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The unsung heroes of special teams

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The unsung heroes of special teams

Jacoby Jones rightfully gets most of the credit for his electrifying returns, including his 63-yard punt return touchdown that sparked the Ravens to their 13-10 win over the Steelers at Heinz Field on Sunday night.

But there are 10 other men on the return team, and as Jones will quickly point out, they are critical to Jones' success.

"The boys set the wall for me," he said after the game Sunday night.

Those are the unsung heroes of this team, and they had a huge hand in the win over the Steelers seeing as Jones' score was the only time the Ravens found the end zone.

For a player on the so-called roster bubble in August, his work on special teams often dictates whether he will earn an NFL paycheck. And the play of the return unit this year has validated the roster choices made by general manager Ozzie Newsome and the Ravens, as well as the schemes drawn up by coach John Harbaugh and special teams coordinator Jerry Rosburg.

A more thorough look at that punt return score -- the first in the regular season against the Steelers in Heinz Field history -- shows just how big a part was played by the guys whose names don't usually show up in the headlines or box score.

Jones explained that Rosburg called for a left return, and after Jones fielded the punt, he hesitated for a moment, "so they could get down and get on their blocks."

In that time, Sean Considine to the inside and Josh Bynes to the outside sealed off their opponents and created a huge running lane for Jones, who shot through the gap.

"Josh Bynes did a great job of pushing his guy off when I got inside," Jones said.

Jones proceeded virtually untouched the rest of the way, thanks in part to a hit by Albert McClellan and a punishing block by James Ihedigbo.

Reserve safety Anthony Levine, called up from the Ravens' practice squad earlier in the week and playing in his first NFL game, also was a factor, as he picked off cornerback Cortez Allen at the Steelers' 37-yard line as Jones cut to the right.

From there, it was a footrace to the corner of the end zone between Jones and Steelers punter Drew Butler. No contest.

After his franchise-record third return touchdown of the season, Jones was doing all the dancing, but make no mistake: Role players on the return unit such as Considine, Bynes and Levine deserve some dancing shoes, too.

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Baltimore Ravens Roundup: Lamar Jackson has his best practice yet

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Baltimore Ravens Roundup: Lamar Jackson has his best practice yet

Kick off your Friday with the latest Baltimore Ravens news.

1. The Ravens are hopeful Earl Thomas will be a leader for their new defense which Thomas called "very complex." "This defense is very complex compared to what we were doing in Seattle,” Thomas said to Ravens media. “We were just playing Cover-3 all the time. Now, we’re making calls on the fly. That’s the biggest adjustment for me.”

Additionally, Thomas told media members after practice that he's made "fast friends" with quarterback Lamar Jackson. "He's a very funny guy, I don't know if you all know that," Thomas said.

2. Speaking of Lamar Jackson, he reportedly had his best day of practice so far this offseason according to Ravens media. Jackson's throws looked much better and he was quick in the pocket.


Looking Ahead:

July 15: 4 p.m. deadline to get a long-term deal done with designated franchise tag players.

The 2019 NFL schedule is set! See the Baltimore Ravens defend the AFC North at M&T Bank Stadium this season. Get your tickets now at www.BaltimoreRavens.com/tickets.

Credit: Baltimore Ravens and Rotoworld for news points.

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RG3 likens KD's desire to play hurt to his own injury in 2012

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RG3 likens KD's desire to play hurt to his own injury in 2012

Like most athletes, Robert Griffin III was empathetic towards Kevin Durant when he first went down, taking to Twitter on Monday night to voice his concern. 

Today, the Ravens' veteran quarterback told ESPN's The Undefeated that he's all too familiar with Durant's decision to play and subsequent injury. RG3 likened it to his own brief playoff stint in 2013. Just four weeks removed from an injury to a knee that required reconstructive surgery in college, RG3 started – only to get hit late in the fourth and watch both his season and career come to a screeching halt. 

But that's not how RG3 views it. 

"I was looking at it like I'm out for here for my brothers. I'm out here for my team. And that was the only place I wasnted to be." 

And Griffin doesn't believe he's alone in that thought process, suggesting it was KD's mindset ahead of Game 5 as well.

"Most of us are built to fight. So whenever we get a situation where we’re a little injured or a little banged-up, our first reaction isn’t to get out of there and rest. Our first reaction is to figure out how we can keep going. That’s what makes a guy like Kevin Durant great." 

It remains to be seen whether KD's recovery will be smoother than RG3's. The former Heisman Trophy winner never came close to matching his breakout rookie season, eventually losing his starting job in Washington in 2014.

Durant will miss all of next season, meaning the former Montrose Christian star's next NBA appearance would be as a 32 year-old.