OWING MILLS, Md. -- Baltimore Ravens defensive lineman Chris Canty has been granted medical clearance to wear a special facemask, according to NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy.
The Baltimore Ravens plan to sign veteran wide receiver Brandon Stokley, according to a Baltimore Sun report.
Brandon Stokley caught three passes for 52 yards and a 38-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Trent Dilfer in helping lead the Baltimore Ravens to their first Super Bowl victory in a 34-7 win over the New York Giants in Super Bowl XXXV. Thirteen years later, Stokley is returning to the place where his career began.…
There was a point in the 2012 season where the New England Patriots found themselves with a 3-3 record and in a four-way tie for first place (or four-way tie for last, if you're a fan of The Minutemen, a seminal punk band from the 1980s) in the AFC East. If the Patriots had a sense that didn't belong in that tie, it would be justified by having their three losses come by a total of four points. First came a 20-18 loss to the lowly Arizona Cardinals, a game the Patriots were in position to win before Stephen Gostkowski's fifth field goal attempt of the game sailed wide from 42 yards out. The following week, the Patriots had a nine-point lead over the Baltimore Ravens in the fourth quarter before Baltimore's offense gained 162 yards on 15 plays over two drives and scored 10 points, including a 27-yard field goal from rookie kicker Justin Tucker as time expired. [Related: Patriots' Aqib Talib, Brandon Spikes playing for new contracts ] The third loss came in Week 6 to the Seattle Seahawks. Up 23-17 in the final two minutes, Seahawks rookie quarterback Russell Wilson hit Sidney Rice for a 46-yard touchdown to give Seattle the lead. Tom Brady would throw two incomplete passes, take a sack and the swarming Seahawks defense would keep Wes Welker short of the sticks on a 4th-and-17 play to force a turnover on downs. After the game, Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman would get in Brady's face to ask "U Mad, Bro?". Yes, Brady was mad. After the loss in Seattle, the Patriots would win seven straight games, with Brady passing for 1,692 yards with 19 touchdowns and one interception as New England outscored their opponents by an average of 21 points per game. The Patriots nearly ran their win streak to eight, completely erasing a 31-3 second-half deficit to the San Francisco 49ers before allowing 10 fourth-quarter points in a 41-34 loss. The Patriots would close out their season with back-to-back wins to finish 12-4, the 10th consecutive season the Patriots had won 10 or more games. In the playoffs, the Patriots trounced the Houston Texans to advance to the AFC championship game, but All-Pro tight end Rob Gronkowski broke his left forearm for the second time in three months and was done for the season. In addition to losing Gronkowski, cornerback Aqib Talib, acquired from the Tampa Bay Buccaneers midway through the season, injured his thigh in the first quarter of the AFC championship game against the Ravens. Without Talib, the Patriots struggled to cover wide receiver Anquan Boldin, whose 60 yards and a pair of touchdowns catapulted the Ravens into Super Bowl XLVII with a 28-13 win in Foxboro. 2013 has been a very eventful offseason for the Patriots. It started out great, as Brady signed a three-year, $57 million contract extension in February that gave the Patriots some cap room to work with in the offseason. Unfortunately, most of the news involving the Patriots has been controversial, bad and downright tragic. The Patriots were unable to re-sign Welker, who turned down New England's offer to to sign a similar deal with Peyton Manning and the Denver Broncos. To replace Welker, the Patriots had signed Danny Amendola, who has been compared to Welker throughout his career, largely because they're both white wide receivers who entered the NFL as undrafted free agents after playing their college ball at Texas A&M. That's where the comparisons stop as Welker has been far more productive, and far more durable, than the slightly bigger and slightly more athletic Amendola has been during his career. Gronkowski, the best tight end in the NFL, underwent multiple surgeries on his forearm before having back surgery in June, which puts his availability for the first half of the season in jeopardy. While Gronkowski was getting frequent flier miles on the operating table, the Patriots invited the circus to town when they signed free agent Tim Tebow to replace Mike Kafka as the No. 3 quarterback on the roster. Rock bottom was struck when tight end Aaron Hernandez was arrested and charged with first-degree murder in June, prompting the Patriots to release a player who less than a year earlier had signed a five-year, $37.5 million extension with $16 million in guaranteed money. Around the same time, starting cornerback Alfonzo Dennard, who slid to the seventh-round of the 2012 NFL draft because of off-field issues (assaulting a police officer), was arrested in Lincoln, Neb. on suspicion of DUI. The Patriots are turning the page, however, beginning with a "jersey exchange" at their Pro Shop that reportedly cost the team $250,000. In their comments at the start of training camp, owner Robert Kraft, head coach Bill Belichick and Brady have all referred to the team reemphasizing the "Patriot Way" in how they conduct themselves on and off the field. There are legitimate questions about how the passing offense will fare with so much turnover at wide receiver and tight end, but Josh McDaniels is a very smart offensive coordinator who will adjust and adapt his play-calling to fit the personnel. The defense should be solid and the Patriots should have little trouble winning the AFC East and securing one of the top two seeds in the AFC.
OWINGS MILLS, Md. (AP) -- The Baltimore Ravens can't afford to sulk over the loss of Dennis Pitta.
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.
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.
Fullback Vonta Leach, who was cut by the Baltimore Ravens on June 11, is re-signing with the Ravens, the team announced Monday.
OWINGS MILLS, Md. (AP) -- The Baltimore Ravens never gave up hope of getting back fullback Vonta Leach, and Monday they got their wish.
With all the talk about today’s NFL being a game in which quarterbacks rule the day and everything else runs one step behind, the Houston Texans have built a consistently winning team with a decidedly old-school archetype. Their best player in 2012 was a defensive lineman (J.J. Watt), their primary receiver is an under-the-radar superstar, their quarterback stands a bit above average, and the real fulcrum of the team lies in a power-based, zone running game. They had the NFL’s fewest shotgun plays in 2012, and ran more than most teams when they were behind, even late in games,when they were behind – 34 percent of all such plays in the second half, to be specific. In 2012, the Texans finished the regular season with a 12-4 record, the best record in franchise history. They finished in the top 10 in offensive and defensive points and yards, the first time they’d done so in franchise history. And yet, the Texans are seen by some as a disappointment, because they haven’t been able to advance meaningfully in the postseason. They’ve beaten the Cincinnati Bengals in the wild-card rounds of the last two AFC playoffs, and they’ve lost to the Baltimore Ravens and New England Patriots, respectively, in the next round. Something is going to have to pop for the Texans to take the next step, and most think that the pressure is most on quarterback Matt Schaub. Schaub’s problem is not that he’s a bad quarterback; rather, the issue seems to be his inability to rise to that nebulous “elite” level, and he’s going to hear a lot about that this season. Matter of fact, he’s already heard a lot about it. "He understands that. He knows that. And he does have to play better in those situations for us to take our team to the next level," general manager Rick Smith recently told the NFL Network , when asked about Schaub’s performances in big games. The Texans seem to be set for another AFC South title. But how far will they go this season when the lights get bright? Schaub is 32 years old. Andre Johnson has been one of the league’s best receivers for a very long time, but he’s 32 as well. There’s talent old and young along the team’s entire roster, but there’s also a sense that the window might be closing. And if the Texans don’t advance further in the postseason this year, one wonders if more major changes will be made.

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