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Ravens' OTA camps: a primer


Ravens' OTA camps: a primer

Tuesday marks the beginning of the Organized Team Activity (OTA) season for the Ravens. They will hold voluntary midweek camps for their veterans and rookies in each of the next three weeks, leading up to a mandatory full-squad minicamp in mid-June.

These behind-the-scenes sessions were lost during the work stoppage of 2011. The players can take them or leave them, but the coaches love them, using them to work on fundamentals and introduce changes to the playbook.

As usual, there will be plenty to monitor as the Ravens go through their paces at Owings Mills. Here are five questions to bear in mind:

Does Ray Rices absence matter?

The running back is withholding his services while his agent seeks a longterm contract extension, and in a sense, its no big deal. The Ravens arent worried if Rice is staying in shape and they know he understands the offense. But hes an emerging leader and the team would like him in camp, focused strictly on the upcoming season. In the meantime, backs such as rookie Bernard Pierce, Anthony Allen and Damien Berry will run with the starters, a huge opportunity for them.

Is Jimmy Smith ready to start?

One of the better training camp duels will be between Smith, the teams 2011 first-round draft pick, and Cary Williams, one of 2011s biggest surprises, for the starting cornerback spot opposite Lardarius Webb. Williams is coming back from hip surgery, and Smith played better and better during 2011 after overcoming an ankle injury. My money is on Smith to emerge.

How is the chemistry between quarterback Joe Flacco and new receiver Jacoby Jones?

The cap-strapped Ravens didnt shell out 7 million for Jones just to watch him run back kicks. They want him to contribute offensively as the No. 3 receiver, become a factor as a playmaking alternative to Anquan Boldin and Torrey Smith. Its what they tried to do with T.J. Houshmandzadeh and Lee Evans, with marginal success at best. Theyre hoping the younger (27) Jones clicks better with Flacco.

Whats happening at left guard?

The one vacancy on the offensive line has generated a lot of headlines and speculation. After initially trying to fill it with a veteran (Evan Mathis), the Ravens have decided that one of their young guys can get the job done. The candidates are Jah Reid, Kelechi Osemele and Gino Gradkowski. The starting job is there for the taking. May the best man win.

Hows the transition of the defensive front-seven going?

The unit has sustained major losses since the end of last season with Jarret Johnson and Cory Redding leaving via free agency and Terrell Suggs going down with an Achilles injury. Thats three new starters out of seven, quite a bit of change. The pressure is on linebackers Paul Kruger and Courtney Upshaw, and linemen Arthur Jones and Pernell McPhee. Do they rise to the occasion?

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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?