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Five takeaways from Ravens' preseason opener


Five takeaways from Ravens' preseason opener

What should we make of the Ravens’ preseason opener?

From the Ravens’ perspective, the positives far outweighed the negatives. They got the victory, 30-27, over the Saints. They got a solid game from all three quarterbacks, including third-stringer Bryn Renner, who scored the game-winning touchdown and led the final drive.

Here are my five takeaways from the 2015 Ravens’ first game:

1. The young tight ends answered the bell.

Crockett Gillmore started and displayed his improvement as a receiver (two catches, 17 yards).  Rookie Maxx Williams (two catches, 36 yards) delivered a highlight, barreling over Saints’ defenders to get a key first down. And rookie Nick Boyle (four catches, 25 yards) showed potential to be a reliable backup. The Ravens looked young and deep at tight end. That’s a good combination, and another example of general manager Ozzie Newsome’s ability to draft.

2. The Ravens must find reps for receiver Michael Campanaro if he stays healthy.

Campanaro gets open, he has sure hands, and he’s an elusive runner after the catch. On his 45-yard touchdown reception, Campanaro read the coverage, adjusted the route, and eluded a would-be tackler on his way to the end zone. Campanaro should put up nice numbers if he plays 16 games.

3 .Offensive coordinator Marc Trestman may be at the right place at the right time.

Trestman won’t go deep into his playbook until the regular season. But after a disappointing two-year run as the Bears’ head coach, Trestman seems back in his element.  He is an experienced play-caller, and with the Ravens he has a strong offensive line, a championship-caliber quarterback in Joe Flacco, and a 1,000-yard back in Justin Forsett. The potential for a potent offense is there.

“I thought Marc did a really interesting job of the way he called the plays,” Ravens head coach John Harbaugh said. “It was all based off the run game and a lot of play passes and things like that. The biggest thing I noticed was execution.”

4. Kyle Arrington showed his potential to play safety if needed.

Signed as a free agent from the Patriots, Arrington’s strength is as a nickel corner. But he took reps at free safety Thursday night, with the starters not seeing much playing time. Kendrick Lewis has looked good in practice as the starter, as has Will Hill as the starter at strong safety. With Arrington providing depth and versatility, the Ravens’ revamped safety rotation could be much improved.

5. The Ravens’ front seven depth could be a question mark.

Once the starters left, the Ravens’ defense suffered up front. Rookie outside linebacker Za’Darius Smith had the Ravens’ only sack. Rookie defensive tackle Carl Davis played most of the game and got into the backfield fairly consistently. However, with Haloti Ngata and Pernell McPhee gone, and Brent Urban injured, the Ravens’ front seven rotation will need Davis, Smith, and others to make an impact, or the pass rush and run defense could suffer. 

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Ravens sign Michael Crabtree to three-year deal

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Ravens sign Michael Crabtree to three-year deal

The Baltimore Ravens have signed wide receiver 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 Schefter.

After being released by the Raiders on 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 wide receiver 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?