Press Conference Roundup: One notable quote from each NFL team’s OTA and mandatory minicamp media sessions - Ben Cooper
NOTABLE OTA QUOTE — WR Sammy Watkins: “I’ve played in numerous offenses, but this one is very complex. It’s a lot of motion, a lot of moving around. [Offensive coordinator Greg Roman] can put you in a lot of different places. And honestly, I’m learning from the young guys right now. They’re kind of helping me, putting me in certain spots.”
ANALYSIS: Sammy Watkins’ Chiefs utilized motion or shifts on 63.5% of their offensive plays in 2020. Meanwhile, the Ravens did so 71.2% of the time — ranking second to only the San Francisco 49ers.
Offensive coordinator Greg Roman has tailored his offense to quarterback Lamar Jackson’s skill set, which means the run game is king in Baltimore. Watkins doesn’t seem too concerned about that, though — he’s seen 150-plus run-blocking snaps in six of his seven NFL seasons. “If we have to run the ball 25 times a game, that’s what we have to do,” he said.
NOTABLE MINICAMP QUOTE — QB Lamar Jackson: “All the QBs and the receivers, we been getting together and trying to make [the deep ball] a big emphasis for us this year. People always say we throw short, intermediate routes and stuff like that — little 5-yard, 10-yard routes. We had some chances last year, and we hit some of them, but we just trying to be more consistent this year.”
ANALYSIS: The Ravens threw 20-plus yards on 13.6% of their passing plays in 2020, good for the fifth-highest rate in the NFL. Yet, their 7.19 yards per pass attempt ranked just 18th.
The consistency on downfield throws simply wasn’t there, as Jackson points out. He completed 42.3% of his deep attempts after adjusting for drops, a mark that slotted him into 21st place out of 33 qualifying signal-callers. Baltimore added wide receivers Sammy Watkins, Rashod Bateman and Tylan Wallace, among others, to help combat the problem, but it’s up to Jackson to remedy those accuracy difficulties.
NFL’s make-or-break players (and coaches) who could determine their team’s fate this season - Jason La Canfora
Ravens: Bradley Bozeman All the talk about receivers and that need, and you forget the team didn’t have a center who could actually snap the ball regularly a year ago, leading to Lamar Jackson’s season-ending concussion in the playoffs. Bozeman was a strong center at Alabama and if he solidifies the interior of the line as expected, the offense could make big gains.
Sophomore snub: Baltimore Ravens’ J.K. Dobbins driven to show he belongs among best - Jamison Hensley
“You know that chip on my shoulder is pretty big,” Dobbins said. “Just a little fuel, like PFF ranking me 26th … I don’t think I’m 26th, but I love that. That gives me room to improve. I’ve got people to prove wrong.”
“He’s someone that we’re counting on highly,” Ravens coach John Harbaugh said. “So, J.K. should take a big step this year in terms of every aspect of his game. So, I’m looking for him to be a difference-maker for us.”
“I think a lot of people overlook mental strength,” Dobbins said. “The NFL season is a long season, especially for a rookie. It’s different than college; you play a lot of games. And mentally, you have to be ready. You have to be on point with your mental, because if you’re not, then your body, none of that’s going to work. I feel like I’ve been learning this offseason to have my mental ready, body ready, all of that. I feel like I’m locked and loaded.”
Second-Year Ravens Are a Reminder to Temper Expectations for Rookies - John Eisenberg
Across the board, the rookies of 2020 are in better shape, more experienced, more mature, and I’d wager several nickels on them having more impact in 2021.
It’s wise to keep that in mind when setting expectations for this year’s rookies.
In many cases, they may be more helpful to the Ravens down the line, in the future, as opposed to immediately.
The Ravens would love Oweh to emerge as a dangerous pass rusher, but stepping in and immediately getting the best of elite offensive tackles is a challenge; he might be more useful as a run stopper in the short term.
They’d love to see Cleveland emerge at left guard; his mountainous presence seemingly could elevate the offensive line. But he’ll be competing for the job with other young players such as Ben Powers and Tyre Philips, who aren’t exactly small and have both started NFL games, including in last year’s playoffs.
It’ll be interesting to see how Wallace fares against NFL-caliber, physical press coverage, which college receivers seldom see.
Ravens will welcome fans back to training camp, take part in joint practices with Panthers - Jonas Shaffer
Starting July 28, the team will host 12 open training camp practices, as well as an open and free practice at M&T Bank Stadium on July 31. Ravens officials announced Tuesday that they expect to welcome about 1,000 fans for each practice at the Under Armour Performance Center, a reduction from 2019, when the facility could accommodate nearly 2,000 per day.
The Ravens also will participate in two joint practices with the host Carolina Panthers ahead of their Aug. 21 game at Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte, North Carolina. The Aug. 18 and Aug. 19 sessions will be held at Wofford College in Spartanburg, South Carolina. Teams were prohibited from holding joint practices or training camps outside of their home facilities in 2020.
“Joint practices have always been beneficial for our team,” Ravens coach John Harbaugh said in the release. “We appreciate the Panthers hosting us this year, and we look forward to getting in two days of quality work.”