Lamar Jackson (back) missed his second straight practice Thursday, although Offensive Coordinator Greg Roman said he did not think the injury was serious.
"You saw the injury report, he's dealing with a little back flareup," Roman said. "I don't think it's anything serious. Kind of wait and see. I think he's going to be in good shape but we'll wait and see."
Jackson has been extremely durable during his career, and he's off to a terrific start, leading the Ravens (2-1) to back-to-back comeback wins. Jackson leads the NFL in average distance of target (12.3) yards, pushing the ball downfield like never before, and he could have topped 400 yards passing in Week 3.
Considering how well Jackson is playing, and how familiar he is with the Ravens' system, Roman believes the 2019 MVP will adjust well to missing practice time this week, even though it's not the ideal situation heading into Sunday's game against the unbeaten Denver Broncos (3-0).
"We definitely want him and everybody out for every practice. Period, next paragraph," Roman said.
"When they're not, you adjust accordingly. Thankfully we've been in this system going into three years now. With Lamar, it's a little bit different than a guy who just got here."
Bateman and Boykin Will Add Diversity to Offense
Rashod Bateman (groin) and Miles Boykin (hamstring) have missed the first three games, but they have returned to practice this week and could possibly be activated for Week 4.
It's often difficult for rookie receivers to make an immediate impact after an injury in training camp, but the Ravens' first-round pick was a playmaker this summer whenever he was on the field. His addition to the receiver group would give opponents another dangerous weapon to defend.
"It certainly gives us opportunities to basically just take Rashod's ability and put it to use" Roman said. "So, we'll see how that goes. Certainly, yesterday was his first day back, and we're excited about that. From what we've seen, I think good things are going to happen there."
Boykin's superb blocking from the wide receiver position makes him a valuable asset to the Ravens, who have the league's premier rushing attack. Roman believes Boykin could also has the potential to have more impact in the passing game once he returns.
"Miles I think is probably one of the more physical blockers in the league," Roman said. "Really top five, maybe top three if you're really honest with yourself when you watch the film.
"He's a big target going across the middle. You remember the Dallas game last year, he caught that 50-yard touchdown pass. He's lights-out as a blocker, big target, dominating blocker really. That's a good combination."
Running Back Rotation Is Evolving
Ty'Son Williams (27 carries, 164 yards) and Latavius Murray (26 carries, 92 yards) have almost the same number of carries this season, with Devonta Freeman (five carries, 37 yards) getting limited opportunities and Le'Veon Bell yet to be activated. However, the running back rotation is still evolving,[comma] according to Roman.
"We're just starting to get a feel for our backs really," Roman said. "They've all kind of been learning our system. We like what we see with all of them. We want to keep them fresh and ready to roll. Whoever's got the hot hand."
Williams is averaging 6.1 yards per carry, leading some pundits to question why he has not gotten more carries. He had just five in Detroit. However, Roman said it's not as simple as looking at stats when deciding how the backs will be rotated. Many factors are evaluated.
"Sometimes stats can be misleading," Roman said. "Some guys get the short straw and some guys get the long straw. I don't really look at stats; I look at everything. If I'm running the ball and it's a hole that's wide open, you and I could run through it. But what do you do if that isn't the case? You take the whole picture into account. But we're excited about those guys, how they're going to evolve this year."
Murray, Freeman and Bell were not in training camp with the Ravens, acquired after season-ending injuries to J.K. Dobbins, Gus Edwards and Justice Hill. Murray and Freeman were in training camp with the New Orleans Saints before they were released, so they were in game shape and ready to roll. Bell, however, was not in anyone's camp before he signed, but Roman said Bell's conditioning has improved and he could become a factor for the Ravens this season.
"He's had some time now to kind of get in shape," Roman said. "I think he's got a really good enthusiasm, he's a smart guy. It will be interesting to see how he can help us. So far I've been very impressed with him. You can see why he's been so successful. Hopefully he can add something to us at some point this year.
"We're getting a feel for the new guys as we go. Hopefully we can develop a real good sense of what they do well and where they flourish. I think that's a process. It doesn't just happen overnight."
Von Miller Is Back to Being a Game Wrecker
With four sacks and six tackles for loss in three games, Broncos pass rusher Von Miller was named the AFC Defensive Player of the Month and blocking him will be a huge challenge for Baltimore.
Ravens tackles Alejandro Villanueva and Patrick Mekari will be tasked with keeping Miller from roaring off the edge into the Ravens' backfield. Any play that Roman calls will factor Miller's presence into the equation.
"He looks as good as he's ever looked right now," Roman said. "The fountain of youth has been kind to him. Do you run at him? Do you run away from him? Do you do this, do that? He's a very instinctive player."
The Ravens' unique offense can slow down a pass rusher, due to Jackson's ability as a runner and some of the misdirection in Baltimore's running schemes. However, fooling Miller is not easy due to his experience.
"He can smell a rat pretty quick," Roman said. "It's not his first rodeo. He's a real challenge, as everybody who plays them knows."