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News and analysis on the Ravens, Orioles, Terps and more
Jacoby Jones' replacement as return specialist might not be on Ravens roster

With the release of Super Bowl XLVII hero Jacoby Jones officially beginning the Ravens’ offseason activity, the team appears to have created another need for itself.

The team's roster includes several options to return kicks, all of whom present their own question marks about whether each is the man to replace Jones.

Outside of wide receiver Steve Smith, who hasn't returned kicks regularly since 2005, cornerback Lardarius Webb is the most experienced return man on the roster. He has 37 kick returns and 53 punt returns in his career — though just two of them have come since 2011, with five fair catches in 2014.

Additionally, Webb’s roster status could be in jeopardy as the team seeks to restructure his contract, which carries a $12 million salary cap hit. And at a position as important to the team’s fortunes as cornerback, Webb could be too valuable to risk as a returner if he’s back in 2015.

The end-of-season depth chart listed wide receiver Michael Campanaro (River Hill) as the...

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Ozzie Newsome, Ravens brass already discussed Joe Flacco's 2016 cap number

While restructured contracts for defensive tackle Haloti Ngata and cornerback Lardarius Webb are more immediate concerns for the Ravens’ front office entering the 2015 season, the exorbitant salary cap figure looming for quarterback Joe Flacco’s contract in 2016 has already received attention.

His salary cap number is set to nearly double, from $14.55 million in 2015 to $28.55 million in 2016, and general manager Ozzie Newsome said dealing with that situation was already a topic of conversation among the team’s brain trust.

“Part of the discussion that we have down in Florida, we not only talk about the current year, but we talk about the years going forward,” Newsome said Tuesday, referring to the trip to visit owner Steve Bisciotti that he, president Dick Cass, assistant general manager Eric DeCosta, vice president of football administration Pat Moriarty, and coach John Harbaugh make every winter.

“We’ve already addressed that to a certain degree,” he said. “We’ve had a chance to...

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Former Ravens linebacker Jarret Johnson announces retirement

Former Ravens outside linebacker Jarret Johnson used his Instagram account Tuesday to announce the end of his 12-year NFL career, the last three of which were spent with the San Diego Chargers.

Johnson wrote in the comments below an array of photos from his playing days that he “lived a dream which few can say but it's time to move on.

“I want to thank the Chargers organization for giving me a home these past three years,” Johnson wrote. “I have nothing but respect for the players, coaches, front office staff and fans that were apart of me and my families lives. It's been a great ride!!”

Johnson also thanked his “Baltimore family,” where he learned “to be a pro and conduct yourself like a warrior on the field” and “spent [nine] of the best years of my life.”

Johnson, a fourth-round pick in 2003, accumulated 20 sacks in nine seasons with the Ravens and missed just one game while with the team.

Of his 506 career tackles, 382 came with the Ravens. He left the team with franchise records...

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Ravens announce $5 million Wi-Fi network for fans at M&T Bank Stadium

More than 70,000 fans at M&T Bank Stadium trying to access information on their fantasy football teams and updates from games around the NFL on Sundays put a drain on wireless data networks and smartphone batteries, and the Ravens are addressing that with a new Wi-Fi network at the downtown stadium.

Team president Dick Cass said at the annual “State of the Ravens” address that a $5 million offseason improvement project would bring Wi-Fi access to fans on Sundays.

“It should enable all of our fans to be able to access everything they want to access during the game,” Cass said. “I hope most of the fans are watching the game, but if you get bored, you can turn to your phone and get whatever you want. It’ll be a state of the art Wi-Fi system that’s going to cost about $5 million to put in.”

The NFL has been working to improve Internet access in stadiums for several seasons. Fans aren’t totally in the dark about other games around the league — M&T Bank Stadium regularly shows out-of-town...

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Ravens, Orioles earn high marks for analytics use

Both the Ravens and Orioles were praised for their belief in sports analytics by an ESPN survey that rated all four major sports leagues on their commitment to statistical analysis.

The Ravens were one of nine NFL teams rated as "believers," the second-highest level given in the NFL, though no team achieved the highest level. Nine teams were rated as “all-in” on analytics in Major League Baseball, with the Orioles a level down as “believers” as well.

While individual teams weren’t ranked outside the top- and bottom-10, the Ravens were clearly darlings of the NFL section. The organization was lauded for both its ability to identify talent in the draft and free agency — a classic tenet of analytics use — and its commitment to analytics-based strategy during games.

The writer fawned over a quote from coach John Harbaugh during the season on why he went for a touchdown on fourth-and-short near the goalline, and how it didn’t cost them points when the ensuing drive secured a field goal. But...

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Facebook video inspires Will Hauver Egg Crack Challenge for McDonogh graduate

The ubiquitous ALS Ice Bucket Challenge from last summer spawned a messy spinoff in honor of a McDonogh graduate who died earlier this month on his college campus in Florida.

Will Hauver, a 22-year-old Towson native and Rollins College lacrosse captain who passed away Feb. 2 due to complications from the flu, has those who knew him (and some who don’t) cracking eggs on their heads in honor of diabetes awareness and research.

In his Ice Bucket Challenge video, Hauver pledged all the money in his wallet ($48.25) to ALS research before turning his attention elsewhere. He said that as a person with diabetes, which he referred to as live-betes, he wanted awareness for that cause as well.

So Hauver instituted the "First Annual Egg Crack On the Head Challenge," in which he cracked an egg on his head, then used the ice that he was meant to dump on it to chill some iced tea.

Months later, it has become a cause for his wide circle of family and friends to use to honor him.

Proceeds will go to...

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