Ravens introduce New safety Kendrick Lewis

— The Baltimore Ravens introduced their newest player Kendrick Lewis to the local media today. Lewis was a starter for the Houston Texans last year. He is expected to be a solid addition to the Ravens secondary. The team is still trying to bring former first round draft pick Matt Elam along and 2014 third round selection Terrence Brooks is recovering from an injury late in the season.

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(Baltimore Ravens)

Kendrick Lewis making a defensive play against the Dallas Cowboys.

Defensive Backs coach Chris Hewitt was very upbeat and positive when he introduced Lewis. “He’s a guy that we were looking for in free agency. I think he’s a guy that’s going to come here and solidify our defense, especially on the back end. This was a dear addition that we needed for our team, as far as leadership, especially on the back end, and we’re very proud and happy to have Kendrick be a part of our team.”

Lewis talked about how his will bring leadership and play-making ability to the Ravens. “I see my ball skills as my strength. I see my knowledge, my preparation week-in and week-out, day-in and day-out – on the opponents I’m going to face as a strength.” Lewis continued; “I like to have the edge. I like to be a step ahead, so I take my film study and my notes very serious.” The fifth year safety has nine career interceptions and five forced fumbles in 69 games. His ability to create turnovers is something that is badly needed in the Ravens secondary.

He couldn’t say whether or not the Ravens view him as a free safety but Lewis did say that he was comfortable playing center-field. He also said that he likes coming down in the box and making plays like he did last year when he led the Texans in tackles. Lewis said that he is fully recovered from his previous shoulder injury and will look to “put the hat down” on ball carriers.

The decision to join the Ravens was one that Lewis consulted with former Raven Michael Oher about. Lewis and Oher played together during their college days at the University of Mississippi. Oher had great things to say about the Ravens and the city of Baltimore. That helped make Lewis comfortable with making the decision to join the Ravens.

Both the defensive mindset and the tremendous pass rush stood out to Lewis as he fielded offers from other teams. Lewis hinted that this could be a place where he could be for more than one year unlike his tenure in Houston. “Talking with my family, talking with my friends, everybody felt like this decision fits me more. I’ve been in Kansas City; I’ve been in Houston. With my nature and the type of person I am and how Michael Oher described this place to me, I feel like it’s the best decision I’ve made. I prayed upon it, and God brought me here, so this is where I’m at.”

One of the initial tasks that Lewis will be charged with is working with fellow safety Matt Elam. Will Hill took on the mentor role for Elam as he dealt with losing his starting job last year. Lewis said that he and Elam trained together in Florida a few years ago and said that he has intentions of training with him again.

The Ravens where looking for a leader and a play-maker in the secondary. Their previous Super Bowl defenses had ball hawking play-makers at the safety position in Ed Reed and Rod Woodson. Their secondary combined for six interceptions and three forced fumbles last season. Lewis had two interceptions, one of which was returned 27 yards for a touchdown last year. He also had three forced fumbles in 2014. Lewis could be the player that fills the play-making safety role for the Ravens in 2015.

Baltimore Ravens and M&T Bank: Kick-Off Touchdown for Teachers Program

— The Baltimore Ravens have kicked off the second annual Touchdown for Teachers program, presented by M&T Bank, which recognizes local teachers for outstanding service to their schools and communities.

Five finalists will be honored for their positive impact during the Ravens Draft Party at M&T Bank Stadium. Finalists will be chosen based on the amount of involvement in their school or community, the degree of positive impact and their demonstrated commitment to education. All five finalists will receive 10 tickets to the Ravens Draft Day Party, and the grand prize winner, selected from the group of finalists, will receive the following:

· $2,000 in grant funds, payable to his/her school or district to further impact

· A classroom visit by a Ravens’ coach or player, accompanied by Ravens mascot Poe

The four remaining finalists will each receive $500 in grant funds, payable to their school or district to further their impact. Every nominated educator will receive a certificate of recognition from the Baltimore Ravens and M&T Bank.

Educators must be nominated through the application form that can be completed online at www.baltimoreravens.com/teachers and submitted no later than Friday, April 3. All finalists will be notified no later than Friday, April 17. The five finalists and eventual grand prize winner will be selected from a panel of community members and school officials, with the assistance of Baltimore Ravens and M&T Bank staff.

“It’s important to recognize the outstanding work our teachers are doing in the community,” said Augie Chiasera, President of M&T Bank’s Greater Baltimore and Chesapeake markets. “Teachers can literally turn lives around and inspire our young people to reach their potential. The Touchdown for Teachers program is way to celebrate the positive impact teachers have on students and the entire community.”

Ravens terminate contract of Chris Canty

— The Baltimore Ravens have terminated the contract of DE Chris Canty, general manager and executive vice president Ozzie Newsome announced Friday morning.

Canty, 32, spent two seasons (2013-14) with the Ravens, seeing action in 26 games (24 starts). The 10-year NFL veteran recorded 63 tackles (33 solo), 2.5 sacks, six passes defensed and three forced fumbles while playing in Baltimore.

“I had a conversation with Chris this morning and thanked him for his contributions both on and off the field,” Newsome stated. “He represents the best of what a Ravens’ player is: committed on the field and a shining leader in the community. We thank him for everything he did for us the last two seasons. I know that Chris still wants to explore playing again, and he’s preparing to do that. We certainly would not close the door to Chris coming back to us.”

This past season, Canty played in 11 games (all starts), producing 33 tackles, a half-sack, two passes defensed and one forced fumble. He added two solo tackles in Baltimore’s two playoff games, one of which he started.

“We are a better franchise for having Chris Canty with us the last two years,” head coach John Harbaugh said. “He added maturity and leadership. Chris played well and played a lot of snaps for us, especially last season. He was an outstanding contributor to our playoff season in 2014.

“When we were handling serious off-the-field issues last season, Chris stood out internally with our team and represented us externally in the only way you expect from Chris – with intelligence and in a first-class manner.”

Below is a statement from Canty:

“First thing I want to do is thank Steve Bisciotti, Ozzie and coach ‘Harbs’ for bringing me to Baltimore and allowing me to wear the purple and black,” Canty stated. “I am very proud to be a Raven. They are a great franchise, and I was privileged to be a contributor to that outstanding tradition of defense that is part of the team’s lore.

“I love the coaching staff there, including the defensive staff. Dean [Pees], my line coach Clarence Brooks, Ted [Monachino] – really, all of them. What can I say about my teammates on that side of the ball? [They are] special players and good people, like ‘Sizzle’ [Terrell Suggs] and Haloti [Ngata]. Thank you. They helped me re-discover and continue my passion for football, a game I respect and love.

“I also want to thank Ravens fans. They embraced me immediately, and I embraced them back. They were inspirational.

“I am going to continue to prepare to play again and will explore other possibilities to play the game I love.”

Ravens terminate contract of Jacoby Jones

The Baltimore Ravens have terminated the contract of WR/RS Jacoby Jones, general manager and executive vice president Ozzie Newsome announced Wednesday afternoon.

An eight-year NFL veteran, Jones spent three seasons (2012-14) with the Ravens, earning Pro Bowl honors during the team’s 2012 Super Bowl campaign. In 44 games with Baltimore, he produced a 30.1-yard career kickoff return average, a mark that ranks No. 1 in franchise history. Jones also posted four regular season KOR-TDs and one playoff KOR-TD as a Raven, three of which covered 108 yards (tied for the second-longest KOR-TDs in NFL history).

“We don’t win Super Bowl XLVII without Jacoby,” Newsome stated. “You immediately think of the touchdown against Denver in the Divisional round and then the big plays in that Super Bowl – the long touchdown from Joe [Flacco] and the [108-yard] kickoff to open the second half. He also had a big punt return in that game. Jacoby was an outstanding Raven and a good teammate on and off the field.

“We think he can still play in the NFL, and releasing him now allows him a better opportunity to land with another team.”

Jones also registered a 9.9-yard punt return average while in Baltimore, scoring once on a 63-yard scamper in 2012. In all, he posted six total kick return touchdowns while with the Ravens. Jones also caught 76 passes for 992 yards (13.1 avg.) and three touchdowns in regular season play over the past three years.

“We thank Jacoby for what he did for us,” head coach John Harbaugh stated. “You think of how many games where his returns or long catches were the difference in winning – at Pittsburgh, Dallas, the 2012 playoff run to the championships and that great Minnesota game in the snow and ice at M&T Bank Stadium come to mind immediately. He was invaluable to our success. Opponents, especially on special teams, schemed to stop him. What a compliment to him.

“Jacoby is one of my most favorite players ever to coach, an absolute joy to be around. He’s a good person with a good heart.”