REASON FOR OPTIMISM No. 1: The secondary should be much better.
A depleted secondary combined with that lack of pass rush to produce the worst pass defense in the NFL last season. But we’re just two years removed from the Ravens having the sixth-best pass defense in the league. Marlon Humphrey needs a bounce-back season for sure, but with improved health and the arrivals of Marcus Williams, Kyle Hamilton and Kyle Fuller (Mount Saint Joseph), there’s reason to expect this unit to again be a strength for this team.
REASON FOR PESSIMISM No. 2: Demarcus Robinson probably doesn’t singularly solve the wide receiver situation.
Yes, Demarcus Robinson dominated the XFL players he went up against in the Ravens’ preseason finale. And honestly, Demarcus Robinson is probably about as good as the Ravens could have hoped to come available given their overwhelming lack of experience and depth at the position. But this is still a player who has averaged 17.3 yards per game for his career despite playing in a very pass-happy Kansas City system.
Look, I’m also excited about rookie tight end Isaiah Likely. But I’m not sure a hybrid tight end is enough to dynamically alter the picture at the position. The Ravens’ young receivers (Rashod Bateman, Devin Duvernay, James Proche, Tylan Wallace) have to prove they can be relied upon both consistently and more importantly in the biggest moments this season.
“We’ll be looking for him maybe tomorrow,” Harbaugh said. “They have a plan in there and they’re kind of working him back in. When he’s out there in individual, we’ll start coaching him.”
The Ravens ideally want to get Stanley as much practice time as possible if he’s going to play Week 1 against the New York Jets. The team has the rest of this week, then will get a little time off over Labor Day weekend to recharge before game week preparations.
Is that enough practice time for Stanley to shake off the rust and be ready for Week 1?
“I think there’s a chance, but I wouldn’t comment on what the number is for strategic reasons,” Harbaugh said.
After playing in the Week 1 season opener in Las Vegas last season, Stanley went on the shelf and ultimately opted to have a second surgery on Oct. 19.
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The Ravens received a first-round pick in the trade of receiver Marquise Brown to Arizona on draft night, then traded down a couple of spots with that pick in the hopes of picking Linderbaum. He has not been a disappointment so far. Linderbaum showed his savviness inside on the team’s second play from scrimmage by getting into his man after the snap, moving his feet into the correct blocking position while engaged and doing his best to push the big man to the ground.
Linderbaum plays with an athletic stance in pass protection, keeping leverage against defensive tackles and resetting his hands when needed to hold his ground. He handled stunts and combo blocks adeptly and negated those second-level targets once off the line. Linderbaum lucked out by having a holding call declined (another lineman’s holding call was accepted by Washington), as he controlled a linebacker downfield after grabbing the back of his shoulder pads.
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Anthony Brown belongs as QB3. The undrafted Oregon product dazzled as both a scrambler and big-play thrower against the Commanders, seemingly giving Baltimore yet another young dual-threat under center.
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Outside linebacker (4): Odafe Oweh, Justin Houston, Daelin Hayes, David Ojabo
Tyus Bowser (Achilles tendon) will miss at least four games after being placed on the reserve/PUP list. Ojabo, who’s headed to IR, won’t be ready until at least midseason as he rehabs his own Achilles injury. Steven Means, a vested veteran who impressed in camp, would likely take the second-round pick’s spot on the roster later this week. Even with inside linebacker Malik Harrison’s experience as an edge defender, Hayes’ injury history could lead the Ravens to look for more help. Undrafted rookie Jeremiah Moon figures to be a practice squad target.
Lamar Jackson, acting as his own agent, is entering the final year of his rookie contract without a new deal. What do you make of it?
“He’s trying to negotiate a contract in riddles. He’s not just being direct and saying what he wants to say. He has no one driving the ship for him right now.”
“Every other player in his draft class that needs to get paid got paid. Do you see Kyler Murray get paid before him? … When he won MVP, think about the lack of marketing. Baker Mayfield is on every freaking commercial, and our MVP is nowhere. That is because he has no representation.”
“I commend Lamar for betting on himself. He is clearly the most dynamic player at his position.”
“The one thing people are missing is that Lamar has a plan. The problem is no one in the media knows what his plan is because no one can get to him and he won’t talk about it.”
“The majority of your Super Bowl-winning quarterbacks tend to be dropback passers more than scrambling quarterbacks. When you’re gonna pay a guy elite, elite money and guarantee elite, elite dollars, you need to trust that that quarterback will win a Super Bowl, not just get you to the game. I wonder if that’s the discrepancy or the challenge right now.”
“I mean, he’s statistically been one of the best quarterbacks in the National Football League. He’s won games. He’s led his team. He stayed out of trouble. What else does he have to do? Not every team can win a Super Bowl. … I really just don’t understand the negativity surrounding Lamar other than he doesn’t fit in the little square box people have over quarterbacks.”