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Goodell will address NFL drunk driving problem

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Goodell will address NFL drunk driving problem

NEW ORLEANS (AP) Drinking and driving by NFL players is a problem Commissioner Roger Goodell wants to address.

He said Friday at the Super Bowl he met with Mothers Against Drunk Driving last week to work on the issue.

``The reality is we have to do a better job of educating people in the NFL that this is a priority: `This is for your safety, for the safety of the people in your car, and for innocent people that are out there.' There are services designed to help them make better decisions before they leave their homes,'' Goodell said during his pre-Super Bowl state of the league news conference. ``We have to make sure that they understand those services, and most importantly, take advantage of them.''

Dallas Cowboys nose tackle Josh Brent faces an intoxication manslaughter charge for a Dec. 8 crash that killed his friend and practice-squad member Jerry Brown. Last month, another Cowboys player, lineman Jay Ratliff, was arrested after sideswiping a semitrailer truck. Ratliff was charged with driving while intoxicated.

Blood-alcohol tests released by police say both Brent and Ratliff were well above the legal limit.

49ers defensive lineman Demarcus Dobbs, who went on injured reserve in December, was arrested Nov. 30 for suspicion of driving under the influence and possession of marijuana. Dobbs was involved in a single-car accident in which he hit a chain-link fence and a bush but didn't sustain any injuries.

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TAKING AFTER MOM: Jack Harbaugh's influence on his sons is well known. The football world learned Friday that Jackie Harbaugh played just as big a role when John and Jim were growing up.

Perhaps even bigger.

``She was with us every day. Dad worked a lot,'' John Harbaugh said Friday during a unique joint news conference with the opposing Super Bowl coach, his brother Jim. ``When he was around we would hang out with dad, but mom took us to practices and all that. Mom was with us all the time.''

The Harbaugh brothers are notoriously fierce competitors - just watch them on the sidelines Sunday - and Jim said that comes from their mother.

``There's nobody in our family that has more competitive fire than my mother. She competes like a maniac,'' Jim Harbaugh said.

But it was their mother's fierce loyalty that has left the biggest impact.

The Harbaughs moved often as Jack Harbaugh climbed the college coaching ranks, and Jackie Harbaugh made sure her children knew there was always one constant in their lives.

``No one would fight harder for us than our mom, no matter what the situation was, or teach us how to have each other's back and be there for one another,'' John Harbaugh said. ``Whether it was a little scrape in the neighborhood or something like that, she basically made it very clear that we were to have each other's back no matter what.''

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CONCUSSION LEGISLATION: As Super Bowl weekend arrived in New Orleans, lawmakers in the nation's capital hailed the NFL's decision to endorse legislation aimed at regulating youth sports equipment.

The federal Youth Sports Concussion Act aims to ensure youth sports equipment is manufactured according to safety standards derived from the latest scientific research.

``We can absolutely make it safer for athletes of all ages to enjoy the sports they love to play,'' said Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-W.Va.), who is sponsoring the bill along with Sen. Tom Udall (D-N.M.). ``I'm glad the NFL is supporting our efforts to protect young athletes on the field.''

The bill also would increase penalties for equipment companies making false injury prevention claims.

``Manipulating the good intentions of parents trying to protect their young athletes is unacceptable and our bill will end that practice,'' Rockefeller said.

The bill would instruct the Consumer Product Safety Commission to review the National Academies of Science's findings on concussions in youth sports and then make recommendations to manufacturers.

It would also allow the Federal Trade Commission to impose fines for using false claims to sell protective sports gear.

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CHANGING SUPER BOWL GAME PLAN: Hall of Fame receiver Jerry Rice reiterated how he and his teammates were caught off guard when Oakland Raiders coach Bill Callahan changed the game plan less than two days before Oakland's 48-21 loss in the 2003 Super Bowl.

They planned on a running attack, then it switched to a heavy passing game.

Callahan vehemently denied the allegations last week by Tim Brown and Rice that the coach had ``sabotaged'' the Raiders because of his close friendship with Tampa Bay coach Jon Gruden by altering the game plan less than two days before

``I have played under Bill Walsh, many, many years,'' Rice said. ``When you prepare for a game a certain way, you don't change anything on that given Friday. Maybe the word is not sabotaged, but you look at it and you can put whatever words you want to it, but you do not change the game plan on a Friday, two days before the Super Bowl.''

Rice provided a quick rundown of the runners they had: Tyrone Wheatley, Charlie Garner and fullback Zack Crockett.

``We were averaging over 300 something yards a game,'' Rice said. ``We had planned to run the football. All of a sudden, Friday, now you decide we're going to throw the ball 60 or more times. That, to me, leaves the players a little hesitant. Because now all of a sudden we don't know we're going to attack that football team. Maybe sabotaged is not the word, but this is something Tim and I, we talk about. We both agreed that it was just very unusual for that to happen. Under Bill Walsh, that wouldn't have happened.''

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Five observations from Day 1 of Ravens training camp

Five observations from Day 1 of Ravens training camp

OWINGS MILLS – Here are five observations from Day 1 of Ravens’ training camp:

1. Joe Flacco didn’t look like someone who had not practiced since November.

First of all, there is nothing wrong with Flacco’s arm. Early in drills, he effortlessly floated a long pass to rookie Chris Moore on a ball that traveled at least 55 yards in the air. Secondly, Flacco moved well wearing a brace on his surgically-repaired left knee, moving out of the pocket several times without any sign of favoring the injury. It remains to be seen if Flacco feels discomfort after several days of practice, and of course, he is not taking any hits. But this was a good first step.

“It felt really good to be out there,” Flacco said in quotes provided by the team. “I wasn’t as efficient as I’d like to be, but I felt comfortable. I just need to throw it a little better and complete some more passes.”

2. Veteran tight end Ben Watson didn’t have the greatest practice.

The usually sure-handed Watson dropped two passes early. Maybe Watson was nervous in his first practice with Flacco, or maybe he was adjusting to the pace of Flacco’s throws. But Watson will be looking to bounce back quickly, competing for playing time at tight end with Crockett Gillmore, Dennis Pitta, and Maxx Williams.

3. The starter at inside linebacker could be rookie Kamalei Correa.

While Correa is taking reps both outside and inside, the Ravens are searching for a starter at inside linebacker next to C.J. Mosley. If Correa wins the starting job, it means the Ravens’ top two picks, left tackle Ronnie Stanley and Correa, could be starters from Week 1.

4. Pitta looks like Pitta, running patterns and making catches.

Fans still love Pitta, and he received a huge ovation whenever he made a catch. Pitta’s attempt to come back from his second major hip injury is a feel-good story and people are rooting for him.  However, a major test for Pitta will come Saturday when the Ravens put on pads for the first time.

5. John Urschel could be the starter at left guard, but he is also taking reps at center.

Urschel is the favorite to replace Kelechi Osemele as the starting left guard. However, Urschel’s best position may be center. If anything happens to starting center Jeremy Zuttah, the Ravens could shift Urschel to center and play either Ryan Jensen or rookie Alex Lewis at left guard.

RELATED: STANLEY'S ROOKIE SHOW PERFORMANCE WAS ONE FOR THE AGES

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Ronnie Stanley sings 'Ignition Remix' in chicken suit for his teammates

Ronnie Stanley sings 'Ignition Remix' in chicken suit for his teammates

OWINGS MILLS - When the Ravens drafted left tackle Ronnie Stanley, he never expected to sing in front of teammates wearing a chicken suit.

Welcome to the Ravens, and to the traditional rookie talent contest. Stanley led off this year’s draft class as the first-round pick, and apparently, he was a hit. The chicken suit was courtesy of wide receiver Steve Smith Sr., who purchased it for Stanley.

Where exactly do you find a chicken suit that fits somebody 6-foot-6, 320 pounds? But Smith found one. If you are a smart rookie, you don’t say no to Steve Smith. That left Stanley with no choice but to perform wearing the suit.

Stanley chose the R. Kelly song “Ignition Remix” for his selection.

“I knew it was crowd pleaser,” Stanley said after Thursday’s practice. “I know every word to the song. That was the song I picked, so I was practicing all throughout this break that we had.”

Under the circumstances, Stanley felt he did well.

 “I actually didn’t know about the chicken suit until yesterday,” Stanley said. “I did what I had to do. I knew since I was going first, I had to set the tone. That was the first time I sang in a chicken suit.”

Ravens coach John Harbaugh was impressed.

“He did a great job and we had fun,” Harbaugh said. “It’s nice when your first-round pick, kind of the leader of the rookie class, is able to step up and make a statement about that. I can fit in, so to speak.”

No word on if Stanley plans to go on tour after the season.

RELATED: A FEW RAVENS RUNNING BACKS ARE DINGED UP

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Kenneth Dixon hobbled, Lorenzo Taliaferro placed on PUP list

Kenneth Dixon hobbled, Lorenzo Taliaferro placed on PUP list

OWINGS MILLS -- The Ravens deep running back group grew a little thinner – at least temporarily – on Thursday as rookie Kenneth Dixon left the first training camp practice after tweaking his left knee and Lorenzo Taliaferro was placed on the preseason physically-unable-to-perform list with a lingering foot injury.

Dixon had been very active in the noncontact practice, especially as a pass catcher. But as he caught one pass near the left sideline in an 11-on-11 drill, he was inadvertently bumped out of bounds by linebacker Patrick Onwauasor and fell hard to the ground. Dixon was slow to get up and was ultimately helped off the field by Justin Forsett and a trainer.

Dixon has “a slight thing with the knee,” coach John Harbaugh said after practice. “He should be fine.”

Taliaferro sustained a foot injury last year and had surgery that ultimately ended his season in October.

"Not that there's a big issue with it," Harbaugh said of Taliaferro's foot, "but it's not quite there yet."

Entering his third season, Taliaferro is fighting for a roster spot after missing 16 of 32 games over his first two seasons. Forsett, Buck Allen and Dixon all appear to be locks to make the team, leaving Taliaferro competing for a potential fourth running spot with Terrance West and perhaps Trent Richardson, though he, too, is injured.

Taliaferro joins five other Ravens who had previously been placed on the preseason PUP list – receivers Steve Smith and Breshad Perriman, linebackers Elvis Dumervil and Terrell Suggs, and Richardson.

Players can be activated from the PUP list and return to practice at any time during training camp. If they begin the regular season on the PUP list, they must sit out the first six games.

In addition to Taliaferro’s absence, three players sat out Thursday's practice because they haven’t passed the conditioning test: wide receiver Mike Wallace, cornerback Jerraud Powers and newly signed wide receiver Dobson Collins.

RELATED: FLACCO ISN'T WORRIED ABOUT INJURIES AFFECTING HIS POST NFL LIFE