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Ravens bolster secondary with Justin Bethel, say goodbye to longtime special teams coach

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Ravens bolster secondary with Justin Bethel, say goodbye to longtime special teams coach

OWINGS MILLS, Md. (AP) -- A whirlwind week for the Baltimore Ravens continued Friday when special teams coach Jerry Rosburg retired after an 11-year run with the team.

The surprise announcement came prior to a news conference that was scheduled to introduce newcomers Mark Ingram and Earl Thomas, who signed as free agents after passing physicals on Friday morning.

On Friday evening, the Ravens reached agreement on a two-year deal with cornerback and special teams standout Justin Bethel, who played last year with Atlanta following a six-year run with Arizona. Bethel was named to the Pro Bowl in 2013-15 for his play on special teams.

Much earlier in the day, Ravens coach John Harbaugh, Rosburg and his successor, Chris Horton, took their places behind a table on a stage at the team's training facility. Hired by Harbaugh in 2008, Rosburg ruled over a unit that was perennially among the league's best.

"I can tell you, without Jerry Rosburg here there's no way we would have had anywhere close to the success we've had," Harbaugh said.

Rosburg said there were several personal reasons behind his decision, most notably the desire to spend more time with his wife and three children. He reviewed some of his friendships with coaches and players and proudly looked back at what he accomplished with Harbaugh, his long-time friend.

Rosburg concluded his brief speech by saying, "Thank you and farewell." And then abruptly walked off the stage.

"I thought Jerry was going to take a question or two!" Harbaugh said with a laugh. "That's classic Jerry Rosburg."

Horton was the assistant special teams coach. He played football at UCLA before appearing in 29 games with the Redskins from 2008-10.

Ingram and Thomas agreed to terms with the Ravens on Wednesday. The addition of the former Pro Bowl stars eased some of the sting of losing free agents C.J. Mosley, Terrell Suggs, Za'Darius Smith and John Brown earlier in the week.

Ingram is a bruising running back who played eight years with the New Orleans Saints. The 29-year-old will likely take over as a starter for Gus Edwards, who ran for 718 yards as a rookie last year.

Ingram knew his time with the Saints was done after the team signed free agent Latavius Murray.

"It was tough. I've got brothers in that locker room," Ingram said. "But it was just time for me, at this point in my career, to move on. I feel like I have my best years in front of me."

Thomas, a free safety, will step in for Eric Weddle, who was released earlier this month. Thomas has been selected to play in six Pro Bowls.

He worked out a deal with Ravens defensive back Marlon Humphrey to get the number he wore in Seattle -- 29 -- which is also his age.

"His mom has a track team, so I might throw a little break that way," Thomas said.

Ingram and Thomas fill key spots, but the Ravens hope they'll also be able to provide leadership in the locker room. That job was handled primarily by Weddle, Suggs and quarterback Joe Flacco, who was traded to Denver this week.

"One of the goals is always to bring in guys who have great character and leadership," first-year general manager Eric DeCosta said. "We've tried to do that in the past. That's something that we prioritize. Ability is important, but so is what they bring to the team. These guys measure up really well in those categories."

DeCosta was a bit discouraged by losing four starters earlier in free agency. By Friday, however, was smiling at a table next to Ingram, Thomas and Harbaugh.

"It's a stressful environment at times, especially when you lose players who are a fabric of your team," DeCosta said. "It's tough to see that happen. But we had a process and a plan how we wanted to approach these guys, and it worked out well for us."

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4 prospects Baltimore Ravens fans should be keeping an eye on in 2019 NFL Draft

4 prospects Baltimore Ravens fans should be keeping an eye on in 2019 NFL Draft

The Baltimore Ravens will add to their historic franchise this weekend during the 2019 NFL Draft. All eyes will be set on who they take with their first pick, whether that's at No. 22 or beyond. 

With a handful of needs, which prospects should you be aware of? Here are four players projected to possibly land with the Ravens Thursday night.

WR D.K. Metcalf, Mississippi

Metcalf grabbed the attention of the football world during the NFL Combine, running a 4.33 40-yard dash and posting a 40.5 vertical jump. The jury is still out, however, on how he'll pan out in the NFL. Metcalf missed part of the 2018 season with a neck injury and a foot injury derailed his 2016 season after just two games. Metcalf admitted that his history of injuries was brought up often when meeting with NFL teams, and his apparent 1.9% body fat simply isn't healthy, according to a combine trainer. Nonetheless, draft experts have the receiver as a top option for the Ravens. 

DE Clelin Ferrell, Clemson

The Ravens are going to need some help on defense after losing Terrell Suggs, C.J. Mosley and Za'Darius Smith in free agency. Ferrell had 38 tackles for loss and 21 sacks over the last two seasons with the National Champions. Standing at 6'4", 264 pounds, the defensive end's combine profile describes him as having "prototypical size, length and strength to offer early help against both the run and pass."

C/G Erik McCoy, Texas A&M

The Ravens could be looking for their center of the future. McCoy earned a starting role with the Aggies during the 2016 season, starting all 16 games after redshirting his freshman season. In his sophomore season, McCoy helped Texas A&M average 406.8 yards per game. From 2016-19, the center helped his team rush for over 2,000 yards. A talent like that could be extremely helpful with Lamar Jackson under center. 

WR Marquise Brown, Oklahoma

Another wide receiver in the mix, Brown averaged more than 18 yards per reception over two years at Oklahoma, racking up 1,300 yards with 10 touchdowns on 75 receptions in 2018 alone. Nicknamed "Hollywood," the 21-year-old's speed and ability to threaten deep "gives him a chance to become the most impactful wideout in this draft."

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.

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Baltimore Ravens and kicker Justin Tucker agree to four-year contract extension

Baltimore Ravens and kicker Justin Tucker agree to four-year contract extension

The most accurate kicker in NFL history is staying in Baltimore.

The Ravens announced Wednesday that they have agreed to a contract extension with kicker Justin Tucker. The four-year extension will keep him in Baltimore through the 2023 season. The extension is reportedly worth $23.05 million, including $12.5 million fully guaranteed in the first two years and an $8 million signing bonus.

Tucker, who was entering the final year of his second contract, is a two-time Pro Bowler who has made 90.1 percent of his field goal attempts through his seven-year career. In 2018, Tucker converted 35-of-39 field goal attempts and 36 of the Ravens' 27 extra points. He was also named AFC Special Teams Player of the Week twice last season and has a franchise-record nine nominations.

An undrafted free agent in 2012, the 29-year-old owns an NFL-record seven-career games with multiple 50-plus-yard field goals and became the only kicker in league history to kick field goals from the 20-, 30-, 40-, 50- and 60-yard ranges in a single game. 

Keeping Tucker in Baltimore is a major win for the Ravens this offseason. The team will hold a press conference at 2:30 p.m. to officially announce his extension. 

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.

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