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Late For Work 7/24: Ravens To Add Veteran Guard Eric Steinbach?

Upshaw placed on non-football injury list. Lewis: I’m fighting for a starting job. Best RB?

Posted by Sarah Ellison on Tuesday, July 24th, 2012 at 9:08 am | Categories: Late For Work, Sarah Ellison

Ravens To Add Veteran Guard Steinbach?

The Ravens are not done tweaking their offensive line.

Less than 24 hours after releasing guard Howard Barbieri, who did not participate in some of the offseason team activities because a reported lower back injury, the Ravens appear to be hard at work trying to fill the vacated roster spot.

One potential candidate is 32-year-old veteran guard Eric Steinbach, who will work out for team officials Tuesday, according to CBS Sports’ Jason La Canfora.

If the Ravens want to sign Steinbach, they will have some competition as La Canfora reports that other AFC teams are interested in the former Cincinnati Bengal and Cleveland Brown.

Once considered one of the better guards in the league, Steinbach is out to prove he is healthy after missing all of last season following back surgery. The YouTube video below is a good start in proving his case. The 10-year veteran shows off his renewed strength by flipping truck tires and performing deadlifts.

Prior to the back injury, Steinbach showcased his durability. A 2003 second-round selection by the Bengals, Steinbach started all but two regular-season games from 2003 to 2006. He then signed a seven-year deal with the rival Browns in 2007, and only missed two more games over the next four seasons.

After his back injury, the Browns cut him on March 14.

If the Ravens were to add Steinbach, the competition at left guard would heat up even more.

Last month, the team signed former Bengals guard Bobbie Williams to a two-year deal. Plus there’s rookies Kelechi Osemele and Gino Gradkowski and second-year player Jah Reid (who could transition from tackle to guard). Williams is currently considered the favorite to win the starting role, but Steinbach would provide stiffer competition.

The offensive line could also use more depth during training camp.

Osemele and Reid will start camp on the physically unable to perform list (PUP) – in addition to Pernell McPhee (knee) and receiver David Reed (knee) – according to The Carroll County Times’ Aaron Wilson.

Both Osemele and Reid suffered what were considered minor injuries during offseason team activities. K.O. sustained an undisclosed injury, which Wilson reports as a thigh injury, and Reid was carted off the field in a June minicamp with a reported strained right calf.

Players placed on the preseason PUP can be moved to the active roster at any time, but they cannot be placed back on to the list once they’ve taken the field for practice.

Thus, the Ravens may just be playing it safe with these four players.

Osemele already indicated to our own Garrett Downing that he feels “confident, stronger and bigger,” but that the Ravens are going to be cautious and start camp off slow.

Upshaw Placed On Non-Football Injury List

Put the brakes on seeing Ravens 2012 top draft pick Courtney Upshaw begin his journey in helping fill the shoes of the injured Terrell Suggs.

The 6-foot-2, 272-pound rookie has been placed on the non-football injury list, according to Wilson. He is joined by Suggs and undrafted rookie tight end Bruce Figgins.

Players placed on the non-football injury list can be activated at any time, but it is unclear why Upshaw, who tweeted Sunday morning that he was ready to put in work, received the designation.

Wilson gives one possible scenario.

“The designation can mean a player didn’t pass his conditioning test,” he wrote.

UPDATE: Upshaw tweeted today around 11:30 a.m. EST that he did not pass the conditioning test the first time, but went back and passed it the second time. He said made it to practice yesterday.

“Upshaw has since practiced with Ravens so no need for concern,” wrote The Baltimore Sun’s Jeff Zrebiec. “He’s ready to go.”

Ray Lewis: I’m Fighting For A Starting Job

Linebacker Ray Lewis is truly one of a kind.

That probably explains why he plays one of the most violent positions in football at the age of 37 and still hasn’t slowed down.

Lewis is about to embark on his 17th training camp with the Ravens, yet the veteran leader said it never gets old or boring for him. (USA Today pointed out that even Brett Favre, who had a hard time walking away from the game he loved, went back and forth about retirement just so he could avoid camp.)

The future Hall of Famer’s mentality is that of a rookie, simply hoping to earn a role for himself on the defense.

“It can’t get old, because I’m fighting for a starting job,” Lewis told The Baltimore Sun, one day before camp begins. “I’ve been fighting my whole life. That’s what people don’t realize. I don’t think I’ve ever come in and said, ‘Oh, I’ve got a good day.’ I don’t. And that’s why every year is a new year for me. It’s a new opportunity.”

Who Is the Best RB In Football?

Some would say there is usually a clear-cut answer to the question: who is the best running back in football?

But Bill Barnwell of Grantland.com believes that for the first time in 42 years, there isn’t an obvious answer, making the title up for grabs.

If you’re the smart fan who eats up deep statistical analysis that goes way beyond the normal numbers, this article is for you.

For the rest of you, I’ll get to the point.

There are five running backs that Barnwell identified as candidates to take over the title by the end of the 2012 season: Matt Forte, Arian Foster, Maurice Jones-Drew, LeSean McCoy and Ray Rice. And based on history, that running back will be regarded as the best for two or three seasons.

In the end, Barnwell predicts Rice will hold the title for the next several years.

“[I]t’s pretty clear to me that Ray Rice is the guy to choose,” Barnwell wrote. “Rice is the healthiest back of these five. He’s the best receiver and has the most reliable hands. He’s been an essential part of an offense that would likely break down without him. And since he’s the second-youngest of our five backs, at 25, he still has some room left on his growth curve. And there’s virtually no argument that holds up against him. …

“We are in an era in which being well-rounded is perhaps more important than ever before, and nobody in the NFL is more versatile and efficient than Baltimore’s starting running back. I believe that Ray Rice will be recognized as the clear-cut best running back in football by the end of the season, primarily because he is already the best running back in football.”

Quick Hits

  • The Ravens are feeling more pressure than quarterback Joe Flacco to get a long-term deal done, says Jamison Hensley.  He argues the Ravens know they can’t replace Flacco, but they also don’t want to franchise him because he would be paid the average of the top-5 quarterbacks in the league. “Flacco has no reason to worry. He’s either getting a long-term deal or $15 million-plus [under the franchise tag] in 2013. In these negotiations, all of the pressure rests on the Ravens.” [ESPN]
  • Does rookie free agent Justin Tucker even stand a chance of unseating veteran Billy Cundiff? Not according to rumors. John Eisenberg wrote, “There’s no veteran around to challenge Cundiff because the word around the league is Cundiff will retain his job barring a complete collapse, which is not expected.” [CSNBaltimore.com]
  • Lewis would like to see media outlets move from focusing on athletes behaving badly to those working to help others. [The Baltimore Sun]
  • @pkruger99: Training camp starts Wednesday.. Crazy the season is already here, hope your ready for a good one BMORE!! [Twitter]
  • @BPierce_30: Passed the conditioning test! [Twitter]
  • @KOsevendeuce [Osemele]: Beat the conditioning test with time to spare. Tha gluteus on fire right now  #PAUSE #RavenNation ..proud of myself lol [Twitter]

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