ITEM: Flacco thinks he's "the best" QB in football
During a recent appearance on WNST in Baltimore, Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco took a page from the Eli Manning playbook.
"I assume everybody thinks they're a top-five quarterback," Flacco said in the interview. "I mean, I think I'm the best. I don't think I'm top five, I think I'm the best. I don't think I'd be very successful at my job if I didn't feel that way. I mean, C'mon? That's not really too tough of a question. But that doesn't mean that things are gonna work out that way. It just means that that's the way it is, that's the way I feel it is, and that's the way I feel it should be."
Flacco's proclamation comes almost one year after Manning made similar news when he characterized himself as an "elite" quarterback. Manning then led his team to a win in Super Bowl XLVI. In his four seasons as the Ravens' starter, Flacco is 0-2 in AFC Championship Games, although Baltimore's loss last season was more a result of Lee Evans' dropping a pass in the end zone and then Billy Cundiff badly missing a game-tying 32-yard field goal.
Flacco also talked about the status of negotiations with the team for a contract extension.
"It either gets done or it doesn't," Flacco said of the negotiations. "And I'm not really too involved in the process besides letting him know how I feel and letting him take care of that and letting the Baltimore Ravens take care of their side. And that's really my involvement. It's not about the money, it's about what you as a player feel that you deserve. And at the end of the day, they'll take care of it, and I'll be waiting."
ITEM: Pollard says NFL becoming flag football
Ravens safety Bernard Pollard believes the emphasis on player safety being championed by Commissioner Roger Goodell will turn professional football into flag football.
During an appearance on KILT, Pollard was asked what he thinks Goodell's ultimate goal is. Pollard answered, "From what I see, we're gonna be running around with helmets and flags on in about seven years." Pollard also said Goodell went way too far in his punishments for the Saints' bounty program, and that he Goodell is fundamentally changing the game.
"It's getting out of hand," Pollard said. "This is not powder-puff football, this is not flag football. This is a violent sport. And it's a fun sport — we all love playing this game. And we're blessed by God to even go out there and display our talent to the world, but at the same time you can't sit there and say, 'We want guts, we want glory, we want heart.' You can't give a player heart but at the end of the day you tell him, 'Well, hold on but be careful when you go to make that hit.' We wear helmets and shoulder pads. That means you're supposed to go knock somebody around. We ain't wearing flags."
ITEM: Dalton believes Bengals can be special
With the Cincinnati Bengals set to open their offseason program in a couple of weeks, quarterback Andy Dalton believes the team can improve upon last season's 9-7 record and a loss in the Wild Card Round of the playoffs.
"We've got a chance," Dalton told Bengals.com, "to do some real good things. I'm excited about getting back up to Cincinnati. It's one thing to be working out, but it's a lot better when there's football to do."
Tackle Andrew Whitworth likes what the Bengals have done to juice their running attack, and he also said he likes some of the character individuals the team has signed in the offseason, including guard Travelle Wharton and running back BenJarvus Green-Ellis.
"I'm pumped up for it. We've kind of filled the needs and the holes and solidified ourselves," said Whitworth. "Getting Reggie (Nelson) back was big. I think we're all excited to move forward off of last year."
ITEM: Lots of big names visiting Browns
With the 2012 NFL Draft still a couple of weeks away, the Cleveland Browns are doing their due diligence.
According to Mary Kay Cabot of The Plain Dealer, Notre Dame receiver Michael Floyd and Boise State running back Doug Martin are two of the big-name draft prospects the Browns are hosting for pre-draft visits this week.
Others are Oklahoma State receiver Justin Blackmon, Oklahoma State quarterback Brandon Weeden, Alabama running back Trent Richardson, Texas A&M quarterback Ryan Tannehill, LSU cornerback Morris Claiborne, Illinois defensive end Whitney Mercilus, Texas A&M quarterback Ryan Tannehill, Michigan State quarterback Kirk Cousins, Virginia Tech running back David Wilson and LSU defensive tackle Michael Brockers.
Teams are permitted to bring in 30 players for visits, not including local players who grew up within 50 miles of the facility. The visits must be concluded a week before the draft, which is April 26-28.
According to Cabot, the visits by Floyd and Martin indicate the Browns are keeping their options open with their first-round pick, the fourth overall. Floyd is gaining some momentum as a top 10 pick, and could be a candidate for the Browns if they trade down from No. 4, or up from No. 22. The Browns also have the 37th overall pick.
Browns General Manager Tom Heckert has said he'd be willing to trade down, but only a few spots. Heckert has said the Browns are strongly considering about five players with their No. 4 pick who are equally good. Therefore, he'd be willing to trade back if he can.
Also scheduled for a visit is USC offensive tackle Matt Kalil, who is expected to be picked third overall by the Minnesota Vikings.
"We really don't what Minnesota's going to do," Heckert said at the NFL owners meetings last week. "If Kalil is there, we'll have to think about him."
With All-Pro LT Joe Thomas still in the prime of his career, Kalil (6-6, 300) would have to play right tackle for the Browns.