By Matt Vensel
9:00 AM EST, January 17, 2013
Every morning, Monday through Friday, blogger Matt Vensel will hook you up with reading material -- mostly on the Ravens but with some other Baltimore sports stuff, too -- to skim through as you slug down coffee and slack off at the start of your workday. That way he’ll have an excuse to do the same to start his workday, too.
RUNNING IT BACK
Wide receiver Anquan Boldin said Wednesday that the Ravens will beat the New England Patriots in the AFC championship game. ... Wide receiver Torrey Smith continues to grow up before our eyes. ... Linebacker Ray Lewis isn't just coming along for the ride. ... Rookie kicker Justin Tucker still can't escape Billy Cundiff's miss from last year's playoffs. ... Patriots head coach Bill Belichick thinks safety Ed Reed is really special. ... Rookie running back Bernard Pierce was limited, but he participated in Wednesday's practice.
RAVENS STUFF, BUT NOT FROM US
The bold move to replace Cam Cameron with Jim Caldwell has paid off for the Ravens. ... How much has the Ravens offense changed? ... Cornerback Corey Graham is taking advantage of his opportunity. ... A season of adversity has toughened the Ravens. ... A billboard in Boston is counting down to Sunday's "retirement party" for Ray Lewis. ... Lewis says he won't pull a Brett Favre.
BEHIND ENEMY LINES
Cornerback Aqib Talib has made a big impact on the Patriots secondary. ... Quarterback Tom Brady knows that nothing will come easy against the Ravens. ... Stopping Torrey Smith will be a major point of emphasis for the Patriots. ... The Patriots are moving on without tight end Rob Gronkowski. ... The Patriots need to be wary of these five Ravens difference-makers. ... Punter Zoltan Mesko got yelled at for making a snowman at practice.
SHAMELESS PLUG OF THE DAY
Here are five Ravens stats that stand out for the AFC title game.
OUTSIDE OF BALTIMORE
Notre Dame linebacker Manti Te'o, likely a first-round pick in April's NFL draft, got caught in a hoax over a fake dead girlfriend. ... The Philadelphia Eagles hired Oregon coach Chip Kelly to be their next head coach. ... The Jacksonville Jaguars hired Gus Bradley as their head coach. ... The Pittsburgh Steelers are open to making changes, including drafting a backup for quarterback Ben Roethlisberger semi-early. ... Tim Tebow is training in Arizona.
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