AFC North: Tampa Bay Buccaneers
August, 8, 2013
By Jamison Hensley | ESPN.com
Here are some thoughts on the Baltimore Ravens' 44-16 preseason win over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Raymond James Stadium:
- As far as the first-team offense goes, it was a forgettable performance. Joe Flacco went 7-of-9 for 57 yards in one quarter of work. His worst throw was getting the ball late to Jacoby Jones on the sideline, where it was intercepted by former Ravens cornerback Danny Gorrer. The offensive line didn't open many holes for Ray Rice (7 yards on three carries) and let an unblocked Lavonte David sack Flacco, while left tackle Bryant McKinnie was standing and blocking no one).
- Two newcomers on defense, defensive lineman Chris Canty and inside linebacker Daryl Smith, made great first impressions. On the first three plays of the game, Canty pushed his blocker back (which led to a 1-yard loss on a run), hurried quarterback Josh Freeman into an incompletion and then sacked Freeman on third down. Smith was everywhere in that first quarter and displayed great awareness when he jumped on an inside screen pass.
- There were two injuries of note, but it appears neither is serious. Backup running back Bernard Pierce limped off the field after scoring a 20-yard touchdown and didn't get another touch the rest of the game. Wide receiver Deonte Thompson, who is fighting for a starting job, appeared to hurt his ankle late in the second quarter. Because it occurred with less than two minutes remaining, Thompson made sure he got off the field so the Ravens wouldn't be charged with a timeout. Asked about the injuries after the game, coach John Harbaugh told reporters, "We're looking pretty good right now."
- Wide receiver LaQuan Williams made a strong case to make the team. Williams knows he has to to have a presence on special teams and he came up big, recovering a fumble of a muffed punt return and recovering a blocked punt in the end zone for a touchdown. He also caught a 21-yard touchdown pass in the third quarter.
- Nothing was cleared up in the Ravens' competition for the No. 2 receiver spot. Thompson had one catch for 5 yards, and Jacoby Jones and Tandon Doss both didn't make a reception. Jones couldn't hold onto a Flacco pass on third-and-2 in the first quarter.
- Based on the limited action for the first-team defense, it looks like Courtney Upshaw will play outside linebacker on running downs and Elvis Dumervil will come on the field for passing situations. Dumervil, the team's biggest free-agent pickup, is regarded as one of the top pass-rushers in the league.
- The Ravens obviously want to give a lot of work to backup quarterback Tyrod Taylor, who hasn't seen much playing time in the regular season in his two previous seasons. He completed 13 of 23 passes (56.5 percent) for 154 yards and two touchdowns. His last touchdown pass, a 21-yarder to Aaron Mellette, showed nice touch. Taylor also ran for 27 yards.
April, 26, 2012
By Jamison Hensley | ESPN.com
Most assume the Cleveland Browns will take running back Trent Richardson with the fourth overall pick. But, at this point, the Browns can't assume he's going to be available when they're on the clock.
The Minnesota Vikings could be the Browns' worst enemy because they're apparently shopping the third overall pick.
One team that the Browns apparently don't have to worry about is the New York Jets. A day after speculation started that the Jets could be interested in trading up 13 spots to take Richardson, ESPN's Sal Paolantonio reported Thursday that there is a "zero-point-zero percent chance" the Jets will make such a move.
A bigger threat to take Richardson away from the Browns is the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, who currently have the No. 5 pick. This would be an easier trade to work out, but the Buccaneers might not be willing to give up any picks. Tampa Bay has several needs and only six draft choices.
Another team to watch is the St. Louis Rams, who are at No. 6. ESPN's Todd McShay estimated that there's a 20 percent chance that the Rams would trade up for Richardson.
"They are infatuated with Trent Richardson," McShay told ESPN's "Mike & Mike In the Morning", "and would at least consider it or try to see if they would get a good deal to move up."
If a team trades up to get Richardson, the Browns will have an opportunity to move down because there will teams interested to move up for offensive tackle Matt Kalil. According to the NFL Network, the Buffalo Bills are thinking of jumping from No. 10 to get Kalil and would give up their second-round pick (41st overall) to do so (which would almost satisfy the draft-pick value chart). The Browns could fall back to that spot and get Notre Dame wide receiver Michael Floyd.
It's also possible that the Browns don't care if Richardson is there or not. Cleveland could be targeting Oklahoma wide receiver Justin Blackmon or LSU cornerback Morris Claiborne at No. 4. In that scenario, the Browns would take a running back like Boise State's Doug Martin with their second first-round pick (22nd overall) or their second-round one (No. 37).