Sun, 14 Aug 2022

Mailbag: Will Ravens Sign an Outside Linebacker

Baltimore Ravens
30 Jun 2022, 05:25 GMT+10

by Ryan Mink & Garrett Downing

Mink: The passing of Jaylon Ferguson is first and foremost a huge loss for non-football reasons. That's the biggest loss. On the field, it does leave a void at a position where the Ravens were already somewhat thin. Ferguson was off to a strong start this summer and seemed on his way to a bigger role.

Baltimore was already reportedly exploring the free-agent market, including bringing back Justin Houston and a visit with Jason Pierre-Paul. I think Ferguson's passing only amplifies their desire to add a veteran, but I don't think it means the Ravens will add two veterans.

Don't forget, Baltimore already added veteran Vince Biegel in free agency and he looked good in OTAs and minicamp. The Ravens also signed veteran Steven Means after a minicamp tryout. More will fall on the plate of some of the other young outside linebackers, including Daelin Hayes, who got off to a very strong start in OTAs and minicamp. Undrafted rookies Jeremiah Moon and Chuck Wiley are also players to keep an eye on because they'll push for a spot on the 53-man roster.

Downing: Tony Jefferson has been impressive since re-signing with the Ravens last year. It looked like his career might be over after the 2019 knee injury sidelined him for more than a year, and then he struggled to catch on with other teams. But Jefferson has made the most of his second chance in Baltimore, showing he still has gas left in the tank. Jefferson is a smart veteran player who spent most of the offseason practices working with the first-team defense. Safety might be the most crowded position group on the team after the offseason additions of Marcus Williams and Kyle Hamilton, but Jefferson has shown enough at this point that he's deserving of a spot on the 53-man roster.

Jefferson won't have a role where he gets 100 percent of the snaps like he did earlier in his career, especially with the depth the Ravens have at the position. New Defensive Coordinator Mike Macdonald has talked about utilizing players in a variety of roles, and that could mean Jefferson gets deployed as a versatile player in different situations. Jefferson will also need to have a role on special teams, which is something he embraces at this point of his career. He knows what it's like to have football taken away from him, so he'll do everything he can to find his way on the field.

Mink: It's too early to say. Head Coach John Harbaugh said the injured players "all have a chance" to return at the start of training camp, let alone the start of the season. But how good of a chance remains to be seen. Harbaugh gave an encouraging report on Ronnie Stanley, saying his ankle is "looking great" and that Stanley's mission now is to get into tip-top shape. On J.K. Dobbins and Gus Edwards, Harbaugh said knee injuries are "a little tougher to say" what the timetable for return will be, but that Dobbins already feels like he could be back on the field. Marcus Peters said earlier this offseason that he expects to be full strength for the start of training camp. We haven't heard any updates on Tyus Bowser and his Achilles, but he was walking just fine two months ago and has been at the Under Armour Performance Center rehabbing.

Downing: The Ravens are confident in their tight ends and have high expectations for that group. Rookies Isaiah Likely and Charlie Kolar can both make plays in the passing game, and Mark Andrews is already one of the best tight ends in the game. Offensive Coordinator Greg Roman will find opportunities to get multiple tight ends on the field at the same time, especially with Nick Boyle hopefully back to full strength this season. Roman runs a tight-end centric offense, which likely contributed to the team's decision to draft a pair of tight ends and no receivers.

With all that said, the Ravens aren't moving Likely or Kolar to wide receiver. The Ravens will count on their young receivers - Rashod Bateman, Devin Duvernay, James Proche II and Tylan Wallace - to handle the receiver job. Baltimore is confident in those players, and they are eager to prove themselves amidst all the questions about the group. It's still possible for the Ravens to add a receiver before the regular season, but if they don't, I wouldn't expect one of the rookie tight ends to take one of the receiver spots in the offense.

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