Center needs to be the Ravens next big upgrade

435px-Gino_Gradkowski_2013The Baltimore Ravens had a very bad offensive line last season, the Ravens running game was nearly nonexistent and the passing game struggled because of it.  I talked about how poor the offensive line was nearly all last season and it was a huge topic in my Ravens season review. 

The Ravens already re-signed left tackle Eugene Monroe but they need to really upgrade their center position.  Gino Gradkowski was very much a weak link for the Ravens in his first season starting.  I wrote during the season that the Ravens were missing Matt Birk, that article can be found here.

Gradkowski is small for a center at only 6’3” 300 pounds, and it showed as he was pushed around last season and struggled in both run and pass blocking.  Gradkowski also struggle with calling protections and staying on his feet.  Quarterback Joe Flacco was sacked 48 times last season and was playing injured late in the season because he was hit so many times.
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Player Profiles: Matt Wieters

367px-Baltimore_Orioles_catcher_Matt_Wieters_(32)Switch hitting Jesus… that’s what they call Matt Wieters.  The Baltimore Orioles drafted Wieters in the first round of the 2007 amateur draft (fifth overall) and it did not take Wieters long to get to the Major Leagues.  Wieters was a very highly praised prospect for his ability to hit as a catcher.

Wieters is a huge switch hitting Gold Glove catcher but while he was a prospect he was known more for his bat than he was for his glove.  Wieters made his Major League debut in 2009 and he came with much fan fair.  Since Wieters debut he has been the Orioles starting catcher and has rarely come out of games.
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Craig "Sky" Shelton walking down my street

My black friend, Harry Weaver, found it rather amusing. My friends and I lived on Whitehaven Parkway in Georgetown in the late 70s and early 80s. Get it? White-haven?
Anyway, it was the soon after my Maryland team with Albert King and Buck Williams went down in flames against John Thompson’s Georgetown Hoyas.

Actually it was March of 1980. It was the second round of the NCAA playoffs. And Eric “Sleepy” Floyd and Craig “Sky” Shelton stopped the Terps, 74-68.
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Player Profiles: J.J. Hardy

695px-J.J._HardyPower hitting, Gold Glove short stop, sounds like Cal Ripken Jr. but this player profile is on J.J. Hardy.  The Baltimore Orioles acquired Hardy in 2011 in a trade with the Minnesota Twins.  That trade included…. The Twins were willing to trade Hardy because he had a history of getting injured.  Hardy put his injury history behind him when he arrived in Baltimore.

Hardy is a power hitting short stop who makes plays easy.  The Orioles have had many great short stops in their long history but, since Miguel Tejada left the Orioles the short stop position was a weakness for the Orioles.  When Hardy arrived he sured up the short stop position and provided leadership for the Orioles.
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