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50 Words or Less: No Holes on Ravens Roster, Only Questions

From left: OLB Jadeveon Clowney, OLB Odafe Oweh, OLB David Ojabo
From left: OLB Jadeveon Clowney, OLB Odafe Oweh, OLB David Ojabo

Training camp is always a busy time, but this week was especially chaotic in Baltimore. To recap:

  • Monday – J.K. Dobbins took the field for the first time this summer
  • Tuesday – The first of two days of intense joint practices with Washington Commanders
  • Wednesday – Marlon Humphrey underwent foot surgery
  • Thursday – Ravens signed cornerback Ronald Darby
  • Friday – Ravens signed outside linebacker Jadeveon Clowney

With that in mind, here are my thoughts, all in 50 words or less:

1. The two holes we all talked about on the Ravens' roster were addressed with the Clowney and Darby signings. The Darby addition was necessitated by Humphrey's surgery, but if we're looking long-term, the Ravens now have sufficient cornerback depth. Clowney takes some pressure off Odafe Oweh and David Ojabo.

2. The reported financial details on Clowney and Darby's one-year deals are base salaries of $2.5 million and $1.75 million, respectively. Two accomplished players at positions of need for $4.25 million seems like right price. If they can stay healthy, they'll be right players too. They're both super talented.

3. Question marks remain at cornerback. Coming off his ACL, can Darby start if needed with just 22 days till the season opener? He looked good in his first practice. Will Rock Ya-Sin and Jalyn Armour-Davis have enough runway to get ready? Can the Ravens hold down the fort without Humphrey?

4. Maybe Clowney hasn't met the expectations that come with being a No. 1-overall pick, but he's had a very successful NFL career. A three-time Pro Bowler, Clowney has run hot and cold. The Ravens are hoping that a reunion with coaches Anthony Weaver and Chuck Smith gets him hot again.

5. The Ravens signed Jason Pierre-Paul in late September last season. He played 60% of the defensive snaps and registered three sacks in 14 games. I'm going to predict Clowney plays a similar role but has more production. Four years younger, Clowney has more tread on his tires.

6. The biggest question remaining at outside linebacker is who plays SAM. While Clowney often lines up over the right tackle, he's not known for dropping into coverage. That's Tyus Bowser's forte, but he hasn't practiced yet. Perhaps signing Clowney over Kyle Van Noy indicates the Ravens’ confidence in Bowser’s knee.

7. Two of the top competitions entering camp have clear leaders at this point. John Simpson has made a strong case to be the starting left guard. Tyler Huntley has snatched pole position at backup quarterback. The best battles now: cornerback/safety, No. 4 running back, and No. 6 wide receiver.

8. The Ravens now have 16 first-round picks on the roster. I don't know if that's the most in the NFL but it's a lot (18% of the roster). Eric DeCosta has an affinity for high upside players with elite traits, and trust that the coaches can bring them to bear.

9. Lamar Jackson has a collection of fast wide receivers who can beat defenses over the top. Odell Beckham Jr. is showing that kind of speed again and Rashod Bateman's return adds more. A critical piece to the offense unlocking its potential is Jackson dialing in his deep ball.

10. Like Bateman, J.K. Dobbins returned to team drills on Friday. For all the hubbub about Dobbins this offseason, his arrival at practice went just as expected. Smiles all around, a hug from John Harbaugh, and down to business. All that consternation instantly evaporated. He'll be ready to go.

11. Watching the Ravens' defensive linemen/outside linebackers battle the Commanders' offensive line during 1-on-1 drills Wednesday was a display of machismo filled with skirmishes, slammed helmets, trash talk, and more. There are some dawgs in this Ravens front seven. They won't be pushed around by anybody.

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