NFL Nation: C.J. Mosley

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Elvis Dumervil, LB, fourth Pro Bowl selection: His 17 sacks set a Ravens single-season record and ranks third in the NFL. Only Kansas City's Justin Houston (18 sacks) and Houston's J.J. Watt (17.5) have more. He also has seven multisack performances in 2014, bringing his career total to 29, which is tied with DeMarcus Ware for the league’s second-most since 2006.

Who he beat out: Washington Redskins' Ryan Kerrigan didn't make the cut despite ranking fifth with 13.5 sacks.

C.J. Mosley, LB, first Pro Bowl selection: The first Ravens rookie to make the Pro Bowl, Mosley is the NFL’s only player with at least 115 tackles, three sacks and two interceptions this season. His 122 tackles rank seventh in the league and first among rookies. He is considered the favorite to win NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year and would become the first Ravens player to earn that honor since Terrell Suggs in 2003.

Who he beat out: Tampa Bay's Lavonte David ranks second in the NFL with 141 tackles and has forced three fumbles.

Marshal Yanda, G, fourth Pro Bowl selection: He's the highest-ranked offensive lineman by Pro Football Focus. Yanda is a mauling run-blocker and solid pass protector, giving up one sack this season. With Yanda, the Ravens have allowed 18 sacks (second fewest in the NFL) and have averaged 126 yards rushing per game (seventh most in the NFL).

Who he beat out: He's arguably the best lineman in football, so technically he beat out everyone. But Cleveland Browns rookie Joel Bitonio got snubbed after receiving the second-highest grade for a guard.


Justin Forsett, RB: His career season should've been recognized with a Pro Bowl invitation. Forsett ranks first in yards per carry (5.3) and sixth in the NFL in rushing with 1,147 yards. His 14 runs of 20 yards or longer is tied with DeMarco Murray for most in the NFL.

Who he should have beaten out: Philadelphia's LeSean McCoy averages fewer yards per carry (4.1) than Forsett and has scored three fewer touchdowns than him.

Sam Koch, P: He ranks first in the NFL in net average (43.5) and second in gross average (47.4). Koch has also placed 48 percent of his punts inside the 20-yard line, which is fifth-best in the league. That should've been enough to earn him his first Pro Bowl selection.

Who he should have beaten out: Cincinnati's Kevin Huber ranks behind Koch in both average and net average. Huber has three more punts inside the 20-yard line but he has 16 more punts than Koch.

Terrell Suggs, LB: The six-time Pro Bowl player is still among the top all-around linebackers in the game. Suggs is one of seven players with 50-plus tackles and at least 11 sacks.

Who he should have beaten out: Kansas City's Tamba Hali has totaled six sacks (five fewer than Suggs) and 57 tackles (one fewer than Suggs). Suggs is also the highest-ranked run-stopper at outside linebacker by Pro Football Focus, and Hali is No. 28.
ALLEN PARK, Mich. -- Dominic Raiola did this to himself.

That is the easiest way to explain why the longtime Detroit Lions center was suspended Monday for one of the biggest games of his 14-year career in Detroit -- a NFC North title game against the Green Bay Packers.

Raiola’s history as well as Sunday’s stomp on Ego Ferguson’s ankle led the NFL to make this move as the league cited his six safety-related violations since 2010 as part of the reason for the suspension. That he stomped on the ankle of the Chicago defensive lineman and then insisted afterward it was unintentional was just the last in a string of incidents.

Even though Raiola called it unintentional, the league clearly saw it differently, and barring a reversal on appeal at his hearing Tuesday, he will sit for the Lions on Sunday against the Packers. And he can’t blame anyone else for it.

Earlier this season, Raiola was caught taking a swing at the back of the head of New England defensive lineman Zach Moore -- drawing a fine of $10,000. He wasn’t fined for the initial play that caught people’s attention at first, which was a cut block on Moore when the Detroit Lions were kneeling for the game's final play.

Raiola was unapologetic then, and though he apologized to Ferguson and other Chicago players this time, it wasn’t enough for him to avoid a suspension.

Last season, he had to apologize and make a donation to the Wisconsin marching band after making inappropriate comments toward them during the Green Bay-Detroit game. He also used an obscene gesture and got into a verbal altercation with a fan in Miami in 2010 -- costing him $15,000 -- and was fined $7,500 in 2008 for making an inappropriate gesture to a Lions fan after the team dropped to 0-13.

So Raiola has acted this way from time-to-time for a long time, and it finally caught up to him at one of the worst times for the Detroit Lions, as they get ready for one of the biggest games in franchise history.

It also calls into question where the Lions sit with discipline right now. Lions coach Jim Caldwell has been fairly strong on disciplining his players so far this season, having suspended Brandon Pettigrew for a quarter against Tampa Bay for a violation of team rules and suspending Joique Bell for the first quarter of Sunday’s game against Chicago for a violation of team rules.

He also sent C.J. Mosley home from London and suspended him for two weeks for a violation of team rules.

Those were off-field issues, though, and they are something Caldwell talks about with his team constantly.

"Every week," Caldwell said. "It’s kind of where the high cost for low living comes in, so you cover the gamut and you’ve got to keep it before them."

Now, Caldwell can use Raiola’s actions as another teaching point -- to play cleaner on the field. This was even an issue for Detroit on Sunday beyond Raiola’s stomp. Defensive end Ezekiel Ansah was flagged for unnecessary roughness when he made contact with the head of Chicago quarterback Jimmy Clausen. Clausen was found to have a concussion after the game, likely stemming from Ansah’s illegal hit, and already has been ruled out for the Bears' finale against Minnesota.

Typically, there is not much of a reason to make a big deal about penalties, especially considering Seattle, New England and Denver have all committed more infractions than the Lions this season. But Caldwell has made a point of saying any more than three penalties a game is too much.

That’s a mark Detroit has yet to hit this season. Now, after the most experienced player in the locker room is missing perhaps the biggest game of his career because of on-field shenanigans, Caldwell can use it to bring home his point even more.

Play clean on the field. Do things right off of it. Otherwise, there will be consequences, as the Detroit Lions have continued to find out throughout the season.

CHICAGO -- The Detroit Lions talked a good game after playing a fairly bad one Sunday afternoon.

They said all the right things about knowing they need to improve, despite winning another game on the road, and being in the playoffs for the first time since 2011. But there’s a difference between saying it and believing it and actually doing it.

Right now, the Lions need to start doing what they’ve been saying for weeks -- namely, improving on slow starts and overall on offense after another somewhat sluggish 20-14 win over Chicago on Sunday.

The Lions keep winning these close, somewhat ugly games. These are games the Lions often lost in past years, and there is some value in how Detroit has pulled off these wins, even when the offense and special teams were not playing well.

But the Lions have beat up a lot of sub-par teams this season. Detroit has beaten only two teams with winning records through 16 weeks -- Miami and Green Bay -- and both those wins were at Ford Field. Barring an unexpected trip to the NFC South winner in the playoffs, the Lions are going to face teams with high levels of talent and winning records the rest of the way.

Simply put, the Lions need to be better than they were Sunday against Chicago if they want to win the NFC North or make any sort of extended run in the playoffs.

“That’s clear to see that we’ve got to play better,” wide receiver Calvin Johnson said. “We can’t turn the ball over three times. You can’t win against a good team while turning the ball over three times. Not saying Chicago wasn’t a good team, but we just grinded it out today.”

The Lions didn’t play particularly well in any facet Sunday. They were hampered by too many mistakes on offense, including Matthew Stafford's throwing two red zone interceptions -- the same number of red zone interceptions he had thrown over his prior 32 games combined.

Special-teams play was atrocious and led to both Chicago scores. Lions returner Jeremy Ross muffed catching a punt and allowed Chicago to recover and score a touchdown. A roughing-the-punter penalty extended another Bears drive that led to a touchdown.

On defense, the Lions allowed journeyman quarterback Jimmy Clausen, in his first start since the 2010 season, to have his first career multi-touchdown day.

“We’ve got a ways to go, as you can see,” defensive tackle C.J. Mosley said. “Today wasn’t the prettiest of games. We’ve got a lot of things to correct. Just to get better, still a lot of things to work at.”

A lot of that begins with the first halves of games, in which the Lions have outscored their opponents 150-143. In the second halves of games, the Lions have played much better and outscored their opponents 151-109.

Detroit has trailed at halftime in six of its games and was tied with the Bears on Sunday. The Lions also have scored fewer than 10 points in the first half of six games this year.

The Lions also committed all three of their turnovers in the first half and once again spotted a team a lead. Often this season, Detroit has been able to overcome that. It’s why the Lions are a playoff team instead of one already knowing they’d be watching at home this season.

“We can start faster. A faster start in the playoffs because all teams are good,” cornerback Rashean Mathis said. “They got there for a reason, so you don’t want to be lagging behind. You don’t want to be behind the eight ball, especially when it’s self-inflicted.”

The “self-inflicted” issues were everywhere in Detroit’s first half Sunday, and it is something the team has to fix as soon as it can, if it wants to avoid a premature end to the season.
With six weeks left in the regular season, Baltimore Ravens inside linebacker C.J. Mosley continues to be the favorite for NFL defensive rookie of the year. He is the only NFL defender with at least 85 tackles, an interception, a fumble recovery and a forced fumble.

The 17th overall pick in the draft, Mosley ranks first among rookies and No. 8 in the league with 87 tackles. He is tied for second among all linebackers with seven passes defensed.

Here is a look at Mosley's chief competition:

DT Aaron Donald, St. Louis Rams: Even though he didn't start until the fifth game of the season, Donald has been most productive member of a disappointing defensive front. He leads all rookie defensive linemen in tackles (27) and sacks (four). The 13th overall pick, Donald is the third-highest graded defensive lineman by Pro Football Focus. He is behind Detroit's Ndamukong Suh and Buffalo's Kyle Williams.

OLB Khalil Mack, Oakland Raiders: Known for his pass rush ability in college, Mack has been a playmaker against the run as well as the pass. The fifth overall pick, Mack has the fifth-most tackles among rookie linebackers with 56. He only has one sack this season, but he is fourth among all linebackers with 26 quarterback hurries. Mack is the second-highest graded outside linebacker by Pro Football Focus.

OLB Anthony Barr, Minnesota Vikings: Barr gained attention when he won a game at Tampa Bay, forcing a fumble and returning it 27 yards for a touchdown in overtime. He became just the sixth rookie named NFC defensive player of the week in the past 10 seasons. The ninth overall pick in the draft, Barr has been disruptive with four sacks. But he's missed 19 tackles this season, the most of any linebacker in the NFL.
The Baltimore Ravens' season is only a little over halfway complete, and this year's rookie class has already distinguished itself as the most immediately productive in coach John Harbaugh's seven seasons.

No other group of rookies have been on the field more than this year's one. Seven first-year players have logged at least 95 snaps this season. How special is that? The previous six rookie classes have never had more than four players contribute that much for an entire season, much less the first 10 games of a season like these current rookies.

Inside linebacker C.J. Mosley is the leading candidate for NFL defensive rookie of the year, and Timmy Jernigan is a big part of the defensive line rotation. Crockett Gillmore is the team's No. 2 tight end, safety Terrence Brooks is getting more playing time in passing situations and Lorenzo Taliaferro has been the backup running back for most of the year. Offensive tackle James Hurst and guard John Urschel formed the left side of the Ravens' line for two games.

[+] EnlargeC.J. Mosley
Patrick Smith/Getty ImagesRavens rookie C.J. Mosley is the top contender for NFL defensive rookie of the year.
The Ravens have made bigger splashes under Harbaugh. The first draft class under him brought in a franchise quarterback (Joe Flacco) and the eventual No. 2 rusher in team history (Ray Rice). The Ravens have found a handful of starters in certain years. Four starters on this year's team were drafted in 2013: safety Matt Elam, nose tackle Brandon Williams, fullback Kyle Juszczyk and offensive tackle Rick Wagner.

But no recent Ravens rookie group has been as deep as this year's one.

"This year probably has been one of our best years," coach John Harbaugh said. "It’s a good group of young guys. They‘re very motivated. They work really hard. They love football. I don’t see their heads in a lot of different places. I see them thinking about football every single day, and those are the kind of guys you want to bring in.”

Here's a look at this year's rookie class player by player:

ILB C.J. Mosley (first round): His 90 tackles rank fourth in the NFL and are 22 more than any other rookie in the NFL. Mosley has a great chance to become the Ravens' first NFL defensive rookie of the year since Terrell Suggs in 2003.

DT Timmy Jernigan (second round): His ability to disrupt goes beyond his 11 tackles and one sack. Jernigan is the second highest-rated rookie defensive lineman, according to Pro Football Focus.

CB Terrence Brooks (third round): It's been an up-and-down rookie season. Brooks' best play was his knockout hit of Titans tight end Delanie Walker last Sunday. His worst came last month when he gave up a 53-yard reception to Mohamed Sanu on third down, which led to Cincinnati's winning touchdown.

TE Crockett Gillmore (third round): He's the 13th-best run blocking tight end, according to Pro Football Focus. His six receptions rank fifth among rookie tight ends.

RB Lorenzo Taliaferro (fourth round): After losing a critical fumble in Pittsburgh, Taliaferro dropped behind Bernard Pierce on the depth chart last Sunday. His 257 yards rushing rank ninth among rookies and his four touchdowns are tied for third.

G John Urschel (fifth round): He started two games at left guard in October (both wins), moving ahead of Gino Gradkowski on the depth chart. Urschel also played one snap at center last Sunday when Jeremy Zuttah left briefly with an injury.

WR Michael Campanaro (seventh round): He was starting to find his niche as the team's slot receiver, recording a season-high 40 yards receiving at Cincinnati. But a hamstring injury has sidelined him the past two games.

OT James Hurst (undrafted): He became the first rookie to start at left tackle for the Ravens since Michael Oher in 2009. Hurst struggled in his four starts, committing four penalties and giving up three sacks. Still, this was a lot to ask of an undrafted rookie.

ILB Zachary Orr (undrafted): He's primarily a special teams player who has played in all but one game. Three penalties in four games led to him sitting one week.

NOTE: DE Brent Urban (fourth round) is on injured reserve after tearing his anterior cruciate ligament, and QB Keith Wenning (sixth round) is on the practice squad.
ALLEN PARK, Mich. -- The Detroit Lions return from their bye to face the Miami Dolphins, kicking off the second half of their season. Here are four things to watch.

1. Defensive tackle rotation: The Lions and defensive coordinator Teryl Austin have been good about being able to mask season-ending injuries to Stephen Tulloch, Nevin Lawson and Bill Bentley using various packages with multiple players to amplify their strengths in his system. Trying to do this with Nick Fairley's injury will be a bigger challenge because Detroit gives up 4.29 yards a rush when Fairley isn’t in the game compared to 2.5 yards a rush when he is. That is a major difference, and the hole that will challenge Austin the most. Expect to see a combination of C.J. Mosley, Darryl Tapp, Caraun Reid and Jason Jones in the middle.

2. Calvin Johnson's return: Johnson has looked like his typical self in the portions of practice open to the media this week, but offensive coordinator Joe Lombardi is still going to keep an eye on Johnson’s conditioning and how that right ankle is holding up throughout Sunday’s game. Detroit had already been playing Johnson fewer snaps than last season before the ankle injury to keep their star receiver fresh, but figure Lombardi is going to be watching it heavily again this week. That said, Johnson is quite motivated to make some plays in his return, and a focused Calvin Johnson is an even more dangerous Johnson than normal. He could be in line for a big day.

3. The running back split: Before injuries knocked Joique Bell and Reggie Bush out of various games in October, the running backs were going at close to a 50-50 split of snaps while very rarely ending up on the field together. Expect that to change Sunday. Between Bush, Bell and Theo Riddick, the Lions now have three capable backs who can make big plays and run routes out of the backfield, an offset tight end spot and in the slot. That gives Detroit more flexibility with its personnel, especially while the team’s tight ends continue to battle back from injuries. Expect to see more personnel groupings with two running backs on the field, but don’t be surprised if at least one is lined up as a receiver in those sets.

4. Containing Ryan Tannehill: This is somewhat related to the first thing to watch. Detroit’s defensive line has faced quarterbacks who can run this season in Cam Newton and Geno Smith, but none run the zone-read with the efficiency Tannehill has the past three weeks. Tannehill’s ability there means the Detroit front seven has to stay disciplined in its rush lanes and can’t freelance much because Tannehill can take a small crease and turn it into a big gain -- similar to what many college teams now run. If the Lions do a good job on the zone-read, they can force Tannehill to pass, and Though he has been very good passing, they turn him into a more traditional quarterback that way. Doing so helps Detroit immensely.
ALLEN PARK, Mich. -- After having the bye week off, both wide receiver Calvin Johnson and running back Reggie Bush returned to practice for the Detroit Lions on Monday, possibly a sign they will both be ready to go against Miami next Sunday.

Johnson has not played since aggravating his high right ankle sprain in Week 5 against Buffalo, and Bush missed two of the past three games with an ankle sprain of his own.

Also back at practice were the recently activated Kyle Van Noy and defensive tackle C.J. Mosley, back from suspension.

Only four Lions players missed practice: tight ends Brandon Pettigrew, Joseph Fauria and Eric Ebron and defensive tackle Nick Fairley.

The Lions also made a plethora of practice squad moves Monday, signing tight end Jordan Thompson, cornerback Trevin Wade and defensive tackle Roy Philon. They also cut tight end Ifeanyi Momah from the practice squad.

Bios on new practice squad players:

TE Jordan Thompson: Thompson was cut by the Lions on Saturday after two games with the team. He was targeted once and dropped the ball, having it hit off his hands for an interception. He is a long-term project for Detroit at long-snapper.

CB Trevin Wade: Wade, from Arizona, was drafted by Cleveland in the seventh round of the 2012 draft. Between Cleveland in 2012 and New Orleans in 2013, Wade played in 15 games, making 11 tackles. He also appeared in both of the Saints playoff games last season, making two tackles.

DT Roy Philon: Philon, who went undrafted out of Louisville, has spent time with Pittsburgh and Chicago since May.
OWINGS MILLS, Md. -- It's inevitable the comparisons to Ray Lewis will come up every time Baltimore Ravens linebacker C.J. Mosley makes game-changing plays like the ones he delivered last Sunday in Indianapolis.

Throughout the week following Mosley's breakout performance, you couldn't come across a piece written about Mosley without seeing the name Ray Lewis.

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Patrick Smith/Getty ImagesC.J. Mosley leads all rookie in tackles.
Such lofty expectations are unfair, and quite honestly, unrealistic. Mosley isn't the next Ray Lewis, just like there's not going to be another Ed Reed or Jonathan Ogden.

If Mosley was playing this way in Green Bay or New England, there would be a different label placed on Mosley: the best rookie linebacker in the NFL. And that's what everyone should be calling him now.

Mosley is the only NFL defender to post at least 40 tackles, an interception, a fumble recovery and a forced fumble. His 47 tackles leads all rookies and tops a Ravens defense that has given up the third-fewest points in the league.

He's also the third-highest rated inside linebacker by Pro Football Focus. How impressive is that? Mosley trails only Luke Kuechly, the reigning NFL defensive player of the year, and Bobby Wagner, the leading tackler for the Super Bowl champion Seattle Seahawks.

Still, from the day he was drafted No. 17 overall by the Ravens in May to this past week, Mosley is getting questions about Ray Lewis.

"When I first came in, I said I wasn't going to try to be the next Ray Lewis," Mosley said. "I have to be me and play the way I play. But to be mentioned with him is a great honor."

What everyone has to remember is Ray Lewis wasn't the best defender in the NFL as a rookie. In fact, Mosley has two more tackles than Lewis did after his first five games in the league.

Mosley has the right attitude in order to escape Lewis' shadow. Great players can carve out their own piece of history when following great players. It takes time, though. Just ask Steve Young and Aaron Rodgers.

What stands out about Mosley is his intelligence and his maturity. The start of his NFL career has had its share of bumps. He'll lose receivers in coverage and he had trouble containing the likes of Giovani Bernard and Le'Veon Bell.

But what excites the Ravens about Mosley is he improves each week. Last Sunday, he single-handedly ended three drives with a tackle on fourth down, a quarterback hit that helped force a turnover and an interception at the goal line.

"He makes very few mistakes," coach John Harbaugh said. "He's playing good football, he's a really good tackler, he's done a nice job of coverage. But he'll be the first to tell you he's not going to rest on any past performance."

That's why Mosley has a chance of becoming the NFL defensive rookie of the year, and that's something even Ray Lewis didn't achieve.
INDIANAPOLIS -- C.J. Mosley was the best player on the field for the Baltimore Ravens in Sunday's 20-13 loss, showing why the team invested a first-round pick in the inside linebacker.

Mosley's ability to impact all over the field was in full display by how he stopped three Indianapolis Colts drives. He was a run-stopper, filling the lane to bring down running back Ahmad Bradshaw on fourth-and-1 on the opening drive. He was a blitzer, hitting Andrew Luck to cause the quarterback's pass to flutter and get intercepted by Haloti Ngata. And he was a pass defender, picking off Luck at the goal line.

Each game-changing play happened in Ravens territory and kept at least nine points off the board. It was a breakout game for Mosley and it was the type of performance that caused flashbacks for some.

“Some of the plays he made on the field today, it’s unbelievable,” Webb told the team's website. “Reminds you of Ray [Lewis] -- to me.”

It's too early to make such statements, and it's unfair to compare Mosley to perhaps the greatest defensive player in NFL history. Mosley is only five games into his NFL career. He's learning and making mistakes. It looked like he was assigned to Dwayne Allen when the Colts tight end got open in the third quarter for a 6-yard touchdown pass.

Mosley, though, is getting better each week. He set a career high in tackles for a second straight game, leading the Ravens with 14.

Through Sunday's games, Mosley ranks No. 6 in the NFL in tackles with 49 and is the only player in the top 20 in tackles with an interception as well as a forced fumble. His five pass breakups is tied for second on the Ravens.

“It’s all about knowing what you have to do, knowing your job and watching film,” Mosley said. “When you know what you’re doing, you can play fast like that."

When the Ravens used the No. 17 overall pick on Mosley this year, there was mixed reaction among the team's fan base because the Ravens didn't address their two biggest needs, offensive tackle and safety. But Mosley has filled a need because Daryl Smith's play has regressed and Arthur Brown can't even make it to the active roster on game days.

"I think he played phenomenal," Terrell Suggs said of Mosley's performance on Sunday. "We all have to catch up to him. He was out there making a lot of plays. We knew the kid was special coming in, and that's why we brought him in here."
Question of the Week is a feature in which we take a cross-section of opinions from Detroit Lions players and coaches (and sometimes opponents) about a singular topic. Most of the time, they have nothing to do with football. Have a suggestion for a question? Email:

Find previous Questions of the Week here.

ALLEN PARK, Mich. – The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles have been popular for a couple of generations now, from video games to animated series to even a recent live action movie.

So a lot of players would know exactly who the Turtles are -- and might have an opinion on them. Reader Ashley (@Ashley9V on Twitter) made the suggestion last week to ask Detroit Lions players who their favorite Ninja Turtle was.

Here are their answers. Have a question you want asked? Email or shoot a suggestion over on Twitter @mikerothstein.

[+] EnlargeTeenage Mutant Ninja Turtle
AP Photo/Paul BeatyIt seems to reason most Lions would either be on board with Leonardo (because of his choice of blue) or the 'swaggy' Raphael (red).
Wide receiver Corey Fuller: I like them all. I don’t know. When I was a kid, I used to watch all of them and I loved how they loved cheese pizza. I like them all.

Quarterback Dan Orlovsky: Probably Raphael, just because of the sound of the name. I liked them all. I was a big Turtle fan growing up. Maybe Leonardo, because of the name again. He wears blue. Maybe Leonardo. I’m probably a similar artist to Leonardo as well.

Reporter: Similar artist?

Orlvosky: No, I’m actually terrible. Doing stick figures. But that would be as far as I would go.

Punter Sam Martin: Who was the blue one? Yeah, Leonardo, actually. Because he’s blue. Blue is my favorite color. I was never a big Ninja Turtle guy, but when I did, you know how it was really cool when you were younger to have a favorite color and have everything be that favorite color?

Defensive tackle C.J. Mosley: Raphael. He was the coolest one and came off like a bully at the same time and was the first one to dive into a fight. He had to be the toughest one. He had the most swag.

Cornerback Nevin Lawson: I don’t know exactly his name but the one with the swords. The red [Raphaell. That’s him. I always liked how he did all the tricks and stuff with the swords.

Cornerback Rashean Mathis: I was a Michelangelo guy. I think because I was a younger brother. He was the youngest guy, so he was all sporadic and I had two older brothers. One of my brothers thought he was Raph, so being the youngest brother and the youngest spirit, I think that’s why I ended up liking Micaelangelo. When I watched the movie, it was fun to see.

Tight end Joseph Fauria: Which one’s the big one? Raphael. I saw the movie. Think Raphael’s the big one. I think. I don’t know. The big one.

W2W4: Baltimore Ravens

August, 23, 2014
Aug 23
The Baltimore Ravens (2-0) and Washington Redskins (2-0) face off in each team's third preseason game Saturday night (7:30 ET) at M&T Bank Stadium.

1. Flacco-Smith connection. One of the impressive parts of training camp was the instant connection between quarterback Joe Flacco and his new receiver Steve Smith. It seemed like every day Smith made at least one catch that caught your attention. That chemistry hasn't carried over into the two preseason games. Smith has two catches for 17 yards. Last week in Dallas, Smith dropped a third-down pass and ran the wrong depth on a route, which led to an incompletion. In what will be the last preseason action for both Flacco and Smith, it's important for them to gain some rhythm heading into the regular season.

2. Depth at cornerback. The Ravens will get a good gauge on whether they need to add another cornerback after the final major cutdown is made at the end of the preseason. The spotlight falls on Chykie Brown and Dominique Franks, both of whom start Saturday night due to injuries. The Ravens are without their top three cornerbacks: Jimmy Smith (chest), Lardarius Webb (back) and Asa Jackson (ankle). Brown and Franks played a large portion of last week's preseason game, and they held up fairly well. Brown and Franks, though, remain big question marks. They will get tested against Redskins wide receivers DeSean Jackson and Pierre Garcon.

3. The pass rush. The best way to take pressure off the cornerbacks is to put guys on the quarterback. The Ravens haven't gotten much consistent pressure this preseason (three total sacks), which has been among the disappointments for the defense. It's not like the Ravens are holding back either. There have been plenty of times when defensive coordinator Dean Pees has called blitzes. But no one beyond Pernell McPhee and C.J. Mosley has more than one quarterback hurry in the first two preseason games. It's time for Terrell Suggs and Elvis Dumervil to collapse the pocket.
OWINGS MILLS, Md. -- Long before the ALS ice bucket challenges dominated social media, the Baltimore Ravens have been reminded of the courage it takes to fight the devastating disease every time linebacker C.J. Mosley steps onto the field.

Mosley, the team's first-round pick, is wearing No. 57, a privilege not bestowed upon a Ravens player for the past six years.

It's more than a uniform number for the Ravens organization. It has become a symbol of O.J. Brigance, a member of the 2000 Super Bowl champions and the team's senior adviser of player development who has been battling amyotrophic lateral sclerosis for seven years.

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AP Photo/Steve RuarkO.J. Brigance, senior adviser of player development, shown Feb. 5, 2013, at a celebration for the Ravens' latest Super Bowl win.
Ravens coach John Harbaugh came up with the idea of letting Mosley wear No. 57 after the team selected him with the No. 17 overall pick in the draft.

"The time is right now because of what O.J. has meant to us here," Harbaugh said. "The timing was right to bring his legacy -- and he's living it still -- back to the forefront."

Harbaugh would only give that jersey number with Brigance's blessing and asked him about it in an email.

Wheelchair-bound and unable to use his voice, Brigance communicates through eye-recognition software, which allows him to choose a letter when he blinks at it.

"I was initially surprised when Coach Harbaugh asked about C. J. wearing 57," Brigance wrote. "It was such a great honor that he removed the number from circulation. Once he explained the character and tenacity of the man that he would like to wear it, I was honored to have him wear 57."

Brigance was an undersized but overachieving linebacker and special-teams player in the CFL and NFL. Wearing No. 57, he charged down the field on the opening kickoff to make first tackle in the Ravens' 2000 Super Bowl win.

In May 2007, when he was the team's director of player development, he was diagnosed with ALS, a progressive and fatal disease that shuts down nerve cells responsible for movement but doesn't impair the brain or any of the senses.

Told he had five years to live, Brigance is outliving the prognosis with each passing day.

Brigance, who will celebrate his 45th birthday next month, frequently comes to the Ravens' facility. He attends the linebacker meetings, watches practice and remains connected with the organization.

He has dedicated himself to being a guiding hand to the Ravens' players, preaching to them that adversity makes you stronger.

"I think we can all learn something from O.J.," said linebacker Bart Scott when he wore No. 57 for the Ravens from 2002 to 2008. "If I can be half the man, player and husband he is, I think I will accomplish a lot in my life."

No Ravens player had worn No. 57 after Scott left the Ravens. Like three others -- Ray Lewis' No. 52, Jonathan Ogden's No. 75 and Ed Reed's No. 20 -- Brigance's jersey number had unofficially been retired.

Though all those numbers are associated with greatness, the No. 57 is an inspirational touchstone. It's important for everyone to see it, a tribute to Brigance and his ongoing work through his ALS research foundation, the Brigance Brigade.

It was also important that the number was given to the right person.

"It makes me very proud to see not just someone wearing 57, but somebody wearing 57 who is a humble leader, who will strive for excellence in all he does," Brigance wrote. "Being a NFL player is a difficult undertaking. Talent might get you in the door, but character, discipline and fortitude will keep you there. From what I have seen and heard of C.J., he will have a bright future and will honor the 5-7."

Mosley, a starting inside linebacker for the Ravens, immediately tweeted that it was an honor when he was given Brigance's number in May.

"When I realized what this number meant to this community and to this team, it made me feel special," said Mosley, who knew he wouldn't be allowed to wear his college No. 32 as an NFL linebacker. "It's keeping his legacy going on. It's my job to keep that legacy going up."
Nick Fairley recorded one tackle Friday night but the defensive tackle who lost his starting spot was otherwise somewhat ineffective against the Oakland Raiders.

And after the game, Detroit Lions coach Jim Caldwell was not ready to assess his performance.

“I’m not going to comment on his performance tonight because I have to look at the film and see, “Caldwell told reporters after a 27-26 loss to the Raiders. “Where he plays down in the trenches is very difficult to tell exactly. The reason why is because of the fact that we thought C.J. [Mosley]was playing better.

“We put C.J. in place and we’ll see how Nick played and make another comparison and see where we go next week, but that was the reason why.”

Mosley responded well. He had three tackles, more than any other defensive lineman, and he plugged the middle of the defensive line well along with Ndamukong Suh.

Meanwhile, Fairley ended up being pushed off the ball often during his time against the Raiders facing mostly their first unit.

As for the future, it is unclear how the Lions will proceed from here out as Detroit preps for Jacksonville next Friday. One thing is certain, though: Fairley won’t get any special treatment.

“There’s a certain standard that we’re looking for,” Caldwell said, “and everybody’s got to measure up and him included.”

Lions Camp Report: Day 14

August, 13, 2014
Aug 13
ALLEN PARK, Mich. – A daily review of the hot topics coming out of Detroit Lions training camp:
  • Nick Fairley Watch – Day 3: The defensive tackle remained with the second unit throughout practice Wednesday, potentially signifying he won’t be used as a starter Friday night in Oakland. C.J. Mosley again ran with the first group and continued to play well alongside usual starter Ndamukong Suh. There were also points – much as in previous days – when Jason Jones moved from end inside to tackle with the first group. Still don’t expect things to stay this way permanently – Fairley is too talented to not be a starter at some point – but there is absolutely a message being sent here with each day Fairley doesn’t line up with the starters. He also, as he has done Monday and Tuesday, declined to talk with the media after practice to discuss the situation. Meanwhile, Mosley continues to go about his business every day during practice.
  • The other defensive lineman of note, Ezekiel Ansah, practiced again Wednesday but remains limited as he works his way into the rotation. At this point, Ansah is participating in everything other than team and heavy-contact portions of practice, but that should be expected. “His progression is going to be gradual. It’s not like you come off [the physically unable to perform list] and go right to work and get banged around in here,” Lions coach Jim Caldwell said. “This game is a bit too strenuous for that. We’re going to bring him along and make certain he gets enough work, and as soon as doctors say he is able to go full-speed, all-out, we’re going to turn him loose.”
  • Another interesting caveat of the past two days has been at safety. James Ihedigbo and Glover Quin are running with the starters, but behind them, the pairing of Jerome Couplin and Isa Abdul-Quddus has been playing consistently with the No. 2 group, and Don Carey and DeJon Gomes have been with the No. 3 unit. More than likely, this is to give Couplin and Abdul-Quddus, both of whom were brought in during the offseason, a longer look as cut days start to loom. Abdul-Quddus played more snaps than any other defensive player Saturday night and had an interception. Couplin has been among the more impressive undrafted rookie free agents and has already gained the reputation as a player who can hit. He has rebounded well since being flattened by George Winn in practice a little under a week ago.
  • Speaking of Winn, if you’re looking for a complete surprise to make the roster, he is gaining some steam to do it. He briefly saw time as a blocker on what appeared to be the first-team kick return unit Wednesday and continues to run at a strong, hard pace. Other than his fumble against the Browns on Saturday, he has had a real strong camp and while he still has a lot of players to pass, he is at least giving himself a shot.
  • The most interesting hit of the day came during a team period, when safety James Ihedigbo stepped up on a route over the middle and broke up a pass intended for Kris Durham, timing the hit perfectly and sending Durham to the ground. Ihedigbo has been one of the harder hitters during camp and that is part of why the Lions brought him in to replace Louis Delmas in the offseason.
  • Lions vice chairman Bill Ford Jr. was at practice Wednesday. The team ownership, between Bill Ford Jr. and his mother, Martha Ford, have been at practice often during camp but have not spoken publicly with the media yet.
  • Caldwell took the ALS challenge laid down for him by Golden Tate after practice Wednesday. The video lives here.
  • The Lions are off Thursday to travel to Oakland, where they play the Raiders on Friday night. The Lions next practice Saturday in Allen Park, Michigan. It will be a closed practice.

Lions Camp Report: Day 13

August, 13, 2014
Aug 13
ALLEN PARK, Mich. – A daily review of the hot topics coming out of Detroit Lions training camp.
  • The news of the day arrived before practice, when defensive end Ezekiel Ansah was pulled off the PUP list and returned to practice on a limited basis Tuesday evening. He didn’t fully participate and was not expected to, but he looked fairly strong during individual drills, pushing the sled with some gusto. He appeared happy to be back as well, and he’ll be eased into this since the Lions have a few weeks before their first regular-season game against the New York Giants. He’ll likely get some work during a preseason game, but it won’t be Friday as he’s already been ruled out. Right guard Larry Warford, who missed practice Monday, also returned Tuesday.
  • The other major defensive line storyline revolved around defensive tackle Nick Fairley, who played with the second unit for the second consecutive practice. Ndamukong Suh and C.J. Mosley took the first-team reps at tackle throughout the practice, including during 11-on-11 periods. When Mosley wasn’t in, Jason Jones moved inside to take some reps at tackle. Fairley worked with Andre Fluellen and Jimmy Saddler-McQueen on the second unit a bunch Tuesday night and didn’t look all that impressive. In one-on-one drills with offensive linemen, he was blocked well once by Rodney Austin, but Fairley annihilated Austin the next time the two faced each other.
  • Mosley, meanwhile, looked good with the first unit. He plugged the middle of the line well and didn’t lose any rushers when they came near him. In all, the first-team defensive line had another really strong performance against the first-team offensive line. Suh continues to look like his dominant self and Devin Taylor is getting better coming off the edge. It’ll be interesting to see what happens when Ansah returns to full strength and Taylor is truly competing with Jones for the closed end starting spot.
  • Continuing with the defensive line theme here, Larry Webster had the hit of the practice, running right through Michael Williams to end the one-on-one drills. Webster said after that he just “worked one of my moves, converted speed to power.” It was enough to completely flatten Williams, who is transitioning from tight end to offensive tackle during this camp.
  • The night practice was Jim Caldwell’s idea as part of trying to prepare his players for all situations, including potential night games like the one Detroit will play Friday at Oakland. He also did it because there is always the possibility the team could end up having a flexed game at some point during the season.

    “It’s very, very important to get your team as many opportunities as you can to get ready for challenges that they may face and this is the time to do it, during training camp,” Caldwell said. “We don’t have the luxury during the regular season, we usually practice at a set time and typically not at night, so this is a time where you can adjust your schedule, move it around quite a bit. It’s not the normal routine, so it makes them adjust. I like the fact that they have to adjust.”
  • More on this Wednesday morning, but Golden Tate participated in the ALS ice bucket challenge after practice. He also said the Lions offense received Shinola watches for beating the defense in a team bowling competition Monday night, but didn’t know who footed the bill for it.
  • The Lions return to practice Wednesday at 2 p.m., the final practice open to the public this season.


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