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Strahan, Sapp, Ogden among Hall of Fame finalists

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Strahan, Sapp, Ogden among Hall of Fame finalists

CANTON, Ohio (AP) Single-season sacks leader Michael Strahan and two players who tried to block him are among 15 modern-era finalists for the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

Strahan, who had 22 1/2 sacks in 2001 and 141 1/2 for his 15-year his career with the New York Giants, is joined by offensive tackle Jonathan Ogden of the Ravens and guard-tackle Larry Allen of the Cowboys and 49ers.

The fourth first-year eligible to make the cut is defensive tackle Warren Sapp of the Buccaneers and Raiders.

Strahan, Ogden and Sapp all won Super Bowls.

The hall announced Friday that the other finalists are running back Jerome Bettis; receivers Cris Carter, Tim Brown and Andre Reed; LB-DEs Charles Haley and Kevin Greene; guard Will Shields; defensive back Aeneas Williams; coach Bill Parcells; and former owners Edward DeBartolo Jr. of the 49ers and the late Art Modell of the Browns, who moved to Baltimore in 1996 to become the Ravens.

The two senior nominees are defensive tackle Curley Culp - who played for the Chiefs, Oilers and Lions - and linebacker Dave Robinson of the Packers and Redskins.

Between four and seven new members will be selected Feb. 2, the day before the Super Bowl, in New Orleans.

Bettis played for the Rams and Steelers - he won the 2006 Super Bowl in his final game, something Strahan did in 2008. He's in his third season of eligibility and was beaten out by fellow running backs Marshall Faulk in 2011 and Curtis Martin in 2012 for the hall.

Carter, Brown and Reed all were in the top 10 in receptions when they retired. Haley won five Super Bowls, two with San Francisco and three with Dallas.

Greene was one of the first hybrid linebacker-end defenders, which best suited his pass-rushing skills.

Shields was an ironman blocker for 14 seasons in Kansas City. Williams was a versatile defensive back who played on the corner and at safety. He had 55 career interceptions and 23 fumble recoveries.

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Online:http://pro32.ap.org/poll andhttp://twitter.com/AP-NFL

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LB Za'Darius Smith among those not playing Saturday

LB Za'Darius Smith among those not playing Saturday

OWINGS MILLS – Add outside linebacker Za’Darius Smith to the list of Ravens not expected to play Saturday night. Head coach John Harbaugh said Smith had an ankle issue that would keep him out against the Lions. Smith was not at practice Thursday.

Others not expected to play against the Lions include outside linebacker Terrell Suggs, wide receivers Steve Smith Sr. and Breshad Perriman, left guard John Urschel, tight ends Dennis Pitta and Maxx Williams, safety Kendrick Lewis, cornerbacks Kyle Arrington and Jerraud Powers, and defensive tackle Brandon Williams. All of them are at various stages of dealing with injuries.

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Perriman returned to practice this week, but head coach John Harbaugh did not commit to playing Perriman after Thursday’s walkthrough practice.

“We’ll see, it’s up to the doctors,” Harbaugh said of Perriman. “He hasn’t gone full speed in practice yet. Today was not a full speed practice for anybody.”

Outside linebacker Elvis Dumervil is not expected to play either, because he just returned to practice this week after offseason foot surgery. With Suggs, Dumervil, and Smith out of the lineup, Saturday should present an opportunity for pass rushers like Matt Judon, Chris Carter, and Victor Ochi to get extra reps.

MORE RAVENS: PERRIMAN HOPES TO IMPRESS WITH SPEED AND HANDS

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Flacco looks forward to playing. Getting hit? Not so much

Flacco looks forward to playing. Getting hit? Not so much

OWINGS MILLS – Joe Flacco is looking forward to playing Saturday night, but not looking forward to getting hit.

That’s always the case, but Flacco will be watched closely than usual when he plays for the first time since his knee injury last November. Will he stand calmly in the pocket against the Lions’ pass rush? Will he step into his throws with confidence? Will he look rusty, or in sync? If Flacco’s left knee is hit, how will it react?

Flacco has felt good about the answers to all of those questions for months, and he has looked terrific in practice. But returning to game action was the last hurdle Flacco wanted to clear before the regular-season opener Sept. 11 against the Bills.

“I really don’t feel like I need to play in games to be ready to play Game 1, but I want to put myself through that whole process,” Flacco said following Thursday’s practice. “I don’t need to, but I want to. I think I’ll be better for it.”

RELATED: PERRIMAN HOPES TO IMPRESS WITH SPEED AND HANDS

Flacco said it was hard for him to sit out the first two preseason games, but he understood the logic.

“I could’ve played the first two games,” Flacco said. “Was it really worth it? Probably not. You’re (only) going to get a couple of series anyway.”

Flacco said he expected to play about a half Saturday night, which might give him a chance to build chemistry with new targets like tight end Ben Watson, and wide receivers Mike Wallace and Chris Moore, who are all expected to play.

Asked if he wanted to get hit, Flacco smiled and said, “It’d be great not to get hit. I don’t need to get hit, no.”

But at some point, Flacco wanted to test his knee in live action before the regular season began. Flacco is not expected to play the preseason finale, Sept. 1 against the Saints.

MORE RAVENS: WHO WILL GRAB HOLD OF RAVENS KICK RETURN JOB

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WR Perriman hopes to impress not only with speed, but with hands

WR Perriman hopes to impress not only with speed, but with hands

OWINGS MILLS - People often call Breshad Perriman fast. They don’t always call Perriman sure-handed.

However, criticism of Perriman’s hands may be a thing of the past, according to Ravens offensive coordinator Marc Trestman. One of the few knocks on Perriman entering the 2015 draft was that he sometimes dropped catchable balls due to a lack of concentration. However, the Ravens’ second-year wide receiver has worked hard on catching the ball consistently, even when he wasn’t able to run during his recovery from two knee injuries.

Now Perriman finally seems close to making his Ravens debut. When that happens, Trestman said he expected to see a receiver not only with impressive speed, but reliable hands.

“I think his hands and concentration have even got better since he first got here,” Trestman said. “He is much more sure-handed – not that he wasn’t – but he has become even more sure-handed. I think that goes with confidence. He just needs to get out and play and run routes and do it consistently and get some reps. He just needs reps. He has go-to speed, and he has size to go with it. It is a unique package.”

A package the Ravens are eager to unwrap.

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