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Marquise Brown made a pit stop at Six Flags on roller coaster journey to NFL

Marquise Brown made a pit stop at Six Flags on roller coaster journey to NFL

Not many first round picks in the NFL Draft once played for College of the Canyons, a community college in Santa Clarita, CA. Then again, not many first round picks are Marquise Brown.

“Hollywood,” as he’s known to just about everyone, spent the first year of his collegiate career catching passes at the junior level after not receiving a single Division 1 scholarship offer.

California junior colleges are not allowed to offer athletic scholarships, so technically, he didn’t get a community college scholarship offer either. Still, Brown refused to give up on his dreams of playing at a Power 5 school one day, and was determined to prove himself at COC.

Prove himself he did. After just a single season in California, Brown received a litany of new offers. He chose to attend Oklahoma, a wise decision considering he spent his next two seasons catching passes thrown by Heisman Trophy winners, a pattern that will continue with Lamar Jackson in Baltimore.

To make it through his year with COC, he had to do something most top picks never have to. He had to get a job.

Brown worked as a roller coaster operator at Six Flags Magic Mountain to make ends meet. His time spent there helped shape his work ethic and commitment, and the results were the same as on the football team at Oklahoma: everyone who met Brown immediately fell in love with his attitude and energy as he quickly rose through the ranks.

The young wideout has had to go through a lot to reach the point of being drafted by the Ravens at 25th overall. He had to walk to work, not owning a car or a bike. He had to balance football, school and a job. He had to (and will continue to) prove doubters wrong when it comes to his size and durability. He had to show he can do more on a football field than just run really, really fast.

The number of successful NFL wide receivers who weigh under 170 pounds (Brown clocks in at 166) is close to nonexistent, but Brown isn’t concerned about that. He quickly acquitted himself to his coworkers at Six Flags, his teammates at Oklahoma, and the decision-makers in the Ravens front office. He has confidence he’ll do the same with his new teammates, and opponents can doubt him at their own peril.

If there’s anything to take away from the long journey Brown’s taken to reach this point, it’s that fans who doubt him are doing so at their own peril, too.

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Ravens training camp preview: How effective of a season can Matthew Judon have?

Ravens training camp preview: How effective of a season can Matthew Judon have?

Rostered outside linebackers: Matthew Judon, Jaylon Ferguson, Tyus Bowser, Aaron Adoeye, Chauncey Rivers, Marcus Willoughby, John Daka.

If there was one position of “need” the Ravens didn’t address this offseason, it was outside linebacker.

The Ravens instead added to their interior defensive line and inside linebacking corps, but didn’t add a notable free agent or draft pick at outside linebacker. Instead, they’re set to run back the group from a year ago. 

The team ranked 21st in the NFL a year ago in sacks with 37, but second in quarterback knockdowns. Essentially, the team dialed up pressure more than anyone else in the league but didn’t get home enough. Now, they're hopeful they've fixed that problem.

And if there is a trickle-down benefit to the outside linebackers of those additions elsewhere, it’s that the Ravens’ outside linebackers should have more one-on-one matchups on the outside. Notably, that includes Matthew Judon. 

He finished the year with 9.5 sacks a season ago and had 33 quarterback hits — more than three times the second-place finisher on the roster. And now, he’ll play on the franchise tag in his fifth season in the league. As the team’s top pass-rusher, he’s got a lot of pressure on his back entering the 2020 season. 

RELATED: HOW MUCH WILL THE ROOKIE LB's MAKE AN IMPACT ON THE DEFENSE?

If Judon is able to become an upper-tier pass-rusher this season, he’ll not only boost the Ravens’ defense, he’ll cement his monster contract that appears on the horizon, whether that comes from the Ravens or another team. 

But while Judon is the headliner of the Ravens’ edge rushers, in terms of success of the team this season, he might not be the most important part of the front seven. It might end up being whoever lines up across from him. 

Judon has shown the ability to be a No. 1 pass-rusher in the NFL, and with the benefit of an improved defense around him, it’s reasonable to assume he can repeat his 9.5 sack performance — or better it — in 2020. That shouldn't be the worry.

Where the true test will come, however, is who lines up as the second outside linebacker on the depth chart. 

Pernell McPhee had three sacks last season, but missed a majority of the season with a torn triceps. The team used rookie Jaylon Ferguson, who had 2.5 sacks, and Tyus Bowser, who had five sacks, in his absence.

With Calais Campbell, Brandon Williams and Derek Wolfe on the defensive line, it’s reasonable to assume that the Ravens’ outside linebackers will get more favorable matchups. 

And if Judon and the host of other outside linebackers are able to get more one-on-one matchups, the Ravens’ could wreak havoc on opposing quarterbacks in 2020. 

So while the Ravens didn’t address their outside linebacker position this offseason, the additions elsewhere on the roster should provide the benefit that position group needed.

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Report: NFL to cut preseason in half, taking away Ravens first and fourth preseason games against the Bills and Redskins

Report: NFL to cut preseason in half, taking away Ravens first and fourth preseason games against the Bills and Redskins

According to a report from ProFootballTalk, the NFL has scrapped its first and fourth preseason games this season and cut the preseason in half. 

The Ravens were scheduled to play the Bills at home on Aug. 14 to open the season, then end the preseason on Sept. 3 against the Redskins. 

RELATED: TRAINING CAMP PREVIEW: INSIDE LINEBACKER

Now, the Ravens’ tentative preseason schedule will have one road game, at the Cowboys on Aug. 22, and home against the Panthers on Aug. 30. 

According to the report, the move was spurred on by two factors: Firstly, that road teams would have trouble moving that many bodies and risk spreading COVID-19. Secondly, that no team has had on-field workouts this summer. Now, with training camps scheduled to start on July 28, teams will have more time to prepare for the season. 

The move came with coronavirus cases continually rising in the United States a day after Dr. Anthony Fauci said new cases could reach 100,000 per day if more preventative measures were not taken. On June 30, the U.S. had 46,042 new cases, the second-highest total since the pandemic began.

Baltimore is still set to report to camp at the end of the month, as is the rest of the NFL. With the new preseason schedule, they’ll have about three weeks to prepare for the first on-field game action of the season. 

The Ravens haven’t lost in the preseason since Sept. 3, 2015, when they lost 20-19 to the Falcons. 

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