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News » Baltimore Ravens Strategy and Personnel 2008-08-18


Baltimore Ravens Strategy and Personnel 2008-08-18


Baltimore Ravens Strategy and Personnel 2008-08-18
The Ravens signed four-time Pro Bowl FB Lorenzo Neal, adding much-needed versatility and experience to their backfield.


Neal, 37, has been the lead blocker for a 1,000-yard rusher for 11 straight seasons.

This is Neal's seventh NFL team and second stint with offensive coordinator Cam Cameron. He was Cameron's starting fullback for four seasons when both were with the San Diego Chargers (2003-06).

Neal was released by the Chargers in February, just one season removed from being the league's highest-paid fullback.

"He's one of the finest professionals that I've had the privilege to work with," Cameron said. "When you talk about a Raven -- a guy who is physical, competitive and wants to win -- one of the first guys I thought of was Lorenzo Neal. He's going to be a great complement to Le'Ron (McClain)."

The Ravens were down to one fullback after they released Justin Green.

Cameron said the Ravens would play both Neal and McClain at fullback as well as use them in tandem. When Neal is at fullback, the Ravens are considering playing McClain at tailback.

The Ravens are dealing with depth issues at tailback because Willis McGahee will miss time after undergoing arthroscopic knee surgery. At 6 feet, 260 pounds, McClain would be one of the league's biggest tailbacks.

"That's a realistic possibility," Cameron said of using McClain at tailback. "That's not something we're going to do in an emergency. With Willis' situation, it helps us. It gives us some depth that we didn't have."

In another move, the Ravens re-signed Anwar Phillips, whom they waived Aug. 1 to add RB Alex Haynes.

"I understood what it was," Phillips said of his release. "I'm not happy with what I did today. I was working out, but it's totally different even in practice. I just want to be able to come back and display a better job."

To make room for Phillips, the team waived OL Isaiah Wiggins.

--The team placed two backups, RB P.J. Daniels (shoulder) and LB Prescott Burgess (wrist), on injured reserve, ending their seasons.

The Ravens also released FB Justin Green, a fifth-round pick in 2005 who had a presence on special teams. Because of the number of injuries, the Ravens needed to cut Green from the 80-man roster to add more depth at other positions.

--RB Willis McGahee will remain the starting running back despite Ray Rice's strong effort in the second preseason game, coach John Harbaugh said. McGahee had arthroscopic knee surgery and missed the second preseason game, but the Ravens expect him to be ready for the regular-season opener.

--RB Ray Rice led the Ravens with 77 yards rushing and one touchdown, but he won't take away the starting job from Willis McGahee. Coach John Harbaugh said McGahee will regain the starting job when healthy.

--QB Troy Smith failed to take the lead in the Ravens' quarterback battle. In his first start of the preseason, he had more yards rushing (35) than passing (25). He also threw an interception, his first turnover of the preseason.

--QB Kyle Boller put together his second mediocre performance as the Ravens' quarterback battle remains tight. He was 8-for-12 for just 40 yards. His final pass was an interception, his third turnover of the night.

--CB Chris McAlister missed most of training camp with a knee injury but he is expected to return before the third preseason game. Keeping him sidelined has been a precautionary move. He is expected to start the regular-season opener.

--DE-LB Terrell Suggs is expected to report to the Ravens this week and sign his franchise tender. He missed all of training camp. He will play about 15 snaps in the third preseason game and will be ready for the regular-season opener.

BATTLE OF THE WEEK: Yamon Figurs vs. Marcus Smith for No. 3 WR -- Neither took a step forward in the second preseason game. Figurs had one catch for 10 yards. Smith, who has had a strong training camp, was held without a reception.

OTHER BATTLE FRONTS: Kyle Boller vs. Troy Smith for starting QB -- The quarterback race remains tight because neither has stood out. Both threw interceptions on their last passes in the second preseason game. Boller was 8-for-12 for 40 yards. Smith had more yards rushing (35) than passing (25). ... Samari Rolle vs. Fabian Washington for starting CB -- Washington was limited in the second preseason game because of neck spasms. He was beaten for a 22-yard touchdown in the first quarter. Rolle has not helped his chances by being sidelined for both preseason games. He was out for the second preseason game because of a knee injury.

PLAYER OF THE WEEK: RB Ray Rice -- He was the one bright spot for the Ravens offense in the second preseason game. Filling in for the injured Willis McGahee, Rice rushed for 77 yards and a touchdown. He broke a 42-yard run and then scored on a 6-yard run against the Minnesota Vikings, who led the NFL in run defense last season.

ROOKIE REPORT: QB Joe Flacco (first round) followed up a rough preseason opener with a decent second game. He completed 10 of 15 passes for 74 yards. But John Harbaugh said Flacco is a long-shot to start the regular-season opener. ... RB Ray Rice (second round) was the lone highlight on offense in the second preseason game, rushing for 77 yards and a touchdown. But Harbaugh said Willis McGahee will remain the starter despite Rice's performance. ... LB Tavares Gooden (third round) didn't play the second preseason game because of a hip injury. ... WR Marcus Smith (fourth round) has had a strong camp but was held without a catch in the second preseason game.

INJURY REPORT: WR Demetrius Williams (lower left leg) remains on the physically-unable-to-perform list.

TE Daniel Wilcox (toe) passed his physical and was removed from the physically-unable-to-perform list.

OT Jared Gaither (ankle) and Adam Terry (ankle) are day-to-day and could return this week.

DT Haloti Ngata (knee sprain) is expected to return to practice and play in the third preseason game.

DT Kelly Gregg (leg) had arthroscopic surgery on his left knee. He is day-to-day and might return to practice this week.

CB Chris McAlister (knee) is expected to return to practice this week after missing two preseason games.

RB Willis McGahee (knee) had arthroscopic knee surgery but the Ravens said he will be ready for the regular-season opener.

TE Todd Heap (calf) missed the first two preseason games but he is not expected to be out for an extended time. He is expected to be ready for the regular-season opener.

FS Ed Reed (shoulder) has missed the first two preseason games and has not been cleared for contact. Reed said he is uncertain whether he will be ready for the regular-season opener. But the Ravens contend that he will start Sept. 7 against the Cincinnati Bengals.



Author:Fox Sports
Author's Website:http://www.foxsports.com
Added: August 18, 2008

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Mark Clayton Name: Mark Clayton
#89
Position: WR
Age: 26
Experience: 4 years
College: Oklahoma
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