Late For Work 8/1: Did You Really Think Ozzie Was Relaxing?

Plus Rice tells Leach, “let the fun begin.” And is Le’Ron McClain done in Baltimore?

Posted by Ryan Mink on Monday, August 1st, 2011 at 9:30 am | Categories: Late For Work, Ryan Mink

Did You Really Think Ozzie Was Relaxing?

If anything, Sunday’s signing of Pro Bowl fullback Vonta Leach should show Ravens General Manager Ozzie Newsome isn’t relaxing. The man has a plan.

“Personally, I never believed anyone at the Castle was sitting around yawning and eating bonbons during all this,” wrote The Baltimore Sun’s Kevin Cowherd.

“I pictured Ozzie Newsome at his desk with his laptop glowing in front of him and a phone in each hand as he yakked nonstop with agents and other general managers. I figured the guy was so busy trying to make deals he was probably being fed intravenously and his eyes were twin slits from lack of sleep.”

That’s probably not that far off the truth.

According to multiple reports, the Denver Broncos, Dallas Cowboys, New York Giants and Houston Texans were all pushing to sign Leach. Newsome beat them all.

The Ravens have swiftly brought back two of their own big free agents in guard/tackle Marshal Yanda and cornerback Chris Carr. Adding Leach continues to boost the run game.

There’s still time left in free agency, and know Newsome is working every angle to make the most of the NFL’s $120 million salary cap.

Rice To Leach: ‘Let The Fun Begin’

Running back Ray Rice didn’t delay in showing his appreciation for the Ravens’ signing of Leach to a three-year deal.

let the fun begin,” Rice tweeted at Leach at 1:16 p.m. Sunday, immediately after news spread.

Leach responded: “already let’s get it

The Ravens finished in the top five in rushing in 2008 and 2009, but fell to 14th last year. They averaged 3.8 yards per carry, fifth-lowest in the NFL.

Not only was Rice excited to see how Leach’s addition will change that, local reporters also envision it making a big difference.

“For Ray Rice, running behind Leach will be like running behind a Greyhound bus,” The Sun’s Cowherd wrote. “Know this about Leach: His signing has instantly improved the Ravens’ offense.”

But not every media member was so pumped about the signing.

CBS Sports’ Pete Prisco was the lone voice of dissent, tweeting:

Harbaugh Discusses Ravens Camp

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First of all, it’s Vonta, not Vontae.

Second, the Ravens play in the AFC North. That means if you’re going to survive in your own division, you better be able to do two things: run the ball and be physical.

The new identity is the old identity,” Ravens Head Coach John Harbaugh said in an interview with the NFL Network’s Mike Mayock, before the Leach signing.

“Rough, tough, disciplined, blue-collar, mean, nasty guys. That’s how we’re going to play. That’s not going to change.”

Leach is the quintessential player for that attitude. And he’ll be a difference-maker – just ask Rice.

Is Le’Ron McClain Done In Baltimore?

Leach’s signing set the wheels in motion for many Ravens fans.

Does the signing of @vleach44 mean that #ravensnation has lost @LeRonMcClain33?,” asked @1WinningDrive Twitter follower Deuce_1Design.

It would be cool if you did a triple I formation w/ @vleach44 @LeRonMcClain33 & @RayRice27,” said Joesteiger.

McClain remains an unrestricted free agent. He’s looking for a running back role and wouldn’t mind sharing it with Rice. With Willis McGahee signing in Denver, Baltimore does have an opening in the backfield.

But local Baltimore reporters told Ravens fans they shouldn’t hold their breath for McClain to return.

Jamison Hensley, The Baltimore Sun: “The deal with Leach would appear to eliminate the chances of McClain’s returning. The Ravens could use him to fill the big-back void left by Willis McGahee, but that would be a secondary role.”

Dan Kolko, MASN Sports: “Not gonna happen. McClain will get a good deal elsewhere

John Eisenberg, CSN Baltimore: “Leach’s arrival almost surely signals the end of Le’Ron McClain’s time in Baltimore.”

There have been rumblings that the Kansas City Chiefs may be interested in McClain.

Zbikowski Has Skin Condition

Ravens safety Tom Zbikowski is in line to compete to replace departed Dawan Landry as the team’s starting strong safety.

But that will have to be put on hold, at least for a little bit.

Zbikowski, according to Aaron Wilson of the Carroll County Times, is on the non-football illness list due to a skin condition. Zbikowski’s representatives said it’s a simple case of dermatitis, which is just itchy, red skin.

It hasn’t held Zbikowski out of meetings, but could just delay his start on the field.

Starting inside linebacker Jameel McClain and long-snapper Morgan Cox are also on the physically unable to perform list. Cox is coming off a season-ending knee injury.

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