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Several other owners echoed Kraft’s concerns that the president found a way to endanger the sport’s popularity with a divisive, politically charged issue. This could kill football and end our business, an owner said.
The session was off to an ugly start. A few owners believed the players were delivering union talking points. Players saw something more monumental: The owners found themselves in a position of weakness; their worry about the impact on their business had become a crisis, and they needed the players to help them. For the first time, the owners are afraid of the players, Smith later said. It has less to do with money and it has more to do with control. The owners are used to being in control — and they aren’t on this. They know it. They hate it.
I think our confidence level can be higher, Flacco said. The way we’ve played the past couple of weeks can definitely creep in and hurt that. We got to do the best we can that we believe in who we are as players and who we are as a football team, so we can go out there and play free. Once Sunday comes around, the team that usually wins is the team that can go out there and let it loose and we have to do a better job of doing that.
The Ravens have also been shut out in the first half the past two weeks, so there is a sense of urgency to start the game more effectively against the Raiders. They will face a big challenge trying to contain Oakland defensive ends Khalil Mack and Mario Edwards Jr., who have combined for seven sacks.
Defensively, the Ravens have allowed 339 yards on the ground in the past two games with nose tackle Brandon Williams out of the lineup with a foot injury. Williams was still unable to practice this week.
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His absence could create an opportunity for Lynch to finally have a big game. He is ranked 33rd in the NFL with 151 yards on 45 carries with a touchdown.