Mailbag: What's the Plan at Inside Linebacker Moving Forward?

Left: LB Josh Bynes; Right: LB Patrick Queen

Mink: Josh Bynes certainly helped calm things down for the Ravens defense last week against the Chargers. This ain't his first rodeo and it shows on the field. Bynes isn't the same athlete that Patrick Queen is at this point, but experience and knowledge of the game matter a lot, especially at middle linebacker, and Bynes has an abundance of that.

For now, I expect the Ravens will continue to use Bynes as their primary middle linebacker (he played 77% of the defensive snaps) with

Queen getting the lion's share of the reps next to him and also working in some to give Bynes a break. I don't think the Ravens want Bynes playing every snap as Queen essentially did for the first several games this season. That means there's still reps available for Malik Harrison and Chris Board in the rotation.

Long-term, I think the Ravens would like Queen to be their every-down middle linebacker. He still has all the talent and upside for the job. Everybody should keep in mind that he's still just 22 years old and wasn't a full-time starter until his final season at LSU. He's young. But the future is bright for Queen.

And, no, the Ravens aren't going to trade for an inside linebacker. They added another experienced veteran, Joe Thomas, to the practice squad this week just in case they need more depth.

Downing: You seem to be glossing over veteran Devonta Freeman in this mix. Freeman was the best back of the group Sunday against the Chargers, carrying nine times for 53 yards and a touchdown. The previous week against the Colts, he provided a nice jolt as a pass catcher, bringing down three receptions for 34 yards. Freeman, Le'Veon Bell and Latavius Murray all found the end zone last week, but Freeman looks to have the most juice of the group.

Now a big note this week is that Murray is dealing with a sprained ankle and his status is up in the air. If he's unable to play, then I'd expect Ty'Son Williams to return to the rotation, along with Bell and Freeman. The Ravens have said all along this season that they plan to use a backfield-by-committee approach, so don't expect one of these backs to suddenly get a 70-80 percent of the workload.

Mink: Keeping a cap on Ja'Marr Chase and the Bengals' big passing plays will be a high priority this week on defense. Joe Burrow's four touchdown passes of at least 30 yards is tops in the NFL so far this season, and all of them have been to Chase.

I expect Defensive Coordinator Wink Martindale will mix up the plan during the game to keep the rookie wide receiver and second-year quarterback on their toes. The Ravens have the speed at cornerback with Marlon Humphrey and Anthony Averett, but they could also get safety help over the top.

But, yes, I expect Martindale to also bring some major heat. The Ravens sacked Burrow a whopping seven times in his M&T Bank Stadium debut last year. He fumbled twice. The Bengals' offensive line is still their soft spot.

Downing: I'm sure not putting a limit on this team. Could they win it all? Absolutely. They have a quarterback playing like an MVP and a defense that reminded everyone on Sunday just how good they can be.

The other factor that can't be overlooked with this team is the resiliency. They've had so many talented players go on injured reserve, but they haven't allowed that to put them off-course. They've proven they can win close games in tough circumstances, and they've already beaten two of the best teams in the conference in the Chiefs and Chargers. The Ravens may be the best team in the league this year, but they're focused on taking a one-game-at-a-time approach that Head Coach John Harbaugh preaches.

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