Daughters start kindness campaign to honour mother
Have you heard about the SaltWire News app?
Daily fall forecasts and weather facts from Cindy Day
VIDEO: Cartoonists talk the Trump gold mine
IN DEPTH: Covering a contentious lobster fishery
SaltWire Selects: Stories you don't want to miss
What you need to know about COVID-19 today
Already a Super Bowl favourite, the Baltimore Ravens are beating any possible rush there might be to the trade deadline shopping counter.
And they’re bulking up on both sides of the ball in the process.
Two weeks before the NFL’s D-Day, the Ravens have acquired exceptional defensive end Yannick Ngakoue from the Minnesota Vikings for a 2021 third-round pick and a conditional 2022 fifth round pick. The addition makes their already strong defence immeasurably stronger.
Furthermore, the NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport reported Thursday that Baltimore also plans to add former Dallas Cowboys star receiver Dez Bryant to its practice squad. Bryant, who turns 32 the day after the Nov. 3 trade deadline, hasn’t played since 2017. He signed with the New Orleans Saints on Nov. 9, 2018, but two days later suffered a torn Achilles. However, the former first rounder out of Oklahoma St. was one of most dangerous receivers in the league for a three-year span from 2011-2014, when he averaged 1,312 yards and 13 touchdowns, including a league high 16 in 2014.
If he makes it to the Ravens 53-man roster and is more than a shadow of his former self, his impact could be significant.
Why do the 5-1 Ravens, who lead the NFL in most points scored as well as fewest points per game allowed, feel the need to pad their lineup? Maybe it’s because, as mentioned, they’re a Super Bowl favourite and not THE Super Bowl favourite. Most oddsmakers list them behind only the defending champion Kansas City Chiefs, who last week boosted their already potent attack by adding Le’Veon Bell.
The 25-year old Ngakoue, who was born in nearby Washington, D.C. and attended the University of Maryland, has five sacks in six games this season and 421/2 in 69 games over his career, which for the first four seasons was with the Jacksonville Jaguars. The Vikings answered his requests to get out of Jacksonville when they acquired him in August for a 2021 second rounder and a conditional 2022 fifth-round pick.
The Ravens already have 22 team sacks, tying them for second most in the league with Tampa, two behind Pittsburgh. But they’ll need all the help they can get putting pressure on Patrick Mahomes should they meet K.C. in the AFC playoffs.
Ngakoue will be a big help, said Ravens defensive end Calais Campbell, who is the conference’s reigning Defensive Player of the Week for his three sacks, four quarterback hits and five tackles Sunday against Philadelphia.
“I’m stoked,” Campbell, who was teammates with Ngakaoe in Jacksonville, told the NFL Network. “He’s such a great talent, such a great guy. I think he’s going to thrive in this culture we have here. This is going to be a great place for him.”
Bryant is less of a certainty, of course, but the passing game is the Ravens biggest weakness, despite the presence of the MVP quarterback Lamar Jackson, perhaps the game’s best tight end in Mark Andrews and wideout Marquise “Hollywood” Brown. Only the New York Jets have averaged fewer yards through the air. Something is missing.
“He’s an experienced guy that can add a lot of value in our receivers room,” said Campbell. “You think about his body of work … man, that guy was really special at one point in his career. Hopefully we’ll get the best out of him again.”
The Ravens dedication to the pursuit of a championship is to be respected. Since the turn of the century they have two Super Bowl titles as well as a 14 win season, a 13 win season and three 12 win seasons. But after going 14-2 in 2019, they suffered a disappointing loss to the Titans in the wild card game, and they have not picked up a post-season ‘W’ in six years.
Clearly, management is committed to changing that.
MOVING THE CHAINS
The Raiders- Buccaneers game has been moved up a few hours, from Sunday night to a 4:05 p.m. start, with the Seahawks and Cardinals game taking its prime-time spot. The Raiders might hope it gets postponed altogether. Multiple reports indicate the team’s entire starting O-line, as well as safety Johnathan Abram, have been placed on the reserved/COVID-19 list. The time rescheduling was done in case the Raiders have even more players test positive. This ensures there will be a Sunday night game, as much as anything can be ensured these days … Vikings DE Danielle Hunter, the fastest player ever to reach 50 sacks, is scheduled to have surgery to repair a herniated disc and is done for the season. Minnesota now has to decide whether to make him the highest paid end in the league or entertain trade offers …
UP THE MIDDLE
According to ESPN’s Adam Schefter, the Seahawks are “positioned to make a push” to sign Antonio Brown, whose eight-game suspension for violating the league’s personal conduct policy is nearly up. Other teams are reportedly also interested. “We have endeavoured to be in on everything that’s going on,” said Seahawks coach Pete Carroll. “And this is no exception. So we’ll see what happens as we go forward.” … Saints WR Michael Thomas missed practice Thursday with what was listed as a hamstring issue. Thomas hasn’t played since Week 1 because of an ankle injury and a disciplinary measure (for punching a teammate in practice) but hasn’t yet been ruled out for Sunday’s game against Carolina.
Just call him “Darth” Lock. Broncos QB Drew Lock, who grew up in Missouri and cheering for the Kansas City Chiefs, will be facing his “hometown team” for the first time this week. “It’s hard to forget 22 years of your life, especially because I’m only 23 now,” Lock said on the team’s website. “This is my first full year out of Kansas City. It is cool to be able to put the Darth Vader mask on and steer away from the Jedi and come to the dark side over here in Denver. Hopefully I can be that guy and get a win and start the rivalry a little bit.” The Broncos have lost he last nine meetings but before that won seven in a row against the Chiefs.
Eagles TE Zach Ertz (ankle) not only missed Thursday’s game but is now expected to be out 4-6 weeks. Fortunately for Philly … Former Vikings LB Matt Blair, a six-time Pro Bowler, died Thursday at the age of 70 … Chargers QB Tyrod Taylor has been medically cleared to return from a punctured lung. His starting job now belongs to rookie Justin Herbert.
Copyright Postmedia Network Inc., 2020