Smith, Webb Already Start A Lil' Trash Talk
The Steve Smith, Sr. competitive fire we've heard so much about is already starting to show itself here in Baltimore.
And it's only April. And it's only charity softball.
But it doesn't matter what time of year it is, or what the stakes are, Smith is always going to bring it.
After The Baltimore Sun's Aaron Wilson tweeted a teaser to his story about cornerback Lardarius Webb looking forward to practice every day against the 14-year veteran, Smith started up a little trash talk with Webb.
"@RavensInsider @LWebb21 we will both learn from each other!" Smith tweeted. "I knw @LWebb21 going to learn how to take this L June 1 softball Game O vs D."
Smith is of course referring to Webb's charity softball game at M&T Bank Stadium. And Webb wasn't going to let his new teammate's comment slide.
"Nt this year #ringer," wrote Webb.
The friendly back-and-forth immediately got fans excited about the two players pushing each other in practice and making the other better. That passion can only raise the level of competition and play for all Ravens.
On a serious note, Webb knows he will go up against a five-time Pro Bowler daily at the Under Armour Performance Center and is genuinely excited about the matchup.
"He's a big-time player," Webb told reporters during a press conference prior to throwing out the Orioles' ceremonial first pitch Friday. "I told Harbs, he plays like a Raven, physical, hate to lose, that toughness. He fits in our locker room. That's going to be big for our offense and defense.
"With me going against him every day, with how he practices and the way he plays, his attitude about the game, is going to make me 100 percent better. I love the matchup. I can't wait to meet him. It's going to be big."
The sixth-year cornerback is also looking forward to a fresh start in 2014.
It took him a majority of last season to regain confidence in his surgically-repaired torn ACL, and he* *finally felt like himself by the end of it. He also dealt with a sports hernia.
Webb notched 74 tackles, 22 pass deflections and two interceptions, but he wasn't satisfied.
"It was just good, not great," Webb told Wilson of his 2013 season. "I went through my second ACL and I was trying to get my legs back under me and get my knees right and get back to the flow and speed of the game. I did okay, not as good as I wanted to. I'm excited about this year. I'm feeling good. I'm into this offseason healthy."
Not having to worry about offseason surgery or rehab, Webb anticipates playing with more confidence in his leg this* *time around.
"By the end of the year, my knee was feeling a lot better," he said. "I was able to run and cut and do everything I wanted to do. I had so much more confidence and trust in the knee. I'm feeling great now."
And for those interested in seeing Webb's, pitching skillz, he posted a video of the pitch at the Orioles vs. Blue Jays game Friday. He took it easy, throwing a high soft floater.
"First pitch at the Orioles vs Blue Jays game.#itwasaball #AtLeastItDidntSkip," he wrote with the Instagram video below (mobile users tap "View in Browser" at the top of the page to watch).
Charges Dismissed, But Could Thompson Be Suspended?
Ravens wide receiver Deonte Thompson received good news this weekend when Florida prosecutors dropped felony and misdemeanor drug charges against him.
The case was dismissed because another person with Thompson accepted responsibility for the drugs, according to Thompson's lawyer, per The Sun.
While Thompson's legal situation has cleared up, he could still face league punishment.
"Of course, that may not be the end of Thompson's issues," wrote ProFootballTalk.com's Mike Florio. "Behavior can result in a player landing in the NFL's substance-abuse program. The specific behavior of having a duffel bag with someone else's marijuana in it could be enough to trigger a full evaluation under the substance-abuse policy and periodic, unannounced testing of Thompson.
"Meanwhile, given that the standard NFL penalty for marijuana possession is a one-game suspension and in light of the fact that Thompson will make $33,529.41 per game in 2014, Thompson should at least buy the other two guys their own duffel bags."
Ravens Will Still Face Mack Twice A Year
The Jacksonville Jaguars tried to lure Pro Bowl center Alex Mack away from the Cleveland Browns, but failed.
After the Browns put the transition tag on Mack, the Jaguars made him an offer, which the Browns quickly matched to retain the center in Cleveland.
With a reported five-year, $42 million deal, Mack has come out of this with a very good contract. To be specific, it's the best among all NFL centers.
And it's even more than what the Ravens are reportedly paying their left tackle Eugene Monroe at five years for $37.5 million. Left tackles are traditionally paid well above centers.
"He becomes the league's highest-paid center, which the Browns accept," wrote ESPN's Pat McManamon. "And they accept it because he's been a good player for them for years, and because it continues a trend of keeping or adding players so the Browns can address the draft with the mindset of taking the best available player."
Now, the Ravens will have to continue to deal with facing Mack twice a year, after they reportedly were interested in signing him prior to the transition tag.
Baltimore Bounce-Back Still Contingent On O-line Changes
MMQB.com's Greg A. Bedard says it's "hard not to be impressed" with the Ravens' offseason so far.
Re-signing Dennis Pitta, Monroe and receiver Jacoby Jones was the start. Then they added cap casualties in Smith (Panthers), tight end Owen Daniels and running back Justin Forsett (Jaguars),* *and traded for center Jeremy Zuttah from the Buccaneers. And let's not forget Gary Kubiak was hired as the offensive coordinator.
While the Ravens are in position for a bounce-back season, Bedard says none of it will matter if the offensive line doesn't play better in 2014.
"Certainly the arrow is pointing up on the Ravens' offense after what has transpired this offseason. But here's the reality with the 2014 Ravens: all these bright, shiny additions won't mean anything unless the offensive line gets its act together under line coach Juan Castillo. The unit was a borderline disaster last season. As the Ravens' 'run game' coordinator in '13, Castillo's portion of the unit had the least productive running game in franchise history. Now he gets the title of directing the entire line, which was basically his responsibility last season.
"The problems on the Ravens' offensive line weren't created by Castillo. He didn't pick Gino Gradkowski to be overwhelmed trying to succeed the retired Matt Birk. It wasn't Castillo's fault that second-year left guard Kelechi Osemele took a big step back because of a back injury, and running backs Ray Rice and Bernard Pierce were beaten up. Or that tackles Bryant McKinnie and Michael Oher were declining players. But at the end of the day, like all positional coaches, Castillo was in charge of his unit, and it failed miserably. Now given a second chance to show that he's still the top-notch line coach he was with the Eagles, Castillo now only has the Ravens' ultimate success landing on his shoulders this season."
- The Ravens have had the 11th-most roster turnover since 2011. Since the final game of that season, only 18 players remain on the roster today. [NFL.com]
- "In this year's talent-rich draft, an elite talent that can play right away will almost surely drop to the Ravens at 17th overall," wrote Peter Schrager. "I'd look at three players – Louisville safety Calvin Pryor, Michigan offensive tackle Taylor Lewan and Stanford guard David Yankey – as three possibilities in the first round." [FoxSports.com]
- Expect second-year receiver Marlon Brown to avoid the sophomore slump. [CSNBaltimore.com]
- Can Ravens land Alabama safety Ha Ha Clinton-Dix? "The Ravens would be extremely interested in Ha Ha Clinton-Dix because he's the clear-cut No. 1 safety in the draft," wrote Jamison Hensley. "There's just no guarantee that he lasts to the Ravens at No. 17. In fact, the odds are against him slipping that far. The latest buzz has the St. Louis Rams taking Clinton-Dix at No. 13. If the Rams pass on him, I don't see him getting past safety-needy teams like the Chicago Bears (No. 14) and the Dallas Cowboys (No. 16). This is why so many draft experts are predicting the Ravens will take Northern Illinois' Jimmie Ward in the second round." [ESPN]
- @ElamVsElo: #QFest2014 Bball game was live, Preciate the invite @AnquanBoldin ..! [Twitter]
- I've been there, Torrey … @TorreySmithWR: RT @MamaTiger17: @TorreySmithWR has little Torrey peed on you yet. Little boys are good for that ;)...yup and pooped [Twitter]
- Terrell Suggs hooks up with former Ravens Art Jones and Ed Dickson … @untouchablejay4 [Terrell Suggs]: Even tho Az is kinda poppin right now,..... There's just no place like L.A! @Artj97 [Twitter]