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Five roster battles to watch as Ravens visit Falcons


Five roster battles to watch as Ravens visit Falcons

ATLANTA -- The Ravens play their preseason finale Thursday night in Atlanta. The game will air live with kickoff at 7:00 p.m. on CSN Plus. 

Like all NFL teams, the Ravens have decisions to make before they trim the roster from 75 to 53 players by Saturday afternoon. Ravens coach John Harbaugh said that starters would not play against the Falcons, and that 43 players would be available for this game. Here are five position battles to watch, as players on the bubble vie to make the team:

1. Wide receiver

The drama here is whether the Ravens keep six or seven receivers. Jeremy Butler looks like the wide receiver on the fence, with Steve Smith, Breshad Perriman, Michael Campanaro, Marlon Brown, Kamar Aiken, and Darren Waller secure. Perriman’s knee injury helps Butler’s chances. But Butler could use some catches against the Falcons to help make his case.

2. Running back

The battle is between Terrence Magee and Fitz Toussaint. Lorenzo Taliaferro (knee) may not be healthy enough to backup Justin Forsett in the season opener at Denver. Buck Allen can fill that role, but the Ravens may keep an extra back until Taliaferro returns. Would that be Magee or Toussaint? This game could decide that.

3. Cornerback

Asa Jackson, Quinton Pointer, and Cassius Vaughn are all on the bubble. Jackson’s ability as a punt and kickoff returner doesn’t guarantee him a spot. Campanaro can do that too, and both Smith and cornerback Lardarius Webb will also return some punts this year. Fourth-round pick Tray Walker really struggled against the Redskins, but the Ravens aren’t going to cut Walker, even if he doesn’t play much. This is a game where Jackson, Pointer, and Vaughn need to make plays and avoid mistakes.

4. Offensive line

I think backup Jah Reid is still on the bubble, despite playing a lot during preseason. The Ravens aren’t likely to cut fifth-round pick Robert Myers, which puts backup lineman Ryan Jensen on the bubble as well. Jensen (concussion) is not expected to play, so this is a big game for Reid.

5. Defensive line

Christo Bilukidi, Kapron Lewis-Moore, and DeAngelo Tyson are all fighting to secure roster spots. I think it comes down to Bilukidi and Lewis-Moore. Both of them should see plenty of action.

MORE RAVENS: John Harbaugh on the difficult recovery for TE Dennis Pitta

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Ravens sign Crabtree to three-year deal

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Ravens sign Crabtree to three-year deal

The Baltimore Ravens have signed WR Michael Crabtree to a three-year deal on Friday according to general manager and executive vice president Ozzie Newsome.

The deal is apparently worth $21 million, according to Adam Shefter.

After being released by the Raiders Thursday following the signing of Jordy Nelson, Crabtree heads to the Ravens less than 24 hours later.


The 31-year-old is coming off a 2017 season when he recorded 58 receptions for 618 yards and eight touchdowns. In 2016 he posted 89 receptions for 1,003 yards and eight touchdowns.

Since 2015, the Texas Tech product has scored 25 receiving touchdowns, the fifth-most in the NFL. Crabtree and Steelers WR Antonio Brown are the only NFL players to post at least eight touchdown catches in each of the past three seasons.


In all, Crabtree has played nine NFL seasons – six of them with San Francisco (2009-14) and three with Oakland (2015-17). The former first-round draft pick (10th overall, Texas Tech) has registered 579 receptions for 6,870 yards (11.9 avg.) and 51 touchdowns in 125 career games (122 starts).

“Michael has played very well against the Ravens, so we know firsthand the attributes he brings to the game,” Newsome said in a team statement. “He is a smart, tough, physical receiver who battles for the ball. We like his temperament and believe he is a good fit for our football team, on and off the field.”

Since he entered the NFL in 2009, Crabtree’s 51 receiving scores rank 10th among active wide receivers, while his receptions (579) are seventh, and his receiving yards (6,870) are 12th.

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Ryan Grant's health issue and why the Ravens couldn't control voiding his contract

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Ryan Grant's health issue and why the Ravens couldn't control voiding his contract

The most obvious move in the NFL this offseason was the Ravens signing a new wide receiver (or three). It was less obvious why the team decided to commit so much money to former Redskins receiver Ryan Grant.

Grant has long been beloved by his coaches and teammates, but the results have never been there on game day. He has some potential to improve if given a larger role in a team's offense, which he likely would have had in Baltimore, but it never made much sense to offer him a 4-year contract worth nearly 30 million, with $14.5 million guaranteed.

Thankfully for fans who were uninspired by the reported agreement, Grant was unable to pass his physical and will not be joining the team.


At a press conference Friday morning, GM Ozzie Newsome called the void a "medical decision" that Newsome had no control over. 

NFL insider Ian Rapoport reported that Grant is recovering from a Grade 2 sprained ankle that would need two months rest.

You have to feel for Grant, who by all accounts has worked his tail off for many years just waiting for his chance. It's never easy missing out on nearly $15 million dollars guaranteed, but Grant should be able to find work with another team.

The timing of this news, coming so soon after former Raider Michael Crabtree became available, seemed fishy to some.

At Friday's press conference, Newsome also said the team would have still pursued Crabtree if they signed Grant. 

It's probably not fair to suggest that an NFL franchise would actually so publicly back out of a deal just because another option came along, as any team with that reputation would struggle to attract future free agents. That said, it could end up working out splendidly for the team.

Besides, if all else is equal, shouldn't a team located in Baltimore be going after a guy named CRABtree?