Quick Links

Six players to watch in Ravens vs. Steelers


Six players to watch in Ravens vs. Steelers

PITTSBURGH – Some star power will be missing from the Steelers-Ravens rivalry Thursday night, with Ben Roethlisberger and Terrell Suggs injured. However, here are six players to watch who should play prominent roles:

Le’Veon Bell, Steelers running back

Bell was injured back in January, when the Ravens beat the Steelers in the playoffs. He’s one of the best backs in the NFL, teaming with backup De’Angelo Williams to give the Steelers a one-two punch that could be difficult for the Ravens to deal with.

Jimmy Smith, Ravens cornerback

After being worked over Sunday by Bengals wide receiver A. J. Green, Smith needs to have a short memory and play up to his standards. Smith says his confidence has not been shaken. We will find out in this game.

RELATED: Ravens' Jimmy Smith won't make excuses after tough two weeks

Antonio Brown, Steelers wide receiver

Brown is elusive once he makes the catch, and his ability to get open makes him a difficult cover. Shoddy tackling by the Ravens’ secondary has been a problem. The Ravens can’t afford to let Brown explode on them the way Green did.

Steve Smith, Ravens wide receiver

Coming off a scintillating 13-catch performance Sunday, Smith is the Ravens’ best offensive weapon right now. Playing two games in four days will test his 36-year-old legs. But when the lights come on, Smith always responds. Anyone who thinks the Ravens lack leaders isn’t paying close attention to Smith. He’s playing with passion.

“He made some plays in that game the other night that he had no business making, getting us some first downs he had no business getting,” said Ravens defensive coordinator Dean Pees of Smith.  “That’s a guy making a play, being determined and having unbelievable confidence in his ability.”

Michael Vick, Steelers QB

Vick is the X-factor in this game, replacing the injured Roethlisberger. History shows that Vick will make things happen, but not all of it may be good for the Steelers. If Vick avoids careless mistakes, the Steelers’ offense will be tough to contain. But a few turnovers from Vick could turn this game in the Ravens’ direction.

Maxx Williams, Ravens TE

With Crockett Gillmore (calf injury) out, second-round pick Williams becomes the primary pass-catching target at tight end. Flacco loves throwing to tight ends, but this is Williams’ first taste of the Ravens-Steelers rivalry. Will he rise to the occasion or falter?

MORE RAVENS: Keys to beating the Steelers




Quick Links

Ravens sign Crabtree to three-year deal

USA Today Sports Images

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.

Quick Links

Ryan Grant's health issue and why the Ravens couldn't control voiding his contract

USA TODAY Sports Images

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?