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Ravens News 8/22: Dixon’s return, young pass rushers and more

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

Five Thoughts on Ravens vs. Colts - John Eisenberg

The football world wants to see Lamar Jackson, and it got what it wanted when the rookie replaced Flacco late in the first quarter. The first impression he offered was nightmarish. Jackson’s first four passes fell incomplete. The Colts brought relentless pressure, trapping him in the pocket and leaving him with little room to maneuver. Then he seemed to lose a fumble on a scramble. But the fumble call was overturned via replay, and from there, slowly but surely, his night improved. He completed a pass, then another. Before halftime, he led the offense on a drive that produced a field goal. After halftime, he led the offense on a touchdown drive. In the end, he completed seven of 15 passes for 49 yards and registered a 76.8 passer rating – modest totals. I don’t know what the football world expected, but Jackson’s up-and-down performance was typical of where he is right now, and he was a total pro in the way he battled back from a rough start.

After a troubling start, it was encouraging to see Lamar Jackson find his rhythm in the two-minute offense to close out the first half. His accuracy was much improved in the third quarter.

2018 NFL Predictions: Team-by-Team Records, Playoffs and Super Bowl LIII Champion - Andy Benoit

AFC NORTH

Steelers: 11–5

Ravens: 7–9

Browns: 4–12

Bengals: 4–12

All five first-round rookie QBs—Baker Mayfield (Browns), Sam Darnold (Jets), Josh Allen (Bills), Josh Rosen (Cardinals) and Lamar Jackson (Ravens)—will take over before the season ends. Especially with the CBA limiting practice time, there just aren’t enough reps for young passers to develop from the bench. Through 2017, 24 of the last 27 first-round QBs became their team’s starter as a rookie. The trend will continue.

Based off the growing pains Jackson has dealt with in the preseason compared to Joe Flacco’s newfound efficiency, a move at quarterback would only seem possible in a scenario where the Ravens were completely out of contention. Nonetheless, Benoit’s point about limited practice time presents a case against rostering Robert Griffin.

Kenneth Dixon Shows His Quickness, Physicality in Long-Awaited Return to the Field - Ryan Mink

The Ravens’ third-year running back had a strong showing in Monday night’s 20-19 win over the Indianapolis Colts in Baltimore’s third preseason game.

Dixon led the Ravens in yards from scrimmage (56) despite getting less than a third of the offensive snaps. He rushed six times for 32 yards (5.3 yards per carry) and added a team-high three catches for 24 yards.

“[He] made some good, hard runs. He’s a physical, quick guy,” Harbaugh said. “That was good and that was big for us. That two-minute drive was really good and I think he did a good job.”

As Mink notes, availability has been Dixon’s drawback. He has missed 20 of 32 possible regular season games. With quick feet, good power, balance, hands and decisiveness, Dixon has the requisite talent to be a difference maker this season.

Ravens linebacker Tim Williams: ‘I’m back on my Alabama stuff’ - Mark Inabinett

In Baltimore’s victories over the Chicago Bears and Los Angeles Rams, Williams has played 89 defensive snaps, made seven tackles, recorded a sack, forced a fumble and put the heat on the opposing quarterbacks.

”I’m comfortable,” Williams said of his promising start. “My second year, I know what to expect. You can’t catch me off my heels now. I’m back on my Alabama stuff.”

“My rookie year, I came into the league and I thought I had to weigh 280,” Williams said. “But I’m at my right playing weight. I feel better than I was in my rookie year because I didn’t know what to expect when I came in. You know, with the big guys in the NFL, I thought I had to eat, eat, eat, eat. So my rookie year, I was running with a lot of bad weight on me. This year, I feel like I’m doing what got me drafted.”

Williams added another sack and six pressures to his preseason resume on Monday night. He, along with Za’Darius Smith, Tyus Bowser, Willie Henry, Michael Pierce and Zach Seiler are thriving in coordinator Martindale’s hyper aggressive scheme. These six young pass rushers combined for five tackles behind the line and seven quarterback hits against Indianapolis.