Late For Work 6/6: Ochocinco To Reed: Cut The Afro

And ‘Face of Franchise’ theory hurts Flacco; Clev. writer says Gaither doesn’t fit Browns.

Posted by Sarah Ellison on Monday, June 6th, 2011 at 9:30 am | Categories: Late For Work, Sarah Ellison

Ochocinco To Reed: Cut The Afro

Well, well, look who finally joined Twitterverse: Ravens All-Pro safety Ed Reed (@TwentyER).

Reed visited Charm City this weekend to toe the rubber at Oriole Park at Camden Yards for the O’s-Blue Jays ceremonial first pitch on Friday.

His first tweet came from the stadium later that evening: “Threw the first pitch out tonight at O’s game but im right next door to m&t unlock the gates.”

As can be seen from the fan YouTube video below, which captures Reed’s toss, the Ravens safety is sporting a cleaner, sleeker hairdo than the one we were accustomed to seeing last season.

Obviously Bengals receiver Chad Ochocinco hadn’t seen the new-look Reed. It didn’t take long for the tweetaholic to track down Reed, offering a strange welcome to the world of Twitter.

“Ed Reed, hello kind sir, put up a picture and cut off that damn Afro already,” Ochocinco wrote. “looking like you played in the movie #FiveHeartBeats”

“is there heart in the House tonight!” Reed replied, referring to one of the songs in the movie soundtrack. “Da Afro cut now Prince oochie.”

“Prince oochie?” I like that. I like that a lot. I think I’m going to have to start referring to the 11-year veteran that way.

Cleveland Columnist: Browns Not Interested In Gaither

It remains to be seen what type of free agent Jared Gaither will be.

General Manager Ozzie Newsome certainly doesn’t count Gaither out of Baltimore.

But now that agent Drew Rosenhaus has declared his client “totally healed” from the upper-back injury that forced him to miss the entire 2010 season, expect increased speculation on where Gaither could end up if he hits the open market.

A reader asked Tony Grossi of the Cleveland Plain Dealer if the Browns would be interested in pursuing Gaither as an upgrade at their right tackle position.

“[Gaither has] missed 21 games the past two years with a variety of injuries, including a serious back ailment,” Grossi responded. “Reportedly he wants to play left tackle so that he could command more money in free agency. I don’t see the Browns being interested in Gaither.”

Flacco Suffers From ‘Face Of The Franchise’ Theory

It’s a question that plagues many Ravens fans’ minds.

“Why does Joe Flacco get so little respect around the league and Matt Ryan gets much more praise?” asked Steven Velte from Baltimore.

It is a puzzling phenomenon, especially when considering the two quarterbacks, who were both drafted in the first round in 2008, have similar regular-season statistics but Flacco (4-3) has enjoyed more success in the postseason than Ryan (0-2).

While the answer is somewhat unclear, ESPN’s James Walker offers an intriguing hypothesis.

“I do have a ‘face of the franchise’ theory involving these two quarterbacks,” wrote Walker. “Both players are very close at this stage of their careers, but the difference is Flacco is not the face of the Ravens. Ray Lewis is. After that there’s Ed Reed, Terrell Suggs, Haloti Ngata, etc.

“For the Falcons, Ryan is the face of the franchise. So I think he gets much more publicity and credit for his team’s success, despite their statistics being almost identical the past three seasons.”

The Falcons don’t possess the same star power as the Ravens, but will that change over the next year or two? Somebody thinks it might …

Williamson Says Ravens’ Defense Not Elite

ESPN’s Matt Williamson believes the Ravens defense isn’t far off from being one of the best in the league, but isn’t necessarily elite either.

The Scouts Inc. analyst supported “The Face of the Franchise” theory by saying many people give the Ravens’ defense credit for being THE best just because 12-time Pro Bowler Ray Lewis is still playing.

“Ed Reed, Haloti Ngata, Terrell Suggs are great players. Ray Lewis isn’t far off and is still very effective,” Williamson told the Baltimore Sun’s Matt Vensel. “But defensively, I don’t think they’re elite. I think people kind of see the colors, see Ray out there and think, ‘OK, this is one of the best defenses in the league.’ I don’t think that’s the case.”

Williamson said it’s hard to predict when Lewis and Reed will no longer be effective enough to lead the defense. While Lewis is getting up there in age at 36 and Reed has been battling through injuries the past few seasons, both make up for their physical limitations with mental intelligence.

“Reed’s injury issues worry me and he has already mentioned retirement in his young career, so that’s a little bit frightening,” Williamson said. “I think Ray, athletically, took a step back last year. Will he take another one? Who knows? That’s an awful hard thing to predict from a scouting perspective because you watch him on tape and you say, ‘Boy, these are still two really good players, especially Reed.’

“Is next year going to be the year they hit the cliff? I don’t know. I think with their instincts — some of these players are so reliant on physical gifts, that when those gifts deteriorate, so does the player — but these two guys are … going to make up for that slight lack of quickness and that slight lack of speed with extremely sharp minds.”

Rice Having ‘Extremely Good Offseason’

If you are a faithful Ravens Twitter follower, you can attest that running back Ray Rice has taken only a few days off from his workout routine during the NFL lockout. He’s determined to be ready to play football whenever he’s given the chance.

Getting a glimpse of Rice at the player-only workouts at Towson University over a week ago, The Baltimore Sun’s Ken Murray believes the four-year veteran’s hard work is paying off.

“Rice looked sharp, quick and in condition during the first day of drills, when the media was allowed to watch,” wrote Murray.

Beyond keeping in shape, Rice told Murray he is having “an extremely good offseason” because he is working with kids from his hometown of New Rochelle, N.Y.

“I try to stay positive,” Rice said. “A lot of things I’ve been doing during this lockout is impacting kids’ lives. And I don’t even preach NFL to them. I preach school, I preach daily life to them. Where I’m at in my career, obviously I’m able to impact these kids’ lives.

“Let’s just say, if there was no more football, will I be in the Hall of Fame? No. Would I be in the record books? No. But will people know Ray Rice is a great person and a great football player? Yes. And I will use that opportunity to go out and impact kids’ lives and let them know that you can go out and dream.”

Quick Hits

  • SportsNation asked fans who the bigger villain in Cleveland is: LeBron James or Art Modell? Clevelanders can’t seem to let go of their bitterness toward Modell. With 4,095 votes, the former Browns owner leads the voting by 54 percent with James getting a close 46 percent. [ESPN]
  • LWebb21: I had a wonderful time @Ben_Grubbs501c3 celebrity softball game today. Thanks for inviting me bruh. [Twitter]
  • Former Ravens kicker Matt Stover addressed scholarship recipients at M&T Bank Stadium on Friday, emphasizing integrity and a willingness to work. [The Baltimore Sun]
  • Several members of the Ravens’ personnel department, including Eric DeCosta and George Kokinis, held a youth football camp at M&T Bank Stadium, providing instruction in football skills and life lessons.  Ravens Director of Player Development Harry Swayne joined, as well. [Carroll County Times]
  • Will this debate ever end? Kurt Warner gives his two cents on who the better safety is: Reed or Steelers’ Troy Polamalu.  ”As a quarterback, when the ball is in the air, I take Ed Reed because he’s a ball hawk. Before the ball gets in the air, I take Troy Polamalu because he changes the complexion of how a quarterback has to see the game. … So [Troy] may get a little bit of an edge from me.” [NFL Network]
  • The unveiling of the player-voted Top 100 Players of 2011 continues. Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger came in at No. 41, making Dave Dameshek and Adam Rank “hit anger Level 5.” What do you think of our AFC North rival’s ranking? []
  • AdamSchefter: Think about what Plaxico Burress must be feeling now that he is one day away from rejoining his family and being released from prison. [Twitter]

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