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Ravens News 3/29: Training Adjustments and more

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Baltimore Ravens v Denver Broncos Photo by Dustin Bradford/Getty Images

NFL Free Agency 2022 Winners and Losers - Mike Tanier

Baltimore Ravens

Improved Roster: C-

Used Resources Well: C+

Coherent Plan: C

Overall Grade: C

Za’Darius Smith wriggling free before they could haul him into the boat was a big loss for the Ravens. Most of their other moves have been roughly lateral: center Bradley Bozeman for tackle Morgan Moses, safety Marcus Williams for cornerback Anthony Averett. There are also lots of older in-house free agents in the wind at press time (Calais Campbell, Jimmy Smith, Brandon Williams, etc.). A few will likely return, but the Ravens won’t be able to afford many.

The Ravens hope to get much better by getting much healthier in 2022, and they are keeping a little bit of money carved out in case Lamar Jackson gets around to emailing them about an extension. Unfortunately, the rest of the division and conference isn’t exactly waiting around for a bunch of running backs to rehab or for Jackson to crack the spine on Contract Negotiations 101. Like the Patriots, the Ravens are stuck in second gear in an Autobahn conference.

NFL Power Rankings 2022: Post-free agency 1-32 poll, plus predicting next offseason move for each team - Jamison Hensley

12. Baltimore Ravens

Way-too-early ranking: 12

Next offseason move: Add a pass-rusher

Finding a proven pass-rusher remains a huge need since Za’Darius Smith backed out of his four-year, $35 million deal on March 17 and then signed with the Vikings. The Ravens’ current top two outside linebackers — Odafe Oweh and Tyus Bowser — are coming off offseason surgeries and have a combined 22.5 career sacks. It’s been a void in Baltimore for a while; the team hasn’t had a player reach double-digit sacks in a season since Terrell Suggs in 2017. The Ravens have to land an edge rusher who can get to the likes of Deshaun Watson and Joe Burrow.

2022 NFL Draft: Examining the most pressing needs for every AFC team after free agency moves - Josh Edwards

Ravens: Linebacker

Edge rusher may receive priority after the situation with Za’Darius Smith, but linebacker may be more important to the coming season. They have Patrick Queen and Malik Harrison who could develop and remove all doubt, but it is unclear how long Baltimore is willing to allow that to happen. It has been sniffing around about Bobby Wagner, and that would be a tremendous addition in free agency. He would serve as a mentor for those young players while providing the level of desired play in the meantime.

John Harbaugh Plans Adjustments to OTA’s and Training Camp - Clifton Brown

After injuries made the 2021 season one of the most challenging in Ravens history, Head Coach John Harbaugh said Monday that there will be adjustments made to OTA’s and training camp.

“We’ve changed a lot of what we’re doing,” Harbaugh said. “We’re going to approach OTAs differently. We’re going to approach training camp, some big-picture scheduling differently in terms of the way we ramp and in terms of the way we time practices, how long we’re on the field and what we’re doing on the field and how we pace the rhythm of the practices.

“We think we have some really good ideas and I’m excited about it. It’s priority one, for sure, along with being really good and making sure we put a good team on the field and we’re prepared. So I’m excited to see how it works out. But, in the end, you just got to go through it and see what happens.”

Every third day of training camp will have a different format compared to previous years.

“It’ll be a little bit shorter, a little more execution-oriented, less competitive-type of practice,” Harbaugh said. “Even our practices will go less ones against ones than we have done in the past. Things like that, I think, will help us.”

Ravens’ John Harbaugh discusses Lamar Jackson’s contract, injury prevention in 2022 and free agency - Jeff Zrebiec

The Ravens have been quiet on the free-agent market in recent days and Harbaugh acknowledged that the team is limited in cap space and has to weigh the impact of every move on other potential acquisitions. He confirmed the team’s interest in former Seattle Seahawks middle linebacker Bobby Wagner, who had a free-agent visit with the team last week.

“We never really comment on who’s visited or hasn’t visited and those kinds of things in free agency, but Bobby Wagner’s out there. We’re looking at everybody,” Harbaugh said. “I can’t sit here and say we’re not talking about or to Bobby Wagner. We’ll see what happens with that and other things we’re working on right now. I mean, one thing about Eric — Eric and (Ozzie Newsome), both, and all of our guys — they work at it. So we’ll see what happens.”

Harbaugh also mentioned that the Ravens are still talking to defensive end Calais Campbell and outside linebacker Justin Houston about potential returns. Harbaugh cited inside linebacker, edge and interior pass rusher, cornerback and a pass-catching tight end as positions the Ravens are targeting, whether it’s in free agency or in next month’s draft.

One free agent the Ravens apparently aren’t bidding on is former Cleveland Browns center J.C. Tretter. While the Ravens lost starting center Bradley Bozeman in free agency, Harbaugh sounded like a coach who is plenty comfortable with the team’s internal options at the position. Patrick Mekari and Trystan Colon have both started games over the past two seasons.

2022 NFL Draft: ‘Trust The Tape’ prospects who shouldn’t be overlooked despite lacking elite athletic traits - Chris Trapasso

Jeremy Ruckert, TE, Ohio State

No tight end possesses Ruckert’s blend of blocking prowess, suddenness as a route runner, ball skills down the seam and YAC abilities. Ruckert has all the makings of being a much better, more productive professional than he was at Ohio State.