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Ravens Week 18 Rookie Report: Trenton Simpson balled out on defense in second half

Their first-round wideout missed his first game of the season while their third-round linebacker had his best.

Pittsburgh Steelers v Baltimore Ravens Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images

The Baltimore Ravens dropped their first game since November in a sloppy 17-10 loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers at home in Week 18. They received significant contributions from their third-round pick while their first-round receiver was out with a minor injury, and their fourth-rounder played extensively as well.

The Ravens had just three of their six 2023 draft selections and none of their undrafted first-year pros dressed. Their only Day Two pick played a tremendous second half and their first pick on Day Three saw an uptick in playing time.

First-round stud wide receiver Zay Flowers missed his first game of the season with a minor calf injury that kept him out of practice all week leading up to the game. Seventh-round offensive guard Andrew Vorhees, who is likely to miss his entire rookie year, remains on the Non-Football Injury list. Undrafted rookie outside linebacker Malik Hamm reverted to season-ending injured reserve after not being activated to the 53-man roster last month.

How did the rookies who took the field fare in their latest taste of NFL action?

ILB Trenton Simpson

Detroit Lions v Baltimore Ravens Photo by G Fiume/Getty Images

The third-round rookie out of Clemson received his most extensive playing time of the season and seized the opportunity the best he could with an incredible performance in the second half. Simpson played almost exclusively on special teams for the vast majority of the 14 games he appeared in prior to the regular season finale, where he was on the field for a season-high 26 snaps on defense after playing just 20 in every other game combined.

It didn’t take long for him to come up with his second splash play in as many weeks as he recorded his first career sack on a delayed blitz where he had an unimpeded path to Steelers quarterback Mason Rudolph on Pittsburgh’s second drive of the third quarter.

Simpson finished with a career-high seven total tackles including six solos, two for a loss, two on special teams, and a quarterback hit. His most impressive plays by far were a pair of open field tackles he made on Steelers running backs at and behind the line of scrimmage. The first was on Pro Bowler Najee Harris, which resulted in a no gain, and forced a punt. The other was on Jaylen Warren, which resulted in a loss of five yards, and forced Pittsburgh to settle for a short field goal instead of potentially going up by two touchdowns late in the fourth quarter.

EDGE Tavius Robinson

Seattle Seahawks v Baltimore Ravens Photo by Michael Owens/Getty Images

The fourth-round rookie out of Ole Miss was active on both defense and special teams. Tavius actually played 10 more defensive snaps than Simpson with 36, which marked his third-highest total of the season and the most since he played 39 in Week 4 against the Cleveland Browns. Robinson also set a new career high in total tackles with five including two solos and had a pressure that was nearly his second career sack before Rudolph got rid of the ball running right.

OL Malaesala Aumavae-Laulu

NFL: SEP 24 Colts at Ravens Photo by Jeffrey Brown/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

The sixth-round rookie out of Oregon surprisingly didn’t play a single offensive snap in the regular season finale despite the fact that every other Ravens offensive lineman saw action and played at least 21 or more. Just as was the case in the other two games he was active for earlier in the season, he didn’t even play on special teams on PAT or field goal protection meaning he went the entire regular season without seeing the field.