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Slumping Ravens fire offensive coordinator Cameron

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Slumping Ravens fire offensive coordinator Cameron

OWINGS MILLS, Md. (AP) Cam Cameron was fired Monday as offensive coordinator of the Baltimore Ravens, who have lost two straight and are still striving for consistency in the running and passing game.

Cameron ran the Baltimore offense since the start of the 2008 season for coach John Harbaugh. Since that time, the Ravens' attack has repeatedly taken a back seat to the team's defense, and this year the offense ranks 18th with 344.4 yards per game.

Jim Caldwell, who was hired as quarterbacks coach before the season, will assume Cameron's duties. Caldwell was head coach of the Indianapolis Colts from 2009-11.

Harbaugh didn't give a detailed explanation for the move, which came less than 24 hours after the Ravens lost to the Washington Redskins 31-28 in overtime.

``We put 28 points up, so you're not going to say it's a reaction to a down offensive performance. It's not that. I think that's really important to point out,'' Harbaugh said. ``It's what I believe is best going forward for our offense and for our football team.

``Cam was doing a heck of a job here. He was doing a heck of a job here for a long time. Nobody knows that better than me, and nobody has stated that more times. I believe that. I also believe right now at this time, the timing says this is the best thing, and this is what we're going to do.''

The move comes with the Ravens stuck in their first losing streak since they dropped three in a row in October 2009. Yet Baltimore (9-4) needs only one win to sew up its fifth straight playoff appearance and holds a two-game lead in the AFC North over Cincinnati and Pittsburgh with three games to play.

``I don't know that staying pat wouldn't have gotten us there,'' Harbaugh said. ``What you try to do is put yourself in the best position possible as you see it to be the best football team you can be and then go compete and go see what you can get accomplished.

``Our first goal right now is to secure a playoff berth. Our second goal is to win the AFC North. That's squarely in our sights. Our next goal is to secure as high a playoff seed as we can. The next goal is to win playoff games, get to the Super Bowl and win that thing. I feel like this is going to give us the best chance to do that.''

Caldwell, 57, was quarterbacks coach for Peyton Manning at Indianapolis before taking over as head coach. He will make his NFL debut as an offensive coordinator on Sunday against the Manning and Denver Broncos (10-3).

``I had an opportunity to talk with (the offense) and really, in a nutshell, I just tried to make them understand that what we're trying to do is get that much better,'' Caldwell said, holding his index finger and thumb about an inch apart. ``That's about it. That's a difficult task, obviously, trying to get that done in this league. But that's what we're shooting for. It's not a system change. Obviously the Ravens' offense is the Ravens' offense. It's not a philosophical change. John sets the philosophy here of this team and we follow suit.''

Although Harbaugh refused to criticize Cameron, the Ravens' offense has sputtered at times this season. Baltimore scored touchdowns on three of its first four possessions against the Redskins but managed only seven points after halftime. Fifth-year quarterback Joe Flacco passed for 182 yards and committed two turnovers in the third quarter.

Baltimore's running game ranks 17th in the NFL despite the presence of Pro Bowl running back Ray Rice, who has topped the 100-yard rushing mark only three times (compared to six times last year). Rice led the NFL in yards from scrimmage in 2011.

Flacco, meanwhile, has been erratic while operating the no-huddle attack and has showed little improvement from a year ago.

Maybe things will change under Caldwell. That's Harbaugh's hope, anyway.

``The move was made because it gives us a chance to be the best we can be. It's just an opportunity to try to get this thing going,'' he said. ``We feel like it's what's best for the team at this time. So that's why we made the move. There's nothing more to it than that.''

Flacco has committed pivotal turnovers in the last two games, but those defeats can be attributed heavily to the defense. Two weeks ago, the injury-riddled unit couldn't stop Pittsburgh Steelers third-string quarterback Charlie Batch in a 23-20 loss, and the Redskins moved downfield rather easily during a beat-the-clock touchdown drive in the waning minutes of regulation.

Cameron, 51, went 1-15 as head coach of the Miami Dolphins in 2007 before being chosen by Harbaugh to run the Baltimore offense. The Ravens made the playoffs in each of his previous four seasons, and under his direction Flacco became the team's career leader in passing yards, touchdowns and completions.

Harbaugh worked as an assistant coach for Cameron in 1997 at Indiana. After taking over for Brian Billick in Baltimore, one of his first moves was to hire Cameron.

``There is a very human side to this. Cam is my friend, he taught me a lot about coaching, and he is an outstanding coach,'' Harbaugh said. ``Personally, this is the hardest thing I've ever had to do as a coach. Cam has been a significant contributor to all of our successes over the past four, almost five, seasons. Deservedly, he is highly-regarded, and we owe thanks to him for what he did for the Ravens.''

In other news, Harbaugh said injured linebackers Terrell Suggs (torn right biceps) and Ray Lewis (torn right triceps) could return Sunday. Harbaugh described guard Marshal Yanda's sprained right ankle as ``somewhat serious'' but not a break.

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How Eric DeCosta, staff plan to build out the Ravens’ draft board during quarantine

How Eric DeCosta, staff plan to build out the Ravens’ draft board during quarantine

When the NFL Draft happens on April 23, the best technology available will be at the Ravens’ staff’s fingertips. 

They’ll also have to conduct the draft more like what was conducted in the 1980s as compared to present day. 

With league-wide shutdowns of team facilities, all NFL teams will have to conduct their own drafts with each individual front office member in their homes. In a way, that means it’s business as usual for the Ravens. 

“I don’t think it’s really going to be that much different than we’ve been accustomed to,” general manager Eric DeCosta said. “We had the opportunity to meet with so many different players at the Senior Bowl and the East-West combine, we really prepared to be the best we can be. The thing we come back to, it’s been this way ever since I know I got into the league, it’s really about the tape, how the guy plays.”

The Ravens will have to navigate the draft, though, without a traditional war room for the staff to congregate in. There, they’ll have to make draft choices and trades remotely.

“We did a lot of work in person in February and also in December to get ready for these meetings,” DeCosta said. “There are some challenges associated, nothing major, but we’re excited for the opportunity and we think it’s going to work out well for us.”

The draft board this year, DeCosta said, will have 185 players that they consider to be “draftable” players for the Ravens. Of that number, 25 of which are wide receivers. He’ll have to make those selections over Zoom, the video-conferencing service. 

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Coach John Harbaugh’s mind isn’t exactly at ease over Zoom, either. 

“Every time I read something in The Wall Street Journal or New York Times that talks about how messed up Zoom is or some of these other deals that came out this morning, I immediately text it to our IT people,” Harbaugh said. “I’ve got some real concerns about that, and hopefully we’ll be okay. I really wouldn’t want the opposing coaches to have our playbook or our draft meetings.”

The draft board and meetings that Harbaugh would like to keep internally will assuredly discuss the bevy of wide receivers available in this year’s class. Three first-round locks appear to be two Alabama receivers, Jerry Jeudy and Henry Ruggs III, and Ceedee Lamb of Oklahoma. 

Denzel Mims, Justin Jefferson, Tee Higgins and Jalen Reagor all could find themselves picked in the first 32 selections, too.

“There’s a lot of really good players, obviously the receivers class is prolific by many people’s standards," DeCosta said. "There’s probably 25 draft-able wideouts in this draft. Very very talented running backs, offensive linemen, tight ends. We’re going to look at the board, we’re going to assess the strengths and weaknesses at every position when we’re on the clock.”

Baltimore has nine picks in the draft, including seven in the first four rounds. While the opportunity of trading up, or down, exists, DeCosta wasn’t shy about what those picks could mean for the Ravens in the 2020 season. 

“I think with the influx of juniors every year, we see that drafts tend to be stronger in the last five-to-seven years than they have been,” DeCosta said. “We’ve got a bunch of guys this year we feel like will have a really good opportunity with our first seven picks to really get some outstanding football players that can come in immediately and pay dividends for us.”

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Ravens GM Eric DeCosta when asked about Antonio Brown: ‘I think I’ll just leave that one alone’

Ravens GM Eric DeCosta when asked about Antonio Brown: ‘I think I’ll just leave that one alone’

The Ravens’ front office typically holds franchise secrets pretty tightly. Some of the most notable players on the roster, though, are less covert. 

Last week, Lamar Jackson and Marquise “Hollywood” Brown were seen running routes and working out with free-agent wide receiver Antonio Brown in Florida. The three posed for a picture and posted videos on Instagram of a portion of the workout. 

Antonio and Marquise are cousins and were previously pictured working out together as well.

At a pre-draft conference call, Ravens general manager Eric DeCosta addressed both the situation and rumors that the team might be interested.

“Those are in-house things,” DeCosta said. “Those are my feelings, personal feelings, about that situation. I don’t really feel the need to share that with you all right now.”

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Antonio Brown is under investigation from the NFL for accusations of rape and sexual assault, brought forward by his former trainer Britney Taylor in a civil suit. Brown has filed a countersuit. 

He is also facing charges of felony burglary conveyance, misdemeanor battery, and misdemeanor criminal mischief. He hasn’t played a game since Week 2 of 2019, after which he was released by the Patriots. 

The move came on the heels of his controversial trade and release from Oakland.

“And as far as free-agent players, we wouldn’t talk about those guys right now,” DeCosta continued. “It doesn’t really serve any purpose for us to talk about players that are available right now. There’s really no benefit to do that, so I think I’ll just leave that one alone.”

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