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Free-agent receiver Maclin leaves Ravens facility without deal

Posted on 08 June 2017 by Luke Jones

OWINGS MILLS, Md. — Free-agent wide receiver Jeremy Maclin left the Ravens’ training facility without signing a contract Thursday afternoon.

Head coach John Harbaugh said the Ravens had “a great visit” with Maclin, who also met extensively with the Buffalo Bills earlier in the week. Despite famously reaching agreements with past free-agent receivers such as Steve Smith and Mike Wallace before they left the building, Baltimore had no such luck with Maclin, who will continue to weigh his options.

“We didn’t press him to stay. You give us way too much credit on that,” said Harbaugh as he laughed. “I think talking to his wife is really important. He has a wedding this weekend, so he wants a little more time to make his decision. The main thing is you want guys to be happy. If they come here or wherever they go, you want them to look back and say, ‘Hey, I made the best decision of my life to do that.’ Well, he just got married, so second-best decision of his life. And that’s what we’re hoping for if he decides to come here.”

According to Harbaugh, Maclin had dinner with wide receivers coach Bobby Engram Wednesday evening before meeting up with several Ravens players to watch Game 3 of the NBA Finals. The retired Smith was in Owings Mills Thursday doing work for NFL Network and posted a picture of himself with Maclin outside the team cafeteria Thursday morning.

With Smith, fellow wide receiver Kamar Aiken, fullback Kyle Juszczyk, and the recently-released tight end Dennis Pitta no longer on the roster, the Ravens are trying to replace roughly half of their receiving production in the passing game from a season ago. Maclin is coming off an injury-plagued 2016 campaign that brought only 44 receptions for 536 yards and two touchdowns in 12 games, but he registered back-to-back 1,000-yard seasons in 2014 and 2015.

General manager Ozzie Newsome has spoken about adding more of an intermediate receiver to go along with Wallace and 2015 first-round pick Breshad Perriman since the start of the offseason, but the Ravens have yet to add a veteran in free agency and did not draft a wideout in April.

“It was great the way it worked out, so he had a chance to get to know the players, which is one of the big factors, certainly,” said Harbaugh of Maclin being in the building Thursday before the Ravens conducted a voluntary workout. “He was in here all morning into the early afternoon getting to know us and us getting to know him.”

With Maclin mulling offers, the Ravens could shift their focus toward New York Jets wide receiver Eric Decker, who is expected to be released or traded in the coming days. The 30-year-old missed all but three games last year with shoulder and hip injuries, but he has posted three 1,000-yard receiving seasons in his career.

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Ravens release Pitta with injury waiver, ending seven-year run

Posted on 07 June 2017 by Luke Jones

The Dennis Pitta era has officially come to a sad end with the Ravens releasing the veteran tight end with an injury waiver on Wednesday.

The 31-year-old dislocated his right hip for the third time in a four-year period during last Friday’s voluntary organized team activity, leaving his career in grave jeopardy after he had worked for nearly two full years to return to action in 2016. Pitta’s release was not a shock as he had signed an injury waiver, which absolved the Ravens of any financial responsibility in the event of a re-injury to his hip.

His release saves the organization $2.5 million in salary cap space minus the cap figure of the player replacing him in the “rule of 51” rankings. The Ravens could have elected to wait for Pitta to officially announce his retirement, but it’s apparent that they wanted to create the additional cap space with their reported interest in recently-available veteran wide receivers Jeremy Maclin and Eric Decker.

A fourth-round selection out of Brigham Young in the 2010 draft, Pitta finishes his time in Baltimore ranked fifth on the Ravens’ career receptions list (224), 12th in receiving yards (2,098), and 11th in touchdown receptions (13). Those numbers would have been even higher on the all-time franchise list had he not missed nearly three full seasons because of injuries. Pitta’s best work came in 2012 when he caught seven touchdowns during the regular season and added three more in the Ravens’ postseason run that culminated with a victory in Super Bowl XLVII.

Despite most expecting his career to be over after his second hip injury in 2014, Pitta surprisingly returned to action last year to lead all NFL tight ends with 86 catches and caught his first two touchdowns since the 2013 season.

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Ravens to hold three open practices for fans this summer

Posted on 06 June 2017 by WNST Staff

PRESS RELEASE

With their 2017 Training Camp Stadium Series, the Baltimore Ravens will hold three practices that are free and open to the public. Two of these events will take place at M&T Bank Stadium, while the other will occur at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium in Annapolis, Md.

The first M&T Bank Stadium practice falls on Sunday, July 30 at 6 p.m. This session showcases the organization’s fourth-annual Fireworks Night, an event highlighted by interactive fan experiences, post-practice autographs for children and a fireworks/laser show. Additionally, the Ravens will unveil their new 4k ultra-high definition RavensVision video boards and other stadium enhancements that are being completed during the offseason.

On Aug. 5 at 6 p.m., the team returns to practice in Annapolis for the first time since 2014 and fourth occasion overall. This practice will feature the Ravens’ annual Military Appreciation Day, when approximately 3,500 special seats will be reserved for active service members and veterans. Immediate family members of the servicemen and servicewomen are also welcome to join, with all preferred seating coming on a first-come, first-served basis. Additionally, those who show a valid military I.D. will be given a special edition, military-themed Ravens gift.

On Saturday, Aug. 12 at 10 a.m., the Ravens will host a second M&T Bank Stadium practice that will again feature interactive fan events, including fun-filled activities designed specifically for younger fans, giveaways, cheerleader/mascot meet-and-greets and a limited post-practice autograph session.

More information regarding unique fan engagements for each stadium practice, in addition to parking logistics and gate opening times, will be shared in the coming weeks. Fans can also visit:

http://www.baltimoreravens.com/ravensflock/training-camp/index.html.

RAVENS TRAINING CAMP STADIUM SERIES PRACTICES – FREE & OPEN TO THE PUBLIC

Sunday, July 30:

Practice at M&T Bank Stadium & Fireworks Night6 p.m.

Saturday, Aug. 5:

Practice at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium and Military Appreciation Day (Annapolis, MD) – 6 p.m.

Saturday, Aug. 12:

Practice at M&T Bank Stadium – 10 a.m.

Practices at the Under Armour Performance Center: Due to renovations and construction at the Under Armour Performance Center, the Ravens are unable to accommodate fans as they have done in years past for training camp practices. (The team will, however, continue to invite community groups to practice during camp in 2017.)

Beginning in 2018, once the new facility upgrades are complete, the Ravens will once again host fans for training camp practices at the Under Armour Performance Center. With the addition of increased parking and other improvements, the practice viewing capacity will increase, and even more people will be able to attend training camp.

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Maclin reportedly to visit Ravens on Wednesday

Posted on 06 June 2017 by Luke Jones

The Ravens hope to meet with free-agent wide receiver Jeremy Maclin, but that could depend on whether the veteran strikes a deal with Buffalo on Tuesday.

According to ESPN’s Adam Schefter, Maclin was visiting with the Bills a day before he was scheduled to meet with the Ravens in Owings Mills. Bills running back LeSean McCoy, Maclin’s former teammate in Philadelphia, has made no secret about his heavy recruitment of the 29-year-old wideout, who was cut by the Kansas City Chiefs in a cap-saving maneuver last Friday.

The 6-foot, 198-pound Maclin is coming off a down season in which he battled injuries to catch a career-low 44 passes for 536 yards and two touchdowns in 12 games, but he registered back-to-back 1,000-yard campaigns prior to that. With other teams interested in Maclin, cost could be a substantial obstacle for the Ravens, who currently rank near the bottom of the NFL in salary-cap space for the 2017 season.

There’s little disputing that Maclin would be a great fit for a Ravens passing game that’s lost wide receivers Steve Smith and Kamar Aiken as well as tight end Dennis Pitta, who sadly re-injured his right hip last week. The 2009 first-round pick was known primarily for his deep-threat ability early in his career, but his route-running prowess and ability to work from the slot are skills that would work well with the outside speed of veteran Mike Wallace and 2015 first-round pick Breshad Perriman.

Maclin is familiar with Ravens offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg, who served in the same capacity with the Eagles over the receiver’s first four seasons from 2009-12.

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Ravens sign veteran cornerback Boykin, cut injured Arrington

Posted on 05 June 2017 by Luke Jones

The Ravens didn’t wait long to address their depth at slot cornerback following the season-ending knee injury to Tavon Young last week.

Veteran Brandon Boykin agreed to a deal with Baltimore on Monday. The 26-year-old missed the entire 2016 season after suffering a pectoral injury early in training camp and is now with his fifth team in the last two calendar years, but he was regarded as one of the better slot corners in the NFL only a couple years ago.

The Ravens also announced the release of injured veteran cornerback Kyle Arrington and the signing of young cornerback Al-Hajj Shabazz. Arrington’s contract was terminated with a failed physical designation as he continues to recover from a concussion last August that landed him on injured reserve. The 30-year-old appeared in 15 games for Baltimore in 2015 after spending the previous six seasons with New England.

With Young suffering a torn ACL in last Thursday’s voluntary workout, the Ravens suddenly found their depth at the inside corner position dangerously thin as 2016 sixth-round pick Maurice Canady was working with the first-team defense after Young was helped off the field. General manager Ozzie Newsome signed veteran Brandon Carr and drafted Alabama’s Marlon Humphrey in the first round of the draft this offseason, but both are outside cornerbacks.

A fourth-round pick out of Georgia in 2012, Boykin performed well in the nickel package for Philadelphia in his first three seasons before being traded to the Pittsburgh Steelers in 2015. After a brief time with Carolina last spring, Boykin signed with Chicago last July and was injured several days later.

The 5-foot-10, 182-pound cornerback did not miss a game over his first four seasons, collecting eight interceptions and 145 tackles. He will now compete with the likes of Canady and veteran safety Lardarius Webb for playing time in the nickel package.

Shabazz, 24, was signed as an undrafted rookie free agent by Indianapolis in 2015 and appeared in eight games with Pittsburgh and Houston last year.

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Pain of latest Pitta injury goes beyond Ravens, football

Posted on 02 June 2017 by Luke Jones

There will be plenty of time to discuss what tight end Dennis Pitta’s latest re-injury of his right hip will mean for the Ravens and an offense that’s already sustained much loss with few additions this offseason.

We know the NFL is a business and injuries occur all the time. In fact, we’re reminded so frequently of that reality that we forget these are human beings with families and everyday problems that don’t vanish simply because they are able to play football at an all-world level and are compensated so well for it.

Dennis Pitta is a good man with a wonderful family. It’s sad to see them go through such an agonizing process again.

Yes, he knew the risk he was taking playing again after he injured his hip for the second time almost three years ago in Cleveland and so many said he should have retired then. He acknowledged over the last couple years that his wife and mother weren’t crazy about his latest comeback, but Pitta wanted to play again and cited a feeling of having let the Ravens down by appearing in only three games over the first two seasons of a five-year contract signed in 2014 that guaranteed him $16 million. That’s one reason why he accepted pay cuts in each of the last two seasons — yes, the Ravens had plenty of leverage, too — and signed injury waivers that would protect the organization from a financial standpoint.

He wasn’t doing all of this for free, of course, but few would have faulted Pitta for retiring after the first catastrophic hip injury occurred on July 27, 2013. And virtually no one expected him to play again when he was carted off the field in Cleveland on Sept. 21, 2014, but he eventually defied the odds after missing nearly two full seasons of action.

Before focusing on his replacements and salary-cap ramifications, we should admire a man who didn’t want his final play in the NFL to be one in which he collapsed to the ground and had to be carted off the field. He was able to achieve that goal last season after an incredible amount of work most of us never saw.

It had been such a feel-good comeback story in 2016 as Pitta was the only Ravens tight end to play in all 16 games, leading all NFL players at his position with 86 receptions and catching his first touchdowns in three years. Pitta said only last week how refreshing it was to not be answering questions about his hip anymore and how he appreciated just being able to go through a normal offseason for the first time in a few years.

And now this.

Of course, life will go on for the Ravens as they’ll enter their final week of organized team activities next week and we’ll focus on the deep inventory of tight ends remaining on the 2017 roster. But the 31-year-old has the rest of his life ahead of him and now faces another long recovery and rehabilitation. Pitta has said in the past that he would likely need a hip replacement after his career ended, so we don’t know for sure what this latest injury means in that context.

In our efforts to immediately remind ourselves that it’s a business before talking about salary-cap ramifications and the next man up, let’s recognize the man’s principles and efforts to do everything he could to contribute to the Ravens over the last several years despite his body not cooperating.

Pitta still deserves to have the official final say about his future, but we can only wish him and his family the best with whatever comes next and he’ll certainly be missed in the Baltimore locker room.

We should only hope to see a man in his early 30s be able to run around with his kids and play golf and be healthy in his everyday life moving forward. Pitta has provided more than enough memories on the football field for the Ravens and their fans.

The show will go on, but it’s sad to see such an uplifting comeback take another heartbreaking twist.

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Notes and observations from Ravens’ second week of OTAs

Posted on 02 June 2017 by Luke Jones

Ravens cornerback Tavon Young’s torn ACL Thursday was the latest reminder that the only substantial news to come from spring workouts is typically negative in nature.

Sure, many have gushed about how third-year wide receiver Breshad Perriman has looked this spring, but the significance of Young’s injury outweighs anything else happening on the field as players practice in helmets, jerseys, and shorts. Injuries can occur whether a player is participating in voluntary organized team activities or working out on his own, but you hate seeing an important member of the defense lost for the season several weeks before training camp even begins.

The silver lining is that this unfortunate development comes more than three months before the start of the regular season, giving the Ravens ample time to evaluate and figure out what they want to do at the nickel spot. Veteran Brandon Carr and first-round pick Marlon Humphrey are outside corners and wouldn’t appear to be suited to play inside, but defensive coordinator Dean Pees and secondary coach Chris Hewitt have time to experiment with different alignments and evaluate young options like Maurice Canady, who had three interceptions in Thursday’s practice and showed some swagger playing with the first-team nickel defense after Young was helped off the field.

At 6-foot-1 and 193 pounds, Canady doesn’t look the part of a traditional slot corner, but his size would be useful inside if he can show the necessary footwork and quickness to stick with shiftier receivers. Of course, reserve safety and onetime cornerback Lardarius Webb may also fit into the nickel picture, but you’d like to be able to use him in deep center field if the Ravens have visions of being creative with new safety Tony Jefferson and using the dime package more often.

** Young wasn’t the only Ravens player to go down with an injury recently as wide receiver Michael Campanaro and defensive tackle Carl Davis were missing from Thursday’s practice.

According to head coach John Harbaugh, Campanaro will be out for “a little while” with a sprained toe. Harbaugh said that it wasn’t serious, but toe ailments are tricky for any player, let alone a slot receiver who relies on his sudden change of direction. It’s unfortunately the latest ailment for a talented player who has never been able to stay on the field for an extended period of time.

Davis, who lined up as the 3-technique defensive tackle with the starting defense last week, is dealing with a strained pectoral muscle, but Harbaugh said he will return to practice soon. In his absence, Michael Pierce was lining up at the nose with Brandon Williams moving to the 3-technique spot.

Cornerback Sheldon Price was helped inside after bumping his head during practice and was being evaluated for a concussion.

Others not participating in Thursday’s OTA included Webb, cornerbacks Kyle Arrington (concussion) and Carlos Davis (lower leg), linebackers Terrell Suggs and C.J. Mosley (offseason shoulder surgery), offensive linemen Marshal Yanda (offseason shoulder surgery) and Jarell Broxton, and tight ends Benjamin Watson (Achilles tendon), Max Williams (knee), and Darren Waller. Continuing to be held out of voluntary workouts, Suggs was once again in the building and has been a consistent presence in Owings Mills this spring.

** The starting offensive line displayed a new wrinkle as John Urschel worked at center and Ryan Jensen played right guard after their positions were flipped last week.

“Both of those guys are taking reps at center,” said Harbaugh, who noted that 2016 practice-squad member Matt Skura is also in the mix. “They are both going to have to play center and guard. Most of those guys inside do play all three positions. Marshal plays center. I do not know if you knew that, but he is kind of an emergency center.”

** It’s interesting to note that quarterback Joe Flacco hasn’t been wearing his left knee brace in the two OTA workouts open to media after saying earlier this spring that he would continue wearing one. It may just be because these are non-contact workouts — though it’s not uncommon for an overzealous young lineman to forget that from time to time — but Flacco wore the brace for every practice that wasn’t a walk-through last season.

Thursday wasn’t the best day for the veteran signal-caller as he threw multiple interceptions. One did come on a pass bouncing off the hands of second-year wideout Chris Moore.

** Veteran running back Danny Woodhead had a good day as a receiver out of the backfield, making an impressive one-handed catch and showing good agility. The early reviews have been positive for a 32-year-old coming off a major knee injury, but durability will be a question as he’s played in just 21 games over the last three seasons.

** Lorenzo Taliaferro appears to be working exclusively as a fullback, which should help his cause to make the 53-man roster with so many tailbacks ahead of him on the depth chart. He and undrafted rookie fullback Ricky Ortiz worked off to the side from the running backs in individual drills Thursday.

** Perriman offered Humphrey a reminder of the speed he’ll see at the next level, beating the rookie cornerback inside on a slant for a short completion and blowing past the rest of the defense for a long touchdown.

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Ravens lose cornerback Tavon Young to torn ACL

Posted on 01 June 2017 by Luke Jones

OWINGS MILLS, Md. — Training camp is still several weeks away, but the Ravens have already suffered their first significant injury of 2017.

Second-year cornerback Tavon Young suffered a season-ending knee injury in Thursday’s voluntary organized team activity. Head coach John Harbaugh did not know the extent of the damage immediately following practice, but the Ravens announced Thursday evening that Young had sustained a torn ACL.

The Temple product made an acrobatic interception during a drill and appeared to hurt his knee as he got up to run and made minimal contact with another player, collapsing to the ground and fumbling the ball in the process. Young put very little weight on his knee as he was helped off the field and taken inside.

The 2016 fourth-round pick was expected to serve as Baltimore’s slot corner in the nickel package after showing an impressive nose for the football and emerging as a starter as a rookie. General manager Ozzie Newsome bolstered the roster’s cornerback depth by signing free-agent veteran Brandon Carr and selecting Alabama’s Marlon Humphrey in the first round of the 2017 draft, but both are outside cornerbacks and not suited to play inside.

“As Ozzie says all the time, you need to build as much depth into your roster as you can,” Harbaugh said, “because injuries are going to happen.”

After Young was helped off the field midway through Thursday’s workout, second-year cornerback Maurice Canady played the nickel with the first-team defense and intercepted three passes. The 2016 sixth-round pick out of Virginia is viewed favorably by the organization, but he didn’t play a single defensive snap as a rookie and appeared in only four games before being placed on injured reserve with a hamstring injury.

Even practicing in shorts on Thursday, Canady clearly made an impression with coaches, teammates, and media in attendance.

“He has slimmed up a little bit, but he has strengthened at the same time,” said Harbaugh of the 6-foot-1, 193-pound defensive back. “I just think he is moving really well, and he has a knack for the game. He has to prove it in games, but he is going to get a chance to do that, because he is earning that opportunity right now.”

Reserve safety Lardarius Webb could also be a factor as a slot cornerback despite moving from cornerback to safety late in the 2015 season. The 31-year-old was a longtime starter at cornerback and frequently move inside in the nickel package over the years.

Veteran Kyle Arrington also remains on the 90-man roster for now, but he has not returned to the field since sustaining a concussion last summer and is expected by many to eventually be released.

Despite a slight 5-foot-9, 177-pound frame, Young played in all 16 contests (11 starts) in 2016 and collected 53 tackles, two interceptions, and eight pass breakups. Pro Football Focus graded him as the 26th-best cornerback in the NFL last season while Bleacher Report’s NFL1000 project ranked him 72nd among corners.

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Ravens linebacker Mosley working his way back from shoulder surgery

Posted on 25 May 2017 by Luke Jones

OWINGS MILLS, Md. — The Ravens concluded their first week of organized team activities with a workout in which 80 of the 89 players on their current offseason roster were participating.

One of the lone surprises among the absentees was two-time Pro Bowl inside linebacker C.J. Mosley, who underwent an offseason shoulder surgery that hadn’t previously been reported.

“C.J. is doing all the conditioning, and he has been at all the walk-throughs and all the meetings,” head coach John Harbaugh said. “He had the shoulder surgery, so he is out.”

The Ravens exercised their fifth-year option on the 2014 first-round pick last month, which keeps him under contract through the 2018 season. Despite dealing with hamstring and calf injuries in 2016, Mosley was named to his second Pro Bowl, collecting 92 tackles and four interceptions in 14 games.

Mosley isn’t the only veteran player recovering from offseason shoulder surgery as six-time Pro Bowl right guard Marshal Yanda isn’t expected to return to the practice field until training camp. He played with the injury most of last season and even switched to left guard as a result.

Harbaugh said 15th-year outside linebacker Terrell Suggs has been taking part in offseason workouts, but the Ravens have elected to keep him out of OTA workouts so far. The 34-year-old’s presence in the building this time of year is surprising considering he’s regularly skipped voluntary spring workouts ahead of the mid-June mandatory minicamp in recent years.

“I am holding him out,” Harbaugh said. “He is in here training every single day and killing himself and doing a great job on the conditioning part of it.”

Others not participating on Thursday included tight ends Benjamin Watson (Achilles tendon surgery), Maxx Williams (knee surgery), and Darren Waller (unspecified), cornerbacks Kyle Arrington (concussion) and Carlos Davis (lower leg), and guard Jarrell Broxton (unspecified). All three of the non-participating tight ends were watching practice on the sideline.

Williams underwent a season-ending procedure on his knee last fall that’s never been performed on an NFL player, according to Harbaugh. Specifics were vague, but the Ravens coach said it was related to the meniscus and cartilage in his knee and has been deemed successful. The 2015 second-round pick has been participating in offseason conditioning and workouts this spring.

“It is one of those deals that they have not done before, and so far, so good,” Harbaugh said. “It has really held up really well, and it looks like we are going to have him full speed in training camp. I am counting on that.”

With much concern being expressed about the state of the offensive line following the offseason departures of right tackle Rick Wagner and center Jeremy Zuttah, the first-team group on Thursday included Ronnie Stanley at left tackle, Alex Lewis at left guard, Ryan Jensen at center, John Urschel filling in for Yanda at right guard, and James Hurst at right tackle. Harbaugh left open the possibility of Lewis shifting to another spot, but the current plan is for him to remain at left guard where the organization feels he’s at his best.

Needing to replace two starters on their defensive line, the Ravens primarily lined up 2015 third-round pick Carl Davis at the 3-technique defensive tackle spot and 2014 fourth-round pick Brent Urban at the 5-technique defensive end position. Those jobs were previously held by Timmy Jernigan and Lawrence Guy.

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Five questions for start of Ravens organized team activities

Posted on 23 May 2017 by Luke Jones

With the Ravens now holding their first week of organized team activities and opening up Thursday’s workout to the media, below are five questions surrounding John Harbaugh’s team in late May:

1. What will the offensive line look like?

Many have said the Ravens are returning to their roots with such an offseason focus on improving their defense, but the accompanying thoughts of relying on the running game have come without any high-profile additions to an offensive line that no longer sports above-average right tackle Rick Wagner or center Jeremy Zuttah. Is John Urschel or Ryan Jensen even as good as Zuttah, let alone better? Is there a real solution at right tackle in a motley crew of candidates that includes James Hurst, Jermaine Eluemunor, De’Ondre Wesley, and Stephane Nembot? The biggest wild card could be where Alex Lewis ends up despite an internal belief at the end of last season that his best position was left guard. New senior offensive assistant Greg Roman and new offensive line coach Joe D’Alessandris deserve the chance to leave their mark on this group, but you need a dominant offensive line to play ball-control football and the Ravens have a long way to go to prove they can have that kind of a group.

2. Are the front office and coaching staff really this confident in their wide receivers?

This offseason feels similar to 2013 when veteran Anquan Boldin was traded away for a sixth-round pick and nothing meaningful was done to replace him, leading to substantial problems for quarterback Joe Flacco and the passing game. There is no shortage of speed with Mike Wallace, Breshad Perriman, and Chris Moore, but who is going to be that short-to-intermediate receiver who moves the chains and makes tacklers miss like Steve Smith did over the last three seasons? With general manager Ozzie Newsome having not signed a free-agent wideout to this point and not taking one in last month’s draft, it’s become clear that the Ravens are counting on Perriman to live up to his first-round billing and Moore to emerge as another gem from last year’s impressive fourth-round haul. No matter how the likes of Perriman, Moore, and Michael Campanaro look practicing in shorts over the next few weeks, however, it remains almost inconceivable that the Ravens are again going down this path at this position.

3. How will new safety Tony Jefferson be used?

A four-year, $34 million contract is awfully rich for a traditional strong safety, so the bet here is that Jefferson will be deployed in a way unlike any other safety we’ve seen during defensive coordinator Dean Pees’ tenure. With the re-signing of veteran safety Lardarius Webb and the uncertainty at the weak-side inside linebacker spot due to the unfortunate retirement of Zach Orr, it makes sense for the Ravens to use the dime as their primary sub package with Jefferson essentially lining up as a hybrid linebacker in passing situations. His greatest strengths in Arizona were the ability to stop the run and to cover tight ends, which are critical responsibilities for a linebacker in a more conventional nickel alignment. Considering Webb played well in the second half of 2016 and will now be relegated to a part-time role, Jefferson needs to be a difference-making presence to justify the Ravens throwing him so much money that could have been used to address a below-average offense from a year ago.

4. Who steps into starting roles along the defensive line?

The Ravens have plenty of young options up front, but they will be replacing two starters in Timmy Jernigan and Lawrence Guy who also served as useful interior rushers in passing situations. Michael Pierce, Carl Davis, and Willie Henry will be vying for the starting 3-technique defensive tackle job previously held by Jernigan while 2017 third-round pick Chris Wormley will compete with Brent Urban and Bronson Kaufusi for Guy’s old 5-technique defensive end spot. We’ve heard a lot about these names, but Pierce is the only one who saw extensive playing time a year ago and even he is only entering his second season. There isn’t a ton to take away from the non-contact nature of these spring practices, but it will be interesting to see who will be receiving the early reps with the first-team defense. The good news is that re-signed nose tackle Brandon Williams will be there to anchor the rest of a defensive line that will look quite different than it did in 2016.

5. Will Kamalei Correa begin living up to his second-round billing?

The Ravens passed on a few highly-touted prospects such as Myles Jack and Noah Spence to take Correa with the 42nd overall pick of the 2016 draft, making his rookie season that included only 48 defensive snaps that much more disappointing. With Orr having retired, the Ravens need someone to emerge as the starter in the base defense next to C.J. Mosley with Correa appearing to be the most logical candidate on paper. Outside opinions have been split on whether the Boise State product is better off playing inside or outside, but Newsome drafting edge defenders Tyus Bowser and Tim Williams last month signals where the Ravens stand in that debate. The coaching staff acknowledged that they may have put too much on Correa’s rookie plate by having him work at both inside and outside linebacker, but the Ravens need him to make a major leap in his second season or the groans from fans and media about another failed second-round pick will grow even louder. He has to at least begin looking the part this spring.

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