Various thoughts on various things, all in 50 words or less:
Sure, the anticipation would be higher if Marcus Peters or J.K. Dobbins were coming back, but the combined effect of the eventual returns of Nick Boyle and/or Derek Wolfe, Chris Westry, Ben Cleveland, Sammy Watkins, Patrick Mekari, Latavius Murray and Daelin Hayes would give the Ravens quite a boost.
Remember, the Ravens' original blueprint called for Watkins, Marquise Brown and Rashod Bateman to play together. Injuries have prevented it, but when it debuts, my hunch is Bateman will man the slot with the other two outside. It'll be interesting to see how defenses handle that or if they do.
Former Ravens Offensive Coordinator Gary Kubiak's offense will make a return trip to M&T Bank Stadium Sunday. Kubiak's son, Klint, is the Vikings' OC and a chip off the old block schematically. I believe it still holds that you're sunk if you can't stop the run against a Kubiak offense.
The Ravens and Vikings are among the few teams that use a fullback to lead-block on running plays. (The 49ers also do with Kyle Juszczyk.) Minnesota's C.J. Ham grades nicely at Pro Football Focus, but the Ravens' Patrick Ricard grades higher and outweighs Ham by, wait for it, 76 pounds.
Seems like a good time to bring up the first commandment of NFL football: Thou shalt taketh what the schedule giveth. Plenty of tough games lie ahead, but the Ravens won't face an opponent that currently has a winning record until December. It's a prime opportunity to stack some wins.
I'd be careful with getting too pumped up about the possibility of tackle Ja'Wuan James helping the Ravens this year. You never know, but he tore his Achilles in May; playing by December sounds fast. Regardless, James seemingly has a great shot to be a major contributor in 2022.
Game tape worth checking out: The Jets did a nice job of slowing down the Bengals' Ja'Marr Chase a week after the rookie wide receiver torched the Ravens. Chase's 32 receiving yards against the Jets were 169 fewer than he totaled in Baltimore, and he also dropped a touchdown pass.
Between all the injuries, wild games and ups and downs, it seems as if the Ravens already have played forever in 2021. But coming out of their bye, they still have 10 games left in their regular season, which is a ton of football. Whew, so many miles to go!
Rightfully, Tom Matte's great football career was remembered fondly on the sad occasion of his passing earlier this week. But Matte lived in Baltimore for a half-century after he played for the Colts. His greatest legacy is how many people he touched in this community with his friendly, generous spirit.
Matte's signature football moment came when he nearly quarterbacked the Colts to a playoff victory over the Packers. He loved that his legendary wristband (with the plays scribbled on it) wound up in the Hall of Fame because sportswriter John Steadman retrieved it after Matte flung it away in disgust.