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Ravens News 9/1: Evolving HC and more

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Baltimore Ravens v Tampa Bay Buccaneers Photo by Kevin Sabitus/Getty Images

Ozzie Newsome has seen Ravens coach John Harbaugh adapt and evolve. Pressure is nothing new.

Mike Preston, The Baltimore Sun

“The key word for John is consistency in his approach, in what he wants his team to look like and ... in the way he chooses players and in the way he disagrees with us in the draft room.”

Harbaugh came to Baltimore in 2008 with that rah-rah college coach mentality, and he struggled with dominant personalities like those of Ray Lewis, Ed Reed, Bernard Pollard and Anquan Boldin.

That led to the great alpha male purge following the Super Bowl win in February 2013, when all of those players either signed with other teams or, in the case of Lewis, retired.

In the next five seasons, the Ravens reached the playoffs only once, in 2014, and finished below .500 three times.

A lesson was learned.

“John has learned that he doesn’t have to fight every battle anymore,” Newsome said. “When he got here, he had to deal with the dominant personalities like Ray. When you have those types of personalities, guys who have had success, they are used to doing it a certain way, and they don’t easily conform.

“So you have to build a relationship with those guys to get them to understand that, ‘I know you have been successful, but I need you to work with me so we can continue that success and we all can get better.’”

“You’ve got to be able to adapt and evolve, and John has been able to do that,” Newsome said. “The case in point is Lamar, how we played offense and how he decided to make it Lamar-central. He brings in Beckham. He said, ‘This is what we’re going to do,’ and it’s been successful.”

Ronald Darby Is Confident After Fast Recovery From Knee Injury

Clifton Brown,

Darby attacked rehab with the same focus he uses to defend wide receivers. He feels healthy and ready to play as many snaps as he’s asked, as the Ravens prepare for their Sept. 10 season opener against the Texans.

“I was busting my [butt] rehabbing and running,” Darby said. “I was having like two-a-days all through the week, so I made sure I put the load on my body. Knowing that I wasn’t in OTAs, [and] I wasn’t in the first half of camp, I made sure I did more so I could be ready and have confidence on it. That’s what it’s mainly about, having confidence on your knee.

“I’m ready. That’s what I’m out here doing. I’m getting myself back into football shape. If I get called on, I’m going to go out there and give my all. I don’t feel any doubt or anything, or I wouldn’t be out there getting the reps that I’m getting.”

Ranking the Best Skill-Position Groups of the 2023 NFL Season

Gilberto Manzano, Sports Illustrated

21. Ravens

TE Mark Andrews, WR Odell Beckham Jr., WR Zay Flowers, RB J.K. Dobbins, WR Rashod Bateman

Andrews probably doesn’t get enough credit for how valuable he’s been for the Ravens as a pass catcher and blocker—expect him to remain one of the best tight ends in the league. But there’s uncertainty surrounding Baltimore’s talented receivers. Beckham will need to prove he can stay healthy, as will Bateman, a 2021 first-round pick. Flowers, this year’s first-round pick, is off to a fast start and could be a vital piece in helping Lamar Jackson push the ball downfield in ’23. The Ravens are counting on Dobbins as the lead back, despite his lengthy injury history.

Predicting potential 2023 surprises for all 32 NFL teams

Dan Graziano, ESPN

Baltimore Ravens

Don’t be surprised if ... wide receiver Zay Flowers is the Offensive Rookie of the Year.

What I’m hearing: Flowers’ ability to create separation is really standing out in training camp. Other than tight end Mark Andrews, there’s no one in the Ravens’ receiving corps who has a ton of experience with quarterback Lamar Jackson, so there’s nothing stopping the rookie from becoming his second-favorite target. Once upon a time when I was covering the Giants, I remember Eli Manning telling us a rookie receiver named Odell Beckham Jr. was doing a great job of getting open in practice. Beckham went on to set rookie records. If you’re open, you’re the QB’s best friend, and Flowers can get open.

If Jackson clicks in the new offense right away, Flowers — who went for more than 1,000 yards and caught 12 touchdowns at Boston College last season — could put up massive numbers.

2023 NFL season: One potential first-time Pro Bowler from each AFC team

Kevin Patra,

Baltimore Ravens

Kyle Hamilton

S · Year 2

Hamilton struggled out of the gate in Year 1 before the Ravens moved him closer to the line of scrimmage as a slot corner and box safety. He flourished in that role, flashing ability as a short-area cover man, thriving against the run and showing a knack as a pass rusher. In Year 2, the Ravens could use Hamilton as a Derwin James-type defender, aligning him all over the formation to provide ample opportunity for game-changing plays. An already-banged-up Ravens secondary needs playmakers, and Hamilton owns the athleticism and ability to break out in 2023.

NFL win total projections for all 32 teams: Experts react to our model

Jeff Zrebiec, The Athletic

Baltimore Ravens

Win total: 10.7

This is a tad high, only because it could take a while for the Ravens to find their footing offensively with new coordinator Todd Monken directing a completely different offense. The Ravens play three AFC North road games in the first five weeks of the season. A slow start would make getting to 11 wins difficult.