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Eisenberg: 50 Words or Less


Various thoughts on various subjects, all in 50 words or less:

On the eve of the Ravens' first road game of 2020 Sunday in Houston, it's probably worth noting that Kansas City is the only locale where Lamar Jackson has lost a road game as the Ravens' starting quarterback. He's 0-for-2 at Arrowhead Stadium but 9-for-9 everywhere else.

The Texans will have plenty of motivation Sunday. They don't want to start 0-2 in a competitive division after losing their opener. They also surely would like to hand out paybacks for the whipping they absorbed in Baltimore last season. Still, my hunch is they'd rather be playing someone else.

You have to love how Willie Snead IV has responded to the Ravens drafting so many young receivers over the past few years. He came to training camp lighter and in great shape and was among the team's most productive pass catchers in Week 1. Protecting his role quite impressively.

Officially, the Ravens started three rookies against the Browns last Sunday – linebackers Patrick Queen and Malik Harrison and guard Tyre Phillips. I have to believe there've been few other instances, if any, of an NFL team starting that many rookies in Week 1 when coming off a 14-2 season.

The Ravens are playing a long game by starting a rookie (Phillips) at right guard next to a center (Matt Skura) coming back from a major knee injury suffered 10 months ago. Some early hiccups are possible, but the organization is counting on things getting better as the season progresses.

Defensive Coordinator Wink Martindale was in midseason form with his mix-and-match juggling of personnel in Week 1, as 19 defensive players logged at least 21 snaps. The only defender who never came off the field was, no surprise, safety Chuck Clark, who wears the signal-calling green-dot helmet.

Clark's fellow secondary stalwarts DeShon Elliott, Marcus Peters and Marlon Humphrey also barely came off the field, missing a total seven snaps combined (out of 73 the defense played). In other words, count on the vast majority of Martindale's personnel juggling taking place among the front seven.

So much for those sky-is-falling predictions that the lack of a preseason would result in sloppy early-season performances across the league. Penalties were down more than 30 percent compared to Week 1 last year. Amazingly, holding penalties dropped from 82 to 18, according to the Washington Post.

My prediction is the league will go back to staging a preseason in 2021 and beyond, but it'll be shorter now that the regular season is expanding to 17 games perhaps as early as next season. My guess for the future length of the preseason is (drum roll) two games.

You may not have noticed the first example of the Ravens taking advantage of this season's more relaxed practice squad rules. They called up safety Jordan Richards for Week 1 and used him extensively on special teams. Only two teammates logged more special-teams snaps. Richards is still on the P-squad.

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