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Return job still up for grabs

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Return job still up for grabs

The Ravens top kickoff returner last year was benched for a month after some problems with fumbles, and then ended the season on injured reserve. His top backup is now in Indianapolis. The top punt returner is also the top cornerback, so his role on special teams could be limited.

Thats one reason why the Ravens entered this offseason with major questions in the return game, part of a special teams unit that performed well below coach John Harbaughs expectations last season.

The Ravens seemingly made a major move to upgrade the return game when they signed former Texans wide receiver Jacoby Jones. Though he had one very costly turnover on a return against the Ravens in the playoffs last season, Jones ranked 13th in the league in punt returning last year with an average of 10.6 yards and one touchdown. He also has 64 kickoff returns for a 23.3-yard average and one touchdown over his five-year career.

Speaking to the media at training camp on Saturday, Ravens special teams coordinator Jerry Rosburg said he could see Jones serving as a dual return threat, though that would depend on his role in the offense.

I think we'll see how much he is playing on offense, Rosburg said. If he is playing a lot, he may be doing both, but he may not be doing every rep with both.

The Ravens primary kick returner last season, David Reed, averaged 29.7 yards over 18 returns. But he lost the job for a month after fumbling three times in a two-week span. Then he suffered a season-ending knee injury on Christmas Eve and remains sidelined as he recovers from surgery.

Lardarius Webb handled most of the Ravens punt return duties last year, averaging 10.0 yards, with one touchdown. But with his role increasing in the secondary, the Ravens seem less enthused about putting their top shutdown corner on the return team.

Webb, though, said he would like to be on the punt return unit occasionally, and Rosburg said Saturday that, I envision Lardarius being one of our returners.

The preseason, though, always gives lesser-known players the chance to make their mark. LaQuan Williams saw action in both return roles last preseason, though that didn't translate to much action during the regular season.

A couple of rookies to watch this preseason are receiver Deonte Thompson, who has burner speed, and rookie cornerback Asa Jackson, a record-setting return man at Cal Poly.

During the preseason, Rosburg said, "You're going to find a lot of those young returners with opportunities. It gets to the point of the game in preseason in the second half and then, 'OK, it's your turn. Go show us what you can do.'

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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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