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Late for Work: Should Ravens 'Protect' Justin Tucker from New Kickoff Format?

K Justin Tucker
K Justin Tucker

Should Ravens Consider Options Other Than Justin Tucker for Kickoffs?

The NFL's implementation of the new kickoff has teams considering new strategies. Along with new pursuit angles and setups, some are considering a personnel change at kicker—both to protect their placekicker and add an extra tackler. The Kansas City Chiefs are among those as special teams coordinator Dave Toub is considering safety Justin Reid for kickoffs over Harrison Butker.

While Ravens kicker Justin Tucker said he's been in the weight room this offseason, NFL Network's Ian Rapoport expressed concern about having the most accurate kicker in NFL history lowering the shoulder.

"I mean, there are plenty of teams that have their punter be their kickoff specialist," Rapoport said. "… But it does really make you wonder. He is incredibly valuable. He wins games for them. He is a weapon. Kickoffs really have changed, and does it make sense to have him out there? I'm not sure if you can have someone just kick it sort of far. Get Justin Tucker back to the sidelines where he belongs until it's time to win the game or whatever."

If the Ravens do go a different route, punter Jordan Stout could be an option; he's younger, bigger and has experience as a kickoff specialist during his time at Penn State.

Head Coach John Harbaugh said Thursday that the staff will continue to explore options regarding their choice for handling kickoffs.

"I would say that we've thought about everything. It's just a matter of, 'Do you have a guy that can kick it in there consistently?' If you do, it probably is an advantage because you get an extra tackler in there, and you don't put your kicker at risk. So, I'd say we're looking at every aspect we can think of."

Can Zach Orr Continue Ravens' Defensive Dominance?

The Ravens are among the 16 teams with new defensive play callers in 2024 after promoting Zach Orr to defensive coordinator in February. The Athletic's Mike Jones gave one "pressing question" for the newcomers. He asks if Orr "can pick up where Mike Macdonald left off?"

"Orr, promoted from inside linebackers coach, must find a new impactful complement to Roquan Smith after Patrick Queen's departure for Pittsburgh in free agency," Jones wrote. "Orr has a deeper secondary than Baltimore fielded a year ago thanks to draft picks spent on cornerbacks Nate Wiggins (first round) and T.J. Tampa (fourth round) and safety Sanoussi Kane (seventh round). He also has a promising linebacker in third-round pick Adisa Isaac. Delivering a defense that complements Lamar Jackson's offense and positions the Ravens for a Super Bowl run is priority No. 1 for the rookie coordinator."

Jones noted the Ravens saw numerous defensive coaching departures, not limited to Macdonald.

"But Macdonald is now head coach of the Seahawks, and Baltimore also lost talented defensive assistants Anthony Weaver and Dennard Wilson to coordinator jobs with the Dolphins and Titans, respectively," Jones wrote.

Repeating as the NFL's best defense is no easy feat, but the Ravens have expressed the utmost confidence in Orr as a coach and coordinator.

UFL Star Reportedly Trying Out for Ravens Next Week

According to reports, the Baltimore Ravens are hosting D.C. Defenders defensive end Malik Fisher for a multi-day trout next week during minicamp.

Fisher, 25, has played the past two seasons in the XFL/UFL for the Defenders. In his second season, Fisher had a breakout year with 33 tackles, seven tackles for loss, seven sacks, one forced fumble, and a fumble recovery in the UFL's 10-game season. Fisher's seven sacks tied him for second-most in the UFL.

Before joining the then-XFL in 2023, Fisher played at Villanova from 2017-2021. In his senior season, Fisher totaled 49 tackles, four sacks, two forced fumbles, and an interception in 13 games.

Right Tackle Named Biggest Competition Entering Training Camp

Several starting roles are up for grabs for the Ravens this season after losing more than a dozen free agents in the offseason. But of the open spots, Bleacher Report’s Alex Ballentine finds the biggest competition being right tackle.

"The Ravens are losing three starters on the offensive line, but the right tackle opening is the most important one. It's also the one without a clear answer," Ballentine wrote. "The Ravens selected Roger Rosengarten in the second round, but he's going to have to prove he has enough play strength to get on the field. … If Rosengarten doesn't prove ready to start, the role would likely fall to Daniel Faalele or Josh Jones."

As of now, there's been no favorite to win the role. Throughout organized team activities, the Ravens have cycled through offensive line combinations with high frequency.

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