The Baltimore Ravens were back at home in Week 3 and unsuccessfully defended M&T Bank Stadium in a 22-19 loss to the Indianapolis Colts in overtime on Sunday. They received some contributions from their 2023 rookie draft class, especially their top pick and middle-round selection.
On a day when the team had all four of the team’s six draft selections on the active roster dressed for the game, their first overall selection was heavily involved and their third pick saw the field early and often.
For the second time this season, every healthy first-year player was in uniform 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
Before he became the center of a pair of controversial and ultimately pivotal late penalties that weren’t called, the first-round rookie out of Boston College had another busy day in which he got involved early and often in the offensive game plan.
Flowers played 67 offensive snaps which was 93 percent of the team’s total and was targeted twice as much as any other Ravens pass catcher with 10. He finished as the team leader in receptions and receiving yards for the second time in the first three games with eight catches for 48 yards and added another two yards to his scrimmage yards total on a rushing attempt.
Flowers was Jackson’s favorite target late in the game and in overtime in some key situations. Unfortunately for him and the Ravens, the officials missed a pair of blatant penalties committed against him that could’ve turned the tide and potentially the end result in their favor.
The first was a clear facemask on Flowers by Colts defensive end Kwity Paye on his lone rushing attempt that should’ve at least resulted in offsetting penalties since veteran wide receiver Nelson Agholor was flagged for an illegal block. The second was not only the most egregious of the two but it proved to be the most costly in the end. Facing a 4th-and-3 from the Indianapolis 47-yard line, Flowers was impeded from making a catch before the ball even arrived by linebacker E.J. Speed on what was a painfully obvious defensive pass interference foul but it wasn’t called, resulting in a turnover on downs for the Ravens.
Flowers’ lone special teams snap ended up being an unintended mistake where he fair caught a punt instead of returning it and taking the clock under two minutes late in the fourth quarter after time was added back on following a safety. After the game, Head Coach John Harbaugh said that they weren’t able to communicate to him that the plan had changed but he could’ve used one of his two timeouts and relayed the message.
ILB Trenton Simpson
The third-round rookie out of Clemson played exclusively on special teams for the third week in a row and unlike last week, he had plenty of opportunities to cover any kicks and block on returns. He was on the punt return unit that helped spring All-Pro return specialist Devin Duvernay for a huge 31-yard return in overtime that put the Ravens offense in prime position to move into comfortable range for a game-winning field goal but they failed to capitalize, went three-and-out and wound up punting the ball back to the Colts four plays later.
EDGE Tavius Robinson
The fourth-round rookie out of Ole Miss was active on special teams as well but also got his most extensive playing time at the RUSH linebacker spot after second-year pro David Ojabo left the game in the first half with an ankle injury and did not return. He played 55 defensive snaps which was 65 percent of the team’s total and 18 snaps on special teams which was 50 percent of the team’s total.
Robinson rotated with three-time Pro Bowl veteran Jadaveon Clowney and second-year pro Jeremiah Moon and finished with a career-high three total tackles including a solo. He helped generate the pressure that led to Colts backup quarterback Gardner Minshew stepping out of the back of the end zone for a safety.
OL Malaesala Aumavae-Laulu
The sixth-round rookie offensive lineman out of Oregon was dressed for his second NFL regular season game after being a healthy scratch in Week 1 but didn’t see the field on offense again. With a pair of starting linemen out with injuries, Aumavae-Laulu was only active to serve as a backup at left guard behind starter John Simpson.