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Late For Work 5/28: Ravens’ Secret Superstar

Continuity a key to success. Webb helping Orioles attendance? Where’s Cundiff competition?

Posted by Sarah Ellison on Monday, May 28th, 2012 at 9:26 am | Categories: Late For Work, Sarah Ellison

Ravens’ Secret Superstar

With big-time superstars Ray Lewis, Ed Reed, Terrell Suggs and Haloti Ngata hogging the spotlight, other key contributors sometimes get lost in the mix.

There may be a few Bruce Waynes, Clark Kents or Bruce Banners on the team lurking in the shadows, waiting to shake off the “secret” in secret superstar this season.

The folks at Pro Football Focus believe one of those secret superstars is defensive end Pernell McPhee.

“With all that talent on the defensive side of the ball, it’s easy for a player to fly under the radar,” wrote Gordon McGuinness. “Pernell McPhee did just that in his rookie season, quietly putting himself forward as the team’s most productive pass rusher on limited snaps.  With a full offseason under his belt, and thanks to free-agent departures along the defensive line, this Secret Superstar should find himself with even more opportunities to make himself known in 2012.”

A fifth-round draft pick in 2011, McPhee saw action in all 16 regular-season games last year and finished with 23 tackles and the second most sacks on the team with six.

With a big opportunity ahead, those numbers could jump considerably.

Obviously the Ravens will be looking for other options to get after opposing quarterbacks with the injured Terrell Suggs out indefinitely. But even before Suggs went down, McPhee figured to get more snaps with Cory Redding and Brandon McKinney leaving for Indianapolis via free agency.

Last year, McPhee played behind Redding, rotating in on situational plays to provide fresh legs.

“[The opening] should allow McPhee to earn more playing time if his production merits it and that potential bump in snaps is the opportunity he needs to showcase his talents,” wrote McGuinness.

“We’ve highlighted him as the Ravens’ 2012 Secret Superstar because of his level of play on rationed snaps in 2011 and because of the opportunity that awaits. It’s now up to McPhee to show that he can deliver consistently with more chances.”

Finally, Ravens Get Continuity, A Key To Success

There’s been a lot of turnover on the Ravens offense since 2008.

Finally, four years later, the unit could see some stability, which could be the key to its success, says The Baltimore Sun’s Matt Vensel.

“[T]here is reason to believe that the offense will be better in 2012: They will finally have a little continuity,” he wrote.

  • 2008: Drafted quarterback Joe Flacco and Ray Rice; hired Head Coach John Harbaugh and Offensive Coordinator Cam Cameron.
  • 2009: Signed veteran center Matt Birk; drafted offensive tackle Michael Oher; Rice became starter.
  • 2010: Drafted tight ends Ed Dickson and Dennis Pitta; added wide receivers Anquan Boldin, T.J. Houshmandzadeh and Donte’ Stallworth.
  • 2011: Released wide receiver Derrick Mason, tight end Todd Heap, running back Willis McGahee; added running back Ricky Williams, receiver Lee Evans, left tackle Bryant McKinnie; drafted wide receivers Torrey Smith and Tandon Doss.

“That’s a lot of turnover, especially for an offense that was being piloted by a growing quarterback in Flacco,” Vensel wrote. “But the Ravens will return 10 starters on offense this season, with [Ben] Grubbs, who signed with the New Orleans Saints, being the lone exception. And Flacco will get a full offseason to find a groove with his young receivers.”

Jamal Lewis Files For Bankruptcy

Former Ravens running back Jamal Lewis filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection, according to multiple reports, the first by TMZ.

U.S. Bankruptcy Court Northern District of Georgia records show Lewis has assets of about $14.5 million and owes about $10.5 million. Court documents claim the self-employed Lewis, 32, earns around $35,000 a month.

“That’s right.  With assets of $14.45 million and debts of $10.56 million, Lewis has a lot more than what he owes,” wrote ProFootballTalk.com’s Mike Florio. “The problem apparently is liquidity; while he has more than $14 million worth of stuff, he doesn’t have the cash available to pay his bills.”

Lewis filed the Chapter 11 papers in an effort to renegotiate reduced and extended payments to creditors, including Mercedes-Benz, Chrysler and Bank of America. The former Raven reportedly has five homes, a 401K worth about $500,000 and ownership in a waterpark that’s valued at $6 million.

Lewis was the fifth-overall pick in the 2000 NFL draft and became the Ravens’ all-time leading rusher with 801 yards on 1,822 carries. After seven seasons in Baltimore, he moved on to Cleveland where he played another three years.

He has filed a lawsuit against the NFL, accusing the league of concealing health risks posed by concussions.

Webb Helping Orioles Attendance?

The Baltimore Orioles reported that they had the largest walk-up attendance in Camden Yards history Friday night with 11,000.

Does that have anything to do with the fact that cornerback Lardarius Webb threw out the first pitch?

Probably not, but agent Marc Lillibridge jokingly made the leap.

Check out Webb’s form to the right, courtesy of Gerry Sandusky.  

What’s Going On With Getting Cundiff Competition?

There’s still no word on the Ravens signing a kicker to the roster to provide Billy Cundiff with some competition.

Undrafted rookie kicker Justin Tucker created a lot of buzz after his tryout during rookie minicamp, but he has yet to be signed.

He tweeted last week that he was coming back to Baltimore, only to later delete the tweet.

So what’s going on? Do the Ravens still plan on bringing in competition?

ESPN’s Jamison Hensley gives his two cents.

“Honestly, an undrafted kicker wasn’t going to be real competition for Cundiff,” he wrote. “If the Ravens really wanted to do so, they would’ve signed Neil Rackers when he was available.”

Quick Hits

  • WBALPete [Pete Gilbert]: “Loyola Greyhounds, from unranked to the championship game!”  Congrats @LoyolaMLAX #dreamseason [Twitter]
  • LWebb21: Get your tixx to my charity softball game 1 week from today before tixx sell out. You can purchase them on my website starting at $13 [Twitter]
  • Flacco was ranked the second-best quarterback in the AFC North, behind Steelers signal caller Ben Roethlisberger. “He was one failed catch away from leading the Ravens to the Super Bowl and has beaten the Steelers the past two years in Pittsburgh on last-minute touchdown passes,” wrote Hensley. “Flacco is also the winningest starting quarterback in his first four NFL seasons (44 victories). What Flacco needs to improve is his consistency. Last season, he had four 300-yard passing games and seven games with less than 200 yards passing.” [ESPN]
  • Backup quarterback Curtis Painter is enjoying his time with Flacco and Tyrod Taylor so far. [The Baltimore Sun]

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