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Williams picks his spot to shine

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Williams picks his spot to shine

A frustrating season for maligned cornerback Cary Williams turned on one play Thursday night, as he stepped in front of a pass by Browns quarterback Brandon Weeden and returned the interception 63 yards for a touchdown, the biggest play of the Ravens 23-16 win over the Browns at M&T Bank Stadium on Thursday night.

Williams had been picked on by Patriots quarterback Tom Brady repeatedly in the Ravens 31-30 win over New England last week, as Brandon Lloyd, often covered by Williams, hauled in nine catches for 108 yards. It was the latest big game for a receiver against Williams, who seemed be viewed as the weak link in the tough Ravens secondary.

I knew if they kept messing with him that hed eventually come through, cornerback Lardarius Webb said. I work with him every day. Ive been working with him since training camp and I know what he got.

Dating to the preseason, a string of top-flight quarterbacks including Brady, Andy Dalton, Matthew Stafford and Matt Ryan had seemingly looked to exploit matchups with Williams, the fifth-year veteran out of Washburn.

But when Weeden did that one too many times, Williams was ready.

The Browns were driving, trailing just 16-10 late in the third quarter. Facing third-and-5 at the Ravens 43-yard line, Weeden looked to throw to Travis Benjamin along the left sideline. Williams jumped the route, grabbed the ball in the rain and raced down the sideline untouched for the touchdown.

It was his first career interception, and the Ravens 39th defensive touchdown since 2003, the most in the league.

Im glad I was able to recognize the route and the formation, and I just went out there and made the play, he said.

Ravens coach John Harbaugh said Williams was the difference in the game with the interception return touchdown.

Here is a guy who was under a lot of heat from you all, but he wasnt under heat in our building because we know what kind of player he is, and he comes up big. You have faith in your guys and you believe in your guys. I think he deserved that.

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Reaction: Peter King picks Ravens 12th in 2019 Power Rankings

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Reaction: Peter King picks Ravens 12th in 2019 Power Rankings

With OTAs underway, Peter King has released his 2019 NFL preseason power rankings and of the biggest surprises is the Baltimore Ravens landing at No. 12 on the list. Although stud Lamar Jackson surprised people last season, given the substandard state of their defense and the burden on Jackson to shoulder the load offensively, King may have the Ravens ranked a few spots too high. 

Let's start with the defense; it's got more holes than a slice of swiss cheese. Most notably they lost linebacker Terrell Suggs, the heart and soul of their defense for the past decade. Although past his prime, Suggs is still a productive player and they will undoubtedly miss his leadership. They released defensive back Eric Weddle, who was coming off two straight Pro-Bowl appearances. Their justification was that he's 34 and by releasing him, they could allocate the money to re-signing All-Pro linebacker C.J. Mosley. Solid reasoning, if Mosley didn't sign with the New York Jets in the offseason.

Credit must be given, however, to the four-year, $55 million contract given to former Seattle Seahawks All-Pro safety Earl Thomas. Coming off a broken leg, he is easily the biggest X-factor for this defense. If he produces like the Earl Thomas of old, it'll more than makeup for the loss of the Weddle. They'll also be getting back defensive tackle Willie Reed from injury, who's young and hungry.

Although last years' defense was one of, if not the top unit in the NFL, all anyone could manage to talk about was the dynamic offense led by rookie quarterback Lamar Jackson. Coach John Harbaugh threw caution to the wind and handed the reins to Jackson in Week 10, and the Ravens proceeded to win six of their next seven games behind a run-dominated offense.

It's a toss-up if they'll be able to replicate that success this season. On the one hand, the unconventional attack took the league by storm last year and one could argue the league just needed time to adapt to this new-look offense. On the other hand, the Ravens did add some electric new pieces to the offense to replace the losses of wide receivers Michael Crabtree and John Brown. 

They added Mark Ingram who is one of the best dual-threat running backs in the league when healthy. Their first-round pick, wide receiver Marquise Brown, is one of the fastest players Todd McShay has ever evaluated. Third-round pick wide receiver Miles Boykin was one of the 20 fastest players at the draft and fourth-round pick  Justice Hill registered the fastest 40 time for running backs at the combine. Adding young, electric talent will enhance Jackson's already stellar playmaking ability. 

At tight end, they're one of the deepest teams in the NFL, headed up by Nick Boyle and Hayden Hurst. Keep in mind, however, that this is the NFL: it all starts with the quarterback. Jackson completed passes at a 58.2% clip last season. If the Ravens are serious about building around him, he'll have to improve as a passer. 

Taking the defensive deficiencies and questions on offense into account, and 12 is too high for the preseason power rankings; 16 is more appropriate. In his article, King writes about the Ravens saying, "They could win 11. They could win six." If I had to choose one outcome I'd take the latter. 

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Baltimore Ravens Roundup: OTAs Day 1

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Baltimore Ravens Roundup: OTAs Day 1

Kick off your Tuesday with the latest Baltimore Ravens news including a recap of the first day of OTAs.

Player/Team Notes: 

1. Yesterday, (Monday) was the first day of the Ravens' OTAs. OTAs continue today (Tuesday) as the Ravens work on developing a new offense. Check out some of the highlights here. 

2. The Baltimore Ravens have officially announced the full 90-man roster that will be competing for an official team roster spot in OTAs this summer. 

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 for news points.

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