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O-line: Tough task keeping Flacco safe


O-line: Tough task keeping Flacco safe

In the aftermath of last weekend's debacle -- the Ravens' fourth consecutive victory -- overshadowed by the abysmal run defense is the improved play of the offensive line.

Quarterback Joe Flacco only was sacked once against the Dallas Cowboys. In the two previous games, Flacco was taken down eight times.

A key adjustment was veteran Bobbie Williams being inserted into the starting lineup at left guard in place of Ramon Harewood. It was Williams' first start as a Raven since he was acquired as a free agent.

Sunday, the Ravens travel to play the Houston Texans and dominant defensive end J.J. Watt, who stands 6-foot-5 and can singe-handedly change a game with his ability to get to the quarterback and knock down pass attempts.

"He does everything. He's big, he's powerful. He's athletic, quick. If you could point to one thing it would just be his motor," Ravens center Matt Birk said. "You got to block the whole play and then some. He's certainly not the only guy they have. They put four guys in there to rush the passer, all those guys are capable of getting there. It's tough to single out one guy."

Right guard Marshal Yanda marvels at the Texans, too.

"They're just a really talented front, Watt and Smith and them guys in the inside. They're damn good players," Yanda said. "Especially Watt. He's so tall with long arms. He can bat the ball down. They're teaching that and it definitely helps. They're just good at it.

"They'll be one of the best fronts we'll see all year. It seems like we say that every week, but it's a different animal every week."

Keeping Flacco free from Watt is a priority. If he has time to pass, he can exploit a Texans secondary that allowed 338 passing yards and six touchdowns in a 42-24 loss to the Green Bay Packers last week.

"There's batting down passes, hits on the quarterback, just getting in the quarterback's face so he can't step, follow through, that affects the passing game," Birk said of Houston's defense. "You get a feel for when the ball is coming out. They have great instincts and great sense to stop and get their hands up to affect it in other ways.

"Nobody has done that great a job against them. It's not like there's a blueprint, but we'll prepare hard like we always do."

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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?