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Ravens News 10/1: Trusting Thomas, Elliott’s usage and more

Cleveland Browns v Baltimore Ravens Photo by Todd Olszewski/Getty Images

Defensive Notes vs Browns 09/29/19 - Ken McKusick

A possible tonic for the Ravens inability to cover the middle of the field is the quarter defense, which would include safeties patrolling both ILB spots. The Ravens didn’t do that against the Browns, but they reduced Onwuasor’s snap load to 54 of 60 snaps.

Many folks have been calling for more playing time for DeShon Elliott. He was inserted as an ILB in dime packages, but the downs and distances he played were more like those of a normal ILB instead of a pass defense specialist (like Levine). Elliott lined up to play 9 snaps (including 2 penalties, the down/distances were 1/10, 1/10, 2/10, 2/5, 1/10, 1/20, 1/20, 2/15, 3/3). He looked to be playing fast, which is what the Ravens have seen from each of their ILBs, but he should also add ball skills and coverage/pass rush flexibility.

Baltimore Ravens sign L.J. Fort, a linebacker and ‘top-level special teams player,’ Harbaugh says - Aaron Kasinitz

Fort played four games with the Philadelphia Eagles this season before the team cut him Friday. He’s suited up for 65 games with four teams since entering the NFL in 2012 and played with the Pittsburgh Steelersfrom 2015 to ‘18, serving as a special teams contributor and occasional fill-in option at inside linebacker.

“We’ve played against him quite a bit,” Harbaugh said. “He’s played middle linebacker; played the MIKE quite a bit, been a starter the Steelers on and off. Top-level special teams player.”

The Ravens placed undrafted free agent Otaro Alaka (hamstring) on injured reserve Saturday, which cleared space on the roster for Fort.

News & Notes: John Harbaugh Backs Ravens Pro Bowl Safety Earl Thomas - Clifton Brown

Baltimore’s defense is now ranked 25th in the NFL, and Thomas plays a key role in that defense after being signed to a four-year contract during free agency.

Baltimore has given up far too many big plays, allowing three plays of more than 50 yards on Sunday.

However, Harbaugh believes Thomas will become an impact player in Baltimore as he continues his transition from Seattle’s system to Baltimore’s.

“We play a little more split safety than they play,” Harbaugh said. “I think he’s getting a good feel for that. He comes down, he blitzes, he plays robber, as you put it. We plan man, he cuts routes, he’s in the middle like he was in Seattle. It’s a different defense, but it’s still football.

“He’s doing a good job. He made eight tackles yesterday. He could’ve had a few more that he’s mad about. I’m pleased with where he’s at, and to me he’s only going to get better in the system as he gets a better feel for it.”

Eagles, Browns, Chargers most promising of NFL’s 13 2-2 teams - Adam Schein

5) Baltimore Ravens

I really like the Ravens. I just think they are the second-best team in the AFC North. I really like Lamar Jackson. I just think he’s the second-best healthy quarterback in the division.

In the preseason, I had Baltimore ticketed for 9-7. One big concern I had was the defense, which lost a whole bunch of talent during the offseason to free agency. And the Ravens certainly haven’t fielded a vintage unit on D over the past two weeks.

The organization is great and the team is tough. Baltimore should end up being around the playoff bubble, at least.