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Michael Campanaro could be 'X factor' in final two games

Michael Campanaro could be 'X factor' in final two games

Michael Campanaro drew a healthy cheer in his first action of the season on Sunday – and that was just for a fair catch.

Fans were clearly pleased to see the local fan favorite back on the field for the first time since the preseason, and they were also pleased to see a punt caught confidently and cleanly – something Devin Hester had failed to do consistently in his brief tenure with the Ravens.

“The first one is always the toughest one, so it felt good just to be back there,” Campanaro said. “The wind was a little tough to deal with, but we handled it and we didn’t make any too terrible plays. But it worked out great and it felt good to be back out there.”

Campanaro, unlike Hester, also brings an element to the Ravens offense, and he showed that with a 39-yard jet sweep later in the game.

“We saw something on film that we thought we could attack,” Campanaro said after the game. “I think last time I played a game I ran a jet sweep, so had it back in there and it worked out great.”

The was the longest play of Campanaro’s career, and an encouraging sign for a player who has been sidelined by injuries more often than not during his three-year NFL career.

Campanaro, who grew up in nearby Clarksville and played state championship games with River Hill at M&T Bank Stadium, has played in just nine of 46 games since the Ravens drafted him in the seventh round in 2014.

This fall, Campanaro was placed on injured reserve with a quad injury and then released with an injury settlement in September.

That left the door open to him returning to the team in the second half of the season, and the Ravens signed him to their practice squad last month. He was then elevated to the 53-man roster last week after Hester was released.

Campanaro played just six offensive snaps against the Eagles, but he could be something of an ‘X’ factor in the huge season-ending games at Pittsburgh and Cincinnati. When healthy, the quick, shifty Campanaro (5-9, 191) has shown the ability to get open and make plays as a slot receiver.

“I think as the season goes on I could be out there a little more, and we’ll see how things go,” Campanaro said. “But I’m very comfortable with the offense. I know it very well.”

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Ravens are releasing safety Tony Jefferson after three seasons in Baltimore

Ravens are releasing safety Tony Jefferson after three seasons in Baltimore

The Ravens are releasing safety Tony Jefferson after he spent three years in Baltimore, the team confirmed Friday.

The NFL Network's Ian Rapoport was first with the news.

“This is the worst part of this business,” general manager Eric DeCosta said in a statement released by the team. “Tony is the consummate teammate and someone who is respected by everyone for his leadership, determination, humility and toughness. He’s a friend to all and a true Raven.

"We know he’s going to beat this injury, and we will be cheering for him all along the way. We wish the very best to Tony and his family.”

 

 

The safety suffered a knee injury against the Steelers in Week 5 and was out for the remainder of the season. He was replaced by Chuck Clark, who shined in his new role and received a three-year contract extension on Monday as a result. 

The Ravens will save $7 million by releasing the 28-year-old safety. He originally had a cap hit of $11.65 million for the 2020 season and will have a dead cap hit of $4.65 million. 

Jefferson started each of the 35 games he played in Baltimore and registered a total of 174 tackles and two interceptions across his three seasons. He played nearly every defensive snap before his injury, only coming off the field during the blowout over the Dolphins in Week 1. 

He spent the first four seasons of his career in Arizona before he left for Baltimore and a four-year, 34 million dollar contract. 

According to overthecap.com, the Ravens will be left with a touch over $31 million in cap space after Jefferson’s release. In an offseason with Matthew Judon as a free agent, Jefferson’s release gives them a little bit more flexibility with their offseason plans. 

The Ravens now have Earl Thomas and Clark as the team’s two top safeties, but there are still questions that persist for the depth at that position with Jordan Richards, who recently signed a one-year contract extension, and DeShon Elliott as the team’s backups currently under contract. Brandon Carr, who played safety down the stretch for the team, has a team option for 2020. 

While the safety position certainly isn’t a need for the Ravens at this juncture, there will almost assuredly need to be some younger talent added to the position. 

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Ravens offensive lineman James Hurst suspended for violating NFL’s performance-enhancing substances policy

Ravens offensive lineman James Hurst suspended for violating NFL’s performance-enhancing substances policy

The Ravens will be without one of their backup offensive linemen to start the 2020 season, as James Hurst was suspended by the NFL for four games without pay after he violated the NFL’s policy on performance-enhancing substances.

Hurst made two starts and appeared in all 16 games for the Ravens last season. He played a total of 194 offensive snaps as a utility offensive lineman, predominantly used as a swing tackle and offensive guard.

Hurst, 28, who signed a four-year contract extension with the Ravens in 2018, is owed $8 million in base salary over the next two seasons, both of which carry a cap hit of $5.25 million.

He also has a dead cap hit of $2.5 million in 2020 and 1.25 in 2021, should the team decide to move on from the former North Carolina Tar Heel. The team would save 2.75 million dollars in 2020 should they release him.

Hurst has played 90 total games in his career in six years in the NFL, all of which were with the Ravens. 

The offensive line is slowly becoming more of a need for the Ravens with Hurst’s suspension. That’s in addition to Matt Skura’s recovery from a knee injury and the potential of Marshal Yanda’s retirement.

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