After the moves from the NFL Draft and the Ravens’ offseason, it’s time to look forward to the regular season — one in which the Ravens are expecting great things. Before they do that, there’s a vital ingredient: getting healthy.
There were — and still are — numerous Ravens coming back from season-ending injuries. However, a few already have. Lamar Jackson returned for mandatory minicamp, along with cornerback Marlon Humphrey. Throughout training camp, the Ravens have seen running back J.K. Dobbins, cornerback Marcus Peters and safety Ar’Darius Washington come off the Player Unable to Perform (PUP) list and begin to participate in practice. Left tackle Ronnie Stanley returned to practice on Sept. 5, while outside linebacker Tyus Bowser was placed on the reserve/PUP list and will miss at least the first four games of the regular season. It’s uncertain if Stanley will be playing Week 1, as he looks to get healthy after missing 26 games the past two seasons.
Coming into training camp, Jackson didn’t follow the approach of others working on a long-term contract with his respective franchise. A few players across the NFL held out or held in — showing up to camp but not practicing — such as San Francisco 49ers wide receiver Deebo Samuel, Los Angeles Chargers safety Derwin James and Cleveland Browns running back Kareem Hunt. Jackson wasn’t having it.
Full comment from Lamar Jackson on why he's not holding in:— Kyle Phoenix Barber (@KylePBarber) July 28, 2022
"I want to win at the end of the day you know I just want to be great. I just want to rep with my brothers at the end of the day. I don't want to leave them out there hanging. That's not me. That's never been me."
Jackson was having good practices, however.
Much has been talked about the wide receivers group for the Ravens. After trading Marquise “Hollywood” Brown to the Arizona Cardinals on Day 1 of the NFL Draft, it’s up to Bateman to become the No. 1 wide receiver. His performance in training camp has left fans excited but hopeful for more. The talent is there; the consistency is what will be desired.
Topping last season will be challenging. After all, Andrews broke two franchises’ receiving records and will certainly see defenders blanketing him. But that hasn’t stopped him from dominating training camp each day.
The Ravens were expected to draft a wide receiver after trading Brown. They were in line to select wide receiver Calvin Austin until the Pittsburgh Steelers leapfrogged them in the fourth round. According to NBC Sports’ Peter King, this led to the Ravens selecting Coastal Carolina tight end Isaiah Likely, who has been a training camp and preseason star.
Regarding Isaiah Likely:— Kyle Phoenix Barber (@KylePBarber) August 4, 2022
Can’t help but think the Steelers leap-frogging the Ravens in the fourth round to take wide receiver Calvin Austin might be a blessing for Baltimore. As Peter King wrote, it was OC Greg Roman who liked him and is part of why he’s a Raven now. pic.twitter.com/VEczWsoEBP
Chuck Clark won both 1-on-1 repetitions today vs. Mark Andrews, a rare feat in Ravens camp.— Jonas Shaffer (@jonas_shaffer) August 15, 2022
They regrouped pretty quickly for Round 3 … but then the bell sounded and the period was over.
Also, Isaiah Likely had a diving TD catch in the back of the end zone. Superman-esque.
This Mark Andrews and Isaiah Likely duo is going to be a problem for the league pic.twitter.com/S0VVnIPVBg— PFF Fantasy Football (@PFF_Fantasy) August 12, 2022
Projecting the Ravens’ 2022 Season
Many see the Ravens competing for the AFC North crown this season. The Steelers are working through a quarterback change following the retirement of Ben Roethlisberger. The Cleveland Browns are in the throes of Deshaun Watson’s ongoing suspension saga following the 25 civil lawsuits for sexual assault. The Ravens’ greatest challenge will be the Cincinnati Bengals, fresh off a Super Bowl appearance.
It’s hard to see the Ravens falling under said total. After all, they won eight games with a similar roster ravaged by injuries. They have a great coaching staff in place, and when Lamar Jackson plays, the Ravens tend to win. The additions on defense paired with new defensive coordinator Mike Macdonald look to be a recipe for success. The Ravens were ranked last against the pass last season, and now they have the best defensive back group in the NFL on paper. ESPN’s Mina Kimes and Bill Barnwell would agree.
“They’re going from like a bottom five secondary to a top five secondary on paper,” Barnwell said on The Mina Kimes Show Featuring Lenny. “That’s with adding Marcus Williams who has been very good and by the way very healthy for his Saints crew, which might be a plus after what happened last year. And I mean, there’s a real X-factor here with Kyle Hamilton … Can he be, like … Antoine Winfield [Jr.] with the Bucs. Where it was like they leveled up by adding this guy … If Kyle Hamilton can have that sort of impact, they can be a top two secondary, or even the best secondary in football. And that’s going to help, it’s going to make things a lot easier as they sort of figure out what their pass rush looks like and if Odafe Oweh can be their guy up front.”
Both Kimes and Barnwell expect the Ravens to win the division, and Barnwell has the Ravens as “pretty comfortably the best team in the AFC North.”