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Ravens News 8/14: Preseason Spotlight and more

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NFL: AUG 12 Preseason - Eagles at Ravens Photo by Charles Brock/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

The Ravens offense is a ‘work in progress.’ Their preseason opener showed where OC Todd Monken might take it.

Jonas Shaffer, The Baltimore Banner

Spread ’em out

Roman didn’t have a lot of faith in the Ravens’ depth at wide receiver last year, especially after Rashod Bateman and Devin Duvernay suffered season-ending injuries. The team lined up in 11 personnel (one running back, one tight end and three wide receivers), the NFL’s most popular personnel grouping, on more than 20 snaps in just one game last year. Roman’s “medieval”-inclined offense favored heavier looks, featuring tight ends and fullbacks aplenty.

On Saturday, with tight end Mark Andrews and fullback Patrick Ricard inactive, the Ravens played things more conventionally, lining up in 11 personnel on 41 of 60 plays (68.3%). On the other 19, they came out in 12 personnel (one running back, two tight ends and two wide receivers), though a first-half injury to tight end Isaiah Likely might’ve limited the Ravens’ usage of two-tight-end sets.

The Ravens struggled with their spread-out looks in the first half, averaging a meager 4.3 yards per play in 11 personnel, highlighted by quarterback Josh Johnson’s 7-yard touchdown pass to Duvernay. With Tyler Huntley at the helm in the second half, it was a smoother operation. The Ravens averaged an impressive 6.9 yards per play in 11 personnel in the third quarter, highlighted by their other touchdown, a 10-yard pass to wide receiver Tylan Wallace.

Five things we learned from the Ravens’ 20-19 preseason win over the Philadelphia Eagles

Childs Walker, The Baltimore Sun

David Ojabo delivered mixed results in his first showcase.

The Ravens are betting on 23-year-old Ojabo and 24-year-old Odafe Oweh to give them a pass rush this season, to the point they made little effort to bring back their top sack producer from last season, Justin Houston. Harbaugh said he could not wait to watch Ojabo and Oweh do their thing in the preseason.

Oweh did not play Saturday, leaving the stage to his high school teammate and close pal, Ojabo, who missed most of his rookie season as he recovered from a torn Achilles.

Ojabo was on the field for most of the first quarter, springing off the snap and showing active hands — without any production to show for it — when he rushed from the outside but struggling to stand his ground as a run defender.

On Philadelphia’s opening drive, Ojabo could not hold the edge on third-and-13, and Eagles quarterback Marcus Mariota scooted right through the space he left unguarded for a 14-yard conversion.

“He was physical as could be,” Harbaugh said. “There was one [play] he’d like to have back on that quarterback scramble.”

Even if Ojabo is the answer as an edge rusher, the Ravens probably need a sturdy defender to take on the 30-to-40 snaps per game veteran Jason Pierre-Paul played down the stretch last season. They have hosted free agents Jadeveon Clowney and Kyle Van Noy for visits, and either would fit that role.

The Breakdown: Mink’s Five Thoughts on Preseason Opener

Ryan Mink,

The Ravens’ defensive backs are scrappy.

Baltimore entered the game short-handed in the secondary and it showed early on. Due to injuries, the Ravens only had nine defensive backs who played.

They gave up some yardage – 178 in the first half, including 120 to sixth-round rookie quarterback Tanner McKee. Starting at cornerback, Brandon Stephens allowed a long completion that set up the Eagles for their first touchdown. The Ravens had a breakdown on a third-and-11 that left a receiver wide open for a 33-yard gain.

But the defense tightened up in the second half and delivered the win. Stephens was sticky in the end zone to force an incompletion and turnover on downs with the Eagles at the Ravens’ 7-yard line late in the third quarter. Ar’Darius Washington intercepted what could have been a game-winning Eagles two-point conversion midway through the fourth quarter. Veteran Daryl Worley, who has converted to safety, forced a fourth-quarter fumble. Veteran cornerback Kevon Seymour had a couple wins.

The Ravens need their cornerbacks to get healthy and they could very well bring in more reinforcements, but they saw the grit of these guys fighting for spots.

NFL Preseason Week 1 Game Recap: Baltimore Ravens 20, Philadelphia Eagles 19

Trevor Sikkema, PFF

Offensive spotlight: Ravens quarterback Tyler Huntley had a strong showing against the Eagles. Huntley finished the game 8-for-11 passing with 88 passing yards and one passing touchdown. He also added 13 yards on the ground on two carries.

Huntley started four games last season, going 2-2 to close out the regular season. The Ravens also have NFL journeyman Josh Johnson on their roster, so the QB2 battle in Baltimore is heating up, as Johnson finished this game 8-for-12 with 45 passing yards and a passing touchdown.

Offensive line spotlight: Ravens offensive tackle Daniel Faalele was the highest-graded offensive lineman from the contest. He finished the game with a 74.1 initial overall grade from a 77.7 pass-blocking grade and 71.9 run-blocking grade. He played both right and left tackle and did not give up any pressure on the night.

2023 NFL preseason, Week 1: What We Learned from Saturday’s games

Kevin Patra,

Justice Hill top RB option until J.K. Dobbins returns? We didn’t learn much about the Ravens’ new offense under Todd Monken with Lamar Jackson and most of the starters on the sidelines. But there were hints about how the running back situation could shake out until Dobbins, seeking a new contract and on the physically unable to perform list, returns. Hill got the start Saturday, which saw the Ravens win their NFL-record 24th straight preseason tilt, and offered the most explosive ability. On his second carry, Hill cut away from a plugged hole and sped his way for a 37-yard run that gave life to a milquetoast offense. His other two carries went for 6 and 5 yards. Hill’s pass-catching and explosive potential could give him a leg up in the backup competition (or starter as long as Dobbins is out). Gus Edwards was the second back Saturday and bussed his way for 21 yards on four totes (5.3 YPC). Melvin Gordon didn’t see the field until the third-quarter, indicating his uphill climb to be a factor. The 30-year-old back was OK-or-bust going for 2 yards, 9 yards, zero yards, 8 yards, zero yards, and -1 yards for a 2.7 YPC average on six totes. That’s not going to keep him on the 53-man roster.