As the Baltimore Ravens inch closer to the beginning of the regular season, it is time to take a closer look at three key questions that have come up through camp.
No.1: Marquise Brown
This is more of a situation than a pure question, but Marquise Brown recently sustained an injury in camp. He will be held out for “a bit,” which will open up snaps for other receivers. However, if Brown is out too long, it would bleed into the regular season. It is one thing for the likes of rookie Rashod Bateman or Tylan Wallace to get extra snaps in practice, but it is another thing entirely for a player of Brown’s caliber to start missing regular-season games. With Lamar Jackson still out due to COVID, the Ravens’ passing game is not off to a flying start in camp.
Brown is unlikely to miss much of the regular season, but his status is currently in doubt. Even if Brown works to return before Baltimore’s Week 1 game against the Las Vegas Raiders, he would have to knock off the rust from missing about a month of practice. Ideally, Brown could return beforehand and have a normal ramp-up to the regular season. Without Brown, the load of the passing offense shifts even more onto the shoulders of Mark Andrews and the aforementioned rookie wide receivers.
No.2: What role will Odafe Oweh play early in 2021?
By all accounts of early camp returns, Odafe Oweh has been the best player on the Baltimore defense. He has been terrific against the run, and he has been electric off the edge in pass-rush situations. While he is coming off of a college season in which he failed to record a sack, Oweh has unteachable physical tools. For example, Oweh ran a sub-4.4-second 40-yard dash, one of the fastest an edge has ever run. While pure speed may not be a strong indicator of future production, Oweh has all the tools to be a productive player from Week 1.
The Ravens have a crowded edge room, but there is not an alpha. Tyus Bowser is likely the best of the group, but he is more of a jack-of-all-trades player than a star pass rusher. Justin Houston is the closest thing the Ravens have to a star pass rusher, but he is coming off a significant drop in his number of pressures in 2020. Throw in Jaylon Ferguson and Pernell McPhee and the Ravens have four other edges who could begin the season ahead of Oweh on the depth chart at either edge role. Additionally, rookie Daelin Hayes is competing for snaps. As impressive as Oweh has been so far in camp, it remains to be seen if it translates to the regular season.
No.3: How quickly will Bateman become the unquestioned WR1 in Baltimore?
Bateman had the highlight of early-season camp as he burned former All-Pro Marlon Humphrey on a go route. He used a false step at the line of scrimmage, forcing Humphrey to overcommit to grass that was no longer occupied by Bateman as he blew by and hauled in the rainbow pass. While yes, this is from practice, and Humphrey is not necessarily in game form yet, it is certainly an encouraging anecdote from camp so far.
On a more consistent basis, Bateman has been the best route runner in camp. He has been borderline unguardable at times, blistering through the Ravens’ cornerback room. Again, the offense is likely ahead of the defense in terms of their preparation, but it is encouraging to see. While Jackson has yet to appear at camp, Bateman has developed a solid rapport with both Tyler Huntley and Trace McSorley. The Ravens do not want to test this rapport in any meaningful games, but Bateman’s day-in and day-out consistency is a welcome sight to the league’s No.32 passing attack from 2020. As soon as Jackson and Bateman get on the field together, there should be fireworks.
Baltimore is days away from its first preseason game, so some storylines will continue to develop throughout August.
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