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NFL AM: Ravens Cornerback Tray Walker Dies After Dirtbike Accident

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The Baltimore Ravens and the NFL are mourning the loss of one of their own on Saturday.

Ravens cornerback Tray Walker, who had just completed his rookie season in the league, died on Friday one day after being injured in a dirtbike accident in. Walker was just 23 years old.

“Tray was a young man with a good and kind heart,” Ravens coach John Harbaugh said in a statement. “He was humble and loved everything about being part of the Ravens’ team. He loved his teammates, the practice and the preparation, and that showed every day. He was coachable, did his most to improve and worked to become the best. I’ll never forget that smile. He always seemed to be next to me during the national anthem; then we would give each other a big hug. May he rest in the Peace of Christ Jesus forever.”

Walker was driving a Honda dirtbike down 75th street in Liberty City, Florida at around 8 p.m. on Thursday night when he collided head on with a Ford Escape going in the opposite direction. According to the police who responded to a call on the accident, Walker’s dirtbike did not have headlights and he was wearing dark clothing, making it difficult for the driver of the other vehicle to see him. They also said Walker was not wearing a helmet.

He was taken to Ryder Trauma Center in Miami’s Jackson Memorial Hospital where doctors spent the late night hours on Thursday and the early morning hours on Friday doing all they could to save him.

“There was a lot of head trauma,” Walker’s agent Ron Butler told the Miami Herald. “The doctors tried to get the swelling down but I guess his brain went too long without oxygen.”

Walker was drafted by Baltimore in the fourth round of the 2015 NFL Draft, No. 136 overall, out of Texas Southern University. He attended Texas Southern after graduating from Northwestern High in Miami. He was a four-year player at TSU, and a second-team All-Southwestern Athletic Conference selection in his senior season. The Ravens saw great promise in him.

“He was able to make it out of Miami and go to Texas Southern and get a four-year college degree,” he said. “He graduated, got drafted last year by the Baltimore Ravens. He was positioning himself to really do some great things for the team. He really loved his teammates, his organization.”

Baltimore made Walker active for eight games last season, playing mostly on special teams, and also played eight snaps on defense as a rookie. But teammates said the impact he had on them was far more profound.

This is very hard to wrap my head around, and I am devastated,” Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco said. “As a parent, I cannot imagine what his family is going through right now. All of my thoughts are with them. My hope is that we can be a little bit of help by being a second family for them.”

“Times like this make you hug your kids tighter. A mother lost her son today, and a family lost their brother, including us, his extended family,” wide receiver Steve Smith said. “Tray had a bright future ahead of him outside of football and was a guy who lit up the room with his personality. I will miss seeing him every day and seeing that bright smile he always wore. I pray that his family can find peace. Rest well, Tray.”

ALFRED MORRIS TO VISIT DALLAS

The Dallas Cowboys have spent the last few weeks attempting to upgrade their running game, and after falling short on a few targets, they’re looking within their own division for help.

Former Washington Redskins running back Alfred Morris will visit Dallas on Monday, where the Cowboys will look to strike a deal to add Morris to their backfield mix.

The 27-year-old Morris spent four seasons in Washington, where he was a two-time Pro Bowl selection. As a rookie back in 2012, the sixth round pick out of Florida Atlantic burst onto the scene rushing for 1,613 yards and 13 touchdowns, which ranked second and third in the league respectively. His play was a catalyst toward getting the Redskins back to the postseason

He followed that up with a strong second season in 2013, running for 1,275 yards and averaging 4.6 yards per carry, down just a tick from the 4.8 he averaged the year prior. Those numbers continued to fall over the last two seasons. Last year, while splitting backfield duties in Washington with rookie Matt Jones, Morris had 202 carries and rushed for 751 yards, a 3.7 yards per carry average, with just one touchdown.

He did rush for 100 yards on 19 carries in the final game of the regular season, a Redskins win at Dallas, showing the Cowboys that he still had something left in the tank. In Washington’s playoff loss to the Green Bay Packers, he carried 11 times for 50 yards.

Despite his resume, Dallas is one of the only teams to show interest in Morris. The Redskins reportedly had little interest in retaining him and he has yet to make any other visits. Such is the life of a veteran NFL running back in 2016. The Cowboys are one of few teams to show any interest in veteran backs over the last two offseasons. Last year they signed Darren McFadden as a free agent and watched him run for nearly 1,100 yards for just the second time in his career at age 28.

This offseason, the Cowboys have reportedly been in contact with former Dolphins running back Lamar Miller, who eventually signed with the Houston Texans, and former Bears running back Matt Forte, who landed with the New York Jets. They also showed interest in a reunion with their own former running back DeMarco Murray when he was seeking a trade out of Philadelphia, but the Eagles ultimately worked out a deal with the Tennessee Titans instead.

Dallas recently re-signed running back Lance Dunbar, who has shown promise as a scat back and pass catcher out of the backfield, but has struggled to stay healthy. Adding a veteran like Morris as well, especially on what is likely to be a short-term, low-risk deal, can’t hurt. If he does sign, it will be interesting to see how the fit works out, considering the Cowboys run an outside zone blocking scheme, implemented by coach Bill Callahan, who departed Dallas last year and brought the scheme to Washington, where Morris had his worst season as a pro so far.

But the Cowboys’ belief seems to be that most any back can have success behind their vaunted offensive line and McFadden’s 2015 season lends credence to that.

JOE HADEN HAS ANKLE SURGERY

The Cleveland Browns are having a no-good, very bad offseason and it got a little bit worse this week with the news that cornerback Joe Haden had to undergo ankle surgery and could miss not only the start of training camp but the start of the regular season as well.

The two-time Pro Bowler played in just five games last season due to myriad ailments, including the ankle injury, which was suffered in a Week 8 game vs. the Arizona Cardinals. That was the last game Haden played in 2015. He was placed on IR a month later due to a concussion also suffered in that game against Arizona. He also dealt with rib and finger ailments last season, but the ankle and concussion combined to take him out for the season. He cleared concussion protocol in January, but the ankle injury lingered and required a long-term solution.

The surgery was performed by Dr. Robert Anderson in Charlotte and the Browns said in a statement that they anticipate Haden being good to go for the 2016 season, though their wording that “he is expected to resume football activities during training camp and should be ready for the start of the 2016 regular season,” left some wiggle room and no guarantees.

Being without Haden for any length of time would be a devastating loss for the Browns, who have already seen safety Tashaun Gipson defect from their secondary to sign with the Jacksonville Jaguars. Last year, Cleveland leaned on Tramon Williams, Pierre Desir and Justin Gilbert at cornerback in Haden’s absence last season and ranked in the bottom third of the league against the pass last season. They did bring in Rahim Moore to replace Gipson and pair with Donte Whitner, but the safety was benched by the Texans last year, so there’s no guarantee he can fill those shoes.

Even if Haden does make it back, it’s hard not to question how effective he might be on a surgically repaired ankle. The 2010 first round pick has been one of the best in the league when healthy, but foot and leg problems are especially concerning for cornerbacks. Haden will be 27 years old when the season begins and he’ll have to work hard to get back to from to make sure his best days aren’t already behind him.

The uncertainty surrounding Haden is just the latest setback for a Browns team that appears to be headed in the wrong direction after a 5-11 season in 2015. This offseason alone, Cleveland has seen the safety Gipson, center Alex Mack, tackle Mitchell Schwartz and wide receiver Travis Benjamin leave for greener pastures. They have also released quarterback Johnny Manziel, linebacker Karlos Dansby and wide receiver Dwayne Bowe.

The release of Manziel is one of the rare good moves they’ve made. Adding Moore as well as tackle Alvin Bailey to replace Schwartz could also qualify for that list, but it remains a short one. The Browns still have as many holes to fill as any team in the league and have been one of its least active teams in free agency. Still new coach Hue Jackson is preaching positivity.

At University of California Pro Day, where the Browns were investigating the man who may be their next quarterback, Cal’s Jared Goff, Jackson spoke to reporters about the direction of the Browns.

“I know there’s been a lot of things going on within our organization. I’m very proud of the direction and the things that we’re doing. You know, there’s a process and a plan to everything you do and sometimes people don’t understand, but I’m OK with that because I know exactly where we’re headed and what we’re trying to do and what we’re trying to accomplish. I can’t wait until everybody jumps on the bandwagon when things are going good. I know some things will take time, but I’m not built that way to where I’m comfortable with ever losing. And I don’t think anybody in our organization is.”

The Browns might not be comfortable losing, but they’ve gotten used to the feeling, and there is little reason to believe they should get used to or expect anything else anytime soon.


About Devon Jeffreys

Devon Jeffreys