Broncos bring Manning to Baltimore this time

Broncos bring Manning to Baltimore this time

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. (AP) The last time the Denver Broncos won a game in Baltimore, a baby-faced John Elway was making his second NFL start and producing his first career fourth-quarter comeback.

That was way back in 1983, before the Colts left for Indianapolis. The Broncos are 0-5 in Baltimore since the Ravens entered the league in 1996.

Champ Bailey doesn't care. He has Peyton Manning on his side this time.

Manning is 8-0 against the Ravens since 2002 with half of those wins coming in Charm City, where the Broncos (10-3) will face the Ravens (9-4) Sunday in the marquee matchup of a weekend brimming with big games.

Bailey puts no stock whatsoever in Denver's dismal record in Baltimore that includes a 30-7 loss in 2009 and a 31-17 defeat a year later.

``We don't have quite the same roster we had the last two times we've been up there,'' Bailey said. ``Hopefully that makes a difference.''

The biggest change, of course, is Manning, dubbed ``Raven Killer'' by his teammate Justin Bannan, who lost five times to him as a member of the Ravens from 2006-09, with three of those losses coming in Baltimore.

Loathe to accept accolades or to compare this season or this team to any other, Manning doesn't want to hear about all the wins he's engineered in Baltimore.

``It's kind of like I never like it when somebody says I lost four straight. I don't agree when you say I won eight straight,'' Manning said. ``Those are team wins and different teams, different players playing in those games. I really can't speak much to the past. All I can speak to is this year, and it's been such a different year for me - different team and what not.''

Even taking into account the combined .356 winning percentage of their opponents during their eight-game winning streak, the Broncos are the hottest team in the NFL right now, and they're breathing down the necks of both the Texans and Patriots - two teams they lost to early on - for one of two AFC playoff byes.

This is a chance to show everyone, including themselves, that they're truly on a championship course, and what better barometer than Baltimore?

``This is one of the playoff type situations, so it's a great challenge ahead of us to see what we're all about,'' Broncos pass-rusher Elvis Dumervil said.

Although Baltimore coach John Harbaugh fired offensive coordinator Cam Cameron this week and replaced him with Jim Caldwell, the Ravens' two-game losing streak - their first since 2009 - can be attributed largely to a depleted defense that's missing much of its star power.

Ray Lewis (triceps) and Terrell Suggs (biceps) have yet to play a game together this season, although both practiced this week, and Lardarius Webb is on IR with a torn ACL.

``You know, they're not all gone,'' said Broncos slot receiver Brandon Stokley, another former Raven. ``They've still got Ed Reed back there in the secondary. So, no matter who's in there, you play Baltimore in Baltimore, it's going to be a tough, hard-fought game.''

The Broncos are preparing as though the injury-ravaged Ravens will have Lewis, their emotional leader, back on the field Sunday.

``He's very intense and there's definitely a difference whenever I was there and he was at practice and then when he wasn't at practice,'' Stokley said. ``He reminds me of Peyton, how Peyton is, he just raises everybody's level of play up when he's around. The work that they put in, the attention to detail that they have, guys see that and guys know if these guys, as good as they are, are putting in that much work and attention to detail, then I have to do that, too.''

The Broncos, who last lost on Oct. 7 in New England, have quickly acclimated themselves to their own excitable leader in Manning.

``I'm glad he's on my team,'' Bannan said. ``I've played that guy a few times, a couple of times in the playoffs, and a guy like Peyton Manning, the pressure it puts on defensive coaches, when you're putting that game plan in on Wednesday and you're getting ready to play this guy, you wouldn't believe the pressure and intensity the defensive coordinator feels to figure out what this guy's doing.

``These guys would watch hours and hours and hours of film on him just to find something. I think he's one of the few guys where it's damn near impossible to find something on him that you can key on, he switches things up so well.''

The Ravens' switch in offensive coordinators threw a wrinkle into the Broncos' preparation, but they're not expecting wholesale changes with Caldwell calling an NFL game for the first time in his career.

``I don't think they'll venture too far away,'' Broncos coach John Fox said. ``Possibly there will be a little more no-huddle.''

Manning spent a decade in Indy under the tutelage of Caldwell, who was in his first year as Baltimore's quarterbacks coach before taking the reins of the Ravens offense on Monday.

``Jim Caldwell had a tremendous influence on me,'' Manning said. ``He was very organized, very detail-oriented, which, I'm a fan of that philosophy. He and I got into a good routine in meetings and on the practice field every day for the time we were together, when he was my quarterbacks coach, and I really thought he took my game to another level. He's also been a tremendous friend and mentor to me. I miss being around him every day, and I miss his friendship.''

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Fifth-rounder becomes Baltimore's first 2016 draft pick to sign

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Fifth-rounder becomes Baltimore's first 2016 draft pick to sign

The Ravens have signed fifth-round draft pick Matt Judon, CSN has confirmed through an NFL source. Judon became the first of the Ravens’ 11 draft picks to sign, reaching agreement on a four-year, $2.595 million deal.

Judon led all of college football with 20 sacks last season at Grand Valley State, and will likely make the transition from defensive end to outside linebacker in the Ravens’ 3-4 defense. His combination of size (6-foot-3, 275 pounds) and quickness caught the eye of Ravens’ scouts at the combine, and he fit their desire to improve their pass rush in this draft.

“He’s an explosive pass rusher, which is something that was obviously of interest to us,” Ravens assistant general manager Eric DeCosta said after the draft. “I should also say that Joe Cullen, who works with our defensive line and rush linebackers, was really, really excited. This was a guy that we thought was an outstanding prospect, and he (Cullen) spent a lot of time with him this spring, and we felt very, very good about his ability to come in and help us right away.”

AFC North: Manziel struggles continue, as does Browns search for franchise QB

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AFC North: Manziel struggles continue, as does Browns search for franchise QB

Watching Johnny Manziel make his court appearance Thursday on domestic violence charges was another reminder of how badly many of the Browns’ quarterback decisions have turned out.

Just two years ago, Manziel was the 22nd overall pick, and the Browns hoped he would be the answer to their quarterback problems. How wrong that looks now, with Manziel out of the NFL, with an uncertain future both on and off the field.

The Browns’ decision to take Manziel in 2014 looks even worse when you consider:

- Two other starting quarterbacks were drafted after Manziel in 2014 – Teddy Bridgewater of the Vikings (No. 32) and Derek Carr of the Raiders (No. 36). 

- Eight first-round picks in the 2014 draft have already made the Pro Bowl – linebackers Anthony Barr (Vikings), Khalil Mack (Raiders), and C. J. Mosley (Ravens); wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. (Giants), defensive tackle Aaron Donald (Rams); guard Zach Martin (Cowboys); cornerback Jason Verrett (Chargers), and Bridgewater.

The Browns’ new regime of executive VP Sashi Brown, chief strategy officer Paul DePodesta, and coach Hue Jackson could have spent another first-round pick on a quarterback this year. Instead, they signed Robert Griffin III during free agency, traded down out of the No. 2 spot in the draft, acquired some valuable draft picks, and waited until Round 3 to draft quarterback Cody Kessler of USC in the third round.

The Browns aren’t sure Griffin or Kessler will solve their quarterback problems either. But it’s hard to blame them for avoiding spending another first-round pick on a quarterback. Not after seeing how far Manziel has fallen so fast.

Secretary of Navy weighs in on Reynolds' service, availability for Ravens

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Secretary of Navy weighs in on Reynolds' service, availability for Ravens

The Secretary of the Navy expressed confidence Thursday that sixth-round draft pick Keenan Reynolds will be able to play for the Ravens next season. Speaking on the Dan Patrick Show, Ray Mabus said there should be ways for Reynolds to fulfill his Navy obligations while pursuing his NFL career.

“If I was an NFL team I would want Keenan Reynolds in my locker room,” Mabus said on the show. “Keenan Reynolds is a great ambassador for not only the United States Navy but the United States military. I’m confident we can work something out so Keenan can do both, play and serve…I’m going to do everything I can to make sure he can do both.”

The Ravens were hopeful that Reynolds would be allowed to play, but said they would abide by whatever decision made by the Navy. Reynolds was a star quarterback at Navy, but will try to forge an NFL career as a wide receiver-punt returner. Reynolds is scheduled to participate in this weekend’s Ravens rookie minicamp.

A precedent for Reynolds being allowed to play has already been set. The Patriots drafted long snapper Joe Cardona in the fifth round last season, and he played all of last season while also working at a Naval Preparatory Academy in Rhode Island.

Reynolds could be a busy man as well next season, juggling Navy responsibilities with football. However, Reynolds has long dreamed of playing in the NFL, and Mabus’ comments were a positive sign.