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5 rookies to watch closely vs. Jags

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5 rookies to watch closely vs. Jags

These are five rookies to watch this weekend:

Kelechi Osemele: The offensive lineman has played at right tackle and left guard. His versatility makes him a nice addition to an aging offensive line of Matt Birk (15th season), Bobbie Williams (13th) and Bryant McKinnie (11th). Where he plays Thursday could indicate where Harbaugh intends to use him more to begin the season.

Bernard Pierce: The running back is starting to show why the Ravens moved up in the draft to select him. Pierce has the toughness to run between the tackles but also the speed -- unlike last year's No. 2 starter Anthony Allen -- to bounce outside and turn the corner. Pierce is going to make this roster. But another strong performance could provide the separation he needs to secure playing time next to Ray Rice.

Courtney Upshaw: The linebacker, the team's top pick in the 2012 draft, hasn't bowled over anyone yet. And definitely no opposing offensive linemen. While he had good numbers in college with 8.5 sacks last season, he hasn't given any indication he can be that type of player on this level. He needs to catch the coach's eye to be an every down player.

Deonte Thompson: This team is chock full of receivers, but this undrafted one is close to securing a spot somewhere on the roster. He has shown blazing speed and that he can be a quality returner on special teams to give the Ravens an added dimension. He had a big gain in last weeks' game against the Lions negated by a holding penalty.

Justin Tucker: Sure, he's just a kicker but he has pushed incumbent Billy Cundiff to the brink. Much is being made of Tucker not getting the nod because of his experience but he did kick at Texas. When it comes to the big stage, it doesn't get much bigger and he had better than 80 accuracy there. He has the better leg than Cundiff and this is a pressure situation.

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Dez Bryant turned down multi-year deal from Ravens, is banking on himself in 2018

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USA TODAY Sports

Dez Bryant turned down multi-year deal from Ravens, is banking on himself in 2018

If you want to sign Dez Bryant in 2018, it will have to be on a one-year deal.

The 29 year-old wide receiver turned down a multi-year offer from the Baltimore Ravens in hopes of finding a one-year deal that enables him to test the open market again in 2019, Ed Werder of The Doomsday Podcast first reported.

Bryant - who finished 2017 with 69 receptions, 838 yards and six touchdowns -  is predicating a bounce back season in 2018 with hopes of a big money, long-term contract in 2019.

The offer was similar to that of Michael Crabtree's three-year, $21 million deal, according to NFL Insider Ian Rapoport. The Ravens had to offer Bryant a multi-year deal in order to fit his number under the salary cap.

Since turning down their offer, the Ravens signed former Saints WR Willie Snead to a two-year, $10.4 million contract. 

Bryant will now have to wait until after the 2018 NFL Draft to work out a deal with an organization, if one is still searching for a wide receiver going in to the tail end of his career. 

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Ahead of NFL Draft, Ravens add to wide receiver corps with Willie Snead

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USA TODAY Sports

Ahead of NFL Draft, Ravens add to wide receiver corps with Willie Snead

OWINGS MILLS, Md. -- Receiver Willie Snead has bid farewell to the Saints, which means New Orleans apparently won't match the contract the Baltimore Ravens offered the restricted free agent.

Eager to add a target for quarterback Joe Flacco, the Ravens on Friday offered Snead a two-year, $10.4 million contract. The Saints had five days to match the deal. Snead indicated Monday on Twitter that he's headed out of New Orleans.

Snead tweeted: "What I'm going to miss most is the men in the locker room & the coaches."

He added: "Even though I'm sad to go, I'm even more excited for the next chapter in my life. I can't wait to strap it on as a Baltimore Raven."

Hampered by a three-game suspension and a hamstring injury, Snead was limited to eight catches for 92 yards last year.

In 2015, he had 69 receptions for 984 yards. He caught 72 passes for 895 yards in 2016.

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