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This Offense is Loaded – Russell Road Report roster


It could be solely the third day of Ravens coaching camp, however the roster math is already shaping as much as be difficult, particularly on the offensive facet of the ball. In distinction to latest years, Baltimore feels prefer it has extra offensive expertise than it could actually carry on the roster, and that’s on a day with out Ronnie Stanley and Zay Flowers on the sphere, to not point out the already-absent J.Okay. Dobbins and Rashod Bateman.

Let’s begin at quarterback, the place Lamar Jackson continues to be leaps and bounds forward of another passer on the sphere. It’s arduous to gauge his consolation in Todd Monken’s new offense on the sphere, however feedback from his teammates and coaches point out that he’s “locked in” and thriving with extra management on the line of scrimmage.

Tyler Huntley, however, is noticeably enhancing his timing and anticipation in Monken’s system. He struggled to hit receivers in rhythm on the primary few days – maybe due to his slower launch – however discovered a number of targets in stride as we speak.

It’s not shocking that Huntley is taking longer to regulate to the brand new offense than, say, Josh Johnson, who’s performed in nearly each offensive scheme identified to the NFL at this level. Huntley is a gamer – at his greatest when he’s flying by the seat of his pants – which made him look nice in a Greg Roman offense that relied an excessive amount of on quarterbacks to make performs. There’s at all times worth in Huntley’s gritty play-style and scrambling skill, however Monken desires his quarterbacks taking advantage of their reads and choices earlier than the snap, not after.

Johnson is already fairly comfy in that mode, and the Ravens appear to like the expertise and management he brings to the quarterback room. The brand new rule permitting an additional energetic quarterback on sport days supplies a double-boost to his roster probabilities, too. Not solely does it make him extra worthwhile to the Ravens, it additionally makes him extra more likely to get poached from the Ravens apply squad by one other workforce in search of their third quarterback.

Within the backfield, it’s clear that Gus Edwards, J.Okay. Dobbins and Justice Hill will all be on the 53, with Melvin Gordon and Keaton Mitchell competing for the final spot.

Gordon seems to be as cellular and shifty as he can with none aggressive working performs, however he’s making loads of catches out of the backfield. Mitchell, in the meantime, alternates between getting caught within the pile on the line of scrimmage and displaying off his afterburners, each on offense and particular groups. (Mitchell can “flat-out run,” based on ST coach Chris Horton, who has seen his fair proportion of speedsters throughout his tenure in Baltimore.)

Melvin Gordon added to the Ravens roster
Melvin Gordon throughout Day 2 of Ravens Coaching Camp 2023 (Photograph Credit score: Shawn Hubbard, Baltimore Ravens)

Even with Jackson and Monken insisting the Ravens are going to throw the ball lots this season, they’ll nonetheless wish to benefit from the dashing lanes opened by Jackson’s twin risk skill. Eric DeCosta and John Harbaugh are additionally all too acquainted with the problem of not having sufficient RBs to hold the soccer, so 4 backs making the roster is actually in play.

Patrick Ricard provides one other wrinkle into the backfield math. He’s an enormous a part of the run sport, however it’ll be robust to hold him and a fourth working again until Ricard finds a clearer solution to contribute to the passing sport. That’s not even mentioning Ben Mason, who wants to scrub up the drops – two as we speak – if he desires to have any probability of pushing Ricard this summer season.

Tight finish is maybe the best place to foretell: Mark Andrews, Isaiah Possible and Charlie Kolar are roster locks, and no different TE will make the workforce. Andrews and Possible made nearly all of the spotlight performs as we speak, and Kolar looks like he can contribute, however there’s an excessive amount of expertise forward of him. Undrafted rookie Travis Vokolek has the scale to hold on the apply squad because the traditional Ravens blocking TE – assume Eric Tomlinson – however he must diversify his skillset to final within the NFL.

Three QBs, 4 RBs, three TEs plus Ricard would take up 11 roster spots, earlier than attending to essentially the most populated offensive positions: extensive receiver and offensive line.

[More Camp Notes From Day 3]

At receiver, Bateman, Odell Beckham Jr., Zay Flowers and Nelson Agholor really feel like absolutely the roster locks. Bateman is sidelined for the time being, and Beckham, Flowers and Agholor have gotten loads of consideration for the reason that spring, so I’m extra within the destiny of Devin Duvernay.

Duv has been touted as a cap-saving lower since his All-Professional escalators kicked in, however a workforce with Tremendous Bowl hopes ought to wish to maintain him round. In previous years, Duvernay has felt considerably disappointing as a Day 2 decide for his boom-or-bust contributions, however with depth in entrance of him, he can carve out a playmaking position for Monken and stay a strong kick returner for Chris Horton.

That alone is efficacious to a critical championship contender, however that’s not all Duvernay may be, both. He’s studying that the specter of his velocity is usually simply as efficient as his velocity itself in successful routes. For instance, Duvernay didn’t win a route with a double-move throughout one rep as we speak, however his defender nonetheless needed to bail out to maintain him from taking the highest off the protection. That allowed Duvernay to work again to the sidelines and reel in a properly thrown ball from Jackson. It’s a small improvement, however an indication that the previous Texas standout is beginning to harness his pure athleticism into some extra productive route-running chops.

Devin Duvernay fights for a roster spot
Devin Duvernay at Ravens Coaching Camp 2023 (Photograph Credit score: Shawn Hubbard, Baltimore Ravens)

That’s 5 locks at WR, and I’d even throw 2021 fifth-rounder Tylan Wallace in that group as effectively. He will not be racking up the highlights, however his consistency in a number of roles on offense and particular groups shall be famous by Baltimore’s decision-makers over the course of coaching camp. I’d be stunned if he missed out on a roster spot in simply his third yr within the league, particularly when he acquired little alternative to show himself in his first two seasons.

With six extensive receivers seemingly in line to make the roster spot, is there even room for another? Once more, that is the place Monken’s desired run-pass steadiness goes to come back into play.

On the one hand, extra passing means there are extra snaps and targets to go round and a correspondingly larger damage threat, so the Ravens may have to hold seven receivers.

However, the receiver room is well-rounded already, so what extra does a man like James Proche actually add? He attracts a ton of targets each apply and does his greatest to reel all of them in, however the majority of his success comes towards the second- and third-team protection. That’s the knock on Proche – he has the technical know-how and the alpha angle of an NFL receiver, however lacks a difference-making trait to separate (actually) from the pack.

There are different younger receivers who might make some noise, all of whom are no less than 6-foot-2, which might fill a void within the present room. Nevertheless, none of them stand out on a constant sufficient foundation to benefit a roster spot.

Sean Ryan is essentially the most constant, with few miscues and a spotlight catch every so often. However the remaining – Shemar Bridges, Tarik Black, Makai Polk and Dontay Demus Jr. – flash now and again and not using a position or talent they will dangle their hat on. They’re all no less than 6-foot-2, which enhances the receiving corps, however that’s provided that these guys are totally trusted within the pink zone, and that’s actually not the case to date.

Is that seventh extensive receiver – be it Proche or a younger big-body – extra worthwhile than working again depth or a fullback who can basically function as a extra cellular sixth offensive lineman? That’s not even mentioning the offensive line itself, which has no less than seven locks with no less than three extra gamers with sturdy circumstances for roster spots.

Ronnie Stanley, Tyler Linderbaum, Kevin Zeitler and Morgan Moses are all-but locked-in as four-fifths of the beginning offensive line, and even when Malaesala Aumavae-Laulu can’t maintain onto the beginning LG job, he’ll be on the 53-man roster. So will Patrick Mekari and Daniel Faalele, leaving John Simpson, Sam Mustipher and Ben Cleveland to compete for inside backup spots.

Simpson and Mustipher provide confirmed veteran depth at guard and heart respectively, and although his inventory actually fell all through the summer season, it nonetheless may be robust for the Ravens to give up on Cleveland, a highly-touted 2021 Day 2 decide. He’s bounced round a bit, enjoying guard and sort out to enhance his versatility, making him extra worthwhile to Baltimore or doubtlessly one other workforce.

That makes 10 offensive lineman, to go together with (doubtlessly) three quarterbacks, 4 working backs, three tight ends, six extensive receivers and a fullback. That’s 27 offensive gamers, out of a 53-man roster that requires three spots for the particular groups core, to not point out a really gifted protection.

That math is simply not going to work out, and the solutions to the questions I’ve posed are going to come back all the way down to what sort of workforce the Ravens wish to be this yr.

It’s not nearly run-pass steadiness, both. This can be a workforce with the clear, acknowledged purpose of successful a Tremendous Bowl this yr, however on the similar time, they envision being aggressive for the Lombardi Trophy for no less than the subsequent 5 years with Jackson beneath contract.

To do this, the Ravens might want to not simply hit on their draft picks, however develop these younger gamers into starters and key contributors whereas they’re nonetheless on their cheap rookie contracts. That’s arduous once you wish to maintain dependable veterans on the roster to keep up the high-level of play required to make a playoff run.

Finally, this can be a good drawback to have. It heightens the competitors in coaching camp and provides EDC alternatives to accrue extra draft picks by buying and selling away his extra expertise, one thing he did to nice impact in 2021. However final yr, the ultimate roster cuts appeared rather less coherent and arranged, and it actually didn’t really feel like all the things shook out the way in which the Ravens needed.

The entrance workplace and training employees might want to work collectively fastidiously over the course of coaching camp to guage gamers and prospects to provide Baltimore the most effective probability of bringing residence a hoop this yr and no less than another over the course of Jackson’s contract.

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