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Mailbag: What Role Will Josh Ross Have This Season?

Baltimore Ravens linebacker Josh Ross (46) gets in position during the second half of a NFL preseason football game against the Washington Commanders, Saturday, Aug 27, 2022, in Baltimore.
Baltimore Ravens linebacker Josh Ross (46) gets in position during the second half of a NFL preseason football game against the Washington Commanders, Saturday, Aug 27, 2022, in Baltimore.

Mink: Josh Ross could step into an important role on this defense. Chris Board, who left for Detroit in free agency, played 33% of the Ravens' defensive snaps last season and 25% in 2020. That's a fairly sizeable chunk. Malik Harrison, who played just one defensive snap after Week 7 last year, will have a bigger role this season. However, I think Ross will take a good amount of the leftover snaps from Board's departure. The undrafted rookie has been strong in pass coverage in training camp and the preseason, which helps fill a niche alongside starters Patrick Queen and Josh Bynes. I expect that Queen will be a three-down linebacker this year, but Ross could relieve Bynes in more obvious passing situations. Ross has also shown himself to be an effective blitzer in those situations. He'll be hungry for his first sack after one slipped through his fingers in the preseason finale.

Of course, Ross will also have a major special teams role. He can run and hit, and his familiarity with the Ravens' special teams operation that he gained at Michigan, where he worked with Jay Harbaugh, also helps. Board played 85% of the special teams snaps last season and I bet Ross is in that range. Kristian Welch, who also made the 53-man roster, will also be a special teams anchor.

It will be fun to watch Ross' development this year as he tries to become the next undrafted Ravens inside linebacker to become an impact player, following in the footsteps of Board, Bynes, Zach Orr (his position coach), Patrick Onwuasor, Albert McClellan, Dannell Ellerbe, Jameel McClain, Bart Scott, etc.

Brown: I'd be very reluctant to trade Huntley, although the Ravens may receive some offers. Huntley has proven he can move the offense consistently if anything happens to Lamar Jackson. That's critical for a team with Super Bowl aspirations like the Ravens.

If Jackson misses a few games, having Huntley could make the difference between making the playoffs or not. Although Brown played well in the preseason finale against the Commanders, he's never started a regular season game, a rookie still in the early stages of his development. The Eagles won a Super Bowl with a quality backup quarterback in Nick Foles a few years ago, and having a backup as good as Huntley gives the Ravens an edge that many contenders don't have. I think the Ravens should keep that edge.

Mink: J.K. Dobbins is the unquestioned No. 1 running back heading into the season. That, however, depends on his healthy. As far as we know, Dobbins hasn't yet taken part of full 11-on-11 team drills. The Ravens already have a proven veteran in Mike Davis and have reportedly added extra insurance by bringing on Kenyan Drake, an experienced and talented back. Justice Hill is also an explosive change-of-pace back who can be a dangerous receiver and will help on special teams.

The Ravens are in a better place than last year if Dobbins isn't ready Week 1. Last season, they were forced to lean on undrafted youngster Ty'Son Williams in the early part of the season, then turned to Devonta Freeman, Latavius Murray and Le'Veon Bell. Williams didn't make the Colts' 53-man roster and the other three are out of the NFL.

Brown: My choice would be tight end, although wide receiver and cornerback were considerations.

The offensive line has more depth, but I can't be completely at ease until I see Ronnie Stanley back in game action. The cornerback position has far more depth, but it's still critical for Marcus Peters and Marlon Humphrey to stay healthy. Rashod Bateman had a terrific training camp, I like the Demarcus Robinson addition, but we'll learn more about the entire wide receiver group once the season begins.

However, I'm completely at ease about the tight end group, and stoked about the possibilities. I obviously wasn't worried about Mark Andrews, but the All-Pro looked better than ever at training camp, dominating several practices. I didn't expect Isaiah Likely to look so good, so soon. I'm also impressed with Nick Boyle's comeback from his major knee injury after his struggles last year. I'm intrigued with the decision to keep Josh Oliver, and we haven't even seen fourth-round draft pick Charlie Kolar, another potential weapon when he returns from hernia surgery.

Offensive Coordinator Greg Roman loves using tight ends, and Jackson loves throwing to them. I think Andrews and Likely will spend ample time on the field together, and Baltimore could lead the league in multiple tight end formations. That has the potential to cause major matchup problems for opposing defenses. I'm not just more at ease about the tight ends. I'm really stoked to see how Baltimore will use them.

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