The favorites: Davis and Badie.
X-factor: J.K. Dobbins’ health. If the Ravens deem Dobbins healthy enough to play a significant role early in the season, they could probably get away with keeping just two other backs and trying to get another on the practice squad. However, Dobbins is still working his way back from a major knee injury that cost him all of last season, and while he’s been moving around better than when he first returned to the field, he still has some physical hurdles to clear. Even if he’s ready for Week 1, it seems highly unlikely that the Ravens will be able to rely on him for a lead back’s typical workload. It would be no surprise if the Ravens carried four backs on their initial 53-man roster as a result.
How this could play out: With Dobbins and Gus Edwards (physically unable to perform list) not taking part in training camp, Davis has mostly worked with the first team. He also started both preseason games. That, plus his experience and pass-catching ability, foreshadow him being a lock. The Ravens abhor cutting draft picks and Badie, who they selected in the sixth round in April, has shown more than enough to stick around. Hill is the big question mark. He had a decent training camp and he’s also a solid special teams player. That carries weight with head coach John Harbaugh. Still, he’s perceived to be firmly on the bubble. McCrary is a logical candidate for the practice squad.
News & Notes: Kyle Hamilton Leaves Early With ‘Nothing Serious’ As Ravens Manage Workloads - Clifton Brown
Broderick Washington Sees Pass Rush as Key Ingredient for Defensive Line
The Ravens have made no secret of wanting to improve their pass rush, and they’re looking for some of that juice to come from the defensive line.
Rookie defensive Travis Jones showed potential as an inside pass rusher before injuring his knee Sunday, and third-year tackle Broderick Washington believes Baltimore’s defensive line can be elite. The Ravens got just 5.5 sacks from their defensive line last year.
“I think we can be the best defensive line in the league, honestly,” Washington said. “Last year we were No. 1 stopping the run and I think pass-rushing as a whole group, everybody’s gotten way better.
“We do more than just stopping the run. Stopping the run comes first, and then we’ve got to get to the quarterback to help our guys out on the back end. For us to be considered elite, we’ve got to put it all together as a whole.”
Washington said Jones’ injury has not diminished the defensive line’s determination.
“To be honest, I think even before Trav getting hurt, we all had a chip on our shoulder to go out and show that we’re one of the best defensive lines,” Washington said. “I don’t really know if that motivated us more, because that chip’s pretty big already.”
Drafted: Round 1, No. 14 overall
Best-case scenario: Hamilton carves out a role in a deep secondary, putting his size and range on display in sub packages. I believe he could be a dominant special-teams player while he’s earning more playing time on defense.
Worst-case scenario: He struggles in man coverage and playing time is difficult to come by in a deep group.
Projected stats: 55 tackles and two interceptions.
In the process of showing candor and class discussing his offseason feelings, Clark revealed Marcus Peters registered an interception in returning to full-team drills this week, a promising sign for his Week 1 availability. “We can’t wait to have him back out here in full and going with us.”
As the Ravens approach single-digit workdays until Week 1, Ronnie Stanley still isn’t practicing. That doesn’t mean he can’t be ready sometime very soon, but he’s 10 months removed from his third ankle surgery and has played in one game over the last 22 months. If not now, then when?
John Harbaugh said Thursday that Tyler Linderbaum has “looked good” in his return to practice, but he added that you “don’t want to overdo it” with him returning from the foot injury. That wouldn’t seem to bode well for his chances of playing Saturday, which would be understandable.
Though Harbaugh didn’t rule out the young players who’ve missed practices this week, Ben Cleveland and Daniel Faalele would benefit from seeing extensive snaps against Washington. It could be their last chance to see meaningful game action for a while, and their absence would leave Saturday’s offensive line numbers light.
WRs Shemar Bridges and Makai Polk
Both undrafted free agents built momentum with excellent performances in the first preseason game. Neither performed as well against the Cardinals (two catches combined for 27 yards), and now, Robinson and Wallace stand in their way.
Bridges and Polk could see plenty of targets against the Commanders, probably from third-string quarterback Anthony Brown, who will be auditioning for a spot on the practice squad. Their chances of making the 53-man roster are probably gone, but they’re both tall receivers who could make intriguing developmental prospects.
OLB Daelin Hayes
The Ravens would love someone to step forward on the edge, where Odafe Oweh and Justin Houston are the only players they can count on for Week 1. Hayes, a 2021 fifth-round pick, had a major chance to push for playing time this summer but has not taken advantage. Aside from a few flashes as a bull rusher and edge setter, he simply has not made a lot of memorable plays in practice or in the two preseason games.
The good news for Hayes is that opportunity remains with Tyus Bowser still working back from a torn Achilles tendon. If he plays well against the Commanders — a big if, considering he missed Wednesday’s practice — and strings together a few good practices, he could earn meaningful snaps in Week 1. Now is the time for him, because Bowser and second-round pick David Ojabo are on the way.