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Ravens report card: Defense, special teams


Ravens report card: Defense, special teams

We've already graded the offense after the Ravens last-second win over St. Louis. Now it's time to grade the defense and special teams. At least no defensive players suffered season-ending injuries, so there is that. ... The report card, please.


Brandon Williams continues to play at a Pro Bowl level. He was a beast again, with seven tackles and a forced fumble. Led by Williams and Timmy Jernigan, the Ravens made Todd Gurley work for every inch of his 66 rushing yards. Jernigan finished with four tackles and Lawrence Guy had a fumble recovery, and they also brought pass pressure up the middle.


Courtney Upshaw had perhaps his best game of the season, and his first sack in the past two years was one of the game's biggest plays, as it led to a turnover and set up the Ravens for their game-winning field goal. Upshaw finished with five tackles and a fumble recovery in addition to the forced fumble. C.J. Mosley (12 tackles) also had one of his best games of the season. Elvis Dumervil had just three tackles but kept Case Keenum under pressure all day, and Albert McClellan had a fumble recovery.


The Ravens were fortunate that Case Keenum couldn't hit open receivers, because they were out there at times. Kendrick Lewis had six tackles to lead the secondary. Jimmy Smith's 49-yard pass interference penalty was the Rams best offense all day. But other than that flag, this group avoided yielding the big play for the second straight game.


Justin Tucker missed two more kicks from 51 yards, and the seemingly automatic Tucker is just 2-for-7 this season from 50-plus yards. Not so automatic. Still, he did rebound to deliver the game-winning 47-yarder. Kaelin Clay was a nonfactor in his debut as the Ravens punt returner (three for 5 yards), but Raheem Mostert continues to show some promise on kick returns. The Ravens blocked a kick for the fourth straight game, as Lawrence Guy got a hand on a Rams extra-point kick. The Ravens coverage units again were hurt by penalties -- including three on one play.

RELATED: Ravens report card for the Rams game: Offense

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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?