July 2013

OWINGS MILLS, Md. (AP) -- The Baltimore Ravens can't afford to sulk over the loss of Dennis Pitta.
COMMENTARY | As the captain and vocal leader of the New York Giants' defense, Justin Tuck undoubtedly has the most to prove for the 2013 season.
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) -- When the New York Giants released Michael Boley in a salary-cap move after missing the playoffs last season, many expected Jacquian Williams to inherit the weakside linebacker job.
In a National Football League built for passing, it should be logical that the most important offseason moves are those that best match up quarterbacks and receivers, in the draft, with trades or through free agency.
SPARTANBURG, S.C. (AP) -- Panthers general manager Dave Gettleman said quarterback Cam Newton is a player he can build the franchise around.
Veteran fullback is a free agent
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- Second-year wide receiver Rueben Randle thinks he can be a key contributor for the New York Giants this season.
The "Shutdown Countdown" has entered the home stretch. In addition to previewing each team, Shutdown Corner will be taking a brief look at each team's salary cap situation heading into the 2013 season and beyond. We continue the series with the defending Super Bowl champion Baltimore Ravens. 2013 Adjusted Cap Number : $122.88 million (27th in the NFL in 2013) 2013 Cap Room Remaining : $7.819 million (16th in the NFL, as of July 29). That number does not include the contract for fullback Vonta Leach, who re-signed on Monday. [Related: Lack of passing weapons could limit Ravens ] Best Bargain : Marshal Yanda is one of the best guards in the NFL, earning Pro Bowl and second-team All-Pro honors after each of the last two seasons. According to the Football Outsiders Almanac 2013, Yanda did not have a blown block that led to a sack and had just one blown block on a run play. Yanda is due $4.5 million in base salary this season, which ranks outside the Top 10 among current guard contracts in the NFL. Potential Camp Cap Casualty : The Ravens did most of their cutting earlier this offseason by releasing Brendon Ayanbadejo, Bobbie Williams and Bernard Pollard for salary cap purposes. With over $7 million in cap space, the cap won't be much of a factor when the Ravens are shaping their 53-man roster. One player who might have been a cap casualty is cornerback Corey Graham, a player who joined the team last season as a core special teams player, but played, and played well, when Lardarius Webb went down with an injury. Graham is due $2.05 million, but is likely too important to the defense to cut this summer.
Editor's note: YCN contributor Dave Tobener has compiled his list of the 10 greatest athletes for San Francisco. Readers will determine by poll (upper right side of the page) who's No. 1. Results will be revealed Friday, Aug. 2.
When the Baltimore Ravens entered the final five weeks of the 2012 regular season, they found themselves at 9-2 and were in the midst of a second four-game winning streak of the season. Despite that impressive win total, there were glaring problems on the offensive side of the football. The Ravens managed just three field goals and 298 yards of offense in a 9-6 win over the hapless Kansas City Chiefs. Two weeks later, they gained just 176 yards and 12 first downs in a 43-13 pasting at the hands of the Houston Texans. The Ravens managed to hang on and beat a Ben Roethlisberger-less Pittsburgh Steelers team on Nov. 18 and the following week got the infamous " 4th and 29 " play to force overtime and beat the San Diego Chargers. After gaining 288 yards in a 23-20 loss to the Steelers on Dec. 2, and scoring just one touchdown in the second half of a 31-28 loss to the Washington Redskins, the Ravens dismissed Cam Cameron and promoted Jim Caldwell, who had never coordinated an offense at any level during his coaching career. Though the Ravens lost a third straight game the following week, the offense began to click under Caldwell, particularly in the running game. Over the final two weeks of the season, the Ravens gained 430 yards on the ground as rookie Bernard Pierce took on a slightly larger role. The Ravens got a 10th win to finish in first place ahead of the 10-6 Cincinnati Bengals in the AFC North. In the playoffs, Caldwell made the curious decision to shuffle the offensive line by Michael Oher back to right tackle, rookie Kelechi Osomele was moved to left guard and Bryant McKinnie was insert at left tackle. That unit would pave the way for a rushing attack that averaged 134.8 yards in the playoffs and would keep quarterback Joe Flacco mostly clean throughout the playoffs, allowing just six sacks as Flacco passes for 1,140 yards with 11 touchdowns and zero interceptions as the Ravens defeated the Indianapolis Colts, Denver Broncos, New England Patriots and, in Super Bowl XLVII, the San Francisco 49ers to hoist the second Lombardi Trophy in franchise history. The 2013 offseason has brought about many changes to the Ravens roster. Seven of the 22 players that started the Super Bowl are gone, and an eighth player (Dennis Pitta, who didn't officially start as the Ravens opened in "20" personnel) will miss the season with a hip injury suffered early in training camp. The leadership core of Ray Lewis and Ed Reed are gone, with Reed trying to continue his Hall of Fame career with the Houston Texans and Lewis staying in the public eye with a studio gig at ESPN while he awaits his call from Canton, Ohio. [Related: Ravens' Michael Oher, Terrence Cody will be key free agents in 2014 ] Head coach John Harbaugh and general manager Ozzie Newsome remain, however, as does Flacco, who was kept off the free agent market with a six-year, $120.6 million contract extension. A return trip to the Super Bowl is unlikely, and the Ravens may struggle to keep the Bengals and Steelers at bay in the AFC Norht, but the presence of Newsome, Harbaugh and Flacco on this team is why the Ravens are so high on this list and why, on paper, they remain one of the top teams in the AFC entering the 2013 season.

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