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A big change for Kruger

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A big change for Kruger

Ravens linebacker Paul Kruger is just a fourth-year NFL player, but when you ask about his first three years, he sounds like someone who has been around a lot longer.

Its been a long road," he said Tuesday. Ive moved to different positions. Theres been a lot of talent and older vets who have been here (at his positions), so my role just wasnt as clear as every player wants it to be. A lot of guys have to deal with that. The last three years have been kind of a grind for me, just (trying to) find a way to be effective and be part of the team.

A year ago, after two seasons in Baltimore, his career had virtually no traction. When the lockout was settled, he came to training camp believing he would be an interior lineman, a position he had played without distinction in 2010 after putting on 20 pounds for the role.

But upon arriving at camp, Kruger, a second-round pick in 2009, found out the coaches were moving him back to outside linebacker, his natural position. He wound up having a strong season, finishing third on the team in sacks with 5.5, and now, as the 2012 season approaches, he is taking yet another step as a likely member of the starting lineup.

This year (his role) seems more clear. Its exciting, Kruger said.

The tough part of his assignment is that all eyes are on him with Terrell Suggs out indefinitely with an Achilles injury. Although Kruger technically is replacing the Ravens other departed linebacker, Jerret Johnson, who signed with the Chargers as a free agent, he and rookie Courtney Upshaw are widely seen as having to replace Suggs.

The biggest thing with Paul right now is the expectations being placed on him, Ravens linebacker coach Ted Monachino said.

But its a story line Kruger doesnt buy.

Ive said this many times. Youre talking about the best defensive player in the league (in Suggs), Kruger said. Its pretty much impossible to replace a guy like that. We just need to get him healthy and get him back. As for me, its just about me being the best player I can be in filling that role. Im pretty excited about it.

Of course, moving from a situational pass rusher to a three-down linebacker means he needs to be able to play the running game and cover receivers as well as pressure quarterbacks.

We ask our guys to do all three (things)," Monachino said. Having played primarily as s rusher until now, hes got a bit of a learning curve, but hes getting better every day.

Kruger said, Once I put everything together, I think I can be effective. Its really important just for this team and myself. Everyone is out here fighting. We want to be a great team this year. So Im busting my tail to make plays and be a guy people can rely on.

Thats the next step for Kruger, and its a big one.

Everyone has their opportunity in life, and this is his, Ravens coach John Harbaugh said. I think hell do well with it.

CAMP NOTES

Center Matt Birk sat out practice for a second straight day. Harbaugh explained that Birk, 36, is at the stage in his career where he probably is going to practice less than hes not going to practice.

Harbaugh had praise for linebacker Albert McClellan, who is fighting for a backup spot, and running back Bobby Rainey, an undrafted rookie from Western Kentucky who rushed for more than 4,500 yards in college.

Monachino said linebacker Sergio Kindle has made a quantum leap in his third season in terms of his mental approach to practice and to film study and to just simply being a pro.

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Ravens vs. Colts preseason: Date, time, TV channel, live stream, how to watch

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Ravens vs. Colts preseason: Date, time, TV channel, live stream, how to watch

After 10 days and two testy joint practices with the Colts, Ravens football is back.

The guys are in Indianapolis to take on the Colts in their third preseason game of the season. You can expect to see Lamar Jackson and RGIII getting more reps in, but it's unclear how much of Andrew Luck we'll see after he missed the entire 2017 season with a shoulder injury.

While the joint practices brought a few brawls, head coach John Harbaugh has been nothing but impressed with how his team has been handling training camp and the preseason thus far.

"I think about as good as [I’ve] ever seen,” Harbaugh said via the Ravens' website. “I’d have to say our best camp in terms of guys focused on improving every day and becoming one percent better at what they do from one day to the next and keep building on that. That’s what I’m proud of.”

Ahead of their matchup, here's everything you need to know to watch.

Ravens vs. Colts Preseason Game:

Who: Baltimore Ravens vs. Indianapolis Colts 

What: Preseason Week 3

When: Monday, Aug. 20, 2018, 8:00 p.m. ET

Where: Lucas Oil Stadium, Indianapolis, Indiana 

TV Channel: ESPN

Live Stream: WatchESPN

Radio: WBAL New Radio 1090 and 98Rock, ESPN Radio

Weather: 78 degrees, scattered thunderstorms

Preseason Schedule:

Hall of Fame Game: Thurs., 8/2 vs. Chicago Bears. 8:00 p.m. (W: 17-16) 

Week 1: Thurs., 8/9, vs. Los Angeles Rams, 7:30 p.m. (W: 33-7)

Week 2: Mon., 8/20, at Indianapolis Colts (Monday Night Football, ESPN), 8:00 p.m. 

Week 3: Sat., 8/25 at Miami Dolphins, 7:00 p.m.

Week 4: Thurs., 8/30 vs. Washington Redskins, 7:30 p.m.

Ravens 2018 Regular Season Schedule:

Week 1: Sun., 9/9 vs. Bills, 1:00 p.m.

Week 2: Thur., 9/13 @ Bengals, 8:20 p.m.

Week 3: Sun., 9/23 vs. Broncos. 1:00 p.m.

Week 4: Sun., 9/30 @ Steelers, 8:20 p.m.

Week 5: Sun., 10/7 @ Browns, 1:00 p.m.

Week 6: Sun., 10/14 @ Titans, 4:25 p.m.

Week 7: Sun., 10/21 vs. Saints, 4:05 p.m.

Week 8: Sun., 10/28 @ Panthers, 1:00 p.m.

Week 9: Sun., 11/4 vs. Steelers, 1:00 p.m.

Week 10:  BYE week

Week 11: Sun., 11/18 vs. Bengals, 1:00 p.m.

Week 12: Sun., 11/25 vs. Raiders, 1:00 p.m.

Week 13: Sun., 12/2 @ Falcons, 1:00 p.m.

Week 14: Sun., 12/9 @ Chiefs, 1:00 p.m.

Week 15: Sun., 12/16 vs. Buccaneers, 1:00 p.m.

Week 16: Sat., 12/22 or Sunday 12/23 @ Chargers, TBD

Week 17: Sun., 12/30 vs. Browns, 1:00 p.m.

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A Norwegian soccer player turned kicker, Kaare Vedvik fighting for chance on Ravens roster

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A Norwegian soccer player turned kicker, Kaare Vedvik fighting for chance on Ravens roster

Twenty-four-year-old Kaare Vedvik didn't watch his first football game until seven years ago, and now he's fighting for a spot on the Ravens' special teams roster.

Raised in Norway, Vedvik got his first glance at the game when the Super Bowl was being broadcast on Norwegian television for the first time. 

"It seemed like a really, really interesting sport," Vedvik said via The Baltimore Sun. "It was a sport I was never able to try growing up. I loved any sport that was fun, and football seemed really, really fun."

Fun enough to get the competitive soccer player to be an exchange student in the United States during his junior year of high school to test out the game of football. Vedvik returned to Norway for his senior year but impressed college recruiters enough at a Kohl's Kicking Camp in Texas that he was eventually recruited to play at Marshall University in West Virginia.

Staying in Norway would have meant giving up on sports entirely as school becomes more difficult and sports are no longer offered. Vedvik wasn't ready for that.

While at Marshall, Vedvik played in 38 games in four years as both a punter and kicker. He punted 59 times for 2,597 yards — averaging 44 yards — with 26 of them inside the 20-yard line. Vedvik once punted a 92-yarder, making it the seventh-longest punt in FBS history and the longest in 45 years. He ranked in the Top 10 for fewest punt return yards and averaged 63.6 yards-per-kickoff. 

After a private workout with Ravens special teams coordinator/associate head coach Jerry Rosburg, Vedvik became one of 14 Ravens undrafted free agents and has impressed thus far hitting 70 and 67-yard field goals in training camp practices. And in Thursday's preseason game vs. the Rams, Vedvik hit a 56-yard field goal.

"Learning how to kick field goals, the biggest thing for me was to stop swiping across and trying to kick a straighter ball," Vedcik said. "That’s the biggest difference: In soccer, you’re trying to curve balls around a defender."

While Vedvik's chances of dethroning the most accurate kicker in NFL history in Justin Tucker and 12-year veteran punter Sam Koch are slim, he could very well make an impact elsewhere. 

“The guys who are able to do that, they’re just good athletes in general, and Kaare is a good athlete,” Tucker said of the 6-foot-3, 210-pound Norwegian. “He hasn’t played a lot of football. He has plenty of ability.”

“When he came in, he’s got such a strong leg," Koch added. "You’ve got to have a strong leg in order to get looked at. He’s got a lot of talent. It’s one of those things — bringing him in, honing his skills and seeing what he can do from here.”

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