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Ravens News 9/3: Violent Physicality and more

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NFL: Baltimore Ravens at Carolina Panthers Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports

Ravens news, notes, opinions: What roster moves are ahead and why draft Ben Mason in the first place? - Jeff Zrebiec

For Ravens officials, this is just the beginning of the roster juggling. Boykin and Bateman can come off IR in time for the Week 4 game against the Denver Broncos. If they are ready, there will have to be moves made to accommodate them. Levine has two free game-day call-ups from the practice squad before the Ravens will have to add him to the active roster, which they seem likely to do. That would require a spot. Ellis could factor in the Ravens’ Week 1 and 2 plans, especially if Derek Wolfe’s back injury keeps him sidelined for a while. Like Levine, Ellis would have to be promoted after the two game-day call-ups.

In case you missed it, the Ravens on Wednesday converted part of left tackle Ronnie Stanley’s base salary into a signing bonus, springing an additional $5.2 million of cap space. Usually, when these restructures happen, you start wondering what DeCosta has up his sleeve and why he’s looking for the space. In this case, this feels like more of a necessity to just to have the breathing room to make roster moves the rest of the way and to be able to maintain some flexibility.

That doesn’t mean the Ravens are done looking for roster upgrades. I just don’t see anything significant on the horizon. The Ravens obviously are in the market for another running back, but with Hill back practicing, they seem far more likely to add a less-heralded back to their practice squad than they do to acquire a big-name guy.

Ravens’ injury-wrecked offense same as it always was — almost totally dependent on Lamar Jackson - Adam H. Beasley

Few quarterbacks are asked to do as much as Lamar Jackson. In his two full seasons as the Baltimore Ravens’ starting quarterback, Jackson has accounted for 65.6% of the offense’s yards and 69.7% of their touchdowns.

Brown will remain the team’s deep threat after accounting for 39.3% of the team’s air targets in 2020. Watkins, signed as a free agent in the offseason, is a serviceable No. 2. But he hasn’t had 60 or more catches in a season since 2015.

There is some good news for Jackson. Tight end Mark Andrews and his career 13.5 yards-per-reception average are back. He’ll surely see a ton of targets early as the Ravens wait for Proche to develop and Bateman to get healthy.

But as a whole, it’s hard to see how the Ravens have a better group of skill position players to start the 2021 season than they did to open 2020. Furthermore, it’s even harder to see how Jackson will have to carry any less of a load now than he did then.

Ravens LB Malik Harrison excelled in the preseason. Now he’s ready to step into a leading role. - Mike Preston

“I like the violence in the guy,” Ravens linebackers coach Rob Ryan said. “Once you get around him, I found out he’s one of the most intelligent guys I’ve been fortunate enough to coach, and his athleticism — he’s fast. He wants to be a contributor and a great player on defense. He wants to be a Raven.”

“I think in most places it is teaching the physicality of the game,” Ryan said of the biggest obstacle in coaching young linebackers. “You’re an undersized guy when you are taking on a 350-pound linemen, so first you have to have the want-to to go in here and strike a big guy and then to violently go in and throw him on his face, that’s a tough thing to do.”

“He’s very physical and I just wanted him to finish more,” Ryan said after watching tape of Harrison from last season for the first time. “He does some things that just aren’t natural. He can take an offensive lineman and shove him back and do some things. I thought this guy was a piece of clay.”

“He wants to be a contributor and a great player on defense,” Ryan said. “You can see the physicality jump off the tape when you watch it, but so does his athleticism. This is a guy that’s going to be dynamic in coverage with his length, he’s going to be problems for an offense. He can play 60 snaps a game. He’s in unbelievable shape.”

Versatile Brandon Stephens Primed to Make First-Year Impact - Todd Karpovich

“I feel comfortable at each spot that Coach ‘Wink’ [defensive coordinator Don Martindale] puts me in,” Stephens said. “Whether that’s nickel, safety [or] corner, I’m just trying to prove my versatility every day. A lot of our coaches trust that I can get the job done at any place.”

Stephen flashed during training camp and the preseason games. He’s played well enough to earn reps during the regular season.

“I’ve always been confident in my skill set and what I bring to the table,” he said. “All I need is an opportunity, and I’m sure I’ll get that at some point during the season. So, once I get it, I just have to get it and run with it.”

“I feel like God put me here for a reason,” Stephens said. “This is where I was supposed to be. Being picked [No.] 104 overall, that’s where I was supposed to be picked. So, I feel like this is the best place for me. It fits my skillset, and I’m just around a great group of guys – both offense and defense.

“The guys, we just get along. It’s one big family.”

2021 NFL preseason: Highest- and lowest-graded rookies for every NFL team - Michael Renner


Highest: OT Adrian Ealy, 90.0

Lowest: Edge Odafe Oweh, 34.9

Ealy was always fighting an uphill climb to make the roster as a UDFA, and I’m unsure if there’s anything more he could have done. His 90.0 overall grade led all rookie offensive linemen this preseason, although it came on only 38 snaps. The problem was that only seven of those snaps came in pass protection, making that a big “incomplete” grade on his resume.

Oweh was always going to be a project — if you watched his tape at Penn State, this shouldn’t be too surprising. Unfortunately, the confidence simply isn’t there, and he’s not playing up to his tested athleticism. You can tell he is thinking more than he is playing football so far.