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6 Takeaways From Week 3 Of The Ravens Preseason

Alex Woodward
August 23, 2019 - 8:09 pm
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By Alex Woodward

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The Ravens are now riding a 16 game preseason win streak after beating the Eagles in a lightning shortened 26-15 victory. The 3rd preseason game is usually used as a dress rehearsal for teams before they open up the regular season schedule so here are my 6 takeaways from last night's win:

 

1. Trace McSorley may have played his way onto the 53 man roster

The rookie 6th round quarterback wasn't expected to see much action this preseason until Robert Griffin III went down with a thumb injury early in training camp. In the first two preseason games McSorley had pedestrian numbers: 17/35 for 159 yards with 1 TD and 2 INT's. In week 3, McSorley impressed by going 19/28 for 203 yards with 3 total TD's (1 rushing, 2 passing). There was chatter about the possibilities of the Ravens cutting McSorley and then signing him back as a member of the practice squad but after last night's performance and so many teams likely unhappy with their backup quarterbacks, it doesn't seem as likely that McSorley would clear waivers. The Ravens typically don't carry 3 quarterbacks on the 53 man roster although they did that last season with Joe Flacco, Lamar Jackson and Robert Griffin III. It helps that McSorley also contributes on special teams and fans are hoping the Ravens can find a Taysom Hill-like role for him in this offense. The latter doesn't seem in the cards for this season but the rookie is definitely forcing the Ravens to reconsider their options for the 53. 

2. This rookie class brings some much needed excitement to the offense

With Kenneth Dixon, Gus Edwards and Mark Ingram all resting last night, rookie 4th round running back Justice Hill got most of the early looks at running back. His numbers were lackluster when you look at the box score - 7 carries for 8 yards and 2 receptions for 8 yards - but his playmaking ability has been on display this preseason. He has great lateral agility, he's tougher than expected when running between the tackles and it's clear the Ravens would like to see what he can bring to the passing game. He has the makings of a future 3rd down running back and if he builds up enough equity with the coaching staff, it wouldn't surprise me to see him get more touches than Gus Edwards this season. 

Miles Boykin has drawn rave reviews from reporters at training camp but that talent hasn't quite translated to the preseason games. Last night, he had just 1 catch on 2 targets but he turned that reception into a 44 yard gain with most of that yardage coming after the catch. That's a huge area for improvement on this Ravens offense. They need players that can generate yards after the catch. In his lone catch, Boykin ran an out route that wasn't exactly thrown in rhythm or on target by McSorley. Instead of waiting for the ball to come to him like most rookie receivers would, Boykin made a great in-route adjustment by circling back around to come back to the ball while simultaneously putting himself in position to make the catch on the run and then turn upfield. He's a big bodied guy with underrated speed. He's a friendly receiver for a quarterback like Lamar Jackson and it appears he's trending towards a starting role come week 1 against the Dolphins. 

Marquise Brown made his preseason debut last night. The 25th overall pick in the 2019 NFL Draft practiced in Monday's joint practices with the Eagles but then sat out on Tuesday. That led to speculation that Brown might not be ready to play this week and his regular season debut looked like that was at risk of being delayed as well. That speculation was silenced last night when the rookie took the field for most of the first half. He looked fast and I was impressed by his route running. He's not just a speedster, he also runs crisp routes and that's without being fully healthy. He ended the night with 3 catches for 17 yards but the speed was on display and it's clear the Ravens want to find ways to get him the ball in space. They attempted a jet sweep with him which was promptly stopped for a loss of 4 but that was just one example of the multiple schemes Greg Roman will scheme up to try and get "Hollywood" some playmaking opportunities. It was certainly encouraging to see him make his debut, play well and then get out of the game without a setback. This rookie class will have a huge impact on the 2019 Ravens offense. 

3. Michael Floyd vs Seth Roberts 

Both players were signed this offseason as veterans that would be given a chance to make a team with little experience in Baltimore's receiver corps. It was believed that Seth Roberts was a shoe-in for the 53 man roster but he has yet to play since suffering an injury in the Ravens preseason week 1 win against the Jaguars. While Roberts has been sidelined, Floyd has recovered from a slow start to training camp with a great performance against the Eagles backups. He finished the night with 3 catches for 54 yards and a touchdown. I don't expect either player to have much of an impact or role in the regular season offense but the Ravens will almost certainly keep one of them for depth. I expect the Ravens to keep 6 receivers this season. The first 5 are Chris Moore, Marquise Brown, Miles Boykin, Willie Snead and Jaleel Scott...that leaves just one spot for either Floyd or Roberts and it may just come down to who's cheaper to roster. Roberts will count $1 million against the Ravens salary cap while Floyd only counts $645,000 against the cap. At this point Floyd has the edge in health, performance and cost. 

4. The Ravens will play anybody in the slot

There was a lot of talk about who will replace Tavon Young as the teams nickel cornerback. Coach Harbaugh tabbed Cyrus Jones as the guy after last week's win over the Packers while defensive coordinator Don "Wink" Martindale said it would depend on the matchups. After watching last night's game with the Eagles it appears the team is leaning more towards Wink's suggestion. I saw a variety of players in the slot last night including Brandon Carr, Anthony Averett, DeShon Elliott, Cyrus Jones, Chuck Clark and Maurice Canaday. I think more often than not it will either be Carr or Averett playing in the slot but I believe "Wink" when he says it depends on the matchups. It wouldn't surprise me to see Elliott get reps there as a physical run stopper or a blitzer off the edge. If a team has a larger slot receiver, I could see Jimmy Smith sliding over to help press at the line occassionaly. This team has a ton of depth and I think they have full confidence in each player playing a specific role depending on each week's gameplan. 

5. Tyus Bowser has done enough to make the team

At the beginning of training camp I wrote about comments from Ravens defensive line coach, Joe Cullen, stating that these 4 preseason games were "make or break" games for Bowser and Tim Williams. Both played pretty well in the first preseason game. Williams finished with 4 tackles and half a sack. Bowser had 1 tackle and was also credited for half a sack. Week 2, neither made much noise. Williams had 2 tackles, Bowser had 1 tackle and neither was credited for a sack or a QB hit. In week 3 against the Eagles, Bowser was disruptive in the run game and in the pass rush. He had 4 tackles, 2 for a loss and also had a sack. Williams on the otherhand had 1 tackle and 1 QB hit. I'm not sure if the Ravens can afford to cut Tim Williams but it appears that Bowser has done enough to make the 53 man roster after coach Hargaugh praised him in his postgame press conference. 

"He was really explosive off the edge, he's going against really good tackles out there. I think Lane (Johnson) was the only one that didn't play and he had some good rushes. We had good pressure on the quarterback. Tyus has had a good camp. I mean he's been an explosive pass rusher pretty much the whole camp so he should be commended for that."

6. Are the Ravens concerned about their depth at ILB?

Patrick "Peanut" Onwuasor and Chris Board have been tabbed as the week 1 starters at ILB by the Ravens coaching staff while they also say that 2nd year linebacker Kenny Young will also get mixed in. Outside of those three they don't have any other players that fit the mold of an ILB. They've mentioned using their "swiss army knife" Anthony Levine Sr. in that role for certain packages and they've also mentioned using DeShon Elliott there too but I don't think that's their preferred usage of those two players. Undrafted free agent Otaro Alaka has played admirably in his preseason opportunities but I'm not sure if the Ravens are sold on him being the "next man up" in the case of an injury. The day after beating the Eagles, the Ravens signed a former Eagles linebacker to a contract. 

The 29 year old linebacker is coming off a torn ACL and he has already dealt with some swelling in his knee this preseason but he passed the physical so that's a good sign. He adds some much needed experience to that position. His 52 career games in 5 seasons is 13 more than Peanut, Board and Young have combined between the three of them. I don't know if he cracks the 53 man roster but his signing definitely makes you wonder how confident they are with their depth at ILB if someone were to get injured. 

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