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Ravens News 8/21: Making the Leap and more

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Carolina Panthers v Baltimore Ravens Photo by Kevin Sabitus/Getty Images

Practice Report: Rashod Bateman And Others Go Deep in Team Action

Ryan Mink,

Rashod Bateman, who returned to full-team action Friday as he ramps up his return from foot surgery, caught a long pass from Lamar Jackson during 7-on-7 drills. Bateman got a step behind new cornerback Ronald Darby.

In 11-on-11s, wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. made a spectacular one-handed grab … but was out of bounds. Still, it was a sight to see and drew a loud cheer from fans.

Then Jackson threw his best pass of the day. He escaped the pocket to his left and, on the move, delivered a long pass to rookie first-round pick Zay Flowers, who was streaking up the sideline. The pass hit him in stride and Flowers took it to the end zone.

New outside linebacker Jadeveon Clowney made his debut and a good first impression. Clowney has a very fast first step and showed off a sweet leaping chop move in his limited 11-on-11 action. “He was quick. He looks like he’s in shape. You can tell he’s been working hard. He says he had, and you can see it. I thought he fit right in,” Harbaugh said.

The time for Ravens to add veteran edge rusher Jadeveon Clowney finally felt right

Jeff Zrebiec, The Athletic

That it was Clowney seems fitting, too. The Clowney-to-Baltimore rumors had become a rite of the offseason. Finally, the timing — and more importantly, the price — was right.

The Ravens needed another outside linebacker. Almost every Ravens team has had that veteran edge-rush presence to lean on, and Baltimore lost two, Justin Houston and Jason Pierre-Paul, from last year’s team. The Ravens also had 18 sacks to replace with the departure of Houston, Pierre-Paul and Calais Campbell.

Clowney’s arrival doesn’t mean the Ravens don’t have confidence in young edge rushers Odafe Oweh and David Ojabo, both of whom have had nice summers. It just leaves them less dependent on one, if not both of them, breaking out. Wanting to give young players who you drafted early an opportunity to play front-line snaps makes sense. Not having other options if they don’t take a step forward does not.

The concerns at cornerback still remain and probably will until Humphrey returns. At every other defensive position, though, the Ravens seemingly have a nice mixture of veterans and youth, and enough depth to get through a long season.

Making the Leap candidates from each AFC team for 2023 NFL season

Mike Band,

Kyle Hamilton

While preseason assertions from coaches can sometimes be exaggerations, Ravens pass game coordinator/secondary coach Chris Hewitt’s enthusiasm about Kyle Hamilton seems justified. Entering his second NFL season, Hamilton is pegged to transition from situational contributor to a “Pro Bowl-type player,” according to Hewitt. Analytical evaluations align with this sentiment. The 14th overall pick in the 2022 NFL Draft entered the league with the highest overall draft score of any safety prospect over the last decade, according to the Next Gen Stats predictive draft model. Hamilton’s combination of elite size, plus athleticism and uber production has him primed for an every-down role in his second season on a talented defense.

Hamilton’s versatility was evident last season. Primarily utilized in nickel and dime packages, Hamilton took 49 percent of his snaps as a slot corner, 28 percent as a box safety and 23 percent as a deep safety. Even more notably, the first-year pro led all rookie defensive backs with seven quarterback pressures and posted five hustle stops during the regular season (hustle stops are defined as a successful tackle where the defender traveled 20 or more yards from the snap). His intense training camp battles with Pro Bowl tight end Mark Andrews in one-on-one drills further underscore his potential as a matchup-driven coverage defender.

Agent’s Take: Ezekiel Elliott headlines 10 offensive bounce-back candidates out to prove they still belong

Joel Corry, CBS Sports

Odell Beckham Jr.

Odell Beckham Jr. missed the entire 2022 season recovering from tearing the ACL in his left knee for a second time during Super Bowl LVI. Beckham signed a one-year, $15 million contract worth up to $18 million through incentives with the Ravens despite his injury history. $13.835 million of the $15 million is a signing bonus, with the remaining $1.165 million in base salary.

Surprisingly, Beckham’s contract doesn’t contain any per game roster bonuses. By contrast, the two-year, $26 million deal DeAndre Hopkins signed with the Titans at the start of training camp has $1.02 million of per game roster bonuses ($60,000 each game active) annually. The per game amount is only payable if the player is on active list for that particular game, which would have been appropriate given Beckham’s circumstances. Beckham should be a leading candidate for the NFL’s Comeback Player of the Year award if he can develop chemistry with Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson and stay on the football field.

Ravens fullback Patrick Ricard looks for his place in an offense that’s no longer ‘medieval’

Childs Walker, The Baltimore Sun

Aside from Lamar Jackson, no player epitomized Roman’s style more than the college defensive lineman turned four-time Pro Bowl fullback. When the Ravens’ offense was at its heaviest in 2022, Ricard was at his busiest, playing a career-high 64% of the team’s offensive snaps, up from 31% in 2019.

His role in Monken’s offense, expected to feature more sets with running back and one tight end, is less clear. When he returned from the physically unable to perform list last week, after recovering from offseason surgery to repair a torn labrum in his hip, Ricard warmed up with the offensive linemen. In recent days, he has worked with the Ravens’ tight ends. A younger fullback, Ben Mason, performed well in his absence.

“I think the biggest thing is just spreading out the offense,” he said when asked the most significant difference between the new coordinator and Roman. “We have a lot of great skill players. We pretty much brought in a whole other room of skill players here to compete for different roles. I think that’s the biggest difference is we’re going to be more spread out [and] try to be [a] more explosive offense. I love ‘G-Ro,’ and I love everything we did with him, so hopefully we’re going to have great success either way.”