The Ravens’ Darren Sproles? Shawn Hubbard/Baltimore Ravens

The Chicken Box The Ravens’ Darren Sproles?

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For two weeks, I’ve been trying to remember what other weekly article I wrote last year. This morning, I woke up with the name stuck in my head. For the new readers, every week, I will throw together an article full of football (mostly Ravens) thoughts that I have gathered over the week. Usually, they will be things happening in Baltimore and around the NFL, but here and there, you’ll get a Thought Pocket from me. What is the name of this joyous article that you can read while taking a dime on company time?

Ladies and gentlemen.. Welcome. This is The Chicken Box.

Mandatory Credit: Scott R. Galvin-USA TODAY Sports

Losing Tavon Young is bigger than people think.

The Ravens are deep at corner. The Ravens are thin at nickel corner. Both of the statements can be, and are true. While the Ravens don’t lack for outside corners, with guys like Jimmy Smith, Brandon Carr, and Marlon Humphrey backed up by guys like Anthony Averett and Bennett Jackson, the inside corner situation is much more barren.

Behind Tavon Young, your next best options lie with the following:

Maurice Canady, a replacement level corner who can also play safety. Most Ravens fans know him for the 4th and 12 play that ended the team’s 2017 (yes, I’m aware the game was played in 2018) playoff hopes. Lately, we’ve seen him giving 10-yard cushions to backup receivers for the Packers.

Brandon Carr, a 30-something veteran who holds the longest current streak for games started by a defensive player. Carr has played some in the slot, but the Ravens seem to like him outside, and to the eye test, that’s where his strengths lie.

Cyrus Jones, a Baltimore native who excels on special teams, but hasn’t quite caught on as a defensive back. While his slot play has been decent enough, it remains to be seen if that can translate to real time against slots/big slots in meaningful games.

The final option, one brought up to me by none other than the amazing Matt Wise, is playing the matchup. A tight end (think Greg Kittle) goes into the slot? Move DeShon Elliott there. Small, shifty receiver? Throw Jones over there. You’d essentially remove the mismatch, much like Wink Martindale does with linebackers up front. If they do that, communication could prove to be an issue, but if they can sort that out, it could minimize, if not nullify, the damage done by not having Young for the 2019 season.

Ravens practice

Jaleel Scott at Ravens training camp (Photo Credit: Shawn Hubbard, Baltimore Ravens)

Jaleel Scott is a better roster option than Antoine Wesley.

Thanks to my co-host who hasn’t shown up since the draft, this is a real argument that I have to have. It’s tough, because I was high on Scott before he was drafted (the Ravens were higher on him than I was), but I’m also an Antoine Wesley fan. 

However. For the sake of this article, let’s take a look at some facts.

  1. Jaleel Scott has shown that he’s learned how to use his size to box out both bigger and smaller corners.
  2. Jaleel Scott is taking earlier (and more) snaps than Wesley.
  3. Jaleel Scott is having an equally strong camp.
  4. Jaleel Scott is already looked at by the Ravens as being in the offensive plans come September.
  5. Jaleel Scott is a Yankees fan, which by default makes him better than Wesley.

I probably should’ve mentioned that Scott is much better on special teams than Wesley is, but I figured I’d dig at the Orioles fans one more time before I moved on. I understand that the fanbase has a hard time letting go of things that happened in the past (like when Jack argued with me this morning about Chris Moore, using drops from 2016 and 2017 as an argument; that was fun), and they gravitate towards the ‘ooh shiny and new!’ but at this moment in time, Jaleel Scott offers more on both offense, and special teams. That WR6 spot? Is his.

The really early part of the 2019 season could provide a false narrative for Ravens fans.

The Ravens season starts against Miami, who will struggle to win any game this season. It’s followed by the Cardinals, who have a rookie coach, rookie quarterback, terrible offensive line, and a middling-at-best defense. The Ravens could very easily start 2-0, which will be a morale-boosting, feel-good narrative that could equally easily turn out to be false.

Following the Cardinals, are the absolutely electric Kansas City Chiefs, the improved Cleveland Browns, and the bitter rival Pittsburgh Steelers. The Ravens could very easily drop to 2-3. 

Bear this in mind before you get too excited about the Ravens after the first couple weeks of the season. The Ravens have always been a team that takes fans on an emotional rollercoaster, and this year is shaping up to be no different. Consult with your doctor to see if your heart is strong enough to be a Ravens fan.

Justice Hill stiff-arms a Packers defender.

Shawn Hubbard/Baltimore Ravens

Justice Hill is giving me Darren Sproles vibes.

Just watch the tape. I know a lot of people are saying he’s like Alvin Kamara, but that’s recency bias. He’s far more a Sproles-esque back. His footwork, drag cuts, and jump-step all scream Sproles, so it’s very appropriate that Hill wears the same number.

If you’re not excited about Hill, you absolutely should be. He has five fumbles in his entire career. He’s probably the fastest guy on the field, and he’s definitely the quickest guy on the field (speed vs. acceleration, folks). I (apparently mistakenly) said that his size would be a problem, because he didn’t appear to be a very powerful back in college, but over the past two weeks of the preseason, he’s absolutely trucked defenders when he isn’t making them miss. He still needs to work on his pass blocking, but beyond that, he appears to be the perfect change-of-pace back – which is something that the Ravens were sadly lacking.

Antonio Brown's burned feet

Instagram/Antonio Brown

Antonio Brown is an idiot.

That’s it. That’s the whole tweet. 

Wait a minute…

Seriously, though. What a child. First, Antonio Brown is too stupid to wear the proper protection in a cryo tank, and then cries about not being able to wear his helmet, even though he’s known for at least a year that this was coming. I find it moderately coincidental that this all came to light immediately following Michael Thomas getting a $100M contract, no matter what the naysayers believe. 

There are other prominent players around the league that have accepted the helmet change with little-to-no argument, yet here’s Antonio Brown, throwing a fit and talking to an independent arbitrator just to try to get what he wants. He’s making a nuisance of himself, and of the Raiders – like they don’t do a good enough job of that themselves. 

Well, that’s it, folks. Now that I’ve remembered what I’m supposed to write, you’ll be getting these articles on Fridays, to help propel you through your work day, and into the weekend.

Until then… remember: Lamar Jackson has improved, no matter what they say.

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About Michael Telford

I have been an avid Ravens fan since their inception, and have written about them for a little over seven years. I live in Florida with my wonderful girlfriend Kelly nowadays, and keep up all year with all things Ravens. You can follow me on Twitter (@LateRoundCorner) where you can argue with me about all the takes that you won't agree with. Sarcasm is my first language. More from Michael Telford

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