Humphrey was targeted on four straight plays during 11-on-11 drills Tuesday and he broke up every one. There was a slant across the middle to Devin Duvernay, then a double on longer throws intended for Sammy Watkins down the sideline, and lastly one more shot to Jaylon Moore.
Humphrey wasn’t the only cornerback who had a good day. Anthony Averett was superb in coverage, including one play where he nearly wrestled an interception away from James Proche II. Averett continues to show that he is a starting-caliber player.
The Ravens secondary was coming up and putting some thuds on receivers, and it was good to see that from Marcus Peters when he broke up a throw in 7-on-7 work. Safety Chuck Clark had a good pop on Proche to break up a pass too.
Clark did let one get over his head, however, on the first play of an 11-on-11 drill when Lamar Jackson lofted a perfect pass to Watkins for what would have been a long touchdown.
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Cornerback Khalil Dorsey appeared to sustain an upper-body injury when he got tangled up with Gray while making a play on the ball.
Running back pass protection and blitz pickup have been a focus in recent practices. Tuesday’s session started with one-on-ones between backs and linebackers. Justice Hill did well to win his first matchup and then had a stalemate with Patrick Queen. L.J. Fort had his way with Gus Edwards on his first rep.
The pads were back on and it made for a pretty spirited practice. Inside linebacker Malik Harrison created an audible thud when he filled a gap and met running back Ty’Son Williams in the hole. Nose tackle Aaron Crawfordslung down Hill by the shoulder area. Derek Wolfe beat rookie left guard Ben Cleveland to stop a running back for no gain.
Tight end Mark Andrews has the most reliable hands on the team, but he dropped several passes Tuesday. He made several circus catches Monday, but also dropped a few passes in that practice as well.
Left guard Ben Powers pulled around right end and cleanly worked into the secondary to make a block on a running play Tuesday. Now, that doesn’t sound like much, but this offensive line hasn’t shown a lot of quickness and speed thus far in training camp.
It was a good moment. Also, the Ravens were without injured center Bradley Bozeman on Tuesday, but Trystan Colon filled in and did a nice job. He got into a little pushing match with defensive tackle Broderick Washington in a pass protection drill, but that was the result of two players being aggressive and trying to make a name for themselves.
As for right tackle Alejandro Villanueva, he has been solid the past two practices but always looks stiff and injured even though the Ravens haven’t reported anything wrong with him.
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Stanley is the smoothest pass protector in the entire NFL, as he’s rarely ever out of balance. The one-time All-Pro hadn’t given up a single sack in 20 starts since 2019 before a season-ending ankle injury in Week 8 of last season. He looks to pick up where he left off before his injury to help a Ravens offense that ranked 19th overall in 2020 get back on track.
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I don’t know what the 2021 season will bring, but I’m pretty sure no team will run more than the Ravens – even taking into account their determination to accelerate their passing game.
I’m also pretty sure no team will run more effectively than the Ravens, who’ve averaged 5.53 yards per carry over the past two seasons, easily besting the 4.36 league average.
If anything, the Ravens hope to bludgeon opponents with it even more in 2021. They did a year ago with a makeshift offensive line that wasn’t always great, as the coaches tried to satisfy three running backs – a tough chore that got in the way at times.
A year later, they’ve overhauled their O-line with big dudes such as tackle Alejandro Villanueva, guard Kevin Zeitler and rookie guard Ben Cleveland. The idea is to better protect Jackson when he drops back, but also, do a better job of opening holes for backs.
Meanwhile, the picture at running back is all cleared up. J.K. Dobbins is the starter, with many predicting he’ll have a huge season. Gus Edwards is the strong No. 2, with a new contract in hand after three years of consistent production.
Jackson, the key to it all, is aiming for his third straight 1,000-yard rushing season. No quarterback had ever run for 1,000 in two straight, let alone three.
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4. Lamar Jackson, QB, Baltimore Ravens
The Ravens didn’t make a huge splash at wide receiver this offseason, but the supporting cast around Jackson will look a lot different. Baltimore is potentially looking at three new starters on the offensive line. The Ravens signed Sammy Watkins and drafted Rashod Bateman. They hope that will be enough to get the offense to rebound after it fell from first to 11th in efficiency from 2019 to 2020.
As for Jackson, there were times last year when it felt like he and his wide receivers didn’t know each other. Overall, though, he still completed 64.4 percent of his passes, averaged 7.3 yards per attempt and finished seventh in QBR (in large part because of his elite scrambling). Entering year four, Jackson will focus on developing into a more consistent passer who can find answers when the Ravens need him to win with his arm.