The Baltimore Ravens went on the road for the first time this regular season and came away with a 27-24 statement win over the Cincinnati Bengals on Sunday. They received some contributions from their 2023 rookie draft class, especially their top pick.
On a day where the team had several players and all four of the team’s six draft selections dressed for the game, their first overall selection was one of the brightest stars on offense for the second week in a row.
For the first time this season, every healthy first-year player participated in the game with the exception of seventh-round offensive guard Andrew Vorhees, who is likely to miss his entire rookie year. Undrafted rookies Keaton Mitchell and Malik Hamm remain on injured reserve but will be eligible to return as early as Week 5.
How did the rookies who took the field yesterday fare in their second real taste of NFL regular season action?
WR Zay Flowers
The first-round rookie out of Boston College didn’t have the ball funneled to him like it was in Week 1 when he led the team in targets, receptions, receiving yards, and total touches. However, that didn’t stop Flowers from making awe-inspiring highlight plays when the ball did come his way in Week 2 against the Bengals. His first touch didn’t come until the second quarter and it resulted in an electric 11-yard reception for first down to spark an eventual touchdown drive.
Flowers’ most impressive play of the game and perhaps season thus far didn’t involve any jukes or cuts. On the first play following a change of possession as a result of Geno Stone’s clutch interception, he hauled in a 52-yard bomb from Lamar Jackson. Flowers split the coverage between two defenders and tracked the ball exceptionally well.
“Just watching film knowing what they were going to do, we had to cross the route and I saw the safety driving on that cross route and Zay [Flowers], he’s going to get away from corners,” Jackson said postgame. “They have explosive guys, fast guys, I just had to give him a chance, and he made a heck of a catch.”
ILB Trenton Simpson
The third-round rookie out of Clemson played exclusively on special teams for the second week in a row and didn’t have many opportunities to cover any kicks. The lone punt he did get to cover controversially resulted in a touchdown for the Bengals on a play where fellow rookie Charlie Jones returned Jordan Stout’s first boot 81 yards to the house.
Missed block in the back penalty aside, Simpson had a chance to bring him down but whiffed on the tackle attempt and his teammates did a poor job of maintaining their rush-lane integrity to prevent the play from finishing in a game-tying score.
The Ravens didn’t come particularly close to stopping this. Trenton Simpson had the best look. pic.twitter.com/XzLtrRlpsJ— Jonas Shaffer (@jonas_shaffer) September 17, 2023
EDGE Tavius Robinson
The fourth-round rookie out of Ole Miss also played on special teams. He got to see the field more in the second half at the RUSH linebacker spot after third-year pro Odafe Oweh left the game in the third quarter with an undisclosed injury. Robinson rotated with second-year pro David Ojabo and three-time Pro Bowl veteran Jadaveon Clowney. He finished with a solo tackle and a quarterback hit.
OL Malaesala Aumavae-Laulu
The sixth-round rookie offensive lineman out of Oregon made his NFL regular season debut after being a healthy scratch in Week 1 but didn’t see the field on offense. With a pair of starting linemen out with injury, Aumavae-Laulu seemed to only to be dressed to serve as a backup at left guard behind starter John Simpson, who had a strong game.