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Ravens-Colts game Saturday features a clash between top-ranked special teams units

One subplot in the Ravens’ home game against the Indianapolis Colts on Saturday is how the former’s NFL-leading kick-return team fares against the latter’s stingiest kick coverage unit. It is a clash that special teams ace Anthony Levine Sr. is eagerly anticipating.

“Every time we go out there on special teams, we always want to go out there and make sure that we get blocks for our returners,” he said after Wednesday’s practice. “We always want to set the tone with our special teams. It doesn’t matter where they’re ranked. They could be last; they could be first. We’re going to go out there, and we want to set the tone on punt returns and kickoffs.”

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Thanks in part to former returner Bobby Rainey Jr.’s 96-yard return for a touchdown against the Chicago Bears on Oct. 15, the Ravens lead the league in kick-return average at 26.4 yards. They have two other players in Michael Campanaro (River Hill) and Chris Moore who have returned a kickoff 35 yards or longer.

On the flip side, Indianapolis ranks first in the NFL in fewest kick-return yards allowed, surrendering only 18.77 — which is just slightly ahead of the Ravens’ 18.80 given up. Only five opponents have finished a game averaging more than 20.0.

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“They are very diverse,” Ravens special teams coordinator Jerry Rosburg said of the Colts. “They do a lot of different things, and they kick the ball left and right and middle, and they try to confuse your counts. It is a challenge. We are up for it, and we have a lot of confidence in our kick-return team, and it should be a really interesting part of the game on Saturday afternoon.”

Levine tried to downplay the hype about the impending chess match between top-ranked units. But he conceded that there is some anticipation.

“We’re going to see how it works out,” Levine said. “We like that. We like the competition. We like going out there for every game, but when it’s like that, when it’s [No.] 1 against [No.] 1, it’s our 11 against your best 11. Let’s get after it.”

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