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Mailbag: What Signing Is Left, Wide Receiver or Linebacker?

Ravens GM Eric DeCosta
Ravens GM Eric DeCosta

Mink: I think a linebacker is more likely at this point. The Ravens signed Trent Harris last week but he suffered an injury in his first few days of practice and has been placed on Injured Reserve. The Ravens also lost SAM linebacker Vince Biegel to a season-ending torn Achilles. So they could use some more depth, and probably somebody with a little versatility to play outside or inside. The desire is clearly there for more help at linebacker.

I know we've talked a ton about the possibility of signing another wide receiver, but, at least to me, that was always contingent on how well the wideouts did in training camp. Their performance has been one of the brightest spots of camp. Rashod Bateman, Devin Duvernay and James Proche II have all been very good. I just don't see wide receiver as a problem. Now, injuries that knocked Duvernay and now Proche out of practice for chunks of time do bring up depth questions. The strong preseason and training camps being had by Shemar Bridges, Makai Polk and Jaylon Moore give the Ravens confidence that they have enough depth. Or Eric DeCosta and John Harbaugh may still say they'd like to have more of a sure thing in terms of depth with a veteran.

Brown: I don't think Lamar Jackson will play a single snap this preseason. He's having his best training camp ever, throwing darts and looking in complete command of the offense. I know he missed the final month of last season and hasn't seen game action in some time, but will playing a series or two during the preseason really impact how Jackson plays Week 1 against the Jets? I don't think so.

I thought it was interesting that Jackson wouldn't say if he would lobby to play. I think he feels ready for Week 1 right now, whether he plays this preseason or not. In addition, All-Pro left tackle Ronnie Stanley isn't practicing yet and rookie center Tyler Linderbaum hasn't returned from his foot injury. The presumed starting offensive line isn't healthy, and I think that further decreases the likelihood that Jackson will play. It's obviously not my decision, but I wouldn't play Jackson. To me, the risk just isn't worth the reward.

Mink: I'll give you two names. Cornerback David Vereen is standing out in practice. The Newberry product is a smaller guy at 5-foot-9, 186 pounds, but Vereen is feisty. He isn't afraid to go up and challenge wide receivers, evidenced by a pass breakup against Bridges this week. Vereen is one of those guys that "makes a play a day," as Head Coach John Harbaugh preaches.

Josh Ross is starting to emerge from the pack of undrafted inside linebackers. His pass coverage abilities separate him, and they were evident in the preseason game when he tipped the pass that was intercepted by Geno Stone. The Michigan product also has a leg up considering he worked with Mike Macdonald last year.

Brown: I think Travis Jones will be a regular in the defensive line rotation from Week 1. I don't see him starting right away, and whether he starts later this season will depend on injuries and how he performs. However, the Ravens like to rotate their defensive linemen to keep them fresh. I expect Jones to be a consistent contributor as a rookie like Michael Pierce was in 2016 when he played all 16 games and 36% of the defensive snaps. Jones' combination of strength and quickness already has teammates talking and the coaches love his relentless motor. His game tape from the preseason opener was impressive – a sack and several snaps when he bulldozed into the backfield as a pass rusher or shed blockers quickly as a run-stopper The Ravens wanted to get younger and more athletic up front and Jones checks both boxes.

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