Late For Work 9/5: What Does Gurode Deal Mean For Birk?

Plus AFC North predictions, LaQuan part of Steelers game plan, and Bulger interested if…

Posted by Sarah Ellison on Monday, September 5th, 2011 at 9:18 am | Categories: Late For Work, Sarah Ellison

What Does Gurode Deal Mean For Birk?

Yesterday, the Ravens made a big move by bringing in center Andre Gurode to back up Matt Birk.

It’s such a big move – Gurode has earned a Pro Bowl selection in each of the past five seasons – that one wonders about Birk’s health.’s John Eisenberg said the deal “underscores the Ravens’ concerns about Birk’s ability to play the entire 2011 season.”

“This could be a sign the Ravens aren’t confident in Birk heading into the Steelers game,” added ESPN’s James Walker.

Birk underwent knee surgery in July and didn’t participate in any of the Ravens’ preseason games –although he did return to practice last week. The 14-year veteran said his knee feels good and, if everything goes as planned, he should start against the Steelers.

That said, if Birk isn’t ready to go by Week 1, or if he goes down at some point this season, Gurode is “the best insurance policy the Ravens could have gotten,” says The Baltimore Sun’s Jamison Hensley.

“The Ravens are looking to team a five-time Pro Bowl center in Gurode with a former six-time Pro Bowl center in Birk.”

Gurode (33) and Birk (35) have a few similarities.

Like Birk, Gurode is recovering from a knee injury. The 6-foot-4, 318-pound lineman underwent surgery in June.

Both players are considered very durable. Birk hasn’t missed a game since 2005, while Gurode has missed game action only four times since he was drafted in 2002.

“One way or another, with either Birk or Gurode in the middle, the whole thing is expected to come together in time for the Pittsburgh game,” concluded Eisenberg.

A few other notables on Gurode:

  • Some of you may think you’ve never heard of him before, but you actually probably have. It was Gurode’s face that was infamously stomped on by defensive tackle Albert Haynesworth in 2006.
  • Gurode visited the Seattle Seahawks, Detroit Lions and New England Patriots before reaching a deal with the Ravens. Expect reporters to ask him later today why he decided on coming to Baltimore.
  • The Ravens won’t need to clear a roster spot to make room for Gurode, according to MASN’s Dan Kolko. At least, not for now. With receiver David Reed on the reserve/suspended list this week, the Ravens temporarily have room for one more.
  • After bringing in receiver Lee Evans, tackle Bryant McKinnie and Gurode, Walker said he likes that the Ravens “haven’t been afraid to patch holes on their roster. … These were three big question marks on the team several weeks ago. That is no longer the case.”
  • Baltimore is serious about winning, and winning now,” added’s Peter King.

Preseason’s Over … Time For 2011 Predictions!

Based on what I read in the commenting section of these articles every day, many of you take pride in being the underdog.

Well you soak it up, Baltimore.

Of the 13 AFC North predictions listed below, only four analysts believe the Ravens can beat the Steelers to become the division champs this season.

The four who believe in the Ravens are Don Banks, Adam Schefter, Walker and Mike Florio.

The AFC North predictions and the reasoning behind each:

Pete Prisco, 10-6, second in AFC North
“The Ravens will push the Steelers in the division. This is a talented team. But until they throw it better down the field, and until they rush the passer better, the Steelers have the edge. The offensive line is a concern, too.”

Jeffri Chadiha, (ESPN analysts didn’t give predicted records) second in AFC North
“The Ravens need an offense with plenty of weapons to become more consistent. The acquisition of wide receiver Lee Evans will help.”

John Clayton, second in AFC North
“Lee Evans will give Joe Flacco a much-needed outside threat, but concerns about the offensive line could be a problem. At least the Ravens are now deep at corner.”

Ashley Fox, second in AFC North
“The Ravens did not get better in the offseason. Gone are two of Joe Flacco’s favorite targets, tight end Todd Heap and wide receiver Derrick Mason. Ray Rice will have to carry the load.”

Adam Schefter, first in AFC North
“Couldn’t keep up with Pittsburgh’s big plays last season, so went and added playmakers of their own.”

James Walker, first in AFC North
“The Ravens have been close the last three years. If QB Joe Flacco improves, he can take Baltimore to the next level.”

Bucky Brooks, 10-6, second in AFC North
“Joe Flacco has to step up his game for the Ravens’ offense to become a unit capable of competing with the heavyweights in the AFC.”

Elliot Harrison, 10-6, second in AFC North
“The Ravens have a good team, but many questions. Is getting Lee Evans enough for an offense that needed a downfield presence? Can Ed Reed go 16? What is Joe Flacco at this stage of his career?”

Pat Kirwan, 10-6, second in AFC North
“The Ravens would be higher if they weren’t in the same division as the Steelers. The offensive line is still a big question.”

Jason La Canfora, 11-6, second in AFC North
“Schedule sets up nicely for them, but they need to find a way to get Joe Flacco a home playoff game. Not sure this will be the year for that.”

Steve Wyche , 9-7, second in AFC North
“The defense won’t slip as much as people think but the offense might plateau at some points, leaving them in position where getting to the playoffs could be a challenge.”

Mike Florio, first in AFC North
“I think the Ravens are going to get the Steelers monkey off their back this year. I’ve been saying that for the last couple years, but one of these years it’s going to be right.  Why not this year? Steelers typically stumble a year after they appear in the Super Bowl. At least over the past 10 years when they’ve been in the Super Bowl that’s what’s happened. I think the Steelers slide back. The Ravens take the division and I think it starts Week 1.

Don Banks, Sports Illustrated: 11-5, first in AFC North
“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. 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.”

LaQuan Part Of Steelers Game Plan

Ravens rookie receiver LaQuan Williams is already a part of the game plan for the Steelers game, according to Ravens Insider Aaron Wilson.

Considering his success in the preseason and his ties to Baltimore (Poly and Maryland), Williams quickly became a fan favorite. Thus, the report already has fans speculating what Head Coach John Harbaugh has in store for the rookie.

While many hope to see Williams worked into the offense, he’ll more likely a fill a special-teams role.  Eisenberg sees him returning punts in the season opener.

Cameron Contacted Bulger?

After Tyrod Taylor suffered a shoulder contusion (bruise) Thursday night, speculation about who will be the backup quarterback soared – even though the Ravens said the injury is not serious.

The team is confident that Taylor can be the backup, but they’ve also been willing to see what else is out there.

Wilson reported Saturday that Offensive Coordinator Cam Cameron contacted Marc Bulger – last year’s backup to Flacco – to gauge his interest in coming out of retirement.

“Hearing Marc Bulger has decided to stay retired at this time, but told Ravens he would be interested in case of emergency if Flacco got hurt,” tweeted Wilson.

Parmele Shocked By Release, But Understands

Jalen Parmele knew his job was on the line as he competed with rookie Anthony Allen for the No. 3 running back role, but that didn’t make the news of his release come any easier.

We were shocked,” Parmele told Edward Lee of The Baltimore Sun. “I wasn’t expecting it, but at the same time, you understand. Having been around long enough to know what goes on and the kind of business decisions are made, you can’t take anything personally. You learn from it and realize that there’s nothing you can do to change it. They’re continually taking steps to try to make the team better. So it’s just something that you understand, and you understand that it’s a business decision.”

Tavares Gooden Joins 49ers

Originally drafted in 2008 as a potential heir to Ray Lewis, linebacker Tavares Gooden was released Saturday – one of the more unexpected moves of cut day.

Prior to being let go, reports surfaced of the Ravens and 49ers engaging in trade talks for Gooden. Nothing ever came from the discussions, but the former third-rounder landed in San Francisco anyway.

Gooden and San Fran agreed to terms on a one-year deal Sunday night, according to Wilson.

Quick Hits

    • Willis McGahee compares the Buffalo Bills to the Ravens, saying there’s a better feeling in a winning organization’s locker room. [Sports Radio Interviews]
    • Tandondoss: Had to let the 89 jersey go.. I’ll b rockin 17 this season!!! [Twitter]
    • RavensInsider: Ravens practice squad safety Mana Silva drew interest from other teams, but decided to stay put and re-sign with Baltimore. [Twitter]
    • This is no time for young guys like Michael McAdoo, Chykie Brown and Albert McClellan to celebrate making an NFL roster, says Kolko. Things could change when veterans are added to the roster. [MASN]
    • “Ricky Williams has found a home in Baltimore,” wrote Dan Pompei. “The coaches there love him because he’s been very professional and quiet. He’s been the first player out at practice every day, and he came to work in fantastic shape. What’s more – his pass protection has been outstanding.” [The National Football Post]
    • A look back at the bests and worsts from the Ravens’ four-game exhibition season. []
    • Hall of Fame quarterback Dan Fouts on what he learned from Johnny Unitas: “The very first ball [Unitas] threw to me in warmups was a fastball that nearly broke my hands. Johnny told me, ‘Always aim for the receiver’s nose when throwing a pass.’ I asked, ‘Why’s that?’ He said, ‘Because if they don’t catch it, it’ll break their nose. That will make them better receivers.’” []

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