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Ozzie Newsome's impact on Ravens as General Manager will never be duplicated

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Ozzie Newsome's impact on Ravens as General Manager will never be duplicated

Friday marks the end of an era for the Baltimore Ravens as Ozzie Newsome officially hands his duties as General Manger over to Eric DeCosta.

The plan, which was announced at the start of the 2018 offseason, is a plan that's been in place for several years and the organization has repeatedly enforced that Newsome will remain with the team in a "significant role." 

After a 13-year career with the Cleveland Browns as a tight end that included three Pro Bowls, 662 receptions for 7,980 yard, 47 touchdowns and a Pro Football Hall of Fame enshrinement, Newsome joined the Browns' front office in 1991. When the franchise moved to Baltimore in 1996, Newsome came with and was promoted to Vice President of Player Personnel. 

In the Ravens' first-ever draft, Newsome selected tackle Jonathan Ogden and linebacker Ray Lewis. The two would go on to have 24 combined Pro Bowl's and be enshrined in the the Pro Football Hall of Fame in their first years of eligibility. 

Newsome was then promoted to General Manager in 2002 making him the NFL's first African American General Manager.

In 22 years with the Ravens, 'The Wizard of Oz' has constructed two Super Bowl winning teams, has selected 24 players in the first round that have earned 60 combined Pro Bowls, two Super Bowl MVPs and 21 homegrown Ravens pro bowl players. 

After the team's Week 17 win over the Cleveland Browns that earned them a postseason appearance for the first time in three seasons, head coach John Harbaugh awarded the GM the game ball for his final regular season win. 

The impact Newsome has had on the franchise can not be overlooked. Without a doubt, the Ravens wouldn't have had the amount of success they've had in such a short amount of time without him. And while he'll no longer be leading the Ravens in the draft room, his presences will certainly continue to have an effect on the organization and their future.

Now General Manager Eric DeCosta joined the Ravens in their inaugural year as a scouting intern before being hired as an area scout in 1997 and promoted to Director of College Scouting in 2003 and then Director of Player Personnel in 2009. Working under Newsome as the team's assistant GM since 2012, the 47-year-old credits Newsome for more than just lessons on football.

“Ozzie has taught me a lot about football,” DeCosta said in back in April, “but more about life.”

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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. 

Stay connected to the Ravens with the MyTeams app. Click here to download for comprehensive coverage of your teams.

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