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Late For Work 4/12: Steve Smith Taking Autistic Teenager To Prom


Ravens wide receiver Steve Smith Sr. just made Aubrey Bridges' year.

Smith surprised the autistic teenager last week by asking her to the senior prom at North Gaston High School in Charlotte, North Carolina. "Promposals" (as I remember them) can be really awkward, but Smith had a smooth and direct delivery in the video below. 

Bridges, whose ability to speak is impaired, responded with a smile and a computer-assisted response: "Yes, Steve. I want to be your prom date."

Bridges, 18, has a type of autism called Vein of Galen Malformation, which causes her to have auditory process delays and speech apraxia. She uses an iPad and text messaging to help with most of her communication.

The Steve Smith Family Foundation teamed up with a nonprofit foundation, Dream On 3, to make Bridges' wish come true. Dream On 3 helps connect professional sports athletes and children with disabilities, illnesses or life-altering conditions to create memorable experiences of joy and magic.

With Smith by her side, I can guarantee a memorable experience.

Smith has never been shy about busting out a few moves on the football field (see below), and I can only imagine what he'll have in store for the dance floor. And don't worry if you run out of things to talk about, Aubrey. Steve is a chatter box.

Bridges is a big fan of the Carolina Panthers, who drafted Smith in 2001 and where he played for 13 years before joining the Ravens.

"I am excited because Steve Smith Sr. asked me to prom," Bridges told the Gaston Gazette. "I am so happy that I danced. Brandon and Elizabeth Lindsey, my friends at Dream on 3, are making my dream come true."

PFF's Three-Round Mock Draft Has Ravens Taking Two Offensive Linemen With Top Picks

I can already tell you that Ravens fans wouldn't be jumping up and down if Baltimore drafted a left tackle with its sixth-overall pick.

Sure, they would get over it with the idea that Joe Flacco's blindside could be well-protected for the next decade. But John Eisenberg astutely wrote last week that there would be a collective "Big Sigh" in Ravenstown because most people want a defensive playmaker. An offensive lineman just isn't exciting.

So, John, what would the fans' reaction be if the Ravens selected offensive linemen with their first two picks?

That's exactly the scenario Pro Football Focus (PFF) has playing out in its three-round mock draft.

No. 6: Laremy Tunsil, OT, Ole Miss
No. 36: Nick Martin, C, Notre Dame

No. 70: Kyler Fackrell, OLB, Utah State

I got to tell ya, the Ravens offensive line would be seriously hardcore plugging those guys in with Marshal Yanda and company. But it would leave some bigger perceived needs unaddressed, including cornerback and middle linebacker. Fackrell can get after the quarterback, but you couldn't expect him to be an impact player from Day 1.

How Browns Can (Try To) Stop Marshal Yanda

PFF is running another series that discusses how one NFL player has dominated a divisional opponent, and then pairs that player with a draft prospect best equipped to stop him.

Josh Liskiewitz identified Yanda as the person who has dominated the AFC North rival Cleveland Browns (as he does every other rivalry) and Liskiewitz sees BYU defensive end Bronson Kaufusi as the answer.

"Marshal Yanda of the Ravens has been the best guard in the NFL over the past five years, and no team knows this better than the Cleveland Browns," wrote Liskiewitz. "Since 2009, Yanda has started and finished 13 games against the Browns, posting a ridiculous overall cumulative grade of 36.6. 

"His bad games are obviously few and far between, but a deeper look into one-on-one matchups against him over the past three years unveils one apparent weakness — the defenders that have had success against him have generally been able to beat him with inside moves. Analysis and film study of the top 3-4 defensive end prospects shows that BYU's Bronson Kaufusi could be the perfect target for the Browns."

Hey, as a BYU alum, I loooooove Kaufusi and think he would be a solid addition to any NFL defensive line. But I'm not sure anyone can stop Yanda. You can only hope to contain him.

Browns WR Josh Gordon Fails Another Drug Test

The Ravens may not have to gameplan for uber-talented Browns wide receiver Josh Gordon again this year.

At least, that's what analysts are pondering after Gordon failed an NFL-administered drug test last month while awaiting Commissioner Rodger Goodell's decision on his request for reinstatement, according to Fox Sports.

Gordon reportedly tested positive for marijuana and a diluted sample. He had already been serving an indefinite suspension since February of 2015 for violating the NFL Policy and Program for Substances of Abuse.

"This development is a red flag for Gordon but it doesn't necessarily mean he will miss yet another season," wrote Mike Garafolo. "He applied for reinstatement in February and, if all went well, could have been reinstated within 60 days. However, the league has said Goodell wasn't required to make a decision within that timeframe and it's clear now the positive test has at least given him and the experts who evaluate Gordon's case pause."

Call me if u need a real story worth writing..  — Flash Gordon (@JOSH_GORDONXII) April 11, 2016

Quick Hits

FYI the @Go_Hero event w/ Joe has been rescheduled to April 24th! An Evening at Ruth's Chris with Joe Flacco — Joe Flacco (@TeamFlacco) April 11, 2016

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