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
We know that linebacker Ray Lewis is retiring at season's end, but could Sunday be safety Ed Reed's last game with the Ravens, too? ... Lewis is reportedly close to signing a deal to go work for ESPN. ... NFL commissioner Roger Goodell told us he plans to use Lewis as a sounding board. ... The playoffs will be another opportunity for quarterback Joe Flacco to take the next step. ... Fullback Vonta Leach was the only player to miss practice on Thursday. ... The Ravens signed five players to reserve-future contracts.
RAVENS STUFF, BUT NOT FROM US
Flacco says he is at ease heading into the playoffs. ... Offensive coordinator Jim Caldwell is preparing to match wits with his former employers. ... Mel Kiper Jr. named right tackle Kelechi Osemele to his All-Rookie team. ... John Madden says that Chuck Pagano has the edge over John Harbaugh. ... Can Dannell Ellerbe take over for Ray Lewis long-term?
BEHIND ENEMY LINES
SHAMELESS PLUG OF THE DAY
I chatted with Mike Chappell, beat writer for The Indianapolis Star, about Sunday's wild card round game at M&T Bank Stadium.
OUTSIDE OF BALTIMORE
Despite flirtations with at least two NFL teams, Penn State coach Bill O'Brien is staying put for now. ... The Kansas City Chiefs could hire Andy Reid as their next head coach. ... The Chicago Bears want to interview Colts offensive coordinator Bruce Arians for their coaching gig. ... The Giants want Michael Strahan to work with Jason Pierre-Paul. ... San Francisco 49ers defensive end Justin Smith returned to practice on Thursday.