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Lewis says he's 'agitated,' not angry, about story

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Lewis says he's 'agitated,' not angry, about story

NEW ORLEANS (AP) Ray Lewis is ``agitated.''

Not because the Baltimore Ravens linebacker thinks the magazine report linking him to a company that purports to make performance-enhancers will affect his play or that of his teammates against the San Francisco 49ers in the Super Bowl - the final game of a 17-year NFL career that most assume will earn him a spot in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

Rather, Lewis did not want to spend time discussing the subject in private with his head coach or in public with the media, as he did Wednesday, when his forceful denials - and attacks on the owner of the supplement company - meant the matter intruded for a second consecutive day on his retirement send-off.

``It's so funny of a story, because I never, ever took what he says or whatever I was supposed to do. And it's just sad, once again, that someone can have this much attention on a stage this big, where the dreams are really real,'' Lewis said, wearing his white No. 52 Ravens jersey, gray sweat pants and a black hat with the team's purple logo. ``I don't need it. My teammates don't need it. The 49ers don't need it. Nobody needs it.''

He smiled widely when the first question at his media session was about the topic - surely, he figured it was coming - then chuckled later while addressing it. Known for his frequent references to God and faith, Lewis called the whole episode a ``joke'' and a ``trick of the devil,'' adding that he told teammates: ``Don't let people from the outside ever come and try to disturb what's inside.''

Sports Illustrated reported Tuesday that Lewis sought help from a company called Sports With Alternatives To Steroids (SWATS), which says its deer-antler spray and pills contain a naturally occurring banned product connected to human growth hormone. The 37-year-old Lewis, the MVP of the 2001 Super Bowl, is the leading tackler in the NFL postseason after returning from a torn right triceps that sidelined him for 10 games.

SI reported that company owner Mitch Ross recorded a call with Lewis hours after the player hurt his arm in an October game against Dallas. According to the report, Lewis asked Ross to send him deer-antler spray and pills, along with other items made by the company.

On Wednesday, Lewis called Ross a coward and said he ``has no credibility.''

Ross declined an interview request from The Associated Press but emailed a statement reading: ``It is the view of SWATS and Mitch Ross that the timing of information was unfortunate and misleading and was in no way intended to harm any athlete. We have always been about aiding athletes to heal faster and participate at an optimum level of play in a lawful and healthy manner. We never encourage the use of harmful supplements and/or dangerous drugs.''

Told by a reporter that he seemed angry, Lewis replied: ``Me? Never angry. I'm too blessed to be stressed. Nah. You're not angry. You can use a different word. You can use the word `agitated,' because I'm here to win the Super Bowl. I'm not here to entertain somebody that does not affect that one way or another.''

Christopher Key, a co-owner of SWATS, said in a telephone interview that the company removed NFL players' endorsements from its website because ``all the players were given letters by the NFL two years ago saying they had to cease and desist and could not continue to do business with us anymore.''

NFL spokesman Greg Aiello confirmed that but did not respond to other requests for comment about SWATS or Lewis' involvement.

Teammates uniformly pushed the same message as Lewis and Ravens head coach John Harbaugh - ``Everybody heard about it, but we're not worried about it,'' is the way rookie running back Bernard Pierce put it - and several said NFL players often are offered products to aid in muscle-building or recovery.

``You've got to be real careful. You've got to think there's a reason they're giving you this product,'' Pierce said. ``If someone has success, another person wants to be mentioned in that - like, `Oh, I'm the reason for that.' If anybody tries to give me anything or tries to sell me on their stuff, I say, `Go right to my agent.'''

Wary of using something that has no real benefit - or, worse, that would result in a positive drug test administered by the league - players seek approval first from the NFL, the union, or a team trainer or doctor.

``I've been approached,'' Baltimore nose tackle Ma'ake Kemoeatu said. ``They'll come to me and they tell me, `This will help you with recovery and all that.' I say, `OK. I appreciate it.' And then I will call the NFL.''

Another athlete mentioned in the SI story, three-time golf major champion Vijay Singh, released a statement Wednesday at the Phoenix Open, acknowledging he used deer-antler spray and saying he wasn't aware that it may contain a substance banned by the PGA Tour.

Sports Illustrated reported that when it spoke to Lewis for its story, he acknowledged asking Ross for ``some more of the regular stuff'' on the night of the injury and that he has been associated with the company ``for a couple years.''

Lewis' stance was different Wednesday.

``He told me there's nothing to it. ... He's told us in the past, he's told us now, that he's never taken any of that stuff, ever,'' Harbaugh said. ``And I believe Ray. I trust Ray completely. We have a relationship. I know this man. And I know what he's all about. It's just too bad it has to be something that gets so much play.''

While Lewis did face a handful of questions about SWATS, plus some on-field topics, he never had to deal Wednesday with a single reference to a dark chapter in his life: He pleaded guilty to obstruction of justice in connection with the stabbing deaths of two men after a Super Bowl party at an Atlanta nightclub in 2000.

``We all in here have a past. You know? But how many people actually dwell into it? You know? Nah, it ain't about your past. It's about your future,'' Lewis said in response to a question about keeping focused on Sunday's game.

``And for me and my teammates, I promise you, we have a strong group of men that we don't bend too much, and we keep pushing forward. So it's not a distraction at all for us,'' he said, raising a clenched fist.

``The trick of the devil is to kill, steal and destroy. That's what he comes to do. He comes to distract you from everything you're trying to do. There's no man ever trained as hard as our team has trained. There's no man that's went through what we went through,'' Lewis said. ``So to give somebody credit that doesn't deserve credit, that would be a slap in the face for everything we went through.''

Asked about deer-antler spray, 49ers tight end Vernon Davis' take was, ``I don't think Ray would take any substance.''

Carlos Rogers, a San Francisco cornerback, chuckled when asked about it and what effect the headlines could have on the Ravens.

``I don't think they'll get a distraction. I don't know what to make of that. I heard it was something that can't be detected. They can't test (for) it, anyway,'' Rogers said. ``Him saying that he's never failed a test, he probably hasn't failed a test for what they test for.''

Boasting that ``you will never fail a drug test from taking our product,'' SWATS co-owner Key said the company has sold its products to more than 20 college football players each at Southeastern Conference schools Alabama, Auburn, Mississippi, LSU and Georgia.

Alabama has sent two cease-and-desist letters to SWATS, university spokeswoman Debbie Lane said, adding: ``UA has been aware of this situation for some time, and we have monitored this company for several years.'' Auburn and LSU representatives also said they have asked the company to stay away from students.

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AP Sports Writer John Zenor in Tuscaloosa, Ala., contributed to this report.

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Follow Howard Fendrich on Twitter athttp://twitter.com/HowardFendrich

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Online:http://pro32.ap.org/poll andhttp://twitter.com/AP-NFL

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2017 NFL Draft: Final Mock Draft Thoughts

2017 NFL Draft: Final Mock Draft Thoughts

The time is here.

The 2017 NFL Draft, round one.

Thursday. My 11th and final mock draft, completed.

Before getting into all the picks, here are some final thoughts:

CLICK HERE FOR BEN STANDIG'S FINAL 2017 NFL MOCK DRAFT

  • Here are the five players that could really, really screw up my grand plans: QB Mitch Trubisky, ILB Reuben Foster, CB Marlon Humphrey, WR Corey Davis, S Jabrill Peppers. Why? Trubisky is the likely first passer selected. I’d bet the Browns land him with their second first-round selection. It just probably won’t be at 12. That means a trade up. Whether it’s the Jaguars (4), Titans (5) or Jets (6) makes a major difference in how the selections might unfold. Foster is a top-10 talent who some suggest could slide out of round 1 altogether because of various injury/off-field concerns. Humphrey might be the third corner selected. When he comes off the board, a run on corners begins. Does that run begin at 18 or 28? Last month Davis had top-10 projections. Because he hasn’t been able to work out for teams due to injuries, his range is now 10-30. Peppers is a big favorite for many talent evaluators, but where he plays every-down in the NFL is the concern

CLICK HERE FOR BEN STANDIG'S FINAL 2017 NFL MOCK DRAFT

  • Yes, we all know that the Redskins need defensive line help. Don’t freak out if that doesn’t happen on Day 1. There simply are not many (any?) viable options projected in the 15-35 range. Better they take talent for other need areas than reach. Oh, they also might have an issue in the second round for similar reasons. Cheers!
     
  • Speaking of strengths and weaknesses, teams seeking cornerback, safety, edge rusher and tight end love the first two rounds of this draft. Those hoping for offensive line, defensive and wide receiver are hoping for the best.

CLICK HERE FOR BEN STANDIG'S FINAL 2017 NFL MOCK DRAFT

  • For the last 10 mocks I’ve changed the selections for 30 slots numerous times. Two remain the same. Cleveland taking Texas A&M pass rusher Myles Garett No.1 – and the Los Angeles Chargers going with Ohio State safety Malik Hooker. The former is clear; one league source told me he’s the best OLB prospect since Lawrence Taylor. As for Hooker, it just made sense from the jump in a Beautiful Mind sort of way.

 

  • If you make me pick a surprise for the top 10 – quarterbacks don’t count – give me Washington receiver John Ross, i.e. the guy who ran the fastest 40-time in the history of the NFL Combine. Teams picking 6-10 all need receivers.

 

  • The “Best Player Available vs. Need” debate is real with the Denver Broncos and New York Giants. Everyone acknowledges both need help at offensive tackle, badly. Viable players – Garret Bolles, Ryan Ramczyk, Cam Robinson – will start going off the board in that range. They just won’t be the best player available. The Broncos and Giants also need a tight end and Miami’s David Njoku could be there. Decisions, decisions.

 

  • Based on likely scenarios – meaning Jonathan Allen, Haason Reddick and Christian McCaffrey aren’t available -- here are the five players I like best for the Redskins at 17: Alabama ILB Reuben Foster, UCLA OLB Takk McKinley, G Forrest Lamp, WR John Ross, Alabama CB Marlon Humphrey.

 

  • Potential slider? Not saying I buy it, but Florida State running back Dalvin Cook slipping to Day 2 is something to consider. If you think Clemson quarterback Deshaun Watson is some top 10 lock

 

  • The Ravens, barring the unforeseen in front of them, will take one of these players: WR Corey Davis, OL Cam Robinson, edge rusher Derek Barnett/Takk McKinley.

 

  • Three players I like for the Redskins in round 2: Utah safety Marcus Williams, Michigan DL Chris Wormley, Houston pass rusher Tyus Bowser.

CLICK HERE FOR BEN STANDIG'S FINAL 2017 NFL MOCK DRAFT

Ok, here are my 1-32 picks.

Click here for my thoughts on each selection and the entire second round.

1. CLE — Myles Garrett, DE, Texas A&M
2. SF — Solomon Thomas, DE, Stanford
3. CHI — Jamal Adams, SS, LSU
4. JAX — Leonard Fournette, RB, LSU
5. TEN (via LA) — Marshon Lattimore, CB, Ohio State
6. NYJ — O.J. Howard, TE, Alabama
7. LAC — Malik Hooker, S, Ohio State
8. CAR — Christian McCaffrey, RB, Stanford
9. CIN — Jonathan Allen, DE, Alabama
10. BUF — Mike Williams, WR, Clemson
11. NO — Haason Reddick, ILB, Temple
12. CLE (via PHI) — Mitch Trubisky, QB, North Carolina
13. ARI — Pat Mahomes, QB, Texas Tech
14. PHI (via MIN) — Gareon Conley, CB, Ohio State
15. IND — Derek Barnett, DE, Tennessee
16. BAL — Cam Robinson, OL, Alabama
17. WAS — Reuben Foster, ILB, Alabama
18. TEN — John Ross, WR, Washington
19. TB — Dalvin Cook, RB, Florida State
20. DEN — Garett Bolles, OT, Utah
21. DET — Charles Harris, OLB, Missouri
22. MIA — Forrest Lamp, G, Western Kentucky
23. NYG — David Njoku, TE, Miami (Fla.)
24. OAK — Jarrad Davis, MLB, Florida
25. HOU — Deshaun Watson, QB, Clemson
26. SEA — Ryan Ramczyk, OT, Wisconsin
27. KC — Takkarist McKinley, OLB, UCLA
28. DAL — Marlon Humphrey, CB, Alabama
29. GB — Adoree Jackson, CB, USC
30. PIT — Corey Davis, WR, Western Michigan
31. ATL — T.J Watt, OLB, Wisconsin
32. NO (Via NE) — Kevin King, CB, Washington

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Ravens Mock Draft Roundup: Looks like Baltimore's getting a new wide receiver

Ravens Mock Draft Roundup: Looks like Baltimore's getting a new wide receiver

This is it. It’s finally the week of the 2017 NFL Draft, signaling the end to all of the mock drafts and educated guesses about which move your favorite team will make in the first round.

As for the Baltimore Ravens, there are a number of different directions they could go — add some youth to their receivers, buff up their defensive line or pull a move that could surprise everyone.

With the countdown to the NFL Draft now down to days, here’s a look at which players draft experts and analysts think the Ravens will take with their No. 16 first-round pick.

 

Corey Davis, WR from Western Michigan

Ben Standig, CSN Mid-Atlantic: He argues the Ravens need to prioritize their receiving unit to give Joe Flacco more consistent opens.

“The 6-foot-3 Davis wasn't just a receiver in 2016. We're talking playmaking monster after catching 97 passes for 1,500 yards and 19 touchdowns.”

But he also offers up the idea of an edge rusher for the Ravens too.

See Ben Standig's complete 2017 NFL Mock Draft 10.0

Chris Wormley, DE from Michigan

Cameron DaSilva, FOX Sports: Although he asserts Wormley deserves to be a first-round pick somewhere, the Raven’s No. 16 pick could be a bit too high but thinking he’ll still be around by the team’s second-round pick at 47 is “risky.”

“Often overshadowed by other playmakers on Michigan’s defense (Taco Charlton, Jabrill Peppers), Wormley is a great player in his own right, and fits perfectly as a 3-4 defensive end. He can eat up blocks on the edge for Terrell Suggs and Baltimore’s other dynamic pass rushers, while also generating pressure himself.”

Mike Williams, WR from Clemson

Rob Rang, CBS Sports: With the losses of Steve Smith, Sr. and Kamar Aiken, he’s not the only one to point out the Ravens need someone Flacco can rely on, and Williams might be it.

“The Ravens need help at edge rusher and offensive tackle, as well, but general manager Ozzie Newsome may have a hard time letting a prototypical split end like the 6-4, 218-pound Williams slip any further. His ability to box out defenders and win contested passes could make him a quick favorite for Joe Flacco…”

Corey Davis, WR form Western Michigan

Pete Prisco, CBS Sports: His argument is quite simple.

“At some point, they have to get Joe Flacco more help outside. This is a player who will end up being the best receiver in this class.”

Cam Robinson, OT from Alabama

Chad Reuter, NFL.com: No matter what’s left by the time the Ravens’ pick rolls around, he argues Baltimore will find someone for the O-Line.

“If Buffalo takes this physically dominant tackle from Alabama at 10, then Ozzie Newsome will find another bargain here.”

 O.J. Howard, TE from Alabama 

Evan Silva, Yahoo Sports: In a year of stand-out tight ends, he asserts this might be the right move for the Ravens.

"Tight ends ordinarily do not make first-year impacts, and the depth of the class could work against the top-end talents. At No. 16, however, I think Howard would be too appealing for GM Ozzie Newsome to pass. 2015 second-round pick Maxx Williams has been a colossal disappointment, and Dennis Pitta is on his last legs. Howard is the pro-readiest tight end in this class." 

John Ross, WR from Washington

Mike Tanier, Bleacher Report: His point is to basically have the Ravens strengthen their offense so it’s reliable and they can leave it alone while working to improve other areas.

“So fast. So record-shatteringly fast. Can also run routes and catch and stuff.”

MORE NFL DRAFT: 15 first-round NFL Draft busts