Rookie Report – Week 3 vs. Cincinnati
The Ravens have started the 2015 campaign with all the ferocity of the Four Tunesmen. A few Ravens rookies stepped up over the weekend during the home opener, but the franchise’s first ever 0-3 start has left the Ravens rookie class perilously close to a meaningless tryout year instead of a season of growth aboard a playoff contending squad.
The good news for Buck Allen? He rushed for just one yard less than leading running back Justin Forsett. The bad news for Ravens fans? That means he managed just 12 yards. Leading the team with 4.0 yards per carry, Allen looked like the best of an atrocious backfield on Sunday against a strong Cincinnati run defense.
With Forsett struggling mightily and Lorenzo Taliaferro (3 rushes for 0 yards) dealing with a lingering injury, don’t be surprised if Baltimore tries to see what they have in Allen and gives him some touches the next few weeks.
The rookie tight ends combined for five catches for 63 yards in their best showing yet. Maxx Williams could not haul in a Joe Flacco bomb at the end of the game, but he looks more comfortable in the offense and showed good feel working against zone coverage on a fourth quarter seam route for a 28-yard completion.
Meanwhile Nick Boyle surprised fans with two grabs on 17 snaps, including an athletic, Maxx Williams-like hurdle on his first NFL catch. Honestly, I thought that Boyle’s unexpected show of athleticism was just what the Ravens needed to turn a bit of momentum in their favor (a thought echoed by the sideline’s enthusiastic reaction to the play), but the Ravens would of course punt just three plays later.
Za’Darius Smith played 30 snaps, but again was used on the interior of the line, much to his detriment. He recorded one tackle but was largely a nonfactor. Even when Dean Pees played Smith in his more natural outside linebacker role, he was constantly bullied.
Below, Smith is lined up as the outside backer, but gets blown off the ball and is unable to shed the block until 7 yards downfield.
Not only does he lose ground, but he fails to set the edge and Giovani Bernard is able to find space to Smith’s outside.
Similarly, defensive tackle Carl Davis had an up-and-down afternoon, registering a -0.8 PFF grade. He struggled to generate penetration, and got absolutely knocked off his feet by right tackle Andre Smith on a third quarter pass rush.
Watch on this play, though, where Davis displays impressive vision. He gets extension, shedding the attempted block from the center and immediately picks his head up to locate Jeremy Hill in the backfield. Sensing the interior congestion, Davis knows Hill will bounce the run outside.
Davis keeps his pads parallel to the line of scrimmage and shuffles down the line, just like a linebacker.
The rookie helps clean up for a gain of just 1 yard. Good technique and even better effort.
- It is important to note that both Joe Flacco and Steve Smith Sr. took subtle jabs at their teammates’ preparation and mindset—especially the younger players. Talented as the rookies and other young Ravens may be, it sounds as if their Monday-Friday focus and attention to detail needs work.
- Breshad Perriman practiced last week for the first time in months, generating anticipation for his return. During what appeared to be an impressive pre-game workout, however, he reportedly re-aggravated his knee strain, and the frustration over his unavailability will now only grow.
- Tray Walker was inactive Sunday for the first time and Darren Waller was limited to special teams duties, but he made two excellent punt coverage tackles, which is becoming a weekly theme.
In just two nights the Ravens will look to rebound against a Michael Vick-led Steelers team. Bold Predictions: Carl Davis records 2 tackles for loss, and Maxx Williams scores his first NFL touchdown. Let’s get off the schneid.