Here are six takeaways from Thursday’s preseason action.
The Hype is Likely to Grow
Rookie tight end Isaiah Likely has been a significant story throughout OTAs and training camp, and the hype will only continue to grow after a strong showing in his first live-game outing. The fourth-round pick out of Coastal Carolina caught four passes for 44 yards, including an impressive contested grab over a defender. Likely also displayed elusiveness after the catch by shaking a defender to pick up the first down. Baltimore looks to have hit on a small-school prospect to pair with All-Pro tight end Mark Andrews.
Likely will have to continue to work on his blocking, however, as two holding penalties led to stalled drives.
Shemar Bridges Puts On a Show
Competition for the No. 5 wide receiver spot behind Rashod Bateman, Devin Duvernay, James Proche, and Tylan Wallace is one of the bigger storylines to follow for the Ravens this preseason. Undrafted rookie Shemar Bridges may have gained some momentary separation for himself in the competition after his performance against the Titans. The 6-foot-4 receiver led the team with 62 receiving yards and a touchdown on the night. Bridges displayed his ability to use his big body to come down with the football as he made a pair of highlight-reel snags over defenders.
Baltimore is in need of a big-bodied target for quarterback Lamar Jackson on the perimeter. Bridges could provide just that if he continues to perform as such throughout the remainder of the preseason.
That Is One Stout Leg
Rookie punter Jordan Stout made his anticipated debut on Thursday night and did not disappoint. Drafted in the fourth round to replace longtime punter Sam Koch, Stout has quite the shoes to fill. Against Tennessee, the former Nittany Lion displayed his astounding leg strength on multiple punts, as evidenced by several long hangtimes after booming the ball high in the air.
Stout also handled holding duties on field goals with zero issues — an area of trepidation considering that Koch has held for Justin Tucker his entire career.
Steven Means Makes His Case
With multiple players returning from injuries at the outside linebacker position, Baltimore needs a player to step up and earn a spot in the rotation. Veteran Steven Means looked the part against the Titans. He notched a sack while pressuring the quarterback on various other plays. Means’ experience is in his favor and a strong preseason could help him land on the final roster.
Strong Performance For the Offensive Line
One of the biggest determining factors for the Ravens’ 2022 season is how much the offensive line can bounce back from a poor season a year ago. While only one presumed starter played against Tennessee, the strength of the depth along the offensive line was apparent. Ja’Waun James looked capable of manning the left tackle position if Ronnie Stanley is not ready to start the season. Rookie Daniel Faalele showed promise for the future at right tackle. Tyre Phillips and Ben Cleveland also made strong impressions at left guard.
Running Back Position Looks Much Improved
Another position group that is looking to take a big leap from last season is running back, where Baltimore was decimated by injuries before the 2021 season even started. While the top two running backs, J.K. Dobbins and Gus Edwards, did not play on Thursday, it was already clear how much better the unit should be this season. Veteran free agent acquisition Mike Davis scored the first touchdown of the game and looked prime for a role to start the season. Fourth-year running back Justice Hill looked explosive in his return from a season-ending Achilles injury a year ago. Second-year running back Nate McCrary showed off his speed with the longest run of the night.