In their quest to improve offensively, the Ravens are in need of more big plays.
Baltimore enters Week 11 averaging 5.5 yards per play to rank 21st in the NFL, compared to last season when the Ravens averaged 6.1 yards per play and ranked third. In the passing game, the Ravens averaged 10.4 yards per completion to rank 20th, compared to 11.2 yards per completion last season when they ranked 11th.
Sunday's 23-17 loss to the New England Patriots snapped a streak of 31 straight games in which the Ravens had scored at least 20 points, which was an NFL record. The long passes and runs that were a major part of the last year's attack have not been as prevalent.
"We want more big plays, for sure," Head Coach John Harbaugh said. "We want catch-and-run plays. We took numerous opportunities to try to throw the ball deep in that game, and none of them really happened in terms of the deep throws. So, you just have to keep working on it and try to make it happen. If we can make some big plays in the passing game, that would be huge for us."
The primary deep threat for the Ravens is second-year wide receiver Marquise "Hollywood" Brown, who has been held to just six catches for 55 yards over the last three games. Brown was targeted six times Sunday and finished with two catches for 14 yards. He was cut off on one early deep attempt on a double move, and another deep shot attempted to Brown resulted in an interception just before halftime with the Ravens already in field goal range.
Jackson believes his connection with Brown will click. They are close friends who work out together during the offseason. To Jackson, it's only a matter of time until more big plays to Brown and others materialize.
"Just keep shooting my shot. Keep giving him an opportunity," Jackson said. "That's all. We're going to be good. For sure."
Harbaugh Addresses Offensive Line Continuity, Versatility
Injuries have forced the offensive line to make major adjustments, with Ronnie Stanley out for the season and Tyre Phillips (ankle) on the injured list. However, the Ravens are not looking for excuses and will spend this week looking for answers.
"You'd rather have your five guys locked in from the beginning," Harbaugh said. "There's no question about it. I don't think there's too many teams that have had that this year. I'm sure that the teams that have had that have had the least issues, probably the most success.
"That's something that would be a valuable. We don't have that right now. But we have enough players to be successful, guys that want to play, work hard and have been here. So just go to work."
D.J. Fluker started at right tackle Sunday night, but he was replaced by Patrick Mekari, who moved over from right guard. Ben Powers came off the bench to finish at right guard.
In his second season with the Ravens, Mekari has already seen game action at center, right guard and right tackle. The Ravens have not revealed their starting offensive line for Sunday's game against the Tennessee Titans, but Mekari's ability to play multiple positions gives Baltimore added flexibility.
"Pat's a really good player, very versatile," Harbaugh said. "It's one of his best strengths. Nobody works harder than Pat Mekari. He understands what we're doing, he can play any position on the offensive line. Very proud of what he did. That was a big benefit for us in the game."
Jackson said he isn't worried about the unit that will block for him Sunday, regardless of who plays.
"I'm confident in our line, 100 percent confident," Jackson said. "We got those NFL linemen for a reason. They want to win games, I know that for a fact. Just have to keep it going."
Madubuike Playing Important Role as Rookie
Neither Calais Campbell (calf) or Brandon Williams (ankle) practiced Wednesday, meaning rookie defensive tackle Justin Madubuike could see plenty of action Sunday. Madubuike has been playing with force, and says the advice he has gotten from Williams, Campbell and veteran defensive tackle Justin Ellis has been valuable.
"All those guys have helped me throughout the process of being a rookie, showing me the ropes," Madubuike said. "Coming from college to the pros, it's different. You're just really getting the gist of the schemes, the O-line the way they block things. So you have to stay square with violent hands and feet, all those things I feel I'm getting better every week but I still have a lot of work to do."
The Ravens asked first-round pick Patrick Queen to be an instant impact player, but the injuries have thrust Madubuike into a more prominent role. Madubuike said he didn't worry about how much he would play this year. He focused on being ready for his opportunity.
"I thought of it more as me just being myself and contributing to this defense as much as I can," Madubuike said. "It's whatever I have to do to help this team win. Brandon and Calais are great parts of our defense. It's a standard here with the Ravens and it's a next man up. We're all equipped to handle any situation on defense when a guy goes down."
Luke Willson Joins Ravens For First Practice
Veteran tight end Luke Willson, who was signed to the practice squad Tuesday, took the field for his first practice with the team Wednesday.
Harbaugh did not rule out the possibility of Willson being active for Sunday's game. The season-ending injury to Nick Boyle left Mark Andrews as the only true tight end on the 53-man roster.
"We've got guys on the practice squad at tight end and other positions that certainly could come up," Harbaugh said. "I'll have to see how the week of practice goes. But I really like Luke. He's a guy that our personnel department knows really well, and of course we've played against him before so we know him a little bit. Good guy, experienced player. So that helps us. It's good to have a guy who's been out there before, knows how to play. We'll just have to see how he fits in with what we're doing."