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Former Baltimore Ravens safety Ed Reed will be inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame Aug. 3. Which moments stand out during his 11-year Ravens career?

1. Sept. 30, 2002: Reed’s First Big Game

The Ravens’ 34-23 victory against the Denver Broncos is best remembered for Ray Lewis’ crushing block against the Broncos’ Keith Burns that triggered Chris McAlister’s 107-yard touchdown scamper after a missed field goal, but the game also featured Reed’s first interception and blocked punt as a Raven. Reed blocked a punt by Denver’s Tom Rouen, which set the Ravens up deep in Broncos territory and led to a Jamal Lewis touchdown. In the fourth quarter, Reed, who had 21 interceptions at Miami, picked off Broncos quarterback Brian Griese for the first of 64 regular-season interceptions in the NFL.

2. Nov. 10, 2002: To The 20, To The 15, To The … Oops

Reed had two interceptions during the Ravens’ 38-27 win against the Cincinnati Bengals, and one of them proved to be a prescient peek at Reed’s breathtaking big-play ability and flirtations with peril. In the second quarter, Reed picked off Bengals quarterback Jon Kitna and was well on his way to returning it 54 yards for a touchdown, but he lifted the ball in celebration before he even got to the Bengals’ 10-yard line. Cincinnati receiver T.J. Houshmandzadeh stripped Reed, and the Bengals recovered it in the end zone.

3. Oct. 12, 2003: Blocked Punt In The Desert

The kickoff temperature when the Ravens played the Arizona Cardinals in Tempe, Ariz., was 96 degrees, and the announced attendance was 24,193. Those who did brave the heat saw the Ravens defeat the Cardinals, 26-18, without the benefit of an offensive touchdown. One of the Ravens’ scores came courtesy of Reed, who blocked a punt by Arizona’s Scott Player, scooped up the ball and returned it 22 yards for a 16-7 Ravens lead.

4. Nov. 23, 2003: Sparking A Comeback

Ahead 41-24 with about seven minutes left in regulation, the Seattle Seahawks appeared on the verge of a big road win in Baltimore. But Reed blocked a punt by Tom Rouen, the same punter who provided Reed’s first blocked punt as a pro. Reed returned the block for a touchdown, sparking a wild, 44-41, overtime win.

5. Oct. 10, 2004: Strip, Sack, Touchdown

Reed won Defensive Player of the Year in 2004, and one of the plays that encompassed his season came during a Sunday night game in Landover, Md., against the Washington Redskins. With the Ravens down, 10-0, in the third quarter, Reed beat running back Ladell Betts around the edge, stripped quarterback Mark Brunell, picked the ball up and ran 22 yards for a touchdown. The play triggered a 17-10 Ravens win. “Ladell Betts just underestimated Ed Reed’s desire to get to the quarterback,” then-ESPN color commentator Joe Theismann said. “When you can’t match desire against desire, disaster happens.”

6. Nov. 7, 2004: Take A Knee? Better Not

If Reed’s touchdown against the Redskins told the story of his 2004 season, then so did his 106-yard interception return for a touchdown against the Cleveland Browns. With the Ravens protecting a 20-13 lead and the Browns deep in Baltimore territory, quarterback Jeff Garcia threw over the middle to tight end Aaron Shea, who was covered by linebacker Ray Lewis. The ball was tipped and caught by Reed 6 yards deep in the end zone. Instead of taking a knee to ice the win — about a minute remained in the game — Reed ran it out and scored to push the Ravens’ victory to 24-10.

7. Nov. 14, 2004: Get Down!

One week later, Reed nearly had another 100-plus-yard return for a touchdown. The New York Jets were up, 14-0, in the second quarter when they tried to trick the Ravens with a halfback pass. LaMont Jordan pulled the trigger, but the ball was intercepted by Reed in the end zone. He returned it 104 yards, but his score was wiped out by a holding penalty on safety Will Demps. Ravens head coach Brian Billick’s reaction was shown in a 2005 NFL Films feature on Reed. “Get down, get down, get down!” Billick said after the interception. “Oh, God dang it, Ed,” he said as Reed brought it out. And then, as Reed streaked toward the end zone, Billick exclaimed, “Go Ed, go Ed, go Ed!”

8. Nov. 5, 2006: Miami Flashback

With the Ravens ahead, 7-0, against the Bengals, quarterback Carson Palmer looked for receiver Chad Johnson at about midfield. The ball sailed over Johnson’s head as Reed lurked nearby searching for a big hit. The pass was picked off by cornerback Samari Rolle, who returned it to the 25-yard line. As he was about to be tackled, Reed took the ball from Rolle and scored a touchdown. It was reminiscent of a play Reed made during his senior year at Miami in 2001 when the Hurricanes were playing at Boston College. Reed pulled the ball away from defensive tackle Matt Walters after an interception and ran 80 yards for a touchdown.

9. Jan. 13, 2007: Picking Off An All-Time Great Twice … To No Avail

The Ravens’ 15-6 loss to the Indianapolis Colts in the divisional round of the 2006 playoffs is one of the most devastating losses in team history, but Reed showed off his greatness during that game against Colts quarterback Peyton Manning, who would win his first Super Bowl three weeks later. Reed picked off Manning twice, part of a defensive effort that saw Baltimore’s top-ranked defense hold Manning to 170 yards passing.

10. Nov. 23, 2008: Record-Setting Return

With the Ravens beating the Philadelphia Eagles, 22-7, in the fourth quarter and quarterback Donovan McNabb benched, backup Kevin Kolb marched the Eagles down the field in hopes of cutting into the Ravens’ lead. But Kolb’s pass into the end zone for receiver Reggie Brown was picked off by Reed, who returned it 107 yards for a touchdown, evading Kolb, running back Brian Westbrook and tight end Brent Celek along the way. It remains the longest interception return ever.

11. Jan. 4, 2009: First Playoff Win

It wasn’t until his seventh season that Reed experienced his first playoff win with the Ravens, who beat the Miami Dolphins, 27-9, in the wild-card round during the 2008 season. Reed picked off Dolphins quarterback Chad Pennington twice, including one he returned 64 yards for a touchdown. “It felt like the 200 in track,” Reed said after the game. “I don’t think I caught my breath until the third quarter.”

12. Jan. 10, 2010: Playoff Lateral

The Ravens earned a quick 21-0 lead against the New England Patriots in the wild-card round during the 2009 season, then Reed made his mark. Patriots quarterback Tom Brady threw down the right sideline for receiver Sam Aiken. The ball was tipped, Reed caught it at the Ravens’ 41-yard line and ran down the sideline toward the end zone. He was stopped at the Patriots’ 33-yard line, but not before he pitched the ball to safety Dawan Landry, who made it down to the 10. An NFL Network feature revealed head coach John Harbaugh’s take on the play. “Yeah! Score! Score, Eddie! Score, Eddie!” Harbaugh said after the interception, and as Reed began to lateral, the coach said, “Put it away, Ed. No! Put it away!” After Landry was tackled, Harbaugh told a few people on the sideline, “You hear what I said? I said, ‘No, no, yes!’”

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The Ravens’ parade at awards banquets continued Sunday night, this time at the Oscars with a man named Matthew A. Cherry.

A week after Lamar Jackson won MVP, John Harbaugh was named the Coach of the Year and Greg Roman took home Assistant Coach of the Year, Cherry won the Oscar for Best Animated Short Film with “Hair Love,” the story of an African American father styling his daughter’s hair for the first time.

Cherry was a wide receiver who spent a short time with the Ravens in 2006 but didn’t make the regular-season roster. He originally came out of Akron as an undrafted free agent who first signed with the Jacksonville Jaguars and bounced to two other teams before coming to Baltimore. He never saw any regular-season game action.

The Ravens’ release marked the end of Cherry’s football career, but was start of what is now a highly successful second gig. In 2016, Cherry sent out this tweet first putting out feelers for help on his idea.

Matthew A. Cherry

Any 3D artists follow me? I got an Oscar worthy short film idea to go with this image. Get at me 😳

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1:20 PM – May 11, 2016
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In 2017, Cherry launched a Kickstarter to raise money for the film, which he also wrote. After it raised more than its goal, it was co-directed with Everett Downing and Bruce W. Smith and produced by Karen Rupert Toliver, who came on stage with Cherry to accept the Oscar. The film was picked up by Sony Pictures Animation in 2019.

“‘Hair Love’ was done because we wanted to see more representation in animation. We wanted to normalize black hair,” Cherry wrote.

Cherry pushed for the CROWN Act, a California law which prohibits discrimination based on hair style and hair texture, to be passed as law in all 50 states. He also dedicated his award to Kobe Bryant, saying “may we all have a second act as great as his was.” Cherry certainly has made the most of his.


“We have a firm belief that representation matters deeply” Congrats to Hair Love for taking home the Oscar for Best Animated Short Film. #Oscars …

9:40 AM – Feb 10, 2020
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Cherry isn’t the only former Raven getting into the animation world. Former Ravens pass rusher Trevor Pryce opened an animation studio at the Maryland Institute College of Art and created an animated children’s show, “Kulipari,” about warrior frogs fighting arachnid invaders, which can be found on Netflix.

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Big risk? Why Ravens see Patrick Queen as a hit despite inexperience – Jamison Hensley
In the past five drafts, Queen is one of five linebackers selected in the first round who made 16 or fewer starts in their college careers, according to ESPN Stats & Information data. Three of the other four have been impact players.

“I don’t really look at it as a big deal, anything can be fixed with studying,” Queen said. “I’m a student of the game and I plan on asking for a lot of tips, a lot of pointers from those guys that have been there for a long time. I’m going to come in and really just be the best player that I can be.”

But it’s an uncharacteristic pick for Baltimore in terms of playing time. Of the previous 25 first-round selected by the Ravens, just two started fewer than 20 games in college: linebacker Peter Boulware (1997) and wide receiver Travis Taylor (2000).

“Those are some of the very best teams in college football, and he was one of the very best guys on the field in those games,” DeCosta said. “As you gain experience as a scout and as an evaluator, you get better at your job. And you’re looking for specific things, and when you see it, you know you saw it. And that kind of makes your decision easy.”

Baltimore Ravens See Huge Upside to Passing Attack in 2020 – Todd Karpovich
The goal now is to go further in the postseason.

To help navigate that strategy, general manager Eric DeCosta said he wants to create an offense that is “undefendable.”

The Ravens certainly have the talent and will potentially have a more dangerous passing attack.

DeCosta is confident the Ravens will be ready to take another step with their offense.

“Our players have to develop quickly and get stronger and bigger,” DeCosta said. “All that stuff just factors in, and I hope that [when] we start playing games in September, I know that Coach [John Harbaugh] will have the best team on the field.”

50 Words or Less – John Eisenberg
Yes, it’s probably true the Ravens are better off than some teams in these uncertain times because they have such continuity in their coaching staff and on the field after a 14-2 season. But it should be noted that four of their seven starters on the defensive front are changing.

You may know Lamar Jackson set the single-season franchise record for touchdown passes with 36 last season. You may know that topped Vinny Testaverde’s old record of 33 set in 1996. But did you know Jackson attempted 148 fewer passes than Testaverde while setting the record? Talk about efficient.

Just a hunch, but I’d put Missouri’s Trystan Colon-Castillo on your list of Ravens undrafted rookies with potential. GM Eric DeCosta has referred to him as a “good center.” Draft profiles call him a high-IQ, high-effort guy, which fits the Ravens. Plus, it’s not clear who’s starting at his position.

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Former Denver Broncos defensive lineman Derek Wolfe can’t wait to join the Ravens in Baltimore, but after eight years with the Broncos, Wolfe and his wife are keeping the Denver community in their heart.

The lineman has yet to move to Baltimore due to the travel and safety guidelines, but for him, becoming a Raven has been a long time coming.

“I feel like it was always meant to be. I thought that I always fit that system, I fit the city,” Wolfe said on Glenn Clark Radio April 22. “I see what they’re all about. I felt like it was only a matter of time.”

The acquisition of Wolfe, signed to a one-year deal in March, is part of Baltimore’s offseason objective to improve its front seven. The Ravens acquired Calais Campbell from the Jacksonville Jaguars via trade and re-signed Justin Ellis and Jihad Ward to help out the defensive line. And through the draft, the Ravens brought in linebackers Patrick Queen and Malik Harrison as well as defensive linemen Justin Madubuike and Broderick Washington.

Wolfe is hoping to build on Baltimore’s defensive tradition, rattling off names like Ray Lewis, Ed Reed, Terrell Suggs and Tony Siragusa.

“You think about all the great players that have played there, and you think about all the great defenses in these top-one or two defenses in the league, top-five every year,” Wolfe said. “I just think about this tough, hard-nosed defense that they like to play — doesn’t give up an inch; the bend, don’t break.”

Though he grew up just 40 minutes from Pittsburgh, Wolfe was actually a Packers fan and couldn’t stand the Steelers — an opinion that Ravens fans can agree with just fine. By the time the 2012 NFL Draft rolled around, Wolfe had had enough of Pittsburgh. He was told the Steelers would select him with the 24th pick. He ended up going No. 36 to the Broncos.

“I always think back to when they told me they were going to draft me and then they didn’t. I always carry that little chip on my shoulder every time I play against them,” Wolfe said, adding, “Every time I play I think back to that feeling I had — that disappointing feeling — and being like, ‘You know what? I’m going to make them pay for that.’”

The Ravens won their Week 5 and 17 matchups against the Steelers last season, and Wolfe is looking forward to when the two AFC North teams will face off another two times next season.

“Everybody in my hometown is a Steelers fan,” Wolfe said. “You think I can’t wait for that? I cannot wait.”

Wolfe grew up in Lisbon, Ohio, where he didn’t have much stability in his family life. He explained he had a “stern” stepfather, whom he lived with shortly after he divorced his mother. He has no relationship with his biological dad. As a teenager, Wolfe bounced around friends’ homes for several years without a permanent place to call home.

One of Wolfe’s biggest struggles as a kid was getting his lunches from school, like many kids today still do — but the COVID-19 pandemic is causing difficulties for food programs.

“On the weekends it was hard for me to get food because school was so important for me to get my food,” Wolfe said. “That’s how I got my lunch.”

That’s why Wolfe and his wife, Abigail, donated $10,000 through the Wolfe Pack Foundation to support emergency child care and food programs to the YMCA of Metro Denver.

“What my story started with was nothing; now I have everything,” Wolfe said. “I have a beautiful family, beautiful home. I get to do what I love for a living, so it’s really important to me to pay it forward to these kids that have nothing.”

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The Houston Texans announced their jersey numbers for their free agent and draft acquisitions, but Tim Jernigan’s name was nowhere to be found on the list.
The Houston Texans recently released the jersey numbers their offseason additions would wear for the upcoming season, but there was a noticeable omission on the list with Timmy Jernigan’s name absent. The Texans agreed to a deal with Jernigan after his contract expired with the Philadelphia Eagles.

The agreement initially reached was a one year contract worth $3.75 million with $1.25 million guaranteed. The deal was respectable considering the free agency market and the injury concerns Jernigan faced in Philadelphia. However, it is interesting to say the least, that Jernigan remains the only free agent player unsigned.

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The Texans saw Jernigan in their plans before the draft with head coach and general manager Bill O’Brien mentioning him along with the players he expected to help fill Reader’s departure on the defensive line. “Obviously, J.J. (Watt) there, Angelo Blackson, we signed Timmy Jernigan. That was a big get for us to be able to bring Timmy Jernigan onto our roster, which is somebody I didn’t mention earlier, but I should have.”

This could simply be a matter of timing with the Texans deciding to sign him after free agents no longer count towards the NFL compensatory pick formula, or it could very well be that negotiations hit a snag late in the process.

These are strange times NFL teams are facing with the pandemic as several high profile free agents with injury concerns remain unsigned like Cam Newton and Jadeveon Clowney. NFL teams have struggled to have the access they normally have with conducting player’s physicals, and this could very well continue to be an issue for teams as they try to finalize deals with players they previously had agreements with.

Multiple free-agent deals have fallen apart this offseason like Eli Apple to the Oakland Raiders, Michael Brockers to the Baltimore Ravens, or Marqui Christian to the New York Jets. It will be interesting to see how the situation unfolds with Jernigan and Houston.

NEXT: Texans potentially facing four NFC rivals first on their schedule
The Texans could certainly use a player of his caliber, but there are several obstacles that NFL teams are facing that they normally wouldn’t encounter in previous seasons.

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TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — Nick Saban is set to bring in a familiar face to his coaching staff as sources have told Alabama will hire Stevon Moore as a defensive analyst.

Moore, who played for the Cleveland Browns under Saban and current New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick, most recently served as the defensive backs coach at Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College from 2002-17. While at MGCCC, Moore coached former Alabama defensive tackle Terrence Cody as well as current Alabama players defensive end Isaiah Buggs and cornerback Saivion Smith.

A former defensive back at Ole Miss, Moore was drafted by the New York Jets in the seventh round of the 1989 NFL Draft. He played his first two seasons in the NFL with the Miami Dolphins (1990-91) before playing for Belichick and Saban with the Browns. While Belichick served as the Browns head coach, Saban was Moore’s defensive coordinator from 1992-94. Moore remained with the organization through its move to Baltimore and retired from the Baltimore Ravens in 1999.

In 97 NFL starts, Moore intercepted 10 passes and had 555 tackles. He had 115 tackles in 1992 and had five picks in 1995. He won the Ed Block Courage Award in 1998.

After his playing days, Moore spent time as a part-time scout for the New England Patriots before joining MGCCC as a volunteer coach from 2000-01.

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Super Bowl LIV is here. The Baltimore Ravens fanbase isn’t getting the Super Bowl they wanted. Let’s have fun with it anyway. Consider this a Super Bowl program for the Ravens Flock. Each member of the Ebony Bird will give his prediction for the game, share his favorite Super Sunday memories and his favorite big game food:
Site Expert, Chris Schisler makes his pick:
The big game is going to be a good one this year. You have strength vs. strength in this battle. The Kansas City Chiefs have a high-flying offense led by Patrick Mahomes. The 49ers have the best pass defense in football and a defensive line that is almost too good. I’m going with the 49ers. I think they will be able to run the ball and shorten the game. We’ve seen teams have success against the Chiefs doing this. The Tennessee Titans tried this in the AFC Championship game. They got off to a good start, they just couldn’t keep it up. The difference is that the 49ers will be able to put the ball in the end zone enough to win the game.

I strongly believe that defenses win championships. I’m going with the 49ers with that in mind. I think a big game, with extra time to prepare for both teams, tends to be more of a defensive battle. Both teams have time to focus on their game plan and on their opponents. I’d be willing to bet if the Rams and Patriots played in the regular season last year, it would have been a high scoring affair. In the big game it was a chess match with two ready defenses. The 49ers have the defense to slow down the Chiefs. They won’t dominate them, but slowing them down and frustrating them will be all the 49ers have to do. Give me a big day for the 49ers run game. Give me a big day for the 49ers defensive line. Give me the 49ers 28-24.

Favorite Ravens Super Bowl:

I probably appreciate the second Super Bowl more than anything, because it took so long to get there. That being said, I was 10 years old when the Ravens won the Super Bowl in the 2000 season. It was my first season being a real football fan from the beginning to the big game. My team won it all and I became obsessed with the game. Winning the Super Bowl is exciting and back then it allowed a crazy emotional kid to fall in love with football to a level most people can’t match. Nothing beats a hungry and young Ray Lewis. Nothing beats the best defensive line in franchise history with Rob Burnett, Sam Adams, Tony Siragusa and Michael McCrary. That game was just too much fun. The Giants got rocked, the lights stayed on and the Ravens hoisted the Lombardi Trophy with very little stress.

Favorite Non-Ravens Super Bowl:

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So nine-year old me hadn’t caught the football bug until Super Bowl XXXIV. Mom made me watch the Super Bowl with the family instead of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. It was the St. Louis Rams against the Tennessee Titans. It took a while, but the game hooked me. It was such a competitive game and the drama was off the charts. Steve McNair and the Titans had an incredible drive that fell just short at the end of the game. That got me into football. That got me ready to become a Ravens fan that summer. So for the importance of the game in my life I will go with that one. The non-Ravens Super Bowl I enjoyed the most after I really got into the game would probably have to be the New Orleans Saints beating the Indianapolis Colts. That onside kick was crazy.

Favorite Super Bowl food:

It’s starting to become a tradition. My Mom makes the best cheese steak subs. She melts the Gouda and Cheddar right in with the meat. Add some awesome sautéed onions, a little more cheese on top and some mayo and you are in Super Bowl heaven. Is it tonight yet?

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NFL players are constantly finding ways to get extra motivation.

This can come in many ways, but one of the most common is to feel slighted by a bunch of teams via the draft or free agency. This push to prove their doubters wrong is very common.

What isn’t common is a divisional rival talking about using the Bengals as motivation. That is what Ravens linebacker Pernell McPhee told The Lounge podcast.

“When you catch whoever you catch, and there’s going to be a time when I catch whoever I catch — I guess that’s going to be the Cincinnati Bengals — snatch one of their souls out their chest.”

McPhee obviously didn’t find the market he planned when he hit free agency. The 31-year-old was a solid player in his second stint with Baltimore. He had 19 tackle, seven for a loss and three sacks, but he was in no way what Cincinnati was looking for when they set out to remake their linebacking group.

The only holdover from 2019 will likely be Germaine Pratt, and the clear theme was athletic linebackers who can cover. The Bengals drafted Logan Wilson, Akeem Davis-Gaither and Markus Bailey. One thing that makes Cincinnati passing up McPhee string more is that they opted to sign Josh Bynes — McPhee’s teammate in Baltimore last season — to be the the veteran who helps bring along these young players.

It is nice to know the McPhee is circling the Ravens’ two matchups with the Bengals. It is also nice to know Cincinnati is set at linebacker for the foreseeable future with a plethora of athletic linebackers. This could be used as bulletin board material for Cincinnati, but honestly making a statement against the best team in the AFC North from last season should be motivation enough. Players will likely be far more concerned with players like Lamar Jackson or Earl Thomas come game day.

Best of luck to McPhee in a contract season. Maybe this will make the rivalry a little more interesting. It is hard to feel like the Bengals made the wrong choice though.

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While it’s a bit too early to call, quite a few disruptive interior defensive lineman could hit the market. Some will be resigned or potentially franchise tagged, but a few will certainly hit the market.

Bringing in a veteran will most certainly have a more immediate impact, although pairing a rookie with a veteran could ensure that the Ravens don’t have a need at the position for some time.

Current players who are without a contract that fit the bill include:

Michael Brockers:
Brockers has had the benefit of playing alongside Aaron Donald the past few years, but has been a consistently strong against the run and pass. Brockers has generated 91 pressures including 11 sacks over the past three years. The former first round pick has length and could play the 5-tech well for the Ravens. He wouldn’t break the bank as a 30 year old player, and would leave the Ravens with room to operate.

Mike Daniels:
Daniels is another veteran who is approaching 31 years old. He totaled only 200 total snaps across an injury plagued season in Detroit, but is one year removed from a four year stretch where PFF graded Daniels as one of the better interior pass rushers in the NFL. Similar to Brockers, Daniels wouldn’t break the bank. There is a bit of risk involved following a poor campaign, but that’s the kind of free agent acquisition the Ravens have traditionally loved to bring in.

Jordan Phillips:
The former Bill could very easily wind up staying in Buffalo, as the Bills are sitting on a mountain of cap space. If he hits the market, he is quite intriguing. Phillips broke out in a contract year, which the Ravens typically avoid. The former Dolphin totaled 10 sacks on 28 pressures, which indicates fool’s gold to an extent, but he was quite a disruptive force in Buffalo. At 27 years old, he figures to get one of the higher deals among interior defensive lineman this offseason.

D.J. Reader:
Reader should garner the most attention of any free-agent interior defensive lineman this offseason. He has steadily improved throughout his rookie contract with the Houston Texans. This past season, Reader recorded seven games with at least three or more pressures. Reader feels like the player that Michael Pierce was en route to becoming before a disappointing offseason. At 26 years old and steadily improving, Reader would be a welcome investment from easily half of the teams in the league.

Jarran Reed:
Reed had a six game suspension to start 2019, and finished the year with 26 total pressures including four sacks. Reed was a breakout star in 2018, where he recorded 55 pressures including 11 sacks. A candidate for a large one year prove-it type deal. The Ravens could lure Reed in with a sizable one year deal and the chance to win a ring on his way to a larger payday.

Javon Hargrave:
Another player who exploded in a contract year, but similarly to Reader has steadily improved year over year. Hargrave is an explosive penetrator, who recorded 49 pressures in only 373 pass rushing snaps. Hargrave is also sturdy against the run, recording a 77.2 and 79.5 against the run over the past two seasons according to PFF. Hargrave is almost a lock to hit the open market, as the Steelers barely have enough cap space to sign their incoming rookie class.

Leonard Williams:
Williams has been the model of consistent pressure as a 3-4 defensive end for the majority of his career. Williams produced an astounding 52 pressures as a rookie, and hasn’t looked back. He’s recorded at least 46 pressures in each of his five NFL seasons. While his pressures haven’t resulted in sacks the way he would’ve liked, he’s been stout against the run. Williams also had virtually no edge rushing presence during his four seasons with the Jets. Pairing Williams with an explosive edge rush could cause his numbers to sky rocket, if QB’s are forced to step into Williams from outside pressure. The 25 year old was the sixth overall pick in 2015, and the Giants ponied up too much draft capital for Williams to be a rental. A franchise tag or long term deal for Williams feels likely, but he will command a hefty contract if he’s able to hit the open market.

Chris Jones
Possibly the premier player to hit the open market aside from the quarterback position, Jones has been one of the most disruptive interior defensive lineman in football over the past few seasons. Jones dominated the 49ers in Super Bowl LIV, clogging passing lanes with his massive frame and generating quick pressure in the pocket. Jones has produced 224 career pressures, with 143 coming in the past two seasons.

He would be the ideal defender for the Ravens, but would limit what they could do otherwise in free agency. Jones stated that the Chiefs were “starting a dynasty” following the Super Bowl. The Chiefs are tight against the cap, but moving on from Sammy Watkins and a few others would allow Kansas City enough cap space to retain Jones, although Patrick Mahomes inevitable extension could burst that bubble.

With several options likely to hit the market, the Ravens should be able to bring in a disruptive interior lineman in free agency. Javon Hargrave could make the most sense, as he is stout against the run and the pass, and has been working in the Steelers two gap, blitz friendly system for a few years. Steelers/Ravens crossovers don’t happen often, but when they do it adds a little extra spice to the rivalry.

If the Ravens wanted to use their first round selection on a player like Neville Gallimore, who could realistically be available, it would make sense to double dip. With Earl Thomas, Marlon Humphrey, Marcus Peters and Tavon Young set to return in 2020, pairing that group with a more formidable pass rush seems to be the best way to improve their roster moving forward. While there will be navigation required with Matthwe Judon, there are a few edge options available in both free agency and the NFL draft that could make sense if the Ravens decide Judon’s contract is too rich. Whoever lines up at edge in 2020 would greatly benefit from more penetrating style interior pass rushers, something that the Ravens have lacked for the better part of a decade.

While “Wink” Martindale loves to blitz, I’m sure he would enjoy some more disruptive interior pass rushers. The Ravens drafted Daylon mack in 2019, who showed promise as an interior penetrator during his time at Texas A&M. If Mack is able to take a leap, that would be a welcome sight, but doubling down at the position is an absolute must if the Ravens want to take their defense to the next level.

The Ravens haven’t had an interior defensive lineman record over 30 pressures since 2012. That year, both Haloti Ngata (38 pressures) was a force inside. The Ravens ended up winning the Super Bowl with Ngata, Arthur Jones, Paul Kruger, Terrell Suggs, Pernell McPhee and Courtney Upshaw all making contributions.

If the Ravens want history to repeat itself, Eric DeCosta has some work to do.

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OWINGS MILLS, Md. (AP) — Back when Marshal Yanda didn’t have a touch of gray in his red beard and had not yet earned the first of seven Pro Bowl bids, the big kid from Iowa was just a raw rookie with the Baltimore Ravens looking for some guidance.

“There were great leaders on this team,” Yanda recalled Wednesday. “Jonathan Ogden and Mike Flynn were my first old dogs when I was a young buck. You want them to lead the way, and if you have questions you ask those guys.”

Thirteen years later, the 35-year-old right guard is the one who dispenses wisdom and knowledge within the locker room.

“I remember thinking back then, if I ever make it to be the old guy in the room I’ll be a source for questions, for how I’m thinking about a play, taking care of your body, whatever,” Yanda said. “I wanted to be that guy, for sure.”

Yanda, for sure, is the anchor and spiritual leader of an offensive line that has played a major role in the NFL’s top-ranked rushing attack. The Ravens (8-2) have won six straight, are the highest-scoring team in the league and rank second in total yardage.

Sure, Lamar Jackson’s ability as a multi-threat quarterback has been huge. Yanda acknowledges this without hesitation. In fact, he’s delighted just being part of it.

“It starts with Lamar,” Yanda said. “He puts a lot of stress on every single defense just because of his run threat ability as a quarterback. That opens up other areas of the running game.”

Still, there’s no downplaying Yanda’s performance this season as part of a line in which the other four starters have a combined 11 years NFL experience.

Ever since he came out of Iowa as a third-round pick in 2007, Yanda has been among the best at his position. He’s maintained that level of excellence on the back side of a career that could earn him a bust in Canton, Ohio.

“Marshal, to my mind, is a Hall of Fame player,” Ravens coach John Harbaugh said. “Linemen, when they start getting talked about as Hall of Fame players, then all of a sudden people start watching them. To me, I believe Marshal is doing that at the highest level. He’s playing some of his best football, if not his best football, right now.”

Doing a heck of a job in the locker room, too.

“One time, he was a rookie, young and playing and having someone helping him and tutoring him,” Ravens line coach Joe D’Alessandris said. “He’s doing the same thing now. His famous quote is, ‘Just do your job.’ He does his job. And that’s what he asks all the other guys to do.”

Yanda’s position as the team leader is evident on Sundays. Assuming the role formerly held by the retired Ray Lewis and departed Terrell Suggs, Yanda is the one who delivers the impassioned go-get-’em speech before kickoff.

“You just want to be short and sweet, hit them with something that’s on your mind,” he said.

Three years ago, Yanda missed three games and switched to left guard to protect a shoulder injury. Two years ago, he spent the final 14 games of the season on injured reserve with a leg injury. Last season, he played in all 16 games and added a start in the postseason, which helped him decide to return for another year.

“I definitely had that fire and desire to come back,” he said. “I made it through healthy last year, which was great, and it gave me some juice to come back and play this year.”

Obviously, with the Ravens soaring high and almost a lock to reach the postseason, Yanda knows he made the right choice.

“I’m enjoying it. I’m healthy and we’re being successful and having a lot of fun out there,” he said. “That’s why I play. I love this game. I love the camaraderie of the guys, the locker room. It’s been a lot of fun.”