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Ravens Training Camp Recap: Day 1 news and notes

Ravens Training Camp Recap: Day 1 news and notes

It's only the first day of training camp and so much has already happened for the Ravens.  

Here are all the news and notes from Day 1 of the Baltimore Ravens training camp in Owings Mills, Md.

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Joe Flacco out with disk issue:

The Ravens starting QB wasn't in attendance for the first day of camp due to a disk issue in his back. Coach John Harbaugh told the media he is expected to only miss one week.

John Harbaugh: "I guess it's been something that's been bothering him for a week or two. He didn't say anything about it, wasn't really that bad. It flared up a little bit, went and saw a back specialist. So, they're recommending about a week of rest. They say that should take care of it. I guess with the back you can always say, 'we'll see'. But, all indications from a back specialist are that he should be fine in about a week and that's what we'll be hoping for and praying for." Harbaugh said he had no idea that Urschel was considering retirement and that he had attended workouts all summer. He called the decision a "personal decision."

Eric Weddle: "Joe's gonna be back. We're not worried about how long is he going to be out. He's one of the toughest guys on the team. He'll be leading us out whenever he wants to come back."

Jeremy Maclin: "This is football man, stuff like that happens. I think the most important thing right now for Joe is to get healthy. We gotta roll with what we got."

Danny Woodhead: "I think Joe's played a few years, so I think he'll be able to figure it out. I think it's going to be ok. He's a professional, he knows how to throw the football, he knows how to read defenses, so I think that's going to be ok."

John Urschel announces his retirement:

The Ravens' guard made the phone call to coach John Harbaugh around 6:30 this morning to inform the team he wouldn't be returning. 

John Harbaugh: "That was something that's been on his mind for quite a while throughout the offseason. That's what he decided to do. We respect John tremendously. Probably the rest of it's for him to answer." Harbaugh said he had no idea that Urschel was considering retirement and that he had attended workouts all summer. He called the decision a "personal decision."

Eric Weddle: It's unfortunate. Obviously Ursch is a great dude, competitor, great teammate. You know, it's unfortunate but that's his decision. As a team, and as a leader, you can't worry about the outside or what individuals do per say. We're gonna go out and play with who we have and move forward. We wish him the best and know he's going to do great things in his future but it's not with us, so we gotta move forward.'

Danny Woodhead: Honestly, Ursch is a great dude. That was his decision. Obviously, we support him. Great guy and that's what's best for him."

Overall takeaways of Day 1 of camp: 

It's only the first day, but the coaches and players are liking what they are seeing.

John Harbaugh: "I thought it was an outstanding first day of training camp. You know, the guys were good. I thought they did a good job. They pressed through, it's a little muggy and it's new for them. They gotta get their sea legs underneath themselves a little bit, and they did a good job of it. I'm proud of the way they practiced. Tight ends are all healthy, you saw that. Ben Watson's out there practicing. We've got all those guys healthy. Not ruling out another tight end to give us another set of legs."

Eric Weddle: " First practice, great. There weren't many repeats, efficient, both sides making plays, competing. It was a great start, especially on the back end and as a whole. It's a long process.  [We're] just trying to reiterate, you know, to get the most out of today, don't worry about tomorrow, don't worry about last night, what's going on at home or what you cant control. We want to be locked in everyday. We can't have a day when you're not focused and not giving it your all."

Jeremy Maclin: "I'm excited, man. I'm excited from a personal standpoint but also from a team standpoint. You know, everybody's kinda been saying this is a good group and a very, very talented group. So, I'm excited about us building that chemistry and taking the proper steps to become a successful football team.

Danny Woodhead: "It's good. Offseason was great and getting that time to prepare in the summer was really good too. Now it's here, it's been a long time coming. From the day I signed to offseason workouts beginning. It's an exciting time for us."

Marlon Humphrey: A little tiring. I don't know if we practiced three hours back in college. It was fun. I like that one on one thing, I like the competitiveness. I think that's a a big part of this team; the competitive nature, big game like battles. That's going to happen in games a lot. First practice went pretty good, a little winded, I think everybody's a little winded. I think it went good."

Expectations for the camp/season:

The time to set goals for the season is now.

Jeremy Maclin: " I think we (Wallace, Perriman and himself) should expect to be the best trio in the league. That's what we should expect and work for. You look at all three of us, and we all add something different to the table. We're also three guys who have the ability to do it all. I think that's what everyone should expect from us, and that's what we're going to work towards."

Marlon Humphrey: "For me, just to get better. There are a lot of things I want to work on, so I'm just trying to learn the defense, get myself better, and hopefully be a part in this team winning games."

Other notes:

— The team signed Bobby Rainey. Harbaugh said it has been in the works for quite some time and they may have signed him even if Kenneth Dixon didn't get injured.

— Jeremy Maclin passed his conditioning test on second try. Harbaugh said he was close the first time but, "close doesn't count in conditioning tests."

— Tight end Maxx Williams was fully participating after having a rare knee operation.

 

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NFL Playoff Picture: Predicting the AFC playoff bracket heading into Week 15

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USA Today Sports

NFL Playoff Picture: Predicting the AFC playoff bracket heading into Week 15

Week 14 has come and gone and the regular season is almost over.

With another week finishing, the playoff picture shifts and the bracket alters, if ever so slightly.

And while to no surprise the Pittsburgh Steelers and New England Patriots are sitting atop of the AFC, the wild card spots are still very much up for grabs. 

With three weeks to go, AFC teams have a lot to play for.

Let's take a look at all the possibilities. Let's take a look at the AFC Playoff Picture.

RELATED: NFC PLAYOFF PICTURE AFTER WEEK 15

AFC PLAYOFF BRACKET PROJECTION:

— #1 Pittsburgh Steelers (11-2) vs. BYE

— #2 New England Patriots (10-3) vs. BYE

— #3 Jacksonville Jaguars (9-4) vs. #6 Buffalo Bills (7-6)

— #4 Kansas City Chiefs (7-6) vs. #5 Tennessee Titans (8-5)

AFC Playoff Picture Week 15

PITTSBURGH STEELERS (#1 seed)
— Record/Division Record:
11-2/5-0
— Remaining Games: @Patriots (10-2), @Texans (4-9), vs. Browns (0-13)
— Playoff Scenarios: The Steelers sit atop of the AFC playoff picture and clinched the AFC North with their 39-38 win over the Baltimore Ravens.

Now they are fighting for home field advantage for their likely divisional round game against the New England Patriots.

Coincidentally, their next matchup is against Tom Brady and the Patriots. Needless to say, their Week 15 game will be an important one.

NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS (#2 seed)
— Record/Division Record:
10-3/3-1
— Remaining Games: @Steelers (11-2), vs. Bills (7-6), vs. Jets (5-7)
— Playoff Scenarios: To everyone's surprise, the Patriots lost Monday night to the Miami Dolphins. You read that right, the Miami Dolphins.

Sitting in the second seed, this lost could mean a lot or a little depending on what they do Sunday against the Pittsburgh Steelers.

It's highly doubtful that the Pats will allow back-to-back losses on home turf, but if they do they'll be fighting to keep the second seed to the Jacksonville Jaguars. The Jags are hosting the Texans, which should be an easy win.

Sunday's game is a big one for the Patriots. 

JACKSONVILLE JAGUARS (#3 seed)
— Record/Division Record:
9-4/3-1
— Remaining Games: vs. Texans (4-9), @49ers (3-10), @Titans (8-5)
— Playoff Scenarios: If someone told you at the beginning of the season that the Jacksonville Jaguars would be the third seed in the AFC playoff picture, you probably wouldn't believe them. 

The Jaguars could have clinched a playoff berth Sunday with their win over the Seattle Seahawks and some help from a couple other teams.

They didn't get that help, but they did take control of the AFC South. On their tail is the 8-5 Tennessee Titans who still have to face the 49ers, Rams and Jaguars.

The AFC East title may not be decided until Week 17.

KANSAS CITY CHIEFS (#4 seed)
— Record/Division Record:
7-6/3-1
— Remaining Games: vs. Chargers (7-6), vs. Dolphins (5-7), @Broncos (4-9)
— Playoff Scenarios: The Chiefs' season has be filled with ups and downs.

They currently have the same record as the Los Angeles Chargers, but win the tie breaker based on head-to-head win percentage for the AFC West division title. The two will meet in Week 15 and just like the Patriots, a win is crucial for both. 

The Chiefs then face the 10th seeded Miami Dolphins and the already eliminated Denver Broncos. The Chargers still have to face the Jets and Raiders, and with the team on a four game winning streak, a lot could happen.

TENNESSEE TITANS (#5 seed)
— Record/Division Record:
8-5/4-1
— Remaining Games: @49ers (3-10), vs. Rams (9-4), vs Jaguars (9-4)
— Playoff Scenarios: The Titans are a mediocre team and if they want to keep their playoff spot, they're going to have to work for it. The 49ers should be a win, but then they face the red-hot Rams and a tough Jaguars defense.

With several AFC teams on the rise, the Titans are going to have to be on point for the remainder of the season if they want to keep their wild card spot.

BUFFALO BILLS (#6 seed)
— Record/Division Record: 7-6/1-2
— Remaining Games:
vs. Dolphins (5-7), @Patriots (10-2), @ Dolphins (5-7)
— Playoff Scenarios: Right now, the Bills would win a three way tie breaker with the Baltimore Ravens and Los Angeles Chargers for the sixth and final playoff spot based on strength of victory and win percentage in conference games.

The Bills should win two of the next three, but the Ravens are likely to win their next three.

Either way, it's going to be a race to the finish line for both of them.

RELATED: UPDATED 2018 NFL MOCK DRAFT 3.0

AFC WILD CARD PICTURE:

7. BALTIMORE RAVENS
— Record/Division Record: 
7-6/2-2
— Remaining Games: @Browns (0-13), vs. Colts (3-10), vs. Bengals (5-8)
— Playoff Scenarios: The Ravens basically need to do their job and get three easy wins and they should secure a wild card spot.

Of course the Bills still have an easy remaining schedule and the Chargers have won their last four. At the moment though, the Ravens win a tie breaker over the Chargers based on win percentage in conference games.

A wild card spot for the Ravens looks easy and they are certainly in control of their own destiny. 

8. LOS ANGELES CHARGERS
— Record/Division Record:
7-6/2-2
— Remaining Games: @Cheifs (7-6) , @Jets (5-8), vs. Raiders (6-7)
— Playoff Scenarios: Sunday's game against the Cheifs is a big one for the Chargers.

They're on a four-game winning streak, but a win is crucial if they want to remain in the hunt for the AFC West title. The Jets are 5-8 and should be an easy win for the Chargers and the 6-7 Raiders are just behind them in the rankings but don't pose too much of a threat.

Sunday's game will determine a lot for this team.

9. OAKLAND RAIDERS
— Record/Division Record:
6-7/2-3
— Remaining Games: vs. Cowboys (7-6), @Eagles (11-2), @Chargers (7-6)
— Playoff Scenerios: Things aren't looking good for the Raiders as they are in third in the AFC West and are facing the Cowboys, Eagles and Chargers over the next three weeks.

It doesn't seem as if there are any scenerios that would help them make the post season.

10. MIAMI DOLPHINS
— Record/Division Record:
6-7/2-2
— Remaining Games: @Bills (7-6), @Cheifs (7-6), vs. Bills (7-6)
— Playoff Scenerios: The Dolphins are coming off a big win against the New England Patriots, but their season looks pretty dim moving forward.

With a tough remaining schedule, their playoff hopes seem far fetched. While they have the same record as the Raiders, Oakland wins a tie breaker based on head-to-head win percentage.

11. NEW YORK JETS
— Record/Divison Record:
5-8/2-3
— Remaining Games: @Saints (9-4), @Chargers (7-6), @Patriots (10-3)
— Playoff Scenerios: Being the 11th seed in anything isn't good and with your remaining opponets being the Saints, Chargers and Patriots, you might as well call it a season now. 

12. CINCINNATI BENGALS
— Record/Division Record:
5-8/2-3
— Remaining Games: @Vikings (10-3), vs. Lions (7-5), @Ravens (7-6)
— Playoff Scenerios: Just like the Jets, the Bengals don't have a fighting chance with their remaining schedule and being third in the AFC North.

Eliminated

Houston Texans, Denver Broncos, Indianaplos Colts, Cleveland Browns

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Steelers clinch AFC North with tight win over Ravens

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USA Today Sports

Steelers clinch AFC North with tight win over Ravens

PITTSBURGH -- Ryan Shazier was everywhere. His helmet rested on the Pittsburgh Steelers' bench. His jersey too. His face and #Shalieve stitched on specially-designed cleats. His familiar No. 50 printed in white in the middle of a gold circle on T-shirts worn by teammates searching for a way to let Shazier know he is never far from their mind as he recovers from a spinal injury that put the linebacker's blossoming career in jeopardy.

Shazier may never play football again. That doesn't make him any less of a Steeler. And the men who have taken so much from him over the last three-plus years decided it was time they gave him something back in return: the AFC North title he ordered them to lock down without him.

Chris Boswell made a 46-yard field goal with 42 seconds left and Pittsburgh's defense overcame a shaky night without their most dynamic player to shut down Baltimore's last-gasp drive and hold on for a 39-38 victory on Sunday night to capture their third division title in the last four years.

"We are riding with that guy," head coach Mike Tomlin said of Shazier. "He is strong. He is strengthening us."

Looked like it.

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The Steelers (11-2) trailed by 11 points going into the fourth quarter but capped an emotionally draining week to rally for their eighth straight victory, one they couldn't wait to share with Shazier, who joined the giddy postgame celebration via Facetime.

Ben Roethlisberger threw for 506 yards and two touchdowns, becoming the first quarterback in NFL history to top 500 yards passing three times. Antonio Brown caught 11 passes for 213 yards, including two long gains in the fourth quarter that allowed the Steelers to recover after blowing an early 14-point lead. Le'Veon Bell had 125 yards of total offense and scored three touchdowns .

"We can win a shootout against anybody," Bell said. "I feel like we can score points whenever we need to."

Good thing, because Pittsburgh might have to. The Ravens (7-6) rolled up 414 yards against the NFL's fourth-ranked defense and recovered from a slow start to score on five consecutive drives and six out of seven to take a 38-29 lead on Javorius Allen's second touchdown with 6:44 left.

Not much time against most teams. Far too much against the Steelers.

Roethlisberger and Brown, who is mounting a legitimate MVP candidacy, hooked up on a 57-yard connection set up an 11-yard sprint by Bell with 3:29 to go. The Steelers forced the Ravens into a three-and-out and Roethlisberger calmly led Pittsburgh within field goal range, including a 34-yard lob down the sideline to Brown that set up Boswell's winner.

RELATED: TONY JEFFERSON PAYS TRIBUTE TO SEAN TAYLOR

Baltimore's Joe Flacco threw for 269 yards passing with two touchdowns and one interception but was strip-sacked by rookie linebacker T.J. Watt on the Ravens' final snap.

"This one hurts," Ravens linebacker Terrell Suggs said. "We lose to them the same way we did last year. This one sucks, but we've got to get over it. Yeah, this one's going to hurt but it's best for us to have a short memory on this one because if we win out there's a good chance we'll be in (the playoffs)."

Shazier, who's been in the hospital since injuring his spine in the first quarter of last week's victory over Cincinnati, told his teammates to finish the work he helped start. Even as they celebrated an important step in a journey they hope will carry them deep into the postseason, they were making plans to keep Shazier involved, starting with a late-night trip to the hospital to deliver him his AFC North champions' swag.

"We are going to give him the hat and T-shirt tonight," good friend and fellow inside linebacker Vince Williams said.

When someone mentioned visitor's hours were probably over, Williams repeated "tonight." Then, it was home to rest before preparing for a showdown with New England next Sunday.

"That's the crazy part about the NFL, things constantly change and you've got to keep rolling," Williams said. "So you've got to find a way to roll with the punches even though it may be a haymaker, got to find a way to recover."