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Ravens training camp preview: Are the Ravens' cornerbacks the best in the NFL?

Ravens training camp preview: Are the Ravens' cornerbacks the best in the NFL?

Rostered cornerbacks: Marlon Humphrey, Marcus Peters, Tavon Young, Jimmy Smith, Anthony Averett, Iman Marshall, Terrell Bonds, Khalil Dorsey, Jeff Hector, Josh Nurse.

There might not be a deeper position group in the NFL than the cornerback room in Baltimore. 

Not only do the Ravens have four starting-caliber cornerbacks in Marlon Humphrey, Marcus Peters, Tavon Young and Jimmy Smith, they’ve got younger depth that can serve well in complementary roles as well. 

Anthony Averett and Iman Marshall spent time on special teams a season ago, but could fill in a bigger role if the team needed. 

And what’s scariest about the Ravens’ cornerback room is that they’re set to be improved from last season.

Young, one of the better slot cornerbacks in the league, missed the entire season with a neck injury. In his absence, though, the unit still flourished. 

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They traded for Peters midway through the season with Smith sidelined due to an injury, which allowed the group to shine down two of the team’s cornerbacks at the start of training camp. 

With Young sidelined, Humphrey bumped down into the slot and handled that role extremely well all season. He totaled three interceptions and 14 passes defensed. 

Peters was an immediate boost to the Ravens’ defense, and registered three interceptions, three of which went for touchdowns, in just 10 games. 

Both Peters and Humphrey were selected to the Pro Bowl and named All-Pros.

Those two weren’t just strong on the surface, either. Both of them allowed completion percentages of below 58 percent and between the two of them, allowed just five passing touchdowns in coverage. Humphrey allowed a passer rating of 68.4 while Peters allowed one of 63.4. 

Deeper on the depth chart with Young expected back in the fold, the Ravens depth is something to boast about as well.

They’ll be able to run three-cornerback sets with Humphrey, Young and Peters on the field at the same time, something they’ll need to keep up with the offensive weapons in Kansas City, Cleveland and Cincinnati.

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Even without Young, as well as Smith and Peters for about half the season, the Ravens’ secondary was still one of the best units in the NFL.

A year ago, the Ravens allowed a team completion percentage of 58.4 percent and were sixth-best in the NFL with 3,315 passing yards allowed. They surrendered just 15 passing touchdowns, second best in the NFL.

While there will likely be a battle for the sixth cornerback spot on the roster, the depth chart is mostly set entering training camp, meaning Khalil Dorsey, Jeff Hector and Josh Nurse will all likely be competing for practice squad time. 

Now, the Ravens have everyone in the cornerback room healthy. And it’s a unit that could be the best in the NFL.

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Ravens DT Brandon Williams doesn't see how opposing offenses can attack their defense

Ravens DT Brandon Williams doesn't see how opposing offenses can attack their defense

Ravens defensive tackle Brandon Williams looks a bit different entering the 2020 season. He’s also got some teammates that look different, too. 

The Ravens added defensive tackles Calais Campbell and Derek Wolfe to the front line, meaning Williams will kick inside to nosetackle this season. He’s changed his body composition as a result, and has shaved off some fat and added more muscle.

“I’ve got to eat the greens, eat the vegetables, the broccoli and whatnot,” Williams said Friday on a Zoom call with reporters. “But, then just working on my body composition, just working on being more — not lighter — but more toned so I can play that nose and keep running the way I do. Those two additions, Wolfe and Calais, I’ve got the twin towers right next to me — those two giants. I don’t see how offenses can come at us, man.”

In order to slim down a little bit the 31-year-old ate with a more watchful eye, as he knew his body would respond accordingly during the season.

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“I’m trying to get my slim-sexy going on — you know what I’m saying?” Williams quipped. “You know, the older you get, the harder it is to get that weight off you, the harder it is to move. You have to think about the joints and all the double-teams you’re taking up and all that stuff. So, when you come in a little bit lighter, it just relieves all that pain a lot of that — I guess — nagging stuff you have to worry about early on.”

Williams had 34 tackles last season and one sack, but is hopeful his move back to the nosetackle spot after the additions of Campbell, Wolfe and draft choices Justin Madubuike and Broderick Washington will create a defensive line capable of wreaking havoc on opposing offenses. 

“Those two dudes are good, and I like what I’ve got,” Williams said. “I like my team. I like the way they look, and the new guys are coming up great. We’ve got a lot of things going for us on the D-line and I’m excited to see it.”

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A very good day for NFL tight ends George Kittle and Travis Kelce

A very good day for NFL tight ends George Kittle and Travis Kelce

It’s been a good day for tight ends in the NFL.

To start the day George Kittle became the highest-paid tight end in the league. Shortly after, Travis Kelce signed an extension keeping him in Kansas City for an additional four years. Now it’s hard to talk about NFL tight ends and not mention either Kittle or Kelce’s name as two of the best in the league. It was only fitting that the two get paid on the exact same day.  

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Kittle and the San Francisco 49ers reached an agreement on a five-year, $75 million contract extension. Kittle deserves every penny of that deal as he’s racked up 2,945 receiving yards, the most by any tight end in NFL history after three seasons. He’s a do-it-all tight end who has great hands, blocks like a guard, and is a huge asset to the locker room.  

Meanwhile, the Kansas City Chiefs and Travis Kelce agreed to a four-year, $57.25 million extension. Kelce is a huge part of the Chiefs offense and his stats show that he’s one of the best in the league. He’s the only tight end to ever record four straight 1,000 yard seasons and he’s the fastest tight end ever to 425 career catches and 5,500 receiving yards.  

Kittle and Kelce have set the bar high with their play on the field, but they have now also set the bar for the price tag at their position that comes along with it. 

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