Late For Work 12/14: 5 Things To Know About Devin Hester Release; Ray Lewis Visits Trump Tower

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5 Things To Know About Devin Hester Release

The Ravens announced the release of veteran return man Devin Hester Monday, a day after he failed to field punts in New England that resulted in drives starting at the 1- and 2-yard lines and setting up a safety.

Baltimore now has one open roster spot, but it is widely expected that wide receiver/returner Michael Campanaro will be promoted from the practice squad. Teammate Kapron Lewis-Moore tweeted congratulations to Campanaro on the anticipated promotion.

Below are five things to know about Hester's release:

1) This could be the end of an illustrious Hall of Fame career that deserves respect.

ESPN's Jamison Hensley says the Ravens' decision to cut Hester could "end the career of one of the best returners in NFL history." When Baltimore took a flyer on Hester in September, it made sense given his four Pro Bowls and NFL record 20 return touchdowns. Nobody expected him to play at that level, but the hope was he could bring stability to the return game. Even though it didn't work out in Baltimore, there are many who are praising such a vaunted and respected career.

2) The release was necessary.

As good as Hester's career has been, it was clear the Ravens had to move on. Some say his release was actually overdue after he fumbled five times (one lost) this season and continually failed to field punts. "[D]espite being the NFL's all-time return leader in yards and touchdowns, it was clear his skill set had diminished at age 34," wrote CSNMidAtlantic.com's Clifton Brown. "[The bad game in New England] was a microcosm of his entire season."

3) The jury is still out on whether the promotion of Campanaro will solve the returner problems.

If the Ravens indeed hand the return duties over to Campanaro, as many are anticipating, his transition bears watching. Campanaro was waived with an injury designation (calf) before the season and was re-signed in November to the practice squad. Though he's been practicing with the team for weeks, he will almost certainly be rusty in game action and he doesn't have very much experience to begin with. "Campanaro has just three kickoff returns and five punt returns in his brief NFL career, hardly making him a sure bet to pump life into the position," wrote WNST's Luke Jones.

4) Is this a sign that the secondary's health is in positive shape?

In addition to cutting Hester, the Ravens moved running back Lorenzo Taliaferro to injured reserve and signed linebacker Lamar Louis to the active roster. The fact that the Ravens didn't announce any roster moves for the secondary Tuesday made some people think that the position could be healthy after cornerbacks Jimmy Smith (ankle) and Jerraud Powers (concussion) left Monday's game.

No so fast.

The Ravens could have easily announced the promotion of Campanaro to the open roster spot, but the delay may mean the team is cooking up more moves. "[Activating Campanaro] could be one of a few roster moves for the Ravens, who are now thin at cornerback," wrote The Baltimore Sun's Jeff Zrebiec. 

5) More value has been added to the offense.

Another positive point about the release of Hester is that somebody like Campanaro can add value to more than one phase of the game.

Ray Lewis Visits Trump Tower

Ravens legendary linebacker Ray Lewis met with President-elect Donald Trump Tuesday.

The future Hall of Famer joined fellow NFL great Jim Brown and Cleveland pastor Darrell Scott at Trump Tower to discuss urban development and the Amer-I-Can program, founded by Brown, which helps young people caught up in gangs.

"Urban development and job creation are everything," Lewis told reporters after the meeting in the video below. "What we believe with the Trump administration is if we can combine these two powers of coming together -- forget black or white. Black or white is irrelevant. The bottom line is job creation and economic development in these urban areas to change the whole scheme of what our kids see."

Ray Lewis and Jim Brown meet with President-elect Donald Trump at Trump Tower: "We're not here because of politics" https://t.co/kENBlJmiL3 — CNN Politics (@CNNPolitics) December 13, 2016

Early Look At Ravens' 2017 Schedule

With Tuesday's announcement that the Ravens will play the Jacksonville Jaguars in London next season, we were reminded that all but two of Baltimore's opponents for 2017 have been determined.

Hensley noted the seven home and away games up to this point:

Home: Pittsburgh, Cleveland, Cincinnati, Houston, Indianapolis, Chicago, Detroit and the AFC East team that finishes with same division standing as Baltimore (currently Miami)

Away: Pittsburgh, Cleveland, Cincinnati, Jacksonville, Tennessee, Green Bay, Minnesota and the AFC West team that finishes with same division standing as Baltimore (currently Oakland)

Another matter to consider is the Ravens' bye week. Traditionally, teams get their byes after playing in London considering the travel and time change, but the Ravens may not want their bye so early in the season in Week 4 or 5. Apparently, it's not a requirement.

"[T]he Ravens might decide against taking the usual bye following the long trip," wrote Hensley. "The Colts were the first team to do so this season."

Four Ravens Make PFF's Picks For Pro Bowl

Fan Pro Bowl voting has officially closed.

Now, the league must compile votes from players and coaches from around the league and we'll get official word on who made the roster on Dec. 20.

Until then, Pro Football Focus proposed its list of 43 players from each conference that should be invited to Orlando, Fla. The website chose four Ravens for the honor, leaving off potential candidates including defensive tackle Brandon Williams and Terrell Suggs.

Here's who they did pick:

Fullback: Kyle Juszczyk
"The fullback position isn't quite dead in today's NFL, and no team uses an FB more often than the Ravens with Juszczyk, who has made solid contributions as both a blocker and receiver."

Guard: Marshal Yanda (along with Kelechi Osemele and David DeCastro)
"Oakland's big investment on the offensive line has paid off, with Osemele dominating in his first year with the Raiders. He has yet to allow a sack and has crushed people in the run game. Marshal Yanda has been excellent but for missed time, and David DeCastro narrowly edges Cincinnati's Kevin Zeitler for the last spot."

Strong safety: Eric Weddle
"Eric Weddle has been the best safety in the game once again this season, this time for a new team in Baltimore after his offseason move from San Diego. He has strong grades in every facet of the game PFF grades."

Kicker: Justin Tucker
"Justin Tucker is the best kicker in the game and a reliable source of points for the Ravens."

Awards And Grades For 2016 Rookie Class

The Ravens 2016 draft class continues to get high praise.

You can vote on a grade to give the group, but Hensley gives it a B-plus grade because it "is making an immediate impact and is a big reason why the Ravens are in the thick of the playoff race."

The 11-man class has provided three starters (left tackle Ronnie Stanley, cornerback Tavon Young and guard Alex Lewis) and three solid contributing backups (running back Kenneth Dixon, linebacker Matt Judon and wide receiver Chris Moore).

Below are five awards Hensley gave the group.

Best rookie: CB Tavon Young
Most improved rookie: LT Ronnie Stanley
Most disappointing rookie: LB Kamalei Correa
The jury is still out: DE Bronson Kaufusi and WR-PR Keenan Reynolds
Undrafted rookie check in: DT Michael Pierce     

Quick Hits

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