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Defense looking for improvement after bye

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Defense looking for improvement after bye

The defense is looking to do better things when they come back after the break this Sunday in Cleveland. It seems clear that everyone realizes that certain players are gone for awhile, and it's time to move on.

There's no question that the unit which once was the team's strong point now has slipped a lot. The combination of injuries -- to players like Ray Lewis and Lardarius Webb plus Terrell Suggs -- and needing younger players to step up has really caused the Ravens trouble in the first seven weeks. 

"We have the guys to step up, and we have the guys to fill [the voids]," said linebacker Paul Kruger when talknig with the media last week. "We all need to come together as a collective group and change some of the things that we are doing to come along here."

Kruger said one of the reasons they need to connect as a group is to fill in the holes left by the injury to Lewis, something that's not a surprise. 

"Ray's the leader of our team," Kruger said. "He's been a guy who's created a lot around here. It's the kind of team that we are, and I think Ray's a huge part of that. Of course, we are missing him, and of course, it's a detriment to our team."

The return of Suggs is going to help. He had a strong performance in the loss to Houston before the break, possibly the best player on defense that day. Suggs' return will help not only the pass rush but the team's pass coverage, and the question really is how much it will all come together. 

If Suggs can come close to the form he showed as NFL Defensive Player of the Year last season, it would take pressure off the defense in other ways. But only time will tell. Still, the return of Suggs can help make up for the big losses they've suffered so far. 

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Fellow dance student of Ravens' Alex Collins fatally shot in Florida school shooting

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USA Today Sports

Fellow dance student of Ravens' Alex Collins fatally shot in Florida school shooting

On Wednesday, February 14, a horrific school shooting claimed the lives of 17 innocent people at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla. 

The tragic event impacted people far and wide, and hit especially close to home for Ravens running back Alex Collins.

The former Arkansas star was born in Plantation, Fla., a suburb of Fort Lauderdale and went to high school just 15 miles south of Douglas High School. 

In the offseason, Collins took Irish dancing lessons to improve his footwork, and following the act of terror, the Ravens' tailback learned that one of his dance partners had been killed in the mass shooting.

17-year-old Cara Loughran attended The Drake school of Irish Dance with Collins in addition to two other Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School students and was fatally shot by the gunman on Wednesday afternoon. 

Collins took to his Twitter account to issue this heartfelt message.

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“The school shooting yesterday hit home,” Collins wrote.

“We received confirmation a few hours ago we lost one of the girls, Cara Loughran. Two other girls saw and experienced unspeakable tragedy. My heart goes out to these girls, all their families and their teacher Chrissy.”

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Baltimore Ravens to take on Chicago Bears in Hall of Fame game

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USA Today Sports

Baltimore Ravens to take on Chicago Bears in Hall of Fame game

BALTIMORE -- The Baltimore Ravens and Chicago Bears will launch the NFL's 99th season by playing in the annual Hall of Fame game on Aug. 2.

The Ravens' first appearance in the Hall of Fame game, which launches the league's 2018 Enshrinement Week. Former Baltimore linebacker Ray Lewis is among the inductees, along with former Bears linebacker Brian Urlacher.

Lewis, who played 17 seasons with the Ravens, and Urlacher, who played all of his 13 seasons with Chicago, both were elected on the first ballot.

Lewis joins Jonathan Ogden as the only Ravens in the Hall of Fame. Both were selected by Baltimore in the first round of the 1996 draft.

The other members of the Class of 2018 include Bobby Beathard, Robert Brazile, Brian Dawkins, Jerry Kramer, Randy Moss and Terrell Owens. All will be inducted on Saturday, Aug. 4.

This will be the record-tying fifth time that the Bears will play in the Hall of Fame game. They won the previous four, most recently 27-24 over Miami in 2005.

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