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Five things to know about new Ravens DL Calais Campbell

Five things to know about new Ravens DL Calais Campbell

The Baltimore Ravens significantly improved their defensive front on Monday when they traded for five-time Pro Bowler Calais Campbell from the Jacksonville Jaguars in exchange for a fifth-round pick. 

Here are five things to know about Campbell.

1. Campbell was named the Walter Payton Man of the Year in 2019

One of the most prestigious honors an NFL player can earn off the field is the Walter Payton Man of the Year award, which Campbell took home last season. 

The newest Ravens defensive lineman was honored at the NFL Honors award show in early February for his outstanding work in the Jacksonville community. Campbell, along with his mother and seven siblings, founded the CRC Foundation in 2009 and has engaged in several community-related activities throughout his tenure in the NFL.

This past June, he invited 250 kids to the Calais Campbell JaxPAL Youth Football and STEM Camp, which was a combination of teaching football and mentoring the youth. Additionally, he made frequent visits to a local middle school as part of his foundation's book club, promoting a reading-friendly learning environment.

Campbell is a three-time recipient of the award.

2. He is a five-time Pro Bowler and a two-time All-Pro recipient.

The 33-year-old has been in the NFL for 12 seasons, but perhaps his best football has been his most recent.

The defensive end has made the Pro Bowl the last three seasons and was named to first-team All-Pro in 2017. Two of the past three seasons Campbell has reached double-digit sacks.

Campbell was named the Defensive MVP in the 2019 Pro Bowl, while his new teammate, Lamar Jackson, won the Offensive MVP award in the NFL's all-star game.

3. Campbell was the best defender against the run in 2019.

According to Pro Football Focus' advanced grading metrics, no one was better at defending against the run than Campbell in 2019.

His run grade of 90.8 was the league's best, higher than Aaron Donald, Von Miller, and Cam Heyward. The 2019 season was the fourth straight year Campbell put together a grade of 90.0 or above.

4. At age 33, Campbell has been quite durable throughout his 12-year career.

Over the past five years, Campbell has started and played every single game, all while playing the best football of his career. Over 12 seasons, he has missed just six games and played nine full 16-game seasons.

For someone his size and the amount of contact he faces on a weekly basis, it's impressive he's been able to stay on the field as much as he has.

5. At 6-foot-8, Campbell is one of the tallest players to play in the NFL.

Only two players in the 2019 season -- Steelers guard Alejandro Villanueva (6-foot-9) and Lions tackle Dan Skipper (6-foot-10) were taller than Campbell.

Campbell's height, combined with his athleticism, makes him one of the hardest players to block, and also a force defending the run.

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Steelers will require fans to wear a mask at Heinz Field, should they be allowed

Steelers will require fans to wear a mask at Heinz Field, should they be allowed

If fans are permitted to attend Pittsburgh Steelers home games this fall, there's one item they can't forget: a mask.

Steelers' director of communication, Burt Lauten, explained the decision to require fans to wear a mask in a statement on Tuesday.

"Our goal is to still have fans at Heinz Field this year with the understanding that social distancing, as well as all fans being required to wear masks, will play a role in the capacity to ensure a safe atmosphere," Lauten said, via ESPN. "We will continue to work with the NFL and public health officials to finalize plans for fans to attend our home games."

Pittsburgh was one of the first franchises to alter its ticketing plans this season, as they decided in May to trim half of their individual game ticket sales due to the coronavirus pandemic. 

The news comes just hours after their AFC North rival, the Baltimore Ravens, announced that M&T Bank Stadium will be capped at less than 14,000 fans this fall, should fans be allowed to attend games.

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In June, The Athletic reported that the NFL will not place a limit on capacity at games, allowing each individual team to make the decision themselves.

"Attendance will be a state-by-state, county-by-county thing," an anonymous NFL source told The Athletic. "It will not be a one size fits all."

Additionally, the NFL has said that the first 6-8 rows of lower bowl sections, including field-level suites, will be blocked off this fall to help slow the spread of the virus. Those sections will be covered with tarps, which teams can use to sell advertising, similarly to what the Premier League in England has done.

With training camp still a few weeks away, there are a lot of virus-related questions the NFL must answer beforehand.

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Stephen A. Smith and ESPN poll leave Lamar Jackson out of top four quarterbacks

Stephen A. Smith and ESPN poll leave Lamar Jackson out of top four quarterbacks

Despite his 2019 MVP season, many NFL experts still aren’t convinced that Lamar Jackson is the league’s best.

In a debate with Domonique Foxworth on ESPN’s First Take on Monday, Stephen A. Smith shared his top-five quarterbacks in the NFL, slotting the reigning MVP fifth overall. 

Two days later, ESPN released a poll conducted with 50 NFL personnel to rank the top 10 quarterbacks in the league this season. Jackson was ranked sixth behind Patrick Mahomes, Russell Wilson, Aaron Rodgers, Deshaun Watson and Drew Brees.

But after the record-breaking season the Ravens quarterback had –– a performance that earned him the league’s top individual honor –– how can so many still doubt his ability to succeed?

Smith cited two faults of Jackson’s game to justify his claim –– passing inability and playoff performance.

“There was a guy that ran the football very, very effectively, matter of fact as a quarterback led the team to have one if not the top-rated run attacks in football,” Smith said. “That would happen to be Tim Tebow when he was with the Denver Broncos. But what did I repeatedly say about my friend? He couldn’t throw the football at the NFL level. I never believed it, and that was a problem.”

Smith referenced Tebow’s rise and fall in the NFL and credited his inability to find longevity as a starting quarterback to his inconsistent and inaccurate arm –– something Jackson similarly struggles with.

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The Ravens led the league in rushing offense and ranked second in total offense but earned just the 27th spot in passing offense. Jackson ranked eighth in completion percentage among all quarterbacks but first in rushing yards and sixth in rushing yards among all players. For Smith, this discrepancy does not warrant Jackson a top-two quarterback spot.

“No one can run the football like Lamar Jackson. Nobody,” Smith said. “Not at the quarterback position in the NFL. We know that. That’s just on another level. But in terms of throwing the football, even though he’s had his moments, and he definitely improved in accuracy in terms of completing 66 percent of his passes last season, I don’t think he can throw the football like Deshaun Watson.”

Smith referenced Watson and a number of other quarterbacks higher on his list like Patrick Mahomes, Russell Wilson and Drew Brees and praised their accuracy, leadership and veteran play, which earned them the spots ahead of Jackson.

In addition to the issues with Jackson’s arm, Smith also believed his playoff performance holds him back. Jackson posted an 0-2 record in his first two playoff performances, falling to the Chargers in 2018 and the Titans in 2019. 

Overall in his career, he completes 63.7% of his passes and posts a 4.66 TD/INT ratio. On the other hand, during the playoffs, he completed 51.1% of his passes and posted a 1.0 TD/INT ratio.

As Smith noted while he did improve from a 48% completion rate to 52% in the playoffs this year, he will not reach an elite level of play until he can perform in the postseason.

While Smith was certainly skeptical of Jackson’s ability to succeed in the league long-term, he still understood the hype.

“I’ll tell you this though, he is top-two box office. He might even be number one.”

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