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Tag day is here for Ravens, Rice

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Tag day is here for Ravens, Rice

The countdown for Ray Rice to land a contract extension is down to the final hours.

The Pro Bowl running back has until Monday at 4 p.m. to agree to terms with the Ravens.

If no deal is struck, Rice will play for the Ravens in 2012 under the franchise-tag designation, earning 7.7 million on a one-year tender. The two sides would then try again to strike a deal in 2013, with the Ravens holding the option of putting the franchise tag on Rice for a second year.

Rice, who led the NFL in yards from scrimmage in 2011, is one of a handful of high-profile franchise players facing Mondays deadline. Others include New England wide receiver Wes Welker and Chicago running back Matt Forte.

Neither the Ravens nor Rices agent have publicly commented on the negotiations in recent weeks, but several media reports have characterized the sides as far apart and unlikely to strike a deal.

It has been reported that Rice wants a deal that would put him in the top tier of running backs along with Minnesotas Adrian Peterson (seven years, 100 million) and Tennessees Chris Johnson (four years, 53 million), while the Ravens envision him more in the second tier with Houstons Arian Foster (five years, 43.5 million) and Philadelphias LeSean McCoy (five years, 45 million).

Either way, Rice would become one of the highest-paid running backs in the game.

Here is what is at stake today:

If Rice signs by 4 p.m.:

He would earn more than 20 million in guaranteed salary and possibly 25 million or more, as opposed to the 7.7 million he would make as a franchise player in 2012.

The Ravens would lock up the longterm services of their offensive engine, who has generated more than 6,600 yards of rushing and receiving yards in four seasons.

The Ravens would eliminate the distraction of wondering whether Rice would miss part of training camp, as is his right as a franchise player.

If Rice doesnt sign today:
He might only play one more year for the Ravens, depending on how the negotiations go next year and whether he hits the open market as an unrestricted free agent.

He has the option of not signing his tender, skipping training camp and the exhibition season and not joining the team until the regular season begins; franchise players cant be fined for holding out before the season.

The Ravens could find themselves in the position of seeing three of their cornerstone players (Rice, quarterback Joe Flacco and safety Ed Reed) simultaneously reach unrestricted free agency after the 2012 season.

Rice runs the risk of getting injured in 2012 season and seeing his value drop.

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Ravens' Jimmy Smith suspended for multiple games without pay

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USA Today Sports Images

Ravens' Jimmy Smith suspended for multiple games without pay

OWINGS MILLS, Md. -- Baltimore Ravens cornerback Jimmy Smith has been suspended for four games without pay for violating the NFL's personal conduct policy.

The suspension, announced Tuesday, stems from Smith's behavior toward his ex-girlfriend.

The Ravens released a statement that in part read: "The Ravens fully support the NFL's decision. The NFL found evidence of threatening and emotionally abusive behaviors by Jimmy toward his former girlfriend that showed a pattern of improper conduct. Our player's behavior was inappropriate and wrong."

The suspension will take effect after the final mandated roster cuts on Sept. 1 and extend through Baltimore's game at Pittsburgh on Sept. 30.

Smith, in a statement issued by the Ravens, said: "I promise that I have already learned much and will continue to learn more from this experience. ... I take full responsibility for my past conduct."

Smith will be allowed to participate in all of the Ravens' preseason activities, including games. The 30-year-old is one of Baltimore's best defensive backs.

The team said it reviewed the case to decide whether to keep Smith on the roster.

"We convened a group of Ravens women and men executives, not directly involved with our football operations, to review the matter. We also engaged in conversations with Jimmy about his past behavior and his intention to change," the statement said.

"Additionally, it is our understanding that following a long-running and difficult custody dispute with his former girlfriend and mother of his son, Jimmy has resolved his custody and support issues."

As a result, the Ravens will allow Smith to return after his suspension.

"Jimmy has acknowledged his behaviors were wrong and accepts full responsibility for them. He has completed a clinical evaluation and has agreed to undertake any follow-up care or treatment that may be recommended. ... Jimmy has assured us that he is fully dedicated to making this change. He also understands the consequences if he does not."

Smith has played seven seasons for Baltimore since being drafted in the first round of the 2011 draft. He started in 12 games last season before an Achilles tendon injury forced him to miss the team's final four games. During those four weeks, he chose to accept an NFL suspension for using performance enhancers.

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What we learned from the Ravens' 20-19 preseason win over the Colts

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USA TODAY Sports

What we learned from the Ravens' 20-19 preseason win over the Colts

Another Ravens preseason game is in the books meaning we're one step closer to the real thing.

The Ravens secured a 20-19 win over the Colts by stopping a late two-point conversion run. In doing so, we learned a lot about the 2018 squad.

Here is what we learned from Baltimore's preseason victory over Indianapolis.

Jackson putting into question who should be QB2

Lamar Jackson took the field during the second quarter of Monday's matchup and gave us several reasons to say "yikes."

He went three-and-out in his first three drives, finishing 0-4 with one sack. The rookie QB has been putting his speed on display, but he's quickly learning that NFL style of play is much different than college.

Jackson took a scary hit, flipping himself over a defender in the second quarter. It's clear the rookie is eager to make plays with his feet, but may need a few more pointers from Robert Griffin III on the dangers of getting too far out of pocket in the NFL.

He finished the night 7-of-15 passing for 49 yards with one TD pass and 26 yards rushing. A tightly squeezed seven-yard touchdown pass to Chris Moore highlighted his night, but there is a lot of room for improvement and Jackson knows it.

"I don't feel like I've performed at a high level yet," Jackson said via ESPN. "I came out cold. I got to learn that when the vet is up, I have to stay warm through the process. I didn't do a good job tonight. I started off slow, incompleting a lot of balls that I didn't like, but I ended up throwing a touchdown."

The room for improvement, however, is paving an interesting path for RGIII.

The Ravens have not kept three QBs on their 53-man roster since 2009 with Joe Flacco, Troy Smith and John Beck. I can't imagine the Ravens' coaching staff would feel comfortable letting Jackson take over the reigns if something were to happen to Flacco. In three games, RGIII has put up a 97.7 passer rating.

Even after being unemployed for the entire 2017 season, he's getting re-acclimated to the game just fine. 

Punt returner remains a battle

With the departure of Michael Campanaro, the Ravens are in search of a new punt returner.

Two potential candidates, Tim White and Janarion Grant, did not help their case Monday night. White, a second-year veteran, was stripped on a punt return in the first quarter, while Grant fumbled during a 32-yard kickoff return.

“We’re not giving up on those guys by any stretch,” Harbaugh said after the game. “I just want them to calm down and be solid returners first.”

When you're fighting to make a roster, contributing on special teams will put you ahead of others. With two preseason games left, White and Grant will have to make up for those mistakes.

Ravens defense preparing to be without Jimmy Smith...again

Just before kickoff, The Athletic reported that the Ravens were preparing for a multi-week suspension of Jimmy Smith for violating the leagues' personal conduct policy. Postgame, Harbaugh said Smith was excused from the game for "personal reasons." Smith hasn't played a full season since 2015.

While the team's stats are noticeably better with Smith on the field, there are plenty of options on the depth chart. 2017 first-round pick Marlon Humphrey stepped up in Smith's place last season, along with veterans Brandon Carr and Tavon Young, who started 11 games in 2016 before tearing his ACL last season.

Their capabilities showed against the Colts, picking off Andrew Luck once and only allowing six completions on 13 attempts. Smith is expected to appeal the potential suspension.

Flacco continues to prove he's the starter

Joe Flacco and his new set of receivers continue to impress in the preseason. Flacco went 7-9 for 72 yards and one touchdown to John Brown, who caught the ball with his fingertips in the back of the end zone. 

A 29-yard grab on the sideline from Michael Crabtree also highlighted the first-team offenses' time. Often critiqued for being predictable, Flacco and offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg's first play of the game was a deep ball to John Brown that was incomplete.

While that play didn't pan out, it's still nice to see the offense trying just about everything after finishing 29th in the league in passing yards during the 2017 season.

Ravens vs. Colts notes:

– Left tackle Ronnie Stanley exited the game early during the second quarter with a knee strain. 

– Running back Kenneth Dixon looked explosive averaging 5.3 yards per carry with six rushing attempts for 32 yards. He currently sits third on the depth chart. 

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