Notes, Quotes

The Sports Xchange

April 29, 2018 at 10:44 pm.

–Ravens general manager Ozzie Newsome promised a huge shakeup at wide receiver this offseason.

He followed through with that pledge.

Newsome signed John Brown and Michael Crabtree as free agents. Then, the Ravens signed New Orleans restricted free-agent wide receiver Willie Snead IV to a two-year offer sheet that the New Orleans Saints declined to match.

In addition, the Ravens released the disappointing Jeremy Maclin and let both Mike Wallace and Michael Campanaro explore the free-agent market.

As a result, some of the pressure was off Newsome and his staff to take a wide receiver in the first round of the NFL Draft. The team was closely linked to Calvin Ridley, of Alabama, and Maryland’s D.J. Moore. However, Newsome decided to bypass both of those players, opting to take South Carolina tight end Hayden Hurst and Louisville quarterback Lamar Jackson in the first round.

Newsome plans to retire after the 2018 season and assistant general manager Eric DeCosta will assume the main role. The front office, coaches and players are determined to send Newsome out a winner. One of the keys is surrounding quarterback Joe Flacco with more playmakers.

“We’re trying to win this year. In order for us to win this year, we need Joe Flacco,” Newsome said. “That’s why we went and got the receivers. That’s why we went and got the tight end – to give Joe some help. So we want to win this year.”

The Ravens did add a pair of tight ends — Hurst and Mark Andrews — that will provide Flacco with another pair of sure-handed pass catchers.

They also drafted New Mexico receiver Jaleel Scott in the fourth round. At 6-foot-1, 218 pounds, he will provide a big target for Flacco. Baltimore also grabbed UCLA receiver Jordan Lasley, who has dealt with some legal problems but has a big upside.

–The Ravens are fully focused on ending a three-year playoff drought this season.

As a result, there has been a sense of urgency permeating from the team’s practice facility. The Ravens coaches saw an encouraging sign when several key players showed up for voluntary strength and conditioning work led by Steve Saunders.

Some of the notable players that participated were quarterback Joe Flacco, running back Alex Collins, receiver Michael Crabtree, offensive lineman Alex Lewis, linebacker C.J. Mosley and safety Eric Weddle.

Flacco also said that he is looking forward to working with the team’s wide receivers away from the team’s practice facility leading up to training camp. That commitment was another encouraging sign for the team. The Ravens had the league’s 29th-ranked passing game last season.

“There’s no doubt, that stuff is important and we’ll do it,” Flacco said. “I’ve already talked about it with John and Mike. I think sometimes those things are just as much or more about developing a relationship with those guys and developing that trust, and for those guys to see that I really like who they are as football players and for them to see hopefully they like who I am as a football player. I think when you can get that relationship going, that’s going to help your football team out a ton.”

Lamar Jackson, who the team selected with the 32nd overall pick, will be groomed to eventually take over the starting role for Flacco. The Jackson era might come sooner than later if the Ravens struggle again in 2018.




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