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Ravens News 8/22: Blossoming Star and more

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Baltimore Ravens v Washington Commanders Photo by Scott Taetsch/Getty Images

Tylan Wallace, Ar’Darius Washington take steps forward as Ravens’ preseason streak ends

Jeff Zrebiec, The Athletic

Wallace made only one catch in Monday’s 29-28 loss to the Washington Commanders at FedEx Field, but it was a 7-yard touchdown with cornerback Rachad Wildgoose in tight coverage. He also set up the touchdown by drawing a long pass interference call on Wildgoose on the previous play.

“You have to take advantage of those opportunities,” Wallace said. “Just trying to lock in (after) going through the past two years and realizing how the game is played and how it needs to be played. Obviously, this is a big year for me. I really took that to heart this offseason. I feel like I prepared really well, and coming in, I knew that I had to make plays. I’m just trying to do what I can.”

The touchdown was Wallace’s second in as many preseason games. He also hooked up with Tyler Huntley for a nifty 10-yard score in the preseason opener versus the Philadelphia Eagles.

It’s nearly impossible to get six wide receivers involved on game days. For a sixth receiver to be active, he’s almost certainly going to have to be a core special-teamer. That’s why Wallace has been the front-runner. But he’s also seemingly gained some separation from his competitors by making plays as a receiver.

2023 NFL preseason, Week 2: What We Learned from Commanders’ win over Ravens on Monday night

Grant Gordon,

Blossoming star in Baltimore? If you blinked, you might’ve missed Zay Flowers on Monday. Sure, he only saw six snaps, but it’s what he did with the ball in his hands that was truly a blur. Certifying the hype, Flowers was quick as a hiccup and fast as a flash on a pair of first-and-only-drive receptions. On the first, Flowers wiggled past a pair of defenders for an 11-yard gain. Three plays later, Flowers zoomed past the Commanders’ defense for a 26-yard touchdown, taking a pass in the flat and weaving past multiple Washington defenders for six. The No. 22 pick of the 2023 NFL Draft has had people salivating at the possibilities of what he can bring to a Lamar Jackson-led offense. A healthy Rashod Bateman and Odell Beckham Jr. are certainly reasons for hopefulness, but if you get Flowers in space, he’s going to be making some big plays for Baltimore and igniting a Ravens WR corps that’s long been stagnant.

Risers and fallers: Commanders end Ravens’ NFL-record preseason winning streak on field goal in final seconds, 29-28

Brian Wacker, The Baltimore Sun

Charlie Kolar and Travis Vokolek

Do the Ravens have the deepest tight end room in the NFL? With Mark Andrews and Isaiah Likely not playing Monday, Kolar and Vokolek both had nice nights.

Kolar had two grabs for 61 yards, including a 33-yard snag down the middle, while Vokolek, an undrafted rookie out of Nebraska, had three catches for 28 yards and two touchdowns.

Justice Hill

The Ravens have thrown to their running backs during training camp more than in previous years and it didn’t take long for that to manifest itself Monday night. Hill caught a dump-off in the open and turned it into a 13-yard gain on Baltimore’s opening possession. He also flashed good burst, busting through the line for a 10-yard run on the first play from scrimmage before adding a 15-yard run to the outside.

His night was over after the opening drive, but that was more than enough. Hill finished with two carries for 25 yards and one catch for 13 yards.

Ravens film study: How a new role on defense could get the best out of Jadeveon Clowney

Jonas Shaffer, The Baltimore Banner

Harbaugh said Friday that Clowney’s signing “gives us the chance to get four pass rushers on the field on third-down situations.” A day later, he acknowledged that that could mean moving Clowney inside on obvious passing downs, hunting for favorable matchups against guards and centers.

It’s not unfamiliar territory for Clowney. In the twilight of his career, it might actually be his best role. Two years ago, his pressure rate as an interior pass rusher (19.4%) for Cleveland was more than double his pressure rate as an edge defender and outside linebacker (8.7%). He didn’t have a sack in those 31 snaps, but he recorded hurries faster, on average (2.55 seconds), than he did from the outside (3.2 seconds), according to NGS.

Against shorter-armed interior linemen, Clowney does not have to worry about turning the corner. He just has to win with his first move. After that, physics tends to take over. A 6-foot-5, 266-pound “power rusher,” as Harbaugh called him, Clowney can be hard to uproot.

The Browns finished with the NFL’s No. 28 rushing defense last season, according to Football Outsiders, but Clowney wasn’t to blame. On PFF, he graded out as the league’s No. 19 run-stopping edge defender among qualifying players.

The Ravens will need his edge-setting ability. Oweh, who was dealing with nagging injuries in 2022, and Bowser, still working back to full strength from a torn Achilles tendon, ranked outside PFF’s top 90 edge defenders in run defense last year. Ojabo was not a stout run defender in college, though his improved strength should help him hold up in his second year. Tavius Robinson is only a rookie.

NFL preseason Power Rankings 2023: How all 32 teams stack up

Jamison Hensley, ESPN

8. Baltimore Ravens

On the hot seat: WR Rashod Bateman

This season will determine whether the Ravens pick up Bateman’s fifth-year option next offseason. The No. 27 overall pick in 2021 has struggled to stay on the field, missing a total of 16 games in his first two seasons. He has flashes where he looks like a No. 1 wide receiver, but he has produced only three career touchdowns. It’s going to be more challenging for Bateman to get catches this season after Baltimore signed Odell Beckham Jr. and drafted Zay Flowers in the first round.