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Ravens switching to natural grass next season at M&T

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Ravens switching to natural grass next season at M&T

OWINGS MILLS -– The playing surface at M&T Bank Stadium will be switched from artificial to natural grass next season, and the move is being endorsed by both Ravens players and coaches. 

While the organization is not linking this season’s rash of injuries to the current playing surface, players generally believe that playing on grass is easier on their legs and less hazardous. Quarterback Joe Flacco, running back Justin Forsett, and wide receiver Steve Smith all suffered season-ending injuries during home games this season.

“With my surgeries that I’ve had, I can tell after the game if I’ve played on that hard turf or have played on grass,” cornerback Lardarius Webb said following Friday’s practice. “It’s a black-and-white difference.”

Webb said players were consulted about the change before the decision was made.

“I’m a veteran around here, I’ve been here a couple of years,” said Webb, now in his seventh season with the team. “I was kind of involved in the process. They kind of brought some of the leaders together and asked them. I’ve got my opinion in it and threw it in. They kind of made an organizational decision and I thought it was a great decision.”

The Ravens already have natural grass on their outside fields at their practice facility. Most Ravens players prefer practicing outside, regardless of the temperature, rather than on the indoor field that has an artificial surface. 

The Ravens practiced indoors all this week with the heat turned up, trying to simulate Sunday’s game temperature in Florida when facing the Dolphins. Webb said his legs could tell the difference, and he added that he believed playing on grass was safer.

“I just walked off practice and I can tell the difference,” Webb said. “We’re looking at the numbers. They say injuries happen more on turf than on grass. Simple as that.”

Ravens coach John Harbaugh said he looked forward to playing on grass for home games next season.

“My thoughts are, I think it’s great,” Harbaugh said. “To me, it’s Baltimore. It epitomizes what Baltimore is all about, the history of football in Baltimore.

“In terms of the way our stadium is configured, it doesn’t get a lot of sun, so that was something that was a big consideration, as far as the turf originally. But our grounds people have done a great job of researching it, and they feel like they have the type of grass now that can thrive there.”

Asked if he lobbied for a grass field at home, Harbaugh smiled and said, “I may have.”

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Fellow dance student of Ravens' Alex Collins fatally shot in Florida school shooting

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USA Today Sports

Fellow dance student of Ravens' Alex Collins fatally shot in Florida school shooting

On Wednesday, February 14, a horrific school shooting claimed the lives of 17 innocent people at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla. 

The tragic event impacted people far and wide, and hit especially close to home for Ravens running back Alex Collins.

The former Arkansas star was born in Plantation, Fla., a suburb of Fort Lauderdale and went to high school just 15 miles south of Douglas High School. 

In the offseason, Collins took Irish dancing lessons to improve his footwork, and following the act of terror, the Ravens' tailback learned that one of his dance partners had been killed in the mass shooting.

17-year-old Cara Loughran attended The Drake school of Irish Dance with Collins in addition to two other Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School students and was fatally shot by the gunman on Wednesday afternoon. 

Collins took to his Twitter account to issue this heartfelt message.

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“The school shooting yesterday hit home,” Collins wrote.

“We received confirmation a few hours ago we lost one of the girls, Cara Loughran. Two other girls saw and experienced unspeakable tragedy. My heart goes out to these girls, all their families and their teacher Chrissy.”

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Baltimore Ravens to take on Chicago Bears in Hall of Fame game

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USA Today Sports

Baltimore Ravens to take on Chicago Bears in Hall of Fame game

BALTIMORE -- The Baltimore Ravens and Chicago Bears will launch the NFL's 99th season by playing in the annual Hall of Fame game on Aug. 2.

The Ravens' first appearance in the Hall of Fame game, which launches the league's 2018 Enshrinement Week. Former Baltimore linebacker Ray Lewis is among the inductees, along with former Bears linebacker Brian Urlacher.

Lewis, who played 17 seasons with the Ravens, and Urlacher, who played all of his 13 seasons with Chicago, both were elected on the first ballot.

Lewis joins Jonathan Ogden as the only Ravens in the Hall of Fame. Both were selected by Baltimore in the first round of the 1996 draft.

The other members of the Class of 2018 include Bobby Beathard, Robert Brazile, Brian Dawkins, Jerry Kramer, Randy Moss and Terrell Owens. All will be inducted on Saturday, Aug. 4.

This will be the record-tying fifth time that the Bears will play in the Hall of Fame game. They won the previous four, most recently 27-24 over Miami in 2005.

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