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Late for Work 9/4: Ravens Named as a Trade Destination for Melvin Gordon; Power Rankings Heading Into Week 1 

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Ravens Named as Trade Destination for Melvin Gordon

Los Angeles Chargers running back Melvin Gordon continues to hold out as he seeks a new contract and his reps have reportedly been given permission to seek a trade, according to NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport.

ESPN’s Josina Anderson reported the Chargers are seeking at least a first-round pick in exchange for Gordon, and Forbes’ Vincent Frank named the Ravens as one of five possible trade destinations for the star running back.

“This fit makes even more sense when we consider that the Ravens have a run-first quarterback in Lamar Jackson,” Frank wrote. “Just imagine how electric that backfield would be. From a financial perspective, Baltimore can surely afford to pay Gordon’s asking price with Jackson still playing under his rookie deal. The young quarterback is set to count a combined $4 million against the cap over the next three seasons.”

[Week of Winning Code Word: GoRavens]

Gordon is an elite talent out of the backfield, having totaled at least 1,400 yards from scrimmage over each of the past three seasons. Frank noted that Mark Ingram II would pair well in a two-back system with Gordon after doing the same with Alvin Kamara in New Orleans.

But despite the hype surrounding the potential of acquiring a top running back, Ebony Bird’s Chris Schisler took the opposite stance.

“While Gordon is one of the best running backs in the National Football League, the Ravens shouldn’t go after him,” Schisler wrote. “Trading for Gordon is an idea that doesn’t really add up.”

Schisler believes the Ravens have enough talent in the backfield with Ingram, Gus Edwards, and rookie Justice Hill. You also have to factor in Jackson, who some pundits believe could break Michael Vick’s single-season rushing record for a quarterback.

“I’d be mildly surprised if the Ravens were serious suitors on Gordon,” The Athletic’s Jeff Zrebiec wrote. “The combination of giving up assets to acquire him and then signing him to a huge deal doesn’t seem all that appealing for a team with three backs who they really like. However, it’s probably not wise to dismiss anything when it comes to [Eric] DeCosta’s interest in adding high-impact pieces.”

Baltimore finished second in average rushing yards per game last season (152.6), and Schisler doesn’t see a reason to change an established ground attack.

“The Ravens are good at running the football,” Schisler wrote. “The idea of trading for Gordon is one of fixing something that isn’t broken.”

How Ravens Stack Up in Power Rankings Heading Into Week 1

The Ravens kick off the regular season against the Miami Dolphins in just a few days, and it’s becoming a more favorable matchup as Sunday approaches.

After Miami traded away left tackle Laremy Tunsil, wide receiver Kenny Stills and linebacker Kiko Alonso, the Ravens are now seven-point favorites, according to Westgate Sportsbook.

Pundits have offered varying opinions on the Ravens’ outlook for the 2019 season. With that in mind, here is how Baltimore stacks up in the power rankings heading into Week 1.

“That's a lot of talent to lose, but luckily for the Ravens, they have one of the best defensive coordinators in football in Don Martindale. Some teams you just expect to figure it out. The Ravens qualify -- especially when it comes to defense.”

“The Ravens are all in on Jackson as their quarterback, and it’ll be interesting to see how their revamped offense holds up. Can Jackson withstand another 147 carries in 2019? It’s tough to say, but he should be able to make more plays with his arm and his legs.”

From all accounts, big rookie receiver Miles Boykin had a great camp. If the Ravens hit on that third-round pick, and first-round pick Marquise Brown pays off too, all of a sudden Jackson has some exciting targets.”

“John Harbaugh perhaps has over-promised with his proclamations that the Ravens will revolutionize the way offense is played in the NFL … And Jackson must show improved accuracy on short to medium throws to keep defenses honest. That would be enough to keep the Ravens in contention, provided the defense maintains its excellence.”

“Jackson is going to have to improve as a passer because it’s going to be challenging for him to remain durable running the ball as much as he did last season. The Ravens added Ingram to the backfield and if he can carry the load, that will help a team that is driven to win old-school on the ground.”

Their season will be defined by how well Jackson improves as a passer. There is still a lot of talent on the roster.”

“In his second season, Jackson must be more accurate. The Ravens took some free agent hits on defense. They should start with a win over Miami.”

The Ravens are the lowest-ranked team in these power rankings that captured a division title in 2018—largely because of a wide disparity in the high and low rankings from our panel … It's simple, really. How Baltimore replaces those departed defenders and adapts the offense in 2019 will determine which side of that disparity is proven correct—the believers or the nay-sayers.”

“Their last preseason loss was in 2015, yet they haven't won a playoff game in that span. The team's timing should improve if Jackson does.”

Best-Case Scenario: “Rushing efficiency is a given with this group, but Baltimore’s offense could become truly terrifying if Jackson grows as a passer … Even with the rookie receivers aboard, though, Baltimore’s passing game will often feature two tight ends and a steady diet of throws over the middle to take advantage of the space that play-action creates with linebackers flying toward the line of scrimmage.

Worst-Case Scenario: “Jackson’s tough day against the Chargers in last year’s playoffs is still fresh in people’s minds … Teams will almost certainly dare the Ravens to throw this season, and if Jackson can’t take advantage, it’s going to be a long, frustrating year for this offense.”

Patrick Mekari ‘Ready to Play’ If Opportunity Comes

As expected, the Ravens’ first regular-season depth chart didn’t provide any clarity about who will start at left guard against the Dolphins, but undrafted rookie Patrick Mekari is prepared to claim that role if called upon.

"I have no idea who it's going to be, but if it is going to be me, I'll be extremely grateful,” Mekari said on Glenn Clark Radio. “... I've put in the work, I'm ready to play whatever position they put me at. Overall, we just want to win the game. ... If it's me, that's great."

Mekari, one of two undrafted rookies to make the 53-man roster in Baltimore, told Clark he didn’t know about the Ravens’ undrafted streak until he made the team. Mekari used the motivation of going undrafted to emerge as a starting option on the offensive line.

"The underdog story has kind of been a part of me before I went to college,” Mekari said. “... I was offered to [the University of California Berkeley] a day before signing day. … That's part of who I am; I embrace that."

Mekari showed his versatility during the preseason, playing at center, guard, and left tackle against the Washington Redskins. It’s a reason why he’s part of an offensive line that was ranked 11th by Pro Football Focus.

The Ravens have a strong track record of developing offensive linemen into starters, and Mekari hasn’t taken for granted learning from one of the NFL’s best in Marshal Yanda.

"I remember growing up watching Yanda play, just on film in college. ... And now you're teammates with him, you're coworkers,” Mekari said. “... It's very humbling; it's a blessing, it truly is."

Bobby Engram and His Family Are Overcoming Tragedy in a Positive Light

As Bobby Engram embarks on a new journey this season as the Ravens tight ends coach, he’s faced one of the most difficult challenges of his life over the past year.

Last August, Engram’s oldest daughter, Bobbi, passed away due to complications of sickle cell disease.

September is Sickle Cell Awareness Month, and Zrebiec highlighted how the Engram family is using an unspeakable tragedy to help others in need.

“She was about 7 or 8, and she looked at me and Bobby from her hospital bed and she said, ‘What do other kids do when they’re struggling?’” Deanna Engram, Bobby’s wife, told Zrebiec. “She said, ‘I have you and Dad, and I have my medicine, and we have doctors, but what about kids who can’t even afford medication? What about them?’ Our jaws dropped. We left that hospital and we were changed. We went and we got to work.”

The Engrams renamed the Bobby Engram Foundation to the Bobbi Engram Foundation “to provide awareness, hope and resources for those who struggle with sickle cell disease, and to honor Bobbi’s legacy in the process.”

“We always told Bobbi that there was a purpose for her pain, and she believed that,” Deanna Engram said. “We believe that the purpose for her pain was to help others and find a cure.”

Quick Hits

  • If former Ravens wide receiver Torrey Smith wants to take up coaching after his career, Zrebiec believes it should be in Baltimore: “[T]he Ravens should find a role in the organization for their former player, much like they’ve done with guys like Jameel McClain and Zachary Orr. For Smith, who plans on living in Baltimore when his football career is over, simply being around younger players would be beneficial, even if it’s a periodic thing.”
  • Pro Football Focus’ Mark Chichester predicts tight end Mark Andrews to be the Ravens’ breakout star in 2019.
  • Hungry for some football? Here are the new food and drink options available at M&T Bank Stadium this season.

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