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Late for Work 7/11: Willie Snead Targets Former Team; Kenneth Dixon Lurking; Weddles Find Their Lost Dog

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Willie Snead IV Has Big Goals Against Former Team

New Ravens wide receiver Willie Snead IV has big-time rebound goals after a down season, including against his former team, the New Orleans Saints.

After averaging more than 70 catches for 900 receiving yards in 2015 and 2016, Snead’s production spiraled last year because of an early hamstring injury and a three-game suspension. He was never able to overcome the setbacks, and only put up eight catches for 92 yards on the season.

That’s a stat line Snead used to put up in a single game, not an entire season.

And that’s what he’d like to do again while sporting the purple and black in 2018, especially when the Ravens host the Saints for a Week 7 showdown on Oct. 21.

It’s no secret that players frequently circle games on the calendar against their former teams. Snead didn’t promise “blood and guts” like Steve Smith Sr., or demand to play for a division foe like Dez Bryant. But, of course, Snead wants to prove to the Saints that they made a mistake when they placed a low-round restricted free-agent tender on him and ultimately let him go.

The low tender opened the door for the Ravens to extend a reported two-year, $7 million offer that New Orleans declined to match. Snead likely wants the Saints to regret that decision with his play this season.

As for whether Snead can return to the production level he enjoyed earlier in his career, all we have to go on is what we saw Snead do in offseason practices, and all signs are pointing up. Snead is an early candidate to lead all Ravens in receptions this year, as he and quarterback Joe Flacco frequently connected with Snead running routes out of the slot.

If the four-year veteran can stay healthy, Snead could be a major weapon in the offense.

“It’s like a breath of fresh air. Sometimes I wake up in the morning and I’m like, ‘I can’t believe I’m in Baltimore,’” Snead said in May. “I have so much respect for this organization and just the opportunity to be here and possibly be an impact player, it’s a dream come true. I just think I needed a fresh start. New Orleans was great to me. They gave me the opportunity to be here right now. I’ll be always be grateful for that and what they did for me.

“But right now, every person that I met in this building has made me feel at home and made me feel that they’re happy that I’m here. That’s a huge feeling, a great feeling.”

Alex Collins Is the No. 1 Back, But Kenneth Dixon Is Lurking

There’s no question that Alex Collins will start the season as the leader in the Ravens’ offensive backfield after he surprised the NFL world last year.

That said, the Ravens love competition at every position, and there’s a young, hungry back lurking just behind Collins.

“With Terrance West departing for the New Orleans Saints and Danny Woodhead retiring, Collins … no longer has to worry as much about sharing carries,” The Baltimore Sun’s Edward Lee wrote in his running back preview. “He enters camp as the favorite to open the regular season as the No. 1 running back.

“But if Dixon can prove that the health of his knee is not a problem, the 2016 fourth-round draft pick could challenge Collins atop the depth chart.”

Both Collins and Dixon have shown immense playmaking ability. It’s clearly evident every time they touch the ball. The difference between them, however, is that Collins has consistently gotten it done in the regular season.

Dixon got off to a promising start as a rookie, playing in 12 games and rushing 88 times for 382 yards and two touchdowns. But he missed all of last season due to suspension and a knee injury that he sustained away from the Ravens’ training facility just before training camp began.

That opened the door for Collins’ signing and subsequent breakout season, in which he rushed for nearly 1,000 yards.

During organized team activities and minicamp, both backs looked powerful and explosive, although it took Dixon a little more time as he had to knock off the rust. Expect media and fans to keep an eye on him as he continues to work his way back.

“[Dixon] will draw much attention as he attempts to regain the form that helped him average 4.3 yards per carry and score two rushing touchdowns as a rookie in 2016,” Lee wrote.

Twitter Helps the Weddles Find Their Lost Dog

Twitter is known for being a negative place, but it showed its power for good yesterday.

Ravens Pro Bowl safety Eric Weddle and his family were taking a vacation in their home state of California when their dog got loose and they couldn’t find her. It’s not hard to imagine how upset he, his wife and four children must’ve been.

So, Weddle turned to Twitter for help, and it worked.

Well, this is just heartwarming. Look how happy those kids and Cali are in their reunion.

Will Ravens Make a Selection in Supplemental Draft?

Today’s the “big” day. It’s big for July, anyway.

The league will hold its annual supplemental draft at 1 p.m., and there are a few of intriguing prospects, including cornerbacks Sam Beal (Western Michigan) and Adonis Alexander (Virginia Tech) and safety Brandon Bryant (Mississippi State). 

It will be intriguing to see what the Ravens do in the supplemental draft on Wednesday, considering this is speculated to be one of the more talented classes in recent memory,” wrote Baltimore Beatdown’s Logan Levy.

“The Ravens do not need another cornerback, which makes it almost a certainty that they will not place a bid on Alexander or Beal. While many have linked Bryant to the Ravens, does adding another safety make sense?”

The Ravens reportedly were interested in Bryant enough to attend his workout last month, according to NFL.com’s Chase Goodbread, but that doesn’t necessarily mean much. They have to at least do their due diligence on these prospects.

It’ll be a matter of hours before we know if the Ravens were impressed enough to use one of their 2019 draft picks to select Bryant or another prospect this afternoon.

Steve Smith: Lamar Jackson Can Change an Organization Like Deshaun Watson Did

First-round quarterback Lamar Jackson has frequently been compared to four-time Pro Bowler Michael Vick, who came into the league 17 years ago, but there’s now a fresh comparison that’s also flattering.

Former Ravens wide receiver and NFL Network analyst Steve Smith Sr. sees a little of Deshaun Watson in Jackson in the way he improves his game and could change the Ravens organization.

“He’s a guy that showed us year in and year out that he is willing to hone in his craft and improve on whatever deficiencies he has, kind of like Deshaun Watson did when he was in Clemson. Every year, they said, ‘You need to be more pocket present.’ That’s what he did. ‘You need to be more accurate.’ That’s what he’s become.

“That’s who he reminds me of – a Deshaun Watson, who can change your organization once the helm is there. I think Joe will help him develop and eventually I think Lamar will be the guy. That’s just the way the game goes. That’s the way it always will.”

The difference between Watson and Jackson is that the Texans’ 2017 first-round pick made his first regular-season appearance in Week 1, and then went on to start the next six games before he suffered a season-ending knee injury in practice. Unless there’s an injury, Jackson isn’t expected to start right away.

Watson led the Texans to just three victories in those six starts, but the team putt up an impressive average of 34.6 points a game. Watson finished with 1,699 passing yards, 19 touchdowns, and eight interceptions. He also rushed for 269 yards and two touchdowns.

Smith made it clear that, unlike Watson, Jackson will be the guy “of the future” with Flacco still on the roster.

“You got a guy like that, you don’t throw him into the fray right now,” Smith said. “You take the time, you develop him, you find out what his weaknesses are, you enhance his strengths and you allow him to do what he’s done throughout his collegiate career, which is improve.”

Hayden Hurst: QBs Trust Me to Make Plays

The differences in playing styles between Flacco and Jackson would make for a long list.

First-round tight end Hayden Hurst could easily spout them off after reeling in passes from both the last few months, but he’s more excited about one similarity: they both trust him to make plays.

“It’s been awesome,” Hurst said on Sirius XM NFL Radio. “They both bring different things to the table. Joe has an extremely talented arm. He’s been doing it for years, Super Bowl MVP. And, of course, Lamar brings a whole different dynamic with his legs to the game. Both of those guys can throw it where they want it.

“They’ll put it up even when I’m not open and they trust me to go make a play. And that’s what I tell them I’m going to do: ‘If you’re ever in trouble, just put it up. I’m going to make a play for you guys.'”

Quick Hits

·       C.J. Mosley was ranked as the sixth-best middle linebacker in the league behind Luke Kuechly, Bobby Wagner, Dont’a Hightower, Deion Jones and K.J. Wright. “Mosley, the heir apparent to Ray Lewis as the Ravens’ first-round pick in 2014, has been to the Pro Bowl in each of his first four seasons, except 2015,” wrote Hub Arkush. “At 6-2, 235 pounds, Mosley is the prototypical three-down inside linebacker, capable of playing in either a 3-4 or 4-3. 2017 was one of his best seasons, with 132 tackles, one sack, two fumbles recovered and two interceptions returned 94 yards, including one TD. Mosley has missed just two games in four seasons, both in 2016.” [Pro Football Weekly]

·       Who is the AFC North’s rising star? Four ESPN writers made their picks, voting for Bengals running back Joe Mixon, Bengals defensive end Carl Lawson and Steelers wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster (twice). No Ravens were picked as candidates. [ESPN]

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