The Baltimore Ravens
want outside linebacker Courtney Upshaw
to get in better shape and improve his diet.
Upshaw, in his second year, acknowledged that he's up to 285 pounds after getting below 270 pounds last season. He initially failed the conditioning test during his first NFL training camp as a rookie.
He's clearly overweight.
"Courtney's weight issue -- he does need to lose some pounds -- is that he doesn't eat right," Ravens coach John Harbaugh said. "Courtney eats too much and he doesn't eat all of the right foods. He knows that and that's something he's going to have to get a handle on or he's not going to be the best that he can be."
Upshaw is noticeably heavier, particularly through his midsection and lower body. He attributed his weight gain to dealing with undisclosed personal issues.
"My offseason has been kind of hectic," Upshaw said. "I had a personal issue where I had to handle that. Right now, I'm trying to get back into football shape. I was back and forth between Alabama and Baltimore, just real personal issues that I had to handle. Just trying to drop a couple pounds and get ready for the season."
Upshaw recorded 55 tackles and 1 1/2 sacks as a rookie after being drafted in the second round out of Alabama, but is running with the second-team defense at strongside linebacker behind Pro Bowl outside linebacker Elvis Dumervil.
"My first thought is he's playing good. That's the first thing. He understands the defense exceptionally well. He's working really hard, but he's aware of (the need to lose weight)," Harbaugh said. "Everybody in our building is involved with it. He'll be in fighting shape, I promise you that."
---The Ravens would like to lower Pro Bowl fullback Vonta Leach
's $4.33 million salary-cap figure and are expected to craft a proposal to try to adjust his contract, according to The Baltimore Sun.
The Ravens drafted former Harvard fullback Kyle Juszczyk in the fourth round and would like to have both fullbacks on the roster.
"We're both still here, so we'll see how it goes," said Leach, who's been named to the past three Pro Bowls. "Hopefully, it can work out for both of us. If it don't, I feel like I still can play in this league and I'll have a job somewhere."
Leach is due a $3 million base salary as he enters the final year of a three-year, $11 million contract that included a $4 million signing bonus.
With $3.583 million in salary-cap space under the NFL limit of $123 million, the Ravens could gain additional financial flexibility if a compromise can be reached with Leach.
Leach is still waiting to hear from the Ravens and hoping that things will work out.
"We don't know," Leach said. "When the situation comes, I think we'll take care of it."
---The Ravens signed inside linebacker Daryl Smith
, the Jaguars' all-time leading tackler, to a one-year contract worth up to $2.125 million, including a $285,000 signing bonus.
One of the most productive linebackers in the NFL over the past nine seasons, Smith, 31, is coming off an injury-plagued year in which he was limited to two starts and a career-worst six tackles. He spent the majority of the season on the injured reserve-designated to return list due to a sports hernia.
That significantly damaged Smith's stock as an unrestricted free agent after his five-year, $24.9 million contract extension that included $10 million in guaranteed money expired in March. Smith visited the St. Louis Rams
in April, but left town without a deal.
Smith has never been selected to a Pro Bowl, but is regarded highly around the league for his tackling, range and character. He's expected to compete for a starting job at inside linebacker in the Ravens' 3-4 scheme.
By acquiring Smith, the Ravens have boosted their experience level at inside linebacker. Smith has 124 career starts including 103 at outside linebacker and 21 at middle linebacker.
The 6-foot-2, 248-pound Smith was a second-round draft pick of the Jacksonville Jaguars
out of Georgia Tech in 2004. He has registered 1,090 career tackles, 21 1/2 sacks, six interceptions and nine forced fumbles.
Until last year, Smith had started every game during the previous three seasons. In 2011, Smith had 107 tackles, 15 for losses, two forced fumbles and one interception with a career-high eight pass deflections.
During a span of seven consecutive seasons from 2005-11, Smith posted at least 100 tackles per year.
---Ravens first-round safety Matt Elam
is off to a fast start in the NFL.
The former Florida All-American has been picking up the defense quickly and hasn't displayed any hesitation while lining up at strong safety.
Although the more difficult litmus tests will occur in training camp and the regular season, Elam has made a positive impression on the Ravens' veteran defensive backs.
"Matt looks good," Ravens veteran free safety Michael Huff said. "You can tell he's a young, hungry rookie. He just wants to run around and make plays. He's a smart guy, tough and physical. He's definitely going to make plays. Safety is going to be a nice group."
Drafted 32nd overall with the final pick of the first round by the Super Bowl champions, Elam is slated to compete with James Ihedigbo
for a starting job. Ihedigbo once competed with Elam's older brother, Abram Elam
, for playing time with the New York Jets
"Matt's a great player, he's a great guy," Ihedigbo said. "I played with his brother, Abe, with the Jets, so he comes with a great pedigree. I'm excited. At the end of the day, the best 11 players will be on the field."
The 5-foot-10, 210-pound Elam recorded 176 career tackles, 24 for losses, six interceptions and two forced fumbles in three seasons for the Gators before being picked in the first round by general manager Ozzie Newsome.
"He's a great young man, quiet young man but not quiet on the field," cornerback Lardarius Webb said. "I'm glad he's here. I'm very impressed. Ozzie picked a nice young man in the first round."
---Retired six-time Pro Bowl center Matt Birk
skipped the Ravens' visit to the White House for political reasons.
Specifically, Birk took issue with President Barack Obama's support of Planned Parenthood.
"I wasn't there," Birk told KFAN in Minnesota. "I would say that I have great respect for the office of the Presidency, but about five or six weeks ago, our President made a comment in a speech and he said, 'God bless Planned Parenthood.'
"Planned Parenthood performs about 330,000 abortions a year. I am Catholic, I am active in the Pro-Life movement and I just felt like I couldn't deal with that. I couldn't endorse that in any way. I'm very confused by (Obama's) statement. For God to bless a place where they're ending 330,000 lives a year? I just chose not to attend."
---Ravens linebacker Albert McClellan has been sidelined at organized team activities while he recuperates from offseason shoulder surgery.
McClellan had a torn labrum repaired, but he is expected to return by training camp.
The 6-foot-2, 245-pounder missed the final two games of the regular season last year with shoulder and thigh injuries.
He started a career-high 12 games and finished with 42 tackles, one sack and two fumble recoveries.
McClellan is a former undrafted free agent from Marshall, where he was an All-Conference USA selection.
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- Daryl Smith
- The Ravens
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