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Ravens News 7/25: Secondary rankings, practice observations and more

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NFL: Baltimore Ravens at Green Bay Packers Appleton Post-Crescent-USA TODAY Sports

NFL secondary rankings: All 32 teams entering 2018 - Michael Renner


Projected starting lineup:

Starting cornerback: Jimmy Smith, 86.2 grade

Safety: Eric Weddle, 82.4

Safety: Tony Jefferson, 82.4

Starting cornerback: Marlon Humphrey, 82.7

Nickel cornerback: Tavon Young, 79.9* (2016 grade)

Another secondary bereft of holes. The return of Young only makes this a more formidable unit. The third-year corner had a 79.9 overall grade as a rookie before tearing his ACL last year. Brandon Carr‘s veteran presence also holds weight but the real key for this unit though will be the recovery of number one corner Smith. He only allowed a passer rating of 49.2 last year when targeted before tearing his Achilles.

For comparison within the division, PFF rated Cincinnati’s secondary as the 14th best, Pittsburgh 23rd and Cleveland 30th. The 2018 Ravens will rely on their secondary to produce takeaways, their 22 interceptions led the league last year.

Observations from from the fourth day of Ravens training camp - Mike Preston

A run at the job

Alex Collins is the Ravens’ starting running back, but Kenneth Dixon lets you know he’s around, waiting in the wings. He broke off a 20- to 25-yard touchdown run during 11-on-11 action Monday by bouncing outside and down the left sideline.

Collins, though, hauled in a 30-yard pass when he beat rookie linebacker Kenny Young on a circle route down the left sideline. The Ravens want Collins to be more of a threat as a receiver out of the backfield this season.

The Ravens will likely need contributions from all three of their tailbacks - Alex Collins, Buck Allen and Kenneth Dixon - this season. Hopefully Dixon can become a reliable backup.

Why Ravens Veterans Are Pumped About This Year’s Defense - Ryan Mink

Specific veterans such as safety Eric Weddle, inside linebacker C.J. Mosley and outside linebacker Terrell Suggs, have also been given more freedom to diagnose and change what they and their fellow defenders are doing based on what they see from the offense. This should make Baltimore more unpredictable.

“You have to be in the playbook a lot more now since he opened up the playbook for us more,” Mosley said. “It gives the veterans and the guys that are on the field a chance to be more diverse. We won’t be lining up as one defense in certain plays or certain formations. We can be in the same defense but have different looks.”

Late audibles are a double edged sword, they can produce splash plays for both teams. Yet in Mosley, Weddle and especially Suggs, the Ravens have heady players that can win the chess match with many quarterbacks.

Ravens notes: Hurst leaves practice early; Kaufusi to make switch to outside linebacker - Katherine Fominykh

Kaufusi makes the switch

After a rookie season stymied by a broken ankle, Bronson Kaufusi rode the bench for the team’s final nine games and 13 overall last year. As a defensive end, he collected only five tackles and zero sacks.

Now the Ravens might have found a new role for Kaufusi.

On Tuesday, the 6-foot-6, 280-pound Brigham Young product stood in as an outside linebacker, a position the Ravens intend to keep Kaufusi at for the regular season. The 27-year-old had tinkered with the role Monday as well, taking a few snaps.

“It’s really good for me, being able to be out there on the edge, being able to rush the edge and also just rush inside,” Kaufusi said. “All those things coming into play, I love doing that. I can really get after it out there.”

Kaufusi faces long odds to make the roster as an outside linebacker. Terrell Suggs and Matthew Judon are entrenched as starters, behind them Tyus Bowser and Za’Darius Smith have flashed and Tim Williams retains untapped pass rushing potential. Carrying six outside ‘backers would require some reshuffling at other positions.

Practice Report 7/24: Hayden Hurst Returns to Practice on Limited Basis - Garrett Downing

- Baltimore practiced in full pads and it may have been the most physical practice to date. The Ravens challenged players by putting them in one-on-one situations, including receivers vs. defensive backs and pass rushers vs. offensive linemen. The one-on-one battles between receivers and cornerbacks was one of the most entertaining parts of practice, as the defenders were able to get physical with the receivers at the line of scrimmage.

- Cornerback Marlon Humphrey came up with an interception on Jackson during the start of full-team drills. The pass was intended for receiver Willie Snead, but Marlon dove in front to make the interception. The second-year defender is having a great start to camp and looks ready to build off his strong rookie campaign.

Humphrey seems poised to challenge Brandon Carr for the starting job across from Jimmy Smith. Considering their emerging depth at cornerback, the Ravens may want to see if Carr can return a valuable mid-round draft pick via trade.

Take it to the Bank podcast: Training Camp is here!

The latest training camp storylines, Week 7 vs New Orleans preview, tape breakdown of rookie corner Anthony Averett and AFC North inside linebackers rankings.