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The view from the Cleveland media


The view from the Cleveland media

The tenor comingout of Cleveland in the wake of the Ravens' 23-16 win over the Browns onThursday night is largely positive. After all, despite a slow start offensively, the Brownshad the ball in their hands with a chance to tie on the game's final play in avenue where the Ravens hardly ever lose.It was a gameeffort from a young team with some potential, but in the end, it was the sameresult for the Browns, who fall to 0-4 and remain the AFC's only winless team.Here is how someof the Cleveland media saw the game:Mary Kay Cabot,Cleveland Plain Dealer"Brownsquarterback Brandon Weeden and his young, inexperienced receivers grew up a lotin Baltimore Thursday night, making the Ravens sweat it out until the last playof the game when they had a chance to tie it. But in the end, Weeden couldn'tkeep pace with Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco and his veteran crew."Craig Lyndall,Waitingfornextyear.com "The ClevelandBrowns certainly didnt embarrass themselves (just like Josh Cribbs said) inlosing 23-16 to the Ravens, but this team seems to be the absolute opposite ofopportunistic. You have to give the Browns credit for having a plan on defense.They got gashed at times, but they kept Ray Rice under control and got somepressure on Joe Flacco. Offensively, youhave to give them credit for running plays that gave them chances to stay closewith one of the best teams in the league, but you have to win at some point.Too many field goals (three) and not enough touchdowns (one.) Staying closefeels like something worth building on for a while. But just being close couldvery well start to weigh heavier and heavier on this team until (or if) theyfinally make two or three more of those big plays and win a game."

Terry Pluto,Cleveland Plain Dealer"The Browns wereplaying a legitimate Super Bowl contender on a field where Baltimore had won 20of its last 21 before Thursday night. Joe Flacco has matured from a goodquarterback to one of the best in the NFL, and he threw for 356 yards. The Ravensentered the night averaging 33 points -- against New England, Cincinnati andPhiladelphia. While Baltimore's defense has not been as dominating as in thepast, these guys still hit you hard enough to make you grab for the aspirin, ifonly you can remember where you put it.
That's why Ifeared the Browns would be embarrassed on national television. Instead, theyplayed with a lot of heart, keeping the game reasonably close and showing thecountry that Trent Richardson has a chance to be an impact running back."Marla Ridenour,Akron Beacon-Journal "Yes, theBrowns are still wildly inconsistent. They couldnt come up with a big play ondefense when within striking distance. Injuries and cornerback Joe Hadenssuspension continue to leave them lacking in depth and talent, especially asthey attempted to cover Ravens receiver Anquan Boldin, who caught nine passesfor 131 yards. There seems no urgency in play-calling when they fall behind inthe first three quarters, the no-huddle apparently lost on page 999 of an imaginary1,000-page playbook. The Browns bench drew an unsportsmanlike conduct penaltywith 5:27 to go, which doesnt reflect well on Shurmur. ... But the Ravensare expected to be Super Bowl contenders. The Browns didnt roll over as theyhad four days before. They rediscovered their pride, which seemed lacking inthe second half against the Bills."
Nate Ulrich,Akron Beacon-Journal "With thelights shining bright on a national stage, the Browns fired their slingshot andjust missed Goliath by a hair. The Browns started their final drive with 1:05left in the fourth quarter and scratched and clawed enough to put themselves instriking distance at the end of the game, but the Baltimore Ravens escaped apotential upset."

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A Norwegian soccer player turned kicker, Kaare Vedvik fighting for chance on Ravens roster

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A Norwegian soccer player turned kicker, Kaare Vedvik fighting for chance on Ravens roster

Twenty-four-year-old Kaare Vedvik didn't watch his first football game until seven years ago, and now he's fighting for a spot on the Ravens' special teams roster.

Raised in Norway, Vedvik got his first glance at the game when the Super Bowl was being broadcast on Norwegian television for the first time. 

"It seemed like a really, really interesting sport," Vedvik said via The Baltimore Sun. "It was a sport I was never able to try growing up. I loved any sport that was fun, and football seemed really, really fun."

Fun enough to get the competitive soccer player to be an exchange student in the United States during his junior year of high school to test out the game of football. Vedvik returned to Norway for his senior year but impressed college recruiters enough at a Kohl's Kicking Camp in Texas that he was eventually recruited to play at Marshall University in West Virginia.

Staying in Norway would have meant giving up on sports entirely as school becomes more difficult and sports are no longer offered. Vedvik wasn't ready for that.

While at Marshall, Vedvik played in 38 games in four years as both a punter and kicker. He punted 59 times for 2,597 yards — averaging 44 yards — with 26 of them inside the 20-yard line. Vedvik once punted a 92-yarder, making it the seventh-longest punt in FBS history and the longest in 45 years. He ranked in the Top 10 for fewest punt return yards and averaged 63.6 yards-per-kickoff. 

After a private workout with Ravens special teams coordinator/associate head coach Jerry Rosburg, Vedvik became one of 14 Ravens undrafted free agents and has impressed thus far hitting 70 and 67-yard field goals in training camp practices. And in Thursday's preseason game vs. the Rams, Vedvik hit a 56-yard field goal.

"Learning how to kick field goals, the biggest thing for me was to stop swiping across and trying to kick a straighter ball," Vedcik said. "That’s the biggest difference: In soccer, you’re trying to curve balls around a defender."

While Vedvik's chances of dethroning the most accurate kicker in NFL history in Justin Tucker and 12-year veteran punter Sam Koch are slim, he could very well make an impact elsewhere. 

“The guys who are able to do that, they’re just good athletes in general, and Kaare is a good athlete,” Tucker said of the 6-foot-3, 210-pound Norwegian. “He hasn’t played a lot of football. He has plenty of ability.”

“When he came in, he’s got such a strong leg," Koch added. "You’ve got to have a strong leg in order to get looked at. He’s got a lot of talent. It’s one of those things — bringing him in, honing his skills and seeing what he can do from here.”


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What we learned from the Baltimore Ravens' 33-7 win vs. the Los Angeles Rams

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What we learned from the Baltimore Ravens' 33-7 win vs. the Los Angeles Rams

The Ravens returned to M&T Bank Stadium for their second game on the 2018 NFL preseason schedule and gave us a lot of reasons to be excited.

Joe Flacco and his new core of receivers only needed one drive to show off, Lamar Jackson put his speed on display and Robert Griffin III gave Breshad Perriman a much-needed confidence boost.

Here's what we learned from their 33-7 win over the Los Angeles Rams. 

1. First teamers make it count

It took Joe Flacco and the first-team offense all of 4 minutes and 46 seconds to get themselves on the board. During the 10-play, 70-yard drive, Flacco connected with rookie tight end Hayden Hurst, Javorius Allen, John Brown, Michael Crabtree, and finally, Patrick Ricard for a six-yard touchdown. During the impressive drive, Flacco showed his own mobility by getting out of the pocket for a three-yard gain and a classic Flacco slide. 

Flacco connecting with three of his newest receivers is what we've been waiting to see all offseason. Even though it was just one preseason drive, it's a step in the right direction after the Ravens' 2017 offense ranked 29th in the league in passing. 

"Listen, our guys are really showing up," Flacco said at halftime. "We've had a great camp, and it was good to come out here and see it carry over into a game."

"I think once the regular season starts, this isn't going to mean anything," said Flacco postgame. "But what it does for our confidence as a group, our confidence as a team, that will carry us pretty far into the season."

2. A lot of room to grow for Lamar Jackson

Jackson followed up the Ravens' successful first drive with one of his own. The rookie hit Chris Moore for a 36-yard gain before putting his footwork on display faking out several Rams defenders en route to a 9-yard touchdown run. 

While he made improvements from his Hall of Fame Game appearance, Jackson showed he still has a lot to learn, finishing the night 7-18 for 119 yards. With two preseason games under his belt, Jackson received high praise from his head coach John Harbaugh and Flacco on which he carries himself. 

"He does seem poised for a rookie," coach John Harbaugh said. "Even on the sideline, he may not know everything ... but he comes off the field and knows exactly what he did. I think he's really going to continue to blossom for that reason. He handles situations very well."

Flacco followed up on Harbaugh's comments by calling his touchdown run "pretty impressive" and said it's been good getting to talk to him on the sideline and that "he's a confident young kid... [that's been] handling himself really well."

3. A much-needed confidence boost for Perriman

The Ravens showed their former first-round pick they still have faith in him after picking up his $649K roster bonus included in the final year of his rookie contract earlier this offseason.

During last week's Hall of Fame Game, Perriman dropped a pass from RGIII that turned into an interception. However, the duo redeemed themselves against the Rams when Griffin III threw a 32-yard bomb to the back left corner of the end zone to Perriman. 

A smiling Perriman could be found in the Ravens' locker room after the win saying the play was "definitely a confidence boost" and is just thankful to finally be healthy during the preseason for pretty much the first time in his career. 

He will have to continue to fight for his spot on the 53-man roster with the additions of Michael Crabtree, Willie Snead, and John Brown. 

4. Williams continues to be a threat

The 2017 third-round pick followed up his strong performance at the Hall of Fame Game – where he had a total of 41 pass-rushing snaps resulting in six hurries, one QB hit and a pass rush productivity of 17.1 according to Pro Football Focus – with another stellar performance.

During Thursday's matchup, the edge rusher out of Alabama had multiple hurries and a strip sack in the third for the first sack of the preseason.

Williams was following in the footsteps of the Ravens' first-team defense who finished their opening drive with a sack from Matthew Judon on third down to force the punt and an interception in the second from Maurice Canady. 

Ravens vs. Rams Notes

— The competition at right tackle between James Hurst and Orlando Brown Jr. is heating up. Brown Jr. played into the third quarter Thursday after getting in 60 snaps during the Hall of Fame Game. Quarterback Joe Flacco praised the third-round pick saying, "You can't ignore the fact that he's got the ability. He's just so big. He swallows people up. He has the natural ability to play that position and be a really good football player, so it's just exciting to see." 

— The Ravens got two W's last night when John Harbaugh quoted THE Michael Scott when asked about avoiding the injury bug during the preseason. Harbaugh said, "I'm not superstitious, but I am a little stitious." Classic. 

— While the preseason record does not matter whatsoever, the Ravens haven't lost a preseason game since Sept. 3, 2015. They now have ten days until they head to Indianapolis to face the Colts.