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Late For Work 2/10: T.O. Says He Could Have Helped Ravens

Urgency meter on replacing Lewis, 2012 playoff predictor, controversy in Pittsburgh?

Posted by Sarah Ellison on Friday, February 10th, 2012 at 9:17 am | Categories: Late For Work, Sarah Ellison

T.O. Says He Could Have Helped Ravens

Terrell Owens, once one of the most feared receivers in the NFL, says he’s been humbled and has matured in his one year out of the league.

And he wants back in.

Coming off major knee surgery in 2011, Owens was unsuccessful in convincing a team to sign him last season. But he isn’t giving up, and cited the Ravens as a team he could have helped.

“I know I can play,” Owens told the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. “That’s not even a question that I can play. You look at the NFC championship and the AFC championship. You look at those games, especially the NFC championship. [The 49ers'] starting receiving corps had one catch for three yards. You look at the AFC championship. The Baltimore Ravens the past two years brought in two guys they thought could get the job done. It comes down to crucial catches and they didn’t make those catches. So I am definitely aware of my talents.”

Owens is seemingly referring to drops by T.J. Houshmandzadeh in the 2010 divisional loss in Pittsburgh and Lee Evans’ strip/drop in the AFC championship in New England this season.

Both receivers were training camp additions. Coming off the knee injury, Owens would have been a midseason addition.

Of course, there is irony in Owens wanting to help Baltimore because the team traded for him before the 2004 season, but the deal fell through because T.O. wanted to play in Philadelphia.

“Now that he needs a job, the Ravens aren’t likely to give him serious consideration,” wrote CSNBaltimore.com’s John Eisenberg.

If the Ravens were interested in Owens, they could have taken him last season, but they instead opted to continue to develop their younger stars, including Torrey Smith.

Owens is now playing for the Allen Wranglers of the Indoor Football League, where he’ll try to prove to NFL general managers that he badly wants back in, can still produce and is a changed man.

But Fort Worth Star-Telegram’s Mac Engel believes that’s a long shot.

“It should be clear by now that no NFL team wants this guy, primarily because of his age (38), injury, his considerable locker room history and his amazing lack of self-awareness as to his contributions to said history,” said Engel. “It’s always something.

“If T.O. has any prayer of receiving an invite to an NFL training camp this offseason he not only has to prove he can stay healthy but dominate this league.”

Urgency Meter On Replacing Lewis

Mr. Mel Kiper:

On a scale of 1 to 5, with 1 being very urgent and 5 being not very urgent, how would you rank the urgency the Ravens should have in replacing future Hall of Famer Ray Lewis?

Kiper Urgency Meter = 2

“It’s pretty incredible to think that Lewis will be entering his 17th NFL season this summer. 17th!” wrote the ESPN analyst. “I say that because if you watched Lewis this year, you saw a guy playing at a very high level for the most part. He’s not quite as fleet as he once was, but his instincts are so superb that he can mask a lost step or two. He even holds up pretty well in coverage. My guess is that Lewis comes back for 2012, then hangs it up next offseason.”

Because Lewis has at least another year in him, the urgency meter has not reached a 1 yet, but the Ravens need to start planning for the future, says Kiper.

“In my first mock draft, I had the Ravens taking Vontaze Burfict out of Arizona State, so it’s clear that I think there’s some urgency to develop a linebacker who can step in for Lewis,” he wrote. “It’s not for the coming season, but I think the Ravens should be looking for a middle linebacker with one of their first three picks this year.”

How Do NFL Players Know When To Say Goodbye?

Retirement has been on the mind in Baltimore.

Running back Ricky Williams called it quits earlier this week after 11 years in the league.

We’re waiting on a decision from Matt Birk, who is currently in Naples, Fla., with his wife, six kids and their dog, mulling the question over. On Wednesday, he told ESPN that he is 50-50.

Lewis has already made it 100 percent clear he’ll be back.

And you never know what Ed Reed is thinking. The Ravens said they anticipate he’ll be back but haven’t received confirmation from him.

So the topic has come up for all four men, and they are all dealing with it in their own way.

Each man does have one thing in common, though: they have bucked a trend in the NFL, where the game dictates when a player’s career is over. Most times it’s injuries or faded speed that shows players the door. At least for now, Williams, Birk, Lewis and Reed are all in a position decide their own fate.

Just how a player knows when it’s time to move on is a long-debated question.

It is a painful reality for athletes to know that their world will dramatically change once they leave the game behind.

“Professional athletes are the only people we ask to die twice,” Dr. John F. Murray, a sports psychologist based in Palm Beach, Fla., told ESPN. “They have to die when they retire, and they have to die when they die. We call it ‘athletic identity’ in literature. If you lose that identity, I mean, your whole life can be over at the age of 30.”

There is no handbook for how the process is supposed to go,” added Birk. “All I know is that whether I like it or not, this is part of who I am. Once I give it up, it’s never going to be the same. I’m not going to be the same. It’s kind of a scary thought.”

For more on the agonizing retirement-deciding process, former NFL athletes Darren Woodson and Marcellus Wiley tell their own personal stories about when they knew their NFL careers were over, and what that feeling is like.

2012 Playoff Predictor

Here’s an eeeearly playoff prediction for 2012 – less than a week after the New York Giants were crowned last year’s Super Bowl champs.

The peeps at numberFire put together some fancy numbers and formulas, and are predicting the following finish in the AFC North:

Pittsburgh Steelers, 11-5, No. 2 seed
Baltimore Ravens, 10-6, No. 5 seed
Cincinnati Bengals, 8-8, just miss the playoffs
Cleveland Browns, 5-11, miss the playoffs

Quick Hits

  • Ron Cook casts doubt on the idea that Steelers Head Coach Mike Tomlin is happy with the latest moves in Pittsburgh. It is believed he didn’t want to part ways with their former offensive coordinator, Bruce Arians, and hire Todd Haley to replace him. There’s a perception that Steelers President Art Rooney II forced the moves. [Pittsburgh Post-Gazette]
  • Our own Ryan Mink explored the idea of tackle Jah Reid moving from tackle to guard to replace Ben Grubbs in the event that he doesn’t return to Baltimore next season. Hensley is not on board with that idea: “Replacing a Pro Bowl guard with a converted tackle seems like a major step backward to me. Baltimore would be better off adding a stop-gap veteran guard if it can’t draft a quality one in the first three rounds.” [BaltimoreRavens.com/ESPN]
  • Chris Burke ranks the NFL’s Best Announce Teams. He puts NFL Network’s duo of Brad Nessler and Mike Mayock as the only team in “the elite” category. The pair only worked together a few times last season because they announce the Thursday night contests, which didn’t start until Week 10. So there’s a smaller sample size, but I’m on board with Burke. Love this duo. [SI.com]
  • Turns out, Ray Rice approved the naming of a racehorse after him. The thoroughbred will make its debut on Saturday at Penn National Race Course in Pennsylvania. [Twitter]
  • How did Joe Flacco fare when pressured? [The Baltimore Sun]

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