Quick Links

Returning punts may be added to WR Smith's plate


Returning punts may be added to WR Smith's plate

OWINGS MILLS - Coach John Harbuagh has not ruled out using wide receiver Steve Smith as a punt returner on occasion this season.

With Jacoby Jones departed to the Chargers, the returner’s job is wide open. The idea of giving Smith an opportunity with the ball in open space intrigues Harbaugh, particularly in key situations. Harbaugh believes the reward could outweigh the potential risk of injury.

“At some point in time, you put your best players on the field,” Harbaugh said. “Punt return is an opportunity in space to make a play, and guys like Steve Smith are pretty good at doing that. I like having our best players on the field as much as possible, but we’ll have to decide that. I don’t think it’s a given. We’ll have to pick our situation and see how we want to do it. We’re far from having that answer yet.”

Returning punts is OK by Smith, as long as he gets adequate blocking. He returned punts for a number of years with the Panthers, but stopped when he felt the blocking was not up to par.

“That’s what took me off it,” Smith said. “The blocking wasn’t there where it used to be. Basically, it’s kind of like going to a job, (and) they don’t want to pay you. We can’t pay you but we want you to work. No, I’m good.

“Blocking is essential. So with the good blocking, it’s really easy. It makes it very easy to focus on catching the ball.”

Smith said the idea of returning punts again intrigued him.

“I’ve been out there practicing,” Smith said. “I think I’ll do it at least once or twice, so I’m excited about doing it.”

If Smith does return punts, the kind if excitement he can create is what the Ravens are looking for.





Quick Links

Ravens sign Crabtree to three-year deal

USA Today Sports Images

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.

Quick Links

Ryan Grant's health issue and why the Ravens couldn't control voiding his contract

USA TODAY Sports Images

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?