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Ravens News 7/4: Return of the returner, Duo concept and more

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NFL: Washington Redskins at Baltimore Ravens Derik Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports

Ravens Could Benefit From Return of the Returner - John Eisenberg

“I think we’re going to see a lot of exciting plays,” Rosburg said last month at the Ravens’ minicamp. “Teams with returners are going to benefit from having a returner, because they’re going to have more opportunities. You’re not just going to be able to kick the ball into the end zone and take a knee in the end zone, like we’ve seen so many times.”

Tim White, the second-year receiver, impressed as a returner a year ago before suffering a season-ending finger injury. Rosburg has complimented Janarion Grant, an undrafted rookie from Rutgers who was among the best returners in college football last fall before an ankle injury ended his season.

No matter who returns kickoffs in 2018, I’m guessing the Ravens will be at the forefront of teams trying to take advantage of the new rules. Their strong history with kickoffs is well-documented. Both of their Super Bowl triumphs included a kickoff taken to the house. They led the league in average yards per kickoff return in 2017.

They’re good at it, period, and with the potential for more returns looming, they’ll certainly want to make the most of that.

Punt returns are another consideration. In 2017, the Ravens fielded 32 punts for the fifth best average of 10.1 yards per return. An elusive return specialist could perhaps improve upon these totals. Baltimore’s advantage in special teams, the fifth phase, has won them several games in recent years.

Top NFL offenses by run concept from 2017 - Sam Monson


When it comes to gap concepts, or more man-blocking schemes rather than zone, duo (among its many other names) is the most heavily used in the NFL these days. When it’s run well (or run behind a powerful offensive line) it can be devastating and extremely effective, but when it’s run poorly (or the offensive line trying to execute it is a bad one), it can look like a car crash.

PFF notes that the Ravens generated 1.6 yards before contact per attempt from this ‘Duo’ concept, which tied for second most in the league. They averaged an impressive four yards per carry when utilizing this power run concept.

Baltimore Ravens roster review: How the running back rotation might shake out - Aaron Kasinitz

Mark Thompson

Roster status: Roster hopeful

Skinny: The 6-foot-2, 230-pound Thompson is a powerful running back with scintillating physical traits, but he never developed into a star at Florida, rushing for 596 yards over two seasons. Still, there’s room for one of these undrafted rookies to make a strong push to land on the 53-man roster, and Thompson might have the most upside of the bunch.

De’Lance Turner

Roster status: Roster hopeful

Skinny: The Ravens signed Turner in May as an undrafted free agent after he racked up 1,357 rushing yards and 13 total touchdowns at Alcorn State last season. At 6 feet, 1 inch and 214 pounds, Turner has prototypical size to make it as an NFL running back. He’ll need to show in training camp that he can handle the uptick in competition.

Gus Edwards

Roster status: Roster hopeful

Skinny: Edwards spent four years at Miami and then played with Rutgers as a graduate transfer last season before signing with the Ravens this spring. Another big-bodied ball-carrier, the 235-pound Edwards has enough size and strength to fill a niche in Baltimore’s backfield. He’ll need to add another skill — whether its pass protecting, receiving or special teams acumen — to separate himself from other roster hopefuls.

Interestingly, the front office opted to bring in this trio of powerful UDFA backs after receiving back Taquon Mizzell was one of the final cuts last preseason.