Breaking down the Ravens’ roster bubble: Who is gaining ground, losing it and whose status is unchanged? - Jeff Zrebiec
Chris Westry, CB: Like Cain, Westry would still likely be on the outside if the Ravens had to turn in their 53-man roster today. However, the 6-foot-4 corner has played his way into the mix. With the team’s well-documented injury history at the position, Westry is suddenly a guy to watch if the organization decides to keep around an extra corner.
Jaylon Ferguson, OLB: Ferguson is playing with a lot of energy and he’s raised his level in recent days. Still, he’s probably sixth on the outside linebacker depth chart after the signing of Justin Houston and the Ravens would prefer not keeping that many.
Eli Wolf, TE: Wolf has had some good days in camp and looks much more prepared physically to handle tight end responsibilities. He just hasn’t been as consistent or dynamic enough at this point to mount a serious run at the No. 3 tight end job.
James Proche II continued his strong camp, making a nice over-the-shoulder catch in the corner of the end zone after getting a step on Chuck Clark. Even after Proche made the play, Pass Game Coordinator Keith Williams quickly approached to offer some pointers on technique, but the second-year wide receiver is making plays on a daily basis.
Second-year safety Geno Stone was around the football a lot and closed quickly during his reps. The Ravens’ secondary is stacked with talent, making it difficult for a young player like Stone to crack through. However he’s playing faster than he did as a rookie.
Even with first-round pick Rashod Bateman (hamstring) missing another practice, the Ravens rookie class had more strong moments. Outside linebacker Odafe Oweh was hard to move when setting the edge. The physicality of offensive lineman Ben Cleveland showed up during padded practices this week, and Brandon Stephens continues to look comfortable playing safety.
Houston pointed to Wink Martindale’s scheme as the deciding factor with the opportunity for more one-on-one matchups to pressure quarterbacks. “I wanted to go somewhere where I’d know I’d have fun and I’d enjoy the scheme and [be] able to show my talents.” It’ll be fun seeing how he fits.
Even with Brown, Bateman, and Miles Boykin missing extensive time, Tylan Wallace has been fairly quiet and had an up-and-down Saturday with a couple contested catches in seven-on-seven drills followed by a drop in a full-team two-minute situation. Jackson targeting him a few times was a good sign at least.
Josh Oliver probably remains the default favorite for the No. 3 tight end spot, but he and the rest of the group behind Andrews have looked more like inventory than real depth to this point. Both Oliver and Eli Wolf have their moments, but they need to show more consistency.
50 Words or Less - John Eisenberg
That sound you heard Friday was sighs of relief from the Ravens when they learned Jimmy Smith suffered “only” a low ankle sprain in practice, not something worse. With his size, Smith is being counted on to cover tight ends as much as possible. He’ll be missed while he’s out.
Wide receiver Deon Cain is taking advantage of the key absences at his position. He is tall and fast, a natural deep threat with a different skillset from those ahead of him on the depth chart. Right now, it doesn’t appear there’s a place for him. But things can change.
Keep your eyes on rookie safety Brandon Stephens. Several times this week, I heard coaches temper their excitement for him with the observation that he is just getting started and still has some learning and developing to do. OK. But he is smooth, physical and fast, which you can’t teach.
Baltimore Ravens · QB
The former MVP is on the fast track to Canton, knocking down records and piling up wins as an electrifying playmaker. Jackson is the first quarterback in NFL history with multiple 1,000-yard rushing seasons, and he is the first player to log 5,000 passing yards and 2,500 rushing yards in the first three years of a career. In addition, in his spectacular MVP campaign of 2019, Jackson joined Hall of Famer Steve Young and Cam Newton as the only quarterbacks in NFL history to produce at least 35 passing touchdowns and seven rushing scores in a single season (Josh Allen followed suit last season). Considering the Ravens have reached the postseason in three straight seasons under Jackson while the QB has compiled a 30-7 regular-season record, the fourth-year pro is in prime position to make a run at a gold jacket.
TIER 2: ON THE VERGE
Arguably the most unique offense in the NFL, the Ravens system has been built around the singular freakishness of Lamar Jackson as an athlete and playmaker. Only the Chiefs generated more EPA per play than the Baltimore Ravens last year, and this was while the passing attack lost its way and stagnated compared to the season before.
Baltimore then went and added receivers in the shape of Sammy Watkins and then first-round rookie Rashod Bateman, as well as made some remedial repairs to the offensive line. We should expect this offense to be formidable once again in 2021.