Russell's Arm As Strong, Accurate As Flacco's?
JaMarcus Russell is attempting one of the NFL's all-time comeback stories, and he got his first crack at it with what was considered an overall "solid" workout with the Chicago Bears Friday.
One asset Russell has going for him is his incredible arm, and a source told ESPN that the trimmer Russell showed off that "big arm" at the Bears workout.
But just how good could the former No. 1-overall pick be at this point? He hasn't taken an NFL snap since 2009.
Brian Martin, founder of the TEST Football Academy where Russell has been working out and shed 50 pounds, says the 27-year-old quarterback's arm matches up with Joe Flacco's.
"We've worked with over a dozen NFL quarterbacks, and the strongest arm I've ever seen is Joe Flacco's," Martin told FOXSports.com's Peter Schrager. "JaMarcus' arm right now is as strong and as accurate as Joe's."
That's a big statement considering the wide consensus is that Flacco has one of the biggest cannons in the league. In fact, ESPN's Ron Jaworski declared that Ravens quarterback has the strongest. Our own Ryan Mink discovered that Flacco threw the ball at a top speed of 58 mph while at the 2008 scouting combine.
As for Flacco's accuracy, safety Michael Huff, who has to defend against Flacco every day in practice, said he was surprised to learn how Flacco can squeeze the ball in just the right place even against great coverage (more on that later today from Mink).
So what do outsiders think of Martin's comparisons?
It looks like at least half of his claim is legit.
"Martin obviously has a vested interest in seeing Russell earn another shot in the NFL," wrote NFL.com's Chris Wesseling. "Even if the accuracy comparison is laughable, it's credible that Russell still boasts an arm that would rival any quarterback in the league. This is a player who was ranked first on the Baltimore Ravens' 2007 draft board, ahead of Calvin Johnson."
The ESPN source that gave Russell props for his big arm at his Bears workout wasn't all that impressed with his precision, showing "some rust with the timing and accuracy of throws."
The Ravens have been linked to Russell's attempted comeback. Several outlets reported Baltimore is interested in seeing the quarterback up close, and Rapoport said he would be "surprised" if the team didn't have him in for a workout. Other outlets reported the Ravens are not interested.
Russell is reportedly looking to become a backup on an NFL team, preferably where he can learn from a respected veteran.
"[Baltimore] could be perfect," CBSSports.com's Mike Freeman wrote last week. "Solid locker room with good offensive coaches and could learn from a great professional, Joe Flacco."
Ravens' Rookie Eye Catcher
One of the questions we get most from fans is, "Who was impressive at the Ravens Organized Team Activities (OTAs)?"
While media didn't have much of a look at the practices, there is one player that has consistently been mentioned, and ESPN's Jamison Hensley named him as his "rookie eye catcher."
The player is third-round defensive lineman Brandon Williams.
"When a player comes from Division II, the natural assumption is he'll need a season to develop. That's not the case with Williams," wrote Hensley.
"The third-round pick out of Missouri Southern State looks like he will make an immediate impact based on what he has shown during offseason workouts. Of course, the true test for any lineman will come when teams put on the pads for training camp."
Assistant General Manager Eric DeCosta said Williams is even better than the Ravens thought now that they have seen him workout everyday with NFL players. The rookie is expected to compete with Terrance Cody for a starting gig.
Challenge From Harbs Changed Webb
Without leaders Ray Lewis and Ed Reed, CBSSports.com's Jason La Canfora says that the Ravens' new era defense belongs to .
Webb is on the road to recovery from an ACL injury and everyone, including Dean Pees, is excitedly awaiting his return. The defense isn't just missing Webb's talent (which has been Pro Bowl worthy), but it misses his leadership too.
"He's been a leader of our group, and obviously Ed Reed has been holding that general spot for us," said corner Jimmy Smith. "He's pretty much our oldest corner now. Collectively, we're going to gel together with him in that leadership role."
But it hasn't always been that way. La Canfora said that Webb evolved as a leader after Head Coach John Harbaugh called him out in front of the entire team during Webb's first rookie training camp.
"John really challenged him in his first camp," former Ravens special teams ace Brendon Ayanbadejo told La Canfora. "Webby was struggling some and John got on him. All of a sudden we heard this voice and it was, 'I'm not sure you have what it takes to be a Raven! Are you sure we didn't waste a draft pick on you?'
"He challenged him in front of everybody, and I really think that was the turning point for Webby. That was a spark for him. Some guys respond to that and from that point on, man, he was on his way. And that's kind of the Harbaugh way – he can either massage it out of you or go right after you, and this brought the best out of Webby."
Coming from small-school Nicholls State, Webb looked a "bit overwhelmed at times" as a rookie on a defense loaded with stars, wrote La Canfora, and had a hard time staying on the field as he battled hamstring injuries.
"Carrying the heaviest of expectations, the transition was, not surprisingly, a little rocky," La Canfora wrote.
Webb used the challenge from his head coach as motivation, and said he wanted to prove to the Ravens ever since that he was worthy of the third-round pick they used to bring him to Baltimore.
The young corner obviously proved his worth to the team as Ravens brass signed him to a reported six-year, $50 million deal in April 2012. And he's made a believer out of Harbaugh.
"For Webby to have been in the secondary with Ed and others, and be in the same defensive room with Ray all these years, he's learned some things, and he's a natural leader anyway," Harbaugh said. "He's our best blitzer out of the secondary, our best outside cover guy, our best slot guy. He's a complete corner, no doubt about it."
- The Ravens won't have to account for Browns receiver Josh Gordon in their second game of the season. The second-year player was suspended for two games and fined four game checks for violating the NFL's substance abuse policy. [ESPN Cleveland]
- Pete Prisco's underrated () and overrated(Michael Oher) players on the Ravens roster.
- Ayanbadejo will serve as the guest editor of the newspaper, Washington Blade, and will contribute to its August 30th special-edition issue. [WBAL]
- My favorite pic of the night …. @ravens: @RayRice27's reaction upon getting his Super Bowl XLVII ring. [Twitter]
- @torreysmithwr: Everyone in here is still sleep...I'm staring at my ring! #blessed Wear my Superbowl ring even when I'm in the house! (Drizzy Voice) [Twitter]
- @pboulware: Hats off 2 Steve Bisciotti 4 honoring"Ring of Honors" players @ Super Bowl ring ceremony. Classiest owner in the #NFL @Ravens [Twitter]
- @Ravens Tennis star Rafael Nadal's racquet weighs LESS than the #RavensSuper Bowl ring (380 grams).#FrenchOpen #RingsDontLie@rolandgarros [Twitter]
- Steve Bisciotti anointed Flacco as the Ravens' new leader, even though he knows not everyone likes Flacco's cool demeanor. Doc Walker said it would be terrible if Flacco acted the way some outsiders want, and fake a personality that isn't true to himself. [CSNBaltimore.com]