Connect with us

News

DE Calais Campbell prepared to ‘empty the tank’ as veteran pillar of Ravens defense

Published

on

DE Calais Campbell prepared to ‘empty the tank’ as veteran pillar of Ravens defense

The week before Thanksgiving, John Harbaugh saw Calais Campbell sitting down for an end-of-day meal in the Ravens’ cafeteria.

Harbaugh does not spend a lot of time thinking about Campbell. Why would he? In a world framed by worry and uncertainty, Campbell is the weathered oak tree at the heart of the Ravens defense — tall, strong and true no matter what swirls around him.

After 14 years leading an NFL team, Harbaugh knows what a blessing it is to have a great player who grounds the entire operation. On this occasion, he felt compelled to tell Campbell so. “Hey man,” he said to the smiling giant with the raspy voice, “I really appreciate you.”

Campbell has played as long as Harbaugh has coached, and he does not take such moments of acknowledgment for granted. When he was a young defender for the Arizona Cardinals, he observed the seriousness of Pro Bowl safety Adrian Wilson, intent on maximizing every day he had left in the NFL. He spent time after practice with defensive end Bertrand “B-train” Berry, learning to time his first step to the quarterback’s cadence. Dwight Freeney taught him how to build tandem pass-rush plans and care for his body outside the team facility. There were so many wise men.

Even then, Campbell aspired to become a role model and teacher for the next generation. He wanted 15 years in the NFL, a mark he would reach if he decides to play next season.

“I did always want to be a player who left my mark on the game,” he said. Harbaugh’s thanks spoke to Campbell’s quest, now much closer to its end than to its beginning.

There’s not a speck of phoniness in the respect teammates and coaches express for him. The veterans feel a little sturdier standing beside No. 93. The young guys hope to have careers like his, even if they know that is exceedingly unlikely.

“Calais, he’s the ultimate man,” rookie linebacker Odafe Oweh said. “He just carries himself with so much respect and so much … his presence. He has a presence with the type of person he is. He’s just so respectable. He has so much knowledge for the game and outside the game, how to handle yourself as a pro and everything.”

Campbell did not exactly have a disappointing first season in Baltimore in 2020. He made his sixth Pro Bowl in seven years and peaked in the playoffs, when the Ravens held a pair of explosive offenses to 30 points combined. But a strained calf and a bout with COVID-19 cost him four games after he had not missed any since 2014, and he did not get his paws on quarterbacks as consistently as he had in peak seasons.

He came back for his encore offering no guarantees that he would play past his current contract, which will run out at the end of this year. But he was the team’s most dominant defensive lineman from the first snap of training camp, and he has remained exactly that through the first 11 games of the season, playing at least 70% of defensive snaps in all but two (he missed the team’s win over the Cleveland Browns because he was in concussion protocol).

The team’s other veteran interior defenders, Campbell’s fellow “Monstars,” have faltered. Nose tackle Brandon Williams has missed four games and has not played with his usual force when active. Defensive end Derek Wolfe won’t play at all this year because of an ailing back.

Campbell, the oldest of the three at 35, has graded as the fourth-best defensive lineman in the NFL, according to Pro Football Focus. Few analysts mention him in the same breath as Aaron Donald or Myles Garrett. They see the half a sack and move on.

But you watch the Ravens on tape and almost every time they stuff a play at the line of scrimmage, Campbell is in the middle of the action. Teammates talk about his unselfishness, the way he occupies two or three blockers so they can make the sack or the tackle for loss.

“I just think it’s a blessing to even be on the field with a guy like that. He’s sacrificed so much,” fellow veteran Justin Houston said. “He doesn’t get enough credit for the way he plays, and if you watch him, even in pass-rush situations, he’s got three guys on him. So, it’s easy for us to be free and for other guys to run through the gap because he’s taking up three people at a time.”

The Ravens have needed Campbell more than ever this season, and he has answered the call. He misses Wolfe, whom he trusted to make the right reads and hold the line of scrimmage. “It just allowed me to relax a bit,” he said.

But he knows injuries to valued teammates are as inevitable as achy legs on a Sunday night, so he simply redoubles his urgency.

“He’s playing great. He’s a leader. He’s out here every day,” Harbaugh said. “He’s in the weight room every day. He mentors the young guys every day. That’s the kind of guy [he is], and I think that’ll be his legacy.”

Defensive coordinator Don “Wink” Martindale said he’d like to celebrate Campbell with another award equivalent to his 2019 Walter Payton Man of the Year for all-around contributions to the sport.

You get the sense that players such as Oweh will be passing on lessons learned from Campbell when they’re the graybeards in the room.

“Even in games, like when we run our stunts in games, he’ll just tell me the right way to run it,” Oweh said. “. … He’s just smart. I lean on him for a lot of things, and I’m happy I have him.”

Such words mean the world to Campbell. “If I have any legacy,” he said, “I hope it’s that I tried to keep the game strong and pass on all the knowledge I’ve built to the youth.”

He did not become the oak tree by accident. Reliability is his football creed. “I put a lot of effort into being a consistent player,” he said.

Like past Ravens (and University of Miami) greats Ray Lewis and Ed Reed, he is studious by nature. He spends an estimated $200,000 a year on specialists who help him get his body ready for combat each Sunday. That might sound like a lot of money, he tells young players, but if it adds years to your career, it’s a prudent investment.

Right after a game, his legs feel so heavy that he does not want to walk. He revives them step by step over the course of the week, moving from dry needling to massage to the cold tub to stretching.

He is a creature of habit, and that’s part of the reason he talks about last year with a note of frustration. “With COVID, not being able to do my regular routine I’ve had throughout my career, you could see — I still played fairly well, but it was not to the same level,” he said. “My body just didn’t respond.”

He doesn’t believe in the word satisfied, but he’s closer to meeting his own expectations this year, and he believes the Ravens have the makeup of a potential champion.

Does that mean Campbell will consider playing in 2022, whether for the Ravens or another contender? The appeal for Harbaugh and general manager Eric DeCosta would be obvious. The Ravens will likely rebuild their defensive line after this season, and Campbell would be the soundest possible bridge to a new era.

Will he want to go through another year of physical, mental and family sacrifices? Or will he decide enough is enough and retire on top, as Marshal Yanda did after the 2019 season? Campbell said he has not talked to the Ravens about the possibility and that his future, reaching a 15th season, is far from his mind.

“There’s nothing to talk about right now,” he said. “I’m trying to empty the tank. I don’t have the luxury of worrying about next year, because this could be it.”

google news

News

NH gov. questions Massachusetts’ handling of Montgomery case

Published

on

NH gov. questions Massachusetts’ handling of Montgomery case

New Hampshire Gov. Chris Sununu harshly criticized a Massachusetts court on Tuesday for placing Harmony Montgomery, missing since 2019 at age 5, with her father and stepmother before the state could complete a study of their home.

Sununu, in a letter to the chief justice of Massachusetts’ highest court, described the father, Adam Montgomery, as a “monster.” Adam Montgomery has a criminal record that goes back to least 2007 in both states. In Massachusetts, he was previously convicted of shooting someone in the head and a separate armed attack on two women, Sununu wrote.

Sununu asked why the Massachusetts courts went ahead and placed Harmony Montgomery with him. The governor said that at the time the court ruled, New Hampshire’s child protection agency had asked Massachusetts for additional information to complete the home study and would have likely found the father unfit.

“It is unclear why the Massachusetts courts moved so quickly with this permanent placement prior to the completion of the home study. Why would the Massachusetts court choose to place custody of Harmony with this horrible individual? What caused such a fateful decision?” Sununu wrote.

Sununu is requesting the court review the decision and all events leading to the judge’s ruling.

“No child should ever leave Massachusetts in the custody of a dangerous criminal like Adam Montgomery,” Sununu wrote. “We must ensure that, moving forward, at-risk children of our states are protected and adequately monitored.”

Massachusetts Court System Spokesperson Jennifer Donahue said Chief Justice Kimberly Budd received the letter from Sununu and that the Massachusetts Office of the Child Advocate has opened an investigation “into this tragic situation.” The Massachusetts Trial Court, she added, was cooperating fully with that investigation.

Harmony Montgomery was last seen at a Manchester home in October 2019, when she was 5. Manchester police were notified last December that the child had not been seen in two years.

Since then, police have searched the house where she was last seen. Harmony Montgomery’s father and stepmother have been arrested on charges related to her well-being.

Adam Montgomery was arrested on a second-degree assault charge earlier this month, as well as charges of interfering with custody and child endangerment. Police accused him of “purposely violating a duty of care, protection or support” by failing to know where the girl has been since late 2019 — the last reported sighting.

Adam Montgomery, 31, had not guilty pleas entered on his behalf by his lawyer. He has been jailed without bail.

Prosecutors dropped a welfare fraud charge last week against Harmony Montgomery’s stepmother, Kayla Montgomery, for collecting food stamps in the child’s name. The charge was replaced with three other charges, including theft.

google news
Continue Reading

News

Protestors depart from Michelle Wu’s house — and end up at Ed Flynn’s

Published

on

Protestors depart from Michelle Wu’s house — and end up at Ed Flynn’s

There’s been some peace and quiet for a couple of days outside Mayor Michelle Wu’s Roslindale home — because the protestors who’ve been screaming at her about the vaccine mandate trekked across town and began doing so outside Council President Ed Flynn’s house.

Flynn, of South Boston, is now the target of the anti-vaxxers’ ire after a couple of different statements over the weekend in which he decried the tone the demonstrators were taking with Wu outside her house over the mayor’s vaccine mandates.

“A person’s home should be a safe place,” Flynn said in a statement on Tuesday. “Here in Boston and across the country, we are seeing behavior that is crossing the line with the potential to escalate to violence. We need to treat each other with respect and dignity.”

Video shot Tuesday morning, the second in a row in which people have been outside his house, features a woman yelling at the top of her lungs that Flynn, who’s a Navy veteran of Operation Enduring Freedom, is a “communist” and a “traitor.”

This is similar rhetoric that the protestors used with Wu outside her Roslindale home as most days dawned over the past couple of weeks — calling her a communist and, on the morning of her 37th birthday last week, chanting “Happy birthday, Hitler.”

Wu, speaking on the radio on GBH on Tuesday, called these types of chants “hateful language” that’s “quite scary in some ways,” and said protestors had seized on “national right-wing talking points.”

The protestors are taking issue with her vaccine mandate for city workers and the requirement that many Boston venues have to require proof of vaccination. Both of those prongs of the mandate went into effect this week, and the city will begin to place non-compliant city workers on leave next week.

Flynn, whose district includes Southie and Chinatown, on Saturday had been responding to a question about whether his father, the former mayor Raymond Flynn, ever had protestors outside of his house. Yes, Flynn had told reporters, but he said this is a “different level of intensity” and, he added, “I honestly believe some of it is related to an anti-Asian sentiment in this country.”

The protestors hadn’t totally forgotten about Wu, though — a couple of people did show up at her press conference on Tuesday to shout questions about what they characterized as “discrimination” against them and other unvaccinated people over the city’s implementation of vaccine mandates and passports.

google news
Continue Reading

News

Ricardo Arroyo ‘considering’ bid for Suffolk County District Attorney

Published

on

Ricardo Arroyo ‘considering’ bid for Suffolk County District Attorney

Boston City Councilor Ricardo Arroyo is the latest name floated to be in the running for the open Suffolk County District Attorney seat.

The former public defender confirmed he’s fielding calls and “considering” a bid but was otherwise tight-lipped about his aspirations for higher office.

Arroyo is fresh off his reelection to his second term representing District 5.

Sources close to the city councilor say he’s motivated to ensure former Suffolk County District Attorney turned U.S. Attorney Rachael Rollins’ criminal justice reform movement carries on in her absence. Politico first reported Arroyo’s interest in the seat.

Rollins was sworn in as the top federal prosecutor in Massachusetts under President Biden on Jan. 10, becoming the first Black woman to hold the role.

Arroyo was born in Hyde Park — the district he now represents — to parents Felix D. Arroyo, a former Boston city councilor and the current register of probate for Suffolk County and Elsa Montano, a retired Boston Public Schools teacher.

Gov. Charlie Baker appointed Sex Offender Registry Board Chair Kevin Hayden to serve out the rest of Rollins’ term as Suffolk district attorney. He formerly served as an assistant district attorney in the county he now serves as district attorney. Hayden hasn’t yet said if he plans to run for a full term in the upcoming November election.

No one has formally jumped into the 2022 Suffolk district attorney’s race yet, but it’s expected to draw multiple hopefuls.

Fellow councilor Michael Flaherty has been rumored as another potential candidate.

Flaherty, an attorney, also once served as an assistant district attorney in the Suffolk County District Attorney’s Office. The Boston native has spent a collective 16 years as a city councilor.

google news
Continue Reading

Trending