The Baltimore Ravens staved off a late comeback to beat the Arizona Cardinals 24-17, extending their preseason win streak to 22. Many players shined for the Ravens in their second preseason game and brought further clarity to who will make the team and what roles certain players could have this season. What sort of takeaways can be had from this late-night victory?
A Legit Weapon? It’s Likely
The biggest storyline from the Ravens’ win over the Cardinals was the continued dominance of rookie tight end Isaiah Likely. The fourth-rounder from Coastal Carolina turned it up another notch this week, catching eight passes for 100 yards and a touchdown. Likely will have All-Pro tight end Mark Andrews ahead of him once the regular season starts, but it has become quite obvious he will have a legitimate role in the passing attack.
With tight end Nick Boyle back on the field, the Ravens will once again have one of the league’s most dangerous tight end groups to keep defensive coordinators up at night.
The Kids Are Alright
Likely was not the only rookie to show off against the Cardinals. First-round safety Kyle Hamilton had a touchdown-saving pass deflection in the red zone. Cornerback Damarion “Pepe” Williams continued to make plays, making a strong tackle on third-down early in the game and snagging an interception later on. Defensive tackle Travis Jones wreaked havoc on opposing quarterbacks once again before exiting the game with an injury. Running back Tyler Badie caught a pass for a touchdown. Punter Jordan Stout showed off his leg once again as he pinned the ball within the five-yard line twice and flipped the field on his third punt, booming the ball 58 yards from Baltimore’s 27-yard line to Arizona’s 15-yard line.
A few undrafted rookies joined in as well as inside linebacker Josh Ross was all over the field for the second week in a row. Wide receiver Raleigh Webb caught two passes for 46 yards and a touchdown. Quarterback Anthony Brown threw two touchdowns, and outside linebacker Chuck Wiley recorded consecutive sacks on Arizona’s final drive of the game.
A Strong Night of Quarterback Play
With Lamar Jackson on the sideline, Tyler Huntley showed why he is one of the best backup quarterbacks in the NFL. Huntley was nearly perfect through the air, completing 13-of-14 passes for 129 yards and a touchdown. It is possible that the Ravens could derive value from Huntley in a trade, but having a quarterback with his capabilities as a backup to Jackson is an affordable luxury.
As previously mentioned, Brown had a solid night as well in relief of Huntley as he completed 10 of 13 passes for 91 yards and two touchdowns. His highlight of the night was a 38-yard touchdown pass to Webb. Brown did throw an interception near the end of the game, but that does not take away from his encouraging play through the first two preseason games.
Inside Linebacker Competition
The competition at inside linebacker behind starters Patrick Queen and Josh Bynes has been a topic of training camp and the preseason. Some clarity was achieved on Sunday with two players in particular, though. Malik Harrison seems to be a safe bet as the team’s third inside linebacker. Harrison made his presence felt against the Cardinals with two punishing hits at the goal line to help keep the Cardinals out of the end zone at the end of the first half. Harrison finished with five tackles and half of a sack.
The aforementioned undrafted rookie Ross followed up his excellent showing from Week 1 of the preseason with another eye-catching outing with five tackles. If Baltimore only keeps four inside linebackers on the 53-man roster, it would appear Kristian Welch could be in danger of losing his roster spot. It is worth noting that Ross played under Defensive Coordinator Mike Macdonald last season at Michigan.
The Battle for Left Guard
Another notable position battle has been for the starting left guard role. Ben Powers, Tyre Phillips, and Ben Cleveland are all in the mix as of this moment to be the Week 1 starter against the New York Jets. Phillips did not help his case after committing three penalties against Arizona. Cleveland popped off the screen once again this week by finishing defenders to the ground in the run game. It will be hard for the coaching staff to ignore Cleveland’s play in favor of Phillips or Powers at this rate.