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Late for Work 8/10: Ravens Named as Top Potential Landing Spot for Roquan Smith

081022-LFW
Chicago Bears inside linebacker Roquan Smith (58) during an NFL football game against the Minnesota Vikings, Sunday, Jan. 9, 2022 in Minneapolis.

Ravens Named as Potential Landing Spot for Roquan Smith

Chicago Bears inside linebacker Roquan Smith has requested a trade, and multiple outlets named the Ravens as a potential fit.

If the 25-year-old Smith is on the trade block — Bears General Manager Ryan Poles said yesterday that he doesn't intend to trade himCBS Sports' Tyler Sullivan ranked the Ravens as the No. 1 landing spot for the two-time second-team All-Pro and eighth-overall selection in 2018.

"Thirty-two-year-old Josh Bynes is currently in line to be the team's starting middle linebacker after starting 12 games for them last year and re-signing with the club this offseason. Smith not only would be an instant upgrade, but he'd be an answer for them for the foreseeable future," Sullivan wrote. "As an aside, Smith could also pick up the mantle left by Ray Lewis and be Baltimore's next great middle linebacker, which is in a similar vein to what he enjoyed about playing in Chicago with their long history of linebackers. However, the Ravens would need to massage their books to make this work under the salary cap."

ESPN's Jeremy Fowler wrote: "The Ravens courted Bobby Wagner in free agency, and though Smith would cost more, he's also seven years younger than Wagner and could pair with Patrick Queen as game-wreckers in the middle. Scouts see this as a scheme fit, with Smith's makeup playing to Baltimore's AFC North toughness quotient."

NFL.com's Eric Edholm said Smith won't come cheap but he'd be worth it for a contender such as the Ravens.

"If the Ravens believe Smith can upgrade the defense considerably — also, if they can afford the linebacker's 2022 salary and stomach the compensation necessary to get a deal done — they might have to consider it," Edholm wrote. "GM Eric Decosta isn't afraid to be aggressive when opportunities present themselves. This is a team that appears to consider itself closer to the one that started last season 8-3 than the one that dropped its final six games. Of those six straight losses, five came by a combined eight points. In a year where one division rival's star quarterback is suspended and another rival is moving on from its future Hall Of Fame QB, the Ravens might be willing to strike for a big move when the iron is hot."

Steve Bisciotti Talks About Relationship With Players, Injury-Riddled 2021 Season and More

Ravens owner Steve Bisciotti did an interview with Sirius XM Radio at training camp yesterday. Here are some highlights:

His relationship with players: "I think there's a sweet spot, that if you're here too much you can kind of alienate your players, and if you're here too little then you don't give them a chance to be comfortable around you. So I kind of instinctively want them to know who I am, want them to know that I care about them. … I go to the locker room before the game. I never go after the game because I never want to see them in a heightened state of emotion and having to deal with that in front of the owner."

Ravens' injury-riddled 2021 season: "I'm a little shell-shocked from the injuries last year. I'm sanding down curbs out there so nobody trips and falls on the way in. I've looked at the stats over the years and you see it ebbing and flowing. Had we moved to a new facility, if we had gone to artificial turf … everything was the same. Everything we do here is the same, it's the same coaching staff, so nothing changed except this rash. I think they did a study and put a point system … if you lose a Pro Bowler it's five points, a starter four points and a backup three points, and we were No. 1 out of the last 20 years, 648 examples. It was really bad. You look at that and that team should finish 4-13, not 8-9. And we lost two of them because we chose to go for a two-point conversion at the end against the Packers and Steelers, and so that very easily could have been 10-7."

His role in the draft process: "I get the board from Eric [DeCosta] really early on, and I know it's preliminary, and I like to start studying players, but I'm not qualified to look at like the top 30 players because the nuances are different. What I like to see is when I have six fourth-round draft picks and I know that standard deviation says that between 110 and 141 we're going to get guys from 70 to 100 all the way down at 141. So that's what I then focused three months on; studying those players, those Isaiah Likelys and Charlie Kolars and those fourth-round picks."

Ravens' emphasis on special teams: "You appreciate John [Harbaugh] for what he's done. I think that we probably in the 15 years he's been here have to be in the top six in special teams numbers, so I want him to take pride in that third rail. It makes and breaks games, which makes or breaks playoff appearances. I'm always made aware of that when my pet corner is being forced onto the practice squad because that corner of [Harbaugh's] plays special teams better. And I'm reminded every year that when it comes down to those last spots you better be a standout on special teams. And it drives me crazy that we'll put a guy … he won't get to the practice squad. Somebody else will claim him and it's like, damn, I knew this was going to be good. And John wasn't having it because he doesn't play hard special teams. John always told me and said it a million times to other reporters that if a young guy is great on special teams he almost always becomes a great player. And the Zach Orrs and Albert McClellans, the ones that didn't play right away, were the ones that were just lighting up special teams, and so it's proven true. It still doesn't help on cutdown day for me."

Using analytics: "I love analytics and statistics. I also trust my scouts' eyes and my coaches' eyes. But to not know things that we didn't know years ago … I mean you look at a team like Pittsburgh that's just constantly finding wide receivers, it's not just eyes. They're looking deeper and they're finding things. They're looking at traits."

Ravens Crack Top 10 in Power Rankings

The Ravens moved up one spot to No. 10 in NFL.com's preseason power rankings.

In the write-up for the Ravens, NFL.com's Dan Hanzus implored the Football Gods to grant the team some luck in regard to injuries.

"If you close your eyes, you can picture the reaction behind the scenes at Ravens headquarters after first-round pick Tyler Linderbaum went down with a foot injury. (My vision: A collective, perfectly synchronized hand-to-forehead slap by each member of the coaching staff.)," Hanzus wrote. "You get it, too: The 2021 Ravens had their season essentially wiped out by an injury-bug attack that reached biblical levels. The good news is that Linderbaum's injury is being treated as a sprain, rather than a rupture, leaving open a very real possibility the promising young center is on the field in Week 1. Cut the birds a break, Football Gods."

Browns WR/Returner Jakeem Grant Suffers Achilles Injury

Speaking of injuries, Cleveland Browns wide receiver/returner Jakeem Grant suffered an Achilles injury and was carted off the field during yesterday's practice.

Grant, who made the Pro Bowl as a returner last season with the Bears, signed with Cleveland this offseason. He was working with the Browns' first-team offense and had been one of the top pass catchers to begin training camp, according to the Browns website.

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