Top Questions Heading Into Ravens Mandatory Minicamp - Clifton Brown
Which wide receivers will continue to impress?
Veteran Willie Snead IV has looked good at OTA’s, but his role as a starting wide receiver was already locked down. The bigger question is whether the Ravens can find other consistent playmakers at the position. First-round pick Marquise Brown is still recovering from foot surgery and isn’t expected to be 100 percent until training camp. That means they’ll be plenty of reps for other receivers like third-round pick Miles Boykin, free agents Michael Floyd and Seth Roberts, and returning players Chris Moore, Jordan Lasley, and Jaleel Scott. If you’re a wide receiver looking for a roster spot or more playing time, mandatory minicamp is a good time to shine.
6 Baltimore Ravens (other than Lamar Jackson) who’ll be most interesting to watch during minicamp - Aaron Kasinitz
OLB Matt Judon/DT Michael Pierce
It’s worth grouping Judon and Pierce together because they enter the middle of June in a similar spot. The rising defensive starters are entering their fourth NFL seasons and the final years on their contracts, and they both missed all of the voluntary practices open to the media.
If Judon or Pierce sit out of minicamp, they’ll be subjected to fines. So it’s likely two of Baltimore’s best and most important defensive players will return to the fields at Under Armour Performance Center on Tuesday for the first time this offseason — and it’ll be interesting to see how they look.
Urban says Baltimore will continue to lean on Jackson’s outstanding skills as a runner, but that the team is working with him on decision-making in that aspect of his game as well. Jackson fumbled the ball 12 times in the regular season and three more times in the Ravens’ playoff loss to the Chargers.
”Huge emphasis,” Urban said of the fumble issues. “I like to call it the squeaky wheel of his game, and the squeaky wheel is getting the oil every day out here. Mistakes he’s made in terms of holding the ball, carrying the ball, we’re making sure, when it shows up in practice, that it’s pointed out and worked on.”
The Best NFL Free Agents Still on the Market - Danny Kelly
DE Nick Perry
Perry’s career seemed to be ascending after he posted 11 sacks in 2016, and the former first-round pick inked a five-year, $59 million contract extension to stay in Green Bay following that performance. But that deal guaranteed Perry just $18.5 million, and after struggling badly in performance and with injuries last season (when he grabbed 1.5 sacks in nine games), the team released him.
The Ravens, who lost Terrell Suggs and Za’Darius Smith during the offseason, could also be a fit, and the Bills could definitely use more depth behind Jerry Hughes and Trent Murphy.
In Praise of ... the Format and Size of the NFL Playoffs - Jonathan Jones
I think we take for granted the simple perfection of the NFL playoffs—the four division winners, the two wild cards, the first-round byes and the re-seeding after each round couldn’t be better. There’s never been a consideration to make each matchup a series, because that would be insane, and there’s no fixed bracket system, which is yet another genius stroke. It adds intrigue to the wild-card weekend while not giving the team with the first-round bye too great of an advantage. I love that the two teams who earned a bye get a week of rest and that the No. 1 seed draws the lowest remaining seed. The 16-game regular season is difficult enough, and you should be properly rewarded for being the best in your conference.
Some people take issue with seeding a division winner with a lesser record above a wild-card team with a better record. In 2010 that happened with the 7–9 Seahawks hosting a playoff game and again with the 7-8-1 Panthers in 2014 hosting the 11–5 Cardinals. First of all, if you were that good you should have won your division. If you start giving out home games to second-place division finishers then it takes away from the true division champ also getting a home game. Additionally—and I’m not saying it about the 2010 NFC West or ’14 NFC South necessarily—a division can be so dominant top-to-bottom that a .500 season could prove how difficult the division was to win in the first place.