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Rookies face tougher test this week

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Rookies face tougher test this week

For the first few weeks of their NFL careers, rookies have had their chance to shine, moved up the depth chart by the absence of many veteran players. But now, veterans who skipped the voluntary OTAs will be back on the field this week.

The Ravens begin their three-day mandatory minicamp today at the Under Armour Performance Center in Owings Mills. It will be the last work for the team before training camp begins in late July.

It could be an enlightening three days for Ravens players and coaches. Rookie outside linebacker Za'Darius Smith blew by a couple of fourth-string tackles during an OTA drill. But what happens when he faces veteran Eugene Monroe, who skipped the OTAs? If Smith blows by Monroe as well, what does that say about Smith? Or Monroe, for that matter? Will Smith still look just as explosive when on the same field as Elvis Dumervil and Terrell Suggs? The Ravens certainly hope so.

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Jimmy Smith will probably remain limited as he recovers from a foot injury, but cornerback Lardarius Webb should be back on the field. It will be interesting to see how rookie Breshad Perriman stacks up against Webb in 1-on-1 situations.

The other major difference between OTAs and minicamp will be the interior of the offensive line. Pro Bowl guard Marshal Yanda and center Jeremy Zuttah sat out all the OTA workouts, and Kelechi Osemele missed some of them. It's unclear whether Zuttah, recovering from offseason hip surgery, will be in action. But rookie defensive lineman Carl Davis should get his first chance to go head-to-head against Yanda, likely the best guard he'll square off against all season.

For rookies, the past six weeks or so have been essentially a crash course in NFL life, soaking up the playbook and routine and trying to make a good first impression. Now with the full squad assembled for the first time, coaches should get a much better idea of where those rookies stand.

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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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