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Game-changers RG3, Reed meet in Ravens-Redskins

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Game-changers RG3, Reed meet in Ravens-Redskins

WASHINGTON (AP) Time to break out more superlatives. Robert Griffin III is about to play another game.

``He's unbelievable. He's back there, he makes more plays than anyone you've been around. He changes the game.''

Ah, but there's a catch. While it certainly sounds like a defensive player getting ready to face RG3, it's actually Washington Redskins offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan talking about Baltimore Ravens safety Ed Reed.

``There's a reason people say he's the best of all time,'' added Shanahan, adding a bit of praise that's not even in Griffin's ballpark.

No active player has more interceptions than Reed. No regular starting quarterback this season has a lower interception rate than Griffin. The veteran ball hawk and do-everything rookie meet for the first time when the Ravens (9-3) visit the Redskins (6-6) on Sunday.

``You've just got to be aware of where he's at,'' said Griffin, who has thrown just four picks this season. ``Just like he's got to be aware of where I am.''

Every Redskins game this season has revolved around the unique challenge of defending a quarterback who can run the option with world class speed, yet whose decision-making when dropping back to pass is the envy of quarterbacks much older.

This week is no different.

``He's making great decisions,'' Reed said. ``He still has a lot to learn, obviously. The offensive scheme that they're running helps him out a lot.''

Griffin is also proving to be a winner and a national phenomenon, leading the Redskins on a three-game streak that has them within a game of first place in the NFC East. His jersey and cleats were sent to the Hall of Fame this week after he topped Cam Newton's NFL single-season record for rushing yards by a rookie quarterback.

``We've got to contain him,'' Reed said. ``We've got to get him on the ground and not allow him to run, but that's like telling Superman not to fly.''

Baltimore's reputation for defense has taken a bit of a hit this season as opponents pile up chunks of yards, although the statistics can be misleading. The Ravens are ranked 25th in the conventional measuring stick of yards allowed, but they are eighth in points allowed - and it's points that determine wins and losses.

Baltimore is in good shape to clinch a playoff berth for the fifth consecutive season and could sew up the AFC North this weekend, pending the results from other games. The Ravens lost to the Pittsburgh Steelers last week, but they are currently the NFL's best bounce-back team, winning 15 in a row following a defeat since their last two-game losing streak in 2009.

``There's always a little bit of extra urgency after a loss, for whatever reason,'' Baltimore quarterback Joe Flacco said. ``I don't know if it's a bad thing or a good thing. But we are always calm, cool and collected and confident around here.''

While the Ravens have a bit of a cushion in their division, the Redskins have been playing in must-win mode since dropping to 3-6 last month. After a trio of intense games against division rivals, Washington can now find motivation in winning the Beltway Bowl against its neighbor to the north.

``This is for all the bragging rights right here,'' Redskins tight end Niles Paul said, ``because we see these guys, we're friends with these guys.''

That's not a universal feeling in the locker room, however. After all, it's hard to build a rivalry between teams that play only once every four years.

``We've got enough rivalries as it is,'' Redskins cornerback Josh Wilson said. ``We've got a whole division of rivalries, so I don't think we can accept any more applications.''

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Keenan Questions?: 5 observations from Day 3 of Ravens training camp

Keenan Questions?: 5 observations from Day 3 of Ravens training camp

OWINGS MILLS – Five observations from Day 3 of Ravens training camp on Saturday, the first practice with players wearing pads:

1. Running back Terrance West looks slimmer, quicker, and impressive both running and pass catching.

West had another strong day of practice, and got plenty of reps with both Kenneth Dixon (knee) and Lorenzo Taliaferro (foot) still out. Justin Forsett, Buck Allen, and Dixon are considered locks to make the 53-man roster. But West, a former Towson star and Baltimore product, could finally be realizing his potential after disappointing stops with the Browns and Titans. West could force the Ravens to keep four running backs, in addition to fullback Kyle Juszczyk.

2. Keenan Reynolds needs to step up his performance at wide receiver.

A host of wide receivers are performing better than Reynolds, who is trying to transition from Navy quarterback to NFL wide receiver. Reynolds had a couple of drops the first three days of practice, and has been unable to get open consistently. Meanwhile, wide receiver Chris Matthews had another strong day, as did Michael Campanaro. Reynolds can help the Ravens as a returner, but they have other players who can fill that role. For Reynolds to secure a roster spot, he needs to show he can help the Ravens as a receiver. Otherwise, the Ravens will face a difficult decision regarding Reynolds, a local fan favorite.

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3. The way Kamalei Correa and Zach Orr are performing, the Ravens may not need to sign a veteran inside linebacker.

Correa had a sparkling one-handed interception Saturday, showing his hands and athleticism. Orr has been reading plays quickly and keeping himself around the football. Even if Correa wins the job at inside linebacker next to C. J. Mosley, there could be reps for Orr as well, giving the Ravens a promising young combo.

4. Saturday was not a crisp day for the offense.

The defense was the better unit, as the offense looked sloppy at times. There were a couple of bad snaps out of the shotgun from center Jeremy Zuttah, and a few false starts from the offensive line. There is plenty of time for cleanup before Week 1, but it’s not what the coaches want to see.

5. QB Joe Flacco and TE Dennis Pitta continued to look good.

Saturday made three straight days of practice for Flacco with no noticeable limping or discomfort. Flacco may be wearing a red jersey, but there have been no red flags regarding his surgically-repaired knee. Meanwhile, Pitta took a solid hit from Orr while attempting to make a catch, but Pitta jumped right to his feet. This was another good day for Pitta in his comeback from his second major hip injury.

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DT Jernigan leaves practice early, WR Moore does not practice

DT Jernigan leaves practice early, WR Moore does not practice

OWINGS MILLS – Ravens defensive tackle Timmy Jernigan left Saturday’s practice early, while rookie wide receiver Chris Moore did not practice.  Coach John Harbaugh did not meet with the media after practice, and no reason was immediately given for either absence. ESPN reported that Jernigan suffered a minor rib area strain that was not considered serious.

Cornerback Jerraud Powers took the field for this first training camp practice, after finally passing the conditioning test. Powers was the lone player remaining who had not passed the test.

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In addition to the five players on the PUP list, tight end Crockett Gillmore (hamstring) and running back Kenneth Dixon (knee) did not practice.

In a roster move, the Ravens signed punter Michael Palardy to fill their open roster spot. Sam Koch, a Pro Bowl selection in 2015, is firmly entrenched as the Ravens’ punter. However, Palardy can take practice reps while the Ravens work their punt returners, reducing some of the strain on Koch’s leg.

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Why Yanda knows offensive success hinges on ability to protect Flacco

Why Yanda knows offensive success hinges on ability to protect Flacco

OWINGS MILLS - One of Marshal Yanda’s top priorities is to make sure the offensive line does its best to keep Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco healthy, unlike 2015, when Flacco suffered a season-ending knee injury. Having made five straight Pro Bowls as a right guard, Yanda is beginning his 10th NFL season, and his ninth season with Flacco as his quarterback. Yanda knows that much of the Ravens’ offensive success depends on Flacco staying healthy.

“We haven’t really talked about it specifically,” Yanda said. “But obviously, you know as an offensive line, we talk about it, and you coach it. You’re going to keep your guys as far away from the quarterback as possible. Obviously, there is probably more emphasis this year with the knee.”

MORE RAVENS: DAY 2 TRAINING CAMP OBSERVATIONS

When Flacco sees game action for the first time this season, Yanda doesn’t expect his quarterback to play tentatively due to his knee.

“He’s going to have to make his read,” Yanda said. “We have certain plays where he is going to be on the move, no matter what. We know about it: it is conscious in my mind; it is conscious in the offensive line’s mind and his mind, too. I feel like he just has to play through that. I had a knee (injury) once before, and he just has to get reps and get comfortable with the way it is feeling now. It will always feel a little different. That is just normal. It will continue to get normal as he keeps playing.”