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5 Things We Learned During Ravens Minicamp

TE Mark Andrews
TE Mark Andrews

The Ravens' offseason practices are in the books, and there have been many lessons learned.

As a refresher, here's what we learned from Week 1, Week 2, and Week 3 of OTAs.

And now, here are the takeaways from Ravens minicamp:

Baltimore's defense is going to be aggressive … and good.

For those wondering how Zach Orr's defense is going to differ from Mike Macdonald's, we may have gotten the best clue this week during minicamp when Orr was lighting up the Ravens offense with an onslaught of blitzes.

"We're seeing a lot of exotic looks and a lot of pressures from Zach and his crew, and it's good for us too," Quarterbacks Coach Tee Martin said.

The Ravens blitzed 22% of the time last season, which was the fifth-lowest percentage in the league. They still led the league with 60 sacks, so the strategy worked out.

Baltimore isn't going to get blitz-happy under Orr, but it wouldn't be surprising to see the first-year coordinator and former linebacker turn up the pressure more often. Ravens players, including Roquan Smith, seem to be on board judging by their yells from the sideline during practice.

"He was an aggressive player, so I think that's what you're going to want to see him be as a coordinator, is be aggressive," outside linebacker Kyle Van Noy said. "But, he's also really smart – very, very smart."

Lamar Jackson and the offense are sharpening their pre-snap weapons.

The Ravens are putting more on Lamar Jackson’s plate in Year 2 with Offensive Coordinator Todd Monken and one focus is with pre-snap cadence and play adjustment.

That was of course part of the offensive arsenal last year, but the Ravens are sharpening it more now that they have graduated from Monken 101. It's time for Jackson to take even more control of the offense and get into better plays based on what he sees at the line of scrimmage.

"For this offseason, from a protection standpoint, being able to change routes at the line of scrimmage, being able to change run schemes, it takes him understanding how we're blocking things up front to get us to the best run and the best pass for whatever coverage we're facing," Martin said.

"He's accepted it and done a heck of a job of getting us into the right play, and today was probably the best day in a long time of him really just having the freedom to do what he wants to do, and we saw some really good plays and some positive gains with him doing that today."

The Ravens' use of more cadence changes at the line of scrimmage has resulted in more false starts, but that's what practice is for, and Baltimore believes that work will pay off in games by keeping defenses more off-balance and with offsides penalties.

061324 Lounge

625: Takeaways From Ravens Minicamp

Our insiders, Ryan Mink and Garrett Downing, share their takes on the progression of the offense and defense, Lamar Jackson's newest project, who they project to start on the offensive line, and which players stood out most this week.

The projected starting offensive line is still anyone's guess.

Head Coach John Harbaugh said he would like to know what his starting offensive line will be "the earlier the better."

Judging by all the movement with different players at different positions during minicamp, it looks like the Ravens were still more in the experimentation phase in the most important competition on the team.

Ben Cleveland seemed like the leader at right guard, but Daniel Faalele moved over from right tackle to right guard in minicamp. Andrew Vorhees has been a left guard and center. Veteran free-agent addition Josh Jones has also bounced around.

The Ravens have three starting offensive line positions to sort out, and it doesn't appear that they are much, if at all, closer to settling it than they were at the start of OTAs. While that may be unsettling to fans, Head Coach John Harbaugh said the competition doesn't really start until training camp when the pads come on.

"I think they've done – all of those guys – have done what they needed to do, in terms of preparing for that [competition]," Harbaugh said. "But that'll happen in the first few weeks of training camp and then on into the preseason games. We'll see where we go."

Check out who stood out on the practice field during the Ravens' mandatory minicamp.

The Ravens' tight ends could lead the passing attack.

The change in Baltimore's wide receiver corps is the subtraction of Odell Beckham Jr. and addition of fourth-round rookie Devontez Walker. Baltimore is betting on the emergence of Rashod Bateman to help carry that unit.

Part of the personnel calculation may be that the Ravens can lean heavily on their tight end corps if they so choose. Baltimore's tight ends put on a clinic this week in minicamp.

Mark Andrews is a man possessed once again and looks fully recovered and fast after last year's leg injury. He'll be back in Pro Bowl form. Isaiah Likely looks like a player ready to become a household name in Year 3. He made jaw-dropping one-handed leaping catches in back-to-back practices. The most active pass-catcher on the entire team during minicamp may have been Charlie Kolar, who showed he's ready to contribute in more ways than just blocking.

Harbaugh said Likely is "going to be a big part of what we do," as they craft more ways to deploy both he and Andrews on the same play. Add in Kolar, and the Ravens have a three-headed monster that the offense could run through.

Baltimore's defensive line will be sneaky scary.

The Ravens' defensive line has flown under the radar because there haven't been any subtractions or major additions, but it will be one of the team's strongest position groups.

Re-signing Justin Madubuike to a long-term extension was Baltimore's biggest move of the offseason, and the Ravens believe he can get even better after posting a career-high 13 sacks last year. Madubuike was very disruptive throughout OTAs and minicamp.

The advancements of third-year defensive tackle Travis Jones and improvements of Broderick Washington are what could take this group to the next level. Jones has dropped some weight, and Washington flashed in the backfield a few times during minicamp.

Veteran Michael Pierce hasn't practiced much this offseason, but assuming he's healthy, he's going to be a dominant force anchoring the middle of the line once again. The Ravens have a lot depth and talent in their defensive trenches.

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