One of the biggest uses of the preseason is to gauge how the rookies are adapting to NFL-level talent. Week 1 of the preseason is the first time these rookies see another team in an NFL jersey. After going against their own teammates during OTAs, minicamp and the first couple of weeks of training camp, you know they are dying to see some new competition.
Here’s how the Ravens’ 2022 rookies faired in their first week of action.
The No. 14 overall pick didn’t waste any time making noise in front of his home crowd at M&T Bank Stadium. On the first play of the second drive, Hamilton recovered a fumble forced by linebacker Malik Harrison. The turnover quickly resulted in the Ravens’ first score of the year via a Mike Davis touchdown run.
Hamilton was in on a couple of plays afterward and wound up near the ball regularly. He was inches away from a red zone sack before Titans quarterback Malik Willis slipped away. He showed impressive closing speed and sideline-to-sideline awareness as shown in the clip below.
Kyle Hamilton’s closing speed is special (via @blaiden) pic.twitter.com/tuoVB5Sia7— NFL Rookie Watch (@NFLRookieWatxh) August 12, 2022
While the stat sheet won’t show it, Jones’ presence was felt. He was a constant nuisance for the Titan's offense. He continually clogged running lanes up the middle, standing offensive lineman up and shedding them to the side to get in on tackles. He put Titans’ quarterback Malik Willis in flight mode all night, collapsing the pocket and forcing him to move.
Jones showed high-end athleticism, chasing the mobile Willis to the sideline before securing a field goal drive-killing sack with little time left in the second quarter. He ended the night with two tackles and a sack.
First NFL sack for @bigtrav76 !— Baltimore Ravens (@Ravens) August 12, 2022
Tune in on WBAL! pic.twitter.com/FEfUsdbcXJ
Another fan favorite due to his behemoth and unnatural size, Faalele is viewed as a project. His role this season is likely to be limited to being the sixth man in jumbo packages, as there’s more polished offensive tackles in front of him. Offensive line play is always hard to make judgments off of the TV broadcast but there were some things to pick up.
You could see Faalele pave his way well in the run game, bullying defenders out of the way. That was to be expected coming out of college. The question is going to be about his pass blocking. While he did look stiff sometimes throughout the night, his name wasn’t mentioned for giving up a sack or pressure. He had an impressive stunt pickup that led to great downfield play late in the game.
Faalele and Cleveland picked up some stunts really well. Line held up for a great contested catch from Bridges. https://t.co/hpuLazGSco— Z.J. (@Purp_BlackVeins) August 12, 2022
Few teams value special teams like the Ravens do. A lot of attention and emphasis has gone into how Stout will pick up where Sam Koch left off, both as a punter and holder for Justin Tucker. If this game was any indication, the Ravens have nothing to worry about.
Stout boomed balls off his cleat, sending moonshots that hung in the air forever. He averaged 47.8 yards a punt on four punts with one inside the 20 and a long of 56 yards. He also blasted kickoffs, sending one just short of going through the uprights. He and Justin Tucker were perfect on the night, going 3/3 on field goals, including a long 47-yarder.
Jordan stout with the casual 5.1+ Hang time punt— Isaac_Punts (@IsaacPunts) August 11, 2022
smooth transition in the punting department. pic.twitter.com/mHTDaziJzd
The training camp highlight machine had a ton of momentum coming into the first game. It seemed as though Likely’s name has been mentioned every day for making some sort of play during practice.
He started off quickly in this game with some shake and bake on the first touchdown drive. After catching a pass in the flat, he made at least two defenders miss while getting the first down. He also made a ridiculous contested catch later in the second quarter. Likely did get called for multiple holding calls, eliminating a pair of first-down runs — which is something that will have to be worked on in practice. He ended the night with 44 yards on four catches.
Isaiah Likely vs Titans (Preseason) | 08/11/22 pic.twitter.com/Dcq3TOxBwk— (@SimplyAS10) August 12, 2022
Damarion “Pepe” Williams
Pepe Williams has already become a fan favorite. His high energy and antics have quickly flocked attention. On the first drive of this game, he almost boosted his popularity to another level. Williams beautifully jumped an out-route and had open grass in front of him. Unfortunately, the ball dropped out of his hands before he could start turning his first interception into a touchdown.
Williams had a quiet night overall afterward, spending some time at safety in the second half.
You ain’t gonna get a better walk in TD, Pepe. pic.twitter.com/C5NEuYn2bH— Kip Smithers (@Chughes612) August 11, 2022
Badie had one of the quieter nights amongst the rookies. While he received the most carries out of all the backs, he averaged the lowest yards per carry among them. He rushed for only 19 yards on six carries for a 3.2 yard average. He did look impressive on his one reception, totaling nine yards.
Overall, Badie did show some explosiveness and juice but had a rough night rushing the ball. He handled kickoff return duties from the start of the game, turning two returns into 46 combined yards.
Shemar Bridges is an undrafted free agent rookie out of Fort Valley State. After a slightly above-average camp, he firmly cemented himself in the wide receiver discussion tonight. He is now ion the up-and-up to grabbing a roster spot.
Bridges totaled 62 yards on four catches and made contested catch after contested catch. With second-year wideout Tylan Wallace suffering a knee sprain and no other solidified depth behind receivers Rashod Bateman, James Proche, and Devin Duvernay, there's at least one spot wide open. Bridges may have closed that gap tonight.
Shemar Bridges went ⬆️ up ⬆️ and got it for the touchdown.— The Athletic NFL (@TheAthleticNFL) August 12, 2022
The lob from Tyler Huntley
@NFL | @Ravens pic.twitter.com/UgIjizJ01s
Polk is UDFA wide receiver from Mississippi State who’s had a quiet training camp so far. He made sure to remind the coaches that Bridges isn’t the only rookie wide receiver they’ve got around. Polk put together a solid six-catch, 43-yard night including this falling grab along the sideline.
Anthony Brown dropping it in for Makai Polk for a sweet grab creating some rookie magic. pic.twitter.com/VEa6p5IX81— Seven Rounds in Heaven (@7RoundsInHeaven) August 12, 2022
A UDFA quarterback out of Oregon, it’s a very uphill battle for Brown battling against Tyler Huntley. More than likely, he’s hoping to find a spot on the practice squad or to make a name for himself to find a backup job somewhere else. Brown completed 10 of 15 passes for 117 yards along with two rushes for 14 yards. It was nothing spectacular but he helped close out the win for the Ravens.