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Twelve Ravens thoughts following 23-16 win over Houston

Posted on 28 November 2017 by Luke Jones

With the Ravens moving back over .500 and into the No. 6 spot in the AFC playoff race with a 23-16 win over Houston, I’ve offered a dozen thoughts, each in 50 words or less:

1. It was ugly, but Monday was the first time the Ravens have won a game in which they trailed all season. After wilting in some late-game situations earlier this season, the defense forced Tom Savage turnovers on Houston’s final two possessions. That’s how you finish off a close game.

2. Compliments for Terrell Suggs are regularly attached to some acknowledgement of him not being the player he once was, but it’s time to recognize this being the best he’s played in years. He was the best player on the field and is now quite possibly cementing his spot in Canton.

3. I’m running out of ways to describe this passing game that was facing a bottom-10 pass defense entering Week 12. Awful. Joe Flacco needs more help, but I struggle more each week to recognize what he’s bringing to the table. He committed no turnovers, but he misfired on countless throws.

4. What does it say for the offense that the punter turned in the best pass of the night? Sam Koch and Chris Moore executed nicely on the fake punt that swung the momentum, but credit Jerry Rosburg. His special teams units are exceptional every year and make a real difference.

5. Running the ball and stopping the run is this team’s formula for success. Baltimore averaged 4.5 yards per carry to bounce back from some recent lackluster performances and allowed only 2.6 yards per carry. The defense ranks third in the NFL in fewest yards per carry allowed since Week 8.

6. A mere look at his torn jersey said all you needed to know about the fits DeAndre Hopkins gave Ravens cornerbacks. Jimmy Smith has played at an All-Pro level this season, but Hopkins made even him look bad several times.

7. Marlon Humphrey played just seven snaps because of a leg injury, which meant Smith saw his highest volume of snaps since Week 6. That’s something to monitor with the Ravens getting ready for Detroit on a short week and the veteran already missing practice time every week.

8. Give the coaching staff and the offensive line credit for making adjustments against Jadeveon Clowney, who dominated in the opening quarter. He had a quiet second half and wasn’t nearly as disruptive as the Ravens effectively used double teams and chip blocks.

9. Penalties were a problem with seven — all but one against the defense — for 89 yards, but that was only the fourth time this year the Ravens have had more than 60 yards in penalties. That’s a major improvement from where they’ve been in recent years.

10. The two-minute offense at the end of the first half was hardly a thing of beauty, but the drive resulting in a 53-yard field goal was probably one of the better ones we’ve seen this season. That’s not saying very much, but at least Justin Tucker continues to be money.

11. After Flacco broke his second knee brace in two seasons, he admitted that he’s thought about not wearing one. Seeing him move around without it makes me think it could be worth the risk for improved mobility within the pocket if nothing else.

12. Speaking as someone who doesn’t pay to attend games and wouldn’t tell others how to spend their money, it was still sad seeing thousands of empty seats for the first Monday night home game in over five years. Games like that used to be a big deal in this town.

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Ravens-Texans: Inactives and pre-game notes

Posted on 27 November 2017 by Luke Jones

BALTIMORE — For the first time since the 2012 season opener, Monday Night Football has come to Baltimore with the Ravens trying to move above the .500 mark against Houston.

Much has changed for John Harbaugh’s team since that last Monday home game as just six players on the current 53-man roster took part in that contest, but the Ravens have no time for nostalgia with fellow AFC wild-card contenders Buffalo, Los Angeles, Cincinnati, and Oakland all winning in Week 12. Baltimore is trying to secure back-to-back wins for the first time since Weeks 1 and 2 in September while the Texans are hoping to avoid a fourth defeat in five games and keep their fading playoff hopes alive.

There were no injury-related surprises on the list of scratches, but maligned wide receiver Breshad Perriman is active after being a healthy scratch for the first time in his career in Green Bay last week. The 2015 first-round pick has been a major disappointment this season with just seven catches for 54 yards in eight games, but Harbaugh made it clear during the week that the organization still has high hopes for Perriman.

To seemingly make room for Perriman on the 46-man game-day allotment, the Ravens surprisingly deactivated wide receiver and return specialist Michael Campanaro, who was not on the injury report this week and had a 28-yard punt return in Green Bay last week. Campanaro ranks second in the NFL among qualified players in punt return average, but that apparently wasn’t enough to play against the Texans.

Veteran Lardarius Webb is listed behind Campanaro on the team’s official depth chart and is expected to handle punts from seven-time Pro Bowl selection Shane Lechler.

As expected, inside linebacker C.J. Mosley (ankle) and left tackle Ronnie Stanley (concussion) are both active and will start despite being listed as questionable on the final injury report. Mosley deemed himself ready to go after returning to practice Saturday while Stanley cleared concussion protocol Friday after a one-game absence. Stanley’s return will allow James Hurst to return to his normal left guard position after he struggled mightily at left tackle in Green Bay.

Texans wide receiver Will Fuller (ribs) is inactive after officially being declared out on Saturday.

Monday’s referee is Brad Allen.

According to Weather.com, the Monday forecast in Baltimore calls for partly cloudy skies and temperatures in the high 40s with winds up to 15 miles per hour and no chance of precipitation.

The Ravens are wearing their all-black uniforms for the second time this season and will look to improve their all-time mark to 16-7 when wearing their alternate black tops. Houston will wear white jerseys with navy blue pants.

Monday marks the first meeting between these teams since 2014 with Baltimore holding a 6-2 advantage in the regular-season series and a 4-0 mark at M&T Bank Stadium that includes a 20-13 victory in the 2011 postseason. The Ravens will also aim to continue their league-best nine-game winning streak in prime-time home games.

Below are Monday’s inactives:

BALTIMORE
WR Michael Campanaro
RB Terrance West
CB Jaylen Hill
OL Jermaine Eluemunor
OL Maurquice Shakir
DE Bronson Kaufusi
DE Chris Wormley

HOUSTON
WR Will Fuller
WR Cobi Hamilton
RB Andre Ellington
LB Lamarr Houston
OL Greg Mancz
OT Julien Davenport
DT Chunky Clements

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Ravens-Texans: Five predictions for Monday night

Posted on 26 November 2017 by Luke Jones

The schedule couldn’t set up much better down the stretch, but consistency is a must for the Ravens.

After winning in Green Bay last week to move into the No. 6 spot in the AFC playoff race, Baltimore seeks back-to-back victories for the first time since the first two weeks of the season, a reflection of how inconsistent the 2017 campaign has been for John Harbaugh’s team. The Ravens will be facing a Houston Texans squad that’s lost three of its last four, however, and is still reeling from the loss of rookie quarterback sensation Deshaun Watson at the beginning of the month.

With rookie offensive lineman Jermaine Eluemunor expected to be their only injury-related scratch on Monday night, the Ravens arguably have their healthiest 53-man roster since early in the season, an important factor for a team trying to make the playoffs for the first time in three years. Four of the final six games are at home with only two contests coming against teams currently owning winning records, factors leaving Baltimore with no excuse not to be playing in January.

It’s time to go on the record as the Ravens try to move above the .500 mark for the first time since early October by improving their all-time regular-season mark to 7-2 over Houston. The Texans have won two of the last three meetings between the teams, but Baltimore is 4-0 against them at M&T Bank Stadium, which includes a victory in the 2011 postseason.

Below are five predictions for Monday night:

1. Joe Flacco will eclipse 235 passing yards for just the second time this season. Houston has the NFL’s 26th-ranked pass defense, but this prediction is more about the Texans ranking seventh in run defense and allowing just 3.7 yards per carry. The Ravens have struggled to run the ball in recent weeks, averaging under 3.4 yards per rush in three of their last four games. Teams are keying on Alex Collins, meaning Flacco and the passing game should have more opportunities to push the ball down the field. It won’t be all that efficient, but the Ravens will find some modest success through the air.

2. Jeremy Maclin will find the end zone for the third time at home this season. Veteran Kareem Jackson has been the weak link in the Texans secondary and will line up as the slot cornerback in sub packages, which should bode well for Baltimore’s best receiver. Maclin appeared to be finding his stride with Flacco before the bye, but he took a step back last week with just 34 receiving yards against the Packers. The Ravens will need to move the chains on some third-and-intermediate situations, and Maclin is the right man to handle that situation and will catch his fourth touchdown as a Raven.

3. Texans receiver DeAndre Hopkins will catch a touchdown in a mostly-quiet night. Houston quarterback Tom Savage has targeted Hopkins a whopping 39 times over the last three games, which equals Mike Wallace’s targets for the season. Hopkins usually lines up on the same side of the field as Jimmy Smith, which is great news for the Ravens as the veteran corner is enjoying the best season of his career. It will be interesting to see if Texans coach Bill O’Brien moves Hopkins around formations to get him away from Smith, but his production will be modest, regardless of how often he’s targeted.

4. Tony Jefferson will return a takeaway for a touchdown. I’ve predicted a Jefferson interception three other times this season, so I naturally decided to quadruple down on that as a guest on Ravens Unscripted this week. The starting safety has received grief from teammates for not having a pick — especially after rookie Marlon Humphrey came away with his first in Week 11 — but Jefferson has played better in recent weeks after a disappointing start. Playing behind a bad offensive line and timid against a strong defense, Savage will have a pass tipped at the line with Jefferson taking it the other way.

5. The Ravens defense will mostly dominate and the offense will mostly stay out of the way in a 20-10 win over Houston. Expecting another shutout from Baltimore would be unfair, but this Texans offense hasn’t been the same since Watson’s injury and won’t find very much success against a defense-strong team playing its first Monday night home game in over five years. Meanwhile, Flacco and the offense will have its challenges while managing to do just enough against a Texans defense that’s a shell of its former self without J.J. Watt and Whitney Mercilus. It won’t be pretty and won’t prompt ESPN to be clamoring for more Ravens home games moving forward, but the victory is all that matters.

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Mosley, Stanley questionable, but expected to play against Houston

Posted on 25 November 2017 by Luke Jones

OWINGS MILLS, Md. — The Ravens’ prayers on inside linebacker C.J. Mosley were answered.

After an initial plea for divine intervention on the sideline and then downplaying the severity of Mosley’s sprained right ankle late in last week’s 23-0 win at Green Bay, head coach John Harbaugh proved to be right as the standout defensive player returned to practice as a full participant Saturday and will play against Houston on Monday night.

Mosley is officially listed as questionable on the final injury report after missing workouts earlier in the week, but he left no doubt regarding his status against the Texans.

“I’m playing, so I’m not worried about that,” Mosley said. “It wasn’t a high ankle sprain, so that’s what the doctors feared most [initially]. After we found out it wasn’t that, it was just about trying to get as much treatment as possible and rest.”

Mosley said the plan was for him to sit out practice through most of the week and wanted to return to the field Saturday for peace of mind more than anything else. The Ravens not playing until Monday night certainly helped in the recovery process.

A reflection of how good he’s feeling two days prior to Monday Night Football, the two-time Pro Bowl selection even took a playful jab at fellow inside linebacker Patrick Onwuasor for his indirect role in the injury occurring just before the two-minute warning at Lambeau Field.

“I didn’t even see who landed on me. I was just trying to make a tackle,” Mosley said. “I blamed it on ‘Peanut’ since he wasn’t on the field. We [only] had 10 men, so I was about to call timeout, but I just let the play go on. It was probably his fault.

“It could have been bad because I was getting blocked back while I got landed on. Luckily, it was a minor sprain. I felt pretty decent out there today.”

Left tackle Ronnie Stanley is also listed as questionable against Houston, but he will return to action after being cleared from the concussion protocol on Friday. He and right tackle Austin Howard (knee) — who was also designated as questionable — have been hampered with injuries recently, but the Ravens will have their normal offensive line on the field to try to slow standout pass rusher Jadeveon Clowney.

That continuity is of the utmost importance after Stanley’s absence against the Packers last week forced starting left guard James Hurst to left tackle and reserve Luke Bowanko into the starting lineup, leaving the Ravens weaker at both blindside positions.

“It’s good to have your guys, your starters out there,” Harbaugh said. “They’re the starters for a reason. And we’ll be going in there full strength Monday night, and we’re excited about that.”

As expected, starting cornerback Jimmy Smith (Achilles tendon) returned to practice as a full participant Saturday after missing workouts earlier in the week and is officially listed as questionable. The veteran has regularly missed practice time with tendinitis since early October and was also listed as questionable in each of the last six games before playing in them all, leaving very little doubt about his availability.

Outside linebacker Terrell Suggs has been slowed by an ankle injury this week, but he is expected to play despite being listed as questionable. He received his usual veteran day off Saturday to conclude the practice week.

Baltimore officially ruled out rookie offensive lineman Jermaine Eluemunor with a shoulder injury. With only one of their seven game-day scratches in line to be because of injury, the Ravens arguably find themselves in the best shape from a health standpoint that they’ve enjoyed since the start of the season.

Meanwhile, the Texans officially ruled out second-year wide receiver Will Fuller as he continues to recover from cracked ribs. Star wideout DeAndre Hopkins will play despite being slowed by a foot injury in practices earlier in the week.

Below is the final injury report of the week:

BALTIMORE
OUT: OL Jermaine Eluemunor (shoulder)
QUESTIONABLE: OT Austin Howard (knee), LB C.J. Mosley (ankle), CB Jimmy Smith (Achilles), OT Ronnie Stanley (concussion), LB Terrell Suggs (ankle), RB Terrance West (calf)

HOUSTON
OUT: OT Julien Davenport (shoulder), WR Will Fuller (ribs), OL Greg Mancz (shoulder)

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Ravens left tackle Stanley clears protocol, expects to play Monday

Posted on 24 November 2017 by Luke Jones

OWINGS MILLS, Md. — After dealing with what he labeled the most significant concussion of his football career, Ravens left tackle Ronnie Stanley is expected to return against Houston on Monday.

The second-year offensive lineman officially passed concussion protocol Friday and was a full participant in practice, paving the way for him to start against the Texans. Stanley said he expects to play, but he reiterated that the final decision will be made by the coaching and medical staffs.

“It feels great just to be back on the field and be with my teammates. It feels like it’s been a really long time,” Stanley said. “That was probably the most impactful [concussion] that I’ve had in my career, but I feel fine now.”

The 2016 first-round pick said he sustained the head injury on the same play on which he hurt his right shoulder in a third-quarter collision with Tennessee linebacker Wesley Woodyard. He temporarily left that Nov. 5 game and returned for the final play of the third quarter and played the entire final period until the Ravens’ last offensive play from scrimmage with under one minute remaining. It’s unclear whether Stanley self-reported his concussion symptoms at that point as the focus had been on his right shoulder, which he had initially hurt the previous week against Miami.

It was not made public that Stanley has suffered a concussion until the Ravens returned from their Week 10 bye and he appeared on the injury report. The standout tackle practiced on a limited basis all last week before ultimately sitting out the 23-0 win in Green Bay as normal starting left guard James Hurst filled in for him on the outside.

Stanley’s return comes at the perfect time as the Ravens will attempt to slow 2016 Pro Bowl outside linebacker Jadeveon Clowney, who leads the Texans with eight sacks this season and is tied for 17th among all edge defenders in Pro Football Focus’ grading system.

“He’s a big challenge. Everyone in the league knows Jadeveon and what he brings to the table,” said Stanley about the first overall pick of the 2014 draft. “Speed, athleticism, power, and there’s not going to be an easy snap against him.”

Starting right tackle Austin Howard also practiced fully Friday after missing practice time earlier in the week with a knee injury. The veteran lineman struggled against Green Bay and appeared to be hobbled at a few different points, but he deemed himself ready to go for Week 12.

Howard also recently began wearing a harness on his left shoulder, the same one tsurgically repaired this past offseason.

“I feel like it’s Week [12],” said Howard, who added that that he was “100 percent” about playing. “With that being said, that’s one of those things where you get nicked here and there a little bit and you have to play through it. That’s 100 percent of the league right now, 100 percent of the players. Everybody has something, so it’s just a matter of managing it and getting back out there.”

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Ravens still without Mosley, J. Smith for Friday’s practice

Posted on 24 November 2017 by Luke Jones

OWINGS MILLS, Md. — The Ravens continue to be without inside linebacker C.J. Mosley as they move closer to their Monday night meeting with Houston.

The two-time Pro Bowl selection sprained his right ankle late in last Sunday’s win at Green Bay, but head coach John Harbaugh downplayed the severity immediately after the game, saying it didn’t look serious “at all” in his post-game press conference. Mosley has yet to practice week, so doubts surrounding his status would increase if he’s unable to return to take part in Saturday’s workout.

Cornerback Jimmy Smith (Achilles tendon) was absent again on Friday as he continues to battle tendinitis. The standout defensive back missed two practices last week before working on a limited basis in the final workout of the week and ultimately playing 58 of 68 defensive snaps against the Packers, recording an end-zone interception on the game’s opening drive.

Left tackle Ronnie Stanley was upgraded to full participation on Friday after being cleared from concussion protocol, meaning he’s expected to be ready to play against the Texans. Since sustaining a concussion on Nov. 5, the 2016 first-round pick had practiced on a limited basis the last two weeks and did not play against Green Bay.

Right tackle Austin Howard (knee) practiced fully after missing Wednesday’s workout and being listed as a non-participant on the estimated injury report for Thursday as the Ravens had off for Thanksgiving. Howard struggled against the Packers and appeared less than 100 percent for much of the game, but he said Friday there’s no doubt that he’ll be ready to play Monday night.

Veteran outside linebacker Terrell Suggs was limited Friday with an ankle issue, but he was present and moving around without incident in the locker room after practice.

Rookie offensive lineman Jermaine Eluemunor (shoulder) was absent from Friday’s practice.

Below is the full injury report:

BALTIMORE
DID NOT PARTICIPATE: G Jermaine Eluemunor (shoulder), LB C.J. Mosley (ankle), CB Jimmy Smith (achilles)
LIMITED PARTICIPATION: LB Terrell Suggs (ankle)
FULL PARTICIPATION: OT Austin Howard (knee), OT Ronnie Stanley (concussion), RB Terrance West (calf)

HOUSTON
DID NOT PARTICIPATE: OT Julien Davenport (shoulder), WR Will Fuller (ribs), DE Joel Heath (illness/knee), C Greg Mancz (shoulder)
LIMITED PARTICIPATION: RB Alfred Blue (hamstring), OT Chris Clark (knee), OLB Jadeveon Clowney (ankle), WR DeAndre Hopkins (foot), CB Kevin Johnson (concussion)
FULL PARTICIPATION: G Jeff Allen (hand), ILB Dylan Cole (hamstring), WR Bruce Ellington (ribs), S Andre Hal (knee), CB Kareem Jackson (shoulder), ILB Jelani Jenkins (hand), WR Chris Thompson (knee)

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Mosley, Howard, J. Smith absent from Ravens practice

Posted on 22 November 2017 by Luke Jones

OWINGS MILLS, Md. — Pro Bowl inside linebacker C.J. Mosley was one of three starters missing from practice Wednesday as the Ravens shift their attention toward the Houston Texans.

Mosley suffered a sprained right ankle seconds before the two-minute warning in Green Bay, but head coach John Harbaugh said the injury didn’t “look serious at all” immediately after the 23-0 win, even making light of his initial reaction as a star defensive player limped off the field late in a blowout victory.

“We’re on the sideline and he comes limping off and I’m not happy about it,” Harbaugh said. “I wasn’t really pointing the finger at myself. I’m not responsible for every substitution. I did say, ‘If he’s hurt, we’re the dumbest coaching staff in America.’ I think I might have mentioned that.

“The coaches didn’t say much, but I know that they were praying.”

Cornerback Jimmy Smith (Achilles tendon) and right tackle Austin Howard (undisclosed) were also missing during the portion of Wednesday’s workout open to reporters. Smith’s absence was not surprising as he’s missed practice time on a weekly basis since early October, but Howard recently began wearing a harness on his surgically-repaired left shoulder and looked hobbled in an underwhelming performance against the Packers on Sunday.

With Baltimore not playing until Monday, the first injury report of the week will not be released until Thursday.

Left tackle Ronnie Stanley (concussion) was present and working, but he was a limited participant in practices all last week before ultimately being declared out against Green Bay. Harbaugh said Wednesday that the 2016 first-round pick remains in the concussion protocol. Starting left guard James Hurst moved out to Stanley’s spot in Week 11 and struggled to keep quarterback Joe Flacco clean against the Packers front.

“The first thing is obviously you have to switch guys around and you have to take guys out of their position and ask them to do a little bit more just because they’re in a different spot on the field,” Flacco said. “Then, you couple that with the fact that your first-round draft pick-type talent isn’t out there. It definitely all adds up.”

The Ravens will wear their black jerseys and black pants for their first Monday night home game since the 2012 season opener. They own a 16-7 all-time mark when wearing their popular alternate jersey, but Pittsburgh prevailed 26-9 in Week 4 when Baltimore wore its all-black uniforms for the first time this season.

Outside linebacker Matt Judon was named AFC Defensive Player of the Week after collecting two sacks and a forced fumble against the Packers.

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Sizing up Ravens’ playoff picture entering Week 16

Posted on 19 December 2016 by Luke Jones

The Ravens were lucky not to have their playoff hopes all but squashed on Sunday, but their 27-26 win over Philadelphia leaves them with an 8-6 record and multiple paths to the postseason.

The first is clear while the others involve assistance from other teams.

Winning road games at Pittsburgh and Cincinnati would give the Ravens their first AFC North division title since the 2012 season. Of course, that would require Baltimore to win its first games on the road since September.

Many are hyping the Christmas Day showdown at Heinz Field as an AFC North championship game, but it’s not enough for the Ravens to merely win on Sunday. The Steelers host the winless Cleveland Browns in their regular-season finale, meaning the Ravens would almost certainly need to win a road game against the Bengals for the first time since 2011 in order to secure the division championship.

A path to a wild card also remains — at least for now.

The Ravens completed Week 15 a game behind Miami for the sixth and final playoff spot in the AFC. A win for the 9-5 Dolphins at Buffalo on Christmas Eve would force Baltimore to beat the Steelers to stave off elimination for a playoff spot. A Miami loss would keep the Ravens’ playoff hopes alive in Week 17, no matter what happens against Pittsburgh.

Despite the daunting task of playing their two biggest division rivals on the road in consecutive weeks, the Ravens do have a 7-3 conference record working in their favor as a tiebreaker over fellow playoff contenders Tennessee, Denver, and Houston. Of course, Baltimore owns a head-to-head tiebreaker over the Dolphins via the 38-6 win at M&T Bank Stadium in Week 13.

Currently competing for the AFC South title, the Texans and the Titans meet in Week 17, meaning one is set to lose at least one more game.

If the Ravens are to make the playoffs while losing one more game, they would need the Dolphins to lose out and the other 8-6 wild-card contenders to each lose at least one more game.

Below is a look at the remaining schedule for the Ravens and the other contenders for the final wild card in the AFC:

PITTSBURGH (9-5, first place in AFC North)
Remaining opponents: Baltimore, Cleveland

HOUSTON (8-6, first place in AFC South via head-to-head tiebreaker over Tennessee)
Remaining opponents: Cincinnati, at Tennessee

MIAMI (9-5, No. 6 seed)
Remaining opponents: at Buffalo, New England

BALTIMORE (8-6, seventh in AFC via conference record)
Remaining opponents: at Pittsburgh, at Cincinnati

TENNESSEE (8-6, eighth in AFC via head-to-head tiebreaker over Denver)
Remaining opponents: at Jacksonville, Houston

DENVER (8-6, ninth in AFC)
Remaining opponents: at Kansas City, Oakland

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Marc Vandermeer’s take on the Texans underachieving 2-4 start

Posted on 20 October 2015 by WNST Staff

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Ravens sign veteran safety Kendrick Lewis

Posted on 14 March 2015 by Luke Jones

After watching a number of their own depart in the first week of free agency, the Ravens have made their first significant addition of the offseason by agreeing to a deal with safety Kendrick Lewis.

Baltimore agreed to a three-year contract with the 26-year-old who started 16 games for the Houston Texans last season and spent the first four years of his NFL career as a starter with the Kansas City Chiefs. Lewis collected 84 tackles, two interceptions, three forced fumbles, and six pass breakups for Houston last season, but the Texans signed safety Rahim Moore to a three-year, $12 million contract earlier this week.

With starting safety Darian Stewart signing a two-year deal with Denver on Friday, the Ravens had an obvious need at the position and Lewis is considered a strong tackler despite being unremarkable in coverage. The 2010 fifth-round pick out of Ole Miss graded out as Pro Football Focus’ 27th-ranked safety in the NFL among those who played in at least half of his team’s snaps last year. Stewart was graded 23rd by the same publication.

The Lewis signing completes a fascinating game of musical chairs as he replaces Stewart, who will replace Moore in Denver after the ex-Broncos safety signed with Houston to take Lewis’ starting job. Houston was reportedly interested in bringing back the 6-foot, 198-pound Lewis, but he viewed Baltimore as a better opportunity.

Though not an addition appearing to have a great deal of upside, Lewis gives the Ravens a veteran option in anticipation of what looks to be a weak 2015 draft class of safeties beyond Alabama’s Landon Collins. Lewis and Will Hill would appear to have the inside track as Baltimore’s starting safeties at this early stage of the offseason, but others figure to be in the mix such as disappointing 2013 first-round pick Matt Elam and 2014 third-round pick Terrence Brooks, who is currently recovering from knee surgery and isn’t expected to be ready for the start of the season.

A restricted free agent, Hill was given the $1.542 million low tender before the start of free agency, which gives the Ravens the right of first refusal should another team sign the 24-year-old to an offer sheet.

Though general manager Ozzie Newsome doesn’t typically sign unrestricted free agents due to their negative impact on the compensatory pick formula, the loss of five unrestricted free agents of their own means that the Lewis addition wouldn’t appear to impact their ability to earn the maximum number of four compensatory picks for next year’s draft.

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