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  • Ravens News 5/24: OTAs observations, attendance and more
    by Vasilis Lericos on May 24, 2019 at 12:00 pm

    Baltimore Ravens OTAs observations: Lamar Jackson’s passes, an undrafted standout and more - Aaron Kasinitz Quarterback Lamar Jackson threw passes with impressive velocity throughout Thursday’s practice, but his accuracy fluctuated. In one sequence, Jackson fired a gorgeous deep ball down the left sideline to wide receiver Jaleel Scott and then sent his next pass wobbling way wide of Seth Roberts on a basic out route. Such is life for a 22-year-old quarterback still in the process of tweaking his mechanics. He did finish on a strong note, whipping a 3-yard touchdown pass to running back Gus Edwards in a crunch-time drill. Antoine Wesley, a 6-foot-4 undrafted receiver out of Texas Tech, stood out from the pack of young wideouts Thursday. He made a one-handed catch in individual drills and burned past the second-team secondary at one point to haul in a long touchdown pass from Robert Griffin III. After Good Day, Lamar Jackson Offers Harsh Critique of His Own Passing - Ryan Mink “I’d say my first day, I sucked,” Jackson said. “Second day, I did better. Today was alright, but it could have been better. I always try to be perfect in practice. It was alright for the first week.” “I see my hip is firing. Coach always wants me to, ‘Fire my hip! Fire my hip!’” Jackson said. “Keeping a wide base, that’s been showing up a lot on film. But I’ve got to get that spiral tighter.” “It’s my hand placement,” Jackson said. “I feel like my hand will be a little too high on the football sometimes. That will make the ball go out of whack.” “Man, he can throw it,” Ingram said of Jackson. “I’ve seen him make a lot of tight throws in tight windows. I’ve seen him make some deep throws. I’ve seen him go through his progressions, make check-downs, see guys in second windows in zones. He’s making his reads, he’s getting better. Ravens HC John Harbaugh ‘Really Happy With The Progress’ Of Offense - Bo Smolka Since OTAs are voluntary, veterans frequently opt against the workouts, and several Ravens veterans were not present. That group included guard Marshal Yanda, cornerback Jimmy Smith, safety Early Thomas, linebacker Matthew Judon and defensive linemen Michael Pierce and Brandon Williams. Safety Tony Jefferson, who had offseason ankle surgery, was on the field in street clothes but did not participate. Two players who were not present and are still competing for roster spots were running back Kenneth Dixon and cornerback-punt returner Cyrus Jones. Practice Report 5/23: Chris Moore Looks Smooth, Ready for More - Ryan Mink Expect to see a lot more of Chris Board in Year 2, as the former undrafted rookie (North Dakota State) spent time rolling in with Kenny Young next to Patrick Onwuasor. With C.J. Mosley’s departure, the Ravens are looking for a run-stuffing inside linebacker. Second-year defensive end Zach Sieler stood out on several occasions, including keeping Jackson contained on a rollout and batting down another pass. The 6-foot-6 seventh-round pick (Ozzie Newsome’s final pick) could end up replacing departed Brent Urban. New veteran outside linebacker Shane Ray passes the eye test. He’s huge and seemingly in great shape. Veteran Pernell McPhee also looks to be in good shape. Both were praised by Head Coach John Harbaugh. Big, Physical Michael Floyd Thinks His Skillset Fits Ravens Offense - Clifton Brown “Michael’s a hard worker, a guy that can go up and get the rock, and a great blocker,” Jefferson said. “Also, he’s a good dude. I’m excited about him. I think he’s intriguing. I think he fits what our offense is trying to do. “How teams played us last year stacking the box, it will give us the opportunity to have a big receiver outside who has one-on-one matchups to go up and get the ball for Lamar. He can go up and get it with his catch radius.” “Each team only carries about six guys (wide receivers), depending on what the team chooses,” Floyd said. “I know what I can bring to the game. It’s not my first time going through this. I think I can help the team, and I think I can help the young guys. You want to contribute to a winning team however you can. I’m going to get the playbook down, and let the cards fall where they fall.” Ravens’ Miles Boykin brings sure hands after years of breaking fingers - Jamison Hensley “Ever since my fingers healed up, I’ve been pretty steady with catching the ball,” Boykin said. Boykin was considered one of the most sure-handed receivers in this year’s draft class. He dropped three of his 62 catchable targets last season, according to Pro Football Focus. Alexander feels the career season was a product of Boykin developing physically. Boykin believes it’s the result of increasing knowledge, learning from Alexander about the coverages and leverages that defenses are trying to use. ”Simple things like that go a mile and just slow everything down for you,” Boykin said. […]

  • Ravens News 5/23: OTAs storylines and more
    by Vasilis Lericos on May 23, 2019 at 12:00 pm

    7 Things to Watch at Ravens Organized Team Activities - Ryan Mink Attendance, especially from key veterans The first thing reporters will do when they arrive on the practice fields will be to take attendance. OTAs are voluntary, but the Ravens have always had a strong showing. That doesn’t mean everybody is there, however. Veterans who have already proven themselves in the league and are accustomed to getting ready on their own sometimes sit out. They may not want to risk injury, or they have their own other reasons. Would the Ravens prefer that every player be there? Of course. But sometimes it’s a good thing to allow younger players more practice reps. Lamar Jackson’s throwing Perhaps the most important offseason storyline is the continued growth of quarterback Lamar Jackson. The offense is built around his skillset, and in order for it to thrive, it will need him to take the next step in his development. While there’s little doubt that the Ravens will be able to run the ball successfully this year with Jackson, Mark Ingram and Co., as well as Greg Roman’s creative schemes, Baltimore wants to see Jackson become more accurate as a passer. Jackson talked about his desire to improve his mechanics this year, and there will be a lot of attention put on that throughout the summer. Most vulnerable division winners: Ravens, Texans, Rams at risk - Gil Brandt 1) Baltimore Ravens (AFC North) The most pressing questions heading into 2018 -- Will John Harbaugh stick around as head coach? Will Lamar Jackson supplant Joe Flacco? -- were answered affirmatively. The quarterback drama might be settled, but there is even more uncertainty this offseason. Can Jackson take the next step as a passer under new offensive coordinator Greg Roman? On defense, Baltimore signed Earl Thomas to replace Eric Weddle. But the team also suffered significant losses in the front seven and pass-rushing corps, with Terrell Suggs, Za’Darius Smith and C.J. Mosley all heading for greener pastures -- and the Ravens are relying on younger players and free-agent stopgaps to fill the void. Most likely to replace them: Pittsburgh Steelers. The Ravens’ competition in the AFC North will be stout. The Browns are ascending, and Pittsburgh has been a perennial contender for almost all of the Ben Roethlisberger-Mike Tomlin era. The Steelers are facing something of a transition year, with running back Le’Veon Bell and receiver Antonio Brown both gone, but it would be silly to write them off at this point. To me, the race for “challenger” is a virtual toss-up between Pittsburgh and Cleveland, and to break the tie, I’ll look to the team with more proven experience, including at quarterback. Michael Floyd Gives Ravens More Depth At Wide Receiver - Jeff Seidel The signing of veteran wide receiver Michael Floyd to a one-year deal gives the Ravens more depth at that position. They need that right now because the team has some”what-ifs” over at wide receiver. Floyd has shown he can be an effective NFL wide receiver. He has 266 catches for 3,959 and 25 touchdowns during his career. Floyd can catch the ball, will be a good receiver for Jackson to throw to in tough situations and has speed. The Ravens now have put together a cadre of speedy receivers that can be used in a variety of ways. Baltimore now can come out with any number of different looks, formations and packages. NFL bans certain old-school training-camp drills - Mike Florio The NFL has eliminated various types of high-contact drills from training-camp practices, including the Oklahoma drill and bull in the ring. The reason for doing it is simple. As the NFL tries to lead the way in making the sport safer at every level (so that people will choose to play it at every level), the NFL needs to get rid of certain dangerous drills, and to hope that college, high school, and youth football will do the same. […]

  • Predicting the Ravens statistical leaders in each major defensive category
    by Frank J. Platko on May 22, 2019 at 2:00 pm

    Who will post big numbers on defense next season? Losing four defensive snap leaders in free agency would prompt many teams to rebuild on that side of the ball. However, in typical Ravens fashion, Baltimore retooled and reloaded by adding Earl Thomas, Jaylon Ferguson, and several others players. They’ll also be relying on in-house improvement from players like Patrick Onwuasor, Kenny Young, and Tim Williams to replace the production lost from C.J. Mosley, Terrell Suggs, and Za’Darius Smith. With a mixture of new faces and returning contributors, which players will lead the team in each of the major defensive stat categories in 2019-20? Tackles Patrick Onwuasor Tony Jefferson Kenny Young C.J. Mosley had been the Ravens leading tackler in each of the past five seasons, so with him now out of the fold, there’s plenty of slack to be picked up. Stepping into his place will be Patrick Onwuasor, who has a good chance to lead the team in tackles. Onwuasor has good range and pursuit to the ball. He’ll be patrolling the middle of the field throughout the year. Tony Jefferson was second on the team in tackles last season with 74. With Earl Thomas roaming the secondary, Jefferson figures to play closer to the line of scrimmage next season in a box-safety role. It wouldn’t be surprising to see him improve upon last year’s number and potentially wind up as the leading tackler on the team. Kenny Young showcased great athleticism and sideline-to-sideline range in his rookie season. Even in a limited role, he managed to record 51 tackles, just eight less than Onwuasor. Now, he’ll be possessing a starting role alongside “Peanut”, so he’s a good bet to build upon his tackle total from last season. Sacks Matthew Judon Jaylon Ferguson Tim Williams Baltimore has rebuilt their outside linebacker core this offseason. After losing Za’Darius Smith and Terrell Suggs in free agency, the team drafted Jaylon Ferguson in the third round and recently signed Shane Ray and Pernell McPhee. It’s Matthew Judon who figures to pace the edge rusher corps in sacks, though. Judon had seven sacks last year but is talented enough to potentially break double-digits. He’ll be the primary pass-rusher on defense now and Don Martindale will put him positions to succeed. Ferguson is set to make an immediate impact in his rookie season. The NCCA’s all-time leader in sacks is a natural pass rusher with a solid array of power and moves. Somewhere between 5-8 sacks from Ferguson seems within the realm of possibility. After these two, it’s anyone guess as to who will be third on the team in sacks. Ray and McPhee could potentially make an impact and Onwuasor had 5.5 sacks of his own last season. My bet is on Tim Williams stepping up, though. Williams is entering a make-or-break season and the Ravens are counting on him to replace some of Suggs and Smith’s production. Williams’ talent has never been in question and with more opportunities presented to him, he has a good chance to improve upon his two sacks from last year. Forced Fumbles Patrick Onwuasor Tony Jefferson Matthew Judon With tackles comes opportunities to force fumbles, and Onwuasor will have plenty of those next season. He forced two fumbles last season, both of which came in the final five weeks of the year. Against the Chargers in Week 15, Onwuasor was responsible for the game-clinching turnover, as he punched the ball out of Antonio Gates’ arms and Tavon Young returned the loose ball for a touchdown. Jefferson was one of six players tied for second on the team last year with just one forced fumble. However, Jefferson will have more chances to make plays on the ball next year and his aggressive playing style could easily equate to two or more turnovers. Judon is a good bet for at least a forced fumble or two, as well. Interceptions Earl Thomas Marlon Humphrey Brandon Carr The Ravens landed maybe the best ball-hawking safety in the league this offseason by signing Earl Thomas. Thomas had three interceptions in the first four weeks of the 2018-19 season, including a multiple-interception game against the Cowboys. His range, play recognition, and instincts are elite and allow him to be in the right place at the right time almost every play. Whereas Thomas makes plays from all over the field, cornerbacks Marlon Humphrey and Brandon Carr are skilled at creating turnovers when targeted in man coverage. Both players had two interceptions each last season and could very well match that number. Humphrey can potentially take his game to another level, too, so two interceptions is just a starting point. […]

  • Ravens 2019 Draft Likes & Dislikes: Jaylon Ferguson
    by Kyle P Barber on May 22, 2019 at 1:00 pm

    Can the pass rusher be what Baltimore needs? The 2019 NFL Draft was a grueling adventure for Ravens fans. After the initial pick at 25, the front office sat back and calculated their next move. . . which arrived 60 picks later. Fans were excited and exhausted. In the end, we watched as Eric DeCosta and the scouting unit attempted to replace a 16-year Raven, OLB Terrell Suggs, as he ventured off to the NFC West, becoming an Arizona Cardinal. With their second overall selection, the Baltimore Ravens picked DE Jaylon Ferguson. Rd. 3 Pick 85: DE Jaylon Ferguson Likes: The stats, obviously. The man who was drafted to ‘replace’ the legendary Raven was the same man to overtake Suggs’ Division I sack record. A player capable of notching 45 sacks in college is exciting, especially when the sack record was on the line in his final matchup and he stepped up to achieve such a feat. The sack totals aren’t the only gaudy number, either. He also racked in a total of 67.5 tackles for loss in his four-year career at Louisiana Tech [sports-reference]. In summation, Ferguson was a college dominator. Now, to discuss his play. I like his versatility. I don’t see Jaylon as a strict defensive end/edge rusher. Against North Texas (yes, I know this isn’t ‘Bama, but still), you can see him producing while playing inside backer blitzing right up the middle. He blows past and takes down the quarterback with ease. On the next clip, he cuts to the chipping tight end, takes the block and uses the momentum from the block to burn past the left tackle and notch yet another sack. Going frame-by-frame, you also notice he’s the first off the line after the snap, demonstrating the speed he’s revered for. My final ‘like’ for Ferguson actually comes from a recent interview on our own “Baltimore Beatdown Podcast”. Jacob Louque and Vasilis Lericos interviewed Bleacher Report’s Connor Roger’s and his response settled most of my up-in-the-air uncertainties on Ferguson. Vasilis Lericos: “We know the Ravens lost a lot of snaps from their linebacking corps. C.J. Mosley joined your Jets and local icon Terrell Suggs moved on, as well as Za’Darius Smith. They did address the pass rusher need in the third round with Jaylon Ferguson. He did produce gaudy stats in college, but faced some middling talent. He did not test particularly well. How pro-ready do you think Ferguson is?” Connor Rogers: “I actually do think he is ready to be on the field. Now, I’m not saying he’s going to be this three-down lights-out player right away but one thing I like about Jaylon Ferguson’s game is is that you kind of know what it is. It’s speed-to-power, in my eyes. You kind of alluded to it there, it wasn’t always against the best competition but I still think he can rush and get after the quarterback. He plays with a different level of violence.” Dislikes: You can’t disregard the level of competition Ferguson faced in college. Yes, he was Division I, but he wasn’t going against the top-flight lineman in college. He wasn’t battling against the best of the best, and now he will face off against professionals week in and week out. This is a big step up and it will be a tough test for the rookie. Ferguson is a solid defender and I don’t have much against him. It all comes down to becoming the NFL-caliber performer, which we’ll have to wait and see. […]

  • Ravens News 5/22: Offseason agenda, running it up and more
    by Vasilis Lericos on May 22, 2019 at 12:00 pm

    NFL summer subplots: One burning question for each AFC team - Jeremy Bergman Baltimore Ravens: Will John Harbaugh’s team continue to run it up? No team last year experienced a more jarring midseason change in philosophy than Baltimore, which swapped Joe Flacco out for Lamar Jackson and immediately became the most feared ground attack in football. Over their final seven regular-season games, during which they crawled back from sub.-500 to a division title, the Ravens averaged 229.6 rushing yards per game with Jackson leading the charge (logging 17 attempts and 79.4 yards per game). Baltimore doubled down on that ground-and-pound approach this offseason by signing Mark Ingram and drafting Justice Hill. Meanwhile, the Ravens lost aging receiving talent (Michael Crabtree, John Brown) but added rookie standouts Hollywood Brown and Miles Boykin to pair with a trio of useful tight ends. The Ravens are Lamar’s team now, but as the first three quarters of their wild-card defeat to the Chargers exposed, Baltimore’s reliance on the run might not hold up over a full campaign -- or against teams that now have half a season’s worth of tape on how the Ravens use their dynamic QB. Baltimore has the personnel to pace the league in rushing attempts again. Whether, in Jackson’s sophomore season, the Ravens change their course will be something to monitor early on in 2019. NFL offseason agendas: To-do lists for all 16 AFC teams - Bill Barnwell Baltimore Ravens Add defensive help. The Ravens have shed front-seven pieces this offseason, and in return, they’ve ... brought back Pernell McPhee and signed former Broncos first-rounder Shane Ray. They already had plenty of talent and will promote from within, but they could sorely use veteran help. They can already line up a pair of fearsome defensive linemen in Brandon Williams and Michael Pierce, but I admit I find the idea of the Ravens signing Ndamukong Suh or Gerald McCoy and threatening teams with interior pressure to be extremely enticing. With $14.5 million in cap space, the Ravens could make a short-term deal work. Work on re-signing Pierce, Matt Judon, and Patrick Onwuasor. I wasn’t kidding about the front-seven thing. The Ravens lost four of their top five defenders there in terms of 2018 snap count in C.J. Mosley, Terrell Suggs, Za’Darius Smith, and Brent Urban, and they can’t afford to keep shedding that talent. Pierce, Judon and Onwuasor are all unrestricted free agents in 2020, and with Joe Flacco’s contract finally coming off of the books, the Ravens will have nearly $40 million in cap space. The goal should be to re-sign two of their three young stars. Offensive Line Is Mostly Unchanged, And That’s OK - John Eisenberg The analytic gurus at Pro Football Focus and Football Outsiders generally liked what they saw from the O-line in 2018. The Ravens ranked No. 10 in PFF’s O-line power rankings. Football Outsiders rated them No. 9 in run blocking and No. 8 in pass protection. Those are high grades. But my two cents, they’re countered to a degree by what happened in the Ravens’ playoff loss to the Los Angeles Chargers. The line got pushed around, especially up the middle. Ronnie Stanley is “one of the best left tackles in the league,” according to PFF. Orlando Brown Jr. has taken command at right tackle. Marshal Yanda was the NFL’s third-highest-rated guard in 2018, according to PFF. That’s a solid foundation. And Ravens General Manager Eric DeCosta doesn’t sound too worried about the other slots. […]


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