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Pagano anxious about returning to Baltimore


Pagano anxious about returning to Baltimore

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) Colts coach Chuck Pagano is already ditching his doctor's advice.

Instead of scaling back his workload, he figures he'll work overtime getting ready for this week's playoff game.

One day after the cancer-beating coach found out he and his team were headed to Baltimore for the AFC's wild-card round, the former Ravens defensive coordinator acknowledged he would spend more time than usual meeting with Indy's offense and special teams to tell them everything he knows.

``My doc said be prudent, if you remember, but I may not be prudent this week in spending a lot of time in a lot of different areas in trying to get as much information out as I possibly can and help where I can,'' Pagano said Monday. ``Again, these guys, they've got the tape and they will be able to study it from a scheme standpoint what we need to do to go win a football game.''

If they need any additional insight, Pagano can provide it.

He spent three seasons as Baltimore's secondary coach and 2011 as the team's defensive signal-caller, giving him intricate knowledge about one of the league's most feared defensive units. He spent four seasons going head-to-head against quarterback Joe Flacco in practice, and as a former special teams coach, he took an interest in that phase of the game, too.

That's more information than the Ravens (10-6), or any team, would like an opponent to have. And unlike the financial world, there are no rules in the NFL barring insider trading.

Sure, some of the names and faces in Baltimore have changed since Pagano took the Indy job last January, but he's been around long enough to know what hasn't.

``If I tell you, I might as well call (Ravens coach) John (Harbaugh) and tell him exactly what I'm telling our guys and then they may go and change everything,'' Pagano said with a sly smile after being asked what advice he would pass along.

``I can sit down and watch some tape with anybody on the offensive side of the ball, with the coaches, and if there's some questions that need to be answered based on coverages, and fronts, and techniques, and personnel and things like that, than obviously having spent the last four years there, I would be crazy not to spend some time with them.''

If Pagano does need to take a break, there will be no shortage of fill-ins.

Safeties coach Roy Anderson and special teams coordinator Marwan Maalouf followed Pagano from Baltimore to Indy during the offseason, Colts linebackers coach Jeff FitzGerald was in charge of the Ravens' linebackers from 2004-07 and offensive coordinator Bruce Arians has gone round and round against Baltimore's defense over the past decade while working in Cleveland and Pittsburgh.

Indy also can get intricate details from some ex-Ravens players. In an effort to speed up the defensive learning curve in Indy, the Colts (11-5) brought in defensive tackle Brandon McKinney, starting defensive end Cory Redding and starting safety Tom Zbikowski. McKinney is on season-ending injured reserve.

All of that additional knowledge could help Andrew Luck and more than two dozen other Indy players better prepare for their first NFL playoff game.

``They're a great team,'' Luck said of the Ravens after beating Houston in Sunday's regular season finale. ``Obviously, Coach Pagano knows more about them than I do so lean on him if that's who it ends up being, but obviously a historic defense. I know the Baltimore Colts moved to Indianapolis so it'll be interesting. But I've heard it's a tough and hard place to play.''

The mental chess match is only part of this week's story line.

On Sunday, Pagano celebrated an emotional win after returning to the sideline for the first time since being diagnosed with leukemia in late September.

This week, he'll relive the emotional part all over again by returning to a city that befriend his family and facing a team that put him in position to become a head coach for the first time.

Pagano isn't the only one thinking about the significance of this weekend's reunion.

``Chuck's like a dad to me,'' Ravens safety Ed Reed said after Baltimore's loss in Cincinnati. ``He means a lot to me. I would have much rather seen them in the AFC championship game than the first game.''

Harbaugh, meanwhile, is just eager to see Pagano back at work and ready to go.

``It will be great. It's something that, in this profession is a big deal,'' he said Monday. ``Relationships are important. But by the same token, it's a game and they're the opponent.''

An opponent that heads into the playoffs with three wins in its last four games, is playing with a purpose and has a decided advantage when it comes to details.

``I'll be able to share quite a bit with our football team. A lot of intangible things, things that they won't be able to get from the video, just having the time that I spent there,'' Pagano said. ``I'll be able to share some of those things and be able to give them some stuff again that they wouldn't normally be able to get.''


Associated Press Sports Writer David Ginsburg in Baltimore contributed to this story.


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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?