Late For Work 8/22: ESPN Says Defense Already In Midseason Form

Plus there’s no risk in signing McAdoo. And does Ravens’ fan base compare to Redskins’?

Posted by Sarah Ellison on Tuesday, August 23rd, 2011 at 9:09 am | Categories: Late For Work, Sarah Ellison

ESPN Says Defense Already In Midseason Form

We are only halfway through the preseason.

But don’t tell Chuck Pagano and his defense that.

His starting unit already looked to be in midseason form against the Kansas City Chiefs, says Matt Williamson of ESPN’s Scouts Inc.

“The Ravens stopped the run as usual, flowing to the ball aggressively, and a number of players stood out,” Williamson wrote. “The Chiefs’ offense certainly didn’t look good, but Baltimore’s defense had a lot to do with that.”

And that was without the services of defensive leader Ray Lewis.

The Chiefs had a difficult time containing the pressure Baltimore was sending, allowing 14 shots, five sacks and nine hits, on their quarterbacks.

Pagano had said prior to the preseason games that his defensive schemes would be vanilla. But after seeing them Friday night, reporters asked Pagano what he considers “complex.”

“I don’t know. I think that’s just getting impatient,” Pagano said with a smile, admitting he called a play that wasn’t originally planned.

“I guess that’s just letting them play. They’ve still got to line up and they’ve still got to block. So, whether [opponents] see it now, it doesn’t matter. We can show the same thing and not be running it and run something different. So, that’s just a matter of cutting these guys loose and wanting to show a little more aggression than we’ve been.”

Wilson Compares Ravens And Redskins Fan Bases

We are just days away from the classic “Battle of the Beltway.”

And while the Ravens-Redskins rivalry really isn’t a rivalry at all these days – the two teams rarely matchup in the regular season – there may be a small contest as to who has the better fan base.

Of course, the Redskins have an edge since they were officially born in Washington D.C. in 1937 while the Ravens came to Baltimore in 1996.

New Redskins cornerback Josh Wilson, who grew up in the D.C. area and played for the Ravens last season, said there is no comparison between the fan bases.

“One thing about it, they have nowhere near the tradition of Redskins fans,” Wilson told The Washington Post. “My uncle is 50-so years old and all they know are Redskins, and you’d almost think somebody’s died when the Redskins have lost. And now I’m getting all these phone calls asking, ‘What do you think about this?’ and they think I’m going to give them all the insight, and I’m like, ‘Get out of here!’ But the Ravens have a strong fan base up there. They’re growing and getting kind of that establishment that the Redskins already have.”

No Risk In Signing McAdoo

The Ravens are always looking to improve their pass rush, and they may have done so by reportedly signing rookie free-agent defensive end Michael McAdoo after he wasn’t selected in yesterday’s supplemental draft. McAdoo could fit in as a 3-4 outside linebacker or a 4-3 defensive end.

“The Ravens need pass rushers,” wrote ESPN’s James Walker. “And there is no risk in signing McAdoo. The Ravens can release him in the coming weeks if he doesn’t show anything.”

Prefer Experienced Or Tall CBs vs. Big Ben?

Prior to training camp, who would have predicted that rookie Jimmy Smith and unheralded four-year veteran Cary Williams would be seriously considered for the starting cornerbacks roles against the Pittsburgh Steelers?

Pagano has said he likes the sight of two tall corners pressuring receivers, but these two particular corners have a total of one NFL start between them. 

“There’s a lot to like about the aggressive idea, but can they hold up against Big Ben [Roethlisberger] and Pittsburgh?” asked’s John Eisenberg.

Considering the historically low-scoring games between the Steelers and Ravens, Roethlisberger only needs these youngsters to make one mistake in order to make a game-changing play.

Eisenberg wonders if Smith and Williams will continue running with the first-team defense once veterans Chris Carr (hamstring) and Domonique Foxworth (knee) are fully recovered from their injuries.

Foxworth split time with Smith running with the starters in Monday’s practice.

The 6-foot-1 Williams and 6-2 Smith have a couple inches on Foxworth (5-11) and Carr (5-10), but is size more important than the experience of the veterans (70 combined starts)?

Bears GM ‘Cleared The Air’ With Harbaugh

Yes, people are still talking about the trade snafu that went down four months ago during the NFL Draft.

But it looks like this might finally be the last of it.

Bears General Manager Jerry Angelo said he and Head Coach John Harbaugh have “cleared the air” over the issue since Harbaugh said in July that he didn’t believe the botched trade was an accident.

After hearing those remarks, Angelo said he called Harbaugh to explain his side of the issue.

“I was surprised that he said that publicly,” Angelo said on ESPN 1000. “I knew they were upset, and I would be upset too. I did call John after [hearing his comments], and we cleared the air. There was no intent on our part.

“Whatever facts that he thought were facts I said were misrepresented. I explained some things to him from our side. … I said check the phone logs, do what you want, talk to whoever you want. What I said initially is what it was. I think John understands that. We left it wishing each other well. I think it’s in the past and it’s behind us.”

“I have nothing but the highest respect for the organization,” Angelo continued. “[Ravens General Manager] Ozzie Newsome and I have gone back a long, long way. It was unfortunate. It was a mistake. I’m embarrassed by it. These are good people. There was no intent involved in the least.

“I feel John understands that, and I certainly respect the job that he and Ozzie do. They’re a great organization and I certainly wish them well.”

Quick Hits

  • Walker graded third-round pick Jah Reid in his first NFL start last week against the Kansas City Chiefs. The grading is meticulous; Walker breaks down each play of the first half. [ESPN]
  • 1WinningDrive: Joe Flacco had an awesome pass over Ricky Williams outside shoulder for about a 35-yard gain. It really was a thing of beauty [Twitter]
  • 1WinningDrive: Ray Rice did get the defense with a one-handed catch along the sidelines for a long gain. Made it look easy too [Twitter]
  • This was to be expected yesterday … BaltSunSports: Jarret Johnson, the most durable player in #Ravens history, missed his second straight day of practice today [Twitter]
  • JasonLaCanfora: Joe Thomas gets a 7yr extension with the Browns for max of nearly $84M with about $44M guaranteed. [Twitter]

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