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Ravens News 7/24: Biggest Gamble and more

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NFL: Baltimore Ravens Odell Beckham Jr. Press Conference Reggie Hildred-USA TODAY Sports

50 Words or Less: Rashod Bateman Is Still a Crucial Player for Ravens

Ryan Mink,

Eric DeCosta said he expects Rashod Bateman to report to camp “very soon.” That’s good news because even though the Ravens aren’t as reliant on Bateman this year as they were last, he’s still a crucial player to unlock the heights of this newly designed passing attack.

Depth is important, and the Ravens are not going to be caught thin at running back. If Dobbins or Gus Edwards, who have yet to participate fully in a practice this offseason, weren’t ready to play in any game, the Ravens know Melvin Gordon III can carry the load.

With that said, it’s a great sign that Edwards is not starting training camp on the PUP list. For a fourth straight season, Edwards averaged at least 5.0 yards per carry last year. He got stronger each game and looks more muscular than ever this offseason. Start the bus.

The Ravens reportedly hosted Kyle Van Noy and were reportedly set to meet with Dawuane Smoot before he re-signed with Jacksonville. The Ravens are clearly in the OLB market and Justin Houston clearly isn’t in a rush. I still wouldn’t rule him out, even if another addition is made.

Ravens, Melvin Gordon agree to 1-year deal: Why Baltimore added the veteran RB

Jeff Zrebiec, The Athletic

Gordon will still have to make the team

The fact that Gordon’s deal is reportedly worth “up to” $3.1 million shouldn’t be interpreted as a sign that the Ravens view the veteran as a big piece to their backfield puzzle this year. That’s certainly how it could play out, but as of now, Gordon is a depth signing.

A significant part of his contract will be tied to incentives and Gordon is still going to have to prove to the team’s decision makers that he belongs on the 53-man roster. If Dobbins, Edwards and Hill are all healthy or if Mitchell, who had a prolific college career at East Carolina, stands out this summer, there are no guarantees that Gordon is even on the team’s roster in early September.

The Biggest Gamble Each NFL Team Is Taking This Season

Manzano & Verderame, Sports Illustrated

Baltimore Ravens

Signing Lamar Jackson to a long-term extension

The Ravens’ contract dilemma with Jackson was one of the biggest storylines of the offseason, and it peaked after the 2019 MVP quarterback announced that he had requested a trade. But the Eagles provided the blueprint for getting a deal done after re-signing Jalen Hurts to a five-year, $255 million contract; soon after, Jackson signed a five-year, $260 million contract to become the newest highest-paid player in the league. It would have been disastrous for the Ravens to trade a franchise quarterback in the midst of his prime, but there’s still risk in signing Jackson, who has missed a combined 10 games in the past two seasons due to injury (including last season’s playoff loss to the Bengals). For the Ravens to repair their relationship with Jackson, they added Odell Beckham Jr., overpaying for the veteran wideout with a one-year, $15 million contract. Jackson remains one of the best quarterbacks in the league, but he hasn’t played at an MVP level since 2019

NFL training camp 2023: Three questions each AFC North team must answer before start of season

Cody Benjamin, CBS Sports

Baltimore Ravens

Is the offensive identity established?

Freshly paid, Lamar Jackson is now under pressure to not only stay on the field but make a leap as an efficient, big-game passer. The most important ingredient for him may be new coordinator Todd Monken’s system, which apparently emphasizes more downfield shots and more control at the line. And yet it’s vital Jackson and Co. are truly bought into whatever changes have been made. After years of leaning heavily on Greg Roman’s run-first scheme, it could be hard to fully flip the switch.

Is Odell Beckham Jr. truly ready to contribute?

The Ravens are betting big that the former Giants star is — or will be — healthy enough to elevate Baltimore’s aerial attack as Jackson’s new No. 1. Now it’s prove-it time. Beckham may remain a route-running, hands-catching phenom when active, but if/when he takes the field in a game, it’ll be the first time since the Rams won the Super Bowl in 2021.

Odell Beckham Jr. ready for new chapter with Baltimore Ravens

Jamison Hensley, ESPN

“I’m excited, but I’m also very determined and hungry,” Beckham said. “So through the smiles there’s still this, ‘I really want this badly.’ I’m ready to be great, ready to be excellent again.”

Known for a remarkable one-handed grab while with the New York Giants in 2014, Beckham is looking to dazzle the football world once again, but history suggests it won’t be easy. Only five wide receivers in NFL history have produced 1,000 yards after missing a full year, according to ESPN Stats & Information research. No wide receiver has accomplished this since Jordy Nelson seven years ago.

“The doubts are for whoever has them to have them, but it’s not what enters my mind and my body,” Beckham said. “I know what I can do.”

Before Ravens camp begins, here are 10 things to know about the AFC North and rest of NFL

Brian Wacker, The Baltimore Sun

Even if the Ravens stay healthy and live up to expectations, the road to Las Vegas for the Super Bowl figures to be a difficult one when considering the other quarterbacks in their conference: Mahomes, Burrow, the Buffalo Bills’ Josh Allen, Rodgers, the Los Angeles Chargers’ Justin Herbert, Lawrence, the Miami Dolphins’ Tua Tagovailoa, Watson and Wilson, who should bounce back under new coach Sean Payton.

The last team to win back-to-back Super Bowls was the New England Patriots in 2003 and 2004. The Chiefs lost both their starting tackles (Brown to the Bengals, Andrew Wylie to the Washington Commanders) and replaced them with Donovan Smith and Jawaan Taylor, but the line otherwise remains unchanged, with left guard Joe Thuney, center Creed Humphrey and right guard Trey Smith all back. The remainder of the offense is again loaded, and the Chiefs boast an underrated defense led by tackle Chris Jones, a Defensive Player of the Year finalist last season. Eight teams have won back-to-back Super Bowls and there’s little reason to think the Chiefs won’t have a good chance of becoming the ninth.