Five Can't-Miss News, Notes & Opinions During Ravens' Break
Late for Work is back after a week-long break! Let's catch up on some of the news, notes and opinions while we were away. I won't get to everything today, but will hit the highlights and try to catch up on the rest throughout the week.
Steve Smith Knocks NFL Network's Top 100 Players List
Well, now look what you've done NFL Network.
You've gone and poked the sleeping bear that is Steve Smith Sr.
Smith didn't make the NFL's Top 100 Players list from the 2015 season, which didn't make the 37-year-old veteran very happy, even if he did miss the final eight games of the season with an Achilles tear. The Network asked running back Justin Forsett if he thought Smith could make it next year and Smith proceeded to trash the rankings … then made a suggestion.
"Let's come up with a list of activities that are safer alternatives to doing something that makes Steve Smith Sr. angry," wrote CSNMidAtlantic.com's Peter Hailey.
"Going up to Kobe Bryant and saying to his face that he should've retired in 2013 instead of turning into a less fun, more trigger happy Nick Young? Definitely smarter than aggravating No. 89. Hell, even telling a room full of Bostonians that Good Will Hunting is overrated and runs 25 minutes too long is preferable to getting on the wide receiver's bad side."
Just to clear some things up, there weren't any players that missed all of last season and still made the Top 100. But, as The Baltimore Sun pointed out, quarterback Peyton Manning was ranked No. 50 in 2011 despite missing that entire season with a neck injury.
And, per The Sun, there were players that missed just about as much time as Smith in 2015 and still made the list. Steelers running back Le'Veon Bell played in just six games and was still ranked No. 41. Cowboys wide receiver Dez Bryant missed seven games and made the list at No. 51.
In the end, it's all just fuel for Smith once he returns to the field.
"[T]he guys who make [the list] end up there because they've been chosen by their peers. Smith Sr. knows how that process works," wrote Hailey. "So, for those who left him off, they can now proudly say they've qualified for the Steve Smith Sr. Wants to Run Me Over or Viciously Stiff Arm Me on His Way to the End Zone List. It's not a great list to be on."
Benjamin Watson Reacts To Recent Shootings
In the wake of the tragic shootings around the nation last week, Ravens tight end and author of "Under Our Skin," Ben Watson, appeared on the NFL Network to discuss his reaction to the tragedies and the impact racism has on the country.
Watson has been a respected voice in the NFL community after past national unrest, including in Ferguson and Baltimore. He continued his message of seeking understanding about complex issues through open and civil dialogue.
"It's tough to digest. I think everybody in America is struggling with balancing their feelings right now and muddling through the different emotions," Watson said. "Each day there is something new and I think really brings up the fact that we still have some issues in this country, specifically when it comes to race. It's something we don't talk about a whole lot, but it's something that comes to the forefront over and over again."
Here's the full interview:
Darren Waller's Four-Game Suspension Buys Ravens Some Time
Ravens tight end Darren Waller's four-game suspension is a big blow to the second-year player, who is transitioning from wide receiver to tight end.
He was already considered a bubble player with Watson, Dennis Pitta, Crockett Gillmore and Maxx Williams ahead of him on the depth chart. And that's not even counting Nick Boyle, who is also suspended for the first 10 games of the season.
But there are some positives that can be pulled out of a not-so-positive situation.
There was talk of keeping Waller as a fifth tight end specifically for special teams contributions. With Waller and Boyle now suspended to start the season, the Ravens will decide whether to keep three or four tight ends. Both are very doable.
But Waller still has a chance to prove himself in training camp and the preseason because his suspension doesn't kick in until the regular season. By then, who knows what injuries could occur and potentially put Waller right back into the discussion?
And even if there are no injuries, Russell Street Report's Tony Lombardi sees another scenario that could work well for the team.
"[N]ow that he's added another suspension to his record [see college] he will be even less desirable to other teams, particularly four weeks into the season with little chance to learn a new offensive system with foreign terminology," Lombardi wrote.
"Given the blemished resume, Waller is likely to pass waivers and the Ravens can continue to work with him by adding the tight end project to the team's practice squad. There, the Ravens coaching staff can continue to assess Waller's progress and push out a final determination on his future with the team until the summer of 2017."
After Watching Former Team Win Super Bowl, Elvis Dumervil Wants His Ring
Ravens outside linebacker Elvis Dumervil made it clear that he was happy to see his former employer and teammates lift the Lombardi Trophy in February.
He has no "ill-will" toward the Denver Broncos organization, and at the same time, he still has no regrets about signing with the Ravens after the infamous fax snafu that spoiled a renewed contract with Denver. He called the Ravens a first-class organization and chose to sign with them because he knew the franchise would consistently put him in position to win.
That said, Dumervil, 32, would like to get a ring of his own after seeing his teammates get one.
"Hopefully this is the right year," Dumervil said Friday during an appearance on SportsCenter, per CSNMidAtlatnic.com.
"That's all you want to play for. Financially you've been blessed. If you're able to play more than 10 years, obviously you have a good body of work that you've been doing. At this point, you know, the window is nearing down. You know you're not going to play 20 or 30 years, especially at our position. The Super Bowl is the most desirable situation, no doubt."
Dumervil played through an injury last season for which he had surgery this offseason. And he lost his partner in crime, Terrell Suggs, in Week 1 due to an Achilles tear. As a result, Dumervil only notched six sacks.
"It's a big blow man, just his presence, great teammate," Dumervil said. "His presence is always felt. Obviously as his partner in crime, when you don't have another guy taking up double-teams, it makes it a little more complicated for you as a pass rusher. Getting him back healthy, he's looking good, he's looking to come back strong. So we're excited."
Dumervil was on SportsCenter to promote his recent trip to Haiti, which we detailed in a powerful video earlier this month (embedded above). The veteran talked with ESPN in the video below about the impact the trip had on him.
Jerraud Powers Has One Of NFL's Most Team-Friendly Contracts
Pro Football Focus (PFF) is continuing its series on the best and worst NFL contracts at each position, and the website believes Ravens cornerback Jerraud Powers has the fifth-most team friendly contract among his NFL cornerback peers.
Powers signed a one-year deal with the Ravens this offseason for a reported $1.75 cap hit.
"Miscast as an outside corner last year, Powers had a down season for the Cardinals, and in response, he was not asked to return to the team for 2016," wrote Eric Eager. "The Ravens signed Powers in the offseason to a modest one-year, $1.75 million deal, hoping he can improve on his 79th-best grade among cornerbacks last year. Many of his statistics last season were skewed by one game, earning a heavily-negative mark against the Bengals in Week 11, where he allowed eight receptions (on 13 targets) for 135 yards and a touchdown.
"The Ravens in no small measure hope that Powers can return to his 2014 form, where he had a top-20 coverage grade among cornerbacks (playing primarily in the slot). In that season, he was tied for first in the NFL with three interceptions while covering in the slot, and his 15 total pressures were twice as many as any cornerback in the league. The Ravens have a significant need on the inside of their nickel defense this coming season. Getting 2014-like production from Powers at that spot, while giving him the 74th-highest salary among cornerbacks, would go a long way towards a rebound defensively for Baltimore in 2016."