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Hollywood Eyeing Records

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It’s odd that, despite sitting at (8-3), a lot of discussion around the Ravens is negative. This week, I want to start with a positive that’s worth noting: the performance of Marquise “Hollywood” Brown. Brown has had his ups and downs in the 2021 campaign, but there’s no denying that he’s been a spark plug of this offense and has taken a leap in his third season.

How big a leap, though? Check this out…

Baltimore hasn’t had the most impressive history of wide receivers since the franchise was founded in 1996, but to have the team single season record well-within reach at this stage is a great feat. There is of course the extra game this year, but in my opinion, a record is a record. Brown should be proud of the season he’s put together.

Another Raven doing particularly well in 2021 is RT Patrick Mekari. In his first season at right tackle, there were a lot of questions that he had to answer this year – boy has he done that!

You always want to be in the upper right-hand corner of these graphs, but Mekari has done especially well with pass blocking. The Ravens staff is strong in training run blocking, so I expect Mekari to grow even more at this position down the road. As we get into mock draft season many expect Baltimore to take a tackle in Round 1, but I wouldn’t be so sure.

Mekari’s pass block production wasn’t perfect against Cleveland, but two plays that stood out as difference-makers in the game were ones in which the O-Line didn’t win their matchups. These, of course, were Lamar Jackson’s two off-balance throws downfield to Mark Andrews.

Melissa Kim asked Jackson about his thought-process on these electrifying plays:

Jackson’s answer is essentially spot-on. Andrews is a star in this league and Jackson’s safety blanket, and those kinds of catches will only work to continue building trust between the two. If Jackson knows where Andrews is when he’s in trouble, he’s suddenly in less trouble.

Heading into Sunday’s matchup with the arch-rival Pittsburgh Steelers, the Ravens did still have a fairly long list of injuries from Wednesday’s practice. Aside from Justin Houston, who got a day of rest, there are 13 players who were limited or DNP’d mid-week.

Compared to last week’s Wednesday practice, that’s one less man down. It’s hard to say if Baltimore is getting healthier when it’s just one player, but hey, it’s something. Even still, names such as Patrick Queen, Bradley Bozeman, Nick Boyle, Calais Campbell and the aforementioned Mekari are not names we want to see in these reports.

Comparatively, Pittsburgh’s injury report looks better. Rookie TE Pat Freiermuth returned to practice after suffering a concussion, while WR Chase Claypool was limited. That said, names to watch are CB Joe Haden, OL Trai Turner, and of course QB Ben Roethlisberger, none of which practiced at all.

These games are always tough, so Ravens fans will not pass up the extra help of the Steelers having a man down.

Injuries aside, ESPN analyst Marcus Spears sees trouble on the horizon for Pittsburgh, as their run game has suffered recently.

If Baltimore defensive backs are able to hone-in on the pass during play-action, the Steelers may have real trouble moving the ball at all this Sunday. Moreover, when the run game isn’t working, Big Ben is mistake-prone. He’ll give the Ravens chances to take the ball away. They’ll just have to take advantage.

[Related Article: It’s Rivalry Week!]

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