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The Ravens made a decision to go with Tandon Doss and Brandon Stokley ahead of Deonte Thompson even though he's a more explosive athlete. They felt like they had enough speed outside with Torrey Smith and Jacoby Jones, who's healthy and playing well now, and needed more route-runners and pass-catching complementary receivers. They're paying Stokley a total of $1.005 million so they want to get something out of him and he's a reliable slot receiver. Now that he's healthy, it's affected Deonte's role. I think everything is up for grabs with the receiver position going forward and another offseason of change could be in store at the position other than Torrey Smith remaining in place as the mainstay
Ready for all your questions, guys. Thanks. Just got back from open locker room and Ravens cornerback Jimmy Smith told me he's feeling fine after going through the concussion testing protocol, all set for Sunday against the Vikings. Jimmy said he was never knocked out during the collision with Le'Veon Bell.
Yes, it's a fairly safe assumption. Here's what I've been hearing about the tackle situation: Oher felt low-balled during preliminary contract talks that never really got off the ground last year. Now, that he's going to be an unrestricted free agent and he hasn't had a banner season, he's most likely heading elsewhere. The Ravens intend to try to sign Eugene Monroe to a long-term deal. They like him and feel good about his future. They know it won't be inexpensive, though. This is a deal they really need to get done especially after expending fourth-round and fifth-round draft picks to the Jaguars to acquire him via a trade. All signs point toward him returning. He likes it here. His wife is from Maryland and this is one deal that the Ravens know they need to get done.
I should add there's no current contract talks for Eugene Monroe, Terrell Suggs, who's contract expires after the 2014 season, Dennis Pitta or anyone else at this time. It's quiet on the negotiating front and they have only about $1.5 million in salary-cap space right now for the 2013 fiscal year
I'm hearing there's an excellent chance he plays on a limited basis Sunday. I don't think they'll activate him until Saturday afternoon. Everything has gone well in practice and the surgically-repaired hip is progressing well with minimal soreness. It's going to come down to how Dennis feels and how comfortable he is going out there. Right now, he's on schedule to play and I would expect him to have a small pass-catching role. The Ravens like what they've seen from him in team drills this week and there's been no setbacks. They briefly contemplated having him play against the Steelers, but it was judged to be too soon with no team work and only individual drills the previous two weeks of practice. So, this looks like a good game for him to knock some rust off and expand his role later on. Barring something changing, I would be surprised if he's not active by Saturday and then playing a little bit on Sunday against the Vikings.
Good question. The timing of those plays aren't in sync at all and Ray Rice hasn't made people miss often on screens. He had some success in overtime against the Cincinnati Bengals. It's a play that normally works well when you have an elusive back, but he hasn't been elusive this season. The changes on the offensive line, which has been a makeshift group at times, probably affects the screen game.
I think Joe Flacco does benefit from having two deep threats on the field at the same time in Jacoby Jones and Torrey Smith, it opens up passing lanes for him and makes it difficult on the secondary. Jones' health and improved speed in recent weeks is the biggest difference. As far as Pitta, just answered that one, but he looks good for Sunday, barring any unexpected change. Limited role.
I feel differently. I really don't think Mike Tomlin is that impulsive or dumb to risk his reputation to intentionally get in the way. There's apparently plenty of video that he did this repeatedly this season with his back turned and watching the Jumbotron. I do think it looks bad, it's, as he said, embarrassing and $100,000 is a big fine. I disagree with punishing the Steelers with any potential draft pick loss or modification. That, to me, is going too far. He's paid a lot in terms of damage to his reputation and a six-figure fine. I just don't think he meant to do it. I can't say I know him well, but have talked to him at league meetings and consider him to be a nice guy. From the Pittsburgh reporters that know him well like Ed Bouchette of the Post-Gazette, they told me they would be shocked if he meant to do that. They feel like he's way too sharp and sportsmanlike to do it. Nothing in his past suggests that he would try to interfere and risk injuring a player. I just don't buy it. I don't think smiling later or the path he walks shows intent.
The Vikings are vulnerable in several areas, including their pass defense. They're giving up 287 yards per game and rank 30th in pass defense, 30th in total defense. They're not great against the run, either, allowing 120.6 yards on the ground per game to rank 23rd. Their best attributes are their pass-rushers, Jared Allen, Brian Robison and Everson Griffen. It's not a very stout defense generally and Chris Cook has been beaten deep lately.
They have done far less zone blocking for the past several weeks. Every team zone-blocks. It just was made a huge priority early in the season by run-game coordinator Juan Castillo. They've been back to more of an old-school, straight-forward blocking scheme for several games led by offensive line coach Andy Moeller. Every team always zone blocks, at least a little, so it will be part of the blocking scheme next season. I doubt they ever go back to using it as much as they did earlier in the season.
Yes, they could afford to retain James Ihedigbo. I think a modest one-year to two-year deal is appropriate. He's solidified the strong safety spot, but one thing to keep in mind, Matt Elam has proven this year that he would be a much more natural fit at strong safety. It's like they're playing with two strong safeties now. They have to decide if he's the future at free safety or if they need to put him at strong safety and get another free safety, perhaps in the draft. If that's the case, then they wouldn't have room for Ihedigbo. At this point, I think he's earned a job for next year
OK, thanks guys for all the questions and thanks Aaron for checking in and answering them.
Thanks, guys. Talk to you soon