Five issues we realized from the Ravens’ 24-17 preseason win over the Arizona Cardinals

The Ravens, taking part in with out quarterback Lamar Jackson and different key starters, prolonged their preseason profitable streak to 22, led by one other sterling efficiency from backup quarterback Tyler Huntley and a exceptional first half from rookie tight finish Isaiah Likely. Here are 5 issues we realized from Sunday evening’s 24-17 victory:

Good luck quieting the Isaiah Likely hype practice after that efficiency.

This Likely factor is getting out of hand. In three months, the rookie tight finish has ascended from a fourth-round choose elevating eyebrows in OTAs to the third most essential go catcher on the staff behind Mark Andrews and Rashod Bateman. That may sound like hyperbole, however has any Raven made extra thrilling performs this summer season?

On the Ravens’ first drive, Tyler Huntley was flushed from the pocket and rolling to his left when he discovered Likely transferring ahead to assist him. Likely not solely made a contested catch however he spun away from his defender and turned the play right into a 20-yard achieve. He did it once more within the second quarter, catching a 5-yard go, breaking a deal with and turning the play right into a 31-yard achieve.

“I think that’s what sticks out the most, what he can do after the catch,” Huntley mentioned.

Six of Likely’s eight catches went for a primary down or landing, a sign of the rookie’s really feel for locating open areas and attending to the precise yard marker. He simply appears like a pure receiver with each transfer he makes.

Fox analyst Greg Olsen, a former standout tight finish in his personal proper, in contrast him to a “young Darren Waller.”

We’re on the level the place different groups should be asking how Likely, who has 12 catches on 12 targets for 144 yards in two preseason video games, fell to the 139th general choose. He wasn’t even the primary tight finish the Ravens drafted, although neither was Andrews in 2018.

As Ravens followers questioned why the staff steered away from large receivers after buying and selling Marquise Brown, a few of us wrote that Likely may find yourself being the very best reply to the query. It’s an concept that’s wanting higher and higher each time he takes the sphere.

It was exhausting to discover a Ravens rookie who didn’t make a constructive play.

Likely was the headliner, and we’ll discuss defensive deal with Travis Jones in one other merchandise, however this was an evening full of constructive contributions from the staff’s 11-man draft class.

You like particular groups? Punter Jordan Stout pinned the Cardinals inside their 5-yard line on every of his first two punts, bombed his third 58 yards and made an additional level with Justin Tucker holding.

You like kind tackling? Cornerback Damarion “Pepe” Williams made an ideal stick on Cardinals large receiver Greg Dortch to drive Arizona to fourth down on its second drive. Veteran Kyle Fuller adopted with an interception on the following play. Williams added his personal choose later within the sport.

You like rangy playmaking? Safety Kyle Hamilton learn a run-pass possibility completely and used his uncommon size to bat down a go within the crimson zone late within the second quarter.

You like exhausting, slashing runs? Sixth-round choose Tyler Badie was the staff’s most efficient ball service, including a third-quarter landing catch for good measure.

“I feel like we got the best rookie class in all 32,” Likely mentioned.

And after all, first-round choose Tyler Linderbaum, second-round choose David Ojabo and fourth-round choose Charlie Kolar weren’t on the sphere due to accidents.

Defensive line depth is shaping up as a power.

We didn’t see the Ravens’ most dependable inside defender, Calais Campbell, or their powerhouse nostril deal with, Michael Pierce. Justin Madubuike didn’t play a lot.

The good news for the Ravens was that they didn’t want any of their prime three defensive linemen to supply some wonderful work within the trenches.

The pleasure begins with third-round choose Jones, who merely overwhelms single blockers. Twice within the second quarter, we noticed him explode up the center to destroy Trace McSorley’s pocket. Jones drew a nonsensical roughing penalty when he shoved McSorley to the bottom in the long run zone, however the Ravens should be thrilled with the dynamism the rookie brings to their inside go rush. Pierce and Campbell have marveled at his mixture of mass and agility.

The Ravens received a scare when Jones left the field with a knee injury, however coach John Harbaugh mentioned it was a hyperextension that can hold him out the remainder of preseason however doubtless not jeopardize a big chunk of his common season.

Jones wasn’t the one younger defensive deal with to flash.

Isaiah Mack, who spent the top of final season on the staff’s follow squad, beat the left guard to get in McSorley’s face and drive an incompletion that halted Arizona’s first drive. It was the primary of a number of standout rushes from Mack, who additionally completed with three tackles.

Aaron Crawford, who spent final yr on injured reserve, generated constant push, making two tackles and clearing house for others to function.

“Those guys really stepped up,” Harbaugh mentioned.

The Ravens received’t be capable to hold all of those defensive tackles on their 53-man roster, however all of them appear to be NFL gamers and have all through camp.

Tyler Huntley was wonderful once more, however let’s cease with the discuss him as an alternative choice to Lamar Jackson.

Huntley couldn’t have been so much higher towards the Cardinals, finishing 13 of 14 passes for 129 yards and a landing in a efficiency Harbaugh referred to as “masterful.” He dealt with stress properly, discovered receivers in rhythm and led two scoring drives of 10 performs or extra.

Fox commentators and social media posters used his excellence as an excuse to select up a drained story, the concept that Huntley’s presence one way or the other provides the Ravens leverage of their extension negotiations with Jackson.

Yes, Huntley has given the Ravens ample cause to really feel comfy with him as their backup. But let’s not neglect that they misplaced 5 video games in a row and fell out of playoff competition after Jackson damage his ankle in Cleveland final yr. Though Huntley did an honest job getting the ball out shortly and precisely, their offense lacked the improvisational brilliance, the big-play upside No. 8 brings.

The Ravens are engaged in a posh negotiation with their franchise participant, one that might carry into subsequent offseason or past. This would be the backdrop to each dialog we hear about Jackson within the nationwide media, irrespective of how the staff performs. But there isn’t any Plan B.

Again, that’s no knock on Huntley. As Harbaugh mentioned, his “timing and precision continue to go on the trajectory you want to see.” It’s simply that there’s a cause why the highest 10 quarterbacks on the earth are among the many most treasured athletes in all of sports activities.

Say what you’ll concerning the preseason profitable streak, however it provides juice to the top of those video games.

On many ranges, it felt absurd to care whether or not Cardinals third-string quarterback Jarrett Guarantano may end off an unbelievable comeback towards a bunch of Ravens defenders who most probably won’t see the sphere throughout the common season.

But that’s the bizarre spell solid by a bizarre document: the Ravens’ preseason profitable streak, now at 22 video games after they held on in Arizona.

Safety Ar’Darius Washington thrust his arms to the sky in triumph after he knocked away Guarantano’s remaining try, partly as a result of it was a standout second for him as he tries to earn a job in a crowded secondary but additionally as a result of he secured one other “meaningless” win for the best preseason juggernaut in NFL historical past.

There will all the time be skeptics who argue that Harbaugh invitations accidents by deploying related gamers seeking idiot’s gold. But there’s not a lot proof of that in his utilization patterns this preseason. The document is finest considered as an oddity, a testomony to the Ravens’ roster depth and a welcome dose of leisure in video games that may in any other case maintain little attract for informal followers.

“It’s not the thing we’re thinking about the most by any stretch,” Harbaugh mentioned, however he added that the streak reveals “a lot of guys have found a lot of ways to come through.”

Huntley mentioned the gamers do care: “It means a lot to us just to show that every time you step on the field with the Ravens, you’ve got to be ready to play.”

Preseason, Week 3

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