Jaylon Ferguson Had His Best Two Practices Last Week
The pressure was on Jaylon Ferguson to step up in his third season when the Ravens entered training camp. Then Baltimore signed veteran Justin Houston, putting Ferguson's roster spot further in question.
However, over the past two preseason games and in practice, Ferguson has stepped up at the right time, standing out for his hustle and improved technique.
Defensive Coordinator Wink Martindale said Ferguson was being held by the Panthers' offensive tackles, but that Ferguson was still "rushing really well."
"I said last week, in front of the whole defense – I said – 'You just had your two best practices as a Raven,'" Martindale said Wednesday. "And he just keeps building on it, so we're expecting him to flourish again, in his role."
It remains to be seen whether Ferguson will make the 53-man roster – the Ravens would probably have to keep six outside linebackers to do so – but it sure sounds like Martindale will be a strong yes vote.
"I think he knows that this year is important for him. The thing that impresses me is how he hasn't changed, personality-wise. It's not like he's walking around with the pressure of the world on his shoulders," Martindale said.
"What he's done is, he's come to practice, and he's come to these games and these situations, and he's played with the confidence that we all have in him, and he's played with a lot better hand placement."
Greg Roman Is Eager for Wide Receivers to Return
Lamar Jackson isn't worried about the absence of his top receivers from practice and Offensive Coordinator Greg Roman is pushing forward as well.
"The train never stops for anybody – it just doesn't. It never does," Roman said, borrowing the same phrasing he used when Jackson missed the first 10 days of training camp with COVID-19.
At the same time, Roman stressed how important it is for the receivers – Marquise "Hollywood" Brown, Sammy Watkins, Rashod Bateman and Miles Boykin – to get on the field.
"We have to get these guys back out there. It's very important that we start building some real-time chemistry and timing," Roman said.
"The situation is the situation. You have to adapt, adjust, do the best you can and evolve as you go. The sooner we can get them out there [at] 100%, the better, so we can get some real quality work, timing and chemistry."
Ben Powers Is Taking Advantage of the Extra Reps
While much of the focus at this point is on who will claim the last few roster spots, there's still a starting job up for grabs at left guard.
Rookie third-round pick Ben Cleveland (concussion) returned to practice Monday, but his absence gave Ben Powers more reps in practice and the preseason game in Carolina. Powers started the final seven regular-season games and both playoff games last season.
"Ben is doing a nice job. I thought he had a good game the other night," Roman said. "Ben is a tough guy. [He is] really, really dialed in. He's more experienced now, so I think he's improving and doing well. Right now, I think he's taking advantage of the opportunity bestowed upon him."
Martindale Expects to See More Screens and Reverses This Year
The Ravens have so much speed on defense that even defensive tackle Justin Madubuike is standing out for his wheels.
Madubuike chased down a quarterback bootleg in the Carolina game so quickly that he was outrunning one of his fellow linebackers.
"I'm glad you didn't name the linebacker," Martindale said with a laugh. "Trust me, on the tape, I did.
"[Madubuike is] rolling. He's getting ready for the season to start, and [if] everybody has that mindset, you're going to have a really good defense. … I'm really excited for Justin [Madubuike]. He needs to keep working on execution of the defense and things like that, and he'll be a dominant force."
One thing is for sure. Martindale knows his defense will be flying around the field.
"I'll you this now; we're going to see more screens, reverses and all those kinds of things, because everybody sees how fast our defense is," he said.
The Kansas City Chiefs were particularly successful against Baltimore using screens in their regular-season win last year. But with Madubuike chasing down plays and Patrick Queen looking faster than ever, opponents may not find to too much success when they try to throw the Ravens off-balance either.
Will the Ravens See Teddy Bridgewater in Week 4?
Denver Broncos Head Coach Vic Fangio announced Wednesday that Teddy Bridgewater will be the team's starting quarterback to kick off the year, beating out incumbent Drew Lock.
The Ravens play in Denver in Week 4 (Oct. 3). Whether Bridgewater is still the starter at that point remains to be seen, but it's his job to lose.
Baltimore has never faced Bridgewater or Lock in a regular-season game.