Wakeup Call: A team-by-team tag look

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Wakeup Call: A team-by-team tag look

Here's your wakeup call -- a combination of newsworthy andor interesting tidbits -- for Monday, February 18:

AUTO RACING
Of all the congratulations Danica Patrick received for becoming the first woman to win the pole at the Daytona 500, the one that may mean the most to her came from Janet Guthrie, who broke NASCAR's gender barrier in 1976. (AP)

A look at Patrick down through the years. (nbcsports.com)

BASEBALL
Despite an "absolutely terrible" offseason spent recovering from a broken ankle that he says he probably could have avoided had he not tried to play through pain, Derek Jeter vows to be ready for Opening Day. (AP)

Just be ready for April 24, Derek. You don't want to miss "Joe Maddon Gnome Bobblehead Night" at The Trop. (NBC's Off The Bench)

Whenever you do come back, Jose Reyes will be waiting. (CSN Baltimore)

Todd Helton apologizes and asks for forgiveness after his DUI arrest. (AP)

Paul Konerko realizes this may be his last go-round in the big leagues, but says he's ready for life after baseball. (AP)

Freddy Sanchez? At the end of the line? Wasn't it just yesterday he was the big Sox prospect in Pawtucket? (CSN Bay Area)

If you had Day One in the Matt Garza Injury Pool, congratulations! (CSN Chicago)

Yes, yes, that's Chipper Jones in Braves camp. No, no, he's not coming back. (AP)

Nick Swisher returns to the Indians after attending his mother's funeral. (AP)

Roger Clemens says he's "been friends" with, and "had some good times" with, Mike Piazza. With friends like that . . . (AP)

COLLEGE BASKETBALL
The legend of Marshall Henderson continues to grow. (NBC's College Basketball Talk)

A win is a win is a win, right, Jim Larranaga? Especially one that gets you to 12-0 in the ACC. (AP)

Don't be surprised if No. 20 Wisconsin and No. 13 Ohio State flop positions in the new AP poll today after the Badgers' 22-point thumping of the Buckeyes. (AP)

COLLEGE FOOTBALL
Ken Clark, one of the Nebraska's top all-time rushers, dies of a heart attack at age 46. (AP)

GOLF
Tiger Woods tunes up for this week's Match Play Championship by playing a round with President Obama. (AP)

When gets there, he'll be seeded second behind Rory McIlroy. (AP)

This weekend's winners: John Merrick at Riviera . . . (AP)

. . . Jiyai Shin in the Australian Women's Open . . . (AP)

. . . and Bernard Langer on the Champions Tour. (AP)

HOCKEY
You think Bill Belichick is bad? Try asking John Tortorella a question. (CSN Washington)

The Blackhawks beat the Kings and are now one away from tying the 2006-07 Ducks' record for consecutive games at the beginning of a season without a loss. (CSN Chicago)

The Blues follow a winless home stand with an undefeated road trip. (AP)

The Wild top the Red Wings for their first regulation victory since Jan. 29. (AP)

The Canadiens' rookie sensation, Brendan Gallagher, is out indefinitely because of a concussion. (AP)

The AHL game between Springfield and Adirondack is suspended in the second period when the Falcons' Wade MacLeod, a Columbus farmhand and ex-Northeastern player, suffers a seizure after being checked into the glass. MacLeod is reported to be stable and alert at a Springfield hospital. (AP)

PRO BASKETBALL
At long last, a Clipper is named MVP of the All-Star Game. (AP)

The injured James Harden not only gets to play in his hometown All-Star Game, but he scores 15 points and has some fun, to boot. (CSN Houston)

Kobe to LeBron: Get that stuff outta here. Twice! (NBC's Pro Basketball Talk)

The NBA All-Stars play Marilyn Monroe to Michael Jordan's President Kennedy. (AP)

Jerry Colangelo on Deron Williams: I meant physically unfit, for God's sake! (AP)

PRO FOOTBALL
A team-by-team look at the candidates for the dreaded franchise tag. (NBC's Pro Football Talk)

Alec Ogletree's recent DUI arrest, coming less than a year after his positive drug test, may be a boon for the Ravens. (Pro Football Talk)

TENNIS
Rafael Nadal's comeback is complete: He wins the Brazil Open. (AP)

Victoria Azarenka ends her 10-match losing streak against Serena Williams as she posts a 7-6, 2-6, 6-3 victory in the finals of the Qatar Open. (AP)

Bennett not practicing, Foster spends some time with receivers

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Bennett not practicing, Foster spends some time with receivers

FOXBORO -- Martellus Bennett could use a rest, and the Patriots had him sit out for the start of Wednesday's practice.

The 6-foot-7 tight end is dealing with ankle and shoulder issues that have limited him in practice in recent weeks, and he missed an appearance at a preschool on Tuesday with what a representative called an illness. During Sunday's game against the Rams, Bennett's physical ailments clearly limited him as he had difficulty both as a blocker and as a receiver. 

The Patriots also went without safety Jordan Richards, receiver Danny Amendola and special teams captain Matthew Slater at the start of practice. Richards suffered a knee injury against the Jets in Week 12 and missed practice time last week. Amendola endured an ankle injury against the Rams and left the game iin the third quarter. Slater is dealing with a foot injury that has kept him out of the last two games. 

Patriots corner Eric Rowe was present for the start of Wednesday's practice, but he was not spotted with other corners after a couple of drills. Rowe injured his hamstring late in the third quarter against the Rams and did not return. 

Patriots running back DJ Foster was spotted with receivers near the end of the team's media-availability period Wednesday after working out with running backs to start the session. Foster played receiver for a year in college after beginning his collegiate career as a running back. If the Patriots want depth at wideout with Amendola injured, Foster could be an option.

Know Thine Enemy: A complete breakdown of the Ravens

Know Thine Enemy: A complete breakdown of the Ravens

After a 3-0 start, the Ravens dropped a 28-27 decision to the Raiders in Baltimore. That started a four-game skid for Baltimore which included back-to-back losses at the Jets and Giants. But they got back on track against the Steelers and have won four out of five with their only being to the Cowboys. It’s hard to get a clean read on who they really are. 

They had narrow, early-season wins over crap teams like Cleveland and Jacksonville. They had a narrow loss to an outstanding Raiders team and were close with the Cowboys but got run over late with Dallas scoring on its last five possessions. They are coming off their most impressive team win, a 38-6 triumph over the Dolphins. 

This game is a big one in the AFC race not just because it’s a divisional leader but also because it will be a common game between the Patriots and Raiders. The Raiders already beat Baltimore. 

The Pats need to keep pace in a tiebreaker they currently trail. Weird schedule quirk? The Ravens have had only one road game that required a long commute since September. That was the game at Dallas. They just played six of their last nine and four of their last five at home.

LAST 5

Ravens 21, Steelers 14
Ravens 28, Browns 7
At Cowboys 27, Ravens 17
Ravens 19, Bengals 14
Ravens 38, Dolphins 6

OFFENSIVE STATS TO CHEW ON

More than half of Joe Flacco’s 323 completions have gone to three players: tight end Dennis Pitta (61 catches), wide receiver Mike Wallace (57) and wide receiver Steve Smith (54). Those players are 31, 30 and 37 respectively so it’s a veteran group.
Flacco is 114 of 159 (72 percent) with nine touchdowns and three picks in Baltimore’s last four games. He has 15 TDs and 11 picks this season.

The Ravens don’t run it much: 502 pass attempts, 287 rushing attempts. Terrence West and Kenneth Dixon are the lead backs. West has carried more than 15 times in a game on three occasions this season.

Rookie left tackle Ronnie Stanley has been playing very well as has the rest of the Ravens offensive line in recent weeks. Still, Baltimore is just at 34.1 on third down conversions.

DEFENSIVE STATS TO CHEW ON

The Ravens have allowed 207 points this season, tied with the Patriots for lowest in the AFC and just behind Seattle (194) overall.
Baltimore’s allowing just 33.3 percent conversions on third down and only 3.4 yards per carry.

Opposing quarterbacks are completing 64.1 percent of their passes and have 21 touchdown passes and 14 picks against the Ravens defense. Ten of the Ravens 14 picks came against the Browns, Jaguars and in last week’s rout of Miami.
 
WHERE ARE THEIR HEADS AT

"I just think they've got a great team. They've got Tom Brady. They've been the best team in the conference, and it's going to be our toughest challenge of the year." – John Harbaugh, Ravens coach, on Monday night’s matchup