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Serious questions await Pats' D, Ravens' O

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Serious questions await Pats' D, Ravens' O

The New England Patriots have put a better defense on the field as it has allowed only 264.5 yards per game, but they've faced limited offenses in the Tennessee Titans and Arizona Cardinals.

The Ravens' offense, which sputtered in a 24-23 lost the Philadelphia Eagles last week after thrashing the Cincinnati Bengals in the opener, is at a crossroads, too.

Which performance in the first two weeks represents these teams' actual identities on offense and defense?

Baltimore's rejuvenated receiving corp failed to get separation against the physical secondary of the Eagles as Joe Flacco only completed 22 of 42 passes against their Cover 1 scheme, using just one safety over the top to play the deep zone.

In the Patriots, the receivers will face a lot of Cover 2, which means safeties Patrick Chung and Steve Gregory playing the deep zones.

"In Cover 2, they have to slow you down and it kind of makes it tougher," said Torrey Smith, Baltimore's fastest player who only has four catches for the season. "They do a good job at putting their hands (on) you so we just have to work our technique."

With linebackers Jerod Mayo and rookie Dont'a Hightower, the Patriots still can stuff the run in Cover 2. They held Titans running back Chris Johnson to four yards on 11 carries and Cardinals runner Beanie Wells to 44 yards on 14 carries.

Ray Rice has 167 yards on 26 carries, which is better than six yards per carry this session.

In last year's AFC title game, Rice gained just 67 yards on 21 carries. In a 2010 regular season matchup, it took 28 carries for Rice to get 88 yards.

Smith being able to stretch the field would go a long way in loosening up the Patriots' defense.

"I'm not panicking at all," Smith said. "I haven't had the ball thrown too many times my way. It's not that I'm not open or Joe is not looking for me it's just the progression at times. We'll get there."

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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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