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The unsung heroes of special teams


The unsung heroes of special teams

Jacoby Jones rightfully gets most of the credit for his electrifying returns, including his 63-yard punt return touchdown that sparked the Ravens to their 13-10 win over the Steelers at Heinz Field on Sunday night.

But there are 10 other men on the return team, and as Jones will quickly point out, they are critical to Jones' success.

"The boys set the wall for me," he said after the game Sunday night.

Those are the unsung heroes of this team, and they had a huge hand in the win over the Steelers seeing as Jones' score was the only time the Ravens found the end zone.

For a player on the so-called roster bubble in August, his work on special teams often dictates whether he will earn an NFL paycheck. And the play of the return unit this year has validated the roster choices made by general manager Ozzie Newsome and the Ravens, as well as the schemes drawn up by coach John Harbaugh and special teams coordinator Jerry Rosburg.

A more thorough look at that punt return score -- the first in the regular season against the Steelers in Heinz Field history -- shows just how big a part was played by the guys whose names don't usually show up in the headlines or box score.

Jones explained that Rosburg called for a left return, and after Jones fielded the punt, he hesitated for a moment, "so they could get down and get on their blocks."

In that time, Sean Considine to the inside and Josh Bynes to the outside sealed off their opponents and created a huge running lane for Jones, who shot through the gap.

"Josh Bynes did a great job of pushing his guy off when I got inside," Jones said.

Jones proceeded virtually untouched the rest of the way, thanks in part to a hit by Albert McClellan and a punishing block by James Ihedigbo.

Reserve safety Anthony Levine, called up from the Ravens' practice squad earlier in the week and playing in his first NFL game, also was a factor, as he picked off cornerback Cortez Allen at the Steelers' 37-yard line as Jones cut to the right.

From there, it was a footrace to the corner of the end zone between Jones and Steelers punter Drew Butler. No contest.

After his franchise-record third return touchdown of the season, Jones was doing all the dancing, but make no mistake: Role players on the return unit such as Considine, Bynes and Levine deserve some dancing shoes, too.

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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.