Ravens taking a look at latest in long line of Matthews

Casey Matthews doesn't have ideal speed, but he could be an option at inside linebacker

February 26, 2011|By Jamison Hensley, The Baltimore Sun

INDIANAPOLIS — — The Ravens continue to show interest in Casey Matthews, talking to the Oregon inside linebacker at the NFL Scouting Combine after meeting with him at last month's Senior Bowl.

Matthews is considered a third- or fourth-round prospect who has drawn increased attention because his father, Clay Matthews Jr., played 19 years in the NFL and his brother, Clay Matthews III, was the runner-up this year for NFL defensive player of the year.

"Friends will ask me, 'Do you feel pressure?'" Matthews said Saturday. "I don't really see it as that. I put a certain amount on myself. It's not necessarily that I have to live up to the name, though it would be nice playing at their level."

Matthews had 79 tackles last season, including nine behind the line of scrimmage. He has strong instincts but lacks ideal sideline-to-sideline speed.

Inside linebacker isn't considered a top need for the Ravens, but they don't appear set on a starter next to Ray Lewis and they haven't found an heir apparent to the 35-year-old linebacker.

Ravens coach John Harbaugh said trying to find a true successor to Lewis is not going to happen.

"We won't be able to replace Ray Lewis," Harbaugh told the NFL Network. "In my opinion, he's the greatest middle linebacker in the history of the game. He's still playing as well as any middle linebacker in football today. That's an incredible thing after 15 years in the National Football League."

Harbaugh added, "I love him. I want him to play as long as he wants to play and I think he'll know when it's time. But as he's told me before, it's not time so we'll worry about that when the time comes."

Newton clarifies remark

Heisman Trophy winner Cam Newton tried to explain his recent remarks about being "an entertainer and an icon" when he met with the national media.

Newton made those comments after he signed an endorsement deal with Maryland-based equipment and apparel provider Under Armour.

"I was making the point that I want to be the best possible ambassador for them," he said Saturday while reading from a prepared statement, "just like I want to be the best possible ambassador for whatever I am lucky enough to play for. I am excited to compete this week, and you will see me doing everything possible to become the best player I can possibly be."

He added, "I felt it was somewhat misunderstood — it was partly my mistake. ... [But] this is what I signed up for."

Another Texas pass rusher?

A year after drafting Sergio Kindle, the Ravens have shown interest in another Texas pass rusher.

The Ravens were one of three teams who interviewed Sam Acho, who is considered a third-round prospect. At 6 feet 1, 257 pounds, he's expected to make the transition from college defensive end to NFL outside linebacker.

"I don't see it as a challenge," Acho said. "I see it as an opportunity."

Acho said he was close with Kindle when they were teammates at Texas.

"He's my boy, and I love him to death," Acho said. "We haven't talked lately. We're all focused on our seasons, but I'm sure we'll catch up."

Ravens talk with Division III prospect

The Ravens interviewed Cecil Shorts, a two-way performer for Division III powerhouse Mount Union who could get drafted as early as the third round.

Ravens director of player personnel Eric DeCosta told the team's web site that he had a "great interview" with Shorts, who played wide receiver and cornerback.

Shorts, who is listed at 6 feet, 200 pounds, said he would play wide receiver and returner in the NFL. Last season, he had a team-high 63 catches for 1,106 yards receiving and 17 touchdowns.

"I just want to prove I didn't belong at Mount Union and I can play at this level," Shorts said. "I've come here with a chip on my shoulder."

Devine remembers Ravens visit

West Virginia running back Noel Devine could soon go from watching an NFL training camp to attending one.

As he prepares to show off his speed for coaches and scouts at the scouting combine, Devine said he remembered his days at Ravens training camp in 2005, when he shadowed cornerback Deion Sanders.

"I got a little head start on what to expect," Devine said.

Devine, whose parents are deceased, went to Sanders' Florida high school and was nearly adopted by the Hall of Fame defender. He is considered a mid-round pick after he had a disappointing 2010 season with West Virginia (936 yards rushing).

"Deion has been a great mentor and great godfather," Devine said. "He taught me how to carry and present myself. He's a great role model."

jamsion.hensley@baltsun.com

twitter.com/jamisonhensley

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