space, drop in coverage and play inside receivers. I feel real good about the 3-4. I've played in a 4-3, but I can play in a 3-4. I can play either scheme really good."
Carradine is scheduled to visit with seven NFL teams and had 17 interviews at the combine, including a formal meeting with the Ravens. He is projected to be selected in the first or second round of April's draft.
- Unofficial clues that the league may announce the 2013 schedule on April 16. [ProFootballTalk.com]
- Harrison was scheduled to visit with Baltimore the night it signed Dumervil, but now that won't be necessary. What's next? Harrison's agent said the door has not closed on returning to Pittsburgh. [Adam Schefter, Twitter]
- Art Jones is catching A LOT of flak for declaring the Ravens a "dream team in the making" hours after the team signed Dumervil, including from Hensley. [ESPN]
- Ngata is excited about Baltimore's offseason moves. Oh, and he responds to the dream-team comment too. [NFL Network]