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Sep 17

Ravens receiver Steve Smith’s veteran leadership already apparent

In this week’s GMC Playbook question, we answer which player can be counted on in a leadership role when it’s time to focus.

Here’s this week’s GMC Playbook question from Marshall Faulk:

(Editor’s note: We will be answering this in strictly football terms, not with any reference to what has transpired off of the field thus far during the year.)

This is a tough question when it comes to the Ravens, to be honest.

It would have been an easy answer two years ago when the organization still had Ray Lewis and Ed Reed on the defensive side of the ball. Last year, the organization really missed having that kind of leadership to keep everything on course when times got tough week in and week out.

Easy options would be Terrell Suggs or Haloti Ngata. But how did this team perform last year with those two guys on the roster and without the previous leaders?

It brings me to this player as the answer: Steve Smith.

Smith has brought a different attitude to this football team. And you can make a case the Ravens are almost 2-0 due to Smith’s game against the Bengals, especially when he caught that 80-yard touchdown pass, throwing cornerback Adam Jones to the ground with a vicious stiff arm in the process.

He’s added a tenacity that’s been long missing on the offensive side of the ball. And it’s apparent that Smith has become Flacco’s go-to target thus far. Smith has caught 13 passes for 189 yards and a touchdown. With Smith finding a groove early, he could be in for a bigger year than many played for. But it’s his veteran leadership that should be able to get the Ravens on a much better track this season.

Join the #GMCPlaybook discussion at sbnation.com/sponsored-gmc-playbook and on Twitter by following @thisisgmc & @marshallfaulk.


Sep 17

Coach Whisenhunt’s Wednesday Practice Report

TITANS HEAD COACH KEN WHISENHUNT (On trying to make plays early in the game) That’s every team in the league. Every team I’ve been with is that way. It’s part of playing football. Guys you get a li…

Sep 17

Know Your Opponent: Cincinnati Bengals (Week 3)

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Week 3 marks the first of two consecutive road games for the Titans against two reigning playoff teams. First up is the Cincinnati Bengals (2-0), one of seven remaining unbeaten…

Sep 17

Wednesday injury report: Joe Flacco did not practice due to illness

Joe Flacco, Timmy Jernigan and Eugene Monroe did not participate in Wednesday’s practice.

Whenever a team’s quarterback shows up as a non-participant in practice, it’s usually a cause for concern.

As it is with Joe Flacco, it’s not that big of a deal for Sunday’s game. Flacco is battling an illness, which is why he was unable to practice on Wednesday. The last thing the Ravens want to do is have Flacco show up and spread his germs to other players.

However, there is one player that may not be able to go on Sunday against Cleveland.

The Baltimore Sun’s Aaron Wilson reported that defensive tackle Timmy Jernigan has a meniscus injury in his knee, which could cause him to miss some time.

Jernigan didn’t practice on Wednesday.

Here’s the full injury report:

RAVENS

DID NOT PARTICIPATE: QB Joe Flacco (illness), DT Timmy Jernigan (knee), LT Eugene Monroe (knee)

FULL PARTICIPATION: CB Asa Jackson (concussion), CB Lardarius Webb (back)

BROWNS

DID NOT PARTICIPATE: RB Ben Tate (knee)

LIMITED PARTICIPATION: TE Jordan Cameron (shoulder), LB Barkevious Mingo (shoulder)

FULL PARTICIPATION: WR Travis Benjamin (knee), DL Desmond Bryant (wrist), DL John Hughes (hamstring), P Spencer Lanning (shoulder), OL Paul McQuistan (ankle), CB Buster Skrine (thumb)


Sep 17

Bengals CB Adam Jones: “I’ve Always Bet on Myself”

BENGALS CB ADAM JONES (On playing the Titans) I think we played them one time there, but I didn’t get to play. We played in Tennessee. (On being able to be on the field this week) There’s no added…

Sep 17

Bengals Coach Marvin Lewis: Titans Have “Explosive Defense up Front”

BENGALS HEAD COACH MARVIN LEWIS (On the Bengals’ success in the first two weeks) I think the key elements are doing a good job of taking care of the football offensively and really limiting the c…

Sep 17

NFL and its fans – A tragic love story

With the fans sharpening their pitchforks and the league backstepping off a cliff, you have to wonder how we got here.

With the fans sharpening their pitchforks and the league backstepping off a cliff, you have to wonder how we got here…

“Do you feel like we’re reaching a point we really just don’t care anymore?”

“How much more of this until we just don’t take this product seriously anymore?”

“I honestly wonder if I shouldn’t start covering another sport.”

This was a discussion I had today with a writer friend of mine, and they are honestly fair questions to be asked. At what point and time do fans and especially media turn away from the NFL as a whole? From the unjust and inconsistent punishments to the penalizing a play for being too vicious and then utilizing that highlight in a commercial to push more people to watch. The better question is can the fans turn their backs on the NFL?

The league has reached it’s breaking point of sorts with this latest fiasco, unfortunately started by former Ravens running back Ray Rice. Fans are in an uproar and have been for some time now in regards to all of this. From the outrage of the two game suspension for Rice with marijuana offenders getting a year suspension, to the newest outrage of the NFL possibly having access to the Rice tape and ignoring it to push it’s own agenda. Now teams are under fire for how they handle situations, starting with the Ravens’ PR all the way to the Vikings wavering on their dismissal of Adrian Peterson’s alleged child abuse. However, when you look at it, numbers are never better.

The NFL is a business and everyone will get in line to tell you that. Contract negotiations, salaries, rulings and gross profits all clearly show this fact. A business that gets money on the backs of sponsorships and views. Fans aren’t tuning out of the games or the news or the opinion articles.. in fact, they pile on in record numbers. For every one “Ugh, not another Ray Rice article” comment, I see ten or more comments that reiterate the same few opinions and create revenue for everyone involved. For all the outrage by fans towards the Ravens for their handling of the issue, the M&T Bank Stadium has been packed to the brim with fans salivating with their expectation of hard hits and big plays. This is partly the issue if you look deep enough at it.

The NFL will show a crushing hit on a quarterback not because they want to show people that they care about concussions and shame the hitter, but because they know that is what fans want to see and we gobble it up. We cringe at a helmet to a knee but will quickly hit the rewind button to see it again. We hoot and holler at the television when a guy gets hit so hard he walks to the sideline like the town drunk. Yet, we bash the NFL for it’s inconsistent stance on concussions and safety.

Fans, media and even people outside of the sports realm got on Roger Goodell for how he handled Bountygate. “He punished people too hard with not enough evidence” people screamed. Then people got on Goodell for how he handles Ricegate. “Two games for what he did!?”. We blame the league for punishment no matter how it goes and it’s clear that Goodell tried to alter his thinking from one scandal to another, but to no avail as he got strung up either way. Fans have come to call the NFL the “No Fun League”, yet are disgusted with how the NFL treats concussion victims. They cry and complain about how much players make, but cry and complain about the league not taking care of it’s own when a player shows up broke years later. Fans picket when a guy is convicted of murdering dogs, then put his jersey on every Sunday because he plays for their team now and helps them win.

That right there is the sum of it all… Fans only care and are only outraged when it fits their agenda. Because of that, the league ends up being a puppy looking for it’s ball. “Is Ray Rice a good guy that did a bad thing? Okay, two game suspension”… “Wait, he’s a bad guy now? Okay, suspended indefinitely”. The NFL just tells you what you are already asking for, so stop yelling at it for being bad when you gave it a treat for pissing on the floor.

But maybe that is just the NFL and Goodell. I mean it has to be just a bad commissioner that let the power get to his head. Let’s look at the other sports to see if the NFL stands alone.

Baseball has PEDs as it’s main problem and one that has stuck around for years because it makes a more interesting product on the television. Boxing has PEDs, corruption and out of the ring issues as it’s largest problems, yet Mayweather just earned a whopping guaranteed $32 million for his fight with people watching what was going to be a one-sided fight with a clear winner from the start. The UFC is getting the same problems as boxing, with it’s over-the-top CEO and consistent headlines for PED usage or fighters battering people, yet they are worth a reported $3.5 billion. Now which sport would you want to cover as a writer to get away from all of this? Unfortunately, we’ve entered human nature territory and you’ll see it in every sport.

It’s sad, but seriously flawed people are the ones that get into sports professionally. People with aggression issues and a drive to be the best at all cost. When that happens, stupid stuff will flow out from it regardless of how well it’s contained. Because the amount of money behind those morons, the leagues that promote them HAVE to continue to promote them in order to survive, due to our obsession with it. The only time you see a league jump from that mantra is when people come together and create an uproar and then you only see a minimal amount done until things have blown over and everything goes back the same.

It’s a terrible cycle and it burns out people that cover those leagues and the fans that are invested in a team going through it’s struggles. It chews up and spits out people that can’t close their eyes, cover their ears because they have to cover it; they have to write 15 stories about Ray Rice’s latest pimple. In the end we don’t care about the players any more than the owners or the league does, we just want to see our team win and our enemy lose. It’s depressing, but we can’t blame the league for how it handles things when they handle it exactly the way we ask them to.

Sep 17

Craig Stevens Crafting a Career, Both on and Off the Field

By Lauren McMillin NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Steve Jobs once said, “Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. …

Sep 17

Baltimore Ravens vs. Cleveland Browns: Spread Analysis and Pick Prediction

Baltimore has dominated the rivalry with Cleveland recently, winning 11 of the last 12 meetings straight-up while going 8-4 against the spread.

But the Browns are coming off a big upset victory over New Orleans, and they’re 5-2 ATS in their last seven divisional home games.

 

Point spread: The game opened as a pickem and has held steady through mid-week wagering; the total was 41.5. (Line updates and matchup report)

 

Odds Shark computer prediction: 20.9-15.6 Ravens

 

Why the Ravens can cover the spread

The Ravens are coming off a solid 26-6 victory over Pittsburgh last Thursday, covering the spread as field-goal favorites. Baltimore outrushed the Steelers 157 yards to 99, held the ball for over 35 minutes and won the turnover battle 3-0. That’s how you cover a spread.

QB Joe Flacco threw two short TD passes, and RB Bernard Pierce, acting as the main ground man with Ray Rice gone, produced 96 yards on 22 carries. Plus, Baltimore played last Thursday, so it has a couple extra days to prepare for Cleveland.

The Ravens have escaped several upset bids by the Browns in recent seasons, so maybe they hold a sort of mental edge over their AFC North rivals. The trends report suggests Baltimore can continue its spread-covering ways here.

 

Why the Browns can cover the spread

The Browns are coming off a big 26-24 home win over New Orleans, driving from their own 4-yard line in the final minutes to kick a game-winning field goal at the final whistle. Cleveland lost to the Saints on the stat sheet but forced one very big turnover, hurrying Drew Brees into a bad pass that was picked off and returned for a touchdown.

And Browns QB Brian Hoyer is showing he can play in the NFL, going 24-of-40 passing without an interception, converting three third-down throws into first downs during the Browns’ game-winning drive.

In fact, Cleveland is now 4-1 SU and 5-0 ATS in games Hoyer has started.

 

Smart Pick

This looks like a tough one, as the spread indicates. Both teams are coming off much-needed victories after tough season-opening losses. But perhaps the worm is ready to turn in this rivalry.

Baltimore had beaten Cleveland 11 times in a row, but several of the most recent meetings could have gone either way, and the Browns beat the Ravens in the second meeting between the teams last year. Baltimore isn’t what it used to be, and Cleveland is improving.

The pick here is with the Browns to extend their 5-2 ATS streak in divisional play.

 

Trends

  • Ravens 11-1 SU last 12 meetings with Browns
  • Ravens 5-1 ATS last six meetings at Cleveland
  • Ravens 0-4 SU & ATS last four road games vs. AFC North
  • Browns 5-2 ATS last seven home games vs. AFC North

 

Note: All spread and odds data powered by Odds Shark, follow us on Twitter for injury updates and line move updates.

Read more Baltimore Ravens news on BleacherReport.com

Sep 17

NFL, NFLPA agree to new performance-enhancing drugs policy

Three players eligible to return to their teams immediately.

The NFL and NFL Players Association have agreed to a new steroids policy that will go into effect immediately.

The key measure on the NFL’s side was to implement HGH testing, which it was able to get passed. It will be fully implemented this season. While the NFLPA had previously stated players will not be tested on game days, that was not mentioned in the NFL’s release on Wednesday, though that is still understood to be the case.

Third-party arbitrators will handle any appeals from players that tested positive for HGH.

As expected, players that tested positive for amphetamines during the offseason of the 2014 calendar year — Broncos receiver Wes Welker, Cowboys cornerback Orlando Scandrick and Rams receiver Stedman Bailey — will be eligible to rejoin their teams immediately instead of finishing out their suspensions.

Discipline on testing positive for HGH and performance-enhancing drugs will change too.

A first violation will get a player banned for up to six games depending on the severity of the offense. A second violation will get a player banned for 10 games. If a player tests positive a third time, the punishment increases to two years.

If a player tests positive for a banned stimulant, the punishment will be a four-game suspension.

The NFL is expected to soon announce amendments to its substance-abuse policy. As far as the Ravens are concerned, they should know where they stand with safety Will Hill, who is currently suspended for testing positive for marijuana during the offseason.


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