Clifton Brown, BaltimoreRavens.com
Marcus Williams had a sparkling practice that included an acrobatic interception of a Lamar Jackson pass that showed off Williams’ excellent ball skills. Williams and Kyle Hamilton were impressive playing side-by-side, and their potential to become one of the NFL’s most dynamic safety tandems was clear.
Devin Duvernay did extra work on the Jugs machine before practice and his diligence paid off. He was the best receiver on the field during 11-on-11 drills and was Lamar Jackson’s favorite target. Duvernay showed no ill effects from the foot surgery that ended his 2022 season.
Rashod Bateman participated in route-running drills early in practice, making hard cuts and changing directions. While Bateman is still not working a full load, it was another positive day in his comeback from foot surgery.
Charlie Kolar made several nice grabs when he was targeted and had a solid day. Kolar and Isaiah Likely are getting valuable OTA reps as they familiarize themselves with Monken’s attack.
Timm Hamm, Sports Illustrated
“I think it’s going to be a dangerous offense,” Andrews said. “I really love what coach Monken’s had to teach and the way he’s teaching and the energy that he brings. Very enthusiastic. I think the sky’s the limit. I think for us it’s just about taking charge, taking control of this offense, making it ours and just keep on working.”
Last season, Andrews caught 73 balls for 847 yards and five touchdowns as the primary receiver for Jackson before the starting quarterback went down with a knee injury. And Andrews said he’s “extremely driven” to win a Super Bowl, and the kind of offense Baltimore is throwing out in 2023 would help his chances of getting there.
Jonas Shaffer, The Baltimore Banner
The biggest variable in the Ravens’ offseason metamorphosis, then, could be their head coach. Even as John Harbaugh has presided over radical changes in the team’s approach — most notably, pivoting midseason from Joe Flacco to Jackson in 2018 — one offensive philosophy has remained largely unchanging: Establish the run.
According to the analytics website RBSDM, from 2010 to 2022, a span in which the Ravens went through six coordinators, their offense was among the most run-heavy in the league. The team’s early-down pass rate, which excludes the final two minutes of both halves and accounts only for situations when a team’s win probability is at least 20%, ranked 25th (50.2%) over those 13 seasons. The Green Bay Packers, by contrast, led the NFL with a 57.1% pass rate on first and second downs.
But, even after the Ravens parted ways with Roman in January, Harbaugh seemed unwilling, at least publicly, to embrace the NFL’s pass-first trends. Asked at his season-ending news conference about his hopes for the offense’s next identity, Harbaugh underlined the importance of a balanced attack before saying: “You’ve got to be able to run the ball.”
Brian Wacker, The Baltimore Sun
While much has changed in football through the decades, there’s little argument that having a great offensive line goes a long way. Of the 20 teams to play in the past 10 Super Bowls, 12 of them had an offensive line that finished in the top 10 of Pro Football Focus’ annual rankings. Last season, the Eagles’ offensive line was the best in the NFL, per PFF, while the Chiefs were fourth.
Under previous coordinator Greg Roman, Baltimore had a run-heavy offense that leaned on running backs J.K. Dobbins and Gus Edwards, along with Jackson. Already this offseason, Monken has talked about the need to have more dynamic play-calling to keep up with teams like the Chiefs and AFC North rival Cincinnati Bengals. Jackson noted last week that “running can only take you so far.”
Make no mistake, Baltimore will still run the ball plenty. But pass blocking will be critical, if for no other reason than to keep its $260 million quarterback upright. Jackson has missed 11 games the past two seasons, including a wild-card round loss to the Bengals in January, because of injuries.
Trevor Sikkema, PFF
The next tier of off-ball linebackers are difference makers as well; they just come in different shapes and sizes.
Smith and Leonard have the two biggest contracts in the NFL for the off-ball position. Smith elevated the entire Ravens’ defense once he arrived in Baltimore this past season via trade, and though Leonard missed a lot of 2022 due to injury, he remains a playmaker.
This is the all-athlete tier. White, Queen and Gay are all speed players you want attacking the line of scrimmage, pursuing ball carriers to the sideline through space. When they play that kind of downhill style, their skill sets shine. But when it comes to their coverage ability, they could all stand to be more consistent.
Queen finished the 2022 campaign with a 71.9 coverage grade, but a lot of those good coverage games were the result of Roquan Smith’s arrival.