We'll Finally Get Some Answers to Questions Today; 10 Ravens Who Need Big OTAs
It's finally here.
Reporters get their first look today at the full 90-man roster that General Manager Ozzie Newsome has assembled this offseason, which is no small thing seeing as nearly half the players weren't on the team at this time last year.
"Thursday's workout offers the most extensive glimpse yet at a Ravens' roster that has undergone significant changes this offseason," wrote The Baltimore Sun's Jeff Zrebiec.
Practice takeaways will be limited as contact is prohibited and players are in shorts, but Zrebiec says we'll finally start to get some answers to long-awaited questions, including:
- How Joe Flacco feels about the Ravens drafting Lamar Jackson
- How injured players look in their recoveries
- How the new receiver corps is coming along
- How the defense will function under new coordinator Wink Martindale
- How ready the rookie class is to contribute
Zrebiec also named 10 players that have the most to gain over the next few weeks during Organized Team Activities (OTAs) and mandatory minicamp:
1-2) OLBs Tyus Bowser and Tim Williams – Time to show off ability
With Terrell Suggs entering his 16th season, the Ravens need one or both of their mid-round draft picks from last year to emerge. "Bowser got off to a solid start and then seemed to hit the rookie wall. He should benefit from another offseason to get stronger and more comfortable with the defense," wrote Zrebiec. "The game seemed to be moving a little too fast for Williams last year, but he still has a lot of ability as a pass rusher. It's time he shows it."
3) LB Kamalei Correa – Position change could help
The 2016 second-rounder could benefit from a position change from middle linebacker to outside linebacker, where he played in college. It's his more natural position, and Zrebiec says it could be a good change in what could be a make-or-break season for Correa.
4) RB Kenneth Dixon – X-Factor
Imagine a healthy, focused Dixon complementing starting running back Alex Collins. It could be a pretty sight, which is why Zrebiec calls Dixon the "X-factor."
5) QB Robert Griffin III – Wants to prove Ravens need three QBs
Will the Ravens keep two quarterbacks or three on the 53-man roster? They've kept two for seven consecutive years, and while rookie Lamar Jackson is inexperienced, he's also the most talented backup Baltimore's ever had. "A reluctance to throw Jackson into the fire might prompt a change in philosophy this year, but Griffin might have to force the team's hand with his play," wrote Zrebiec.
6-7) WR Breshad Perriman and TE Maxx Williams – Last chance
We've discussed this pair of 2015 draft picks plenty. After the Ravens added a significant number of players at each position, Perriman is fighting for a roster spot and Williams is hoping to carve out a role on the offense. They're both entering the final year of their rookie contracts, so this could be their last chance with the Ravens.
8) WR Tim White – Starting from scratch
Last year's undrafted free agent may have made the 53-man roster had he not injured his thumb. He shined as a punt returner and showed playmaking ability on offense. But that was last year, and there's a brand-new group that he's competing against. White can't live off one strong summer. "The wide receiver room is pretty crowded, so White will need to prove himself all over again," Zrebiec wrote.
9) OL Jermaine Eluemunor – Must grow up quickly
"Viewed as a developmental prospect, Eluemunor will have to grow up quickly," wrote Zrebiec. The main reason Eluemunor was able to start two games last year was because of injuries to Marshal Yanda and Alex Lewis. Well, they'll be back, along with Nico Siragusa, and the Ravens added third-round pick Orlando Brown Jr., so the offensive line is crowded.
10) DE Bronson Kaufusi – Needs to flash
The 2016 third-rounder looks the part at 6-foot-6, 285 pounds, but his development was set back by a season-ending injury his rookie year. He got one start last year, but the Ravens didn't think he was ready and turned to Willie Henry. Zrebiec says Kaufusi needs to stay healthy and flash on the field this summer to make the team.
NFL Implements New National Anthem Policy
NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell announced a new national anthem policy, which was approved by NFL owners after a two-day meeting and subsequent vote. San Francisco 49ers CEO Jed York abstained from voting, saying, in part, that he felt the players needed to be more involved in the process.
Below is the statement released by the league:
The policy adopted today was approved in concert with the NFL's ongoing commitment to local communities and our country -- one that is extraordinary in its scope, resources, and alignment with our players. We are dedicated to continuing our collaboration with players to advance the goals of justice and fairness in all corners of our society.
The efforts by many of our players sparked awareness and action around issues of social justice that must be addressed. The platform that we have created together is certainly unique in professional sports and quite likely in American business. We are honored to work with our players to drive progress.
It was unfortunate that on-field protests created a false perception among many that thousands of NFL players were unpatriotic. This is not and was never the case.
This season, all league and team personnel shall stand and show respect for the flag and the anthem. Personnel who choose not to stand for the anthem may stay in the locker room until after the anthem has been performed.
We believe today's decision will keep our focus on the game and the extraordinary athletes who play it -- and on our fans who enjoy it.
The membership also strongly believes that:
1. All team and league personnel on the field shall stand and show respect for the flag and the anthem.
2.The Game Operations Manual will be revised to remove the requirement that all players be on the field for the anthem.
3. Personnel who choose not to stand for the anthem may stay in the locker room or in a similar location off the field until after the anthem has been performed.
4. A club will be fined by the League if its personnel are on the field and do not stand and show respect for the flag and the anthem.
5. Each club may develop its own work rules, consistent with the above principles, regarding its personnel who do not stand and show respect for the flag and the anthem.
6. The commissioner will impose appropriate discipline on league personnel who do not stand and show respect for the flag and the anthem.
There was plenty of reaction to the new policy, with many loud voices that both approve and disapprove. The NFLPA released a statement saying the league didn't include the union on the policy, and some players at the forefront of the issue say they will continue to draw attention to the social injustices they see in the country.
Falcons Sign Former Ravens Fullback Ricky Ortiz
Former Ravens fullback Ricky Ortiz found a new home in Atlanta, where he hopes to prove worthy of a spot on their 53-man roster.
The Falcons are one of the few teams that still employ a fullback, and Ortiz is one of three players competing for the job.
The Ravens signed Ortiz last year as an undrafted free agent. He got some playing time during the preseason, rushing three times for 8 yards and catching four passes for 21 yards. Converted defensive lineman Patrick Ricard won the job, while Ortiz was added to the team's practice squad. He was released earlier this month.
- League owners unanimously approved Wednesday a proposal to award Super Bowl LVII to Glendale, Arizona in 2023 and Super Bowl LVIII to New Orleans in 2024. Nashville, Tennessee will host the 2019 NFL Draft. [NFL.com]