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Thoughts on JaMarcus Russell and the Ravens (potentially)

Could JaMarcus Russell, he of purple drank fame, soon be vying for a chance to throw passes in purple?

According to ESPN, Russell told the Chicago Bears last week that he will try out for the Ravens. But league sources told our Aaron Wilson that no workout is currently scheduled between Russell, who is considered one of the biggest draft busts in NFL history (both figuratively and literally), and the Ravens.

The Ravens always say they will at least consider every possible avenue to improving their football team, so it is not totally surprising to hear that they could kick the sizable tires on Russell, the first overall pick from 2007.

Besides, a tryout would by no means guarantee a deal gets done.

The Ravens are set with starting quarterback Joe Flacco, another strong-armed quarterback who is at his best when he can stand in the pocket and hurl passes deep down the field. But the similarities end there. Flacco panned out as a first-round quarterback because he had the head and the heart to go with his God-given physical attributes. Russell had more pressing priorities apparently.

Russell went 7-18 in his three seasons with the Oakland Raiders. He completed just 52.1 percent of his passes with 18 touchdowns and 23 interceptions. He had a 65.2 career quarterback rating.

His weight ballooned after the Raiders released him in 2010. But according to Ian Rapoport of NFL Network, Russell has undergone an extreme makeover, dropping 50 pounds to get down to 265.

His arm, at least when he was coming into the NFL, made scouts salivate, including those of the Ravens. Former coach Brian Billick said last year that Russell was the highest-rated player he had seen on the team’s draft board during his nine seasons in Baltimore. That was a long time ago, though.

And we saw with the Rolando McClain experiment that general manager Ozzie Newsome isn’t afraid to take on reclamation projects, even washouts from the NFL’s most dysfunctional franchise.

We will see if the 27-year-old actually shows up in Baltimore for a workout. This could be speculation with the intent of driving up interest in a player long removed from the NFL. But if he does, my advice is to keep an open mind but expectations extremely low.

Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun
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