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Mailbag: What's the Plan if Kyle Hamilton Is Sidelined?

From left: CB Ronald Darby, CB Damarion "Pepe" Williams, CB Arthur Maulet
From left: CB Ronald Darby, CB Damarion "Pepe" Williams, CB Arthur Maulet

Mink: If Kyle Hamilton is sidelined this Sunday, and that's still a big "if" considering he's day-to-day with a reported knee sprain and is practicing Wednesday, the Ravens have a few different directions they could go. In all the scenarios, I envision Geno Stone stepping in at full-time safety alongside Marcus Williams. It's more a matter of identifying the slot cornerback.

Option 1: Insert Arthur Maulet. The veteran didn't have his best game against the Rams (granted, in some tough assignments against very good wide receivers), but Maulet has played really well at times this season.

Option 2: Move Marlon Humphrey into the slot and insert Ronald Darby as the outside corner. Darby has been on a roll and Humphrey has proven over his career that he can thrive playing closer to the action. As he continues to work his way back into top shape from his calf injury, and coming off a tough finish against the Rams, a little change-up could be a solution.

Option 3: Damarion "Pepe" Williams has been activated to the 53-man roster off injured reserve and could see his first action of the season. The Ravens have had high hopes for the scrappy defensive back, but injuries have slowed him down. Perhaps he gets some reps and gives the Jaguars a different look.

Mike Macdonald could mix and match with all three of these options or roll out some other creative solution I haven't even considered. Baltimore's defense missed Hamilton's presence Sunday against the Rams, but with a week of preparation for the possibility that he's out in Jacksonville, I think Baltimore will be up the for the challenge if needed.

Downing: Pushing the ball down the field seemed to be a point of emphasis of this game. Lamar Jackson attempted nine deep passes on the day, completing three for 121 yards and three touchdowns. That was more than double the deep passing yardage that Jackson had in any other game this season. I asked Head Coach John Harbaugh about the deep passing approach in this game, and he said that getting the ball downfield is a focus every week, but the Ravens thought they could exploit the Rams defense with double moves in this game. The Ravens hit on the double move in a big way with the 46-yard touchdown to Odell Beckham Jr., and they continued to take shots throughout the game.

Trying to push the ball downfield is a balance. Those are low percentage throws, but they can be game-changing when completed. Taking the deep shots on early downs is also a creative way to keep the defense off-balance. Offenses don't want to become predictable by running it on every first down, so taking deep shots is a way to avoid that. All of this is a balance. I like the focus on big plays and looking for opportunities to push the ball down the field, but that can come at the expense of getting into third-and-short situations.

Mink: The Rams marched down the field with nine straight runs Sunday at M&T Bank Stadium, a concerning sight against Baltimore's defense. If there's been one hiccup with the Ravens' mighty defense this year, it's been against the run, where Baltimore ranks No. 12 in the league (104.2 yards allowed per game).

Yes, the 49ers' and Dolphins' offenses come from the same coaching tree, so I do think the Ravens can take some lessons from Sunday's game. But they already got those lessons. Baltimore's run defense was significantly better in the second half against the Rams. They saw the correction they needed to make and made it.

Downing: The door for Mark Andrews to return is very much open as he recovers from ankle surgery. Harbaugh said last week, "I'm not ruling out Mark Andrews for the down-the-road future at all." Andrews is doing everything he can to get back on the field. Harbaugh and the Ravens did not provide any kind of timetable for his return, so we can only go off the various reports for NFL Insiders. NFL Network’s Mike Garafolo reported that Andrews could return if the Ravens go on a deep playoff run. Would it have to be the Super Bowl? Could it be the AFC championship? Sooner? All of that is unknown at this point. Andrews had surgery on Nov. 21 and he's been working hard behind the scenes to get himself back this season. Nobody on this team works harder than Andrews, and seeing him back in uniform this year would be a tremendous boost for this team if he is able to make that happen.

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