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Ravens News 6/12: State of the Franchise and more

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Divisional Round - Tennessee Titans v Baltimore Ravens Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images

State of the Franchise: Lamar Jackson, Ravens ready to level up? - Adam Rank

The 2020 roadmap

The competitive urgency index is: EXTREMELY HIGH. You can’t go into the season with a top-five-ish coach, the reigning MVP and an offseason addition like Campbell without thinking your ultimate goal should be the Super Bowl. Nobody is on the hot seat. Nobody is going to be fired. But anything less than a trip to the Super Bowl is going to feel like a letdown.

Will the Ravens be able to ...

Rally when they fall behind? Lamar is my dude. Make no mistake about that. And nobody can run the ball like Lamar (he had 14 games with at least 40 rushing yards; no other quarterback came close) and the Ravens — which is great when everything is going well. But what happens when they fall behind? Will they be able to throw the football? This was a fear going into the playoffs, and indeed, when the Titans jumped out to a 14-0 lead, Baltimore struggled to catch up, while Jackson dropped to 0-2 in the postseason with a passer rating of 68.3.

Find somebody to step up at wide receiver? You already know how I feel about Hollywood Brown, and I really love rookie receiver Devin Duvernay, a speedster out of Texas who, like Brown, can really stretch the field. But the Ravens still could use a chain-moving receiver who can catch those intermediate passes for those times when the team is behind and opponents aren’t forced to stack the box — say, a Julian Edelman type.

How Baltimore Ravens’ four veteran newcomers fit onto the team - Aaron Kasinitz

D.J. Fluker

While Wolfe will likely use training camp to try to edge out younger teammates for playing time, Fluker could find himself in a straight-up competition for a starting job. Offensive linemen don’t typically rotate on and off the field like their defensive counterparts.

The Ravens need to decide on their best mix of starters for 2020, and they’ll enter training camp with a bevy of options — and little clarity — on the interior of the offensive line. Bradley Bozeman is the one player locked into the starting lineup at guard or center, but he isn’t tied down to a particular position, coach John Harbaugh said last month. Bozeman started at left guard for the Ravens last season and thrived as a center in college.

Matt Skura would be the starting center if he were at full health. After he tore three knee ligaments in November, there’s no certainty Skura will be ready to play by Week 1.

Then there’s a host of young players also in the mix to start at guard or center, from second-year pros Patrick Mekari and Ben Powers to mid-round rookies Tyre Phillips and Ben Bredeson to several undrafted rookies. Fluker enters the fold as the one experienced option.

The Ravens agreed to sign Fluker in April after the Seahawks cut him. A former first-round pick who’s started 88 games over seven NFL seasons, Fluker will probably arrive at training camp as the favorite to replace the retiring Pro Bowler Marshal Yanda at right guard.

Mailbag: NFL’s Top Five Defenses to Watch in 2020 - Albert Breer

Ravens: The Ravens had a tough month to start last season, by their standards, but tightened up once they got an experienced middle linebacker (Josh Bynes) in to fill the void left by C.J. Mosley. This year? Bynes is gone, and they could be starting two rookie ’backers. The good news is the secondary is off the charts and the front should be fearsome.

Robert Griffin III Is Speaking Up And Doesn’t Plan to Stop - Clifton Brown

“My message would be, ‘You want to be on the right side of history,’’’ Griffin said. “This moment’s going to be in the history books. You want your kids and your kids’ kids to say, ‘My grandfather was part of the change. He spoke up when it was time to speak up.’ I’m asking white teammates to speak up. What’s their stake in the game? Their stake is being a good human being.

“The general rule has always been, ‘Don’t speak up because you’re going to expose yourself to criticism.’ But are you willing speak up for human rights? This isn’t a black-white issue. This is about human decency. If we as a country say we’re going to provide liberty and justice for all, then we should provide it.”