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Late For Work 6/5: Reports: Ravens Interested In QB JaMarcus Russell, LB Daryl Smith


Ravens Reportedly Interested In QB JaMarcus Russell

The Ravens are reportedly interested in former No. 1 overall draft pick JaMarcus Russell. They're also apparently not interested in the quarterback.

I'll explain.

Russell is attempting to resurrect his career after a three-year absence, and is reportedly receiving interest from three teams now that he has shed about 50 pounds and stands in at a more respectable 265 pounds.

One of those interested teams is the Ravens, according to USA Today's Mike Garafolo, NFL Network's Ian Rapoport and CBS Sports' Mike Freeman. However, reported there is no interest from Baltimore. Freeman said it's tepid. So it's up in the air.

The Bears are also interested, and have invited Russell in for a workout. The third interested team is still a mystery at this point.

The Ravens may also invite Russell for a visit, says Garafolo. Rapoport would be surprised if they didn't.

"The person, who spoke on condition of anonymity because the team hasn't confirmed the workout, said the Baltimore Ravens have also shown a significant amount of interest and could soon work out Russell if he doesn't sign with the Bears as Jay Cutler's backup," Garafolo wrote.

Russell has been working out in California with former NFL quarterback Jeff Garcia to begin his revival. Russell's career tanked after three years in Oakland, and was declared by some analysts to be the biggest draft bust in NFL history.  He frequently battled weight issues, and was distracted by personal issues and deaths in his family.

However, NFL teams have kept an eye on the 27-year-old quarterback because he still has a huge arm and booming potential. Ravens Assistant General Manager Eric DeCosta said before the draft that he believes Russell will get another shot in the NFL and could have a bright future because he "throws the ball better than most quarterbacks." DeCosta did not say the Ravens would give him that shot.

If Russell were to wind up in Baltimore, he would clearly have to restart his career as a backup. Joe Flacco just signed a $120.6 million deal and was named the Super Bowl MVP.

That would be fine with Russell, who Rapoport said would like to sit on the bench his first year back and learn behind a respected veteran.

The Ravens like Tyrod Taylor as their backup, but Russell may not even be the primary backup in his next gig. Freeman believes a team could only give Russell a chance with a roster spot to let him develop for a year and see if he's really changed.

"All of this is still theoretical, of course," Freeman wrote. "Russell has to perform in these tryouts and he has to convince teams that he's no longer the tub of goo he once was. But all indications continue to point to the serious possibility that Russell will be on a roster this summer as a backup.

"[Baltimore] could be perfect. Solid locker room with good offensive coaches and could learn from a great professional, Joe Flacco."

Report: Ravens, LB Daryl Smith Have Mutual Interest

While the link to Russell may be flimsy, the Ravens' interest in veteran free agent linebacker Daryl Smith is reportedly much stronger.

Smith is "firmly on the Ravens' radar" and the two sides are having ongoing dialogue, according to Aaron Wilson of The Baltimore Sun.

No deal has been struck, but the attraction appears to be mutual. The Ravens are thin at inside linebacker and would like to add veteran experience. Smith reportedly would like to join the world champs.

"If a contract is worked out, the Ravens aren't expected to make a major financial investment," Wilson wrote.

A 10-year veteran, Smith is the Jacksonville Jaguars' all-time leading tackler. He only played in two games last year because of a groin injury, but started all 16 games the previous three years and notched about 100 tackles in each.

"He has a reputation as a sound tackler with good range and leadership skills," Wilson wrote.

The Ravens' only primary experienced linebacker is , who is still recovering from a spinal cord contusion. The team could use the experience of the 31-year-old Smith who has recorded 678 career tackles, 21 1/2 sacks, six interceptions and nine forced fumbles.

But before a deal can be stuck, Wilson says the Ravens need to evaluate Smith's health to determine whether he has recovered from his injury.

Cary Williams 'BEYOND Entertaining.' Ravens Smart Not To Re-Sign?

Former Raven and current Eagles cornerback Cary Williams addressed reporters yesterday about the criticism he's received for not attending voluntary workouts in Philadelphia.

Apparently, his comments were … interesting.

"Cary Williams was BEYOND entertaining," tweeted NFL Network's Albert Breer.

Williams has missed workouts for a wedding, honeymoon, dental work, his daughter's dance recital and home construction.

Some of his comments from Tuesday are buzzing, including quotes like, "Fans, I love you all, but please," and "I don't want to sound like it's disrespect. I love my job, but I just had to make sure my sconces, my wood was picked out, my fireplace ... it was a whole bunch of stuff that was going on."

That said, Williams is skipping the Ravens' White House visit today in order to attend the Eagles' mandatory camp. 

When you combine Williams' excuses, absences and "average" play, Yahoo! Sports' Kyle Casey says the Ravens were wise not to re-sign their starter of the last two years.

Instead, they let Williams walk and he inked a three-year deal reportedly worth up to $17 million.

"That contract was certainly in the Ravens' price range, and they easily could have brought Williams back if they truly desired," Casey wrote. "The bottom line: the Ravens didn't want Williams back, which appears to be the right move for many reasons."

Ravens Top Offseason Grades List

People are starting to see the wisdom behind what looked like madness when General Manager Ozzie Newsome parted ways with so many Super Bowl starters this offseason.

ESPN's Matt Williamson listed the Ravens atop his 2013 AFC offseason grades list, giving Baltimore one of only two A-minus marks (Kansas City got the other). Nobody got an A.

"The Super Bowl champions are going to be much better this upcoming season -- on defense that is," Williams wrote.

"While I think the offensive line should be quite good if Bryant McKinnie stays motivated, the wide receiver position looks like a gaping hole in Baltimore's offense. Losing the leadership of players like Lewis, Reed and Birk can't be quantified, but this roster has improved overall in their absence. Ozzie Newsome & Co. once again have done a terrific job."

Why Is Jim Still Rated Above John?

In an NFL head coach power ranking,'s Elliot Harrison listed the Ravens' John Harbaugh at No. 3, one spot after his brother Jim, whose 49ers lost to Baltimore in Super Bowl XLVII.

Jim also lost to John in a Thanksgiving matchup in 2011, giving him an 0-2 record against his older brother. So what's Harrison's reasoning for ranking Jim ahead of John?

"Jim has a slight edge over John, if only because of his ability to get the best out of players who didn't perform under the old regime," Harrison said. "That said, right now the Harbaughs are 2a and 2b. Jim Harbaugh earned this spot after proving that his maiden voyage in 2011 was not some big fantasy. Now he's dealing with big expectations, as the 49ers are once again considered favorites in the NFC. Winning 24 regular-season games and making a Super Bowl in his first two seasons as head coach is truly special, especially considering where the franchise was before he arrived."

Patriots Head Coach Bill Belichick is ranked as No. 1. 

Quick Hits

  • @ravensinsider: Following players didn't get June 1 tender from Ravens as UFAs: Ma'ake Kemoeatu, Billy Bajema, Sean Considine, Ricky Brown and Ryan McBean [Twitter]
  • @ravensinsider: Texans are working out former Ravens tight end Billy Bajematoday, according to a league source. [Twitter]
  • @clarencehilljr [Cowboys beat writer]: The Cowboys -- make that, Jerry Jones -- reveal 'The Decision:' Callahan will call the plays … Jerry Jones and Jason Garrett disagree on revealing Bill Callahan as new play caller but not the decision. [Twitter]
  • @rosstuckernfl [NBC Sports Network]: Jason Garrett chose Jerry Jones over Steve Bisciotti & Arthur Blank. Nobody to blame but himself. [Twitter]
  • @torreysmithwr:  Having a much do y'all think this team signed ball is worth??...IM NOT GETTING RID OF THIS BTW...just a debate [Instagram]
  • Baltimore Ravens preserving identity amid transitional offseason []
  • Here's a good interview with McClain, who shows plenty of enthusiasm about returning from his spinal cord contusion by Week 1. "It can build you or break you, I choose to be built," he says. []
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