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Ravens News 7/20: Run defense rankings, abounding optimism and more

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NFL: Washington Redskins at Baltimore Ravens Mitch Stringer-USA TODAY Sports

NFL run-defense rankings: All 32 teams entering 2018 - Pro Football Focus



Brandon Williams, defensive interior – 89.0 run-defense grade

Terrell Suggs, edge defender – 87.4

Michael Pierce, defensive interior – 86.4

Missed tackle % on run plays, 2017: 10.0% (5th)

The Ravens are stout up front and it starts with their players on the defensive interior. Williams was tied for the fifth-highest run-defense grade among interior defensive linemen at 89.0, and ranked third among 3-4 defensive ends with a 11.0 run-stop percentage. At nose tackle, Pierce was fifth among defensive tackles with an 11.8 run-stop percentage, while he ranked 17th among players on the defensive interior with a PFF grade of 86.4 against the run. Suggs has been one of the top run defenders in the NFL throughout his career and despite his advancing years, still ranked 10th among edge defenders with a PFF grade of 87.4 last year.

The Ravens rate third in the AFC behind only the Broncos and Patriots. Barring unforeseen injuries, the run defense should easily improve on their 16th ranked rushing defense from 2017. Baltimore’s run defense has finished in the top-5 in three of the last five seasons.

Ray Lewis Will Bring Fans on ‘Rollercoaster of Emotions’ in Hall of Fame Speech - Ryan Mink

Lewis will deliver the seventh and final speech at the 2018 Pro Football Hall of Fame Enshrinement Ceremony on Aug. 4. Lewis will be the finale.

As fans debate what the length and tenor of Lewis’ speech will be, Lewis told reporters Wednesday afternoon that he plans to “savor the moment.”

“Whether it becomes my greatest [speech] or not, I will tell you that it will have people and myself on a rollercoaster of emotions that we will never forget,” Lewis said.

Lewis has done his homework. He said he’s gone back and watched many Hall of Fame speeches from over the years.

“That is your moment,” Lewis said. “Nervousness? Nah. … It’s the moment that you dream about for your entire life.”

Ray Lewis has always had a unique way with words. His Hall of Fame induction speech is guaranteed to be entertaining.

Antonio Brown is the ‘Madden 19’ cover athlete - Ralph Warner

Steelers All-Pro WR Antonio Brown is the cover athlete for Madden 19. Brown is one of seven players with a perfect 99 rating in Madden 19. He’s also the first player to be featured on the cover without a helmet on.

“You gotta stay focused. Obviously this is a tremendous honor, you can’t get caught up in worrying about what others believe,” the six-time Pro Bowler told SI. “I’m extremely focused and excited to be in everyone’s household, to let them see me in my Steelers uniform representing my club.”

Brown will put the mythical ‘Madden curse’ to the test.

After disappointing end to 2017, Ravens put optimistic face on first day of extended training camp - Childs Walker

It’s the optimistic face an entire organization is trying to project as the Ravens begin a crucial season.

But the Ravens have gone 40-40 since they claimed the Lombardi Trophy in February 2013, and that mediocrity has soured fans, who left thousands of seats empty for home games at M&T Bank Stadium last season.

[Tony] Jefferson said that upbeat attitude, typical for [Eric] Weddle, has carried across the entire roster.

“We’ve got so much talent. It’s exciting about the opportunity we have,” he said. “We’re loving the moment. Last year wasn’t how we wanted it to end, but the best part about it is we have another opportunity. I think everybody’s fired up. Everybody came in here smiling, happy and excited to get rolling.”

From Hayden Hurst, Willie Snead and Tony Jefferson to Alex Collins, C.J. Mosley and Michael Crabtree, every Raven interviewed thus far in training camp has presented a professional, positive and workmanlike attitude.

Buffalo Bills’ Week 1 opponent, Baltimore Ravens, open training camp a week earlier - Matt Warren

Because the Ravens are playing in the NFL’s Hall of Fame Game, they will have five preseason games and an extra week of practice. Is that an unfair advantage? Hardly.

Over the last four seasons, teams that play in the Hall of Fame Game are 2-4 in Week 1 of the regular season, so while the Ravens might get an extra week of preparation for the regular season, it probably doesn’t mean anything in the long run.

The Ravens lead the all-time series against the Bills 4-3, including a 13-7 win in their 2016 home opener.

Take it to the Bank Podcast

Segment 1: Previewing Week 6 at Tennessee

Segment 2: Ranking the AFC North cornerback corps

Segment 3: Analyzing rookie linebacker Kenny Young

Segment 4: One addition that would lead the Ravens to Super Bowl LIII

Segment 5: News from training camp