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Secondary ignores controversy over Welker

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Secondary ignores controversy over Welker

A lot is being made of Wes Welker's role with the New England Patriots.

Welker, who is playing under a one-year franchise tag after failing to work out a deal during the offseason, has eight catches for 109 yards through two games.

Sounds reasonable?

It does. Except last season, Welker had an NFL-high 122 catches for 1,569 yards. He had eight catches for 160 in the 2011 opener alone. He had 15 for 241 yards after two games.

This season, Welker has spent a lot of time on the bench in an offense that emphasizes two tight ends, including in a 20-18 loss to the Arizona Cardinals last week. Welker finally got on the field when tight end Aaron Hernandez got hurt.

Coach Bill Belichick was curt when asked about Welker's role and limited playing time and blew off questions earlier this week.

Quarterback Tom Brady is spreading the ball around to more targets. Now he has Brandon Lloyd in the mix. The Patriots also recently re-signed Deion Branch, who was among the final cuts before the season began.

The moves point to less Welker and more of everyone else.

"Last year we had some pretty good passing statistics to (Rob) Gronkowski and Hernandez and Welker and Branch," Brady said. "That's what good offensive football is -- not really jam it into one player -- but trying to find the open guy and make a good throws."

Just to be safe, the Ravens are assuming Welker will play a major role in Sunday's game.

"It has nothing to do with us whether he's there or not," Ravens cornerback Cary Williams said Friday. "We're still preparing the same way."

The Ravens will use a lot of nickel packages -- five defensive backs -- to combat the Patriots, who flood the field with receivers. Even without Welker being used as much, they attack in similar fashion.

"They haven't changed. That's part of their offense and something they do," Williams said. "They want to spread you out. That's fine. We're ready for that."

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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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