However, there weren’t nearly as many on defense given that they had some third and fourth-string players check into the game earlier while their fellow Maryland-based franchise played the vast majority of their starters for the entire first half.
With a few starting spots and several key roles up for grabs, the team gained some more clarity of who the front runners should be, who can be reliable upon, and who can’t be counted on to fill their needs.
Here six of the main things that can be learned from Monday’s defeat.
Competition for QB2 might still be open
The Ravens are all set at starting quarterback with star signal-caller Lamar Jackson under center. However, with his projected primary backup, Tyler Huntley, inactive for Monday night’s primetime exhibition contest as a result of a hamstring tweak he sustained in the preseason opener, it left the door open for veteran journeyman Josh Johnson to get back in the hunt and that’s exactly what the well-seasoned pro did.
He got to play the entire first half before turning over the reins of the offense to second-year pro Anthony Brown who looked good in the second half. In his two-quarters of action, Johnson operated the offense much more smoothly than he did against the Philadelphia Eagles a week ago. He orchestrated a pair of scoring drives including on the opening possession of the game and would’ve led a third if it weren’t for an untimely pressure that prevented him from stepping into a throw to hit a wide-open James Proche.
Throughout the first half, broadcasters Troy Aikman and Joe Buck talked about how much Offensive Coordinator Todd Monken gushed about Johnson and after what he put on tape on Monday night against the Commanders, it’s clear why that was the case. The 16-year veteran finished 10-of-12 for 145 passing yards and a pair of passing touchdowns to the one interception that wasn’t entirely on him.
Zay Flowers hype train might get out of control
The Ravens first-round wide receiver has been generating buzz for months and it ratcheted up even more once training camp got underway. Even though he touched the ball just once in his preseason debut against the Eagles a week ago, he still showed just how impactful he can be even when he doesn’t have the ball in his hands.
After generating several highlight-reel plays in joint practices with Washington in the week leading up to the game, Flowers doubled his number of touches, more than quadrupled his yards from scrimmage, and scored his first career touchdown as a pro in impressive fashion, all on the opening drive of the game.
His first reception was an 11-yard catch and run play where he lined up against Commanders rookie cornerback and fellow first-rounder Emmanuel Forbes and made him miss in the open field as he turned upfield and picked up the first down.
While his second catch came as a result of a coverage bust, the touchdown he scored off of it was all him and his electric run after the catch ability as he scampered and cut his way into the end zone.
If fantasy football owners weren’t already sniffing around the former Boston College standout prior to what will likely be his final preseason action, they’ll be all over his rising stock ahead of his rookie year where he’ll be heavily involved in the Ravens’ new-look offense.
Tylan Wallace has solidified his spot as WR6
Flowers wasn’t the only Ravens wideout that stood out, made an impact, and found the endzone. The third-year pro who they selected in the fourth round in the 2021 NFL Draft out of Oklahoma State may have only registered one catch for seven yards but he made the most of the opportunity as it resulted in his second touchdown in as many games.
Prior to hauling in the impressive back shoulder pass, he drew 33-yard and 35-yard defensive pass interference penalties to set up the scoring play that gave the Ravens their lead back after they trailed for less than a minute of game time. If it wasn’t already clear who the sixth-best receiver on the Ravens’ depth chart heading into this game between Wallace and the rest of his competition, he made it abundantly so with his first-half performance alone.
Cornerback depth remains a bit of a concern but shows promise
While the Ravens’ rookie corners —both drafted and undrafted— played a role in the preseason winning streak being snapped, the team should be highly encouraged by what they saw from the players that are projected to be their primary backups and potentially even early season starters while Marlon Humphrey recovers from his recent foot surgery.
Veteran Kevon Seymour continued to translate his strong training camp into lockdown live reps in the preseason against the Commanders. He finished with a pair of tackles, no big plays allowed, and an impressive pass breakup deep down the field in tight coverage.
Third-year pros Brandon Stephens and Ar’Darius Washington also had nice showings. Stephens finished with a pair of tackles and was solid in coverage while Washington played the majority of the game down to the final drive and was near lights out in coverage as he finished with seven total tackles and three pass breakups before leaving the game with a late injury.
Keaton Mitchell should be a lock to be RB4
Prior to leaving the game early in the second half with a shoulder injury, the undrafted rookie out of East Carolina only carried, caught, and returned the ball once but showed everything that makes him special on those three standout plays. His first touch was a 6-yard reception that picked up a first down, his first carry was a 31-yard run that picked up a first down, and his lone return of the game was a 28-yarder that set up an eventual scoring drive.
While veteran running back and former two-time Pro Bowler Melvin Gordon ran the ball hard between the tackles and moved the chains a couple of times in short-yardage situations, it’s clear that Mitchell’s speed, acceleration, and burst make him the more dangerous weapon and better fit on Monken’s offense.
Undrafted rookie class will force some tough decisions
Now that the Ravens’ preseason streak has ended, their longest notable streak of note about this time of year is an undrafted rookie making the final 53-man roster. It was snapped after 16 years in 2020 when there weren’t any exhibition games but was restarted in 2021 with Washington and extended in 2022 with inside linebacker Josh Ross.
The likelihood of it being extended a third year in a row is extremely high and may have already been solidified by Mitchell as long as his minor injury heals in enough time for him to be available for the start of the regular season. However, he wasn’t the only undrafted rookie that shined bright and made plays in this game, albeit in a losing effort.
First-year tight end Travis Vokolek led the team with three receptions, the last two of which went for touchdowns. His first score came on a 17-yard catch in which he bulldozed his way into the end zone to give the Ravens the lead back early in the third quarter.
The former Nebraska Cornhusker’s second was on the receiving end of an 8-yard strike from Brown in which he got behind three defenders to real in the pass in the back of the end zone.
A week after recording the first sack in the NFL in his hometown, first-year outside linebacker Malik Hamm forced his first turnover as a pro when he dislodged the ball from Commanders running back and fellow rookie Chris Rodriguez for a timely fumble that set up the Ravens for a short scoring drive. He finished the game with two total tackles and generated some nice pressures off the edge at times as well.
Plays like the ones that these trio of players, who never got to hear their names called on draft day, are the kind of plays that can earn them spots on active rosters somewhere if not in Baltimore. The likelihood of any of them clearing waivers might already be low and will only decrease further if they show out again in next week’s preseason finale against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.