Baltimore Ravens fear RB Gus Edwards, CB Marcus Peters have torn ACLs, sources say - Jamison Hensley
This continues a horrid run of injuries for Baltimore and delivers a major blow to the Ravens’ Super Bowl aspirations.
Ty’Son Williams, a practice player from a year ago who doesn’t have an NFL carry, becomes the Ravens’ lead back. The other two running backs on the roster — Trenton Cannon and Le’Veon Bell (practice squad) — only started practicing with the Ravens on Wednesday.
The Ravens are also signing free-agent running back Devonta Freeman to their practice squad on Thursday, his agent, Drew Rosenhaus, told Schefter. It is expected that Freeman will be promoted to the active roster.
The loss of Peters would represent the most significant injury to the defense this year. The Ravens have depth at cornerback, but it will be difficult to replace Peters’ playmaking ability. His 31 interceptions leads the NFL since he entered the league in 2015.
Since Peters was traded to Baltimore in Week 9 of 2019, the Ravens have allowed the fewest yards per pass attempt (6.1) and tied for the second-fewest touchdown passes allowed (31), according to ESPN Stats & Information research.
While the likes of Justin Jefferson, CeeDee Lamb, Tee Higgins, Brandon Aiyuk and Chase Claypool looked like burgeoning NFL stars, Ruggs’ career got off to a relatively mundane start in Las Vegas. He caught only 26 passes as Las Vegas opted to use him exclusively as a deep threat. Ruggs’ 17.3-yard average depth of target ranked second among wide receivers with at least 40 targets in 2020.
It will be interesting to see whether that usage changes in 2021. The Raiders need more out of Ruggs, but this is about as tough a matchup to start the season as he’ll see against Humphrey and Peters — both of whom are top-10 outside cornerbacks entering the season.
Biggest storyline: Baltimore’s passing offense needs to get back on track
The Ravens still fielded an elite rushing offense in 2020. That will likely be the case as long as Lamar Jackson is in his athletic prime and starting at quarterback for Baltimore. But the passing offense did take a noticeable step back last year from 2019. They dropped from third to 19th in average yards per dropback. There is blame for that decline to spread around between Jackson, Greg Roman, an offensive line that allowed more pressure in 2020 and an uninspiring receiving corps.
Ravens Will Face A Challenge From Raiders Overhauled Defense - Todd Karpovich
One of the Raiders’ main priorities this offseason was strengthening the defense.
They finished in the bottom third of key defensive categories last season: 25th in total defense (389.1 yards per game); 25th against the pass (263.3 ypg) and 24th against the run (125.8).
The Raiders also ranked 30th in giving up 29.9 points per game.
As a result, the team boosted its defensive line by signing defensive tackles Solomon Thomas, Quinton Jefferson, Darius Philon and Gerald McCoy, a six-time Pro Bowler who has not played since 2019.
This is a different opponent, [and] it’s a new year. Nothing counts,” Harbaugh said. “You can’t look back; you have to look forward. We just have to get ourselves ready to play this game against a very good Raiders team. They have an established program.
“They’re very physical up front on both sides. You can see that; that’s what they want to be. They have speed. They have a veteran quarterback. They have a new defensive system. They have a very good special teams coordinator, and all those things go into play that we’re trying to take into account.”
Week 1 NFL game picks: Buccaneers top Cowboys; Bills start 1-0 - Gregg Rosenthal
Baltimore Ravens @ Las Vegas Raiders
It’s surprising to see the Ravens as this big a road favorite after such a brutal month. It’s an even bigger surprise to see so many total points expected between two teams looking to grind the football into dust. The Ravens’ passing attack has had very few reps together this year, while the Raiders’ defense almost can’t help but improve as a result of their personnel additions and change to coordinator Gus Bradley. That all sets up for a tight, low-scoring game where I want to pick the Raiders straight up but don’t have the courage.
Ravens defensive end Derek Wolfe remains out at practice with what coach John Harbaugh said Thursday was a “lingering-type” injury.
Wolfe suffered an apparent back injury in the team’s joint practices against the Carolina Panthers in mid-August but returned to practice later in training camp. He’s now been sidelined for two-plus weeks, threatening his availability for Monday’s season opener against the Las Vegas Raiders.
Ravens tight end Nick Boyle missed his second straight practice Thursday, dimming the chances that he’ll play in the team’s opener. But cornerback Jimmy Smith continues to work his way back from an early-August ankle injury, practicing again Thursday.
“We’ll see,” Harbaugh said of Smith’s chances for playing Monday. “He started out there yesterday. We’ll see how he looks today and tomorrow as the practices ramp up a little bit in intensity.”