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50 Words Or Less: Isaiah Likely Has Already Proven Ravens Right

TE Isaiah Likely
TE Isaiah Likely

Coming off a 23-10 win in their preseason opener, the Ravens look like a team on the right track.

Here are my latest thoughts on training camp and the preseason opener, all in 50 words or less:

The Ravens weren't planning to draft Isaiah Likely in the fourth round. They had picked another tight end Charlie Kolar earlier in the round and were eyeing a wide receiver. But when that wideout was plucked one pick before (by Pittsburgh), Baltimore leaned on its trusted model: best player available.

With Kolar undergoing sports hernia surgery, the Ravens would be hurting without Likely, the belle of training camp and preseason opener. In the draft room that night, Greg Roman was asked whether he could find a role for Likely. You bet, he said. Sure enough, he has.

The Ravens' wide receiver depth is already being tested by injuries to James Proche II and Tylan Wallace. Likely helps that calculus, and Shemar Bridges and Makai Polk's preseason debuts show there's intriguing talent lurking. How they practice this week with the veterans out will be crucial.

It looks like the Ravens are going to face Joe Flacco Week 1 at MetLife Stadium after Jets starter Zach Wilson suffered a reported PCL knee injury in Friday night's preseason game. What an unreal development. Flacco, who is entering Year 15(!), has reportedly been practicing better than Wilson.

This is exactly why Lamar Jackson doesn't play in the preseason. He only got one series last year and my hunch is he won't even see that this year. Thirty-two Ravens players didn't suit up Thursday night (compared to 23 Titans). Baltimore's doing everything it can to avoid preseason injuries.

The strength of the Ravens' running game hinges on the next 1-2 weeks. That's when Baltimore finds out how J.K. Dobbins' knee is responding to playing football again. While the Ravens will run the ball well regardless of who is taking handoffs, a dynamic Dobbins would make it special.

Harbaugh said he wants to see 2-3 weeks of practice from Ronnie Stanley, Tyus Bowser and other Ravens returning from rehab if they're going to suit up Week 1. That would put them on schedule for taking the field after the team's trip to Arizona this week.

Replacing Anthony Levine Sr. is an under-the-radar Ravens storyline. Everybody knows what "Co-Cap" meant to Baltimore's elite special teams unit. It looks and sounds like Geno Stone, the third-year safety from Iowa, is in line for the promotion. Stone also has a nose for the football, like Levine, on defense.

Bridges following his stepfather in trying to make the Ravens roster is an awesome story. Time will tell whether Thursday night is the story Bridges is telling 20 years from now or his career is just getting started. My bet is on the latter. He's big and plays big.

The rookie class looks like it will have a major impact this season. Kyle Hamilton absolutely will. Tyler Linderbaum will be the starting center. Travis Jones looks like a player that will see a lot of snaps early. He was dominant Thursday night, just as he's been in practice.

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