Ravens' reputation for gab not yet displayed at SB

201301281706615842059-p2.jpeg

Ravens' reputation for gab not yet displayed at SB

NEW ORLEANS (AP) The Baltimore Ravens' reputation for trash-talking arrived at the Super Bowl before they did.

While the Ravens were en route from Baltimore to the Big Easy, the San Francisco 49ers were already preparing for war of words with the chattiest team in the NFL.

``Most teams don't really talk that much, but I've heard stories about them talking a lot,'' San Francisco guard Alex Boone said. ``Guys have told me not to get into it with them. We're not here to get into a yelling match.''

That might change a bit Sunday when both teams play for the NFL championship at the Superdome.

The Ravens developed their swagger years ago under coach Brian Billick, who rarely backed away from a microphone and made no effort to put a muzzle on his players, most notably Shannon Sharpe and Tony Siragusa - both of whom are now being paid to blab as television commentators.

Baltimore's current coach, John Harbaugh, doesn't encourage such brashness. But he won't stop it, either. After the Ravens beat New England to win the AFC championship, Baltimore safety Bernard Pollard insisted that Patriots quarterback Tom Brady should be fined for a leg-up slide even though Brady apologized afterward.

Linebacker Terrell Suggs topped that in an interview with Yahoo Sports, calling the Patriots ``arrogant'' and telling them ``to have fun at the Pro Bowl.''

Now that he's on football's biggest stage, Suggs has taken it down a few decibels, judging by his tone at Monday's media interviews. Here's a bulletin: He said nothing the 49ers might consider clipping from a newspaper and pinning to the bulletin board for motivation.

``I'm going to talk to you guys with the obligated time that I'm supposed to talk to you guys ... and I'm going to stick to that,'' Suggs said.

Asked if he might say something juicy later in the week, Suggs replied, ``Nothing I do is scripted. You've got to wait and see what I come up with.''

It might be worth the wait, although Harbaugh seems to think Suggs and the rest of the team will resist the temptation.

``Our guys are class guys. We'll play with character, we'll play with class,'' Harbaugh said. ``We'll be a tough, hard-nosed football team. That's the way we'll play. Before the game, after the game.''

That's not what the 49ers have heard.

``Talk is cheap. I'll leave it at that,'' linebacker NaVorro Bowman said. ``We've all got to play with those pads on. That's what does the talking for us.''

Linebacker Ray Lewis does much of the talking for the Baltimore defense. After leading the unit in an emotional chant following each pregame workout, Lewis yells the signals on the field and usually has something bold to say to an opponent he's dropped to the turf.

``Ray and Suggs, they like to talk a lot but they're great players, so it's kind of warranted,'' 49ers fullback Bruce Miller said.

``I think that's just the way they motivate their team,'' San Francisco cornerback Tarrell Brown added. ``Everybody feeds off that. Whatever works for them, that's good.''

When Lewis told his teammates earlier this month that he was going to retire after the current postseason run, Suggs thought the team's vocal leader was merely gearing up for another speech.

``He always talks to the team before the game, the middle of the season and going into the playoffs,'' Suggs said. ``I thought it was another day at the office, but he said some key words. It struck me. He said maybe it was time to start doing something else and it just kind of puzzled me and then it hit me. It really focused our team, not only to get it done for him, but just how precious this time and these moments are. You don't get these opportunities every day.''

Lewis may the most prolific talker on the team, but he's not the only one who enjoys yapping. As soon as they got off the plane from Baltimore, Suggs, Ray Lewis, Ed Reed, Matt Birk, Ray Rice and Joe Flacco were made available to the media.

While Lewis discussed, among other things, his pending retirement, his family and his love for God, Reed talked about everything from his training habits to his experience as a punt, pass and kick participant in New Orleans more than two decades ago.

None of it was going to get the 49ers riled up before Sunday's game, which is just the way Harbaugh likes it.

``I think we're very respectful of our opponents,'' the coach said. ``We always have been, and our opponents have respected us over the years. The team we're playing is built the same way. We've got a lot of respect for the 49ers. We've got a lot of respect for their coach, the coaching staff, their players, and I expect it to be played in that way.''

AFC North: Steelers LB James Harrison will return for 2016

ravensdraftrefframe_1.jpg

AFC North: Steelers LB James Harrison will return for 2016

The Ravens can expect to see Steelers outside linebacker James Harrison as an opponent again in 2016. Harrison confirmed on his Instagram account Monday that he would return for another season.

Harrison will turn 38 years old Wednesday (May 4), but he was still effective in 2015 with five sacks and 40 tackles playing in the Steelers’ linebacker rotation. With his announcement that he was returning, Harrison wrote “I’m feeling just like a fine wine. Getting better with age.”

Despite Harrison’s age, the Steelers believe they got younger and better on defense through the draft. Five of the Steelers’ seven picks were on defense – cornerback Artie Burns (first round), safety Sean Davis (second), defensive tackle Javon Hargrave (third round), outside linebacker Travis Feeney (sixth round), and inside linebacker Tyler Matakevich (seventh round).  

Clearly, there will be plenty of new names in the Ravens-Steelers rivalry, with both teams looking to get younger and faster. However, Harrison plans to be part of the mix for at least another season. The Ravens host the Steelers in Week 9, and visit the Steelers on Christmas afternoon.

MORE RAVENS: BISCIOTTI GETS HIS WISH WITH BOLSTERED PASS RUSH

Bisciotti gets his wish with draft class full of pass rushers

ravensdraftrefframe_1.jpg

Bisciotti gets his wish with draft class full of pass rushers

At the team's "State of the Ravens" end-of-season news conference, owner Steve Bisciotti made no bones about where he thought the Ravens needed to improve in 2016: rushing the passer.

So although Bisciotti didn't speak to the media after the draft, he had to be pleased with the results.

With two of their first three picks, the Ravens selected players who figure to pressure the quarterback -- Boise State linebacker Kamalei Correa and Brigham Young defensive end Bronson Kaufusi.

"They both have pass rush ability," coach John Harbaugh said. "They both get sacks, they are both high-motor players and high-energy pass rushers. These two guys are going to run to the ball. These two guys are going to run to the ball 100 miles an hour every single play. That’s really important on defense.”

The next day, the Ravens added Grand Valley State defensive end Matt Judon -- who had 20 sacks last year -- in the fifth round. Just for good measure, they also reportedly agreed to sign undrafted rookie linebacker Victor Ochi of Stony Brook, who led the Football Championship Subdivision with 13 sacks.

Harbaugh said after the draft that "I don't think it was a secret" that Bisciotti wanted the Ravens to upgrade the pass rush, "and we were able to fill (that need). I’m really fired up about that. I’m really excited about these guys getting to the quarterback.”

Bisciotti said in January that losing Terrell Suggs to a season-ending injury in Week 1 had a "domino effect" that greatly disrupted the defense. Elvis Dumervil was forced into more of a three-down role, and Courtney Upshaw never came close to replacing Suggs' sack numbers. Dumervil dropped from 17 sacks to six, and overall the Ravens dropped from 49 sacks in 2014 to 37 last season.

When the pass rush failed to pressure the quarterback, coverage linebackers or defensive backs were frequently exposed.

"I think I have a true appreciation of what pressure means, and so that’s what I think we need to do," Bisciotti had said in January. "I think we need to focus on our free agency and our draft, and I think we have to have multiple pass rushers in order to let everybody else be effective.”

Suggs turns 34 in October and is coming off his second major Achilles injury. Dumervil is 32. So the need to develop good young pass rushers is obvious. The Ravens hope they took a big step in that direction over the weekend.

MORE RAVENS: EVALUATING ALL FIVE 4TH-ROUND SELECTIONS

Will Ravens' record-setting fourth-round bonanza live up to the hype?

keenanreynoldsrefframe_1.jpg

Will Ravens' record-setting fourth-round bonanza live up to the hype?

Will the Ravens’ fourth-round haul live up to the hype?

No team in NFL history had ever made five fourth-round picks, and some felt the Ravens hit on all of them. ESPN draft analyst Todd McShay says, “This might be the best fourth round I’ve ever seen from a team.”

Here’s a closer look at how the five players the Ravens selected in Round 4 could fit in next season:

Tavon Young, CB, Temple (104th overall)

Young will compete for a nickel corner spot as a rookie. Barring injuries, the only certainty about the Ravens secondary is Jimmy Smith starting at one corner and Eric Weddle starting at safety. Young will compete for playing time with Shareece Wright, Kyle Arrington, Will Davis, and others. But if Young plays regularly as a rookie and helps them win games, it’s a steal.

Chris Moore, WR, Cincinnati (107)

Moore has legit deep speed, joining Breshad Perriman and Mike Wallace as receivers that can stretch the field for quarterback Joe Flacco. Think about it, the Ravens didn’t’ have Perriman, Wallace, or Moore on the field last season. If Moore has a strong training camp, the Ravens will find a way to get him some opportunities. Remember the big plays Torrey Smith and Jacoby Jones made during the Super Bowl year? The Ravens hope Wallace, Perriman, and Moore provide that kind of impact.

Alex Lewis, OT, Nebraska (130)

If the Ravens part with left tackle Eugene Monroe, Lewis could become the backup at left tackle behind first-round pick Ronnie Stanley. Lewis could also be the backup to right tackle Rick Wagner. Either way, Lewis could be one injury away from playing.

Willie Henry, DT, Michigan (132)

He’s the fourth-rounder with the hardest path to immediate playing time. The Ravens are deep at defensive tackle with Brandon Williams, Timmy Jernigan, and Carl Davis. But if Henry shows he can help as a run stopper, he’ll be part of the defensive line rotation.

Kenneth Dixon, RB, Louisiana Tech (134)

Some thought Dixon was the best pass-catching back in the draft. Justin Forsett will enter camp as the starter, but the Ravens want to keep him fresh. It’s a crowded running back group right now, but Buck Allen and Lorenzo Taliaferro both saw playing time as rookie running backs. Dixon will too, if he shows he’s ready to make plays.

MORE RAVENS: A WAY TOO EARLY NFL DRAFT TOP 10