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Ravens News 8/21: Rookie WRs struggle, MNF refocused and more

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NFL: Baltimore Ravens at Indianapolis Colts Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

ReFocused, NFL Preseason Week 2: Baltimore Ravens 20, Indianapolis Colts 19 - Pro Football Focus

Edge defender Za’Darius Smith was a problem for the Colts’ pass protection throughout the first half. He constantly found different ways to attack as he forced multiple pressures against different linemen. The Ravens were stout against the run for most of the evening as Colts’ running backs struggled to gain momentum as Baltimore’s front-seven constantly found ways to clog the rushing lanes.

QB Joe Flacco looked sharp in his quarter-plus of action, seeing only two of his nine attempts hit the turf. He finished the night strong with a pair of excellent throws on his final drive, first finding Michael Crabtree in the Cover-2 hole down the left sideline and capping the drive with a tight-window throw to John Brown in the back of the end zone for a score.

Flacco’s completion to Crabtree was particularly impressive, he used a pump fake to move the safety which gave him a window to drop the ball into down the sideline. He also varied his cadence at the line to keep the defenders off balance.

Five things we learned from the Ravens’ 20-19 preseason win over the Indianapolis Colts - Childs Walker

Rookie receivers Jaleel Scott and Jordan Lasley have showed us little in three games.

The Ravens took plenty of criticism for not drafting a wide receiver in the first two rounds in April. And that criticism will persist if they continue to get negligible production from Scott and Lasley, whom they drafted in the fourth and fifth rounds, respectively.

Lasley has outperformed Scott in training camp, but when Jackson targeted him over the middle in the third quarter, the UCLA product could not separate from his defender. He then dropped a touchdown pass from Robert Griffin III in the fourth quarter, adding to his reputation for unreliable hands.

Scott was billed as a big-play threat out of New Mexico State, and he looks the part physically. But he hasn’t done it in practice or in the games. He also dropped a pass in the fourth quarter against the Colts.

History says the Ravens won’t just ditch a fourth-round pick, but with so much competition for the last few spots on the roster, Scott can’t feel safe.

Though Breshad Perriman didn’t make any standout plays against the Colts, the former No. 1 pick has clearly outperformed the rookies as he fights for one last chance in Baltimore.

For the second consecutive game, both rookie receivers had unacceptable drops. Scott and Lasley could end up on injuried reserve or the practice squad. During the pre-draft process, head coach John Harbaugh explained, “I’ve always wanted guys that can catch. When you look at any position, to me, there’s a deal-breaker.”

PFF’s Best Contracts - Top 5 NFL offensive line contracts for 2018 - Gordon McGuinness

5. MARSHAL YANDA, BALTIMORE RAVENS

With the retirement of Joe Thomas, there is a strong case to be made that Yanda is now the most obvious Hall of Fame-caliber offensive lineman currently active in the NFL. Coming off a season ending injury, just $3.95 million of his salary is guaranteed, but it’s the value he brings to the field for the Ravens that is really important. Yanda has produced PFF grades of 80.0 or higher in every season, and that includes a rookie year in 2007 that he spent out of position at right tackle. In his last 1,400 pass-blocking snaps, Yanda has allowed just one sack. Yes, one sack. In 2016, he led all guards in pass-blocking efficiency.

Due to the front office’s frequent practice of backloading and restructuring contracts, Marshal Yanda’s 2018 cap number exceeds $10 million.

NFL’s New Helmet Rule Is Unpopular Among Players... So What Happens Next? - Conor Orr

The tackling directive, passed back in March and taught during educational sessions, “webinars and conference calls” between the league and each coach and club, has been unpopular among a loud but undefined segment of the NFL defensive player population.

49ers cornerback Richard Sherman whipped up a windstorm on Sunday, essentially hitting on all the griping points of his fellow Twitter-using defensive players by saying “There is no ‘make adjustment’ to the way you tackle. Even in a perfect form tackle the body is led by the head. The rule is idiotic And should be dismissed immediately. When you watch rugby players tackle they are still lead by their head. Will be flag football soon.”

Sherman’s point of view is completely understandable, and that’s the difficult part in all of this. No one with an actual, sincere stake in this decision is wrong – not the people who have digested the health and safety information and are trying to make a difference, not the players who are worried about doing their job and earning a living and not the coaches who have a legitimate interest in both a safer game and a set of rules his players can actually comprehend.

The new helmet rule has produced many controversial calls this preseason.