Five Things We Learned from the Ravens’ offseason workouts - Childs Walker
The Ravens will trust in the awesome stature and proven professionalism of their revamped offensive line.
With 6-foot-9, 320-pound Alejandro Villanueva protecting the right edge, 6-foot-6, 357-pound rookie Ben Cleveland competing for the left guard job and 6-foot-5, 325-pound Bradley Bozeman calling out signals from center, All-Pro left tackle Ronnie Stanley might feel like the small guy in the room when he returns from the ankle injury that ended his 2020 season.
The Ravens will need more than bulk, of course, to eliminate the sour taste left by their disastrous blocking performance in a playoff loss to the Buffalo Bills. They spent the second half of last season scrambling to patch their offensive line, and DeCosta sought stability as much as raw power with his offseason moves.
Villanueva and right guard Kevin Zeitler are still getting accustomed to their new team, but they arrive with long track records of success and long lists of plaudits for their craftsmanship.
“All ball, all the time,” Harbaugh said. “Both those guys.”
Bozeman is cut from similar cloth. He wasn’t dominant in his two seasons as the team’s starting left guard, but he gave coaches little to worry about. They’re hoping he’ll bring the same dependability to center, which he considers his best position. The Ravens need such steadiness after a season of debilitating snapping woes.
They still have to settle on a starting left guard. Harbaugh and offensive coordinator Greg Roman have spoken glowingly of the mountainous Cleveland, but he’ll have to win a training camp battle against Ben Powers and Tyre Phillips, both of whom started games for the Ravens in 2020. Harbaugh predicted that competition will be a treat for hard-core fans.
The Ravens also need a swing tackle they can trust, whether it’s Phillips, versatile Patrick Mekari or one of the veterans they brought in to compete in training camp.
Asked about his injury history in April, Watkins said Baltimore would have to protect “a guy that goes 100 percent, a guy that really doesn’t know better.” Now seeing how hard he practices, there’s absolute truth to that. Some veteran rest days should be in order to keep him healthy.
Entering a contract year, Bradley Bozeman expressed confidence that center can be the position “where I kind of dominate.” Recalling how Ryan Jensen parlayed his strong 2017 campaign into a deal making him the NFL’s highest-paid center, you hope the Ravens didn’t wait too long to make this switch.
The Ravens leave spring with no significant injuries.
The first goal of every spring practice period is to avoid significant injuries, and the Ravens seem to have done that during the course of OTAs and the minicamp. The only major injury appears to have been a torn Achilles suffered by undrafted rookie defensive lineman Xavier Kelly, a longshot to make the team.
Cornerback Tavon Young and linebacker Otaro Alaka, both coming off major knee injuries, returned to the field for minicamp, taking part in individual drills, an encouraging sign that they could be ready for the regular season.
Players recovering from major injuries, including tackle Ronnie Stanley, tight end Nick Boyle, fullback Patrick Ricard and cornerback Iman Marshall, are progressing well, head coach John Harbaugh said, adding that the team will “err on the side of caution” early in training camp in terms of easing them back, but the Ravens appear to be in a pretty good place physically after this spring practice period.
Ranking NFL’s top 10 tight ends for 2021: Travis Kelce and George Kittle lead the way - Jordan Dajani
6. Mark Andrews
If Lamar Jackson didn’t have Andrews to throw to, we may think of him very differently as a quarterback. In Jackson’s MVP campaign, Andrews led the Baltimore Ravens in receiving with 852 yards and 10 touchdowns on 64 receptions. While Marquise Brown was Baltimore’s leading receiver this past season, Andrews was by far the more consistent target, and still caught 58 passes for 701 yards and seven touchdowns.
While the Ravens added some wide receivers to help Jackson in 2021, it will be up to the quarterback to accurately get them the ball. According to ESPN, Jackson ranked 19th in attempted throws 20 yards or longer downfield (45) and 24th in completion rate on those passes (37.8%) last season. We haven’t seen Jackson be able to hurt teams downfield on a consistent basis, but the versatile Andrews will always be there working the middle of the field.
‘Fruit Punch’ Isn’t Enough. Marlon Humphrey Wants More Picks - Clifton Brown
“Something I’m trying to focus on this year, going into the season, is really just trying to get the ball more, as far as interceptions,” Humphrey said. “I’ve been talking with my DB coach Chris and just trying to figure out what you’re going to take into the season to have a couple consistent things that you do.
“What Coach Chris keeps telling me is, ‘Have a gameplan when you get to the line.’ That’s something that I think I’m going to take into the season.”
“As far as OTAs, some guys come, some guys don’t, it’s an optional thing,” Humphrey said. “But for me, I just wanted to get back, get some sessions in, get with my coach, work on a couple things. It’s a long offseason, and I was ready to get to work – work with some of these guys. And so, I enjoyed it. I feel like I wanted to see how our draft picks looked, how some of the guys have been working in the offseason. It was a good OTAs and minicamp, and it was really good to see everybody all together the past two days to get some good work in.”