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Cowboys running game stuck in neutral since opener

Cowboys running game stuck in neutral since opener

IRVING, Texas (AP) DeMarco Murray and the Dallas Cowboys' running game have been stuck in neutral since an impressive start.

The unit that ran for 143 yards in a season-opening victory is now 29th in the NFL, averaging just 68 yards per game. And the only reason the Cowboys (2-2) are even that high is because of what they did against the New York Giants in that first game.

Coach Jason Garrett said Wednesday there are a lot of different reasons for the struggles, and that the Cowboys have to get better to be more balanced offensively.

``We've talked about some of the pre-snap penalties that got us in some bad situations in a couple of games. We had some minus runs and there are different reasons for that as well,'' Garrett said. ``Guys getting physically beaten up front or on the edges or wherever they need to be. We've played against some good run-defending teams, where there has been a lot of movement up front.''

Murray missed the final three games of his impressive rookie season with a broken right ankle, but came back healthy this year. There were also the additions of two veteran guards (Mackenzy Bernadeau and Nate Livings) providing more bulk up front and veteran fullback Lawrence Vickers.

Murray had 131 yards on 20 carries in the opener, the first time the restructured offensive line played together. Since then, he has just 106 yards on 41 carries. That includes two 11-yard carries, one for his only touchdown.

``Frankly, we haven't blocked as well as we need to and we haven't run as well as we need to,'' Garrett said.

Murray averaged 5.5 yards on his 164 carries last season, but is down to 3.9 yards per carry this year. Take out a 48-yard run against the Giants and his two 11-yard gains since, and he is averaging only 2.9 yards his other 58 rushing attempts.

Outside of Murray, the Cowboys have 18 rushing attempts for 34 yards.

``I do think we can be a good running team,'' tight end Jason Witten said. ``We became one-dimensional. It's not an excuse for it, you can't allow it to get away from you, you've got to be better early on.''

Not including end-of-game or end-of-half situations the last two games, Dallas had negative yards on eight first-down rushing carries and no gain on two other such attempts. There was one stretch against Tampa Bay when the Cowboys lost yards on five consecutive first-down runs.

`` We put ourselves in bad positions to where we couldn't be able to run the ball,'' Vickers said. ``We've got to eliminate the self-inflicted wounds so we can do the things we want to do with our offense.''

Garrett said penalties and negatives plays put the offense in the position of ``trying to survive the drive instead of thriving, attacking.''

Witten said the team has worked on the rushing game and that it was a ``big part'' of evaluations during the bye week.

Dallas plays Sunday at Baltimore, the first of four road games the next five weeks. The Ravens are coming off a 9-6 win at Kansas City, which ran 50 times for 214 yards against them. But these still are the defensive-dominant Ravens, who have won 13 consecutive home games.

``They play with a demeanor and a relentlessness that we're all familiar with,'' Garrett said. ``Kansas City did run the ball fairly well against them. They ran the ball a lot against them. Baltimore did a great job making the key plays when they needed to. Keeping that score down. ... They play great defense, they've always played great defense. We have our work cut out for us.''

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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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2018 NFL Mock Draft Ravens Roundup 6.0: The final countdown

2018 NFL Mock Draft Ravens Roundup 6.0: The final countdown

After months and months of talk and a lot of predictions, the 2018 NFL Draft is finally here.

On Thursday, Ozzie Newsome and Co. will enter the draft room prepared for battle. A lot of questions await them and most of them can not be answered until the ten minutes leading up to their pick. 

Even with the additions of Michael CrabtreeJohn Brown and Willie Snead, will the Ravens continue to add to their wide receiver corps? 

Will they trade down and scoop up a tight end or will they address the offensive line and snag Mike McGlinchey? 

All of our questions will be answered in no time, but for now, sit back and enjoy the wild ride that is the first-round of the NFL Draft. 

NBC Sports Washington's Ben Standig (Link) Charley Casserly (Link

— Mike McGlinchey (OL)

With the exit of Ryan Jensen, the Ravens are now in need of an offensive lineman. 

At the combine, McGlinchey put up 24 reps on the bench press, had a 28.5 inch vertical and a 105 inch broad jump. 

"The offense lacks playmakers which is why wide receivers Calvin Ridley and D.J. Moore work," Standing says. "Right tackle also in play. McGlinchey seems to have moved ahead of the other tackle prospects."

ESPN's Mel Kiper (Link) CBS Sports' Chris Trapasso (Link) Sporting News (Link) Rotoworld (Link

— Calvin Ridley (WR)

Ridley is one of the few wideouts in this draft projected to go in the first-round. While his combine performance didn't help his stock, running a 4.43 40-yard dash, recording a 31-inch vertical, a 110-inch broad jump and a 6.88-second 3-cone drill, many are still predicting he lands with the Ravens or somewhere in the first-round. 

"Ridley underwhelmed at the combine, but his college tape shows a player who’s nearly uncoverable," Kiper says. "I’m going to trust the tape in this case and still make him my top-ranked wideout (Maryland’s D.J. Moore is not far behind). Baltimore could also target an offensive tackle at pick No. 16."

NFL.com's Daniel Jeremiah (Link)

— Hayden Hurst (TE) 

The Ravens haven't addressed their need at tight end in free agency and the reason could be because they're holding out for the draft. 

QB Joe Flacco has a tendency to favor Ravens tight ends and Hayden Hurst out of South Carolina is being considered by many the top TE in this draft. 

The ex-minor league baseball pitcher, who walked on at South Carolina at 21-years old, is being compared to Dallas Clark. "His fearless play demeanor combined with size, strength and athleticism make him a well-rounded prospect with the versatility to line up all over the field," according to his draft profile

Jeremiah, who once was a scout for the Ravens, predicts they will be looking to draft back for Hurst.

NFL.com's Bucky Brooks (Link) 

— Lamar Jackson (QB) 

It was reported last week that Jackson would be making a visit to the Ravens' facility during the final week of pre-draft visits, and with Joe Flacco nearing the end of his contract, now could be the time to find his successor. Jackson provides support on the ground and in the air, but scouts are concerned about his accuarcy. 

"With Joe Flacco viewed as a potential salary cap casualty in 2019, the Ravens can secure their future QB by grabbing Jackson if he is available at No. 16," Brooks says. "Remember, Ravens offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg and assistant head coach Greg Roman have experience nurturing athletic quarterbacks into dynamic playmakers (see Michael Vick, Donovan McNabb, Colin Kaepernick), so the Ravens could be the perfect fit for the 2016 Heisman winner."

Bleacher Report (Link

— Mike Gesicki (TE) 

Gesicki is another tight end option for the Ravens. Standing tall at 6' 5", Gesicki ran a 4.54 40-yard dash and recorded a 41.5 vertical jump at the combine. He also ended his time at Penn State as their tight end leader in receptions, receiving yards and touchdowns. 

His draft profile describes him as a "pass-catcher who can get open and has the ball skills to win against linebackers and safeties." Scouts are also comparing him to the likes of Jimmy Graham. 

Land of 10 (Link

— Christian Kirk (WR)

Kirk provides another wide receiver option if Ridley is gone at 16, even though his draft profile has him projected in Rounds 2-3. 

The 5-10, 201-pound junior finished with 71 receptions, 919 yards and 10 touchdowns at Texas A&M.

At the combine, Kirk ran a 4.47 40-yard dash, recorded a 35.5 vertical jump and a 7.09 second 3-cone drill. 

His bottom line states, "Kirk is a well-built, mentally tough slot target whose game is built around pace more than explosiveness. His lack of speed and length make him less likely to impact games down the field, but his footwork, route tempo and hands should give him an opportunity to find catches underneath. Kirk's ability to help in the return game is a plus, but the difference between average and good as a receiver could depend on finding the right fit."

CBS Sports' Ryan Wilson (Link)

— D.J. Moore (WR)

As the draft has slowly approached, Maryland's D.J. Moore has risen in the rankings. 

Many pundits are ranking him narrowly behind Alabama's Calvin Ridley as the top WR in the draft. 

The 6'0"  junior ran a 4.42 40-yard dash, a 6.95 3-cone drill and recorded a 39.5 vertical jump. 

"Moore is bigger than former Terrapin wideout Stefon Diggs, but their playing style and athletic ability while at Maryland are similar," states his draft profile.

"Moore doesn't have the height and length teams look for outside and may become a full-time option from the slot. He clearly has the short-area quickness and talent after the catch to handle those duties, but his route-running needs to become more focused and fast to unlock his potential. Teams are high on Moore's potential and believe he has the talent and traits to become a good WR2 in the league."

Moore is being compared to the likes of Pierre Garçon. 

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