By Jeff Zrebiec, The Baltimore Sun
6:48 PM EST, February 23, 2013
A little more than two weeks before he hits the open market and is allowed to sign with another team, outside linebacker Paul Kruger's mindset remains the same as it was in the hours that followed the Ravens' 34-31 victory over the San Francisco 49ers in Super Bowl XLVII.
"There's no reason to want to go to anywhere else," said Kruger, the Ravens' sack leader this past year and, starting March 12, one of the top free agent pass rushers available. "This is an awesome team and an organization. I'm just happy to have been a part of it. I just want to keep it going."
Kruger was in Pikesville on Saturday for "A Ravenous Celebration," a two-day autograph show presented by MAB Celebrity Services and held at the Doubletree by Hilton hotel. More than 20 current Ravens took part in the event, which served as part Super Bowl celebration, part team reunion.
After spending the past couple of weeks with his family in Utah, Kruger enjoyed being back in town and catching up with teammates and celebrating with fans, calling it an honor to be part of the group that captured the organization's second title.
The 27-year-old also doesn't know how much longer he'll call himself a Raven. The team has little salary cap flexibility and its offseason priority is to sign quarterback Joe Flacco to a contract extension. That makes it impossible for them Raven to retain all of their key defensive free agents, a group that also includes linebacker Dannell Ellerbe, cornerback Cary Williams and safety Ed Reed.
Kruger's future in Baltimore is particularly murky because pass rushers are in such high demand, and the outside linebacker is coming off a breakout season, registering nine sacks in 15 regular-season games and 4 ½ sacks during the Ravens' postseason run, including two in the Super Bowl. Unless Kruger is willing to take less money to stay, it appears unlikely that the Ravens can afford him. Kruger said only that the deal "has to be fair" for everybody.
"You want to focus on what you've been doing, what's helped you become a good player, and just let the chips fall where they may. You can't really predict or do anything about it. You just have to let it come," said Kruger who recently hired agent David Dunn. "That's' what I have an agent for. I don't really have to worry about that stuff. It's something you want to be a part of but at the same time, it's tough. You just have to let them do their job and see what happens."
McPhee on the mend
Ravens defensive end Pernell McPhee was walking with a little bit of a limp, but he couldn't help but smile about the strides that he's already made since groin surgery earlier this month.
"I'm up moving around, talking, smiling, interacting with people," said McPhee, who had 1 ½ sacks in 12 regular season games during aseason in which he was slowed by knee, groin and hamstring issues. "I can't do nothing but thank God that I have the opportunity to walk right not after that surgery. After that, I didn't think I'd be able to walk. I was just in pain."
McPhee, who had two procedures on his knee last year, acknowledged that he is a long way from being fully healthy, but he's hoping to be full go by training camp.
"I'm going to rehab my butt off," he said. "My biggest thing is going to camp in shape. I'm worried about being healthy but I' m really worried about being in shape. That's the key. Everything is fixed, thank God. I can still play football, so I'm good."
Tucker thinking about repeat
Excitable kicker Justin Tucker has thoroughly enjoyed celebrating the Ravens' Super Bowl victory, meeting fans and making several appearances with teammates to sign autographs. He said the highlight was his appearance on "Late Night with Jimmy Fallon" in which he played bubble soccer with Fallon, teammate Anquan Boldin and actor and huge Ravens fan Josh Charles.
"It's been a whirlwind, but it's been a heck of a lot of fun," said Tucker who converted 34-of-37 field goal attempts during his rookie season. "I certainly wouldn't have it any other way. I think if anything, it knocks out one of those goals that I had coming into the league. To win it with such a cool group of dudes makes it that much better. But having won one now, it makes you greedy. Literally the next day, we were all like, 'I want to win another one of those.' The confetti can only last so long. You crave that feeling again as soon as it's over."
Tucker said he will take all of February off before resuming workouts next month after consulting with head coach John Harbaugh, assistant head coach and special teams coordinator Jerry Rosburg and kicking consultant Randy Brown on areas where they feel he needs to improve.
Taylor preparing himself to start
As Flacco and his agent attempt to negotiate a new contract extension with the Ravens, the Super Bowl MVP's backup is approaching this offseason no differently than he has the past two years.
"I have to approach my job as if I'm the starter," Tyrod Taylor said Friday. "Every guy on the team [does] that. Each week I prepare as if I'm going to be the starter because you never know what can happen in a game. Going into the offseason last year we didn't know what was going to happen with [Flacco's] contract situation."
Taylor, a 2011 sixth-round draft pick, has appeared in 10 career games, but the first time he got extensive action was in this past year's regular season finale against the Cincinnati Bengals. In a 23-17 loss, Taylor completed 15 of his 25 attempts for 149 yards with an interception. He also ran for 65 yards and a touchdown on nine carries.
"I just want to better my game. I think every aspect can be improved," said Taylor who spoke to Flacco a couple of days ago. Taylor believes that Flacco's contract situation will get worked out. "You never want to be complacent with what you're doing. But that's what I want to focus on this offseason, especially getting quicker in my drops and getting the ball out of my hand faster."
Cornerback Lardarius Webb, who tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee on Oct. 14, said he is "getting closer" to where he wants to be … Veteran safety Bernard Pollard was scheduled to attend Saturday's event, but he didn't make it after his wife, Meghan, went into labor with the couple's second child … Count tight end Ed Dickson among those who don't expect a Super Bowl title and a potential big contract extension to change Flacco. "He's just going to be a little bit richer, but I expect him to be the same person. I think this taste in his mouth, winning championships, is going to stick and I think he's going to win us another one," Dickson said. … Safety Christian Thompson, a fourth-round pick last year, said he wants Reed to return as much as the fans do. However, whether Reed does or doesn't, Thompson's mindset will be "I'm playing next year, regardless of who is on the field with me." Thompson said he's 100 percent healthy after being placed on injured reserve with a knee injury on Nov.17.
Baltimore Sun reporter Matt Vensel contributed to this article.
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