Mike Preston’s Ravens observations on a flexible offensive line, rookies getting in form, a Kyle Hamilton comparability and extra | COMMENTARY


The Ravens have quite a lot of flexibility on the offensive line, but it surely’s onerous to find out how good this group might be.

The Ravens have to this point had three weeks of voluntary observe and some days of necessary minicamp, so it’s a great time to experiment.

They have shuffled quite a lot of gamers round, which permits them to be inventive in case of accidents. On Tuesday, Ja’Wuan James began at left deal with with Morgan Moses on the proper aspect. A day later, they flipped positions and performed fairly nicely.

The new tandem is extra athletic than final yr’s starter Alejandro Villanueva, who struggled with velocity rushers.

The Ravens additionally must choose a beginning guard mixture. Kevin Zeitler might be penciled in at proper guard, however each Tyre Phillips and Ben Powers have began on the left aspect with Ben Cleveland as a 3rd possibility.

Rookie Tyler Linderbaum, the second of two first-round picks in April, has been beginning at heart, however the staff has ample replacements in Patrick Mekari and Trystan Colon.

Regardless, this seems to be a hard-working group. Run blocking is anticipated to be their forte as soon as once more, however they’re already higher cross blockers than they have been a yr in the past. The Ravens allowed a team-record 57 sacks final season.

Now, if Pro Bowl left deal with Ronnie Stanley can return wholesome from an ankle harm he suffered practically a yr and a half in the past, this line has potential. Quarterback Lamar Jackson may turn into one of many happiest individuals in Baltimore.

Rookies not prepared but

It’s puzzling why rookies present as much as these minicamps out of practice.

In some circumstances, they nonetheless have one semester of college left, to allow them to’t work out like professional gamers. But quite a lot of these rookies go away faculty early to allow them to practice for the NFL scouting mix, their faculty’s professional day and offseason actions.

Two of the Ravens’ prime rookies must report in higher form when coaching camp opens in late July.

Daniel Faalele, the 6-foot-8, 380-pound offensive deal with out of Minnesota who was drafted in fourth spherical, struggled via observe once more Wednesday.

Not solely was he gradual and methodical, however he indicated when the Ravens have been going to cross or run. When he carried a “light stick,” or leaned again in his stance, it was a cross.

Faalele might be labeled a venture, very similar to exterior linebacker Odafe Oweh was final yr, however Oweh had way more ability and a stronger motor as a rookie.

Rookie Travis Jones, the 6-4, 327-pound defensive deal with chosen within the third spherical out of Connecticut, has additionally struggled with conditioning.

With Michael Pierce out for a “personal matter” and the Ravens reaching a contract settlement with injured veteran Derek Wolfe, Jones began Wednesday, however he was clearly drained early within the 2 1/2-hour observe.

Fortunately, each Jones and Faalele will get about six weeks to enhance their conditioning for coaching camp, which ought to be greater than sufficient time.

Twice as good

The Ravens are doing a little neat little issues with this two-tight finish offense, particularly with the mixture of 6-6, 250-pound rookie Charlie Kolar and veteran Mark Andrews.

Not solely will the formation power opposing defenses to respect each the run and the cross, but it surely might result in some mismatches with linebackers pressured to cowl one of many tight ends one-on-one.

The wheel route from Jackson to Andrews on Wednesday resulted in an 18-yard landing, resulting in a celebration with Kolar ultimately zone. There ought to be extra to return.

Offense up and down

Jackson’s landing cross to Andrews got here early within the observe, however the offense acquired ragged within the second half.

Jackson appeared to get drained and threw behind and low to his supposed receivers. Linderbaum additionally struggled with a few snaps out of the shotgun formation.

It was scorching and humid and the Ravens began observe at 1:30 p.m. The warmth took its toll.

Bateman trying higher

Since Jackson began practising with the staff Tuesday, his return appears to have impressed second-year receiver Rashod Bateman.

In the earlier three practices open to the media, Bateman would often drop passes, together with some quick ones throughout the center.

But it’s been totally different with Jackson on the sector. On Wednesday, they related on a phenomenal 65-yard landing cross down the left sideline.

Running again battle

One of the highest battles in coaching camp might be at working again between fourth-year participant Justin Hill and rookie Tyler Badie.

The Ravens are in search of a pass-catching menace out of the backfield behind J.Okay. Dobbins and Gus Edwards, and to this point Badie has had no equal. But Hill has been a standout on particular groups, which might earn him a spot on the roster.

It wouldn’t be a shock if the Ravens stored 4 working backs, maybe stashing Badie on the observe squad. But that may be onerous to do if he performs nicely within the preseason.

Hamilton in good firm

Two of the belongings you discover rapidly about rookie security Kyle Hamilton, the staff’s prime pick of Notre Dame, is his dimension and his straightforward actions.

The 6-4, 220-pound defensive again by no means appears tense, remaining unfastened and limber. He has an analogous fashion to Hall of Fame security Ed Reed.

Now, don’t get carried away right here with some other comparisons. Reed all the time had that easy-going demeanor and that lengthy, loping stride.

Hamilton all the time appears like he’s drained, however he covers a lot floor so rapidly. He may make errors, however there isn’t a indecision.

While with regards to safeties, veteran Tony Jefferson has carried out nicely in these practices, although the Ravens are loaded on the place. I assumed his profession was just about over in February 2020 when the Ravens launched him.

Odds and ends

>> Rookie exterior linebacker David Ojabo spent a great portion of observe talking with staff proprietor Steve Bisciotti. Ojabo suits the outline of a prime cross rusher. His physique is thick however well-defined, and the child has an assortment of strikes.

>> Bateman, quarterback Tyler Huntley and outdoors linebacker Jaylon Ferguson battled accidents Wednesday, however none have been critical. All appeared wholesome on the finish of observe.

>> Maybe probably the most spectacular exterior linebacker in these open practices has been second-year participant Daelin Hayes, who intercepted a cross over the center Wednesday when Jackson panicked whereas being blitzed. He has been extra spectacular as a cross rusher.

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