Until Marlon Humphrey returns from foot surgery, the Ravens will have to cope without one of the best cornerbacks in the NFL.
It's not an ideal scenario, but the Ravens will not lower expectations for their defense despite their injuries at cornerback.
"It's the hand that we've been dealt," Defensive Coordinator Mike Macdonald said. "We've got to take it head on and we're rolling. If you have a different approach, all you're doing is wasting time."
Hours after Macdonald spoke Thursday, the Ravens inked veteran cornerback Ronald Darby to a one-year deal. Darby could step into a starting spot, but he'll have to play catch up with less than a month until the start of the regular season. Humphrey is not a player that's easily replaced.
"It's an opportunity to give a shoutout to Marlon and things that he's done for our defense and our team," Macdonald said. "You're talking about a guy that's been here in the offseason, has taken on a leadership role, he's out there every day, practices extremely hard, he practices the right way. We'll miss him absolutely, but we do have good players in our back end. The expectation is to come in and produce and execute and play the way that we play."
Even before Humphrey's surgery, the Ravens were being hit with injuries at cornerback. Pepe Williams will be sidelined until October following ankle surgery and Trayvon Mullen may miss the entire season following toe surgery. Jalyn Armour-Davis was back on the field for Thursday's walkthrough and joined Kevon Seymour, Ar'Darius Washington and Brandon Stephens taking the lion's share of reps at cornerback. Rock Ya-Sin and Arthur Maulet remained sidelined, while Jordan Swann did not practice.
"If they need me to start and step up, I can do it," Seymour said. "We have a lot of talented guys in the room that can step up and get the job done. We're not worried about it. We're stacked. Whether we're getting credit or not, we don't worry about it. We strive to be the best."
Kyle Hamilton's Ability to Play Slot Cornerback Could Be Utilized
Second-year safety Kyle Hamilton played significant snaps as a slot cornerback last season when Marcus Williams and Chuck Clark started at safety. Hamilton and Williams are the starting safeties heading into this season, but with the injuries at cornerback, Hamilton's ability to play slot corner could be utilized again.
"With Kyle, it's a function of how much we want to move him around on a per-play basis," Macdonald said. "It's not easy going from one position to another. Whoever fills in for his role – if and when we do move him – that's something else that we're considering. So, it's not just Kyle that we're considering when you talk about moving him."
Geno Stone and Daryl Worley are experienced safeties who can step in if Hamilton slides into the slot, and Stephens can play both safety and cornerback. The versatility of Baltimore's secondary gives Macdonald plenty of options.
"I'm sure they'll be pieces moving between now and when we kick off," Macdonald said. "I think right now we're just trying to figure out where to put all the spots. It will come into clear focus as the season approaches."
Todd Monken Explains Why He Calls Plays From Upstairs
Some coaches prefer calling plays from the sidelines, others prefer going upstairs, and many coaches have tried both locations. However, Offensive Coordinator Todd Monken firmly prefers calling plays from the booth.
"Much easier to spread out. Much easier to stay calm," Monken said. "The emotional side of it is much easier, because at the moment you feel like if you scream, no one's right there although you think they can hear you through the glass.
"The reality is it allows you to stay a lot more calm, focused. I'm human. It doesn't mean I don't get frustrated or I don't make mistakes. But I can see it better."
Zay Flowers Already Has Elite Quickness As He Develops Other Parts of His Game
The quickness of first-round wide receiver Zay Flowers has given defenders fits since he was drafted. It began at rookie minicamp and continued during mandatory minicamp and training camp.
Now opponents are seeing it firsthand. Flowers had a sweet juke move that left an Eagles defender gasping for air in the preseason opener.
Then during two days of joint practices against the Commanders, Flowers consistently put Washington's defensive backs on skates.
Flowers' quickness is something that Monken doesn't have to coach up. However, the Ravens are working with Flowers on other parts of his game in hopes of making him an even more dangerous weapon in his rookie season and beyond.
"Usually, a player's elite skillset shows up," Monken said. "The ability to stop on a dime and make people miss – you'll see that show up. "That is obviously a strength of his. Now, we're working to refine some of the other things that will make him a complete player."