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Ravens News 8/18: Defensive Leap and more

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Tennessee Titans v Baltimore Ravens Photo by Scott Taetsch/Getty Images

Practice Report: Marcus Williams Closes Camp With Two Interceptions - Clifton Brown

Williams had two interceptions and any quarterback throwing the ball in his direction took a chance. His first pick came off Lamar Jackson, who was trying to connect with Mark Andrews on a deep pass. Williams wasn’t having it and stepped in front of Andrews to make the play.

Late in practice, Williams intercepted No. 3 quarterback Anthony Brown during a 7-on-7 drill. Playing deep centerfield, Williams ranged far to his right to make a leaping interception, and he stuck the landing by coming down with both feet inbounds.

Williams’ ability to make game-changing plays is a major reason the Ravens signed him during free agency. During his five seasons with the Saints, Williams had 15 career interceptions and earned a reputation as one of the NFL’s best ballhawks. Each week, Williams has looked more comfortable in the Ravens’ system, allowing him to play with more freedom.

“You’re not thinking, you’re just reacting - obviously that’s what you go for,” Head Coach John Harbaugh said. “He can cover some ground, you saw that today.”

Inside linebacker Patrick Queen had another excellent day in pass coverage. The highlight was a one-handed interception he made during a one-on-one drill, after he stayed stride-for-stride with Justice Hill before making the play.

Ravens training camp observations on offense’s frustrating day, Marcus Williams highlights and more - Childs Walker

During his last series of training camp in Owings Mills, Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson saw one of his passes batted down by Calais Campbell, another intercepted by safety Marcus Williams and a third fall far from intended target Shemar Bridges, who never turned his head to look for the ball.

This frustrating sequence was a fitting cap to an out-of-sync Wednesday for the Ravens offense, which has appeared far from midseason form during recent practices. Jackson threw high or wide on several attempts during 11-on-11 drills and was on a different page than his receiver several other times.

“‘It’s a padded day today. The No. 1s are going against the No. 1s; you’ve got to remember that … so it’s going to be challenging,” coach John Harbaugh said. “It’s going to be challenging. There’s going to be some push up front. There’s going to be guys covering tight. It’s one of those camp practices that’s a little more challenging. It’s going to be competitive that way; it’s not going to look pretty all the time.”

Ravens observations: Left guard still up for grabs; Lamar Jackson won’t play Sunday - Jeff Zrebiec

In a perfect world, the Ravens may have settled on their starting left guard by now. Yet, that’s not how training camp has played out, and coach John Harbaugh acknowledged after Wednesday’s workout that the Ravens may not decide on their starter at the position until after the preseason finale against the Washington Commanders on Aug. 27.

“We still have two more games. We still have a good week and a half — a good week — of practice left after this game, then a little bit into the next week,” Harbaugh said. “So, I would like to think by the third preseason game, after the Commanders game, we’ll kind of know.”

Left guard, though, has been a legitimate competition with both Ben Powers and Tyre Phillips getting first-team reps throughout training camp. Ben Cleveland, a third-round pick in 2021, has seemingly never gotten himself into the mix for the job after he missed the first week of training camp because he couldn’t pass the conditioning test.

Earlier this summer, offensive coordinator Greg Roman labeled Powers the frontrunner. Harbaugh acknowledged Wednesday that Powers has been the “most consistent” left guard in camp, but he didn’t dismiss Phillips’ candidacy for the job or the fact that the final two preseason games will have a large role in deciding the competition.

Predicting How Every NFL Defense Will Perform in 2022 - Sheil Kapadia

1. Baltimore Ravens

Explaining their struggles from last year—the Ravens ranked 28th in efficiency—is pretty simple: They were decimated by injuries, and they were schematically predictable. The defense finished 31st in AGL, and the Ravens had the most-injured secondary in the NFL. That was a disastrous formula for a group whose identity was to blitz and play man coverage.

This offseason, John Harbaugh replaced defensive coordinator Don Martindale with Mike Macdonald. The goal is to be more varied and be more flexible—essentially, to be able to find different answers for different problems.

The Ravens have talent. They finished in the top 10 in DVOA for five consecutive seasons prior to 2021. Baltimore signed safety Marcus Williams and nose tackle Michael Pierce in free agency; they brought back veteran defensive lineman Calais Campbell and edge defender Justin Houston; and they used the 14th pick on safety Kyle Hamilton and the 76th pick on defensive tackle Travis Jones.

Add it all up—better injury luck, better talent, more flexibility—and I see a defense that’s likely to make the biggest leap of any on this list.

10 potential trade candidates before Week 1 of the 2022 NFL season: Landing spots, projected trade value and more - Brad Spielberger

Wide Receivers


Projected trade value: 2023 sixth-round pick

Team fits: Baltimore Ravens, Chicago Bears, Indianapolis Colts, Tennessee Titans

Slayton burst onto the scene as a rookie in 2019 with eight touchdown receptions and a 15.4 yards per reception average, a top-25 mark at wide receiver. Since then, he has moved in the wrong direction on the depth chart and now finds himself behind a collection of guys including Kenny Golladay, Kadarius Toney, rookie Wan’Dale Robinson and eventually Sterling Shepard when he returns from injury.

Slayton has one year remaining on an elevated salary of $2.54 million.


Projected trade value: 2024 sixth-round pick

Team fits: Chicago Bears, Dallas Cowboys, Detroit Lions, Green Bay Packers

After using a second-round pick on Mims in 2020, the Jets followed that up by using an even earlier second-round pick the following year on wide receiver Elijah Moore and then took wide receiver Garrett Wilson with the No. 10 overall pick in this year’s draft. Clearly, the Jets don’t view Mims as a starter in 11 personnel for this team, and he very well may be on the roster bubble.