News & Notes 8/28: Winning in the Preseason Matters to 12-0 Ravens

The Ravens are on the verge of a third-straight undefeated preseason.

Baltimore has not dropped a preseason game since Sept. 3, 2015 in Atlanta. The Ravens have rattled off 12-straight wins in the summer exhibition contests, and Head Coach John Harbaugh did his best Herman Edwards impression when asked about the current streak.

“You play the game to win,” Harbaugh said. “I don’t care where you play, when you play. There’s a scoreboard up there and you keep score. We’re trying to win the game. But we’re trying to win the game within certain parameters. We’re trying to stay healthy. We’re trying to get guys what they need to get ready for the regular season.”

Baltimore’s preseason success has come without any additional emphasis on winning these games. The Ravens aren’t playing their starters any more than other teams – they didn’t play many veterans last week against Miami, while the Dolphins did play their starters – and they don’t gameplan specifically for the preseason contests.

But they’ve still had success, and Harbaugh is pleased with the development he’s seen in the young players understanding the type of football the Ravens want to play.”

“I was really proud of the way the guys played, in the second half especially, it was Ravens football,” he said.

Robert Griffin III Says Lamar Jackson Will Learn To Protect Himself

Nobody knows the importance of protecting yourself on the football field better than Robert Griffin III.

Griffin had his darling rookie season derailed by a knee injury in 2012 suffered on a hit from Ravens defensive tackle Haloti Ngata. Griffin then dealt with a handful of other injuries throughout his career, and that injury history led to him spending last season out of football.

Griffin has taken it upon himself to serve as a mentor for Baltimore’s fellow Heisman Trophy winner Lamar Jackson, and he talked about advising the rookie on the importance of protecting himself when he’s running. 

“Lamar is a grown man and he’s going to do what he feels like he can do,” Griffin said. “The second part of that is I do have a lot of experience in this league and we have a similar skillset, and I try to get in his ear as often as I possibly can on some of those things.”

Jackson could juke and outrun just about everybody at the college level, but Griffin knows that approach doesn’t work quite as well in the NFL. The coaching staff has talked with Jackson about sliding or getting out of bounds when he scrambles, and Griffin is a good voice to help deliver that message.

“I think coming from me, he definitely hears it a little bit more. And there are going to be opportunities where he gets out of something that you don’t think he can get out of, and you don’t want to take that ability from him,” Griffin said. “It is a 16-game season. Those hits do pile up. And he’ll learn. He’ll learn to protect himself. That is something that he will have to master on his own, just like I did.”

Maxx Williams Not Dwelling on Hurst Injury 

The Ravens’ passing game received a big blow last week when rookie first-round pick Hayden Hurst was lost for three-to-four weeks because of a stress facture in his foot. The injury means the Ravens will turn to Nick Boyle and Maxx Williams to take on a larger share of the receiving duties early in the year.

“We still have a job to do,” Williams said. “We still have to play this week. We still have to go play Buffalo and Cincinnati. You can dwell on him being hurt – we’re going to pray for him – but we still have to go out there and perform and do our jobs no matter what.” 

Williams was drafted as a big, talented receiving tight end out of Minnesota who could also block. He posted 61 catches for 986 yards and 13 touchdowns in two seasons as a Gopher.

In his rookie NFL season, he again had a big-time receiving role. Williams set the Ravens’ franchise receiving record for a rookie tight end with 32 catches for 268 yards – surpassing Todd Heap.

But all that momentum changed in Williams’ second season when he underwent a rare knee surgery that, according to his doctors, no NFL player had ever come back from. After missing 12 games in 2016, Williams returned last year, but was a different player.

In 11 games and eight starts, Williams posted just 15 catches for 86 yards. He scored one touchdown. Williams was never a total speedster, but the knee injury forced him to change his game last year. Instead of being a pass-catcher, he was relied on for his blocking most of all.

As he enters his fourth season, Williams feels more like himself again as he’s another year removed from the complicated surgery.

“I just have a lot more confidence in my knee,” he said. “Last year, coming off the injury right before camp, I was a little hesitant because I didn’t really trust myself yet. I didn’t trust my knee.

“I feel like that’s all in my past, so it’s time to storm forward and get ready for this season.”

Rookie Greg Senat Has Turf Toe 

Rookie offensive lineman Greg Senat could be headed to injured reserve. Senat is dealing with turf toe, Harbaugh said, and he will be out “a while.”

“We’ll just have to play that one by ear and Ozzie will have to decide how he wants to handle that going into the 53-man roster,” Harbaugh said.

Senat posted a photo on Instagram of him wearing a walking boot, and Harbaugh plans to remind the rookie about keeping injury news off social media.

“He’ll be disciplined for that,” Harbaugh said. “I’ll make sure that we take care of that. Obviously he doesn’t know any better at this point in time. When the regular season starts, we won’t be doing any of that.”

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