Today is a very big and exciting day for Beltway sports fans as not only are our two local NFL teams teeing off their preseason games tonight, but the Orioles have also called up their #2 prospect. In somewhat shocking news the O’s called up Bowie SS Manny Machado today and he will most likely start in tonight’s series opener against the Royals. This was super unexpected because Machado wasn’t even doing that great in Bowie (hitting like .260) and after most of their recent prospects have disappointed in the majors, it was thought that they would take their time and let Manny mature as much as possible in the minors but I guess how many times do the O’s compete for the playoffs (once in 15 years apparently).
Today Ravens safety and future hall-of-famer Ed Reed announced on a Sirius radio show that he was not 100% committed to playing this season. I am not even a Ravens fan and I feel like I have heard this song and dance a million times already. Seems like every year for the past few years Reed contemplates retiring and talks about it openly in the media but every year he is back out there for the purple birds. Do I expect this year to be the same? Sure, he is owed 7.2 million dollars from the Ravens and he is still an excellent player in this league. I understand that as an NFL player you always have to be worried about your health but for the sake of Ravens fans I would think it would be smarter for him to keep these thoughts to himself. If I was a part of the Ravens fan base or organization I wouldn’t be too worried about this because like I said every year he comes out saying stuff like this it seems yet every year he is out there still performing at a high level for them. It may be a little disconcerting that a guy who is owed 7.2 million dollars isn’t necessarily “all in” but I think that as long as Reed is out there, he will be one of the best safeties in the game.
Current NFLPA President Dominonique Foxworth has went public that he has likely played his last NFL game at just 29, saying “I think that I’ve probably made the decision that I’m going to move forward and stop playing football.” This isn’t exactly a shock considering his retirement has been a discussion since he tore his ACL during training camp in 2010, but being a former Terp, Raven, Baltimore native (attended Western School of Technology in Catonsville) and genuinely impressive man, I think it bears mentioning.
None of us can relate to what it’s like to win 8 gold medals in one Olympics (He has 14 gold medals total) like Michael Phelps (cause no one else on Earth has done that) but we can all relate to his admiration of Baltimore Raven’s Linebacker Ray Lewis. Following the 2008 Olympic games in Beijing, Phelps told the Baltimore Sun that he was somewhat burned out and having some trouble getting motivated for the 2012 summer games in London. But since then he has got the chance to get to know the future hall of famer, hear his pep talks, and witness the passion he still has for his sport going into his 17th season. Being a Baltimore native, Phelps is a big Raven’s fan and speaks highly of charm city, saying; “Baltimore is my hometown, and it’s where I grew up. I’m always going to have a place there. I love Baltimore, I love being close to [where] the Ravens play.” He also added that he and Lewis are “good friends,” and that he loves to watch Ray play saying that watching him play “sends chills up my spine.” The fact that experiencing Ray’s passion up close reinvigorated Phelps desire in his sport shouldn’t be a surprise to Raven’s fans. I can say that even from my season ticket seats all the way up in section 552, seeing Ray down on the field gets me fired up, I can’t imagine what kind of effect he’d have face to face.
On Tuesday the Ravens helped their offense by bringing in former Texan’s speedster Jacoby Jones and helped their defense by extending the contract of hard hitting Benard Pollard. Jones was brought in on a 2 year $7 million contract to be the Raven’s number 3 receiver behind Anquan Boldin and Torrey Smith and possibly to be their return man. Jones is a 5 year NFL veteran who although never spectacular, has put up solid numbers for a number 3 receiver and been one of the better return men in the league. The last 3 seasons Jacoby has averaged just over 500 yards and nearly 4 tds. The Ravens will line him up on the outside oppisite Torrey Smith which will allow them to move Anquan Boldin to the inside in 3 wide sets as the slot receiver. Most Ravens fans will remember him fondly for his 2 fumbles in the playoff game against the Texans at M & T Bank Stadium this past January that ultimately led to Baltimore advancing to the AFC title game.
According to former Redskins GM and current 105.7 the fan radio personality Vinny Cerato, 2011 Defensive Player of the Year Terrell Suggs has suffered a torn Achilles tendon while playing in a pickup basketball game. The news has not yet been confirmed by TSizzle or the Ravens but the Ravens did release a statement saying “We are in contact with Terrell. He will see a specialist early next week, and we’ll know more at that time.” So there is certainly an injury of some kind. If that injury is in fact a torn Achilles tendon, the Ravens will likely be without Sizzle for the entire 2012 season. This is a devastating blow to a Baltimore team that was expected to be one of the top contenders to represent the AFC in the Superbowl this season. If there is any silver lining in this situation it’s that the Ravens opted to select an outside linebacker with their first pick in this year draft rather than a lineman or wide receiver as many hoped they would. That pick, Courtney Upshaw out of Alabama, will have to play at a high level this year to try and make up for the monumental loss of production with Suggs out. New defensive coordinator Dean Pees will have his work cut out for him this season to find a scheme that can still get pressure on the quarterback without his most potent rusher. To do that he will have to get big years out of 4th year pro Paul Kruger and 3rd year pro Sergio Kindle.