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Spotlight on: Paul Kruger

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Spotlight on: Paul Kruger

(One of a series of articles exploring the status of individual players on the Ravens as the 2012 season approaches.)

You could argue that no player on the Ravens is under more pressure in 2012 than Paul Kruger. Maybe Joe Flacco, but that's about it.

Crucial questions abound as Kruger, a fourth-year linebacker, becomes a starter for the first time in the wake of Jarret Johnsons departure for San Diego and Terrell Suggs Achilles injury.

Has Kruger really developed into a three-down defender who can set the edge of a run defense as well as rush the passer?Can he become enough of a presence in the pass rush to held hold the levees until Suggs returns?

Well see.

A year ago, the Ravens wondered if Kruger even had a future in Baltimore. He had struggled to gain traction in his first two seasons after joining the team as a second-round pick in 2009. But he separated himself from the dreaded B-word (bust) in 2011 with a breakout performance that included 5.5 sacks in a specialist role.

When a starting job opened up ahead of him in March after Johnsons departure, Ravens coach John Harbaugh was as curious as anyone to know if Kruger really was ready to step up. Harbaugh said he went back and looked at the tape of every play of Krugers 2011 season.

Id be surprised if he doesnt rise to the occasion and have a heck of a year, Harbaugh said.

Asked directly if Kruger was ready to start, the coach said, He really is.

That was before Suggs went down in late April, adding to the pressure on Kruger. The Ravens need him to do more than just perform adequately as a first-year starter in 2012; they need him to make plays.

He looked solid as he ran with the No. 1 defense throughout the spring season of OTAs and minicamps, but the real test begins with training camp later this month and then the opening of the regular season in September.

Lets be clear: Im not Terrell Suggs. Were different players, Kruger said this spring. He was the best defensive player in the entire NFL last season. Im going to be the best I can be and I'll be working as hard as I can to fill the position.

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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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