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The Ravens’ running game is sputtering. Here’s where it can improve. | ANALYSIS

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Ravens Q&Amp;A: Olb Daelin Hayes On Learning From A Frustrating Rookie Season, Reuniting With Kyle Hamilton, The Importance Of Community Service And More
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At the end of one of the longest drives in franchise history, not much separated the Ravens on Sunday from an opening-possession touchdown — just 2 yards on first down, then 1 yard on second down, then again on third down, then again on fourth down.

Over the past three years, through injuries and illness, through good weather and bad, short-yardage success had become almost a birthright for the offense. In Lamar Jackson, the Ravens had perhaps the NFL’s greatest-ever running quarterback. In offensive coordinator Greg Roman, they had a creative run-game designer. And in the trenches, they’d assembled blockers capable of leveraging both.

But reputation didn’t get the Ravens anywhere against the Miami Dolphins. Their goal-line goose egg — four runs, 1 yard, one fumble, no points — underscored just how far this rushing offense is from its preseason expectations. Through two weeks, the Ravens are 13th in the NFL in yards per carry (4.7) and 18th in rushing offense (109.0 yards per game). Maybe most alarmingly, they rank last in Football Outsiders’ efficiency metrics, after never finishing a season lower than 11th from 2019 to 2021.

Their struggles to punctuate their 18-play, nearly-11-minute drive late in the first quarter and early in the second quarter showed not only how fragile success was, but also how close the Ravens were to it in their 42-38 loss.

On first-and-goal from the 2, Dolphins defensive end Emmanuel Ogbah shoved tight end Mark Andrews aside, and rookie tight end Isaiah Likely, who’d lined up in the backfield, couldn’t blow a path through to the goal line for running back Mike Davis.

On second-and-goal from the 1, former Ravens defensive lineman Zach Sieler swam over left tackle Patrick Mekari’s lunging block and took out Davis’ legs as he approached the line of scrimmage.

On third-and-goal from the 1, Miami defensive tackle Raekwon Davis freed himself just enough from right tackle Morgan Moses to wrap a hand around Jackson, while inside linebacker Sam Eguavoen triggered fast enough to down Jackson short of the goal line.

And on fourth-and-goal from the 1, Jackson said center Tyler Linderbaum “got cut” as he delivered his under-center exchange. The snap wasn’t “comfortable,” said Jackson, who fumbled the ball and watched the Ravens’ drive end there.

“You watch our film, you’re like, ‘Oh, we could’ve done this, we could’ve done that,’” guard Kevin Zeitler said Wednesday. “It’s up to us, whoever that person is, we’ve got to get that job, whether it’s an extra second of blocking, match your hinge [block], whatever we have to do. We’re getting close.”

After a season-opening win over the New York Jets, offensive coordinator Greg Roman said the rushing attack’s execution was lacking in “one thing here, one thing there.” As the Ravens look to regroup ahead of Sunday’s road game against the New England Patriots, here are the areas where they can improve.

Running back production

When the Ravens lost Gus Edwards last year to a season-ending knee injury, they lost one of the NFL’s best between-the-tackles ball carriers, someone who could reliably turn a 2-yard loss into a 1-yard carry or a 3-yard gain into a 5-yard gain.

When the Ravens lost J.K. Dobbins last year to his own season-ending knee injury, they lost a shifty runner who could threaten defenses with his lateral movement as much as his acceleration up the gut.

With both running backs still on the mend — Dobbins has yet to make his season debut, and Edwards hasn’t been cleared to practice — the Ravens have looked for answers elsewhere at the position. But production hasn’t come easily.

Running back Kenyan Drake, signed just before the season, has 17 carries for 39 yards. Fourth-year veteran Justice Hill has five carries for 20 yards. Davis has seven carries for 15 yards. Together, they’ve amassed 74 yards on 29 runs (2.6 per attempt). Jackson has 15 carries for 136 yards, much of them coming on his 79-yard touchdown Sunday.

“I think we’re close,” Davis said Wednesday. “It’s just something we’ve just got to keep working on. It’ll come.”

The challenge has been turning nothing into something, or turning something small into something significant. According to Pro Football Reference, no running back has broken a tackle yet this season. Hill leads the group in average yards after contact, at just 1 yard per carry.

On Hill’s 13-yard carry toward the end of the first half Sunday, during a no-huddle drive, he ran toward the sideline, where he had some blocking help, rather than taking his chances and bursting into the open field on a shotgun handoff.

“We’ve got to get our running game going, and I think the running backs are a big part of that,” coach John Harbaugh said Monday. “Running backs have a lot to do with how good your run game is, and we need those guys to help make our run game better.”

Offensive line execution

Ravens running backs need more holes to hit, too.

According to Pro Fooball Focus, Zeitler ranks as the NFL’s No. 20 run-blocking guard through two weeks, while Ben Powers ranks among the worst.

At tackle, Mekari and Moses, whose run-blocking ability was heralded upon his signing this offseason, have graded out as among the NFL’s least effective run blockers, according to PFF.

At center, Linderbaum has fared well as a run blocker, rated 11th overall by PFF, though he’s struggled somewhat in pass protection.

Evaluations of offensive line play can vary wildly, especially early in the season. According to ESPN’s player-tracking data, Powers has the ninth-best run block win rate among NFL guards, while the Ravens rank seventh overall in the team-wide metric, which measures how often a defender “wins” his repetition by either beating his blocker, disrupting the pocket or running lane, containing the runner or recording a tackle close to the line of scrimmage.

“We’ve got to be creative,” Harbaugh said Monday. “We’ve got to find a way to block people, because we missed a couple blocks; we’ve got to find a way not to necessarily run into the teeth of the defense. Sometimes you can. Many times, we’ve run the ball right downhill into the teeth of a goal-line defense and scored and your back puts it in there. But we didn’t do that in this game.”

Season-long variance

Sometimes the Ravens have blocked well enough to spring a long run, only to watch the ball go elsewhere.

In the fourth quarter Sunday, Drake took an outside-zone handoff in the pistol formation, spotted a cutback lane and tried his luck inside. He was swallowed up for a 1-yard loss. As Dolphins players encircled Drake, fullback Patrick Ricard, his main escort on the play, raised his hands as if surprised to see Drake hadn’t followed him outside, where other blockers were pulling into open space.

The Ravens’ rushing struggles caught up to them late in Sunday’s loss, when a failed fourth-and-1 conversion midway through the fourth quarter helped give the Dolphins good field position. Five plays later, Miami was celebrating another touchdown, this one having trimmed the Ravens’ lead to 35-28.

The push-and-pull on offense will carry on throughout the season. If Jackson’s passing continues to trouble defenses, he could open up more space for the Ravens’ running game. Harbaugh said both the Jets and Dolphins committed numbers to stopping the team’s rushing offense. Other coordinators might not be as willing to take their chances with Jackson dropping back.

If they do, the Ravens’ preference for heavier formations could lay the groundwork for more explosive plays. By lining up with multiple tight ends and fullbacks, the Ravens invite defenses to match up with linebackers, rather than defensive backs. And what those defensive fronts might gain in size, they’ll likely lose in speed. When Jackson burst through Sunday, there was no one to catch him.

“These guys [on defense] put a lot of bodies close to the line of scrimmage,” Harbaugh said. “It helps us get a couple really big runs, especially the touchdown run [against Miami]. So once you get through that second line of defense — maybe it’s two-level, but it’s not three-level — a guy like Lamar or any back can go the whole way. So that’s part of it. But we’ve got to do a better job in critical situations.”

Week 3

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Sunday, 1 p.m.

TV: Ch. 45

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Line: Ravens by 2 1/2


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Vikings bring back linebacker Ryan Connelly on practice squad

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Vikings Bring Back Linebacker Ryan Connelly On Practice Squad
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It was an eventful week for Ryan Connelly.

The Vikings on Thursday signed the linebacker to the practice squad. That came after Connelly, an Eden Prairie native, was activated off the physical unable to perform list Tuesday and then waived Wednesday. He rejoined the Vikings immediately after clearing waivers.

Connelly, in his fourth NFL season, first joined the Vikings in 2020 after being waived by the New York Giants. He got into 14 games in 2020 and 12 in 2021 for Minnesota before suffering a torn ACL last December.

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Youth is served: Heat’s Nikola Jovic still awaiting his . . . high school final exam

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Youth Is Served: Heat’s Nikola Jovic Still Awaiting His . . . High School Final Exam
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Nikola Jovic had the Miami Heat locker room abuzz after Thursday night’s 109-80 exhibition victory over the Brooklyn Nets at Barclays Center, and for more than the first-round pick out of Serbia closing with 10 rebounds and five assists.

Instead, it was the reaction to what coach Erik Spoelstra had revealed moments earlier about the skilled 6-foot-10 19-year-old.

“He’s extremely unique,” Spoelstra said, before turning his attention to Friday night’s exhibition against the Memphis Grizzlies at FedExForum. “And he’s so young. To put it in perspective, he’s still waiting to do his final exam to graduate from high school, and doing that over Zoom.”

Wait? What?

That essentially was the reaction from teammates, once Spoelstra’s revelation circulated.

Backup center Dewayne Dedmon was taken aback, with the 33-year-old big man incredulous about a teammate young enough to have yet to complete high school.

Jovic: “I was supposed to finish it this summer.”

Dedmon: “Supposed to?”

Jovic: “I’m finishing.”

Dedmon: “So you not even graduated high school?”

Jovic: “I’m finishing it right now.”

Dedmon: “And you in the NBA?”

Jovic: “Yeah.”

Dedmon: “You know you can’t go from high school to the pros?”

Jovic: “You can do it from Europe.”

Dedmon: “Apparently.”

With that, head shaking, Dedmon headed for the team bus, leaving his Serbian teammate to explain.

“They were doing it when I was doing the draft workouts,” he said of his high-school finals while he was working in Miami ahead of the June draft, “so I didn’t have time, especially because of the time difference.”

There will, Jovic said, be a diploma.

“It’s not that hard,” he said of his lone remaining test. “I need to take it. I don’t have time to take it right now.”

But he has reason to make sure it is completed sooner rather than later.

“My mom,” he said, “she wants me to finish school.”

While the NBA draft rule is written with high school in mind, it actually requires a player to be at least 19 in his draft year. Jovic was born June 9, 2003.

“As soon as I get some time, I’ll do it,” he said, having been in Miami since August preparing for his inaugural NBA season after playing professionally in Europe, “as soon as I get in contact with my teachers and stuff. Like I said, the time difference.”

And there will be more.

“I”m really glad I’m finishing it now,” he said. “I’m looking forward to doing something else after this, some college or something.”

All of which made his comments about his first NBA road game all the more fascinating.

“In high school, I used to go home and watch some of those guys on TV or on YouTube,” he said, “and to play against them is different.”

As in this year in high school.

To Spoelstra, it is a whole new world with the lithe 205-pound No. 27 pick.

“We’ve had a lot of different developmental projects over the years,” he said. “He’s a little bit of a unique one. We haven’t had a European so young. But his skill set is unique. Because of his size, he’s really just starting his weight lifting program with us for the last six weeks. So we won’t even see the benefit of that until next summer.

“But his ability to handle, to shoot, to put the ball on the floor, he’s a really good passer. That’s probably, at this point, his best skill. And he’s developing all the rest of it.”


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N.D. man pleads guilty to murder charges in deliberate Minnesota crash that killed 2 teens

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N.d. Man Pleads Guilty To Murder Charges In Deliberate Minnesota Crash That Killed 2 Teens
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A Grand Forks, N.D., man pleaded guilty to two counts of third-degree murder for the deaths of two teenagers in a head-on crash that occurred last year in northeastern Minnesota.

Valentin Mendoza IV, 21, pleaded guilty to two counts of murder in the third degree — perpetrating eminently dangerous act and evincing depraved mind. He used the Norgaard plea, which is used when the defendant has no recollection of the event.

Mendoza maintained not-guilty pleas for the four other charges: two counts of second-degree murder — with intent (not premediated), and two counts of criminal vehicular homicide — operating a motor vehicle in a grossly negligent manner.

If the plea agreement is accepted by the court, Mendoza will be sentenced to 180 months for one charge and 150 months for the other. He will serve the sentences consecutively, for a total of 330 months, or 27.5 years.

According to an affidavit in the case, around 3:08 p.m. June 17, 2021, the East Grand Forks Police Department was dispatched to a two-vehicle head-on collision. The crash occurred on Highway 220, about a mile north of Polk County Road 19 in Polk County, Minn.

Mendoza was located in a red 2004 Ford Ranger pickup with severe damage on the front driver’s side; the vehicle was tipped over onto the passenger’s side. Police noted the speedometer was locked at 75 miles per hour and the posted speed limit for that location is 45 miles per hour. Mendoza was transported to Altru Hospital in Grand Forks.

The other vehicle was a white 2007 GMC Envoy, which also had severe damage to the front driver’s side. The speedometer was locked at 65 miles per hour. Two male juveniles were identified; both were unresponsive and severely injured, according to the affidavit. The two boys were removed from the vehicle and transported to Altru Hospital in Grand Forks.

At the hospital, the Minnesota State Police spoke to Mendoza’s mother, who said Mendoza was bipolar and had a history of making “suicidal comments.” According to the affidavit, Mendoza’s mother received a call from his girlfriend that day, stating Mendoza sent her a Snapchat video at 3:05 p.m. In the video, Mendoza was driving and said he was going to take his own life.

After analyzing the scene of the collision, Minnesota state trooper Adam Rochlin determined the Envoy had been traveling southbound on Highway 220 and the pickup was traveling northbound at the time of the crash. The roadway was noted as straight and flat, marked with a yellow center line, dry and clear of defects or damage.

“There were no tire or brake marks near the point of impact of the collision,” the affidavit says. The pickup crossed the center line and struck the Envoy head-on.

On June 23, 2021, one of the juveniles died from his injuries after being removed from life support. On June 29, 2021, the other juvenile died from his injuries.

Mendoza’s sentencing is scheduled to take place at 1:30 p.m. Dec. 14.

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Amy Klobuchar confirms she’ll see fourth Senate term in 2024

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Amy Klobuchar Confirms She’ll See Fourth Senate Term In 2024
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U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar, Minnesota’s senior senator, says she plans to seek a fourth term in two years.

A Klobuchar spokeswoman confirmed the Democrat’s intentions in a statement to the Star Tribune, the Minneapolis-based newspaper reported on Thursday.

“As the Senator has made clear, she loves her job serving the people of Minnesota and is planning on running for re-election,” spokeswoman Jane Meyer said in a statement, which followed a recent Politico article noting the large number of Democratic-held Senate seats on the ballot in 2024.

Klobuchar ran an unsuccessful campaign for president in 2020. With President Joe Biden planning to seek re-election in 2024, Klobuchar will back him, Meyer confirmed to the Minneapolis newspaper.

The 62-year-old senator was first elected to the Senate in 2006. A graduate of Yale University and the University of Chicago Law School, she previously served as the Hennepin County attorney.

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‘I’m coming back. Give me some time’: Ben Simmons, Nets preach patience after ugly loss to Heat

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‘I’m Coming Back. Give Me Some Time’: Ben Simmons, Nets Preach Patience After Ugly Loss To Heat
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As fans slowly filed out of the Barclays Center after the Nets’ second consecutive preseason blowout loss to an Eastern Conference playoff opponent — this time a 109-80 defeat to the Miami Heat after Monday’s 19-point thumping from the shorthanded Philadelphia 76ers — the in-arena DJ played an all-too familiar tune.

“Don’t worry. Be happy.”

It’s easy to worry after Thursday’s poor performance, a game two-time NBA Finals MVP Kevin Durant said he “didn’t like anything” about except the team leaving with no injured players. Poor defense and offensive miscues aside, Ben Simmons’ unwillingness to attack the basket underscored the Nets’ inability to take care of the basketball or generate quality offense against one of the NBA’s premier defenses.

Especially in a game both Kyrie Irving (paternity leave) and Joe Harris (sore ankle) watched from the sidelines.

Simmons, however, said there are some things he isn’t yet comfortable doing — like “getting to the rim, getting hit and hitting” other players — because he’s only a few months removed from offseason back surgery. He is confident, and so are his teammates and his head coach, about a  return to a more aggressive version of himself as he shakes off the rust associated with 480 days away from NBA basketball and works to get into a better place after getting a microdiscectomy to alleviate the pain stemming from the herniated disk he suffered after the trade to Brooklyn.

“It’s been a year,” Simmons said after posting four points, four assists and 10 rebounds to go with six turnovers on the night. “I’m coming back. Give me some time.”

Still, there were some plays that raised eyebrows more than others.

Simmons, for example, had a 10-inch height advantage on Heat guard Kyle Lowry and had the mismatch with a one-on-one on the high post. Instead of looking to power to the rim against the smaller opponent, he threw the ball back out to Durant on the perimeter.

When Durant immediately gave the ball back to Simmons — a sign for Simmons to take advantage of the mismatch and get to the rim — Simmons took one dribble towards the paint and shoveled a pass to Royce O’Neale on the opposite wing.

O’Neale, a capable marksman, missed the lightly contested three.

Then there were the back-to-back turnovers with just over two minutes to go in the first quarter.

Reserve lead guard Edmond Sumner threw an entry pass to Simmons, who posted up Heat All-Star Jimmy Butler on the baseline. Sumner then cut along the baseline behind Simmons to the rim, and Simmons floated a pass over his head under the basket.

The pass was tipped away and intercepted, leading to a Miami fast break.

On the very next possession, Simmons advanced the ball up the floor against second-year two-way signing Marcus Garrett. Markieff Morris screened Garrett at the three-point line and Simmons pushed within two feet of the foul line.

And then he flung a pass to O’Neale in the left wing. This time, Garrett was in position and made a play to get possession of the ball.

Some of Simmons’ passes were predictable because Simmons didn’t — and doesn’t — look to score often. Durant said the team “definitely” wants Simmons “to be more aggressive and look to score, especially if he’s got a small wing in the post,” and when he “has an advantage going downhill in transition.”

But he also knows how long of a layoff it’s been for Simmons and that Thursday only marked his second game back.

“I think he’s just finding his rhythm again. He hasn’t played in a long time, and to throw you back up in there with the game going fast?” Durant said. “You can play pickup all you want, but once you put someone in the game, all that stuff goes out the window.

“So, he’s getting his legs, (a) quick move here and he’s figuring it out. It’s only going to get better from here.”

Simmons admitted there needs to be more of a balance for when he looks to set his teammates up for shots versus when he looks to score on his own.

“Looking at the box score, I took three shots, which is definitely not enough,” he said. “Obviously offensively, I want to get to the post more, get some more touches down low, be more aggressive, get to the rim, get to the free throw line, which I didn’t do tonight.”

Nets head coach Steve Nash said he expects Simmons to grow in his aggression putting pressure on the rim. He also, rightfully, noted Irving and Harris’ absences put more pressure on Simmons to create by taking two floor spacers off the court.

“He’s gonna get more attempts. Right now obviously it’s a little clunky for us,” Nash said. “Ben will be fine. He’ll improve, he’s gonna get better every night, and he’s gonna be an engine for us and a big part of what we do. So I’m not really worried about him, but it is a process.

“He hasn’t played for a long time and he’s also assimilating to a new group. That takes time, it’s not gonna be perfect, and it probably won’t be any time soon. But if we can keep improving every day that’s all we ask for.”

Two preseason games isn’t full cause to be worried, but the Nets — other than glimpses of unrealized potential — haven’t given fans much to be happy about, either.

Durant finished with 22 points on 8-of-12 shooting from the floor but showed some frustration when he accidentally threw the ball away attempting to get the ball to O’Neale, kicking off a Heat fast break and putting them on the line.

Nash warned things would look ugly early as the Nets adjust to both new rotations and new schemes, and ugly described their loss to the Heat on Thursday. It’s only preseason, but the same can be said for the two other Eastern Conference contenders who have blown the cap off the Barclays Center.


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JKSSB Final Selection List-cum-Allocation of Cadres & Departments for remaining Class-IV Posts

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Jkssb Selection List
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JKSSB Final Selection List-cum-Allocation of Cadres & Departments for remaining Class-IV Posts

JKSSB Final Selection List-cum-Allocation of Cadres & Departments for remaining Class-IV Posts under the provisions of the Jammu & Kashmir Appointment to Class-IV (Special Recruitment) Rules, 2020, advertised vide Notification No. 01 of 2020 dated 26.06.2020.


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