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Steelers target improvement in red zone

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Steelers target improvement in red zone

Too often for their liking last season, the Pittsburgh Steelers offense acted like the high-performance sports car that sputtered and stalled when it was time to pull away from a traffic light.

The Steelers were second in the league in total yards in 2014, but ranked lower in red-zone performance. According to Football Outsiders, they ranked eighth in efficiency inside the 20-yard line and 19th in success rate at just under 52 percent, as computed by TeamRankings.com.

Offensive coordinator Todd Haley said the team needs to address the drop-off in the red zone.

"I think it's an area of emphasis for us," Haley said, as reported by ESPN.com.

To that end, the Steelers are working on short-yardage packages during organized team activities.

“When we get down in there tight, where football gets tough, we have to get the ball in the end zone, whether it’s running or throwing it,” Haley said.

But most of all, Pittsburgh can’t afford to come away with nothing. Settling for a field goal still is preferable to putting up zero points, which Haley recalled happened 10 times last season.

"We have a very good kicker [Shaun Suisham]," Haley said. "Really, how we changed our mentality, once we hit the 35 in decent weather conditions, we have to assume we have a chance to get three points. If we don't end up with at least three, then we’ve hurt ourselves. Too many times last year [zero points] occurred for different reasons, whether it was a turnover or sack. Those add up surprisingly quick."

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Dez Bryant turned down multi-year deal from Ravens, is banking on himself in 2018

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USA TODAY Sports

Dez Bryant turned down multi-year deal from Ravens, is banking on himself in 2018

If you want to sign Dez Bryant in 2018, it will have to be on a one-year deal.

The 29 year-old wide receiver turned down a multi-year offer from the Baltimore Ravens in hopes of finding a one-year deal that enables him to test the open market again in 2019, Ed Werder of The Doomsday Podcast first reported.

Bryant - who finished 2017 with 69 receptions, 838 yards and six touchdowns -  is predicating a bounce back season in 2018 with hopes of a big money, long-term contract in 2019.

The offer was similar to that of Michael Crabtree's three-year, $21 million deal, according to NFL Insider Ian Rapoport. The Ravens had to offer Bryant a multi-year deal in order to fit his number under the salary cap.

Since turning down their offer, the Ravens signed former Saints WR Willie Snead to a two-year, $10.4 million contract. 

Bryant will now have to wait until after the 2018 NFL Draft to work out a deal with an organization, if one is still searching for a wide receiver going in to the tail end of his career. 

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Ahead of NFL Draft, Ravens add to wide receiver corps with Willie Snead

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USA TODAY Sports

Ahead of NFL Draft, Ravens add to wide receiver corps with Willie Snead

OWINGS MILLS, Md. -- Receiver Willie Snead has bid farewell to the Saints, which means New Orleans apparently won't match the contract the Baltimore Ravens offered the restricted free agent.

Eager to add a target for quarterback Joe Flacco, the Ravens on Friday offered Snead a two-year, $10.4 million contract. The Saints had five days to match the deal. Snead indicated Monday on Twitter that he's headed out of New Orleans.

Snead tweeted: "What I'm going to miss most is the men in the locker room & the coaches."

He added: "Even though I'm sad to go, I'm even more excited for the next chapter in my life. I can't wait to strap it on as a Baltimore Raven."

Hampered by a three-game suspension and a hamstring injury, Snead was limited to eight catches for 92 yards last year.

In 2015, he had 69 receptions for 984 yards. He caught 72 passes for 895 yards in 2016.

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