The Baltimore Ravens were back on the road in Week 4 and bounced back in a big way with a 28-3 win against the Cleveland Browns. They received some contributions from their 2023 rookie draft class, especially their top pick and one of their middle-round selections.
On a day when the team had all four of the team’s six draft selections on the active roster dressed for the game, their first overall selection and third pick were heavily involved for the second week in a row. And they each made an impactful splash play.
For the third time this season, every healthy first-year player was in uniform with the exception of seventh-round offensive guard Andrew Vorhees, who is likely to miss his entire rookie year. Undrafted rookies Keaton Mitchell and Malik Hamm remain on injured reserve but will be eligible to return as early as Week 5.
How did the rookies who took the field yesterday fare in their latest taste of NFL regular season action?
WR Zay Flowers
The first-round rookie out of Boston College had yet another strong outing in his hot start to his inaugural season in the league. With three-time Pro Bowler Odell Beckham Jr. and 2021 first-rounder Rashod Bateman out with injury, Flowers stepped up and finished second on the team in targets (four), receptions (three), and receiving yards (56) behind only three-time Pro Bowl tight end Mark Andrews. He lost six yards on his lone rush of the game after the Ravens ran a jet sweep play that got blown up in the backfield by Browns linebacker Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah.
After a week of pundits lamenting the lack of vertical route concepts on his route map from the team’s Week 3 loss, Flowers silenced his critics when hauled in a perfectly placed 43-yard bomb from a scrambling Lamar Jackson on a broken play.
After the game, he talked about how the two of them practice what to do in situations where the original play breaks down and Jackson starts to improvise with hopes of making a big play through the air deep down the field.
Zay Flowers on his big second-quarter catch to set up the Ravens’ third TD: “You know Lamar’s going to run around and create plays.” pic.twitter.com/1hDMQNACWq— Jonas Shaffer (@jonas_shaffer) October 1, 2023
“You know Lamar’s going to run around and create plays after the play (breaks down),” Flowers said. “We just work on that everyday and I seen him running and I just shot all the way to the corner and he threw it to me.”
ILB Trenton Simpson
The third-round rookie out of Clemson played the vast majority of his snaps on special teams (22) but got his first action on defense in the fourth quarter after the Ravens went up by four scores early in the final period. While he didn’t record his first career tackle in six total defensive snaps, he nearly came up with a fumble recovery after Hamilton hawked down Browns’ running back Pierre Strong Jr., who lost the ball at the end of a 40-yard run but was ruled down before the ball came out.
EDGE Tavius Robinson
The fourth-round rookie out of Ole Miss made his first career start with Odafe Oweh out with injury and David Ojabo recently placed on injured reserve. He was on the field early and often on every drive, including passing downs, and finished with a career-high four total tackles including three solos and his first for a loss on 39 total defensive snaps. Robinson’s non-stop motor was on full display throughout this game with the way he ran to the ball no matter where it was on the field, which led to his trio of individual takedowns.
His relentless hustle helped him come up with the biggest play of his young career, which occurred in the first quarter on a play that was initially blown up by safety Kyle Hamilton and finished by Robinson. Browns wide receiver Elijah Moore got the ball behind the line of scrimmage and retreated deeper into the backfield where Robinson was able to trip him up for a massive 20-yard loss.
Browns WR Elijah Moore running backwards for a loss of 15. pic.twitter.com/kscXDvC37Q— Arye Pulli (@AryePulli) October 1, 2023
Cleveland went from being in the red zone to the outskirts of field goal range and would only get four of those lost yards back before trotting out Dustin Hopkins for a 53-yard attempt that would wind up being their only points of the game.
OL Malaesala Aumavae-Laulu
The sixth-round rookie offensive lineman out of Oregon was dressed for his third NFL regular season game after being a healthy scratch in Week 1 but didn’t see the field on offense or special teams. With one of their best linemen out with an injury, Aumavae-Laulu was only active to serve as a backup at left guard behind starter John Simpson and unfortunately didn’t join Ben Cleveland and Sam Mustipher as late-game substitutions once the Ravens were up big in the fourth quarter.