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Ravens X-Factor: Patrick Ricard is built to maul the Lions

NFL: Baltimore Ravens at Las Vegas Raiders Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

In response to a woeful showing from the offensive line in Week 1, Ravens Offensive Coordinator Greg Roman opted to utilize his fullback, second tight end and/or sixth offensive lineman on a majority of snaps in Week 2. The extra blocking assistance paid dividends, Baltimore averaged 6.1 yards per carry, limited the Chiefs to a single sack and engineered a comeback victory over Kansas City.

Pro Bowl fullback Patrick Ricard was integral to the win. His 48 snaps trailed only Sammy Watkins, Mark Andrews and Marquise Brown among skill position players. His run blocking paved the way for several successful rushes, his pass protection helped Patrick Mekari and Alejandro Villanueva preserve the pocket, and he converted a third down on the ground with a fourth quarter dive.

Roman should devise another gameplan that deploys additional blockers in Week 3. Detroit’s secondary is lacking but Dan Campbell’s team does boast talented front-7 defenders. Rookie nose tackle Alim McNeil is supported by near Raven Michael Brockers on the defensive line. Former All-Pro linebacker Jamie Collins, edge defenders Trey Flowers, Charles Harris and the Okwara brothers headline the second level of the Lions 3-4 front.

Detroit recorded seven quarterback hits and three sacks against Green Bay’s shorthanded offensive line on Monday night. Defensive Coordinator Aaron Glenn will likely stack the box and blitz his linebackers in an effort to stifle Baltimore’s potent rushing attack. Ricard’s prowess as a lead blocker, pre-snap motion man and pass catcher out of the backfield will be valuable.

Perhaps equally important is Ricard’s tone setting disposition. Heading to Detroit as heavy favorites for an early afternoon kickoff following an exhilarating primetime game, the Ravens risk beginning the game flat. Whether pancaking defenders, blocking through the whistle or dropping his shoulder after the catch, Ricard’s imposing physicality can invigorate the offense.

While the individual matchups and trends point to a comfortable Ravens victory, Week 3 is a classic trap game spot. Fortunately, Ricard’s blocking skill and violent play style should help Baltimore avoid a letdown in the Motor City.