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Defensive predictions for Ravens-Chargers

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Defensive predictions for Ravens-Chargers

Don't let the San Diego record and stats fool you. If everything works right, this is still a tough football team to play against. Yes, the offense has struggled, but the Chargers still have the pieces to do damage.

Here's a few things the defense needs to do to give the Ravens a shot at winning:

1. Stop Mr. Rivers -- The Ravens can't let Philip Rivers pick them to pieces like he did last year. Again, don't be fooled by the numbers and problems. Yes, he's got 17 TDs and 14 interceptions, not Pro Bowl-type numbers, but he still can tear a secondary apart. And the Ravens have a secondary that's been already eaten up by injuries. They need to get pressure on him, something they couldn't do last year. If Terrell Suggs and Paul Kruger can get into the pocket and get Rivers off his spot, that will help. 

2. Get a good effort from the secondary -- This could be the most interesting point. The secondary's played much better the last few games but Byron Leftwich isn't Rivers. Carson Palmer did some damage, but the Raiders were throwing on every play, so those numbers are a bit off-balance. Rivers will test this group, no question. Still, Corey Graham, Bernard Pollard, Cary Williams, Ed Reed and the others have been doing better the last few weeks. Can they pass this test?

3. Stop the run again -- The Chargers found enough success with the run last year to let Rivers keep a balanced attack. The Ravens' troubles stopping the run appear to be getting better. They slowed the Steelers and Raiders there, and there's been some improvement. If they can do that again this week, it will take away one of the Rivers' weapons. Shutting down the pass would be more important, but slowing the run would be a plus.

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Ravens are releasing safety Tony Jefferson after three seasons in Baltimore

Ravens are releasing safety Tony Jefferson after three seasons in Baltimore

The Ravens are releasing safety Tony Jefferson after he spent three years in Baltimore, the team confirmed Friday.

The NFL Network's Ian Rapoport was first with the news.

“This is the worst part of this business,” general manager Eric DeCosta said in a statement released by the team. “Tony is the consummate teammate and someone who is respected by everyone for his leadership, determination, humility and toughness. He’s a friend to all and a true Raven.

"We know he’s going to beat this injury, and we will be cheering for him all along the way. We wish the very best to Tony and his family.”

 

 

The safety suffered a knee injury against the Steelers in Week 5 and was out for the remainder of the season. He was replaced by Chuck Clark, who shined in his new role and received a three-year contract extension on Monday as a result. 

The Ravens will save $7 million by releasing the 28-year-old safety. He originally had a cap hit of $11.65 million for the 2020 season and will have a dead cap hit of $4.65 million. 

Jefferson started each of the 35 games he played in Baltimore and registered a total of 174 tackles and two interceptions across his three seasons. He played nearly every defensive snap before his injury, only coming off the field during the blowout over the Dolphins in Week 1. 

He spent the first four seasons of his career in Arizona before he left for Baltimore and a four-year, 34 million dollar contract. 

According to overthecap.com, the Ravens will be left with a touch over $31 million in cap space after Jefferson’s release. In an offseason with Matthew Judon as a free agent, Jefferson’s release gives them a little bit more flexibility with their offseason plans. 

The Ravens now have Earl Thomas and Clark as the team’s two top safeties, but there are still questions that persist for the depth at that position with Jordan Richards, who recently signed a one-year contract extension, and DeShon Elliott as the team’s backups currently under contract. Brandon Carr, who played safety down the stretch for the team, has a team option for 2020. 

While the safety position certainly isn’t a need for the Ravens at this juncture, there will almost assuredly need to be some younger talent added to the position. 

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Ravens offensive lineman James Hurst suspended for violating NFL’s performance-enhancing substances policy

Ravens offensive lineman James Hurst suspended for violating NFL’s performance-enhancing substances policy

The Ravens will be without one of their backup offensive linemen to start the 2020 season, as James Hurst was suspended by the NFL for four games without pay after he violated the NFL’s policy on performance-enhancing substances.

Hurst made two starts and appeared in all 16 games for the Ravens last season. He played a total of 194 offensive snaps as a utility offensive lineman, predominantly used as a swing tackle and offensive guard.

Hurst, 28, who signed a four-year contract extension with the Ravens in 2018, is owed $8 million in base salary over the next two seasons, both of which carry a cap hit of $5.25 million.

He also has a dead cap hit of $2.5 million in 2020 and 1.25 in 2021, should the team decide to move on from the former North Carolina Tar Heel. The team would save 2.75 million dollars in 2020 should they release him.

Hurst has played 90 total games in his career in six years in the NFL, all of which were with the Ravens. 

The offensive line is slowly becoming more of a need for the Ravens with Hurst’s suspension. That’s in addition to Matt Skura’s recovery from a knee injury and the potential of Marshal Yanda’s retirement.

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