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Five Ravens thoughts heading into last eight games

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Five Ravens thoughts heading into last eight games

Here are five thoughts on the second half of the Ravens’ season, which begins Sunday (1 p.m.) against the Jaguars at M&T Bank Stadium.

1. It’s way too early to talk about the Ravens (2-6) making a second-half charge.

They haven’t won two games in a row. They’ve only won once at home. Their defense is ranked 29th in the NFL against the pass. Let’s see the Ravens do this. Beat the Jaguars (2-6) on Sunday, which would give the Ravens two straight wins. Beat the Rams the following week, which would give the Ravens three straight wins at home. If they do that, we can say the Ravens are on the upswing. If they can’t, they’re not ready to make a move.

2. With Steve Smith injured, even more will be learned about the Ravens’ other receivers.

Whether or not Smith retires, or Breshad Perriman plays this season, the Ravens will be looking to upgrade the wide receiver position heading into 2016. Every receiver during the final eight games will have an opportunity to strengthen, or damage, their chance of staying around next season.

3. Will giving up big plays continue to be a big problem for the Ravens’ secondary?

The Jaguars have two quality receivers in Allen Hurns and Allen Robinson. We’ll see if the Ravens’ secondary can avoid the kind of glaring mistakes that hurt them badly over the first eight games. The Ravens won’t win consistently unless they reduce the big plays against them.

4. Joe Flacco will really need his young tight ends.

We know for sure that Dennis Pitta isn’t coming back this year. However, second-year tight end Crockett Gillmore already has three touchdown grabs, and rookies Nick Boyle and Maxx Williams have 23 catches between them. If all three tight ends continue to make plays, it will help relieve the pressure of losing Smith.

5. Special teams could help the Ravens steal a win or two.

Sam Koch is having a Pro Bowl caliber year as a punter, and Justin Tucker is a proven clutch kicker with great range.  The Ravens don’t have the firepower to blow teams out. But if they give Tucker a few more chances to seal victories, they’ll like the results.

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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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