The Baltimore Ravens leave FedEx Field with the first preseason loss since 2015. However, the importance of the preseason, players fighting for a spot on the 53-man roster, has begun to come into frame due to standout performances. Here are the biggest winners and losers from the Ravens’ loss to the Washington Commanders, 29-28.
Tylan Wallace, Wide receiver
It’s hard to think of a Raven with a better preseason than Wallace. He entered the season competing for one of, if not the final spot on the wide receiver depth chart. Since then, he’s strung together two touchdowns in two preseason games and is an effective special teams player, something a depth receiver must be. His competition has been quiet, which only amplifies Wallace’s performances.
Zay Flowers, Wide receiver
It took only one catch for Flowers to shake and juke defenders worthy of a highlight clip. Then, Flowers took a short throw for 22-yards of YAC for the 26-yard touchdown, leaving a trail of Commanders with outstretched arms still trying to tackle him. Flowers showed why he’s been so highly touted by local and national media on the national stage. It also showed why the Ravens promptly shut him down for the remainder of the game.
Josh Johnson, Quarterback
This game was Johnson’s opportunity to get back into the backup quarterback competition. He did so, throwing for 145 yards and two touchdowns on 10-of-12 passing. His lone interception was arguably not his fault as he put it up for wide receiver James Proche who couldn’t reel it in to cap off a 99-yard drive. Instead, the ball found the hands (and legs) of Commanders defensive back Jartavius Martin.
This was a rock-solid performance by Johnson who bounced back from the first preseason game.
Travis Vokolek, Tight end
Two touchdowns. Count ‘em like Vokolek did.
Vokolek’s been a productive player in training camp, using his hefty 6-foot-6, 260-pound frame to snare passes from Johnson, Huntley and Anthony Brown throughout the past few weeks. These games are all about trying to create opportunities and then making the most of them. I’d argue Vokolek did both. Will he make the roster? It’s unlikely. But, he’ll certainly be playing football this year, be it on a practice squad or an NFL roster. Hard to see 32 teams passing on a monster-sized rookie tight end with good hands and a hard-working nature.
Travis Jones, Defensive tackle
The sophomore defensive lineman was a persistent threat in the first half, culminating in a three tackles and one sack. At times the only way he was being slowed was an offensive lineman gripping his jersey. The Ravens will need depth and production at defensive line and tonight was a vote of confidence for Jones.
Charlie Kolar, Tight end
The Ravens sure do love their tight ends. Tonight’s leading receiver, Kolar, racked up 61 yards on two receptions. I’d like to see more out of Kolar as a blocker but he’s got good hands and this tight end room is just stacked with talent from top to bottom. Tonight was something to build on for Kolar.
Keaton Mitchell, Running back
If the Ravens keep four running backs, I don’t see how Mitchell’s not the No. 4. His speed and acceleration have been on display throughout camp and again tonight as he blasted through for a 31-yard run on his lone carry of the evening.
DeAndre Houston-Carson, Tae Hayes, Defensive backs
The Ravens added both Houston-Carson and Hayes a week ago; both notched takeaways in Monday’s matchup, with Hayes getting an interception and Houston-Carson scooping up a forced fumble. Making any impact as a defensive back on this roster can go a long way as the team needs bodies. It’s tough to see either of them make the roster but those were notable plays made in a close battle.
Justice Hill, Running back
The more we see of Hill the more he has shown worthy of a greater role in the Ravens’ offense. Now, it’s whether he can bleed into J.K. Dobbins’ role as Hill’s speed and vision has proven effective with nearly each carry.
Kevon Seymour, Defensive back
Stop testing Seymour deep. It hasn’t worked this preseason and it’s because his speed and ball awareness has been excellent. The recognition Seymour has shown when the receiver is searching for a reception is that added bit that turns a cornerback into a playmaker. This has been one helluva camp for Seymour, a guy that’s easy to root for.
Depth Wide Receiver Not Named Tylan Wallace
I just don’t know how any player can be put ahead of Wallace in the competition anymore. Some guys have had maybe better camps as wide receivers but when the lights come on Wallace has made the most of it. He’s been healthy, he’s made plays. Other guys have struggled, from not putting up any stats in the game book to teeth-gritting errors.
Jordan Stout, Punter
Stout’s first punt was an erupting 66-yarder, but bounced into the end zone for a touchback. It was near the boundary and on a more fortuitous bounce pins the opposition deep. His second punt went for 37 yards where the Commanders started their drive (which ended a play later due to a forced fumble by Malik Hamm) on their 29-yard line.
Maybe it’s me having too lofty of expectations for Stout. Stout is not a bad punter. He has an NFL-worthy leg, without question. He was a damn fine punter in college, too. I think it’s the fourth-round draft pick being attached to him that has me just searching for more. The strength and willingness to improve is there for Stout. It’s obvious in camp and in these games. The coaching staff here in Baltimore is the NFL’s best. It’s about honing Stout’s talents and I’m hopeful and confident it gets to the level he wants and the franchise expects.
Kyu Kelly, Cornerback
All the credit to the rookie for making what could’ve been a game-winning two-point stop; a great open-field tackle that silenced a raucous crowd. But it’s clear the Commanders were going after him in coverage throughout the game.
It didn’t help he was dealing with injury and I’m not sure when it occurred. He’s been likely dealing with something throughout camp as he’s missed time, too. He’s a late-round corner so give him some grace, but he’s not yet there. It’s only that the team is looking for players to step up and there’s always hope in young talents making a quick leap. If that doesn’t happen it’s not a sky-is-falling situation. But this was a hopeful chance for him to carve out a role in a position searching for players to step up.