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Cowboys' Witten is 'a huge task'


Cowboys' Witten is 'a huge task'

The Ravens defense had all sorts of trouble with Eagles tight end Brent Celek in Week 2, and they face a similar challenge this week in Cowboys All-Pro tight end Jason Witten.

Celek caught eight passes for 157 yards in the Eagles' 24-23 win over the Ravens, frequently finding open spots underneath as the Ravens needed to account for deep threats DeSean Jackson and Jeremy Maclin, or working himself open as Michael Vick extended a play with his scrambling.

Since the Eagles game, the Ravens have done good job neutralizing opposing tight ends. Patriots All-Pro tight end Rob Gronkowski had just two catches for 21 yards, and the Chiefs tight ends were held without a catch in the Ravens' 9-6 win at Kansas City last week.

But unlike the Chiefs, who struggled to get any passing game going, or even the Patriots, who don't often take shots deep downfield, the Cowboys' passing game recipe looks more like the Eagles: Stretch the field with deep threats Dez Bryant and Miles Austin and open up space underneath for the 6-foot-6, 261-pound Witten.

Ravens defensive coordinator Dean Pees said earlier this week that the task of covering Witten will fall on "all linebackers and the safeties. There are very few times you are going to have a corner really matched up on him. It’s going to be the safeties and linebackers in there. All of them are going to have to have a part in it."

"The biggest effect that we can have on them," Pees added, "is affect No. 9 [quarterbackTony Romo].”

Added linebacker Albert McClellan: ""We got to be physical right off the line of scrimmage, and pretty much just give him a handful throughout the whole game and see who lasts the longest."

"It's a task," McClellan said. "We're always up for any challenges, so it's a huge task, especially for me as an outside linebacker."

Witten got off to a slow start this season after missing most of the preseason with a lacerated spleen sustained in the preseason opener. But in the Cowboys' most recent game, against the Bears, Witten finished with 13 catches for 112 yards.

A former third-round draft pick out of Tennessee, Witten hasn't missed a start in six seasons and has had three 1,000-yard receiving seasons in the past five years. He ranks third in NFL history for receptions (717) and receiving yards (8,097) by a tight end ‑- just ahead of Ravens general manager Ozzie Newsome.

 At age 30 and in his 10th NFL season, Witten "is still a dominant force," Pees said. "He is still a good run blocker. He is still one of the best tight ends in the league."


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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.

The 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.


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


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. 


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.