The Ravens have a lot of tough decisions ahead when crafting their 53-man roster, and one of the longest conversations may be at wide receiver.
The options lessened Monday morning when fourth-round rookie wide receiver Jaleel Scott was placed on injured reserve with a hamstring injury. However, there is still one or two wide receiver roster spots up for grabs and a lot of intriguing players in the mix, including Breshad Perriman, Tim White and rookies Jordan Lasley and Janarion Grant.
Head Coach John Harbaugh said last week that he was looking for somebody to make the plays to emerge from the pack. On Saturday, a pair of young wideouts did.
“I thought those two guys in particular – Tim and Jordan – did very well,” Harbaugh said. “And not just those two guys.”
White caught three passes for a team-high 70 yards, including a pretty catch and run of 33 yards when he was crafty in getting open for Lamar Jackson as the quarterback scrambled to his left.
Lasley caught three passes for 30 yards. He nearly scored but stepped out of bounds as he dove for the pylon on a 9-yard gain.
White is also a prime contender for the Ravens’ returner job, where he sits atop the depth chart. However, it was Grant who got the longest look Saturday night in Miami with four punt returns and three kickoff returns. Grant averaged nine yards per punt return and 22 yards per kickoff.
Overall, Harbaugh was pleased with the way the Baltimore’s young players rose to the occasion in Miami. The Ravens outscored the Dolphins, 24-0, in the second half.
“Our team wanted to be there. Our team wanted to play in the second half,” Harbaugh said. “A bunch of young guys wanted to make the team, and they responded in a way to give themselves a chance to make the team, which is what’s going to make these decisions so difficult.”
Nick Boyle Has Confidence in Tight Ends Without Hayden Hurst
Just as first-round tight end Hayden Hurst was starting to take off, a stress fracture in his foot has sidelined him for the next three to four weeks.
It looked like Hurst was going to have a major role in Baltimore’s passing game, but now other tight ends will have to pick up the slack. While Maxx Williams and rookie Mark Andrews could have more on their plate, Nick Boyle still sits atop the tight end depth chart.
“It stinks losing Hayden, especially with him being a rookie. He was getting better every single day and it’s awesome to see a player like that,” Boyle said.
“But we have confidence in our tight end group. We still have a lot of guys and guys that do a lot of good things in different parts of the game.”
An 11-game starter last season, Boyle caught a career-high 28 passes for 203 yards. The 6-foot-4, 270 pounder’s strength is still blocking, but he’s shown throughout the preseason and training camp that he can be a viable receiver as well. Entering his fourth season, Boyle’s looking to score his first NFL touchdown.
“I may not be the fastest guy, but a lot of it is finding ways to get yourself open with technique,” Boyle said. “I think with practice and every rep, I try to improve and get better on it.”
Rookie Center Bradley Bozeman Is Competing for a Backup Spot
It appears Matt Skura has claimed the starting center spot on the Ravens’ offensive line, as Harbaugh made clear Monday that rookie center Bradley Bozeman is competing for a roster spot.
A sixth-round pick out of Alabama and two-time college football national champion, Bozeman has had a “really good camp,” Harbaugh said, and can play guard in a pinch if needed.
“He’s a very steady player, knows what he’s doing. Still a rookie, makes his fair share of mistakes,” Harbaugh said. “He’s not competing for the starting job like some speculated, but he is competing for a spot on the team.”
The Ravens don’t have another true center on the roster other than Skura and Bozeman. Alex Lewis has been at left guard throughout the summer after having some offseason practices at center and Nico Siragusa could also step in if needed. Skura has played well thus far in taking over for departed free agent Ryan Jensen.
Lamar Jackson Took a ‘Big Jump’ in His Fourth Game
Jackson’s quarterback rating has improved every preseason game thus far – going from 42.9 in the Hall of Fame game to 62.0 against the Rams, then 76.8 in Indianapolis and 134.6 in Miami.
It was a banner night for the rookie as he was 7-of-10 for 98 yards and a passing touchdown, and ran for 39 yards and another score in the second half against the Dolphins.
After the game, Harbaugh said it was his breaking out in a game, and he explained that further Monday.
“That’s what he’s been doing in practice, so to see him carry it over to the game, that’s a big step – especially at that position,” Harbaugh said.
“Sometimes, practice is practice and taking the next step and carrying things to the game is a big challenge. He’s gotten better every single game, but that was a big jump, I thought. … He’ll keep trying to improve himself a little bit every day, and when he gets his chance, I’m very confident that he’ll make plays.”