Rookies Should See Larger Roles Soon

Street Talk Rookies Should See Larger Roles Soon

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Rookie Report – Week 5

The season has officially spiraled out of control, as Week 6 saw the Ravens put forth a massively disappointing effort resulting in a home loss to the Browns. Injuries are ravaging this team, but the Ravens simply haven’t played well enough thus far. The 2015 Ravens rookie class has had a rude introduction to life in the NFL, and mostly performed average at best this weekend.

Offense

Buck Allen worked as Justin Forsett’s second and only backup Sunday, and was fairly effective. He took eight carries for 58 yards, including an explosive 44-yard scamper in the third quarter that helped set up a touchdown. Forsett has an ankle injury to rehab, so Allen will likely find plenty of carries in the coming weeks. Allen needs to become a more trusted weapon in the passing game to add a more dynamic element to the position.

The two rookie tight ends played a combined 95 snaps without starter Crockett Gillmore in the fold. Nick Boyle surprisingly seems to be the favored target over Maxx Williams, with the former Delaware Blue Hen snagging three passes for 27 yards, including a pair of “drive-starter” 11-yard catches in the early third quarter.

Williams caught just one ball for no yards. We would have expected more from the second-round pick in a game where so few offensive weapons were available to Joe Flacco. Despite the negligible influence on the passing game, Williams still earned a +1.4 PFF grade due to his improved blocking. In fact, the improved run blocking of both tight ends caught my eye as one of the few positives from Sunday.

A good example took place on Allen’s aforementioned 44-yard run. Allen shows nice patience when no inside lane emerges. He bounces it off tackle and then quickly gets north and south.

Buck Allen sees the hole develop.

The reason Allen is able to do this is because of Williams’ kick-out block. He adeptly gets into the linebacker Armonty Bryant, and once Williams gets his shoulder pads perpendicular to the line of scrimmage it’s over and his man is completely sealed off.

Maxx Williams blocks against Cleveland.

Defense

After a successful game against the Steelers last week, Za’Darius Smith earned a whopping 72 snaps this weekend. Unfortunately, he struggled mightily, earning a -5.4 PFF grade, the lowest on the team. He was bullied by the talented left side of the Browns offensive line, and failed to bring any meaningful pressure. Smith also inexcusably lined up offside in the fourth quarter—one of the penalties at which Harbaugh specifically expressed his displeasure.

Smith’s deficiencies in coverage were also exposed, like on this big catch and run by running back Duke Johnson. Here, Smith is tasked with covering the flat, with Kyle Arrington assigned the deep zone.

Za'Darius Smith lines up against Cleveland.

Smith gets caught flat footed and fails to get his width or depth quickly enough. The play action fake by McCown is half-hearted (trust me) so Smith can only be considered extremely tardy to the flat.

Za'Darius Smith is slow to cover.

Now Duke Johnson is lightning fast, but Smith’s delay allows Johnson to get by him with ease and gain 33 yards (shortened to 14 yards after the challenge showed he stepped out of bounds).

Finally, coaches rewarded Carl Davis productive early-season play with the start at defensive tackle over Timmy Jernigan. Davis was average, however, recording just one tackle assist and a batted ball. He does well to get his hands up on pass plays, and he skillfully set up Brandon Williams’ sack, but failed to provide consistent interior penetration.

Rookie Notes

Darren Waller had plenty of exposure with 18 snaps, but failed to make an impact on the game, tallying just a single yard on his only catch. He exited the game with a concussion.

– With the secondary again catching the injury bug, Tray Walker played eight snaps, mostly in overtime. He faced nearly all running plays as the Browns were pushing into closer field goal territory, but did get off a block and make a nice tackle on a completed pass.

With the season shaping up to be an extreme disappointment, the coaches will likely try to see what they have in several of these rookies in the coming weeks, starting this Sunday against the 49ers. If nothing else, it should make these rookie reports more interesting.

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Kyle Rate

About Kyle Rate

On his seventh birthday in August of 1996, Kyle opened an envelope to find two tickets to the Ravens’ first ever football game to be played later that night. Ever since attending that game (a 17-9 victory), Kyle has been a die-hard Ravens fan. He grew up just outside of Baltimore and although he has since moved south, he remains extremely passionate about all Baltimore sports—the Ravens especially. Attending games as a kid with his Dad’s Section 528 season tickets, he grew up with the team and eventually reveled in Super Bowl glory on Bourbon Street after attending the big game with his girlfriend Kimberly who, luckily for Kyle, is equally as faithful to the purple and black. An attorney in Tennessee, Kyle brings a unique approach to covering the Ravens and gets out of the office enough to make it to plenty of home and away games. More from Kyle Rate

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