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C. Brown helps hold patchwork secondary together


C. Brown helps hold patchwork secondary together

As the Ravens went through their paces at training camp, there was a lot of speculation over who would be  playing cornerback opposite Lardarius Webb. Would it be Cary Williams or Jimmy Smith?

Many people expected  Smith, a former first-round draft pick, to ultimately seize the starting spot. He would join Webb, who signed a long-term contract in the offseason and was emerging as one of the game's top young cornerbacks.

Yet as the Cowboys marched down the field on a potential game-tying touchdown drive in the fourth quarter on Sunday, neither Webb nor Smith were anywhere to be found. Instead, Williams manned one corner slot, with Chykie Brown at the other and Corey Graham, primarily brought in as a special teamer, filling the role as the nickel back. Safety James Ihedigbo, another special teamer who joined the team late in preseason, played as a dime back.

That is definitely not how the Ravens drew it up in June.

"Our guys stepped up in the face of some real adversity," coach John Harbaugh said.

"Throughout the game, we had guys going in there to play positions that they hadn't played," he added. " We had packages that we hadn't had a chance to practice, and guys were stepping up and getting the job done."

The Ravens took the 'next man up,' mantra to a new level in their 31-29 win over Dallas on Sunday, where it was, as Smith said, more a case of "the next six guys up."  The brutal war of attrition cost the Ravens, one time or another, as many as six key defensive players. The worst of the injuries appear to be to Webb (possibly torn left ACL) and linebacker Ray Lewis (triceps).

Even after Webb went down -- his knee seemed to buckle as he got tangled up with Cowboys receiver Dez Bryant in the first quarter -- the Ravens were still in good hands with Williams and Smith. But then Smith left the game late with a leg injury.

Enter Brown, primarily a special teamer whose roster spot wasn't even secured until the final round of cuts. Brown, a fifth-round draft pick out of Texas in 2011, had seen very little action in the secondary until the final minutes against Dallas.

As to be expected, the Cowboys went right after him. Brown was flagged for pass interference in the final minute on a pass intended for Kevin Ogletree down the right sideline. The 20-yard penalty helped set up the Cowboys' potentially game-winning 51-yard field-goal attempt, which Dan Bailey pulled wide left.

"It's hard for corners to go through a whole season without getting some kind of injury," Brown said. "Every game I come in knowing my number could be called. You gotta be ready. Until then, I do my thing on special teams. Once my number gets called on defense, then I can make a name for myself on defense."


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Ravens' Eric DCosta not ruling out taking a quarterback at No. 16

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Ravens' Eric DCosta not ruling out taking a quarterback at No. 16

And with the No. 16 overall pick in the 2018 NFL Draft, the Baltimore Ravens select.... a quarterback?

Assistant general manager, and soon to be general manager, Eric DeCosta isn't ruling out the possibility that the Ravens use their first-round pick on drafting a quarterback to eventually replace Joe Flacco. 

"I feel like if there is a guy there that we think is really too good to pass up, we're going to take him," DeCosta told the team's website on the chance of draft a quarterback in the first-round. 

Quarterback is just one of many offensive needs for the team. Joe Flacco's stats have been trending downward as the 33-year old is entering his 11th season.


Owner Steve Bisciotti though may disagree with DeCosta.

At his annual State of the Ravens press conference, Bisciotti said, "That’s not really something that we’re worried about right now. We’ve got bigger fish to fry, I guess. I don’t consider that a big worry," in regards to looking at life after Joe. Bisciotti also noted the team would be looking at all options in free agency and the draft for weapons for their QB.

From the sound of that, it appears the team's first choice would be a wideout, but the Ravens haven't drafted a quarterback since Joe Flacco back in 2008. 

The 2018 NFL Draft class has a handful of strong quarterbacks to choose from and not a ton of first-round wide receivers. 

Former Ravens scout, Daniel Jeremiah of NFL.com has predicted the team with take Oklahoma's Baker Mayfield in the first-round. 

"It basically depends on our evaluation and how we feel about the guy, what we think he can become as a player and what we think his upside is and if he's there," DeCosta said

Backup Ryan Mallet is a free agent so the organization will have to find someone to fill the role, whether it's someone on a one year-deal, or the future QB of the franchise. 


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Ravens sign Michael Crabtree to three-year deal

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Ravens sign Michael Crabtree to three-year deal

The Baltimore Ravens have signed wide receiver Michael Crabtree to a three-year deal on Friday according to general manager and executive vice president Ozzie Newsome.

The deal is apparently worth $21 million, according to Adam Schefter.

After being released by the Raiders on Thursday following the signing of Jordy Nelson, Crabtree heads to the Ravens less than 24 hours later.


The 31-year-old is coming off a 2017 season when he recorded 58 receptions for 618 yards and eight touchdowns. In 2016 he posted 89 receptions for 1,003 yards and eight touchdowns.

Since 2015, the Texas Tech product has scored 25 receiving touchdowns, the fifth-most in the NFL. Crabtree and Steelers wide receiver Antonio Brown are the only NFL players to post at least eight touchdown catches in each of the past three seasons.


In all, Crabtree has played nine NFL seasons – six of them with San Francisco (2009-14) and three with Oakland (2015-17). The former first-round draft pick (10th overall, Texas Tech) has registered 579 receptions for 6,870 yards (11.9 avg.) and 51 touchdowns in 125 career games (122 starts).

“Michael has played very well against the Ravens, so we know firsthand the attributes he brings to the game,” Newsome said in a team statement. “He is a smart, tough, physical receiver who battles for the ball. We like his temperament and believe he is a good fit for our football team, on and off the field.”

Since he entered the NFL in 2009, Crabtree’s 51 receiving scores rank 10th among active wide receivers, while his receptions (579) are seventh, and his receiving yards (6,870) are 12th.