Thursday, July 26, 2007

RAVENS PONDERINGS PRIOR TO CAMP...J.O. TO THE PUP LIST


As fans of the Baltimore Ravens we have for years yearned to have our own Tom Brady or Peyton Manning. Then we settled for our very own Steve McNair.

But the years of incompetent play at the position has left us all with a burning desire to anoint our quarterback of the future. We want to somehow find that diamond in the rough, that black swan, that 6th round pick that can lead us to a handful of Lombardis. And because of that pang in our collective heart we are all too willing to overlook flaws and focus on the positives of a young quarterback.

Many fretted the departures of Josh Harris (now in the AFL) and Derek Anderson. Now some have their knickers in a twist over the release of the great Cullen Finnerty.

There’s a name for QB’s like Finnerty – fodder.

Finnerty was nothing more than an extra arm during OTA’s. He enabled the Ravens to execute their practice schedule. All those receivers and tight ends need arms to throw to them. Could the part-time OTA participant McNair, Boller and Troy Smith fill the air with enough footballs to satisfy?

Maybe but why deaden their arms so early in the season? There is a purpose for the Cullen Finnertys of the world and his purpose was served in Baltimore. Good luck Cullen. Enjoy Cleveland.

Another quarterback that could be on his way after the 2007 season is Kyle Boller. Some here in Charm City have written to me and asked if I thought the Falcons might be a good trading partner for the Ravens and Boller since Mike Vick might be caged and Joey Harrington has not been the answer for the Lions or Dolphins. Plus the Falcons are the proud owners of a few draft picks courtesy of their deal with the Texans that sent Matt Schaub on his way to Houston.

In a perfect world such a deal might make sense for the Ravens. But the world isn’t perfect and the last time I checked the Ravens starting QB isn’t exactly the iron man that Brett Favre is. The Ravens have high hopes for the 2007 campaign and if McNair is unavailable for a game here and there, Boller in a pinch certainly gives the club a better chance to win than Troy Smith.

Ah but you say Daunte Culpepper is available. Please put such delusions of grandeur up on the shelf never to be dusted off again. If Culpepper was still capable, would the Dolphins have let him go so easily after investing so much in him? Of course not! Look they replaced him with a washed up, twitchy deer-in-headlights QB in Trent Green and they spent their No. 2 pick on BYU QB John Beck.

Let Culpepper go somewhere else and play for a season – that is if someone even wants him, and then prove to us all next year that he’s fully recovered and ready to be the quarterback he once was. That said, I seriously doubt he’ll ever be the QB we watched in 2004. By the start of the 2008 campaign, he’ll be more than 3 seasons removed from that 39 touchdown season. No one asked me but I think he’s permanently removed from such a season.

Speaking of being removed, Jonathan Ogden will start summer camp on the P.U.P. list. It’s not a big deal really. For precautionary reasons Ogden hasn’t been an active participant in OTA’s and he missed nearly all of the preseason last year before going on to have one of his best seasons in the last three. And I can tell you now that his conditioning at this time compared to last year is vastly better.

Placing him on the P.U.P. list allows the Ravens to bring in another player to participate in practice. Keep in mind roster sizes are limited even during summer camp. It’s important to have bodies available so that all players get their required reps (hence the previous need for Cullen Finnerty).

Repetitions at right tackle are exactly what Adam Terry needs during camp. Last year Terry was supposed to compete with Tony Pashos for the right tackle job. That didn’t happen in part because Terry had to move over to assume Ogden’s position while he grieved the loss of his Dad. The Ravens won’t make that same mistake again. Expect Terry to be a fixture at right tackle while Mike Kracalik and even Jared Gaither take reps normally assigned to Ogden.

The acquisition of Gaither through the supplemental draft was in a way a perfect storm of sorts. While Gaither is far removed from a Rhodes Scholar, he was immediately and automatically labeled a flunky when he applied so late for the supplemental draft.

Keep in mind that Gaither did not have a very good workout for the scouts and some have said that his inability to do more than 17 reps of 225 pounds on the bench was in part due to his recovery from a shoulder injury. Yet some scouts overlooked that and added laziness to the list of strikes against Gaither.

Now when you take into consideration the tight window resulting from Gaither’s relatively late application for the supplemental, coupled with the injury and the flunky tag and the need to get him in for a physical, teams were reluctant to even take a mid round flyer in the supplemental draft on a player some thought might be a second round pick if he had played another season with the Terps. Factor in the pipeline to Maryland that starts with the philanthropic Steve Bisciotti on one end and Ralph Friedgen on the other, it’s no wonder that Gaither is now a Raven.

The Ravens relationship with the university coupled with favorable logistics that enabled Gaither to get into Owings Mills for a physical in a timely fashion worked in the Ravens favor. I’ve been told that Gaither’s workout in agility drills graded out better than any other Ravens lineman ever.

The physical tools are there. Let’s hope the Ravens have caught lightning in a bottle and not their answer to Sidney Ponson.

Regardless of what happens, the potential upside was clearly worth the blue light special price tag.

5 comments :

Anonymous said...

Good morning, Tony. I have to admit that I haven't given up on Boller, yet. Do you think that our younger, more athletic O-Line will offer him sufficient protection to push him to his potential? Has he demonstrated that no collection of protection will make up for poor footwork/bad decisions?

Anonymous said...

I beleive the fact Gaither will have this camp to workout with the offense, and a full year of strenght training with the Ravens will make him a good backup next year before camp begins. Good move for the Ravens to possibly secure their future left tackle (or it Terry doesn't pan out, a possible right tackle).

Anonymous said...

is anyone else fired up?

52decleetzu said...

Who the heck is Josh Green???

Dont you mean Josh Harris?? LMAO

Tony Lombardi said...

Was it that funny 52? Glad I could entertain...and thanks for the edit...it's fixed. Rave on!