Ravens Visit White House and Sign Veteran Linebacker In Same Day
BY ALAN ZLOTORZYNSKI: Even while attending to Presidential affairs, the Baltimore Ravens still managed to complete some business today. According to Ryan Mink on the Ravens team site, the team bolstered their inside linebacker corps by adding former Jacksonville Jaguars linebacker, Daryl Smith.
As a nine-year veteran in Jacksonville, Smith departs the Jags as their all-time leading tackler with 678 total stops. However, he is 31-years-old, and is coming off a groin injury that limited him to just two games last season.
Despite drafting Kansas State linebacker Arthur Brown and signing Elvis Dumervil, the Ravens are thin on numbers and experience as a whole at the line backing position. Following last season’s Super Bowl victory, Ray Lewis retired and then Dannell Ellerbe unexpectedly signed with the Miami Dolphins for $35 million over five years.
The team inked former Raiders linebacker Rolando McClain to a deal but his penchant for getting into to trouble with the law, including another run in with the Police in his hometown, caused him to step away from the game to get his life in order.
Smith brings plenty of experience. The former second-round pick out of Georgia Tech has been a starter throughout his entire career. Before last season, Smith had never missed more than two games before and has 124 starts during his career.
In 2011, he received Pro Football Focus’ second-highest grade among outside linebackers. The only player Smith trailed was Denver’s, Von Miller. Smith received high marks for his run and pass coverage. He has never gone to the Pro Bowl, but he had 311 tackles from 2009 to 2011 to go along with 21.5 career sacks, six interceptions and nine forced fumbles.
During his nine-year career, Smith played all three-linebacker positions, concentrating mostly on the outside for the Jaguars but is a likely candidate to move inside for Baltimore. The Ravens released outside linebacker Michael McAdoo, who spent the last two seasons on injured reserve, in the corresponding roster move.
With nearly the entire starting line backing core no longer in Baltimore after last season, the key returner is veteran Jameel McClain. The Ravens are hoping that McClain will be ready to go by training camp. McClain is working his way back from a spinal cord contusion he suffered vs. the Redskins in December that put him on injured reserve last season.
When McClain is full-go, the Ravens plan on plugging him into the starting role he’s held for the last three years. The starting linebackers could be Terrell Suggs, Jameel McClain, rookie Arthur Brown and Elvis Dumervil. Smith would definitely factor into any rotation either inside or out and could possibly take over if McClain isn’t recovered or Brown struggles to start at the NFL level.
If Smith is fully recovered from last season’s injury, he would be yet another solid pick up for the Ravens this offseason. However, it is unlikely Smith will wear No.52 as he did in Jacksonville.
WHITE HOUSE AND THE CHAMPS:
The old gang spent one last day together today as the Super Bowl XLVII Champions spent the day with President Barack Obama. The Texans Ed Reed, ESPN’s Ray Lewis and Miami's Dannell Ellerbe were amongst some of the departed Ravens on the South Lawn today with the rest of the Ravens that decided to stay in Baltimore
The President seemed relaxed and playful with the champions and began to joke with them from the opening of his speech.
“I suspect that these guys are wondering, ‘What kind of introduction is that?’” Obama said, after simply walking to the podium and welcoming the team. “No smoke machine? No fire cannons? Obama didn’t even tear up chunks of turf and rub them on his suit?”
Obama joked with wide receiver Jacoby Jones about “Dancing With The Stars,” and teased quarterback Joe Flacco about the timing of having a historic postseason run right before his contract expired, then listed his accomplishments.
“I don’t know about you, Joe, but I think that qualifies as elite,” Obama said. “I think if you keep playing like that, you’re going to challenge [Vice President Joe] Biden for most popular person in Delaware.”
Obama laughed about Ray Lewis’ signature dance but did not do the dance after Lewis invited him to try. The President asked Lewis to please not rip up the White House lawn. He even joked with Ed Reed about his gray hair. After mentioning that Reed was gone he said, “The man’s getting some gray hair though. I’m not the only one. You’re like an old man, I’m telling you. That makes me feel better.”
Head Coach John Harbaugh and Ravens General Manager Ozzie Newsome presented Obama with the traditional jersey. The 44th president received a purple home jersey with "MR PRESIDENT" and the number 44 on the back.
Obama ended by congratulating the Ravens and as a Chicago native could not resist to throw in a Bears jab. “Best of luck next season,” Obama said. “You’re going to need it in Week 11 when you go to my hometown Chicago to play the Bears.”
Harbaugh responded in turn: “On behalf of all the Ravens, I want to thank Mr. President for hosting us here today. It’s an unbelievable honor and we are grateful to be here,” Harbaugh said. “And I want you to know we have plans to be back next year.”