Mike Preston’s report card: Position-by-position grades for Ravens’ 3-1 start | COMMENTARY

Several of the Ravens’ injured gamers returned to observe Wednesday, and that pushed the crew’s pleasure meter to a brand new stage.

Among these on the observe discipline in Owings Mills have been cornerback Marlon Humphrey (foot), left sort out Ronnie Stanley (knee), broad receivers Odell Beckham Jr. (ankle) and Rashod Bateman (hamstring), and security Marcus Williams (ankle).

Coach John Harbaugh, after watching practices and getting enter from trainers, will decide later this week which gamers will take part in Sunday’s sport towards the Steelers in Pittsburgh, however no less than his stars have been again on the sphere.

The Ravens (3-1) are in first place within the AFC North and have an opportunity to go up two video games on their prime division rival. Maybe the very best is but to return.

“It’s good to see guys out there practicing,” Harbaugh stated. “Different guys are in different stages. As the week goes on, in terms of all the different guys, we’ll see where they’re at for Sunday. But it is good seeing guys get back out.”

Coaches don’t like to speak concerning the massive image publicly as a result of they don’t need to look too far forward, however privately there have most likely been discussions among the many assistants.

The Ravens have already gained two video games within the division towards the Cincinnati Bengals and Cleveland Browns. And the Houston Texans, whom the Ravens beat, 25-9, within the season opener, simply defeated the Steelers, 30-6, Sunday.

The Ravens aren’t taking something without any consideration.

“Elite focus,” tight finish Mark Andrews stated. “We talked about being lasered in week by week. Obviously, the Ravens-Steelers sport is among the greatest rivalries on the planet, and for those who’re not prepared for a sport like this, what are you doing?

“But for us, being able to focus out here in practice knowing what to do, visualize the moment and make the plays when they come because it’s a week-by-week basis. We just have to keep on stacking, keep on going. If we do that, we’ll be the team we want to be.”

The Ravens don’t need to look too far forward, and neither does The Baltimore Sun. Here’s how the Ravens graded out at every place by the primary 4 video games:

Quarterback

Statistically, Lamar Jackson is on tempo for considered one of his greatest seasons. He has accomplished 78 of 105 passes — a career-high completion charge of 74.3% — for 794 yards and 4 touchdowns, and has a passer ranking of 104.2. Jackson has proven important enchancment passing contained in the pink zone; he throws the ball solely in a spot the place his receiver could make the catch. Jackson has as soon as once more carried the offense however continues to be inconsistent from sport to sport together with his accuracy. He appears to need to show he’s a pocket quarterback as a substitute of simply letting the sport come to him naturally and improvising. Jackson additionally has an issue with ball safety; he leads the league with six fumbles, shedding three. Grade: B

Running backs

The Ravens have made probably the most of a place hit onerous by accidents. They misplaced starter J.Okay. Dobbins within the opener with a torn Achilles tendon. Gus Edwards (44 carries for 193 yards and a landing) has been serviceable, however he’s mainly an inside runner. Backup Justice Hill, the designated outdoors runner and third-down again, has missed two video games with a turf toe damage, however his pace makes a major affect. Hill has simply 22 carries for 83 yards however has scored two touchdowns. Overall, this group has been stable however is much from reaching its peak stage. Fullback Patrick Ricard continues to be the most effective lead blockers within the NFL and has helped in go safety. Grade C

Offensive line

This is one other group that has been hampered by accidents, to Stanley and middle Tyler Linderbaum, however has carried out properly. Patrick Mekari, filling prior to now three video games for Stanley at left sort out, has performed properly regardless of being undersized and competing towards among the prime go rushers on every crew. Guard play has been regular with each John Simpson and Kevin Zeitler; each run fairly properly when pulling. Right sort out Morgan Moses is powerful towards the run however has issues with pace rushers and wishes to chop down on penalties. The Ravens have allowed 11 sacks, however that’s considerably deceptive as a result of Jackson is extraordinarily cell and may discover methods out of jams. Backup middle Sam Mustipher was stable filling in for Linderbaum however did wrestle within the first half towards the Indianapolis Colts. Grade: B-

Receivers

All these glowing experiences popping out of coaching camp about rookie receiver Zay Flowers have been true. Not solely does he have pace, however Flowers additionally runs nice routes and is great at gaining yards after the catch. He leads the Ravens in receptions with 24 for 244 yards. Because of a quadriceps damage, Andrews began the season slowly however has performed properly the previous two video games. He is second on the crew with 14 catches for 160 yards and continues to be Jackson’s favourite goal contained in the pink zone with three touchdowns. Without Flowers and Andrews, this group would obtain an incomplete grade as a result of each Bateman and Beckham have seemingly spent as a lot time on the damage report as they’ve on the sphere. Veteran addition Nelson Agholor has 10 catches for 106 yards and a landing. Grade: C

Defensive line

This unit is unheralded however has gotten the job achieved in three of the primary 4 weeks. The Ravens have the No. 7 rush protection, permitting 92.5 yards per sport. Last week, they held Cleveland to 93 dashing yards, 44 of which got here within the ultimate minute of the sport. The Ravens’ prime linemen, Justin Madubuike and Michael Pierce, every have 10 tackles. Madubuike (two sacks, three quarterback hits) depends extra on quickness and penetration, whereas Pierce has extra of an influence sport, which is the character of the place. He is a bully and takes on fixed double groups however nonetheless has as many tackles as Madubuike and has recovered one fumble. Top reserve Broderick Washington has 4 tackles and two quarterback pressures, whereas veteran Brent Urban has three tackles and two go deflections. Grade: C+

Linebackers

Middle linebacker Roquan Smith needs to be thought of one of many prime gamers within the NFL. He won’t be as dominant as another stars, however he is among the few, particularly on protection, who can take over a sport. Smith leads the crew in tackles with 43, together with 20 solo, and weak-side linebacker Patrick Queen is second with 36. Together, they’ve accounted for 3 1/2 sacks. In idea, they’re doing precisely what must be achieved as a result of a center and weak-side linebacker ought to all the time be within the prime three in tackles. Another drive has been outdoors linebacker Jadeveon Clowney, who has 10 tackles, 1 1/2 sacks and 5 quarterback pressures. Both younger outdoors linebackers, Odafe Oweh and David Ojabo, have been anticipated to have breakout seasons however to date have been injured and missed in depth time. It can be attention-grabbing to look at another edge rushers carry out, akin to Malik Harrison, Jeremiah Moon and not too long ago acquired veteran Kyle Van Noy. Grade: A-

Secondary

Despite Humphrey and Williams lacking in depth motion, the Ravens are ranked No. 3 in go protection, permitting 168.3 passing yards per sport. The secondary has thankfully performed towards a number of unproven quarterbacks, however the unit has nonetheless delivered some good manufacturing, particularly coming as much as make tackles and stopping massive performs. Cornerback Brandon Stephens is third on the crew in tackles with 28, and each safeties, Geno Stone and Kyle Hamilton, are tied for fourth with 21. Stone has two of the crew’s 4 interceptions and Hamilton has three sacks. When the Ravens have wanted an enormous play on the again finish, these guys have normally delivered. Grade: B-

Special groups

The kicking sport is okay. Justin Tucker has transformed on 4 of six discipline objective makes an attempt, with each misses coming from 50-plus yards. Jordan Stout is averaging 49 yards on 21 punts with a internet of 39.6. But the particular groups have slipped this season, permitting a mean of twenty-two.1 yards on punt returns, together with an 81-yard landing by Bengals rookie Charlie Jones. Then there was the truthful catch debacle towards the Colts, which allowed Indianapolis to make use of the two-minute warning to cease the clock. In latest years, the Ravens’ particular groups have been excellent. So far this season, they’ll’t even resolve when to return or truthful catch a punt. Grade: C-

Coaching

Despite the accidents, the Ravens are in first place within the AFC North. One of Harbaugh’s strengths is to rally his groups round adversity, and this crew has prevented early setbacks. The offense continues to be a piece in progress and the Ravens haven’t proven a lot of a deep passing sport. Regardless, they’ve been profitable due to Jackson’s big-play capacity and their robust defensive performances. The Ravens are in a position to plug gamers in and nonetheless management most offenses. Maybe solely the San Francisco 49ers have a greater protection proper now. Grade: B

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