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Ravens CB Williams mounts impressive salary drive

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Ravens CB Williams mounts impressive salary drive

OWINGS MILLS, Md. (AP) It was with no small amount of angst that cornerback Cary Williams declined a $15 million, three-year offer from the Baltimore Ravens during the past offseason.

Williams thought he was worth more. And lately, it's looking like he might be right.

After playing in 42 NFL games without an interception, Williams has picked off four passes in his last five games. He leads the AFC in interceptions, and his efficient play has taken some of the sting out of the loss of injured cornerback Lardarius Webb.

``He's a guy that I really believe in,'' Ravens coach John Harbaugh said of Williams. ``Cary is a competitor. Cary is a fighter. Cary wants to do well so badly, and he's kind of an emotional guy. That's one of the things that I love about him.''

Williams, 27, took a rather unconventional route to the Baltimore defensive backfield - beginning with his trip out of Liberty City, the Florida neighborhood where he was born and raised.

``It's one of the murder capitals in the world. It's dark and there's not a lot of hope,'' Williams said Wednesday. ``You see people getting killed, friends dying over drugs and gang violence. It's a struggle to get through.''

Williams then played two seasons at Fordham and two at Washburn University in Kansas before being selected in the seventh round of the 2008 draft by Tennessee.

He spent the majority of his first season on the Titans' practice squad before being signed by the Ravens in late November 2009. After first being used almost exclusively on special teams, Williams started all 16 games last year.

In August, he spurned Baltimore's three-year contract offer, taking the chance that he will be worth more to the Ravens - or another team - next year.

``I felt like I was worth more. I felt like I brought a lot of the table,'' Williams said. ``There were a lot of third (string) corners that were getting more than that. In my eyes, I felt like I deserved a lot better. I think I played up to that billing thus far in the season.''

Lately, yes he has. Not so much in September, especially in a game against New England in which Tom Brady repeatedly picked on Williams instead of throwing on Webb's side of the field.

Brady ``made me a better player,'' Williams said. ``I'm not perfect. Some days, guys are going to have better games than you. I understand that's part of growing up, I'm a younger guy. I haven't had much game experience until last season. I want to put my best foot forward. Fortunately for me, I've been doing it the last few weeks.''

The trend started immediately after the New England game, when Williams took his first NFL interception 63 yards for a touchdown in a 23-16 win over Cleveland. He followed that with pickoffs against Kansas City and Dallas, then came up empty at Houston before intercepting a pass last weekend in Cleveland.

Williams hopes to keep the momentum going Sunday when the Ravens (6-2) host Oakland (3-5).

``People can say it's the contract negotiations or he's going into his last year, whatever, but Cary is a focused football player,'' Ravens safety Bernard Pollard said. ``People have said all sorts of crazy things about him, people have dogged him, but nobody understands that he's his worst critic. We're his worst critic. We want greatness from everybody.''

Williams isn't motivated by money. He wants to be an exceptional football player, and if he achieves that goal he will be paid accordingly.

``Fifteen million dollars is a great deal and it's a wonderful opportunity,'' he said. ``But at the end of the day, my scope has never been small. I take that from days I grew up in Liberty City. I want to continue to strive for more and greater things.''

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Ravens vs. Texans: Date, time, TV channel, live stream, how to watch

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USA TODAY Sports

Ravens vs. Texans: Date, time, TV channel, live stream, how to watch

The Ravens are hosting Monday Night Football for the first time since 2012, when they welcome the Houston Texans to town.

The Ravens are coming off a much needed win against the Green Bay Packers, where the defense forced five turnovers and lifted the Ravens into the sixth and final wild card spot in the AFC. 

Not only did they regain playoff positioning, the defense got their third shutout of the season.

It even earned linebacker Matthew Judon AFC Defensive Player of the Week.

The 4-6 Texans have been struggling since losing rookie quarterback Deshaun Watson. However, they did just end a three game losing streak with a 31-21 win over the Arizona Cardinals. 

The Ravens defense will be busy keeping an eye on wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins. Hopkins has 879 yards on the season for 9 touchdowns. The Texans are also ranked sixth in the league in rushing yards. Will they be able to keep that momentum going?

The Ravens and Texans have met nine times with the Ravens leading the series, 7-2. 

Week 12 Ravens vs. Texans Game Info:

Who: Baltimore Ravens vs. Houston Texans

What: Week 12 NFL regular season 

When: 8:30 p.m. ET, Monday, Nov. 27, 2017

Where: M&T Bank Stadium, Baltimore, MD

TV Channel: ESPN

Live Stream: fuboTV

Radio: WBAL New Radio 1090 

Point Spread: Baltimore, -7

Over/Under: 38

Weather: 41 degrees, clear skies

BALTIMORE RAVENS 2017 REGULAR SEASON SCHEDULE:

Week 1 (Sun, Sept. 10): 20-0  at Cincinnati Bengals (W)

Week 2 (Sun, Sept. 17): 24-10 vs. Cleveland Browns (W)

Week 3 (Sun, Sept. 24): 44-7 vs. Jacksonville Jaguars (in London) (L)

Week 4 (Sun, Oct. 1): vs. Pittsburgh Steelers, 1:00 p.m. (L)

Week 5 (Sun, Oct. 8): at Oakland Raiders, 4:05 p.m. (W)

Week 6 (Sun, Oct. 15): vs Chicago Bears, 1:00 p.m. (L)

Week 7 (Sun, Oct. 22): at Minnesota Vikings, 1:00 p.m. (L)

Week 8 (Thur, Oct. 26): vs. Miami Dolphins, 8:25 p.m. (W)

Week 9 (Sun, Nov. 5): at Tennessee Titans, 1:00 p.m. (L)

Week 10 (Sun, Nov. 12): BYE week

Week 11 (Sun, Nov. 19): at Green Bay Packers, 1:00 p.m. (W)

Week 12 (Mon, Nov. 27): vs. Houston Texans, 8:30 p.m.

Week 13 (Sun, Dec. 3): vs. Detroit Lions, 1:00 p.m.

Week 14: (Sun, Dec. 10): at Pittsburgh Steelers, 8:30 p.m.

Week 15: (Sun, Dec. 17): at Cleveland Browns, 1:00 p.m.

Week 16: (Sat, Dec. 23): vs Indianapolis Colts, 4:30 p.m.

Week 17: (Sun, Dec. 31): vs. Cincinnati Bengals, 1:00 p.m

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Former Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis named semifinalist for Pro Football Hall of Fame 2018 class

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USA TODAY Sports

Former Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis named semifinalist for Pro Football Hall of Fame 2018 class

Former Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis has been named a semifinalist for the Pro Football Hall of Fame 2018 class. 

Lewis, who is in his first year of eligibility, made the first set of cuts from 108 candidates to 27. 

First-year eligible players included on the semifinals list with Lewis are defensive back Ronde Barber, guard Steve Hutchinson, linebacker Brian Urlacher, wide receiver Randy Moss and defensive lineman Richard Seymour.

RELATED: THREE THINGS WE'VE LEARNED ABOUT THE RAVENS THIS SEASON

12 offensive players, 13 defensive players and two coaches made the cut. However, there are no quarterbacks on the list.

All ties for the 25th spot also advance. 

In January, members of the Hall of Fame committee will then narrow the modern-era list down to 15. Nominees must receive 80 percent "yes" votes to make the cut.

The selection committee will then meet for a final time on February 3, the day before Super Bowl LII, to select the 2018 class. 

RELATED: LEWIS CLAIMS RAVENS DIDN'T SIGN KAEPERNICK AFTER GIRLFRIEND'S TWEET

Lewis and Moss are considered shoo-ins.

Lewis played his entire 17-year career with the team after the Ravens drafted him 26th in the 1996 draft. During his 17 years, he won two Super Bowls, won Super Bowl XXXV MVP, was named to 13 Pro Bowls, a seven-time First-Team All-Pro, was a two-time Defensive Player of the year winner, won eight Defensive Player of the Week awards, played in 228 career games, made 1,336 tackles, had 41.5 sacks and 31 interceptions.

Players must be retired from the league for five years to be eligible for the Pro Football Hall of Fame.