While the Ravens work diligently at their passing camp this week, they've found themselves mentioned a few times in various new items and articles.
Vinnie Eyler of The Sporting News wrote that the Ravens/Steelers rivalry is currently the best in the NFL. Calling it a "hard-hitting, head-snapping, clock-cleaning and slobber-knocking" rivalry, Ravens vs. Steelers is physical football at its best. The two teams were the best in the conference last season, meeting three times including in the AFC Championship game. This rivalry beat out the New England Patriots/Indianapolis Colts series which has become iconic this decade, and each of the NFC East rivalries that have been iconic for many decades.
SI.com ranked the top five best and top five worst owners in the four major sports leagues in the United States. Although he has only been the majority owner for five seasons, Steve Bisciotti was ranked number five of the best owners in the NFL.
"The 48-year-old Bisciotti has become the epitome of the young, engaged owner who goes about his business the right way and puts a perennial winner on the field," SI.com wrote.
In his Monday Morning Quarterback *column, SI.com's Peter King* **ranked the Ravens no. 8 in his first post-draft power rankings. He points out the absence of linebacker Terrell Suggs and the replacement of Rex Ryan as potential obstacles, which might be why he has a team that was a game away from the Super Bowl as low as no. 8. but suspects that everyone will be on the same page come Week 1 against the Kansas City Chiefs. Ranked ahead of the Ravens were the New England Patriots at no. 1, the Steelers at no. 2, the New York Giants at no. 3, the Chicago Bears at no. 4, the Indianapolis Colts at no. 5, the Philadelphia Eagles at no. 6 and the San Diego Chargers at no. 7. Baltimore played the Steelers, Giants, Colts and Eagles in 2008, beating only Philadelphia. They will face five of those seven teams in 2009.
Pat Kirwan of NFL.com, meanwhile, ranked the Ravens no. 6 in his first power rankings for 2009, saying "Joe Flacco does not appear to be the kind of player to have a sophomore slump. He is really taking command of the offense, so expect more from the passing attack in 2009.
Speaking of Joe Flacco, The Sporting News recently drew their own rankings, this time of NFL quarterbacks. Peyton Manning and Tom Brady were at the top of the list as the usually are, but Joe Flacco found himself ranked as well, coming in at no. 16 of all QBs in the league:
"Flacco has a big arm and certainly proved himself as a rookie," they wrote. They credited the strong defense and running game which helped bring him along, saying there is still room to improve.
Additionally, two players that Baltimore fans might have their eye on were also in the news recently. The Philadelphia Eagles were reportedly interested in acquiring Arizona Cardinals wide receiver Anquan Boldin, who has been requesting a trade for months. They were communicating with Arizona during draft weekend, but didn't pull the trigger because they believed the Cards' asking price was too high.
Long-time Ravens quarterback Kyle Boller returned to Baltimore this weekend for the Preakness Stakes, visiting old friends and maintaining a little tradition. Although he doesn't play for the Ravens anymore and is happy to have his fresh start with the St. Louis Rams, he said it was still nice to return, if only for a weekend.
And lastly, ProFootballTalk.com is reporting that cornerback Duane Starks is retiring after 11 seasons, a name many Baltimore fans should remember fondly. Starks was the 10th overall pick of the 1998 NFL Draft by the Ravens out of Miami, and was a starter on Baltimore's vaunted 2000 championship team. His defining moment was likely when he intercepted Kerry Collins in Super Bowl XXXV for a touchdown. He has since played for the New England Patriots, Arizona Cardinals and Oakland Raiders, and finished his career with 25 total interceptions, 206 career tackles and 33 passes deflected.