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Ravens News 8/10: Physical Practice and more

NFL: Baltimore Ravens Training Camp Brent Skeen-USA TODAY Sports

Practice Report: Ravens Defense Relishes Increased Physicality

Ryan Mink, BaltimoreRavens.com

The Ravens turned up the physicality in training camp practice Wednesday, and nobody seemed more eager or appreciative than inside linebackers Roquan Smith and Patrick Queen.

Smith and Queen each popped numerous pads during a practice that included some full tackling. Even when it wasn’t full tackling, it seemed close to it.

Smith put a couple jarring hits on undrafted rookie Keaton Mitchell and had one on Ben Mason that popped the ball out of the fullback’s hands. It was like Mason ran into a brick wall.

Smith also came over the top of tight end Travis Vokolek for a physical pass breakup, which Smith celebrated with an intimidating get-out-of-my-house-style leg kick. Smith said he focused on improving his pass coverage this offseason and it showed.

Queen also got a couple licks on Mitchell, including one slam into the turf and another that caused a fumble, which Queen wrestled away from the rookie. It was a welcome-to-the-NFL day for Mitchell.

Another player who shined with the increased physicality was safety Kyle Hamilton. He is so strong coming off the edge. Hamilton had two sacks last season and it wouldn’t be surprising to see him get some more in 2023.

Ravens’ ‘small ball’ will suffice for now, but is it enough to finish the job?

Mike Preston, The Baltimore Sun

There are a lot of improvements in the passing game under new coordinator Todd Monken compared with predecessor Greg Roman. The concepts are different and easy to see. The Ravens run more combination and clearing routes. They run more rubs and picks inside the red zone.

Shoot, on Monday they even had two receivers run slants on the same side of the field. That isn’t hard to scheme up, but it wasn’t part of Roman’s run-first attack.

But so far, the Ravens play “small ball.” They run a lot of short patterns, including crossing routes, and that’s great when a team has a potentially explosive player such as rookie wide receiver Zay Flowers, the No. 22 overall pick out of Boston College.

But what happens when an opposing team takes away the short stuff and starts to jam receivers at the line of scrimmage? What happens when a defense forces quarterback Lamar Jackson to throw downfield and outside the numbers?

That type of passing attack hasn’t been on display in training camp, and it’s still the question that has haunted Jackson and the Ravens ever since he became the starting quarterback six years ago.

It’s safe to assume that it’s going to take time for this offense to jell.

Ravens’ Gus Edwards on New Todd Monken Offense: ‘I Love It!’

Timm Hamm, Sports Illustrated

As Monken’s offense is more vertical, with the weapons available to Lamar Jackson, they can stretch the field. But while all the focus has been on Baltimore’s receivers, what about the running backs?

“I love it,” running back Gus Edwards said. “We’ve shown a lot of flashes, got a lot to work on. He’s finding a lot of ways to get guys open, ways to spread the ball around, I’m excited to see how it all pans out.”

“It’s a great opportunity to see some lighter box,” Edwards said. “In the past, we had to run through some tougher boxes, great opportunity to get our running backs in space. I think we’re going to make the best out of it.”

​“I’m ready to do whatever the offense allows me to do,” said Edwards, who is also in focus here because J.K. Dobbins seems involved in a contract “hold-in’’ and has yet to work at camp. “Ready to make plays in different ways. I feel like that’s something that I’ve always been able to do, and this offense is going to put me in that space to make those plays and get open in check-downs.”

NFL position battles to watch in joint practices: Raiders WRs, Packers CBs to be tested before preseason debut

Josh Edwards, CBS Sports

Aug. 15-16: Commanders at Ravens

Washington CB vs. Baltimore WR

Picking No. 16 overall, the Commanders had the opportunity to select Christian Gonzalez, Deonte Banks or Joey Porter Jr., but they wanted Emmanuel Forbes and his ball production. Forbes recorded 14 interceptions, six of which were returned for touchdowns, during his collegiate career. Kendall Fuller, Benjamin St-Juste and Jartavius Martin provide depth.

Washington has invested in its cornerbacks and Baltimore has invested in its wide receivers; that is what makes this matchup so appealing. The Ravens signed Odell Beckham Jr. in free agency and then used a first-round pick on Boston College’s Zay Flowers. Those two, along with Nelson Agholor, Devin Duvernay and Rashod Bateman (when he returns from the PUP list) give the Ravens depth they have sorely lacked.

Ravens, DL Broderick Washington agree to three-year contract extension

Jonas Shaffer, The Baltimore Banner

The extension represents a significant investment in a player who has improved by leaps and bounds since an anonymous rookie year. A fifth-round pick in 2020, Washington played just 161 defensive snaps in 2020, a mark he nearly doubled (293) in 2021. Last year, he started nine games and played 44% of the Ravens’ defensive snaps (483 total). He also led all Ravens defensive linemen in run stops, according to Pro Football Focus, with 23 tackles leading to unsuccessful carries by an opponent. He also had six passes defended, among the most at his position.

“I don’t know that there’s a person in this building that works harder than Broderick Washington,” assistant head coach and defensive line coach Anthony Weaver said last week. “If you even look [at] his body from when he got [here] to how it is now, he looks completely different. You talk about a guy that’s taken every bit of coaching and then some, it’s him. So I’m not surprised by any of his success, and I would expect more.”

With Washington’s extension, the Ravens can focus their efforts on re-signing their top interior pass rusher. Madubuike had 5 1/2 sacks last season, nearly triple Washington’s career total (two), and has helped anchor one of the NFL’s best run-stopping lines since he was drafted in 2020.