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Ravens News 2/23: All Set at RB and more

Baltimore Ravens v Tennessee Titans Photo by Frederick Breedon/Getty Images

After injury-marred 2021 season, Ravens hire new head athletic trainer - Jonas Shaffer

Tennessee Titans director of physical therapy and sports rehabilitation Adrian Dixon was named the team’s new head athletic trainer Tuesday. Dixon, who last year won Assistant Athletic Trainer of the Year honors from the Professional Football Athletic Trainers Society, will oversee the Ravens’ evaluation and treatment of player injuries and illnesses, injury-prevention protocols, rehab protocols and the team’s athletic trainers and physical therapists.

Dixon replaces Ron Medlin, who will transition into a new role on the athletic training staff ahead of his 12th season in Baltimore. Medlin was named the head athletic trainer in 2018 after the retirement of Mark Smith.

Ravens Have Some Ground to Make Up - John Eisenberg

The Ravens played most teams tough, but it’s a bottom-line business and they went just 1-7 against teams that made the playoffs. The other guys in the Super Bowl, the Cincinnati Bengals, hammered them twice.

Heading into 2022, I think you’re going to be hearing a lot about how the Ravens are nicely set up for a bounce-back season. They should be getting back a lot of talented players who weren’t on the field due to injuries in 2021. Their last-place finish means they’ll pick higher than usual in the draft and face an easier schedule.

It makes sense, and dramatic swings in fortune are a common occurrence in the NFL; the Bengals won just four games the year before they went to the Super Bowl.

Ravens Could Welcome Back A Key Pass Rusher - Todd Karpovich

The Ravens need to boost the pass rush this offseason after finishing in the bottom third of the league for sacks last year.

The answer might lie with a player already familiar with the franchise.

The Ravens could consider bringing back Za’Darius Smith, who will likely become a salary-cap casualty with the Green Bay Packers.

Smith, who was a fourth-round pick by the Ravens in 2015, also priced himself out of Baltimore in 2019 after finishing with 18.5 sacks over four seasons. He signed a four-year, $66 million deal with the Green Bay Packers, including a $20 million signing bonus as a free agent.

He managed 26 sacks in his first two seasons but dealt with injuries last year. The Packers need to cut salary this offseason and Smith has a $27.7 million cap hit this season.

2022 NFL free agency: Possible franchise tag players for every team as window opens to retain key players - Jeff Kerr

Baltimore Ravens

Potential franchise tag player: DeShon Elliott (S)

The Ravens don’t have too many candidates who deserve the franchise tag, but Elliott would be the player to use it on if necessary. Elliott played just six games this past season before going on injured reserve with a biceps and pectoral injury, recording 23 tackles, a sack and two passes defended with an interception in just six games.

Baltimore can get Elliott for cheaper, but he’s an impact player when healthy (placed on injured reserve in three of his four seasons). In his healthy season (2020), Elliott started all 16 games and recorded 80 tackles with 2.5 sacks and four passes defensed — and allowed just 58.1% of passes thrown his way to be completed as the primary defender (73.7 rating).

The Ravens may pass on using the tag this year, even if they are $8,768,345 under the cap.

2022 NFL offseason: All 32 teams’ RB situations ahead of free agency, draft - Kevin Patra

All set

Baltimore Ravens

Top RBs under contract for 2022: J.K. Dobbins, Gus Edwards, Justice Hill

Key free agents: Latavius Murray (UFA), Devonta Freeman (UFA), Ty’Son Williams (ERFA)

The Ravens entered 2021 with what looked like a deep backfield before injuries cleaned their clock. Dobbins, Edwards and Hill all suffered season-ending injuries before the first game. Woof. And still, with a patchwork group of aging backs, the Ravens managed to finish in the top three in rushing, thanks to QBs Lamar Jackson (767 rushing yards) and Tyler Huntley (294). If Dobbins, Edwards and Hill return healthy as expected, the backfield should be set. Dobbins was in for a huge workload before his ACL tear. If he’s healthy — a big if, as always — he’d slide right back into that role alongside Jackson. The Ravens could keep one of their free-agent veterans around in case rehabs go sideways, but that would be merely as an insurance plan.