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MJD: A cautionary tale


MJD: A cautionary tale

The undersized running back who some said was too small had just cashed in big time.

He was all smiles as he signed a long-term extension that made him one of the highest paid running backs in the game. The contract was heavily front-loaded, meaning the cash would come pouring in early in the contract, then ease up in the later years of the deal.

No, were not talking about Ray Rice.

Were talking about Jacksonvilles Maurice Jones-Drew, and his tale could be a cautionary one for Rice and the Ravens.

The similarities between Jones-Drew and Rice are striking. Jones-Drew stands 5-foot-7 and weighs about 210 pounds. Rice is listed at 5-8, 212 pounds. Both were second-round picks, Jones-Drew out of UCLA, Rice out of Rutgers. Both have become the heart of their teams offense.

In April of 2009, Jones-Drew signed a four-year, 31 million extension with Jacksonville, making him, at that time, one of the three highest-paid running backs in the league. Jones-Drews contract was front-loaded to guarantee him about 21.8 million in the first three years of the deal.

Jones-Drew was all smiles then, but not so much now.

Jones-Drew, who led the league in rushing last season with 1,606 yards, suddenly looks around and sees Rice, Matt Forte, Arian Foster and LeSean McCoy all signing big-time contracts this offseason. Add that to the whopping deals signed by Adrian Peterson and Chris Johnson in the past two seasons, and Jones-Drew is suddenly nowhere near the top paid running back.

Simply put, he wants more money. He thinks hes earned it. Jones-Drew skipped the Jaguars June minicamp and is threatening to hold out. He is due a salary of about 4.45 million this year, which is not nothing, but based on the other signings, appears to be well below market value.

The Jaguars say hold on a minute. We paid you a lot up front for your financial security. Now you have to hold up your end of the deal.

Obviously, he has expressed that he would like to renegotiate, Jaguars general manager Gene Smith told the Florida Times-Union in June. And we have expressed again that we feel he has a contract with two years left, that we expect him to fulfill those obligations.

Fast forward four years. Could this be the predicament the Ravens and Ray Rice find themselves in?

Like Jones-Drews, Rices deal is heavily front-loaded, with Rice getting about 25 million in the first two seasons. By the end of the deal, Rice is scheduled to make about 3 million in base salary. If his production then is even close to what it has been, he will appear to be badly underpaid.

Ricehe was all smiles yesterday as he put the signature on a five-year, 40 million deal that was very much deserved. And he has often said that he has never played football for the money. But by 2016, when hes in the final year of this deal, and his base salary is nowhere near the top of the running back list, well see if that still holds true.

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

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."