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How Baltimore's gamble could soon pay big dividends

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How Baltimore's gamble could soon pay big dividends

Will Hill is part of the reason I expect the Ravens to have a much-improved safety tandem this season.

Hill and Kendrick Lewis give the Ravens two athletic safeties that can cover territory and make game-changing plays. After signing a two-year contract Thursday, Hill smiled when asked about the chemistry he has built with Lewis during the offseason.

“To me, I think we’re a deadly combo because we compliment each other so well,” Hill said. “I can play in the box and play deep, and he can do the same thing.”

The Ravens opened last season with Darian Stewart and Matt Elam starting at safety. That did not work out as planned. Stewart had a disappointing season with the Ravens, and signed with the Broncos during free agency. Elam struggled as well, and eventually lost his starting job. Now with a torn biceps suffered in training camp, Elam may not play at all in 2015.

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However, the Ravens feel confident about the safety position, with Hill and Lewis starting, and second-year player Terrence Brooks making a speedy recovery from knee surgery. Lewis was a typical free agent signing by Ravens general manager Ozzie Newsome – not flashy, but shrewd. Lewis has already started 66 NFL games with the Texans and Chiefs, and he has nine career interceptions. At age 27, Lewis is in his prime years.

The same is true with Hill, who is just 25. He came to the Ravens last season with plenty of baggage and plenty to prove, having been hit with his third NFL suspension. There are never any guarantees, especially for a player with Hill’s background. However, after missing the first six games of 2014, Hill’s play steadily improved. More importantly, he seems to have improved as a person. Newsome is in the winning business, and he would not be investing in Hill if not convinced he has matured.

“I talk to Ozzie every day, and Mr. (Steve) Bisciotti (Ravens owner) – we have good conversations,” Hill said. “They mingle with my family, so everybody is really family-oriented around here.”

The Ravens have never questioned Hill’s talent. He is a punishing hitter who can cause turnovers, a point of emphasis with the Ravens’ defense this season.

When the Ravens signed Hill last year, it was a gamble. However, all signs point to Hill making that gamble pay off.

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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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