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Secondary focused on more turnovers this year


Secondary focused on more turnovers this year

In an 11-on-11 drill at Ravens training camp on Saturday, Joe Flacco threw a deep pass down the middle, and cornerback Lardarius Webb made a nice, leaping interception.

The Ravens are counting on Webb and the other defensive backs to make that kind of play more often this season. It didn't happen nearly enough last year.

How bad was it? Defensive tackle Haloti Ngata tied for the team lead in interceptions with two, and no defensive back had more than one. The Ravens finished with 11 interceptions, tied for the fewest in franchise history, and five of those came from Ngata, linebacker C.J. Mosley (2) and Daryl Smith (1).

"Obviously, we have to get picks. That’s huge," cornerback Jimmy Smith said on Friday.

Smith had one interception last season in eight games before missing the second half of the season with a foot injury. But as Smith emerged as the Ravens top corner, teams actively looked to stay away from him, driving his interception chances down.

Others did not pick up the slack.

Through the first nine games last year, Smith was the only defensive back with an interception. Webb, who missed three of the first four games last year, did not have an interception until Week 16.

If healthy, those two figure to start at cornerback, but the  Ravens have added two veteran defensive backs -- safety Kendrick Lewis and cornerback Kyle Arrington -- with some ball skills. Each has nine career interceptions, and Arrington tied for the NFL lead with seven in 2011.

True, the Ravens don't have a ball-hawk extraordinaire like Ed Reed anymore, but the Ravens have a potentially outstanding pass rush once again after recording 49 sacks last year, tied for second-most in the league. When they pressure the opposing quarterback into a mistake, the secondary must make him pay.

"We need to create turnovers," coach John Harbaugh said after Friday's workout. "We need to be a defense across the board that people fear in the sense that you want to throw the ball out there, there’s a good chance it’s going to come back the other way. You have to have that from your back 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?