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Isaiah Most Likely Rookie to Succeed?

Out to Lunch Likely
Shawn Hubbard/Baltimore Ravens
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Nothing on earth will give you a case of the Mondays quite like realizing that we now have a full month of borderline radio silence before our next NFL action at the start of training camp. We’re so close we can almost taste it, but now that teams have all completed their mandatory OTAs, it’s officially summer vacation for players, scouts, and coaches. That certainly doesn’t mean the work stops altogether though, and these last few weeks have given Eric DeCosta and the front office a clear idea on every aspect in which they can improve before camp opens in late July.

In fact, one of those potential improvements has already taken place, as the Ravens announced late on Friday that they’ve come to terms with linebacker Steven Means. A perennial journeyman, Means got his NFL start as a member of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers before finding his way to Baltimore for his first stint in purple during the 2014 and 2015 seasons. Since then he’s also spent time with the Philadelphia Eagles and Atlanta Falcons, but has never really found any consistent footing as a full-time player. While the prospects of him doing so in Baltimore this time around are probably low, he’s clearly shown enough flashes in workouts to warrant the attention of the Ravens higher-ups. Will he make the team as an edge depth piece with some special teams upside? Will he just be a camp body who doesn’t survive the first round of cuts? That remains to be seen.

The signing of Means also presents another interesting question: how concerned are the Ravens with the edge-rusher position heading into training camp? Between the Jason Pierre-Paul interest (who apparently will not be making his decision on a team until closer to the start of the season) and the immediate signing of Means just days after OTAs wrapped up, these signs would seem to signify that it’s the team’s biggest concern at the moment. Some may point to wide receiver as the position to hold that honor (or lack thereof), but DeCosta didn’t exactly go out and sign Julio Jones or Odell Beckham Jr this weekend. It seems as if they’re content with letting Rashod Bateman try and become that true #1 they’ve been searching for, while also giving a big opportunity to players like Tylan Wallace and James Proche. The injury unknowns surrounding players like David Ojabo and Tyus Bowser however, may not be quite as promising in the short term.

Perhaps the biggest non-Lamar Jackson related buzz coming out of OTA’s on the offensive side of the ball has been the play of tight end Isaiah Likely. The praise from his teammates has been well deserved, as tough catches and one-handed grabs are already becoming his calling card.

Likely is one of the more smooth receiving options on this team, which is a rare find in a body frame as massive as his. His physical traits and athletic prowess are such a rare combination that some are already asking if he’ll be switched to wide receiver at any point this season. That idea is probably doubtful, but what’s much more…likely (sorry, had to do it once) is that two tight end sets featuring him and Mark Andrews will cause matchup nightmares for opposing secondaries. There isn’t a group of linebackers in football who can cover those two on a consistent basis. Additionally, if the only option for defenses is to start pulling down safeties into the middle of the field to compensate, there are going to be a lot of 1-on-1 opportunities being created for those young receivers on the outside. Likely is going to be a major contributor for the Ravens in 2022 and beyond. If only there was someone out there telling you all this would be the case way back when the 2021 season was still wrapping up, oh well!

Congratulations are in order for one of our own, as former Raven and 2000 Super Bowl champion Ben Coates was inducted into the Black College Football Hall of Fame over the weekend! Coates started as a member of Livingstone College where he amassed 18 touchdowns over three seasons, before playing 10 years in the NFL as a member of New England and Baltimore. During his time with the Patriots, Coates was one of the most productive tight ends in the game in the mid 1990’s. While his time as a Raven was short, it provided the ultimate ending for his career, allowing him to walk away from the game as a champion. Like the old saying goes, “Once a Raven, always a Raven.” Good for you Ben!

To wrap up this Monday, it’s time yet again for the awesome Ravens photo of this week. Today we’re taking a look back on the toughest throwback uniforms in sports, uniforms that are only aided by the mystique of the team no longer being allowed to wear them. Maybe one day the original logo artist will again give the Ravens their blessing to use their art and bring these beauties back to life, but until then, the memories will have to do.

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