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Late for Work 8/14: Preseason Opener Shakes Up Pundits' Roster Predictions

QB Tyler Huntley
QB Tyler Huntley

How the Ravens' Preseason Opener Moved Roster Predictions

After the Ravens' 20-19 preseason opener win over the Eagles, many pundits are pointing to the way quarterback Tyler Huntley produced to begin the second half as a reason for the victory; for that reason and his performance, many are saying Huntley extended the gap between him and veteran Josh Johnson for the No. 2 quarterback role in Baltimore.

At the beginning of training camp, ESPN’s Jamison Hensley predicted that Johnson would win the job to be Lamar Jackson's backup. Now, Hensley has Huntley firmly in the lead.

"Tyler Huntley strengthened his grip on the Ravens' No. 2 quarterback job with an effective cameo appearance," Hensley wrote. "Huntley produced more passing yards in two drives (88) than Josh Johnson had for the entire first half (45). The Ravens looked more fluid with Huntley's mobility. He completed 8 of 11 passes and ran for 13 yards."

Baltimore Positive’s Luke Jones: "Outperforming Josh Johnson so far this summer, Tyler Huntley continued that in the preseason opener despite the 37-year-old getting the start. Recovered from last year's shoulder problems, Huntley is throwing with more zip and confidence."

The Baltimore Banner's Jonas Shaffer: "With Tyler Huntley at the helm in the second half, it was a smoother operation. The Ravens averaged an impressive 6.9 yards per play in 11 personnel in the third quarter, highlighted by their other touchdown, a 10-yard pass to wide receiver Tylan Wallace."

Huntley played two series on Saturday before leaving due to injury. According to reports, Huntley suffered a hamstring tweak that is not considered serious.

Zrebiec made other changes to his Ravens roster prediction after Saturday's game.

He now has rookie running back Keaton Mitchell making the cut over veteran Melvin Gordon III. Gordon ran six times for 16 yards while Mitchell had six carries for 11 yards, but also had a 35-yard touchdown nullified by a holding penalty.

"Gordon has looked good in training camp and showed some juice in the preseason opener," Zrebiec wrote. "But Mitchell's speed, elusiveness and return ability make him an intriguing prospect. With Dobbins and Edwards eligible for free agency after the season, it makes more sense to keep a younger back."

Zrebiec also has veteran cornerback Kevon Seymour making the team and safety Daryl Worley off. They also both had strong preseason openers, but Zrebiec has Worley on the bubble at safety now instead of making it as a cornerback.

Zrebiec said the toughest call was "not finding a spot for Ar'Darius Washington, who would provide depth in the slot and at safety. Seymour, though, is better on special teams and can play outside, where the Ravens don't have a ton of healthy options at the moment.

"[Worley] is a smart, physical and energetic veteran with corner and safety versatility and extensive special teams experience."

Pundit Stock Reports Following Preseason Exhibition vs. Eagles

Following every preseason game comes analysis and opinion on which players benefitted or stumbled. Here's who made the lists after Saturday's game:

WRZay Flowers – Up

The Baltimore Sun’s Brian Wacker: "Flowers, the 22nd overall pick in this year's draft, was only in for a few plays but made a significant impact. Specifically, he drew a holding penalty and an illegal hands to the face call that helped move the Ravens down the field on their only touchdown drive of the first half. He also caught a pass from Johnson behind the line of scrimmage and gained just a yard on the play, but he made a nice juke move in the process, living up to his 'Joystick' nickname."

CBS Sports’ Jeff Kerr: "Flowers gave Eagles cornerback Josh Jobe and safety Justin Evans all they could handle in the first quarter, as he demonstrated what a weapon he can be for Lamar Jackson in the slot or the outside. The Ravens' first-round pick just burned Evans on an out route that would have been a touchdown if Evans didn't hold him. Jobe had an illegal use of hands penalty on a route by Flowers that would have resulted in a first down."

CB Kevon Seymour – Up

Baltimore Beatdown’s Zach Canter: "While Marlon Humphrey has been the top dog and Jalyn Armour-Davis is pushing Rock Ya-Sin for the spot behind Humphrey, the other noticeable storyline out of the cornerbacks has been Kevon Seymour's consistent and good play. While in previous seasons he's been primarily a special teamer, he's now pushing for a more prominent defensive role. That was proven in the first preseason game when Seymour didn't allow a catch all game. When a receiver did get their hands on a ball finally, it was only because there was offensive pass interference."

OLB Malik Hamm – Up

The Baltimore Banner's Aron Yohannes: "Playing in the stadium he grew up dreaming of playing in, Hamm recorded the first sack of his NFL career in the third quarter when he took down the Eagles' Tanner McKee. The rookie from Lafayette showed a vicious spin move that beat the Eagles right tackle to collapse McKee in the pocket. Hamm finished with two quarterback hits, a tackle for loss and a pass deflection. Hamm has been one of the Ravens' undrafted talents making a name for himself."

OLB David Ojabo – Uneven

Jones: "David Ojabo had one tackle in 20 snaps, but he got caught crashing inside on a couple occasions, one of those leading to Marcus Mariota's 14-yard scramble on a third-and-13 on the opening drive. He's still learning, but there's much to like."

The Baltimore Sun’s Childs Walker: "Ojabo was on the field for most of the first quarter, springing off the snap and showing active hands — without any production to show for it — when he rushed from the outside but struggling to stand his ground as a run defender."

Raven Country’s Geoff Magiochetti: "It was far from perfect, but if mistakes from effort are the worst-case scenario for Ojabo, that's an issue management can easily live with."

Free Agent Jadeveon Clowney Visiting Jaguars

The Ravens reportedly brought in edge rusher Jadeveon Clowney for a visit last week as they look for ways to add talent to a young outside linebacker room. According to CBS Sports’ Josina Anderson, the Ravens offered Clowney a contract that he is "taking some time to think it through."

Now, Clowney is finding interest elsewhere as the Jacksonville Jaguars brought him in for a visit on Sunday.

Baltimore Beatdown’s Frank Platko says Clowney heading to Baltimore over Jacksonville would be a "significant acquisition for Baltimore, as they're in need of depth and experience at the edge rusher position."

However, if Clowney heads elsewhere, Platko sees the team pivoting to a player they brought in for a visit earlier this offseason.

"If Clowney signs with the Jaguars or another team, the Ravens may likely pivot to another veteran free agent option," he wrote. "They previously hosted Kyle Van Noy on a visit before Clowney and he remains unsigned, so that remains a possible option as well."

Either way, Walker says the Ravens need an edge rusher.

"Even if Ojabo is the answer as an edge rusher, the Ravens probably need a sturdy defender to take on the 30-to-40 snaps per game veteran Jason Pierre-Paul played down the stretch last season," Walker wrote.

Flowers Is All Baltimore After Signing with Under Armour

Get ready to see more Flowers around the city. No, not roses. Billboards of the Ravens' rookie.

As if Flowers couldn't be more likable for the Ravens fan base, the smiling receiver has another thing to grin over after signing a two-year endorsement deal with Baltimore-based Under Armour.

According to The Baltimore Banner's Kris Rhim, Flowers chose Under Armour over Nike, Adidas and Battle.

"When I got to Baltimore, I saw how deep rooted Under Armour's ties here were. … It's exactly how I want to be viewed. Baltimore through and through." Flowers wrote in a statement. "I have a great team around me that was able to put the partnership together and am just excited to know Under Armour believes in me."

Quick Hits

·       Offensive tackle Daniel Faalele, who played all 65 offensive snaps, earned the highest PFF grade, per PFF’s Trevor Sikkema. "He finished the game with a 74.1 initial overall grade from a 77.7 pass-blocking grade and 71.9 run-blocking grade," Sikkema wrote. "He played both right and left tackle and did not give up any pressure on the night."

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