One thing that many people have seemingly missed when talking about the defense this season is the fact that are some pockets of it that are very young and inexperienced. That's one reason the defense is having problems.
Simply put, they're going through some growing pains.
Players like Terrence Cody, Art Jones, Pernell McPhee, Jimmy Smith, Paul Kruger and Cary Williams all have had their bad moments. No question about that. The defensive line isn't nearly as strong in terms of stopping the run as they've been in the past or putting pressure on the passer. That's a fact that the coaches all have admitted.
The other thing that I wonder about is what will happen in the second half of the season. Younger players who are suddenly thrust into a bigger role sometimes need some time to find their way. A big question will be if these more inexperienced guys whom the Ravens expected so much from this year can step up and become a force.
They're forces at times but often burned at others. Last year, Smith struggled as a rookie early on. Later in the season, he really came on. But this year, he's struggled again. The Ravens need all of these guys on defense to play consistent football. Can that happen all at once this year or will the coaches make moves to change who's on the field when.
Coach John Harbaugh preached patience when speaking with the media earlier this week. The Ravens still have a 1 1/2-game lead over the Steelers and a two-game edge over Cincinnati. They've got room and some time.
"The key is reacting, but not over-reacting – understanding that there is opportunity in this whole thing, that it’s a 16-game season, that it’s a tough league, and if you get so enamored, self-centered around your own situation, then you kind of miss the forest for the trees," Harbaugh said. " And this is just part of the process of building a football team."
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.”
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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