Late For Work 6/11: What G Bobbie Williams Signing Reveals About O-Line

Mason retiring a Raven? Not true Flacco talks on backburner. Bisciotti ‘scared’ for 6 players.

Posted by Sarah Ellison on Monday, June 11th, 2012 at 9:10 am | Categories: Late For Work, Sarah Ellison

What Williams Signing Reveals About O-Line

Somewhat lost in the Ravens-Under Armour partnership announcement Friday, was the signing of 13-year veteran guard Bobbie Williams.

Until now, it has been expected that either second-year player Jah Reid or one of the rookies, Kelechi Osemele or Gino Gradkowski, would win the Ravens’ left guard position vacated by Pro Bowler Ben Grubbs.

Williams changes that whole dynamic, and may reveal the Ravens’ feelings about the current competition.

“The addition of former Bengals guard Bobbie Williams reveals how desperate the Baltimore Ravens are at that position,” wrote ESPN’s Jamison Hensley.

“This shows a lack of confidence in rookie second-round pick Kelechi Osemele and Jah Reid, who were expected to compete for that starting spot. While Williams adds much-needed experience, I’m not sure if Baltimore really improved itself. The Ravens are still going to go from a Pro Bowl guard (Ben Grubbs) to one who will turn 36 in September and is coming off ankle surgery (Williams).”

Hensley is skeptical of Williams’ ability to hold up for the season after the Bengals passed on re-signing him when they also had a big need at the guard position. Williams will have to prove his broken ankle from last season is healed and won’t hold him back.

While it is presumed that Williams, who played at right guard for most of his career, would transition to the left side, there is also the possibility of moving Marshal Yanda to the left to allow Williams to play his more natural position, says Hensley.

The Ravens have been successful in bringing in 30-plus-year-old offensive linemen in the past, including Bryant McKinnie, Matt Birk and Willie Anderson. If Williams can have a similar impact, it would be very beneficial to the Ravens this season.

In addition to experience, the Ravens are also getting a class act, says CSNBaltimore.com’s Ray Frager.

Williams won the Bengals’ Ed Block Courage Award and the Good Guy award from local media. Even as a veteran unrestricted free agent, Williams had a constant presence at the Bengals’ training facility rehabbing his ankle, according to the Cincinnati Enquirer.

Teammate and left tackle Andrew Whitworth told the paper that the Ravens’ younger players will benefit from Williams’ presence.

“Happy for boss man. Great player … Even better man,” Whitworth texted to the Enquirer.  “Someone all young NFL players can learn work ethic, attitude, and how to be a real man from.”

Mason To Announce Retirement As Raven?

The Ravens announced late last night that they will hold a press conference today at 3 p.m. with former receiver Derrick Mason, General Manager Ozzie Newsome and Head Coach John Harbaugh.

While the team did not specify what the press conference is about, multiple outlets including The Sun, Carroll County Times and ProFootballTalk assume Mason will announce his retirement as a Raven.

Mason already expressed his desire to do so in early May, and the organization was open to the idea.

“Derrick has not only been a favorite of ours at the Ravens, but he’s clearly one of the most popular players to our fans in our history,” said Ravens Senior Vice President of Public and Community Relations Kevin Byrne at the time. “It’s so flattering that he wants to retire as a Raven.”

Mason played six seasons in Baltimore (2005 to 2010), finishing as the franchise’s all-time receptions (471) and receiving yards (5,777) leader. He also played eight years for the Tennessee Titans, earning two Pro Bowls.

‘Not True’ Flacco Talks Have Taken Backburner To Rice

The notion that quarterback Joe Flacco’s contract negotiations have taken a backburner to the Ray Rice talks is “not true,” Owner Steve Bisciotti told The Baltimore Sun.

The impression that the Ravens would deal with Rice before Flacco may have come from the fact that the running back’s contract is already up and he is currently tagged by the team, while Flacco still has another year remaining on his rookie contract.

“We’ve got Ray under the franchise tag so it has no bearing on us dealing with Joe,” Bisciotti said.

“Joe is treating his last year like Ray treated his. If you go back, the nice thing is that Ray never talked about it. Everybody wanted to make it an issue last year for Ray Rice and Ray said, ‘I’m under contract. Maybe we’ll get something done before the season starts, maybe we’ll get something done within the season.’ Joe is handling himself with the same class … and we’re very appreciative of that but we expected that.”

Bisciotti told our own Garrett Downing that he thinks that the gap in contract numbers between the Ravens and Rice and Flacco aren’t “that far apart.”

Expect Reed, Not Rice, At Mandatory Minicamp

Despite flirting with retirement (again) this offseason, safety Ed Reed is still expected to be at mandatory minicamp this week.

“I haven’t had any communication with him, but sure I [expect him to be there],” Bisciotti told The Sun. “It’s all he’s ever done. I think Ed — and I have said this — has a firm grip of how happy he can be when he walks away from football. I think that’s why Ed is not as definitive as people would like.

“He seems to change opinions about stuff like that because he loves football as much as anybody who has ever played the game, but I think he’s got a firmer grasp of how good life can be without playing football. I think that’s a strength of his, but it also makes him maybe waffle more in the press.”

Meanwhile, don’t expect to see Rice there, says the Ravens owner.

Without signing a long-term contract or his franchise tender, Rice is not obligated to be at minicamp and if he doesn’t show, Bisciotti wouldn’t have a problem with it.

“I feel bad for him because he’s a classy young man and we are trying to reconcile,” he said. “He’s one of the best young men that we’ve ever had and I know it’s killing him. He comes in and we haven’t skipped a beat. … He’s not going to come in without a new deal, I would think. I really don’t know.”

The two sides have until July 16 to come to a long-term deal, otherwise Rice will play under the $7.7 million franchise tag this season. Rice wouldn’t be obligated to sign his tender until he wants to come back and play, which could be after training camp, the preseason or even the regular-season start.

But Bisciotti doesn’t envision Rice holding out long: “At some point he’s going to come in and sign the tender. He’s not sitting out.”

Bisciotti ‘Scared To Death’ For Six Players

Bisciotti is always thinking ahead.

He’s already had dinner with Head Coach John Harbaugh, where they broke down the 90-man roster, which will eventually have to be cut down to 53.

The Ravens owner believes there are 74 players who legitimately have a shot of making the cut, but not all of them can, leaving him very concerned about a handful of them.

“We went down the roster and barring injuries, there are six guys that I’m scared to death are not going to make the 53-man [roster],” Bisciotti told The Sun. “When we looked at the guys, there are 74 out of 90 guys that we think have a chance to make the team.”

It’s unclear who those six players are, but more may be added to Bisciotti’s “scared” list as the Ravens just signed Williams and Jeff Zrebiec believes the team isn’t done adding veterans to the roster, specifically at the running back position and along the defensive line.

Quick Hits

  • Among his five lessons learned from the Ravens organized team activities (OTAs), Jason Butts writes that receiver LaQuan Williams made the biggest strides compared to other teammates who are also fighting for a roster spot. His route-running was “precise” and his timing with Flacco was “on-point.” Meanwhile, Butts believes receivers Jacoby Jones and Tommy Streeter need some work, but you may want to chalk that up to learning a new system. [CBSSports.com]
  • Expect a number of Ravens to make a splash as the NFL Network heads into the top 30 of its best 100 players of 2012. [CSNBaltimore.com]
  • Here’s an update on former Raven favorite, Todd Heap, who is now healthy after sustaining a hamstring injury last season and is competing for playing time with a pair of young tight ends in Arizona. [Fox Sports Arizona]

Tags: , , , , ,