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Bills G Levitre wonders if time's up in Buffalo

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Bills G Levitre wonders if time's up in Buffalo

BUFFALO, N.Y. (AP) Through rain, snow, heat and losing seasons, whether he's played guard, center or tackle, Andy Levitre has never missed a game - let alone a start - during his four years with the Buffalo Bills

He will make it 64 straight on Sunday, when the Bills close their season against the New York Jets.

What Levitre isn't sure of is whether it will be his final one with Buffalo with his contract set to expire.

``Yeah, I don't know,'' Levitre said Wednesday. ``I don't know if it's going to be here. I don't know if it's going to be somewhere else. But right now, I'm focused on trying to beat the Jets and we'll kind of see where it goes from there.''

The game is meaningless for the Bills (5-10) and Jets (6-9), who are out of playoff contention.

Just don't downplay its importance to Levitre, who's trying to avoid thinking about what it will be like leaving the field once time runs out.

``Every time that gets brought up, I kind of just try to push it away,'' Levitre said. ``Maybe that's something I'll think about on Monday, like, `Wow, maybe that was my last time.'''

Levitre would prefer to continue playing in Buffalo. The trouble is, he's unsure where the Bills stand regarding his future.

Though the team's expressed an interest in re-signing him, Levitre scratches his head in saying the front office has yet to follow through by formally making him any offers.

Safety Jairus Byrd is in the same boat with the 2010 second-round draft pick's contract set to expire. The Bills haven't yet opened contract talks. Byrd is open to re-signing with the team, and has yet to determine whether he will test free agency.

Byrd is having a solid season in leading the team with five interceptions and four forced fumbles.

General manager Buddy Nix has declined to comment, citing the team policy of not discussing the status of contract talks.

Levitre's value has certainly risen in having established himself as one of the franchise's most durable, dependable and versatile offensive linemen.

Though a majority of his starts have come at right guard, he's filled in at tackle and center as a result of injuries.

``He's a guy that we lean on a lot,'' quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick said. ``Andy is a guy that we depend on every Sunday, and a guy that has been extremely reliable throughout his career.''

Coach Chan Gailey refers to Levitre as the team's ``Steady Eddie.''

``He's been solid,'' Gailey said. ``He's been one of the pleasant things on offense as far as consistency goes.''

Levitre is the team's first offensive lineman to start at least 63 games since Ruben Brown enjoyed a 71-game streak from 1999 through 2003.

As for members of Levitre's 2009 draft class, only three other players have started all 63 games: Rams linebacker James Laurinaitis, Browns center Alex Mack and Ravens tackle Michael Oher.

Bills center Eric Wood was a first-round pick in 2009 and, by comparison, has made 46 starts while twice finishing seasons on injured reserve.

Wood, who has one year left on his contract, has spent much of the season lobbying Levitre to re-sign with the Bills.

``Obviously, I want him to come back here. We have a great chemistry on the line,'' said Wood, who shares the same agent as Levitre. ``But you know, Andy's done everything he could to maximize his earning power at this point. And after this year, he's going to have to do what's best for him.''

Wood and Levitre have helped bring stability to the Bills line. It's a unit that allowed 23 sacks last year - the third-fewest in Buffalo in a 16-game season. This year, Buffalo's allowed just 30 sacks and has the NFL's sixth-best running attack.

Levitre is proud with what he's helped accomplish with the Bills. And for someone who grew up in Northern California and played at Oregon State, he's come to enjoy living in Buffalo.

The cold winters certainly don't bother him. Levitre joked there are days he'll go out in the snow wearing shorts and sandals.

``I really do want to stay. I think it's great here,'' Levitre said. ``I love the city. The people here are awesome. Great football town. There's nothing more you can ask for except for winning. That's the only thing I can ask for. But we've got to earn that.''

NOTES: The Bills signed TE Derek Buttles to their practice squad and released OT J.B. Shugarts. ... WR Ruvell Martin has been excused for personal reasons for the next few days, but is expected to play Sunday. ... WR Marcus Easley practiced on a limited basis after missing last week's game with a hamstring injury.

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Baltimore Ravens Roundup: Ravens place Marquise Brown, Jaylon Ferguson on reserve/NFI list

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Baltimore Ravens Roundup: Ravens place Marquise Brown, Jaylon Ferguson on reserve/NFI list

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

1. Ian Rapoport reported that the Ravens have placed Marquise Brown, Jaylon Ferguson and two others on the reserve/NFI list. He later added that Brown is still recovering from Lisfranc surgery but is "progressing well" and Ferguson is dealing with a "minor hamstring" injury.

2. The entire Baltimore Ravens class is officially under contract after the signing of wide receiver Miles Boykin. Boykin was a third-round pick out of Notre Dame.

3. Michael Vick joined The Sports Junkies on 106.7 The Fan Friday morning and when asked which young quarterbacks in the NFL most emulate his style, he answered: "Lamar Jackson" along with Kyler Murray and Cam Newton.

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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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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