Jackson apologizes for introducing SWATS owner to Lewis

Cincinnati Bengals assistant Hue Jackson has apologized to the Baltimore Ravens organization for introducing Ray Lewis to Mitch Ross, the co-owner of the company where the linebacker reportedly received the deer antler spray that contained a banned substance.

“First of all, I'm disappointed for the Ravens,” Jackson told the Baltimore Sun. “You hate to ever put an organization in that kind of situation. I never knew the young man [Ross] could be that way. I apologize for the whole organization. It should be about the Super Bowl. I met the guy at the [NFL] combine in 2008.

“What happened is you think everybody is doing things for the right reason. I knew there was nothing illegal based on information given by him. He always talked about things, saying they were already approved by the NFL. You live and you learn. I dealt with that two years ago. Anytime it comes up, my name is mentioned.”

Lewis, readying for the final game of his career in Super Bowl XLVII, denied allegations that appeared in a Sports Illustrated article about Ross' company SWATS (Sports With Alternatives to Steriods). The article states that Lewis wanted the spray, which contains IGA-1, a substance banned by the NFL, in order to more quickly recover from a torn triceps injury that he suffered in October.

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Terry McCormick covers the Titans for TitanInsider.com

If Eagles add Dennis Dixon, they still need to aim higher

It’s premature to tell what the Philadelphia Eagles are going to do with Michael Vick yet.

But they could be adding one quarterback to the mix that is familiar with Chip Kelly’s offense.

Geoff Mosher of CSN Philly reports Dennis Dixon could be signed shortly after the Super Bowl when his duties with the Baltimore Ravens conclude. Currently, Dixon is a member of Baltimore’s practice squad.

Dixon would be of value because he knows Kelly’s system but it is expected the offense will be modified and Dixon isn’t seen as a starting-caliber quarterback, so it’s difficult to put a true value on him. The Pittsburgh Steelers drafted Dixon in the fifth round in 2007 and he played in four games for them over a span of three seasons.

We’ll see what shakes out here. Perhaps Dixon can be a fit in the right system but one would expect the Eagles to be aiming higher at the position even if Dixon is brought on board.

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Brad Biggs covers the Bears for the Chicago Tribune

How are the Super Bowl teams spending their money?

Below is a chart with the teams from the previous 10 Super Bowls, their average spending per player by position, and how it differed from the league average. The raw data is available on page 2 for you to manipulate and try to find your own trends/patterns.

What can your team learn?

A few things that stand out:

  • Defense might just win championships – Not including kickers, 12 of the 15 biggest high-paying deviations from the league average were on defense.
  • 14 of the previous 20 Super Bowl teams spent more than the league average on QB
  • Secondary isn't secondary – Both of this season's teams outspend the league average by more than 60% at Safety
  • 16 of the previous 20 Super Bowl Teams spent more than the league average per player
  • This season's 49ers team is biggest difference per player (+35%) in the past 10 Super Bowls

Again, check out page 2 to view and use the raw data yourself!

Erik Oehler is the web developer at National Football Post, and is always looking for suggestions for future stat-related articles or general improvements for the site. He can be reached at erik.oehler@nationalfootballpost.com or on twitter @erikoehler

Dashon Goldson expects to return to 49ers

Dashon Goldson played under the franchise tag this season and the San Francisco 49ers safety doesn’t see any reason why he will not return to the club in 2013.

It’s impossible to say at this point of the Niners will play tag with Goldson again or if he will receive the kind of long-term extension all players ultimately seek. But while preparing for Super Bowl XLVII, Goldson said he expects to be around next season.

“We haven't spoken anything about a contract, but I don't see why I wouldn't be around,” Goldson said, according to Cam Inman of the San Jose Mercury News.

The Niners tagged Goldson for $6.212 million this season. He was selected as a Pro Bowl player for the second straight season and received first team All-Pro honors as well. The price for tagging Goldson again rises by 120 percent to $7.454 million. Or the Niners could think about a multi-year deal.

“Those guys understand what I've done, and how can you say I don't deserve anything I might receive,” Goldson said.

First, there is one big game remaining.

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Brad Biggs covers the Bears for the Chicago Tribune

All-22: Can Ravens disguise pressure vs. 49ers?

Click here for the entire Inside the Playbook series.

Previous All-22 breakdowns:

49ers' Inverted Veer
Anquan Boldin's red zone impact
49ers' Pistol offense (run game)

With two weeks to prep for the 49ers and QB Colin Kaepernick, the Ravens’ defense will install some new schemes for Sunday’s matchup in Super Bowl XLVII. But after watching tape from the post-season, Jim Harbaugh's offense should expect to see multiple pre-snap looks that are scripted to create confusion in the protection count and force the 3-step hot reads.

Using the All-22 tape, let’s break down three examples of how the Ravens are disguising their pressure schemes.

Ravens vs. Patriots
4-Man closed side pressure (2-deep)


The Ravens are showing Cover 1 (man-free) pressure with FS Ed Reed in a single high alignment and SS Bernard Pollard walked down over the TE to the closed side of the formation. With both the Will (Paul Kruger) and Mike (Ray Lewis) aligned to the open side, the Ravens want to show overload pressure. However, this is only a 4-man pressure scheme (Pollard and the Sam Backer blitzing to the closed side) with the protection of a 2-deep shell (nickel works to open side deep half). Underneath, the Ravens will roll both Krueger and Lewis with Nose Tackle Haloti Ngata dropping to the closed side seam-hook.


Here is a look at the end zone angle of the Ravens’ pre-snap alignment. Pollard will allow the Sam Backer to clear on a vertical rush path and hit the closed side C gap with the underneath defenders dropping into coverage.


2-deep over the top with the three underneath defenders playing the two seam-hook drops (Kruger, Ngata) and the middle hook (Lewis). That leaves the CBs to jam and run with the No.1 WRs. A 4-man pressure scheme that plays out like a zone blitz concept.

Ravens vs. Patriots
4-Man A-gap pressure (Cover 1)


The Ravens are showing double A gap pressure (ILBs) at the line of scrimmage with Reed in a single high alignment. However, Baltimore is going to drop both OLBs (Kruger, Suggs) at the snap. Play Cover 1 in the secondary (Pollard matches up to Aaron Hernandez) and expect to see the 3-step game.

<p> Playbook

Again, only a 4-Man blitz from Baltimore. Show a 6-Man pressure scheme at the line and drop the OLBs into the underneath throwing lanes. The idea is to try and steal one by setting a trap for the QB.


The Ravens want to impact the throw from Brady with Kruger dropping underneath the slant to the open side of the formation. The CB will drive on the route from an outside leverage position with Reed coming downhill on the throw.

Ravens vs. Colts
5-Man A-Gap pressure (Cover 1)


Same idea as the pressure we just looked at with Reed walking down to hit the open side A gap and Lewis blitzing the closed side B gap. Again, drop both Suggs and Kruger vs. the 3-step game, “add” another backer to the blitz front (rush to coverage) and play Cover 1 in the secondary.


This is a fee run at QB Andrew Luck. Because the Ravens are showing a 4-Man overload look to the open side, the Colts push the protection. And that allows Reed to come untouched through the A gap with Suggs dropping right into the throwing lane.


Sideline view of Reed arriving at the QB, Suggs underneath the slant and the CB driving on the route. That’s good football.

What did we learn?

You don’t have to bring 6-Man or even 7-Man pressure to force the ball to come out. By giving the QB multiple looks at the line of scrimmage, the Ravens can disguise their blitz fronts, drop into coverage and still play for the quick passing game in 3rd down situations.

Players that struggled during Wednesday's practices at the Texas VS The Nation Game.

1. DeVonte Christopher, WR, Utah (6002, 192 and 4.55 E): Despite being the stand receiver on Tuesday, Wednesday was not as kind to Christopher as he struggled most of the day. Clearly the elements, especially the windy conditions, affected him as he struggled to adjust to the slight changes in placement and trajectory of the passes thrown his way as he dropped too many passes. More worrisome than the drops, was that he looked uncomfortable dealing with the elements and just did not seem to get on track during practice. He still displayed quickness and speed in routes to get open, but was not able to adjust to catch passes consistently. While his physical skills are still impressive, Christopher needs to prove that weather conditions will not affect his play like they did today when he gets to the NFL.

MARQUEIS GRAYUS PRESSWIREMinnesota's Marqueis Gray plucks a high pass against Michigan.

2. Marqueis Gray, TE, Minnesota (6035, 239 and 4.65 E): For a player that many NFL people were excited to see this week, Gray had his second straight disappointing practice on Wednesday. Despite flashing the explosiveness and athleticism at Minnesota to be considered a good conversion project, so far through two practices he has looked like an un-draftable prospect. Gray’s routes need a ton of work as he lacks burst off the ball, is an upright route runner who needs to run with much better pad level and surprisingly needs to lengthen his stride as he tends to take a lot of short steps while running. While NFL teams expected his routes to need a lot of work, his struggles catching the ball has been a big surprise and raises real concerns. He does not reach out and pluck the ball consistently and often tries to catch the ball with hands close to his chest which leads to him fighting to catch the ball consistently. Gray needs to practice better the rest of the week and in the game to realistically expect to be drafted.

3. Branden Hansen, OG / C, BYU (6051, 306 and 5.20 E): Despite his good height and bulk, Hansen struggled holding ground against power rushers Wednesday. Defensive linemen were able to jolt and drive him backwards with surprising ease. While he has the flexibility to bend knees to pass block with base/leverage, he struggles to slide well side to side to adjust to quick change of direction pass rush moves.

4. Josh Kline, OG/OT, Kent State (6027, 309 and 5.25 E): For the second straight day, Kline seemed over-matched today as he was consistently defeated by pass rushers and struggled to get movement on in-line run blocks. He lacks the foot quickness to adjust fast to quick change of direction pass rush moves, which leaves him vulnerable to quick and agile pass rushers. Despite competing at a consistently high level, Kline lacks the hip snap to deliver hard initial blow to defensive linemen and cannot get movement consistently on in-line run blocks.

5. Matt McGloin, QB, Penn State (6005, 203 and 4.95 E): Even though Matt did not throw the ball well today, it is clear the he is a smooth athlete who is light on his feet and can move within the pocket. While he has a smooth throwing motion, it is not quick and is deliberate which allows defenders to break and close on his passes. He does not drive into throws and seems to push the ball rather than throw it. He throws it more like he is trying to aim it, which is not a good thing. Additionally, he did not look quick deciding where to throw the ball today and often ended up holding the ball too long before making throw. He stared down his primary receiver a number of times today and threw some passes that he should never have thrown. In the end, through two days of practice, Matt has not proven he has the tools to play quarterback at the NFL level.

6. Matt Smith, C, Kentucky (6037, 295 and 5.20 E): I was disappointed in Smith’s production Wednesday considering he was a three year starting center in the SEC. Defensive tackles were able to jolt and drive him backwards on “bull rushes” with surprising ease. His tendency to pass block without leverage and not deliver an aggressive punch allowed pass rusher’s to get into his chest. While he was effective tying up defensive linemen with side/seal run blocks, he lacked the strength to drive man off ball to open holes and struggled to run block effectively when he had to move his feet a lot. Overall, Smith did not block like a draftable center today and will need to improve the rest of the week to help his draft stock.

Email Russ at Russelllande@yahoo.com and Follow Russ on Twitter @RUSSLANDE

Chris Culliver (or someone speaking for him) apologizes

San Francisco 49ers cornerback Chris Culliver has released a statement through the team apologizing for his derogatory remarks regarding homosexuals.

Culliver said on Media Day Tuesday that he would not tolerate a gay teammate in the locker room and went as far as to say that any gay athlete should wait 10 years after they are retired to come out of the closet.

The 49ers quickly denounced Culliver’s comments and now Culliver has made a statement through the team:

“The derogatory comments I made yesterday were a reflection of thoughts in my head, but they are not how I feel. It has taken me seeing them in print to realize that they are hurtful and ugly. Those discriminating feelings are truly not in my heart. Further, I apologize to those who I have hurt and offended, and I pledge to learn and grow from this experience.”

It is fair to assume Culliver will be a popular figure during the 49ers’ media access on Thursday. It’s also fair to wonder if Culliver actually crafted this statement by himself or if the club and/or a public relations professional had a major hand in shaping it.

With any luck, Culliver's major misstep will serve as an example for athletes in the future. Before today, few football fans knew the second-year player as the third cornerback and a special teams mainstay for the 49ers. Now, they know he is homophobic and foolish with his words.

Follow me on Twitter: @BradBiggs

Brad Biggs covers the Bears for the Chicago Tribune

Players that stood out during Wednesday's practices at Texas VS The Nation Game.

1. Armonty Bryant, DE, East Central Oklahoma (6041, 262 and 4.85 E): Being the best player at practice on Tuesday did not get into Bryant’s head as he had another outstanding practice today. His foot quickness and snap anticipation showed in his ability to consistently beat the OT to the corner, which allowed him to threaten the corner consistently. At the point of contact, he displayed the quick burst, hand use and ability to dip shoulder to defeat OT, turn the corner and pressure the QB easily. His ability to threaten the corner allows him to set-up the OT and gives him a “two way go” to beat the OT around the corner or back inside. While this game does not match the Senior Bowl in overall talent, there is no doubt that through two days of practice Bryant would have been impressive beating the OT’s in Mobile had he been invited.

2. Elvis Fisher, OT, Missouri (6046, 291, and 5.20 E): Fisher picked up where he left off on Tuesday by showing that he is the best blocker here. Able to bend his knees and sink his hips, he pass blocked with base/leverage nearly every snap, which made it easy for him to stay on and maintain blocks. Although he did not deliver a violent punch, he consistently “got a good fit” which combined with his technique so that he could tie up man and keep him from getting pressure on QB. Because he lacks ideal bulk, he will need to improve his punch to avoid being jolted and driven backwards by power rushers in the NFL. Fisher surprised us with his ability to get to the second level in time to make seal block on LB and even though he missed some blocks in space, he was definitely solid in this area. Unfortunately, about halfway through the team period today Fisher injured his right knee when another lineman (I am not sure if it was an OL or DL) fell on his knee and he did not return to practice.

3. Matt Furstenburg, TE, Maryland (6035, 241 and 4.83): With NFL teams searching high and low to find tight ends who can make big plays as a receiver, Furstenburg showed today that he has the physical talent they are looking for. Blessed with soft, natural hands, good body control and outstanding concentration, he was able to consistently twist his body to adjust to make tough catches on off-target throws. Not only could he twist to adjust, but his flexibility enabled him to get down to catch very low passes easily. Quick getting started up the field after the catch; Matt showed he has the quickness and athleticism to be a solid, productive runner after the catch.

RYAN GRIFFINUS PRESSWIRETulane QB Ryan Griffin about to make throw.

4. Ryan Griffin, QB, Tulane (6037, 216 and 4.95 E): On an extremely windy day, Griffin clearly stood out as the best quarterback today. Displaying a strong arm, Griffin was able to make throws with zip through the heavy winds. Quick in his pass drops, Griffin displayed the footwork to plant and drive off back foot to get rid of ball fast. While his deep accuracy was inconsistent today, his short passes were on target throughout. Additionally, Griffin impressed with his ability to make short, accurate throws when on the move outside of the pocket. Although he was not great today, he definitely showed the skills to warrant being a good developmental QB prospect.

5. Lamar Mady, OG, Youngstown State (6023, 313 and 5.20 E): On Tuesday, Mady flashed, but struggled to consistently block his man due to his inability to maintain good technique throughout. However, he clearly felt more comfortable and took coaching well as his technique was drastically better today. He consistently bent his knees and pass blocked with good base/leverage, “got a good fit” with his hands, stayed over feet and maintained slide well. Taking on pass rushers strong on the LOS, he was able to get arm extension, locked out and kept man from getting a push. Today’s performance made me confident that Mady has the talent to start in the NFL if he can play with good technique consistently.

TJ MOEUS PRESSWIREMissouri WR TJ Moe runs with the ball after the catch.

6. T.J. Moe, WR, Missouri (5112, 201 and 4.55 E): After a strong day Tuesday, Moe had an excellent day on Wednesday. Displaying great route running today, Moe made it look easy getting open. He was able to turn cornerback’s hip with good fakes and got open with double moves repeatedly. He did not just catch the ball well today, but had magnets for hands and made numerous tough catches look routine. In addition to making plays catching passes, Moe displayed the aggressive playing attitude that NFL teams love and really showed it making an excellent crack-back block.

7. Emeka Onyenekwu, DE, Louisiana-Lafayette (6036, 254 and 4.75 E): Despite lacking ideal bulk, Emeka was consistently able to take on and hold ground versus OL run blocks and when he got hand son blocker first, he even showed ability to shed quickly to make tackle. Quick feet and agility allow him to change directions fast and when combined with his good, quick hand use he can defeat pass blocks to pressure the QB. Although he was more productive rushing the passer in the drills before the team period, he did flash during team and has the skills to be effective rushing QB in any situation when he is aggressive doing so.

8. Anthony White, DT, Michigan State (6014, 334 and 5.10 E): On Tuesday White flashed, but struggled with consistency, so today it was impressive to see him make big plays throughout today’s practice. For a 330+ pound DT, White’s initial quickness is shocking and enables him to get hands on OL before they are set to block. He consistently showed the strength to jolt and drive pass blocker backwards when he bull rushed and was able to anchor vs run blocks. His initial quickness, strength and hand use let White consistently defeat blocks to get backfield penetration to make plays behind the LOS. While White is far from a finished product, he showed today that he has the talent to be a starting nose tackle in the NFL when he plays with aggressiveness and good technique.

Email Russ at Russelllande@yahoo.com and Follow Russ on Twitter @RUSSLANDE

49ers reject anti-gay comments by Chris Culliver

The San Francisco 49ers have made it clear they do not support the anti-gay message cornerback Chris Culliver spread in a radio interview on Tuesday from Media Day.

Culliver said he would not tolerate a gay teammate in comments to radio host Artie Lange and the fallout from this could be considerable given the stage at Super Bowl XLVII.

“The San Francisco 49ers reject the comments that were made yesterday, and have addressed the matter with Chris,” the club said in a statement. “There is no place for discrimination within our organization at any level. We have and always will proudly support the LGBT community.”

Whether or not Culliver is punished for his remarks remains to be seen. He made one of the all-time public relations disasters from a Super Bowl, though. That much is clear.

Follow me on Twitter: @BradBiggs

Brad Biggs covers the Bears for the Chicago Tribune

49ers CB Chris Culliver lashes out against homosexuals

Baltimore Ravens linebacker Brendon Ayanbadejo is using his spotlight before Super Bowl XLVII to promote same-sex marriage.

San Francisco 49ers cornerback Chris Culliver is taking the spotlight and making it clear he doesn’t have any desire to share a locker room with a gay teammate.

Culliver, in an interview with radio show host Artie Lange on Tuesday, said that gays would not be welcome in the locker room.

I don't do the gay guys man,” Culliver said, according to Cam Inman of the San Jose Mercury News. “I don't do that. No, we don't got no gay people on the team, they gotta get up out of here if they do.

“Can't be with that sweet stuff. Nah … can't be … in the locker room man. Nah.”

Culliver, the third cornerback on defense and a core special teams contributor, went on to say that if a teammate was gay, he should keep it private for 10 years after he retires.

The timing for Culliver’s remarks would be poor at any moment. That he made the comments from the Super Bowl is especially damning. Earlier this week, former 49ers offensive lineman Kwame Harris, who also spent time with the Oakland Raiders, appeared in court on charges of domestic violence against a male partner.

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Brad Biggs covers the Bears for the Chicago Tribune