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Ravens News 8/10: Secondary Depth and more

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NFL: Baltimore Ravens Minicamp Scott Taetsch-USA TODAY Sports

Ravens training camp observations on QB Lamar Jackson’s uneven day, the secondary’s depth and more - Jonas Shaffer

With a thinned defensive backfield, the Ravens got help from big names and overlooked reserves. Safety Marcus Williams, the team’s top offseason signing, broke up a red-zone pass intended for Likely in seven-on-seven work. One play later, cornerback Kevon Seymour nearly had an interception, besting Bateman easily on a throw into the back of the end zone. Rookie cornerback Damarion “Pepe” Williams helped force two incompletions in a three-plan span in an 11-on-11 drill.

Even when Jackson did connect, the gains were sometimes inconsequential. On a red-zone quick hitter to Patrick Ricard, inside linebacker Patrick Queen stopped the fullback short of the goal line, prompting a celebration by the defense. That group looked ready for Thursday; the offense, less so.

Fuller contested wide receiver Jaylon Moore on a jump ball to help deny a catch.

Wide receiver Tylan Wallace, who’s struggled somewhat in one-on-ones, won his matchup with Damarion Williams.

Safety Kyle Hamilton jammed wide receiver Makai Polk twice — once at the line of scrimmage, and again as he made his first break — leaving the undrafted rookie stumbling to the grass as his pass arrived.

Seymour shadowed Duvernay well to force an incompletion.

Wide receiver Binjimen Victor beat rookie cornerback Denzel Williams over the top on a fade, continuing his recent surge.

Practice Report: Marcus Williams Leads Strong Day for Defense - Clifton Brown

The Ravens ranked last in the NFL in pass defense last season, and Williams was signed during free agency to help strengthen Baltimore’s secondary. With each training camp practice, Williams is learning more about how he can impact the Ravens’ defense after five seasons with the Saints.

“It’s not as easy as you think,” veteran safety Tony Jefferson said. “Like I was, he was with one team prior to this. You’re used to that regimen you had over there. A bunch of new people that you don’t really know. I just try to be there for him as much as possible.”

Williams didn’t look like he needed much help Tuesday and was around the football often.

Rookie cornerback Pepe Williams went high in the air to break up a pass and continued to show good ball skills. Some young corners have trouble locating the football if their backs are turned when the pass is released, but Williams shows no panic and has played bigger than his listed 5-foot-10.

Ravens Running Backs Battle to Heat Up in Preseason Games - Todd Karpovich

“Tyler is a great back,” Hill said. “He comes to work every single day, and it’s going to be exciting to see what we all do in the preseason, especially him, too. And so, he’s a great guy, just [as] a person in general, and a great running back, as well.”

The wildcard could be Clement, who spent four seasons with the Philadelphia Eagles before signing with the Dallas Cowboys last year. He has rushed for 795 yards and seven touchdowns over his five-year career.

“A pro’s pro,” running backs coach Craig Ver Steeg said. “Some of those guys we brought in last year, just think back to them and how they handled a tough situation. He is, ‘Day One, coach put me in. Put me in all of it.’ [He] gets it, and studies at night. He knows how to adapt to an offense. So, the things he brings to the game already, you can see his power, you can see his quickness, he’s got really good pass protection ability.

“On top of that, he’s a really accomplished special teams guy in this league. So, he brings a nice veteran element to the room, and really a pro’s pro approach to preparation, which is excellent.”

One rookie to watch on every NFL team during 2022 preseason: QB Desmond Ridder, WR Treylon Burks and more - Michael Renner


The Who:

Linderbaum was PFF’s highest-graded college center in both 2021 and 2020. He’s the best center prospect we’ve seen in our eight years of college grading. While slightly undersized, he’s one heck of an athlete for the position and as good as it gets on the move.

The Why:

While Lamar Jackson took the brunt of the criticism last year, he also dealt with quite easily the worst offensive line of his young NFL career. The once dominant run-blocking unit we saw in 2019 was a shell of itself. Linderbaum could and should change that around quickly once he gets healthy.

Roquan Smith requests trade from Bears: Ravens, Broncos among top potential landing spots for All-Pro - Tyler Sullivan

1. Baltimore Ravens

While many may be overlooking Baltimore heading into 2022 due to the 8-9 campaign from a year ago, that was largely due to the onslaught of injuries they faced. Now that they’re back to full strength across the roster, this is a dark-horse team that could make some serious noise in the AFC. Offensively, they have an MVP-caliber quarterback in Lamar Jackson, and boast plenty of star power on defense, but are a bit thin at middle linebacker.

32-year-old Josh Bynes is currently in line to be the team’s starting middle linebacker after starting 12 games for them last year and re-signing with the club this offseason. Smith not only would be an instant upgrade, but he’d be an answer for them for the foreseeable future.

As an aside, Smith could also pick up the mantle left by Ray Lewis and be Baltimore’s next great middle linebacker, which is in a similar vein to what he enjoyed about playing in Chicago with their long history of linebackers. Similar to New England, however, the Ravens would need to massage their books to make this work under the salary cap.

NFL Power Rankings: Bills, Rams hold top two slots one month out from their Kickoff Game showdown - Dan Hanzus

10. Baltimore Ravens

If you close your eyes, you can picture the reaction behind the scenes at Ravens headquarters after first-round pick Tyler Linderbaum went down with a foot injury. (My vision: A collective, perfectly synchronized hand-to-forehead slap by each member of the coaching staff.) You get it, too: The 2021 Ravens had their season essentially wiped out by an injury-bug attack that reached biblical levels. The good news is that Linderbaum’s injury is being treated as a sprain, rather than a rupture, leaving open a very real possibility the promising young center is on the field in Week 1. Cut the birds a break, Football Gods.