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CINCINNATI — The Bengals have secured the top pick in next year’s draft. All that’s left is a send-off for the quarterback who had a hand in their best — and most frustrating — moments in the past decade.

Andy Dalton gets to wrap up his tenure as the Bengals’ franchise quarterback on Sunday when Cincinnati (1-14) hosts the Cleveland Browns (6-9). The Bengals are expected to take a quarterback in the draft — they’ll get the first shot at Heisman winner Joe Burrow of LSU — and give Zac Taylor a chance to mold his offense heading into his second season as head coach.

Dalton has one year left on his contract. Even if the Bengals choose to keep him to mentor the rookie next season, his days leading the franchise are finished.

On Sunday, Miami got a field goal in the final seconds of overtime for a 38-35 win that clinched the NFL’s worst record — and its top draft pick — for the Bengals.

RB Lynch, Seahawks on verge of reunion

RENTON, Wash. — The Seahawks could be reuniting with former star running back Marshawn Lynch, coach Pete Carroll said during his radio show Monday.

Carroll said Lynch is flying to Seattle and will undergo a physical later Monday. Seattle is in desperate need of running backs after Chris Carson (hip) and C.J. Prosise (arm) both suffered season-ending injuries in Sunday’s 27-13 loss to Arizona.

Carroll said reports are that Lynch is in good shape, but whether Seattle signs him will depend on the physical. Lynch has not played in more than a year.

Cardinals QB Murray to have MRI

TEMPE, Ariz. — Arizona rookie quarterback Kyler Murray was scheduled to have an MRI on Monday on his sore right hamstring that he injured in the team’s 27-13 win over Seattle.

Murray left the game in the third quarter on Sunday and was replaced by Brett Hundley. Head coach Kliff Kingsbury called Murray’s status “day to day.” .

Top-seed Ravens to rest Jackson, Ingram

OWINGS MILLS, Md. — Having already accomplished all their goals for the regular season, the Baltimore Ravens will play the finale against Pittsburgh this Sunday without quarterback Lamar Jackson, eight-time Pro Bowl guard Marshal Yanda and several other key starters, including injured running back Mark Ingram.

The Ravens (13-2) extended their winning streak to 11 games and clinched the top seed in the AFC playoffs with a 31-15 win over Cleveland on Sunday. Ingram left in the fourth quarter with a calf injury, but should be ready when Baltimore opens the playoffs at home during the second weekend in January.

Chiefs peaking in all phases as playoffs near

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — The Chiefs were dominant in all phases of their 26-3 victory over the Bears on a cold Sunday night at Soldier Field .

Their defense, now with veteran pass rusher Terrell Suggs in the mix, held their fifth straight opponent to 17 points or fewer, and Patrick Mahomes threw for 251 yards and accounted for three TDs, becoming the fastest quarterback to eclipse 9,000 yards and hit 75 TD passes by reaching the mark in 30 games .

Custom Tyus Bowser Jersey Large

BALTIMORE — On a third down in the third quarter of Thursday’s 42-21 win over the New York Jets, Baltimore Ravens outside linebacker Tyus Bowser prepared for a snap against a familiar offensive alignment. He noticed Jets tight end Trevon Wesco was across from him.

“I got that same look earlier and I should’ve known it before,” Bowser said after Baltimore’s 10th consecutive victory, one that clinched the team’s second straight AFC North title. “I just had a feeling that he was going to stay in and block.”

After the snap, Wesco stayed put as a pass blocker, just as Bowser suspected. New York’s other offensive linemen moved inside, leaving Bowser one-on-one against the tight end. It was the type of matchup that can make a strong pass rusher with a quick first step salaviate.

Bowser sprinted around the edge, blowing past Wesco with little trouble. Then he set his sights on Sam Darnold. He plowed into the Jets quarterback and knocked the ball out of his hands, causing it to sputter and bounce on the ground, where defensive end Jihad Ward plopped on it.

The takeaway changed the complexion of the game in an instant and delivered to Bowser a slice of gratification in the third season of a somewhat uneven career. Before Bowser forced that fumble, the Ravens led 21-7 but had fallen into an offensive rut, while the Jets seemed to gain a semblance of momentum.

Two plays after Ward scooped the loose ball, Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson threw a 24-yard touchdown pass to Marquise Brown. Soon, the rout was on.

“Ty-Bo got a big sack, a big sack-fumble, and then we came out and scored,” outside linebacker Matthew Judon said. “When you take the ball away and you score that fast, it kills opposing teams.”

Lamar Jackson
Baltimore Ravens’ Lamar Jackson ties franchise record for touchdown passes in blowout of Jets

Ravens QB Lamar Jackson threw for 5 touchdown passes against the Jets and now his 33 for the season, tying Vinny Testaverde’s franchise record.

Indeed, the sharp shift from the Jets’ control of the ball to Bowser’s fumble to Brown’s touchdown seemed to deliver a backbreaking blow to New York’s comeback hopes.

And for Bowser, the play lifted his spirits.

A 2017 second-round pick, Bowser struggled to establish a defined role during his first two NFL seasons. He totaled three sacks as a rookie and just a single half-sack last season. His playing time fluctuated.

This year, though, after an exodus of pass-rushing talent in the offseason, Bowser was left to shoulder more responsibilities. The Ravens cut fellow 2017 draftee Tim Williams after Week 4 and placed veteran Pernell McPhee on injured reserve after Week 7, further thinning the outside linebacker rotation.

The Ravens, either because they trusted players like Bowser or couldn’t find better options, didn’t add an outside linebacker after McPhee’s injury. Thursday, by producing the forced fumble that yanked the game in the Ravens’ direction, Bowser felt he validated the faith the team placed in him.

The play marks the fifth sack of the season for Bowser and his first career forced fumble.

“It means everything, man, having the trust from my coaches and even my teammates to be able to go out there in a situation like that and just go out there and make that play,” Bowser said. “A lot of that is building that confidence. Continue to work hard every day in practice and really just take advantage of the opportunity when you have it.”

He did just that in a crucial moment of crucial game. In a season full of Ravens heroes and highlights, Bowser made his mark.

Custom Marlon Humphrey Jersey Large

OWINGS MILLS, Md. — Moments after Baltimore Ravens cornerback Marlon Humphrey made a game-altering play during Sunday’s 20-17 win over the San Francisco 49ers, he pushed himself up off the soggy ground at M&T Bank Stadium, ran toward special teams coach Chris Horton and leapt into his arms.

This wasn’t a random embrace. After deflecting a field goal attempt at the end of the first half to preserve a three-point lead in an eventual three-point win, Humphrey didn’t simply want to hug the first warm body he could find. He darted to Horton for a reason.

This moment, like so many others that unfold over the course of a game, had a backstory.

A few weeks earlier, Horton asked Humphrey to begin playing on the field goal block team. Humphrey, one of the Ravens’ best defensive players, said he was skeptical at first because he’d never had any success in that role.

“It was strange,” Humphrey said. “When Chris put me on the block team, I was like, ‘I’ve never blocked a kick in practice, high school, college — any of that.’ … He was like, ‘Oh, we’re going to put you on there anyway.’”

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A first-year special teams coach, Horton spent time working with Humphrey individually last week. He showed him how to dip his inside shoulder to take the most direct angle from the edge of the line to the front of the kicker.

Sunday, while the 49ers moved in position to send Robbie Gould onto the field for a 51-yard field goal try on the final play of the first half, Horton reminded Humphrey about the techniques he’d been teaching.

Humphrey took the coaching, zipped around the edge of the 49ers’ line and lunged to get his hand on Gould’s kick. The ball fluttered and fell well short of the goalposts.

“[Horton] tells me from the sideline, ‘Dip that edge, like we talked about in practice and you can go get it,’” Humphrey said. “That was really an exciting moment for me — not an interception or a touchdown or anything, but it was definitely one of the most exciting moments of the year for me.”

Baltimore Ravens vs Jacksonville Jaguars
When Baltimore Ravens play Buffalo Bills, both teams will understand David Culley’s influence

The Ravens this offseason hired Culley off the Bills’ staff, where he was leading Buffalo’s quarterbacks.

Local media voted Humphrey as the Ravens’ MVP last season, and he’s produced more big plays this year. He’s intercepted two passes. He scored a touchdown against the Patriots. And in a rivalry game victory over the Steelers, Humphrey forced and recovered a fumble in overtime that set up a game-winning field goal.

Still, the deflected kick held great significance. It did for Horton, too. He’s a young coach who felt fulfilled when he guided Humphrey toward a new goal.

“It was Marlon’s first blocked kick,” Horton said. “We prepared, we talked about it, we said we’d have an opportunity if we got in that situation and then I was really excited for him. That was our first blocked kick as a staff, so it was just a really exciting moment. And I think it was deserving of a big hug.”

Humphrey felt the same way about Horton.

“He believed in me, even though I was like, ‘Yo, I don’t think I can,’” Humphrey said. “He was like, ‘Yes, you can. You can do it.’”

And he did.

Custom Brandon Carr Jersey Large

With 189 consecutive starts, Brandon Carr is leaving a legacy as one of the most durable defensive backs in NFL history.

However, Carr is also doing important work beyond football as a selfless person who uses his platform to impact lives. Carr has been named the Ravens’ Walter Payton Man of the Year, presented by Nationwide, nominee for 2019.

It’s the third time in his career that Carr has been his team’s recipient. He was the Ravens’ nominee for the national award in 2018, and in 2015 when he played with the Dallas Cowboys.

The Walter Payton Man of the Year award recognizes an NFL player for his excellence on and off the field. The award was established in 1970 and was renamed in 1999 after the late Chicago Bears running back. Each team announces one winner of the award, and as the Ravens’ winner, Carr will be eligible to win the 2019 Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year Award, which will be revealed at NFL Honors the night before the Super Bowl.

The winner of the award receives $250,000 donated to the United Way, and up to $250,000 donated to the winner’s charity of choice. As the Ravens’ recipient, Carr receives $50,000 to be donated to the charity of his choice.

Brandon Carr Walter Payton Man of the Year
Walter Payton Man of the Year: Brandon Carr

Brandon Carr’s commitment to the community may arguably have an even bigger impact than his great plays on the field.

“This is a true honor,” Carr said. “This is nothing but a reflection of my upbringing. I love playing this game, but I also love the platform that it gives us as athletes do something positive. I know all of us have passions, we do amazing things in the community. It’s not about me. It’s about us, the Ravens organization and all that we do for the Baltimore community and your community that supports you.

“This is for the Carr Cares Foundation. This is for us. We’ve got more work to do. Let’s continue to rock this world.”

Last week, Carr won the Ed Block Courage Award, voted on exclusively by the players on each team. It is presented to the player who exemplifies a commitment to the principles of sportsmanship and courage, while also recognizing a player’s efforts on the field and his ability to overcome adversity.

Since Carr entered the NFL in 2008, the 33-year-old defensive back has dressed for every game. Whatever adversity he was going through, whichever team he was playing for, Carr has never taken a game off. His consecutive starts streak is the longest active streak among NFL defensive players, a testimony to his dedication. This season, Carr has played both cornerback and safety and his versatility as a steady presence in the secondary has helped the Ravens (11-2) win nine straight games.

Off the field, Carr leads the Carr Cares Foundation, founded in 2012 to improve child literacy around the country. This year, Carr launched the LitBuddies program at Glenmount Elementary School in northeast Baltimore. The boxes will be filled with books and educational games for elementary school-aged kids. More than 100 boxes will be distributed to students in the Baltimore area and will be available for purchase for customers nationwide.

Along with literacy initiatives, the foundation encourages children to lead healthy lifestyles through nutrition and physical fitness. Carr has opened reading centers in his hometown of Flint, Mich. and he is extremely active in social initiatives around Baltimore.

Carr is also extremely dedicated to breast cancer awareness after losing his mother, Kathy, to the disease in 2014. This season, Carr is donating $12,500 per game ($200,000 total) to fund free screenings and diagnostic mammograms through the National Breast Cancer Foundation.

Custom Ronnie Stanley Jersey Large

There were no late surprises regarding the Ravens’ health, and they entered Sunday’s game with a healthy roster to face the Cleveland Browns.

Left tackle Ronnie Stanley (concussion) is active and expected to return to the starting lineup after a one-game absence. Stanley made the Pro Bowl for the first time in his career and is the highest-graded left tackle in football, according to Pro Football Focus. Stanley was listed as questionable, but he practiced all week and the Ravens will welcome his presence protecting Lamar Jackson’s blindside. Jackson was sacked four times during Cleveland’s 40-25 victory over the Ravens in Week 4.

Inside linebacker Chris Board (concussion) is also active after sitting out Week 15 against the New York Jets. Board is one of Baltimore’s key players on special teams and he was missed against the Jets. Head Coach John Harbaugh called special teams “an area of concern,” after the Ravens had a punt blocked and the Jets averaged 25.6 yards on kickoff returns and 16.0 yards on punt returns.

Inactive for the Ravens are quarterback Trace McSorley, wide receiver Jaleel Scott, cornerbacks Anthony Averett and Iman Marshall; guards Parker Ehinger and Ben Powers and defensive tackle Justin Ellis.

Beckham Jr., Richardson Both Active for Browns

For the Browns, wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. (groin) is active despite being a limited participant in Friday’s practice. He was not listed as questionable on the injury report, and Beckham has played with a groin issue throughout the season. Beckham is one of the NFL’s most explosive wide receivers, but he was limited to two catches for 20 yards in Week 4 while being shadowed by Ravens Pro Bowl cornerback Marlon Humphrey.

Two other Cleveland starters are active after being listed as questionable – center J.C. Tretter (knee) and defensive tackle Sheldon Richardson (back). However, Cleveland starting defensive end Olivier Vernon (knee) will miss his third straight game. Also inactive for the Browns are wide receiver Taylor Taywan, safety J.T. Hassell, offensive tackle Kendall Lamm, guard Drew Forbes, and tight ends David Njoku and Pharoah Brown.

Custom Anthony Levine Sr. Jersey Large

NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero reports that the preliminary belief is Washington Redskins running back Derrius Guice suffered a MCL sprain during Sunday’s loss to the Packers. Pelissero adds that further testing will determine the full extent of the knee injury.

Redskins linebacker Ryan Kerrigan suffered a calf injury, while cornerback Quinton Dunbar exited with a hamstring injury.

» Tampa Bay Buccaneers wideout Mike Evans was knocked out against the Colts with a hamstring injury on a 61-yard touchdown reception. Bucs coach Bruce Arians said of Evans’ hamstring injury, “It’s not good.”

Arians added after the game that quarterback Jameis Winston had a tiny fracture in his throwing hand that caused him to miss a second-half series.

» New Orleans Saints tight end Jared Cook suffered a head injury and did not return against San Francisco. Defensive tackle Sheldon Rankins suffered an ankle injury.

» New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady was seen at the postgame podium following their loss to Kansas City with a wrap and an ice bag on his right elbow. Brady said he got hit on the elbow during the game and the injury might show up on the injury report. However, it won’t keep him out of next week’s game against Cincinnati.

» Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes will undergo X-rays on his right hand after playing through an injury in their win over New England. Chiefs coach Andy Reid said Mahomes had trouble gripping the ball during the game, and Mahomes added that the hand still “doesn’t feel great.”

Chiefs guard Andrew Wylie suffered a shoulder injury against the Pats.

» Miami Dolphins wide receiver DeVante Parker and receiver Albert Wilson were knocked out with concussions against the Jets.

» Oakland Raiders running back Josh Jacobs (shoulder) was officially inactive vs. the Titans. He’s scheduled to have an MRI this week, NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport reported, per a source.

Raiders tight end Foster Moreau (knee) was ruled out against Tennessee.

» Atlanta Falcons cornerback Desmond Trufant did not return against Carolina after suffering a forearm injury. Rapoport reported that Trufant broke his forearm and will miss the remainder of the season. Wideout Calvin Ridley did not return with abdominal pain.

» San Francisco 49ers pass rusher Dee Ford exited against New Orleans with a hamstring injury and did not return. Neither did enter Weston Richburg (knee/ankle).

» New York Jets tight end Ryan Griffin left against the Dolphins with an ankle injury. Running back Bilal Powell (ankle) and defensive lineman Quinnen Williams (neck) also left their win over Miami with injuries. Jets coach Adam Gase told reporters that running bell Le’Veon Bell, who was inactive with an illness, has the flu.

» Seattle Seahawks running back Rashaad Penny was ruled out against the Rams after suffering a knee injury in the first quarter. After the game coach Pete Carroll told reporters he suffered a sprained ACL and it’s “significant.”

» Denver Broncos defensive end Dre’Mont Jones (ankle) and tight end Noah Fant (foot) exited early vs. the Texans.

» Baltimore Ravens wideout Chris Moore (stinger), tight end Mark Andrews (knee) and cornerback Anthony Levine Sr. (ankle) exited early against Buffalo.

» Green Bay Packers defensive lineman Montravius Adams (illness) left their game against the Redskins.

» Detroit Lions defensive tackle A’Shawn Robinson (shoulder) and tackle Rick Wagner (knee) exited early vs. Minnesota.

» Jacksonville Jaguars linebacker Jake Ryan is questionable to return with a hamstring injury. Wide receiver D.J. Chark suffered an ankle injury late vs. the Chargers.

» Tennessee Titans safety Kenny Vaccaro was ruled out against Oakland with a concussion.

» Arizona Cardinals defensive tackle Rodney Gunter suffered an ankle injury against Pittsburgh.

Custom Chris Wormley Jersey Large

BALTIMORE — Baltimore Ravens defensive end Chris Wormley figures he owes some of the glory to genetics. He stands 6 feet, 5 inches, and his height allowed him to deliver a game-altering play during Sunday’s 20-17 victory over the San Francisco 49ers.

But instincts and training helped, too. Wormley lifted his left arm and batted down Jimmy Garoppolo’s pass on a fourth-and-1 Sunday that halted a 49ers drive in Ravens territory with less than seven minutes left in the game.

“I mean, if we’re not getting to the passer or you’re not getting to the quarterback and you see him act like he’s about to start his throwing motion, you kind of put your hands up,” Wormley said.

Baltimore Ravens

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Whether natural ability or coaching or individual excellence was at its heart, what’s clear is that Wormley’s deflected pass played a massive role in Baltimore’s franchise-record eighth straight win. The score was tied at 17 when the Ravens made that fourth-down stop. And San Francisco never got the ball back.

Lamar Jackson and the Ravens’ offense took possession and marched down the field on a 12-play, 39-yard drive that ended with Justin Tucker’s game-winning 49-yard field goal on the final snap of regulation.

In any context, Wormley was one of the game’s heroes. He had a half-sack, tied a season-high with four combined tackles and made the deciding play on the Ravens’ final defensive stand.

And when he did, defensive tackle Michael Pierce couldn’t help but rejoice. Wormley plays the five-technique position on the Ravens’ defensive line, and though he’s a fixture on the field, he isn’t often piling up stats or raking attention. Wormley regularly takes on the responsibility of attracting blockers or filling gaps while his teammates make tackles, sacks or strips.

By raising his arm in a pivotal momentum Sunday, Wormley grabbed some of the shine.

“Man, that’s awesome,” Pierce said. “Five-technique linemen do not get a lot of love, all the way back to Lawrence Guy, Brent Urban. It’s a tough position, a thankless position. Kind of like a nose guard in this defense, to be honest with you. So, to see a guy like Chris in the limelight, that’s my boy, for sure.”

San Francisco 49ers v Baltimore Ravens
‘It’s unfortunate’: Ravens, 49ers discuss hits Lamar Jackson took during Baltimore’s win

A spat Sunday fixed a lens on how defenders approach the challenge of bringing Lamar Jackson down within the confines of a rulebook designed to protect quarterbacks.

Wormley, a third-round pick of the Ravens in 2017, saw his snap totals dip in recent weeks as the Ravens played with big leads for the majority of victories over the Texans and Rams. Baltimore opted for lineups heavier on pass rushers, and Wormley was on the field for a combined 29 defensive snaps in those two games. He struggled to make a noticeable impact.

Sunday, though, Wormley was on the field when it mattered most and he made a play that carried hefty significance.

“It was a great play,” coach John Harbaugh said. “‘Worm’ did a great job. I tell you what, this kid, this kid works so hard, just every single day. He’s a very serious guy. To make that play, and to see that reward is really good.”

To Wormley, that fourth-down snap was no different than all the others during the course of a game or a career he’s built on steadiness. He was filing his role, trying to push the pocket, when he saw Garoppolo rear his arm back.

Then Wormley did what he was supposed to do — and he launched the Ravens toward a win over another title contender.

“It was just my time, I guess,” Wormley said. “I got a hand up in the throwing lane, and I made the play for the team.”

San Francisco 49ers v Baltimore Ravens
How Baltimore Ravens snuck their way to a fourth-down conversion and a narrow win

The biggest play in the Ravens’ win over the 49ers might’ve been a quarterback sneak.

Custom Patrick Onwuasor Jersey Large

Life after C.J. Mosley figured to be a difficult road for the Ravens to maneuver. The middle linebacker was a linchpin on defense for five seasons, manning the center of units that consistently ranked among the league’s best.

So when Mosley, a first-round draft pick in 2014, left in free agency this past spring, signing a five-year, $85 million contract with the New York Jets, a transitional period was expected.

Mosley won’t make his return to face his former team when the Ravens host the Jets on “Thursday Night Football.” He suffered a groin injury in the season opener and later aggravated the injury. The Jets placed the 27-year-old on injured reserve in November, ending a season in which Mosley will miss more games in New York (14) than he did in five seasons with the Ravens (three).

When asked if he was disappointed with not being able to reunite with his ex-teammate, cornerback Jimmy Smith on Wednesday playfully said, “Not really.”

“He’s a good player, great player for us, but stay on the sideline,” Smith said of the four-time Pro Bowl selection.

Ravens’ Lamar Jackson limited in practice again, plans to play vs. Jets: ‘I’m going to be out there’ »
After struggling to fill Mosley’s void early in the season, the Ravens have adjusted, using a three-man rotation at the center of a surging defense.

Instead of drafting an inside linebacker or signing one in free agency, the Ravens hoped Patrick Onwuasor, fresh off a breakout season playing next to Mosley, and a combination of second-year players Kenny Young and Chris Board would suffice.

Onwuasor was next in line to fill Mosley’s role in the middle of the defense and received communication duties to start the season. But after Onwuasor and Young — who beat out Board in training camp for the weak-side linebacker position — struggled to defend the run in the team’s only two losses to date, the position group received a shakeup.

Lamar Jackson becomes fastest quarterback in Madden history
Lamar Jackson becomes fastest quarterback in Madden history
In Madden 20’s most recent update, Baltimore Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson gained a boost in speed. Madden set the record straight and improved Jackson’s speed rating to 96, making him the fastest quarterback in Madden history. (Patrick Smith/Getty Images)

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In the following weeks, veterans Josh Bynes and L.J. Fort were signed, and Young was sent to the Los Angeles Rams in the trade that brought in cornerback Marcus Peters.

Bynes entered with a level of comfort in the defensive system, spending his first four seasons in the league with the Ravens. Defensive coordinator Don “Wink” Martindale, then serving as linebackers coach, oversaw the development of Bynes, who delivered the game-sealing tackle in Super Bowl XLVII.

While Bynes didn’t spend time in any team’s training camp over the summer, he made an immediate impact four days after his signing, intercepting a pass in a victory over the Pittsburgh Steelers that kick-started the Ravens’ nine-game winning streak.

Since his arrival, Bynes has played the most defensive snaps of any inside linebacker on the team.

“It was really easy,” Martindale said of inserting Bynes into the lineup. “He came right in and really didn’t skip a beat. I knew from before when he played how he good he was and how smart he is, how instinctive he is, and all those things that go with it. Right away, he calmed down the middle of the defense with his communication and experience.”

Ravens worry about increased hits to Lamar Jackson’s legs: ‘The refs need to pay close attention to that’ »
The Ravens had targeted Fort in free agency, but he opted to sign with the Philadelphia Eagles. After roster maneuvering forced Philadelphia to release Fort, the Ravens fortuitously landed the eight-year pro days later.

“It’s really playing catch-up, first couple days you’re here,” Fort said. “It’s straight football. You can’t do anything else but study. After that, it’s just learning the little nuances because you can’t learn it all at one time. There are so many different ways to play different schemes and stuff like that. Over the course of the year, I’ve been picking up all the little details and getting better and more comfortable with it.”

Mark Ingram
Mark Ingram
The Ravens signed running back Mark Ingram, who spent his first eight NFL seasons with the New Orleans Saints, before the 2019 NFL season. (Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)

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According to analytics website Pro Football Focus, Bynes (39 tackles) has performed well defending the run, while Fort (two sacks) has stood out as an inside pass rusher.

Onwuasor, who isn’t as highly regarded by the website, has made an impact as well, recording two sacks and a key forced fumble against the New England Patriots since his return from a midseason high-ankle sprain.

Preston’s preview: Key matchup, what’s at stake in Thursday’s Ravens-Jets game »
Week-to-week defensive snaps have fluctuated for the three linebackers depending on matchups, with Martindale saying he prefers to have them all playing about 30 snaps per game. At times, Martindale has used personnel without a true inside linebacker, deciding to place safety Chuck Clark as a dime linebacker.

The combination of Onwuasor, Bynes and Fort — Onwuasor and Fort providing speed, Bynes bringing a veteran savviness — have helped negate the loss of Mosley.

The team’s long-term outlook at the position remains bleak. Weeks after signing a one-year contract with the team, Fort was rewarded with a modest two-year extension through the 2021 season. Both Bynes, 30, and Onwuasor, 27, are unrestricted free agents at the end of the season.

But for the time being, the ever-changing defense is adjusting on the fly, slotting pieces where they work best.

“Our philosophy is to put the best 11 on the field for whatever situation it is,” Martindale said.

Custom James Hurst Jersey Large

OWINGS MILLS, Md. — Each day, the same member of the Baltimore Ravens athletic training staff ensures tight end Mark Andrews has a bag available filled with supplies to manage his Type 1 diabetes.

Inside linebacker Josh Bynes has a go-to employee to call when he needs an update on his schedule or has a question about equipment. Offensive tackle James Hurst sets up three weekly sessions with a coaching analyst who helps him with stretching and recovery.

Pro Bowl players, inventive coaches and disciplined talent evaluators are at the root of the Ravens’ success, and they all raked in praise after the team clinched its second straight AFC North title last week.

But like any big organization, the outward faces of this operation aren’t alone.

From groundskeepers to trainers to facility managers, the Ravens have more than 100 employees who don’t suit up on game days or have any say over the roster. So in the wake of the AFC North championship and with the holidays approaching, I thought it’d be a good time to ask players about the unsung members of the franchise.

I posed this question to 11 Ravens players over the past two days: Can you name one employee, not a player or a coach, that keeps everything running smoothly at the team headquarters and deserves attention for his or her behind-the-scenes role?

Four different players picked football information manager Megan McLaughlin, who has been with the team for 17 seasons. She handles updates for the players’ iPads and manages a wide variety of daily tasks for players and coaches.

Several players mentioned the volunteer firemen who work at Under Armour Performance Center during the week cleaning and organizing the locker room before and after practice. And every player who spoke to PennLive said dozens of unheralded employees deserve a slice of credit for the team’s success.

Here are the players surveyed (there was no formula to it; I just talked to players available while media was allowed in the locker room), along with their picks and explanations:

Inside linebacker Josh Bynes’ pick: Megan McLaughlin

“Megan, she does it all, man. You need anything, you need to talk to anybody about anything, she’s always my go-to to call. And I always apologize to her, because I’m like, ‘Meg, I don’t know who else to call.’ She’s just like a pivotal part of this organization, and she needs more recognition.”

Defensive tackle Michael Pierce’s pick: Megan McLaughlin

“She does everything. Emails, any little thing that anybody needs, if you forget your tickets, she’s on top of everything. I don’t know how she does it. … She has her hands on everything. Everybody knows: Around here, if you need something, call Megan.”

Tight end Mark Andrews’s pick: Assistant certified athletic trainer Collin Francis

“For me, he helps a lot with my diabetes. He helped me with all my stuff. I mean, all those guys in the training room are awesome. [Collin] made me a diabetes bag that has all my stuff and everything like that. Those are my guys, man.”

Wide receiver Willie Snead’s pick: Senior director of team travel Joan Fennekohl

“Joan’s the one who does all the tickets; she takes the tickets to hotels. I’ve called her last minute to set up hotels and every time, she’s like, ‘I got it.’”

Lamar Jackson
Baltimore Ravens’ Lamar Jackson, despite praise and apparel sales, tries to ‘block out the noise’

A boost in business represents one sign pointing to Ravens QB Lamar Jackson’s surging popularity.

Safety Chuck Clark’s pick: The firemen

“They’re the hardest working people in the building. They’re cleaning up after grown men and all that. They volunteer their time up here. You talk to some of them and they’ll tell you about the calls and missions they go on and stuff like that. But here, it’s just picking up, laundry, helping us put on our shoulder pads. All that stuff.”

Right guard Marshal Yanda’s pick: Megan McLaughlin and vice president of public relations Chad Steele

“Megan. 100 percent. She does a ton for us. … Megan is like more football-oriented stuff — like schedule stuff and iPad stuff. She takes care of some stuff on Sundays. And she is on it, too. She’s always been like that. If you text her, she fires right back. She’s on it.”

“Chad’s experience with handling the media and knowing what to say, that’s just always been very helpful.”

Tight end Nick Boyle’s pick: “Little Mike in the training room”

“I have a good relationship with all the equipment people and all the trainers. I can’t mention just one, because then they’re all going to get salty. … How about this, say, ‘Mikey in the training room.’ He’s always there whenever I need him and for whatever I want. He’s always there helping me get ready for practice. Little Mike in the training room.” (Note: Boyle, with a smile, declined to specify this, but the Ravens employ an assistant athletic trainer/physical therapist named Mike Thomas.)

Long snapper Morgan Cox’s pick: Facilities assistant Marlon McLean

“He’s tirelessly working, doing the janitor job. But then, I don’t know if people know this, he’s the D.J. at practice as well. So he runs speaker city out there during practice when you hear the crowd noise or whatever at practice. … Marlon makes sure we got toilet paper stock and all that stuff, and he’s in here so many hours of the day.”

Fullback Patrick Ricard’s pick:Megan McLaughlin

“She’s just like — she does everything here. She just has a great attitude. Every time I text her and ask her any questions, she’s always very responsive, and she does a lot. A lot of the stuff she does kind of goes unnoticed. She’s kind of like the cog in the whole machine. She keeps everything going.”

Offensive tackle James Hurst’s pick: Coaching analyst Sam Rosengarten

“He’s really good at helping guys in his free time with stretching, activation-type stuff. Getting the muscles groups ready to go. He’s always there when you need him. I work with him like three times a week. He’s helped me a lot behind the scenes.”

Custom Hayden Hurst Jersey Large

Hayden Hurst wasn’t known as a speedster coming out of college. As an older-than-usual tight end, high-level speed wasn’t one of his bigger selling points as a prospect.

Don’t tell that to him, though.

On a 61-yard catch-and-run touchdown against the Bills in Week 14, Hurst reached a top speed of 20.5 mph, according to Next Gen Stats. That number is the highest reached by any Ravens offensive player this season.

That’s right. It’s not a typo. Faster than Lamar Jackson. Faster than Marquise Brown.

So, of course, Hurst had to notify Madden, in case they felt the need to make any adjustments to his rating.

Hayden Hurst

@haydenrhurst
· Dec 12, 2019
Replying to @EAMaddenNFL and 2 others
Just sayin ‍♂️

Madden NFL 20

@EAMaddenNFL
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3:29 AM – Dec 12, 2019
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65 people are talking about this
They did.

Hayden Hurst

@haydenrhurst
· Dec 12, 2019
Yessssir https://twitter.com/EAMaddenNFL/status/1204845767669760005 …

Madden NFL 20

@EAMaddenNFL
Replying to @haydenrhurst @Ravens
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Madden NFL 20

@EAMaddenNFL
Speed is up to an 85❗️

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11:11 PM – Dec 13, 2019
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Hurst moved from a 83 speed rating to an 85. He’s still just 16th at his position, and behind many of his teammates. Jackson and Brown are in the mid-90s, and even fellow tight end Mark Andrews is still ahead of Hurst with an 86.

It’s nice to see Madden is willing to make changes when it’s deserved. Maybe a few more 60-yard touchdown receptions will help bump Hurst up to Andrews’ level.