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News & Notes: Calais Campbell Is Off to a Strong Start

DE Calais Campbell
DE Calais Campbell

Calais Campbell earned a game ball after Sunday's victory in Denver, but he's been balling out all season.

With a season-high five tackles and three quarterback hits sacks, Campbell had an impressive homecoming in the city where he grew up. The performance made him the Ravens' highest-graded player (90.0) in Week 4 according to Pro Football Focus.

Campbell is also the Ravens' highest-graded player, at any position, through the first four weeks of the season.

Campbell remains a pillar on the defensive line at age 35, an impactful player as both a run stuffer and pass rusher. It's possible that this could be Campbell’s final season and he's making a statement that he's as good as ever.

With Derek Wolfe (back/hip) on the injured list and unable to play yet this season, Campbell has been a rock regardless of what's going on around him. He was also superb Week 4 against the Detroit Lions, playing a season-high 75 percent of the defensive snaps when Justin Madubuike, Justin Houston, Pernell McPhee and Jaylon Ferguson missed the game on the Reserve/COVID-19 list.

In addition to Campbell's superb conditioning, Defensive Coordinator Wink Martindale thinks the veteran has found an increased comfort level playing his second season in Baltimore's system.

"What he did was come in bigger and stronger this year," Martindale said. "It took him a year to see exactly where he was going to fit in our defense. I think he had a great offseason, [which] is why he's having the success he is now. It's great to see."

Campbell said back in training camp that he was already in game shape to start the season. That has been reflected in his play, and he doesn't feel himself wearing down so far.

"I feel pretty good right now," Campbell said last week. "It's football season, so things hurt. But for the most part, I know that in Year 14, I have to be smart, and I have to pace myself, because this is a long season, and to where we want to go, it's going to be a process. But I also know that I want to be out there, I want to get a feel for the game and be the best version of myself.

Left Guard Rotation Is Working

Baltimore has a two-man tag team playing left guard and it's been working.

Ben Powers has been the starting left guard since Week 2, sharing reps with rookie Ben Cleveland in two-man rotation. Powers has played at least 50 percent of the offensive snaps during the past three games, while Cleveland has played at least 40 percent.

Offensive Coordinator Greg Roman likes how things have played out, giving the rookie Cleveland a chance to gain experience while keeping Powers fresh.

"I don't mind playing two guys at all," Roman said. "When I was here a long time ago, Ben Grubbs and Marshal Yanda rotated early on. I think it's an opportunity for Ben Cleveland to get experience but not have to play every play. For the other Ben, he plays really hard and it gives him a chance to catch his breath. We're getting one-and-a-half out of one there. We'll continue to do that and we're always ready to adjust."

Madubuike's Role Could Increase

Justin Madubuike was Baltimore's most impressive defensive player during training camp, and he is carrying that momentum into the regular season. He notched his first sack of the season in Denver, one of his two quarterback hits that gave Baltimore a pass-rushing presence up the middle.

The Ravens believe the second-year defensive lineman could become a star, and Defensive Coordinator Wink Martindale is not backing off that assessment. Martindale gave props to Run Game Coordinator/Defensive Line Coach Anthony Weaver for helping with Madubuike's development.

"He's right on schedule," Martindale said. "He's been playing more on first and second down in the first four games, but he's going to expand his role. He just keeps playing and he plays hard. I think it's a really good marriage between him and Weav. I think he's really helped him in the run game and also rushing the passer."

Horton Discusses Strange Double Punt on Thursday Night Football

People woke up Friday morning still discussing the strange play on Thursday Night Football, when Michael Dickson of the Seattle Seahawks punted twice on the same play.

After having his first attempt blocked, Dickson alertly recovered the football with a nifty scoop and punted again to save Seahawks from a huge loss on the play.

Though he was sleeping when it happened in real time, the play got the attention of Special Teams Coordinator Chris Horton Friday morning.

"Never seen that happen before," Horton said. "I thought it was a really good play by the punter, just being able to pick that ball up, spin it running and get it off like that. Didn't really know the rule at the time. I studied it. That was a perfectly legal play. You can have two kicks on the same play."

Not that Horton is eager to see punter Sam Koch pull off a similar play.

"Hopefully we're never in those situations. Protect the punt," Horton said. "We'll watch the play as a unit because I think we can learn from that. The bigger issue will be, how did the punt get blocked? That's what we're going to be focused on, not the double kicks."

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