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Ravens News 5/26: OTA Impressions and more

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SPORTS-FBN-SHAFFER-COLUMN-BZ Karl Merton Ferron/Baltimore Sun/Tribune News Service via Getty Images

Practice Report: 10 First Impressions From First Ravens OTA - Ryan Mink

The Ravens’ young wide receiver quartet didn’t have its finest day and Rashod Bateman was frustrated with some near misses. Bateman burst past Brandon Stephens on a deep pass but had the pass glance just off his fingertips. Then Bateman didn’t come down with a leaping end zone fade after he beat Marlon Humphrey with a nice move at the line. Tylan Wallace had a couple drops over the middle and James Proche II punished himself for a drop with 10 push-ups. Devin Duvernay did score a red-zone touchdown from about five yards out. It’s just one practice, but it will feed into some people’s concerns about the wide receiver unit.

Inside linebacker Patrick Queen had perhaps the play of the day with a tipped one-handed interception after one pass over the middle went through Wallace’s hands.

Justice Hill was back on the field after last year’s Achilles tear and looks very fast. Don’t forget about Hill in the running back competition with rookie Tyler Badie and free-agent veteran signee Mike Davis.

Rookie fourth-round cornerback Jalyn Armour-Davis also looked very sticky in coverage. He needs to stay on the field, but all the tools are clearly there.

Lamar Jackson missing the start of OTAs doesn’t portend doom, but it won’t help perception - Jeff Zrebiec

Fast forward four months: The Ravens entered another phase of the offseason this week with organized team activities serving as the latest opportunity to bond as a team and prepare for the 2022 season. Yet, Jackson was nowhere to be seen Tuesday or Wednesday at the Under Armour Performance Center. He didn’t take part in the offseason workout program that preceded the OTAs either and it’s unclear whether he’s been at the team facility at all since last season ended with him on the sideline dealing with an ankle injury.

This isn’t the same as a 35-year-old Campbell choosing to stay in Florida this week, when team officials would much rather give the OTA reps to young defensive linemen who need them anyway. Everything the Ravens do offensively revolves around Jackson who has a new starting center and right tackle and a cast of mostly unproven receivers. Jackson also hasn’t practiced with the team since last November.

AFC North burning questions for 2022 season: Are the Bengals a fluke? Who is Steelers starting QB? And more - Bryan DeArdo

Ravens: Is there enough help for Lamar Jackson?

Injuries certainly hurt, but a limited receiving corps also impacted Jackson, who was sidelined for the Ravens’ final five games with an injury. Jackson publicly voiced his displeasure after the team traded his top receiver, Marquise Brown, during this year’s draft.

Jackson still has tight end Mark Andrews, who earned All-Pro honors last year after pulling down 107 passes for 1,361 yards and nine touchdowns. He’ll need further production from Rashod Bateman, Devin Duvernay and James Proche, who caught a combined 95 passes and three touchdowns last season. A first-round pick in last year’s draft, Bateman started to catch on last season after missing the season’s first five games. He was especially productive in both of Baltimore’s games against Cleveland, as he caught a combined 11 of 12 targets in those contests.

Jackson will further be aided by the returns of running backs J.K. Dobbins, Gus Edwards and Justice Hill, who each suffered season-ending injuries before the start of the ‘21 season. One would hope that Baltimore’s backs will reduce Jackson’s rushing workload while saving himself from taking more hits.

This is a pivotal season for Jackson and the Ravens. If Jackson and the team thrive, a long-term deal between the two sides seems extremely likely. But if things go sideways, Jackson may try to test his worth on the open market, assuming the Ravens don’t try to franchise tag him.

Kevin Zeitler Looking To Build on Last Season’s Success With Ravens - Todd Karpovich

“The Ravens, ever since I got … The Ravens are the Ravens,” Zeitler said. “You know what to expect – hardcore, running the ball offense [and] hardcore defense that can stop anyone. Everything lived up to my expectation as I came here. Right off the bat, I could tell it was different. It’s been a lot of fun being a part of it. I’m glad that everyone accepted me when I came here. I’m excited to keep growing in these systems, this culture, and hopefully, I can even take it up to another level.”

“I am very excited to see what J.K. and Gus can do,” Zeitler said. “It’s truly unbelievable what happened way back when at the end of training camp, but I know those two guys are working hard. It’ll be really cool to see what they can do when they come back. Also, just a huge shoutout to Latavius [Murray] and Devonta [Freeman]. Coming in the way they did, the way they were able to learn the offense, the different ways they ran and how they were able to be effective was really cool getting to see them go.”

NFL’s most underappreciated players: Hunter Renfrow, Chuck Clark among AFC picks - Cynthia Frelund

Chuck Clark

S · Age: 27

Average salary per year (APY): $5.1 million (24th among safeties).

The 2017 sixth-rounder was sort of an honorable mention entrant for the Raven on this list last year, so I think I have to include him here this year, after he got even better in 2021, finishing with two picks and 12 passes defensed, both career highs. Since 2020, Clark has generated 18 pressures on 127 pass-rush snaps for a 14.2 percent rate, per Next Gen Stats. As far as defensive backs go, he’s tied for third in that span with the recently retired Malcolm Jenkins in pressures; only the SeahawksJamal Adams (35) and the DolphinsBrandon Jones (21) have more.