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Mack Brown: 'He never missed a critical kick'


Mack Brown: 'He never missed a critical kick'

Indeed, Justin Tucker has range.

The undrafted rookie out of Texas not only won the starting job with the Ravens because of his stronger and more accurate leg but he also comes with a different vibe. He beat out Billy Cundiff, who was a veteran and in the Pro Bowl just two seasons ago.

"I got a chance to celebrate and call everyone in my family and a few of my good friends from school and let them know some good news," Tucker said Monday in his first remarks since winning the job over the weekend. "Right after that you have to put your head down and get right back to work."

One of those people Tucker communicated with was longtime Longhorns coach Mack Brown, who recruited him out of Westlake High School in Austin. Tucker's versatility stands out.

"I've text his dad a number of times and I text back and forth with Justin. We're really proud of him and know he'll do a great job for the Ravens," Brown told CSNBaltimore on Monday. "He's smart. Very smart. He's full of spirit and energy. He can rap and he can sing opera. That tells you the range of personality he has."

Really, Tucker does. He was a music recording technology major and auditioned to get accepted into his major by performing opera. He rapped with his Longhorn teammates.

More importantly, Tucker can kick. He not only was more accurate than Cundiff throughout training camp but he had the stronger leg. In last week's game vs. the Jacksonville Jaguars, Tucker nailed a 53-yarder with plenty of room to spare.

"He's in great shape. He was an outstanding receiver and defensive back at Westlake High School on top of being a kicker so he's a very good athlete. He never missed a critical kick for us," Brown said of Tucker, who made 40 of 48 field goals (83.3) for Texas and never missed a fourth-quarter field goal. "When it got down to a tough kick he always made them. At the same time we had him punting, he can regular punt, he can rugby punt. We had him kicking off and we had him doing field goals and extra points. We really wore him out."

Speaking earlier in the day, Tucker maintains he has never dealt with adversity as a kicker, which seems inevitable in the NFL and especially the AFC North with outdoor winter conditions in Pittsburgh, Cleveland and Cincinnati.

"I've never really had any major lows, or at least I wouldn't tell myself that I'd had any," Tucker said. "Just keep it simple and take one kick at a time. That's all you can do."

The first part of his comment mirrored what Brown said: "He's so confident if he had a rough spot he wouldn't think that. He'd work himself through it. He's a very tough guy mentally."

And what about the pressure? Cundiff cracked under it when he missed 32-yarder that would've sent last season's AFC Championship Game vs. the New England Patriots. Harbaugh said that wasn't a factor in choosing Tucker instead.

"We brought Billy back. If it had been, he wouldn't have been back," Harbaugh said. "We had confidence. Billy kicked well. Billy could very easily be the kicker here."

Brown is not concerned about Tucker under pressure. Tucker hit a 40-yarder as the clock expired in the final game of a long-held rivalry.

"The media here is like a pro media. We're considered like the pro team, from a media standpoint and exposure standpoint. We're like an NFL team in Austin," Brown said. "He kicked a last-second field goal to beat A&M in the last game of the rivalry at their place in front of 86,000 Aggies. It doesn't get much bigger than that if you're really looking at the pressure. He's more than prepared."

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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?