Five issues we discovered from the Ravens’ 17-15 preseason win over the Washington Commanders


The Ravens, once more enjoying with out quarterback Lamar Jackson and plenty of of their starters, extended their preseason winning streak Saturday to 23 games behind a robust debut efficiency from large receiver Demarcus Robinson and a gritty defensive effort.

Here are 5 issues we discovered from their 17-15 victory over the Washington Commanders:

Whether it issues or not, the Ravens didn’t take any shortcuts to a different unbeaten preseason.

John Harbaugh’s heard the query too many occasions to rely by now. When your crew wins 23 straight video games over six preseasons, the longest streak in recorded NFL historical past and an object of fascination within the wider sports activities world, reporters are likely to bug you in regards to the larger which means of all of it.

“Like I say all the time, ‘There’s significance and meaning to everything in life,’” Harbaugh stated Saturday. “The guys that were out there playing, I promise you, it’s significant to those guys who played in the game and found a way to win the game.”

The recreation was important sufficient to the introduced 70,411 in attendance — possibly 1 / 4 of whom really got here out to M&T Bank Stadium — that when Commanders rookie quarterback Sam Howell missed deep on a throw to large receiver Matt Cole, properly lined by security Ar’Darius Washington, a surge of sound reached the press field. It wasn’t just like the Ravens had overwhelmed the Pittsburgh Steelers in extra time on “Monday Night Football.” But for a preseason recreation, it was nonetheless decently loud.

It’s a waste of time to match preseason successes, however the Ravens’ 3-0 document this month might need been their most spectacular August of the streak. Harbaugh took no shortcuts. He sat his big-name starters in all three video games and rested some lesser-known starters Saturday, even giving rookie punter Jordan Stout the night time off.

Late Saturday, with their streak in jeopardy and their protection operating out of our bodies, the Ravens didn’t panic. They performed with three inside linebackers on their ultimate defensive sequence as a result of they needed to. They performed rookie large receiver Raleigh Webb as a deep security as a result of they needed to.

“Raleigh had played safety a little bit in college, and said he could do it,” Harbaugh stated. “So we put him out there, and he did all right.”

When Howell’s ultimate go fell incomplete, security Tony Jefferson ran alongside the sideline to have fun with the Ravens’ last-gasp protection. By then, they had been operating on fumes. Harbaugh joked afterward that a few of the crew’s defensive linemen performed a lot that he frightened the crew would wish defibrillators. But the Ravens performed on, and so they received once more. And so the streak goes on. And so the questions will proceed. That’s nice in Baltimore.

“It was survival of the fittest at the end there,” Harbaugh stated. “We do talk to the guys about, ‘When you get tired, the value of fatigue is in preparation.’ So you have a long practice, a tough practice … really focus on your execution and your technique toward the end of those practices, and hopefully those guys thought about that out there in the fourth quarter today.”

Ben Powers and Isaiah Likely didn’t play Saturday, and that’s in all probability factor.

The Ravens entered August with the same old barrel of questions hanging over the early days of coaching camp. Among essentially the most urgent: Who would win the left guard competition? Among essentially the most attention-grabbing: Just how good was rookie tight end Isaiah Likely?

Near the top of August, the solutions appear conclusive. Ben Powers, who began 12 video games at left guard final season and was the early front-runner in camp, didn’t costume for Saturday’s recreation, a privilege afforded to a bunch of projected starters. Also in sweats was Likely, who ranked among the many NFL’s receiving leaders after two preseason video games with 12 catches on 12 targets for 144 yards and a landing.

Powers getting the night time off two weeks earlier than the Ravens’ season opener would’ve appeared unlikely not way back. But Likely, too? That was unimaginable in May, when essentially the most buzzworthy factor in regards to the No. 139 general draft choose was that the Ravens wished Memphis large receiver Calvin Austin there — till the Steelers took him at No. 138 general.

But in camp and two preseason video games, Powers and Likely did sufficient to get spectator standing Saturday. If the left guard battle is certainly over, Powers received it with savvy and stamina. He was strong all through camp, avoiding penalties — one thing Tyre Phillips struggled with — and taking snaps at heart to bolster his game-day worth. Powers was additionally obtainable, which Ben Cleveland, for the second straight camp, was not.

Likely, in the meantime, made himself indispensable with catch after catch. In necessary minicamp, he appeared to earn Jackson’s belief with a handful of spectacular grabs. In camp, he toasted defensive again Brandon Stephens in the course of the second observe for a protracted catch-and-run rating, then spent the following few weeks discovering creases in zones and shaking defenders in man-to-man protection. In the preseason, he turned himself right into a viable fantasy soccer goal.

So on Saturday, he sidled as much as star tight finish Mark Andrews and loved the view.

Wide receiver Demarcus Robinson gave the Ravens a debut efficiency to recollect.

Signing Robinson didn’t require a king’s ransom. The former Kansas City Chiefs and Las Vegas Raiders (briefly, anyway) large receiver joined the Ravens on Monday on a one-year, $1 million deal, almost $900,000 of it assured, a much-needed insurance coverage plan given the state of their depth chart. James Proche II (comfortable tissue) hasn’t practiced in over two weeks. Tylan Wallace (knee), held out once more Saturday, performed in just one quarter this preseason.

But after solely three practices collectively, the Ravens nonetheless wished to see Robinson in recreation motion. He’d performed simply 19 snaps within the Raiders’ preseason opener in opposition to the Minnesota Vikings, catching two of three passes for 28 yards. He was launched earlier than the NFL’s second weekend of video games. In Baltimore, there was loads to study.

“We have a big [play]book, and we have a lot in right now,” Harbaugh stated Thursday. “We’re kind of still in camp mode in terms of repping our stuff and trying to get good at it. So I’m sure he’s trying to figure out what to do as much as anything, but he looks good out here.”

He appeared nice on the market Saturday — or, possibly extra precisely, he appeared like a longtime complementary large receiver operating circles across the form of cornerbacks and safeties who play the majority of a crew’s snaps in its preseason finale.

On his first massive play, a 67-yard catch-and-run landing punctuated by Deion Sanders-esque high-stepping, Robinson cooked an overeager Washington secondary with a slant-and-go double transfer down the left sideline. He made quarterback Anthony Brown’s first drop-back of the sport a bountiful one, handing the Ravens a 7-3 lead within the second quarter they wouldn’t relinquish.

On Robinson’s second massive play, the Ravens went again to the identical properly with a unique bucket. After an out-and-up double transfer, once more down the left sideline, Robinson didn’t have a defender inside spitting distance when he secured the catch. The 52-yard connection arrange the Ravens’ second landing drive, and three performs later, Brown scrambled in from 6 yards out for a 17-6 lead halfway by way of the third quarter.

Robinson wasn’t all precision and massive performs. Early within the third quarter, he received open on third down for a fade to the nook of the top zone however did not get each ft inbounds after securing possession. The Ravens as an alternative settled for a 38-yard area purpose from kicker-punter Cameron Dicker and a 10-6 lead.

But the outcomes — 4 catches for 135 yards and a landing lower than every week after arriving in Baltimore — had been greater than encouraging. He’s nonetheless studying the playbook, in any case.

“I’m not going to say I know everything, so I still have a lot of learning to do,” he stated. “But I know enough to go out there and make a couple plays, for sure.”

These Ravens can’t say no to a large receiver like that.

Roster battles at inside linebacker and alongside the defensive position went up a degree within the preseason finale.

Kristian Welch didn’t care about enjoying it cool. After a nine-tackle, 2 1/2-sack efficiency in opposition to Washington, the Ravens’ third-year inside linebacker and particular groups standout acknowledged the stakes. He would possibly’ve been enjoying for his job Saturday. He would possibly’ve additionally simply secured a roster spot Saturday.

“It’s important,” Welch stated. “I would be lying if I said it wasn’t an important time of year for, really, I don’t know what percentage … a large percentage of the team. You just go out there and not try to get too involved. Let the game come to you. Prepare off the field, watch the film, get your playbook and everything you can do to put yourself in the position to make plays.”

There weren’t lots of roster spots up for grabs getting into the Ravens’ preseason finale, however strive telling that to the reserves who took the sphere. Teams don’t win as many preseason video games because the Ravens have, or as comprehensively because the Ravens have, with a laissez-faire angle amongst their no-name ranks.

At inside linebacker, the place one of many crew’s most attention-grabbing roster battles has developed, Welch flew round as a blitzer. Rookie Josh Ross, probably his high competitors for a spot because the Ravens’ fourth inside linebacker, completed with a team-high 11 tackles.

Along the defensive position, the place rookie sort out Travis Jones’ minor knee damage might need opened a roster spot, Isaiah Mack and Aaron Crawford continued their push to make an NFL roster Tuesday — if not the Ravens’, then another person’s. Mack had a half-sack. Crawford had a sort out for loss. His late-game groin damage might need simplified the Ravens’ considering, however there was loads to contemplate. This time of yr, there at all times is.

“Once we see the tape, it might be a decision or two,” Harbaugh stated. “You have to decide, not just between guys at a position, but how many guys you keep at one position across to another. Special teams plays a big factor in that. So we’ll just see where we go tomorrow and the next day.”

The Ravens’ roster scenario getting into Week 1 isn’t excellent, nevertheless it may be loads worse.

Throughout the offseason, after which into coaching camp, the Ravens heard questions on their go rush, about their large receivers, about their accidents, about their quarterback’s future.

Two weeks from their season opener, these questions nonetheless stay. And they’re not insignificant ones. But the Ravens, crucially, go away their preseason schedule with out way more bother than once they entered it.

Sure, there have been accidents. Jones, one of many crew’s most spectacular draft picks from an instant-impact rookie class, is predicted to overlook three to 5 weeks with a knee damage suffered within the Ravens’ second preseason win. Rookie tight finish Charlie Kolar is still recovering from sports hernia surgery. Cornerback Kevon Seymour (ankle) and Crawford took knocks Saturday that may pop their roster bubble.

But the Ravens will enter Week 1 with a roster brimming with expertise each younger and outdated, on each offense and protection, with good well being for a lot of and steadily enhancing well being for the remaining. They can be substantial highway favorites in opposition to the probably Zach Wilson-less Jets on Sept. 11, at the same time as left tackle Ronnie Stanley and running back J.K. Dobbins work their manner again into recreation form.

And with the damage luck they’re due after final yr’s movie-level catastrophe, the Ravens’ roster may very well be in even higher standing come October. By then, exterior linebacker Tyus Bowser may very well be prepared to finish his comeback from a torn Achilles tendon. The countdowns for operating again Gus Edwards (knee) and rookie exterior linebacker David Ojabo (Achilles) might need already began, too.

Whatever’s constructed round it, the inspiration for a profitable Ravens season is already in place. No matter what number of occasions the Ravens run for 200 yards this season, it is a passing league. And in Jackson, they’ve a quarterback who earned rave opinions in camp for his arm power and improved accuracy. They have an offensive line that ought to give him time to undergo his reads. They have a potential star pass rusher in outside linebacker Odafe Oweh. And they’ve one of many NFL’s deepest and most versatile secondaries.

It’s too early to know whether or not that’s sufficient for a Super Bowl. But in late August, it’s begin.

Week 1

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Sunday, Sept. 11, 1 p.m.

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