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Around AFC North: Mendenhall will start

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Around AFC North: Mendenhall will start

The Steelers may be missing some key players for Sundays' game vs. the Ravens, but Rashard Mendenhall is expected to reclaim his role as the starting running back.

Mendenhall, who had knee surgery last season, and has been slow to recover, also has been dealing with a sore Achilles. Jonathan Dwyer and Isaac Redman have been filling in, each having a 100-yard rushing performance in three of the last four games for Pittsburgh.

"It's going to be tough to be able to deal with all three of us," Redman said, according to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

The Steelers are expected to dress all six running backs for the games.

The Ravens rank near the bottom of the NFL in almost every defensive statistical category.

Cleveland Browns: Kick return Joshua Cribbs cracked under questioning about his reduced role.

Going into Sunday’s game at the Dallas Cowboys, Cribbs told the Plain Dealer: “I feel like I'm trapped. I feel like a caged athlete."

Cribbs only has touched the ball in the offense eight times, six receptions for 54 yards and a pair of runs totaling 8. Known as a game-changer, Cribbs is third in the NFL in kickoff return average and fourth in punts.

He has taken a sharp downturn under second-year coach Pat Shurmur. Cribbs caught a career-high 41 passes for 518 yards and four touchdowns in 2011.

"Me going from being able to run the wildcat, to playing receiver last season and catching 41 passes and four touchdowns to nothing, I can't believe it," said Cribbs told the Plain Dealer. "By me not playing, I feel like they think I'm not good, that I've lost it. But I haven't. I feel when I'm out there I can contribute, but I'm not able to."

Cribbs is in the final year of his contract.

Bengals: Receiver Andrew Hawkins was added to the injury report as questionable because he tweaked his knee in practice Friday. According to the Cincinnati Enquirer, it isn’t serious and he could be a game-time decision when the Bengals meet the Kansas City Chiefs on Sunday.

Linebacker Rey Maualuga was fined $15,750 for unnecessary roughness for his hit on N.Y. Giants receiver Domenik Hixon during the first quarter of their game a week ago.

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A big Year 2 ahead, Lamar Jackson isn’t worried about Madden ratings

A big Year 2 ahead, Lamar Jackson isn’t worried about Madden ratings

The number eight is sports royalty in the city of Baltimore thanks to Cal Ripken Jr.

If Lamar Jackson has the career many are hoping for, he’ll be another reason for that one day down the road.

For now, he’s a young, athletic quarterback entering his second season in Charm City. But his successful rookie year hasn’t been reflected in Madden NFL 20’s newest ratings.

Jackson came in with an overall rating of 76, tied for 24th among all quarterbacks. Unsurprisingly, his athleticism is highly-regarded, as he leads all signal-callers in speed, acceleration, agility, and elusiveness.

Questions abound about his throwing abilities, leading to the low rating. But that’s not a concern for Jackson himself.

“I can’t feel no way,” the quarterback told media members prior to throwing out the first pitch at the Orioles-Nationals game Wednesday night. “You know, I don’t make Madden. That’s them. But I feel like our team, we’re going to show ‘em this season.”

Jackson continued to praise the Ravens roster. When asked about the high ratings for teammates like Marquise “Hollywood” Brown and Earl Thomas, Jackson put his thoughts quite succinctly: “We look stacked!”

Of course, with speed and acceleration ratings like Jackson has, it’s fun to imagine how he might fit in on a baseball diamond as well.

“Whew, somewhere in the middle, to make a play,” Orioles manager Brandon Hyde decided when asked where the Ravens quarterback might play on his roster.

“I’m looking forward to meeting him. I’m a big football fan, so watched him play a lot. And if he wanted to play center field or up the middle, it’d be great,” Hyde continued.

The speedy quarterback agreed, though it came with a caveat.

“Probably,” Jackson quickly answered when asked about his best fit being center field. “But you know, I’m the Ravens QB right now, so I’m good.”

He doesn’t know what his walk-up song would be if he played baseball, but Jackson was definitive about one thing at least: his hot dog preferences.

“I don’t really eat mustard,” he emphasized. “So I just put ketchup, relish...I just go from there. Pretty standard.”

When he’s not eating hot dogs, Jackson is working hard to build chemistry with his new receiving corps, and he seemed optimistic about the results it will bring on the field.

“Looking pretty good,” he described. “You’ll have to see for yourself.”

Knowing how many dual Orioles and Ravens fans there are in Baltimore, Jackson was also happy to provide a little hope as the city’s attention starts to shift from baseball to football. He gave a message to O’s fans who have sat through months of losing baseball and are looking to the Ravens to bring winning back to the city.

“Look forward to us coming out and balling,” he said. “Can’t say too much right now, [the] season’s not here!”

The Ravens season will be here soon enough, and when it is, Jackson will be ready to go out and show both local and national fans what he can do, regardless of what his Madden rating says.

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Baltimore Ravens Roundup: Sports Illustrated predicts Ravens defense will regress this season

Baltimore Ravens Roundup: Sports Illustrated predicts Ravens defense will regress this season

With training camp just eight days away, here is the latest news surrounding the Baltimore Ravens.

1. The Ravens are expected to have one of the best defenses in the NFL this season, but not the No. 1 ranked. Sports Illustrated's Andy Benoit says he predicts the Ravens defense will actually regress due to the loss of C.J. Mosely and Terrell Suggs in free agency. However, not as much as one would expect, he says.

2. Speaking of defense, Ravens outside linebacker Matthew Judon is entering his contract year. The Athletics' Jeff Zrebiec writes that this upcoming season should be a breakout year for Judon who could make a big impact on defense. 

3. Ravens Training Camp passes are now available. The Ravens have 14 different training camp practices open to the public this season. Claim your tickets and parking pass here or on the Ravens' mobile app.

Looking Ahead:

July 24: Ravens training camp begins. Rookies are set to report a week earlier on Wednesday, July 17. 

The 2019 NFL schedule is set! See the Baltimore Ravens defend the AFC North at M&T Bank Stadium this season. Get your tickets now at www.BaltimoreRavens.com/tickets.

Credit: Rotoworld and Baltimore Ravens for news points.

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