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McCartney in Baltimore
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Six days from now a special event is coming to Baltimore. It will mark the first time this talent will appear in Charm City since 1964. Paul McCartney is coming to Camden Yards. And to commemorate the occasion (as I’ve been asked to sub for the capable Ron Toothe for this edition of Out to Lunch), each segment will be introduced by a McCartney classic.

So without further ado, let me introduce to you, the act you’ve known for all these years…

Band on The Run

Recently ESPN’s Diana Russini insinuated that Lamar Jackson may not get paid the money that he’s looking for because he hasn’t had enough success in the pocket – that his success and the focus upon him accentuates his skills as a runner. Russini’s take is rather narrow-minded.

When the Ravens were the No. 1 seed in the AFC after 11 games and sporting an (8-3) record last season, it was largely due to Lamar carrying the team on his back while hampered by a sieve of an offensive line and a stable of running backs that was a collection of long-in-the-tooth RB’s running on fumes. Consequently, Lamar was in the running for league MVP – until the bottom of the offense fell out in Miami.

Lamar reels in observers with his dynamic athleticism and it’s because he’s so unique as a running quarterback that our collective eye shifts in that direction. But to suggest that he isn’t capable as a pocket passer is simply a false narrative and probably one that produces more clicks for Russini.

Can’t Buy Me Love

Let’s be honest. Marquise Brown’s desire to be traded is driven purely by financial gain. Surely Brown took notice of the insane amount of money being thrown at receivers and wanted to position himself to take advantage of the WR sellers’ market.

We’re reminded often that the NFL is a business and it works both ways. Brown played his cards to gain the outcome he desired while Ravens GM Eric DeCosta has admitted publicly that he isn’t keen on players that don’t want to call Baltimore home.

Perhaps this story will play out as a win-win for all parties. But count me among you who would have been uneasy next year with Marquise in a contract year if things were going well for the team but not Brown, statistically. We’ve seen his brooding act before. With millions on the line, it may not have been a pretty picture. I’ll call this loss, addition-by-subtraction.

I’ve Got a Feeling

Last year during training camp there were days when observers wondered who was the first-round edge rusher, Odafe Oweh or Daelin Hayes. Hayes seemed to be more successful and appeared to have a more developed array of pass rush moves than the more physically gifted Oweh. But like several Ravens, Hayes’ summer work never materialized into production on Sundays in the Fall. He was injured during his first game and never returned to the field.

During the most recent OTA’s, Hayes picked up where he left off during the dog days of August, 2021. He shows a burst off the edge, has great body lean without losing power combined with good hands. Add it up and he’s been a regular visitor in the offensive backfield. It would be nice for the team to add a veteran presence on the edge but either way, I’ve got a feeling that Hayes will take that next step in 2022, providing a nice return for the Ravens on their 2021 5th-rounder.

You Won’t See Me

Ja’Wuan James hasn’t been very available for a couple of seasons having suffered through significant injuries. Since 2019, he’s played in just 3 games. The Ravens took a low-risk flyer on the former Broncos tackle to provide some depth to the offensive line. Think of James as an insurance policy and the premium was his $660,000 salary in 2021.

But now that the prognosis for Ronnie Stanley is on the upswing and the Ravens added Morgan Moses via free agency and Daniel Faalele via the draft, the $3M in cap savings by parting ways with James might be too enticing for the team to pass on, particularly if a free agent edge rusher and/or receiver become available. James was not present at the team’s recent 6 days of OTA’s and that could be a sign of lingering physical issues, or, maybe he just opted out, as his prerogative. That said, either way, it’s not a good look, particular with that $3M cap carrot dangling around.

We Can Work it Out

Marcell Dareus, the two-time Pro Bowl defensive tackle and former 2011 3rd-overall pick out of Alabama, worked out with the Ravens rookies during May. It’s an interesting exploration by the Ravens. At his best with the Bills back in 2014, Dareus posted 10 sacks and was named to AP’s All Pro team. But as of late, Darius, like Ja’Wuan James, hasn’t seen much of the field. The last time he competed was back in 2019 with the Jaguars where he contributed a ½ sack and 13 tackles over the course of 6 games.

It was however, interesting that John Harbaugh gave the 32-year-old Dareus center-stage and a chance to speak to the rookies (LINK). His words were thoughtful and compelling. I’ll leave you with them today for they are applicable to all walks of life. Enjoy your afternoon everyone!

“Anyone hear of Steve Prefontaine? He’s the greatest distance runner ever. And his famous words were, ‘To give anything less than your best is to sacrifice a gift.’ So give your best – make your gift shown.”

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