Will Ravens Still Add Pass Rusher To Roster?
Remember when Owner Steve Bisciotti said he didn't want to just have two pass rushers? He said he wanted three, and he wanted it badly enough that he would've gladly spent a first rounder on one in the draft last month.
"You can't go with two anymore," Bisciotti told PSL ticket owners in April. "These offenses are too good at pushing [outside rushers] wide."
So do the Ravens have a* *legitimate third pass rusher behind Pro Bowlers Terrell Suggs and Elvis Dumervil? And if not, are there any solid free agents available that could bolster the group?
"There are some notable names still out on free-agent market, but they are older than 32 and all past their prime," wrote ESPN's Jamison Hensley. "There's a reason why Dwight Freeney, John Abraham and Osi Umenyiora are still available. This isn't to say they couldn't help as situational pass rushers, and the Ravens might have interest in one of them down the road."
Note the operative phrase: "down the road."
The Ravens didn't use a first-round selection on an edge rusher for Bisciotti, but they did get Za'Darius Smith in the fourth round, and he was dubbed one of the Ravens' best value picks by College Football Focus. Smith is considered Pernell McPhee 2.0, but it's unclear whether he will be ready to make an impact by the time the season starts.
Competing with Smith is four-year veteran Courtney Upshaw. Entering the final year of his rookie contract, Upshaw is aiming for more sacks in 2015 after notching just three in his first three seasons. The numbers are lower because he's been mostly tasked to seal the edge* *rather than hunt the quarterback, but that role may change slightly this year.
"Getting to the quarterback only adds to his value as he moves forward," General Manager Ozzie Newsome recently said.
Smith and Upshaw will both get their chances as pass rushers, and the Ravens will likely evaluate the pair before heading to the street to add more to the mix.
"Right now, the Ravens want to see what their young pass-rushers can do," Hensley wrote.
"The Ravens likely would have interest in one of those veteran pass rushers if there's an injury to Terrell Suggs or Elvis Dumervil or if there is a concern late in training camp that they don't have a third pass rusher to fill the void left by Pernell McPhee.
"Freeney, who was drafted one year before Suggs, showed he still had something left last season with the Chargers."
Don't Write Off Campanaro Just Yet
We get another reminder that the NFL is a what-have-you-done-for-me-lately league.
Some Ravens fans are already writing off second-year wide receiver Michael Campanaro after he suffered a quad muscle tear on the first day of Organized Team Activities. This follows injuries that plagued his rookie year and his collegiate career at Wake Forest.
Campanaro will be out until training camp, which gives his competition at wide receiver and returner a chance to win the jobs over him.
"All this leads to the possibility that Michael Campanaro will not have much of a chance to stay a Raven," wrote blogger Yitzi Weiss from Baltimore Beatdown. "Barring us being able to put him on injured reserve if he misses the roster, this preseason might be the last time we see him in purple and black."
The Baltimore Sun's Jeff Zrebiec isn't ready to go there yet, however.
While Zrebiec noted that the Ravens, like all 32 teams, have a low tolerance for players who can't stay healthy, Campanaro still has a chance to prove himself.
"Campanaro hasn't been able to, but let's not bury him just yet," Zrebiec wrote. "Ravens head coach John Harbaugh said that Campanaro has a slight tear in his quadriceps and could be available for training camp. If true, Campanaro has plenty of time to secure a role on offense. What Campanaro probably can't afford is to miss a chunk of training camp with injuries."
Forsett Has Chance To Join Exclusive Running Back Club
Running back Justin Forsett is on a mission to prove that he is not a one-hit wonder.
He came out of nowhere to gain 1,266 rushing yards last season, and he wants to do even more in 2015. If he can break the 1,400-yard milestone, he will join an exclusive running back club. (We'll have more from Forsett about expectations for this year in a story coming later today).
Kevin Seifert of ESPN pointed out only eight NFL running backs have ever surpassed 1,400 yards in a season after turning 30 years old. The last back to do it was New York Jets' Thomas Jones in 2009 at the age of 31.
Forsett turns 30 in October, making him one of only four starting backs in the league who have a chance to join the club, including the Bears' Matt Forte, Colts' Frank Gore and Giants' Rashad Jennings.
"The Ravens believe in Forsett, and proved it by signing him to a three-year, $9 million deal this offseason. But they also drafted Buck Allen, a promising running back from USC who has the potential to be Forsett's eventual successor as the starter," wrote CSNBaltimore.com's Clifton Brown.
"Forsett keeps himself in great shape, and the Ravens offensive line returns intact, giving him another chance to have a stellar season. However, for Forsett and all NFL running backs, eluding Father Time after 30 can be more difficult than eluding would-be tacklers."
|Top 10 Rushing Seasons By A 30+ RB|
Crockett To Be Week 1 Starter At Tight End?
Don't be surprised if second-year tight end Crockett Gillmore ends up being the starting tight end when the Ravens kick off their season in Denver.
With all the chatter about Dennis Pitta's potential return and the excitement surrounding second-round pick Maxx Williams, it might be the self-proclaimed blocking tight end who is catching passes from Flacco Week 1.
"If I'm making an educated guess right now, the starting tight end will be Gillmore early in the season because he's more experienced," wrote Hensley.
Hensley gave the prediction with the disclaimer that there are more than 100 days before the season opener, but he bases his prediction off the thinking that Pitta won't be ready to go and Williams will need a bit more time to develop in his rookie season.
"Williams should still end up with the most catches for Ravens tight ends this season," Hensley wrote.
If you're nervous about Gillmore catching passes rather than blocking defenders, turns out he may be a better receiver than he was letting on. He told our own Ryan Mink that he gave himself the blocking title last year because he knew that was the best way to contribute when Pitta and Owen Daniels were ahead of him on the depth chart.
"I think I gave myself that role," Gillmore said. "I knew that's what was going to get me on the field the fastest."
Ray Lewis' Push-Up Challenge To Steve Harvey
Former Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis was a guest on NBC's talk show "Steve Harvey," giving tips on how to get in shape and stay healthy.
Lewis said he grew up with domestic violence in his home as a child, and at a very young age, he decided to do something about it.
"I literally had to fight every week to get men to stop hitting my mom," Lewis told Harvey. "At 9 years old, I got fed up. I made up my mind to say, 'You know what? I will start to train my body physically to make sure men never touch my mom again.'"
Lewis said he was poor, so he had to be creative with his exercise regimen. He would shuffle through a deck of cards, and would do the same amount of push-ups as the number on the card he'd pull, or 10 for a jack, queen or king, 25 for an ace and 50 for a joker. After Lewis went through all 52 cards, he re-shuffled the deck and started the process over, this time for sit-ups.
He challenged Harvey, a comedian, to do the push-up challenge, and things got pretty funny from there. Watch below.
- "By no means do I think cornerback Cassius Vaughn, who the Ravens signed last week, is a lock to make the regular season roster," wrote Zrebiec. "However, his addition certainly should get the attention of holdover , among others. Jackson, the former fifth-round NFL draft pick, has struggled to stay on the field because of injuries and suspensions. His return skills work in his favor, but Jackson probably can't afford an inconsistent, injury-marred training camp." [The Baltimore Sun]
- "This is a big year for because I don't know how much longer the Ravens can wait for him to turn the corner," wrote Hensley. "If he makes an impact, it's going to be on special teams unless there is an injury. I thought Brown showed promise as a rookie when he played in passing situations and he put pressure on the quarterback. But the Ravens' inside linebackers, C.J. Mosley and Daryl Smith, are every-down players and it's hard to justify taking either one off the field. I was surprised that Brown didn't practice well enough to get on special teams. He certainly has speed. But he watched Albert McClellan and undrafted rookie Zachary Orr get all the snaps. Brown was only active for four of 16 regular-season games before going on injured reserve in the playoffs. The Ravens have watched other draft picks emerge in their third and fourth seasons, like Jimmy Smith and Paul Kruger. They're hoping Brown turns into one of those success stories." [ESPN]