Tag Archive | "NFL"

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Hall of Famer Rod Carew saved by late Ravens tight end

Posted on 14 April 2017 by Luke Jones

On the same weekend when many celebrate Easter, this story of death spawning new life couldn’t be more powerful.

Four days after former Ravens tight end Konrad Reuland died from a brain aneurysm on Dec. 12, his heart and kidney went to Baseball Hall of Famer Rod Carew, who was in desperate need of a transplant. Amazingly, the two had once met 18 years earlier when Reuland attended the same middle school as Carew’s children.

Even if you’re not a fan of the Ravens or baseball, take 15 minutes to read this story written by BaltimoreRavens.com.

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Former Ravens cornerback Powers announces retirement

Posted on 14 April 2017 by Luke Jones

With some teams having already begun their offseason workout programs, former Ravens cornerback Jerraud Powers has decided to walk away from the NFL.

The 29-year-old announced his retirement via his official Instagram account on Thursday night after an eight-year career that included stops in Indianapolis, Arizona, and Baltimore. Powers spent the 2016 season with the Ravens, collecting 33 tackles, two interceptions, five pass breakups, and one sack in 13 games.

“I think it’s time for me to walk away from the game,” Powers wrote. “The last eight years have been a joy and wonderful ride. Even though I can still compete and play at a high level, mentally, I’m ready for the next chapter of my life.”

Powers signed a one-year, $1.75 million contract prior to last season, but the 5-foot-10, 193-pound defensive back was not in the Ravens’ plans for 2017. With veteran Brandon Carr arriving from the Dallas Cowboys last month, second-year cornerback Tavon Young is expected to serve in the slot in the nickel package, which made Powers expendable.

A 2009 third-round from Auburn, Powers accumulated 13 interceptions in his career.

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Webb re-signing can offer more than depth to Ravens defense

Posted on 12 April 2017 by Luke Jones

The re-signing of veteran Lardarius Webb should be about more than just depth for the Ravens.

Yes, the 31-year-old is a good insurance policy behind starters Eric Weddle and Tony Jefferson, but his play in his first year as a safety in 2016 was more than respectable, ranking 15th among qualified safeties by Pro Football Focus and 10th among free safeties in Bleacher Report’s NFL1000 system. Relegating him to a strict backup role and special teams would seem to be a waste of his talents, especially for a versatile player who received a three-year deal for a reported maximum value of $10.5 million.

How then might defensive coordinator Dean Pees use Webb in the Baltimore defense?

Though the former starting cornerback can no longer play an outside spot in anything but an emergency situation, his coverage skills and tackling ability still make him a decent option for the inside nickel spot. The problem is that you wouldn’t want Webb playing in place of 2016 fourth-round pick Tavon Young, who was one of the great successes of last season. It remains to be seen whether the 5-foot-9 Young can thrive as an every-down corner lining up on the outside in the base defense — a major reason why the Ravens signed veteran Brandon Carr last month — but the second-year corner showed impressive ball skills and should be a mainstay in the nickel package at the very least.

Might a little more creativity be in the works with the secondary?

It’s no secret that the Ravens value Jefferson a great deal, evident by the four-year, $34 million contract they awarded him at the start of free agency. The former Arizona Cardinal’s greatest strengths are playing the run and clamping down on opposing tight ends, which are certainly useful skills but not reminiscent of a deep center-field safety like Ed Reed. Frankly, it’s a steep financial commitment to make if the Ravens are only going to use Jefferson in a standard safety role, making you think there’s more to it.

Baltimore is in need of a three-down linebacker to fill the void left by the retired Zach Orr. Perhaps 2016 second-round pick Kamalei Correa will be ready to assume that job, but it’s easier to find a capable two-down inside linebacker than it is to find the kind of talent who can consistently hold up in pass coverage. That’s where the arrival of Jefferson and the return of Webb could come into play.

Despite rarely ever using the dime package — which consists of six defensive backs and usually one linebacker — in Pees’ five-year tenure as the defensive coordinator, the Ravens practiced it extensively in the spring and summer of 2016 before it disappeared in the regular season. Reserve defensive back and special-teams standout Anthony Levine saw the most practice time at the dime spot last year, but he saw only 109 defensive snaps last season.

Jefferson would appear to be a good fit to serve in a hybrid linebacker-safety role next to C.J. Mosley in many passing situations. It’s obvious that the Ravens have made it a priority to improve their pass defense this offseason, but Jefferson also tackles like a linebacker, which would diminish the chances of the run defense being too vulnerable in a dime look. His strength is playing closer to the line of scrimmage, and the presence of Webb at safety next to Weddle in the sub package would allow Pees to be more aggressive with Jefferson in the box and to match him up with tight ends.

Such an alignment would not only better showcase the 25-year-old safety’s skills, but it would put less pressure on Orr’s replacement in 2017. The dime would make Webb’s re-signing more impactful than simply improving conventional depth in the secondary.

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Ravens unveil 2017 slate of preseason games

Posted on 10 April 2017 by Luke Jones

While fans wait for the 2017 regular-season schedule to be released later this month, the Ravens unveiled their preseason slate that begins with a home contest against Washington on Aug. 10.

The Ravens and the Redskins will meet for the 10th time in the all-time preseason series with Baltimore holding a 6-3 edge with its NFL neighbor. The teams last met at M&T Bank Stadium in the 2016 regular season with Washington coming away with a 16-10 victory.

The second week of the preseason involves a trip to Miami against the Dolphins for the first preseason meeting between these AFC teams. It’s worth noting that the Ravens will host the Dolphins in the regular season, which makes for a mildly interesting scheduling quirk. However, this isn’t the first time such a thing has happened as the Ravens played New Orleans in both the 2014 preseason and regular season.

John Harbaugh’s team will welcome Buffalo to town for the third preseason game, which has long been considered the dress rehearsal for the regular season and the best entertainment value of the four summer contests.

Ravens season-ticket holders frustrated over the cost and quality of preseason games over the years will again take some satisfaction in knowing that the preseason finale — which typically involves very few starters and is considered virtually unwatchable by some fans — will be played on the road for the ninth straight year. The Ravens travel to New Orleans to meet the Saints, marking the fourth straight year these teams have met in the preseason.

The Ravens are 51-32 in their preseason history and 24-12 in the preseason under Harbaugh.

Final dates and times will be announced at a later time.

2017 Ravens preseason schedule
Week 1: Thursday, Aug. 10 vs. Washington
Week 2: Friday or Saturday, Aug. 18 or 19 at Miami
Week 3: Friday or Saturday, Aug. 25 or 26 vs. Buffalo
Week 4: Thursday, Aug. 31 at New Orleans

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Ravens, safety Lardarius Webb agree to three-year deal

Posted on 09 April 2017 by Luke Jones

Ravens general manager Ozzie Newsome often likes to say that the door remains open for a reunion when he releases an accomplished veteran, and safety Lardarius Webb has decided to come back home.

The sides have agreed to a three-year deal less than a month after Webb was released to clear salary cap space. According to The Sun, the contract holds a maximum value of $10.5 million.

Webb is not expected to return to a starting role in his ninth season after the Ravens made former Arizona Cardinal Tony Jefferson one of the highest-paid safeties in the NFL last month, but the 31-year-old will serve as valuable depth and could serve as a key contributor in sub packages. Webb, a 2009 third-round pick, was the fifth-longest tenured player on the roster last season and has repeatedly expressed a desire to play his entire career in Baltimore, something he will now have a chance to do.

In his first full season at safety in 2016, Webb started all 16 games and finished with 73 tackles, one interception, and five pass breakups. He has 13 interceptions for his career.

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Wide receiver Campanaro agrees to one-year deal with Ravens

Posted on 06 April 2017 by Luke Jones

The Ravens have agreed to a one-year contract with wide receiver Michael Campanaro.

The 2014 seventh-round pick and River Hill grad was a restricted free agent and had received an original-round tender worth $1.79 million last month. However, his new agreement lowers his base salary and cap number for the 2017 season and is worth a maximum of $2 million, according to The Sun.

Campanaro has been plagued by injuries throughout his career, appearing in just 11 games over three seasons. However, he became Baltimore’s primary punt returner after the release of veteran Devin Hester last December and also carried the ball three times for 72 yards in three games.

With Steve Smith having retired and Kamar Aiken now with Indianapolis, the 5-foot-9 Campanaro could be in line for a bigger role on offense in 2017. He has 12 receptions for 137 yards and a touchdown in his NFL career.

In other wide receiver news, former Raven Anquan Boldin reconfirmed at his charity golf event in Florida that he intends to play in 2017 and will wait to sign with a team until closer to training camp. Asked about a possible reunion with Boldin last month, head coach John Harbaugh expressed interest in having him back, but the Ravens would likely prefer to wait to sign any other unrestricted free agents until next month when the compensatory pick formula is no longer impacted.

Boldin’s 2016 team, the Detroit Lions, have also expressed interest in re-signing him.

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Newsome says “high probability” of Ravens adding free agent before draft

Posted on 05 April 2017 by Luke Jones

OWINGS MILLS, Md. — While discussing the many prospects available in this month’s draft, general manager Ozzie Newsome hinted that the Ravens could be adding another veteran in the near future.

The longtime executive said during Baltimore’s pre-draft press conference that the organization could add another free agent before the NFL draft, which is set to begin on April 27. The comments came as former New York Jet Nick Mangold was visiting with the Ravens, leading many to speculate that Newsome was referring to the seven-time Pro Bowl center.

“We’re working,” said Newsome about adding to his free-agent class that already includes safety Tony Jefferson, cornerback Brandon Carr, and running back Danny Woodhead. “We’re working, and I could say there is a high probability of that, yes.”

According to The Sun, Mangold left town without the sides agreeing to a deal on Wednesday, but there has been little reported interest from other teams trying to sign the 33-year-old. An ankle injury limited the 6-foot-4, 307-pound lineman to eight games in 2016, but Mangold had been incredibly durable in his career prior to that, missing a total of just four contests in his first 10 seasons.

The Ravens have a clear need at the center position after trading former starter Jeremy Zuttah to San Francisco last month. Head coach John Harbaugh has identified John Urschel, Ryan Jensen, and possibly even starting left guard Alex Lewis as candidates to take Zuttah’s place, but the Ravens have usually preferred having an established veteran at the position.

The top center prospects in this year’s draft include Ohio State’s Pat Elflein and LSU’s Ethan Pocic, but director of college scouting Joe Hortiz acknowledges the challenge of finding a rookie center who can immediately step into a starting role and have the confidence to make protection calls at the line of scrimmage.

“We have done a good job of sending our coaches out to work the guys out, put them through situations where they are going to have to make a call, make an adjustment, [and] get some other bodies out there for the guy to have a look,” Hortiz said. “Obviously, snapping is key, both from under center and then shotgun snaps. Especially as the league is spreading out, we are playing more gun snaps, so that is very important.

“You just look at a guy’s intelligence, his ability to assess things, adjust things, communicate along the line of scrimmage. You can find out about some of that in the fall even if he is not playing center, but I think putting him through workouts and spending time with the individual really helps.”

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Ravens trade defensive lineman Jernigan to Philadelphia

Posted on 04 April 2017 by Luke Jones

The Ravens have traded starting defensive lineman Timmy Jernigan to Philadelphia in a swap of third-round picks in the 2017 draft.

Baltimore sends the 24-year-old and the 99th overall pick in the 2017 draft — a compensatory selection — to Philadelphia for the 74th selection in this month’s draft. The move comes just a week after head coach John Harbaugh didn’t refute a report that Jernigan had been the subject of trade discussions last month.

Despite the likelihood of Jernigan departing via free agency next year after nose tackle Brandon Williams was signed to a long-term extension, the Ravens will still part with a year of his production to be able to move up 25 spots in the third round. According to the draft trade chart often cited as the framework for many draft deals, the difference between the 74th pick and the 99th pick is worth 116 points, which is worth the equivalent of the 96th overall pick in the draft. In other words, instead of betting on Jernigan being motivated to have a monster 2017 season in a contract year — and then netting an attractive compensatory pick in 2019 — the Ravens immediately come away with value comparable to a late third- or early fourth-round pick.

Jernigan recorded a career-high five sacks in 2016, but his play declined in the second half of the season as he managed just one sack over the final nine contests and had one tackle over the final four games combined. He had been regarded as the Ravens’ best interior pass rusher over the last two seasons.

“Timmy has been a terrific player for us for three seasons,” general manager Ozzie Newsome said in an official statement. “This will allow our young group of defensive linemen an opportunity to compete and play.”

That young group includes Michael Pierce, 2015 third-round pick Carl Davis, 2016 third-round choice Bronson Kaufusi, and 2016 fourth-round selection Willie Henry. The surprising Pierce took away some of Jernigan’s snaps as last season progressed, but none of the latter three appeared in a game last season due to injuries.

Jernigan becomes the second starting defensive lineman to depart this offseason after 5-technique defensive end Lawrence Guy signed with the New England Patriots last month. The 2014 second-round pick from Florida State collected a total of 13 sacks in 43 career games with the Ravens.

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Dates set for Ravens’ 2017 offseason workout program

Posted on 03 April 2017 by Luke Jones

The Ravens will formally return to work later this month to ramp up preparations for the 2017 season.

The first phase of the nine-week workout program begins on April 17 and is limited to two weeks of conditioning and strength training as well as physical rehabilitation. Many notable players and young players alike have been present for the first day in past offseasons, but all of these workouts are officially considered voluntary.

The next phase of the offseason schedule occurs over the next three weeks. On-field workouts that include individual player instruction and drills as well as team practices conducted on a “separate” basis are permitted, but no live contact or team offense against team defense drills can be conducted.

The final phase of the offseason program covers the next four weeks. During this period, teams may conduct a total of 10 days of organized team practice activity, or OTAs. No live contact is permitted, but 7-on-7, 9-on-7, and 11-on-11 drills are allowed.

Though these workouts are considered voluntary by definition, most players are expected attend regularly. The NFL’s collective bargaining agreement allows for a mandatory three-day minicamp for veteran players, which may occur during the third phase of the offseason.

Each club may also conduct a rookie football development program for a period of seven weeks, which may begin on May 15. During this period, no activities may be held on weekends except one post-draft rookie minicamp, which can be conducted on either the first or second weekend following the draft.

Below is the Ravens’ 2017 offseason training program schedule that was released Thursday by the NFL:

First Day: April 17
OTA Offseason Workouts: May 23-25, May 30-June 1, June 5-6, June 8-9
Mandatory Minicamp: June 13-15

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Harbaugh speaks on Jernigan, Boldin, Yanda, Mosley

Posted on 28 March 2017 by Luke Jones

Ravens head coach John Harbaugh discussed an array of topics at the league meetings in Phoenix on Tuesday morning, but one of the most interesting was the status of Timmy Jernigan.

Asked about former NFL executive Michael Lombardi’s recent revelation that Baltimore was considering trading the defensive tackle, Harbaugh didn’t dismiss the report, but he didn’t make it sound as though the organization was actively pursuing a deal, either.

“Everybody’s up for trade. I’m sure that if the Ravens got enough, they’d trade me in a second,” said Harbaugh as he laughed. “It might not take much right now if people are looking. That’s just part of the conversation in the NFL.”

With the Ravens re-signing nose tackle Brandon Williams to a five-year, $52.5 million contract earlier this month, the chances of Jernigan receiving a contract extension appear remote despite the 2014 second-round selection being the top interior pass rusher on the current roster. The Florida State product registered a career-high five sacks in 2016, but his production faded in the second half of the season as he managed just one sack over the final nine games and had only one tackle over the final four contests combined.

A player of Jernigan’s caliber signing elsewhere as an unrestricted free agent would likely fetch the Ravens a solid compensatory pick, so the argument could be made that general manager Ozzie Newsome could pull the trigger on a deal to receive a draft choice sooner. However, Baltimore is already trying to improve its pass rush this offseason and would be losing a valuable year of production from a player its already developed over the last three seasons, meaning the asking price wouldn’t exactly be cheap.

“Timmy’s going to have the best year of his career without question,” Harbaugh said. “I’m sure he’s training hard. I know how passionate is. He wants to be a great player. Trade talks always go on. People are interested in Timmy because I’m sure they feel like with our defensive line situation that we have a lot of good players and he might be available. People are going to ask about him.”

Boldin reunion

The Ravens are still trying to fill a significant hole at wide receiver, which has led many outsiders to ask about the possibility of bringing back veteran Anquan Boldin, who is an unrestricted free agent.

Of course, Newsome traded Boldin to San Francisco in exchange for a seventh-round pick just weeks after Super Bowl XLVII, a move for which the Ravens have been criticized ever since. Harbaugh said he would be interested in the 36-year-old’s return to Baltimore, but he didn’t make it sound as though it was something the organization has explored in depth.

“That’s up to Ozzie. That’s up to all of us,” Harbaugh said. “But, in the final accounting, I think we have to see what all the options are. And I don’t even know if Anquan wants to come back. That would be another thing we’d have to look into.”

Boldin spent the 2016 season with the Detroit Lions, playing in all 16 games and catching 67 passes for 584 yards. His eight touchdown receptions were the most he’s collected since 2008, but he averaged a career-worst 8.7 yards per reception. That’s a concerning statistic when you remember how badly the Ravens’ passing game struggled to push the ball down the field last season.

His yards per reception average has declined every year since 2011.

“I do believe he can still play at the highest level,” Harbaugh said. “I think his ability and skills are such that he’s not going to drop off the edge just because of how he plays. I know he loved it in Baltimore, and I loved him in Baltimore. I didn’t want him to have to leave when it happened. That’s just the way things worked out, but I’d be for [a reunion].”

Shoulder surgery for Yanda

Harbaugh confirmed that six-time Pro Bowl guard Marshal Yanda did undergo left shoulder surgery this offseason, but it is not expected to affect his status for the start of the 2017 regular season.

The injury forced Yanda to switch from right guard to the left side to be able to play through the pain. His ability to continue performing at a high level despite the in-season switch was a testament to a man who has quietly become one of the best players in franchise history.

“He’ll be ready for training camp 100 percent,” Harbaugh said. “I saw him. He’s lifting. He looks good. We’ll keep him out of [organized team activities] and minicamp.”

Yanda’s absence means the Ravens will be working with three new players on the first-team offensive line during spring workouts with left tackle Ronnie Stanley and left guard Alex Lewis being the only holdovers from 2016. Baltimore is currently looking for replacements for Rick Wagner at right tackle and Jeremy Zuttah at center.

Mosley option for 2018

Harbaugh confirmed that the Ravens’ decision whether to exercise their 2018 contract option on two-time Pro Bowl inside linebacker C.J. Mosley is merely a “formality” this spring.

“I’m sure that we’ll pick up his option,” Harbaugh said. “I expect C.J. Mosley to be a Raven for many, many, many years.”

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