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Ravens News 7/22: Lewis on PUP, blitz DVOA and more

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NFL: Baltimore Ravens at Carolina Panthers Jeremy Brevard-USA TODAY Sports

Baltimore Ravens put Michael Pierce on non-football injury list, Alex Lewis on PUP - Aaron Kasinitz

Baltimore Ravens defensive tackle Michael Pierce experienced another offseason setback Friday when the team placed him on the non-football injury (NFI) list, according to the NFL transaction wire.

Pierce, like all of his teammates, must pass the conditioning test before Harbaugh allows him to participate in training camp.

The Ravens also put offensive guard Alex Lewis, who’s recovering from shoulder surgery, on the physically unable to perform (PUP) list.

Pressure by Number of Pass Rushers, 2018 - Scott Spratt

I mentioned in my previous article that the Ravens really ramped up their blitzing in 2019, increasing from 26.4 percent to a league-leading 39.0 percent. One would assume that strategic change would follow an inability to generate pressure with a four-man rush, but that wasn’t the case for the Ravens. They finished top-10 in both pressure rate and DVOA when they didn’t blitz.

The Ravens’ pivot from Joe Flacco to Lamar Jackson at quarterback set off radical changes to the team’s strategy and effectiveness that reverberated to the defensive side with differences in typical play totals and game scripts. But from the first half of last season to the second, the Ravens didn’t change their frequency of four-man rushes or blitzes. And with both strategies, the team enjoyed similar 10- to 15-percent improvements in their pressure rates and 25- to 30-percent improvements in their defensive DVOA after their Week 10 bye.

Training Camp Position Breakdown: Safety - Clifton Brown

Best Battle

DeShon Elliott and Chuck Clark are two young safeties battling for more playing time. Clark filled in well last season when Jefferson was out with an ankle injury, including an interception off MVP Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes. Elliott was a standout during OTAs and minicamps this spring, making several impressive interceptions and showing his range. Elliott missed his rookie season in 2018 with a broken forearm, but it’s clear he’s back to 100 percent and has playmaking ability. Thomas and Jefferson are established as the starters, but both are veteran players who may benefit from having occasional breaks. The Ravens will also use a variety of defensive packages, which gives Elliott and Clark a chance to play more if they show they’re ready.

NFL’s 2019 bounce-back candidates; ‘Madden’ ratings debates - Bucky Brooks

Earl Thomas, S, Baltimore Ravens:The six-time Pro Bowl safety was the centerpiece of the “Legion of Boom” in Seattle, but now he gets a chance to further boost his brand as the game’s premier ballhawk in Baltimore. Thomas’ range, instincts and awareness add another dimension to the Ravens’ coverage in an ultra-aggressive defense. If Thomas can quickly master the nuances of Don Martindale’s exotic-blitzing scheme, he’ll feast on errant throws forced from a multi-faceted pass rush.

Offensive Line Rankings and Fantasy Football Impact (2019) - Mike Tagliere

15. Baltimore Ravens

The rookie season for the highly-questioned Orlando Brown went well, as now he and Ronnie Stanley make for a solid duo on the edges. Marshal Yanda is still playing at a high level on the interior, but Alex Lewis and Matt Skura are below-average starters. They’ll be run-blocking quite a bit with Lamar Jackson under center, which was a good thing last year, as they ranked 13th when they created 1.58 yards before contact for their running backs. All starters will be returning, which should help. This is a slightly above average unit.