American Football

Ravens News 7/27: Fresh Atmosphere and more

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Kevin Richardson/The Baltimore Sun/Tribune News Service via Getty Images

Lamar Jackson on first day of Ravens training camp: ‘The atmosphere feels different’

Brian Wacker, The Baltimore Sun

“I feel young,” said Jackson, who’s entering his sixth season at age 26. “I feel more experienced. I’m just glad to be back out here, being around my guys, being around the coaches.

“The atmosphere feels different. It smells different. Our guys got more pep in their step. … It’s just different.”

“Let’s get these guys the ball and let them do them,” Jackson said. “We got guys that are gonna make stuff happen, get [yards after the catch]. The only thing in my head is getting them the ball and letting them do them.

“I always felt like we had guys who are gonna make things happen, they just needed the opportunity. With Coach Monken being here, he’s letting the guys freelance and letting them do them … you should see magic.”

Practice Report: Day 1 From Ravens Training Camp

Ryan Mink, BaltimoreRavens.com

Beckham had a crafty deep catch working against cornerback Rock Ya-Sin. Lamar Jackson lofted a pretty deep ball toward the right sideline and Ya-Sin seemed to elevate a little too early. Beckham somehow got a little separation at the last second to come down with the grab.

Not to be outshined, rookie wide receiver Zay Flowers was quite busy. He hauled in a series of quick passes getting him in space, where the fleet-footed rookie can do some serious damage. He put a juke on linebacker Roquan Smith that drew some shouts from fans and Jackson said he has a new nickname for the rookie, “Joystick.”

New weapons and all, the first pass of 11-on-11 work at Ravens 2023 training camp went to none other than Mark Andrews. After that, however, he had a quieter day compared to last year as other players were targeted. The Ravens know full well what Andrews brings.

The Ravens offense was moving at a fast clip all day – so fast that reporters commented about not having enough time to take notes on all the action. Jackson said Offensive Coordinator Todd Monken doesn’t want him wearing a wristband. It’s “call it and haul it.”

The offense also featured a lot of quick passes to get the ball in the playmakers’ hands. Of course, the mid-range passing attack and deeper explosive shots will be a major part of Baltimore’s offense, but it showed how Monken also wants to spread defenses out and get the ball to playmakers quicker.

Top 10 cornerbacks entering the 2023 NFL season

Brian Baldinger, NFL.com

8. Marlon Humphrey

The three-time Pro Bowler is a complete corner who is the only defensive back with at least 10 forced fumbles and five picks since 2020, per NFL Research. He impressively led the league with eight forced fumbles in the 2020 season. He’s an excellent tackler and blitzer with the capability to match up with many No. 1 receivers. In a division that features the likes of Ja’Marr Chase and Amari Cooper, the Ravens will look to Humphrey to handle business again this fall.

PFF50: 10 rookies and second-year players who could make the list in 2024

Sam Monson, PFF

C TYLER LINDERBAUM, BALTIMORE RAVENS

Linderbaum was one of the best centers to enter the league in years, judging by PFF’s college grading. Though pass protection was a bit of a struggle at times during his first season — 29 total pressures allowed and a 53.5 PFF grade in that area — his run-blocking prowess was enough to show that he will be fine at this level. He finished with an 84.2 run-blocking grade, the fourth-best mark in the league. He has work to do in his second season to shore up that pass protection, but if he can, he has a good chance to make the list as a sophomore.

S KYLE HAMILTON, BALTIMORE RAVENS

Hamilton had a tumultuous rookie season that ranged from being a full-time starter at free safety to a part-time player seeing as few as 14 snaps in a game to back to being a full-time player but largely deployed as a matchup weapon in the slot. There were hiccups along the way, but Hamilton earned an 87.6 PFF grade in the end and looked comfortable in most spots on the field. His final two games of the season, against the elite Bengals offense, were among his best performances all year. Hamilton could emerge as one of the best safeties in the game in his second season.

Ranking all eight NFL divisions by 2023 QBs: Joe Burrow, Patrick Mahomes, AFC heavyweights lead the list

Cody Benjamin, CBS Sports

1. AFC North

Joe Burrow (Bengals), Lamar Jackson (Ravens), Deshaun Watson (Browns), Kenny Pickett (Steelers)

While the AFC West has the edge up top, with Mahomes and Herbert arguably both offering top-five stuff at the position, the North may have a bit more collective upside. Burrow is, of course, a top three QB in his own right, offsetting a lack of mobility with some of the game’s best pocket fundamentals; he does all the little things well, hitting the right spots at the right times to register as Mahomes’ chief conference rival.

Jackson has big questions to answer in terms of durability and late-year passing efficiency, but his unteachable speed and easy ability to air it out always make him a game-changing presence. Watson struggled mightily after returning with serious off-field baggage in 2022, but if he rebounds even close to peak Texans form, we’re talking about an above-average pocket operator. Pickett, meanwhile, was more scrappy than spectacular as a rookie, but on an improved Steelers team with always-tough defensive support, he’s a candidate to push for the playoffs.

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