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Late for Work 4/11: Campanaro's Exit Continues WR Facelift, Trade Back Scenario, End of Color Rush?

Posted Apr 11, 2018

Could the Ravens trade back and still get quarterback Lamar Jackson? Color Rush uniforms may no longer be a staple of Thursday Night Football. RGIII worked out with an Olympic athlete at the ESPN complex. Is the WR position in crisis at the college level?

Michael Campanaro’s Exit Continues Wide Receiver Facelift

General Manager Ozzie Newsome’s promise to overhaul the wide receiver corps continued with last night’s news that Michael Campanaro will sign a one-year deal with the Tennessee Titans.

His departure continues the facelift of the Ravens’ receiving corps,” wrote The Baltimore Sun’s Jeff Zrebiec.

With Campanaro’s exit, the Ravens’ three most productive wide receivers in terms of catches from last season are gone. Mike Wallace (52 catches) is now with the Philadelphia Eagles, Jeremy Maclin (40) was cut and now Campanaro (19) has said goodbye.

That’s 111 receptions, 1,361 yards and eight touchdowns the Ravens must replace, and ideally, improve upon. The team will also need a new punt returner with Campanaro no longer in the mix. Tight end Benjamin Watson, who led the Ravens with 61 receptions last year, also left to sign with the New Orleans Saints.

The Ravens added Michael Crabtree and John “Smokey” Brown to replace Maclin and Wallace, and they remain in the market for more pass-catching help. Newsome said last week that he could add another weapon before the NFL Draft later this month.

Baltimore has reportedly brought in New Orleans restricted free agent Willie Snead and unrestricted free agent Eric Decker for visits.

Despite continual struggles to stay healthy, the Ravens never lost faith in Campanaro’s potential and even re-signed him after releasing him with an injury settlement in 2016.

“As he got healthier later that [2016] season, Campanaro heard from several interested teams. However, he decided he had unfinished business with his hometown team and he didn’t want to play anywhere else,” Zrebiec wrote.

“Less than two years later and after having his most productive and healthiest season, Campanaro decided that now was the time for him to move on. After visiting Tennessee last week, he signed a one-year deal with the Titans on Tuesday. The Ravens had made an effort to re-sign Campanaro, but he opted for a fresh start in Tennessee.”

Under-the-Radar Trade Scenario: Ravens Trade Back for QB Lamar Jackson

Sports and speculation go hand-in-hand, and that speculation gets ramped up a notch in the final few weeks before the draft.

Newsome sent out major draft-day trade vibes last week, so now everyone is wondering what type of move he could make. Well, NFL Network’s Bucky Brooks and Charles Davis have a juicy one for you.

“I could see the Ravens in the trade market for a guy like Lamar Jackson,” Brooks said. “Not moving up, but maybe falling back down a little bit so they can get their hands on their quarterback while picking up some extra ammunition on draft day.”

Brooks says he’s “connecting the dots” between 1) the recent Jackson-Baltimore buzz, 2) Offensive Coordinator Marty Mornhinweg and Greg Roman’s familiarity with coaching dual-threat quarterbacks and 3) the signing of quarterback Robert Griffin III.

“We could have a team that is morphing to be ready for an athletic quarterback to be taking over,” Brooks concluded.

Newsome isn’t afraid to move around the draft board, whether it’s to move up to snag the player he covets or move back to stockpile draft picks. He’s orchestrated seven first-round trades over the years, and he’s attempted others on multiple occasions.

Moving back this year has been a popular notion among Baltimore media and fans because the 2018 draft class is characterized by its depth rather than top-end talent. But the hope was for the Ravens to trade back and still get a wide receiver or pass-catching tight end, not for the team’s potential quarterback of the future.

Alas, Davis thinks the Dallas Cowboys may want to move up from their No. 19 spot to select wide receiver Calvin Ridley.

“There’s so much talk about Ridley being the first receiver off the board and he seems to fit perfectly with Dallas. So those guys with the stars on the side of their helmet, if they start to get word that some other teams might be interested, I might make them deal right now with my colleague ‘Bucky Newsome.’ … ‘You want to make a deal, Mr. Newsome? Let’s do it!’”

While a first-round quarterback is the buzz right now in Baltimore, NFL Insider Mike Garafolo says the more likely scenario is that Baltimore continues to build its offensive weapons arsenal in the early rounds and waits until the middle rounds to draft a quarterback to develop behind Joe Flacco.

He pointed to the New York Giants’ selection of quarterback Davis Webb in the third round of last year’s draft as a model to emulate. He has been learning the NFL ropes from starter Eli Manning.

“[Picking Lamar Jackson] would surprise me,” Garafolo said. “I do think that they look to take a quarterback potentially early in this draft, maybe a Davis Webb-type situation.”

No More Color Rush Jerseys? What About the All-Purple Look?

We may be witnessing the end of the Color Rush era … sort of.

Rumors started floating around yesterday that the NFL will no longer use Color Rush uniforms on Thursday Night Football, which wasn’t welcomed news for those who love their team’s alternate look.

Baltimore fans and players widely praised the all-purple uniform. Will that look fade away?

Not necessarily.

Garafolo reported that the uniforms aren't going away completely, but they might no longer be exclusive to Thursday night games. He said additional changes could be coming to the NFL uniform policy as well, but everything would have to be voted on by NFL owners first.

In the past, teams have been permitted to sport an alternate uniform for select games (think the Ravens’ all-black uniforms), and perhaps Baltimore will still bust out the vibrant all-purple look on those occasions.

Count Ravens safety Tony Jefferson as one who wants to keep it around.

RGIII Works Out With Olympian Justin Gatlin at ESPN Complex

Ravens quarterback Robert Griffin III and Olympic track star Justin Gatlin were recently training at the Disney-owned ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex as they both try to resurrect their careers.

RGIII will sign with the Ravens after not playing in the league last year and Gatlin returned after being out of his sport from 2006-10.

“That’s fitting when you consider that both are trying to make magic at the place – Walt Disney World – where magic happens every day,” wrote TheDisneyBlog.com’s John Frost.

The Ravens’ new quarterback surely hopes he has the same type of success Gatlin has already had after beating 19-time Olympic and World Champion medalist Usain Bolt in the 100-meter dash in London last year.

“Sitting out for a year made me realize that [playing quarterback in the NFL] is what God has called me to do and this is what I want to do,’’ Griffin said. “I have never stopped working towards that goal.”

Is the Wide Receiver Position in Crisis at the College Level?

Over the last three drafts, there have been 13 first-round wide receivers.

Of those 13, only one (Amari Cooper) has gone to the Pro Bowl. Only four have caught 40 or more passes in a season.

Why the troubling trend?

Former Carolina Panthers wide receivers coach and player Ricky Proehl says the rookie receivers are having a hard time simply understanding the terminology when they arrive at their new NFL campuses. When a play is called, many can’t even get past what side of the formation they’re supposed to line up on.

“Proehl is definitely buying into the theory that the wide receiver position is in a bit of a crisis at the college level,” wrote Sports Illustrated’s Connor Orr. “The reasons are three-pronged, and could be why some of your favorite NFL teams are drafting receivers specifically out of the few pro-style offenses remaining in college, like Alabama, Georgia, LSU and Florida State.”

You can check out Orr’s full analysis of each problem here, but this is the overview:

1. Collegiate offenses reduce wideouts to one side of the ball with limited responsibilities.
2. Coaches are starting to teach routes differently, and perhaps less effectively.
3. The use of the “fingertip method” for catching the ball.

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