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Some Ray Lewis better than none


Some Ray Lewis better than none

No Ray Lewis hasn't been much of a problem.

The Ravens are 4-1 this season without the linebacker, who went out Oct. 14 with a torn triceps.

Last season, with Lewis gone with a turf toe injury, the Ravens went unbeaten. That’s 8-1 total.

Lewis’ return is on the horizon next month, but given how well the defense has been playing exactly how does he fit back in the mix?

Jameel McClain has filled his shoes in the middle, quarterbacking the defensive calls. Dannell Ellerbe, who left Sunday’s 16-13 overtime win at the San Diego Chargers in the second quarter with a foot and ankle injury, starts at weakside linebacker but has played that spot, too.

Defensive coordinator Dean Pees also has done a masterful job at shuffling personnel to compensate for injuries along a front that hasn’t had Pernell McPhee, Haloti Ngata, Terrence Cody and Ma’ake Kemoeatu for a total of nine games since Lewis’ injury.

"We’re committed to fundamental football," said Ravens coach John Harbaugh, making a point to credit Pees. "We’ve put some packages together that have put guys in position to do the things they do best. But to me, that’s peripheral to the fact that we’re attacking the line of scrimmage better, we’re taking on blocks better, we’re tackling much better, our underneath coverage is much more disciplined and the eyes in the back end are getting better and better every week. We’re just playing better football."

At times, Pees has moved Ngata, a tackle, to the outside and put Arthur Jones, a defensive end, inside. Jones had two sacks against the Chargers from that spot. He has shifted where linebacker Terrell Suggs lines up. Linebacker Paul Kruger has flouished, registering sacks in three consecutive games. 

Much was made about Lewis before his injury as the Ravens defense struggled particularly against the run.

It was said Lewis was too slow, had trouble shedding blocks and was too frequently chasing plays in his 17th season.

But given the Ravens’ constant shuffling because of injuries, they can’t have too much depth.

The way Harbaugh spoke Monday, if Lewis’ triceps are properly healed he’ll get his share of snaps. But how many?

Lewis played all 71 defensive snaps in a 9-6 win at the Kansas City Chiefs when they allowed 214 yards rushing. In a 31-29 win vs. the Dallas Cowboys, the game when Lewis was injured in the fourth quarter, he played 76 of the snaps as the Ravens gave up a record 227 yards on the ground.

Harbaugh might want to tread carefully when it comes to altering his defense’s chemistry. Opponents have scored just 19.9 points per game in November.

Maybe Lewis gets his starting job back, but plays a reduced number of snaps to keep the Ravens fresher and more unpredictable as Pees has more options.

"Having him on your team can only make you better," said CSN analyst Brad Jackson, who played for the Ravens from 1999-2001, and acknowledging that McClain, Ellerbe and the like have benefitted and earned time, too. "The guys that are second-tier guys are now getting reps in games and they’re becoming better football players. That is going to help you down the road."

Couple that with Lewis' intangibles and come playoff time the Ravens' defense could be playing less like its No. 24 ranking today and more like its No. 2 ranking from a year ago when they advanced to the AFC title game.

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Fellow dance student of Ravens' Alex Collins fatally shot in Florida school shooting

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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.


“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

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.