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Rookies brace for big stage on MNF


Rookies brace for big stage on MNF

A season opener on Monday Night Football and a division game doesn't get much more high profile in the NFL. While this is nothing unusual for veterans, it is new territory for rookies.

If rookies thought their first preseason game against the Atlanta Falcons was a big deal, wait until they're in the national spotlight against the Cincinnati Bengals.

Running back Bernard Pierce, the No. 2 running back, is a rookie. So is Bobby Rainey, who is third, and trying to work his way into playing time through special teams.

"It's more focus now becuase it's the regular season. I go into it the same as I always been," Rainey said of the difference in his preparations. "I'm going to prepare how I've been preparing. That's what's got me here."

That's what center Matt Birk, in his 15th season, would suggest.

"The stage is a little bit bigger and things get a bit more pumped up but at the end of the day its just football," said Birk, who at some point will share offensive line duties with rookie guardtackle Kelechi Osemele. "Its still the same whether youre out there on the practice field or preseason. The fundamentals dont change. Nothing changes in the game. Its just all the external stuff that you can't focus on."

Receiver Jacoby Jones, in his sixth season but first in Baltimore, is the No. 2 receiver behind Torrey Smith. Jones has rookie Deonte Thompson behind him. They were brought in to add depth to a receiving corp that was a major weakness last season.

"You teach a rookie to learn to get yourself into a routine. That's how you become a vet," said Jones. "Every morning, I've got the same routine. Once you get yourself going it makes it easy for you. It's easy on your body. That's what you try to teach those guys."

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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?