With the Ravens heading into regular season mode next week, it's time to sort out some of the lingering issues.
Here's fact or fiction before the Ravens' 2022 season kicks off in eight days:
Fact: The Ravens need Ronnie Stanley back ASAP.
The Ravens are in much better position than last season with Ja'Wuan James ready to play left tackle if needed. But Stanley is still an essential cog for this offense to reach its potential. Stanley's progress is still the single most-important on-field matter as the season approaches.
Fiction: There's no way Stanley plays Week 1.
Stanley is not back on the field yet and won't be until game week. Considering John Harbaugh wanted three weeks of practice before game action, less than one week is not ideal. But this comes down to Stanley. If he feels good enough, he's already received the medical thumbs up.
Fact: The Ravens need more outside linebackers.
Harbaugh said Baltimore has more options than meets the eye at outside linebacker and Steven Means could be elevated early in the season, but I'm not ruling out an outside addition. Baltimore doesn't want to wear down Justin Houston or Odafe Oweh until Tyus Bowser and David Ojabo are back.
Fiction: J.K. Dobbins is limping around practice.
Don’t worry J.K., I got this one. Dobbins looks significantly better in practice now than he did when he stepped back on the field on Aug. 8. It's still unknown whether Dobbins will be ready for Week 1, but he's more explosive and you know he'll be pushing to play.
Fact: Baltimore will get more turnovers.
The Ravens' last place ranking in pass defense has been countlessly regurgitated but the lack of takeaways (only two teams had fewer) was also a major problem. Marcus Peters' return and the Marcus Williams and Kyle Hamilton additions should solve that. Bonus: more turnovers also boost the offense.
Fiction: The offense is going back to 2019.
We'd all love to relive the 2019 offense again with MVP Lamar Jackson and a record-setting rushing attack. It ain't happening. The Ravens will be more in that direction this year than last, but Baltimore won't rank last in passing attempts like it did then. The passing game has advanced.
Fact: The offense can still be revolutionary.
The Ravens had a "revolutionary" running game in 2019. Greg Roman's 2022 offense could also make history in how much it uses multiple tight ends. Mark Andrews is the workhorse, Isaiah Likely will have a big role and keeping Josh Oliver signals the waves of tight ends will keep coming.
Fiction: Sitting the starters in the preseason will lead to a slower start.
There is minimal benefit to most starters playing in the preseason. Would one series lead to a hotter start two weeks later? No way. The risk wasn't worth it. Pat Ricard said on "The Lounge" podcast that practices weren't all that different this year. The Ravens are in game shape.
Fact: The offseason rehab and recovery changes worked.
The Ravens put a ton of time and research into their rehab/recovery and injury prevention strategy. Baltimore suffered one season-ending injury (Vince Biegel) and enters the regular season pretty healthy with only a handful of players sidelined for Wednesday's practice. Keep your fingers crossed, but mission accomplished so far.