Sammy Watkins ready to steady Ravens’ WRs, boost Lamar Jackson - Jeffri Chadiha
The effectiveness of new wide receiver Sammy Watkins will have plenty to do with how much this passing game evolves, as well. That’s a topic that tends to get lost in all the talk about Jackson’s current issues with COVID-19: This is the year when the people around him ultimately determine whether he becomes a Super Bowl champion.
“I was the oldest guy in the receivers’ room in Kansas City, and I’m bringing that same thing here,” Watkins said. “We’re going to be unselfish. We’re going to play for each other. We’re going to try not to have egos involved. We feel like this group is young, but we want the best for each other. If we can keep that mentality all throughout the season, this receiver group can be one of the best in the league.”
“I honestly feel like I’m going to have one of my best years,” Watkins said. “I’m lifting the weights. I have great coaches coaching me. And my mentality is totally different. I’m trying to get the ball on every play. In Kansas City, I looked at it like, ‘I’ll play my role. Let me open Tyreek Hill up. Let me open Travis Kelce up.’ Now it’s like I’m not worried about getting somebody else open. I’m thinking, ‘I’m going to beat this dude and get the ball.’ “
“Today, it was a big-time third-down situational practice, which gives the advantage to the defense, and that plays right to our sweet spot,” Defensive Coordinator Wink Martindale said.
“First two days in pads – I’m really pleased with where we’re at right now. Like I said before we got into pads, I said, ‘Wait until we get in pads,’ and I like what I see. It’s just demonstrating that physicality, especially for the younger guys.”
Deon Cain continued to make plays, including a long catch against Humphrey during 7-on-7s. Cain also had a nice catch in traffic over the middle during red-zone work. He’s taken advantage of the increased reps.
Running back Justice Hill sometimes gets overlooked in the Ravens backfield considering the other talents in his group, but when he gets to the edge, watch out. Hill looks to be in great shape and he can be used creatively. Baltimore is certainly no stranger to finding reps for three running backs.
Huntley showed good touch on a touchdown throw to the back corner of the end zone for James Proche II in red-zone drills. Huntley’s deep ball has been consistently impressive and accurate.
Ravens training camp observations on more defensive dominance, LB Patrick Queen and more - Mike Preston
Rookie defensive end/outside linebacker Odafe Oweh consistently beat right offensive tackle Alejandro Villanueva on pass rush situations, and he didn’t even use a move but simply ran around Villanueva. Outside linebacker Tyus Bower did the same to left offensive tackle Andre Smith. Inside, the Ravens had no one who could contain defensive end Calais Campbell and at times defensive tackle/end Justin Madubuike.
Besides Stanley, Patrick Mekari might be the second-best tackle on the team, even though his is listed as a guard/center. He certainly is one of the team’s smartest linemen.
Trystan Colon, a backup center, has also played well and can play guard if needed.
Queen, the 2020 top pick out of LSU, had problems shedding blocks when teams ran straight at him and also in pass coverage. But after a week into training camp, Queen is playing with more confidence and flying to the ball.
Ravens Training Camp Notebook Day 7: Secondary Dominates - Todd Karpovich
Cornerback Khalil Dorsey put a hit on tight end, Eli Wolf, just as the ball arrived and it sailed into the hands of safety DeShon Elliott, who scored on the play. “I wish he had a little tighter coverage on the tight end but good recovery,” Ravens defensive coordinator Don Martindale said about Dorsey.
Cornerback Marlon Humphrey is already in midseason form. He managed an interception against backup quarterback Tyler Huntley and knocked down a couple of passes. Humphrey has also taken on a more vocal role in the defense.
Cornerback Anthony Averett has been solid in coverage throughout camp, and in one instance, completely locked down wide receiver Jaylon Moore. Averett also had an interception.
Defensive back Nigel Warrior suffered a leg injury that initially called for a stretcher. Warrior, however, was able to walk back to the locker room.
Last season: 9th
The Ravens’ philosophy under defensive coordinator Don Martindale has been consistent: play man coverage and send pressure. Baltimore blitzed at the highest rate (45.5 percent) in the league last year, but the numbers suggest Martindale might not need to be quite so aggressive. Only three teams saw a bigger dip in performance (EPA per play) when comparing plays when they blitzed to the ones when they rushed four or fewer.
The Ravens lost edge defenders Matt Judon and Yannick Ngakoue in free agency but were patient and eventually landed veteran Justin Houston. The team also spent a first-round pick on high-upside pass rusher Odafe Oweh. They’ll count on second-year player Patrick Queen to make a leap at linebacker after a shaky first season.
Baltimore has one of the league’s best cornerback groups with Marlon Humphrey, Marcus Peters and Tavon Young. Martindale’s defenses have finished in the top 10 for three consecutive seasons, and there’s enough talent for the Ravens to be good once again.