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It's official: Ravens glad to see regular refs


It's official: Ravens glad to see regular refs

When referee Gene Steratore brought the captains to midfield for the pregame coin toss before the Ravens faced the Browns at M&T Bank Stadium on Thursday night, he greeted the players saying, Good evening, men. Its good to be back.

That elicited a loud cheer from the crowd, which had greeted Steratore and the rest of his seven-man crew with a standing ovation when they first took the field.

It might have been the first standing ovation ever given to an officiating crew, but the fans were clearly showing their appreciation for the return of the regular NFL officials, who had been locked out of the first three games of the season in a labor dispute.

I think this was a little bit different in the sense that we were actually recognized and part of the story before the game, which is not something were used to, Steratore said. Its not something that we look to do.

To just be applauded by 50,000 people prior to anything happening, it was something that kind of chokes you up, he added. It was a very special feeling.

Once the game began, Steratore and his crew maintained control and the flow of the game in a way that the replacement officials struggled to do throughout their brief tenure.

It was smooth, Ravens center Matt Birk said. Thats what these guys do. Theyre NFL refs because theyre the best.

The honeymoon ended, to a degree, when Bernard Pollard was called for unnecessary roughness in the third quarter, drawing a shower of boos. Another unnecessary roughness penalty, on Paul Kruger for shoving Browns tackle Joe Thomas, gave the Browns an extra play at the end of the game.

But on confusing plays, Steratore called crew members together and decisively made rulings. The ball was spotted correctly. Penalty yardage was properly assessed. All those things failed to happen consistently with the replacement officials.

Im glad we got to the point where (the lockout) was settled, because the game, as we saw, was suffering, linebacker Ray Lewis said.

The Ravens were whistled for 11 penalties for 100 yards, but youd hardly know it listening to coach John Harbaugh afterward.

Good to have em back, Harbaugh said. These guys are pros. These guys are really good. The communication was good. Didnt agree with every call. They were excellent. Gene Steratore does a great job communicating. The guys on our sideline did a great job.

Added running back Ray Rice: Nobodys perfect, but obviously the way the game was called, we have the integrity of the game back.

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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?