11 Quick-Hit Opinions as Preseason Wraps Up
The Ravens wrapped up the 2017 preseason with a perfect 4-0 record, which isn't necessarily an indicator of regular-season success, but was something the team wanted to do as they've preached "finishing" all offseason. They now hope to carry that momentum into the season opener.
Below are 11 thoughts and opinions as the preseason wrapped up, which you may want to consider while entering your final roster predictions in our "You Pick the Team" contest.
1) First-round cornerback Marlon Humphrey looks NFL-ready, says The Baltimore Sun's Childs Walker. Humphrey got his first extended action of the preseason due to minor injuries, and once he got on the field Thursday night, he lived up to his reputation as a physical and aggressive corner. He notched a pass breakup and delivered a nasty hit in run support, forcing a fumble and turnover. "Because of that pressing style, Humphrey will probably get beat on the occasional deep ball when he starts lining up against the league's elite," wrote Walker. "But he'll also be a lot of fun to watch."
2)Undrafted rookie inside linebacker Bam Bradley seemingly solidified his roster spot, says The Sun's Jeff Zrebiec. With the season-ending ACL injury to Albert McClellan, Bradley's big hits (perfectly exemplifying his name) and strong special teams play surely brings comfort as the Ravens look* *to find someone to replace McClellan, a seven-year veteran.
3) All of Baltimore has been pulling for Keenan Reynolds, but it doesn't look like the second-year converted college quarterback did enough to make the team, says WNST's Luke Jones. The Navy product has made obvious strides in his transition to receiver/returner since his rookie season, but he still looks like he'll be off the 53-man squad. Instead of calling for a fair catch on a punt Thursday night, Reynolds tried to make a play, but failed to reel in the ball and fumbled when hit. "Perhaps he'll be invited back to the practice squad for another season, but I'm just not seeing it with the former Navy quarterback," wrote Jones. "I hope I'm wrong."
4) Quarterback Josh Woodrum surprisingly didn't get into the game until the fourth quarter, giving Thad Lewis an extended look through the second and third quarters. But after already opening eyes with previous strong performances, Woodrum is expected to land on the practice squad, says ESPN's web site. That said, if Flacco ends up missing time in the regular season, ESPN foresees the Ravens signing an experienced free agent rather than going with Woodrum.
5) Undrafted rookies Taquan Mizzell and Ricky Ortiz didn't do enough to make the 53-man roster, says ESPN. "No one should be surprised if Baltimore adds a running back who gets cut by another team on Saturday," the site wrote. "The Ravens will try to stash Taquan Mizzell on the practice squad. Who's the fullback? Baltimore will go with more two tight end formations this season under Greg Roman, so the Ravens will use the combination of tight end Nick Boyle and defensive lineman Patrick Ricard when they need a lead blocker." As for Bobby Rainey, who had a strong game Thursday night, Jones says the fact he was playing in the fourth preseason game indicates he's not even on the bubble.
6) Carl Davis' impressive night, which included a BIG GUY interception nearly returned for a touchdown, only reminded everyone that making roster decisions along the defensive line will be difficult, says Press Box's Bo Smolka. There was talk of Davis being on the roster bubble, but he did everything he could to get on the right side of that. "Carl Davis, Patrick Ricard and Willie Henry are all capable NFL linemen, but could be caught up in a roster crunch if the Ravens opt to keep just seven linemen," Smolka wrote. "The Ravens may also opt to keep all eight at the expense of a position that isn't as deep." Meanwhile, Henry also flashed by applying pressure in the pocket, but committed his fifth penalty of the preseason last night. "His talent makes him worthy of the 53-man roster, but that lack of discipline quickly lands you in the coaching staff's doghouse," wrote Jones.
7) Both Chris Matthews and Chris Moore had standout plays last night in their bids for receiver spots. Matthews caught three passes for 66 yards, including an impressive 37-yarder in which he tracked a deep ball and used his big body to bring it down. Moore reeled in a 1-yard touchdown pass in the back of the end zone. Who has the edge in the battle for the final receiver spots? "Don't be surprised if the Ravens keep both players for special teams purposes," wrote Walker. "If they pick one, Matthews probably has the slight edge, despite the fact that Moore was a fourth-round pick just last season."
8)While Tim Williams didn't notch a tackle or sack last night, he did log a quarterback hit and a pass defensed and frequently applied pressure off the edge. "You could again see how disruptive he can be as a pass rusher," wrote Jones. "His limitations as a special-teams player could hinder his game-day status to start the season, but the potential is there coming off the edge."
9) As the Ravens continue to try to settle in on a left guard, Walker says Matt Skura is a "viable option." Walker added that, based on playing time this preseason, it's most likely that James Hurst opens the regular season at the position, but it could change later in the season. "[T]he Ravens think highly of Skura, who signed as an undrafted free agent out of Duke and spent last season on the practice squad," Walker wrote. "He started at left guard against the Saints, and cleared the way for several significant runs. … I don't expect him to start the first game in Cincinnati. But if the left side of the line struggles early and the Ravens don't acquire veteran help in the next week, Skura has earned his chance to be the next man up."
10) Giving a big-picture look at how the bubble players performed last night, The Sun's Edward Lee summed it up like this: "From my perspective, Carl Davis, Patrick Ricard, Bam Bradley and Chris Matthews [impressed], while Sheldon Price, Keenan Reynolds, Jeremy Zuttah and Thaddeus Lewis [did not]. Chris Moore, Josh Woodrum and Bobby Rainey had mixed showings."
11) The short-term health of the cornerbacks corps suddenly looks "shaky," says Jones. Price sustained a concussion Thursday night. Jaylen Hill and Robertson Daniel are "apparently banged up as well," wrote Jones. "Brandon Boykin also missed the final three preseason games."