Minor Injuries May Force Ravens to Add a Wide Receiver
Minor injuries have begun to whittle away at the depth of Baltimore's wide receiver unit, a position the Ravens are thinner at than most areas on the roster.
With the news of wide receivers Tylan Wallace and James Proche II expected to miss time, along with Bailey Gaither and Slade Bolden also missing the first preseason game, The Athletic's Jeff Zrebiec believes the Ravens have "no choice" but to add a veteran wide receiver.
Zrebiec followed up by naming a few wide receivers on the market, including Will Fuller, Emmanuel Sanders, Cole Beasley and T.Y. Hilton, and believes the Ravens "are surely considering their options."
"The Ravens have four weeks before they open the regular season against the New York Jets," Zrebiec wrote. "Harbaugh made it sound like both Proche and Wallace won't be out long, so their readiness for Week 1 doesn't feel in jeopardy yet. Still, the recent injury hits at the position should be a reminder of how thin the team is at wide receiver. In terms of proven depth, it is nonexistent."
The Ravens have been long linked to veteran wide receivers this offseason and with reportedly $9.5 million in cap space have the spending power to add another weapon for Lamar Jackson. One option they've been linked to is Fuller, who reportedly has intentionally been waiting to join a team.
Tyler Huntley Could Outplay His Backup Role
On Thursday, quarterback Tyler Huntley once again led the Ravens to victory in the preseason. In one half, the offense led by Huntley scored 14 points against the Tennessee Titans in a game that ended 23-10. He completed 16-of-18 passes for 109 yards and a touchdown, earning a 110.4 quarterback rating. His play in the preseason is once again garnering the attention of others who believe he should be a starter in the NFL.
Along with his efficient night, Huntley's also demonstrated he can handle the pressure of the regular season. Last year, Huntley went toe-to-toe against the Green Bay Packers and Aaron Rodgers, going 28-for-40 for 215 yards and two touchdowns passing, and adding another 73 yards and two touchdowns on the ground.
In the NFL, there is always a team looking to land their next starting quarterback and if Huntley continues to produce eye-catching stats with impressive touch passes like his touchdown to wide receiver Shemar Bridges, a team or two just might be calling Ravens General Manager Eric DeCosta with a trade offer.
Whether the Ravens would even consider trading Jackson's backup is another question.
Isaiah Likely Impresses as a Pass Catcher, But Run Blocking Needs Improvement
There has been high praise for rookie tight end Isaiah Likely throughout training camp, with tight end Mark Andrews saying Likely has "a little bit of me in him" and Jackson calling him "baby Mark." Against the Titans, Likely demonstrated why.
Many expressed what they liked from Likely's receiving game, but all recognized his blocking will need to improve.
Russell Street Report’s Tony Lombardi
"Isaiah Likely was a hero and a goat all in the same half. Likely had 4 catches for 44 yards including a key first down to move the chains in the red zone on the Ravens first scoring drive. He later made a spectacular catch in traffic for a gain of 22 yards. On the downside he was called for two holding penalties, both stalling drives."
The Baltimore Sun’s Jonas Shaffer
"Defenses understand what players do best. As offensive coordinator Greg Roman said last week, 'You've got to try to make the players as well-rounded as possible, so you can kind of mask any tendencies.' And for as much as Likely offers as a receiver (four catches for 40 yards), there's still a lot of room for improvement as a blocker. In the first half, he didn't get any push on an end-around for Wallace. On another carry by running back Justice Hill, he seemed to leave his defender after a quick engagement. Likely was also twice flagged for holding penalties that nullified first downs. (On the second, Hill seemed to bounce outside unexpectedly, leaving Likely's position somewhat compromised.)"
Baltimore Beatdown’s Dustin Cox
"The fourth-round pick out of Coastal Carolina caught four passes for 44 yards, including an impressive contested grab over a defender. Likely also displayed elusiveness after the catch by shaking a defender to pick up the first down. Baltimore looks to have hit on a small-school prospect to pair with All-Pro tight end Mark Andrews. Likely will have to continue to work on his blocking, however, as two holding penalties led to stalled drives."
"If you watched the game, you certainly see why the Ravens have been so impressed with fourth-round tight end Isaiah Likely. He had four catches for 44 yards. He went up over Tennessee linebacker Chance Campbell to make a 22-yard catch, the type of play you often see Andrews make…You also saw what Likely needs to work on. Twice, he was called for holding penalties, wiping away nice first-down gains. The Ravens didn't draft Likely to block, but he'll at least need to be competent in that area in this offense to regularly be on the field. He'll learn. He's a talented young player and could turn out to be a Day 3 steal."
Ravens Have a 'Special Rookie' in Jordan Stout
Among the many rookie debuts for the Ravens last night, punter Jordan Stout may have had the best showing. On four punts, Stout averaged 47.8 yards, and knocked one inside the 20-yard line. NFL.com’s Grant Gordon believes the "Ravens have a special rookie."
"With all the pomp and circumstance that accompanied Matt Araiza into the draft process, it was surprising to some when the Ravens used a fourth-round pick to make Jordan Stout the first punter taken in the 2022 NFL Draft," Gordon wrote. "Stout's showing Thursday was an example of just why a club known for its special teams prowess pounced on Stout. He was booming punts and kickoffs throughout the Ravens' NFL-record 21st straight preseason win… The long-locked, scruffy-bearded Penn State product is going to tilt the field in the Ravens' favor plenty of times to come."
Many others chimed in during the game with their reaction to Stout's punting.
While punting is the punter's primary job, holding for Justin Tucker has the masses paying direct attention to Stout during field goal attempts. After Tucker finished a perfect 3-for-3 on the night, hitting from 25, 47 and 47 yards out, many are seeing a smooth transition from Sam Koch to Stout.