Ravens say hands off to Lombardi Trophy - for now

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Ravens say hands off to Lombardi Trophy - for now

NEW ORLEANS (AP) The Baltimore Ravens don't want to have anything to do with the Vince Lombardi Trophy - unless they earn the right to hoist it after the Super Bowl.

Asked Wednesday whether he's considered how great it would be to grasp the trophy after Sunday night's game against the San Francisco 49ers, Ravens coach John Harbaugh scoffed at the suggestion.

``I have given no thought to that,'' he said. ``You don't earn the right to even think about that until you've won the football game and become the one true champion. We're not the one true champion at this point. We're going to fight like crazy to earn that award.''

Last week, CBS brought a faux Lombardi Trophy to the Ravens' training facility and asked each player to pose with the hardware.

Linebacker Ray Lewis nixed the idea.

``I told my team, don't ever take pictures with nothing that's not yours, nothing that you haven't earned,'' Lewis said. ``When we hold that Lombardi, whoever holds that Lombardi next Sunday, you've earned it when you touch it. And don't fool yourself and try to trick yourself (by saying), `This feels great.' Don't go through that. I don't believe in jinxes and all that, I just believe in don't set yourself up for something. Just really work for it.''

Lewis grasped the coveted trophy in 2001, after the Ravens beat the New York Giants 34-7 for their only Super Bowl win. That trophy is prominently displayed at the entrance to the team's training complex.

Running back Ray Rice, who is playing in his first Super Bowl, has no desire to hold the trophy until the Ravens earn it.

``We have to work to get that,'' he said. ``I don't want to see the Super Bowl trophy unless it's rightfully ours.''

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TEAM GLEASON: Steve Gleason sure knows how to get people's attention.

The former special teams player - a hero in New Orleans since he blocked a punt for a touchdown in the Saints' first home game after Hurricane Katrina - was accompanied by a brass band and some famous friends as he made the rounds at the Super Bowl media center Wednesday to raise awareness for The Team Gleason House for Innovative Living. The house, located near New Orleans' BioDistrict, uses cutting-edge technology to help people with incurable neuro-muscular disorders like ALS or MS live more independently.

Gleason was diagnosed in January 2011 with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, which causes gradual paralysis.

``This disease, for far too long, has been left underfunded and ignored,'' said former Saints linebacker Scott Fujita, who has remained good friends with Gleason. ``That is not acceptable. That's just not acceptable. ... That is the challenge, to get this on people's radar.''

Gleason's appearance Wednesday was a start. Fujita, New Orleans mayor Mitch Landrieu and political pundits James Carville and Mary Matalin joined Gleason at a news conference to celebrate Chase Bank's $350,000 grant to Team Gleason House. A new public service announcement featuring Drew Brees, Aaron Rodgers, Ray Lewis, Clay Matthews and Herm Edwards also was unveiled.

Using an eye-controlled computer, Gleason gave a speech and answered questions. He had the audience in tears and, a few minutes later, roaring with laughter. Similar technology will let residents at Team Gleason control lights, doors, window shades, televisions and room temperature.

``A terminal disease can really mess with your mind. Honestly, it makes you want to run away to the moon,'' Gleason said. ``I did not want to fade away quietly.''

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SAFETIES SHINE: While several talented linebackers could be a big focus in the Super Bowl, the last line of defense for each team is filled with big-play stars.

``All four safeties in the scheme are four of the premier safeties in football,'' Harbaugh said.

For Baltimore, it's free safety Ed Reed and strong safety Bernard Pollard. San Francisco's side features Dashon Goldson and Donte Whitner.

It's a tossup which team has more talent.

Ravens receiver Jacoby Jones is impressed by all four of them.

``Ed, of course, is the greatest and Bernard Pollard,'' he said. ``Look at their side, No. 38 (Goldson), me and him came out together and played together in the East-West Shrine Game. He actually played corner in college. He's got good ball skills. And 31 (Whitner), him and Pollard are just alike, smash-mouth.''

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TOUCHDOWN, MOSS: Guess who burned Baltimore cornerback Cary Williams for his first NFL touchdown? That would be Randy Moss, the guy who will be on the other side of the ball again Sunday.

Williams was playing for Tennessee in October 2009 when Moss scored on a 40-yard flea flicker, the first of his three touchdowns in a 59-0 rout.

So, Williams isn't about to question whether Moss still has it at age 35 - even if he's no longer the dynamic receiver of his early days in the NFL.

``He's a guy who can get over top the defense at any moment,'' Williams said. ``He's a threat out there regardless. Randy Moss introduced me to the NFL.''

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NO VACATION: Ravens linebacker and special teams standout Brendon Ayanbadejo learned a valuable lesson when he played in the Super Bowl with Chicago after the 2006 season.

``My last Super Bowl experience was in Miami, and we were kind of happy just to be there,'' he recalled. ``It's like a vacation, You get there, you're enamored, you're in Miami and your team made it.''

It did not end well: Indianapolis 29, Bears 17.

``If you want to go to a Super Bowl and you want to enjoy it, wait until you're not playing,'' Ayanbadejo said. ``That's the mentality of this team. It's all about business, it's all about winning. After we win the game, then we'll enjoy it.''

One of these days, he hopes to savor the Super Bowl experience without having to think about the game.

``In the future, when you're retired and after the Ravens have won five Super Bowls in a row and you've got a ring on every finger,'' he said, ``then you can go to the Super Bowl as a fan and you can enjoy it and do the night life and the parties and all the things afterward.''

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AP Sports Writers Janie McCauley and Nancy Armour contributed to this report.

Ravens CB Jimmy Smith having surgery to remove screws from foot

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Ravens CB Jimmy Smith having surgery to remove screws from foot

Ravens cornerback Jimmy Smith is scheduled to have surgery this weekend to have screws removed from the right foot he injured in 2014, according to the Baltimore Sun, and confirmed by CSN. The Ravens hope Smith will be ready for the start of training camp in late July, and the expected timetable for recovery is four to six weeks.

Smith was never 100 percent last season, but played through pain and discomfort, after suffering his Lisfranc injury in November of 2014.

“It’s definitely a difficult injury, kind of more than I expected,” Smith said earlier this month at the start of the Ravens’ offseason training program. “It’s very…you can live with it, you can play with it. Obviously, I played with it last year – not at the level that I expected myself to – but I think I’ll be better this year.”

The Ravens were already in the market for cornerbacks, and that will not change when the draft resumes Friday night. Despite re-signing Shareece Wright and getting Kyle Arrington to restructure his contract, the starting cornerback spot opposite Smith is open, and the Ravens need more depth there, especially with Lardarius Webb moving from corner to safety.

 

 

Will Ravens use extra picks to make trades in NFL Draft rounds 2 and 3?

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Will Ravens use extra picks to make trades in NFL Draft rounds 2 and 3?

With eight picks remaining in the draft, including the fifth pick in the second round (No. 36 overall), the Ravens are just getting started making moves. Here are three reasons why the Ravens might make a trade Friday night during round 2 or round 3:

1. The Ravens need to strengthen their chances of getting a quality pass rusher or corner.

If the Ravens want a corner or pass rusher who can step in and contribute next season, it’s getting late. Before the draft, Ravens assistant general manager Eric DeCosta said he felt more pressure thinking about the second-round pick (No. 36) than he did the first round. The Ravens won’t sit around and wait if they sense all the players they covet slipping away. Don’t be surprised to see the Ravens trade up in either Round 2 or 3 to target a player they want. Corners still on the board include Mackensie Alexander of Clemson, Kendall Fuller of Virginia Tech, Xavien Howard of Baylor, and Cyrus Jones of Alabama. Pass rushers on the board include Kamalei Correa of Boise St. and Noah Spence of Eastern Kentucky. The third round could be too late to get any of those players.

2. The chance to get UCLA inside linebacker Myles Jack makes the start of Round 2 even more fluid.

Jack is a first-round talent who is only available due to concerns about his knee. Many teams, including the Ravens, could be thinking about picking Jack, or trading up to get him.

3. If the Ravens keep all of their picks, all nine players are unlikely to make the team.

The Ravens already have a crowded roster at several positions, including running back and tight end. They will also bring in more free agents once the draft is over. It makes sense to trade a pick or two, in exchange for a player who helps them next season.

Five potential Ravens targets in the second round of the NFL Draft

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Five potential Ravens targets in the second round of the NFL Draft

The Ravens will be on the clock early again on Friday night, scheduled to pick fifth in the second round, at No.  36 overall. After taking Notre Dame tackle Ronnie Stanley with their first pick at No. 6 overall, the Ravens could turn to the defense in the second round, and there is a lot of defensive talent still on the board.

Ravens assistant general manager Eric DeCosta said on Thursday night that the Ravens expect to get a first-round talent with their second pick.

"We love the top 36 players in this draft," DeCosta said. "So we're going to get an outstanding player. ... We're very, very confident that at 36 we're going to get a guy that we feel like is a first-round type talent."

So who might that be? Here, in alphabetical order, are a few candidates that could be in play when the Ravens are on the clock:

CB Mackensie Alexander, Clemson

The Ravens couldn't trade up for Jalen Ramsey, so they remain in the market for cornerback help. Alexander has shutdown capabilities though there are concerns about his height (5-10) matching up with elite receivers on the outside. Ravens assistant GM Eric DeCosta predicted a run on cornerbacks between picks 25 and 40, and Alexander figures in that equation.

OLB Kamalei Correa, Boise State

An early entry to the draft, Correa had 12 sacks as a sophomore at Boise State and then seven this past season. Correa (6-3, 243) has played defensive end and linebacker but is considered best suited as an edge rusher in a 3-4 defense.

CB Kendall Fuller, Virginia Tech

Kendall is about to become the fourth Fuller brother to be drafted, and he could find his way back to his hometown Ravens. A knee injury early last season knocked Fuller out of the first round, but he's a first-round talent when healthy and would be a nice fit for the Ravens.  

LB Myles Jack, UCLA

Wait a minute, he's still around? Yes, Jack had been mentioned as a Ravens first-round pick in many mock drafts, but concerns about his knee -- which he exacerbated by mentioning the possibility of microfracture surgery -- sent him tumbling down draft boards. Still, he's a potential top-10 talent who is still available.

DE Noah Spence, Eastern Kentucky

Spence is the type of edge rusher the Ravens have said they covet. He had eight sacks as a sophomore at Ohio State. But off-the-field issues remain his biggest question mark; he was booted from Ohio State because of failed drug tests and tried to boost his draft stock by transferring to Eastern Kentucky, where he recorded 11 1/2 sacks last year.