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The Ravens' past and present an influence on Mark Ingram and Earl Thomas's decision to sign

The Ravens' past and present an influence on Mark Ingram and Earl Thomas's decision to sign

The additions of safety Earl Thomas and running back Mark Ingram kicked off a new era of football in Baltimore, but for both, it was those already attached to the organization that attracted them to the Ravens.

"Well you look at Ed Reed, guys like Ray Lewis. I feel like that's my style of play," Thomas said on what enticed him to sign with the Ravens. "I have that type of swagger. It's a historic franchise so I definitely have an opportunity to bring my blueprint to the table." 

Thomas will have four years to make his mark on the league's No. 1 defense in 2018 and will continue to wear No. 29 thanks to cornerback Marlon Humphrey agreeing to swap with the vet.

Coming from a Seahawks defense that earned the nickname of "The Legion of Boom," the six-time Pro Bowler's game is already influenced by those who have made this defense historic. 

"I've kind of established a great relationship with Ed," Thomas said. "....but you just watch him on film, you watch how he move. Him and Troy Polamalu are probably two [people] I can emulate and close to how I play the game. So, it's just good to see how they looked at the game and try to, not be them, but just watch, and see."

Running back Mark Ingram's desire to wear purple and black had more to do about the Ravens' future than past.

"1,000 percent," Ingram said on if QB Lamar Jackson's style of play had an effect on his decision. "That was a very interesting and something that very [much] caught my attention. Just having an opportunity to be in an offense that runs the ball and Lamar, his run-pass option abilities. Just to be able to bring my game to this offense and be able to help this team, I'm excited about it and it was something that was really intriguing to me." 

Two of the best in the league at their position, Thomas is the only safety in the last decade to record 100 or more tackles, five or more interceptions and two or more forced fumbles in a single season. 

"One thing I know coming here, I know I was gonna be on a great defense," Thomas added. "Defense are gonna win you championships. That was all I needed to know."

For Ingram, who is the Saints' all-time leader in rushing touchdowns and is tied for second in Saints history in total touchdowns while ranking fifth in total yards from scrimmage (7,605), the 29-year-old feels his best years of football are still ahead of him. 

"I feel like I've got many more years of playing this game at the highest level and being one of the best in the game," Ingram added. "I had the opportunity to come here and do that with a great franchise, a great organization, some great teammates so that's what I'm looking forward to."

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Lamar Jackson tweets photo of George Floyd in Ray Lewis jersey

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Lamar Jackson tweets photo of George Floyd in Ray Lewis jersey

Lamar Jackson posted a photo on Twitter Monday of George Floyd wearing a Baltimore Ravens' Ray Lewis jersey. Floyd's death while in police custody has sparked several protests across the country,

"#Rip #BigGeorgeFloyd #FloydFlock," Jackson wrote.

The reigning NFL MVP is one of many college and pro athletes to share their support for Floyd and demand for change regarding police brutality, a group including LeBron James, Michael Jordan, Bradley Beal and Richard Sherman.

On May 25, videos emerged of police officer Derek Chauvin kneeling on the back of Floyd's neck for over eight minutes while making an arrest. Floyd, who was accused of using a counterfeit $20 bill at a deli in Powderhorn, Minneapolis, died later that day.

Chauvin and the three other officers involved in the incident were fired, and Chauvin was later arrested and charged with third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter. 

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Four Ravens that could have a breakout season in 2020

Four Ravens that could have a breakout season in 2020

The Ravens 14-2 season last year was, statistically, one of the best offensive seasons in NFL history. The regular season win-loss record was the best in franchise history and, frankly, there’s really only room to go down — on paper — for the Ravens in 2020. 

But individually, there are a few players that could take a big step forward this upcoming season. Here are four players who are going a bit under the radar that could impress.

EDGE, Jaylon Ferguson

Ferguson might be the player on this list the Ravens would benefit the most from getting a breakout season from. 

As the team’s No. 2 pass-rusher last season, he played in 14 games (nine starts) and had 2.5 sacks. He made 31 combined tackles and had nine quarterback hits. 

Now with Matthew Judon playing under the franchise tag, a productive season would give the Ravens a legitimate second pass-rusher off the edge to compliment Judon on the other side. His potential increase in production isn’t just based on Ferguson’s development from year-to-year, either. 

The Ravens made vast improvements to the front seven over the offseason and added veterans  Calais Campbell and Derek Wolfe, as well as rookies Justin Madubuike and Broderick Washington. With an improved interior rush, Ferguson could reap the benefits and have a breakout second season. 

If he does, not only will the Ravens have one of the best secondaries in the NFL, they’ll have one of the best defensive fronts, too.

WR, Miles Boykin

Boykin is maybe the easiest answer on this list. Not only does Boykin expect to have a breakout season, the Ravens expect him to as well. 

But it won’t come easy for the second-year, 6-foot-4 wideout. 

He had just 13 catches for 198 yards and three touchdowns last season, which placed him eighth on the team in targets and receptions. Just two players ahead of him on the list, Hayden Hurst and Seth Roberts, departed in the offseason. 

The Ravens also added wide receivers Devin Duvernay and James Proche in the third and sixth rounds, respectively, in April’s draft and then drafted running back J.K. Dobbins in the second round. Simply, there might not be a lot of targets to go around. 

And, with Marquise Brown now healthy in his second season, Boykin will have serious competition for targets in a monster year for his career outlook in Baltimore. 

ILB, Patrick Queen

Queen is the likeliest rookie to break out on the Ravens, and for good reason. 

He was the team’s first pick at 28th overall, at the biggest position of need on the roster. He’ll be handed an immediate starting spot and will play behind three big defensive linemen in Brandon Williams, Campbell and Wolfe. 

Defensively, the Ravens ranked 20th in the NFL in yards-per-carry (4.4) and 21st in sacks (37) last year, both numbers which should improve in the 2020 season. Queen should be the one to reap the benefits of that immediately. 

With a defensive line that’s vastly improved from a year ago, Queen — a three-down linebacker — should boost the Ravens’ front seven both in the run and pass game.

RB, J.K. Dobbins

Dobbins requires a bit of an exception to make this list. 

His 2019 season at Ohio State was one of the best in Buckeyes’ history. He had 301 carries for 2,003 yards (6.7 yards per carry) and scored 21 rushing touchdowns. But while his time at Ohio State screamed immediate starter in the NFL, he was drafted by one of the few teams in the league where that’s not abundantly clear. 

He’ll join the depth chart behind Mark Ingram and with Gus Edwards and Justice Hill to compete for touches out of the backfield. That’s no easy task for the Ravens to manage. 

If, however, the Ravens manage the backfield’s touches successfully, there’s an opening for Dobbins to seize a bigger role in the backfield than some might expect. 

Make no mistake, the Ravens didn’t spend the 55th overall pick on a player to sit him on the bench. As to how much he’ll see the field depends on both Ingram’s play and Dobbins’ development, though. 

But if Ingram, who had 1,018 yards last season on 202 carries, doesn’t see the ball as much, there’s an easy path to being a prominent figure in the Ravens’ backfield.

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