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Marquise Brown participates in first full-team practice work with Ravens

Posted on 10 August 2019 by Luke Jones

OWINGS MILLS, Md. — Ravens rookie wide receiver Marquise Brown has taken another step toward establishing his “Hollywood” nickname at the next level.

The first-round pick took his first full-team reps of training camp Saturday, but the Ravens defense wasn’t ready to anoint the former Oklahoma superstar just yet. Inside linebacker Patrick Onwuasor was only willing to give Brown the first half of the moniker, but encouraging signs were there as the speedster caught five passes in roughly a dozen snaps split between 11-on-11 and seven-on-seven periods of practice. Brown took reps with Lamar Jackson and the starting offense as well as with fellow rookie Trace McSorley and the second string.

“They’re always joking around,” said Brown, who also dropped a pass thrown slightly behind him by McSorley. “They’re like, ‘You’re Holly right now. You don’t get the full name.’ I’m just trying to make some plays to earn my name.”

The Ravens have brought Brown along slowly since he made his practice debut on July 31. The 5-foot-9, 170-pound receiver had only taken part in individual position drills and did not play in the preseason opener against Jacksonville, but he was pleased to finally be competing against defenders again.

Head coach John Harbaugh was noncommittal about Brown’s status for the second exhibition game against Green Bay after the rookie sat out the final 30 minutes of the 2 1/2-hour workout. His activity level being ramped up is certainly a welcome sight for the organization that made him the first wide receiver selected in the 2019 draft and just the fourth wide receiver to be chosen in the first round in franchise history, joining Travis Taylor (2000), Mark Clayton (2005), and Breshad Perriman (2015).

Having undergone Lisfranc surgery on his left foot in January, Brown was still experiencing soreness when making certain cuts at the start of training camp. Minimizing that discomfort was considered the final hurdle for his return to the field, but the Ravens will continue to exercise caution with the start of the regular season still four weeks away.

“It seemed like he handled quite a bit,” Harbaugh said. “He was out there in quite a few drills, and we’ll see how he responds tomorrow with that. It’s a good first step. We’re all happy to see it.”

Brown told reporters his foot feels good, but he’s still regaining his confidence and pre-injury form, according to his position coach. That hasn’t stopped his speed from standing out, however.

“He looked real fast,” wide receivers coach David Culley said. “He didn’t feel fast, but I told him I didn’t see anything that would say that he’s been injured. He’s not quite where he was before, but I like where he’s at right now.”

Injury report

The Ravens returned to practice for the first time since their 29-0 victory over Jacksonville with three veteran players missing from the field.

Wide receiver Seth Roberts, running back Kenneth Dixon, and cornerback Maurice Canady didn’t practice with undisclosed ailments. Injuries severely hampered both Dixon and Canady over their first three seasons, a factor working against them in their respective battles for roster spots in deep position groups.

“Just little things. Nothing that will keep anybody out for too long,” said Harbaugh of the three injuries. “I don’t remember off the top of my head what they were. Seth just told me there that he’ll be back pretty quick — within a week or so. That’s what he said. The docs said it was maybe two or something, but nothing serious.”

Harbaugh confirmed outside linebacker Mike Onuoha sustained a broken wrist in Thursday’s game and will be out indefinitely. Linebacker Nicholas Grigsby and offensive lineman Randin Crecelius were also absent from Saturday’s practice after sitting out the preseason opener.

Quarterback Robert Griffin III continues to do light throwing with the football, but Harbaugh reiterated he won’t play in the preseason as his right thumb heals.

“He has the protective device on his thumb, so it’s just a matter of gripping the ball,” Harbaugh said. “He won’t be able to do anything until that fracture heals, which is a time frame. I think it’s three to four weeks before it even heals, and then we’ll work from there. We anticipate the first week of the season, if all goes well.”

The Ravens signed former Philadelphia and Carolina defensive tackle Elijah Qualls, who was a 2017 sixth-round pick of the Eagles. The Washington product has appeared in six career games and filled the open 90-man roster spot created by the Alex Lewis trade.

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Ravens-Jaguars preseason primer: Five players to watch

Posted on 07 August 2019 by Luke Jones

After an offseason full of change, skepticism, and excitement, we’ll get our first live-game glimpse of the 2019 Ravens in the preseason opener against Jacksonville Thursday night.

All eyes will be on quarterback Lamar Jackson as he enters his first full year as the starter, but it remains to be seen how much we’ll see of the 22-year-old who helped rally the Ravens to their first AFC North championship since 2012 last year. Head coach John Harbaugh didn’t reveal his plans regarding playing time after Tuesday’s practice, but at least a few veteran players have been held out of the first preseason game in most summers during his tenure.

“We haven’t dialed it in exactly. We have a meeting tonight on all of that where we’ll dial it in exactly,” Harbaugh said. “I have my ideas on it. I think I know, but we’ll talk about it as a staff and figure it out and get a plan together.”

There will be no shortage of familiarity with the Jaguars, who traveled to Owings Mills to practice with the Ravens for two days earlier this week. Full contact was minimal, but the Ravens offense held its own against a talented Jacksonville defense while the Baltimore defense surprisingly struggled against quarterback Nick Foles and the Jaguars offense Tuesday afternoon.

Those practice reps against another team will serve as another interesting variable in determining how much veterans ultimately play Thursday. After practicing two days with the Ravens last summer, the Los Angeles Rams didn’t play any of their starters in a preseason game at M&T Bank Stadium. In fact, Rams coach Sean McVay held most of his starters out for the entire preseason before his team ultimately advanced to the Super Bowl, which will surely provide food for thought for other NFL coaches moving forward.

“We got a lot done. They got a lot done,” said Harbaugh of the two practices with Jacksonville. “Hats off to coach [Doug] Marrone and the whole Jaguar organization. I thought they were very classy. Everything was very professional on both sides. We got our work done. We respected one another. It was good.”

Thursday marks the second time the Ravens and Jacksonville will meet in the preseason with Baltimore winning 48-17 in 2012. However, the Jaguars lead the all-time regular-season series by a 12-9 margin.

The Ravens own a 33-12 record in preseason games under Harbaugh and have won 13 exhibition contests in a row a streak extending back to the opener of the 2016 preseason.

Unofficial (and largely speculative) injury report

The Ravens are not required to release an injury report like they do for regular-season games, but I’ve offered my best guess on what one would look like if it were to be released ahead of Thursday’s game.

Most of the players ruled to be out will come as no surprise, but the status of a few will remain in question. Of course, this list does not include any veteran starters who could be held out due to the coaching staff’s preference.

Again, this is not an official injury report released by the Ravens:

OUT: QB Robert Griffin III (thumb), WR Marquise Brown (foot), OL Randin Crecelius (undisclosed)
QUESTIONABLE: G Marshal Yanda (foot/ankle)

Five players to watch Thursday night

RB Kenneth Dixon

Dixon is arguably the most fascinating player on the roster bubble. Injuries and two drug-related suspensions limited him to just 18 games over his first three seasons, but he averaged a robust 5.6 yards per carry last season and looks quicker and leaner this summer. No higher than third on the depth chart behind starter Mark Ingram and 2018 leading rusher Gus Edwards, Dixon doesn’t play special teams and is also competing with speedy rookie Justice Hill for snaps, additional factors not helping his case. No one doubts his talent, but is there enough trust to commit a spot to Dixon in the final year of his rookie deal? If not, you would think the Ravens will try to showcase him for a potential trade by summer’s end.

OLB Tim Williams

The 2017 third-round pick flashed in limited chances over his first two seasons, but nagging injuries and some questions about his dedication held Williams back when pass-rush rotation snaps were up for grabs. He has practiced more consistently this summer and is again flashing as a pass rusher, but his ability to set the edge is a significant question in his quest for extensive playing time. Williams appears to be second on the depth chart behind Pernell McPhee at rush linebacker, but he will need to prove himself in preseason games to not only force his way into a meaningful role but to lock up a roster spot. As defensive line coach Joe Cullen said this week, the clock ticking on Williams is “ready to explode.”

G Jermaine Eluemunor

After being waived last September and spending time on the practice squad, Eluemunor regained some roster footing with respectable fill-in play last season and took that momentum into the spring as he lined up as the starting left guard. However, Harbaugh has mentioned his need to get in better shape multiple times and Eluemunor failed the conditioning test at the start of training camp, leading to rookie Ben Powers taking most of the first-team reps over the first week. Eluemunor has since found his way back into the starting left guard spot, but his hold on the job is tenuous at best with Powers and James Hurst also in the mix. This is a massive opportunity Eluemunor can’t afford to squander any longer.

ILB Chris Board

Most anticipated Kenny Young stepping into the starting weak-side inside linebacker spot next to Patrick Onwuasor after four-time Pro Bowl selection C.J. Mosley’s free-agent departure in March, but it was apparent in the spring that Board — a 2018 undrafted free agent from North Dakota State who led the Ravens in special-teams tackles last year — had moved ahead of Young in the competition and he’s only strengthened his hold on the base and nickel jobs since camp opened. The Ravens like Board’s speed and have cited how much he dropped into pass coverage in college as valuable experience for his transition to the NFL, but we’re still talking about someone who played all of 14 defensive snaps as a rookie.

WR Miles Boykin

We won’t see first-round rookie wide receiver Marquise Brown Thursday since he’s only practiced on a very limited basis coming back from January foot surgery, but Boykin has looked like Baltimore’s best wide receiver at times this summer. The rookie third-round pick from Notre Dame always looked the part with a 6-foot-4, 220-pound frame and ran the 40-yard dash in 4.42 seconds at the combine, but those impressive traits have carried over to the practice field as he has made plays against the talented Baltimore secondary and has caught the ball pretty consistently. The key will be maintaining that momentum in preseason games to grow his confidence and continue building chemistry with Jackson.

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Ravens holding out veteran guard Yanda with “little ankle, foot thing”

Posted on 03 August 2019 by Luke Jones

OWINGS MILLS, Md. — In the midst of their healthiest start to training camp in recent memory, the Ravens are choosing to play it safe with one of their best players.

Seven-time Pro Bowl right guard Marshal Yanda missed his second straight practice Saturday with what head coach John Harbaugh says is a minor ailment. It was originally believed Yanda was receiving his second veteran day off of the summer Friday before James Hurst was lining up as the starting right guard for the second consecutive workout.

“Yanda is not a serious injury. He had a little ankle, foot thing,” Harbaugh said. “He wanted to practice, and I’m like, ‘Eh. How about we just take it easy for today?'” 

It’s unclear whether the issue is with the same ankle Yanda broke in the second game of the 2017 season, an injury that sidelined him for the rest of the year. The 34-year-old was still part of the group of Ravens players, coaches, and personnel who flew to Canton, Ohio after Saturday afternoon’s practice for Ed Reed’s Hall of Fame induction ceremony.

Other veterans not practicing Saturday included safety Earl Thomas and running back Mark Ingram, who were both given the practice off by Harbaugh. Defensive back Anthony Levine and offensive linemen Alex Lewis (shoulder) and Randin Crecelius were also absent.

It’s been only one week since backup quarterback Robert Griffin III sustained a hairline fracture in his right thumb, but he continues to practice on a limited basis and even did some light throwing of the football. His dedication hasn’t gone unnoticed even though Griffin isn’t expected to be cleared for live action before the start of the regular season.

“‘RG3’ comes out here in full pads, and he goes through every read, every play — the mechanics of it,” Harbaugh said. “He’s probably getting more work in than if he were playing in lot of ways. I give him a lot of credit for that. He’s a pro, and he’s doing a great job.”

The Ravens will enjoy their second day off of training camp Sunday in preparation for a pair of joint practices with Jacksonville. The Jaguars and Ravens will practice together Monday and Tuesday before kicking off the preseason schedule at M&T Bank Stadium Thursday night.

This marks the third time in six summers the Ravens will have hosted another team for joint workouts at their Owings Mills training facility after practicing with San Francisco in 2014 and welcoming the Los Angeles Rams last August. Baltimore will travel to Philadelphia later this month to practice with the Eagles for two days ahead of the third preseason game.

“The next step in the evaluation — put on a little more pressure,” said Harbaugh after nine days of his players practicing against only each other. “Now we have another team in front of us, and that poses problems. New schemes, different players, how do you handle that? I’m looking forward to seeing how the guys handle it.”

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With Griffin sidelined, Ravens sign quarterback Joe Callahan

Posted on 29 July 2019 by Luke Jones

With Robert Griffin III expected to miss the preseason with a thumb injury, the Ravens have added another healthy quarterback to their 90-man roster with the signing of journeyman Joe Callahan.

According to NFL Network, Baltimore had offered veteran quarterback Josh Johnson a contract, but the 33-year-old declined with the Ravens optimistic that Griffin will be ready for the regular-season opener on Sept. 8. Johnson spent the 2016 preseason with the Ravens and starter three games for Washington last season.

Coached by Ravens offensive coordinator Greg Roman at Holy Spirit High School in Absecon, N.J. in 2008, Callahan, 26, has attempted only seven NFL passes and has spent time with five other teams in his career. His lone regular-season game came with Green Bay in 2017 when he went 5-for-7 for 11 yards, but the Ravens needed a healthy quarterback to share practice reps and preseason snaps with starter Lamar Jackson and rookie sixth-round pick Trace McSorley.

The 2016 undrafted free agent from Division III Wesley has also spent time with New Orleans, Cleveland, Philadelphia, and Tampa Bay.

The Ravens waived outside linebacker Markus Jones to make room for Callahan on the 90-man roster.

Practicing for a fifth straight day before Tuesday’s respite, the Ravens were again without slot cornerback Tavon Young and offensive lineman Jermaine Eluemunor, who both appeared to be laboring during Saturday’s stadium practice and have missed back-to-back workouts.

“They’re just minor. It’s muscle issues that they have to get right,” head coach John Harbaugh said. “I kind of expect them both back after the day off, but we’ll see.”

Safety Earl Thomas and outside linebacker Pernell McPhee appeared to receive a veteran day while offensive lineman Randin Crecelius missed his second straight practice Monday. Wide receiver Marquise Brown (foot) remains on the non-football injury list, and guard Alex Lewis (shoulder) is still on the physically unable to perform list.

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Ravens quarterback Griffin out indefinitely with thumb injury

Posted on 27 July 2019 by Luke Jones

BALTIMORE — The Ravens suffered their first notable injury of training camp when backup quarterback Robert Griffin III hurt his right thumb in the final minutes of Saturday’s practice.

The 29-year-old hit his hand on outside linebacker Tim Williams’ helmet after throwing a pass and went to the locker room before the conclusion of the workout at M&T Bank Stadium. Griffin would not disclose the nature of the thumb injury after undergoing an X-ray, but ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported he could miss four to eight weeks with a hairline fracture, leaving his availability for the Sept. 8 season opener in Miami in question.

Griffin appeared distraught upon returning to the field after practice, but he was able to sign a few autographs for fans before talking to reporters.

“I can’t tell you guys anything. It’s not my job. I’ve got to let the team tell you,” said Griffin, whose once-promising career with Washington was derailed by injuries. “I was having a great camp, feel good, so I’m real excited about what we’re going to be able to do this year.”

The injury likely leaves the Ravens needing to sign another quarterback as rookie sixth-round pick Trace McSorley is the only healthy option behind starter Lamar Jackson on the 90-man roster. Griffin signed a two-year, $4 million contract in March to remain with the Ravens after revitalizing his NFL career as a reserve last season. He attempted only six passes in limited action after sitting out the entire 2017 season, but the 2012 first-round pick served as Jackson’s backup for four games when former Ravens starter Joe Flacco suffered a hip injury in early November.

With Flacco being traded to Denver in March, the Ravens prioritized keeping Griffin as the backup and mentor to the 22-year-old Jackson, who expressed concern for his veteran teammate after practice.

“We’ll see what happened with that. Everybody say a prayer,” head coach John Harbaugh said after practice. “I don’t think it’s bad, but say a prayer on that one.”

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2019 Ravens training camp preview: Quarterbacks

Posted on 24 July 2019 by Luke Jones

With training camp beginning Thursday and the preseason opener only a few weeks away, we’ll look at each Ravens position group before veterans begin reporting to Owings Mills for the first full-squad practice.

Cornerbacks
Running backs
Defensive line
Tight ends
Safeties
Offensive line
Inside linebackers
Wide receivers
Outside linebackers

We conclude at quarterback, a position group that doesn’t include Super Bowl XVLII MVP Joe Flacco for the first time since George W. Bush was president and Brian Billick was head coach of the Ravens. General manager Eric DeCosta and head coach John Harbaugh are all in on 22-year-old starter Lamar Jackson, who helped rally the Ravens to a 6-1 finish and their first AFC North championship since 2012 after Flacco injured his hip last November. New offensive coordinator Greg Roman was tasked with building the offense “from the ground up” this offseason to best fit Jackson’s unique skill set, and the backup quarterbacks have a similar profile, albeit to a less dynamic degree.

Transforming from one of the most pass-heavy offenses to the most run-heavy attack in the NFL on the fly last season, the Ravens showed their willingness to zig while the rest of the league zags, a trend that will continue this season. The coaching staff won’t be asking Jackson — or any of the quarterbacks — to try to imitate the league’s best quarterbacks by throwing 40 to 50 times per game, but more efficiency and explosiveness in the passing game will be critical for the Ravens to stay ahead of opposing defenses gearing to slow down their ground game.

Below is a look at the quarterbacks who stand out for various reasons:

The Man — Lamar Jackson
Skinny: Jackson was in a tough position replacing an injured veteran starter in what was designed to be a developmental year, but he responded by leading the league in rushing yards by a quarterback and becoming the youngest quarterback in NFL history to start a playoff game. The 2016 Heisman Trophy winner certainly didn’t do it alone as one of the league’s best defenses and a strong special-teams unit allowed the Ravens to fully embrace a complementary run-first offensive style, but there was no denying the spark Jackson provided as young players and veterans rallied around him. This is his team now.

Old Reliable — Robert Griffin III
Skinny: Washington fans would likely mock such a label for Griffin, but he was a welcome addition last year in what could have been an awkward quarterback room. His physical tools and past experiences — many of them not exactly positive — have made him an invaluable mentor for Jackson, but Griffin is only 29 and provides a much-needed insurance policy in an offense requiring a mobile quarterback. In a perfect world, Griffin doesn’t have to take a single snap in 2019, but he offers a higher ceiling than many backup quarterbacks around the league should something happen to Jackson.

Under Fire — Jackson
Skinny: Though feeling no heat from the organization beyond the normal expectations of being the starter, Jackson is one of the league’s more polarizing young players with his biggest supporters pointing to his good field vision and success throwing over the middle and his detractors dwelling on his 58.2 percent completion rate and league-leading 15 fumbles counting the postseason. There’s no arguing the need to dramatically improve his ball security, but the key to Jackson’s long-term growth will be finding more accuracy and success throwing outside the numbers, something he struggled to do as a rookie.

Up-and-Comer — Jackson
Skinny: Time will tell how Jackson develops as a passer, but he threw the ball with more zip during spring workouts and has plenty of young pass-catching options with which to grow this summer and beyond. Much has been made about curtailing his rushing — with even owner Steve Bisciotti chiming in — after Jackson set the post-merger single-season NFL record for most attempts by a quarterback, but Baltimore must be careful not to take away what makes him special as a player. What the Ravens are doing with Jackson and their offense could boom or bust, but it will be fascinating to watch it play out.

Sleeper — Trace McSorley
Skinny: The comparisons to New Orleans hybrid quarterback Taysom Hill are probably overblown with the sixth-round rookie from Penn State considerably smaller, but the Ravens hope to see him show enough as a No. 3 quarterback and special-teams contributor to keep him on the 53-man roster and potentially activate him on game days, which would allow the offense to remain aggressive with the quarterback position even if something were to happen to Jackson. The mobile McSorley showed growth as a passer over the course of the spring, but he has work to do to lock down his roster spot.

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marquisebrown

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Ravens still waiting on first-round pick to make practice debut

Posted on 12 June 2019 by Luke Jones

OWINGS MILLS, Md. — The Ravens defense was always going to win the battle this spring.

Not only has the Baltimore offense been completely revamped under coordinator Greg Roman, but a run-first system isn’t going to operate with full effect in non-contact practices. As you’d expect, a passing attack with a quarterback entering his first full year as a starter and veteran wide receivers with limited ceilings hasn’t produced many big plays against arguably the best and deepest secondary in the NFL.

But the Ravens — and their fans — must maintain the proper perspective knowing some intriguing upside is on the way in addition to quarterback Lamar Jackson and the rest of the offense simply increasing their comfort level in the new system. General manager Eric DeCosta selected two wide receivers with his first three picks of April’s draft to address the very concern observers have witnessed this spring.

Third-round rookie Miles Boykin missed a large portion of organized team activities with a hamstring injury and is still taking limited reps during this week’s minicamp, but first-round pick Marquise Brown has yet to make his practice debut for the Ravens. The speedy 5-foot-9, 170-pound receiver has increased his activity level this week by doing agility work on a side field, catching passes from the Jugs machine, and even taking a couple reps in an individual position drill Wednesday, but the real show won’t begin until the start of training camp in late July. Brown was selected with the 25th overall pick to make an immediate play-making impact, but the Ravens knew they’d have to be patient after the Oklahoma standout underwent Lisfranc surgery on his foot in January.

“He gets a little extra meeting time because he doesn’t get to do the stuff on the field that some of the guys get to do,” wide receivers coach David Culley said. “He spends a little bit of extra time going over those kinds of things. For the most part, he gets extra film work in, just watching everything in practice. Unfortunately for him, he doesn’t get to see himself to be able to correct things.”

Taking nothing away from complementary veteran wide receivers such as Willie Snead, Seth Roberts, and Chris Moore who will receive their share of opportunities, the Ravens are counting on Brown to be a difference maker, something they’ve rarely had at the wide receiver position over their history. The combination of speed and athleticism with which Brown consistently burned Big 12 defenses is exactly what Jackson needs to help fulfill his potential as a franchise quarterback.

The wait is almost over to see Brown in action, but he’ll have plenty of catching up to do after missing valuable spring reps.

“When I think about what I saw when we drafted him from Oklahoma, I get really excited about it,” Culley said. “Hopefully, he can do some of those same things that he did. He was a big-play guy for them, and one of the reasons why we got him where we got him was because of his big-play ability. We’re looking forward to him bringing that to us.”

In addition to Brown, defensive tackle Michael Pierce (conditioning), guard Alex Lewis (shoulder), cornerback and return specialist Cyrus Jones (illness), and guard Patrick Mekari did not participate in Wednesday’s minicamp practice. Safety Tony Jefferson increased his activity level in only his second practice since having ankle surgery in January.

Elliott shines again

Second-year safety DeShon Elliott continues to be a surprising standout performer this spring as he snatched another interception during Thursday’s practice, victimizing backup quarterback Robert Griffin III during a 7-on-7 period.

The 2018 sixth-round pick from Texas showed physicality in his first training camp before being lost for the season with a broken forearm last August, but his range in pass coverage has turned plenty of heads with a diving interception last week being the highlight play of the spring. At 6-foot-1 and 210 pounds, Elliott has the size to be used in different capacities even if he’s stuck behind six-time Pro Bowl selection Earl Thomas and established veteran Tony Jefferson on the depth chart.

“He’s just picked up where he left off right before he got hurt, and it’s just going to be another fun piece,” defensive coordinator Wink Martindale said. “We play a bunch of different personnel and everything else. I know we have two really good safeties right now, but we’ll find spots for the good football players. Obviously, specials teams play a big part in that.”

Elliott’s development could impact snaps for reserve safeties Anthony Levine and Chuck Clark, who both saw plenty of action in sub packages last season.

Rough day for quarterbacks

Even with some inconsistency and the overall shortage of big plays in the passing game, Jackson had done a commendable job avoiding turnovers this spring with only one interception over the first four practices open to media, but that changed Wednesday.

The 22-year-old quarterback was picked off by reserve defensive back Bennett Jackson in a 7-on-7 period and was later intercepted twice by rookie cornerback Terrell Bonds in the red zone, an area of the field in which the offense has struggled. Griffin also threw two interceptions during the morning practice.

Jackson also threw a touchdown to tight end Mark Andrews as the two continue to build on the encouraging chemistry they showed down the stretch last season.

“I’m not looking to win the practices. I’m looking to get ready for the training camp and get ready for the season,” Roman said. “Every opportunity, whether a good result or a bad result, on a play this time of year is a great thing because it gives us an opportunity to grow from it.”

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Twelve Ravens thoughts at conclusion of voluntary OTAs

Posted on 07 June 2019 by Luke Jones

With the Ravens wrapping up their third and final week of voluntary organized team activities, I’ve offered a dozen thoughts, each in 50 words or less:

1. DeShon Elliott made the play of OTAs with a diving interception of a deep Robert Griffin III pass. He showed impressive range sprinting from hash to sideline to make the pick. Elliott’s stuck behind Earl Thomas and Tony Jefferson, of course, but I want to watch more of that athleticism.

2. You’re never going to get the full effect of a run-based unit in non-contact practices, but the Ravens offense just didn’t make many plays in OTAs open to media and going against a defense consistently missing several veterans. Minicamp should be interesting with the full defense on the field.

3. Lamar Jackson hasn’t been as consistent as he’d like, but he threw only one interception in the three open voluntary workouts, which came on a pass to Brandon Carr that was a clear miscommunication. Learning a new system has been challenging for the entire offense, but he’s protecting the football.

4. The offense was particularly rough in red-zone drills, which reminds that Baltimore went 11-for-26 in that area with Jackson starting. Greg Roman will use plenty of play-action calls to scheme open targets between the 20s, but Jackson will need to make throws in tight windows in the red zone.

5. It’s been a quiet spring for Jaylon Ferguson, which isn’t all that surprising since his patented bull rush doesn’t really play in non-contact workouts. He’s been out of position from time to time playing the run, but we’ll better know where he is when the pads come on.

6. I’ve seen some snarky remarks about the run-heavy Ravens inviting former Navy coach and triple-option aficionado Paul Johnson to Owings Mills, but I commend a coaching staff seeking new ideas and innovation as we see the influence of the college game continue to make its way into the NFL.

7. Asked about the arrivals of Mark Ingram and Justice Hill, Gus Edwards said “nothing has really changed” and he’s still getting reps with the starters. I do expect him to continue playing an important role, but Edwards averaging 17.4 carries per game like he did from Weeks 11-17 seems unlikely.

8. Iman Marshall faces a steep climb to any defensive playing time as a rookie, but the fourth-round cornerback was impressive with a few pass breakups Thursday. Guys like Marshall, Anthony Averett, and Maurice Canady would be much higher on virtually any other corner depth chart in the league.

9. Their pursuit of Gerald McCoy made it clear the Ravens aren’t perfectly content with their interior pass rush, but Chris Wormley has been active with batted passes and pressures this spring. He will be competing with Zach Sieler to step into the old Brent Urban role.

10. Trade candidate Kaare Vedvik missed field goals from 35 and 48 yards before connecting from 58 after Sam Koch impressively handled a bad snap from rookie Matthew Orzech. I expect Vedvik to receive plenty of preseason opportunities to showcase his strong kicking leg, but consistency is key.

11. Plenty of young receivers flash this time of year before disappearing when the pads come on, but the 5-foot-11, 183-pound Sean Modster made several plays with the reserve units Thursday and was even singled out with praise from slot cornerback Tavon Young.

12. Asked about McCoy, John Harbaugh endorsed his defensive line before challenging critics to “wring their hands” and write how bad his team is. It’s fair to envision the Ravens taking a step back after such roster turnover, but I’ve seen few credible opinions suggesting they’ll be “bad.” Coaches love motivation.

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Twelve Ravens thoughts ahead of annual league meetings

Posted on 22 March 2019 by Luke Jones

With NFL teams convening in Phoenix next week for the annual league meetings, I’ve offered a dozen Ravens thoughts, each in 50 words or less:

1. Eric DeCosta has roughly $16 million in salary cap space with the draft a little over a month away. That leaves the flexibility to make another moderate signing or two while leaving the necessary space for the rookie draft class and in-season moves.

2. The Ravens were certainly interested in Justin Houston, but the two-year, $24 million deal he received from Indianapolis would have been difficult to absorb without restructuring deals or cutting another player, actions the organization prefers to avoid.

3. I still believe a $9.5 million salary and $15.85 million cap number are risky for someone who’s played more than 12 games in a season only twice in his career, but it’s clear Jimmy Smith is still valued. He remains a trade chip if they can address another need, however.

4. Robert Griffin III always seemed among the most likely of the free agents to re-sign. He hit it off with Lamar Jackson and had a nice preseason, but we’re talking about someone who was out of the league entirely in 2017. A deal made too much sense for both sides.

5. No one expected Brent Urban to sign in the opening hours of free agency, but I’m surprised there hasn’t been more interest in the 5-technique end. I figured he’d be looking at a contract similar to the four-year deal New England gave Lawrence Guy two offseasons ago.

6. With so much reported outside interest in Nick Boyle before he re-signed with the Ravens, teams wanting to add a blocking tight end should sign Maxx Williams, who would be a fraction of the price and interestingly received better blocking grades from Pro Football Focus in fewer snaps last year.

7. The lack of movement on Urban and Williams is likely complicating DeCosta’s free-agent strategy as the Ravens are currently slated to receive only one 2020 compensatory pick. There’s not a remaining unrestricted free agent who’s worth forfeiting a third-round pick to sign.

8. Much focus has been on the need for edge rushers, but Za’Darius Smith and Urban were vital parts of the inside pass rush. A healthy Willie Henry would help, but interior pressure is more important than ever with quick throws so prevalent today to try to neutralize edge defenders.

9. Jerry Rosburg’s retirement is a significant loss as his units have finished in the top five in Rick Gosselin’s revered special teams report and have ranked sixth or better in Football Outsiders’ special teams DVOA in seven straight seasons. The pressure is on successor Chris Horton.

10. With Terrell Suggs and Joe Flacco officially gone, only six players remain who were with the organization during Super Bowl XLVII and Anthony Levine was on injured reserve at the time. Only eight remain under contract from the Ravens’ last playoff win over Pittsburgh in January 2015.

11. As Mark Ingram noted after news of Griffin’s deal surfaced, the Ravens now have three Heisman Trophy winners on their current roster. That’s definitely a rare occurrence, but the late 1980s Los Angeles Raiders quickly came to mind with Marcus Allen, Tim Brown, and Bo Jackson.

12. Congratulations to former Ravens coaching intern Lori Locust for earning a full-time NFL coaching position with Tampa Bay. This interesting story describes her journey to now work for Buccaneers head coach Bruce Arians, who has advocated for more diversity in coaching in recent years.

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Robert Griffin III, Ravens reach two-year agreement

Posted on 21 March 2019 by WNST Staff

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