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The longest shot

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The longest shot

The Ravens have plenty of longshots on their training camp roster, but the longest of all has to be a 30-year-old rookie linebacker nicknamed Shakespeare.

Stevie Baggs Jr. has traveled the globe during his pro football career, spending time on NFL practice squads, playing in NFL Europe and the Arena Football League, and making a name for himself in the Canadian Football League, but at age 30, he has never played a regular-season down in the NFL.

The Ravens signed him last weekend, adding him to their mix of linebackers trying to earn spots on the 53-man roster.

What my familys been through, what Ive been through in this league and playing with as many teams as I have, its great that somebody is still able to see my ability and hunger for the game, Baggs told the Ravens official website. I think Im the only pro football player in history to play for 10 teams.

He earned the nickname Shakespeare because he made so many plays during his days as an All-American at Bethune-Cookman.

He has played for the CFLs Winnipeg Blue Bombers, Edmonton Eskimos and Saskatchewan Roughriders, leading the league with 12 sacks in 2009. That prompted the Arizona Cardinals to give him a shot in 2010, and Baggs almost made it: he was among the final training camp cuts and returned to the CFL as the leagues highest-paid defensive player, reportedly earning 150,000 a season.

He became available this year when he rejected a pay cut and phoned eight NFL teams asking for a shot, picking out those with which he felt he best fit. The Ravens eventually landed him.

Although he is a longshot, I dont want anybody to feel sorry for me because God has blessed me with an amazing gift and ability to play this game, Baggs said. Im just elated to be here, truthfully.

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Despite 4-5 record, Ravens just one game out of final AFC playoff spot

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USA TODAY Sports

Despite 4-5 record, Ravens just one game out of final AFC playoff spot

Their record and performance over the last month may not show it, but the Baltimore Ravens are just one game out of the No. 6 playoff spot in the AFC.

The Kansas City Chiefs (9-1), Los Angeles Chargers (7-2), Pittsburgh Steelers (6-2), New England Patriots (7-3), Houston Texans (6-3), Cincinnati Bengals (5-4), Tennessee Titans (5-4) and the Miami Dolphins (5-5) all rank above the Ravens. But a win Sunday against the Bengals would push the Ravens to the No. 6 spot as they own the head-to-head tiebreaker against the Titans.

Beside remaining in playoff contention, a win Sunday is crucial considering head coach John Harbaugh's job is in question with his team sitting at 4-5, quarterback Joe Flacco is reportedly dealing with a hip injury and the possibility of rookie Lamar Jackson getting his first NFL start. 

After getting blown out 51-14 by the Saints, the Bengals fired defensive coordinator Teryl Austin on Monday. Cincinnati's defense ranks last in the league in passing yards allowed (313.3) and total yards allowed (454.6). A rested Ravens team will have to take advantage of the first team in the Super Bowl era to surrender 500 yards in three straight games as they are among five teams within one game of the final wildcard spot. 

Getting shutout by the Bengals this season would give Andy Dalton and co. a two-game lead over the Ravens as well as possessing the tiebreaker. 

According to the New York Times' NFL Playoff Simulator, the Ravens have a 27% chance of making the playoffs heading into Week 11 with their remaining strength of schedule ranking at No. 27. 

After hosting the Bengals on Sunday, the Ravens host the Oakland Raiders (1-7), Tampa Bay Buccaneers (3-6) and Cleveland Browns (3-6), but have tough road games against the Atlanta Falcons (4-5), Kansas City Chiefs (9-1) and Los Angeles Chargers (7-2). 

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Robert Griffin III nominated for the Salute to Service Award presented by USAA

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Robert Griffin III nominated for the Salute to Service Award presented by USAA

Baltimore Ravens quarterback Robert Griffin III is the team's nominee for the Salute to Service Award presented by USAA. 

Presented annually by USAA and the NFL, the award honors a league member who demonstrates an exemplary commitment to honoring and supporting the military community. 

The Robert Griffin III Foundation supports Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors (TAPS), that helps aid those grieving the death of a loved one who served in the military; Luke's Wings, which united wounded warriors, veterans and heroes with their loved ones; and the Bob Woodruff Foundation, that helps ensure injured veterans and their families are thriving when they return home. 

Griffin III was born in Okinawa, Japan where his parents were stationed as U.S. Army sergeants. The quarterback spent time living in Fort Carson, Colorado, Seoul, Korea and Fort Hood, Texas as a military kid. His family then settled in Cooperas Cove, Texas, an hour drive from Baylor University where Griffin III attended college. 

Finalist for the award will be announced in January. The recipient will be recognized at the NFL Honors award show Saturday, Feb. 2, on the eve of Super Bowl LIII.

RGIII's head coach, John Harbaugh, received the honor in 2013. 

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