The 2015 Baltimore Ravens are officially a distant memory that all Ravens fans can finally now forget. The 2016 season is upon us, and the Ravens have given reason to believe that this team can turn it around.
Last year’s Ravens began, and ended, with injuries. It started in Week One with Terrell Suggs’ torn Achilles tendon, and followed with 19 other players put on season ending Injured Reserve throughout the season, including Steve Smith Sr., Joe Flacco, and Justin Forsett.
These four players, among others, are back, thanks to some clever roster maneuvering by the Ravens’ Front Office. And they’re ready to get sacks (Suggs), throw it deep (Flacco), run it up the middle (Forsett), and potentially cement his legacy by proving he belongs in the Pro Football Hall of Fame one day (Smith Sr.).
Along with the injured players returning, the Ravens made big signings in free agency and the draft that are sure to fix the holes in last year’s roster.
For starters, two players the Ravens signed on the same day of free agency, Eric Weddle and Mike Wallace are here to play big. Weddle went through a messy divorce with the San Diego Chargers, and can’t wait to prove that he is not past his prime. Wallace, a former arch nemesis of the Ravens, is eager to show he still has speed, can run more than the deep route, and can torch the Pittsburgh Steeler’s young, suspect secondary.
Baltimore also signed Ben Watson with the hopes of building on a career year at the tight end position, but he suffered a torn Achilles during the preseason and will miss the entire year. Fingers crossed that doesn’t foreshadow another injury-riddled season.
This year’s draft class could go down as the best in recent Ravens’ history. Obviously, Ronnie Stanley was drafted to protect Flacco for the rest of his career, and if preseason is any indication, Stanley showed he’s ready for the big leagues.
Kamalei Correa (LB), Alex Lewis (OG/OT), Kenneth Dixon (RB), and Tavon Young (CB) all figure to make an impact on this 2016 squad, and they can.
The Ravens have the type of balance between young and veteran players that most teams covet. They have young building blocks like C.J. Mosley, Timmy Jernigan, Za’Darius Smith and Terrence West. They have solid veterans in Kamar Aiken, Mike Wallace, Lardarius Webb and Jimmy Smith. And they have team leaders in Joe Flacco, Terrell Suggs, Steve Smith Sr., and Eric Weddle.
Among their young building blocks and team leaders, they employ quiet, productive contributors in Marshal Yanda, Elvis Dumervil, Rick Wagner, and Justin Forsett.
This team has potential. It has the depth to deal with injuries, unlike last year. Flacco can throw it deep, over the middle, and underneath. A luxury he usually does not have. A group of running backs that can run anywhere on the field, as well as catch screen passes at any given moment. This offense could top 2014’s Franchise Best.
They have the ability to create pressure on any given play hosting a largely talented front seven, something that DC Dean Pees has proven he can be successful with. The secondary is boom or bust this year, but with an improved pass rush, anything would be an improvement on 2015’s six interceptions.
Ultimately, all of this optimism is purely speculation and hope. But luckily for Football fans, the season of speculation is over, and week one is finally here.
Ravens’ Alex Collins Arrested
Baltimore Ravens running back Alex Collins was arrested early on Friday morning following a car crash about a mile from the Ravens’ team facility, according to a report from the Baltimore Sun.
Per the report: Officers responded to a report of a car that had crashed into a tree on the 10000 block of Dolfield Road at about 6:48 a.m. Friday morning, Baltimore County police spokeswoman Officer Jennifer Peach said.
Collins, 24, was arrested, however charges were not made public at the time of this writing.
Ravens vice president of public relations Chad Steele told The Baltimore Sun that the team has spoken with law enforcement and is aware of the situation involving Collins.
Collins is coming off a down year with Baltimore after a breakout campaign in 2017. Collins managed only 411 yards rushing in 2018 and was placed on injured reserve back in December, ending his season early.
Ray Rice Says He Is Done With Football
Former NFL running back Ray Rice, who had been working to try and get a second chance in the NFL over the past couple of years, is no longer pursuing a comeback.
“I’ll be the first one to say it; I don’t have to retire to tell you I’m done with football” Rice said, during an interview on CBS This Morning.
“The pressure I was under of being a star, that was the person I hated the most.”
Rice was suspended indefinitely back in 2014 when a video surfaces showing Rice punching his then-fiancee, now wife, Janay Rice while the two were alone in an elevator.
Rice was never picked up by another team following the conclusion of his suspension, and his release from the Baltimore Ravens.
Rice said that he sees “similarities” between his situation and the one of former Kansas City Chiefs running back Kareem Hunt, who was recently cut loose by the team when a video surfaced showing him pushing and kicking a woman in a hallway.
“Somewhere down the line everybody who’s sayin’, ‘Does he deserve a second chance for football?’ And this that and the other— I actually got my second chance” Rice said of Hunt, who cleared waivers and is now a free agent.
“During my darkest moments, and I used to ask myself, ‘How could she even be—want to support me?’ … That’s understandable. But I think what’s misunderstood about us is that the friends we were before the incident. That’s why, like I said, when I look at Kareem Hunt, I wanna know what his life was like. I want to know what happened in life. I know Kareem has apologized, and has expressed remorse for survivors of domestic violence.”
Ravens Trying To Entice Fans With Lower Concession Prices
The Baltimore Ravens are attempting to win back fans and their latest plan is making a big step toward doing just that as the team announced on Tuesday that they will reduce concession prices at M&T Bank Stadium in 2018.
The Ravens have been on a mission to bring back fans who were angered by some players’ national anthem protests coupled with their 3-year playoff drought.
A series of moves have demonstrated their efforts. The team invited fans to ask questions at a media pre-draft news conference held a question-and-answer session with fans at the team facility with owner Steve Bisciotti, coach John Harbaugh and general manager Ozzie Newsome, and also have had team president Dick Cass meet and talk to fan clubs.
While the team has sold out every game during their 20-year history at M&T Bank Stadium, empty seats grew in numbers as the 2017 season wore on, and the no-shows are very obvious.
The organization is taking this initiative very seriously.
“It’s something I would really like to take a hard look at, and at least, come up with select items that we can do,” Bisciotti said back in February of this year.
“If it means us … I can’t make Aramark do that with me, but I can make them go along as long as it’s my share of the profits that I’m waiving. Yeah, I’d like to take a look at that. I think we could probably do that.”
There is an official news conference scheduled for Thursday where the Ravens will officially announce price reductions on concessions.
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