Ravens' Super Bowl Odds Keep Getting Better
The belief that the Ravens could win Super Bowl 50 continues to get stronger.
33-1 (11th best): The odds after the Ravens were knocked out of the divisional playoffs by New England.
25-1 (ninth best): The odds in May, shortly after the NFL Draft.
14-1 (sixth best): The odds released by Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook this month.
"That's quite a jump for the Ravens," wrote ESPN's Jamison Hensley.
A second Lombardi Trophy in four seasons? Where is all the renewed confidence coming from?
Adding wide receiver Breshad Perriman and tight end Maxx Williams, along with what looks to be a couple of other steals during the draft, have helped improve the confidence in Baltimore. And there only seemed to be positive things said about the team every time a national reporter visited training camp at the Under Armour Performance Center.
The five teams with better odds than Ravens are the usual playoff suspects:
Seattle Seahawks: 9-2
Green Bay Packers 9-2
New England Patriots: 8-1
Indianapolis Colts: 8-1
Denver Broncos: 12-1
Baltimore Ravens: 14-1
Philadelphia Eagles: 14-1
Dallas Cowboys: 14-1
And in case you were wondering who are the longest shots, there are six teams tied with 100-1 odds: New York Jets, Oakland Raiders, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Washington Redskins, Cleveland Browns and San Francisco 49ers.
"The Ravens have a combined four games against those long shots this season (two against the Browns and one each against the Raiders and 49ers)," wrote Hensley.
Smith Continues His Clinic, Agitates Eagles Defensive Backs
Steve Smith's "assault" on the Eagles defensive backs continued. That's how Philadelphia Inquirer Jeff McLane described it anyway.
Hensley said it was "a clinic" and that Smith spun defenders around with crafty route-running. The Baltimore Sun's Jon Meoli said one corner got "torched."
Smith was in a grumpy mood Wednesday after missing his wife's birthday, and he returned Thursday to take out his frustration on the Eagles with his play.
"After making headlines for all the wrong reasons Wednesday, Steve Smith Sr. showed he can play a little bit, too," wrote Meoli. "He torched cornerback Nolan Carroll for a long touchdown in 1-on-1s, and his next time through caught a pass against Marc Anthony over the middle, immediately throwing the ball into the air in celebration. Later during 11-on-11 drills, he burned rookie Eric Rowe, who Smith was asked about several times Wednesday, and punctuated the long catch and run by throwing a shoulder into safety Chris Maragos. It appears he had a bit of a chip on his shoulder Thursday."
My favorite line came after Smith caught a pass in the left flat and then handed the ball to safety Ed Reynolds and said, "Candy store catch" as he walked back to the huddle.
Osemele Returns, But Achilles Injury Could Last Into Regular Season
Guard Kelechi Osemele returned to practice after a week off with an Achilles injury. Just because he's back, however, doesn't mean he's 100 percent.
The Baltimore Sun's Jon Meoli writes there are "fears" it could linger into the regular season.
Osemele was asked whether the injury could put his status in question for the season opener against the Denver Broncos.
"If I had to play a game, it’d be tough," Osemele said. "I don't know. We'll see. It's definitely frustrating. I don't like seeing my teammates working and getting better and just sitting on the side. But we still have two, three weeks left before we get going. So I have some time to heal up, hopefully."
Going To Be Difficult To Cut Waller
You'd expect a sixth-round wide receiver would be a long-term project. Maybe he'd be ready to play in a year or two.
But Gerry Sandusky told Brett Hollander on WBAL radio that Waller isn't a project … he’s a target.
And after another impressive outing during the second joint practice with the Eagles* *yesterday, CSNBaltimore.com's Clifton Brown sees a place for Waller on this team, this year.
"It's going to be very difficult for the Ravens to cut WR Darren Waller," Brown wrote. "I say Waller makes the 53-man roster, after another very impressive day. He used his 6-foot-6 size to make two catches with Eagles corners draped over him. Waller is raw, but he has the potential to become a very good player. After drafting him in the sixth round, the Ravens are unlikely to let a potential weapon like Waller walk away."
Ryan Mink will have more on Waller's rising stock later today.
Philly Reporter Jokes That Tucker Is A 'Showoff'
We're used to 65-yard field goals in Baltimore.
Not so much in Philly.
Apparently Eagles kicker Cody Parkey had a "shaky" Wednesday practice, but bounced back Thursday going 7-of-7 from 40, 44, 33, 37 and 45 yards. He didn't attempt anything beyond those distances, which is rather short by Ravens kicker Justin Tucker's standards.
"The Eagles are clearly trying to bolster his confidence," wrote McLane. "He may have lost a little of that juice after watching [Tucker] nail a field goal attempt (without a rush) from around 70 (!) yards.
Ravens REALLY Want You To Know Flacco Is Elite … Because He Is
This SB Nation article had me laughing out loud.
They perused the Ravens website and found a trail of stories about Joe Flacco's elite status and found A LOT (including a number of my own Late for Work headlines.)
"I know that I will die without anybody answering whether Joe Flacco was elite; so will my children and my children's children and their children's children," wrote Rodger Sherman. "I know that I will never know, and from this, I find peace. I find beauty in the unanswerable, solace in the knowledge that the universe is vast and unsolvable.
"The Baltimore Ravens, however, don't view 'is Joe Flacco elite?' as an unanswerable mystery. They fancy they know that Joe Flacco is elite. And they use their website as an instrument to alert the world whenever Joe Flacco's eliteness is on display."
Hey, they pinned us. No shame in it. Here are the stories they tracked down.
Jan. 14, 2013: "Joe Flacco not elite? 'You're crazy.'"
June 5, 2013: "Pres. Obama to Joe Flacco: 'You're elite.'"
Dec. 12, 2014: "Joe Flacco sending 'elite' subliminal message?"
Jan. 3, 2015: "Joe Flacco 'The best quarterback in football'"
Jan. 3, 2015: "Joe Flacco leaves elite tip in Pittsburgh"
Jan. 5, 2015: "Why isn't Flacco considered elite?"
Jan. 8, 2015: "Is Joe Flacco an elite QB?"
Feb. 18, 2015: "Is Joe Flacco elite? Gary Kubiak's awesome answer."
May 28, 2015: "Why Joe Flacco will break into elite QB club under Marc Trestman"
July 24, 2015: "Torrey Smith's brilliant response to Joe Flacco elite question"
Aug. 20, 2015: "Eagles head coach Chip Kelly calls Joe Flacco elite"
Ravens Security Director Darren Sanders Found Not Guilty
On Thursday, a jury found Ravens Senior Director of Security Darren Sanders not guilty of second-degree assault and a fourth-degree sex offense.
The charges stemmed from accusations that he inappropriately touched a woman who works for the stadium cleaning crew in December. The jury, made up of six men and six women, deliberated for two-and-a-half hours before delivering a verdict, according to WBAL.
A spokesperson told The Sun's Jeff Zrebiec that the team was "delighted" with the verdict and happy for Sanders' family, but it was too early to comment on his status with the team.
The NFL released a statement Thursday afternoon, saying, "We will promptly review the matter under the Personal Conduct Policy, including the full trial record. Mr. Sanders will remain on paid leave until our review process is completed."
Tyrod Taylor Makes Strong Bid For Bills' Starting Job
I doubt that I'm the only one pulling for former Ravens backup quarterback Tyrod Taylor.
He was a fantastic teammate in Baltimore, patiently waiting for his time while sitting behind the durable Joe Flacco and never getting a regular-season start in four years.
Now he's getting a shot in Buffalo, and it looks as though he's tightening his grip on the starting role. In about a half of preseason action last night, Taylor completed 7-of-10 passes for 65 yards and rushed four times for 41 yards. He led the Bills on two long drives that ended in field goal tries (one miss), and he didn't make any glaring mistakes.
He had more rushing yards than all the Bills running backs combined.
"Bills coach Rex Ryan has said he won't name a starter until just before the Sept. 13 season opener vs. the Colts," wrote ProFootballTalk.coms' Zac Jackson. "More than likely, the battle will continue. Taylor goes forward with at least some momentum."
But E.J. Manuel isn't making it easy on Taylor. Manuel finished 9-of-14 passing for 111 yards and a game-winning touchdown pass on fourth-and goal. He followed it up with a two-point conversion pass. The Bills sat Matt Cassel as a healthy scratch to see what Taylor and Manuel could do.
- "These practices here with the Eagles, they've been terribly short in comparison. We'll ask each other, 'What period is up next?' and have it be it. But when we're back home practicing, it's like "Oh [darn], we've got an hour and a half left." – Ravens left tackle Eugene Monroe. [The Baltimore Sun]