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Key players emerge for Browns


Key players emerge for Browns

Josh Gordon only had one catch for the Cleveland Browns when they met the Ravens for the first time. Sunday, when the AFC North foes rematch in Cleveland, the receiver will play a far more vital role.

So will Browns cornerback Joe Haden, who was serving a suspension from the NFL for taking a banned substance when they lost 23-16 on Sept. 27 in Baltimore.

That meeting represents the last solid performance for Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco, who threw for 356 yards. He has averaged less than 190 yards passing per game in his last three outings since then.

Having Haden there gives Cleveland more options if Flacco starts to find a groove, though that's no guarantee considering how inconsistent the Ravens' offense has been away from home.

Flacco opened the scoring with an 18-yard touchdown pass to Torrey Smith in the second quarter of that first game. While Smith is the big-play deep threat in Baltimore, it was Anquan Boldin who gave the Browns fits. He had nine catches for a season-high 131 yards in that game.

"We play a mixture of coverages," Cleveland coach Pat Shurmur said. "We'll play zone and man, and we pressure in different ways. You can't always just match Joe up, but if there is a receiver that we feel like warrants being matched, then of course we have the ability to do it."

Gordon, an undrafted rookie, had one catch for 16 yards and was easily forgettable. But he now leads the the Browns with 17 catches for a team-high 379 yards and four touchdowns. Gordon's totals tops all NFL rookies.

Injuries to key players and too many dropped passes by Cleveland's receivers has pushed him into the rotation. He has been referred to as "the kid from Baylor" several times this week because even the Ravens have trouble remembering his name.  The Browns have won two of their last three games after opening the season 0-5.

"Their receivers are getting better. The kid from Baylor is really improving and is becoming a big-play threat for them," Ravens coach John Harbaugh said. "They’re just a good, young team, and they’re on the rise.”

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Ravens' Eric DCosta not ruling out taking a quarterback at No. 16

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Ravens' Eric DCosta not ruling out taking a quarterback at No. 16

And with the No. 16 overall pick in the 2018 NFL Draft, the Baltimore Ravens select.... a quarterback?

Assistant general manager, and soon to be general manager, Eric DeCosta isn't ruling out the possibility that the Ravens use their first-round pick on drafting a quarterback to eventually replace Joe Flacco. 

"I feel like if there is a guy there that we think is really too good to pass up, we're going to take him," DeCosta told the team's website on the chance of draft a quarterback in the first-round. 

Quarterback is just one of many offensive needs for the team. Joe Flacco's stats have been trending downward as the 33-year old is entering his 11th season.


Owner Steve Bisciotti though may disagree with DeCosta.

At his annual State of the Ravens press conference, Bisciotti said, "That’s not really something that we’re worried about right now. We’ve got bigger fish to fry, I guess. I don’t consider that a big worry," in regards to looking at life after Joe. Bisciotti also noted the team would be looking at all options in free agency and the draft for weapons for their QB.

From the sound of that, it appears the team's first choice would be a wideout, but the Ravens haven't drafted a quarterback since Joe Flacco back in 2008. 

The 2018 NFL Draft class has a handful of strong quarterbacks to choose from and not a ton of first-round wide receivers. 

Former Ravens scout, Daniel Jeremiah of NFL.com has predicted the team with take Oklahoma's Baker Mayfield in the first-round. 

"It basically depends on our evaluation and how we feel about the guy, what we think he can become as a player and what we think his upside is and if he's there," DeCosta said

Backup Ryan Mallet is a free agent so the organization will have to find someone to fill the role, whether it's someone on a one year-deal, or the future QB of the franchise. 


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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.