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Second-year players primed to make big jump


Second-year players primed to make big jump

NFL players often make a big jump from Year One to Year Two in the NFL. It makes sense, as these players, no longer rookies, are used to the routine, the speed, and the regimen of NFL life. Of course, it doesn't always happen -- Matt Elam and Arthur Brown both appeared to regress in their second year in the league.

Still, the Ravens this season will have a slew of players who will be counted on to make that jump. In fact, the success of the Ravens season could depend on it. Here are three such players:


TE Crockett Gillmore

True, the Ravens drafted tight end Maxx Williams in the second round, and Williams might be viewed as the long-term starter. But Gillmore will be called upon to play a large role in Marc Trestman's offense with Owen Daniels gone to Denver and Dennis Pitta's future still very much unknown. Gillmore was used mainly as a blocking tight end last season, but showed nice hands during OTA workouts, and Joe Flacco appeared to grow increasingly comfortable throwing to him. Gillmore made 10 catches for 121 yards and one touchdown in the regular season last year, and had two catches for 30 yards and a score in the playoffs. He should easily top those numbers this season.

DL Timmy Jernigan

Someone has to fill the huge void left by the trade of Haloti Ngata, and all indications are it will be Jernigan, who was dubbed the Ravens' "secret superstar" for 2015 by Pro Football Focus. The Ravens already got a sneak preview at the end of last season, when Jernigan filled in while Ngata served a four-game suspension. Jernigan finished with 23 tackles and four sacks as a rookie. "I definitely feel comfortable picking up where I left off at last year," Jernigan said after an OTA session earlier this month. "I feel really good. Everything is starting to seem kind of second nature to me. The biggest thing now is just to keep it going and building on top of what I did last year."

DE Brent Urban

At 6-7 and 295 pounds, it's easy to see why Urban could be a major factor for the Ravens this year. After missing all of his rookie season with an ACL injury sustained early in training camp, Urban, a fourth-round pick out of Virginia, is back and appears fully recovered. With veteran Chris Canty sitting out OTA workouts, Urban took a lot of reps with the first unit. Granted, he wasn't facing the No. 1 offensive line, but Urban's size, burst and wingspan were disruptive. Canty is back for his 11th season, but don't be surprised if Urban plays an increasingly large role at defensive end.

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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?