Ravens at Steelers      Game Rewind      Pro Bowl Voting   

Late For Work 8/31: How Taylor Helped Vick’s $100 Million Deal

Plus a plea for C Andre Gurode and somebody finally predicts Ravens will upend Steelers.

Posted by Sarah Ellison on Wednesday, August 31st, 2011 at 9:22 am | Categories: Late For Work, Sarah Ellison

How Taylor Helped Vick’s $100 Million Deal

The Philadelphia Eagles gave quarterback Michael Vick a second chance after he was released from prison for dog-fighting charges.

While serving time, Vick filed for bankruptcy because he couldn’t pay the $10 to $50 million he owed. The debt, partly acquired because of foolish spending, was amassed despite reportedly making an estimated $25.4 million a year.

So when Vick struck an astronomical deal worth up to $100 million Monday, it not only marked what FoxSports.com’s Alex Marvez called the greatest  rags-to-riches-to-rags-to-riches story in all of professional sports, it also displayed an “ultimate show of faith” from the Eagles.

And what prompted such faith?

Vick’s new-found maturity, says SI.com’s Peter King.

“One reason the Eagles felt comfortable handing Vick more than $40 million guaranteed is because they’ve seen a more mature Vick,” King wrote. “A good illustration of that is his relationship with [Ravens sixth-round pick Tyrod] Taylor.”

King said one of the most interesting conversations he had on his training camp tour was when Vick talked about his mentorship of Taylor, who quarterbacked at Virginia Tech like Vick did.

The 10-year veteran took the rookie under his wing this spring and summer. They worked out together in Virginia Beach. (ESPN followed the two for a session, which is shown in the video below. I’ve posted this in LFW before, but it’s worth another look.)

With their hometowns just miles apart, Taylor followed Vick’s career from a young age and grew to idolize him.

“Don’t idolize me,” Vick told Taylor. “Follow me, watch me, but brand yourself, Tyrod.”

From there, they went to work. Vick was determined to help Taylor get ready for an NFL training camp despite the lockout.

“Vick told Taylor that when the lockout ended he had to be ready to step into a practice huddle with the Ravens and call plays confidently,” wrote King. “Because Taylor had been exposed to the Baltimore offense from offseason exposure to Ravens veterans, he had an idea of what the offense was, and what the terminology was, and Vick told him during every workout to make sure he did his homework on the Ravens’ plays.

“Vick would throw basic NFL concepts at him, like how to call protections and how to recognize certain blitzes and how to be sure to go through his progressions on a pass read.”

Vick’s labor of love is already paying dividends. Taylor is surpassing most everyone’s expectations, and is legitimately contending to be Joe Flacco’s backup. Not too shabby for a sixth-rounder who plays for a team that’s expected to reach the playoffs and battle for a Super Bowl berth.

“Everything I asked him to do, he did,” Vick told King. “I’d say, ‘Get in your playbook tonight,’ and he’d come back the next day and I’d ask him things, and he understood.

“This kid I’m really rooting for because he’s gone after it the right way. He really wants to be an NFL quarterback. He’s really worked at it. One night I called him at camp and said, ‘How’s it going, little bro?’ He said, ‘Getting it down. Running with the twos. Going good.’”

A Plea For Center Andre Gurode

Five-time Pro Bowl center Andre Gurode was released by the Dallas Cowboys Monday, ending his nine-year stint with the team.

With concerns surrounding the Ravens’ offensive line and the health of center Matt Birk, 105.7 The Fan’s Jeremy Conn made a plea for the Ravens to pursue Gurode.

“I don’t know if it would mean cutting Matt Birk or possibly [cornerback Domonique] Foxworth, but I believe [Gurode] is the perfect fit,” wrote Conn.

“The Ravens need to shore up the center position. I like Bryan Mattison, but he is not the answer.”

Gurode, a second-round pick in 2002, was scheduled to make $5.5 million in 2011 and was signed through 2012.  He was unable to reach an agreement with Dallas on a restructured contract, which ultimately led to the split.

“He wasn’t cut because he couldn’t play at a high level,” wrote Conn. “He wasn’t cut because he had a bad attitude. The Cowboys and Gurode could not agree to restructure a deal, so they were forced to let him go. … I don’t care what [the Ravens] have to do. Sign Ngata to a long-term deal and free up cap space or cut someone. Whatever you have to do, get Gurode in here.”

Another factor to consider is that Gurode is 32 years old and was off to a slow start in training camp after knee surgery in June. Similarly, Birk is 35 and is coming off knee surgery in early August.

Gurode’s release was also influenced by a youth movement in Dallas, according to ESPN’s Mike Sando. And ESPN’s Tim McMahon called Gurode overpaid, overrated and overweight.

The free agent is scheduled to visit the Seattle Seahawks.

Banks: Ravens Will Finally Upend Steelers

With regular-season action just over a week away, team previews across the web are a dime a dozen.

It comes as no surprise that most analysts are predicting the Steelers will win the division again, but Don Banks of Sports Illustrated is one of the few going against the grain.

“For a team that has gone 32-16 in the past three regular seasons and tacked on a total of four road playoff games over that span, the Ravens don’t seem to get a ton of respect for their accomplishments,” wrote Banks. “But we know why. Baltimore can’t beat Pittsburgh when it really counts, losing to the Steelers in the playoffs twice in the past three Januarys.

“This is the year I think the Ravens finally get over their Pittsburgh problem, win the division, and see what a home playoff game feels like. I’m not sure that’ll be enough to guarantee them a Super Bowl trip, but beating the Steelers might just feel like the mountain top in Baltimore.”

Quick Hits
  • Walker says rookie receiver Torrey Smith’s stock is falling after some early drops in the preseason. But really, isn’t a bit early to declare a stock drop? He only has three preseason games under his belt following a lockout. Sure, you’d like to see more out of him (so would he), but as Head Coach John Harbaugh said last weekend, “lay off the kid.” [ESPN]
  • With Todd Heap leaving town, M&T Bank Corp. has added a new face to team up with Ray Rice in promoting its Ravens Checking advertising campaign. Who better than the lovable giant Haloti Ngata? Starting in September, you will see the two Ravens appearing in TV, print, radio and online advertisements, outdoor billboards, branch signage and bus wraps. [The Baltimore Business Journal]
  • GerrySandusky: Looking forward to seeing LeBron James play tonight at Morgan State. [Twitter]
  • RavensInsider: I’m told that Ravens OL Mark LeVoir is just a little ‘banged up’ and should be back soon. No specifics on injury. [Twitter]
  • RealJimmySmith: I have no favorite anythings..well except the buffs and ravens [Twitter]
  • Roster cuts are looming. If you want to figure out who might be on the bubble, you first have to identify who is safe. John Eisenberg can help. [CSNBaltimore.com]
  • King’s one-minute video preview of the Ravens. [Sports Illustrated]

Tags: , , , ,