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Late for Work 4/27: J. Smith: I Left ‘Good Impression’ on Harbs, Ozzie

Plus Mason plans visit to Castle, Flacco makes top-10 QB cut, agents pursue FA contracts.

Posted by Sarah Ellison on Wednesday, April 27th, 2011 at 9:00 am | Categories: Late For Work, Sarah Ellison


J. Smith: I Left ‘Good Impression’ on Harbs, Ozzie

University of Colorado cornerback Jimmy Smith has been on an NFL tour of sorts, visiting 11 franchises across the country, trying to convince each that the red flags surrounding him won’t be an issue going forward.

After visiting with Ravens General Manager Ozzie Newsome and Head Coach John Harbaugh, Smith walked away feeling like he may have accomplished that goal in Baltimore.

“They like me as a player,” Smith told Aaron Wilson of the Carroll County Times. “I think I made a good impression. When I asked them, they felt the same way."

Widely considered by analysts as the third-best cornerback in the NFL Draft, Smith was reportedly arrested twice for underage drinking and has failed multiple drug tests at Colorado.

Newsome has personal experience with taking a risk on a gifted young cornerback with character concerns, as he drafted Chris McAlister with the 10th-overall selection in the 1999 draft.

"[The Ravens] said I kind of had the same body type as him,” Smith explained. “They said he had all the potential, but he didn’t learn from his mistakes and could have still been playing a lot longer."

The 6-foot-2, 211-pounder believes he has already learned from his mistakes, however, and is grateful for the experiences that helped him mature quickly.

“I’m happy I got caught early because it made me mature now that I’m in the process of going to the NFL,” said Smith.  “I’m happy those things happened because I learned from it and grew from it. My level of maturity is so much greater now than when I first got to campus. … I’ve learned my lessons."

Confident in his abilities on the field, Smith believes his future team will benefit from a unique package of physicality, speed and cover skills.

"They’re going to get the best cornerback in the draft,” Smith declared. “Defensively, I bring a lot to the table: size, speed, ability to play like a 5-11 corner being 6-2. They need corners my size because of how big the receivers are getting these days. I can do everything a small corner can do."

Mason Plans Visit to Castle on Friday

The lockout was lifted, but no players reported to the Ravens training facility in Owings Mills yesterday.

Receiver Derrick Mason believes that will change by week’s end, however, and told The Baltimore Sun that he plans to visit the complex himself on Friday.

“I miss the place, I miss the people inside,” the receiver told Ken Murray.

Had Mason not been in Arizona participating in a week-long workout organized by quarterback Joe Flacco, the 14-year veteran said he would have paid a visit yesterday.

In fact, Mason believes location and circumstance are the reasons why his none of his teammates could report.

“A lot of people are not there [in the area],” he said. “A lot of them had in the back of their minds that this would go a long time. They are in other states working out. Before the end of the week, you’ll see guys starting to trickle in.”

Flacco Makes Top-10 QB Cut

Continuing its series of NFL positional power rankings, ESPN says Joe Flacco and Tony Romo are tied at No. 10 in their list for the league’s best quarterbacks.

Flacco received votes from four of the seven voters (6 divisional bloggers and senior writer John Clayton) who compile the rankings. AFC West blogger Bill Williamson gave Flacco his highest ranking at No. 9, but AFC North blogger James Walker didn’t think Flacco was worthy of a top-10 vote.

“I’ve watched more Flacco games in person than anyone on the panel and he didn’t make my top 10,” wrote Walker, who had both Romo and Matt Schaub ahead of the Ravens quarterback. “In three seasons, Flacco has yet to beat the Steelers when [Ben] Roethlisberger is at quarterback and needs to perform better in the postseason. Therefore, I cannot consider him elite.

“But I’ve liked Flacco’s skills from Day 1, and I believe he’s ready for a breakthrough season in his fourth year. He has a lot of natural ability, and once he combines that with more consistency and big-game performances, he will be dangerous.”

Below is ESPN’s quarterback power rankings:

1. Tom Brady, Patriots
2. Peyton Manning, Colts
3. Drew Brees, Saints
4. Aaron Rodgers, Packers
5. Ben Roethlisberger, Steelers
6. Philip Rivers, Chargers
7 (tie). Michael Vick, Eagles
7 (tie). Matt Ryan, Falcons
9. Eli Manning, Giants
10. (tie) Joe Flacco, Ravens
10. (tie) Tony Romo, Cowboys

NFLPA Tells Players to Start Contract Negotiations

The NFL Players Association sent a memo to players and agents, urging free agents to begin shopping their services and begin contract negotiations with teams. Players were encouraged to report any unwilling team for possible court violations.

Arguing federal judge Susan Richard Nelson’s ruling makes it mandatory for teams to begin free agency, the NFLPA said teams "would be in contempt of (a) court order" if they declined to negotiate player contracts.

The decertified union’s approach is in conflict with the NFL’s, which is seeking clarity on Nelson’s ruling and awaiting her ruling on its request for a stay, meaning the lockout would continue during their appeal process.

Agent David Canter said he was unsuccessful in contacting teams on behalf of his clients.

“Now have spoken to several teams – no one will deal because ‘we don’t know what rules we are functioning under,’” tweeted Canter. “Let’s be clear we DO NOT need rules nor a system in place in order to negotiate contracts with teams. That is what they claim but it isn’t true.”

But NFL Network’s Albert Breer says that trying to negotiate contracts without a defined set of rules puts teams in an awkward situation.

“This free-agency thing is a no-win for owners/GMs/coaches,” he tweeted. “Do it, they could be breaking rules. Don’t, and they’re charged w/collusion.”

Still confused? In the video below, SI.com’s Peter King gives an excellent and insightful 101 lesson on what the lifted lockout could mean for league business and the 2011 season.


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