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Can Ravens build a defense less reliant on Suggs?

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Can Ravens build a defense less reliant on Suggs?

Can the Ravens build a defense this offseason that is not so dependent on outside linebacker Terrell Suggs?

While the Ravens expect Suggs to return from Achilles surgery, he is 33 years old, and will be entering his 14th NFL season in 2016. Finding a pass rusher via the draft, free agency, or trade is a top offseason priority for the Ravens. Asking Suggs, the franchise’s all-time sack leader (106 1/2) to duplicate his 12-sack season of 2014, and to be a three-down linebacker, could be asking too much.  At the “State of the Ravens” press conference Thursday, owner Steve Bisciotti admitted that he underestimated how much it hurt to lose Suggs for the season in Week 1.

“I think I didn’t come close to understanding the impact,” Bisciotti said. “For many, many years, we said that Ray Lewis made people 10 percent better just by playing with him. And what we didn’t appreciate in Suggs was the reason why (Elvis) Dumervil went from 17 sacks downs to six. Dumervil didn’t become a bad player, and our linebackers were exposed in coverage because of our lack of pressure.

“It was the biggest domino effect of losing one guy. If anybody in this league said, ‘If we lost Joe Flacco in Week 1, where would we be?’ We’d say, ‘Not good.’ If you had said, ‘What one guy can’t you afford to lose on defense?’ I think most of you would have said Suggs.”

General manager Ozzie Newsome has gotten indications from Suggs that he planned to return, although Suggs has been in infrequent visitor to the Ravens’ practice facility since his injury.

“First of all, I had numerous conversations with Sizz (Suggs), while he was not necessarily in the building,” Newsome said. “And he has been in the building. I think he had his reasons for not being here – both personal and some other reasons.

“I think he gets out of his (walking) boot soon. In my last conversation with him, his answer to me was, “I don’t want to leave the game the way I left out in Denver (injured). So I think he is using that as motivation. He’s had that injury before, so he knows what it takes to get back.”  

However, Dumervil will turn 32 years old January 19, and the Ravens do not want him to carry the load he did in 2015. Finding another pass rusher would also help young linebacker ZaDarius Smith to become more effective.

Regardless of what kind of player Suggs is next season, the Ravens need more help for their pass rush, and for their defense overall. Suggs returning can help the Ravens’ defense, but he can’t save it alone.

[RELATED: Ravens have plenty of options with the No. 6 pick]

 

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Baltimore Ravens' 2018 regular season matchups, dates and times

Baltimore Ravens' 2018 regular season matchups, dates and times

We've known the Ravens' 2018 preseason and regular season opponents for some time now, but the NFL finally released their full schedule with exact dates and times.

As they do every year, the Ravens will be seeing the Bengals, Steelers and Browns twice. 

For the ninth consecutive year, Week 16 and 17 will be divisional games with playoff implications.

They Ravens will also be playing in the Pro Football Hall of Fame preseason game against the Chicago Bears in Canton, Ohio, bringing an extra preseason game to their schedule.

In the regular season, the birds will be flocking south to take on the Panthers, Falcons and Titans. They haven't seen the Panthers or Falcons since 2014 - both ending in wins - and came up just short against the Titans in their 23-20 loss last season.

The Ravens will only have to travel to the west coast once when they take on the Los Angeles Chargers, who they last saw in 2015 and earned a 29-26 win.

Not including AFC North rivals, the last time the Ravens saw their remaining five home opponents they came away with wins. Hopefully history will repeat itself.

Prime-time games, which the Ravens have two of, will kick off at earlier times than in the past. Monday Night Football will now start at 8:15 p.m. while Thursday and Sunday Night Football will start at 8:20 p.m.

Ravens 2018 Regular-Season Schedule:

Week 1: Sunday, 9/9 vs. Bills, 1:00 p.m.

Week 2: Thursday, 9/13 @ Bengals, 8:20 p.m.

Week 3: Sunday, 9/23 vs. Broncos. 1:00 p.m.

Week 4: Sunday, 9/30 @ Steelers, 8:20 p.m.

Week 5: Sunday, 10/7 @ Browns, 1:00 p.m.

Week 6: Sunday 10/14 @ Titans, 4:25 p.m.

Week 7: Sunday, 10/21 vs. Saints, 4:05 p.m.

Week 8: Sunday 10/28 @ Panthers, 1:00 p.m.

Week 9: Sunday 11/4 vs. Steelers, 1:00 p.m.

Week 10:  BYE week

Week 11: Sunday 11/18 vs. Bengals, 1:00 p.m.

Week 12: Sunday 11/25 vs. Raiders, 1:00 p.m.

Week 13: Sunday 12/2 @ Falcons, 1:00 p.m.

Week 14: Sunday 12/9 @ Chiefs, 1:00 p.m.

Week 15: Sunday 12/16 vs. Buccaneers, 1:00 p.m.

Week 16: Saturday 12/22 or Sunday 12/23 @ Chargers, TBD

Week 17: Sunday 12/30 vs. Browns, 1:00 p.m.


PRESEASON 

Hall of Fame Game: Thurs., 8/2, vs. Chicago Bears (Canton, OH), 8:00pm (NBC).

Week 1: Thurs., 8/9, vs. Los Angeles Rams

Week 2: Mon. 8/20,  at Indianapolis Colts (Monday Night Football, ESPN).

Week 3: at Miami Dolphins*

Week 4: Thurs., 8/30 at Washington Redskins

* - Game date and time not yet determined

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As 2018 NFL Draft approaches, Ravens to host QB Lamar Jackson per report

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As 2018 NFL Draft approaches, Ravens to host QB Lamar Jackson per report

With 10 days until the 2018 NFL Draft, quarterback Lamar Jackson is set to visit the Ravens this week, per Ian Rapoport of NFL Network. 

The former Heisman Trophy winner is a projected first-round pick as he has proven to have success in the air and on the ground. 

While at Louisville, Jackson had 9,043 passing yards and 69 touchdowns. He also rushed for 4,132 yards and 50 touchdowns. His NFL draft profile compares him to Michael Vick. 

RELATED: BEST QUOTES FROM RAVENS PRE-DRAFT PRESS CONFERENCE

The Ravens are in search of Joe Flacco's successor, but spending a first-round pick on a quarterback when there are other glaring needs is up in the air. However, assistant general manager Eric DeCosta isn't ruling out the possibility

"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 drafting a quarterback in the first-round.

At their pre-draft press conference, GM Ozzie Newsome and DeCosta kept reiterating we could be surprised by who they pick at No. 16, if they do at all. 

While Jackson's numbers are impressive, he continues to be considered a late first-round pick as his build isn't up to typical NFL QB standards and scouts are concerned with his accuracy. What he does have in his favor is speed.

While fans are hoping for an offensive weapon, having Jackson learn under Flacco for a year (and maybe RGIII?) could rev up some excitement. 

RELATED: RGIII READY TO MOVE FORWARD AS NEW, GROWN PLAYER