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Browns bypass 'sexy' with first-round picks

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Browns bypass 'sexy' with first-round picks

With other adjectives that have been applied to the Cleveland Browns lately, it had to be a relief to hear commentators on ESPN Friday morning refer to their first-round selections as “sensible.”

The Browns took defensive tackle Danny Shelton of Oregon at No. 12 and center Cameron Erving of Florida State at No. 19.

“I know these aren't the two sexiest picks when you are taking guys that aren't 'skill players,'” coach Mike Pettine said Thursday, as reported by The Plain Dealer. “We prefer to call them 'big skill.' We are thrilled because we know with a great degree of certainty that the Cleveland Browns got better tonight.”

(How sexy the picks are might depend on how you think Shelton looked clad in a colorful outfit that featured a lava-lava, a traditional sarong he wore to honor his Samoan heritage. Shelton also made the best move of the first round, wrapping up commissioner Roger Goodell in a bear hug and lifting him off the floor.)

To make these picks, the Browns bypassed wide receivers who went in the first round, DeVante Parker and Breshad Perriman.

"There were multiple players in the conversation for when we took those selections,'' general manager Ray Farmer said. "Offensive skill splash [players] were definitely in those conversations. Again, to me, you have to create your identity and who you want to be and make sure that is intact before you start adding the requisite pieces. The offensive skill is something that I think we have here.''

Despite chatter that indicated otherwise, Farmer said the Browns didn’t try to make a deal for the Tennessee Titans’ pick at No. 2 in order to draft quarterback Marcus Mariota. “There were no conversations of trading,” Farmer said.

Shelton is expected to help the Browns bolster their run defense, which needs lots of bolstering, considering that they ranked last in the league in that category. Shelton also may give Cleveland more pressure on opposing passers. He had nine sacks last season for Oregon, a high number for an interior lineman.

The Browns didn’t have a need at center — at least not this year. However, Pro Bowl player Alex Mack can become a free agent after this season. In the meantime, Erving displayed versatility on the offensive line. He began 2014 as a left tackle for Florida State before moving to center.

“Whether you took him and wanted to run downhill at people or whether you wanted to run laterally, the guy has a skill set that allows him to play in any of those schemes and at a variety of positions,” Farmer said.

RELATED: [Ravens possible Day 2 targets]

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Ravens cancel Saturday's open practice at M&T Bank Stadium

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USA Today Sports

Ravens cancel Saturday's open practice at M&T Bank Stadium

The Baltimore Ravens cancelled Saturday night's free open practice at M&T Bank Stadium due to a forecast that calls for heavy rain and inclement weather.

There is no official word from the team on whether this practice will be resheduled, but it seems like Sunday may be an option, even though there's rain in the forecast then too.

Ravens fans who were looking to see first-round draft pick and potential future starting quarterback Lamar Jackson will have to wait for another day. His presence at training camp, an inevitable competition with the incumbent, Joe Flacco, and potential two-quarterback packages involving both of them are set to be some of the biggest storylines of Ravens camp this summer.

As a Heisman Trophy winner, Jackson was one of the most dynamic players in college football during his time at Louisville. If he can replicate that kind of performance in the NFL, he will be at plenty more training camp sessions for Ravens fans to watch.

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After breakout 2017 season, Ravens running back Alex Collins isn't getting too comfortable

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After breakout 2017 season, Ravens running back Alex Collins isn't getting too comfortable

This time last year, running back Alex Collins wasn't a part of the Baltimore Ravens.

After being released by the Seattle Seahawks at the end of the 2017 preseason, the Ravens placed the 23-year-old on their practice squad, and by Week 2, Collins was already making plays.

As the season progressed, Collins found himself as the Ravens' top running back. He finished 2017 as the team's leading rusher with 973 yards while Javorius "Buck" Allen followed behind him with 591 yards.

If the 2018 NFL season began today, Collins would likely be the Ravens' starter, which is quite ironic considering the fate of his 2017 preseason.

"I always go back to where I started and where I am now, and I use that as my motivation," Collins said after Thursday's training camp practice.

"No matter the day, no matter how tired I am, I think to myself, at this time last year, I didn’t know my position, where I was, where I’d end up. So just having that security behind it is definitely my motivation to keep it this way and keep pushing forward and keep trying to get better instead of being complacent.”

Over the course of 15 games, Collins proved he had the strength and speed to make an impact on the team after Danny Woodhead suffered a hamstring injury on the first drive of the Ravens' Week 1 game and Kenneth Dixon sat out the entire season with a torn meniscus. 

While job security is something we all strive for, Collins isn't getting too comfortable with the hierarchy. 

“I don’t want to say necessarily ‘comfortable,’ because when I use that word, it makes me feel like I’m too relaxed and lackadaisical," Collins said.

"I’m more focused. I don’t want to get comfortable. I don’t want the team or our group to get comfortable, because we just want to get better every day. So, in the position I am, it’s a great feeling, but I’m always pushing myself to be better.”

While Collins has set personal goals for himself – like a 1,000-yard season – he is equally as focused on making the Ravens backfield one of the best groups in the National Football League. 

“I expect that," Collins said on being the Ravens' starter.

"I would hope that all the other running backs expect [to be the starter] as well, and that’s what kind of drives our group – when we all know that we have that capability to be the No. 1 guy, and we’re out competing and push each other and try to be the best. No matter who’s out there during the game, you’ll see a productive play out of that person. So, I have that mindset. I want to be the guy. I have that fire in me, and I hope [that is] as well as the other running backs, as I encouraged them as well.”

Collins noted that he's coming into training camp a bit heavier. He added five pounds to his 200-pound frame "just to see how that feels," but is still maintaining the stamina and strength he's always had. 

Collins – who was one of several veterans released from practice early as the team begins to adjust their way into the extended preseason – finished his media availability with a friendly warning to fantasy football owners: "Draft me now before it’s too late, guys."

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