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OWINGS MILLS, Md. — Camp Flacco is back after popular demand.

At the start of the Baltimore Ravens’ offseason workout program, quarterback Joe Flacco said he plans to hold extra throwing sessions with new receivers Michael Crabtree and John Brown this summer between the end of minicamp and the start of training camp.

This comes after coach John Harbaugh and general manager Ozzie Newsome both publicly talked about the value of additional workouts and how they help a quarterback and his receivers mesh. Ravens fans have also been clamoring for Flacco to throw to his receivers beyond the team’s practices.
Joe Flacco said he’s looking forward to his workouts this summer with new receivers John Brown and Michael Crabtree. “I think when you can get that relationship going, that’s going to help your football team out a ton,” Flacco said. Rob Carr/Getty Images
“There’s no doubt, that stuff is important and that we’ll do it,” Flacco said Tuesday. “I’ve already talked about it with John and Mike about it. I think sometimes those things are just as much or more about developing a relationship with those guys and developing that trust, and for those guys to see that I really like who they are as football players and for them to see 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.”

Flacco has only scheduled these private workouts once in his 10-year NFL career, and that was seven years ago during the NFL lockout.

There has been an increased need for the extra throwing sessions after Baltimore revamped its supporting cast around Flacco. To improve the NFL’s 29th-ranked passing game, Baltimore parted ways with its top two wide receivers (Mike Wallace and Jeremy Maclin) as well as its leading pass-catcher (tight end Benjamin Watson). There’s only one player currently on the roster who caught more than 30 passes last season, and that’s running back Buck Allen.

Flacco’s top targets this season will likely end up being Crabtree, Brown, another veteran free agent, and highly drafted rookies at wide receiver and tight end.
Some quarterbacks have already worked with their receivers this offseason. New York Giants quarterback Eli Manning annually meets with teammates at Duke in early April, and new Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes II has been throwing to receivers at a high school.

Flacco doesn’t feel there’s much value in scheduling workouts before the team’s offseason program begins.

“I think when it’s important to get with guys and really throw is after you’ve spent a little time with your coaches,” Flacco said. “We all understand what the common goal is, and then when you’re ramping up toward those five weeks toward the season, that’s when it becomes important.”

Crabtree, who has caught passes from Colin Kaepernick and Derek Carr, knows the importance of building chemistry with the starting quarterback.

“I think you need to have that relationship to have that accountability on the field,” Crabtree said. “If we’re talking in the locker room and then come game time you’re going to expect me to do what we talked about.”

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BOSTON — Thirteen innings on the road. Twelve at home. Last year, this year — it doesn’t matter how long it takes for the Boston Red Sox.

They just keep winning in extra innings.

Hanley Ramirez blooped a bases-loaded fly ball over the drawn-in outfield in right to break a 12th-inning tie and the Red Sox, who rallied from a two-run deficit in the ninth, beat the Tampa Bay Rays 3-2 on Thursday for their sixth straight victory.

It was the ninth straight Red Sox win in an extra-inning game, dating to 2017, when they were 15-3 in extras. They beat the Miami Marlins in 13 innings on Tuesday night before returning home for the Fenway opener.

“It seems like it’s not a good game unless we play extra innings,” said Mookie Betts, whose single was the first of four hits in the ninth after Boston had just three in the first eight innings.

Tampa Bay beat Boston in the season opener last week.

The Rays haven’t won — and the Red Sox haven’t lost — since. The teams have met five times already this season, with all four Boston victories by one run.

“We’ve played fairly even by run-scoring, I guess,” Rays manager Kevin Cash said. “But unfortunately they’ve got us four times and we only got them once.”

Bobby Poyner (1-0) pitched two innings, striking out three for his first major league win. Andrew Kittredge (0-2) took the loss, throwing a pair of scoreless innings before running into trouble in the 12th.

Jackie Bradley Jr. led off with a double, then took third on sacrifice bunt. Kittredge intentionally walked Betts and then, after he took second, walked Andrew Benintendi to load the bases. With one out and the outfield in, Ramirez looped the ball to right off Ryan Yarbrough that one-hopped the wall.

With the sun beginning to set over the third-base stands and temperatures dropping from a first-pitch reading of 40 degrees, the Red Sox were glad to be finished. They came running out of the dugout to celebrate, and Ramirez fled into the outfield with his teammates in pursuit.

One tried to douse him with a cup of water, but missed.

“It was cold,” Ramirez said. “I think it was the coldest I’ve ever played in my life.”

David Price pitched seven shutout innings for the second straight outing, but Carson Smith gave up Matt Duffy’s two-run homer in the eighth. The Rays were working on a three-hit shutout before Boston tied it off Tampa Bay closer Alex Colome.

Ramirez singled in one run, J.D. Martinez grounded into a double play and then Xander Bogaerts doubled over the outstretched glove of left fielder Mallex Smith against the Green Monster to tie it. Boston loaded the bases before Bradley hit a grounder toward second.

Opting not to step on the bag for the force out, second baseman Daniel Robertson threw to first and beat Bradley by a split-second; after a challenge by Cora — with the crowd cheering the replays on the scoreboard — the call stood.


Price allowed three hits and three walks while striking out five. Red Sox starters are 4-0 with an 0.83 ERA so far this season.

Yonny Chirinos, making his first career start as the Rays used a “bullpen day” to fill in for a depleted rotation, pitched five scoreless innings, allowing three hits and striking out four. Three relievers pitched a scoreless inning apiece, turning a three-hit shutout over to Colome.


With a cold wind blowing out to center at 18 mph, the weather threatened to be a factor early on when Martinez — in his first-ever Fenway at-bat — lofted a fly ball to center to lead off the second. Kevin Kiermaier first came in and then went back, but the ball went off his glove and rolled toward the wall.

Martinez was held up at third base — it was scored a triple — and then with nobody out he stayed there when Bogaerts dinked one to the right side of the infield for a groundout. Two more groundouts later, Chirinos was out of the inning.


The Red Sox introduced both teams on the baselines before the game in a brief ceremony that also featured a moment of silence for Hall of Famer Bobby Doerr, who was the oldest living major leaguer before he died in November. Doerr’s retired No. 1 on the right-field facade was encircled by a wreath of flowers.
Several local winter Olympians threw ceremonial first pitches, and gymnastics gold medalist Aly Raisman joined David Ortiz at the mound for the first “Play Ball!” of the season. Ortiz ripped off his Red Sox jersey to reveal a T-shirt saying “Girl Power,” and then asked Raisman to pose for a selfie with him.

Ruth Pointer, of The Pointer Sisters, sang the national anthem.


Cora said after the game that Eduardo Rodriguez will be activated on Sunday and start the series finale. The lefthander had right knee surgery in October.

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PITTSBURGH — Short of drafting an exceptionally fast linebacker who will become a franchise pillar, the Steelers were never going to truly replace Ryan Shazier, who will miss the 2018 season because of a severe spinal injury.

Without Shazier’s rangy playmaking from sideline to sideline, the Steelers are forced to modify their identity a bit. The defense is built from the inside out, with anchor defensive ends Cam Hayward and Stephon Tuitt. Their contracts, worth up to a combined $120 million, say so. But Shazier’s ability and a growing knack for creating interceptions improved the Steelers’ pass coverage and streamlined their overall defensive attack in the back seven.

It’s a rush-and-cover league, a style that suited Shazier perfectly.

Since finding that speed in free agency was not a possibility, the Steelers must adapt.
It will be hard for the Steelers to replicate what Ryan Shazier brings to the defense. Scott Winters/Icon Sportswire
The last week has provided a glimpse into the team’s plans:

Safety versatility: The signing of Morgan Burnett at three years for $14.5 million shows the Steelers are serious about improving a back end that had too many missed tackles and communication breakdowns late in the season. The team didn’t enter free agency expecting to spend big but saw a sagging safety market and smartly attacked it.

Burnett is best suited as a strong safety but can play both spots, giving the team flexibility to move Sean Davis to free safety if that’s the best route. The Burnett signing could affect J.J. Wilcox ($3.8 million cap hit), but the Steelers told Wilcox this offseason that he’d be in the mix to compete for a job.

With these three, the team can draft a safety but won’t be forced to reach for one. Burnett was forced into helping out at corner for the Packers’ depleted secondary in 2018, but he can play at slot corner in a bind or as a run-stopper.

The Steelers covet hybrid players.

“The more you can do, the longer you can stay around,” Burnett told reporters after his signing Tuesday. “I have things in my toolbox that I’m capable to move around and play different positions if need be.”

When: April 26-28
Where: Arlington, Texas
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The succession plan: After signing a two-year, $4 million deal in the second wave of free agency, inside linebacker Jon Bostic is likely a stopgap option for the Steelers in the middle of the defense. But the Steelers were woefully thin at the spot opposite Vince Williams, and Bostic’s signing represents progress. Even if he has lost a step, Bostic was a second-round pick in 2013 with a 4.61-second time in the 40. He should be able to help stop passes in the flat and in tight end coverage until a rookie linebacker is ready, which might be soon.

Cost-conscious improvement: The Steelers are seemingly always in need of more cap space, but they found a way to navigate the second wave of free agency by not overpaying based on the talent. Burnett at roughly $4.83 million per year is good business. He’s a 29-year-old who started 102 games for a contender. According to a few scouts, Burnett has plenty of game left as a crafty veteran and opportunistic tackler.

Much was made of the Steelers’ ability to replenish the defense while carrying Le’Veon Bell’s $14.5-million franchise tag. Oh no, they have no cap space! Well, they just got two starters for less than $7 million per year — likely less than that in 2018, depending on how signing bonuses and salaries are structured.
Still about the draft: The Steelers have spent their last five first-round picks on defense, and all five started significant games in their first seasons. The Steelers are unafraid to throw a young player into the mix. T.J. Watt was last year’s unquestioned starter in training camp. That’s why if an inside linebacker the Steelers like falls to late in the first round, the team will give him the chance to fill Shazier’s void in earnest.

Enough needs are filled, so the Steelers can take the best-player-available approach. But even though they say that’s their formula, all their recent top picks have filled positions of need.

The Steelers have a challenge to duplicate Shazier’s athleticism in the first round, but a playmaker somewhere in the back seven might just help put them over the top.