Ravens will need more than emotion to beat Denver

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Ravens will need more than emotion to beat Denver

OWINGS MILLS, Md. (AP) Fueled with emotion from the impending retirement of Ray Lewis and a fervent home crowd, the Baltimore Ravens dispatched the Indianapolis Colts in the opening round of the AFC playoffs.

It's going to take more than just unbridled enthusiasm to knock off the top-seeded Denver Broncos on Saturday.

In defeating Indianapolis 24-9 on Sunday, the Ravens (11-6) drew inspiration from a crowd that never stopped cheering before, during and after Lewis' final home game. The standout middle linebacker intends to retire after Baltimore's playoff run, and the Ravens had no intention of seeing Lewis end his 17-year career with a home loss.

``It had to have an impact. The emotions were real,'' coach John Harbaugh said Monday. ``It was tangible. We all felt it.''

Now, however, the Ravens take to the road to face the Broncos (13-3), who have won 11 straight - including a 34-17 rout in Baltimore on Dec. 16. The Ravens should have plenty of spirit left from Sunday, but Harbaugh isn't necessarily counting on it.

``There's probably an element that we'll carry forward because you're always building on what you are,'' he said. ``Hopefully we take all the things that happened and we take it into that game emotionally and carry it with us. But this is a new game. It's a whole new environment. It's a whole new situation for us. So I think the slate is wiped clean in that sense. This will be a new challenge for us.''

And what a challenge it is. Not only do the Broncos own the best record in the AFC, but they're coming off a bye and playing at altitude against a team they've already beaten handily. Oh, and there's also the matter of Peyton Manning, who's 2-0 lifetime against Baltimore in the postseason.

Manning vs. Ray Lewis with everything on the line. It doesn't get much better than that.

``They are always classic,'' Lewis said. ``It's just one of those chess matches. He knows me very well. I know him very well. ... But at the end of the day, it's not about me and me and Peyton. It's about their team against our team. I love our team right now.''

And the Ravens, in turn, love their leader. All the players, as well as the coaching staff, savored the once-in-a-lifetime scene at M&T Bank Stadium on Sunday.

``The crowd was incredible. It was one of those historic moments that anybody that was there is never going to forget,'' Harbaugh said. ``I was so proud of our fans, so pleased that we all have something that we will be able to talk to our kids and our grandkids about - a Baltimore football moment that's going to live on. That's kind of why you do this, to be part of moments like this.''

Lewis was in the middle of it all, playing for the first time in 12 weeks after being sidelined with a torn right triceps. He returned to lead the Ravens with 13 tackles and provided his usual unyielding leadership.

``He played well. He was physical at the point of attack, he did a good job in the pass game,'' Harbaugh said. ``He held up pretty well.''

When the Ravens faced Denver last month, the Broncos raced to a 31-3 lead and coasted to the finish. But Baltimore played that game without Lewis, safety Bernard Pollard, guard Marshal Yanda and tight end Ed Dickson. All will be available Saturday.

``It's got to be a positive,'' Harbaugh said. ``We're more full strength now than we've ever been all year. So it's the right time to be healthy, and I'm hoping those guys will have a big impact.''

In other news, the Ravens cut linebacker Sergio Kindle from the practice squad Monday. Kindle was the 43rd overall pick in the 2010 draft, but spent his entire rookie season on the reserve/non-football injury list after fracturing his skull while falling down a flight of stairs. He played in one game last year and one game this season.

``It was kind of mutually agreed upon between the two of us,'' Harbaugh said of the move. ``He's hoping for an opportunity somewhere where he can maybe take the next step.''

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Reynolds says he committed "sin" of asking ex-Steeler for advice

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Reynolds says he committed "sin" of asking ex-Steeler for advice

OWINGS MILLS – Nobody has to tell Ravens rookie Keenan Reynolds about the intensity of the Ravens-Steelers rivalry. Reynolds admitted Friday that when seeking advice on switching from quarterback in college to wide receiver in the NFL, he asked former Steelers star Hines Ward for advice.

“I know that’s like a cardinal sin in this building,” Reynolds said after his first day of Ravens rookie minicamp. “We got to talk before the draft, to ease everybody’s mind.”

Ravens fans will certainly forgive Reynolds, especially if Ward offers helpful hints. He has also been consulting former Washington Redskin and current CSN analyst Brian Mitchell, which could help him progress as well.

As a sixth-round pick, Reynolds hopes to make an immediate impact as a receiver-returner with the Ravens, after a brilliant career playing quarterback at Navy.

Reynolds got encouraging news off the field this week, when Secretary of the Navy, Ray Mabus, said he would do everything in his power to make sure Reynolds’ Navy commitments would not interfere with playing for the Ravens.

Reynolds said he had not received a further update on the Navy’s plans for him. But a precedent for Reynolds playing NFL football right away has already been set. Patriots long snapper Joe Cordona, who was Reynolds’ teammate at Navy, played his entire rookie season with New England last year while also working at a Naval Preparatory Academy in Rhode Island.

Cordona has been a sounding board for Reynolds.

“I’ve been blowing his phone up this whole process,” Reynolds said. “I was blowing him up on draft day. He has really helped, and his experience, obviously, being able to serve and play, has been really helpful.”

Reynolds has known for months that his NFL future would probably not be at quarterback.

“When I got invited to the (East-West) Shrine game, I saw that I wasn’t a quarterback anymore,” said Reynolds, who was listed as a running back for that game.

But Reynolds is not complaining, and he knows many people are rooting for him.

“This is an opportunity to pursue the dream at the next level, and I’m embracing it with everything I can,” Reynolds said.

Ravens assign jersey numbers, Ronnie Stanley to wear No. 79

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Ravens assign jersey numbers, Ronnie Stanley to wear No. 79

OWINGS MILLS -- For football jersey lovers, the Ravens have assigned numbers to their 11 draft picks. They are as follows:

6 – WR Keenan Reynolds

43 – CB Tavon Young

48 – RB Kenneth Dixon

49 – CB Maurice Canady

51 – OLB Kamalei Correa

72 – OT Alex Lewis

79 – OT Ronnie Stanley

81 – WR Chris Moore

91 – OLB Matt Judon

92 – DE Bronson Kaufusi

Correa will be wearing the number worn by former Ravens inside linebacker Daryl Smith, who signed with the Buccaneers this offseason. Kaufusi will wear the number once worn by former Ravens Pro Bowl tackle Haloti Ngata.

Four more draft picks sign with Ravens, raising total to six

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Four more draft picks sign with Ravens, raising total to six

OWINGS MILLS -- The Ravens announced the signing of four more draft picks Friday -- OLB Kamalei Correa, DT Willie Henry, OT Alex Lewis, and WR Chris Moore.

That meant six of the 11 Ravens’ 11 draft picks were under contract at the start of Friday’s two-day rookie minicamp. OLB Matt Judon and RB Kenneth Dixon had already signed.

Correa was drafted in the second round, the first of three players the Ravens targeted to improve their pass rush. Lewis, a fourth-rounder, is expected to compete for a backup spot at either tackle position. Moore is a deep threat wide receiver who has a chance to earn immediate playing time. Henry is a run-stopping defensive lineman who has a chance to be part of the defensive tackle rotation.

First-round pick, left tackle Ronnie Stanley, still had not signed as of early Friday afternoon. However, first-round signings traditionally take the longest.

The Ravens also announced the signing of 11 undrafted free agents:

G Jarell Broxton, Baylor

DT Travon Coley, Florida Atlantic

C Anthony Fabiano, Harvard

ILB  Cavellis Luckett, Middle Tennessee St.  

K Will Lutz, Georgia St.

OT Stephane Nembot, Colorado

OLB Victor Ochi, Stony Brook

OLB Mario Ojemudia, Michigan

ILB Patrick Onwuasor, Portland St.

DT Michael Pierce, Samford

C Matt Skura, Duke