Rams receiver and Baltimore native Tavon Austin is looking for a happy homecoming against the Ravens.
While at Dunbar High School, Austin played three times at M&T Bank Stadium as part of three consecutive state championship teams. However, Austin will play in Baltimore as a pro for the first time Sunday when the Ravens (2-7) host the Rams (4-5) in a battle of two teams trying to get on the right track.
Austin has seven touchdowns this season – four as a receiver, two as a runner, and one as a punt returner. His speed is an element the Ravens must be wary of, because the Rams like to get the ball in Austin’s hands any way possible.
Austin would love to make a few big plays Sunday in front of family and friends.
“It’s going to feel good to play (at) home,” Austin said during a conference call. “It’s about playing in front of my family. I won’t let it get to me too much. At the end of the day I have a job to get done. I’m trying to go in there and get a win. That’s my main goal.”
Austin was the eighth overall pick in the 2013 draft out of West Virginia, and he thought the Ravens would have drafted him had he fallen further.
“They definitely brought me in for a visit,” Austin said. “I met with the GM (Ozzie Newsome) – a great guy. He had a plan for me, they were going to draft me…but coach ‘Fish’ (Rams coach Jeff Fisher) pulled the trigger on me. That’s the guy I’m rolling with now.”
Austin returns to Baltimore during the offseason to conduct free football camps for kids.
“I do my camps at the Pop Warner field that I always played at when I was young, right by Douglass High School,” Austin said. “I had the kids up there from 9 (a.m.) to 2 (p.m.). I feed them. I don’t charge them anything.”
That’s a nice gesture by Austin. But on Sunday, he will try to make the Ravens’ defense pay.
Football is back in session for the Ravens.
Their rookies are set to report to the Ravens' training facility in Owings Mills, Md Wednesday. Veterans report next Wednesday, the 18th.
The team is reporting to training camp a bit earlier than most NFL teams. Due to Ray Lewis being enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame Aug. 4 in Canton, Oh, the Ravens will face the Chicago Bears in the annual Hall of Fame Game on Aug. 2. Teams participating are eligible to begin training camp earlier.
This rookie class is already generating national attention. While the Ravens stand by Joe Flacco as their QB1, first-round pick Lamar Jackson could cause a shakeup at some point during the season. And when it comes to much-needed offensive help, tight ends Hayden Hurst and Mark Andrews could begin to provide relief.
Third-round pick Orlando Brown Jr. begins his journey with the Ravens in a more sentimental fashion. His father, Orlando "Zeus" Brown, also played tackle for the Ravens from 1996-98 and then again from 2003-05. Brown passed away in 2011.
Stay with NBC Sports Washington throughout the next several weeks as we keep a close eye on the Ravens' preseason.
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There's only six months until the NFL playoffs and we've got no time to waste.
OK, maybe we're getting a little ahead of ourselves but online betting site, Oddshark, released their early 2018 NFL playoff odds and the Ravens are in a similar situation as previous years.
The Ravens are sitting at +135 — tied for 13th with the San Francisco 49ers — for the best odds to play January football. This would place them in the seventh seed among AFC teams and just outside contention.
The Patriots (-1500), Steelers (-550), Chargers (-145), Jaguars (-140), Texans (-135), and Chiefs (+120) are seeded above them respectively.
During the 2017 season, the Ravens were constantly in the hunt for the fifth or sixth seed in the AFC playoff picture. Several weeks ahead of training camp, Vegas is predicting that to be the case in 2018.
Playoff odds in July mean nothing, but considering their offseason changes, the Ravens' 2018 season should bring positive change.
They added weapons for Joe Flacco in free agents Michael Crabtree, Willie Snead and John Brown, and drafted tight ends Hayden Hurst and Mark Andrews.
Then there was the late first-round draft pick of QB Lamar Jackson. Flacco remains the starter for now, but it will be interesting to see if that changes midway through the season or if they get them both on the field at the same time.
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