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Eisenberg: Time For Some Facts And Opinions


Fact: When Ravens defensive tackle Timmy Jernigan announced he was changing his uniform number to honor Warren Sapp a few weeks ago, Sapp raised a ruckus. "How do I stop this?" Sapp tweeted, later explaining that he had given his cell number to Jernigan and offered to help mentor the younger player, but Jernigan never called.

Opinion: A first-ballot Pro Football Hall of Fame inductee, Sapp is also ostensibly an adult at age 43, 20 years older than Jernigan. He should understand his response is embarrassing, but it seems he doesn't.

Fact: Drafted as an edge rusher, rookie Kamalei Correa lined up at inside linebacker for several series during the one Organized Team Activity practice open to the media last week.

Opinion: Since only a small portion of the offseason practice season is open to media, everything that does get seen gets magnified, sometimes too much. I have no doubt the Ravens are excited about seeing what Correa can do at different spots, but his specialty, getting to the quarterback, is best honed on the outside. I still think that's where we're most liable to see him in 2016.

Fact: Dennis Pitta's first week of OTA practices came off without a hitch.

Opinion: I've read and heard several skeptical opinions about whether there's even a place on the roster for Pitta now that the Ravens have so many young tight ends and also have invested free agent dollars in Benjamin Watson. Let me tell you: If Pitta truly is healthy and makes the team, he is going to be on the field for a healthy number of snaps, and Joe Flacco is going to throw to him. You can't deny chemistry.

Fact: Ashton Carter, the United States Secretary of Defense, announced that rookie Keenan Reynolds, the former Navy star, could defer his military service to play for the Ravens.

Opinion: A few weeks ago, I compared Reynolds' case to that of Napoleon McCallum, another Navy star who played for the Raiders three decades ago, pointing out how worn out McCallum was as he juggled his service commitment and football career. Just to be clear, as I understand it, Carter's ruling means Reynolds can focus strictly on football and doesn't have to juggle anything other than the typical demands other rookies deal with. That's quite a difference for him compared to McCallum's experience. Times have changed.

Fact: The NFL Network is slowly counting down its top 100 players of 2016 with weekly segments, and as yet, with just the lower 50 names revealed, there are no Ravens.

Opinion: By the time the rollout is finished, guard Marshal Yanda will be recognized, likely as one of the top 15 or 20. Safety Eric Weddle, new to Baltimore, also could make the list, although he didn't have his finest season in San Diego in 2015. Anyway, that's probably going to do it for this year. Two guys is quite a comedown for a team accustomed to having more, but hey, when you go 5-11 with a ton of injuries, someone else gets a turn.

Fact: If Steve Smith Sr. catches 39 passes in 2016, he will reach 1,000 career receptions, a threshold only 13 players in NFL history have reached.

Opinion: To be clear, I don't think that possibility was prominent among Smith's reasons why he postponed his retirement to keep playing for the Ravens in 2016. I think he wants to win. He also doesn't want his last act on a football field to be a season-ending injury. But reaching that big, round number surely would help his chances of getting the gold jacket Hall of Fame inductees receive. Not all of the players ahead of him on the career receptions list are in the Hall, but a combination of 1,000 catches and more than 4,000 return yards would make Smith's candidacy compelling to say the least.

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