Exactly five years after he played his last game and went out as a Super Bowl champion, former Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis was elected into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in his first year of eligibility.
Only three offensive players that started for the Patriots when they last met the Ravens in a divisional playoff game on Jan. 10, 2015, will be starting Monday night at Gillette Stadium. Yet, the only thing that seemed to matter to the Ravens this week was that the guy who directs the Patriots offense remains the same, perhaps even better.
The Jacksonville Jaguars' new regime under coach Gus Bradley and general manager Dave Caldwell created a scheme that allowed their young receivers to grow into one of the game's most feared groups after just 24 games together. On Sunday, that will stand in contrast with the Ravens' group of largely street free agents left in the absence of injured veteran Steve Smith Sr. and first-round pick Breshad Perriman.
That line of thinking, albeit premature in this instance, brings us to the spring and summer of 2015, to the University of Maryland, and to two high-profile players heading into their respective drafts: wide receiver Stefon Diggs and outfielder LaMonte Wade.
As he enters his 15th and final season, the Ravens wide receiver's legacy appears secure. He has a hard-earned reputation as one of the most intense competitors to play in the NFL and one of the best pass catchers of his era. An undersized receiver who was initially labeled a return specialist, Steve Smith Sr. has 915 career catches, 13,262 receiving yards and 73 receiving touchdowns.
With dreams of eventually making it to the NFL, Winters Mill graduate Simeon Wright said he's taking it one step at a time. As a non-scholarship player with preferred walk-on status at Towson, there will be a roster spot for him following this season, though he still has to earn it through practice.
I couldn't help but notice a couple of trends with the Ravens' four offseason additions. First, the Ravens signed four players who were cut by other teams this past offseason. Second, these players seemed to have picked the Ravens for a reason: They want to win a Lombardi Trophy. Sound familiar? That's how the New England Patriots have operated this past decade.
Every morning, Monday through Friday, blogger Matt Vensel will hook you up with reading material -- mostly on the Ravens but with some other Baltimore sports stuff, too -- to skim through as you slug down coffee and slack off at the start of your workday.