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Late For Work 3/29: Ravens Are Out-Patrioting The Patriots


Ravens Are Out-Patrioting The Patriots

It's true. The Ravens benefited from a stroke of fortune in landing prized pass rusher Elvis Dumervil.

If not for the fax fiasco and his subsequent release, he'd still be a Bronco.

But it's also true that Dumervil is a Raven because he wanted to be one bad enough that he took less money than Denver was offering.

What does that tell you?

To The Baltimore Sun's Matt Vensel, it means Dumervil is one example of the Ravens "out-Patrioting the Patriots" this offseason.

In other words, the Ravens' signed free agents – specifically free agents that were cut by their prior teams – want to come to Baltimore because they believe they have a real chance of winning the Lombardi Trophy.

"Sound familiar?" asked Vensel. "That's how the New England Patriots have operated, rounding out their rosters over the past decade with veterans who came to Foxborough because they wanted to win."

By targeting players cut by their former teams, the Ravens benefit in a couple of ways.

First, as was noted in yesterday’s LFW, the Ravens have a good chance of racking up compensatory picks for 2014. They lose players who finished their contracts, while gaining players that were cut so they don't count in the compensatory pick formula. "Look at how New England has done it. They've often focused on cut guys rather than players at the end of their contracts," wrote Sports Illustrated's Peter King.

Second, the released players have a chip on their shoulders, which helps in getting them at a discount price and can be used as motivation to perform their best. In the case of Dumervil, that chip is so big that, “I may have a brick wall now,” he said.

But even the biggest chip would mean nothing for Baltimore if it didn't present a chance to hoist the Lombardi.

All four of the Ravens' free agent signings this offseason had other interested suitors.  Chris Canty, who was let go by the Giants as part of a salary cap purge, was sought out by the Titans, Packers and Chiefs.

Why'd he choose the Ravens?

"The ability to win," he said.

The Cowboys trimmed their salary-cap figure by releasing Marcus Spears earlier this month.  The Chiefs, Jaguars and Patriots were all interested.

Why'd he choose the Ravens?

"[It] is a no-brainer for a guy like me that is going into my ninth year because we are all striving to try to get that hardware," Spears said.

You know Dumervil's story. Michael Huff has never seeing a winning season in his seven-year career [more on that today from Ryan Mink].

You get the point.

"Credit Owner Steve Bisciotti, Coach John Harbaugh and General Manger Ozzie Newsome for drastically changing the perception of the organization in the past five years," Vensel wrote. "The Ravens went from being a renegade franchise with swagger to a perennial contender with a warmer and fuzzier public image that is a destination for veterans willing to sacrifice a million bucks or two in the hopes of getting a shiny white gold championship ring."

Dumervil Could Push Upshaw Inside

Many have wondered what the addition of outside linebacker Dumervil does for second-year outside linebacker Courtney Upshaw.

One possible move Defensive Coordinator Dean Pees could make is move Upshaw inside so both players could be on the field at the same time.

While it's still too early to make the call, Pees didn't rule out the possibility.

"Yeah, you never know," Pees said yesterday on 105. 7 The Fan's "The Scott Garceau Show." "One of the things, the way we teach this defense is all the backers have to know all four spots.

"I've always told these guys,  'I don't want a good player on the sideline by me with a player out on the field that I don't think is as good because you can't play another position.' Our guys have always learned a lot of different spots."

Still, Pees said he will start the OTAs and minicamps with Upshaw at outside linebacker and let him compete.  The coordinator also said that with NFL offenses using spread offense so often in the last five or six years, the Ravens defense was in its sub-package 64 percent of the time last year.

In those sub-packages, more pass rushers are needed on the field.

"[Y]ou can't have too many pass rushers, and we can find a way to get them all on the field," Pees said. "We can scheme up some things to get all of those guys on the field. … [T]here's going to be enough opportunity for everybody to play a lot of snaps. The more players you have, and the less plays they play, the fresher they are, the better they are."

Ravens Could Be Looking For Free Agent ILB

The Ravens also can't make a decision on where to play Upshaw until they are done making moves at the inside linebacker position.

Pees indicated that the team still has some maneuvering to do with the draft, and maybe even free agency.

"That's going to be an interesting situation because I think we're still probably looking out there," Pees told Garceau. "There's still always a chance that somebody could get signed. I can't say that for sure and I don't really know. There's not a lot of guys left out there; same thing with the draft.

"It'll be a combination of the guys we have – the Josh Bynes, the Albert McClellans, the Jameel McClains – all those guys. Really those are the guys that are coming back along with whoever we may end up signing here in the offseason still or picked up by the draft."

Lombardi Trophy Visits State House In Annapolis

The Ravens' Super Bowl XLVII Lombardi Trophy visited the State House in Annapolis yesterday, as the Maryland General Assembly honored the champs.

Wide receiver Torrey Smith, President Dick Cass and Vice President of Public Relations Kevin Byrne addressed the lawmakers. Delegates and senators got to have their pictures taken with the trophy.

"We had a long season, we had a lot of ups and downs, and we wouldn't have won it any other way," Smith said in the WBAL video below.

And good thing Smith has good hands, even while wearing a suit and tie. During the ceremony, Smith caught a pass from Delegate Curt Anderson, whose pass was a little shaky.

Ravens Take WR In First Round?

While most are predicting the Ravens will take a middle linebacker or safety in April's draft, ESPN's Todd McShay sees Baltimore bolstering it offense with not only its first-round pick, but its second-rounder too.

With the 32nd pick, McShay has Baltimore selecting Louisiana Tech wide receiver Quinton Patton. McShay admitted the Ravens pick was difficult to project, but he sees Patton being able to fill the role previously held by Anquan Boldin. Patton is a "little faster and more athletic" than Boldin, and could be a nice complement to Smith.

With the Ravens' second-round pick, McShay sees Baltimore picking up Wisconsin center Travis Frederick.

McShay's colleague, Jamison Hensley, is on board with Patton,but doesn't like Frederick for the Ravens.

 "The Ravens don't usually reach for need in drafts, but it will be hard not to think about taking a wide receiver in the first round," Hensley wrote. "Baltimore hasn't replaced Anquan Boldin, who was traded to San Francisco, and there aren't proven options at receiver outside of Torrey Smith. Patton is a borderline first-round talent. He doesn't have elite size (6 feet, 202 pounds) or speed. But he has great hands and catches the ball in traffic. Patton has been compared to Reggie Wayne.

"In the second round, I'm not sure if the Ravens will use that pick on a center. They drafted Matt Birk's replacement last year when they selected Gino Gradkowski in the fourth round."

Quick Hits

  • Oh my goodness … adorable … @Artj97: My son just met @raylewis daughter at the airport. And told me that's his new girlfriend & he loves her. Lol #Kids [Twitter]
  • @Ravens: #Ravens first day of practice is April 22. OTAs are May 28-30, June 4-6, June 11-14. Mandatory minicamp is June 11-13. #OffseasonSchedule
  • The Ravens saw an “irrational” market in the first few days of free agency, which allowed them to sit tight and find value after the frenzy. []
  • "I'm really excited about Jimmy [Smith, CB]," Pees said. "I know there's been some things written and said and I'm not in agreement with very many of them. I think this guy is going to be an outstanding player. He's got the size, the speed, the range, he's an intelligent football player. … I think those [Super Bowl] plays right there are gonna go an awful long way for him. I think he's a tremendous talent. I've seen a difference in him already here in the offseason. This guy has been around here all winter." [105.7 The Fan]
  • Speaking of Smith, 49ers wide receiver Michael Crabtree said the Ravens cornerback hit him so hard on the third-down play during the game's final goal-line stand, that Crabtree momentarily couldn’t see before the fateful fourth-down pass. []
  • Here's a look at the Ravens' top remaining offseason priorities. [The Carroll County Times]
  • Happy birthday to the Ravens! [Instagram]
  • Coach Harbs gave the Indiana Hoosiers a pep talkbefore their loss in the Sweet 16 last night. [Yahoo!]
  • @sportguyRSR: #Ravens fans checkout @ChrisCanty99 and all he does for the community. [Twitter/YouTube]
  • @MichaelOher: Just ran into my new teammate @EKD92 [Dumervil] ...I was extremely excited to see him! [Twitter]
  • Remember the little strict ballet girls from last week's episode of "Dancing with the Stars?" Looks like Jacoby finally got them to loosen up a bit … Harlem Shake style.
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