Long after the hurricane ravaged the Gulf Coast, including Sams’ hometown of
Mandeville, La., his family is still feeling the effects of the storm. Although
his parents eventually returned to Mandeville, several relatives chose to remain
in cities such as Atlanta and Houston where they settled after the devastation
to their native Louisiana.
“Everybody is doing better, even the ones whose houses were destroyed,” Sams
said Tuesday in the Ravens’ locker room. “Louisiana is rebuilding. Even though
it will probably never be the same as it was before I’m very proud of my state
because it has a lot of heart."
Sams is one of five Louisiana natives on the roster, including safeties Ed Reed
of St. Rose and Dawan Landry of Boutte along with cornerbacks David Pittman from
Gramercy and Ronnie Prude from Shreveport.
The Ravens played the last football game in the Superdome, defeating the New Orleans Saints in a preseason game last year only days prior to the hurricane's
“My community wasn’t affected too badly, especially compared to the heart of New
Orleans, but, personally, it was kind of emotional,” said Pittman, who attended
Northwestern State. “At my university, we had a relief center and there were a
lot of kids. It was just really sad.
“A lot of guys from our football team talked to the families about things and we
had fun and played games. It was a relief from the heartache and the pain.”
Prude, who attended LSU, had a similar experience.
The school’s Baton Rouge campus is located roughly 50 miles down the road from
New Orleans, and it housed hundreds of people in the gymnasium and dormitories.
“My memory of what happened is how several of my teammates from New Orleans
didn't know where their family members were and if they were safe,” Prude said.
“The university did a lot to help people who lost everything. I met a lot of
people that were affected by it, and it was heartfelt.
"You couldn’t know how they felt about it because you’re not in their shoes. I
feel like Louisiana isn’t even close to being back to where it should be, but
we’re going to get there one day.”
INJURED RESERVE: The Ravens got down to the NFL-mandated roster limit of 75
players Tuesday by placing safety B.J. Ward and wide receiver Matt Cherry on
injured reserve, ending their seasons.
Ward had been sidelined with a severe case of migraines since midway through
training camp, undergoing a series of neurological tests that ruled out his
headaches as being concussion related. He had complained of dizziness, a lack of
balance and had to wear sunglasses outdoors because of a sensitivity to
“It’s very strange because I was almost back and I was basically just waiting
for the doctor to give me the OK,” said Ward, who drew the ire of coaches and
teammates for a series of questionable hits during training camp that were
regarded by many as cheap shots. “This is interesting because I didn’t expect
it. I want to be here, and I hope that next year will be different.”
Cherry dislocated his shoulder in practice.
"Anytime a player misses a substantial amount of training camp, it's tough,"
Ravens coach Brian Billick said. "That's when the numbers catch up."
The Ravens have until Sept. 2 to trim their roster to 53 players, leaving the
team to cut 22 more players. Under league guidelines, NFL teams are allowed to
form an eight-man practice squad the following day.
PUNTING GAME: Rookie punter Sam Koch averaged 51 yards on five punts with a long
of 61 yards against the Minnesota Vikings last week, likely strengthening his
grip on the job ahead of veteran Leo Araguz.
“Sam had plenty of opportunities and we’ve got to build on that this Thursday,”
TRAINING ROOM: Safety Gerome Sapp (illness) and offensive guard Brian Rimpf
(hamstring) didn't practice.
Running back Jamal Lewis (hip flexor) practiced for the second consecutive
without incident. Although Billick said no decision has been made, the former
Pro Bowl runner is unlikely to play against the Washington Redskins on Thursday.
“They felt it would be good for him to push himself a little bit,” Billick said.
“That’s a good sign.”
QUICK HITS: Billick expressed a desire to make the team’s preseason game against
the Redskins an annual meeting.
“I don’t understand why we wouldn’t make that permanent and finish the preseason
with one another every year,” he said. “It just makes too much sense. Therefore,
it probably won’t happen.”
Aaron Wilson writes for the Carroll County Times