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Ravens News 8/19: Sorting Out WR and more

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

Ravens left guard battle: How three contenders stack up as deadline nears - Jonas Shaffer

The healthy contender

Phillips, not Powers, was the Ravens’ first choice at left guard last season. But he played just 29 snaps in Week 1 against the Las Vegas Raiders before being carted off with a knee injury.

“I think he’s doing a really good job in moving in pass protection, back and forth, punching really well, not getting bulled,” Harbaugh said. “He’s done a good job with that. The run game’s been pretty athletic. You know, he’s a guard more than he is a tackle, but it’s good to have a guy like that can get you out of a jam, get you through a game at tackle, if you need it. So I credit him for that, but he’s done well. He’s not out of the competition by any stretch.”

The slow-starting dark horse

Phillips played a team-high 67 snaps Thursday, but part of that workload came at tackle. Cleveland, meanwhile, played 54 snaps, all at guard — on the right side in the first half, then the left side in the second half. Offensive coordinator Greg Roman liked what he saw at both spots.

“He’s pretty ambidextrous like that,” he said Sunday. “It doesn’t really bother him, moving sides. So I thought he did really well, took another step. [He] continues to improve, and you can see that he can make a difference with his size and strength on some of those runs. He does a nice job. He has really good potential, and he just has to work every day to get there. But I think that Thursday night was a really great first step for him.”

Steven Means Is Grateful for Second Chance With Ravens - Clifton Brown

Means is back in Baltimore hoping to earn a roster spot, and his good karma with the Ravens is showing. He had a strong preseason opener against the Titans with three tackles, and his most impressive play was a sack of Malik Willis when Means roared around the edge to blindside Tennessee’s elusive quarterback.

Means could earn a role in the mold of long-time Ravens linebacker Pernell McPhee, who also had two stints with Baltimore (2011-14 and 2019-21). Means and McPhee have similar body types (they’re the exact same size at 6-foot-3, 269 pounds) and are strong, physical players who are adept at setting the edge. Being compared to McPhee is a compliment in Means’ book.

“I was here with ‘Phee’. That’s my guy; he’s a real good dude,” Means said. “I’m here anywhere they need me. I told them, ‘I’ll put my hand in the dirt at nose, three-technique, five, set the edge or rush.’ So, it’s just trying to show them that I can really do all those things like I’ve been doing in my past.”

Odafe Oweh and Justin Houston are heathy and ready to go, and second-year outside linebacker Daelin Hayes is competing to earn a role. Means knows his roster spot is not guaranteed, but he’s not backing down from the competition. Last year in Atlanta, Means started 14 games and made a career-high 43 tackles. He’s started 25 games the past two years.

Stock up, stock down for offensive rookies after NFL preseason Week 1 - Michael Renner


Tight end is one of those positions where you can see the players who have “it” right away. By “it,” we mean the movement skills and dynamism to actually feature at some point in an offense. There just aren’t a ton of human beings measuring in at 6-foot-3-plus and 240-plus pounds who look natural running in space. Likely is one of them. He caught all four of his targets for 44 yards and broke three tackles on only 17 pass routes. Likely looks like the perfect TE2 for the Ravens’ offense.

How Will Every NFL Offense Perform in 2022? - Sheil Kapadia

14. Baltimore Ravens

Let’s try to bring some nuance to the Lamar Jackson conversation and look at how he’s actually performed. If we isolate just passing plays (but still include sacks and scrambles), Jackson ranks 13th out of 40 qualifying quarterbacks in EPA per play over the last three seasons. Throw in Jackson’s unmatched running ability, and he’s performed like a top-10 quarterback.

Having said that, the Ravens offense has stretches where it appears as though the players have never met before. The Ravens’ passing game struggled against man coverage and against the blitz last year. Among 31 quarterbacks who had at least 100 snaps against the blitz, Jackson ranked 29th in EPA per play.

There are reasons to believe in a Ravens rebound. Jackson missed five games last year because of an ankle injury and a non-COVID illness, and the Ravens overall had the most-injured offense in the NFL, according to AGL. Even then, they finished 16th in offensive efficiency. Jackson and the run game give Baltimore a high floor. But the wide receiver corps is thin and unproven, and the Ravens have to prove they can find answers to the issues that plagued them last year.

2022 NFL Preseason, Week 2: One thing to watch for from all 32 teams - Eric Edholm

Baltimore Ravens AT Arizona Cardinals

The Ravens have suddenly been hit by injuries at wide receiver. Rashod Bateman, James Proche and Devin Duvernay — arguably the team’s best three wideouts — did not play in last week’s preseason opener against Tennessee. Tylan Wallace and two longer shots to make the team, undrafted Slade Bolden and USFL vet Bailey Gaither, all got hurt last week, putting the Ravens in a tough spot at receiver versus the Titans. Yet UDFAs Shemar Bridges, Makai Polk, Raleigh Webb, Binjimen Victor and Jaylon Moore all made plays last week, which was a good sign. Maybe one or two could land on the opening 53-man roster if the Ravens don’t make a move for a veteran wideout. This game could be crucial for sorting out that position.