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Ravens FB Leach on collision course to stardom

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Ravens FB Leach on collision course to stardom

NEW ORLEANS (AP) Vonta Leach's job is to get involved in a collision so Ray Rice won't.

The Baltimore Ravens are in the Super Bowl in part because of Leach's ability to pave a path for Rice to follow. If that involves sticking his helmet into the chest of a 300-pound defensive lineman, then so be it.

``It's just my job,'' said Leach, a three-time Pro Bowl fullback. ``Everybody's got to do their part for us to be successful, and that's my role.''

Leach serves as an escort for Rice and backup running back Bernard Pierce. In 2010, he opened up holes for Arian Foster in Houston. Not coincidentally, Rice and Foster both earned invitations to the Pro Bowl by following Leach's lead.

``Vonta is a fullback, the most under-recognized position in the game because of all the physical abuse he does to his body to see another man shine,'' said Rice, who ran for 1,143 yards during the regular season. ``The fullback position is not a pretty job. One thing about it is, Vonta wants that responsibility, to go out there and just knock people out for me and Bernard to be successful. He's done it for many backs over the years. Look at what he's done for Arian Foster. They all can vouch for him. Linebackers around the league know he's coming for you.''

Leach broke into the NFL in 2004 with Green Bay, but he didn't really make a name for himself until he played for Houston. In 2008 he cleared room for Steve Sloan, and two years later he helped make Foster the NFL's leading rusher.

His work often goes unnoticed, but is not unappreciated. Leach was an All-Pro in 2010 and 2011, and he's made the Pro Bowl in each of the last three seasons.

Leach didn't play in the NFL's all-star game this season because he was preparing for something more important: a Super Bowl matchup Sunday against the San Francisco 49ers.

``Vonta Leach is a good fullback. He is an All-Pro fullback, a Pro Bowl fullback, and really I almost feel like he is the last of the dying breed of what you can call a real fullback,'' 49ers linebacker Patrick Willis said. ``He is a tough guy and a guy that every play you have to come with it.''

Sometimes, Leach actually gets to run with the football. He carried nine times during the regular season, gaining 32 yards and scoring a touchdown. He has four rushes for 14 yards and a TD in the postseason. But most of the time, he's the one clearing room for someone else.

A year ago, the Ravens ran for 1,996 yards and 15 touchdowns. Rice gained 1,364 yards and scored 12 TDs. Those numbers were slightly lower this year - Baltimore had 1,901 yards rushing, and Rice score nine TDs on the ground - in part because Joe Flacco has been so effective passing the ball.

``I think last year we probably were a little bit better than this year, but we're a more balanced team,'' Leach said. ``Teams don't know right now if we're going to run or pass the ball.''

Leach was perfectly happy in Houston, but before the 2011 season the Texans decided he was too expensive to keep.

``My five years there was a great experience,'' Leach said. ``I never had a run-in with the coaches or players. It's just that when the time came for me to get some money, for me to get my piece of the pie, they just didn't offer it to me.''

He quickly signed with Baltimore as an unrestricted agent. It was a move that ultimately benefited both teams.

``I'm very happy with the success I've had with the Ravens,'' he said. ``The reason I came is, the Ravens are one of those teams you're always talking about being in the running for the Super Bowl. Now here we are, and we have a chance to win it.''

Only the 49ers stand in the way. Come Sunday, with Rice right behind him, Leach will be looking to knock down anyone wearing a red jersey.

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Ravens, Jaguars players kneel during national anthem

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@BleacherReport

Ravens, Jaguars players kneel during national anthem

On a day when many NFL players are expected to show some type of protest, the Ravens and Jaguars got an early start. 

Before their game in London kicked off this morning, players and coaches stood with linked arms during the playing of the national anthem. Several players on both teams also took a knee:

The protests are in response to comments made over the weekend from President Trump, who, at a rally, advocated for the firing of any player who took a knee during the national anthem. 

Ravens owner Steve Bisciotti also issued this statement:

Players all across the league are expected to take similar action this afternoon and tonight. 

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Ravens vs. Jaguars in London: Date, time, TV channel, how to watch, online stream

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Ravens vs. Jaguars in London: Date, time, TV channel, how to watch, online stream

The Ravens are looking to go 3-0 this Sunday against the Jacksonville Jaguars.

The only minor difference in this game than from most, they'll be playing 3,628 miles away in London, England.

MORE RAVENS: RAY LEWIS NOMINATED FOR 2018 PRO FOOTBALL HALL OF FAME CLASS

The Jaguars are coming off a 37-16 loss at home against the Tennessee Titans. In Week 1 however, they defeated the Houston Texans 29-7.

Quarterback Blake Bortles completed 20 of 34 passes in Sunday's game for 211 yards and a touchdown. Bortles also threw two interceptions.

The Ravens are 2-0 after shutting out the Cincinnati Bengals in Week 1 and dominating the Cleveland Browns 24-10 at home in Week 2.

One major blow the Ravens took in Sunday's game against the Browns was losing Pro-Bowl guard Marshall Yanda to a season-ending ankle injury.

RELATED: RAY LEWIS CLAIMS RAVENS DIDN'T SIGN KAEPERNICK AFTER GIRLFRIEND'S TWEET

To make up for a major loss on offense, the defense will continue to have to prove they are a powerhouse figure in the league.

In the Ravens' first two regular season games, the defense has had eight interceptions and two forced fumbles.

And as far as quarterback Joe Flacco, who was absent from the preseason with a back injury, he's thrown for 338 yards and three touchdowns.

There will be no sleeping in on Sunday morning with kick off at 9:30 a.m. ET. CSN has all the info you need to watch the guys in the U.K..

Week 3 Ravens vs. Jaguars in London game info:

Who: Baltimore Ravens vs. Jacksonville Jaguars

What: Week 3 NFL's International Series 

When: 9:30 a.m.. ET, Sunday Sept. 24, 2017

Where: Wembley Stadium, London, England

TV Channel: CBS

Live Stream: Yahoo, NFL Game Pass, NFL Mobile, Baltimore Ravens website

Radio: WBAL New Radio 1090 

Point Spread: Baltimore, -3.5

Over/Under: 39.5

Weather: 71 degrees, partly cloudy

BALTIMORE RAVENS 2017 REGULAR SEASON SCHEDULE:

Week 1 (Sun, Sept. 10): at Cincinnati Bengals, 1:00 p.m. (W)

Week 2 (Sun, Sept. 17): vs. Cleveland Browns, 1:00 p.m. (W)

Week 3 (Sun, Sept. 24): at Jacksonville Jaguars in London, 9:30 a.m.

Week 4 (Sun, Oct. 1): vs. Pittsburgh Steelers, 1:00 p.m.

Week 5 (Sun, Oct. 8): at Oakland Raiders, 4:05 p.m.

Week 6 (Sun, Oct. 15): vs Chicago Bears, 1:00 p.m.

Week 7 (Sun, Oct. 22): at Minnesota Vikings, 1:00 p.m.

Week 8 (Thur, Oct. 26): vs. Miami Dolphins, 8:25 p.m.

Week 9 (Sun, Nov. 5): at Tennessee Titans, 1:00 p.m.

Week 10 (Sun, Nov. 12): BYE week

Week 11 (Sun, Nov. 19): at Green Bay Packers, 1:00 p.m.

Week 12 (Mon, Nov. 27): vs. Houston Texans, 8:30 p.m.

Week 13 (Sun, Dec. 3): vs. Detroit Lions, 1:00 p.m.

Week 14: (Sun, Dec. 10): at Pittsburgh Steelers, 8:30 p.m.

Week 15: (Sun, Dec. 17): at Cleveland Browns, 1:00 p.m.

Week 16: (Sat, Dec. 23): vs Indianapolis Colts, 4:30 p.m.

Week 17: (Sun, Dec. 31): vs. Cincinnati Bengals, 1:00 p.m.