Rookie first-round wide receiver Marquise “Hollywood” Brown is cleared for showtime. Head Coach John Harbaugh said Monday that Brown is “full-go” heading into the regular-season opener Sunday in Miami.
Brown made his training camp debut on July 31, about a week into training camp. The Ravens had a specific plan for how he would ramp up his action, taking it slow after his January foot surgery.
Brown sat out the first two preseason games, then suited up for the second two. He caught three passes for 17 yards in Philadelphia – showing great burst and impressive hands – but played just on special teams (punt returner) in the preseason finale in Washington.
While Brown is physically 100 percent, he’s obviously behind his peers in terms of experience. Fellow third-round rookie Miles Boykin, for example, has had many more practice and preseason game reps with quarterback Lamar Jackson.
Thus, there could still be a process of easing Brown into a full workload as the season starts. But don’t mistake that for an inability to change a game in a flash.
“As a rookie, he hasn’t had a lot of reps,” Harbaugh said. “So he’ll have to get up to speed quickly. We’ll have to be vigilant in what we ask him to do well – things that he can do well. It will be a challenge for them too to cover him. He’s really fast and he’s got great hands. So that’s the challenge the other way.”
Harbaugh said his expectation is that backup quarterback Robert Griffin III has also been cleared to play in Sunday’s game after suffering a hand injury early in training camp.
On the flip side, Harbaugh said a knee fracture suffered in the preseason finale is what sent running back Kenneth Dixon to injured reserve.
“That’s not to say he would have necessarily made the team,” Harbaugh said. “It would have been based on how he played. He’s on IR. He’ll be released injured, so Kenny will be moving on.”
Harbaugh Has His Starting Left Guard, But Isn't Sharing
The competition for starting left guard isn’t over, but a starter for Week 1 has been determined. Just don’t expect to find out who it is until the Ravens take the field in Miami.
“We're not going to share that information,” Harbaugh said. “Why would we? What would be the advantage for us to do that?”
The contenders for the job are veteran James Hurst, second-year player Bradley Bozeman and rookies Ben Powers and Patrick Mekari.
The Ravens don’t want to give the Dolphins any help with their scouting. There’s always an element of surprise in Week 1, and the Ravens have to deal with that considering Miami has a new head coach in Brian Flores, a former defensive play-caller of the New England Patriots.
Baltimore has a lot of surprises as well with a rebuilt offense, and Harbaugh will look to maintain any advantage he can before kicking off the season.
Just because the Ravens have picked their Week 1 starting left guard doesn’t mean that won’t change. Harbaugh said last week that there’s a difference between a starter and an “established starter.” Baltimore will continue to use games and practice to evaluate their options.
Harbaugh Sheds Light on Defensive Linemen Decision
One of the more noteworthy decisions the Ravens made for their 53-man roster was to keep five defensive linemen, which is fewer than they traditionally hold onto.
Baltimore parted ways with fourth-year defensive tackle Willie Henry and second-year defensive end Zach Sieler, who returned to the practice squad Sunday. Henry wasn’t claimed off waivers and is a free agent.
Harbaugh said there was no “real factor” in the decision, and they simply kept the players that played the best.
“Five is not a low number,” he said. “We usually go a little heavy in the D-line, to be honest with you, especially with the way the game is being played now. You don’t really see too much base-defense anymore. It’s less than 20 percent.”
Ravens Hoping to Get Turnovers Off ‘Swashbuckler’ Ryan Fitzpatrick
Flores named veteran Ryan Fitzpatrick as the Dolphins’ starter last Thursday, but the Ravens are hoping to put a lid on the return of any “FitzMagic”’ this Sunday.
Fitzpatrick was the buzz of the NFL at the start of last season. He got his former team, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, off to a 2-0 start by topping 400 passing yards in each game with eight touchdowns to just one interception.
But “Fitzmagic” started to lose its shine in Week 3 against Pittsburgh. Fitzpatrick again topped 400 passing yards and threw three touchdowns, but he also tossed three interceptions. In his last two games as the Bucs’ starter, Fitzpatrick threw five interceptions and no touchdowns and was replaced by Jameis Winston.
Fitzpatrick has a pretty good track record against the Ravens, as Harbaugh pointed out. In six games, Fitzpatrick has a 4-2 record and has tossed five touchdowns to two interceptions.
Harbaugh said he was not at all surprised that the Dolphins chose Fitzpatrick, who beat out Josh Rosen, to be their starter.
“He’s always played well against us if you go back and look at it, so we have nothing but respect for Ryan Fitzpatrick. He’s been good. He’s proven. He’s had a lot of big games,” Harbaugh said.
“He’s a little bit of a swashbuckler, I would say. He’s not afraid to throw it in there, run around. He tries to make plays. Every single play, he tries to make a play out of [it]. A lot of times he does, sometimes he doesn’t. Sometimes he hurts them. We’re hoping we’re able to cause that and do some damage that way.”