Ravens Flacco and Crabtree already off to good start

— When the Baltimore Ravens signed wide receiver Michael Crabtree, the team followed what has become a tradition over the years.

The Ravens have struggled to develop young receivers, so they’ve taken the route of getting already proven pass catchers. The trend includes past additions such as Anquan Boldin, Derek Mason, Steve Smith Sr., and most recently Jeremy Maclin. Injuries kept Maclin from having an impact last year, but the other three veterans Baltimore added yielded excellent results.

Entering his tenth NFL season, Michael Crabtree is the latest veteran to be added to the Ravens roster. He is coming off a down year but still managed to score eight touchdowns on 58 receptions for 618 yards.

Crabtree is known for his precise route running and elite pass-catching ability. Having spent a brief time with quarterback Joe Flacco, Crabtree has already made a great impression.

“He’s got a little different way that he runs the routes. He’s really crafty with it. He knows when to break away from guys and how to get open,” Flacco said after OTAs last week.

Flacco has a big arm, which is good for delivering the ball down the field. Having played with quarterbacks Colin Kaepernick in San Francisco and Derek Carr in Oakland, throwing power is something that he is used to from his signal callers.

However, Crabtree thinks what Flacco brings to the table is different from what he has experienced before.

“That deep ball, I haven’t seen anything like that in the air,” Crabtree said after his first OTA practice. “That spin is just nice. Being able to catch the ball from Flacco— it’s just amazing. That’s a good quarterback, man.”

Crabtree describes his time with the Ravens as similar to the first day at a new school. He is enjoying the hard work that he has experienced since joining the team.

In his mind, his job is to do whatever it takes to help the quarterback. He plans to run, as many routes with Flacco so the two can get more familiar with each other. Crabtree wants to develop a relationship with Flacco in the locker room as well.

“You need to have that relationship to have accountability on the field. If we are talking in the locker room and we’re talking about this and talking about that when game time comes, he’s going to expect me to do what we talked about,” Crabtree said.

Flacco echoed Crabtree’s suggestion of developing a close relationship to help with their chemistry. To do so, they will take it a step further by working out together on their own with the other receivers before training camp.

“There’s no doubt that stuff is important and we’ll do it. I’ve already talked about it with John and Mike. I think sometimes those things are just as much, or more, about developing a relationship with those guys and developing that trust,” Flacco explained. “For those to see that I really like who they are as football players and for them to see that, hopefully, they like who I am as a football player. I think when you can get that relationship going, that’s going to help your football team out a ton.”

If Crabtree can develop into a trusted target for Flacco, big numbers should be in the future, and together they will strive to elevate the Ravens offense in 2018.

Tax relief may be available for property owners impacted by recent heavy rain and flood damage

— The Maryland State Department of Assessments and Taxation (SDAT) is encouraging residents whose real property has been damaged by the recent severe weather to contact the Department, as they may qualify to have their property assessments reduced.

Maryland residents can fill out an application form and email it to their local SDAT assessment office. A list of all SDAT offices with contact information can be found on SDAT’s website: http://www.dat.state.md.us/realproperty/pages/maryland-assessment-offices.aspx.

Multiple locations across Maryland such as Baltimore City, Baltimore County, and Annapolis have been impacted by flooding and power outages, but Ellicott City in Howard County was particularly devastated. If you are a resident or business owner in Ellicott City, contact the Howard County Assessment Office by calling 410-480-7960 or email: sdat.how@maryland.gov.

Governor Larry Hogan has declared a statewide State of Emergency on Sunday, May 27, 2018, in response to the major flooding in order to provide Maryland residents with vital assistance and resources throughout the duration of this hazardous situation. SDAT offices have been in contact with county governments and other local organizations to offer any assistance and coordination necessary. In the coming weeks, SDAT’s assessors will be logging affected properties and will begin visiting areas impacted by the severe weather in order to locate and identify damaged property.

When a decrease in value is confirmed by an assessor— either from an exterior inspection or from a resident submitting the attached application— the new real property assessment will be sent to the County Finance Office and a new tax bill may be issued. If a property owner has already paid their tax bill, a prorated abatement will be issued. If the extent of damage is not clear from an exterior inspection, the attached application will be delivered to the property owner for them to complete and send back.

Baltimore boxer seeking championship while helping his community

— Malik Titus has his heart set on becoming an Olympian but the 20-year-old Baltimore boxer has more to offer than just being a champion inside the ring.

“I want to help out and give back to the community,” said Titus, who is coached by Charm City’s famed boxing trainer Mack Allison.

Malik Titus during a practice session in the ring.

Courtesy Photo

Malik Titus during a practice session in the ring.

While Titus is currently seeking to win the 2018 National Golden Globes in Omaha Nebraska, he says giving back to city children is why he has choosen to major in exercise science at the Community College of Baltimore County in Catonsville.

It’s also why Titus serves as a youth ambassador at Bro Code, a grass roots, community-based nonprofit that’s dedicated to the social and emotional education of young people.

“That’s what I want to do. Give back,” Titus said. “Bro Code gives young people access to opportunities that will help them have a successful future. They assist them with their everyday challenges and they have prevention and intervention help through various programs.”

Titus recalled a period in his development when other youths picked on him because of his weight.

“I was overweight, obese, and people made fun of me,” he said. “My pants were tight and things like that, and I really didn’t have any confidence, and I was not coordinated.”

Now, a svelte and rather imposing 6 feet 5-inch, 235-pound heavyweight boxer, Titus still carries those former taunts into the ring. He says it helps to keep him motivated.

“I always remember where I came from, and sure I think about that, and it helps me to continue,” Titus said.

First introduced to boxing at the age of three by his father, Kenneth Titus and his grandfather, William Titus. The younger Titus began training with Allison when he was 11.

He says the Allison family has had a major effect on his fledging professional career, one that he hopes will lead him to the Olympics and culminate into a world championship.

Titus has already tasted success. A six-time Washington, D.C. Golden Gloves State Champion and a four-time Washington Regional Champion, Titus placed second at the National Golden Gloves Championships in 2012 and 2013. He also earned a Bronze medal at the 2013 Junior Olympic Championships.

As optimistic as Titus is, he says he is also realistic.

“I know that boxing isn’t going to be forever, but I still want to be involved with the sport. I want to get a degree in sports management and become a boxing promoter. I’d like to own a sports franchise,” he said.

Titus also wants to continue being an integral part of his Baltimore community.

“One of the things my coach has taught me and my teammates is that it’s important to invest in Baltimore,” Titus said. “It’s not just about boxing. Boxing is an outlet for me, and has been growing up. It’s helped me to travel to places like Las Vegas, Florida and Nebraska.”

“But, no matter where my career takes me, my goal is to start my own nonprofit so that I can continue to help the children of Baltimore, and to ensure that inner city kids get a broader view of the world,” he said.