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Ravens News 9/7: Multiplicity on Offense and more

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Baltimore Ravens v Washington Commanders Photo by Scott Taetsch/Getty Images

Mark Andrews Returns to Ravens Practice

Ryan Mink,

Ravens tight end Mark Andrews is back at practice Wednesday, as anticipated.

Andrews was running sprints on a side field as players arrived for practice ahead of Sunday’s season-opener against the Houston Texans.

On Monday, Head Coach John Harbaugh told reporters and fans not to push the panic button when Andrews missed his sixth straight practice due to undisclosed injury reasons.

Backup quarterback Tyler Huntley was again practicing Wednesday after returning Monday for the first time since his hamstring injury in the preseason opener on Aug. 11. It remains to be seen who the No. 2 quarterback is for Sunday’s game between Huntley and Josh Johnson.

NFL execs rank AFC teams: Chiefs, Bengals lead way with Jaguars jumping up

Mike Sando, The Athletic

5. Baltimore Ravens

Votes: 6-7-8-6-4-2 | Avg: 5.5 | Median: 6

The six-spot spread between highest and lowest votes for Baltimore was the second-largest for any team in the AFC (Pittsburgh 7). The gap represents differing expectations on offense with a new coordinator (Todd Monken) implementing a scheme that promises to feature Lamar Jackson more as a passer. There are also questions about a defense that has fallen off over the past couple seasons.

“I don’t know what the offense is going to look like,” an exec who placed the Ravens sixth said. “The quarterback seems to think he can be a volume passer. It is a total ‘what if’ that could blow up.”

The exec placing Baltimore second in the conference acknowledged this was a high-risk play.

“People are down on Lamar because of injuries, but this is still a relatively young guy who has the best setup of his career from an offensive standpoint,” this exec said. “I’m really intrigued with Monken coming in to modernize the pass game. We know they will be able to run the ball. I like Baltimore in the overlooked, chip-on-their-shoulder role with a rejuvenated Lamar, a head coach who always keeps his teams competitive, a young receiver in Zay Flowers who can get open quickly, some additional explosiveness with Odell Beckham Jr.

Others think Jackson thrives in a run-oriented offense, and that a major deviation from that template could be short-lived.

“The new passing offense should be great until the third week of the season when the offense miraculously looks the same as it did before,” one of these execs said.

The X Factors for All 32 NFL Teams

Ben Solak, The Ringer

Baltimore Ravens: WR Odell Beckham Jr.

Here’s what I know about the Ravens’ passing attack: I know Lamar Jackson is a quality NFL passer with the talent to make it work. (He’s 13th in the league in EPA per pass attempt since 2019. That means we’re excluding scrambles.) I also know that Todd Monken can build a great passing attack at the NFL level. (Anyone else fondly remember those Jameis Winston seasons?)

What I don’t know is how this WR room will shake out. Zay Flowers is an X factor—a rookie with great talent but size questions. Rashod Bateman is an X factor—a first rounder who has been good, but unable to stay on the field. And Beckham is an X factor. I’m willing to call him the biggest one because he’s the one that we know, for sure, when healthy, is an impactful player. Beckham played great during the Rams’ Super Bowl season and is 1.5 years removed from his ACL tear—presumably, he’s fully healthy. If he’s good, the Ravens have every piece in place.

Identifying the Biggest Strengths and Weaknesses for Every 2023 AFC Team

Matt Verderame, Sports Illustrated

Baltimore Ravens

Strength: Multiplicity of offense

After years of being a run-heavy offense under coordinator Greg Roman, Baltimore’s attack will look much different under Todd Monken.

Expect quarterback Lamar Jackson to throw more than he ever has and produce his first 4,000-yard season, all while the Ravens remain a constant threat on the ground between J.K. Dobbins, Gus Edwards and Jackson.

Weakness: Defensive front

Where is the pass rush coming from? The Ravens lost veterans Jason Pierre-Paul, Calais Campbell and Justin Houston to free agency, after Houston posted a team-best 9.5 sacks in 2022.

Now, Baltimore is relying on a late-summer signing in Jadeveon Clowney and third-year edge rusher Odafe Oweh, who has eight career sacks. Big ask.

The Ravens’ blessing? Facing the lowly Texans in Week 1.

Mike Preston, The Baltimore Sun

The Ravens hardly played any of their starters in the preseason so they should have some kinks to work out, especially on offense with new coordinator Todd Monken and three receivers — veterans Odell Beckham Jr., Nelson Agholor and rookie Zay Flowers — added during the offseason.

They’ll get a chance to experiment and tinker with some things against the Texans before they travel to Cincinnati on Sept. 17 to face their rivals, the Bengals, who have won the last two AFC North titles.

“It’s really not about the opponent per se as much as we execute, how we run, how we operate, how we play, [and] play the way we envision ourselves playing,” Harbaugh said. “That’s what we’re really going to be focused on.

“That would be true no matter who we’re playing. Any opener and really any game, to different degrees, but especially in the opening game.”

But as much anticipation as there is in Baltimore to see Monken’s new passing game, the new Ravens might return to old form and run the ball. Houston ranked 30th in total defense and last in rushing yards allowed per game (170.2) last season.

Week 1 NFL picks: Bills spoil Aaron Rodgers’ debut with Jets; Steelers, Packers pull off upsets

Pete Prisco, CBS Sports

Houston Texans at Baltimore Ravens (-10)

Sunday, 1 p.m. ET (CBS, Paramount+)

Rookie quarterback C.J. Stroud will be making his first NFL start on the road against solid defense in the Ravens. The Ravens will be unveiling their new-look offense under new coordinator Todd Monken, an offense that will allow Lamar Jackson to do more in the passing game. Look for Jackson to have a big first day as Stroud struggles.

Pick: Ravens 31, Texans 14