Mailbag: What Should We Expect from Yannick Ngakoue in His First Game?

DE Yannick Ngakoue

Downing: The arrival of pass rusher Yannick Ngakoue dominated the conversation in this week's Mailbag, and for good reason. He's a Pro Bowler with a proven track record of getting after the quarterback, and he's poised to help make the Ravens' top-ranked defense even better. I don't expect Ngakoue to need long before making an impact. Yes, he's changing teams and learning a new defense, but we've seen other players make quick transitions to this Ravens defense (anyone remember that pick-six Marcus Peters had against Seattle last year a few days after getting traded?). The timing of the trade was also good of Ngakoue, as he's had five days to dive into the playbook before stepping onto the practice field. The Ravens could also help ease the transition process by initially using him in limited pass-rush packages. His best trait is getting after the quarterback, and he knows how to do that regardless of the scheme.

In terms of having the best defense, the Ravens have allowed the fewest points per game in the NFL (17.3). They are allowing 339.8 yards per game, which ranks ninth-best in the NFL, and this week they'll face off with a Steelers defense that has allowed the fewest yards per game (286.3) in the league. Both teams believe they have the NFL's best defense, and we'll see who comes out of Sunday's game with bragging rights.

Mink: I don't think the Ravens signed Dez Bryant to their practice squad just to have him be on the scout team the rest of the season. I think they envision him playing in games

However, whether he'll be up to speed enough with the offensive playbook by Sunday is a real question. That's a tall task. For now, the Ravens get to work Bryant into the fold without having to take up a 53-man roster spot. Let's also all remember that he hasn't suited up for a game since 2017 and the first time he practiced in 2018, he suffered a torn Achilles. The Ravens must have liked what they saw from him in his workout to sign him, but there may be some rust to knock off before he's ready to play in a game.

Mink: Your feelings are justified. The Ravens definitely do miss Marshal Yanda, and Head Coach John Harbaugh was forthright last week in saying so. The guy should be a future Hall of Famer and he was still playing at that level when he retired. I really wish he had stuck around for one more. I don't think the Ravens are going to make any other big move to add a guard. My expectation is that they will continue with the group they have of rookie Tyre Phillips, Patrick Mekhari and Ben Powers with the expectation that the youngsters will all continue to improve with more reps. The offensive line isn't as dominant as it was a year ago with Yanda, but I think it's held its own or better in most games this season.

Downing: I wouldn't rule out another trade. General Manager Eric DeCosta has proven that he's going to look for every possible way to upgrade this team, and he's not afraid to pull off big-ticket trades. The Ravens have acquired more talent via trade in the last year – Ngakoue, Peters and Calais Campbell – than any team in the NFL. When the Ravens announced the trade for Ngakoue, DeCosta said in a statement that the Ravens weren't done building the roster, so it's safe to say he's exploring all options to improve this team. In terms of the position the Ravens would look to add via trade, tight end, wide receiver and offensive line all come to mind. I'd be surprised if the Ravens are able to bring in another Pro Bowler via trade, but we should all know by now that DeCosta often has tricks up his sleeve.

Mink: Today will be a big day to see how much Mark Ingram II practices, as I expect the decision on whether he plays or not will go down to the wire. But there's no doubt the Ravens are stronger at running back this year if he can't play than they were last year. Rookie J.K. Dobbins continues to look like a guy who is on the verge of a big game, and I wouldn't be surprised if he took the majority of the reps if Ingram weren't able to play. With that said, Gus Edwards has been steady as a rock (as always) and is certainly capable of shouldering the load if needed.

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