Late For Work 9/29: ‘Only Time Will Tell’ If Mason Is Better Off

Plus Lewis’ legacy is in Baltimore, not with Rex. Will Foxworth be back in 2012?

Posted by Sarah Ellison on Thursday, September 29th, 2011 at 9:22 am | Categories: Late For Work, Sarah Ellison

‘Only Time Will Tell’ If Mason Is Better Off

After the Ravens released their No. 1 receiver of six years – a necessary move to create cap space – they also had an opportunity to bring Derrick Mason back.

Mason had three choices at the time: return to Baltimore, return to Tennessee where his career started or join Rex Ryan in New York. 

Yesterday, the 15-year veteran admitted the decision was not easy.

“I’m not going to sit here and lie, I still was torn between going back to Baltimore and coming here to the Jets,” Mason said, per the The Star-Ledger. “Because I had been there for so long, and that was family to me.”

Mason and General Manager Ozzie Newsome had a “private conversation,” of which the receiver declined to give details. He simply said he left on good terms.

Just like the Ravens’ decision to release him was made strictly for business purposes, Mason said the move to New York was all about business too. He felt he had a better chance to win the Super Bowl with the Jets, which is the supreme goal of his career.

“I wanted to come into a situation where I had the potential of winning a Super Bowl,” he said via ESPN New York. “A real shot at winning the Super Bowl, not just some fabricated, somebody says it at the beginning of the year.

“I think I was in a good position because the two teams that were sort of in play, both of them had a good shot at going to the Super Bowl. So I was in a no-lose situation.”

Mason said “he is at peace” with his decision to go with the Jets and with the effort he gave Baltimore; he would make the same choice if he had to do it all over again.

The recent emergence of rookie Torrey Smith and the addition of Lee Evans have made the transition from the Mason era a little easier for fans.  But with Evans’ playing status uncertain, Smith and Anquan Boldin will be challenged by Jets corners Darrelle Revis and Antonio Cromartie.

The same can be said for Ravens corners Lardarius Webb, Cary Williams and Chris Carr. They will have their work cut out for them as they take on Mason, Santonio Holmes and Plaxico Burress.

Who will have the upper hand Sunday night?

Mason said “only time will tell” whether the Jets are better than the Ravens, who are both 2-1, and whether Baltimore is better off without him.

Lewis’ Legacy Is In Baltimore, Not With Rex

Just as Mason explained the circumstances surrounding his move to New York, linebacker Ray Lewis gave a few more details behind his stay in Baltimore.

As the story goes, both Lewis and fellow middle linebacker Bart Scott were free agents when Ryan left his post as the Ravens’ defensive coordinator.

The moment the free agency doors swung open, Ryan was visiting the home of Scott, not Lewis.

But Lewis, who was the Ravens’ second-ever draft pick in 1996, said he and Ryan had already discussed the linebacker’s desire to retire a Raven.

“His decision was to take Bart with him, start fresh, whatever he wanted to start in NY,” Lewis told The Star-Ledger. “It’s not like we didn’t have a real conversation with each other, like a real conversation.

“Years ago, he used to tell me that Baltimore will always be where I always end up at, bottom line.”

After playing his entire career in Charm City and winning a Super Bowl with the Ravens, Lewis said Ryan knew that’s where the legacy of No. 52 would always remain.

“I don’t know what could have ever pulled me away from here,” Lewis said. “That would have to be something so incredible to pull me away from here, to leave this city and everything I already built here. For a coach, it’s kind of different because they can travel different places and start over in new territories. For players, I think it’s totally different when you’re trying to leave the legacy that I’m truly taking.”

Will Foxworth Be Back In 2012?

Unable to get back on track after undergoing knee surgery last season, the Ravens announced they placed cornerback Domonique Foxworth on injured reserve.

This could signal the end of Foxworth’s disappointing run with the Ravens,” wrote ESPN’s Jamison Hensley. “He is scheduled to make $5.6 million in 2012, the final year of his contract. It’s unlikely that the Ravens would bring him back at that price. ”

Because of the lockout, Foxworth wasn’t able to rehab as he normally would with the team’s trainers. He didn’t make the progress he had hoped for.

He saw limited action in the first two weeks of the season, but was playing conservatively and lacked confidence in his knee. The seven-year veteran was inactive last week against the St. Louis Rams.

“Foxworth was one of the Ravens’ biggest free-agent additions in 2009, when he signed a four-year, $27.2 million contract,” wrote Hensley. “The Ravens, though, have gotten just one season out of Foxworth, who had a strong finish to the 2009 season.”

The Baltimore Sun’s Matt Vensel says that while Foxworth has gotten a lot of flak for his salary, he never really had the chance to play up to his contract.

“I have no idea what kind of pain Foxworth is going through this week now that he has found out that he will essentially miss a second straight season due to a serious knee injury. But I feel for him. How could you not?

“It’s not his fault the Ravens felt he was worth $27.2 million. It’s not his fault his knee blew up when he made a quick cut in a non-contact drill last July. And I’m not going to blame him for making the salvation of NFL football, probably the most popular leisure activity in America, his primary focus this offseason. (Thank you, Domonique.)”

J. Smith Targets Return After Bye Week

With Foxworth on injured reserve, Ravens fans can find some solace in the progress of rookie cornerback Jimmy Smith, who injured his ankle in the season opener.

Smith says he is feeling better and is on track for an Oct. 16 return, when the Ravens come back from their Week 5 bye.

That’s not being too optimistic,” Smith told Edward Lee of The Baltimore Sun. “That’s what I’m gearing for, and that’s what I’m hoping for. That’s the Texans game. So I’m doing everything I can to get back.”

Lee reported that Smith is no longer walking in a boot and moving around without a limp.

“That’s a sign that the ankle is getting better, getting stronger,” Smith said. “There are still some mobility problems, but I’ve still got a little bit of time left. … It’s coming along good. It’s on track with the time and schedule that they have.”

Quick Hits

  • Former Ravens Owner Art Modell is among 103 candidates eligible for the Pro Football Hall of Fame Class of 2012. The list of 103 will be trimmed to 25 in November and then to 15 finalists in January. Modell hasn’t been a finalist since 2001. [The Baltimore Sun]
  • Defense rules the AFC North. The Ravens’ defense is ranked last in the division – Steelers are No. 2, Bengals No. 3, Browns No. 9 and Ravens No. 13 – but the Baltimore unit ranks first in the league in fewest points allowed. [ESPN]
  • The Ravens are 65 percent favorites to beat the Jets. [ESPN]
  • Commissioner Roger Goodell said there will be two regular-season games overseas in 2012, and sources say both will be in London. Sports Business Journal]
  • Fox Sports writer and former NFL quarterback Chad Pennington devised a game plan for Jets quarterback Mark Sanchez to beat Baltimore. Pennington, who was knocked out of the 2008 playoffs after throwing four interceptions to the Ravens, believes Sanchez has to be mentally aggressive, but physically relaxed in the face of pressure. “When the Ravens defense plays with a 10-point lead or more, watch out! The pass rush becomes ridiculous, and Ed Reed is all over the place!” []
  • After his three touchdown performance in St. Louis, T. Smith’s teammates are not only happy for him, but they are also happy for what his presence means for their own ability to produce. []

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