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Ravens-Patriots preview


Ravens-Patriots preview

Ravens vs. Patriots
at M&T Bank Stadium, 8:20 p.m. NBC

The line: Ravens -3.

Last week: Ravens (1-1) lost 24-23 to the Philadelphia Eagles; Patriots (1-1) lost 20-18 to the Arizona Cardinals.

Series: Patriots lead, 7-1. Ravens have never won a regular season meeting.

Last meeting: Ravens lost 23-20 in AFC championship game on Jan. 22 in New England.

Burning question: Will the real offense stand up for the Ravens? Is it the one that posted 37 points in the opener vs. Cincinnati or the one that couldn't score a TD in the second half last week at Philadelphia?

Keys to victory on offense: RB Ray Rice only had 16 carries for 99 yards. He had 78 yards on seven carries in the first half alone, but the Ravens opted to pass in critical situations late in the game, including third-and-1 and fourth-and-1 on their final drive in Philadelphia territory. Both were unsuccessful. Using FB Vonta Leach and No. 2 RB Bernard Pierce more in the attack can help. The receiving corp had difficulty getting free against the physical, aggressive play of the Eagles' corners. They should have an easier time with the Patriots' secondary by stretching the field and opening the underneath routes for the running backs and TE Dennis Pitta.

Keys to victory on defense: The Ravens were significantly better against the run, holding the Eagles' LeSean McCoy to 81 yards on 25 carries, by limiting his ability to cutback with rookie LB Courtney Upshaw performing surprisingly well in the starting lineup. The Pats have Stevan Ridley, who had 125 yards in the opener and is averaging 5.0 yards per carry this season. One area where the Ravens have yet to prove adequate is in their ability to pressure the quarterback. Pats QB Tom Brady flourishes when he has time and can pick apart a secondary. T Haloti Ngata is the only Ravens lineman who has shown any consistency in this area. Plus, the zone coverage by the linebackers was terrible against Philadelphia as TE Brent Celek had a career high 157 yards receiving. Brady's favorite target is TE Rob Gronkowski, who set an NFL record for receiving yards at his position last year. If the coverage doesn't improve underneath, then getting to Brady off of his spot is even more imperative.

Wild card: Ravens rookie K Justin Tucker is 6-for-6. He hit from 48, 51 and tied a club record from 56 last week alone. The Ravens lost a chance to go to the Super Bowl when then-K Billy Cundiff misfired on a 32-yard FG. That's extremely unlikely to happen with Tucker.

Injury report: RAVENS -- Doubtful: T Jah Reid (calf); Probable: LB Paul Kruger (back), LB Jameel McClain (knee), DE Pernell McPhee (knee), T Michael Oher (ankle), S Bernard Pollard (ribs), CB Lardarius Webb (knee). PATRIOTS -- Out: DT Justin Francis (ankle), TE Aaron Hernandez (ankle); Questionable: C Dan Connolly (concussion), DE Brandon Deaderick (ankle) CB Alfonzo Dennard (hamstring), TE Daniel Fells (shin), WR Brandon Lloyd (thigh), G Logan Mankins (hip), C Nick McDonald (shoulder), CB Sterling Moore (knee), RB Shane Vereen (foot), T Sebastian Vollmer (back); Probable: S Patrick Chung (shoulder).

Prediction: Ravens 28-24.

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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?