2014 DRAFT GUIDE
Ravens' Birk, Reed finally reach the Super Bowl

By DAVID GINSBURG - AP Sports Writer
    2013-01-22 15:54

OWINGS MILLS, Md. (AP) - The only reason why Matt Birk brought his aching knees and battered body to training camp for a 15th NFL season was to get to the Super Bowl.

The 36-year-old Birk was bothered by neck, elbow and knee injuries during his previous three years with the Baltimore Ravens, yet he never missed a start. During the offseason, the six-time Pro Bowl center underwent surgery to repair varicose veins in his legs.

Still, Birk knew the Ravens had a shot at a championship, and he wanted to be a part of it.

``At this stage in my career, losing takes a lot out of you,'' Birk said. ``I wouldn't have come back if I didn't think there was a legitimate chance that I could help the team.''

Birk, safety Ed Reed and guard Bobbie Williams head a list of longtime veterans who will be making their first Super Bowl appearance when the Ravens face the San Francisco 49ers on Feb. 3.

``It means a lot for all the guys to have an opportunity to be a part of that,'' coach John Harbaugh said. ``To be able to be involved with that as a leader is a huge thing. It makes you feel really good, and now you try to make the most of it.''

Birk endured 11 fruitless years in Minnesota, reaching the playoffs five times without a conference title. Then, after joining the Ravens as a free agent in 2009, he was part of three more playoff runs that ended short of the Super Bowl.

Now, Birk is poised to be part of the NFL's biggest game.

``It's great, obviously,'' he said. ``That's the goal. That's your dream. That's why you play.''

Maybe Birk deserved it, after everything he went through over his first 14 years. But Birk exudes no such feeling of entitlement.

``Nobody deserves it more than anybody else. It doesn't matter how long you play,'' he said. ``To be doing it with this team and just, I think, the closeness of this team and kind of the journey that we have been through my four years here - every year getting close and getting close - to finally break through, it's pretty special.''

Reed, 34, has earned nine Pro Bowl invitations in 11 years with Baltimore and has long been recognized as one of the finest free safeties in the game. But he never got into the Super Bowl until now, and to make it even sweeter, his first appearance will be in his home state of Louisiana.

``It's been a long time coming, but it takes time,'' Reed said. ``We've built up to this point.''

Teammate Jacoby Jones, who grew up in New Orleans, will be making his Super Bowl debut in his sixth season. After the Ravens beat New England 28-13 in the AFC championship game, Reed prepared for a trip to familiar territory with Jones in tow.

``I really don't have any words for it,'' Reed said. ``I rushed into the locker room to call my mom, because I know that my family has been going through some things, so I'm just thankful to be going home and for the whole of New Orleans to see some hometown guys. Jacoby, we talked about it. We haven't been there since (Hurricane) Katrina. We're just grateful.''

The Ravens failed to win the AFC title game in 2008 and 2012 under Harbaugh before finally breaking through.

``For everything we've been through since coach Harbaugh got here, he had a vision of working us a certain way and taking us through something to build something and to create this moment,'' Reed said. ``We believed it, but it was just something we had to go through as men and understand each other and understand the process together.''

Williams, a backup on the line, played for Philadelphia and Cincinnati before getting into the Super Bowl in his 13th NFL season. Linebacker Terrell Suggs (10th season) and former Houston Texans stars Vonta Leach (ninth) and Bernard Pollard (seventh) signed as free agents with Baltimore for the chance to perform on the sport's grandest stage.

Quarterback Joe Flacco, who needed only five years to get it done, takes delight in seeing some of his older teammates finally heading to the Super Bowl.

``No doubt about it, I am excited for everybody that has been in the league as long as those guys have been,'' he said. ``To have this opportunity is pretty cool.''

Fantasy Football Player Notes RSS FeedPLAYER NOTES

Stepfan TaylorSep 18 04:14p

Arizona Cardinals RB Stepfan Taylor will likely see his role increased with RB Jonathan Dwyer deactivated indefinitely. Stepfan is a smaller back than Dwyer. Taylor and RB Robert Hughes [ More ]

Jamaal CharlesSep 18 04:12p

Updating a previous report, Kansas City Chiefs RB Jamaal Charles (ankle) took part in the early portion of practice open to the media Thursday, Sept. 18, and his availability [ More ]

Bobby RaineySep 18 04:07p

Updating an earlier report, Tampa Bay Buccaneers RB Bobby Rainey will start in Week 3. The decision is not primarily because of RB Doug Martin's (knee) injury, but also [ More ]

Steve WeatherfordSep 18 03:02p

New York Giants LB Jon Beason (foot, ankle) and LB Devon Kennard (hamstring) both did not participate in practice Thursday, Sept. 18. P Steve Weatherford (ankle), OT James Brewer [ More ]

Marqise LeeSep 18 03:02p

Jacksonville Jaguars WR Marqise Lee (hamstring) aggravated his hamstring injury in practice Wednesday, Sept. 17, and he's now been ruled out for Week 3 against the Indianapolis Colts. His [ More ]

Kerwynn WilliamsSep 18 02:52p

The Arizona Cardinals signed free-agent RB Kerwynn Williams (Chargers) to their practice squad Thursday, Sept. 18.

Jalen ParmeleSep 18 02:52p

The Arizona Cardinals re-signed RB Jalen Parmele to their active roster Thursday, Sept. 18.

Jamaal CharlesSep 18 02:52p

Kansas City Chiefs RB Jamaal Charles (ankle) is participating in practice Thursday, Sept. 18.

Chris RaineySep 18 02:42p

Arizona Cardinals RB Chris Rainey is being released from the practice squad Thursday, Sept. 18. Rainey has a history of domestic violence, according to sources.

Da'Quan BowersSep 18 02:32p

Tampa Bay Buccaneers DT Gerald McCoy (hand) is unlikely to play in Week 3 against the Atlanta Falcons Thursday, Sept. 18. McCoy fractured his hand just four days ago, [ More ]

Giovani BernardSep 18 02:22p

Cincinnati Bengals RBs Giovani Bernard and Jeremy Hill have formed an impressive backfield tandem under offensive coordinator Hue Jackson so far after two games. Bernard is on pace for [ More ]

Lamar MillerSep 18 02:12p

Miami Dolphins RB Lamar Miller (ankle) practiced for the third straight day Thursday, Sept. 18. Miller has a slight limp after spraining his ankle in the team's Week 2 [ More ]

Wes WelkerSep 18 01:42p

Denver Broncos WR Wes Welker (concussion) practiced with the team Wednesday, Sept. 17, which was his first on-field work since Labor Day, and he said he was cleared medically [ More ]

Rolando McClainSep 18 01:22p

Dallas Cowboys LB Rolando McClain (groin) is not participating in practice Thursday, Sept. 18. McClain will need to improve quickly to play in Week 3, in the opinion of Todd Archer of ESPN Dallas.

DeSean JacksonSep 18 01:22p

Washington Redskins WR DeSean Jackson (shoulder) is on the stationary bike as the rest of the team stretches for practice Thursday, Sept. 18. The plan is for Jackson to [ More ]

Marqise LeeSep 18 01:02p

Jacksonville Jaguars WR Marqise Lee (hamstring) has been ruled out for the team's Week 3 game.

Doug MartinSep 18 12:52p

Tampa Bay Buccaneers RB Doug Martin (knee) is unlikely to play in the team's Week 3 game due to a knee injury, according to a league source. Martin will [ More ]

Khiry RobinsonSep 18 10:23a

New Orleans Saints RB Khiry Robinson's workload will increase after RB Mark Ingram's (hand) injury. 'He's another back we feel like is young (but) is someone that'll be ready [ More ]

A.J. GreenSep 18 09:53a

Cincinnati Bengals WR A.J. Green (foot) is likely to play in Week 3, according to head coach Marvin Lewis.

Eric DeckerSep 18 09:32a

Updating previous reports, New York Jets WR Eric Decker (hamstring) was encouraged that he was able to do some jogging in the rehab area of the practice field Wednesday, Sept. 17.

Doug MartinSep 18 09:23a

Tampa Bay Buccaneers RB Doug Martin (knee) and RB Bobby Rainey are expected to split carries in Week 3 and in the near future.

Lamar MillerSep 18 12:43a

Miami Dolphins RB Lamar Miller (ankle) was not on the team's injury report Wednesday, Sept. 17.

Walter ThurmondSep 17 11:23p

New York Giants CB Trumaine McBride is expected to start in place of the injured CB Walter Thurmond (pectoral) in the Week 3 game against the Houston Texans.

Giovani BernardSep 17 11:23p

Cincinnati Bengals RB Giovani Bernard is on pace for 328 carries, while rookie RB Jeremy Hill is ticketed for 152 for a total of 480. That would be the [ More ]

Jeremy HillSep 17 11:23p

Cincinnati Bengals RB Jeremy Hill is on pace for a total of 152 carries, while RB Giovani Bernard is on pace for 328 carries. The most runs in franchise [ More ]

Eric HermanSep 17 11:23p

New York Giants OL Eric Herman is eligible to return to the team after having his four-game suspension for violation of the drug policy voided. The team has [ More ]

Drew StantonSep 17 09:45p

Arizona Cardinals QB Drew Stanton is in line to start his second straight game against the San Francisco 49ers in Week 3 with QB Carson Palmer (shoulder) sidelined. It [ More ]

John AbrahamSep 17 09:13p

Arizona Cardinals LB John Abraham (concussion), LB Alex Okafor (thigh) and DE Frostee Rucker (calf) each did not practice Wednesday, Sept. 17. LB Larry Foote (shoulder) and P Dave [ More ]

Andre EllingtonSep 17 09:13p

Arizona Cardinals RB Andre Ellington (foot) did not participate in practice Wednesday, Sept. 17.

B. Green-EllisSep 17 08:03p

Several clubs have reportedly reached out to free-agent RB BenJarvus Green-Ellis (Bengals), who is still in the process of rehab after suffering a hip injury in the preseason.

Jonathan DwyerSep 17 08:03p

Arizona Cardinals RB Jonathan Dwyer has been deactivated from all team activities Wednesday, Sept. 17. The team was made aware of allegations by the Phoenix police and are cooperating [ More ]

Marshawn LynchSep 17 07:53p

Seattle Seahawks RB Marshawn Lynch (back) did not practice Wednesday, Sept. 17.

RSS Feeds

NFL News:
 
Player Notes:
 
Forum Posts:
 

© 2014 RealTime Fantasy Sports, Inc.
Email Us  ·  Call Us 636.447.1170  ·  Lost Password
Advertising represented by USA Today Sports Media Group