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Ray Lewis: What a lightweight

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Ray Lewis: What a lightweight

When Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis met with reporters at the teams minicamp last month, he looked lighter than usual and hinted that he planned to play at a lighter weight in 2012.

Boy, did he follow through on that.

When he met with reporters Wednesday on the eve of the teams first full-squad training camp practice, Lewis looked startlingly lighter and admitted he might have reached a new low threshold.

This is definitely probably the lightest Ive been since I walked into Baltimore in 1996, Lewis said.

After playing at 250 pounds last season, Lewis is listed at 240 this season and admitted even that was too much.

Yeah, Im probably a little lighter (than 240). Im probably a lot lighter than 240, he said with a smile.

That means he might be as low as 230, which, for the record, is just five pounds heavier than safety Bernard Pollard.

Lewis refused to divulge his exact weight.

I keep that to myself, he said, continuing to smile. You cant share everything. Im at a good weight, a good playing weight.

He repeated the explanation for his dramatic weight-loss that he gave last month: that he needs to be faster to remain effective in todays pass-happy NFL.

The game has changed, he said. The game is no longer about 250, 260-pound fullbacks, and offenses running it 23 30 40 times (a game). The game has changed. Its all based on matchups now. People want to find mismatches here and there, so you just change with the game. If everyone can run (it comes down to) who cant run? So for me, that was what my thought process was coming into this next year.

The news that Lewis might possibly play as much as 20 pounds lighter this season will certainly make the rounds in the NFL. Although he earned yet another Pro Bowl selection in 2011, he did struggle at times in passing situations and even found himself being picked on for probably the first time in his career.

Playing a lighter weight is his attempt to adjust, and the issue will be whether he remains powerful enough to remain effective against opposing blockers and runners.

Lewis believes this is the only way to go at age 37.

I had a couple of coaches over the years (giving) great advice that was shared with me: the later you get (in your career), the lighter you play, he said. You just feel better. Because you have the wisdom to go off and do whatever you want to do. But I just think playing lighter is much smarter for me.

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4 must-see moments from the Ravens' Week 15 win over the Bucs, including Marlon Humphrey's big day

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4 must-see moments from the Ravens' Week 15 win over the Bucs, including Marlon Humphrey's big day

It was a wet and dreary day in Baltimore as the Ravens earned a 20-12 win over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

Winning four of their last five games, Lamar Jackson and the Ravens extended their run to the postseason in a total team effort.

Here are four must-see moments from the Week 15 win.

1. Humphrey's big day

Cornerback Marlon Humphrey further cemented he's worthy of a Pro Bowl nomination during Sunday's game. The 2017 first-round draft pick laid a huge hit on Bucs running back Ronald Jones in the first quarter for a loss.

Then Humphrey picked off quarterback Jameis Winston early in the fourth quarter to earn his first interception of the season and a career-high four passes defensed on the day. 

2. Chris Moore puts Ravens on the board

After a slow start, the Ravens finally got on the board late in the second quarter thanks to a five-yard touchdown by wide receiver Chris Moore.

Jackson ran to the left to throw off the Bucs defense before shovel passing that ball to Moore who ran it into the endzone from the right. Simple yet effective.

3. Gus 'the bus' drives to the endzone

Running back Gus Edwards has taken the Ravens' running game to new levels. Ranked 27th in the league heading into Week 11, the teams run game is now ranked second in the NFL after Sunday's performance. 

This 10-yard touchdown run gave the Ravens some breathing room early in the third quarter as they took a 17-9 lead. An introvert in the locker room but an extrovert on the field, Edwards has 100 consecutive rushes without a loss of a yard marking the longest active streak in the NFL.

Edwards finished the day with a game-high 104 yards on 19 carries and his third 100-yard game this season.

4. Jackson in action...again

Five games as the starter and we know for certain that Jackson can, and will, run the ball down the field.

Facing 3rd-and-seven, the QB magically avoided a sack and ran for 11 yards to pick up the first down.

Even though Jackson's effort was offset by a 15-yard unecessary roughness penalty against running back Kenneth Dixon, the play was still impressive.

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As Ravens get closer to playoffs, confidence among one another is apparent

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As Ravens get closer to playoffs, confidence among one another is apparent

Most NFL teams would fear putting their season in the hands of two rookies, but quarterback Lamar Jackson and undrafted free agent Gus Edwards have taken the Baltimore Ravens' confidence to a new level.

You can feel the effects on both sides of the ball as the offense and defense have been working cohesively since their Week 10 bye. Jackson and the offense have dominated time of possession over those four weeks, which in hand allows the defense to have fresh legs each time they take the field as they remain the No.1 total defense in the league.

With two games to go and the postseason in sight, the respect among teammates is apparent.

"We appreciate it so much, the way our offense is playing," linebacker C.J. Mosley said following the team's 20-12 win over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. "It's keeping their offense off the field. It allows us to take care of our business, get us rest when we need it, and that is huge."

Heading into the fourth quarter of Sunday's win, Jackson had already hit 100 yards rushing on 13 carries and kept his offense on the field for 37:10 compared to the Buccaneers' 22:50. Plus with the help of Edwards' 104 rushing yards on 19 attempts, the Ravens have rushed for at least 190 yards in five-consecutive games. The last team to do this was the 1976 Pittsburgh Steelers.

Then there is the defense. In eight of their 14 games in 2018, the Ravens have held their opponent to under 300 yards, and on Sunday held the Bucs to a season low 241 total yards and 156 net passing yards. Cornerback Marlon Humphrey had his first interception of the year and a career-high four passes defensed while dealing with a groin injury in a standout performance.

"We're playing great team football right now to a T," safety Eric Weddle added. "We're playing well off each other— running the ball, controlling the clock, third-down conversions. We just know, as a defense, we just need to continue playing at a high level to give our offense more opportunities. Who knows what's going to happen."

Total team effort has put the Ravens in control of the sixth and final AFC playoff spot and half a game back of the Steelers for the AFC North. As they head to Los Angeles to take on the Chargers in Week 16 and then back to Baltimore to face the dynamic Baker Mayfield and the Cleveland Browns, it appears the offense and defense have together found what works for them in a style of play that pundits deemed unattainable just weeks ago. 

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