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Showtime For Lamar Jackson

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The Ravens kept their preseason win streak alive with a 27-10 victory over the Miami Dolphins, lifting them to (4-0) during August’s fake summer league. Comparatively speaking, the Orioles have five wins in August, so there’s that.

The biggest positional questions leading into training camp were:

Who would replace Ryan Jensen?
Who would play ILB beside C.J. Mosley?
Where would the pass rush come from?
Would someone emerge as a decent punt returner?

The pass rush and Mosley’s sidekick are both developing in a positive direction. The position of punt returner seems to have adequate options although ball security is a concern for both Tim White and Janarion Grant. So, let’s call it a work-in-progress for now. And then there’s the center. Who will it be?

I’ve never been a fan of Matt Skura – at least not in the AFC North where big, strong interior defenders are quite common. Skura doesn’t provide the pre-requisite anchor for Greg Roman’s running scheme that Jensen did. Alex Lewis could but he’s yet to take a snap at center in the preseason and you have to wonder why. It’s my biggest concern for the 2018 Ravens.

The Good

Alex Lewis secured his spot as a starter, but the question is where will he start? Left guard? Center? Here’s hoping he can line up a center but his mysterious absence of live snaps in the preseason might force the Ravens to start Skura…De’Lance Turner’s burst for 65-yards right up the gut of the Dolphins defense (aided in large part by weak support from Miami’s secondary), is likely to land him on some team’s practice squad. Homerun hitting ability from the tailback position is a desirable trait from a change-of-pace back…Tim White had a nice outing, posting 70 yards on 3 grabs including a nice catch and run for 33 yards to help set up the Ravens third TD.

Tim Williams ascent continues and now it’s almost as if the Ravens coaching staff is preserving him for the regular season. He shared a sack with Kamalei Correa, had another QB hurry and batted a pass down at the LOS. It looks like the light has come on…The secondary had some plus performances. Stanley Jean-Baptiste chipped in with another solid outing. He’s a battler and is making a strong push to be among the final 53…Chuck Clark should give Ravens fans a feeling of relief should the team suffer an injury a safety. He has a nose for the ball and is a plus tackler. Think about the way he’s played as a 2017 6th-round pick as compared to Matt Elam as a 2013 first-round pick…Speaking of young DB’s stepping up, Anthony Averett certainly looks the part of a polished corner. His play could force Jimmy Smith and/or Brandon Carr off the 2019 roster. Parting ways with the veteran corners next season would save $9.5M and $5M respectively.

Tim Williams
Tim Williams and Kamalei Correa team up for a sack in Miami during the Ravens 27-10 preseason win. (Photo Credit: Shawn Hubbard, Baltimore Ravens)

The Bad

Orlando Brown, Jr. struggled with the speed rush provided by Cameron Wake. The experience was good, the results were not. Brown has had a good camp and preseason, but his technical deficiencies were on full display against the Dolphins…The Ravens struggled against the Dolphins front seven when running the football. Sure there was Turner’s big 65-yard burst but if you extract that from the rushing totals along with the QB runs, the Ravens 33 other rushing attempts netted just 78 yards – that’s a putrid 2.4 YPC. Skura was one of the leading perpetrators.

The Ugly

Injury News! The loss of Willie Henry for a few weeks coupled with the Hayden Hurst foot injury and the Jimmy Smith suspension will place a burden on the Ravens roster early in the season. DeShon Elliott’s broken forearm leaves his season in doubt…Our hearts, thoughts and prayers go out to Ravens WR Coach Bobby Engram who tragically lost his 20-year old daughter Bobbi, a student at Towson University. Bobbi was born with hereditary sickle-cell disease, however at this time the Engram family has not disclosed a cause of death.

The Megan Fox Award

Lamar Jackson had his best performance as a Raven, rushing for 39 yards on three carries including a 19-yard scamper for a touchdown. He also posted a passer rating of 134.6 thanks to a 7 for 10 evening for 98 yards and a TD. The loser in LJ’s performance could be Robert Griffin, III who now might be viewed as an unnecessary luxury, particularly given the roster stowaways named Henry, Hurst and Smith.

This will be a very interesting week for John Harbaugh and the Ravens.

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