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Steelers again turn to ageless Batch

Steelers again turn to ageless Batch

PITTSBURGH (AP) Mike Wallace is in his fourth season with the Pittsburgh Steelers, so the wide receiver is familiar with all this talk about Charlie Batch.

Asked if it was at all concerning that the man throwing the ball to him on Sunday will soon be 38 years old, Wallace shrugged.

``He's been old,'' he said of Batch. ``It's not like he just got old. Chuck's been old since I got here, so it's nothing new.''

Neither is Batch making a fill-in start for his hometown Steelers (6-4), who are at Cleveland (2-8) this weekend. For the eighth time since he signed with Pittsburgh 11 years ago, Batch will be under center to begin a game for the Steelers.

No Steeler is older than Batch, whose birthday is Dec. 5. He spent the first four years of his career with Detroit, but only nose tackle Casey Hampton was with Pittsburgh before Batch arrived.

``They say Charlie built the building,'' guard Willie Colon deadpanned. ``That's what I heard.''

Teammates might enjoy yukking it up when it comes to Batch's age, but they're happy they have him and more content than could be reasonably expected for an NFL team down to its third-string quarterback.

``I feel comfortable with Charlie,'' Wallace said. ``I feel like he can lead us to victory any game he plays in. Just two years ago when we played with him the first four games we were 3-1 so I'm excited about having Chuck out there.''

Batch started two of those early season games while Ben Roethlisberger served a four-game suspension and Byron Leftwich and Dennis Dixon sat out with injuries.

This season, Roethlisberger and Leftwich both have rib injuries. Leftwich relieved Roethlisberger two weeks ago in a win over Kansas City and started this past Sunday's loss to Baltimore.

With most other teams, dropping down to the third-string QB - if they even have one - more often than not means an inexperienced rookie. With the Steelers, it means one of the most tenured quarterbacks in the NFL.

``Charlie's a well-rounded quarterback who's ... comfortable running the majority of our offense,'' offensive coordinator Todd Haley said. ``He's a veteran savvy guy who's an accurate thrower, short and long.''

In his most recent game, Batch completed 15 of 22 passes for 208 yards and a touchdown in a 27-0 win over St. Louis last Christmas Eve. He is 5-2 as a starter with the Steelers, and one of his losses was a meaningless outing in the 2007 season finale when Pittsburgh's playoff seeding was wrapped up.

In recent years, Batch seemingly enters every training camp as - at best - No. 3 on the depth chart, and there are whispers his roster spot is tenuous.

Then usually every year, he starts at least one game and excels.

``These opportunities don't come often anymore,'' Batch said. ``And here I am, getting up there in years. When you have this opportunity you cherish it.''

Batch, who said he had one of his better training camps, joked he's ``doing it for all the 38-year-olds.''

Some of the best quarterbacks in the game (Peyton Manning, 36, and Tom Brady, 35) are close to Batch's age. The 37-year-old Matt Hasselbeck passed for 290 yards in beating the Steelers last month. Brett Favre was 41 when he played his final game - 40 when he had an MVP-caliber season with the Minnesota Vikings.

``Charlie is Charlie,'' receiver Emmanuel Sanders said. ``He's very smart, and he takes pride in the minor details of his job.''

Wallace said Batch regularly asks more questions than anyone in the offensive meeting room, and several players refer to the quarterback as the proverbial ``coach on the field.''

That prompted Haley to say, half-jokingly, ``We've got to teach him the art of not over-coaching.''

The only other healthy quarterback on Pittsburgh's roster is Brian Hoyer, signed Tuesday. While Haley and teammates have marveled at Hoyer's intelligence and ability to pick up the offense quickly, the Steelers need Batch to stay healthy.

``Right now,'' Batch said, ``I'm that guy and there's no telling how long I'll have this position. It could be one week, it could be two or three. I don't know. But either way, you just go week to week and not worry about what's going to happen after the fact.''

With 53 career starts, 78 games and 1,534 pass attempts, Batch thinks he's prepared for Sunday.

The only adjustment Batch said he wants to make is the timing of the play clock and interpreting Haley's play call while in the huddle to get it out to the rest of the offense.

More than 14 years after his first NFL start, Batch this week has had the butterflies associated with being eager for game day.

``I still get excited about it because these opportunities don't come much,'' he said. ``Right now, I know I have at least one other one.''

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2018 NFL Mock Draft Baltimore Ravens Roundup 2.0: Lamar Jackson added to the mix

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USA Today Sports

2018 NFL Mock Draft Baltimore Ravens Roundup 2.0: Lamar Jackson added to the mix

With just about three months to go until the 2018 NFL Draft, more and more names are being thrown into the mix for the Ravens at No. 16.

It's no secret that everyone views an offensive weapon a must, but a lot of media outlets have an outside linebacker in the mix.

Ahead of the Senior Bowl taking place on Saturday, where talent evaluators will get an up close and person view of prospects, let's add to the list of potential first-round picks. The new additions will be in italics. 

RELATED: RAVENS TIGHT END NAMED FINALIST FOR WALTER PAYTON MAN OF THE YEAR

WIDE RECEIVER DRAFT PROSPECTS

Calvin Ridley (Alabama): 

General manager Ozzie Newsome has a tendency to draft guys from his alma mater, and with 'Bama coming off of another national championship, it wouldn't be a surprise to see Ridley go to the Ravens. 

Standing at 6-1 and 190 pounds, Ridley had 63 receptions during his 2017 season for 967 yards and five touchdowns. He would be a solid pickup if still available at No. 16.

Land of 10Rotoworld and Sports Illustrated all have Ridley going to the Ravens at No. 16.

If Ridley is gone by 16, what other offensive option is available for the Ravens? ESPN's Mel Kiper said "None." 

Courtland Sutton (SMU): 

I literally said "dang" when looking up Sutton's 2017 stats.

The 6-4, 216 pound junior has 68 receptions for 1085 yards and 12 TD's in 2017. Just shy of his 76 receptions for 1246 yards and 10 TD's back in 2016.

Bleacher Report has Sutton going to the Ravens in the first-round. 

Christian Kirk (Texas A&M): 

Kirk has been considered a top prospect for the first round by many. 

The 5-11, 200 pound junior finished with 71 receptions, 919 yards and 10 touchdowns. 

James Washington (Oklahoma State): 

At 6-1, 205 pounds, Washington finished his senior year with 74 receptions for 1549 yards and 13 TD's. 

Washington could be a good snag if other viable WRs are gone by pick No. 16. 

RELATED: WHO WERE THE RAVENS' MVPS IN 2017?

RUNNING BACK DRAFT PROSPECTS

Derrius Guice (LSU): 

While fans are hoping for a wide receiver, a running back would be another good offensive weapon option for Flacco.

Guice rushed for 1,251 yards in 2017. He also had 18 receptions for 124 yards and 13 total touchdowns.

CBS Sports now has the 5-11 junior at No. 16.

QUARTERBACK DRAFT PROSPECTS

Lamar Jackson (Louisville):

Bleacher Report's David McCracken is the only mock draft I've found with the Ravens taking a QB at No. 16. 

Jackson is among a draft class with a lot of strong QBs but is expected to go somewhere in the first-round. 

Throwing for 3,660 yards and 27 touchdowns, Jackson could be a strong candidate to succeed Flacco. 

Josh Allen (Wyoming): 

While I don't foresee the Ravens taking a QB in the first-round, Allen would be a good pick if for some crazy reason they did. Bigger named QBs like Baker Mayfield, Lamar Jackson, Sam Darnold and Josh Rosen will likely be taken by bottom five teams in desperate need of one.

At 6-5, 233 pounds, Allen had 1812 yards on the season for 16 touchdowns. 

Bold pick: If the Ravens are that focused on finding their next franchise QB, they could trade up to grab someone like Mayfield or Jackson.

OFFENSIVE LINEMAN DRAFT PROSPECTS

Orlando Brown Jr. (Oklahoma): 

NFL.com's Daniel Jeremiah listed Brown in his first mock draft.

Jeremiah said, "The Ravens need to address the wide receiver position, but they have a good track record of filling that void with veteran players in free agency. Brown would immediately start at right tackle for Baltimore, just like his father did a little more than a decade ago."

Brown stands at 6-8, 345 pounds and was a unanimous first-team All-American among being named Big 12 Offensive Lineman of the Year.

Brian O'Neill (Pitt):

ESPN's Mel Kiper released his latest mock draft and to some surprise picked O'Neill for the Ravens. 

The Junior is listed at 6-6, 305 pounds and came to Pitt as a tight end. He moved to left tackle in 2017, but with only three-years experience at the O-line position, he's high on the list because of his athleticism and footwork.

The Ravens will get a chance to see him in action at the Senior Bowl this week.

RELATED: IMPORTANT 2018 OFFSEASON DATES

DEFENSIVE DRAFT PROSPECTS

Arden Key (LSU): 

If history repeats itself, the Ravens may select a defensive weapon in the first-round.

What Key could bring to the table at 6-6, 238 pounds is some relief to Terrell Suggs who will be 36 in 2018.

Ben Standing- in his latest NFL mock draft -has Key being drafted by the Ravens.

Minkah Fitzpatrick (Alabama): 

There are two things Ozzie Newsome likes; defensive players and defensive players from Alabama.

Fitzpatrick can check both of those off of his list. He's also a two-time All-American, won the Bednarik Award for defensive player of the year and won the Jim Thorpe Award for the nation's best defensive back. He can add national champion to that list too.

CBS Sports has Fitzpatrick going to the Ravens in the first-round in their first edition.

Marcus Davenport (Texas-San Antonio): 

Davenport is another strong option to one day replace Terrell Suggs.

At 6-7, 255 pounds, Davenport had 55 combined tackles, 8.5 sacks, and three forced fumbles. SB Nation's Dan Kadar has him on his list saying, "He’s a lengthy edge rusher who uses speed and power to get into the backfield."

Denzel Ward (Ohio State):

The All-American has chosen to skip his senior year at Ohio State and enter into the draft.

The 5-10, 191 pound cornerback had 37 total tackles, 2 interceptions and 15 passes defended in 2017. 

While Land of 10 has them at No.16, the Ravens are hopeful that Jimmy Smith will be fully recovered from his Achillies injury at the start of the season. It should be noted that they drafted CB Marlon Humphrey during the first-round of the 2017 draft.

RELATED: FIVE BIGGEST QUESTIONS FOR RAVENS THIS OFFSEASON

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Ravens' Benjamin Watson named finalist for Walter Payton Man of the Year

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USA Today Sports

Ravens' Benjamin Watson named finalist for Walter Payton Man of the Year

Ravens' tight end Benjamin Watson is among three finalist for the Walter Payton Man of the Year award which "recognizes an NFL player for his excellence on and off the field."

The 14-year veteran is being recognized for his One More Foundation, which Watson and his wife Kirsten created in 2008. According to their website, the foundations purpose is "devoted to spreading the love and hope of Christ to One More soul by meeting real needs, promoting education and providing enrichment opportunities through charitable initiatives and partnerships." This is the second time in Watson's career he has been nominated. 

RELATED: RAVENS' 2017 MVP'S

In addition to this nomination, Watson was awarded the 2017 Bart Starr Award which is given annually to a NFL player who "best exemplifies outstanding character and leadership in the home, on the field, and in the community." 

Some of Watson's charitable efforts through the One More Foundation include participating in #MyClauseMyCleasts to bring awareness to human sex trafficking, playing secret Santa to 25 families from Building Families for Children and partnering with the New Orleans Family Justice Center- where he used to play- helping survivors of domestic violence, sexual assault and stalking.

Carolina Panthers tight end Greg Olsen is a finalist for his Receptions for Research Foundation which focuses on cancer research and programming. Olsen and his wife Kara also started the HEARTest Yard Fund, a family service program that "provides families of babies affected by congenital heart disease with services including in-home, private nursing care, physical therapy and speech therapy, all at no cost to the families or hospital."

RELATED: FIVE BIGGEST OFFSEASON QUESTIONS FOR RAVENS

Houston Texans defensive end J.J. Watt is a finalist for the $37 million he raised for Hurricane Harvey relief efforts in addition to his already established Justin J. Watt Foundation

The winner will be announced at NFL Honors airing February 3rd at 9 p.m ET on NBC. 

The winner will receive a $500,000 donation with $250,000 of it going to their foundation of choice and the other $250,000 going in his name to help expand Character Playbook nationwide.