The Ravens Defense Is Stacked - John Eisenberg
They re-signed Tyus Bowser and Pernell McPhee. They drafted Odafe Oweh and Daelin Hayes. Jaylon Ferguson is back for his third season. Houston was the final puzzle piece, a shiny one; he is a four-time Pro Bowl selection with 97.5 career sacks. At 32, he is still pressuring quarterbacks, having registered at least eight sacks in each of the past four seasons.
In any case, now that the pass rush is fully addressed, I’m not sure Martindale would willingly make many changes to the defense.
Yes, he probably wishes his young inside linebackers were more experienced in pass coverage. Opponents will attack there. I’m sure he wishes his D-line was younger for the purposes of being less susceptible to injury. I’m sure he hopes to see his safeties force more takeaways.
The defensive front led by Calais Campbell and Justin Madubuike gained consistent traction against the Ravens’ patchwork offensive line in both the run and the pass. Had tackling the quarterback been allowed, Campbell would have probably had at least three sacks.
Even without full contact, Madubuike has been in the Ravens’ backfield a lot and has been one of the defensive standouts since training camp began.
“The guy’s a stout dude,” center Bradley Bozeman said after practice. “He’s one of the harder people I’ve ever had to move on defense.”
Newly signed outside linebacker Justin Houston has yet to take the field as he works through the NFL’s COVID-protocol intake process, but rookie edge rusher Odafe Oweh again looked disruptive with his speed, and the offense struggled in most team periods.
MASON, FERGUSON TUSSLE: With the pads on, the intensity picked up notably, and rookie fullback Ben Mason got into a couple of scuffles. Linebacker Jaylon Ferguson appeared to throw a couple of punches at Mason after one play, and a couple of plays later, Mason and linebacker Patrick Queen had to be separated.
Ravens Training Camp Notebook Day 6: Pads On, Intensity Up - Todd Karpovich
“It’s the first day of pads – there’s good [and] there’s not good,” coach John Harbaugh said. “I thought for the most part, we were pad under pad, we were square, we were playing with our hands. Fundamentally pretty sound. You can tell first day, [there were] not too many guys on the ground. That’s an indication that guys are playing pretty good technique. From there we’ll watch the tape and see what we learn from it.”
Wide receiver Deon Cain has made plays throughout the offseason and continues to make an argument for the final roster. In the padded practice, he had a long reception against Pro-Bowl cornerback Marlon Humphrey. Cain was also the most impressive wide receiver at the Ravens voluntary practices. Cain caught several passes in traffic and hauled in a touchdown in the corner of the end zone. He is a player to watch.
Rookie guard Ben Cleveland had his best day of practice as he competes for a starting job. Cleveland did well blocking fellow rookie Odafe Oweh and knocked safety Antony Levine back on another drill. Cleveland, selected by the Ravens in the third round (94th overall) of the 2021 NFL Draft, has impressive size — 6-foot-6, 343-pounds — and comes from a solid college program at Georgia.
Speaking of McSorley, he had a good day in 11-on-11 work, specifically finding receivers uncovering underneath. Baltimore’s offense stumbled during the two-minute drill portion of practice, however.
Inside linebacker Chris Board is a big man who is violent coming downhill, and it was especially apparent in pads. As part of the Ravens’ rotation last year, Board showed he can be a forceful and effective blitzer. He’s also one of the team’s best special teamers. Queen also exploded into the flats and would have had a huge hit on an outside swing pass. His speed to the ball is so impressive that there was an audible gasp from the Ravens sideline when he met the running back.
Rookie first-round pick Rashod Bateman returned to practice after missing one day with muscle tightness and had a nifty grab over the middle with Humphrey all over him. Bateman also showed his savvy when he uncovered to find a soft spot in the zone as McSorley was under duress.
The Ravens’ revolving door on offense continued as one projected starter on the offensive line sat out practice Tuesday and another left early with an injury.
Free-agent acquisition Alejandro Villanueva, expected to start at right tackle, was absent from the team’s first padded practice in training camp. Ravens coach John Harbaugh said the 32-year-old was given a vet day.
Kevin Zeitler, whom the team signed to start at right guard, left practice early with what Harbaugh said was a foot injury. Harbaugh added the injury is not believed to be serious.
Offensive line coach Joe D’Alessandris said the team would continue to put players such as Phillips and Patrick Mekari at multiple positions as they wait for the starting unit to come together.
12. Baltimore Ravens
Last year: 11th
At times last season, it felt like the Ravens’ offense was a complete disaster incapable of picking up a first down, let alone scoring a touchdown. But zooming out, they were slightly above-average statistically. A big reason for that was the run game, which ranked third in efficiency and figures to stay in that range as long as Lamar Jackson is the quarterback.
The Ravens shuffled their offensive line, trading Orlando Brown Jr. and signing guard Kevin Zeitler and right tackle Alejandro Villanueva. To make a Super Bowl run, the Ravens need more consistency from their passing game, which ranked 17th in efficiency. They signed Sammy Watkins and drafted Rashod Bateman in the first round.
Because of Jackson’s scrambling ability, the Ravens know they’re going to face a high percentage of zone coverage. Offensive coordinator Greg Roman needs to give Jackson answers, and Jackson needs to continue to improve his accuracy for the Ravens’ offense to take a step forward from where it was a year ago.