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Ryan Clark wearing No. 21 in practice in honor of Sean Taylor

Ryan-Clark-Sean-Taylor-jersey

Ryan Clark signed on for his second stint with the Washington Redskins earlier this offseason. The veteran previously played for the Redskins in 2004 and 2005, when he was teammates with the late Sean Taylor. As a tribute to Taylor, Clark has been wearing a No. 21 jersey during practice. He’ll continue to wear it during organized team activities.

“Extremely honored and blessed to get another opportunity to rep for a friend!” Clark wrote on Instagram. “Miss ya bro! R.I.P S. Dot!”

Back in April, Clark asked Taylor’s former fiancee if she would be OK with him wearing Taylor’s No. 21 during the spring and summer. She gave Clark her blessing, and he later explained his decision on “The Lavar and Dukes Show.”

“Every time somebody asks me why I wear a different number to practice, I get to tell Sean’s story,” Clark said, via Dan Steinberg of DC Sports Bog. “I get to tell people about the guy I love. I get to tell people about the guy who was possibly on his way to being the greatest safety to ever play the game. And that got cut short. He never got to realize his full potential. But it gives me the opportunity to remind people of him.”

Taylor was shot and killed during a home invasion at age 24. The Redskins do not retire jersey numbers, but his has not been worn with the team since his death.

Ryan Clark throws shade at Darrelle Revis over Twitter

Ryan ClarkFree agent safety Ryan Clark threw some shade at Darrelle Revis over Twitter Wednesday night after news of the cornerback’s contract agreement with the New England Patriots was reported.

Revis signed a one-year, $12 million contract with New England, which is four million less than what he was set to earn with Tampa Bay.

Here’s what Clark tweeted:

What’s up with Clark? Is the guy getting bitter with age? He’s 34, looking for an NFL job and considering retirement. Maybe something changes with athletes when they start working in TV the way Clark is. Or maybe Clark’s just jealous over the kind of coin another defensive back is being paid.

Ryan Clark concerned about how players should interact with Michael Sam

Michael-Sam-MissouriThere is a difference between expressing an honest opinion about a controversial topic and being discriminatory or insensitive. Pittsburgh Steelers safety Ryan Clark expressed concern on Monday over the prospect of Michael Sam playing in the NFL, but he did it without being homophobic.

Sam, an All-American defensive end at Missouri, came out publicly as gay on Sunday. He was originally projected to be drafted somewhere in the middle rounds of the 2014 NFL Draft, though it is unclear if his revelation will affect his draft stock. Clark — and I’m sure many others — is wondering if having an openly gay teammate will affect the locker room dynamic.

“You want to know how you can behave around this person,” he said on SportsCenter, per Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk. “Anyone who has been in a football locker room knows that there’s a lot of jokes, a lot of ribbing. We’ll talk about anything. If a guy is fat. If a guy is ugly. If a guy’s significant other is not attractive. These are things you josh each other about and you talk with each other about.

“In what ways can you talk to him? In what ways can you involve him in your conversations? What are the things you can do and say around him that won’t make him uncomfortable? That won’t make him feel that he’s being ostracized? Or that won’t make him feel like he’s being harassed or quote, unquote bullied?”

First of all, Sam would have one very significant thing in common with his teammates — they’re all football players. Sam has been around locker room banter his entire life and all indications are that his teammates at Missouri held the utmost respect for him. We know football players talk about women, but Sam would not automatically feel uncomfortable with that.

The fact that Sam is gay doesn’t mean his teammates can’t give him a hard time. There’s a difference between being hateful and needling someone. Seahawks fullback Derrick Coleman is the only deaf player in Seattle’s locker room, and I doubt his teammates feel uncomfortable interacting with him.

Would it require some adjusting? Most likely, and some players have already indicated that having a gay teammate could change locker room culture. Change isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Sam won’t be the last football player to reveal he is gay. The time to start getting used to it is now.

Ryan Clark believes Pittsburgh Steelers can still make playoffs with weak schedule

ryan-clarkThe Pittsburgh Steelers are off to an 0-4 start to the 2013 season, which has already resulted in a number of fans throwing in the Terrible Towel. Defensive back Ryan Clark has not given up hope, if for no other reason than his team’s remaining difficulty of schedule.

“I just believe we can win. That’s just the bottom line,” Clark said on Tuesday, via Alan Robinson of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. “I think we have the people in this room, the coaches (to win). Also, looking at our schedule, we’re not playing world beaters, we’re not playing gods. We’re playing men.”

There’s some truth behind Clark’s optimism. Despite the fact that the Steelers have yet to win a game, they are only 2.5 games behind in the AFC North with 12 games left to play. The Cleveland Browns are probably not as good as their 3-2 record indicates and the Cincinnati Bengals and Baltimore Ravens have shown plenty of flaws.

“We’re playing football teams that have vulnerabilities and teams I think we can beat,” Clark added. “That’s five division opponents left, so it’s in our own hands. I think we can win those games, and I think we will.”

In addition to their divisional games, the Steelers have games remaining against the New York Jets, Buffalo Bills, Oakland Raiders and Miami Dolphins. All are certainly beatable, but Pittsburgh needs to get on the board.

“It takes one to even talk about the playoffs,” Clark said. “So we need to win (Sunday at the Jets) to get this record to 1-4. Then we come back and regroup and forget you won that game and win the next one.”

As Around the League’s Kevin Patra pointed out, the Steelers now have a 1.2% chance of making the playoffs because of their 0-4 start. Clark has no choice but to remain optimistic, although his thoughts would make more sense if Pittsburgh looked like a team that is much better than its 0-4 record indicates. It does not.

Ryan Clark is ‘disgusted with the NFL’ for looking into lower body hits

ryan-clarkThe NFL has spent the past several years trying to adjust the rules of the game in a manner that will protect players from head trauma. Concussions have become a major in the sport, and lawsuits from former players continue to pile up against the league. One report even claimed NFL commissioner Roger Goodell is “terrified” of the prospect of a player dying on the field.

But it’s not just head shots that have become a concern. Now that players are prohibited from targeting the head, serious knee injuries could become more common. Now, the NFL is reportedly planning to study hits to the knees to see if the rules need to be further tweaked, which has infuriated Pittsburgh Steelers safety Ryan Clark.

“I’m so disgusted with the NFL right now about those situations,” Clark said, via the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. “If an offensive player makes enough of a stink, they’ll change it. I know Tony Gonzalez was extremely upset about the hit on Dustin Keller. I understand that.”

Clark then referred to a play last season when he gave up a touchdown against the New York Giants and Victor Cruz because he was afraid of breaking the rules.

“So you go to the other extreme,” he said. “If they decide to change this rule, they might as well put flags on because you’ll give a guy who is 200 pounds, like myself, a 2-foot area to stop a guy who is 240 or 250 running at full speed. They might as well just take us off the field and see how many points you can score on offense in 60 minutes.”

Miami Dolphins tight end Dustin Keller is out for the season with a torn ACL after Houston Texans defensive back DJ Swearinger hit him low. Swearinger later claimed he went low to avoid breaking the rules, and Atlanta Falcons tight end Tony Gonzalez followed that up by saying he would rather be hit in his head than have defenders diving at his knees.

Anytime there is talk of a rule change, players are up in arms. Clark certainly isn’t the only person who would be outraged if the NFL made low hits illegal, but the league is trying to create the impression that player safety is its priority. If they stick to that theme, more changes are sure to come.

H/T Pro Football Talk

Ryan Clark: Patriots underestimate Wes Welker’s value, Danny Amendola is fragile

Ryan-Clark-Nobody-Wants-to-Go-to-DolphinsWes Welker played the role of safety valve to perfection for Tom Brady for six seasons. Any time the New England Patriots had to have a first down, Brady would always be looking to go to Welker. Now, the three-time Super Bowl champion will not have that option. Instead, he will have to rely on the newly-acquired Danny Amendola and his dynamic tight end duo of Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez.

Pittsburgh Steelers safety Ryan Clark wonders if the aforementioned players will be enough. During an appearance on “NFL Live” On Monday, Clark talked about Welker’s importance to the Patriots, which he thinks has been understated.

“I think what’s really underestimated is Wes Welker’s importance to not only the New England Patriots, but Tom Brady,” he said, via ESPNBoston.com’s Mike Reiss. “A lot of what they do is timing. A lot of what they do is option reads, when you’re working inside against that nickelback or against those linebackers. Losing him is huge.

“I know they think Danny Amendola can come in and have the same type of numbers he had with the Rams, but we also have to remember, he’s fragile. He’s not a guy who has completed a whole season, especially playing inside in what can be a physical AFC East. You also think about Gronkowski and the injury; that is going to be bigger than anything for the New England Patriots coming in this year.”

The Patriots were not as concerned about Amendola’s injury history because most of his injuries have been to the upper body, but Clark makes some valid points. The chemistry Brady and Welker developed isn’t going to be instantly replicated by Brady and Amendola. Gronkowski’s health is also a major concern. However, there wouldn’t have been much bulletin board material for Bill Belichick to use if Clark had stopped there. He didn’t.

“In 2010, we saw it start with the Jets in the playoffs,” he continued. “When Tom Brady gets pressure and when you’re man-to-man and bumping those guys and making it hard for him to throw, he sees ghosts. Even when guys aren’t around him, even when he’s not about to be sacked, when his clock goes off in his head that the ball should be out, we’ll see him duck, we’ll see him flinch. When you get Tom Brady doing that, the whole New England Patriots mystique goes away.”

Again, some valid points. But Brady will probably use those points as motivation before the Steelers play the Patriots on Nov. 3. Health will be a major concern for New England heading into the season, but the same can be said for a lot of teams. Is it possible that this guy could be the answer? No, I didn’t think so either.

Ryan Clark: I think referees have meetings about me before the game

Ryan Clark was flagged for a hit on a defenseless receiver during the Pittsburgh Steelers win over the New York Giants on Sunday after officials ruled he made helmet-to-helmet contact with Victor Cruz. Replays showed that Clark did not make contact with Cruz’s head and that it was a clean hit to the midsection, and the Giants later announced that Cruz suffered bruised ribs on the play.

The call occurred on third down and gave the Giants the ball at the 1-yard line, allowing them to score a touchdown. You could say the officiating crew simply missed the call and thought they saw something else, but Clark believes they are simply out to get him.

“I thought I did the right thing,” the Steelers safety said according to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. “I thought I hit him in the ribs. I tried to get my head to the side, tried to obey the rules as they’ve been laid out to me.

“I think referees have meetings about me before the game. I think anytime they see ’25’ flash and a hit be made, there’s going to be an opportunity for me to get a flag.”

It’s possible the referees keep a closer eye on a player like Clark because of his history of being flagged for illegal hits, but to say the officials are looking for an opportunity to flag him and discussing it before the game seems far-fetched. In Clark’s defense, the penalty he drew for his hit on Cruz was one of a number of bad calls that Pittsburgh had to overcome in New York. The Steelers have every right to be upset with Sunday’s crew.

H/T Game On!