Rookie Class Needs To 'Make More Plays' In Second Half

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The Ravens knew coming into the season they would rely heavily on this year's rookie class.

They drafted players at positions of need to fill key holes on the roster, and after the first half of the season, members of the rookie class stress they need to step up down the stretch.

"Obviously it's not good enough," defensive tackle Carl Davis said. "We're 2-6. We are rookies, but we all can contribute. They brought us all in for a reason here and that's to make plays. We have to make some more plays and try to make an impact the second half [as a reason] why we win more games."

The first eight games have been a mixed bag for the newcomers.

Davis has played an important role as a rotational defensive linemen. Tight ends Maxx Williams and Nick Boyle have both started games and come up with some important late-game catches. Outside linebacker Za'Darius Smith has a pair of sacks. Reserve running back Buck Allen has come on strong recently.

But the overall view of the group is marred by the fact that first-round pick Breshad Perriman hasn't taken a snap since the first day of training camp because of a knee injury. Sixth-round receiver Darren Waller (hamstring) also landed on injured reserve and the team cut fifth-round offensive linemen Robert Myers out of training camp.

The Ravens now need the healthy rookies to elevate their play.

"A lot of rookies are playing, and that's why they drafted us – pick us up, come in, learn the system and play right away," Allen said. "We have to take advantage of our opportunities whenever we're out there on the field."

To make a big difference in the second half, the Ravens need the rookies to play more consistently and also come up with more impact plays. No rookie has scored a touchdown or forced a turnover yet. 

"I have to find the end zone soon," Allen said. "I've been so close. It's coming. It gets to me just thinking about it. I just feel like I have to work harder and harder, which I don't mind doing at all. But when that time comes [for the first touchdown], you best believe I'm going to enjoy it."

Part of the challenge for the rookies is that they often spend the first several games of their career just trying to tread water. The jump from the college game to the NFL is steep, and several of them talked about how they are now getting a full grasp of what it means to be a pro.

"It takes time," Williams said. "You have to really know how to study football. You have to really know how to watch film. You have to understand the game. You have to study your opponent. You have to understand what the offense is and what you have to do. And you have to go to work every day."

The next step for them is to withstand the physical rigors of the professional game. They already have 12 games under their belt including the preseason – a full year by college standards – and they have to avoid running out of gas over the next two months.

"Everyone keeps talking about that rookie wall," Williams said. "I don't feel like I've hit the rookie wall and I don't think anyone else has either. I'm just going to keep doing what I've been doing. I'm going to go into work, work hard every day, and hopefully that wall never comes."

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