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Leach shows versatility against Steelers

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Leach shows versatility against Steelers

It's pretty easy to spot Ravens fullback Vonta Leach on the field. He's the one who looks like a bowling ball and is, more likely than not, hammering anyone and anything that happens to get in his way.

Leach's power was on full display against the Steelers on Sunday, as he absolutely flattened Casey Hampton -- that would be all 325 pounds of Casey Hampton -- on a 6-yard run by Ray Rice.

"It was just being a competitor,” Leach told BaltimoreRavens.com after the game. “It was a play we worked on all week and I don’t think he saw me coming. So, hey, I had a nice shot on him.”

He delivered several other punishing blocks as well.

But against the Steelers, Leach showed another part of his game, catching a season-high four passes out of the backfield for 40 yards. When he catches a pass in the flat and turns upfield with a full head of steam, the 6-foot, 260-pound Leach can be a load to bring down.

"I just took advantage of them running down the back side hard, and snuck out of the backfield," Leach said. "We just took advantage of what they were doing."

To be sure, Leach's bread-and-butter remains his blocking ability. That's what has landed him in the Pro Bowl twice, and that's why the Ravens signed him to a three-year, $11 million deal in August of 2011. They wanted a steamroller in front of Ray Rice. And the veteran has delivered, even earning a sweet watch from Rice as a thank-you present last season.

But Leach's receiving numbers against the Steelers were noteworthy. Only once in his nine-year career did he catch more passes than the four he caught on Sunday against Pittsburgh. For the season, Leach has 16 catches for 119 yards. He's averaged about 11 receptions a season, and his career-high is 25 receptions, in 2007.

"Obviously we got it in our playbook," Leach said, "so I guess if it's there, we'll call it."

There's been some criticism that the Ravens no-huddle offense, and its "diesel," two-tight end formation come at the expense of Leach, who frequently is not on the field in those situations. Leach at times has mentioned that he'd like to be more involved.

"We try to get all of our guys involved," coach John Harbaugh said on Wednesday. "We have a lot of good players, and we want every good player involved all the time. If we had a player that didn’t want to be more involved, then I’d be concerned. So yeah, we want guys to be involved. Vonta is involved, and he is a huge part of what we do."

 

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Ravens make stadium lights red, white and blue to honor front-line workers

Ravens make stadium lights red, white and blue to honor front-line workers

Amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, the Ravens shifted from their signature purple stadium lights to show the front-line workers how much they appreciate what they're doing.

The incredible gesture is just one of many by the organization.

The Ravens and The Stephen and Renee Bisciotti Foundation combined to support four non-profits and have donated $1 million to help aid the fight against coronavirus, the team revealed in a statement on March 20. 

The four organizations are the Fund for Educational Excellence, the United Way of Central Maryland, the Baltimore Community Foundation and the Maryland Food Bank.

"We want to help those in our community who are most affected by the COVID-19 crisis," Ravens president Dick Cass said, according to a statement through the team. "We chose to donate through these four organizations because we are confident they will apply our funds quickly and directly to people in need.”

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Derek Wolfe always wanted to be a Raven — now he gets his chance

Derek Wolfe always wanted to be a Raven — now he gets his chance

New Ravens defensive lineman Derek Wolfe has wanted to be a Raven at three separate times during his career. 

The first time was before he was drafted in 2012 when he thought the Ravens might pick him. The second time was before the trade deadline in the 2019 season, when he debated asking Broncos general manager John Elway for a trade to Baltimore. 

The third time was the charm. After the Ravens’ signing of Michael Brockers fell through, they moved quickly to sign Wolfe to a one-year contract. 

“I'm extremely happy,” Wolfe said. “Everything happens for a reason. When things are supposed to happen, they do, and I always felt like I would fit into that organization really well.”

Wolfe thought he’d missed his chance to be a Raven when the signing of Brocks was announced at the beginning of free agency. After the deal wasn’t completed, though, he and his agent moved quickly to get him to Baltimore. 

Once a deal looked possible with the Ravens, Wolfe’s only focus was to get to Baltimore by any means necessary.

“I said, ‘I really don't care about the money,’” Wolfe said he told his agent. “‘At this point, I just want to get on that team. That's the team I want to get on, I want to be on.’

Wolfe’s contract is worth $3 million guaranteed, though he’s eying a bit longer of a stay in Baltimore.

“I feel like if I can come in there and prove myself, then they'll extend me for a few years, and I could be a part of the organization for more than just one year,” Wolfe said. “I'm just going to stick to the plan and trust the process and hope that it all works out for me,” Wolfe said. “I really would love to bring another ring to the city – help bring a ring to the city.”

He’s coming off a career season in Denver where he registered seven sacks in 12 games — a year that was cut short because of a dislocated elbow. 

Injuries have been a bit of a bugaboo for Wolfe, who has played 16 games in a season just three times in his eight-year career and just once in the last five years. While the past isn’t kind to Wolfe’s injury history, he’s confident he’s turned a corner when it comes to health. 

“It's been a bumpy road, but for the most part I've actually been pretty healthy,” Wolfe explained. “These injuries just come...It was the same injury that was nagging, and I finally got that surgery that cleared it up. I dislocated my elbow, obviously, having the best season of my career, showing that I have a ton of football left, and then I go out there and dislocate my elbow. And I think that hurt me.”

Not only confident about his health, but he’s also got high hopes for his new defensive line, too. 

“It was just like, ‘You know what, man? I think we can have the best defensive line in the league, for sure, and we could break records,” Wolfe said. “We could break the rushing record – yards per rush, stuff like that.’ Those are the kind of goals that I like to set.”

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