On a day marred by injuries were and only three of the team’s six draft selections dressed for the game, their top pick was the brightest star on offense. The other two mostly played special teams and hardly contributed on defense.
The only healthy drafted rookie who did not participate was sixth-round rookie offensive lineman Malaesala Aumavae-Laulu, who was a healthy scratch. Seventh-round offensive guard Andrew Vorhees is likely to miss his entire rookie season after tearing his ACL at the 2023 scouting combine.
How did the rookies who took the field yesterday fare in their first real taste of NFL regular season action?
WR Zay Flowers
The first-round rookie out of Boston College was excellent in his regular season debut. He lived up to the nickname “joystick” that Lamar Jackson gave him this summer.
Flowers led the team in total touches with 11, receiving yards with 78, and his game-high nine receptions were more than the rest of the Ravens receivers combined. He would’ve finished with a game-high 87 receiving yards had he not lost nine yards on back-to-back screens that were snuffed out behind the line of scrimmage.
Flowers touched the ball on five of the Ravens’ 11 total offensive drives of the game. He made one or more defenders miss in open space almost every time he touched the ball and picked up five first downs. His ability to make sharp cuts, juke moves, and get upfield in a hurry was on full display. He had four plays of 17-plus yards including a long of 21 yards that set up the Ravens’ first touchdown drive.
Zay Flowers drops a defender in the first quarter of his first NFL game. Filthy. pic.twitter.com/fhiSmqSvoM— Ryan Mink (@ryanmink) September 10, 2023
“I already knew what Zay was capable of, and he showed it himself – making guys miss and running great routes, catching the ball and getting up the field, getting yards after the catch,” Jackson said. “We want to get everybody involved. We have a lot of great guys on that field and in our receiving room. I feel like we’re on to something special here.”
After the game, Flowers talked about how the game is already slowing down for him. Also, how much he is looking forward to seeing the offense as a whole operate even “smoother” in their next game, which happens to be against the Cincinnati Bengals on the road.
“I told you that I’d get used to the speed of it,” Flowers said. “Today it slowed down for me. I was just pleased to get some catches. Two catches, I’d be good with that. First game, get the win.”
Ravens Offensive Coordinator Todd Monken made a clear and concerted effort to get the ball in Flowers’ hands early and often. If that’s any indication of what to expect moving forward, he is in store for quite an active and productive rookie season.
ILB Trenton Simpson
The third-round rookie out of Clemson played exclusively on special teams, where he covered and blocked on kicks and punts returns but didn’t register a tackle. With their starting inside linebacker tandem balling out and fourth-year pro Malik Harrison splitting time at SAM outside linebacker, there’s no clear path to playing time on defense for Simpson — for the time being.
EDGE Tavius Robinson
The fourth-round rookie out of Ole Miss spent the bulk of his snaps playing on special teams but did some limited action on defense in the second half. While he didn’t record a tackle, Robinson was able to flush Texans rookie quarterback C.J. Stroud out of the pocket on one of his pass-rushing snaps.
If the Ravens can get up big on more teams earlier in games, he would likely see even more action as a rotation rusher off the edge or even inside at five-technique.