Earl Thomas didn’t mince words when he talked about why he was brought to Baltimore.
“To create turnovers,” Thomas said. “I’m looking for my opportunities.”
The hunt begins Sunday in Miami, where the Ravens will face veteran Dolphins quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick, a “swashbuckler” known for giving his opponents some chances.
Fitzpatrick started last season hot with eight touchdowns to just one interception in the first two weeks with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. He threw for more than 400 yards in each game.
But Week 3 against the Steelers was a different story, as Fitzpatrick threw three interceptions in the second quarter alone – on three straight drives. He was yanked as the Bucs’ starter after he compiled five interceptions and no touchdowns in back-to-back games.
Asked for what goes through his mind when he thinks about Fitzpatrick, Thomas said, “streaky.”
“He can get hot, and it can go the other way for him,” Thomas said. “We definitely want to make it hard on him.”
The Ravens defense finished last season ranked No. 1 in the NFL, but the one area for improvement was in turnovers. Only 10 teams had fewer interceptions than the Ravens’ 12. The expectation is that Thomas should boost that number.
Thomas got off to a hot start last season with his former team in Seattle. The Ravens’ high-profile free-agent addition had an interception in last year’s season-opener, then snared two more interceptions in Week 3 before breaking his leg in Week 4.
This offseason has been a learning process for Thomas as he’s switched to a more complex, communication-driven system under Wink Martindale. While the communication is still getting better every day, Thomas said, he feels comfortable with where he’s at.
Now it’s time to see how good he looks in a real game. Count Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson, who has practiced against Thomas for the past several months, as one player who can’t wait.
“It’s like he’s everywhere back there, like he’s just freelancing, man,” Jackson said. “I could be looking one way, he comes back, and he’s right in my face. I’m like, ‘Bro!’ I just can’t wait to see him out there performing live. Let him go after other quarterbacks instead of me.”
Robert Griffin III Feels Ready to Step in If Needed
Despite fracturing a bone in his throwing hand early in training camp, Robert Griffin III didn’t miss a single practice. He would still suit up, still take reps. It’s just that he didn’t actually throw a football and he took the rep well behind the play.
Now that he’s back to practicing normally and cleared to play in Sunday’s game, Griffin said he believes those reps versus air were critical to being ready for Miami.
“I knew that if I didn’t go through camp and wasn’t staying mentally engaged and doing things, then it would be difficult to come back and be on my A-game first game if I have to go out there. Having done all that, I think I’ll be ready to roll,” Griffin said.
Rookie sixth-round pick Trace McSorley flourished in Griffin’s place this preseason, but it’s expected that the veteran will step back into the Ravens’ No. 2 spot and be called upon if anything were to happen to Jackson.
“I’m a seven-year vet, so I think I’ve earned the right to have that trust and know that I’ll be ready to go,” Griffin said.
Marshal Yanda: Offensive Line Will Roll With Whomever
While there’s a lot of consternation about who the Ravens’ starting left guard will be for Week 1, 12-year veteran Marshal Yanda has seen this situation plenty of times before.
There is often a spot on the offensive line that isn’t set in stone, and that’s the case this year as Bradley Bozeman, James Hurst, and rookies Ben Powers and Patrick Mekari all appear to be possibilities for the starting job.
“Whatever guy they go with, they’ve had a good amount of reps there and we’re going to roll with the guy they put in there,” Yanda said, saying he trusts the coaches to pick the right guy. “We understand that it’s part of the process.”
Tavon Young’s Surgery Isn’t a Done Deal Yet
Cornerback Tavon Young’s 2019 season officially ended when he was put on injured reserve Saturday, but the treatment for his neck isn’t yet fully determined.
Head Coach John Harbaugh said he wasn’t involved in the specific conversations about whether to place Young on IR, but it was a medical decision in the end.
“I know that the medical people were heavily involved in it with Tavon and his people,” Harbaugh said.
Harbaugh said Young will be back next year, “stronger than ever,” but said he didn’t know yet whether Young will go under the knife.
“I don’t think it means that for sure,” Harbaugh said. “It just depends on how the process goes with his healing.”