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Ravens News 8/21: An acceptable stopgap and more

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NFL: Baltimore Ravens-Training Camp Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

FLUKER MIGHT JUST BE STOPGAP RAVENS NEED AT RIGHT GUARD - Luke Jones

Ideally, a young lineman such as Ben Powers, Tyre Phillips, or Ben Bredeson would step in at Yanda’s old right guard spot and never look back, but Fluker might just be an acceptable stopgap, especially considering the absence of the normal offseason program that’s so critical for the development of young offensive linemen. The 29-year-old Fluker has never lived up to his 2013 first-round billing, but he didn’t squander his time at home this spring and summer, estimating he’s lost 10 pounds and, more importantly, reduced his body fat from 44 percent to 22 percent since last year.

“This is a big guy, and it’s all muscle,” head coach John Harbaugh said. “You saw the body [composition] stuff there that he put out. And he’s moving very well. I’m really impressed with him. He’s done a great job. His attitude has been excellent. His work ethic, we had heard it was good, and I would say it’s been better than good. It’s been an A, A-plus.”

Expectations should be realistic for someone who graded 51st among 83 qualified guards last season, according to Pro Football Focus. Fluker is now with his fourth NFL team and was released by Seattle after the Seahawks selected LSU’s Damien Lewis in the third round of April’s draft. The 6-foot-5, 342-pound veteran has made 88 starts in his NFL career, but his addition was more about raising an inexperienced position group’s floor than boosting its ceiling.

Fluker couldn’t ask for a better situation on a one-year, $1.075 million deal as he joins a Super Bowl contender and record-setting offense led by reigning MVP Lamar Jackson, whose generational athleticism alone makes the offensive line better. There are also University of Alabama ties in Baltimore from executive vice president and former general manager Ozzie Newsome to starting left guard Bradley Bozeman, who already had a small relationship with Fluker from attending Alabama football camps in high school years ago.

Commentary: Ravens should take a chance on Dez Bryant - Todd Karpovich

Bryant could potentially provide a wealth of experience to an otherwise young group of playmakers on Baltimore’s roster.

There are many critics who contend the Ravens should not take a chance on upsetting the team’s chemistry. Bryant is known for his outspoken nature and butted heads with a few coaches during his time in Dallas.

However, players generally only become distractions when the team is losing. Bryant’s swagger would gel with the Ravens, who enter the 2020 season as one of the Super-Bowl favorites.

Bryant could be the final piece of the puzzle.

What all 32 NFL teams need from their quarterbacks in 2020 - Anthony Treash

BALTIMORE RAVENS: LAMAR JACKSON WINNING WITH HIS ARM IN COME-FROM-BEHIND SCENARIOS

Lamar Jackson had one of the biggest sophomore breakouts we have ever seen. He raised his 58.6 PFF grade as a rookie in 2018 to 91.1 in 2019, tying for the third-best mark in the NFL. We saw a big improvement in both facets of play, but particularly with his passing. That said, there was one area in which Jackson significantly struggled last year — one that could be the team’s Achilles’ heel in 2020, as PFF’s Sam Monson highlighted: Playing from behind.

Jackson didn’t have to do it often last year, but when he did, he performed poorly. His passing grade on such instances ranked just 26th in the NFL. Of course, he does damage on the ground, but Jackson has yet to prove he can deliver when teams know he has to pass to make up a deficit.

NFL backup quarterback rankings: Where do rookies slot in? - Gregg Rosenthal

20. Robert Griffin III

Baltimore Ravens · 8th year

After missing all of 2015 following a preseason concussion and being out the league entirely in 2017, it’s an upset that RG3 wound up outlasting Andrew Luck. The limited sample size Griffin has shown in regular-season action in Baltimore, however, hasn’t been great.

Who Will Be the NFL’s Next Dynasty? - Jenny Vrentas

2. Baltimore Ravens

Lamar Jackson and the Ravens are first focused on getting over the hump of winning a playoff game together. But nothing about the season Jackson had, or the Ravens’ commitment to building a paradigm-shifting offense around him, suggests that it was a fluke. The Ravens have been unafraid to make Jackson the centerpiece of both their passing and rushing attacks, and the shiftiness inherent to Jackson’s game eases questions of the approach’s long-term sustainability. In addition to Jackson’s ability, safety Earl Thomas pointed out in January that the Ravens’ respected roster-building approach gave him confidence that they were building the organization’s next iteration of a winner (this move hadn’t happened when Thomas spoke, but Baltimore’s trading a fifth-round pick for Calais Campbell certainly falls into that category). “I don’t want to get too far ahead of myself, but just taking time to step back, I feel like they’re putting the core guys together right now,” Thomas said then. “I know what it looks like, and I didn’t recognize it at first in Seattle. So, to be going through it a second time, I understand it now.”