If teams are going to target Patrick Queen in pass coverage, he is committed to making them pay.
Queen is having an excellent season as a rookie starter at inside linebacker, but Sunday night's game against the New England Patriots was not his best performance.
During the 23-17 defeat, Queen was beaten on a trick play, a 24-yard touchdown pass from wide receiver Jakobi Meyers to running back Rex Burkhead. Queen hesitated for a split second when Burkhead swung out of the backfield, giving Meyers a window to loft a perfect pass over Queen's head and into Burkhead's arms.
Meanwhile, the Patriots also had success running the ball, and Queen missed on a couple tackles he normally makes. It was a learning experience, but he's determined not to lose confidence.
"It comes with being a rookie," Queen said. "I was going to get tested regardless; no matter if I was playing good coverage this whole year, or not. This year, so far, my coverage has been a little bit shaky. So, it's something that I need to improve on. I know that teams are going to keep trying me on it. So, just everyday I'm going to come in and keep trying to improve on the stuff that I'm getting tested on."
The Ravens will need a strong defensive effort Sunday against the Tennessee Titans, led by star running back Derrick Henry. Baltimore's tackling and physicality will be tested, and Queen is looking forward to the challenge.
Queen said he experimented last week with lining a bit further back from the line of scrimmage to give himself more time to diagnose plays. He said it worked well for the most part, but he needs to play with more force.
"I just have to be more physical when I come downhill," said Queen, who leads the team in tackles with 61. "That's the bottom line; just be physical and that will take care of everything else.
"I found myself trying to be more right than more physical. I felt like that just kind of threw me off a little bit. Like I said, I have to go back to the old me – just coming downhill, playing physical [and] playing my style of ball. Everybody knows that I was that type of guy in college, and that's what really helped me get where I'm at. When an opportunity is thrown my way, I'm just going to take full advantage of it and go back to the old me."
Queen wasn't with the Ravens last season when they were eliminated from the playoffs by Tennessee, but the importance of the game is obvious with both teams coming off a defeat and fighting to reach the postseason.
"We all know what's at stake with this game," Queen said. "We know what happened last year, and we know that nobody wants that to happen again."
Return of Fort Would Lift Defense
Inside linebacker L.J. Fort (finger) has missed the last two games, which has been a loss for the inside linebacker group. While Malik Harrison and Chris Board have done well with extra playing time, getting Fort back in the lineup would be a boost to the defense getting ready for Henry. Fort returned to practice as a full participant on Wednesday.
"Anytime you can get to a full rotation and have all your people there, it helps," Defensive Coordinator Wink Martindale said. "L.J. played really well last year against Tennessee. I'm expecting him to do the same this week. You got your full bullpen if you will."
Roman Says Dez Bryant is Making Strides
Veteran wide receiver Dez Bryant did not get called up from the practice squad against the Patriots after playing two snaps Week 9 against the Indianapolis Colts. But Offensive Coordinator Greg Roman said Bryant has looked good in practice, which could result in a larger role at some point.
"Dez is doing a good job," Roman said. "He's really getting caught up, he's working hard at practice. It's good to have him aboard. We'll see where that leads moving forward. I don't think there's any real timeline right now. I do think if Dez keeps progressing he will definitely become a factor in what we do."
Ravens Doesn't Regret Call on Wildcat Play
A crucial play that hurt the Ravens on Sunday came on fourth-and-1 play when Matt Skura made an errant snap to Mark Ingram II, who was lined up in the Wildcat formation. Considering the wet conditions and with Jackson on their side, some have questioned whether that was a good call for the situation, but Roman is not second-guessing the decision.
"When things don't work out, you always say, 'Geez, maybe I could've done something different,'" Roman said. "I had full confidence in those guys to execute. That's a play we practice quite a bit. Unfortunately that was a play that we had a bad snap on. It is what it is. We need to correct it and move on."